Category Archives: Misc Short Stories

Executive Dysfunction


So the last thing I wrote was a huge angry rant about the Insurrection. Since then, I’ve settled into my new home and my new state, my toddler weaned off breastfeeding, I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve hung out with family, and I started working out on a semi-permanent basis (which is like semi-regular, but kind of from the opposite direction). My parents got to visit over the summer and I have been writing every day. My SO has been telling me about bullet-journaling for a while and at first I thought it would be Work. I don’t have the time or energy to work on things. But he asked me to read a book on it (The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll – Excellent) and since I place a lot of importance on other people reading what I recommend, I did. And I’m glad I did because it took something that seemed nebulous and time-consuming into something I could use. If you’re not familiar, bullet journals are just normal journals but instead of line each page has a dotted grid. This allows you to be more flexible with how you use the journal. You can stick to lines, you can make graphics and lists and get artistic or keep it very simplistic. Mine is more the later. Anyway, if you look up bullet journals on Pinterest, you’ll see what I mean. The first thing I had to do was decide What I Wanted to Journal (daily log, books read, crochet projects, yarn inventory, potty training, migraines, meal planning, and work outs). It seems like a lot, but the journaling has really helped, though it’s kind of funny looking back at my early logs as compared to what I’m writing now. I used to get 2-3 days to a page and now I’m lucky if I get a day finished in less than a page. It’s been a really convenient receptacle for my memory and a place to order my thoughts, prepare for important events, and in general vent my frustrations in a safe space. Don’t get me wrong, I like having this space but it isn’t private and it isn’t supposed to be. Everything I put on here is meant to be read, even if I risk upsetting people. The daily minutiae of my life is not only boring, it’s my life.

I titled this “Executive Dysfunction” for a reason, of course. A while ago I came across a Tumblr screenshot on Pinterest about how to manage executive dysfunction, which is when you know you should do something but you simply can’t. Now, this post was aimed at people with ADD/ADHD, which I am not, but it resonated with me anyway. With ADD/ADHD, executive dysfunction can be crippling especially because neurotypicals *refuse* to understand. They say I can’t do something and the response is inevitably “don’t be lazy, just do it.” It’s not laziness. It is the brain literally being unable to connect the impulse to the action. And it is very debilitating because you have to life hack your way to an atypical solution because to NT people there’s only one solution which is to just do it. That’s like telling a blind person to see by just opening their eyes. It doesn’t work that way. One post I saw was discussing dental hygiene. Person A knew she had to brush her teeth, that it was very important for her health, blah blah blah. But she loathed doing it every day and that made it this Mt Everest she had to face as part of her daily routine. She’s telling this to Person B who asks her what exactly about the task bothers her the most and after some thought, Person A says it’s the toothpaste. She absolutely abhors the taste of mint. So Person B reminds her that kids toothpaste comes in all kinds of not-gross flavors and is STILL TOOTHPASTE. *lightbulb* Another one I saw was someone who was constantly late and instead of getting all flustered or setting a million alarms, she just put a clock in every room in her house.

The thing to take away from this life hack is that this approach is not limited to people with executive dysfunction. We are all very different people who face all kinds of obstacles in our lives so the last thing we should be doing is approaching those obstacles the way everyone else does. This applies to every aspect of our lives: dieting, education, careers, exercise, parenting, hobbies, E V E R Y T H I N G.

Haven’t you ever worked at something and seen no progress and then given up because you just don’t have the will-power or determination or genes or whatever? You look around and see that this works for everyone and somehow isn’t working for you, right? We live in a society that loves to stalk the successes of other people and shame ourselves for not achieving more, even when we’re looking at people who have trust funds and personal trainers and nutritional dieticians and stylists and publicists and good genes to boot. There’s that American Fable of the guy who dropped out of school and became a billionaire by inventing something in a garage, all very impressive. Except when you find out that the start-up for that invention was funded by their millionaire parents.

I decided to look at one of my obstacles through the lens of executive dysfunction instead of laziness or procrastination. I am fat. I gained 50 lbs when I was pregnant, lost 25 of that when I had the baby, and then during the pandemic ballooned back up to my baby weight. This isn’t something that happened overnight or anything, and I’ve been in a gradual decline in physical health since leaving the Army because I swore never to run again and I simply couldn’t stick to a workout routine. I’d try getting gym memberships and doing classes, thinking that if I was paying to workout I’d be more motivated to keep it up. Nope. I tried at home workout where I just planned a routine for myself. Nope. I bought work out clothes and weights. Nope. I started again and again and every time, when the manic push was over, I’d go back to sleep or skip it just today and then tomorrow and then it’d be weeks and weeks and months of nothing. Then years of nothing because I was too tired from having a newborn then a baby then a toddler. Protip: You will never get past the tired from having the newborn. If you didn’t have the time or energy before, you won’t have it after because you won’t get fully rested until they’re grown and by that time you’ll be twenty years older than when you decided to put it off until after the baby.

So here I am, ten years out of the military having gone from being pretty in shape to woefully out of shape. My wedding ring doesn’t fit. I get winded going up the stairs. I had to buy leggings because I couldn’t face buying bigger jeans. And every time I looked in the mirror, I saw some fat woman where I used to be. I’m not being dramatic, there is a complete disconnect between how my brain thinks I look and how I actually look and it is physically jarring sometimes. I’d like to sit here and say that I love myself anyway, that the shape of me doesn’t dictate my quality. That is true. I’m not fishing for compliments and I’m not body shaming. I am heavier than I want to be and that has a lot more to do with my mobility than anything else. I mean, yes, my vanity is hurting right now, but I’m a grown person so I can deal with that. But guys, have you ever tried to keep up with a 3yo? They are aaaaallllllll energy (that they steal from us) and there is no explaining that Mommy’s heart is fit to burst if we don’t take a break from running laps on the back porch. And that’s just now. What about in a few years with team sports? What about in a decade when we want to hike mountains? What about when they need help moving into a new house or watching their 200lb great dane puppy or just want to go on a walk to their favorite coffee place just down the block? I can’t here and risk losing my kid because I simply can’t keep up.

But *still* the motivation to get up and doing eluded me. Despite all the self-loathing I was feeling, I still couldn’t get past this obstacle: I don’t stick to workout routines. I get motivated one day and then in a week or two it fizzles out. Every time, regardless of what I tried. This time, instead of just going with something and hoping I stayed motivated enough to stick with it, I started asking myself WHAT IS STOPPING ME? Basically, what are my excuses? I want to be healthy, I want to lose weight and fit into my jeans, so why don’t I just do it? Aw, there we go. I have always thought of it as that simple equation. I know what I have to do so I should just do it. The human brain is never that simple and shame on me for using the same tired playbook on myself. It’s not that easy, it never is, and there is NEVER just one way to do it so there’s no such thing as “just do it.”

