Friday, December 31, 2010

Blue Year's Eve

My friends decided to throw a Noon Year's Eve brunch (since one of them has to work at 4:30am tomorrow), so of course, fancy dress and mimosas were a must. I decided to wear my black sparrows dress that I wore to chaperone junior prom last spring, and decided to coordinate my eyes.

My eye look is inspired by Urban Decay's BOS III look, but I definitely needed to adapt it to my eye shape, because my crease is not as high or deep as the model's. So this is what I came up with:



Here's how I did it:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Trying to be rock star-ish

Dear Urban Decay,

I want SO BADLY to love your Black Palette. By all accounts, this should've been THE palette for me, the former-bass-guitar-chick-turned-derby-girl:
But every time I try to create a look using more than one of the shades, they just all look like a muddy black together.

Here is attempt number one:


The "I wish I was a rock star" Look


Thursday, December 23, 2010

New derby photos!

This group photo will have to be redone, since we've changed since then, but it's still a great shot!
Solo photos:

Monday, December 20, 2010

I love my new needle roll!

I've been wanting a good needle roll to store my entire set of DPNs lately, because right now, ALL of my needles are sorted by size and then just lumped together into zippered pencil pouches that are made to fit into a binder. It's not a bad system, but when you have to look for five DPNs among a huge tangle of circular needle cords and what have you, it gets to be a pain.

So I bought this needle roll from Green Planet Yarn today, because when it's your birthday, you can come in any day that month and "make your own sale" by pulling a chip out of a bucket that will either give you 20%, 40%, 60%, or rarely, 100% off your purchase. Obviously, you don't get to add to your sale after you've already chosen your chip. :) I bought some other things too - yarn AND needles, but I was most excited about this one, because it fits ALL my DPNS nicely, and is really cute rolled up.

Rolled up

Frickin' Crystal Palace!!! My 10.5's are longer than all my others (which are Takumi, Brittany, and Chiaogoo)

So, I'm quite pleased. The company that makes this roll is out of SoCal, and is called Shameless Knits.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A living legend

As I was leaving his house, JERRY SELTZER gave me a hug and told me, "You're going to be one of the stars someday. I can just tell." I don't know why he said it, because I didn't think he knew me, but hey, I'll take it :)
It's like meeting Vince McMahon, only nicer and cooler and not scary. 

 *ETA* Here's Jerry's blog post about our evening :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finally went running!

So, I'm tackling the Couch to 10k program. Why that one and not the Couch to 5k program? Because it'll take longer to do C25k and then another program afterwards to get to 10k. I'd rather do it all in one fell swoop. I figure, I'm pretty much starting from "couch" anyway.

So looking at the running plan, I decided to skip the first two weeks. I've never NOT been able to run a full minute repeatedly, even after a long layoff, so I felt it would be a bit redundant. So I'm starting with Week 3, Day 1. It's not too bad, only when I tried to post my workout to my various sites afterwards, the app froze on me. FAIL! I had to delete the app and then re-sync it, which erased my workout. But hey, I know I did it!

So it felt good. The workouts in C210k are longer than the ones in C25k (because obviously, you're training for twice as much distance), and as always I enjoy my alone time. I think that as long as I continue to run, and not allow myself to make excuses to skip workouts, this should proceed along swimmingly.

I also registered for a 10k, to help me cross an item off my 30 Things list. I'll be participating in the Go Green St. Patrick's race, in late March! It's in Los Gatos, which is pretty familiar territory for me because of all my time spent there training. (Attempting to train. Ahem.) So, I'm pretty excited.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why we need to forgive Paris Hilton

As a teacher, one of my biggest fears is that people will dig up some dirt on me that will end up getting me fired. I have to maintain strict lines of propriety to make sure that I don't get myself in trouble. This is one of the unfortunate parts of being a teacher - you are a public figure, so you do not have the same license to misbehave - or, well, not even misbehave so much as cut loose, as people in other professions.

