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A Room of One’s Own

19 Jul

My office is exactly the kind of space I dreamed of having as a teen who was sad and overwhelmed all the time and didn’t know why.

mr. biscuit and I live in a 2 bed/2bath condo we rent in a small, quiet community in the city. It took us two years, two shitty apartments, a lot of shitty neighbors, and three moves to get back into a space we love as much as the last place we loved. It has hardwoods throughout, a lot of natural light, quiet neighbors, a beautiful covered porch, and so much hot water I’ve never run out, which is very important since I am part dragon and at our last place I had to boil water on the stove to fill the tub. We’ve put a lot of work into making it feel like home, framing art and pictures for the walls and being proactive about decluttering and keeping things tidy-ish. I love almost every part of our home (the master bathroom has terrible lighting, causing me no end of trauma).

When I was young, I vacillated wildly between terror of being alone and fury that I was surrounded by people. That hasn’t really changed, I’ve just learned to recognize whether I want solitude or company at any given moment, anticipate how long I have before that chances, and calm my raging monster of a brain if I can’t get what I want. The one thing I always wanted, though, was a place I could retreat to that was totally my own, where nobody could have input into my decorations, projects, organizational schemes, music choices, or the obscene number of purple containers I have and scented candles I choose to burn at any given moment. For a long while my car was that space (it still is to an extent), but spoiler alert: you can’t do a lot of projects in the car, and if it’s comfortable enough to hang out in the car while you’re not driving you’re probably wasting a SHITLOAD of gas, you planet-killing MONSTER.

That brings us to the concept of my office.

I can’t remember when I first decided I wanted an office. When mr. biscuit began a job that let him telework a few years ago, we knew we’d need a separate space for him to set up so that his workaholic ass would have clear delineation between Work Time and Not Work Time, and also so the cats wouldn’t mess with his stuff. It seemed logical that I should also have a space for all my projects, their assorted accoutrements, and all the memorabilia I have collected over the years.

Nowadays he’s working at the company office, and we share the second bedroom as our joint office. It’s divided almost straight down the center, or it would be if I had packed up my stuff from my last project rather than leave it lying around. My half of the office is my favorite place in the apartment, especially now that I’m working from home. I don’t always spend my time here. I do my yoga in the bedroom, which has the most space and is a peaceful, tidy, comfortable little oasis that is all about us. I cuddle with the cats on the couch. I also spend a lot of time on the porch (or would, except that it’s 900,000,000 degrees outside right now).

My half of the office has a very specific vibe that I love. My desk is against a large window that overlooks a bunch of greenery. I’ve put up some strands of colored crystals to hang in front of the window and catch the light. All my books are here. When I sit at my desk and look around, I see my history. The things I’m proud of, the people and things I love. The tools of my work are here–computer, pens, ten thousand notebooks, costumes, fabric and notions, sewing machines, guitar. I work here. I read here. I stare out the window and daydream here. I listen to whatever the fuck I want to listen to here, and I pretend that no one else knows I’ve played “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister a thousand times already today. From the collection of art (sketches, custom work, prints, framed photos, a little Spanish mission made of cardstock) to the awards to the purple Mason jars to the 6 lb jar of purple glitter to the tiaras to the half dozen signs with my name on them, everything here is here because it makes me feel proud, happy, joyful, nostalgic, amused, thoughtful, strong, safe. Good. I remember who I am in this room.

Of course it’s not perfect.I’m pretty sure that mr. biscuit does in fact know that I’ve listened to “Kyrie” a thousand times, because he’d not deaf. I wish the closet was bigger. The cat boxes live in the bathtub in the attached bathroom and my cats make the stinkiest poops when they feel I haven’t been paying enough attention to them. There are never enough outlets. I keep forgetting to leave a tissue box in here. And though I understand the value of daydreaming, of idleness, sometimes I still have to fight the pressure to Be A Serious Creative when I’m sitting at my desk. But in here I get to shut out other stuff and focus on being me. It’s pretty close to being perfect.

I feel most at home when I’m laying in bed with mr. biscuit’s arms around me and a cat on either side of us. I feel most myself when I’m in my office, being whatever I want.

Out of curiosity, I asked some friends what their favorite room or space in their home is. The overwhelming majority have said their office. My sister, on the other hand, said under the table, and when asked why, she responded with one word: “Fort!!!” We’re not really so different, she and I.

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DragonCon prep: a montage

21 Aug

When the hour’s approaching to give it your best, and you’ve got to reach your prime

hour approaching

That’s when you need to put yourself to the test

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and show us the passage of time

show us the passing of time

We’re gonna need a montage! Ooh, it takes a montage!

MONTAGE!

