Monthly Archives: February 2008

Only in dreams…

I pose a philosophical question. I came across one of those usual conundrums of life, one of those age-old questions that will never have a good enough answer during one of my periodic moments of venting my frustrations with my boyfriend.

I’m 25 years old, about to finish graduate school, in a loving healthy long-distance relationship, good relationship with family, my best friends are so fantastic I sometimes wonder if they are real.

I’m not unhappy with my life by any means, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish my life were different. There are aspects of my personality that I would like to improve, but sometimes, it seems like personality is an element that you cannot control, and cannot manipulate. Some people can walk into a room and grab everyone’s attention, other people blend into the wallpaper…which am I? I am a full-blown workaholic, but at heart, I am steadfastly lazy. How do some people end up a perfectionists, and other’s not? The study of personality fascinates me to no end, which is mainly why I read so much. Its my own way to learn about different people, in different situations and trying to put myself in their shoes reading their thoughts and feeling their emotions. But this has a downside, because whenever I read a really good book, or watch a really good movie, I’m left with a feeling of sadness because I witnessed someone else’s life, someone else’s story while these passing moments of my life were left unfilled with stories of my own to share. These people have drive, ambition, courage to take the necessary steps to ensure that something worthwhile is going on in their lives. Why live vicariously through someone else’s life when my own is ready and waiting to be taken out into the world, ready to explore, to experience? Moments like these always make me want major changes in my life, to my personality, my actions, my routines, but nothing ever really changes.

My main point is this:
I hate feeling like I always “want” to do this or that, to “want” to be more of something, less of something. Why do I want? Why can’t I just be happy being who I am, where I am and with what I have?

But, isn’t that “want” that drives people? If I didn’t want change, wouldn’t my life become inert and I would never develop and improve? If we never settle, never accept what we are, then when will it end? Why should we settle when we know something better waits for us out there?

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Cabled sweater

Yesterday was a very good day. I finished another sweater last night. I’m so happy to be done with this sweater. I bought the yarn back in early February and have had to take apart the sleeves 3 times because they just came out wrong, or used up too much yarn not leaving enough to finish the project. But its over and I’m happy. =) Its my own pattern, I don’t have a name for it though.

I knit this with 3 skeins of Cascade 220 Heathers in Colorway 9426 (Regency). I knit it in the round top down using a generic raglan cardigan pattern. The front panel is five 2st cables, and the back is two 6st cables, and each sleeve has a 6st cable running all the way down. It fits really snug, even though it looks pretty bulk on the manequin. The sleeves ride up a bit, but I don’t care to buy a whole new ball of yarn, or redo the sleeves for the a 5th time to fix it.

The Front

The Front

The Back

sweater-back.jpg

I found Supernatural season 2 dvd on sale for $22.99 at Target (I couldn’t find it under $35.oo anywhere online). That’s a full $23 off the normal price!

I watched ‘Death at a Funeral’ with my best friend and sister last night. It was one of the more interesting films I’ve watched. Its a british comedy about all this chaos that goes on during a funeral. It stars the ever popular and comedic Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly) as a soft spoken man who accidently takes acid thinking its valium, and a dwarf male that tries to blackmail the son of the deceased by claiming he had an affair with the dad, and a large number of imbeciles trying to conceal all of this from the rest of the guests at the funeral. Its british humor…so that take to mean whatever it means. Its smart and funny, but not slapping your knee, laughing so hard you cry funny.

I also rented 3:10 to Yuma, which I intend on watching sometime this weekend. I’ve heard good things about it, and I like westerns.

Knitting

This post is about knitting, which takes up a fair amount of what little free time I have and is pretty much my main source of competition with reading. If only I could learn how to do both at the same time, I would be set for life.

So I’ve been knitting for about 4 years, I started when I was 20. I dabbled in crocheting a little bit, but my heart is with knitting. I tend to make clothes rather than scarves because I find scarves too boring, and I never remember to grab one when I’m running out of the house early in the morning. Sweaters are fun to make, because I can play around with patterns, size it exactly and pick out the exact colors that I want. I used to knit with two needles, now I knit pretty much only on circular needles and everything I knit, I knit in the round. Sleeves I have issues with. Keeping track of my patterns I have issues with. But eventually I’ll be able to translate my work into a series of abbreviations and notations that only make sense to knitters.

