Wednesday, February 28, 2007

are you being modest?

Tonight's small group Bible study should be an interesting one. We are working through a study on 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and this week we tackle the first part of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. This includes the verses that are the mantra for Silver Ring Thing, an organization I got to know fairly well through my four years with high school kids that is focused on educating people about the emotional and physical consequences of sex, explaining the value sex has, and encouraging abstinence before marriage. The Bible study lesson for tonight has many questions about these verses about the broad, sweeping sin of "sexual immorality". I have been being really challenged in this area over the past several weeks, and many a good resource has been landed in my lap as I try to figure out what God has to say about it.

One of these resources popped up the other evening when I visited the blog "Solo Femininity." If you follow the link, it will get you to the post from February 26, 2007, which is in regards to an anonymous survey conducted by "The Rebelution" about modesty. It was very enlightening to read the results of the survey and to read what guys of many ages really want to say to women. I have sometimes longed for a completely neutral (e.g. no romantic attraction whatsoever) male friend who can give me honest answers about what is acceptable modest dress and what is immodest and makes it hard for guys to not think about gals in sexual ways. So far I haven't been blessed with such a guy, so I appreciated the venue of the "Modesty Survey" for opinions to be voiced.

It might seem to most guys that gals know when they're being modest or immodest, but I do believe that this is not really true. I think most people would tell you I'm a mostly conservative dresser - I'm really not into fashion per se, and I learned somewhere along the road to be conscious about how much and which parts of my skin and curves are showing. However, society and culture and friends and media and style sell women (and men, it's true) clothing and images and mindsets that perhaps don't SCREAM "sex" but certainly hint at it, and to me it seems like more and more suggestive styles have entered the market without people really realizing it. For example...I hadn't considered the significance of words or other things printed on the butts of sweatpants (no offense to Penn State with that link, by the way - I like PSU!) (and also I don't have any such pants, but that's because I thought they were just silly). It just seemed to spring up and be the "in" thing - but when I stopped and thought about it - I bet that fashion people and marketing people didn't think they would get more advertising by putting words on gals' butts. NO - they realized the words on butts would attract more guys' eyes, which made the guys happier for the attraction and the gals happier for the attention, and then all the gals without butt-words would want to buy the butt-words so they'd get the attention the gals who already had the butt-words were getting! (Or, for an alternative opinion, see here - has a few bad words, FYI.)

I also hadn't considered that most of the dresses worn in modern weddings by both bridesmaids and brides would not be counted as modest. That had not crossed my mind in the least, which is very odd. But it has also made me realize how difficult it could be to find a modest wedding dress that is appealing to my taste. The survey also suggests to me that I've got to find a new home (or some additional rows) for the Wave Skirt!

At any rate, the survey and the post got me thinking and considering what I wear and why I wear it - and how I act and why I act that way. And I was completely floored by the truth and wisdom passed on by one anonymous 23 year old male (edited slightly for grammar, etc.):

"There is One who is more in love with you than any man can ever be. You are incredibly valuable to Him, and you never need question His commitment to you. He thinks you're beautiful in the morning without your makeup, and He'll think you're just as beautiful when you're 80. He is Christ. You should treat Him with the loyalty and respect of a Husband. There is no need to attract a man to you - Christ will lead the right man to you. And when someone who loves you as much as Christ arranges a marriage, you may rest assured it will be far better than anything you could have done. You are His - be content there."

That's encouraging and very, very sweet, and also very, very Biblical. Now, to take those words and make them real in my heart...

And, I suppose I'll take this opportunity to say...guys - sorry!! Sorry for me, sorry for other gals, sorry that God made you the way He did. I will do my best to respect you more in the future!!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

in which i triumph over the cast on

It's been a stressful past few days/weeks/months, and last night I thought I'd try to get rid of some of that stress with some knitting. Of course, that meant I picked up the pink thing from the UFO pile. You'd think I would go for something that was easy or relaxing, not a project I've been trying to start for a while and that keeps getting messed up. But...that is what I did. I suppose it was a combination of wanting to knit and wanting to be productive in something, both of which would (I surmised) prove to lower the Stress Threat Level from severe to high.

