August 2006 Archives

Mmmman - an early mushfest

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For someone as generally haircut-reluctant as myself, I realize I'm hardly in a position to complain that Eric goes so long between cuts (or that his last one came from his mom). However, wouldn't he look gorgeous with his hair like this? Costnerlicious... no no, costnacular. Hehehe.

I am excited because this weekend his mother returns from her month-long trip to Finland, so I get my sweetie back in Brooklyn (he has been cat- and house-sitting in CT). He asked me to make the rule that he's not allowed to move back in without getting his hair cut, so I've happily obliged.

Though I am one of the single greatest proponents of Alone Time, I really miss him and realize how often I wish he were around. Plus there's a lot of heavy stuff and things in out-of-reach places that I've been doing without.

It occurred to me the other day, as I realized our second "anniversary" is coming up (do you have anniversaries when you're dating? my first boyfriend celebrated monthiversaries and I thought he was kinda insane for that), that I've known Eric for seven years. I met him in 1999, when I was 17 and a freshman at Trinity. He was in my first drawing class, and he had this delicious vaguely British ex-pat's accent. He pronounced gestures with a hard G ("guess-tures") and was adorably enthusiastic.

It took me oh, two years, to get over being so awkward and nervous around him that we could actually consider one another friends, and by my junior year, he was far and away my best friend, which he's remained since then. I think Eric's love for Smokey played no small part in his regular presence around my room.

I didn't start this entry planning to talk about how we got together, but since now I'm all mush-headed thinking of it, I'm gonna.

In 2003 I moved to Brooklyn and was feeling incredibly detached and disconnected from all my friends and social life. Eric was one of the few people who regularly came down to visit, and we IMed each other more or less all the time. I was in a pretty messy relationship and while cynically dealing with its aftermath, I found that the times I most looked forward to were visits with Eric - going to museums or galleries, driving around and having death flashes, hanging out on my fire escape, getting blitzed at random Mexican restaurants near Union Square (which we've never been able to find since), and generally enjoying being in the city with my best friend.

I asked him to be my date to our friends Kari & Eric's wedding, and he cheerily accepted. I don't think I'd seen him in a suit before that and was stricken with how handsome he was (something you don't usually notice about platonic friends). While slow-dancing, I found my cheek brushed up against his and being held in the improbable expanse of his shoulders,  I felt that suddenly everything in the world was right. It's a terrible cliche, but being in such an intimate proximity with someone so right, I finally felt at home.

I didn't want to pursue a relationship because I didn't want to screw up our friendship - something he's since also said was a big concern of his. I didn't want to bring the baggage from my past disastrous dating experiences onto him and destroy his idealism and optimistic beliefs about love. I did everything in my capacity to convince him and myself that I wasn't ready and didn't want to date him, even as I was laying my head on his shoulder or holding his hand at the end of the night (don't you love girls who give mixed messages? I know I do).

At the end of that summer (2004), we were invited to another wedding, that of our friends Duane and Jen. Eric and I made a lot of plans and put together what we were calling the Best Weekend Ever, which it definitely was and then some. The night of the rehearsal dinner, we kissed for the first time (if I'm to be honest, it was really the second, but the first was on my 21st birthday when I was really embarrassingly drunk). We'd just been eating mini glazed doughnuts, and I can say confidently, it was the sweetest kiss I've ever experienced. Anyway, magic, fireworks, fairy dust and all that, we decided to try dating and had a wonderful time.

After the wedding we drove back to my parents' house, and it was a chilly night so I brought a big comforter out to the hammock, where we laid under the stars giggling and talking. One of my fondest mental images of Eric is from that night, with moonlight glinting off his eyes and teeth, grinning ear to ear.

It wouldn't be me if I didn't do my best to sabotage things, so I freaked out when I got back to my daily life in Brooklyn and he was all the way in Hartford. I convinced myself this would never work and we were crazy and we should just call the whole thing off, and I chose his birthday to tell him all this. Again, don't you love girls like that?!

He came to visit me the next weekend anyway, despite the emotional rollercoaster I'd put him on, and I have to give him credit for persistence because it became abundantly clear to me that I was in fact in love with my best friend and wanted nothing more than to be with him.

And the rest, they say, is incredibly cheesy history. At some point we decided on a date which would mark the technical beginning of our relationship, but I always forget if it's the 3rd or the 4th of September (we started dating somewhere in between). Either way it's been two of the best years of my life, and I am happier than I've ever been.

Who'd have thought that I was such a good judge of character at 17?

(Looking through all these photos from my old website, I've decided I want to rescan them and get larger versions online - yknow, in that abundance of free time I have.)


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If the three classes I've had thusfar are any indication, I think I'm going to really enjoy this semester. And I think I've got a much better outlook on this whole art thing as well...

Weirdly, a revelation came as I was cutting out pattern pieces for a dress. (Bear with me on this.) I tend to look at painting as a "body of work," a whole and complete series, or some grand overarching statement of who I am and how I want to engage the world. And really, it's not. It's a series of little projects - the kind I used to get lost in and obsess over until they were complete - which when combined, allow that kind of statement or theme to emerge. I don't really need to bring all the 80-odd unfinished pieces in my studio forward into a cohesive body, nor do I have to fixate on one idea or definition of how I make art.

Looking around my living room, I have at least five knitting projects actively in progress, a big pile of charts and supplies for others, and as soon as my yarn gets here, I plan to cast on for another. But it's not just knitting. I have needlepoints going on, a dress I'm sewing, a shirt I plan to bleach a jellyfish motif onto, a handful of batiks in progress, shoes I'm embroidering, and shoes I'm reconstructing, among a whole lot of other things. Somehow my crafting life is in extraordinary balance and causes nothing but joy. I thrive in the diversity because I can accept that all of these items are independent projects and need not necessarily accumulate into some great Wardrobe Statement or what have you.

The same is not true with my painting, and that's really what I have to change more than anything else.

Today I had my first thesis class, which has truly been the source of my anxiety since starting grad school. At first it was playing out like a slow-motion nightmare - as I was the only student the professor and everyone else didn't already know, she decided we'd go to my studio first. Of course I was not even remotely prepared, and though they indulged me a few minutes to hide the things I really didn't want out, I was really really panicky about having them all in there.

Then I was put on the spot. We didn't just stand around and frown at my paintings as usual - my professor asked me to talk all about my art and explain what I'm interested in and how I'm trying to do it and why and on and on. And she didn't just accept short or dismissive answers - she pushed me and actually paid attention to what I was saying, then gave extraordinarily useful, constructive feedback. I was stunned. The other students were so helpful and considerate as well, and for the first time since starting at this school, there isn't anyone even remotely jerky in this class! They are warm, friendly, engaging, and interesting. The one girl I was a little hesitant about even said that I shouldn't be afraid to show things which are very raw and in progress since, after all, they're all there to help, and maybe I could most use feedback in those stages (she is absolutely right).

We talked for a really long time (like half the class?) and dug really deep into what works and what doesn't in my paintings, about why I'm trying to connect things instead of just leaving them as finished (or abandoned) projects and moving on. My professor suggested I focus very specifically, and as she has a background in physics and biochemistry, she was able to explain it in terms of a pure experiment and why that is the most useful approach to painting. It should be said: I love this woman. She is smart and insightful, goofy and funny, and intensely sharp without being discouraging. Her criticism is perfectly constructive and explicit, but she is so open and accepting of ideas and other opinions. Unlike a lot of professors I've had, she knows it's not about her at all, and she even said she considers her job to be a position in service to the students. She completely understood what I was going for and was able to talk with me about how to develop what are now the beginning glimmers of concepts into serious endeavors, rather than continue swimming around confused any longer.

