Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Craft Bug

I call this piece my "don't quit your day job" wreath. The girls and I went out to get a 44" high Christmas tree. That is the limit to what our living room can handle. To accommodate us, the Christmas tree guy had to cut a foot off of our tree. Waste not, want not! I had to make something from the off-cut boughs. The kids went into model-magic-ornament production, so we had a few to spare for my wreath. They produced about 100 ornaments on the first day. They woke up early and all three of them were hard at work at 6:30 am on day 2. Steel seems especially afflicted by the craft bug.

I've been on my own in New York City for a week attempting to sell pottery at a pop-up store in uber-hip Chelsea Market. It's right by the Highline; it's got great food. There's a fancy kitchen store and an Anthropologie. Google and some other trendy places have office space upstairs. It all seemed like a good idea, and it would have been, had I only brought large bowls and vases.

Years ago, a New York gallery came to my booth at my wholesale show. He said in his loud New York voice, "I LOVE your pottery, but you CAN'T sell pottery in New York!" and turned on his heel and left. I finally understand how pottery doesn't fit into the lives of New Yorkers. Most of them have tiny kitchens filled with cocktail glassware. They eat out or order in. Colin, my fabulous host got take-out the first night. He bundled the substantial mound of left-overs up in a bag and had a guest throw them in the trash on his way out. The horrified New Englander in me gasped, "You don't eat leftovers?!" "Yes, I do!" he replied, "That is why they are going in the trash!" Colin spends more money on skin care than I do on child care, incidentally.

Meanwhile, Toby chose last night to get the flu. On top of his usual insane schedule made more insane by his winning an RFP for a 126-unit project, Tim has been dealing with school lunches, school parties, figuring out what is and isn't nanny time, playdates and cavity bugs. Now he gets to do all of that on 3 hours of sleep while doing a couple loads of vomit-covered laundry. Meanwhile I'm walking the Highline, going out for Ramen and cocktails, and sleeping late.

Trying to have conversations with people and not talk about my children has been agony. People say they like hearing stories about kids, but they don't. I see eyes and minds wandering as I regale them with the story of Toby raiding the baby Jesus from Nanny's nativity scene and walking around all weekend holding baby Jesus to her ear and saying, "SHHHHH! Nanny! I'm talking to BABY JESUS!" Maybe this is why I like blogging. I don't have to see your minds wandering. My favorite story, thus far, from the "Daddy-cation" happened the first morning. I was still in bed, and I got a text from Tim: "Is it true that Steel doesn't have school today?" Tim, she's 4. You're 47, and she's already able to con you?????? What the hell is going to happen when she's a teenager?

I have another theory about why my New York trip hasn't been as successful as I'd hoped. I always think that good things happen to good people, and I revealed my inner crappiness recently. Right before I left, I did a craft show at a bar in Philly on a rainy Wednesday night. I drove the tiny little electric zap car. Visibility isn't great; it has a leak, so the inside of the windshield steams up, and the one windshield wiper on the outside works poorly. It's harrowing, careening down the road, revving the tiny electric engine, and peering out of a clear space in the windshield as big as my palm. I had parked a block away from the craft show, so to load my stuff after the show, I backed the truck across the street (as only a Massachusetts driver would) and into the spot in front of the bar. I was wearing cowboy boots, and I had gladly accepted both free drinks that were offered me that night. Somehow my big boot did not manage to make the transition from the accelerator to the brake, so I slammed into the front bumper of the car behind me.

Like a terrified teenager, I pulled away from the damaged car and fled into the bar from the rain. It took 3 trips to load my stuff. By trip #2, the damaged car had disappeared. I hadn't left a note or told the bar manager. I drove home and immediately confessed my sins to Tim. I couldn't sleep all night agonizing over the new knowledge that an irresponsible teenager is still alive and well in this 42-year-old shell.

The next afternoon, I answered the phone in my studio. The entire incident was ON TAPE! Of course it was; that's how I roll! I was strangely relieved and elated as I gave my insurance information to the poor guy who owns the car I hit. I didn't think it could get any more humiliating until he said, "Onion Flats???? (the car is insured by the company) Isn't that the McDonald brothers???? I'm friends with Johnny, and my wife is Tim McDonald's biggest fan!!!!"

I can hear them now at a cocktail party, "That Tim McDonald is SO TALENTED; too bad he married such a morally bankrupt potter!" My friend Karen tried to comfort me. She said, "You've got GREAT karma!!! You're generous with EVERYONE; this time you just took out a tiny withdrawal from your karma bank!" Is it my bad karma that is causing New Yorkers to be blind to the genius of my cups? Perhaps the $4 cup sale at Anthropologie has something to do with it.

I attribute Steel's long face to her knowledge that she has the 'craft bug' and will for the rest of her life, compulsively make things with her hands that people may or may not want. Aunt Lisa gave each of my children an entire tub of frosting and un-refereed access to bowls of candy. They behaved surprisingly well. I can only assume that they thought they were on tape and would have to account for their behavior later...