Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Zen Interlude: Spring Awakening

It's terribly unfair.

Chicago, like most of the United States, is experiencing wintry weather that has no business showing up in mid-April. Mind you, I know better than to expect a balmy, shirtsleeves spring beside the Lake. But I do look forward with desperate longing to the arrival of the daffodils every year. Once they bloom, I feel a certain sense of accomplishment in having survived yet another nasty go-around on the Hivernal Carousel.

This year, they bloomed, and then got sucker-punched by snow squalls and freezing temperatures. The bed of daffodils I pass every morning on the way to the office is blackened and shriveled, and I don't feel so well myself.

On the other hand, the other spring arrival–baseball fans–is right on time.

I've nothing against professional baseball. Truly. In general I regard it as most Americans do the opera season, which is to say not at all. Because the transit line I ride services both ballparks in Chicago, however, I do have to deal with baseball fans. Especially Cubs fans.

And yesterday was the home opener.

Illinois is supposedly a blue state, but I've noticed that North Shore (i.e, white and affluent) parents who bring their offspring into the city for Cubs games turn a violent shade of tomato red.

I've tried to understand why this is so. I've concluded that it's because they see a trip to Wrigley Field as a to connect their children with their own past, in those halcyon days when America led the free world, gasoline was cheaper than milk, and Certain People had to sit in the back of the bus.

As the train heads south and Addison Station looms, the parents become so emotional that some actually produce handkerchiefs to deal with the tears. "We're almost there," they gasp, choking on rising nostalgia. "Can you watch for the stadium, Caitlyn? Do you see it coming up?"

I'd be the last person to have a problem with this except that in the midst of a crowded commute, the parents get pushy about art directing the experience and become visibly (and sometimes audibly) annoyed at any extras (that would be the rest of us) who don't fit the motherhood-flag-apple pie aesthetic they're after. For example:
  • Passengers occupying window seats, including the elderly. (I once saw an able-bodied man unblushingly ask an old woman if she could give her seat to his five-year-old daughter so she would have an unobstructed view of the Wrigley Field sign.)

  • Persons of African, Latin or Middle Eastern descent.

  • Persons speaking languages other than English.

  • Persons whose appearance deviates in any way from the white, suburban, middle class idea of "normal," i.e. goths, punks, transvestites, homeless people.

  • Males of any stripe who are knitting lace.
During yesterday's commute, I of course fell into at least two of these categories. Possibly three, depending upon how you feel about earrings on men.

This was a source of enormous consternation to a father whose daughter–she was perhaps six–was interested in the progress of the christening shawl.

I didn't notice the family of three–Dad, daughter, son–at first because I was, well, knitting lace. But the daughter kept getting up from her seat and leaning toward my needles. After she'd done this three times I glanced up and gave her a smile.

She smiled back. And then her father yanked her away and pushed her firmly into her seat.

But she got up again, and came over, and this time asked if the design had flowers in it. I was about to explain that the shapes were fir cones when her father yelled, "Halley! Get back here now."

I honestly thought he was concerned that she might be bothering me, so I smiled and said, "It's okay, I don't mind questions."

To which he replied, "You leave my kid alone!"

And then, not directly to me, but just as audibly, "Goddamned freaks."

Rude? Oh yes. But this is not supposed to be another man-knits-in-public-and-attracts-idiocy story. Those are too common to be interesting in and of themselves.

This is a reminder to myself that my own brain's not so different from his.

I may not be inclined to tell a stranger on the subway she's a freak, but it doesn't mean I don't think it. I do it all the time. In fact, I did it at the beginning of this entry, no?

I look, I categorize, I judge. And just as I believe that man got me wrong in believing me to be a threat to his child, I'm certain I often misjudge others.

One of the aspects of elusive Enlightenment I'm pursuing through Zen Buddhism is (I hear) a genuine understanding that between yourself and myself, there is no difference. If I didn't believe that to be so, I'd probably give up sitting zazen. But even though I believe it, I haven't grasped it sufficiently to act upon it.

Hmph. Back to the damn cushion.

Tomorrow: actual knitting. (I know! I can hardly believe it, either!)

100 comments:

Sue said...

I often lurk here but I feel I must comment. This made me very sad on so many counts. There is the daughter who is being brought up to view some who dare to do what they love as a danger and on and on. There is more importantly someone as kind and loving as you being looked at with disdain. Keep doing what you do, Franklin I believe you are here to educate so many others. Thanks for your gift of just being you.

Jackie said...

Another lurker. My hope is that his little girl does "get it" and will see that we're all the same.

Miss T said...

I hope she fixed him and spent the entire ballgame ruthlessly begging for yarn and needles.

becky c. said...

Aha! I get it. I was all ready to jump in and join the bashing of the idiot dad, when you threw in the zinger at the end. Note to self: judge not, foolish knitter, lest thou be judged.

rach said...

I just started reading your blog, and I enjoy it very much. Your appearances in this story made me hopeful, and the father made me sad, but not surprised. The midwest has it's own brand of crazies, huh? I liked it that you could see yourself in him, even if it wasn't something particularly charming. Better to recognize it and deal with it than it is to pretend it doesn't exist.

Sonya said...

We all judge. I don't know for myself how I could avoid it. But I have the good graces or common sense to keep it to myself. I'm sorry your lace knitting commute was marred by this man who I have, in fact, judged.

Beth said...

Stories like this make me want to vomit.

the nausea, like yours, is then followed with that nagging knowledge that judgement and anger, even "righteous indignation" feed the whole awful thing.

On another note...may I just say I'm in awe - - you knit lace on the bus?! I have to knit lace alone, in a quiet room and the boy knows that to talk to me mid-row will reveal a not-so pretty side of his fiancee and it's better not to go there.

Sharon J said...

Hmmm...brain food. Looking around, I see Her Flaming Liberalness has also gone down the slippery slope. Mea culpa. (Sheesh, you couldn't have done this during Lent when I was supposed to be examining and repenting? Now there's all this chocolate...)

Laurel said...

Like Becky, I was totally ready to smack down the dad. To be perfectly honest, I still am. I admire your understanding, I try for that, but I am woefully unable (still think that a little knitting needle/throwing star action would have been awesome). But, on a happier note, I am looking forward to seeing this shawl.

lizbon said...

If I may play devil's advocate for a moment. Are you really judging this man because he is different from you, or simply angry at him for being rude to you? Because I think you have a right to be angry, Buddhism or no Buddhism.

Yes, you are describing people you've noticed, and you're not happy with their behavior, but I'm not sure that that's the same as judging them, because you are observing and reacting to their behavior, not making assumptions about them based on their appearance, heritage, sexual preference, religious affiliation, etc.

AuntieAnn said...

Lizbon, I have to say Franklin's right -- he has categorized people based on superficial factors, such as that they are from the north shore burbs. My dad grew up there and is as liberal as they come. I grew up in the equivalent part of the Milwaukee metro area, and I'm pretty darn liberal. Of course, maybe it's different now, I have lived in California for a number of years, but those were pretty conservative areas, and yet to categorize people from those areas as "all" conservative is of course erroneous. Kudos to Franklin for recognizing this tendency to categorize in himself as well as others. And, Franklin? I'm sorry that guy was rude to you.

Nissa said...

I am, quite frankly, astounded that any father would be stupid enough to think that a six-year-old (of either gender) would be able to sit through an actual baseball game, even at Wrigley. My own North Shore dad didn't try it with me until I was... probably about thirteen, and we left after the seventh inning. Of course, it might have had something to do with Dad's preference for the Sox. I hope that little girl has the guts to to one day stand up against her father's expectations and pursue what she's actually interested in, whatever it may be.

Bobbi said...

Franklin- you mentioned possibly fitting in three categories...were you "speaking in tongues" again!?!

Marcy said...

Franklin, I love you! I wandered over to your blog from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's, and now you're on my blogroll. I'm contemplating my first Dolores purchase (can I get that "don't call me baby" shirt in an adult size? I didn't see it), and just relishing your tales of Chicago; I grew up in the 'burbs there but I love the city and reading your blog is almost as good as being there. You've almost inspired me to try knitting lace . . .

Marcy

LaurieM said...

We make judgments as a short cut towards seeing people for who they really are.

I'll bet you anything, that little girl grows up to defy her father's narrow view of the world.

Angie said...

Boy, I'm with you, I try not to judge, but in the end, I do. I can't imagine being so rude about it and I tend to think that knitting is "normal" and the other ballgame activities (drinking and the like) are decidedly not normal, I'd rather shield my 6 year old from that than a knitter and the drunks are far more common.

the fiddlin' fool said...

