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Knitting in Anger
by Nicole Freire

On Friday I sat in the waiting room of a therapy office, surrounded by 6 (six!) other people. I was feeling very warm and fuzzy and very YAY for mental health. Feeling good about other people taking care of themselves, feeling good about trying to be gentle to myself, thinking good thoughts and mulling over how this ‘yay' for mental health would make a good column. And I think it will make a good column, but not for today.

Because today I just want to stab people with my knitting needles. Lucky for you all, I only have my bamboo knitting needles in my bag, so the tips of them are blunted and can only cause minor damage.

But let's talk about anger, shall we? It may not seem like the most graceful of topics for a breezy column that usually dwells on silly topics like making your own granola (I'm still doing it by the way, every Sunday afternoon) and not being able to dress myself (yesterday I could not get comfortable at all because the pants I was wearing were too freaking small and my shoes hurt) but frankly, I've been angry and I need to talk about it.

You don't need to read about it, I suppose. You can just click on over to something else. Aha! Did you see what I just did there?

I just apologized to you and tried to steer you away from this column. Because that's the nice thing to do, the ladylike default setting that I (and other women too, I suspect) automatically fall back on.

See me talk about being angry! See me apologize not one paragraph later, apologize even before I started my stupid story!

I just did it again.

I tried to start talking about being angry and immediately tried to defuse it by denigrating my own thoughts on anger. Apparently I want you to think it's just ‘stupid' or ‘silly'.

Heaven forbid I make other people angry while trying to talk about my own anger.

Yesterday I went to the dentist. Why has the modern world changed so much and yet we are still reduced to having our teeth scraped with sharp metal objects? I was lectured about my receding gums, even though I am the model of good dental hygiene. I brush, I floss. My receding gums are not my fault, so please stop telling me I'm brushing too hard. I just have bad gums. I am not a bad dental patient. I had to take a lot of Tylenol. I was angry.

Then I went to the doctor and waited for ages. I am not complaining about that part, because I love my doctor and she takes time with her patients. I had a good book to read and a comfy chair to sit in. I was angry at my sinuses, specifically, my right sinus, which is drowning in some sort of unbelievable grossness that you do not want me to elaborate on any further. Said grossness looked at a ten-day course of Augmentin and spat at it, saying, "Bring on something real for me to fight!" So now we are fighting it with the next level of antibiotics. I am angry.

I am trying to switch from glasses to contacts. So far this is working ok, except when I drive, so I frequently panic and honk my horn a lot, much more than is necessary but everyone is driving so badly and I want very much to punch someone.

Not really, the punching part. But maybe!

Then I went to Rite Aid and got a flu shot. While I was waiting, I tried to come to grips with my anger. Seething anger. White hot lightning I want to kick something anger. I would like very much to key your car door anger. I wish for bad things to befall my enemies anger.

I thought about what other people do when they're angry. They fight, they drink, they yell, they punch people in the eye, they play rugby, they kick kittens. I don't do any of those things. Especially the kicking kittens part.

I just mentioned kicking kittens. Everyone who stuck around for this long is shaking their head sadly now and clicking over to see what other columnists are writing about. Certainly not kicking kittens.

I did it again! Apologized for being angry!

So, back to trying to channel my anger. I sat there at Rite Aid, staring at the condom and lubricant display and thought to myself - hey! Here's a topic I can channel my anger into! Here is a topic I will passionately defend to any audience. Look! Birth control. It's available to anyone. You don't need to be 18 to purchase it. No one will strike you dead in the aisle for trying to protect yourself. Everyone should have access to safe and inexpensive birth control.

So I did what I often do, I got my camera out of my purse and took some pictures. Yes, pictures of the shiny birth control and STD protection section of the pharmacy and I started mentally defending my position and the column to accompany it.

But guess what! All the pictures were blurry. I am not making this up, I can show you the blurry photographs. And I am angry! Not about the topic, but about the fact that due to some combination of medications I take, in the early evenings my hands shake. So I couldn't take an in-focus picture even if I wanted to.

And then I came home to some news that kicked me in the gut and took my laser sharp anger and swerved it into the anger that just gets into my stomach and churns there while I silently grind my teeth.

From vampire teeth sharp anger with clear direction straight into anger that has no face. Just the anger that calls out for Tums, and then starts pleading and begging. Making bargains with the universe. Please universe, make X stop. If X stops, then Y will happen. If X doesn't stop, can we try substituting Y with Z? How about this? No? That? How about X plus Y divided by Z and multiplied by zero?

How about I'm angry that my knitting projects always turn into scarves because knitting patterns are written in code? Code that looks a lot like math. How about the expensive wool yarn I bought that I hate having to touch? Because it's scratchy and I can't make it into anything that looks pretty and I am so angry about it; my lameness at knitting, my lameness over not being able to control the entire universe with my own thoughts.

If I cover my anger with a knit scarf, can you still see me seething? If I try to make you laugh will you excuse my anger? Can I deflect my anger into grandstanding about female reproductive rights? Can I take my anger and channel it into killing the virus living in my sinus? I don't know. Can you handle an angry woman? I know I'm having trouble with her.

Oh, that would be me. The angry columnist. The teeth gnasher.

Come back next Wednesday. I have a lovely column in mind.

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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.

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