Watch Out, Anna Wintour

So, I’ve spent the day working on my first article. Still not going to tell you what the topic is 🙂 However, I do think that you’ll find it an intriguing and contradictory article to what you are USED to seeing about knitting. I didn’t want the article too long, but succinct, concise, informative and to the point. Get in, make a case, then bugger out. The article is almost done, but I’m taking a clue from my AP English teacher from back in high school. “Write it, let it go for a day, then come back to it in the morning with a new set of eyes.” So, I’ll be publishing it tomorrow. I like writing in a different way, different from what I’m accustomed to; my usual sort of free form, contemplative stream of consciousness approach. Sometimes finding some discipline in your craft is a good thing. (Did I really just say that? Sorry, Martha!) 🙂

In the meantime, we have GOT to find this little tiger a home. Fast. He’s been sitting around here talking about hanging out with “all these bears,” and how he’d really love to find a home of his own. Now, I know it takes a special person to love a tiger, but tigers do need love to. So, help this little guy find a home. To adopt him, click here.

Looking forward to my first article tomorrow. Wouldn’t be amazing if it got shared like….a billion times and we get this magazine concept off to a great start? Oh, watch out, Anna Wintour!!!

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And it hit me. Just like that. I don’t know what I was watching, what I was doing, what was happening. I just remember grabbing a pen and a piece of paper and began jotting down notes, headlines, topics. Ok, let’s back up a moment.

Last night Phillip and I were sitting on opposite corners of the room. He was watching his thing on his laptop, I was watching mine. There was nothing testy, we were actually having a great time being in separate corners. But, there was this feeling in the room. Trouble with the late fees from our rent that haven’t been paid, trouble with the insurance, trouble with gas, trouble trouble trouble. And I’m tired of trouble. But, I’m not yet tired of my dream. Hell, from homeless to this point? You know I have ambition, you know I claw. It can be exhausting, though. And my agoraphobia just gets worse with it. Oh, yeah, the more stressed I am, the less I leave the apartment. 20 minutes per day is my max for the moment. Then I have to get back home fast. I start to get pale and glitchy. I start telling people what is wrong with them. “You’re walking OUT the IN door….”

So, I was pushing my brain into thinking, “Where do I go next? What do I have to offer?”

And THAT is when it hit me. A year ago I had wanted to turn this blog into a magazine. Yes, I wanted to invite other voices, interesting topics, op-eds of a different nature. We got sidetracked with “KNITTER BE DAMNED.” Now that the show is over, my brain started racing again. Because of all the commodities I own, this blog, this writing, this place where we engage and communicate is truly the one thing I stupidly forget about. We have 13,000 followers, about 1,000 to 3,000 hits per post, and a great core of readers that actually do get involved. So, why am I not utilizing this? Good question, Gregory Patrick. You’re probably too focused on the forest and not on the tree you’re about to run into. This blog has been my lifeline and for some reason I forget how valuable it is, or can be.

So, the show is over. My teddy bears don’t sell for they once did, if they sell at all. I have NO idea how well my books have done until the end of the month. So I’m retreating back into spaces I know best. Writing, sharing, voices, words.  This space, this frail little space on the web could be a great platform for information, for laughs, for truth, abundance, richness, and community. We find a new audience that hasn’t even heard of us. Or me….No! Us.

We can start out by saying each day of each week has its own category. For instance, Monday will be “the business of knitting,” Tuesday would be “Don’t forget your health,” (because I firmly believe knitting CAN kill you if you’re not careful), Wednesdays would be “Recipes for the broke or busy knitter,” reviews on what to binge while you’re crafting for long periods, how to charge for your work and pay taxes on it. All kinds of things. And an Op-ed piece by one of my favorite bloggers. (I hope she accepts the challenge. She has guest blogged before and would love her sardonic and slippery prose right here on a regular basis). And all of that would be so different from what other online knitting magazines or blogs do. We’d be different because it wouldn’t always be candy coated and pretty. They spend so much time writing about knitting, that they forget about the lives of knitters. This magazine would be about the real life of knitters and crocheters (crochitters unite!) and the REAL world they live in, not the one they’re told to aspire to. I mean, there are some serious (and so many FUN) topics out there that people in this world of yarn understand at the core.

I am really REALLY looking forward to this. But, it will involve you being supportive. Reading, sharing, caring enough to see it evolve, work itself out, move into new plateaus and supporting us on this new journey. I mean think of it. How constant knitting affects relationships. What ARE you allowed to talk about in knitting groups? SOOOO many things started falling from my head that I started tripping on them on the way to sit here and write this blog.

