On to Phase Three

Starting tomorrow, we face November's fall. I can't say I'm pleased. November has a bad track record, the colors will all fade away, and though the heat in this building is finally on, I'm still shivering.  

Best and Worst (Warning: My Life Is Mundane)

Last week, I finally finished sewing the curtains for my bedroom windows. It took a while because I had to cut the fabric—a nice, white, vintage cotton (bedspread? it was reeeeally long, but not symmetrical in all four directions like you'd expect a tablecloth to be) originally from Italy, hand-stitched together, with a handmade lace border on one end that's a great detail for curtains, that my aunt had had in her attic in Rochester, NY since an old Italian woman gave it to her—and that requires a clear table. I had to iron and pin the seams and hems, and I hate ironing and pinning. Then I had to sew it. But I finished, although I don't have thread in the right red to hem the grosgrain ribbon I'm using for the curtain tiebacks, and this was exciting, because I made something! Something pretty. And I could stop potentially flashing the pedestrians on the street three stories below. The streetlights still filter in, but at least there's that.

During the sewing process, I came across this little packet in the sewing machine's kit:
As it dawned on me that "3 STK" stood for "drei Stück" (3 pieces) because it said "einfache Nadel" (basic needle), I thought to myself, "This is the best thing I've seen today!"* Sometimes, it's just a nice feeling to know that some things aren't made in Asia. And the design of the little needle packet is simple but pleasing, and it's cool that it wasn't translated into English.

Now, the reason I was looking for extra sewing machine needles is that my theoretically higher-quality German needle did not withstand its meeting with a pin:
Oops. I hate pins.

This broken needle unfortunately foreshadowed events that evening. I was biking to work, canvas bag hanging from the handlebar because the handles on the bag are too small to stay on a shoulder, and suddenly there was this loud horrible noise and my bike wasn't moving and RRRRIP and my bag was caught in the wheel. Okay. I took out the small things that could get lost, put them in my pockets, and hoped I wouldn't lose my glasses case through the gaping hole at the bottom of the bag.

I stopped at the bike racks by the restaurant and pulled out my bike lock, expecting the usual sight and sound of all my keys coming out with it because I never pull the bike lock key out when I unlock it. Nope.
Instead, there was just a little stub of key sticking out. The head of the key was still attached to the errant keychain. Worst sight of the day. Look at how stretched out my (previously perfectly round, two circles thick) keyring got from getting caught in the bike wheel! Thank goodness my brother was walking down the street at just that moment, because he was able to lock my bike up in his building, and I rushed to work. The worst part was that my extra bike lock key met its death while loose in my pocket one day this spring. It folded just enough to crack. I had known the keys were low quality and had been meaning to get a copy made for months, but hadn't gotten around to it.

It turned out that the locksmith I went to the next day (Vogel! Another German word! Since 1913!) could make copies from the stub of key that had been stuck in the lock, so I didn't have to waste money on a new one. But seriously. That picture. My keyring is hilarious now. (No, it didn't occur to me to buy a new keyring while I was at a locksmith.)

