Thursday, November 30, 2006


Is it my imagination, or do I really look like a 14-year-old boy in this picture???

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Home Stretch

You know you're near the end of the semester when you start strategizing how early you can go home for the holidays...

Monday, November 27, 2006

That Sinking Feeling... the pit of my stomach has nothing to do with Thanksgiving overeating (though there was lots of that going on!). I just submitted my third and last (for the semester) fellowship application, the one I feel like I have the best shot at actually's done, turned in, and all I have to do now is send in transcripts and wait.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Finished Objects

An evening visit from Claire bearing delicious pumpkin bread - correction: delicious homemade pumpkin bread, plus a long-ish phone confab with the hubby, and look what happens: Finished objects! Lovely blocking wires for the alpaca shawl, which I am very much looking forward to wearing (the shawl, not the wires), FINALLY (now that I know how to do a stretchy bind-off, my quality of life has taken a dramatic turn for the better), plus the toe-up socks (matching yet not matching, how clever, yes?) and the inimitable Pea Pod sweater with matching hat. I had fun blocking that one too, although the cotton fiber felt a little washcloth-y when wet. I am very glad I decided to fix the mistake in the lace as it turns out to be one of the technically best things I've turned out so far. I feel really proud of my workwomanship :-). I also love the massive button selection there is at the local yarn store (LYS, to those in the knitting know) and at Joanne Fabrics. Ugh - chain - but lots of buttons. Button choice makes me happy. Ah, consumerism.

I've been thinking about what a luxury hand-knitting is. Used to be a necessity - before machines were invented that could do the knitting for you, hands and needles was all there was. Made me humbly appreciate my stash and resolve to enjoy the knitting process thoroughly, and knit with love for people I love.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not Rats

I woke up this morning and there was snow on the ground! (And yes, it was still technically morning!)

I happily pulled out my new boots that I ordered online - it was my incentive for finishing the NSF application. You have to cheer yourself on somehow. They are warm, comfortable, good treads, and I think they look cool (though maybe not with the black sweatpants stuffed in).

But the really big story today is what happened to the ceiling (pictured below). Wednesday night I heard an ominous scuttling in the drop ceiling over the kitchen. "It has to be squirrels - it has to be squirrels" I kept telling myself. I had rats in my house in Bolivia back in the day and they were NOT FUN. They got into my yarn, they dragged a whole DRESS off the hanger and half of it into their hole. When I pulled it out it was gnawed on and unwearable. The one night that a cat actually came around it ended up dead. I don't know how, but I blame the rats. And this was long after I had stopped putting down poison because the neighbor's dog would get it before the rats did... Anyway, that was in Bolivia and I was not eager for a repeat.

Well, the squirrel myth died when I SAW the unmistakable shape of a rodent crawl sniffing out onto the translucent panel under the fluorescent lights. So I banged on all the ceiling tiles to make it go away and hoped it would just get the picture and GO AWAY.

Inspecting the apartment carefully I found no rat droppings and no chew marks so I knew it hadn't come down in but I figured it was only a matter of time. I called Terry. "Put poison down," he said. Yeah, like that worked so well in Bolivia. I figured I'd have to tell the landlady but I put it off until Friday morning when again the critter(s?) was/were running around above my head.

I was not prepared for her reaction, which was not fear and loathing, but utter joy. "IT'S NESSA!" she cried. Evidently their pet gerbil had escaped Wednesday night and the two daughters had been searching for her and crying for two nights and a day.

Well, the fun didn't stop there. Janet came down and we lifted up a ceiling tile, and sure enough, it was a gerbil. Not a rat (phew). All her toys and favorite foods were brought down to coax her to us but to no avail. She'd get close enough to grab a nut or slice of apple and then POW. Gone. When the girls got home from school they had no luck either. When Terry showed up at about 6:00 we were still at it. Then somebody said, "Why don't we take out a whole row of tiles so she can't run into the back corner again?" Well shucks, why don't we just take out ALL the tiles except the one she's standing on and then we can grab her easily? By golly, it worked! It only took five people and a whole day! Oh yes, and TERRY was the one who actually grabbed her; he did his little happy dance :-). It was short work to put back the tiles and vacuum the carpet. The end.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Making Yarn Obey Me

A good lace pattern can be truly magical... as long as you stay in control of those tricksy yarn overs! I was going to live with the mistake in the second repeat of the pattern, but then I saw a picture of this same sweater on another knitting blog (error-free) and knew I had to correct it. The pattern is one of the free ones from Interweave Knits, and it really knits up fast - as long as you don't make or miss those doggone yarn overs. I think I'm going to keep this one, in a fit of irrational optimism. The yarn is a cotton-silk blend but more cotton and less silk than the yarn I used for Anita's tank top.

