Sunday, November 29, 2009

So Much To See...

Okay, as I write this, I have SO much to include. Don't be surprised if this ends up being a rather photo-heavy post. You have been warned...

Please note: As I write this, I m enjoying a bottle (or several) of Schlafly's Saison Ale, a seasonal brew locally made here in St. Louis. It's part of my bounty from the conclusion of the 6th annual Rock N Roll Craft Show...along with Ferdinand. But you'll read more about him in a bit...

As you may (or may not) know, I am recently returned from a week-long adventure to the northern regions of Michigan where I spent what was the BEST Thanksgiving I've ever had in my thirty-three years' worth of Thanksgivings, probably because MY family was no where to be seen. The drive up was uneventful and easily managed. My best friend Kort and her soon-to-be 5-year old son, Logan, live with Sarah and her daughter, Eleanor, in a wonderful old-ish, two story in Grand Rapids. The days were spent accomplishing a bevy of knitting on the Swallowtail Shawl, as well as a mitered-square pillow sham of my own design. I had the pleasure of sleeping in Sarah's bedroom upstairs, a smallish room with an older bed frame which would creak at the slightest movement. The temperature of said house was also a degree or two on the chilled side of life, all of which lended itself to a wonderfully old-fashioned experience. The knitting contributed, too...
Many thanks to my great friends Kiana and Stacy, who co-operatively took exceptional care of my three cats in my absence. They each garnered a dark-chocolate bar for their efforts. Here's the adorable cat schedule they kept...I love the "S" signifying scoopage.

I, of course, made my usual visit(s) to City Knitting, the local knit shop to see and be seen in during a trip to the west side of the State. Unfortunately, they will soon be closing their doors for good, before the end of the year. Given this development, Lorilee has placed some discounts in place to encourage the everything-must-go mentality... and which of us fiber enthusiasts can really resist a discount of any size.As you might hae already guessed, I completely stocked up as though the harshest winter in St. Louis history was about to set in and snow me in for the next three months...which couldn't be farther from the truth, but there you have it. As such, I must, out of necessity, announce that Yarn-Over 2010 will be starting 1 month early, on December 1st, 2009. As you can already see throughout this post, my bounty was exquisite and exceptional, especially the locally dyed fare from Yarn Hollow that I brought home.


Upon my return to St. Louis, I immediately had to report for duty to the Rock N Roll Craft Show on Saturday morning. This event happens every year for the past 6 years and features the work of a bevy of local crafters and artisans: everything from art and graphic prints to jewelery, knitwear and other textiles. I originally met organizer Nora Vandervort at an event at the 3rd Degree Glass Factory. Long story short, I volunteered my time to help the event and the local, handmade movement. The event was as incredible as I knew it would be. Brilliant people from the St. Louis region and elsewhere displaying some of the most original, charming, cute and, frankly, bizarre works you could imagine.

During my time manning one of their registers, I only had to remind myself a couple times why I was there at all. No pay, very little kick-back, long lines of holiday shoppers and lots of people I didn't know. What the hell was I doing again?!? Oh yes, giving back and helping other hand-crafters get their stuff out there. A firm believer in karma and karmic retribution, I knew it would come back to me one day. And it was fun...a special kind of retail fun...but fun all the same.

Although I expected nothing in exchange for my time, some of that karmic energy came back to me earlier than expected, in the form of a 6-pack of Schlafly Saison Ale and Ferdinand. I'm still laughing about him. Ferdinand, as I have named him, was the last of a quintuplet of sock-beavers submitted in the show, by Erika Rogers. I had had my eye on them all weekend and had made an agreement with myself that if there was still one left at the end, it was coming home with me. Alas, at the end of the show, all of the beavers were gone. Sadness...

Nora and Sarah, two of the organizers, pulled me aside to thank me for the three shifts I had worked. Their thank-you to me: the last beaver of the bunch! I was so excited...and so were they, as they jumped up and down chanting, "We stole your beaver, we stole your beaver!" If you don't get the joke, go to bed now.

Ferdinand immediately began surfing for porn on my computer as soon as he was comfortably at home in my apartment...that tramp.

