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November 30, 2005

Anne is sunshine; Emily is moonlight...

Why yes, I am Emily, actually...

Emily Starr
You're Emily of New Moon. You're funny, and
independent, but often stubborn. You've wanted
to be a writer your whole life, and are very
talented and intelligent.

Read more about Emily Starr in L.M. Montgomery's

Which L.M. Montgomery Heroine are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by Kat at 05:06 PM | Comments (2)

November 29, 2005

First love

You may have noticed that I hesitate to refer to this as a "knitting blog." And really, this isn't just because I write about things other than knitting. The truth is that in the world of knitting blogs, I've always felt like something of an imposter. And it's not because I've never actually finished a sweater. Okay, confession time: knitting really isn't my "thing," my one main hobby, my overriding passion. Now, this isn't to say that I don't love it. I really, really do. But - well, I guess it's as simple as this: by the time knitting came along, I was already taken. My first love came into my life early on, and knitting never really had a chance.

My mother tells me that after she brought me home from the hospital, the first place she took me "out" was the public library. And I was, basically, a goner from that point on. Now, I don't mean to imply that she planned it this way, or that said trip to the library necessarily cast a spell over me or something (although I wouldn't be surprised). No, she took me to the library because the fact that she was a first-time mom with a brand new baby didn't affect the more central issue: she needed to have something to read. The main thing (aside from work, household chores, etc.) that I can remember my parents doing when I was young is reading: my mother reading mysteries while cooking or folding laundry, my father ending the evening with the New Yorker, both of them reading to me constantly, incessantly. Given this environment and my own natural (genetic?) inclinations, is it any wonder that I started reading as soon as I could and haven't stopped since?

I don't remember learning to read; perhaps it is more accurate to say that I barely remember not being able to read. My parents never tried to teach me; they just read to me all the time and answered whenever I asked what a word or letter or sound was. They tell me that my teacher called them at the end of my first week of kindergarten. "Did you know that Katie can read?" Their response was something like "yeah, well, we sort of figured." They started early with their pattern of being laid back about academic stuff. This was probably good, as it soon became clear that I was uptight enough about it for all of us.

I was your classic bookworm as a child. I read when I was supposed to be cleaning my room or doing my homework. "Playing outside" often meant "reading outside." I was generally more interested in my books than my classmates; looking back, I realize that this probably showed and was undoubtedly part of the reason why I never felt I fit in. (Reading at recess is not necessarily the best way to make friends on the playground.) And even with the friends I did have - well, I never really felt I was part of the group, or perhaps even the same world, in a way. Books were generally more real to me than the things and events happening around me. And books were easier to understand than either the "real world" or the pop culture/TV stuff everyone else was talking about. (Still are, actually.) I've been spending way too much time recently trying to figure out whether I was different because I read so much or whether I read so much because I was different. It's probably a little of both.1

Looking back, it seems odd that, given the above, the idea of majoring in English in college never occurred to me until I was actually in college (and trying to be a physics major). Through middle school and most of high school, I was planning to be a professional musician; I gave up that plan because I realized that all those hours of practicing would cut into my reading time. You'd think that would have told me something, but it didn't. I considered majoring in math, history, philosophy, physics... but never literature. There were probably a few reasons for this. My mother, a doctor, tends to consider much of the humanities and social sciences to be "not real academic subjects." And I didn't tend to like English class that much in middle and high school: we had to read books a chapter at a time and take notes with stupid prescribed methods and try to discuss things with all these people who just didn't get it and, worse, didn't care. And then there was the writing aspect. I love to write, but... handing in papers with rough drafts and pre-writing? Sorry, my brain doesn't work that way.

So anyway. (Do I have a point here, other than the history of my life? I hope so. We'll get there.) My first semester of college, I was taking the classes that good little science majors are supposed to take - physics and calculus and stuff. And I also took an Intro to Poetry class because it sounded interesting and I wanted to round things out a bit. Well. Turns out, me and physics? Not so much. I still found (and find) the concepts fascinating, but Physics 100 was all about plugging numbers into equations, and half the time the professor didn't even really say what the equations were about. So I decided that I liked reading about physics more than actually doing physics. And that poetry class? Loved it. So the next semester I signed up for two literature classes2 and no physics classes (although I did take the second semester of calculus, just to hedge my bets). And, of course, I wound up majoring in literature. I probably shouldn't have been as surprised as I was.

