How DO you do that?

So, how does one go about hiring a publicist?

The last two weeks have been an interesting parlay into all the hard work we’ve done….and I don’t wanna screw it up. I truly don’t. I’ve had interviews coming at me from left and right and I love it! I love being able to get my story out. But, I’m not sure how you should do it properly, so that I don’t stumble, fumble up words, sound robotic when I answer the same question again and again. How does one handle attention?

I’ve always shared on this blog this world of mine, this life of a male knitter, who knit up teddy bears just to buy groceries, then turned it into a life long dream of having a home. And this is where we are. I’m a pinch shy of being a little bit famous. And to be truthful? I don’t want to screw it up.

To be absolutely honest, I’m a little nervous. Not scared. I’ve stared down enough madness in life to not be scared. Just nervous. I want to do this right. The world is now taking a closer look at me….and I just want to do right by all of us.

I’ve cataloged my life’s ups and downs with this blog since my very first post. This is a wonderfully high up!…..and I don’t want to see it crash down without knowing what I’m doing.

So, how does one proceed? Whom do you call? And what is their going rate anyway? (I had to laugh when I wrote that. Not sure why, but laughed, nonetheless).

300 books arrive tomorrow in multiple boxes. Can’t wait to take a picture. We’re up to 400 copies sold of “Will Knit For Food.” And I’m itching to push 100 more.100 more copies and I’m good for a year and that would be amazing.

I’m having to move again. But, more about that on my next post tomorrow.

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

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

Wow. What a Week.

Whew!  HA!

Yes, it was an interesting week. Sorry I haven’t blogged this week, but…..I’ve been a little busy :)

I’m fine! Ok, ok, ok, I slept for 2 days. Was wiped out. A bit like after you’ve run a marathon and you just huff, you puff, and you fall on the pavement.

Where do I begin? My teddy bear pattern was number 1 on the hot list on ravelry! NICE! My book sold 300 copies! NICE (the full 5,oo0 copies would be even nicer, but NICE NICE NICE!), Herman Cain spoke very highly of me on his radio show. And I have to tell you, this REALLY had me in tears. It was one of the kindest, most gracious things he could have said.(Audio link coming soon).  News 13 did a story on me that (as far as I know) is still in rotation (link to that soon!), and a morning show (shhhh! can’t tell until I do it) would like to have me on to talk about “Will Knit For Food.” I have had 100,000 hits to my blog in 2 days, and thousands of emails from people asking me if I’ll knit them a teddy bear. I’m doing my best to respond to all of them, and I WILL! It just might take a minute, but I will respond to all of them :)

VERY nice.

It has been a wonderful week, thanks to all of you. And as I’ve tried to explain in every interview I’ve given, that this whole journey has been about us. You and me. All of us. I say “we” in my interviews, so that everyone knows I didn’t come here alone. I was carried with the kindness and generosity of caring people who would not allow a man who believed in his dream to let him fall. You picked me up, carried me, held me, comforted me  in your arms and I will be forever grateful. This has always been more than a teddy bear. This has been about connection between people, a dismissal of the daily disasters that fuel our world in ways that turn us against each other. This journey has always been about kindness and hope…one teddy bear at a time.

oh! I have a new page for those of you that have received your copies of “Will Knit For Food,” read it, and want to review it.

So! I guess we know move to the next chapter in this interesting experience. Both of us. You and me. And I can’t wait to see where this journey leads us.

 

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

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

 

 

 

Could This Be It?

I can’t thank Jessica from Yahoo enough for running the article about me on Yahoo Makers. And to Vogue Knitting for picking up the bungalower.com article and rewteeting it. I have my fingers crossed right now. Mario in my lap, knitting needles in hand, I’m patiently waiting to see if this will be the moment, finally, that we’ve all been working so hard for all these years: that I’ve finally found security. That I could finally be safe. And tears quietly fill my eyes and as I think that today could be the day that the struggle with homelessness comes to a close.

