Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A List of Unfinished Projects*

I used to feel guilty about my unfinished sewing projects. I'm not sure why, but I blithely ignore them these days to start and complete other tops, skirts, even to do some knitting. I don't know what's up with that. I'm certain that organization expert David ("Getting Things Done") Allen would tell me how much better I would feel about my life if I would stitch up and complete the skirt, dress, blouse, sweater coat and two hats that are hanging around my home. He would likely tell me to plop those works-in-progress in my "in" box (on top of the magazines and other epherema that need to be filed away), and they would magically get done. Or, put them in the tickler file that I've got beneath my work desk. Then I would miraculously complete these works of art.

But I know me. I would take the projects out of the "in" box because they are just too big. I would remove them from the tickler file for the same reason. I think they only thing that might trigger any action would be a move. Yes, if I were to put my living space on the market, I'd have to get everything squared away for prospective buyers. That would trigger "I Must Move This Stuff" mode, which would tip off "Let's get this done already." Then in a matter of weeks, the above-mentioned unwearable apparel would be completed and I'd wearing it. It's not likely I'll move at this moment, although I would like to escape Chicago for more than a few months. So those projects? They can continue to sulk all they want while I pretend they don't exist. (Please don't tell them I said. I beg you!). Actually, I've just realized "I Must Move This Stuff" wouldn't elicit a sewing impulse, but rather outright panic. Sewing would shift to last place in my life for a short while, unless I needed to fix a tear.

Here are in no order are the projects. In fact, I'm recalling a few more as I type. That's what happens when you record creativity for posterity (I almost wrote prosperity. Forgive me.)

1. The black eyelet scallop-edged skirt.
Reason for Abandonment: I cut the largest size on my Simplicity pattern, and I felt like even that wouldn't fit me. At the moment, I've got a 41-inch hip. I'm not sure how much ease my cut-out pattern has and I'm afraid to find out since I cut out the very pricey Anne Klein fabric, which I bought because I know this particular fabric is very popular with immigrant Africans who shop at Vogue Fabrics. Somehow, they manage to buy all the 100-percent to-die-for eyelet fabric before I can get my hands on it. So I bought what little remained on a bolt. Oh yes, I also bought some black batiste from Ann at Gorgeous Things to line it. I don't think that's been cut. Actually, I don't know and I'm afraid to look. What might inspire completion: The coming onslaught of hot, humid weather.

2. The sweatercoat in a metallic, cashmere-like knit.
Reason for Abandonment: Dunno. I like sweatercoats. This one has a hood, a favorite feature the others lack. Sometimes I stop sewing something because the weather changes. Yes, it's that simple. If it's warm, why on earth would I want to continue stitching something I wouldn't wear that day? Never mind that it's probable that the item in question would still take more time to finally hem. What might inspire completion: Sudden, cold day in a place not called Hell.

3. Two hats in vintage 1940s fabric. Reason for Abandonment: I need to ask my younger self, circa. 2006. The fabric's cute, stuff I acquired at local stores, including a defunct one in Oak Park, the other at a no-longer-in-existence thrift shop. The fabric's cut, it would take an hour to finish either chapeaux. It's not like I don't wear hats anymore, I do. It's not like I couldn't add to my collection. I could just throw them out, but I don't like to waste anything in my household, even projects. What might inspire completion: Purchasing an expensive, 1940s millinery display bust at a local antique shop, not unlike what Alicia Paulson owns. I keep eyeing this thing, praying no one buys it. I'm afraid afraid someone in Europe will buy it online. So far, that hasn't happen.

4. Retro-inspired blouse with an adorable black batiste trimmed with bias-placed white lace. Reason for Abandonment: I didn't like how the darts looked on me, so I promptly pulled up stakes on this top. The buttonholes also scared me. It's not like I've never made buttonholes, but I find them time-consuming to create and I want to space them properly. What might inspire completion: I see something on the Burda World of Fashion web site for May. The model has a top on with lace-trimmed fabric, just like mine, only white-on-white.

5. Assymetrical hem Vogue pattern dress. Reason for Abandonment: I cut out an important piece wrong. While I did get more fabric to fix this problem, the dress is still awaiting its debut. Easy pattern, hard me. What might inspire completion: Adding another dress to my collection without spending a penny? That might do the trick. Or some bribing from my stay-at-home dust bunnies.

6. Last but not least: a nearly done kimono-style wrap top.
Reason for Abandonment: It's missing its bottom half, which I swear I cut out and even hemmed, but I've lost somewhere in my vast living space. All I have to do is attach to its other half, and I'm am done. But I can't find that essential part, and the fabric is no longer available from Metro Textiles. I could use another fabric, but I think it would look dumb, besides, it's for a friend, and she wouldn't wear if it didn't appear just right. What might inspire completion: Hello? The rest of my fabric. Trust me, I'd be at my Viking Husqvarna in a nano-second if I got what I needed.

What incomplete projects bother/haunt/follow you around the house?
* Clearly the dress I'm wearing in the above photos is finished. It's a Simplicity pattern. I used $1 a yard fabric from Vogue Fabrics. I'll write up a review on it soon. Nudge me if I don't.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sunshine on an Overcast Day

There was a time when I didn't like overcast days. I found them depressing. They were a cause (an excuse) to sneak off to bed early and despair over life, men, life and men, in that order. Now that I've rediscovered photography with my generic (and I mean generic), dinosaur-age Kodak EasyShare C530, I've come to love those days without the blazing sun overhead. Those times are perfect for photos. You don't have to worry about overexposure, overheating, over-shadowing, and over-anything. Cloudy days are a photographer's friends. In fact, now you're likely to catch me muttering, "Oh, good! I can take pictures!" if I see clouds gathering to gossip. The larger the group, the better. But dark isn't too kind for photography, and ominous is a clear sign to take cover because a tornado or thunderstorm might whiz through.

The pattern: The top you see above is yet another rendition of the Santa Monica Tee. (See I don't always knit, contrary to my Twitter sidebar.) This particular project was extremely easy since all the edges were already finished. The only stitching I had to was at the neckline, darts, and underarm seams. Done! Now since this was a very sheer and fragile knit with a whizbang rose emblem in the middle, I did have to take care sewing. Sullivan's Fabric Stabilizer was very helpful (spray, stiffen fabric, spray more until fabric is office cardboard-thick. Sew. Wash out stabilizer). I used the Wash-Away Solvy at the neckline. Otherwise, I think this lovely fabric would have been chewed up and spit out by my charmed Viking Husqvarna!

The fabric: A remnant from Vogue Fabrics. It was a really small piece. I snatched it up as soon as I saw it, but it languished in my collection until about six months when a little flourescent lightbulb went off....Use it with the Santa Monica T! Center it so the flower's at the bust (as you see it's not quite...I'm not entirely thrilled that it falls below.). Use scalloped edges for a hem!

The background: Those clouds you see? Those are painted on the exterior walls of my condo near the door that leads to the laundry room. You'll be seeing more of this cheery and childlike skyline in my photography, they're the perfect backdrop!

The lesson: Use the finished edges on your fabric for your hem. Saves time sewing and makes your clothes look ready-to-wear. (But you don't really need a lesson. This is more of a tip.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Twittering My Life Away...

