Monday, October 29, 2007

Altitude Hang Over

Wow, I feel like I've been on a 3-day bender!

I had no idea that I'd be so affected by the altitude, but for a few days I did NOT feel much like myself. Not that I'm not often light-headed and giddy, but I'm usually not SO light-headed and giddy (and tired, and dehydrated, and short of breath...)

The students in the class - 20 & 22 in the morning classes, 9 & 15 in the afternoon classes - were so wonderful! Good questions, good attitudes and VERY exceptional knitting!

And then there was the amazing location! We were at a historical education center in Littleton, with horses and geese, folks in period costume and lots of hay. Speeding by on a little motorized cart like some wacky Amish roller coaster.

And here is this lovely rustic gazebo where I spent my break time, refocusing and trying to breathe deeply.

I was stunned and flattered to have Cheryl Oberle in all of my classes - THANK you Cheryl, for your continuous patience and for helping out with others!

I'm not sure how the subject came up, but at one point I totally grossed the entire group out by mentioning my favorite dip for Fritos - 1 part peanut butter, 1 part tomato ketchup & some finely chopped red onion, too. Mix this up and you'll be so happy - seriously. Unless you're allergic to peanuts, then just don't do it.

Will Knit For Stress Relief
But along with one of the oddest physical sensations of my life (being 5,000 feet above my usual level of existence) I had one of the best physical sensations of my life - The Massage.

After my second class on Saturday, Jane - owner of A Knitted Peace (and a very lovely person!) took me out for a beer and dinner. I'd heard that alcohol had more punch when you're high up, and I guess I found that was true. Memory is dim.

Not long after I got back to my most enjoyable room, Ruth came by with her massage table and all the stuff that therapists usually carry around. She'd emailed me a few weeks before my visit, offering a full body massage to help offset the stress and recent back pain that I'd been suffering.

I don't think I've had a gift arrive at a better time. Thank you so much, Ruth.

Stress has been the word for the past few months - and finding ways to deal with it; humor, family time, knitting, walks - this has been my constant struggle. I hadn't realized, though, how all this stress had manifested itself physically inside of my body.

Ruth is exceptionally skilled - although I really don't have anyone to judge her against... - and after being worked on for the evening I felt like a new person.

And now I am a massage convert. Ahhhhhhh. Or should I say, a massage ho.

Something New
Lots of new folks have been knitting up the corset, it's like there's a fresh wave of interest.

This beautiful young woman is Ellie, who knit the corset as part of her wedding dress.

I get a lot of photos from folks, but I've seldom been as gratified as I am by this. I feel like a guest at the wedding!

Treading Water
I haven't been writing, designing or creating much - not as much as I have in past years - and projects that I'd hoped to have finish (or even start) are piling up like haystacks in my brain.

In my lowest moments I fear that I won't be able to get back to the place I was at a year ago - looking ahead toward new book ideas, design ideas, and feeling relatively secure in my place as a teacher & writer. I'm not feeling so secure now, though.

I'm trying to roll with it - not let it freak me out or stymie me more than it needs to. I'm thinking this is probably the best way to work through this period without making it worse by panicking in slow motion.

As I sit down to sketch, to do some research, to write a bit (beyond the blog) so many things come up. Go here, do this, get that done. Be a mom, be a provider, be a healer and organize future teaching enagements (oh, Orbitz, how I loathe you - and how I love you!)

The emotional and physical energy involved in meeting dozens of folks is more draining than one might think. It's true that I get so much out of my teaching and meeting new friends, but right now it's as if I'm receiving all of this love, this care and all of these good vibes - but I am not able to pour them into my designs as I have been able to in the past few years. I'm losing energy - and my kids will tell you that as I lose energy, I tend to get short.

Perhaps writing about it will help me barrel through? Or maybe I'm looking for a path around the boulder I seem to be facing?

So I have about 9 days before I leave for Virginia - longer at home than I've had for a while. Of course, during that time I'm teaching at two venues here in the Twin Cities - so it's not a complete break. But I'm sleeping in my own bed each night - and that's a relief.

I'm not going to push anything. I'm going to see if I can just let some new stuff - new designs, new books, maybe a DVD - flow naturally. Fretting is a damn.

But this not fretting is a bitch. I need a massage.


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posted by Annie at


Blogger Knitting Linguist said...

Oh, I'm so glad that someone gave you a massage, and that you liked it! I think there's something wonderful about being taken care of bodily by someone that there's no pressure to respond to. Teaching requires response. And responding can be exhausting. Massage is entirely about being taken care of.

I'm glad your classes went well (I can't believe you met Cheryl Oberle -- I think I would've swooned)(of course, I'd probably swoon if I met you too, so between the two of you and the altitude, I never would've made it through that class!). I wish I knew what to say about the fretting/not fretting conundrum. I know that the creativity will come back as your life settles into its new routine -- you've had a lot on your plate, and I'd bet that all the creative energy you have has been going into coping with that. Hugs :)

October 29, 2007 9:06 PM  
Blogger 5elementknitr said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your massage! It was so nice to meet/get taught by/work on you.

How's your interosseus membrane?

Thanks again,

October 29, 2007 10:42 PM  
Blogger Northside Knitter said...

