Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dexter and Nocturne

This is your cat...

This is your cat on drugs...

Any questions?

This is your dog...

This is your dog destroying his Christmas toy in 15 minutes...

This is your dog looking at your reproachfully after you've taken away the bone he was destroying because he was throwing coconut fibers everywhere...

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I know that the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I know that Advent is the time of preparation before the coming of the Messiah.

I also know that Jesus wasn't born around this time of year and that his birth began to be equated with December 25 because in the 3rd century, Christianity was trying to figure out how to get newly-converted pagans to stop celebrating the solstice. They failed, and so they co-opted the date, associating it with the birth of Jesus rather than with the solstice event itself.

One could argue that they succeeded quite well.

I argue that Christianity made a giant fuck up.

The birth of Jesus should be celebrated. Jesus, as much or possibly more than any other historical figure, shows us how to live a life full of meaning. I'm not arguing that Jesus isn't a big deal.

I am arguing that Christianity made a mistake by not recognizing how important the summer and winter solstices are to all of humanity, Christians included. We should have picked another day to celebrate the birth of Jesus and found ways to celebrate the solstices within our religion.

Today is the Winter Solstice, and it is dark. I write by the light of candles and the lit tree--ancient solstice-y decorations.

On this darkest day of the year, I remember that while darkness is part of the natural order of things, today is as dark as it gets. Tomorrow will have more light, and the day after will have even more. It's a beautiful metaphor for the darkness in each of our lives, and it makes me more tolerant of my own dark places.

Merry Winter Solstice, everybody.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Saturday we went to Grandpa's for Christmas. We were joined by Andrew's immediate family--mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, aunt, uncle--as well as Grandpa's deceased second wife's oldest child, this oldest child's soon-to-be ex-daughter-in-law, and three great-grandchildren who were in serious danger of being pummeled by me if they said, "There's nothing to do here. I'm so bored. When can we go?" one more time.

You know, the usual crowd.

Sunday we went to an aunt and uncle's for Christmas. We were joined by Andrew's immediate family (see above), great-aunt who is also the widow of Andrew's other Grandpa, seven first cousins and their nine children. (I feel the need to point out that six of these children belonged to one cousin and her husband. Granted, it's a blended family, but they've recently had a sixth child--their first together. I am flummoxed.)

Here's the thing: We both have wonderful families. I mean, they're dysfunctional, but you show me a family that isn't and... well, I can't complete that thought. Until someone shows me a functional family, I'm not going to bother coming up with a reaction.

Lovely as our families are, it can't change the fact that Andrew and I are introverts in a big way. BIG. It isn't that we don't like people; it's that being around people, however charming, saps energy from us. People are energy-sucking zombies.

I know. You don't mean to be. We don't blame you.

Yesterday while we were walking the dog, Andrew said, "I feel like a robot. It's ridiculous how tired I am." I then began daydreaming about having Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons walk Dexter so I could go take a nap. Sadly, she did not materialize.

If it's true that most people in our species are extroverts, then perhaps it's important for us introverts to explain ourselves. Extroverts gain energy when around other people. Introverts expend energy when around other people. It's like human interaction is an exothermic reaction for extroverts and an endothermic reaction for introverts.

That's exactly what it's like, actually.

So, we love you, but you make us tired. It is possible that we will need a nap in the middle of the festivities lest we become unglued and start screaming, "Get away, you soul-sucking zombie! Let me be!"

Rachel, who gets me, sent me a link to an Urban Dictionary entry.

Christmasochist - Someone who continues to subject themselves to Christmas activities -- Secret Santa, carolling, etc. -- despite feeling painfully awkward at the event.

So true. So very true. It's a shame we don't drink more to take the edge off the season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Stockings Complete!

Now I don't need to feel sheepish (get it, SHEEPISH?!) that the pets have handknit stockings and the humans don't.

Friday, December 18, 2009


It's the Muppets' fault.

I read about a video of the Muppets performing Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." We looked it up, and, lo, it was funny.

I sent it to friends via e-mail, and one of them responded that it had been posted on somebody's Facebook wall last week.

They had all seen it.

For a moment, I thought, "Why didn't anyone send me the link?" Then, with horror, I realized I'm like one of those people you have to call to tell them to check their e-mail when you send something because they only check it when they're expecting a message. I'm like one of those people who have an answering machine instead of voicemail and so you try to return a call and spend all evening getting angrier and angrier at their busy signal.


I joined Facebook. I feel so dirty.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Stocking

In 2009, I joined the Rockin' Sock Club, the sock club put on by Blue Moon Fiber Arts. It's an investment, by I choose to think of it in terms of dollars per hour rather than dollars per yarn shipment. In terms of time, it's cheap entertainment.

I've knitted the January,


and May shipments.

I wasn't a fan of the July pattern (sorry), but I love the yarn and will certainly knit it up into something lovely. (I'm thinking these.)

I've started the September socks but became sidetracked with Christmas knitting, and I'm thrilled with the November shipment.

I'm in love with this club. I love that there are patterns that push me to do stuff I wouldn't otherwise do. I'd never knitted with beads before the January socks. The March socks were tricky enough that I had to look up a Youtube video to see how the rose was made. The May ones were fabulous but complicated. I plan to do them again in a plain color. September's socks will be my first knit by Cat Bordhi, and November's socks were designed by Cookie A. I have no idea how they get such famous designers; I'm guessing Blue Moon Fiber Arts has dirt on them all... or bribes them with yarn. That would totally work for me.

With the November shipment came a bonus pattern. While I think Blue Moon's yarn is fantastic, it's also pricey--as good yarn usually is. Since I'm not going to put this bad boy next to my skin, I decided to buy cheap acrylic yarn instead. I present to you:

Anna Zilboorg's Christmas Stocking.

