December 17, 2012
i’ve always been on the fragile side when it comes to mental stability,
and grad school has only heighten my general state of anxiety.
it’s to be expected, of course. it’s not meant to be easy.
but it does take its toll now and then:
odd weight fluctuations
and the occasional inability to sleep.
take last night for instance;
i haven’t been to bed.
or more accurately,
i haven’t been to sleep.
frankly, when you look at your phone and see 5:45 am,
you might as well head just shower and head into starbucks.
i’ve started my day
without finishing the last.
my goal is to wrap up all my work today,
so that i don’t have to do any work tomorrow.
why is tomorrow so important?
why, it’s my birthday, of course.
the big 2-8.
my midlate twenties.
where has the time gone?
what have i accomplished?
no no, i shan’t go down that road again
yes yes, i’m a bit weird about birthdays.
but it’s one of those idiosyncrasies that makes you love me, right?
so i’ll just distract myself from the inevitable,
by imaging all those things in the world i want.
gifts for steven 2012
those who know me well know i so desire to own a fur. any fur really. maybe not a full length mink, mind you, but an ostentatious collar on an overcoat at the very least. recently, i saw cirilia got this amazing fur collar on her last trip to iceland.
photo stolen without any permission whatsoever from cirilia’s blog.
it’s apparently made from wolf. the sight of it arose in me such an envy as i have not felt in years. i must own a somewhat larger equivalent.
on a more practical note, i’m preparing my comps proposal. the comps is an exam one takes and must pass in order to be allowed to pursue one’s dissertation. it requires reading roughly 150 books and then being tested on them. you are given 5 questions. you must answer 3. your answers can range anywhere from 60 to 120 pages. and you only have a weekend to write them. this is then followed by an oral defense at which your committee becomes a verbal firing squad and you must defend your work and demonstrate you’re actually a badass at all of this academic nonsense.
but the first step is forming the list and getting the books. this will be an expensive endeavor. luckily, a) there’s the library for books i’ll need to read but won’t need to own and b) my uncle just sent me an amazon gift card. it was rather a generous amount for a nephew as old as i. i’ve spent half of it on next semester’s books, all french literature concerned with explicit representations of sex. so. exciting. still, some of it will be left over to help build my personal library.
i don’t know about you, but i grew up in a house where the thermostat was set at whatever the hell we felt like. as a kid, if i wanted to sit around on the couch in my tight-whities in the dead of winter, i just turned that dial and on the heater went. similarly, we keep it as glacial as possible in the summer, just warm enough so that my mother’s bird doesn’t die. now that i must pay my own bills, i’ve become like my miserly grandparents. they lived through the war and the depression. baths at grandma’s house were in an inch of lukewarm water and the thermostat sat at roughly 63°F. i keep mine at an inhuman 60°. and yet still, my bill is creeping up. and it’s not even cold here yet! i suspect mo turns it up when i’m out. when someone asks me what i want for my birthday, why isn’t it appropriate to say, “can you pay my gas bill?”
david of southern cross fibre has recently woven this amazing fucking twill that will apparently become dishtowels for some clearly underserving person. it’s clear to me that i must own them. i simply need to go to australia and steal it. that’s where you come in. you’re in charge of my ticket, ok? and you have to make it snappy because it’s already my birthday over there. australia’s in the future. go ahead. i’ll need an aisle seat though. don’t even bother if you can’t get an aisle seat. (do you have to pick locks upside down down under?)
i’m also going to need a flight to l.a. izznit said she’d bring me a doughnut if ever i’m in l.a. i really want a doughnut so obviously, i need to fly there.
after australia of course.
i’ll settle for business class.
do you think i can pull this off? there’s only one way to know.
i recently found out i won’t actually be getting a christmas break this year. i’m on this pretty important committee and i have a huge pile of documents to get through by the second week of next semester. as the lone grad student on the committee, my voice is barely heard. i need to make sure i’m extra prepared if i’m to have any say or sway. so obviously i need a spectrum bundle from purl soho because i’m obviously going to learn how to make a log cabin quilt over break.
how much does a rolex cost, exactly?
