Friday, August 21, 2009

Not Whining

Last week I saw Julie and Julia and it was great. My only false step was in eating theater pop corn and not having a good dinner plan, because watching all that beautiful food and then going home to cold cereal or leftover spaghetti was... well it was just plain tragic. The movie was great because of the performers and because of the food and the whole blog connection, it was a fun escape in to kind of a familiar place, with plenty of opportunity to laugh and relate. I very much enjoyed learning about Julia Child, not the one from SNL. Do I need to say Meryl Streep was supremely good? Well, yes, she was supremely good. So was Amy Adams; she's quite capable of bringing depth to the roles she plays.

The only criticism of the movie I have read is that Julie Powell "whined." She got a little self-absorbed and in her blog she hit "publish" when her failures and personal trials were getting the best of her. None of this is kept out of the movie and some critics take issue with the weakness of the character. I could take issue with it too... it's not pretty to see a grown woman cry over aspic or torture herself over what readers think or say or don't say. It's disappointing to watch a capable woman get needy and weak and flustered and overwhelmed and... oh wait... gee... maybe she's human. Yeah, I recognize how unpleasant our my human frailties are, but nonetheless they are real. I think when we don't share those same weaknesses, when we cannot relate specifically to why a spilt aspic is cause for tears, then someone else's whining can be irritating, but the thing is we do all have weaknesses of character and we do all at some point lose perspective or need to express our frustration. And for every person that does not understand Julie Powell's crisis, there is someone that can totally relate, someone that will feel connected to the honesty of the moment.

This is not a blow-up movie with hostages or aliens, neither is it presented as a documentary about the ideal heroic figures of the last hundred years. I am not saying it is a movie above reproach, but the criticism that Julie Powell behaved like a flawed person is weak, it lacks empathy or an ability to see and accept a person in full light. And maybe it helps to understand blogging to understand the movie and the character of Julie Powell. Like Julie Powell I started blogging in 2002. We weren't the earliest pioneers, but the Blogosphere was a pretty wide open frontier in those days. Blogging is not journalism... well, it can be journalism, but most of us bloggers are telling a personal story. Blogging is new frontier in writing and it does not have the same parameters or rules, as we expect from traditional essays, magazines or short stories. Blogging can be raw and honest, it can be personal and newsy, and it can be insightful and intelligent and I could go on and on with more examples, because blogging is anything.

Because blogging is anything, there is a lot out there that will never be meaningful to me, so I don't read it. And there is a lot out there that will never be meaningful to you, so you know... don't read it. It's interesting to consider what "should" and "should not" be published in a blog. Remember there are no guidelines or definitions in this medium and though critics may decry all the "whining," there are many who embrace the open and honest conversations about the small joys, personal trials, doubts, fears, successes and reflections. I think it is interesting to see how all of this publishing and expression will get sorted out. Blogging presents a tremendous shift in our social culture and our ways of communicating. A lot of bloggers are unlocking their diaries and leaving them out on the coffee table... this is weird stuff, and some of it is very interesting. Anyone uncomfortable with vulnerability and emotions might want to be careful when navigating the Blogosphere. And I know as a blogger I am constantly feeling for the walls, for the limits of what to say and what to keep to myself, and I have hit "publish" when I was less than heroic and then regretted it because I felt whiny and wide open... but then someone says thank you or I understand and then it makes sense to be honest, to reach out and admit how human I am.

We are accustomed to getting our news and information from "real publishers," from established sources like magazines and books, but I think those sources are a bit untrustworthy... untrustworthy in the sense that their ultimate objective is to sell you something. I am the first to admit that a glossy layout from Martha Stewart makes the world seem shiny and bright, but the luster fades when I try to apply the stylized, censored, edited version to my real life. Oprah's publication is loaded with advice and pearls of wisdom, but every other page is a sales pitch for favorite things and Fall fashions and stuff to sell, and that doesn't included the actual ads, so all the feel good messages, for me, get lost in translation and ultimately I feel disconnected. I'm cool. I like buying stuff and I like to wishfully plan a beautiful meal or decorate my living room for success and aesthetics, while saving the whales, but I need other sources and resources too. I like to read about the real experiences of people, their setbacks and successes. I like to know that there is a greater possibility that what I am reading in someone's blog is true, their truth, and that I am not getting a filtered version with good lighting and heavy content editing.

I don't think Julie Powell whined too much. She just told her whole truth, and sometimes it was less than glamorous and sometimes we wanted her to be a better person, but I think an honest person is better... better than a fictionalized, dressed up version of the truth. Not all obstacles are in a battlefield, not all battles are fought in trenches, and not all stories are tragic or meant to change the course of justice or include a huge pointed message about the will to live. Thank goodness.

All week we have been swinging from crisis to crisis and I have been less than glamorous, and I just thought I would point out that I have not posted a single whiny post. I am so proud. And yes, I do appreciate that *bragging about not whining* is almost as irritating as actually whining, but it's my blog. So there.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Noticed It Was A Beautiful Day

It was good and bad and hard and easy. It was blue skies and gray.
And I look around and see what is left undone. It's okay. The children are
here. We found one little pumpkin holding on... just like us. It's alright.

Listening to Jason Mraz: A Beautiful Mess and Big Sur, Mason Jennings.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happiness In Every Stitch

After my last sewing episode, I admit it seamed unlikely that I would ever return to the cutting board and straight pins. But I cannot resist. I may not always get the results I am seeking, but when it comes to making children's clothing, quilts or yo-yo's, I cannot resist playing again and again. And even more surprisingly I find it really helps me cope with stress and anxiety. Figuring out "real" patterns adds to my stress and anxiety, which is why I am happy to discover that I can make simple things by making it up as I go!

All the sewing I did for Maria, her Chickens Abroad-Summer wardrobe, held up very well, so I thought I would play around with the dress and skirt and make clothes that she can wear in to Autumn. Plus... she grew! Her clothes still fit, but they are shorter than they were at the beginning of Summer.

On this new dress I used seam binding to finish the sleeves and the hem, and I even added a strip of it at the edge of the yoke, where it meets the skirt. It's a loose fit and will wear well with tights and an undershirt. I've almost got this homemade pattern fine tuned enough to call it a "real pattern!"

More Kaffe Fassett fabric from Starry Night Hollow! Another nice thing about sewing for a little girl... half a yard goes a long way!

She's doing a hula for us.

Maybe not the best image of this skirt, since she had been wearing it a lot already. Excuse the wrinkles. I think this was half a yard and I just stitched it from one end to the other and then gathered it with the elastic waist. The rick-rack hem was irresistible.

Cousin Izzy got one of these skirts too. A fun Summer print for sure! Maria wore it to preschool on "water days." She especially loves her mermaid pocket. I used my quilting skills to add a fun contrasting fabric around the waist. It's such a simple way to add interest, and I think I will play with this idea a bit more in the future.

But enough about Me and my sewing obsession, Maria wants to dance! She told me she wants to be a mermaid for Halloween! How's that for a sewing challenge?! Then again she also said she wants to be Dorothy... I don't think she remembers the first time she went down the Yellow Brick Road. We both saw Christmas fabric from Sew, Mama, Sew! I'm sure it cannot be too early to plan a holiday dress or two.

Obviously we both love to play... aren't we sew lucky?