That time I wrote a biography

We’re going to try something a little different today.

 

The Trials and Tribulations of the elusive Miss Jean Louis

 

In west Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days – wait, no, that’s not right. Let me try that again.

Miss Jean Louis, of 17 Seacrette Place was proud to say that she was perfectly normal, thank you very much. No, hmm, that’s not right either.

Ah!

Miss Jean Louis was born in 1873 in a small dairy farm in Northern Ireland. She spent her childhood racing through paddocks, chasing horses, milking cows and forever oggling Patrick, the wee boy in the next farm over.

Her family put her to work as a milk maid in the family homestead. Long, dark mornings of early starts, walking through the crisp, Irish grass to see Betsy the cow grew weary over time. Her boots became slack, her eyes drooped, milkmaiding life was not for her. The only perk of her day was hauling the great, heavy milk buckets to the top of the hill and seeing young Patrick tending to the horses in the distance. Every morning she waved, sometimes he would even wave back.

Over time, she became well acquainted with playing the fiddle, and began to spend some evenings playing in a local band in a nearby alehouse. Her family disapproved of this profession, but Miss Jean Louis was persistent in her dreams. Sometimes she would even get a free ale! She had always hoped to see Patrick there, where they could finally meet and perhaps even share one of these dusty ales.

One evening as she was playing to a crowd of a lonely few, she saw a whisp of a tan coat. Not like any coat she had seen before, no sir. She looked around but saw no one. Suddenly, there was a bright light and piercing noise. She tried to shield herself but it was no use. Just as quickly as it arrived, it was gone. She cautiously opened her eyes. Before her stood a sincere looking man in a large overcoat and a blue tie. Before she could say anything, he began to speak.

“Miss Jean Louis, I need you here now.” He said gruffly.

“Where, what-?” Her accent had changed, she clapped a hand over her mouth.

“There’s no time to explain. I need your help.”

“I need you to look at all of these photographs of a string quartet in a dentist office and tell me which are the best ones.”

“What’s a dentist office? And why do these photographs have so much colour, and-” Miss Jean Louis did not get to finish her thought. The strange man sighed, like this was all a large inconvenience to his day, and placed a hand on her forehead. Again she felt a large burning light, her brain ached, her ears rang. Suddenly it stopped.

She knew everything.

She knew the year was 2016. She knew that she had to organise and rate photos for GISHWHES, she knew that the actor standing before her had difficulties separating his real life and his character, and she knew that she was never going back to Ireland.

In fact, she could barely remember it at all. It was a distant memory.  When she tries, there is nothing but a fading glance of a boy over the hill.

 

Now, Miss Jean Louis continues to work with the strange, coated man, better known as Misha Collins and continues to try to wrangle him into sensibility throughout the season of GISHWHES, every year.

That time I tried arm knitting a blanket

Given that I am outrageously uncoordinated and hate fiddly stuff that involves blistering my hands into oblivion, arm knitting sounded like a pretty great idea. And no one else I knew was doing it, so I thought maybe this would be my thing.

I thought that the giant arm knit scarf was dumb, especially on my curvy body. Quite frankly, I don’t need any more bulk hanging around my chest and face. So after a bit of a look around I saw this totally badass looking blanket that looked like a giant had made it.

from: simplemaggie.com

As if this isn’t the coolest thing you’ve ever seen.

     I liked that this was something that most regular craft losers make, but this was a fun, new spin on it. So I found myself a tutorial and away I went.

I used this tutorial from simplemaggie.com and bought about 9 balls of wool (or “yarn”, whatever) just to play it safe. Simple Maggie’s tutorials were great, and she is super adorable to watch.

But she is a filthy liar.

My “one hour blanket” took me eight hours. I’m pretty sure it took me an hour just to figure out how the fuck to “cast on” to my damn fingers. That shit was confusing. Luckily for me, she made an “arm knit blanket in 45 minutes” tutorial with the above pictured wool (this was also a filthy lie) but her instructions for casting were much better and eventually, I managed to work out what the fuck I was doing. I did the technique from the first video of using three, fairly thick wool strings together to make some kind of super string.

