Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Solace

Since my last post, the weather in Chicago has turned freakishly warm. It's only a temporary spell, says the weatherman, but for the moment we've moved from bleak midwinter to early June.

I expected my mood my elevate with the thermometer, but it hasn't. I'm stuck in the doldrums and my head isn't properly screwed on. It has been thus for an annoyingly long time–my energy keeps ebbing, and all I want to do is crawl under the bed and ignore the world.

I don't often write about feeling blue. That's a difficult state of mind to pin down with words; it almost always comes out as whining.

I hate whining, and have extremely limited patience with those who indulge.

It'd make me feel better to write about where I'm seeking comfort. Anybody care to guess?

BSJ #2

Yup.

It's a Baby Surprise Jacket. The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed, bought in Amsterdam a couple of years ago. Unlike the first jacket, this one's not going to Mongolia. I know the baby who will (I hope) wear it, although we have not yet been formally introduced.

Since I began it, this project and I have been inseparable. It's giving me exactly what my brain craves right now: a clear path with a definite ending. Cast on, knit, cast off, fold, sew. No room for uncertainty.

My life right now is a great tottering pile of uncertainty. I was coasting along in a dull little rut when suddenly things started to splinter. Possibilities have arisen involving my life, my work, and my romantic entanglements. All are distantly promising, but the promise could evaporate at any moment. And there's only so much I can do about it.

I hate, hate, hate that.

These are two things Buddhism has taught me, and that I believe:
  1. All things are impermanent and change is constant.
  2. Suffering arises from the desire to hang on to things that are impermanent or control that which cannot be controlled.
Smart cookie, that Buddha. You look at those two points, and you see a clear way out of my difficulty. Stop fretting over what I can't change anyhow. Let things run their course. Relax.

All the people reading this who know me well just had a laughing fit.

If I can't control the big things, dammit, I'll try to control the little ones. Give me two needles and yarn, and I can make one stitch after another until the thing I want is in my grasp. I'm going to knit this jacket, and keep on knitting, until the other stuff I want either shows up or doesn't. It gives me the illusion of control. And I know it's just an illusion, but sometimes illusion is enough.

62 comments:

Gretch said...

Poor guy. Totally get the uncertainty, waiting around for something to happen, wanting to control blues. Ride the stream, focus on the small things (baby surprise jackets, the little colorful slubs in the yarn, the inlays in your bought for next to nothing wheel). And open the windows - you know it ain't lasting forever. Isn't there some laughing you could do? hang tough, it won't last. Buddah says.

Christa Giles said...

I'm not a wheel-spinner, so I can't compare.. but spindle-spinning is the most incredibly soothing, thought-stilling, control-is-everything-but-you-don't-think-about-it activity I've ever encountered.... might help you gain stillness, if you're struggling?

Lovely yarn, BTW.. and splintering lives just lead to better rebuilds on the next go :)

Leigh Witchel said...

Dr. Fabulous knows what you need to feel better.

Camp from 1958!

http://scopitones.blogs.com/scopitonescom/2006/08/donna_theodore_.html

Don't you feel better now?

(See you in three weeks!)

Knitting Addict said...

Hope you're feeling more like yourself soon ;) Enjoy the warmth, even if you know it won't last, it's better that frigid -- right? We're having a pretty warm day in NY too...can't say it's helping me either -- but maybe if we try together?

Hang in there, Franklin!!

Leigh Witchel said...

Sigh.

Dr. Fabulous obviously does not know how to post a URL.

Femininity!

Let's see if that works.

Lesley Finneran said...

Hang in there, being blue is not whiney, at all. Keep knitting. Can you get any sunlight, after a long winter it could help? Have a martini with Dolores you'll be back on track before you know it. Statistically if you have a lot of possibilities or even uncertainties some will have to be pleasantly suprising....take care, Les

Cheryl said...

It gives the illusion of control. The one thing that none of us can ever achieve, control. My gramma used to say "this too shall pass", and gramma was a smart cookie too --(and swedish cookies are especially yummy)--and that means the bad passes and the good passes (and gas passes...) but I digress. Hang in there Franklin. It's good that your solace is in fiber and not in alcohol/drugs like so many fall into...I'm always here if you need someone to talk to..,,

Stitchy said...

