Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Home Teaching

I keep thinking of things to blog about, but the time has been going by so fast. I can't believe it's almost October! In my head I've composed posts on many and varied topics: the word bindle, the neighbor's crazy cat, mystery novels, money-making ideas, projects I've been working on... there just isn't time to write it all down. And then when I do get time, I end up writing a novel. I still have an unpublished post about seeing The Drums for the first time, when they came to Chapel Hill earlier this month. There was and is so much to say about it and them and that experience that I am still not finished writing about it, though it's become extremely long and, I'm afraid, unwieldy.

But I don't want the days to slip away unrecorded. There are some things about these times that I will not mind forgetting (the piles of boxes in this house that are driving me crazy, for example), but for the most part, C and I are having a wonderful time. And I continue to be surprised and amazed by him.

On Sunday, one of my Home Teachers came up to me and asked when a good time to visit would be. I suddenly panicked, but couldn't say anything because C was right there. My Visiting Teachers already know that instead of coming to visit me at home each month, it's better to meet at an ice cream place, for example. My house just is not presentable yet. In all the years that C has lived here, he has filled the rooms, hoarder style, with boxes of tools, books, pots and pans, etc. to the point that the place is bursting at the seams and there is hardly room to walk around, let alone sit down. If it were just up to me, I'd have it whipped into shape in a matter of days, but it drives C crazy to not know where anything is. He has to do it all himself. C knew that when we got married, things would have to eventually change--I believe a house should be comfortable, functional, clean and organized--but he has been changing very very slowly (in my mind) and while things are improving, the house is still claustrophobically cluttered, with corners I haven't even been able to reach, let alone dust yet, and definitely not ready for visitors. So, like I said, I panicked. While I nodded in agreement with a fake smile on my face when they asked if they could come for a visit on Tuesday, in my head I was freaking out. I looked at C out of the corner of my eyes, but he had no idea what was going through my head. He somehow didn't share my views on the situation, and calmly jotted down the man's name on his notepad. We went in to Sunday School, and I didn't hear a word the teacher spoke. My mind was reeling. What was I going to do? Should I cancel the visit? Could I hurry and rearrange and clean the house by Tuesday? Could I let them into the house as it was? No, I'd die!

After Sunday School, I couldn't keep silent anymore. I told C we needed to go outside and talk, so we did, and in the church parking lot I started to tell him how I felt about the house. I even cried. He didn't understand at all, and I spent the rest of the day trying to explain how I felt about people coming to the house with it looking this way, and I guess maybe it was our first real fight, even though there was no yelling or anything like that. We skipped the third hour of church and just drove home. I felt like a horrible, proud, ungrateful wife, and at the same time I believed I was right to want what I wanted. C maintained that anyone who came over to our house was entitled to think anything they want and he couldn't care less what it might be, because we are honest hardworking people with a new roof over our heads, and they ought to not judge. I agreed, but insisted that a house should, if possible, be kept neat and clean and reflect the personality of its residents, and also that guests should have a place to sit where they are not surrounded by mounds of boxes and assorted piles of things, with a view of cobwebs in unreachable places.

We talked it out for a long time, and then I went over to see my mom and dad. On the way to their house, it was rainy and foggy, but the sun hadn't set yet. I passed a farm, and saw a herd of deer running in the distance. One doe was pure white. Maybe I took it as an omen of peace or hope, but I already knew that everything was going to be all right.

I decided not to cancel the Home Teachers' visit, swallowing my pride, and C, swallowing his, started excavating what may eventually become our living room. It wasn't ready by Tuesday, but we compromised and decided to host our Home Teachers on the front porch, the most attractive section of our house at the moment. It was a fine evening and, despite a few noisy cars going by, it was pleasant and charming to sit out there, citronella candles burning, and the scent of autumn just barely beginning to creep through the neighborhood. On a whim, I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I'm so glad I didn't cancel the meeting. Our Home Teachers arrived and were more than happy to sit on the porch and talk. This was the first time we'd met them, so we spent the time just answering questions, telling them about us, talking about all sorts of things. The conversation inevitably turned to the church and the gospel, and C asked questions about the Book of Mormon. We talked about Joseph Smith, obedience, and faith. They bore their testimonies humbly, and shared several scriptures that related to the things we were talking about. When they left, I couldn't believe it had only been an hour--we seemed to have covered so much ground. C felt the opposite--he was left wanting more, and said he wished they had gotten even deeper into a religious discussion with even more meat to it. That made me smile with joy and surprise at my once-reclusive husband's willingness to receive visitors, talk about the gospel, and wish for more!