Here is what I did: I made a list of what’s stopping me.

  1. I’m too Tired
  2. I’m too Sore
  3. Migraine
  4. Apathy
  5. Boredom
  6. Toddler

Then I countered each obstacle.

  1. I’m too Tired – You’re up anyways, why not (I have to wake up with my son and he’s always up by 9:00)
  2. I’m too Sore – Stretch, take your time
  3. Migraine – yoga or just stretching, take care of yourself
  4. Apathy – yoga, stretch, or meditate, DO SOMETHING
  5. Boredom – lots of variety
  6. Toddler – Only do workouts that don’t require a sitter

I looked at all my excuses and found a contingency plan for them. My kid is a big obstacle because I can’t just workout only when there’s someone to watch him. That’s an obstacle that can easily turn into a well maybe I’ll skip today since the hubby can’t watch him. Besides which, I want him to see me working out because eventually he’s gonna need that habit, too. Is it annoying to have to pause the workout sometimes because he wants his cereal or he wants to sit on my back during a plank? Yes. Do I still think it’s important that he sees me establishing healthy habits? Yes. I workout in the morning after we’re up for the day. I don’t wake up at dawn or whatever because NO. I have enough bad nights and dumb early mornings thanks to my kid, I don’t need to do it to myself. And if I can only workout at stupid early times then it’s not going to happen. I did 6am PT for 6+yrs, I’m not doing it now. The workout itself was another important obstacle. When I really thought about it, I knew I couldn’t be a gym rat. I don’t like the performance of it, as it is a performance for me. I have to get the right clothes and shoes and look like I know what I’m doing and I spend the whole time fixated on what other people are seeing me doing because I am a narcissist and I can’t imagine them NOT looking at me. It’s distracting AND it gives me another opportunity to nope out of my workout. I’m trying to find the way of least resistance and if I have to get dressed, brush my teeth, get in the car and get to the gym, that’s 4 different moments where my brain could say well, maybe I’ll skip today and just get donuts. Stream-lined routine is I roll out of bed, get the toddler to the potty, throw on a sports bra and workout shirt over my pj pants, and grab a pair of socks in case I need shoes for my workout. Figuring out the routine was actually the easy part. I didn’t want to go full P90X or Crossfit because obviously if I can’t move the next day, that’s another excuse not to workout. Instead, I found a website (darebee.com) that has free workout programs that you can print out. I found one for 30 Days of Yoga which was perfect since my goal was Establish a Routine first, get fit second. That killed the “too sore” excuse as it was a beginner course and hardly anything that would challenge me, even after being out of shape for so long. Yoga, I might add, is just a wonderful way to get moving. I will never be the person twisted into a pretzel, but I can touch my toes now and I have a simple routine I can run through that is just stretching so I don’t have to worry about sore muscles the next day or sweating or anything. I don’t know how it is at losing weight or anything, that’s not what I used it for. But if you’re looking for an intro to working out that is low-stress, low-impact, and in general very soothing, go for yoga or ballet. Just keep it to beginner classes and keep in mind that inflexibility is absolutely NOT an obstacle.

After 30 days of yoga, I added a light workout routine from the website paired with another yoga routine. And every time I started a new program, I went back to my journal to log it, which included restating or reassessing my goals. Goals, you ask? What goals? Well, after I looked at my excuses I had to decide what I wanted to achieve. This isn’t some kind of silly dream board or anything, it was a list of real, tangible things I wanted for myself. I want my wedding ring to fit. I don’t want to be winded going up the stairs. I want to recognize myself in the mirror. I want to fit in my jeans. What’s my timeline for these things? Oh, I don’t have one. I don’t have a weight goal or a size goal or anything like that. I’m not bogged down in results because THAT my friends is a TRAP. “I’m not seeing the results I want so it must not be working so I might as well quit.” OR there are results I can’t see and couldn’t be measured by any metric we use even if I could see them. The real goal is the habit, which I can maintain now since I didn’t force it. I didn’t change my routine, I just avoid sitting on the couch for the first 20-30 min of the day. I’m on my 5th 30-day program, sort of. After doing 3 progressively more challenging 30-day programs from Darebee, I was getting a bit of the apathy bug, so I downloaded the Fiton App and created a program off my goals and such. It’s a nice app, which helped me get over my worry about video workouts (always make me self conscious and I was concerned the toddler would want to watch them, too). The instructors are nice and the music isn’t annoying and they don’t have a class full of people behind them doing all the workouts better than me, so it’s kind of low key like having a personal trainer who isn’t judging me.

Have I been 100% successful? Hahahaha no. I’ve skipped days. For good reasons, for bad reasons, for Reasons. I missed a full week in July because I went on vacation. And two weeks ago, I got stuck with a migraine that is STILL IN RESIDENCE. I’m sure you saw one of my obstacles/excuses is migraines, which I started getting with some regularity in my 20s. Sometimes, I can do the workout anyway, especially if it’s yoga or stretching or something. But I can’t just power through if I have a bad migraine and since they’re pretty much a normal part of my life, I have to accept that I will skip workout days because of them and all that means is that I sometimes miss a day. It’s not a catastrophe. It happens and that’s fine. Now, the migraine I’ve had for 2 weeks took me out 2 days in a row last week and is lingering hard this week, so I am actually going to try to see a doctor next week since this is unprecedented and it sucks donkey dong, excuse my French. But, forget all that. It is AUGUST. I have been working out regularly for SEVEN MONTHS. And I have lost barely any weight! I mean, I think, I don’t really check because weight is only one metric to gauge your health. Am I seeing results? No. I still see that fat woman in the mirror. Am I feeling results? YES. I CAN TOUCH MY TOES. I’m not sprinting up the stairs, but I can make both flights with the laundry instead of needing a break between. Has it only been good days? FK NO. I cried during a splits workout because my body simply didn’t respond and I felt so mortified even though there was literally no one to see me. 100% bawling on my dining room carpet because flexibility is my kryptonite. And I did the next workout after that one to make myself feel better AND IT DID.

The long and short of it is, I may not be succeeding at dropping those unwanted pounds yet but I am not a failure by a long shot and it’s because I took this struggle that I had been looking at as a moral failing and reframed it as a brain-body dysfunction and IT WORKED. What I want you to take away from this long rambling nonsense is that when you aren’t meeting your goals, instead of berating yourself you need to reframe the obstacles. “Why can’t I do this?” is already blaming yourself AND labeling yourself a failure. You’re setting up the imaginary ideal of Every One Else Who Can with you stuck at The Only One Who Can’t and that is a non-starter. Try instead “What do I need to do,” then “Why do I need to do it,” then “What is Stopping Me.” Those questions are important because if you can’t enunciate the reasons behind your goals you will never fully embrace them. They’ll always be that great book everyone told you to read but you never got around to it. Your reasons don’t have to be high-minded or altruistic or anything. They just have to be real. Once you get down to the foundations of your why, you can begin to really focus on your why nots (what’s stopping me). And when you figure out your why nots, you can tackle them with strategies that will work rather than what works for everyone else.