I am happy to report that with careful counting of stitches and only a few mis-stitches that were quickly identified and fixed -- it's all cast on and it's working! I am on my way to finishing the whole project, and the pink lace can fit in my bag so I can knit on the bus. Aaah...the bliss.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

blame the guinea pigs

Did you know that it's Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month? It is.

I am part of a rabbit food buying program with the Pittsburgh House Rabbit Club, and I get periodic emails from the Club. Late last week I received an email asking people to consider fostering a rabbit for a bit because of overcrowding at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. They have lots of rabbits, and that's somewhat okay, but they had suddenly had an influx of guinea pigs, which compete for space in their cages.

Being that I did not want any rabbits to be euthanized and that I have thought about fostering a few times before, I went ahead and made another cage from extra parts from Joelle's abode, and on Tuesday I picked up this thing:
a little camera shy
This rabbit is about half the size of Joelle (Jo is 8 pounds, this one is 4) and has way, way, way less hair. It's name is (or, perhaps, was - see below) Bella Beatrice, I picked this bunny to come home with me for a few weeks because she was reported to bite and be very territorial in the cage. Well, not like I've never been snorted and charged at by Joelle... Joelle is not a big fan of people messing with her while she's in her house. She does have a bit of an attitude problem. So, I figured I could deal with Bella B just fine.

As I was filling out the paperwork to take Bella back home, it became apparent that this rabbit was in fact not a female but a male and that he had been living in a home with a dog. Not that dogs and rabbits can't get along, but it certainly takes some work, particularly if the dog was bred for hunting, as this dog had been. I figured I could understand why "Bella" was so upset with people coming into his place when they all called him a cute girl and all he wanted to do was prove his manliness and get even with the blood-thirsty dog! Poor boy.

So, now there's a male sleeping in my bedroom...
so calm, so cool. perhaps "iceman" would be a good name...?
So far he has been pretty good - much more friendly than Joelle (it took her a few months before she would willingly approach me -- this guy jumps right over. Not a big fan of being cuddled just yet, but he certainly has interest in people.), appears to be litter trained although his previous owners said he wasn't, and not a destructive chewer for the most part (although I worked hard to make sure there was nothing obviously edible within reach of his running area in the bedroom). He has not been overly protective of his "house," either - and he certainly understands that it's his house, because he runs in there really fast if I try to pick him up. I've been able to move his "furniture" and get everything out for cleaning and refilling with food and litter as appropriate without any complaints.

Joelle, on the other hand, is going a little crazy with the facts that a) she is not allowed to go in my bedroom, which is her favorite place ever because there is so much trouble to get into there and b) she knows there's something - even somebody - in that bedroom who is smelling foreign and getting talked to in Ruth's rabbit voice and taking away from her Joelle-and-Ruth time. I can't let these two together because of Joelle's chronic Pasturella issue - that spreads fairly easily from bunny to bunny, and I would NOT want to be responsible for giving it to another rabbit!! Poor Joelle - she's a bit frustrated. She's also not too happy that the day before Boy Bunny arrived I had to chop out some blobs of fur around her face that I had ignored for too long and had turned into gigantic mats with much hay mixed in. :-( She spends a fair amount of her free time sulking now...
"grrrrrrr..." also, like that tape job on the wall, keeping the lamp cord safe from sharp bunny teeth...?
Okay, truly she's doing just fine, and I've been making sure to give her lots of attention and explain to her that we have to be nice to the little boy who has no mommy, and that means staying away from him. I don't think she quite understands this, but I have caught her looking out the sliding glass door quite often.
looking for another rabbit to come into the apartment, perhaps?
Anyhow - aren't they cute? Don't YOU want a rabbit? Especially since it's Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month??? If you do, please consider going to your local animal shelter and learning more about their rabbits and what they're looking for in an adopter!

And, if you happen to live in Pittsburgh, think about taking on Whatever His Name Is - The Animal Formerly Known As Bella Beatrice. Tafkabb? That might work! If you have any better name suggestions, please pass them along!
i'm looking for my name...have you seen it?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

throw that into the ufo pile...