If you haven't noticed the Twitter sidebar (look on the left), I'd suggest you take a look now. It's a place where I can post pithy updates while I'm on the road (actually I tend to spend more time on the rail). These updates can only be 140 characters maximum. I'm not sure what happens if you go over the limit. Does your membership get suspended? Do those following you start tweeting? I just don't know. I'm not sure I want to know. This much I do know: I love tweeting (or is it Twittering?). It's fun. I like the idea of recording my adventures while I'm en route. It makes an ordinary journey that much more exciting. It also makes waiting for the bus more tolerable. In fact, I have to ensure the bus doesn't speed past me while I'm busy texting Twitter. As much as I adore this new application, I really enjoy getting to my destination as fast as possible. Twitter is always possible, boarding another no. 22 bus might be 23-minute wait. I hate that.

What do I text to Twitter? Just look. I've noticed I do talk about the weather, which I suspect is only normal when you're depending on public transportation to run errands and make appointments on time. But I also do go on and on about my hobbies: namely knitting and sewing. Yesterday, I yakked ever so briefly about Burda World of Fashion's March issue, no. 115. I also complained about progress on my knitting. I'm trying to write something funny while I'm away from home. I think most people like to read something funny whether it's 1,400 characters long or only 128. We all need a laugh. I know I do, you might not. In fact, you might thrive on seriousness. Not me, I need to hear, read and write hilarious things every hour I'm awake, which makes studying French a problem. My homework is fairly straightforward. No laugh track, unless it's my fellow students chuckling at my mispronunciations of basic words. I have this tendency to use a Spanish accent; no doubt an influence from all the Spanish I took in junior high and high school. I can tell you without hesitation how to say "Let's go to the beach" in our country's second most popular language (Vamos a la playa.) but right now I'd have a problem getting to sand and water in France. Perhaps I should start twittering in French. Here's the thing: I'd like to get all those accent marks in their proper position if I'm going to do that. Otherwise, I'm going to look like a novice. I know I'm newbie, but I rather appear like an expert.

Anyhow, Twittering is fun to follow. I'm following Penelope Trunk's Twitter, ditto The Sartorialist, Jen Singer and Erin McKean. I'd have to say Ms. Trunk and Mrs. Singer are the most prolific and entertaining Twitterers on my roll. Trunk talks about sneaking tweets while dis cussing things with her divorce lawyer. Singer, her kids. Sarto? So far he just uploads links to his blog. Yawn. Ms. Dressaday? Dictionary-related tweets related to her other job as a lexicographer. Man, I'd really love to read about Erin's adventures on the road. I'd gladly read any updates on trips to Vogue Fabrics (where I hang out also), Jo-Ann Fabrics, O'Hare airport and Harlem Avenue Antique and Resale Shoppe. Here's to hoping, fingers double-crossed.

There are a couple of other bloggers who don't Twitter but who I'd enjoy tagging along with. How about Erica Bunker, tweeting during her outdoor photo shoots? Or what her expeditions at Hancock's or Vogue? Ditto Miss Celie's Pants. She could use her Crackberry to talk about all her travels - picking up fabric in Africa, Panama and heavens knows where else. Wendy Bernard would be a complete crack-up in Twitter, I have no doubt. She'd yammer away about exploits at the LYS (Local Yarn Store in knitter-speak), but I think it might be difficult for her to describe her latest acquisition in a few short words. Or how about Alicia Paulson? Wouldn't you love to hear her while she's out on walks with her canine? I'd miss out on her luscious photographs, only available online.

So far these ladies have not started Twittering. They may be wanting to keep things certain things in their lives private. It's completely possible too that they don't want fans approaching them while they're using their 40 percent off coupon at Jo-Ann's. I understand that, I think (written with a sigh or perhaps that was a whimper).

For now I'm content (let me amend that: I'm thrilled) to Twitter three times a day. I'm not sure who's reading it on my blog. Oddly enough, to date I've got more men than women following me at Interesting. Perhaps they want to learn how to sew and knit, but they don't want to admit it openly? What's up with that? You can still be masculine and participate in the womanly arts! Come on, guys, stand up and be counted! It's okay to carry sticks and yarn. Be proud! I'll proudly support you in your new addictions.

That's it for now, folks, until we "meet" on Clark Street....

P.S. Would you put a Twitter sidebar on your blog. Or is that too personal or silly for your taste?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Only Avid Sewers Will Get This One*

* A disclaimer: I'm not get paid by Club BMV for any kind of endorsement. Just so you know...Also click to enlarge...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Miss Lucy Goes Out On The Town, no. 1

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Beeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Lucy was startled. Yes, she'd been waiting for the Chicago ElderConnextion volunteer for twenty minutes, so she was expecting the buzzer to squwak. But when the volunteer didn't show up on time - what was her name, anyhow? Mary Beth? Well, when that lady didn't show up as predetermined, Lucy decided just to sit down on her well-worn couch in her coat, and wait. She felt a little hot wearing her coat while inside her over-heated apartment. But better to be ready to go at a moment's notice, then spend several minutes putting on her overcoat again. She just hoped that her ride wasn't cancelled. She loved going to these monthly luncheons. They had best food, much better than any meal Lucy ever prepared for herself (which was mostly Campbell's cream of chicken soup doctored up with some fresh vegetables) or Meals on Wheels. Besides, the lunch was prepared so nicely with cloth napkins, table clothes, streamers overhead. There there was the entertainment - often a Frank Sinatra impersonator, followed by a scrumptious dessert (last month's hot blueberry pie ala mode was especially good), a treat she couldn't usually afford herself on her limited budget. To cap it off, she got bring home flowers, always.

Lucy carefully walked over to answer the buzzer. She pressed the 'talk' button. "Hello. Who is it?" She said cautiously. You could never be sure who was at the door. Sometimes it was the kids downstairs, waiting for the next hair-braiding appointment in the downstairs apartment. Rarely was it the pizza man. Often it was Fedex dumping off their packages in a great rush, never really paying attention to just who they were contacting. They just put their fist to the call pad and rang everybody.

"Yes, it's crackle, crick, crackle with Elderconnextion. I'm here to crackle, crick crackle crick for the luncheon at hhsssssst. I'm sorry I'm crackle crick crackle. Traffic was horrible. Can I come on up? I've got to go hhhhhhhhhhhst."

Lucy couldn't hear exactly what was being said. She'd have to get onto maintenance to fix the figgitty old buzzer, which she was certain was older than she was, and she'd been living in the same apartment for the past 35 years. She liked Elmer, he was the most attentive super in the building. He'd take care of broken things faster than a mouse could scamper across her stove but he left to move to Florida with his girlfriend. Lucy paused. She had been awaiting a visit, so she pushed the door button. Seconds later she heard a loud knock on her door. "Bop Bop Bop!
Bop Bop Bop!"

Lucy peered into the tiny glass peephole on her triple-locked door. She saw this woman with brown hair and a fuschia coat. Must be Mary Beth. Recently she had to chase out a very nice woman who somehow got into the building and was soliciting for Avon. This didn't seem like the make-up lady.

She opened the door. It creaked, another thing that needed to be fixed, but that new guy, Mikolvo, didn't seem to understand English and he was always to busy flirting with that Mexican woman across the street.

