Why I Started Quilting at 22

Quilting is not a hobby associated with youth. Rather, when one imagines a quilter they often picture a someone closer to retirement than their college graduation. So just why do I now spend my weekends at a quilt class or volunteering at the quilt museum rather than brunching with my friends as so many millennials are known to do? Well, dear friends, there are reasons aplenty.

My Mother

My mother has always been a sewer (sewist?). Growing up she made her own clothes rather than buying them. She made suits for her brothers in exchange for her first car. All of my Halloween costumes growing up were homemade–no store bought allowed. She even crafted the bridesmaids dresses for my sisters wedding! But that love of sewing was never passed on to me or my sister. She tried and tried, but we were stubborn. Whenever I sat down to try sewing a shirt or dress, it always led to frustration. The needle would break. I’d run out of thread. I cut the pattern wrong. Oh how I detested sewing. But a few years ago, my mom started quilting. While there are obviously many similarities between the two crafts, they really are completely different games in so many ways. After my childhood hatred for sewing, I had no plans on following in my  mother’s footsteps at the time, but I adored helping her pick out patterns and fabric. She made me a beautiful quilt that I use every night.

My Hometown’s Resources

While my hometown is small, coming in at around 5,000 people in the last census, we are mighty when it comes to quilting. The famed Marianne Fons of Fons and Porter lives here. We have multiple stores that sell quilter’s cotton and other tools of the trade. We’ve got a quilt guild that has made and donated thousands of quilts to a local children’s hospital’s NICU, makes Quilts of Valor for veterans, and puts on a quilt show every year to show off what they’ve made. Recently an entire museum focused on quilts opened up on our town square. We were even featured in the Iowa issue of Quiltfolk–a serial focused on different states and communities of quilters.

On top of all of that, the quilters here love to teach others. A few teach in their homes, which is how my mom decided to learn. Our quilt store also holds a class almost every month, which is how I’m learning. It’s really handy to learn quilting from a professional quilter who also designs and sells his own patterns (yes his–a male quilter manages the quilt store I go to). Between him and the ladies who take his classes, I’ve learned tons of tips and tricks that I wouldn’t have gotten just from reading a book or quilting on my own. If I do say so myself, it’s helped me get pretty darn good at quilting in just a short amount of time. 

My Mental Health

It’s no secret that I’m not happy with where I’m at in my life right now. My plans were thrown into chaos a few months ago when I decided to put off grad-school and focus on paying off my current student debt before accruing any more. It was the right decision for me, but it was and is still hard. So now I’m job hunting. While job hunting is always difficult, the highs and lows are exacerbated by my depression and anxiety. After a few months of submitting applications and rarely leaving my house, I knew I needed something else to focus on. Since my mom already had all the tools needed and I was so well positioned to learn, I figured I might as well give quilting a go.

Honestly, having these projects has kept me from falling into pits of despair or having frequent anxiety attacks. You see, I tend to be a bit obsessive about things, both my hobbies and my anxieties. It was getting too in my head about this whole job thing. Books and video games, while great distractions, weren’t doing enough for me. I needed something constructive in my life. Quilting fit that description for me.Being able to set goals and achieve them in one area of my life makes it easier to live with so much uncertainty of my job hunt. Plus, being able to wrap up in a blanket is very soothing when you’re anxious. 

The craft has done wonders for my mental health, and I’m not alone. There are lots of articles (like this one) about how crafting (which quilting would be included in) helps your brain. Long story short, it increases your dopamine levels, and dopamine helps you feel relaxed. Crafting also helps fight the effects of aging on the brain. Though I don’t have to worry about that quite yet, it’s fascinating how the activity influences your brain. 

 

Now, if only I could find more millennials interested in quilting so that my community didn’t consist almost solely of women more than twice my age. Don’t get me wrong, I love those ladies, but I crave being able to share this craft with people closer to my own age too.

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Post Graduation Feelings of Failure

I was excited to graduate from college. I’d put in a ton of work and had earned about every form of honors possible. I received university honors for keeping up a high GPA, taking special honors classes, and doing experiential learning. I earned honors in BOTH of my majors by writing an honors thesis that was over seventy pages long. And I was awarded entrance into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s most prestigious honors society due to all the work I’ve done. I felt great; a little sad to leave my friends, but ultimately excited for my future. And then it all fell to shit.

Initially I was all set up to go to grad school this fall. I was planning on attending the #1 school in the country for library science to work on earning masters. Unfortunately I didn’t get funding despite being assured that I most likely would when I accepted my admission (the whole reason I accepted at the time). I applied for so many assistance-ships, but I got nothing. And with tuition + cost of living = over $50,000 a year, I simply couldn’t afford not to have funding. So after a lot of crying, I decided to put off furthering my formal education.

The decision was hard, but I by no means regret it. Getting $100,000+ in debt for a job that really doesn’t pay all that much just didn’t seem like a good idea. On top of that, the current administration is trying abolish the public service loan forgiveness program and hoping to change how taxes work around academic tuition, so it’s about to get even more expensive to get a masters or PhD.

With that decision, I joined all the other college graduates trying to find full-time employment…only I’m a few months later to the party than they were. In theory, I feel like I’m a great hire. I clearly learn well, and I’ve been working since I was sixteen. Plus I’m personable, dedicated, and creative.

I wasn’t surprised to get my first few job application rejections. Rarely do people  find their first professional job right away. But as the months have gone on and my (metaphorical) stack of rejection emails has grown taller, I’m losing heart. I know, I know–this all takes time. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to be continually turned down for jobs. The sting is even stronger when the posting didn’t require any experience or even a college degree. It’s hard every time not to ask, “what’s wrong with me?”

Logically I know it’s not just about me. You and the employer have to mesh. Maybe someone else just has more experience. Maybe the timing isn’t right. Who knows? It could be anything on an endless list of reasons. I know that. But, friends, I’m tired. I’m so ready to be done job hunting. I’m ready to leave my temp-job where I answer phones all day and get yelled at about things I can’t change. I’m excited for my minimum student loan payments not to take half of my month’s income anymore. I want certainty.

All of this rejection and uncertainty has often led me to feel like a total failure; like going to college, working, and all the extra things I did weren’t worth it. Again, I know that’s not true, but those evil little monsters in my head sure do try hard to make me believe it. For someone who was so successful and ambitious in the world of academia, not being able to translate my skills and experience into the professional realm is bringing a lot of internalized shame that I need to deal with.

In the mean time, I’m working on reevaluating what I want my  life to look like–what I need in my life to be happy and what is a bit more flexible. Maybe I need to be a bit more creative in my job search. Maybe I shouldn’t limit myself to my rural state of Iowa. I don’t know, but I’m ready to know what’s next.

Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne

When it comes to Dragon Age, Bioware’s fantasy RPG franchise, I’m a bit, well…obsessed. I’m late to the fandom, having only started playing the games about 8 months ago, but I have immersed myself in the world Bioware has created. Thedas is full of political intrigue, religious conflict, thrilling battles, and steamy romance. I’ve gone on to spend hundreds (I’m not even exaggerating) of hours playing the three Dragon Age games available. Thankfully the canon consists of more than simply the video games. The creators have published novels, comic books, and even some movies.

Today I want to look at the novels.  So far five have been published, three of which are written by David Gaider, one of the lead developers for the franchise. I’ve only finished the first two, The Stolen Throne and The Calling. These two books are the prequels to the first game, Dragon Age:Origins.  I got a little rambley, so we will just start with The Stolen Throne for today. Continue reading

Q&A With Your Friendly Neighborhood Ace

I’m doing a Q&A with questions I’ve either been asked or assumed people wanted to ask about my sexuality. So read on!

Wait, what is Asexuality?

Asexuality is a sexuality…sort of…basically it’s an umbrella term for those of us that experience sexuality a bit differently than most of the population. The prefix a- negates the word that follows it; making a-sexual mean basically non-sexual. I know, I know, it’s weird to define yourself with the negation of something else but, hey, we do the same with atheists. Since it’s a non-normative sexuality, the existence of the term really highlights the diversity in what people experience.

Generally speaking, those of us that identify as asexual (or ace for short) don’t really have the same sexual urges or desires as other people have. We (mostly) don’t look at someone and think “I like that. I want to touch that.” However, asexuality, just like any other sexuality, exists on a spectrum. Some people are completely against the idea of sex and want nothing to do with it. Some people may not have their own interest, but will have sex to please their partners. Some experience sexual attraction, but only after having an incredibly deep emotional connection to others. It’s complicated and everyone who relates to it has the right to use the term if they find it helpful, no matter what others say.

So it’s like celibacy, right?

No. Celibacy is the choice, often for religious reasons, to abstain from sex. Asexuality is a sexuality, like heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, etc. As such, it is not a choice. It just is. While some ace identifying people may also choose to not have sex, there are also many reasons someone under the ace umbrella would have sex.

Are you going to be single forever?

Maybe, maybe not. Some asexual people date, get married, etc. Some don’t. I don’t know what I want from my life right now.

Were you abused or assaulted? Are you just afraid of sex?

Okay, first of all, that is a very personal question that you shouldn’t just casually ask someone when the topic of sexuality comes up. It’s happened to me a few times, and it always takes me aback. Don’t ask about someone’s potential trauma. If they want to talk about it, they will bring it up.

And now on to the actual answer: just like people from any sexuality, some people have experienced sexual trauma. It may even be the source of their sexual identity. That is totally fine and valid. However, many people who identify as ace have had no sexual trauma. We just aren’t that into it. It can come from fear, but it doesn’t have to. Either way is valid and people with any background should feel comfortable using the label if they want to.

But seriously, don’t ask this. If someone had experienced sexual trauma in the past, or maybe even someone nearby, it could trigger them. Not cool buddy. Not cool.

Maybe you’re just not doing it right. Want my help?

Oh yes. I’ve gotten this one. From a friend’s boyfriend actually. No thank you. I would not like your help. We don’t need to have sex to help me determine whether or not I’m actually asexual.

