Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Embroidery..... the thing the kids are really doing and just don't say it

There is the stereotype out there in the world that young people do "young people things", such as clubbing, drinking themselves stupid and smashing letterboxes. The other part of the stereotype is that "young people" don't cook, live off fast food and junk, and also believe and live a completely disposable culture. While parts of this are indeed true, I happened through freaky happenstance to have a group of friends in high school which rejected this culture. Sure, they drink to excess (reading drunken Facebook statuses is highly amusing), dance the "white boy" dance of my generation and do consume a large amount of fast foods, but they also make their own clothing, love to bake and cook, and some of us even embroider. At lunch time, our conversations which resulted in "Man, you've missed out," usually involved someone admitting they had never eaten pavlova before, and outrage was definitely screamed out when the same person admitted they had never before consumed trifle (*cough cough* Blondie *cough cough*). Things which were smuggled into the school yard were far from alcoholic, but rather cakes and trifle for the deprived human and all around her (don't worry, her culinary tastes exploded once we found out. It's a slow process.). Things which were common in our grandparents generations were beloved in ours. Baking cakes and being able to cook from a recipe was and still is highly regarded amongst my friends. Even me, the one who screws up most simple dishes can bake a lovely cake.

My main speciality (other than baked goods, deserts and pasta) is the simple skill of embroidery. I cross stitch, long stitch, back stitch, etc. This pleases my grandmother immensely, especially as my mother fails in the ability to sew. As a child, I would try to knit and do crafts with my grandma (I suck a knitting), and this lead to a strong bond between us. One time after I had finished high school, my grandma brought home a small bookmark cross stitch from the shops and my passion for embroidery was re-ignited. I did that bookmark and gave it back to her, writing "Grandma" down the side. Her response was to frame it and place it in pride of place in her home. I was thrilled. It then gave me an idea. For Christmas I went and bought a cross stitch to do for her, and give her the finished work. It was of a puppy and a chicken, and when I bought it 3 weeks prior to Christmas, I felt hey, plenty of time to finish it. Boy was I wrong.

This is how it looked, not completely finished a whopping 2.5 years later. The "little cross stitch" was nowhere near ready that first Christmas or the one after. It was insane. I was clearly out of my depth, but somehow it was completed.

That is the final item up on my grandmothers wall. She loves it. After a while, I grew restless, and I have an embroidery on the go which is just as massive. It's cat's with guns. Should be awesome. But in the meantime, I have done small side projects for people. One was a special gift for a family friend. She was dying of cancer (RIP) and I decided to make a nice little bookmark for her. My reasoning was simple; she loved flowers and sure, people were bringing them to her, but those died over time. Cross stitched flowers lasted forever.

The cross stitch was found in her bible when she did finally pass, as it was the only bookmark she had. As she was deeply religious, I felt very touched to have something I made her placed in such a prominent spot. This did inspire me to do more, and as such my shopping life includes trips to discount shops for discount embroidery kits, which give me patterns to use with threads and blank Aida. At first I was happy to just do the cheap kits, until this one.

This is the most evil, horrible, satanic kit I've ever had the displeasure of working with. The pattern is ok, cheap, nasty, but it works and is ok. I can reuse it, and work with it in another setting very nicely. This kit, however, is for a bag and it comes with an Aida bag for you to sew onto. Problem; the bastard bag comes pre-made. As in, the sides are sewn together, and there's a tiny as hole to fit your hand in to sew the design. Very, very nasty. I cannot imagine a kindly old lady being able to do this without seriously hurting herself. The seams are so solid you can't even take them apart to do the design easily without damaging the Aida bag. The needle that came with it is sharp, which is not the sort of needle one should use in embroidery of this nature. I bled for that bag. It was given to grandma to fix up with ribbons, and she sent it on as requested to a person needing a pick me up. That person was her little sister, who has a relation dying and is having a hard time of it. I received a lovely little thank you card which grandma assures me has a lot of writing in it for a card from her sister. I have another of these bags waiting for me to do. It is something I am very eager to continue procrastinating over.