"Ooh, Hello. You must be Lucy. I'm so terribly sorry about being late," Mary Beth said, walking in, a major wave of this heavy rose -scented perfume following in her wake. She looked around, pulling off her jet-black leather gloves. "Traffic was just awful! There was this big accident on Ashland Avenue, and they were redirecting cars so much I swear I thought I was going to end up in Lake Michigan. I tried calling you on my cell, but you weren't there. Or maybe I had the wrong number. I can't remember which. Anyhow, I apologize. But I was in the car so long with my Starbucks, I really got to go. Can I use your bathroom? "

Before Lucy even had a chance to say yes, Mary Beth flung her trenchcoat onto the couch, her massive white leather embossed bag with its huge ringed handle onto the hardwood floor. Faster than Lucy's late cat Master, Mary Beth was in the washroom. Lucy winced, thinking about the door that didn't close all the way thanks to a swollen door jamb and the jumble of prescription bottles surrounding the sink. Had she known this volunteer needed to use the toilet, she would have cleaned up a little.

Clunk! Lucy heard the thud of the toilet seat. Lucy, walker and all, quickly moved to her galley-size kitchen to do some cleaning there. She always did that when someone was using the facilities. She didn't want to hear all the personal sounds emitting from the bathroom. So she began putting away the tea pot, some saucers, wiping up the counter, and mostly importantly, turning on the faucet. She wanted to politely drown out any sounds coming from the bathroom. Splash! Splash! Swish, swish, swish! Splash! Clank, clank, clank! Lucy rustled around some pots on her stove, cleaning off the crust of chili on the countertop from last night's dinner.

Then she heard Gurgle! gurgle. Gurgle, gurgle. Mary Beth must be finishing up at the washroom. Yank, yank, yank at the door. Oh dear, the bathroom door was stuck again. Lucy rushed as fast as she clunkity, clunkity, clunkity could to the washroom, to pull at the doorknob.

Suddenly, the door opened. Mary Beth walked out, quickly shutting the door behind her.

"Thank you for letting me use your washroom," she said, brushing down her surplice-wrap dress which had swirls of black, pink and white paisley. She slipped over to the coach to pick up her coat and purse.

This was the first chance Lucy had to size up Mary Beth since she rushed into her home a few minutes ago. She liked her brown hair, which was cut into a bob, just like those pictures of her Aunt Emma in the 1920s. Unlike all those other young women, Mary Beth was wearing a dress. It seemed like so many girls these days wore jeans all the time. It was refreshing to see a dress.

"I like your dress," Lucy said.

"Oh, thank you. I made it."

"You made it? My goodness. I didn't know girls sewed these days."

"Oh, I've been sewing on and off since I was a kid. I got into it a big way when I bought a new sewing machine a couple of years ago."

"You did a great job, " Lucy said, clearly awed. "I thought girls were too busy to sew. When I was growing up, nearly all girls sewed. You had to. It was required in school. But today? I thought sewing was too old-fashioned and all young girls bought their clothes at S&M-"

"You mean H&M." "Yes, that's right H&M, the Rap-"

"The Gap?" "Right, the Gap, and Navy Pier."

"Navy Pier? Are you sure you don't mean Old Navy? Navy Pier is mostly for entertainment - there's a ferris wheel, restaurants, and Imax..."

"Yes, Old Navy. Anyhow, I never did sew. I couldn't, not after I saw my mother's finger get stabbed by a sewing machine."


Lucy had to sit down, her legs were bothering her. "My mother, God bless her heart, was sewing on her old treadle sewing machine when the needle accidentally ran over her finger. I was there when it happened. I was five years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. There was blood everywhere, on the knickers she was repairing for my father. Luckily it didn't get on our neighbor Johnny's jumpers, which she was also fixing. But I was so traumatized, I couldn't bring myself to sew ever. Even when we had to in high-school. I would just pretend, and then get one of my girlfriends to do my projects."

"Wow, that's quite a story."

"So now you know. I hate sewing machines. I just couldn't bring myself to go near them. Not even when my husband's pants pockets needed to be stitched. When I had a millinery shop, I always hired someone else to do anything with a sewing machine." Machines and needles? They scare me."

"You were a hat-maker?"

"I was for a while back ---"

"Oh my gosh. Look at the time. We must go. The luncheon's starting in 20 minutes and the traffic is terrible. We better get going!"

The two women, one a little bit younger than the other, had one thing in common at that moment: they were hungry. Swifter than Flash Gordon, they swooped down the stairs, walker in tow. They're were off to get some good chow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Knitting, Crochet and Lefties.*

Sewing, knitting, eating and sleeping are very important activities in my life. Knitting, or clicking with sticks as it's known in other circles, is particularly vital for me. It's a nice, repetitive activity, kind of like pacing. My older brother used to walk back and forth, forth and back in the family room of my old house on Washington Street. Knitting fills that need for me. Instead of nervously ambling, I'm exercising my finger joints. Down one row, back again on top, and then down that row again, I add another monotonous row of stitching. Suddenly, I have something to show for all my anxiety. I have the makings of a sweater (one that may or may not fit). It's an amazing thing. Instead of worrying for nothing and having emptiness to show for it, I actually have something tangible. Not only is it real, it's soft, much more so than my latest nephew's hair, cushier than my living-room couch. Then I want to snuggle up with this thing I made in a period of stress.

Sewing isn't quite as soothing as knitting. It lacks that repetition of stitch after stitch in knitting, although you do that on a sewing machine. Now that I've knitted much, I can see the appeal of saying the Rosary over and over, again and again. Fifty Hail Marys (all 5 decades of the Rosary) can swiftly put you to sleep. And if you fall asleep, you can probably continue to count those prayers in your dreams instead of sheep. Although I think it's a little more boring to tabulate prayers than fluffy animals, but that's just me. Crocheting is right up there with the Rosary and knitting. It's got the repetition thing going. Like the aforementioned heavenly petitions, you can crochet with one hand. Knitting, on the other hand, requires two paws. Woe to the person who wants to knit but can't because he or she only has one hand. I feel sorry for that human being. You can't make thick, shapely sweaters and are doomed to to the Rosary and lacy, airy, shapeless pieces of crocheted apparel that necessitates some underwear underneath. I'm glad that I have two hands so I can have the option of to knit and/or crochet, and to say the Rosary when I feel like it. At least I know what to do if, heaven forbid, I lose one hand. But if I'm going to lose one hand, I'd prefer it to be the left one, because I'm learning how to knit and crochet with my right hand.

Who was it that said it's good to be ambidextrous? I don't know who, but it's just practical - never know when you're going to lose a hand. So I want to be prepared. That said, I haven't started writing with my right hand, and I should because my left hand is getting tired of writing, and I haven't even hypnotized it yet. What's more, it's a little before lunch time and it's too soon for a nap and my southpaw knows that. Why is that hands don't listen to you when you talk to them? My hands have a mind of their own. Wait. That really is true. I forgot. I have a brain that powers my limbs. Truly amazing. I might not have mentioned this earlier, but I also eat with my left hand. Not good, especially if I get spaghetti all over it and I can't clean up right up away. I need to work on feeding myself with my right hand, though I do tend to cut cooked meats with that part of my body. That's a start, left? I wonder if I would think differently if I would do more with my right hand. Perhaps I'd become more mathematical, analytical. I'd see dollar signs everywhere I go. Step in a puddle, instead of fretting about my wet socks, I'd see greenbacks. Miss that bus? I'd be happier than a skylark because I'd "see" dollar bills. Maybe I'd eat a new set of foods if I ate exclusively with my right hand. I'd reach for more fruits and vegetables instead of sandwiches (carbs) and gnocchi (more carbohydrates). My right hand would spontaneously search for Granny Smith apples, Bosc pears and ruby-red tomatoes and stuff them all in my mouth (not at the same time or I might choke. I can't have that while I'm retraining the brain cells.) That said, I do tend to drink a cold brewski with my right paw now that I ponder this topic. I wonder why. It might be that my right hand likes the feel of an icy glass. Maybe if the southpaw would quench my third, I'd stay away from Guinness. I'll have to try this out next time I'm in a bar. I'd tie a piece around my wrist to remind myself of this experiment.