By my senior year, though, I was feeling a bit burned out. Writing a thesis can do that, I guess. I started to feel like reading wasn't all that much fun anymore. I didn't stop reading - I don't think I could stop reading - but I didn't like it much either.3 I just did it, because that's what I did. And then, once I graduated, I realized that I could read whatever I wanted and was no longer in the middle of a bunch of precocious, self-absorbed adolescents who would make fun of me for reading Diane Mott Davidson or Nora Roberts. So I did. A lot. I half-consciously decided that I didn't like "hard" stuff and spent a few years reading mostly fluffy mysteries and romances. Not, of course, that there's anything wrong with mysteries or romances or any kind of book. It just wasn't a very good balance for me, personally.

And, really, it was much more about my thinking behind my choice of reading materials than it was about the books themselves. When I graduated from college, I was burned out, overwhelmed, scared, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.4 So I decided I had to be "normal." I started watching more TV and reading more "popular" stuff because I thought that, if I couldn't help but read constantly, I could at least read what normal people read. And, probably, a break after finishing the thesis and all was helpful. But I got stuck in that self-created literary cage and then forgot why I was there and then that it was even a cage in the first place. And this all meant that, basically, I forgot why I liked to read. I did it, I even enjoyed it, but the magic and mystery and meaning was all but forgotten.

(Warning: Here comes my point! I told you I'd get there!)

Now I think I'm starting to remember. Several factors (the break-up, boredom at work, living with someone passionate about books, working at the bookstore again) have combined in the past few months to remind me of why reading is so vitally important to me. And I'm loving it. And wanting to read all the time, which is hard with the two jobs and school and novel thing. Sometimes, honestly, I get a bit overwhelmed by all the wonderful books out there just begging to be read. (Working in a bookstore does not really help this.)

So I guess the reason I'm writing this is because I feel like I've sort of been giving reading short shrift recently, especially given all it's done for me. And I felt the need to correct the impression I'm afraid I give that knitting or whatever else is "more important" to me. Because if I ever had to choose to give up either reading or knitting for the rest of my life, well, I wouldn't really have to think about it. In one of her books5, Steph says something like "I knit so much that it has become a personality trait. Other people are kind or patient or friendly. I am knitting." And I am reading.

1 I don't think that all this reading was necessarily better for me, though, at least in terms of making me into a normal, well-adjusted person. I feel like there are lots of things I missed somehow (flirting? Make-up? Huh?), and I still haven't figured out where/when/why I missed them. But that's a post for another day.
2 Including "Agony in Stony Places." Yes, I really took a class called that. It never fails to amaze people. (Or at least people unfamiliar with my bizarre college. So all of you except Cate, go ahead and be amazed. And Cate gets a prize if she can guess who taught such a miserable-sounding class. ;-) )
3 This was also the time of the (related, I must think) decision that I hated academia and didn't want to go back ever, except maybe for a library degree, which was more "professional" than "academic," anyway. Um, right. Can I claim temporary insanity? Anyway, that's another post for another day.
4 Nota bene: "Move in with your ex-boyfriend" is very rarely a good solution to this sort of issue.
5 I promise I'll check the quote when I get home.

Posted by Kat at 02:36 PM | Comments (3)

November 27, 2005

Worth every penny

Up here in Red Sox land, I tend to get some weird looks and questions when I buy the New York Times on Sundays. Why am I not buying the local paper1 or, if I have to be snobbish about it, the Boston Globe2? I am clearly some sort of traitor. I get these questions from people behind me in line and even from the cashiers who are selling me the paper. (Hey, cashiers? Nota bene: saying "What could this paper have to make it worth $4.50?!?" is not necessarily the best way to, you know, sell more papers. Just saying.) I generally mumble something about the Book Review and the crossword puzzle and how yes, I know the other papers have crossword puzzles too, but if Will Shortz isn't involved, they really don't count, don't you see? But no, they invariably don't see, and they give up, and I give up, and they let me buy my paper. But it's sort of exhausting. And my actual reasons for buying it are a bit more varied:

1. The aforementioned Book Review and crossword are, actually, quite important to me. Something just feels wrong if I don't have them.
2. My father has purchased the Times every Sunday since... well, I don't know. Probably before I was born, anyway. Again, it just feels wrong not to have it around. And some sort of emotional connection/stability thing is involved, too.
3. There's always a chance that Amanda Hesser will have something in the food section. She is on the "Can I be her when I grow up?" list along with Sara Norton, Meg Cabot, and Stephanie.
4. Erica expects the Book Review when I'm done with it.
5. I really do like the other sections, at least most of them, even if I don't always get through them. I like having the option. Some weeks I read more of it than others, but, again, it just feels wrong if it's not there.
6. And, okay, I am a snob. I'm a bit ashamed to admit it, but part of me likes being the sort of person who buys the Sunday Times. (More on this in the forthcoming post "The New Yorker Divide." I know you're waiting with bated breath.)

