Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Swatching and Those Red Cups

Good morning from Chicago! I am sitting in my sun room, which is not particularly sunny during autumn and winter, and I had a dream last night that someone tried to hit me with their car while I was swimming (because that is how my brain works).

Also, I touch upon swatching about once a year in either my column or the blog, because yes, it is that important. Here are my top eight reasons I think you should swatch:


Many of you know that I work for Starbucks now. After Cascade, I wanted a sort of breather. I have worked for Walmart, Gap, Inc., and Nordstrom as well, because working for large, established companies means that if you ever need or choose to go back to them for employment, you can do it in almost any city where you land. This time around, it was Starbucks.

And I have yet to encounter a customer who cares that our holiday cups are red, or that they do not say "Merry Christmas!" on them, with a bunch of snowflakes.

While I am not a representative of the company in the sense that I have authority to speak on their behalf, I do have opinions about this as an old-fashioned human being that I feel may benefit others in their quest to get large companies heard, due to my employment history. I got into a rather colorful discussion about this on facebook, and I have come to a few conclusions that I thought I would share:

1.  Telling the barista that your name is Merry Christmas is all sorts of dumb. If you are protesting in outrage, then please explain to me why you are continuing to give the company money every day. Also, the barista will write almost anything you like on your cup, because if it is rush hour and your drink is being plopped onto a counter with six other drinks within mere seconds of each other, then we want to make sure your own drink is the one that heads to the train station with you.

2.  Continuing to talk about it on social media is all sorts of dumb. Many of your social media friends, believe it or not, are not Starbucks regulars. But suddenly, all of these people who never walked into a Starbucks, but most likely pass one every day if they live in a community of more than about 12,000 people, feel compelled to walk in and look at these red cups, live and in the flesh. Then, I know what happens becuase I am also a customer of Starbucks:  "Ooh! Chocolate croissant!"

3.  Worrying about it in the first place is all sorts of dumb. Do you have little kids? Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Do you need a new roof? Is your next-door neighbor worried that her kids do not have the proper winter gear for the upcoming weather? Did you hear about the gunshots in the Gresham neighborhood? From where I am sitting, all of these topics are more important than red cups at Starbucks, and yet they are not anywhere more forward than your cerebral cortex. Ask yourself why.

4.  The media reporting on it in the first place is all sorts of dumb. Speaking of gunshots, a nine-year-old boy was gunned down in a targeted gang shooting this weekend. How about we stop the stupid red-cup conversation and talk about where his parents were, the fact that the educational system let us down, how it may be horrible that it was gang-related but that little boy was still someone's child and family member, or even how we can use money we spend at Starbucks to help curb gang violence in our communitites, if you are still interested in "protesting?" And yes, here I am talking about it in the so-called media, but I am trying to nip it in the bud with this post.

5.  Hypocrisy regarding this topic is all sorts of dumb. Part of the facebook discussion (my facebook page is public, by the way, so feel free to read it) revolved around Christians saying, "Why me?" as a majority religious voice. Well, call me crazy, but victimhood is not exactly a fundamental Christian value. Why you? I, as a Catholic, can answer that question with everything from, "Why anybody?" to "What makes you think this is aimed at any one particular religious group in the first place?" If your brand of Christianity teaches entitlement, publicly-traded corporations using their reach as a platform for your agenda, or God taking care of you in the way YOU see fit instead of how HE sees fit, then you need to re-evaluate how you identify as a Christian. Just like you cannot shout "Less government!" while simultaneously complaining that the government needs more regulation on a certain issue, having it both ways just is not possible.

If you actually, truly are offended by Starbucks and their festive cups, here is my advice to you:  stop drinking their coffee, write a letter to CEO Howard Schultz, and send it to the corporate office. Or go to the website and offer your feedback. And the next time all six of you are "outraged" over desensitizing Christmas (my fancy algorithm in my head literally suggests the number of outraged people is less than ten), wear a string on your finger to remind you of that as you are standing in line for a television at 50% off on Thanksgiving night.

Also, if everybody lives like a true Christian (I mean values-wise, not converting anyone and everyone to Chritianity), then nobody will give a crap what Starbucks does on their cups. I only know my own personal relationship with God, but I have never been given any indication that He asked a Board of Directors at Starbucks to take "Merry Christmas!" off of their cups. But I am guessing that if any messages were received, it was more of a "giving" message than a "taking" one, as illustrated by the fact that veterans can get a free tall coffee tomorrow, on Veterans Day, as a thank-you for their service.

