Come See Me at West Elm!
My prints will be for sale at West Elm in Oakbrook on Saturday, October 17th from 2pm until 8pm. Will you come and say hi to me? Here’s how I’d love to make it seem: I just whipped up these prints with my words and stores were clamoring to buy them while I sat on my couch.
Here’s how it actually is: I think of the words. I miss the mark. I make people read rough drafts. They don’t get my point. I rewrite. Sometimes everyone likes it; sometimes no one does. I for sure have to like it, so I wait for that.
Then, I take my words and make something of them – artistically, chicken-scratchily so, with expensive markers and pens on expensive paper that my children steal. Sometimes I work really hard on a piece and then a kid bounces on me or hits my arm and it is all ruined; I have to start again.
I try to create when my children are creating. I have no office, no desk other than our dining room table. We all sit there, together. It starts off beautifully. We sit at the table, there is music on, our materials are at the ready. Then, the baby gets restless or wants to cut the paper his sister is working on - and no other paper will do. The chaos takes over. I have had 10 minutes maybe. Not really, usually. It is mostly over before it began.
So, I wait until nap time, which is when I should be making dinner or cleaning up or doing other adult things that adults do. I find windows of time and I make these little things. I started because I needed these short pieces; sometimes, they remind me to take a breath, to chill the heck out, to focus, to love the people in front of me the way I feel the love inside of me.
I take what I’ve made to the printer, which is a very crowded office space with lots of boxes of paper and expensive, button-y machines. I ask whatever kids I have with me to stand on this small little rug in the office and to keep their hands at their sides. I laugh often here at myself because many of these prints are about parenthood and I am parenting less graciously than I write about – much less at this point, sometimes.
I don’t know why I write these pieces other than I have to. Sometimes I wish that what I felt like I had to do was get in a work out or clean my house, but I don’t have a feeling about any of that the way I do about making these pieces.
It is my art. Maybe I will look back at this someday and think, “Really?! This was what you felt like you needed to make?” Probably tomorrow. But, I can’t think about any of that today. That is the kind of stinkin’ thinkin’ that makes people flat, boring, and uncreative and so I tell that stinkin’ thinkin’ to shut up and take a hike. Like, everyday.
The other day I went in to West Elm to buy a sectional for our family room and, somehow, I walked out with a great couch setup and a deal to sell my prints in their store. A real win-win.
On October 17th, West Elm in Oakbrook, Illinois will host a pop-up shop for me and I'll be there with my prints. And, also - with some sweet tissue boxes that are like a card and then also like a giant hug and then also like someone handing you a real tissue when you most need it. What else does a woman need? Well, food. Always food, too.
I am hoping you will come. Like, all of you, any of you, any of your friends, your aunts, your mothers, your sisters, your whomevers. I am mostly hoping that I will not be standing alone while people look at my stuff and walk right on past. That would/will feel kind of awkward, I think.
I should know about awkward. I went to one store in my town that sells everything and nothing. Do you know those stores? You’re like, “Oh, everything’s so cute and I would buy absolutely nothing here.” Oh well, anyways... I made an appointment with the owner - my very first and only appointment at a shop so far - because my friends around town were like, “Oh, they’d for sure sell your stuff!” Well, guess what? They for sure would not.
The owner, who shall remain nameless because I can’t remember her name, was like, “Yeaaaah, are they greeting cards?”
“Well, no. They are prints. That you frame and hang. Like, art. Word art.”
“Ok….” (And then there was a really long pause. Too long of a pause. Like, the kind of a too long pause where you really should just leave the building, but I stood there because she was still holding my not-a-greeting-card print). “I’m just trying to figure out why someone would buy one. Like, would you buy one of these instead of a birthday card? Or instead of a sympathy card?”
“Well, you could. I would. I would do that and write a little note to go with the print or I would just buy a print as the thought and gift itself.”
“Hmmm… ok… they’re definitely cute. I’m just not sure that people know what to do with a print. Like, what do you do with it?”
“Frame it,” I answered quickly as I gathered up my stuff. I could tell this wasn’t going where I had hoped. I didn't even show her the tissue boxes. A small mercy for myself.
Honestly, I understood her. And I totally understood that this was not the right store for me. I mean, wait... let me back up: I understood all of that after I left the store and after I felt like I should dump everything I had made into the garbage, after I called her a dummy (not aloud) who mustn't understand a thing about art and writing, and then after I realized my stuff is just not her thing. Theeennn, I understood her.
And then, I found myself at West Elm. I love that store. I ordered my couch and the West Elm people saw my work and they liked it. Even the stuff that I kept hidden in the bag while we talked – by the end, I took it all out. And they really, really liked it. And, mostly, they were really, really kind to me. Kindness goes such a long way. Forever, really.
So, I found a store that I love for some of the things that I’ve created that I love. And I will be there. Will you come? Please come if you can. You do not have to buy a thing if you don't want to; just come and pretend like you are buying a thing. That's totally wonderful as well. I’ll be there from 2pm until 8pm on October 17th and I would love to see some people. Lots of people, hopefully. Any people, really.
Hope to see so many of you! I would so appreciate having you come in to West Elm on that day or sharing this with any people who might be able to stop in. Thank you!
(Out-of-towners: If you like anything you see here, there will be an online way to purchase, too. Eventually....)