Hammers and Light Bulbs

Hammers and Light Bulbs

My husband had the tool kit out because he was installing a shelf for our son. I noticed (because oh boy, I am forever noticing things) that it was stuffed to the gills. Just overflowing with..with…with what?

I start pulling everything out. Do we need five hammers? Twelve pliers? We have fourteen tiny eye glass screw drivers. How am I under the impression we had none? More importantly, why are there lightbulbs here? With the hammers? Why are the lightbulbs and hammers being stored together? That’s like storing the raw hamburger meat inside the milk cartoon with the milk. Or housing the puppies with the tigers.

This is what happens when you aren’t vigilante. You make money, nurture a child, show up for a friend and boom! The hammers and lightbulbs are cohabitating. Where are my priorities?

So I said to husband, let’s spend an hour tomorrow morning fixing this. Oh, my bad, I meant all day. Just the length of time it takes to sort 400 screws in 25 varieties abiding in 20 different locations. Did you have other plans?

In a world where this was my only domain, I’d ace it. I’d be a sexy comforting one-woman home depot. Imagine I live in the closet. Husband opens the door. Hey hon, can you hand me a 9 x 2 in. Star Drive Round Head? Here ya go big boy! Thanks so much for fixing the garage door! I love you!

I can do anything if only I can just stay focused on it. But nobody has time to babysit screws and so they propagate wildly and invade the storage area like kudzu. There is no where they don’t go.

A few other observations. The toolbox, which is used every single week, was relegated to the worst possible closet real estate, literally behind a big plastic drawer that holds batteries, tape and crepe streamers. What do you think is used more often, screwdrivers or birthday streamers? You said streamers, us too, let’s give those the CEO parking space. The tools can hoof it to the bottom of the ten-level parking garage.

The final WTF was a box of DVD backups from 2005 that were easier to access than the tools. Who negotiated their primo lease? What even is a DVD backup? Oh yes, it’s coming to me. You burn files onto them like a mini hard drive so that if your computer dies you still have this valuable information. What is the valuable information that is easier to access than the vacuum cleaner attachments? Deliverables from a job I did 14 years ago? Yeah, that makes sense.

I shared these thoughts with husband and he reminded me how we came to have so many hammers. On a dog walk he came across a bag of hammers. You know the proverbial “dumb as a bag of hammers”. That kind of bag of hammers. Seven identical hammers in a thin plastic shopping bag. What’s the story there? I can’t even begin. You know what’s dumb as a bag of hammers, picking it up, bringing it home and putting it in the toolbox.

To fix something this fakakta you have to start completely over. Everything has to come out, be handled and considered. It’s a royal pain in the ass. Makes you doubt everything you believe in. But when it’s done! Ahh, you can hear the angels sing and the glory lasts. For at least a month or two. Until someone doesn’t put a screw away.

What Should I Do With These Sticks?

What Should I Do With These Sticks?

Sticks are so useful, I never have enough. Sometimes I get frustrated and gather a lot at once. As I cleaned out my overstuffed dog walk bags on my desert retreat, I discovered I did actually have enough. Way more than enough. I needed to let some go. I needed to throw them away.

No! That doesn’t feel good. I will not divest before giving them a chance at the big time. I personally selected those sticks and carried them around for months. They will have their 15 minutes. Here goes.

Check him out. He’s determined!
Can I use this fake fly as an ear?
Yes. Works so well, now he’s demanding a cap.
Next time you are in Target perusing the cookie sheets you’ll think, that would be perfect for sorting my sticks.

Even though this was the first face I made in the desert and the first post I wrote after returning home with my newly cleaned out bags, I am posting him last. He sums up the process nicely. I picked up some sticks, I arranged them into a face, I threw them away.

Seth Godin says: There’s a hackneyed expression, which is what would you do if you knew you could not fail. I find that completely unhelpful because it’s basically a genie question; You want control and you’re never gonna get it. Here’s my question. What would you do if you knew you would fail? What would be worth doing even though it’s not going to work?

I can say I will make faces out of crap on the sidewalk no matter what. I mean, what outcomes are even possible? It’s not an activity with a known outcome. And maybe that’s why I love it. It’s just a fun, joyful thing to do.