I was also keeping my fingers crossed about a couple Sarah Wyman prints. Alas, only one of them remained at the end of the show but, appropriately enough, it was the one print I really liked. It's entitled "Jasper," named so, I assume, for the kitty in the piece. It now hangs above my bed...and Benson seems to approve.


It's the end of a long week of vacation and personal time and I must admit that I feel recharged and at ease, for the most part. I took some time for myself and gave back to my community. In turn, some art above my bed and Ferdinand, the beaver. Tomorrow, I return to my office, to my Canadian foam customers and a week's worth of e-mails but for tonight, I'm nursing my fourth bottle of Saison Ale and the kitties are curled up in their beds.

And maybe just for tonight, all is well in my world.

(PS - Do you know how long it takes to put together a blog post like this after 5 bottles of Saison Ale? Hrm...me either!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PhotoBooth Fun


PhotoBooth Fun
Originally uploaded by knittaPrince
So last night, while trying to take a simple snapshot of ourselves with a Cubist Literature t-shirt, Sarah and I found the PhotoBooth program on her Mac. Keep in mind, Sarah and the Mac were only recently introduced so there are a lot of things about the Mac that Sarah just isn't in the know about...this was merely one.

We took about a skabillion pictures with it...or maybe just 25 or so but by the end of the experiment, we were ALL laughing so hard. I think I almost gave myself a headache. It was righteous fun for a bunch of thiry-somethings who still haven't lost their juvenile sides.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good morning, Sunday. Michigan weather is pretty close to that of St. Louis, although it's a little more chilly. Not that I've been outside, mind you...I'm still in my PJs...

As you may have already guessed, I didn't drive to Texas but rather to Michigan. After I got here, I reflected that I did indeed make the right choice. The drive up here was as lovely as a 7-hour drive can be but I'm glad it wasn't any longer. The drive to Texas would have been an additional 6 hours...which probably would have involved a hotel expense at some mid-point. Thinking about it just now, that would have been like the drive to Michigan times two.

Anyway, no point in fixating on what isn't.

Almost immediately after I arrived yesterday, we all went out from dinner and drinks...which sounds so sophisticated. Kort, Eva, Sarah, Mulder and I went out to a tapas restaurant called San Chez. It was less than stellar. I was carded...and didn't have my ID. I wasn't flattered, rather pissed off. The waiter had fucked-up hair anyway...hmph! I'm naming names...and his was Brett.

Today brings fresh coffee and massages all around! Kort's friend Janelle is a massage therapist and, even as I write this, Kort is being twisted and pulled and rolled out like dough...and loving every minute. Later today, who knows? City Knitting isn't open 'til Tuesday and I plan to make my usual ransack of the place, especially since it'll be the last time. Not only is Yarn-Over 2010 coming up but the store is also going out of business before the end of the year. The discounts aren't that great (only 10%) but a discount is a discount.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Death of a Distant Friend

I got a phone call from my Mom this morning. Her ears must have been ringing from last night's blog post. I got the call right as I was walking into work.

My Mom had to have her dog, Cupcake, put down yesterday. They had been best buds for the past 12 years. Cupcake was a little Shitzu and had been my Mom's primary friend through a lot of stuff...a couple marriages, a couple moves...and now, she's gone.

Apparently, Cupcake woke my Mom up the night before last, which was very out of character for her. In the morning, she was largely unresponsive and lethargic. After a trip to the vet, it was determined that she seemed to have had a stroke. The decision was made to put her down.

The really heart-breaking part of this phone call was when my Mom went into detail about what happened after the vet, when the brought Cupcake, now deceased, home and placed her in the box that would be her final resting place. My Mom had cross-stitched a new blanket for her for Christmas and this was placed in the box. There were a couple of her favorite toys and her favorite collar. These were also placed in the box.

Besides herself with grief, my Mom barely knows what to do with herself...and I feel a slight pang of guilt about having written my preceding blog post. Although I am slated to drive to Michigan on Friday to spend the Thanksgiving week with Courtny and Eva in Grand Rapids, I'm toying with the idea of driving to Texas instead, to spend the week with my mother.

