Walk Away

I believe if you asked any of my co-workers who I work with quite closely, the one thing they might cite about me is that I cry easily. While that isn’t so much true, it can appear that way. Any kind of negativity past a certain threshold will make me cry in a heartbeat. It doesn’t even need to be directed at me. Just an air of negativity or an extremely hostile person and I can end up crying. I also end up crying when I feel frustrated. If it hits that threshold, it’s normally quite dire and the only thing that will make it go away is a hug. Other than that, you have to let it run its course.

At the moment, my life is not all that bubbly. More like a bottle of champagne left in the sun for a few weeks. It smells weird, is flat and no one wants to get rid of it let alone drink it. But I haven’t cried. The frustration hasn’t been bad enough, the negativity hasn’t been strong enough. But today, while going through something relatively mundane, I ended up crying. Bawling, actually. I don’t know what set it off. I don’t know what started it. I do know I need to balance my electrolytes a bit better as there was little salt in those tears but beyond that…I’m not sure. I can speculate, of course, but…even that doesn’t exactly make sense to me.

I should mention, I started crying going through yarn and deciding if there was any that I wanted to get rid of before moving. There were two skeins, in particular, that I think triggered me. They were purchased by someone for me at a time when everything else was falling apart except that person. I was sicker than I had ever been in my life and there didn’t seem to be a way to get healthier. It didn’t seem possible that I would ever not be sick. But at the time, this person was my constant and had convinced me things were good. I was sick but I would get better. Things were bad but they would get better. Almost a year later, the “better” and the person are both a bit of a lie.

Perhaps it’s delayed processing.

I’m not sure.

But it is in my head, fluttering and buzzing and making strange noises that I don’t know how to quell.

Things I’ll Always Be

I’m packing to move at the moment. It’s laborious – physically and emotionally. With a minimalist mindset, I have the amount of “things” of most hoarders, specifically in the yarn and book sections. I’m trying to get rid of as many books as possible for a large number of reasons. I live in New York City so space is at a premium and after a few moves, lugging all the books in the world gets tough. There’s also emotional baggage related to a lot of these books. Some are from relationships past and have moved through several states of living.

But as I go through my books, I keep finding pens. Le pens, mostly, a specific type of thin-lined pen in a wide variety of colors. Try as I may get rid of books, I will always read books with a pen in hand – underlining and scribbling in the margins. It’s what I’d call a core characteristic of my being. I forget it often when I don’t have the opportunity to read for a period of time or when I read less philosophical books. But whenever I have that type of a book, a pen finds a way into my hand and it fulfills a specific part of my soul I don’t know exists until that moment. I’m satisfied in that moment as a whole.

In relationships, we often have to change and bend. Very rarely are interpersonal relationships like enzymes; no two humans fit together so perfectly they’re a lock and key match. There’s shoving, often awkward grunting and compromise along the way. As I look at a sizable pile of books in the “Donate” pile, I realize I’m not throwing away my core personality characteristic but a bunch of tools to get there. That’s OK. I can buy more books. I can’t buy me. I can’t lose myself trying to bend like an enzyme. I’ve got to instead work to be satisfied with just me.

Oopportunity – No Typo

I had a co-worker ask this week what a group of us wanted to be “when we grew up.” In other words, what was that thing that we used to dream about optimistically before reality found a way to charge for dreams, I have been everything I have wanted to be – minus happy.

When I was in kindergarten, we were supposed to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up. At the age of 4, I knew I was unable to draw what a veterinarian does – already admitting to my sub-par art skills, and instead drew a rock and a star said I wanted to be a rock star. Even at that age, I was quite literal and snarky to pseudo-authority figures. I later realized I couldn’t be a vet: I could never put down an animal. I’d be more upset than it’s owners.

When I was in high school, I fell in love with a boy. I was sure he was too smart for me so I would have to be as smart and arty as I could possibly muster in order to garnish any attention from him. I decided I would want to be a writer. I never did garnish his attention but kissed him a year later when we were actually friends and dating other people. I did become a writer – at least in the paying capacity. But freelance writing is hard no matter how many clients one has and I couldn’t maintain it.

Later in high school, I fell in love with another boy and decided I would be a concert photographer. Perhaps my biggest life regret is never doing anything about either of those things when it was a possibility. After college, I was able to become a concert photographer but without the boy, it lost the appeal.

When one graduates college with any part of a degree in Philosophy, no one knows what they want to be. I was never happier in many ways than in college where all I had to do to be successful was read and write and think critically and apply concepts. For some reason, no one advertises for existentialists anymore. I knew the music industry was always something of a draw and fell into an internship. It just so happened to be in the field marketing department. At the same time, I fell into a freelance writing role that just happened to start talking about this thing where you can write a certain way to make these non-real spider bots find what you wrote. A few years later after I moved from and then back to NYC, we eliminated most of the roles in my department and, well, someone had to take on this ‘paid search’ thing so I happened across it.

All of that is lovely, I’m sure. But…at the root of it….none of it was wanted. It was just what I got. I literally could have been a romantic comedy at the age of 5: all I ever wanted was to fall in love where nothing else mattered. The rest didn’t matter; what paid the bills paid the bills.

25 years or so after proclaiming I wanted to be a “rock star,” I’m sitting in my bedroom. I have had an absolutely cruddy day. There’s some knitting I want to do, some coffee I really should drink and some work stuff I’m trying to keep myself from doing. All I can think about, instead, is how much better the world looks when you’re 5.

And how much I wish I still was there… 

A Dangerous Web To Spin

To those who aren’t fiber crafters or know someone who is, the idea of spinning yarn is antiquated – if it’s even thought of as something that happens. Hard as it believes, yarn doesn’t fall off the sheep and find itself in brightly colored string-form. Fiber arts – as a catchall – are really one part craftsmanship and one part true art. The craft portion finds itself in high-quality workmanship. The lengthy process that occurs in the creation of yarn, the weaving of a scarf or even just the reading of a complex cable knitting pattern. These are trained-skills that provide an immense value of satisfaction. The artistic part comes after the skill and is all in the execution. Twenty people can make the same hat. But there are several dozen individualized choices along the way that can change your hat from every other hat in seconds. The art is a decision of the maker.

I’ve always been someone who habitually is good at things. Far from being a not-so-humble brag, that has always been my downfall. See, I tend to be good at things quickly. Playing clarinet, for example, came so easily to me that it was a piece of cake to learn numerous other instruments. I sight-read my audition to Julliard, playing it for the first time well enough to earn the acceptance of a highly-coveted admissions seat. The first time I went skiing – after I worked to get past the fear-factor of plummeting into a tree – was an exercise of amazement. I just “knew” what to do and it came naturally. As a result of being naturally good at so many things I enjoy, I avoid things I am not immediately good at. In fact, I assume it’s a problem with the thing I am trying and never me. I am unable to draw much more than a stick figure because I was never willing to practice. The first half dozen times I picked up knitting needles, I failed so epically that I stuck to crochet with a tightly clenched hook in hand.

Spinning yarn was another craft I did not exceed at immediately. The drop spindle earned it’s namesake and I threw it into the back of the closet with no plans to find it again. A few years later, I was at Gauge & Tension for the NYC Yarn Crawl when I spotted a beautiful fiber. I decided to buy it and give the spinning “thing” another attempt. Immediately, it was good at it. My first draft of the fiber onto my spindle produced a thin, even yarn with the ideal twist.

I’ve delved much farther into spinning yarn since then – moving from drop spindle to wheel to another wheel to a giant fiber stash – but one skill that both spinning, craftsmanship and life all share still eludes me: patience. It probably surprises no one that another fault that comes from having a natural propensity toward certain skills is that I’ve never been patient enough to sit down and practice at something I might be bad at. That said, in the never-ending goal of improving myself, I am trying to teach myself patience.

While I may be skilled at spinning, I am by no means an expert and there are still several knowledge gaps I possess and openly admit to. One of them is that I’ve never spun a full 4 oz braid. Instead, I always give up at some point and waste the rest of the braid. I’ve also never spun a yarn thin enough for a 3-ply sock yarn. I’ve started trying to do that but have abandoned along the way. My attempts at practicing patience were to finally conquer both of those knowledge gaps.

A big part of the reason I’ve never spun that fine before is that the yarn breaks, frequently. This is actually something that can happen quite commonly when spinning yarn – and lacking the skillset to compensate properly. By the fifth time I have to rethread my yarn through the orifice, I get frustrated and give up. Patience, Yoda.

Another reason I’ve never spun that thin is quite existential. When you draft fiber thin – and I mean THIN – you are trying to add twist to air with a few hair in it before it evaporates. The fiber is pulled past it’s breaking point and there is far more air than there is fiber. It’s just there, sparse and unlikely to be much more than rubbish. My hands instinctively do anything possible to avoid this. I’ll pinch the yarn up higher, I will draft more fiber into the space between my hands, I will do anything. For me, it’s more than fiber arts or craft: it’s one of my most basic fears in life: the unknown.