Given that I was making a blanket and knew damn well that there was no way in hell that this would take just one simple hour of my time (a time comparison I felt was similar to ‘get abs in a week in just 5 easy steps!’), I dehydrated myself to hell (not that I’d recommend this) so I wouldn’t need to get up and piss through a half finished blanket. Once you start an arm knitting project, you’re in it until you’re finished, so I had to make sure that I didn’t have anywhere to be. And asking my boyfriend to hold my wool blanket arms while I tried to pee just wasn’t a level of my relationship I was willing to reach for such a project.

So once I manage to rig it all up and was ready to go, I got started. I had some issues wedging it onto my arm, but I figured if I just kept it equally loose, it’d be okay. Apparently people make it too tight (I’m guessing near the wrist where the arm gets smaller, if anatomy books have taught me anything) and it looks all wonky, and I knew I was going to have enough problems so I tried to avoid that.
Once I started doing the stitch, it was actually pretty easy to get a hang of. And it took me days to get crochet down, so I was pretty impressed with that component. You just pulled off a “stitch” from your arm, picked up the hanging (or “working”) wool through the loop, turned it half way so the bottom was crossed to kinda seal it, them slam that shit onto your other arm. Rinse and repeat.

The tutorial said to do something like 26 stitches across, or 26 down. I can’t remember. I just did however many the fuck I wanted. Do as many as you like going down to lengthen the blanket. I did enough so that it would lay over my queen sized bed with some overhang, for extra fancy points.

After about five hours, I started to get tired, hungry, and wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to leave the couch again.

armknitting This is life now.

Eventually, I got the shits and with Boyfriend’s help, managed to slowly push it off of my arms and onto a stick for next time. I then got in trouble from him because it took up too much space in his room, but that was his problem and not mine.
The following day, I wedged it all back onto my arm to finish the excruciating project.

All up, I just made it to nine balls of wool (remember that I used three strands for “one string”). Each ball (or skin, skiev? Sikh? Stein? One of those words) was 90m long. So basically, this took more wool than I can run.

So here is the finished project.

armblanket_fin This blanket serves zero purpose

Actually, that’s kind of a lie. This is actually folded in half so that it looks thicker. It ended up looking for more netted (which I was somewhat expecting) that I’d like and looked more like something someone’s grandma made you, than a cool kind of decorative blanket from a trendy homewares store.

It definitely looks more like the one from the first video with the three strands, for obvious reasons. Doubled up, its actually still pretty warm, despite being super netted and holy, but I guess that’s what half a kilometre of wool will do. It does however, make a super insufficient cape.

I think I’ll probably give this one another go if I can find wool thick enough. The one that Simple Maggie uses in the second tutorial is often out of stock and you need at least 12 of them. And I’m just not sure I’m willing to pay a good $90 worth of yarn at this stage. The doubling up on pretty thick wool is okay, but I just wasn’t into the whole netted look. It’s kinda balls that you can’t just buy super, super thick yarn everywhere.

It was a great tutorial by Simple Maggie and I’d definitely recommend hers if you are interested in doing this monstrosity of a project. After the fiasco of “casting on” wool to your arms, it is actually quite easy. Not to mention you get basically a thousand times the results for the time you spend on it versus crocheting a scarf or some shit. So that part was also rewarding, because I’m impatient.

I would recommend this if you hate most crafts, but want to do something in a (comparatively) short amount of time. It also forces you to commit to the end, which is great if you like to ragequit things, like me.

Until next time, stay cussy!

-M

That time I ruined Valentine’s Day

Despite my rage fueled, sporadic creativity, I am a huge fan of love.