I just looked up all the synonyms for the left hand. None of them are good. A left-hand compliment is back-handed. Left is also ambigious, equivocal, double-edged, dubious, ironic, sardonic, insincere and hypocritical. Gosh, aren't there any good things about being a leftie? I'm worried. Left-hand itself is sinistral. Does that make you think of sinister? In boating, left is port or larboard. The antonym? Right, starboard. Remind not to board a canoe anytime soon. I don't want my southpaw tendencies to work against me.

Are any of you left-handed?

* The crochet skirt above? I made it. It's the Violet Beauregard from Stitch N'Bitch Crochet: the Happy Hooker. I'd show you my legs but I need to put some a fake tanner. I also need a pedicure. Badly.

Monday, April 21, 2008

10 Jokes To Keep You in Stitches*

1. What do you call two needles?

2. What is a surge protector?

3. When is a fabric stash a collection?

4. A stitch in time saves how much?

5. What does a sewer say when she pokes herself with a needle?

6. When is a bad time to sew?

7. What is a seam ripper?

8. When is a mistake a designer touch?

9. How many sewers does it take to change a light bulb?

10. What does a sewer say on her deathbed?

Feel free to add some of your sewing-related jokes in the comments....

The answers: 1. Twin Needles. 2. A box that protects a serger. 3. When it gets out of control. 4. A stitch saves in time doesn't save any time. 5. "Ouch!" 6. Never. 7. Jack's cousin. 8. Mistakes are always designer's touches. 9. Only one because if a sewer can fix a sewing machine late at night she can change a lightbulb by herself. 10. "Just one more row before I go!"
* I sewed both tops. The one over the lacy version is a McCall pattern, the lacy number is a Textile Studios Santa Monica T.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Getting the Call...*.

Last night I'm finishing up with my work when I get a call. I look at the Caller ID. It's a Blocked Call.

I freeze. Who could it be? A credit card company? Lifesource? The man I recently met for drinks who I'm not interested in? God letting me know it's time to go upstairs? I let the phonecall go to voicemail, but I can hear the recording as I put on my trenchcoat. I've got more important things to do, like seeing a matinee of Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. (This is a far better book than movie).

Hi, this is Britney from Joan Philo Extras Casting. We're working on the film Public Enemy. We were wondering if you were available for action in our ballroom scene. Please call us back at 312-829-0140 and ask for Britney. Let us know you're calling about the ballroom scene.

(Public Enemy, not to be confused with this James Cagney movie, is a movie about famed gangster John Dillinger, as depicted by actor Johnny Depp. The movie has thus far been filmed in nearby Wisconsin, now apparently it's moving to Chicago.)

I'm flattered that I finally got the call I've been waiting for more than a month, but I am vaguely annoyed that the casting group feels so self-important that it feels a need to block the call. Are they afraid they're going I'm going to give out their number to all my friends? (I just did, sort of.) Don't they realize I'm less likely to answer the telephone when the call is blocked? That's certainly the case when I'm solicited to donate blood. If the call shows up up anonymous or blocked, I ignore it.

In any event, I'm not going to return the call. Simply because the pay for being an extra just isn't worth it. Besides, it's likely that this ballroom scene will be filmed at night so I wouldn't get my beauty sleep, which is far more important. I'd be recharging my brain cells so that I can earn more money than one or two days hovering on the set in the background at a minimum wage.

I'm betting my greenbacks that the "ballroom" scene will be filmed at the Aragon Ballroom, which dates back to the 1920s. Who knows if Dillinger himself hoofed it up there back in the day?

Now I've always, always wanted to go to the Aragon Ballroom for a dance. I've never even been there for a concert. Still the romantic in me relishes the idea of taking the L down to the Aragon, dressing up and lindy hopping with a man in a suit just like Chicagoans did in "the old days." The Aragon marquee, which still works, is something spectacular when it's all lit up. The pulsating neon white and red lights are so mesmerizing, it's almost hard to leave. I enjoy gazing at it from the nearby elevated train platform at Lawrence Avenue, where I can almost feel the heat from the light bulbs, it's that close. It's also neat to view this vertical sign from a distance, for example, the intersection of Clark and Lawrence about a half a mile away.

I don't think this would be my only opportunity to the inside of the Aragon for dancing. There are some private parties there if you can afford a $100+ ticket. But it would be fun to dress up as a flapper girl. I have this image in my mind of a camera scanning the crowds waiting in line to enter the the not-so-vintage looking glass doors.
It would be in black and white, filmed like an old newsreel. There I'd been waving enthusiastically with my Clara Bow Lips, fur-trimmed leather gloves, matching coat, cloche with the rouge on my cheeks making me appear warmer than I am. Inside, you'd have Dillinger sipping from an illegal flask or two (during the Prohibition the public consumption of alcohol was not allowed), having escaped the Feds via an underground tunnel from the nearby Green Mill Cocktail Lounge.

Even though I don't plan on participating in the shoot, it's still fun to discussing it. Many Chicagoans have parents and grandparents who met at the Aragon or went there to jitterbug back in the 1940s and 1950s.

Have any of you participated as an extra in a film? What was your experience like?
* The above photos are the Music Box Theatre, where I went last night to see the French movie The Flight of the Red Balloon and the Aragon Ballroom marquee from the Lawrence Avenue L platform. Unfortunately, it wasn't lit last night.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do Knitting and Sewing Encourage Weight Gain?*

There are lots of theories why so many Americans are overweight: we don't eat enough fiber, we eat too much protein, we don't lift enough weight, we don't walk enough or we live in houses where the walls have chemicals that make us fat (I read this somewhere really). I'm not sure what I believe, but I know we're all sitting around a lot more than we used to, typing on the computer and watching television (I do plenty of the former, but not the latter only because I don't own a television set, but I do love watching TV.)

If we are all sitting down a lot more, is it any small wonder that sewing and knitting, both plop-down-on-a-chair-make-yourself-comfortable hobbies, are popular? I suppose you could stand up and knit, but somehow it's a bit cumbersome. Your yarn has go to somewhere, perhaps your pocket or in a bag on your shoulder. Anytime I've been knitting while standing, it's been for a short period of time. Ten minutes maximum, at a bus stop waiting for the next no. 96 to arrive. Then I'm supremely gratified to rest my tush on a seat and knit some more.

