I almost failed typing in high school. It was a shock to my goody-two-shoes honor-roll self. But now, freed from the failure-creating restraints of a typewriter without a correction tape, I type fast enough to be paid to do so.
Our family had a computer before we had a TV (and that’s another story), and I never thought of myself as being particularly good at it. In fact, I thought I was terrible at it. But now that we’ve moved beyond computers-for-programmers, I’ve learned enough about computers that people actually ask me for help. On Sunday, our minister at the Anchorage UU Fellowship described the workshop on social networking that she’d attended at General Assembly, and she said, “Basically, they said we need to be on Facebook and I don’t know how to do that but I’ll ask Heather.” I’m the Heather she was talking about. Weird.
As a child, I was terrified of dogs. I had very little experience with them, since we only kept the one dog we ever had for about 2.5 days. Now I love (most) dogs, and I can actually get Brady to do most of the things I ask him to do. A few weeks ago he learned “roll over.”
Like everyone else in my school district, my seventh grade electives were divided into four quarters, one quarter each for metal shop, wood shop, cooking and sewing. Three guesses which one I liked, and was good at. Did you guess cooking? Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.
I grew up cooking with my mom. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting the kitchen counter while she cooked and baked. It was, for me, the best kind of learning–the kind you absorb, rather than consciously acquire. Seventh grade cooking class just felt natural.
Sewing class, on the other hand, was more alien. My mother also sewed–but I think she sewed out of obligation, rather than joy. As I think about how she was when she sewed, it was with a determined concentration that just looked less fun than the creative chaos of the kitchen.
When my seventh grade self applied that determined concentration to sewing, it didn’t work out all that well. I made a dress (light blue calico) that didn’t fit, and I never really liked. And I made a stuffed pillow that was supposed to look like a surf board.
I didn’t like the precision that sewing required, and I had trouble keeping steady pressure on the foot pedal. I decided that I just wasn’t any good at sewing, and I haven’t touched a sewing machine in the years since then.
Until today, when I unpacked this from its box:
It’s a Brother CS6000i, and it was an amazing bargain via Amazon. I wanted a new creative outlet (crazy quilts), and I wanted to be able to mend and alter our clothes. This model has an amazing option that tipped me over the edge: I don’t have to use the foot pedal. If you follow the link to its Amazon page, and watch the video there, you’ll see that there are buttons just above the foot for forward, backwards and speed control. (Not only is that good for me, it means that my partner will be able to use the machine as well, without having to find a way around a foot pedal. An accessible sewing machine, in more ways than one!)
I’m kind of afraid of my new sewing machine. Well, not of the machine per se. I’m afraid that I will still be terrible at sewing, and that my bargain will be an expensive doorstop.
But I’m choosing to believe the lessons I’ve learned from typing, computers and dogs: I am not who I was. And that, as Gandalf says in The Lord of the Rings, is an encouraging thought.