Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Smidge of Navel-Gazing

So a couple nights ago I dreamed that I was walking by a river, with a couple people - seems like it was a woman about my age or a slightly older, and a younger girl (representations of myself?). We saw a brown horse in the river, which was not very deep, but clear and flowing with a strong current. Then the woman called out that there was a snake in the water and we needed to protect the horse. I went into the water, it was below my knees, and I saw an enormous snake - in my mind I identified it as a boa, but it must have been an anaconda since boas don't swim. (OK, like it has to be realistic?) The snake swam past the horse without hurting it, but there was still this feeling of danger. Then I saw another one, lighter in color, like an albino boa. It swam right past me, and just at the right moment I grabbed it behind the head and snapped the head back, killing it. I felt kind of sad and sorry to kill the snake (I've never been afraid of snakes, I think they are beautiful and fascinating, although I will keep my distance when I don't know what kind it is and it might be poisonous), and for a split second I even felt like it was trying to communicate with me.

So I looked up the dream symbols in an online dream dictionary. (Edited for relevance below)

To see a horse in your dream, represents a strong, physical energy. You need to tame the wild forces . . . To see a black or dark horse in your dream, signifies mystery, wildness, and the unknown. You may be taking a chance or gamble at some unknown area.

Oh yeah! Starting grad school again? Big chance, lots of unknowns.

To see a snake or be bitten by one in your dream, signifies hidden fears and worries that are threatening you. Your dream may be alerting you to something in your waking life that you are not aware of or that has not yet surfaced . . . As a positive symbol, snakes represent transformation, knowledge and wisdom. It is indicative of self-renewal and positive changes.

Some sense of threat - below the surface, that makes sense, because the snake was underwater. Undercurrents of danger? Risk always implies danger; what do I fear the most? Failure, probably - being too ambitious - if everything should come crashing down and I realize this whole thing was a huge mistake...

To see a raging river, signifies that your life is feeling out of control. To see a clear, calm-flowing river in your dream, signifies that you are allowing your life to float away and it is time that you take a more decisive hand in directing your life. A river also symbolizes joyful pleasures, peace and prosperity.

The river wasn't raging, but while it was clear and smooth on the surface, the current was very strong. I have taken a decisive hand in directing my life, but I am not feeling out of control - although I do have to stay alert and focused to retain my footing.

Clearly, I feel on top of things enough to take time out for looking up dream symbols and blogging about it :-) I am deliberately ignoring a pile of reading I'm supposed to do for this afternoon (and ignoring the little twitch that's developing on my forehead above my right eye) - it will get done. I still have time. I feel like one more thing would probably put me into the freak-out zone, though, which is probably why I have not gone out of my way to get involved in a lot of extracurriculars.

Well, I should sign off here or I will start to analyze whether my self-analysis is getting out of hand :-) Next time you hear from me I'll probably be in the 'Burg!

Time out for lace

This is my first lace shawl; I dug it out of the bottom of my stash box last night after a conversation with Tara reminded me of it - I think I knit a whopping 3 rows in an hour...! The pattern is from "Easy Knitting" magazine, but I always struggle with the border. It has an odd little increase on every wrong side row, except the one right after you start a new repeat of the pattern. Drives me nuts. Not the best TV knitting on the right side rows. The yarn is fingering weight alpaca I bought in Peru - so should be warmer than it looks once finished!

Tomorrow I leave for Harrisonburg!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Trivial Martyrdom

So now I feel like a "real" grad student; I woke up this morning with really tight trapezius muscles - this is typically my body's early-warning stress signal. I'm nearly finished with my first Fellowship application (I just have to plug in the citations), due October 6; I have picked a really ambitious topic for my first Proseminar paper*; there's the usual reading load, and I'm going home this weekend!!! So, it's all good - there's nothing on that list that is truly onerous or unpleasant, it just feels like a lot. As I listen to a discussion on NPR on the definition of torture, I realize that, as Dr. Rupprecht used to say, "yours is a trivial martyrdom."

