30 June 2007

build it and they will come

Our passports were supposed to come on Wednesday by Priority Mail, "Oh, Yes, yes, don't worry they will be there." Despite the fact that I waited at the door all day long they did not come.

On Thursday, thinking that a watched pot never boils, I decided to go out and perform a little good old american capitalist voodoo. In other words, alter my future through consumption. I bought this lovely lovely passport case that, not only holds a passport but also my driver's license, credit cards, plane ticket, and space to stash extra american cash that I don't want to flash to the world. How could this not work? Surely upon returning home, the passports would be there.

They were not. Maybe Field of Dreams is not the best source of information for american capitalist voodoo. Maybe I needed something else.

So, Friday morning we got up bright and early to brave the big bad passport office. Our appointment was at 8:00 we decided to arrive at 7:15. What we saw upon arriving really merits a picture. I in fact took several to document our little oddessy through the passport office, unfortunately my phone is dumb and will not send me the photos. Alas, a written account will have to suffice.

There were really at least 500 people standing outside. Bad Omen #1. As they were all going about the business of orderly queueing up we joined them as quickly as possible. There was a 7:30 appointment line and an 8:00 or later appointment line. Some people were not so orderly and had a less highly developled queueing instinct. They just fit in wherever they saw a spot. Some people got very mad and started yelling. Luckily there was no fighting. This was clearly not an Organized Event.

We waited and we waited and we waited in our "8:00 and later" line, making friends with everyone near us in line. Everyone was desperate for their passports and had their own little hilarious story of bureaucratic ineptiude.

At 8:00 they started taking people from the 7:30 line. I pulled out my knitting and began to knit an octopus. This is hard for other people to believe. "A what?" "An octopus." "A what?" "An octopus." "A What?" "An Octopus." "Ummm, we're just trying to figure out if you are kidding."

At 9:00 they were still taking people from the 7:30 line. At 10:00 they were still taking people from the 7:30 line. We began to be very thankful we didn't have an appointment that was any later than 8:00.

At 10:45 we got to go inside to Line #2. This is where we tell the people we have an appointment and get a number for Line #3 upstairs. On our way upstairs, we met someone in the elevator who told us she had spent 12 hours here the day before. Bad Omen #232.

Our number was A3428. When we got upstairs they were on number A3319. Bad Omen #346. We plopped ourselves down on the floor (all the chairs being taken) and got ready for a long wait. I pulled out my knitting and we were quickly befriended by some Tibetan, I mean Chinese, girls ages 4,6, and 9. "What are you knitting?" "An octopus." "A what?" "An octopus." "A what?" "An octopus?" "Really! Will it have eyes and everything?!" They were hilarious and made the time pass quickly. It is lucky that I work with kids this age all day long and have been in a little withdrawal period for the past few weeks because otherwise they may not have been so hilarious. I taught them how to knit, how to make a paper airplane (I'm not sure other people were happy with me for this distraction), we sang some songs, and they decided we were their new best friends. They tried to give me their phone number. I replied by saying, "you really need to ask your mom before you can give your phone number to people." They asked her and she said yes (I'm not sure she really understood what they were asking).

Did I mention that our breakfast was chocolate donuts and coffee and that absolutely NO food or drink were allowed inside, we were a bit dizzy.

At 2:25 our number was up, we tiptoed past the people sleeping on the floor as they waited, and we applied for our passports. The suprisingly nice passport man told us our passports would be ready at 3:45, or "maybe a few minutes later due to the volume of people who were waiting today." As opposed to another day? I get the impression every day is like this. Of course they close the doors at 3:45 so we would have to wait inside for the passports. Bad Omen # 511? The office stays open INSIDE until 8:00PM.

Oh yes, James had class on Friday, from 9 until 5. We were going to pop into the passport office for our appointment and then he would run off to class and I would run off to the yarn store. So at 2:50 we run to NYU to tell his professor that, no, he will not be coming to this last day of class, and then run back to the passport office.

At 3:45, the time we are to pick up our passports, they begin calling people whose passports were supposed to be ready at 3:00. By this point there were no more bad omens left, we just sort of expected it. So, we hunkered down, by this point I was on the first tentancle, and got comfortable.

At 4:50 they called our names and we were liberated. Literally. We could leave the passport prison and now we can also leave the countnry.

9 hours and 35 minutes to passport freedom.

I had a lot of octopus knit.

And we got out of there in less than 12 hours, which seems to be a little miracle.

I think it was thanks to the american capitalist voodoo.

28 June 2007

one of these things is not like the other.....

Sock Number Two

You may be thinking to yourself, that sock looks different, so solid, so... You are right. When I got to the toe I had more than enough yarn to finish, which left me with a dillemma. Do I....

A) Knit the second sock like the first sock, with a different colored toe? Even though I don't like it as much as a solid sock?
Advantages--Save time, be done faster, get on with the day, knit something different, cozy feet now.
Disadvantages--First socks that I will look at forever and say, "they could have been better."

