knitting and the life I almost have around it

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Welcome to High School

As I’m sure I've mentioned on this blog before: I don't really 'get' girls.

I grew up with boys and really didn’t have to deal with any girls on a regular basis until primary school. This came as something as a shock to the system. There were bizarre power games, manipulations, bitching, put-downs, theft of intellectual property... and these were from my friends! By the end of year 6 I gave up on being in the cool group and just pissed off. I spent my lunchtimes volunteering in the school's Special Education Unit. I read every book in the school library that wasn't about trucks or dinosaurs. I knitted through recess. I was teased without mercy, but suddenly I didn't care: for one thing, the people teasing me were no longer pretending to be my friends.

With a certain amount of naiveté I began High School. In some respects I think I started a little ahead of the game. After putting up with crap from my 'best friends' for years I'd pretty much come to conclusion that if someone didn’t like me it was their own problem and I didn't need to knock myself out trying to please them.

On the other hand, I went in with the expectation that everyone should have grown out of it by now. Fair to say: silly error of judgement.
Don't get me wrong: I still have some female friends whom I met in High School and they are gorgeous people I wouldn't trade for anything. But there was a hell of a lot of crap that went on. Mostly to do with the notion of popularity and the desire to get it.

One event really stands out for me. A girl moved to our school from NZ at some point and was sort of quiet and dorky and desperately awkward. She was fairly universally shunned but my little group of friends and I adopted her. This was partly because we were the 'geeks' and basically the bottom of the food chain and also because I think we all felt genuinely bad for her. I'll call her M.
M took a little while to come out of her shell, but after a month or so she really blossomed. As a fairly confident person (and someone who moved around the different cliques a fair bit) it often came down to me to organise 'us' and M suddenly became very friendly. Everything I did was 'so clever', I was 'so pretty', an 'artistic genius'. If I was planning to do something, M was planning to do it to. To be honest I found this weird and kind of creepy, but figured it was just her way and she was obviously trying to be nice.
One afternoon when I was doing my rounds of the other groups of friends and acquaintances, M attached herself to me. And suddenly I realised what she was doing.
Thinking back, I still find it hard to believe some of the things she said and did, the lies she told, the... ham-iness of the whole thing. This girl was the biggest social climber I have ever met. She clung to me until she had established herself as at least as cool as I was and then moved on to the next cool-er person.
The thing that really drove me crazy was that no-one else could see it. Not until they'd been left behind, anyway. Because as long as you had something she wanted, namely: the phone number of Cooly McTrendsetter or an invitation to The Party or intimate knowledge of Hot Russel's taste in music she was ridiculously and convincingly nice to you.

I got pretty bored with M and while she still swung in and out of our group, I paid very little attention to her. I am a confronter at the heart of me, and it took me a good deal of deep breathing to get to a place where I could just let her be.

The final straw was the last year of High School. My birthday and M's are a week apart and I (as usual) left my planning til the last minute. I was in the process of working out a weekend when it suddenly occurred to me that I ought to check with M so that we didn't book up the same day (we were still friends, I just refused to be engaged in so much of her... look-at-me anymore). I called her and her mother answered the phone. It was quite noisy.

M was having her birthday party. I was maybe a little offended but thought little of it until Monday - after all, she had a fairly extensive social group now and I had no idea who was there. For all I knew it was a family thing, because she had a lot of cousins.

On Monday at school, however, it became apparent that M had invited everyone in our group except for me and another girl (who had disagreed with M's politics the week before). The group was irrevocably divided by this: some of the invitees asked us where we had been, some clearly knew we hadn't been invited and couldn't decide who was at fault (had we picked a fight or was this M being a bitch?) and the other girl and I were livid.

The party wasn't the issue. It was the blatant disregard for the wellbeing of the group. Many excuses were thrown around; "assumed you would be too busy", "never occurred that you'd be interested", "didn't realise you were friends with X,Y, and Z too" but neither of us ever bought it. And the group was never quite the same. Those girls who had gone without knowing about the whole exclusivity were put into impossible situations, particularly as M couldn't let an opportunity to brag about the awesome-ness of the party go. EVER.

I still wonder what her object was: it had to be obvious that this would cause people to be hurt, offended, embarrassed and angry.

