Eight Days Later…

Oh my goodness, how have I been away so long? I know I’m pretty new to this whole blogging thing, but I missed it!

Since I last checked in, we’ve closed the dance show at BoCo and we’re going into techs for Thoroughly Modern Millie. During the day I worked at the playground, too, and Ben was up to his eyeballs in finals week, so it’s been crazy busy at the Humanist House. I had a few days off to rest and catch up with housework, and now I’m right back into the swing of things. No playground work this week, but babysitting and rehearsals will keep me busy enough.

As for crafting, I made a Pinterest-inspired skirt from a men’s dress shirt, finished my Owlie socks, made a half-dozen Tiny Baby Bunnies, and started on a super-secret surprise knitting project. And I had the chance to stop by Windsor Button for it’s closing-out sale. They still have plenty of merchandise, and I got the yarn to finish my Amy Pond scarf, make two pairs of the owl mitts featured in Issue 21 of Mollie Makes, and make myself a nifty wrap sweater I’ve been eyeing on Etsy. Pictures of everything will be coming soon!

I’m busy and tired, but I’m also productive, happy, and much-loved by my elementary-age fan club.

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Headlines

Dolphins call each other by name.

Etsy’s Push to Hire Female Engineers

A Portrait of Jesus Will Remain on Display in an Ohio Middle School.

Elizabeth Warren Kicks Ass and Takes Names of Banking Regulators

Really Cute Pajamas from the International Princess Project Help to Restore the Lives of Human Trafficking Survivors.

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Sunday Society Page – Minimum Wage

In his State of the Union address, President Obama brought up the long-overdue idea of raising the minimum wage, and there’s been a TON of debate about it since. There are those who say it’ll cause “job creators” to stop hiring if they have to pay their employees more per hour. I understand where this idea comes from, but I don’t think it’s accurate.

First of all, the wage increase will only apply to minimum wage jobs: those making the current $7.25/hour. No one else is going to get a wage increase, so it’s not going to apply to anyone higher than entry-level. That means it’ll mostly affect service personnel – those who work in retail, food service, gas stations, childcare, or cleaning companies – those who work 40 hours per week and still find themselves at or below poverty level.

The truth is, there are plenty of jobs available. Within four miles of my house, there’s a Joann’s, Starbucks, Panda Express, Stop & Shop, AC Moore, and Sears that have constantly been hiring for the past year, but these are jobs that most people don’t want. And the reason people don’t want them is because of the low pay and hard physical work. Because of uniforms that make you a faceless cog and having your personal items searched after every shift to make sure you aren’t stealing. Because of shift managers who schedule you against your stated availability, forcing you to scramble to trade shifts and wreaking havoc on your life. Because of being spoken to like you’re an idiot day in and day out – because obviously if you were any smarter, you wouldn’t be working HERE.

At the current minimum wage, even if you work an 8 hour shift 365 days per year, you will only make $21,170 per year – before taxes. That presumes you never get sick, snowed in, have car trouble, or take a single day off. This rate reduces hard-working people to subsistence laborers, and that’s just to provide for their own living expenses. Raising a family on that income means that hard decisions will have to be made. Pundits like to complain about parents who aren’t home with their children, don’t take the time to read with and to them, but how on earth is a low-income worker supposed to do those things if they’re pulling double shifts just to pay rent and buy groceries? This is a situation that perpetuates the cycle of poverty, of exhaustion, of hopelessness.

Nobody wants these jobs. People take them because they need them. Because low pay is better than no pay. Because the jobs that are hard to find are the ones that require years of training, education, and experience, and you might not get a lead for just as many years.

We all rely on these people to make our lives work. As individuals, we should be treating hourly workers with respect and dignity in our regular interactions. As a society, we should be able to agree that paying the people we rely on enough to pay their basic bills is only fair. And the vast majority of us do, but I think those who “represent” us in government need to be reminded.

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Back to BoCo!

It’s been a busy few days here! I’m back at Boston Conservatory for the Winter Dance Concert... There are four pieces; two premiers and two reconstructions. My job as Head of Wardrobe is to keep all of the costumes in clean, working order, and to teach my student crew the basics of special-care laundry and backstage protocol.

