Turning points

Sometimes, you don’t recognize a turning point in your life until you get some distance from it. One day in early 1983, I decided it might be fun to spend some time in Europe as an exchange student. I didn’t realize until years later how much that decision would change my life. Living in another culture with another family changed me in so many ways–it opened me up to the world, to new cultures, new foods, new ways of thinking, new kinds of appreciation. When my high-school French teacher suggested I might want to think about this exchange program, who knew what an impact that would make? I needed distance to recognize it as a turning point.

Other times, though, turning points slap you right in the face.

Today was a day off for me, and I’d planned to spend the day in Ithaca, doing some shopping, getting some yummy foods from Wegman’s, checking out what bargain books are left in the going-out-of-business sale at Ithaca Books. I checked my email one last time before heading out the door when the phone rang.

It was my boss.

It was my boss with a tremor in her voice.

It was my very kind boss, who would do anything in the world for those of us on her staff, with a tremor in her voice.

And she had some bad news.

You know what comes next.

This is the all-too-common story of corporate mergers. You’ve heard the story so many times it’s downright trite. Company A buys Company B, then they streamline the business to become even more competitive in the marketplace. They eliminate redundancies to improve the bottom line. It’s just business. Nothing personal.

Nothing personal. A painful phone call from my boss, as well as the HR rep who has weeks of this kind of phone call ahead of her. A packet of information about the transition will be overnighted. “And if there’s anything we can do to help…”

Turning point.

The bad-news phone call was followed by a flurry of calls—from concerned co-workers and former supervisors offering help and advice and sympathy. But when it finally quietened down, I sought solace for my Turning Point in another sort of turning point: my Kathryn Alexander hat.

It took me a long time to work up the courage to start this hat. After winding all the gorgeous colors into balls and drooling over the gorgeousness of it all, I suddenly hit a brick wall when I read the directions. Say what??? I’m supposed to do what??? I read them over and over and over again. Bewildered, I kept bringing the instructions out, then packing them neatly away, embarrassed by my apparent ineptitude, despite 30+ years of knitting experience.

Then I jumped right in.

This is one of those patterns that makes absolutely no sense until you have the yarn and needles in your hands. You can’t picture it (or at least, I couldn’t), you just have to do it.

The directions call for you to never turn your work—instead, you’re supposed to work one row from the right needles to the left needle, as normal, then work the next row from the left needle to the right. I just couldn’t figure that part out, so I had to figure out how to knit my regular way and make the pattern work.

And I did it!

But boy howdy, there are a lot of turns to make! Yes, if I could master her unorthodox method of knitting, I could knit faster without turns, but I am still enjoying this hat despite the fact I’m turning the knitting approximately 800 times a minute. But this hat is FUN! And it’s going to be a BLAST to wear—assuming, of course, that I sized it up correctly. The original pattern makes a hat to fit an 18-inch head. My head is massive—I normally wear a 22-inch hat, so I had to add quite a bit to the pattern to make it go over my great noggin.

I’m glad to have such an engaging project at this particular time. There is something so soothing, so calming about working on a satisfying project during a time of great stress.

More on my career transition to come. In the meantime, I have lots more knitting time. See, a silver lining in every cloud!

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2 Responses to “Turning points”

  1. Way to jump right in. I’m sorry about the news, I’ve been in a similar situation. Aas my husband explained to my grieving relatives (and for some reason they were grieving) when it happened to me 4 years ago — it’s just a job. It sucks completely, but you’ve got a great attititude! Enjoy the hat! I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

  2. Oh, Tracy! I’m so sorry to hear about your news! That’s such a stressful thing to have happen. Hang in there, and keep us updated on what’s happening and what this means for you right now. I love hearing about your hat, though — good for you for diving right in. I’ve found that some knitting is totally like that: a doing exercise, rather than a planning exercise. BTW, I tagged you on my blog (I slipped you in after the formal list 🙂 — how does anyone choose just ten?!).

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