2005/01/27

"She's leaving home"

Sorry to be a pain, but I've moved.

To make the life of my Secret Pal a little easier, I'll move my answers to the quiz and a bit of knitting stuff over there.

2005/01/26

"Don't ask me no questions/ And I won't tell you no lies"

Today was a pretty typical day, as far as not getting things done that ought to be done. I don't know how I so consistently manage this. When will enough procrastination be enough?

Tonight was Brianna's fantastic seminar, and we met at Kate's house again. I made dinner for Grahm and I beforehand. Guy-Bray lectured on Edward II, and we discussed things a bit. We also ate, drank, discussed various nicknames, wrote hilarious poetry for Kate's creative writing class and generally had a good time. Next week we're back out on campus, since the lecturer isn't someone we know very well.

After things broke up, I stayed with Brianna to help Kate clean up (after sending Graham back to campus, as I did not want to end up with him back at my place - a girl needs a break from mind-blowing orgasms every once in a while). I had a good chat with the girls - Kate bemoaned her unrequited love, and Brianna gave me a run down of the vitals regarding a certain someone. It was fun, and informative. It's been a while since I've had such decent girl talk. My lips are, however, sealed on the subject. So no asking, 'cause I'm not telling.

2005/01/25

"May I call you/ may I call you/ may I call you my own?/ ... May it always/ may it always/ may it always be"

Today started out as quite an ordinary day - Milton was lame, medieval studies was lame (student presentations from people who don't present well? Thanks but no thanks). I did buy a pair of pants by Propaganda at Plenty, which was fun and nice, since they were on sale and lately I'm more interested in pants, after a long time of being a skirt-wearing girl. Disappointment met me when I got home, though, as it again appeared that my damn dvds hadn't arrived. Turns out that the mailman hadn't actually arrived yet, but I was out on the doorstep twenty seconds after I heard his feet on the steps and there they were, all neatly boxed. No fun air-filled packing bags, but oh well. Can't have everything.

The arrival of the movies meant that my plans for the afternoon were thoroughly derailed. I'd meant to clean, possibly go to the laundromat and work on my thesis. Instead I watched Great Expectations, and thought deeply about it. No, I'm serious - I just couldn't turn my head off during this. The thing that is interesting me the most is the way the characters are portrayed in the movie versus in the book. The film is definitely more plot-driven than the novel, which relies a lot on character. I find their decision to make Miss Havisham a dance-obsessed recluse particularly interesting.

Then I put on Sleepy Hollow, and did a few dishes during the first half of this, but gave up on it to read A Tale of Two Cities. Of course I read this in bed, and fell asleep after about fifty pages, and didn't wake up until Graham telephoned me around seven.

Things were ordinary enough when he first arrived - I finished the dishes and made a batch of peanut butter fudge to take to Kate's tomorrow, and he showed me a couple of Yeah Yeah Yeahs videos (one directed by Tunde Adebimpe, and Spike Jonze's banned one) - but somehow the evening just turned into something else entirely, and it was really really intense. Complete with an insane revelation on my part, which I don't quite know what to do with. So now I'm all wakeful and don't know what to do with myself.

So I'm going to fill out my Secret Pal quiz.