*The assignment is to write about universality and contingency in the readings we've done so far (from Rousseau to Marx); we can focus this any way we like. I'm fascinating by the epistemologies of these various writers, who write these grand sweeping generalizations about "savages" and "natural man" with absolutely nothing like what we would call "evidence" to back up their statements. How do they make these knowledge claims? I'm interested in gestures towards empiricism that appear in the texts - little inclinations towards using what modern science would consider "data" - and mapping these moments against statements of universality or contingency. Does empiricism correlate to contingency? We'll find out! The prof said he'd rather see us fail ambitiously than succeed timidly, and he told us on day one we're all getting As, so we should take risks. At least I know I'm not playing it safe on this one :-).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fun with sticks

So this is what I've been doing with the leftovers from the fruit and veg baby hats :-) It's to be my first felting project!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What is it about the blogosphere...?

This is for Tara ...
btw, anytime I feel like things are getting way too serious around here, I just visit a minute with Traveling Spike and it's all good :-)
also btw, I'm seriously planning to revive Terry's blog... soon... very, very soon... I think I need to revise the premise a bit since it's not working for me so much.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wednesday nights are for unwinding

Wednesday nights is our Proseminar class, the "social theory boot camp," the class that has 19 required textbooks and 15 essays on reserve at the library; the class that we read Hegel for, the class that I organized a Monday night study group for... so Wednesday nights, after class, are for unwinding. We usually hang out at the Chapter House after class and just chat, then I come home and plan not to work at all for a few hours until I go to bed. I turned the heel on the toe-up sock while at Chapter House tonight - it was very, very satisfying :-) Short-row heel, since I wasn't sure how to do the heel flap/gusset combination from this direction.

I love short rows though. Short rows created an actual bust in Anita's birthday present (with the additional grace of double-knitting - you alternate two strands of the same yarn, every other stitch - I've included a close-up photo here).

The knitting is all done for the tank top, btw - just need to sew down the facing, block lightly, buy elastic and ribbon and other random accouterments, sew stuff together, and Bjorn Stronginthearm's your uncle (or the Yarlot's your aunt, whichever you prefer!)

For all you Vermont fanciers out there, here's a glimpse of fall color - there was definitely a nip in the air tonight; I regretted wearing sandals. Time to bring out the wool!

Counting Chickens

... so nothing is for sure, but I am planning to apply for a summer internship through the Cornell Farmworker Program, (formerly known as the Cornell Migrant Program) that would pay me to do research/service in Harrisonburg this summer! (I don't know how much, and I didn't tell them I'd probably do it for free in a crunch, but it would be nice regardless to be part of something "official"). So I'm brainstorming ideas - the service part would be a piece of cake to develop; I'm a little fuzzier on the research aspect - in terms of methodology, particularly. Last night I dreamed that the woman I want to recruit for my committee chair was telling me that nobody does "ethnography" anymore (you have to read that with dripping contempt) and that everything is post-structuralist and Foucault-ian now. Hmm...

So the plan for today is to work on some library research and sketch out some notion of a theoretical framework and methodology... piece of cake. Right?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sock solution?

I have not unravelled the sock yet; instead, I started to knit a toe-up sock from the other end of the ball of yarn. We shall see how far it takes me... I suspect that once I get past the heel turn and up the cuff just a wee but, I'll probably find that I really do have to unravel the first one and start over, again toe-up. You bamboo-purists will see that I have succumbed to your environazi ways with this second sock... though I daren't haul it around with me for fear the delicate balance of nature will snap in my backpack... maybe if I had one of those nifty needle-cases the yarlot's always on about...

Regardless, here is a finished strawberry hat to feel smug about!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dreams of El Doctorado

You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)

You're a great thinker and a true philosopher.
You'd make a talented professor or writer.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I've decided that my knitting is post-ironic. Not sure where I came across that particular hyphenated adjective but it seems to fit. I am pretty sure that blogging about knitting being post-ironic is, however, highly ironic (unless it's post-post ironic...posting?)...

Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Top Ten Reasons to Unravel a Sock

1. I don't think I have enough yarn for two matching socks, at least not the size and leg-length that I've established with the first one.

2. Related to #1, I've never made a toe-up sock (starting the knitting at the toe and working upwards). Limited yarn yardage is the ideal reason to learn!

3. I can probably unravel and read at the same time.

4. I really only started this sock because I needed a sock project to carry around with me (light, portable, metal needles won't break in my backpack) - I'm not that attached or invested. (Narrator: yes, but there are seven hours' worth of knitting in that sock... seven hours... do you know how much you could read in seven hours?)