A Catholic nun from Chicago just won "Chopped," and she plans on using her $10,000 to help feed the homeless and underprivileged. That, my friends, is Christmas. Knitting mittens and hats for school-aged children in Nekoosa, Wisconsin so that parents do not have to skip a meal to afford winter clothes? That is Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Jesus by attending church, donating money and time to causes for people less fortunate, and re-telling His story regarding teachings of tolerance, acceptance, and unconditional love? That, from what I have learned, is Christmas. And I have worked a Black Friday for Walmart, so I have seen people drop their morals and values for material possessions literally in an instant.

Starbucks? Starbucks is coffee. And it is damn yummy coffee. Words on a coffee cup? Put it to bed.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

No It's Not Funny

Good evening, everyone! No knitting stories today...unless you want to hear about me finishing a hat while the Bears lost in overtime this afternoon. The guy to my left was from Ireland, and he told me that while lots of people in his country drink, and lots of people in his country knit, it is ne'er too often he sees both at the same time from the same person. Duly noted.

I want to talk about abuse. Out of nowhere. Nothing happened today, and you don't have to worry about me sending some weird subliminal message about needing rescue from my current relationship. I am just looking at the world around me, and this is what is on my mind.

By the way, I am not a clinical expert of anything. I just do a lot of reading, listening, and attempting to learn from my own and others' mistakes. That's it. This is a springboard. It should not be used to diagnose or treat anything. But ask yourself if you have experienced any of what I am talking about, and ask yourself how often it should be acceptable. The answer is never.

Abuse is about control. It is not about seeing someone hurt; actually, it is almost the opposite. An abuser can often feel justified by feeling guilty seeing someone hurt, because they can think that the person did it to themselves. If only they listened to me and did what I said, they think. Then they wouldn't be crying.

Often, that is what comes out of an abuser's mouth. "If you had just listened to me in the first place, you wouldn't be crying like that." See, people who abuse like to blame everyone but themselves for their wrongs. "We were late because you couldn't put your fucking makeup on quicker." "I wouldn't have bought the house if you didn't keep nagging me for two months...I did it to shut you up."

Now, of course people say things in the heat of the moment that they do not necessarily mean. There are degrees to abuse. If someone says something in an argument once, and they realize their idiocy, and they strive to improve and not do it again, that is not abuse. If their default is to hurt and blame you in an argument, it very well may be that you are being abused.

Does the person who should love you the most also insult you the most? That is a problem. If you are married to someone who calls you names on a regular basis, they are doing it for attention. They are doing it to make you feel like you are less of yourself, because then he or she feels their own plane is higher than yours.

Abuse is not always physical, although the control aspect is the same. This is why it is very, very difficult sometimes for people to leave abusive relationships. They start to believe the abuser on some level, and because they love the person in question, there is a level of assumption that they can trust what the other person tells them is true. "He loves me...why would he or she lie to me?"

Lying. That is something else to watch for. Someone who pathologically lies, who is constantly covering their tracks, often thinks it is necessary to do so. I know some white lies just happen in a moment of panic ("Officer, I never saw the stop sign..."), but to constantly lie, to calculate and set a stage...well...either there is a string of behavior the person feels the need to hide, or the person feels they need to hide their true selves. So they try to control others by telling lies to justify behavior.

People who abuse also often will raise their voices. If they are louder, their voice can be heard over yours. Control.

Passive aggression is another commonality. "Fine! Maybe we should just get divorced then!" If you hear that once, after trying and trying to make things work, then maybe it is out of anger, and it is a suggestion. But if you start to hear this during every single argument, the person is trying to get you to say, "No...I love you!" or "No, please!" or something similar. In some cases, this is the moment someone realizes they are being abused. This is the moment they call the person's bluff and say, "Okay." And then suddenly, the abuser changes his or her tune.

But it is very rarely a permanent change.

I have said this before, but it bears repeating:  I often hear people justify the complaints they make of their relationships by following up with, "But...he's not always like that. He can be really nice." If you are in a relationship where you have to balance the good with the bad, then remember this:  51% is NOT good enough. Loving, nurturing relationships get fed by positivity, appreciation, gratitude, and love. It is similar to servant leadership in the sense that people who abuse are taking, and people who are healthy inherently would rather give. "What can I do to make your day better?" versus "How great will I look with her on my arm?"

