Lips Together, Teeth Apart

Ok, I know it’s the title of a play, but it was my mantra last night…..all night.

If you’ve followed my blog for a long while, you’ll remember I have a terrible problem with my teeth. Bad nutrition for years set in a bad case of periodontitis. I’ve been told by dentists for years that I should take special care, and if I do, I’ll be able to hold onto my smile for maybe another 5 years. Maybe. Usually, once a year, my face flairs up, blows up to the size of a grapefruit. I take the antibiotics, whimper for a week, then when all has cleared and the dust settles, I’m able to go back to my daily routine, my life, my smile. And part of what perpetuates the problem is a terrible habit of grinding my teeth at night. Anyone who has ever slept anywhere near me at night will comment in the morning, “DAMN! That was LOUD!” I often wake myself up in the middle of the night. But, I get it. It’s related to stress.

Last I woke more than usual with an acute pain centered around my right upper molars. That’s the usual spot where my flair up occurs. Apparently, I had been grinding my teeth so bad that I had pushed one molar well up into my gums and the searing pain had me waking and moaning. And that’s when I started on my chant. “Lips together, teeth apart.” And it does work. An hour or two later and I was at it again, waking with a moan and a pain, but would rest my head back down on the pillow repeating over and over, “Lips together…..teeth apart.”

And the last time I did that was somewhere around 4am. I decided to sit up for a minute, scratch Mario’s back who was laying beside me, and pop on some old school. (“Murder, She Wrote”). As I lay there I decided to consider the stress factor, for that’s where the grinding teeth come from. It didn’t take an entire episode to realize where it comes from.

It’s not easy being an independent artist, or writer, or knitter. It’s not easy waiting each day to see if I’ve made a sale to see if I’ll be able to pay the rent, or eat. But, don’t forget for even a moment, that these were the decisions I made. I started all this when I was homeless. I used my hands and my talents with a set of knitting needles to get myself out of it, and it took a few years, but it gladly happened. Happily happened….but, something is missing.

And as I lay there, I realized I was focusing on the wrong stress. It wasn’t a fear of not selling and being homeless again, no it was more philosophical. It wasn’t a fear of failure….it was a fear of not living to my potential.

I have value, and thanks to all of you, I have purpose. I have a life that I never would have thought possible five years ago. When I sold my first bear, I was only hoping to buy a bag of groceries. Now? Now, I get to hear your stories, be a part of your lives, smile with you, morn with you, share ideas with you, I get to sleep in a real bed after having a nice bowl of chili stuck to my gut. And the real stress, I discovered, was that I could do more, but haven’t. I could do more for this community of knitters, but haven’t. So worried about surviving, I wasn’t thinking enough about thriving, and in turn, doing the same for anyone who comes across this blog.

I can do so much more for all of us. I know I can. And I just have to remember when I go to bed, that I’m no longer doing this for myself. I’m doing it for everyone that has read my work and felt a need to say hello, to email me, to contact me with kindness and joy and understanding.

I have all ideas I’m gonna sleep tonight with lips together, teeth apart…and the grinding will stop. I get it now. I get it now. Everything I’ve been working for isn’t just so I can pay rent and buy food….it’s something bigger. There’s something bigger that’s going to happen. And it won’t because of me, but because of us. All of us, side by side like a couple of knitting ninjas with needles in hand, not only surviving….but, all of us thriving. Finally, thriving….

If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate. Every dollar helps!

IMG_1439To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” or a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here. 

 

The Secret Life of Cats

When I first met Phillip, our friendship started on a mutual appreciation for each others artistry. I knit and write, he does stenciled prints.

“About what,” I asked?

His response? “The secret life of cats….”

