Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Brand New Bag

Steve told me that he's reading a book about brain plasticity. And that I might be forgetting things due to too much multi-tasking, and that we need to learn new things all the time to keep our brains working right.

Which isn't exactly news. We all know that. But what I didn't realize was that my definition of learning was skewed.

"The book says that if you read a book about something new, it's not enough. Because you already know how to read. You're not challenging yourself, though you might gain some useful information."


"What can I do to energize my brain?" I thought. I know I could use it. I always feel so alive when I'm solving problems on the road. I've been trying to find new things to do at home, but it's harder than it looks to find things that teach totally new skills.

Plus, I can't commit to much right now. I'm already enrolled in a writing workshop (two nights a week) and teaching coloring (one night a week). So anything I try that is new has to be a one-shot deal. Like what? A one-day intensive class, maybe. Climb a small mountain or hike a trail. Tube the Delaware. Learn to use my watercolors for something besides comic books.

Or sew a bag! Flirt-Brooklyn had a workshop yesterday. So off I went to learn a totally new skill (okay, not TOTALLY new—I learned to sew a button in 7th grade home ec) and get a new bag out of it.

Since it was a holiday, I took Henry the Ford Taurus along. We cruised right into the Holland Tunnel (on my E-Z Pass, of course), straight through Manhattan, and right over the Brooklyn Bridge. I parked around the corner from the class 20 minutes after I left my house.

A nice woman named Patti patiently walked me through the bag-making process. Pin the pattern. Cut the fabric for the inside and outside. Stiffen it up with an iron-on inner lining. Sew. Backstitch. Sew some more. Turn a corner. Sew again. Add a strap. Add the tie for closing the bag. Turn it all outside in. Iron.

I couldn't believe it when I stepped back and looked at my work.

It didn't suck. I'd sewn a bag.

I didn't even have to turn Henry on after that. We flew home, right over the East River and then the Hudson, coasting on air and pride.


Sue said...

Great job Marie! I hate sewing myself, but it's really nice to take a workshop and come out with something you like. Very cute bag.

Ed Ward said...

Excellent decision. And I like the gleam of achievement in your eye, although the pic of you sewing provoked a "No! No!" reflex as I saw where your right arm was. But...it's a sewing machine, not a bandsaw.

Which, when combined with the question of how I might plasticize my brain, made me come up with this; if Marie can learn the girly art of handbag-sewing, I can learn the manly art of basic carpentry. As you might guess from the above, me and power tools have a very wary relationship, and I may very well need to learn how to put up shelves on a concrete wall soon.

So thanks for helping me make a decision. Now all I have to do is come up with the right kind of plastic for my brain...

Marie Javins said...

It's really hard to hurt yourself with a sewing machine!

I plan on making a few more bags just to make all the steps of the lesson stick. I don't want to forget what I learned. They have open studio on Tuesday nights. I can't go this coming Tuesday, but the next one is the last free Tuesday night until December. I better take advantage of it.

Good luck with the powers tools. Those I understand.

Ed Ward said...

Oh, I'm sure I could hurt myself with a sewing machine. I already offer a private video for people who like slasher movies called Ed Ward Sews On A Button. All the blood you could want -- and it's real blood!