“You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.” — Robin WIlliams
As for my smaller lighter brooch I made and wore today, it was wildly successful. Sure, I had a couple of eyerolls and a bit of derision. 98% was effusively humorous. One person asked me to make one for her husband, who struggles to avoid losing lighters. I imagined him on the construction site with a lighter-brooch on his shirt, while his coworkers chortled at him. The woman at the gas station thought it was both practical and creative. The booth clerk at the flea market said, “Art is in the eye of the beholder. That’s fairly creative, X.”
Though I make these things to be creative and for self-amusement, I also accidentally discover human behavior lessons by doing so.
You’ll hear me say with regularity, “Anything can be made into a brooch if you’re audacious enough.” The fact that I have one made out of a pregnancy test should be proof enough of that.
“Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.” -Oscar Wilde
Rare is the person who directly expresses displeasure. Not so much about the specific idea or implementation; rather, the IDEA of such a thing. Those people are to be avoided. It belies a lack of enthusiasm for creativity and the autonomy of others to be ridiculous. People who can’t engage in random acts of ridiculousness aren’t part of my tribe, to put it mildly.
People who directly say, “It’s not that clever or not appealing” either do so because they are honest, which is truly a great thing, or they can’t help but to express negativity, which is its opposite. I’m carefree about people’s reactions but I do notice when someone isn’t engaging in a spirit of enthusiasm or encouragement. Life is bland enough without encouraging more of the same.
To everyone who thought it was clever, thank you. To those who didn’t, I can’t hit all home runs. But out of the hundreds of people I ran across today, my cigarette lighter brooch was the most singular thing I saw anyone wearing today. And that’s a home run each and every time – in part because it gives people the opportunity to be amused, annoyed, or to interact. I can’t be certain that NO ONE has ever made a working cigarette lighter brooch. But I am certain that the idea came to me from the mist of my own mind – and that no one I know has ever seen one. Until today. That makes me happy.
The best line I came up with today was a play on words: “Can I send you a Bic pic?”
“Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” – Albert Einstein
I have more than two full shelves of brooches and wearables now. That picture on the shelf is one of my Uncle Buck in the bathtub, taken about 50 years ago. It brings a bit of laughter to my face when I look at it. I’m not smiling because although I snapped five pictures, all the other ones look like I was just hit with a can of whipped cream.
Since my surgery, the nutritionist told me to eat at least 75 grams of protein a day. My boss Joe quipped, “You’re gonna have to get those numbers up.” I used to mock guys who lugged around a jug of protein powder. But it’s a lot less expensive than buying cases of good nutrition drinks. I’ve always loved the taste of raw protein and similar emulsifiers, so I think this will be good. Ignore me if my mustache is always powdery, okay? * I got a list of dumbbell exercises that I’m supposed to do. No pushups for a while, though. 🙂 I have three dumbbells in the apartment: two five-lb ones and myself.
Before I started doing pushups on June 1st, my shoulder hurt from my job, especially my right shoulder. The pain went to basically zero within six weeks. If that nonsense returns, I’m going to start eating a lot ice cream. I researched it on the internet because that’s where we’re supposed to get our health advice. Millions of people can’t be wrong. * Neighbor: “X, would you like to have kids?” “Why, do you have extra you need to get rid of?” * Customer service call: “Would you like to hold or be held?” (I’m pretty sure that’s what they said…) * I’m always surprised by the number of washing machines at nudist colonies. But not by the number of contact rashes. * “Sometimes making a meal with your best friend” could be read as tandem food preparation OR that you’re a cannibal. * My friend Rodney told me that he was so excited that his wife had joined him in a love of shooting. Since I was over at his house a couple of weeks ago, I heard his wife Jane tell another friend, “Let’s target practice on Saturday.”
I told Rodney he might check her Target rewards card because she didn’t mean the other kind of target practice. * “Silence is a superpower.” – X * If you play rock/paper/scissors, studies have proven that if you ask the other person a question immediately before playing, they will most likely select “scissors” as their first choice.