Drama in Real Life!

Remember those old Reader's Digest stories? Last night I was whining to Terry about walking home from the library in the cold and for some reason he was unsympathetic to my drama. I don't get it. :-) Here are the finished hats on their way to Heidi!

Once again, I am struck by the way you can FINISH a knitted object but an academic paper never really feels done. I turned in my second big paper of the semester last night and I keep thinking about all the flaws... it just still feels like a work in progress. I'm planning to rework the same paper for another class where we're using some of the same theorists, so at least there's a chance for redemption there.

Sleep has been problematic this week and I'm not sure why; I've been really good about exercise and cutting out caffeine. I've made another lifestyle change - instead of watching TV on the Internet during the last hour before I go to bed (c'mon, it's my little reward for working hard!) I turn the computer OFF an hour before bedtime and just read. It worked last night, sort of - I feel asleep around 10:30 (instead of 2 or 3 a.m.), but I was awake from 2-4. My alarm was set for 10:15 - so I did get about 10 hours and felt pretty good this morning. It amuses me how I've slid right back into my night owl ways!

Thanksgiving break is looking really good up ahead...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I was talking with one of my 1st-year peeps about "vibes" we'd gotten from a professor earlier that day, as we each individually ran into him in the hall. We thought he seemed cool, not happy to see us, something like that, and we each interpreted it the same way - that we hadn't done well on the paper we'd handed in the week before. It turns out he hadn't read the papers yet, so he was probably just feeling guilty about that... but it got us thinking about how as students we're constantly monitoring professors' body language, over-interpreting off-hand comments, analyzing their evaluations of us, and how it seems like they can get away with being completely oblivious to our thoughts and feelings.

But! Only four months separated my professor status from student status (less, if you count the time after the Spring semester ended when I was dealing with an Incomplete student - plus, every time I go back to the Burg students treat me like a prof) and I can clearly recall the feeling of being in front of the "blinking owls" (as Terry calls them). I remember how much I noticed the emotions playing across people's faces, the boredom, confusion, interest, laughter... and how attuned I was to that nonverbal feedback.

It's the Hegelian master-slave dialectic, really - profs wouldn't be profs without students (um, well, maybe at a research institute!). My therapist says academics have very fragile egos, I think for the MOST part it's true (not me!); validation from students can mean a whole lot. So can rejection. From the student perspective they seem so powerful - but one against 10-80, that's pretty scary odds from up front!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Knitting Update

The last version you saw of the daisy hat is no more. Having thrown away all my yarn labels (Bad! Bad!) I fecklessly decided to try to felt the hat in hopes of making it smaller. A trial run with the Christmas sock went well - well, it went oddly, but felting did occur. The yarn used for the toe failed completely to felt at all; how odd, I thought. So I threw the daisy hat in the washer with two pairs of jeans and a little detergent. 10 minutes later, I found a mess. Half had unravelled completely; no signs of felting at all.

Yeah, it went in the trash.

Superwash wool will not felt. A good hint that your yarn might be superwash? It expands in cold water.

So... behold Kamryn's hat, version 2.0:
Peachy, eh? :-)

Hybridities That Gesture Towards Moments of Post-Colonial Erasure

I have a new game - see how much post-structuralist Anthro-jargon I can fit in one sentence!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Ok, so now I know what all the fuss is about! Last night I was part of the loudest crowd "on the planet" (according to the Ithaca Journal article) cheering Cornell's literally last-minute defeat of Harvard. Oh yeah, we're talking hockey (see picture). Terry and I sat facing the undergrad section which reminded me of sea anemones every time they waved their arms to a) point accusing fingers at the Harvard goalie and yell "sieve! sieve! sieve! sieve!", b) bow in "we are not worthy" fashion to the Cornell goalie after a particularly good save and c) wave "bye" to any Harvard player going into the penalty box, along with a cry of "oooooohhhhh... see ya! You goon!"

In other words, lots of great solidarity rituals :-). There was the throwing of fish onto the ice when the Harvard team came in, there was the shaking of newspapers at the Harvard team (evidently to show how boring they are), there was the chant of "you're not a goalie, you're a sieve! You're not a sieve, you're a vacuum! You're not a vacuum, you're a black hole! You're not a black hole, you just suck!" And during the national anthem when they get to the line "...and the rocket's red glare," everyone shouts RED as loud as possible. (It was quite possibly the most enthusiastic rendition of the anthem I've ever heard.) I got quite caught up in the excitement and only knit during intermissions! It was really fun. My favorite part was in the last 3 minutes when my section stood up and the students started yelling "townies up, townies up!" Oh and yes, Cornell won 3-2.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


It's been a roller coaster couple of weeks... but definitely on an upswing now, hope to stabilize here soon. Silly grant proposal...

A finished sock is an index of time spent socializing! It was great to spend some time in the 'Burg and reconnect with friends; also, I didn't plan this, but was able to be one of the 7,000 critical votes in Virginia that swung the election to the left! I was really happy that the weekend I wanted to go home for coincided with midterm election day, and that my class that day was cancelled so I could stay in VA long enough to vote. Someone told a classmate that the Anthro department is the second most liberal on Cornell's campus - but we don't know what #1 is. Interesting!

This cabled rib sock is toe-up with a short-row heel; the biggest problem I have with this technique is that my cast-off row is really really tight, even though I deliberately knit it loosely. Why doesn't it have as much give as a long-tail cast-on? I have no idea, and I'm not sure how to fix it except by using really big needles, or some kind of crochet with chain stitches inserted between each cast-off stitch. Hmmm.... hmmm....

Well, I had about 6 hours of fitful sleep on the bus this morning, between the hours of 2 and 10 (I was reading psychoanalytical anthropology in the Port Authority bus station at 5 a.m. this morning - when's the last time you did that?) :-) so I may just turn in for the night - but wanted to update all 4 of my faithful readers with the latest in the life of this graduate student. Honestly, I love my life. Getting to read and talk about interesting stuff all the time... awesome.


but not teary-eyed! Thanks to Terry's fantastic last-minute coaching as well as a few other people's feedback I got the grant application off - Yay! Back in NY...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Back to Square One

I should have known I was destined to be an academic that night in 9th grade, when I realized that I had a major Honors History assignment due the next day, and I had completely forgotten about it. Instead of begging the teacher for an extension, or blowing it off, or cribbing notes from a friend, I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading the original source material and painstakingly writing a short essay response. Intellectual work is always something I have been motivated to do, and to try to excell at. That's probably why I'm sitting here crying over this ridiculous research proposal, agonizing over trivial word choices, combing the internet databases for just one more citation.

Sometimes it's hard to keep these things in perspective.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


...and suddenly, I'm done - don't know how that happened. Of course when you're writing something, there really is no such thing as "finished," there's just "that's it, I'm stopping now." Period. The End. There is no end to editing, no real terminus to re-writing, but there is a point where you just have to stop. I sent my research proposal to my prof and to Terry, who if they have feedback will I'm sure send me right back to square one, but I have some time on Saturday to mess around with it. Come Monday though, it's hit "submit" on the fellowship website and then there's no turning back.

At least with knitting there is a very clear point when you are DONE. I think that's why I started knitting in the first place - it's the same with community development; you're never done, because at the end of the day, people are still poor. With knitting, you can hold up a FINISHED OBJECT and feel pretty darn good about yourself.

The other thing I do is read my CV and sigh over what a fabulous person all these bullet points encapsulate. Oh right - that's ME! Ha ha! *blush*

Suzzette's Christmas socks are DONE.


The fact is, I just don't want to read this book. But I have 3 hours before class and will want to be able to contribute something. I ate too much chocolate yesterday and felt sick to my stomach, so even that is not going to work as incentive today.

At least here is something pretty to look at: