Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In My Not-So-Humble Opinion

I am about to write a blog post about a blog post about a New Yorker article. First time for everything, right? Here we go!

I get on Etsy this morning to see what's new, renew a few items, etc., and I see a blog post titled Is Cuteness Bad for Craft?  I'm intrigued, admittedly more about the comments section than the actual article, but I read the entire post anyways. Turns out, it's about an article written by architecture writer and critic Alexandra Lange for The New Yorker titled Don't Put a Bird on It: Saving "Craft" from Cuteness and it's a critique of the new show "Craft Wars", which is being presented by Michaels stores. I followed the link, read the article and after viewing a handful of people's comments on the Etsy blog, I felt compelled to post my own comment.
I think the real issue here is that Alexandra Lange decided to substitute the word "cute" for "non-functional" and/or "durable", which are much more accurate terms for what she appears to be upset about. It's not necessarily that the projects were glittery (although she does seem to have a strangely intense aversion to glitter) or even that most of these projects were kitschy to the extreme. If the contestants had made their finished product in a way that was functional AND made to last, yet looked exactly the same, half of her post would be irrelevant. I was also shocked that Lange seemed to believe that every single person who crafts or shops at Michaels is an art-based entrepreneur. My great-grandmother learned to knit when she was a child and did it most of her life, spending months working on gifts for friends or baby hats she would then donate to the NICU ward at her hospital. She was extremely talented and achieved a level of meticulous detail that is rarely seen anymore. Not once did she ever think about selling her pieces or desire to make a career out of knitting. It was something she did to keep her hands busy during quiet evenings. I understand that Lange may be upset by certain stereotypes being continued with this show, but ultimately, she just needs to calm down and acknowledge that she can't control what people think about her or her career choices. Some people will always hear the word "craft" and their minds will conjure up bottles of Elmer's glue, colored construction paper and stickers of baby animals. That's their mind, not ours.

The point I was trying to make is that everything, especially within the craft/art/theater/dance/music community, is subject to opinion. I could spend every waking moment of my life trying to convince every person I meet that my career choice is valid, but that would be pointless. Some people simply won't understand. Maybe they weren't raised to take risks and follow their dreams. Maybe stability and conformity were important lessons in their life that they learned well. Maybe they aren't naturally creative so they don't understand how my brain could make the leap from "This is fun" to "I think I could make a living doing this." Hell, maybe they really do like their desk job. The fact of the matter is that I will never be able to control what people think of me and I firmly believe that it is a waste of time and energy to try otherwise.

I love my life and that is what's important. Know why? Because it's mine.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Time for a rant

Some days the 9-5 really kills me.

I can't crochet at my desk during quiet moments because it appears "unprofessional" to anyone coming in the front doors. I have worked a desk job my entire adult life and I have never understood this.  When I walk into an office and see a young woman slouched at her desk, eyes glazed over and scanning the screen in front of her, the glow of Facebook lighting her face, I do not think "Goodness me! How professional she looks!" The thought that generally runs through my brain is "She looks like one half of her brain is frozen in boredom and the other half is about to start dripping out of her ears because it's simply melted from disuse."

Some days at the office are busy. Some days are hectic and frantic and stressful as hell. I looooove those days. Seriously, no sarcasm. I always have something to do, I'm coming and going from my desk a lot so I'm not sitting on my ass all day, I'm juggling phone calls and e-mails and projects. I'm exhausted at the end of it all but I never mind because I feel like I earned it, ya know?

And then there are the other days. The days when you're lucky if the phone rings three times all day. The days when your boss keeps randomly walking up to your desk, only to stand there for a minute, sigh and then walk back to his office. The days when you realize you're actually caught up on shredding. Shredding!!

Those are the days I feel bitterness seeping into my pores. I sit here uselessly (yes, I'm at the office right now, and yes, there's nothing to do) and twiddle my thumbs, hating the fact that I am now that woman. The one who looks half bored and half stupid. It upsets me that I can't quietly pursue a creative passion in the occasional (or frequent) moments of downtime that come with any desk job. I'm not asking to sculpt a unicorn at my desk or tile a table next to the copier. Crochet is a very portable craft that takes almost no room and is very rarely messy. (I can actually hear Red rolling his eyes at that statement since I generally leave a sprawling mess at home.) It can quickly be put away until the next available quiet moment, it isn't noisy or smelly and I can't think of a single way someone could be offended by what I crochet. Now, when I start working on my life-size genitalia project... ;-)

Ultimately, what really gets me is that it's all because of this cold, mechanical facade we've decided equals professionalism. As long as you're demure and smile and react like a freaking robot with only four programmed responses, you're being professional. This concept has become more and more foreign to me as I've both worked and patronized several markets over the past couple of years. I love being recognized as a seller when I'm only at a market as a customer. I love the rapport I have with both clients and other marketeers. I love how people come back again and again to just chat with Red or me and ask how life is going. I love the enthusiasm that these people around me have for both their work and their life. I love this community that is both intimately local and everyone knows each other, while at the same time becoming global and massive.

I crave that life with every fiber of my being. I ache to be a part of it 24/7 and knowing that I could be working toward it and am being stopped by other peoples preconceived notions of what is and isn't professional, regardless of how efficient I am as an employee... that's why the 9-5 kills me some days.

On that note, all the bosses have left early today and I snuck in a skein and a hook. Like a ninja!