Thursday, November 11, 2010

Decorative Moss: The Gift of Living Craft

Tuesday night I went to see Amy Sedaris.  She’s on a tour promoting her latest book, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.   
Earlier in the day I had been repotting some plants with very dense growths of moss.  I kept peeling off thick wheels of it and thinking that Martha Stewart has surely devised a project using moss to create some achingly tasteful decorative item.  But just as surely, it involves a lot of fussy steps, specialized tools, and chemicals that could melt your eyelashes.  
And then it hit me!  I shall fashion this moss into some kind of gift for Amy Sedaris using her methods.  I didn’t have much time, but that’s O.K.  As a crafter Amy prefers a more naïve aesthetic, and certainly I could manage that.
Moment of inspiration.  (I promise to write at length about the very rare plant in these pots.)
 And so I took that moss home and cut and trimmed and stitched and knotted.  All the while I thought of witty things to say to Amy:
Because I give my crafts as gifts, my friendship can be kind of an affliction.  But you’ve made me feel O.K. about that.  Thanks! (Too sycophantic?)
I see you have a chapter on the” craft of making love.”  Don’t you think you should have also included a chapter on crafting your own contraceptives?  (Hmm, a bit challenging.)
I love your conceptual portraits.  Is Cindy Sherman a fan?  Or does she feel threatened by you? (Pretentious twit!)
In less than 90 minutes I had what I felt was a suitable gift.  Here it is.  
That’s not just moss but liverwort and an itty-bitty fern.
The bad thing is that I am now running late.  And I have to navigate the crazy, could-turn-lethal-at-any-moment Atlanta traffic under pressure.  To change lanes you have watch for a gap while cars fly past you on either side, look out for a sudden halt to the traffic ahead, and identify anyone likely to pull some catastrophically asinine maneuver that will end you life and the lives of everyone in your automotive wolf pack. 
I survive, but miss the cocktail hour before the lecture.  All cultural events in Atlanta are billed as “cocktails and. . ." fill-in-the-blank.  I wish there were still Marxists on lecture circuits so that there could be "cocktails and self-critique."  Despite my tardiness, I get a rather good seat since I am on my own.  At that moment Ms. Sedaris is taking volunteers from the audience to participate in an on-the-spot craft project.  It’s the Crafty Candle Salad, and the poor volunteer blushes in increasingly vivid shades.  He ends by looking quite like a candle himself, which you’ll understand if you consult page 42 of Simple Times.
Next Ms. Sedaris takes questions from the audience:
“I have an eleven-year-old daughter.  Any parenting advice?
“Get her an apartment.”
“I’m new at crafting.  Can you suggest a project to start with?”
“Paint some rocks.”
If she doesn’t like a question or finds it awkward for some reason, she takes a call on her knitted fake cell-phone, her iPhony. 
“How do you feel about Martha Stewart?”
“I think he’s great!”
Of Ms. Stewart’s oeuvre, Ms. Sedaris opined that it was all very well executed but dull, predictable.  Her own work was more inventive and rustic.  She has a lot of ideas, A LOT of ideas, but not a lot of skill.  Her crafts were just not the same quality, so perhaps they didn’t make good gifts, except as material to be broken down and turned into more crafts.
This was the exact moment that I should have stood up and offered my gift of living craft!  How could it fail to be well received with this kind of wind-up?  But I was a coward and let the moment pass.  I began to regret missing the cocktail hour.
So my offering had to wait for the book signing.  I managed to secure a good place in line, somewhere in the scrum towards the front.  Waiting with all the other fans was a bore.  I had to listen to a lot of irritating chatter that passed for witty effervescence.  More like irrivescence, I quipped to myself, lamely.  On reflection, I think this uncharitable frame of mind was a symptom of my avid fan reaction, which causes me to question the authenticity of the other fans I am crowded in with.  I had this response the first time I went to see Amy’s brother David Sedaris read. It was a huge auditorium, and I wondered just who exactly all these other people were.  Did they all hear David Sedaris read the “Santaland Diaries” on Morning Edition back in 1992 while getting ready for a crap job, in a crap apartment, shared with a crap boyfriend? I. Don’t. Think. So.
I am sorry to report that when my turn with Amy came I clammed up.  I am no good around famous people.  I mumbled something about having made her a gift and pushed it towards her.
“What is it?”
“It’s a necklace . . . or a banner . . . of your name spelled out in moss.”
“Oh.  It’s so moist.”
She didn’t even try it on.  Just as well.  It probably would have gotten her dirty and left damp spots on her blouse.  But she signed my book, my copy of Craft Magazine that features Amy on the cover, and I got this picture:
She gave me a “Simple Times” pencil in appreciation for my gift (I don’t think the other “fans” got that).  And she didn’t call security.  But perhaps security guards cannot be reached by iPhony.


  1. I love love LOVE the patchwork shirt/dress/fantasticness. The Peter Pan collar makes all the difference. Amy's the bestest.

  2. My play is strong but no reply is adequate to a moss nameplate. Check and mate.

  3. Hey, good for you for A)crafting something that is all kinds of awesome, and B)not chickening out and actually presenting it to her! It's entirely possible she has your banner displayed in her eclectic apartment, next to the fake food and photo of Ricky.

  4. That's lame she didn't try it on. I think someone is a little too stuck on herself. "Never meet your idol" is all too true. (my old boyfriend said that after meeting Bob Weir...he was a prophet)

  5. you crack me up-thank you.
    oh and you educate me about pelants and krafty crafts.
    miss you-love you