But that's a 13-hour drive, over 700 miles one way. And plane tickets are $400+...which is out of the question. Could you do a 13-hour drive in one stint? Me either...which then incurs hotel expenses. This is one of the very rare instances when I wish my Mom were closer than she is.

As so often happens when someone or something very close and dear to us passes away, all the rest of us can do is feel sympathetic and ineffective, given there's absolutely nothing anyone can do to make it hurt any less or be less sad.

Send her some kind thoughts, won't you? She could really use them...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Twittering, knittering...

First, as you may or may not know...I now tweet. You can find me at @knittaprince.

I feel I have been remiss in my blogging duties...and I don't have another French flashback until Thanksgiving, so I can't squeak out it so easily. Neither do I, however, have much of an update in my knitting world. So buckle yourself in, this could be a bumpy ride.

I went out to Hot Shots tonight after work with my colleague, Trish. She's really quite wonderful and seems to enjoy my myriad neurosis, which only serves to endear her to me that much more. For those who don't know (for I certainly didn't before tonight), Hot Shots is a sports and billiards bar, large and spacious with waitresses scantily clad in running shorts and referee tops opened in a wide, sighing V-shape to expose their ample and often overflowing breasts. Trish, on the other hand, is really none of these things and I enjoy her company all the more because of that fact.

But we had had one of those days that is truly deserving of a beer and/or cocktail and thus was born the idea, so sublime in its concept and flawless in our execution of it, it can only be a harbinger of more unwinding after-work sessions to come.

On the drive home, as often happens after a couple pints, I began to think. Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, it doesn't really take a couple pints to make me think. I tend to do admirably well all on my own, thank you very much. Anyway, I get to thinking and on this night my thoughts stray towards the first real boyfriend I ever had, Erik. We were even engaged for a spell, believe it or not. Obviously, not everything in this perfect world of our has a fairytale ending, even when it involves two faeries, but there you have it. Just one of the gross injustices you may have found on your path through life. In any case, I often think back to this relationship as it so closely mirrors so many of my own mother's failed attempts at love.

(Even now I hesitate to write more as anything pertaining to my Mom is usually uber-off-limits.)

My Mom, bless her heart (and yes, I really do mean that) is a fine, upstanding woman who has been dealt a fairly mediocre hand in this life. Whether socialized to believe marriage to be the epitome of a woman's existence or perhaps she merely came to believe it to be true through her own unique experiences, it is a simple fact that this seems to be the driving force in her life, the only one, true thing to which she aspires and, unfortunately, one of many things which has remained painfully aloof and out of reach for her. I love my mother to death, though without the presence of a strong male figure, she tends to flounder or, rather, become sedentary, merely going through the motions of her day-to-day existence but, seems it to me, without much substance, drive or reward. As might well imagine, a true relationship poses somewhat of a trap for her, for where she to discover herself in one, she would almost certainly and immediately relinquish and surrender happily and willingly any and all autonomy to the Man in question. This has occurred more times than I care to count...okay, five times to be precise. There would have been a sixth but I fancy myself as the voice of reason which caused her to seriously reconsider.

In any case, as she has done so many times in the past, so I did with Erik...and, to increasingly lesser degrees, with others I have have the pleasure of spending some of my time with in this life. The difference between my mother and myself is that I seem to have the ability to recognize and self-critique my own behavior, identify and then correct, more or less. She, sadly, does not.

I recently sent out a Tweet
in which I plainly state that one should never regret a relationship or view it as any kind of mistake. Every relationship we have teaches us something valuable and important, not only about other people but more importantly about ourselves, what we look for and need and what we don't. You should really only regret a relationship if you have learned nothing at all from the experience, in which case be absolutely sure to blame only yourself, not the other person. If you have learned nothing, then you haven't been paying attention...now, have you? Mm-hmm...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

French Flashback - 5 years ago today...