Show a lot of things happening at once

Remind everyone of what’s going on!
remind everyone of what's going on

With every shot show a little improvement

To show it all would take too long

to show it all would take too long

That’s called a montage!

MONTAGE!

Oooh, we want a montage!

MONTAGE!

In anything, if you want to go from just a beginner

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to a pro

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You need a montage! Even Rocky had a montage!

MONTAGE!

Always fade out in a montage…

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If you fade out it seems like more time has passed in a montage…

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…montage….

Le Corset: Les Pictures

2 Mar

I was reminded that nothing is real on the internet unless there are pictures of it, so: corset pictures.
Continue reading

In which I do things the hard way and fail

25 Jan

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

(Yeats, The Second Coming)

Esperanza, my ren faire character, is a recruitment officer for the Spanish Army*. Her purpose is two-fold: raise an army, take over England. Part of what I do is welcome people to Spain. It’s funny. People laugh. Early in her development, when I did this, someone asked me if I had a flag. I didn’t, but after the inevitable Eddie Izzard joke had run its course, the wheels in my head started turning, and I came up with what I believe is my best idea since I first gave mr. biscuit my email address: a flag cape!

So I did some research, and decided to use the Cross of Burgundy flag, which was the naval ensign in use by Spain until the 1700s, and was also the flag the Spanish flew over their colonies. You can see reminders of it in the state flags of Alabama and Florida. It also flies over the old Spanish forts in San Juan, Puerto Rico (where we took our honeymoon, incidentally, and bought the tiny cannon that lives on Esperanza’s hat).

So during the more helpful of my Sewing Lessons From A Friend, I created The Flag Cape Version 1.0. She had half of a circle skirt laying around for whatever reason, and it fit me perfectly as a short cape. We lined it with some shiny gold fabric I had, and I put together a close approximation of the design out of a patchwork of red fabric, everything from corduroy to Santa felt. Of course, I neglected to pre-wash any of the red, and the first time it rained it ran like mascara at a screening of Titanic, but I still thought it was pretty spiffy. It was certainly dramatic and swished nicely.

I don’t think I have a picture of this version, or if I do I can’t find it in any sort of reasonable span of time and therefore don’t care. It looked an awful lot like Version 2.0, because it’s the same cape, only for Version 2.0 I splurged on some super shiny satin and used that for the cross:

Behold also my living room table, which is too small and round to sew anything but too big to have any other furniture

As you can see, I was still just approximating the design. It worked well enough, I guess, but when I started Version 3.0 last week, I decided I wanted to Do This Shit Right. So I started over. Completely.

Instead of the scratchy, dirty-white, unidentified-synthetic-fabric I’d been using, I picked up a crisp white cotton something with a gift card, and switched the cheesy fire-engine-red for “linen look” (which is to say, a poly/rayon blend) in a more brick shade. I also found a beeeeeautiul soft yellow remnant for the lining, but I can’t find a picture of that, and since I did not bring it with me to this coffee shop, you will have to use your imagination and trust me when I tell you it all looks lovely together.

So the day before yesterday, I was sewing along. You may remember that things were not going well already, but I was cheerfully determined to move past it, especially given that I was already behind schedule. I kept encountering the same problem, though. I had determined to cut out the pieces of the saltire separately–two long lines, and then 24 little knots–for reasons unknown to me at this time. I think I thought it would be easier to position everything correctly? Anyway, it looked like this

Shortly thereafter I ran out of pins

I had pinned all the pieces into position, and then I added the bias tape I was using to hold down the edges. I didn’t bind the edges per se, just sort of…pinned it along the edges? I don’t know, it seemed to make sense when I began the long and arduous process of stitching all this down, using my most careful, attentive, Concentrating On My Sewing Face.

A reasonable facsimile of my Concentrating On My Sewing Face

As I continued, though, I noticed a problem. A repeated problem. The linen-look (whatever the hell that means) kept pulling out from under the bias tape, leaving my creation in tatters. As I repeatedly attempted to fix this in all the different places it occurred, it came to me that this was not just a repeated problem, but was, rather, due to an inherent design flaw. It was a Forever Problem.

So I decided to try again, slightly differently, by cutting out the entire saltire in one piece, edging it, and then stitching the whole thing onto the base. This time, I was going to make it work! And then, as I was picking out the (oh-so-carefully and tightly sewn) seams that connected the red to the white, I managed to tear a GIGANTIC FUCKING HOLE IN THE WHITE COTTON.

So yesterday I went back to the fabric store and got more. While it was washing, I killed dragons and Falmar in Skyrim and cried in my soul. And today when I get home from the adventures that have brought me to this coffee shop, I will try again.

Here is a picture of my cat watching me sew.

*please note that in the 1530s these things do not exist, and I am completely OK with this

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