Sidestep

September 21, 2014

Hey everyone, I have a new website and blog! Come on over and check it out!

FILLY FOREVER!

All of You

July 7, 2014

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I’ve written about transitions. So many times. My belief is that the body moves more quickly than the spirit and so there is a period in which our spirit is still with the pervious space and we feel incomplete. It takes some time to fully embody the new way.

I just got back from Santa Cruz. Sarah and I were there three weeks working on the Riverside property. It was a grueling experience but ultimately satisfying. I miss it.

Being back in Portland means many great things. I am with my beloved Mr. Greenhill. I am surrounded by dear friends. Berries. River trips in the evening. Skinny-dipping. But I am also confronted with anxieties that are long held. My house is taking the brunt of what might otherwise feel like generalized nervousness. Objectively I know that I’m exhausted from the Riverside work and overwhelmed by the list of tasks that have built up in my absence. But subjectively I blame my house. It is very large and old and crumbly and crowded. It feels like the home of my former self. I’ve started looking at real-estate.

Just now I came into the studio and put on a Bob Dylan bootleg series. First up was a demo of Went to See the Gypsy and sobs tumbled out like vomit.

Loving is a heavy load. I never cease to love the places and people and selves I’ve been. I don’t put them down. I grieve for them like the dead, cradled in my arms.

Change of Plans

April 10, 2014

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Its interesting to see what happens when you lay your plans out in the sun to dry. I have been working on clothing for 8 year olds for the last five months and felt very secure in the decision to make expensive avant garde subtly beautiful parent-selected garments for this age bracket. A couple of days ago I asked, via social media, for an 8 year old fit model. The second I sent this request I knew I was mistaken. I was fundamentally off. 8 year olds go to school. They are big. They are opinionated. They dress their own damn selves. And what they choose to wear is not generally what I am making. The fit, the feel, the mobility, the softness… yeah sure, that’s cool. But those elements are quickly losing ground to aesthetic concerns. 8 year olds are already a little bit adult. They are already exchanging comfort for cool. Just like the rest of us big people. They want bright colors and trendy graphics. I get it. I would too. I would rock all the fresh angles. I would look down my nose at my out of step parents. I would not want to wear some watery colored matching set with sophisticated proportions and nuanced prints. I’m not in a Norweigen conference retreat for the gifted! I am a 2nd grader at B-40 elementary and I want to wear bright purple!
Whoa. You get the point. And if you haven’t, because I was yelling, the point is I should make clothing for a younger, less empowered age. Kidding. Kinda. I should make clothing for an age that still puts on whatever their parents hand them and rejoices in the fit, the feel, the mobility and the softness in their last years before growing up. I’m thinking 3-6 year olds.
6 year old fit model needed!

Looking For A Model

April 7, 2014

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I have embarked on a new adventure designing a children’s line. I love how fucking small the mock-ups are. They take up so little space on my table. They hang on the wall on tiny hangers. They make my studio happy. And me too. 

I would like to begin a relationship with a 8 year old fit model. A girl preferably. Of average size. Living in Portland. 

I can trade her mom some Filly for your time. I can trade her some ______ for her time. I imagine meeting 3 or 4 times at my house (or yours) before this month is over. I will ask her to put on the garment and mostly likely I will fuss and fiddle with it and take her picture. It should take no longer than 1/2 hr. And if she didn’t like the experience, it doesn’t have to happen ever again. And if she does we will all know it and feel good. 

Give me a poke if this sounds like the girl in your household…

 

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(Business meeting, LACMA grass, Roald Dahl adult short stories and an apple)

That title has been my motto for 2014. And I would say I am working harder than I have ever worked in my life. But not in the classic up before dawn, head down go go go, fall into bed in the wee hours, asleep before my head hits the pillow. I know that version of myself. I love that version of myself. That’s working god dammit! And if there’s one thing I learned growing up a Christensen is that work itself is what counts. The effort, the hours, the sacrifices, the ethic. What matters is that you labor. What matters is that you don’t spend your day doing nothing. Doing nothing is akin to elder abuse or hurting an animal. It’s repulsive.

My other motto for 2014 is Let It Be Easy. Despite its title this one is far harder. It’s harder to try for, to want, to prioritize. Because it’s about letting the life that is yours come to you. The “work” is allowing. And it directly relates to the sentiment expressed above although they seem at odds.

