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Hey folks! Just letting you know that I will be documenting my Cosplay of San for To Be Continued over at my sewing blog, Gathering Pins. Enjoy!
Moods of To-day:
hot sweaty
Stylings of To-day:
"Colleen" - Joanna Newsom
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(Posting this blog entry’s full text, because I want to share and am desperate to start a discussion on this. Here is the original post.)

I screwed up today, friends. In a major way. I misgendered a child at work. I am profoundly disappointed in myself. Here’s what happened: a man came in with his kid, who had shoulder-length hair and was wearing brown corduroys and one of the shirts we sell as a boy’s T-shirt. They went to the boy’s swimwear section and started shopping. The kid didn’t really say anything, and spent most of the time climbing around on our shelves and so forth. I assumed this child was a boy, and I was wrong! It seems that despite all my desire to revolutionize the way we treat gender in our society, and my recognition that this needs to begin and end with how we treat children, sometimes I am part of the problem. Despite my frequent frustration that we even divide our clothes into “boys” and “girls” at all, I went ahead and assumed that a child wearing a T-shirt we market to boys was, indeed, a boy.

Now, the reason why I acted this way is simple: I wasn’t thinking. When I’m at home in the comfort of my room, browsing the internet, in class, etc. I usually have the presence of mind to have things like gender identity and sensitivity with labeling at the forefront of my thoughts. When I’m at work, I go to a different place. I’m more concerned with maintaining a smooth (and this usually means superficial) shopping experience with customers. This means I’m not really going to go around asking everyone their preferred gender pronouns, even though I recognize that I would do that in the ideal world that I’d like to think I’m helping to make. Everyone would do it, and it would be normal! But when I’m at work, I find myself conforming to the present-day definition of normal, even if I don’t particularly like it. Now, obviously, if a child takes the initiative to seek out clothes of the “other gender,” I’m happy to help. When I made the mistake of using “he” to refer to the girl at the store today, I instantly apologized to her and her father and made it clear that I would be happy to help them pick out clothes of any sort.

As you all know, I’m a bit of a dreamer, so long before today I thought up a solution for this problem, set in the future where I have my own children’s clothing store. In this store, every employee is trained to ask customers for their PGPs right off the bat and explain the term for those who don’t know it, and obviously none of our clothes are divided by gender. Au contraire, our sections are grouped by color schemes, patterns, styles, etc. Skirts all mixed up with pants and dresses and vests and shirts and so forth, with no one telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t be wearing. Where the store I work now has little cards at the register explaining our sizes and return policy, or offering cutesy little phrases in Swedish, my pipe-dream store’s cards will have glossaries of important LGBT* terms, links to local support groups and family resources, and so forth.

So I don’t know. I think my head’s in the right place, but sometimes in the heat of the retail-industry moment, I play the part of an ignorant pawn of tired stereotypes.What do you folks think? Have you encountered similar customer-service dilemmas? Do you find yourself playing an uncomfortable role when you deal with the presumed “normal people” who you interact with? Is there a way to reconcile radical thought with comforting, unobjectionable customer sweet-talk? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

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Hey folks! Look, it's another post on my new fashion/sewing blog, Gathering Pins. Maybe you should read it? I love you!
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Hey folks. Another entry is up at Gathering Pins! This one is actually about sewing! You should probably go read it. I promise I will stop plugging my new blog here soon. Gotta drum up some traffic and get the momentum going.
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God, I'm so sorry about that title.

Anyway, here is a link to my new sewing blog, Gathering Pins. Enjoy! More entries to come in the next few days, I promise! I already have a few planned with my first sewing project and a few outfits I've tried lately.

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As promised, I have returned to LiveJournal to describe in more detail the major life decisions I have recently made. Given that I am still feeling pretty fuzzy about a lot of this, I have decided to list my new plans in (roughly) decreasing order of the likelihood that they will happen or be carried out successfully.