My toddler is home from being out with Daddy, so I need to go. Good Luck on your Obstacles!

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Albums and Bands I Love For Weird Reasons


Puppettron's Blog

This month, I asked my Patreon which of three topics to write about, because it’s a lot easier to pick stuff far in advance these days than it is to just write what’s on my mind. Not that I don’t just write what’s on my mind, far from it. But crises and world events are flying around so fucking quickly these days that by the time I put together a blog, I’ve either got a cold take on something that happened a couple of weeks ago or a medium take on something that happened literally the day before. Plus, with the Patreon’s 3 day preview timer, the Patrons have access to my takes while they’re fresh, but the regular people have access to what I said 3 days earlier. And while that could be a viable model to drive more people into my Patreon, the fact of the matter…

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Race/Color/Heritage/Identity


The first thing I learned in Lit Theory was that the relationship between the Signifier and the Signified was completely arbitrary and it blew my mind. This is the theory of Semiotics and quite frankly it makes a huge difference on how I look at language as a whole. Basically, we have words for things (signifiers) and we have things (signified) and there is literally no logical connection between them, no fixed state. The word is not the thing and vice versa.

Completely lost yet? Yeah, that’s how everyone starts with this theory. So I’ll give you the example my professor used to make it less foggy. Take the word “chair.” You know what a chair is. You can picture it in your mind. And even if everyone in the room with you is picturing a different chair, they are all essentially a chair. There must be, then, a Universal Chair, one which embodies the word and is imbued with the word at the same time. Except, well, no there isn’t. The word chair has a basic definition, true. But it is also burdened with connotations. Let’s look at a synonym for chair, “throne.” Now, a throne is definitely a chair, right? But is a chair a throne? Not really, no. Throne has different connotations. If you follow this logically, moving from synonym to synonym it is possible to eventually reach a word that is absolutely not a synonym for chair. Or to think of it in another way, we could translate the word “chair” to a different language. I went onto Google Translate and did just that. I went English to Spanish to Chinese to Russian to Scottish/Gaelic. And then I noticed that when I switched the Russian back to Gaelic, the words changed. So I went back and forth between them a few more times and then translated the Gaelic back to English. Suddenly the word was “home.” I could probably stretch my thinking to where home and chair are synonyms, but it’s a pretty far stretch. Language is pretty neat like that.

What this means is that the word “chair” and the object “chair” are not intrinsically linked. In other words, all language is made up and each and every word is encumbered with rich meaning and history. When we name things, we define them and those definitions shape them. But we must never forget that the name itself is arbitrary. The name isn’t the thing. The thing isn’t the name. The words change, the meanings change and this is absolutely the way it should be.

I started with that because I want to talk about race, color, heritage, and identity. These words are powerful and dangerous and sticky. They are not synonyms for each other and should not be treated as such. Are they connected? Yes, as are all words. That is the nature of language. But we need to divorce ourselves from the notion that it is all one and the same.

Heritage and Identity are big words. I may touch on them later.

Race and Color are also big words. I’ll deal with those now.

To lay out my credentials, I have none. I read stuff. I have a bachelors in English. I am white. I have no right to speak on this, but I’m gonna.

Race and color are not the same thing. Race is a social construct. Color has to do with skin pigmentation. The connection between the two is arbitrary, just like the word “chair” and the object “chair.” You probably already know this if you think about it.

When Europeans colonized (re: raped and pillaged indigenous civilizations in a quest for power and resources) the world, they did so under the banner of spreading civilization and the Christian faith. I’m generalizing, of course. That’s a huge chunk of history that includes hundreds of years and dozens of empires, but that’s the gist of it. Europeans needed resources and the best way to get them was to discover new lands, that coincidentally had been discovered thousands of years before by other people. And instead of abiding by the dibs rules, they decided to bring plague and slavery to the natives. They called it civilizing the savages, even when those savages were significantly further along in the indoor plumbing department. And then they had to justify all the violence, because even in those days you couldn’t just enslave a people without good reason. Ah, well, they’re savages, they aren’t really people. How do we know, well, LOOK THEY’RE BROWN.

Now I am definitely conflating the conquest of the New World (the Americas) and the colonizing of Africa, India, Australia, etc, which are not precisely the same thing. The motivations are the same (Europeans want more stuff), but it’s not like Europeans forgot that there were brown-shaded people when they traipsed across the Atlantic. People with darker skin-tones have always existed and Europe was never some kind of pale utopia wherein a time traveling sunscreen salesman could be king. For all of human history, race wasn’t a thing. Color was, sure, definitely not contesting that. But race? Nyope. Do I have sources for this? I have a NatGeo article which is very interesting and points out that scientific racism wasn’t a thing until the 1800s.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/race-genetics-science-africa/

There are actually a ton of articles on the subject and most of them seem to agree that the concept of race as we understand it is incredibly new. And it’s confusing really. Cuz we have this idea that people can identify as their race. I’m white. Other people are Black or Asian or Indian or Middle Eastern or Hispanic or First Peoples and you know what they are because they look like their race, right? That guy is black because he looks black. I’m white because I look white. But again, we all picture that Universal Chair and it turns out we mean home.

Race isn’t synonymous with skin color and the proof is the concept of “passing.” Now how is passing as another race possible if color and race are inherently linked? Someone who passes as white can still be black or Hispanic or Native. To be defined as POC, all you need is one POC in your bloodline (defined, not identify, which is something else). To be defined as white, you can’t have any. Which is impossible since all bloodlines started in Africa. If you’re a white supremacist, DO NOT get one of those ancestor DNA tests. You will be very disappointed. No, nevermind, do it. Enjoy some reality. (Did you know that some DNA tracing businesses will falsify data for customers who refuse to believe they have any African heritage?!?)

But wait, if race doesn’t exist according to science, how can people identify as a race? I’m glad you asked. It’s pretty complicated. You see, when Europeans colonized places, they gave priority treatment to pale people. And then they came up with science that made that okay because the not-pale people were OBVIOUSLY a different species. They labeled people, created boxes for specific characteristics and then said THIS BOX IS BLACKS AND THEY ARE INFERIOR AND YOU CAN TELL THAT BECAUSE THEY’RE DARK-SKINNED. In this way, colonizers not only justified the murder and enslavement of entire civilizations, they convinced the conquered people that they deserved to be murdered and enslaved because they didn’t look European. This was totally new. You murder and enslave people for land and ideology, not because they look different (I’m guessing).

