Did a little FFC shopping, for 100% cotton shirting so that I know what I'm getting. Wanted to get silk crepe de chine to make a slip that fits me better, but frankly I know I am not at the level where it makes sense to spend ~$40+ on lingerie fabric ... cotton voile will do for now. I was planning to use VeraVenus's free (1930s?) slip pattern, but that seems like a nightmare to fit to my body, so now I'm sucked into an Etsy whirlwind of vintage patterns, weighing better prices against closer sizing.
It was wonderfully cold and rainy, just like October. Something* smells musty in my apartment, and that's bad, but at the same time the smell means it isn't hot and I love that.
* I'm 95% sure it's the bolt of muslin I got from Sue, because it came out of her mother's storage/attic
I also cut out the yoke and flounces for a very ruffly '50s "Mexican-style" petticoat, and pinned the basic seams. The flounces are all circular, and like an idiot I cut the wider flounce circles all the way through instead of just halfway. ಠ_ಠ Right now my docket is looking like:
- finish 1850s dress
- make ruffly petticoat
- 1950s bathing suit
- second petticoat, less ruffly? (maybe a narrower one to replace slip layer)
- then finally new 1950s dress
I'd kind of like to make two bathing suits before we go to Cape Cod in September (Dad was like "hey when would be good for you to go?" and I was like "we have to do it for my birthday because if I stay at home by myself for my 30th birthday it's just going to be REALLY PATHETIC"), but I'd rather try out the whole "woven bathing suit with a zipper" concept before I completely commit to it.
When I do get to the new dress, bearing in mind that I have to do a FBA, should I make a shirtdress, a pretty pattern I haven't tried before with gathery darts below the bust, or revisit a pattern that has worked for me in the past (the version I have now is a bit big)? I can't decide.
I'm getting burnt out on the Emerging Museum Professionals and Non-Profit Happy Hour Facebook groups. I mean, all Facebook stuff in general, but those two groups are draining - so much venting, and they also have a tendency to become a parody of social justice, being incredibly snarky and dismissive of institutions that need interns (and I could understand if there was more substantial discussion of what constitutes an unethical internship and what's volunteering, but instead it's just ranting about how "you shouldn't have workers you can't pay") and coming up with ideas about hiring solely based on resumés (but not their formatting or spelling or way of describing things). At least Costume People, while being ranty, manages to also actually discuss issues.
It's so funny, the idea of piping always completely intimidated me before I made my dress for the Hallowedding and I never bothered to actually try it (not that I had done that much Victorian sewing before then, anyway, but). My Cranford dress has this awkward, bulky hem at the bottom of the bodice, because I thought that would be easier than piping! I should write a blog post on that. Fortunately, the piping - and the bulk of the gathering folded up under the piping - helps to hold out the front panel, which was all squirrelly and didn't want to stay flat. Unfortunately, it's somehow ended up with much less of a point than I wanted ... which seems to be a regular occurrence with me. Possibly because I have a tendency to forget that it's not enough to just increase side-to-side for a large bust, but also to make the bodice longer.
I'm going to set aside balancing the skirt for now (I have a three-day weekend since I'm working next Saturday, I've got the time) and think about using that petticoat booklet after dinner to cut out one or two. My nylon tulle one is just stifling, so I hate wearing it, and anyway holes are developing in various places. But because of the need for flounces/ruffles, this means *sigh* learning to use my hemming foot and ruffler attachment, both of which terrify me. And I recognize the obvious parallel in the previous paragraph ... I just need to learn to do it, but it feels impossible.
I’ve been thinking about excessive empathy lately, and whether it might be leveraged as an asset, rather than smothered for being a liability. What can one do, what progress can one make, when one is incapacitated by compassion? When one’s only capacity is for grief, of what use can one be?
Related passages from fiction occurred to me, of course. Upon reviewing them I realize they have to do with empathy for one’s specially beloved human, rather than empathy for humanity in general--humanity in the abstract and then frighteningly in the no-longer-abstract. One hears news headlines. One watches a movie character and knows that real people have similarly suffered. So the following passages perhaps only glancingly apply to my own struggles, since I am unespoused. But often a glancing relation is still a telling one.
BBC Sherlock’s John, after a drug overdose:
John holds a hand out, pointedly. And then Sherlock is up and they are leaving. Sherlock is too thin, he's too cold, he's a tower of strength drained completely empty. It could make a grown man cry, this sort of waste, this level of senselessness. Why should a priceless work of art dash itself against the concrete purposefully? The whole story is a tragedy. It could break John's heart if he let it.
But he isn't going to.
wordstrings, Entirely Covered in Your Invisible Name
Original-canon Holmes, during World War I:
It was a calculated war waged against my own mind. My mind was my bitterest foe. My soaringly imaginative, tactically brilliant, ever-practical mind. Had I been able to exchange my brain with that of a half-witted factory girl, during the four years Watson was in France, I should have done so. I should have traded it for a Dorset cow's in an instant. Could I have slipped into a coma entirely, I should have chosen that, save that then I would not have been working every waking moment to end the War quickly.
And God, how desperately I needed to end that bloody War.
At the beginning, I could see everything. Too much. And there the information was, all at my disposal on my brother's desk. Guns. Troops movements. Chemical weaponry. Mustard gas. God in Heaven, it drew and quartered me daily. At the beginning, when I was less strict with myself and allowing flights of vividly pictured deductions, anything could tip my heart into a blind panic. I glimpsed a wire in concert with a coded list, a grain manifest, a series of numerals, and a map on my brother's oak desk and nearly sent myself to the hospital. I knew generally, within thirty miles, perhaps, where my friend was at any given time. My brother saw to that. And according to those seemingly innocuous papers in 1914, he would be dead in a week. The odds were for a simple gunshot wound, but exploding debris was also possible.
