Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Artistic Adventures of an Ardent Amateur: Meet Val

My name is Val and I’ll be filling in the Wednesday slot here at Dot&Line.

When Annie asked me for ideas and suggestions about how to revamp her blog I offered one:

“I had this crazy notion that maybe you could have an "adventures in the handmade movement" series, where your less arts-abled friends go out and try their hand at different projects. Of course, this stems from my own desire to try a bunch of different crafts and my knowledge that 90% of my endeavors will end up total crap. But I think it would be both funny and informative to readers, as it could highlight the difficulties of knitting or sewing or painting or whatnot… anyway, the gist of this idea is that people unfamiliar with a given art venture into it and share with your readers the pains and the joys of their experience.”

Annie’s response was, “Great! You should do that!”

Whoa! Hang on a minute. While I admittedly volunteered to be a contributor, I didn’t mean to be THE contributor! I told Annie I was afraid it would get boring if only my perspective was on offer, and just how many artistic adventures can one person have, anyway? She was not dissuaded, however, and calmed me by saying the adventures didn’t need to be strictly artistic – they could be any endeavor I undertake or any novel experience I encounter, most of which are bound to have an artistic flavor anyway, simply by virtue of who I am.

Not entirely reassured, I acquiesced. I was still thinking about how I was going to have an “adventure” every week when I met my brother for dinner a few days later. As I told him about my dilemma he laughed, and countered that I have at least a few adventures stockpiled that I could write about. For instance, there’s the time I decided to learn ninjutsu and spent a most nerve-wracking evening at a dojo acquiring bruises and humility, but very little inner peace. In the craftier vein there’s the mosaic tray I spent 3 days determinedly assembling, only to end up with a 10 pound serving tray featuring cracked cement and chalky looking tile. Or I could recount the time I decided to attend a Bikram class, much to the amusement of my brother (who promised to collect me from the ER I was bound to find myself in), and how I ended up terming the experience “death by yoga” and vowing never to return.

Lest you think I’m a complete buffoon who fails at everything she tries, I should clarify that I’ve had my share of successful adventures as well. I’ve tried my hand at Shakespeare and done rather well, I’ve navigated my way through complicated recipes and wound up with some very satisfying dishes and pastries, I’ve even auditioned for an opera and managed to get cast (though I did take a dramatic spill in the process thanks to some new shoes and an even newer laminate floor).

In all honesty, in any given venture I’m probably about as likely to do well as I am to do poorly, but I confess that this classification of success versus failure does not really interest me. Whether I remember an experience fondly typically has little to do with how I performed and more to do with what I learned. And that’s what I hope to share with you here. This weekly slot is my inspiration to keep trying new things and challenging myself creatively, artistically, spiritually, intellectually, and [oh, the terror!] physically. I’ll report back with what I’ve learned and experienced, and I’ll do my best to make it entertaining.

I’ll conclude my self-introduction with a (language-adjusted) quote from my all time favorite episode of xkcd: “You know how some people consider ‘may you have an interesting life’ to be a curse? ... [Forget]those people. Wanna have an adventure?”


TheFrogBag said...

Yay! Let the adventure begin!

Unknown said...

Sounds like it would be an awesome book and movie!!! I can just see it now...