5 Feb
2004
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Want vs. Need

A few months after we moved to Berkeley, a little storefront window in our neighborhood that had previously been obscured by huge sheets of frosted paper suddenly became a showcase of sorts, displaying all manner of random doodad and tchotchke and knickknack. Among the oddities were two matted illustrations of vaguely European street corners, several unmatched sets of ceramic cups and saucers in various shades of mustard, an old tea kettle, a blue plastic desk fan (non-oscillating), a handful of seashells, some tarnished doorknobs.

There were also three trees, five to eight inches tall, carved with a scroll saw out of buttery maple or ash. About two inches wide, and flat on either side, they were simple unpainted silhouettes of oak trees in full foliage, bulging and round like cumulus clouds, almost art deco in the daring curvature of their lines. One tree arched a little to the left, one squatted sturdily on its fat trunk, one puffed forth its leaves like a proud chickadee fluffing its breast feathers. I wanted those trees. Not only did I imagine them sitting in our living room, matching perfectly the futon, the bookcases, and the dresser, but I imagined them in my hands, the wood warm and smooth in my fingers, soft as a petal.

I wanted those trees, but I didn’t know how to get them. Nothing about the storefront indicated that its display items were for sale. There were no signs, no hours of operation posted, and the door was always closed. As far as I could tell, the place was being used as an office, for employees only. The spread in the window might just be for show; look but don’t touch.

I walked by those trees every day for a week, but I never paused before the window, not wanting to linger upon the unattainable. Then one day I stopped for a closer look and noticed a fluorescent orange sticker dot on the back of one of the trees. Inked on the dot, upside-down and barely legible, was $10. At least I thought it said $10. But $10 for three wooden trees? Three of the loveliest wooden trees in creation? Uncharacteristically, I doubted myself. It must be $10 per tree, which meant $30 that I didn’t have, barely emerging from three months of unemployment, all my savings spent on rent and food. I walked away.

That weekend, I drove by the trees in the window on my way to somewhere important. I couldn’t help myself from looking at them, and when I did, I noticed the door to the building was wide open and a sandwich board on the sidewalk outside seemed to be announcing an event, welcoming guests. I couldn’t stop at that moment, and when I finally made it back to the store, it was closed. It remained closed for days. At this point, I was aching for those trees, at the same time afraid they would be too expensive and afraid someone else would buy them before I got a chance. The longer the door remained shut and the trees remained behind the glass, the more I was sure I had to have them. I made plans for a special trip to knock on the door and see if that little extra effort would get me what I wanted. But I kept putting it off. I didn’t want to disturb the office when the door was closed. I didn’t want someone to tell me I was wrong, that the trees weren’t for sale, that I should have noticed this was not a retail store. I didn’t want to show up with $30 and be $40 short. I let shyness and uncertainty and fear of embarrassment or disillusionment close over me like a shell.

And then, you may have guessed, as mysteriously as they had appeared, the trees were gone. The window was empty, once more covered over with vellum. I was at a loss. I had lost something. The opportunity had slipped away, a rabbit under a fence.

**

There are these boots. Imagine medium-brown Italian leather, knee-high, one-inch heel, a zip up the back, laces up the front, a buckle across the ankle. Neither slutty nor clunky but perfectly perfect from heel to toe. If ever a boot made good use of its tongue and sole, it happened when this pair called out to me from the pages of the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. I want these boots.

I want them so much, the first time I saw them I actually considered spending $160 on them. I haven’t spent $160 on anything in my closet, including an old prom dress. I can barely spend $60 on jeans or shoes that I know I’ll wear every other day, so how could I imagine spending nearly three times that on something that will go with exactly two items in my wardrobe and shouldn’t–for the sake of fashion–be worn more than once every other month?

I haven’t even seen the boots in real life. What if the leather is stiff? What if they smell funny? What if they don’t fit? What if they make me look like a hoochie or a soldier?

But what if they look fabulous? What if they fit like they were made for my feet? What if they make my legs look long and thin and they give me a subtle yet noticeable rockstar confidence? What if these are the boots that will open the door to a whole wardrobe of daring apparel? What if?

I first saw these boots last fall. I was drawn to them immediately, but the price put them squarely out of my league. When the winter VS catalogue came, I saw them again. In November, I bought a skirt that goes with nothing I own but would look perfect with those boots. I saw them a third time when the VS email newsletter popped up in my inbox. I spent Christmas vacation looking for a suitable substitute, but to no avail. You can imagine my excitement when the VS boot sale was announced, promising deals of up to 50 percent off. My boots were discounted $20. Twenty never looked so measly.

Four email newsletters, five catalogues, and six trips to various shoe stores later, I am still in love with these boots. Even without seeing them in person, I know they will be everything I think they will be. I know they are soft. I know they are supple. I know they will suit me. I know I won’t regret them. I hope against all hope they will fit.

