Wednesday, January 21, 2009

how knitting a scarf is like doing a phd

I was thinking today about this blue-gray scarf I'm knitting, and also this PhD that I'm working on. They seem to have a lot in common sometimes. In both cases, you're pretty excited to get started. You begin by making a lot of mistakes, cleaning up the messes, frogging the errors, and trying again till you have a little more success. Eventually you get the hang of it, and it's just a matter of persistence before you make real progress. The more you work on it, the faster your stitches get, and the better you become at spotting patterns and stitch combinations. You start to think you might be able to design your own scarf someday. Inevitably though, you get tired of the whole journey, a marathon of yarn, with weary fingers and sore eyeballs, but the scarf is still not long enough to keep your neck warm! Winter is totally freezing your socks off, and you just want to finish the darn thing so you can move onto another project, like some mittens or something. So you sigh and pick up those bamboo needles again, reminding yourself that you really do enjoy the sheer act of knitting, most of the time anyway (when things are going smoothly), and that your scarf is going to be absolutely gorgeous when it's finished!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

over again in mexico

I have a new song obsession. This time it started randomly with my tame New Year's Eve when I watched the post-midnight performances on Dick Clark's show, which included Fall Out Boy performing "I Don't Care". They were the only band that night who actually performed legitimate music, rather than some flashy, dance-obscured, lip-synched tune as did those other schmoes. Anyway, a week later I heard the song again and spiraled into an obsessive cone of that single song - I've watched the music video on YouTube about 20 times since Friday. Okay, so I don't always watch the video, as it's rather annoying, and the lyrics are too self-centered and mean-spirited, but sometimes lyrics don't matter that much to me. My obsession overlooks lyrics when needed. I also, as is typical, have developed a music-crush on the lead singer, Patrick Stump, as I did with my previous song by Regina Spektor. This is analogous to a nerd-crush, in which one is attracted to someone's super-brain, but with music this time.

Anyways... snowstorm in New England this weekend. I went up to New Hampshire to visit my James and neglected to realize that it might snow in Boston with my little car parked on Broadway, a snow-emergency street. Walking home from the T, I noticed the dearth of cars on Broadway and wanted to slap myself for not parking elsewhere. Dang it! At least they just towed it a few blocks away this time, so I could walk to the towing lot to retrieve it. A couple of overweight trashy-looking people in ill-fitting sweatpants sat in the office, collecting wads of cash for the virtue of simply owning an empty lot to which cars could be towed. They didn't even have to leave the crappy office, complete with half-eaten PBJ sandwich and a pack of Marlboros, in order to collect my hard-earned dollars. I wouldn't be surprised if these towing companies orchestrated this snow storm for Saturday night, to trap people at their most unwilling or unable to move their cars. They have Mother Nature on speed dial.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

sunshine therapy

Well I guess I'm back in Cambridge. The weather in California was so perfect that this chilly slush weather is like a slap in the face. We took a walk at Surf Beach last Tuesday with James's dad and sister Connie and two dogs. It was so wonderfully warm that I took off my sweater to feel the sunshine on my bare arms. How could that be December? Unfortunately I also caught a cold while in California (go figure), and I'm now fighting off the remains of it here in Cambridge. I'm at the stage where I'm not really sick enough to not do anything useful, but my nostrils are getting all dry and flaky from all the tissue usage. Bwahh!

Anyway, James and I really did have a great break. We spent the first week in San Diego with my family, doing some last-minute holiday shopping and cooking lots of goodies for xmas. We caught up with some old Berkeley friends, who are always as awesome as I remember, and ate a bunch of Mexican food. We took my parents' dogs, Chuckie and Buffy, for a long walk in the crazy Christmas-Card Lane neighborhood, and enjoyed the sunshine coming through the corner windows in the house. My relatives came down from LA on Christmas day, and we had a tasty late lunch ending with a delicious chocolate tart made by Ayesha. (Yum.) Then Dad insisted that we all go over to the house of this Sri Lankan friend of theirs, who was having a big celebration at their similarly big house. Of course, we managed to arrive right as they were saying a prayer before their dinner, and we noticed this as we walked to the front door and saw about 60 people through the window, all holding hands and bowing heads... so we awkwardly stood outside the front door in silence for like 15 min, pretending we weren't there! Especially since most of us had never met any of those people! Our entrance was still the epitomy of awkward, but sometimes I expect nothing less from my parents. ;)

Anyway, James and I took an Amtrak train up to Lompoc the next morning - actually it took the entire day to get there. By that time I probably needed a break from my lovely family, and he was really itching to spend time with his. We crashed with his brother Jason and his wife Jeanne, and spent most days hanging around at various people's houses, cruising around town in the giant tank of a wood-paneled station wagon, eating tasty oatmeal prepared by James's dad, laughing at Wally dog. My cold started right when we arrived there, which was super lame, in addition to the fact that I seem to be allergic to most dogs and cats these days. Lame. But we had a great time, and it was really good to see everyone!

Our journey back to Cambridge was not too fun, starting with the drive to Santa Barbara airport, where I started to feel carsick, a feeling that seemed to linger with me for the rest of the day. We took a really small plane to our layover in Denver, and there was so much turbulence before landing that I was seriously not happy. And here I vow never to book a flight on such a small plane ever again! Hopefully I remember this vow next time I'm booking flights!

Well, back to work tomorrow. I really needed that break.