1. Are you a yarn snob? Definitely yes – I tend to only purchase and use only natural fibres. The occasional ball of synthetic will find its way into my hands, but generally only when I need to be a skinflint or when the work is a bit of a joke. My thinking here is that if I’m going to spend a lot of time and effort making something, I want it to be out of yarn that I’m going to love for a long time, and enjoy wearing and using.
2. Do you spin? Crochet? No and no. I’d like to spin, some day, but for various reasons it’s low on the list of priorities. I’ve tried crochet and just don’t like it as much as knitting.
3. Do you have any allergies? No. But I absolutely hate raisins, to the point that whenever I eat one I wish I could just swell up and die to alleviate the terrible torture of consuming dessicated grapes. Fermented grapes, on the other hand…
4. How long have you been knitting? Avidly for the past four months or so; sporadically for about the past six years.
5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? No.
6. What's your favorite scent? Clearwater by H2O+, and generally most of their shower gels. The Gap had a great scent a few years ago called Grass… I’m not fond of really flowery, girly smells, and lean more towards fruity or fresh scents.
7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Oh god yes. Don’t even get me started.
8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? I’ve tried my hand a jewelery making a few times, and quite liked it.
9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? Yes, I can play MP3s – I have, after all, 1957 on my computer. My tastes are quite varied, but lately I’ve been increasingly interested in Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy, the Palace Brothers – whatever you’re supposed to call the guy who sings “May It Always Be”). Old favourites include Talking Heads, Dave Matthews Band and Jeff Buckley. I also love TV on the Radio beyond all reason.
10. What's your favorite color? Simply in terms of colour, I quite like green. But when it comes to colours that I wear or have a lot of, I don’t own very much green. Instead, I wear a lot of black, pink, grey, khaki – fairly neutral, tame colours. I have a strong preference for purple as a colour for home décor: my towels, couch, a chair and record player stand are all purple.
11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I’m unmarried (and opposed to the institution of marriage, but that’s a whole other story) but am dating an incredible guy named Graham, whom I love whole heartedly. I live alone (no roommates [thank heavens] and away from my parents). I don’t have any pets, but do have a few house plants, which are about as close to pets as I want.
12. What are your life dreams? If things go perfectly, I’ll do my masters at the U of A in English literature (specializing in children’s literature), and do my PhD somewhere fabulous like Oxford thanks to a Commonwealth Scholarship (they didn’t give me one this year, but goddamnit, look out for next year!). Then I’d get a job as a professor at some well-funded, prestigious university, where I would get tenure and work for many years, write many learned books and be loved by my students. Eventually I’d retire to Salt Spring Island, and raise various animals such as sheep and goats, for the purpose of spinning yarn for all the fabulous knit things I’d like to make. And if you want me to get really silly about this question, what would really be ideal is if Graham and I somehow, in all this, ended up together. I’d like that. A lot.
13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? I haven’t really knit enough to have decided preferences. I have used Fleece Artist yarns and Debbie Bliss SoHo with pleasure and success, and tend to use yarns that require 5.5mm needles.
14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? Anything synthetic, but especially fun fur and eyelash yarns. *shudder*
15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s? See here for a good complete answer to this.
16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Definitely armwarmers, oddly enough. I have three pairs already, and am thinking of making a fourth. I never work from a pattern for them, but always do custom fits.
17. What are you knitting right now? A Goldilocks shawl for Graham’s mother and a wall-hanging for Allen. I also have a bag waiting to be fulled, and a couple of yarn ends to sew in on a pair of mittens.
18. What do you think about ponchos? I’ve seen a few patterns that I like (and many that I absolutely hate), but can’t really see myself ever wearing one. It’s just not an article of clothing that fits in with my style.
19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? It depends on the project. I dislike working a flat project on round needles, as my yarn always seems to get tangled, but quite frequently will work in the round if the piece requires it.
20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? Doesn’t matter – my needle collection includes plastic, birch wood and aluminum. I haven’t really developed a preference yet.
21. Are you a sock knitter? I’d like to be.
22. How did you learn to knit? Mostly I just taught myself from a few old books, with a little bit of help from my mom.
23. How old is your oldest UFO? Not very old at all. As a student, my knitting budget is rather limited, so I just can’t afford to start new projects while others are unfinished. I’ve been working on the shawl since January 11th, or thereabouts.
24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird? Don’t really have one – although having been recently reminded of Jem by my friend Brianna, I think there’s going to have to be some kind of Jem revival in my life. It’s truly outrageous.
25. What is your favorite holiday? I don’t really have one. I’m kind of anti-Valentines Day (“Valentines day is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel miserable” – Joel in Eternal Sunshine) but other than that – no real preference.
26. Is there anything that you collect? I move a little too often to collect things like nicknacks – it’s just more stuff to cart around from apartment to apartment. The only thing I can justify collecting is books; books are always welcome.

I guess I should try to sleep now...

2005/01/23

"There ain't no one else around/ So let's break it down/ ... Let me wear you out"

Well, I would say that my poppy seed muffin making mission at Graham's place was a resounding success.

