Garfield has been staring at me reproachfully all summer.
It all began so innocently last April when I had a seemingly brilliant idea… on my blog I would feature some of the more bizarre items I was having trouble parting with and my faithful readers could help me to shed them.
(Remember: I am, what one might refer to as a Clutter-Monger, so even after writing an entire book on the subject of clutter, the struggle continues. By the way “Proto-hoarder” is also a term that works. I tried the term “Baby-hoarder” but that just sounded like I hoard babies, and that would be a different conversation entirely.)
So… in theory: an entertaining subject (my strange things) with a noble purpose (both getting rid of it and showing it can be done. Hopefully.) Perfect, right? To that end you may recall I took what was intended to be the first of many reader polls, regarding one unfinished latch-hook rug of Garfield, the famed cartoon cat, that had been leftover from my youth. What should I do with it?? I implored blog readers. Tell me!! The verdict returned resoundingly, and perhaps unsurprisingly: Get rid of it Eve!
The majority instructed me to donate Garfield to some appreciative cause, so I settled on our local library children’s room as an ideal recipient. (Cause “Garfield” is kinda literature…. right?) Then came the difficult part: in order to make this item something anyone, anywhere, might actually want, I had to finish it, even though I had never done anything of the sort before.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m crafty as all get out; I love making stuff. That’s part of the problem… I can make stuff out of other stuff all day long, which leads to keeping all manner of weirdo orphan objects in the vain hope I may someday get around to turning them into something wonderful. So yes, I sew, BUT- I am entirely self-taught. Because of this fact, I am still trying to figure out things like the proper, non-Eve-improvised way to incorporate a zipper, or what the hell “ease” is, or why the automatic buttonhole foot looks like a little tiny medieval torture device for mice. This all leads to the occasional moment of distress when I am attempting anything more complicated than a Halloween costume.
So, every time I glanced in the direction of Garfield-the-Latch-Hook-rug there was this big, fat, I don’t know staring me in the face. If you have a clutter problem in your life, then you know that the emergence of an “I don’t know” is more than enough to halt everything— EVERYTHING— indefinitely. Perhaps forever. So all summer long, no matter what I did or where I went, when I got back home Garfield was there waiting for me, staring at me from the chair where I had draped him, with that grumpy look on his face, awaiting the answer to I don’t know.
Which brings me to the fact that, after weeks of truly Olympic-level procrastination, about two weeks ago I found myself at our friendly neighborhood Jo-Ann Fabrics, and I realized the moment had arrived. Having pretty much no idea what I was doing, I purchased what looked like the right zipper and a half-yard of some black velveteen.
Yes, I was now spending actual money in a quest to make someone take this item from me. But never mind that- I brought the items home and laid them out on the sewing table and stared at them. Garfield looked dubious. You are going to kill me, aren’t you? he murmured balefully.
No. Yes. Maybe, I replied. I pulled up a series of YouTube videos on the subject of zipper sewing and got to work.
It’s amazing to me the enormous, paralyzing power of I don’t know. Throughout the entire process I could feel my brain resisting, earnestly trying to talk me out of this… I ended up having a weird conversation with myself as I tried to install the zipper.
My brain: Hmph! This is ridiculous. What if you ruin it?
Me: Then at least I’ll have tried. If I ruin it then at least I’ll finally feel justified in throwing it away. Either way my problem is solved.
My brain: Don’t you feel stupid spending time on something you aren’t even keeping?
Me: It’s my time to spend how I like. Some people carve soap. Some people dye eggs. Some people do whimsical taxidermy.
My brain: You are so going to muff this up.
Me: Well, okay, but what’s the worst thing that could happen? I mean, besides sewing my finger to a cartoon cat? At least then I could claim the title of the weirdest emergency room visit that day.
The voice in my head was right on at least one point though— I did feel supremely stupid. Who did I think I was kidding? I couldn’t do this! As I tried for the third time to install the zipper the velveteen began to unravel in places. Crap! Then, just as visions of making another trip to the fabric store to spend even more time and even more money on something just so I could get rid of it were dancing in my head, at last, the zipper was in. I wasn’t winning any prizes in Home-Economics class mind you, but it was in. I had a look of rather grim determination on my face and the thought occurred to me that my expression was beginning to resemble Garfield’s.
Last came the pinning and sewing of the pillow to the backing fabric. And here, I was totally making it up- I hadn’t even watched a YouTube video on this. But you know what? Turns out there really aren’t all that many ways to make a pillow. It worked! I did have to undo and resew a few bits, to make the latch-hook canvas less visible and to get the ears properly pointy but once that was done, and stuffed with filling, I was amazed. Garfield actually looked just as I always imagined he would, way back when I first made him as a kid. Just like a latch-hook rug looks when you have it made into a pillow.
I brought Garfield-the-Now-Pillow to the living room and displayed him, trophy-like on the ottoman. Everyone humored me by ooh-ing and ahh-ing. What’s funny is how ridiculously proud I am of this irrelevant accomplishment. You’d think I’d found a cure for ear hair or something.
I think what I’m proud of is not the fact that I’ve made a halfway decent pillow. What I’m proud of is that I didn’t let that voice in my head stop me. The fear of “making a mistake” can be a blind-sidingly powerful fear, and these days I understand that it is that fear which is at the root of all my clutter. Letting go of that fear, or at least refusing to listen to it, is the very best thing I can do. If I can overcome my fear, then I’m pretty sure I can overcome my clutter. Even if it doesn’t all happen to have reproachful eyes that can follow me all summer long.
All that’s left now is to contact our local library. And break the news to our cat. She’s taken rather a liking to Garfield. Hmm. Do you think she could be considered an appreciative recipient?