Saturday, June 16, 2012


My goodness - blogger has a new look and for a minute there I wasn't sure how to create a new post. 

It could also be that I'm a little tired and not thinking clearly - db woke up at 5:30 this morning - feverish, as it turns out - and today was the retirement brunch I organized for my mother here in NYC.  As I said to Todd after it happened, it wasn't too bad given the fact that it was my family.  We're all just extraordinarily awkward with one another most of the time.  Which is strange and exhausting.  Db, however, was a sociable trooper even with a low grade fever and no nap - I was worried she'd melt down at brunch but I think the fever actually took the edge off and she mainly sat quietly playing with her farm animal toys.

Db's mommy phase has reached new and epic proportions.  A few days ago she started spontaneously saying "I love you, Mom"and "Mom, do you love me?" The latter question I attribute to mimicking the last page of the (late, great) Marice Sendek's Bumble-ardy, wherein Bumbary's aunt asks of Bumble-ardy "Oh my little buckaroo, do you love me like I love you?"  (answer: sure I do!) 

Why she calls me "Mom" is beyond me, since we have referred to ourselves as "Mama" and "Dada" from day one.  Perhaps her toddler superpowers allow her to sense (correctly) that I would much prefer to be "Mama."  Oh, well. 

She recently found me attempting to be alone in our bedroom reading (oh, the shame!) Game of Thrones; she promptly located the boxed set of the series, grabbed one, climbed up on the bed with me, sat next to me, stretched out her legs just like my legs were stretched out, opened the book, and declared that we were reading together. 

At the table (or, more accurately, the kitchen island that we use as a table), we have to drink at the same time.  Our conversations consist mainly of her asking me what I have/am doing and then expressing her desire to have/do exactly that. 

So, alternately exhausting and endearing and largely typical toddler behavior.  Stalker behavior too, now that I think about it.

Speaking of toddler behavior, she and I had the first really full blow out tantrum in public experience yesterday.  I was meeting a friend and her daughter downtown and as db and I got off the subway, she let me know that she wanted to go through the rotating exit doors by herself.  The exit doors, being exit doors, do not allow individuals to re-enter, but this point was pretty much lost on db, who immediately went bonkers over not being able to go through the doors "ON MY OWN" (though in the second that I reached for my phone to call my friend to tell her that, owing to extreme toddler behavior, we were going to be late, db made a run for it and very nearly slid through a crack in the between the exit door and the wall, peter-rabbit like).  After several attempts to get her up the stairs and out of the station failed and she was doing a great job keeping other commuters from exiting, I picked her up and carried her out, which filled her with rage and transformed her into a shrieking snot fountain for about fifteen minutes.  As she became calmer, we sat down on a stoop of some fashionable west village brownstone and endured scornful looks from many passers-by.  I hate people.

Meeting the friend and her daughter was nice enough - or I guess it was nice to see db play with a little girl about two years older than her.  She started really playing with other kids on the playground this month, and it's unbearably sweet to watch her testing the waters as a social being.  The ongoing downer thing about meeting this particular friend, however, is that she married someone who works in finance and particularly since we've each had a child and she lives downtown in a probably over a million dollar apartment and has a full time nanny to support her on days when her daughter isn't in her fancy downtown preschool, I have a hard time relating to her.  It's not as though money or related challenges are all that I talk about and I honestly don't think what I'm dealing with here is primarily jealousy, either.  I'm not sure what it is.  I just feel like she moved to a different planet where "problems" entail choosing between private school or two of the best public schools in the city (both of which she's zoned for at million dollar address).  I don't know.  What I do know is every time I see her (which is not too often), I always leave feeling really sad, like the actual friend I knew has been bodysnatched by a lovely but distant alien. 

Anyway.  I'm knitting db a sweater, but I will wait until I've got some photos before I talk about it here.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I need a new knitting project

I think that about sums it up. I killed an hour of time searching patterns on Ravelry and couldn't come up with anything inspiring.

I don't really like knitting socks, though since I don't really mind wearing handknit socks, maybe I should get over it and try starting a new pair. Knitting for db is always fun, but summer is coming and it seems that all the good children's patterns are in Danish, Icelandic, or French.

Hats are fun - and in fact, I just knit this one. Hineri, a free ravelry download. Love it, love the yarn, and maybe if the predicted blizzard actually happens, I will be able to wear it this year. If I knit it again I'll be more careful about not pulling the first cable too tightly - it fits, but let's just say it's good I have a small head.

I used to like knitting myself sweaters, but they all seem to be just not very exciting after they're done, and the fit is often not exactly right - they generally end up feeling not really worth the cost of yarn and labor. I do seem to be much more interested in knitting classic, fairisle-type things lately - there's just a stunning amount of bad design out there on Ravelry and elsewhere. Elizabeth Zimmermann, save us!

Work, db, and Words with Friends also conspire to keep me from knitting - though with work, it's not all bad. I've decided that since I'm not likely to leave my current university before I get tenure and I've done more than enough for tenure, the time has come to read again - the grind of production for teaching and publication has really rendered me a shell of whatever I was before this process started. I spent this afternoon reading the first third of a recent study of the rise of the cult of Hanuman in modern Hinduism and it was so absolutely wonderful to be learning something for a change.

Yeah, I didn't get an offer from either place I gave a talk. At school #1, I was sorry not to get an offer; at school #2, I was not. They were rude and terrible when I was there; rumor has it that it's been declared a failed search and if that's not a sign of a divided and screwed up department and/or university, I don't know what is. They certainly seem to have lived up to their bad reputation!

Though of course I desperately wanted an offer from them so I could leverage a better situation here in NYC, where we remain deeply strapped for cash and barely (not really) able to pay for preschool next year. Db ended up getting into a few places, but after the requisite amount of upper west side parent hand-wringing, we decided to go with the Montessori option.

I was pretty sceptical about Montessori at first, but then I really liked the way that the teachers worked with db when we went for our "audition" and having done a little reading, it also seemed to me that Montessori generally seems to project less parental baggage onto childhood, particularly the idea that kids need to feel "free" and to be "creative" and have "fun." Most people deeply desire some combination of these these things because they feel dehumanized, exhausted, and otherwise gutted by their jobs, and then I think they project their own set of needs onto their thoroughly modern notion of childhood. However, it does seem to me that what db wants more than anything else - including having "fun" - is to feel accomplished, and properly executed Montessori education seems to gives kids structured and valuable opportunities to feel accomplished. I also liked that Montessori classrooms seem to be much more equipped to accommodate kids who want to work alone. Db is not outgoing, and while I of course want her to learn to be friendly with other kids, what I saw happening at the "play-based" preschools was the shy kids getting left out and then having nowhere to go that is primarily designed for solitary play.

Of course, I think that more than anything else, what matters is a good teacher, and of course, that is the one thing that you can't see before you fork over your security deposit.

Oh, yeah. Security deposit. For preschool.

Anyway. How interesting it will be to see all my preschool theories crushed by actual experience!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Which Knitcrit Contemplates Giving Up and Finds Herself Wondering What, Exactly, That Would Look Like

What is wrong with knitcrit? Surely she can't be unhappy about this spectacular sweater, which is all finished but for the blocking and weaving in:

It's the Elizabeth Zimmermann bottom-up sweater from _Knitting Without Tears_ with a yoke design borrowed (and modified a bit) from a ski sweater in _The Opinionated Knitter_. The whole thing was done in Princess, a merino-angora-synthetic blend with great stitch definition. I realized somewhere in the middle of the yoke that I had inadvertently chosen the colors of the Indian flag - so patriotic! - but I think/hope that what the colors will say to the average viewer will be more along the lines of "early spring" - because nothing says spring like a fairisle ski sweater, right? It's for db, and it's big enough so it should last her well into next winter.

And db might need it, because it's possible we'll be living in Montreal. Basically, I went on the job market this year because Todd's been underemployed for several years and we really can't continue being this poor in Manhattan. There are also some issues at my university - a top-down restructuring was pushed through by the a*shole chancellor; what it amounts to is a dumbing down of the general education curriculum in order to boost graduation rates. The restructuring's been savaged in the Chronicle and now some of the junior colleges are just plain old refusing to implement it, which bodes well for us at the senior colleges in the system, but still, overall things are not looking too good for public education in New York City. Ugh.

If only the photo would display properly. Hate blogger. Hate iphone.

So the past three weeks have been consumed with job talks - one at a fancy University in Montreal and the other at an an Ivy League school in Philadelphia. I had less than a week's notice for the Montreal talk and I don't think I did a great job; for the job in Philly I gave a slightly better talk but there are some issues with the school as a whole that make me worry. I don't know. I feel totally spent and somehow sure that neither one is going to translate into an actual offer. I'm trying to be happy and grateful for the opportunities, but really what I feel is tired and mad at myself for not doing a better job, and that combined with garden variety annoyances with Todd and our apartment have conspired to put me in a bad mood.

That and today I got db's first preschool rejection letter, and I know that there's nothing more going on here than a huge number of kids vying for a very limited number of spots, but I was haunted by the fear that this was somehow all My Fault and We Could Have Done Something More. And of course the evolving preschool situation also makes me feel like we can't stay in Manhattan - we can't even really afford any of these freaking preschools unless Todd suddenly manages to get a full-time job - but where would we go? The northern jersey suburbs where we can feel isolated and I can enjoy the hellish commute to Manhattan? Somewhere in Queens where we can feel similarly isolated and the commute would be even worse, not to mention the schools?

Is it ridiculous for someone like me to feel trapped and hopeless? Probably.

On the bright side, the British version of Being Human is pretty good and Todd's making a nice dinner even as I type this grumpy post.