Monday, June 12, 2006

Where's Aristotle When I Need Him?

There was no test for it back when I was born. Had there been, the doctors would have informed my parents that their little bundle in the pink blankie was lacking a crucial piece of female DNA. That’s right, I was born without the scrapbooking gene.

You may be saying to yourself, I didn’t know there was a scrapbooking gene, Gloria. Oh my, yes, any doctor worth his Salk (sorry, couldn’t resist) will tell you it’s right there in the mix, as surely as the “let’s stop and ask for directions” gene or the “irresistible urge to spit on your thumb and rub schmutz off strangers’ faces” gene.

As a rule, most women afflicted with SDS (Scrapbooking Deficiency Syndrome) are unaware of their impairment until it’s too late. Though I should have suspected something in grade school when I used my sticky bottle of brown mucilage for repairing a hole in my bicycle tire instead of gluing construction paper leaves onto construction paper trees.

Note to parents: It’s difficult to display a patched tire on a refrigerator door, but not impossible.

And it never occurred to me as a teenager I might be headed for creative heartbreak. Each year I started yet another five-year diary (a perennial Christmas gift from my well-meaning but forgetful grandmother) with this entry on New Year’s Day:

Dear Diary,
Not much going on here. 
Will write more tomorrow.
Your pal, 

And that was pretty much it until next year, the heady excitement of journaling snuffed out again in one day.

There was, however, no doubting my sad condition the day I showed up at my first scrapping party equipped with the pair of blunt-end scissors my children had used twenty years ago in kindergarten, a container of Elmer’s with a permanently plugged tip, notebook paper with the tattered bits still attached from the spiral binding, a ball point pen I acquired from Motel 6 on my last vacation, and a collection of cardboard toilet paper tubes, a handy item for any craft project, or so I thought.

When I saw the array of gadgetry the other women had brought--the punches, the die cutters, the colorful stickers and journaling pens, not to mention the archival paper guaranteed to outlive cockroaches--suddenly, I knew. I didn’t have it. I mean I literally didn’t have it. The gene...or the supplies.

I made it through the evening (after hiding my pitiful supplies in a potted plant) by feigning dizziness from the acid-free adhesive fumes and hanging out in the kitchen next to the chips and dip.

But on the way home, too much guacamole gurgling in my gut, I vowed to compensate for my deficiency by doing some research. If I couldn’t be a “natural” scrapbooker, then by golly, I’d fake it. I might not be able to walk the walk, but surely, I could learn to talk the talk.

With the aid of the Internet, I brushed up on the lingo. I learned that “lightfast” is not something I hope my charcoal will do when cooking out, but rather, refers to anything capable of retaining its color, even when subjected to an atomic blast. I found that “die-cut” was not something a hair stylist could do for you, but instead was a quick and easy way to put a hole in your finger in the shape of a shamrock. Or that “out-gassing” (not kidding) was not the result of feeding burritos to the dog.

Now, I felt confident to tackle the subject of scrapbooking history. Did you know that it was actually men, Aristotle and his peers, that were the first to keep notebooks? There’s no archeological evidence of puffy stickers or scalloped edges, but clearly, modern day journaling has its roots in their writings, as evidenced by this entry from Aristotle himself.

Dear Diary,
You should have seen the nerdy toga Plato had on in study hall today! 
Will write more tomorrow. 
Your pal, 

But most importantly, thanks to cable networks like Home and Garden, Discovery and DIY, I learned how to make our family photos (the ones where we resemble the Griswolds at Wally World) look like an outing at the park with the Cleavers. And with nothing more than a bit of ribbon and a pneumatic drill.

In spite of my newfound knowledge, I discovered I couldn’t deny my genes, or the lack thereof. I showed up at the next scrapping party with the proper scissors, the correct glue...and an empty Styrofoam egg carton, a handy item for any craft project, or so I thought.

The evening wasn’t a complete loss, though, despite the egg carton faux pas. I explained how I had stopped for directions on my way to the party. And for good measure, I rubbed a bit of shmutz off my hostess’ face.



At Thursday, June 15, 2006 7:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I loved it...I have the cardmaking gene but that does not translate into a scrapbooking gene...believe me, I tried...and I am ALMOST sure that the quilter's gene is on the same allele as the scrapbooking gene...missing, missing, missing! Thanks for a great laugh...I'll share it with all my scrappy friends! Signed, a Kindred spirit in Leicester

At Thursday, June 15, 2006 11:19:00 PM, Blogger gloria said...

Dear Kindred,
Allele? I bet you passed biology in high school, didn't you? As for me, I was too busy writing scathing editorials about the girls in home ec. (Yes, I failed that class, too. Who knew there were two places for thread on a sewing machine?)

But, thank you, thank you for your very kind words. Glad you enjoyed the column and that you could relate. Hey, I wonder if they're looking for a poster child for the SDS? I'm sure there must be a foundation by now. Sign us up, eh?

Say hello to your scrappies* for me.

Your kindred pal,

*Crafting term for homies.

At Wednesday, August 16, 2006 3:35:00 PM, Blogger ZaPaper said...

This is AWESOME. I loved especially the part about the toilet-paper tubes and egg cartons. That's what I would do to, or maybe just not go! Though I appreciate some of the advantages of scrapbooks. I think digital is the way to go for this. That way, you don't have to carry anything around or put it in boxes when you move...

At Thursday, August 17, 2006 1:23:00 AM, Blogger gloria said...

Thanks Z. So you don't have the gene either? Not to worry, I'm sure there's a market for tp tubes and egg carton masterpieces somewhere, wait, I know a great site with lots of ideas for just such object d'art. I came upon this site a while back when I was looking for cheesy Florida souvenirs--I collect them.

Digital would work, you're right. But I still prefer my photos loose in big boxes in the closet and the kitchen cabinets and the pantry and the barn and on top of the fridge and...



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