Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Last night I watched God Grew Tired of Us: A documentary about the Lost Boys of Sudan. The effect it had on me has lasted through the night and when my eyes opened this morning, the rush of urgent emotions were overwhelming. A sense of helplessness and utter gratitude runs through my blood. I am staggered by my desire to do more in my life. John Dau is an inspiration and has renewed my desire to help that I've held dormant for several years.

I've never been privileged. However, I've never been without the basic necessities of life either. After this film, I am thankful for the very shirt I'm wearing today. The very fact that I can sleep on my cheap Salvation Army mattress. The fact that I've had the same furniture for more than 10 years. The fact that I have only two good pairs of shoes. The fact that I can smile and hug my family and see my daughter's face every morning.

I know that my family won't be shot. I know that I won't have to trek through a scorching desert, barefoot, a shell of a person and without anyone to take care of me. I know that my skeleton will remain safe under my skin. I know that I will live.

This film reminded me that I may have very little, but I have infinitely more than most.

These boys, now men, spoke of their feelings like it was the most natural moment in the world. Their souls shone in their hopeful eyes. Their desire to come to America and live the dream. The dream; didn't happen. The dream was a full circle back to Africa in one way or another. They were brought to this place we call freedom, yet all they thought about were the good times in Africa; their "parliament", their songs, their way of living, regardless of the hardships.

I guess I may be affected more than most people. I'm 37 and have never been abroad. I feel very under-privileged, and less of a person for it. It is unfair that some get to see the world and people like me have trouble buying food for the week. I was one of the first people in my family to graduate college. College promised a bigger world. A hope of a better future. I majored in print journalism; which has gotten me nowhere but maybe a few bucks more an hour. My minors were of more importance as I look back. I minored in African Studies and Swedish Studies.

My desire to travel is in my bones. I like to think that in my past life, I was everywhere and saw many cultures because my life as it is now is very sheltered and not because I want it to be that way. I want to travel more than anyone can understand. I want it so bad it causes me to cry some nights because the need to go see the world is more than I can bear. It's part of my fabric of being. It is the gold thread that runs through the quilt of my life.

I've wanted to go to Africa since I was 15. I want to help. I want to be part of the difference that we make over there. I want immersion. I don't know when or how I'll ever get there, but I do hope that in my lifetime, I will get to see how other people live and write about it. Until then, I can only dream and imagine what it must feel like to leave this country.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Knitting Single

Surfing through blogs recently inspired a connection that I’ve been trying to work out: Is knitting hindering my dating life?

Which leads me once again on a path to revisit the complex nature of communication. I often wish I could keep my mouth shut. I speak, foot enters mouth and I spend the rest of the day trying to remove it. Because all of us at some point are subjected to the “Actions speak louder than word,” schpeel. I don’t know about you, but I roll my eyes, heave a big sigh and proceeded to convince myself that my verbal action has way more re-action than anything I could do in silence. How wrong I often find myself. Without saying a word, I tell people who I am by what I do. A simple concept? Maybe.

However, someone told me recently that I was never going to meet anyone sitting around knitting all the time (coming from a non-knitter). As a single woman, how do men see me? Am I better off meeting someone doing activities I enjoy or are words where it’s at? What do single men think of women who knit in public? I can’t help but wonder if we (knitters) attract them or if we take ourselves off the market with every knit and purl stitch?

At 37, things look a lot different than they did at 16. I’m a single mother of a beautiful 15-year-old girl. I’ve been married twice and divorced twice and now looking into the barrel of the single-in-my-thirties gun. I work two jobs and am at constant odds with myself about the choices I make. I often find myself in panic-mode quickly at the thought and dread of never finding the ‘one.’ I continue to knit my way through problems. Knit one, purl one, pause, problem solved. Well, maybe. It’s more of a coping mechanism rather than a problem solver. My thoughts snowball into that grimy ball of self-doubt and, wham! It’s the pity party for one and you are all invited. However, I’m not that easily thwarted. I’m always after the perfect explanation. The perfect solution; only to realize there is very seldom the perfect solution. There is the gray area that so many of us seem to exist in. That is where theories come in. Postulating solutions based on past experience and why the present is what it is.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if I’m toting my knitting out to the bars. That is, if I were to frequently patron bars. I’m not into that. I live in Seattle; The Mecca of the computer dating scene. Around here the hot spots vary depending on who you talk to. Dog parks, coffee shops that litter just about every bloody corner and from what I’ve heard, grocery stores. I frequent the coffee shops and the dog park that is one mile from me and I have to tell you the prospects are slim pickins’. And when I do get a chance meeting, the inevitable question of what I do for fun comes up and I tell them. Men get this distant look in their eyes like knitting is reserved for people on another planet, particularly those who are aged and ‘domestic.’

I recently came across a blog,, by Dr. Anne Galloway and she writes:

What is it about knitting in public that can be so unsettling? Are we afraid that someone knitting cannot, or worse yet does not wish to, engage with those around them? (Women have long gathered to knit and gossip.) Is it the intrusion of a private activity into public space that unsettles? (Like the laptop user at the local cafe, or the conference backchannel?) Perhaps this is where the public discomfort comes from? A woman knitting in public is self-possessed, she almost flaunts her ability to be productive when others can't, to create when others can only consume. From this emotional politics she can also claim moral righteousness, and in the multi-tasking dimension, she can claim superior skill and challenge the notion that public space is unitary or unified in process and product.

Self-possessed, flaunting? Yes, all valid social intimidations. I have been known to be a bit obsessive in my knitting habits. I do enjoy those who approach me and ask me what it is I’m knitting and the fawning that follows. It would make anyone’s ego fly a bit. However, my public knitting is due to the love of it, not to flaunt my ability to multi-task.

I’ve been knitting for about 10 years. I teach knitting classes two evenings a week at my local yarn shop and I can knit anything I set my heart on. I’ve been known to knit socks in the movie theatre and out at dinner or waiting for the bus. Knitting happens. It shouldn’t be a big deal. And it isn’t; except now I’m thinking it may preventing my ability to expand my social circle in order to meet more people, therefore increasing my odds of meeting a great guy.

Now arguably, there is a social life as a knitter; but men aren’t usually present. You know what I mean ladies. The girls come over, we’re laughing, watching some sappy romantic comedy and knitting until we can’t knit anymore because alcohol and knitting never mix... Fun though it is, it’s not conducive to the traditional dating scene.

I have a few friends whose husbands adore their knitting and regularly support their endeavors. These are the chosen few who have amazing men in their lives. That is not the norm. Most women aren’t so lucky. Our obsession is shared amongst other women knitters. I would give just about anything to have that sort of support. However, I simply refuse to give up the knitting or be sans knitting at any coffee shop or bus stop. So what’s a single gal to do?

I’m one tough bird (thank you Mom). So, I get in my ‘Queen of Research’ mode and find answers to solve the unsolvable. Sometimes it works, sometimes I just have to accept that it’s another one of those mysteries in life that I’m destined never to figure out. “Everything happens for a reason, Christina.” I can’t tell you how rich I’d be if I would have just put a penny in a jar every time my Mother says that to me. That household doctrine doesn’t explain the variables to that statement. It’s an easy statement to make; one that we can simply use so that further exploration is no longer needed. I am not satisfied with that.

Last year I dated a man for about 9 months. He knew I loved to knit. He even went out of his way to buy me knitting books for my birthday. But when I brought out the ACTUAL knitting, he got uncomfortable. I remember being on his boat one evening when there was some dead time that we had to just relax until the event started and I took out my knitting and he laughed and said, “You are just so domestic.” Was that supposed to be a compliment because it sure didn’t sound like it. I proceeded to tell him it was my way of relaxing and he made it sound as if I were being homely. It was almost as if he was embarrassed by the fact I was knitting. So, I put it away. I no longer felt comfortable with what made me relax for me he wouldn't take me seriously. I knew the relationship wouldn't last...and I was right. A few months later, I broke it off.

Since then I’ve had a fair share of dating, but when I mention that I knit I feel as if I have to apologize for it or laugh it off like it’s silly. Most of the time the response is, “Cool.” Cool? What does that mean? It’s pacification, in my opinion. There is no inquiry; nothing to indicate they wish to know more about it. What am I supposed to do with that when knitting is such a huge part of who I am?

I see lots of women knitting in public. It’s quite surprising. But it’s also women I meet who are already attached or married. So why do they care? I often wonder if they would stop given the possibility that it would impede their ability to meet someone. I get all kinds of comments from women in public; all very interesting and positive. There was one woman who came over to where my sister and I were sitting at a coffee shop and without the slightest hesitation said, “I used to knit blankets for crack babies!” Way out of left field, but the point is: I am always approached by women and never men. It confirmed more of my theory; men aren’t approaching me when I knit.

Knitting at bus stops only gets me raised eyebrows and confusion by men. I can almost feel a physical pulling away. I continue my research. There has never been one man in all the places I’ve been in Seattle, to flash a positive, welcoming glance my way when I’m knitting. Reading? Yes. Staring at the scenery? Yes. Knitting? Not so much. I haven’t given up hope though. No one should ever give up something they love to do for anyone.