But now I have a much simpler way to explain it. As I was reading last week's Book Review this morning (um, yeah, I'm a bit behind), I came across the phrase, in reference to Greg Critser, "arguably the least bubbly reformer since Oliver Cromwell." That alone says it all. That's why it's worth my $4.50.

Also? Every single week the Book Review includes more books that sound interesting than I could possibly read in a month, never mind a week. But I keep writing down the titles, keep thinking I'll try...

1 Because I get the local paper delivered on Sundays, people, although really mostly for the grocery coupons. And I'm considering cancelling it, anyway. But shhh.
2 Don't they know the Globe is owned by the Times, anyway?

Posted by Kat at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)

November 25, 2005

Giving thanks

Things I am thankful for this year...

* My family. They may drive me crazy, but I love them and I know they love me and that means a lot.
* My roommate. Not to be overdramatic, but the past year would have been much harder without him.
* My "real life" friends. I seem to have more of them than I think. It's nice.
* Especially the friend I spent Thanksgiving with... she's actually an online friend who seems to be crossing into "real life" territory.
* Which brings me to online friends/bloggers/e-mail lists/etc. Quite thankful for you all as well. (And then of course there's Erica, who also manages to straddle the real/online barrier, to sometimes interesting results...)
* Knitting. It has also done its part in saving my sanity.
* Books/music/movies. In all the relationship drama, I'd sort of... forgotten. Not had the mental energy to read/watch "hard" stuff. And I'd felt like I shouldn't, for various convoluted reasons. But I'm loving getting back to it.
* My job at the bookstore, because I love it.
* My other job, because it provides financial security.
* My lovely apartment, even with the bizarre shower.
* And now we get to the hard-to-define part... it has been an incredibly hard few months, and I can't really say I'm thankful for getting my heart ripped into a million pieces, but I am thankful for how it has made me take stock and think about who I am and what I want and how everything in my life was wrong. Um, I seem to be failing with the "positive spin" concept here. Sorry. But... I guess I'm trying to say that, even though I'm still fairly miserable a lot of the time, at least I'm getting better at letting me be myself. And that deserves thanksgiving.

Posted by Kat at 12:14 AM | Comments (1)

November 23, 2005

The heat is on.

No, I'm not talking about needing to finish my novel. Or the ridiculous amount of Christmas knitting I've barely started. Or the semester-long project due in two weeks that I've barely started. Um, yeah. Sensing a theme here?

But anyway. What I meant was the real heat. In my apartment. It came on for the first time this morning. Of course, it was snowing at the time (well, outside), so I suppose that's acceptable. Right?

Posted by Kat at 10:16 AM | Comments (2)

November 21, 2005

Things I Have Learned in the Past Few Days

1. Six Feet Under + Birch = up until almost two am. Yeah. Bad combination. By which I mean "extremely fun and wonderful." At least I didn't have to be up early the next morning.

2. When my apartment is 49 degrees, it is pretty difficult to get out of bed.

3. Knit.1 seems to have a gift for writing simple patterns in the Most Confusing Way Possible.

4. On Friday afternoon, my roommate had to go to a meeting that might have coincided with our free snacks here at work, so I was to grab a snack for him. I realized that I'd be more confident in ordering for him at a decent restaurant than I was picking out a candy bar for him. Does this make us snobs, or just adults? I'm not sure.

5. It is, in fact, possible to talk on the phone while rolling very hot cookies in powdered sugar. Just in case you were wondering.

6. Sometimes those "Oh yeah, this IS my real life" moments actually help. Yesterday I was trying to simultaneously bake cookies and write my novel, and feeling vaguely annoyed at the situation. And then I realized that, if all goes according to plan, I will be writing novels while baking cookies for the rest of my life. (Well, eventually it would be nice if I didn't also have two jobs and school to keep up with while writing novels and baking cookies, and then maybe I could have enough time to give the writing a break and concentrate on baking for a few hours. But really, no guarantees.) And, somehow, once I realized that this was it, the writing got much easier.

7. A radio station that replaces its DJs with recorded messages about how they no longer have DJs to talk too much is, in fact, more annoying than the stations that actually do have DJs that talk too much.

8. I want to be Meg Cabot when I grow up.

Posted by Kat at 01:41 PM

November 18, 2005


You scored as Serenity (from Firefly). You like to live your own way and do not enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you that you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

SG-1 (from Stargate)


Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix)


Serenity (from Firefly)


Moya (from Farscape)


Galactica (from Battlestar: Galactica)


Enterprise D (from Star Trek)


Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars)


Bebop (from Cowboy Bebop)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com
Posted by Kat at 02:41 PM

November 17, 2005

Dear universe,

Just a few small requests:

1. The new coworker in the cube next to mine really does not need to talk to himself, randomly laugh vaguely maniacly, or sigh and/or moan at random times. Really.

