Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where they are found...

Ubi Caritas
Et Amor
Deus Ibi Est

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Festival of Lights!

I love this time of year <3. I am a total and complete Christmas nut. Also, a shoutout to my Jewish readers...Chanukah began about an hour ago! In honor of the Festival of Lights, I bring you my family's ridiculous light display:
Curse of the Ice Queen from John Oleinik on Vimeo.

Yes, that is our house. And yes, my brother and father have been working on those for the better part of four months. My older brother, who we shall refer to as "Captain Sparkles", is a pyrothechnic (please note that there is a big difference between a pyroTECHNIC and pyroMANIAC), and he found that he could use the same software that helps him choreograph firework shows for Christmas Lights.

Sugar Plum Groove - MX47 from John Oleinik on Vimeo.


Hense, the ridiculous display that (miraculously!) our neighborhood adores and would go at us with torches and pitchforks if we don't do it every year.

My family...is so weird. But I love them all so much <3

Friday, December 2, 2011

Insert Punchline

Good Morning Readers!

Today, the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Contest will take place in Seattle in front of the Westlake Center. I am directing a group of singing lawyers/administrative staff in this contest!

No, there is no punchline.

We will be raising funds for the Pike Place Senior Center, which provides services to low income seniors in Seattle! If any of you reading this are in the Seattle area, come on down and revel in the holiday cheer!

The preshow starts at 5:00, we sing "streetcorner style" from 6-7ish, and the winners will be announced around 8!


<3

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Butter to my Bread and Breath to my Living

The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.
-- Pope St. Gregory the Great

My dear Readers,

I have to admit it. During the past couple of months, I've been a Class A Whiney-Butt (what with getting sick over Halloween, putting a ton of work into my lace mountain only to have a precious few things sell, and my vertigo/insomnia coming back with a vengeance), but when it comes down to it, I just need to put on my Big Girl panties and deal with the trivial issues that come my way (Halloween comes every year, I can use the snowflakes and lace for all sorts of stuff, and my vertigo, even at its worst, at least has some entertainment value. I can sit on my bed, tilt my head back and pretend I'm on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride).

Even though it has been a bit tough, I can still look back and say that these past two years have been the happiest of my adult life.

I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that God has constantly been there, holding my safety net as I balance on the never-ending high wire that is my life. It's fair to say that I've been going through one of Screwtape's "Troughs" (anyone who has read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis knows what that is), but even so, compared to my college days and childhood, I'm feeling closer to my Lord and Savior now than I ever have. 

God has blessed me in so many ways. I know that I have MASTERED the art of complaining. But when I take time to reflect, meditate, and spend some time with Christ, I can't help but shrink a little and blush in embarrassment at the spoiled and childlike thoughts that go through my head.

I have absolutely NO reason to complain. God has given me a family who will love me and support me no matter what, the very BEST education that a person could ever ask for, and a wonderfully eclectic mix of life experiences that have shaped me, tested me, and given me the knowledge and wisdom to live my life to the fullest and help others.

God has lead me to a job that I LOVE, and I am surrounded by people who I am PROUD to know.

God has seen to it that I have a roof over my head, good food in my stomach, and has generally filled me up with good things.

Mary's Magnificat comes to mind: (Luke 1:46-55)

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
For he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from this day all generations will call me blessed;
For the mighty one has done great things to me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts;
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the holy;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed forever
God has showered me with gifts and blessings beyond imagination. However, one of the greatest gifts God has given me (Aside from his Son, the Earth, and the human brain the frontal and parietal lobes, specifically), is my wonderful boyfriend John.

John, at first glance, seems to be everything that I am NOT. He's tall, I'm short. He's more reserved, I'm more of a loudmouth. He's more introverted, I'm a bit more extroverted.

And yes, Readers...John is an Atheist/Agnostic. I am a Christian.

Happily, though, it is because of these differences that we seem to EXCEL in meeting each other's needs in this relationship.

I have a habit of ranting. When I get upset, I have this need to grab whoever is handy and let them know each and every thought that goes through my head. But luckily for me, John is there, and will always acknowledge, listen, and advise without being patronizing, arrogant or judgemental.

John often feels like he needs to be my protector/bodyguard. And there are many times when I feel fragile, vulnerable and scared. He has told me that when he cares about something, he feels the need to protect it. God knows that John has always been there to protect me and make me feel safe and secure.

John loves going out and trying new and crazy things. While I am a bit more of an extrovert, I tend to get nervous at the thought of leaving my comfort zone. John has introduced me and encouraged me to discover Thai cooking, tofu, painting (acrylics and oils), H.P. Lovecraft,  jogging, FLCL and other forms of insane anime, clamming, Italian slush, and the occasional (VERY occasional) hookah (I VERY rarely smoke, its bad on the voche).

Looking back on all of the relationships I've been in, I can't help but smile at the beautiful irony this one brings. It is through John, an Atheist (who, while always respectful and sensitive to my faith, will always let his truthful opinion be known if asked), that I feel I have found my true relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ. 

The reason, Readers? 

The love that John has for me (and I for him) is a direct reflection of the love my Lord and Savior has for me and the rest of humanity. 

I've written before that John has opened my eyes to how a woman should be treated in romance. But it's more, SO much more, than just opening doors, offering his arm, holding my hand as we walk though the park, and being there when I need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.

John is the first man I've dated who honestly, HONESTLY loves me for being nothing but my true, authentic self. Just as God does.

John has taken the time to learn as much as he can about me. He asks me questions. He makes observations. And he notices things, the smallest details, habits and nuances that set me apart from everyone else.

Readers, an example:

A few months after we started officially dating, I was in a silly romantic mood and asked John what it was that first physically attracted him to me. He replied,

"Well, I'd have to say that it was your shoulders. More specifically, Sweetie, the way you hold yourself when you look backwards at someone or something. It's graceful."

He then proceeded to happily demonstrate this pose in his sketchbook, taking care to accurately portray my slightly uneven eyebrows and pug (John refers to it as a "pixie") nose.

There are times when we'll be at my apartment watching reruns, sitting next to each other on the couch, silently. I'll be crocheting/knitting/what have you, and John will usually be sketching his next painting concept or comic idea in his sketchpad. As I'm working, there are times when I'll feel John's hand over mine. He will take my hand in his, position it, look at it, closely, with the keen eyes of the wonderful artist he is, and then sketch it as a reference.

Makes me think of how God must have keenly observed every detail of every person, thing and creature that he created as he was making the Earth.

Yes, Readers, it is true. I am in love with an Atheist. However, this Atheist has helped bring me closer to God than I ever have been in my memory.

John is the butter to my bread. The cheese to my macaroni.

Just as God is the breath to my life.

Readers,

If there is one thing that I can take from all of this, its that God likes to mix things up. We learn things from unexpected circumstances. We find joy and happiness in the most unfamiliar places.

God sent John to me so that I can learn what true love is. What God's love is.

So no, Readers. There is no reason for me to complain. God has filled me, this scatterbrained, implusive, unorganized handmaiden, with every wonderful thing I can possibly ever need.