B) Finish this sock with the regular yarn and make it more beautiful. Have to rip out the toe on the other sock and reknit.
Advantages--Beautiful socks forever that I love.
Disadvantages--Ripping out the toe is a little scary and involves cutting into knitting, time, time, time.

Being a bit of a perfectionist, guess what I chose?

The carnage. Uneventful quick carnage, however, so that half an hour later I had.....

Pretty honeymoon socks (a bit belated)! I really love these socks. They are very grown up. Very deserving of being honeymoon socks since you have to be old to have a honeymoon (well you don't but maybe should be).

And as an extra bonus.....

Now I can knit the bird some socks. Or the classroom guinea pigs. Or....I really have no idea what to do with this leftover yarn. I'm absolutely shocked how much I have left. And irritated because there isn't enough to really make anything else, but I am incapable of throwing it away. One day I will find a use. Maybe it loves Ipods and wants to keep them scratch free.

Now that I am done with socks I am officially Leaving The House. Something I haven't done for two days because I have been waiting for the stupid passports to come. Now the lovely State Department tells us that, though we should have had them on Wednesday, they are still being processed in New Hampshire. Oh and why don't we make an appointment at the local passport center to speed things up a bit? Luckily, I already did this two weeks ago because it is a two week wait to get an appointment.

Why on earth would you tell everyone they need a damn passport to fly out of the country and then be surprised when there is a record increase in passport applications?

(Gris-Gris says, "how ya doing?")

27 June 2007

sock it to me

When I was little I was very afraid of monsters. They could be lurking anywhere, the backyard, the basement, the top of the monkey bars, the bottom of the slide, or the closet.

Thanks to my father I had a lovely homemade loft bed so I KNEW there were none under the bed. Well, maybe there were some under the bed while it was being constructed in the basement. Those basement monsters were forces to be reckoned with. My father must have performed an exorcism when he brought it upstairs.

When I got a little older we had a cedar closet which instead of monsters, housed vampires. This was particularly disturbing because it was right next to my bedroom. Sometimes I would run quickly out into the hall and down the stairs so that the vampires would not notice me.

For the past few days I've been feeling this way about one of my current closets. Inside lurks a grownup monster.......Unfinished Knitting. Not just any Unfinished Knitting, the Unfinished Sock.

Two years ago James and I got married and took our honeymoon in France. I got a little obsessed with the idea of knitting socks on the trip because they don't take up a lot of room and I had never knitted socks before. Even better, I was going to knit us both purple socks, matching honeymoon socks. My friend Paige and I went to the yarn store to buy all the materials I woudl need. She generously financed one set of socks as a wedding present. I was off. I made it most of the way down the leg on the plane trip over and had grand hopes. Then I got distracted by France. And driving since James doesn't drive stick (and to be fair, hadn't lived in France and done plenty of driving there before). On the way home I did a little more, turned the heel and began the gusset.

As soon as I got home it went into the closet. And it stayed there. It even moved closets last summer. Some of the yarn became a hat. I took out the needles to use on another project.

As I read more about knitting I read more about knitters who are obsessed with socks. As I see more pictures of hand knit socks I find they look more and more enticing. The Yarn Harlot who loves socks, knits socks, writes (hilariously) about socks. and takes socks sightseeing is pulling me down the rabbit hole with her blog.

As my upcoming trip to Africa looms and I again need something portable that will take a while I have begun to think about knitting socks again. And about how maybe I should knit James' honeymoon socks. And, if I am going to do that, maybe I should try to finish MY honeymoon socks. So I have been tiptoeing past the closet, wondering how much of a mess my socks are, wondering if I can possibly figure out where I am in the pattern.

Yesterday evening I cracked open the closet to have a look. Here is what I found:

OK, what I found after I put the needles back in. A sock! One that had no dropped stitches! One that I could figure out where I left off! But one that might not have enough yarn to finish. I decided to try. One Park Slope Food Co-op General Meeting (You have to work to shop, you can get credit for going to meetings twice a year, I can knit through meetings. A perfect solution), some TV watching, and a call to the State Department to check on passports later...

...a sock and a half! The toe is a different color so I don't run out of yarn. I have plans to make it look more intentional. Maybe if both socks look the same it will look more intentional. But it is still a sock! My first sock! I think I might love knitting socks. Almost as much as dishclothes.

In other exciting news Gris-Gris now says, "OK, Gris-Gris, see you later, goodbye! heh, heh, heh, heh!" In fact "see you later" seems to be her favorite word of the day. She just started saying it last night. At a phrase a week what is her vocabulary going to be like when she's 25? I think we are in big trouble.

26 June 2007

five good things about today

Today is a Very Good Day. Here's why:

Good Thing #1

ahhh...it just really started getting hot and humid and for the first time in my adult life I now have air conditioning in my ENTIRE house.