Also, I sent out an email to a dozen very cool people - pardon me, very rad people - inviting them to Salt Spring for Easter weekend. Chris S. has already said that I can count him in, which is a delightful surprise. I didn't think he'd accept, as much as I hoped he would. Wouldn't it be amazing if everybody did? I'm so excited already!

"Only the good die young"

I skipped Milton Friday morning. I'm a terrible person, I know. But I did go to medieval studies, so I wasn't totally bad. Lunch in the English lounge with the usual suspects was fun. I had noodle soup with beef tendon and wontons; the beef tendon was rather unappetizing in appearance, but very tasty.

Pamela's seminar was, as usual, good. Lots of lively discussion. My question to her about "The Vampire of Shallot" by Janeen web (whether or not it was a joke, and its reception in the academic community) was considered to be "good" and was answered in full (the answer: sort of - it's funny, but oft quoted, although the journal in which it appeared is only "quasi-academic"). My mini-presentation on The Sword in the Stone went well - as I knew it would. It's getting easier and easier all the time to get up and talk to people. I had a few notes, but hardly needed them, and if I'd had more time, could have kept talking off the cuff. No word from Pamela on a mark, but I'm totally unconcerned in that respect.

In the evening, Graham and I went out to see The Merchant of Venice. It didn't totally suck, and is not without problems, but was generally worth seeing (if you're a pair of Honours English kids, that is - I can't really see this appealing to a very wide audience). I think my biggest complaint is all of the prostitutes with their breasts hanging out (a lot of tits in this movie!). The motive seems to have been to display the hipocrisy of the Christian Venetians, but was used too frequently - the worst offence being the two bare-breasted women in the background of Shylock's big "Do I not bleed?" soliloquy. It really distracted from the significance and power of the speech. There were also times when the film could have been sped up a bit - certain things were dragged out too long. Also, the portrayal of the Prince of Morocco was, um, inappropriate. I know the suitors are supposed to be funny, but in this day and age I don't think that a black character should be played for laughs in this way. I think the worst decision made was to set up Antonio and Bassiano as lovers - it didn't really add anything to the film, and distracted from the importance of Bassiano wooing Portia. And speaking of Portia (and, in general, the female actors in the movie), she wasn't well acted - there was a lot of male talent, but it wasn't matched with female talent.

Saturday I worked, and it was such a slow day that Anne decided to not open the store today. It was the slowest day ever. Opening the store mid-renovations made absolutely no sense.

At this point, I would normally mention that when Graham stopped by my place before heading over to Allen's, we had a very long and satisfying conversation about Barthes, but as Nick Melling kindly informed me later in the evening at Allen's that all he looks for in my blog is references to conversations about Barthes, I shall not mention it at all, and simply talk about Allen's housewarming party.

It was a really good time, and I'm very glad that Allen's back in town for my last semester at UBC. His place is over along Commercial, and has a lot of character. I am knitting him a wall hanging, but it isn't done yet. Graham made him a very clever and attractive poster, which was promptly put up on the wall.

And as Nick was complaining to both Graham and I that he doesn't get enough press in our journals, I thought I'd make sure to make extra special mention of him. I was surprised, honestly, to find out that he even reads me. Apparently not often, and then for only references to Barthes and in order to procrastinate, but I suppose that's something. Sometimes I wonder if I have any audience at all.

Anyways, Nick is a very funny guy - particularly when he is stoned or drunk. He's also quite a slick fellow, as he managed to get himself into Allen's shower-room (part of the character of the place is that his shower is literally a little room, separate from the bathroom) with a girl named Virginia; someone promptly turned the lights off on them, and they didn't emerge for a while - but as it was only a short while, I'm guessing Nick's not that slick. Nick also had the honour of having a limmerick composed for him. I can only remember the first two lines:

There once was a man named Nick Melling
Who had an unfortunate swelling...

I must ask Allen for the rest of it.

The other interest of the evening, besides the wonderful and incredible presence of Nick, was watching the interaction between two of my fellow Honours students. Graham had mentioned to me the possibility of vibes between them, but as I had not seem them together much before, and then only in the English lounge, I couldn't judge. But considering the number of friendly little touches, and the way he was plying her with alcohol, and the fact that when we left after two, she was still there... I can't quite see the two of them entering into a grand love affair, but it's quite likely something will happen, if it hasn't already. Good luck to the both of them.