This one is mine, and I'm starting Andrew's today. Before you tell me I should have knit for him first, he has yet to settle on what order he wants his yarn colors. He picked the same variegated and white-ish colors, but is using a sparkly red and sparkly purple instead of the plain red and yellow I used in mine. I'm optimistic that I can get it done before Christmas, although this knit does require charts and thinking. Short rows are hard for me.

I am relieved to be remedying a problem we have in our household: The dog and cat both have knitted Christmas stockings while Andrew and I have store-bought red ones. (You can catch a glimpse of the red stocking in the photo.) It's embarrassing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grateful II

I don't know if I'll see Lynn before Christmas, but she is one of the things for which I'm grateful, and her friendship is something I'm going to focus on during rough patches in the holidays.

I met Lynn when in a madrigal singing group in college. (Shut up. Madrigals are cool.) She was a madrigal sage, in terms of singing, costumes, and writing. She's the only person from college with whom I maintain regular contact.

Lynn's the person with whom I'm most likely to talk about the Big Issues. If I say, "I was talking to a friend about [insert personal growth topic here]," more than likely I was talking to Lynn.

She gets (or pretends to get, which is just as good) extremely excited about any successes in my life. She's the person who is responsible for me thinking about what I would do if I knew I could not fail. She sets Goals, and I love Goals.

I'm jealous of Lynn's musical ability. She probably knows three different parts to more songs than I know. She has an excellent memory for music, both lyrics and notes. She knows a ton about period costumes and is willing to make Damn Blue Dresses for an entire production.

Lynn's the most likely to get righteously indignant with me. She's also the most likely to understand what it's like to be terrified and yet move forward anyway.

I want her good karma to make the rest of her life full of rainbows and puppies. Wait, Lynn is allergic. Full of rainbows and buttered scones.

The best word to describe Lynn is Wise. In a Magical Kingdom (not THAT Magic Kingdom--the kind without cartoon characters), she would be the one in a glittery dress with stars in her hair. She wouldn't need a wand, she could do magic with her mind.

I am grateful for Lynn. I am blessed to have her in my life.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The Christmas gatherings are drawing nearer. Today is our white elephant exchange and Hanukkah lunch. I look forward to our Hanukkah lunch for weeks. It's SO YUMMY.

Saturday is Christmas with Andrew's dad's extended family.

Sunday is Christmas with Andrew's mom's extended family.

Christmas Eve and morning will be spent with Andrew's immediate family.

The 29th will be with my immediate family.

The 30th will be with friends.

January 2nd will be with my mom's extended family.

Andrew and I are both hermits by nature. These things wear us out. There's all the politeness and smiling and chatting with people we haven't seen since the last major holiday.

We talked last night about the fact that most of the Christmas shows focus on the awkwardness of spending time with family. (We watched The Big Bang Theory and Accidentally on Purpose yesterday.) There's a reason the writers focus on that: It's what resonates with the viewers. For the most part, we're all in the same boat. We all have awkward relationships with someone we are related to, and being with them over the holidays makes it stranger because we have an internal picture of how the holidays are supposed to be that never ever ever matches reality.

So, in an exercise aimed to reduce the crazy, I am going to try to focus on the things for which I'm most grateful. Today I'm going to talk about the friends because it's easiest.

We have the most amazing group of friends on the planet. The core of it are people who went to high school together, and we've added others as they came along. We have a history, which is nice (most of the time) because it helps us to understand one another. We all still genuinely like one another despite the fact that we're not at all the people we were when we met.

Brandy is honest and loving and not afraid to laugh. She is most like the kid at Christmas--excited and sure she's opened the most fantastic gift on the planet. She's also the easiest for whom to shop. I can't tell you how many times Andrew or I have seen something, turned to the other, and said, "Brandy would love this." It's usually followed by, "Yes, she would. Too bad we've bought her presents for the next several gift-giving occasions." It's extremely difficult not to buy her a gazillion gifts, and we only partially succeed at that.

Rachel is the only mom in our group, and she gives me hope that our species isn't screwed. She's such a good parent that it's dizzying to me. She's also the most fun to knit for because she believes knitting is magic, and that makes me a sorcerer. She loves food in a way that makes me remember that food is sometimes more than just food. She's the one I called when I was having a freak-out about turning 30 because I knew she'd talk me down from Crazy Town. She did.

Kyle is my oldest and dearest friend. We went through ten years of 4-H together ("I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world." I tried to stop typing and just put an ellipsis, but I couldn't.) He was the one I called at three in the morning the day after my dad died because I couldn't sleep and the world was spinning. He's the friend most likely to whoop up a table so it resembles something out of a magazine. He's a fantastic cook. He's also really laid back, which is a blessing considering I'm.... well, not.

Holly is my next oldest friend, although we got off to a rocky start due to her winning a Captain Crunch contest in second grade. I was extremely jealous. Holly has the best sense of style, and I sometimes find myself dressing up a bit around her. (I once wore heels with jeans around her. It was odd.) She's the most adventurous and the one who is most afraid of math.

Franklin is Rachel's partner in life and my partner in vegetarianism. He's much less annoying about his vegetarianism than I am, and I strive to be more like him in that way. He's also a religion nerd, so we're connected in that way as well. He's the poet in the group, and also the only one to watch wrestling.

There are a couple more people who are recent additions. Tom is smart and funny and kind and loves Holly to bits. I always enjoy hanging out with him and wish he lived closer--although I admit this is partly because I think I could wear some of Holly's clothes. Dan is a science nerd, which I love, and loves baseball, which I also love, and is completely obsessed with Star Wars, which I love making fun of.

