February 10, 2009

A visit to my Happy Place.

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:00 am by the Green-Eyed Siren

Well, friends, my near-nervous breakdown rendered me incapable of posting over the weekend. I knew that my next public statement had damn well better be of a cheery sort, lest I drive away all five of you forever (bless you, devoted readers!) with continuing freakouts over all things globally economic. Unfortunately, the shit-losing moment which led to my “Communism is Nigh” announcement did not  subside for several days and I was unable to think a single frivolous thought with which to entertain you. Upon reading my blog my mother-in-law told Mr. Unfocused he’d better arrange to get me some uppers.

But pill popping is so not my style; I tend to need convincing to take so much as a Tylenol when running a fever of 101. As a result I was in need of some other form of forced happiness. Saturday night turned out to be a bust because I spent it reluctantly preparing to teach my first Sunday School lesson since high school. (I’m an extremely cranky and skeptical Sunday School teacher. Fortunately, the lesson was cancelled due to lack of children, which is almost certainly for the best.) Sunday brunch at the diner didn’t work out for logistical reasons. A friend emailed a YouTube video of laughing quadruplets; while it’s extremely cute, even that was insufficient to do the job. Clearly I needed a very potent form of intervention.

As so frequently happens in life (well, not mine, but in the lives of really nice people anyway) that intervention came to me while doing a Good Deed. (Unrelated to Sunday School, and in defiance of my other natural tendencies to laziness and selfishness. Keep in mind that I make no claims to any personality traits other than cantankerousness. I don’t want one good deed and conscription as a Sunday School teacher to give you the wrong impression of me here.)

But back to the uncharacteristic Good Deed: I had in my possession a misdelivered letter. The post office, misreading a zero as a nine, deposited said letter at Stately Unfocused Manor rather than its intended destination exactly nine blocks south. If I trusted the post office to actually take the letter to its rightful home I would have just stuck it in my mailbox marked “MISDELIVERED” in a Sharpie marker. In our experience, however, that sort of thing does not tend to work out well around here—plus it looked like it might be a check or something, and the houses nine blocks away are home to folks who possibly can’t afford to have a check floating around any longer than necessary. It seemed like just running it over after dropping the kids off would be the right thing to do, not such a very big deal, although it was out of my way—going 9 city blocks tends to involve a lot of stop signs and red lights and a less than direct route.

So it was a tiny bit of a hassle, but Good Deeds occasionally pay dividends, and mine came in the form of Divine Inspiration as I toodled around looking for the house. Wasn’t I not all that unreasonably far from the fabric store my good friend told me about recently? Quick check on the iPhone: why, yes, it’s not very far at all! And wasn’t I just thinking the other day about how I really needed to try to find Insul-Bright interfacing for those oven mitts I’m making (you know, when I get around to them)? Oh, and didn’t I promise to get fabric to make a Chinese dragon costume for Unfocused Junior’s home use, since he went so Chinese New Year crazy after hearing about it in school? Excellent! Drop off that letter, get back to the main artery, go another mile or so east and I’m there!

I must detour a moment to explain that while I generally don’t enjoy shopping I do love fabric stores. The fabric store—any fabric store—is my Happy Place. I’ve been going to fabric stores since I was a little kid, when I hung out there with my mom. You may have noticed my mom; she turns up in my comments a lot. Teaching me to sew was only one of the very cool things she did for me when I was a kid (thanks, mom!). Wisely wanting me to learn the basics before investing a lot of money in an expensive fabric or pattern, she directed me to simple things for a long time. But after a few disastrous attempts at fashion creations (parachute pants among them, I believe) I decided, “Screw this!” and hauled my teenaged self over to the fabric store by bicycle (the farthest I had ever ridden my bike) to buy a Vogue pattern (Calvin Klein!) and some fabric (with birthday money), from which I constructed a beautiful tailored jacket, which hangs in my closet to this day, a symbol of what I can accomplish when I set my mind to it.

I’ve done a lot of sewing since, including making my own wedding dress, but the reality is that I don’t sit down and sew nearly as often as I should. In truth, what I tend to do instead is go to the fabric store. This is the best explanation for why I currently have at least 50 yards of fabric folded and piled neatly (well, somewhat neatly) in my basement. I also have a minimum of twenty uncut patterns included in my vast lifetime pattern collection; unfulfilled dreams all.

My fabric piles include yardage I purchased in September 2007 to make skirts for myself, but I was caught in a Catch-22 brought on by the classic yo-yo weight dilemma: I delayed making the skirts when I was in a weight-dropping phase because I didn’t want to make them until I hit bottom (why go to the effort only to be unable to wear them when I’m fabulously thin?), then I went straight into a weight-gaining phase that has pretty much eliminated those successes; now, naturally, I don’t want to make them when I’m too heavy. There is also sufficient home decorating fabric to redo a small 3 bedroom house. It was intended for use in the shared family beach house, but the plan was aborted when I became too daunted by the prospect of selling the vision (delusion?) to the rest of the family.

Um…what else? Oh, right: fabric for some fleece pants for the kids, fabric for a couple of knit shirts for me, fabric to make some stuffed doodads to donate to the school’s holiday craft sale. Oh, and fabric currently in process of being made into a selection of kitchen-related items as part of a wedding gift for a couple who were married last October (wondering: do gifts that have a handmade component justify an extension on the present-giving deadline?). And of course that’s not even talking about the yarn that’s all over the place. I barely qualify as a knitter and yet I appear to have enough wool around here to clothe a flock of bare-assed sheep.

