Mark My Word May/June 2008
I rarely get hate mail, and when I do it’s usually about something so idiotic that I take it with a grain of salt. But every once in awhile, I’ll get a letter like the one I got from Quiltzilla X in Keller, TX. She starts her note by telling me how thrilled she was to see a new quilt magazine at an airport kiosk, and that she happily bought an issue. She loved the look, the colors, and layout. Then she started to read it and, well, she just couldn’t get the words past her eyes.
So X sits down to type me a full-page letter, citing specific examples, page by page (no, kids, literally page by O.C.D. page) of examples of my writing: “. . .quilters luvvvv kits. . .”, “The designer’s gotcher back, baby!” “They’re blankets, people!” and “For us, my dears, there. . .” etc. She says she was so revolted by the frivolity that she vowed to never buy another issue. I find it hard to believe that Quiltzilla X could be that much of a buzz-kill, so I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. (Maybe her diet pills were wearing off?) But it begs the question—what happened to her sense of humor? Even the Bible says you gotta laugh: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." When’s the last time you did a little reality check to make sure you haven’t driethed up?
I want to be clear that ‘zilla X isn’t the only one who is disturbing the quilt-world’s bliss. I see it all around me: in classrooms, quilt shows, quilt markets. Seems like anywhere there are quilters, there are a few who are just too serious. They frown their way through meetings, and turn piecing mistakes into twisted-face, federal cases. They can’t let loose with a hearty laugh or a loud, happy voice about anything! They want Quilter’s Home to read like The New England Journal of Medicine instead of just having a chuckle and some merriment with it. If they can’t have fun then ain’t nobody gonna have fun, dammit!
There is no room for the humorless in quilting. Unless you hack your finger off with a rusty rotary cutter, there should never be tears or bad attitudes. You’re supposed to be experiencing joy—alone and with other quilters!
If you’re splicing a few atoms together the wrong way, you just might be having a bad day. But if you’re quilt-making and everything goes haywire, where’s the tragedy?
When you’re so bogged down in technique, then you have no room for sewing flights of fancy. And there are no flights of fancy without laughter and smiles—and mistakes and maybe even a few ugly quilts. Thank God! Not every quilt has to be a beauty, but every quilt should be at least a little fun to make, no matter the end result. Show it off! Otherwise, what’s the point? It’s not like you need a quilt! Piecing is what we do for our enjoyment!
You’re allowed to be a wacky, people-loving, devil-may-care human: eccentric, lovable, and creative all at the same time. Give yourself permission.
Practice laughing out loud by yourself and with your quilting friends. Learn to let go of rigid technique. Practice not caring about the result in your quilting—and in your life. It doesn’t come naturally, you know. Like Quiltzilla X, you have to learn how to be pent-up, and dude, you can unlearn it .Be grateful for being able to let loose and have over-the-top fun at any age. Then get on your knees and thank the good Lord that you’re not Quiltzilla’s husband! Sheesh!
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