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.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It's Father's Day

Good morning, everyone. And a Happy Father's Day to you who celebrate...by the way, I am talking about fathers. Not single mothers, not people full of resentment and and immaturity who walked away from their families in a misguided fit of irrationality. I am talking about Dads with a capital "D," gentlemen who had a hand in creating a child, raising someone else's biological child as their own, stepdads, uncles, godparents, and any other men who were or are the guiding force in a younger person's life.

I may or may not have collected a silly list of knits for dads, including a set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle golf club covers, for your reading pleasure:

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-best-knits-for-dad-honor-of-father-s-day

My dad is dead. I find it easier to say it that way than to say "he has passed on," or "he is no longer with us." He is biologically dead. And while I am not exactly thrilled about it, he has been dead for over seven years, and somehow or other, my world keeps spinning. It's okay. People die.

But if they did it right, and if you are doing it right, lessons will continue to be passed from one to another. I often find myself thinking, "What would my dad do?" And this is both before and after talking to my mom, and finding out what she would do as well.

See, family has been as hot a topic on this blog lately as knitting, partly because I realize how fortunate I am both in the moment and as I get older for having the family I have. Not only that, though; I was told recently that I could never understand something because, and I quote, "You are not and never will be a mother." The person telling me this was a father. And while I don't live in his house, or set up hidden cameras to document every move of every day, I do know this:  him being a father didn't make him any more of a man than before he was a father.

Anyone at all can be a father. You can just biologically, you know, do it. And poof...forty weeks go by, and the world now has proof that biology works. But to be a good father? Well, that is another story entirely.

From what I have gathered in my (almost) forty years, there are certain traits one needs to adopt to be a really good father. Here is the short list, and of course feel free to disagree with me since I am not and never will be a mother:

Humility:  It is okay to be right, and it is okay to be wrong. But be self-aware in both states, because there are literally over two billion actual biological fathers on this planet, so my guess is there is more than one correct path sometimes.

Class:  Unfortunately, we cannot stop others from judging. But we can make these people take notice of their obnoxious selves by being the bigger person, and our kids will notice this as well. Someone has to be the bigger person; it may as well be you.

Strength:  All humans face things that suck. All of us. Even if you make it to age thirty before losing a family pet, chances are you were next to someone when they received the news that their sibling passed away, or that they got fired, or that their condition can't be healed. If you can say "Why me?" in the same conversation as "Why not me?" and have people come to you for an open discussion about it, then you are there. You do not have to carry the world. You just have to carry yours. And by the way...crying and strength have nothing to do with each other. Men cry. Deal.

Common sense:  I am only going to say this once. If your tombstone should read "His final words were, 'Hey, y'all...watch this!'" then maybe you are not ready to have kids. But if you know that babies need a bit more work than thinking a computer cord is an okay teething implement because it is coated with rubber, then you have a chance.

An open mind:  Are you a racist? Bigot? Homophobe? Misogynist? Then newsflash:  your kids will pick up on that. When they are old enough to decide for themselves, they will either choose the same path, or defiantly choose the opposite path. But there is no telling, so just save them the trouble and accept that not everybody is like you. Make it easier for them to love everyone by showing you can find a way to love everyone as well.

Positive:  You do not have to be Stuart Smalley. But it would be nice if your kids came to you and said, "I did THIS today!" and instead of shaking your head in disapproval, you were excited for them. If it is truly morally offensive, then it is okay to say, "That's great that you were able to discover today! What you discovered is pretty bad, though...here's why." If you constantly disapprove of your kids' decisions and discoveries, then you are teaching them to lie. Simple as that.

Encouraging:  Get your kids to learn stuff! Teach them stuff. Show them stuff. Explain stuff to them. Kids are sponges, and from about age three, they tend to mid-term (meaning not short-term and not long-term) remember absolutely everything. Don't believe me? Look at the kids you know who learned English after moving here in kindergarten, versus learning English after moving here in high school. Which one has an accent? Kids need to discover. Far be it from you to shield them from everything...let them discover the good and the bad, and help them to learn the difference.

There are many, many others. But as I look at the good fathers I know, they all possess these traits. Feel free to leave others in the comments, and I will approve and post them for you. Oh, and for an audience of one:  keep up the good work. They are really great. You are really great. And the rest of them will learn some day. If they don't...well...then the kids will make their own decisions on who gets to stay in their lives, and who gets to go.

Here is my favorite picture of me and my dad:


Friday, June 12, 2015

Choose Your Family

Good evening! First, we must get business out of the way. June 13 is World Wide Knit in Public Day, and there are a ton of fun events going on around Chicago. Peruse the list, head to the one that sounds the most fun to you, and knit away!

http://www.examiner.com/article/world-wide-knit-public-day-brings-crafters-literally-out-of-the-woodwork

Now, where was I? Today, I was having a conversation about how, in some cases, grandparents are not really necessary. It began as a discussion of anger toward family members, and who shares time with whom because of obligation, But it ended on the topic that the word "family" is not all blood-ties and happy photos.

My facebook page leaves many, many details to the imagination. I see facebook as a way to sort of make people chuckle with the anomalies of the day, and perhaps a place to let loose with the underlying assumption that what people read is not 100% of the picture. As an example, I go back to late summer of 2013 when someone who shall remain nameless (this is a bow to him referring to me as "she whose name shall not be spoken") was dragging his heels in moving out of my house. I posted a status update on facebook which read, "Is now a good time to mention that I have been divorced for months?"

Best reply ever:  a friend from high school posted along the bottom of that update:  "Is now a good time to mention that I didn't even know you were married?"

So I do not plaster every detail of my life on facebook. I also do not try to paint an inaccurate picture to mislead people...I don't burn enough calories deciding what to post on there where I want to make an effort to make myself look either better or worse than I truly am. Very few things make me more queasy than seeing someone's facebook page full of happy hugs and snuggles with their spouse and kids, when I know the back story and this picture they paint is actually like a photo negative of reality. I knew a girl once who was so horribly abusive to her husband that he finally was strong enough to leave, but her facebook page was photo after photo of her "wonderful hubby and gorgeous children" smiling and laughing away. If I look back now, I see how fake his smiles were.

Anyway, I am fortunate to have a pretty fantastic family. We are far from perfect; three of the five kids are divorced, most of us have lived with our parents more than once, our choices have not necessarily been the stuff of legend...but we are pretty great as a unit. But there is a difference between "my sister-in-law" and "my brother's wife" (brothers:  don't get the wrong idea...I think you all married quite well). One is stating someone as a member of your family, and the other is stating someone as a member of their family.

Both are okay. Grandparents often flip out in the best way when they become grandparents. Other times, though, people go weird. Sometimes, it is the grandparents who question every single decision of the parent, which is their son or daughter. Other times, it is the son or daughter questioning the decisions of his or her parents. Ironic, since most of us think we turned out okay, to question our own parents like that when they are watching our children.

I do believe family is absolutely necessary, but I do not believe that the role of "biological family member" comes with guaranteed entry into certain levels of either closeness or privledge with the kids. I had a friend tell me this week that she thought of me as her honorary daughter-in-law, because her actual daughter-in-law was a disappointment. I am not married to her son, but she chooses me and I choose her.

If more people put emphasis on each other instead of themselves, then maybe the family you inherit and the family you choose would overlap more often. Until then, however, it is okay to look at your closest friends and call them "family." They are, after all, the ones with whom you want to spend the holidays. Right?

And while it would be nice for some kids to have four grandparents (or, in my family's case, eight), the number could be zero if it is healthier for the kids to not be around them. What is best for you? What is best for the kids?

