Monday, September 19, 2011


There is some deranged part of my brain that insists on trying to learn skills that I will never be able to master. In certain areas of my life, I seem to actually gravitate towards activities that I am naturally bad at. What's up with that? I know I will never be good at these activities no matter how much I study or practice, yet I continue the struggle. Ad astra per aspera, one might say, which is Latin for "Look, I went to public school -- I don't know any Latin."

In other words, I got the sewing machine out again.

I'm not sure why sewing has traditionally been considered a woman's art, to be practiced in the domestic domain and not held in the same esteem of other, more manly skills. That shit is hard. And, at least in my experience, sewing involves a lot of swearing. Yet pioneer women, who were not known for their foul mouths, sewed up a storm. Here's how conversations would go if I were a pioneer woman:
David: Ma, shall I light the candle for you, so you can see better while you sew my shirt?
Me: Sure, but I -- now how does this, godammit fuck, I'm going to have to rip out this whole seam. Jesus Christ.
David: You seem to be having problems, Ma.
Me: No shit, Sherlock. And don't call me Ma. It creeps me the fuck out.
So possibly due to some chemical imbalance in my brain that I suspect could be successfully corrected with medication, I decided to sew a hat for my niece, for her birthday. Here is my niece:

She seems worthy of a sewing project, right?

So I undertook what seemed to be a simple fleece hat, easy to make, with the directions extensively documented with photos. Everything went smoothly, until of course I hit a road block. The simple-to-follow directions told me to take a step that didn't seem right to me. After puzzling over it for a while, and unleashing some really quality profanity upon it, I went and begged David to help me. He was also stumped, and we sat there looking at that goddamn hat trying to figure out the next step. I figured the directions just had to be wrong.

Of course, after a whole hour spent trying to figure out what to do, we realized the directions were correct after all. The problem was -- get this -- that David and I didn't properly understand how to turn the hat inside out. Let's see: 12 years of K-12 education for both of us, 4 years of college for both of us, 2 years of graduate school for me...that makes 34 years of combined schooling and we couldn't figure out how to turn the flippin'  hat inside out properly. It's no wonder the Chinese are cleaning our clock, economically. Their kids start learning how to turn hats inside out when they're in kindergarten.

Despite all the frustration, I'm actually quite happy with the end product. See below. (Creepy overall-wearing frog not included.)

The problem is that a little success can be dangerous. Now that I made a hat that turned out well, why not tackle a larger project? But see, that's the kind of thinking that can lead towards disaster. I think it's best that I stay at this level before I move on to a more challenging undertaking. I learned a lot while doing this project, though. And some of what I learned was even about sewing. But mostly it was about profanity.

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