If work is what I value than the harder I work at something, the more valuable it is. Then how do I value holding still? How do I value allowing my heart to reach out to another’s? Or better yet, staying receptive when I feel his love coming toward me? How do I value laying in bed so my body can grow new bone? What about the hours at the acupuncturist, chiropractor, massage therapist, yoga, swimming and walking? How do I value my new business venture if my role is simple and doesn’t take much time? All in all, how do I value witnessing and enjoying the life that comes and goes and washes over me without putting twenty rocks in the water to create the churn?

The churn is not what I want. I want to close my eyes at night after a peaceful day and still feel productive. The business, the man, the friends, the feelings that are with me right now came as easily as if I was born with them. This is what destiny looks like. One doesn’t struggle and fight and cry and sweat and force destiny. The work is knowing it when you see it.

I am working harder than I ever have in my life. I’m floating down a calm river with the blue sky above. I am allowing myself this. I am seeing the value in this. And I am not throwing a rock in my way just to watch the churn. 

 

 

Laying

April 1, 2014

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I have been laying for two weeks. Laying in bed, laying on the floor, laying in front of the fire, laying in the bath, laying draped over a yoga ball. I am injured. How many times have I written that? David suggests it’s because I’m the person that climbs the ladder instead of just noticing it and walking by. I climb the ladder even though it is late on a Sunday night and Coderre and I are about to watch the last episode of House of Cards. I still decide that the best thing to do is experience the new stairs leading to the attic. The stairs arrived that day, replacing a rickety ladder that all but forbade me to check on the attic’s progress. I was taking in this delicious new experience slowly, as one would savor their half of a cookie. This was, afterall, the entryway to my future private penthouse suite. Ooh, this is so nice. I love this. I reach the top step of the stairs and stand there. And the stairs fall away. They simple leave my feet and fall to the floor below. I’ve been asked if time moved slowly and I can say that this moment seemed to stretch. This moment when I stood on air before falling backwards, through the opening, like Kim Novak in Vertigo, arms and legs akimbo searching for anything to slow the descent before landing, on my back, on the ladder. Before I went into shock my brain took stock and said Not Good. 

Not good. She was right. But not terrible either. I suffered a minor concussion and fractured two vertebra. But I am alive! Fuck yes! I have use of all my limbs! Praise be! I am battered and bruised and tangled and crooked but I am still me. It makes me cry just to say that. 

And so I lay here and read the Times and read my books and listen to an audio book. Words fill the gaps when I’m not just thinking about my body and trying to understand what the pain is telling me and how to ease it. I spend hours laying on my stomach tracing my insides, asking questions, listening. Trying to understand what the climb tells me. What the fall tells me. And how I can be content with two feet on the ground. 

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Roll Call

January 14, 2014

Who wants to take my class The Art of the Fashion Collection at the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts? It starts on the 29th of this month and meets Wednesday nights from 6:30-9:30pm until 4/2. It’s such a good time!
Here’s your chance to take your great style, your countless ideas, your basic understanding of sewing and patterning and bring them all together in a disciplined framework. You will leave knowing who YOU are as a designer, you will leave as a LEADER of ideas, you will leave with the ability, know how and confidence to build a collection of any size, you will leave with everything you need to start a line. You will leave my class in tears, having experienced all of it coming together for the first time.
This class is an educational version of what I do every single time I start a collection.

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Here Kevin!

January 11, 2014

This is a well rounded moment. It’s a Saturday, half way through. I’m out of bed after a week of fever. It’s true no matter how old fashioned that sounds. The day is the color of wet cement with high winds and rain. But I am safe and sound because I’ve got Kevin. We both wore burgundy for the drive to the hardware store. The Grateful Dead marathon continues even though the errand has ended and so I ask Kevin to keep er’ playin for a bit longer before I go back inside.
Guys, Kevin is the new Bello.
Or at least he’s doing a damn good job trying to be.

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Clean

January 6, 2014

Obviously I am not writing very often. There are two reasons for this.
One, my trusty lap top, the one I bought when I started Filly, is now so old that even if I wanted to replace the hard drive and free up more space, I couldn’t because one that old can no longer be found. And so, like a good but tired dog, it tries to respond but its reaction time is not fit for earth life. By the time the beach ball has stopped spinning and that sentence is highlighted, I’ve left the room and gone to the store. It’s hard to edit a blog post in this fashion.

Two, I’m leaner. When I left Santa Cruz I stepped out of an old skin. I left that suit crumpled on the ground and headed North with a fresh self. That fresh self made two fresh decisions. I am collaborating on a kids line and getting ready to launch a women’s line of suits. These new endeavors steal my time away from Filly. For now. Until they’re old enough to walk on their own.