So, let’s get started. We’re going to need your help. First post will be tomorrow. I want to do it today, but I want to take the journalism aspect seriously. I want my first article to have links to sources, quotes from experts, and serious research. I won’t tell you which article it is. But, bless me and pray this idea is finally my winner. But, we’re going to need your help, if you believe in us.

Now let’s quote Joan Crawford, “Let’s get to work!”

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Portrait of a Knitter

Now, take a good look at the madness on my desk at the moment. If ever there was a self portrait, or “life of the artist” shot, that would be pretty close to it this Saturday morning. Knitting up tons of bears to sell, my glasses, my rosary, and there in the back is a huge bag of tea bags. I’ve always been a coffee guy, but when I got sick I was told to cut coffee out, switch to tea with massive doses of honey and lemon. Wasn’t bad. But, even though I’ve started getting better I’ve acquired a taste for it, although I have been slipping coffee back into my cup. Only about 2 cups a day, but man, do I love those precious two cups more than anything.

A note on last night’s post about our late fees. You all know I’m a determined spirit, a fighter who doesn’t go down easily. The monsters I face these days are financial, as they were when I was homeless, as they are for many people. But, the difference is, I have a place to sleep and food on my plate when I fight those demons now, which is something I didn’t have before. My health could have gotten worse, we were prepared for that. But, it didn’t, thank God, and we’re grateful for that. Phillip is working and his employers appreciate him. I have clean socks to wear. I have yarn at my disposal. I have something to eat on the stove. I have someone who loves me resting up from his third shift. We have much more going for us than many people do. And more importantly, like I mentioned at the end of my post, we have hope. These financial set backs are always paralyzing and can cause panic, but…..I promise you, world, it won’t be forever. I’ll be on top of the game, will accomplish my dreams, will remind any naysayer, “I told you to have faith.”

I plan to do amazing things. I plan to have my little “Honeychurch.” I plan on being in a position to one day help as many people that helped me. So, step one? Make it happen. Like I’ve always done. Up at the crack of dawn knitting my little heart out, bring to life bears that save me from total financial ruin. No hesitance, no disdain, but a clutching fist at a rosary and a cup of tea to guide me. So, go to the shop, grab a bear, grab a book, grab a pattern. I plan to show my landlord I’m committed to erasing our debt to her….one bear at a time.

Casting on!

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No One Will be Able to Ask Us to Leave

Oh, so quite a few things to write about tonight. Not quite your “week in review,” but….quite a few things on my mind. As many of you read, we’re closing down our “KNITTER BE DAMNED” show on youtube. Oh, the episodes will still be up, but we won’t be doing any new shows. We had a companion facebook group for the show, and that is being dismantled, as well. Now, I might have already listed the reasons why letting go of those things was important, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be. Change is good. But, as my wise old uncle used to say, “Change is good….of course, the whole dollar is always better….”

Sometimes change is forced, sometimes decided. It was harder than I thought to make that change. But, I feel better for it.

Next up. The landlord came to pay a visit. She was very cordial, very kind, but very honest. We’ve been paying rent, of course. But, we’ve been paying late. And for every time we are late, we’re slapped with another penalty. And the penalty has gotten the best of us. And be mindful when I say “late” I mean rent is due by the 3rd….and sometimes we’d pay on the 4th or the 6th. She said, “We know you’ve been sick the last few months and we just want to figure out how to get this under control….because we don’t like to evict anyone….”

I just made myself depressed. If they don’t get paid on time, there is a penalty. And those are the rules and that is my responsibility. We’ve been here for three years. I had hoped we would leave one day moving into our own home, having moved forward, not into the past, leaving on good terms with no mess behind. Somehow, some way…..something I write is going to do well….and something I knit is going to be wanted by everyone on the planet…..and I won’t ever have to worry about this again. My next set of keys will be to a home that no one will ever be able to ask us to leave…. We’ll make it through this. Like I always say, you have to rely on hope.

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The Letter to My Former Friend

So, I wrote said letter to former friend last night. If you have NO idea what I’m talking about then you really should read my previous post. But, for the rest of you that DO know what I’m referring to, I took some of your advice. I didn’t send it, kept it to myself. Now, I won’t share the letter with you because it is rather personal, but sending it or not didn’t seem to matter anyway. I have a feeling she saw last night’s post, although she admittedly repeated over and over, “I don’t read your blog.” I just have this sneaky suspicion that she did. You don’t spend 20 years in a friendship and not FEEL something amiss in the ether. I felt a disturbance in the Force….

