New world

This is probably going to come out sounding ridiculously maudlin or the like, but is there something about the place where you grow up that imprints a particular climate and weather patterns into your bones? I grew up outside of Boston, and New England/northeastern weather still just makes sense to me. I see pictures of winter and I know that winter. I watch TV shows set in NYC in November, and I know those Novembers – I know the feeling of cold air rushing in your nose, the raw cold on your cheeks while your torso is warm, even hot, under your layers of clothing, the look of your breath turning into frost as it hits the air. I know the gray of low-hanging clouds. I know the sloshy dirty puddles of slush pooling in every low part of the path. (I know the peculiarly crisp crunch of snow compressed under your feet when it’s far too cold to melt, too, but mostly I know that from Minnesota, not the northeast.) I know the look of the empty trees, and the riot of pale green when spring comes around again. I know the mosquitos, too, that harass you in summer, as well as the deerflies that used to land on our dogs’ noses. I know summer as hot and humid, broken up by cool gray days when you have to wear long sleeves.

Which is to say that I’m not really sure why I’ve moved to a place where I’m not likely ever to experience those things again. The first day of autumn is Saturday, and my friends in northern climes are talking about breaking out the boots and the sweaters; the high here today was 101 degrees.

I mean, I will adjust; I think the desert is beautiful, and it’s not like you can get both the desert and the deep dark woods together in one place – you have to give up one of those things. There’s a lot to be said for being able to walk out the door most of the year without having to drag on coats and scarves and hats and boots, and for plentiful sunshine, and spectacular sunsets, and eye-searingly bright flowers. I like the mesquite trees that surround our apartment, as well as the butterflies and hummingbirds that live in them. And I hope this doesn’t make me sound too much like an AARP member, but as I get older, I’m less and less interested in dealing with the cold. I miss it in a theoretical way, as a central part of the part of the weather that I grew up considering “normal,” but a little dose goes a long way – I’m happy enough not to spend November through April snowbound (or at least mudbound).

But anyway, here we are. It still feels pretty foreign, but not in a bad way; it’s just not our place yet.

*Well, I won’t miss the mosquitoes, but my luck with the desert has run out: my last two cities were blessedly free of insects, but here I’ve seen a furry brown spider the size of my hand, climbing the wall next to my head, and been told by NLLDH that he’s twice seen what he thinks is a black widow outside our door. I think the brown spider was a giant crab spider and they’re harmless – it was actually gorgeous in its way – but I’ve never been that close to such a large arachnid in real life and the lizard brain took over and I jumped up and down and flailed like a baby.

Saturday night

I’m sitting listening to the rain fall outside my window, which is wide open, as is the door to my balcony. The drought plaguing my state hasn’t broken, but the monsoon has arrived, and the verge between the street and the retaining wall defining the boundary of the apartment complex has changed color, from tawny sand to sagey, silvery green. The desert bushes reach happily to the sky, their long fingery leaves a pale green tinged with blue. I thought summer in the desert would be a burning furnace, but today as most days, as the sun has sunk low, the apartment is filled with a cool breeze. The day began bright blue and gold and clear, so one day offers the best of all worlds.

The physical landscape is what I will miss most about this state. Where I’m going isn’t radically different, but with fewer/smaller trees and more/bigger cacti. The sunsets are supposed to be even more beautiful. My beloved desert cottontails should be there as they are here, although here, my apartment company irrigates the complex, and the the rabbits flock to the green green grass like it’s a Vegas buffet. There, you also get tall, rawboned, long-legged hares, much tougher and meaner looking than the fluffy bunnies I greet when I leave the apartment or return home. It makes me feel like I know somebody here.

My complex overlooks a major north/south road, running along the base of the mountains. A gaggle of motorcycles swoop past my window, roaring and buzzing. They travel in packs, loud and obnoxious and social, enjoying how fast they can go, ripping through the clear evening air, gone before the noise of their exhaust reaches me.


I have this problem: I think every anxiety I have can been soothed by spending money. (That, or by ice cream or cookies or cake, but we’ll leave that to one side for the moment.)

Right now, the big thing I have to obsess about is 1) moving to a new state and 2) starting a new job. We have the apartment, I have a (tentative) start date, but it’s too early to do anything really practical like rent a truck or set up utilities or so on (for various reasons, we can’t confirm the actual move-in date just yet).

So, am I reading up about my new state, researching the local rules for the jurisdiction for my new job, making lists of moving tasks, or sorting through my closet to see if there’s anything I can get rid of rather than pack, or anything similarly productive?

No. Instead, I spend my free time online, shopping for clothes.

For some reason, my subconscious is convinced that if I have the right clothes (for a hot climate/the new job), everything will turn out a-okay. My subconscious doesn’t seem to realize that

1) I currently possess clothes – quite a lot of them, in fact. I am not in any danger of having to go naked.

