There is more to being a woman than dressing like one.

I recently met the co-owner of the bead store I often go to. I’ve been going to this store for at least a dozen years and I’ve never met this person. I didn’t even know this was a staff member and not just a customer for a while.

I’m being vague about gender because so is the person. I believe this is a man who is dressing like a woman. I was finally supplied the pronoun “she” by the staff member I know so I will use that.

She had beautifully manicured nails and well groomed hair. Her hair wasn’t especially stylish, but it was certainly longer and tidier than the hairstyle of most men. Her top had fabric that was blouse-y and more colorful and fancier than a man’s.

Yet she had very baggy jeans that looked worn out. They did not fit well and looked out of date. Her shoes were also not feminine. They were leather, but clunky and squared off. Perhaps there were heels to them. It was hard to tell because her jeans were so long.

Then there was the matter of her size and voice. She was immense. Very few women are that tall or wide. Physically, she would have made a great bouncer at a club. Her voice was disconcerting too. It was very deep and rumbly.

All of this was what I was working with while also trying to figure out if she was a new staff member. She was walking in areas that are usually for staff members, but that doesn’t mean much at this store. Some of the best beads are behind the counter where the cash register is and if you ask they will let you go back there and look. If you go there as often as I do you don’t even have to ask anymore.

In all reality I don’t care if she is a he trying to somewhat pass as a she or if she is a she who is doing an unusual job of it.

The issue is that I don’t want to address a customer as a staff member (it has been done to me) and I don’t want to ignore a new staff member at a shop I regularly go to. I also don’t want to address someone incorrectly gender wise. That too has happened to me. (I had a mohawk at the time.) I’m personally very sensitive to all of this.

I simply asked the staff member I know if they had a new employee. She clued me in that this person was the co-owner. The word “partner” was used. This word can have multiple nuances these days, and as I have long suspected that the owner I know is gay, it added to my information. She also very helpfully gave me the pronoun “she” to use.

I understand if a man dresses as a woman, he wants to be referred to as “she”. This is fine with me. But only half of her outfit was feminine, so I needed that bit of help. I went along with this from then on.

At one point I was behind the counter while she was looking at the Swarovski crystal beads. The clerk I know walked by and said that her head hurt. The co-owner immediately said that “If my head looked like yours, it would hurt too”. In years past I would have said nothing to this bit of rudeness but that is changing. I immediately said “That’s not nice.” She stopped with her insult with that lady but then shortly afterwards resumed her behavior with her friend who was looking at beads with her. Her friend complained of a different ailment, and she did the elementary school retort of rubbing her thumb and fingers together and saying “Do you know what this is? It is the world’s smallest violin playing just for you.” She was saying she didn’t care, but doing it in a childish way.

I thought about this all the rest of the day.

I think there is a lot more to being a woman than dressing like one. There is something about empathy, and compassion. There is also something about not saying everything you think. There is a lot more, but that is what comes to mind in this situation. We are taught to be kind and to “mind our manners”. We are taught to put others needs first. We are taught to care about others feelings.

She may be trying to pass as a woman, but she doesn’t have the internal part down.

I also think that she is in a lot of pain. Whether it is physical, emotional, or mental or some combination of them makes no difference. Pain is pain, and it comes out in ugly ways. People who are hurt tend to become people who hurt others. Her need to express how she does not care about other people’s feelings or concerns is simply a reflection of how she feels. She feels ignored and put upon, so she is not going to be kind to anyone else who is in pain.

I find this unusual. She has developed enough energy to dress in opposition to social norms. This usually indicates a strong personality. Yet to insult and degrade others is a sign of a weak personality. Perhaps this is part of why she is only half dressed as a woman. She is only halfway there.

If only she knew how hard it is to be a woman!

The bread and milk diaries – or, a snow day in the South.

Northerners make fun of Southerners when we freak out about snow forecasts. When there is a forecast of one to three inches of snow, Southerners lose their minds. Everything except essential services stops. Schools close. People go to the grocery store for bread and milk, even if they don’t like bread and milk. It is a big deal.

One to three inches of snow is business as usual for people in the North. They think we are overreacting. Until they move here.

Snow in the South isn’t just snow. There is almost always a base layer of ice. I don’t care how good you are at driving on snow; nobody is good at driving on ice.

Even if there isn’t ice to start with, there soon will be. After people have driven on the snow it has gotten packed down. Then the sun shines on it and melts it, and then the temperature drops below freezing again and the whole thing is one big skating rink.

Southerners are of the mindset that it is just better to stay home. Who doesn’t like a random day off?

We have snowplows and de-icing trucks, but they aren’t really much good. There aren’t enough of them and the drivers don’t get enough practice using them to be of much use.

Now, there are certainly bosses who expect you to come in. However, they won’t pay for the damage to your car that will occur when you crash on aforementioned icy roads while trying to drive in.

Just like trying to decide if a prepared food is compatible with your allergies, best be safe and give it a miss.

About face – on social media addiction.

Facebook has been my addiction for several years. The more I use it, the less I actually do that is meaningful. I’m trying to resist the impulse to check it multiple times an hour.

I’m like my Mom, who lit up a cigarette every 20 minutes she was awake. Instead of flicking my Bic, I’m clicking a mouse. I probably won’t get cancer from checking Facebook this often, but I’m just as surely losing pieces of my life.

So, like with any other addiction, I need to study it and replace it. I need to study the power it has over me, and dig down to what “hole” I’m trying to fill with it.

