Back (for good?)

I have had a rough semester. It’s the reason I ended up dropping the blog, ended up withdrawing from a lot of my social activities, and a lot of my hobbies so I could focus on school and my two jobs. It’s summer now, which means FREE TIME! I may go back to Musings Monday, WIP Wednesday, and Finished/Photography Fridays if possible.

Musings Monday is most likely going to end up turning into “let’s document my attempts to pick up new hobbies!”  Currently I’m trying to learn how to code HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Who knows, I may get good enough to redesign my blogger (so if it goes wonky one day, you’ll know why). And maybe get hired by a company! Total sarcasm. I don’t think I’ll be able to get that good enough.

I’m also trying to start up my own store so I can make some extra money, and I’m also co-blogger of a travel tumblr blog. My friend and I are doing it for funsies, mostly. we shall see! Summer should be good to me, especially since I am going home frequently, working, and traveling abroad.

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Photography Fridays

So on Wednesday I saw that the mountains looked really nice, and so did the sky during sunset. Why is that? The gross inversion that envelops the city every year. Let’s admit it. It looks pretty but it’s a killer. Since I couldn’t leave campus after 5PM due to work, I snagged my camera and took pictures of the mountain ranges to the west and to the south. I’m glad I did. I found out that I wasn’t the only one wanting to take pictures- a few other people were doing it, too!

Please do not repost this image. Copyright belongs to me.

WIP Wednesday #1- Blankets and Hats, oh my!

Welcome to the first WIP Wednesday! I feel like a lot of them are going to feature the same things over and over, just in various stages of completion. But without further ado, here are my WIPs of the week!
1. Florida Gator blanket
So my dad graduated from University of Florida. He loves them even though their football team sucked this year. Last year, I got the idea to make him a blanket with Alfred on it. I made my mom a Donald Duck blanket, so he deserved a blanket with something he loved. Good idea, right?
WRONG.
I started this last… May? June? Ravelry tells me May 1st. It’s not even half-way finished. I don’t have the TIME. Luckily, I’ll have time this summer. I’m excited for that.
2. Hexagon Flower Blanket
This was inspired by a blanket I had as a kid. The construction is way different, though. However, it’s a fun and mindless project. It’s going to need some serious blocking when it’s done, though, as seen in the flower above.
3. N7 Beanie
Aaahhhh… my favorite project. Because it’s Mass Effect inspired. I love Mass Effect. The third game screwed me up badly but it was so much fun. I made two beanies inspired by the series already, so this is the third in that trilogy of hats! I’m currently working on the stripe. I’m thinking the red’s going to end after this row because it’s becoming a lot bigger than I intended it to be. Let’s see how it turns out! I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes.

National Cuisine

I’m taking a Japanese civilizations class that’s all about food. Today we were discussing kaiseki, which had like a ton of rules and etiquette bound to it. Kaiseki is basically often a “main dish” surrounded by smaller dishes and are on trays so it’s eaten off the ground. This was the beginnings of what we now consider Japanese national cuisine. It’s fascinating how it began!

Now why did I find this fascinating? In my approximately six years of studying Japanese culture and history formally, it never occurred to me that Japan as a nation was relatively young. Sure, it’s existed as a country, but a national identity did not exist for a long time. Japan remained splintered until Oda Nobunaga started to unify the provinces. This was then followed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and finally Tokugawa Ieyasu. It wasn’t until the Tokugawa were ruling that Japanese cuisine became more standard.

White rice? Surprisingly not that widely consumed until the late Tokugawa era because it was expensive and only the rich could afford it. It was a method of measuring wealth and power.

So what we consider “Japanese cuisine” now is actually a relatively young concept (really only started in the 1960s, after the world wars) and was previously only available to a select few. Commoners had to make do. It had a lot of rules, some of which still exist today!

It’s amazing how things suddenly fall into context. It gives me this happy feeling.

Regularly Scheduled Programming? What??

So I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking (a dangerous past time I know) and decided that starting next week, I’ll be having three days that’ll occasionally get to be a series! Mondays will be called “Musings Monday,” Wednesdays will be “WIP Wednesday” (for all my knitting/crocheting stuff), and Fridays will be either “Photography Friday” or “Finished Friday” (for my photography or finished projects, if any). I’ll try to keep it as regular as possible, but with my busy schedule, sometimes it won’t happen.

