In Case You Didn’t Know

etsy.jpgI have gotten a lot of compliments on my octopus necklace that Charlie got me for Christmas (which didn’t actually arrive until January 4th or something) and I always send people to etsy.com. I had to send a direct link to Charlie that said “This is what I want,” so he didn’t get me some other necklace with a cephalopod on it that I hated but couldn’t tell him I hated it. I realized I should recommend it here, just in case any of you haven’t heard of this great site.

Essentially it’s an online shop for anything and everything handmade. Just like eBay or Amazon, you can register to sell your wares. The only thing that’s different is that Etsy sellers (for the most part; there are some exceptions) make all of their own goods. Ties, earrings, necklaces, soap, shampoo, socks, crochet, embroidery, paint, photography, you name it.

I’ve seen some really outstanding handbags that I wish I knew how to make, and wallets, which I definitely cannot make as I just sewed my first zipper two days ago and it was a sad mess . . . and some crappily-enough-made ones that make me think perhaps I could get away with asking ten bucks for one of my totes. Now, Shae, I’m thinking of you when I say some people I know could sell the stuff they make on there. And, Mel, if you were so inclined to knit another sweater?

I got Charlie an octopus tie for our anniversary (we’re both really into the octopi/octopuses right now) and the girl who makes it even cuts the fabric for the tie!

I also found a keychain and some art that I really like, all about robots in love and doing people-like things, but in a really cute robot-y way.

I was just thinking I would be doing all of you – and the wonderful crafters on the site – a terrible disservice if I didn’t let you in on it.

No, Wait. THIS One Will be Worse. I Swear.

For the past two days I’ve heard nothing but How Terrible the Weather Will Be. And I don’t doubt that. Last week we had sub-zero temperatures, then it was 50 and raining for two days.  Then we had tornadoes and “hurricane-force” winds that tore the garage door and roof right off Marcus’s house Tuesday night. We know this because we saw his ass on the news.
Then it was 12 degrees. Now we’re expected to get somewhere between 5 inches and 8 million feet of snow, with ice on top of it, followed by freezing rain. By Sunday it’s supposed to be in the fifties again, with torrential rains that may cause flooding as all the snow and ice is melting.

Whenever someone quips, “That’s Indiana weather for ya!” I want to throttle them.  What, exactly, about this series of events seems status-quo to you? Yes, there are temperature fluctuations. Yes, there are sudden thunderstorms. But experiencing three seasons and just about every possible weather pattern – with the exception, perhaps, of volcanic eruptions and an earthquake (and I’m not completely ruling those out just yet) – it doesn’t seem like a typical Hoosier January to me.

Old News

I know this is old news, but not having heard the specifics until Saturday night, I was unaware of how detested I am.

Audrey used to live with a married couple, one of whom worked with us at the coffeeshop. After many, many months of him creating a toxic, negative environment at work, he finally quit. After putting in his two weeks’ notice, it was discovered he was stealing hundreds of dollars’ worth of coffee beans (to name just one thing he lifted), and Annie had to ask him not to come back.

Over the course of the year or so that I worked with him, I went from liking him very much to despising him. He was impossible to deal with and put me in a situation where he made it clear that he thought Charlie and I had a lot of money and that we also rubbed it in his face. He also expected me to choose between being his friend and being Annie’s and when I wouldn’t take sides he stopped speaking to me.

There were a lot of annoying incidents that I didn’t detail here, but I’ll give you a summary of a few:

When we got the hail damage fixed on the Hyundai we got a rental car from the insurance company. It was a Jeep Liberty, of which I was not a fan. The Santa Fe was on the same frame they use for their Sonatas, so it was a much smoother ride. So we pull up in front of the place where he had taken a second job (we’ll call him “Pete”) and get out of the Liberty. When we walk in Pete starts making all these noises about how fancy our new car is and how nice it must be to be able to buy new cars all the time. We corrected him and said it was just a rental, at which point he said it sure must be nice to be able to afford car insurance. This is merely one of many times he said something about our apparent luxurious lifestyle, despite the fact that we used to live down the street from him on 50th Street, and the house we live in now is two blocks from where he was living at that time.