If you start to notice little jabs coming from your so-called partner, remember that jokes are said in a loving way. They are not said in a way that should make you feel less than you are truly worth. And no, it is not funny. Ever.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Kaspar Party

Good morning! First, the good stuff. Have you been to Unraveled yet? It's the local yarn shop in Wauconda that is basically run by a human think tank with ADHD (that's a compliment). You should stop in and buy yarn from there.


Also, Loopy Yarns in the south loop has now changed hands, and it is called Yarnify! The new owner is hosting a contest for a new logo, and it is open to absolutely anyone who is feeling a bit creative. The worst that can happen is that you don't win, but are introduced to the new shop. The best that can happen is that your logo is used, and you win a hundred-dollar prize!


After long, careful thought, I have decided to start my own political party. It is sort of a mashup of the values of a Democrat and Libertarian, with the fiscal mind of a Republican. I am calling it the Kaspar party.

Yes, it sounds funny and does not mean much, but it is my last name and I can't think of anything better. And, spoiler alert:  my ideas are pretty naive, so the rest of this post will read like an eighth-grade school project.

When did our two main political parties require us to either vote our conscience, or vote our wallet, but not the possibility of both? Listening to some of the crap coming out of people's mouths make me want to just try my hand at running things better than these people. I know it would never happen, but here is what I have going for me:  I am honest, and I am good with numbers. Oh...and I care about people.

See, Bernie Sanders...arguably, the Democratic candidate doing the most talking...is one big sound byte, "Pope Francis has forcefully reminded us that greed, and the worship of money, is not what human existence should be about." Agreed, Bernie! This is one of about sixty quotes I have seen floating around that are attributed to the Vermont politician. What he fails to address, however, is how we are to pay for human existence. Why can't we do it without "money worship?"

And the Republican party...don't even get me started. So, Ben Carson, you don't think a Muslim should be president while the "purist" nutjobs in your party think that Obama is a Muslim as it is? Well, two things come to mind:  first, there are degrees of the religion of Islam, just like there are degrees of Christianity or any other religious sector. Of course I do not want a misogynist homophobic tyrant running things, but that's an extremist view of the Islamic religion. And secondly...on that note...Obama, a Muslim? Well, using the definition the Republican party would like us to see as "typical," Obama would be just about the worst Muslim on the planet, what with his equal-rights, ham-eating-during-high-holiday, socialist healthcare...

Here's what I want. I want a candidate to take the mic. I want him or her to say, "This country is a very complicated machine. There are a lot of working parts, but only a limited amount of funds. I have looked at all of the programs where we are pissing our money away (if Chris Christie can use the words he uses, "pissing" is allowed), and have decided to shut those suckers down and allocate the money to these programs here." (points to white-board with a laser pointer) "The subsidized housing program, commonly referred to as Section 8, has exposed a gap between the poverty line and the middle class. Someone making $18,000 per year is eligible for a voucher, but someone making $18,005 is not. That person will go from receiving $1,043 in housing assistance to zero. Here is how I plan on rectifying that, for anyone making between $18,001 and $26,000 per year." (moves laser pointer to other white-board) "If we cut the Consumer Confidence ad campaigns for the cotton and pork industries by 80%, this will leave us money to introduce a sliding scale to encourage people to get higher-paying jobs, but not fear losing their voucher, thereby keeping people in the workforce and not costing taxpayers extra money. Then, we can..."

And so on.

I read somewhere that Walker dropped out of the race because he couldn't manage his $900 million budget campaign, or something. Whoa. What could this country have done with $900 million from private donors? Oh, and before you blow the whistle on the Republican party for that, you will have to show me that Sanders, and Clinton, and any candidate on the other side of the ballot is campaigning with no outside funds. Don't tell me that this is a rich-people issue.

Herein lies the problem. If you are wealthy enough to donate millions to a candidate you "believe" in, then you can donate that money to a tangible cause you believe in as well.