This two-faced-ness is one of the things I have always found difficult with other girls. By and large, men don't say they like you if they don't. Unless they are trying to sell you something, they aren't overly nice to you if they don’t like you. Men don't tell you your haircut looks great and then say you're out of your mind as soon as you've left. And they don't have boys night's out and leave behind a couple of blokes for no apparent reason.

The reason I mention this all is that I have yet again been reminded of my own naiveté. I've left High School, College, and Uni and out in the Real World, in the Work Force, I guess I didn't expect there to be any M s left. Over the last couple of months there have been people in my life who have done things that are increasingly insensitive, all the way to down-right bitchy. Now, I know that there are bastards everywhere, in every profession, Hell, some days it's all you can do not to trip over them. But I thought I was past having to watch out for my mates.

Since I am increasingly reminded that some of us never left High School, I thought it was time someone offered a survival guide for this old-new world. Just in case you feel yourself being sucked in.

  1. Sitting with the 'cool kids' is not something you can put on your resume. Do you remember what happened to the popular, well-dressed and achingly beautiful people after High School? They dropped out, had eating disorders, died in car accidents, OD-ed, had four babies before they were 20, got herpes, got depressed and committed suicide. A few got out too. I ran into a girl I went to High School with a couple of months ago and we ended up having coffee. "Oh my God" she said when school came up "I was such a dick-head!". Quite.
  2. You are never going to be the most beautiful/best dressed/best dancer/best knitter/most popular/coolest etc etc etc ad infinitum. People were better than you for years before you were born and will be better than you for years after you're dead. If you really want to be remembered for something worthwhile (and apologies if I sound like Dr Phil) then try being the best you. The time Cooly McTrendsetter (name changed to protect the guilty) deigned to speak to me in food tech will be forever overshadowed by the note someone slipped into my locker "It's all going to be ok", though the former was the talk in the girls change-room for weeks. (Here's a tip: truly generous, caring people don't feel the need to tell everyone how generous and caring they have been. And sending a gift to Nicole Kidman in the hope that she mentions you in a press release is hardly altruism).
  3. Don't hang your sense of self-worth on being the most beautiful/best dressed/best dancer/best knitter/most popular/coolest etc etc etc ad infinitum. Beauty fades, fashions change, ankles snap, yarns won't frog, people get bored etc. However, if you want to aim for a sure-fire way of spending the next thirty years in a perpetual state of misery, desperation and self-loathing then go right ahead. But there are much nicer ways to go through life.
  4. You can't be popular and well-liked. The concept of popularity and celebrity basically requires a small group of people to be held above everyone else. If you are not a film star or a Nobel Prize winning geneticist, then creating your very own small group above everyone else is a pretty quick way to piss off everyone you do not choose to include in your celebrity group. Think Paris Hilton: talent-less, boring, irritating, tasteless biddy who only makes the news because she damn well makes sure she does. If we place next to her someone who has actually earned her celebrity (you know, by doing something well and being generally gracious and human) like Kate Winslet, Paris looks so cheap and nasty and desperately look-at-me that it's a wonder anyone likes her. Why would anyone aim for this sort of celebrity?
  5. You can't please everyone. That said, when it comes down to choices, you're better of trying to please the people who rally around when it all goes to crap. When it comes right down to it, it won't be Mischa Barton showing up at your doorstep with a casserole dish because she thought this week had been a bit much for you.
  6. Groups of women are delicate things. It is unreasonable to move into an office, befriend everyone and then start excluding people left, right and centre. You don't have to like everyone, but if you are all in the same group (and within earshot) then not including Josie from the desk in the corner in morning tea is guaranteeing yourself a tense and unhappy work environment. Having a group of women who work well together and enjoy each other's company is a precious thing and needs to be nurtured. If you don't like someone, just lump it for the good of the group. I'm sure someone lumps you (see point 5).
  7. If you are going to be exclusive and have your own little Special Parties, keep it to yourself. It's fairly rude to tell everyone about how great the thing they weren't invited to was. Particularly if they are your friends/colleagues/cubical buddies. If it was great, then great. Does it only feel great if you get to broadcast it?
  8. If you are not a celebrity now then you probably won't ever be one. Don't knock yourself out about it. Do you really want to go down in history as that chick who pashed her brother? Honestly. Think about the poor hapless creatures who emerge from the Big Brother house, desperately trying to cling to fame, open a supermarket, "look, I left my knickers at home LOVE ME!!!!” This is not something to aspire to.
  9. Do what you need to do to keep yourself sane (see entire post). Stewing over things does not help. Get it out of your system, say what you need to say and move on.
  10. When all else fails, there's always yarn.

