simple paper pleasures
works in progress

a week of gifts

Wow.  That's really all that I can say. First of all, this week I was on for jury duty. Having never served before, I had no idea what was in store for me. For a control freak such as myself, not knowing what your whole entire week is going to look like is a little bit stressful. I was basically preparing for the worst case scenario - which was being stuck at the courthouse for all 5 days of the week. I realize now that I might have been exaggerating the severity of the situation. Which mostly just reminds me of all the times that we imagine the worst that is going to happen; imagine several different variations on the worst, only to have the reality come nowhere near. Even if the reality is bad, it is usually not ALL of the bad possibilities that you come up with. I've been thinking a lot lately about how much energy we spend (waste) on such thinking. I shall endeavor to do better.

That said, I spent most of last week making plans A-Z, including trying to figure out what I could bring to the courthouse. Because if I was going to be stuck sitting in a room waiting for a whole week, I could at least get some art projects done, right? The first round of projects were small and portable, but ultimately we decided they wouldn't make it through security. I don't know why round nose jewelry pliers would be threatening but I decided not to chance it (having already lost glitter glue to airport security a few years ago). But not before packing up a little box full of jewelry projects that I should work on. The next round made it into a bag: 2 books from the library, 6 notecards to write to friends, close to 100 pieces of paper to fold into paper cranes for ornaments to sell here at the shop, and as many fabric circles (pre-cut, so they wouldn't take my scissors) for cloth buttons to make into bracelets to sell here at the shop.

And here's how the reality of my Monday went: I did have to get up at an unseemly early hour which recalled my days of working for the state at the Department of Natural Resources (there the work day started at 7:45 and I lived about an hour bus ride away). I caught the 7:15 bus and made it to the courthouse, made it through security, in time for the 8:15 check-in and orientation. There was about 45 minutes of video and talking, during which time we were told a little bit more about the process. And I learned that it was highly unlikely that I'd be spending all 5 days of the week at the courthouse as most cases are wrapped up in about a day, IF they even go to trial (the threat of the jury sitting down in the basement is apparently enough to induce settlement in many cases).  After about 10 minutes, one group was called; another group was called after about 20 minutes. And then about a half an hour later, the rest of us were dismissed. And that was that. I was done before 11 am. I read about 5 chapters in my book from the library but didn't even get to any of the other projects.

And so I am left now this week with the sense that the entire week is "free." Well, of course, not really, but all the plans and back-up plans that I made turned out to be unnecessary. Have you ever gotten an entire week as a gift?! It's a lovely feeling. So, I decided to some extent to treat it as the gift and rather than return to the regularly scheduled program, do a few things out of the ordinary. No, I won't get carried away.

But for example, after I was excused and while I was still downtown, I strolled down State Street and checked out several shops. I'm not sure I know when was the last time that I did that. I even got to eat lunch at the Mediterranean Cafe which is one of my favorites but which I seldom get to anymore since they cut back their hours to just lunch. On Wednesday, Sachi and I are taking the day off and going thrift shopping which is a very rare treat and is more exciting that you might possibly be able to imagine. Everyone tells me about the Verona Goodwill but I have yet to go, so Wednesday is the day.

And just to show you that I'm not getting totally carried away, last night I sorted through all my junk mail and started gathering all my tax paperwork. I have a friend recently who was complaining about the never-ending laundry task, for me it is paper. I have piles that I intended to file once I got a file cabinet from SWAP, baskets that catch the reyclable and the shredable.... I am reminded of the movie Barcelona where the rather intense main character has a system for his papers. He puts a dot on the papers every time he puts his hands on them. I haven't seen it in a while, but I thought the logic was not about identifying what was important, but about trying to keep the papers to a minimum (after x number of dots you should be done with the paper, something like that). But of course he just ends up with lots of dots on his papers. My papers would be covered with dots given the amount of shuffling that I do. The file cabinet has been mostly empty for at least a year. A task such as this seems so grueling and can hang over your head; even though there were certainly more pressing things that I could be doing - all those pressing things that usually result in this task being postponed. Nonetheless, the very fact of that task hanging over my head creates some weight that I was more than ready to be done with. I'm not completely done - there are two more boxes, I think. (This is the problem with being an artist because even though old school notes are utterly useless in the scheme of the everyday, there is that slim possibility that they would be really cool collage backgrounds. Nonetheless, if that is true, then they need to be in the collage background boxes, not in the file cabinet of important information. At this moment, heaven forbid, if anything happens to me, someone is going to have a nightmare of sorting to do. I'm starting to think I should parse out that task so it doesn't all land on my mom. OR just deal with all myself right now).

I didn't take my sister up on the "just take the whole week off" offer, because I am quite sure she will regret that, but I  am thinking about some of the fun things that have been put off since the holidays. For example, I have a huge pile of batik papers that I need to iron the wax off of. Especially since we are expecting cold and nasty weather for the rest of the week, I will probably tackle that project. Now that I have all those various projects gathered (for my time at the courthouse), there is no excuse not to take them to the next step. So maybe this isn't looking any different from my usual week, but it still feels a little different. That said, with all this "free" time, I will probably not clean the kitchen as I should.

So, that's how my week has begun. Then, this morning, I arrived to work to find a package from a friend in Washington. Truth to tell, she was our part-timer's friend first but as is the way of Facebook, you get to learn more about acquantainces than you might otherwise. The package was a padded envelope, vaguely paperback size. Since it turns out that we have a very similar taste in books, I imagined that it was a book from Jonathan Carroll, an author who I have only just discovered but who we both like. I know it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but the reality of the package was so far from what I thought and such an amazing surprise that it makes me teary.

Here it is:


Tuesday 008


Picture upon picture... all with plenty of blue sky for snippeting. Now, I have to say that since post-Christmas customers and traveling to CHA, I am feeling very keenly the consumerism of our world - a feeling I realize is at odds with being a shopgirl. But when you travel to these trade shows you get to see all the possible things for sale - a much wider range than you as a customer see at our shop - and it does get a little overwhelming. What are we doing with all this stuff? Where is it coming from? Where is it going? Is it making our lives better? Additionally, a customer came into the shop looking for a present for a friend who was in the end stages of a disease. Now, obviously, I AM a shopgirl, I like stuff, I LOVE giving presents - I would not be in the business if I didn't. But another part of me thinks: what can any material thing do or say that would ease someone's grief or loss, that would truly celebrate their joys? But I think this gets back to one of my resolutions from a few years ago, and that was Collect Mindfully (and from my journal entry on the subject: "collect mindfully: Don't get wrapped up in stuff for the sake of stuff.  Choose the things that are meaninful to you and release the rest.  Someone else might love it.  Don't waste time and energy and emotion on things that are not your passion."). I think that sometimes we get caught up in the purchasing of stuff just for the sake of purchasing; that you are trying to find the way to convey your love and caring to someone and we try to fill that with stuff. I am not minimizing the ability of certain stuff to convey such messages - I have my share of perfect presents given and received, but their perfection is not just in the money that was spent. I am finding a difference in stuff bought at a national chain and stuff bought at an independent shop, between stuff bought and stuff made...

ANYWAY, this present that I received is pretty perfect. Because it is so totally me. Not only does it give me the potential for another project, it is within a realm that I am already working (not that new projects aren't bad presents); and the level of detail and time of this present is amazingly high. I know well enough what it takes to get pictures printed, to label each one... not to mention the simple fact of getting to the post office and all that. In some ways it might seem like a simple present, but it is pretty awesome.

SO, Monday I got excused from jury duty, Tuesday I got a package full of blue skies, Wednesday I am going thrift shopping. Is it any wonder that I am treating this week as a gift?


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