What a long and hard road this has been. And what a definite and wonderful moment in life where I feel such a great attachment to all of you, to love. No more loneliness, nor sadness. That life from hence forth can only get better, because of kindness, because of the clutching of a teddy bear….because, first and foremost, because of all of you. :)

Waiting for Phillip to arrive. We’re going to celebrate with blacked eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread. (It’s comfort food.)

This could be the most important day of my life….And I can’t thank all of you enough for it.

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

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

A Teddy Bear for Everyone

If you’re looking for a teddy bear, I knit them up and list them here when completed. Sometimes I knit about 3 to 4 bears a week. I pretty much knit, list, then ship. They don’t last very long! Usually about 30 minutes! So you have to act fast :)

IMG_1778But! If you’re looking for one special sort of bear, I can always custom make one for you! (Or a tiger, or a lion!) Just send me an email at madmanknitting@gmail.com and we can work out the details on what kind of yarn, what colors, and for whom the little bear is for. Cheers! And thank you all so much for your support!

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

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

Blessed-American

The fireworks last night were amazing.

53866679There is something about the fountain at Lake Eola that most of us in Orlando are drawn to. Lake Eola is a central identifiable icon that is in no way visually associated with Disney, Universal, or Sea World. While the rest of the world comes descending onto our town, (happily and thankfully!) we who live here spend very little time enamored with the visions of Mickey, Spiderman, nor Shamu.

We look at our fountain. Our little monument of local life. And last night it could not have been more beautiful, as the fireworks were bursting above it, exploding with bombastic, thunderous pulse just beyond the palm trees, just a stone skipped across the lake towards the fountain, towards the heart of this city, you could feel a pervasive and sudden calm around this city’s citizens. No one felt left out. No one felt alone. We were all American.

I was once and foremost so very proud to be an American. But, that’s easy to say, isn’t it? It’s different to actually take it, hold it, enjoy it, and remind ourselves of it without the brilliant display of pageantry….day after day. But, that is something that we MUST do. For being an American needs to become more of a state of mind, a contemplative endeavor, a daily reminder.

We’ve spent so many recent weeks in division, pushing away each other, categorizing each other into groups that require  validation, and respect. But last night, I saw my little town squarely pulled together around a fountain of light, a beacon of us, a trumpeting call of triumph, that for one moment we were reminded that we were without hyphens. We were one, devoid of past transgression, holding closely to the present, bright eyed with smiles looking hopefully towards the future. We are here, we are now…and we could be one America.

So, one day later, I saw it begin again. The definite call from one side of one argument to another. And I shook my head, knit my little heart out, thought about it, and decided, yes….weaken those divisions.

Don’t allow arguments of the past to divide us now. We are America. Each morning we wake, we are blessed with the brilliance afforded us not allowed in so many places in the world. Our demands can often make our grievances look silly.

Our lives are so better lived here than many in other nations can hope to claim, and the more we allow arguments from yesterday to hinder how we speak to each other today, the less promising our future becomes. Any one of us can bury our hands deep into the soul of this great nation, pull out the dirt from under us, hold it in our hands and say, “I am of THIS land. THIS land gives me power. I can do anything.”

It’s ok to say goodbye to the past. If we hold the past as an argument for our own injustices, then we won’t see the beauty of what we can be. If we stop separating ourselves into categories, then we could finally be a unified nation. Only as one people with monikers of race and sexual orientation dismissed, could we finally be one country.

It’s time for this country to let go of it’s desperate, daily need for titles that recognize separation, and cling closer to the concept of communion. One blessed people. One blessed America. I’m gonna get back to knitting now, not as a Gay-American, not as an Irish-American…..but, as a Blessed-American.

