Why I Am on Strike Today

Today is International Women’s Day. In recognition of the day, in the US, activists have called for a general strike by all women. The strike means:

  • No work, either paid (a job) or unpaid (housework, caregiving)
  • Don’t spend any money
  • Wear red in solidarity

I am doing all these things today. Why? Let me lay out my reasons:

  • I don’t like being taken for granted.
  • I want my voice heard about inequalities in the workplace and in the home.
  • I want to demonstrate that women are a big part of the economy.
  • I want to continue the momentum from the Women’s March in January.

Many women I know are on board and many women are not. Here are some common criticisms and my responses:

Q: How nice for you that you can take a day off from work with no penalty. Doesn’t this “strike” smack of privilege?

A: Yeah, it does smack of privilege. So what? I am able to take off a day from work without taking a hit to my bank account or imperiling my job. I am fortunate. I am speaking for those who cannot.

Q: You’re not in a union. You like your job and you’re well-paid. Why take out your political frustrations on your employer?

A: Even if you are well paid and well treated at your workplace, you can bet that others are not. Some women at your workplace are paid less than men for doing the same work. Some women didn’t get promotions or plum assignments or other opportunities because they’re women, a mother to young children, pregnant, or caregiver for someone. Some women at your workplace have to deal with sexism, bias, hostility and harassment. You are affected by these things even if you don’t personally deal with them every day. Speak for those who cannot, those who are silenced by trauma and fear.

Q: Why take this out on people who need you, like your husband, kids or parents?

A: Don’t tolerate emotional blackmail. If your husband has to cook and do the dishes, he’ll live. If he does not “get” the purpose of the strike, you have bigger problems in your marriage to worry about. You’d be surprised what your kids can do on their own if they have to. Any child over the age of 3 or 4 can dress themselves, feed themselves, use the toilet and other basic tasks. Your kid may be dressed weird or may have cereal for dinner, or their hair may be messy or their teeth poorly brushed, but again, for one day, they’ll live. Older children can help younger ones. If you’re truly the caregiver for someone helpless – an infant, an elderly parent – then of course it’s not right to let them suffer. Get your husband, brother or son to do whatever they can. You do what must be done but no more.

Q: Doesn’t the “no spending money” hurt woman-owned businesses too?

A: Of course. Some strikers have decreed it’s OK to spend money on a woman-owned business, but I disagree. No business is going to go under because women don’t spend money there for one day. It’s about demonstrating our economic power. Often, businesses that cater to women – the hair salon, the boutique, the yoga studio – are really owned by men anyway. Be sure you know who owns the businesses you frequent! Some friends and I came up with a list of women-owned businesses in our city, and we pledged to use these businesses whenever possible.

Q: Wear red? Really?

A: OK, I think the whole “wear this” directive is kinda juvenile, but I suck it up and do it because it’s part of the visual statement we need to make. One of the reasons the Women’s March was such a success was because all the pink pussyhats  made a major statement. I would prefer that we stuck with pink, but whatever. I have my red sweater on.

Q: So, basically, you’re just going to be lazy for the day, right?

A: Yes and no. I am taking some “me” time today to work on a sewing project. I did a good workout at home this morning. I will enjoy a glass of wine tonight when my husband makes dinner and cleans up. But I am also taking action, including writing this blog, and going to a demonstration later today. Do whatever you want! You’ve earned it!

 

 

Too Cool for 8174

When I was younger and overweight, I wanted a black leather motorcycle jacket,  but I could not find anything in the stores that fit me. So, I had one custom-made at a small leather shop run by immigrants from one of those Eastern European countries where the women use magenta hair dye.

When I lost the weight, the jacket no longer fit, so with a heavy heart I donated it to Goodwill.

Now today, I have developed the sewing skills to make one on my own. So when I got the itch for a new jacket – this time in red ultrasuede – I thought I could do it.

Ta da!

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This is Simplicity 8174, a “Mimi G Style” jacket. I think it’s the best of the current crop of moto and bomber jacket patterns out there, especially if you have a curvy figure. It has nice RTW features, such as shoulder vents in the back, tab-and-button details (I used silver metal studs) and zippered pockets.

Its asymmetrical design features a zipper  in the princess seam, so you need to sew one side of the jacket and then the other. This seemed inefficient to me, but I learned my lesson when I accidentally sewed on the shoulder yoke, forgetting that the zipper needed to go in first.