I am still here, still in the studio, still finding my way, still doing yoga and eating apples and missing Bello. More soon and soon there will be more.

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Oh Hey, I Aged.

January 1, 2014

Happy Birthday to me. Us December babies complain about having a birthday so close to all of the big holidays. It’s not great, I grant us that. But because it’s not great and everyone knows it we actually get to make a bigger deal out our bdays then we would as June babies, for example.
So once again everyone efforted a celebration despite collectively feeling burned-out and crabby. And once again I felt overwhelmingly loved. It wasn’t until the next day that I fell pray to the crabby epidemic and spent the next five days sulking. On New Years I purposely went to bed at 11:30.

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Work Addict

November 27, 2013

I was going to come to Portland and try on a fancy lady character. I would have clean nails and silky hair and wear a button up shirt unbuttoned half way. I turned from Santa Cruz fully burnt out on building. And then two weeks ago I couldn’t stop myself from peeling back a corner of the kitchen linoleum. By the end of the night I had officially started refinishing the kitchen floor and replacing the countertop all in time to host twenty people for Thanksgiving.
If I weren’t myself I’d think I’m crazy.

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Compartmentalize

November 13, 2013

I made a list. It attempts to answer the question “ok, what do I do?” Whatever it is, I want to be sure to do it.

What do I do? In Santa Cruz it was obvious. I was there to make the Riverside property something to be proud of. That meant a lot of physical labor and a lot of driving Kevin here and there fetching materials so that others could labor. Out small collective muscled our way through it.

Now I am back in Portland. I don’t have silent partners helping to finance this house’s much needed repairs. It is a single parent kid, big for her age wearing tattered clothes she outgrew years ago. I feel singularly responsible and singularly overwhelmed. Ok, so that’s something I do here… I write it on the list- House. House. I go over it again to make sure I really get it.

Next up… Designing. I write Filly on the page. I feel good about this one. There is always a lot to work but it’s work I know and understand and feel satisfied by.
I am also designing two additional projects which I am not at liberty to write about yet. They go on the list as incubatorial thoughts. New and fun and harmless and indulgent. I write “make stuff” under the header. Cool, I will.

I teach again in January at OCAC. The class is about meeting your creative self and designing a collection. It’s part fashion, part therapy and it’s awesome. I write OCAC on the page. I also write “keep it in mind” which means I will never be able to cross this one off the list.

And lastly, there’s me. My body, my social needs, my temperamental mind. I’m sick. And it sucks. I feel unattractive, for every good reason, and frustrated at not being able to hike or swim or go dancing. I hover over a hot tea jar and provide dating advice to those in need. I’ve been wearing the same outfit for four days. All black.
I write on the list- Body/Mind/Sprit. Because I do this too. And I treasure this entry because it makes everything above not only possible but more enjoyable.

The list is complete, my tea jar needs to be refilled, it’s time to do the work. Goodbye for now.

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Open House, Open Arms

November 11, 2013

You know what? You should come over sometime. Let me warm the house for your arrival. Let me fuss over you and make you tea and select a stack of curated Filly garments that best suit you and your life. Private appointments now available at my home studio in beautiful Northeast Portland.

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Just About Perfect

November 8, 2013

It’s a grey day, let me establish that right off the bat. Still, a hot toddy at 3:30 is unusual for me at any hour let alone the middle of the day. The cafe has vintage Tom Petty playing- Here Comes My Girl, sigh. I’ve got the beginnings of a collection before me. Heat, either from the whiskey, the Petty or the color cards and remedial sketches has my cheeks flushed. My heart has a crush on this moment.

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Hello Again

November 8, 2013

Hello again old friend. I can now call you that because I have left and returned and you are still here. So now you have become a steady, with your muted cloud and industrious neighbors and ramshackle house holding five lives. You are Portland. A town made big, a place to live as good as any other. Here I am, doing just that. Just living.

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Weekday Walk

August 23, 2013

Santa Cruz has erased every good reason to fail.
Failure is mine to chose, take or leave.
Failure is another word for life.
But life is none other.

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And this-

July 28, 2013

Oh, by the way, I finished the stuccos.

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Sun Stucco

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Moon Stucco

Day Long Clouds

July 28, 2013

How do I walk with this heart of mine.

How do I carry such a weight.

Each day there is the possibility and predictability of loss as well as the certainty I’ll encounter more to cherish.

And now carry. And now loose.

