I made a dress today. My first dress! It turned out pretty good. The pattern is Simplicity 3875 (otherwise referred to as the Duro Junior.) I didn’t make the more traditional Duro view; I made the v-neck with the crossover banding.
Here’s what I learned:
- My pattern was the wrong size, so I had to fudge a little on sizing it up to my measurements. This was actually pretty successful. I probably can take the shoulders back down a size, but otherwise, my alterations were pretty spot on. Except…
- The back-neck-to-waist measurement was two inches longer than on me, so I shortened the bodice by two inches. Because it’s an empire waist, though, two inches was too many. I should have shortened the bodice by 1 inch — maybe even only by half an inch — and taken the other inch or inch and a half off of the skirt front.
- The sleeves on this dress — the C pattern — are just not great. I don’t think it has anything to do with my construction or my alterations; they just aren’t good sleeves. The big problem is that I can’t lift my arms up at all. Next time I’ll make the B dress, which doesn’t have a set-in sleeve and thus should avoid that problem.
- This fabric, while a little heavy for the pattern, actually worked out quite well. It’s got a nice sheen to it, and it really sewed up beautifully. Given that it’s actually a home dec fabric, I am pretty happy with it.
I finally finished my skirt, and I have to say, it didn’t turn out too badly. The zipper is still completely messed up, and the trim is slightly uneven, but overall, I think it turned out pretty cute.
Next up: a cute sundress in a fun sunflowery fabric. It’s going to take me a while to make it, based on the instructions.
It hasn’t been a bad week; things are picking up a bit at work, and I’m still feeling flush with the success of last weekend’s skirt making. I wanted to keep the good going, so I’ve spent tonight doing things I enjoy: watching trash movies and having a cocktail.
The trash movie is last weekend’s Meteor (part two on Sunday!), and the cocktail is a true Old Fashioned.
(OK, maybe not true — I don’t have any bourbon. ((I used Jack Daniels, a fair compromise.)) But there’s no fruit in my recipe — fruit does not belong in an Old Fashioned.)
Mix up some simple syrup if you don’t have some already. ((Put equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it forms a light syrup. Cool before using. I just keep a jar of it in the fridge.))
Then, in an old fashioned glass (the short, fat, round kind), put several cubes of ice, two tablespoons of simple syrup (I used less because of the Jack Daniels), a couple dashes each Angostura bitters and Peychaud bitters ((You might have to search for the Peychaud bitters, but they’re worth it. Not just for the color — bright red — but for the flavor and aroma.)) and a couple of ounces bourbon. Scotch can work too, but I don’t really care for Scotch. Stir gently and enjoy slowly.
So it’s been a while.
I’m still here.
I’m wanting to write again, but there’s not much I can say right now. Work is verboten and there’s not much going on in my life besides work. That’s not to say I’m crazy busy—indeed, my schedule is very manageable. So manageable that I stress out about my hours on a very regular basis. Many of my colleagues are in the same position. Needless to say, the work environment isn’t super right now. ((I had a great April and May, and so did a lot of my colleagues. I think it left us unprepared for a big summer slowdown.)) Given that I’m leaving the firm in a few months to clerk, when I say things are bad, you know they have to be pretty shitty.
It’s more than just the general slowness. It’s the way big firm lawyers react to being slow. We’re risk averse people, we lawyers. Unpredictable workflow causes us to attempt to create some semblance of stability by hoarding work. I say “us” but I don’t mean me. I have no work to hoard. I only get work when it flows downhill and right now, there’s just not a lot coming my way.
This sounds unbelievably gloomy. It’s really not all horrible. I have due course matters that give me a few hours here and there, and some of them are showing signs of life right now. But it’s hard to get back to feeling good about my profession when I’ve been down in the dumps about it for so long. And it really is the profession as a whole, in this particular time. Because I like my firm. I like the people I work with. I love my work, when I have it. Almost every negative thing I can say about my job right now is directly related to the crappy economy and the rational responses of my firm to the downturn. Damn, it sucks to be so logical sometimes—I can’t even sustain genuine anger at my employer because however crappy morale is right now, there’s nothing they can do about it. Legal services have become a luxury and big law associates are the victims.