And by God, I can't wait to see what the future will bring.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Craft Sale and Lessons Learned

Good Morning Readers!

So, after all of the pinning, starching, crocheting, last minute primping, ironing, and so on and so forth, the "Holiday Gift Show and Craft Fair" has finally arrived!

Sadly...as of now, I have only sold two snowflakes out of the 35 I have entered.

I can't help but admit that my heart is sinking. However, I do think that this was a GREAT deal of fun, and an all around good experience! The other vendors at the fair were AMAZING...How can a few tiny white Christmas ornaments hold up to felted flower headbands (I bought one, a yellow Dhalia), handmade Christmas Cards (VERY reasonably priced!) and handmade soaps, candles, wreaths and birdhouses?

I learned a couple of things from this experience; and a couple of the reasons WHY my snowflakes didn't go over as well as I thought they would:

1. I didn't really think my presentation of my flakes through. The other vendors had some WONDERFUL ways to showcase their wares: sparkly table clothes, old photo frames revamped as card holders, boxes and shelves and jewelry hooks of every kind...I ran out last night to Ross and picked up a mini Christmas tree at the last minute. My table looked bare in comparison; and kind of cheap.

2. My snowflakes were a bit too expensive compared to the other things for sale. I had priced my snowflakes as follows: $1 for x small, $3 for small, $5 for medium, $7 for large, and $10 for extra large/fancy. As of now (the sale goes until 3pm,) I have only sold two flakes, a large and a small. I was set up right next to the soap vendor; where you can get a bar of hand milled soap (in BEAUTIFUL scents and shapes) for just $4, so by comparison my prices looked like highway robbery. The doilies, I am reasonably sure, are NOT going to sell...simply too expensive. While I LOVED the organic Alpaca yarn I used, the customers didn't seem to appreciate the high price that this material demanded in order for me to make a profit AT ALL.

3. I made the HUGE mistake of forgetting to add my vendor number to my price tags. This lead to a panicky moment where I grabbed a pen off of the cashier table and started to frantically scribble "vendor 7" on each price tag...and that certainly did NOT help my professional crafty demeanor :-P.

Next year, I'm going to do this again, FOR SURE, but I am going to do a few things differently:

First, I am going to "bundle" my flakes in groups of four or five of the same pattern, and price them at $15-$30  for a set. This is MUCH more consumer friendly, as I know a lot of people who are buying Christmas decorations want things that match.

Second, I'm going to be much more careful about my presentation. Tablecloth? Yes. Tree that can showcase the details of each flake? Yes. Price tags that look more thought out and neat? Hecks yes. 

Third, I'm going to shy away from the uber expensive materials. I Love, LOOOOVVVEEEE all things cashmere, alpaca, mohair...but the typical buyer at a craft fair usually only sees the PRICE, and not the work and the high quality material that went into the product.

And lastly...no more doilies or pillows. Just snowflakes. :-) Not necessarily just snowflake ORNAMENTS, mind you...These things are VERY versatile! Snowflake on card stock for a lovely Christmas card? Hecks yes! Tiny snowflakes made into earrings? Oh yeah! Lace collar with a snowflake motif? Yeah Baby!!!

All in all, lessons learned, and a bunch of lace ornaments and doilies left over...

Guess what everyone in my immediate family is getting for Christmas? :-D

**Edit:**

Well, thats the end of the sale. Only sold five snowflakes; small ones.

Long story short, I'm crushed. I spent SO LONG and worked SO DAMN HARD on those flakes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

two things...

Good Morning Readers!

Firsties...to all those who protect and serve, I love you and thank you for protecting me and my country!

Secondly...Its 11-11-11!!!!!

<3

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Tantalizing Tale of the Telemarketer

In every office in America...in every reception desk, every voice mailbox, at every switchboard...a fierce battle is being waged.

I have seen grown men reduced to screaming incoherent obscenities. I have seen entire departments completely redo the organization of their phone systems to keep the enemies at bay, only to find that all of their efforts have been in vain.

Yes readers, it is true...the telemarketers are upon us.

The telemarketer, also known as the cold caller, solicitor, or the "courtesy caller", is a clever foe, who is difficult to defeat. But there ARE ways, readers! One needs to arm themselves with a few things:
1. A sharp tongue
2.A strong disposition
3. A working knowledge of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

Heh...yes, Readers, I'm feeling a bit silly today. Seriously, though, the sheer number of cold sales calls I'm getting are starting to reach a new level of ridiculousness.

Not that all sales calls are bad, necessarily. I know, being a former cold caller myself (I did a bit of it while working at the shipping company), that most of the people on the other end of the line would rather NOT be there. I also know that this is still a legitimate way of doing business, even though it has a tendency to annoy people to the point of insanity.

I don't really mind it when I get a cold call that is honest. Telemarketers out there, PLEASE take note: If I ask you if the phone call is a solicitation, and you LIE to me, YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW AND ARE IN VIOLATION OF THE TCPA. Even if you are not necessarily selling a product, you are still soliciting your business. If you are calling to just "introduce your company" or "offer us a discount on your services", it is still a solicitation.

Yes, readers, I know...businesses are not completely covered under the TCPA. HOWEVER, there are provisions in the updated act that protect businesses from overaggressive and deceptive sales practices. Yes, Telemarketers...if you get snotty with me if I ask you if you are a solicitor and say "I'M NOT SELLING ANYTHING!" YOU ARE COMMITTING FRAUD. So, STOP IT!

Luckily for me, I have been trained reasonably well to recognize when a phone call is a sleazy telemarketer. Usually, the call starts with, "Can I speak to the general manager?" or, "May I speak with your CEO?", or (my personal favorite, I LOVE these ones because I can have a bit of fun at the telemarketers expense), "May I speak with (insert name of our company's founders who have been dead for twenty years).?"

At this point, I ask the key question: "Thank you for calling. Is this a solicitation?"

Now, Readers, If the telemarketer is HONEST with me, (which, they HAVE to be as dictated by the TCPA), then everything is hunky dory. Our firm has a hot line and email address for "prospective vendors," where they can do their pitch, send us a competitive bid, and if we want to do business with them, we give them a call. Bing, Bang, Boom, everybody is happy.

If the telemarketer tries to pull a fast one...they get added to THE LIST.

Readers, a distinction: since our number is a business number, it is technically public information. Therefore, we are not eligible to be put on the national "Do Not Call" registry. (Well, technically we CAN, but if this is violated, we are not able to put a complaint through to the FCC). THE LIST refers to our own list of companies we have requested to not call us.

What's nice about my switchboard software is that it does this automatically for me. When I send a call do THE LIST, two things happen: First, the telemarketer hears a pre-recorded message that says, "Please add our company to your Do Not Call list. Thank you." Second, the number, time of call, and duration of the call are added to a database that keeps track of the people we have asked not to call us.

Occasionally, I get a few turds who call back right after I send them, to say, "BUT I'M NOT SEEEEELLLLIIIINNNNG ANYTHING!!! I JUST WANT TO INTRODUCE MY BUSSSSIIINNNNESSSS!!!!!" Again, you slime ball...YES YOU ARE. You are soliciting your business, even if you are not necessarily selling a product.