Why is it that you end up getting all bad male knitting Chicago L karma? I knit every day on the L, and I generally get no comments at all. Those that I get are almost always quite supportive and appreciative. (The one negative comment was from a homeless guy that was miffed I didn't give him money.)

Maybe Green Line riders are much more "live and let live" than Red Line riders, as a whole. Hmm... or maybe I'm prejudging Red Line riders?

Carrie K said...

Ah, I love that you see that you also judge! We all do. In fact, we all have to, to a certain extent. It's the ability to judge and then discern that's important.

Knitting lace on a TRAIN? A train? Public transit? Good God. I knit lace in absolute silence. I've been known to scream at a CSI episode for babbling numbers at an inopportune time.

Wendy said...

Some people are just jerks. It's part of accepting people for who they are. I work with quite a few of those folks. Nod and go on ... accept. Judge not.

Way to keep things in perspective, Franklin. Can't wait to see that lace!

VickeryKnits said...

What a jerk!

Kristen said...

You are a most worthy model for a small child. I hope she remembers that "freak" on the train and your kindness. It will serve her well in later life.

Karen S said...

Ahh, I've yet to attempt my first lace-knitting in public transport (a safe bet would be, that it happens tomorrow), so I can't comment on what might happen... but sock-knitting in postgraduate lectures in econometrics usually wins me a couple of either lifted eyebrows or acceptance nods (mostly because Economics in Copenhagen is fircely proud of it's variety of strange people... I'm actually surprised, that I'm the only knitter there)...

I'm sooooo looking forward to seing the lace revealed in all it's glory.

Best knitting
Karen

PS: have you considered, that the father actually might be boiling with envy? You made him loose face, since he probably doesn't know the difference between knit and purl (hereby avoiding the entirely facinating subject of lace).

Mel said...

Awww, you should've blown him a kiss. Sounds like he needed a friend, the big freak.

Lynn said...

I fear I must join you, metaphorically speaking, on your cushion. I would like to be able to embrace the diversity and whimsical vagaries of weather here in New England, but the forecast for heavy snow this coming Thursday - snow so heavy the weather forecasters daren't even guess at the total accumulation - has got me so totally pissed off that I expect to be sent back several lifetimes, karmically speaking. So to speak. Whatever. Damned snow.

shyknitter said...

I am not sure which one is worse, this father's paranoid reaction to a male knitter, or being asked politely if you learned to knit in jail. It certainly takes all kinds, kudos to you for taking it all in stride.

Mary Lynn said...

don't worry about it . . . you know that his daughter will have spent the entire game asking him when they could go to the American Girl store. For lunch.

I work in downtown Cleveland. I take public transportation. Because I find it so incredibly aggravating, I avoid the baseball crowd (and actually most sports crowds) with a passion. I check the game schedules so that I can schedule my departures appropriately.

And then there was the time that my hubby had a meeting after school. So he picked me up and then dropped off our kindergartner and myself at the bus stop. It was a stop before the usual stop since I wanted to not have to fight the crowds. We sat in the first seat so that Zachariah could look out the window and stay quiet. One of the women who got on the bus (and always situates herself to be the first one on)asked us to move because we were sitting in "her" seat. I laughed -- out loud.

You are a better person than I. I would have laughed or started whispering "American Girl, American Girl, American Girl."

Ramona said...

My husband flies from New Mexico to Chicago every year just to watch the Cubs play. I actually went with him to the game the first year we were married, now I just go shopping. However, if he had met you on the train with our 2 yr. old daughter, he probably would have wiggled in next to you and started talking/complaining nonstop about "how all his wife does is knit". He would have been so busy talking he would have never realized that you were being kept VERY busy trying to keep the "I need to touch everything" 2 yr old from destroying your knitting. The guy you met just sounds like a jerk but really it could have been so much worse.

AlisonH said...

For me, part of my angry reaction at him was in the example he was setting for his daughter. How dare he threaten to raise his sweet kid into being like him. But your example, of simple human warmth towards them both, even when he was already simmering, was so much better than his that I think Nissa's right, some day she'll stand up to him when he's acting like that. She'll remember that day and how you smiled and tried to share. You probably made a far huger difference to her for the longterm than you had any idea.

Kathy Merrick said...

