Monday, March 16, 2020

Lost Identity

These days are surreal -- like nothing I could have ever imagined would be happening. A month ago I was oblivious to the immense change that our lives would be enduring. Scientists had to have known that coronavirus was going to affect many people hugely, but the magnitude to which it has is almost unfathomable.

Not even a month ago, my quilt The Value of Violet won top prize at the AQS Daytona show. This is a freaking huge award too -- to the tune of $10000. If that's not enough, my other quilt that was at that show also won one of the bigger prizes. Sadly, life at home has been such that I just cannot bolt off to every quilt show I want to attend, even if affordability is not an issue. I was sad and mopey because I just wanted to be there.

Within a week, I had made airline reservations to go to the Lancaster show. I wasn't going to wait and see how my quilts did; that really did not matter. I just wanted to go. Flying is easy as it is a short direct flight and then a short drive from Phili. The cost was about the same as driving the 8-9hr trip because it cut out 2 additional nights in a hotel. Seriously, when I booked reservations on March 1st, I had no clue what was about to happen. I knew that it might come to travel not being recommended. It just never occurred to me that AQS would be forced to cancel the show.

That news came 4 days ago, and it was hard to swallow. It came the day following when I heard that the Dallas Quilt show cancelled. It's a minor show on the circuit, but one that I had 2 quilts, both with ribbons. Cancelled quilt shows represents lost income to folks like me who make and show them as a living.

Not all who show quilts admit that it is part of their livelihood. It has taken nearly a decade for that to be the case. Some shows don't yield ribbons and checks, while some produce nice paydays. There's no way I can say with certainty how my quilts will do because you never know who is judging or who has sent in a fantastic quilt. On average, though, I know that my workmanship and style are rewarded at many shows. Is this an income that somebody 10-15 years from retirement can hang their hat on? Heck no, BUT combined with teaching opportunities and client quilting and my books, things are fine.

The writing on the wall, though, did not end with these 2 shows canceling. The gigantic wildcard was what was MQX going to do? In the last several days to week, it was becoming painfully obvious. The news was covering closures everywhere. My kids' schools closed on the weekend through the end of the month. When recommendations to not hold events with over 250 people are being made, that just about says it all. In the end, the CDC announced yesterday that gatherings of over 50 people should be avoided.

Hearing that MQX would not happen this year is like a dagger to my heart. I have gone to this show since 2010. If you count the 3 years I went to MQX Midwest, this would have been my 14th time attending and my 9th time teaching there. It is as close to a home show as they get. THIS is the show that I mistakenly entered in 2010 (the person recommending I enter really said "MQS"), and the show that spawned all of my love and interest in making/competing show quilts. I cannot even comprehend if it does not happen next year. I was supposed to teach there next month. I guess it's a good thing I did so well at Daytona because I will definitely be missing that paycheck.

So as I sit here, with my kids sequestered at home we are all feeling a bit hum drum. It's not really like they are on vacation because they cannot have friends over. Tomorrow the schools should be forwarding work instructions for how they are not going to completely backtrack educationally with this required home stay. I love having them close, yet I feel stir crazy and lost. Everything I do, every quilt I design or make has a goal in mind -- to be the best I can make so that it hopefully catches the judges attention. I make them to share with other aspiring quilters, to motivate and to inspire them. TEACH them. Then that little birdie pops into view mumbling "why?...what's the point? there is no show" Oh my goodness, there has to be another show. The cancellations of MQX and AQS cannot result in the end of these companies. They put on fantastic shows and have been my lifeblood.

This disease is serious. I hope not to have to endure it along with everything it is robbing me of. Right now though I just want the old me back. The me of today is depressed and sad and really missing how things used to be. I'm sure there are others of you feeling the very same sentiment.

Be safe, all. Heed the warnings. If this passes, I will be at the AQS Charleston show in late September.
Here's a sneak peek at something coming down the pike (please take your fingers off the "copy" button as I don't want this shared yet).