Ever seen a sweater like this?
Now, it’s impossible to say “no”, because even if you hadn’t seen it before, there it is! Ha! It’s called a chunky knit sweater, and I ❤ it.
Earlier this semester, a girl in my creative writing class wrote a story that had nothing to do with a chunky knit sweater, really, but in passing, she described one of her characters as wearing a “chunky, knit sweater”… and RIGHT when I read the phrase, I thought to myself: Yes. THAT’S what I want to wear.
So the next day, I tugged one of the only two chunky knit sweaters I own off of a hanger in the closet and then shrugged it on; deep ocean blue and handed down to me by my best friend, Charlie. Wearing it felt magical.
Fun Chunky Knit Sweater Fact: Jace wears size small… and she can send you her address… 🙂
The things I love most about that sweater and all chunky knit sweaters are:
- they’re comfy,
- they’re loose-fitting (I generally abhor form-fitting clothing),
- they look reaaaaaaaally cool, and
- wearing them, you can pull off the CRAZIEST-looking patterns… like, you might have seven different shapes and eighteen colors (there are that many colors) all splattered onto the same sweater, and it’s not even a big deal. It’s absolutely perfect.
And that’s kind of how this blog post is gonna go. It has nothing to do with chunky knit sweaters, really… but now don’t YOU want to wear one?
I have four short (nonfiction) stories to tell, each one of them unrelated to the rest.
- What the Brooch?
- My Pizza Plate Hero
- Peace DOESN’T = Friendship
- Relationships SOMETIMES = Objects
I was checking out at Nordstrom a few weeks ago — with a dress, a work blouse, or something similar… and whatever it was, it was definitely from the clearance rack, because that is how I roll.
And at the register, my cashier scanned the whatever and then said something I couldn’t quite make out, but it sounded a whole lot like “roach.”
“Roaches?” I repeated, a little stunned. Why were we suddenly talking about roaches?
“Yeah,” she repeated. “It’s beautiful.”
What. the. fuck. is. happening. I searched my mind, my memories, and the depths of my soul as quickly as possible, struggling for a precedent or rule that would help me comprehend this universe where you’re simply checking out with an article of clothing and then someone starts complimenting your least favorite “thing” on the planet.
And then suddenly, it dawned on me. Brooch. NOT roach.
I tipped my head down, taking a quick inventory of myself — Vans, black denim jeans, a worn leather jacket and, pinned just above its left breast pocket, a purplish-red autumn leaf. Aka, a brooch.
“OHHH — A BROOCH!” I exclaimed. Now, she was looking at ME oddly.
“Yes, yes — I also think broaches are beautiful. I got this one at What’s on Second!”
“Oh yeah? Where’s that?”
And then, the universe made sense to both of us again.
My Pizza Plate Hero
For the past week, it’s been exactly as Foreigner said it would be: cold as ice.
And until a week and a half ago, I didn’t know that, to clear up one’s frozen windshield, hot air should be employed. I’d always just assumed cold (because I’ve always enjoyed math and literature — NOT science). And how have I survived this long? Who knows.
Anyways, even with this new knowledge, I found myself in a real dill pickle on Monday morning.
On the very verge of being late to work, I had hurried out of the house, dashed down the driveway, and hopped into my car to discover that the windshield was, once again, TOTALLY clouded with fog and ice.
Sighing, I started the car, turned the heat on (duh), and then waited thirty seconds. Nothing happened.
So I waited another thirty seconds, tapping my foot nervously on the floorboard. But still, there was no change… no improvement in visibility.
Sighing even more deeply, I rolled my window down, stuck my head out the window, and began navigating down the street. I safely made it to the stop sign but realized, once there, that I couldn’t continue on this way.
So I did the only thing I knew to do.
I turned on the windshield wiper fluid, full blast, and let it spritz, spritz, spray for a solid fifteen seconds while my windshield wipers worked furiously, waving left and right, left and right, as frantic as I’ve ever seen them.
Suddenly, to my genuine surprise, a car moving in the opposite direction (with a young man inside of it) pulled up right next to mine. He rolled down his window and I watched his thick eyebrows shoot up.
“Heya, ma’am — you need some help?”
“Oh, noooooo… you’re so kind! I just… this windshield, it’s all cloudy, and I’m trying to see through it,” I explained, nodding my head toward the increasingly slushy windshield and chaotic wipers working overtime. My expert operations. I was so proud of them.
He nodded. “Okay,” he said, unbuckling, getting out of his car, and then fishing around in the backseat of his vehicle.
He reappeared at my window seconds later, a paper plate in his right hand. I caught a brief glimpse of the front of it — soiled orangey-red, like a slice of pizza had once been there.
“Let’s see if this will help get some of that ice off,” he murmured, and then I watched as my pizza plate hero demystified my foggy, icy, fluid-y windshield.
“Ahhhhhhh, I can see!” I celebrated. He laughed.
“Thank you SOOOOOOO much,” I exclaimed. “I’m Jace, by the way,” I offered, sticking my hand out the window.
“Bryan,” he replied, shaking my hand with his.
Peace DOESN’T = Friendship
There’s a person in this universe who is persistently rude to me, despite the fact that, just a few months ago, I confronted them about it, the two of us cleared the air, and we decidedly made peace.
So after this “coming to Jesus” event, every time they’ve made another snide, sarcastic, or cutting remark, I’ve thought to myself… what the hell?! We’re supposed to be past this! How juvenile of them! I am unfailingly kind toward and patient with them, as well as supportive of all of their endeavors — so what the heck gives? WHAT ELSE can I do to make them like me?