2) They actually sell clothes in the state to which we’re moving – and even if they didn’t, I will have access there to all the same online stores I have access to now.

3) There will still be sales after we move to the new state.

4) I don’t even know what clothes I’ll need for work; I have no idea what the dress code is like and how often I’ll be in court and so on.

5) Off-work, even if I end up wearing the same 5 tee shirts and 3 pairs of shorts over and over again, the world will not stop spinning.

6) I have a lot of better things to do with my money right now than ravage the sales and sample sale websites.

Nonetheless, my subconscious keeps yelling: I need more suits I need more shirts to wear under suits I need more shoes that are formal enough for court but work in really hot weather I need more shirts I can wear in hot weather I need I need I need I need I need.


(I do this before travel to Europe, too – if I buy ALL THE THINGS, the trip will go well, right??)

Anyone else do this?

Where I spend my time/money these days

I’ve been absent here because I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, not for any reasons worth discussing – they basically boil down to, I’m ready to be done with this job and to start my next one, and I’m REALLY ready to live with LDH again. These things will happen, and I know when they’ll happen, but I kinda hate the feeling of waiting, and wishing for time to go quickly (I dislike wishing my days away on principle, but that’s how I feel right now). I have been knitting quite a lot – the projects are still unfinished, but eh, they’re all fun. This last weekend I started this project in a matte raw silk yarn (not sure how the drop stitches in the skirt will look in this yarn, but I figure if that part doesn’t look right, I’ll just do some regular stockinette. I’m really expecting it to be more of a tunic than a dress, anyway.

dress (mine will be red.)

© Classic Elite Yarns

I have also started this, which will be big and boxy (but hey, that’s back in again) and very casual, but seemed a good use of this linen-cotton yarn I have, variegated in shades from burgundy to purple to navy. I had used a bunch of this yarn in an attempt at a different sweater, and I really like the way it knits up, but realized the sweater (though a cool pattern) was going to be way too short on me (it’s way cropped, and I have a long torso anyway). So weekend before last I unraveled the sweater, wound the yarn into hanks, gave the hanks a soak, and let them dry, so I can reuse them.


© 2006 Oat Couture

I also started this sometime in the last couple of months, but I’m not convinced it’s working for me. It’s a lovely sweater, but it might be a little too close-fitting and minimal. I’m using a gorgeous grass green Madelinetosh yarn, which has just enough mohair to give it a lovely fuzzy halo, but makes it a bit complicated to match to a pattern.


© Tamara Erbacher

And finally, I have been laboring away on this for months, in the most amazing gorgeous variegated yarn in purples, blues, and greens. (It’s going to be a kind of crazy loud sweater, I think.) I’ve made a bunch of changes: the yarn is slightly heavier, I made mine longer (longer even than I’d originally intended, because I made the body the length I intended the whole thing to be, then realized there’s a bottom hem in a different stitch, which added a couple more inches), and my hem and collar are seed stitch, not stockinette (stockinette collars roll back in on themselves and make me NUTS. There’s a reason the model’s holding the bottom of the sweater together). I also added some very very subtle shaping along the side seams, not sure it’s enough even to make a difference, but I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m stuck on the collar right now, because you knit that from the bottom front of one side all the way around the sweater opening down to the bottom front of the other side. And, well, that’s a lot of LONG rows.


(not sure who to credit for this picture but it’s not mine)

What I have learned about myself from these projects is that clearly, I like projects involving miles and miles of stockinette stitch.  I am happy to work through complicated structure (see this sweater, which is constructed all in one piece) but I’m better at keeping track of what increases/decreases to work on what rows, and where to cast on more stitches or bind off stitches, than I am handling any remotely complicated stitch pattern. (I had a go at starting this in the green yarn, but could. not. manage. to keep the yoke pattern going properly. And it’s not even complicated.) This is mostly because I knit in front of the computer/TV/a book, and stockinette is easy to knit without paying close attention. Complex lace patterns, not so much. (The other thing is that while you’re making the object, stockinette looks at least a bit like what it will finally look like, whereas lace looks like a crumpled mess until you’re done with the whole thing and block it – soak it, then stretch it out and pin it to dry, so that the pattern “blooms” properly – and I lose faith during the process.)

Still, I should really find a lace pattern to tackle at some point soon, for the lulz.

So, this is how I spend my weekends. It’s actually pretty satisfying – especially the top two projects, because they use a heavier yarn and so knit up faster, and so I’ve got almost 3/4 of the top of the v-neck dress done already. And unlike so much of what I do, you see results instantly, and you’re making something, something concrete and real and beneficial. The downside is that my wrists are pretty tired, what with the computer-ing all day and then knitting in the evenings and on weekends. Which is probably a good reason to sign off here.

More movement!

We have a place to live!

