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F*#&ING Fiber Arts

20 Apr

I have always maintained that if you’re not swearing while you’re sewing, you’re probably not doing it right.  Some people say that the secret ingredient in really excellent food is love (these people have obviously not encountered the perfection that is the egg mc muffin which is primarily made of sadness), but in sewing, I find that the secret ingredients are usually sass and fuckwords.  Holding firmly to this conviction, I contemplated naming my sewing “company” (because, let’s face it – sewing a few dozen pairs of baby pants for a craft fair does not make you an entrepreneur….) motherfucker inc. as I focused mostly on products for small children.  I ended up going with Meatloaf Sewing Co instead, but the fact remains – any fabric craft that goes down at the JS compound is fueled largely by foul language (and, indirectly, the aforementioned mc muffins).  That’s why you can imagine my delight upon discovering this little ditty via a pastor friend of mine who makes some seriously badass quilts (I’ve discussed how much I love my church family, yes?).  My birthday is in february.  Just in case you were wondering…

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Raindrops on Roses and Blah Blah Blah

4 Mar

That’s right!  It’s time to share our favorite things!  Here, I’ll go first.  I can’t remember how I was introduced to this gem, but it remains one of the very best, most hilarious things I’ve ever seen on the interwebs.

A genus named Brad Neely wrote and recorded this amazing audio designed to accompany the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  There is a great story behind this work, and you can read all about it here.  I’ve watched this masterpiece all the way through at least a half-dozen times, pretty much always because I NEEDED to show it to someone who I thought would love it.  And now, I NEED to show you.  I think you’ll love it.

I can’t recommend watching the whole thing strongly enough, but here are a couple of clips – a preview if you will:

 

Precious Moments – Dance Teacher Edition – The Woodchip

18 Nov

I had a lovely dinner a few nights ago with a group of fellow dance educators.  As in any such gathering of like-minded professionals, we got to talking shop.  And drinking wine…

I have lots of funny stories from my position at the helm of various dance classes.  Children are hilarious, and when you combine their natural (albeit often unintentional) aptitude for comedy with specialized tight-fitting clothing, loud music, and a parent-free environment, great and wild times ensue.  I really love teaching and think my students are some of the smartest, kindest people I interact with.  But also, really and deeply funny.

For example, I’ll bet you’ve never considered what might happen if you send a 4-year-old to the bathroom and leave her unattended in the stall.  In my experience, all of the business goes fine, but the problem comes when Tiny Dancer emerges from the bathroom and rejoins the class.  She’s wearing her leotard alright, but what was once a private-parts covering garment has been turned into a confusing, x-rated harness.  It’s like a one-shouldered, crotchless jumpsuit.  She has turned it upside down, put her legs through the arm holes, her head and arm through one leg hole, and her other arm through the other.  She knows something isn’t quite right, but has decided to forge ahead, hoping that her confidence will see her through.

There are the 3 year olds who wear a skirt and no underpants to creative movement class and are discovered when the class is sitting in a circle, straddle stretching (and the mortified parents who attest to the fact that when Tiny Dancer left the house she was definitely wearing underpants).

Of course there is pants peeing, and even more unfortunate, pants pooping (and once when there was a poop smearing incident that I’d rather not think too much about).

Then there was the time that one of my male students told me (and the rest of the class) that his balls were really itchy.  I stood there stunned for a second, during which he sat down, peeled off his shoes, and went to town scratching his socked feet.  It was a proud moment, in the sense that the kid was learning his dance terminology.

A dad once asked me if his daughter could wear sunglasses for the spring recital because the lights seemed really bright to him.  In hindsight, I’m pretty pissed at myself that I suggested that she probably shouldn’t.  That would have been comedy gold.

I’ve got lots more where that came from, but the best of the best is definitely The Woodchip Story.  Everyone has a go-to move.  This is mine.