When is it Okay to Tell Someone to Stop Being Too Much of Something?

It’s been a bad week for me. On Wednesday, after having a long day, I found out a good friend got fired from his job. He was, truthfully, one of the few people whose company I genuinely enjoyed at this job, with its long nights and hardships. He said that essentially it summed up to him being “too trusting” of people. Like that’s a bad thing? So after this, trying to console our good friend about this friend being fired, and a sexist remark from another mutual friend that left me fuming, I went to bed early instead of trying to study.

Then Thursday, my supervisor made a remark about the events of Wednesday night about how she would’ve just gone back to her room instead of trying to help this friend through the news. My jaw almost dropped. I had to serve two roles Wednesday night almost simultaneously. Not only is that going against what my job description is, that is rude and disrespectful as a friend. So I ended up being mad at my supervisor. I’m still mad at her. I went back to my room so I could focus on studying for a test on Tuesday when I came across two of my co-workers in the hall. They asked me to swipe them into the key room so that one of them could get back into her room because she forgot her keys. So I did, and asked the one who didn’t forget her keys, “Why didn’t you just go back to your room? It’s right down the hall.”

“Oh, you happened to be coming down the hall so I decided to ask you!” she replied. I sighed and rolled my eyes. The next thing she said touched a nerve, especially in light of the previous night’s events.

“You’re too reliable. You should stop so people don’t keep asking you for things.”

I didn’t really reply back. Gave a noncommittal response that may have been a small laugh before going upstairs to where I live. It really bothered me, that remark. I like to think one of my good points is being reliable. It’s something I’m both proud and angry of being, but I’m more proud than anything. So that remark felt like a personal attack. It came too close to my friend being “too trusting.”

Since when is being “too much” of something a bad thing?

The Family’s Christmas Presents

A couple of months before Christmas, I sent a text to my family asking them, “What do you want for Christmas? Make it easy on my college kid wallet.”

The youngest, Johnny, didn’t want anything handmade. He asked for NHL 09 or NFL 12. He got NHL 09. Oh, my brother. I swear he’s become an All-American teen.

But the rest of my family wanted handmade things, and that was definitely my realm.

The middle brother, Ricky, is a total game nerd. He loves video games, but his current passion is card games. He asked me initially to make a bag to hold an entire deck, but after trying to explain to me how big it was, he eventually gave me dimension and said, “Go crazy.” I asked for any specifics, and he said it had to be blue and black, and a water drop should be on there somewhere. Here’s the result:

I crocheted it back and forth and then surface stitched over the blue stitches so the water drop motif would look cleaner. The cord is a foundation chain with one row of slip stitching.

My dad wanted a lap blanket to go with the huge blanket I made him last Christmas. The color scheme was totally different, though. While the huge blanket was brown, gray, and white (neutral colors), the lap blanket was green and brown. I decided a granny blanket would be nice and easy to make. I asked for dimensions, and he gave me 5’x3′- which ended up not being the finishing dimensions. It is still an acceptable size, though!

I didn’t block it, so it doesn’t lay flat. However, my dad doesn’t care. Woo! I did a reverse single crochet edging. I really love the ropy look reverse single crochet gives!
My mother was simple. She’s really easy to make things for because we’re both craft-oriented, and whenever she sees something she likes, she asks me to make it, and whenever I see something I like, she makes it for me. I picked up a wristwarmer knitting book from a Japanese bookstore a while back, and my mom wanted me to make her sleeveless gloves in order to keep her hands warm. She pointed out the pattern, gave me colors, and off I went! She loved them and wore them all break. I wish I had gotten a picture of her wearing them. They fit her.
My hands are rather large…
 
There you have it! My crafty 2013 Christmas. I may not do it this year and get one large present my family can share instead. This year, I’m doing selfish knitting. I have a ton of WIPs to work on that are very interesting for me. Keep an eye out for those!

Dreams of Travel

You know the whole nature vs. nurture thing? I wonder about it sometimes. In a post from about two weeks ago, when I talk about swimming, I said I was “born to be a water girl.” Honestly, I love the stuff. It’s still a goal to swim in a lake and a river. But that’s a tangent. Do I love the water so much because I grew up in two states that was surrounded by water on at least three sides? Was it because I was on the swim team for a bit and grew to love that? It was likely caused by my environment, not who I am.

