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Archive for January, 2012

So, last night, I met this guy.

He was very handsome, with a hint of Asian ancestry, long, jet-black hair, and a killer smile. We hit it off immediately and I gave him my phone number. A few days later, he called me and we went on a date. Oh man, it was a really awesome date, too, although I hardly remember anything about it other than gazing into his eyes and laughing at his jokes.

After a few weeks and a whirlwind romance where I fell head over heels in love with him, he told me he wanted to show me something. He took me to a dark cave in the woods. I was thinking, “okay, perhaps some spooky makeout time and some cool glowing moss”. Instead, he led me deeper and deeper into the cave, which was almost suspiciously devoid of bats. Finally, he stopped near an underground waterfall and turned to look at me.

That’s when I found out my boyfriend was Prince of the Spider-People.

Hundreds of enormous spiders came into the cavern, from nowhere. When I say enormous, I’m not saying “size of my palm”, I’m saying “size of a grown human being”. Despite not normally being afraid of spiders, I panicked. I screamed and ran blindly out of the cavern, dodging giant spiders and sometimes jumping over them with the speed of a demented Mario to escape the hellish place. I didn’t stop running until I was back at my home and safely behind locked doors.

A few days later, his sister came to see me at work. She was very angry, and told me that I had broken his heart, and the entire spider kingdom now hated me and vowed to kill me on sight. After my “OMG GIANT SPIDERS” panic had finally subsided, I had begun to feel guilty about leaving him behind and wondered if I’d done the right thing. I broke down and cried to her that I still loved him, but I’d been so afraid of all these giant spiders hurting me. She looked shocked and told me none of them wanted to hurt me that night, but rather to welcome me to the family as their prince’s future wife. I asked her if she thought I could set things right, and she told me she wasn’t sure, because now they all wanted to kill me. But she told me her brother was heartbroken without me, and that she would do everything in her power to take me back to the cave to explain to the other spiders that I had panicked, and really loved their prince.

That night, she and I went back to the cave. It was even darker than before, and there was some sort of red glow coming up from the depths, so it almost made me feel like I was entering the mouth of hell. It wasn’t far into the cavern when the spiders came out and saw me. I tried to tell them, with the princess’ help, that I had come back to make things right, that I loved their prince and wanted to be with him, but they wouldn’t listen. They bound me and gagged me and started beating some strange drum, preparing a ritualistic and possibly gruesome death for me. The princess had disappeared, and so I closed my eyes and wept silently at the end of my life, and the loss of my beloved.

The princess raced to the chamber where her brother had sat in quiet contemplation since the night I ran away. He had hardly spoken to anyone, or eaten, and his face was tired and withdrawn. She told him that I had come back with her, that I loved him more than my life, and that the spider-people were preparing to kill me for my betrayal. A fire seemed to light him from within, and he threw on a ceremonial robe and raced with his sister back toward the entrance of the cavern, hoping that he would still be in time to save me.

A wicked, twisted blade was being sharpened not far from where I sat, bound and helpless. I could hear them sharpening it, and my stomach rose into my throat, but I kept my eyes tightly shut and waited for death. Suddenly, a powerful voice broke through the drumming, and the spider-people stopped and bowed down to their prince. I opened my eyes and saw him standing before me, and he reached down and untied me, the greatest tenderness in his eyes. He quietly asked me if what his sister had told him was true. With tears in my eyes, I threw my arms around him and told him I wanted to stay with him forever.

The next night, we were married. The spider-people wove an incredible silk wedding dress for me, and my betrothed wore his finest silk robes. It was the happiest day of my life.

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In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, that was a dream I had last night. XD My subconscious is a bizarre place! There was also a bit near the end where I asked him to show me his spider form on our wedding night, then I got a little scared and he had to comfort me, but it didn’t flow well with the story so I left it out. And also, there were a bunch more dreams after that one, but they were more disjointed and didn’t have a proper plot, so they’re not worth writing down.

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Catharsis

Lately, I’ve been feeling very ambivalent about the online community I spend most of my time on. I think it’s about time I attempted to articulate why.

As you guys know, I’m an avid knitter. I am an active member of Ravelry.com, and in fact spend a fair portion of my time there, reading and making posts on the forums, looking up fun patterns, chatting in the chat rooms. In general, I usually feel welcome and at ease there. But lately, I’ve started feeling stifled in terms of my expression, and I can’t figure out what to do to fix the situation.