2. It is getting toward the end of November. Will you get over this wishy-washy "Oh, maybe I'll rain or just fog up everything" thing and just snow already? Hint: This might be easier if you would also stop with the yo-yo temperatures.

3. I like working with the public. Really. I'm just not sure how many more times I can explain something as complex as, oh, alphabetical order or the fact that the bookstore has two floors or how, if you want a price changed, you do in fact have a "price issue" without attaching "you idiot" to the end of all of my sentences. Could we make everyone just a tad smarter?

4. You don't really want Christmas to be in fewer than 40 days. Really. How about an extra week or two? How do you expect me to get all this knitting done?

5. I'd also vaguely like to know how I ended up with two iPods in my desk, but hey, I'm not complaining.

6. Oh, yeah: Thanksgiving. Haven't I agonized over this enough already? Shouldn't it be over by now?


Posted by Kat at 04:59 PM | Comments (1)

November 16, 2005

No ordinary princess...

I know this isn't exactly news or anything, but, well, it was news to me. Dar Williams is amazing. I somehow managed to be basically unaware of her until just a few weeks ago. Now I'm listening to the two albums of hers I have on my iPod just a wee bit obsessively.

The Honesty Room was her first, I believe, and it's my favorite so far. The songs that stuck out to me at first were "When I Was a Boy," "The Great Unknown," and "The Babysitter's Here," but my list of "favorites" is getting longer and longer - it at least has to include "You're Aging Well" and "When Sal's Burned Down" now, and "Flinty Kind of Woman," and, well, that's probably at least half the album, so I might as well just say I love it all!!! I want to quote lyrics at you but I'll try to restrain myself, well, except for one:

"Your behavior is so male it's like you can't explain yourself to me.
I think I'll ask Renoir to tea." ("Mark Rothko Song")

Hah. I laugh every time I hear it.

The other one I have on Aurelia iPod is The Beauty of the Rain. I didn't feel as immediate a connection with this one, but it's definitely growing on me, and I think "Your Fire, Your Soul" might have to be my theme song this holiday season. And "The One Who Knows" is gorgeous and haunting, as is the whole CD, really.

She has several other albums, it seems. I know what's going on my Christmas list...

Posted by Kat at 02:37 PM | Comments (2)

November 14, 2005

Welcome to the fold...

Let's have a round of applause! The roommate has finished his first knitting project:

Adorable, no? I have concluded that my bear needs a scarf too.

(By the way, Aloysius is the name of the roommate's bear, not the roommate himself. And my bear, nee Snowflake, has become Watson. It seems to fit him better.)

So really, I think someone should sell learn to knit kits that include this bear. (With, perhaps, a storybook involving the bear himself knitting? Oh, the possibilities for cuteness are overwhelming...) Because the roommate had been working on a scarf for himself (that will, by the way, match the bear's scarf) on and off for a month now with interest but no particular enthusiasm. And then he got Aloysius and needed to knit him a scarf RIGHT NOW. And he's already talking about his next project. I'm telling you, it's a surefire method.

Posted by Kat at 04:53 PM | Comments (3)

November 13, 2005

Just to keep me humble

So many of you have commented on the loveliness of the pictures my roommate took of the cider/yarn incident last weekend. Well, we have now determined that he can also take better pictures of his own hand than I can take of him. Yeah. It's great for my self-esteem, really it is.

Anyway, here are the mittlets I made him in my ongoing effort to avoid turning on the heat in our apartment:

You can see the nifty thumb shaping in that one. The pattern is the one from the Elegant Ewe. There are lots of variations, and it's quite fun. A few more:

Yeah, we thought that one looked a bit odd, but I figured I'd post it anyway.

And, just because it's totally adorable:

The roommate with his new best friend. And, yes, wearing his mittlets. I introduced them and it was love at first sight. Of course, I wasn't willing to give up my adorable bear, so we now have two of these bears in the house1. Mine is named Snowflake, which is the name he came with; the roommate's is Aloysius. He is currently knitting Aloysius a scarf, because Aloysius is cold. Really, you have not seen cuteness until you have seen a grown man knitting a scarf for his teddy bear.

1 You, too, can have a Snowflake bear of your very own: he's from Borders/Borders Express, $7.99 with a $30 purchase. And his is THE VERY BEST SOFTEST bear I have ever met. I love these bears. You need one. Really.