 

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

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

This Will Always Be OUR Story

IMG_5495It’s wild the feedback I get about my bears, the stories I learn about the people these little darlings are destined for. I received an email from one of my customers (I hate calling them that), about why she had bought her bear. She lost her first baby before it was born, and now she’s exuberant and hopeful now that she’s pregnant again, optimistic that this time she’ll finally have a darling daughter, and that the bear is a gift for her unborn precious, hoping to have it waiting in her nursery when she finally arrives screaming with life.
I sank in my chair, wilted a little, and thought about the other stories I’ve heard.
The teddy that was sent to the little girl whose been in the hospital for months with intestinal issues. A chronic problem since she was born. The teddy that keeps a lonely woman company. The one that watches out over an ailing mother as she drives herself around town-the little bear tucked in the back window. Or, the teddy going off to England soon to a grandmother, eyesight ailing, as a gesture of a hug when needed. And then simpler, equally adorable moments. The bear that was sent to the Japanese woman in Texas whose love for Ryuichi Sakamato mirrors my own. The bear sent to Virginia to a little boy whose adventures remind me of Calvin and Hobbes (perhaps he’ll get a tiger for Christmas, just to keep the tradition of Calvin running for generations to come). The bear, whose buyer said specifically, “I don’t care what color it is, just as long as it has a pink mohawk.”  The stories are now at 72. At first thought, it seems like 72 bears sold, but its more than that. It’s 72 stories, 72 possibilities, 72 hearts seeking a friend, a gesture, a moment of companionship, a gift, a hug, a laugh…..a moment.
My first and still most popular teddy bear is “The Teddy That Saved Me,” because its true. That little bear helped me first feed myself, then kept me from being homeless, then afforded me a possibility for my own future. That was MY story. But upon reading these 2 months worth of emails this morning, I can’t help but think of all the faces, all the smiles, and all the glimmering eyes that have their own stories to tell.
So, in light of that I’d like to say, I hear your story, as you’ve read my own, and realize with absolute clarity, this whole teddy bear connection has made it OUR story: genuine, heartfelt tale of how a little guy with a hopeful smile is bringing the world closer together one bear at a time.
Thanks everyone. Thank you all for being part of the story.

From the book, “Will Knit For Food.”

 

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

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

Hellbilly Birthday Deluxe

IMG_2005 IMG_2006    IMG_2012IMG_2009IMG_2011IMG_2014 IMG_2020IMG_2015 Ok, the minute Phillip told me that he had not had a birthday present in years, I knew I had to do something. His life was hard. That’s his story to tell, not mine. But, when he looked at me and said that he had not had a birthday present in years, I was forced to do something. You know how I am. Tenacious. Defender. Righter of wrongs!

So, we don’t have any money, so I got clever. Quite beautifully clever. My adoring guy needed a day to feel overwhelmed. And thanks to all of your birthday messages, we completed stage one. The world let him know he was loved. (And I can’t thank you enough for that. His goofy face beamed with light). I keep telling him he’s more adorable when those dimples shine, but….there you go. One day he’ll believe me. ;)

I set up a simple birthday celebration, since it was just the two of us. A great and simple birthday doo dah, to let him know that we were all involved.

So, first! Gifts, right? The first ones were obvious. He’s a big kid. A big freakin’ 8 year old smack dab in the middle of a HUGE 6 foot 3, 250 pound man. I bought him toys, fun things, little things he could build and enjoy, toss on the ground and watch roll, flick and earn points. But! There’s more to that. He’s a cook, so he’s always in need of bandanas. So, instead of wrapping his gifts with paper, I opted for bandanas and did a little furoshiki wrapping. (It’s an awesome form of Japanese wrapping with fabric. We watch a lot of NHK world, the Japanese version of PBS :) ).

Then, fun time. Yeah, I got him marbles and some tiddly winks, and a robot he can build out of a can, but the best part was the bottle of Southern Comfort. Yay! We busted that bottle wide and had a great time. Oh, yeah. He’s long since gone to bed. I’m up writing. Just how we are. :) The southern gothic in me.

But long before that, we ordered a pizza. Thanks to Giovanni (go, Macchia!), our dear Italian friend in the Netherlands, we had pizza. It fits, right? Big time pizza, thanks to Gio Macchia and his awesomeness.

And there you have it. One of the best birthdays ever celebrated. Just two semi redneck guys sitting back, eating pizza, drinking Southern Comfort, listening to Rob Zombie and having a great time telling stories.

He finally grabbed my hand just before he crashed and said, “This is the best birthday I’ve ever had….Look at all this. Bitch, I’m Madonna.

