Monday, April 07, 2008

Why I Love Folks in St. Paul

Update: Hattie, thank you SO much! I'll be in Atlanta this weekend, but I'll definitely come again! And we sold the bike! Huzzah!

This morning it's snowing. And the weather guy on the radio said, "We could have it worse, we're actually pretty lucky... They got 2 feet in other parts of the state!"

And I love that. The realism, the gratitude that we're not being dumped (with no hint of gloating), and the 'sit up straight'-ness of the tone of the announcer.

I'm not so nuts about the snow, but it's a testament to how much Max and I have come to love our school walk that we're gearing up to stroll that mile to Randolph Heights right now! And picking up a friend on the way! Hardy stock, these folks.

On Friday - when it was 60 degrees - we went to the batting cages (Gerry watched, and I could tell he was just chomping at the bit to hit a few, but not with his back or bones...)

And then Gerry found a bike on Craig's List for Hannah (unfortunately, she's outgrown the lovely Peugeot that we bought her last year...)

And now we're selling that same bike from last year, improved, on Craig's List!

we scooted on to Woodbridge and snapped up a Schwinn for the girl! Yahoo!

Gerry is working on getting my end-of-last-summer bike purchase (a used 3-speed Sears) up and running for me (I still mourn the theft of my Motobecane last June...) Maybe it will stop snowing by May and we can ride them?

Local Knitting
Last night I went over to a Dunn Bros Coffee where I'd been invited to join a group of knitters who meet at various places. The woman who asked me had invited me before, but I'd never been able to make it.

It was a very nice group - but there was definitely sort of a sense of, "Who IS this person ...?"

I'm afraid I didn't make matters better when I took it upon myself to show one woman why her stitches were twisted every other row. What can I say - I couldn't stop myself.

But it bordered on inappropriate. Thankfully the victim of my impromptu knitting lesson took my injection of expertise graciously! I stayed for a few hours, and it was a lovely place to be for a while.

Driving home I felt sad. It was such a nice group, but a new group (to me) and I'm not part of them. Yet.

Agent of Loneliness
And then the blueness in the car began to swamp me. This usually happens when I'm on the edge of getting a cold, and - voila! - I'm sniffling today.

I just feel so darned responsible for the stabs of loneliness that everyone in my family still feels. We're making friends, it's true, and the ones we're making are absolutely lovely.

But sometimes you make a friend and then they kind of fall off the face of the earth (life overtakes them) and you find yourself wondering, "What happened? Was it something I said? Something I did? My breath?"

We each of us in the family have had that experience this year - as does every human being. With experience you begin to realize that this is something that we all do to each other, this falling off the earth thing, and that makes us take these episodes in stride. It's hard, but it's perfectly understandable. It's easier to forgive something if you've made the same mistake yourself.

Thankfully both kids haven't had this happen much, but I sense that we're all sort of withdrawing - not being as outgoing as we'd been in New Jersey (where that outgoing-ness is met head on by other folks.) Atticus is lonely, that's for sure...

Perhaps it's the transient nature of living in the NYC area - folks there evolve into people who make friends more easily simply because they MUST. Swim or die.

Here so much social interaction is family driven, so many folks have friends from 10, 15, 25 years ago, that there just isn't the need to open up the circle for new people to jump in. So when we're invited over to a friend's house for a game party (as we were on Saturday), or when I'm asked to come and join knitters (like last night), or when Hannah gets a call for a sleepover, it means so much to us. Which is another reason I love folks in St. Paul. And Minneapolis, too...

Now we just have to find a play date for Atticus.

Translation to Work
This is akin to the feeling I get when I've taught at a venue, but I'm not invited back. Positive comments from past students run about 80 to 1 compared to negative comments (but then again, folks who write to me are a self selecting group...)

But when I'm not asked back to teach at TNNA or Yarnover or a similar venue, it makes me so sad. I thought I did a good job - the comments from folks were really positive...

The grown-up, not-getting-sick me knows that a LOT of factors go into a decision, and I'm invited back to places a LOT more than I'm not invited back. The me with tissues stuffed up both nostrils and a slight fever takes this and runs with it... Forgive my lapse into the pity pool. I'll dry off now.

And like a wasp in a window screen, the few nasty things from mostly anonymous sources find this tiny hole in my self confidence and squeeze through. I hate wasps.

But I love the folks in St. Paul.


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posted by Annie at


Blogger Nancy said...

We moved from California to Connecticut (my hometown)12 years ago. My husband always complained how hard it was to make friends here. Now he has a solid base but it did take time. You will all find it too.
As for me, I think sometimes I can be overwhelming to people I meet for the first time because I talk ALOT and maybe scare them off. I would have been happy to have you correct my twisted stitches.
And by the way, I'm using the combination stitch on a sweater using Classic Elite Provence and it looks FABULOUS. So thank you again for your class.

April 07, 2008 11:28 AM  
Blogger Janice in GA said...

Ya know, I think it's great that you're recycling Hannah's bike back thru Craigslist, but "An excellent bike for a fast girl!" may not be the best advertising slogan.

