Someone Broke into my Car

Last night, as I got in my car to head to work, I turned on my stereo to discover that, instead of the David Bowie playlist I created on my iPod, the radio was playing instead. I looked down to discover that my iPod (and the cord, and my headphones) was missing. This is the 3rd time in a matter of months that my iPod has been stolen out of my car.

Daytona

The 89 Daytona I used to drive. Before it went to crap. There was no opening these doors.

I suppose that it’s my fault for leaving it in the car in the first place. It also doesn’t help that I occasionally forget to lock my car. The beater I drive for 8 years was impossibly hard to open so I never needed to before upgrading. I’ve been trying to be better about that since break in #2. Also, I was parked in a different spot this time, so, I suspect it may even be the same person.

On the one hand, I am kind of irritated because I didn’t exactly have another iPod in my budget. On the other hand, I know that there are much bigger issues and that, whomever took it, probably had their reasons. Maybe they wanted one and couldn’t afford one. Maybe they needed the money that could be made from selling it. Accepting that rationale, I make peace with it. Because I realize that, at this point in my life, I have the fortune to not have very many unmet needs and could just buy another if I choose to (don’t get me wrong – I’m not rich. There isn’t a lot left over for wants, but needs are certainly met). I was similarly un-phased when someone stole my bike some years ago when I still worked at a thrift store and used that bike as a primary mode of transportation. I just figured someone else must have needed it worse than I did.

We live in this society that places so much value on material objects. These objects, like clothing, carry meaning and send messages to others around us – our interests, our values, our status within society. We are repeatedly told that having these things will bring us happiness, and, for a very short, fleeting time, they do. We are told that we need these things – being able to at least look the part we want to play can go a way toward making us feel it and to making others around us to treat us that way. Have you never heard the phrase, “The clothes make the man”? Well, so do accessories and gadgets. I don’t blame anyone for using objects to try to belong to something, even superficially. Belonging is a human need. It also just so happens that our society does not give everyone the same opportunities to seek these things out in the legal or socially accepted ways.

So, in conclusion, at the end of the day, it’s all just stuff. But after I buy the next iPod I’m going to start bringing it inside with me.

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Pinnacle, Dolls, and the Consumerist Undertow

Earlier this week, I purchased Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate. One of my goals for this year is to start making Youtube videos. Whether this happens remains to be seen, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.

As I am delving into this, it is hard not to feel a little overwhelmed. There is so much that this software is capable of doing that there are hours of training tutorials. As I mentioned yesterday, I took video of my little cousin’s birthday that I had hoped to do a basic edit on and post highlights from. This is easier said then done as I am still trying to learn how to use this program.

It is hard work-buy-consume-dienot to wonder if I should buy a desktop for large file projects like video editing. My only computer is this laptop which is a few years old and already has roughly 70-75% of it’s storage space full. Running this program seems to go very slowly and I do not yet know if this is normal or if it is because of my computer. This can be a potentially very expensive  hobby (somewhat disheartening to now be seeing the software being sold online for half the price I paid for it at Best Buy – on sale)to get into and I want to refrain from going out and spending money without doing proper research first. I can safely say that between video equipment and dolls, I’m going to need very strong will-power to continue trying to save money instead of spend it. Ebay

Resisting the urge not to get sucked in feels like an uphill battle. My self from 3 years ago would be shaking her head and scolding the way me from today spends money (which me from 3 years ago also had less of). It started innocently enough – Once I started working at my current job and could afford it, I invested in a new car for myself (after having driven a 20+ year old rust bucket with hit and miss reliability for 8 years). This seemed a reasonable purchase and still feels like a good decision 2.5 years later. Then I moved into a house where I started cooking less and eating takeout more (small, shared kitchen space, spending less time at home, etc). Then after I got my Lammily doll and came down with doll fever, I’ve been spending increasingly more money on doll related stuff – ebay will be the death of me, I have a “watching” list a mile long. At some point, early last year, I started allowing myself to spend this money “because I deserved it”. The fact that 2015 was a particularly stressful year for me personally did not help, as these purchases also acted as a sort of retail therapy – a momentary burst of happy feeling to counter an ocean of despair. Despite knowing better, I did this anyway. Because it was easy and because I could.

spending

A screenshot from my Mint.com account comparing spending in 2014 and 2015 for “shopping”. The amounts aren’t as important as the striking difference in spending habit. 