P.S. Can one of y’all tell me how RPS isn’t an Olympic sport already? P.P.S. Rock-Paper-Scissors should be played with real objects for maximum unsafety. * Lately, I’ve kept my promise to say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand.” It undoubtedly exasperates people. While I can’t reliably speak on behalf of other people, it’s hard to believe that they don’t suffer from the same tendency to attempt to avoid admitting they “don’t get it.” Part of my own journey led me to realize it was something I needed to backtrack and work on. I’m getting the hint, though. A lot of people’s hair is suddenly standing on end when they deal with me. 🙂 “There’s no such thing as a dumb question” suddenly seems to be completely false. * “There’s dark blue, dark red, dark green.. but there’s no real dark yellow.” Whoever said this hasn’t bee in the hospital, eaten really strong vitamins, nor consumed an entire box of cheerios in one sitting.”
I got to use a version of a classic joke while answering health questions: “X, do you smoke?” “I’ve never looked.” * Hope’s vending machine: a wishing well. (This one is not mine either, but I loved it.) * I filled my day with a variety of activities; a few were random acts of kindness, a couple were to beautify this place around me, and the rest were a combination of careful exercise, reading, and trying to eat calories and protein. I love the days but I’m still learning to fill the absence of people with ‘other.’ * If you didn’t read my “Bullets” post earlier, you missed a couple of juicy bits. *
A gaggle of young runners made their way up Poplar toward the traffic light. I was outside near the crosswalk measuring for an address plaque I’m making for the apartment simplex. The last runner was struggling to catch up. “You won’t always be last,” I told him as he crossed Gregg. “I hate running!” He said. I laughed. “You won’t hate it the day you leave all of them behind you, though.” I gave him the thumbs up.
Around 8 last night, I heard weird popping noises. I didn’t think much of it. I was standing outside on the deck. Waking up this morning, I discovered that an unidentified idiot shot into the apartments by the trail on Poplar Street. Automatic gunfire, too. I can see the apartments and trail from the crosswalk outside the apartment. Y’all can scoff, but I wish I’d taken a walk last night. There’s no better adventure story than gunfire after sunset. Have you noticed that almost no nincompoops get up at 5 a.m., drink a cup of coffee, and start shooting? We need a better class of hooligans in Fayetteville! Also, bullets are expensive.
I bought four pieces of bacon in the work cafeteria this morning. (No, I’m not authorized to return to work yet. At least not PAID work.) It’s been a year since I had bacon. Bacon salt has been my salvation in the interim. When I got back to the apartment, I made lettuce and bacon wraps. I may have blacked out with pleasure for a moment.
I also left a surprise brooch for someone today. Nothing says, “Good morning!” as inexplicably as a surprise brooch. Today, I’m wearing a spectacular fleur-de-lis brooch that I found at Peace At Home. I’d not thought much about the symbol until recently. Like so many symbols, it’s an ancient one. When I chose the name “X,” I thought I was simplifying things. Lord, the number of things “X” can signify is astonishing, even though it is just a single letter. It’s nice having a name that looks the same regardless of direction.
Seeing someone’s ASL post this morning made me realize that people around me didn’t know I was saying “Please” a lot of the time. It may look like I’m rubbing my heart. I learned it from a deaf man who attempted to work at Cargill years ago. “Please” and “Thank you” are both great visuals, even in normal conversation – not that I’m sure what that is. People running away from me with their palms clamped firmly over their ears give me the wrong impression.
I finished the address plaque for the apartments. I used reflective numbers. And I couldn’t quite bring myself to NOT put a little bling and beauty on there in the form of a dragonfly. I also installed a nice solar light above it, either to illuminate the reflective numbers I chose – or so that the idiots shooting automatic weapons will have something other than my ass to aim at if they find themselves with an oversupply of bullets.
