Storytime Tuesday: Why I Don't Sew.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

When I was in college, in my very late teens or very early twenties, I tried to sew.  To quilt, actually.  I loved all the designs and the colors and the creativity involved, and I wanted to make those things.

What I forgot is that I can’t sew.  I injure myself and others when I attempt to sew.  I’m supremely bad at it to an almost ridiculous degree.

So, once, I was making a secret santa gift for someone at work.  I worked at MCI at the time, in a cubicle, like thousands of other corporate drones, and we’d drawn names for the holidays.  I got my supervisor’s name (but no pressure!), and thought I’d make this neat little quilted woven star ornament thing for which I had a kit.  I thought nothing would say “I’m thinking of you and how much you like kitschy little country things” than a hand-quilted calico star thingie.

Honestly, all was going well for a while.  I got the first nine-patch done, and went to go cut the strips for the upper part of the hearts, when the rotary cutter (a spinning wheel of razor-sharp death used by quilt wizards to cut through many layers of fabric at once) skipped up over the hard plastic ruler and through my middle finger.  Seriously.  Through it.  Finger, nail, and bone.  I almost cut it off.  As it was, there was a rather large fingertip-sized flap of was-finger hanging there.  The pain didn’t set in right away (probably because I severed the nerves in it, too, come to think of it), but the blood — oh, the blood, y’all.  There was more blood than I thought I had in my arm, much less my finger.  

I ran to the kitchen.  (About three steps.  My apartment then would make tiny house living look like residing in a mcMansion.)  I held the finger under the tap to make sure there wasn’t any fabric gunk caught in it.  Which is when the pain decided it was, in fact, coming to this party, along with a whole NEW rash of blood.

I went down.  It’s the first time I’ve ever passed out, that I can remember. It was brief, maybe a few seconds, but my eyelids slammed open to find that now, not only was I bleeding on my floor, but I was apparently bleeding everywhere else, too.  I grabbed a roll of paper towels and wrapped about half of them around my finger and then my hand.  I mummified that whole hand in towel.

About that time, my carpool friend arrived.  Apparently, she’d been honking downstairs and I’d missed it in that whole hacking-off-my-finger/bleeding-to-death thing.  I yelled for her to come in, and she stepped over puddles of semi-dried blood in the living room.  Are you okay? It looks like there’s blood on your….holy crap!

By this point, my kitchen looked like I’d taken up the hobby of filleting babies in my spare time.  I’d had to sit back down on the floor (in my own blood, by the way), because when I stood up, I was starting to see stars out the corners of my eyes.  I weakly told Pamela (my friend) that I thought maybe I shouldn’t go to work and should instead go to a doctor.  She agreed.  I didn’t have a phone (these were the olden days, before cell phones, and I didn’t want a land line until after the semester was over, because I’d planned to move closer to work then, and there was no point in paying the then-outrageous sum to move your number to another physical location…), so Pamela offered to run down the five-ish blocks to the local payphone to call in and tell our supervisor, Terri, what was going on.  I wrapped more towels around my hand, which by now had bled through the first batch and was dripping down my arm again, and nodded, still feeling like this was all some kind of surreal dream.

A few minutes later, Pamela came back.  She’d told Terri about the finger thing, but Terri was dubious that it was a missing-work-level injury.  (Note: I never missed a day before this, with the exception of one blizzard and one case of pneumonia.  But, y’know…suspicion of the supervisors.)  She said I could go to the doctor, but I’d get written up for the absence.


I didn’t bother to change clothes.  I was covered in drips and spatters, my hand still mummified in paper towels and one hand towel that I figured I could sacrifice.  Pam made me sit on a plastic bag,because I was still dripping, and, incidentally, getting paler and paler by the minute, feeling more and more like I might pass out.

We got there with barely a minute to spare before the shift started.  I walked into our bay of cubicles and proceeded to fall over on the floor, leaving a nice little blood pool next to my head.  I woke to Terri, elevating my arm while one of the guys in our pod pushed a rolling office chair with me in it toward the company nurse’s office.  She was apologizing over and over.  I thought when Pam said “cut her finger” she meant, like, a little cut or something and you were just being dramatic.  NOT THAT YOU HACKED OFF YOUR FINGER.

Way to bury the lead, Pamela.

Anyway, the apology made me feel slightly vindicated, and a whole lot like a badass.  Not even the threat of blood loss would keep me from my duties!  ::arms akimbo::

Long story short (heh, a thousand words later…which is probably still fairly concise for me, come to think of it…), I ended up with something like seventeen stitches in three layers.  The company nurse was all WHY ARE YOU HERE AT WORK OMFG and Terri explained that she told me I had to come in (which she probably admitted for liability reasons), and they took me to an urgent care on the company dime.  

And in a few weeks, I gave Terri her secret santa present, complete with bloodstains.  Because story, that’s why.  To be fair, she never questioned me again, so some good did come out of it.  

And this?  This is why I don’t sew, people.  It’s just one example.  There’s also the time I actually sewed through my index finger.  And the time I broke a needle, which flew off the machine and came maybe a quarter of an inch from J’s eye.  And the time I got my hair stuck in the bobbin.  (I still don’t know how it happened.)

Some people are cut out for things, and some people aren’t.  And when the universe chops off your finger and tries to blind your husband, it’s time to take the hint that maybe this particular thing isn’t for you.

I’m listening.

