It’s Monday and nearly noon. I had a plan for this day, I had a rather uncharacteristically long range and detailed plan for this day. My plans are usually somewhat vague with the vision of the outcome and a few patchy details as to the “how to accomplish”. I have been experiencing some frustration; wanting to write, to read, to run, to post, to create, to organize, and my plans keep getting derailed by the needs of others, or waylaid by the necessities of work. Today was to be the day. My plan was detailed precisely as follows:
Have breakfast and coffee
Write, early, as that is when I am most creative and articulate
Update Instagram for the past week (not so insta)
Go to the courthouse to deal with some nastiness that must be dealt with
A beer and whatever after that
The writing part is the bit I’ve been most frustrated with. Writing is what I enjoy, it is what I want to do. I have the outlines of several articles stacking up in the “WIP (Work in Process)” folder of my Dropbox. I have voice notes accumulating in Evernote, bits of scribbles in my journal and the ideas keep coming with those sporadic little bursts of creativity that occur throughout the day, every day, one after the other, like little flashes of lightning in an overcast sky; there and gone unless quickly captured in a lucky moment with a camera. If I don’t get the idea into a record of some sort, in some medium, it will vanish, never to be repeated in exactly the same way.
I’d intended to write on Friday, and to run, and to go to the courthouse, and to complete my craft project, but, instead, was pressed into service to drive my dear, 91-year old mother somewhere. Napa is a ten minute town, you can get anywhere here in about ten minutes, so a request to drive Mom to her appointment seemed an inconsequential time suck. But the driving bit is the short bit. I know my way around Napa very well, I grew up here, I’ve moved back, now, a few years ago, I have my expeditious routes to almost any corner of the town. But, with Mom, one must navigate the same roads in the same manner she is accustomed to or the order of her universe is inconsolably disturbed. The same with which driveway entrance to use, where, exactly to park. And, then, the walk. She is, after all, 91 years old. It takes longer to walk from the car to the building than it does to drive across town from home. And, of course, as we’re out, there are the errands that would be wasteful not to complete. And, this was Friday, nothing else, got accomplished except for the very necessary craft project, which of course, had been put off until the very, very last moment. My creative flow was corked by the minutia of the day and I was to put together a mask for a masquerade ball, and I intended it to match the one and only dress that would suit for the event to follow Saturday evening.
Saturday went according to plan, as I arose at my customary 4:30 AM and was out of the house before any other creatures (Mom) stirred. And the masquerade ball, itself, occupied the remainder of the time on the clock; having to wash off the grit and sweat from running, the hair and makeup, the dress, the drive, and the event itself.
Sunday was to be devoted to a social arrangement that was hatched at happy hour the Wednesday prior, though, as I entered the kitchen to quickly reheat my speedy, pre-prepared breakfast, and make a quick carafe of coffee, Mom attempted to thwart my momentum with the invitation to mimosas. Don’t get me wrong, I love mimosas, but mimosas, and especially mimosas at the kitchen table with Mom, are a prescription for time travel; the immediate future quickly evaporates, becoming the past, laying to waste an entire half of a day, and, in that same quick trip through the future, the entire past is relived through stories re-told. These times, I know, especially given her tender age, are special and to be cherished and not rushed, but are best left for days when I don’t have obligations, dates, or a to-do list. Sunday was not that day. I promised to share mimosas, perhaps, when I got home later in the afternoon, or, perhaps Monday, as I wouldn’t be on the phone with a client and had only projects to occupy my day. And my to-do list.
Monday morning, Mom, and mimosas. More than one. So, it is now Monday afternoon, the morning long expired along with the mimosas I was reminded of at the first footstep into the kitchen this morning, and I just now am sitting at my keyboard and am willing the creativity to flow from my mind, to my fingers, to this page. It is happening, but it is choppy and stilted, not flowing like water over pebbles in a brook, but more like cement from a mixer; slow, slower, really, really slow, and then, not at all. But, I am on a mission, I will finish this and it will be vaguely like what I planned, what I imagined, when the idea struck me and the first few notes were put to a record for later reference.
I am crafty; a mask and my tale.
This is how the mask came to be. There was a vision, a vague plan, time passed, obligations encroached, and, it became a very urgent mission as the day and hour of the party approached. I am not what I’d call a crafty person. I have an appreciation for art, for crafts, and I have some degree of artistic competence, but I am most definitely not one of those people who live to make crafts. Truthfully, I abhor craft stores and generally refer to them as “crap stores”. Trying, in vain, to not be judgmental, I classify people who frequent craft stores and busy their days and spare moments with crafting, as a species wholly apart from my own.