Think of it this way. Some people like to point out that a lot of the slaves sold in Africa were sold by natives. See?!? Savages! Blacks sold their OWN KIND! Except that assumes that Africans are all one people when they are in fact the most diverse continent on the planet. They weren’t selling their own kind, they were selling slaves from other tribes. Slavery has been around a loooooong time and just about every civilization has had a hand in it. It was only in the recent past that it became hereditary, but I digress.

So Europeans invent race. We are good because we are White. You are bad because you are Black/Asian/First Peoples/etc. If you aren’t white, you are secondary, subservient, less than. Even in your own country. Even if you outnumber the white colonizers. Even if you have generations of much better personal hygiene and sophisticated calendars and managed to sail to your land in tiny boats while white people were still figuring out the Sun doesn’t orbit the Earth. And Europeans propagated this message for generations. They erased entire languages, cultures, and peoples trying to force homogeneity. Not to make everyone white (which is impossible from the white perspective because having a drop of POC blood means you aren’t white no matter how white you dress, talk, act), but to make everyone want to be white.

White is basic, normal, the standard. The only proof you need of whiteness is to look white. By that I mean you have pale skin and European facial features. Whiteness has more to do with skin color than any other “race.” That’s how it is possible to “pass” as white, a social strategy most commonly used to escape being not-white. Imagine that concept? To be a POC, all you have to admit to is one non-European ancestor. To be white, you have to erase 200,000 years of human history. And I know that feels like a leap, it’s simply math. When a white slave owner raped an African slave, the children were half black and still slaves. When those children were raped by a white slave owner, their children were a quarter black. When those children were raped by a white slave owner, their children with an eighth black, and so on. You can approach whiteness but never achieve it.

And not to put too fine a point on it, the slave (Sally Hemings) who bore Thomas Jefferson’s bastards and is the reason Jefferson is a common surname in the Black community, was three-quarters European and still somehow Black by race. She was also probably Martha Jefferson’s half sister, so you know, ew.

I have a friend who I served with for most of my military career and I was shocked (SHOCKED I tell you) to discover pretty early on that he was Black. He’s as pale as I am and has blond hair and blue eyes. But his father is Black and apparently if he grows his hair out it’s an afro. But when he enlisted, his recruiter told him to write down that he was White. Because it would be easier. That was only 20 years ago.

Which brings me to Black Africans. Black Americans have the distinct (what’s the opposite of privilege?) of being descendants of dark-skinned people who were kidnapped from their native land and forced to work to death for several generations. This great sin sundered our nation according to an arbitrary designation of race and has left devastating, unendurable damage to our people. We will never heal from it because we continue to cover the wound with diseased bandages and telling ourselves that the noxious smell is just bad apples. But anyway, when we (the ruling White class) legally defined slaves as Black because it didn’t matter what nation/people they came from, we erased their heritage. When we took their names and their children and their futures and their pasts, we erased their identity until all they had was the word Black to define who they were. And they took that word and remade it into their identity based on a shared trauma. That’s pretty damn neat.

But what about Black Africans. If Black Pride is rooted in the shared trauma of slavery, does that mean Black Africans are excluded from that pride? Knee-jerk reaction was no, of course not. Why? Well, they’re still Black. Obviously. What a stupid questions! Just look at them… ah, that’s right. Race and Color are not synonymous. Hmmm.

That right there is the problem with Euro-American, white-centric education. I learned barely anything about my own nation’s filthy racial histories and nothing at all about the rest of the world. Slavery in America didn’t exist in a bubble, apparently, and racial inequity was the norm in most of the world thanks to the British Empire (and the French and Spanish and Portugese and Dutch). Colonialism plagued the whole planet, not just the Americas. POC’s suffered under brutal, racist regimes for centuries and that left lasting, irreversible trauma. Black Pride, Native Pride, Indian Pride, that all stems from shared trauma at the hands of Whites. They flourish in spite of an entire system engineered to make them fail. That’s something to be proud of.

Right now I’m reading a book called Black Skins, White Masks by Frantz Fanon, who was a French West Indies psychiatrist and political philosopher in the middle of the 20th century. It goes over my head somewhat (neither philosophy nor psychology being strong suits of mine), but it is giving me incredible insight into the generational psychological trauma of colonialism on Black people. It is disheartening to read about all his pain and anger throughout the text, relaying the same dehumanizing treatment many of the Black community are still dealing with almost 70 years later. This is looking at what it is to be Black outside of America and it is literally no different. Trust me, Blackness doesn’t exclude based on geological origins.

I’m running out of steam on this and I appreciate you for sticking with me. I know this sort of meandered all over and probably doesn’t make a bit of difference in the grand scheme of things. The people who need to understand these concepts won’t read this. To be fair, a lot of people won’t read this because I don’t have a lot of followers. But it was something I had to parse out for myself and maybe this will help others put into words exactly what is wrong about any calls for White Pride.

All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter.

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An Anecdote on Anecdotes


Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. Without further evidence, it cannot prove or disprove anything. We are constantly seeing stories from people, first-hand, third-hand, allegorical, all trying to get you to connect emotionally with a cause. And it works. It also, well, doesn’t work. Mostly it backfires because these stories are based on one person’s perspective. That perspective may be echoed by dozens, hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. But it also contradicts the first-hand/etc perspectives of their detractors. I’ll give you an example.

I’m sure you remember when the Redskins football team was receiving a ton of pressure to change their mascot to something less racist. Lots of First People protestor organizations have been trying to get professional teams to abandon mascots that are based off harmful stereotypes and racial slurs. Now, to me, a white woman, it makes total sense in the 21st century to ditch RACIAL SLURS when representing your teams. Especially when the live representative of that slur is a racial stereotype. Plus, if you change the team name, you get to sell so much new merch. Everybody has to rebuy their fave jersey or whatever. Now, I wasn’t following this story too closely because I don’t care about sports. I do distinctly remember a game where a group of First Nation Redskin fans were paraded on the field because they didn’t find the mascot offensive. Sort of a, “See? How can it be racist if THESE GUYS are fans?!?” thing.

I remember this because I felt betrayed. Which is weird for a lot of reasons (I’m white and not a sports fan, for example), but I thought here at last was a clear-cut moment in history where we can grow and move on from a dark place. And they pulled the classic But Some of my Best Fans are Natives excuse, with live examples. How could they (the Natives) betray their people like that?!? How could they betray ME?!? Because now I can’t feel good about the cause since there are people on the other side who have a right to argue against it. (Yes, I cringed writing that, I’m a narcissist and these are the types of “first thoughts” I struggle with.) What right did they have to demonstrate that First Peoples are not a monolith and can have widely varying views on things that have absolutely nothing to do with me?!? (Edited to add: boy, is this ever topical now.)