Hard to believe, given my high level of profanity and general disdain for “girly” craft bullshit, but love is something I’ve worn on my store bought sleeve all my life. I have a long history of waiting patiently at letterboxes for red envelopes on Valentine’s Day (only to be sorely disappointed year after year, but let’s spare the sob fest) and for once, in 2013, I actually. Had. A. Valentine.

This, I thought, was going to be the greatest day of my life, the Valentine’s Day to end all Valentine’s days! I was going to pull out all the stops – baking, some craft shit, slap on a bit o’ face and a fancy dress and love will conquer all!

Excited? Absolutely.
Ambitious? Definitely.
Did love conquer after all? Absolutely not.

The grand plan was to bake some cookies and store them in cute little boxes that I would make myself, and then wrap a present in some fancy ass way that made regular paper look like it had some work done. This was all during a (very) brief moment in my life where I thought that paper craft was going to be my thang.
I began with some super cute printables I found on http://www.fun.kyti.me – a kickass site with all kinds of DIY junk that seemed achievable. I also used Paint to erase the word “love” and replace it with “food” because quite frankly, they’re synonyms.

dteWhy yes, I am Down to Eat.

So after my 1337 photoshopping skillz, I thought, “how hard can it be to cut and paste some shit together?”

Hard. It turns out it’s hard.

My first rookie mistake was printing this on regular paper. Clearly, this needed to printed on light cardboard or some shit that was much more reliable for a sturdy, cookie holding structure. Evidently, I also needed to use some kind of stencil knife. I’m sure there’s some craft word for this at four times the price, but I don’t really know or care what it is. Instead I improvised with a shrug and used my bulky kitchen scissors. This meant that I either cut too much or not enough of the fiddly corners that all fold up, giving me a wonky ass base and ill-matching corners. Although that can also be attributed to my weak folding skills.
But you know what else is balls about papercraft that no one ever tells you about? How the fuck you are supposed to stick down corners, inside the box once it is already made. Sure, let me just ram my man-hands, wielding a giant glue stick into this fragile paper box and hope it doesn’t explode on impact from my comparatively, obese hands.

Anyway, so this is how that turned out.

vdaybox I also stapled them, because I’m a class act.

   Not only is this extremely poor craftsmanship, the cookies clearly do not fit or are yielded in these tiny, useless boxes. I mean, just look at this thing. This box couldn’t even hold a conversation.

vdaybox2 “I literally cannot even contain myself.”

As you can see, it actually caved in from being too damn weak to support itself. But you try using regular paper and gluing in corners that feel like some sort of paper mache time bomb and just see how well that turns out for you.I used the cookies to pop out the concave sides, so no one would ever know how bad I am at structures.

Side note, no one let me build their house.

I continued along my paper journey by buying a solid colour paper with the intention of cutting hearts from them. At this stage I did learn to use a stanley knife, but I only had some man-shed looking device which made accuracy difficult. The paper, again, was too limp and useless to be practical, so half of it got torn when I was folding the pieces back. The idea is to cut half a shape of a heart and fold back the rest for three-dimensional looking wrapping paper.
Fancy.
This generally only works if what you are wrapping is in a plain box, given the cut out hearts reveal a lot of what is underneath. Suffice to say, I would not recommend this method if you are gift wrapping something that has “The Great American Dong” written in large letters across the packet. Try not to slice the box or present as you do this, no one wants a dong with chunks cut out of it.
This turned out alright, but there were times when the paper tore open when I’d fold the half heart back. Apparently I also forgot what a heart looks like half the time.

vdaywrap Not sure if those are hearts, or ducks shouting at me.

Moving on from the atrocity that is my not so dexterous hands and flaccid paper, it turns out that baking is no great feat of mine either. Are you really that surprised?
I used a chocolate chip cookie dough mix by Aunty Kathy, because quite frankly, if I can cut corners, I will. For extra romance points, I decided to shape them into “X”s and “O”s. Because love.
Now I am fully aware that stuff likes to expand and puff up in the oven, so I made sure that I stretched the dough thinly and made the O’s rounder than I’d like.

