Brokenness and Community

My sewing machine is broken. Or its user is. Maybe both.

I figured out how to change the foot and the needle. So proud of myself, I pressed it down onto the knit fabric - my first time sewing on anything other than cotton - and it jammed up. Thread stuck in the bobbin and wrapped around it and held firm, and the needle wouldn't budge. I pulled out the manual and took apart the bobbin case and put it back together and tried again. Jammed again. 

I took the manual back out and removed the machine from its table. Nothing I said to the man at the repair shop seemed to ring a bell. Not the "I know exactly what the problem is" I'd been hoping for. He said he'd give it a tune up, and when I returned for the machine four days later, that's what he'd done. He found no problems, just adjusted the bobbin tension a bit. 

I brought it home, screwed it back to the table, sat in my chair, put the fabric back under there. Jammed. 

I cursed and put my hands over my face and tried again with the same result, the sewing project I had planned for the blog thwarted for the second week in a row. 

* * * 

There's this thing that happens as a blogger, where you spend a lot of time typing some part of yourself into the keys of your computer, and no matter how much you try to be "real," the story that comes out is inaccurate. At least it seems that way as you see it mirrored back to you in the words of friends or readers, when people start using phrases like "do it all" or "have it all together."

In a world where so many of us use the successes of others as weapons against ourselves, as proof of our own failures, I feel some obligation to set the record straight. To say that these pages are a tiny piece of the story and sometimes I am talking about Facebook or pie or quilts, and while you are reading those words, I am at home falling apart or screaming at my sewing machine, that I have a billion questions and almost no answers, that I cry and yell and think mean thoughts and sometimes say unfair things. That I have worries and fears and goals that I'm too embarrassed or ashamed or protective to share on these pages. Or they just don't belong here.

And yet somehow the simple act of writing these words down and sharing them with you here gives the impression of having sealed it all up in a tidy bow. I don't know how to kick that. Maybe I'm not supposed to.

Writing is reflective. It's not tidy, but it does provide some context, some meaning, to its subject. A broken sewing machine (or a broken user) is no longer just that. On the page, I am no longer the woman sitting in tearful frustration in front of an antique machine that befuddles her. Instead, I am a woman acknowledging her limits, sharing her humanity - with you and with herself. 

* * * 

I've read a lot of sewing blogs over the years. I've seen countless projects - bags and dresses and shirts and table runners and quilts. I've never read a word about someone fighting with their sewing machine, jamming the bobbin, perpetually screwing up the tension, at least not from someone who isn't sitting down at a machine for the very first time. As far as I can tell, I'm the only craft-oriented blogger on the internet who can't figure this crap out. I'm the only one who's dumb enough to be bested by this hunk of metal.

And yet that can't be true, right? I am not so unique that I can claim this particular frustration as mine alone. I don't want to. 

I want a community around it. I want all of the people staring at their sewing machines in confusion and anger to yell across the web to each other, "ME TOO!" and wave their hands and then point and laugh at their screwed up projects because hey, we're all in this together. 

I am just as broken as you. Maybe more so, depending on the day. What you see on these pages, what looks like life tied up in a bow is me, seeking community. It is me, sharing my humanity and, in my deepest dreams, creating a space for you to share your humanity too. To wave from across the internet and say hey, me too. And to smile because you're not alone. And neither am I. 

p.s. Fickle or Renaissance?

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