Yesterday was kind of a pain in the rumpus, and I don't even know why. Lots of problems, and deadlines, apparently "corrupted" email software, computers that wouldn't print, and other small irritations all on very little sleep, for me. I had been sleeping really poorly -- I expect others had, as well, around town, because of the heat. The traffic guy on the news said that was true, anyway, which I thought was interesting, that he would know. He can tell by the traffic, of course; when it's hot, and people don't sleep well, they get a late start, and traffic is a mess. It's cooler now, and that is a relief. Last night I was a log.
Thank you for all your kind comments for Aimee yesterday -- I know that she will love reading them. She only knows what a blog is because I have one, I think, and she's not all show-offy like I am -- so I know your kindnesses will be an extra-special treat for a modest, non-blogger like the sweet, shy, extraordinarily sparkling little Aimee.
I liked reading what people had to say about inspiration-after-doldrums, too. I actually don't think about inspiration very much at all; I think it has simply become a . . . habit . . . I follow regularly, because staying inspired is part of my job -- and sometimes, some days, it can be one of the harder parts. Making things, for me and for most of you, I bet, is a part of daily life that is about creativity, and inspiration, and expression -- but I think it's also about what happens to us physically when we are working along. Everything relaxes, blood pressure comes down, breathing slows, we focus in a pleasant, interested way on one thing at a time -- instead of the fourteen things the regular world requires us to focus on as a matter of course, and I'm sorry but some of us are not hardwired to eat lunch/talk on the phone/and drive the car all at the same time, even though it is apparently very, very easy for some people (you know who they are), etc. . . . Not me. One thing for me, possibly (some days) with a side of Ina's parmesan smashed potatoes and a sturdy chair, please.
I'm convinced that our collective interest in re-inventing and re-discovering "old-fashioned" crafts and handmade stuff is about more than just nostalgia; I know it's physically healing, as well. And that's always good, in this hectic, overpacked world. That always works. But there is a big difference between being inspired to make something, and making something when you feel flat, and pinched, and unmoved by the magic you know you've felt before. You need both the magic -- my friend Martha says this is what behaviorists call "flow" (must write that love-letter to Wikipedia) -- and the simple, soothing physical action of the work itself, no?
Sometimes when I've been working too much, or have read too many blogs, or looked at too many magazines, or watched too much fancy TV, I don't feel inspired -- I feel sort of exhausted. I think it's important to protect your own creative energy by blocking everything out, and returning regularly to the source -- the materials of your craft, and your own two hands. I must block out some of the pressure of overstimulation. (You know how sometimes when you pet a cat too much, and she seems to be sort of enjoying it well enough, sort of, but then all of a sudden she'll turn and chomp ya in a wild-eyed, terrifying little frenzy? And you're just like, "Whoa! Nice kitty! Owww! You little . . . [shaking hand]." Like that. Overstimulation. Makes ya grumpy.) Must. Turn. It. All off. And go back to the source.
For me, fabric itself inspires me endlessly -- more than yarn, more than patterns, more than paper, more than other kinds of art supplies, although I like all that stuff well enough. For years after my dad died, I would regularly spend my birthday at the fabric store, alone for most of the time -- just puttering, pondering, picking things out. That day is always one that I just do not know what to do with, and nothing feels right about it, so . . . fabric store. For me, a really big, really good fabric store is the cure for most of what ails me when I feel generally out of sorts with the world.
Yesterday was one of those days -- vague shakiness and a suspected potential for bursting into tears when listening to the '70s radio station -- so to Fabric Depot I headed. After wandering for an hour, I ran into Melissa and Mariko, and it was excellent to see them and visit on that territory, beloved to us all -- you can be sure, for the most part, that anyone else at the fabric store is also probably loving the fabric store, and feeling pretty lucky to be there (unless they are a whimpering child, have a whimpering child, or are an employee -- but even then they're probably feeling pretty lucky to be there).
Oh, it took me forever. I wanted to never leave. As Mariko and Melissa were leaving, I was still circling the bolts -- round two -- "I need more gray/must . . . stay . . . longer." Eight more bolts into the cart later, I took everything back up to the cutting counter where I got an older, experienced quilter for a cutter this time. I loved our conversation. I told her I was making just a simple square patchwork. She suggested that someday, when I felt ready, I might do something more complicated. I said I doubted it. (I said it nicely, but I really do doubt it -- I very much like the squares, honestly.) She nodded agreeably, and said her friend had a rule about making quilts -- the best ones, says she, are Fast, Fun, and Finished. Amen to that! said I, quite happy to be understood. I took out all my fabrics and showed them to her. I was practically doing a jig. I think she actually liked them. I told her my plan. She said, "Now, your style of quilting is what they call 'Folk Art.' " How nice of her was that! To suggest that I had some sort of style! I just had such a good time, in so many ways, at the fabric store yesterday. And I think I got way too much fabric (one of the side effects!).
Anyway, after the fabric store it was the P.O. Which, as you know, is a sure buzz-kill. But you know, there's a certain comfort in knowing that certain things can be counted on to make you feel certain ways. Hence, the wistful title of this post.