Good With My Hands

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Good With My Hands

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I've always used my hands to shape the world around me. Working with my hands both soothes and stimulates, and it feels good to be productive. I've long been known at work for crocheting or cross stitching (my hands can work at those with little help from my eyes) during boring meetings, as a way to keep myself awake and render fruitful an otherwise pointless meeting.

I have some very talented hands, if I do say so myself. I make jewelry, I quilt, I cosplay (itself honestly probably 10 or so different skillsets), I etch glass, embroider, play deftly with resin, string art, and perler beads. You name it, these very talented hands of mine can probably do it. If they can't, someone on Youtube will show me and I will figure it out. My hands are always busy. At least they used to be. COVID took that from me.

When quarantine hit, that is what was left to me. So that is what I did. Fortunately, crafters are notorious hoarders, so that was one thing I struggled little to find when the shelves at all the stores were bare. Whatever it was, it was already in my craft room. When you couldn't find masks anywhere, me and my loved ones never had to worry. I sewed probably 100 from the leftovers I had from a few of my quilts, fun masks with swirling DNA strands, dinosaurs, and Bat-signals. When we couldn't get toilet paper and mom my had to mail me some from out of state, I sent her a giant cross-stitch of her favorite character (Snoopy) as a thank you for being my toilet paper hero. I didn't stop there though. I had to make videos daily for the kids in my (now) virtual classes. So I went from being the women who crocheted in meetings, to the one who painted herself to look like different characters during meetings. (The first student to comment with who I was dresses as that day only had to do half the day's assignment.) The other meeting participants would periodically make me turn my camera on to check on the progress of my transformation. Crafting was really the only thing left to me, what with lockdowns, my school going virtual, the inability to access basic necessities, and the persistent taboo on leaving the house. Crafting got me through it. I made so many things, simply because I needed to be doing something. I sewed, mod podged, and wire wrapped, papier mached, and glass painted, until every wall and surface in my home (and some in my classroom) were covered. Often I'd have the TV on in the background so I'd have noise for company. I'd craft into the wee hours, because it's not like I could go anywhere in the morning. It got so bad that my housemate (a dear friend and fellow transplant with no family in Arizona, we moved in together a week before COVID struck because neither of us wanted to live alone) Kristen had to stage a crafting intervention of the "No really, we are out of space. For the love of God, knock it off or get an Etsy store" variety. (I then switched to baking because I don't know how to be if my hands are still. I was accused instead of trying to make her fat.)

I crafted until I ran out of things to craft. Thanks to COVID, I squished a lifetimes worth of crafting into a year. Now I'm out of projects. If I wanted it, I made it already. If anyone compliments something I made it is given immediately as a gift to them, so I can then go make myself a new one and my talented hands can be busy again for a minute. I've taken to cross-stitching random things my friends say, just to have something tactile to do. My hands remain as sharp as ever, poised for the next project, but the brain that fired them has run out of steam.

And I still don't know how to be if my hands are still.

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This item was submitted on May 27, 2022 by Aimee Jensen using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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