In a way, it's a bit like being a celebrity (but without nearly as much money). I have to be really careful about how I present myself in ALL public spaces, even online, because I never know who is watching or whom I'm going to run into. I have to make sure that I'm dressed appropriately, that I'm not too grungy, that I'm not swearing, drunk, or anything worse.

With the advent of social networking, Youtube, and the vast advances made in cell phone technology, it is easier than ever to spread bad news really fast. So when you have, say, a well-meaning girlfriend who chooses to take a provocative photo for her boyfriend, and she pisses him off somehow or one of his friends gets ahold of his phone with the photo on it, she's in big trouble. Within minutes, she is branded a slut, and no one will look her in the face as she walks by, unless it's to call her names.

And for many girls, this is not something that can be overlooked. It's easy to tell people just to turn the other cheek, but it's far harder to do that when everyone who sees you is trying to spit in your face.

The whole idea of slut-shaming places the blame on the girl - it's HER fault for taking those photos or making that video for her boyfriend. (And yet, if she DOESN'T, she's a prude or she's frigid, right?) How DARE she trust that her boyfriend could be a mature adult about whatever they're fighting about? How DARE she expect him to behave like a decent human being? And much worse, how DARE she view sex as something other than a vehicle for procreation - as, GASP, something that can be fun and enjoyable, for HER?

Why don't we get mad at the boyfriend? Why doesn't anyone slap HIM on the wrist and tell him that he was being an a-hole? Why doesn't anyone get on HIS case for being an awful human being? And why don't we get mad at all of the people who play their part in furthering the slut-shaming? The people who pass along the photos, the people who call her names in the hallway?

Instead, it's HER fault. She was asking for it by participating, right? If she didn't want people to think she was a slut, she shouldn't have taken those photos.

Well, that's bull. I will dare your disapproval and allege that SHE is the victim here, and that you should leave her the hell alone.

I have a major problem with the word "slut" in the first place. What is that word usually used in reference to? Women (well, girls, really - I hear that word more from younger people than from adults) who have a lot of sex. Whether it's because they really, truly enjoy the act of sex and want to gratify their own pleasures, or because they have a warped sense of self-worth where they think that's the only way to gain approval - I've heard the word "slut" used to apply to both. And usually it's used to refer not to women who have a lot of sex with one person, but women who have a lot of sex with a lot of people.

The word "slut" exists as an insult because a lot of people adhere to an antiquated code of sexual morality. Guys are considered studs if they sleep around, but girls are sluts. Girls should be fairly pure - if she has a lot of sexual partners, it's frowned upon.

Now, this idea isn't as strict as it used to be - shows like Sex and the City have gone a long way towards making it okay for women to have sexual agency. But it still exists in different forms, such as slut-shaming and victim-blaming. It's okay in theory (or in entertainment) for women to take control of their bodies and make decisions about their sex lives, but in practice, apparently it's slutty. In practice, society still ascribes to the virgin-whore complex more than they would often like to admit. And that, in combination with a pre-existing tendency towards schadenfreude, can unsurprisingly lead to lives being ruined or even ended through suicide, as recent news headlines have demonstrated.

You know, I have no doubt that there are plenty of people out there who are purely good and want to do good things, but in general, I have to believe that human beings have an infinite capacity for evil. And that that evil doesn't necessarily have to take the form of serial killers and car-bombing terrorists, that that evil is MUCH more prevalent in the form of bullying.

As a high school teacher, I worry more about bullying than I do about whether my students can write essays. I believe it's far more important to be a decent human being than it is to be an intellectual, and that if my kids walk out of here having learned only ONE thing, that it is how to treat other people with respect. So it's quite dismaying to me to read about accounts of bullying. Like most teachers, I have to wonder where it comes from - where do kids learn how to treat each other this way?