So I'm stoked. I have direction and parameters and I know what to do now. I'm going to break things into projects and enjoy them, the same way I enjoy my crafts at home. I'm not going to fuss over crossing media or how my photography or writing or whatever fits into my work - it does because it's part of me and what I do, and it'll come out in its own way without being forced.

Another class I'm very excited for is my Monday afternoon Art of the Book. It's not just about the techniques of bookmaking (which are very exciting), but also the concepts of books, collecting and disseminating information, and the aspects of communication awakened by creating and sharing artist's books. She showed us a Dogon divination book which was several pieces of wood or bone latched together and hanging from a smaller piece as an example of a non-Western book. It got me thinking all about animals and bones and life cycles, and I went off on a thought tangent about wanting to use leather and bone in my work. Eric teased me when I later described what would amount to a Deer Necronomicon, but there are some ideas in that which are highly intriguing. I'm really looking forward to doing the various book projects for this class, and I think it will help me think about organizing and presenting information in innovative ways.

This morning I had one of the two art history classes I'm taking this semester, as I mentioned, Northern Baroque Art. I think I'm going to really love this class and I already love the way my professor teaches it.

I'm setting up another assistantship with her where I'll be putting together a website of the course images with printable study guides and the like. Since digitizing slides and working on the database was a big part of my undergrad job, this should be an easy project and will help me work out some of the design curiosities I have (I'm trying to think of a new gallery set-up for my art site, so this is good practice). Bonus, it's paid web design experience, which never hurts.

Tomorrow I have a painting seminar, which I suspect will go very much like thesis did today (I am really hoping we don't have to go to my studio again, but I've never met this professor either). This is the first time I've taken more than one painting-focused class, as it seems redundant to me to go around doing crits day after day on the same work, but a lot of students take several painting sections at a time and not a lot else. It's sort of a relief that I'll be able to double-dip as far as talking about the same work in thesis & painting, but more to the point, it will give me a chance to really focus on that without some other discipline (like my photo class or anatomy or somesuch) interrupting the flow.

Other than that, I have a Methodology class tomorrow evening (and to attest to the depths of my pathetic reality television addiction, I was relieved that it gets out with plenty of time to get comfortably settled in forProject Runway, but dismayed that it means I will be missing the first runs of America's Next Top Model). I'm stoked for this class because it's with my Michelangelo professor, who is also the head of the Venice program - I really like her and she's one of the big reasons I applied for the dual degree, so I'm looking forward to having another course with her.

On Thursday I have my assistantship, which I've decided not to be nervous about. They're undergrads. I was exempted from surveys in undergrad because at 17 I had adequate knowledge of art history to score high on exams, so at 24, I think I'll be okay with it. It's not like they've gone and fabricated a whole history of art I didn't know about - I just need a refresher (and yes, I've been poking around the Web Gallery of Artfor days now just to remind myself that I do love art and know more about it than I give myself credit for).

In addition to my classes, I'm also kind of teaching myself French, as I have to pass a reading and writing exam to go forward with my art history thesis. Now that I know I don't have to speak or do listening comprehension, I'm not at all worried about it - as I may have mentioned, I can already understand a lot of written and spoken French, and I'm a big enough nerd that I will get right into learning the grammar and vocabulary. I still do want to learn proper pronunciation at some point, but seeing as I still speak Spanish with a valley girl accent after 8+ years of study, that level of finish may have to wait.

When I'm not doing academic stuff, I'm also trying to learn to sew and am considering giving myself semi-regular garment challenges. Obviously that is on the back-burner, but it's good to have carrots, yknow?

So my theme this semester is Craft. Taking pleasure in doing something and doing it well. Rather than amalgamating everything I do into a slurry, I want to be articulate and precise in each individual pursuit and allow patterns and concepts to develop organically and fluidly. Follow the natural order I speak so much of and see if that helps me find the peace and balance I believe exists.


Just plain WOW.

A nice coincidence

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Earlier this summer I started reading the José Saramago book Blindness, which is intense and amazing, but very heavy and dark to read.

To take a break, I picked up another book and was up pretty late last night reading it. It was Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, to do with a mysterious Vermeer painting and its fictional provenance through the Netherlands, then Nazi Germany, to present. At the time I started it, I was just looking for something kind of fluffy and have been reading it as such.
This morning I had a 9am class (and I'll write more about my classes later) - Northern Baroque Art.

Turns out my outside reading is actually kinda relevant.

Now I'm definitely moving Girl with a Pearl Earring up on Netflix.

Yay family

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I just got back from a lovely visit to NJ for my Dad's birthday. Usually his birthday weekend is the most gorgeous weather of the year, but this time it was rainy and cloudy, which was more than a little disappointing.

My dad and my brother were at a bachelor party until late last night, so I had a fun girls' night with my mom and we stayed up really late talking about all kinds of fun and interesting stuff - always a treat.

This morning we gave my dad his gifts, and as the day progressed into puttering around the house, my mom & I went out shopping briefly. I got supplies to sew a new dress, to be worn to a family friend's wedding on the 9th. My mom lent me a Singer book all about sewing, which is just incredible. I'm beyond stoked to learn to make patterns and actually understand garment construction and sewing techniques. Heh, I also got a box of new black pens, comprising the entirety of my back-to-school preparation.

When we came back I visited with my dad while my brother prepared a fantastic dinner: crab bisque and crab cakes (can you tell they went crabbing this week?). Seeing as I'd brought home a small batch of crab dip (which my brother and father enjoyed while we were out), I'm surprised those two aren't growing swimmerettes by now.

Unfortunately my mom has a deathly shrimp, crab & lobster allergy, so she was not able to enjoy the crab feast. Poor Mom - they were delicious!

We all sat around talking and laughing, then we had key lime mousse with a graham cracker crust, which was spectacular. Despite the rain, I think my dad had a happy birthday.

I neglected to post at the time, but my mom's birthday occurred while we were in Costa Rica. When we got back, we sang a dual-language version of "Happy Birthday / Felíz Cumpleaños" and enjoyed a nice little carrot cake.

My parents are so cute. It was wonderful getting to visit with my family!

I'm reminded that I still owe the internet my Costa Rica photos. I really am going to get to them soon, swear....

Tomorrow is my first day of class and my terror and intense anxiety has all but subsided and now I am looking forward to it. Go figure.

Bonus - I also acquired a really cool couch that had been deposited in our hallway on Thursday, which will class up my studio something fantastic. Pics to come.

Wielding the Salami of Justice...

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I was talking with Duane and Dan today, and as frequently happens, we got a little... imaginative.

Dan works for a large deli distribution company (probably one you like very much). He went to a meeting today that had a genuinely impressive spread of meat, ironically not of their brand. After lengthy discussions of meat and its wonderfulness, Duane suggested we make Dan a superhero costume - he would be MEAT MAN! He would wield the Salami of Justice, naturally.

Amidst our continued joking, Dan stumbled across an mp3 for the Jerry Lee Lewis song "Meat Man." Intrigued, I searched the lyrics and found a delightfully crass and fantastic song.

Behold - one of the greatest tracks ever recorded: MEAT MAN!!!


Oh, they call me the meat man
Ya oughta see me eat, m'am
Hear I'm the meat man, baby
Ya oughta see me eat, m'am

I got jaws like a bear trap
Teeth like a razor
Got a Maytag tongue
With a sensitive taste

A born in Texas
A land of beef
Never cared much for greens
Ya' oughta heard I like meat

I'm the meat man
Woo, oughta see me eat, now
Whoa, I'm the meat man, baby
Ya oughta see me eat, now

I been down to Macon, Georgia
I ate the furs off a Georgia peach
Plucked me a chicken in Memphis
Mama, I still got feathers in my teeth

Ate a pound of pork Huntsville, Alabama
From a fine Alabama hog
I went to Dallas, Texas
Got no love, my baby left me
Fed the bone to a Louisiana dog
Hear me talkin'

A meat man
Woo, meat man!
Yeah, I'm a meat man, baby
Ya oughta see me eat, m'am

Yea-ea-eah, it don't make me no difference
Just as long as it's good meat!
I ain't got no preference
If it's dog or rat, I eat

It don't a-have to be U.S. Governmental grade
With stamp a-no Grade 'A' seal
As long as it lean, it full-a protein
I'm gonna damn sho' get my fill

Oh well, they call me the
Meat, meat, meat, meat, meat
Meat, meat, meat, meat, man

Meat man! Hoo!

