Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tales from the Thrift

Yesterday was a red letter day at the thrift store: 
I discovered on a dusty little shelf in the basement my favorite kind of donations––a stash of sewing stuff from old women (almost certainly women) of the sort who wound leftover thread around squares of cardboard; the sort who stored buttons and bobbins in pill bottles, the kind with pre-childproof caps; 
the sort who seemingly never threw out a needle or pin (watch your fingers, reaching into their sewing baskets).

There was too much to sort in one afternoon, so I took a bag home, along with some of the sewing ephemera I'd been setting aside. 

This is some of it. [scroll right > to see the whole image]

A fellow Thrift Herder suggested Julia [happify] and I should write about the Thrift Store, which could be fun. She had in mind something fanciful and fictional, but I'd prefer a drier approach, letting the thrift speak for itself as much as possible.

The thrift herders at the store are stories in themselves, too, but I'm wary of exposing other people. I've written before about deciding not to rely on other people as my material, and now I think about it again, I, almost regretfully, still feel the same.

Blogging, I'd had to decide how, and how much, to write about other people. My sister helped me ("helped" me) by asking me, a few years ago when we had a rift, to go through my blog and take out every reference to her. 

It was punitive, and I was really mad at her, but it pushed me to think about how I was using people as material.  
For some writers, that's the whole point (David Sedaris, Anne Lamott), but I decided I didn't want to go that way, tempting as it is––I just can't find any way to do it without... well, as I said, using people, even if it's for good ends. (I've been used that way in print, and I felt violated by it.)
And I'm not one of those genius writers who transform real life into art--that's a different thing altogether out of my league.

Obviously I do mention the things people say and do, but they're not my main material.  But the actual material of someone's sewing basket, that's a different story.


Zhoen said...

Love the scissors, and I am working out a caption to the pattern envelope.

Agreed, this is why I write about myself, because it's what I have a right to. Anyone else is heavily disguised, especially patients - I often change their gender, even. And no one I know personally reads here. Not anymore.

Frex said...

ZHOEN: The little scissors are rusty, but so pretty---can you see they have a pressed pattern on their handles?

I'd love to hear a caption for the dress patterns!
I looked up the pattern by Pauline Trigere and found out she's a well-known designer and these old patterns can go for big bucks (well, like $20).

None of my family reads my blog anymore, thankgoodness, but several RL friends do.
It takes Art to write well about other people, otherwise it's gossip, which can be good and fun, but also not...

I was fretting over this issue (writing about other people) because just yesterday I had a conversation at the Thrift Store that I wish I could report---but I can't without exposing the other person in a way I know they wouldn't want (even in disguise).
Well, luckily there's *lots* else to write about!

Frex said...

Whoa---I just saw Pauline Trigere pattern for $185 on etsy! Does anyone really pay that?!

Zhoen said...

I would believe it. Rare stuff, ephemera.

I was thinking of this site,

"We need the funk, Betsy
gotta have that funk."

Bookworm said...

I agree about not writing about other people, but what about writing with other people who want/need their stories telling but can't put it into words as well as you? Some people might want to share the stories about why they collect or donate things to the thrift store. It would make a wonderful book.

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: Yes, I remember you'd linked to that site---it's so funny!

BOOK: Ohgod, that would mean talking to MORE PEOPLE.
I don't think I have it in me.
But I love the idea:
if I had more energy, especially more social energy, I would like to do that sort of journalism, but I just get too easily fatigued (and that turns all too quickly to annoyance).