I think I fucked up last year, and didn’t write. But every year on dear old Pat’s anniversary, the anniversary of when she was born, the legendary Ides of March, I think of the old gal. In this episode of remembrance of things past I mostly am thinking about the conversations I would have had if she were to still wander around planet earth. (I think I just subjunctived the shit out of that sentence.)
The first conversation is all about crafts. I ridiculously bought myself a button maker to make little pins like thes
I suspect the desire for this little gadget was straight up recapture of the 1970s I never had. I always wanted whatever the toy version was back in the olden days. I think it might have been this Button Factory. Although, circa 1978 seems past my peaked pique interest.
Getting back to Pat and crafts more generally, though. Kindred spirits to crafty Pat stroll the hallways of my work. The knitters among my colleagues have of late left the shadows. We gather during the workday and create knitting circles during lunches.
(Completely tangentially, I should disclose that Pat’s own crafty daughter, the person typing this sentence, may have held a little sway in bringing the crafters into the sunshine. )
One knitter spouted a surprising reflection of Pat to me. She said that there is value in using your hands, having a hobby, an outlet that wasn’t the thought-heavy essence of our daily work. Not everything can be reading and thinking and computers and communication and using your brainiest bits of brain.
Instead, things were solvable by not dwelling on them. The best of a good hobby is that it takes you out of whatever the thing that you might be doing or might supposed to be doing and puts you somewhere else. If your hands are busy for a little while that’s all that matters. Then, while making something homey and crafty, your brain gets to rest and fight another day.
Pat would have nodded in agreement. One of my favorite Pat quotes in reference to someone going through a bad patch of depression and struggle and maybe a soupçon of intoxicating substance — “She thinks too much. She needs a hobby.” It was that simple.
Given half a chance, Pat would have tried to bring a junkie to Jo-Ann Fabrics or Michael’s and had them pick out something to do with their hands.
Which brings me to thing number two that I’d be talking with Pat about if she were here — The scourge that is Donald J. Trump. The knitting circle at my work and the pussy hat phenomenon, doubtless come from the same place — Scores of woman with hands and a need to do something, anything to make something, create something, build something in the face of the nihilist president.
My aunt and my sister and I have each and all wondered: What the hell would Pat say about Trump?
She’d probably throw herself deeply into doll house making, maybe making the Capitol dome, the real one already miniaturized in moral authority, wee little unethical congress. Maybe a miniature Capitol dome would be too redundant. Or, maybe a White House, tiny and to scale of what real grown up governing looks like, something in line with Trump’s tiny vision, one-inch scale.
And as she built, she’d be ranting. Each shingle on the miniature roof would be another grumble. Kellyanne Conway would be angrily painted furniture and wrapping paper cum wallpaper. Betsy DeVos might warrant her own wing or maybe a wall. She’d build a wall, little bricks glued together to ease the pain of a woman ignorant of how education works being in charge of the whole enchilada. Schoolteacher Pat would be, in her word, livid.
Maybe this year’s Pat day is about Pat the ultimate maker. And, now, in the dark days of the most fucked up presidency, the maker spirit is living. When protests arise out of nowhere. When knit stocking caps, and really the homespun warmth of DIY, are the cultural fashion gracing the New Yorker magazine. When everyone is not sure what to do, but they just start doing, because to do nothing is worse. When strangers speak up, band together, share, write postcards together, share congressional phone numbers on Facebook, march, walk, make signs, rally, write words in the sand on the beach, that’s DIY, that’s maker, that’s crafts.
The best of making shit with your hands is knowing that you can. We can all build a movement. My next pussy hat will be made for my mother.
I’m pretty sure Donald J. Trump has never built anything with his own tiny digits. And maybe for just that alone, Pat would never have trusted him.