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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Paying my Debt

This is the post I owed you on Wednesday (well, Thursday too). I was going to follow it with a nice long explantation about what I was trying to do with it, but then I figured it'd be more interesting to see what you thought I was doing with it. So, don't make me beg, but seriously, I'd like your feedback in the comments. This isn't meant to be anything deep or fancy, just a bit of experimental flash fiction; a way to challenge myself. And I'm curious to know what does and doesn't work.
P.S. None of these names are of people I know- I made them up.

Saving Face

Meredith Pelgic tried her best after last night, but is giving up. Leslie Master, Nancy Turner, Abagail Collins, Taylor Rigdon
9 hours ago Comment Like
             < 3 people like this
            Amy Daniels Oh no! Meredith, what happened? Is everything okay?
            9 hours ago
            Abagail Collins hee hee ribbit ribbit
            9 hours ago
            Amy Daniels ribbit ribbit???
            9 hours ago
Leslie Master Sometimes you just have to move on. Good call.
            9 hours ago
            Amy Daniels What is going on here? Are you okay Meredith?
            8 hours ago
Katherine Reynolds Not sure what happened, but I’m sure it will work out in the end :)
8 hours ago
Taylor Rigdon Disagree (1) Giving up to easy, Mer. (wish there was a ‘dislike’ button. Had to revert to Rav. Instead ;)
7 hours ago
Nancy Turner Knot going to try again? ;)
6 hours ago
Katherine Reynolds Amy Daniels I think this is about knitting.
5 hours ago
Meredith Pelgic Yep, Katie, it is. Sorry I made you worry, Amy. Just had a chance to get back on FB.
5 hours ago
Amy Daniels I was really worried! :( Glad its all ok :)
5 hours ago

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sharing

If there is one thing I think every knitter loves, it is being able to share their art with someone else. Today, I had the opportunity to share knitting with not one, but nearly 40 someone elses.

After a year of watching me knit, many of the students I work with wanted to learn themselves. I wanted to be able to give them everything they'd need to keep, so I decided to teach them to finger knit instead of knitting with needles (I have a lot of needles, but not enough to give them away). I asked my knitting group for any yarn they didn't want, and them spent several nights with my Mom's help winding Red Heart Super Saver (aka, the yarn no one wanted) into balls for the students to use.

The first step of finger knitting is to make a slip knit, and I quickly realized that teaching a large group of students how to tie a slipknot is rather difficult. So I just had them tie the yarn on their index finger. It took most students two or three tries to get the hang of the technique, but once they got going, they didn't want to stop. Several were able to finish a scarf during their class period, and many of those who didn't finish in class did so during lunch.

One great thing was that it wasn't just the girls that were interested in learning. At least one boy in each class joined out impromptu knitting circle. Other students, who initially felt they were too cool to knit, slowly made their way over throughout the period, and eventually decided that maybe knitting wasn't so bad after all.

But perhaps the best thing was the pride the students took in their work. Every single student who finished a scarf wore it the rest of the day. And those who didn't proudly showed off the progress they had made to their classmates.

I'm not really sure how to bring this post to a conclusion. I don't think learning how to knit is going to drastically change anyone's life. But then again, knitting is what led me to meet my best friends in college, and what kept me going this summer. So maybe, somewhere along the line, these students' lives will be different. Because they know how to knit.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Brilliance Will Have to Wait

I know, I said I'd have a brilliant post for you today, but I'm so beat I can barely string together a coherent thought. I owe you one.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Going to the Magic Game!

So no post tonight (except this one). But I have one in my head for tomorrow. It's a brilliant one. Promise.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Believing in the (Orlando) Magic

I am not a sports fanatic. Oh, I can follow most sports games pretty well (even football, thanks to my years in marching band), but I've never been one to watch a game when I can play one. That being said, I have always been a loyal follower of the Orlando Magic, and can remember the days of Penny, Grant, and Shaq.

The last couple of years have been a resurgence of that old Magic team I remember, and it has been exciting to share the games with my friends and family. I love watching my Mom cheer the players on from our living room, and my Dad and brother yell at the ref. Even I join in on jumping up and shouting for a good play.

This year has been especially fun, as my family found ways to make sure we never missed a Magic game- even in Seattle and Canada. Our first night in Seattle, we hunted down a sports bar to watch the second game of round two of the playoffs. When we went back in the afternoon for game 3, the same waitress who had seated us the first time was there. "Magic playing again?" she asked, then set us up at a table with a clear view of the TV showing the game.

Game 4 happened to fall on the same day as our trip to Canada, and we had come to grips with the fact that we were going to miss it (a hard fact for my Dad and brother), when lo and behold, what do I see as we walk into Victoria, but a sports bar attached to a hotel.

We went in, but thought our luck may have run out when we saw that a hockey game was on, and Canada was playing. But, figuring we had nothing to lose, my brother went up to the bar to explain the situation (and thus proved that Orlando Magic fans can in fact be as loyal as Canadian hockey fans), and they agreed to put the game on one little TV in the back.

So, here we are, in game four of the final round of playoffs, Orlando vs. Boston. The record is 3-0, Boston. I'm not going to make any claims, or predictions (I'm superstitious in two areas of life- theatre, and sports), but I will say it would be great to see one last game in the Amway Arena (I remember when it was the Orlando Arena). And, though I may well be eating these words, I admit that I still believe in the Magic, and I also believe that just because something has never been done, it doesn't mean it can't be. And if you don't get what I mean by that last sentence, I'm not explaining. Superstition, you know.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Untangled

Another knitting-as-a-metaphor-for-life post (sorry)


Last night I was untangling things, both literally and metaphorically. Nothing particularly bad happened yesterday, but a lot of little things that have been building up for a while reached the tipping point, and I just couldn't handle it any more.

Normally, when I'm upset, I turn to knitting, but I'd just finished a project, and really didn't have the motivation to start another one.

I remembered the the giant tangle I had made when trying to wind my own yarn, and while normally untangling yarn just makes me frustrated, for someone reason, the idea appealed to me.

So I pulled the tangle into my lap, and bagin to pick at it, gently teasing out strands, and following loops to their starting points. And the strange thing was, while I was working out the yarn tangles with my hands, my other tangles were being worked out in my mind.

There is still a knot in the yarn. It's much smaller than the one I started with, but is also more complicated to figure out how to undo. The tangle in my mind is much the same way. I've gotten the little knots out of the way, and am now face to face with the real issues. But now that I can see them, I know I can untangle them too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Roads Diverged...

The other day I was catching up with a friend, and talking about how my decision to go to graduate school was harder than I'd expected.

I've worked hard to make myself a life here this past year, and the thought of leaving it is a little saddening, especially when it comes to leaving the students I've been blessed to work with. Whenever I'd previously talked about how I like to teach, I'd say that I'd be willing to work with any age group- except middle school. So, of course, when I went job hunting after college, the only teaching opportunity that presented itself was at a middle school- the very same one I'd gone to.

Since then, twice a week, I've worked as a middle school tutor and made a surprising discovery. I love it. And I love my students. The age group- confused and overwhelmed as they are- is wonderful. While the drama the students make their lives out to be can get old, I've learned to just smile at it, and appreciate the potential I see in them.

So, why the title of the post? It's a line from a "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, a poem referenced several times in my conversation with my friend. We discussed decisions, and what it meant to have free will, and if choices are always either right or wrong. If, when faced with a decision, one choice is always God's plan, and the other not. And what I realized is that perhaps what it means to have free will is that sometimes we have decisions where both choices are right.

Going to graduate school is no more a "right choice" for me than staying here and getting my teaching certificate is. But it is the choice I've made. "And that," to quote Frost, "Has made all the difference".

And since it's Wednesday, I owe you a bit of creative writing. The following is a poem I wrote in college in response to "The Road Not Taken".


The Woods: In Retrospect

In these long forgotten woods I stand,
A changed man from when I last passed by.
Remembered roads lead from either hand;
One leads to lonely, now well-traveled land,
The other once dismissed with a sigh.

Was there so much virtue to be found,
In a road not used by other men?
Did I think their judgment so unsound,
That by walking on less trodden ground,
I’d ensure I’d never fall again?

Should I choose to go a different way,
Having now another choice to make?
And take the well worn path, come what may,
And to learn what others have to say;
Though I think the past was no mistake.

Others know lessons already learned,
Teachings I could never find alone.
And if their lessons I choose to spurn,
Then so by falling, my fate I’ve earned,
This, the cost of walking on my own. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seattle in 10

A few days I got back from a wonderful family vacation in Seattle, Washington with a day-trip in Victoria, B.C. Since then, I've trying to figure out how to condense a weeks worth of adventures into one post. So, I've decided to make a list of the top 10 things my family did. I was going to order this list, but decided that I didn't feel like trying to rank everything.

1. Woodland Park Zoo- My brother is a fan of Animal Planet's Meerkat Manor, so when we saw that the Seattle Zoo had a new Meerkat exhibit, we knew we had to go. It was a great zoo, and had more the feeling of a nature walk than an exhibition of animals in cages. The best part, though, was watching my brother. He wanted to see everything! We'd expected to make a quick hour trip of it, but stayed nearly three hours. My favourite animal was the Siamang, a monkey that mates for life and sings duets with its mate. We were fortunate to run into a student who was studying the zoo's Siamang pair, and told us the story behind them.

2. Seattle Aquarium- Beautiful is one of the words that comes to mind. The Seattle Aquarium showcased some of the most gorgeous sea-life I've ever seen- and a lot of it was native to the Seattle area. Like many of the places we visited, the aquarium was also very eco-friendly.

3. Underground Tour- Seattle is a city with two layers- one in top, and one underneath. This joke and pun ladened tour took us through the underground part of the city while giving a brief history of Seattle. It was hard to follow sometimes, but very cool, and entertaining. Rated PG for mild language.