1. Learn how to sew, and make and design more clothes. This is a new skill I am learning, and I love it. I love fabric, I love fashion, and I love making things. I'm going to make weird, gender-fluid clothes for myself, fun and funky and stylish clothes for my friends, cool and expressive clothes for kids that I know, costumes for LARPs, and maybe even some stuff to sell online. Who knows?

2. Start making more art of all forms. I haven't been drawing enough lately. I need to do that. I also need to start exploring the art scene in Boston and opening myself to the possibility of finding venues for performance and installation pieces. I haven't done any since April 2010, and that's too long.

3. Start a new blog to chronicle my sewing progress and my new fashion exploits. I want to try new ways of looking all the time, and I want to share them with the world. I'll probably be putting some art and general commentary on fashion and clothing and visual culture in general there. There is a 99% likelihood that it will be named Gathering Pins, and a very strong possibility that I will be writing the first few entries and posting them this Thursday (my first full day off). It will probably be on blogspot, not Livejournal, and I will be creating a new Tumblr URL to distribute my articles and reblog fashion, clothes, and sewing nonsense.

4. Take a year off from Simmons grad school. We're still in the realm of "nearly definite" here. I've become pretty burnt out with English, and the only thing that could keep me in the program is that, if I keep going for my Dual Degree, I only have two more English classes to finish. I don't really know what use I have for an MA in English right now, but it might be nice to have. Meanwhile, I think I definitely want an MAT of some sort. Though I've become a little burnt out on English, I find that I still have a strong emotional connection to the idea of teaching. I will be talking to my advisors, and hopefully taking a year off from full-time studies. If it seems wise and feasible, I may throw in a class here and there to keep on track.

5. Return to grad school after a year for an MAT in Elementary Education, not High School. A dream I had recently reminded me that I actually had a hard time deciding between Elementary and High School (and, to a lesser extent, Middle School). It also reminded me that "Teach High School English" and "Don't Teach" aren't my only options. My frustration with English led me to believe that I would be frustrated with the busywork of being a HS English teacher, but I don't know if I would feel the same way about the work involved in being an Elementary teacher. Perhaps even an art teacher? It seems like a very intuitive choice, and I'm a little frustrated with myself for the leaps of logic I've taken to get away from thinking intuitively here.

6. Work as an Elementary classroom aide next year. This is a possible job opportunity that has floated my way in the past couple of days. I'm very excited to follow through with it and see if it leads anywhere.

7. Design, make, and sell children's clothing. Professionally. Now we're getting into the realm of "pipe dream" that I brought up in that last entry. At that point, I was seriously considering just tossing out all thoughts of teaching and pursuing this ambition with full fervor. It's still a possibility, and it's my little fantasy. I still think it's worth nurturing - I like kids, I like clothing, and I like making things. Surprisingly, I actually like working retail, too. Again, I have no idea how I would make this happen in reality, but I've opened myself to the possibility of doing things I don't know how to do just because I want to do them. Obviously, there are a lot of steps between there and here, and that's where Plan #1 comes in. I may again reach the point where I decide that nothing else is worth distracting me from this fantasy, but for the time being I think I can balance teaching little kids with developing my artistic and creative skills. We'll see!

8. Become a world-famous clothing designer. It may surprise some of you that I aspire to fame and wealth beyond measure, but I really honestly do. I don't know what the hell I would do with it. Probably nothing good. It might lead me to hate myself. But I kind of really want it. It's hard for me to admit and share ridiculous goals like this, but I can actually kind of picture myself achieving this someday. I fantasize about being a famous eccentric figurehead and the leader of a cultural rebellion, so why not take actual steps towards being that? Why not?

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Hello Livejournal Friends,

    I posted a poll on Facebook, asking people to help me choose a name for my new sewing blog. Unfortunately the results were not really helpful. I didn't get more than one vote on any option. So I am asking people to give me feedback here. Please choose one of these names, going on the assumption that the blog will only have one of these names. You are welcome to make further suggestions, but first and foremost I'd really just like a tally of support for the following three options, based pretty much on look and feel:

1) Path of Needles

2) Path of Pins

3) Gathering Pins

The blog will basically be about my adventures in teaching myself to sew and trying weird new clothes and fashions for myself. For reference, this article explains the folkloric origins of all of these phrases. Leave your vote in the comments section, along with any other comments you might have! If you already voted on facebook, please vote again!