And then suddenly, on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon, the answer struck me like a football to the nose (happened in middle school, unpleasant): Nothing. There is nothing that I can do to make them like me.
Why? There are so many reasons! For one thing, certain personalities, vocal pitches, and even faces just irritate other people… so maybe s/he just dislikes my face, voice, or essence. It’s quite possible. People are also impossibly complex — carrying past experiences with them for reference, struggling with known and unrealized insecurities, and often holding their imaginative fiction closer to themselves than they do the plain truth. So their reason for disliking me, or you, could have nothing to do with you at all — it could simply be rooted in their biology, their assumptions, or their fears.
How I apply this knowledge: When you’ve got a meanie in your life and you’ve done all you can to be compassionate toward them, the only thing left to do is to let them go. Stay compassionate, of course — when you have to interact with them, always be kind — but redirect the rest of your time, energy, and attention elsewhere. Because, as likable as you might be, everyone won’t like you, and the wisest course of action in light of this fact is to accept the dislike and move on. And by moving on, I mean quit trying to hold up or patch up a one-sided relationship — spend your time and give your affection to those who do like you instead. WAY better use of resources.
Our time, energy, and resources are all limited, and impacting those around us — either positively or negatively — appears to be the most lasting impression we leave behind. Are the activities I do and the things I think about most days how I want to use and expend my time and energy? –can’t remember the guy’s name
Another tip you didn’t ask for: When someone is mean, I try to remind myself that hurt people hurt people, and that the other person is probably just being a jackass because they’re sad, mad, insecure, or otherwise lacking in peace. So, instead of retaliating, I practice patience. I employ empathy. I strive to show compassion.
And it’s important to remain teachable and objective by asking yourself, DID I do something that was unkind? Is their behavior or speech warranted?, but if – after reflection – the answer ends up being no, DON’T take the blame for their poor behavior or crabby dialogue. Their rudeness or unkindness is just a poorly-wrapped gift that you don’t have to accept.
Don’t carry baggage that someone else packed. –who knows
When you’re forced to interact with the meanie, set healthy boundaries for yourself — don’t pressure yourself to babysit that person’s emotions or blame yourself for their unhappiness — and don’t present yourself as an unmoving punching bag, either. Kindly excuse yourself when needed. Relocate, muster a smile, and practice silence (Charlie taught me this, actually — that silence can be a powerful, but soft, reproof; when you’re silent, you’re letting their cruel words hang there in the air so that they’re forced to replay them). Or you can stop wearing deodorant so that they’ll stay the hell away from you forever. <–my idea. 🙂
The point is, if you’re being your best you and it still isn’t enough, then the problem does not lie with you. Get up and go.
Relationships SOMETIMES = Objects
On Tuesday, I had a productive and pleasant day at work. At home, I immediately slipped into my pajamas while Charlie set to work on dinner. When I was all comfy and cozy, I trekked downstairs and plopped down onto the couch, wrapping a falsa blanket around me, petting Silo’s head and shoulders (he had instantly curled up beside me), and gazing down at Tycho (who, as is her custom, was mourning quietly from a bed on the floor). I smiled.
“You know what, Charlie?” I called out suddenly, looking over at the lovely, potted Cypress tree in the corner of the room. Charlie had strung lights around it the day before and placed it atop a green stool — our “no-kill Christmas tree.”
“I’m so glad that I’m not in a romantic relationship with anyone right now.”
He joined me in the living room. “Oh?”
“Yes,” I breathed. “It was a preoccupying thought for so long! I believed that a relationship would be some kind of magic fix… like, finding the right pair of earrings, buying the coolest coat rack, or collecting the correct number of pots for house plants…” I shook my head. “I’m always searching for that next thing or person, thinking that it or they will complete me, or heal me, or make me happy… and it’s so futile. THIS,” I paused, my arm sweeping the room. “This is happiness. I’ve got warm clothes on, both of my pups within petting distance, my best friend living in the same house as me, and delicious food on the way. I don’t want or need anything else right now.” And I’ve grown so very tired of looking so desperately for something when I don’t know what it is, where it is, what it looks like, and why it even matters.
And even as I said the words, it felt like I was shrugging off a heavy, iced jacket — one that I’d been trudging around in all day.
I’ve often said that, when I DO date someone, that someone must want and not need me. There’s a big difference between the two. I’ve been in co-dependent relationships before, and they didn’t work for me.
“I want to find someone who’s got their shit together and won’t LATCH ON to me,” I’ve said. And I still want this — someday.
But with the mindset I’ve been operating in (pre-profound-realization), I was going to BE that person — latching onto the right guy with the belief that he would supply some crucial, missing something and that this would magically take all of my pain and burdens away… that he would then easily and heroically carry all of my emotional baggage through the life airport FOR me.
But the truth is that I don’t want a hero like that (other than the occasional pizza plate hero). I don’t want to depend on someone else so heavily. I’ve done it before, and it’s a dangerous thing to do. From the present day through forever, I want to always be my own hero. My closest and most trusted companion.
Because the company of another person should make a great day even better — it shouldn’t make the day. And if it’s a bad day… well, when I feel like I’m stuck in a PRISON of some kind (like a sad prison, a pain prison, or a lonely prison), I just have to remember that I am the prison itself, the door to the prison, the lock, the guard, and the key. I can always save myself.
And right now, I don’t need saving at all. I just need another warm sip of this DELICIOUS caramel latte. And maybe a new wallet. Or I could just put less shit in this current wallet.
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