Bebe Taian: April 2017

April 25, 2017

Getting A Stylish Look, pt. 1

It is no secret that geisha are the premiere wearers of kimono, and have access to luxury designers for every aspect of wearing, from collars that can reach over $1000USD in cost, to kimono which can fetch $40,000 easily. Even for informal, day-to-day running between classes, geiko in Kyoto must exude a luxury image to maintain their status. Therefore, a geisha should always be stylish as well.

Of course, the average person has no such luxury. Who of us have even $50 (considered cheap) to drop on a single piece of plain chirimen, a few feet long and all of 8" wide? Not many.

To clarify, we use the word 'kimono' today to mean the classic traditional Japanese garment. But actually, 'kimono' just means 'things to wear'. The outer garment with rectangular sleeves is called a 'kosode'. The distinction is necessary because different social classes wore different items depending on their jobs. Obviously, a farming girl will not be wearing the same clothing as a dancer or teahouse worker. A merchant will not wear the same clothing as a hunter or samurai. 'Average' women wore 'working clothes', rough cottons or hemps, or monpei- like pants and a shirt. Kosode were not for everyone only a short time ago, historically-speaking. Only at the turn of the 20th Century were we seeing a reduction in difference between classes, a major social upheaval that lasted well into the 50's when Western dress truly became the norm and use of traditional clothing fell out of favour.

Back to kimono:

How do we imitate the look while wearing kimono that is made for today's activities? By this, I mean that in the upper classes, kimono were once longer and trailed behind a person, making it easier to walk indoors. These were then tied up at the waist with shigoki obi. Today, they are shorter, and are tied automatically at the waist (ohashori). Only hikizuri trail behind a person, kimono reserved for dancers, actors, and other professionals. We must not only work with everyday kimono, but also on a budget that we can afford, which means most often buying secondhand and taking what we can get instead of having each kimono custom-tailoured to us.

But there is more! Rules of wearing are not always easily discerned outside of Japan, and there are four major seasons to follow, with 72 mini-seasons to think about timing for, plus many types of fabrics with their own seasonal meanings, etc. Seasons where you can wear lined kimono, but unlined juban; or situations where you can wear silk, but not hemp. Nana-no-ha for this week- next week, a butterfly is most appropriate. Does your look blend in with the season, enhancing the image? Or attempt to compete with the beauty of nature, and lose because of it?

With time and experience, these rules become easy to follow and you will know them by heart.

In the meantime, I can't even pretend to know every pointer, season, flower, etc. etc., nor do the vast majority of women have nearly the grandiose collection necessary to cover this entire spectrum. Not even geisha often have this many kimono!

In this short series, I can give pointers on how to achieve a good outfit, following what has been established as iki by kenban (geisha houses). Until you gain confidence in your own ideas, it is good to learn a solid base of what is/isn't worn together.

April 6, 2017

Tadaima, minna-san.

It's been a long time. Years. I've gotten older, but not much smarter it seems.

Watching the blog, which I once spent hours a week on, to becoming something I think of now and again but don't touch... it's like a treasured book that you never read. A mirror in a shrine that no one sees.

Over the years, the depression that I've talked about before hasn't gone away. It's only gotten worse. before, I could ignore it by absorbing myself in work. Now, I can't manage half of what I'd like to do. Chemical imbalances are... not something you can "just handle", like a bad day. It's having a perfect day with absolutely nothing going wrong, and having barely any energy to even sit up on your own, and wanting to burst into tears without reason. And it just don't stop, ever. There are only bad days and worse days. I've tried to tell this to doctor after doctor, and they don't listen worth a damn. "But you said you had an OK day ten minutes ago!" "Yes," through gritted teeth, "But MY 'okay' days involve being able to go grocery shopping AND throw frozen food in the oven AND eat on the same day. THAT IS NOT A NORMAL LIFE. My bad days involve panic attacks for no reason, or worse."