every pair of jeans i own eventually gets a hole in the exact same place in my crotch area, just right of center. the other day i went to macy’s to get a new pair. they had a wicked double sale and i got them for only $11! i was trying on the smaller size, determining whether or not they were too snug because i’m a fatty or because of the enormous anti-theft device in the waist band, when i noticed something in the mirror. i took a step closer and a wave of terror and nausea came over me. i almost fainted. there, in the unforgiving light of a shitty ass macy’s changing room one of my worst fears was confirmed: my hair is starting to thin. now, normally, this isn’t a problem. i keep my hair buzzed almost to my scalp anyway. it’s been like that for a couple of years now which is likely why i never noticed. but i’ve let things slide recently and the hair grew out a little. and that fucking light illuminated some fucking scalp. i considered suicide in that moment, but the only weapon to hand was a single, sad little pin in the changing room and i couldn’t figure out how to best use it. so for day 17, i’ll be needing either some rogaine or a membership at the hair club for men.
while any and all presents (including that porche i once had within my grasp yet somehow slipped through my fingers) would be amazing, for my actual birthday, i desire (and expect to get) very little. i plan on stuffing myself with thai food, getting completely lit, and going to bed early. no cake. no singing. no party. no bar. just food i didn’t pay for, intoxicants, and my tacky-as-fuck childhood bed. but maybe you could leave a comment. that’d be a pretty awesome birthday gift.
October 31, 2012
as gay christmas.
so it feels oh so right
that i should have a happy post.
maybe some life stuff?
and then the rhinebeck post?
ok i’ll keep the life stuff brief.
1 – i gave a guest lecture today. i, apparently, rocked. i presented a scaled-down version of an article i’m working on. prof liked it. two undergrads came to her office hours and told her how much they enjoyed the class.
2 – i rewrote my entire comps proposal this week. committee members find it much improved. i continue on, encouraged.
3 – i have discovered the udon sushi bakery in east lansing. it’s asian fusion in the real sense, pulling from taiwan, korea, and japan. i am obsessed. i plan to eat my way through their entire menu. and the taro bubble tea? divine.
the combination of these three things has turned my frown entirely upside down. maybe the harlot is right about that whole universe balance business she’s always going on about. the thing that’s kept me going is that, while the stress has been nuclear, i can track real results in my progress in the program and improvement in my work. i might actually make it through this thing and become a scholar i want to be. we’ll see.
but now for the official rhinebeck post.
writing a cohesive narrative about rhinebeck is a fools errand.
instead, i’ll give my overall impression
and let the photos guide me.
(but don’t any of you fuckers even think about trying to book it for next year’s rhinebeck. we’ve got dibs. and anyone who tries to snatch it will have to answer to our leader, yarny old kim a.k.a. buttermilf painkcakes)
this is misa‘s epic fucking scarf
in which she has knit four lines of robert frost’s ‘mending fences’
if memory serves.
(so last year there was this moment when i saw him and was sure he saw me, recognized me, then looked away. i realize this is completely paranoid and kinda arrogant since, most likely, he has no fucking idea who i am. still. my insanity requires i now keep my distance. maybe next year i’ll get over my lunacy and ask him to be a part of nips with steVen)
speaking of kinnearing,
that is clara parks.
this is what andrea thinks of the crowd.
this is me with david.
he comes from a land down under. i have a crush on him.
this is andrea and i inducting two new people, dale a.k.a. njstacie‘s gingerlovahhusband & michelle into our rhinebeck tradition of sampling the ghost chili (a.k.a. chili fantasma) pepper sauce.
i don’t know why we do this. it is not pleasant. next year, there will be a new, even hotter chili pepper sauce for us to sample: the scorpion chili.
i’m afraid of next year.
(p.s. after this moment, michelle chugged a large chai to cool the burn and threw it right back up into the cup. sorry to put you on blast, girl, but i refuse forget that memory)
best quote of the weekend:
“ow! my twat. my twat!”
“it’s for art!”
see you next year!
