Adam Fielding, a talented young actor in the U.K. (and someone I’m pleased to have met) wrote this poem and created this wonderful video.
From time-to-time I read an article on the Kveller.com site. It’s a site primarily for Jewish mothers, but I had started reading it when Mayim Bialik was posting there regularly. (She still posts there sometimes, but most of her stuff is on her own site, Grok Nation, now.)
Recently I read a short piece about whether or not one should give a baby a very ethnic name. It spurred in me the remembrances of my own growing up. I was called “Judy” then, and it didn’t take long to get from “Judy” to “Judy-Doody,” to “Rooty-Tutti,” to “Tutti Fruity,” and finally to “Fruitcake” (a pejorative in the 60s and 70s, used for a person who was considered stupid, slow, or just plain weird). And that doesn’t even begin to address the number of times I was assaulted with “Judy, Judy, Judy” (a la Cary Grant, except he never said that), “Hey, Jude,” and (the worst), “Judy in Disguise (with glasses!).” If there is one thing that kids know how to do, it is how to mangle your name into something that can make you feel bad about having been born.
It was when I was in my 20s that I was told about the story of Judith, which was rather weird because the person who told me about it was a self-confessed pagan and I had grown up Roman Catholic. I’d seen the Cristofano Allori painting of Judith holding the head of Holofernes and I said to my friend, “Great! Here’s another picture of a weird woman named Judith!” At this my friend told me of the Book of Judith (as it appears in the Roman Catholic version of the Bible; it is one of the five apocryphal books). I dug up an old Bible and read it. I loved it.
The story is a clever one! Judith saves her people in a clever plot (that would take too long to describe here). She is brave. She is beloved.
All of this brings me to one point: Love yourself. Love your name, love who you are, love everything that makes you and your name one special being. Anyone can make fun of a name — it’s a childish thing to do, after all — but no one else can define it as you do.
I’ve been away from the blog for too long. My new job has me busy from the beginning of the day until the end of the day, and I come home mentally and emotionally exhausted. It’s hard work, but it’s good hard. I am writing text for proposals, sometimes to explain and sometimes to persuade and sometimes to connect to another person’s soul. I am designing — often in the context of a specific form, but it is page layout and design nonetheless.
When I’ve been at home we’ve been dealing with all manner of silliness: replacing the refrigerator, nearly replacing the air conditioning unit (turned out it didn’t need it), and the washing machine needs a repair (the parts are in; I just have to schedule a time for them to come in). I’ve also been knitting, sewing, and struggling with all manner of emotional upset.
But, today I’m back. And I figured the best way to start again is to tell you all what I’ve learned over the past few months.
- There are people in my life who have my back. People like my husband, who has been giving me all of the space I need to deal with all of my feelings and weird moods. People like RH at the office who finds things that I missed on a proposal, but doesn’t jump on me about it. People like my younger brother who can advise me on things like wiring and computer problems. People like my girlfriends and guy-friends who make time to see a film or talk over beer and pizza. These are good people. These are people I can trust.
- Even if someone has my back, I am still responsible for my own health. Yeah, that one bites sometimes, but it’s reality. I have to take care of me. I have to allow myself to grieve; I have to get rest when I need it; I have to let myself off the hook when I make a mistake; I have to admit I’m human and be OK with it; I have to eat properly; I have to ask for help.
- I’m still trying to figure out how much is too much and how much is enough. I tend to give myself over to whatever I’m working on, whether it’s a proposal at work or something I’m sewing or a book I’m reading. That’s exhausting. I am still learning how to draw a boundary around my energy, to rein it in so that I don’t exhaust myself.
- There is a lot of stuff about myself that I still need to accept. I get tired (a great hindrance to getting things done). I’d rather not eat properly. I’d rather stay home and play with my toys all day. I wish machines didn’t break. I’ve screwed up relationships.
- Oddly enough, there is a lot of good stuff about myself that I need to accept, too. I’m a good designer. I’m a good writer. I have good ideas. I’m a talented person who can sew and knit and do graphic design. I’m kind to my friends, and I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about how to love my husband in a better way.
In the spirit of respecting my boundaries, I’m not going to ramble on here. I’m not going to expect that every post to the blog is going to be wildly inspiring or even basically interesting. I just need to write at least once a week to keep myself tethered.
Thanks for listening.
Here’s a cute picture because, you know, puppies.
Fireworks have been sounding in my neighborhood for several nights in a row. Generally I don’t mind. Something about that deep *thunk* of the large displays shooting into the sky fills me with a happy anticipation of color and spectacle.
I have been thinking about freedom and independence and rights and such. In the past two weeks, we have been through so much in this country. The public explosions of rhetoric over the US Supreme Court decisions has been enough to make me want to bury my head in the sand. It would be nice if all of the discussion (and I use that word lightly) contained important points of debate; however, most of it has been a blast of hot air, smoke, and even fire. From the outside looking in, it would seem that we had lost all sense of proportion.
Churches will not be forced to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies, yet many people with deeply held religious beliefs have been screaming that their rights are trampled. No one has ruled that they cannot believe and worship as they please, but they are shouting that their First Amendment rights have been taken away.
In a similar vein, those who revere the Confederate flag for benign reasons are unable to accept that while they may continue to remember the old South, the flag itself has long been a symbol of oppression and everything we did wrong (and continue to do wrong) in this country with regard to race relations.
