we do what we must . . .

August 6, 2011

a long time ago,
a mason from ireland left
and came to the united states.
he briefly settled in brooklyn, married
a woman who’s name has been lost,
and upon having a son, john,
finally settled in corktown,
detroit’s oldest neighborhood.

this man was named stephen martin,
my great great great grandfather.

upon my birth,
my mother decided to give me his name,
tying me forever to a man without whom
i would never have made it here.

but in what can only be called the metaphor of my existence,
she misspelled it.
and so my ancestor’s name,
already anglicized from the irish,
had now been americanized
in a city once owned by the french.

i’ve often heard that there’s a lot of power in a name.
and this misspelling, i now feel, was a kind of curse.
nothing i seem to do ever follows a proper path;
everything must have an accidental twist,
one based on false certainty.

what this has meant for me is that,
while my life won’t ever be what one’s should,
it has been one that i wouldn’t change anything about.
not one thing.

would i trade finding the “knock” my family left behind in county kerry,
or petting a panda bear while he at an apple in chengdu,
or walking the early morning streets of paris at christmastime,
or burning in the himalayan sunshine outside the potala palace,
or a shockingly thorough olive oil massage from a burly greek woman on the coast of santorini for
a mortgage?
a wedding ring?
financial security?
approval?

i can’t say as i would.

but i have often wondered
if marching to the beat of my own disco
means i won’t get the chance to pass along a name,
misspelled or otherwise, if,
in twenty years time,
i’d regret not
being more
normal.

sometimes i wonder if passing on a name is important to me,
or important enough to me.
i’m not sure, but
i wonder.

in what can only be considered the craziest of signs,
it turns out that my name will live on,
just not in the usual form.
(bien sur)

and so here we meet little steven ambrose (jr)
a baby alpaca, born on august 5th, 2011.
he’s sure to spend many a happy day with sally of rivendale farms,
who you may recognize from the comments.

that email was a solar flare during a starless moment for me.
you’re timing couldn’t have been more impeccable.
thanks sally.

of course,
i’m allergic to alpacas.

this is my life.

farewell pittsburgh

August 4, 2011

the movers are coming today,
and it’s all i can do to keep from collapsing.
leaving you, pittsburgh, . . . it feels like
. . .i’m dying in a way.

i feel like i do at funerals,
like my legs could buckle at any moment,
like my heart needs to be closer to the earth.

i’ve never been in love before and
it’s crazy that my first time would be you,
a city, the steel city.

you made me laugh constantly,
shared with me all your secrets,
tucked me in on so many nights
with a smooch and a smile.

you were nothing but good to me.
i can never repay all your kindnesses.

at the same time,
it wasn’t enough.
or not fast enough
for me to realize
this is it!
you were the one.

it’s my fault
we didn’t work out.
i should’ve done more
to maintain your affections.
by the time i knew it was you
i wanted, you’d stiffened,
and i was being pulled away.

i could’ve done more to be with you, but i didn’t.
i was disloyal
and untrue.

leaving is the only choice i have left.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

i’ve never been in love before
so i didn’t recognize the signs.
you and yours snuck up on me,
and my only wish is that i could stay
somehow.

i know we’ll always be friends,
that i’ll see you now and then,
that this isn’t a forever goodbye.
but i’ll never have you like i did before.
we’ll never be as close as we once were.
nothing has ever hurt me more than that.

i love you, buddy.

i’ll miss you.

you were my home.

lucky

July 7, 2011

around the beginning of each month,
i go and get an hiv test.

i’m a gay dude in his 20′s.
it’s only practical.

and even though i should be used to it by now,
it’s a surreal experience every time.

as i sit in the little testing room,
making small talk with the lovely tester,
all i can think about is how very lucky i am.
not just because, so far, i always test nonreactive,
but because there exists a place where i can literally walk in off the street, say i want to get tested, and in thirty minutes or less, i walk out with an answer.

anonymously.

free of charge.

i grew up in the era when aids decimated the gay population in america, but i was really too young to be aware of what that would mean for me now.

it destroyed a way of life,
a connection to history,
the chance for the children of today know their elders.
all i have are ghosts stories, and the few “lucky” ones who survived.

