Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Venturing out of my comfort zone

I always tell people that I live in Wichita the Charming. Tis true, you know. Where I live, a couple miles from Old Town, the neighborhoods are filled with Old homes and apartment buildings. I have found sidewalk squares stamped with the builder's name and date--1910, 1913, 1923--and the Victorian and Craftsman style homes are just wonderful to wander amongst, block after block of old-time architecture and charm. Even the "tall" apartment building that I live in is only three stories; the buildings are on a very human scale, and that makes them accessible and even more charming. And the trees!! The trees are huge and tall and full of life and vitality. I've never seen such trees in a city before!

Going west, Old Town is the restored warehouse area, full of wonderful little businesses in buildings that date back to the 1800s and somehow survived a massive city-wide fire in the late 1880s. Farther west, downtown is full of WONDERFUL buildings with great architectural detailing on the outsides and incredible interiors--much taller than my apartment building and yet still somehow on a human scale.

Going east, one passes an incredible variety of small stores--antique stores, gift stores, decorating stores, bookstores. After that one comes to the "high rent district" which is full of large homes on huge lots with lush and detailed landscaping. Continuing on east, the high rent district gives way to more modern suburbs, still nice, still lush, and then one arrives at the mall where Gryph works. It's one easy bus ride from the front of our building to the mall and a similar easy bus ride back home again.

Within four blocks of our building are the grocery store ("pharmacy coming soon!"), the laundromat, two thrift stores, the yarn store, several antique shops, a bead shop, the movie theater, multiple music stores, a magic store(!), two book stores, and the cross stitch store.

Going west, again in one easy bus ride, Old Town has our favorite pizza place, another bead store, a scapbooking store, several gift and book stores, and a multitude of places we haven't yet explored; plus museums, multitudes of restaurants, and the restored theater. Farther on, downtown has the bus station, our bank, the library, museums, a park, another thrift store, the post office, all among multitudes of other businesses.

I could easily live my life here in Wichita the Charming, without a car, close in to everything, and never miss the rest of Wichita--especially with pizza delivery services, lol--but today I stretched my comfort level quite a lot. We took three buses in the biting wind to go to western Wichita, out of the historic districts and into the newer, blander, dirtier, uglier areas. Destination: The Leather Factory.

It was weird, especially since the journey back home involved different buses. I certainly saw a lot of Wichita I didn't expect to see and don't really need to see again. It caused me a lot of anxiety, not knowing which bus to take to get back home, and not knowing if we would have to wait in that biting wind for extended amounts of time. Luckily, we made our transfers with no trouble.

I cannot say it was no trouble in The Leather Factory. It was quite a lot of trouble, actually. The sales staff were amazingly helpful and the more helpful they were, the more trouble we got in.

This is not what I expected. I expected we would go and spend a little money, get a few things, and continue on with our day.... but no. The Leather Factory had other plans for our money and it ate it amazingly quickly, let me tell you, thereby derailing my plans for any other shopping.

We did get what we had gone for: a couple punches to make the leather bag sewing MUCH easier and more thread. It was what happened after that which derailed my budget... the hide which was on sale, the stencils which were on sale, the scissors which were on sale (and are a great value, I do have to say, especially since they will spare my quilting scissors), the membership card which gets us the discounts... oy.

My comfort level was hovering somewhere around $50 or $60... we spent nearly $150 and now the tax refund is GONE. *eeep!* It isn't that we won't use everything we bought, and fairly quickly at that--it's the (unexpected) size of our commitment to this project. I had been at a hobby level, I think, "oh, we'll make a few bags inexpensively..." and today we made a jump to "we ARE making an investment in this." Yikes! What if we can't make a go of it?! What if it doesn't work?!

I have to back off and remind myself--we are not behind on any bills, the paychecks cover the bills and food, I have a little grocery money left to tide us over until payday--we DID have the right to spend that money on anything we chose. I just didn't expect it to be this.

I have never made money consistently from what I make, even though I have sold things along the way since I was a teen and set my first candles out at a yard sale. I have never before sustained the momentum and made a going concern from what I make; I have never fulfilled that dream for myself.

This is really scary. Technically, I am helping Gryph... but yanno, one of the first two bags that will be done is mine. I downsized the bag pattern, chose the leather, cut it, and am constructing it step by step from scratch as a trial effort, a sample. I suspect I will be making more and more of them if my hands and wrists hold out. Certainly I am keeping track of expenses. I am in this thing--and we are making a bigger commitment than I had intended to make.

I am making a bigger commitment than I had intended to make.

It scares me.

Pics of the bags tomorrow. *wry smile*

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