The Kaspar party will be a numbers-driven, fiscally responsible party that will encourage people to vote their conscience and their wallet at the same time. Oh...you are pro-life so you want to defund Planned Parenthood? Okay then. I need two things from you, though...show me where that money is now going, and show me where people who used Planned Parenthood can go now, even if you are outlining what will happen to the babies that will be born because you (the candidate) do not actually believe abortion is legal, and therefore need an out for the end-result of an unwanted pregnancy. And I don't mean a general statement. Show me. With numbers. And names. Get people to sign HIPPA waivers so you can talk about their medical histories in public. I bet many women would be happy to give it to you. Maybe then, I will believe you.

Show me where my money is going, so I can determine if my heart is also protected in the transaction.

Who's in?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Life Can Scare You

Good evening, everyone. I am exhausted, but I am 100% positive that I can't sleep. However, if you would like to read about yarn stores in Barcelona, this is your lucky day! I just came from there, and I toured the city to save you the trouble of needing to look this stuff up when you go there:


Please forgive me for being vague; you will understand why when you keep reading. That said, if you are reading this, please focus on the details that matter, and not the ones that do not. The context details are just there for that very reason:  context.

I got a call from a shovel buddy this evening, requesting a prayer for my board. Don't know what I am talking about? Okay, then...either go to my facebook page, or follow me on Instagram under @thefiberfriend. I have a prayer request chalkboard, and when enough people have contacted me with a prayer request (usually every day and a half or so), I fill the board, take a photo, and send it out to the cyberverse so that others can get in on the prayer chain as well.

Anyway, this friend told me that their spouse was in the hospital, because the spouse was feeling severely depressed. I asked if this person tried to commit suicide, and was told, "Not exactly."

My friend was worried in a way I had never heard them worry, and I have known this person since grade school. I was asked to maybe call or swing by the hospital, you know, just to make sure this person knows that I love them. I asked if there was anything else I could do, and of course reiterated that my phone is on at all times. I went to the hospital.

"What relation are you to the patient?" the desk nurse asked me.

"Uhh...sister-in-law," I said. Good one, I thought. Then last names don't matter. I was escorted down the hallway. In the next hour I learned more than I had learned in the previous seven years about this couple. I am sharing this with you (and doing my utmost not to violate HIPPA, break this person's trust in me, or anything equally egregious) because you may very well find yourself in this situation one day, and not see it coming.

I was armed with a pretty empty bag, when it came to information:  depressed, spouse worried, waiting to get transferred to other hospital. That was about it.

"I just got tired of faking it."

This is, on the surface anyway, one of the cheeriest, happy-go-lucky, giggly people I know. This person always seemed comfortable in their own skin, happy with life, and accepting of the cards they were dealt. The hug hello was different than the usual hug at the door, however; there was a little bit of a slump before letting go. On both sides.

After staying for an hour, I walked back to the car and my brain shifted into Drive without so much as a pause at Neutral. How brave is this person to choose living another day, over the horribly unpleasant alternative that so many others before them have seen as an out?

How thankful was I that something...I don't know what, exactly, but something...caused this person to pull off to the side of the road, contemplate the next move in a parking lot, and finally walk through the doors of the hospital?

How worried is this person's spouse right now?

And if I feel as on edge over it as I do, knowing how close the world came to losing this person, then imagine what the magnitude of emotion is like inside the head of the person we almost lost?

Depression is not just frightening for the people who experience it. It is a battle for those around them as well, not knowing what may trigger something or change the course of "normal" or even end the life of struggle that their friend, family member, coworker, or peer is feeling. The really frightening part is that none of us can do anything to fix it, sometimes including the person who is depressed.

That said, there is no reason to just stand by the wayside and wonder if things will correct on their own, instead of taking action. One of the main symptoms of depression is hopelessness, so it stands to reason that a viable antidote is hope. No, depresseion can't just be "fixed" or "minimized" by hope, but it is certainly possible that things can get better. Doctors, therapists, pills, techniques, and even lifestyle or environmental changes can all contribute to depression changing its course to a more positive direction. We, who are the support systems for those with depression, can encourage that positive direction, and we can also just be in the room while they figure things out on their own, but see us in front of them.

The person who sought help today is an upstanding, intelligent member of the community. If this person wanted to die, I have to think that they could have figured out a definitive way. Life is scary sometimes, and if being afraid to die is what keeps you from swallowing that bottle of pills, pulling that trigger, or jumping the final jump, then fine. See that bottom, realize you do not want to smash into that bottom, and look the other way to see light closer to the top.