Because my oven is a righteous dick, it decided to go ahead and fuck up my cookies anyway. I pulled out obese little kisses and hugs that looked like they had eaten enough cookies of their own.
In an attempt to highlight what shapes I was supposed to be making, I decided that I would fancy that shit up with some icing. I know nothing about icing, so I trolled my cake isle at the grocery store, staring at all kinds of cake materials. I found some cool looking “ready to squirt” icing that, bonus, was white chocolate flavour!

“I can’t fail. This will be amazing.” I thought, chuffed with my corner cutting purchase.
That shit was delicious, so after I wasted half of it in my mouth, I got to work on the cookies. I managed to have a fairly steady hand (about as steady as a housewife’s handwriting while she’s sitting on a dryer), I thought that everything was going to be fine.
But here’s the thing.
That kind of cake icing just doesn’t go hard. Ever. It’s a gooey mess that was forever plastered on rump of these poor cookie’s backs. Delicious, sure, but extremely impractical.

“This is fine,” I thought. “Maybe, I’ll just put them in their little boxes, carefully stacked and they’ll all get eaten before anyone notices that this icing shit gets everywhere.” As if this couldn’t get any worse, I made a fatal baking paper error and spilled a good two thirds of said cookies all over the kitchen floor.

Fuck.

So, I did what any regular person would do.

I blew off all the dog hair and dirt that I could and left the filthy ones on a plate for my dad. I picked up the ones that looked half decent and stacked them in the box, vowing never to mention the incident again.

floorcookies The secret ingredient is dog shit particles.

I was, however, prompted to spill my guts when my boyfriend stated “I think I have hair in my mouth” upon eating said cookie, extracting a white puppy hair from his teeth. I have now been banned from baking since what is now called, the “floor cookie incident”.

Probably a good thing, really.

Stay cussy,

-M

That time I tried to draw.

I’ve spent five years in total in art school at university and I still can’t fucking draw.

Whenever people find out I went to art school, their eyes get foggy and they thirstily glare at me saying “you must be such a good drawer!”
“No.”
“Painter?”
“No.”
“… Sculpter?”
*sigh* “…No.”

To be fair, I pursued photography and film. Mostly so I could avoid doing any kind of medium that required a physical skill with my hands. Or face. Artists are weird.

I tried to do some doodling, hoping that my inner genius would finally reveal itself. So I thought about my dog, passion drives talents right? Right?!

tacodrawing “I’m here to haunt your dreams.”

Okay, so let’s just talk about this for a second. My dog legitimately has big ears, she’s a papillon. But not quite so big that she could crawl inside herself. I also have zero shading so this is an awful, fuzzy, two dimensional drawing that you would see in maybe, in the back of a fourth grader’s geology book. And one ear is dramatically bigger than the other. Is she listening for something? Getting sucked into a vacuum? We’ll never know. I tried to do that fuzzy thing that people often do when they draw (a pet hate of mine from primary school – if you can’t draw it right in one line, then why are we even friends?!) but instead it looks like my dear dog has been electrocuted, the emotions have vacated from her penned, little eyes.

Depressing.

A second effort at drawing, easily one of my most hated crafts of all, shows a bit more skill. Okay, maybe not skill, perhaps more intuition. Okay, fine. More lines. I drew in more lines. Are you happy now? Let me have this, fuck.

I looked over at the bed and saw my boyfriend sprawled out on it and decided that this was it, this was my time to draw!

This is basically how it went.

Okay, surprisingly not that bad. I managed to do, what I would call, an improved drawing regarding the pants region. Shockingly, I’m actually not talking about his wiener, but the shading or lines that are created on pants when they are moved around. I remember reading (or being told in class, whatever) once to “draw what you see, not what you know.” It’s why people always draw noses weirdly because they draw what they think a nose looks like, rather than the shades of colour and shadow they see on the face. I tried to incorporate this… At first.
After I was able to draw my arty looking pants, I tried to throw in some depth of field. Boom! How about them motherfuckin’ apples! Unfortunately, this is about where my average work ended and my terrible work began.

