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So I knit. And I think about knitting. I think about those who knit before me. The lore of knitting and the lure of knitting. It is all about how I knit in my life and what knitting means to me.

Wednesday
Feb152017

Lauren Fleshman and Me

  

 

Well, there it is.

My very own Laruen Fleshman Moment.

You see it, right?

The Pooch. Gut. Flab.

In a moment of weakness on New Year's Day, I  signed up for the IceBreaker Indoor Marathon Relay in Milwaukee {something, which, when I explained to a friend what I was doing, earned the response ‘of course you are.’}. What can I say? I’d had about three hours of sleep, not enough coffee, and definitely not enough Champaign the night before.

My team, Frozen Flock, was four ladies, two of whom I’d never met before, and one of whom I’ve known forever, my sister. We took turns running approximately 800 meter laps until we’d collectively run a marathon.

 

 

Good news! Our team qualified for Boston!

Bad news! Teams don’t qualify for Boston!

A couple of days later, one of my teammates posted the picture of me standing on the sideline, waiting for my next leg.

Just a snapshot of me. Perhaps I’d just finished my leg and was breathing hard. Perhaps it was just a regular exhalation.

I know it is stupid. I mean, my body does all kinds of things that are pretty spectacular. Hello? I’ve birthed three children. One while I was standing up. And one particularly sassy one had to be ripped out of me when (s)he flipped into the breach position while I was in labor and her foot was dangling out of me. That was fun.

And I don’t know if you know this, but I have run a marathon. On my very own two legs.

26.2 Miles. At once. Like, without stopping. Except for those ten minutes when I had to stop because my face hit the pavement and my knees were all bleedy and I needed a Band-Aid. Minor detail.   

So why can’t I let go of that pooch taken at a most inopportune time? And why does it even matter what my stomach looks like? Why can’t I just celebrate what my body can do without hating on it?

I know I’m not alone. Lauren Fleshman had the same moment when she saw an image of her body with a pooch. She was three months post-partum.

So, no. It really isn’t okay. It isn’t okay for me to hate a part of my body, or wish some other part were smaller or more firm, or more defined.

And to quote my soul sister, Lauren “What the hell is wrong with us? We have this one body we are born with, live inside of, and move through in this world. Why aren’t we walking around naked, like ‘Booyah! Look what this body can do, bitches!’” 

 

Friday
Jul082016

Dark Son

My heart is sad. It aches. It grieves. And it is angry. And confused.

I have three children whom I birthed. Two were born with blue eyes and blond hair and light skin. One was born with brown eyes and brown hair and very brown skin. Two of my children are white. The other one, he is my Dark Son. 

He is not white. 

When he was a tiny baby, I just thought Dark Son was dark. He has the skin tone that white people risk skin cancer to achieve by baking themselves in the sun on summer days. Once, when Dark Son was a few months old, he accompanied me and his Older Brother to Older Brother’s art class. As the parents were hanging out, chatting, and generally ignoring our children, a dad, who accompanied his wife and daughter for the first time, looked at me holding Dark Son, looked at Older Brother, looked back at Dark Son, and with a quizzical look on his face said “do your sons have the same father?”

His wife was mortified. I mean, I think I saw her die a little bit right there, of both embarrassment and shame. She admonished her husband greatly and apologized to me. I sat there holding Dark Son and felt sorry for that poor man who obviously did not understand that some things are Thought Bubbles: We don’t say those things out loud.

 I did not respond. I just looked at him. And then I dismissed him and his stupid Thought Bubble words.

But the comments kept coming. The Thought Bubbles kept being said out loud.

The school crossing guard stared at me as I walked Older Brother to school with Dark Son in the stroller and Little Bit in the Baby Bjorn. When the Crossing Guard could apparently no longer control her thoughts and confusion and Thought Bubbles, this actual conversation transpired:

Crossing Guard: Are all those kids yours?

Me: Yes.

Crossing Guard: Even the little dark one?

Me: Even the little Dark One.

When Dark Son was in kindergarten, the US was taking the census, so naturally his school conducted their own census. Dark Son came home confused and kept asking me what he was. I, having no idea what transpired at school, could not figure out what he meant. I’m sure I just responded “I don’t know! What are you?” like it was some sort of game and he had something funny to say.

Finally, Older Brother, frustrated at my total lack of understanding and general idiocy, said “he means is he Caucasian?”

I was stumped. I mean, he isn’t white. People do not think he is white. He is Dark.

I finally stammered that he was Mediterranean. It was the best I could do at that moment.

And on and on and on it went.

And on and on and on it goes.

Perhaps you recall my road trip last summer?