Despite not having seen the apartment in person, I am REALLY excited about this place:

  • It’s really pretty.
  • It has an upstairs (loft) space (I LOVE having an upstairs).
  • It’s modern without being a cookie-cutter suburban-y large-complex apartment (not knocking these; I live in one now, and it’s very comfortable and unoffensive, but not especially interesting).
  • Lots of light.
  • A wee yard! (Fenced patio, technically, but it’s actually got earth/ground [not grass, because it’s not grass country, but it’s an outdoors!].)
  • There’s pretty landscaping (including trees! and cacti).
  • It’s a 10-minute drive from my workplace.
  • It’s right near bike paths.
  • It just looks exactly like the kind of place we would live in and like to own.

AND it comes with a former blogger friend [formerly a blogger, not formerly a friend] as a neighbor! (This one.) Said former blogger teaches at the university in town, and when I asked her about places to live, she gave me some general suggestions, as well as a link to where she lived – which she said she LOVED and was in a great quirky neighborhood, close to everything yet quiet and secluded. And LDH and I realized we’d seen (and admired) the website for those apartments before. And then I was browsing Craigslist and saw a new posting for an opening in these apartments for August. And the rest is history…

I mean, nothing is absolutely perfect; it’s a little more in rent than we’d hoped to pay (not strictly more than we can afford, but more than we’d been hoping for), and I’m a little dubious about the closet situation and where exactly we’re going to put the catbox (there’s lots of room for the catbox, but it’s a very open-space kind of place, when I’d really love some kind of closet/cubby/niche in which to hide said item). But most of the rentals this close to downtown — that we could easily identify coming from out of town — were either in very student-y places, or were houses that were too big/too expensive/too rundown. Then there were generic-“luxury”-but-comfortable modern complexes, but they were mostly 30 mins from work (I have basically a 30-min commute right now and while I don’t like living exactly where I work, it’s a bit of a hassle), and I also didn’t want LDH to feel isolated so far from downtown/the university where he’s likely to be job-hunting. So we felt the extra cost was worth having a place that we really liked, that felt like us.

And honestly, it’s a huge relief to have found this place, and I’m much more excited about the move than I was.

(Of course, now I want to buy things to decorate/furnish said apartment – particularly area rugs and a small dining/kitchen table/chairs; thankfully there is an IKEA under 2 hours away, so I think cheap and cheerful, slowly acquired, will be the way to go. I mean, in an ideal universe I’d win the lottery and be able to buy a new sofa, chairs, and mattress, but I’m not holding my breath on that one. But your favorite ideas for cheap ways to make an apartment amazing are always welcome!)

Oooh, movement!

Heard back about a potential start date! Which is later than I had expected. (Way to write an ambiguous offer letter, U.S. government!) But that’s actually okay because it means I might actually – gasp – get a vacation between jobs? It looks like there will at least a month between my end date here and start date there – and okay, we’ll have to pack and move two apartments into one during that month – but it would be AWFULLY nice not to be working at the same time! I’m thinking it might just be worth it to pay for a month’s worth of COBRA, and actually relax for a wee bit? Maybe?

At times I freak out

Over a variety of things. Usually late at night. Which is really just one of many signs from the universe that I should go to be earlier, but that would be far too sensible.

In any case, my current freakout centers on the job I’m supposed to start in the fall:

  • When will I start? I don’t know. The background check appears to be ongoing. (I’ve been interviewed twice by the FBI; they had to come back the second time because they forgot to ask me four questions the first time – yes or no questions, mind you – and the questions must be asked face to face. The interviewers have been incredibly nice but I got the tiniest inkling of how someone could falsely confess under interrogation; I’d get asked about use of illegal drugs, or abuse of prescription drugs, and say, “No,” which is true, because I have lived a very sedate life. And yet there was a little voice in my head saying, I don’t THINK I’ve ever abused prescription drugs. I had that Vicodin when I got my gall bladder out – am I SURE I didn’t do anything I shouldn’t with that?) Also, I would imagine that if my job had vanished with the sequester I would have heard by now, but still, if one is looking to freak out, one can always find reasons…
  • Where will we live? I don’t know that, either. LDH and I went to New Job Town for a long weekend, which we spent with a little sightseeing and a lot of just driving around to get a sense of where everything is. (We also drove past the building where I’ll work, repeatedly, which I enjoyed. I may have even said, “That’s where I’m going to work!” every time. Poor LDH.) We stayed at a casino hotel where everyone was incredibly nice, and we ate a bunch of good food. We also found neighborhoods that we liked. However, a lot of the neighborhoods we liked best were all single-family homes, which would be great if we were buying, but we’re not; and of course the ones closest to work/downtown that we liked were more expensive, and the neighborhoods with more modern apartments and more reasonable prices are much further out. So while we’re more informed, the trip didn’t provide any easy answers.
  • What will LDH do? Also an unknown. He’s applied for a couple of jobs at the university in town, had an interview, but nothing has come through so far. I don’t know exactly how he’s job searching, in part because we don’t live in the same place right now, and in part because it’s not my place to nag him about what he’s doing and whether he’s applying for stuff. (I wouldn’t be the one doing the job; he has to decide what he is or isn’t willing/interested in doing.) He has said that if he doesn’t get anything, he will be a house-husband – cook, clean, shop, do laundry; I will have to do nothing but go off to work with a packed lunch each day, and come home to workout, watch tv, and knit. I’m sure he would do a lovely job (it’s not like I’m any good at housekeeping or cooking). But the closer we get to this scenario, the more it freaks me out: when I was figuring out possible career paths and whatnot, I never even considered being the sole bread-winner, and my salary isn’t bad but it’s not spectacular. Admittedly, it’s close to what LDH made all through me being in law school, when I wasn’t working, but I did borrow a wee bit more money than what I needed for tuition, to give us a cushion. I think New Job City has a lower COL than where LDH lives, but I don’t know that it’s enough lower to make up for that cushion (especially since moving is always expensive). And apart from the money, LDH has become well-known in relevant professional circles in his current city, and I worry about him moving to a new city with without getting a job, and not having anything work-like to do, and and and and arghhhhhh.