I took a peek at his work and grew fond of it quite quickly. They reminded me of Mario and her madness. What in the world does she do when I’m not around? What does she think about? What is she conspiring in that little feline mind? Well, Phillip’s prints truly did capture that.

tb,1200x1200,small.2I saw this one print of his and said, “Dude! You have to! YOU HAVE to make this bigger, more. Keep going.” He was developing this story line about a battle between cats and mice, each of them with their own combative agenda, each creature dedicated to the destruction of another. And I fell in love with it. I truly could see the story line happen slowly. But, instead of comic panels, they were done in a pillow, a coffee cup, on a tote bag. There are cats playing…then suddenly surrounded by mice in a sneak attack. Suddenly a battle breaks out.

mug,standard,x400,center-bg,ffffffI was impressed. I truly was. It’s one thing to tell a story, to write about things in the fashion that I do, but it’s an entirely different idea to carry the story from a pillow to a coffee cup. And even more so, the idea that the first print, the tote, was something akin to fashion of the “American in Paris” 50’s, and then the second print, the coffee cup, was an ode to something that reminded you of Batman in the 60’s. Now, I’ve been peeking over his shoulder and I’ve seen the next one, which does remind one of war films of the 70’s.

tpr,875x875,s.62Maybe that’s the trick? I haven’t asked him yet, but maybe each print tells not only the continuing saga of the secret life of cats and their ongoing battle with mice….but an homage to pop culture identity per decade….or maybe, that as time has progressed innocence has been tossed aside for the sake of violence? Will have to ask him about that.

Wow. Good job, Phillip :) So take a peek at his work. I think you’ll find it interesting, humorous and…..might make you rethink the secret life of cats. Just click on the pics to see his work.

Cheers!

Something Like Tartan

IMG_1764I worked up this bear with Lionbrand’s Wool Ease and with all of it’s striping purples and greens and reds, it did end up looking pretty close to something like a tartan. The colors are awesome,  but there wasn’t enough left in the skein to complete the whole bear so I was able to finish him by giving him a white muzzle and bottom paws. I think he came out rather cute, very Scottish, very Highland Games (don’t ask me why, but that’s what I see when I look at him :) ) If you’d like to adopt him, click here. He measures 12″ tall and is ready to ship with a signed card by me. There’s only one!

More to blog about later, but had to get this little guy adopted soon. Have a great day!

IMG_1439To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” or a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here. 

 

Only For Tonight

Anxious (ok, maybe desperate) to get my book out there and raise some funds, I’ve dropped the price of the signed copies to $19.95. Which is not bad, really. What else can I say? Buy my book? Nah, you’ve already heard that, but I thought this would be a nice way to get it moving more.

If you like this blog and would like to see it continue, be sure to donate. Every dollar helps.

IMG_1439To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” or a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here. 

A Celebratory Blog Post

vlcsnap-2015-04-21-10h32m53s104Over the month of April, I managed to sell 25 signed copies of my new book”Will Knit For Food.” Now, some may not think that’s very many, and heaven knows, my share of that amount isn’t very much, but it sure does make me feel good. It gives me the hope that I have a chance, a truly good chance to make this year a really good one. I’ve discussed time and time again that I just can’t knit like I used to because of the nerve damage in my arm. I’m still knitting now of course, but nothing like I used to. And once this year is finished, I won’t be able to knit for a living anymore. So, selling 25 copies made me smile, made me laugh…..made me dance. Yeah, had to make a little video of it because I truly do look ridiculous and these days, I rather like looking a little silly. I’m having fun with my life, I’m enjoying these days because I have so much to be thankful for.

Just think, 4 years ago when I first became homeless, there was nothing, and I do mean nothing, to smile about. And here I am now. I don’t have much, but I do have a little place to live, food to eat, and people that love and care for me. That is so much more than so many people have. And I can never ever be grateful enough for it. That’s why lately my mood seems fun, because I know from experience what that means to never give up on hope. The darkness will lift, as long as you remain true, as long as you hold tight to your beliefs, and as long as you remember, the light of the universe will always be on your side.

Yes, THAT is what “Will Knit For Food” is about. You see a man making great strides in his life, becoming a man and making a way for himself….then suddenly, it’s over, it’s all gone. No money, no home. You find him homeless and living in the woods, and for four years you see him NEVER give up hope, never waver from the belief that he was a valued member of society, that he had a purpose….and near the end of that 500 page tome you see it lifted, it see it all slowly come together with a place to live, a sense of purpose, and a sense of gratitude for all of you that must never be forgotten, for it’s because of you that I have a life. A truly great life.

