May 28, 2015

A Case for a Pseudonym

     Lately I have been getting some feedback/questions about my use of a pseudonym.  Some think that it is silly of me to hide my personal identity, and physical features and assure me that, "one of these days you will grow comfortable with yourself."  Others simply want to see what I look like, and think it would be more personal to know my name, and to have my age posted somewhere.  Some people have accepted this and others are a little bit more desirous for me to change my view on this.

     I would like to first attest to the realness of my blog.  Everything I post is truly my thoughts.  I am very comfortable with my self. I share my opinions, emotions, views, and (dare I say it) bits of my soul with you.  I am perfectly honest. Nothing I post is "fake" or said to conjure up more views.  Just because I go by "The Damsel" and I choose not to show my face, that doesn't mean I am hiding my mind or heart.

     The main reason I chose to adopt a pseudonym and not present pictures of myself on my blog, or any other linked profiles, is because I wished to keep away distraction.  There are two sides to this.

     The first being, that I don't want myself to leave off on writing. I don't want to slide into doing a "selfie blog" or something similar.  Compliments are very appealing to me.  I love to be called beautiful, or thought attractive.  Sometimes (on personal social media accounts) I find myself caught up in how many "likes" a picture will gain.  I occasionally catch myself thinking of how I could have received more "likes" if I had done something different with my hair, or the lighting.  I think this is something others can maybe relate to as well.  However, despite the naturalness of such feelings, I don't want to get caught in that kind of thinking.  Not here, where my goal is to try and share my thoughts and ideas in a well spoken manner.

     This leads to the other side of distraction.  I don't want my physical self to distract readers from the content I provide. When you come to read I want you to read my words and not to get caught up in physicality's.  Gender is pronounced by my pen name.  But I leave my race, exact age, hair color, height, and anything else physical up in the air.  From my writing you may be able to gain a general sense of who is behind the words.  However an exact portrait of myself, and my physical attributes are not presented.  I want you, as my reader, to follow me because you thought I portrayed, or said something well. Not because I have a decently nice body; or because it is correct for those in my culture to think a certain way.

     In essence, I chose pseudonymity because I don't want to feel the distraction of pride.  I choose a pseudonym because I want you, the reader, to take in the words, thoughts, and ideas portrayed.

May 22, 2015

Appreciation Package Update

     Since hitting 200 followers, this blog has continued to increase in traffic.  I have met some really cool people, and have received some lovely comments here, and on GooglePlus.  I feel blessed that my voice can be heard, and that I can share bits and pieces of my thoughts, views, and world with all of you.

     A little bit ago I promised my 200th follower on GooglePlus what I dubbed an "Appreciation Package".  I wanted to update everyone and let you know what that looked like. Thus, here it is: 


     To everyone, thank you! I'm so grateful for how far this has come. Via GooglePlus I have passed 280,000 views, nearly hitting 400 followers, and my posts keep increasing in the amount of +1's I receive.  It blows me away that there are people who enjoy reading what I post, and who want to come back for more. Thank you so much for your support!

May 18, 2015

Inspiration

Oh joy of joys! 
Elation that I feel
In my bosom burn

Why were you
So long in coming
To this mistress of yours?

I wanted to write
For the world
For you

And now my joy! 
I can write any and all
But why all this time?

I may be a child
But I am old in heart
A fine polish emerging 

You look at my face
You see youth
But eyes deceive like fools

You touch my heart
And you will find
The age of time

So why did you wait?
Why so long in coming
When I longed for you?

But at last my joy 
You are mine... 
Though not for long

My wisdom knows; 
Tomorrow I will yearn 
For the something I still lack

Yet, there is peace in my soul 
And joy fills my heart
For now at least, 
In this precious moment.
Poem 43 ~ 9/11/2012

May 10, 2015

A Mother

She drinks in the sobs
Of her child.
She comforts and consoles.
She brushes away the tears,
From a plump little face.
She kisses away the hurt,
And the sorrows of a second.
She firmly tells the child, "No."
Then she distracts with a toy.
She softly sings her darling to sleep,
On those fearsome nights
When only a mother's voice
Can comfort her child.
She cleans a child's muddy clothes
Without a word of thanks.