Today, in an effort to control something, I bought a box of color and did my own hair. I haven’t done my own color in a while—I’ve been having it done by a terrific stylist, who I really like and who does a phenomenal job, but she’s not cheap and I did my own color for so long, and with good results, that I decided to just take that duty back. But I can’t do the lovely, subtle golden highlights I’ve been paying so much for in my bathroom, so I went back to red. And this little exercise of control has thrown me completely out of whack. I guess I didn’t realize how much I liked being sort of blonde, how much that had become part of my identity. And I guess I didn’t realize how risk averse I myself have become, because now I am freaking out at how much darker my hair is—so much so that it will certainly be noticed at work, and possibly commented on by people whose notice I generally try to avoid.
In other words, I have become afraid. A shrinking violet. Nervous. Self-conscious. Insecure. And I really am not any of those things, or wasn’t, until lately. And I don’t like being this way. I think I mostly do a good job of keeping a stiff upper lip and all that, but apparently underneath that stiff lip is a mushy little wimp. Any little change turns that wimp into spaghetti—even, it seems, a positive, taking-control-of-my-own-life kind of change.
The thing is that, even though I’m down and blue and tired and scared, I know when it ends for me–and I am counting the days to my clerkship, let me tell you. The rest of my colleagues probably aren’t so lucky. I know a lot of them feel the same way I do. But there’s no answer for them, no light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s easy to say that we’ll–I’ll–be stronger for having had this experience. It doesn’t make the living of it easy, though.
It’s nice when things come around. I’m working on a case right now that involves a law in my state that was the basis for my 1L legal writing memo. Even better, the client is extremely cost-sensitive, making me the absolute perfect person to be working on this case, since I’ve already done the research. (I may even have my list of precedent including the cases I didn’t cite in the memo.)
So, yay for me knowing some relevant law!
When it rains, it pours.
And I really mean it. Two weeks ago, I got staffed on something that I was told would be blowing up in our faces over the following six weeks. Immediately after that, a long-term matter I’m on also went into overdrive, headed for a filing deadline in, yes, about six weeks. A third project has a looming deadline that is—surprise!—right around the same time as the deadlines in both other matters. A fourth matter has a series of deadlines cluttered over the same time period.
None of this freaked me out. I told all of my supervisors about the unfortunate and concurrent deadlines, set about doing my work, and felt pretty energized. For a while. But then some unfortunate family news was delivered, which shook me up a bit; then one of my supervisors tried to give me constructive feedback which wasn’t actually very constructive at all, and my confidence wavered. Meanwhile the family situation is still unfolding and I very much want to devote a lot of my energy to dealing with it; I also very much want to avoid, at all costs, the confidence-shaking project—and, really, a lot of my other work.
So I’m a bit blue and struggling just to get things done. It’s not the working that’s the problem; it’s doing it for more than 45 minutes at a stretch. Oh, and the getting started. Funny how hard it is to get things done when you can’t actually start them, and then can’t work on them for more than three quarters of an hour. I don’t think I need a break—I’ve been taking breaks, you know, every 45 minutes. Or maybe I do need a break, but in a different sense—we speak of artists and performers waiting for their “big break” and I think I need a break like that. I need something to happen that just completely changes everything, that shifts the mental block and turns me into a drafting machine who can turn the emotional worries off and turn the legal analysis on, and in the next second switch the taps.
The worst part is that I don’t see an end in sight. I mean, I do see something of an end, down the road several weeks from now when all the various work deadlines have passed and things aren’t quite so pressured. But that’s not really an end. It’s just a marker, off in the distance. There’s no way to predict the timing of the family situation, either; it’s just something to be borne until . . . well, until it’s done.
During Lent, many preachers speak of being in the desert—being in the midst of darkness and discomfort—and embracing the lessons to be learned there. And I’ve always thought that was a beautiful concept, and I’ve experienced it a little. But my experiences with the desert have always been of the sit-back-and-wait variety—and those experiences have been challenging for me because I do not easily just sit back and wait, but they’ve also been sort of enjoyable because sitting back and waiting has a sort of nobility about it, a kind of romance. It’s a lot easier to learn something from a challenging experience when you feel noble and romantic going through it.
Now, though, I think I’m in a different desert, one where I can’t sit back and wait, where I have no time to meditate on the lessons to be learned. I have to Do Things, despite my overwhelming desire to Not Do Things. I do not, I think, like this desert very much. There is nothing noble or romantic about it; in fact, I have to completely put aside all of my touchy-feely “let’s hold hands and sing dirges in the desert” instincts and instead just work. I don’t even feel like I’m working through anything, either; I’m just working, making my way through what feels like a neverending pile of stuff that is constantly replenished from the bottom. (Doesn’t this sound like a Greek myth?)
