Saturday, September 11, 2010

when you want it bad

So what do you do when you fall madly in love—I mean, like, deeply, madly in love—with a new pattern only to realize that you just don’t have the extra $100 to buy the most beautiful yarn to knit it up? Well, you bemoan your career choice and you calculate the relative harm of living on boxed macaroni for a month. Then you remember, in a stunningly wonderful moment of clarity, that you might just have all the yarn you need. You find yourself at your other house in Kentucky, furiously pawing through boxes of old fabric and tangled yarn. You remember that your kindly dissertation advisor once handed you a whole bin of sea blue merino that she had knit up into a kind of shapeless mess of a tunic before her arms failed her and she had to retire her needles. Her misfortune becomes your fortune.

You feel guilty for about ten minutes. You look at all that knitting and you imagine her working that stockinette stitch between bursts of critical brilliance during a cold Massachusetts winter long before you met her. You even imagine her, for a second, as Penelope spinning her fleece in anticipation of another's arrival.
But then, well, then you can't stand the guilt any longer. You rip into it. You frog it in the most ravenous way. And then you find yourself enveloped between piles of plush and curling merino. You feel both totally delighted and a little bit devious. You wonder if you should tell her about the destruction, err, the recycling. You think maybe you will, one day.
You stuff the permed skeins in your suitcase and return to your other house in Philadelphia. There you draw them a good, warm bath. You think for a moment about joining the skeins in the tub, to really luxuriate in their supple goodness. You decide that that's downright creepy.
You let them soak on their own for a good thirty minutes or so, until they've drowned and straightened themselves out. The water cools and you squeeze it out. For a second you wonder if this is a bit like milking a cow, and you wish you were on a farm in Minnesota, the place you've decided you and J really should live. You decide it's not at all like milking a cow.
You hang them up to dry over night. You decide that it's a good idea to open the bathroom window wide and even raise the blinds. You think J would be horrified by this, but you do it anyway.
In the morning, you lay the perfectly straightened skeins on your bed and you revel in their apparent perfection. Then, in flash of terror, you wonder if you really do have enough merino. You realize that you made no attempt to measure the skeins and you realize that running out of yarn would be a disaster in this case because you have no idea what kind of yarn this really is. But you forge ahead because that's what you tend to do.

You find yourself with eleven balls, some a bit beefier than others. Surely you have 1176 yards. You love them in any case. You decide to reconcile yourself to the fact that this sweater might just have three-quarters-length sleeves.

You realize that writing in the 2nd person might suggest that you're coming unhinged. But then you remember that the 2nd person always works in small doses.


In 17 days I’m getting on a plane and flying to Kentucky to be with J for a whole month. Imagine that, married folks getting to be together for four sweet weeks. It’s too bad that those will be weeks of intense job hunting and ones without a reprieve from my work here. But still, we’ll wake up in the same place each day and that seems about the best thing I can imagine these days.

The only glitch is that between now and then, over these next 17 days, life gets really nutty. My history of the college is due in a week. There are about 75 unfinished things left to do, some tiny—like rechecking page numbers for the 5th time—and some huge—like making sure we secure all of the permissions we need or actually drafting the last 30 captions—and I’m super anxious that at least a dozen won’t get resolved. Then there’s the conference I’ve been working on for the last year that opens on the 23rd. I can’t even bring myself to articulate all that needs to be done between now and then on that front. Oh and then there’s two guest appearances in different colleagues courses this week and the on-going revision and drafting of my job materials for yet-to-materialize jobs. As I often reiterate, it’s too much and it’s been too much for me for too long. But in 17 days, well, in 17 days, I’m going to sit outside in Kentucky, breathe the Appalachian air and let it go.