Friday, September 30, 2005

In all the time I've worked in advertising, I've never felt icky about it. Actually, I've always felt rather sincere. It's not like I'm selling carcinogens or trying to lure folks further into debt by signing up for credit. I'm promoting nursing books, medical references, you know – knowledge that saves lives! You know – like, Dear Health Care Professional, please buy this new book so your patients won't die!

I felt a little weird about a request from a client earlier this week. She asked for a brief message to include in a newsletter that talked about how truly sorry we are about the hurricanes, how we've made large, corporate donations to the relief funds, and how proud we are of all the hard-working men and women who, etc. etc. etc.

It's all true, I'm sure every person in the company wishes only good to befall his fellow man. I don't think any monetary donations made by the company had any ulterior motives other than to help the afflicted.

But I kind of think this message did.

I guess that's what bothers me. Good is accomplished by doing good, not by talking about it. Not by patting yourself on the back for it. Certainly not by earning the admiration of others for having done it.

It's no big deal, really. It just made me very glad that I get to feel sincere 99% of the time and still earn a paycheck.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Test Pattern

Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

The "sample pattern" for the Mystery Shawl has been posted, which I'm supposed to knit so I can determine what gauge is best for the yarn I've chosen.

Must... Not... Panic...

It's only lace. People knit lace all the time. Lace is just one stitch at time. Just have to get the hang of it, that's all.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present: Ten Weeks of my Life!

Knitty's Hush Hush

It was knit mainly on #2 needles using a blend of cashmere/silk yarn that I reclaimed from a sweater.

This is a close-up of the "feather & fan" lace edging on the bottom and top:

Detail of hem

Was it complicated? Not really. Did it just about kill me? Yes. Because I can't count.

So then, because I was inspired by my crocheting friend Carole who was making flowers at Tuesday Night group recently, I added this nifty little flower detail:

Detail of flower

The bow in the middle of the flower is cleverly disguising the embarrassingly mistake-riddled construction of the flower itself. Did you know that a yarn-over doesn't automatically include a knit stitch after it? Yeah, I do now.

Overall, I think I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I'm mostly pleased that I managed to stick with something for so long. I think I'm going to line it and wear it in public if I can get over how slinky it is. I like its 1930s appeal.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The bastard's done! Knitty's Hush Hush nightgown is finished, blocked, and detailed. But you'll have to wait for pictures because I'm lazy. If this angers you and you can't wait, there are some unblocked and undetailed pictures on Flickr. But you'll have to hunt for them. Because I'm lazy. I think we just covered that.

My next project is going to teach me to follow directions. It's the Mystery Shawl. Doesn't it sound mysterious? Doesn't a Mystery Shawl sound like the kind of thing your grandkids would find in your attic after you're dead and make up stories about it?

Actually, how it works is every five weeks they reveal a new piece of the pattern. You have no idea what kind of ride you're being taken on.

This means I can't skip ahead and ignore the directions, make stuff up, or fudge my way through it. If line 34 says "[k3, p4, k1, yo, k1, yo] 12 times" then that's what I'm going to do.

This project will tell me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, if I really am pattern stupid. And if I am, I can seek help. I'm sure there's a support group.

The only problem is I don't have anywhere near enough of the yarn I was planning to use for it. With ALL the yarn I'm hoarding, I don't have enough of ANYTHING to make a shawl.

I went to Gary, looking for sympathy. He patted me on the shoulder. "Okay, so buy the yarn you need."

"I can't just buy the yarn! That costs money. I should just use whatever I have laying around."

"You can't knit without yarn, dumbass. You don't have to ask."

"Yes I do!"

"No. You don't."

Then he showed me a picture of the $1200 bike he wants.

"Oh," I said.

And he didn't really call me dumbass, either. He's just that cool.

So help me decide which color to make it…That Tangelo is awfully fun, but is it mysterious enough?

Friday, September 23, 2005

A friend of mine asked if I wanted to take a belly dancing class with her.

Belly dancing has so many things going for it. It appears to be loads of fun and great exercise. It involves the wearing of glittery things. I love dancing! Oh how I love it, although I have all the grace and rhythm of an epileptic sea monkey. And the curvier you are, the more you have to work with.

But let's be honest. I don't have curves. I have wiggly flab, and wiggly flab does not lend itself well to dance.

Right now, my flab knows how things stand. It knows it's expected to sit absolutely still at all times with its flabby little hands folded tightly and primly in its lap. No sudden movements. No peeking out from under sleeves or over waistbands. I make its life very unpleasant so that it doesn't get any grand ideas and start spreading out and loosening up.

If I start adorning it with clinking maillots and colorful, flowing scarves, the flab may begin to feel accepted and even loved. It will probably begin expressing itself all over my thighs, rear, and upper arms, and clamor for attention wherever we go. I will have loud, flamboyant flab. It will create scenes in public places, demanding lipstick and nachos.

But you never know…maybe that's a good thing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A couple of things.