But if you ever get to the point where being afraid to live is what causes you to grab that bottle of pills, I hope (in the best way possible) you have a spouse, friend, family member, or any combination thereof to have the crap scared out of them as well. I hope their fear of losing you is greater than your fear of staying with them. Because life may be scary, but it is the only gift in this world where we can't just end it and start again, hoping for a better and less scary outcome the next time around.

Reach out. We are here for you, and equally important, we are here for each other while we are here for you.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Let the Hate Rest In Peace

Good morning, knitters! We here in Chicago are gearing up for the Chicago Yarn Crawl, scheduled to begin this Saturday. My plan is to show some leg at all of the stores in the hopes of getting free yarn...worth a shot, right? Here is a preview (and understand that almost ALL stores are doing awesome things for the Crawl...I just have a word-limit guide):


And for those of us trying to get through the stifling humidity, here are some suggestions for beating the summer at the knitting game:


Something has been bugging me this week. Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender over three months ago, and the ESPYs (where Jenner was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award) were over two weeks ago. Yet, my social media feeds are still full of memes with a message of "Bruce Jenner isn't courageous...the MILITARY is courageous!" or other messages of that sort.

See, I was an asshole once as well (on this topic, anyway). Back in college, a friend of mine told me about a mutual friend who was transgender, and the conversation went something like this:

"Omigod did you hear about Bob Slob?"
"No, why?"
"Omigod...he, like, went to Europe to have a sex change and now his name is Lisa."
"NO. WAY."
"Weird! Why would he want to be a girl? I never even knew he was gay!"

This of course was twenty years ago, but it was also at a time where validation had to come in three dimensions. Nowadays, you can say stupid crap like "Bruce Jenner puts on a dress and he's courageous?" and then watch the "likes" from like-minded people pop up on your facebook page. The flipside is that ignorance is completely exposed in this format as well. I realized the conversation I had with my friend twenty years ago was out of ignorance, and while I have never been a truly hateful person, I do see a lot of hate stemming from this issue. So I thought I would offer my five-cent tour of being transgender (I am not, by the way, but I used to date a guy whose sister was transgender, and many a conversation was had because the guy I was dating was still getting used to the idea of having a sister instead of a brother). Ready?

First of all, being gay and being transgender are two different things. Saying, "I have friends that are gay, and..." does not hold water in this argument at all. See, homosexuality is about to whom you are attracted. I actually think straight people understand people who are gay, to a degree. But being transgender confounds the minds of pretty much everyone who is not facing it.

Being transgender means your physical anatomy clearly presents as one gender, yet your psyche and your soul present as the other one. This is not just about dressing a different way; there are cross-dressers, drag kings and queens, and even tomboys (yes, some are accused of being a tomboy like a gender stereotype is an unbreakable rule), but transgenderism is not cross-dressing. It is actually the opposite; transgender people believe they are dressing up to please society when they are dressing as the gender they present, not as the one with which they identify. So this is way deeper than "getting some boobs and slapping on a dress."

Transgenderism is not something you can pray away any more effectively than praying away the gay. Or, as long as we are speaking outlandishly, imagine praying away being left-handed...it can't happen. I have a therapist friend in Minnesota (and yes, she is also a knitter) who specializes in transgender patients, and she said that in fifteen years, she has never had a patient that she thought she could "change back." People are born this way.

And it is one hell of a struggle. Parents are doing their best; you enter the world looking like a boy, but insist at a very, very young age that you are a girl. Of course, any rational parent is going to think this is a phase at first, or they are going to look at the rest of your siblings and think "He just wants to be like his sisters." So it's not like all parents come out of the gate with full acceptance that their child is transgender. There is a series of stages to go through, and like most other major life traumas (I do not mean "trauma" in a negative way...just big-impact moments), it begins with denial and ends with acceptance. Some parents never get to the acceptance phase.

My ex-boyfriend's mother...the one with a transgender daughter...said to me, "I still wake up on some days, wondering where I went wrong. I usually know better, but...I mean...I just think I must have done something different with this one than I did with his siblings. Her siblings." And the daughter was in her forties at the time; she transitioned in her late-thirties.

