Archive for the ‘identity’ Category

Clapotis progress

November 11, 2013

So I’ve been knitting away on the scarf.  (And to take a break from the scarf, I’ve knit a hat.  But that’s not what’s important here.  I just needed a gift for someone and I liked the pattern.)

I’ve been scared to death of making this scarf.  I ripped back a couple of times already.  I was more than half-way done and I was contemplating yet another rip back.  There are important, serious reasons for it.  I made one edge a bit too tight.  I consulted with a couple of other knitters and they assure me that it’s hardly noticeable and if it bothers me by the time I finish knitting it, it will probably block out.  Blocking out, as anybody knows, is a lie.  It’s just that when people say that, they mean that when you finish knitting it, you’ve got a finished product and even if the urge is still with you, you won’t have the heart to rip that sucker out.  They’re probably right, at least for me.  (It’s negative knitting.  It rips out the heart as well.)

But the reasons why I’ve been so hesitant about this project (I hate ripping out, but I have no problems with it here) is because I want it to be perfect.  I’ve just never had an item that mattered to me like this – most of the time, I’ve knit and been done with it.

Part if it has been that the yarn is among the most expensive I’ve ever bought.  (It’s pretty good yarn.)   I’ve been thinking and longing for this scarf since I saw it, months, maybe years before I actually started knitting seriously.  I’ve got a facebook post about it.  (I just checked, dating October 2012, a month before I took that knitting class.)  It’s almost as if all the knitting I have done up to this point has been to gear up for making this scarf.

This thinking is stupid.  The scarf is not that hard to make.  It’s a bit of an exercise in patience, because it is a long scarf/shawl/stole, but it’s nothing like an entire outfit of colorwork in skinny yarn with teeny-tiny needles.  It’s just in my own head.  There’s a new-to-me technique of dealing with alternating multiple balls of yarn (because, hello expensive hand-painted yarn that is only related to each other skein in the same colorway like I’m related to my second cousins) which is sort of a pain.  The idea was terribly intimidating.  I’m over it now, though.  (I’ve got 3 on the go at once, but can’t figure out how to do a fourth.)


If you’re wondering, the scarf is turning out pretty well, otherwise.  I’m really enjoying the knitting and the yarn is lovely.   I’m trying to get into the headspace of letting the process go on and not getting in the way.  If the product doesn’t turn out well, it’ll be fine.  Nothing in the world will be much different.  I might go ahead and buy more of this yarn to make another one.  That would be it.  The sky will not fall, my children will be the same, and I will have a finished scarf that is slightly below my dreams but as good as I could have done at the time.

I’m dealing with the force of my own expectations here.  I don’t know where I get off expecting so much.  I’m working on it as I’m working on this scarf.   Think kindly of the crazy lady in the red scarf, please.


lost arts

October 15, 2013

I read the book Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros some years ago and a scene from it just came back to me today.

Part of the book talks about how one of the character’s mother was a renowned maker of shawls.  But the mother died before she could pass on her skills and knowledge, and all the daughter had was a half-finished piece, which she, as a young child, mouthed and took comfort in and knotted and unknotted the strands.  The knowledge was lost forever.

I wonder, if I keep knitting, will my children care about the pieces I make?  Will they want the last thing I was working on?  Will what interest I have in crafting be passed on, or will it be lost?

I do have a plan to teach the kids to knit, regardless of their ultimate interest in it.  Beyond that, I guess I don’t have a say.



June 28, 2013

I’ve been getting into a new fandom recently.

It’s on the small side, and there isn’t a lot of genderbending fics out there.  (Internet rule 63 – if it exists, there is genderbending.)  I’m not hugely into genderbending, but I do find it interesting, especially if done well.  Anyway, I was wondering about this lack and went through some mental exercises, because I immediately got snagged on it.  But the thing is, it also made me really uncomfortable.

Main characters are male.  The one who’s POV we follow is a guy in his middle-30’s who is a career superhero – let’s call him K.  K’s career is in the dumps, he’s in the cusp of being replaced by a  younger guy (the other main character, whom we shall call B), he’s been a widower for some time, his daughter is back in the small town he grew up with his mother.  K’s also a bit of a drinker, he doesn’t cook, he’s socially oblivious and loud.  I’m trying to make him a woman, and suddenly, all of these traits which are acceptable in a man become more difficult to accept in a woman.  (Which just goes to show how entrenched I am in gendered thinking, I guess.)