The problem, because there is always a problem, is that I collect stuff and then I am saddled with stuff. Then I have to agonize over choices. Keep it or chuck it? Keeping objects is a sign I believe in their potential, or maybe that I believe in my potential, to turn them into something that could make me smile. But is it worth the burden of having all these grubby, difficult to store objects? I really don’t know. Even as I write, all the stuff I let go of in the desert is in a plastic bag under the drawing table in my office. I haven’t thrown it away! Just in case I think of something I might need in there. Have I learned nothing? Or have I learned everything?

I do think I will throw it out, probably once the Christmas decorations rear their multitudinous heads. There won’t be room for everyone. The fact that it’s sorted in a single disposable container means it will be much easier and faster to get rid of then when it was spread over multiple bags and mixed with treasure. Processes are time consuming. If I knew how to make them not that way, I would tell you.

I think going forward I will be more choosey about what I pick up, I will try to make the face right away and when all else fails I will not berate myself for having tangible signs that I was interested in something. Better to be interested than apathetic. So, I will tell myself this: Self! If you have some junk laying around waiting to become a face, don’t get so upset. Something wonderful is sure to happen.


The Seth Godin quote comes from the Time Ferris podcast of October 26th, 2020: Seth Godin on The Game of Life, The Value of Hacks, and Overcoming Anxiety (#476). It is fantastic and I highly recommend it.

Bags of Crap Part 3 {the Bike Chain}

Bags of Crap Part 3 {the Bike Chain}
You look good.

My whole practice is about responding. It’s the opposite of visualizing an image in my head. I can’t even begin until I’ve located something. Being alert and observant is the entry point. Always on a treasure hunt, I’m lucky to live in a location with such variety of trash. (Ha! Can’t believe I’m writing that).

When I come across an item never before used, the pull to work with it is overwhelming. If I don’t have time in the moment or need a better backdrop, I pick it up and carry it with me. Stuff that resembles facial features are most likely to be remembered. They get fished out of the bag to be incorporated into a face right away, but other objects require more serendipity on their way to facehood. It’s much easier to say yes, we should do something with you, but not now, and stick you in a bag then it is to stare deeply at you until you finally start to stare back. Hence, this Bags of Crap Series. The Bags are full of intriguing non facelike objects that needed a full weekend of desert induced serendipity to coax them into saying hello.

I don’t remember finding this card but I would definitely pick it up again as he’s as close as I’m ever going to get to an authentic Prada item. His poshness however, was not an asset. Not only was he was never needed to complete a face on the pavement, he wasn’t even a contender. Business cards are hard! Can you think of what to do with them? But all on his own, he’s rising to the occasion letting me know what he thinks of me and my process.

I hope I don’t get fired for being so dirty.

It’s one thing to carry a slip of paper around for several months, broken car mirrors and bicycle chains are another story. Mostly I would say, you have to make the face right away and then leave that junk where you found it. But I picked them up. And carried them around. And felt annoyed by them until the desert.

A detached and rusty bicycle chain is just a really cumbersome thing to haul around. It’s greasy and heavy. Not good for purses. But it did suggest a strong ability to make a head and shoulders outline, stronger than most items I encounter. Once you’ve committed to storing it inside a doggy poop bag and lugged it up and down the street for several weeks, you are stuck in a creative sunk cost fallacy. You can’t bear to cut it loose without getting that face in return. I got so tired of schlepping it I stopped using my bag altogether and started another one. This has not seemed like the right choice. Until now. I am happy to share that he was worth the wait/weight.

I didn’t imagine pairing him with desert dirt and dropped salt cedar leaves. I thought he’d be on pavement. Lucky me! My wonderful host and friend suggested the mustache. She’s got so much style!

Available for dates. Check me out on match.com.

Now for the final high challenge item, the difficulty of making a face on a mirror is camera reflection. I used this as an opportunity for a self portrait. I really like it!

Do you think the person whose car suffered this accident would feel even one tiny bit better if they knew this was the outcome? We don’t always see how things play out. Sometimes something wonderful is born from something sad.

Okay guys, I did it!!! It took two and half years, but I cleaned out the bags and made some faces. The vacuum cleaner now has the closet floor space to herself and I have two empty purses back in rotation for other types of adventures. I’m officially crossing this off the To Do list! Time to call Mom!