Friday, May 30, 2014

it's not so bad

knitting relaxes me. i can get into a groove and let my mind wander or listen to music (there's a taylor swift/miley cyrus playlist on youtube that has become some of my top knitting music and i have no idea why) or watch tv or whatever else i wanna do. my hands know what to do on their own. if i start out tense and angry, i will finish calm and relaxed and the owner of a new scarf or hat. it's awesome.

crocheting has always been the opposite for me. the minute i pick up a crochet needle i feel myself start to tense up. i get snappy and angry as i start my chain. five minutes into a project and a string of curses is falling from my lips. my fingers are constantly stumbling. i never find a groove. and it seems like i am in a perpetual state of  "ugh should i pull out this whole row or should i live with the seven hundred mistakes i managed to make in five stitches?" it's bad. because of this, i tend to avoid crocheting.

the other day, though, i saw a cupcake scarf and fell in love. i knew there was no way to knit it and so i heaved a big sigh and grabbed my crochet needles. i promptly decided that cupcakes were maybe a bit too difficult for my first crochet project in over a year, though, and since i have been obsessed with cookies lately and i was literally eating a chocolate chip cookie as i looked up crochet cupcake patterns, i decided to make a chocolate chip cookie scarf instead. added bonus: i already knew how to crochet a circle.

i'm not going to lie, the first couple circles came out a bit wonky. but cookies are not perfect so whatever, i thought. and then i somehow ended up with a circle that was smaller than the first two i made despite doing it exactly the same way and i decided that it would be unrealistic for every cookie to be the same size. basically, i decided not to take the project very seriously. it helped. and though i never did reach the point where my hands could work unsupervised, i managed to fall into a sort of rhythm. the repeating one-two-one-two one-one-two-one-one-two started to have that same calming effect as watching scenery blur by on a long car ride. and i finished a crocheting project without wanting to kill someone. yay me.

(immediately afterwards, though, i picked up my knitting needles. i am starting a rainbow scarf. well, the first rainbow scarf. i made the stripes too wide so i had to change my design, but it should still come out nice.)

anyway, here's the scarf:

*Thank You - Dido

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

i have written you down, now you will live forever

i am so grateful for the things in my life that allow me to be creative. that's what i'm feeling today as i sit on my couch crocheting and thinking, "hey, maybe crocheting isn't so bad after all." (the list of things i will do to avoid cleaning my apartment is ridiculous.) it's no surprise that i like to write, and sometimes i'm even good at it. i have also mentioned on here a few million times that knitting is one of my most favorite things to do in the whole wide world. (i will never understand the people who choose crocheting over knitting. never.) i take pottery classes and now have a coffee table that is virtually useless because i have nowhere else to put the stuff i make in my tiny apartment. i bake all the time - sometimes with recipes i make up on the spot. i make tshirts when i'm bored. i think nail art is fantastic and try out different designs whenever i get the chance. i have two glue guns. there is a point to this laundry list of activities, i swear.

you see, this blog has become a sort of reference for me. when i want to know when something happened or how something happened or even if something happened, i turn to my blog posts. i can usually find the answer. it's also a place where i come (albeit less frequently than i used to) to gush and rant and ramble about the things that make up my life. the other day, i realized that i failed at both of these. a while ago i baked cookies and decorated them as members of my family. they were pretty awesome. when i went to check when exactly i did this, i found that i hadn't mentioned it on my blog. not much happens in my life, guys, and i'm used to finding these small things on here. in fact, i barely talked about baking at all. or anything really. i post specific pieces of writing, so why should my other creative outlets be neglected?

anyway, i decided that i would take a few posts to talk about some of my favorite projects. partly to have them stored here for when my memory fails me and partly because i have spent the past few days sitting in front of a blank screen wondering what to blog about. here you have project number one:

(this project makes me feel like a jerk. i'm just going to go ahead and let you all know that in advance.)