Other: * While chatting with my case manager, I did offer to re-write my surgical report. It needs a plot twist and a little bit of pizzazz. And/or humor and brevity: “Patient failed to notice my approach as I used a #11 blade to gut him. We found a herniation near the appendix but this box of Cracker Jacks did not have a surprise.” * A random internet person read my post about Tammy’s weight loss: “You have no idea how seeing you and your friend have motivated me. I think I have your incremental idea in my head now. I’ve already lost ten lbs, just by deciding to do a few small things each day. Such as choosing differently, doing exercises every hour while at work, and keeping my mouth shut as much as I can. You’re right. Food can’t get in there if it isn’t open!” * Another person wrote me and asked me if this quote is mine: “Saying you aren’t photogenic is kinda like saying you’re better looking than all available evidence.” No, but I wish I had. It’s pithy and logical. * A Bit Of Daily Motivation: “Have you stopped to think that somewhere there’s a tree growing that might one day become your coffin?” *
I visited my primary care doctor this morning. Inexplicably, my appointment started 45 minutes later than it was supposed to. Due to C19 (thanks, Lynette, for the cool abbreviation), I had to wait in the parking lot, observing the spectrum of patients waiting to be called from their vehicles. That’s what gave me time to write my Stolen Beauty post. Since I arrived 1/2 an hour early, I called 30 minutes after my appointment. Drinking two nutrition drinks, two bottles of water, and two cups of coffee before leaving the apartment (one from Kum & Go) left me with a conundrum: public urination in said parking lot or going inside the covid perimeter to the bathroom. Luckily, the woman on the phone could hear that I was almost gargling with the need to go. The nurse and I had a long and fascinating conversation about hospital conditions, my journey toward losing all the weight, and a dozen other topics. She told me she’d been put in the position of being the only nurse on an entire wing before she left her last job at a hospital. She also encouraged me to hide behind the door in an attempt to scare the doctor. Again. I’m guessing we laughed thirty times while we talked. Laughter is the best medicine – and they’ll likely bill me for that too. 🙂
The notecard is one I left on the doctor’s table prior to his arrival. He laughed about that, too. No one found the other couple of witty messages I placed in the exam room. At least, not yet.
I did hide behind the exam room door to scare and/or startle him. I think he might have charted himself a reminder to check behind the door on the way in, though, because he cautiously opened the door and peeked around just as I surprised him. The doctor was in shock that I’d lost so much weight. During my last visit, I told him he’d never see me fat again. I asked him to chart it when I last saw him, because I knew then what no one else believed: I was done being overweight. Though unplanned, The Stay at the hospital left me about 90 lbs. lighter than the last time he’d seen me. I told him the story. He said, “Yours is the single biggest self-done transformation I’ve witnessed as a doctor.” Please forgive me if this comes across as humblebragging. I stopped taking my blood pressure medication shortly after I saw him last year. Yes, my blood pressure has been fantastic since I went below 190 lbs. He told me details about my procedure that I hadn’t known. A herniation happened around my appendix, an improbable combination. He couldn’t tell me if they removed my appendix, though. Because of the CT Scan in the ER, the surgeons expected a tumor or something horrendous. I never knew that. The area affected was minimal compared to what they expected. They gutted me and fixed it in record time. Biopsies and lab tests confirmed nothing suspicious. He said I might be able to return to work once the staples are removed from my abdomen. (Note: they don’t want you to keep them and make a commemorative necklace out of them. That’s disappointing!) The doctor and I talked for several minutes. We laughed several times, too. I’ll never forget last year when I told him that I was over wasting time gaining and losing weight.
I didn’t sleep well last night. But I did stand on the landing outside my apartment as the lightning, wind, and rain made their approach. I could feel its chilly proximity. When the sheets of rain reached me, I felt like I was the only person outside witnessing it. It was sometime after 1 a.m. It was beautiful. The clotted overhead gutters gushed water in torrents unidirectionally. I was glad to have witnessed it. Later, around 4:30, as I started my morning, I watched the lower water-laden branches of a tree cast witch shadows across the pavement, the movement resembling awkward stop-motion photography. After my doctor’s visit, I noted that the parking lot is increasingly awash in thousands of newly-fallen leaves. I said “Hello” to the hummingbirds, who’ll soon leave for the season.
