Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Alexander & Relativity

Call me Alexander.

Ok, not quite the opener that "call me Ishmael" is, but then, I'm not out hunting white whales. Instead I'm having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Hence, today my name is Alexander.

Only my day isn't quite as traumatic as that stalwart hero of kiddie lit. I got to sit in the seat I wanted in the car (I mean, hey, I'm the driver) and I don't pay enough attention to what I put on my feet to care if I get the tennis shoes I wanted.

No, it was really just one thing that set me off. Granted, since the one thing had the code word "ex" in it, it was, in typical ex fashion, a bit more serious than minor (Although a total goof on the ex's part, it nonetheless represented serious hassle for me. It fit the pattern for us.).

I even slammed a door. In 99.9% of my life, I am not a door slammer. My kids suddenly became extraordinarily well-behaved and quiet (to be fair to them, although this doesn't happen often, it does happen a lot more than .1% of the time).

I needed to calm down, so I went to get groceries, even though such a move represented a complete lack of logic on my part. No biggie; I live to be illogical.

So off I went. Once outside, I peeled off my gloves. It was in the 20s (Fahrenheit), and gloves felt too warm.

If you think I'm out of my ever-loving mind, I hasten to point out that it had been between -20 F and -30 F for much of the week. Forty to 50 degree hikes in the temperature tend to skew your perspective.

Starting the car, I realized that my kids had been incredulous that other kids long ago had gone to school in 20-or-so degree weather with no coats because the day was so "warm" and had then perished in one the worst blizzards to ever hit the Midwest. How could anyone think 20 degrees was warm? To say they scoffed would be putting it mildly. After one winter here, they now complain that they are hot when it gets to twenty, though after hearing the stories of the people in the book, they keep the coats on. (The book in which I read about this storm is called The Childrens' Blizzard, by David Laskin. It's heart-breaking, gripping, and never once does the author show anything less than the deepest compassion for the people about whom he was writing. Check him out.)

Is 20 degrees warm, or cold? It's all a matter of perspective (sorry, but it just sounds too hippy to say, "It's all relative, man." Maybe using dude instead would help?). I started mulling over the idea of relativity. (Well, kind of. It's a short drive to the grocery store, only six minutes or so. But I think quickly. Well, kind of.).

Relativity is the state of being dependent for existence on or determined in nature, value, or quality by relation to something else (thank you Merriam-Webster Online for the nifty definition). I wondered. Does that mean if I look at everything in a positive light, then the positive aspects of the situation become more relative than the negative?

Ok, maybe I think too quickly to be either logical or coherent, but bear with me.

For example, what if I looked at everything from the perspective that the fact that the person who peeved me so badly today is now at least only doing so once a month, rather than on a several times a day basis? This is progress, of a sort, especially when I consider that there are several wonderful states between us. So, be angry today, or just be thankful that today is the only day he made me angry?

This is rather Zen thinking, especially for me. I tend to mutter and freak and mutter some more when angry. And I did do that. Just not for as long as usual, which was odd, considering the bind said person inadvertently placed me in—and then had been too irresponsible to rectify.

I decided to enter the grocery store in this rather, not happy, exactly, but kind of detached accepting state, and see what happened. It was crowded and rather than running over slow moving little old ladies or kids with no cart control, I was patient. I moved serenely through the crowds (Have I mentioned I hate being in crowds? Especially if I have no knitting or crocheting in my hands?).

After I got the food, I wandered past the magazine rack to look for the knitting magazines. This, you understand, is an exercise in futility. I've never seen a knitting magazine there. (Oh, I'm sorry. I should have warned you to sit down first.) Crochet? Yes, thankfully. Quilting? Check. Beading? Plenty. Knitting? None. Ever.

What did I find today? Interweave Knits. Three days before it was supposed to be out on the newsstand. Three whole days early, where it had never been before.

It was a relativistic sign. I knew what I had to do.

I went to do the impossible. The especially impossible on a day which has just had a serious terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day hole blown right into it.

I went to find solid yarn to match the yarn that probably-shouldn't-be-used-for-socks-but-I'm-using-it-to-knit-my-little-Frankensocks-anyway yarn.

Did I find what I was hoping for? It's all relative, dude. (Hmm, not sure about that either…)

Besides, my skeins and I are reading the Knitting and Fine Art column right now. It's one of our favorites. We'll report back later, complete with pics. Until then, feel free to write in your own happy ending. Just give me a different name than Alexander, if you don't mind.

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