Monday, May 23, 2011

Pieces of paper

This weekend I dug out an old folder where I had stashed some writing that I attempted about ten or 12 years ago. We had a computer then, and a printer, but I still tended to write longhand, and the folder is mostly stuffed with pages ripped out of spiral notebooks, but there are a few printed pieces as well.

It is always a strage experience to go back and read those pieces, because I had not yet committed to the notion (though it was always there, lurking) that what I really wanted to write was humor. It kept sneaking in here and there, but I still tried to write very earnest stories, that now seem weak and immature, but which, at the time, seemed to take a gargantuan effort of sweat and mental energy.

But then there was this one piece, a letter from a man in jail to his lawyer. I had a notion that I was going to write a comic novel, entirely in the form of letters, about a small southern town. Naturally, I was heavily influenced by Garrison Keillor as well as the novelist T.R. Pearson, and one letter that never quite got finished is pretty much a sad copy of something I read in Keillor's We Are Still Married. But I did manage to come up with a character named Willard Eckert, a guy who drinks and acts up and causes trouble all over town, but who has a remarkable capacity for blaming everyone else for his indiscretions. He only got one letter, plus a small part of another, but the one that I finished is still one of my favorite things that I've ever written. When I look at that, from over ten years ago, when I was just dabbling in my free time after work, it makes me realize that I am doing exactly what I always wanted and I am grateful to see my work published six times a year. Because I truly love doing it.

I put that piece up on Drollery, which is the blog I have started for my non-quilt-related humor writing.

IN OTHER NEWS: I am a paper-piecing, badass bitch:

I have to admit that one of the most delightful things about paper piecing is that my dad simply cannot wrap his head around it. "You sew on the back? But the stitches don't show on the front? How is that possible?" This is a man who paints, builds scale models (not from kits, mind you) binds books and does pretty much anything you can think of and lots of stuff you can't. And something I can do confounds him? That's like having Einstein go, "You know I'm pretty good at this physics stuff, but your theory of infinitely diminishing fabric is just Way. Over. My. Head."

I did not quilt this at all, but only used fusible fleece to hold it together. It was just too pretty to fuck up with my spastic quilting. Even if my quilting didn't look like feral goats had done it, I'm not sure that it would have added much to it. I worked on the binding outside anytime I needed to sit out and make sure the kids didn't get run over. We live on a cul de sac and don't have much traffic, but what little traffic there is is mostly teenagers and people without kids who clearly think it is a violation of their civil rights to have to drive anything close to the speed limit in their own neighborhood. You can see their faces get red as a mom tries to coax her toddler-on-a-scooter over to the side of the road and they are forced to pause for a full five seconds before tearing into their driveway.

So, whenever my four-year-old wants to go out and ride her scooter or her Big Wheel (which she insists should be called a Small Wheel) I park a chair on the sidewalk so I can see her and any oncoming death missiles. Often, I try to read, but I don't think I have ever gotten past one page. Someone always has a question. This is the Age of Inquiry. "Mom? Can I ride my scooter? Mom? Can I put my left foot on it? Mom? Are there any cookies? Mom? What is the nature of suffering? Mom? What does it mean when you make that motion like you are wrapping something around your neck and then you yank on it and drop your head to the side with your tongue sticking out? Mom? Do spiders poop?"

I am going to hang it up somewhere in my sewing room, and then try to find another wall-hanging-type project. My sewing room walls are woefully bare, except for stuff my kids print out on the computer and tape on the walls at hip level.

Oh! And. I have decided that this will not be called Boobs and Vampires 2: Electric Boogaloo, but will instead be known as Alexander, Jr. Because it is as though this:

and this:

made sweet, sweet love and had a baby. Yes, anytime I make something I find particularly comely I will imagine that my fabric had sex with an absurdly attractive man. And then I will imagine that Einstein himself could not conceive of how I created it. And then I'll go back to imagining the sex. And then I'll..."Mom? Why does that man have his shirt off? Mom? Why do you have that funny look on your face? Mom? Do squids have ears?"

No comments: