Saturday, May 31, 2008

And She's Back!

Knitting and everything. The bribe sock has been cast back on, we are once again on speaking terms. And the wedding shawl plan is becoming more and more ambitious. I'm thinking of designing my own pattern. I was thinking about it today (in the shower, because that's where i do some of my best thinking, just me and my penguin buddy) and I think that the best, most meaningful pattern I could use for this would be a phoenix. See, the friend who's getting married hasn't had an easy, happy fun life. She spent a lot of years abusing herself and hurting herself and none of us, none of her friends, knew it. She had the strength to pull herself up and out, and she found her future husband after a really terrible, emotionally abusive relationship (i introduced them, i get full credit if this works out. if it doesn't, i don't know how they met). Thank all the powers that be that she was strong enough to help heal herself. (yeah, this is another one of my strong women, i really am surrounded by them) She decided to get a tattoo to remind herself of her strength and she chose a phoenix, rising from the ashes, covering her scars. And well, what better motif to celebrate her new life and her love than the risen phoenix?
The only problem with all this is that I can't seem to find a pattern that will work. I'm thinking of just doing a plain rectangle with a patterned middle. My friend isn't a very fancy, girly-girl, so something simple and meaningful will suit her better than frills and ruffles. I still have to figure out what color her dress is, but I happen to have a spy who can let me know so I don't sound stupid asking leading questions.

And in other adventures in girl land, Colleen decided to play with her hair, and drafted me to help. A professional I am not, but I do know my way around a highlighting kit. Coll wanted blonde highlights and some dark red streaks. The highlights came out okay, but the red left something to be desired. We went all out with this, we bought professional foil things and did everything the way you're meant to. And yet, instead of dark, dramatic red streaks, Colleen was left with bright, perky cotton candy bits, as well as some darker, fuschia color and every shade between. She was not pleased, and so today, we tried again. The ladies at our local beauty supply store are getting to know us pretty well. When Coll asked, the pros at the store told her that her best bet was to try to even the color out or color it, rather than stripping all the color out again. The color wouldn't be evened out, so instead, we coated her hair with a whole big bunch of dye and now it's a lovely dark red copper color. It only took three tries, but it's finally an acceptable color.

And that, my darlings, is all the babble I have for you tonight. Time for me to go watch the end of Poseidon, one of the worst movies I've seen in a long, long time. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Because it's appropriate...

...and sometimes, I can do the socially correct thing. Don't get used to it, though.

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

To all the men and women serving in and supporting the various branches of the Armed Forces, I offer my humblest thanks. While the people here sit and argue political theory, you are all out there living political reality. Thank you for your courage, sacrifice, and valor. Your willingness to serve your country does honor to you and to us all. You, and your deeds, are not forgotten.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sisters and Memes

Or, cop-out blogging. Because I am exhausted and a big, raging ball of hatred for that job and I've only tackled four of my six days in a row (something like fifty or sixty hours going into this run of days. thank you new guy who requested and was granted a four-day holiday weekend.)

Okay, first off, some talk about my sorority. What the readers ask for, the readers get. Before I got to college, they seemed really abstract and stereotypical to me, too. And then, I went to college. I met several wonderful young women who "dirty rushed" me. Rushing is learning about a Greek organization to decide if you want to be a part of it, and if the organization would like you to be a member. Dirty rushing is, technically, illegal in the Greek world. That means that you pick a person and tell them about you great your organization is, how great that person is, and talk a wee bit of shit on other organizations. It turns out, real life is better, and worse, than the media tells us.

I am a sister of Phi Mu women's fraternity. We were founded in 1852, before the word "sorority" was coined, and while others switched over, we stayed true to our roots. There are two types of Greek organizations--local and national. National Greek organizations are regulated and monitored by the Pan-Hellenic Council, which strives to provide a positive experience for pledges, prevent hazing, and to keep things running smoothly and safely. National organizations tend to be pretty huge--having dozens or even hundreds of chapters spread across the country. Local organizations are not recognized nationally, and usually exist only on a single campus.

I could take you through the logistics and experiences of rushing (learning about the organizations on your campus while they learn about you) and pledging (pledges are now called "provisional members" to cut back on hazing), but that gets to be tedious. Pledging is supposed to be an educational time, but there is a lot of hazing going on out there. It's pretty scary and disheartening to know that this is going on, and the Pan-Hellenic Council is doing a lot to stop it. The definition of hazing has been revised a lot, and is quite long in the official documents. Basically, hazing is physical, mental, or emotional abuse. I was not hazed. I had a friendly, fun, supportive pledge period. All my sisters were really nice to me and my pledge class, and we were always made to feel special and welcome. I know for a fact that the two other women's organizations on campus didn't embrace this approach. And you know, if I had been asked to go through what they did, I wouldn't have letters. I believe in learning about your group to earn your letters, but I don't believe in suffering for them.

