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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Life is Changing: Where does Lolita Fit In Now?

I am very pleased to announce to the blogging world that I have obtained full-time employment as a high school art teacher for the Kimberly Center in Davenport, IA. I feel that landing this job had a lot to do with luck and who I knew, though.

I student taught in Davenport this past winter, at both an elementary school and a high school. The principal I worked with at the elementary school had observed me teach, given me a mock interview, and wrote me a letter of recommendation. After being hired on by JB Young I got a phone call from this principal telling me she was moving to the Kimberly Center, and asked if she could interview me for a full-time position. Since I had not yet signed any contract that would place me in comittment to JB, I happily accepted to offer for an interview, which on the same day turned into an offer for a job.

In the span of one month and three weeks since graduation, I have landed full-time eployment in my career field of choice, put a deposit down on an aprtment, purchased furniture, and put my notice in to Woodlawn that I would be moving on (although they're determined to have me come back to do Japanese and Princess Academy in the summer). Things feel like they're happening so fast because...well...they are, and at times I find myself very stressed and overwhelmed. But despite the stress, I am aware of how lucky and blessed I am to be in this position, because not many fresh college graduates receive this type of opportunity (and of the four art education majors in the Augie class of '11, I'm the first and, as far as I know, only one who's gotten a job). I also have a great support system of family and friends to thank for their well-wishes, encouragement, and listening ear for when I need to vent.

Now, amidst all the excitement of beginning my adult life, I can't help but wonder what will become of the lolita aspect of myself? My budget will be very tight for a while, so my spending on new frills will be at a standstill until I have a good system worked out and am settled in (which could be a few months or over a year). My involvement with the community will also be affected, in that I won't be able to make more than a couple Chicago meetups a year, and local meetups that are on the pricier side I may have to back out of more often.

The other thing that has a strong possibility of changing is how often I wear lolita.

Before the end of the school year, I would dress up around once a week, mainly because I had a community to dress up and go do things with. Since the summer began I've only worn lolita a handful of times outside of Princess Academy classes. This is mainly because: 1. I have no one to dress up with, 2. there is never much of a reason to dress up in the first place, and 3. lolita makes my parents uncomfortable, and rather than whining about how they "just don't understand" I respect their concerns and try not to wear it around them too much.

Going into a full-time teaching career will have a greater bearing on how often I dress up as well, for the obvious reasons that lolita is not work appropriate, and there will be a small and constant worry of running into a student or a student's parents when I'm dressed up. This latter concern is one of the reasons I chose to live 20 minutes from where I teach. My students don't need to see me in a fluffy dress any more than they need to see me at a grocery store buying alcohol. Furhermore, where I am working is an alternative high school, so I need to make a much greater effort in seperating my personal life from my professional life if I ever want to gain respect and authority in the classroom.

***

While chatting with a friend the other night about all of this, he said, "Well, maybe it's time you think about leaving lolita soon. After all, you know you can't do this forever." My friend has a valid point, I will admit, but leaving something that has basically become a normal part of your life and an outlet through which you met some of your closest friends is more difficult than one would think. But at the same time, where will it fit into my life now that I'm beginning the next chapter?

Guess that's just something I'll figure out as I go.

~Loli-Sensei~

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teach Pretty Spotlight: Lauri Eggert

This week I had the great opportunity to interview one of my close friends, Lauri Eggert, who has recently been diagnosed with stage one stomach cancer. As a fellow lolita in the community, I was curious as to how this unfortunate matter would effect her in terms of the fashion and her involvement in the community itself, and I was even more curious to know more about the cancer and how she was dealing with her situation. Below are my interview questions and her responses.

Lauri and myself (with a lovely photobomb from our friend Lyz! XD)


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Let's see. I'm 28. Eternally young at heart though. I love cute things like unicorns, plushes, glitter, balloons. I also love the strange and macabre. I would need a whole other interview just to say everything about me : )

2. When did you discover lolita?
It was May 2009 at Anime Central. I fell in love with these girls wearing ruffly dresses and eating ice cream together. I wanted in! Unfortunately I was married to a man who was less than enthusiastic about the fashion: told me it was childish and fetishistic. Needless to say I am no longer with that man. My first real attempt at Lolita was in august 2010 at the First Midwest Lolita meet and greet.

3. Why do you dress in lolita?
I like how I feel in it. Both elegant and pretty but also fun and whimsical.

4. Do you have a favorite style or brand?
I mainly dress in sweet/bittersweet but I also love gothic, kuro, shiro, and punk. I don't own any brand currently but I do like Angelic Pretty and some prints by Alice and the Pirates line.