I felt so much better. I really did. And to be perfectly frank, I didn’t stop there. Nope. I kept the “cut the negativity” train barreling down the tracks. Phillip and I decided to cancel our “KNITTER BE DAMNED” show on youtube. We had fun at first, but then I have to admit that the whole experience caused a LOT of problems for us. Aside from the internal fighting that nearly destroyed the whole thing, us and our reputations about 6 months ago, the minute we aired our first episode we lost about 1,000 of my readers to this blog. Reaching for a new audience, I disrespected my current audience and well…..lesson learned. So, we did a little video today to say that the show and the facebook group that goes with it are all done. We’re going to be doing something different soon, very soon, still only available on our Patreon page, but something completely different, which I have been wanting to do for a while and that I am truly excited about. But, back to this post, this post was about how in one 24 hour span I pretty much shed the obvious negatives that were holding me back.

There is a mood that is different in our little living room. Phillip and I are laughing more. And that really is the importance of everything, isn’t it? Are we happy? Well, apparently we weren’t, but unwilling for whatever reason, to get rid of all that clutter and just be happy. The minute said friend was out of the picture, the minute the show was no longer an obligation, we really did see each other smile more, color in our cheeks, the delicious banter that we do back in full competitive swing. Everything felt airy and light, brighter in tone, more inspiring. And that was important to me. I’ve felt stagnant, unable to move forward, unable to be creative. Not today, the ideas I’ve had brewing about our next project were suddenly being worked on (I’ll show you a little glimpse tomorrow). Oh, today the muses weren’t blocked by the bad attitudes of us nor anyone else.

I feel like my old ambitious, hopeful, hard working, up at 3am self again. I feel like Gregory Patrick again. Suit me up, coach. I’m ready to get back in the game. Now, go buy bears and books in the shop! 

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The Struggle to End a Friendship

Oh, I have struggled over this all day. Do you recall the post I wrote a few weeks back? About a friend? The one who claimed I would never own a home because my books weren’t best sellers and my knitting was….well, a one trick pony? We had an incident today. Where I not only felt dismissed, but felt mocked. I could see her turning her head when I spoke, she looking to Phillip and rolling her eyes when I spoke and saying quite loudly so I could hear as she roared toward an alleged ally in my husband, “Whatever you say, Gregory.” I was discussing our future plans, what we’re going to do next, what I wanted to write next, what I thought my next step should be creatively, artistically. I’m not ready to say anything here, because I’m just not ready. Some things are endings, some things are starting.

Now, we’ve been friends for 20 years, and just in her tone and laughing off my dream, I could hear something she recited a few weeks back when we were my writing and how so many of you have come to really appreciate it. And that means so much to me. People REALLY like my work and say so! I explained how here was where I really felt alive, where I was an artist, a craftsman, where I felt I belonged. She could only say, “Artist? I hate to hurt anyone’s feelings, but there is hardly a Picasso in the room.” To which point I could only reply, “No, but there is a Gregory Patrick and some people find that just as fucking awesome.”

But, after watching her try and turn my husband against me, as though her rolling eyes and winks to him would convince Phillip that I was a dullard with no sense that God gave a cricket I was ready right then to stand, shout, scream and demand she leave…..

But, I couldn’t. This is the friend whom years ago I could’t afford rent and stepped in without question and paid it, who randomly stops by with boiled peanuts and says, “found these, know how much you love them, thought I’d share,” who is always at the other end of the phone should I need anything. The funny thing is….she never needs anything from me. When we first met I was about 25. I was a screw up, as most 25 year old boys are. I’ll never forget, though, being in a group of people, as though I were the six year old in the room and her asking the rest of the people around us, “Oh, what will we ever do about Gregory.”

Then it dawned on me. She could never, would never, hasn’t ever accepted my successes because it would mean I didn’t need her anymore. There would be nothing to do with Gregory. She would be an equal, and she couldn’t have that. Her own life situation sucks. She has to want for nothing, doesn’t have to pay for anything, but has lived in a house for decades with someone she truly dislikes. Don’t wanna dish too much on her own story, that would be rude. But, her captor treats her like crap, knowing she needs him….and she impresses that same loss of power she has on me.