Sewing while I'm on my two feet? I've never done it, although it seems like it's possible. I'd just need a taller table. I think if I had this kind of set-up I wouldn't sew as much as I do. I just enjoy compressing my spine a lot, you know? Sitting down and sewing just seems to be do the thing to do. I can easily stop, rip out stitching, take a sip of pop, sigh, sew some more, make another mistake, get that seam ripper out again and burn a few calories destroying what I've just made. Try do that while standing at some point. Impossible.

To be honest though, most of my time resting-my-behind time is in front of the computer, not in front of my Viking Husqvarna 735 or with my Noro yarn short-sleeve sweater-in-progress at my side. The computer is the enemy more so than my hobbies.

Still I wonder if I shouldn't be working out more instead of sewing or knitting. Both of these hobbies honestly just encourage me to eat. Knitting is particularly bad for my waistline. When I go to the yarn store? Do I make a beeline for the newest Vogue Knitting? No, I go to the spot where there's food. Usually it's chips, or if I'm lucky, a chocolate cake for a knitter celebrating a birthday. One of the major reasons I go to this knitting group is for the complimentary eats. I fill my paper plate with Sunchips, brie cheese, crackers, some grapes and at least one sweet before I sit down next to a fellow knitter. And then I nosh all through the business report, the topic of the night and show and tell. Of course, I am working on my project while I'm eating. We all are. It's knit, ssk, p, crunch, knit, ssk, crunch, crunch, crunch, Swallow! Sip, sip, sip. Oh, my! Look at how my sweater is coming along!

I don't eat as much while I'm sewing. I'm just so caught up in what I'm doing. Sometimes I will go for hours without eating. I feel like like I'll lose the magic if I get up from the sewing machine. So I'll sit there my stomach growling like a mountain lion (I'm sooo hungry! I can't stop now. Just one more row. I've got to fix this first and then I'll grab a bite to eat. Wow. Time to press. Walk, walk, walk, to bedroom to turn on the iron. Steam, press, steam. Wow, this is looking great. I cannot possibly stop now. I'm almost done. When I finish the shoulder seam, I'll treat myself to a sandwich at Subway.)

Finally, it's dusk. I'm famished. I discover there's nothing to eat in my crusty refrigerator, but I'm too fatigued to walk over to Subway and I'm much too frugal to order carry out. So I starve overnight and wake up pounds lighter.

I should note the above scenario is more rare than a no. 22 bus that arrives at the corner of Lunt and Wolcott on time. Usually I have a cup of green tea sitting on the far end of my sewing table (so I don't tip it over) while I'm facing my computerized sewing machine. Liquids are ok when I'm in the midst of Creation, but no food. I'm not sure why.

I doubt I'll spend less time sewing or knitting. I stitch at night after the day's work is done or on the weekends. Looping yarn on long needles or circulars is done mostly on the road while I'm squeezed next to someone on the Red Line subway train hurtling into the Loop and there's no food in sight. I just had a revelation: I only eat while I'm knitting with other people also knitting. I just need to be less social. That's it. No more hanging out with dozens of other women at Loopy! No more gabbing and stitching at Closeknit! And of course, getting help on any WIPs (works-in-progress) means store owners will have to clear their tables of any edibles when I arrive. I'll call ahead with my special request. They'll comply happily, won't they? We all want to shed a few pounds, right? That way we won't have to modify our patterns as much to accommodate our widening hips. Knitting will become easier. Or at least the part where you have to alter the pattern will (and I despise that part more than drinking prune juice.)

What about you? Do you find you eat while you're sewing or knitting? If you can eat, sew and knit all at the same time, I really want to hear from you. If you're skinnier than Kate Moss and you adore sewing and knitting, never mind.
*The knitting you see above? That's the short-sleeve sleeve I mention in this post. I had to move my Dunkin Donuts iced coffee to scan this baby.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Spring Survey...*

I have returned from my New York City adventures. I worked on my knitting on my way there. In my semi-tired state, I thought, "What about a French knitting club?" Some of you may know that I'm taking French lessons at the Alliance Française. I also like to knit. If the alliance can offer culinary lessons, why not a French knitting club? I noticed that most of the students in my class are women. I further concluded that since more than 38 million Americans know how to knit, there's a good chance there are a fair number of Chicagoans would love to gather for the purpose of improving their French and knitting skills at the same time. How's that for a little multi-tasking? Now, I'd throw a little brie cheese and French bread into the mix, perhaps some champagne as the occasion calls for it. What do you think? Feel free to vote (survey is in the sidebar on the left) and leave comments here.
* The kimono-style top you see above has nothing to do with knitting. I sewed this from a Simplicity pattern that I can't uncover at this moment.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How To Buy Only One Yard at Metro Textile*

Once upon a time there was a rather impressionable Chicago girl named Mary Beth. She’d come to New York City once a year to meet editors, hang out with writers, camp out in her hotel at night to watch television shows she has missed over the past decade.

She didn’t care a whit about going to Broadway for shows. Radio City? Charming on the outside, but really the only reason to drop inside would be at Christmas time when the Rockettes were dressed in their Santa Claus outfits. And it was April. The legendary all-night diners? Fine on someone else’s dime. Ditto David Letterman. Another time, besides she didn't own a television so what would it matter if her countenance showed up on the idiot box for a nanosecond?

No, any spare time was to be spent at shops in the Fashion District, gazing at expensive yardage at Mood Fabrics, trim at Daytona Braids & Trimmings, phenomenal scallop-edged stretch fabric at Spandex House (what a silly name, she thought).

But there was one store she had to visit without fail and she was dreading, which was highly unusual. Mary Beth usually loved to go to all fabric stores.

Mary Beth had to visit Metro Textile to buy a scant yard of fabric to finish a kimono-style wrap top for a dear friend.

She already knew the state of her checking, money market and savings accounts. Ditto the outstanding balance on her credit cards. Taxes, a monthly assessment, a fresh mortgage payment were all due very soon. Participating in the McDonald’s online survey hadn’t paid off yet. She didn’t even want to think about the costly Manhattan hotel where she was sharing a room. It just hurt to dwell on it. But she had come many miles to the Big Apple. How could she leave without buying one yard of fabric? This she had to do even if it was the last thing she did on her New York trip this year. Metro Textile owner Kashi was famous for selling innocent sewists yards upon yards of fabric that they neither needed or really wanted. Mary Beth herself had been a victim last year.

So Mary Beth put on her best “Devil Wears Prada” mean boss demeanor. Just before walking into Kashi’s lair, she pulled her back her shoulders. Practiced her best cold look in a window, put on her dark sunglasses. Pulled up the collar on her trenchcoat. Combed her bangs, sprayed on a sample of Lancôme perfume. With a cellphone in one hand, her Marshalls white leather mammoth bag in the other, she strolled inside, pausing at the door for effect. She would be strong, she wouldn’t let Kashi make her buy anything she didn’t want.

“Hello, Kashi, how are you?” she said gaily, scoping the bolts upon bolts of taffeta, eyelet, charmeuse, silk and jerseys along the wall. She felt dizzy soaking it all in.

“I’m well, very well,” said Kashi eagerly. “It’s good to see you again. I remember you. You are a very beautiful woman.”

He’s trying to flatter me so I’ll buy more fabric. It’s not going to work.

“Oh, I’m just here to buy this fabric,” Mary Beth responded cooly, pulling out a swatch of orange and pink paisley print out of her handbag. “I’m in a rush so I can’t stay long.”