I am that person who will look up the movie they’re watching on Wikipedia to find out the ending. I am that person who adds minute-marking notation to my written thoughts at work so I can better predict the next question. I am that person who loves watching sports 10-times more when I know the final score. I do not do well in the unknown or uncomfortable. Spinning in this breaking point is, literally, an exercise in the unknown. And I do not like it.

So I am trying to train my brain into being patient and my hands into more deliberate action. I do not know if I expect myself to succeed. I might fail. I think that’s all part of the excercise, isn’t it? To patience – it takes too long!

 

Uncoupling

As social mammals, human life falls in certain cadences. For my social circles, my twenties were marked with weddings. I learned that I missed a career in bow-making at Bed, Bath & Beyond every time I wrapped a gift in the same wrapping paper option as the last wedding I went to and I learned to sit uncomfortably through yet another speech. I developed a keen gift for sneaking out right after the cake was cut and for always ending up at the “boy’s table” lamenting the cost of weddings in America. My own wedding was – much like most of my major life decisions – made capriciously and came together only with the help of everyone I loved. My mother helped me crochet birds for wedding favors, my cousin helped me paint things in my aunt’s garage until the wee hours of the morning and my dearest friend’s worked very, very hard to keep me from accidentally dying as every bee in the Tristate area was in town for the event and anxious to great me. Unfortunately, I still to this day remain deadly allergic to their existence. There was literal fire, family drama, car accidents, medication mixups, a lot of blood, and twisted bones – and that was just the night before.

My thirties appear to be marked by divorces. With every week comes another change of address card in the mail – for only one of the two people in that residence – and a dubious Facebook relationship status update marked hidden. A friend of mine is still waiting for her divorce to be final – after moving cross-country and starting to date her current fiance almost three years ago. Another friend is in limbo right now with what to do for her marriage – and her other relationships.

Uncoupling, it seems, is the next life stage. No longer reserved just for software and databases! I think of my own life and….wait, no. Not doing that. I avoid thinking of my own life as much as humanly possible in almost dread of the next life stage. Well, that or the other option in this board game.

Several of my friend’s have recent had small, gluttonous beings with siren-like vocal chords come into their life. Yes, they are now parents to something more than a cat or a dog. I like my fur children and they are much lower maintenance than I imagine children to be. Heck, I can’t even manage to reliably pick up the laundry I pay someone else to wash, let along be in charge of another human life.

 

Things I’ve Heard About Being A Parent That I Don’t Believe 

“It’s different when you have kids of your own!” – Why, yes, yes it is….

“You learn to love your children more than you think you ever could!” – I’m sure that’s valid but I remain rather fond of my cat and I never thought that be the case.

“It’s only natural” – Actually, it’s evolutionarily common for humans to pass on their lineage but a requirement of said evolution is that some members of the social group do not procreate.

“You’ll know when the time is right!” – Ever notice how people trying to influence your life choices inevitably express their opinions with exclamation marks?

“Sometimes children just happen…” – If only there were known methods to stop said madness! Wait…

 

But life will march onward…

Curiously, I’m not sure if I am trepidacious or eager for the next life stage. For me, I don’t know what that stage will be. But whether I see it coming or not…it will get here.

“Art Is Hard” – Cursive

I don’t write anymore unless it’s freelance. Unless Instagram counts (and I do not, personally, count it), I don’t take pictures anymore. I’ve lost the motivation to do it for personal reasons. Art is hard. When I was in high school, writing was easy. I’d write a short story a night. I’d prepare it for sending out as a query the next day. I’d sent it out and it would be done until eventually a “Congratulations, we’d like to publish your piece” letter found its way to my mailbox. I kept no organization or records. When I ‘d receive a letter, half the time I wouldn’t remember the query or even the story. It was worse with poetry. Napkins, journals, post-it-notes, blue books after I’d finish tests – poetry everywhere. I lived it and I would submit it with no thought. Even in college, I vividly remember writing poetry at 4:30AM in the morning when I couldn’t sleep before going outside to see if any of the smokers were around to talk to. Ah, honors students and philosophy majors!

Fast-forward (and I do mean fast) to 2017 where my words stay in my head and linger instead of ever finding a page.

Art is hard. Cursive was right. Or write. How punny!