Telemarketers...if you call me again after I sent you to that message...WE ARE ABLE TO TRACK YOU DOWN AND SLAP YOU WITH A LAWSUIT. And, I know this for a fact, my company has. Two of our partners recently put the fear of GOD into a couple of large companies that have violated this law.

So, Readers...Arm yourselves! Educate yourselves!!

TO BATTLE!!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

word and lace doodles...

Feeling a bit semtimental and poetic tonight :-)
First, came across some bad poetry I wrote ages ago while still going to school at PLU. This is the only one that didn't sound like it came out of the journal of a 12 year old (you guys think my writing sucks NOW, you should have seen my drabbles at 18!)

Fireworks

I will never forget
The first day I saw them

Lying there, where everything was new
Looking up into a field of turquoise and longing,
      that indescribable hue of azure
      that longs for the blackness
      yet still clenches onto the last tearing threads of the twiglight evening
I heave a breath, and silently
wish
       wait
                beg
                         plead for the lights to appear.
The show begins
gentle and hestitant roman candles,
creeping up...
                      up...
                             up...
and surround me with a warm glow.

*snapsnapsnapsnapsnap*

thank you :-P

In addition to reminicing over bad poetry, made a ton of progress on my lace mountain!


Got a bunch of doilies and snowflakes finished!


The flakes are coming along gloriously!

These ones are still in the process of being starched...I've NEVER pinned snowflakes this detailed before; my kitchen is beginning to look like an acupuncure clinic with everything being pinned down and sprayed with laundry starch.

This flake is my personal favorite; its the "Kings' Crown" snowflake pattern made by the very fabulous Snowcatcher, her blog can be found here:
http://www.snowcatcher.net/

<3~

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lace, Lace, Lace, Lace, Lace, Lace and more lace....

You guys remember the old Monty Python "Spam" sketch?


Replace "spam" with "lace" and you have my crafting life lately :-D

Well, we've got a lace scarf...
lace snowflakes,
lace doilies,
lace coinpurses,

and so on and so forth.

First of all, I've finished the "Liesl" purse!



I'm happy with how this one turned out, but there are a few things that I think make this a 1.0 version:
1. The lace eyelets I put between the ribbons are WAY too busy...next version is going to be straight stockinette (save for the riibbon holes, of course)
2. The ribbon I used was a smidge too big. My local fabric shop only had this size of lavender ribbon, but I think I should be able to make a Jo-Ann's run and get a smaller ribbon size, and
3. While I am currently OBSESSED with taupe, the taupe and lavender color combo makes the pouch look a bit too antiquated. Next version is going to be all lavender.

So other than the "Liesl" pouch, I've also got a MOUNTAIN of lace going.

My work is putting on a "Holiday Craft Sale", and I've been given the honor of being vendor number seven! For this sale, I'm making lace snowflake christmas ornaments and doilies. My apartment looks like a victorian lace....something. Can't think of a good analogy...but every concievable flat surface either has a doily starching or a snowflake pinned or is covered in yarn scraps. Pictures will be posted soon!! 




Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thoughts on Beauty and Modesty and Dooms Day Prophets

It's fair to say that I have a love/hate relationship with my body.

Growing up, I was ugly. Now, before you all start jumping in (I'm talking to YOU, Mother!), hear me out.

I looked like Groucho Marx in a wig. I had chunky legs and thighs, huge catterpillar eyebrows, and frizzy brown hair that no matter HOW much I begged, my mom forbade me from straightening until I was in high school. I was U-G-L-Y I ain't had no allabi UGLY.

Not to worry readers, this is NOT going to be a "Wah Wah Wah! I never felt pretty!" post. While I was indeed a late bloomer, so to speak, some of my most significant moments of personal growth came from dealing with the fact that I didn't look like all the other girls in my class. It was painful and hard, of course, (and to be fair, anyone who says that they didn't struggle with their self image growing up is LYING,) but I seemed to learn by default that true beauty came from within, since I didn't have much outer beauty to begin with at the time. It was through this struggle that I developed my quirky sense of humor, my love of knitting/crochet ("So what if nobody wanted to slow dance with me at Tolo? I CAN KNIT A SOCK, I WIN!") and my love of all things musical, and helped me to focus on my flute and singing. ("So what if my crush just called me hideous? I'M FIRST CHAIR AND KNOW HOW TO PLAY THE PICCOLO, BITCHES!")

Fast forward about ten years later. I had grown out of the seemingly never ending "awkward phase" with a copy of vogue magazine, a flat iron, and a lot of support from my family, friends and faith. God bless Fr. Derek Lappee, while I was cantoring at St. Thomas Aquinas parish (I was still unbelievebly and irrationally afraid of the congregation thinking I was ugly), he had trained the alter servers to tell me, "Jackie, you look fine, quit fussing," if they had caught me frantically primping in the mirror.

My freshman year of college was...I don't want to say difficult, but just...kind of a "stank" year when it came to my self image and self respect. I went into college, thinking that I could reinvent myself as a fasion forward young lady, but came out of it forty pounds heavier with a terrible excuse for a bob haircut that I tried to dye blonde but came out Ronald McDonald red.

Luckily for me, I was able to make it through all of this, get a better fasion sense and maintain my love of all things quirky to boot.

As I've gotten older and a bit more professional, I can't help but notice how very EASY it is to be modest (you rarely find receptionists/admin assistants with bare midriffs or skin tight pants). But even so, it seems like I'm not exactly up to par with some people's definition.

Recently, I've been humiliated/taunted by a group of doomsday prophets/"evangelists" due to my choice of makeup. Readers, I have bright red lips. I LOVE wearing bright red lipstick, having that vintage 1940's/1920's  look (which, ironically, I started so that I could DRESS A BIT MORE MODEST.) However, this made me a "lustful whore who is going to BURN BURN BURN unless I SEE THE LIGHT," as one of the followers kindly pointed out. Also, apparently there was a problem with the fact that I was wearing pants...yeah.

A similar thing happened a couple years back, when I was still working at Pikes' Place Market. I think it may have been the same church group; only that time I was wearing earrings that were too gaudy for their liking (at the time, I was wearing a pair of blue jeans and my Piroshky Piroshky t-shirt). I decided to get snarky and asked if the guy wanted a hug. He accused me of looking at him with lust. I shot back with reminding him that if HIS eyes cause him to sin, then HE SHOULD PLUCK THEM OUT. Your problem, not mine, you effin bigot. He called me a slut and walked away.

Being taunted by these guys just...makes me so angry. And depressed.  Makes me feel ugly and dirty and ashamed.

But it's more than just psychotic dooms day prophets that tell me this and cause me to feel this way.

Readers,
I know that I am loved by God, and that I should rejoice in knowing that true beauty comes from within. But when my brothers and sisters in God come to me, sneer, and tell me that "I'm leading others into sinful ways," that "I love low and dirty things, and my soul is becoming low and foul," and that I am to blame for the harassment/groping that occasionaly happens on crowded downtown busses (yes, it still happens, folks...) I just want to curl up in a ball and dissapear.

