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Reckless Abandon

Oh, wow. It’s been a while. Well, I guess that’s just how it goes. Anyway, here’s my justification: aside from selling books, I’ve been working on making money from my knitting. That’s right, Knits With Carrots is slowly but surely making its way to the necks of people near you. My first design (!) is a little neckwarmer that I’ve made at least 15 of by now (no joke), so that’s been eating up my time like crazy. Pictures soon, and I think I may make it into a pattern to share.

It’s pretty cool designing knit things. I mean, one, it means I can sell it, and two, it makes me all inspired to make more things. And it’s getting cold! So these things I’m going to be making will be accessories galore. I can’t wear knit garments every day — I barely justify wearing my favorite knit socks multiple days in a row — but wearing the same scarf over and over? Totally acceptable.

Ramble ramble, but: one of the best (and totally unanticipated) perks of putting out into the world that I am a Serious and Professional Knitter is that a lot of my friends are saying, “Hi, can I pay you to knit things for me?”, and the answer is pretty much always a “Hell yes!” So I have thigh-high legwarmers on the docket, among other things. Maybe not cost effective, but it feels good to get paid for my labor and to keep my friends’ extremities warm. And have money to pay for hot chocolate while I, you guessed it, knit these freakin’ neckwarmers. Oh wait, let me edit that: these freakin’ now-available-in-a-real-boutique neckwarmers.

Hell yes.

One of my favorite things about living with my partner is listening to him sing in the shower. Oh, the perks of an opera singer boyfriend.

I’m enjoying the stage my friends and I are in right now, as many of us are living with partners/significant others for the first time. There’s something very sweet about how our conversations meander to the silly/charming things our partner does that only we get to see. Granted, some things are more personal and that privacy should be honored; however, I find it so endearing to see a friend look lovingly at his partner and describe that he thinks it’s adorable that she likes weighing all the ingredients when she’s cooking.

I’m learning that it’s so intimate to share a physical space with another human being. It can make for frustration and bewilderment — why the hell do you find it necessary to not put dirty dishes in the sink? — but when I’m willing to check my ego at the door and ask, honestly, why my partner acts the way he acts, there’s usually a good and fascinating reason. In the meantime, I’m choosing to regularly notice when I’m charmed by the closeness of a shared space, and the privilege to see the small, very personal, details of the life of one whom I love very much.

It’s time for some feminist action, brought to you courtesy of the migraine that today gifted me.

All the background you need to know: I work retail. I think, objectively, most people perceive me as a young attractive straight female, regardless of how I see myself or attempt to present myself. I work in a retail environment that heavily emphasizes customer service. I mean, these days, if you’re working independent retail in particular you really need to step up your customer service, because it’s about the only advantage you have over corporate. I encounter a lot of people in the course of my day, many of whom treat me just fine. Now that that’s out of the way…

On a pretty regular basis, I interact with people who do not treat me well. These run the gamut from people who talk on their cell phones while I am helping them, because apparently I am a machine, to people who are rude and weird. These people get me in a twitch, and I move on. What I am unable to get over, however, is dudes who feel like they can make a pass at me while I’m working. This goes beyond mere irritation, and here’s why:

From my understanding, it is only possible to think it’s appropriate to hit on someone when they’re working because you’re operating in a system of privilege where you don’t have to consider your actions. To whit: the people who hit on me are a male, and straight males, which means they unilaterally benefit from the heteropatriachy. Add to that the fact that they are socially and economically privileged enough to be hitting up a bookstore and probably white because of the demographic in the place I live. In most, if not every, aspect of their lives, they are the beneficiary of multiple systems of privilege, which means their way of being is constantly affirmed, they rarely feel unsafe or disempowered, and I imagine there’s a sense of entitlement that comes along with these things. This is probably why they feel that it’s ok to sidle up to me when I’m doing my job and assert their interest in me.

Now, granted, I’m benefitting from the intersection of many systems of privilege as well: I’ve got enough money to get by and the upper-middle-class background to fake my way along, I’m attractive, for all intents and purposes I am assumed to be straight, I’m white, I am intelligent, et cetera. I try to be as conscientious as possible about the ways in which I benefit from being on the affirmed end of these systems of privilege; I find it important to own up to them. In this situation, however, I am disempowered in two very important ways: I am female, and I am working.

I’m finding that customer service work intersects with gender in interesting ways, and that as a female in customer service there are expectations of the ways in which I will be accommodating: smile politely when older men flirt with me a little bit or tell vaguely sexist jokes, put up with customers thinking I don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m a young female, not call a customer out on your heteronormative sexist bullshit when they decide I’m a convenient object for ranting about ladies not dressing like ladies, or complement me on my appearance.

It’s a long list, and while I know my male coworkers have to deal with a lot of bullshit at work too, I find myself resentful that they rarely — if ever — find themselves interpellated as romantic or sexual objects. It is infuriating to feel unsafe when I’m doing my job because a creepy dude may or may not be staring at me, and furthermore feel that I’m not entitled to call him out on it until it gets really unsafe because I need to provide stellar customer service. It drives me crazy that some dude can waltz into the store and assume that, because I’m doing “nothing” (oh, wait, I’m putting merchandise away, but that’s okay, I can make small talk with you) it’s okay to make a pass at me.

