blaugust #14: artifact.

Last night I was scrolling through my draft blog posts in search of some things I could finish up and use for Blaugust. It’s pretty slim pickings in there, to be honest. Most of it was a couple of photos with no text (deleted all those), and some poems I’m collecting for next year’s National Poetry Month. There were a couple of things that I thought could be interesting, and then there was this little snippet of a list:

in the past year I have:

gone 36 hours without food only to eat 3 full meals in 4 hours.

done without milk/peanut butter/laundry detergent in order to buy silver/beads/bubble mailers.

spilled tomato sauce on my ottoman and liked the resulting color story so much I went back to work before cleaning it up.

watched 19 straight episodes of Dark Shadows while preparing inventory for holiday sales.

worn the same pair of pajama pants from Monday-Thursday. WHAT.

claimed deep tissue massages as a business expense.

Well, that’s interesting. I have no idea how long ago I wrote this, or what I was planning to do with it. This blog originally lived on a blogger site, and when I ported all of it over to WordPress, the drafts came too, but their dates didn’t survive. So what year was this when I went without groceries and was utterly slovenly in the service of color? The draft had a title – “My name is Kateri & I’m a crafter” – but that doesn’t tell me anything about where I was going with the post, or what else might have been on that list.

It did make me think about how the life of making has changed for me in the last few years, though. I’m much better at self care than I was when I started out in small business. I’m careful to eat (mostly) healthy food at almost regular intervals. I’m better at budgeting, and have also been in business long enough to have a pretty substantial supply inventory. I don’t offer what I can’t produce with materials on hand, so although there are still some very thin months, I don’t go without peanut butter in order to keep stocked. My day job now is so much different than it was when this was written, and I no longer have summers off or two week holiday breaks.

Other things remain the same. If Dark Shadows was still on Netflix, you can bet I’d still be marathoning it while I work (there’s never any chance of running out of Dark Shadows, there are 9 frillion nearly identical episodes). If I get four uninterrupted days at home, I am definitely wearing the same pajama pants the entire time. There’s even a word for this now, thanks to Shawn Hampton: pajampion. (That’s actually a good dating device for this draft post – it must predate the word pajampion, or I’d have used it there. So no later than 2010 by the linguistic yardstick.)

There is no way on earth I’d leave a tomato sauce spill in situ now, as the tiny ants that plague Portland would be all over it. Honestly, I can’t really imagine doing it then, either – I may have exaggerated that one for effect, who knows. Not the spill, I spill everything all the time. But leaving it while I made something might have been made up.

My takeaway from this is that the life of making is messy and compelling. It takes your time. It makes you forget time. It teaches you to care more for the thing you make than for your own body. The thing you make feeds you just as surely as food, and it is necessary sustenance. And it makes order out of chaos. From all the tumbled stashes of materials, a steady thread of coherent design is woven. I can see it stretching from that draft post to this one, from that home in Chicago to this one in Portland, from the thing I make now to the thing I will make ten years from now.

As I write this, I’m surrounded by piles of messy making supplies. Part of my plan for this weekend is to do a proper clean and sort so that I can start on new work for fall with a fair idea of what I have to work with. But not too much, not too clean. The work lives in there, and it’s my happy job to dig it out.

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