Why identify as ace at all?

This is something I’ve even asked myself. Since asexuality inherently doesn’t really involve others (usually), many people question whether they should use the term or “come out” as ace. Obviously that’s a very personal choice and no one should feel pressured one way or the other.

Realizing that asexuality existed came as a huge relief to me. For a while, I just thought I was a late bloomer. Then I thought I was broken. Now I know I’m ace. I’m still figuring out my romantic attraction and what I want from life, but the term and community has been highly  beneficial to me. That’s why I identify as ace. Others may have other reasons.

Will you be ace forever?

Yes? No? Maybe? IDK? All answers are acceptable. Sexuality is fluid, y’all. I assumed I was straight until the knowledge of asexuality came into my life. I’ve had a crush on people of more than one gender. But right now, I highly doubt I will identify as anything other than asexual. Even if I choose to have sex later, I still don’t have the same level of sexual attraction that my friends seem to have.

What’s with all the cake memes?

Who knows? If you search the ace tag on tumblr, you’ll find lots of jokes and memes. The most common is the cake meme. I think it has to do with the joke that many ace identifying people find more pleasure in the idea of eating cake than in having sex. I’m more of a brownie person myself. Mmmm brownies. (Mostly I just wanted to end on a lighter note.)

 

So that’s all for now folks! I hope you’ve found this PSA and Q&A informative and enjoyable. Wanna (respectfully) ask something else about asexuality? Hit me up in the comments. Either way, I’m sure I’ll be posting about ace-related topics more on from now. There’s already a few percolating in the back of my mind.

Review: What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton PLUS My Own Political Ramblings

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A few weeks ago I finished Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new memoir, What Happened, detailing her perspective on how and why we ended up with Trump as president. Clinton dives into a variety of factors that impacted the election; including gender, race, partisanship, her platform choices, and, yes, her emails and the still-being-investigated Russian interference. In this work, she both takes responsibility for her mistakes and speaks candidly about the external factors that, despite her best effort, negatively impacted her candidacy. Even though I followed this race closely and was active in registering voters in my area, there was still a fair amount of new information that I gleaned from the book. Continue reading

Review: I Hate Everyone But You

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Youtube stars Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, known for their previous work with Buzzfeed and their channel Just Between Us, have taken their partnership into the world of YA lit. Their debut novel I Hate Everyone But You is a modern-day epistolary which was released September 5, 2017. In it, you read the texts and emails of two long-time best friends, Ava and Gen, who have gone to colleges on opposite sides of the country. They navigate the challenges of beginning their college careers alone, but still have a deal to email each other every day in order to stay fully caught up on the other’s news and maintain their relationship. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share 10/1/17

Imagine we’re sitting outside, the finally chilling Fall air cooling our hot coffee. We’d have a lot to talk about, I’m sure. Mostly I’d be raving about the weather. I adore the beginning of Fall. As someone that dislikes hot weather and the midwest humidity that comes from water in the corn stalks heating up (yes, that’s a thing), I just get giddy when the weather hovers around 70 degrees. The last few days I’ve been spending as much time outside as possible, either walking or reading on the porch. That’s why we’re outside as we enjoy our coffee and catch up now.

The biggest news I have is that I started a job this week. Don’t get too excited though–it’s part time and temp. I just hate having no income and sitting around the house all day. I think it will be fine, but it’s nothing I’m in love with. I’m also a little peeved, because never was I told it was a call center job. It wasn’t in the job description, mentioned in the interview, or in my first two days of training. I had explicitly been avoiding applying for call center positions because I tend to get nervous on the phone unless it’s someone I’m comfortable with. But at least it’s for a nonprofit rather than some big corporation. Even if I don’t like the job, I’ll be helping people, and that’s really important to me.

Less time at home also means I haven’t had as much time to blog. Changing up your schedule is really exhausting, so even though I’ve finished a few books, I haven’t written about them yet. Hopefully I’ll get to that soon. I especially want to write about I Hate Everyone But You: A Novel by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin. I’ve been reading a lot of older books recently, but this one just came out.

I’ve also picked up a new hobby. As much as I love reading, I do need a bit of variety in how I spend my free time. Last weekend I took a quilting class with my mom. It was a lot of fun. Something about creating has always felt good to me. That’s part of why I started blogging. But working with my hands is still a completely different experience. It’s really satisfying too. Unfortunately quilting can be really expensive. Luckily for me my mom already has all to tools, so I just have to buy the actual fabric. It’s a bit of an odd hobby for me to pick up though because of how young I am compared to most quilters, but I live in a town full of the very young and the aging. There’s very few people around my age. Plus I like older people (for the most part). And quilting ladies are kinda quirky, which I enjoy.

On a completely different note, I’m trying to improve my instagram skills. It seems like all my friends are better at it than I am. So look at this picture of my cat, Buttons, that I took today! I think it’s pretty swell. She was rolling around in the gravel while I rubbed her tummy. If you have any instagram tips, I’d love to hear them.

That’s about all that’s new in my life this week. What about you?