4. Victoria, B.C.- We took the Victoria Clipper over to this beautiful island. I enjoyed just walking around and seeing everything, but my favourite thing was a wonderful yarn store called Knotty by Nature. They were very friendly, and let me try out a one of their spinning wheels! First time spinning on a wheel, and I have to admit, it was harder than I thought. I bought so local fibre there, and I think I'm going to save it till I have a wheel of my own. The highlight of our visit, however, was finding a sports grill and convincing the manager to turn off hockey on a tiny TV in the back and put on the Magic game.

5. Pike Market- pretty much the must-do tourist thing in Seattle, the abundance of unique shops still made this a worthwhile visit. And, of course, we bought a fish.

6. The Original Starbucks- We're not a big Starbucks family, but the original Starbucks was just down the street from our hotel, and the only coffee place that opened early enough to meet my family's early morning caffine fix. Every morning of the trip my Mom and Dad enjoyed a Cafe latte, my brother had a Carmel Macchiato, and I savoured a Chai latte.

7. Shopping- Besides the actual market, there is some excellent shopping in Seattle- and I don't like shopping. We found a wonderful antique store, where my Dad and I both bought hats.

8. Pensione Nichols- Modled after an Euroupean Bed and Breakfast, this is where we stayed. We'd only planned to stay there one night, but ended up staying the whole trip in the family sized suite (the one bathroom was a bit challegeing). It was noisy at night, but worth it for the location- literally around the corner from Pike Place Market. And the information and help we received from the manager (I think) Rich, was alone worth it.

9. Cooking in- Our last night in Seattle, we decided to take advantage of our kitchen. My Mom and I had a wonderful time sampling wares in the Market, and putting together a meal of fresh produce and even fresh garlic noodles.

10. No computer- I have to admit- this social media butterfly enjoyed being disconnected for a while. I admit to checking Twitter a few times, and to using my parents' iPhone to look up yarn stores, but it was nice to take a break from the hectic pace of the online world I work in.

Sorry for typos. I'm too tired and lazy too proofread right now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Writing Workshop

One last post before I go out of town and have limited internet access. 

While reading Thomas Thorspecken's blog about a month ago, I saw a sketch he'd made at a writing workshop. The thought of attending such a workshop appealed to me, so I followed his link to MAD about Words, and saw registration was open for a workshop in Flash Fiction. Not sure what that was, I googled it and discovered that flash fiction is fiction in 1,000 words or less- which is about 80% of what I write anyways. It seemed like a perfect fit for me, so I signed up.

I really enjoyed the workshop, and the opportunity to be with other people who took their writing seriously. As part of the workshop we were asked to write on separate slips of paper a word, an emotion, and a frame for a story (post-it notes, a letter, sitting at a diner, etc.). Then we mixed them up and picked one for each category. I drew "invasion", "judgmental", and "the song you never heard". Then we were told that the word was the title of the story, the emotion the tone, and we had to write within the given framework. We had just under an hour to write a piece of flash fiction.

At first, my frame gave me some trouble. Should I write song lyrics? But then it would be that a song that was heard. In the end, I came up with the following. Enjoy! (203 words, by the way)


Invasion
           
 She finally relaxed, letting the music wash over her, taking comfort in the empty a seat to her left and the torn up ticket on the sidewalk.

Now she could breathe again. There was no guilt, just peace. The concert had been her idea anyway, and now she could enjoy it. Could enjoy everything.

She closed her eyes as the music built up, louder and louder, taking her heart with it. Then, with a final crash, it faded into silence, into peace. And so did she.

***
He came out of nowhere. Must have snuck in while she was in the bathroom. Because when she returned after intermission, there he was, grinning.
            
“You know, they keep everything on computers these days. You don’t need a piece of paper to get in. Just your ID.
            
She didn’t answer. She would have to climb over him to get to her seat. Was it worth it?
            
“Look, I just want to talk, OK? Let’s enjoy the rest of the concert, then go somewhere quiet.”
            
She shook her head. She was done with talking, done with it all.
           
The orchestra was warming up again, getting to begin their next piece, She left before it started. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cleaning

I’ve explained to people before that the state of my room often reflects the state of my mind. Some people, upon hearing this, and seeing the mess that my room often is, are sometimes concerned. To them I want to explain; I can and do exists quite happily in the messy disorganized state my room appears to be in. When I clean it up, it is not so much for myself, but so that others can make sense of the mess. Writing is my mental equivalent to cleaning my room. I won’t deny that sometimes it’s nice to find a book or a thought exactly where I last left it, but I can always find it in the end. And sometimes, the search is even more fun that the discovery. How boring, if everything was always where I thought it was! I’d never find anything new.

That being said, my room is currently a disaster zone, and I'm afraid I can only blame so much of it on entropy. I have a lot of cleaning and organizing to do, both in my room and in my mind. I'm going on vacation this week, and I hope packing will take care of my room and resting will take care of the rest of me. I'll try to post while I'm gone, but I'm not taking my laptop, only my iTouch (loaded with 6 episodes of Doctor Who, a small library's worth of books, and a chess game that can either be one or two player- and of course all my knitting apps). 

All of which is to say, I may or may not be posting for the next week. Also, I'm working on developing an idea I had the other day, and I'l hopefully be able to share it with you all in the next couple of weeks. Hope you're up for a challenge :)

Over and out.