/said gently and with love/

April 07, 2008 11:37 AM  
Anonymous maureen said...

If you're in the market for a nice bike for cheap, you might want to consider seeing if your local police department offers public auctions. When I lived in the Midwest we would buy our bikes from the police sale of stolen and unclaimed property. Most of it is junk, but you get some great bikes there, too. I got the best bike I've ever owned for about $70 plus a $30 tune-up.

April 07, 2008 11:41 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Sounds to me like you are still looking for your place and your tribe in your new home! I can certainly relate to that "was it me?" feeling. Sometimes I miss how easy it was when I was still in school to meet people and find common ground. Of course we had nothing else to do besides live and study together...sometimes being a grown up is such a bother!

As for your knitting group experience - I agree with Nancy - you can come and fix my knitting any time!


P.S. I really appreciated your thoughts on folks to press their need for hope on you. It is good to know that that thoughtfulness is better than unrealistic optimism.

April 07, 2008 11:58 AM  
OpenID kmkat said...

My dogs would LOVE a play date with Atticus. Unfortunately, they live 75 miles away -- maybe we can work something out this summer :)

Re: Yarnover. I have no inside knowledge of how they decide anything, but I suspect they may like to have different teachers and speakers each year. Give them a year or two and I bet one of the organizers says, "Hey, let's ask Annie Modesitt again! Remember how good she was that other time and how much everyone liked her? It's time have her again."

April 07, 2008 1:11 PM  
Blogger Trinity said...

Have you been to any of the off-leash spaces in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for Atticus? My dogs and I now live in the Boston area and we miss the abundance of off-leash parks the twin cities have. Here is a link I found for the St. Paul park:
Just one more thing to love about your new home!

April 07, 2008 1:17 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Oh, how I know the feelings! We are currently in a hotel in Denver moving into a new house. I am DETERMINED to make more friends that we did in Indy. Finding friends is so hard. It isn't like when I was in kindergarten and could go up to people and say, "Hi! I'm Nikki, wanna be my friend?" Totally embarassing, but my mom was right... it worked. Now I feel like I am trying to date, only with a Husband and two little boys in tow. And I am dating women.

Our area of Denver reminds me of St. Paul. Large trees, neat old homes, shops scattered here and there. Then I think of you. Because you write so nicely of my home state.

If you want to drive up to Maple Grove my parents have a black lab that could use a friend. Plus, being MN Lutherans, my parents would feed you :)

April 07, 2008 3:11 PM  
Blogger Lisa C. said...

Hey Annie,

We moved to Central NJ 12 years ago. For the first time in my life, I found it hard to make friends. A therapist friend told me that it takes 3 years to become part of a new neighborhood. It happened for me and my boys. It will happen for you guys too.

April 07, 2008 3:19 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

My husband has a cousin who is an interior designer. One of his other cousins is *still* talking about the day Ann came to visit. Apparently, the furniture was completely rearranged by the time she left. My mother is in the cosmetics industry, and she is constantly offering unsolicited opinions (or asking probing questions about what they use). So don't feel so bad - lots of people do it :-).

April 07, 2008 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Hattie said...

Hi Annie,

As part of the group you visited with last night, you are very welcome and your knitting skills and help were appreciated!! Most of us in the group have moved to the Cities in the last few years and have commented on how hard it is to find friends. Now that we have each other I think we forget about that, so please don't give up on us and come back next week!

April 07, 2008 4:00 PM  
Blogger OfTroy said...

buy your self a bag of the 'candy' style vitamin C's (the CVS/duane reade brands/walgreen brands are always cheaper)

each candy has 60mgs of Vitamin C

(or as much as your body can use in 1 hour)

take 1 an hour.

a huge 1000mg Vitamin C is mostly "excreted" after an hour or so (what your body can't immediately use gets flushed out)

take 1 candy an hour (the citrus flavor is soothing to the throat)

it might not cure the cold faster (but i think it does) but is sure helps you feel better (less tired, less fever) for $2 its a good thing to try (and if after 2 days, you don't agree.. well you won't have lost much (in money) and there are no major side effects.

i buy the 100 'candy bag' at the beginning of cold season.. and i find it really helps!

April 07, 2008 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friends are hard to make. We know, because we moved here 6-7 years ago and number of folks we counted as friends are still very limited. People tend to turn to their families and friends that go back years and years. My strategy is to go and look for transplanted people like ourselves. I made few friends that way. It takes time.

April 07, 2008 7:35 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

I'm sorry you're feeling disconnected. I wish St. Paul were a little closer or taht we'd have had more time to connect in Rochester (but you were understandably busy then). I hope you'll be able to make some friends with the Dunn Bros. crowd in Minneapolis. The Dunn Bros. crowd in Rochester says hi!

April 07, 2008 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog.
I detect a hint of real sadness-like I felt when my boy was diagnosed with diabetes. You never know what the day will bring but nevertheless hope your loved one will be okay.
Love and best wishes.

April 07, 2008 10:11 PM  
Anonymous twinsetellen said...