Andrew finishes up the group, and he's my favorite person on the planet. He's smart, kind, and steady as a rock. (Damn that commercial for ruining a good phrase.) He loves me despite the fact that I'm a very different person that the one he started dating 13 years ago. He is the person I would most want to work with on a project. He's a computer genius, which has come in handy more times than I can count. I often realize how lucky I am to be with him as we are weird in much the same ways. I love him more than I love knitting and chocolate put together.

I am grateful. I am so lucky to have these people in my life, and I'm going to hold on to these thoughts when I'm having an uncomfortable conversation with a cousin or aunt or sister's ex-husband.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

I have a paperweight with that question engraved on it. About a year ago, I was talking to a friend about it, and I suddenly knew what the answer was.

I would do three things:

I would become a vegetarian.

I would train to run a 5K.

I would meditate daily.

On Saturday, I checked off the second one:

Em and I completed the Jingle Bell Run/Walk. It took us nearly three times longer than the fastest runners. I was, with no exaggeration, passed by both speedwalkers and a woman with a prominent limp.

But we finished, jogging the whole thing, even through the ice slick that was created when the fast people threw their water cups on the ground. By the time I got to the water station (who needs a water station for 3.1 miles?), the water had frozen.

I'm not really a runner, but I'm someone who can look at a runner on the side of the road and understand why she's doing what she's doing. I'm someone who wants to try for something a little bit longer and wants to go a little bit faster--someone who wants to see if I can push myself to be a little bit stronger. I'm someone who makes a crazy goal and follows through.

We're looking for a 10K.

I think I'd better figure out a time to start meditating.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Crafty McCraftermeier

I love etsy. I love that people who enjoy crafting but only have so many people in their lives who want sequined toilet roll covers can sell them to people who desparately need sequined toilet roll covers but aren't crafty.

The sad thing about etsy is that people sometimes decide they don't want to sell anymore. This happens immediately after I find them and decide their stuff is brilliant and I want to buy it all for myself. Bam! Seller is gone the next day.

Using Amazon's universal wishlist button, I had put a needle book on my Christmas list. The purpose of this little felt miracle is to store all those needles that end up in the bottom of your knitting bag--the ones you need to weave in your ends and finish your knitwear. Nonknitters know not of what I speak, but knitters understand. I've lost whole days digging around in the bottom of my knitting bag looking for a blunt needle and cursing.

Andrew tried to buy it for me and, well, Bam! Seller gone.

I couldn't find anything else like it, probably because other people don't see the need for a needle book. At some point in my online search, I realized, "Hey. This is made of felt and thread and glue. I could do this. I make sweaters out of string. I can cut a piece of felt."

So, I did.

It's kitschy and obviously handmade. I love it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


You know those bugs that, once they infect you, take over your life for several days? When you emerge on the other side, you are shaken and a little shocked at its intensity.

I've just survived the Christmas knitting version of that.

It started out with a ball. Then there was this:

They were so cute that I immediately cast on for these:

And when I found the pattern for this, I knew I had to make it for a friend:

By this point I've lost the will to fight against the compulsion to make tiny ornaments, so these follow:

And a few more balls for good measure:

I have a different ornament for each of eight friends with whom we get together around the holidays.

I waver between being thrilled and being horrified. I realize I've become Aunt Bonnie who knits weird ornaments instead of just sticking to the list. I wonder if people who don't knit and don't necessarily appreciate the time and care that goes into knitting will like these, or if they'll become something they want to throw away but feel obligated to keep because someone made it for them. The key, I know, is to not care--to just knit for the enjoyment of it and give gifts to show your love.

And I know of nothing that says love like a knitted Christmas ornament.

The bug has left, and I've moved on to my first pair of Cat Bordhi socks.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We Interrupt This Wrapping

I wrapped a lot of Christmas presents this weekend. I had wrapped one of Rachel's gifts in tissue paper but hadn't wrapped the box when I stopped for dinner.

Here's what happened:

I wrapped other things until she woke up so as not to disturb the princess.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Christmas time in the city...

I've become slightly obsessed with the idea of knitted Christmas ornaments. (Insert joke about not getting out enough here.) The cabled ball is the first one. I have plans for many more, including, and I am not making this up, knitted poop. Someone not only wrote a pattern for a knitted poop ornament, but they first wrote it for crochet and then rewrote it for knitting. It's a strange and wonderful world.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Schoolyard bully

Yesterday we had the whole evening at home, and I was determined to be productive. I worked on entering addresses for Christmas card recipients into a spreadsheet while Andrew walked Dexter. We ate our frozen meals and then did bills. I was getting things together to continue work on Christmas cards when I noticed Andrew futzing around with the remaining treadmill piece.

By "remaining treadmill piece," I mean the main bulk of the treadmill. We had carried the other few pieces upstairs the night before after a comical pick-up in which the sporting goods employees couldn't find the key for the truck on which the treadmill was loaded and then the treadmill box was larger than the dimensions listed. Andrew drove it home squished between the (ever slowly sliding downward) box and the driver's side door, and I sat on top of the backseat squished between the box and that door slumped over so I wouldn't bang my head on the roof every time we hit a bump. We were grateful we live close to the sporting good store... and that we didn't get pulled over.

When we got it home on Tuesday, there were... difficulties getting it out of the car. We persevered, and we managed to get everything upstairs except the main bulk.

I just couldn't carry it. I had visions of us getting halfway up the stairs and then my body giving out and one of us dying a comically tragic treadmill-related death. The box was listed at 200 pounds, and nearly all of that was in this piece.