~

And as her child grows
She consoles the hurt of minutes -
The whiplash of a careless comment;
The sting of not being able to go;
The laughing faces of her child's peers.
She leads her child to safer waters,
Steering by example.
And when her child is hurt,
Truly hurt,
She hurts as well;
And her heart aches
For the wants of her growing child.

~

And when her child leaves
She gets the front row seat;
To watch the play unfold.
And if the play shows danger,
For her grown up child,
She simply slips back stage
And helps her child iron
The kinks out of their play.

~

And why does she do all this?
She does it because she loves
Her little child
With the tenderness of a butterfly
With the strength of an elephant
And with the heart of a lion.
What a wonderful love
Is the love of a mother!
 Poem 7 ~ 2011

May 7, 2015

What is Traditional Mexican Dance

And, How to Make a Mexican Dance Skirt


     Last school semester I had the opportunity to study Traditional Mexican food.  This was a really great project, as it gave me an excuse to make a huge amount of Pozole, a traditional Mexican soup.  Besides, helping me discover how utterly wrong Mexican food is portrayed in the states.  If you would like to see the resulting project, click here.  

      This semester I had another opportunity to study a facet of a Spanish speaking culture.  Yet again, I chose to go to Mexico.  This time around I wanted to share something that is close to my heart, rather than my stomach.  Originally, I really wanted to learn about traditional Mexican dance.  However, as I came to read more I realized that it would be more interesting to discuss how traditional Mexican dance has changed over time, and what it is.  Always wanting to get my hands into something I decided that I wanted to show you a bit of this through sewing a traditional Mexican dance skirt. 


The Goods
     The pattern I used called for about 3 yards of fabric, as well as elastic.  It was also intended for an 8 year old.  For most of this project I used what sewing knowledge I have to create my own "traditional" skirt.  But I did base it off of the linked pattern.  If I have further tips outside of that pattern I will mark it as a "tip."  Reading this before doing the pattern is probably the best way to go about it, if you wish to make the skirt. 

     Tip: Standing at 5' 7" I decided to go with 5 yards of my base color (the white), 3 yards of each green and 1 1/2 yards of the teal.  I also purchased over 200 yards of thread, and waistband elastic in case I wished to use it. 

     Mexican Dance has undergone many changes.  Some of which can be pinpointed with the Spaniard conquest. During this time new styles were merged, costumes and customs were altered, and some dances were banned or changed in order to appease the authorities. However, the dances that we are left with today do in fact contain much of the original aspects of these dances. The colorful costumes, traditional music, exaggerated headgear, and loud footwork can still be seen in many of the dances. 

Two Inedible Doughnuts
     Tip: Make your circle as long as the fabric will allow. Don't worry if you get less or more then the pattern says.  You can work with it. 

      Depending on the area you go to, Mexican dances will vary. Different regions can have a different style, music, costume, and meaning behind a dance.  Before the conquest, dance was taught by parents and considered an important facet of a child’s education.  Many of these various traditional dances were performed during religious functions only, and in order to appease or praise the Gods.

Layering Things
     Tip: In the original pattern it tells you to create one BIG circle with the two doughnuts.  If you are making a smaller skirt where all you will be doing is this part, and perhaps a small trim then go ahead and do that. However, if you are making something longer you will want to double these. First off it will add modesty (especially if using lighter colors), and second of all it will make it so that the following levels aren't ridiculously hard to put on. You'll see what I mean. 

     During the time of conquest the Mexican culture, was influenced greatly by the Christian values and beliefs that came along with the Spaniards.  A part of this influence was an exaggeration of the need for modesty. Thus, creating a need for more fabric in most costumes.  Fuller, less revealing skirts were included to obtain modesty. 

