January 31, 2009
so how do we judge a man
most of us love from our need to love not
because we find someone deserving
most of us forgive because we have trespassed not
because we are magnanimous
most of us comfort because we need comforting
our ancient rituals demand that we give
what we hope to receive
and how do we judge a man
-nikki giovanni/ “the women gather”
January 29, 2009
Two questions seem to frame my day at work now that the the weather has become frigid, ice-stormish, and snowful:
Upon entrance I hear, “I know you didn’t ride your bike today!” (generally paired with a why are you so crazy expression).
When I leave, I either receive “watch out for car doors” sarcastically offered or “be safe” from the more serious workers as I roll my bike onto the elevator.
Not only are such bike-related comments my day-frame, but people constantly question me about my decision to devotedly peddle the trip between my home and work.
Yesterday I was questioned why I ride my bike to work for the 121st time. So I provided 121 answers: Because I live close to my work and I want to take advantage of that fact. Because I’m interested in not polluting more than I already do. Because I want to live simply by not owning a car. Because it saves my house transportation money. Because it wakes me up in the morning. Because it means I can go and come whenever I want. Because I get to daily be a part of outside instead of glancing at it during dashes from inside to other inside. Because it’s not too big of a hassle to me. Because it’s good for me in endless ways.
There are occasional days when I have second thoughts. Like yesterday and today when the weather forecast was “Pittsburgh: closed.” While most of the city holed up in basements with bottled water to hide from the predicted world’s worst snowstorm, I was blinded by watery snowflakes and trying not to get splashed on by water kicked up from cars while pedaling down the small snow-free strip in the middle of the streets.
And I’ll do it again tomorrow.
January 27, 2009
I’ve discovered that sewing together pieces of scrap paper has an unavoidable attraction. Here is the culmination of my evening spent therapeutically attempting to recreate my jumbled life of paper clippings by sewing it into a somewhat cohesive refurbished whole:
I made it with the intention of writing a letter on it. But I’m still trying to figure out how to place the words.
January 22, 2009
I’ve fallen in love with scraps.
I recently decided to make a quilt, and the hefty task has left me scouring the earth to compile the scraps of other people’s lifestyles. With my recently acquired best friend freecycle, I’ve found myself traveling to various porches and doors of strangers where fabricked surprises like portions of a grandma’s old clothes and patterned remnants of childhood fetishes have been bagged and discarded into my hands.
I must admit that I acquired a lot of junk in my fabric scrap collection endeavors. It’s inevitable to encounter actual garbage inside of piles that other people consider garbage enough to get rid of. But I’ve also collected millions of mismatched pieces that I suspect, if combined in exactly the right way, might actually create something almost good.
I recently accompanied a friend on a trip to the fabric store to acquire large sheets of fabric for the quilt she’s planning. It was great to have endless options before our eyes, but it was also terrifying. New things generally make me a little nervous. Those dumb dollar signs have a way of amplifying mistakes. And there’s such great potential for mistakes in quilting and in life.
I’ll stick with scraps.
So now I have piles of various shapes and styles of fabric scattered about my floor waiting to be endlessly ironed, monotonously sorted, tediously combined, and slowly transformed into something beautiful with endless histories residing inside.
January 14, 2009
January 13, 2009
I found it dwelling in the response I received when I needed someone to assure me that my poetry would be an acceptable gift to give someone:
“But what can you do with poetry? Maybe if you write it on something useful…”
There it was. The uninvestigated truth that poetry is too impractical, too tossed aside, too improperly separated from the practicality of life and even from other forms of art.
But poetry is so valuable within itself.
You can know poetry like you know your daily breakfast, the familiar taste of soggy cheerios as you read the morning paper while still shaking off the sensation of nesting inside darkness and sleep.
You can walk through poetry like a walk through the woods on a sunny day with endless questions breathing in the branches and strips of sun painting strokes across your skin that disappear as you move.
You can feel poetry like a child feels a summer afternoon, hearing inaudible delight in a lazy day without having yet discovered what work is, without finding any need for concern with overbearing details of life.
Poetry houses something. It’s something you might find elsewhere like in a circumstance that naturally offers accidental sweetness, or in a perfectly taken photo, or in a just-rightly created piece of art, or resounding from the voice of a favorite person, or within the frame of an ideal moment.
It resides in poetry to alert you that life and everything in it has the perfect potential to be right and unspoken silences might be said.
January 12, 2009
Last year I got really interested in the idea of a buy nothing Christmas, so this past Christmas I found myself scrambling for thrify and creative ideas that would result in me having nice and at least somewhat desirable gifts to give to each of my family members.
This is what my efforts led me to discover:
I rediscovered that the idea of gift-giving is quite a beautiful thing. When making all of my gifts, I found myself still dwelling in the stress of time limitation. But it seemed like the hours I spent working on someone’s gifts sort of forced me to keep that person in my mind: what they like, what they need, how they’re doing, etc. These things became more important than how much money I had left in my Christmas budget.
So now that Christmas is over, I thought I’d post some of the creations I gave as gifts that took a good amount of thought and time and improved my whole Christmas experience (and hopefully that of those who received them).
I did a screenprinted-like shirt for my brother-in-law:
It just takes making a stencil with freezer paper, ironing it to a plain shirt, and then painting over it with acrylic paint and a sponge paintbrush. It makes for a nice screenprint look minus the costly materials and the ability to make multiple copies of it without making the stencil all over again.
For my sister I made a sketchbook out of recycled paper and fabric:
I pieced together fabric scraps to make the design on the cover then I collected lots of nicely-colored used paper and sewed designs on the pages and bound them with a sweet criss-cross binding design.
I also knitted her some glittens or mloves or whatever you call the combination fingerless gloves with mitten cap things:
For these I used the fluffiest and warmest yarn I could find and combined a couple patterns and made some of it up. Here’s a good pattern for some similar gloves.
I also quilted some pot holders for my mom. And for my dad I made handmade paper by creating pulp from old paper scraps. Then I used my ancient typewriter to fill the pages with my poetry.
I can’t remember the last time before this past Christmas that I was more excited to give gifts than get them.