I has a weird

My Weller 100w Soldering iron broke yesterday. In a stunning display of emotion that was completely out of proportion to the event itself, I crumpled up in complete anguish. I hadn’t even used it yet! It had taken me two weeks (well, two weeks since I decided to try soldering for my “pay it forward” token, but five months since I bought it for a low low price on Craigslist) to carve out the time and to screw up the courage to finally get out all my supplies and sit down and DO it, and the damn thing breaks while we’re trying to tin the tip. Crazy Mind had a fucking heyday. Why had I even bothered buying one? Who was I kidding, thinking that I deserved such a cool tool? Did I seriously think that I could make beautiful things and be a successful artist? How many soldering artists are there out there already anyway? Like the world needs one more? I don’t think so! “I missed my chance!” and “There isn’t enough to go around!” The two refrains that have dogged my attempts to pursue my dreams my entire life.

How did a soldering iron come to represent so much?

When I was about 10 years old, my dad brought home a box of old jewelry, beads, and findings that he had rescued from the estate of one of the little old ladies in our church who died. Helen Christianson was her name. What a treasure trove it was! For a few years I made all sorts of fun and lovely things, but I was always frustrated by not having the right tools or supplies and with my own lack of knowledge. I found instruction manuals at the library, but they may as well have been written in Japanese for all the sense they made to me and we didn’t have money for frivolous things like jewelry making supplies. Can you believe that it has taken me 20+ years to reach a place where I could finally allow myself to 1) take a class and 2) buy the right tools for the job that I so desperately want to do? The night before my soldering iron broke, I stayed up until 1 in the morning creating pretty little ornamental swirlies because I was so excited to have real sterling silver wire to work with for the first time ever.

When the soldering iron broke the next day, before I even had a chance to use it, it confirmed all the hateful, ugly things that Crazy Mind likes to tell me. It didn’t help that Art & Soul Portland just wrapped up and I’ve been reading everyone’s blogs about it and looking at pictures of all the beautiful things that everyone made. I want to say “Hold on, everybody! Wait for me! I just had a baby and I can’t sit down for more than five minutes at a time, so could you please just stop the world for a moment and let me catch up?” Successful artists are at the top of my resentments right now. This is not something I’m proud of. Am I the only one who has such ugly feelings? I feel like the frog in a room full of generous, supportive, creative princesses.

Crying seemed to help. And the topic at the meeting I went to tonight was, appropriately enough, fear. Fear is at the root of all my ugly froginess: fear of loosing something I think I have and fear of not getting something I think I want. There were several newcomers there tonight, some of whom are having a hard time stringing together more than two days sober. I tend to forget how crippled with fear I was when I came in. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid I couldn’t stay sober; it was that I was terrified of what sobriety would look like. I was so used to living on crumbs, I couldn’t conceive of the life I live today. So, for now, the broken soldering iron is one of those luxury problems I can practice being grateful for. And those resentments? Well, thank goodness I’m meeting with my sponsor next Monday.


~ by jenzai on October 15, 2008.

3 Responses to “I has a weird”

  1. I’m hiccupping too hard to leave a proper comment (again with the hiccupping, WTF?!) but just wanted to say, in re: “Am I the only one who has such ugly feelings?”–um, that would be a big froggy NO, darling.

    Luxury problems they may be (or “white-people problems” as I used to call them before I got flamed on a forum by angry white people), but they’re still OW OW OW incredibly painful. Hope you get a new soldering iron soon!


    j says Yes! What is up with the hiccuping? I keep picturing the Simpsons episode where this guy who has been hiccuping for something like 16 years is being interviewed and it goes something like this: hiccup! “Kill me.” hiccup! “Kill me.” hiccup!. “Kill me.”

    I know that normal people have the same ugly feelings I do but I SWEAR these mixed media folks I’ve gotten involved with are freakishly nice and supportive. They has a weird.

    Which reminds me! I meant to link to your blog so that people would realize there was precedent for my entry title, but it got too late and I had to just post what i had and crash. Thank you for my new favorite sentence!

  2. It’s true that it’s not a problem you might have had before you grew enough to have the problem (or had the money, or time, or blah, blah, blah), but that doesn’t really matter, I don’t think. And really, it’s not about the soldering iron anyway, as you already pointed out.

    At the same time, being grateful for the problems I have is a useful tool, if that doesn’t “industrialize” or devalue the idea too much. It’s also better used as a tool than as a weapon, and when it comes from me rather than someone else. (Then the weapon focus must be decidedly different. ;))

    I do think the timing of it all is interesting. (I’m referring to your last post about the treasure box from Libby & Anna.)

    j says Interesting synchronicity, isn’t it? I thought about it as I was writing but I was too tired to think of a way to write meaningfully about the connection. Thank you for picking up on it.

  3. Love this entry for being one of those little marks on the kitchen doorway of growth in your gratitude for the kinds of problems you’re facing now and how far you have come, but also not discounting the real feelings you’ve got about stuff now. Which may the trick of dealing with Crazy Mind, neither trying to shove it under the rug, nor allowing yourself to completely believe it (after a helpful round of crying). In the meantime, I stand convinced the world needs the beautiful things you create, and I stand in regular awe of your talent, and it occurs to me I ought to mention that to you now and again. So I too hope there is a soldering iron in your hands again soon.


    j says Thank you! We must have been reading each others blogs at the same time. More synchronicity! Love the image of marks on the kitchen door. That’s exactly what blogging is. Or at least some blogging. You are truly a maker of metaphors. I stand in regular awe of the metaphors you create, and find them both beautiful and necessary. thank you.

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