About twelve years ago, I had a feeling that I should purchase mailing supplies and lots of them: strapping tape, Priority Mail boxes, tissue paper, several books of stamps. I had no idea why I needed these things because as I've said told you before I have terrible mail karma. Packages I mail are returned to me regardless of the address dictated on the package. Occasionally a package sent to me will while away several days -- weeks, even -- in quiet reflection at the nearest post office before being brought to my door. There was that unpleasantness in 1999, when Lo's husband, Uncle John, sent us homemade chocolate truffles for Christmas and they arrived in March, molded throughout. The package was addressed properly, the postage was sufficient: it had even been sent priority mail and was clearly metered at the post office.
My postman offered no explanation when he handed the me the fetid parcel. He just stared at me like, "Go ahead and complain. I dare you. Your next yarn order from Schoolhouse Press might arrive here by an even more leisurely route, like... through Micronesia. You've never been to Micronesia but is there any reason your yarn shouldn't have the chance?"
As always, the hardest questions to answer are the ones never asked aloud. I took the box and dared no complaint on why it had taken so long to arrive.
If I purchase anything with food in it, a rodent will get to it before I do:
Squirrels love halvah.
Shortly after I bought those mailing supplies, I "discovered" eBay and more specifically, a yard of fabric in a pattern strewn with peaches. I'd never had a desire to sew before, but I bought a very simple pattern and made a dress for Agatha -- by hand. And by hand I mean no machine. I'm not saying it as a well-made dress, but it was wearable and I knew I wanted to make more of them. My mom bought me a sewing machine for my birthday. It was a simple model -- I didn't know if the interest would last -- but for the next two months I don't remember getting up from that machine other than to nurse Olive. Over the next several years, I bought a more sophisticated machine, a serger and an industrial straight stitch machine with an outboard motor. As some of you may remember, I made and sold dresses on eBay under the label "Olive's Pearls." Eventually I stopped using patterns entirely and my sewing room turned into a laboratory where I would dissect outgrown dresses of my daughters, create pattern pieces from them, tweaking here and there until it was very little like the original dress that had inspired it. Behold, the Sporty Set.
Olive in Chicago, circa a long time ago!
I continued sewing with this passion until Olive began attending Autism Academy and this blog began. Suddenly I was driving close to four hours a day (You can go to the category Driving and Why I hate It or Driving: s'okay to read about that) and all appetite I had for operating heavy machinery disappeared. The love of knitting stayed, but I have three sewing machines gathering dust in my basement.
Moving right along.
Several months ago I found these shoes I liked on the cover of a catalogue:
...and bought an unseemly amount of them.
I've generally been fond of pretty shoes, but I'm no Carrie Bradshaw shoe junkie. And yet, the compulsion to buy these 1940's-inspired pumps prevailed.
Madonna once said that if you wanted something badly enough, everything in the universe would conspire for you to get it. I have found this to be true. Conversely, I believe that if you mention an ambitious project on your blog, everything in the universe will conspire to destroy your will to live.
I've had a project on my mind for a good two years, a project that involves transcription of fourteen hours of audio cassette tape. Writing -- writing beyond blog writing -- is terrifying now. But typing, though I only use my thumbs and index fingers (45 words a minute with four fingers!), is soothing. As in my title, I'm slightly anhedonic these days. I'm labile. I've been taking my coffee with sweetener. I can't promise how I'll feel tomorrow let alone next Thursday, but sitting and typing and using a foot pedal? S'okay. I'm sure there are services or computer programs or aps that could type this all out for me but the listening, the remembering, the pressure of the pedal under my foot: it is all comforting and familiar.
I had to find a 1980's transcriber that took full-sized audio cassettes. Again, eBay to the rescue.
It didn't work at first (it may have something to do with the fact that it sat in its box unopened for six months), but then I whacked it on the side a few times a few times and it worked. Remember the old days, when you could fix something by whacking it? Now if something doesn't work, whacking it only breaks it into a million pieces. Next thing you know, you have to go to the Genius Bar and explain why there's a big crack in the glass of your iPad.
Once I had my machinery up and running, I began to transcribe. It's much easier than I remembered. In my old days as an admin assistant, my transcription was done for a cardiac radiologist and I was forever having to stop and look up the spellings of various contrast media. Magnevist. Gadopentetate-dimeglumine. Omniscan. Gadolinium.
The subject matter I'm typing now may be emotional, but it's not as distasteful as research proposals involving "Beagle Dogs who will eventually be euthanized through excision of the heart." (Jen, Jen: The very fact that you are typing this obnoxiously long proposal and referencing extensive proof that such a study has not been previously performed just shows you how hard it is to get even one dog. Beagles aren't being slaughtered willy-nilly in the name of science. I would repeat this in my head as often as necessary.)
Hour one of my current project is now complete: it took me about three hours to type one hour of tape, but I'm getting faster.
The night before last I couldn't sleep -- I blame the recent tweak in my medication -- so I went downstairs to do a little more typing. I thought it would be easier to operate the foot pedal barefoot, but it wasn't. And then I realized that the ideal shoe for using the transcriber was none other than those I had purchased eight pairs of in the past two months. Yesterday I put on a full costume for this enterprise:
Yes, those are old-school beige pantyhose I'm wearing with those retro shoes. Whirr. Click. Rat-a-tat. Oops, Backspace. Rat-a-tat some more. Whirr. Click. Repeat.
It just feels right.