Fix Shit Up
I have this pin that says, "Fix Shit Up". I don't wear it that often, really, only when I'm feeling especially surly. I should have worn it yesterday, though, because that's what I spent the entire day doing. I fixed my shoes, which have huge holes in the bottom of them, by gluing/placing cut up pieces of bike tire over the holes. Now when it's wet outside my feet stay dry instead of wet and numb. I got halfway through repairing a hole in the knee of a pair of pants that my mother would have had me throw away a year ago. If you've ever seen me, you know these pants: the ones with the hole in the crotch that I patched up last winter. They are my old gyro stand pants, and even though the grease stains have faded on the top of the thighs and my pen made a huge stain by leaking all over the pocket on New Year's Eve, I love them and am doing triage to keep them alive.
I also sewed a couple of cool patches on my bag. It only had one that my Grandma and I sewed on this summer with her sewing machine. I put a circular patch with a bright yellow hem that says "Bicycles Don't Pollute" in green letters with the o in don't being a big bike wheel. Anne's sister Kate sent this to me from Illinois and it rocks. I also put a patch that has the coat of arms of Normandy on, too, and plan to put one with the Polish flag on, too, as well as the blue patch with "Bicycles Allowed Full Lane" in large white letters I used to have safety-pinned on.
There's something about fixing things that I really, really love. Maybe it's the reward of patience that sewing brings, or the satisfying feeling that instead of spending money on a new thing or taking it to somebody else to repair I've developed skills that I hadn't had before. When we repair something, we also say that it's worth keeping around for awhile instead of throwing away, giving that thing value. And we don't contribute to the waste that is so prevalent in this world.
I wrote in my 'zine that resourcefulness is born out of want. When you need something but have little means to get it, you have to rely on yourself to obtain it rather than simply expending a resource you already have. You have to develop skills, be creative, keep your eyes open to the world for materials or information or people to help you along towards your goal. Being resourceful and sharing ideas and skills creates community as well.
I think back on the skills that I have accrued in the course of fixing things and realize the relationships I've developed because of this. I got to know my Grandma and my friend Lisa better because I wanted to sew stuff with their sewing machines, and they graciously showed me how. I found a cadre of talented, thoughful people at Skunk River Cycles in Ames because I wanted to fix and build my own bikes. This goes back really far into my childhood as well, when my dad showed me how to fix my first flat tire, my grandpa helped me build speaker boxes for my 1980 Chevette and my mom showed me how to cook, clean, garden, and in essence provide for myself in many aspects of life. When we repair things we make ourselves better as well.