I hate, HATE that people in the church are putting women to blame for this humiliation and abuse! I HATE IT!

The more I look for it, the more I find misogyny everywhere in the church. Women are still being denied the right to be priests in Catholosism for what I can find is nothing more than a "good ole' boy" network. In Guatamala, the church had excommunicated a woman for getting an abortion for her ten year old daughter, but had NOT excommunicated the 45-year old man who had raped the girl. There are still ass-backwards "ministries" out there who tell women that they are commiting a sin for wearing PANTS.

I love the church. But there are times when it seems as if they're trying to make Lutherans of us all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

**sings** I am sixteen, going on seventeen...

Oh, how I love inspiration that seems to pop out of nowhere.

This past weekend was my significant other's birthday. After spending a nice morning together, getting breakfast pizza, putting together a drafting table (his birthday present from me!), singing at a wedding (he tagged along), and getting a kick-awesome burger, we came back to his place along with two other freinds and watched a bunch of cheesy broaway musicals.

It has been YEARS since I've seen the Sound of Music. YEARS. When I was much younger, this was one of my favorite movies in general...I had always fantasized about being able to sing like Liesl (the eldest daughter character) someday...and based on what people have told me, I have been blessed to have that wish come true.

This just made me smile...a nice, nostalgic, sweet moment. I found myself singing along to the song, "16 going on 17." My boyfriend, again in proving his amazing awesomeness and affection, took a swig of his beer, put his arm around me while Liesel and Rolf were dancing around in the rain, looked toward me and said...

"Shall we learn this dance routine?"

John, I love you so much.

I also just fell in love with Liesl's dress...a lilac, billowy chiffon thing that was just so pretty. It gave me the inspiration to start a new project (among the HUNDREDS I have going already...but this one will be a quick knit!); A lilac lace clutch is in the works! I'll post pictures of my skecthes and plans later

Thursday, September 29, 2011

David Hass? Too mainstream dude...

I feel like I am going though a "three steps forward, two steps back" pattern when it comes to my own maturity, spiritually and otherwise.
I think that CS Lewis said it best in the Screwtape Letters:
 
My dear Wormwood,
So you 'have great hopes that the patient's religious phase is dying away', have you? I always thought the Training College had gone to pieces since they put old Subgob at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one every told you about the law of Undulation?
Humans are amphibians-- half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy's determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for as to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation-- the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life-- his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.


I've spent a lot of time in prayer and introspection during the last couple of weeks; specifically in working towards healing old wounds that never quite closed up. I'm constantly fighting this strange phenomenon...a desire to just wish, wish, wish, wish, wish, wish and wish that I could go back ten years and do EVERYTHING over again. I guess a good word for this feeling is the "redo button" phenomenon.

My remedy for this, which can be a bit mentally taxing, is to try and visuallise a giant red STOP sign, focus on my breathing for a beat or so, and then mentally list the things I am thankful for in the present, and WHY the present is better for my overall well being than things in the past had things happened differently.
Spiritually speaking, I can't help but admit that I find things to be incredibly difficult right now.

I am a Catholic. Been Catholic all of my life; my faith has been one of the few constants in the whirlwhinds of change surrounding me. However, I can't help but feel more alienated and alone than EVER in my faith.

For the last two years, I've been attending mass at either St. Joseph's Cathedral or Christ Our Hope parish on a weekly basis. I try my best...but there are SO many times when I find that I'm just going though the motions...
"Peace Be With You,"

"The Body Of Christ, Amen."

"We Believe in One God, The Father Almighty..."

and so on and so forth.

I hate to say it, I do...but I find it SO difficult to connect and relate to my fellow parishoners. God forgive me...but I am surrounded by senior citizens.

I'm trying to find a group of like minded individuals...but there seems to be two poles when it comes to Catholic (or any Christian, for that matter) "youth groups;" that both irritate the CRAP out of me:

The "Life Teen" style of youth groups have esentially watered down the miricle of christ's life and resurecction to a never ending cheerleading routine of "WE LOVE JESUS, YES WE DO, WE LOVE JESUS, HOW ABOUT YOUUUUUUU??????" or an hour-long episode of "veggie tales" that does nothing more than insult the intelligence of the congregation present and infantalize the people that it is there to supposedly "guide" and "enlighten". (There was, no joke, a man who came to speak at a young adult meeing I attended who said, "Do you guys know that GOD SENT HIS SON FOR YOU????" and it took all of my self control not to blurt out, "WELL NO SHIT SHERLOCK!" ). We've only had our faith pounded into our heads since the time we were baptized. We are well aware of the story of Christ's life, death and rising. It seems to me that "Life Teen" is simply an exuse to turn the miracle of the mass into a giant Christian Rock concert (Which there is nothing wrong with, but I'd like to be able to concentrate on having a conversation with God without a woman's bare navel in my face.)

The other end of the spectrum is the "solemnity of the mass" crowd. When I was in high school, this was what was going down at my home parish: everything was slow, dark, solemn...and in Latin. While I can appreciate the history and the beauty of the Latin Mass and that it was a tool for EVERYONE to communicate with one another in the dark ages, I'm sorry, Latin is no longer the go-to language for educated people. I can't help but notice that there seems to be a smug, hipster esque aire to the regular congregations who regualrly do the Latin Masses; "David Haas? Too mainstream. WE only use GREGORIAN CHANT here. *puts on hipster glasses and tight pants*" The "life teeny" crowd tended to just annoy me with its childish tendencies and constant dumbing down of miracle of the Mass; the "solemn" crowd just tends to creep me out...not unlike sitting next to that one goth kid in the white makeup who is staring at you and then looking down at their tarot card deck and shaking their head.

I love my boyfriend so much...but this is one thing that we do not share. He is an atheist, and I can't go to him or get much support from him when it comes to my spirituality, which leaves me feeling so frustrated...

My friends have also been great...but I can't help but feel left out.

I'm too old for the college group. Too young for the Catholic Daughers of America. Arg.

**Edit: Yes, readers, I am cranky tonight. So, I bring you this:**

Friday, September 16, 2011

The gift of forgiveness

If a person were to ask me what my greatest fault was, the first thing that comes to my mind is that I have an issue with holding grudges. But if a person were to ask a member of my family, one of my close friends, or anyone who knew me well, they would probably say something very different. I asked someone close to me that very question, and after talking about it and thinking on it, I am starting to realize that I've been overlooking a long list of instances where I found it was easier to just let things go.

It's fair to say that God has thrown his fair share of curveballs my way. It's also fair to say that I enjoy complaining (bitching about life/work/ex boyfriends makes for an easy blog post, and can be fun to write). Even so, all things considered, I'm probably one of the luckiest people I know in regards to having what psychologists/counselors call a "social safety net"; my family, friends, pastor, and faith have always been a constant in this sea of variables we call life. No matter what happens to me, I know for a fact that love and support are only a phone call, email or short drive away. Looking back, having someone there to reassure me, guide me, and hug me when things got difficult made it very easy for me to empathize and forgive others.

