Wednesday, December 21, 2011

worms' meat of me

i received a “what is going on, are you ok?” kind of message the other day and it made me realize how long i’ve gone without posting anything on here--almost the entire season of autumn. truly sorry to anyone who might’ve been worried. i’m not dead, totally fine, just busy.

the month of october was too much. one four-day weekend i had two article interviews, four photo shoots (one of them huge) and a visiting author reading event (jonathan franzen). the following weekend i worked a booth at a readers/writers/publishers trade show, participated in a five-hour strategic planning meeting and did another big photo shoot. every weekend was just packed. during the weekdays i had articles and photos due, an entire book due to the printers (not one that i wrote, but edited and designed covers and helped put together), other random assignments...i can easily handle busy work weeks as long as i have weekends to recover, but there was none of that.

november 8 was the climax. sometime back in august i was half-persuaded and half-volunteered myself to do a giant sewing project for an upcoming benefit event. basically it’s a bookworm mascot costume. it wasn’t supposed to be due until late february, but suddenly the due date was pushed three and a half months and i needed to have it ready to debut at the nicole krauss reading event on november 8. this fun, creative project became a huge source of stress in my life. it made it so that even when i had moments of downtime i couldn’t relax because i knew i should be using that time to work on the bookworm.

if by some chance you’ve never sewn a seven-foot-long, foam-filled, freaky-looking “counterculture” worm costume without the benefit of a pattern or tutorial, let me tell you how it goes. turns out the tubular, round shape of a worm segment is a very difficult thing to construct, especially when they have to be joined together and loop around a human body. also, in the final stages of sewing, there were times i had to turn my sewing machine sideways, wedge the entire mass of the worm’s width between me and my sewing table, reach as far forward as i could, smothering myself in bookworm bosom, sewing blind and hoping my fingertips wouldn’t become part of the costume. i got a taste of what it must be like to try to accomplish things with the kind of morbid obesity that doesn’t fit through door frames.

i put the finishing touches on the worm just hours before the reading, sending numerous folks around me into cardiac arrest...i knew i would finish it, that’s just how i have to do stuff sometimes, absolute last minute. my procrastination was further complicated by the fact that ms. krauss’s flight was delayed and she cancelled on us, so we found another author willing to fly in from california, again, just hours before the reading. that whole day was a blur of frantic phone calls and emails and social media and research.

the plan all along was that i would both make and wear the bookworm costume. what no one (including me) anticipated was that wearing this enormous, heavy, thick bastard of a worm shell was going to make me claustrophobic. one of my coworkers helped me dress backstage about ten minutes before my cue. once i’d wiggled into the belly of the beast i jammed myself in a half-open exit door for the cool, fresh air to keep me calm. i heard my cue, lumbered out on stage in front of about 500 people, gave a pretty damn good performance considering my brain was about to pop, trotted backstage, sprinted out the back door, confused a lot of people on the street, waved at gawking onlookers in restaurants, turned a tight corner and scared the hell out of a theater attendant on her smoke break (“i thought i was being attacked by puff the magic dragon!”), and dashed into the lobby where a couple friends helped pull the thing off of me.

then it was finally over. that was my last major due date for a while, and even though i always have a lot of ongoing projects demanding my time, i practiced saying "no" to some things and gradually started to make time for myself again.

now i’m enjoying two weeks off for the holidays, and my current main project is nothing but fun: xmas presents. i’ll try to start posting more and put up photos of some things i’ve made. i hope everyone’s having a fabulous holiday season!


pensive said...

The Puff the Magic Dragon thing would have made me pee in the suit.

Glad you made it out alive!

GoneferalinID said...

Sorry I didn't get to you last weekend, I had my own worm to tackle. Maybe we can sneak off at some point and go enjoy the garden aglow. I'm off late tonight for the weekend.

Emily said...

pensive--thanks! i'm glad i made it out without a full-on panic attack.

goneferal--no worries, i've been busy too. i wish it would snow--the garden lights look so much cooler with snow on the ground.

be said...

i want to see this worm costume!!!