Body


At one point in early August, I’d had two finalist interviews, one phone interview, and surgery to remove a lump from my breast, and I was just waiting to hear. On everything.

Luckily, that only lasted two days. Labwork came back totally benign, and just last week I accepted a position as a full-time academic advisor at a bigger, richer university, in a bigger (more expensive, but new salary totally workable) city.

It’s pretty much a dream job and a perfect fit—luckily, since I had turned down an offer that would have been a fun job in a very small town with a big pay cut, in order to hope for this one (and the third job hired someone else. I sent out six applications total. So I was optimistic enough to roll the dice. I actually had one more year with my current school, but it’s past time to be moving on, although I would have used it if I had to).

They need me asap, so I’m moving real fast. Scrambled ! find an apartment, cleaned out my office (see recent twitter feed) and now a week to pack my house.

New job, new town, new life!

Per usual, I have a multitude of drafts brewing in my mind, and have not intended to abandon this blog. But for those of you not on twitter, a quick update—-

This week offers me two extended final-round interviews for jobs (one of 4 candidates, and one of 2 or 3 candidates after passing phone interviews of 6 candidates, so that feels good even if I don’t get anything, and I’ve got to prepare some presentations that will be a whole new world), and a consultation with a surgeon to probably remove a lump in my breast that has substantially changed from last year (yeah, that doesn’t feel so good, but the internets say it’s a very high probability of being benign). Busy week!

Looking forward to Saturday.

So I have dry eye. When you hold your eyes open without blinking, your tears are supposed to take about 10-15 seconds to evaporate. Mine take 2.

The eye doctor says she’d like to see 7 seconds for me to be able to safely wear contacts without risking infections, etc, although she hasn’t told me to stop wearing contacts (which I wear as-needed for exercise, glassblowing, going out, not full-time). With a previous course of medicine, I got up to about 6-7 seconds two summers ago, but have since fallen back.

So I’m going back on Googleproofed Medication, which is eye drops twice a day for at least six months, which is supposed to convince your eyes to make more tears. It’s expensive—$130/month. In addition, it comes in 60 little vials for a month, each of which holds about 8 drops of medicine, but you are only supposed to use 1 drop in each eye and then throw the rest away, because “there’s no preservative”. (My eye doctor explicitly said I could use a vial twice.)

So now they have this rewards program—$25 off each prescription, your 7th prescription free, a gift card after the 4th prescription.

Now, I have a good job, with good insurance. But we just changed insurance providers, or that is, we shifted from a big company to a management company that will run a self-insurance program. And I was all pissed, because the previous company just allowed the medication, but the new company made me try some over-the-counter remedy first for two weeks, and then go back to the doctor for a check-up, to prove the expensive medication was needed.

But the old company assessed a $50 co-pay, and the new company only demands a $15 co-pay. Which the rewards program covered for me. Maybe I should believe “there’s no preservative” and use a vial only once.

The financial infrastructure of health insurance in this country is all screwed up.

Considering trying to make quiche practically sent me into a mental breakdown, how in the world is it that I can deal with sewing, which everyone agrees is frustrating and where I am equally as ignorant?

A few things:

The first try in sewing is done in cheap fabric to identify potential problems, not in an attempt to get something edible that night (sometimes under the pressure of hunger). Unsuccessful projects can be recycled, or at least added to the scrap bag for eventual re-use, not just tossed in the trash or choked down.

Sewing takes longer, yes—but at the end I have something that will last, that I can use more than once. And I’m happier to repeat a skirt/dress pattern in three different fabrics than to eat varieties of quiche for three solid weeks.

After cooking, I have something that is edible, but I know would have tasted better if I had gone out to a restaurant and ordered it. Sewing only since February, I’ve managed to produce about 10 skirts and 1 dress that don’t fit me any worse than the clothes I buy, and are in colors and fabrics that I picked because I really liked them.

It’s much easier to move between sewing and my computer than cooking and my computer, since I don’t have to be washing hands or moving into another room. So both research and taking notes for next time are quicker and less annoying and less of an interruption to the process.

Sewing instructions take less for granted than cookbooks. There is a LOT less decision-making required, at least at the novice level. Patterns are very specific about the things you need and what you should do, including how much fabric you need at 45″ wide and how much if the fabric is 60″ wide (as opposed to basil being sold in ounces but measured in cups, and so forth). There’s none of this assumption that you know what difference it makes to throw in a quarter-cup of dill or basil or thyme—I learned the difference between a regular zipper and an invisible zipper by April, and that’s about the main choice I need to make.

Sewing turns out right. Yeah, it seems weird and crazy along the way, just like cooking, but when it’s done, I see how it works. It’s not as complicated. I see where I need to add a dart to fine-tune the fit on the next one or lengthen the skirt. When I finish cooking, I’m left with “this tastes bland, but I have no clue which spices or herbs it needs to improve.” Or I don’t like the texture, but don’t know which ingredient will change it.

If I can’t figure it out, I can take it to my weekly sewing studio to ask for advice. I can’t describe tastes over the phone to my mother or sister.

Learning to fit clothes teaches me to accept my body, to know it better, to conquer its flaws. Trying to eat healthy—um, doesn’t. Just doesn’t. At all.

Cookbooks say “this is easier than you think!” and they lie. Sewists say “yes, this is tricky, but you can do it!” and they are right.

Sewists remember their own frustration in learning something for the first time, and try to pre-empt it in tutorials. The catchphrase is “ask me how I know” (that doing X will fail. Because they tried it, and it failed). They say things like “okay, this is going to look really weird, but trust me, it works.” Cookbooks do not. I am very reluctant to cook something unfamiliar, when I don’t know how it’s supposed to turn out. I can look in my closet to see how some things are supposed to turn out.

(It’s possible that I am just reading the right sewists online, and not the right cookbooks or cooking blogs. The one sewing book I bought, Sew What! Skirts, I did occasionally find frustrating in the same way as cookbooks. There’s a sense of betrayed trust in my quiche post, and that’s a situation I tend to overreact to—for one reason or another, I don’t feel like I encounter it as much in sewing.)

Because sewing is not an expected skill, every functional achievement deserves pride, even if it didn’t come out exactly the way I wanted. Cooking always provokes a sense of trailing behind, desperately trying to catch up to where a 34-year-old woman ought to be.

  • Four dresses I’m perfectly happy with, just waiting for a good moment to wear them. Pictures taken so I can start cataloguing my closet in an iPhone app.
  • One dress and one skirt jettisoned.
  • Three dresses and two skirts in the “refashion” pile. The dresses and one skirt to be converted into long tanktops, the other skirt to go from ankle-length velvet to knee-length velvet with a kicky ruffle.
  • Two dresses I can jettison as soon as I know I can sew something better for myself.
  • Next year’s Halloween costume, as a bridesmaid.

My eye doctor has taken me off progressive lenses. No more feeling like an old lady! No more paying $800 for super-thin lenses made in Germany!

Unfortunately, I did the glasses hunt in August, when I expected to get progressives (meaning I could not get teeny frames) and before I cut my hair to ear-length instead of past my shoulders.

Now I have to redo it, but at least I know there is really only one store worth checking, since I’m committed to buying glasses that come with magnetic sunglass clips.

Cut off my hair in August. Short hair requires thin headband. Thin headbands are basically just big rubber bands.

I have a big head—not excessively big, but at the top of the average range for women, as far as I can tell.

Every day, between about 3pm and 5pm, I pull off my headband because it is making my head feel tight.

Every morning, I can’t find a headband because they are scattered around—in my office, in my jacket pocket, my jeans pocket, etc.

Periodically, I buy more headbands.

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