Too bad those jerkfaces are simply everywhere, not just on Chicago trains.

Me, I could love you forever for writing:

"I feel a certain sense of accomplishment in having survived yet another nasty go-around on the Hivernal Carousel."

Yeah, baby.

Bridget said...

I admire your ability to remind yourself that we all judge others, whether we mean to or not. I know I sure do, and when I realize it myself, it makes me feel like I've failed somehow ...

Last week I was walking to work, and ended up behind a man walking his two children to school, who I see a few times a week. He was speaking to his son, and the daughter (probably around 5 years old), said hello to me, and I responded hello back. Then she immediately said to her father, "Daddy, I said hi to a stranger, and they said hi back."

To his credit, he said to her, "Well, it sounds like they must have been a nice stranger." Which was a relief, since I was expecting him to turn around and accuse me of something! (Which one of us made the wrong judgment there? Sigh.)

Helena Handbasket said...

Makes me wonder (unrealistically optimist and unsafe as it might have been to do so) what would have occurred if you'd said, "I'll be happy to move over there by you and that way your daughter can still watch the knitting and be safe with you, Dad." And then not waited for a response but just moved and gone right on with your beautiful lace and talking about the yarn you're using and where it comes from and that you are making it for your neicephew, etc., etc., ad infinitum. (Just don't mention that you learned to knit in prison -- snort, chuckle, guffaw.)

Tove said...

Yet another lurker. You are much more gracious than I would have been and I admire your perspective. I would have said to the daughter: "Don't worry honey, I'm sure he doesn't really think you're a freak". Or at least that's what I would have said under my breath...

It's really nice the way crafting attracts the attention of children, isn't it? I once had a four-year-old practically on my lap on the train ride home when I did some bead crochet. Her mom asked several times if it was ok, and added, somewhat apologetically "She's not exactly shy...". :)

Cynthia said...

I used to live at Sheridan and Irving Park -- boy does your description of Cubs fans bring back memories!

I knit a christening shawl on the L while commuting between Sheridan and 47th street in 1988 -- Rose Trellis Lace, Walker book one. I loved watching the faces in the train change as I moved from the near north side to the Loop down to the south side.

And you notice it's almost always kids who watch you when you're knitting in public. They haven't learned yet that "not noticing" is the most important thing to do in public. Knit on!

Tomme said...

I applaud you, Franklin, for not only showing admirable restraint but even finding a kernel of wisdom in the experience. I'm afraid I would have told the guy where he could stick my knitting needles.

David said...

You are a better man than I am. There would so have been a confrontation if it were me.

In my opinion, you can categorize in your head all your want. If it slips out of your mouth, however, you've crossed a line.

When's that last time you verbally called someone a freak, Franklin? I thought not.

Ann (yet another) said...

See, obviously your subway system is safer than average, because around here, no one would say "Damn Freaks" out loud for fear said freak would take out a machete and go at them.

So, clearly knitting needles weren't threatening enough. Hmmm, were you wearing your leather jacket? Perhaps you need to cultivate a more aggressive knitting stance. No, that would get you more of the "did you learn to knit in jail?" crowd.

I actually knit at ball games, and so do many others in the fair city of Baltimore or at the farm clubs. Of course, the Orioles stink, so it gives you more time to knit. I wouldn't try lace on a train or at a game though. A baseball game is approximately the same amount of time as a fairly plain hat, so you can do double duty.

But, if you want a koan to ponder the proper response to that Dad might well be a good one.
Does one go the peaceful resistance route, or active correction? What is the sound of one knitter responding to being insulted?

Lynn in Tucson said...

Not entirely germaine, but I think you'll enjoy this:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

Carson said...

Astutely observed.
You tell a sad story well.
Like other commenters, I admire your ability to pull back to the wide shot so philosophically.

Ryan said...

I just...I don't...but how...
why did...how could...where did...oh, I feel ill.

gail said...

Thanks for the glimpses you give me of the Zen path. Sometimes I can follow you a short way.

That little girl...she already knows something about knitting, or she wouldn't have been asking about flowers - or was she just very observant? Anyway, she reached out and you met her halfway. She won't forget.

Liz said...

I think you should have said "It's ok I learned to knit in prison." Hahaha.

