Life has been rather grim lately, particularly with regard to my freedom or lack thereof to get out of the house and do anything resembling fun. Even inside the house my hands are so wrecked with arthritis and I've so little energy that I'm forced to brutally prioritise to a shrinking list of essential activities. But not entirely.
I'm a few early stages into a project to construct the next Pretty Rock gown for Swancon in March 2016. Ostensibly it's a marketing exercise designed to show off one of my fabric designs. But it's a ridiculous expenditure in pure cash terms to even consider it a practical business move, even if I had the energy to make more of the opportunity. What's more critical at the moment is a severe lack of energy. My chronic pain and fatigue have kept me near to housebound over the last year, and a head cold over the last two weeks has squashed me even further. I was beginning to wonder if I would even be able to make a single shopping trip to buy thread and notions and ribbons and lace. I'm not sewing a single stitch of the thing but I do have to wash the fabric and make multiple trips to the dressmaker for designing, fittings, and tweakings.
It's those outings that really made me think (I managed the lace-buying trip yesterday which was a huge relief). Conservatively, an hour a week for four-six weeks would consume a vast proportion of my available energy budget, particularly if I hope to maintain weekly hydrotherapy. Never mind the fuss and anxiety on the actual night where I am the very last person who wants to be a model. It's unnecessary, is what it is. It's a waste of valuable resources. I could cancel the whole thing now and may have lost about half the cash, but I'd have the materials to do something with one day.
Why am I doing this when I don't NEED to do it? I can only afford to do things that I absolutely MUST do. Priorities rule my sad shrinking little life.
I'm doing it *because* I don't need to do it. It's frivolous, a folly, it's fun, it's a tiny rebellion. I've neglected to mention how much fun it is to work with my dressmaker Maureen. Human Contact on a collaborative art project. MAKING something, even if not with my own hands. Not being able to make things has been crushing my spirit more and more lately. I have a very large tattoo with the message of balance – don't just work with words and keyboards and mind – get out there and paint and sculpt and garden and put up shelves and ride horses and go for bushwalks. Balance the physical and the mental and the spirit will follow. Twenty years ago I thought these ideals were sufficiently self-evidently important to brand them on my skin for all eternity. I want to obey, I really do, but I'm fatigued beyond comprehension nearly all the time, and utterly restricted by my pain, especially in my hands in the last year when old injuries and wear-and-tear decided to graduate to officially crippling osteo arthritis. My hands, as they say in the trade, are fucked.
So the dress will happen. The laundry schedule may suffer. The cupboard might run a bit bare occasionally. I may have to skip a few more showers. I might need to ask for help in the kitchen. Hydrotherapy will go on, but I might lose a few hard-fought muscles. I might need a taxi or two. But I will gain a silly confection of satin and lace and ribbons and ruffles, with many giggles along the way.
Frivolous. Folly. Fun. I need this, and I'm going to take it.