Phi Mu is about love, honor and truth. This is our creed, which we start every meeting off with, and agree to try to model our lives after.

To lend to those less fortunate a helping hand.

To think of God as a protector and guide of us all.

To keep forever sacred the memory of those we have loved and lost.

To be to others what we would they would be to us.

To keep our lives gentle, merciful, and just,

thus being true to the womanhood of love.

To walk in the way of honor, guarding the purity of our thoughts and deeds.

Being steadfast in every duty, small or large.

Believing that our given word is binding.

Striving to esteem the inner man above culture, wealth, or pedigree.

Being honorable, courteous, tender,

thus being true to the womanhood of honor.

To serve in the light of truth avoiding egotism, narrowness, and scorn.

To give freely of our sympathies.

To reverence God as our maker, striving to serve him in all things.

To minister to the needy and unfortunate.

To practice day by day Love, Honor, Truth.

Thus keeping true to the meaning, spirit, and reality of Phi Mu.

Not to sound overwhelmingly corny, but I love the way this is worded, and the ideals that it embraces. When you are initiated, you learn the deepest secrets of your organization, and take an oath to uphold the wellbeing and ideals of your group. A Greek organization is kind of like the mob, once you join, you are a lifetime member. You can have your letters taken away if you do something egregiously wrong, such as attacking a sister. Or you can choose to leave your organization, which is called dropping letters. This isn't something that is done lightly. Once you leave, it's final. You're basically turning your back on your organization and your sisters.

When I first started at college, I was desperately lonely. I had friends, but I was away from the young women I'd spent the last fifteen years with. I very much wanted to find similar bonds, but I wasn't naive enough to think it could be found overnight. I met Janiel, who is my big sister (when you are a pledge, a sister takes you for her little. she's a mentor, a friend, and a coach when you need some help. you have a family within a family, basically.) through the school concert band, and she adopted me. Carolyn, the sister who's getting married, lived in my dorm. She made sure I met all the sisters and spent some time up at the fraternity house. I learned about Phi Mu long before rush week, and I found out that not all Greek organizations are full of crazed, anorexic, alcoholic, whores. When I went through rush week and met the other groups on campus, they just didn't measure up to what I saw in this sisterhood. It wasn't overnight, and I worked a lot for my letters, but ultimately, I was initiated into a sisterhood. I found exactly what I was looking for. Now, there is some bitchiness, some unpleasantness. No group of sixty or seventy people is all love and fuzzies all the time. But I knew that I had people who I could rely on and who could rely on me. My sisters are wonderful women, and I am proud to be among their number. One of my biggest regrets about leaving college when I did was that I was never able to take a little.

There are some things I can't tell you about (sorry, rosered, i am without a drink at the moment), because I swore to keep them secret. But, well, my fraternity is pretty darn cool.

I hope that's been helpful. If you've got some more questions, leave a comment, and I will clarify or share some stories. Be careful, though, I could go on about this for quite a while.

And now, a meme.

The rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1) What was I doing ten years ago?

Well, ten years ago I was in grade school. Nothing very exciting was going on, I was just being an obnoxious little overachiever getting ready for high school.

2) What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:

I am filling my delicious oasis of free time with

1) snuggling with Jim

2) blogging

3) eating some pizza for dinner

4) reading some more of Emma. Not my favorite Austen novel, but I'm out of new books.

5) trying to con Jim into giving me a foot rub

3) Snacks I enjoy:

I love potato chips, or tortilla chips with salsa and sour cream. I can also tear through a chocolate bar with almost frightening speed. And cheese and crackers and fruit is my go-to snack, when we have all those things in the house together at once.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

I would endow my former college with a sizeable amount of money, on the condition that they fire the entire financial aid department and hire some compassionate, competent people. Next, I would go to school and get me a couple of doctorates. I'd buy myself and my parents a house, and start a women's shelter or two, as well as a couple of scholarships. And I would travel. Lots.

5) Places I have lived:

I spent the first nineteen years of my life in Somerdale, New Jersey. I lived in Reading, Pennsylvania briefly, and my parents were good enough to let me come back home to heal after that. I am now ensconced in Royersford, PA. It's lovely up here, and I do believe I could happily settle down in this area, once I get some traveling in.

6) Jobs I have had:

I started out my working life as a cashier at the local mom'n'pop auto store, then progressed to a parts person. I then got absorbed by Autozone, and ended my time with them as a Parts Sales Manager, which is a nice way of saying I was a short step above peon. I am currently a Service Advisor with Pep Boys.

7) Peeps I want to know more about:

Everyone! If you haven't been tagged yet, consider it done. I love these things.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

You Brought Your Sunday Morning Sunshine... into my Monday morning rain... Well, maybe not so much. It's very definitely still raining. Again. Still. Some more. It stopped raining briefly this morning, and I started hoping I could work outside a bit, clouds or no. But then, it started raining again. Surprise!