As progressive and urban as knitting is in this city; for we have an amazing community of shops, teachers, events and friends, knitting is still looked at as an old-woman hobby by most men. It reminds them of mom or an aunt or whatever it conjures in their minds. To most men, I think a good time to be had isn’t in the hands of a knitter.

I know he has to be out there. Someone who will adore the very fact that I am a fiber-maven and he will wear every pair of socks I knit; love every hat and scarf and sweater I make and wear it with pride. He is out there…with soulful eyes and an amazing smile.

Just when I think I may have to stop knitting if I want to meet anyone, I was on the bus to work the other day working on the Citron shawl (turned out lovely, I might add) I felt a pair of eyes on me and turned to the right and a handsome dark-haired gentleman, looked around a passenger to see what I was doing and he smiled. Maybe there is hope yet!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seattle Mystery Bookshop

Some of my fondest memories growing up as a young adult centered around reading. I remember summer being my favorite time because my best friend and I used to go to the local small bookshop, Cheshire Books, and trade in our plastic bags full of used books every few weeks. We always made a full afternoon out of it. The bookshop was in downtown Yakima, so getting there wasn't a challenge. One can walk the length of Yakima in a very short time, so we'd meet and begin an afternoons' journey into the great world of literature.

I was taken back in time within those asymmetrical walls of books. All genres enticing me to join in the great fun. The resident Cheshire cat would mosey around and lounge on whatever took its fancy at the time; swishing that bushy tail in that cat way. There was one room in particular that I loved the most. The smell is something I can still remember. Smells do that. I can link most of my memories to scents from hair shampoo, perfume, to laundry detergent. This particular room smelled of old books. Books of long ago where the binding nearly crumbles through your fingers. The pages membrane-thin as my fingers would turn each page and the soft swish of my skin against it would move to the next. I'd hold each book up to my nose, take a deep breath and despite the dust, take it in like I could ingest all the history it had weathered.

There are truly fewer and fewer bookshops like that anymore. I'm happy to say that my childhood shop still exists, although without a website and I'm kind of glad about that too. I've been on a subconscious search for another bookshop that would spark my desires again. I know that as a teenager, there is really nothing that can replace what I experienced at Cheshire Books, but there is one shop that has recently come close, and it deserves a few accolades.

The Seattle Mystery Bookshop in Pioneer Square. If you walk too fast, you'll miss it. It's nestled neatly among three other little shops off Cherry Street (117 Cherry Street). Through a dim entrance opens up a wall-to-wall plethora of books where mystery reigns. It opened its doors in the summer of 1990. Unfortunately, I didn't find it until recently, but better late than never. I've always loved a good Whodunit. I love getting my hands a little dirty to find out what I expected wasn't at all what I expected.

I have a routine when I enter bookstores. I let the books call to me. I walk around, touch a few spines, read a few reviews or back page summaries. I get a feel for the shop and my surroundings. I have to get a vibe from a bookshop. The Seattle Mystery Bookshop definitely has a vibe. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and from one mystery lover to another, they got it in the bag.

My first excursion in, I wanted something a little twisted. I'm a nice girl. I'm generally happy. So what movies and books do I generally gravitate to? Twisted weirdness that can't be explained. It's my outlet; what can I say? I take my stroll through the isles, admire the poster of Dexter on the wall, with blood spatter on his face, and proceed to the latest and greatest. I pick up Drood, by Dan Simmons. I walk around the table again. I pick it up again. I hold it. What is it telling me? Why is it telling me? I'm stalking the book. It knows. The owner obviously knows what I'm up to and I ask the obvious question of whether the book is good or not. Of course, he says and proceeds to languish all sorts of good things on me about the book. I bought it. Read it in record time and have done nothing but recommend it to others. That is a good book experience. It took me away to the life of Charles Dickens. I didn't have to explain anything. The book does it for me. I love literature. I love bookstores like these where I can be transported and put back all nice and neat again...or so I think.

I like that it isn't your run-of-the-mill corporate shop. It's personable. It's not a Kindle. It's not whatever other technology is trying to take us away from the physical pleasure of page-turning. It's a real bookshop with real people and real pages that get ripped, torn, worn and touched. It's exactly what I'd like to maintain.

Pioneer Square
Monday - Saturday 10 - 5 pm
Sunday 12 -5 pm

Go. Visit. Read. Go again.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Seattle Freeze????