So, I was going to write a letter tonight saying that 20 years was enough. And I have struggled with it. I didn’t want to do it. But, now I know the best thing for anyone’s soul is brightness. You can’t have people making you feel you are indebted to them because if you weren’t you’d crumble.

Its heart breaking, and its not easy. But, if I want to ever feel better about myself, learn and crusade through the ways of my craft….I simply cannot have someone in my life, someone I’ve grown up with, reassure me every time we meet that I will am not worth my dreams.

Well, guess I better get to writing that letter. I have all ideas I’ll feel much better once I do.

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And They Said, “Because We Love You….”

Ok, so I know I write often about the importance of hope, and the idealism of optimism, and how those things are vitally important to your well being, your soul, your remembering that a better life cannot be sought unless you truly enjoy the one you already have. Some people have called it mumbo jumbo, New Age nonsense. Ah, to hell with them. Others liken it to prayer. Ah, to heaven they will go. If I had not believed in the power of positive thinking (thank Dr. Norman Vincent Peale), then I would not have gone as far as I have. I would have remained homeless. I would been trapped in that stack of hellish self doubt that keeps people buried in their own misery…and what is worse: I would have begun to not only accept that tragedy as my fate, I would have found some harmony in it. But, no. Prayer and positivity are vital to self reliance. Furthermore, don’t ever think you are alone, nor invisible.

I have a story I’d like to share about what happened to me this afternoon. My debit card went missing last week. I did the correct thing and had it reported lost or stolen, called them up, they were kind and polite, helpful and friendly and said a new one was on the way….and you can expect it in about 5 to 7 business days. Brilliant. Thank you….wait….WAIT! That means I won’t have access to my funds and bills that rely on that card’s numbers to get paid. WAIT!!!! STOP!!!! What was I to do?

Now, don’t panic, I told myself, we’ll figure this out. That gives us until Monday or Tuesday of this week. (Today or tomorrow before my card arrives). I had $100 cash to last us one week to buy whatever we needed. I’ve lived on less. This will be easy, right? Well, back then I wasn’t feeding two humans and two furries, I didn’t have a yarn truck that needed gas and insurance, I wasn’t recovering from pneumonia. SHIT! We ran out of cash Saturday. And this morning we ran out of coffee. The yarn truck ran out of gas. I started coughing like crazy. Nothing has sold in the shop, but what would it matter? We can’t get to the funds until my card arrives anyway. Ok, I know what I’ll do. I’ll call my mother. I HATE doing that. But, my plan was to call my mother, transfer money to her, and have her call and buy a Publix gift card over the phone, I’d pick it up and gather what we needed to last us a few more days until my card arrives. She said, “Of course. Just call Publix to see if they’ll take care of that.” So, I did.

I got the manager on the phone and said, “My name is Gregory,” and explained what I’d like to do. He said, “No, we can’t do that, but how much were you looking to get on the card?”

About $50 to tide us over.

“Well, we’ll just give you a gift card for that amount. It’s not a problem. We know you, you shop here every morning, you’ve come here for years and we’d be glad to help you out….”

I thought I was going to cry.

He said, “We love you. You’re a great customer.”

Now, keep in mind. I have very little verbal interaction with anyone there. I pop in, grab what I need, then head back home as soon as I can (that’s what an agoraphobic does). But, he knew what I looked like, down to my ball cap, and remembered an encounter we had a few months ago. He knew me. He knew my shopping habits, knew what I bought. And all this time I didn’t think anyone really saw me there dashing in and out with what I needed to feed my family. Apparently, they all knew my name. They appreciated me, and more so, were willing to say, “We can do this. Not a problem.”

Even writing about it I get weepy eyed.

An hour later I had gift card in hand, had procured coffee (don’t give me crap, I’m allowed two cups a day now and I’m not giving them up for nothing), things I needed for my recovery and health, and some groceries.

I didn’t sit back and think, “Nothing has sold, life sucks, I’ll just sit here and suffer.” I gave God, the Universe, my openness, my prayers, my desire and ambition to get through a minor rough patch, learned only from truly horrible life experiences: hope.

When I have some extra money, I’m going to give them back another gift card for the same amount and ask that they give it to someone in need someday. All flows in, all flows forth. But, only if you’ll allow it. Negativity blocks. Positivity breeds.

It was a great day to learn another valuable lesson. Say a prayer for yourself tonight. Pray for others, of course, but save some prayers for yourself. You’ll be fine. Believe it or not, you’re not invisible. Don’t forget that: you are not invisible.

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