March sucks. I'm totally with you. That bit of warm weather is in Boston, too, and it's the reason I hate March. I'm so ready not to tense every muscle in the cold air when I step outside. But this is just a tease. We'll all start to defrost and feel kind towards humanity and then -WHAM!- more cold and a giant snow storm. Yech. That's why I don't bother with humanity until at least then end of April.

And as far as looming possibilities, I hear ya' on that front, too. It's nerve-wracking, to say the very least. But in the end, something will happen. It always does. No telling what that may be, but there's always something right around the corner to keep you moving forward.

trek said...

Since a lot of the time all we can control are the little things, indule in and enjoy controlling the knitting.

Olive Knitting said...

The word (and concept of) "movement" has been helpful to me lately in times of uncertainty. It's when I'm stagnant that I'm dead. (non attachment!) All knitting is moving forward, a stitch at a time. It's totally metaphoric...In my opinion, it's not a control thing. It's a process and progress thing....of course these are just my thoughts.

Lucia said...

The trouble with religion (of any kind -- I was struck by this while rereading Screwtape yet again this morning) is that living it is to human nature as water running uphill is to gravity. Of course that's also the *point* of religion.

Nuns had the Bayeux tapestry, monks had illuminated manuscripts, we have knitting.

Btw do you know that Webs has named a sock yarn after you? It's very beautiful. I am trying hard to resist. (Actually they claim to have named it after the county where they're located, but we know better, don't we?)

Becky said...

Dah-ling. "I'm stuck in the doldrums and my head isn't properly screwed on."

About a year ago I found even the simplest task to be confusing, I was exhausted, and I was dripping with ennui. It got so hideous I actually went to a doctor, something I hate as much as whining. I turned out to be violently anemic. Tell me, do you have a craving to chew on ice? Are your gums and the inner parts of your eyelids pale as the driven snow? It's not as common for men, but it can happen ... and amongst the symptoms are exhaustion, the doldrums, mental confusion. All it takes is a little blood test. If you hate Doctors as much as I do, you can offer to give blood. If you're anemic ... they won't let you. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you are channeling a resident silkworm and you too will escape the confines of your cocoon to continue fulfilling a beautiful life mission.
Keep on the sunnyside!

Josa Craft said...

Hugs to you from Iowa...March is yucky. Keep knitting and may you find peace soon.

Janice in GA said...

#2 is something I've known about and struggled with for many, many years. Somewhere inside me I honestly believe that if I wish or hope or want something hard enough, I can change what's going on around me.

I blame early Peter Pan viewings on tv.

KellyD said...

Franklin I do understand where ou are coming from, truly. And yes sometimes I think that the only thing that can go right is my knitting. It will pass. For the moment. Holding on to the now doesn't let what might happen appear. Loosen your grip. Take a deep breath. Knit. And when you look up things will be better

Nancy said...

I can't wait to see the rakusu you knit for yourself someday!

Ruth said...

Good to see you blogging again - sorry about the ennui. Uncertainty does suck away an awful lot of energy.

Opal said...

I love those 2 teachings of Buddha and I try so hard to follow them. I think that I'm a lot like you with the need to control the big things, which is why I love my knitting so much. I think, "Ahh. Here is something I can control completely."

rita said...

Franklin, I am thinking of you and wish for you a speedy turnaround.
May be a little poetry will help.

"From Moby Dick"

For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy,but encompassed by all of the horrors of the half-lived life.

_Herman Melville

anne marie in philly said...

((((((((((hugs))))))))))

we are here for you!

can't wait to see the baby surprise jacket!

(and the new niece/nephew of course)

PS - my word is "rboye" - will the new arrival be a boy?!? only your sister knows for sure...

Carson said...

I couldn't agree more.
Knitting socks without thinking keeps my mind calm and allows me a similar semblance of control (read as 'denial') in my current world of utter uncertainty & change...it's like xanax! And much much better for you..well at least your feet get to keep warm ;)

Anonymous said...

I've recently started reading your blog, and was anxiously awaiting your next post. Your humor has helped to lift me from my doldrums.

If it helps, blame Congress for moving Daylight Savings Time up three weeks. For crying out loud, it was daylight when I went to work, now it is dark again. I was just beginning to feel a sense of hope.

Really, though, if the sun doesn't shine, look for its glorious presence in fiber.

GingerPyeJackson said...

Nothing brilliant to post, just wanted to let you know your loved. Stay Strong.

marie in florida said...

yup, last year i used baby surprise in the same way. it all got better. remember that you are loved

Lee Ann said...