Pete also used to make snide remarks about Annie and our trainer Katie, but immediately stop himself, look at me sideways, and say something catty about how he shouldn’t complain because “word gets around.” In other words, he didn’t want me running to Katie and Annie to tell them what he said.

He also once said something really rude to me about Charlie, which pissed me off royally. I told Audrey about it, who told him, and he half-heartedly apologized a couple of days later. Word does get around.

Finally, Charlie and I sat at his house, surrounded by cigarette smoke and the stench of dirty dogs, for two hours one day, attempting to help him work out the issues he had at the coffeeshop. We were very diplomatic, but honest, and tried our best to convince him that he was smarter and better than what he did, and to not let his work define him. He should basically let it go and find a way to move on. We were at his house to pick up a stray bit pull Pete and his wife had found, both of whom guilt-tripped us into taking the dog — saying that their landlord would evict them if he found out they had a fourth animal. We eventually did find a home for her, but had to contact our landlord first (because she lived right next door) to get her approval for fostering the dog. They acted like this was a terrible inconvenience for them, even though we already had two dogs and two cats at our own place.

This, apparently, was the incident about which Pete told Audrey that Charlie and I were “fake,” that I was a bitch, and that we were full of shit. Saturday night she started to tell me about all of this and I almost stopped her, as I have in the past, because I don’t want to hear the crap people say about me if it isn’t useful or constructive in some way. Pete said we’d come over one day and tried to act like we were his friends, but he could barely tolerate us.

Of course, my memory of the conversation is much different. I know Charlie and I were both sincere and wanted to help him. If for no other reason than to make things run more smoothly at work. I don’t think I was fake, and though I have been called a bitch numerous times, “fake” is not an insult I hear that often. In fact, what most people tell me is that I am either too honest or I just keep things bottled up — not that I present an image that’s different from who I really am.

Audrey said he talked shit about everyone, but it hurt to hear that someone dislikes me for no good reason. It’s one of the things that bothers me most in this world. If I give you an excuse to dislike me, I probably know it. If I don’t give you a reason and you just decide not to like me, I feel like I’m in the seventh grade and I f-ing hate it.

I never did anything to Pete and the only thing I could be blamed of doing is trying to be his friend, trying to help him out, eventually complaining to Charlie about him and, perhaps, gossiping at work. When Pete took over as assistant manager he made a lot of big productions about the fact that managers did not take tips – except for the fact that this was a policy he, himself, claimed to have instituted. A few people relayed these stories to me and I listened. I suppose that’s a form of gossip.

He created a really hostile work environment and I’m glad he’s gone. Especially considering all of the little remarks about how “well-off” Charlie and I appeared to be. These statements bothered me the most because, at one point, Pete was working two jobs while his wife had none; she just acted in local plays for free. They also spent, from what their dealer told me, somewhere around $200 a week on pot.

Further Proof that Indianapolis is the Smallest Town Ever . . .

I went to Leticia’s going-away party tonight and discovered her next-door-neighbor is the same woman who bitches at us when we don’t know her drink, despite the fact that she has been coming in every Sunday for five years.

Leticia’s housemate’s mother came, who turned out to be a woman in my journalism class. That was a strange coincidence.

I had a couple of glasses of sangria, which is still way more booze than I’ve had in one sitting in months. I feel a little headachey and tired now. My back hurts from sitting on a window seat with Audrey for three hours. She caught her hair on fire at one point after leaning back in to a candle. It would have been funnier if everyone hadn’t just stood there and stared at her because she didn’t lose that much hair.

I also found out two people who were there were heading to a second party in, of all place, the town where I went to high school.

I feel like someone has scrubbed out my insides with a piece of steel wool. I think I need some water.

Indianer Loves Wal-Mart

Apparently a new Wal-Mart Supercenter has opened on the West side of Indianapolis. According to the crappy local news I was watching this morning, Wal-Mart is “revitalizing” the Lafayette Square area by providing 426 new jobs (not “more than 450” as Greg Ballard, the new mayor, claims, which seems at least a significant difference to me), for which over seven thousand people applied. Their move into one of Indy’s crummier areas shows their “initiative to deepen their involvement in local communities.”

