Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Get a hobby, Find a money pit

My daughter-in-law Sue got me into scrapbooking last year. Sue does incredible work, turning plain paper into memorable art. Me, I always thought paper was just to write on or fold into paper airplanes, but what she does with a sheet of acid-free cardstock is magical. I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually made a house out of scrapbook paper one day.

Last weekend the Scrapbook Expo came to town. The event, held at the Pleasanton fairgrounds, required two buildings the size of indoor football fields to accommodate the hundreds of women who pay $8 just to get in the door. Sue and I paid extra to hang out in the “Crop Room,” where she and her friends, Robyn, Gloria, Anita, Sarah and Christine gathered to work on their scrap projects together—away from nagging housework, demanding kids, and constant interruptions.

I, however, spent most of the day on the sales floor, buying stuff I didn’t need and probably will never use. But everything was so darn cute! I had to have more balloon-shaped “brads,” cupcake-embossed glitter paper, heart-imprinted ribbon, and cartoony rubber stamps (featuring women scrapbooking.) Of course, if I did nothing but scrapbook from now on, I wouldn’t make a dent in the supplies I already have, let alone what I bought that day. But I had to have the latest products, just in case I decide to make a set of greeting cards, personalize some lunch bags, decorate a bunch of empty cardboard boxes, or redo the walls.

The problem is, after I spend 365 hours making a single greeting card, I don’t want to part with it. I want to frame it, display it, put it on Facebook, wear it as a t-shirt, and show it to everyone from the grocery clerk to the mailman. Then I add it to my collection of over 365 other homemade all-occasion cards—everything from “Congrats on your liposuction” to “Sorry your gecko died.”

The Scrapbook Expo offers so much more than just paper. There’s camaraderie between all these women (and two lost-looking men) who love to cut, paste, sticker and stamp. We bonded, standing in those long lines to buy miniscule ladybugs, 3-D folding instructions, glittery pens and fancy lettered quotes like, “Thank you for being my AA sponsor” and “My other hobby is Bunco.”

When I finally returned to the crop room to join Sue and her friends, four hours had passed. I’d been to nearly a hundred mini-shops, with names like “Scrapbook Addicts,” “Stamping Fools,” “Glue ‘n’ Go,” and “It’s Cheaper than Therapy.” There was no time left for doing “make-and-take” crafts, but I was too tired anyway, so I packed up my multi-pocketed “scrapbook caddy” and headed for the car.

When I got home, I found my daughter, Rebecca blending pink icing in my mixing bowl. She’s not into crafts like me. Instead she’s hooked on cupcake decorating. Give her a handful of fondant and she’ll whip up Thomas the Train, Spooky Ghosts, even a complete set of Angry Birds straight out of the popular video game. She tried to get me into cupcakes too, but all I can make with fondant—which is like sugary Play-doh—are snakes and pancakes.

Oh well. One hobby at a time. I can’t afford any more fun.