Introducing Amy.

Good morning, folks. I would like to introduce myself. For many of you, you may have been around long enough to have read my last ‘about me’ post, but I feel that it’s worthwhile to periodically reintroduced myself, so that people who may have forgotten, and any new followers, can get to know a little about the person behind the keyboard.

My name is Amy. I am 25 years old, and I live in sunny Australia – though you wouldn’t know it if you saw my pale complexion! I am not especially remarkable. The kind of person you wouldn’t pick out in a crowd, to be honest. Slightly below average height, a little chubby, brunette, bespectacled and with a killer resting bitch face, or so I’ve been told. I am the second oldest of four (older sister and two younger brothers), I’m addicted to peanut butter chocolate, I’m single, and I can’t wait to get a puppy. I think marriage is weird, and I never want kids. If my domain name didn’t give me away, I’m not a big fan of people in general. Bill Hicks said it best when he said we’re a virus with shoes. The man was a flippin’ genius.

I have an eclectic taste in music, but often leaning more towards the alternative and Metal side of things. I love horror films, and will happily sit and watch ten episodes of Law and Order: SVU in a row, but my favourite movie is Ten Inch Hero (it’s not what it sounds like, I promise!). When it comes to books, oh anything and everything; but my favourite authors are Chuck Palahniuk, Gillian Flynn, Patrick Ness and Neil Gaiman, with a special spot reserved for Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series.

I am a self taught sewist (not technically a word but I roll with it), I own four instruments that I still can’t play, I used to fancy myself a writer but these days I think I’ll stick to blogger, because to be honest, I haven’t written anything else decent in…well, longer than I can recall. I am a terrible cook, but not a bad baker. I love a good green tea, but I can’t stand the taste of coffee. I used to be scared of spiders, but I grew out of it. My favourite colour is red, but I rarely wear anything but black. And I have absolutely no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

Sooo, that’s me. I’m really interested to hear from you guys, so shoot me a comment and let me know a little bit about you!

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Hello Mediocrity, my Old Friend…

I am having some kind of keep-me-up-awake-at-night existential crisis/drama, and I’m having a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that I am exactly where I was 12 months ago. See, 12 months ago, I left my job as a shoe repairer/watch repairer/engraver in the city, to work in a call centre back home. About four months ago, I got out of that call centre and found work in another one, working as an Ambulance call taker in a different town. It was a great job; it was fascinating, and challenging, and incredible. The six people I trained with are amongst the most amazing people I have ever met. And then I failed my assessment. And I failed it again. And I tried really hard. And then I didn’t have a job anymore, and so my buddy and former employer hired me back two days a week to get me by until I find another full time job in the town I now call home. So, when I say I am back where I was 12 months ago, I mean I am literally where I was 12 months ago.

The sounds of screaming children in the playground beside my work kiosk are slowly edging me towards a homicidal massacre. The same calibre of customers I thought I was rid of are slowly draining my will to live, and to hold back the seething anger I feel every time a late middle aged man makes a joke about how I need a man to supervise me. Because I’m a woman, and very clearly we are incapable of doing anything without male supervision. (insert withering sarcasm here) And I have spent the last few weeks applying for mediocre jobs, because that’s all someone without any official qualifications is eligible to apply for. I mean, honestly, some of the requirements for job applications these days are bordering on unattainable. “To be eligible for this position, you must have several university degrees, nineteen thousand years experience in a similar role, the ability to fly a dragon single handed, and no problem doing the work of three people for $12 per hour.” Ok, so that might be a little dramatic, but the job market is disheartening, to say the least.

I think about the future, and what I think I might like to do, and come up with nothing. I am miserable in the present, and the notion of the future makes me even more so. I envy those people who have their lives all sorted out, because I am floundering in mediocrity here, and I’m not sure how much longer I can stand it. After a long string of failures and disappointments, I’m trying to think of things worth sticking around for, and coming up short.

Someone bring me some chocolate and a puppy, please?

Quick DIY for the Home

So, my new house has quite a bit of space, and I have many plans on how to fill that space. Of course, most things must now go on the back burner until I find a new full time job (different story for a different time), but in the meantime there are a few little things I’ve done to make the house feel more like my own home.

I get antsy without a project. I’m midway through a dress at the moment, but after the first fitting it was too big, and then some life stuff happened, and getting out of bed has been really hard lately, and so all motivation to finish it went out the window. But I digress. Because of all this, I haven’t done anything creative for a couple of weeks now, and yesterday my creative urge came back with a vengeance.