Crafts, for me, when absolutely necessary, are approached much like my cooking; I may refer to recipes, sometimes several, sometimes compiling ideas from a few into an idea of my own. Rarely, though, do I ever “follow” a recipe. I don’t read an ingredient, measure an ingredient, add the ingredient, repeat. I compile my ideas loosely in my head, go to my pantry, grab my reusable Trader Joe’s bag and peruse the contents of the shelves, in my fridge, and the drawer of my freezer. I harvest items much like picking fruit from a tree; this, that, the other. I often incorporate items into the idea of a recipe, from my fridge, because it has been there for a few days and its freshness is waning. With this approach to cooking, I rarely cook or eat the exact same thing twice, which is great! I love variety! I may recreate the same idea of a recipe, but there will be new ingredients incorporated and others omitted either because of their immediate availability or because of a new idea or a change in mood. And, to my taste, everything I make is usually quite delectable. I usually only cook for myself, so I rarely hear a complaint.
So, the mask; I RSVP’d to a MeetUp event with my women’s networking group for a masquerade ball at a well-known winery in Sonoma. I hastily RSVP’d, realizing it was a masquerade ball, and that a costume would be requisite, but I didn’t read the details. I scanned the list of folks who had RSVP’d, liked them all, and decided it would be a fun way to occupy an otherwise lonely, solo, Saturday night. My guy works Saturday nights. Distraction is good, and a ladies night is an excellent distraction.
A week or so after RSVP’ing for the event, I attended an impromptu happy hour with the same group of ladies. The subject of the party came up and everyone began to chat about their costumes. I mentioned I had a few ideas, a zombie school girl or Morticia Addams. The organizer looked at me with some degree of surprise, closer to a look of horror, actually, and advised me that it was an eighteenth century masquerade ball, so, the costumes should resemble something from the eighteenth century.
Fortunately, I have an entire storage unit full of ball gowns. No, really, I do. I made my way, eventually, to my storage unit, dug out the dresses and stuffed them all into my Civic. I took them all home, tried them all on and selected the best fitting of them as my masquerade ball dress.
I’d kind of planned on going to a costume shop or a Halloween store, in search of an appropriate mask. I really didn’t want something strapped to my face all night, messing with my eye shadow, smearing my eyeliner and smashing my lashes. The ladies and I had discussed this over cocktails at the impromptu happy hour gathering. A couple of us decided the mask on the stick, coyly held up and lowered throughout the night seemed a much more appropriate, and fun, masquerade mask option.
Weeks passed, and though I passed several stores and shops likely to have masks, in several cities, including, even, a couple of trips to San Francisco where all shopping needs can be easily satisfied, exponentially, I never took the time to enter and browse. The day before the party, I was left with no other choice than to make myself a mask. This would require something more fearsome than zombies and ghouls; a trip to the crap store.
I had no recipe. I am most certainly not one to look up a craft project on Pinterest and carefully follow every detailed step. I had an idea, more of a vision. I had a very specific shade of orange, sort of a sherbet orange, to match, I had limited funds and extremely limited time. I pulled up at Michael’s, entered and grabbed a hand basket. I don’t know the layout of the store and there must be a zillion different items of inventory. Craft items don’t fall into logical categories for me. Paint, for example, isn’t on a paint aisle, necessarily, it seems more likely to be shelved according to type or style of craft. My approach, amidst this confusion, is to walk the perimeter of the store and peer down each aisle, visually acquainting myself with the plethora of things within. I then walked first down one of the main aisles, then the other, peering into the center aisles, and again, down the aisles along the edges to gain a different perspective. After assessing the overall attempt at organization, categorization and classification of craft items, I made my attack. I marched up one aisle, then over to another, down this aisle and across to that. As I marched, I picked items off the shelves in a haphazard manner and tossed them into my basket, much like I assemble my recipe ingredients from my pantry. After five minutes, I’d assembled a collection of glitters, sparkles, sequins, and paints in sherbet orange and some deliciously complimentary colors. I took my basket to the counter, hastily made my purchase and tucked my booty into my reusable shopping bag. Once I reached my car, I had the dreadful realization that I’d forgotten tacky glue. I do not stock glue at home. Reference, above, the fact that I am not one to often engage in the act of crafting. I have the need for glue about once every six years, it is a frivolous purchase, but, at this point, necessary. Though I am still in the Michael’s parking lot, I seriously consider getting in my car, driving to another shopping center and going to Target to get the glue instead. I am far more comfortable in Target than I am in Michael’s. Target is a frequent refuge for me, I know the layout of the store like I know the contents of my clothes closet. I could shop quite successfully in Target blindfolded. Michael’s is dizzying and makes my skin crawl, and there are so many crafters in there. I decide to be prudent, and brave, and I just walk back in to Michael’s to get the tacky glue, I know just about which aisle I’ll find it, so it should take mere seconds to acquire. I find the glue with haste and make my way to the line at the registers. A whole line of crafters. Entire families of crafters, multi-generational groups of related crafters. When I get to the checkout, the clerk asks if I need a bag, I decline, the miniscule bottle of glue I selected will fit in the tiniest pocket within my purse. She offers the receipt, I, again, decline. She thrusts towards me a 40% off coupon, and, initially, I think this sounds awesome, I could, possibly, need craft items again in the next decade. She adds that it is good next week only. I explain to her that the likelihood of me doing a craft project in the next year is highly unlikely, and that I most certainly would not have the need for any morsel of craft equipage in the next week. I asked her to give my coupon to someone else, someone who’d really appreciate it and use it. My good deed for the day. Craft karma.
