ILLANNA MAKES ME HAPPY*
by kikiluscious, on the occasion of Illanna's birthday, the First Day of October
For months now I have been scratching entries in my various notebooks, and on the backs of bill envelopes, along the very lines of why indeed Illanna makes me so darn happy. I decided that this, the most auspicious of days, is a good time to try to pull them all together. So, forgive me if things seem even MORE disorganized than usual (Gee, didn't I used to be a writer, for gosh sakes?).
First things first, go wish her the very happiest of birthdays here, on her blog, which you should visit twice a day, at least, just because of how upbeat and fiber-rich her posts always are. For a Foxbot, she really is an incredible blogger. That's actually the first thing that I have on one of the lists. It says, "Her blog is full of knitting goodness."
Perhaps the most important thing about Illanna is that she gets it. She just gets it.
The only thing bigger than Illanna's smile (which is huge) is her heart.
Illanna has good taste in the important things. Things like yarn, shoes, and friends.
She bought me yarn when she hardly knew me, just 'cause I was sick. And it was GOOD yarn, too. First Koigu, then Noro. Both because she had seen me admire those certain colors of those certain yarns once. Knowing Illanna as I do now, she probably even bought me the same dye lots of the particular skeins I fondled in her presence. Knitters among you will recognize the significance of "That Kind of Friend". The sky blue socks make me happier than just about anything (they are the first pair I designed myself, and lacey at that), and the Noro strip is perfect for Steve's big "Yarns of Japan" blanket. She shares my belief that yarn can, or at least should, ease any pain. At the very least, wool soaks up a lot of tears.
Illanna is not afraid.
She will do anything once. Or twice. Or, in the case of the Hourglass Sweater, three times. But she likes to get things right, and it's worth it. You'd know that if you could see in person all of the glorious garments she whips up....and she isn't so bad at the rest of her life, either. I want to be Illanna when I grow up, seriously.
She will listen to me babble on and on about lace. She did this even before she learned the truth about its beauty for herself. She even trusted me on that, although at the time, I am sure that I sounded more than a little far gone on what we like to call "the medication."
There is something weird and wonderful about discovering that another adult likes to eat Onion Rings from Sonic with Mayo. And, she will pick up the Slushes for us during Happy Hour, just so I don't have to ride in the car.
This quickly changed to a shared addiction to Green Tea Crack-a-Cino at least once a day all summer long. Hey, we got a lot of knitting in, sitting under those misters, and we ate a lot of pastries. By "we", I of course mean "I", as in "I'll take a fudge bar and a pumpkin loaf for later".
Nothing gets her down. Illanna can run through Chinatown, upsetting elderly men and their vegetable carts, just to catch the last bus, and then she will laugh about it. I am telling you that she will laugh even if she misses that bus.
Illanna's laugh is contagious, and not in the bad "Cooties" way. Not so long ago, I laughed with Illanna the way I had not laughed in years. I even told insane stories about people she didn't know. There were not even cocktails involved (well, several of the stories starred many, many alcoholic beverages, but there were none present on the day in question). Even after hearing my sad attempts at humor, she just kept laughing, and didn't run out the door when my "chicken meets Scooby Doo" laugh frightened her. Even my pitiful, frustrated tears are not enough to drive her away. I am thinking about asking her to hold my false teeth for me when we get old.
On a bad day, she is who I want to see. On a good day, I want nothing more than to share a cup of tea with her by the pool, over knitting, of course. I even answer the phone just because her name comes up on the caller ID, even when I keep my calls under a minute. A lot can be covered within sixty seconds of "What is that? What are you knitting? Foxbot. Obey my Dog. See you later".
Looking over this list, it looks like I love Illanna for all that she does for me, and gives to me. Not true. Another reason that I love her so much is because Illanna is gracious. She accepts small tokens, things like rocks, snippets of paper, and cheap beads, as though they were precious treasures. Whether it is a huge fountain Coke or a hand-knit sweater, Illanna recognizes the heart-felt. She even accepted my blundering attempts at friendship. I am not proud to say that I am a very bad friend, and have little experience in that area. Thank you, Illanna, for overlooking that, and seeing the intention through the stuttering and flinching. In that way, I love her because of what she takes from me too. Most of all, we all just love her for who and what she is, and that is all that matters.
She is willing to take my kids out of the house. No questions asked. On one particularly Very Bad Day at Work for Steve, she took one look at him as he came in the door and took Lucy to the pool (and where was Lily? Not here. That's the point). She will even take both kids at the same time. Man, her love knows no boundaries.
While on the subject of The Kids, let me tell you something else. Illanna bought them both yarn for their birthdays. It gets better. She wasn't sure what they would prefer, so she bought yarn that I would like. See? She gets it (I later used Lily's Illanna yarn to make Lucy a dress - the "Illanna" dress, actually. I swear, I FORGOT, so forgive me already).
Illanna is selfless. She didn't blink an eye when she had to take over a strange party of twenty first- and second-graders, who were jacked up on ice cream, cake, and soda at the same time that they were armed with scissors. Her only concern? That the birthday girl knew that she was the center of the entire universe that day.
I hope that our dear Illanna, our third child, my Sister from Queens, knows that SHE is the center of everything today, on her special day. Last year, National Knit Day was on Illanna's birthday. It was actually during a meeting of knitters to celebrate that I met her for the first time. I remember when she came in the door, looking so sweet, with her big hair and her nice bag of yarn and presents from PurlSoho. I knew I liked her right away. She just glowed. I was so happy when, a few weeks later, she sat beside me in a crowded room (neither of us knew how to behave in public, and may have been frightened of so many people crammed into one coffee shop, all armed with sharp needles) and wanted to know about, sigh... knitting lace with cashmere. Ahh, the memories. So today isn't just her birthday, it is a celebration of having her in my life for one whole year. I am so fortunate....there really are no words. Notice how I used about a million of them anyway. She is so important in the LusciousGracious household that we couldn't do this whole "Arizona Thing" without her. But even more than that, she means the world to me. She brought sunshine during a very dreary winter, and continues to make this adventure worth it for me. Thanks, Dear, for being not only my friend, but my Foxbot. I love you.
Happiness to all today, as we celebrate another beautiful weekend. Do something lovely for someone you love.
kiki, who needs to go get a tissue now
*this refers to a song called "Tijuana Makes Me Happy" by the Techno-Mariachi band Nortec Collective. Their music is like Mano Chao meets Devo, after you've had too much sugar. Every single time I hear that song, I swear that they are singing "Illanna makes me happy", which makes me happy. As does Illanna herself. You get the idea.