Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pruning

Something about listing all the things I want to do has made it easier to identify what I don't want to do. Case in point: at the beginning of May I realized that the embroiderer's guild I've been part of for years is not an organization I want to belong to any more.

I still like embroidering. I still do it sometimes, but my interests are so varied right now, it's hard to find time to do needlework. Still, that's not the reason I've decided to quit the group. There are two, really. First of all, this guild seems to be aimed at people who have an awful lot of free time and a larger disposable income than mine. Retirees, I'm thinking, or empty-nesters. The correspondence courses, the 3-day classes you have to travel to Kentucky (or, for one I just read about, New Mexico. It was supposed to be in Louisville, but they moved it. To another time zone! What if I'd signed up for that, booked my flight and hotel, and then they moved the class to the southwest? I do not have that kind of money), the yearly conferences in expensive venues all over the United States--I can't do it. I have a mortgage, see, and the only income in this household is mine.

I joined another needlework guild a few years ago and I find they're more in tune with my needs. They're smaller, which may be why correspondence courses are cheaper, most of them are conducted online (through emailed lessons and a listserv for students and teacher to communicate), and while I still don't have the money to go to a conference, I might be able to swing it one day. It's more like the BlogHer conference, price-wise. Chief among the reasons why I like this other group? Being a very small, spread-out guild means there are not enough members in the immediate vicinity for us to form a chapter. This means no meetings. Which means I don't have to deal with people problems--my second reason for wanting to leave.

There are a lot of people in this guild I just left that I like and will miss. There are a few, though, who I will be extremely happy to see the back of. I'm the same age as a lot of their children, see. Unmarried, unattached, no kids. I think I'm seen as some sort of project by these ladies, since their own chicks have fledged (most of them out of state. Probably so that they don't have to take so much unsolicited advice). They're a little too forceful with their opinions, though, and seem to think they can say whatever the hell they want to me. The membership chair, for example, has all the tact, grace, and subtlety of a MAC truck.

Back in September, after at least two years of paying dues and not going to meetings, I decided ah, what the hell, let's give it a go. So I went. I walked in and felt immediately defensive about not having been there for a while. I bit my tongue (a lot) when people made a fuss and asked me where I'd been. "Busy," was the only answer I'd give them. You know what? I'm on the members address list. If you missed me so much, why didn't you give me a call? Shoot me an email?

So I sat through the meeting, listened to all the news, got introduced to a new member (she was sitting next to me), ooohed and aaahed over other members' show-and-tell items -- I think that's the part I'm going to miss most. People will bring in their finished pieces, framed or stuffed or whatever, and pass them round the room. Always got me extra motivated to go work on something. Whatever else I have to say about these women, they are very skilled.

After the meeting proper was over, the class started. There's always someone teaching something. Those who haven't signed up for the class can observe it, or sit and stitch and converse quietly, or leave. I decided to stay a little, even though I'd brought nothing to do. At this point, the membership chairwoman enters the room. She plops down next to me, asks where I've been. I told her I've been busy and haven't been stitching much. She then starts talking to the new member (probably why she aimed herself at our table anyway), and in the course of conversation introduces me, saying "We've been with her through thick and thin." She pats my hand. "Literally."

Bitch, I think. No wonder your kids moved so far away from you.

Lemme explain. When I joined the guild, I was very, very large. Then I joined Weight Watchers and lost a bunch of weight. Then, a few years ago now, my Grandma died. It hit me hard. I got depressed. And found an awful lot of the weight I'd lost. So. Thick...and thin...literally.

I left that meeting rather insulted. Didn't go back for a while. I'd mostly decided that after this crewel workshop I'd signed up for was over with, I was dropping out. I only hung in there for the workshop because a) I'd already paid for it; and b) withdrawing and taking my money out would mean it would be more expensive for everyone else. We were getting a nationally known, famous (in our little circle, anyway) crewel embroiderer/instructor/guild master craftswoman to come teach us, and it wasn't going to be cheap.

Between that September meeting and the workshop in the spring, I went to one other meeting. The quarterly newsletter was a little sketchy on the time and place of this workshop, and I went to ask questions. Managed to stay away from Mrs. ThickandThin, but was accosted instead by another woman who I hadn't seen in the autumn. First thing out of her mouth:

"Are you driving yet?"

"No."

"Vee! You said you were going to learn how to drive!"

"Well, apparently I lied."

She gave a burst of surprised laughter.

"Well you ought to drive, my goodness, I don't know how you get around otherwise..." and then I tuned her out. Kept on nodding and smiling, thinking to myself I am so out of here when that workshop's over!

And so, the workshop came and went. My resolve wobbled a little because I really did enjoy the weekend. I didn't leave feeling insulted or irritated either day. Heck, I had such a good time Saturday that I even went out to dinner with the teacher and most of the rest of the class. But that's because the people who drive me nuts don't really like crewel work and weren't there that weekend.

Dues are paid by the end of May. To forestall a phone call from Mrs. ThickandThin about where my dues were I sent her an email. One line: I'm not renewing my membership. I never got a response, though I'm sure she got it and passed the message on to the board. I bumped into the chapter president in the grocery store earlier this month. We passed each other a couple of times in various aisles. I smiled, said "Hi," and walked past. She looked like she wanted to talk to me, but I just kept moving. Not interested in explaining myself. Don't want a confrontation or an apology. I just want to be left alone.

And that's why I'm with the other guild now, and very happy with it too.

5 comments:

Just Me said...

Glad you're rid of the old guild too. And you're a much better woman than I. I wouldn't have been able to let that thick-and-thin comment go.

Anonymous said...

Makes perfect sense.
I hate all-women clubs. I hate all women anything. Mixed is better and even guys are better. Guys leave you alone or stick to the reason you're all together. No heavy stuff or innuendos or recriminations. Generally speaking.
notdotdot

--V said...

We had one man in the group for a while. He was president when I joined. I don't know what happened to him. Maybe he drowned in all the estrogen?

Anonymous said...

Probably out in the woods, beating a drum and howling....
notdotdot

Molly said...

My boss has me doing all kinds of work for her with her organizations and I see her encouraging me to join one in the near future--but I really do not want to. All the women in it are petty, share too much of their lives, and I really don't enjoy doing the work for her so why would I join the group?! I get that it looks good on a resume, but I want a 9-5 job, not a job where going to meetings means devoting time to stuff I don't want to do and not getting payed for it. Sometimes you have to put your foot down and say, "I don't want to so I'm not going to." So good for you!

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