My favorite thing to have with Fritos is what my family refers to as "Chili Surprise". Layer a can of chili con carne, Fritos, finely diced onions, and cheddar cheese in a casserole dish. Create a couple of layers and bake in a 350 degree oven until the cheese melts and the chili is bubbly. This has been a standard dish at BBQ's for my family since the early 1970's (at least).

How nice that you were able to have that much needed massage. Now you need to take time for your family and yourself. The rest of it will come, in time.

Best wishes,
San Jose, CA

October 29, 2007 11:28 PM  
Blogger SandraTee said...

I'm looking forward to your weekend at On the Lamb in VA - I just hope I'm a good enough knitter....

October 30, 2007 4:38 AM  
Blogger Yarn Thing said...


It was wonderful to take your class and actually get to meet you. Oh, how I will treasure our the bathroom! LOL!

Hope you come back to Colorado sometime. Maybe next time I will get to take you do lunch like I offered.

Until then,

Marly aka Yarn Thing

October 30, 2007 4:40 AM  
Anonymous PJ in NY said...

Yourn body and mind are putting you into a "time out" to naturally protect you from the overload that has resulted from your big move to MN and Gerry's's a normal thing not to be worried about. Take whatever help and shortcuts come your one will remember in 10 years if the laundry wasn't done in time or a frozen pizza made it to the dinner table! And remember, everyone who deals with alot of people suffers from sensory overload...that's natural too.

October 30, 2007 5:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annie Modesitt - it is me, Saralee, again. I finally figured out how to not e-mail you so that you feel obligated to answer. I am the old lady, remember?

Stay put, sweetie, and don't try to figure everything out. It is hard to feel safe in a world that has been so disrupted for you. No way around the pain - just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I believe it was Winston Churchill who said "If you are going through hell, just keep going." Please don't be so hard on yourself.

I live in Saint Paul and go to Borealis all the time - they are wonderful people there with a warmth thst I hope will warm you! I know that the classes go well for you. I wish I could be there but this old lady is WAY too intimidated by classes.

October 30, 2007 7:43 AM  
Blogger Cursing Mama said...

I am a professional fretter (I'm fretting over the tone of this comment right now!) and am hopeful that you'll find a way to fight the urge to fret. (And then will share with the fretting masses)

I'm disappointed that I won't be able to attend any of the classes you're teaching locally this month - just couldn't work around the kids schedules. Hopefully soon though.

October 30, 2007 8:00 AM  
Blogger Knittah said...

Annie, I have a chronic illness and so I have unfortunate familiarity with the wrung out feeling you describe. When people are showering you with love and care, but you are not able to pour that back out? That means that you are refilling your tank! Be gentle with yourself. This year has demanded great resources from you, and I know your stress is not over. You are using every bit of energy to care for your family in a variety of ways. Of course there will be little left over for designing. So recharge your creative batteries. When the energy is there, I know those designs will come pouring out. In the meantime, start building up your reserves. You can't spend long in the completely-tapped-out place without getting sick yourself.

October 30, 2007 9:16 AM  
Blogger Julie said...


I grew up in Littleton, but didn't start knitting until I moved to Oregon for college. I go to A Knitted Peace with my mom whenever I come to visit, and have always thought it was a great little shop. The altitude change never bothers me, but last Christmas when we visited, my skin dried out so much it chapped, even with serious lotion applications multiple times a day. I seem to be turning into an Oregonian without realizing it!

October 30, 2007 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Sylvia said...

Annie just have to comment that the knit corset on the bride is absolutely breathtaking. The shape and style suit her perfectly. A well-executed garment from an excellent pattern. You should be very gratified.

October 30, 2007 12:42 PM  
Blogger Connie said...

This post has been removed by the author.

October 30, 2007 12:49 PM  
Blogger Connie said...

You've had a lot of stress and uncertainty in the past few months. It's really not altogether surprising that you've felt you've lost some of that designing/creating mojo. You'll get it back.

You're such a giving, generous knitter and designer. You've definitely inspired my beginning designing efforts and I hope you get satisfaction from how much you help people... Take care.

October 30, 2007 12:51 PM  
Anonymous ellen in minnetonka said...

Seconding all of the lovely comments in re: the convertible, the massage, etc. The slow down in design and writing about knitting seem reassuringly normal to me, and I strongly suspect they will be followed by an intensity of creativity that will be a thrill for all of us, including you, to behold.

October 30, 2007 8:07 PM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Annie, my husband was very seriously ill the summer before last and then my stepson died (he was mentally ill and lived with us, although he was an adult). It's only now, a year later, that I've begun to be able to create again. All that grief and stress really saps creativity.

Go as easy on yourself as you can.

October 30, 2007 9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Annie,
It's your biggest fan, from OH. There were times when my aunt was sick that I would say, 'Keep your mind like and empty cup, because an empty cup is a full cup.' It's a Zen saying. Basically, when you let things go... only can your cup be refilled. Sometimes, when you are so stressed and full of anxiety, the body takes over and the mind rests. I like to think of these times as when God is watching over me and helping me find a way.

Much love to another survivor, for this is something you WILL survive.

November 02, 2007 12:50 PM  

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