Posted in Being human

The things that really matter

There is music that runs through everything.  There is.  And it’s a kind of music that doesn’t require ears — it can be heard, it can be felt, it can happen through any sense.  But it’s music because of the way it falls together.

And when I crochet, I can feel the way the world is woven together, weaves itself together, with every movement.

Walking around, dancing, moving, I can feel the world, I can feel the way my movements bounce off the world and come back to me, I can feel things fitting together.

I have felt that I have become redwood soil before, felt the mycelium inside me, felt all the things growing and changing, the way the world fits together.

This reality, this depth, it is there underneath anything if you look at it right.

These are the things that matter in life.  Or, they are connected to the things that matter in life.  The things that make the world what it is, us who we are, being tiny pieces of this amazing world ourselves.

And when we are forced to see ourselves along one-dimensional lines, these important things drop out of our view, and we’re stuck with ideas and illusions that leave us cold and empty.

Until we can find some way to perceive the things that matter in life.  The love, the connections, the depth, the reality.

And sometimes it’s seemingly little things.  Like wearing your own clothes in the hospital.  Like having rocks.

Mel wearing hir own clothes (button-down shirt, suspenders, hat) in the hospital the other day, with a piece of granite near hir shoulder.
Mel wearing hir own clothes (button-down shirt, suspenders, hat) in the hospital the other day, with a piece of granite near hir shoulder.

But when you’re being forced to see yourself as a collection of deficits and medical problems, or anything else that makes you lose sight of these things, these ‘little’ things make all the difference in the world.

Because the world and all the good things in it haven’t gone anywhere.  It just sometimes feels like they have.  When people are pressuring us to see ourselves in a light that fits nobody, one which attempts to eliminate the core and depth and soul of our existence in this world.

It’s still there.  It’s still there. It’s still there.  All the things that really matter are still there.

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Posted in crochet

Forest fraise (long shawl) crochet project

Photo on 6-13-18 at 7.52 AM #2I’ve been making a lot of other crochet projects lately, and I discovered Elegant Yarns Kaleidoscope wool yarn when I made a shawl for a friend.  They make self-striping wool yarn in really nice colors.  So I slowly got some of their forest-colored yarn and started making this Modern Fraise pattern by Tricia Jones (that’s a Ravelry link, so you may need an account to see it).

It comes in four versions — cowl, short shawl, long shawl, and cloak.

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Sample page from the pattern.  It shows examples of the cowl, short shawl, long shawl, and cloak versions of this pattern.  Ornate text reads:  “Modern Fraise:  Cowl, Shawl, or Cloak.  Modern Fraise is a custom collared garment that is crocheted to your choice of four different lengths.  It can be made short as a cowl or long as a full cloak.  It is constructed using simple repeats of stitches and stitch lengths row by row to create a complex looking garment that is actually quite simple to construct.”

I went for long shawl.  I wanted to make something for myself that I could wear in the cold Vermont winter and actually get some heat from it.  And also that I could wear at times like now, when some of my health conditions make me feel more chilled than I ought to.

It’s finished according to the pattern, but I’m not actually done with it yet.  The original pattern has a way you can put ribbons in some of the openings.  Instead of ribbons, I plan to continue on the forest theme and crochet plant roots or something, and thread them through the same holes like ribbons.  Haven’t got there yet, but planning it.  Given some problems with getting enough steroids through my J-tube (the stoma leaks, I’m gonna have to get the entire stoma re-dug somewhere else), I’ve been freezing in the middle of summer,  So I’m wearing this thing right now, as I work on the final pieces.

Mel wearing shawl, mostly view of top.
Mel wearing shawl, mostly view of collar and top.
Photo on 6-13-18 at 7.48 AM
Full shawl with hands in front.
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Full shawl in its basic shape.
Photo on 6-13-18 at 7.49 AM #2
Full shawl open at front.
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Full shawl with arms pulled in.
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The way it drapes down the side, from high back to low front.
Photo on 6-13-18 at 7.50 AM #2
The back is higher than the front.
Closeup of collar.
Closeup of collar.
Photo on 6-13-18 at 7.50 AM #4
Closeup of front.
Holding up an arm, can see bottom border trim.
Holding up an arm, can see bottom border trim.
Photo on 6-13-18 at 7.52 AM #2
Closeup of front, while holding hands up.
Photo on 6-13-18 at 7.53 AM
Bottom border trim.
Photo on 6-13-18 at 7.51 AM #4
Mel wearing shawl with arms out.
Photo on 6-13-18 at 7.51 AM #2
Mel wearing shawl with arms in.

It’s pretty hard to describe the exact style of this thing, but it has a high vertical striped collar that buttons with wooden buttons, and then uneven horizontal stripes going all the way down.  The colors are various shades of dark and light green, brown and tan, and assorted shadowy greyish-blues.  It really does resemble a mottled forest sort of colors.

I am not disappointed with the comfort at all.  This is soft wool that’s very warm and very suited to my needs right now.  I also used some basic brown wool yarn for the trimmings.

The difficulty of the pattern was… weird.  The actual stitching was not difficult.  But trying to work out what was meant by the stitches mentioned, was.  I did not completely follow the pattern, I deliberately made it larger to accommmodate my size, and also had some accidents with understanding the pattern that I was able to work around without any problems.  The real challenge was just figuring out what was meant by some parts of the pattern, and especially at the beginning I had to rip a lot of things out before I figured out what the intent was.

Overall I’m thrilled with the result and eager to put on the finishing touches of decorations, even though I haven’t decided quite what they’ll look like yet.

Posted in Being human, crochet

My friend can feel her feet.

My friend can feel her feet, and really that’s all that matters.

She spent forty years pretending to be a man.  She has finally come out as a woman and begun transitioning to living in the world as a woman.  Nearly everyone who knows her has reacted similarly — “Oh that makes sense, why didn’t I ever think of that?”

But then there’s the other reactions.

My friend can feel her feet for the first time in her life.  She can feel her body.  She was so disconnected from her body before that she didn’t notice a surgical scar she’d had on her arm in plain sight her entire life.  And now she can feel her feet.

Whenever I automatically feel my feet, it means I’m connected with the world, it means something is going right, I am doing the right thing.  I feel my feet every time I play my grandfather’s violin.

So when she told me she could feel her feet, I knew she was doing the right thing.

Her eyes have changed too.  I didn’t used to really know she had eyes.  Now they are impossible to miss, with tons of emotional depth, range, and complexity.  Strangers compliment her on them.

But some people react to her in a way that makes me uncomfortable.

She’s just trying to live her life, feel her feet, do what she needs to do.

Other people seem bound and determined to explain their theories of gender to her.

They seem to think that her announcing she exists is an invitation to a debate.  (It’s not.  And neither is this post.  If you want to debate gender, do it somewhere else, I will not approve your comments, I will not have a post about respecting my friend turn into a place to disrespect her.)

This is incredibly disrespectful.  She is a human being trying to live her life.  She is trying to live a life where she can feel her feet, have beautiful expressive eyes nobody’s seen before, be happy in her own skin.

Her existence is not an invitation to a debate.

Her existence isn’t the start of a philosophical discussion about whatever you happen to think gender is and how you think it works.

Her existence is not an invitation to explain to her exactly why you think she is how she is.  And what you think is really going on with her.

It doesn’t frigging matter if you understand what’s going on with her or not.

It really doesn’t.

I don’t understand gender.  I understand less about gender than the average human being does.  Because I’m genderless.  Gender identity is a foreign concept to me.  I don’t appear to have one, whatever it is.

But not all the world works like I do.  And not all the world should have to.  And I don’t feel insecure enough about my ignorance that I have to cook up an explanation for everything I don’t understand, and throw it in the face of everybody who experiences something I don’t.

Sometimes you’re not gonna understand.

Sometimes you’re not gonna know why something is so important to someone.

But none of that matters, actually.

I don’t have to understand gender identity to understand that it’s incredibly important to the vast majority of people on the planet.  Including my friend.

I don’t have to know why it’s important.

All I have to know is that when my friend lives her life as a woman, she can feel her feet.  She can feel as if her body is finally a part of her.  She can feel happy and fulfilled and just go about her life without thinking about trying to look male all the time.  She can show the world how deep and expressive her eyes are when she’s not living in hiding and fear.

Those are the only things that are important.

My opinions on gender — if I even have them — mean fuck-all in the scheme of her life.

The ways my experience of gender differ from hers — not important in terms of how she is leading  her life.

I don’t need to insert myself right into the big middle of everything related to her.  In fact the best thing I can possibly do is get out of the way and let her be herself.

If she wants to talk about gender she’ll bring it up.

Her existence is not an invitation to that conversation any more than my existence with a feeding tube is an invitation to a debate on assisted suicide.

Just have some respect.

For my part, I found out that she’s never worn shawls before.  She wanted to try colorful clothing.  She wanted the option to wear things that were feminine.  She’s never had these options before.  (And no, not everything she does and wears is stereotypically feminine.  She just hasn’t had the chance before.)  She loves to wrap herself in blankets, so I told her a shawl is like a socially acceptable usually-triangular blanket you can take anywhere.

So I’m crocheting her shawls.

Every stitch says “I already know you are a woman.”  Just in case she needs a reminder with all the other messages she’s getting.

I’ve made her two so far.  One is purple mohair lace.  The other is a sturdy wool in many bright colors that seem to suit her.  Because that’s the other thing.  Her soul used to be grey and in hiding and kind of reserved.  Ever since she came out, her soul has been all the bright colors you could imagine.  I’m not the only one who has remarked on these changes.

purple mohair shawl 1
The first shawl I crocheted my friend, a lacy purple mohair shawl.
purple mohair shawl 2
Closeup of the lacy purple mohair crocheted shawl with a lighter purple border.
woolshawl01
Mel holding up the full length of a thick wool shawl in bright striped colors of purple, pink, blue, and green.
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Mel modeling the back of the thick wool crocheted shawl in many colors.
woolshawl02
Showing the simple but elegant stitch pattern of the crocheted thick wool shawl in many colors.

You don’t need to make someone shawls to show your respect for her womanhood though.

And you don’t need to understand anything about gender.

All you have to understand is that living as a woman she can feel her feet and everything else.

It really comes down to that.

Not you.  Not your opinions.  Not your ideas about gender politics.  Get out of her way.  This is about her, not you.

Just her.

Living her life.

Which is not an invitation to a debate.

She is who she is.  Grant her the courtesy of treating her like it.

That’s all you need to do, all you need to know.

My friend can feel her feet.

My friend can express great depth of emotion in her eyes for the first time in her life.

Her soul shines in all these beautiful colors that were hidden before.

But look:

My.  Friend.  Can.  Feel.  Her.  Feet.

End of story.  Nothing else matters.