I don't even know where to start, with all that has happened since I last posted here. I've lost and gained some incredibly important things in that time, and since I've always reserved this blog for my creative endeavors and don't often post about the personal, I've been at an impasse. But my creative life and my personal life have been tangled up in a big ball of happy and sad and crazy and scared and all around confusion.
So I have basically conceded that I can't have one without the other at the moment, and anyone who plods through this long post can get the whole picture, good and bad of these past few months. Maybe you can set up some kind of highlighter that just shows you the parts that include words like "stitch" and "I made this out of an old sweatshirt" and that will block out the words, "died", "heartbroken" and "scared shitless".
At the end of December, the last trickle of a very trying year, I lost my anchor. My dear grandma Josephine Rings passed away. That wasn't supposed to ever happen.
She was such a force, creatively, and as a person in general. I could go on and on and tell you about every single time she did things like peg a pair of jeans so close to my ankles for me that it cut off the circulation to my boat shoes. And then detail how she would happily put a panel of fabric back into another pair of jeans when flares came into style. My urge to tell you all the sweet things she ever did is overwhelming. The time she handmade me a Geraldine Ferraro teddy bear complete with pinstripe suit and "Mondale for President" button and showed that she, of all people, knew me the best. My god, you'd be floored if I could ever really sit you down and described the depth of her caring.
She is, genetically speaking, responsible for every creative talent I have, and therefore everything I've ever posted on this blog. Of course she taught me to sew (with help from my other grandma Agnes) and could create anything from scratch, starting my dream prom and wedding dresses with a pattern drawn on paper bags.
When she left us, I couldn't even look at my sewing room for two months. I tried to go in and start something simple, but as my hands guided fabric through the machine, all I could see were her hands. And I can't stand the missing her.
This little note about her feels like the introduction to a tribute that would be as long as I could ever write. I just needed to get it down and give her credit and ask for her to be with me as I move forward in my sewing room and the rest of my crazy life.
Okay and speaking of this crazy life, there came another reason I couldn't get into my sewing room. On the very exact day she died, I got pregnant. With twins. Well now, given that my wife and I couldn't exactly get knocked up by way of too much good wine and bad birth control, and that we had a little help from technology, you might think I was prepared for the possibility of twins. You might not expect that the ultrasound tech's report, "Oh, okay, looks like there are two babies," would not send me reeling into a sudden hysteria of tears and disbelief. But I guess we didn't think that whole 25% thing applied to us.
Ahh, but it's better now. I have two adorable little somersaulters in there, spinning around trying to get bigger despite their counter-productive efforts to be make me queasy all day long. I will win, little babies, even if your calories come from Big Macs and greek yogurt, I will win. You will stay put and become properly chubby before joining us.
So after I emerged from the month long panic named "Three Children Under Three", I was sort of able to get back into the studio. Things are changing, yes they are. The first thing I had to do was call up the divine stitcher I had just hired before all this and tell her she was, at least temporarily, unhired. That "Baby Hobo" is way on hold and I can't yet tell if it will manage to keep its legs and carry on at any point in the near future. At first I thought it was a sure goner, but now I am wondering if some part of it can't carry the torch until I am out of the constant state of nursing, sleeping/ not-sleeping marathon of child-care. We'll see. I've accepted that I can't stress about that while I am busy growing two whole human beings from a single cell to full-blown babies.
Just when I was trying to get used to that little bomb, another really good person went away. My mom's big brother, my uncle John Rings, died. He was living on borrowed time with a heart that wouldn't do its job, and took the huge leap of faith with a heart transplant. Thanks to a some amazing person and their family, he had a new chance to keep going. He fought so hard for many weeks in intensive care, but a hospital infection eventually won. It's so not fair.
He had a good helping of my grandma's spirit and left a lot of good memories with a lot of people. Like the time he let me travel with him to Northern Michigan to a hot dog factory on a business trip. I mean, what guy wants to talk to an 8 year old girl for 9 hours straight? Or when he once dropped a catalog on the table in front of me in oh, about 1991ish and said, "Hey kiddo, if you have ten bucks you should use it to buy stock in this company. It's going to be the thing." Starbucks. I didn't buy stock, he didn't buy stock, but that's the kind of vision he had. Living in a small town in northern Michigan, he could look at a coffee catalog from a relatively unknown coffee shop in Seattle and predict that it would take over the world. I'd like to take this opportunity though to confess that the one time he brought me some piece of candy from Africa that he had bought on a trip to Detroit, I was only pretending to like it! It was nasty, but I wanted to like it if he liked it. That says something I suppose.
He was really proud of me. He posted that on Huffington Post when the store that sells my stuff was featured there. He made a comment in the comments section about how awesome and talented I am and then messaged me twice that he was worried that he had embarrassed me. Anything but, Uncle John. It meant so much to me that you were paying attention. He was always e-mailing me advice about my baby clothes, which might surprise people, and he always had really good ideas. I always listened. I changed the cravats because of his advice (okay it maybe wasn't advice, so much as a direct order) and have been thinking of him a lot while I try to design a pair of pants/ capris with good pockets. Because he sent me a message one day that just said, "Pockets, Lis. Every kid loves to have pockets to put all their little kid stuff in." So true.
I'm working on it, Uncle John, and I'm thinking of you and wishing I had years more of your advice.
(Okay, so that wasn't a lot about sewing, but it was important, so there.)
In my next post, I will show the things I've made since emerging from the Ball of Sad Freakout 2011. For now I am just going to go to bed and feel my crazy babies twirl and kick me to sleep while I remember my grandma and my uncle and how great they were and how you should never take anyone for granted ever.