it changed everything,
and i find myself mourning
as i imagine someone mourns a parent they never knew.

i get really choked up about it sometimes.

and during the twenty minutes i sit there
waiting to see if there’s one line or two,
i never think about my own results.
i only wonder
why the waiting room isn’t full?
why isn’t there a line out the door?
are people really that scared to know?
or are they so naive as to think they couldn’t test positive?
i think about the millions, millions who had to die
so that i can sit here,
pay nothing,
and know.

it’s not like hiv and aids have gone away.
but i don’t hear people talk about it anymore.

i don’t get it.

there’s a lot of things i don’t understand;
i admit to being slightly ignorant about hiv myself.
but what i do know is,
i’m a lucky guy.
not because i’m negative,
but because i know.

i’m just one small voice among the millions of bloggers.
i don’t command much attention.
i definitely don’t have much money.
still. i’d still like to do something.

right now all i can do is give away this skein of handspun.
fiber: 2oz spinning bunny pixie batt = merino, black and/or blue face leicester, tencel, angelina, angora, silk, and bamboo.
if i did my math right,
there’re 315yds of 2ply lace weight.
hand spun by me.

i just ask that you consider making a donation to the pittsburgh aids task force who provide so much more than just free rapid testing. if you don’t have much money, i’d ask that you considering going and getting tested.

either way,
you only need to leave a comment to enter.
but if you do make a donation, i’d love to know.
it’d be pretty cool if we raised a couple hundred bucks.

i’ll pick a winner in a week.

with my hospital bills all paid (i hope),
and electronic ink still drying on my lansing lease,
i should be squeezing my pennies like a scotsman.

so the first thing i do,
when assessing my funds?
i decide to make a purchase.

it was eight and four months ago,
when i learned to treadle steady,
and witnessed the power of twist.

i was hooked.
it was magic
worked by my fingers.
there was no going back.

it changed me.

a year is a long time to want something
wanting a thing for that long means
i make it my business to have it.

you can’t always get what you want, they say,
no matter how deep the desire.
true.

but this?
this wheel?
this i can make mine.

and i will have it.

layaway bitches!

**this post is dedicated to the über cool beth smith of the spinning loft. you should give her money for things. i did.

i try to keep entries that don’t involve knitting to minimum
since it’s kind of the point of my blog.
but because brooke insists,

“the holiday weekend is over.. we want the scoop on the “mild debauchery” – dish dude, dish.. we want the nitty gritty of your weekend.. don’t hold back..”

i’ll tell you about my weekend at camp valley view.

just to keep things legal,
here’s some knitting.
i’m testing knitting this little ditty for my friend andrea.
when it grows up, it will be a kimono-style sweater.
when it has a name, and is available to the world,
i’ll give you more details.

but back to my weekend.
i’m afraid brooke is going to be disappointed.
when you’re traveling with four old married ladies
there’s only so much debauchery that can happen.
let’s not forget i did say mild.

i mean, there was everything you’d expect of five dudes at a rustic cabin in rural pennsylvania:

walking in the nature,

artistic expression of the inner self,

cigar/ettes and beer and campfires,

the grilling of meats,

skipping stones,

lounging about,

a best friend,

buying of junk,

and excessive blurry photography.

there was also stuff the camera didn’t capture like nude sunbathing (i was not present for that), nighttime nebbing in trailer parks, tons of wildlife (beavers, deer, an opossum, a toads, a baby rabbit, rednecks, loons, and many many porcupines), and peeing anywhere that wasn’t inside.

if that’s not enough, i did make a bottle of whiskey disappear.
that’s pretty debaucherous.

really, though, trips like this
are about getting away from our lives,
no matter how good or bad we think they are,
and just being a less complicated version of yourself.

at least that’s how it was for me.
i got some quality thinking time in,
and left some of my highly traumatic couple months back behind with the flies.

hope your memorial day weekend was a good as mine,
but somehow,
i doubt it.

i’m sitting in a starbucks in royal oak,

a town where i spent many an hour in my youth
watching movies,
eating middle eastern food,
and smoking camel lights.
you know.
kid stuff.

a lot has changed. (camel lights don’t even exist anymore)
i’m not sure if it’s just living in pittburgh for a the past two years,
or the fact that it looks like a bunch of money got poured into this town.
but somehow,
i feel very underdressed.
like someone’s going to ask me to park their car or something.