Posted by Kat at 04:32 PM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2005

Denim dilemma

So, as I mentioned yesterday, my so-called "skinny jeans" are more or less fitting again. (They're still a bit tight, but wearable, so it counts.) I have four pairs of these jeans and I lovelovelove them. Therefore, of course, L.L. Bean has stopped making them. I need to diversify at some point, especially now that I am getting back toward a size at which I am willing to buy clothes. So I have been looking at pants on the L.L. Bean site, because, why yes, I am slightly obsessed with that particular brand. But hey, they're high quality and they fit.

And most of my other pants, now that I am starting to fit into them again, are things that I no longer actually like. I have determined that the correct fit for me is, as defined by dear L.L., "Fit: Sit below waist; slightly fitted through hips and thighs; boot-cut legs." So I think that, in the relatively near future, I will have to get myself a pair of these or maybe these, and probably one of these. (Yes, those last ones have straight legs, but I think that's a risk I'm willing to take in order to see the look on my brother's face when he sees me wearing cargo pants.)

And then I saw these.

Now, there are two main problems that I have with the so-called Boyfriend Jeans:
1. I am generally against the idea of paying someone extra to make my clothing look worn out. It seems a very elitest practice.
2. "Boyfriend Jeans"? What? Who borrows jeans from boyfriends? "Boyfriend sweater," I could see. But jeans? Huh? And besides, why can't these be worn out old jeans of my very own? What's with the implication that I need a boyfriend? (Would you date a man who wore jeans like that?)

These are both very good reasons. But. For some reason, I want them. Really. I have looked at them at least three times today. I am ashamed. So... what to do? Do I hold their name and inherent elitism against them, or do I add them to my Christmas list?

Posted by Kat at 04:18 PM | Comments (3)

November 09, 2005

Random Wednesday

(Yes, we had Random Kat Facts just last night, but that's a different kind of randomness. This is the "Here are twenty things I've been meaning to tell you but didn't have the time/energy/inspiration to write a whole post on" sort of randomness.)

1. If you would like a link to get a coupon for "Friends and Family Weekend" at Borders - 20% off now through Monday, I believe - let me know.

2. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about the election results. Yay New Jersey and Virginia and Maine. Boo Texas.

3. Whoever decided to play "Saturday in the Park" (you know, the "every day's the fourth of July" one) right when the majority of listeners would be headed to work on one of the coldest days yet this autumn really should not be a DJ. (Or computers shouldn't be picking out music. Whatever.) That said, it did make me smile and it's a good one to sing along with. Can you dig it? Yes I can! (Of course, listening to "My Immortal" next didn't exactly do wonders for my mood, but who can resist the line "Your voice, it chased away all the sanity in me"? Yeah, I'll be listening to that the rest of the day...)

4. I finally finished the school assignment that had been hanging over my head being impossible for two weeks. Turns out I was making it far harder than it actually should have been. (What, you, Kat? Making something hard for yourself? Really? Shut up.) I'm ridiculously excited about it being done.

5. I'm also ridiculously excited about the fact that I'm wearing my "skinny jeans" that haven't fit in about a year. Whee!

6. Novel? What novel? No, really, it's... coming. I'm a bit behind but not irreparably so. As I said to my roommate this morning, I have nothing planned this weekend other than working all day Saturday (yes, he laughed), so I'm hoping to get a few good sessions in and get ahead.

7. Meg Cabot blogs! I somehow just learned this last night. Happiness ensued. (I know what I'll be doing during my down time at work today...)

8. I took a vacation day yesterday and Erica and I headed out for a day of excitement involving Harrisville, the Woolery, and crazy fundamentalist pizza. I'll let her tell you her big news herself, but let's just say that she picked me up at nine and by noon we'd managed to spend about $500 between us. And that was before the Woolery.

9. At Harrisville, I found a copy of Knitting Fair Isle Mittens & Gloves: 40 Great-Looking Designs by Carole Rasmussen Noble. A friend, with whom I had never before discussed porn of any sort (I don't think), recently told me that this was one of his "favorite books of knitting porn." It's out of print, and I didn't want to order an expensive used copy sight unseen, but there it was in the bookcase at Harrisville! And - yes. My friend was absolutely right. (And yes, I have started a glove.)

10. I may have also started the Irish Diamond Shawl from Folk Shawls: 25 Knitting Patterns and Tales from Around the World1 in Harrisville Shetland in Evergreen2. I bought the "weaving" version of the yarn, on the cone, because it was a fraction of the price (and it's what the pattern called for, technically). I'll let you know how it goes.

