24 December 2007


Have you ever had one of those friends with the gifting gene? The one who nails it, every time, every birthday, every holiday. I have one of those friends.

The knitter ornament from Anthropologie.

Yep, so me it's scary.

Unfortunately, no time for much knitting as I'm prepping for those big scary job interviews at that big scary conference that I've been fretting about for oh, the past five years. It's here, and yep, I'm scared.

But... I also know that things will work out for the best. I'm working as hard as I possibly can work, doing all that I'm supposed to be doing and am happy to have gotten this far in the process.

And I gotta say, I'll be sooooo glad when this is all over. I have some glorious days planned with just me, my knitting needles, my sewing machine and good coffee... or more likely, good wine.

17 December 2007

Snowed In

Well, it looks like the weather folks were right. We got the white stuff. A lot of the white stuff.

Yesterday wasn’t bad. In the morning people were out and about, trying to shovel every few inches, attempting to stay ahead of the clouds. By afternoon, the skies had darkened and the winds picked up, making shoveling a fruitless endeavor.

I elected to stay safely and warmly protected with a novel, my laptop and a stack of quilts. Sometimes having to work all day isn’t such a bad thing at all.

I intended to be off to the library today but I elected to postpone for another day. Those old newspapers aren't going anywhere and I certainly have enough reading to do here.

Our blanket of snow served well as a backdrop for my latest finished objects.

Pattern: Le Slouch and a simple seed stitch scarf

Yarn: Mystery yarn - 2 skeins of black and 1 skein of variegated, I think this came from the $1 at A.C. Moore. Whatever it was, it was decent stuff with at least some wool content.

Needles: Addis Sz 8

Notes: I'm happy with the project (aside from the ends that I still need to weave in). I followed the hat pattern and started decreasing at 6", probably should've given it 7 or 7.5" as it's just not really slouchy enough. But for a first hat in the renewed perfect hat quest, I'm pleased and will get much wear out of this.

The scarf was one of those improved kind of things where I decided to finish up the black yarn, then use the skein of variegated on both ends. It made a short scarf, or at least shorter than I usually wear so I may add a bright button if I (a) can find one in my stash and (2) can muster the energy to sew it on.

Yes, I do believe I must go to the library tomorrow. Excessive hot chocolate consumption seems to have dulled my brain. Perhaps I shall look for red buttons to spruce up my new set in honor of my newspaper research, you know, being black, white and red/read all over.

And with that joke, I will pack my bags to definitely head to the library tomorrow. I think some human interaction might be a good thing before I spiral down into knock-knock jokes.

16 December 2007

Tacky Tinsel Trees

It’s a snowbound Sunday here in Buffalo. Luckily for me, this is the first day in what seems like a very long time where I don’t have to be anywhere or do anything aside from reading and writing, those things that I actually like to do so much. It’s a nice way to end a very busy week, working on an essay and contemplating a variety of changes that have taken place.

I kicked off the week with a mock interview on Monday morning. I honestly think I was more terrified of the mock interview than any real interviews which may be coming up in the next few weeks. If I’m interviewing with a room of strangers and it bombs, I can always pass the blame on them, just tell people that they were a bunch of weirdos that I wouldn’t want to work with anyway. Or shoot, I could always just lie and say that I performed brilliantly and they’d be a bunch of fools if they didn’t hire me on the spot. With a room of people you know and respect, well, if you look like an a$$, you can’t really hide it so much. Thankfully, it went well. There were some holes in my preparations but holes that I expected and that’s the point of these exercises really, to identify those holes and let them help you fix them before you face a real job committee. Overall, they were pleased and I was pleased and that little nightmare was behind me.

Personally, I’m just hoping that my mock interview success was in no way connected to my secret weapon… packing tape.

I am not a business-suit wearer. I don’t have to wear a suit on a regular basis. I’d actually look quite odd doing my classes in a suit as it’s simply not de rigueur for most academics to get that gussied up on a daily basis. However, for interviews, we pull out the ultra-conservative suits. Or we go buy them, in a mall full of Canadian bargain hunters that drive you nuts every time they shout “eh” across the dressing room. Anyway, don’t get me started on shopping with our neighbors to the north. I found a few suits at a good price with a decent fit… aside from the few inches that they needed to be lopped off the legs. Yes, I should have found a seamstress prior to wearing them out of the house or even just sucked it up and shortened them myself. But in panic mode you make priorities. I could galavant around town finding someone with scissors or I could prepare for the actual interview. I took my chances, stuck my nose in another book and the night before my interview I whipped out my handy dandy roll of packing tape to hem my pants. The morning of the interview I was then left with only two concerns: (1) hoping the tape didn’t crinkle as I walked, and (2) praying that the tape wouldn’t get wet and come loose as I was cleaning the snow off my car.