Recently, my sister had a friend from out of town come and visit. He stayed for just a short while and noticed one thing; Seattle isn't all that friendly.
In fact he called it "The Seattle Freeze."

I've lived in Seattle for about 11 years, most of that time, as a single person, with a short four and a half years of being married. I have to say, dating presents its challenges. Needless to say, dating itself is a challenge and trying to pull it off in a city that slaps you in the face every time you turn around doesn't make it easier.

The Seattle environment is gorgeous. We are surrounded by some of the smartest, most educated people in the nation and some of the more adventurous in nature. We have divine hiking trails, gorgeous mountains and water all around us. I've begun to notice that most of what I thought were dating prospects expect a certain amount of athletic ability and a laundry list of perfection that no one could possibly live up to.

I've tried, I'm currently on OKCupid. Two dating sites that have proven well for some people I know. I even dated a man last year for about nine months from OKCupid and he was wonderful. Lately my odds aren't so good. I'm 0 for 4: Four dates in about 6 months and not one single connection. I even had a date recently who flatly said he hated dogs, knowing I had a dog and proceeded to counter everything I said from there on out. At least I got a good beer out of it!

All I'm saying is that it's hard to meet people here. I'm surrounded by friends and family that have a significant other in their lives and my single status is getting a bit tired. I'm perfectly content being single. I'm a single mom who goes to film, theatre, concerts and even out to dinner, by my self. It's no big deal. But I believe we weren't put on this earth to go it alone. I want to share my life with someone and would like to do it before I'm old and gray. I'm not saying that it's greener on the other side; relationships are tough and you have to work at it constantly in order to keep it alive and well. But in many ways, that's what I'm looking forward to - Working on something together and coming out the other side a better person for it.

It's a stretch just to get someone to smile at me on the bus or as I'm walking downtown. I think we all need to stop for a bit and realize what we're doing to each other. I'm not the girl on the cover of Kayak magazine and I'm not a bungee jumper in red high heels with long blonde hair and a tan. I'm just me. Shouldn't that be enough? Apparently the list of the perfect date just keeps getting more idealistic and it's come down to ridiculous details that mean nothing in the big picture. It's about a connection and chemistry. That smile and lingering stare that says something's going to happen and it's going to be good. It's not about weather she likes sushi and he doesn't and who the hell cares anyway?! I guess I'm just a bit old fashioned and want something substantial and real. It's tough being single in Seattle. Maybe I should take the advice of my mother: "Stop looking and that's when he will come along." Maybe she's right.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The TV

Here is the first of many short stories to come of what I find on the streets of Seattle. I believe these things have a history and I feel compelled to write about it. It's up to you if you read it as fiction or not. I hope you enjoy this story and more to come.

She adjusted her jeans in the mirror. She tired to avoid the mirror today because the image staring back was more than she could manage. Honesty was not what she needed. She needed a coping mechanism, not the growing lines on her face or the tears staining her pale cheeks reminding her of the pain she would have to heal from.

She noticed the edges giving way to old age. It was a mirror she and he bought together a year ago at an old estate sale. It was ragged, they knew, but it was their first purchase together. Today, it stood against a rot wall next to the dirty window she peered through in confusion and anger.

The city was shrouded in fog that day. It blanketed the tops of the few high rises that pocked the small city where she lived. Today she felt the fog's heaviness. It's demanding presence and the marks it left on her when returning from the outdoors. She could still hear her neighbors next door arguing over the same damn thing. Every day, it seemed endless; no solution she could think of. Why couldn't they understand that and move on like she had? Or had she?

She turned her back to the window. She stared at the apartment they once shared. His imprint still left on the bed. His scent still lingering on the towel he used last night. The tube of toothpaste he neglected to put away with repeated reminders of where it belonged. It didn't bother her so much now.

The kitchen table held the juice they shared that morning. A drop of syrup on the corner of the tile table that drowned the Belgian waffles they loved to make together, as a couple. A couple who said it was forever. A couple who loved the city, loved their apartment, loved the flaws in each other. Now the flaws had no audience. Flaws left to find another.

She sat on the unmade bed, wishing she didn't have to leave for work. How would she concentrate? How would she move forward and pretend he didn't just walk out that door? Picking at her bitten nails and peeling nail polish, she looked across a few feet to the mahogany table where it once sat. The TV now gone, leaving only a dusty frame. A remnant of laughter, tears and the nights where those stupid rabbit ears weren't making the picture any better. He left with a duffel bag full of dirty clothes and that old TV. With tears in her eyes and a determination to keep them from falling, she locked the door behind her and headed to the office.