And then I look at pop culture. I look at the media, at gossip columnists, at TMZ, at supermarket tabloids. And I realize that it's the ADULTS, who should know better, that are modeling this behavior. Was there a single person in the entire world who felt sorry for Paris Hilton when her sex video was leaked? Okay, okay, she doesn't help her own case much by being an airhead socialite... but did anyone think to be disgusted with her boyfriend rather than her? Did anyone think to make HIM feel ashamed? No way. SHE's the slut. It's her fault for taking control of her own sexuality, right? Regardless of how I feel about Paris Hilton's intellect and the unfortunate amount of media coverage she gets simply for being rich... I tend to think that she really trusted her boyfriend, and he really violated that trust. And yet, she ended up being the bad guy in this situation.

So I think we need to forgive her, at least for this particular situation. I think we as a society need to come to a place where we can issue a giant apology to all the girls of the world who have been victimized by their douchey bastard boyfriends. And we need to make those douchey bastard boyfriends feel SORRY for what they've done.

But will that ever happen? Even Samantha Jones was viewed as a slut in some episodes that I can remember. (Not that she let it bother her much.) This is what leads me to believe that we are in NO way near eradicating sexism and misogyny, that feminists have a loooong way to go. Yeah, women can have professional careers and attend college now, but that's not going to be of much use to the girl who commits suicide because everyone at her school calls her a slut behind her back AND to her face. Just saying.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Squeeeeeeeeeeee

I'm going to Rollercon this summer!!!!

Just purchased my ticket!!!!

I'm waiting to see the schedule of events before booking my flight/rooms, if possible. Also waiting to see who else might join me, so we can book together.

Tell me all your thoughts on God, 'cause I'd really like to meet her.

1- Yesterday morning, I was shaking my head, dismayed, at the Phelps family's (aka, Westboro Baptist Church) latest headlines. They are famous for (among other things) claiming that God is punishing the US for "harboring gays" by allowing US soldiers to die overseas and by sending Hurricane Katrina. They also protest at people's funerals and have a website called God Hates Fags.

2- Last night, I watched The X-Files: I Want to Believe, in which the parents of a young boy with a terminal disease told Scully that they wanted to discontinue treatment for their son and just "put our faith in God now." Even though Scully had a course of treatment (though, experimental) that could possibly help. Also, the main plot of the movie involved a former priest who was a convicted pedophile who keeps praying and praying for forgiveness and absolution, and who tries to help the investigations through his "psychic visions," which may be true or may just be his desperate attempt to get back in with God before he dies.

3- This morning, as with most Sundays, I drove Jolie to her grandma's house. The short drive takes us past St. John's Catholic Church, just down the street from our building, and as always, their parking lot is packed and the street is lined with cars and people trying to get in for the Sunday morning services. It is usually enough to slow traffic.

4- An hour or so ago, in the latest issue of Bitch magazine, there was a short piece on a survey set up online by two brothers of a famous pastor/author, in which thousands of (Christian) males of all ages sound off on what sort of clothing they find to be too inappropriate or sexually provocative, ranging from things like wearing a bikini in public to habitually allowing your bra straps to show. One man even said that wearing a tshirt under a spaghetti strap tank top is too provocative, because it makes (my emphasis) men start imagining what is being hidden under that tshirt. The implication, of course, is that women are responsible for men's urges, and it's our fault if they act like animals, because obviously they are not intelligent human beings who are capable of learning to control themselves.

So... I've had God on my mind a lot this weekend. And what I've come to realize is that I don't understand religion. I really don't.

I did not grow up with religion. I attended Christian school early on in my life, and attended a Catholic high school. My extended family is Buddhist - my grandparents regularly go to a temple, and the few funerals I've attended (knock on wood) have been in the Buddhist tradition. But when it came to day-to-day, week-to-week life, my parents chose not to raise us with religion. I think that maybe in fact they were against it, though they've never actually said that when we were younger - when my brother decided that he wanted to become a Christian a few years ago, they were really uncomfortable with the idea. And they are not happy with the fact that my MIL wants to have Jolie baptized.

