Monday, April 26, 2010

Still smells pretty fresh

So before I moved back home to Indiana [cue song], I had to sort out some things.  Such as, Who Am I and What Am I Doing on the Planet, blah, blah, blah.....I know many people think that I am incredibly self involved, and they may not be entirely wrong....but there's a difference between being self involved and clueless and self involved and self-aware.  I enjoy things being All About Me, unless those things are growing, learning, and being a better person.  However, when you're unemployed for a year, you have a lot of spare time.  And sooner or later, you realize that scheduling your life day around Kathy Lee and Hoda, The View, and Ellen is not necessarily a valid life choice. Although, drinking with KL&H on Winesday shouldn't technically classify as "drinking alone" since they're doing it.....

I applied for some library jobs, and realized that there were 1. Almost no jobs left for professional librarians with my particular skills [helping patrons directly; buying books; actually being a librarian instead of an administrator bent on killing my own profession]  and that 2. No one was going to give me one of them anyway, especially because of the refusing to kill my own profession thing.   Since I really loved being a librarian, this was depressing, but with my usual good cheer I only pouted about it and wrote bitter, scathing blog entries for six months or so.  I mean, in addition to the year I'd already spent so upset about it that I could barely even mention the word "library" without bursting into tears of rage.

So I spent a year working in a yarn shop, which taught me several important things about myself and also reiterated all the lessons I should have learned in Libraryland, but apparently, didn't. 

Things I Learned From YarnWorld:
1. Am a hell of a salesperson (apparently, that's why I was good at getting people to check out lots of books...I just didn't know that in the real world, we call that "selling" instead of "circulating")
2. That I have an innate business sense that I clearly did not learn during my many, many years of higher education, since most of those were spent studying medievals and their dirty little sex lives, and all the things they wrote/painted/carved about them.
3. Women are needy.  I'm sorry. I know that's sexist, and that Monique Wittig is turning over in her grave.* But, they are.  I don't know if it's because so many of them are used to never making any big decisions by themselves, or if its because everyone else depends on them so much that sometimes they just need to hand the reins to someone else.  And I don't mind the neediness itself; it is the entitlement that seems to be the real problem.  Such as, "Well, I bought yarn here once ten years ago"** so therefore "you HAVE to help me with this incredibly complicated project that I really don't have the skills for and for which I bought the yarn, pattern, etc at your closest competitor".....
4. Women can be really nice....but they can also be meaner than dirt.  Like, you might meet some people who become your friends for life....and then you meet some people who call the owners of the shop and claim that you ruined their projects on purpose while you were spending hours and hours trying to undo the horrible, irretrievable mess that they made of them.....
5. Don't trust people. Really. Just don't.  Especially if you work for them, with them, or if they have mouths.
For some reason, most of them want you to fail, even if you're doing something that they aren't doing and never would do.  I don't know why this is.  I hope I don't actually learn.
6. Don't trust people where money is involved. Especially if they tell you that you don't need a written agreement because they're a certain religion which means that of course they will pay you back the thousands of dollars they owe you because of some IMINTS***.  I know that sounds like a no-brainer to all of you with brains, but for some reason, it wasn't one to me. Even though I am more heathenish than a large bumbling heathen thing.
7. Finally, and I want to be clear about this, Do. Not. Trust. People.  Just stop doing it right now.

So it might sound like I became a tad jaded from my year o' yarn, especially on top of the end of my professional library career.  Once my yarny career went down in flames that smelled oddly of the same humiliation as those that incinerated my library career, I decided to spend several months just brooding.  And wallowing. And whining.  It was after a few months of this that I received the blazing insight that Maybe Shit Went Wrong Because Of Me, and the choices I was making, rather than because the entire world was out to get me.

I know.  That's a shocking claim.  But, I read a lot of novels aimed at 13 to 16 year olds, and they often have this very message.  I might have lots 'o book learnin'.  But when it comes to emotional learnin'--I am about in the 7th grade, apparently.