Although we desparately wanted all the pieces upstairs because that's the kind of OCD people we are, we acquiesced to reason and called a friend. His plan was to come over last night after work and help us haul that bad boy upstairs.

I don't know how to put this. Our friend was called out on a Bow-Related Emergency. Seriously. Bows as in those things made of ribbon that adorn festive packages. Bow-related emergency. It was a valid emergency; it had to do with a live musical production, not a package for Aunt Gertrude, but I did mock him a tiny bit.

So, back to the story. I'm labeling Christmas cards and Andrew is futzing with the hideously heavy piece of treadmill. I ask him what he's doing, knowing the answer. "I really want this upstairs."

..."Do you want help?"


I laugh. "Right. We'll just nip this upstairs. No problem. What would you like me to do?"

"Get on the stairs and steady the top. I'll lift from the bottom and sit it on the first step. You keep it from tipping backwards and killing me. I don't know how difficult that will be."

"No problem. Lift with your legs."

The next thing I know I'm flat on my back on the stairs with a 200 lb. treadmill on me.

"Huh. That was unexpected. Maybe I just wasn't ready for the weight. Let's try this again."

The next time I landed on my bum with the treadmill on top of me. I considered this progress.

I also realized that I had been pushed down and sat on twice by a 200 lb. schoolyard bully. In those situations, struggle is futile (the bully is bigger) and laughter is the only option (as it shows you're not scared of a bully). So I started to laugh. Uncontrollably. For a really long time. While Andrew kept asking, "Are you okay? You don't seem okay. You're laughing like you're in pain. Are you in pain?"

Once I regained control, We lifted the treadmill back up and reevaluated our strategy. We ended up scooting it on its side up the stairs, and we were successful in the end.

Today, my bum and the back of my head hurts. I believe getting healthy is trying to kill me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It Keeps Coming Up

There is a very good reason why the topic of keeping the holidays (Christmas in my case, but pick your festive poison) simple and sane comes up every year in magazines and news stories and conversations:

Nobody had figured out how to do it, and everybody wants to.

You may say this is an exaggeration and that your holiday season is filled with quiet nights by the tree with loved ones sharing reasons why you're thankful. If that is the case, please bite me. I mean that with love.

And teeth.

It's December 2, and I'm riddled with anxiety. It's the usual list:

Christmas cards
Knitting gifts
Four hundred thousand commitments which make it impossible to do the previous items

I admit that I'm really, really prone to working myself up over stuff that doesn't justify it. I also recognize that the luxury to be anxious over buying people I love presents is a luxury most of the people on this planet don't have.

Those realizations only serve to make me more stressed. Now I've got all this holiday stuff to do and I'm a horrible, self-absorbed person. Fabulous.

I wish I could figure it out. I wish I could convince myself to cut something out, to decide not to put up all the decorations or send the cards, or to just buy Visa gift cards for everyone and be done.

But I can't. And I won't. And so I'm trying to figure out how to get out of a spiral of tinsel-coated stress of my own making.

And, unsurprisingly, I can't figure it out. This is because I have made choices I'm not willing to reevaluate, and those choices mean that I have a lot of shit to do in December.

Sue Bender talks in one of her books about hiring an organizational consultant to help her clean her office. After several hours of justifying why she needed the paperwork the consultant was trying to throw away, she paid her to leave. Bender said that someday maybe she would find someone who understood that the paper was part of the process. I'd like someone find someone who understands that all the stuff on my to-do list is necessary and yet still be able to help me figure out how to do it and not be stressed out. I believe this person will have the ability to Bend Time.

I think that the issue is not How To Have a Stress-Free Holiday. The issue is How To Convince Yourself That You Don't Need To Do The Shit You Think You Need To Do. It isn't quite as catchy on a magazine cover, but everyone who is honest with herself would read the article. The problem is something I create myself, and yet I do it every year.

I have no answers. I have to go address Christmas cards.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy (post)Thanksgiving!

Here is a stream of consciousness list of things for which I'm thankful at this particular moment. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

that we're mostly done decorating for Christmas at home
fingerless gloves
that I type well
Mexican food
nativities that don't look like everyone was European
that I have a job
that I don't live with my extended family
Christmas music
Amazon's universal wishlist feature
sourdough bread
that my list of complaints do not include such things as disease, hunger, or any serious form of oppression
rollerball pens with micro tips
James Christensen

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rough Start

A and I went to Dick's Sporting Goods after work yesterday with our instruction manual, tools, and tape measure. Along with Golf Guy, who apparently is an engineer by day and Golf Guy by night, we took the elliptical machine apart enough to fit into our car. It took awhile, but it could have been much worse. There's also a broken spot I found on the frame, but I believe duct tape will fix that and add a bit of character at the same time.

We got it home and began carrying the pieces up to the loft. The final piece is the main bulk of the machine (minus arms, electronic piece, various plastic parts, and a gallon ziploc full of hardware). I carried the bottom while A went backwards up the stairs.

I am sorry to report that A has no latent telekenetic ability. If he did, I'm confident it would have shown up last night as his mind attempted to protect his body from damage.

I have tried to figure out how to express that trip up the stairs. I just can't.


So very heavy.

Later in the evening I began feeling tenderness in my neck and shoulders. Last night it woke me up. This morning I seriously contemplated whether showering was worth the pain. (You'll be pleased to note that I decided it was.) My shoulders and neck are... well, they.... never mind.

My current plan is to take ibuprofen every 4 hours and ignore it the best I can.

We're off to a rough start, the elliptical and I.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


A and I have joined the ranks of those who purchase exercise equipment. We are determined (as I'm sure all purchasers are) not to join the almost equally strong ranks of those who then use these pieces of equipment as coatracks.