at one point last summer (i think) i was scrolling through kickstarter projects and stumbled upon a lady who made and sold handmade shirts for kids. they were really cool. i couldn't decide whether or not to back her project, but i decided to get a couple of the shirts for my nephews. when i went to her site, though, i saw that toddler shirts were being sold for forty dollars each, and i am sorry but i am unwilling to spend that much money on a shirt that will only be worn a handful of times before it is outgrown. so i completely stole her idea - like a jerk - and made shirts of my own for my nephews. and then i forgot to back her kickstarter, too. oops. anyway, they are interactive shirts that allow the kids to choose what they want on them (using snaps and buttons!) and were super fun to make (kinda time consuming, though). added bonus: what i would have spent one hundred and sixty dollars on, i got for under thirty. and that includes buying a snap gun. 

space tshirts! the white and yellow stars were made with fabric paint. everything else can be snapped on/off to make the space scene you wanna wear.

sandwich shirts! wear a cheeseburger, pb&j, egg sandwich, or even tomatoes on toast or other random combinations. whatever floats your boat. 

i ended up really liking these and wanted to make more but felt like too much of a jerk to do so. part of me wants to open an etsy store and sell these. the other parts wants to punch me in the face for being a plagiarist. 

*Poet - Bastille

Thursday, May 22, 2014

but all the possibilities, no limits just epiphanies

do you know that i cannot remember the last time that i stayed in my pajamas all day? i'm not even sure how that happened, but there it is. i haven't just had a spend-all-day-lounging-around-the-house without guilt or shame in so long. but today will change that. i am staying in my pajama pants forever (that happen to be way too big on me and also have hogwarts written down my left thigh) and only leaving the living room to go as far as the kitchen (and okay maybe down to the basement to grab a diet rootbeer), and no one can stop me.

there is something extremely freeing about being stranded at your parents' house. my husband's car is currently being nursed back to health by some mechanics so he took reggie (my car, in case you're new) to work. my parents drove my grandmother up to CT in their minivan, and my sister took their other car to work this morning. which all leaves me: carless. and let me tell you, it is wonderful. it's been over a year since i could use the excuse, "oh sorry i can't. i don't have a car." and i have missed it. it's also great that i'm stranded at my parents' house instead of my apartment because not only is there more space, there is also no sense of responsibility telling me that since i'm at home all day anyway i should clean and cook and get rid of all the clothes that i haven't worn in years. and with the semester being over, i can tell myself that i should get at least two weeks of summer vacation before sitting down to do the work i should have already done. it's perfect.

anyway, i hope that your day is wonderful. i am off to do whatever i feel like.

i can suddenly really relate to lemonhope. and just in case you are not an adventure time watcher, here is what i mean:

*Best Day Of My Life - American Authors

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

i am taking today to write. whether it will be prosetry, novels, dissertations... i'm not sure yet, but words will be coming out of my head and into some semi-permanent format. by the end of the day i will have something that i can pass on to someone and say, "look. i wrote this today. these words were just thoughts this morning, and now look at them. all grown up."

so of course i'm procrastinating on blogger. i mean, what else would you expect from me?

on a related (for once!) note, last night i had a dream that i had published a novel and that was really only one small tiny overlookable part of the dream, but i am going to mention it here because the novel was titled mary had a little lambda. and i dunno about you, but i am really in love with that title. i feel like i now need to write a book about a math nerd or something just so i can use it. maybe a short story. whatever it is, though, has to be good enough to deserve the dorky glory that is that title.

anyway, i am off to write. and at the end of the day i will edit this post to include my favorite line or something of whatever it is i have written. just to prove to the world that i wrote today. that i have thoughts in my head right now that, by the evening, i will be able to look at on paper and say, "they're all grown up."

***EDIT: so i did do a bit of writing. not as much as i was planning on or as i was really hoping for, but there are words that are written down. there are a few paragraphs that give a rough outline of a story that started as an introduction to a character in a blog draft and has kind of been simmering in my head for a while since then slowly developing a plot of sorts. there is also an extra scene in my nano2013novel. and to be perfectly honest, i probably could have written more if i didn't start rereading that. but i remember less of the novel than i thought i did, and if i want to finish it (which i do!) i will have to know what it has now. so cue the read-through. (this was all to say that i don't think i have a favorite line to put here. i guess maybe, "you can't even grow a beard" would be my favorite of the day just because it is kind of ridiculous out of context.)

