Hello my tender little chicken butts!
First off, thank you so much for you messages of love for Maddie and Chester. Maddie has he stitches out and is fully recovered and back to her old goofy self. The two of them are back to being good buddies and crabby siblings.
So, let us see what is on the table for this week’s column, shall we?
Dear Auntie BubboPants
I’m a knitter, not a crocheter, but I’m sure crocheters have the same problem sometimes. I’m the only person in my circle of friends who knits, so when the holidays pull around, everyone expects me to knit them something amazing, and everyone bombards me with gift requests. It takes time to knit something nice, and I can’t knit 50 sweaters in 4 months (which is about how much holiday knitting time I give myself)! But everyone expects something unique from me and it’s STRESSFUL!!!! They’re wearing me out! What should I do?
non-signing chicken butt
First things first, go here and get acquainted with the Selfish Knitters! Learning to say “no” takes time and practice and finding a group of people who understand and support you in this journey is important.
You have to learn to say “NO” and you have to learn all of the ways in which it can be said.
“No, I’m sorry, I just don’t have time for that.”
“Maybe after the holidays? You can buy the yarn, I’ll knit it up, also I like cookies and caramels”
“ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha no.”
“How about after the holidays I teach you to knit? that can be my gift to you!”
This brings me to a yearly rant…
Whatever the reasons for engaging in the exchange of gifts over the winter solstice may have been, they are now long long lost. This is only sadness to me. It’s become a social construct, a tool, a weapon, a threat, a device, a reward. No longer are gifts given freely and without reservation. On one side we have receivers who request specific items, who argue the validity of their gifts, who compare the values of each gift and rank the givers. On the other side we have the givers that punish the giftees for perceived infractions over the previous year, or who knock themselves out trying to buy the perfect gift for someone who will not appreciate it. People receive gifts that they do not want givers wrap gifts they cannot afford.
And in any given group on any forum on any website you can find gift related arguments and flame wars raging.
This has got to end. Really! This is pure insanity. It starts with you!
Gifts that are given under any duress are not gifts. Gifts that are given with expectations of valued return on investment are not gifts. Gifts given with reservation or hesitation are not gifts. Gifts are by definition not obligations.
Gifts that are opened and judged, weighed, valued or compared are not gifts deserved.
What was once a small tradition meant to bring light and celebration into the darkest part of winter, a way to share meager holdings among the community so that all might benefit has become a race to the bottom.
As the holidays approach I implore each of you, my little chicken butts, to find a way to change your thinking even a little bit on the subject. For each gift you give, make it a give that has meaning and heart behind it. For each gift you receive, be truly grateful, do not compare or judge the gift, only accept and love the gift.
Dear Auntie BubboPants,
Goodness! I never anticipated getting into a mess like this!
You see… I met this guy. (Don’t all of the biggest problems seem to start this way??) I met him in April and hated his guts for absolutely no reason at all; he was dating my friend and was never unkind to her, or me, or anyone else. I hated him passionately and fought with him at every opportunity. He persisted in trying to be friends with me, and eventually, I accepted that yeah, he’s a pretty awesome person. He is several years younger than me, and has significantly less experience than I do, and I don’t expect perfection – I know that things are complicated when you’re young, and the future can be pretty intimidating.
Said awesome person cheated on his girlfriend/my friend with me – and I was cheating on my soon-to-be-ex-husband. This went on for a couple weeks, and finally we agreed it had to stop. We were honest with the people who needed to know the truth; his girlfriend couldn’t care less, she was just happy that we were happy. The ex blames the guy for the end of our marriage, but no one really cares what he thinks (and he’s wrong, anyhow).
Ending things didn’t last long, and the guy and I got back together. This time we were dating, and there wasn’t anyone else to get in the way of it. A month in, he broke up with me quite unexpectedly – only to come back a few days later telling me he was really sorry, he’s just scared of all these things he’s feeling, and he loves me. This has happened 3 times now, each time a month or so apart.
The last time, we didn’t get back together. However, that doesn’t mean anything has actually changed – when we can’t see each other, he texts or calls throughout the day. Most days we talk on the phone for anywhere from 4 to 7 hours. One day I had lost my phone and hadn’t talked to him for almost a full day, and when I found it, he was afraid I was avoiding him and was really upset. Neither of us is seeing other people, and honestly, Auntie, I do love him in a way I wasn’t really prepared to deal with. He says and does the “boyfriend things,” but is adamant that we just be friends. He has told me more than once he knows he’s “just going to fail at being in a relationship” and he’s so afraid of doing something that would be seen as unforgivable, that he’d lose the person he’s with.