12. I finally went to an orchard and got local apples, unpasteurized cider, and cider doughnuts yesterday. Yum.

13. Okay, my computer here at work is freaking out, so I think it's time for some quality time with AdAware.

14. But I don't want to jinx my bad mood by leaving off on number 13, so let me just mention how annoyed I am that my online registration for next semester is at 5 pm on Saturday. Because that is clearly the best time for everyone to be at their computers. (I get out of work at five, so I'll be at least a half hour late and probably not get my first choice of classes. Bah.)

1 Am I going crazy, or does my copy have a different cover than the one Amazon shows? Hmm. Check your copy. What's on the cover?
2 They have three million about ten shades of green, so I'm not sure if the picture of Wendy's I linked above is in the same color, but it's close.

Posted by Kat at 09:42 AM | Comments (3)

November 08, 2005

Random Kat Facts, 6-10

The "my brain is weird" edition...

6. The words for "right" and "left" still do not come naturally to me a lot of the time.1
7. I see words in my head. Especially when people talk. Sometimes they appear as if they're being typed; sometimes they scroll; sometimes they're like subtitles. Sometimes they just hang in the air. (Hi, Rachel!)
8. I love to sort things. And alphabetize things. If I could make a decent salary shelf-reading full time, I'd be in heaven.
9. The most purely fun class I took in college was Formal Logic. Of course, given that most of my classes had names like "Agony in Stony Places" (no, really), that might not be saying all that much.
10. I love to learn languages, and learn them pretty easily. Latin is my favorite language.

1 This is, of course, when talking about physical directions. I'm pretty clear on the concept when it comes to politics.

Posted by Kat at 11:35 PM | Comments (2)

November 07, 2005

Dear readers: Need advice.

So. Humor me for a minute and imagine a hypothetical scenario, okay?

You are a manager at one of a big chain of stores. Someone who works at the sister store up the street stops by to see your new paint job, and you end up talking for a while. (You've met her once before, briefly, at the other store.) Somehow the conversation turns to Christmas shopping and she mentions that she's planning to knit most of the gifts she gives this year. (Shut UP. I said this was hypothetical.) You jokingly describe a scarf you'd been wanting.

If said scarf were to actually appear sometime around Christmas, would this be a fun surprise or just creepy? (Erica? Would interstore mail be a possibility, a la the socks? We could start a trend...)

Yes, I know I'm skewing the sample a bit by asking a group primarily composed of knitters. But I asked a group of non-knitters (yes, I do know a few) and, while they concluded that no, it was not creepy, they also all said things like "So are you trying to hit on this guy?" and "Is he cute?" And no, that hadn't even occurred to me. But yes, I guess he is cute, although I wasn't really paying attention to that at the time. He did seem nice and smart and fun to talk to.

So, basically, the non-knitters said to go for it, but be aware that it could come across as flirtatious. I suppose my question for you, dear readers, is threefold.
1. Good idea or bad idea in general?
2. Are random acts of knitting inherently flirtatious?1
3. If it looks like a go... any suggestions on a reasonably priced yarn that comes close to the L.L. Bean color claret red?2

(Yes, I realize Erica, who also works at my store, will now undoubtedly proceed to tell me that she knows this guy and he's married or obnoxious or a psychopath or something. But psychopaths need scarves too, right?)

1 And after reading Juno's post today, I sort of also have to wonder whether that would necessarily have to be a bad thing.
2 It will probably show you a blue coat, but you can click the little "claret red" box to see the color bigger.

Posted by Kat at 01:33 PM | Comments (7)

November 05, 2005

Warning: Harder than it looks.

The warning label on the bottle of cider my roommate and I split last night:

In case you can't read it, it warns against "operating machinery" in conjunction with this product.

Now, would you think that "umbrella swift" would count as "machinery" in this context? It does! Who knew?

Yeah. I was rather impressed with myself, really. "Winding yarn" has been added to the list of things I'm not allowed to do when there's been any alcohol involved in the evening. My roommate, of his own volition, took the pictures for the blog before he sent me to bed. He clearly understands the priorities around here. A few more, because they're actually kind of pretty:

I especially like that last one. (As always, click to make big.) He has potential as a wool porn photographer, don't you think?

For the record, I really didn't drink that much. It was a 750ml bottle (7.5% alcohol; less than wine has) split between two people - the cork wouldn't go back in, so obviously we had to finish it. It's just that my body isn't exactly used to, well, any alcohol at all. My roommate, for whom the cider was "like soda," was rather amused by my reaction. (I was pretty dizzy.)

The culprit, if you're curious:

You can learn about it here. It was very good - the alcoholic beverage I have liked the best, by far, of the half dozen or so that I've tried. It looks like it's only available locally, but I highly recommend it to you NH/MA/ME people. Just not when you have urgent ball-winding to do.