Someone got 700 signatures on a petition in support of the chain moving in, information used in every pro-Wally World article I read online to show residents’ apparent undying love for Wal-Mart. This sounds to me like not very many signatures. If that many people applied for jobs, why didn’t they sign a petition, as well?

The store gave away dog food, people food, and shampoo; freebies that brought hundreds out to rush the door and scramble over one another when the store opened this morning like it was a day after Thanksgiving sale or they were Oprah giving away free cars – not an opportunity to purchase cases of Mountain Dew and Cheetos by the ton, with which people were filling their carts during the broadcast this morning.

Just by being who they are, Wal-Mart is literally as good an anti-poverty program as we have in this country,” said Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. One of those most disturbing statements I think I’ve heard in a while. “They leave thousands of dollars in the pockets of people who need them most. Other businesses could learn from Wal-Mart’s successful business model by being value driven and taking out costs.”

They also claim they pay their employees an “average of $10.80 per hour” in Indiana. Of course, we all know this is an average of everyone who works full-time (including managers and higher-ups), and all the poor saps who actually make seven dollars an hour, and this is how we get that number.

Although the Lafayette Square area has been in danger of turning in to a war zone for a decade or more, no one can claim that residents have no other opportunities for work, groceries, or shopping. The bus system runs straight through 38th Street and surrounding neighborhoods, there is a Meijer, a Target, a Marsh, and a Kroger. But no one can claim it isn’t economically depressed, either. One person said that loss prevention will be Wal-Mart’s number one concern once they open.
Some people argue that what should have been done – rather than dumping $20 million in to building yet another Wal-Mart – would be to put some money into revitalizing the mall that’s been hemorrhaging money and businesses for quite some time. The area has recently been referred to as the “Pike Plaza Auto Mall” because there are so many car dealerships there. But there are also tons of restaurants (a great vegetarian Indian restaurant and a shop to buy Indian food, supplies, and clothes), the Georgetown Market, retail shops, record stores, gas stations, and other opportunities for people to work and still receive fair wages and health insurance.

I just find it difficult to understand how putting in a Wal-Mart is going to make all these other places, which haven’t wanted to be in the area, stay or come back.

Success!

everyone at the stitching beeThe stitchin’ bee was a success. Everyone came, saw, learned, made something, and took it home happily. Sarah was a no-show but I’m thinking she had to work from 6 in the morning until 4 this afternoon, so she probably went home and crashed. She also has a doggie who was home alone all day, so I don’t mind if she didn’t feel like doing much more than putting up her feet.

Liz had the idea of getting together once a month to do something similar. Annie and Katie would like to learn to sew, so it might be fun to put a couple of machines on one table and show people how to thread them, sew a stitch.

From left to right, it’s Annie, me, Leticia, Katie, Audrey, and Liz. Of course Liz’s sparrow is totally awesome. I put a rocket ship on my apron and added some stars after everyone left and Charlie watched the footballs.

Yay for doing stuff!

Stitchin’ Bee

stitchin_bee.jpgTomorrow is the embroidery party I’ve been planning for . . . well, I guess just a couple of days. It wasn’t official until Annie told me on Wednesday that tomorrow was good for her, and Sarah said “As long as the Colts aren’t in the playoffs.” It’s been on my mind for a couple of weeks, though, since I first saw that embroidering hipster Jenny Hart has a stitching kit for five people. As much as I’d like to support her it was a lot cheaper to just buy a few rings, some needles, and use the thread, scissors, and transfers I already have.

I find that a lot of “crafty” activities are either a little too down-on-the-farm for me (scrapbooking, gift-wrapping, puffy-painting kittens onto sweatshirts, anything involving glue guns), but a lot are also impossible for me to figure out (knitting, crochet, reading a pattern for sewing). This explains why, thus far, the extent of my sewing has not broadened beyond the “square” or “rectangular” gift or craft item. Pillows, handbags, totes … all fit nicely into my rather limited set of sewing skills. But embroidery is something very different that can also be combined with other gifts (I’d intended on embroidering Lucy’s name on to the dog bed I made for her two Christmases ago but did not understand that a hoop and a pattern would have made it legible). It’s something almost anyone can do, and almost anyone can feel good about making. Assuming “anyone” is an aging hipster who likes to sit around and watch “Flight of the Conchords” on DVD whilst keeping her hands busy.