So, this was something of  a celebratory blog post. 25 copies in a month! Not bad! I’m itching to sell more, of course! I’d love to sell 25 more so I can keep on dancing…..and then who knows? Maybe this month that will cover rent, and next month, rent and electric, and then maybe in a year, I’ll finally have that little white house of mine…. Finally, a permanent place to live. :)

So, watch the video, dance with me. Laugh a little at my jiggy self.

IMG_1439To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” or a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here. 

Derailed….

I will never be able to say the words, “I love working on socks” ever again without cracking up. I won’t ever EVER, I tell you, be able to take it seriously. Even writing the sentence in this blog….I’m cracking up.

You’ll have to see the video to know what I mean.

We decided to do another reading from my book…..and as I read…..I was bored. Now, don’t get me wrong, the passage is great, clever…but, it just seemed…..I dunno, who cares? Me reading another passage from my book. Nice. Big deal. Who wants to hear me say something else about my book? Kinda too “authorish” of me. (Yeah, I just invented a word).  I’ve never liked those kinds of readings anyway. Author before podium, book in hand, sounding serious, sounding literate……Nah, not this guy.

Its an awesome book, a fun book, I just wasn’t in the mood to read it aloud and make it seem prominent or obnoxiously impressive.

Then it hit us…..distractions, foolishness, retakes, the smell of BBQ wafting through the air….and as we looked back, we thought the best part of this “dramatic” reading was not the reading itself, but the joke about doing a dramatic reading. So, we edited nothing out and I never got past the second paragraph, and what you got to see was two things. First, I was real. I was fun and gave hellishly funny looks. I wasn’t reading my prose, I was coy, bossy, and distracted by the smell of BBQ at Pho K-5 a block away. Second, I relinquished my care and concern for being…..taken so seriously.

I’m a laughable, scrawny, gangly fool most of the time. So let it be! Take it! Have fun with it! Enjoy it! I’ve been through so much seriousness, so much that stressed me and concerned me for so long that I’ve finally taken the last couple of weeks to finally laugh, let go, and not take it all so seriously.

So, what you’re about to see is the “rehearsal” of what the reading was supposed to be, but we stopped to eat BBQ, realizing whatever reading I could have done would not even come close to the fun I had torturing Phillip. Another moment of Knitter Vs. Gamer.

So, enjoy the book. It’s a lot of fun, a great piece of work, some of the best I’ve done…and should given the chance to read it live in front of an audience, it would definitely go down something like this video: not taken so seriously, filled with fun, and the abrupt moment of being distracted by food and someone in the corner giggling.

IMG_1439To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” or a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here. 

Loafers With Polished Pennies

IMG_1687So, I was able to whip up this nice little bear with a sweater design using up the very last of the Berroco Alpaca in Brown and the Donegal Wool in tweed that was sent to me from Ireland by Heather Donnelly. In some ways, I think this little bear looks a little vintage and in some way reminds me of that little picture I’ve often seen in my mind of a little boy waiting by the train tracks, suitcase in hand, knee length shorts hit by knee high socks, and loafers with polished pennies. Big eyed he waits for the train, wondering what his adventures will be, terrified inside, but anxious to ride the locomotive for the first time, sitting on his suitcase so he can see out the window as the world whizzes by. And in that suitcase? A fresh change of clothes, his pajamas, and this teddy bear. Yeah…that’s what I see.

He’s a nice plush size, soft to the touch, measures 13″ from head to toe, is ONE OF A KIND, there will not be another one! He’s ready to ship with a signed card by me. If you’d like to adopt him, click here.

IMG_1439To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” or a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here. 

 

Because I Said So

I have felt soooo good the last couple of days. I’ve been so animated and jovial. Big smiled and giggly. I’ve been fearless, open minded, fool hearted, and mindful of the importance of enjoyment. I guess it does all come from breaking free of the restraints that hold me so close to the past, that shedding away the skin of the homeless man is allowing me to grow, push forward, see the future, and take one step closer towards it with every fear I conquer.

Yeah, since going to MegaCon I’ve been so wildly excited about doing anything, going anywhere. Because I saw that I could….and nothing bad would happen. I was ok. I was fine. I was actually happy. :) I do give Phillip a lot of credit for that. He makes me feel safe. He makes me laugh.