RelatedMeathead - I'm totally making one of these for Eric's birthday!

UPDATE: Holy crap, there is a Meat Man Comic!!! In the mind-boggling combination of stoner storyline and Christian parables, he wields the Pastrami of PAIN, buahahahaha!

I actually finished something

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No, it's not a painting. Though I have been painting a lot and am getting somewhere with it, finally. I promise I will bring my camera to the studio next time I go.

Anyway, I designed and sewed this sleeveless top:

(Clearly I've spent too much time on Craftster lately.)

I wanted a top I could wear a bra with, hence wider straps and the high rise in front. I also didn't want my armpits hanging out or that whole "hey check out my chicken cutlets!" thing that a lot of sleeveless blouses do.

See? Can't see my bra straps - yay!

(I know it's a silly thing, but I have a particular neurosis about women's bras showing, even if they're really pretty bras. It gets to me in the same way that I can't look at people when they're eating pesto and get basil in their teeth. If you really want to see me experience apoplexy, deliberately wear a top that cannot physically cover the bra you are wearing, such as a halter over a straight-strapped bra. It will drive me crazy all day and probably for weeks after.)

I am now positively in love with my sewing machine and consider it my dear new friend. After messing up so many things, I've gotten really good at threading it, and I didn't even get flustered when I had to refill the bobbin.

I think that the next thing I sew will be from a pattern so that I can learn more about fit and construction... and make something I can really wear often in public.

The quiet panic begins

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Yesterday I attended a meeting of incoming graduate students for the art history department. I willed myself not to have a full-blown panic attack beforehand, but I was still kind of a mess by the time I got there. Quite why, I can't say, but it was a roomful of new people, almost all of whom I'm required to see again ... that's always really scary for me.

It didn't help that I changed clothes ten times and was a few minutes late as a consequence. Seriously, am I twelve years old?!

Everyone was really nice and intensely intimidating - they're all polished, professional and accomplished, and when I looked around the room, I wondered how again the department even considered me... but I've already concluded they kind of had to, given that I was currently an enrolled student in another program.

(In case you didn't know, I have zero confidence in myself in art history and more or less don't believe I belong there, so this scares me daily).

Then again, this time last year I was hyperventilating and falling apart any time I even thought of school - Orientation was a total blur because I was freaking out so much about having to meet so many people, let alone adjust to a new school and a new apartment and a whole new life. The fact that I didn't cry when I got home last night counts as a major victory for me.

And that's pretty sad.

I am not really prepared to deal with massive heaps of social anxiety yet because for once I have legitimate stress: the summer is almost over and I am not even remotely prepared for my MFA thesis. Which begins next Tuesday.
I've been painting, but not really productively. And I've been thinking - obsessing really - but not terribly intelligently. In a week, I'm going to have to look my new thesis advisor (whom I've never met, but whose reputation as a brutally honest and tough critic precedes her) in the eye and stammer out what I plan to spend the year painting, what I want to focus on, and why. And damnit, I have no idea.

Every time I try to put these things in words it sounds hopelessly flaky and uninspired. I have notebooks full of nonsensical rambling about "spiritual energies" and "natural order" and how "looking at a perfectly-ordered moment in a natural object is seeing the face of God." This isn't really gonna cut it. At this point I'm basically saying "I paint little parts of beautiful things because umm, beauty is beautiful." I've been trying to put together words to describe moments which exist outside them, visceral and moving experiences... and I don't know how to do it, much less make my paintings evoke them.

I don't have research prepared except the same handful of artists I've always loved (and it does bode well for me that they are related in an interesting way at least). I am terribly afraid to say yes, I really do still love Georgia O'Keeffe. How does an artist place herself in history without saying "It's like if Georgia painted what Eva Hesse sculpted" in quite those terms?

Argh. I don't know what to do. Except keep on painting and see what happens.

And maybe go to museums tomorrow and try to remember why I make art.

I also gave up my perfect schedule by taking on a graduate assistantship grading an undergrad survey class that meets on Thursday afternoons. I break into a cold sweat every time I think about meeting the professor and interacting with students, but I'm sure it will be a good experience. The best part? Yeah, I never took a survey class in art history, so I'll get to audit it and get a book to use and get paid for it. I plan to grade a survey II class in the spring so that I can get the second half of missing information, and then maybe I can stop feeling so stupid about art.

I can't believe classes start again in less than a week. And that I only have a year to somehow put together a painting thesis. And that I have to figure out what to do with my apartment while I go to Venice. And that I somehow have to translate all this into a job to pay back the hundreds of thousands in loans I just signed promissory notes for.

Making things

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When I go out of town, Eric tinkers with electronics and plays hours of video games. It seems that when he's away, I compulsively make things.

I should mention that I've started several new paintings but repeatedly forget to bring a camera to my studio when I go (I've been going in the mornings when my brain is not quite on). Also, I'm a lot more self-conscious about in-progress paintings than craft things. Something knit is really "What you see is what you get," whereas paintings tend to undergo radical transformations which cannot always be foretold by washy underlayers and suggestive stutters.

So, crafting update it is.

The Eve sweater is progressing at a decent pace. I've finished the back panel, successfully shaped my first armholes and neckline, and now I'm onto one sleeve. I'm not sure I like it or the yarn, but I'm determined to finish it so I can have the experience of completing a sweater... and if I can't find anyone willing to wear it, I'm sure the Salvation Army always accepts donations.

I've made real progress on the Ballet Camisole, completing up to the fifth decrease. As this is the first item I've knit in the round, I have to keep reminding myself that while it seems exceptionally slow-going, I'm doing the whole thing in one go and it's a lot further along than I think. I'm still in love with the yarn, but somehow it kills my hands to hold after a while (I think I clench things with my pinkies?).

To give my fingers a break (and because I'm impulsive), I've also been working on the ribbing for a Razor Cami. Eric actually likes this one, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out. At the moment I'm knitting it in plain white, but if it's too dull (or screams "I am made of white worsted yarn!"), I plan to dye it. Since I have more stretchy built-in bra camisoles than could possibly be decent (why did I keep buying them when I realized I'd never wear them by themselves?!), I'm looking forward to having something to wear over them.

And lastly, I've started a sort of scary project, seeing as I've never done anything like this before...

We'll talk more about that once I get the mess of thread untangled from my sewing machine.

And then, we'll talk about dresses. Wheee.

What we do to young women

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So I've been thinking recently about a discussion I had last Thanksgiving (I have a long processing time - what of it?). It was on the topic of parenting, specifically how one raises strong, independent, interesting, intelligent, and self-confident girls in today's culture.

It's easy enough to raise a red-blooded American male, I think, but by the very bias with which our system is built, it becomes immensely more difficult to nurture a woman to cope with all the boorish stupidity and frustrating double-standards inherent to said world. That whole argument is best detailed in Reviving Ophelia, one of the best books of the 90s (and which I consider mandatory reading for anyone in any way responsible for raising or caring for young women).

So I've narrowed down my scope to mothers and money - not saying they are the only ones responsible by far, but bear with me.

Basically there are two types of moms. One is your best friend, your confidant, a nurturer. She teaches her daughter valuable life skills, she engages her daughter's interests and talents, she modifies her parenting to best reach out and assist her daughter in becoming an independent woman.