When we were discussing a possible baptism, my mother said that she's never wanted to commit to a religion because there are too many bad people doing bad things in the name of God for her to want to apply the same label to herself. And I think I pretty much feel the same way. The bad connotations are too great. I can't just overlook them and only focus on the good - in fact, as much as I love and respect the people I care about who follow certain religions, I think there's something flawed about being able to "pick and choose" what aspects you endorse and which you don't. It reminds me of my junior or senior year of high school: my friends and I were at the mall during prom season, and one of my friends said, "Hey! This is what my dress looks like!!! Only it doesn't have this and that and it's a different color. But otherwise, that's totally my dress!" And one of my other friends said, "So, in other words....... it's NOT."

I understand the importance of spirituality. I understand the idea of cosmic forces governing the universe and the idea of fate or destiny. Obviously I understand the idea of morality. But I can't fathom living my life as a woman who came of age in the 21st century according to a book written thousands of years ago by a bunch of men from the other side of the world from me. To me, that's as crazy as believing in Zeus or Hades. (Actually, Greek and Roman mythology makes a lot more sense to me than Christianity does.) Obviously there are some good tidbits of wisdom in there, but there are a lot of parts in the Bible that have no place in my life, in ANYONE'S lives. We're not allowed to wear man-made materials? Well, I guess God will be smiting everyone who's ever knit with acrylic yarn.

"But everyone KNOWS those aren't the parts we're supposed to follow, Thu." Really? How do you know? Because everyone came to a consensus that they wanted to wear acrylic and eat shellfish, Bible be damned? I don't understand why people can arbitrarily choose to ignore those instructions at their convenience, but they can cling so stubbornly to, say, the idea that homosexuality is evil. Or that women need to be subservient to their men and that they shouldn't be allowed to use birth control. Honestly, I have never understood the concept of religion as a giant Vegas buffet where you can fill your plate with whatever you want.

Labels exist. Stereotypes exist. I'm a woman, which means that I am going to be labeled as contentious, catty, obsessed with my appearance, and constantly insecure. I'm Asian, which means that I will be labeled as bad at driving, eating weird-smelling food, and being really good at math. I have an English degree from a liberal arts college. I knit. I do roller derby. Every choice I make about what I do comes with both negative and positive connotations, but I have to accept and acknowledge them all. I can't claim a label for myself and then turn my back on everyone else who also uses that label. They're all part and parcel of the whole damn puzzle. So that's one thing I don't understand about religion - how you can call yourself such-and-such, but choose to ignore all these other aspects of it. Doesn't that just make you... NOT?

On my Facebook profile, I had "atheist" listed for a long time, but then I finally changed it because I don't think it is a precise enough description of what I believe. "Agnostic" isn't exactly right either. I DON'T believe in God, but more specifically, I don't believe in God-the-way-the-books-tell-it. I believe that God (which may be male or female or both or neither, which may not even be called God-with-a-capital-G, but god-with-a-lowercase-g, or neither of those two), along with the devil, exists in all people and all things. That it can't be described, not in thousands and thousands of pages of writing, that there just aren't words, and that if you can find words to define it, then maybe you're not quite getting it right - kind of like trying to define love or beauty. Or trying to summarize Mike Leigh's movie Naked to someone who's never seen it before.

You know, as a joke, I changed my FB profile to say "My own. Personal. Jesus." (a reference to Depeche Mode), but the more I think about it, the more I'm realizing that it is true. It's my own personal god, my own personal religion, and it's the only one I can live with, because it means that the only person's actions or decisions that I have to answer to or justify are my own. I can't detach from myself the way other people might detach from, say, Reverend Fred Phelps, and say that that's not who I am, because I am me, and I have to be able to look myself in the mirror every day and be able to sleep at night. The only person acting in my name will be me.

So I will continue not being able to understand organized religion. I will continue not to understand when I watch people closing their eyes and raising their arms to the sky while listening to a televangelist. I will continue not to understand why people keep trying to give things up for Lent even though they've tried to give it up the last few years in a row and it's never stuck. It's never going to make sense to me, but I will be secure in the fact that really, it doesn't have to, because I've got my own little-g to be concerned about.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So, yesterday was my birthday.

I turned 28. I have 2 years left before my tens' digit turns over.