“I have that right here. How much you want?

“Just a yard.”

“That’s all? Look at all the beautiful fabrics I have. You want silk shantung? This one looks beautiful with your skin. All your friends buy this one.”

What friends is he talking about? I have no friends. At least not here in New York.

“No, really Kashi, I can’t. I’m pressed for time. Just that one yard, please.”

“But you cannot leave New York City with one fabric! You travel all this way from Cheeecago. You must buy more. I ship it to you.”

“No, I can’t. Not today.”

“How about this pretty pale blue gauze? So reasonable. I got it from very famous designer.”

“No, thank you.”

“How can you just buy one yard? Is everything ok? Do you feel well? Have a seat. I show all my fabrics.”


“I just don’t understand. Why not buy more fabric? Are you not happy with my prices? I make a deal.”

“That’s not it, Kashi.”

I cannot explain that I’m stretched for cash, that I must pay taxes, that I still have more of his fabrics unsewn in my closet. It’s none of his business!

“Here, I give you designer silk jersey. Make me an offer.”


“Five dollars a yard? You can, because you’re beautiful, have it for that.”

"That’s very nice of you....but....”

“Ok, four dollars. That’s it. Firm.”


“Ok, you drive a very hard bargain. Three and half dollars. No less.”

“I can’t, really not today.”

Just then Mary Beth’s cell phone rings. Brrrrring! Brrrrrrng! Someone to rescue her from this most delicate situation! She answered the call a little too quickly.


It was her room-mate at the hotel wondering where she was.

“Why hello, Chase Bank! How are you?” Mary Beth said, loudly watching Kashi from the corner of her eye. “What? You say - there’s only $10 in my account? Thanks so much for the call. Your customer service is excellent. I love you guys. So much better than those bill collectors who constantly hound me.”

Kashi slowly backed off, putting down his pair of scissors. He eyed Mary Beth warily. Perhaps none of her credit cards would work. Forget about asking for a check.

Mary Beth talked on her cell phone a little longer, clicking it close with a sigh. So little cash, so much time and fabric.

“I’m very sorry, but you must pay cash only,” Kashi informed her soberly.

“All I have is a $10, is that all right?” Mary Beth said, handing Kashi the bill.

Kashi looked at the bill curiously, fingering it scrutinizing it in the overhead fluorescent light. He quietly conferred with an assistant in a back corner. The money looked legit.

“That will do,” he said. He quickly cut the fabric, wrote her the receipt, and pushed the knit into a plastic bag.

“Thank you so much, Kashi,” Mary Beth said, snatching her bag. “You’re so wonderful.”

The cell phone rang again...Brrrrring! Brrrrring! Mary Beth used it as an excuse to leave.

“Got to run!”

With that Mary Beth dashed out, leaving a trail of Lancôme perfume scent in her wake.

Kashi stared as she left. This was the first woman ever to leave his store with only a yard of fabric in her hands. This was bad for business. His customers would find out through the Internet. He’d be the laughing stock of his friends and colleagues. Yes, everyone in the Fashion District would point fingers at him, laugh at him at every opportunity. Yes, veeeeeery bad for business. He might as well shut doors. His reputation was ruined.

“Come back again,” he yelled as Mary Beth left. “I give you good prices. Just brings lots of cash next time, OK?”
* The completed kimono-style wrap top you see above? That's mine. I'm making another for a friend, but I need more of the exact same fabric to finish it. She already knows about it so I won't be spoiling the surprise if she sees it here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Three Things I Could Really Use...*

I typed out and sent a letter to my mother recently. The letter was mostly a list of things I need, which mom had requested. I suspect she didn't think my list would be quite so lengthy. I won't bore you with the pots, pans, and silverware I'd like, but you find the sewing and knitting-related items amusing:

1. Another pair of headset earphones for my telephone. I’ve one in my office, but another one would be great for my marathon personal telephone calls. I despise sitting there on my couch, doing nothing with my hands, while I’m on the phone yakking away about men, the lack of dates, good food, movies, men, and the lack of dates (in that order). I like to be productive. I’m confident I could multi-task especially when it comes to knitting, a “quiet” hobby. I could turn out socks, hats, and other things while I gossip! Yes, I could get the latest lowdown on Mel Gibson and Britney Spears while I’m on the phone. No one would even know I fulfilled my need to know while I made a hat especially for them. Now who was it that said “Idle hands are the devil’s delight” or something similar? He or she would be so right if they knew about the usefulness of telephone headsets to spread slander.

2. Ott-Lite! This is something I could really use for sewing and knitting. I was ripping out not one but two line of stitching on a dress hem this weekend, and it was such a bear with the weak lights I have in my house (I need to get all lights to take strength-training courses so that they can be stronger.) There I was using a magnifying glass and a seam ripper. If you were here you would have heard the following: rip, rip. “Oops, I tore the fabric. What am I going to do now?” Another rip, rip, rip. “This is going to take forever. I guess I can’t wear this dress to Vogue Fabrics today.” Rip. “Uh oh, I’m going to miss my train. I better stop now.” Snip, tear, snip. “I think I’ve missed that train. I rather finish this now.” Five hours passed, dusk has settled in. “Finally, I’m done. This would have gone so much faster if I only had an Ott-Lite (the floor-lamp variety). Likewise, (recently) I was pulling out some stitches on my latest knitting adventure, a short-sleeved top worked in the round. My nose was nearly buried in the yarn, it’s that difficult to see. But I frogstitched my way out of trouble, and back to the beginning. Yes, this spring-weight top will be ready by fall, if I’m lucky, but aren’t I always? I found two pennies on the street this morning.

3. A fabric organizer. This would resemble the shoe-rack.* But it would be much larger to accommodate the growing fabric stash, which still has yet to rival the Willow Road landfill. My stash is considerably smaller, really, it might look more like the laundry “hills” that used to accumulate in the basement of our house on Washington Street. But even those mini-mountains got reduced with sheer effort! With my fabric organizer cabinet I could view all my incredible finds, and consequently make more of an effort to use it all before all the ice caps melt in the next decade. Then I’ll least have something to wear while I’m sitting on a rapidly dwindling ice cube in the middle of Lake Michigan. You see, you have to think ahead to prepare those days you never thought would come. Yes, I’ll be fashionably attired when the beach arrives at my Wolcott Street address. I may not be able to sell my condo any time soon, but at least be able to say truthfully that I have a Lakefront Location, which could boost the value of my property. Hah!
* I had mentioned I wanted a shoe rack: a box with cubby holes. **The fabric swatch above? It's part of a wrap-dress I'm finishing. Tonight I'm hemming it if I don't fall asleep. I feel ready to fall asleep and it's only 7 p.m.

Monday, April 7, 2008

For Hat Lovers...*

I received this email from my friend Eia:

I'll be teaching a week-long hat course this coming August at Ox-Bow, the School of the Art Institute's summer location in Saugatuck Michigan. Registration is open to both matriculating students looking for degree credit as well as those just interested in learning a few different straw hat techniques while being outdoors. Details about Ox-Bow and course registration can be found at

Email with questions.