We are not completely new to this. We bought a Gazelle, which we both used faithfully for nearly a year. However, we bought the Gazelle for $30 off eBay, so that didn't feel nearly as rife with commitment as this.

I blame Daylight Saving Time. I hate it with my whole heart. (Well, not my whole heart. Part of my hatred is reserved for other important things such as irrational people, violence, and meatloaf.) I run after work. Thanks to DST, it is dark fifteen seconds after I arrive home. As a result, I'm not running except on the weekends. This is not a good training plan for someone who's doing her first 5K on December 12.

I went to a friend's house and tried her treadmill. I hate treadmills--not as much as meatloaf or DST--but I hate them. They make me feel like I'm going to fall off the back, even when I'm tethered to it by that little cord. They make me feel trapped. They make me scared. A runner at work said she uses an elliptical machine to work out when it's too cold/wet/dark to run outside. I've used one in college and while living at our second apartment, and I enjoy them... as much as I enjoy exercising, that is.

A, however, likes treadmills and hates elliptical machines. You see where this is going.

We bought a treadmill and an elliptical machine--both severely discounted. The elliptical machine is a discontinued floor model, and the treadmill was discounted as a pre-Black Friday special. The prices made it reasonable if we will use them, and I am optimistic enough to believe we will.

But, just in case, I think we should offer a gym membership to our spare room. You may choose to use either piece of equipment for the low, low price of $19.99/month (no prorate, no refunds, 1 year contract).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rant With Which No One Will Agree

Here's my Tuesday morning rant:

Tis the season for holiday party invitations. Besides the obvious problem that I'm an introvert and feel holiday parties are of the devil, there's the problem of eating at them.

For one of Andrew's clients' holiday party, we received a very fancy invitation with a request that we respond with our entree choice. The choices? Beef, chicken, or fish. There is literally no option for me.

You know how sometimes omnivores complain about herbivores being obnoxious pains in the ass? You know how sometimes you think that vegetarians are stuck up and drama queens and holier-than-thou about their beliefs?

Well, sometimes I am.

But sometimes my being a vegetarian becomes a big deal because the omnivores of the world make it a big deal. When they're not cognizant of the probability that someone attending their function would prefer not to eat meat, it leaves the vegetarian no option but to make a deal out of it. Even by simply not eating, we make a deal out of it. We make people feel badly, we draw attention to ourselves, and we don't do it to be spiteful.

My rant is twofold:

1) People need to be aware that there are those who have special dietary requirements. This includes people who are vegetarian, vegan, who follow kashrut or halaal guidelines, who have gluten or other allergies, etc. It's not easy, but it's important. To do this, people just have to put on their invitations that those with special dietary requirements should indicate as such on their R.S.V.P. so that everyone can enjoy themselves (as much as anyone enjoys holiday parties).

2) The idea that dishes with meat are the norm and dishes without meat are the exception is backward. If someone chooses to eat meat, it should be special. Not to put too fine a point on it, but something (unwillingly) gave up its life so that dish could be prepared. It's a big deal.

If we as a society ate meat as a treat, recognizing the sacrifice both in terms of life and resources that it requires, we'd be healthier and more environmentally conscious.

And I'd be able to eat at #*)$^ing parties.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Cost of Knitting

Here's a pretty fascinating blog post about the cost of knitting. I found it especially appropros as I'm working on my Christmas gift spreadsheet (yes, a spreadsheet--sh'up) and trying to figure out how to quantify the knitted gifts I'm giving.

Fame At Last

I continue to resist Facebook, Myspace (does anyone use Myspace anymore?), Twitter, and the like. My thought is that people are in my past for a reason. I don't want them intruding into my present.

However, I have embraced Ravelry like a stuffed animal during a weepy movie. The whole site is for knitters and crocheters.

HEY! DON'T ZONE OUT! A social networking site for knitters is cool.

One of the fabulous things about Ravelry is that you can post your knitting projects along with notes, pictures, details about yarn, price, time it took to knit, etc. I posted Brandy's secret project (Brandy, do not click), and I received a comment from the designer.

The. designer. looked. at. my. knitting.

It's astounding to me.

Fame at last.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Indianapolis Knitting Guild Mystery Shawl

It is finished.

Here it is pre-blocking. (Blocking is the process of soaking a finished piece, then stretching it into the shape you want and securing it with hundreds of straight pins. Then you let it dry, and it magically stays in that shape once you unpin it. This, and I can't stress this enough, won't work with acrylic. Don't bother.)

You will note that it looks like a wad of green poo.

Here it is in its bath.

Here it is stretched out and pinned. I do this on those foam mats that little kids play on. I can jab straight pins right into the foam. Try to ignore the colors, although I know that's impossible.

And this is the finished product.

I view this a bit like a wedding dress. The more people who wear the dress, the lower the cost per event. I would welcome the chance to lower the hours per wear, so feel free to borrow it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I have mentioned the lace project on this blog. It is challenging. I am over it and only continuing because I am of the stubborn variety with an overdeveloped sense that projects should be finished regardless of, well, most anything.

I spent several hours on it last night and got through 5 rounds. That's approximately 79 gazillion stitches. I worked on it for most of lunch today and finished a round and a fourth.

Still, I am on round 20 and there are only 26. Several more hours of knitting, to be sure, and then there's the blocking, which I assume will take another two hours of me hunched on my guest room floor, stabbing hundreds of straight pins into foam boards, but I am Powering Through.

Then I check my e-mail. Errata have been posted. "There are two extra repeats of the lace pattern in the written instructions. To make it match with the chart, knit rows 1 – 16, 25 and 26 (skip rows 17 – 24)."