First, I really should drink more water. And so should you.

Also, there is a blood drive this week at work and every time this happens I have to have the same argument with myself.

Me: We should give blood. It's the right thing to do. People need blood.

Me2: We've been through this. Let me walk you through what will happen. We'll dutifully fill out all of the paperwork, secretly feeling a bit sad that we've skirted in above the weight cutoff. They'll prick our finger and determine that we have plenty of iron. And then we'll recline on a gurney, squeeze a ball, and try to present veins.

Me: Yes! And then we'll give blood.

Me2: No, we will not. We'll try to pretend we're strolling the streets of Paris while the nurse pokes around for a vein. Then a good ten or fifteen minutes and several dozen puncture wounds later, the nurse will shout Eureka! and we'll see a stream of red fill the tube and travel its merry way to the collection bag.

Me: Exactly! So what's a little discomfort when the tradeoff is helping someone in need? Let's do it.

Me2: You're obviously forgetting what happens every time we're about three-quarters of the way to a pint.

Me: Um…?

Me2: Nothing. Nothing happens! Blood completely stops flowing and no amount of needle jiggling, ball squeezing, or silent pleading will get it going again. The nurse detaches the bag, pats our arm condescendingly, and mutters something about maybe using our blood for plasma when we both know perfectly well it's just going to be tossed.

Me: Oh. Yeah. But at least there are donuts?

Me2: You want a donut that badly? I will freaking buy you a donut. Loser.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Today's thoughts upon waking: Was I perhaps run over by several trucks last night?

Thoughts upon rolling to the side of the bed and perching on the edge of it while waiting for my bloodflow to catch up with the rest of me: Oh wow. I cannot possibly go to work today.

Thoughts while showering: I have to go to work. Perhaps I'll pass out and be sent home.

Thoughts while getting dressed: Or, maybe I should head off the passing out and call in sick. That is why people have sick days, after all. To avoid the embarrassment of passing out in the halls and requiring others to get all up in your Rescue 911.

Right now I'm cooking a turkey burger because I believe it's the one thing in this house I feel the least like eating. I don't know why. Ask the dog, he's the one who's going to end up with it.

He thinks he's so smart. He doesn't even know how to twist open that little spout on the mustard bottle.

Yesterday I became distracted while driving to a hair appointment and ended up nearly 30 miles from my destination.

"Hey, I think I'm lost," I confessed to Gary via cell phone, since I'm one of Those People who has a cell phone now.

"Where are you?" he asked.

"I believe I've just crossed a bridge into Destination Unknown."

"Isn't there a Ford dealership near there?"

"Oh, yep, here is it coming up on the left. Want me to pick up an Escort?"

"I'm good."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Gary and I were flipping channels the other night and landed on a few minutes of a stand-up routine. A woman was railing against stereotypes of what women consider to be sexy in a man.

I'll tell you what they should show in porn for women, she said. A man who wants to talk to you. About your feelings. While standing over a stove cooking you dinner. And taking care of the kids.

I looked over at Gary. "You are the perfect man," I told him.

He shrugged modestly.

I married a man who can cook, which is something I didn't know at the time, and neither did he – having lived most of his bachelor days on cheese fries, nachos, and a variety of other cheese delivery systems. But once he started actually cooking, he found that he had the ability to take several things out of the pantry and combine them in ways that I consider to be sheer genius.

Saturday, Gary decided to make a stew. We've talked about stew before and how it's one of the things we miss about not eating beef, that wonderful, stringy beefy stewyness that our mothers forced on us as children and that we now look back on with such nostalgic fondness.

Instead of beef, he used pork. And red wine, and tomatoes from my garden. Potatoes, carrots, onions, all the requisite stew stuff.

Behold. Sitting in a bowl before me, it looked like the stew of my youth. It had that same familiar, comforting aroma. Upon tasting it, I immediately set down my spoon and asked my husband to marry me.

And then last night he made chicken enchiladas. And we talked about our feelings.

I am not worthy.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I remember very clearly being about 2 or 3 and having just outgrown one of my favorite dresses. I had a complex thought in my head and tried to express it to my mom, but it came out as, "I can wear it next time when I'm a baby again!" I immediately felt stupid because those weren't the right words. But I didn't know the right words. My mom made me feel worse when she laughed and started explaining that people get older, not younger. I pouted and thought to myself the toddler equivalent of "Duh, mom!"

It amazes me how very young kids seem to instinctively grasp the concept of reincarnation in a way that makes me think maybe it IS just that simple.

Little Gert and I have had several existential conversations about people who have died and come back as new babies. And fish who die and are reborn as cats. And people who come back as mosquitoes (which I firmly believe will become of at least one person I've had the misfortune of knowing in this lifetime).

I find it a much more comforting philosophy than anything I was ever taught about heaven or any other version of the afterlife. That, in fact, this is the afterlife, and the life after that, and the life after that, until you finally "get it" and break the cycle.