Unfortunately, the evening did not end as well as it had begun, thanks to Translink. Graham and I were going to take the bus home, but the bus that was supposed to come didn't, and we ended up cabbing it. Fortunately it wasn't as horrendously priced as I worried it might be, but it's still annoying to be forced into it. Next time I end up at Allen's, I'm going to wear shoes that I can walk home in - or at least to Granville, where the busses run more frequently.

Today, since I didn't have to work I wasted the whole day. I had meant, of course, to clean and work on my thesis, but I had a mini-vacation instead. Slept until noon, didn't get out of my pjs until 4, read the rest of the Globe, read knitting blogs, read A Tale of Two Cities. Tonight I'm going over to Graham's to make poppy seed muffins. And no, Nick, that's not a new euphemism.

2005/01/21

"...hide these dreams away..."

Knitting Wish List

1. Socks - I'd like to make some for my mom, as she was commenting over Christmas that she has only one pair left of hand-knit socks made by my granny (my father's mother), and it would be cool to keep up (or, rather, re-start, as my granny has not knit socks in a few years, what with being dead and all) the tradition. However, I have never made socks, and don't want to plan my first ever pair as a gift. That would just curse them. I have all the needles necessary, but they're on Salt Spring, so socks probably won't happen until after my next trip home.

2. Cables - I don't know on what, just cables in general. Probably not on a sweater, since cabled sweaters tend to look a little cheesy to me. Maybe a headband/ ear warmer thing.

3. Sweaters - and lots of 'em, especially if I'm going to be living in E-town next winter. I've already promised myself that the day I get accepted - if I'm accepted - I'm going to head right out and buy myself yarn for a sweater. I'm assuming the first one might take a while, and I'd want it done for winter. Possible styles include Cheesylove (to be worn with a heavy dose of irony, of course) and Candy (I really like Knitty, in case you haven't noticed). I also like Bad Penny, Leftovers (even though I don't have any leftover yarn) and Tempting, but these styles aren't exactly the ultra-warm things I'm looking for. Although one could add long sleeves to Bad Penny.

4. Pink Coif - I'll probably use my nasty recycled yarn for this. It's cute.

5. Maryella - beads and yarn? Please yes.

I'm just killing time right now, as I am bored with the endless garter stitch of the shawl for Graham's mom (and my fucking dvds haven't arrived yet, curse you Canada Post). It's nice to have a project that I can work on in class, but I am craving a bit of a challenge. My parents haven't mentioned it, but I really really really hope they've ordered the yarn for Hush Hush. My dad keeps asking me if I need money, and I don't, but it's really hard to not spend this money on yarn. I'm keeping the spring break trip and medications in mind to prevent extravagance.

Ugh. I think I'm going to go take a nap.

2005/01/20

"The [girl] with a thorn in [her] side"

When it comes to knitting, I don't usually give up completely on things - my unliked Moebius scarf was, for instance, promptly frogged and turned into a lovely fulled bag - but I have completely had it with this recycling yarn business and this stupid motherfucking magenta yarn. I have four skeins drying, another four soaking and another four waiting to be washed, plus about a dozen balls of unwashed yarn and a bag of bits too short to be worth washing or balling, plus the cuffs which I was too impatient to frog. In other words, I have a whole wack of yarn in annoyingly small lengths and the only thing I've accomplished is making myself really really mad. The twelve skeins of washed I will use - on what I'm not sure - and the rest I'm going to hang on to in case I don't have enough washed to make something. I'll probably whip up a hat and call it quits. Maybe a set of arm warmers (since, you know, three pairs aren't enough). And hopefully a few months down the road, next time I move, I'll have the sense to throw the rest of the shit out.

The whole day feels like such a waste, probably because I spent so much of it dealing with that totally dumb-assed recycling project. I did work on my thesis - I even have a system of colour-coded cue cards to keep things in order - but not enough work. I picked up a copy of A Tale of Two Cities, and emailed discussion questions to Pamela. I still have not read Areopagitica. My dvds from Amazon have not yet arrived, and the stupid crappy Canada Post website only says "Shipping details electronically submitted" on the 17th, and nothing since. Graham telephoned earlier, and I stupidly claimed that I wanted an evening alone. I shouldn't be so cranky - wasn't I just this morning claiming to be happy? - but I am. So what's in order is a big mug of hot chocolate and an easy knitting project (I'm thinking I'll finish the brown and white bag), followed by a stint with A Tale of Two Cities, and then bed.