What’s my point? Ah, well, we are dealing with huge social issues this century. HUGE. POC rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, Women’s rights, and so much of it is bogged down with anecdotes. Now, it’s one thing for a person to share their experience (say a woman sharing her story of workplace harassment) and having it discounted by someone who has no right to comment (in this case, typically a man who thinks women love his sexist jokes). It’s another thing to have someone of the same stripe (in my example, another woman) contradicting the account because that isn’t something they have experienced.

To the first example, the challenge is pretty clear. Convince that person/s that THIS IS A PROBLEM when it is an issue that they will never be affected by and they most often have absolutely no reference for empathy. Take PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), for instance. There are women who have been fighting for years to convince actual doctors that they have a serious medical condition. They are told REPEATEDLY that they are imagining severe symptoms or just exaggerating what is simply a bad period. If you know nothing about PCOS, I invite you to google away because it is f*cking awful and has a wide range of debilitating side effects. But since the majority of medicine is focused on keeping white men healthy, there is a huge research gap in women/POC health. In order for concerns to be legitimized, a lot of people have to make noise about it. Continuously. Until people in the upper eschelons of medical research decide it is worth looking into. It’s pretty horrific that this is a problem in a modern, first world country, but it has a lot to do with the fact that a majority of doctors for a long time were men and had no first hand experience with POC or women’s health in practical applications. Medical texts were written by men. Medical students were taught by men. Medical care is so biased towards white males that it is NEWS that women have completely different symptoms for heart attacks. It wasn’t that long ago that the cure for anxiety in women was a hysterectomy. And we are just now beginning to dismantle the damage done by men taking over obstetrics from midwives (because a male doctor is way more qualified to handle reproductive health than a profession built on generations of female experience).

So you make noise by sharing your experience and then comes the research and statistics and whatever else to prove that you were right! And now you have to take that scientific evidence and cram it under the nose of Every. Single. Doctor and medical professional you can. And you share your story on social media, through blogs and Facebook posts and Twitter and whatever else. And AMAZINGLY, you find a huge community of people who say YES THAT IS MY EXPERIENCE, TOO. Even better, you receive empathy from people who are in that first category, ignorant of the issue because they haven’t been directly affected by it. You’re story somehow resonated with them! Faith in humanity restored, right?

Well, no. Because along with all those positive responses from people who are so grateful to have a word to define what they’ve been going through, to have their struggle verified by your experience, there is always someone who says otherwise. You’re faking it, you’re being paid, you just want free stuff, you’re just playing the victim, nobody actually suffers like you do because I don’t. And I know because I’m a woman, too (substitute whatever social group applies here). You are gutted. This is not only a huge blow to your cause, but it makes you question your own experience. All these people just like me are calling me a liar and a fake. What if I am?

Good news! I’ll say it again. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. That means that their experience, however genuine, does not invalidate yours. And vice versa. There are 7+ billion people on this planet and whenever we speak in generalities we will fail to encapsulate the perspectives of every single individual. There are entirely too many different variables to take into account. So, when people say that they know exactly how you feel/what you’ve been through, you can take that as validation. When people say that “I’m a woman and my period isn’t that bad get over yourself,” that doesn’t invalidate YOU and your struggle.

Now you may be wondering about the flip side of this. Say you are a doctor who doesn’t believe PCOS is a serious issue. But you see all these personal accounts from people saying that it is a serious issue and you’re conflicted. Then you see some op ed by someone who agrees with you and IT’S A WOMAN so you are now validated, right? Well, no. You forgot about the research findings, where scientists and doctors did serious study and found solid medical evidence that proves PCOS is a legitimate health condition, one that should be treated with compassion and more research to discover the cause and the cure.

Science is the deciding factor here, in this case and many, many others.

The world is currently on fire. Still. There are protests all over the world right now aimed at bringing justice and reform everywhere. Millions of people are making noise right now, this very moment because one person was killed in cold blood, on video, in broad daylight. And still we are arguing amongst ourselves about the existence of systemic racism and white privilege. Despite overwhelming scientific/historical evidence to the contrary.

I am not going to apologize for my privilege. I didn’t do anything to come by it. That’s like apologizing for having blond hair. I acknowledge that while my life isn’t perfect, I benefit from a racist system that considers whiteness the default and POC the “other.” And that isn’t based on my experience. You can’t base experience on the absence of evidence. I’ve never feared for my life during a traffic stop or been pulled over because I match the description of a criminal. I’ve never dealt with people deciding that I was accepted to a school to meet a minority quota or been “jokingly” called a diversity hire. I’ve never been murdered in the street and had people say I deserved it because I was on drugs a few days ago or had a history of arrests. I’ve never been told I need to abandon the way I speak and dress in order to be accepted as a human being. I have never experienced racism. I am not overtly racist. I can still benefit from a racist system.

I didn’t come to acknowledge my privilege just because I’m a bleeding-heart liberal who wants to be congratulated for my wokeness and guilt. I became aware first through the anecdotes of BIPOC, yes, but then through the scientific research done on the subject, which goes all the way back to the early 20th century. Black people average twice the unemployment rates of whites. Blacks are killed at twice the rate (by population) by cops as white. These aren’t opinions. They’re researched facts. Black schools have significantly lower funding. Black on Black crime is not significantly greater than White on White crime. Blacks are statistically more likely to end up in prison, get pulled over and ticketed for minor traffic violations, less likely to be approved for a loan, and on and on. The statistics are staggering. And this isn’t to say that these are black problems, like they’re all criminals or welfare queens or any other stupid stereotype. No, if you take two college graduates with exactly the same degree and grades, the one with the less black name will get more job offers. Banks have been found to be statistically more willing to loan to lower class white families than middle class black families.

Most of the primary ways that BIPOC are handicapped in our society can be traced directly to Jim Crow and slavery. It will take generations to undo the damage. Again, not an opinion based on my experience. Facts.

Today, my conservative friends are sharing videos of prominent black conservatives speaking out against the martyring of George Floyd and the false narrative of white privilege, saying that he was no saint and white privilege is just a new way of saying I’m better than black people. White privilege just encourages victimhood by telling black people they’re still shackled. George Floyd was high on drugs and once held a gun on a pregnant woman. And those conservative black folks are accused of being traitors to their own race (lots of references to house slaves). I can’t speak to that because, once again, I’m white. My opinion doesn’t matter in that sense.