What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Well, I ask because I’m also a traveler. I love to travel, and I get restless if I sit in one place too long without a change of scenery. I can only change my scenery so much without a car. In this situation, my desire to travel was caused by my dad. He took the family places all the times. Canada, Mexico, Japan, the Bahamas, a ton of states. Lots of national parks. And road trips. Those are a blast. I’ve been traveling since I was a few months old. Now that I’m in college, I don’t get to do it often. Poor college kid and all.

First Google image if you type in “poor college student.” We get shirts?!

There’s something refreshing about hopping in a car and traveling somewhere you’ve never been. The view outside of the car changes. You blast music- or, in my family’s case, Dad picks something to listen to and moves it up to the front of the car so the kids can blast their music with headphones in. You talk and laugh and maybe have a hard time hearing what’s being said at the front, and then there’s a lot of yelling. You have a map to know where you’re going, but maybe something looks interesting so you go there for a bit. Hello, 18-something’s town. Then you lose cell service and if you don’t have a map, you better hope the one driving wants to stop for directions instead of driving aimlessly.

But that’s life, right?

This is what my family does during road trips.
 

I talked with a friend last night, and we got onto the topic of traveling. I think we both agreed a road trip is a cool thing. I don’t actually remember, because I’m running on 4 1/2 hours of sleep and quite a few things have slipped my mind, despite my attention to details. I just remember I said road trips are cool. I recall saying something about how I wanted to road trip somewhere I had never been, to somewhere radically different from where I’d grown up, and take pictures of everything. Document the journey.

I’ve grown up in suburbia. I can tell you I’ve seen a lot of concrete and a heck of a lot of water and desert. To me, anything with more than a few trees is green. When my family went on a cross country road trip last year, I stared out the windows a good portion of the trip because there were trees everywhere. We joked, “What is this green stuff at the side of the road?” Then we were up north and there were all those fields, I found it interesting. For a bit. Then I became tired of seeing corn. But plants! Green! Not neon lights and metal and concrete!

WOOOOOO LIGHTS EVERYWHERE. LIGHTS AND IMPORTED FAKE TREES!

Of course, my friend laughed when I said certain places were green to me. He grew up in a place where there was green everywhere. The concept of someplace really green is foreign to me. Maybe, one day, when I have a car and money and can road trip, I’ll visit green places like his hometown. I’ll visit places with forests and rivers. I won’t do urban landscape, oh no. I can do natural landscapes. I’ve told one of my closest friends that we should do a road trip. It’s been a topic half of my friends have been going on about during summer. We keep thinking, “You know what? A road trip would be way fun.” We have different destinations in mind, though. One wants to go to San Diego. Another wants to go to another place in California. I want to go northwest- so Washington, Oregon, Idaho. (“Spokane’s a nice place,” is what my close friend said when I mentioned Washington.) I’d also like to go to the East Coast, but that’s more for history interests. Plus, I’ve been to the East Coast a lot. I want to spend a bit more time exploring the West Coast.

This ties in with something else my friend and I had talked about. Dreams. He had a lot of really cool dreams, but “none of them will come true.” That’s better than me, I told him. I didn’t really have dreams. Then it occurred to me that no, I do have a dream. A dream that’ll likely never come true because it’s 1) expensive and 2) kind of an all-or-nothing thing.

That dream is to travel the world and take photographs of all of the gorgeous places that exist on our planet.

This is the photo that I claim started it all. An accidental good shot.

I love photography. I’d love to be able to do something with it. But if it doesn’t work out, what do I do? Go back to being a linguistics major with no idea what to do with her life? Admittedly, I can probably get to traveling by being an ESL teacher. People want ESL teachers, right? Plus, if I improve my Japanese and learn Chinese and Korean, I can be a translator in those countries. Companies love multi-lingual people, right?

That’s probably the one dream I’ve had for a while, with slight changes. I just wanted to travel the world when I was little. Now, I want to travel the world, see the amazing sights, take photos of those amazing sights. Walk, bike, ride a train, bus, or taxis. I miss trains. That’s how I got around in Japan. Good memories. Also one of the only vehicles I can fall asleep in. Taste the food. Soak in the culture. Explore. Get lost. Go on adventures.