One of the projects I'm working on I don't have over on the sidebar. It's pink lace, and it's rather on a whim, so it's not going to get much press on this blog. (However, it is worth noting that I am speeding through this project much more quickly than, say...any of the other projects I have on the needles!) The entire project is made in three pieces, two of which get sewn together and the third of which is stand-alone. I know me, and I know that I've sewn plenty of half-pajamas: I have, for example, pajama bottoms in one fabric...and more of that fabric in a pile...and a pajama top in a separate fabric...and more of that fabric in a pile... So - because of this trend, I decided to make the first half of the two-piece part of the project, then make the stand-alone, and then finish up with the second half.

Each piece starts off with a picot edge created by an invisible cast on, a few rows of knitting and purling and yarning over and knitting two together, then folding over and purling the cast on and the active stitches together. I don't expect you to follow all of that, but basically it's a version of a tubular cast on. Anyhow, it's a little work, but it's not too tricky, and I know how to do this without looking at the directions. I started off Piece 3 sometime last week and sat down Sunday evening to finish off the creation of the picot edge...and somehow I ended up with completely the wrong number of stitches. Sometimes I would not care, but with this project, I want it to be PERFECT. So I tried to fix the mistake, but ended up having to rip it all off and cast on 115 new stitches. I made it all over again, and all was well, except...the second half of my picot edge was slanted to the side by one stitch, which probably related to the fact that I had two extra stitches at the end of that row... Ugh! Not cool. I gave up. What is this? I have already successfully created two pieces using this method with no problems... Bleh.

The yarn and the needles and the stitch markers I was uing got tossed into a pile and will be processed later. But not soon. Icko. ...And yet again, I have only half of a set finished... Sigh.

. and I forced myself to make them in an order that made piece 1 quite dependent upon the completion of piece

Thursday, February 15, 2007

for my sweetie

All right, so I had to do something special and nice and loving for someone for Valentine's Day, and since I did not run into any homeless people (they, like 99% of the rest of the people of Pittsburgh, apparently were stuck inside due to the large downpour of sleet that turned into ice and encrusted cars and homes and then was covered with several inches of snow on Tuesday night, the night on which "D" was driving back to his home from a work trip, and I really hope he's okay even if I'm not in like with him!) and my glue ineptitude was never resolved...I de-iced my car and went to the store and bought some lovely treats for...Joelle! (Sheamus wasn't jealous. He has still not eaten. Nothing. Again, I do not know how he is alive. I now have it documented that he has not eaten since at least December... He does appear to have regained some of his up-right-ability, however. Maybe I need to go get some more brine shrimp to tempt him?)

Joelle got her regular assortment of greens including her favorites like dandelions and cilantro (my personal favorite), plus some new-to-her-palate Italian parsley and Swiss chard. And to top it all off...some edible flowers, including a rose or two.I was all excited about the flowers, but like any good, well-planned gift, the recipient was decidedly not interested in the special treat for which I had paid so much and invested much time to find. Joelle dumped the basket of greens on the floor and pulled out all the dandelions, chard, parsley, and cilantro. A few hours later she finally came back and ate up most of the flowers. Great.

I suppose it all goes to show that no matter how much a person cares, her gift is not necessarily going to be received with the message she meant to convey. Perhaps in many cases, a better strategy to relate one's affection would be to...simply say it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

the weapon we have

Happy Valentine's Day, all.

This post is going to be a little depressing, but not because I'm single. :-)

As everyone knows, Valentine's Day is all about love. This ranges from romantic love to family love to friendly love to probably lustful love in many cases. And while all of those are worth mentioning, I'm instead going to write about homeless love.

Homelessness is something that has been mulling around in my head for a long time. Months. Years, even. I have started many, many posts about it but never finished them. I was first challenged to consider the causes of homelessness in 2001 when I spent a week serving at a shelter particularly directed to help HIV-positive homeless individuals on Staten Island in New York City. I have yet to fully or even minutely grasp what the causes are, but I have learned since then that the causes are often very complicated and always very...sad.

Not only do I not understand the causes of homelessness, I don't even really understand what it is to be homeless. I can't imagine. I feel cold in the winter...I walk into my home where it is warm. I am hot in the summer...I walk into my home where it is cool. I feel distressed and discouraged...I walk into my home, where it is calm and familiar. I apply for a job...and I write my home address on the application. I meet someone new...she asks me where my home is located. How would it be to deal with all of those and NOT have home be part of the answer? I just can't imagine. I try...but not very hard, because it is scary and hard, and if I really understood, I bet I would feel I need to do something for those who don't have homes.

