get out the pencils, put away the thread

I’ve completely forgotten how to write and I don’t have any ideas about anything.

I do, however, have a collection of crafts and a pile of new gadgets. I got teased by most of my friends, but I couldn’t help it. Pencils down, hobbies up.

During the strike, I was often reminded of an Onion piece that came out after 9/11: “Not Knowing What Else To Do, Woman Bakes American Flag Cake.”

I knitted scarves. I sewed dresses, shirts, blouses, and fabric scarves (named “Scarfish,” and also declared both “uncomfy” and “weird.” But the first one I made, for Anna Beth, was a huge success, because it got the AB Chao stamp of approval).

I made little fabric dolls for a friend’s 35th birthday, catnip-filled toys, hand-embroidered bags (one was my strike bag — small enough to wear every day while picketing), skirts, and passport covers. Yes, passport covers. Also, I learned that ripped t-shirts don’t make very good fabric for knitting, unless you are making some kind of floor rug.

I made a book sculpture, a jar full of japanese paper stars, and on one particularly low day I attempted origami swans.

I made a nightgown. It was supposed to be a dress, but it ended up being too flimsy. (Rafael: “So, let me get this straight. You’re making homemade cat toys and housedresses? You’re making it so you never have to leave the house. You know that, right? Doesn’t that concern you?”)

I worked on my guitar skillz. They appear to be exactly where they were one year ago. If I don’t pay for lessons, I’m gonna be stuck strumming that same one Weezer song forever.

I made a dress for AB out of a vintage sheet by recreating a muslin dress we found in the remnants box at a fabric store that was already perfect for her size and shape. (It seemed less crazy when AB was also making crafts-a-minute. Where I’m fast, she’s fastidious, so her stuff always comes out much better than mine.)

I drew pictures. I took pictures. I ordered all manner of things online. I became fluent in Zakka. I decoupaged Chris Ware poster recreations of his New Yorker covers onto canvas, painted over them with a purple wash and then a grey wash, and then I hung them over the couch. I have plans and equipment for a book altering, but I still haven’t gotten brave enough to attempt it. I love books too much to cut them.

I rearranged the furniture. More than once. I downloaded podcasts of Spanish lessons. And meditation lessons. And I listened to them. I downloaded free patterns, and I made things from them. I got “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” stuck in my head. I baked. I baked for others. I watched a lot of Netflix while sewing, knitting, stitching, or folding paper.

I altered a vintage jumper — shortening the hemline, dropping the neckline, yanking out the elastic waistband, added buttons and a piece of a rice bag on the pocket, and stitched a Foo Fighters patch onto the back. I altered sweaters into cardigans, made headbands, and stitched up more than one patchwork pillow.

Oh, right. And I bought a vintage dressmakers form on eBay. Because I didn’t seem crazy enough. After I cleaned it and adjusted it to my size, I dressed it in one of my dresses so it didn’t seem like a creepy doll in the corner. Instead, looks like another version of me in the corner, which is still kinda creepy. The good news is most people don’t appear to be freaked out when they see it. But that’s because in the split-second decision of deciding whether to watch a cat get an insulin shot or stare uncomfortably at an old torso on a stick, three out of four visitors choose TorsoStick.

I don’t have Anna Beth to keep me occupied with flea markets and crossword puzzles. Instead I make pajama pants for my friends out of vintage sheets. “Comfy Pants,” they have been named. But they’re only really comfy for super-thin girls. The ones with curves find themselves with low-waist pajama pants, and who wants butt-crack with their late-night pajama parties? The point is, I’m still working on the pattern.

Right now I have a pair of pants pinned and ready for hemming, a frame that’s awaiting a paint job, and two pillowcases I said I’d alter for Sara for her weird tempur-pedic pillows. Not to mention the bag I finished for my sister that needs to be mailed to Connecticut…but I wanted to make another one first because I don’t think the bag came out all that fantastic and I’m better now after practicing. See, when my sister found out I was going through a sewing phase, she asked, “Can you make me a long skirt? But um, before you do, can you like, practice? Because that scarf you gave me years ago is weird.”

In my defense, she asked to keep a practice scarf I’d learned how to knit on. I’m much better than that now. But all her friends think her sister gives really shitty homemade gifts.

And obviously, I got a camera. I eBayed a fancy AB-style camera with a fantastic deal because it got to where I had run out of all possible hobbies and in order to keep my time and hands occupied, I either had to get a camera, or a baby. And I don’t care how long you’ve been on strike, it’s still wrong to steal a baby.

Honestly, if the strike was to continue much longer, there’s no telling what would happen. (Answer: Cal would be wearing a knit sweater; I would go on the road in a fake rock band while making a tarp out of vintage sheets for the tour bus at night.)

So, here’s to complaining soon that I don’t have any free time. Too much homemade productivity can be a bad thing. If the strike continues, and I don’t steal a baby, I will end up attempting to make my own underwear. And you know that won’t turn out as good as it looks in my head.

Yay, WGA. Vote early, and vote often.

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