The second type feels she must train her daughter to be like her and to get a husband and, with that, money, nice clothes, and a life which appears "successful" from the outside. She views her daughter as a representation of herself and tailors her parenting to best create a product she's happy putting out into the world, regardless of the daughter's wishes or needs.

I know it seems very black and white, and in some ways it is, but often the two types coexist. The intermingling of desires is problematic, since wishing for your daughter to have companionship is not entirely unhealthy. The trouble is when we focus too much on a man as the solution to self-fulfillment and don't offer the alternatives. Additionally, equating beauty with men and using that formula to measure success may sell a lot of makeup and hair dye but ultimately leads to miserable, dissatisfied, and problematic lives for women raised in such a fashion.

Now to more explicitly bash the type I feel is responsible for our problems, I'm sure everyone knows a mother who desperately wishes she were still a teenager. She focuses on clothes and shopping and when she sees her daughter's friends, she's not interested in classes or hobbies so much as who they are dating. If she has a son, she tries to make friends with her son's girl friends and does her very best to insist her son look for someone like her. To her daughter, she always pressures her to pay attention to boys, to get dates to dances, to have a boyfriend. Whether her intentions are good or not, she gives the message that her daughter's interests are secondary to being attractive and appealing to boys.

Maybe you have relatives like this too. The ones who even into adulthood will glaze over discussions of school or your new job or your interests and cut you off to ask, "So are you seeing anybody?" Maybe we don't realize it, but asking seemingly innocent questions like that can really feel like a slap in the face. Effectively, it reinforces all the insecurities that no matter how well you think you're doing on your own, everyone still looks at you as "poor girl, can't get a boyfriend." Let's not even get into the freak you become if you choose not to date...

It's not really these women's fault. I tend to think of them as stupid because basically they're playing into a marketing ploy and don't realize it, but I recognize it's very difficult when you've formed your entire self-concept around warped teachings. I can't imagine how it must feel when even the man you love is a culmination of misguided efforts, and he won you over by conventional "romance" which is often little more than buying you the right stuff and saying the right things at the right times.

(Note to the world: buying jewelry doesn't take character, substance, or any great emotional depth. It takes money and a willingness to spend it. That is not love.)

I'm incredibly happy living with Eric. He's an ideal companion for me because I get to do whatever I want and still enjoy his company. He understands me as an artist and a friend in ways that few other people in the world do. He encourages my fancies and helps me find ways to supplement my research and investigations. In fact, his most frequent criticism of me is when I don't pursue my own interests enough. To me, a partner should be an equal, someone who nurtures you as much as you nurture them. Relationships should be two-way streets, where you want to help achieve each others' dreams.

I genuinely believe that I am able to function in a healthy adult relationship because my mother was of the first, nurturing type (as was my father). Though I was never in want of a boyfriend, she always prioritized me and the development of my personality over the other facets of my life. One time in high school when she saw I was going to blow off a drawing assignment that I had really looked forward to because my boyfriend called for a date at the last minute, she grounded me and insisted I stay in. After I was done yelling at her and screaming obscenities, she helped set up my drawing subject, turned on some Bob Marley, and helped me arrange my lights, then left me to do my thing. We repeated this several times until I realized that I preferred drawing to sitting around bored outside the movies or groping in the backseat, and it was in these hours alone that I developed my love for drawing and my desire to become an artist. My mom saw I needed someone to advocate my interest in art, and I sincerely believe that without that kind of support, I wouldn't have what has become a lifelong love and passion for it.

I suspect most other mothers on the planet would have been happy I had a date and sent me merrily on my way.

The other important factor in mothering is being a role model. Now, my mother knows all the domestic secrets in the book and she's passed a lot of them down to me. In many ways, my recent interests in cooking, knitting, and Martha-Stewart-ism stem from being raised in a clean, efficient, and very pleasant household where we ate well-balanced meals together at the dinner table every night.

But more important than that, my mother maintained her own interests. She was athletic, intellectual, creative, spiritual, and in all ways, a very well-rounded person. She had no qualms putting off housework to go sailing or to the beach with me, yet we didn't live in squalor. She continues to be my source for good book recommendations, and though our tastes have begun to differ, she keeps up with new music and often tuned into bands before my friends did. She's aware of what's going on in the world and worked to instill social and environmental responsibility in both my brother and I. She takes care of herself without primping and always looks put-together without spending two hours fussing over makeup (in fact, she wears none). To me, my mother has always been the perfect balance of natural beauty, grace, and a firecracker adventure-seeker. She never made me feel less cool than her, nor did she embarrass me by being overly mommish. She was a brutal disciplinarian, but it was genuinely with my best interests in mind, and she took the time to explain her parenting decisions so that I could understand them.

I learned that I don't have to relinquish my identity to be with a man, nor do I have to use my looks to get people to like me. I remember my aunt and my mother joking after an aerobics class, saying "I know God made me fat so I could develop a personality, but come on, enough already!" I learned to regard my body as a way to explore the world, and I can see it with a sense of humor. I learned not to be uptight and neurotic about sex, but also not a floosy. I learned to respect myself and other women and how to treat people. I learned that it is disrespectful to laugh like a ninny and shove my boobs in a guy's face.

I can't say the same for former classmates. My mother ran into one of the other types of mothers in the grocery. She was wearing sunglasses over fried and unwashed hair, too much makeup, aging horribly (too much tanning), and shoved into a terribly unflattering outfit. She told my mom about her daughter's third child (from a third father), hopeful because it seemed this one was going to marry her. At the time I was living on my own in Brooklyn, working in Chelsea for an artist and beginning my career. This woman interrupted my mom to ask, "But does she have a boyfriend?" at which point my mom laughed and politely made her way out of the conversation. Some people really never change, and it should come as no surprise that that type of mother raises that type of daughter. Really, it should be shocking if they don't turn out the same.

As women, we're better than that. Culturally, I think we owe more to our daughters than to treat their sexuality as their only commodity, encouraging them to look like skeletal starlets in stripper skirts, or teaching them they are nothing without a man. The Stupid Spoiled Whore episode of South Park was so close to reality it's a little alarming, and I have a hard time accepting when we warp the minds of young women.

That said, I don't think it's an accident that so many young (and older) girls are getting back into arts and crafts, sports, reading and writing, and other forms of exploration and self-expression. We should encourage this and help girls see that they can be so much more than vacuous twits clinging to their faded beauty while warping the next generation.

As a society, I also think we need to grow up. When there is serious sociopolitical crisis errupting around the globe, Britney Spears does not warrant a Dateline interview. In the midst of famine, poverty, AIDS, and all the other problems humanity currently faces, Brangelina's baby should not even register, yet it made front-page headlines around the world. We are deliberately and mystifyingly shoving our heads up our asses at the time when we should be the most alert, and I can't help but suspect it is largely because awareness doesn't sell much besides rubber bracelets and T-shirts.

Hundreds of multi-million-dollar corporations are deeply invested in warping our cultural sensibility toward the shallow, fleeting, and personally disenfranchising lifestyle of "What can I buy to make it all better?" and we don't even recognize it. Messages come masked in helpful-seeming advertisements for anti-depressants or compassionate articles about body image, but ultimately, we are still telling women what they were told in the years surrounding WWI: "If you are pretty and quiet and buy the right clothes and makeup, you will find a husband and - shush shush - he will make it all okay for you."

Let's obsess over food a while

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In all the drama of last weekend, I neglected the most important part: gratuitous photos of food!

Again I made two varieties of sausage and peppers : sweet with green and hot with yellow.

It was near impossible to shoot the whole spread at once, so I'll go down the line from left to right (approximately - things moved around). Mmm, cucumber sandwiches, made on site. Never did post the recipe for those, hmm...

Thin-sliced Genoa salami, pepper jack cheese, aged Vermont Cheddar & Palmito cheese (made with hearts of palm - I brought it back from Costa Rica). On the right, generic cheese tray with cheddar, swiss & gouda among others.

