Sunday, June 5, 2022

February, March, April and May

I'm still alive. The past four months whizzed by so fast. My memory is pretty bad nowadays. I can barely recall what I did in February and March. What I do remember is it was stressful. My son was waiting to hear back about his internship application and I was imagining all kinds of worst case scenarios. Typical of me. Thankfully he managed to get hired and has now completed one month of internship. 5 more to go! Hubs was also going through his own crisis as well. Thankfully my memory is bad so I can only vaguely remember some of the tension and stress February and March brought me. Oh, I almost forgot. Hubs, daughter and I caught Covid. It wasn't super bad but still we did suffer for 1 week plus. The virus attacked our throats mostly. I felt tired and had no desire or energy to do anything. I ate ice cream all day. Of course I put on weight but it's covid weight gain so let's close one eye.

Remember I said I was going to work more on my scrap fabric turning them into applique art and my goal was 24 pieces of textile art in 2022? I stopped at no.7. It's already June. There's no way I'll make 24 this year. But I'll still keep going. I'm currently working on no.8 and it's a big piece so it's taking a long time to complete. The first piece - bird drink water - I really love and would like to make more of. The second one - a crazy patchwork embroidered zip pouch was made from a UFO, a remnant from my previous life. 

Since March last year I've stopped colouring my hair. As you know, I've been struggling with my grey hair for many years. Each time I stopped colouring my hair, I would immediately run to my hair stylist if one person calls me a senior citizen. Remember I bravely went grey when I went to Bintan with hubs and our taxi driver thought I was his mother? I almost died. So I was caught between wanting to look younger and getting tired of having to touch up my greys so frequently. It's not cheap, takes a long time for each colouring session and I get some reaction after each dye job - my eyes get swollen and my skin itch. Plus the worst part - when the first greys appear on the top of your head and you see one line of white hair - so gross. After many to-and-fro, I finally made the decision not to cover up my greys anymore. Like F O R E V E R. 

Of course the decision did not come easy. I made many consultations with the family until nobody cared anymore. I'll tell you a secret. Last year I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror. 80% of my hair above my forehead is white. When I looked at the mirror, I saw a ghost. This year is better. I'm starting to accept looking old (I'm kidding. I'm never going to accept it.). I think I just got more used to seeing my white hair. Now when I look at the mirror, I no longer see a ghost. Instead I see a homeless woman. I think it's an improvement. Ghost to homeless woman. At least I see a human. I wonder what I'll see in the mirror next year?

Since I've gone grey, I've realised this: a woman's hair does not belong to her alone. It seems everyone who looks at her has a stake. Lots of people have told me to go and colour my hair. They're probably thinking it's so silly to look older than necessary when there's an easy solution, right? But I'm going to be stubborn about this and stick to my decision. And I hope that my MIL will stop colouring her hair so I won't be mistaken as her mom!

One of the reasons it took me so long to stop covering up my greys is I really feared being treated like an old lady by humans. Take this incident. Once I was at a pharmacy and I was queuing up to pay for 2 packets of quinoa. A sales promoter came up to me and offered to help me carry the quinoa. I told her I was fine but she said she felt uncomfortable watching me carrying the 2 packets of quinoa. So she grabbed the quinoa from me and queued along with me until it was my turn at the cashier. It was a nice thing for the woman to do (from her point of view) but I was uncomfortable because she probably did it on account of my grey hair. So grey hair = old lady = incapable of carrying 2 packets of quinoa. You might ask what's so bad about a stranger helping me out? Well, it just confirms what I fear. People associate grey hair with feebleness.

Last year I attended 3 bread making classes. In the first class, when I showed up in class, there were already some people in the class and I looked for an empty seat. We were supposed to sit in a table of threes. Guess what? The 2 persons at the table I sat at promptly got up and sat elsewhere. I ended up sharing the table with 2 latecomers who had no choice but to sit with me. In the second class, I was the last person to arrive in the class so the teacher assigned me a seat so no one could flee from me. In the third class, I did not arrive late but most people had already arrived. I sat at an empty table by myself. Soon a lady arrived and she sat at my table. Then suddenly she got up and joined another table without a word to me. Later a latecomer came and she too sat at my table. Again, she quietly got up and joined another table. I ended up sitting alone until a guy whom nobody wanted to sit with asked to be my partner. Maybe you think I'm too sensitive but I really felt like nobody wanted to sit with me because I looked old and useless. My course mates probably thought I would be a liability. It was no fun feeling unpopular. On the positive side, it is easier to get seats on the train. During peak hours though, it's every man/woman for herself. I've had my seats snatched away by younger people who avoided eye contact with me. 

Alright, enough about my hair. I know you're sick of it already. From April to May, I was super busy because I signed up for 3 garment drafting and construction classes. When I was young, fresh out of school, I had already gone through similar drafting and dressmaking classes. The thing with drafting and making garments is if you don't put it into practice, you forget nearly everything. 

Each class was only 5 days long from 9am to 6pm but it was so exhausting. Some days, I thought I was going to pass out. On the last day of each class we had an assessment which was pretty easy. The difficult part of the class is to make the garment according to specifications and on schedule. 