On the bright side, this gives me an excuse to stay inside and relax. I've been listening to the first book of Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon" and spinning. Oh, how I love to let Davina Porter read to me while I knit or spin. I have been neglecting my knitting for the spinning, which I am abysmal at. I overspin my fibers, and they end up kinking. But my yarn is very strong, at least. It's kind of nice to be this new at something, and to be learning. With knitting, I've done enough and seen and read enough that I feel almost obligated to be better than I really am. But with spinning, I can revel in being a novice. It's a liberating feeling. I'm searching e-bay for a wheel, but I'm enjoying playing with my drop spindle. So far, what I've spun is only good enough to tease the cat with. But she does love my ugly brown handspun. Momolla gave me some gorgeous purple Corriedale to play with, and I feel almost bad spinning it. I'm thinking I'll knit some placemats from the ugly brown stuff, then felt them. It'd be kind of artsy, and the felting would make it more difficult to tell how poorly the yarn was spun. I hope. If the lighting were any good at all today, I'd post some pictures of the crap yarn I've made. But sadly, the lighting in my house sucks. Maybe it's something else I can blame on the rain! When the big yellow thing in the sky comes out again, I will take some pictures for you all.

The Tour de France Knitalong is coming up. I'm debating whether or not to join. Last year, I was not exactly good about updating the people who ran the knitalong. But then, it would give me a great reason to post more often, and to put up more pictures. I'm leaning towards yes, and using it as an opportunity to knit something fun. Maybe. Probably.

If I'm babbling today, you'll have to bear with me. I went to a bachelorette party for one of my sorority sisters last night, and for the very first time, I was drunk (no worries, momolla. i had a designated driver. and i was only a little drunk. no puking or telling everyone how drunk i was or doing things i can't remember or showing people naked pictures of my self {the maid of honor was *very* drunk. but remarkably coordinated}). I can almost see why people want to be drunk now, the floaty feeling was a little fun. Of course, the even more impaired brain-mouth filter was not necessarily a good thing. And the lack of control is a little alarming for my type-a self. I spent the whole ride home babbling to Colleen about various things. She kept giggling at me and telling me how cute I was, so I cling to the hope I wasn't obnoxious. And yes, I did refrain from telling anyone "Dude, I'm soooo wasted!" which means I couldn't have been terribly drunk. Around here, the more you drink, the more compelled you are to tell everyone how drunk you are. One more reason I never went to college parties. My wonderful roommate agreed to be my designated driver, so I could imbibe safely. She also took me home and fed me bread and water and an aspirin. And this morning, I don't feel hungover. Still, I'm pretty sure I'm not cut out to be a partier.

Time to go spin some more and enjoy the delicious Davina reading to me. Happy Sunday!

Monday, May 12, 2008


...because every so often, I have to talk about something other than my lack of knitting and my sucky job. Not often, but sometimes.

Bells wrote the other day about how she grew up convinced she wasn't pretty. That got me thinking about childhood, and how I'd always felt the same. Now, I'm pretty sure our family situations are different, but if that's the case, how did we both end up growing up feeling inadequate? What is it about us, and a startling number of other women, judging by the comments left, that we didn't feel beautiful?

I have always been loved, and surrounded by my wonderful, warm family. My mom has always told me I'm beautiful. But for some reason, I grew up convinced that of my parents' three children, I was the plain, stupid one. I know now that I'm not, but for a long, long time, I was convinced that I was ugly and dumb. My sisters got to be beautiful and smart, and here was I, stuck in the middle, just floating along.

I think, from some comments that my girl friends have made, that they may have grown up feeling un-pretty (which is such a great song). Now, I always take care to let them know that they are lovely young women. It's no less than the truth, but I try hard to compliment them.

And all this has got me wondering about women and how we treat ourselves and view ourselves, especially in a group. When you're out with some lady friends, and you say, "Man, I really need to go on a diet and lose X number of pounds, I'm so huge," they may or may not rush to tell you you look great the way you are (however true that may or may not be), but then, and this is the scary thing, no matter how skinny or how beautiful the people you're with are, at least half of them will say, "Oh, I'm so huge/have such a big nose/have such ugly hair/have this third eyeball in the middle of my forehead. You look great, but I need to lose weight/get a nose job/change my hair color/get the third eyeball in the middle of my forehead removed." And then other women will continue the trend. We spend so much time bonding by tearing ourselves down. And we try so hard not to be too arrogant, or too proud of our bodies. Besides, if you were to look at your lady friends and say, "I look great the way I am weight/nose/hair/extraneous eyeballs and all, please pass the cake." you would probably be lynched. At the very least, you would never be invited out again.

When men get together, it's all about the bragging. Trust me, I've seen and heard a lot of man gatherings. They're all God's greatest gift to the world. And they all agree. Women can only bond that way by tearing ourselves, and sometimes whichever mutual acquaintances happen to not be with us, to shreds. No matter how pretty or how smart or how happy we are, we are always too unattractive, dumb, or discontent. This isn't even always the truth, but it's how we communicate. And this, my friends, is why we need to bolster each other, and ourselves. We need to not be afraid to love our bodies and our lives (though, if you have a third eyeball, it's okay to get that taken care of. nobody would judge you for being a little self-conscious about that) and to admit that in public. But I'd bet you a lot of yarn that this is a thought that won't take hold. Which is a weird thing, since there are several psychological studies showing that people who concentrate on positives in their lives are happier. Maybe women need to change the way we relate, at least a little.

What are your thoughts on beauty? This is enough of me babbling for one night, but this is a topic that has fascinated me for a long time. Let's discuss it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rumors of my demise...

...have, of course, been greatly exaggerated. My work schedule has been what could charitably be called erratic. As such, my sleeping, eating, and free time schedules have also been erratic. And well, I've been tired. A tired Emily does not make for good blogging. Granted, an energized Emily tends to make sketchy blogging at best. But a tired Emily makes for particularly sketchy blogging.

There has been precious little knitting here (there's been precious little anything), since my revised routine is to wake up, take a shower, head off to work, train our latest new guy (though I'm only half-trained at best, myself), come home, eat something, and go to sleep. Dreadfully exciting, I know.

The new computer and I are continuing to get along well, thankfully. Even Dadumms approves of my new baby. My personal favorite part of this whole having my own computer thing is that I can sit in bed and listen to books while I knit, I can read blogs, I can browse the interwebs. Life with my new technology is good.

The bribe sock has been frogged and re-started. It's slow going, because of the whole crazy-schedule-not-doing-anything-fun thing. But I have faith that by next winter, I will have a whole pair. Okay, maybe next spring. But there will be a pair of socks. Eventually...

Two of my sisters of the heart are graduating college in the next few weeks. I have known both of these women for, oh, fifteen or sixteen years. Amy and Kely are two of my favorite people ever. We don't talk as much as we used to, we're a little scattered now. But there's something about our friendship that's like your favorite pair of sneakers. You may not wear them all the time, but when you put them back on again, they're a perfect fit.

Kely is quite possibly the best person I know. She's getting her nursing degree this year, and she plans to spend a few months in Africa, teaching English and helping. That's what Kely does, she helps. Rather than talking about making a difference or changing the world, she just does it. She flew out to New Orleans on her spring break after Hurrican Katrina and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. She's smart, she's beautiful, she's sweet and friendly and patient and has a kind of quiet, unassuming faith that I can only admire. She's the kind of person that, if she weren't your friend, you may just have to hate because she is just that good. And yet, she's got a sense of humor, she's compassionate, and she's human. When I think of what I want to be when I grow up, I think of Kely. There are not enough good words for her. Kely has hopes of saving my pagan, doubting soul, she keeps bringing me to Take a Sinner to Church Nights(ever been to one? they're fun, sometimes. and sometimes, somebody looks you in the eye and tells you that you're wrong, just because you don't believe what they do) at her church, hoping it will rub off on me. And in spite of, or maybe because of, the fact that the religion hasn't taken, we have wonderful debates about philosophy and religion and god and the nature of humanity.

And Amy is the one person in the world that I feel like I can say anything to without being judged. She and I have been through a lot together, and if there is anyone in this world that I know unquestionably will love me no matter what, it is her. And the cool thing is, she knows that I return the favor. We can talk on the phone for hours, and we can stay at the local diner nursing a cup of coffee doing the same. She collects funny quotes from her friends (WD-40, tap it like it's rusty!) and writes them down in a book. She's artistic and though she's smart, she works very hard for the good grades she manages to get. Amy is beautiful, in every sense of the word. She was a ballerina up until high school, when she decided to give her art up to have more of a social life. Amy will be getting a communications degree, and I expect her to do on and write wonderful books when she's ready to share them with the world. She's kind and friendly and warm and one of the most genuine people that I know. She's not at all afraid to be who she is and what she is.

These are two of the strong, wonderful women that I've been surrounded with growing up. Looking at it now, I realize that there are a number of extraordinary women that have played a part in my life. It has been a pleasure to grow up with these two, and it warms my heart to know that one day, we will be three old ladies sitting on a porch in our rockers somewhere. Knowing them, loving them, has made me who I am today. Well, okay. They're responsible for the good parts, anyway. There's a small group of us who, growing up, have always felt like a little family, through childhood and adolescence, and now into adulthood. I'll share some stories about the rest of us some other time, but for now, I think it just may be time for me to get to bed. If you'd like to share, though, I'd love to hear about the strong women in your lives.