I don’t remember what made me first want to write a blog. I probably had some notion that it would be easy, like most projects I’m attracted to initially—like sewing or genealogy or soap-making or fencing or gardening. All five of those I have undertaken in the last decade. Let’s take a closer look at this list:
Sewing…Seven years ago, I bought a brand new sewing machine and made a set of Roman shades. That’s it. The machine now sits in the basement, covered in cobwebs, next to the crafts basket filled with beads, colored wire and capiz shells. Every time I walk down to the basement, I think I hear a bobbin scream.
Genealogy…My ambition was to create a complete family history as a present for my siblings. Generations later, I’m still looking at my great-grandmother’s matrilineality. Ancestry.com is a time suck, a vortex of names like Viola and Aurélie and Ambrose, a cascade of decades within centuries all linked to someone else’s imagined history that is based on yet someone else’s imagined history. But it isn’t enough for me to know who I am right now. I want to know where my genes have been.
Soap-making…I started making soap two years ago. My goal—a simple one, I thought, and manageable—was to make a bar of soap that smelled like lemon. Not furniture polish lemon, but real Love’s Fresh Lemon kind of lemon from the 1970s. I branded my soap Lemonology. Naturally, I’ve selected the most difficult scent to retain in the complicated chemical process of soap making. [Complicated only because I don’t know chemistry.] And, although I can watch TV for hours at a time, standing in the kitchen for three hours makes me feel guilty about not exercising. I haven’t given up; I’ve just put the gallons of coconut and olive oils in the linen closet until I have time to get back to it. I believe the secret may rest with cornstarch.
Fencing…I started fencing in my mid-30s as a way to get over a broken heart. Stabbing people in a safe environment seemed appropriate at the time. I love the sport but I hate losing, and I’m not dedicated enough to practice to win. I started and taught a club, with meager skill, when we moved to Pigspittle. When it was clear that my students were better fencers than I, it was time to stop. I picked up a foil again a couple years ago but had to drive to Columbus for practice. After several months of white-knuckled, deer-fear drives home in the dark, I decided I didn’t need the anxiety. My foils and jacket and mask are in the coat closet, dust bunnies clinging to the equipment bag.
Gardening…The gardening season has begun. Perhaps this is the perfect distraction for me. There is a seasonal limitation. I can work outside. No one is depending on me to show up. I can fail and blame it on the weather.
I am trying desperately not to turn this post into a litany of failures. I would like to find some wacky charm in the way that I dive, imperfectly, into life. I am, in fact, allergic to Malcolm Gladwell’s prescription for excellence. (Fitting that he sold thousands of books about something so hokey: practice makes perfect. Genius.)
Blog writing fits perfectly within my history of project making. Fits and starts.