I make my way home, pleased with my attack on the crap store. It is, by now, late afternoon, which, for me, is the low point of the day for anything requiring much thought or creativity. Late afternoon is when I bask in the glory of all that was accomplished early in the day. I generally occupy my time with simple tasks like, maybe, folding laundry, grinding coffee and assembling breakfast items for any early morning to follow, drinking beer, watching the birds in the trees from my chair on the deck, preparing dinners in advance, drinking beer, checking the stats on any blog posts I’ve made, drinking beer, and duncing around on social media. And drinking beer. Did I mention drinking beer? So, after my day of few accomplishments, other than surviving a trip to the crap store, any hope for creativity is completely wilted, withered, shriveled. But, the mask must be done, it must be begun and finished immediately, if it is to be ready and dry for the following night’s affair. I do the only thing I can think of; I grab a large format beer out of the fridge and pry the cap off. I often employ the contents of a large format beer bottle for inspiration when creating in the kitchen, so, I figure a large format beer may similarly inspire me and provide the appropriate courage to create my mask, to be crafty.
I set up shop on the floor of my office and sit with legs criss cross with the large, cold, opened beer bottle nearby. I grabbed a couple sheets of paper from my recycle pile to protect the hard wood floors from my alcohol fueled crafting spree. I spilled the contents of my reusable shopping bag onto the floor and grabbed the tacky glue from the pocket in my purse. I organized the items by type; paint, glues, glitters, and sequins, then, each by color. I put the plain, white mask in front and took another swig of beer. I grabbed the mask, the orange paint and the paintbrush and I smeared paint all over the mask. It is beautiful. The dress is nearby and I very carefully compared the painted mask to the color of the dress, careful to not let the two touch. It is a perfect match. Perfect. The mask looked so good with just the paint thinly applied to it, almost antiqued, I am tempted to quit at this point.
I painted the thin piece of dowling I bought and set it aside. Again, I admired my mask. I took another generous swig of beer. I outlined the edges of the mask and the eye holes with a copper colored glitter glue. It looked alright. Not great. It looked like something a third grader might have accomplished. I set it aside to dry momentarily, and, again, turned my attention to the beer.
I began to feel more courageous and, I guess, more inspired. Maybe I was just a little buzzed, but, whatever, I was ready for the next step. I took the tacky glue and an old pencil and smeared glue all over the mask, a small section at a time. To the wet glue, I liberally sprinkled bright orange pixie dust all over the mask. When finished, it was breathtaking. I once again considered calling it done and retiring to the deck with the rest of my beer.
Another generous sip of brew and I squeezed out more glue onto the mask. This time, to the wet glue, I stuck large pieces of pearlescent glitter. The orange pixie dust layer glowed through the pearl glitter in the most delicious manner. I could be done, now, but I still had more beer and more crap supplies. I applied more glue to the top edge of the mask, drank more beer, and then began to stick bright colored sequins into the line of glue, creating a colorful rim along the top of the mask. I repeated the process first around one eye hole, then the other, now completely covering the dreadful glitter glue. More beer. I considered my handicraft, and it was either absolutely stunning, or I was drunk. There was also the chance that both were true. I felt pretty crafty.
I grabbed some duct tape, which I do keep an enviable supply of, as I am far more likely to use duct tape than glue as household repairs make themselves apparent. I taped the stick in place and squirted some tacky glue around the stick, the mask, and the tape. I drank the last of my beer and set my mask on the floor along with the pile of partially used crap supplies, turned the fan on, aimed it at the mask, and called it done.
I spent much of Friday night revisiting my office, turning on the light, and admiring my mask, my craft.
The next day, after returning from my run, a few hours before I’d need to begin preparing myself for the ball, I checked on the mask. It was, in sobriety, indeed, truly a work of art. I was quite proud. I held it up against the dress and admired their matching beauty. It was genius. Except the stick was wobbly. The mask felt very heavy on the end of the stick and I knew, without a doubt, the mask would not last the night. I went back to the tiny basket I keep on the floor of the closet in my office, the one where I have a few tools, a few fasteners, the rolls of duct tape, and, usually, a tube of super glue. But, being glue, it had been there a while and was now as solid as a rock. A trip to Target was in order, and, besides, I was out of beer. I bought a tube of Gorilla brand super glue, and beer, came home and managed to more securely glue the stick to the mask, and, as usual, two of my fingers together as well. I pried my fingers apart and wiped the excess super glue from my fingers with the condensation from one of the beer bottles. This is a method one can easily employ to clean one’s hands when afield, if one has a chilly beer handy. Keep that in mind.
I set the mask in front of the fan, again, that the super glue could adequately cure before I’d need the mask. I began my preparations for the evening.
A few hours later, I made my grand entrance at the masquerade ball; me, my ball gown, my beautiful mask. I was the envy of the event, the belle of the ball, and my lovely mask garnered much attention and many, many compliments when I casually mentioned I’d made it myself. Thanks in a large part to a large format craft brew, for courage and inspiration! I am, after all, so very crafty.