"The sun is shining in the sky/ There ain't a cloud in sight"

There are two things I am supposed to do today, but a little procrastination is in order first.

It's been a really good week - I'm very happy these days - and this is my excuse for not writing.

My brother Andrew visited me for a couple of days last week on his way from Salt Spring back home. The first afternoon he was here, we went for a walk around Chinatown and later went out for dinner with Graham at DV8, followed by a screening of the film (ha ha) A Very Long Engagement. I liked the movie, but it certainly was different from what the previews lead me to expect. There were many many more battle scenes and much more gruesome violence; I thought it was going to be more of a sentimental love story, and while that element was definitely there, guys mutilating themselves and getting blown up forms more lasting imagery.

The next night, Friday, Andrew and I had dinner at Burgoo, picked up dessert at True Confections and had dessert at home while watching Oh Brother Where Art Thou. I'd expected that we'd eat in at True Confections, but they've opened up a dessert bar next to the resaurant, and while the design looks very slick, it is neither comfortable-looking nor appealing in any way. Oh Brother was good - quite funny. I think, though, that putting "Based on Homer's Odyssey" on the screen at the beginning of the film was a little unnecessary.

So it was kind of a low key visit with Andrew, but he's not really the go-out-and-get-wasted-at-Shine type of guy. I think he was very glad to get off Salt Spring, as not only had he been there for a while, but the last week they spent house-bound owing to snow. My parents are nice, and generally pretty cool as far as parents go, but it is entirely possible to get sick of them.

Saturday night I stayed in and rented Love Me If You Dare. This movie was very bizarre, but not in a good way. It was bizarre in a kind of inexplicable, that-makes-no-sense way. They encased themselves in concrete at the end of the movie and I just can't figure out why. This is not romantic.

On Sunday night there was a pot-luck at Brianna's house, to which I brought peanut butter fudge. I had a really good time. It was just a really great evening. As I explained to Brianna in the kitchen at one point, I find that this year going to university is finally what I'd always imagined it would be like. I know amazing and brilliant people; my classes are interesting (okay, some of my classes are interesting) and challenging; the stressful lows serve to highlight good times.

Tuesday night Brianna's seminar was held at Kate's house. Sirluck lectured, which was very interesting, and there was some good discussion. There was also red wine, and snacks. It was the sort of night that all classes should be like - really thought-provoking, interesting, fun and involving alcohol. Next week, we're at Kate's again, and Guy-Bray will be lecturing (poor girl will probably be dreaming all night of getting him upstairs, never mind his inclinations). This will be even better.

Last night, Graham and I went over to North Van to have dinner with his dad. Graham had a dream last week in which the two of us walked over the Lion's Gate Bridge to the north shore, and he took this as a sign that I should (finally) meet his father. His dad was much shorter than I imagined him to be, and he had earrings - a little stud in each ear. This was very surprising. The wispy red hair was also surprising. Another surprising thing was how easy it was to tell that he and Graham are related; I expected there to be almost no resemblance, and although there is very little at first glance, there are things - such as their earlobes - that indicate their relationship. I generally liked him - judging, of course, from one evening's acquaintance, and ignoring anything that Graham may have told me about the (their) past. We had Chinese food, which was more Chinese-Canadian but still very good (I am now a big fan of ginger beef).

Since we missed the seabus on our way back to Vancouver, we had dessert at a cafe with very disappointing service. Good cheesecake, but not really worth the wait. It was better than hanging around the seabus terminal. He came home with me afterwards, and we spent some time doing cultural studies (it being, after all, a Wednesday).

In terms of knitting, I have been a busy girl. I am knitting during class this term, prompting both Cavell and Sirluck to liken me to Madame Defarge of A Tale of Two Cities (which I absolutely have to read now). I'm working mostly on the shawl for Graham's mother, having finished the mittens except for weaving in the ends on one of them and giving them a wash.