Then I need to address that underlying issue and fix it or make peace with it.

Part of that is filling the “hole” with better things. For me, that means writing and drawing and beading. If it was warmer outside I’d probably add in walking. Maybe I’ll do more yoga.

But I feel it is critical to not substitute one addiction for another addiction. Even healthy things can be misused and abused. It isn’t about the thing but the reason behind the thing or the intent.

If we are not being mindful, we are being mindless.

Being mindful is what makes us different from animals.

Prayer makes me mindful. Being thankful makes me mindful. I’ll start there.

Also, part of it is being observant. I’m noticing that I want to check Facebook, and just observing that feeling but not yielding to it. That alone is a big deal. I’m trying to make it harder to do as a way to remind me of my intention. Instead of having my phone right next to me, I’ll have it in another room, and turned off. Instead of having the Facebook icon on my Kindle, I’ve removed it from the carousel so I have to go into the Apps page to access it.

These things slow me down so that I remember. It has to be a conscious, intentional act to check it. That is my goal – to have everything I do be conscious and intentional.

Poem – home

Here we are.
We have buildings in our childhoods
and the surest way of knowing
is this –

Once you know what the way home is
you can get to the shelter.
This line between us
is there.

Many people who don’t know
make your life
more than a little sad,
more than a lot crazy.

Even though they are hungry for a
entry, a door, a way in,
they are not allowed.

Home is a place
in your heart
and some
even though
they live
in big homes
are homeless.

(Predictive text meditation, using the letters “home” as line starters and the intention “What is home? Is it a place? How do you know when you get there?”)

Thoughts on art – heavy vs. light

Sometimes I think that I just like buying beads.  The potential is always more interesting than the reality.  Seeing all the beads together in the bin- I go a little wild.

When I have to pick what I’m going to work with, I am a little overwhelmed.  There are so many choices, but I can’t use them all.  I like that at least if I change my mind I can take the necklace apart and do something else.  Somehow that makes it easier to get started.

Sometimes I just want minions.  I’ll finally work out the pattern that will use the beads in a way I like, and then it is all about just doing the work.  This is so boring.  This part is not the part that keeps me beading.

          Some of what I make is really boring.  Sadly, this kind of stuff sells well, so I make a fair amount of it.  Sometimes I think I make it so that I can afford to make what I really want to make.

Figuring out the pattern can be the hardest part, yet the most rewarding.  There are a lot of factors to consider.  Necklaces have weight that is both physical and visual.  I don’t want to make something that is very heavy and thus a pain to wear.  Some designers don’t seem to ever wear what they make, so they don’t get that this “art” piece is completely impractical to wear longer than twenty minutes.

Then there is visual weight.  If there are a lot of large beads very close to each other, the necklace will look heavy.  This is ok for certain people, but not others.  In general, older and larger women like “heavy” designs, while younger and thinner women like “lighter” designs.

Here is an example of a “heavy” design –

Here is an example of a “light” design. This is an end-of-week necklace, made with leftover bits of other projects.


Making a heavy piece lighter often just means adding some plain glass beads into the pattern.   This also reduces the cost, which is another factor.  You may make the most beautiful necklace ever, but people will simply not want to pay for it.

These are heavy beads, but I’ve watered it down by adding some plain glass beads.



I was interested in making a big chunky necklace but didn’t have enough of the big beads to make it work. I’m trying to not get obsessive about what I make to the point that I have to go to the bead store to finish out a design.  If I really want to make that specific piece a specific way, I’ll remember it the next time I’m at the store and just make a second version of the necklace.

Would you believe that the cost of just the beads alone in this necklace is $80?



And that is just the ones I used.  I had to buy the whole strand of antique chevron beads.  That was $200.  The strand of pre-Islamic cut lapis lazuli wasn’t cheap either. I did manage to get the centerpiece for free.  There is something to be said for not being pretentious at a bead show.



Sometimes I have just a few beads for a necklace and I want to use them up.  I’ll work out a decent pattern and then be short a few inches.  Then I have a choice.  Take the whole thing apart and figure out another design, or just add some filler beads to the end.  Nobody looks at the back of the necklace anyway, right?  And, after all, it isn’t like I’m going by a pattern that anybody knows.  They won’t know I didn’t mean for it to look like that.



I guess that is part of it.  Nobody knows what I’m aiming for, so when I miss they don’t know.  I think that is true with everything.   Just do it anyway.  Keep on trying.  Keep on making and writing and drawing and beading.   Keep on putting it out there.

Maybe one in twenty is a keeper, is one that I think ended up somewhere near what I was aiming for.  But I think that is the trick. If I don’t keep trying, I won’t keep getting that one at all. The funny part is “the one” is the least likely to sell if it is jewelry. In my writing, “the one” that really matters is only rarely noticed.  I have to remember that even if others don’t get it, I do, and that is good with me.

If you don’t love your art, quit doing it, because it isn’t about the money.  Well, getting money helps.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love it when my jewelry sells.  Now, in part I love it because it means I can buy more beads to make more jewelry.   It is about the chance to create, and thus the chance to get it right.

Creating is like mastering a language.  You’ll get really frustrated trying to express yourself until you figure it out.  Either you need a new set of words or a new phrase or a different way to communicate. Perhaps you need sign language, or poetry, or email.  Perhaps you just need to keep slogging away at it until you figure it out.