Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Was Framed! - Craft's "True" Intention?

I like to make things that have a look of antiquity about them. In my mind, if a thing already looks like it has lasted the pass of time, then maybe it will be valued more for its supposed longevity and showed closer continued care. I'm sure I could come up with some blatant exceptions to this hypothesis: the extinction of the VHS, ageism, press board furniture. Still, I think there's a reason for the resurgence of homemade (or homey-looking) things in recent culture. DYI crafts are things made with meaning rather than Ikea-assemble-it yourself-junk, or purchased off the shelf. The "old-fashioned" quality that appeals so much to our generation is the time and feeling put into the craft.

Maybe, it also has something to do with the impermanence of the era in which we live. Most of our photo albums are online, you can't shuffle through those memories in your hands. One crash of an email provider, and 10 years of correspondence is gone- like it never existed. In a world where so much is available at our fingertips in a second, there is very little that we actually touch and keep forever.

I must admit that there's a selfish desire for immortality in my creations as well. I know I may grow apart from even my dearest friends from my 20's. But if I pore over hundreds of stitches in a personalized embroidery now, it may be harder for my loved ones to forget me later. With my gift staring them down from its perch in their reading nook, I have a greater chance of friend retention. "Think of Sarah," the stitches call, "She sure was great, huh? You should give her a call sometime." Now you know the real root of it. I don't really give presents, I just make preemptive friendship investments. It's purely selfish.

I chose the frame for Amy and Scott's wedding sampler from a collection of antique frames stashed under a spare bed in my parents home. I had hoped for a little more gild and a little less arts-n-crafts but I think it worked out. The greatest charm of it was my discovery of the frame's previous occupant: Meet Claudette Colbert, the 1930's starlet of "It Happened One Night", screwball comedy actress, and Kennedy Center Honor Recipient. This picture depicts her as pretty fair, but she actually looks a little more like the bride in her other portraits. Fate, perhaps?

I hope you know me well enough to know I'm not really a big, conceited jerk. If you don't, well, be forewarned.

Monday, May 2, 2011

An Eye for An Eye? - On Osama

I don't generally enjoy sharing my opinion on political matters. I dodge conversations about upcoming elections. Generally, this is because when I'm with my family I tend to be the "far left" black sheep. Yet, somehow, with many of my friends, I tend to be the more conservative of the gaggle- even if only by a social issue or hesitancy to commit myself to a side.

But today, I feel strongly that I don't feel good about how people are responding to the death of Osama bin Laden. I don't claim to be the only one effected by this news this way, but it does seem that an inordinate number of people are celebrating this man's death. It conjures up a scene of an old-timey American hanging, perhaps following a witch hunt. (Not a perfect analogy, but do you understand where I'm going with it?)

I do not think this man should have been free to continue to wreak havoc on ours and other nations. I do not even really know that he is the cause of havoc in our nation or simply an overzealous terrorist seeking fame and blame. I don't think he's an innocent creature and I think he deserves punishment. I think, however, that murderers like him need to sit with their mistakes for the rest of their life. What punishment is death? It is much more like release than incarceration.

My freshman year of college at Kenyon, there was an amnesty group who had set up a folding table outside the cafeteria. They were advocating against the death penalty in Ohio. I wrote my representative a letter urging him to consider an alternative. I don't remember my words exactly but I know I shared this true thing with him: My aunt was inconceivably murdered by a man who took his own life in the cop car that was supposed to drive him to jail. Had he lived, I want to believe I could have forgiven him. As it was, he died with all of my anger towards him intact. I didn't want that man to die anymore than I wanted my Aunt to die.

America needs an opportunity to learn forgiveness. I'm not suggesting that anyone FORGET. But, what lesson is learned by the murder of a man, or by 2,753, or 4,452, or even 1,033,00? A man's death is nothing to celebrate. An attitude of humility and forgiveness and a genuine desire and effort to stop killing people, that would be something to fly a flag for.
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