So now, we have a world full of children who are confused about their gender identity, and their parents are not jumping straight to acceptance (how could they?). If this happens at a crucial time in the child or young adult's life, like adolescence, the child may second-guess her existence. This is one of several reasons why the suicide-attempt rate for transgender kids hovers around 40%.

Pronouns are important. Bruce Jenner no longer exists, and her name is now Caitlyn. It is disrespectful to call her Bruce, or a "he," after she has told the world she wants to be referred to as a female, with female pronouns. It is also offensive to call her "gay," a "tranny," or a "drag queen." She is transgender.

I have heard people say "Bruce Jenner is just doing this for publicity." First, it's Caitlyn. Secondly, that is one hell of a life change to make just to get some attention and make some money. Step back a second:  Do you really believe that the Kardashians, and all of their manmade drama, needed to spice things up a bit by asking the patriarch of the family to get plastic surgery on her face and start taking hormones? Really? People do not even take marriage as seriously as people who are transgender choose to live their best life; nowadays, people go into marriage with an attitude of, "If this doesn't work, I can always get divorced." This is not only not an option with transgenderism, but their magnitude of surety on the inside is way beyond some haphazard decision. They are as sure as you and I are sure about what color our eyes are.

To me, this means that two out of every five kids who are transgender contemplate suicide because very few people understand their struggle, they receive varying degrees of support, and they are universally ridiculed by people who really are nothing more than just ignorant. But ignorant or not, ridicule can hurt like a bitch when you are too young or not confident enough to stand up for yourself.

Caitlyn Jenner was once crowned the "World's Greatest Athlete." She could have faded into obscurity and transitioned with nobody but a paprazzi photo or two catching her, but she recognizes that she has a prime platform for raising awareness. If you do not understand, then fine. But what if one of your female kids came to you and said, "Mom...umm...I know I am a boy. I don't care what my body says...I KNOW I am a boy." Your response (among other factors, of course) has a two-in-five chance of acting as a catalyst to a suicide attempt.

Is the hate worth it? I don't think so. Whether or not you understand it is not the issue. But how about we stop letting lack of knowledge translate to hate? Just an idea. I think someone coming out as transgender after forty years in the spotlight, espcially when he was an icon for manly men, is pretty  amazing. And if her speech at the ESPYs results in someone saying, "Thank you so much...I contemplated suicide and then Caitlyn helped me realize I was not alone," to open a dialogue with a parent, then I sing her praises from here to eternity.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Small Business: The Biggest Bitch EVER

Good evening, friends! I posted an article to my examiner.com page this morning, which touched a nerve among my friends in the knitting community. More than that, I am actually hoping it is a wakeup call for some consumers, and it has been shared a few times to some key people who have a stronger voice than mine:


My job involves me catering to small businesses. I would like to clear up some common misconceptions that I hear when I am in stores. Not that it will make a world of difference, but maybe a ZIP code of difference is all I should shoot for. Humans have a funny way of relating when it comes to small talk; people say the same things other people say, but they think they are being clever. It is because, to an extent, there is a large pool of us who is equally clever. So this is what people say to yarn shop owners:

I would love to own a yarn shop and knit all day like that!  Dear customer, I (the local yarn shop owner) knit all day, every day! Just after I pay the bills, order products I hope my customers want, get the bags and receipts/printer paper/tissue paper ready, reconcile yesterday's business, organize the shelves so older yarns look fresh to you when you walk in the door, merchandise the more "seasoned" yarns, figure out which samples need to get made, find sample knitters, come up with new and different ideas for classes to stand out among my peers and competeition alike, and flip through every publication in the world so I am in the know on the latest knitting trends. Oh, and then I have to figure out who is going to drive my kid to soccer practice while picking up the other kid at clarinet, make dinner, call the husband and see if he can pick up toilet paper, leave a check for the cleaning lady, pay my personal bills if I have the money, and find someone to cover for me when I go to my niece's wedding next Saturday, since I only have one employee and she is obviously already here that day. After all that...well...that is when you see me knitting.

I would love to own my own business and not have a boss.  Really? Then do it! The world needs more of us, who are willing to take chances and dive into our passions! One thing, though...it's not for everybody. See, being the boss of absolutely everything means that I make mistakes and have nobody to blame but myself. Funny, though, when I succeed it is because of my employees, customers, group decisions on projects, and a strong community. Being a boss is tougher than it looks sometimes.