Posted by Kat at 10:06 PM | Comments (5)

November 04, 2005

What's in your purse?

Bitch Ph.D. asked about the contents of our purses or pockets. I have no pockets in my skirt today (what is WRONG with women's clothing designers?), so, the contents of my purse:

Sock in progress
Packet of tissues
Small bottle of hand sanitizer
Two pens (blue and purple)
Two Lip Smackers (Cookie Dough and Strawberry Kiwi Comet)
Cell phone
Cough drops
Just-in-case pad
Asthma inhaler
Antibacterial wipes
Simmons ID
Paycheck to be deposited
Knitted pouch holding some cards that don't fit in my wallet (library, insurance cards, etc.)

Hmm, I think that's it. Your turn!

Posted by Kat at 02:24 PM

November 03, 2005

Can we call it "opting otherwise" instead?

So everyone has been up in arms about Maureen Dowd this week, and who am I to let a perfectly good bandwagon roll on by? A lot has already been said, better than I could say it, so I'll give you some links on Dowd's elitism and the truth behind Dowd's examples of "backlash" and how Dowd's "data" is questionable at best. And, before I get into my main point here, I'd like to say that my first reaction upon reading the article was that dear Maureen needs to get over herself. Maybe she'd have more romantic success if she, you know, tried being nice to people, or didn't make it quite so abundantly clear that she feels she is superior to everyone around her. I was also a bit unclear as to how Dowd would actually like women (or, for that matter, anyone) to behave, as she seems to disapprove of, well, everything.

But anyway. The part that most bothered me was her take on the whole concept of "opting out." To her credit, Dowd does admit that "to the extent that young women are rejecting the old idea of copying men and reshaping the world around their desires, it's exhilarating progress. But..." And, of course, there's a "but." It's exhilarating progess, but she doesn't like it. She sees it as spoiled, pampered women turning their backs on long-sought education and opportunities in favor of dependence on rich husbands. This strikes me as a narrow view, to say the least.

A little background, although you probably all know all this: I am currently single and self-supporting1. I work for a reasonably large corporation as well as a very large retail chain. I'm in grad school, ostensibly to become qualified to be a professional in a particular field. And, given the chance, I would (I think) "opt out" in a second. But I don't think but reasons are horrible and unfeminist.

1. First of all, corporate life really isn't that great. Theoretically, some people like it, but I haven't met many of those people, either male or female. Other than for reasons of job security, I really couldn't care less whether the company I work for makes money. This isn't the greatest motivation for trying to climb the corporate ladder. I'd rather be doing something I thought actually mattered, somehow.
2. If I ever have children, I feel pretty strongly about staying home with them (and quite possibly homeschooling, but we'll leave that for another discussion) if circumstances allow. I don't think this is because I want to be a Stepford wife, though. It's more that I want to be with my children through their early development. I think that's reasonable (and really rather responsible) of me2.
3. I will admit that I have literary aspirations, and "opting out" of a nine to five schedule would give me more time to write. (Although not if/when there were small children around. I do realize that, don't worry.)
4. I also realize that there is certainly some amount of "the grass is always greener..." in this. Someone3 once posted about a sort of alternate universe fantasy they had: that somewhere there was another version of themselves, a single, childless version with a job and apartment and free time and freedom/money to travel. And I had to laugh, because it sounded like a romanticized version of my life, and I have a parallel alternate universe fantasy that was basically a romanticized version of that person's life.

So there are some of my reasons. Please note that "I want to be pampered and spoiled" was not among them.4 More importantly, though, I refuse to believe that corporate/business/career "success" is any more intrinsically valuable than raising children or knitting a sweater or baking fabulous cupcakes or, for that matter, fixing a car or playing a musical instrument. It's all a question of what you want to do and what makes you, not some ideal, happy and fulfilled. Dowd pays lip service to the idea that feminism is about having choices, but she clearly doesn't actually believe that any choice other than "the old idea of copying men" is a choice worth making.

1 Well, mostly self-supporting: my parents pay most of my tuition, and I don't want to leave that out or seem ungrateful.
2 Not to imply that working mothers are doing something wrong; I just think, for me, I'd rather be home.
3 I thought it was Cate or maybe Jody, but I can't find it in either of their archives. If anyone remembers, please speak up!
EDIT: It was Rachel! Sorry about that.
4 Not that I'd object to a little pampering occasionally. Everyone deserves that.

Posted by Kat at 12:16 PM | Comments (1)

Day 2 Report

Day 2 words: 2021
Total so far: 4163

I did it. Somehow. Even with work and class and not getting home until eleven or so, I wrote 2000 words. (Yes, I was up until 1:30. Yes, I'm tired today. What's your point?) I even managed some description in this section. I introduced a few new characters. The plot is moving along. Overall, I'm satisfied. And tired. But... it's going.

