Not Cool, Man

I’ve been scrapbooking on and off almost as long as I’ve been a mother of two—longer, if you count my various personal blogs. “Scrapbooking”, for the uninitiated, covers a variety of public journaling crafts, from digital to paper, is usually done by moms, and usually involves documenting growing families. I say “public” because most scrapbooking is designed to be seen by others. It’s like how scholars, writers, and politicians used to keep detailed journals of their thoughts and activities, except with stickers. Boswell with a glue stick.

I just finished thinking through my relationship to knitting communities. Even when I’m not actually talking to knit-friends on Ravelry—I tend to lurk more, these days—I still never minded sharing even my wackest final products. Even when I could barely garter-stitch. Sharing my scrapbook layouts online, however, gives me the heebie-jeebies, and I’m uncomfortable with why that may be.

Knitting, at this point, is a more or less mainstream activity. Admittedly, every few years another crop of journalists will suddenly discover Ravelry and write a few dozen “not your grandmother’s knitting!!1!” articles, but, at this point, most people know someone who knits. I’m often not the only person knitting on the bus.

Knitting is pretty cool. Or, at least, about as cool as it is ever going to get.

Scrapbooking is not cool. (Scrappers, don’t be mad. I’ll explain.)

Knitting takes place in the part of my brain that is at some trendy but relaxing spa decorated in Spring 2014 Pantone colors. Hits that came out last year but are not-quite-played out can be heard in the background. I am definitely drinking a pomegranate vinegar champagne cocktail with a turbinado-sugar-and-cardamom-dipped rim. (Come to think of it, I could be doing that right now. brb.) It’s fun, but pretty cool, too.

My scrapbooking takes place in a store off Telegraph in Berkeley where everything is tie-dyed and there is the sound of windchimes and I am exchanging a macraméd plant hanger for a soapstone sculpture of a Lisa Frank unicorn, and also my T-shirt is printed with a Mary Engelbreit picture of a sweet-faced little girl holding a friendly duck on a porch. Plus the store is inside a Marie Callender’s. It’s…earnest.

I have a hard time publicly and unapologetically liking things that are not cool.

Not reverse-ironically liking them. Just liking them.

This is not a cool thing to discover about myself when I am at an age where sometimes I have to quickly subtract my birth year from the current year because I tend to have +/- 1 year accuracy about how long I, personally, have been alive on the earth. (I lost most of my 34th year because I thought I was 35. This is a true story.)

The problem, here, is that I wanna scrap with somebody. Knitting in a community is fun. I assume scrapbooking with other humans is fun, too. These days, scrapbooking products are fun and modern. And I love it. Why feel weird about it?

Because I can’t document the happenings of my little humans ironically: they are made of equal parts magic and tinkling harp music and clapping because I do, in fact, believe in fairies.
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But I am fundamentally uncomfortable with being earnest on purpose. I think that is downright weird, especially since, as a parent, I spend significant time telling my children that it is okay not to be cool.

So, in my continued quest for flow, I am going to take tentative steps towards sharing my sticker-covered exploits. I am going to scrapbook in public sometimes. It probably won’t be funny, but, at least, it will be honest.

At 36, I am entirely too old to communicate any other way. (I am 36.) (I think.)