I’m writing this now, watching him snore in the corner of the bed that’s supposed to be mine. Slobbering all over my pillow, taking up all my space with those tree trunk legs of his.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that he’s in my life. Best birthday ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.

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

In Defense of the Southern Man

She said, “Don’t call me, ‘sweetheart.’ It’s misogynistic.”

But, as a southern man it’s one of the highest praises I can respond with. Of course I would never do that to a man. And do you know why? He doesn’t deserve being treated with such a prominence as that of lady. He is my equal. And you, my dear, are not to be treated as my equal. You are to be treated better than him. And you always will.

gregory-and-bearYou see, southern men do a great job of treating women of such value that we’re famous for it. We battle our fathers, crass with our contemporaries. But, we treat women differently. We acknowledge our mothers and pay them homage. Our mothers are sacred. We honor chaste ladies that are chased with a reverence afforded only the saints. We respond to a woman’s power with an acknowledged “yes, ma’am.”

Ladies, women, have a valued place in the southern man’s heart. She fills the deficit, she fills his weaknesses and makes him strong, and like wise, she shows wide eyed respect when he grabs her by the waist, pulls her close and whispers, “Don’t worry, sweetheart. I’ve got you.” And he looks deeper into her eyes and she knows, yes, this man will fight dragons for me.

So when a southern man calls you “sweetheart,” listen close. He’s not demeaning you. He’s placing you on a higher grade than that of himself. The sweet part of his heart. His sweet heart. When he calls you “ma’am,” try not to dismiss his intentions. For they are the best that you could imagine. He has recognized you as valuable and deserving of bowed reverence. So as we push ourselves into a new century where traditions are being pushed away for the sake of solid and determined requests for acceptance as equal, our choice of words, our attempt at acknowledging you as a more beautiful thing than me may come across as alien and foreign in voices that are not politically correct. We mean only the highest praise in ways that were taught to us by the women that reared us. The lady is more precious than the jewelry she wears, her lineage and breeding, and her social standing. She has a value in our hearts that we men sweeten to. She is, and always will be, a lady. A sweetheart.

“….and at first with the charm around him, he loosened it so if it slipped between my breasts, he’d rescue it….then his spark took life in my hand. “-Ulysses.

I only need to sell 20 more copies of my book to break my 100 goal mark. That’s pretty nice :)

willknitcoversmallThis is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here. If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate. Every dollar helps!

Shut Up and Knit

I’ve wrestled with this post all day long. When I saw Phillip I proposed my ideas, my thoughts, and even then, he said, “Calm down. Take a minute. Focus on something else.”

confederate-flag-1-1400x650In this current climate of opinion, should you have one that goes against the masses, you are doomed. You’ll be run out of business, you’ll be drug through the mud, you’ll be given a place in history (before it’s revised again) of an intolerant insolent who refused to go with the status quo. You are not allowed a difference of opinion. I promise you. And that’s why I’m terrified these days of saying what’s on my mind. But, as a knitter, you spend so much time alone, deep in thought.

And deep in those respectful notions of “it forces a dialogue” comments from others, you discover that there is no place for dialogue…..they want you to assimilate, or get out of the way.

So, I’ve wanted to say something about the confederate flag controversy over the past few days. Much of me had so much to say, alas, there comes a time when you’re heart and your soul become restless, for you burn with an opinion. And there is much of me that realizes that I’m not afforded that opportunity, to say what I want, for the social-sphere will come hounding down on me so hard and so fast that I won’t have an opportunity to even have a career before they decide to take it from me…..

And that’s precisely what I’ve seen lately. We don’t want your different opinion. We don’t want you to think differently. Bake my gay cake for my wedding, get rid of your ridiculous confederate flag, and  ACCEPT me. I DEMAND it. I don’t care about your feelings. WAIT! EVERYONE! LOOK! OVER HERE! HE doesn’t AGREE WITH ME! DESTROY HIM!!!!!