I made a few adjustments, and one I wish I had made. This has a rather high bust, at least for a woman looking at the back end of 40. So I wish I had moved down the bust point an inch. I also widened the bicep a tiny bit and made my usual forward shoulder adjustment.

I lined the jacket with silk charmeuse left over from a failed dress project. I had to piece the lining together a bit to get it to work, but I don’t think it’s that noticeable.

My husband likes it – partly because he thinks I now need a motorcycle to go with it!

Why Can’t I Get It Together?

I have been trying to lose 10 pounds for 6 months now. Instead of losing, I gained 5. Why can’t I get it together?

I have kept off over 50 pounds for several years now, so I know perfectly well how to do this. I just cannot get into a groove. I will lose a few pounds and then slack off, for so reason I can fathom.

OK.

Maybe I can fathom a few reasons. Boredom, complacency, laziness, denial. Sometimes, I don’t care all that much. And then I have to squeeze into clothes that fit well 15 pounds ago, and I get so mad at myself. I am just so damn SICK of it all.

You see, I got me what’s called “a bad attitude.”

I was reminded last night of what’s the matter with me. I got my hair done and then went out to dinner with my husband. My hairdresser used to be overweight and unhealthy – smoking, drinking – and then she shaped up. She is very fit and slim and talks constantly about her various exercise, eating and cooking routines. All I can think of when she talks is “what a bore.” As I was paying at the desk, she left for her evening workout, dressed in athletic gear, looking great. And all I could think was, “I don’t want to have to work that hard to stay in shape.”

We went for dinner at an Asian noodle shop that my husband has raved about. I was in such a foul mood – pretentious hipster place, very crowded with college students, Genesee Cream Ale on tap, for chrissakes. I ordered the lightest thing on the menu – a chicken-based pho with veggies – and ate maybe half of it. Washed it down with several glasses of water. Thought, as I was eating it, “You’re going to be bloated AF tomorrow from the salt in this.”

And I am, so I guess I know a bit about what I am doing.

Sudoku Sewing

I joined the PatternReview.com “Wardrobe Sudoku” contest to sew 10 coordinating items in a sudoku-style grid in two months.

How can I explain this? Here’s a mock-up of my wardrobe idea. All the items in a straight line are meant to coordinate, like some bingo boutique, with shoes. I noted on the right if the pattern was TNT – that is, “tried and true” and therefore, easier, of if it was a new pattern with the added work of fitting and figuring things out.

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I already realize that the blue skirt and blue jacket will never work, unless I want to look like a Smurf with a pituitary problem. So I need to rethink the upper right corner.

I finished one item already, the jacket from Happy Homemade Sew Chic, a Japanese sewing pattern book. Here’s a picture. See my other blog, Sewing Japanese, for the details.

Then I started oimg_20170128_182950647_topn the red jacket in the bottom row. It’s a bitch of a jacket – 25 pieces including lining, and most of them interfaced – but go big or go home, right? I am taking Monday off from work and will get a lot of work done on Superbowl Sunday, since I abhor football.

What compelled me to do this? Why do I sew my own clothes, like some peasant? Why I don’t just go to the mall already?

The pull of the Distaff Side is strongest in winter.

 

 

First Time for EverythingI

I have never been in a protest march in my life. Even in college, when classmates would gather to demonstrate against whatever or for whatever, I’d skulk around the fringes or hide in the library.

I was studying journalism and I became a journalist.I was convinced I needed to maintain objectivity, so learned to set personal opinion aside. Sometimes, I honestly didn’t have an opinion at all, and often my opinions were mixed anyway. I could not understand why some people were so angry and upset. I am not a fearful person, and so I guessed that it was fear that really motivated these protesters – fear that something bad would happen, or fear that something good would be taken away.

I attended the Women’s March on Trump Tower yesterday and came to feel the fear first-hand. Since the day Trump was elected, I have felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. It hasn’t gone away. When we was sworn in as president Friday, I downed some Maalox and got back to work, then finished preparations for the march Saturday.

At the march, fear met joy head-on and got run over by a pink tide. I marched with women who made uteri out of cardboard and women who drew fallopian  tubes on their pink pants. I marched with women young enough to be my daughters and women older than my grandmother, some inching along with canes and walkers. There were men, too – plenty of them.

No one got violent, no one got arrested, no one so much as stepped accidentally on someone’s foot without saying “sorry” or “excuse me.” Here is the scene outside Grand Central Terminal, the main train station in New York:

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Lots of people made signs. I met up with a guy dressed as Gandalf whose sign said “You shall not pass!” Of all the signs I saw, this was my favorite:

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I couldn’t catch up with the young woman holding it. I hope she doesn’t mind that I shared her artwork with everyone.