What they and others say is typically based on their own experiences, i.e. I’m a black man and have never had trouble getting a loan/been followed in a store/dressed like a “thug.” Which people will take as confirmation that stories from black people about the racism they experience every day, even when they have video evidence, are a false narrative. They will use the anecdotes from one black person to invalidate the experience of another and feel righteously justified in doing so. It can’t be real because THIS PERSON WHO FITS THE DEMOGRAPHIC SAYS SO. Additionally, white people will deny the existence of white privilege in the same way, i.e. I’m white and I’ve had xyz happen so where’s my privilege?

Last time hopefully pays for all. ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE. Voter suppression isn’t a problem because people are telling you how long they waited in line to vote. It’s a problem because states are systematically finding ways to legally limit voting to certain demographics, for which we have plenty of evidence from competent researchers who investigate civil rights violations for a living. Trans rights isn’t an issue because of all the heart-wrenching tales of kids rejected by their families, it’s because they are literally being murdered for existing. BLM didn’t start protesting because Michael Brown was a saint but because he was not the first black person to be killed without just cause by someone who suffered no consequences and they wanted him to be the last. And he wasn’t, unfortunately. It’s not that the lives are taken, which is bad enough, but that the barest excuse is sufficient to exonerate the perpetrator.

Unfortunately, numbers can be made to lie and even when accurate, they are hard to connect emotionally to. That is where anecdotes are vital. They provide a path to empathy, without which the cause is lost.

The important thing to learn is we need to do research and we need to listen. LISTEN TO THEIR STORIES. And before you discount the experience of another person, figure out if you are the exception to the rule or under the jurisdiction of an entirely different set of rules.

And you know what? I’m sick of hearing white people weighing in on the experiences of BIPOC, myself included. I am sick of explaining something I can’t fully understand because it is not my experience. I’m sick of trying to get it across to my white friends that IT IS NOT ABOUT US. This story, this time, this is about people who don’t get the space to speak and we are yelling over them to make it about us. Our feelings. Our experiences. Our opinions. And that’s just it. It isn’t our feelings or experiences or opinions that matter. So maybe just stop b*tching about how all this hurts/insults/bothers you. LISTEN. TO. THEM.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/my-white-friend-asked-me-to-explain-white-privilege-so-i-decide/ (From 2017, guys)

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I’m disappointed


“We’re Americans and we should do better.”

solomonsadvisor

They’re opening up stores and services. Yay! Yay?

People are going back to work! Woohoo! Um…

Who is more likely to be able to work from home and be safe? People that work on computers, people that spend time in meetings (zoom or in-person), people that can submit their work electronically, people that spend their time on the phone, No Problem!

However, there are people whose presence is absolutely required. You can’t electronically submit a hamburger. You can’t email a cow or a pig. You can’t stock shelves from home. You can’t manufacture cars from home. We have managed to get around some of the problems but people are out of work and now they have to choose between starving and exposing themselves to a deadly virus. We don’t quit pointing fingers because that’s what we do best. We blame and blame and insult and attack any people that had…

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Writing Super Heroes


I finally realized why I am drawn to writing about super heroes. Regardless of the source of powers (magic, science, radioactive sea sponges), they all have something I will never have. Power. And not, like, super strength or flight or whatever. They all have the power to make significant changes in their lives. They are in total control over their destinies because I am in total control of their destinies.

Do not interrupt me with platitudes right now. I’m not in the mood.

If there is one thing this pandemic should teach everyone is that YOU ARE NOT THE MASTER OF YOUR OWN FATE. You, in fact, have so little power over your own fate that a microscopic organism has derailed your entire life without ever touching you.

And isn’t that frustrating? To have your plans, your goals, your needs supplanted by something you maybe half think isn’t real? Half the internet right now is frantically trying to remind people that this is a PANDEMIC. It is SERIOUS. It is going to impact your life more than just canceling sports and going a bit more time without a haircut. People are sick, people are dying. This isn’t a hoax. This isn’t just some con to give the government more power over when you get to golf.

And think about everything going on that you have absolutely now power to change right now. Huge chain businesses snatching up billions in relief loans that were supposed to go to small businesses. Billionaires managing to rake in billions more while 30 million people file for unemployment and meat processing plants become plague ships. Tensions amping up between the US and China when global cooperation is a necessity. No yeast in grocery stores (I am not prepared to make a starter). Farmers dumping food they can’t distribute while millions are relying on food banks to eat. Politicians doing what they do and making this about whose fault it is. And those are the just big things.

I’m supposed to be moving this summer. My hubby is retiring and I’m all registered to start my Master’s in Creative Writing in the fall. Except, well, all his medical appts were canceled so we have to push back his retirement or risk not getting his disability percentage approved in time for those payments to kick in with his retirement pay. And yes, it’s definitely a buyer’s market for homes so we might get a sweet deal on our next place. But we still have to sell our place and there’s a limit to the diy projects we can accomplish before we need a pro to get everything up to snuff. And with the possibility of a bigger drop in pay than we were budgeting for, now we don’t have cash to spend on fixing up the house anyway. And we have it good compared to a lot of homes right now.

So I should just bite the bullet and go back to work. I’ll get an extra $2/hr in “hazard pay” bringing me up to a whopping $11.20/hr. I’ll risk bringing home a plague to my toddler and husband, but I don’t that anyway every time I go to the grocery store. Just have to multiply my risk by number of people I encounter over a 4 hour shift as well as the people my co-workers encounter since there’s no keeping 6 ft between people you work with.

Super heroes don’t have these problems. Villain shows up in their lives and they just punch him til he gives up. There’s no punching a virus. You can’t punch economic insecurity or corrupt systems or shady backroom deals. This pandemic is showing us EVERYTHING that is wrong with our system of life and we all just want to go back to the way it was. We’ll bloviate about how previous generations had it worse because they had diseases and didn’t fight them with masks and gloves and they SURVIVED (well, most of them did). They sacrificed for the war effort so we should just get back to work because I deserve a haircut and a mani/pedi. And they didn’t constantly criticize the president (yes, of course they did).

We wouldn’t have an economic crisis if we didn’t conflate money with worth. I hate that I grew up watching Star Trek. Yeah, some of it is very problematic and the lens flairs in the new movies is a bit excessive, but you never see the junior enlisted queuing up at the payday loan store on the Enterprise so they can pay their bills. Rank has its privileges, that’s for sure, but it tends to lean more toward things that actually matter. Picard doesn’t get better food from the replicators or better quality uniform and he doesn’t command his ship from the safety of his mansion on Earth. He gets more space to live on a ship where space is at a premium. That’s it.

Yes, I watched the Picard series finally. Interesting to me is when he decides to leave on his mission, his friends stay to take care of the harvest on his vineyard. Not because they will face financial ruin if they don’t. You just have to harvest grapes at a certain time. They wouldn’t starve or get kicked off the land or have to rely on welfare to stay afloat. The grapes would die and they would lose the crop. It would disrupt the planting of the next crop.