5. You were unfortunately recenetly diagnosed with stomach cancer, although you had been struggling with intestinal problems for a few months. Can you explain the progession that your body went through from the beginning of your pain to your diagnosis?
 It all started probably in late April of this year. I've been having constant bouts of painful diarria, side and back pain, fever, exhaustion, general stomach troubles and I lost 20 lbs in one month. I had a CT scan to ensure my appendix was okay. Then, after visiting a GI, I had a colonoscopy and endoscopic surgery to remove parts of my stomach, gallbladder and pancreas. It wasn't until June 28th that I was diagnosed with stage one stomach cancer after freaking out cause I found blood in my stool.

6. Can you give us a few details on stomach cancer itself (the stage and what that means, what stomach cancer can do to the body, how it's being treated, etc - basically any info on the disease itself).
Stomach cancer is a scary form of cancer. It kills about 80,000 people a year! Usually by the time it's detected it's usually in the last stages. I was very lucky and pushed and pushed for more tests so I was diagnosed early. I am in stage one of the disease. I have a polyp that is cancerous in the left side of my stomach. It's also called carcinoma in situ, it's mainly in my muscle tissue. In the stage I'm in, it causes all the symptoms I explained above and others like poor appetite and poor nutritional absorption caused by poor diet. Stomach cancer can be caused by many things: genetics, smoking, abusing alcohol/drugs, environment, etc. Unfortunately I was just unlucky.

Im gonna go through 6 rounds of chemo. I'm lucky were my chemo is just shots in my stomach and not the normal intraveinous 8 hour long treatments. I have had one treatment so far ( as of July 4) and I'll be getting 3 more before the months over. I have an IV put in my arm for fluids and pain killers. Ever half an hour I get 5 shots put in my stomach. Then blood tests and X-rays. It's roughly a 2 hour doctors visit. On the 12th I'll be taking a pill camera ( a tiny camera I will swallow) to make sure my polyp hasn't gone into my bowels and then on the 18th im having an endoscopic ultrasound on top of them removing some of the polyp.

7. And how are you handling the treatement? Do you require any special accomodations to deal with the pain you've been in?
Dealing with cancer is an ordeal to say it bluntly. I was and still am an emotional wreck. I worry about losing my friends, my boyfriend, my life in all this. I really need to try to keep a positive outlook though. No one likes a mope : ) I currently take 4 pain killers a day to help me eat and help subside the pain. I'm physically very exhausted and cold, so I take more naps and wear more clothing than normal. Not fun when it's the summer.

8. Since you are being treated with chemo, there is a chance you will lose your hair, as well as a bit of weight. How does this effect you in regards to your own self-image, and your involvement in lolita fashion?
Oh my hair! That was honestly the first thing I cried about. Normally I don't care at all what people think about me: I'm tattooed, pierced, dress weirdly etc. But I like expressing myself through my hair. Yes, there are wigs but something about creating magic within your own hair is wonderful and artistic. I'm already roughly 100 lbs by the time this is done I might be close to 90. It's a little scary. With my current money situation I may not be able to afford new Lolita garments so I will have to make due with what I have, try to pin items snuggly etc.

To add on... It's also nerve wrecking to think of what the girls in my comm will think. Will they say I look ugly? Freakish? It is a thought that I do think about often.

9. Do you think that your illness will effect your involvement with the Chicago Lolita Community? Do you hope to remain as heavily involved as you have been, or take a break until you recover?
 I'm gonna try very hard to keep as active as I am in the Lolita community. I love my ladies in my comm, they give me much joy and I think they'll help me through this process. I may miss one or 2 meet ups but that may be caused by exhaustion or stomach ailments after chemo.

10. What message do you have for lolitas with cancer?
My message is to please keep upbeat! Im gonna try to take my own advice too. Positive thinking helps in the worst situations. Lean on your family and friends, they are there for you. Even if they don't understand they care. And don't blow up at people for asking how you're doing. People care. I know you'll be sick of saying how you are every 5 minutes.

11. Any messages for lolitas who are friends or family members of people fighting cancer?
Please be supportive. Listen. Hugs, cuddles etc. All we (I) want at this moment is a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold or an ear to listen. Let that person know you care about them often- there will be moments when they will feel all is lost and want to give up. A card or tiny nonsensical gift is nice too. Okay, material goods sounds greedy but sometimes that item us a wonder. I carry a stuffed unicorn with me to my doctors visits. It helps.

12. If there was only one specific thing you wanted readers to take away from this interview, what would that be?
Life is short. Things happen that are horrible. Let the people you love, know that you love them.

13. Anything else you'd like to add?
 I hope someone somewhere will take from this interview a bit of medical info and a bit of sparkly goodness that is me *^_^*

I am very grateful to Lauri for taking the time to answer my questions and share a little bit about herself and her situation with Teach Pretty! For anyone interested, she is currently writing a blog on her fight against stomach cancer: http://dinosaurcupcake.blogspot.com

As always, thank you for reading, and keep checking back for updates. I'm very pleased to see that I've lept from 4 to 10 followers here! Thank you very much for your support, everyone!

~Loli-Sensei~