I am buying the boots!

3 Feb
2004
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
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Knitpicking

Is everyone else as sick of looking at those sparkly red shoes as I am? I’ve been itching for a redesign of the site for months now (especially since I got my new Photoshop book!), but there are always so many other things to do (like get my four-month-old engagement ring sized and cut my four-foot-long golden tresses that haven’t seen scissors for about a year). I am really annoyed at myself when I let little tasks pile on top of each other so high that I feel like taking one thing out of the stack will cause the whole heap to tumble down on top of me. I don’t know what I’m so worried about; I’m really good at Jenga. But still I leave the pile untouched and try to maintain that delicate balance, all the while doing nothing to remedy it’s worsening gigantism. But here’s the thing. I love doing nothing. It’s like sleeping, only you get to be conscious while you’re doing it (or not doing it, I guess), and so you can enjoy it that much more.

But in truth I haven’t exactly been doing nothing lately. For I have found the world’s best procrastination hobby: knitting.

In the last few months since I got serious about the craft, I’ve practiced enough that I’m finally at the point that I don’t need to concentrate with all my might to complete a simple stockinette stitch. And once I get into a good knit knit, purl purl rib-stitch rhythm, I don’t even have to count, but just let my fingers do what they feel is right to do. The reasons knitting is so perfect for a lazy girl like me are these: I can do it sitting on the couch, I can do it while watching tv, I can do it on a train, I can do it in the rain. Just before I got sick, I ordered Stitch n’ Bitch (easily the most trendy item I own, and every bit as good as those pair of Girbaud jean shorts I got when I was 13 and wore until my hips became womanly). It just so happened the book was delivered during the week I was home sick from work and on the very day I magically regained both my attention span and my upper-level motor skills. I’m so in love with this book. I saw it in a store a while ago, but it wasn’t until I ended up on my new favorite site, Craftster, and witnessed the frenzy surrounding the book, that I knew it must be mine. I seriously pick up this book and look at the pictures twice a day. I don’t even look at myself in the mirror twice a day. A mere twenty-four hours after I got the book, I had learned how to change yarn (so I can make stripes!), knit ribs, increase, and decrease. First, let me show you what I did without out The Book.

Here’s the first scarf I completed. Everything except the fringe was done while I was home over Christmas vacation. This fuzzy-squishy purple and pink and red yarn is the best (please forgive the picture quality; Mr. La Chapelle was borrowing my photo studio):

Here is the second scarf I completed. I even thought up the design myself. It looks nice with my tan cord jacket:

Here’s the first scarf I ever started. It still isn’t finished because I made it super-wide and super-long, and I’m using size 6 needles, which make the stitches so small they look machine-done (except for the holes!), so it’s taking FOR. EV. ER. Someday, perhaps…

Now for The Book-inspired projects.

On Day 1 I made this kerchief:

It doubles as a lovely kitten cape for kittens who can’t ever sit still to have their portrait taken:

On Day 2 I made this hat (it will be featured prominently in an upcoming album of weekend adventures):

And last night I finished this matching scarf (I’m still debating whether it needs fringe or not):

It’s totally addictive. Making a cool accessory with just your own two hands, some sticks, and a piece of string is quite amazing in and of itself, but I think the part that’s really got me hooked is the way the repetition and counting and orderliness of it all hypnotizes me into an OCD trance not unlike what happens to me when I play Tetris or Minesweeper. Stuff like that is crack to my brain. I actually knit in my dreams.

After I made my green hat, Ethan started to get jealous. He was all pouty because I wouldn’t let him wear my hat because his head is HUGE and my head–and hence my hat–is small. I’ve been asking him what color he wants me to make his hat, but after a week of ruminating on this decision of monumental importance, he has decided to go with all black. Ok. Fine. But here’s the kicker. I keep talking about how easy it is and I keep turning out these faboo products (if I do say so myself), so now he wants to learn to knit his own hat! How great is that?! We’re off to the craft store tomorrow to get him some manly yarn and some viril bamboo needles. This is even more fun than when I used to make my little brother wear my ballet tutus and pink tights. Perhaps because this time I have a willing participant.

This morning he said he was acutally looking forward to our spinster night of knitting and lamenting the beauty and glamour of our lost youth while watching The Bachelorette. Who needs girlfriends when you’ve got a beau like mine, eh?

2 Feb
2004
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The Breakfast Club

This morning I went on a date. Said date was necessitated by circumstances that involved no milk, no cereal, no oatmeal, no juice, only one banana, and a huge PMS-fueled blowup on Wednesday night that had me convinced the entire trajectory of my life had just done a 180. (Luckily, I was wrong: it was a 360 after all.) So last night I asked Ethan out on a date for this morning to our local overpriced caf