Sugar, I'll see you one illusion and raise you a smooch.

sophanne said...

sock knitting = xanax - I so agree.

Let everything be as it already is.

Or pretend that you are doing that.

Or ignore it and just be.

No words really work when you want the covers over your head- this I know a little bit- you're closer to coming out from under once you know you're there.

Mel said...

Letting go for a while is the hardest thing for a Type A to do. Still, every time I've been in a similar situation (and there have been a LOT), I've always come through it a bit wiser and a bit better off in the end. Knitting has such Zen potential to it, too. Knit one stitch, knit one stitch, knit one stitch, knit one stitch....

southern gal said...

wow! i love those two things... am printing them and putting them allllllllll over the house.

remember EZ (this one is in my den where i see it every day)

Knit on with confidence thru all crises.

hang in there - one stitch at a time! and congrats on the new possibilities!

BigAlice said...

This will probably piss you off, but so will anything I say, so I can't win. You seriously need to move to warmer climate. Stuff is blooming and crap here, here being western Oregon. Even with leaden grey skies, it's not quite so depressing, although I am awful tired of rain by now. However, the green goes a long way toward reducing my cabin fever, if not my S.A.D.

If my husband K managed to escape the south suburbs, then so can you. And he had only the mental stimulation of the encroaching suburbs and cornfields.

Best of luck with all the uncertainty in your life and knitting through it all. When I'm at that point I can fuck up anything that's shaped so I stick with simple, simple scarves or non-complicated lace. I see you've been through the lace so your mileage varies.

MollyBeees said...

Hey... I thought I recognized you down here in the doldrums with me! ((Waving hello!!!)) Things have got to start looking up soon. Always do. Hang in there. I love the baby surprise jacket. I noticed that Amy D. will be teaching a class on it soon at The Sow's Ear in Verona. Maybe I'll sign up just to catch up with her again. That's always a picker upper! And hey, you'll be an uncle soon! That oughta perk you up! Consider yourself hugged!

dragon knitter said...

franklin, honey, that's not just buddha, that's life. the only thing that doesn't change is change.

this from one control freak to another. learn to let go.

Tressa in NC said...

Franklin, I'm sorry you're feeling so puny. Could it be the weather, the atmospheric uncertainty, mono, or something in the gut? Hey, you never know! Please, go to the dreaded doctor and get a little lab work done to make sure all is in tip-top condition. When I lived in Iowa (for 18 long long years), I often felt miserable from JAN-JUN because of the weather. Get better - I've just recently come to your blog and enjoy your wit and thought-provoking genius.

Elliott said...

Well, if you're not too depressed to knit something complictaed, I can attest that a shetland shawl allows for very little suffering in the brain.

If you're too depressed to kni something complicated, may I suggest anti-depressants?

badmommy said...

Thank goodness for knitting, eh? If you like, I can send some of my famous chocolate chip cookies. I find they're good for improving most any situation.

Jeanne said...

I'm in a funk, too. It's nearly impossible to motivate myself to return to my classes after spring break (and believe me, I did NOTHING of interest over break unlike my Cancun-bound classmates). This had better pass soon. Just hang in there. The only constant is change.

MonicaPDX said...

Well, I know how downright enervating the doldrums are - one reason I'm on SSD is clinical depression. But while ditto on the uncertainty, things falling apart can lead to better, definitely! For instance: my computer tanked back in mid-Feb. Now my "savings for when I move into a nursing home" are, erhm, missing a goodly chunk... which leads to more uncertainty... But my, do I have a nice new machine! Plus it finally got me off my considerable rear to sign up for broadband, which I've been planning to do for years. ;) Besides, by the time I'd need a nursing home, I may be dead already.

You gotta learn to ride the rapids, 'cause they're never predictable - no matter how well you think you know what's up ahead.

The Baby Surprise is looking really great! And note the significance of the name...

Isela: Purling Sprite said...

Enjoy the warm weather :).

Mel said...

I think you've got it absolutely right. Since you can't contol the big things, go for the little ones. They're a positive distraction (especially knitting!) from the stuff that's giving you the grumps. Then you get to have a nice little FO to be proud of.

kirsten said...

This feeling of blue will also pass. I have been grappling with it a bit myself, and even my knitting hasn't given me too much solace. This much is certain, winter will change to spring. It is just a matter of when.

Joanne said...