That's part of the problem: an unwillingness to give. One day last year, a cold evening after a long day at work, I was waiting for the bus. I had just popped inside Starbucks, which just happens to be located just at the corner where the bus stop is, and bought myself a nice, warm, comforting latte. As I stood outside bundled up and gazing down the street awaiting the 61C, one of the ladies who asks for money approached me. I can't always say that the people who ask for money in Oakland are homeless - there are some who are KNOWN to not be homeless, who get driven to Oakland from their homes in another part of the city day in and day out to do their "job" of begging. Thus comes some inherent reservation to dole out my money. Combine this with the underlying thought (which I know is false) that "It's their own fault that they're in this situatiion!", and I am generally quite stingy with my money and (the bigger issue, because usually I don't even have cash on me) with my emotion. Regardless, here was the lady at the bus stop, and she approached me and asked if I had a quarter so she could buy some coffee at the shelter on this cold night. I shook my head, said no. And took a sip of the latte.

Could I please just rewind to that day and replay it? Could I please make it so I would not act like such a snot and be so hard-hearted? Could I please have just an ounce of compassion and not revel in my plenty? Ugh. Disgusting!

Even though I don't understand the causes of homelessness or what homelessness is like, I do understand that the root of the trials of every person is an unsatisfied need for being loved. And while I cannot provide homes for every person on the street or fix the underlying causes of homelessness, I can love. I know how, I bet I could be pretty good at it...but as is apparent from the incident with the lady outside Starbucks...I don't.

That's not the saddest part of the story, though. Here's a tale from this year on January 25, straight from my journal:

(...After a long day at work, I saw my regular bus go by and knew the next one wouldn't come from another 20 minutes and I would much rather get on a different bus and take a longer ride on the warm bus than stand in the 20-degree weather to wait for the right bus. So, I walked to the alternate bus stop...)

"I heard a 'pop' - an on-drugs-appearing man popping open a small bag of chips. He had on boots and a coat and a hat, but I noticed as I passed his shuffling and wandering path that he had no gloves. Something about his lost-ness, his obvious social outcast-ness, his chips, and the cold stirred something in me: give him your mittens. The Thinsulate-lined ones with the flip tops? I like them... 'Yes, but you can get new ones. You have more at home - two other pair that you knit! He has none. He needs them. It's so cold.' I stood at the bus stop, I said to him as he started to walk by after finishing the chips, dropping the bag on the ground and standing pointing at it for a long moment - I said, 'Do you need some gloves?' I held them out and he took them, shuffling by. He walked about 30 feet, then turned around and came back. He set down the bag he was carrying and took out a bottle of Lipton tea from inside - all that was inside. He held it out to be. 'No, I have enough,' I said. He looked at me. Then he held out the bag. I held up my hand - 'No - they're a free gift. I want you to have them.' (By this time I was getting tears in my eyes.) 'Thank you,' he said. Again and again. 'You're welcome.' He finally shuffled off...and I had half a mind to run after him and take him out to dinner somewhere...and I wished I had a fifty dollar bill to have slipped into the mittens...

"I kept waiting for the bus, now mittenless. I rode home, walked to the apartment, and cripes were my hands cold! Oh - to have known for that brief 45-minutes only a fraction of the chill that man had surely had in his hands! It made everything so much sweeter. For when I returned to the apartment, I could turn on the heat and boil some water and curl up in a blanket...

"How I wish I could have all clarity to know what to do for people such as he. Oh, how I hope I touched his heart simply by noticing him and talking to him!"

Now, I don't write that to make me seem all great, because really I'm not, and I walk by so many people every day for whom I have absolutely zero empathy. I hope that as you read it, you grasp the reality of the fact that I did almost NOTHING for this man, and he wanted to give me EVERYTHING that he had back in return. That was the value of my gift. It felt like very, very, very little, something that surely isn't going to save the world or even the city of Pittsburgh from the despair of homelessness -- but it did do something. And something is a lot better than nothing.