Annie - if you are willing to drive to the Minneapolis side, you are welcome with our group any time. I will email you details. And remember, I have a dog and a fenced back yard.

April 07, 2008 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Annie, it was so great meeting you yesterday at the Dunn Bros. for knitting. I was absolutely amazed watching you knit! The advice you gave to my friend about her crossed stitches was very much appreciated. You are a wealth of information. You are definitely a welcome member of our group :) I hope you can come back and knit with us again soon!

April 07, 2008 10:55 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

You're thoughts really struck home for me. It's been a big change for me moving away from a small college in Decorah, IA, which housed some of the best people I'll ever know, to a small city where I knew not a soul. One night during the first week I lost internet connection and my cell phone died. I've never felt lonliness and disconnect like that in my life. I ran around town trying to find a payphone anywhere, and ended up crying until I fell asleep.

Then there generally comes that long and hard transition to finding your place where you eventually fit in. You can't really mark the point where you suddenly have friends and a community, but it happens. I haven't hit that point quite yet, but it's a journey to get there, and I'm glad I'm not alone in it. I'm with ya.

April 08, 2008 12:41 AM  
Blogger Kathleen C. said...

Like a lot of the other commenters I've dealt with the difficulty of making adult friends in a new place. It's hard.
I'm lucky that my husband has stumbled into a great group of guys who have welcomed me in as well. Weird to to think... I've lived here more than twice as long as he has but he's the one who made friends...
Oh well, anyway they come is good.

And if I may, most gently, suggest... you might all have found yourselves withdrawing more, where ever you may have lived... What Gerry is going through... what your family is going through... might it not be drawing you in together? Focussing your energy to the bonding of your family group?
Does that make sense?

I think one reason some poeple offer unreasonable hopes is that it's so hard to know what to say. I want to say that I hope the best, whatever that may be, is possible for you all. I know that the possibilities aren't all positive, but I want to offer support and hope and only good vibes.
So that is what I offer. Good thoughts you and your family's way.

April 08, 2008 9:51 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Please, be inappropriate and help me fix my twisted stitches. I know it's in how I purl, and I know I could just knit through the back loop to untwist, but I'd rather fix the purl. :-)

April 08, 2008 10:12 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

Hey Annie,
I read your blog all the time (although I am a bit of a midwesterner and tend not to comment a ton on other peoples blogs). I just wanted to let you know that even a person who has lived in the same small town all her life can get that feeling of, "was it something I said?" or "am I trying to hard to make friends?". I think it is something we all go through when those old friends that we were so close to either move away or we end up moving away from them. Of course, I was always the girl in school that was friends with the new girl until she found out I wasn't all that popular and moved on to the 'in' crowd, so maybe it really is me ;o)
I doubt it though because I'm pretty nice and a wonderful person to be around--and even though I have never seen or talked to you before--you are, too ;o)

April 09, 2008 3:48 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time and admire your honesty and courage. I can identify with the difficulty making friends; even as a life-long Minnesotan, most of the people I know tend to keep to their extended families or long-ago school friends. Living in the St. Paul/Roseville area, I have neither---no family or former classmates close by, and it's been difficult for me to connect with people outside of work. It might be fun to have some kind of a knitting "mixer" for those of us looking for a local like-minded knitting group to check out, but I'm not sure how to do that. in any case, hang in there.

Also, when the grass dries up, the Lauderdale Park uses their hockey rink as a dog park. We take our dog there summer evenings and it's really fun. I can give you directions if you're interested, it's not far for you at all---near the St Paul U of M campus. It's also a good time to chat with people. take care, Jane

April 09, 2008 8:25 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

I think finding a knitting group is one of the hardest things to do. Some are very long standing, some are run by a "teacher" with a fee involved, some discourage spinning wheels and some are just too far to walk/drive after a long day! I think the next stage is to set up a "Knit Night Out" on my own, here in Saint Paul - I'll keep you posted!

April 10, 2008 1:13 PM  
Anonymous twinsetjan said...

In my 28 year (so far) Navy career I've moved 14 I REALLY appreciate your thoughts on what it's like to have to find your way in a new environment. Fortunately, my colleagues are all in the same boat. After a few times we all become pretty adept at it. The wonderful thing is that from each place we find one or two lifelong friends -- some who stay in close contact and others with whom we feel instantly comfortable even if we haven't seen them or heard from them for 10 years. And they're folks we'd never have met if we hadn't moved.

I do still sometimes go to the pity pond, but the stays (for this reason anyway) are pretty short these days. A good friend said it's okay do dangle your feet, but don't dive into the deep end.

Hang in there! Don't forget you've got this family of friends in the virtual world.

April 11, 2008 5:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as one bred Minnesotan, some of us, at least, have deep wells of shyness/reserve. And sometimes that comes off as being unfriendly or unwelcoming, when we don't intend it to at all. I don't know if this would apply to anyone in your group, but it might.

I wish you could pop into our Madison monthly group. And if you did I would probaly be so over-awed that I wouldn't say two words.

April 13, 2008 9:13 PM  

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