I have this old, tired corkboard/whiteboard in my bedroom that I’ve literally had for years. And yesterday I decided it was time for an upgrade, to a fresh new message board. So, I got myself a new corkboard and a frame, and set about my quick afternoon project. It’s really quite simple, and no sewing required. First, I removed the original aluminium frame from the board. I cut it to size, to make sure it would fit within the frame. I then cut a piece of fabric the same size, plus a little extra on each side to wrap around the board. Once in place, I used a hot glue gun to secure the fabric, set it inside the frame, replaced the backboard and screwed it all in place. The end result is a suave new board to hang on my wall!

The other simple DIY from a few weeks back, was a quick sewing project. Basically, I have a tendency to hoard fabric scraps. Mostly because I convince myself I’ll find a use for even the smallest bit of discarded fabric. Often times, that’s not the case, and my collection of scraps was getting out of hand. So, I decided to make a door snake. I measured the width of the bottom of the door, and then I cut a rectangle length of fabric to match (adding a little extra for seam allowance). Using just a simple straight stitch, I folded the fabric in half, right sides together, and ran a single line of stitching along the raw edge at the bottom, and along the long side, leaving one side open. I turned it inside out, and stuffed it with pieces of scrap fabric until the snake was full. Then I turned the edges on the open side in to hide to raw edge, and sewed the opening closed. Simple, quick, and a good use of discarded fabric! Winning all round!

Anyway. My next project will be a curtain for the toilet window (there’s construction going on behind my house, and the last thing I need is a tradie walking past when I need to pee!), and after that…well, like I said, I have a lot of space to fill!

The Altered Reality of Hospitals

Hospital waiting rooms are like small universes of their own. Everything seems slightly removed from reality, like the real world is there, just slightly beyond the veil. When you look around, there are people being supported and comforted by their loved ones. Each all in the same situation, each suspended in an endless moment, each waiting for something to happen. It’s a strange thing, sitting in a waiting room alone, surrounded by groups of strangers. When you spend so long doing things on your own, you sometimes forget that not everyone works by the same solitary rules.

When people get fired from their jobs, they take ‘support people’. When people go into hospital for admission, they bring along someone to be there for them. When people travel, the go in groups, or with friends. But not all people.

Humans are companionable by nature. There is an inherent, unexplained need in us to be with others; to interact, to seek comfort, to feel less alone. But being alone can become a way of life, so ingrained that it becomes almost impossible to comprehend the idea of other people coming into that singular, solitary circle. Sometimes, asking for help is too hard, because you become so used to relying on yourself, that you forget to trust others. Sometimes, you consider trying to break that habit but you get too scared, and really, isn’t everything easier on your own anyway? And sometimes, you end up crying silently in a hospital bed, because you realise that it’s not always easier, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Hospitals are weird, man. It’s that whole altered reality thing that brings secret things into sharp, scary focus. Or maybe it’s all that too bright lighting, and clinical atmosphere that changes things. There’s the lost time, when you’re present in body, but not in mind, and you’re poked and prodded and exposed to strangers in lab coats. There’s the knowledge that hospitals are a place you go to be healed in some way, but the fact that the healing is a by product of the pain that gets inflicted to treat The Thing you’re there for. Whatever it is, there’s something about those places that just creeps me out. And it’s one of the few times when doing things on your own can be the greater of two evils.

On (Apparently) Unhealthy Emotional Responses, and Feelings of Failure

When the face you put forward to the world is tough, and hard, and nonchalant, it comes as a great shock to everyone – not least yourself – when you have a burst of uncontrolled emotion that, despite your best efforts, spills to the surface in a messy flow of tears and embarrassment.

I am not the most forthcoming person when it comes to what I feel. I’m more of a bottler; I keep my misery and rage to myself, because I’ve never been particularly comfortable revealing vulnerable parts of myself to other people. I’m not a hugger, I almost never cry in front of others, and I takes insults a lot better than compliments. Some people have told me it’s a flawed and unhealthy way to deal with things, but it’s the way I roll.

Today was a difficult and emotional day. My job is very rewarding, and very hard, and due to some unlucky circumstance beyond my control, I was told for the second time today that I am not competent to take calls without a mentor. They have given me one more week, during which time I have to hope that I get the right calls in order to be assessed. So my fate (and continued employment) is literally entirely out of my own hands. Which doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t like not being in control of my future, and I like even less the possibility that I might get dealt more of the same unlucky hand, and have to suffer as a result. So, following a combination of frustration, disappointment, and a crushing sense of failure, today I cried at work. First in the bathroom alone (how cliche) and then again when my friends said nice and comforting things to me. Like I said; I’m not so good at having people be nice to me.

