It happened with Theo on The Cosby Show; he never followed through with his projects.  Guitar, tennis, skiing lessons, then there was the time where he just had to have the designer shirt.  Denise made him a lopsided one, but I’m not sure any of that has anything to do with follow-through.

I am a crafty girl.  Before storage was forced upon me and we were merging our things into one apartment, I had white boxes filled with crafts.  My closet was an arts & crafts epicenter.  Embroidery skeins in every imaginable color, a magnifying glass lamp, books of directions, stitches, “how to”s.  I tried that first time, I really did, to embroider the back pocket of his uniform with Mighty Mouse.  I botched it, but he wore them anyway because.  Because when someone tries, so do you.  Besides, I’d drawn the cartoon character with a Sharpee marker, so he still received compliments.  That’s what he told me; why would he lie?  Ahem.

The skeins slid into the white box, where they remain, now in a warehouse, beside boxes full of watercolor tubes, a saran-wrapped purse of salt (for my watercolor paintings), natural sponges, masking fluid, sable brushes, watercolor pencils.  And beside them my Prisma-color pencils, knitting needles, half-finished scarves I’ve knitted, a stitch book.  Charcoal, pastels, oil sticks, stretched canvases, sun-paper, porcelain paints.  Anything artistic, pretty much, aside from clay and pottery tools, is owned by me.  I’ve always loved drawing, especially with pastel or oil cray-pas.  But then I stopped and focused on writing.

I have more books on how to write than books written by actual proper authors.  Though this has changed lately.  I read more now, not about writing, but actual writing.  It makes me think and inspires new ideas and memories.  It’s like a one sided conversation, where I have the ability to talk back when I dog-ear a page and take out one of my own to respond.

Men were my evening activity not too long ago.  I’d flood my time with Internet dating sites, returning home from a date to check my date’s profile activity, to see if he was still shopping around.  It was unnerving, to say the least I possibly can about it, to see that after what I thought had been an excellent date, he’d signed in, that very night to check his mail.  No, he wasn’t checking to see if I was signing in; he was dating.  I hated HATED dating for that reason.  Dating gave me permission to obsess mildly.  I felt closer just by obsession alone; it’s like being revved up for a new diet after wiping your mouth on your sleeve after your “last” chubb-fest before the famine.

When I was married, Linus became my next project.  Before we got him, I focused on which breed was right for us.  I took a Yahoo! Pets quiz.  Toy Fox Terrier popped up each time I took the test.  Then once we got him, I obsessed over training techniques, the best socialization classes (ha!  That didn’t work!), putting the Kong toy in the freezer with some peanut butter, only feeding him through “treats” to keep him disciplined.  I learned about his breed, scoured web sites for the difference between nipping and biting.  Once he was paper-trained and knew how to give me his paw (high five), roll-over, and play dead (bang bang), I was done.  What was next?

Decorating, house-hunting, a new town to research, designing a pool. Our next vacation.  Knife skills.  Spa cooking.  Chinatown shopping.  Tennis lessons.  I don’t do any of it half-assed, and I suppose the things that really stick never would have had the chance if I didn’t become obsessed at some point.  Obsession isn’t always bad; it’s better than living half-way through life, pointing fingers, knocking down what others create because it’s easier than creating anything of substance on your own.

My mother did this to me by offering me choices.  I’m thankful for it.  She spent her evenings taking me to drama classes at the local college, art classes, piano lessons, ice-skating, tennis, violin, viola, trombone, cooking classes on Saturday mornings at Willets Road.  Soccer.  I did all of it because it was all offered to me.  I was fortunate, I know.  I still am because I haven’t lost that desire to better myself, to get my fix at improving everything I can.  It’s why I appear self-obsessed, in part.  It’s what I choose to write about.  Me.  My obsessions and introspections.  And the more they repeat, the more repetitive I become, the closer I am.  To overcoming, to being more self-aware, to moving onto the next obsession.