I've been thinking a lot about where I thought I would be and what I thought I would have accomplished by the time I turned 30, and I'm not sure I'm quite satisfied with where I am. We only have so many decades in our lives - have I done everything I wanted to in my 20's? Is my life as full as I want it to be?

Pandamonium, skater and coach for SVRG, has a blog where she details her list of 30 things to do before she turns 30, 30 Candles. (She also recently turned 28.) Inspired, I've decided to do the same thing. That way, rather than saying "I do not regret the things I've done, but those I did not do," I can simply say, "I don't have any regrets."

So here's my list. (It's also one of the tabs above.) I'm looking forward to getting started.

Let me know if you want to help/participate!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jammer beanie!

So, I'm pretty proud of this project! It was a white elephant gift for a holiday part amongst my derby friends. (Yes, the Jack Daniels was part of the gift!):



I wanted to write up a sort of pattern, because I have a feeling I will be making quite a few more of these. It's not a well-written pattern, so sorry :) I'm not a designer.I wanted a grown-ups' version of smallsmallfaery's Tiny Jammer hat, but I wanted it to be quick and easy and not involve intarsia like the Know Your Jammer hat from Knockdown Knits. (Sorry, if you're not on Ravelry.com, you won't be able to view those links.)

FAST LIKE A JAMMER beanie!

Materials (which can all be found at your local Michaels, btw):
- 1 skein Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in the color of your choice
- 1 sheet of felt in the color of your choice (even though below I recommend using fabric adhesive, I do not recommend using the felt that is self-adhesive, because it is really stiff)
- Two-sided fabric adhesive sheets (optional) - I used Peel n Stick Fabric Fuse. These come in a small pack of 5 sheets. In my original beanie above, I used 1 sheet per star, but when I make this again, I plan to use only a small bit of adhesive - maybe less than one sheet for the entire beanie. So, if you buy one of these packs, they'll last you.
- Embroidery floss in the color of your choice (I like to match the thread to the hat)
- Tapestry needle
- 16-inch circulars in sizes 13 and 15
-  DPNs in size 15 (this is for the very end when you've decreased too much to use the circs anymore. I don't actually own size 15 DPNs, so I used my 13's, and they were fine)

Gauge: I have no idea. I could make another one and tell you later.

Hat directions:
- With the size 13 circs, cast on 44 stitches and join for working in the round.
- Knit 1.5-2 inches in (k2, p2) rib. (Sorry - again, if I still had it, I could tell you what I did for sure.)
- Switch to the size 15 circs and knit in stockinette stitch (knit every round) until the piece measures 8-9 inches from the cast-on.

Begin decreasing (switch to the DPNS when you feel you need to):
Round: (K 2, k2tog) around - 33 sts remain
Round: (K 1, k2tog) around - 22 sts remain
Round: (K2tog) around - 11 sts remain

Break yarn, leaving a 6" tail. Thread tail through all the loops. Cinch and secure on the inside. Weave in ends.

Star directions:
 - Trace and cut out two identical stars, one for each side. I drew it on paper first, and then cut it out of the felt.
- If you have the adhesive, cut out some pieces just to hold the stars in place on the beanie while you sew. You do not need to go edge-to-edge with the adhesive - in fact, it is preferable not to, because it's REALLY hard to sew through, and my needle was coated with sticky by the time I was done.
- Affix your star in place. Using the embroidery floss, stitch around the edge of the star. I just used a regular straight stitch. I was also thinking that if your thread color is different from both your star and hat color (let's say, red thread on the hat I made above), it would look really cool to use whip stitch as well.



The most important part:
- Be a part of the derby world. Either strap on some skates and join a league, or support your local derby league by attending a bout or scrimmage, or helping to publicize.

For reference, the knitting part took me maybe two hours, and the star part took me about an hour (because I had to figure out the star shape and how to arrange it and all that). I would anticipate it taking me less time in future attempts.

Want to order one from me? Please click on the tab above that says "Crafty Like Ice Is Cold" and fill out the form :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Takin' care of (holiday) business

This year's card :)

Picture Joy Christmas
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