Um, I'm on round 20. I can't rip out the rows. Lace, ladies and gentlemen, is unrippable. Cannot be done. It will result in tears, the burning of yarn in a ceremonial pit, and possibly abandoning knitting in favor of ceramics.

I took a few deep breaths and studied the chart and written instructions carefully. I believe that I can finish round 20 and then knit rounds 25 and 26. If I'm reading the chart right, which is always a big gigantic if, that will finish one of the two extra repeats. As the designer noted in his e-mail, it's not a big deal if you do extra repeats. I'll just have a bigger border.

Now, I should feel relieved.

This eliminates four rounds of knitting.

2,736 stitches

The end is not only in sight, but closer than I had anticipated.

So, why does this make me so mad?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Things of Which I Am Currently Attempting to Convince Myself

Swiss Miss Diet Cocoa is really tasty. I do not miss the yummy cocoa at all.

I am not afraid to cook soup in a pumpkin. It will not become molten lava chasing me from the oven.

I would prefer to work out rather than spend the evening on the couch.

It does not trouble me that I have dreams that involve old acquaintances in footie pajamas.

H1N1 does not concern me at all.

The family of the teenager who rear ended us will turn out to be upstanding citizens who pay for the damage to our car without us having to pay our deductible.

I don't mind that part of my job is typing letters for people.

I like to cook.

The giant lace project is not only a fabulous learning experience, but will be beautiful when it is finished.

It will be finished soon, perhaps even in my lifetime.

Once it is finished, I will be able to look at it without seeing only mistakes.

I am exactly where I need to be.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Running in Circles, Chasing My Tail

A coworker who's been running for over a year and I were talking about my fledgling habit Tuesday. She suggested several things to help me enjoy my workout more, and one of them was running somewhere new.

So, yesterday I ran down to our main road, turned left, and went into the giant neighborhood behind my street.

It was exciting! And new! And I was listening to the new Black Eyed Peas album, (which was good for running and became immediately stupid when I stopped--beat vs. lyrics, I'm sure) and I was Boom Boom Pow-ing and indeed Tonight was a Good Night!

Most of you knows what comes next.

I got lost.

Not seriously lost, but definitely turned around. I ended up at another entrance to the giant neighborhood, and, although I knew where I was, there was no way I was going to run down that road at 6:00 p.m. I would have gotten squished like a bug.

I turned around and walked back from whence I came. I contemplated knocking on a door. I berated myself for not carrying my cell phone. (Very dumb. I've decided the main characteristic of my new phone should be that it is small enough to run with comfortably. I carry my cell phone when I walk the dog. Why would I not carry it when I run somewhere new by myself?) I decided to ask a passing car, and the man kindly gave me the wrong directions and wrong street name.

I feel somehow comforted by this. I'm assuming this man lives in this neighborhood, and even he has no idea how to escape. I'm guessing he's still there, driving around saying, "Why are there only three unique street names? Why are they all labeled Blvd. and Parkway and Circle and Lane with the same name?"I did find my way out, but I did not come out where I had intended.

On a positive note, I ran a few more minutes than planned because the fear of I'm-going-to-loop-around-on-roads-with-the-same-name-until-I-die-in-this-subdivision made running look more attractive than walking. Being Lost Faster seems somehow better than Being Lost Slower.

I looked at a map when I got home, and there's just very little chance I'll ever be able to run in that neighborhood without getting lost. I think I'll try it again this weekend, but I'll carry my phone.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Note: If you do not want to think about vegetarianism, stop reading and go have a piece of bacon. I absolutely understand.

Today is my six-month vegiversary. When I decided to become a vegetarian, I decided I wouldn't publically self-identify as one until I had been meat-free for six months.

I'm a vegetarian.

Here are some things I want to say for the record:

1. Becoming a vegetarian was like a conversion experience for me, but, unlike the one I had when I was 12, it was not fueled by fear of the End Times. I read a book and realized that being a vegetarian was easy. It wasn't like meditating or learning Spanish; it was a passive decision. I just decided not to eat some things. Not doing something is much easier than doing something.

2. I don't feel like I have an iron deficiency. I take a multivitamin. I eat leafy greens. I don't need blood in order to get iron. There are entire cultures who are vegetarian and survive quite nicely. Hello, Hindus! Love you!

3. Yes, I like the taste of meat. I don't like that something with a brain and a heartbeat and a nervous system had to die so I can eat its flesh.

4. I feel like I get enough protein. I have a bottle of Bean-O in my kitchen.

5. Yes, it's harder. It's difficult to go out to eat, and family get-togethers are a bit of a nightmare. Yes, it's worth it.

6. I like vegetables much more now than I did six months ago.

7. I still eat dairy products. I find this slightly incongruous, but I haven't gotten to the point where I'm willing to give them up. I may never get to that point. I justify it to myself by saying that nothing had to die in order for me to drink my milk. One could easily argue that the way the dairy industry treats cows is horrific and shouldn't be supported and that our dependence on the milk of another animal is weird and gross. I hear you. Intellectually, I agree with you. I'm still eating cheese. (Sorry.)

8. I'm really happy with this life change, and the temptation to try to convert everyone else is strong. I am trying to be aware of that and not be obnoxious. I'm guessing I fail with some regularity, and I sincerely apologize.

And here are the main reasons why I made this choice, which, unfortunately, I have a hard time distilling when an aunt asks why I'm not eating her green beans flavored with bacon:

1. It takes around 15-17 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. The world would have a lot more food if we'd eat the grain instead of the cow.

