Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Week 18 or Last-minute gift bag

At some point, I was making enough bags that I felt compelled to write down dimensions. Finished, fabric and handle dimensions. What I assumed I'd remember was how to assemble these cut items into a finished bag. Alas, I made an ass out of u and me by sewing the gift bag sideways. The box of Harbor Sweets chocolates still fit, and nobody said anything, so I guess my ass is covered.

Yesterday I had the privilege of being at a party for library construction. I used to work at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. I bet you didn't know there was a state agency that dealt with libraries. Or a federal grant program that funds things like homework centers and construction. Well, Massachusetts has one of the best, and I was lucky to work there helping administer those grant programs, with an amazing crew of women (and a couple of decent guys, too) at a critical time in my life.

I had been out of college enough years that I should have had a career plan going, but I didn't. I was young enough that I should have had a full set of parents, perhaps even grandparents. But that ended. These women (and men) gave me the support I needed to get through that. (My mom had been a librarian for a short time. She had an MLS and even was the director of a small rural library. But her opinions got the better of her and she couldn't quite keep her mouth shut around the board of directors, so she found another career to pursue. But we kept going to our local library.) They were the mothers I needed when my mother was no more.

There I was, a child with so much to offer, but very little confidence and even less direction. This crew, several of whom are still on the job, took me in and they keep on saying nice things about me, even 15 years later. They encouraged me to take a course on industrial design. (My marker skills can still attest to that.) They got me interested in how buildings work and made me think I might like to be an architect. (I don't really, but I have a better understanding of public building design. Chances are, if you can't find the bathroom, it's because the place is poorly laid out, not because you're a moron.) I learned from them how to run a grant program and they will be there as I move into my first year chairing a grant committee. They're decorating my children's school library with their excess ALA swag posters. Even the ones who came on board after I left have been kind and generous beyond their pay grades. In short, I can't thank them enough for what they've done and who they are.

I really should have planned ahead and made a bag last week. I really should have gotten Patience a present before the morning of the party. I really should have had it wrapped before I had to leave for the party. But I didn't. Oh well. Move on. Work with what you have. Which is a sewing machine, friends who pick up random supplies while they're looking for things for their classroom, and neighbors who sell off exorbitant lengths of fabric for a song. So I made this little sideways bag to put the box of chocolates in, and it went over well. In the making, I was reminded of the first such bag I gave away as wrapping for a present. Mary Litterst, wherever you are, I hope you are still enjoying many a fabulous lunch in a fancy bag.


Susanna Baird said...

I love this post! (And this bag!) What a great time in your life to write about - and what a cool organization. And from now on, when I can't find a public bathroom, I'm totally thinking about you.

Alexa said...

And when you see someone cursing at a central-pay parking meter, you can tell them "It's not you, it's just a poorly designed machine."

MysteryMaven said...

Hi Alexa,
It was lovely to see you a few weeks back. I did not send you the promised swag so now I must excavate my office to find something for their school.
You are a special woman and we were privileged to have you as part of our library team.
A big hug from the North End.