So I’m sitting in the desert trying to Do Things. Wish me luck.
In a final, desperate attempt to lose that summer associate weight (god, almost two years later), I caved and did something I have never, ever done.
I bought an exercise video.
Namely, the 30-Day Shred.
I thought I was in decent shape, even if a little flabby and a few pounds too heavy.
I am apparently not in any kind of shape at all. I did about 12 minutes of the 20-minute workout, approximately one and a half circuits, six total minutes of strength training, two total minutes of cardio, and one minute of abs, and I Cannot. Raise. My. Arms.
My legs are OK. For now. I think the pain is yet to come in my lower body. Frankly, the pain is yet to come in my upper body; I don’t think uncontrollable trembling counts as pain, even though it is uncomfortable.
Mr. Angst says I need to do it again tomorrow, so that I get in the habit of it, so that I stick with it. I told him I’ll do it, half-assed if necessary, if I am actually physically CAPABLE of raising my arms.
Ten bucks says I won’t be able to raise my arms.
I think God has a finely tuned sense of humor. Or at least, he enjoys irony.
Yesterday, our landlord emailed us asking if we thought we’d be renewing our lease. We spent some time crafting a response to her, opening up a negotiation. We’d like our rent to go back to the original rate, the one we agreed to pay in 2007, and in return we’ll agree to extend our lease a few months so as to give her a little extra time with a guaranteed (good) tenant. Theoretically that also allows her a little more time to not have to try and rent the place in a dismal economy. As it is, the original rate is still high for the current market. It was probably average in 2007, but no more. But we like the place and are willing to pay a little more than we probably should, mostly just to avoid having to move. I hate moving.
Eight hours after replying to our landlord’s email–in which we repeatedly insisted that we do love the place and would love to stay if the conditions are right–around 4:00 this morning, we were awoken by a voice, booming over the emergency speaker system. It was the fire department, informing us that there was a fire in the elevator shaft–the one 20 feet from our door, no less–but that we were in no danger, and that we should stay in our homes. This message was repeated, in various permutations and sometimes unintelligibly, several more times over the next hour. And then our apartment started to smell like burning rubber.
I just love being woken up in the middle of the night before the work week starts; I particularly love it when it happens right after I’ve lost an hour of sleep thanks to Daylight Savings. I also love that my sweater today has a sort of chemical scent–that burning rubber smell really got into everything. And I really, really love it when I drag myself out of bed to get ready for work, only to discover that the fire department has turned off the hot water as a result of the fire. Yay!!
But we love living here, yes indeedy.
[Just in case anyone is still reading and was wondering, life is otherwise OK. I am still employed and am even relatively busy, for this economy. Mr. Angst is also still employed. Himself is also doing just fine. We constantly remind ourselves that we are very blessed and lucky to be in good shape right now.]
I suppose there is no chance that they won’t completely screw this up.
Bad weather is never a good thing, but it’s even worse when it coincides with the holidays. Mr. Angst and I are anxiously watching the radar in advance of our drive to the Angst-in-laws'; I have friends currently stuck in a variety of airports, wondering if they’ll be spending Christmas alone instead of with their families.
The best indication of how badly our air system needs a major overhaul is this: in Chicago, 500 flights have been cancelled out of O’Hare, and those flights still running are delayed by hours. But at Midway? No delays, no cancellations. That says its not Chicago’s weather that’s causing the problems; it’s the weather elsewhere. That says the problem isn’t weather at all, but the way flights are routed. Specifically, when the weather in places where flights must go through Chicago is bad, those flights get delayed, then the flights out of Chicago get delayed because there are no airplanes in Chicago, and then flights in other hubs get delayed. It’s a chain reaction. If, instead, one could fly from one coast to the other—or from secondary market directly to secondary market—without having to go through the intermediate step of changing planes in Chicago, things might be different. Hub-and-spoke air travel, in other words, sucks.
To all my friends currently stuck, I’m sending all the good karma I have your way, so that you can spend the holiday with your families. But if you can’t make it home, make the best of it where you are, and get home when you can. Christmas Day may be December 25, but the Christmas season is much longer ((It lasts till Epiphany, actually—twelve whole days!)). And Christmas can be whenever and whereever you are with your family, friends, or loved ones. So have Christmas when you can.