Instead of a studly looking portrait of my most handsome boyfriend, I ended up with what looked like Fred Flinstone melting off a wall, laughing manically after what is likely, some kind of post-homicidal euphoria.

terrydrawing Ladies.

In case it wasn’t bleedingly obvious, I started with the pants which look pretty damn good, as far as drawings from me go! Until you look at his mangled broken, backwards foot. Moving on up to the shirt, this is where I started to give up. I couldn’t work out how depth perception works on a shirt and gave him a concrete block chest instead. His arm is not casually hanging behind the bed, but instead looks like it has snapped backwards. As a result, his two dimensional face is split into manic hysteria, probably from adrenalin from all the broken body parts and his neck has just disappeared entirely, because perception.

I would be terrified if this was my actual boyfriend. I can’t tell if he looks like a douchebag or a homicidal, no necked, rubber man. Not that I have a preference.

It is sad that this is the best drawing I’ve ever done.

Now you fuckers know why I don’t draw.

Stay cussy,
-M

P.S. I feel like I just didn’t need to explain why the paper says “phallecy.”

That time I learned crochet

So I have this group of crafty friends who are great at everything they do, but a particular group favourite is crochet. Watching them sipping tea accompanied with their mountains of yarn gives me ‘Nam flashbacks of trying to learn knitting as a nine year old.

Despite this, for a year or so I’ve waved off their futile efforts, saying “yeah yeah, I’ll try it one day”. So, I was getting ready to leave my friends place before this craft hell began, I made the mistake of sitting near a pile of yarn. It was swiftly handed to me, along with a book. I still had my bag on, so I figured I couldn’t get sucked into anything too serious when I began perusing pages of various stitches and witches (okay, maybe just stitches, but I don’t know what kind of book this really is).

WP_20150112_18_33_59_Pro What the shit is this.

I’m not too sure what exactly happened next, I assume one of them blanked my memory with some kind of blood sacrifice as I had basically walked into a fluffy, woolen cult. The needle thing I was given is apparently called a “hook” or some shit. It looked like something you would use to clean those hard to reach areas in your ears. Maybe they’re for picking wooly filth out of your nails, or jamming in a filling, I don’t know what really goes on here.

hooks… Yes.

The cult leader began asking me questions.

“Do you know how to do a slipknot?”
“Unless it involves masking up and headbanging, then not really.” I replied. She made one for me and started to give me instructions.

Not how you start crochet.
But they could be row numbers, how am I supposed to know.

She tried pointing at pictures on how to start but it just looked like squiggles, especially as I just don’t understand diagrams of depth perception. I couldn’t tell what went where, what was behind, what was through.. I tried just mooshing it together but that didn’t seem to work.
see And here is how you begin a foundation stitch.
WHY DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND ME?!

I kept pulling at the stupid white yarn but it just wasn’t getting any easier. I also swiftly learned that crochet involves far too much innuendo than I like to imagine older ladies chortling at over scones.
“Always go from behind”
“That’s too tight”
“Sometimes you’ve just gotta push it in there”
“Turn it around and go through”

Crochet advice, or marriage advice? You decide.

After about ten grueling minutes, I had made what looked like a headless sperm.  What an achievement.

I finally started to get on a bit of a roll, despite my thumb feeling like the bone was going to fling out from being jabbed with a wool stick. I didn’t really know what to do, so I just sort of kept going for a while. Once I had made a mighty fine string, I figured I should thicken this bad boy up.
As it turns out, going back the way you came is about five times harder and feels like the biggest waste of time. I had apparently made my first line too tight so I couldn’t wedge the stupid stick in properly. Apparently there’s even a certain direction you need to jab it in, but it becomes this weird cube, how am I supposed to know where the goddamn front is?!

