Cross-stitch is not for the weak

While I was in Chicago recently for a few work conferences that were back to back, conversations with girlfriends and boyfriends often turned to DIY and the crafting movement. All the cool kids are doing it, it seems. Now I’m no stranger to the DIY/crafting world as I’ve been dabbling on and off for a few years, including but not limited to the following:

But the one that seems to be all the rage in my circles is cross-stitch. I can name half a dozen people off the top of my head who currently count this as their number one crafting past-time. Their constant yammering about their projects, and since it seems you really don’t need to know how to do much other then thread a needle and sew, appealed to me. I like the idea that it is essentially paint by numbers, but with thread. (I will also admit TheHusband has asked me to put the knitting needles down as my hats keep getting more and more interesting. The latest one ended up shaped like a used condom.)

Since having an instant support group for any kind of activity appealed to me, I took myself off to Hobby Lobby tonight after work to get supplies. Since I was not fond of getting a pattern that was “of the lord” or of a fruit basket, I bought a bag of 150 colors of floss, rolled up tube of cross-stich fabric, a hoop, needles, and other accouterments as seen in the picture above. I figured I come home, have dinner, find a pattern, and go. And if I hated it, I would pawn the lot off to Kristin.

No. Not that simple.

The cross-stitch world is complicated. The surge for wanting things handmade has increased the amount of information on the topic, which makes sense since there are thousands nay millions of pages on just about any topic in the universe, according ye olde googles. But I’m a librarian! I should be able to find stuff easily. No, not quite true either. Bad taxonomy and tag stuffing also thwarted my plans. After an hour of looking for patterns, for an easy one I could do in a few hours, turned out to be horribly wrong. I had thought of coughing up a few bucks to Subversive Cross Stitch, whom I long amired, only to find as I was going through their patterns, nothing appealed.

Kristin suggested creating my own pattern, using something like MyPhotoStitch to generate the colors and patterns for me. But the problem is that I wanted to do something BIG AND FLASHY vroom vroom, when I still need training wheels. So instead of creating something that requires 44 different flavors of floss, I need something that has say, eight. Tomorrow when I’m not feeling so emotionally drained, I’ll probably create a TARDIS or something Doctor Who related.

And hopefully this time, nothing will come out shaped like a used condom.

1. The proof that I broke even on my investment with Excessively Diverting proved to me that I could make and sell something of my own creation, which is a huge confidence boost. Now only if could apply that to other things in my life.

Why I choose The Avengers over #TEDxGR

[Edit: This is the first time I’ve read this since I wrote this back in May and yep, I still agree with much of what I wrote below. I don’t know why I didn’t post this until now, but when I espoused these opinions via Twitter, several people said I should ahve given it a chance before knocking it to the ground. Perhaps they’re right. So next year I’ll attend and see if my vitrol changes. There was also some hubbub about money with TedXGR and there were also major concerns about one of the TedX board members whose ideologies seemed conflicted with the spirit of TED.- Lisa, July 23, 2012]

Like many other edgier creative types, I am a ticketholder for the TEDx event that is currently happening right now in downtown Grand Rapids. But instead of being rapt in admiration or wondrous belief at the current speaker on stage, I’m taking off to see The Avengers and then I’m heading out to get a mani/pedi afterwards.  Then instead of the after party down at the Pyramid Scheme where I could mix with other edgier creative types (read: white people), my husband will then grill filet mignons we’ve had aging in the fridge for the last week and perhaps get drunk on the bottle of mid-range champagne we purchased for our recent anniversary.

Tickets for the event were competitive AND expensive ($115 which also included a forced lunch option, which pissed me off), so willingly giving up something I’ve seen other people badly desire (and I offered to give them my ticket and received no response) seems all kinds of foolish. And on top of that, there is all kinds of fiscal stupidity for blowing that kind of cash on something I’m not following through. Plus you know, I may have actually, might have had a good time!

So then why?

I couldn’t be arsed to be with a roomful of people who were all dying to talk to me (per TEDxGR’s emails that they would be) while dressed creativity (again per TEDxGR’s email) and we were to talk about SPREADING BIG IDEAS  and networking like crazy. Truthfully, the concept makes me want to bitchslap people.

A year ago, I would have given an eyetooth to attend the inaugural TEDxGR event if finances were willing.  However, I feel  the problem is as a society, we’re so overwhelmed with ideas on a daily basis, saturated beyond the tipping point, our language is no longer about carrying and putting these ideas to work but about how much jargon we can extraopolate from the current set of buzzwords while pretending we all look incredibly smart and well read. BECAUSE WE ARE SPREADING IDEAS. The library world has had its own share of TEDx-esque hypsters who are all about MAKING SHIT HAPPEN but you never hear about the outcome of SHIT ACTUALLY BEING MADE. We all want to buy into the idea propmachine that we’re creating and curating new content by becoming change agents to maxmimize our world.

I have no idea what that last sentence actually means but it’s a pretty good jist of what I’m against.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the concept of TED is wonderful. I think there is a lot of good that TED and some of the TEDx events bring to the world. I watch zillions of TED videos and podcasts.  But it gets to the point, again, with the oversaturation being pushed by consumeristic media that we all must think these big thoughts that we never actually get anything done.

Can we actually stop having big thinks and put those thinks into practice?

The children will thank you.


If not then, then now

I knew it was time to take a break after working steadily on cleaning my office for a few hours when I put the carbon copy of a check in the envelope and sealed it without thinking. And my brain has been throbbing for half that time. UFYH rules say you should take breaks every so often to keep your focus up and your mind engaged, brain fatigue is painful when attempting to accomplish something, and when finding the simplest of tasks become too mountainous, it’s time to rest. (But am I not superwoman, who can do everything?)

I noticed that I am finding myself struggle with brain fatigue quite a bit as of late. Conversations that require me to think beyond the shallow depths of my knowledge, books that require me to be more engaged then a passive reader, thoughts that I should have but somehow I can’t find the words to express. My inner world seems so rich and yet, when I go to articulate it, I sound uninformed or even worse, like an idiot.

I can physically feel this barrier that is pitting me against the world, I find it even in my superficial thoughts to be a skim over the edge but when I dig deep, and burrow myself in to find what I’m looking for, then I find myself scraping against the wall, my voice shouting on the inside to let me pass! But nothing happens, no break through and no release. So my words are strangled in my throat, in the elbows of my arm, for they cannot get to my finger tips, in the unknown reaches of neverwhere, where everything goes to live and yet nothing seems to come back alive.

The pug continues snoring on, her cadence is reassuring and at times, the most honest thing in the world.