I judge people all the time. I'm not proud of it, but certain judgments (threat/not a threat) are essential to a woman walking around a big city alone. I just try to remember that none of my judgments are all that accurate. I still don't know that I'd make a very good Buddhist, though ;-)

Mary Peed said...

I don't know that Buddha thought that there were no differences between people. I'm often slapped upside the head with the infinite variety of PEOPLE that I encounter, just working at a university. I think that Buddhism is about respecting that variety and not judging it as 'better' or 'worse' just 'is'.

Radcliffe Womyn said...

Franklin, I am so sorry that this happened to you. I also appreciate your good character and awareness. You reminded me of all the judgments I make every day--like yours, not articulated, but no less present.

Michelle said...

Your self-awareness is worth something. None of us is perfect.

I'm reminded of the time I said to a friend "I hate people who are critical of others." Of course I immediately burst into laughter when I realized how that sounded.

And add me to the list of people who are in awe that you knit lace on the train. I will only knit simple things on the train...even socks are risky because I might lose a DPN!

Mary said...

You know what, I think I'm delurking too. But i just wanted to say thanks for NOT posting this as another "people are so rude" story. While it is nice to commiserate about your mistreatment every once in a while, it's nice to hear someone turning the lens of scrutiny back onto themselves in a situation like this. After all, complaining about rude people and getting a thousand comments saying "Yeah that was so rude! I would have..." really does not do anything to make the world a better place.

Code Purl said...

Hi Franklin,
I've been lurking for a while but felt I had to comment on this one. That man is the real freak here. It's terrible that he's teaching his children intolerance. Knit on and be who you are. People like that will get theirs in the end. Hmm, not very zen of me to say that but I think you know what I mean.

Souhair said...

You know it's 'cause you learned to knit in jail...

Sigh - all you can do is react with loving kindness - to him and to yourself.

Angela said...

Once again, I am amazed at the rudeness and stupidity of the human race. I wonder if he's related to the wacko who asked you if you learned to knit in prison.

Bonne Marie said...

You're killin' me - "Can you watch for the stadium, CAITLYN?" SNorK!

You've given us a spot-on slice of Tranist Life, my man! I love it! But of course, my response would've been a little blown kiss in his direction as I mumbled, "nasty thing."

Impossible to hold a grudge on such a piker - balance remains...

DianeS said...

It is possible to have a bit of fun at a baseball game...consider it solid knitting time. When someone in your immediate area has to go away, then comes back and asks you what happened, reply: "What happened where?", "What game?", "Who cares?" It just drives them crazy!

By the way, I was only at a baseball game because I figured an afternoon (knitting) at a game was better than an afternoon at work.

woolywoman said...

Yeah, my parents used to embarres the hell out of me in public, too. Just think, this will be one of the things little Halley can look back on when she seeks evidence that her dear old dad is an idiot.

Anonymous said...

That sucks. Really. All I can say is, public transit doesn't bring out the best in people.

...especially people who own cars, and think that their taking transit to the game is somehow doing a favor to those of us who rely on it.

It's okay, though. Children are more often inspired than scarred by these things (think back to the things that *your* parents disapproved of... lol)

karen said...

I don't know. Are we all the same? Some people behave amazingly inconsiderately and even seem to delight in this. Can it be just a difference in enlightenment?
I agree with Ryan, it makes me feel sick to think of this happening to you.

Shan said...

I misjudge others too. But I don't curse and swear at them on the bus. Incivility is in a different category than prejudice, and you can have one without having the other, although they both spring from ignorance. I feel that one CAN draw some conclusions about the man on the bus, including that he was very rude, probably threatened, and almost certainly uncomfortable. I don't think (silently) observing these things make one a bad person.

As George Costanza said, "we're living in a society, here!"

Anonymous said...

He was seriously obnoxious and his poor child has not yet been corrupted. We must hope tis continues to be so.

Mary Lynn said...

I related what happened to you to a friend, who, like you and I takes public transportation on a daily basis. Her response was that you should have jumped up and yelled "Freak, WHERE?" and then settling down next to them and start mumbling "damn freaks, damn freaks . . . "

Midsummer night's knitter said...

Global warming - that guy from a short while ago was right - it's all your fault. Not because you are gay. Because you are a freak - you are a Guy Who Knits.In Public. What's the world coming to, eh? That parent is an a** ****. Gotta feel sorry for his kid though, eh?
Best wishes, keep on knitting,
India

Sean said...

