Monday, March 26, 2007

Does not play well with others

Ann & Kay of Mason Dixon Knitting are visiting Portland this week -- Wednesday afternoon. The yarn store isn't close by but it's not far either. To go or not to go.

I'd like to meet them and hear them read/talk/throw mitered squares into the air, since I find their blog entertaining and I think they'd be entertaining too in person. Some people have mentioned how their book makes them feel free to play around with yarn, to experiment with pattern and color and texture. I think that's fantastic, because it's my personal belief that my entire culture is losing that feeling of playfulness. People don't sing, because they're not good enough and the message is that they should Leave That To the Professionals. Or dance or joke make movies or write books. Because we're just amateurs and why bother when THE PROFESSIONALS do it so much better? Anything that encourages people to be creative, to think on their own - I think that's valuable and useful. Just because I don't do dishclothes (another story, not for now) doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy listening to Ann & Kay.

But I'm hesitant and torn, see? Because the last time I did one of these Big Author Events (last year's Yarn Harlot signing), I felt so profoundly alienated I felt alone for days. It's perverse, considering I was, for the first time, completely surrounding by masses of knitting women. My people. People who laugh at the cardigan/pullover joke. People whose eyes glitter and shine when you talk about yarn instead of glazing over with boredom. People who understand your obsession with decreases.

Yet in all that crowd, they all seemed to know each other, and nobody knew me. They were all very polite, I'm not saying otherwise, I just felt as if it was at a big cocktail party for the wrong company. Everybody was there with their own friends. And I didn't know how to break in. Did I even want to break in?

It's me, OK, not anyone else who's doing this to me, but just me. I don't blame anyone but my nasty twisted psyche. If I weren't quite so sequestered into my own personality, if I practiced harder at my socialization skills, I would have joined into the conversations, been less on the fringes and more involved. It's just hard, and I don't know if I have the energy for it. I don't want to cope with the alienation again right now (I also would prefer not to stand again for 3 hours, but hopefully I could get there early enough to get a chair. Or a bit of floor).

I know part of my reticence is because I work almost entirely with men. I'm extremely bad and out of practice with talking to women, face to face. I'm also, how do I say this?, not so good at the acting-like-a-girl thing. I identify as female, I just don't do a lot of the same things most women I know do. I don't even want to get into some gender-identity argument, I'm just staing facts. My mother-in-law, who is much better at the girl thing, and I get along best of all when we're both extremely drunk.

So there you go, too much information about my psychological hangups. I should just get over myself and go, huh?


Kristen said...

Can you imagine how different the world would be if Simon Cowell had been around to throw his negativity at someone like, say, Bob Dylan?

I hate people like Simon Cowell. Anyone who takes a hopeful, aspiring dreamer and reduces him/her to nothing more than dirt on his shoe can suck it. Simon can suck last, too, so he gets all the other suckers' germs.

When I read your opinion of Ann & Kay, it immediately struck me that they could be this generation's Elizabeth Zimmermann. I mean, if EZ had had the resources to photograph her work so artfully and print it all in stunning colors, that would accomplish about the same thing.

I can almost imagine the alienation you described - not because I'm so outgoing and popular that I'd have to imagine it, but because I think if I'd ever gone to a book signing (I haven't), the same thing would happen to me - however, if it were a yarn store I'd like to check out, and authors that I really enjoyed reading and would like to support, I'd go. Screw 'em if they want to get all cliquish. Bitches.

Terri said...

You are not alone. It is so hard to break into a group. Even when you know members of the group. I was at a function last yer where I knew lots of people. But I was not one of the chosen few, and there I was hangin on the sidelines. I left. No one even noticed. At least they never asked why I left so early.

A day at the mall talking about fashion and hairstyles? I would rather poke a red hot needle in my eye!!!

Too bad you don't live closer. I would go the reading with you. And we would laugh!

Krista M said...

You should go. It's okay that it's just you. I wish I lived nearby and we could go together! I also identify better with men, and it does cause some hangups, but you should just go with the attitude that it is a learning situation, kind of like a college seminar. You are definately good enough for anything you want to take on.

pacalaga said...

Repeat after me, "Oh that's BEAUTIFUL, what yarn/stitch are you using? How do you like it?"
Girl, I feel the same way you do, and even had to go to a different TOWN for the last Harlot signing. I said that to someone, and she chatted at me for quite some time after that, showed me what she'd brought on her spindle, etc. It was the magic phrase. :-D
Or, you could always bring someone.
Good luck, and GO! This is one step easier than a cocktail party, because you are guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with almost everyone in the place.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alice! I'm a new reader.I'm dreading going to see the Yarn Harlot next week for the same reason. I belong to the local knitting guild and I go to all the meetings. Everyone is very nice but I just don't have the 'history' with them that they have with each other.

michelle said...

I have been going through almost the exact same debate with myself about attending this event. I don't know what it is, but I ain't got it. A few years ago I had a humiliating experience at an event that caused me to stop blogging for a month and shook my self-image to the core. It is at least half a myth that there is a deep and instant bond between all knitters and all knitbloggers. Setting oneself up by buying heavily into this myth is asking for a painful lesson. If you go, you may or may not find someone with whom you are simpatico. It's a risk. If you go in the right frame of mind, it won't matter what happens. If, however, like myself, you don't think you can conjure the right frame of mind, save yourself the trouble and stay away.

I'll save my thoughts on the ironic cannonization of certain knitting personages by knitters looking for creative freedom for a time when I can keep a civil tongue about the matter (i.e., never).

PICAdrienne said...

I understand how you feel. I am the only woman at my company in a technical position. The other women are in HR, sales, and marketing.

I am about three and a half hours north of Portland, so I am not likely to make any readings down there, at least not on a work night. However, after reading your blog, if I ever do, we should grab a beer together.

Zardra said...

Don't worry, you're not alone. I even have this sort of problem at my LYS. I've been going there for, geez, it's got to be about 4 years now. I helped move the shop a few weeks ago. Yet, I listen some of the other regulars talk about having done things together and wish they'd think to invite me. I know I should try to speak up for myself a bit more often, but I hate to impose.