but anyway, words. they exist now as pixels on a screen and bits in my computer's memory instead of just abstract thoughts in my mind. i can look at them and say fondly, "aww they're all grown up." mind you, they're grown up in the way that a child is grown up on their first day of kindergarten and the day of their sixth grade graduation. the way that means that they have made important strides on the journey of growing but that they still have quite a long way to go. the way that means, i'm proud of you but you're not finished yet. my words have started kindergarten and i just hope that one day they'll make it through high school and college and into the real world. (note to self: stop abandoning elementary students on their way through life.) (note to self number two: stop dragging out analogies.)  

Monday, May 19, 2014

some people say it's been too long. that's why i'm here, to prove them all wrong

i'm going to tell you a story. a story that spans decades (well, one). a story of my younger sister and craig david's second album, slicker than your average. let's head back to high school again, shall we? but we're not going to stop at my senior year this time. no, we're going back to the days before the ipod: the days of the CD player. (if i remember correctly, i got my first ipod for my birthday in tenth grade. it was a green ipod mini and i loved it dearly. for the first month, it only had twenty-eight songs on it. but that's neither here nor there. the point of this aside is to show that this story starts somewhere in the beginning of tenth grade, or the year 2003 if that's a better reference point for you.)

my sister and i, like most kids our age with an hour and a half long bus ride to and from school every day, each had a CD player. my last CD player, and the one that i had during this story, was red and beautiful and didn't skip every time the bus drove over bumpy road which was kind of a big deal at the time. along with the CD players, we took turns carrying a small CD case that held about ten CDs, although we stuffed it with almost twenty. (we would periodically switch out these CDs with the ones in our collection so the choices never got stale.) and while other kids on the bus would ask to borrow our CD players from time to time, it was this CD case that was really the star. because who just wanted to listen to the same twelve songs day in and day out? and our music taste was (and still is) very eclectic so we had everything from maroon 5 to papa roach to jessica simpson to sheryl crow to ludacris. whatever you liked, we probably had it. and you can bet that people asked to borrow CDs all the time.

most of the time, people returned the CDs before they or we got off the bus. occasionally, though, people would forget and we would get it the next morning. this wasn't a big deal. especially since a lot of the times the people borrowing the CD would leave one of theirs in our case as they swapped out. one day, a kid forgot to give us back a CD before he got off the bus. that CD was craig david's slicker than your average. he didn't just leave it in his CD player overnight, though, and the next morning he forgot to bring it back. the morning after that was the same. and the one after that. aaand the one after that. eventually, he said that he had lost it. his younger sister was at that age, though, where she didn't know when you were supposed to shut up about things and loudly said, "you didn't lose it. you listen to it in your room all the time." my sister said that she could burn him a copy of it if he wanted (yeah, morals and ethics were a little foggy at that time), but he insisted that it was lost and refused to give it back.

over the years, we'd joke about the stolen CD, and every time i was near a place that sold CDs i would find myself absently looking for it. i never saw it. we never bought another copy.

fast forward to last week. my sister was graduating with her master's degree, and i thought that the time was now right to replace the stolen CD. i mean, a ten year mourning period is beyond sufficient, don't you think? so i went on amazon and ordered it. it was delivered saturday morning. (i was not home.) BUT sometime between ten:thirty-six, when the fedex guy says he dropped it off, and around six, when i came home, the package disappeared. "it may have been stolen by a neighbor," amazon told me. stolen. again.

and that is when i realized that the reason we had never replaced the CD was not because we were in mourning, but because it was not meant to be. somewhere deep inside of us, we must have known this. it was time to accept it. (except i didn't, of course, and amazon is going to replace it.)

