"I have taken over the basement room in which someone who lived here before left a Ping-Pong table. It is now my sewing room. The table is just the right height for me, and I can spread out the fabric on its expanse of dark green when I cut things out. It's cool there in the summer, and quiet. I listen to the radio and work away, and a flat piece of cloth takes on shape as I work, grows breast-shaped curves and hips, gathers itself into a waistband, to which I have added an inch because I am fatter than I wish I were.

"This activity uses resources seldom called upon in the rest of my life. Beyond basic decisions about color, style, and fabric, there is little thought involved in sewing. Clothing construction follows the same rules whatever the garment. You sew a seam and finish the edges. Right sides go together unless it says otherwise. You press seams open, and darts toward the center or down. You do not argue with the seams about the degree of openness, nor do you seek a dart consensus about which way they want to be pressed. There are virtually no moral ambiguities in sewing.

"The outcome of a sewing project is never uncertain. I know in advance exactly what I will get, and I control all phases of production. When I finish, I can point to what I have made. . . . None of this bears much resemblance to the way I earn my living, which is by having meetings and deciding about things and evaluating things. . . . After a week of this, I am ready for a change. I go down the basement stairs, feeling the earthen coolness coming up to meet me as I descend. And there in the sewing room is my brand-new machine, gleaming white in the dark. Hello. Tough week? Never mind — let's make something, shall we?"