Growing up in Tennessee everything is ridiculously air conditioned to about 60 degrees and it is unquestioned that you WILL have air conditioning (except for the year we moved there and my parents thought we could forego it-- I spent the summer playing christmas carols on the piano thinking it might make my 8 year old body cooler if I could pretend it was winter.) Though now it makes me chilly when I go home to visit, it is so lovely to go in and out of those arctic blasts into the simmering hell of humidity outdoors (and vice-versa).

Up here in yankee-land, air-conditioning really IS an option (this was shocking to me when I first went to college, how could you NOT have air conditioning?!?). For 2 weeks of the year it is an absolute miserable hell without it, but you survive. Until last year I had struggled through Minnesota and NY summers with no air conditioning at all. Those 2 weeks never seemed worth the few hundred dollars the air conditioning would cost. But thanks to
A) last summer's string of heat waves that forced me to camp out in my bedroom for 4 days, emerging only for food.
B) a generous air conditioning grant provided by the in-laws
...we now have air conditioning. In every room (we live in a small apartment, it isn't as excessive as it sounds).
This means I can knit. All summer. Even with wool. yipeeee!

It also means that I can have Good Thing #2

mmmm coffeee. I love it. I HATE iced coffee. I HATE drinking hot things in the heat. Therefore, today is partly a Good Day because Good Thing #1 and Good Thing #2 go so well together.

Good Thing #3

This picture doesn't do her justice. In the past week or so this bird has become the most entertaining thing in the whole world. She has just started talking and comes out with new words every day. She likes to have little sessions where she puts together everything she knows into various groupings. So far "everything she knows" consists of:
singing the Simpsons theme song
saying "gris-gris" (but it sounds like a frog ribbiting
slidey whistles a la "Groove is in the Heart"
"step up"
wolf whistles
"Guess what?"
"how are you?"
The queen of the night aria from _The Magic Flute_
"oh boy"
"bye bye"
Shave and a Haircut (two bits!)

She combines all of these words together into hilarious strings. My favorite so far is the, "Good Morning Gris-Gris, How are you? Guess what? step up. Stop Gris Gris, No." Then of course it is interspersed with Simpsons music and unique variations on that theme. It makes me laugh. Then she laughs back. I laugh some more. And it is off for another round of hilarity. She also is doing a lot of funny upside down tricks but whenever I point the camera at her to get a picture she stops and tries to chew the camera. Oh well.

While watching and listening to the birdy show I have finished Good Thing #4

My favorite so far.

Which naturally leads me to Good Thing #5:

So much more dishcloth yarn left to play with. I love looking at all of it in this little basket. I love making predictions about how many dishclothes I will be able to make with so much yarn. I love thinking that weeks worth of entertaining knitting (not to mention a pile of pretty dishclothes) only cost $15.00. I may never stop.................

25 June 2007

welcome to my recent knitting craziness

So it is summer vacation for me. When I tell most people this I am met with a look of longing desire mixed with deep hatred. i understand this look, really. Because I think that look is sort of how I feel in February when I think, "how will I ever make it to summer vacation and there is no way that it is ever ever going to happen." Except the difference is that when I have that thought I know it will eventually come wheras when people look at me with that special blend of desire and hatred I know it is because they know it will not.

Yes, I am blessed with 2 months off every summer, but it is a mixed blessing. There are many stages of summer vacation excitement. In talking to other teachers I have come to believe this is indeed wide spread and can be termed "summer vacation syndrome" It begins with the the dreamy thought of ahhhhhh two months where I can do WHATEVER I WANT! Then there is the terrifying thought of eeekkkkk I can do WHATEVER I WANT! No structure, no appointments, just a blank void of time. A terryfying void. The first responsse is to begin filling it with fantasy projects. Here are some of mine:

oh! I can stay at work a few extra days trying to get a few things done that I never seem to have time to do!
mmmm! I can knit every morning!
oooo! I can redo the sewing closet!
ahhhh! I will knit lots of dishclothes!
eeek! I can read lots of books!
sigh! I will knit an octopus for my classroom next year (the kids picked the animal)
hey! I can take a few education classes!
hmmmm....I COULD go see a 4 evening opera with James since he really really wants to go.
yipeee! I'll go to Africa!
yes! I will knit socks on the way to Africa!
ohhh! I have lots of friends getting married, I'll be able to go to 3 of the weddings!
hmmmm...maybe I can finish that shawl on the way to those weddings!
yeah! I will work out a little every day.

This continues throughout the spring as you list one dream after another.

At the beginning of summer you begin to plot the reality of the relaxing summer you have planned for yourself and then begin to get very very stressed. "How will I do all of this?" you think.

Finally you decide that your goals were "guidelines" rather than actual things to accomplish.

Most of those things on my list WILL happen but I might have to let go of the sewing closet in order to make enough time to knit, though that thought makes me hold back a few tears. We will see. THERE IS NO RUSH (as I keep telling myself to no avail).

The best part of summer has been the ridiculous amount of time I can spend knitting. I've finished up several old projects and begun the "March of the Dishclothes." I might be addicted.