Where and how and why did this happen? That’s the question this southern man wishes to pose. As they take away a piece of my culture, I watch everyone else celebrate and brand theirs in populace territory. And if you are offended by that flag, then please give me a moment of reflection as to the moment of when where and why (in personal experience!) of how that is, and by all means, don’t begin your personal story with, “Well, everyone knows it represents…..(fill in racist reference).”

We all made a disastrous turn when we decided a picture of a flag could be more offensive than a picture of a man pissing on Christ. We turned hellish corners when we decided that the national discussion should be about a cotton piece of cloth reminiscent of the past versus the daily on slot of crime in our more urban neighborhoods.

This whole incident reminds me of a question posed to me yesterday  by the reporter, and I censured myself. I wanted to say, “When I was in my 20’s we pushed and screamed for moments that affected people in terms of life and death. Now? Now, people scream and yell because their feelings are hurt.”

I expect more from people because I was taught that your actions were more impressive than your words. You wanna bad mouth me? Fine. I don’t care. You wanna call me names? Blah blah. You hit me? Now, that’s different.

Be cautious, be careful of these actions we take now as we decide to overwhelmingly ban a flag. (really? no discussion about crime in America over tennis shoes and labels and entitlements.)You’re offended by a flag? Well, I’m offended by your crime ridden neighborhoods. Mine is only thought, yours is downright action.

You are setting precedent. Tomorrow I promise you, I promise you, it will be your symbols, your look, your heritage that will be called into the court of public concerns…..your identity will be banished, because the majority has decided that symbolism and thought rule more than your actions. Drive by shootings and home invasions? Who cares? Garner a flag? DESTROY THEM!

And this is where I am told to just shut up and knit….Keep your concerns out of current issues, and press them more on how to use double pointed needles.

I’m sorry, ya’ll. But, I just can’t do that.

 

willknitcoversmall  This is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness.

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

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

 

 

This is Home

I had the most incredible surprise.

An old friend, whom I haven’t seen in probably 15 years, came knocking at my door. You see, she had bought a copy of my book a few weeks ago, it was delivered, she read the whole 590 pages in one evening, then used my return address to track me down and pay me a visit.

It will be cataloged as one of the most beautiful moments I’ve had in a long. Her smile was still just as grand, her spirit just as vibrant, her heart still just as warm as I had remembered.

We only shared about 20 minutes of time, but it reinvigorated me, as she had always done before, back when I was but a wee thing yearning to find his place in the world. Her talent is finding value behind dust and coal, wiping it off, showing the world how brilliant you are. She always treated me as a better man than I treated myself, coaxed me into my craft, reminded me on every occasion that I was worth more than I had dared to think of.

And it reminded me of so many days before. And how this city really is my home, it has my history, it has my memories, it has my friends, and my future. Orlando is where I belong.

Our conversation turned to my homeless days. I’m reticent to discuss it at length, which is why I wrote a book. And there, in the depth of our friendship being reborn, I was deciding to move forward on this path. I heard my heart talking.

I’ll wake one day and the memories of being homeless will be once and forever more nothing but memories. There will be no more fear of being asked to leave, there will be no fear of keeping a bag tucked in the closet that holds enough food and water and pocket money for Mario and I. There will be no more holding onto the paranoia lingering from yesterday, for I’ll be solidly sitting in my own kitchen, cooking food, asking each of you to come join me. I’ll wake one day and have sold enough books to have that little home of mine. I’ll wake one day and my dream will be real.

I’ll be sitting here writing and knitting into the sun breathes a touch of his smile through the windows to make it happen. For all I want is a home. A permanent one. One that I can snag this little cat, toss her into a pillow case and say, “Don’t worry, sweetheart. This is the LAST time we have to do this. We’re going HOME.”

And my friend looked at me and smiled and said, “You’ll get it. I know you will.”

There are worst things served by a man’s ambition. He can crave greatness, totalitarian leadership, demanding respect, unlimited financial resources. But, these things pale in comparison to the simple desire of a home filled with the security of loving, caring friendship…of bad memories of the past overshadowed by good memories of the present.

I will wake one day, and it will have happened….

willknitcoversmall  This is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness.

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

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