Some of you might know what I'm getting at here. I realise these things are often split-second decisions and it's not til afterwards you realise you built your house in a swamp. But having the grace to admit that you made a mistake is just as good as having the foresight to not make a mistake in the first place. And despite all the pitfalls of women, chances are these people are your friends.

We're in this together, and in order to successfully graduate from High School dramas we all need to listen, think and apologise when we have to.

It's the grown up thing to do.

Ms Spider


Friday, March 21, 2008

Mum's the word

So Mum's birthday arrived on Wednesday. Unfortunately she was wearing quite the Wrong Thing for an adequate fashion shoot so it had to wait til yesterday.

She LOVES it. Besides kids clothes she's never been able to buy clothes that fit properly - they hang over her wrist or the buttons says "Just 4 Kids" or something like that. It's challenging to be a midget these days, particulary as now all the kids clothes are mini-hooker style and that is so not my Mum. (She isn't really a Little Person, she's just my mini-mum - get it? She's about 148cm tall, 45kg or so... about a size 6 or 8.)
I think this is probably one of the nicest things I've ever made. The yarn is just amazing and because it was for someone else I was fairly ruthless and ripped back stuff that wouldn't have bothered me if it was for me.

Anyway, I have some knitting to do! Happy Easter!
Peace out,
Ms Spider xo

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

as I said...

the finished cardi
and a detail of the shoulder and right front.


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I'm a good girl, I am

Up until yesterday, the Minimalist Cardigan for Mum's birthday looked like this (sorry, ravelry link):And as of about 9am today it looks like this too:
Please note the hand-dyed yarn i managed to get to the other morning. I feel so productive!

Mum's birthday is on Wednesday so it was a close-run thing. Possibly helped by the amount of marking i need to do: who says procrastination is a bad thing? I must admit, I was worried I wouldn't make it. All that double moss was making me batty. I love the fabric of moss or double moss stitch but I am bored to tears knitting the stuff.
I did quite well in terms of yarn. We bought 12 balls to be safe, although my mother is pixie-sized. She doesnt like things to be too close-fitting so we went with the smallest size which left her with plenty of ease. I made the body a few inches longer for her because that's where she likes them and instead of 3/4 length sleeves i made full length ones. I still have roughly four balls left.
Don't tell Mum, I'm sure she'll decide she needs matching cashmere socks.

Ok, off to finish marking, hoping to see lots of ladies at SnB this arvo. and you know what...? I dont think i have a project! :O

Peace out
Ms Spider xo

ETA: Yes, it was Lord of the Flies. One of my favourite books of all time and creepy as hell. all those who guessed correctly win 5 points, redeemable at any points-for-karma type shopfront.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

this way madness lies

my friends, I have to tell you: I am wreckage. I have 2 1/2 days of anti-biotics left and i'm still coughing my lungs up hourly. I've been back at school for the last three days and i'm SO behind. I mean, my classes are fine and everything but i've done nowhere near the amount of marking i wanted to have done by now. Is making me crazy.
So tonight i am at home, marking essay drafts which i will return to my kids at the Swimming Carnival tomorrow. Marking essay drafts is not a sanity-forward type activity.

I am not a fan of the whole sports carnival thing. When i was at school as a student i was always a conscientious objector. As a teacher, that doesnt go down so well. So i've nominated myself for patrol of my house area. Apparently this is a crappy job, but i quite like playground duty and i dont want to encourage the kids to feel crappy by being a judge. yech.

and before you ask, there is no way in hell that i am going swimming. I do not need my students to see my cellulite, thankyou so very much!

A few people have asked recently exactly how big the stash is. After recent binge-ful events there has definitely been some stash explosion. It may have tripled.