August 31, 2012
when i worked at natural stitches,
an old, sickly woman would come in a knit.
her name was mattie.
mattie was wheelchair bound
blind in (at least) one eye,
and on dialysis 3 times a week.
she would save up her transportation tickets from her senior center
so she could come, hang out with us,
and we could help her with her projects.
she was always happy
and slightly outrageous.
i always had to help fix her ribbing.
now and then, i’d get roped into running to mcdonalds
to buy her a small fry. (with her coupon, of course)
she always made sure her nails were done, her makeup was on,
and always wore her “good wig” when she came to the shop.
sometimes her leg would pop off as she wheeled across the store to her table and we’d have to hand it back to her. sometimes she’d put it back on. other times, she’d simply plop it on the table and keep on stitching.
i recently found out that she passed away;
they blogged about it on the shop blog.
in honor of mattie i am going to reveal a photo.
it is not the most flattering photo;
the outfit i’m wearing is . . .
it was given as a thank you to my friend yvonne.
when we opened, i couldn’t resist modeling it.
for the most part,
the photo has been suppressed
i’ll never forget you.
wherever you are, i’m sure you’ve finally mastered k2p2 ribbing.
p.s. yvonne, if you read this, do post the details surrounding the outfit in the comments!
May 26, 2012
my original goal was to blog every day
while i was in the greater portland area.
i also promise myself i’m going to eat better and exercise.
let’s get real for a moment,
and see if i can tell you about my trip.
hmm . . .
day one was a beach adventure/excursion/extravaganza,
a sunny day of photography, sandy toes, and general irreverence.
and of course what day at the beach is complete
without a dead sea lion in a front loader?(sea corpse has a very distinct scent)
i spent the day with tina and her two lovely daughters
who reminded me that teenagers are really just adults
with fewer miles under their belt.
(is that a mixed metaphor?)
the rest of my days were a blur of
i managed to finish up my spruce forest shawl,
and the rain gave way just long enough for a photoshoot.
i even found a couple models to zhoosh up the shot.
the yarn is marine silk sport in the ‘spruced’ color way.
i’ve given up trying to photograph the true color of this yarn;
the silk content and sea cell make it impossible for an amateur like me.
what i love about this color way is that the dye breaks at some point in the process, leaving patches of blue and yellow in the yarn. this process is apparently unpredictable, and therefore the color way has been discontinued. blue moon will, of course, make it upon request. i highly recommend it, especially in this yarn. just make sure to get it all at once if you want your skeins to be at all similar.
this shawl is beautiful when finished,
but the beauty is matched by it’s fussiness.
i do not care for nupp-knitting,
or the bottom up construction.
it was, however, worth it;
the results speak for themselves.
with one shawl completed,
i decided to dust off my shetland tea shawl.
it was the first lace project i ever cast on
and will soon celebrate its third birthday!
i can’t abide its w.i.p. status any longer.
so i grabbed a cat and got to work.
the cat was really there for moral support.
she’s not good for much else.
but even with the support of a cat
i could barely complete a round a day.
those last few rounds have so. many. stitches!
knitting all those stitches
i became hyper aware of the silence,
the sound of the rain falling on the deck,
heck, i could even hear the humming birds at the bird feeder!
apparently, i must’ve had a crazed look in my eye or something
because tina could tell i was getting a little stir crazy.
so she put me to work in the barn.
i learned a heck of a lot in there,
most of which i can’t tell you.
what i can tell you is
it’s fucking hard work.
i can almost guarantee none of you realize how much work actually goes into the whole process, unless maybe you’ve worked in a factory. i worked about a half shift and i was pooped.
it’s basically a yarny sweatshop in there.
(literally. it’s hot in the barn)
that little bit of work really helped me to appreciate just how special hand painted yarns are. we’re lucky to knit in a time when we have easy access to such beautiful yarns. i would much rather give my money to people who are working their asses off to make something unique and special. i know exactly where my money’s going and, to me, it’s worth the cost. but that’s just me.
we ended my visit with a binge at gino’s.
if you live in or around portland,
you must go to gino’s
the tiramisu alone is worth it.
we chose gino’s because deb accuardi owns it and also works at blue moon.
she’s an amazing cook, knows a heck of a lot about gardening,
and had been cracking my ass up all week.
if you meet her,
ask her about her salamander story.
i almost peed in the car when she told it.