i miss the dirtier, poorer royal oak of my youth.

i digress.

this is my third trip to michigan in as many weeks,
doing the whole family duty thing.
mowing grass.
chopping up trees.
moving old people around,
both automotively and manually.

i’m hoping to make this my last trip
before i actually move back here.

last week, while driving home,
i wrote a hilarious little blog post on my iphone,
but the wordpress app ate it.
fucker.

it felt dishonest to try to reconstruct it,
so i’ll just say this: it involved heartfelt comments about my family,
observations about michiganders’ relationship to food a the road,
my current knitting project,
and a cinnabon.

don’t you hate my wordpress app as well?

now, i’m going to eat dinner with this fine lady.

this is mallory (non-knitter),
a good friend from college,
and soon to be doctor.
(i’ve been calling her dr. mally mal since she got into med school)

it’s been almost two years since we’ve been in each other’s company,
but she’s that kind of friend where you pick up right where you left off,
laughing and gossiping like we were 18 all over again.

it feels good to know i have a friend like her in the world.

i hope you do too.

**tomorrow, i’ll show you my big bag o yarn. promise.

on the road

May 9, 2011

when some bloggers travel, you get photos and witty banter from the airport. i, on the other hand, am driving home to michigan, and am too tired to be truly witty.

i’ve got no knitting on me so i hope you’ll be content with this picture of my rest stop breakfast.

it’s not much, but it’s what I got.

besides.
it’s not easy blogging from an iphone.
give me a little credit.

i promise there’s more maryland sheep and wool fun coming soon. just cut me some slack, ok?

sheesh!

d-day

May 1, 2011

right before i went into the hospital,
everything was all set for my summer romp in new york;
i was ready to apartment hunt, and add my body to hordes.

then i got sick.
then there were surgeries.
then i almost died a couple of times.
and the proverbial wrench was thrown into the works.

my internship in new york didn’t disappear.
i just had to wait till my picc line was pulled,
and the doctors said they were done with me.

as of yesterday,
they’re done with me.

now it was up to me to decide if i’m well enough,
strong enough, to take on the big apple.
no pressure or anything.

the truth is,
i am still healing.
i’m weak, and even with big time drugs,
i’m in a lot of pain.

since the day i got out,
the question has been,
how badly do i want this?
is my desire for a summer of fun greater than my need to heal?

finding the answer has been all i could think about for weeks.

and as if my family hasn’t been through enough,
my father flipped his suv friday night and is in the hospital.
(note: whoever decided that waiting all night to notify my mother that my father was in the hospital so she had to wait up for hours wondering where her husband was, fuck you. you should be fired.)

he’s fine,
or as fine as possible.

the pressure has been unbearable.
finally, i just had to ask myself, what do you want?
and the answer came right out of my mouth.

so listen up, bitches.

i have made my decision.

i’m giving up my internship.

shocking i know.

i simply don’t have it in me right now.
i just need to have a relaxing summer.
i want to spend time with my family,
with the people i love.
i need to heal.

soon enough, i’ll be thrown back to the wolves,
to ruthless maw of michigan state’s english department.
don’t get me wrong, i’m totally stoked that i’m going there.
getting my phd has been a goal i’ve worked toward for years now,
and there’s no better place to do the work i want to do than at msu.

but taking this summer means i can really prepare,
that i can take my time to get ready for the next five years of my life.

i always knew i might have to choose between the two opportunities,
that they would end up conflicting with each other.

in any event,
this is what i want,
which i suppose is all the reason i need.

now all i need to figure out is
where the hell i’m going to live this summer.

in other news, i fully recognize that there is only so much life drama you dear readers are willing to put up with before you get bored.
fiber is your drug of choice.

tomorrow there will be a post.
and i promise, it is completely
and totally knitting related.

cross my heart.

freedom

April 22, 2011

well bitches,
i’ve pulled through.
i’m recovering happily at home.

the meds i’m on make it a little difficult to focus,
but here’s what i’ll say:

whatever you feel about healthcare,
who gets it, how it’s paid for, and how we deal with it here,
all i know is that the healthcare system did not fail me.
without it, i would be dead now.