Yes, my Happy Place. How did I not think of it before? In the fabric store I can find temporary reprieve from the most pressing anxieties, making it the ideal destination following my freakout weekend.

I arrived fully committed to surrendering myself to its soothing properties; even Toni Tennille warbling “Muskrat Love” over the Muzak system was not enough to drive me away. I wandered the aisles, thinking about colors and patterns and projects, soothing myself by petting the fleece and caressing the faux suede. So many possibilities, all taking shape in my mind’s eye! I Tweeted furiously, joyfully, as I pushed my cart methodically through the aisles. Still, I was well aware of the lifetime of projects already awaiting me at home, so I tried to be as restrained as possible. I need to make sure my giant fabric pile keeps whispering “possibility” and doesn’t start hissing “failure.”

Two hours later, I left the store in a cheerful, bouncy mindset having done significantly less damage than I expected: two yards of home decorating fabric to make a tote bag out of some remnants my friend gave me (yes, I know that sounds crazy), five yards of quilters’ cotton to make that Chinese dragon (don’t ask me how, because I have no idea), and, of course, two yards of Insul-Bright for the oven mitts. Plus some zippers. And webbing for the bag handles. Oh, and a few crafty things for the kids. Because they drive me insane with their insatiable (genetically driven, naturally) desire for projects.

Some people have therapists. They see them regularly and pay them a ton of money. I respect that and know that I would probably be doing myself a favor if I did the same. But I suspect that until Mr. Unfocused decides I’ve taken a swan dive off the deep end, or possibly when my mother-in-law makes a very convincing case that it truly is time for those uppers, I will continue visiting my Happy Place. It ain’t always cheap, but it’s a hell of a lot less expensive than therapy. And the best part is that it allows me to keep a healthy stock of dreams piled neatly (or not-so-neatly) in the basement, where I can visit them whenever I like.



  1. freshhell said,

    Actually, any store piping in Muskrat Love gets bonus points in my book. I might actually break out in a smile if I heard that song. It’s so much better than “Country Music Day” at the grocery store.

  2. Pickle Horwitz said,

    Sorry to hear that it was a difficult weekend. Here’s hoping your happy place continues kindling.

    Very cool about the jacket that sits in your closet. Would love to see it.

  3. Green Eyed Siren's Mom said,

    I think it’s good that you have all of that fabric piling up. Think of poor Scarlett O’Hara. The world came crashing down around her and all she could do was pull down the draperies to make a new dress.

    I think that a judicious stockpiling of fabric is a good strategy in these times. In a worst case scenario, you could probably trade fabric for bread. Maybe you need to make another trip to your “Happy Place”.

  4. Mom, the truly crazy thing is that I actually did think of poor Scarlett O’Hara as I wandered the fabric aisles, and used her drapery dress as partial justification for my purchases. But I don’t think current clothing trends lend themselves as well to home decorating fabrics as did post-Civil War era fashion.

    Pickle: I’ll try to post a picture of my jacket in a follow-up.

    freshhell: I’m afraid I’ve never heard “Country Music Day,” but I must say that if it makes “Muskrat Love” sound very, very appealling in comparison I think I won’t be taking steps to address that particular deficiency of music education!

  5. freshhell said,

    It’s just the day the grocery store decides to pipe in all country music. Worse still, it’s contemporary country music. Usually, it’s motown or 60’s music. Some days I’m lucky and I get a hodgepodge of 70’s and 80’s hits.

  6. Green Eyed Siren's Mom said,

    Yes, I confess that today’s fashion trends don’t lend themselves to home decorating fabrics. You will probably end up looking like the Von Trapp family from the Sound of Music, but at that point, I don’t think anyone will care.

  7. The Lass said,

    If you can’t share your shit-losing moments with the great unwashed of the internet, what good are they? I have lots of unfinished embroidery projects but sometimes just looking through the supplies brightens my mood – they represent the promise of something to do when I need a mindless task to calm me down.

  8. harri3tspy said,

    Your post has reminded me of something I keep forgetting to tell you. I walked by our old building a couple of weeks ago and looked for our windows. Even though there have been at least two owners since then, the curtains you helped me make are still hanging in the windows!

  9. Oh, dear God. I sure hope someone actually took the time to hem them eventually…

  10. Jeanne said,

    My sheers have been unhemmed by kitten claws. I wish I knew how to sew!
    I loved the comment about presenting yourself as a Sunday school teacher. I occasionally laugh about that, too. I spent 5 years teaching Sunday school when my kids were in it, as part of my attempt to become more of a believer. Didn’t really work for me. But now the kids have some cultural religious background, plus if they don’t get a reference I get to say “didn’t your Sunday school teacher teach you ANYTHING?”

  11. harri3tspy said,

    Don’t worry! I hemmed them long ago!

  12. chel said,

    Nothing wrong with a little extra fabric. It takes up less space than my desire for really cool office supplies or my affection for the container store. Someday I WILL get organized.

  13. andrew said,

    My first visit here and I am rewarded with a reference to “Muskrat Love.” I can only consider myself lucky. Thank you, Green-Eyed Siren.

  14. Hmm…lucky that it wasn’t “Love Will Keep Us Together”? How about that Debby Boone classic, “You Light Up My Life”?

  15. Unfocused Me said,

    You shouldn’t mock Debby Boone. The intertubes have ears.

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