Because here’s the deal: when I’m working, I’m not free to respond to you as I like. If you feel like you’re entitled to invade my personal space and touch my shoulder, I have to tactfully evade it instead of telling you to get the hell away from me. If you get flirty, or ask for my number, or tell me I’m pretty, guess what? We’re not on equal ground right now, because you’re the customer, and my polite response does not mean that I’m “shy.” It means that I’m working. And not being able to respond in a way that affirms my personhood and refuses who you want me to be for you? That’s the shit that sends me home with a migraine, because I’m waffling between defending myself and making sure that our store makes enough money, and I end up clenching my jaw and avoiding you — in my place of work! — until you leave. And I am lucky enough to work somewhere that places the safety of its employees first.

I am only starting to become aware of the kinds of privilege and disempowerment that are at work in customer service situations, and how blatantly ignorant most people are to them. I would love input on this, because it drives me up a fucking wall and I can’t be the only one. In fact, I know I’m not the only one. Because it’s not just me, and it’s not just one dude. It’s a system.

In honor of two of my favorite people moving in together and to the City, I made a little Golden Gate Bridge for their going-away party.

golden-gate-bridge-paper

Fog not sold separately.

I’m back! And with good reason. Remember that crochet potholder swap I mentioned a while ago? I got my act together and made five potholders to send out. Check it out:

potholders-crochet

Mmmm, crochet-y goodness. I waffled between a bunch of different patterns, wanting to show off my crochet skillz, and finally settled to play with color instead of pattern. I grabbed myself about ten colors of mercerized cotton — cool colors, how predictable am I? — and made double-sided potholders. All double crochet, all different stripe patterns with complementary sides.

Behold:

crochet-potholders-side-one

Side One

Side Two

Side Two

I had a lot of fun figuring out a new stripe pattern for each side. They’re basic circles crocheted together around the edges, but also with a secret perk: I started the second side from the same center circle of the first, so they’re held together in the middle. I figured I didn’t want two layers of cotton slipping across each other when there’s a hot pan involved.

I sent my babies in the mail last week, and can’t wait until my swaps arrive! I’ve had a lot of fun checking out the new completed potholders every day (potholderswap.blogspot.com if you’re curious). I’ve also been enjoying making some potholders to keep with the leftover yarn — inspired by patterns others used, of course.

Hello friends,

Please check out this story and others like it online: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10217715-93.html
Twitter’s #amazonfail is also worth checking out.

Long story short, it appears that Amazon has created a filtering system for “adult titles” that effectively pulls them from sales results listed on their website, as well as removing many of them from search results. Unfortunately, many of these books that have been found too “objectionable” to receive visibility are largely queer-focused. Lists abound, but titles like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Ellen Degeneres’s biography and Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain have been deemed objectionable, while books with explicit heterosexual content and other gems like The Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality and Mein Kampf maintain their rank and searchability. (fuller list here: http://jezebel.com/5209088/why-is-amazon-removing-the-sales-rankings-from-gay-lesbian-books)

Amazon claims this is a technological glitch while owning up to its adult filtering system. I’m all for protecting the kidlets, but from what? This sounds like straight-up censorship to me. Books that are visible are books that sell (NYT bestseller list anyone?); things that sell continue to get published. Hide all the “problematic” books and sooner or later, no one’s going to be willing to publish them (save small presses, which rarely get face time anywhere other than independent bookstores).

I won’t stay on my soapbox for long, but I have to say that, for me, this further drives home the importance of independent booksellers — if Amazon becomes the singular source of books, it also becomes the singular source of an important form of knowledge. Independent booksellers are committed to selling books from marginalized authors, topics, presses, what have you, because they understand that there’s a bigger issue at stake. Books are not just objects, and we get into dangerous territory when we forget that they are capable of transmitting knowledge and structuring the way we relate to our world (this goes for fiction as well as non-fiction!).

Anyway, read, and if you find it as repulsive as I do, please forward widely. Oh yeah, and let Amazon know that this is unacceptable.

I’m hopeful for a media field day with this one.

ETA: It appears that this may be the result of hacking or an outside party. The fact remains that there is a function on Amazon for removing “objectionable” content, and that the books being removed were not checked. It seems like the next few days will hopefully reveal what “really” happened; I’m hoping it stimulates conversation about the problems of trusting large sprawling corporations with our knowledge distribution practices…

Happy Easter!

decorate-easter-cookies

I wish I could claim responsibility for this one!

I wish I could claim responsibility for this one!

octopus-easter-cookie

Definitely the boyfriend's work

Definitely the boyfriend's work

And, as a special Easter bonus, cute dogs getting excited about Easter cookie decorating! Or, really, excited about the boyfriend’s hands:

cute-dogs-playing

Hope everyone had a good weekend. I myself love any holiday that mandates brunch AND decorating food.

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