Today I am tired an achy and a bit anxious again. Yesterday we had our fun. Today the real work begins.

“What are you going to do tomorrow, and the next day, and the rest of your life?”

My Poster for the March on Trump Tower tomorrow.

Gandalf says this to Pippin right before he introduces the Hobbit to Denethor, the leader of Gondor. Pippin’s wilfully ignorant of what’s going on as the nations prepare for war against Sauron.

I think it’s a good metaphor for the Trump Resistance. No one is too small to matter. No one can remain wilfully ignorant. 

“You look so skinny!”

I bought a new sweater this past weekend – love me a January sale. It’s a long raspberry and gray sweater with a split hem that reaches well past my butt, so I wear it belted. I wore it to work yesterday with some black slim-fit pants.

“Love this! You look so skinny!” a coworker blurted out in the hallway when she saw me.

Does it matter that this coworker is a size 2 30-year-old?

Does it mean, “You usually look fat, but not today!”

Does it mean, “I normally hate your clothes but this is pretty good, for you!”

Who knows what it means. It was meant as a complement, to be taken with good grace. There’s no point in parsing out the meaning, exploring a coworker’s lack of social graces, or plotting revenge.

So what to say in reply? “Thanks.”

That’s all.

#Pussyhats

I sewed 22 #pussyhats yesterday for myself and my friends to wear during the Women’s March on Washington and the March on Trump Tower in NYC on January 21, the day after our new president is sworn into office.

Here’s a picture of two finished hats and a picture of the assembly line I created.

A couple of women created this project to create a strong visual representation at these events. The hats must be pink – any shade – and handmade, either knit or sewn. You can decorate them as you like. I made these little contrasting ears, and I am leaving it to my friends to decorate them with buttons, whiskers etc.

I posted pictures on Facebook yesterday, and several takers appeared right away, including a friend of a friend who wanted six hats for herself and her friends for DC. I am meeting her tonight to hand over some hats. I am mailing other hats to friends and relatives in Maine and New Hampshire, and I’ll give more to my friends locally. Whatever’s unclaimed I will give to strangers at the march in New York.

To be honest, I am not that keen to wear a goofy, bright pink hat to this event. I am deadly serious about my fear for my country, and for women in particular, with this new president. But, I understand the power of symbolism and image in our digital age, so I will do it. And I understand the desire to take away the derogatory power he and others have tried to claim over women’s bodies, by vulgarizing our anatomy.

For more information and how you can get involved, see Pussyhat Project. The sewing pattern itself is a free pattern from Fun With Fleece. I got 22 hats out of about 3 yards of remnants of poly polarfleece.

Sobriety

I am laying off the drink for a while. I have never been a big drinker; even in college I’d have 2 or 3 beers and call it a night. But lately even one drink is too much. It’s like my body can’t metabolize it anymore. I was no more than halfway through the gin & tonic for evening cocktails on Thursday when a headache bloomed in my brain. It stayed there for four days.

I had no alcohol on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day. I haven’t done four sober holidays in a row since I was 16.

Is my husband on board? Perhaps this photo of his shopping excursion last week tells the tale better than I can:

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I am trying a sober January. We’ll see how this goes.

Caretakers

My cousin called me last night to tell me her grandfather had died. He was my great-uncle, and he had been in poor health for several years, but still it was a blow to everyone. My cousin had been primary caretaker for both her grandparents, as well as her mother and mother-in-law, so they could stay in their home. Her brother does nothing.

My sister-in-law is battling her mother over care of her father, who has dementia and falls down all the time. He is staying in their home without any extra help. Her brother does nothing.

My cousin is helping her mother (my great-aunt) care for my great-uncle, who has advanced dementia and still lives at home. Her brother does nothing.

Anyone see a pattern here?

Caring for the sick and elderly is the biggest distaff deal of all. Women’s work. The kind of essential but unpleasant, tiring and depressing work women do all over the world, often for free, or at best, poorly paid.

Why won’t men step up? Why don’t women make them help out?

I don’t have an answer to these questions. Men are stepping up more when it comes to child care. Every father my age or younger I know has changed diapers countless times; my father never did. So that’s progress. But when it comes to care of the elderly or ill, no dice.

If anyone has suggestions, I’d appreciate it.