Sunday, February 10, 2008

Information Age: 1; Passions: 0

Today I am mourning the sad and inevitable milestone: I am not the center of my five-year-old nephew’s world. Perhaps today was an aberration but deep down, I know the tide has started to shift.

Leif and I have a mutual admiration society. Parting ways is traumatic for both of us, and usually involves tears on his part and sometimes mine. We invented a very long goodbye ritual, which includes a lengthy “Last nose kiss; last eye kiss; last chin kiss” routine that can go on for minutes.

But today, Leif couldn’t take his eyes off of his new video game (heretofore to be mockingly referred to as NinPlayBox ) as I tried unsuccessfully to get him to hug me goodbye. He was like a little zombie with his new obsession. It was awful, watching his little hands use those controls. He was in love, and it wasn’t me. I am consoled with the fact that while I was with him, he did dance with me and cuddle with me and sit on my lap and show me his drawings. But how long until that is over too? How soon until I am completely erased by video games and iPods and other electronic distractions? I love my iPod and computer, my own electrical distractions, but not at the sacrifice of other people, lest of all people whose ages are in the single digits.

Nicole and I were talking about the changing tide at dinner and it made me think how the Information Age is destroying society bit by bit. Well, maybe that is an exaggeration, but it sure seems like it. Nicole’s dad said something interesting at Thanksgiving, about how eBay ruined collecting for him. He is an avid collector of many things, a passion he passed onto Nicole. But, he said, collecting was more fun when he had to seek out what he collected, by going to stores and flea markets and estate sales and garage sales. It was a treasure hunt. I can see how it would be gratifying to find that final baseball card to finish off a team or a set, how rewarding that would be. At long last, finding the final piece to a passion puzzle. Now all you have to do is type in “Luke Gehrig 1933 Yankees card mint Goudey” on Google or eBay or whatever and BOOM there’s your card, the last piece. No seeking or hunting or searching or trial-and-error or exploring required. Where is the fun in that?

Lately I have become enamored with making a quilt. I love the idea of learning to sew and making beautiful patchwork creations. Back in the day (way back, like junior high) when a passion like this was born I would nurture it without leaving a carbon footprint. For example, I wanted to learn how to cross stitch when I was in 10th grade. So I hopped on my bike, rode to the only fabric store the next town over and talked to the owner about how to get started. She helped me select needles and a pattern and thread and showed me how to tie an end knot and thread a needle. She walked me through the process, in that stuffy little store that smelled like my grandmother’s house. I peddled home and by the flickering glow of the television (no Tivo, lots of commercials, small carbon footprint) in the solitude of my room and I started creating.

But now, the idea of learning something new, like quilting, is overwhelming. There are three shelves of quilting books at Borders. Google “how to make a quilt” and you’ll get 859,000 sites: That is almost a million sites to wade through to find the one that Speaks To Me. There is an entire neighborhood in New York City dedicated to fabrics and buttons and notions. There are gorgeous Japanese fabrics with hedgehogs or giraffes or elephants or mushrooms or trees or fruit, and that is just from the first page of a fabric emporium web site. Etsy and Crafster, two of my favorite craft sites, have volumes and volumes of information and ideas, each so different and nuanced that I don’t even know which I like best. There are hundreds of blogs with step-by-step pictures and instructions. I can’t even imagine where to begin, so I focus on buying a sewing machine, and find myself stuck in Square One because I’m having a hard time narrowing down what sewing machine to get. So I put this budding passion into a holding pattern until something just clicks.

And now, it is as if each on of my passions waned as the information age waxed. Even one of my favorite passions is taking a hit. My first exposure (ha ha) to photography was through my father and his now-ancient 35 millimeter Pentax camera. He created a dark room and showed me how to develop pictures. I was judicious with taking pictures because film cost money and developing each print cost money too. The one exception is when I took 13 rolls of film in the “It’s a Small World” attraction in Disneyland because I was absolutely floored by how amazing I thought it was and couldn’t wait to share it with the rest of the world. I thought no one would believe me unless I provided evidence. My, how my tastes have changed.

Today, I think nothing of taking 200 pictures (or more) in a single day on my digital camera. I’ve been known to top that at weddings and other festive events. I took many variations of the picture above, trying to get the perfect shot. And when I don’t get the perfect shot, I can fix it all with a click of the mouse pad, so I don’t even have to bother to learn about lighting or shutter speed. But I really want to learn those things, so I think about taking a photography course, but, once again, I am overwhelmed by the options. And when I get overwhelmed, I tend to do nothing.

I just miss my passions and I miss having new ones.

Amy Winehouse is performing on the Grammys tonight and I am so excited. I hope she sings tears Dry On Their Own. I like that song a thousand times more than Rehab.

Pictured above, the weekend’s Crème Brule French Toast. It was very very sweet. Here’s the recipe. Alas, it wasn’t all that it was hyped up to be. The bottom part was delicious, but the top was a little soggy. I think I need to fine tune it. Regardless, it won't be my signature breakfast. So the hunt continues. Don’t even get me started on how overwhelming is.

Below that a picture of me in Leif in the Cozy Days. Of all the pictures, I select this one because I look ridiculous. In my defense, let me say that camel rides are bumpy. I hope these days aren't gone.


K J and the kids said...

That looks too sweet for me even.

Looks as though you almost had a vasectomy ;)

nailgirl said...

I love that sweet picture.

starrhillgirl said...

Ahhh... pentax - check. It's a Small World - check. Too easily lost in the world of crafts on the internet - check. Are we the same person?

Anonymous said...

My Mom makes a really good "overnight french toast" recipe and I make a kick-ass hashbrown casserole. If you want any of those recipes - shoot me an email and I'll send them to you. Put "arcane matters" in the subject so I know it's you since it might go to junk mail. Good luck in your quest!

Shelli said...

the tutorial at is PERFECT for novices, like myself, I've grown SO much as a quilter over the 12 week tutorial.

As for a sewing machine? There's a REALLY great shop over on 85th between 2nd and 3rd, north side of the street - it's where I got my Elna - Singers just aren't made like they used to be.

So go for a Bernina, an Elna, or the like.

It's really fun!

ms.bri said...

I think maybe you should have gone to library school. Or maybe it's not the librarian thing but just me. In any case, I feel quite the opposite. Overwhelming amounts of information inspire me.

judy said...

Love the picture.
Hate my computer addiction.

ann (fchen) said...

you are 800% right about how the information age is ruining society as we know it. can you imagine the days before a laptop, or a blackberry or a cellphone? how many marriages have been ruined by a pornography addiction or a fling inside the computer? there are days that i threaten the kids about throwing away all the electronics .. as it is now we have "electronic free days" (no wii, DS, computer, very little television) and they practically stage a coup on those days!
ps, just discovered your blog and am addicted! your girls are GORGEOUS, congratulations! :)