A few years ago I was at a bridal shower, I knew the bride fairly well and I knew she would soon be traveling to China to live. So for her present I bought a card and threw a twenty in it, because she can take the money back to China and buy what she needs. I sat there stewing in non-housewifely embarrassment as she opened gift after gift and homemade card after homemade card. Eventually someone cooed,
“I think cards are the new art of the twentieth century,” I recoiled at this. Art? Card making is not art. It is a craft. A craft, not art. A craft is something anyone can do follwing a step by step process, using pre-fabricated items to make an item that give the semblance of homemade, but isn’t really. Almost like using a cake mix and comparing it to a homemade cake.
Last night I sat there sticking craft foam stickers on a wet wipes box, and of all of a sudden it occurred to me, I’ve fallen into the trap. The crafting trap.
I am creative person, and when ideas get in my head, they get the better of me. They haul around my brain whipping me into a frenzy, like a drunken man on a mechanical bull. I egg the idea on, like the drunken friend who just keeps putting quarters in the machine, even though the drunk man is crying out to get off, yelling, ‘It’s not worth it, it’s not worth it.’ But the idea goes and goes, until the friend runs out of quarters, and the bartender talks some sense into both of them and takes away their keys. Sometimes the idea wins, and sometimes the drunken friend with way too many quarters wins.
Emma is having her first birthday in a few weeks. I call her my little bug so the thought to do a ladybug theme emerged. And the idea came, and like the mechanical bull it began to whip around my brain. I could make ladybug cupcakes, and I could make up a ladybug craft (remember I don’t like crafts) and I could make a ladybug scavenger hunt; where I make ladybugs and hide them around the yard and give out prizes….right now I want to claw the mechanical bull out of my head and throw it against the wall. So what did I decide on doing? I scaled it back a bit, just a bit. No craft. Just the ladybug scavenger hunt, and the cupcakes are going to become abstract suggestions of lady bugs rather than each one an individual creation.
Last night I sat there and painted rocks into the aforementioned bugs while watching TV and thought again, ‘why am I doing this?’ Earlier in the night I was decorating baby wipes boxes with craft foam for a baby shower gift. Having been the guest that brought a gift card and felt the sting of feminine competitive guilt I didn ‘t want to be the cause of someone else feeling less than adequate just because I have a creativity problem. As I was piddling about with the craft foam I thought, ‘Really? Am I doing this? I have a master’s degree I should be writing pieces on the effect of American pop culture on overseas workers, not making useless decorative items.’
Sometimes I think magazines like Better Homes and Gardens are created to keep women distracted, to guilt us into make our own picture frames and table runners, rather than taking over the world. My mother in law started talking about kids parties and the effort we had gone through for our own children and what our mothers had done for us. The only cake I can remember from my childhood was one for my brothers pool party. My mother had gone and had it specifically made and when she picked it up she had found that they had put a woman in a bikini in a hot tub on top, not exactly appropriate for a boy’s pool party. She couldn’t remember anything from her parties either.
Last night she walked by my basin of newly painted ladybugs,
“You know if you wanted to make them shiny I have some polyurethane,’ she offered, adding to my Better Homes and Gardening myself.
“Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!” she laughed.