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With My Time

July 6, 2013

When I bought my house in Portland I had romantic fantasies about becoming one of those old men living in the mountains who steadily, over the years, at night with an aluminum work light,
silent, odd, meticulous, fixes his old house little by little until he is surrounded by a masterpiece.
But I was too afraid of fucking up to even start.
Now I have a second chance at the fantasy and I’m giving it a real go. I’m not silent and I’m certainly not odd by Santa Cruz standards, but I am “working on my house” except that my house is multiple houses and now, with the start of a demo job, two more.

One three bedroom turn-of-the-century house
Two two bedroom stuccos
One longhouse (community kitchen and bath)
One A-frame cabin
One square-frame cabin
One trailer
+
The demolition of an old barn and house built with square nails and sided in vertical 1×12 redwood boards.

My hands are so sore at the end of the day that I let them dangle off the chair arms like rubber gloves.

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July 4th

July 4, 2013

Dads love a good fireworks show.

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Tidbit

June 14, 2013

I got these pants at an antique faire.
They are my go-to. Ample and billowy, elastic waist, subtly gathered cuff, floral and soft.
At the end of a work day I unlatch my overalls and let them fall, unimpeded, down to the floor. I step out carefully. They are stiff and coated in toxic dust, patches of paint, oil and sunscreen.
I like to stand naked in my work boots and spin around. An air shower.
I then reach for my go-to: the pants paired with a transparent yellow tank. I ride away in my civilian disguise.

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Snooze

June 12, 2013

It’s gotten to that point. Scrubbed, painted, sanded. One stucco is ready to roll.
Now it just needs something to roll on.

I am looking for full sized mattresses.
I’ll trade you a night in the stucco (it’s a vacation!)

Just thought I’d ask.
I know it’s boring.

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Mark This Page

June 11, 2013

The last time I noticed this was when I dropped out of law school and became a bike messenger. “I’m happy” I wrote in my journal with a star at the top of the page and a reference guide inside the front cover “You are happy, 6-15-99″
On that day, it says, “I rode all day”,
When I left law school I ceased to worry about returning an email or writing a paper or standing (sitting most likely) helplessly by as my body spread and softened. I ceased to worry about deadlines and pleasing people and making money. I have never been a good employee- too opinionated, too concerned with my own pleasurable experience. I am a better boss. And ideally I am a boss of no one but myself. No one above, no one below, just my body and a task.

How similar these days feel. Richly physical, mentally challenging, creative,
practical- important. My famous to-do list contains one word: work. At night I lay down with tight muscles and a slack mind. I deserve to rest and sleep soundly.
I love moving my body. The more I move the happier I am.
Star this page.
I was happy on 6-11-13.
I sanded the floors all day.

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Dude. The floor.

June 7, 2013

Pull up the carpet. Remove the carpet strips, little rusty nails and industrial staples. Chisel free the old tiles. Scrap, scratch and pry off the fossilized black glue. Rent a sander so heavy that only a body builder from the fifties could comfortably wield it. Sand until your lower back seizes up.
Sand some more. Keep sanding.
Now stop. Now stare.
2×6 redwood tongue and groove flooring so rich and straight and proud it makes your heart break. Welcome back to the light dear trees.

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Parachute Review

June 5, 2013

What is a Parachute Party?
Let’s go back to the beginning. Before I was a designer I was a scrappy, golden-hued, Mohawk-ed, pissed off bike messenger. I rode a bike for a living, I fought the good fight against cars and the ill effects car culture has on our daily lives and national politics, I ate stirfries with Braggs and didn’t wear underwear. I had a great life.
But no money.
No one had any money.
So when I returned to Santa Cruz after attending fashion school in San Francisco (thank you most generous father on this earth), I realized that in order to make Filly sustainable, I had to price my designs well above my own income level. I still can’t afford my own clothes and neither can a majority of the women I know. So I began hosting a Friends of Filly party twice a year where I sell previous season items at reduced prices. These parties are famous for their joy and chaos. Oh man! They can be crazy.
About six months ago I realized these parties could happen without me. And that would allow gatherings to occur in places too far for me to travel. And more often than just twice a year. I named these gatherings Parachute Parties to signify that I will not be present, as I am at a Friends of Filly, but the clothes will! Dropped from the sky in boxes too heavy to carry.

If you sign up to be a host you will receive three large boxes of Filly styles to lay out in your living room or hang up along the fence in your backyard… You invite your community of ladyfolk to come over and eat snacks and drink wine and share stories and try on clothes. You, the host, pick out a free item to thank you for your efforts.
It’s simple and streamlined and is going really well! There are boxes circulating in the Portland area and the Bay Area. Openings are available this month. Just let me know and I’ll get you signed up!
emily@fillydesigns.com

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