*Slicker Than Your Average - Craig David

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

and sometimes you can still lose even if you really try

words scare me in the way guns would scare me if i had one pointed at my head and another clasped tightly in my sweating hands and pointed at everyone i have ever loved. i will destroy everything. it is not a choice, not a possibility. it is a fact that hasn't become true yet, but it will.

i want to introduce you to my characters, but i know that if i try i will be presenting you with their corpses, dripping wet with my tears because i should have known better.

inspiration is rolling her eyes and saying that i complain when she doesn't visit and then ignore her when she does. she's right. i know she's right. but i can feel the weight of the gun in my hand, the metal cool against my feverish skin. i try to thank her for coming, try to show her to the door, but she just laughs and shakes her head. says that the only way she's letting me kick her out is if i kick out fear as well.

ugh. there is so much that i want to write. there are unfinished stories calling out for the endings that live in my head. there are fanfiction drabbles that claim the relatively short time it would take to finish them will be so worth it. there are characters that tell me that they finally found their stories and all i have to do is write them down. i literally dreamt of myself presenting my completed dissertation last night, and i'm pretty sure that that first chapter i've been trying to get down is hiding, perfectly worded, right behind the lyrics to the gilmore girls theme song.

but i haven't felt this in so long. i have had nothing but the company of characters with nowhere to go in my head and stories that i knew needed to be finished but that i also knew i lacked the creative abilities to do justice. and now here i am. filled with the hope that buoys me up before i sink into a new writing project. and i can't get myself to do anything about it, because i know that as soon as i put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard i'll realize that it's all just not as good as it was in my head.

so instead i'll sit here clinging to the thought that maybe it will be.

*All I Need - Matchbox 20

Friday, May 9, 2014

i don't belong here

i was born with two ears, two lips, and ten toes.
i was born with eyes that are not great with long distances
and a mind that grows infinitely inwards.
i was born with a propensity to blush and two hands that i never quite learned what to do with.

i was born without my sense of belonging.
i have spent my whole life searching for it.

i have tried to belong to countries, but my soul is spread too thin over the continents
and there is not enough of me in any one place to
hold on.
and anyway, land never needs you back.
i have tried to belong to ideas, but
i am too abstract to belong to something that is not concrete.
and anyway, my tongue does not stop whispering why and how. thoughts don't like doubts.
i look for it inside every person i meet,
but the poets tell me that i can't make homes out of human beings.
and anyway, people always belong to someone or something else.

and so for now i turn to books,
because they cannot turn away.
but i find myself searching behind every letter and hoping that
i will find it with the turn of the next page.

attempt number three to write chapter one of my dissertation failed. i wrote poetry instead. still unsure about this piece. i will probably move the lines that i like into a piece without line breaks one day. there is something freeing about prosetry, but my thoughts today were not flowy enough. oh, and the not making homes out of human beings is from the poem "for women who are difficult to love" by warsan shire. it's one of my favorites. you should read it.

*Creep - Radiohead

Thursday, May 8, 2014

i'm perfectly aware of what i'm yet to know

hello, and welcome to another edition of sarah blogs instead of doing work. *theme song plays* *fake studio audience claps* today we find our main character very much not working on writing the first chapter of her dissertation despite having said that she was definitely for sure one hundred percent going to spend her office hours researching and writing because she completely failed at doing that on wednesday when she was also definitely for sure one hundred percent going to get that first chapter done. she is seated in one of the comfy maroon chairs in the third floor student lounge of the engineering building, singing the vaccines "under my thumb" in her head. her legs are crossed one over the other and james, her laptop, is resting on her thigh. her hoodie is just two shades darker than the chairs, and she has the sleeves rolled up in an effort to fool her head into thinking that it is time to get down to business. she refreshes tumblr for the fifteenth time in three minutes and sighs when nothing new pops up on her dash. she switches to the browser window that has the tabs of research related work open (using a different window was her way of making sure she actually got work done) and her eyes immediately glaze over. she goes back to tumblr. refreshes the page. resists the urge to fall to her knees, throw her hands in the air, and scream "give me something to reblog!" to the heavens. she goes to check her email - again - and sees the blogger tab. her eyes light up. yes, she thinks, the perfect distraction. she clicks the "new post" button, takes a deep breath, and begins to write. cue voiceover.

so the other day i had the meeting with my adviser that i had been putting off for longer than i'm willing to admit because i didn't want to have to say, "i know it's been basically an entire semester since i last saw you, but nope. haven't done anything in that time. not a thing. what was my project going to be about again?" the thing about meeting with my adviser, though, is that i walk into the meeting panicked, lost, and ashamed and i walk out of the meeting confident, hopeful, and ready to work. he's magic. you cannot convince me otherwise. (because i cannot resist being a complete embarrassment, i told him during the meeting that his office is my happy place. i am surprised i have not been arrested for creepiness yet. if i suddenly disappear, that is why. well, that or laziness. one of the two.)

anyway, in the midst of suggesting great suggestions about methodology and committee members and the like, he said, "this part of the phd process is where you are designing the class. in the next part, you actually take the class." and i had a perfect moment of clarity. the skies parted, and a ray of light shined down on his office bathing us in a heavenly glow, and that "aaahhhhhh" angelic music filled the background. because of course i'm supposed to be designing my own class right now. i mean, duh. some part of me knew that, i swear, but it hadn't registered. see, up until that point, i had felt like i was taking a class that i didn't know the rules to. i showed up every week to an empty classroom because there was a room change and i didn't get the memo. i had never gotten the syllabus, either, and there were assignments i was supposed to be turning in i just knew it, but i didn't know what they were. or how to find out what they were. and i probably wouldn't know how to do them anyway.

but now i can take a deep breath and figure this out. a new perspective was all i needed. i mean, at least until this adviser-high wears off and i realize that a new perspective does not change the fact that i have no idea where i am going or how to get there and that i probably should have gotten off this education train one or two stops ago.

voiceover stops as our main character looks up to stare out the window, contemplating her feelings on this whole post-grad thing she got herself into. the ding of the elevator can be heard and a babble of voices draw our character's attention until they fade down the hall in the opposite direction. her stomach grumbles loudly. she looks around the now empty lounge, glad that no one is left to hear. she's starving. she glances at the clock on her laptop. just over one hour left. she takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. she can do this. she opens the tumblr tab and hits f5.

*Under Your Thumb - The Vaccines 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

the television's on, i turn it off and smile

so remember a little while ago when i complained on here about the price of audiobooks? (this is where i'd usually link to the old post, but i don't feel like it so you're going to have to just trust me on this one. despite it being just barely past nine:thirty, i am exhausted. i have been having this weird exhaustion-insomnia thing going on. like, i will be super tired but i just will not go to sleep. and i'm not even sure if i'm not going to sleep because i can't or just because i don't want to. even though i do. and because i refer everything back to books, it's kind of like this scene in enchantment (which i have told you all to read several times already so you should know what i'm talking about) when princess katerina is finally going head to head with baba yaga (the evil witch). the princess draws a pentagon (hexagon? octagon? i think i'm due for a reread.) to keep baba yaga trapped in, but she does it by making baba yaga not want to leave the pentagon instead of actually trapping her, effectively using baba yaga's own strong will against her. once baba yaga realizes what's going on, she makes the floor fall out from under her and comes back outside of the pentagon. i kinda feel like i am trapped in an insomnia pentagon, but i don't know yet whether i am trapped because i am trapped or if i am trapped because i am under a false impression that i want this. will i be able to drop the floor? and is trying worth the risk of losing the hope i have that i can?)

anyway, audiobooks. sometimes (like when i am knitting or driving or doing similar hands busy but head not activities) i will want to read a story. and because i can't, i will want to listen to an audiobook. and since they are so expensive, i will end up listening to music or watching tv, which i love i really do, but it doesn't really scratch the itch. i want a story. and one that will play out in my mind.

i think i finally found the solution the other day. one that had my comic-book-loving-thinks-batman-is-cool-majored-in-economics-willingly-and-on-purpose husband to call me a dork, but i'm okay with that. apparently after i stopped reading fanfiction on mugglenet, they decided to turn some of their stories into audio-fanfiction. which you can download and listen to. for free. (the benefit of learning about this five years after it started is that i now have over two hundred episodes (it's set up as a podcast) to pick from.) i was super excited when i found out about this. i mean, it's the perfect solution. my harry potter nostalgia that's been hounding me lately gets fed and i get my stories without emptying my back account.

i haven't listened to very many yet, but i think i may restart my neglected knitting just so i have an excuse to listen to these more.

*Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf - The Killers

Thursday, May 1, 2014

so i lied

so remember that time in october when i wrote part one of a post and then never actually went on to write part two? yeah, i'm really good with procrastinating. (actually, i have come back to this multiple times since december. it is now may. i just cannot finish or post it for some reason. you guys, i think i may have found some dignity. who would've thought?) just in case you don't feel like clicking the link, part one basically said: i have an issue with attention. when i am put on the spot, suddenly the center of attention, asked something directly, have too many eyes on me or whatever, i panic. like real, hand sweating about to throw up panic. my usual response is to say the first thing to comes to mind that will take the attention off of me the fastest. this first thing usually does not have an immediate effect, and i end up having to answer a few questions. this first thing is usually a lie. well, it used to be. i've gotten a lot better at handling this and while i slip up sometimes, i am more likely to tell the truth these days. (this habit made me into a really good liar, though. a topic i can talk about in another post maybe.) after i say the lie, i'm pretty much trapped because saying just kidding i lied would make me look like an idiot and explaining the panic would just take too long.

and now that you are all caught up, let's go back to high school, shall we? when i was decidedly less successful at this whole not panic-lying thing. *cue memory wavy screen thingie*

it was my senior year. i had recently been turned onto fanfiction full force by a friend who shared a novel-length fic that was so much better than any of pieces i had seen before. it was really good, you guys. i was reading fanfiction regularly and had started writing it a bit, too. in secret, of course. (like, i had a password on the word document just in case. one to open it to read and one to edit it.) the first chapter of my own work was just posted on mugglenet, and i had plans of sharing that with my friends. (maybe not immediately, but definitely before the third chapter was posted. who would see it before then anyway? i had a plan. it involved a lot of stranger-validation and teenage insecurity. i'm not exactly proud of it.) the morning after it was posted, though, before it had more than twenty hits or a single review, i walk into school and my friend asks if i wrote it. (it was actually more of a "i know you wrote it" sort of thing.) the familiar wave of panic crashed into me and i felt a slight breeze as my plan flew out the window and i did what i always did, i lied.

she didn't give up that easily and would casually slip leading questions into group conversations. i remember her asking about a title of a movie and i said it was wicker park and she thought that was solid evidence that the fic writer was me because it was listed as a favorite movie in the author profile and who even knew that movie existed. i argued that the reason i knew it was because i had just watched it on a friday night friend get together thing a few friends and i used to have. which was true. but that was also why it was listed as my favorite movie. because it was in my head. (every time i see/hear anything about the movie - even now - i suddenly feel ashamed and sometimes it takes me a minute to remember why.)

anyway, i continued writing my fanfiction and posting it to mugglenet and making friends with amazing fellow fanfiction writers (one of whom i actually just had a brief catch-up session with online the other day, after eight years of radio silence. it was cool.) and improving my writing and lying about it, because i was too far in to stop. it was pretty awesome because i had some loyal readers and i got a bunch of reviews and some friends and i used to email each other whenever a new chapter was posted on one of our stories because we didn't want to miss anything. it kinda sucked too, though, because although there were great people online, i sometimes wanted to talk to my real life friends about it, and i couldn't. i couldn't even mention the name of the story just in case it blew up in my face. shortly after that, my friend and i started working on a story of our own which i have mentioned on this blog a few times. i wrote both. my online life was so far removed from my real life that they never even bled into each other. i don't think anyone ever conclusively found out that it was me, but really, they could have known the whole time.

and then graduation happened and i got busy and abandoned my story. (not the one i was working on with my friend. that one got finished.) i sometimes feel guilty about it and think that maybe i should go back and write an ending for it. any ending. but i'm not the same person i was at eighteen and i don't really want to corrupt it. besides, i only have vague memories of what was happening in the story. i haven't read it since the first semester of undergrad and am not sure that i want to. anyway, this is my compromise. i may not ever finish my story, but i will acknowledge it as mine. it is no longer a bastard, and that's about the best that i can do for it.

(also, yes, i do realize that i was - and probably still am - quite pathetic.)

*Here's to the Night - Eve 6