Here's the course info:

FASH 602 001
Headwear Design: Straw Sculpture
August 17-August 23, 2008
1 credit hour
Instructor: Eia Radosavljevic
$100 Lab Fee

In this course students create headwear ranging from conventional to avant-garde using millinery straw in three different forms—flat yardage, braided, and traditional “hood” or “capeline.” Beginning with traditional techniques, students are encouraged to venture into non-traditional straw sculpting, inspired by the nature that surrounds them. Investigation and discussion of the historical, haute couture, functional, spiritual, or social roles of headwear will follow a visual presentation. No prior hand-sewing experience is necessary. The supply list is provided in advance, and more difficult to find source materials are provided by the instructor and included in the lab fee.
* The skirt has nothing to do with the post. It is gratuitous. But if you must know, it's a Blue Sky Alpaca knitting pattern. I love it except it has a tendency to drop down at any moment despite all the elastic I threaded in the waistband. Sigh. So I wear it very little.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Forget Ribbons, Bring On The Nail Polish

This is what I wrote to some friends last year after I returned from this conference:

When Your Baggage Is Held Hostage...

...or at least when it seems like it. I'm back from New York City, but my luggage isn't. It apparently ran away from me while I was in the Big Apple, because when the United plane touched down, my luggage wasn't on it.

Yes, my big momma of a luggage bag decided to take a side trip to North Carolina where a passenger picked it up at the baggage claim, took it home, opened it up and said, "This isn't my luggage!" when he saw my panties, stockings, wedgies, and bras. You'd think he'd check before he left the airport, but no!

Anyhow his wife called me 9 p.m., and asked if I had her husband's luggage. I don't.

I've talked to United, but I keep getting the same guy who cannot speak English nor can he seem to get my luggage back to Chicago. Is there someone in public relations I can talk to at United? When I call Man with My Luggage, he hangs up on me. Is he holding my suitcase hostage because he doesn't have his?

So I called the cops in this guy's town. Now I'm waiting for a call back from a police officer....which probably means I won't be getting my luggage back today. Sigh. I'm not sure when I'll see my Bebe platforms, BCBG wedgies and Victoria's Secret undies again, but I really want my make up and other personal hygiene stuff so I don't look scary when I walk outside.

My friends were quite interested in my plight. No one
wanted to know about the great place I went to in New York for my French manicure. Just what happened to me my stuff.

This is what I said:

I called the King., N.C. police. Since this wasn't exactly a 911 call in their eyes (don't they know how important it is to have your foundation? I played up the missing meds angle...even though it's only topical ointment for my zits...but that still didn't get their attention.) So seemingly hours later a nice lady, Robin, called me back. I told her my sob story, made it sound like I might die Very Soon without my prescriptions. "Can't you call your doctor and get another prescription?" she asked. "Aah...I could," I told her. I gave her the contact information for the Man With My Luggage. Since he had a foreign last name, she asked how his English was. Not very good, considering he hung up on me last time I called! But then again even people with perfect accents can accidentally end telephone conversation with a touch of a certain button.

So Robin calls me back a little while later to give me the bad news: your luggage will not be coming home tonight (That was Tuesday). The good news? United would be picking it up tomorrow (Wednesday).

So United called me first thing Tuesday to let me know that my darling suitcase would be home sometime that day. I gave them my home number, my cell phone, and I would have given them a homing pigeon but that didn't seem necessary. I didn't want to venture far yesterday because who knew when My Stuff would return? The day seemed long as I watched the clock on my computer, 1, 2, 3, 4 p.m. the day couldn't go fast enough. When, oh, when would United call? I figured I'd make some short quick trips. I went to my mother's for dinner...and wouldn't you know it United called during my return? (good things always happen when my stomach is full) I didn't catch the call quick enough on my cell, but the first words out of my mouth when they answered the phone was, "This is Mary Beth. When are you coming by with my luggage?" It seemed like a half-hour before I was transferred to another Nice Woman who told me that I would see my rollie bag in two hours. I was ready to dance on the top of the car. I didn't exactly speed home at that point though. Long story super short, United buzzed while I was updating my blog. A slightly pudgy guy lugged my 35-pound case up two flight of stairs. I was sooo thrilled to see my luggage, I tipped the guy $2! I shouldn't be tipping the air carrier that let my undies, make-up and other things to another part of the Planet for two entire days without me! But I did.

Wouldn't you know it but the two ribbons - one blue, the other white - tied onto the handle were missing? I'm calling United now.

End of story. I What I didn't mention in my missive was that the above skirt was in that piece of luggage. So it's been to some parts of the continent that I haven't even touched. At least I have it back. I don't wear it a whole lot because it is fitted. It starts as a small at the bottom, blossoms mid-way to accommodate my hip then tapers for the waist. I feel quite self-conscious in it because it accentuates my bottom (perhaps smarter?) half.

Anyhow, this year the skirt stays home. And the luggage? No more ribbons. I'm painting that baby with nail polish, so no man in his wrong mind would bring it home with him. What do you do keep your personal belongings from running astray while you're traveling?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

5 People I *Don't* Want to Meet in Heaven

I'm really not prone to dwelling about what happens in the hereafter, but I couldn't resist writing a list about the folks I don't want to see "upstairs" after I reading the same in Art Buchwald's last book. He not only writes about who he specifically doesn't want to encounter in Heaven, but what activities he won't do with them there if they happen to share the same space.

Here's my list:

1. My grade-school swim coach. He was mean. I can still see him pacing back and forth in the bleachers at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Natatorium. He'd have this scrunched-up look on his face; his arms folded over his barrel-shaped belly. He'd yell and scream at us scrawny swimmers. "Faster!" and "Go! Go! Go!" He really wanted me to do a flip turn at the end of the pool so I could compete in races. But I couldn't do it. I couldn't master that under-water somersault. I'd do my breaststroke: scoop, scoop, scoop the water, my head bobbing up and down in the water as approached The End. Then I'd panic. I actually felt claustrophobic. I'd get all twisted up at the tiled wall. I'd swallow some water trying to do the flip. I said forget competing. I'm not doing this. So I didn't, to some regret. Oddly enough, I can do the flip turn now. I couldn't learn under pressure. I'm certain my coach, who was already advanced in his years, has beat me to the Finish Line Above. Still we are not swimming in the same pool. Ever. We're not going to share pina coladas at a warm-report. We're not going to talk about purchasing an infinity pool.

2. My swing-dance instructor. He's still alive, but thankfully doesn't live nearby. I'll admit I had a crush on him. His footwork was divine, his attire, vintage. He had the whole 1930s handsome man look down pat. I'd get flustered around him, of course, yet I was brave enough to give him a jar of homemade jam I made. Much later, he gave me an old 1930s print of two thin ladies in the Art Deco dresses; the print actually had two fabric swatches on it. The idea was that whoever saw the fabric would want to make the pictured outfits. Admittedly, my crush went in overtime at this point. Oh, he must like me!!!!When I invited him to a hat event at a local French brasserie, he was so cold I ended up calling up a girlfriend in tears mid-way through the event. He wouldn't talk or even look at me at subsequent dances. I was invisible to him! So if he makes it upstairs (and I'm thinking he won't) we're definitely not going to do the cha-cha, the balboa, the lindy hop or the foxtrot even if I'm the last woman available. We're also not going to any flea markets. That's that. Let him suffer in the presence of St. Peter, if that's possible.