In the meantime, here are my some of my finished projects:

I don’t have pictures of the projects I’m working on now, but I’ll post the sweaters/jackets/cardigans I’ve made in the past 3 years.

Simply Marilyn from Interweave Knits.

I knit this with Plymouth Encore Chunky in red. I used about 5 skeins, and size 10 needles. It took about 4 days to make, it knit up very very quickly.

Ticuna from Berrocco. The pattern is for a vest, but I made a sweater out of it.

I knit this with Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Blueberry, although the color is more green than blue. This took a couple of weeks because I had school work getting in the way. This was knit in the round on size 8 circs. I used about…6 balls of Wool of the Andes.

Standard Cable Sweatervest.

This sweatervest is made with Plymouth Encore in their beige color. I used about 3 skeins on size 8 circs. This didn’t take very long to make at all, and it was a lot of fun. I wear it all the time.

“>Cameo Easy Aran Cable Unisex Pullover from Crystal Palace Yarn

I also used Plymouth Encore for this sweater. It was my yarn of choice for an entire summer. I used 4 or 5 skeins, size 8 circs, but I knit it in peices. The sleeves need to be redone, and overall, the sweater is pretty boxy. I love the yarn though. I might take this apart and make something else out of it (like a blanket…)

I’ll post more when I take more pictures. In the meantime, I am working on a sweater with 3 Cascade 220 Heather’s, and I was at the Stitches West knitting Convention in Santa Clara on Sunday, so I have lots and lots of pretty yarn to use for projects from that trip.

Jose Saramago

I first read Blindness a few years ago and I was struck by the fluidity of the prose as well as by the subject matter. In Blindness, the entire population of a city goes blind, a type of blindness where individuals only see white. The story is told by a women who somehow manages to not lose her eyesight throughout the entire ordeal. As the residents go blind, they are slowly quarentined off in an old abandoned hospital and are pretty much left to fend for themselves as the police and other sources of authority disappear. In moments of intense human weakness such as this, the author portrays how easy it is to be manipulative, to hurt innocents and the level of greed necessary to gain power over others. The narrator witnesses everything, but pretends to be blind in order to stay with her husband.

The dialog in this book is complex to keep up with, since the Saramago does not distinguish between characters, nor does he use quotation marks. You can tell who is saying what based on the character persona’s and for the most part its one-liner’s going back and forth. But this is something that needs full concentration when reading.

I’m currently carrying around The Double by Saramago in my bag, and am finding time to read little bits and pieces of it every now and then. I’m not even 20 pages into the book, and already the plot, the characters and the conflict has been arranged. A depressed history teacher with no life watches a movie on the encouragement of a colleage. In this movie, he sees a man that looks exactly like him, and he thinks that this man, is him.

Its an interesting concept, and I’m curious to see how it gets figured out, who this double is, and how the two men relate to each other. His writing style is still the same in terms of dialog, but at least by now I’m able to keep up with the conversation.

Favorites

I know I’m not the only person that has a set of books that you keep around because you love, adore and want to read and reread for the rest of your life. Some books are wonderful, but like fads, their appeal wans after time. Some books just hit so close to home that no matter what happens, that book will always be a part of your life.

I read much more as a minor than I did once I got to college and lost a good chunk of my free time. Most of my favorite books are from my childhood, but I was an advanced reader. I read Interview with the Vampire when I was 11 because my parents wouldn’t let me watch the movie. I couldn’t get into the rest of Anne Rice’s books. The rest of the books seemed like mockaries of the Interview with the Vampire, so I after Queen of the Damned I stopped reading the rest of the books in the series.

My favorite Children’s book:

Most people would expect me to say Harry Potter, but alas, this topic goes to a children’s book of my childhood. The Princess and the Goblin. I read this book when I was in 4th grade, and it was such a wonderful little fairy tale, written so sarcastically by George MacDonald originally published in 1872. I may have read it at least 5 times between the ages of 7-10. This book was pretty influential in my life, as most of the books I went on to read had a fair amount of sarcasm and adult humor to it. I didn’t watch Sesame Street growing up. I did watch a few cartoons, but mostly I was raised by talk shows and soap operas (All My Children), and YA books.