The worst sight of today undoubtedly occurred while I was preparing broccoli to go with my lunch. I had three little pieces in the pan already and then accidentally lopped off a huge chunk. I picked up the chunk, preparing to cut it into smaller pieces, when I saw something wriggle.
I don't have a problem with caterpillars, but I do have a problem with bugs in my food. I shrieked. The cats were perturbed. Upon closer inspection, I noticed there was a nasty, webby material in between the stems. I threw it all back in the bag and back into the fridge. (The fridge! Where it had been for a few days! Why were they alive?) When I got it out tonight to show Emma, I discovered there was a second caterpillar, half out of a cocoon-like structure. Don't they know they're supposed to come out as butterflies? And not in my broccoli. And not in the fridge. Ew.
Eeeeeeeeeeew. (Also, Blogger has captions now? This is great. Except for the apparent double spacing.)
This was nothing like Sunday's caterpillar experience. So cute, so fuzzy, so happily (until I used the flash to get his stripes) and appropriately on the ground on Belle Isle. He wasn't so safe either, being in the middle of the path, but I think he was doing all right.
To round this out, let's end with the best sight of today. Emma and I made an expedition to IKEA and had a delightful lunch/dinner. I guess the scary broccoli was (meant to be) part of my lunch, and IKEA followed that and the FREE cupcake at the Cupcake Station, so IKEA was probably dinner.
Look at that. Meatballs, mashed potatoes, apple cake—wait, didn't mean to give away that we got dessert after cupcakes, but there was a misleading buy one dessert, get one free deal so we couldn't help it also let's not talk about the 1 a.m. donuts in Ypsi last night—and beautiful sunlight through the huge windows. Sure, the view out of IKEA is never great, because it's bound to be a huge parking lot, but the clouds and the sun were pretty enough to temporarily make up for the commercial sprawl.
Freiburg's IKEA does have a better view than Canton's, parking lot and all, because there are the hills of the Black Forest
with wind turbines atop. But Canton's was good today.
I think dinner might not have been the best sight. I think it might have been this:
Stuffed animal mountain, yes. Customary giant hot dog ad, always funny (in a lame way). I love the elephants. Giant sharks, hilarious. But wait. Wait. Is that—? Could that be—?
Weasels. Maybe ferrets. We considered stoats. But weasels is funniest. There's nothing not funny about a weasel. Just say it. Weasel.

I didn't buy one, no matter how funny, or how cheap stuffed animals at IKEA are. (The huge sharks are surprisingly affordable.) I do own an IKEA rat, because who buys a stuffed animal rat? My mom owns one too. We love them. But I didn't buy a weasel. I'm broke, remember?

*You might think the paycheck I received that evening was better, but I'm not sure. Paying the bills isn't that exciting. It's just one of the basic things I require.

Windy Tidings

I got up half an hour ago, but the feeling of dread from the dream I was having right before I woke up is still gusting within my chest—I stayed at college for an extra semester but for unclear reasons never went to art history lecture, which was taught by my sixth grade science teacher (??), and then I accidentally skipped the final exam, and was hanging out with my ex-boyfriend (let's double the stress), and there was severe weather outside so we couldn't go to the beach...mhm, U of M was somehow on a beach—well anyway, this pointless anxiety is holding steady, making me not want to go to work.

I can hear the wind outside. Through my skylights, I can watch the trees directly above my attic apartment shake in said wind. I think about how most of my most treasured belongings are in this room. The Midwest is looking at a wind storm of epic proportions. Like, maybe 60 mph winds? I'm walking to work today instead of biking.


Did I mention that Emma and I live in an attic? We don't have access to the basement, as far as I know Good thing I'll be at work until four o'clock. We've got a basement there. I just hope I don't have to hide in the walk-in freezer. Emma says if it comes down to it, she'll come to the restaurant and hide in the basement with me, since we don't really have one. She'd even hide in the freezer with me. Thank god I can't think of a reason to be in the freezer, 'cause I definitely don't want to be in it. That thing is COLD. If full of cheesecake.

La Vida Es Dura

Everything is hard. I know, I know. It's not true. We're all just whiny, spoiled (in one way or another), lazy college students/grads/whatever else we are. Crappy adults, I guess. Anything that requires us to tear ourselves away from the internet—even if it's just to write an email, which is on the internet for god's sake—is hard.

My assertion that everything is hard probably shouldn't come as a shock, considering I routinely refer to the following things as "the hardest thing":
  • Lunch.
  • Brushing my teeth, washing my face, and going to bed.
  • Getting out of bed.
No, seriously. Getting out of bed is my number one hardest thing ten months out of twelve, at least if you're analyzing the frequency with which I say things. To be fair, term papers only come twice a year on average, whereas the morning comes without fail every single day, and it's discouragingly cold outside of my covers probably seven months a year in Michigan. It was still September when I started writing this post (maybe blogging belongs on the list of hardest things), but if I made twice as much money as I do (read: enough to pay my rent, eat, and pay back college loans), I would have been out buying flannel sheets that very day. And come to think of it, sometimes even in May you need two comforters if the heat's no longer on.