"A kid needs his grandmother." No, he doesn't. He needs unconditional love, boundaries, fun, adventure, encouragement, and maybe a bit of spoiling rotten with ice cream and gummi bears. But that can come from your best friend as easily as it can come from your mom. Accept your family for who they are, choose your family for who you want, and just remember to choose wisely. "Family" is the group of people who makes you feel like you belong in the middle of all of the chaos, and the dust on their heads will be the same amount as the dust on yours when it settles.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Stress of Game 7

Hello, fellow knitters and hockey freaks...this is what I was working on at sunrise this morning:

http://www.examiner.com/article/knitting-through-game-7-of-the-western-conference-finals

A Game 7 will give even the toughest of sports fans palpitations, but tonight seems even more stressful, for some reason. I have been combatting an economic downturn while in a sales job, tenants who seem to have pipes that do not just flow water from Point A to Point B, accusations of irrational crap like people selling drugs because they are not white (I am not the one doing the accusing or being accused), starting a prayer chain for a woman who hates my guts but refuses to talk to me, and other stuff I would rather have eradicated from my brain.

So, my way of handling things like this is a balance of "handle it" and "turn the karma around." So now is my week to be even more charitable than normal.

I usually do silly things, like buy the Starbucks order for people behind me. Every once in a while, it backfires and fills me with amusement after the five minutes of initial bewilderment. But little teeny weeny random acts of kindness, in my humble opinion, keep the world in balance. So there is that.

This week, though I am actually fundraising, which takes work. It takes promotion, diligence, and a core group who all believe in the mission of the organization. The good news is that you do not have to like me to like my causes. Take Imerman Angels, for example.

http://imermanangels.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=1701

See, Imerman Angels partners cancer patients, caregivers, and survivors with people who need one-on-one support. They have a database of people based on what type of cancer, the person's age, who was affected, and many other factors, and they use this database to partner with others who will be going through the same struggles, and the matched people offer support for the journey. Just a lovely group. I have been partnered with two people to offer support so far, and I would pretty much promote any event they have.

My fortieth birthday is July 12, and it is a Sunday so I have decided to celebrate all weekend. On July 11, I will be walking in a 5k and raising money for Imerman Angels. If you would like to either walk, donate, or both, let me know.

Then, the organization that has been a piece of my life since I was born will be getting a check from an enjoyable fundraiser I am doing.

http://www.ebay.com/cln/fraudvixen/ahiha-bobblehead-fundraiser/207631305019

The American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association is a non-profit hockey camp for hearing-impaired and deaf kids, and it was founded by two friends of my dad:  Stan Mikita and Irv Tiahnybik. In the past, I have sold raffle tickets and auctioned off the chance to shave my head for them, but this year, I wanted to do something that will benefit hockey fans as well. Through next Friday, I am holding an auction on eBay to raise money for them, and the winning bidder will walk away with one of seven bobbleheads, or a 32" LED flat-screen television.

Hopefully, people will benefit, and I get to feel good for being a do-gooder. Everyone wins! Happy knitting, everyone.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Let Me Live My Life

Good morning. As complicated as I may be because of my personal journey (aren't we all?), I am actually quite simple. When it comes down to it, here is who I am:

A knitter. Business owner. Sister. Daughter. Stepkid. Aunt. Girlfriend. Investor. Advisor. Imperfect. Sound. Generally ethical. Wealthy. Optimistic. Emotional. Objective. Passionate Chicago Blackhawks fan. Slightly messy. Tall. Survivor. Reliable. Painfully honest. Classy. Good at keeping secrets. Listener.

You want me to catalogue my flaws as well? Okay.

I swear too much. Eat too much chocolate. Make my birthday the most important day of every year and yet don't make an effort to wish everyone ELSE a happy birthday. Procrastinate. Don't give a crap about my looks. Talk too much. Forget important deadlines. Don't get motivated by the approval of others.

Except for one person, and it is starting to wear on me.

Well, I am not seeking her approval...just her acceptance. We don't have to go out for coffee every week, but being welcome in her home would be nice, even if it is just to wait in the front hall for a couple of minutes while my date finishes primping.

I am fortunate in the sense that, through both birth and marriage, I am the last of five kids. This means that if my parents wanted to try something out on one of the older ones, I received the benefit of refinement when it came to them helping to shape me into an adult. Families with fewer kids do not have this benefit.

That said, I look at the five of us and how we turned out. Brother Number One is getting married for the second time in two weeks to a lovely human being, and he is a successful man in his own right. Sister Number One is married to her second husband, and she is a great career woman and stepmom to two beautiful young ladies. Brother Number Two is married, has two cute kids and a cute wife and a cute house and two cute dogs, switched careers and is heading back to college. Brother Number Three is a successful grownup with a wife, two silly little boys, and a generally pleasant existence full of humor and love. What more could we ask for as a family?

I know that much of it has to do with our parents. There are four of them total, with Dad of course passing away almost seven years ago at this point. Three of the five of us are divorced. I have not been privy to every conversation ever had in the family, but I do not recall any parent telling us, "I do not approve of your new fiance, and I will make it that much more difficult to see this person because of my personal feelings." If my parents didn't like Bert, Helen, or Mike, they never told us...they let us live our lives and we always knew they were there for us if we needed them.

I have a successful business, but I had a failed business as well. Even now, my stepmom told me recently, "I think you just opened too soon." Never, out of any of the four of them, did I hear, "You need to try doing this or that, or your coffee shop is going to fail," and then later, "See? You failed because you didn't listen to me." When I closed the coffee shop, the feeling I received was more like, "You did your best, we love you, and we are proud of you for trying."

If I came out as a lesbian, I would be supported. If I came out as transgender, Democrat, Atheist, Carnivore Flip-Flopper, tree-hugger...whatever...my family would support me whether or not they agreed with me.

When I arrived at Easter dinner, my mom said, "Where is Alex?" Alex's parents live in Michigan, so when there is a holiday that involves a traditional family dinner, Alex is a member of our family. It did not dawn on my mother that he may have had other plans; he is a straggler, and stragglers are always, always welcome, even at the very last minute. The front door is open.

Even if you are in the process of leaving your wife, and you are seeing someone before the ink is dry on the divorce. You are welcome, and the front door is open.

If my family didn't agree with me seeing someone who was technically still married, I had no idea. Because disagreement (or disapproval) and lack of support are two different levels of loyalty. I can't imagine anyone in my family agreeing with my decision, but they support me, and the man is welcome in the family. Not just tolerated, welcome. Because instead of getting caught up in one single moral, my family is excellent at stepping back and knowing that everyone has their own story, their own struggles, and far be it from them to do anything but allow them to live their lives as they go through their personal journey.

There are a few exceptions, but beyond excessive illegal drug use and physical/emotional abuse, the list is very, very short.

The person who does not "approve" of me, I am sure, does not give a crap that she is affecting my life. Why would she? I am obviously not an acceptable child of god if I can't keep my hands off of someone. But by affecting my life, she is also affecting someone else's life twice, because now he feels he needs to be there for me when I am upset. He is in the middle. And nobody should have to choose sides when it comes to relationships; I and my ex-husband share a few mutual friends, and that is not only okay...it should be encouraged. The judge does not arrange custody of anyone but minor children; be an adult, love who you love, and develop the friendships which enrich you even if they are becoming half of an ex-couple.

Also understand, she is who she is. She is a parent, and she wants what is best for her kids, and she does not think I am "best." Okay, I get that. But I am really not that bad. I grew up in a world where it was okay to fail, okay to go off the rails to look for a better path, and to backtrack on one decision only to end up following the original advice of one of my parents. She is a great parent. But she is affecting my life, and I do not appreciate it. However, I know that since she is a great parent, the problem about her affecting my life is me. Not her.

My apologies if my decisions are incompatible with your views, but here is a news flash:  that means that your views are also incompatible with mine. The difference is that I let you live your life. I avoided you on St. Patrick's Day, never call your land line, and generally do not want to upset you. I do not agree with you, but I support your decisions, and I will continue to support your decisions with one tweak:  let me live my life, and I will let you live yours. If I run into you, I am sorry, but my mother raised me to face things. And I will face you as a woman, a good person, a sound decision-maker, and a classy human being. You are always welcome in my home.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Be A Superhero

Good morning, and happy Monday! Did any of you go to Windy Knitty's fourth anniversary party this weekend? I saw the photos on their facebook page...too cute for words, those little knitted roses.

I watch Grey's Anatomy every Friday morning at about 5:45am on the internet, since I don't own a television, and the episode from two weeks ago had a moment that sort of spoke to me. Here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yNfKRE57ag

Silly, obviously. Television is fiction. But I needed a moment like this, because last year, I was in my second major bike accident. By "major," I mean "one which landed me in the hospital." Interestingly enough, I was in the hospital on June 24, 2008 and again on June 24, 2014. I now know which day to avoid when choosing bike-ride days.

Anyway, it was a fluke occurence; I was riding home from my brother and sister-in-law's house on the night of June 22 when I went over a piece of missing concrete. Apparently, something on the road was repaired, and it went over the bike lane but was not repaired and sealed properly. To my left was a row of moving cars on Addison Avenue, and to my right was a row of parked cars. I was actually in the designated bike lane; it's not like I was swerving into the middle of the street for fun.

My tire was the most tragically perfect size for the fifteen-inch-across divot in the road. I saw it from probably sixty feet away, stood up on the pedals to go over it, and SMACK. I popped my back tire. No biggie...this was nine blocks from my house at this point, so I just walked the rest of the way. I was slightly groggy the next day, but the following night, I was unable to move.

I drove myself to the hospital, figuring public transportation would not be such a good idea. even lifting my toes to move from the gas to the brake was miserable. I arrived and was promptly evaluated and given a cocktail of all sorts of fun pain meds and muscle relaxers, and the poor nurse kept saying to me, "What position is most comfortable for you while you wait?" I did not have a solid answer for her.

Finally, I rested on my side and found that if I did not move anything but my arms, I was okay. I called a few people for a ride, because of course they would not let me drive while whacked out on all of the meds, and I ultimately exchanged pizza for a lift from Jesse. It worked out for both of us.

Two weeks later, I was still in pain. According to the doctors and personnel at the hospital, I absorbed the impact of the hit from my feet to my middle back, so I was experiencing severe whiplash in that whole area. It was like someone hit my core muscles like a nail into a board.

All summer, I would look at my bike on the weekends and think I should get the damn thing fixed. I was spending almost half my time in Minnesota, walking at night after work, and of course Minnesota is a state which practically begs you to ride your bike. I missed out.

Finally, four weeks ago, I got it fixed. The alderman for the part of the city where the street gaffe was had made sure a repair was made within two days of me contacting him. It was me that was still broken. But on this past Saturday, I finally got on the thing after being a superhero for five minutes.

It was glorious.

I only went sixteen miles on three separate tour legs, but I felt great. Seriously.

I was talking to a dear person on my bluetooth on the last leg of the ride, and he said, "I am so proud of you for getting back on your bike!" I could hear him beaming on the other end of the phone. In case I was not sure yet that it was the right decision to finally get back on, that little moment solidified it.

Tomorrow, I will be a superhero when I face someone who, I am told, wants to give me a piece of her mind. Separate from my superhero-style confidence, I am just hoping she is pleasantly surprised by how the conversation goes. I will of course have my knitting needles on the ready, but not as weapons; I will want to minimize the risk of using the f-word inappropriately.