Thirty two days. Six thousand five hundred miles. Fourteen states.

In place after place after place, I was asked, usually in the politest of ways, if Dark Son was mine. Some people were very creative: 

Wow! So… You’re travelling across the country… By yourself with… your? … three? … kids?

Sometimes they were embarrassed to ask the question of me, so they directed it to the kids:

So, Older Brother, is Dark Son your brother… or is he a friend you’re travelling with? 

Clever, right?

So here I am. A white mother. With a not white son. It feels ridiculous to even say.

Some people I know say “oh, I don’t think of him as not white. To me, he looks white.” Yes, to you he does, but only because you know him in the context of me, and Older Brother, and Little Bit. And you see his father, who is also Dark {who is also often mistaken for someone who is not white}.

Last summer, when we returned home, I knew I was going to have to start preparing my Dark Son to exist in this white world. It started with a simple conversation, when he made a joke that, unbeknownst to him, contained a racial undertone. It was a joke about soccer and Mexico, and he certainly did not understand it to be racial in any way. He simply played soccer with lots and lots of Hispanic children.  

After talking about the joke for a little while and what it could mean or how others might hear it, I said:

-- Dark Son, you are Dark. Do you know what that means?

-- It means I have Dark skin.

-- Look at Older Brother. What do you see?

-- What do you mean?

-- Older Brother has blue eyes and light hair and light skin. If you and Older Brother were both doing exactly the same thing that was a little bit naughty or against the rules, like speeding in exactly the same type of car, going the exact same number of miles over the speed limit, who do you think is more likely to get in trouble?

 -- Me?

-- Yes, you. Because when the police pull up to Older Brother’s car, they will see a teenager out for a joy ride. But when they pull up to your car, they will see the color of you before they know anything else about you. They see a kid who might be up to no good, just because you are Dark.  

-- Okay?

-- So that means that you have to be even more careful than Older Brother because you are more likely than him to get in trouble.

And so we have little conversations like this every now and again. And I feel silly. But also I feel pain. It is a weak pain compared to that of an African American Mother with her own Dark Son. It is a weak pain because I know my whiteness protects my Dark Son. My whiteness keeps Dark Son safe while he is with me. No cop will bother him and his long, gangly stride, as he parades down the street as long as he is with me. Or maybe they will, but my whiteness will allow me to say to the policeman ‘This is my Dark Son. He is okay. He is with me.’ And they will let him go.

But then today, when we were in the car, driving back from Hyde Park, I was listening to the news on the radio. Dark Son was annoyed with this. He wanted to listen to music and he asked me ‘why do we have to listen to this?’ And I said ‘because I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what else to do. I have to listen. You need to listen. It is important.’

His protestations continued until finally, this conversation:

--Dark Son, do you know that African American Mothers must tell their Sons how to behave in this world in a way that you and I can hardly even imagine. They must tell their Sons that when they get pulled over by a police officer, they need to raise their hands in the air so the police can see that they are not holding a weapon.

{Dark Son silently stared at me as I tried to control my tears}

--Dark Son, do you remember when that man at the pool last summer asked Older Brother if you were his brother or a family friend?

--Yes.

-- Why do you think he was asking that question?

--Because I am Dark.

--Yes. Because you are Dark. People do not know if you are white or not. People try to put other people into categories because it makes them feel safer. But you don’t fit into a category. So I don’t know if I am supposed to tell you to raise your hands up in the air when you get pulled over by a police officer. I do not know what to tell you to do to stay safe.

And this is my pain. I don’t think for one millisecond that it comes close to the pain of the African American Community. Of African American Mothers. Of African American Boys and Men.

My pain is a shallow pain. My pain is a luxury that I can forget about or choose not to think about. For now. It will never be all encompassing for me the way it is for African American Mothers. My son will never know the pain of African American Boys and Men.

My pain is miniscule compared to what others must endure. At times, I wonder if it is even real. And I know that African Americans need not wonder at all about the reality of their pain.

I cannot imagine. I simply cannot imagine living with that pain every second of every day on every street I walk down. Wondering if this is the encounter with whiteness that is going to make my life change in unfathomable ways.

I do not know where to go from here. I do not know what to do, other than to respond with kindness and love. I do not know what to say other than to share my experience, which is a tiny thing.

But things must change. Our world must change. We cannot continue to destroy lives because of anger, or hatred, or rage, or fear. These are Human Beings. Lives. People.

A Brother. A Husband. A Father. A Dark Son. 

Sunday
Jul122015

Quietly Training. Loudly Complaining.

 

 

I have not been a good blogger as of late. I'm sure this is ultra shocking to the one of you that religiously follow my blog. What can I say, I like to keep it a low pressure situation. You know, not add one.more.thing to your massive to-do list.