Cracker variety: poppy seed, whole wheat, table water & vegetable. To be dipped in spinach dip & my mom's crab dip (a huge hit), in the back, giardiniera.

Grape leaves stuffed with rice, three bean salad.

Romaine hearts salad with creamy Caesar and balsamic vinaigrette.

A view back down the line - it's hard to see but in the morning (and until they ran out) we had a basket of assorted bagels with cream cheese and pieces of coffee cake (soooo good).

And oh dessert, swoon. On left, chocolate-covered strawberries (there were several trays like this), tropical fruit salad, more coffee cake. At right, amazingly wonderful brownies.

Admittedly, I bought a lot more of these dishes than what I prepared last time, and because my budget was diminished this round, I couldn't afford to make bacon-wrapped scallops, but it was a lovely spread nonetheless and certainly kept the guests happy all day.

As I mentioned, I'm on a new diet now, which I started this Tuesday. So far it is working out quite well, especially seeing as I'm finally getting proper hydration and limiting my caffeine intake, so I feel substantially more human.

Eric came back from Ridgefield this afternoon, though, and it has been more than a little tempting to indulge in treats with him (it doesn't help that there are huge bricks of cheese and a leftover bowl of crab dip in the fridge).

So what have we here? In making the strawberries last weekend, I'd melted down a fairly sizeable amount of Ghirardelli chocolate and had some leftover, also taunting me in the fridge. I convinced Eric that it was not just a good idea, but in fact his absolute civic duty as an American and a human being to coat the remaining mint Newman-O's in said chocolate and achieve heretofore unbeknownst levels of deliciosity. I resisted even a lick of chocolate (what was I thinking??) and instead wrapped these three up in the freezer as a reward for myself when I have lost another 20 pounds. Let's hope I do so quickly, as just smelling Eric's breath after he ate his was making me light-headed.

I also saved Eric two kinds of sausage from last weekend (I bought two cases so I could have the variety, but only wanted to use a half case of each). In examining the boxes, I realized that the sweet type has a white pig with a red outline and the hot has the same logo with a red pig outlined in white. I may be wrong, but I have to think this is the best logo ever designed in the history of food production and distribution.

So of course my first instinct says PUT IT ON A T-SHIRT.

But since I like even more instant gratification (you've got to know where I'm going with this...)



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Oh my goodness - Ann & Steve are engaged!!!!!

If you ask me, they're absolutely perfect for each other. So awesome!

Best Web Comic Ever

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I can't believe it, but thanks to Duane, I have now spent hours reading and am utterly obsessed withQuestionable Content. Seriously, start at the beginning - you will immediately find yourself addicted. Delicious.

Drama-fest '06

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Yesterday did not exactly go as smoothly as one might have hoped, which was really a huge disappointment. I'm still struggling to wrap my head around my feelings on the day.

I'm a little nervous about what all I'm going to write because I don't want to get gossipy, but I'm trying to decide how much of this needs to be vented versus made into a bigger issue within the organization. You'll see what I mean.

If you remember the last time I worked as food supervisor, it went swimmingly. The only real problem was a lack of sterno candles, which was easily resolved.
This time, I was much better prepared and knew what to anticipate. Though I left my shopping until Saturday, I knew what I needed and was much more efficient at Jetro, Costco (using my new membership - w00t), and Fairway. I even thought ahead and hit up the dollar store for extra sternos and lidded pans after stopping by the pier to get platters and say hi to the Saturday food people. (And I paid the key-lime pie guy, finally!)
Cooking went fine enough, and I made things a lot easier on myself this time by either preparing things at the pier on Sunday or purchasing more pre-made items. I had my menu, I was mostly within budget (he gave me $100 this time and said if I had to go over, try to keep it to around $125 - I spent $128), I was looking forward to it.

I woke up Sunday morning cranky and with a crushing headache. I had to run to the store first thing to get some last-minute ingredients that I thought I had on hand and didn't, but it wasn't a big deal. I got to the pier exactly on time, but found the gate was locked so I couldn't park my car close to the building. No big deal, I double-parked outside and headed around to see if they'd opened up yet.

And here is where the day started going downhill...

I didn't mention it, but last time there was one woman among the sea of compliments and consideration who was intensely rude. It didn't really register because she seemed so completely unaware that she was insulting me - she kept saying things like, "It's too bad they couldn't get that gal from last week to do the food again - hers was really great!" and on her fourth plateful of sausage and peppers, "This is good, but I have a friend who makes it much better." That kind of backhanded insult to one person by way of complimenting another (who isn't there) really bugs me because it's that touchy kind of passive-aggressiveness where you really can't be sure if they're trying to do it or they're just that oblivious to basic etiquette and politeness.
So as I'm introducing myself to the others, up strolls Madame Backhand herself, and I was appalled. I had thought she was just an exceptionally rude show attendee, not a part of our organization! As it turns out, she had wandered by the pier when she was around checking out the new Fairway because, as she said, "I like to check out new grocery stores." She's not an artist, but she liked the organization, so she asked if she could volunteer and help out at the shows. I thought that was a pretty decent thing to do, so I was ready to forgive her rudeness at the last show and give her a fresh shot.

As we continued waiting for whoever was late in opening the doors, I decided to move my car and wheel all the food down the street in my grocery cart. People helped me carry stuff up the stairs, and I thought "Okay, off to a good start." I repeatedly introduced myself to my staff, who kept asking if I was Elizabeth, as they'd be informed that was the name of their food supervisor. I said no, and several times said that I was in fact the supervisor, having just spent my whole weekend organizing and preparing the menu and lugging all this stuff up the stairs. From the beginning, they seemed reluctant to recognize that yeah, I'm in charge.

And also, I know it's petty, but for the second time they didn't have a name badge for me. They had a Vanessa and a Valerie, but no Vicki's or Victoria's to be found. Both times I did this, I committed weeks in advance and have never changed my schedule - one would think I could get a lousy tag. Even the president's dog gets a badge sometimes, so really, what gives?!

I had two staff members, one of whom was a lovely woman I've met before and really like - she was full of fascinating stories about a recent trip and great conversation all day. The other was a little strange, seeming mainly concerned with parking himself at the bar and ranting to his friends about upcoming opportunities and how much his career was taking off lately.

I assumed he would not be overwhelmingly helpful, and I was mostly right. He wandered off a few times during the course of the day and ignored guests occasionally if he was in the middle of talking to someone else, but he was nice enough to me and didn't complain. Fine, not everyone excels at hospitality, and the other woman was incredibly helpful and friendly, so no skin off my back.

I got everything set up, and it looked great. People started in on the compliments, which yes, I live for, and I patted myself on the back for not stressing out and getting it all together rather effortlessly.

Then weird stuff started happening.

You remember Madame Backhand? Yeah, I don't know what she was supposed to be doing, but she spent more time over at the kitchen than anywhere else. I figured she was friends with my staff, as she seemed to be chatting amicably all day. Yes, they got into a lengthy debate about abortion, as well as a perhaps too-charged discussion about Red Hook and whether or not the people who vandalized one of the Yale students' presentations (a whole other drama) were making a protest or being destructive. People came up during the morning going on and on about the person who'd stood up and shouted down one of the students before she even gave her talk, and I thought about how obnoxious it is when ignorant people misconstrue a situation (thinking that proposed development plans were actually going to be implemented instead of presented as a hypothetical architecture project for grad school kids) and make a big embarrassing scene about it.

Ha, if only I knew what was to come.

I got busy maintaining the trays of food and chatting with people, encouraged again by their generous donations, talking up the organization and giving information about becoming a member, telling them about the upcoming show, etc. Eric came by and we had a nice visit, and I thought once again that it was going very well.