I am a superhero.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Not My Llama

Hello, friends. First thing's first...it is getting warmer out (maybe), so here is a brief summary of which stores are hosting what knit-alongs (KALs) in the Chicago area this spring:

http://www.examiner.com/article/fun-spring-knit-a-longs-are-popping-up-at-your-local-yarn-shop

That said, there is this fantastic Polish idiom which reads Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy. In other words, "Not my circus, not my monkey." My friend PJ's version of it is "Not my llama," but the message is the same:  whatever it is, it's not my problem.

Drama, believe it or not, is a choice. Bad things happen every day of your life. Drama is what comes of handling everyday life events, mostly bad but sometimes even not-so-bad, poorly. One thing drama is not, I assure you, is a given. If you say drama follows you around, or you have no control over the drama surrounding any situation, then you are choosing incorrectly.

Did you get fired? Did your boyfriend leave you for someone who looks just like you, only younger and "less complicated?" Did your basement flood from all of the melting snow? These are all very valid reasons to be angry. Sometimes, life just sucks. Not only that...sometimes, all of these things happen at once, and life sucks threefold.

The question is, how are you handling things? If you put it in Park to spend your day festering over the details, and then calling all of your friends to reiterate all of those festered details with no goal of getting them resolved (at least in your head), then therein lies the problem. We cannot stop living when bad things happen.

So here is what drama does to people:  for the people who create it, the drama prevents them from actually working through any problems, and then ultimately moving on from them. Not a great way to live, considering we all have obligations. Drama is what invades our lives and creates a wall between what we are doing, and what we need to do, and a holding pattern is not a healthy way to live.

It causes unnecessary anger. And anger kills people. And not just the object of it, either...people who are perpetually angry are raising their blood pressures, creating undue stress, and making things worse by not fulfilling those life obligations, so they are basically getting behind in life and leaving a poop-storm in their wake. Drama also tends to exploit things that, in the grand scheme of our seventy-plus years here, are really not that big of a deal over that span. Why waste more than the minimum amount of time being angry, when another major life event or milestone is just around the corner?

Here is what drama does to others:  answering the phone when someone has to bitch about the same thing for the hundredth time is now causing both people to stop being productive for the hundredth time. The person answering the phone can see the Drama King or Queen's name on their caller ID, and they will ultimately have one of two choices:  answer and be less productive, or slowly cut that person out of their lives.

So, either someone's world temporarily stops turning for someone who is not properly dealing with their life problems, or the person who is not dealing with their life problems will have no "friends" left. Drama is very isolating.

This may surprise you, but while most of us want to be there as a friend, there is actually a limit before we finally have to intervene and find a polite (or blunt, depending on the nature of the friendship) way of saying, "I'm sorry, but I do not have time for your crap today. Not my llama. In fact, nobody does...on a related note, have you thought about talking to somebody?"

We are not necessarily equipped to deal with everything life hands us all at once; that is why there are professionals out there. Support groups, therapists, volunteers...basically any number of people whose sole purpose is to help you get through things. Your friends and family are there to listen, but not fix you, and if your drama is interfering with their lives, they can either choose to guide you to the right help and make both of your lives better, feed into your drama and make both of your lives worse, or steer clear of you and make their own life better. They can't control the person swinging the drama.

See, the stuff creating the drama is the problem of the person creating it, and not the person causing it. So your husband spent your kids' college fund on hookers? Get it out of your system once, regroup, and move on. If you are hashing it out endlessly for your girlfriends and then complaining that you no longer have any money because of it, then you are fostering drama. Congratulations to you. Now do something about it. Your problems are not my llama. They are your llama.

Look around you...we all know someone who really, really knows how to bring the drama. So ask yourself:  how many calories do they burn on things that should not concern them? How many minutes (or hours, even) are taken away from happiness with their families, raising their children right, loving their spouses properly, or fostering healthy friendships because they are too busy incorporating what others are doing into their daily conversation?

Oh, you claim you do not know anyone who does that? Well, like I said...we all know someone who does it. So if you say you don't know people like that, then guess what? It's you.