To quote Mel Brooks, "It's good to be king." Mindless knitting is a necessity sometimes.

Nice to see Leigh Witchell's name in your comments. I haven't seen him on any knitting list for a long time (by that could be just me not reading enough). I remember looking in San Francisco for a horse statue with a sweater. Never found it!

pacalaga said...

Well, dear, if it were EASY, everyone would be enlightened. I hope you are at least able to enjoy the weather.

to in sp said...

ahem. shall i reserve a room?

Rebecca said...

Well said. I needed to hear that bit about suffering arising from trying to control that which cannot be controlled. It may just have been the perfect time to hear it. Thnx.

Lise in NJ said...

You're not whining, sugar, you're just not happy and don't feel like pretending. Which is better for you anyway.

cherish hope, move the hands, move the body, make the jacket and keep things simple.

Deborah C. said...

I guess there's room in the doldrums for us all. Mindless knitting is excellent, how about some mindless spinning too? A really beautiful, well prepared roving, you just keep your hands and foot (feet?) moving and zen out. I love the Baby Surprise, I made one when sentenced to bed rest with my third daughter, it really helped me get through that time.

~laurie said...

Mindless is the only way to go through this stuff. Otherwise i drive myself crazy(ier)
Glad to see you write :)
It helps to see others with the same problems as me.
~laurie
knitforpeace
http://www.squidoo.com/knitforpeace

Carina said...

Have you gone to the doctor? You might have mono or something that's keeping you blue. I'm just saying . . . Personal experience tells me to get something like that checked out.

KnitNana said...

The Buddha, while right, was obviously at a much higher level than this mere mortal...I can sympathize with you, Franklin. And my "mantra" is similar to yours, but includes cut, fuse, pin, sew, as well...
Here's to both of us coming out the other side feeling more in control of ourselves, if nothing else.
(((hugs)))

Bev in TN said...

Love your colors in the Baby Surprise. I've been worried about you (silly, I guess, how I worry about the well-being of people I haven't and probably never will meet, and yet I've grown fond of you from reading your blog). It's that time of year...between seasons, it tends to suck all energy out of one. Stay strong and keep it simple until you feel better. Hugs.

Mary Lynn said...

As Cher said,

"Snap out of it."

well as if it could be that easy . . .

We have been having loverly weather in Cleveland . . . opened all the windows yesterday, slept with the window open last night (well until midnight or so). It was a lovely thing.

Then people say to me, "why don't we go outside at lunch, its just wonderful."

Yeah, bite me. I like Spring when it comes and STAYS. I hate it when it messes with my head.

I love living in a place where there are four seasons. It those half seasons in between that suck. I didn't even touch my knitting for a week and I am one row shy of being done with my entrelac scarf. Duh.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
However, it will get better. I promise. And when Spring finally arrives everything turns green and lush and smells really good.

Until then, remember your mantra and continue your knitting. It is such great therapy and, if done properly, almost as cheap.

Pamela said...

Have you tried full spectrum light bulbs? I don't mean to sound trite. I hope you feel better soon. There are a lot of people out there in internet land that wish you well.

Kathleen said...

As a mom of two with a high-paying - but significantly UNDERsatisfying job, I really hear you. This started about a year ago - I desperately ache to change my work situation but find that all people (including my darling husband) say "what, are you nuts? how will we pay for health insurance - private school - food - cable- blah blah blah". which is all well and good but sometimes, I get very very dark about it all. So just to say, I hear you. And I'm not going to tell you to buck up, I say just wallow and knit and wallow and knit and it will come to you eventually (hey, wanna move to San Francisco and start a yarn shop with me?)

Anonymous said...

Ah, makes life interesting, doesn't it?

Kristen said...

I personally think a periodic small whine is healthy. Just like periodic ranting. You whine or rant for a couple of minutes, take a nice deep breath and then get on with it. Works pretty well for me at any rate. On another note, I completely understand the whole uncertainty-makes-me-twitch thing! Hang in there!

Martha said...

I am impressed by the number of people out there who can control their knitting. Mine totally has a mind of its own.

Sharon J said...

Have you tried asking yourself WWDD?
(What would Dolores do?) Because lemme tell ya, she's become MY role model and I feel a helluva lot better, no kidding.

pen & purl said...

Hi Franklin,

Sorry to hear you're feeling blue. I hope you've found time to curl up and indulge in whatever you love doing best. It helps!

All the best,

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