I don’t think I’m alone in this.  A woman who drinks a little, is devoted to her job to the exclusion of her child and yet is unsuccessful at said job, has no domestic abilities, and can’t handle herself socially (but has a really big heart) would be much more harshly judged.  I judge that characterization quite a bit.   Same personality, different genders/sexes, different reactions.  Each one of these things, especially the child piece, I find difficult to accept in a woman.  (I mean, I find this sort of hard to accept in a man, but less so.  I think I just failed feminism.)

( It kind of sort of brings up a comparison to Cagney and Lacey (I think the Sharon Gless character, Cagney?), and while I never really watched the show, I was definitely aware of the characters.  Maybe I’m thinking about that because there aren’t a lot of other shows that feature two women as protagonists (as opposed to two men, or a man and a woman).)

I think it’s easy to make the foil character, B, a woman, perhaps too easily.  B is career driven, calculating, sort of mean to the main character, revenge-driven.  It’s funny because those things are unlikeable in either gender/sex, but somehow, less likeable in a woman.

Eventually, though, they learn to work together through the Power of Friendship and Trust.

I may actually write this, but it would definitely only be an exercise for me – a little bit to see where I could take the story, a little bit to see if I could actually do it, and a little bit to see if I can get over myself and my gendered way of thinking.  I’m leaning toward the theory that if something makes you uncomfortable, you should write it, because there’s going to be a lot of juice there.

One thing’s for certain.  Nobody, maybe not even me, is going to like it.

And that’s a bit of a shame.

(W thinks I just put too much thought into it.)

AU of my life

May 15, 2013

As I ripped back most of the hat I was making, I realized that in an alternate universe, I would never have to rip back a top-down hat.  I would make it fit perfectly, the first time.  (I have ripped back a lot since I began knitting – so if you really calculate it out, I have probably actually near close to twice the yardage that is present on my Ravelry page.   That’s a heap o’ knitting.)

And in that alternate universe, I would never make a mistake.  Never make things too long or too big or too small.  I would never yell at my children.  My kitchen would always be perfectly clean.  My laundry always done, always neatly folded.

Then I realized something.  That other me would probably have an enormous head for all of this perfection and I would probably hate her.

It’s for the best that I will continue to mess up, just so I can still relate to myself.


May 8, 2012

My mother guilted me into going home this weekend and attending the first birthday party of my sister’s twins.  Yes, it’s very important.  It’s also a bit annoying to discover I am so easily moved by guilt into doing something that is really inconvenient for me.   Then my mother guilted me into buying gifts for the twins, when I had a perfectly good check to give, so I ended up giving both things – all the things.  Then I ran around a bit running errands for her (my mother/my sister – it doesn’t matter in this case as the end result was the same).  No matter how old I get, I am never going to be immune to my mother’s guilt-inducing powers.

It was an okay weekend for other reasons.

I had a couple of conversations with my father about what it was like to live in Korea after the partition but before the war.  He tried to explain about the  mandatory ‘critical sessions.’  Once a week, everybody in the village would go to the meeting hall and there somebody would be selected to be criticized.  “You’re bad!” or “You’ve done bad!”  is what he said lots of people would say, and he demonstrated a lot of pointing.  He still remembers this, having attended these meetings from when he was seven.  He said it didn’t really matter how old you were, you still got yelled at by everybody in the village.  Also, you had to speak quietly in your own house, because you didn’t know if somebody from outside would report you.  People also disappeared from the village.   He said that years after they had crossed into South Korea, his father, my grandfather, caught up with some people from their home village.  It had been rumored that my grandfather’s name was next to be “disappeared.”  (I’m not remembering it exactly, but some people might have shown up a day or two after my grandfather had crossed over, presumably to make him disappear.)

I also learned that this one adult from my childhood wasn’t just a random friend of my father’s.  He was actually a kind of cousin.  (Head, meet desk.)  I am so oblivious, somebody should just whack me on the head periodically, just because.   My brother and sister did a bout of eyerolling because I just am so clueless.   But this explains so much!  Why he felt so free to drape an arm around me and pat my head.  It seems suddenly less  weird (it wasn’t very really creepy, because he wasn’t a creepy guy, but just I had no idea who this guy was which was what made it weird).

Talking to my parents make a lot of my childhood seem less random.  Perhaps I should talk to them more, but because I want to and not because I am guilted into it.

This post is getting long, so I’ll just end it with this:  remind me to tell you the story about my grandmother – it’s like something out of a soap opera.