I love him, and I accept that he’s young and complicated and life seems daunting sometimes. I’m not a patient person, but I’ve never minded waiting for him… because I know that eventually, things are going to work out. Even everyone else sees how things are with us, and that we just “fit” in a way most people don’t (and they comment on it, repeatedly, to both of us). I guess what I want to know is – how do I help him be less afraid, or how do I change what we’ve got going on so if we’re just friends, we’re acting like we’re just friends?
-Confused Chicken Butt
Writing an advice column is sort of a weird experience. You see, about 85% of the letters I get have the answer somewhere in the letter. Mostly the writer is upset or confused by something, knows what they have to do, but doesn’t understand why. These ones are sort of easy because I have the benefit of being outside the forest and can help them understand the map and get around the trees.
There’s maybe 10% supertoughies that require me to do research or find people who have better insight into a situation than I do. These ones are harder, but only because they require more effort on my part. Luckily I have friends and family with a nice, wide range of experiences and expertise and most can be bribed to help me.
Then there’s the last 5%, the thorny chickenbutts of doom! The ones who send a letter full of information, and ask a question that I cannot answer because the question is unrelated to anything I want to actually say based on the other information in the letter. These letters are a quandary for me, my job is to answer questions, but my obligation is to be open and honest and tell you when you are being a chickenbutt in a bad chickenbutt way as opposed to a good chicken butt way.
You, my dear CCB, are being a 12pound chickenbutt, right here, right now, I am obligated to say it.
The reason why this relationship is continually n the rocks is because it seems that neither of you is capable of understanding what makes a good and healthy relationship. You hated him, he persisted, you found him to be awesome, you both cheated on your respective partners.
Not awesome. Seriously, not awesome. Okay, so you say your relationship with your husband was at an end, that this was a symptom of that and not the factor. Fine. But what about your relationship with your friend? Does your friend not deserve fidelity and honesty from her friends and boyfriends? Do you look at your friend and say, “you deserve to be deceived and cheated on?”
Both of you entered into a relationship with a person who has proven to be blithely indifferent to the very social contracts that allow us to trust one another. In the end, does it matter that your friend “couldn’t care less, she was just happy that we were happy”? You didn’t believe that this would be the case before you engaged in this cheating or you both would have been honest with her before it happened. Whether or not she is as happy and accepting as you say is not for me to judge, but I will say I have my reservations about it. Sometimes when confronted with such massive betrayal from two people you trust it is easier to cut your losses and let it go. Perhaps she is happy that this happened before she got too committed to him, perhaps she is happy that two people who obviously deserve each other have found each other.
Your relationship with him is based on acts of deceit and mistrust. The way you write to me about them indicates that you feel no remorse about your actions and in my opinion this is the big neon wedge in your relationship. Does he know that you will remain committed to him? Does he know for sure that this untroubled breaking of trusts is a single aberration in the general scheme of things?
My advice to you is probably not the advice you want. It’s not advice that uses your words to give you a map to the goal you want. It is advice that uses your words to give you a map over harder terrain. Let him go. If he is as young and unformed as you say, let him go and find a new way. Do this because you have much work in front of you. Take some time away from dating and away from relationships and take some time to focus on yourself. Learn to exist as a single person. Relearn to love yourself. Then take some time to learn how to be a good friend, how to give to another person, how to not just take the things you want even if it seems you could have them freely.
You are standing at the edge of a very powerful and life changing moment, it’s a step you can take, but you have to do it alone. It is too easy for you to put your weight on others and call it good. Bear this burden yourself, learn to carry yourself. Then you can learn to lean on someone else.
Dear Auntie BubboPants,
I hope you can help me, I seem to have developed a severe case of not being able to knit without major froggable errors found in projects rounding the bend to being finished. It may be due to overconfidence, but now I’m afraid to touch my lace shawl for fear I’ll wreck it too.
I know some of the solutions, like use more lifelines and stitch markers even on the simplest projects. I just hate ripping back all those stitches especially when it’s happening on every project I touch these days.
How can things be so wrong when I knit along thinking they are all okey dokey until I take a close look and then….AAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!!! The top of the cookie socks do not match the bottom, one side of the shawl is shorter than the other by 30 stitches. It’s a nightmare. Have I ever really finished anything, or is it just an illusion?