I Like Fashion…

Brie1

My friend, Brieanne, who has never been afraid to be herself.

…I say, though I feel insecure.
I like fashion, I think, though you’re just not so sure.
You look so presentable, with glamour and flair.
I’m wearing a tshirt and do I know I have hair?

“I like fashion,” you say, citing trends, naming names.
“Who are they?” I wonder, “Why does anyone care?”
“You need the right top, with that skirt, not too tight.
You know what I mean. Keep it classy, alright?”

“You don’t want to dress like you’re old or too young.
This color goes with that. Are you having fun?”
What I wear is expressive, it tells the story of me.
Can you tell I spent time? Picked out the right tee?

This one says “Free Palestine” another says “Dream”.
I look at the labels to learn where they’re seamed.
“Who made your jacket?” I’ll ask, you’ll reply.
“Oh this? It’s from [insert some designer]’s line.”

Yes, but who made it, and what were they paid?
Would you pay what it’d cost, if they made a living wage?
How ’bout your blue jeans? Would you wear them if
you knew their dyes were toxic? Go on, give us a spin!

Rana Plaza. April 24, 2013. 1,129 dead. 2,515 injured. Photo by Ismail Ferdous

Triangle is old, Rana Plaza is new.
One brought about change, the other should too.
Our clothing defines us, it’s a cultural thing.
Ideology, religion, and more do they sing.

The boy with his collar popped, the girl who’s gone goth.
This group or that group? Is it really just cloth?
Break down the boxes! No labels! We’re Done!
At the end of the day, we all want to belong.

“I like fashion,” you say, in your elegant heels.
Wrapped in your rayon scarf – you love how it feels!
You look at me, in my worn out gym shoes.
You’d never guess, I care about fashion too.

Awake Late at Night

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This is going to be one of those streams of consciousness styled posts I occasionally like to write. I took a nap earlier this afternoon, do not have to go in to work until the middle of tomorrow afternoon, and so, I am wide awake and my mind is bouncing around. Honestly, you’ll likely not be reading this until sometime after I’ve left for work tomorrow, but, just for fun and pointing out real-time, it is now 11:33pm CST on a Sunday evening as I begin to write this. (in the same vein, real-time distractions will be inserted, italicized, in parentheses)

Tonight, I just realized, was the premiere of the new Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I’ve not watched it yet. But, I’m actually running a Symphony of Science playlist on Youtube as I write this. (jump to facebook, to get into a discussion with a friend about Carl Sagan) I’ll have to watch that tomorrow. Perhaps I can introduce the kids that I work with to the awesomeness that is the universe and curiosity and the badass-ness of DeGrasse Tyson. Or they may just think it’s lame. Which is *usually* what I am met with – a general disinterest for pondering the bigger picture or the vastness of the universe or the meaning of life. Once in awhile though, I am pleasantly surprised.  This reminds me… some time back I came across this quilt that a woman had created to teach kids about the solar system. (another facebook break)

Speaking of work, I brought in my sewing machine this morning. One of the teens staying in the shelter wanted to learn different ways to refashion some of her jeans into shorts. We worked together to make 2 pair of shorts, a pair of cut-offs and a hemmed pair, and I had her get familiar with the machine with some scrap denim. I pointed out the importance of a stay stitch with cut-offs and how to get the denim to fray quicker. I’d like to work more with these kids on some of the basics of sewing, even just basic repair work. And I wonder if it would be worthwhile to try to set up some kind of community sewing studio.. because not everyone has the funds or space for a machine… and perhaps free classes on how to sew, repair, and design your own clothes. I would like to see sewing become something of a norm again – it would help to combat throw-away fashions if people could simply repair/ refashion their clothes. Perhaps, with an emphasis on re-used fabric, it might combat the sheer tons of textile waste we create Every. Single. Day.  Also, I love outlets to build community and be creative. Of course, maybe I’m a bit daydreamy to think that kids and teens would be interested in such a thing. How do we make sewing “cool”?  If you have never commented on these blogs before, I encourage you to comment on this topic… thoughts, ideas, anecdotes, discussions…