I think people don't talk about these things because there's a huge stigma around the issue, and neurotypical people have a habit of saying they're compassionate and understanding, and then they turn around an prove themselves to be absolutely terrible human beings. They equate "being depressed" with "just being sad", usually over some melodramatic bullshit like "oh, you didn't get something you didn't deserve just handed to you!" When that is absolutely NOT what is happening,

If we get *at all* angry about being invalidated or directly harmed by these people, "Woah, woah, woah! You're mental! You're too unstable to have a rational conversation about what's happening to you! I should dictate how your life REALLY is because you're too crazy!" Condescension, invalidation, and personal attacks are what we can expect if we try to talk to anyone or get help.

See, none of you are actually helping. Many of you make things infinitely worse, in fact. Especially terrible are the "medical professionals" who don't give a damn about their patients and are just there to collect a paycheque, paid up-front for appointments regardless of quality of actual service. Eventually, we just stop trying. To directly remind you all, that is to say that many of us WERE ACTIVELY TRYING TO HELP OURSELVES, on limited resources, and very limited energy- but the difference between normal sadness and depression is that sadness is a transient spring rain. Depression is a climate change, and now you have 12 months of monsoon season and you need help building your house up on stilts to escape floodwaters. Handing us an umbrella and then getting angry when we say, "Hey, we're still wet, in fact, we're drowning." won't cut it.

And you all wonder why the suicide rates are so breathtakingly high in America.

ha ha. breathtaking. that was a joke, people.

Anyways.

That's a large part of the reason I disappeared. I'd log in, stare at the screen, log out, defeated and more depressed than I started. I tried Xanax, but it just left me dissociated and unable to function very well. Life has gotten pretty bad in places, so it isn't like I'm entirely unreasonable, but it's starting to come back up, sort of. Dante, the Takehisa cat, died recently. Last week? It's so hard to keep track of what day it is. "Brain fog" is what it's called- depression so deep you can't figure out 'when' you are, when things happened, even important things to you. Lovecraft died in November. Azrael died a few years ago- did I write about that? I wrote about adopting him... My sister died too, shortly after the heart transplant... and so many others. Bebe and Seraphina are lonely without the other cats, but we're going to quasi-adopt two more. Maybe it'll cheer them up a little? I stopped collecting kimono for awhile too, and started again this year... I just... had no enthusiasm for anything. And no energy for anything that I once loved.

So why bother posting now?

hnnn well...

I finally decided to hell with it all. I'm going to die broke and unhappy anyways, working 60+ hours a week and making less than poverty-line wages. I might as well go to school and rack up debt, and get something done that was so far out of reach for me... I paid quite a bit of my student loans to medical bills, finally going to docs to try and get a diagnosis of why my bones hurt, my joints are on fire, and I feel like I'm walking on broken glass and legos half the time. I have most of the Brighton Score points. heh. And that's the better end of the health issue. The guy that wrecked my car (and my neck) in the hit-and-run back in 2013? He's suing ME for damages. That's rich. So I get to take care of that. There's a whole host of awful things happening, microaggressions on a major scale (hey, men- FYI, life is not television. We do NOT like it when you walk up to us, grab us, and start kissing us, and WE DON'T EVEN FUCKING KNOW YOU! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH MEN?! FUCKING CHRIST! And if I say ANYTHING about it to anyone, *I'm* the problem! What the hell?!) SO yeah, definitely depressed for a damn good reason.

But I found one person who really loves kimono, at a local sushi bar run by Japanese people. So I've been trying to go in a new outfit every week, something in tune with the current or preceding of the 72 seasons. Someone said that one of the keys to dealing with depression is to have a ritual that you absolutely must stick to, in a way to kind of 'reorder' a life that seems to be passing by in a haze. To give clear delineation to that existence, you have to hang on to something, even when you really don't want to. So far, I've done four outfits, maybe five. I'm surprised by how many kimono I really own, even with so many in shops or having been sold already. I'm still waiting- five more should have been here by today, but haven't arrived yet. I hope they come soon, though.

I want to go out tonight, to wear kimono and such, but honestly I've done nothing today and somehow have no energy. Maybe later I will start posting what photos I have of past outings. I'd really like to renew and go through the blog, but I don't know if I have the spoons to commit to it yet.