5. The pleasure of knitting is in the act of knitting itself (as has previously been discussed on this very blog); therefore, re-knitting the same yarn again in another form doubles the pleasure...

6. Regia! Fall colors!

7-10 - I can't really come up with any more reasons. I'm sure Gramsci, Foucault, and Lenin (see shelf sock) would have a thing or two to say about the social theory of unraveling and reknitting socks. It's an historical inevitability...the sock must be undone in order to bring in the revolution and the dictatorship of the purl stitch. So there you have it. The dialectic of knit.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


This is part of the reading assignment for Wednesday's ProSeminar class:

"The truth is the whole. The whole, however, is merely the essential nature reaching its completeness through the process of its own development. Of the Absolute it must be said that it is essentially a result, that only at the end is it what it is in very truth; and just in that consists its nature, which is to be actual, subject, or self-becoming, self-development. Should it appear contradictory to say that the Absolute has to be conceived essentially as a result, a little consideration will set this appearance of contradiction in its true light. The beginning, the principle, or the Absolute, as at first or immediately expressed, is merely the universal..."

I'm actually really enjoying it - how perverse is that?!? It's from the Preface to Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind, the full text of which can be found on a very thorough Marxist database. Saved us all from having to buy the book :-).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

...and now for something completely trivial...

Tonight as I was dashing across campus to a study session, I heard bagpipes playing on the Quad as the evening bells finished ringing and I realized, oh yeah, it's 9/11 and this is the memorial service thingy... and continued dashing.
In complete avoidance of the date, I offer you my new fixation (not quite at the level of obsession): the Zone diet.

Actually Terry and I were on the Zone for about 18 months after we got married and were really happy with it; going on 2 cross-culturals kind of got us out of the habit (as one loses control over one's diet during international travel - that is, unless you want to be a completely obnoxious traveller) - we took this move to Cornell thing as an opportunity for a New Beginning. It's been interesting to integrate the Zone principles with my recent interest in vegetarianism and whole foods.

Basically, the Zone is about balancing carbs, proteins, and fats, so that you can have a low-calorie diet without being hungry all the time. This actually works really well with the whole-foods principle of eliminating refined and processed foods - so instead of a bagel, you eat a huge mound of vegetables (I mean huge - carb-wise, 4 cups of broccoli = 1/8 of a bagel...) with about 3 oz. of meat and a dash of salad dressing. Only, instead of meat, I've been eating a lot of tofu and cheese. This past year I'd been avoiding dairy, but dairy is back now. I've also re-integrated fish into my diet. I drink soy milk. So basically I can totally do the Zone without eating cow or chicken meat. I've been eating eggs again too - it will be interesting to see what this does to my cholesterol levels. My total cholesterol was under 200 for the first time in 5 years this fall, yay! (probably longer - 5 years is how long T and I have been getting it tested). 10 months of vegetarianism really did the trick!

So the jeans I blew out of in May fit again; that makes me happy. Trivial, no? There are so many young women with eating disorders crossing my path every day, it's a bit frightening - I've seen some seriously scary bones I tell you. Moderation? The Golden Mean? I bought 4 bars of dark chocolate after Terry left for Belize and have been nibbling on those, Zone or no Zone...

There's a course here on the Anthropology of food that sounds just fascinating - maybe I'll be able to audit it one day.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I read somewhere that plants and trees have a tendency to be toxic to other species; I was thinking about that as a metaphor for the chemistry I have with someone here - a professor emerita who I explored working with last time I was here in '99. Terry eventually talked me out of it because of the enormous stress that I was experiencing just having preliminary conversations about research ideas.

So yesterday I had another run-in with this woman; it was based on a miscommunication about the Vicos visitors and their schedule. I followed her instructions to me to the letter, and dropped them off at the Anthropology office Friday afternoon at 1:30. She was displeased because I hadn't brought them to the library at 2:00. Somehow just a brief comment from her had the power to send me into this tailspin of remorse, resentment, guilt, and frustration... I know that I am not to blame, but I felt blamed nonetheless, and somehow she has the power to make me feel like a pinworm. I didn't feel like I deserved a reprimand after giving five hours of my time as a volunteer.

I cannot be around this woman, that's all there is to it. I cannot in any way allow her to be in a position of power over me. It seems like a matter of my particular psychic vulnerabilities combined with the prickly parts of her personality, but it's just not good for me to be around her. Fortunately she's retired (I actually checked that out before deciding to come here) so hopefully it will be easy to avoid her in the future.

It was an unfortunately unpleasant footnote to the really enjoyable morning I spent with the Quechua men from Vicos; Manuel Meza, Avito Meza, and Sebastian something (do click on the link- it's a great picture). They were so interested in everything! We went to the Cornell Plantations, to the top of the Johnson Museum of Art (great view of the lake, valley, and hill), and had lunch at Martha's. Their comments were really interesting (I imagine their comments to each other in Quechua were even more interesting, but the dialect was quite different and I couldn't follow):
  • There are so many trees!
  • There seem to be more women students than men
  • Where are the Fords? I only see Chevrolet!
  • People here don't cook with firewood, do they? (looking at fallen tree branches)
  • All the students have their own laptops!

It was their first time in the US, first time on an airplane. During the opening colloquium, the oldest man (Manuel, about 70 years old) became quite emotional as he talked about visiting the archives in Kroch library, seeing the names of his grandparents, the photos of his elders (antepasados) and his community, seeing the memory of his place being cared for and treated with such honor and dignity. There was something very pure and straight from the heart about the way they talked about this - being treated with such honor by this obviously powerful and resources-rich university. It was really moving.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


So today was the fabulous inauguration of Cornell's new president, David J. Skorton. I have no idea who this guy in the picture is but obviously someone famous. You can tell because he's carrying a scepter... I happened to walk through the ag quad while all this fanfare was going on; fortuitously I happened to be right by the walkway where all the Important People processed. It really tickled my fancy that the three visiting Quechua men from Vicos, Peru, were practically at the head of the parade! You can see them at the far right of the photo above! I am going to be giving them a tour of campus tomorrow morning so you can see what an Important Person I am, by association :-). I thought it was really nice that they were honored in this way, but I imagine they got pretty bored during the hour+ of speechifying that followed (which I fortunately missed most of, thanks to a coffee date with some folks from my department). I came back for the last half hour or so, just in time to see the crowd lining up for the free food: And after that, the live dance performances!!! There was a group of about 10 Asian guys who did an amazing breakdance performance, then a merengue group of 3 couples, and then THIS: It was the most joyful, lively, athletic thing I've seen since the last time Terry vacuumed the apartment. I am overusing the word amazing, but it was. Too bad these pictures are so bad - basically it was 8 Middle Eastern men dancing Bhangra, in these fantastic costumes. Just marvelous, and totally worth standing in the hot sun for. I do like the statue in the background of this picture, A. D. White looking on in bemusement. Great contrast.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Knitterly Triumph

I had a moment of knitterly triumph recently; I am working on this tank top for Anita's birthday, and I found a mistake in the pattern. I read through the section for making the inner cups several times, and as near as I could figure, I was going to end up with one side of the cup slanting inward (which matched the picture), and the other side tapering off to a point (not matching the picture). I e-mailed the person who designed and wrote the pattern, who graciously wrote back and said I was right! In fact, she even confirmed the way I re-wrote that section as correct! Another little bright spot in my day was getting a postcard from Ilene F., who runs the WIC program in Brockton, Maine - I had sent 2 knitted baby hats for her breastfeeding campaign. She asked for the pattern for the raspberry hat! Hmm... sorry, not pattern - I'll have to see if I can remember how I did it and write it out for her. Well, if this PhD thing doesn't work out maybe I can make a living writing knitting patterns. :-)

Here's something fun (politics, not knitting - safe to click on, guys!)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Here are my socks, and here's how I feel about my socks!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Still here

Still here, still reading, still knitting. Listening to this on iTunes. Not much more to tell - my brain feels full of ideas I'm still absorbing, not ready to articulate. I'm really enjoying one author, Arjun Appadurai, writing about globalization. I finished Solana's birthday present (at right - the froggy has a Cornell t-shirt on). Weather continues rainy. Terry is on the road South as I write. It sucks. I'm thankful that he is willing to make this effort to support my studies.