(break to take a shower and put on jammies. 2 thoughts whilst I was in the shower: 1) I want to do up a cosmos themed dress.. embroider the universe, a la Ms. Frizzle 2) I’m totally dressing in Sagan-style next Carl Sagan Day – Nov. 9th) … screw it, I kind of want to do that this week. Flashback to Emulation. It’s also just occurred to me that I never expanded into all the realms of emulation that I wanted to do – Halloween, LARPing, CosPlay, etc. I need to revisit this.

I mean to mention a couple of other things that are important. 1) Hatch. I did it last year (see here), I’m actually in it again this year. I’m horrible at self-promotion. I should have been talking about this weeks ago. The opening reception, the trashion show (yes they had a trashion show this year), and the gallery talk have already come and gone. My lack of posting about it is probably due to a combination of 1) being too lazy to buy new batteries for my camera 2) the artwork I had accepted for the exhibit is a piece I’ve already written about in length here and 3) I’m just lazy in general. HOWEVER, this coming Saturday, March 15th, 2014, is the Art Fair for Hatch. I originally intended to go to this. However, The Culture Monk is going to be in Chicago that morning in his series of coffee houses. I’d really rather go to that. Because I’d kind of like to meet this guy in person, link a face and a voice and an experience to the blocks of text I read regularly. Sadly I cannot be in 2 places at once. But I promise to be in at least one of those places Saturday. (youtube and facebook distraction) (time check – 12:54am. Going back into text to insert links) (links inserted, tags entered, end time 1:28am)

Update, 11:11 am: Just finished watching the new Cosmos on Hulu. I teared up. I literally teared up. DeGrasse Tyson’s remembrance of Sagan at the end touched me.

Stop Telling Us What to Wear: Mini Rant

biteme

Yesterday, while I was at the library, I picked up a copy of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing our Daughters from Marketers Schemes by Sharon Lamb, Ed.D and Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. I’m only about 40 pages in so far, but it’s already been something of an eye opener. I’ve been aware of rampant consumerism and the way the clothing industry tries to push people (not just girls and women) into the little categories it wants us to be in (male/female, preppy/rebel/geek, “urban”/”rural”, etc) for awhile and I’ve been aware of the brand-worshiping aspect of consumer culture for as long as I’ve been scratching my head over the importance of wearing clothes just because there was a certain word or logo on it (that happened around age 9, when I moved to a new school and everyone seemed to have to wear stuff from The Limited or Limited Too and if you weren’t wearing those clothes then ohmygodwhatiswrongwithyou?). However, it turns out that there’s a little more than I ever wanted to admit going on.

What I have gotten out of this book, thus far:

  • There is always this push to make girls want to be older, faster. This is nothing new to me, but, they’re marketing “bras” and pretty underwear and bikinis to 4 year olds now. *4*!!
  • Girls are being pushed into camps from a early age
    1. Camp 1: pink, the classically feminine color is soft and sweet (which there is now a bit of a split in the pink camp, with the pastel hues reflecting innocence and bolder hues (or pared with black) reflecting a bit of a sexier edge.
    2. Camp 2: red, a bold and assertive color.
    3. From the book, “The red girl is the girl who is not like the other girls can develop into not liking what makes those other girls who they are, putting them down for being too girly and weak. The girl wars mentality we see in the media is often between girly girls and tomboys, between what we fear starts out as the pink girl and the red girl.”
  • The same items are marketed to 6 year olds and 13 year olds.
  • The hetero-normative push into what is supposed to be the most important thing on a girl’s mind: Boys! (which, even I fell victim to with the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync when I was 12-15) Stores are happy to sell all manner of trinkets and shirts that espouse love for whatever male teen star is hot at the time… and this is marketed to 8 and 9 year old girls as well as teens. Why would 8 and 9 year olds be concerned with the cuteness of boys? When I was 8, I was still listening to what my parents listened to (and Michael Jackson).