We have plenty of food and people are starving. There are plenty of empty homes and people live on the streets. We have life-saving medicines that are sold for a massive profit because if you’ll die without it, you’ll pay anything to get it. There are people working every day to keep this sham running because they don’t have a choice. They need their job. And when this is all over, we’ll go back to making snide comments about burger flippers demanding a living wage.

See, this is why I didn’t want to blog about this. I’ve deleted this post twice today because I started on a rant. I don’t want to rant. I want to write about super heroes. But all I can write about is the world ending and a big part of me thinking GOOD. Maybe if it all crashes and burns we’ll be forced to give up the old comfortable sins. Yeah, millions of people will die, but those will probably just be old people “who were going to die anyway, that’s what they do.” Stop wearing masks because it’s just “virtue signaling.” Don’t let anyone tell you when you can get a haircut or buy grass seed. You know better than the experts, of course. We should just all go out and tongue-kiss infected people. It’ll be like chicken pox parties, but with the added spice of having absolutely no idea what the long-term effects of this illness are since it is a completely new (“novel”) virus. Will I die alone on a respirator, possibly insane from sensory deprivation? Will I never regain my sense of smell? Will I spread it to someone who ends up having a permanent neurological disorder? There’s literally NO WAY TO KNOW! I mean, I could develop a minor cough and then die of a stroke! Isn’t that worth $11.20/hr?

Hoping you are all safe and well. And I hope that you’re right. I hope this is over-blown. I hope we overreacted and in a few years we’ll be laughing about the big plague scare of 2020. I hope I am wrong.

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We’re in this together?


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Grief


Grief is amazing. It is the most universal feeling in the human experience, more than love even. There are plenty of people out there who never experience love. But grief touches us all.

It doesn’t have to involve death, either. We grieve over lost friendships and missing rings, over closed restaurants and totaled cars. My kid grieves every time I leave him with the sitter, though he gets over it pretty quickly.

Sometimes it is acute. Sometimes it is all encompassing. Sometimes it is just a weight sitting in your chest like a poisonous thorn in your heart. It makes your breaths shallow, your smiles falter, your mind slip. It makes laughter brittle. Grief is a frenetic energy that tingles in your fingers because you need to do something, keep moving, keep distracted or else be sucked down into malaise and swirling, deepening sadness.

It can make us selfish, callous, angry, spiteful, and jealous. It can make us uncomfortable, glib, and shallow. It makes us change the subject, avoid eye contact, struggle for the words that don’t sound trite and meaningless. My grief is genuine. Their grief is inconvenient.

And yet, with grief can also come empathy, deep and fulsome and painful. It is cathartic and destructive. Sweet and bitter.

It hits everyone differently. There is no comparing one grief to another because it will never strike the same way twice.

I don’t remember when my Mom’s mom died because I was very young. I remember seeing Mom crying and someone said it was because she missed her Mom. I didn’t cry, though.

The next grandparent we lost was my Dad’s dad, who was sick in the summer and gone by Halloween when I was 19. That was rough. He was much loved. When Grandma died right before Christmas, I was angry at her because she hadn’t given us time to heal.

Mom’s Dad died in 2008, and thanks to dementia it was a relief. I hate writing that down, but it’s true. He wasn’t Grandpa at that point. His memorial was a while later and I said I couldn’t go because I couldn’t get leave when actually I couldn’t face Mom’s grief, so I didn’t even try. I’m sorry about that every day. I was a coward.

I have mourned for cats, like when Lucky was put down because he had feline leukemia and when Buddy found Mahler just dead, dead, dead for no reason at only 5 years old.

I mourned Carrie Fischer, crying effusively when her CGI face surprised me at the end of Rogue One. Isn’t it amazing that we can feel loss for someone we have never met? That whole year we lost cultural icons, one after another, each another blow to our hearts. We came together to share how those complete strangers had influenced our lives, how their arts had saved us or inspired us. And of course others derided our grief as stupid because actors and musicians and artists aren’t heroes. We didn’t know them. They didn’t do anything special. I bet this police officer/soldier/fire fighter won’t get as many shares as some meaningless celebrity. But that isn’t how grief works. There isn’t a hierarchy to how loss effects you, a chart that dictates how much you suffer based on importance. I’ve wept for slaughtered school children and club goers and church members, for the miscarriages of my friends, and secondary mothers of my childhood. I’ve wept for fictional people just as much as for real loss, sometimes because of real loss. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince destroyed me because the loss of my grandparents was still very new. Granny Weatherwax just amplified my feeling of loss for Terry Pratchett, her creator. You cannot argue people out of grief and you can’t compare losses like comparing prices at the grocery store. So. Don’t. Do. It.

Mom’s brother died in 2016, the first of 3 uncles we lost in a matter of weeks (hubby lost one of his uncles and a great uncle). It was only 5 weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer of the everything. So we were prepared, but only just. And when I told people they’d get all concerned or horrified. And I’d help them feel more comfortable. We weren’t very close. I’m fine. It’s really Mom who needs your concern. This was nominally true. I was fairly gutted, but more so when I thought of what she was going through. How would it feel to lose a brother? And then all my past griefs would slide in and knock around as they do. Grief is accumulative like that. It never goes away, just waits until you need it again.

I don’t know if I was grieving my uncle or the loss of a relationship we never got to have. We were so estranged from that branch of the family (not for any reason, just no real interest in keeping up relations) that we found out about his actual death from the announcement posted on the website of the college he worked for. It was just heartbreaking. And when his wife died about a year later, we weren’t invited to the memorial. Which didn’t seem strange to me at all. Just, sad.

A little while after his death I was having lunch with a friend and she told me, fighting back tears, about the loss of her dog, who had been old and sick and beloved. And when she finished she remembered that I’d just lost a human being. But it’s ok. I’m fine. We weren’t that close. And I know the pain of losing a pet. Grief isn’t a competition. The pain of someone else doesn’t diminish your own by comparison. Just the opposite sometimes.

It is fascinating how selfish I can be when I am in pain. I want everyone else to suffer with me. I want everyone to know and commiserate and to understand that I have it the worst and can’t they understand how much pain I’m in?!? But when people do show sympathy, commiserate, understand, love and hug and pray for/with us, I want them to stop. It makes me feel it more acutely because I can see in their faces the grief that they live with every day. I want everyone to know without telling them. I want to be treated gently and I want to be treated normally. I want attention and I want to be ignored. I want to be alone and I hate to be alone. I want to be held but I’m afraid of what will happen when it happens. What if I lose control? What if I never get it back?

