one thing i miss about working in an arts faculty, as opposed to a health faculty, is the theory. i dont mean people dont use theoretical frameworks to understand their teaching and research concepts, but health research just doesnt do theory like the social sciences do.
so it was kind of fun the other day to sink my teeth into some real subjectivity/identity theory, in order to help someone with an actual social sciences essay. my phd was all about subjectivity, what it is that makes you who are you, the forces that shape and ‘define’ you, how you define yourself. i used a lot of weird arse theories to basically write 80 000 words on the idea that we are ‘overdetermined’, that is, made at the intersection of a number of driving forces, some structural, some personal. Well der.
so reading up on some of that stuff the other day made me think about identity more personally, how i identify myself, what i identify with. i dont usually use a theory, funnily enough! i know my parents fucked me up, i know i was born pretty poor (but now am not), i know im a woman. i know i’m a scorpio, i know im a Gen Xer. i think sometimes its that last part, the culture part, that i hang onto hardest. i tend to listen to a lot of older music, from when i was young, taking drugs, out all night dancing, walking the streets in my doc marten boots (or no shoes at all), fire engine red hair, a ring through my nose. when i listen to music from that time, its like i’m right back there, like i havent grown up at all.
in less than two weeks i turn fortymumble. i do not feel in the least bit grown up. i cant believe some days that i’m that old. a week or so after that it will be 18 years since i started my life all over again (more about that later), and this time of year always makes me introspective (as if im not enough like that already). and with everything thats been happening lately, the question of identity seems to be right at the forefront. who am i, what am i doing with my life, am i happy?
in my twitter profile i describe myself as ‘knitter, researcher, dog lover, people hater (mostly)’. generally speaking thats pretty true. but is that all i am? i’m definitely not just a knitter anymore! i have, it seems, turned into something i am calling a ‘bicrafter’, with the recent introduction of the sewing thing. i spent the weekend just gone in sydney again, and it was funny to be packing the car this time with two lots of ‘craft’ supplies, including a sewing machine (knitting’s a lot more convenient in that regard). but you know, these arent really CRAFTS. i’m making clothes basically. i dont make anything knitted that im not going to wear. i dont see the point in knitting something just because its pretty. or ugly, in the case of yarn bombing. so ive take the same approach to sewing. im not interested in making weird bits of fabric things to lie around the house and just look pretty. i’ve gone straight to the making of skirts, because its warming up here and theres nothing i like more about summer than feeling the sun on my skin from wearing sandals, a t shirt and a short skirt over bare legs. but i wasnt happy with the way the skirts i made recently were sitting when i actually wore them around for a day. gathered elasticized waists are not a great idea for the fuller figured lady (and kate waterhouse you can call me that anyday if i ever look HALF as mouth watering as christina hendricks). so with the help of lots of other crafty friends, i learnt how to fix it by attaching a waist band and sewing some darts.
so much better. im fixing another one as we speak.
i have some fabric in ‘stash’ already (a gorgeous light japanese lawn for a wrap around)
i bought more fabric on the way home (denim for a short skirt)
my dining room looks like this
who am i?! what have i become? i feel a bit ‘domestic godessy’, which is the absolute polar opposite of who i was 18 years ago, and not even close to who i thought i would become, but im really enjoying it. i love the quiet hum of the sewing machine as it turns pieces of cut material into clothes that fit me properly. it gives me a feeling of quiet satisfaction, unlike anything i do at work does. there its all sound and fury, signifying nothing. who’s going to read my journal articles? who really cares what a bunch of 21 year old women told me about why they go out, get drunk and have sex with random boys (probably for the same reasons i did. and yes, i can hear you sniggering jane.) do i really need to drive myself insane worrying about how im going to get funding for all that? whether i’ll have a job past next year? whether my citation rates and h-index are high enough?
no i dont. thankfully, i didnt think about any of this on the weekend, because i was too busy having a great time with the lovely kris, hanging out at her house on saturday after knitters guild, watching battlestar galactica ‘jump the shark’, knitting a bit, and then putting our hipster on and heading out to newtown, to hartsyard even, for a bit of good old fashioned american dude food. (people here put shit on american food, and there is a lot to cause concern, but thats true of autralian food too and to be honest, i’ve always had fantastic food in america. and im a little america-nostalgic at the moment, so you know, step off!).
we started with drinks, kris had the manhattan made with bacon infused jack daniels, and i had them make me a mocktail (some kind of spicy ginger lime thing)
and then we had the duck rillette with blood plum jam and foie gras. oh yeah. also, not exactly screaming DUDE here.
followed by almost-traditional (canadian) poutine (no cheese curds cos you cant get them in australia, for crying out loud)
then of course, that most traditional of hipster food, buttermilk fried chicken with biscuit and sausage gravy. the gravy was a bit too salty but the chicken was AMAZING. i’ve had this dish before in san francisco and DC, and both their sausage gravy was better.
of course, we had to find space for dessert, a banana, peanut butter cookie and pretzel ice cream sundae. you could have put bacon on it and called me elvis.
i contemplated a salad and the waiter looked at me like i was mental. it was such a great place, so much atmosphere, really great service, not cheap but thoroughly worth it. having said that, my liver would rather i not go there again in a while. kris and i pretty well just ‘groaned’ our way back up king street. i think we’re both on the no sugar bandwagon from today. i do crazy things when im sugar high. like not sleep and lie in bed giggling at nothing, and write rambling emails, with the battlestar galactica theme song going over and over in my head.
so, apart from a walking coronary and a reject from freaking portlandia, what else am i? im pleased to call myself a reader. i was a bit lost for a couple of days last week when i reached the bottom of that pile i showed you a few posts ago. i madly scurried around this weekend restocking the bedside table.
ive started with ‘the casual vacancy’ the first post-potter book from jk rowling. its got swear words in it, naughty grown up joanne! so far, its better written than i would have given her credit for. im looking forward to seeing where it takes me.
so i dont know if all those things I’ve been doing ARE me, or just parts of me, or just things i do that dont define me at all (lots of other people sew and knit and read and try too hard to be hipsters!). i think its what we do with all that stuff that makes it US. ultimately what really makes me ME is something altogether different, not really the external at all. the externals are reflections and refractions, not the whole thing, not even really the important things.
but today, they are the sweet, quiet, harmless things. they stop me thinking too much. they keep my hands and brain occupied. they make me smile. this is a good thing!