High school bully made my life miserable? Eh, we all do dumb things when we are young.

Got laid off out of the blue from my work? They were just doing what they had to do in this tough economy, it was not something to take personally.

Caller screamed at me over the phone because I asked them to spell their attorney's last name? He was probably just having a bad day.

Which raises the question: Why would I instantly think "I hold grudges?" Honestly, as my friend pointed out, I should change that question to "Why can't I let that one grudge go?"

As far as grudges go, I would refer to this one as The Big One. The Queen Mother. The Great Grandaddy of Grudges. A few of you who read my blog regularly might know exactly what I'm writing about; but for those of you who don't pay enough attention and didn't catch my rambling, Riesling induced wallows of self pity before I deleted them the next day, this grudge regards my first serious relationship, during my freshman year of college and the subsequent drama and heartbreak.

I think that I should note that this is NOT the only ex boyfriend I've ever had: technically, I've had five. However, this is the only relationship I've had that I look back on with sadness, regret and anger.

I'm not going to get into specifics as I have done that MANY times already (but for those of you who don't know, see my post "Kryptonite, anyone?" from way back), so long story short, the relationship was a long, drama plagued road of ups and downs before my ex and I reached an uneasy, silent agreement not to speak, email, IM, write, or release a nuclear holocaust upon one another. It has been said before that our relationship now is not unlike that of North and South Korea.

This relationship, when looked at from the outside, seems like nothing more than a run-of-the-mill breakup. But for more than a few reasons, I have had tremendous trouble with this dude. Just hearing about him is enough to bring back old pain, old memories, unresolved feelings and leaves me feeling more than a little jealous and cynical.

We spoke some after the initial break up, and during this time my ex had gone through a powerful spiritual reawakening (which, to be honest, I commend him for). I don't want to say that he was overwhelmingly contrite, although he seemed to become more aware of how his actions affected me while we dated, which did bring me a bit of closure. However, things were still very difficult...his new revival demanded that he find forgiveness from God for his sins, and forgiveness from me...but my ex did not ask for my forgiveness. He demanded it.

My memory may be fading, but I believe his words were, "You NEED to forgive me like I forgave myself! None of that pain you went through should matter anymore, and it should no longer hurt or bother you, because GOD has forgiven me of those sins!"

While I am sure that he is set right in the eyes of the Lord, the leftover pains, both emotionally and otherwise, from our turbulent relationship still hurt to this day. I wish that I could say a prayer, click my heels three times, and press A, B, X, select and start to make the pain go away.

My pastor, God BLESS him, has constantly reminded me about the importance of actively forgiving. He helped me to remember the parable of the wicked servant:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

...hoo dear. Being tortured for the rest of eternity for not forgiving does NOT sound like a way I would like to spend my time. And, although I still feel a great deal of hurt and anger from what happened between us, I would certainly like to think that I haven't been cruel or wicked to my ex...it's fair to say that somewhere, deep down there, my heart still skips a little when we speak.

What also helped save my sanity (Thank GOD!) is being reminded by my pastor that it is OKAY to be hurting! It is OKAY to be angry! Our Lord, our Creator, has put these emotions in us for a REASON! And it is OKAY to be upset! The bible tells us, "Be angry, but do not sin!" (Eph. 4:26).

Knowing this doesn't set me off the hook, though...I still need to actively forgive him. I came across Mark Wilson's wonderful blog, Faith.Hope.Love; Mark suggests looking at the sins that my ex committed against me as a kind of debt. My choosing to forgive him is like freeing him from that debt. I can still be pissed off about it, but I will no longer hold my ex accountable for what happened during our Freshman/Sophomore years.

Mark's blog can be found here:[link]

A couple of weeks ago, I heard that my ex faced an unimaginable tragedy: his fiancee was rushed to the hospital days before they were supposed to get married. As far as I know, she is still there.

When I heard this, all that anger, jealousy and bitterness evaporated. All I could feel in my heart was an immense sadness and horror, and pity for him...and an overwhelming feeling of shame and guilt. He is potentially losing the love of his life. And I'm just here bitching and drinking Riesling.

I sent him a text message and a facebook message letting him know that he and his fiancee were in my prayers. I let my mother know what was going on and she prayed for them, too. He and I had a short conversation, essentially letting me know what happened. I asked if there was anything that I could do, and he politely told me no.

I honestly don't know how some people can ever, EVER rejoice in one of God's children losing a loved one.

My ex boyfriend has faced unspeakable pain. If I was in his place and MY sweetheart was lying there in the hospital, I would have fallen to pieces and have had a nervous breakdown. I would not wish what happened to him on anyone, EVER.

However, there was good that came out of it, at least for me. I am able to take comfort in knowing that I still have at least some tenderness for him in my heart. And knowing that, it made it much easier for me to let go of being angry and bitter.

Readers, remember that forgiveness is never easy. But it is necessary! SO necessary! Pain WILL linger. Anger WILL stay for a while. But our God gives us the capacity for pain and anger so that we will LEARN and TAKE ACTION to grow from the experience and thus grow in to better rounded and wiser human beings.

I'm honestly not very good at endings...but all I guess I can say is that I will continue to pray. For my ex, his fiancee, and for my own ability to forgive.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Time to finish what I started...

To those of you who read this; my few and silent followers...I need a favor.

I need a motivational kick in the pants.

I have mentioned in other posts that I work with a lot of people who are simply at their "day jobs". I work with a video game/radio voice actress (who is absolutely amazing) and a painter who has his own art gallery. I am also INCREDIBLY lucky to be working with SEVERAL people who have a great interest in the arts, and especially in opera.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate working with people whose understanding of opera comes from more than just Bugs Bunny. I've been singing classical music since I was 12, and have been singing opera since I was 15. I've got to be honest, while I do LOVE singing, I get super nervous and self concious if I'm asked to sing at my full register. In almost every other environment I've worked in (except at QFC, because QFC staff members are AWESOME!) People would ask me to sing, look at me, and ask, "Do people honestly still listen to that stuff?"

Not that I can blame my former coworkers. Opera, if not studied or understood, can be incredibly confusing and frustrating for the viewer. Most operas that are performed (at least in Seattle) are in French, German, or Italian, and if a translation is not provided, it is near impossible for opera viewers to know what the characters are doing on stage. This is why most people in Seattle don't fall all over themselves when they hear that Bizet's Carmen will be playing.

At the law firm, however, there are a few opera nuts. I was having a chat with one of the partners on my coffee break (a patent attourney who loves all things Wagner), and after I mentioned that I had studied opera at Pacific Lutheran, he aksed if I would be so kind as to sing for him. I sang one of my audition pieces, "O Mio Babbino Caro", and even though my voice isnt NEARLY as up to par as it used to be, he told me that I had one of the lovliest soprano voices he had ever heard.