This is my yarn room, also known as the spare room (if Monkey is in ear-shot) or Vic's room (during the reign of terror). Those two boxes contain sweater quantities of yarn that are not in original packets. Is that weird? Plastic bags just dont stack the same way, and they dont make zip-locks big enough. The two baskets in the background contain happyspider hand-dyed and spun for the obdm wool day this year :D
This is the cupboard that was the wardrobe in this room. You will notice large quantities of woolbale (which i am a fan of) and merino spun, also lots of pale yarn for dyeing. there is also spinning fibre and assorted odd-balls.
This is my cupboard in the office. See what I'm saying about yarn packets stacking so nicely? This is my pride-ful cupboard, containing all the yarn i want on hand to inspire me. left to right, top to bottom by stack. Top-ish shelf: Anchor Magicline cotton and some Katia Arc en Ciel; 4 packs of Zara and 1 pack of Me, 2 packs 8ply cotton, 3 packs Patons Dreamtime, 1 pack merino et soie, a few straggling balls of Me for Mum's cardi, some white moda vera bamboo/cotton; 7 packets of Zhivago.
Middle-ish Shelf: 7 packets of Jet; 2 packs white Inca 3 packs machinewash 8ply, 1 pack machinewash 5ply; 5 packs cleackheaton country, 1 pack white Inca; 2 packs of cleackheaton country 12ply.
Bottom shelf: basket of handspun and some cotone; moda vera supremo, paul and harmony; moda vera paul, katia espiga and moda vera merinos wool acrylic; 6 packets of harvest 8ply.
Tubs underneath - sock yarn, laceweight and odd balls.

none of this covers the stuff i intend to sell on or dispose of somehow. There are five giant boxes in the living room that are either being listed on my ravelry sell page or else i might cave in to eBay again soon. If only to get my living room back.
now that my full sickness is displayed I feel somehow less dirty. So I am cleansed - at least til the next binge.

I leave you with a few thoughts from some essay drafts I am marking (five points if you can tell me what the novel is):

"Ralph, as a head, is very calm at the beginning of the book."

"If and when they are broken or are not followed, the society will most likely fall and crumble and people will go their separate ways which does not do well in trying to achieve one amalgamated group."

"Jack would rather have stayed on the island as long as he got his protein."

Think calm, well structured, grammatically correct and sane thoughts for me...

Peace out,
Ms Spider

PS. How unfair is it that my house colour is yellow? i own no clothing that colour, precisely because it looks awful on me!

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008


So I went to work on Tuesday.
This was apparently a Very Stupid Thing. I am now worse. I have not stopped coughing for 24 hours. and yes, this made sleep awkward, nay, impossible.
my throat hurts, my lungs are crackling and squeaking and wheezing and every single cough hurts my whole body - clearly i am too flabby for tummy-crunches, even sickness induced ones.
cough lollies arent working, cold and flu tablets aren't working, even the ridiculous size of my stash (all of a sudden) hasn't helped.
I think it's bronchitis or pneumonia. the earliest appointment i could get is tomorrow afternoon and if i havent ripped out and eaten my own liver by then through sheer frustration then i think i'll have done well.
Yeah, sleep deprivation makes me cranky. sorry guys.

the last of the stash arrived on monday and tuesday. There is a lot of crap, as was expected, but i did well too. lots of sweater quantities of 8ply in colours i can wear, 6 packets of Jet, 4 packets of Merino Spun... lots. Anyone who looks at friends activities on Ravelry has every right to be shocked. I'm trying to feel guilty, really. But it's just... i was looking through some old knitting mags today and i realised - i have the yarn to make every thing i like in this stack. I can even choose the colour! pretty happy about it :)

I'm not going to post pics... yet. if you need a shock you can go see my flickr account... that's where new stash starts and if you work back to page one you'll see the recent uploads. this may take a while.

I dont think i got tagged but everyone's doing it so i'm going to.

7 Things
1. I am apparently wired so i really get a buzz off full packets of yarn. You know, the original manufacturers bags with 12 in them, all neat and dust-free... goosebump. Even the ickier novelty yarns... that new bag thing. sick.
2. I love teaching essay writing. Well, essay argument planning. I think that too many teachers do it in a really painful dry way and i love getting up there and scribbling all over the board and arguing about which episode of the Simpsons we can use to exemplify Homer's abusive behaviour, etc.
3. I am really driven to squeeze blackheads and pimples. and i dont get that many. I find it really distracting if i'm talking to someone with a blackhead on their nose... and usually it's not because i'm grossed out and i want it to go away... i just want to squeeze it. Pity my Monkey.
4. I like the smell when you strike a match.
5. I've never smoked anything - except when i was 6 and i rolled a gum leaf up in a piece of newspaper... this may be WHY i have never been driven to smoke since.
6. Despite now having several very good female friends who i adore, i don't understand women. I find it very hard to figure out what is expected of me... men are simpler really. So i often come across as aloof, bored or kind of... conceited i guess, when really i just feel awkward.
7. I don't drive (see previous post).