January this year we lost Buddy’s Uncle Mike, who had been in decline for a while. I didn’t know him very well, but they were only up in Baltimore so we drove up for the memorial. Buddy Boy took some of his first steps that weekend and he got to meet a lot of his family for the first time. I missed most of his memorial service because I was in the basement of the church watching Buddy Boy zoom around in his dress suit. I’m glad. It was hard seeing the naked grief of his daughters.

And yesterday we lost Dad’s big brother, Uncle Dave. He’d been fighting leukemia for the last year or so and had a bad reaction to one of his treatments. He went into the hospital Wednesday and then he died. His daughter posted on Facebook all about it and asked for people to share their memories. I can’t think of any. I know I liked Dave. I always think of him as a warm, funny guy, kind of like a walking hug. He wasn’t one of the intimidating adults at the family reunions. He was the only person in my immediate family who served in the military, though he was in the Air Force and Navy while I (and my youngest brother) joined the Army. He wasn’t really active on social media, which is how I keep up with the family I have scattered around the country. A few comments on posts I made about Buddy Boy, a political meme here and there. It was his wife who called me while Buddy was in SKorea and who did most of the communications. And still, I’ve spent the day frantically trying to keep my hands busy so I don’t start crying. I almost lost it while driving because I realized he never met my son. I know he’d seen him on Facebook and can now look down on him from Heaven. But I don’t get to see his face when he meets my boy. And a million other things keep churning around, drawing up the pain just when I think I’ve settled it. Is Dad okay? How are my cousins and his widow? His grandkids? He only outlived his own father by 15 years. He was only in his 70s. I know he lived a full, rich, blessed life (especially if the yearly Christmas letters are to be believed). But my loss has piled on with the rest, reminding me of grandparents and uncles and heroes and strangers and my fur babies.

And that is just grief.

Please send positive thoughts and prayers to Dave’s family. He is greatly missed.

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Notes for Translating Knitting to Crochet


I was recently asked to come up with a crochet version of a knitted shawl. And thus began two weirdly stressful weeks.

Some back story: I crochet a lot. Four years ago when my hubby got stationed in South Korea, I found myself with a brand new degree in English and no job. I went from the rigors of higher education to the sheer, unadulterated boredom of unemployment. It was nice at first to rest and recoup from academic stress. But after a while I was sleeping through most of the day, draining my phone battery playing sudoku non-stop, and growing depressed from lack of enterprise and sunlight. I had a How-To-Crochet kit and vague muscle memories left from my mom teaching me the craft when I was young, and that was that. I became an avid hooker. (Crochet is French for “hook,” and it’s easier saying that than “crocheter” all the time. Plus, it shocks the ladies in my knitting groups. Or makes them snigger, depending on the group.)

Anyway, I went total immersion and in no time progresses from novice to making shirts and designing cases for my hooks. That summer, I interviewed for a job at a craft store wearing a crocheted shirt. Now I run the classes at that store and I have students clamoring for my time. It’s not glamorous, but I do enjoy getting people, ahem, hooked. I offer my teaching services at one of the local yarn shops, too. I come up with projects and make samples that they display in the store and they pay me in yarn. It’s a neat system.

Recently, several shops in the area hosted a big Event that involved doorbusters, raffles, and all sorts of neat prizes. For knitters. One shop raffled a very nice set of interchangeable knitting needles. A few gave out free knitting patterns with your purchase. The kick off party at my local store gave participants a pack of stitch markers that only work for knitters. And this isn’t the first time I’ve run across this kind of prejudice. Previous events have had similar prizes all geared toward their primary consumer base. So when they asked for suggestions for the next event, I mentioned that not everybody knits.

I get it, honestly. Most of the customers, owners and employees are exclusive knitters, with a few who dabble in both and a handful who prefer hooks to needles. And nine times out of ten, I’m the lone hooker in the knitting circle. Part of that is certainly the illusion of exclusivity to knitting groups and yarn shops in general. “Knit Night” is the short hand for most groups because alliteration is alluring. However, I stress with my students that most groups are open and accepting of all fiber artists. Yeah, it’s a little weird the first few times but that’s true of any new social encounter. Pretty soon, you’ll be teasing the knitters about how long it takes them to make a hat and how many needles they have to carry around.

Sorry, got a little off topic.

My local shop recently teamed up with a few others for a friendly competitive Knit Along. The shop with the most completed shawls from their patrons gets a donation from the losing shops to a charity of their choice. My shop provided a pattern created specifically for the event. And half a week before it started, they asked me to come up with a crochet version. Because inclusion is a thing with these people.

I said sure, no problem. I am, as they say, the dumb.

I learned a lot in the process and I think I came up with a good mock-pattern. But boy was it a pain in the ass. I mean, I could not seem to write it correctly to save my life.

The first version was the wrong shape. It’s supposed to be a triangle/crescent shape. Mine was more reminiscent of a thong. I kept sending updates to the store and the pattern testers (who were kind and patient and holy crap I have no idea how they put up with me) and almost immediately they would point out embarrassing typos. Wrong stitch counts, wrong row numbers, weird wording on instructions, it was just awful.

After working on my sample for a week I knew I had to go back to the drawing board. Which involved so. Much. Math. Just, all the Math. And trial and error, which takes sooooo much time. In the end, my “final” draft, typed frantically while my son played nursing gymnastics on my lap, still had typos and I ended up sending one more corrected version anyway.

All this happened over two weeks that saw my son having a low grade fever over Labor Day weekend, spending the rest of the week teething, and then me getting a touch of mastitis, and having to work extra shifts at work.

The shawl is done now (except for blocking) and it looks fabulous if I’m being honest. And I’m tempted to say Never Again because holy cow that was exhausting. Unfortunately, I kind of liked the challenge and will absolutely do it again because I am a show off and I want hookers to be included in shenanigans.

For the next time, I have some tips.

1. Study a finished sample and determine which stitches will best mimic the knitted version

2. Study the knitted pattern for stitch increases/decreases, stitch groupings, color changes, etc.

3. Check the gauge. Using the hook with the same millimeter sizing, create a gauge swatch and compare it to the expected knitted gauge. Adjust stitch/row counts to accomodate any variance between the knitted and crocheted gauges.

4. Take a lot of notes. Like, TONS.

That’s all all I have for now. Both patterns are available for purchase on Ravelry (links below).

https://ravel.me/moonlit-waters-knitted-version

https://ravel.me/moonlit-waters-crochet-version

(Sorry about the crappy photos, but it’s late and I’m turning it into the shop tomorrow.)

Do you have any advice for translating betwixt fiber arts? I would love to hear stories of your most stressful project. Did I ever tell you about the time I decided to crochet a giraffe-pattern hooded scarf for my niece without a pattern? It was a DOOZY.

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