The attourney sent me an email earlier this week, pointing out that the Seattle Opera would be starting its Young Adult Singers program in October. To qualify, you have to be between the ages of 22 an 32 and a Seattle resident. You submit tapes, a headshot, and if they think that you have potential, they invite you for an honest to God audition for the Seattle Opera Company.

Well...I guess that God is trying to tell me something.

....anybody know someone who can do headshots for cheap????

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To veg or not to veg?

That is the question!

My boyfriend, in the past, has been a vegan. No meat, no milk, nothing that ever comes from animals. However, his love of steak brought him back to the world of the carnivores.

He has lately been going back to a more "humane" diet of sorts since we saw the movie Food Inc; he has cut all red meat (beef and pork)and poultry from his diet, and tries to not consume any dairy products that might contain trace amounts of RBST. He'll eat fish (mostly becasue his favorite food in the universe is salmon).

In addition, he's been working out more. He's been doing these nightly "push up" routines, where he will do as many as he can without taking a break. His goal is to eventually get to 100, like he was able to when he was playing football (He's at 85 now).

As a result, my boyfriend is starting to look amazing. He has been getting hit on by old ladies who make comments about his muscles while waiting in line at QFC, and my mother's freinds all refer to him as "the hunky one" when I bring him home.

I, on the other hand, have let my figure slide a little bit.

When I was younger, I did gain a significant amount of weight my freshman year of college. The freshman 15 was the freshman 40 for me. The following summer, I did the nutrisystem thing, lost 20 pounds, realized I could do the exact same thing by restricting my portion sizes, got into contact with a nutritionist, lost another 40. At my lightest, I was 128 pounds. This ended when I moved to Pullman to finish my studies; and my eating habits have been....questionable at best. (Readers, the writer of this blog is the type of woman who will pour A1 steak sauce into a wine glass, drink it, and find it delicious.)

I have gained weight, about twenty pounds over the past five years. I'm not nearly as heavy as I was my freshman year (190 pounds at my heaviest), but I still can't help but pout a bit when I try on the dress I wore that one time years ago and I find my figure looking a bit like the stay-puft man. Poor John has been on the recieving end of the dreaded, "Do I look fat to you?" question, to the point where he will kindly point out (along with a kiss on the cheek)that while I am beautiful, I can always be more careful about what I eat if my weight bothers me too much.

So, readers, I've decided to finish the food I have in my fridge (not much, some cold cuts, chicken breasts and some frozen pelmeni), and once I do, to try being a lactose-ovo vegetarian for a while. Not because I'm against eating meat, (I ADORE STEAK!!! STEEEEAAAAAKKKK!!!!), but becasue I want to fit in my size 4 dress again, dammit!

Now that I'm a permanent employee (with CONSIDERABLE health benefits), I'm going to set up a time to meet with a nutritionist. I'm also eligable for "a corporate rate" for a number of health clubs downtown, and will start actually excersizing properly (rather than just stepping on and off a wii balance board :-P), and have decided to do an early morning spin class, if one is available.

Now the question is...will little old ladies comment on MY awesome muscles???? HMMM????

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another chapter begins in the life of Jackie O...

Working as a switchboard operator/receptionist really teaches one a lot about humanity.

People, in general, are good. :-) People are understanding, and people are patient, if you are patient and understanding to begin with. People are appreciative. People will bend over backwards to help one another, if you reciprocate and bend over backwards to help them as well.

I recently (yet again) switched jobs. While the CSR position at the shipping company was awesome, there simply weren't enough funds to hire me on full time. So, through that job I gained three months of experience, good memories, and two AWESOME references. My temp agency set me up almost immediatly with another interview and I was hired right away; I'm working as an operator/receptionist for a downtown Seattle law firm. This is seriously the best job I have ever had.

I have been blessed with the most friendly, interesting, helpful and patient co-workers. I sit next to a actress who does a great deal of voice acting for video games and cartoons. I also work with an extremely talented painter, whose paintings adorn the halls of the reception area next to an original Picasso.

Also, two words: Free Lattes.

I also, sadly, needed to say goodbye to my constant companion, confidante, friend, roomate, and sister yesterday. Susan (that lucky duck) was essentiallly offered her dream job; only thing is, its in San Fransisco. I have no doubt that she will be wildly sucessful, and hey, I now have an excuse to visit California!

Unfortunately, losing Susan also meant losing half of the rent. I moved into my new apartment yesterday; A nicely sized studio up on Capitol Hill with a murphy bed (which, because it is hideously ugly, is to be taken out, although my boyfriend thinks its awesome). My place currently looks like something from the show "Hoarders", but soon everything will be put together and put away properly.

I also just returned from a near magical vacation to Massachusetts to meet my boyfriend's family. His family lives in Glouster, the town where they filmed "Perfect Storm" (apparently, everyone in the town despises that movie). I fell in love with New England; the ocean, the salty air, the beaches, the sunshine (at least in the summer time), the history, the beauty everywhere...

John's family was absolutely wonderful. One purpose of the trip (that John told me after the fact), was to see if I could mesh well with his parents and aunts. His family is fabulous; wildly passionate Catholics (Like me!) who take pride in just about EVERYTHING; their work, their relationships, their skills, their children, and each other.

One thing has been made clear: I love John, and it seems as if I have been welcomed into his family. I am prepared to spend the rest of my life with this man.

Things are changing so rapidly that it's often hard to step back and see how exactly I have been changed through all of this; but one tings is for sure: I am going to enjoy the ride.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Can you please stop the room? I'd like to get off..."

Been a while since I've posted. :-) Things a'happenen...

For one, I've been working at a new job since March. Been here for about two and a half months. And this company ROCKS, as far as NVOs go. I'm a temp as of now, and am really, REALLY, REEEEAAAAALLLYYYY hoping that I can have the opportunity to work here as a full-time employee.

One of the many reasons I love this job is that I am working with other craftsters. People who will take their knitting/crochet/crosstitch projects with them to work. Those who are not afraid to craft in public. I can take my knitting into the break room and my coworkers will recognize what stitch I'm using. Yeah. I KNOW!

Speaking of knitting, still haven't finished the catterpillar :-( about 3/4 done working on the body...I'd post a picture but I'm writing this at my work desk on my lunchhour...and Mr. Catterpillar is sitting on the couch at home.

Starting a new job, working a DRASTICALLY different schedule than I'm used to, the cold icky weather, congested ear canals, dealing with a TON of new responsibilities, and the constant pressure I put myself under in order to impress my employers has triggered my vertigo again.

It's not nearly as bad as it was when I first stared getting these episodes, and much easier to deal with becasue I work sitting at a desk, and because I know how to at least momentarily get relief from the loose otoconia (little calcium crystals that float around in utricle of the ear that tell your body which way it's moving) floating around where they're not supposed to be. Usually this takes the form of me laying back a little and swaying my head from side to side, and that usually does the trick for about a half hour or so.

The first time I had a vertigo episode was shortly after I moved to Seattle from Pullman. I woke up, sat up in my bed, and realized that I could not bring my feet across the bed to the floor...I kept on missing. Then the room started to spin, faster and faster...I was so scared I started to cry...