Support- I Mean the Waist
     Tip: Because of the added fullness of the skirt the waist for such dancing skirts is really a means of support.  I didn't use the elastic the pattern called for.  This is because I simply marked the sash to exactly how much went around my waist, just resting above my hips, and then gathered the top of the skirt, as needed, to fit my waist. If you have a harder time tailoring to fit, go with the elastic. 

Adding Color
     Tip: Make sure that this strip is longer then the circumference of your original circle.  My original circle had a circumference of around 2 1/2 yards. So I went with making the teal into a 4 yards long and 5 inch wide strip. 

     Expression was something that was greatly influenced by the Spanish conquest. Two of the more well know dances are the fandango, and seguidilla, which reached a peak of popularity in the 18th century.  Each dance impacted by a strict social code which prevented dance partners touching each other.  Throughout the dance, partners traditionally remain around 2 feet away from each other as they go through the dance.  In part, due to this social code facial expression, eye contact, and expressive gestures became an important part of these, and many other dances.  Handkerchiefs, fans, and long full skirts helped to add to the expression of the dance as well.  This combination of Spaniard social code, and indigenous expression combined for the bright colors, costuming, and dance steps we know today.

 Gathering

     Tip: So far you should have the first two layers. Your base/white and your small strip/teal.  For the light green I increased to 8 yards in length and 10 inches wide. This gives you a really nice effect when you gather it all, and helps give you the traditional looking "full skirt."

     Like I have mentioned, many dances had to adapt in order to be in accordance with the ideologies and customs of the Christian Spaniards.  Some dances were banned at the time due to their sexual innuendos, explicit costumes, or rebellious undercurrent.  When the era of conquest did end however, what we recognize as traditional Mexican and Spanish dance forms did continue to influence each other, and more fully merge.  This continued merging being a result of many Spaniards permanently staying in Mexico after the conquest was over.  Thus, such things that were influenced by the Spaniards continued to be influenced  and stuck for all intents and purposes.  The culture had already been changed, and there wasn't much of a slide back to older dance roots. Although, those who knew the older dances could again teach them.

Embelishing
     Tip: This is the last piece, so you will want to make sure that you hem the whole thing before you begin to gather it.  For this piece, I made it 12 yards long and 10 inches wide (but after doing a double hem it was 8 inches wide).

     Generally in traditional skirts there would be embroidery, and some symbolism or special meaning would be worked into the skirt.  These skirts were considered pieces of art.  As previously mentioned, the dances that would be preformed were ones that would be passed down generationally.  Often times along with these dances the costuming would be passed down as well.  Thus there was meaning held in every stitch, and it wasn't simply "another piece of clothing."  Also, traditionally these dances were preformed for special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, religious affairs, and other life marking events.  Thus, giving even more meaning to any symbolism embrodierd into the piece. 


Making a Tent
     Tip: 12 yards is a lot of fabric.  Do not panic! Just make sure you lay everything correctly so that your hem will end up on the side it should be on when your done.  Trust me, it took me three tries to figure that out. Keep at it, and truly the yards upon yards will give you a beautiful and full skirt, with all of the twirling and swishing capabilities that it should have. 

     Mexican dances began long before the Spaniards came.  However, with their arrival they morphed and changed a bit.  Through out the years however some new dances have arisen. Amelia Herandez founded a school in 1958 to teach ballets that would celebrate traditional dance.  Herandez even choreographed over 30 ballets herself.  Traditional dance has come to be known in more general terms now.  It doesn't simple refer to the dances that native people in Mexico would have known.  It also refers to those dances influenced by the Spanish, and even some dances that tie in these older dance forms but adding slight twists. "Traditional Mexican dance" has become, essentially, an umbrella term.

Here we Are 

     Traditional Mexican dance has changed over the years. Depending on the region you are in, different dances are more prized then others.  Also, region-to-region, dances that are the “same” can be performed very differently due to the culture, and history of an area. Different regions can also cling to dances that may not be well known or traditional in other areas.

     Overall this project was very interesting.  I enjoyed the sewing and learning about the culture.  At times it was a little overwhelming to work with so much fabric.  However, it proved to be very much worth it.