Monday November 8th 2004

It’s another day in paradise here in France. Last night, Hans left to return to Germany, leaving Ashleigh in a pretty numb state of mind. I have no idea how those kids are going to do this long-distance relationship thing. She had planned on going to Germany for the holidays, but apparently, she’s flat broke. Yeah, and that’s not at all an exaggeration. She told me last night that she’s actually overdrawn in her account back in the States and she quite literally has no money left, even though she has another 5 weeks left to go. She’ll be getting some money from CIDEF as a reimbursement for her rent, since she moved out of the family’s house and on her own and that reimbursement should cover her rent until she leaves. She still needs to buy her train ticket to Paris and, luckily, the plane ticket is already bought. But, esseintially that leaves her with no money for anything else…no drinks at Cargo, no cups of coffee to study by, no movies on a rainy day, no cigarettes.


Ultimately, it’s none of my concern aside from the fact that she’s a friend, but I also know that it will inevitable place me in the position of having to say no to her. No, I can’t buy you a drink, or give you a cigarette…because she can’t pay me back, period. And I don’t know exactly how much I’m going to need, therefore I can honestly say that I don’t have it. I don’t have enough to money to buy drinks for two, or enough cigarettes for two. Please don’t ask because I don’t want to have to say no.


I think I’m going to see a movie with Max tomorrow night, although I think I said it best when I told Pierre-Edouard this evening that je n’ai plus de sentiments fortes pour lui. It’s just not going to develop into anything more than a friendship. My strong happy feelings for him died, like they always seem to do. It’s sad really and I’ll be the first to admit that I should really start therapy on this issue. It only seems to exacerbate and I can’t see how it would heal itself unless I consciously work on it.


On a similar note, I don’t know why I ever slept with Pierre-Edouard, aside from the fact that he was the first nice guy who expressed interest in me, therefore…yippee, fuck me! But, really…in my opinion, he’s a bit mal-placed. He has a certain bourgeoisie air, but he lives the life of a poor college student, making him appear rather haughty and, well, mal-placed. He’s kind of a dork, actually. But, en meme temps, he’s a good friend, one who really enjoys spending time with me and I with him. Besides, imagine if I didn’t have any French friends here. Then it really would be a sad state of affairs when second semester rolls around and everyone I know is gone.


My classes are going okay at this point, although I still have my doubts about how everything will unfold in the exams. I’m still coasting along in all the littérature/poétique/stylistique classes, wondering where it’s all going and trusting Anne-Sophie when she says that everything will be alright. How, I’m not sure. My translation courses are okay, although the passages I’m translating into French are truly difficult and I wonder how they could ever expect me to be able to do them…then I remember that no one expects me to be able to do them because I’m not a French student. Simply put, I’ll be amazed if I get the minimum grades I need to pass this semester. There’s always the second semester, which I could also fail or also pass. Hard to tell at this point.


I found out today that in order for me to apply for the CAF, Pascal and Valerie have to fill out a certain portion of my application, for which they want me to pay them an additional 20€. However, according to both Max and Pierre-Edouard, they can’t require me to pay them in order to fill out an administrative form. So, what do I do? Do I make a stink, in my limited French and attempt to find out why they want me to pay them to do something they’re apparently supposed to do for free? Or do I pay the 20€, knowing that I’ll be getting a lot more than that from the CAF and let it slide?


The same is true about the heat in the house…I’m truly cold most of the time, especially when I’m sleeping. I’ve asked them to increase the heat twice, with very little results. In my mind, I’m paying them 280€ per month to have a heated room, which it is, although not to my comfort. Where is the line between living like the French do and sacrificing too much in order to do it?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An Open Letter

An open letter to my neighbors at 2119-A Maury:

Welcome to the neighborhood, neighbors! It's been a couple months, I think, since you moved into that long vacant apartment across the divide between our buildings and I've been meaning to welcome you properly. Actually, I tried to do that a few weeks ago while working in one of my front gardens. I stood up and smiled and said, "Good afternoon" but you only looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language. And although I do speak a foreign language, I'm fairly certain I wasn't speaking it at that moment. No matter, though...welcome!

I must say, you are a lively bunch, aren't you? For the longest time, I thought it was just one person who had moved into that quaint one-bedroom apartment so similar to my own. Imagine my surprise when I saw your girlfriend/wife/sister cooking naked the other day through my kitchen window into your own. I was cooking spaghetti...she was frying chicken.

