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.

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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.

New House, and Good Things

I have moved into a new house, in a new town, entirely on my own. I’ve been looking forward to this since shortly after I moved out of my last solo house, which was almost two years ago. And now, to my absolute joy, I am once again living alone.

As you are probably aware, I am not the most people friendly person in the world. My experiences living with others have only reiterated to me how much I do enjoy being alone, and having my own space. I like not having to put pants on to walk from one room to another. I like being able to watch whatever I want, and take up all the space on my (admittedly tiny) couch. I like practising guitar, or playing video games at 2am without an angry face popping out of a bedroom door to tell me to go to bed. In fact, there’s not much that I don’t love about living alone, if I’m being honest.

The move was relatively painless, and we got all my stuff into the new place fairly quickly. Though the front two rooms are in various states of disarray, I plan to organise it all this weekend and, assuming I can find the missing screws for my sewing table, hopefully set up a sewing space. Which makes me so happy, because it’s been so long since I last had a dedicated space to create. And the space, sweet baby Satan, the space. There’s so much of it! My first house was a tiny little cottage that suited me just fine, but this place is huge! In fact, it’s probably more space than I need, but I am certain that this house was meant to be for me.

See, when I was applying for houses, the place I’ve moved into is one of only two properties I was actually able to inspect. The other was way too small, so I didn’t bother applying. I applied for plenty of other places, but every single one of them was leased before I even had a chance to inspect. Now, you could argue that the reason I was approved for this place is because it was the only one I got to properly apply for, but I believe the other inspections were cancelled because this was the house I was meant to move into. The universe is funny that way, and when she sets her mind on something, it’s best to just let it happen.

Now of course, the first thing I did on my first night in this giant place, was cleanse it. Sage smudging is an important part of my moving house ritual; call me New Age-y, but if you don’t expel negative energies from your house, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. For me, I like the clean slate and it helps to make the house mine, and remove any lingering energy from the previous tenants.

I’m excited to see what this new adventure has in store for me. I passed my final assessment at work on Thursday, so I am now officially qualified at my job, and I get a pay rise to boot! For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m on the right track, and that’s a really great feeling.

An Open Letter to Two Creeps

Dear Creeps,

I couldn’t help but overhear – mostly because you were being obnoxiously loud about it – but you both seemed to have quite the obsession with penises, and I just can’t help but wonder if it’s maybe because neither of you have one. So I thought I’d offer some free advice; there’s these amazing things you can buy in sex shops nowadays, they’re actually a strap on penis. I highly recommend you each go and purchase one, since it might help with those feelings of inadequacy you both have going on, and your apparent inability to attract any kind of positive attention from a woman.

Let’s be real here; I am a grown woman. An adult, for all intents and purposes. The word penis does not shock me, no matter how many times you repeat it, or how loudly you say it. If your childish antics were intended to illicit any kind of response from me, I’m afraid I was no more inclined to give reaction than if you had have repeated the word chair with the same increasing regularity and volume.

You see, I’ve had experience with men of your ilk before, and I am more than familiar with the game. The game in which one or more of you see a woman on her own, and do your best to make her feel scared or uncomfortable. I have long since discovered, through countless encounters of a similar nature, that blatant ignorance is the best response, which is exactly what I did tonight, as you leered at me and made crass comments. I didn’t rise to the bait, despite how desperately you tried for my attention. Your juvenile and boorish behaviour does bring some questions to mind, however.

Firstly, I wonder if you would treat the women in your life the way you treat a stranger. If you do, I feel supremely sorry for them, and even more disgusted with you. Secondly, I wonder how you would feel if it were you subjected to the lecherous behaviour you demonstrated tonight, and whether you would have handled being objectified with the same cool detachment I managed. And finally, I wonder if you would be so bold had I have been in the company of a male friend of family member. These are all questions I will never receive an answer to, but they are valid questions nonetheless.

The point where you crossed the line from nuisance, to clear harassment came when I left after getting my coffee. Let us be clear. In modern society, it is not considered polite or acceptable to closely follow anyone out of an establishment and repeatedly ask “want a penis in your mouth?”. There is absolutely no situation where that is appropriate to do to a stranger, and it was reprehensible behaviour. You thought you were being funny (which only goes to show what abhorrent, mouth breathing jerks you really are), but being intentionally intimidating for the purpose of amusement is a vile thing to do. Had I have turned to upend my scalding coffee over your heads, I would have been justified.

I would like to think that better people might reflect on their actions, and realise it was a dick move. But, as evidenced by your Neanderthal natures, you have neither the brain capacity nor emotional ability required to show respect and consideration where it is due, and that is it highly likely that you were just too stupid or ignorant to realise it was wrong. Though that is in no way an excuse for the way you behaved, it at least means I can lower my expectations about you feeling remotely apologetic.

Yours in disgust,

Amy.

Left Unsaid

I never say what I want to say. The words get stuck in my throat, and what comes out is not what I’m screaming inside my head. My lips are painted with the ghosts of a thousand whispered confessions, murmured to the night and lost in the nothing. Bravery would unleash those secret things and leave my throat unobstructed, but I have always been scared. Words are both weapons, and chains, and I am trapped by things left unsaid. I am small, and I was never meant to be a hero.