IMG_1678I have a lot of books going out today. Had to take a picture of the packages ready to go for the mailman today. Look at that. Five books and two bears. Nice! Oh yeah! And I planted some Crown of Thorns in a pot with some succulents close by. My books sales have been really nice. And I’m so happy that so many of you have decided to snag it. And! If you’ve received the book with a t-shirt, then I need to see pics of you in your “Mad Man Knitting” t-shirt! Oh yeah! THAT would be awesome. I’ll be sure to share them here and on Facebook.

So, if you haven’t snagged a copy of my new book, go ahead! Get one! People seem to really REALLY enjoy seeing the whole Mad Man Knitting story go from start to finish. Half narrative, half diary entries and blog posts. Its quite the read. Click here to snag a copy.

OH! And on Facebook the other day, I posted a video of Phillip and I in our normal routine. Knitter Vs. Gamer. If you didn’t see it, check it out below. It’s kinda cute. You’ll chuckle. :)

Have a great day everyone. And like I’ve said before and I’ll say again, “It’s going to be a great day. Do you know why? Because I said so….”

IMG_1439To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” or a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here. 

 

Going Mega (Part II)

I  successfully made it to MegaCon and back home again. Sounds kinda ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, it’s true. And the only time I truly started feeling glitchy was when we got on the bus, hit the interstate, and moved swiftly out of my safe zone. I crumpled the bus schedule in my hand, took a deep breathe, closed my eyes and then just let it go. Once off the bus and at MegaCon I felt much better.

IMG_1667IMG_1646We got there early, probably just shy of 10am, for Phillip was adamant about taking in the whole event, absorbing every bit and piece of it that he could, hoping to take full advantage of the last 6 hours of the event. Now, since many people show up in costumes, Phillip and I were up for the fun of it. I wore my “MAD MAN KNITTING” T-shirt, with my back packed busting with a skein of yarn, knitting needles, and one of my knit teddy bears. Phillip wore a t-shirt with a Domo (I’m still learning all these anime characters myself) and sported a very swanky mask from the Naruto series.

IMG_1660IMG_1658IMG_1653IMG_1662IMG_1240IMG_1241After getting a few signatures of characters for the bear I took with me, and after Phillip snagged a few memorabilia pieces for himself, we had our fill of MegaCon and went home. We truly did have a wonderful time. The costumes were amazing, all the interesting pieces of memorabilia were fun, and I got to see Lou Ferrigno, Norman Reedus from “The Walking Dead,” and Milo Ventimiglia, whom Phillip kept calling “Peter” from “Heroes,” but whom I knew as “Jess” from Gilmore Girls. Yes, we are from completely different worlds :)

The people were truly great. I’ve never known any gamers, or anime fans, or anything  like that, but what I have learned is that they are generally very kind people. This was their world I tippy-toed into, but no one kept me at bay with gazes or glances or even intimidating stances. Nope, everyone was very welcoming and encouraging. I truly had a great time.

But, the best part of the whole trip was actually TAKING the trip, making the steps to battle back my hindrances, and carry on in this year of transition. That was the best thing I could have done for myself. As a matter of fact, on the bus coming back we passed some mini golf and I popped up in my chair exclaiming, “Dude! If I’ve got a couple of extra bucks, the next free day we have we need to come back and go play some putt-putt!!!!”

The bear I took to MegaCon got a lot of attention. I had a few people come up to me and ask if I had actually knit it. “Yeah! I did! I tell you what! Google ‘Mad Man Knitting’ and you can read all about it!” So, I decided to make up another one when we got home last night. Since I still have 7 skeins left of this really great Ornaghi Filati from Italy, I’d like to go through that stash, sorting of claiming this bear as the one that I clung to as I burst out of my shell. So, each time I finish one, I’ll post them here. I had to share this pic of him with Phillip. Thought it was cute as hell.

Oh! And don’t forget to get an autographed copy of my new book! That truly TRULY helps me out. More than you may think. Ok. Yesterday I got to take the day off and go to MegaCon. Today, I need to buckle down and get back to work! Oh! If you’d like to adopt the bear, click here. He’s ready to ship with a signed card by me. And he’s huge!

 

IMG_1439To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” or a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here. 