For starters, I realize I have very strong opinions about things, and I want to make those opinions known. That’s a large portion of why I started blogging, because my opinions demand to be shared, and I feel strongly that I need to spread the word about things I consider important. I also realize that I can sometimes be off-putting to people because of the intensity of my emotions and opinions, which is why I try to “rein it in” in public places, like my job or a forum like Ravelry. But sometimes, I just feel like I have to speak up.

There are a couple groups I spend a LOT of time in, on Ravelry. No names, because I don’t like rubber-necking, but my Rav-based readers will likely recognize them immediately (and I ask you not to name them in comments either). One of them is a haven of support that I consider a welcoming place for crafters of all kinds, and the other is a fan community that regularly challenges its members to craft in new and exciting ways. And most of the time, I am very happy in those groups. I spend some time in other groups as well (several animal groups, and a couple lifestyle groups, as well as running a book club group which is still in its infancy), but these two places are my main homes on Rav, the places I check first thing in the morning and right before bed, the places where I make the majority of my posts and have the majority of my friends.

And here I’m going to broach the delicate topic, which has led to some drama for me before. In the past few months, one of these groups has instituted a new rule that any discussion of parenting or children in a negative light will lead to the topic being deleted and the posters being warned. This was a direct result of past discussions that grew heated, but this rule is beginning to feel stifling to me. Even the most gentle discussion of parenting seems to turn into “us against them” and makes me feel alienated and attacked for my child-free status, and I don’t even engage in the discussions myself anymore (it’s just not worth the drama and hurt feelings). Even people who imply that perhaps not all children are perfect and perhaps parenting is a job not all people do well get a verbal smack-down, it seems, and then a moderator pops in and tells them to cool it. I don’t want to go into whether the rule is harsh or not, or whether it should be broken, or any of that. All I want to highlight here is how I feel. Because this is my blog, and I feel I am justified in talking about how these discussions have made me feel. And alienated, frustrated, and hurt are my main feelings. I feel like my viewpoint as a member of that group is now considered lesser, that my voice is diminished because of my childfree status (which I can’t even mention for fear of breaking the rule), and that really bothers me. This is a place where I’ve grown a lot, learned a lot about myself and my relationships with other people, and I feel like part of that group has turned its back on me because of this. I struggle with the decision whether to leave the group outright (which I would do quietly, with nary a peep, because I do hate it when people publicly flounce), or stay and hope that this ends up blowing over and keep a low profile in the meantime. I don’t want to go, because I love the group, and most of the people in it (there isn’t anyone I really despise, and only one or two members who I mildly dislike, everyone else is either “neutral” or “OMG BEST PERSON EVAR”), but I still feel alienated and unrepresented as an individual.

The other group does not have that problem. There are plenty of parents in it, and lots of discussion of children, but no one is judgemental about the childfree and they’re very welcoming. No, the problem that I seem to be having in the other group is that of boundaries.

Boundaries are things that I have trouble with at the best of times, to be honest. As a small child through my teen years, I had no concept of “personal space” and would often hug people who I hardly knew if they looked friendly or in need of a hug. It wasn’t until high school when I had a rude awakening (being told by a friend that she was uncomfortable being hugged by me right after I came out to her as bisexual) that I began to withdraw and now I hardly feel comfortable touching anyone unless they touch me first. But that’s another discussion. Physical boundaries, emotional boundaries, boundaries of “appropriate topics of discussion”, these are things that have never made much sense to me. Perhaps it’s just because of my poor social skills, but I don’t really feel like there should be any separation between subjects, except in terms of comfort (such as not discussing rape with a rape victim) or very personal things (such as sex and personal relationships, unless mutually agreed upon by both parties).

So in this other group, which is a group with teenage members (and thus marked as mild language only, which I have no problem with), I’ve run up a couple times against boundaries that I wasn’t even aware of. Things like discussing my budding interest in energy manipulation or possible non-neurotypical disorders seems to make other people uncomfortable, and I end up getting a very gentle nudge from the moderators to perhaps not discuss the topic anymore (and they’re very nice about it, I never feel like I’ve been shouted at or shut down). What frustrates me is that I feel like I keep bumping up against invisible walls around discussion topics that I’m not supposed to talk about, and I have no idea where they are or how to avoid them. The fact is, being a bisexual size acceptance activist who is learning about energy manipulation and has a strong emotional investment in various social justice issues is who I am. My life is not the same as a lot of people’s lives (just the law of averages, population being a bell curve, I’m usually on the margin), so these things don’t feel odd or out of place to me, but I keep introducing a topic and then learning that it’s not something they normally discuss. As a result, it’s made me skittish about what to talk about there. I really like all the people in the group (really, I don’t even mildly dislike any of them so far, they’re all so nice) and I want to be an active member, but I feel like there’s only so much I can say about my knitting before I start repeating myself, and other topics are potentially off-limits so I don’t want to try to talk about them. So then I end up posting stupid one-line things like “hi, I’m bored, what’s up” and no one cares to read that all the time.