Picture 15 five-year olds in a tap-dancing frenzy (take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is not a nightmare, but rather a fun activity for children).  The class is drawing to a close, with 5 minutes left to go enjoy.  The children are all practicing shuffling off to buffalo, when out of the corner of my eye, I spy little Rita holding her crotch and wiggling uncomfortably.  This, of course, is nothing new.  Potty time is a regular event during tap-madness, and so I inquire.  “It hurts real bad right here” she says with an emphatic point.  Oh, man.  That is NOT my department, kiddo.  I asked “Is your mom/dad/sitter/whoever here?”  They’re not.  I explain that we’ve got a few more minutes and ask if the hurt can wait, or if it’s a “right now” problem.  It can wait.  Whew.  We continue shuffling off to buffalo.  I occasionally see Rita grabbing and looking uncomfortable, but with only a minute or two to go, I decide to just keep going.  More tapping.  Out of the corner of my eye I see Rita again.  Oh lordess, Now she has her arm up the leg of her leotard, down her tights and she is, for lack of a better word, rooting around.  Sensing that something climactic is about to happen, I hustle over just in time to be presented with…………… a woodchip, which Rita proudly places in my hand and I promptly (without missing a beat) shove in my pocket.

Why I would hold out my hand to take a crotch-woodchip is beyond my knowledge, why and how a woodchip got into her nether regions is even more baffling (does her body make them?) – I’ve thought about this a lot over the years and find that it’s best not to push that particular issue.  When I talked to Rita’s mom after class, she thought it was pretty funny.  When I gave her the woodchip (I know!  Why did I do it?!), she thought it was gross.

 

Musical Torture

1 Oct

Oh the agony of having a song mercilessly repeating over and over again in your mind.  Now, imagine for a moment that you’re me and that song is one of the following:

Toot Sweet from the hit film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  And really just the part that goes “toot sweet, toot sweet” over and over again on continuous repeat – Neither my subconscious or my self (please calm down, philosophers) knows any of the other lyrics.  I refuse to look them up because doing so would result in a few days of non-stop stabbyness due to my having “the toot sweets”.  I consider this to be a legitimate reason for missing work and abstaining from household chores.

The official song of the fictional Women’s Baseball League from A League of Their Own.  I’ve seen this movie maybe a handful of times and know each and every godforsaken word.  Particularly evil friends have texted me the opening line of this song or simply “A League of Their Own.”  I think it speaks to my generous spirit that I am still on speaking terms with these people.

Lastly, most recently, and perhaps most enjoyably of the three, I find myself stuck on a line from Janet Jackson’s Feedback. I think it’s the best line in the song, so I mostly feel lucky.  Considering Ms. Jackson’s catalogue, it could have been much worse.  The lyric goes:

“My swagger’s serious – I’m heavy like a first day period.”

This mostly makes me feel like a badass, and helps me to have a positive feeling about menstruation.  Win win.  It’s a little weird to spend a whole day with these ideas though…  Especially if I get too pumped up on my own badassery while taking care of Ida.  It’s weird to talk trash to your baby.  I don’t think Dr. Sears approves.

If anyone out there can beat me in terms of weirdest music to get stuck in your head, I’ll give you 5 dollars and an in-home performance of songs from my brain.  I’m that confident.

Revelat(ion)er

1 Oct

I was very moved a few days ago upon hearing Gillian Welch’s song Everything Is Free.  The particular snippet that caught my attention was:

“If there’s something that you want to hear, sing it yourself.”

I always thought “yes, Gillian – I am so with you.  These jerks always want us to make a thing the way that they think it should be made – they are the worst – trying to squelch our unique voices with their dumb ideas”  I thought of all of the times that someone has said to me “you know what you should make a dance about?” and then proceeded to tell me some crazy-ass idea about how I should make the dance to thriller (um?), or choreograph a dance with a chair (!), or make a dance about (insert ridiculous movie/book/event here).  Parents – I’m pretty sure I don’t need to make the connection here for you about strangers who feel compelled to share their strong feelings on the state of your child’s (certainly frozen) feet.  As an aside, if any of you can share with me how to get a 12 month old to keep shoes and socks on, you should please feel free.  Consider your advice solicited.

