Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Swearing Powers Most Models Of Sewing Machines.

Rae learning to address an issue.
I swear. I have always sworn. It pops out like little exclamation points to my already exaggerated expressions. I swear like a dock worker.

My mother raised me to be a lady. Ankles crossed, book on head, demure downward glances, modesty, death before a gas bubble from either end. My mother very rarely swore. My paternal grandmother only swore once that I remember. She had stuck a fork in the toaster and it launched her. We children were sitting on the porch and came flying into the house with the commotion.. Not so much to help but to see if she would do it again.

There were curse jars in my grandparent's house. They were pried open because we were all little larcenists. And there was almost nothing there. In my house the jars provided bus fare and treat money if coupled with that from the inside of the couch. Because my children swore like troopers. Blond angelic cuss monsters. Father Tim hardly swears unless seriously provoked.

There are pictures of me in full curse as a youngster`. English and French. Hands on hips and flipping a finger or thumb.

My sewing teacher in high school gave me a machine off to the side because the sewing machine set me off like a Gatling gun. I cursed and swore through every needle threading and every dart. Under my breath as I wrestled the effing cloth to submission. The teacher, who was a lovely tolerant being, would laugh softly and twinkle my way. She'd pat my shoulder and tut me if I got too frustrated.

My typing teacher noticed the same expressions of frustration. She called me in the office and asked me why I was so angry.  I told her that I didn't really feel that angry but that I had double jointed fingers and was flipping all over the type writer and that I was hopeless at typing. She asked me if I wanted to type.
I cried and said, "No but girls needed to learn to type so they could become secretaries". She looked at me shocked, laughed and said, "Some girls aren't made to be secretaries, some girls are made to be Queens or better things." She kissed my head and kicked me out of typing class forever. Lovely feminist Ms. Carol. Who also taught me Lysistrata on the summer lawn of my high school. And introduced me the writings of Emma Goldman and Mary Shelley. And never once told me not to swear.

I still swear when I am sewing. It allows me to dominate my machines. It works the sting right out of my day.
The murderous thoughts from my mind. The kink out of my neck. An Irish deep breathing exercise. So much more relaxing than an OOOOMMM! Did yoga for two years and stopped. I lived with an Indian woman who could curse me under the table in at least three language. Louder and more passionately. Like Maa Kala Ratri cursing demons away.

I was playing with Baby A, my granddaughter, in the pool last weekend. She looked at me, picked up a stick
 and fiercely shook it while she let her first curse word rip. Perfect enunciation, perfect tone, perfect fierce glance. I said nothing. And continued with the water task at hand. But I was thrilled. Gramma and Baby A are compatible. And besides I know now that if I last long enough I will be able to teach her to sew.

I also remembered my wee round Irish Nanny fiercely and loudly cursing while killing flies with a newspaper. She hated flies. She was leaping around while wildly swacking with the newspaper. And swore in the most mean, most guttural way. A thrilling event! This sweet demure creature who was my mother's mother. Full of venom and energy. My three year old hands rolled the newspaper and joined her. She looked down and me and grinned. Together we conquered the most oppressive control of women. We found our mouths!

So I sit here and reflect that despite life's disappointments that there is a way to be a little fierce and still giving. Good teaching isn't formal and that my sewing machine is still powered by my own personal word fumes.



Deb said...

I knew you were a cusser. Me too. I work hard at creative swearing.

material witness said...

You need to pack up and come to France with me. Last time I ran into an tiny old woman, who was Romany, who cussed the pants off one of the gigantic Gendarmerie boys. She was leaping up and going for his throat while spitting curses aimed at his generations. Afterwards she smiled at me sweetly. I thought...I want to be able to do that! Both the cursing and the snake spitting.