Looking up from the mad scratches in his commonplace war journal, Mycroft frowned at me from across the length of his entire office.
I made no answer.
"Sherlock," he said clearly, "I have seen what you have seen, but you have not seen all that I have. In addition, I do not allow myself to actually see it. Stop your mind's eye, and at once."
"How can I help but see it? I've always seen it. All my life," I answered miserably, leaning back against his bookshelves and shoving my hands in my pockets.
"Well, you are through now," my brother commanded, tidying papers. "This is not you staring at carriage tracks in our drive and predicting the events of the next six hours verbatim. I can allow you to know things, to employ your tireless energies on our behalf, but not to see them. Do you mark me? I will retrain your mind myself if I have to. You are Sherlock Holmes, not Cassandra of ancient myth. We shall unravel the work of sixty years."
"I can't. My mind doesn't work that way," I whispered in despair.
"It's going to have to." Rising, my brother approached me and placed a hand on my shoulder. He left it there until I looked back at him, seeing my own eyes in a huge, sagging face of sixty-seven years.
"He should not have done it," I said through a clenched jaw. It was the only time I said it. Ever.
"No, but now he has," Mycroft said softly. "Be logical. You are not getting him back for a period of months or possibly even years. You are thus presented with exactly two options. Either stay as you are and see how long you can live like this before you break--I give it three months, myself, and if the War grows worse as swiftly as I think it will, no longer than two and a half--or stop seeing things. Think them in the abstract, for I need you, but do not see them, petit frère. Please stop seeing them. Try for me."
"All right," I gasped. I had not been aware of how shallowly I was breathing, for I was watching him perish over and over again in a spray of gore and crossfire. The moment I agreed, my brother slid back into his usual distant inertia.
"Good man," he said absently, going back to his desk.
Katie Forsythe, The Presbury Letters
These passages speak of the necessity of closing one’s heart, fortifying the doors against the onslaught of an unrelentingly brutal world, and the immense, hardly bearable anxiety and sorrow that would be engendered in the collision of that brutality with one’s own empathy. No human metaphor-heart can take in all the suffering of humanity, and continue to function.
Or can it?
What if Katie--my trusted pet favorite author, my guru of the ugly sides of love--is not entirely right on this count? What if this metaphor is faulty, or at least does not encompass all possibilities? That is the weakness of all metaphors, of course. Each one is only a lens, and not the thing itself. And the human brain, which is what we are really talking about here, is complex beyond our feeble attempts at description and measurement. So: what if the alternative to closing the door to empathy, and carrying on with trying to fix the mess, is also a viable possibility? What would that look like?
Using “we” to mean “I, and others with a seeming excess of compassion”: we could be in a waiting room where they have the tv news on, and not frantically try to divert our own attention.
What if a significant part of the horror of a horrific thought lies in our own panicked urge to look away, to not let it affect us?
What if we just sat with the reality that the world is brutal and merciless, that many many people are in unbearable pain at any given minute? And that we’re partly to blame? What if we just sat and let that be true? What if that didn’t have to mean us curling up in too much shame and rage and sorrow even to suicide ourselves out of this train wreck?
Would that lead to us taking less, and less effective, action to fix the world? Or more?
Consider: you can see the horrible thing in your mind’s eye, but you don’t have to be in the scene. You can just watch and be still. That’s all you can do in that moment, since it’s your mind’s eye; you’re not really there, able to throw your body in front of the cannon or whatever. And when the mind’s cinema screen flickers to darkness for the time being--perhaps, sometimes, even while it’s still running, if you can get the knack--you can plot ways to make it better.
It also strikes me that the rationally plotted, stiff-upper-lip approach is tied to toxic masculinity. What if I consult some female and/or non-Western heroes? How do they deal with their unbearable feelings? What does "Cassandra of ancient myth" have to say on the matter?
I do recall some tale of Theseus with lamenting women kneeling in the road before his procession, begging him to stop some deadly action. And, in the story, he did. Maybe the mere display of the full force of our distress, in front of the right persons, would be a force for good?
What can one do while in profound distress, other than displaying it? What action, in that moment, can be taken, that might be useful to the hemorrhaging world? Or must one wait until the moment passes, and act while in a calmer state?
Thoughts and fiction recs welcome.
Spent time spread out over two days agonizing over dating this dress with ca. 1880 sleeves, ca. 1900? bodice front, ca. 1906 bodice back and skirt, ca. ???? skirt decoration (faux-buttoning down the front, "opening" over a triangular panel with horizontal bands of black velvet), and evidence of alteration. Now of course I don't know why it took me so long ...
Geometry of the Impossible, Remus/Sirius/James/Lily
"I don't think Lily nor James would be very happy if I did his courting for him," Remus said. He saw that Sirius' face was fixed into blank patience, and had a flash of desire to snarl and go for Sirius' throat, because he might at least understand that. "Look. There are comical farces written around your idea, and I'm not terribly keen on having Lily fall for me instead --"
Please enjoy 21k of Teenage Werewolf Disaster :DDD
I was cleaning off a memory card the other day and realized I never posted Greta’s Halloween costume from 2015.
The mild-mannered Greta Banner was just engaging in some research, as Gretas do. Her glasses didn’t fit very well.
Then she went outside and there were PEOPLE JOGGING. OMG, PEOPLE WERE JOGGING.
She was so mad she rampaged on Stark Industries and Embassy of Sokovia.
She even got into it with Captain America but then they decided to work together against the Canada Geese.