Posted by Kat at 09:43 AM

November 02, 2005

Day 1 Report

Day 1 words: 2142
Total so far: 2142

I didn't quite hit my grand aspiration of 3000 words on November 1, but 2000 was my real goal, anyway. (It's like telling someone habitually late that that party starts at seven so they'll arrive on time at eight. What, you don't play mind games with yourself?) I did complete the prologue, which, in this case, I'm calling the Prelude; my protagonist is a musician and the chapters are all going to have musical terms as names. I like what I have so far, although I've realized that I have way too much dialogue and too little description. My roommate reports the opposite problem, so I suggested that we swap brains for a while, although that might be more trouble than it's worth.

Tonight I have class, so I'm not sure how much writing time I'll get. I will try to get a few hundred words in before class. (I usually arrive on campus at least half an hour early because I allow some time for traffic, subway issues, etc.) I'm determined to write 1667 today, so that I at least keep my current buffer.

Posted by Kat at 02:20 PM

November 01, 2005

October Reads

Well, last month I hoped for a longer list of completed books this month. It is longer: I've gone from three to five. I'm still not really satisfied, though1. I want to be finishing a book every few days. I like myself better when I'm reading a lot. But that just isn't working out recently, for whatever reason. (Busyness, lack of focus, general sadness and ennui... take your pick.) And, again, I have lots of books I've read some of this month but not finished. I suppose I will, once again, pin my hopes on next month. Because, you know, with two jobs and school and NaNoWriMo and holiday knitting, I clearly have tons of time on my hands.

Well. Without further ado, here are the books I finished in October:

(Explanation of the ratings)

Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner
Genre: Drama
Rating: 4.5
Comments: I read this shortly after watching the mini-series2. Both were extremely well done and affecting, but I wish I'd read the plays first so as to avoid the "can only picture characters as those actors" syndrome. Anyway, the subtitle is "A Gay Fantasia on National Themes," which I suppose is as good a six-word description as any, although I'd like to emphasize that this title is not of interest to only gay audiences. It's set in the eighties and deals with interesting issues involving religion, sexuality, AIDS, marriage, family, modern American life, and more, and is both intellectually interesting and emotionally wrenching. Not to be missed.

Rag and Bone by Michael Nava
Rating: 4.5
Genre: Mystery
Comments: This is the seventh and last book in Nava's Henry Rios mystery series, but I read it first because it was the only one at the library. After a heart attack, lawyer/detective Henry makes some changes in his life, including mending his estranged relationship with his sister and beginning a new romantic relationship (which he had not expected to happen again after his partner died of AIDS). He discovers a niece and grandnephew he never knew and soon becomes involved in unraveling the secrets of their life, including defending his niece when she is accused of killing her husband. Henry is extremely appealing in a complicated, tortured sort of way, there are several compelling secondary characters, and the mystery plot itself, while slightly predictable at times, keeps the pages turning. The writing is beautiful and I love Henry's love of poetry. I couldn't put it down; Nava is now the newest addition to my "favorite authors" list.

Until the Real Thing Comes Along by Elizabeth Berg
Genre: Women's fiction
Rating: 2
Read my review here.

The Little Death by Michael Nava
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4
Comments: The first in the Henry Rios series3. Not quite as amazing as Rag and Bone, but very very good. The mystery includes family secrets, legal drama, doomed romance, and all that fun stuff. Henry evolves over the course of the series in a way that many characters do not, so it was interesting to go from the last to the first. Now I'm working my way back in chronological order.

Goldenboy by Michael Nava
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4
Comments: You guessed it! The second in the Henry Rios series. The murder in this one involves troubled teenagers and messed-up Hollywood types. Perhaps more importantly, though, the subplot is one of the best bittersweet romances I've read in quite a while. Again, I highly recommend the whole series.

1 I know! Aren't you shocked?
2 The mini-series includes both parts one and two of the play(s). I'm planning to read part two but just haven't gotten there yet.
3 Yes, I said the library only had the last one, but I was hooked, and my roommate, who recommended these in the first place, wanted to own them anyway, so he's been buying used copies that I've been reading.

Posted by Kat at 02:49 PM

Libby and samurai and bears, oh my!

Hey, who knew? Everyone's favorite chief of staff is also a novelist! (That article is worth a read1 just for the phrase "the long and distinguished annals of the right-wing dirty novel." Really.)

1 But it's not exactly G-rated material. Just to warn you.

Posted by Kat at 01:27 PM

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