ok. brain dead now. am going to try to sleep semi-upright on the couch to help with the coughing. grump grump grump

Ms Spider

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

the weekend just 'flu by

So, yes, full-blown, two-days-of-fever, chills-and-aches, cough-your-lungs-up flu hit me on friday. Awesome! I made it to work and through roll call... and managed to hang around for about 40 minutes before my denial was overtaken by the realisation that the fever was causing me to lose split-seconds of consciousnous and that even sitting hurt because the chair had to actually touch me and everything hurt.
So i went home. Didn't think about a taxi until after I'd been sitting at a bus-stop in the wind for 20 minutes... and Monkey called and said "why the hell are you catching a bus????" (I did mention that stupidity was a symptom of flu, right?)

The rest of the day is a little blurry, but i do remember the phone call from the vet, letting me know that (despite getting three people to sex him on two different occasions) Winston is a girl-bunny. And we're bloody lucky she wasnt up the duff.
So. My buns are now desexed and not as homosexual as i thought. I had always thought Winnie (now Winifred, Duchess of Cardigan) had a pretty face, but Monkey is now overwhelmed by how female she looks. Perception is a funny thing.
They are healing up nicely, and apart from blatant chair theft when the sun is in the right spot, we've been having a nice time recovering together.

Yesterday Monkey went out for the second Saturday in a row to go car shopping. And came home in this. I am very pleased with him. It is a Toyoto Corolla Seca (i really wanted to type Toyota Shmenennne Haanneennaane but thought it would increase the dopiness of the thing I'm about to say) and it's RED. I SO need a matching sweater... not that it's my colour. I already have matching shoes.... For those of you who don't already know: i don't drive. After years of freak outs I've finally narrowed it down to this. I get many migraines and the bit before where you get all dizzy and half blind and your depth perception completely vanishes... happens to me two or three times a week with no warning. I bump into people and objects, but the idea of this happening while behind a wheel scares the bejeezus out of me... i used to call this a phobia but i dont actually think it's irrational. So now i'm trying telling people the whole story for a while. it has nothing to do with being too lazy to get my licence. It is a quality of life issue. This said, Monkey does most of the driving for us (i am including in the list of drivers, not me, but our parents and friends). I do however share petrol costs and am splitting the costs involved in the new car. It is our car. I just won't be driving it anytime soon.

(apologies for that long explanation, I've been copping it about the not driving thing since i was about 12 - grew up on a farm and that was when Dad taught me but i was never comfortable - and i just wanted all the facts out there so if anyone decides to give me a hard time about it at least i can't argue that you didnt have all the facts)

((Also. I may be feeling a lot better, I am however still coughing every three minutes and have only just got my voice back so i'm taking a day off. The rant was a giveaway, right?))

The other thing i did this weekend (in between comas) was finish knitting and seam my Origami Cardi. Excuse the three days of 'flu and two days without washed hair-ness of the pic, excitement was not to be overcome by vanity. Anyone who is looking here to see how i look rather than my knitting will like me even more for looking bad... right? Nothing like someone else looking a mess to make you feel chic?Anyway. I used Totem in 4239 (i think, Monty keeps eating my ball bands). I used just under 10 balls but it was close and i had to knit the sleeves to 15 inches before decreasing instead of 18. They dont seem a bad length - i would block them longer but it would make the pattern-stitch mismatched. Like most people say, the back is a little odd. I don't mind the length, i think it's the unfinished feeling the sides have that bothers me. I do like it though, it's a cute pattern, quite fun and sensational yarn. I will wear it heaps teaching, it's exactly the kind of layering i need nearly all year.

I feel like i've forgotten to say something very important. I really felt like i was dying on friday, that weird chills, jelly, shake thing that feels like just maybe you're having a heart attack... so maybe that impressed on my mind that i had left so many things unsaid?

ah well, c'est la vie (and tomorrow, c'est la sick day, so if i remember....)

Peace out
Ms Spider xo

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