Monday, September 22, 2008

Catch-up Day

My lack of blogging can be explained by two things.

1. I'm not doing anything interesting
2. All those boring things I'm doing are keeping me terribly busy.

So here's what I've been up to, in a convenient list form.

1. My parents are fine, and they just got their power back yesterday. Seabrook is still pretty much a mess, but things are slowly getting back to normal.

2. I've just about finalized my field exam subjects and examiners, and I now I'm worrying about creating my bibilographies. Two of the exams I'm taking are new fields, so there aren't existing bibiliographies to work off of. Why do I always have to make things so complicated?

3. I've bitten off too much to chew with research projects this month. I've got a bunch of catalog entries due on the first, and a freelance job due on the 5th. I suppose it will all get done in time, but I don't expect to enjoy it.

4. My parents are coming to visit. This means I have to clean. Really clean. At least it's giving me the kick I need to make a few improvements around here.

5. I work until 5 most days, either in the library or in the exhibitions department. By the time I get home, I am exhausted. I haven't done much in the way of cooking lately, and I've eaten an unbelievable amount of frozen pizza. I did manage to make chili today. It seemed like a good way to celebrate the beginning of fall. But now I'm REALLY tired, and I still have to get my laundry ready, take out the trash, and do the dinner dishes. And then I need to work on one of my reports. And I want to watch Heroes, and I would have liked to get some knitting done too.
There are simply not enough hours in the day.

6. I'd keep making list items, but then I'll never get anything done. So I will leave you with one of my favorite songs right now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

After the storm

Well, my parents and brother made it through the storm okay at his place. They don't have water or power as of 3 p.m Eastern time, but neither does most of the rest of Houston. Not much damage in his neighborhood, so hopefully the power will be on soon.
As for home, reports are that my suburb did okay*, with water from the lake not getting more than a few houses beyond the shore. Lots of wind and tree damage though. It's the trees I'm worried about -- we have two huge live oak trees in the front yard and one of them has been dying, which means it might not have been strong enough to withstand the storm. Irony of ironies, my parents had their roof replaced last month.
The AP has a picture of the state highway near us with a sofa and a boat in the middle of the road. Things appear to have been much worse for the areas right near the bay** -- apparently the local Dairy Queen was pretty much submerged, as was T-Bone Tom's, home to some truly excellent BBQ.
My best friend (she's in Arizona) and I have been calling each other, commiserating about whatever news we can get off the net. At least it's something to do. I'm also cleaning my own apartment, which is sublimating my feelings of helplessness quite nicely.

*And can I just say thank God for the internet? Between the websites of the Houston Chronicle and the sites of some of the t.v. stations, as well as streaming radio, I've been able to keep up wiht the news, see photos of my area, and, through a forum, read reports from as close as a few streets away from my parents' home. It's probably kept me from going even crazier.

**Though Galveston got off easier than expected, thanks to an "only" 12-15 foot storm surge, apparently as many as 40% of the local population didn't evacuate. Then, of course, they started calling emergency services late on Friday night, at which point nobody could go in to rescue them because it was too dangerous. While my heart goes out to those too poor or sick to evacuate (and there were buses off of the island well into Friday afternoon, so one would hope there weren't too many of those), many of the people who stayed seemed to be nothing more than stubborn. I hope they don't have to pay too high a price for it all. One man in particular made me want to reach through my computer screen and strangle him myself. He said he was staying because "if it isn't your time, you'll be fine." Well buddy, I sure hope it wasn't your time. Seriously, I'm a bit of a fatalist myself, but come on. If I thought the hurricane was out to get me, I certainly wouldn't make it so easy for old Ike.

Edited to add: Heard from a family friend who works for the city and is in our neighborhood -- the trees and the house are still standing. It's nice to find something to be happy about. I just wish that everyone could have a home to come back to.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not what I wanted my 100th post to be about

If you can spare a few thoughts and prayers today, please direct them towards Houston and Galveston, Texas. My parents were smack in the center of the mandatory evacuation zone for Hurricane Ike (we're about 20 min. from Galveston and our town, a suburb of Houston, is on the bay), but have made it safely to my brother's house. He lives across the city (Houston's a big town, so that's about an hour away) and they should all be safe there.

I've been looking at pictures of my neighborhood online, and the flooding from the storm surge alone is already pretty bad with most of the roads under a good amount of water. The storm hasn't even hit yet. It's hard to tell these days, because "gloom and doom" seems to be the default setting for the weathermen, but they are predicting that Galveston will be a direct hit -- which the island can't necessarily take -- and then the storm should head up towards Houston and to the northwest, which will pretty much take it through our neighborhood, darn it.

Things shouldn't be as bad as Katrina -- though the storm is as big, it isn't as strong, and there are apparently fewer people who couldn't evacuate. Unlike many of the hard hit areas of New Orleans, most people in the Houston/Galveston area have cars, so they have been able to get out, and people are more careful now than they used to be. There are always a stubborn few though. It's funny how they always manage to get shown on tv or the papers. I never know what to think of them. Part of me wants them to quit being a hero and get the heck away, and part of me knows how hard it would be to leave, not knowing what might happen while you were away.