I called my work (Piroshky Piroshky at the time...God bless Olga, Oliver and Vadim, they were so patient with me when I was still figuring out what EXACTLY this was and freaking out) in near hysterics, letting them know I wasn't able to go in. My poor sister was probably the most affected by my never ending plea of "MAKE IT STOP!!! FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, MAKE IT STOP!!!", but she was also the most understanding and patient, and was the one who drove me to the doctor's to have my ears checked out.

Based on my age and symptoms, they told me that I've got Benign Paroxymal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV. I was really relieved, (before going to the doctor I made the huge mistake of web MD'ing my symptoms and the first thing that popped up was "brain tumor"), but still upset...this was something that was supposed to affect OLD PEOPLE!

The spinning comes and goes, and only happens when I'm either really congested or under a big amount of stress. Luckily, I have some tricks up my sleeve to get the otoconia to move back to where they belong; I'll flop from side to side on my bed about ten times each side (this shakes them up and loosens them if they all formed a clump somewhere), or I'll hang off of the edge of my bed, upside down like a bat and rotate my head (This makes them love out of the semicircular canals into the cochlea, where they will be re-absorbed). If I'm diligent, the vertigo usually goes away in about a week.

The other major thing that really helps me manage these symptoms is learning how to relax...When I panic at the onset of a "spin moment", it just makes the spinning worse. I have to consiously focus on my breathing and repeat "Everything is going to be okay," and the Lord's prayer, for some reason.

My boyfreind has especially been wonderful to me regarding my "spinny episodes". At my worst, he would follow me around my apartment and catch me or re-direct me if I was about to crash into something. John has been nothing but understanding, supportive, and reassuring. And I love him for that.

My most recent bout of vertigo was this past week. The cooler, yucky weather that has been around, and the fact that everyone in my office is sharing a some-what cold, enough to get you sniffling and sneezing but not enought to make you incredibly miserable (my grandmother used to call it a "mocous"), and the fact that I'm usually running on about six hours of sleep nightly have made my inner ears go wacky. I started feeling a fullness in my ears, and then as I tilted my head one day at work, the spinning started. Now, its much less of a problem and more like a nuisance. I just sat down at my desk, tilted my head back, and waited for it to pass.

I went home at the regular time, made myself some ramen and some tea, and sat down and watched Celebrity Apprentice untill the nausea passed.

The next day, the symptoms were a bit better, but still annoying. I'd turn around in my office chair that that would be enough to make the room spin a quarter rotation or so...but I came home to something so beautiful, so wonderful, something that made me feel so safe that my head felt like it cleared up and the spinning went away completely.

John had written me a love letter. A handwritten, beautiful love letter, on a page from one of his journals.
I sat there, reading it in my kitchen...I know for a fact that he loves me, and I him, but the simple fact that he took the time to write his feelings down on paper in such a beautiful and well-thought out way moved me.

I held the letter to my heart, lied down, and closed my eyes. I felt almost like a heat pad had been pressed against the side of my head, I felt a small *pop*...and the spinning stopped. And it hasn't been back yet :-)

Some cures a doctor simply cannot provide...<3

Monday, February 7, 2011

Project updates, trousers and salt...

Nothing quite boosts a girl's ego like trying on a pair of trousers that fit amazingly. Old Navy is, in my opinion, the best place in Seattle to get a good pair of reasonably priced pants.

As far as my knitting projects go, I've admittedly let some of them slide. The Caterpillar draft stopper is now looking like its going to be a St. Patrick's day gift than a Christmas gift....ugh. I've found that this is honestly much more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I came up with the idea of just knitting several "balls" from the "Oh, Balls" pattern by "I Like Lemons" (http://i-like-lemons.blogspot.com/2008/02/knit-balls.html) but it seems like my knitting skills aren't up to par...my "balls" arent' nice and round, and all have a pointy end. I just need to work on my I-cords, I guess.

Another thing that seems to recharge my emotional battery, aside from shopping for pants and knitting catterpillars, is going to church. Not to sound like an old lady, but it honestly calms me down and just makes me feel more focused during the week if I regularly attend Mass.

This week's gospel was Matthew, 5:13-16.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”


I can't speak for all Catholic women, but I know that when I was younger I was often taught in CCD and in my Catechism as a teenager that I was to emulate various women from the Bible and various Saints: St. Therese of Lisieux, Mary the mother of Jesus and Queen Ethster, to name a few. Humility, Obedience, Kindness, Gentleness, and Purity were what we were to learn from them, among other things.

St. Therese of Lisieux was often brought up to me personally by my priest and youth minister; those of you reading this who knew me as a teenager knew quite well that humility and meekness were NOT exactly my style, and still aren't, for that matter.

As well meaning as my Priest was (just a quick note: of all of the priests I've met, this guy was hands down my favorite. I will always think of this guy as my spiritual guide, confidante and surrogate father figure, and he has helped me through some incredibly difficult times. This guy is awesome, although there were several things that he and I did not agree upon, but that's a post for another day.), an unintended consequence of my emulating the Little Flower of God is a feeling of unending bbbblllllllllaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh. I felt boring, tasteless, dim, and a little bit helpless and confused...was I so spiritually flawed because I didn't like being meek?

This week's gospel answers that question for me, and affected me enough that I felt I had to post it. I was not made to not share the gifts that God has given me. I was made to put them out there for his glorification. I was not meant to be bland and tasteless, I was meant to be the salt and the light of the world.

I'll be the first to admit that my ego has gotten me into trouble. I've lost relationships, missed some opportunities, and royally messed up my fair share of life due to my pride.

However, I know that my attitude and the pride I put into myself and into whatever I do has also taken me to some amazing places. I know that if I am going to do something, I am going to do it WELL, dammit! This has lead me to recieving a substantial scholarship for my singing, acceptance into college, the ability to make borsht, a nice looking bedroom and apartment, and the ability to knit things that don't look like something you find in your grandmother's basement.

I might be taking this weeks' gospel the wrong way, but in any case, it has given me a great deal of comfort...if that's the correct word. My deeds in this life might not always be good, and I'm probably one of the worst Catholics I know...my version of apologetics in defending the church is to flip the bird and say, "DONT MAKE FUN OF MY RELIGION, FATA**!" ala Kyle Broflovski. But dammit, I will share and will do what I know that I can do well to make this world better for my brothers and sisters in Christ.

God Bless, folks. <3

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A sad, sad day for us Capitol Hill folk...

I just found out that the M street market, which has faithfully supplied me with coffee, avocadoes and Cinnamon Toast Crunch is closing its doors.

There is a notice taped over the counter by the cash register that gives the full story. Apparently, the landlord of the building wanted them to pay a highger rent but they couldn't afford it.

It makes me sad to see that little supermarket go...I rarely go there to do any big grocery shopping trips becasue of its higher prices, but if I was in a jam and REALLY needed an egg or milk or whatnot, they were always there for me. Plus, I just liked the urban ambiance the shop provided, and the grilled sandwiches they would sell during the summer on Wedsdays.

Bye, M street market! We will all miss you!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

ADHD crafting...