there are several instances where i came close to it.

don’t get me wrong,
it was fucking hell (evidence below).
and it still is since i’m exactly done with everything.
there were times where i felt ignored, forgotten,
like no one would listen to me.

but!
i’m here.
and grateful.

like i said,
the drugs are making it difficult to do normal things.
recovering makes it difficult to do normal things.

but in the next couple days,
i have some yarny goodness planned for you.
stick with me bitches.

mostly, though, i want to say thank you.
thank you to all the readers, inter-knitters, and friends
for your good thoughts, your well wishes, comments and prayers,
for all the tweets, texts, visits, and vibes from across the globe.

it was a dark time for me,
you all helped keep me strong.

so thanks, bitches.
i’m still here!

hospital

April 13, 2011

i begin this post with a caveat; i’m in the hospital, on narcotics, and writing from my ipod. editors of the world cool it, k?

dear blogosphere. i have not forsaken you intentionally. at first, super secret knitting and subsequent lack of anything resembling knitting mojo kept me from writing. then it was the sheer gravity of the changes my life was soon to face. i found everything to be a bit much, and the writing stopped.

for instance:
i surprised everyone by leaving natural stitches a month early. i’d saved enough to pay my bills and thought the time off would be good for me, give me extra time to hunt for an apt in nyc, and hang with the people i love in the burgh.

and that’s when i realized that i accidentally started settling down here. pittsburgh was always supposed to be a stepping stone in my life plans. somehow, after years of being a nomad, my desire to heed the north wind was greatly diminished. i no longer wanted to leave, and had made absolutely no way for me to continue living here.

i have an internship in new york, and position in the phd program i most wanted in my home state waiting for me in the fall.

and yet, i want to stay.

there are people i love here, people i don’t want to lose. people i want to continue knitting with, laughing over tacos or pho or brunch. gossiping, hugging, fucking.

you know. a happy life.

but love won’t pay my bills, nor secure for me a future i’ve been building towards for years. that’s on me.

not making a viable option for staying in pittsburgh is the first real regret i can point to in my life. i guess that’s not too bad for twenty six years.

then things happened that were totally blogable and slipped through:

my final package from my secret pal, a kick ass canadian with excellent taste in yarn (angora merino bitches!) and wool wash (eucylan is all i use). and my first two skeins of my first three ply yarn.

totally noteworthy.

posts only ever written in my head.

just when the super secret knitting was getting close to being finished (about a week early even) so i didn’t feel bad about skipping a night of knitting to hit up my friend’s birthday party, my stomach hurt.

laying down seemed like the best course of action. then everything’s a blur:

calling home crying.
googling an emergency room.
trying to find it (thank you iphone).
scans.
pokes.
serious drugs.

your appendix maybe?

crazytown.

that bitch and I divorced ten years ago.
discharged.
drove home on crazy drugs with rx for more, and instructions for what to do if things got worse/better.
nap time.
more pain.
frantic calls to get a ride back to er.
er now full of people clearly not in an emergency situation, but get treated before me anyway.
more scans with dye in me.
dye makes me feel like i’m on fire/wetting the bed.
more crazy crazy drugs.

it is my appendix.
again.
huh.
apparently, it can happen.

i can never be normal.

almost a week later, after too many strangers have seen my cock, ass, and jiggly bits, after getting excited about farting, and taking the messiest shit known to man (and not being able to clean up unaided), after projectile vomiting sticky green goo all over myself not once, but twice, the long and the short of it is, something is keeping my pipes from fully getting started up again. this means more surgery to cut at scar tissue, and maybe remove some bits i rather wish i could keep.

this is serious. if the surgery doesn’t go well, and i don’t get flowing fast enough this time, it could be months of recovery.

no one prepares you for when the scary shit is gonna mess with *you* this time. luckily, i haven’t been alone in all this or god knows I wouldn’t have made it this far. i got two loving parents, a soul twin, a mixologist/driver, my mother/sister/aunt, two of the best men i’ve ever met to make me laugh and help me walk, and tweeters from far and wide to comfort my weary soul. not too shabby in terms of visitors and well wishers.

plus the person in the next room sounds way worse off than i am.

it’s the little things.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 570 other followers