Amy Sedaris,

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words -

“I feel like I might have been bet­ter at craft­ing when I was 9,” Stan­ley said.

“If you were a craft project,” I asked them, “what craft project would you be?”

Stan­ley said she’d be a quilt, and Gay said she’d be me­tal­smithing. Guttman said she’d be a room-sized in­stal­la­tion de­coupage of breasts. Guttman has a trau­matic brain in­jury due to a car ac­ci­dent when she was a teenager. She was in a coma for sev­eral months, and when she awoke, she had to re­learn such ba­sic skills as walk­ing and talk­ing, and she lives with on­go­ing health prob­lems. Her art is of­ten about the body. For her Christ­mas or­na­ment, she trans­formed a 25-cent star-shaped wood cutout into a go-go dancer with knee-high boots.

In the Sim­ple Times chap­ter “Hand­i­craftable,” Sedaris of­fers a range of crafts for peo­ple liv­ing with all man­ner of phys­i­cal and mental chal­lenges, from at­ten­tion deficit dis­or­der, autism, and mul­ti­ple per­son­al­ity dis­or­der to wheel­chair users, “an­gry” peo­ple, and those with an out­right aver­sion to craft­ing. Se­ri­ous crafters be­ware: Sedaris also in­cludes a sub­sec­tion on craft­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs and al­co­hol, es­pe­cially mar­i­juana, a prac­tice she ad­vo­cates in the book’s ac­knowl­edg­ment sec­tion.

Guttman, who re­minded us sev­eral times that she’d for­got­ten to take her ADD med­i­ca­tion that day, flipped through Sim­ple Times while we worked on the photo al­bum. “This book is great,” she said. “It’s not of­fen­sive — it’s hi­lar­i­ous. But it’s not re­ally a craft book. You wouldn’t read this to learn how to craft. I want to make some­thing now. Your or­na­ment looks like a pome­gran­ate.” “Thanks,” I said, “I’m go­ing to put more jew­els on it.” At the end of the day, some of what we made was aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing and some of it was lumpy and ugly and gloppy to the touch. Sedaris’ ap­proach might be scat­tered and messy, but with her as our guide, we had a great time, and I now have ideas for more crafts, some of which I might keep for my­self. Next on my list: Pop­si­cle-stick pic­ture frames for all the Frida Kahlo post­cards I’ve col­lected over the years. I need to buy more glit­ter.

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