  1. RE: Obsession, You have more books about writing a book…

    There's only one book you need about writing. throw the rest away. The Art Of Dramatic Writing. Its theories apply to every king of writing.

    give it a look

    -bob :)

  2. instead of seeing it as obsession you should see it as devotion – devotion! blessèd sun-dash of spiraling wind, riveted, crysto-angels around us swirling, hypno-struck, devotion thus begins with immense effort, work, sacrifice, a refusal to attempt to reap the bonanza of two continents, denying to feed every appetite that molests one in a fit of canines! devotion! we who are truly devoted, we who bow down in solemn ecstasy in contemplation of the ivoryesque shimmer, we who are convinced that rapto-bloom only comes with grill-sweat, club-iron and knock, we who shun the frivolity that only distracts us from devotion’s ruby, we deny that bliss-fortune will be bestowed to us in a flourish of luck! we abrogate the possibility of a lazy acquisition of felicia! we reject the notion that one can slog through reality, the carnal urges obeying, the most natural yearnings heeding, and suddenly stumble upon a new continent of wonder or invent a joy-surge of mind-wealth! in opposition! devotion first entails mind-sweat horèedo, womp overwhelmo, and jarring frustration! axiom: for something to be blooming, entreasured in bliss and euphoric it must be rare, supra-ordinary, cloaked in mystery. thus we who are devoted, we for whom our objects or our life-beings flash in hyacinthian miracula, we are convinced, sun-bliss showering us, moon-splendor beguiling us – we recognize that the true gem-grails of holy durability can only be got with an intense devotion, which includes a vigilant denial of all false panaceas, of all rusted cure-alls and of all lying ethics!

  3. i am so tired of being obsessed. and even though i'll never love anyone the way i love her, my new project is to forget her and remember me.

  4. Stephanie, I really liked this post! (I hate that my comments sound like I am fawning, because I DO NOT fawn. But anyways…) I think the thing that I tend to appreciate most about you putting things out there for the world to see, regardless of the shite you might take for it, is that you frankly dont give a damn. You do this for you. Cheers!

    Regarding obsession and trying, excelling if possible, at new things, the pleasure in living vicariously through your endevours is that at least you sink your teeth in and go! I always say 'I'd like to' but then toss the idea to the wind because I am inherently afraid of failing. If I do not try, I will not fail at it. I admire your willingness to DO, even if it means failure. What huge potential for growth! Perhaps I should take a lesson from you and just go for it! Now, granted, I did make the camera purchase so that is my obsession at the moment…ugh, I even make it sound like a passing one, but NO! I'm loving the camera and carrying it with me everywhere.

    Speaking of cameras, as a faithful reader, I must tell you that I would LOVE to see some new pictures from all your latest ventures!! I'm going through withdrawls here! Pretty please?

    Take care and best wishes to you and The Suitor in all the ensuing excitement!

  5. I think we need pictures of you playing the trombone ASAP.

    And regarding violin, maybe you can end my life-long search for truth. My mom started -me- on a cardboard box with a stick for a handle, and my violin teacher and I worked on "hand positions" for a long time. (I had to just hum the sounds.) It was only later I was allowed to have the 3/4 sized real wood version.

    So, did you start on a box with a stick? Did anyone else? Anyone?

    I'll trade you a picture of me playing a stick-box, for one of you rockin' "When The Saints Go Marching In" on the trombone….

  6. Thanks for making me feel better about my projects and obsessions!
    Wishing you the best of everything…

  7. "Obsession isn't always bad; it's better than living half-way through life, pointing fingers, knocking down what others create because it's easier than creating anything of substance on your own."
    When I read that I was shocked: that's exactly my behaviour and I just have to say: "Yes, yes, yes."
    I have pretty the same talents as you and when I look at you I'm quite optimistic that I can make it :)

  8. OY. I feel you sister, convinced my husband to get into a house with an extra bedroom for all my stuff, the big bedroom is now a shrine to all interests and projects I never finished, my goddaughter's baby blanket (she's 2 1/2), another baby quilt (he's 3 1/2)… and that's just the most recent…

    I actually think often about "supplies" – thought maybe that was my hobby, instead of what is supposed to come out of them…

    When you get to Austin, don't go to Hill Country Weavers on S. Congress or you'll be buying stuff all over again… it's GREAT! Don't go to woolandhoop.com – it's an addiction… Don't visit madewithsweetlove.com – a new craft I'm currently trying to avoid…