I think it's great that you were able to take an insulting situation and learn from it.

More and more, to get through life I have to remind myself not to take things like that personally. He's dealing with his own shit. I'm so prone to taking that kind of thing on and making it mine.

Great lesson here — thanks

Tina M. said...

I'm a fairly recent reader, mostly a lurker, but I wanted to comment.

Did you get that cold/hot flush when he did that? That's what happens to me when I'm shocked by the actions of another towards me. It's like I can't believe that someone else has that kind of poison inside of them, though of course I should know better.

I'm proud of you for attemtpting Enlightenment. The kind of grace you're striving to attain is elusive and seemingly an ever moving target, but you're trying.

I wish that people understood that appearances can be deceiving, and that one can be watchful without being hateful and afraid all the time. It's fear that made him speak so and it's a shame that the fear was/had to be there in the first place.

Jean from Cornwall said...

I bet that little girl will remember. I must have been about eight when I came home from Grandma's and told them "Uncle * is knitting a Norwegian sweater - he showed me and it is beautiful" It was years before I understood my Father's reaction. I carried on loving that Uncle, but just kept my trap shut!
Yes, he was, and if I ever knit a Norwegian sweater, it will be dedicated to his memory.

Jean from Cornwall said...

Oops, forgot to say - the really worrying thing is that the man's son is also likely to remember . . .

Eldronius said...

Ah, how could anyone knitting lace be a danger? Silly dads.

I hope when I am in Chicago in June, I will accidently stumble across you on the train and give you a pleasant ride with showers of adoration. That sounded way kinkier than it did in my hear.

Rosane said...

Hi Franklin,

Perhaps Enlightenment would mean not having judging thoughts of other freaks, I mean, of others. However,

1 - Because you judge others in your head does not mean you set yourself as perfect. At that moment, you are setting yourself apart from the schmuck you're judging, but I am sure there are plenty of times when you criticize yourself.

That leads to

2 - I believe categorizing is a natural trait we share with every organism on earth.
Given a situation, any situation, organisms tend to choose the most conducive option for survival. In order for organisms to choose, they have to evaluate things. A crude example is even a one-celled organism on a microscope slide presented with something it can eat on one side and a drop of acid on another side will choose the food. Making judgments seems to be intrinsic to continuing being alive. We humans take this to an extreme, no doubt. I do not mean to suggest that the behavior of the extremely rude man on the bus was desirable or necessary for his survival. (Maybe in his head, it was just that, though. He was ensuring the welfare of his child. Through his ignorance, he saw you as a threat.)
I am suggesting that another influence is needed to direct this judging behavior in ways that are more appropriate.

Whereas your brain may not be so different from the extremely rude man's, the all important difference is that until you reach Enlightenment, you will brighten many people's days, even total strangers', whether you judge them in your head at times, or not.

Take care,

Rosane.

Robin said...

Ignorant parents breed ignorant children. I sure wish we could "fix" this problem, but, alas, it will still be a problem long after we are gone. I would smack one of my adult sons up side the head if they did that to my granddaughter. I raised them to be tollerant and understanding of all people,no matter what.... They have an uncle who is gay (my brother) and they adore him and his partner. I guess it all starts at home, I'm sure glad I broke the cycle. My parents were/are very prejudice and I won't put up with it, from anybody. I'm sorry that little girl has such a ignorant Dad.

Ann said...

Thank you for your wise words on non-judgement and compassion. And your great humor as well.

I am still in absolute awe that you knit lace on the metro.

Calvin said...

Hey, Franklin. I've been quite for a while, but I did want to comment on your entry. It's sad that the father, in my opion, is teaching his daughter (and son)so many bad things in that one experience, i. e. using profanity, being suspicious of ALL people and probably many others that are subconscious to them. The one that I truly feel sorry for is the son. I can only imagine that with his dad's kind of attitude, how the son's view on being a true man is going to be so, so warpped and misguided. It makes you realize where hate truly starts and that's in the home.

Gretch said...

That dad, he probably heard you learned how to knit in prison - just a silly misunderstanding!
Yikes. People - you just have to shake your head and wonder what went wrong in the big plan.
Franklin - you're the role model for all of us. You may have just earned your Buddhist toaster oven!

Alwen said...

I tend to use some pretty slender needles when knitting lace. I always wonder about people who say rude things to a person with a dozen US size 0's in the work.