A little help

January 31, 2012

Somebody tell me to put down the crack and walk away from the possibility of entering into Star Trek Fandom.  Crap on a cracker.  That would mean the rest of my free time for the rest of my life down the toilet.  No, I say.  But it is bloody tempting.

And I’m apparently writing stuff I never thought I would.  More details once I’ve posted.  (orz)

And in other news, I was sort of  late to work today because I was trying to carmelize onions for French Onion Soup.

My priorities in life.  See my work and despair.

Someone, please.  Send help.


January 11, 2012

(Title of post from my college off-campus experience, where someone was camping and spent much time and effort, comically, trying to find fuel tanks for the trip, which I remember being called something like “bumblos” but I’m not certain.)

New Year’s is a big deal in my family.  One of the things that happen is the young bow in respect for the elders and wishes for luck, and the elders give the young some cash money.  There’s also a lot of eating of traditional foods and thinking of the year past and the year ahead and the dead and all that.  The important thing, though, especially to the young, is the money.

My fail (my first of the year, go me!) was that I forgot that.  We were on our way back from DC, on Saturday, the day before New Year’s, literally on the NJ Turnpike, and I’m suddenly thinking, “oh, crap, I forgot New Year’s money.”  W and I have been elders since we had kids.  Maybe since we got married?  (It seems dumb, but I should remember when I turned into an elder, right?)

Anyway, I worry until we get to my parents’ house.   I ask my mom if it’s okay to not give.  She says it’s okay, but W notes that it’s never okay to be those people who don’t have New Year money.   I ask her how much to give, and she says it’s up to me.  I say, “$2?” and she says that’s cheap and makes a face.  So no money is okay, but $2 is too cheap.  Go figure.

I ask my dad if he’s got any spare small bills.  (He used to have lots because he ran a store.)  No.  My brother’s not around, so he’s no help.  So W and I strategize and we go over to the local strip mall and proceed to break a number of 20 dollar bills to get enough singles and fives to give away the next day.  W called it “shaking down the immigrants and natives.”

We get back to my parents’ house.  I check with my mother about the number of kids showing up.  At least 27.  Damn.  Still not enough money.  (Although we are well fortified with single cans of soda, granola bars, battery packs, single serve chip bags and yogurt cups.  I felt like one of those people passing counterfeit bills.)  Although my mother kindly reminds me that if I don’t have enough fives, I can give tens.  Everybody loves tens.  (Sure they do.  I’m not giving away that much money – mostly because I don’t have it.)  My brother shows up, and he’s got some fives.  (He’s really sympathetic because he’s done the exact same thing, but because it was before my parents retired, they had the money.  Then I make a threat to take the money people give my kids and give that away.  My brother laughs, because he’s done that too.)  Then the next morning, my mother coughs up $20 in singles.

The lucky money thing goes well enough.  Some people didn’t show.  We’ve got some singles left over.  Oh, thank goodness.  Safe.

Then some people show up at my mother’s house after the big event.  There go the rest of the money – and still, my mother’s going on about how I should stop counting and just give it away – which is easy for her to say.  I just didn’t want to give an unequal amount of money when it’s obvious that I’m counting out singles, and I might not have enough anyway.  Which I do.  Barely.

I should just take my brother’s advice and if I’m even thinking about being in the vicinity around New Year’s get a whack of money and just leave it with my parents.  It’ll be so much easier than the night of the bumble-o’s.

I told this story to a friend recently, and she thought it was funny, until we told her how many kids.  That brought it all into perspective for her.   Because 27 is a lot of kids.   Then she told the story of how she went to buy the red envelopes for New Year’s money (she’s a long-time Yankee recently married a Canadian-American-Chinese guy) and was thrilled at how many there were in the pack.  Because she could use the envelopes for year and years until they were all used up.  Until she realized that they all had the year on them.  I laughed, because if she were really ethnic, that wouldn’t matter.

Anyway, that’s my New Year story.  Here’s to hoping your New Year goes a little more smoothly than that evening did for us!

No, please

December 19, 2011

In my reverse-engineering of trying to recapture of the Korean of my toddlerhood, I have really tried to figure out ways of saying things politely.  In English, that is captured by “Please,” “Thank you,” and “You’re Welcome.”

There is no ‘please’ in Korean.  It was driving me crazy for a while, because I couldn’t figure out if it was my piss-poor Korean or just the language itself.