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I have a knack for making people uncomfortable. Do you know how I do it? I tell them when they're making me uncomfortable.

At work today, I was checking our sales reports at the register's computers when one of my managers jokingly hit me on the arm. Just a friendly little tap, nothing particularly out of the ordinary or inappropriate, but it made me uncomfortable. As you may already know, I am often pretty wary of unsolicited physical contact, and this particular instance of it made me feel kind of weird. So I said "Please don't hit me" in a friendly but sincere way.

In a reasonable world, that would be the end of this interaction, and it would not escalate into anything worthy of Writing About on the Internet. But in this world, the actual world, people are not expected to express their personal boundaries in the open in a sincere way. People are expected to, ahem, "roll with the punches," and accept unwelcome (but well-intentioned) physical contact from other people with good humor and self-deprecation. So what happened was that my manager (who, I must stress, is a generally great person but who has a tendency to get very nervous and magnify awkward or imperfect moments to a hyperbolic degree) kept harping on the fact that I was really not kidding when I told her not to hit me and seriously wanted her not to do that anymore. She alluded to now being able to confirm with other people that when I say something, I really mean it! She nervously acknowledged that a lot of people will say things like I said in a joking way, or make such requests facetiously, and that it was good that I said what I meant in a direct manner. She also mentioned that, since she would now be thinking about the fact that I'd asked her not to hit me, she might subconsciously hit me again. I told her that I would really appreciate it if she didn't do that, and after a very strange and awkward conversation that lasted far too long, I think she now understands that I actually meant the thing I said.

To generalize: I really think people ought to say what they mean and say it in such a way that indicates that they mean it. I think that they ought to express their boundaries and discomforts with other people's behavior openly and without reservation, not even for a moment stopping to consider the feelings of the other person or the issues this declaration might raise in a social setting. Too often I have observed my friends respond to what I perceived (perhaps incorrectly, as I am very sensitive to these things) as gross invasions of their personal space by laughingly insisting that the perpetrator of these invasions should stop or cut it out or whatever. They then hit this person in a teasing way or roll their eyes at the person's continued refusal to respect their personal space or agency, and essentially encourage the behavior by trivializing their own resistance. Obviously, I would never blame the victim of a personal space invasion or unwanted (but well-intentioned) physical contact for what happens to them, but it is clear to me in many instances that if people are not called on their behavior in a decisive, direct, forceful, and unrepentantly public way, they do not think they are doing anything wrong. If I had not told my manager not to hit me today, or if I had failed to reiterate my desire upwards of a dozen times in the next twenty minutes or so, I have no doubt that she "wouldn't have gotten the message." This is not entirely her fault (though I do think people should be held accountable for being oblivious) - it is the fault of our society for telling us all that social norms of personal contact are more important than individual feelings. And the only way to change those norms is to fight for our feelings whenever the opportunity arises.

Locations of To-day:
Moods of To-day:
contemplative contemplative
Stylings of To-day:
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I am nearing the possibility of a very major decision in my life. Until I make it, I will not reveal exactly what it is. It will not be made until May 8 at the earliest and sometime in August at the latest. In this post, I will discuss some of my reasons for strongly considering this decision, and it may be quite possible for you to discern what the decision is.

Reason #1) I am Not Happy. I spend a lot of time worrying about the correct thing to do and very little time doing the things that I want to do. I recognize that I am a very selfish person, and that one does not do the correct thing because it feels good, but rather because it is correct. That being said, I have sought to find some kind of balance between "doing the right thing" and "doing the thing that feels right," and my current path in life is not cutting it. It may have been a mistake for me to pursue a Dual Master's Degree when the reality of the situation was that I wanted to be a teacher and felt I needed to get an English Degree as well. I say this because while the thought of being a teacher still inspires some amount of hope and excitement in me, the tasks associated with my current studies (reading, writing, editing, researching, etc.) are trying my patience. They are not viscerally enriching to me. The thought of standing in front of a class of students guiding them to learning and communication and thought is still appealing, but the thought of taking my work home with me every night and sifting through the tedium of grading, lesson planning, reading, notetaking, etc. while other desires and unfulfilled wishes gnaw at the back of my mind is not. At all.