Gertrude has been here before, I'm certain of it. She seemed to have been born anxious to bypass babyhood and develop enough motor control to start her current inquisitive journey. All the time she screamed and fidgeted as a tiny baby, it seemed like she was impatient. She wanted to hold her head up, and when she could do that, she wanted to stand, and then she wanted to walk, and now she wants to read and write. Sometimes I see her sitting on the couch with big, fat novels, without pictures to hold her attention, just staring intently at the pages as if she's saying to herself, I know this…

I also like the idea that groups of souls travel together and find each other again and again, that your brother may once have been your best friend. Or that your true love was your true love many times before. I was describing this idea to Matilda and her eyes lit up at the thought. I told her that when she was born, I recognized her, in a way that's impossible to describe in words.

One of the most beautiful concepts I think I've ever heard is that given an unspecified number of lifetimes, sooner or later we will all have been a parent to each other. The woman who butts in front of you in line at the drugstore, the boss who berates you, the kid on the playground who kicks dirt at you…at one point this person may have held you and loved you unconditionally, taken care of you while you were sick, rocked you to sleep. I find it very difficult to hate anyone when I think of that, maybe because as a mother I know what that kind of love feels like.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

It started with one guy riding his bike to work. He was gawked at and held in odd but sincere esteem, considered to be a hard-core fringe dweller. Then another guy rode in this morning. I am sincerely considering becoming the next to join in.

Here are five good reasons why I should ride my bike to work:

1. I live less than five miles away.
2. Exercise is healthy.
3. I love riding my bike and I don't get the chance to do it enough.
4. Riding home at the end of a stressful day would undoubtedly dissipate all of the nasties.
5. I don't have any misshapen limbs, injuries, or health conditions that prevent me from doing it.

Here are five good reasons why I shouldn't.

1. Gary and I would have to work something out for dropping off and picking up the kids, unless I can devise a way to securely fasten them to my bike frame.
2. Traffic and hills.
3. Everything I bring to work would have to fit in a backpack, including my lunch and a change of clothes.
4. Although there IS a shower on the premises, that seems a little creepy. It's more likely I'd opt to spend the day stinky, sporting weird helmet hair.
5. It would be impossible to drink coffee on the way in.

Is convenience, efficiency, and the luxury of arriving at work sweat-free worth $3+ at the gas pump? Probably. But I think I want to do it just to be one of the fringe dwellers.

Plus, it's the kind of thing that will make a good story when we're all driving futuristic electric cars.

"…And then, kids, gas prices hit three dollars per gallon! (Heh heh, I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it was pretty steep in those days.) And we all hopped on our bikes and said a big, collective eff you to the oil industry! The next year, your grandpa and I bought our first hybrid…"

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Have you seen my desk calendar? Because it was on my desk last week before I left work, and all things being equal, it should have still been on my desk this morning. I wonder if I've made enemies I didn't know I had, or perhaps pissed off the cleaning staff. It's an odd thing to go missing.

We spent Labor Day weekend pursuing interests. Matilda baked a cake (with not so much kitchen assistance as moral support). Gertrude experienced the joy of laying paint on an empty oatmeal canister. Gary plotted out some much-needed improvements on his bike. I, um. I knitted, okay? I knit. It's what I do. Catch up, sparky.

So let me ask you this purely hypothetical question. Is it at all logical to make the leap from "wouldn't say no to a surprise pregnancy" to "sure, let's get pregnant!"? And if not, why not?

We haven't had any discussion on it, except the unspoken understanding that as a happily married couple with stable income and housing, a baby wouldn't necessarily bring our lives crashing down around us. It's just a thought that's been popping up a lot lately: "why not?".

I'm sure not everyone puts a lot of thought into the decision. Most people probably do not make pro and con lists, they just decide it's something they want to do. Or they're granted a surprise. Matilda was definitely a surprise. So was Gert, although we did fall into the wouldn't-say-no category – until Gary's company started laying everyone off a month later. That made the timing a little inconvenient. Plus we were all cramped in a leaky apartment. It wasn't perfect, and we were a little freaked out. And Gert cried a lot. But you know, it's life.

Oh hey, I just found my calendar. That's auspicious.

I know I don't want more than 3 kids. I like having 2 kids, and Gary is happy with two. But really, here's the thing. I feel like I cheated myself out of the experience with Matilda. I spent the entire first trimester in denial that I was even pregnant. The second and third were mainly filled with denial, regret, guilt, and anxiety. I tried to avoid thinking about it as much as possible. I didn't buy maternity clothes or baby toys. I just told myself next time I'd do everything right.

With Gert I did, right down to the natural childbirth experience. But I always had it in the back of my mind that Gert would be #2 of 3.

Plus, I'd kind of like to know what it's like to actually "try" for a baby. Not that I think it would take much. Boys from Irish Catholic families can knock up girls just by thinking impure thoughts.

It's just an idea.