Turns out I am not so good at winging it.

thefuckhappenedhereCrochet never lets you forget your mistakes. Never.

Anyways, after I did some blotchy cubing I decided that this was balls and I was ready to pack it in.
“WAIT! You need a stitch saver!”
A what now?

So there’s a fancy paperclip that you also need to stop your life’s work from unraveling itself, making your day pointless.

stitchsaver “I’m all that stands between you and your tears unraveling. That will be forty nine dollars.”

After I spent a thousand hours going back the way I came and seemingly making no progress, I defiantly quit. Crochet lowers you into a false sense of security. You eventually get a rhythm happening until you have go back the way you came and it ruins your life forever. Perhaps if I ever try this damn thing again, I’ll try making a thing so I feel like I actually accomplished something. Perhaps that will make it more enjoyable, rather than spending hours creating a deluxe tampon string. That’s exactly what breaking my fingers all day accomplished, a fancy string.

WP_20150112_20_31_11_Pro I’m fancy.

I feel like all I accomplished today was getting a lot of swearing out of my system and World of Warcraft amount of RSI in my fingers and neck.
This was the worst.

Until I work up the courage to make a thing, I will put down my weird hook stick and move on to another monotonous craft. Hopefully I won’t have any crochet PTSD flashbacks next time I’m at the dentist.

dental-pick-0“Say ‘yaaaaarn!'”
“AHHHHHHH!!!”

Stay cussy,

-M

New Year Desolutions

So, here I am. You found me.

…Condolences.

You know how everyone has that one thing that they’re great at? That one cool thing they’re better at than anyone else, that comes to them so effortlessly with such passion and joy?
Well I, most definitely, do not have one of those.

I have failed at almost everything I have ever tried at in my life. My biggest sporting achievement was coming second last in a race when I was seven years old. I felt like a gladiator.

As such, this year like every year, I promised myself that I will find a hobby that I enjoy and that I will be good at. Now don’t get me wrong, I am very aware that some people have a knack for things and others work hard to get just as good. But I am someone who lacks skill and dedication of any kind. Unless it’s to some kind of netflix marathon. That I can get behind.

The struggle is real.

As well as being a chronic failure at activities, I’m the odd one out of my group of friends when it comes to “craft nights”. I either avoid them entirely, or drink heavily to avoid awkward crafty conversations (craft beer is a kind of craft, right? Right). Besides endearingly jeering at them about how they indulge in old lady activities, I do crave having a hobby, besides my love of television and snacks.

I mistakenly mentioned this to them and before I knew it, I was sat down and given a crochet needle.

Oh GOD.

More on that evening later. Before I knew it, I was doing a thing. And I was failing at it quite spectacularly.

I reflected back on some DIY posts I have read in the past and grumbled to myself about how they always produce flawless results with minimal effort. As I began to swear at the remains of a bad haircut from a sheep that was pulled tightly around a needle that looked like it was made for cleaning out ears or fingernails, I thought to myself “people need to see just how not easy this shit is”.

After a few discussions with some other not so creative types, I took solace in the fact that I am not alone in feeling like a failure when trying to make a “simple DIY” doodad from the internet. Humanising failure not only makes us feel better about our own abilities, but allows us to poke fun at the need for perfection. It encourages us to having a go, no matter how poorly it turns out.
And besides, it means you spent a good few hours of the week creating and focusing your mind rather than hating yourself for binge-watching episodes of your favourite tv show and not showering for three days.

As such, in a pitiful display of being inspired by the season of change (or as I like to call it, January), I hereby declare that I will attempt to create a thing at least once a fortnight.

They will be imperfect, they will be yelled at and potentially thrown or flushed down a toilet, there will be numerous disasters, but dammit, they will be made.
So, if you enjoy seeing someone else suck as much as you do at crafts, continue to enjoy my misdemeanors in creation.

Stay cussy.

-M