As the afternoon wore on I noticed that more and more people were taking the other kitchen woman's time up gossiping. Basically, there is this one artist who has two teenage kids that are perhaps a little too comfortable at the pier. A lot of people feel they are not welcome and both suspect and accuse them of everything from being unappreciative of art to damaging work, eating too much food, and stealing money. The last time I supervised, I got really pissed off at one of my staff because she yelled at the boy for throwing away his first plate then taking a second (which plenty of other people did), then made a lot of nasty comments to him about how "this isn't a soup kitchen" and "we're not here to feed the neighborhood."

Apparently a lot of people are deeply "concerned" about these kids and spent the whole day voicing their opinions about what should be done and who should tell whom they're not allowed to come and whether or not their father should be asked to leave the organization because he seems unable to control his kids. It was getting annoying even to me because really, they were acting like crazy old biddies, and racist ones at that. I nearly slapped Madame Backhand when she said a little too loudly, "Well really all black kids are thugs and thiefs if you don't stop them, we know that."

When there was about an hour and a half left to the day, I was getting pretty sick of everyone talking all day about these kids, and evidently I wasn't alone in it.

After a totally unrelated comment about restaurant food, the guy on my staff absolutely blew up at Madame Backhand. Like, crazy man pointing and hollering and dropping F-bombs kind of blow up. I was horrified and trying to defuse things to get them down to a reasonable volume, but M.B. found herself a live one and did everything she could to provoke him into a screaming argument.

People were starting to notice.

After she said "I really think there's something wrong with you, you must have a mental problem," she continued to say, "What do you have against me anyway? I was just talking," at which point he went into a tirade about how yes, she's been here talking, all day, instead of doing her work, and in the process, she's been insulting the shit out of a very good friend of his and his children. It came out that while he was talking to the kid at the bar, M.B. came over and said loudly, "Make sure you watch that he doesn't steal from the donations bin" right in front of the kid, among other things.

Understandably, he was upset and had had it with this busybody trashing these kids and acting like an ignorant racist. Frankly, I had too. But he was yelling at the top of his lungs and making an enormous scene which was getting really ugly really fast. No one listened to me or the other woman or anyone else when we tried to get them to calm down. Eventually guests of the show came over and asked them to be quiet, saying they were ruining their experience of the art. I saw heads poking out of all the aisles with concerned looks, thinking "What psychos are causing all this drama?" You can imagine how startled they were when they saw Staff badges around these people's necks.

I was absolutely mortified and ashamed to be associated with these people and the damage they were doing to our organization's reputation. What's more, they just would not stop. Literally, they stood there shouting for over a half hour having the most absurd, childish bicker I've seen in years. Cussing and screaming and hurling around accusations and flatly racist remarks, it was completely out of control and no one was doing anything about it. I thought about throwing things at them, but instead started apologizing to the people who were at the counter, including the black couple with infant who got to hear the "All black kids are thugs and thiefs" argument several times in a row.

One of the particularly angry guests came over and insisted that the guy "can it" because he'd disturbed everyone in the show (which is true) and he had had enough. Then the two psycho staff members got into it with this guy and his wife and several more people joined into the fray, and it just got ridiculous. As I watched in horror, I saw a stream of people rushing out the door to get the hell away, and all I could think about was what amazing word-of-mouth damage was going to go down.

As anyone who's ever worked in retail or customer service knows, no one listens even one-tenth as closely to the rave reviews of something as the stories of how terrible something was. Maybe if the guests went home and told people "I went to this great art show at the pier, it was so wonderful, you should come to the next one," their friends would glaze over and say "Oh that does sound nice" or have some other neutral reaction. But you can bet they're going to be appalled when they hear about the grotesquely unprofessional screaming match that errupted and the ridiculous scene their friends endured, as well as make sure they don't go support these psychos at their crazy-fest. When people have a negative experience, they tell everyone they know, and there is just no way to recover the scores of people put-off by that kind of negative publicity.

But also? I gave my entire weekend to these people, and now I'm ashamed to have been associated with them. And furious that it was such an awful hostile scene for everyone there after I had worked so hard to make it a hospitable and pleasant environment.

That is not all, though. After ruining the show (literally, the place emptied out and the ones who stayed were thoroughly disturbed), these two just couldn't leave it alone. Someone from the site supervisor area (I still don't know why no one intervened sooner) came over and acted as a moderator 45 min after the fight started, and eventually the two agreed to just stay away from one another the rest of the day.

But no, they kept it going. They wandered around chattering to anyone who would listen, trying to convince themselves and everyone else that they were right, as if it even matters, because damn it, are they really so socially retarded they don't recognize that they just mortified us all and irreparably tarnished our reputation?! They both had the nerve to come up and rant to me, no matter how much they wouldn't listen to me in the beginning when I insisted they quiet down, take it outside, etc.

Finally, for once in my life, I had it and just blatantly said exactly what was on my mind, telling them both how obscenely inappropriate their behavior was and how appalled I was at their actions and continuing atrocious manners. I told them both off in the most level, even tone I could muster, then asked them to get away from me and, to the guy on my staff, please go home. Of course it didn't register with either of them and not only did they not shut up and go away, they kept on pestering me right until the end.

Madame Backhand even had the mystifying lack of awareness to follow me to my car and ask for a ride to the subway. I restrained myself and instead of backhanding her and saying "Oh hell no," muttered, "actually I drive straight to the BQE from here and there aren't really any subways on my way." Why the hell was I wasting manners on someone so dense? Why didn't I throw things? Why was I crying on the way home because somehow I thought it was all my fault or that I had an intense character flaw which made no one respect my role as supervisor from the get-go?

Times like these really make me agree with Sartre - hell is other people, especially when they act so inhuman and despicable.

I haven't decided if I'm going to stay on with BWAC or not and what (if anything) I'm going to say about it all to the president.

Ugh, what an ordeal.

Plugging BWAC

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Hey, guess whose art show is mentioned in the NY Times today?

Which reminds me...

Come to the BWAC summer show!

Tomorrow, I'm doing the food for it again, so I can promise it will be a delicious time to come. I got to check out the show briefly today - it looks wonderful!

My panel is on the 2nd floor in the right-side bay, center aisle. I'm showing photos for the first time, so come see!

The show is open 1-7pm weekends. If you are in the area, come on by and say hello! For directions and more info, check out the BWAC website.

Some odds and ends

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While I enter into the fourth hour of waiting to go out (just don't ask - grrr), I thought I'd jot out some little things that have gone down around here.

The other night, Eric and I ordered the largest pizza either of us had ever seen. It was insanely delicious - stuffed with broccoli, peppers, onions, spinach, tomato, garlic & cheese - and Eric had the brilliance to ask them to include sausage as well. Swoon. We enjoyed it for several days.

Do you see him lusting over it and thinking impure thoughts? Yeah, a while ago I was talking with a friend, who said my love for a man had to be at least equal to my love for pizza, and upon falling for Eric, I determined that I do in fact love him more than pizza. I'm not sure if the sentiment is mutual.

Just to be clear about something: I officially have the greatest shoes ever. Before leaving for my trip, I ordered these off of eBay and I am so glad they're finally here. Now if anyone wants to absolutely complete my world, you can go here and perhaps send me the turquoise ones? And maybe the green? You know honestly, I'll take any color. I wore them to the grocery last night and all the girls working there were giving covetous looks, drooling over them because, yes, they are exactly like the ones I had as a little girl.

In the current first place position for Most Overpriced Shoes for What They Are: Stuart Weitzman should be ashamed. Crystals? Bow? Check. But still plastic shoes, guy.

The cats are still gay. Iggs is all "So I'm licking Smokey's butt - what of it??"