Like I said, I’m only about 40 pages in. However, while I was scrolling through teh internets, I came upon one of those stupid “what you should/shouldn’t wear” lists. From LifeScript: Healthy Living for Women (I’m already laughing, folks), is an article telling me the “Top 10 items [I will soon be] Too Old to Wear” Here are some of my favorites:

  •  I can only wear my beloved Tshirts that say stuff for another year and a month. According to this article, I have to retire my tshirts at 30 because, “the freedom to express yourself via your wardrobe is part of the teen and 20-something years… but beyond that?… ‘The message tee boom was fueled by Young Hollywood… it’s mostly a way for people to express frustration.'”  So, I guess I’m only allowed to express myself for another year, then I need to shut up and hand it all over to people younger than me.
  • Not that I like to expose my cleavage, but I am now aware that after 50, it’s no longer an option for me. That’s because, according to the article, “‘An older woman shouldn’t feel she needs to show it all off. Anything below the middle of your [bustline] has got to go,’ DeMartino says. ‘A little goes a long way,’ writes Krupp, who in her book bans excessive ‘boobage’ past the age of 40 and warns readers not to display too much sagging skin.”  That’s right, women who are 50+ need to cover up because they have “too much sagging skin” [read: not attractive anymore; gross – read: younger *should* show cleavage – read: women are to constantly be aware of, and compliant to, the male gaze]
  • Now, I don’t do much with my hair beyond a simple pony tail, because I don;t like it down and I’m too lazy to do anything else with it. BUT. If I feel like putting something cute in my hair (it happens), like my tshirts, I’m only allowed to don these items until I’m 30. Because, “whether it’s flowery scrunchies, banana clips or your daughter’s plastic kiddie barrettes, whimsical hair accessories are not fitting for a fully grown woman.”  For the record, my grandmother, a woman in her 60’s, wore a pretty red hair gizmo over the holidays -the first time I’ve seen her wear anything in her hair in my life – and I thought she looked fabulous.

Dear Internet, Marketers – Kindly stop telling us what to wear or not wear and stop pushing us into boxes. I’ll wear what I want, how I want, for as long as I want.

 

 

 

The Fitch Pitch: Socially Conscious Re-Branding?

So, I know that I had promised that my next post would be the finished jacket that I’ve been working on (See posts 1 and 2), and I promise to get to it. However, I saw this video in my Facebook news feed, and wanted to comment upon it.

I’ve never been all that keen on Abercrombie & Fitch (or American Eagle, or Hollister, or any of the other cookie cutter trendy fashion outlets for that matter). It’s just never been my style. When I was a teenager, I spent all of my hard earned burger flipping money at Hot Topic (which, 10-13 years ago actually carried some pretty awesome stuff). I still have my spiked leather collar… oh, memories. Of course, this was also before I woke up and started to learn about where all of my clothing came from and noticed the consumer machine I was taking part in. But, I digress…

A&F, like just about every other brand out there, is marketing to an audience and is pushing this image of what is physically and socially desirable. Everyone and everything around you is trying to influence you in some way. Our parents, our friends, the schools, the media, religion, all of it. How do you think culture is passed on? No one is born knowing anything or having any opinions or philosophies. We learn these things from the society around us, for better or for worse. At least the guy doesn’t deny he has an agenda. I don’t agree with his agenda, but, I give credit where it’s due.