I had a long conversation with my father about it.  He thinks it’s funny – of course, there is no ‘please’ in Korean.  Duh, daughter.  Going to English and learning to say ‘please’ was a weird thing for him.  The implied ‘please’ is sort of embedded in the way the sentence is phrased.  Also, I have terrible literal translator-head, where one might be asking, very politely, for something might come out as bluntly as “Give it to me.”

The ‘please’ things makes me wonder if that’s a small semantic step in the stairs of what people might consider rudeness in Koreans.  Which I find ridiculous.   Koreans aren’t rude, especially to people they don’t know.  People are always talking about how polite my father/mother are (as opposed to me, I guess) or their Korean friends are (again, as opposed to me).    There are tons of different politeness levels in Korean, and it is one of the most polite-aware countries I’m aware of (or at least, you get called out a lot if you’re rude and parents are deeply ashamed for raising rude children).   Of course, there’s always going to the exceptions.  But I find most people are pretty polite anywhere you go, if you’re not an asshole.

Anyway, there is no ‘please’ in Korean.  There are, however, many ways to say ‘excuse me’ and ‘sorry.’

I want to believe

September 23, 2011

Okay.  I’m in the fic exchange now.  Woo!  Just waiting til Sunday, when I get my mission.  (Also, why you gotta start to get so interesting, prompts?  And while trying to avoid prompts, I stumbled over the archives for Earthsea fanfic.  Now I want to write that.  Crap.  It’s like trying really, really hard to stay on a diet when I am surrounded by lushness.  It’s sort of hurtful.  So I am playing it safe and keeping to my blog.  Sorry to the 1 person who reads this.  You have become my diet drug metaphor.)

A couple of thoughts.  My previous fandom pairing, whom I still love, I have drifted from a little bit.  I think, for me, it wasn’t because of the lack of canon support.  (I don’t need no stinkin’ canon support.)  I think it was the feeling of a lack of community – I just couldn’t find something I liked.   Nothing on those other communities.  It’s just me.  I poked around a little bit on the Internet, and  I didn’t necessarily want to join up a bunch of different things just to see if I could find a community based around writing and talking about the pairing and about the original work.  I wanted just one thing (one golden, impossible thing).  I didn’t find it.  I don’t know why the fandom doesn’t have something like that.  And I’m no good for starting anything like that. I just want to write and read and squee.  I do not want to moderate/manage.

New pairing definitely has a community, and that was helpful in drawing me in.  (See previous entries on writing for the meme.)  Funny thing is that new pairing doesn’t have any canon support – zippo.  The pairing makes no sense.  I am completely aware of how crazy that sounds.  The characters are only in a couple of panels together – out of something like 52 volumes of graphic novel.  Yet I heart it so.  It helps tremendously that there was a large backlog of good fic.  I suppose I’m all “make me believe, I will heart you and your pairings forever.” Yeah, I’m a bit of a follower.  I’m willing to accept that.

Now I’m wondering how to make that part of my online identity without sounding all freakish/stalker-y.  (Because it’s true.  I read a couple of fabulous stories reccommended by a site whose mission is to rec good fics and I’m starting to get interested in those fandoms now.   And we’re talking crazy fandoms – fandoms that a few weeks ago I would have consigned to the lunatic fringe.  But now…I’m thinking about it.  Or at least, following those writers.)


September 23, 2011

I was complaining a while ago as I was filling a prompt.  The prompt had me continue a fanart/comic work (doujinshi if you’re familiar with the term).  The problem was that the medium.  Art can have conversations between people and they never need exchange names and you still know who they are.

This is not true with text.  It’s kind of a problem, actually, if based on this work, these two characters might not know each other’s names and if they are the same sex so there isn’t even the “he said, she said” thing going on.  I had to create a situation in which they learned each other’s names – or gave each other a mental nickname or something, otherwise, the writing could not continue for me.  How else would they be differentiated?  (Turned it into a theme, even.)

I realized this is the same thing for artists, the medium problem.  One of the characters wears a mask all the time in canon.  But in comic/art, especially extended comics, he’s rendered without a mask.  I’m guessing I know why.  Without the ability to draw in facial expressions, the artist feels they can’t accomplish the point of the story.  (Lots of times it’s a love story, and I could see how a masked face would simply not do for all the emotional things that go on in a story.  Anguish (blank mask).  Desire (blank mask).  Hope (blank mask).   You see?)

Char/blocked, one way or another.  (And yes, I did finish the fic, but I even complained about this issue in the notes at the end.)