In which case all the gals can learn a fun and funky skill and have something to show for it by the time they leave. Each of the little paper bags in the photo above has a needle, some thread, and a pattern in it for each person coming. When they go, each person can also take an embroidery hoop and whatever other threads she’d like.

I ended up inviting all the girls from work since word travels fast and I couldn’t get away with just asking a couple of people. (In fact, I think John was a little jealous this afternoon when Leticia mentioned the get-together and he was like, “Oh, I wasn’t invited?”) I wasn’t trying to be sexist by only inviting women. Of course, this many people makes logistics rather complicated as only a couple of them know how to sew a stitch. I was thinking I might pair some people off with those who know a little bit and we can each work with a couple of people, showing them how to place the transfers, thread the needle, make a few different kinds of stitches, whatever.

I made a Target run today to pick up some crackers and a knit cap for my freezing little head. While I was there I found some really cute plates, napkins, and party favor bags. I probably stood in the aisle for five minutes, debating whether or not I should actually purchase disposable plates and napkins, but they were soooo cute. Plus, there are only eight in each package which is perfect for the people who will be here: Annie, Audrey, Katie, Leticia, Liz, and Sarah. Plus me and Charlie. He’s not learning how to embroider but he will be coming home from the gym to partake of snacks.

I know for a fact that I spent more on food and drinks than I did on supplies for the sewing. I wanted to have a good spread, but this is also why I don’t have people over that often; I go overboard. I tried to limit myself, just getting fruit, brie and havarti (I like the latter, most people like the former) crackers, veggies, and dip. But then I found myself thinking how much I love olives and you can’t very well have a veggie spread with no olives! Then I thought how other people may drink soda and it wouldn’t be very nice of me not to have soda, just because I don’t drink it. I almost ended up making spinach and artichoke dip, hummus, and some sort of meat product for the couple of carnivores I know, but I stopped myself.

It’s been a few weeks now since I last had a Sprite or orange drink or regular root beer. I found this organic root beer made with cane sugar at Sunflower Market but it’s just not the same. I’m wondering when the incredible-weight-loss-from-not-drinking-soda is going to start. ‘Cause it sure as hell wasn’t happening yesterday as I tried to fit into my Little Black Dress and found myself stumbling around the room with the tightest part of the dress trapped around the widest part of my body. There was much foot-stomping, grunting, sweating, and some squealing until I finally swallowed my pride and walked downstairs to whine at Charlie to help me get out. I’d had the bright idea to zip the dress up halfway before pulling it over my head, which was a bad, bad idea. Luckily for him, Charlie did not laugh, or he might have found himself torn limb from limb. As soon as I was able to get out of the dress, that is.

In News Other Than My Own …

couch1.jpgI know I’m not supposed to say such things, and especially considering it hasn’t even been a week since we had the cable turned off, but I’m really going to miss Project Runway. I’ve already developed an emotional attachment to Sweet P, just like I did with Alison last season. (I guess I have a weakness for blondes?)

In other celeb, but not-so-reality-based news, Tom Cruise is hawking Scientology in a video as the Mission Impossible soundtrack plays in the background. The church has effectively had it removed from several other web sites, but Gawker says it isn’t illegal and refuses to take it down. The purpose of the video, apparently, is to show certain people the positive effect it has had on Cruise’s life, but only at the Scientology Center. Not, it seems, on the intertubes. I suppose it’s impossible to be converted from the privacy of my own home?

In an attempt to “effectively change people’s lives,” and his desire to help others, including world leaders and “entire cultures” with his religion, Cruise goes on for ten minutes about absolutely nothing, saying absolutely nothing. I admit it — I watched the entire thing.

Someone else is claiming some pretty ridiculous things about this devotion to the so-called religion and his “dedication” to changing Jennifer Garner’s life. Like how Suri is actually a production of the cryogenically frozen sperm of L. Ron Hubbard who, if I’m not mistaken, once said that the entire Scientology business was a joke.

If you have the free time or the stomach, one person called it a 10 on a scale of 1-10 with an 8 being him jumping on Oprah’s couch. If nothing else, wait for the whole video to load and then scroll to about the last 40 seconds or so. It’s pretty hilarious.