So, the Fitch the Homeless campaign. I kind of like it in that they’re pretty much telling A&F, “Screw You and Your Elitist Crap!” And I also get that, generally, giving homeless people clothes isn’t a bad thing. Donating used clothes and keeping them from being trashed is certainly the opposite of the massive textile waste A&F creates by burning clothes (Seriously? Quit being such a dick.), so it’s doing some good there.
— Did you notice though, that they didn’t just shop some anonymous thrift shop, they went to Goodwill, and even made sure to flash the logo? The song, “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis also specifically names Goodwill and just recently Beyonce teamed up with Goodwill for her latest tour. I’m sure these are all just coincidences, and it’s likely just genericized trademarking at work, as Goodwill is one of the largest second hand companies internationally and perhaps the most widely known company name in the US, aside from Salvation Army, but 2 syllables is less hassle than 5. Sorry, Salvation Army, we’ll always remember you come bell ringing season.

Perhaps what rattles around my mind the most with regard to this Fitch the Homeless campaign, is that, it’s pretty much using the homeless people to combat this image that A&F is pushing. I’m sure they have the best of intentions and they just want to wake some people up to this system we live in, tarnish the A&F CEO’s elitist vision and hopefully get him to 1) Quit burning clothes that people could use 2) Realize people come in all shapes and sizes and 3) We already have a big enough self-body image problems and disorders stemming from them.  I also respect that in order to get people involved in a cause, you have to get that message out somehow, so why not make a youtube video and use social media to get people motivated, interested and interacting with your cause? It’s a very smart thing to do and hopefully it *will* get people involved and bring about some positive change. But, despite all their well-meaning, at the end of the day, they’re still juxtaposing the image of homelessness against the current conventional ideals of social desirability. They’re mad at A&F for saying “A is pure, we don’t want to be tainted with B” – which I wholeheartedly agree makes them douchebags – but they’re fighting this message by saying, “Hey, look! We’re tainting your precious A with B all over the place and there’s nothing you can do about it!”. This is still a problem.

Emulation: Introduction

Last night, I was watching one of my favorite movies, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. I always loved the Indiana Jones movies as a child.. indeed, Indy was a role model of sorts for me during my formative years, and is still very much a personal hero. (How else do you think I got interested in Anthropology? LOL)

My Hero, Indiana Jones

Anyhow, as I was watching Indy travel through the jungle and narrowly escape being crushed to death, I couldn’t help but think to myself: I want his outfit. This is not the first time I have thought this to myself..  in fact a few years back I spent hours looking into just where his outfit came from. What company made his jacket? Where can you get an authentic looking hat? What dye combination is needed to make a white button up shirt look that dingy tan/grey color?

Then my mind springboarded from that and I started asking myself why I wanted to dress like him.. Or why, for that matter, does anyone want to emulate someone or something else? We see it all the time in advertisements.. we use big name celebrities to market this product or that because we know that the fans will buy said product in order to emulate their hero. Indeed, the only time I have ever spent over $100 on a pair of shoes was for just such a reason – I bought a pair of Nike Shox because I was obsessed with House, and those are the shoes he wears. (They were actually very good shoes, and while my motivation for purchasing them may have been misguided, I don’t entirely regret the purchase.)

If you follow Japanese fashion (or even just contemporary Japanese culture) at all, you might be familiar with Cosplay: generally, dressing up as a character from an anime or manga. Perhaps you’ve even heard of furries – anthropomorphic animal cartoons/ a person incorporating an animal into his/her cosplay attire?  I’m willing to bet money, if you know what I’m talking about, this is all pretty normal to you.. you may even be a LARPer. If not, you’re going to learn all about it in upcoming blogs (Come to the Nerd Side!). You may even be shocked to learn (if you’re not already aware) that this strange practice is centuries old. Yes.. people have been dressing up as animals for hundreds of years. Yes, I’m talking about animism and shamans here folks – hard core anthropology fodder.  And it is with the shamans that I will begin my investigation into the significance of emulation in fashion and culture next week.