For now I’ve taken up reading books, watching movies and I may even get back to my quilting. What do I do when my fingers itch to knit? Is there such a thing as depressed hands? Or is my mind loosing track all together?
What to do? Oh, What to do?
oh dear, I know, I’ve been there. We all make mistakes. There is a mistake in every single thing I make. It’s not there intentionally, but if I find an error small enough to not affect the entire piece then I leave it there. I like them, those tiny human errors that keep us from getting too excited about ourselves, those little missed stitches that keep us humble (admittedly, however, it’s way way less messy to miss a stitch in crochet than to drop a stitch in knitting).
But this isn’t what you’re dealing with, is it? You’re working and discovering that you missed something little with big big consequences. It’s frustrating as all hell and sort of demoralizing. I’ve been there! I took a break.
I just went through a funk where it did not matter what I crocheted, it just turned out wrong. None of my calculations were right, none of my estimates were close, none of the yarns chosen were working out.
I did the thing that people throughout history do when they are vexed to the very limits, I took a break. I did other things. I taught myself to make jam and I learned how to can things. I studied up on subjects of interest. I watched more movies, read more books, colored with crayons. My hands itched to hold the hook again, but I ignored them. I distracted them with rolling out pasta dough and coloring in pictures of spongebob and writing stories about snails. Then the urge to crochet subsided and I continued to focus on other things, felting, embroidery, computer games. And I waited patiently. When the urge came back I sat down and tried again and whatever had plagued the connection between my mind and my hands had cleared and I could crochet again.
Rarely do we heed the opportunities to learn new hobbies or new ways of interacting with the senses. This is a chance you should not let pass you by. Grab it and learn something new!
Dear Auntie BubboPants,
I have a question for you and hopefully it won’t be hard to answer.
I’ve been with the same guy for about 4 years. I’m 23 and he’s 24 and we are going to graduate from college in December. We get along so well and I can tell him anything, but I’m at this point where I feel like I could end it without being too hurt. I don’t really have a reason, i just don’t have that urge to stay with him, other than the knowledge that i might not find anyone i can get along with as well.
Here is my thing. We are at the point in our relationship (4 years) where many relationships/marriages end. I’m thinking maybe it has to do with oxytocin not being released as much, or some other hormonal thing. I don’t want to end it just because I’m not irresistibly drawn to him, but I don’t want to stay if it isn’t meant to be and there is someone who is perfect out there. I don’t know that there is, but if so they can’t be much better than my guy.
So if you have any information or wisdom you can give me on the doldrums of relationships I’d love it. I’ve looked stuff up, but I never find exactly what I’m looking for.
Young and Restless
Dear YaR (YARRRRR MATEYS!)
The relationship doldrums! They happen, they are not uncommon, they can be survived…if you both ant to survive them.
Okay, so, if you read my column you know my theory about the selfishness that is the beginning of a relationship. Yes? When we start dating someone we do it for selfish reasons, “he makes me feel happy, he makes me feel good!” This is true and it is not a bad thing, it’s just a thing. The difference between dating someone and really falling in love with them is when that shift happens and we look more towards what we can do for the other person and less at what the other person does for us.
The doldrums usually happen sometime after that shift. We become complacent in the balanced ‘give’ and ‘take’ in the relationship and we stop thinking about it. and he stops thinking about it too. and you both stop thinking about it. and suddenly neither of you is really making the effort to make the other person happy, are you? If you were you wouldn’t be writing about the doldrums, you’d be writing about all the effort you put in that is not reciprocated.
But the doldrums (and the attendant lack of reaction hormones like adrenaline and oxytocin) can be fixed. It’s actually sort of easy. You start by going back to that time when you were actively making an effort to make him happy. You don’t have to greet him at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap! But a surprise note in his lunch can mean so much, or a card in the mail just to say you love him. Take an interest in HIM again, remind him why he fell in love with you in the first place. You’ll spark him up and he’ll start taking an interest in YOU!
Relationships are like the careers of the soul. Just like with any career you don’t just get hired and then glide on through to retirement. You work all the time. You focus and exert effort and you have triumphs and you have bad days and the rewards can be great. You don’t just find the perfect match and suddenly you’ve reached your goal! No way, finding the “perfect match” is really just the trailhead to a path that you will follow for your lifetime. The journey is the goal.
Go make a card for him and mail it off. Doesn’t matter if you live together! I just got something in the mail from David, something goofy funny that now hangs on the fridge and makes us laugh.