Last night, I thought I was only imagining things when I started to hear the yelling coming from your apartment and was surprised to learn, when the pots and pans started to be thrown from your kitchen into your living room, that it wasn't at all a dream, only a truly disturbed reality. It was hard to know how many people were really involved as it seemed a whole pack seemed to pace quickly from one end of the apartment to the other like a herd of cats. Although I didn't need to be told that there were really people in your apartment, one of your guests seemed to think it necessary to remind us all that he was "still here, nigga" over and over and over again. One thing was clear, due to the ever elevating volume of those talking...someone was about to get the "ass whooped on they own proptee." Oh, this can't be good...

I also wanted to thank you for the extremely sporty display of masculine virility last night as you and your bare-chested brother were sparring in the backyard. With the two of you knocking the fuck out of each other, it was very much like an African Spartacus! Two lithe and fit young men, locked in a death-grip dance with each other, occassionally punctuated by the satisfying wet "shunk" sound as a fist came into perfect contact with a face. It was truly inspirational, especially when additional articles of clothing were shed!

Also, I wanted to come clean and admit that yes, I was the one who called the police on you last night. Although I would normally consider 11pm on a weeknight to be fairly early for a "party," I was exceptionally tired from a long day at work that had started at 5am. Plus, the sound of a screen door being kicked in can be rather unsettling, don't you agree? I mean, I understand that someone pissed you off by referring to you as a "fuckin' faggot" and that your brother was acting like a "ho ass nigga" who couldn't "bring it real," but was it really necessary to punctuate your point by wretching over the edge of the balcony into the bushes? I must say, it made for quite the lawn ornament when I left for work this morning.

In short, please take note: we have a very nice neighborhood. We have an exceptionally nice block. It's quiet, peaceful and populated by very nice people, most of whom cause no problems for anyone else and, from time to time, can even be seen engaging in charming conversations on the sidewalks while walking their dogs. As the newest addition to our neghborhood, it's important that you know that last night display of "crazy" was entirely unacceptable. I may have been the one to call the cops last night, but I assure you that I am not the only person on our street who has no reservations about doing so when things get out of hand.

Sincerely,

Dean

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yarn-Over 2010

So, this was what I was originally going to write about yesterday before the blog post morphed into the criticality event that it was. I'm talking about Yarn-Over 2010, which is the name I have opted to use for the hypothetical yet entirely possible trek that I may embark upon wherein I will buy no yarn for an entire year. Get it? Yarn...Over...no yarn all year? Maybe it's just me...

Anyway, it's an idea that I've been hacky-sacking around in my head for a few months now. The impetus for such an insane idea comes from a few places. It started originally as a budget-control device. In many areas of my life, I tend to be an all-or-nothing kind of guy. Pair that with borderline obsessive-addictive personality and you've got the perfect recipe for the ultimate stash builder...which is exactly what I have done. As many of my fellow knitters (though certainly not all), I have acquired more yarn than I could possibly use in my own lifetime. If you think I'm kidding or exaggerating, then allow me to reassure that I am doing neither.

It's a beautiful stash, too. You just have no idea unless you've seen it lately. My total yarn reserve has grown to such a size that I have long been trading out the lower quality acrylics, fluffy faux mohairs and mal-chosen bouclés from my early knitting adventures, giving them away to anyone who would have them and filling in the newly liberated space with the trappings from two visits to the Loopy Ewe, some recent knit night acquisitions and my sizeable booty (giggle) from the Strange Folk Festival, where I made out like a bandit.

The other motivation for Yarn-Over 2010 is as a stash busting exercise, something every knitter has claimed to have done or is in the process of doing or will be doing soon...with very mixed results. Some are very good at it...some knitter's claim to not even have a stash to bust at all! I, however, have only thought of busting said satash and have never been very good at it. I'm not a very fast knitter, although I am diligent and persistent. Unfortunately, that means that I do tend to acquire way more yarn than my output requires.

