reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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first-world pressure. [flawed wednesday]

i found an october 2017 edition of the magazine real simple in and amongst the catalogs in our magazine rack. paging through, i cringed when i saw an article about how to work from home, thinking how inadvertently prophetic that was. there were articles about kitchen makeovers, healthy habits, quick recipes and how to finance renovations. the second to last page was a faux program agenda for what was named by the author (ashley lefrak grider) the 32nd annual symposium of the american society for the investigation of contemporary fashion indignities. it made me laugh aloud, so i extracted two of the ‘session’ titles to share:

the morning ‘breakfast with the thought leaders’ was titled “low rise jeans: a plan to spread self-loathing among women who eat food.”

the ‘policy workshop’ held in the afternoon was titled “who bears the bulk of moral responsibility for pretorn jeans made of elastic and what is the appropriate punishment for this person?”

seriously, the experience of purchasing new jeans imperils most women’s senses of humor, not to mention self-image. styles change and jeans change and, each time, many of us are left wondering whose idea it was for women to wear skinny jeans or jeans that ride below a tummy that has had some serious childbirth adventures.

i detest the lighting in most store fitting rooms and the mirrors that surround you as you step out into the little hallway of curtains. were it to be my decision to make, i would provide soft lighting and beverages. a little asti/iced tea, perhaps. it’s painful. and jeans are my favorite thing to wear so you can bet that, once i have gone through this agony, through the oh-geez-these-make-my-butt-look-big-i’ll-just-wear-long-tunics-all-the-time enlightenment, i make jeans last a very long time and save them all in my overburdened closet. for years. it’s too anxiety-producing otherwise.

the worst is finding a new bathing suit. the hard plastic model mannequin wearing the darling suit in the swim, cruise and yachting department has not lived life and it is unfair to act like her little perfect shape is in any way relevant to the rest of us. ordering from a catalog is an option, but most of the same rules apply and make many of us wish that we could go back to the swimsuits of the 1920s, though these are also hardly ideal.

in the latest first-world news – just how does one keep up? – trends to follow include: luxe sweatsuits (named “almost-business-casual-take-you-from-the-couch-to-errands loungewear”), knit dresses and skirts (because who doesn’t want to wear form-fitting sweater-dresses!), leather coats pretending to be those oversized down coats, and, my personal favorite, puffy shoulders and sleeves, which makes me wonder why i gave away my bridesmaid dress from my niece’s wedding in the early 90s. what’s more, ultimate gray and illuminating yellow are the fashion pantone colors of the year, chosen for their “warmth and dependability”, but clearly not how they look on real people.

the tagline of real simple magazine is “life made easier”. and the heading on the page with the mock symposium agenda is “the struggle is real” with a sub-title of “clothes: we have a few complaints”. the closing session of the conference, with only an hour-long presentation – so little time, so much to say – was “to live is to suffer: was nietzsche wearing control-top pantyhose?” indeed.

women in our society have had an extraordinary and inordinate amount of pressure put on our ability to look fit, healthy, hydrated, well-rested, botulinum-toxin-injected and young. in the pickiest of picky new face-rules, lately i have noticed an emphasis on having eyelashes to end all eyelashes. as a blonde, eyelashes tend to be just laughable and definitely an investment in mascara. at a couple hundred dollars a lash extension application plus upkeep, costs seems like expenditures that would not fall under the ‘make a budget’ article guidelines, nevertheless it is a ‘thing’ and women everywhere are buying into it. at target yesterday, i wondered how the lovely young woman, waiting on us and trying unsuccessfully to type information into a device to locate our pickup order, functioned with her carefully manicured but insanely long fingernails. were these nails what she really wanted or were these nails a product of some sort of weird expectation that they were somehow elevating her already very natural beauty? the questions keep coming. so do the catalogs of new clothes, new swimsuits, new shoes, new products to trim your body, new trinkets, new dietary supplements. so much pressure.

too much pressure. good thing i don’t subscribe to cosmo.

i hear wide-leg-relaxed-fit-waist jeans are back. goodness and gosh, i can’t wait to go try some on. better yet, maybe there’s a pair in the back of my closet somewhere.

yes, friedrich, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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shabby chic. [two artists tuesday]

i was grateful when they attached a name to it – shabby chic. my inclination to love things with the texture of peeling paint and a bit rough-hewn was vindicated…wait!…not only vindicated, but reinforced by the decorating fashion industry. phew! that meant that the old screen doors on the wall, the glass-less window frames tucked here and there, the chopped-off-side-of-the-vintage-desk end table, the vintage black suitcases, the metal radiator grate catty-corner in the foyer, the old door laid horizontal on horses, the tin ceiling panels…these were all fashion statements and not statements of making-do-decor. such a relief.

