Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Respecting Your Elders, Part II

I have knitterly things to discuss, but for now, a quick story:

Last Saturday I went to the post office to mail wedding invitations and got in line behind a gentleman who appeared to be in his 60s. He turned to me and, without provocation, said, "Do you know what the problem with the younger generation is?"

I looked at him.

"The problem with the younger generation is," he told me, "they don't want to work."

Really? "I hold multiple jobs," I told him.

"Well then, you're the exception," he said. "Young people don't like working."

There are other days when I would have been nicer, when I would have humored his dumb-old-fart routine. Not that day, not after a week of all my friends either getting laid off or being overworked as a result of other people getting laid off or working their rear ends off because of a fear of getting laid off or generally just working their rear ends off because the price of things is soooo much high than when Mr. Baby Boomer turned 30 years old.

Not that day.

"I don't want to talk about this," I told him. "Go have that conversation with someone else."

And the crazy thing? He kept talking! It took a few more sentences of him talking about the younger generation without me answering before he got the point that I wasn't going to participate.

Seriously, Boomers. Can you please just stop?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wash Your Wool Day

Today is Easter. That's important.

Today is the first day of the year when you can wear white shoes and get away with it, at least here below the Mason-Dixon line.

Today is also the day to wash your wools. Austin enjoyed a brief cold snap yesterday (yes, I know, everyone in above the 48th Parallel just died of laughter) and something in the air today says, "Okay, we're done now. See you in November. Maybe." From here on, it's going to get so hot that we in Texas are going to forget that seventy degrees even exists somewhere without central A/C.

So while we still have the energy to do something other than drink lemonade and fan ourselves while watching Pride and Prejudice during the daytime, it's time to wash our winter woolen garments and tuck them into storage for the long, hard summer ahead.

I motivated myself to get a move on in that department with a little wash-and-block of a new project, the Counterpane Clutch, from Carrie Brenner's Handknit Holidays.

It's tucked into this embarrassingly cluttered corner of my apartment, which is full of scarves and hats and everything else. All that's left on the clutch is to seam it, sew on the zipper, and put together the lining. I hope that will happen next weekend. Details and mods to come when it's a true FO.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Best Mile Ever

Yesterday, I took the day off of work to head down to the first ever Trinity University Track & Field Alumni Classic.

It was even more fun than I'd hoped. Former teammates reunited and joked about old shenanigans -- Beale Street in Memphis, raising goldfish in the steeplechase pit (one of them got monstrously big), breaking a dorm room window with a Rice Krispie treat.

I think about that track team every day. When I first graduated, people told me I would move onto other things and wouldn't miss it as much. Turns out, they're wrong. I have moved onto other things in my life, but every time I go to work out, I think about group stretches at the beginning of practice. Every time I'm done I think about ice baths at the end. And every time I'm outside on a clear day I think about running in circles with those guys, again and again and again and again.

At the same time, whenever I think about a group experience in retrospect, my mind inevitably turns to regretting the stupid things I inevitably did and said. I wind up focusing on those and not the good times. It's ho wmy brain works, and it's created an odd relationship to working out for me.

Yesterday's meet was so excellent, because I think, just maybe, that my own silliness from back then maybe didn't matter as much to other people as I'd worried. And maybe they feel the same way about our shared experiences as I do.

It's not just the time spent together, or what we accomplished. (As it happens, I wasn't awful -- I set a school record in the 400m hurdles at 67.55s that lasted for two weeks -- and some other team members have gone onto huge achievements. One guy caught a pass in the last Superbowl, another is a world-class competitor in the pentathlon.) When you spent that much time together, making your body do more than what it's designed for; getting to know each other's physical and social foibles, tics, habits, and talents; and reinforcing each other through ups and downs, it turns you into more than just a team. You get to be friends in a really unique way, where everybody's mutual weirdness seems less so.

Plus, and this must be said: for a bunch of 30-(or so)-year-olds, we're all still really hot.

There was an alumni mile event. Dear me, I thought maybe someone else would be running it not quickly. Not so much. It was me and five former distance runners. The first three came in at 4:54, 5:37, and 5:45.

All the same... I'm a former hurdler who ran a mile in 7:51, and it was just maybe the best mile ever.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Flea in Her Ear and a Bug up Her Butt

Last Thursday, I attended a performance of A Flea in Her Ear at Austin Playhouse. (My review will appear in this Thursday's Austin Chronicle.) I brought my knitting, as I often do when I attend plays on my own.

An older lady in the row in front of me noticed my knitting.

"Oh, you knit as well?" she said. She had an accent. I'd place it as Northern European, although her behavior, as you may soon agree, suggested that she is impeccably German.

"Yes," I said.

"Vat are you making?"

"It's a sweater," I said. I was going to tell her which one. "Do you get Interweave Knits?"

"Vat's dat?"

"Do you subscribe to Interweave Knits?"

"Is dat a pattern?"


"Oh. I don't use patterns. I don't need them."

Alrighty then. "Okay," I said.

"I don't like American patterns. I like European patterns."

I shrugged. "I've followed an English pattern before. It wasn't that different."

"No, I mean I don't like American patterns. I tink dey're ugly. I don't like dem."

Sigh. "Okay," I said.

"Are you knitting American-style?"

Clearly I was. "Yes."

"I knit European-style. American-style is too slow."

"Okay," I said, and stopped talking to her.

It's tempting to speak one's mind to people who are socially incompetent. Yet it rarely helps, and after all, this lady was of advanced years.

That did make me think, however. If it's an older American person I'm dealing with, I usually remind myself that this person has lived through the Depression and World War II, and he or she probably deserves a break.

I stopped just short of asking this woman what she was up to in 1943. It might have been awkward.

A quick treat, before I sign off: the project over which Fräu Assface interrogated me was a getting-there, almost-got-it Whisper Cardigan. Honestly, I thought I was original when I fell in love with that pattern. 300+ knitters on Ravelry say, not so much!

(In that picture I look like the crazy assassin with poisonous spikes sticking out of her zonkers in the Oktoberfest scene in Pink Panther Strikes Again.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hello and Good-bye, Mr. Bean

This spring I planted a few beans in a pot on my fella's balcony. It's been an up-and-down winter, with me not always here to water or move the pot inside when the temperatures dipped below freezing. The basil in the next pot over never even poked its head above the soil, but beans are almost completely dummy-proof. Exhibit A:

A week ago, I noticed a tiny bean!

In my enthusiasm and total lack of experience, I picked it. This past Wednesday, I also stir-fried and ate it, along with a handful of organic store-bought beans. But I took special note when little Mr. Bean (Hi there, Rowan Atkinson fans) showed up on my fork.

I'm pleased to report that he tasted just the same as all the rest.

The internets tell me that I am to expect several more where he came from. Fingers crossed for home gardening!