Goodbye, 2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016

nothing says "surprise!" like a random pineapple.

In the words of Neil Gaiman:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

Happy 2017, everyone.

Go surprise yourself.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Also this.

more story

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Unexpected Discoveries

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I'm doing my supposedly-annual digital clear-out right now.

This is where I go into my hard drive(s) and ditch anything that's been sitting there for so long waiting to be read/used that I barely remember where it came from or why I saved it to begin with.

Let us just say that this is a much lengthier process than I'd like it to be, since apparently, my hard drives are just waiting for Matt Paxton and the Hoarders team to show up and be appalled by my stacks of dead-mouse-ridden PDFs and .zip files.  

I hold on to stuff.

This is my takeaway from this so far today.

I hold on to stuff.

I shouldn't be surprised, considering what my closets looked like six months ago, but I'm still kind of shocked that I'm finding multiple copies of free online magazines and "reports" from opt-in mailing lists that I fully intended to look at when I had more time.  Someday, I'll remember that "when I have more time" is my mind's code word for "NEVER!  NEVER, I SAY! (maniacal laughter)".

The good bit is that I found some writing that was way more done than I remembered it was (yay!), and a couple old PDFs that *I* made that I'd forgotten about.  Stories that were waiting to be told.  Notes for other stories.

It's like discovering a forgotten country up in here.

The Power of Story: My Word for 2017

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I'm an artist and a writer.

Which means, at heart, what I really am is a storyteller.

My family would tell you that I've always been a storyteller, in fact.  Sometimes, that meant I'd make everybody laugh at the communal dinner table (the good aspect of it), and sometimes, it meant I had elaborate excuses as to why I popped the screen out of my bedroom window and snuck out for the night (entertaining only in retrospect.)*

But those kinds of stories aren't the only ones that affect our lives.

We have so many myths that direct what we do that we're hardly even aware of them.

Societal stories.  Religious mythologies.  Family tales.  Our own stories, taken through our own lenses.  Stories we've read, stories we've watched or listened to, stories that are told around a campfire at night.

Some of them are true.  Some of them are cautionary tales.  Some of them are damaging and distracting and stop us from living.  And some of them raise us up through personal and societal inspiration, letting us live life more fully.

In 2017, I'm still exploring.  I'm just exploring Story.

I'm not completely sure how that's going to look yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing all the ways that Story manifests itself in my life, and harnessing some of the transformational power of Story for myself.

This guy, Donald Davis, nails it on the head in this talk.

Bring on 2017.  I'm stoking the campfire.

*For the record, that screen was totally damaged because one of my friends tried to light a wasp on fire with a lighter and some hairspray once.  Popping it out as a means of escape was totally just me trying to get it fixed before my parents noticed.

Also, there may have been boys out there in the night.  I admit nothing.

A Few Monday Links

Monday, December 19, 2016

I seem to have found a stomach bug.

My idyllic, facebook-free healing time took a little bit of a sharp left yesterday when I caught the attention of some kind of evil bacterium, intent on making the next 48 hours an unpleasant place to be.  

(I had this whole post planned about the magic power of hibernation in regards to heart-healing after loss, but it was hijacked.  Sorry.)

That said, tummy bugs are good for watching things and reading things.  

And naps.  Many naps.

But since I can't share my naps with you, here's a few interesting links I've found on my (green-tinged) travels.

First, a Thing for people asking about metal watercolor tins.

I bought one of these just to check for quality, since this price is somewhere near fell off the back of a truck low for watercolor tins.  (They can run you as much or more than the filled pans of artist-quality paints.  Not even kidding.)  I kind of expected them to be made of soda-can grade aluminum or have a bunch of sharp edges.

Not so.  They're nowhere near as thick as the more expensive models, but they're of decent quality, hold half or full pans well and securely, and have good mixing space.  I'm sold.  (Especially when the 48-color size is $13.99 USD.  Seriously.)

Downside is that the middle section, which is usually intended for a brush, and usually will accommodate another row of half pans, isn't wide enough for that.  But at this price, I can get a second one if I need to, so it balances out.

Because Terry Brooks is semi-local and fully awesome:

This is an entertaining way to spend 17 minutes of your life, and will add validation to all your efforts to do things that Society, capital S, may feel is beneath you/frivolous.  

Plus, Brooks is awesome.

Hygge your tailfeathers off.

Hygge, the danish concept of making yourself nourished and happy during the long winter months (simplified description, since it's one of those words that doesn't have a great translation into English, like friluftsliv, which is another thing I want more of in my life, thankyouverymuch), is getting a lot of buzz right now.  There are tons of kindle books being self-pubbed by internet marketeers seeing dollar signs over its popularity, but this post by blogger Yes and Yes is still the best one I've found, with 29 practical things you can do to hygge your butt off while the snow flies.

I want to try almost all of these 29 things over the next four months.

Bring on the Woo for winter solstice.

Lori Andrus, of the Priestess Pathway podcast, posted an episode and text post all about four ways to honor and celebrate the winter solstice.  All four are practical ways to settle in for the change of season, and have made me want to schedule some time into my day to mark the passing changes.  

Even if you're allergic to woo, they're still good ideas.

That's enough for now.

I need to go lay back down and bemoan the fact that I have intestines for a while.  I should be back-ish later this week, minus the colony of bacteria that decided to call me their home. :)
© G O * E X P L O R I N G Maira Gall.