i must say, however, that i wouldn’t have changed anything anyway. these all make me happy. they are cozy and warm and, mostly, they have history. and it’s the history-that-remains-a-mystery and the history-that-i-know-a-smidge-about that i love. i had no idea whose screen door screens these were when i got them at a wholesale trade show years ago but i could imagine the sound they made when they slammed shut. nor did i know where the old black window with one colored glass square in my studio was from. the old four-foot tall window frames were being thrown out of the historic lakefront building where i had my offices, making room for new windows. i couldn’t bear to see them in the trashpile and the way i adored those offices made it easy to take them home. someone literally chopped off the side of the old desk leaving three drawers and a rough edge and selling it in the estate sale for $5. you can’t see the rough edge unless you really look and this piece has been in the living room for years and years now, serving a purpose and feeling loved. the tin, well, who knows? what i do know is that they make marvelous places to magnet photographs and cards and tiny little signs with sayings that help each day. so, yeah, i guess my point is that whether i know the back-story or not, i really appreciate the warmth of long living they bring. they sit alongside many rocks and sticks that have made short and long journeys home with me, in the back of little baby scion or in backpacks with corks that come home from times spent with my children and moments i want to remember.

i haven’t purchased a lot of brand new furniture. there was the first herculon-fabric overstuffed couch with two matching overstuffed chairs, a tweed in lovely shades of very-early 1980s brown.

well over a decade later that was donated to a youth group and a new couch in mid 1990s floral barn red and forest green with a reclining wingchair of red and white checks made its way into the living room. both of those pieces still have a place in the house – though no longer in the living room. the couch, still very comfortable, is covered with a black slipcover and has a place in the sitting room with a hand-me-down lazyboy, an old farm table and an antique copper boiler tub that stores our roadtrip writings.

there’s a black leather couch in the living room now that has been there over a decade. it shares the space with the old secretary that was my brother’s, the bistro table that was in the second story porch of my old offices, a vintage typewriter 20 bought me for my birthday a couple years ago, a few paintings i spattered, the desk-turned-end-table you now know too much about and the driftwood we brought back from a trip to long island. the two big branches we painted white and potted to hold happy lights still stand steadfastly happying up the room and each day i pass them i wonder if they are too holiday-ish. i quickly reject this as too big a decision and plug them in.

it is in recent days i have had the good fortune of hearing from a dear old friend i taught with in my first two years of teaching way-back-when. we soon will have a phone chat and catch up on everything from a-z. what lois doesn’t realize is that i have thought of her simply every day…as it is her dresser that stands in our bedroom of vintage size that couldn’t really accommodate one of those bedroom suites you see in magazines. instead, this old sturdy five-drawer sits opposite the windows of the sunrise and hold my dad’s peanut can, one of the precious items i have of my sweet poppo’s, the planters peanut blue metal can he tucked in his drawer that always held a few dollars and was the place he sent you if you were going to go pick up the pizza.

as i look at the top of that dresser right this second, pictures of d and me and of my beloved children are on top. there is a small piece of the carpet padding from the irresponsible-gasket-flood waiting to go in the special box next to the yago-sangria-wine-bottle-turned-lamp i made when i was 19 and there is a card in a glass frame that reads: “someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin and they will say, what have you done with your life? and though there are many moments i think i will remember, in the end, i will be proud to say, i was one of us.”

all of this – the stuff with history i know, the stuff with history i don’t know, the peeling paint, the rough-hewn, the used and the it-took-me-a-long-time-to-decide new…all of it – around me reminds me of that and is the connecting thread. of the concentric circles of me, of us. probably that’s why “shabby chic” speaks to me. it is most definitely why it works for me.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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flawed cartoon wednesday

MASTER turtlenecks jpeg copysisu sue swore by them.  turtlenecks.  she has them in every color, every kind of weave and fabric.  she looks fabulous in them and wears adorable chic jackets over them.  she is one cool and trendy lady and i adore her.

having already started the hot-flasharama-period of my life when we were working together, i would ask her how she could stand having a turtleneck on; it was (and mostly still is) out of my realm of imagination being able to wear a turtleneck and not ripping it off in the middle of -say- the choir room or the train to chicago or in the car while driving.  this oh-so-wise treasured woman told me that someday i would understand.