You're here all the time! Do you ever see your family?  Yes, I do. However, you see yours more than I see mine, clearly. It is a sacrifice that was mutually decided upon, and in no way reflects how much we love each other. So please quit judging and respect the fact that your family works differently than mine.

Thanks...I'm just going to buy this online.  Let me get this straight:  you came in here, looked a human being in the eye, told them that you window-shopped their store, and now you are going to get it cheaper online? What kills me is that you are going to be shocked...SHOCKED!...when I close due to lack of business.

Why don't you carry Malabrigo/Cascade/Plymouth/Claudia/HPKY?  Because I can't possibly carry everything. Just so you know, I buy this stuff, and then sell it to you at a higher price. That is how retail works. So I can't be a yarn supercenter; my finances depend on how much you and others buy from me.

Jeez, that is expensive! Yarn from Walmart is not that expensive.  True. But Walmart yarn is made of plastic, and ours is made of the hairs of really cute animals. Animals are more of a luxury than something that can be produced in a factory for way less money. Plus, it was hand-spun/hand-painted/designed/created by an artist, versus a machine.

Is this going on sale any time soon?  Well, I am not sure, but let me ask you something:  does it get prettier when it's less expensive?

This is just a few of the questions local yarn shop owners get on a regular basis. But because shop owners are polite, generous, and generally classy people, let me tell you like it is. Small business owners wake up in the morning after having dreams about things going wrong in their store on a nightly basis. Sometimes, it is shipments that come in late, or incorrect, or just somehow sub-standard. Then, they manage employees who make ten bucks an hour or less, with varying degrees of love for the business but certainly not the love that the owner has for it. They almost never go on vacation, because closing means making no money. They worry when the get there in the morning, worry all day even when things are going well, and then worry when they leave. They know that everything from the weather to red light patterns to a stock market crash can affect their business, and they only control a small part. They pour their entire lives into their business, and even when they can look back and see they are a success, they still see their failures loud and clear and tirelessly try and figure out how to turn those little ships around. They are married, with kids, and sometimes even have a full-time job. They are busy, smart, incredibly patient, and they really do appreciate your business.

And yes, sometimes they take it very, very personally when they do not receive your business. Especially if you do not give them reasonable feedback as to why. And the word "reasonable" here does not include you buying it cheaper online; they know you also have a family, but still would appreciate if you did your part to support theirs instead of supporting some nine-figure CEO.

They are the sweetest people ever. But they run the biggest bitch ever. Support them, for they have one of the most challenging jobs on the planet, balancing trying to provide you with something awesome enough so that you cannot live without it, and then in turn using that money to pay for tee ball. A bitch, indeed.

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Fellow Republicans...

Normally, I post something about knitting on this blog, to balance out the life crap that keeps me awake at night. Today, however, I will skip right to the life crap.

I consider myself a fiscal Republican. I am not a radical, Fox-News-watching, gun-toting, Jesus-shoving-down-others'-throats, militant, crazy Republican. If you need to break it down more accurately, then consider me a capitalist with a heart. So my question to the rest of the conservatives in the land is, where are the others like me?

I want to own everything. And I want my money to work for me, and I want others to work for their money so it can in turn work for them. But I also think kindness and fairness need to be legislated on certain, climate-shifting occasions. Not always. Just every once in a great while, when people get so wrapped up in their tradition that they fail to see where tradition no longer fits the zeitgeist.

Two disclaimers:  I do not profess to be anywhere near perfect. And I am about to make some sweeping generalizations. Still, though, I hope you get the point. I do feel like other more "traditional" Republicans would be less up-in-arms over the issue of same-sex marriage if #lovewins and #loveislove weren't trending all over twitter. Liberals are making it sound like an issue having nothing to do with the law, and this angers traditionalists. But at its core, this is about the law, and about money. Or more specifically, the fact that taxpayers are not negatively affected by the ruling.

When I pick my side of politics, I do it by making an effort to read/listen to both sides of the argument. I do not say, "Well, since that is a republican view, I will adopt it." My general rule when I reflect on "Supreme Court Season" is, are we upholding the Constitution of the United States of America? And secondly, who is going to pay the dollars needed for it?

