I Did It Myself…*to* Myself

Do It Yourself (DIY) projects, when well executed and realized, are impressive and admirable. They double one’s pleasure in the end product by being not only beautiful and useful as desired but also the satisfying result of her own skilled labors. Personal investment increase value exponentially.

I can claim a few DIY accomplishments on my resume, happily, despite my ordinary limitations of resource, monetary or of expertise or ability for the project in hand. But having mentioned hands, I must also confess to having a DITY (Do It TO Yourself) record as well. On the occasion of the hand-made hand injury, I was fortunate that my second of inattention resulted in no worse mishap than a tiny nip on my finger.

Being an artist, I did however do this with a certain degree of style: when I stuck my finger with a single tooth of my nice, sharp little hand saw (too aptly named, perhaps?), I did manage to insert the steel into the only small spot on my hand that already had a visible scar. Puncture becomes punctuation, so to speak.

As always, the tiniest wound is magnified by other pains, not least of them the injury to ego and dignity when on the instant of infliction I succumb to a combination of reactions that to the uninjured could only have a sort of serio-comic ridiculousness perfect for cutting me down to size. The unpleasantness of having made an unwanted incision in my personage is compounded by the leap back that threatens to throw me over a chair and onto my tailbone; the pinching clamp of fingers on the cut to stanch the bleeding hurts almost more  than the initial stab; the yell of pain that, in my nephew’s youthful terminology ‘scares my ears’ is also loud enough for the neighbors to hear and enjoy. On top of all this is the diminution of my sanguine pride, reminding me that my handy skills are sorely limited no matter what I tell myself.

Does this prevent my attempting further DIY projects? Hardly! Being by nature a timid and lazy and not-so-brilliant craftsman hasn’t made me give up but instead tends to make me plan and work things out fairly exhaustively before I begin, and to assume that I’ll make mistakes or need help before I finish. It all slows me down, to be sure—and that’s not a bad thing, mind you. Any DIY work is bound to be only as polished as patience and occasionally remedial work can make it.

When I speed up too much, I get sloppy and unfocused; I make silly mistakes like sticking my finger on a saw tooth/a saw tooth into my finger. Luckily for me, I didn’t have a power saw going there, so all I lost was a few minutes, my composure, and a few red cells rather than a digit. In return, I got a good reminder to sharpen my attention, to use tools with greater care, and to call in expert help when needed.

After all, I’d far rather sacrifice some dollars and a touch of my DIY pride than an appendage. This is how I’ve survived to my advanced age without losing any body parts or breaking any bones. I have recovered numerous times from being an (or falling on my) ass. Self image is ever so much more resilient than such things. Arguably, a little too much so in my case, or I wouldn’t tend to get into these fixes at all.

Of course, getting into a fix is something I can easily do all by myself. For that task, I do have all of the necessary experience and expertise.Digital Illustration: In Which I am a Silly Ass

Bottom the Weaver!–After the Fact–

graphite drawingAh, Shakespeare me boy, do tell me. I’m just curious: did Bottom have any sort of Fairy Fella epiphany after his little ass-hat adventure? Me, I am fairly certain that had it been me I would have felt smugly brilliant in my newly dawned state of knowledge the moment I was un-donkey-fied again, but I’m even more certain that I would have slipped right on back into my unwise natural state just about as quickly as twitches a donkey’s tail. Because I am so very much a silly, stubborn creature of habit.

Mr. Shakespeare, whatever his level of formal education or high culture or (if you’re of that particular school of thought) of being multiple persons, had a decidedly perceptive eye for ordinary human nature. The bard’s keen observation and sharp understanding are the fundamental reasons his plays and poems have so long endured–he had us figured out, my friends. I may sometimes wish that the characters in Shakespeare whom I resembled most were the heroic and compassionate ones, the witty, the powerful and the sage. But alas, it’s in Bottom that I recognize myself, in Shakespeare’s dolts and fools and in the obstinately self-centered and weak and wooly-minded characters.

I guess I should just thank Mr. S. for having raised my humbly mortal state to high art and sashay back over to perch in my little flower bower. I rather hope that one day these moments of revelation won’t need to be as frequent or as rudely transformative as getting me visibly turned back into the braying boob that represents my true inner being.