Saturday, October 04, 2008

Woodwork Magazine

A few days ago, I received the latest issue of WoodWork Magazine.

Life being as it is (hectic) - this issue sat on my desk for a few days, until I finally picked it up and thumbed through it. The article about Ross Day was my favorite part of this issue, his work is beautiful and I could, in some ways, relate to his muddling through life until he discovered woodworking.

People ask me how I got started in woodworking, and it's an odd story. But for one or two different decisions in life, I could have been a chef or an engineer or a teacher.

Oh wait, I WAS a teacher.

Growing up in Los Angeles, I attended a catholic school and was a pretty decent student, no thanks to my study habits which were non-existant. In fact, I took advanced placement math classes at a young age.

To this day, I can do math in my head that rivals Rain Man math. One piece of proud trivia about me - show me a board from ten paces and I can tell you it's length, within a half inch or so. (OK, now every one's going to try and trip me up on this, I know it!) I can calculate in my head anything from percentages to fractions, square footage to counting cards when playing blackjack.

Wait, that can get me barred from a casino.

Good thing I don't like playing blackjack - I'm more of a craps player.

Before I digress about my passion for craps, let me finish the story about school.

When I was an adolescent, my family moved from LA to Ohio, a decision which I considered to be of major blunderous proportions.

I mean... Ohio?

I went from this

to this

And because I had been taking those AP math classes, when I went to register for classes in Ohio, I was too far ahead of my peers. I wasn't allowed to sign up for the next class I qualified for, I was too young. So much for no child left behind, but that was in the 70's, and no program like that existed.

So I was told that I had to wait for the rest of my peers to catch up, Meanwhile, I had to take "filler" courses. I was steered toward Home Ec.


Cooking? Sewing?


The only time I was ever "boarded" in high school was in my Home Ec class. For anyone who doesn't understand that term - it means getting your ass beaten legally by a teacher.

With a board.

Hence... boarding.

Why would that happen, you ask? When I discovered I'd sewn a long seam without any bobbin thread, I cussed like a sailor on a drinking jag. And was promptly ordered out in the hall, to receive my punishment. If that happened today, teachers would probably be brought up on charges, but back then, it was deemed perfectly appropriate.

Out in the hallway, getting my ass whipped, wasn't my idea of where I wanted to be. Of course, I was probably calculating the length of that paddle versus how much it was going to hurt.

As soon as possible, I dropped out of Home Ec and signed up for woodshop.

Back then, girls not only were discouraged from taking shop, they weren't allowed to take it.


Maybe by then, they realized I wasn't Betty Crocker material, so they relented, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My high school woodworking instructor, Garold Garrett, went on to not only become my mentor, but a good friend. While he was teaching at Kent State University, I would visit his woodworking classes, lecturing about life as a woodworker. I know one thing - I wish I had gotten the chance to hear someone talking about it when I was their age.

So I started this blog post, writing about that article in Woodwork Magazine, and somehow got distracted into talking about paths taken in life, and others ignored.

Priorities change over time; some needs diminish, and new ones pop up. Things that once seemed to important just fade away and new things take their place.

About five years ago, when the first batch of government stimulus checks were mailed, I was talking to my friend, Gina, who was lamenting everything from the start of the war to the fact that her life priorities had changed. She planned on taking her $300 and using it to pay for a huge dumpster to be placed in her yard, so she could throw out a life-time of junk that she'd accumulated. She looked at the $300 as if it were buying her a new start in life, a time to purge herself of all the crap that she thought was important, but really wasn't.

Which led me to thinking about priorities.

In fact, I've been doing that a lot for the last 5 years or so, ever since my dad died. Death forces us to think differently, about everything from relationships to materialism, to paths not taken. In short, I was looking for an emotional haircut. A trimming away of the things that I don't need or want anymore.
Which brings me back to that damn magazine.

See, I am a magazine junkie. I subscribe to entirely too many of them, and I want to stop the madness. Right now. But I don't know how.

I've subscribed to Fine Woodworking magazine since it's very first issue; we have a co-dependency thing going on, I admit it.

I can't end my subscription, and yet, I don't want it to continue. What's a woodworker to do? WoodWork Magazine helped me out of this predicament by announcing that the current issue would be it's last. On one hand, they did me the favor or breaking it off with me, before I had a chance to break it off with them. Sort of like a few relationships I've had in my life.

Although I'll miss their how-to articles and certainly their stories about other woodworkers, I'll be OK.
Break-ups should all be as painless as this.

And to my friend - Dave, who's always said that if I ever want to get rid of my library of Fine Woodworking magazines... if I ever decide to stop the madness, you'll be the first to know.

1 comment:

woodtreks said...

I landed upon your blog by chance this afternoon and read your "rant". Fascinating! And wonderful - perhaps right about now, with the world seemingly spinning aimlessly, it's good to stop and think about what's important and to take time to do the things that fulfill us.

In working with wood (or perhaps ceramics for you), some of us find wonderful rewards and nice folks to hang out with. Anyhow, just thought I'd say hi. Keith (