Justice Kennedy, a Reagan-era appointee to the Supreme Court of the United States, wrote the majority opinion on the same-sex marriage ruling on Friday. To the conservatives I encounter who keep saying things like, "I am praying for our nation today," or "There goes the republic," I offer you the following thoughts. I am not trying to sway anyone; this is just how I look at this issue, and others before it.

Does same-sex marriage fall in the category of upholding the governing document of the USA, the Constitution? Yes it does. This issue brings up two main debatable issues, which in this case people think contradict each other:  freedom of religion and due process. Well, due-process is a no-brainer. The states...or at least mine...were on board with that long ago, when discrimination laws in employment not only were enacted, but began to include more than just the Federal Big Five from Title VII. Now, people in Illinois cannot be discriminated against in an employment sector based on sexual preference or disability, to give two examples, and other areas besides the job hunt are regulated as well.

Freedom of religion seems to be the piece people are confusing. Marriage is between one man and one woman, you say? Okay, then. Which religion do you follow, or did you adopt when you were old enough to choose? Because last I checked, granting states the mandate to allow same-sex marriage is a civil issue, and not a religious issue. The law protects me from being turned away at City Hall with my girlfriend and her engagement ring in tow. It does not require all churches to perform all ceremonies. State law does not give a crap if you got married in a church, and state law no longer cares if you are marrying a man or a woman. God, perhaps in your religion, can still care. And your view in that case is not against the law.

Also, the court does not get involved in my pre-Cana class if I get married in the Catholic church, in case you thought the state will pick and choose their level of involvement. Civil versus religious. Done.

So my second mental hash tends to be, who is going to pay for this? I pay $200 per hour for a plumber because in Chicago, any plumber I hire is in a union. Thanks for my forty-hour work week, but I have it now...you can break up your ridiculous club and I would like to only pay how much the work is worth, thankyouverymuch.

Section 8 housing drives me a bit batty as well. I have a Section 8 tenant, and while she is truly lovely, the two other people I know who have a voucher are what I consider abusers of the system. If you are going to tell me that the reason you don't want to get a job is so you don't lose your voucher, then guess what? I don't want my tax dollars paying for you.

But with same-sex marriage, I do not see a sap on my resources. Let me start with my real estate company. I am more likely to get a mortgage if I am married, since couples are seen as a lower risk in the industry than single people. More mortgages means more homeowners, more happy people, and more money being paid back as interest, which means banks can lower their interest rates. Winning!

More marriages mean more wedding planners, bakers, DJs, servers, wedding planners, organists, florists, divorce lawyers (yes, I went there)...and basically fewer people using my tax money to pay for their public aid. Winning!

Married people tend to outlive single people, and they are generally healthier. This means less Obamacare money coming out of my pocket. Winning!

The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage fourteen years ago. My guess is that if that decision had run the country into the ground, we would have heard about it by now.

I am in favor of less government, but sometimes it is necessary for the government to rule on an issue. If you are upset because the government should not have to step in on behalf of homosexual men and women, then please let me know how you felt about Loving v. Virginia. Can you imagine living in a country where you walked into City Hall to get married, but you were turned away because your betrothed was a different race? Neither can I, but that ruling came only eight years before I was born.

My fellow Republicans, hold onto your money as always. But perhaps it is time to change your way of thinking, and keep your eye on the ball. Justice Kennedy, with the second-longest tenure of any justice on the Supreme Court, spoke as a man who wants to uphold the Constitution, but also understands that our forefathers addressed every possible issue they were capable of addressing when they wrote our governing document. Gay marriage is not an issue when you are separating from the Church of England, protecting your borders, and determining if just land owners or if literally everyone (or whatever comes between those two as grey area) is granted basic rights.

We have not watched our republic crumble from this decision; we have just seen yet another decision which has to do with control over that with which you were born. Our legislators and judges have, over the past five decades, ruled in favor of some type of gender equality (Title IX), racial equality (Brown v. Board of Education), disability equality (the Americans with Disabilities Act), and now sexual orientation equality. There is a common thread among these four examples:  not a single person affected woke up one day and chose to be different, and subsequently chose persecution.

My fellow Republicans, break up with your archaic morals and please try to separate that which forms the base of our country with that which forms the base of your ethos. If you think the government did not need to get involved with something like who you are screwing behind closed doors, then you are confusing trickle-down economics with trickle-down ideologies. This is about our rights as citizens of this country. End of story.