Kottke posted about this Pixar SparkShort this week and, as a 13-year industry “veteran” who still has teams who are mostly men, it really hit me. As Kottke writes, “The story was inspired by Lester’s experience working in animation as the only woman at her company.”
In order to do the thing that I loved, I sort of became one of the guys. And then I came to Pixar and I started to work on teams with women for the first time. And that actually made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had buried and left behind.
Yes, it’s a fun eight-minute Pixar short and no, I don’t ACTUALLY think of myself as a pink ball of yarn, but Pixar knows how to make a potentially heavy-handed metaphor work.
I hope it doesn’t feel tone deaf to just hop back into projects and sewing and knitting. To me, it’s one of the ways I’m going to remember my mom: She taught me how to sew, she taught me everything I know about style, and she was always interested in what I was working on. The day before she died, she was asking what I was knitting and I showed her the new project and showed her these pictures of what I had just finished. She studied them and said, “That turned out so nice. You’ll get a lot of wear out of that.”
She was right, of course.
(PS, I was able to seam it up just fine, thanks to this tutorial)
Wow, was it a rough end to a rough week: Toby ended up at the vet Saturday because his ear was swelling with a lump (cue PANIC).
He’s fine–the vet thinks he bumped it somehow, but it’s been drained and the fluid wasn’t alarming and the swelling’s going down–but we took it easy on Sunday. No hikes, no socializing, just lots of naps and sewing.
1. It is February first today, Imbolc if you’re a Celt, and that means we’re at the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. January won the award for Worst Month Of All Time, so I’m happy to see some forward motion.
2. I’m still reading about other people’s experiences of grief, because that’s what you do when you don’t know about something–you read up on it. This description of the “grief ball” hitting the “pain button” seems accurate and, ultimately, hopeful.
3. My mom would have been all over this: A brief history of American designer Claire McCardell. (She included pockets in everything!)
From everything I’ve heard talking to people who have lost a parent, the pain of it will last and last and last and you think it won’t ever get better–and then you notice that it hurts a little less. There is, of course, a poem for that.
by John O’Donohue
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.
Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.
Trust Mary Oliver to get the words so right. This is from “White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field.”
“Do you believe in Magic?” asked Colin, after he had explained about Indian fakirs. “I do hope you do.”
“That I do, lad,” she answered. “I never knowed it by that name, but what does the name matter? I warrant they call it a different name in France and a different one in Germany. The same thing as set the seeds swellin’ and the sun shinin’ made thee a well lad and it’s The Good Thing. It isn’t like us poor fools that think it matters if us is called the wrong name. The Big Good Thing doesn’t stop to worry. It goes on makin’ worlds by the millions–worlds like us. Never stop believin’ in The Big Good Thing and knowin’ the world’s full of it–and call it what you like.”
(from The Secret Garden, lightly edited to make the dialect a little easier to read.)
A voice hissed, “He sheds tears!”
It was taken up around the ring. “Ususl gives moisture to the dead!”
He felt fingers touch his damp cheek, heard the awed whispers.
Jessica, hearing the voices, felt the depth of the experience, realized what terrible inhibitions there must be against shedding tears. She focused on the words: “He gives moisture to the dead.” It was a gift to the shadow world–tears. They would be sacred beyond a doubt.
We said goodbye to my mother on Sunday. She fought pancreatic cancer–from an initial cautiously optimistic diagnosis through chemotherapy to a surprise terrible diagnosis after surgery–for ten months. It took her health and it took her life but it didn’t take her beauty or her spirit, not even at the end.
She taught me how to sew. She taught me how to cook. She taught me how to take care of people. There won’t be a day for the rest of my life where I won’t want to ask her about my garden or show her fabric for my next project or tell her about my day, but she also taught me how to be strong.
She showed us all what it meant to be strong over this past year and what love really looks like. For that, and for everything else, I say: Thank you, Mom. I love you.