In a rare and unparalleled convergence of All Things Wonderful in the Universe, I found two of my absolute favorite food products in the same store at the same time last night (while wearing fabulous and much-envied shoes). I'm pretty sure I've had dreams that didn't go this well. Quaker chocolate crunch rice cakes, which they have not had there since like, March (I always look) and Newman-O's mint creme cookies. They're the closest thing to Mint Oreos, heretofore my favorite cookie, but only available seasonally (I think). Though they're actually better for you, which was a huge relief as I ate twelve.

You may have noticed this non-diet food around here. I went off of my diet just before Costa Rica, dissatisfied with the mere 20 pounds I'd lost since February, and I went on the diet my mom is currently kicking ass with. I'm waiting for the food to get here (yes it's that convenient) and in the meantime seeing if I can't undo all the progress I've made.

So I like using bendy drinking straws and I'm kind of a baby and always want to have some around. I bought these awesome fluorescent ones since - umm, hi, they're fluorescent! I stored them in the previous straw box, in a cabinet above the sink. I couldn't understand why Eric said this was such a bad place, as I found it intensely convenient.... until I nicked the top while getting tea from the cupboard and spilled the entire box into the sink, which was full of dirty dishes (umm someone has been avoiding her turn). Eric heard this whole scene, as well as my exclamations of horror and came in crying "I told you so! I told you so! I told you so!!!" As I took a photo, he insisted it be captioned "I told you so, times one million!" He even instructed me how to write out a million in scientific notation (which I already knew, thank you very much).

Public service announcement: When someone tells you not to store your bendy straws in a precarious place, don't try to be a hero and prove them wrong. You will only end up hollering at their demise while you try to convince yourself you wouldn't mind drinking out of something that once soaked in mystery water.

So we're supposed to be going to Brooklyn Brewery, which I'm pretty sure stopped their happy hour several hours ago. Also, due to an aggravating and common misconception that they serve dinner (they don't), we haven't eaten, and I'm sitting around cranky and hungry, continuing to wait. I'm gonna stare meditatively at that pizza and think happy thoughts.

Oooh! Eric is impatient now too - we're going out, and I have a feeling he will be easily convinced to get food, with or without our friends.

Knit knit knit

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Let's talk about knitting, shall we?

Remember how I frogged out an entire ridiculously large scarf? So yeah, I started making a sweater, as planned. It was going okay, if a little sketchy on the gauge (what with all the yarn-overs), and then I messed up the pattern something fantastic. Where the actual pattern (left) had these lovely horizontal threads running up those rows, mine was off... like really off.

Okay so really it looked more like it'd been tangled than intentionally knit in any capacity whatsoever.

Off to the frog pond it went a second time. Wheeeee! To avoid abandoning the project altogether, I immediately cast on a second time, taking care to be much more precise and umm, accurate. In my defense, I didn't really know what "sl1 wyif" meant... or well I looked it up, but I somehow read the wrong cell in the table and instead followed the directions for "slip 1, knit 1, knit slipped stitches together." Honest mistake right?

Always read the pattern carefully.

Notice it looks how it is supposed to this time? Yeah, you know I'm dancing about it.

Now I've moved on to the sweet brainless glee of row upon row of stockinette, and since taking those photos I'm onto the armhole shaping, which I'm pretty sure I'm doing incorrectly (stay tuned).

I've taken to knitting on this sweater when I get too frustrated with the other projects I'm working on, which means I'm making the most progress on it.

Did I ever mention that I finished my blue scarf? It's sort of the thing that started this addiction earlier this summer, and I still haven't blocked it, but I finished knitting it months ago. I haven't decided if I'm going to keep it for myself (as it seems a wee bit too simple to give as a gift), but either way I've already picked out a hat pattern to go with it.

In case you were curious, it is Martha Stewart's basic scarf, and it's a breeze to knit.

I also did something I swore I wouldn't do and began amassing supplies for future projects well in advance of completing those I have in progress.

Knit Picks Essential sock yarn in Fawn and Grass. At right, a weird piece of plastic that was spun into the green yarn - so strange.

Oooh new needles. Knit Picks interchangeable circulars (jury is still out on these - one of them keeps coming unscrewed) and DPNs.

I can't believe I forgot to mention it, but check out my knitting basket. Do you see anything different about it? (No, I haven't begun cramming my new yarn into it yet). See all those needles?

My mom is a very very generous woman and lent them all to me the last time I was down there. Droooool.

Seriously, I get tingly looking at them. She saved me the time and money of buying needles, so I got more yarn!

This heavenly creature is Knit Picks, Shine Sport in silver sage.

It is so silky and soft it's obscene. It feels amazing in your hands and knits up beautifully. I'm already eyeing the other colors and thinking what else I could knit with it.

I cast on for the Ballet Camisole, which I may try to wear as a sort of vest if it doesn't look good as a tank. Yes, I already have a blouse with cut-work patterns on the sleeves that I plan to wear under it.

Unfortunately when I cast on, I made the most crucial error in circular knitting: I had a twist from the beginning. What's worse, I didn't notice it until I had done 7 rounds of 1×1 ribbing and my first row in stockinette (that's approximately 1800 very tedious stitches). Talk about frustration. To ease my fragile knitting-ego ever so slightly, it seems the Yarn Harlot made a very similar mistake last night as well. So you see, it could happen to anyone. Hrumph.

Always check for twists in your circular cast-ons.

In a fit of intense rage, I tore it all out, lamenting that it looked so even and lovely. I then proceeded to produce a knot so intense that it literally took more than an hour to untangle. Probably closer to two, considering I gave up after an hour last night and did it through the morning news today. Finally I cut the yarn (gah) and was able to get it together, but argh, what a mess.

Now I am left with one round of ribbing for all my trouble. I've quadruple-checked that it is not twisted, despite appearances. (That coil on the left is the amount I detangled - crazy right?).

Iggy is beginning to worry me with his intense fascination with knitting. Usually he watches me - or more accurately stares at me - and I don't mind. Lately he's been getting brave enough to investigate the knitting basket and, in an hilarious moment, dive into my lap and swat at the needles.

I suppose it's only natural, right?

Finally, the Esprit raglan shrug continues going well. When I was in NJ, I bought longer bamboo needles to continue (it was getting pretty cramped). The yarn still mystifies me with its stretchiness and nubby texture, but it's pleasant to knit with, and I love doing the raglan increases.

I can't wait to get into the lace part. I think that I will do the blue one in plain stockinette, since it may be a little impractical to have two lace-bottomed shrugs. I've contemplated making a bunch of these as gifts for some of my teenage cousins, in which case I can do all the lace I want, but because it's such tiny yarn, they take forever. One at a time, right?

I bought all this before Costa Rica, whereupon I spent the remainder of my money (and then some), so I can't buy new yarn for a little while, but I've got plenty of projects in the works to keep me busy, which is to say nothing of the total back seat all of this will take in less than a month when I begin classes again.

The enduring patience of Smokey

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I 've been clearing off my C drive onto my external hard drive because I'm struggling to copy the DVD of my Costa Rica pics. In the process, I've discovered that:

  1. I take way more pictures of my cats than anything else.
  2. I take so many pictures of my cats it can't possibly be healthy.
  3. Our cats put up with a lot of crap from us, especially Smokey.

I've compiled, for your amusement and mine, a little tableau of some of Smokey's recent greatest hits (there are gigs more). Enjoy.

Eric always tries to capture him in his best light. After that, he taunts him.

It's rather alarming how quickly things devolve...

... though not surprising how quickly he forgives for the sake of cuddling.


When I asked Eric why he likes to bite Smokey so much, he said "Whatevs, you know he's a delicious little pumpkin, with his spicy little brains."

Did you know I'm dating a zombie?

Smokey does so many strange little things (he stayed there for like a half hour staring ahead while we were across the room).

He is an absolute expert in comfort. I love how even Iggs is like "Geez man, you degrade us both."

And of course, who can forget the perennial classic, Roll the Smokey:

By now you probably wonder why he puts up with us. There is of course the matter of unconditional love and affection. And we feed him. But also, we're pretty big and warm and we really enjoy sleeping with him.