THAT DAY HAS COME.

i look in the mirror, a few steps of days away from 59, and stare at (you might want to stop reading now) my NECK.  what has HAPPENED?  suddenly, my neck (and chin, for that matter) have become O-L-D.  where has the time gone?  where did my old neck go?  and where did that new chin-under-my-chin come from?

my sweet momma, at 93, looked at me one day and said, “i looked in the mirror and (in a horrified voice) i saw an OLD woman.”  “momma,” i reassured her, “at 93, you are an old woman, but you are a BEAUTIFUL old woman.”  personally, i thought my momma was striking.  every last wrinkle told a story.  every last thing she saw as a flaw.  but my words fell on deaf ears.  she just stared back at me.  probably feeling much the same as me.  delusionally thinking that time would stand still in our necks and chins and -yup- everywhere else.  time and menopause take their toll.

the next time you see me try not to stare at my neck (although i have likely set you up for that.)  i may or may not be wearing a turtleneck.  the ironic part is that a real turtle’s neck really does look a lot like mine.  sheesh.

TURTLENECKS ARE IN – a link to t-shirts, art prints, cards, throw pillows, phone cases

 

society 6 info jpeg copy

 

turtlenecks FRAMED PRINT copy

framed art prints, cards

 

turtlenecks COFFEE MUG copy

mugs, travel mugs

 

turtlenecks iPHONE CASE copy

phone cases

 

turtlenecks TSHIRT copy

t-shirts, home decor

 

FLAWED WEDNESDAY – ON OUR SITE

 

 

read DAVID’S thoughts on TURTLENECKS

don’t you know that turtlenecks are in?!?! ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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what is going on??

deconstructedkneesit used to be we would walk into the mall and you could sniff your way to the abercrombie store. back then, my daughter – the girl – and i would waltz our way into the store, combing for the latest $24 or $30 t-shirt, the latest $78 pair of jeans with holes in them (“deconstructed”), looking for the sale racks in the back. it was important, at that time in her life, to wear the ‘right’ stuff, so we would invest in a few things. on occasion, i would find the perfect pair of jeans for me as well (was that too far out at the time??)

the other day i was pondering summer. the weather was getting warmer and i texted susan that summer needed to wait – that i had nothing to wear. well, let’s be real. i had nothing to wear that fit or that (i felt) looked good. sheesh. once again, menopause rears its head. what is going on?? HE says that all the things i tried on look “lovely, beautiful, cute…” (and some other perfectly-supportive-husband superlatives.) but the mirror tells me different.

so i started to go through my entire closet and drawers. i pulled out everything. i brought a mirror into the bedroom (wow – people actually have standing mirrors in their bedrooms – sooo convenient!) i started to try on everything. and i mean everything!  there were still abercrombie jeans in the pile on the top of the closet. and, except for the fact that the blue color wash is the wrong blue now, they still fit. they don’t, however, look the same as they used to. what is going on??

i came across a pair of hollister jeans i had bought many years ago (at least 12!…is hollister even still a brand??) they were a pair of my favorites. they had great holes in them, a button fly, were a dark wash and have stitching on them that says, “follow the sun wherever it takes you”. i am reticent to let these go. maybe i should make a tote bag out of them? regardless, it is unlikely that i will wear them again. what is going on??

so i plodded on through an entire day (no, i’m not done yet) trying to figure out what makes the cut and what doesn’t. i am a total jeans and boots and black shirt person, so some things were easy to put in a give-away pile. but, once again, i found myself lost in thought and memories as i sifted through all this… aztecsweaterhere’s a wrap that was my sweet momma’s. here’s a top my daddy bought me because he told my mom it looked like me. tucked away is a 1970’s wrap aztec print sweater my dad came home with for me when i was in high school. (i recently saw a remake of this very sweater at a store in chicago on the famous miracle mile.) here’s a ‘peace’ shirt the girl got me. here’s a livestrong tshirt with the word ‘hope’ the boy got me… my ever-‘gets-it’-husband said we should be sure to have a place where i can put items of clothing that are steeped in memory. thank goodness he gets it. that mushy-mushiness, hyped-emotions menopause. what is going on??

anyway, i am determined to make it through the summer with the things that are left. i am no longer a big shopper – i can’t think of the last time i went to an actual indoor mall. i haven’t smelled abercrombie from afar in quite some time, though i still recognize the scent ‘fierce’ if someone walks by me wearing it. i just feel like, with maybe the addition of one or two little things, i can get dressed each day this summer, thank the universe for a body that, although changing, works and celebrates life in walks by the lake, hikes out in state parks, dances in the kitchen, standing at the piano, following the sun….followthesunand i can do it without all the latest fashion, without new deconstructed jeans (i have plenty of those that i have organically deconstructed myself), without judging or comparing or being wistful.

all that can be impossibly hard work for women in a society that challenges us with perfect-body/hair/life advertising. but i’m up for it. what is going on anyway??