But here is where I have hope: We have the freedom in this country to disagree with government rulings. We have the freedom in this country to disagree loudly and boldly, and we’re even allowed to be stupid when doing so. We have the right to assemble, the right to practice our religion without our government establishing one overall religion, and we have the right to bring our grievances to the elected government.
So, yes, there are all kinds of fireworks going off, but I’m glad we’re free to let that happen. It’s an annoyance sometimes, but it is a small price to pay.
- Admitting my error to the potential employer was not just the right thing to do; it was rewarded by a gracious response and praise for owning the error. (Sounds like a place I want to work!)
- Having to knit the border stitches again actually gave me a little better insight to how I wanted to shape the pattern stitch.
- Admitting to being human is really scary sometimes, but it’s never quite as awful as I think it will be!
Seriously. I had a great phone interview with the potential employer. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, the shawl is blocking and the pattern is written.
There are days like this. Days when, no matter what I try to do, I fail.
Witness this little ball of yarn. You have already inferred, I am sure, from the ramen-like quality of the thread that this little ball of yarn is the result of undoing a few stitches. Actually, it’s from undoing a lot of stitches: 16 rows of the border of a triangular lace shawl, to be precise. I tried to take it back just 8 rows (which would have been to the point where the error occurred), but it turns out I am about as skilled as a three-toed sloth playing cat’s cradle when it comes to undoing a few rows when those rows contain eyelets and double decreases and everything else.
I tried. I really tried. I tried picking up the stitches and working back bit by bit over what remained. It turns out I am hopelessly lost when it comes to figuring out the order of stitches where even the simplest of lace patterns is involved. Cables — yes, I can figure out cables if I dropped a stitch; lace — no. I suck.
The other thing I suck at is proofreading my own work. I emailed a PDF of some design samples to a prospective employer, one who I had just spoken to on the telephone this morning. I had told this prospective employer that I had spoken with one of his peers and had learned that he likes to surround himself with only the best people, so I told him that I would definitely be in that category. And then I emailed him the design samples. And then I took a look over those samples and I discovered two typos.
On top of that, I completely forgot about an appointment that was to have been today at 2:00 p.m. I’d been awake around 3:30 a.m. and working. At 10:00 a.m. I decided I could have a bit of a nap. At 2:05 p.m. I awoke and realized what I had forgotten.
Honesty and humility go hand-in-hand for me. I have to be honest with myself and with other people, and being honest means I have to admit that I am not perfect. I make mistakes in knitting. I make mistakes in proofreading. I make mistakes with my schedule. I make all kinds of mistakes. Mistakes are what make me human.
I don’t like them. I truly do not like making mistakes. I do not like making mistakes and I certainly do not like finding out about mistakes some hours after the mistakes have been made.
I worked through an entire eight-row pattern repeat before I saw the error in the lace border. It wasn’t an obvious error, and it was only on one of the two triangles that make up the shawl so I was thinking that perhaps no one else would notice, especially if I photographed it just right. But I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be honest. It’s a shawl I plan to submit for publication, and it wouldn’t have been honest to submit a flawed item.
So, as hard as it is to admit that I am not perfect, as hard as it is to have to email a prospective employer with a corrected PDF, as hard as it is to call someone and admit that I was sleeping instead of remembering the appointment, and as hard as it is to start again on the border of the shawl, I have to admit that the honesty about all of it actually helps me to feel free to start again. The prospective employer might strike me off his list. There were a lot of hours of work lost on the shawl. I won’t get that appointment made up until next week. But I am human, and I’m learning to be OK with that.
I cannot seem to get over whatever it is that has been ailing me, and I am losing my patience with the process. My throat aches and feels inflamed; my head hurts; the upper part of my chest feels tight; I feel tired. I’m not running a fever, so it is not likely to be an infection. The only thing I can say for certain is that it has hung around entirely too long. I’ll try to get an appointment this week with the doctor to see whether the professional medicos have anything new to add.
Insomnia, which has been an affliction of nearly all of my life, comes and goes. When I was working I was usually at the office at 6:00 a.m. Three other guys were there, too. We had coffee; we shared a few words; we got to work. I miss those guys. I miss working a regular job.
I miss a lot of things.
I miss the paycheck (always nice), but more than that I miss the work and the people. I miss talking with Keith about what was on PBS Sunday evening (we’re both Anglophiles). I miss John having a bit of a rant about whatever was in the news that morning. I miss Mark’s concentration on his work as I filled up my coffee cup. I’m actually missing just a little bit the way Dave would come back and ask me the same questions (“How’s the puppy doing?” — as if our younger dog were still very ill this many years later). I miss hearing Tex on the phone in the morning, talking to his young son before his son left for school (“I luv ya, buddy!”). I miss the daily email from Richard asking what was a good time to take a walk.
I miss sitting down at my desk and sorting out the work for the day. I miss scanning a multi-page wiring diagram and then putting it all together into one enormous piece. I miss building up an image from only a line drawing and a poor photograph. I miss the kind of problem-solving that comes from resolving those kinds of creative challenges.
But I seem to be getting over some of my grieving for all of that, and that’s a good thing.
The job search continues, and it continues to be a slow process. I’ve found a few jobs to apply for, and at least two jobs I applied for two months ago are finally coming onto someone’s radar. We’ll see what happens.
So, nothing really new here. I have insomnia and I’m still trying to get over whatever this crud is that ails me.
I’m going to figure out whether I’d like to tackle cleaning up the kitchen or just sitting down to knit. While I do that, you can look at this cute puppy picture (Casey when he was just a few months old and before he got sick) to pass the time.