You're welcome.

It isn't that I haven't been knitting. I have. Quite prolifically. I finished a couple of projects that were sitting in bags awaiting about half an hour of attention. I made some Christmas presents for My Strange Brood. I even looked that Sweater Curse straight in the eye and said, "meh, I'll knit him a scarf," which seems to be tempting fate a teensy bit, doesn't it? Knock on wood, we're still together, though I think at times he wanted to strangle me with the scarf. And vise versa, baby, vice versa.

And how could we forget my attempt at trying to list forty things that made me smile, laugh or for which I was grateful, every Friday, for a year? 

So why break the silence now, you ask? 

Well, it's to make a confession. So here goes.

I have been training for the Chicago Marathon. 

Quiet down out there. I can hear you rolling your eyes and saying, "so how is this different than the other times she 'trained' for the Chicago Marathon?"

Well, for starters, this time I am actually training for The Marathon. Like running and everything. Almost pretty faithfully, just like the training plan instructs me to do. Even when I don't feel like running and the humidity is 6200%. Mostly. 

So far I have logged 97.48 training miles, and here is what I have learned so far:

  1. Marathon training is not super fun;
  2. Marathon training is hard;
  3. I am not sure how the hell I am going to actually run the marathon because
  4. The marathon is a really, really, really long distance.

Don't worry, I'm not going to be one of those people that bores you with details about all the miles I run. At least not yet. I'm sure once I start running 17 and 18 miles at a stretch you'll want to hear about every single detail of every single mile. Including how the bathrooms on the lake front path don't open until at least 7 AM and some people (I'm not naming any names or pointing any fingers at myself) just relieve themselves right there on the beach in front of God and everyone, which is why I'm never, ever, ever going to Montrose Beach ever. But well hydrated runners gotta go.

And here is what I like about training for the marathon so far:

  1. I have a Post-It Note in my running log of the week's runs that I cross off after I have completed the run;
  2. After crossing off the run on the list in my running log, I then write down in my log the time it took me to run every single half mile of my run (even though this information is also recorded on the interwebs via garminconnect.com) along with my overall time and pace which then gets added to my yearly overall distance, time, and pace;
  3. I have a huge running wall calendar upon which I place a giant star on every day that I have run;
  4. Also upon my huge running wall calendar I have colored in green all the days I am supposed to run and it feels really good to see those green days dwindling;
  5. I have developed a morbid interest in my toenails and trying to predict which ones will blacken and fall off (detailed updates to follow)!

What can I say, I like crossing things off of lists. 

Anyhow, I'm super well on my way to toeing the line at the 2015 Chicago Marathon. Only 13 weeks until R(un)-Day. 

I have no actual goals that I am willing to publicly share at this time, other than to cross both the start and finish lines. I am organizing a posse of people to cheer me on along the route. I am trying to decide if Running Man will run the last 24 miles with me. And I am trying to decide if I want to be overcome with emotion at mile 14 or 16, crying the entire time because I AM SO AWESOME because I AM THE FIRST WOMAN TO EVER TRAIN FOR AND RUN A MARATHON, despite what you may have heard about Katherine Switzer and Joan Benoit Samulson.

That is my giant confession. I am not sure why I felt the need to share it with the whole wide world, especially as I am about to head to the mountains of Yellowstone and Crater Lake for a wee bit to enjoy Mother Nature and practice running hills, which is basically exactly what the Chicago Marathon is all about. 

I may promise to keep you updated on my running from time to time. But I definitely wouldn't count on it. Life is just so unpredictable these days. So I will definitely say check back frequently and you will most likely be disappointed. Check back infrequently and there is the possibility that you may read something new(ish).

So, Run Along Now.

 

Thursday
Jun252015

Growing Away

 

How did this happen? You are thirteen now. Sweet Little Boy-Man-Child of Mine. 

One month ago, I was with my Knitting Tangle and I said, "In a month I am going to have a teenager." This proclamation was immediately followed by my uncontrollable laughter. The notion of me having a teenager is absolutely absurd.

And yet, here we are.

Here you are.

My heart is breaking. My heart is absolutely breaking. Yet it is full of love and wonder for you as you wander through life, figuring out who you are and where you are going.

Memories blindside me, leaving me crushed by their fleeting beauty. A moment forever gone. 

The time when you were 16 months old, and I was hugely pregnant with your brother. You emptied two full containers of Q-tips onto the bathroom floor and I, in exhausted frustration, yelled for you to go to your room. I immediately apologized for yelling, and as you made your way to your room, without looking up, you raised up your chubby little hand for me to hold. With no words, you melted my heart and I pretended that you forgave me for not seeing the sheer joy in Q-tips scattered all over the bathroom. 