Going Mega

Ok, let’s start with my feet. Hold my hand, don’t worry, follow me. One of the hardest things homeless men deal with is a bad case of trench foot. If you can’t change your socks, nor wash your feet everyday, you lend yourself to some serious problems. I was no exception. My feet became deplorable. You can google trench foot and look it up, I won’t show you pictures.

Even after I had the money to move into my apartment, my desire to constantly keep my boots on was some moment of PTSD. I’d wake and put my boots on immediately. It all erupts from a fear, or an understanding, that Mario and I would have to move now, leave now, keep going. No permanence. Even after three years of living in this little apartment, I still had my bag ready, my boots on, a pillow case set aside to stuff Mario in should we have to bolt….as we had before.

Over the course of this last week I started shedding my “issues,” so to speak. I began confronting them. I began dealing with them, rather than making them my eccentricities. Walgreen’s had a pair of simple slippers, the rubber kind you’re aware of. Sole with a strap over the foot. I got some foot medication and then dealt with the harder part. “As long as you pay your rent, no one is going to make you leave…..” So for a week, I would wake, spray my feet, slide on my slip-ons and go about my day. And in that week my feet cured (and look really soft and nice!) and my spirit rested, some nervousness was smashed. I no longer felt the high intensity, hyper tension of always having to wonder if I’m going to have to leave.

The other issue I had to deal with was my agoraphobia. I haven’t left my 10 block radius in three years. I couldn’t do it without flipping out. “Feeling glitchy” as I call it. I’d get white faced and flushed, my heart would race, I’d sweat like crazy and become immobile. “Get me back to my apartment now!” In the last week, I’ve gone further, breaking further, pushing my boundary further and further out. It was all preparation for tomorrow.

Tomorrow? My friend Phillip invited me to Mega Con. (You’ll have to google that, too, if you’re not familiar). But, in a nutshell, a huge convention of comic book, sci fi, and anime fans. Now, I’m not into that, but upon some investigation, it looked like a lot of fun. And once Phillip bought me a ticket, I knew I had to go. It means so much to him.

“Everyone will be dressed as their favorite character, from their favorite book or film,” he said. And my mind went to racing. I can do this. Its a good 10 miles away, which is way beyond my zone, but dammit. I can do it. Imagine his surprise when I said that I was going to not only go, but dress up.

“As what?” he asked.

“Mad Man Knitting,” I replied.

Oh, can you imagine what I’ve done? Ha! Busting out, rather than slipping out. I’m going to Mega Con wearing my usual jeans, boots and ball cap, but wearing my “MADMANKNITTING” t-shirt and carting my back pack, with yarn, needles, and a teddy bear sticking out. Yep! Phillip said I shouldn’t be surprised if I’m approached by people wondering what anime story I’m in. I could only laugh! I’m really looking forward to it! It will be the first time I’ve gone further than a mile in years! YEARS! My camera is charged and ready. We leave on the bus at 8am tomorrow morning.

Now, we didn’t have the money to get autographs and photo ops with famous people. Alex Kingston will be there! I actually really like her! As well as two of the people from The Walking Dead, which would be great. So, we don’t have the funds for that, so instead, this is the bear I’m taking with me. Follow my plan….

IMG_1548I’m taking this bear with me. See my little signature card I have attached to him? Well, I’m gonna get as many signatures as I can….but, they’ll be character signatures. If I see a Wonder Woman character, I’ll ask her to sign the card. Spiderman? I’m gonna get his, too. Batman, Soul Eater, Dr. Who, anyone and everyone that is charactered up well, I’m gonna get them to sign the tag on my bear. And come Monday afternoon, this bear will be shipped out with all those signatures. Would make an awesome gift, especially if its personalized for someone who is truly into the Mega Con sort of thing, or a kid who loves superheros. That would be awesome! So, if you’d like to adopt him, click here.  Selling this bear would truly help out. It would allow me a day to go to Mega Con. And! We’ll be taking a ton of pics of me getting the bear signed while I’m there…..OH! And if you ARE going to be there (they said 60,000 people will be), come find me! Say hello! Say hello! The more friendly faces I have outside my comfort zone, the better :)

IMG_1439To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here. “Will Knit For Food” is only available on this blog. Paperback, 488 pages.

To order a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.