I decided it was time to think about What I Really Wanted Out of Life.  Now, lots of people do this before they are almost 40.  Some of them seem to know it from childhood, and many of them at least get it by their 20s.  Strangely, lots of people have very similar goals.  They want a job they can stand, that they can live on, and to find love, and then maybe breed.  And then someday, their breedings will breed, and they can move to Florida and talk about all their generations of breedings.  Which I think must be very nice, in many ways.  Its just that I never thought about those things.  It never occurred to me to think about my wedding, which apparently most girls start planning at about age four.  It never occurred to me to want one at all, actually.  It seemed that the older I got, the more I realized that all of my hazy goals, if they could even be termed as such, did not involve anything that smacked of suburbia, station wagons, or an old age filled with porches and grandchildren.  Maybe that is because I had such a childhood myself, that was nearly perfect in every way.  We had a station wagon, I had four grandparents for the first 9 years of my life, two great-grandparents, oodles of aunts and uncles, and lots of cousins. My parents had that odd thing, a truly happy, stable marriage, and my brother and sister were normal and likeable.  It seems almost unfair to have had such a good childhood.  Mostly, what I thought about when I was little, was making things, playing with dolls, and reading.  I had friends, but I mostly liked to be alone so I could read books and then play out their stories with my dolls.  And I loved making things, especially out of fabric.  My mom probably first threaded a needle for me when I was seven or so, and I sewed little bits and pieces from then on, mostly for my dolls.

By the time I was a teenager  I knew a lot more about what I liked than I would know twenty years later.  Back then, I loved music, art, and performing.  I kept copious diaries from the time I could write until leaving for college.  I played the cello well enough to consider a career in music.  I sang, acted, and made things for my dolls, and then when I was blessed with a little sister at about the time most girls lay aside their dolls, I was able to play with hers. 
Then I went away to college, and within four years I'd stopped acting, singing, playing the cello, and making things.  I spent college involved in a variety of political causes, social activities, and pretty much left behind all the areas in which I had real talent, because I was intimidated by how many of my classmates had even more talent....and, I'm sorry to say, because I thought they were all so much better looking.**** I graduated and came back home, where I spent several years knocking around trying to fit into a variety of graduate programs and social circles. What I enjoyed most was making dolls, which was mostly a secret that I did in a room in my basement....and something which only my family and closest friends knew about.  I'd been making dolls and bears, pretty secretively, since I was about 12.  I was good at it, but always felt weird, because no one else seemed to do it, and if they did, it was mostly to make a toy for a baby. 

When I got my first professional library job, I moved to a town where I had lots of family, but didn't fit in at all.  I hated the job; it hated me, and had it not been for my grandma, my aunt, my cousin, and her adorable 18 month old daughter,  I would have been really lonely.  It was about that time that my dolls because a huge part of my life that I started to be proud of, instead of a weird, almost dirty secret.  I found other people like me on the internet, as a part of the first online doll community, and for the first time since I left home for college, I honestly felt kind of normal.  It was such a relief to find out there were so many other people who spent their spare time sewing and who would rather shop for fabric than shoes.

Then I found my doll club.  Which I will have to talk about next time as this is already offensively long.

*Where, it is to be hoped, she was buried in clothes much cleaner than the ones she used to wear to class at Vassar.

**Which, actually, you didn't, since this store didn't exist ten years ago, but that's ok, I know you mean that you bought yarn somewhere, once, and it might or might not have been here because all of us salespeople are actually the same person

***Imaginary Man In The Sky

****Oh yeah. That part will take a lot more than a few paragraphs to explain.


  1. LOL! Wendy I just felt like I had a mini conversation with you. I do love the way you write & miss your writing the minutes for the Lilies. I think I connect with you because I never wanted all those things that girls were suppose to want. I still gasp when people tell me about their 20 thousand plus dollar weddings! Lets day of family& chaos or a nice down payment on a house where you can be yourself, so what you want, have as many dogs as you want & paint the walls red...if you want? Hummmm....well, I did pick the house! And as for hiding my dolls...did that too...until I met the Lilies.

  2. Don't worry, when I went off to art school I all I could think or feel was - what a wake up call to show me how "inside the box" I am!