An Inventory of Optimism

I started my Saturday with impressive intentions to accomplish such nebulous goals as ‘be productive’ and ‘do workish-type things’.

When I finally dragged my body out of bed at the only-frat-house-acceptable hour of 11 AM, I knew it was going to be a rough one, and after a few hours spent sitting in front of a book that could have been the next door neighbor’s 9th grade algebra text for all I knew, I figured it was time to surrender to the coup being staged in my brain.

Having given up the Be Productive This Saturday! battle in hopes of winning the Graduate Someday! war, I decided to get down to one of my many wannabe hobbies.

Y’all already know that I’m a stubbornly optimistic dreamer and a terrible follower-througher, as I have the horrible habit of making you grand promises of bigger and better bloggey things, only to fail to deliver time and again. (There’s The Great Sock Coffee Blunder, the failed international cuisine endeavor, the 439 unpublished draft posts that may never see the light of day, and so on and so forth). Actually, the only challenge which I’ve followed through on is. . .um. . .online dating. It was in the name of journalism, you see.

All this to say, my past is littered with failed hobbies which I inexplicably like to revisit on occasion (nothing like the reminder that my artistic talents exist in theory rather than practice to give my self-esteem a shot in the arm head!).

I first sat down to my roommate’s keyboard and an unexpected plot twist in the form of ‘technology’. On my family’s old Casio, I could sit down, push ‘On’ and begin to pound out An Ode to Disharmony or Discord and Cacophony: Musical Homicide in Two Movements to my heart’s content. C’s keyboard is a different beast. The ‘On’ button yielded a menu, but the keyboard would not yield a sound. I put on the headphones, took off the headphones, adjusted the volume, pushed 74531 combinations of buttons, sneaked up on it to startle a squawk from it, muttered threats under my breath, and still the darn thing would not utter a sound.

With my musical parade thus rained out, I laid down my concert pianist fantasies and turned, with an internal cringe, to my sewing cabinet.

Nowhere, but nowhere, is my failure to be awesome more apparent than in the tragedy of mis-sewn dreams stuffed therein: behold, an inventory of my failed optimism.

There’s a dress that I ‘whipped up’ (sewed laboriously, starting with the World Cup and ending with the conclusion of the Olympic Games) in 2010. I got to the point where all I needed to do was hem the darn thing, at which point I threw it in the back of my sewing table and moved on to making promises on my blog that I never kept.

Since this dress was the first thing I encountered upon opening my sewing stuff, I picked it up and commenced hemming, while my sense of accomplishment hovered around me trying not to get its hopes up. I partook of a strenuous 15 minutes of actual work, at which point my machine began to smell burny and after a brief consultation with Lady Wisdom, played here by my mother, I decided to give the thing a chance to adjust to the shock of having seen the light of day for the first time in months. I was happy enough to move on to puttering* in the garden, but Sense of Accomplishment was unsatisfied with this meager offering, and I decided to appease him by cleaning out and organizing my sewing stuff, aka: the Ghosts of Sewing Dreams Past.

I hadn’t realized how many dreams I’ve been trying to suffocate under that unhemmed dress.

I found measurements I took from my senior-year-in-college roommates in order to make them some yoga pants. That was as far as I got on that.

A winter hat, completed but a few inches too tight to be worn, was next in the lineup of shame. (Inches, people. INCHES. When you’re working with a circumference as small as a head, miscalculating by inches demonstrates a lack of spatial intelligence that is almost admirable, in a ‘How have you survived this long?!’ kind of way.)

Then there was a neatly cut pattern for something really cool. I just wasn’t able to identify what. Goodbye, Project of Indecipherable Awesomeness. I never knew ye.

I found what may very well be the ugliest tunic ever conceived by mankind, made of a sort of tableclothey purple material so truly awful it would strike Simon Cowell speechless. I have no idea what was going on in my life when I chose this fabric, but it must have been one of those proverbial ‘worst of times’ bits. Staring at it, mouth agape, I revoked my own opinion-having privileges until I demonstrate that I can use them with more caution and respect.

Then, as the final punch to the face of my optimism, I found. . .this. I’d forgotten about starting that little stuffed elephant project. The infant to whom I’d intended to give it as a welcome to the world gift will turn two in June. It’s in the same state of lumpy, half-stuffed, tailless indignity that it was in when I last posted about it.

I think I’ll give it to my roommate. As my ‘sort-of-family-person’ in SC, she’s kind of under contractual obligation to gush over my unfortunate creations in order to pad my justifiably fragile self-efficacy. And really, what grad student doesn’t want a beleaguered insult to the pachyderm world serving as a talking point in their room?

Then again, given my pacing on Ye Sewing Projects of Yore, maybe I’ll just aim to have it ready in time for my kids. . .

On second thought, make that grandkids.

*I can’t garden to save me. Puttering, however, is one of my most developed skills.


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