Lesson Three - Lori T.

The theme of "The Committee" was a productive jumping-off place for me, andI've done a lot of writing this week - revisiting the history and psychology of my family for the gazillionth time in a long and introspective life.  

There's so much material that is so familiar to me, and I don't know what to include and what to leave out.  Tremendous support for and interestin and "making" of textiles in my family.  My great-great-grandmother, Ann, and her mother and siblings were weavers in England, emigrating to the US at the time of the Industrial Revolution.  Her father chose to stay behind.  Missionaries from the Mormon church had convinced them to emigrate and join in the settling of Utah, and Ann was a handcart pioneer, pulling her belongs across the country to Ogden where they settled.  She became the third wife in a plural marriage and raised my Nana when my great-grandmother died from giving birth.  All sorts of fascinating (to me) family patterns came out of all this - no woman on my mother's side of the family has stayed with her husband (for one reason or another) from the mid-19th century to the 21st.  And all of them have been prodigious quilters, lace-makers, rug-braiders, embroiderers, and makers of clothing.  Nana was hardly ever not sewing - she lived with us for most of my childhood after my mother went to work full-time after divorcing my father.  (Nana stayed married to my grandfather only till my mother graduated from high school, so that my mother wouldn't have the embarrassment of having divorced parents.)  She left the Mormon church and Utah as soon as she was old enough, and though she missed her siblings and her huge family in Utah, I don't think she could afford to go back and forth for visits very much.  And my mother needed her to take care of us while she was at work.

 My mother sewed my clothes and things for our home, and I remember Nana and my mother sitting on our living room floor sewing together a 9 X 12 braided wool rug, and watching in some disbelief (at age 5) while my mother mended her nylons with a sort of egg cup and a special hook.  I was encouraged to sew and was given a little kiddie sewing machine, and as I grew older I was taught to sew on my grandmother's treadle machine, and until I bought my first machine when I graduated from high school, we all used that treadle machine for everything that needed machine stitching.

So, a great tradition of "making" in my family, but the financial stresses of single-motherhood, The Great Depression, and my mother's fairly timid nature all conspired to create an atmosphere bound by a lot of fear and caution.  Everybody loved the things I made, and everybody wanted me to get a real job.

I modeled myself on my father (my parents divorced when I was 5, they were always good friends, and never spoke unkindly of each other once they didn't have to live together anymore, and we got to see our dad a lot - we were lucky).  If our family had a Black Sheep it was me - I simply had to rebel against my mother's over-respect for authority - especially after she failed to back me when I was bullied by teachers on two unforgettable occasions, her timidity, her constant spoken and unspoken judgements of me, and when I found out as an adult that she was sexually frigid (my father told my brother, and he told me!), the penny dropped, and I understood so much more about the family dynamics throughout my life.  My father was the son of Italian-Swiss immigrants, very gregarious, full of life and humor and charm, loved to gamble, and always had a girlfriend on the side until my step-mother put the fear in him when he was in his late 60s.  He and I adored each other, and we didn't judge each other, and we were both grateful for that.

What all this has to do with this class is that I have my father's joie de vivre and his restless nature, my mother's and grandmother's love of making things, a lot of drive, a ton of ideas (too many), and a very strong "Don't Fence Me In" aspect to my personality, and I wonder if I can commit to my creative life on a "full-time" basis.  And yet, I think it would be a good thing if I did.  I'm sure this course will help me to find out.