Because of the cause and a friend always recommended it, I went to Peace At Home Thrift Store. I found a shirt that called my name. I had to cut the shoulder pads out of it, which indicates which section I found it in. And for a pittance, I bought several things that seemed like they needed to come home with me. One of them is a nice fleur-de-lis brooch inset with sparkling stones. The woman who helped me pick them out had on a cacophony of jewelry herself. She laughed when I said, “I don’t really wear jewelry.”
Because it’s so close, I had to celebrate the great doctor’s visit by going to Renzo’s and getting a Caprese salad. I liked Caprese before but discovered that Renzo’s connected the dots regarding what it is SUPPOSED to taste like. When I arrived at the apartment, I ate half of it with pleasure. You might have heard me yum-yumming with delight?
“Old keys don’t open new doors.” That’s true. But they unlock parts of our lives that need to be examined. Closed rooms are secrets, ones that occupy parts of our minds and hearts that need to be aired out. A house is meant to be lived in – and our minds are meant to be free and open.
This beautiful key was a gift. It hangs on the wall next to my stove.
P.S. IF all goes well, I might be able to return to work shortly after my staples are removed.
A visit to Sam’s proved valuable in my quest for tomfoolery. The door checker was very adamant I use the Scan-As-You-Go feature. I told him I thought that was for the bathroom. (Is that joke funny?) Among my many feats, I went down the chip and nut aisle and scanned every item on it, about 50 items. And then asked for help to remove “a couple” of things I needed to delete from my app checkout cart. Several people asked for assistance because I still wore my work badge, soft purple shirt, and fantastic Dance Commander brooch. I did my best to help them except for the last guy, who was in a bad mood and couldn’t find the coffee on sale. Without missing a beat, I told him it was all the way in the back rear corner, past the paper towels. Note: it’s not there. But it was the furthest point from me in the store. He walked off, and I decided it would be a good time to leave. I hope he complains about me to the manager! If I don’t get Employee of The Month, I’ll know who to blame. . The picture of 3 photos is of the upper right corner of my fridge, which I’m loading with photo magnets. Everyone in the pictures except me suffers or suffered from addiction issues. Of the 5 other people in the photos, all but one of them died with their addictions. My sister Marsha is making another heroic effort to right her ship as I write this. Having phrased it slightly wrong when I said “other than me,” the truth is that everyone suffers if they love someone with addictions. Watching someone get on the diving board and stay there and then lose the battle is one of the most painful experiences any of us can live through.
There are no bystanders to addiction. . It’s nice having a metal door. Not because it heats up to 180 F in the summer. Or prevents most people from being able to kick it. No, I like it because I can fill it with photo magnets and nonsense. . The purpose of the picture of me against the brownish wallpaper background is two-fold: to show the brooch I wore today and to give publicity to someone’s kitchen wallpaper. I’m not standing in said kitchen. I took a picture of me standing near the trail and transposed myself onto the wild wallpaper background. The brooch inspired a lot of comments: Is it a pilot’s insignia? Was it a repurposed military medal? My go-to response was this: I’ve been promoted to Dance Commander. Whatever you do, DO NOT go to YouTube and watch “Dance Commander – Electric Six.” I love the song, but I’m guessing 103% of y’all won’t. (It’s more than 100% due to the number of my social media friends who have multiple voices in their heads.)
. The picture of the two pennies was the second brooch I made. I gave it to my Director as a gift. If the joke is too thin, it’s this: “Here are my two cents worth.” It might come in handy in conversations.
. The picture of the broken watch is sentimental. I broke off 1/2 of the band and attached a brooch clip on the reverse. I couldn’t bring myself to discard the broken watch. The phoenix in me told me to give it new life – so I did.
. The fuchsia-colored bird metalwork is something I had made by Married To The Metal on Etsy. I painted it when I moved here. If you’re interested, you should look up the word “Onism” on “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.” It’s delightful and an apt reminder while I live inside this box. It is where I discovered the word “Sonder” and many others that are a delight.
