I’m a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. That’s what kind of man I am. You’re just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It’s science.
“He’s like the fucking Terminator!” my husband takes me aside and whispers to me as we put away clothes in the kids’ room.
Ralph is talking about our son, who recently acquired a craft book from our library and is single-mindedly going through it and making everything he can (or as Ralph describes him, is “a shark riding on an elephant’s back, just trampling and eating everything he sees”); I may have mentioned the other day as I struggled with euthanizing my beloved life-companion kitty, Nels was preoccupied mostly with building a clock using supplies from the vet’s). The point: Little Guy is focused. In the last week or so – and with little assistance – our son has plowed through a magnetic fishing game (with the most beautiful hand-painted fish), a wooden pyramid stacking puzzle (two actually – one for our house and one for our friends’ upcoming twins), a pillow with removable flower applique motif (he kept me up all hours helping him with this poly felt monstrosity, ugh!), a velcro tic-tac-toe game, numerical wooden math blocks with a wooden box to house them, and some paper fastener puppets. Oh, and the clock. THE CLOCK. I want to punch the clock in the face because it was the Biggest Deal Ever for a day and a half.
My son’s intent reminds me of last summer’s music instrument obsession: the lesson I learned there was really two-fold: A. my son is awesome and incredibly self-directed, and B. he doesn’t want to own things, he wants to make them.
Now, I am – like many good Americans – a shopper. I love to buy things! It gives me this happy feeling and instant gratification! So a few months ago when Nels made a cigar-box guitar I went and looked up cigar box guitars because my first instinct was to buy buy buy my son one because he’d love it so much (oops! in this case; they can be a bit more dear than I’d realized). Nels had to patiently tell me: I don’t need you to buy it, I already made it, and now I want to make a violin, and I need your quilting ruler.
And it’s funny, because I do like to buy, even if most of my buying power revolves around groceries. Despite the impracticality of such fantasy purchases I surf Etsy like a porn addict; I fantasize about our bi-monthly trips to Olympia where I squirrel away fabric when our spending plan permits. So in some way it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this child who wants to make the thing – to think of it, to picture it in his mind and forge it with his own mettle and ingenuity – especially when the thing he makes isn’t going to be as high quality as the “real” thing (he is convinced he is creating the “real” thing – and really it occurs to me: he is).
But upon further inspection, actually, what Nels gets up to these days makes a whole heck of a lot of sense, especially this last handful of hours or so as I’ve been realizing: we’re a family of Makers.
Of course – I sew. I sew daily, when I can and when life does not conspire against me. And I sew when it’s “cheaper” to furnish clothing thusly (sometimes it is) and when it’s more expensive (often, sort of, and I mean to write more about this soon), and I sew almost compulsively because I love the process. I get joy from picturing what something could be, and then making it happen. I fucking love this! Because I can do it! And so many people can’t! Or won’t!
In the vein of Making – I write (lots!), even when I’m not officially writing (rare). Over my life (since I picked up a pencil, really) I have been told, suggested to, advised, and repeatedly harassed to monetize my writing (right). My writing is my record, it is my body of work. It matters to me if it doesn’t matter to anyone else, EVAR (although I am often assured it does). My writing matters to me because I make it, not because it gets translated into currency, not because other people deem it Good (it isn’t really, or rather, lots of people do a lot better). I won’t stop writing as long as I’m able.
And of course, I make food. I mean I don’t just open cans and mix it or heat it up, I really, really make it (we grow food too, now that I think of it – a kind of Make in itself). I make food not because it’s cheaper (it often is) or “healthier” (it often is) but because it feels like Love to cook. It feels like I am creating Love and putting it to my family and friends. Now, lots of people can’t make food, or for whatever reason prefer to buy – pre-made grocery stuff, or restaurant fare, depending on their socio-economic status and proclivities. Fine with me: “Making” takes a lot of time. In fact, some days I feel like all I do is make, clean, make, clean, make, clean, fall down on the couch and get tight watching B-movies. Because apparently I can’t stop making, even if in my mind I think of myself as being a kind of aimless person, prone to laziness and rather unoriginal (all of which may be true).
But I do love to make things – so much, and maybe that’s why I gravitate to fellow Makers. Because what’s funny is, when I think about liking to Buy I discover upon further inspection the things I want to purchase are OOAK, as they say – not crafted by machine or slave-labor empire churning out products of sameness but rather individual awesomeness built by people – Makers!
My partner is a Maker, too. Besides the fact he can build computers and chicken coops (I call it the Chicken Shanty! He literally hates me for this!) and shelves and cold frames and websites and draw just about anything and is a heck of a graphic artist (which he does, gratis, and in tiny little breaks of his very busy life), he makes music. No really, he makes it! He doesn’t play other people’s! He thinks of it then it comes out of his face and guitar! Does anyone else find this amazing enough to warrant all these exclamation marks! Because I do!!!
And on that note, let me add that the Hogabooms have been a bit uncomfy of late, and in thinking this whole business over I’m seeing why. We do not have a craft space set up for the kids (and the grown-ups), and my sewing room has a positive dearth of shelves so stuff is stacked and falling over, and even though FAWM officially starts today, we have not figured out where/how Ralph will be recording. Last night we purchased – with money not yet in hand, but yet to be earned – a few bits to make shelves for our son and his craft supplies, because they are taking over our (ill-furnished) little house and it’s making me crazy. And I’m thinking that Ralph and I have to move over a bit, because our kids are wanting to build, create, express themselves in the same ways they’ve grown up around.
Oh, and: THE CLOCK. Jeebus, the clock. Nels did a live upload to YouTube, which is why the audio and video are out of sync. But I’m sure you can see the awesomeness nevertheless: