Thursday, October 30, 2014

A study abroad Halloween

Guys.  I kind of hate everything at the moment.

I have no reason, really, other than just a general, unexplainable discontent.

I hate that I have to cook everyday.  I hate that I have to clean up everyday.  I hate being responsible.  I hate that I have to go to the grocery this afternoon.  I hate that I'm 90 percent sure I was supposed to send in candy with Adele for a school Halloween party but didn't.  I hate that I haven't been sleeping.  And I especially hate that I'm not at home on the couch reading right now.

To make me feel better, please tell me in the comments everything that you currently hate.

Now let's try to emerge from the muck and gloom a bit, shall we?  When I was in Austria (12 years ago, holy hell) the people living in my dorm decided to have a Halloween party.  It was probably the best one I've ever attended, and also the one and only time I fell asleep with my head hanging over the toilet.

The thing about Halloween in Europe was that there wasn't nearly as much candy as now.  It was odd, honestly.  I kept expecting to see bowls of Reese cup ghosts, but instead there were only pretzels.  Sad face.

This entry is probably the longest in the history of ever, if only because I was determined to document everything that I did over there.  For posterity's sake.  And I have added new paragraph spacing that wasn't there before because, well, paragraphs are important.

(Also - these are totally pictures of pictures so excuse the quality...)

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Gloria, me, Mette, Henrik

10/27/02 9:59 p.m.

I drank too much at the party last night & ended up falling asleep with my head over the toilet.  What an interesting story!  It was a Halloween party on the 4th floor & everyone had to dress up.  I was a gypsy.  I actually think I did a pretty good job w/it.  But of course once again I drank too much.  I had 2 glasses of wine, 2 beers, one glass of gin & sprite, one baby tequila shot, and I think that's all.  Oh, I did have a tiny bit of generic baileys.  I shouldn't have mixed everything like that.  But I danced a lot but not as much as before at past parties.  One time I decided to have a glass of wine & a glass of gin to take upstairs with me, but I couldn't walk up the stairs.  My skirt was too long & my hands were full so I couldn't hold it up so I tripped on it & stepped on it & I lost my gin.  But I think that was best.  I didn't need both drinks then.  I ended up putting pants on so that was better.  

Me, Lise

After awhile I got a little bored & decided to go to bed.  I just came down here & talked to Riitta about how crappy we felt.  This was about 4 in the morning I think.  But then all the sudden she leaves & goes to the bathroom in Lisa & Ingrid's kitchen & I decide that I should also go.  I think I was really drunk, but I think I could tell that I was going to be sick.  So I go & kneel in front of the toilet.  After a few minutes I puke a couple times.  I thought I should stay there because I might need to do it again.  So I put the lid down & flush & just lay my head on top.  And I passed out.  I woke up after maybe 30 minutes & peed & went out.  Mark & Denise were sitting there talking & just looked at me like where the fuck did you come from?  I just laughed & waved & said I think I fell asleep.  And then I went to bed.  I took a plastic bag with me just in case.  

Gloria, me, Lise

I woke up this morning around 9:30 or 10 & I had a horrible headache & I couldn't move very well at all.  I was so afraid I would puke.  I kept praying that I would just go back to sleep.  I finally did & woke up around 1 & went to the bathroom & took some aspirin & came & laid back down.  I felt okay after that.  I got back up around 2:30, well really 1:30 because the time changed.  Oh, I also hit my head on my shelf last night & I have a red mark on my forehead.  But today I didn't do much at all.  I did call Chris.  I miss him so very much.  But it won't be very much longer until I go back..  I didn't call my parents because I don't have the money.  My loan hasn't gotten here yet.  But I figured they would call but they didn't.  I wish they would have.  Maybe I'll call them later in the week.  Oh, everyone teased me today about sleeping in the bathroom.  It was funny.  

Back: Anne-Kristina, Ritta, Nicole
Front: me, Mette

Yesterday afternoon, me, Henrik, Riitta, Mark & Farag went to a military show thing.  It was Austria's national day & so lots of military equipment was set up at the Hofburg, I think & we just waked through.  It was actually a little boring, though.  After that we went to the Natural Historical Museum where I saw a bunch of rocks & dead animals.  After that we went to the Kunst historical Museum but I've already been there.  That's where the Ruben paintings are.  Then after that Farag met up with friends & the rest of us went to eat at the place where I ate calf brains a few months ago.  That's not what I had this time, though.  I had rindsrouladen.  It was really good.  We came back & I laid down for a little bit then got ready for the party.  

Ritta, Henrik, me, Vlad

But I guess I should catch up everything.  On Thursday the 24th I had children's lit class.  It was okay.  That night I went to the opera with Riitta & Noora.  Lise, Espen, Ingrid & her boyfriend also went but we didn't go together.  We saw Sparticus the ballet.  It was actually really good.  I didn't even get that tired of standing because we had breaks every 45 min.  But there was a big blue guy with a big blue penis.  It was huge!  But he was only on stage for a few minutes.  But it stood out!  I had a horrible coughing fit during it.  I think it was because there was an old man in front of me who actually smelled like death.  That's all I could think about.  

But there are so many rules there.  We had to check our jackets, which isn't really a problem, but we had to pay for it.  We tried to sneak & not do it but some lady behind us told on us.  Then Ingrid took a picture in the lobby & got into trouble - well just told not to do it anymore.  But it was only in the lobby & not during the performance so I don't understand.  Lise sat on the floor & she had to get up.  The rules didn't make any sense at all.  Oh well.  

On Friday I went to school to check my email then met everyone at the Secession for an exkursion.  It was really boring.  It was interesting to learn about the Klimt fresco but learning about the building was really boring.  I just didn't care too much.  I don't understand the art that's inside it.  It's too abstract for me.  

After that I came back here.  I ended up going to Zielpumkt 3 times.  First I went w/Mark to take back some empty beer bottles & do some shopping.  Well I was going to buy gin but I thought they took credit cards but they didn't so I had to put it back.  But I really want it so Mark & I found some more bottles & went back to Zielpunkt to get the money for the bottles.  It wasn't very much, though.  So we went to the ATM, then cam back & bought the gin.  So 3 times in about 1 hour.  That was funny.  The people must have thought we were crazy.  

Later Henrik, Mark, Riitta & I went to the movies & saw XXX with Vin Diesel.  It was so very bad.  The acting was terrible & it was filled w/one-liners.  But it was so corny that it was funny so we got some enjoyment!  And I think that's about all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Motherhood and More: It's been a long time since my time was me time*

I am having trouble coming up with a topic to write about.  I mean, it’s not like my wild children don’t give me excellent material, what with all the jumping off the couches and standing on tables and general exuberance that out-exuberances anything I’ve ever seen.

Maybe I could write about the weekend where it truly, wonderfully, finally felt like fall.  We built fires and roasted marshmallows and had soup and apple pie and wool socks and soccer.  We worked outside and inside and I spent 90 percent of my time in the kitchen and the kids even played together a bit. 

Or maybe I could write about soccer itself, how addictive it has become to watch my son grow as a player, and how my little guy has got skills and I’m not just saying that because I’m his proud mama.  (No, really.)

Or my daughter, and how I see her growing and maturing a little bit every day, with far, far less tantrums and meltdowns.  It’s a relief, really.  Conflict is not my jam and that little girl would thrive on it.  And now she’s almost reasonable, going whole days without calling her brother a poopy head.

But it’s all life, yeah?  This is my every day.  I’m a parent and wife and employee.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember who I was before all of that.  We all change as we grow older, that’s just how it is.  We mature and learn and the things that were so very important to us at 17 now seem inconsequential at 33.

Still, though, it would be nice to be that person again, just for a bit.  To have the freedom to spend all day in my room writing songs and playing my guitar.  Or reading a whole book in two days because there wasn’t anything else keeping me from it. 

Now, when there’s free time, there isn’t really free time.  The time that is my own is small, and it’s usually filled with responsibilities.  As in, I may have a day off at home by myself, but the chores don’t stop.  Or if I do have a bit of time, it’s such a small chunk that I try to fit in all of the ‘me-time’ activities but instead still feel rushed.  That’s not to say I don’t appreciate that time, I surely do.  But I never truly stop being Mom or Wife. 

I don’t want to, though.  It’s who I am now, and who I will be.  I love those titles.  I love taking care of the ones I love.  It can be hard.  In fact most of the time it is.  But that doesn’t stop it from being the most important thing in my life. 

So really, there is no need to be 17 again because I like where I am now.  Everything was so tragic then, and there were far too many unknowns up in the air, far too much drama because I was still trying to figure out who I was.

I do miss the freedom, yes.  But I don’t miss the ambiguity or the angst.  Or the bad poetry.

I know I've used this photo before but LOOK HOW AWESOME MY ROOM WAS!

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on October 22, 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In which I unexpectedly work through my feelings on Lena Dunham's book

I went to a work function last night, one where I got to put on nice clothes (even nicer than the business-casual I usually wear) and listen to speeches and eat fancy chicken on a stick.  And desserts on a stick.  And an endless amount of other tiny delicious pieces of food that I had to pick up with my hands because there were no forks to be seen anywhere.  The food was amazing.  I work at a community college and the event was catered by the culinary department and I had to resist eating two of everything.  I settled for one.

Related: I still don't like chicken liver even if it's wrapped in bacon and speared with a toothpick.  But I TRIED.

I thought the post needed a picture
and this was all I could come up with.
I came home to my husband already in bed and asleep (it was 9:15) so I had to rummage around in the dark for pajamas.  I stayed up reading Lena Dunham's book (Not That Kind of Girl) because I needed a bit of winding down off the fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I want to like this book, I really, really do.  And that's not to say that I don't, per se.

I'm not making any sense.

What I want to say is that I like the book, but there are parts that leave a bad taste in my mouth.  She's open, yes, which I appreciate.  And there are certain passages of her stories that leave me nodding in agreement and relief that finally someone gets how I feel about something.

But my overall feeling is that she is so very young.  Maybe that's the point of the book, though.  She captures a part of her life, her childhood and early-adulthood, and how full of self-knowledge were any of us at those times in our life?

I think I've written before about how, at least in the writing community that I've encountered, there seems to be an overall belief that in order to write well you have to be messed up in some way.  I don't subscribe to that belief.  I mean, I think we're all at least a bit messed up but it's the wallowing in it that bothers me.  The feeling that you are somehow 'special' because you had a bad experience.  Or weird experience.  Or experience that didn't sit well.  We've all had them.  No one is without their own story.  Everyone you meet is dealing with something.  And so maybe, for some, writing an experience is a way to climb out of the story.  I do feel it's hard to be truly honest when writing your own story.  And I appreciate Lena Dunham's ability to share things that many wouldn't.

I do not know her true story, her whole story.  All I know is what I've read in this book where she admits to being an unreliable narrator.  We all are in our own stories, though, aren't we?  The very nature of them is that it's how we perceive an experience.

So maybe she's captured that.  Maybe that's the point.

(I started this post thinking I would talk about how Chris had a rough bedtime routine with the kids and that apparently Adele was so pissed that, unbeknownst to anyone she took off all her clothes out of spite.  We realized it when she crawled into our bed at 4:30 naked and smelling of pee.

Instead I talked about Lena Dunham.)



Friday, October 17, 2014

Homemade Friday: Handknit Sock Weather

It's normal for me in October to spout prose on the changing seasons, the ebb and flow of life, the immense relief that the cooler temperatures bring, with their need for layers and wool.  

I love fall.  I love to be a bit chilly, to be able to wear cardigans and hats and scarves without oozing sweat while simultaneously assuring everyone that I am fine, JUST FINE and totally not hot at all but if you would please spritz me with water that would be much appreciated and maybe catch me if I pass out.

Wait, what?

Ahh, fall.  Autumn.  Pumpkin spice lattes*, soup, feather blankets, lots of orange, and red and yellow in the trees.  

And handknit socks.  Most definitely handknit socks. I spend a lot of time knitting socks throughout the year.  They are always on my needles, a sort of background project that I pick up when I don't want to think too hard or when I want a small project to take with me.  


These particular socks are close to being done.  All they lack is a bit of a foot and a toe.  It shouldn't take long, but as I only really work on them sporadically who's to say?

The pattern is one I made up myself, one I use for most of the socks I make.  I use size 0 needles and cast on 64 stitches.  I also like the short row heel.  I've attempted the other kind once and it didn't work out well.  Plus I wasn't all that fond of how it looked.

Short rows are awesome.

Also I would like you to notice how the stripes match up because it is very important to me.  So important that I took out and redid the heel on the second sock because it didn't match the first one.


I am lucky enough to have at my disposal more sock yarn than I can ever knit up, thanks to especially generous mother- and grand-mother-in-laws.  They're German and so have easy access to all the amazing German sock wool and have no problem being my suppliers.  So whenever I finish a pair, I go to the bin and dig out whatever yarn catches my eye and cast on for the next socks.


I have unrealistic hopes to knit family members socks for Christmas, but I am self-aware enough to know that there is no way that I could possibly get that done.  But in the very back of my mind, way deep, I kind of still want to try.  Because socks.  Socks are the most functional and useful thing I can knit.  They always are used.  Everyone has cold toes in the winter so wool socks that you knit yourself are perfect.

So who knows.  For now I'll keep working on these.  And then when I finish them I'll start another pair.  And then another.  

*I've never actually had a pumpkin spice latte but I'm sure they are fantastic.

She dressed herself like this.
(I am currently selling handknits and handmade jewelry.  You can find it here: Handmade by Jaimalaya.)