Despite my years of experience in sewing, it wasn't a piece of cake for me. I struggled. My first struggle - sewing in metric. I've been sewing in inches for 2 decades. To switch to metric was so mind-blowing. My second struggle - following the teacher's method of construction. I realised I'm not a visual learner. The teacher would do a demo and there's a video of the demo but when I go to my table, if the steps are unfamiliar, I can't figure out what I'm supposed to do. For me, I need instructions to be given in precise language or I'm lost. My third struggle - sewing to a deadline. At home, I take my time sewing between cooking and watching k-drama. One blouse could take me 1 month to complete. At the sewing school, it's go, go, go. You need to keep up with everyone else or you're left behind. The last struggle - using an industrial sewing machine. Actually I got used to the sewing machine quickly and I love how an industrial sewing machine sews so powerfully but I occasionally struggled when another student (from a night class or weekend class) messes with the tension and I have to fix it.

The first class was super easy because it's just a sleeveless blouse and skirt with facing. The blouse pattern was drafted using a slash and spread method. The neckline and armhole were finished using bias tape. The skirt had facing and invisible zip at the back. My skirt was a bit loose. I think it had too much ease. I wished the teacher had asked us to make pockets because a skirt without pockets is unwearable. 

I had a little accident at home on the day when I was on a one-day break from my first class. I had just reached home after a swim and I walked into my bed. The bed frame went between my 4th and last toe. The pain was unbearable. My left foot swelled up and I couldn't walk properly. It turned out I had fractured my 4th toe. I saw a GP who asked me to wrap my injured toe with a good toe with plaster. But it made it worse so I stopped doing it. Later I saw an ortho doctor who said I shouldn't wrap my injured toe at all. In fact he said he couldn't do anything for me except prescribe painkillers. But since I can't take strong painkillers due to my kidney issue, I could only take panadol and tough out the pain. The fracture will heal on its own. I only need to not walk into anything for at least a few weeks. The first 2 weeks were really miserable for me. I discovered that you need your toes to walk and balance. I've been taking my toes for granted all these years. I couldn't walk on my wet bathroom floor so hubs bought 2 bathroom mats which helped a lot. I had to depend on my family to buy stuff for me. The dependence wasn't nice. Plus, I had 2 more days of my first sewing class to complete. I don't know how I did it but somehow I managed to hobble my way to school and complete my module. Right now the swelling has completely gone down. I've been exercising my toes daily but it still doesn't feel like before. My doctor says I can't swim or run until he says so. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that my "personal physiotherapist" quit in March so I was physiotherapist-less as the clinic couldn't get a replacement. The ortho doctor referred me to a physiotherapist at the hospital. I've gone once and the service is different. It's mostly advice and exercise related. None of the "pampering" that my previous physiotherapist provided.  

By the way, it's totally hub's fault that I walked into the bed. Years ago, he had insisted on moving a sofa in front of our bed. Our bedroom is super tiny so there's very little room to walk around. Lately he kept kicking the sofa out of position and as a result the feng shui went haywire. About 2 months before, he had walked into the same part of the bed and bruised his toes. Of course his bones are super strong so he had no problems. Back then I had told him to stop moving the sofa out of position but he kept doing it and that's how I got a fractured toe. I really should go and pull out all his hair. Anyway, I have stuck some bubble wrap on the dangerous part of my bed and hopefully it works. Hubs said the positive thing that came out of my injury is that the doctor discovered I have porous bones. Isn't he the ever-positive guy? I have a bone mineral densitometry scan scheduled in October. (there's a long wait list) Meanwhile I have to take calcium supplements. Why is aging so hard?

The second sewing class was hard. Shirt and pants. You need precision when you sew the collar stand, cuffs, zip fly and waist band. I found the teacher's instructions very hard to understand. I kept questioning my own intelligence. In the end, I think I don't suit the teacher's style of teaching. Somehow I managed to cough up the shirt and pants. The pants fit but isn't very comfortable to sit in because it's a natural waisted pants while I'm used to a low waisted pants. (I have a tummy) The shirt turned out great!!! I will make one for my daughter. We had to stay in school overtime twice. I felt so tired and sleepy I wanted to cry. 

The last class was a princess seam dress. The teacher was very patient so it was a good experience. First we had to sew a dress bodice using calico fabric. Then we had to make alterations if any to the pattern. After that, we modified the pattern into a princess seam pattern. The drafting took a lot of time. The final dress had 9 pattern pieces. I didn't do the neckline well so I'll probably try to make another dress. The dress is fully lined and has an invisible zip closure.  

Overall I enjoyed the sewing classes. I've gained a lot of confidence in drafting and sewing garments. Believe it or not, I may sign up for a couple more classes!

By the way, my daughter has graduated. She's already gone for her "grad trip" to Australia and will start work next week. Both my kids work in the same industrial area and will probably go to work together. So cute! I'd better hurry up and make more blouses and skirts for her to wear to work.

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