Harry and the Potters, one of the few bands I actually listen to, sing songs about the Harry Potter books. Although they aren't Christian, I have been struck by how the core of their message aligns with one of the cores of Christianity: love is it. The Potters aren't talking about the love of Jesus or loving God or any of that, but they've got it right, that the second greatest commandment in the Bible is to love others. Love is powerful. It can heal, it can encourage, it can give hope. It can be manipulated and abused to hurt others or control others. But in the end, in our fight against everything evil - be it jealousy or anger or war or unforgiveness or self-doubt or homelessness - as the Potters so aptly put it in their song "The Weapon" (from the album Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock:
the weapon we have is LOVE!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

the comfort of a hat

I actually finished (mostly) something!!

After a very long hiatus, I picked up the neglected Nadia hat I had started so long ago. It was a lazy weekend for me - nothing much I really needed to do, and it was wonderful to have two whole days of afternoons and evenings left up to my discretion, which translated into...knitting! I was also pretty chilly this weekend, due to it still being freezing outside, and so in addition to spending most of the weekend in sweats and under a blanket, I also endured most of my time donning a hat and scarf (yes, while inside... I really can afford to heat my home, but even so, I tend to be cold all the time, and covering one's head really helps with that! In fact, as I pranced around the apartment with my hat on, I thought perhaps I should make more hats to wear with everyday clothing. They're pretty fun! Maybe I could become like Alison and be a funky hat girl!).

Anywho, the hat:
see how rosy my cheeks are - that means the hat was keeping me warm! this is me on my bed, where i spent most of my weekend... oh man, there's underwear in the background - long johns, but still. and also a huge tupperware container, which had veggies in it, i promise! oh, but you all should be admiring the hat. yes, the hat!
I even made a pompom on the top attached with an I-cord, just like the pattern said to.

I still have to make and sew on the earflaps - one is 80% done, and it should only take a little while to finish the hat for good. It's quite warm, thanks to the alpaca and wool blend, but it doesn't stretch very much thanks to the alpaca and the fact that I did not loosely strand in the snowflake motif part -- that section is thinner than the rest of the hat. Makes for a very tight fit, which could possibly keep one's head warmer if it does not cut off circulation. Next time I should at least go up one needle size when I strand or be more careful in how I place the yarn.

Project mostly finished, lessons learned, a matching scarf planned...a very knittingly-productive weekend!

Monday, February 12, 2007

and now for something completely different

It all started with Al Gore.

So, I never actually watched An Inconvenient Truth, but I have heard enough about it and seen a few interviews with the former presidential candidate to know its general message: greenhouse gases are killing the earth, and energy levels are at crisis level if we are to continue operating at the status quo. I've always been big into recycling and reducing waste and composting and turning off lights when I'm not home and all that other stuff (the lights more to conserve cash than energy, admittedly), and I try to be conscientious about what I'm doing and buying and using. The arrival of Gore's movie sparked a renewed interest in this whole culture and attitude, although nothing dramatic.

The seed was planted, however, and sprinkles of water came from various articles I read here and there in Science. It wasn't until I heard a talk by Nathan S. Lewis last October here in Pittsburgh that anything really sprouted, though. Lewis is, I take it, well known in at least some circles for his adamant approach to addressing the global energy crisis. His lecture (which you can experience here) was highly informative, and any listener who was paying any attention at all would certainly have walked away incited. Incited to do what, though? Use less energy? Walk more? Lobby for funding for solar power research?

What really moved me was the comment Lewis made that if the energy problem is not fixed, it doesn't matter how many anti-malarial drugs or vaccines against HIV or cures for cancer are developed, because without energy, you can't manufacture them, and you certainly can't get them to the people who need them.

It was depressing leaving the talk, in truth, because I had just been told that my research was not just useless but utterly useless. But, being that I don't like staying down for all intents and purposes, I decided to flip the problem on its head: No, I do not understand things like what a terrawatt is or how to build a nuclear reactor or what a solar panel is made out of. But I do know what photosynthesis is. I do know that plants and some bacteria and other microorganisms are able to harness energy from the sun, which doesn't seem to be likely to go out anytime too soon. I don't know a whole lot about those topics, but I do know something, and if I can invest the little I know in with the little pieces other people know...maybe some sort of solution could be derived. (The same, you'd think, would be true for HIV. However, I'll point out that the more we learn about HIV, the more we realize we don't understand the immune system and the human body and how cells work...we're not playing with set rules, the rules keep changing. The wonderful thing about chemistry and mathematics and physics and engineering is that for the most part, there are set rules. So I see the two problems, although both exceedingly complex and requiring creativity and persistence, different in the sense that fixing one is rather a shot in the dark and fixing the other requires some manipulation and getting our human ideas to conform to the laws of the universe.)

Thus began many months of stewing. And when I was reminded of Gore's new campaign when a department downstairs posted an advertisement for a free showing of the film, I suddenly became interested in seeing what people were doing with bacteria to generate energy and if they could possibly use my help (or if I could possibly have anything helpful to offer).

And that is how I stumbled upon my new momentary obsession: microbial fuel cells. The concept is to dump some water that has bacteria in it (like...treated wastewater) in a "thing" (see, I have no idea about those engineering terms) and the bacteria send electrons to the one end of the thing, which allows the collection of energy in the form of electricity. It's neat. It's useful. It's a challenge. It's in need of many angles of investigation. And the wastewater part is still in keeping with my trend to work with excreted material from living organisms*. Furthermore, for those of you following the "D" saga, one of the leading researchers in the microbial fuel cell field just happens to be at the school in the city where "D" lives. But today I'm not feeling very "in like" with "D," so that's really not a major determining factor.

Familiarizing myself with microbial fuel cell technologies over the past week has been enlightening and stretching. It takes me a long, long time to read anything about the subject, because I don't fully grasp about half of the concepts. My background in biochemistry with courses in physics, physical chemistry, and even an introduction to chemical engineering should really be helping me a bit more, but I realize that four years of not thinking about those topics and filling my head with topics like T cell receptor antigen recognition and Peyer's patches dendritic cells has made my quick-access knowledge base about such subjects minute. Today I hit the library - the engineering and chemistry libraries, to be more precise - in hopes of finding some introductory textbooks, because - what do you know! - I did not have any desire to keep the books from any of those classes when I finished them in undergrad... In addition to re-learning some valuable information, I've also been entertained with the differences in terminology: in the alternative/waste fuel field, "MSW" stands for Municipal Solid Waste, while in HIV it stands for Men who have Sex with Women (as opposed to MSM, who have sex with Men). I don't think we'd have much luck harvesting energy from that sort of MSW. Not that HIV-field MSW don't have energy. I'm just saying...well, I was trying to make a joke...I guess science and jokes don't really go together...

Although!! I did get this one on a Laffy Taffy wrapper a few weeks ago in the midst of Insanely Long Hours in the Lab - and I laughed:
"What is a parasite?"
"Something you see in Paris."

Now, that is funny! In more than one way! Or, maybe I've been in the lab too long.

*My sister, I believe, was the first to point out that I seem to gravitate towards projects that involve "waste matter" for lack of a better term. My first "real job" was at a veterinary clinic where I worked primarily in the dog kennels, and although it might sound like a treat to feed dogs and then play with them all day, at the end of the day you have to clean up after them. Every weekend that meant at least 100 dogs. That's a lot of poop that needs to be scooped...

I moved on to college where I began working with a researcher who studied uroliths in cats. "Urolith" is just a nice way of saying "bladder stone." When that was over, I was hired in a microbiology lab where I smeared cow fecal samples onto growth media. The Sis told her friends that her sister "Used to work with cat pee, but now she works with cow poop."

In graduate school, I haven't gotten any better. I work with a bacterium that is best known for causing food poisoning, and more and more people are realizing that the gut (meaning the intestines) is extremely important in HIV infection, so most of my major experiments involve isolating cells from intestines, and that means flushing out all the half-digested material that naturally builds up in an intestine...

Yum! I don't see why treated sewage should not be a next step.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

i passed kindergarten, i promise!

I'm not sure quite what I learned in kindergarten. I can't say that I learned to read when I was in kindergarten. I already knew how. Counting I was pretty good at, too. I can conclusively say that I learned several songs about Letter People and learned what small children look like just before they're going to vomit (there was quite a traumatic experience with this the day it was my turn to pick tables to get treats at snack time).

