Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Skinny is the new black hole

Yes, I know I've become the worst blogger ever. It's just, you know, stuff keeps getting in the way and it's not even exciting or interesting stuff that I could then turn into some wacky post. It's the most mundane, boring shit imaginable so I have a hard time working up the enthusiasm to come over here and go, "God, ya'll. I'm so busy and so bored AT THE SAME TIME. Please pity me. And bring me a snack."

I'm on a goddamn diet again, but this time is not as hard. I have been told by Certain People that if I do not manage to show my face at Market this spring there will be Hell To Pay in the form of...well, I don't know what. Asking my advice on something? But anyway, I am expected to go to this thing and presumably they want me to talk to actual human beings. Face to face. Not even through email or Facebook, like normal people. Which means that tons of people who could potentially be investors or otherwise benefactors of our little endeavor are going to look at me and then look at my big belly and go, "Oh, when are you due?" And then I will have to disembowel them with a plastic spork I stole from the room where press people get snacks and it will be very ugly and messy and some fluids that are rather hard to wash out might splash on David Butler and then every woman within a 1000-foot radius will beat the living shit out of me all in the hopes that he might notice them and leave Amy and run off behind a booth with them to have wild quilter groupie sex and then even MORE people will hate me than ever (yes, there are people in the Q-world who hate me AND THEY WILL BE THERE TOO) and I will have to blog from whatever country I can escape to that doesn't extradite. Unless I lose thirty pounds by then. Skinny solves everything. I saw that on Oprah.

But what really sucks is that I had so many plans for this blog earlier this year, and just plans in general that, if they worked out, I would totally share with you, 'cause, you know, we tight. I really wanted to try to do NaNoWriMo this year, because I have plots for at least three books in my head just screaming to get out (one of which is the Great American Satirical Novel - the other two are just silly fluff, which would have been perfect for NaNoWriMo). And though I did start one of them, I didn't get anywhere close to finishing and certainly didn't write every day. I will say though, that in one section, two of the characters have a drinking-and-talking-about-men tradition that they refer to as "Cocktails and Cock Talk." GOD, I need to get back to writing that.

So, I am going to try harder to keep up here, and I hope you don't mind if it makes absolutely no sense because I'll be writing at night when my brain-power is at a minimum.

Over the long, long Thanksgiving break—during which time my husband, who was apparently a bit depressed about work but couldn't manage to actually TELL me about it, kept his head down over his iPad as much as possible so as not to actually interact with his wife and children (not that I'm bitter)—I did manage to do some sewing. I have somehow produced children who, when I am sitting at the computer, absolutely must have my full attention all the time or must do something on said computer or they will JUST DIE. But these same children, when I am sitting at the sewing machine, will play happily on their own for hours. This is why, when they are home, I get absolutely no writing done, but lots and lots of sewing. So, I finished this:

Made the backing, stippled the living shit out of it, and bound it. All ready for a very sweet baby girl up in NYC who was just born a couple weeks ago.

I've also been playing with my new Quilt Pro software and trying to design blocks and quilts, but it turns out I pretty much suck at that. I keep creating blocks that are next to impossible or require templates (same thing, really). The first one I tried to actually make turned out like this:

Uh, oops. I posted it on Facebook and was promptly informed that setting in a square like that would be SO EASY with partial seams or something, but I had just conquered y-seams (thanks to this fabulous tutorial from That Crazy Quilty Girl) and the thought of trying yet another magic seam trick made my noggin all achy. So then I turned my block into a rectangle and that solved the problem but my seams were awful and I ended up using the block I made to scrub the toilet. Still, it was adventurous and now I know that I should probably not design anything ever, lest I create some sort of fabric singularity by accident and suck the world into a black hole.

 It could happen. I saw it on Oprah.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh, Thank Cuteness 2: Electric Boogaloo

We are having a week dedicated to showing off the cuteness in our lives over at GenQ (this is the first post and today's post is mine) and we are hoping other bloggers will participate (scroll to the bottom of the first post to add your link if you want to participate), so naturally I am compelled to add my own blog to the mix.

I don't have much more to add, but I do need to brag a bit. We had Harper's parent-teacher conference this evening, and when David and I walked out of there we were high fiving and doing chest bumps all the way to the car. It's pretty great when your kid's teacher says, "I absolutely adore that child and one day she won't come home because I'm going to just scoop her up and bring her home to live with me." It's even better when she proceeds to tell you that your kid is basically brilliant. She described her as hard-working, conscientious, focused, good-natured, kind, and sweet. She said that every kid in the class has a hard time not talking when they're not supposed to - except Harper. She showed us a new reading comprehension test that the class took, and which she says was new and turned out to be too hard for second grade, because scores on that test went down all over the school system this year. Except Harper aced it.

Now, I know my kid is freaking awesome. I've always known it. But knowing that her teachers are seeing it too just makes my heart swell with pride.

I can only imagine what it will be like when Devon starts school. Have I mentioned that one day, when that child was, like, three and a half, she just picked up a book and read it to me? And just like that, we discovered she could read. She is ambidextrous and will sometimes draw the same picture on two different pieces of paper with each hand at the same time. Or sometimes she'll do mirror writing. Frankly, it's kind of scary what David and I managed to produce in these kids.

I tried to come up with something funny to say today, but I just can't do it. Not that they aren't hilarious, but right now I can't get past my pride in these two.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Askhat. Askhole. Ask Blaster.

(Please also note there is a new humor piece up at GenQ: My New Fabric Line.)