3. Guy who damaged my Hyudai Excel. This is more than 10 years ago. I was driving westbound on a late rainy afternoon. Lights were on, roads were slick. Motorist in the eastbound lane spins out into the westbound side inexplicably. The car he struck hit mine, and so on, causing a four-car collision. My auto had minor damages and was still operable. His? Totalled. I didn't even see what he looked like, he was carted away in an ambulance so quickly. No one seem to know why he turned when he did. For a long time, I couldn't drive in the lane closest to oncoming traffic. It was too traumatic. I blame that mysterious man for that. So if he's in Heaven? We're not going to share a car ride anywhere; we're not going to retro automobile shows and he's not allowed to park his vehicle anywhere near mine.

4. Editor at downtown publication. She wasn't my first one at this particular job. But she was toughest one to please. She'd come from a law newsy. So she knew how to write. Her double-chin would get all bent out of shape when I split infinitives in my copy. She said that simply wasn't done and wrote so in my evaluations after I was put on probation (you see where this is going). I'd have to sit in her office and listen to all of this while she nervously would play with a pencil. Soon enough, it was bye-bye and I was out like trout. No job. For the longest time, I couldn't bring myself to write. I was no good. I spent my time washing windows for my mom, earning some cash. A freelance article (assigned) ended the drought, and I was back to writing with some confidence. So if Ms. editor is at top of the stairs? We're not attending writing conferences together, we're not writing or editing the same periodical, and she's not allowed to be in the same bookstore if I arrive first.

5. Glenbrook South High School driving instructor. He flunked me because he said I was a danger on the road. All because I cut someone off a little too soon once when we were on the road together. I also had trouble parallel parking. So while I aced the written part of the class, I failed the actual driving. I was so embarrassed. What would I tell my friends? I couldn't tell the truth. So I told a lie. I said my parents wouldn't let me drive. I had to wait a whole year before I could take this summer-class again (my private school didn't offer this luxury and our family didn't have the budget for one-one-one lessons). I passed. Oddly enough, I've yet to get a driving-related ticket. So if Mr. Hot Shot instructor is on the Top Floor, we're not going to same DMV for our celestial licenses; we're not sharing any vehicle to the latter, and we're certainly not taken any courses together. No way, Jose!

So. What five humans do you not want to see in Heaven? If they're there, what are you not doing together? Feel free to write a post on the topic on your blog, leave a link on mine, or write the whole shebang right here!
* By the way, I still don't have my hands on the latest Burda. I did go to the newsstand yesterday. They had the Spanish version. I didn't do better at the fabric store today. The older issue was still there. Oh well. There's always next week.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Not On My Way to the Fabric Store*

11:30 a.m.
I'm barely standing at the corner for two minutes, when I see the no. 96 bus approaching. I don't see my life flashing before my eyes, but I do see a Rival hot pot in the corner of my dirt-laden kitchen plugged in. I see steam emitting from a spout. In my mind, I picture the plastic container boiling away all the remaining water while I'm gone for two hours running errands, like going to this fabric store, buying some make-up, and then vitamins at Whole Foods. But I have to make split-second decision. Do I run back into my apartment to check on the potential electrical fiasco which could become a fire? Or do I catch this bus so I don't have to wait another 20 minutes for the next one? I decide to board. I figure the pot must unplugged or I will return to smoldering grounds where my condo once existed.

12 noon After taking an elevated train to the northernmost post of Chicago, I'm waiting to catch the next leg (not arm) of my trip. While I'm there with a lunch-time crowd of commuters, I'm thinking. Do I go get the latest issue of Burda World of Fashion magazine now or later? Now or later? I opt for later because I can shop more easily and quicker on a full stomach. I avert my eyes as the train pauses at the stop two blocks away from the aforementioned textile shop, burps a few people and then goes as its merry way. Only an invisible hand can keep me from getting off too. I console myself with the thought of food. I'll take a Hershey's Extra Dark chocolate bar over a chance to pet the fabrics any day. Right?

12:15 p.m. I return a book to the library. I figure I'll whisk through the grocery store, and then do the same at the CVS to pick up cosmetics. Do it fast enough I'll have some extra minutes to go grab that particular magazine. For some reason, I'm obsessed with this getting this now, especially after I saw it online yesterday. You know that invisible hand I was talking about earlier? It yanked me again, this time pulling me to the library. I was convinced I needed some free reading material now. I'd really wanted to read Art Buchwald's book. That was more essential than seeing the latest and great fashions, although I did peek through that book Parisiennes: A Celebration of French Women. I even carried around with me inside the library. I decided it was too heavy too bring home. I would have spent more time dissecting the 1940s picture of women dressed in dresses depicting their countries. Gal with the American flag dress was my favorite. I wondered if she sewed it, and where it might be now, at this moment. I'm hoping it wasn't turn into rags to scrub the floors. Since the coffee-table book was deemed bad for my back, I searched for Buchwald's tome. With the help of the librarian, I was able to check this book out and put it in a purse pocket.

12:30 p.m. Lunch hour is drawing to a close. What's more important - make up or guess what? I decide enhanced physical beauty ranks higher, so I quickly walk to the CVS with my list in hand. I quickly locate the required foundation and mascara, and make a beeline for the chocolates. Once all the goods are procured, I stand in line, which seems longer than usual. Why are there are so many people in the check-out when I'm in hurry?

12:45 p.m. I'm waiting for the train which will cross Evanston-Chicago border. Even though 1 p.m. is more rapidly encroaching than my train, my brain is still obsessing. Burda WOF or no? Burda WOF or no? It (my brain) locks on a decision: no magazine for now. Instant gratification must be delayed, at least for a day. I have a fleeting notion to make a quick visit later before the store shuts at 5:30 p.m. to pick up my aorta's desire. But my better half (usually the right side) denies me three times. Get it tomorrow. Make that purchase something to look forward to tomorrow. That way I have something to dream about. I can visualize myself waiting for the Metra train (the diesel variety, not the aforementioned electric one), waving to the the engineer who usually responds and toots his horn. I board, pay my $2.50 for a one-way fare one stop away. Two minutes later, I'm at the stop that takes me to the magazine that brings me to bliss. Of course, I could purchase it at the newspaper stand, which is not at even a half-a-block away, but what fun would that be? I wouldn't have the fun diversion of fabric, notions and threads, just People Magazine, Threads, Newsweek, Lucky, Glamour and other practical reading material.

2:15 p.m. It turns out my apartment, which has been standing since the 1920s, remains visible. The tea pot point apparently didn't reach the boiling point. In fact, I discover it was unplugged. So I get busy doing what needs to be done - reading about the Pregnant Man, my favorite blogs to see if they've been updated since I last visited earlier this morning. That done, I move onto the next order of busy-ness: blogging. Even as I type away on my keyboard, I'm still trying to figure out a way to get my magazine fix. I just might be able to squeeze in getting that magazine tonight. Here are some questions I'm trying to answer: is this too much to do when I'm trying to meet up with someone early in the evening? Should I use that time to fuss with my hair, shave my mustache and contemplate eradicating the fur on my legs?

2:28 p.m. I've just finished a call in regards to tonight's plans. Since the weather's nice and the days are longer and the nights are growing stronger, what would it hurt to go get what I really wanted to get at mid-day?
* The skirt above? It's knitted, not sewn. It's a Kat Coyle pattern. I made it!