He was up early that morning. Not knowing what to say or what to do. Routine can be a friend in times like these. When hurt is too much to bear, routine is always there, a servant to your needs. Something told him it was the end. They both knew it and the funny thing was that he didn't even know why. Why do people fall apart? How do people get together in the first place? It was a miracle they even happened. Good times, bad times. Weren't they supposed to stay together. Were not vows to be taken seriously?

She was still in bed when he made the last batch of waffles they would ever share. The smell woke her up and she entered the kitchen and an awkward silence crept over them, invading the tangy juice they sipped together and the slightly sweet batter of the waffles, making the clanking of the forks so loud it was unbearable. It was decided the previous night. He would leave. She would stay.

He walked out the door, carrying what he wanted to accompany his grand exit. He knew taking the TV would hurt. It was worth nothing and worth everything at the same time.

The foggy day applauded his defeat, carrying him off to other adventures. He left with a sense of failure. He had failed her. He had let her go. Down on Columbia Street, he left it sitting on a cement nook in front of a black-inked graffiti wall. Old, tired of the arguing. Tired of the tears. Let someone else take it. Turn it into art, make a statement. It burdened him to carry it anyway. With deep regret and the urge to run back and touch her again, he headed to the ferry, wondering if she would notice it as she walked to work.

The Happiest Hooker...

Well, maybe. I'm a knitter. I can knit anything I set my heart on, but when it comes to crochet...I might as well be reading Swahili. I guess it's not all that bad. After all, being the fiber enthusiast I am, I should be able to wrestle and wrangle a lil' ol' crochet pattern, right?

I've been knitting for a client of mine for about five years now. I've knit probably 80% of her wardrobe and now, she wants me to crochet a dress. Yes folks, a dress. Now, one might be picturing those lovely vintage magazines our grandmothers had where there were lovely little women in bouffants wearing short little crochet garments. Vintage may be back, but for the love of all that is good, please don't tell me the crocheted dress is back.

The majority of us know what would happen if we were to don a crocheted dress. The rump alone would stretch the poor fabric out and it wouldn't have a chance of succeeding on any body who had a curve to call their own. One must be build like a boy to pull it off. Luckily, my client is very small and very thin and she'll look adorable in it. However, my procrastination on the matter needs attending and my better judgment tells me I can't put this off any longer.

I've spent the past few evenings, looking through the Happy Hooker trying to understand what I'm looking at. Now, my dear crocheters who are laughing at me right now, must understand. It's not the stitch I can't do; it's understanding what I'm looking at and counting said stitches. It's just silly. I teach knitting for crying out loud and I can hardly crochet to save my life! Will the universe ever make sense?

So the past few nights, I've went to my bedroom, put on my earbuds, listened to some Vampire Weekend and crocheted my heart out. That means three rows. I'm looking to get this done by the end of March. I'm sure some of you out there are wagering on this right now. Hint: the probability of it getting done in two weeks is slim to none.

For those who really care: I am using a size F hook and Cascade's Sierra Cotton/Wool. I love, love, love that yarn. Great price for the yardage. Can't go wrong with tried and true Cascade.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

End of the Season

Parents, you know what I'm talking about when I say, "I have a kid in sports." We all know the long hours of training and practice that cuts into all of our grocery shopping time, our "down-time", our one hour each day that we might get to ourselves. The mornings where a book and cup of coffee are all we want, but no, we must drive to the gym and encourage our brood to be their best. Schmooze with other parents. Make connections and smile even though you look like you just got out of bed. Once you have a kid in sports, it's all over. I mean, it's all over once they get expunged out of our wombs, but sports is a whole other story.

My daughter has participated in the same basketball team for three years now, with amazing coaches I might add. She doesn't play for her school, but through her local community center. There are ups and downs. Wins and losses. Today marked the end of another season and pictured here is the team with their only win of the season. A good way to end it, don't you think? My daughter is the one with the biggest smile. Now, another season starts: Ultimate Frisbee.

Around 12 years ago, hardly anyone knew Ultimate Frisbee even existed! Now, it is a sanctioned, and very popular sport. World-wide even. Who knew? Turns out, it has become my daughter's first love. She has played three years and it is the funnest sport out there. You can play girls, boys and co-ed teams and the spirit these kids have is amazing. Their stamina is something to comment on too. They practice every day, for two hours. I wish I had even a thimble full of the energy required to do what she does. It takes enough just to drag my arse to the gym three days a week. But I digress. I'm proud of her. She is everything I had hoped she'd be. I'm no soccer mom, but I'm something more....I'm an Ultimate Mom. Let the games begin!