Favorite Love Story:

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffengger. This book is just amazing. The main character is a librarian in Chicago with a genetic disease that allows him to time travel, although not voluntarily. Every time he travels, he shows up somewhere naked and is constantly struggling to survive. To survive against natural elements, against society, even against himself. Then only things that keep him stationary are his love for Claire, a girl he’s known since her childhood when he would go back in time, and running. I could gush about this book forever. I read it at a time when my boyfriend and I had just started a long distance relationship, and I could relate to the characters. Seeing your loved one in little spurts of time, not sure when you would see them again, and trying to make the best and most of each visit. I’m very nervous about the movie version of this book. I can only hope it does justice to the book.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Almost anything by Neil Gaiman, and George R.R. Martin’s Saga of Fire and Ice series. Masters in their own rights, able to create detailed worlds that rival Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I can’t pick out specific books to talk about with Neil Gaiman, because each thing he has written and published is so different from the rest of his work. He has his foot in nearly every field of creativity except for music. My favorites include American Gods and Neverwhere (Neverwhere was the first Gaiman book I read).  Stardust I am not particularly fond of, but Anansi Boys is hilarious.

William Saroyan.

A very popular Armenian-American author that is close to my heart because popular Armenian anything is so hard to find outside of Glendale, CA. His book The Human Comedy is very much like Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat, but deals with rural life in Fresno, CA. It tells the story of two brothers in Fresno and their lives. That sentence sounds so bland. But its a story about family and optimism and loyalty.

Currently Reading

So, I finally settled on a book to read. I had found The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues. by Susan Griffin, on a “Free Books” desk in the Humanities Department. Ever since seeing Moulin Rouge and reading Memoirs of a Geisha, this entire world seems very interesting and unique to me. The whole history of prostitution is enlightening about society and how it has changed over the years. During the classical period in Greece, prostitutes were given more respect and value by men. Although it seems that women that are outgoing, charming and put themselves out there, are given more respect than the overly moral women that are prudish. 

As much as I like the content, the author’s writing style is really annoying with long run-on sentences, paragraphs that either lead nowhere or just repeat what was said 2 pages earlier. The main focus seems to be on courtesans in France in real life (Madame Du Barry) or in various operas, plays and literature by French authors. What I do appreciate is that the author so far, has managed to stay indifferent about the topic. There is no bias as to whether this profession is moral or not, but just gives a history as to why its a part of society, how it came to be and how it is viewed throughout history.

The Hoax

the-hoax.jpgI watched the movie the The Hoax the other night. I finally got around to renting the dvd. I had forgotten it was based on a true story until the end when they started giving little summaries of what happened to each of the main characters.

Here’s a quick review since this movie came out a while ago. Its the story of how Clifford Irving and his accomplish, Dick Suskind managed to con the world into thinking they had exclusive rights to write the autobiography of Howard Hughes. The movie was very clever, given the true story. How one man is able to charm, and lie his way for over 4 months, and even manage to set off the initial snowball that would escalate to the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Richard Gere was great in this role, I liked seeing him in as a more humble and vulnerable character, he usually plays the cocky, overly arrogant character. There was great chemistry between all the supporting characters too.

Its a look into the pyschosis and desperation of one man trying to publish a book. I guess his book was rejected 1 time too many, and something just snapped in him. He created this whole little fantasy world with this book, even trying to become Howard Hughes himself.

Given the eccentricities of Howard Hughes and how he had basically become a recluse from society, it was fun to see how Clifford using those characteristics to promote his lie all the more. The special features on the dvd had small segments of interviews between Mike Wallace and Clifford on 60’s minutes. I would love to see the full interview. I think there were two actually, one while the book was being written, and one after the truth came out and Clifford had served his time in jail. I would love to see both, and see how Clifford was able to fool everyone with nothing but lies and a strong imagination.