Wardrobe is a position that often goes overlooked because of the misconception that, well, anyone can do laundry. In truth, anyone can be taught to do laundry, but there are specialized skills that most folks don’t need in their daily life. Many dance pieces and historical garments can’t be washed in a machine at all, but still have to look and smell fresh for each performance. And these days, most modern clothes have at least some synthetic content, making garment care much easier – but it also has the side effect of making most people unaware of how to properly care for a natural-fiber garment.

A lot of working wardrobe is also very personal: you have to get into another person’s space, make sure every garment they wear fits properly and facilitates the actor’s work. You might have to assist with makeup application or securing wigs. You will have to wash undergarments, deal with sweat, and occasionally take a half-eaten cough drop out of the mouth of someone about to walk onstage.

There’s a lot of trust involved, and as always, trust is earned, not demanded. The performers must know without a doubt that their costume will be clean and in full working order each day when they return to work. They must trust that when they come running offstage for a quick change, a quiet, confidant, encouraging wardrobe member will be there to facilitate the change. And they have to know that if they split their inseam, you’ll be ready and armed with safety pins. Like they say, if you’ve done your job right, no one will ever know you were there.

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The cast of Boston Conservatory’s Way of the World.

Embroidery

Since I’ve spent the last few weeks making several Shawshank Samplers and not much else, I figured I’d take a bit of a break and show off my tools.

I’m using a white evenweave 28-count fabric similar to this. I almost always choose it over Aida because I think fabric choice makes all the difference between “art in a fiber medium” and “kitschy craft project.”

I keep a small box of DMC embroidery floss selected from my larger stash, wound on paper bobbins and clearly marked with their numbers. I’m a little obsessive about it, but since I learned hand-stitching in junior high, I’ve had plenty of instances of half-finished projects that are doomed by unidentifiable thread colors.

I keep my favorite vintage teacup nearby to catch my threads, which has been a big help in keeping my living room neat – and is a great use for a piece of kitchenware you’re not 100% sure is food-safe.

I have my Gingher embroidery scissors and a pair of pinking shears for neat fabric edges. I have a bit of Velcro for stripping the embroidery floss (which, honestly, I do consistently when I’m embroidering and not-so-much when I’m working on samplers and cross-stitch).

For my own comfort, I have a compression glove for when my hands get tired and I’m working under a deadline, and my favorite non-greasy hand lotion.

And my favorite tool is my newest acquisition: my lap embroidery frame. Rather than holding an embroidery hoop with one hand and moving your stitching hand above and below the fabric, this frame sits under your leg and holds the fabric for you, so you can actively use both hands. I find it easiest to use my dominant hand under the fabric because it’s easier to find the right spot on the fabric without looking at it. Given how affordable this darn thing is, I can’t believe it’s taken so long for me to get one. It’s drastically changed how quickly and comfortably I can get work done.

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Episode #188: Kid Logic

Just finished listening to This American Life’s episode Kid Logic, which I was really looking forward to because I spend a LOT of my time playing with kids. When I’m not working in theater, I’m babysitting for one of three families (two regularly and one occasionally) or working at Kids’ Fun Stop, an indoor playground in West Roxbury. Most of my Facebook friends are very familiar with Charlie and Alex because I quote all the funny things they say while I’m hanging out with them. Charlie, who’s 3, says the cutest things, and Alex, who’s 7 going on King of the World, asks me all kinds of interesting and challenging questions that I have to think about a lot to answer accurately and age appropriately.

Some of my favorite topics from the boys have been the following:

-Are monsters real or was that just a statue?
-Are you here to make sure no bad guys can get me?
-Who is the smartest person in the whole world? Does everyone know he’s the smartest?
-If the election was such a big deal, how come nothing happened afterwards?
-Why isn’t Michelle Obama the queen?
-Why do grown-ups like to watch the news so much if it makes them sad?
-How do you know that the person you’re dating is the person you should marry?

I tell Alex that he’s allowed to ask me as many questions as he wants, because it’s his job as a kid to learn as much about the world as he possibly can. He tells me he will, because HE is going to be the smartest man in the world and I can say I knew him when he was a kid.

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Headlines

Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper have left the Westboro Baptist Church. I hope to see some good works to back up their fresh starts, and wish them all the luck they need to start over.

Just because I’ve been snowed in doesn’t mean everyone has. Some folks here in Boston made some really awesome Calvin & Hobbes snowmen.

Apparently, Al Capone felt very strongly about the freshness of milk.


Christianity Today
discusses the “logic” behind the false piety of bad tipping.

You still won't live forever, but you can turn into a tree after you die.

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