I have also done a little owl bookmark I am yet to take a photo of. That already has a home, and then there is a giraffe one to be completed. For $2 for a complete kit, I was happy to take the child-like designs.

There lies a question in all this, the big, Dark Knight question. If you are good at something, never do it for free. So how does one make this a business venture to solve the unemployment? I have a good idea for that, but it's not going to be easy and sometime soon I will have to undergo a test of my own design to examine if it can be done with a minimum of hair pulling and finger stabbing. In the meantime, I shall continue my own little embroideries and the ones I give away.

Oh and Blondie, finish those cross stitch bookmarks so I feel less like a grandma when I shop for embroideries.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A fire should do the trick.

Today is a day of odd feelings. Well, to be honest, not all of today was like that, but still a conflict that has been within me for ages is now ready to be finished. Closed off.

Today I received my certificate. Yes, a simple piece of paper which says I have officially finished my degree (the paper even says that happened months ago but the slack creatures in their admin have just finalised crap). Some would say that's a good thing. Certainly friends of mine who have received their degree have spoken of pride, happiness and great joy and satisfaction at having possession of such an object. My feelings are not along the same lines.

For several months now I have been wanting to burn my certificate when it arrived in the mail. I wanted to burn it even as I was finishing the degree. It is a single piece of paper which tells me that I have lost far too much to get it, that I destroyed too many friendships that will never recover, too much of my health, sanity and far too much of myself. There were days while I did that degree that I felt ending it made far too much sense, and I don't mean quiting the degree. That was never an option. I look upon that piece of paper which has caused me to loose jobs and any chance of employment. It has slashed my chances of ever being employed. I gained friends during that period and then lost them equally quickly, good friends, good people who I never speak to, haven't been able to speak to in months. Now they've all moved away, or are too busy chasing their own little pieces of paper, jobs or children to speak to me. A sad event indeed.

I lost my home because of this degree. It gave me one, ever so briefly to take it away just as fast. To have a taste of freedom to loose it is the hardest scar to bear. The degree took all my savings, ate them up, meaning some weeks while I was there, earning that piece of paper I could not eat more than one meal every day. Sometimes less.

It took my health, making me ill so much through stress and the overdose of sick people around me. Every illness known to man was in those lecture halls. I spent the entire degree with a cold and at least 2 flu's a year. Constant headaches, insomnia and yet a lack of being able to get up in the morning ruined my health. No friends, complete isolation and endless late nights doing homework while trying to speak to people on the internet, the only social contact outside uni or my family I could have, ruined my well being within myself. The constant failings no matter how hard I tried ruined what was left of my self esteem and during those dark nights I slowly became insane. I became what I had to to survive those days. If the course, which was full of girls, became bitchy (a daily occurrence) I had to become bitchy to survive. I lost a lot of my morality to that degree, a lot of the things I said I wouldn't do or say were obliterated in the grim harsh reality of the dark university. I soon lost myself.

With the coming of this certificate, I don't feel any smarter. I don't feel as though I have accomplished anything at all. If anything, I feel a keen sense of anger any time I am reminded that I own it. When the question was "Did I want to attend the ceremony to receive it, or get it in the post" like it was junk mail, the answer was simple, post. I did not want pictures of myself with it, and it in all likelihood that will not occur, no matter the pleading from family. However, the one thing the family has said which comes through clear as day is that I am not allowed to burn it. To them, that piece of meaningful shit is worth something. So it rules out the burning of the actual document.

I like the thought of burning however, as fire has always held meaning to me. It has a cleansing power beyond everything else. No matter how diseased your crops are, if they are consumed in fire the disease will be removed. Yes, it is deadly, a dangerous element which cannot be trusted. It causes pain just as easily as joy, but then, so many things in life do. It has the power to hypnotise and enthrall, it causes death and birth (some plants need fire to produce seeds) and most of all it ruins and creates.

So how shall I get my burning without pissing everyone off? An effigy will have to suffice I suppose. But even in effigy there will be a releasing of demons and I shall be able to truly forget the evil of that degree. And with that burning, I can finally move forward.

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