Having a lot of time on my hands tends to open up my creative side like none other. I've been working on an afghan, based on the space invaders game...not too terribly original, (there are a ton of space invader themed projects on ravelry) but it was a lot of fun to make and is a ton of fun to look at. I'm halfway finished; the little "invaders" are all done but I still have yet to make the back of the afghan so that the loose strings on the other side of tha pattern don't show or get tangled up.
Its also a bit small for an afghan; its about the size of a crib blanket or a large wall hanging. If anything, it will sit and look cute on our couch for now untill it's completely finished. I'd love to start selling things like this on Etsy; my father has already taken a keen interest in helping me price it properly and market it properly; since there aren't many other "space invader" knit items or housewares on Etsy at the moment, it might be sold reasonably quickly, as long as I promote it properly.

My kitty loves the afghan. I've definately got to wash it before it's ready to sell; I've pulled some black kitty hairs from it already <3 

Other than knitting, I've also started doing some more embroidery. I stinkin love embroidery, its so easy and full of instant gratification as a craft project. I ordered a reusable grocery bag a while ago from Sublime Stitching (which I ADORE), but haven't had the time to properly print and decorate it. One of my favorite patterns is the dutch/russian pattern, with the little matroyshka dolls.

They didn't come out all even, but I was too impatient to wash the bag and print it again. Done all in blue because I had an excess of blue embroidery thread <3

I also started another embroidery project. I've always wanted to get a little bit more in touch with my family's Russian heritage; and surrounding myself with Russian kitch doesn't always help create an accurate representation of where I come from. When my ancestors came here from Russia and Belarus, I'm pretty sure that a matroyshka wasn't exactly important or significant. However, I know that religion was very important to my ancestors; who were probably either Catholic or Russian Orthodox at the time. I found a lovely translation of the Lord's Prayer, and I'm transferring it to a nice rustic looking fabric. I'm still in the process of copying the letters onto it; My handwriting is terrible and I don't trust myself freehanding it just yet.



I have, however, had the privelege to become (somewhat) close to the Russian community in Seattle. I worked at a small Russian bakery/resturaunt for about six months, and working so close with my boss, who was from St. Petersburg, gave me a small insight to my family. She insisted that I not call myself a Russian girl untill I was able to make Piroghis and Pelmenis (little Siberian dumplings that are a Russian staple), which I have learned and have done. I've made a few myself, but they are nowhere as good as my boss's; seeing as I don't have a proper meat grinder or pasta maker. When I make them again I'll post pictures <3

I'd also like to learn some more of the Russian language. While working at the restaurant I learned a few words, "Thank you," "Welcome," "Hello" and "Good-bye", and such. It's been such a long while that I've certainly lost a great deal of it; I used to know "Can I sweep behind you?" or "What do you need?" from listening to my boss or the other fluent Russian-speakers. 

Now that those are somewhat finished, I've turned my attention to a few other things: other than finding another job and volunteering at the hospital, I have found myself with a great deal of time on my hands. I'm probably going to just hunker down and properly study for the GRE, which I have been putting off for a while...my seemingly endless "Peter Pan" complex is rearing its ugly head, as it usually does when I'm faced with a significant life change...Mary Martin's unforgettable line , "I WANT TO ALWAYS BE A LITTLE BOY AND TO HAVE FUN!" tends to come to mind.

All the same, the simple truth that I need to stop pretending to be young and naiive in the ways of the world (and Psychology) in order to attain my long term goals in life tends to be louder than my inner Peter Pan.

No matter how seemingly mature I get in the world of Psychology or Academia, however, I still plan on retaining my love of all things goofy and adorable. My boyfriend and I have been watching the HBO series "John Adams" with Paul Giamatti, and I have been playing "Kirby's Epic Yarn" on the wii for the past couple days. This leads to some interesting dreams...



...Kirby adams?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I have....FIIIIIINNNNNNIIIIISSSSSSHHHHHHEEEEEDDDDDDD IIIIIIIIIITTTTTT!!!!!

There is nothing quite like this feeling.

I have created. I have knit, purled, increased, decreased, cast on and cast off, picked up stitches and dropped them...and I have finally finished it.

I have knit my first sweater.

I simply love it. love it love it love it love it love it love it love it.

The sweater has yet to be blocked. Gonna use the steam block method. Hoo yeah, its great to finally know what that means :-)

I posted earlier that my downstairs neighbor has requested a draft stopper in the shape of a blue catterpillar. I found a good pattern that I think I can alter, its the free Red Lion draft stopper pattern
http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/60492A.html?r=1

Its a nice, easy thing to make, but there will be some changes...

It will go from looking like this:



to this:


will post as the little dude progresses.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Project updates...and an excess of cotton! Yay!

Finished a bunch of stuff :-) Had a wonderful holiday, full of love and support from my family and loved ones!

Finished the socks. As I feared, I ran out of the light grey yarn...my local yarn shop (Stitches on Broadway, which is AMAZING by the way) had the same brand but not the same dye lot. Boyfriend had one sock with a different colored toe. They finished up nicely other than the color work, and they ended up fitting great.


I've also finished the strangling vine scarf for my co-worker. It ended up being a bit short, but it's a nice scarf and was so pretty when I finally got around to blocking it. 



For Christmas this year, my mother gave me a wonderful knitting tote, and filled it full of yarn. I have recently discovered the Stitch Nation brand of yarn and began knitting the Cream Puff Pullover from the Stitch Nation Collection 1 book by Debbie Stoller. That woman is my hero; I've learned so much from the stitch n bitch books. 

I'm about 80% finished with the back of the sweater, I'm quite pleased with it so far.

This is my third attempt at knitting a sweater; my first sweater was the cloverleaf lace "lucky" sweater from Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. It turned out terrible; bulky, not fitting right, and needing a ton of tweaking in order to be even wearable. I understand that other knitters have had troubles with that pattern too; but the summer I spent working on that sweater was a ton of fun. I love knitting lace, and the cloverleaf pattern was so easy to learn. Hopefully this sweater turns out better!

And lastly, I give you, fellow wanderers of the endless blog-o-space...nerdy faire isle.

I've posted earlier about my pride in learning faire isle with the zelda bag, but nothing helps me to learn and master a new technique like making something BIG with it. I sat down with my brother this Christmas and he taught me how to use Microsoft Excel in regards to making knitting charts. Making pixelated images is so easy now, no more coloring in old graphing paper!

I'm excited for the space invaders afghan; I'm thinking about opening up an etsy account. I'm going to knit a back to this afghan in all black to cover the "ugly" side of the faire isle. Will post more pictures as the project goes on!

Another gift that a close friend and neighbor gave to me this year is a cool knitting book, "Yummi 'Gurumi" and a whole box full of Sugar 'N Cream cotton. The book is full of cute anigurumi patterns, my favorite are the fruit patterns. I have so much cotton, I know that I'm probably not going to use it all. I'm gonna have to come up with something creative to use it all up, but there's nothing quite like knitting a ton of dishcloths to make up the difference!

Will post soon! <3