I decided this year to make some valentines for various friends, to remind them that I love them but not romantically. Aw, how sweet of me. Things made by hand are so charming and meaningful... That's what I was thinking. And then...

...And then I made one. I cut out pictures from magazines and printed out lovely little messages onto pink paper, selecting the graphics and words specifically for my dear friend. After a bit of thought and placement decisions and glue, the valentine was done, and it looked: AWFUL!

For it seems that I was either not graded on or did not pass the section on GLUING in kindergarten. The valentine that was supposed to say, "You're special!" more effectively communicates, "I regressed to age two and thought about you at the last minute and stuck a few things on this paper with chewing gum." The problem is that the glue isn't...flat, I guess. I'm not quite sure how to articulate the discrepancy between what I had envisioned and what actually came to be. It's like...well, if you tape two pieces of paper together - sandwich the tape in between the two pieces - then each piece is still basically flat, except maybe there's a little, tiny bump where the tape is. What happened to me is that when I glued pieces of paper together, the pieces became bumpy everywhere the glue was, even though I was quite careful to spread the glue evenly. Not only is it bumpy, but now that the glue has dried, the entire card is wrinkly!

I'm not quite sure what to do about this dilemma. I had such high hopes of making nice things for my friends, and in my mind these valentines are beautiful! Buying something pre-made seems completely out of the question now that I've invested so much emotion and thought into what will be on my unique valentines. Oh bother...

I suppose that if worse comes to worse, they'll all just get the Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip valentines that I stocked up on. Not nearly as meaningful...but they'll taste (and look) better!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

and then there's the attitude thing

This is a follow-up to my recent post about keeping in touch with and/or getting in touch with old friends. See, it's not that easy - even if I were to accurately grasp the answers to all those questions and concerns I mentioned, even if I could handle having 365 good pal Attitude always finds a way to creep in. As is the case today.

For today I am thinking, "That jerk - she never calls me; I'm always the one who calls her. Why should I even bother?" (This is, of course, ignoring completely the other facet which argues that the reason she never calls is because she totally hates me.) And I'm thinking, "If that person really wanted to be my friend, he would start conversations with me, and it wouldn't always be me initiating." And I'm also thinking, "Why should I have to put all the energy into friendships? I am always give-give-giving. I've got nothing left. I need to get something back!"

Obviously there are a few unresolved issues underlying all of these neuronal synapses colliding within my brain. But you get the picture? I know all the answers to give myself for all those thoughts, all the true and right and sane answers - yet I stubbornly resist and take comfort in the self-indulgent feeling of "I'm doing what I should, everyone else is so crappy. Poor me." That's Attitude, pure and simple.

No wonder I have such issues with friendships, eh? !

Monday, February 05, 2007


It has not been a good weekend (not for me, but for people I know)!

Early Friday morning, my grandparents' mobile home park in Florida was hit by a tornado. They are okay, but some of their neighbors were not spared by the tornado, and virtually all of the homes are severely damaged. It's odd - on one side of the street the homes are nothing by toppled lumber, but on the other they're all still standing. Grandma and Grandpa will be expediting their search for a new residence. Even though their home was not destroyed, they don't look forward to the prospect of repairing their home and continually being surrounded by construction crews who will be hauling out debris and attempting to help rebuild the community. The gravity and severity of the natural disaster was impressed upon me by Grandpa's likening of the scene to bombed out cities he worked on in Europe during World War II. That is pretty intense, and certainly not a place I would like to stay for any period of time.

This morning as I trudged through my email at work, I found out that another natural disaster (I guess that's how you'd categorize it) occurred in the building where most of my classmates do their research and where all of my classes are held. Cold temperatures and mechanical problems led to water main leaks that caused flooding in many labs! I'm not sure the extent of the damage, but about half of the building on two floors were infiltrated with water, and that likely caused some damage to electronics (like...computers with data stored on them...and incubators that keep experiments requiring cells going...and freezers that keep samples viable for later use...) and the floors and written records and all sorts of other stuff! The only good thing was that class was cancelled today, and that means I don't have to walk out in the 5F (-11F with windchill, and let me tell you that wind is NASTY!) weather.