Archive for February, 2009

…and the city

February 16, 2009

Every so often I spend (waste) a few hours watching my old Sex and the City DVDs.  I knit and remind myself of every detail in those shows…which I kind of know by heart and am generally very embarrassed about.

But this isn’t about that.

Watching a few episodes today reminded me about something that I think usually gets lost as background: the city.

I know the show did some great things for tourism in New York City in particular.  In a sea of cop shows, it was one of the few truly positive portrayals of the city on television.  But it did more than make New York accessible to masses of women. It portrayed this fantastic lifestyle of walking to meet your friends at some interesting new restaurant or bar or gallery, having countless interesting new people to meet, and having so many exciting amenities at your fingertips.

Kind of like how I think many people view college.

But then something happens and many of us let those completely desirable things go when we graduate as though it’s to be grouped with other college activities that probably should be left behind…like binge drinking.  And we move to soulless places and live insular lives.  I don’t want that statement to be confused with living in suburban places.  I’ve seen some suburban places (all older suburbs, though) that are pretty nice and very different from the cul-de-sac ridden, completely unwalkable, and demographically homogenous suburbia in which I was raised.

My ultimate point is that I hope Sex and the City does more than make New York City a great place to visit.  The city was a real and significant character in the show.  And it seems clear that this should be the case for all of us.  The places we live should be real and significant characters in our lives.  They should excite us in some way and relate to us so that they are not just meaningless collections of roads we must drive on to get some buildings we must go to.  I currently live in a city and probably will live in one for the rest of my life if I’m lucky, but I don’t think this only need apply to cities–which I understand don’t work for everyone.  The problem is I see the great things about cities being touted as luxuries, as though in order for homes to be affordable, we have to grit our teeth through hours of congestion, zero public spaces and even no sidewalks.

Maybe a buyer’s market is our time to ask for places that engage us.  Maybe cranes halted by a bad economy and kept from creating more far off islands of not-actually-affordable housing are an opportunity to rethink what we’re doing with the land in and around our cities.

While New York was definitely more exciting than my current home of DC, the city and I do have a relationship.  It’s not always good–but it’s engaging and interesting.  It has a personality, whether the city and I are meant to be or not.

Or maybe all of this is just a sad indication that this nerdy lady watches Sex and the City and misses the whole sex thing in favor of the whole city thing…

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Something new

February 15, 2009

I need some new obsessions. I’m a bit cliche with the predictable timing of this need in that it’s almost springtime…but it’s a cliche for a reason.

It may be apparent that I am a list-maker, so I’d like to share my new interests in list form (apologies for the picture-less post):

1. Cooking.

I have been following some blogs where lots of amazing vegan and vegetarian treats are made and recipes shared. Being the negative nancy that I sometimes am, I would actually not read through the beautifully photographed and no doubt well-written posts because I knew I would be very sad that they didn’t apply to me.

All that is going to change.
This lady is putting away the pirate’s booty and making her own delicious treats.

My foray into the science of cooking was last night with vegan mac and cheese.  It was really tasty, using this recipe here.  One observation that even this novice cook took note of: if you follow the recipe exactly it’s like a salt lick.  I read some of the reviews and it seems you can just eliminate the salt (or vegesal) altogether. Next time.

Next on the agenda are Parikha’s Russian Tea Cakes.

2. Music.
I’m running the Monument Ave 10k in Richmond next month and need good running music to keep me motivated until then.  I’ve run a few 10ks before and I don’t actually think this race will be too difficult for me, but I would love to do better than I did in the last 10k I ran…which means I need to stick to my running schedule.  Which means I need to have something to keep me going.  Which has always been music–of the hip hop variety.  Which I used to keep up-to-date on.  And now…I don’t.  The problem with hip hop (and I guess really with any new music) is you can’t just turn on the radio and find great stuff–unless you live in one of those musically blessed cities like Seattle with their unusually badass KEXP.  So I have to go looking for it…I will try to do this by finding good hip hop blogs to follow.

3. Reading.
I have realized that I don’t read.  Like ever. Seriously.  I read some news clips I get in my email and I read some things for work…but other than that nothing.  New authors?  I can guarantee I wouldn’t know any if you asked me. It’s pathetic…

So, in retaliation the less pathetic side of me is joining a small group of fellow urban planners and we will discuss anything about a particular corner of the world–this month is Kazakhstan.  I am to read something about Kazakhstan. Or watch a movie.  Or knit something in a design from there.  Or make cookies from there.  Basically I can wrap all of my hobbies into this activity. This may be more exciting when we pick a country that’s a little less limiting.

What really started this post were two thoughts/concerns about how I choose new activities:
1. I am worried that I have been so thoroughly conditioned by the commercialization of everything, that a new hobby generally makes the cut into a real obsession for me if it requires purchasing pretty new toys.  Running clothes and shoes, yoga mats and props, knitting needles and yarn, and so on.  The new one: baking pans and the countless cooking implements that are so lovely and interestingly functional.  Looks like cooking may be here to stay.  I’m not sure it’s worth trying to de-condition myself.

2. I am obsessive…but then I burn out.  Meaning I do actually have a pretty addictive personality–with everything except the normal addictive stuff like drugs and alcohol.  I actually find myself incapable of drinking alcohol in anything but moderation.  Maybe I’m obsessed with moderation.  Is that possible?  I don’t think that makes sense.

If I do in fact become obsessed with cooking, I hope the running balances it out.

Oh, by the way, if I never post anything every again about any of these new interests…maybe let’s not mention it, yeah?

Baby Boom

February 14, 2009

Is there one going on right now?

I feel like everyone is pregnant.  A few of my coworkers, a few of my friends, a few of all their friends, some folks on the television, some knitters whose blogs I read–EVERYONE.  I even had a dream I was pregnant.  I woke up relieved.

I heard an interesting theory that lots of babies are conceived/born during recessions.  Times is tough, so let’s just stay in…

Just goes to prove that long-term financial planning seems to be beyond the capabilities of many people or maybe they’d realize that dinner and a movie is probably way cheaper than a child.

IRregardless (use of that “word” both amuses me and makes me cringe), I have quite a few baby gifts to make use of my knitting skills for my first really good friend who is pregnant, including Knitty’s Op Art baby blanker.

But first, I made the Curly Purly Soaker for a friend/coworker who is also pregnant.  She’ll happily be using cloth diapers and these wool soakers are made for such a lovely eco-friendly practice.

I intentionally used nontraditional baby colors.  As I believe will be appreciated by the receiving mom-to-be.

This is really cute.  I’m not a huge baby person, but this is CUTE, for a cute little baby butt.

I used Cascade 220 in Italian Plum and Charcoal Grey, which I hope will make for a chic little baby of either sex (she’s waiting to find out).  I used short rows which messed up my stripes…but I don’t think the baby’s life will be ruined.  It has a “pleated” waistband made from strategically placed columns of purled stitches.  Simple detail, but I really love the effect.  The pattern was very clear and simple, and it was a fast one night knit…meaning this will be my baby gift of choice for some time to come.

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day…a day that might exacerbate this baby boom I think is occuring.

Blogtastic

February 13, 2009

I first started knitting about 2 years ago–my best friend gave me some Manos del Uruguay yarn and some lovely size 10 bamboo needles and I made a simple scarf for my boyfriend. I taught myself through the fantastic videos on knittinghelp.com, but it started to become a real passion once I found so many blogs that took my simple scarf-making hobby and made it into art, environmental and political activism, and high fashion.

I think it took about six months of reading some fantastic blogs like Knit Lit, Lekkercraft, Another Shopgirl, Six One Seven, and others before I thought maybe I should start my own.  And there was one thing I noticed with just about all of them…they all got tagged as blogs that inspired someone–which they all deserved, because they definitely inspired me…but I always hoped I’d get tagged.

And I did!!!  Yay.

award

***This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog’s content or design is, in the giver’s opinion is brilliant.

Thank you Lauren, of the best Etsy vintage shop I’ve seen to date: Dear Golden Vintage.  I honestly don’t really want to share it because there are so many things that are beautiful and I don’t want the competition.

So here we go.

The rules: When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to said person so everyone knows he or she is real.

Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have 7 friends. Show the 7 random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with “Honest Weblog.” Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon. List at least ten honest things about yourself. Then, pass it on!

10 random honest things about moi.

1.  I’m strangely proud of a “skill” that my friends used to call my “party trick”: being able to sleep absolutely anywhere under any circumstance.  My favorite example is when I was doing the Annapurna Base Camp trek in the Nepalese Himalayas and my friend and I were staying at a lodge along the way.  She woke me up in a panic, informing me that Maoists were attacking the village on the next hill.  I went over to the porch and saw fire across the hill and thought it looked pretty scary.  And then I went back to sleep.  She had to find comfort from the lodge owner.

2. I love TV.  It’s taken me a while to come to terms with that, but it’s true. I love all TV.  Even the bad reality shows, you ask?  Especially those…

3. I am girly.  This is another thing I’ve been fighting…I mean I love to play sports and get dirty and all that…but I’d just like to wear a dress and some nice tights while doing it.

4. I find it difficult to like someone that has at any point made assumptions about me without bothering to ask me about myself.

5. I require at least 10 hours of sleep a night. Require. Waking up for work is nothing short of hell for me.

6. As an adult, I pretty much never lie.  In high school I pretty much never told the truth.  I think I’m fortunate that it’s not the other way around.

7. Ever since I’ve been socialized people have always told me that I am intimidating. I can see it in people that I meet.  And it makes me sad.  But I feel like if I tried to act any different it would be blatantly phony.

8. When I graduated from high school I won the art department award and the physics department award.  I think this dichotomy has always been a point of pride for me.

9. I wish I was 4 inches taller.  I honestly believe that when my dad found out I was done growing at 5’4, he was disappointed.  He is short and stout, by the way.

10. I remember the first time I cussed.  Let me preface this story with the fact that my brother is five years older than me and taught me bad things.  I was in first grade and I called a boy on the playground an f-ing a-hole. Wowsa, right? Yeah, everyone was a little taken aback as well, but not enough to not tell on me immediately.  I cried all the way to the principal’s office and when he heard the story and saw my red puffy face he literally laughed and barely got out the obligatory “don’t say that again.”  I got in trouble a week later and had to spend 1 week of recess sitting outside of the principal’s office.

Now onto some new award recipients:

Restless Grace — I knew there was some real inspiration here when I saw a post on her own textile painting…and it was beautiful.

Knit Lit — I know Kate’s got to have been tagged before, maybe even more than once, but I really just love her blog.

C is for Candy — Ok, so Candy is my hero.  That is all.  Her site speaks for it’s own bad self.

The Discerning Brute — My friend Josh is an ethical, activist genius.  And when it comes down to it his blog is just a really awesome resource for vegetarians and vegans that still need normal things like men’s dress shoes.

I Knit This — This is a blog where the design and photography are just so lovely that she could type blah blah blah over and over again and I think I’d still check back pretty regularly. Luckily there’s more to it than that in reality.

Nadine’s Blog — Probably also been tagged before, but she just has such thoughtful posts about my favorite physical and mental activity–yoga.  And she’s a knitter!

The Boiling Point — Cartoons, awesome design, lefty politics, smart commentary, and again–a knitter.  Love it.

See you!