It's so hard to be up here. Not that there's anything I could do if I was back home with my family. And I'm certainly glad I don't have to sit through the storm tonight. It's hard to worry by yourself, though. Aside from my concern about family, friends, and neighbors, I am rather selfishly worried about my home -- the physical building, I mean. Which makes me feel terrible, that I should care about that right now. But still.

I hope everything will be okay. We'll know in the morning, I guess.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Like Any Other Day

I haven't been able to get good reception on my clock radio lately, and with no cable, I don't watch much television. I don't read the newspaper, though I usually check the New York Times and a few other news sites during my coffee break at work (shh... don't tell) and again when I get home. So with such little exposure to the media, it was pretty easy to forget what today was.

Well, almost.

Today was gloomy, promising rain that hasn't come yet, but earlier this week the sky was bright and blue and cloudless. Just like that day, seven years ago. A co-worker remarked that this kind of early fall weather is almost spoiled for her now, and everyone else in the office who had been in the city then agreed.

I stay away from the financial district and lower Manhattan. Not consciously, really. It's just I generally have very little reason to be down there. But I go down there sometimes, and when I see that giant scar in the ground, or that hole in the sky where those two icons used to be, I remember. And I feel a little sick.

All that death and destruction. All those lives lost. All those people who were minding their own business, just going to work. Who thought that day was just another day.

I wasn't in New York on September 11, 2001. I was in Delaware, getting ready for a meeting with my thesis advisor. I remember hearing the reports on NPR. One plane hit. Everyone thought it was a mistake, an accident. I took a shower. When I came out, everything was different. The second plane. The Pentagon. The crash in Pennsylvania. I drove to school. Didn't know what else to do. We were all in shock, I think, trying to be normal. People who knew people who worked in New York tried to call their friends and family, just to check in. A few hours into the day they closed the museum campus, "for security." We all thought that was funny, in the way that things can be funny and sad and horrible at the same time. I drove home (I remember the streets seemed oddly empty) and turned on the tv, watched for as long as I could stand, and then curled up into a little ball in bed and cried.

I had been to New York City for the first time earlier that year. I loved it immediately. But my love was a tourist's love, a reader and movie watcher's love. I loved the magic the city promised, I loved all the history it held, but I knew very little about what living there was really like. I loved the idea of New York, and dreamed that maybe I could live there one day. I didn't know the practicalities, the challenges of the daily grind, the gritty but often wonderful reality. I know a little more now, one year into my tenure in the Bronx. Though I can never really know what it was like in the City that day, knowing life in New York as I do now, I can barely begin to imagine. But even the city I love is different than the New York that existed before 9/11. Shaped in innumerable ways by a tragedy too terrible to contemplate. I wonder how the city I have come to know would be different now, if things had been different.

Seven years is a very long time. But sometimes it isn't very long at all.

If you've made it all the way to the end of my rambling, and if you can stand to read one more thing about that day, from someone who was there, and who can say it far better than I, I highly recommend this. The first two links in her essay will tell you all about Sars and her search for Don, if you need a little background. If by some chance Don sounds at all familiar to you, please let her know.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day

I spent my Labor Day the way I've spent much of the past few days -- asleep or knitting. I came down with a summer cold last week and have been unsucessfully fighting it off ever since. I had to miss a cookout because of this darn cold, and I hate missing the opportunity to eat a charred meat product.

But at least there was knitting! Since the Summer of Socks knitalong ended today, I rushed along and finished my Oriel Lace socks.


They're from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks, and I made them in Dream in Color Smooshy (color: Lunar Zazzle), which is my new yarn crush.

And there's been baby knitting, too! Inspired by Wife, Mom, Knitter, I am working on Wendy Bernard's Tender Blankie for a friend who is expecting. I'm using up various colors of Caron Simply Soft in an attempt to knit from the stash. I didn't have enough yarn to do the blanket in one color -- so voila! Stripes!

Tender Blankie

I'm part way into square 3 right now. This is a really easy and fun knit and I will definitely keep it in mind for future baby knitting needs.

Also, like every other knitter on the planet, I am making a baby surprise jacket from the pattern (well, it's really more of a guideline) by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I've been wanting to make one for a while, and the recent spate of babies has provided me with a good excuse. Thursday I went to my LYS after work to buy the pattern and look at yarn. In what I can only assume was some karmically earned serendipity, they were having a BSJ knitalong that very night. So I also bought some needles and sat down and got started. I'm glad I did, because while the knitting isn't hard, the pattern is very brief, and assumes that you know to do certain things that other patterns would normally spell out for you. I'm glad I had someone to walk me through the beginning and to point out a few quirks in the pattern language. I don't have a picture yet, mainly because it doesn't look like much right now, but I promise to show you it soon. I am using a worsted weight yarn, and I'm afraid the jacket is going to be pretty big, but the nice thing about babies is that they grow, so it will fit eventually I guess.

In other news, school starts tomorrow. I don't have any classes to take this semester and will be mainly working on my exams this year. I am a little nervous about how this will work, since I don't do well without deadlines. Even though there's no class for me tomorrow, I still will be showing up bright and early since I'm going to be working in the library. I even get to man the reference desk for a while. Exciting!

And finally, before I sign off to go get my stuff together for the morning, here's a cat photo.

07_09_08 057

Minnie says, "I have a Ph.D. in napping."