I've also started recycling a sweater from the Sally Ann, and have decided that I hate recycling yarn. Granted, the sweater - a gigantic 100% wool thing in magenta - was very cheap, but the process is sooooo time consuming. I spent hours at it yesterday, and still have more to pull apart and haven't even begun to wash it. Part of the problem is that when cutting the seams - despite my incredible care - I knicked the yarn, and have several medium length and short bits rather than a few long skeins. The seams were sewn with the same magenta wool as the thing was knit with, and telling the two apart was well-nigh impossible. I think that rather than cutting the seams as a few websites I read suggested, next time I'd use a sewing ripper to un-sew the seam. This might take longer, but would prevent cutting the yarn.

That is, if there is a next time. I'm not really impressed with recycling yarn. It saves money, but is just so time consuming and frustrating. Coming across something while you're knitting that gives you trouble can be fun, because you have to figure it out and have the joy of triumph when you finally get it. But frogging something is a distructive process, and while you'll get usuable yarn at the end, I'm just not sure it's worth it. Will I even be able to stand to look at this yarn after I've got it all ready? I did buy a second sweater, but have a feeling that it will be fulled rather than recycled.

The plan for today is to work on my thesis, finish frogging and washing the magenta sweater and procure a copy of A Tale of Two Cities. Off to work, then...

2005/01/11

"We dress like students/ We dress like housewives/ Don't even know our real names"

Yesterday after school I did absolutely nothing that I was supposed to do. What I should have done is finished cleaning, gone to the laundromat and attacked the long list of reading I have to do.

What I actually did was stop by Urban Yarns on the way home and pick up two Fleece Artist kits: one shawl kit to make for Graham's mother and a mitten kit for me. I also swung by work and bought a cushion (it looks really good with my couch), and had an interesting talk with Stephanie. They're advertising to fill Chelsea's position and at the same time advertising for someone who can take Jessica's shifts in the summer, even though they know that I want those shifts! Also, I will have to keep working Saturdays for at least another month. The Saturdays aren't such a big deal, but the fact that Stephanie apparently doesn't want me to have those shifts is. I figured, what with getting a raise before Christmas, that even if I sometimes dislike the job, things were going well. As I understand it, her thinking is that she is trying to make the position as attractive as possible to potential hirees, but still! I've been there six months and should get a little preference! Sadly, this casts doubt on the possibility of staying in Vancouver (and "shacking up" with Graham). I just didn't know how to respond to Stephanie, so I just smiled and said okay while I seethed.

When I got home, I straight away dug into my new knitting kits, and encountered some disappointment. The instructions for doing the increases on the shawl made no sense, and I have substituted yarn-overs instead. It wasn't a big deal to figure this out, but if you're going to include a pattern - no matter how basic - it should be do-able. The yarn for the shawl is nice stuff, though. The colours are muted blues, oranges, reds and purples.

The mitten kit was also disappointing. When I opened it up, there were three skeins of yarn: one of mohair, and two of wool. So I think 'one skein of wool per mitt and use mohair as needed' (the mittens are knit with a double strand of mohair and wool) - which makes sense, except that the two skeins of wool were two different colours! One skein has a lot of blue in it, and the other one does not and looks much paler as a result. My solution is to use the paler ball for the cuffs of the mittens, plus a few rounds at the fingertips, and use the darker ball for the palms and thumbs of the mittens. It's annoying to have to do this; it really makes no sense at all to include two different colours like this. Or I may do more of a striped pattern, if I dislike the current plan after one mitten.

So while I really like Fleece Artist yarns, their kits are problematic and I don't think I'll buy any ever again. I had been thinking of getting one to knit something for my mom's birthday, but have scrapped that plan.

After playing with my new yarns for a while in the afternoon - and feeling very much like a hardcore knitter, as I now have four projects on the go - I crawled into bed with Oscar and Lucinda and promptly fell asleep and had a very long nap. After I woke up and had dinner, Graham came over. We hung around for a while and then watched Election, which was alright for what it was.

And now I'm procrastinating, because I'm not really in the mood to clean, and as Andrew arrives tomorrow, it is a pressing duty.

Also, our snowy backyard on Salt Spring.