2. Animal farming is a significant contributor to global warming.

3. The way animals are slaughtered in this country is horrific. I don't want to be part of that system. "You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. I feel not eating meat is an ethical decision. It would be great if nothing had to die in order for me to live, but that's not the way the system is set up. Since I'm not willing to starve to death, I will try to eat in a way that does the least amount of harm. Eating plants, in my mind at least, does less harm than eating animals.

5. I believe having the ability to kill and choosing not to do it is Right Action, one of the Eight Noble Truths.

6. I feel better looking into my dog's eyes knowing I don't have dead animal in my stomach.

To become vegetarian is to step into the stream of Nirvana.

Happy Vegiversary to me!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Meditating with the Buddha

Most of you know I have a thing for Buddhism. I'm a Protestant who works at a synagogue, but I love me some Buddhism. I wrote my master's thesis about the role of women in Buddhism, and I find the Eightfold Path the smartest way to center my life. This is not in conflict with my other religious beliefs, and I could bore you to tears with why I believe this to be the case. Be glad I'm not doing that today.

Buddhism makes a big deal of being in the moment. Meditation is not described as connecting to a Higher Power. It's not prayer. It's not waiting for divine intervention.

It's sitting. And breathing. That's it.

Except I find it impossible to do. Sit. Breathe. When thoughts enter your head, acknowledge them and then let them float by without judging them.

Buddhism is practice. It's not a religion; it's a practice. Can't meditate? That's okay. Just practice. Practice doesn't imply that you have it figured out; it just implies that you're attempting something. Success isn't really the issue.

My favorite Buddhist writes about being told by her teacher that he believed she had approximately 10,000 more lifetimes before she reached Enlightenment. There was no pressure; she had lots of time to figure things out. I have time.

All of life is practice.

Sit. Breathe.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Relatively Speaking

This is something we know but forget: The difficulty of any task is relative.

I have been working on a mystery shawl. The Knitting Guild--yes, I'm in a knitting guild, sh'up--puts one clue on its website each month. There are four clues, and the fourth one gets published on November 1. You sort of know what you're knitting, but not really. It's all very Secret and Surprising and Challenging.

The project is lace, and the yarn is tiny and the stitches are many. Every other row I have more stitches. The wad of lace is up to 592 stitches in a round. (That makes me mad, by the way. Why couldn't the most recent clue end at 600 stitches? Now I have to say, "I'm up to nearly 600 stitches." It doesn't have the same ring to it.) Lace is hard and unforgiving and is really, really hard to take out when you get to the end of a round and find out that you have an extra stitch.

When I finished clue 3, I was thrilled to have over a week with no clue and therefore no possible way to work on the shawl. The freedom to knit something not tiny and not green and not lace!

So I started working on a secret project for Brandy. (It's not really secret, just secret from Brandy. You know.) This project is difficult. There are Colors and Charts (stupid charts) and Math.

But you know what? It's not difficult after knitting lace. The yarn is small, but not as small as the lace. The chart is tricky, but it's over 96 stitches (which, as you know, is nearly 100, stupid designers) instead of nearly 600. No problem.

My point, and I have one, is that this project would have been very difficult if I had just finished a simple hat. But I didn't, and it's not.

I've been frustrated recently by my extremely slow running pace. Really slow. Really quite slow. Really startlingly slow. But I've been looking at it incorrectly.

Four months ago, I would have found running a mile harder-than-lace hard. Now it's not. It makes me wonder: What else can I do?

What else can we all do?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dr. Weston

C.S. Lewis wrote more than Narnia. One of the other things he wrote is a Space Trilogy, the second book of which is Perelandra. In it, our hero, Ransom*, is fighting against the evil Dr. Weston. At first, Ransom tries to reason with Dr. Weston, but by the end of the book, they're in a serious knock-down drag out.

SERIOUS. I remember that Ransom is stronger, but Dr. Weston has peculiarly strong claw-like fingernails. It's not pretty.

As a serious theologian, this pissed me off, of course (the whole story, not just the fingernails). Doesn't it seem like a cop-out that the force of good has to resort to beating the crap out of the force of evil? Doesn't that, um, make the force of good less good?

I know, I know. "C.S. Lewis is writing in metaphor. The entire trilogy is a metaphor." I get it. I do. But I still didn't like it.

Today, I thought about Dr. Weston for the first time in a very long time.

You can't run today. You need to go home and make chili and figure out how to love cooking.

You deserve today off. You walked yesterday.

Your running buddy isn't able to run. You should not run as well and then you'll catch back up together.

Your pace is so slow that there really isn't any point in you continuing. Forget the tortoise and the hare. Think about turtles squished on the road. That's reality.

Your excitement about running has waned. Soon you will stop running altogether and start wearing your fancy running shoes to the grocery. You knew you weren't a runner and couldn't keep this up.

I've been reasoning with this voice all friggin' day. It's exhausting. It's maddening. And most of all, it isn't doing any good.

Then I remembered Dr. Weston. And I punched that bastard in the face and ran anyway.

*I like to believe that Douglas Adams was thinking of this story when he created the character of Random Frequent Flier Dent. Lewis's Random is the instrument of God, and Adams's Random was the instrument of the multidimensional Guide. Adams was an atheist, but he was a thoughtful one.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monkey on My Back

I work in a place in which the sentence, "There is no monkey in the sanctuary" is uttered without irony.


I have a purple shirt that has been living on the chair in my bedroom for longer than I care to admit. In my mind, it lived there because it was too small. (I have no idea why it couldn't live in the closet with other too small clothes.)

