Sock it to me! (I’m eccentric but non-problematic)

My name is Genevieve and I am a sockaholic.

sockaholic definition

Yes, I joke. I don’t take addiction lightly, believe me. I’ve witnessed many a struggle with substance abuse, saw my mother’s second husband die of cirrhosis after years of alcohol abuse, and experienced my own battle not so many years ago.

But I do have an issue with socks. Or chaussettes, in French. J’aime vraiment les chaussettes. Everything sounds better in French. Tout sonne mieux en français.

I’ve always had a thing for colorful legwear. As a youngster I loved colorful knee socks and tights, although the tights never lasted long as I also had a lot of skinned knees (still do; haven’t outgrown my clumsiness).

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Kindergarten, me on the right in the awesome red knee socks.

 

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Not just one skinned knee, but two! But rocking the ankle socks with my Easter dress.

 

My mother used to tell me that when I first got my own room, a tiny room but all mine (!), and I had my own dresser, I asked her for empty shoe boxes and put them in the drawers so I could organize my socks by color. This sounds completely like me, by the way, so I believe it’s true. In fact, I should start doing that again. I had an epic fail with the drawer dividers I bought. Although that’s because the drawer is so full it won’t shut anymore. I need a dedicated sock cabinet! Many women yearn for a shoe closet; I yearn for a sock cabinet.

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Epic organization fail.
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And this doesn’t include all the ones still in the laundry basket.
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Not going to fit in the bedroom…

 

There’s also my legging collection. Remember the words colorful legwear. That can cover a lot of ground.

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Yes, they take up a lot of space in my closet.

In one of my knitting phases, I decided knitting my own socks was the way to go, so I joined a “sock a month club” and started receiving sock-knitting kits. I realized quickly that I could never knit a pair of socks every month. Precisely because you have to knit two of them. The first one is fun and great and you take it off the needles feeling so proud, and then you realize, “Oh crap, I have to knit another one now.”

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I made it through two sock kits before canceling my membership.

 

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The unknitted socks I still have in my knitting stash.

I recently got the brilliant idea from my friend Debra of mixing up socks so I don’t have to worry about the concept of pairs. I wish I’d thought of that in my knitting frenzy. I could have kept going only knitting one sock of each pair and just mixed them up as the mood hit.

Reminds me of my favorite David Hockney photograph that I recently saw at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. It’s a subtle mismatching, but quite an elegant one. I never really liked David Hockney’s paintings that much, but I discovered his photography and now I am a fan.

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David Hockney, Self Portrait, Gerardmer, France, 1975 © David Hockney

Ironically, my photographic homage to Hockney is all images of my bare feet, not my socked feet, so maybe my obsession is with my feet and not socks per se?

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Genevieve Cottraux, Homage to David Hockney, 2017

 

Recently I discovered Blue Q socks, and that was the game changer that took me from a sock enthusiast to a sockaholic. I did already have a pair of Blue Q socks, a Christmas gift from Bob’s nephew Joe and his lovely wife Isabella.

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While not a Blue Q sock, the banned book socks I received from Joe’s parents another Christmas gave me the idea that one could speak their mind on the their socks, not just on t-shirts or bumper stickers.

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Banned book socks, not on my feet. My feets are smaller and cuter.

Then came the final piece of the puzzle–a trip to the wonderful store Nathan & Co. in Oakland. I’ve loved Nathan’s ever since Nathan himself adopted a dog from the East Bay SPCA when I was a volunteer there. The store is so cool; I can’t go in without buying something. There were the Blue Q socks, full of attitude and f-bombs. I don’t speak in f-bombs, but I love the idea of wearing them on my socks, hidden by my jeans, my little sassy secret.

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My first Blue Q purchases, from Nathan & Co.

A sock monster was born. In Iceland, I discovered a store in Reykjavik that was both a great coffee bar and a purveyor of all things Blue Q. Apparently, Icelanders share my  sense of humor.

And then there was the hosiery store that teased me with their window display of tights (hey, I said colorful legwear, not just socks) only to be closed. Foiled! I could have had puffin tights! Or Icelandic horses!

Iceland other shop 1

Iceland other shop 2

I came home with a renewed obsession with Blue Q socks. They are far too easy to order online. I began to get in trouble.

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I was doing better after a spate of purchases, happily living with the sock collection I had accumulated, when along came the SockPop, a pop up sock shop in Berkeley in the Elmwood neighborhood, on College Avenue. I was at Timeless Coffee Roaster, an amazing vegan coffee place, to see a friend before going to work, and was heading back to my car figuring I’d just make it to work on time.

Timeless

And there it was. But my sock-clad feet (appropriately coffee-themed) walked right in.

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I was in trouble. Socks everywhere. Cute animal socks. Snarky socks. Socks with cat ninjas!

sock pop assortment

I succumbed. I was 20 minutes late for work. Was my sock addiction becoming a problem? I posted for advice. My colleague and friend Stewart responded: “According to clinical guidelines, no intervention required until you get to the point where there are ‘repeated significant negative consequences (e.g, financial problems, neglecting other responsibilities, etc.)’ Not there yet? Then you’re still in the ‘eccentric but non-problematic’ category, so….enjoy it while you can. The dues aren’t high enough yet!”

Was being late for work because I was sock shopping considered neglecting my responsibilities? I focused on the word repeated. I’d been late to work before, of course, but only once for the crime of pop-up sock shopping. I decided to go with eccentric but non-problematic, a phrase I want on a pair of socks…

 

Peace and hugs. I could get that on a pair of socks too…

The Do It Yourself Museum ©, maybe someday brought to you by the Hallmark Channel ™

I wear the crown of Queen of the Unfinished Project.

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Good thing my sister sent me the tiara. If I had to make it, it’d be half-finished.

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.

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Remember folks, this is a Hollywood movie and these are actors.

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.

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Not my finest work.

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.

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I actually think it looks cool like this.

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.

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The current fabric and pattern stash.
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I had a brilliant idea to repurpose a brown satin tablecloth into an evening dress. It hangs unfinished in my closet, about 4 sizes too small now. I have nowhere to wear a brown satin evening dress anyway.
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The mending pile, gathering dust.

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.

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I had good intentions.

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.

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The sweater I started for Bob. He picked the yarn and the pattern. I’m probably about 20% done after 4 years. Maybe for his retirement present…

 

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The reduced yarn stash; I cleaned it out a while ago but couldn’t part with the yarns I bought on trips to Germany, Halifax, and Salt Spring Island.

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.

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Doesn’t it look like fun?
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Bought on a summer vacation. Again, I had good intentions.

 

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.

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I finished!

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.

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Bob has now written the first drafts of not just one, but TWO novels.

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.

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Meh. Stupid bird.

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.

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We took the southern route, through Texas, in the summer, in an old station wagon without air conditioning and a driver who smoked and drank the whole way. Fun times. (The purple line through the northern route is a later trip in the 1990s, in the winter snow. Yes, backwards planning both times.)
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My stack of notes and index cards. I could restart that memoir someday…

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.

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I guess I am more of a concept person.

So what happened? I enrolled in a PhD program and gave up my career in memoir and fiction.

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I am determined to finish this project!

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.

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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.

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A small town history museum somewhere I’ve been, perhaps in British Columbia.

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.

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846-03164971 © ClassicStock / Masterfile Model Release: Yes Property Release: No 1960s YOUNG BLOND WOMAN PLAYING BANJO WEARING PLAID SHIRT

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.