I learned a lesson this week, and I'm continuing to learn it. Some things are important, others are not.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The End of an Era

After church, C and I kept on our nice clothes and went to a funeral. It wasn't the funeral of a person, but of an era, a place, a way of life. In 1972 a man with big dreams and big style opened a frame shop in Chapel Hill. A few years later, a young man stepped off his friend's motorcycle to answer a help wanted ad, and knowing nothing about framing at the time, learned a skill that kept him employed for the next twenty and more years. The frame shop became an art gallery, a jewel of fine art, glass, sculpture, and jewelry, and thrived with the booming eighties and nineties. Nine years ago, fresh out of college, I answered a help wanted ad at that art gallery. It was my first professional job, and I learned so much. My experience there propelled me to success in school and work in New York, and then brought me home again, to my husband, that boy on a borrowed motorcycle. My feelings about the gallery are a huge nostalgic mixture, and maybe they are larger than life, but I don't think I'm the only one who was sad to see the gallery go into Chapter 7 bankruptcy and eventually close this weekend with a public auction. I know a lot of people feel like the loss of such an amazing business is a tragedy, not just for this area, but for the artists spread all across the nation who sold work there. And why no bailout? Well, I won't go into politics. I just wanted to say how strange it was, how sad, and how sickening, to see the gorgeous gallery stripped of its finery yesterday, its every moveable part grabbed at, sold to the highest bidder in a feeding frenzy of a crowd, and then to see the place empty out to nothing but tipped pedestals, empty fast-food restaurant cups, and broken glass.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Times They Are A Changing

Since I've become a factory girl I go to bed early and wake up early. I don't fight sleep like I used to do--I am content to obey my closing eyes, lie down, and let myself rest. But in the hours between work and sleep, I have been making things. My sewing machine is on, fabric is strewn about, and I know I'm a simple old lady when the highlight of my week is treating myself to a brand new pair of Gingher chromed nickel dressmaking scissors with a serrated edge for excellent gripping. While I create things out of whole cloth, literally, my husband has been uncreating. The company where he works is bankrupt, he'll be out of a job by the end of the month. He feels responsible for the people who've paid for things, and so he works late into the night to finish picture frames. I admire his pride in his job. In one week everything will be sold at auction and there will be no more picture frames to make. The harder he works, the less there is left to do, and he is making sure that things are ended well. After 30 years of making frames, C won't make frames anymore. So, this week I'm happy about my first paycheck, and sad about his last one. Not because of the money, but the end of an era. The start of something new is always scary, too. And yet, we're in it together now, and I'm starting to wonder if that's not one more reason why we were put together at this time. Heaven knows.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Factory Girl

Top Ten Things I Love About My New Job:

1. Work is close to home and C and I carpool. It's so nice to chat on the way to work and then see him pull up to get me at the end of the day.
2. I can listen to my ipod while I work. In the morning I load it up with podcasts of all my favorite radio shows. My work consists of cutting, packing, shipping, loading fabric into big machines, and stuff like that, which I can do with my headphones on. In fact, it's much more fun to work while listening to something, I think.
3. Fridge full of Diet Coke. Must try to restrain self. There is also a cupboard full of Wheat Thins, granola bars, and Sourpatch Kids.
4. I can wear whatever I want. I love to dress up, but it's nice to not have to.
5. I don't have to answer the phone. YES!!!!
6. Everyone is so nice!
7. I can take home all the fabric I want from the scrap pile (stuff that has slight errors in printing, stuff that was printed twice accidentally, stuff with mill seams, etc.) C set me up a sewing nook in the house and now I'm making clothes for my nieces and nephews, quilts, and all kinds of stuff! But I must try to only take home what I really love, because it would be so easy to go overboard and become a fabric hoarder.
8. I'm not in charge of anyone or anything. Secretly I always wanted a manual-labor job where I could just be a cog in the wheel of a machine, perfecting one part of the chain. That leaves me responsible only for my own work, which I find very satisfying. Does that make sense?
9. Surrounded by creativity. My favorite thing to do is cut the fabric, because it gives me the chance to see the amazing designs that artists have created.
10. Free lunch Fridays. Every week. And that means today!