That guy sounds like my father-in-law. [rolls eyes]

FiberQat said...

Too bad you couldn't have told him you'd meet up with him at the next Stitch n Pitch.

Scarlett said...

Jumped over here from your nomination on the Ravell'd Sleeve.

As an alternative sort of person, I totally get your experience.

And sadly, I understand that today's America has morphed from the melting pot to a racist country. Which is sad if you understand that this country was founded on rebellion by individualist peoples.

But, I like you, still don't like racism.

So, kudo's to you for maintaining your zen and blessings to your courage for living the authentic you.

We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people. - Arthur Schopenhauer

Anonymous said...

Wow, look at how far you've come since the "prisoner" bus ride!!!! go Franklin, git down with your Zen self!

I love the Cubs...but that hearkens back to the days when Ernie played...and that's been a while. The fan thing must be an ass pain.

Liz said...

I lived off the Addison stop for a year when I lived in Chicago. I'm not a baseball fan, nuff said.

Sue said...

Yesterday we were experiencing winter here in Chicago -- today we are crotch deep in it!! I'm looking at about 4 inches of white winter stuff in my yard right now!

Rachel H said...

After that post and all the thoughtful things people have said here in the comments, I should strive for something in kind.

But I'm not going to. Because I'm still excited about my experience of being as close to you as I can possibly have been given the geographic differences between us. It happened this morning. Darling, you and I have now warn the same sweater. Pop on over to Amy's place at knitty.com/blog to and you'll see what I'm babbling about.

jenneke said...

I just love it how kids don't judge and are just curious. It's good that her father wanted to protect her - yarn is a serious drug after all - but he could have done it in a more civil manner. Greatings Jenneke

Beth L said...

I have so many wonderful memories of visiting a girlfriend when she lived in 'boys town' going to Wrigley field and out at night and coming home to see the 'boys' on the corner note that we were safe. You are a kind, generous and giving person and soul.

Cherice said...

Oh my, is all that my mind can come up with. If it had been me I'd probably have told my daughter to ask you about the lace that you were knitting. It's a sad sad truth that people judge

Lala said...

I hereby declare you Punk As F*ck. Seriously - I've been out and about with a shaved head, boots and tattoos, not to mention a big honkin' ring in my nose, and gotten hassled less than you have by merely knitting in public.
Congratulations on your new status (or perhaps renewed, I have no idea) and let me know if you want me tell you what the asterisk is replacing.

Anonymous said...

Franklin, that was a beautiful post. It hurt my heart. I have spent the last hour thinking about it.

Your thoughtful words are heartwarming.

Meditation teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, wrote of seeing a sign at a meditation retreat that said:

"Life is so difficult, how can we be anything but kind."

Cara said...

Although, as a parent of a very friendly 3-year old, I can understand trying to protect your child in unfamiliar surroundings, the daddy was being a jerk and a poor role model. I've also been teh freaky person people tried to keep far from their suburban-raised children. I find this story (and the knit-in-prison story) especialy odd since in the pics we see of you, Franklin, you look to me like a perfectly safe, sane person. Of course, my husband (and baby daddy) is a glowering, shave-headed, tattooed, earring and black leather wearing sort of person (and we're in Indiana no less), so I may be biased. One family's loss ...

Diane said...

How terribly rude. I can understand trying to keep a child safe by having her stay close but name calling is uncalled for.

More winter weather coming in New England too. I can't stand it anymore!

Grumpy said...

you are so Zen you deserve a sainthood Franklin, if I'm not mixing my religeous metaphors, or at the very least a knighthood!

Anonymous said...

our brains maybe are all the same but some of us have softer hearts.
hug..hug...you soft hearted sweatheart.

marie in florida

sheila said...

I grew up on the North Shore (but as everyone who knows me would tell you..."you would never know it"), so when i read your blog about the L ride, I was all to familar with it! All I can say is that there are tons of narrow minded people out there who only see things with tunnel vision! Hopefully the little girl will remember what an a** her dad was and learn from it!
Can't wait to see the finished lace project!

Lee Ann said...

I'm with Ryan on this one. Feeling quite ill. That poor kid's in for one hell of a crappy life, and while I know that so many kids are in the same boat, it still makes me feel sick to hear about it or see it in action.