What the hell has gotten into you people? In the last few weeks my email inbox has been inundated with letters from readers asking my advice about stuff. Did you all get together and say, "Let's all do the one thing that will drive Megan completely off the deep end"? What on earth makes you think I know anything? About anything? I write humor, for Chrissakes; I can barely dress myself. I went to a liberal arts college. I studied ancient Greek and Euclidean geometry. I didn't learn any marketable life skills. Do you remember when my car was apparently dying and I finally took it to the mechanic and the only problem was that I hadn't changed my oil in SEVERAL YEARS? This is who you're dealing with. Why do you think I know anything?

Now if you had been asking things like, "How can I, too, become a marginally successful humor writer, particularly in a very, very small niche such as quilting or perhaps locksmithing?" Or, "I am tired of having friends and an active social life. How can I, too, become a sad and lonely semi-hermit?" THEN I could see why you might come to me to help solve your problems. Not that I could answer those either, but at least I could understand why you would be asking.

Now truly, I am flattered that you would think so highly of me as to ask my advice on topics I know nothing about, but you have to understand I am completely neurotic about doing things right. If someone asks me a question, I get very worked up and sweaty about coming up with just the right answer. Like if I don't, I'll get a B instead of an A and I'll have to have a little talk with my parents about why I'm trying to ruin my chances of getting into law school. I actually lose sleep over it. So when I do answer, I probably come off sounding really cranky because beneath it all there is the subtext, "Why do I have to doooooo thiiiiis? I'm 42. I don't wanna go to law school. I wanna dye my hair purple and get a tattoo."

So, if this is going to be a thing now, then goddammit we're going to have some fun with it. I will start a new monthly feature here called "The Ask Master." You submit your questions about anything at all—car repair, cooking, travel, work, sex, marriage, quilting, the Japanese economy, ANYTHING—and I will reprint your questions here (anonymously of course) and answer them. Will I answer them seriously? TAKE A WILD GUESS. If we have enough fun with it, I may make it into its own website.

Send your questions to I look forward to serving you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Make A Statement

Note: I sat on this piece for months because I was, frankly, scared of how it would be received. This is NOT intended to make fun of artists, art quilters, or the work of Kathy Nida. This piece is what I imagine those who find the work of artists like Nida offensive think when they imagine what an art quilter does. I have a very low tolerance for those who are immediately and automatically offended by depictions of the human body. I also have a low tolerance for those who dismiss or denigrate art because it makes them uncomfortable, and for those who assume that an artist is just tossing off shocking things to get attention. I suppose the point would have been more easily made had I written this from the perspective of one of those people, but that was not as interesting as trying to do it this way. 

I took a risk by posting this. I have probably failed in what I was trying to express. But lately I've been reading another humorist who often has the same problem, and he keeps going anyway, so I guess I will too.

And just so you know, I DO know the difference between the vagina and the vulva. However, for the purposes of this piece, it was better—and, I admit, funnier—to use "vagina." Despite the inaccuracy, in the common vernacular, most people tend to use the term "vagina" as an all-inclusive term for female gentialia, inner and outer. Therefore, to me it made more sense to use "vagina." It was a conscious choice, not a mistake.

 Sure, you may be the prince of patchwork and the queen of free-motion quilting, but if you’re starting to feel that unmistakable sense of ennui after finishing your latest quilt then you need to break free from your bias bindings and start experimenting in the world of art quilts! Anybody can whip out a nice soft blankie to snuggle up under, but you can’t be satisfied with mere comfort quilts. No, you need to make a statement, and despite what your mom says, you can indeed make a statement through quilting. Here are some statements you might consider making with your first art quilt:

- I have a vagina and I LOVE IT.
- Homelessness is bad, racism is wrong, and this vagina will help you see that.
- Some women living under oppressive regimes have no vaginas.
- Global warming is killing our environment. Plus: vagina!

Don’t be afraid to dive into the art quilt pool even if you have no formal training. Talent and skill are no barriers to the art world, and as you’ll see, you don’t even need a sewing machine to create stunning pieces that will be the talk of your next guild show. And remember, if someone says your quilt is the most offensive thing they’ve ever seen and you should be ashamed of yourself because, for goodness sakes, there are children here—then you’re doing something right!

Here are just a few ways you can shake up your stitchery and topple the patriarchy through art quilting:

- Found object quilting. Get out of your fabric rut and discover new media by rooting through a trash bin or walking through a condemned building. Greasy take-out containers, flattened soda cans, and used syringes will add lots of color and texture to your quilts and wadded up plastic shopping bags make great vaginas!

- Deconstructive quilting. Show your contempt for the trite and mundane by taking a traditional quilt and thrashing the living daylights out of it. Beat it with large rocks. Spit on it. Tromp on it with muddy hiking boots, then give it to an untrained Labrador puppy. Finally, tie it to the bumper of your car and do some doughnuts in the gravel parking lot of a seedy strip club. And when you hang its shredded carcass on the wall, give it a vibrant and thought-provoking title, such as Check Out This Vibrant and Thought-Provoking Vagina.

- Performance quilting. Who says an art quilt has to be a static piece chained to a wall? Bring new life into your art quilts by becoming a part of the art yourself. Stand on a busy street corner (naked, of course) holding a rotary cutter and an uncooked Cornish game hen as a statement about farm subsidies. Or, hanging upside-down inside an abandoned warehouse (naked), chant the lyrics to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” in a deep monotone while waving large quilt blocks in semaphore signals. And, for the ladies, the best part of performance art? Built-in vaginas!

However you decide to make your statement, be prepared to suffer your share of ignorance and intolerance. Most people are frightened of art that challenges and stimulates the mind and it is your responsibility as an artist to show them vaginas anyway. Ignore all those naysayers who claim you’re just being shocking in order to get attention. If all you wanted was attention, you’d be quilting penises instead.