(i want that tiramisu recipe deb. stat!)
i think that just about covers it.
. . .asking myself why i don’t live in portland.
May 18, 2012
first, allow me to clarify my last post:
my dad had some surgery.
it went well.
he’s home now.
it may have been a little mean
casually mentioning i was in a hospital
but wasn’t it a good suspense builder?
currently, i’m headed off to a reclusive week in oregon;
my exact whereabouts are known by a select few.
more on that later as things develop.
but i can’t go off on one trip
before i fill you in on my last one.
one of my dearest friends in the world, caroline,
got married last weekend on the outskirts of chicago.
frankly, weddings and marriage aren’t really my thing,
but she’s one of those friends where not attending was unthinkable.
there are few people in my life that i can say i have been friends with for more than a decade; caroline is one of them.
veronica went as my date,
and i’m really glad i brought her along.
because as soon as i saw caroline in the church,
standing in her wedding gown, ready to walk down that aisle,
i fucking lost it.
it was a quiet, dignified cry,
but i cried in public nevertheless.
it didn’t help that care was crying as well,
but i really can’t explain why, exactly, i cried.
i couldn’t tell you why if my life depended on it.
but it did.
luckily the priest started talking,
and his spiel about god and love
turned my tears to a frown.
it’s odd that,
however uncatholic i’ve become,
i remain catholic nonetheless.
even though i thought most everything the priest said was some strightup bullshit, i was totally pissed at the people in front of me who were chewing gum, irritated by the fact that we don’t kneel anymore apparently, and baffled by the new ‘version’ of the mass.
how can i care about stuff like that
when i find the content of the situation to be . . . unpalatable?
the important thing
is that there was something special about being there to witness an event that was meaningful to one of my best friends.
i feel really lucky to have been there.
plus i looked totally fly.
March 25, 2012
depending on which side of the family tree you look at,
i’m either fifth or sixth generation michigander.
i’m also the first generation
not to grow up in detroit.
my family emigrated from ireland and settled in detroit
and did all those big life things in the motor city:
burial (i discovered our family plot)
all with a particular irish catholic flare.
my grandmother’s grandfather was chief of police.
my grandfather’s grandfather built a house there for a staggering sum.
(though that might be the german side. not as popular in the family lore)
last time we checked, someone’s still living in it.
the same feeling that made me weep when i found my ancestral knock in co. kerry i often feel when i go to detroit.
getting to know detroit
makes me feel closer to my family history.
it may be silly or illogical or whatever,
but it’s something i enjoy doing.
i was lucky enough to make it to john k. king used and rare books.
(sorry for the photo quality. clouds + iphone + no photoshop = reality)
walking around a factory
that purports to have 1,000,000 books. . .
overwhelming just isn’t a big enough word.
being there ignited the hoarder within
and i left with more books that i need.
while i doubt any of my family members went there
it’s still a really cool piece of detroit history.
and now, it’s part of mine.
February 5, 2012
i got a package today.
yes another one.
(i’ve considered changing the blog to ‘bitches get packages’)
but this one didn’t arrive at my doorstep, oh no.
i had to track this bitch down.
stupid post office put that little brown sheet in my mailbox
the one that tells you you have to pick it up, you know?
but it was tucked against the front
so i didn’t see it for 2 days!
so i hauled my ass to ass nowhere lansing
where the post office was holding it hostage.
i handed over the brown paper
and my passport which elicited a
“what in the hell is this?” from the postal worker.
apparently she’d never seen a passport before.
then it took a manager to find my package,
because someone had checked the wrong box or something.
wanna know where it was?
right freakin’ next to the worker bee.
if she had reached 3 feet to her right,
she would have touched it.
now, lest you think me an unfrugal grad student,
this membership is courtesy of an anonymous sugar mama/daddy.
that’s right. someone made a generous donation to the bitches get stitches happiness fund in the form of a rockin’ sock club gift card.
i’m one lucky son of a bitch.
while i actually think that rockin’ sock club is underpriced, especially if you compare it to what you get from other clubs. my guess is tina does it on purpose so more people can afford to be in the club.
she’s cool like that.