I own three of these shirts in different patterns, unsurprisingly. The one in question is a large and the other two are extra large. Last week I tried the extra large and had to admit the thing was just too big. I was simultaneously pleased that I'd lost weight and sad that I had lost two shirts out of my work wardrobe. So, today I put on the large and am thrilled with the lack of tightness.

Then I realized that the reason it was living in the chair for months and months was not due to its size. It was missing the bottom button.

I wore it anyway. Screw it. Sometimes just getting dressed is a big enough challenge for the day. I can't expect to be adequately fastened as well.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Little Red Running Hood

Emily and I have signed up for our first 5K. On December 12, we will be participating in the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for the Indiana Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.

We can absolutely do this. As Em reminded me, halfway through yesterday's workout we were halfway through the training program. We only have four (and a third) weeks left. I'm excited to have a 5K actually on the calendar.

Well, excited and scared.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One of the Things about Running

I'm currently in the midst of my second attempt at learning to run. This is not a natural thing for me. I do not look like a runner. I'm pretty sure I don't RUN like a runner. In fact, I'm not sure what I do actually counts as running. (Anyone know the difference between running and jogging?)

But this is week four of the Couch to 5K running program. The longest I'm running is a five-minute stretch, and I do a couple of those in a workout along with some shorter runs.

I fully acknowledge that I'm not a runner and there's a better than average chance I won't become one. I also acknowledge that my workout would be laughable to anyone at all on the planet who considers herself a runner. But there is this....

I'm not hating running. I occasionally look forward to it.

Weird, huh? I agree.

I've signed up for e-mail from Runner's World. They send me quotes about running. Today's was by Mark Remy, the Executive Editor. He says, "Even after all these years, running continues to amaze me. Mostly in its ability to clarify - to make things OK and bring you back down to earth, even when things are insane. Especially when things are insane."

Maybe that's it. Maybe that's why I don't hate it. Maybe running is more than burning calories and earning extra Weight Watcher activity points and following through with something even though it's scary because I want to prove something. Maybe running can be a way to shut everything out and focus on very small things--Pink's deeply profound lyrics, not crossing my arms, exhaling longer than I inhale, relaxing my shoulders and legs, running until I get to that mailbox up there before looking at the stopwatch.

Maybe running is a form of meditation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pulled Under by a Pullover

There is something you need to know before I tell you my story:

I hate to shop for clothes.

If I had my way, I would wear jeans and a polo shirt to work every single day in the warm weather and jeans, a plain t-shirt, and a fleece jacket every single day in the cool weather.

So, if I find something I like, I have the tendency to buy it in more than one color. It goes along with my "I wish I had a uniform" mindset.

Two years ago, I bought three v-neck sweaters for $10 each. I then decided they were too tight, and they were relegated to a drawer. I have since lost some weight, so I pulled one out this morning, pairing it with jeans and a plain white t-shirt.


This leads us to another story-- a story that took place on Election Day, 2004. A day on which I was fervently hoping to avoid a second term with W. I was desperate to cast my vote, and so I went to my polling station before heading to work. One of the polling places nearby was experiencing technical difficulty, so my polling place was packed with unexpected voters. I am standing in line in the racquetball court of our apartment complex's clubhouse. It is hot. The line is long and not moving very quickly. I am wearing jeans and a cashmere turtleneck.

It is hot.
The line inches forward. My coat comes off; I do that floppity-floppity thing you do with your shirt to try to get air moving around your torso. It is hot.

I make it out into the cramped hallway. Just a few more people ahead of me. It is hot. Why isn't everyone else hot? Why are there so many people? Why are they all breathing in my space?

Things begin to move in unexpected ways. I take a step, but my body moves down instead of forward. I am on my knees and people are yelling. I have no idea if I black out, but I am aware of someone yelling to call an ambulance and someone else yelling that I don't need an ambulance. I am grateful that none of the yelling is being done by me. I am somehow seated on a folding chair and then I am breathing. I fuzzily fill out my paper ballot and walk into the blessed coolness of outside, shaken.

I give away that sweater and vow never, ever again to wear a turtleneck of any kind. Not if I'm skiing in Aspen (highly unlikely to begin with), not if I am nearly decapitated and have a horrific scar, not even if it has a cute applique of a puppy on the neck.

I am unaware of it, but over time my Election Day paranoia expands. I consistently choose cardigans over pullovers. I always, always wear something under a sweater so it can be removed if necessary.

So, this purchase of v-neck pullovers was a departure for me. I blame it on the after-Thanksgiving mentality, the low price, and the uniform factor.

When I put that sweater on this morning (over a white t-shirt--I'm not crazy), I was fresh from my morning shower. As I was putting on my makeup, I realized that I was hot. Was it really that hot in here? Was I going to be hot all day? Was I trapped inside that sweater? Images of falling to my knees in a crowded clubhouse full of people--some of whom may have been voting Republican--exploded in my head.

Let me be perfectly clear: We're talking about the beginning of an anxiety attack over putting on a sweater.

Those who know me think they know what happened next. They think I whipped that sweater over my head and into the drawer in one panic-filled motion. They think I thanked God I had not allowed myself to get trapped into an acrylic hell and went to work in a short-sleeved shirt.

They were wrong. I am wearing the pullover.

It's called personal growth, people.

It IS hot in here, though, isn't it?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Slippery Slope with Cleats

Okay, so this is technically a blog. It's not like I'm going to become a Blogger or anything, just someone who, you know, has a blog. There's a difference. I would prefer you did not ask me to explain it to you.

Just as a reminder: I WILL NOT join social networking sites. I can see how you might think that a blog is a short step from falling into Twitter and (god forbid) Facebook, but I've got cleats on. Metal ones.

And, for the record, I blame Emily.