My yarn income and my financial output have long been at odds and it is time to put myself to the test. Thus was born Yarn-Over 2010. It's still a work in progress but here's that I've come up with thus far:1) Beginning January 1st, 2010, I will no longer be permitted to purchase yarn for a period of 12 months. To be clear, "purchase" is meant to mean any exchange of any monetary unit via cash, credit or check in exchange for any amount of spun fiber in any form including but not limited to skeins and hanks.
2) This does include sock yarn, long believed to not count towards one's stash consideration as it is, well, sock yarn. I've never understood where that distinction came from and it seems rather random and arbitrary. Given that I'm also working on the Sock Yarn Blanket, I've been very happy with this distinction but the truth can no longer be denied...sock yarn does count as stash and will continue to throughout Yarn-Over 2010.

3) Yarn may still be acquired through other means if such means present themselves. This means that I can still accept sock yarn bits and leftovers for the blanket and can take free yarn that people may be giving away, as they sometimes do. I can also acquire new yarn by trading yarn already found in my stash as this does not increase the total amount of yarn, only equalizes it from one form to another.

And that does it! Don't buy any new yarn for all of 2010...simple as that. The hard part has nothing to do with running out of yarn or even worrying that I might, as I know that I currently own enough to keep me going for much longer than that. The challenge lies in simply doing nothing. All I have to do is not buy yarn.

Keep in mind, Yarn-Over 2010 doesn't start until January 1st, which means that any purchases made between now than then don't count. Obviously, it's a bit defeatist if I go out and spend hundreds of dollars in preparation as, in a sense, the preparation has already been done. Besides, I've already put my only credit card into a block of ice in my freezer.

So...anyone crazy enough to join me? If not you, then maybe your other knitting friends and internet buddies? Tell them there's this crazy dude who isn't going to buy yarn for a whole year in effort to reign in his budget and bust his stash. Maybe we could start a Ravelry group...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Criticality Event

I recently wrote an e-mail to a long lost friend with whom I've recently been put back in touch. We were taking turns writing back and forth, offering up missives of digestible length in an effort to bring each other up to speed on the events of our respective lives over the course of the past fifteen years, the approximate length of time hat we've been lost to one another. It's no easy task, as you might well imagine but neither is it particularly difficult. It has caused me to inadvertently put into perspective the "big events" of the past decade and a half. You know and event qualifies as "big" when, as you write your narrative morsel, the event effortlessly sneaks into the prose. Those events that do not, are not.

So, what qualifies as "big" in my corner of the world? The end of my relationship with Erik, to whom I was briefly engaged to marry and the subsequent loss of touch with my own reality; meeting and forging an unbreakable attachment to my best friend Kort; my interstate relocation from Michigan to St. Louis; my doomed-from-the-start relationship to Joshua which led me down the road; my time at Vintage Vinyl; the winding and self-revelatory path of Adam.

And, of course, my sojourn to France.

It was while writing about this latter experience that I realized, after having written the description, a truth that I have long felt but, heretofore, had not been capable of finding the words to express it. So long 'til now, it merely felt like some small, delicate form of insanity teasing at my mind. What it really is...I still am not sure.

What I'm referring to occured upon my return to the States after a 13-month long stay in the land of wine and bread and berets and wine and cold winters and tiny cars and song and dance and...you guessed it, wine. I came back, strongly against my will and only out of a sense of necessity. When I came back, I retook possession of my old car, moved back into my old apartment, resumed my old job and my classes at my old school. I slipped back into a life that, for me, had, in a sense, been put on hold in my absence. Unfortunately, for everyone else, life continued, shit happened, leaves fell, a baby was born, snow melted and flowers bloomed.

Old car, old apartment, old job, old school...and when I slipped back in, like a car on the exressway merging back onto traffic from the roadside rest stop, I was a man one-minute forever out of synch with my own surroundings. Sometimes in advance and sometimes, more often than not, behind...but never quite in tune. In all honesty, this feeling absolutely persists to this day. I have never, ever been the same since my return. Europe changed me, international travel changed me, exposure to everything else that exists in this world and the innumerable possibilties that exist...it has all changed me. Maybe we could call it irreversible jetlag.

I think my return from France was my personal criticality event. I've never come back from it. I think I was unhinged just ever so slightly because of it. I've never been quite as focused, I've never been quite in synch, I've always been slightly outside the event horizon of my own life ever since. I wish I could say that I wouldn't ever change it...but that wouldn't be quite what I mean.

I guess what I mean to say is sometimes, I just wish I had never come back.