    Only thing harder than working, is looking at all my stuff and knowing I'm NOT working…

  9. French classes, flute lessons, tennis lessons and camp, dance lessons, drama classes, softball and volleyball – that's just what i can remember – i know there's more. This too has bled into my adult life – and turned into a business at one point (floral design) – but mostly ending up in unfinished projects littering my apartment. I like the rush of a new project – my glue gun heating up – craft laid out in front of me – my idea coming to life. Beads and wire, canvas and acrylics, infinite possibility. I really want to get into sculpture now – or try knitting – or use that vintage dress with the gorgeous silk fabric to make clutches for my girlfriends…

    It's definitely an obsession – but a healthy one. :)

  10. I love projects. To me the ability to be creative and attempt to grow and better ourselves is reason enough to go on living.

  11. "blessèd sun-dash of spiraling wind, riveted, crysto-angels"

    To quote When Harry Met Sally, I'll have what kyle Foley's having, please.

    (I think this post is the first reference to Linus in a long time. How's he handling all this? Does he know there's a yard in his future??)

  12. None of this sounds like obsession. You just need hobbies, interests; things to keep you busy. I did many of the same things as a child and even as an adult on my own. The Saturday brunch-hour art classes, after school music lessons, swimming and raquetball, photography and adult acting, belly dancing and yoga, poetry and screenplay sessions.

    For me, now, these hobbies are a way of searching. Searching for that one thing, or group of things, that I can devote myself to whole-heartedly. Without getting bored or giving in to frustrations. I want to be really good at something. Doesn't everyone? Keep dabbling in all your obsessions. They keep us young.

  13. THanks, the coffee missed the keyboard by thismuch when I read the bit about Theo's lovely homemade shirt. Ha! Gotta love the Cosby references.

    I prefer not to use the word 'hobbies' because it almost trivializes new things you might try. Makes it more of a diversion than a possible new obssesion and something you never knew you were good at doing. And if you 'fail' , what is the worst possibility? A botched patch job:)? Crooked seams? You'll just have more firsthand experience, making you a more interesting, balanced person. Obsession has a bad rap, – we know it more as romantic obsession. Nice twist to something old- it can positive, too. Too many of us are in a rut, a routine handling daily obligations.
    I think I might take my camera out with me today on my walk. I do not, however, have the courage to face the lopsided faces of old paintings I made settling in the laundry room closet. God knows those craft projects look like they were made in a nursery school (um, made by me last year).

  14. I think we are all guilty of "mildly" obsessing. Shite at 30 I still obsess over if he likes me or not. Great post Stef

  15. I obsess over obsessing! Truly. Am I thinking too much? Am I doing something to the exclusion of other things?

    Sometimes I think of it as being thoroughly devoted and devotedly thorough. Semantics for the Semitic? Maybe.

    By the way, please take back what you said about dog-earing a book. It's something I obsess over. "How could someone do that?" I think to myself. It's one of the reasons I'm loathe to loan a book.

  16. Wow, your post sounds just like my last post. I have this strange itch to start doing more activities learning new skills I guess I’m gonna blame it on the new year. I think I need to find some meaning in my life, other then my job or career because I’m slowly learning that it is not everything. I’m also glad to see I’m not alone in having my little obsessions!

  17. i think that it is far better to obsess than to neglect. to follow through than to give up. and better to be exposed to and try many things than to sit back and wonder "what if."

    as always, congratulations on moving on to the next level of obsession. and may all your dreams come true.

    for some reason i thought about you when i heard "i'm looking for someone with baggage that goes with mine." from RENT. and i think, when you're packing everything up for the big move, you'll revel in the fact that you and Phil's goes hand in hand and comes in matching london plaid.

    good luck.


  18. Hi Stephanie:
    I just started writing about my lack of follow-through on projects (piano, snowboarding). When the novelty of it wears off ("look at me! I'm snowboarding/playing piano/learing japanese") then it gets mundane and I stop. Thanks for putting yourself out there for us. I'm always checking-in!!

  19. I dream of the day I can have enough room to have projects, and crafts and things to decorate and rearrange. It seems like you're going to have a blast moving and "obsessing" about all the newness it will bring and the blank canvas it will provide you. I'm jealous!

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