He eventually went on to write the book The Hoax, which details the whole event, and was the basis for the movie. I’m interested in reading the book now. I’ll have to see if my library has it.

I’d give the movie an A. It was well paced, good acting, good costumes and the plot well…nothing is stranger is nonfiction, nothing is more bizarre and makes you think more than nonfiction.

Reading wise… I’ve developed a new strategy where each night I’m going to read the first chapter from a different book of mine until I find one that I want to continue reading past the first chapter. Its a long process, but I’ll manage. I’m just stalling until April, when I’ll be done with graduate school, and can just focus on reading without feeling guilty about not doing homework instead.

Ted Kooser + Pocket Poem

Well, yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and I shared it with my two best friends over some mediocre beer and equally mediocre food at a local brewery in town.

My boyfriend of 5 years lives almost 500 miles away, but we never really celebrated Valentine’s Day before he moved away, so it didn’t feel that strage to not be with the one that I love, as everyone else touts Valentine’s Day to be all about.
What I did find romantic, and purely coincidental was poet laureate Ted Kooser reading a few selected poems of his on NPR yesterday afternoon. When my BF and I first started dating, we spent 1 spring break away from each other, and I made him write me a letter, and I wrote him one too. In that letter to me, he inlcuded a poem by Ted Kooser, and this same poem was read on air and discussed for a little bit by Ted Kooser. It made my day that much more romantic, just thinking back to 5 years ago when I first recieved that poem in the mail, creased and stuffed in an envelope with a letter of awkward conversation since we had only been dating for a few months, and were still trying to figure out how we really felt for each other.

If you are interested, you can hear the NPR All Things Considered interview with Ted Kooser and hear him read a large selection of his poems, including Pocket Poem.
Ted Kooser on NPR

Pocket Poem by Ted Kooser Continue reading

Ode to the Book

 

When I close a book
I open life.
I hear
faltering cries
among harbours.
Copper ignots
slide down sand-pits
to Tocopilla.
Night time.
Among the islands
our ocean
throbs with fish,
touches the feet, the thighs,
the chalk ribs
of my country.
The whole of night
clings to its shores, by dawn
it wakes up singing
as if it had excited a guitar.
The ocean’s surge is calling.
The wind
calls me
and Rodriguez calls,
and Jose Antonio–
I got a telegram
from the “Mine” Union
and the one I love
(whose name I won’t let out)
expects me in Bucalemu.
No book has been able
to wrap me in paper,
to fill me up
with typography,
with heavenly imprints
or was ever able
to bind my eyes,
I come out of books to people orchards
with the hoarse family of my song,
to work the burning metals
or to eat smoked beef
by mountain firesides.
I love adventurous
books,
books of forest or snow,
depth or sky
but hate
the spider book
in which thought
has laid poisonous wires
to trap the juvenile
and circling fly.
Book, let me go.
I won’t go clothed
in volumes,
I don’t come out
of collected works,
my poems
have not eaten poems–
they devour
exciting happenings,
feed on rough weather,
and dig their food
out of earth and men.
I’m on my way
with dust in my shoes
free of mythology:
send books back to their shelves,
I’m going down into the streets.
I learned about life
from life itself,
love I learned in a single kiss
and could teach no one anything
except that I have lived
with something in common among men,
when fighting with them,
when saying all their say in my song.


Pablo Neruda

Music + Reading = Shameless Plug

What I’ve come to notice with many of my friends is that when there is a deeply rooted love of books, then there is a same amount of passion for music.

I love creativity in all forms (except for modern art…Jackson Pollock just goes over my head). Music is a major source of inspiration and ideas. I’m one of those people that when I say I listen to all kinds of music, it is all encompassing. I’ll give anything a try, and I think the general public should too.

So, this post is nothing more than a shameless plug for two of my friends/co-workers that are trying to get their creativity out there to the public through good music.

The Whiskey Avengers
The Mumlers

Both bands are amazing, funky and do not fall into your usual categories of indie/local bands. Both groups are ensemble groups with 5 or more band members, everyone playing more than 1 instrument with great lyrics and just overall great chemistry.