So, there you go. Change is good, but even good change is stressful. One of the government divisions where I interned during law school advertised for an entry-level lawyer just recently, and oh, it would be so nice just to move back to LDH city, work there doing the very straightforward work that job would entail (rather than the fairly unfamiliar and intimidating work of the new job, which is a whole other issue), living in the city that I love with a husband who’s also employed. But then, part of the reason LDH is so willing to move is that he would really like to leave his job, for a whole variety of reasons, and he doesn’t think he’d have a better chance of getting anything in his current city than he would getting something in our new city. (The irony is that since he knows he’s got an end date, I think the situation at work has improved in some ways, because he doesn’t care any more. But that’s a little unfair, as I know he also feels he’s just marking time till we move. Whenever that will be.)

Also, I really hope I like New Job City. I really like where I live now, and I really really love Law School City (LDH’s current city). New Job City felt a bit like where I live now, crossed with elements of California. But it gets really hot there. And sometimes this transplanted New Englander looks round at the mountains and deserts and so on and thinks, How the hell did I end up HERE??

So. Time to go to bed, to experience my regularly-scheduled freakout before I fall asleep.

Fun with languages

Tonight in Spanish class, one of my classmates asked the teacher to explain the difference between muy and mucho. Which the teacher did. And then I asked, “And what about the difference between mucho and molto?” And the teacher looks at me like I’m nuts and says, “There is no molto. That’s Italian.”

So I guess this means my strategy of picking an Italian word and pronouncing it with a Spanish accent isn’t really working.

Also, I’ve never been able to remember as many French words as when I’m trying to speak Spanish.

Today I was reminded

How much better getting work done feels than not getting work done. That’s a pretty obvious lesson, but it’s one that apparently I need to remind myself of every so often. I need to remember that effort/tedium/boredom are still better than guilt. Any ideas on how to keep that fresh in one’s mind?

(It’s kind of like the “exercise feels better than sitting around putting off exercise” lesson, except that today, after I’d been sitting around enough to feel stiff and creaky, I went for a walk/run and now my legs are killing me. Oops. At least I exchanged one form of discomfort for a slightly better form of discomfort?)

Is this thing still on?

/blows dust off keyboard

Hey all! Hope all is well. Still here. I've developed terrible sleeping/exercise habits (not doing enough of either), so I will skip trying to be articulate, and give you a few pics representing the last few weeks.

1. These are the flowers LDH sent me at work today (for Valentine's Day, which happens to be the 20th anniversary of when we first got together) (goddamn I'm old). They are all those crazy colors because neither of us are really red-roses-on-Valentine's-Day kind of people; they're intended as sort of anti-Valentine's Day roses. He also liked that they're basically pride roses. On the one hand, they're kinda like clown vomit. On the other, they actually are really cool to look at – every petal is a different (and never seen in nature) color. 


2. This is the sweater I made!! That fits me! And looks like a sweater! Okay, it's not the world's most flattering thing on; the lapels curl (they're pinned flat in the picture), and because it's cotton, it's a little bulky/heavy. But I've certainly owned uglier clothing. And it is really comfortable, and it's identifiably a sweater, so I consider it a win.


3. This is our new kitty! Our vets suckered us into adopting her. She's got three legs (one of the vet techs found her south of LDH's city, in a ditch having been hit by a car, and convinced one of our vets to take her in and give her medical care). So now our household is truly the land of misfit toys. As you can see, she likes catnip.