Individually, these two issues aren’t a huge deal. They don’t really impact my whole life, because my internet life is not the entirety of my existence. If I was only dealing with one of them, I’d probably just shrug and wait it out and hang out in other groups for the duration. But because both are happening simultaneously, with the two groups I spend the most time in, I’m starting to feel very frustrated by the whole thing. It’s a cumulative thing, bouncing from one to the other until I feel like my head’s going to explode because of the pent-up emotions that I don’t feel like I can express in either place. I try to go to other groups to decompress, but most of my other groups are quiet, and since every post can be viewed by anyone on Rav, I worry that venting someplace else could create drama in the main group, even if I’m vague. Plus, I don’t want to be the girl who complains constantly in one group while showing a blank emotionless face in the other. I just want to be me. x.x

Again, this blog post is sort of making this a bigger issue than it really is. In the long term, I probably won’t even remember all this a few years down the road (or heck, possibly even a few months), and since the internet is pretty fluid, most other people probably won’t remember it either. I just feel like I need to articulate how I feel, so I don’t keep growing more and more frustrated and end up exploding at someone who doesn’t deserve it. Blogging is my pressure valve. 😀

And that is all I have to say about that.

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A Learning Experience

Hey gang! Long time, not post, eh? Honestly I’ll be amazed if more than two people even read this, but I gotta start somewhere, right? ;D Oh, and here’s a pic of how I look right now, ’cause I got my hair cut even shorter so I gotta show it!

Hey, that's me!

Anywho, here’s my first Real Blog Post of 2012. It’s about an experience I had recently with someone I work with (all names are fake, for privacy reasons), and my knitting. Please enjoy.

More than a year ago, the temp agency I was working for got me an assignment at a large insurance company in downtown Cincinnati. Originally my job was pretty simple. Using a simple desk scanner to scan insurance applications into the company’s system. The catch was that the department I was going to be working in was more than 6 months behind on this duty, so they were hiring me to make up the difference. Essentially, I was a glorified secretary, but that was about on par with other things I’d done as a temp, so it didn’t bother me. It was a paycheck, and since the scanner took forever I had plenty of down time to scribble story ideas in my notebook and daydream about cute super heroes (or whoever I was crushing on at the time).

Of course, as usual, I was painfully shy around the new people I was working with. I already have a tendency to be very reserved with people I don’t know, and that tendency had only increased during my time as a temp, working with people I might not see ever again once the temp job was finished. It took me at least a week to say more than two words to my coworkers, except when I had to ask for help, which I only did when absolutely necessary. Gradually, I began to make friends with them, at least to the extent of a casual working relationship. One of them, though, was a bit more friendly than the others. We’ll call her Mary.

From the beginning, Mary was very nice to me. She was a bit older than me, perhaps around my mother’s age, and so I think she felt some kind of urge to watch out for me. She surreptitiously warned me when the bosses were in a bad mood, chatted happily about her life and her family, and over all made me feel a lot more comfortable than I otherwise would have been. When the company asked if I had any interest in being hired on full-time, she confided in me that she and the other ladies in the department were impressed by my hard work and politeness, and when they’d been asked how they liked me, they heartily endorsed my being hired on. Indeed, after I was hired, I ended up being moved to a different cubicle, which was right behind Mary’s. Every day from then on we would chat when it was slow, talk about this and that. She gave me some good advice about dating back when I met my ex-boyfriend, and during the relationship that followed. She also helped cheer me up when I felt sad about having to dump him. All in all, she’s a good coworker and a good friend, and having her there makes what can sometimes be a tedious job more bearable.

Now, any of you who know me, know that I have a problem trying to give people too much. I think it’s partly a deep-seated urge that I’m still trying to conquer, to make people like me by doing them kindnesses. The problem is, lots of people will take advantage of that, so I’ve gotten burned over the years. Still, after a while at my job, being in Mary’s company and benefiting from her friendship and experienced advice, I felt the urge to pay her back. She isn’t much for sweets, so my usual tactic of “drown them in cookies/muffins/cake” wouldn’t work with her. After I finished one of my first shawls and took it to work, she ooohed and aahed over it, complimented it, talked about how lovely it was, and I knew then that I wanted to knit her a shawl.