Reason #2) I have Other Desires and Unfulfilled Wishes Gnawing at the Back of My Mind. The last time I made a big decision about the course of my life, it was because I realized that all my homework for science classes was distracting me from what I actually wanted to be doing, which was drawing. It was a very easy decision, once I got over how I thought other people would react, to decide not to go to Med School and instead major in Art. And except for some very silly little reasons that occasionally prickle the darker recesses of my brain, I do not regret this decision at all. Right now, I feel that all my homework for English (and teaching classes, except they never really assign significant amounts of homework) are distracting me from the things I want to be doing: drawing, writing creatively, and learning to sew. In other words, from making things. When I think about teaching, I wedge in elements of creativity as though they are a consolation prize: "well, I'd be creating lesson plans, and encouraging others to create, and that will feel good." I am less and less convinced by my rationalizations every day.

Reason #3) I Need to Focus. From time to time, I sit back and think "if I could just figure out the one thing I must do, I would do it with all my strength and energy and not let myself get spread thin across the thousand needs that divide my time every day. I would devote every spare second to this task, and my hunger for it would drive me to reach my fullest potential." Unlike ever before, I am beginning to think I may have stumbled into this task. I do not yet feel comfortable discussing it, because the voices that tell me it is silly and unfeasible and a dream or fantasy are still very very strong. But for a variety of mysterious reasons (some of which I am listing right now), I am starting to trust the voices that say "It doesn't matter how silly or fantastic this is. It's your dream and you've had it for a long time (even if it started unconsciously as all proper dreams do) and you can live it, but you have to choose to live it and that means giving other things up."

Reason #4) I Feel Capable. For a very long time, I have been doing things because I feel able to do them, instead of because I want to do them. In the years since choosing not to go to Med School, I have come closer to actually doing what I want by a series of compromises, trying to find more and more balanced combinations of "I want to do this" and "I can do this." Unfortunately, some unnameable force (insecurity? lack of confidence? fear? self-hatred?) has been equating "I can do this" with "it is easy for me to do this," and tacking on "I want to do this" as a rationalization after the fact. Do I want to teach? Yes, inasmuch as I want to be a positive influence on the world and especially young people. Do I want to teach High School English? That is a strange compromise that I don't even fully understand anymore. More importantly, I do not know why I was compromising. A person as smart, creative, talented, and thoughtful as I am should be able to see any task in the world as falling into the category of "I can do it." I should be looking for risks, challenges, and silly fantastic pipe dreams to pursue, instead of rational, well-plotted paths that take me somewhere comfortable and recognizable. With this need for compromise out of the way, I should be pursuing every inkling of "I want to do this" with as much fervor as possible, instead of putting them into the big box of "things I'll do if I have time." And I think it's time for me to stop bullshitting myself and go after what I want.

Unfortunately, all of this radical thinking could only come during a time of great stress, frustration, and near-hopelessness, and now is such a time. That means that if I want to run Jesriah at Festival and pass all (or any) of my classes this semester, I can't act on this decision until the semester is over. Thus, May 8. Beginning on that date (and maybe before if I cheat), I will begin to set in motion the first steps of my new life plan. If all goes well, I should be a household name in this country by 2025 or so. I think I deserve it.

Moods of To-day:
determined determined
Stylings of To-day:
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Since it seems like the thing to do, here is a (hopefully?) spoiler-free report from Intercon L!

Friday Night - Feast of the MinotaurCollapse )

Saturday Morning - The Madrian SecretCollapse )

Saturday Afternoon - Hyakumonogatari KadankaiCollapse )

Saturday Night - The Prince Comes of AgeCollapse )

Sunday Morning - GM SpaceCollapse )
Locations of To-day:
home again
Moods of To-day:
accomplished accomplished
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