Friday, October 7, 2011

Letting Go of the Stuff

(Not my pile of clothes. I found it on the internet.)
This is my second day of cleaning the attic. The occasion is to turn it back into a guest room, since we're having company this weekend. It's really quite a nice room, finished, air conditioned when necessary (unlike the rest of the house), furnished with a big soft comfy bed. The problem is that it's full of my dead projects.

You may or may not know that I knit. I like to do this in the summertime, when the weather is unbearably hot, as an expression of the hope that the autumn will eventually come.

You may or may not know that I like to sew sometimes, that I used to be good at it, that when I was broke I used to make my own clothes. I have a 1963 Kenmore cabinet sewing machine in pickled blond wood, sort of bogus Swedish-loooking, that I bought second-hand from another state worker back when I was a clerk for the Department of Youth and Family Services. Shortly after she sold me the sewing machine her life fell apart completely and she went on the street. I would run into her on State Street sometimes. She would beg cigarette money from me and advise me to oil the sewing machine frequently. She became the prototype for Ruth Ann, the bag lady in Unbalanced Accounts, my first published book.

For a long time now I have had the notion that I could still sew, that I could rock those home-made clothes the way I used to when I was young and svelte. I pore over the fashion magazines avidly, seeking the latest styles. But there's less and less to the clothes, and more and more showing of the little models wearing them. I could sew those dresses, no problem. But I couldn't look like that in them. Most of the work would have to be done on my person.

It's time to pack it in as a Project Runway contestant. Five bags of half-finished crappy projects, knitting, sewing, embroidery, you name it, went out on the curb yesterday. Two bags of old clothes went to the thrift shop. I'm thinking maybe I'll put the sewing machine out too. These days my favorite household appliances are the refrigerator, the stove, the ice cream maker, the red Kitchenaid stand mixer, and the brand new food processor. Food processor! How cool is that! I never had one before.

Farewell to the old projects, hello to the new. I'm going down to the kitchen now and just go ahead and finish getting fat.

Kate Gallison


  1. Kate, you are the only person I know who could make me laugh out loud about cleaning the attic. That despite the sorry state of my own attic and the total loss of my old, slender self!

  2. Hold on, Kate! Not the sewing machine! It's full of the Past and where would you be without it and that?
    Bob (trying to be helpful)

  3. True, Bob. And besides I need to be able to fix ripped seams.
    As for the Past, that would be the five envelopes of snapshots, some of them a hundred years old, that I have to sort and make room for. Images of dead relatives. Images of babies grown old now and no longer cuddly.