I wear the crown of Queen of the Unfinished Project.
I enthusiastically start things, to either lose interest or time or both, with the promise that someday I will get back to each and every project. If I start something new and I am not immediately good at it, I give up (for example, my very brief flirtation with the pottery wheel; that thing is hard!). That romantic scene from Ghost? Total fiction.
I finally got one not horrible mug-like thing, applied some glaze to it, and then never went back to pick up the fired piece. And my hands and shoulders hurt like hell for days.
For years I have wanted to do something with eucalyptus “buttons”, which are easy to gather here in California where so many eucalyptus trees were planted at one time. I finally found an old frame for a dollar at the flea market, bought some glue sticks, and happily glued away for a day. Never picked it back up.
My mother was a talented seamstress, but I didn’t inherit her patience. Over the years, I’ve gone through spells of “I’m going to start making clothes” to then get frustrated when I realize it’s best if you take the time to make sure the clothes will fit you when you are done.
I tried quilting for a while. I bought bags of fabric scraps off of eBay, I downloaded quilting patterns, I made about a dozen wobbly quilt squares, and now they are in a tub in a closet somewhere.
There was knitting. I took classes, bought yarn everywhere I went, did finish a couple of sweaters I am too embarrassed to wear, and gave up about 3 years ago.
Drawing and painting? Yes, I dabble in those. Have all my life. When I was younger I would finish what I started. What happened? I’m currently into coloring books, but mostly buying them, not coloring in them. I also started a project of drawing portraits of animals at the shelter, but didn’t get very far with that.
When I first met Bob way back in 2004, I was taking a watercolor painting class at Napa College. I enjoyed it a lot, and finished my first painting and was mostly happy with it.
I started my next painting, one of a bird on a branch. It started out okay, commenced going downhill, and went into a tub in a closet. Then Bob decided to write a book. A challenge was issued. If he started writing a first draft, then I would finish the painting. He wrote.
I didn’t paint. For a couple of years. I was oh so subtly reminded of the deal a time of two. I would get out the watercolor paints and the unfinished painting, stare at it for about an hour, and put it away again. I began to hate that innocent sparrow. After a long time, I finally resolved to do my best. Bob was on a trip to China, and I figured I’d surprise him. I painted, but not happily. I felt coerced. I hated the poor bird. I said “Enough!” and framed it as is, pretending I’d finished it. Everytime I see it on the den wall, I am unhappy with it. But it reminds me that when you are unhappy or angry when doing something, it shows. Chill out, relax, try to have fun.
Bob has been thoroughly enjoying his writing classes and the group of people he’s been working with, so of course, I decided to give writing a try! My brilliant project–a memoir of the summer of 1972, when my mother married my evil stepfather, split up the family, and moved half of us to California from Georgia on a cross-country drive from hell. It was going to be poignant, funny, and an actual finished manuscript. I bought a road atlas to map out the stops I remembered from the trip, I hung a map with notes on my wall, I signed up for weekly classes.
What I turned out to be good at was making up titles. My favorite–“A Good Title Only Gets You So Far”, which would then be a blank book when opened.
So what happened? I enrolled in a PhD program and gave up my career in memoir and fiction.
But I still wake up, usually at 3:30 a.m., with great ideas that I think I should really start putting on paper.
So here we finally get to the tantalizing reference to the Hallmark Channel in the above title.
I am a romantic and a sentimentalist. I have a real weakness for the rose-colored glasses world of the Hallmark Channel. The movies make me happy. I indulge when Bob is at work or his writing classes. I eat chocolate and wish I lived in the Hallmark world of small, charming towns, quirky friends and neighbors, and the cafe that everyone gathers in for coffee and cookies. I still believe that this town exists somewhere.
My latest 3:30 a.m. title and concept: The Do It Yourself Museum. Please do not steal my idea. It would make a perfect beach read and then Hallmark Channel movie.
By way of explanation: I’ve until recently worked in a lot of museums. I love small town history museums, with old typed labels and dusty cases and volunteers waiting to greet you.
I love to curate mini-collections that no one but me, Bob, and the cleaning lady ever see.
I want to have one of these museums in my Hallmark town. The main character, a down-to-earth middle aged woman (no, not in her 20s, not tall, not thin; this is my vision) drives into Hallmark Town, falls in love with the town, and lucks into the job of running the town museum. She buys an adorable cottage with hanging flower baskets on the big front porch (rocking chairs required) and butts heads with the handsome mayor, who wants to turn the old museum into a commercially-profitable something or other to attract business to the town. As they bicker, they fall in love, and she saves the museum and the town. I’ve got the Hallmark formula down!
If you know anyone at the Hallmark Channel, have them contact me. I’ll either be out on the golf course (see Life Lessons Learned Playing Golf) or at banjo lessons, depending on which I decide to enthusiastically take up next.
In my mind, I’ll be a cool cross between Steve Martin and Taylor Swift.
If lucky, I’d probably be more like these ladies (assuming I ever manage to play a note).
Or I could just pose with the banjo, and pretend I know how to play it.
As soon as I finish that PhD, I’m signing up for lessons! I’m sure I can find a banjo at the flea market.