But today, I realized that when Gillian (are we on a first name basis?  Should I say Ms. Welch?) says “you” that she might mean “me”.  That perhaps Gillian and I are not being catty jerks together – complaining about all those bozos who think they know best what we should do.  That perhaps Gillian is trying to tell me something.  It’s almost like she made the whole record in order for me to listen to it – to hear it – to be advised; the scope of her work reaching beyond a bitch session with yours truly (unknowable universe!).  Perhaps my looking her up on Wikipedia does not, in fact, make us close acquaintances as I imagine it does (I have a lot of famous friends, if you want to know the truth.  What?  Do you do something else in your free time?).

So anyway, I got to thinking about how I could hear those words in a completely different way.  I could hear them in a way that speaks to my advocacy in making my life exactly what I want it to be.  If I want to eat something, I can make that thing and eat it.  If I want to hear something, I can make that sound and listen.  If I want Ida to keep her shoes and socks on….. okay, so at a certain point this moving revelation breaks down a little bit, but you get the gist, right?  This is particularly relevant to me, because I’m a pretty critical person.  I don’t like much art (unless you make it and I love you – then you could poop on a popsicle stick and I would recognise it’s genius) and it often leaves me feeling frustrated.  I wish it were better, which mostly means that I wish it were what I wanted.  Which mostly means that I should just let someone else’s work be their work and make my own work in the way that makes sense to me.  I should sing the song I want to hear and listen when I do.

Gillian Welch.  That sneaky songstress is back door Ghandi-ing our brains!

The world is not just happening to us – we’re making it.  If I were leading some kind of discussion group about this idea (which, let’s face it, I am almost always imagining – my song has a choir singing backup and YOU are on alto, which is tricky so pay attention) I’d ask what “song’ you want to hear.  Mine has a lot to do with food and education these days…

Cheers, my friends.  Gill wants us to be the change and all that jazz.  I say we do it.

Hot/Not

7 Jul

Hot:

  • The wildly energetic guy who told me Ida was a prophet of the sun goddess on the train a few days ago.  He was wearing a shirt that said “Got falafel?”
  • Erica’s invention (which I like to call the “VJ no-see” pronounced with an Italian accent “vee-jeh-NO!-si”) which is a clip to hold your skirt to your bike bar.
  • The Female Brain
  • Drinking (a) cheap beer on the back deck while Ida plays in her kiddie pool
  • Doing it ourselves (quit it, perverts – you know what I mean)
  • Bob Dylan
  • Cotton Balls

Not Hot

  • Garbage
  • The Gym
  • Hate Crimes
  • GPS
  • Shirts mistaken for dresses
  • Pencils
  • Speculum
  • Paper Towels
  • Street Festivals

Recent Acquisitions

2 May

Nate and I were on a walk with Ida when I spotted a fabulous chest of drawers in the alley.  I’ve lived in Chicago for 2 years now, and have never taken part in the dumpster dive/alley – grab phenominon.  My moment was NOW!  I was excited!

Thinking logistically has never really been my strong point, so I told Nate I was pretty sure we could carry the dresser home.  It was only, like, a block away.  I thought it would be totally possible for me to push the stroller with one arm, and carry a chest of 8 drawers with the other.  Aparently, when I look in the mirror each morning, I see a shining beacon of physical fitness capable of incredible feats of strength and not a semi-comatose couch potato with a fanny pack (and then another fanny pack) worth of flab around the mid-section.  Well, at least I have a healthy (if not a little/lot dilusional) self image.

So when Nate got back from driving the block and a half to the alley, loading up the dresser and schleping it back to our place, here is what we found:

It was love at first sight when I saw this little number in the alley

Bonus contents! Some lovely prada body wash and lotion along with handmade birthday cards.

MORE bonus contents! Pacifiers! We opted not to use them...... But I felt a little sad tossing them in the trash.