Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Martyrdom of Saint Brendan the Bureaucrat

How did I ever become an office worker? I never really planned to be one. It just was an easy way to pay the rent, and here I am working as a bureaucrat years later. Fortunately I've had supportive bosses who acknowledge that my heart really is at the loom. On Friday I told my current boss that I wanted to return to grad school at UC Davis in fall of 2007, and he was very supportive. I feel lucky. (Now the trick is to get in.) In fact, my current boss, Dr. Marc Schenker, is an excellent photographer, and some of his work focuses on social issues.

One way that I've been able to integrate my textile-text passion into the office sphere is to get non-standard monograms on my dress shirt cuffs. Some of the monograms are things like TMI (too much information), FYI (for your information), 666 (an evil #), etc. Here's a bad picture of my most recent one with the initials WMD (weapons of mass destruction):

The whole idea of having monograms put on my shirts began with the fact that if I were to use my L.L. Bean visa card to buy L.L. Bean products, I could get free monograms. I just figured I'd have fun during the process. I realize that on a certain level I'm poking fun at the office culture, but I think there also is a statement about my feeling at odds with the whole office scene. A result of this feeling at odds is my chronic underemployment. Also, the mongrams are an interesting throwback to my 20s, when I was aspiring to the preppy socioeconomic class (which I never quite achieved).

Last semester at San Francisco State University one of my classmates, Rebecca Clausen (sp?) made a trapunto piece from an old dress shirt. She made a bleeding heart as a sort of testament to the martyrdom of office workers who get their souls sucked out of them. (Click here for a definition of trapunto.)

In a sense I've felt like a martyr over the years, but I realize that I've had an active role in my own fate, i.e., I haven't been an innocent victim. On Friday I mentioned to my boss that I felt as though I was watching others live their lives and that I wanted to begin living mine. He offered to help me in my quest to return to school. For this I'm very grateful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I'm thrilled that you've started a blog about your textile explorations - there aren't many out there. I visited your website after seeing your work in Handwoven and thoroughly enjoyed your fearless approach to creating textiles with meaning.

After writing several how-to projects for Handwoven (I think you & I were published in one of the same issues), I'm now focusing on creating textiles that have more content (lampas weave pick-up is my current thing). I've found it a bit difficult to balance full-time employment with the time necessary for me to process ideas & transform them into pieces that I can live with.

I also love that you're able to integrate text & textiles into your daily work life. I need to explore this for myself - might make the long days away from the looms more enjoyable.

At any rate, I appreciate your willingness to share your creative process with the online community.