(seriously, have you checked out other yarn clubs? crazy pricey!)
still, it’s always been just out of my budget.
don’t get me wrong. i’ve dropped some dough on yarn in my time,
but generally, i’m a layaway guy when it comes to big yarn purchases.
(excluding, of course, fiber festivals or travel. that’s what debt is for)
and because i’m not really a sock knitter,
i’ve never been able to justify sock club.
luckily, i don’t have to!
[insert mental .gif of me doing a salacious victory/booty dance]
ps what should i knit with this?
January 10, 2012
how much i love getting packages?
because i really, really do.
back around my birthday,
when i was in new york turning twenty seven,
a package was sent to my old pittsburgh address.
(this happens when someone moves as often as i do)
it was from blue moon fiber arts.
generally speaking, i know when a package is coming from blue moon
because, generally speaking, i’ve placed an order with them.
not so in this case.
(i think i remember getting a little aroused)
luckily, veronica still lives at the old abode.
i knew it was going to be a while before it was sent on to me,
since, with all the holidays, veronica wasn’t there to forward it.
yesterday, it finally arrived on my stoop. i may have squeed.
(note: can you imagine being me, knowing you have a package, and then having to wait for three whole weeks to get it? brutal)
then i thought of the blog, as i often do.
i thought, this is totally blog worthy; it must be blogged.
(i have so little material these days)
but it was dark out when i got home
and therefore i couldn’t take a good photo.
so i waited.
yes people, i waited until the sun came up so i could properly document the moment and share it with you all.
i believe this shows some growth on my part.
(i need to ask frankie for a refresher on how to shoot true colors)
regardless, these colors are perfect.
you can never go wrong giving me a green,
but this deep purpley blue has this acid yellow on the back
that just. kills me.
the crazy thing is i’ve been planning my rhinebeck sweater
(yes i know rhinebeck is in october, but i will not fail this year)
and i wanted to try knitting some mopsy for it.
it seems like it might be meant to be.
but i kinda don’t want to knit this yarn.
it might go into the precious ‘keep forever’ section of the stash.
we shall see.
the card is unsigned,
but the sender has the handwriting of a serial killer.
that can only mean it came from one person.
edit: i just looked up the description for grawk – raspberries in pond scum drowned in black. loud and just a wee bit obnoxious. attention is what he craves and he will get it. from the primordial ooze, he has risen to wreak a bit of havoc. trickster? definitely! hmmm
December 16, 2011
i’m no buddhist.
by which i mean,
i thoroughly enjoy
and revel in
i desire desire,
in all its many forms:
an unfortunate combination of events meant i would not be able to do anything fun to honor my epic 27th birthday.
(it has special meaning for me)
my longing was all the more poignant because
veronica, my best friend in all the world
and former bitches get stitches model,
would be in new york city,
and had been pleading
with me to come too.
it wasn’t going to happen.
instead, my birthday would entail
a half-bottle of whiskey and blog post
enumerating the many things i want to have,
from extravagant designer leather goods
to a smile from the cute phd student
in the college of ______.
(i need some secrets)
languishing in pre-birthday despair,
i looked at all the $700 flights to nyc,
wishing somehow i would find a grand
tucked in my the crannies of my couch.
then, a miracle. the heavens opened up,
and the expedia.com gods’ light shone down
on poor, wayward graduate student, steven a.,
offering me a round trip flight to nyc for $160.
to any of my peeps in the nyc,
my stay there will be brief.
so let’s coordinate a time
for us to meet up so you
can give me my presents.
happy birthday to me, bitches!
September 5, 2011
a daylight search found mo trapped on our property. he is a little guy after all, and country life can be perilous for a city pup. when i came upon him, he was just lying there calmly, waiting to be rescued. when he saw me, he gave me eyes that said, “ok you’re here now. take me home.” after a few rounds around the house at lightning speed, he is now sleeping happily at my feet.
thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.
not only did it provide extreme comfort when i felt alone,
i have to believe that somehow they brought us back together.