I’m not very good at not being good at things. It makes me feel stupid, and angry. Especially when I try really hard, and it doesn’t seem to help. It’s kind of like being repeatedly punched in the left eyeball. Or the right eyeball. Maybe the whole face, who knows. Having a positive attitude doesn’t help. The constant feeling of failure is mentally and emotionally exhausting, and I’ve had more than a few moments where I’ve considered just quitting and making everyone’s lives easier. But alas, part of that so called flawed nature of mine is a deep seated stubbornness. So I’ll do this next week, and I’ll try my fucking hardest and I’ll just hope, desperately hope that it will finally be enough. Because now I’ve cried in public twice this year, and I can’t have that. I mean, I have a reputation to uphold, dontcha know.

Wedding Dress, Aug ’17

So, it’s late. Very late. But I just realised I never did a post about it, and I wanna talk about one of my favourite, and most challenging sewing projects. The Wedding Dress of August ’17.

When my friend Emily approached me towards the beginning of last year to make her wedding dress, I was thrilled, and flattered, and a little terrified. I’d worked on a wedding before, but it was alteration for an existing dress, and it was for the bridesmaid, not the bride. This request was a huge step up in commitment and level of difficulty, from anything I had attempted before. But, I enjoy a challenge and, like any good masochist, evidently love procrastination to the point of panic. So, we began by going shopping for the right fabric.

Now, Emily is not what you would call a traditional bride, and she in no way wanted the traditional marriage. No white dresses and tossing of the garter here! Instead, we went on the hunt for a forest green satin and when we found it, oh, what a perfect fabric it was. Weighty enough for the winter wedding, but not too heavy as to be stiff. So, with the fabric purchased, I set about making a toile for the bust.

The bust was the hardest part. It required many measurements, many adjustments, and about three different attempts at pattern making before I finally got it right. I was living in the city at the time, and my space and time were limited, so it was only when I moved back home that things really got into full swing. To flatter her figure, we opted for princess seams and a sweetheart neckline. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a matching green lining silk, so I lined it with black (which works with the black tulle overlay, don’t worry.) when I was happy with the shape, we had a quick fitting and moved on to the rest.

The next step involved attaching a waistband and adding the overlay to the completed bust pieces. This was also trickier than it should have been. Between the slippery lining fabric, slippery satin and almost weightless tulle, it became a battle to keep everything aligned properly to sew it all together. Boy, what a pain. I managed to get everything pinned together, but then had multiple sewing mishaps as one fabric slid away from the other, or the tulle pulled away from where it was pinned. To be honest, it was a bit of a nightmare. But I persisted, and finally got it all attached.

From there it was relatively simple. The skirt was just a large block of gathered fabric. I cut three large rectangle panels, attached them together at the side seams for three (yes, three) seams around the whole skirt, and then spent a heckin’ long time gathering all that fabric to the right circumference. The same thing with the lining, and again with the tulle. And voila, I had a dress. But of course, then I had trouble again with the waistband. The early measurements (triple checked!) turned out to be too wide, so I had to unpin the bodice from the waistband, adjust and reattach. But, after many more alterations, hemming, and final trimming of the tulle overlay, Emily ended up with a whimsical, beautiful, completely untraditional wedding gown. And, coupled with a flower crown and sparkly ruby slippers, she looked absolutely stunning. Plus, the wedding was like walking into an enchanted forest and without question, the prettiest wedding I’ve ever been to.

So that’s the tale of the August Wedding Dress. And on a quick side note, for those who are interested in all things pretty and magical, Emily happens to be the maker behind Le.ft_made, which is a Melbourne based small business she created to cater to all your witchy, whimsical needs. Pop on over to her Instagram if you wanna check her out.

Photo property of Vanessa De Santis
Photo property of Vanessa De Santis

Grey Days

Most people I know love the sunny days, the heat, the balmy weather. Me, I love grey days. My favourite kind of weather is the miserable kind. Few things make me as happy as a rainy day, or a big thunderstorm; and I always feel a little bit sad when the sun comes out to play afterwards.

I am endlessly fascinated by clouds, and will often stop in the side of the road to photograph the sky with my shitty phone camera. Those views make me wish I was an artist, so I could spend my time painting the beautiful scenes I love so much.

It’s been especially cold and wet here the last few days, and as I write this I’m rugged up on my couch with a blanket and a cup of green tea. I’m rarely more content than I am right now.