When you were four, we were walking home from school -- you running ahead of me. I am certain I was shouting for you to wait for me -- not get too far ahead. In a moment of pure magic, you reached into your pocket, pulled out a handful of helicopter seed pods, and threw then into the air. They rained down on me like so many kisses, as I tried to soak in the mystery of you. 

 

I remember with so much pain, the day your father and I told you we were getting divorced. You were seven. I tried to be strong. To not cry. As you sat with your brother and sister on the couch hearing the words which could not have made sense, you simply looked at me and said, "It happened to Joey in my class, too." 

When we were in Utah at Arches National Park you scrambled up the red rocks with great abandon. Every time I looked for you, you were further away and higher up. You screamed down to me "Don't worry, mom! I'm not going to do more than what my skill level is comfortable with!" And out of nowhere, you flashed the 'hang loose' sign. 

I remember the many hikes we have been on. While your brother and sister ran ahead, you stayed back, and walked slowly with me. Sometimes holding my hand. I have watched you notice things the way I notice things. I have seen you seeing the tiny, spectacular things others miss because they are trying to get to the end. For you, it is the journey. 

It always has been.

I see you, and have always seen you. You are different in the deepest, most spectacular way. 

So many times I asked you to stop growing up. It is happening anyway. Despite all my wishes that you stay small enough to curl up on my lap, you have your own plans. You just keep growing. 

Already your feet are bigger than mine. You outgrew a pair of shoes so quickly they showed no wear and I claimed them for my own.

Already the top of your head comes up to my nose. I can no longer kiss the top of your head unless I stand on my tiptoes.

Already your hands are starting to look like the hands of a man. 

On the day you were born, I whispered into your ear that you filled up my heart. I have said it to you hundreds of times. And it is so true. My heart is absolutely filled with you. 

So go. Be a teenager. 

Take the rocky path, not the paved one -- that one is boring and it was never your style anyway. Go ahead. Cause me angst and turmoil. Tell me you hate me. Tell me you can't wait to get out of here and be on your own. Do all the stupid things that Sweet Little Boy-Men-Children do on the way to becoming Sweet Grown Men-Boy-Children (because I'm pretty sure no man has ever actually grown all the way up).

Don't go further than your skill level is comfortable with.

Except always go further than what your skill level is comfortable with. 

Hang loose. 

 

Saturday
Nov222014

A Little Pretty

 

 

Something happened a few weeks back. An obsession of sorts.

It started with a quiet Saturday I had all to myself. Freed from the demands of school, the quiet offered possibilities I haven't known for quite some time.

I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to pass the time. But, not wanting to waste it, I fumbled through my yarn bucket(s) in search of something. Something easy. Something mindless. Something I could finish in the space of my free time.

I found a single skein of the most beautiful creamy orange cotton I purchased on a trip to Arizona. When I purchased it, forever ago, the color reminded me of the rocks I hiked and the sun as it set over those rocks. That trip now haunts me for the stupid decisions I made. {Remind me to not ever make life altering decisions under the influence of bright blue skies, fresh air, and spectacular scenery. Clearly I cannot be trusted to trust myself.}

I digress.

This yarn, with all its tangled memories, is beautiful, yet full of negative, sad emotions, along with a healthy dose of irritation. I've held onto it, not wanting to get rid of it, but also not really knowing how to have it in my life.

Plus, it's just one lonely little skein. Hardly enough to make anything.

I figured I had enough to make a dishcloth. And with all those bad memories wound up in the yarn, who cares if it got stained and smutty? Yes. That would be an exactly fitting use for the yarn.

Within an hour, I had my dishcloth. And truth be told, I fell in love with that yarn, and I still had the whole day ahead of me. Finishing the dishcloth was ridiculously satisfying, so I (re)scoured my yarn bin(s) for more cotton for which I didn't have plans.

I found three skeins of organic ecru; two skeins of pink {remnants of a sweet sweater vest I made Little Bit a lifetime ago}; three skeins of blue I bought for reasons unknown. BONUS: I unwound the most hideous skirt in.the.world {I cannot begin to know what I was thinking when I my spent actual time knitting it}.

With all that yarn, I went on a get-outta-my-way-ain't-stopping-until-all-the-yarn-is-gone-and-dishcloths-are-stuffed-into-every-drawer-and-cabinet knitting spree. 

I knit until I got the dishcloths out of my system. 

They are beautiful and squishy and so lovely. And they make all the yuk of dishes and spills and daily life so much better. And pretty.

I deserve a little pretty.