He is a little grey wonder. I love my Butter Chubs!!!!

My recent adventures in trains, planes, boats & cargo vans on bumpy mountain roads have brought some of the more obnoxious tendencies of others to my attention. Consider this an open letter for future endeavors abroad and in the field.

  • To the man sleeping less than twenty feet from the Belt Parkway at 2am: you've chosen a very disturbing camping location. Seek help. Unless you were murdered, in which case shame on your slayer for exhibiting such a lack of discretion in body-dumping.
  • To the incredibly rude security guy at JFK: don't fanatically gesture and yell at the lady in front of me when she doesn't know your protocol. If you never tell her where she's supposed to go, you can't very well expect her to quickly rush there, let alone know to take her shoes off. Repeating "Come on come on come on!" still does not quite indicate where she's supposed to go in the same way that a "Please step in the last line" would.
  • If you charge $3.50 for a bottle of water which ordinarily retails for $1-1.50 and $2.50 for a pack of gum, don't be surprised or annoyed when customers initially balk at the receipt.
  • To the hoardes of passengers who line up long before the plane starts boarding: you will be allowed on the plane only when your row is called. Creating a line will not get you ahead of me if my row comes before yours. When I walk right past your silly line as my row begins boarding, don't glare at me and act like I'm breaking rules. Maybe, you could even get out of the way next time.
  • As the plane is taking off and you are sitting in front of me, you should know that I'm usually praying. When you let loose the most foul-smelling farts I've ever smelled, you should know that my thought process became "So help me, if this plane crashes and your flatulence is my last sensory experience on earth, I will be sure to punch you in the head as we go down."
  • If you are taking a 3.5-hour boat tour of some of the most beautiful canals in the world, don't repeatedly raise your hand as if you are clever to interrupt the naturalist and say, "I have a question - when is lunch?" (I didn't experience this one firsthand, but heard about it at dinner).
  • When the lovely woman and her daughter quietly ask to be seated at a different table because you are chain-smoking all over them, you have no right to act outrageously offended. This includes later in the day when you see us at the pool and you've decided it's okay to point and talk loudly about us.
  • I know they had a swim-up bar, but seriously? Do you have to smoke in the pool?
  • When you buy Junior that snorkel and mask, throw in a handy reminder that water is transparent and I can see him when he's within ten inches of me, staring at my crotch.
  • If you speculate about whether two women are lesbians or mother and daughter, be aware that some Americans do in fact understand Spanish, particularly when you point at them. When they look directly at you to indicate they understand what you've said, don't laugh and say you think the fat one is the daughter.
  • As you and your friends get out of the bus to stretch your legs at a rest stop, be aware that you are still standing at the side of a road in a parking lot and that occasionally, the vans you're leaning against would like to drive away and not have to continue waiting as you reposition yourself directly in the driver's way.
  • If you find yourself in a public locker room at a rafting take-out and there are other women putting clothes on after showering, please don't spray them directly in the face with your aerosol deodorant. When they gasp for air and frantically wipe the spray off their just-washed faces, don't glare at them like they were sneaking peaks at your sideboob. Seriously, we've already established that I'm the daughter.
  • As you stand in a group ignoring a beautiful vista (in my way) to loudly complain to each other about the hotel and gossip about friends back home, know that we were standing there waiting for you to leave, for a rather obnoxiously long time. And that your guide came over to tell our guide what big fat jerks you all were and that he's spent the whole time apologizing for you.
  • If you are witnessing the miraculous process of a sea turtle laying eggs on a secluded beach at night, don't start chattering about something completely unrelated to anyone who will listen, especially when your guide has asked you all to be very quiet. Also, after a turtle has given birth, she is exhausted and she really doesn't deserve to get chased back into the sea by a big group of phrenetic tourists. Didn't you see she was panicked?!
  • When you and your church group are waiting for a plane, remember that yelling across a terminal is not really cool and I have absolutely no interest in what this mysterious Craig told you you should do. Repeating his name in every sentence does not make me any less annoyed that you are yelling over my head. When you get on the plane behind me, don't start awkwardly singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" at the top of your teenage boy voice and then saying "Wouldn't it be funny if the whole group just did a sing-along the whole flight?"
  • If you are the type of young woman clad in twelve different printed fabrics with irritatingly mismatched red fisherman sandals and black knee socks under multiple skirts, carrying an ethnic-patterned backpack with some mystifying rope-wrapped stick protruding several feet out the top, reading a New School course catalog (I shit you not) while crunching on vegan veggie chips, do have the consideration to not leave your garbage sitting on your seat when you get up. One of the only endearing things about faux-hippies is their eco-consciousness and social responsibility, and you, Miss Trustafarian, are not doing justice to your unwashed tricolor hair.
  • If your child is old enough to articulate what precisely is upsetting him in full sentences, he is waytoo old to be screaming them through the duration of the flight. No kidding. "The pressure is hurting my ears! Mommy!!! My ears hurt from the pressure! Mommy!!!!" When he's off the plane and in the airport, after you've tortured the whole flight by refusing to quiet him for five and a half hours, don't allow him to continue whining incessantly about how much his ears hurt on the plane.
  • If your child is not old enough to articulate what is wrong, don't allow her to stand on her seat facing backwards and screaming bloody murder the entire flight. I realize you are staring at the ceiling willing yourself a stroke or some form of Zen-like alteration of consciousness to tune her out, but the rest of us don't really have that luxury. When she finally gets to sleep and quiets down, don't wake her up again when the captain announces the beginning of the descent - it will be a full forty-five minutes of screaming, amplified.
  • After your children have kept me awake for six hours wailing, don't elbow me in the boob. Also, you had about a half hour to get your stuff together as the rows in front of you were getting off the plane. Why did you wait until it was time for you to finally leave to even begin? And why didn't you then move out of my way?
  • When my mother inserts her credit card in the Smart Carte turnstile and has a limited amount of time for me to push the cart out for her, don't walk directly in the way. When my mother very politely asks you to move out of the way and delicately gestures what she is trying to do in case you don't speak English, don't continue walking even more in the way at a snail's pace. You are lucky I didn't smash you in the Achilles tendons just on principle, you daft cow.
  • Though your daughter is very cute and refreshingly upbeat in comparison with the rest of the children I experienced, she can't lift more than ten pounds and allowing her to stand in the way at the baggage carousel only makes it that everyone around her will have to lug your baggage over her head so she doesn't hurt herself when she jumps up and down and lunges for your bag, missing theirs in the process. Unless that was your plan all along, in which case, brava, you evil genius.
  • Lastly, as you drive through town in your SUV, don't feel morally obliged to go five miles under the speed limit. If it's 40 mph, you really can go at least 40. When the limit slows down to 35, for the love of God, you don't need to slow down to 30. As you come up to a very wide intersection which ordinarily has two lanes (so the right lane can turn on red) and you see I've had my right blinker on for the last 1000 feet, don't station your gargantuan car directly in the middle so I can't possibly get around you and am forced to wait through the whole delayed light, then an additional thirty seconds as you wrap your evidently sloth-like mind around the concept of green.

I'm just saying. If all these people and a handful of others could get their act together, I probably wouldn't be so grumpy while travelling.

(Though mostly I'm just glad we made it through our travels safely.)

I really am working on the travel photos and vacation website. I just had to get this out of my system.

I have returned

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While I work up a lengthy separate website detailing all my adventures in Costa Rica (amazing!!!), I just wanted to let you know I'm back.

And I'm already amusing myself with internet junk.

At this site, you can plug in your surname and find out how it ranks among the most popular in the Social Security Index.

We learned that Hamburger comes in at 14,732, while Eric's surname only ranks 29,476. Mine? Oh yeah, 4007.

Where do you rank?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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