Twinkletoes would give the world to knit flowers the way you do, and happily ask you a gazillion questions about it. If, that is, she could get a word in edgewise because her mum's asking a gazillion questions too :-) She already pretty much thinks you're a superhero because you not only can knit pretty things but you can also draw funny sheep.

You're a hero to me, too, sweetiepie. I'm glad you're Here with a capital H.

Mama Cat said...

Franklin, you are very wise. I am not a Buddhist but I admire what you say about not judging other people. I believe that many of the bad things that happen in the world are the result of judging others with a necessarily imperfect knowledge of the forces that shaped them. And this includes judging ourselves, as we cannot fully know the forces that have shaped us either.

But can we judge actions? I can see that man's actions as hurtful with a possibility of causing damage to you and to his daughter (by leading her to avoid anyone not like herself, which is ultimately damaging to her and in a larger sense to the world). I cannot judge him, but I can note that his actions cause pain.

I, too, am in awe that you can knit lace on the bus. You inspire me, Franklin.

LindaD said...

Hey, Franklin,

I would be proud to have any memeber of my family ask you stuff about knitting on the train! You're no freak to me, and although my husband thinks Dolores is a bit strange, I caught him reading your blog at work! You always have something very wise to say and give us readers lots to think about!

Knit On, Franklin!
LindaD

Dave Daniels said...

Being an urban-dweller, had I witnessed that, I would have made some LOUD comments to him regarding his arrogant ignorance.
And you had sharp pointy sticks. He should have really thought before speaking. Living a block from Fenway Park, I'm familiar with The Type you are mentioning.

Robert R. said...

How beautiful, Franklin! And thank you for the technical information and also for the source information (the Walker book, the Bridget Rorem article). I will find all of this useful in my own lace knitting endeavors.
You inspire me, and I thank you for that!

Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy said...

Thanks for your wonderful insights! It's a pity how organized sports seem to bring out the worst in people. Whether participating or spectating, many sportsfolks just seem to forget we're ALL part of the community.

knitnzu said...

I see you've got about a bazillion comments, but I had to butt in. Our words have SO much power, even our thoughts. And what lesson did that guy teach his kid that day?? I'm working on the judgement thing (in light of power of thoughts and all)...just skimmed some comments, right with helena in the handbasket, and SNORT you learned in jail!!

Brian said...

You're far braver than I can imagine being. I feel daring sitting on my third floor balcony with my knitting. Lace on public transit? "Shut up I'm counting" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Anonymous said...

The first time I read this story + comments on the Zen-ness of the experience and your telling of it, I was grateful to be reminded of the importance of finding real meaning in everyday things.

The second time I read it, I cried: the step on the path that will always be too hard for me to make is giving up the comfort of believing that there is meaning in the things of this world.

Lisa said...

Ah well, you've got a zillion comments already, but I have to just put in my 2 cents with the rest...

Good food for thought - I judge too..and I don't like it. I try to examine what's going on inside when I realize I'm doing it. I think it's going to be a long process, that.

The dad? What a sad little man.

Kathy said...

Ah, the hell that is the Red Line on game day. I know who they are because I grew up with them in the lily white suburbs of Chicago.

I hated the suburbs so I moved to the city. Away from you people. I was working on my escape plans in sixth grade.

And then every year you come onto my turf when I am just trying to get to work. You don't know how to ride the el, are often drunk, and really should not be wearing those shorts.

And to top if all off, you insult one of the nicest guys in the world instead of encouraging your daughters' curiosity. A guy so nice he's processing the encounter to find the good. Did you go home, mister, and tell the wife about how "uncomfortable" the train ride was and maybe never again?

We all have to share this planet, including the el. Can you just meet us half way and respect our way of life? Cripes - a christening blanket - for petes sake. How threatening is that?

KellyS said...

I hear you, and as a fellow rider, I shudder with you. The difference being my outwardly "acceptibility" as a straight white female. eh. I get into my share of idiocy anger during Cubbie season.
knit on, and stay awesome. (ps a lurker)

blogless barb said...

"Goddamned freaks."

wow, he doesn't even know about Dolores.

Laiane said...

Very insightful.

I try to remind myself that everyone -- even the judging, nasty, prejudiced people -- has a piece of the Buddha in them. Sometimes I'm hard pressed to find that piece, but I keep reminding myself nonetheless.

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