The first two years of college, I wasn't really ever cold. The dorms are heated more than anyone really wants, and my mom was concerned that walking was my only mode of transportation, so I owned snow boots for the first time in at least five years. Also an umbrella, even though I tried to resist. (Why?) The rain boot population on campus was starting to rise, and I got these great pink and orange polka-dotted ones that were at least a half size too big but made me look forward to rainy days. Braving the elements to make it to lecture in the MLB, or class in the USB—buildings on the opposite side of campus, how trying!—and arriving still warm and dry was a pleasantly tangible accomplishment. That I could do this in under ten minutes made it better. My reward at the end of the brisk walk was that I got to sit in a warm auditorium in a nest of my coat and scarf and hat and gloves, full Nalgene on the floor next to me, and relax. Lectures are easy, at least when they're literature or anthropology. They were usually anthropology. All I had to do was pay attention and write down everything important the professor said. I'm good at notes. Even if I struggled to stay awake in some lectures, the topics were interesting in general, if sometimes poorly executed.

Wait, what happened to life being hard? Where has my complaining gone? The key here is that I'm remembering freshman and sophomore years. (The good old days? Not exactly, but okay.) Senior year, back from Germany, I lived ten minutes off campus and down a hill. The solution was my bike—but even with a rain jacket, that was awful in the rain. And then the snow. And the lack of decent plowing in this town. I didn't touch my bike for at least two months. One day this September, I walked to work because it was raining. It turned out that it was barely raining, and I might as well have biked, but oh well. Walking gave me more time to think about how I didn't want to go to work and interact with my coworkers. It was my first full day working at the restaurant I now spend about twenty-five hours at per week. (Newsflash! I have a job!) I walked across the Diag, through the throngs of students on their way to class, something I usually avoid when on a bike. As I walked under the Engineering Arch—such a familiar sight my first two years of college—I thought of it resplendent in its October ivy, and how I used to walk the opposite direction under it in the morning, and oh how I wished I was on my way to learn about kinship structures, or human evolution, or even that silly class on Scandinavian civilization. Instead, an unfamiliar industrial kitchen. Customers.
Here is the arch in the beautiful colors of fall 2006.

Now I live practically on campus again, but on the other side. I'm close to everything. But unlike the dorms, there's no heat so far. Someday (soon? please?) the landlord will turn it on, and maybe getting out of bed will be hard only because of the weight of my legs pulling me down, and not because my hands will freeze if I get out from under the covers. But, to add to my life-is-hard list, a disturbing discovery I made last week: there are only two heat vents in our entire attic apartment. One in each bedroom. In addition to two bedrooms, we have a bathroom, a big area containing the kitchen and a random couch and the staircase, and then a nook coming off the kitchen which we call the living room. And only two heat vents. Heat rises, so the attic should be warm, right? Or, maybe not. The roof and the old windows and the skylights may just invite the heat out into the big, cold world around us.

This is pretty much the post I wanted to write originally. Then life got even harder. It was almost one a.m., and I was about to get ready for bed, but first I wanted to get the last few pieces of the pizza Emma had made me off the cookie sheet and into the fridge. It wouldn't budge. I did as Emma had done, prying the pieces off with a knife. Alas, she used a butter knife, whereas I used the sharp knife I had used to cut the slices. You see where this is going. I pretty much stabbed myself in the left palm right under my pointer finger, because I am an idiot. We were at the ER until four a.m. I have two stitches, I'm not supposed to do dishes, and I work in a restaurant where everyone does dishes. I went back to get my stitches out after the seven to ten days were up, but no luck; instead, one more week of stitches for me. I'm allowed to do dishes now, but I'm still not supposed to keep it wet for very long, so that's a problem. Life is hard.