A few weeks later, pretending to be browsing knitting patterns for myself, I brought up a few and asked her opinion of them. She chose a lovely shawl by the same designer who had made the pattern for the one she’d been impressed by, said she liked the colors in one of the model photos (dark purple and grey), and that was that. On my next paycheck, I ordered the yarn and resolved to cast on for the shawl as soon as I received it.

I started the shawl in the first week of October, hoping that I could finish it by Christmas and give it to Mary. Unfortunately, I did not foresee that my birthday gift of a new iPad 2 at the end of the month would cut into my knitting time so badly that I hardly worked on anything throughout the rest of November and December. I struggled, telling myself (as only a master procrastinator can) that I still had time, that the shawl would be finished, that I would work on it as much as possible. And yet time went forward, a few rows were knit, and my iPad games progressed much faster than the shawl did.

Finally, right before the time off I had scheduled for Christmas, I came in to work one day and found a bag on my desk. Mary had bought me a Christmas present, and I was wracked with guilt that the shawl was not done. I blurted out that I was making her something, and it would be done by the time we both got back from vacation. She smiled and thanked me, and things went on.

Unfortunately, the shawl didn’t get finished. And after she’d come back from her time off (which was longer than mine, her having more seniority in the company), I kept guiltily silent, until she asked me about it. She jokingly chided me, and I felt betrayed and angry, because teasing is something I still haven’t learned to take very well. I went home and asked the opinion of my online knitting friends on Ravelry. They helped me calm down and see it had only been teasing, and so work continued on the shawl. I wanted to finish it as quickly as possible, and I’d managed to shrug off the lure of the iPad well enough to at least work on it in the evenings.

Finally, last week, it was nearly done. Tuesday night I realized I had only a few rows until I could cast off, and the next day I told Mary that she would have it on Friday. But she sighed, told me it wasn’t worth it, and made me feel even worse than her light teasing had. I returned to my online knitting friends, upset and ready to throw in the towel, telling them I was going to finish it because I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore, and give it to her and then wash my hands of the whole affair. Thankfully, one of the wisest people I know on Ravelry helped me see that her response hadn’t been related to me or the shawl at all, but rather other experiences in her life that were making her feel down. I realized that what she had said was something I would have said, back when I was horribly depressed all the time and felt worthless. She wasn’t telling me that my shawl was a waste of time, she was saying that she wasn’t worth the effort.

Wednesday night, I finished it, washed it, pinned it out, and left it to dry by my running box fan. On Thursday night, I took pictures, wove in the last trailing ends, and carefully packed it in tissue paper and a nice little bag. I put one of my Knitterella Gift Tags on it (the blue one) and filled our names out in the to/from lines.

On Friday morning, after unwrapping myself from the winter layers and setting my things down on my desk, I put the bag on her desk. I watched out of the corner of my eye while she finished a task she’d been involved in, then slowly unpacked the bag. At first, she didn’t say anything, and my heart sank. After all the work I had put in, she didn’t like it, and I felt like I was an utter failure. Then, she put it around her shoulders, stood up, and came over and hugged me tightly. Then she walked all around the office, showing it off to all our coworkers, and bragging about how I had made her such a lovely thing. So all was well in the world, the gift was well-received, and I glowed from the praise.

Still, a lesson was learned. The only person I craft unconditionally for is my mother, because she cherishes everything I make for her and uses it as it’s supposed to be used. She doesn’t make offhand comments that make me feel like a failure, because she knows how I would take them. Mary is a wonderful person, a good coworker and a good friend. But she doesn’t know me as well as she could, or else she would’ve known how her comments would’ve made me feel. And knitting something like a shawl, I put so much of myself into it that it isn’t worth doing if the person may not like it.

I knew, academically, the emotional risks I was setting myself up for, taking on this project. But I don’t think I was prepared for how much they would affect me. Perhaps one day, I might knit Mary something else. Something small and simple that I don’t think much about, something that only takes me a weekend or so to finish. Or perhaps I won’t.

What I know is, I’m knitting myself one of these shawls, in entirely different colors, because her’s looks really awesome, and I love the pattern. 😀

All pinned out and dry.

 

Hanging on the back of my desk chair.

 

I think it looks great, don't you?

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A New Day

Hey guys! I am coming back to this blog, sorry for the long silence. ❤ I am going to try to update at least once a week to start, but I make no promises, as always. ;D

I will have a real post for y’all soon, and some new pics too.

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