. The picture of the edge of my deck is my color tile project-in-the-making. Several of the neighbors probably think of me as some kind of artist because, most days, I’m on the deck painting a variety of things that look out of place. The apartment simplex has a variety of people: dealer, disabled, dog people, and probable serial killer. I have a lot to shoot for if I want to become the most infamous resident here. To be accused of too much color and art would be a glorious compliment.
. I went outside and picked up a lot of trash. I quit, though, because my neighbor Bill got angry when I tried to put him in a trash bag. Please take a shower, Bill. Joking aside, I find myself picking up the mess here often. It’s not my job, but I hope I never get to the point where such things don’t register in my brain; doing so will mean I’ve accepted my environment. There are several things about this place that are very much in need of handcuffs, flamethrowers, or eye-rolling. While I was out, I managed to place another prank in plain view. Just call me Prank Sinatra. . A FedX truck barreled into the parking lot while I stood outside, relishing the breeze. The driver had salsa music blaring. For southerners, ‘salsa music’ isn’t music you listen to while you eat Tex-Mex, by the way. The driver was surprised I greeted him in Spanish. I love watching drivers pull up and always hope they need a signature. They can expect a lot of interesting scenarios with the crowd who lives here. Barking, sometimes even from actual dogs, suspiciously-folded window blinds, and a strange cast of characters. . I have to go choose among my 17 colors of paint and see what needs brightening now. I know I don’t. I hope the mood lasts. Last evening was a challenge for me. In closing, I’d like to add: no, Marilyn, I don’t have a cat yet, although I suspect I ate a bit of cat food in the cafeteria this morning at work.
I was given this Jesus pendant as a little surprise.
Since I received a bit of advice from Erika, who has a lot of jewelry experience, something many people don’t know, I chose it to be my first DIY brooch. Amazon and Hobby Lobby provided my first essential kits to get started. Anything can be a brooch if you’re sufficiently motivated. That’s fair warning. 🙂
I ordered a simple soldering kit to learn to make them properly. You’ll know when the kit arrives, because you’ll see a post of me being surprised I melted my fingers or stuck the soldering iron on my cheek accidentally.
I had the Jesus pendant on the window sill facing the kitchen, displayed.
It wasn’t until two weeks later that I discovered that it was actually a directional double image locket; one perspective Jesus, the other Mary.
Not to stretch the comparison, but I wonder how many other obvious surprises are hidden in plain sight.
The fact that I’m kind of a doofus for failing to realize it’s actually a visual illusion shouldn’t be a surprise.
It’s devilishly difficult to photograph these!
It’s the first brooch I’ve ever made, at least in an attempt to do so properly.
PS I’m not a Christian, but I love the message, even as I continue to fail to remember to do unto others.
The world is more interconnected than I’d imagine, even though I think about this often.
I received a text today: “X, the brooches are 1/2 off. You ought to come and add to your collection.”
Not having a-n-y idea who the text was from, I resisted the urge to reply. Before making it home, I imagined that it could only be one of two places, so I pulled into the flea market parking lot and went inside.
I limited myself to four, although they were affordable.
When I went to pay for them, I didn’t mention the text.
“Hello, X,” the cashier said.
The cashier remembered me, noting I didn’t have a brooch on my shirt today. (I’d forgotten it, along with several other things, even though I had the items next to the door.) I still had on my work badge. It is difficult to overlook the single large “X” on it.
“You can’t beat half off of something you’d buy for full price,” she added.
I told her that I was about to embark on making my own and deciding whether to get soldering tools or use felt and glue. With enough creativity, just about anything can be converted to a brooch or clip.
“But I will still stop by and see what catches my eye. It’s mainly color, of all kinds.”
When I got home, I laughed, realizing that one of today’s projects was painting some long floor tiles cobalt metallic blue. They, of course, aren’t going on the floor. What kind of foolishness would that be? 🙂
Part of my laugh was that it didn’t occur to me to ask who sent the text, or if I had encountered multiple coincidences by picking that particular flea market.
The mystery remains.
And I love that this is true.
P.S. Grammatically speaking, both ‘broach’ and ‘brooch’ are correct for these pieces of jewelry.