All in all, the packing tape solution was quite Macgyver, held up through the interview and even impressed my colleagues in engineering. It worries me somewhat that my fashion choices impress my engineering cohorts but so long as I stay out of pocket protector land, I think I’m safe.

And speaking of engineering, the second big event of the week was leaving my job there. I’ve worked for three years as a writer for the engineering school and have grown close to the people in the Dean’s office. However, the time has come when I need to be able to focus solely on my research if I’m to finish my degree. I don’t really do so well with being the center of attention so thankfully, they let me say my good-byes quietly. I will still be around to check in on the office but it will be quite different than my schedule of being there a few days a week. I will miss everyone and will even miss the work that I did there, but I know it’s a necessary step for completing my degree and moving into my chosen profession.

It hasn’t entirely hit me that my life is changing, partially since so much is changing and everything is up in the air. I could be graduating and moving across the country in six months, or I may still be here doing pretty much the same thing while trying again to find a position. If I do get something, at this point there are still options all across the country so I don’t even know what direction I’d be taking the moving truck out of Buffalo. I could be going to a small school or a really large place, a huge city or a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. The only thing that’s certain is the need to write and research for the next five months so I can easily assuage my anxieties and dampen my distracting daydreams with the pressures of work. Nothing like having 600 pages to read in a day to whip yourself into line.

Amidst all the events of the week I also managed to put up my Christmas trees. No live pine for this gal. It’s tacky tinsel in silver and gold with enough glittery garland to overwhelm a Vegas showgirl. Yep, I’m classy like that. Packing tape and tacky trees, all the best for me.

02 December 2007


Ah, winter descends. Our first heavy snow to hit the city started yesterday and is supposed to continue today. It's nothing record-breaking (thank goodness) and to be fair, Mother Nature gave us a nice reprieve, holding off her stormy ways until it was actually December. I'm personally pretty happy with the weather, although that's because I get to spend the day at home in my jammies writing about Anglo-Chinese relations in the nineteenth-century. I've been hearing via multiple unhappy text messages that there are others out there who must do nasty things like check planes after they've been de-iced and soothe angry, delayed passengers. I don't think they're so pleased with our winter wonderland.

The return of the fluffy white stuff always means you have to change your thinking a bit. Add extra time for brushing off/digging out the car, seriously debate how funny you look wearing long johns under all your clothes and decide warmth is more important than the appearance of your derriere, double check every event to be sure it hasn't been cancelled due to the weather, be sure to have extra clothes and food in the car in case you get stuck somewhere (or in case it takes you 6 hours to drive the usually 15 minute commute when you're so hungry you'd get out and walk if you thought you could get to a granola bar any faster), and always, always, always be sure there are essentials in the house in case you get snowed in. I'm a little rusty on these details so last night at midnight I had to make an emergency trip to the grocery store on the way home from a birthday party. You know, those things you can't live without on a snowy Sunday... espresso and pancake mix. A girl can't be snowed in without her caffeine and sugar. It's a sad, sad state of affairs when I remembered that I was low on espresso but forgot that I am equally low on toilet paper. Priorities, after all.

The return of winter also means the return of my hat quest. Last year I tried this pattern and that, this yarn and that, and ended up with a bubbly not-so-fair-fake-isle hat and the infamous penishead hat. I'm hoping for better returns on my investment this go-around. I'm planning on starting with a beret of some sort, possibly Le Slouch or the Belle Beret, just something to get on and off the needles fairly quickly so I can get it on my head. Then I see Shedir, maybe a felted bucket hat, Calorimetry, and a standard issue black thug beanie. Yeah, you won't hold me to those plans, will you?

In other random notes, I had a strange dream last night that I have to share for the lit types in the crowd. So being the helpful one, I'm counselling this person who is clearly struggling with something deeply emotional and troubling. My sage advice went something like this: "I'm telling you, you have to go to Zora Neale Hurston. Really, I promise she won't let you down. Zora Neale Hurston will help where Amy Tan just can't. Hurston is the way to go." I don't even remember how long it has been since I have read either Tan or Hurston. Um, I would totally get it if I suggested a little George Eliot to cure your ailments, but where'd I get Hurston? It's like I'm some sort of Tylenol ad bashing on Aleve or something.

But remember ladies, as you go about your day, Zora Neale Hurston won't let you down. She'll be there when Amy Tan is just not sufficient.


I kinda missed the Thanksgiving post of beautiful food, wonderful company and a list of things I'm thankful for. The fact that this is my only picture from Turkey Day probably explains why.

So, whether you're hunkered down with pancakes or out enjoying a snow-free day, take two Zora Neale Hurstons and your own laundry basket o' booze and we'll meet back here tomorrow.