This past year has been rough for everyone. Not only have we been dealing with the most serious pandemic in over 100 years but until Jan 20 we had a president who didn’t listen to scientific expertise, and as a result the US leads all other countries in cases and deaths from COVID-19. I don’t know about you, but I got “tired of winning” about 4 years ago.
The stress of COVID-19, the stress of the election, and the stress of a totally incompetent president over the past 4 years has been too much to deal with. COVID-19 required a complete redo in terms of adjusting our lives to stay safe and to keep our communities safe. My own work has continued, largely because of the amazing students that I have in my lab. But it has been tough for everyone. Zoom fatigue is a real thing, and some days I’m on zoom for 6-8 hours just to keep up with my students, teaching, projects, and collaborations. In the few months leading up to the election on Nov 3, 2020, I had a hard time not “doom scrolling” to see what horrible thing happened in the past few hours (or less) that I missed. The election was stressful, because our incompetent and egotistical president was unable to accept defeat and spread lies that culminated in the terrorist attack and insurrection by his supporters on the Capital on Jan 6 as they tried to reverse the fair election. And in my own state of Georgia, we had our own excitement of a senate runoff, which resulted in the flipping of the senate on Jan 5.
It has been hard to focus on anything except trying to stay above water for the past year.
COVID-19 has especially disrupted any sense of work-life balance. Days blend into each other, and the only thing that differentiates weekends from weekdays tends to be fewer zoom meetings on the weekends. It has become very hard to recharge. But I managed to lay the foundation over the Christmas and New Year’s break:
I cleaned my leather shop and sharpened my knives.
Today, I managed to get a few hours in my nice and organized shop. I’m not totally stressed about what crazy shit the President is doing, because Uncle Joe is now in charge. The time today in my shop was indeed therapy. I’ve always loved to build things, and designing new leather projects is my favorite. For some time now, I’ve wanted to make myself a leather backpack that could also serve as an overnight travel bag (whenever travel comes back…). I walk a lot, and I’ve used an old Camelback backpack to carry my laptop, lunch, thermos, etc to work. It is wearing out. I love to use that for a very light pack on a trip for 1 or 2 nights. I need a good place for my laptop, a comfy design that is easy to carry, pockets on the outside, and a light and expandable main compartment to fit a few days of cloths, lunch, etc.
I never start a project with a complete design, but rather just an overall and often vague picture. I have a pretty good intuition about what needs to be built first, but I sometimes find myself at a dead end or running into an unanticipated obstacle. It is never efficient on the first try of any new design, but I love this part. I get bored with making things I know how to make. Looking back over the years, I realize that I always have waited to post about a new item until I had completed it, even though I tried to capture some intermediate steps to show the process. But it never actually captures my real process, which can be pretty chaotic and disorganized. For this backpack, I’m going to do it differently. I decided that I’d write a post with updates each day that I make some progress. It will likely take a few months or more, depending on what else is going on.
It never looks like much at this stage. It took me a few hours to even figure out where to start or how I wanted it to work. I think for this design, the straps and back piece are the foundation, and I’m starting there. It is mostly still in my brain, and as I complete steps, the next steps become clear if it goes smoothly. Next time in the shop, I’ll be gluing and sewing the sheep skin lining onto the shoulder pads. Then I will cut out the back and bottom piece and fit the shoulder pads into that and sew them in. Then I will complete the straps and make a carrying handle and attach all of these to the back. I should have a clearer vision of this after the next steps.
It is great therapy not to be doing this over zoom!