Charlie Brown Syndrome (or, Chronically Single on Valentine’s Day)

Last July, I wrote this post about my experiences of being a 30-year-old single woman. It still holds true for me. One downside of this, though, comes along every February. February 14th of every year marks Valentine’s Day, or as I like to call it, “Singles Awareness Day” (as in it makes me aware…very aware…that I am single). In a time of year when people are talking about dates and flowers and love and special moments, it often leaves me feeling sad, lonely, and oftentimes jealous because I somehow always feel left out. For all intents and purposes, I am the real-embodiment of Charlie Brown.

This is not a new experience for me. I experienced it all through high school. In a time of one’s life when people are normally pairing off and experiencing the wonders of things like dating and making out and relationships, I was one of the ones who was shut out (I came close to it a time or two, but it never worked out). I’d see classmates receiving things like teddy bears, flowers, and candy from their significant others, and it almost always made me feel sad and jealous. Some classmates tried to “help” me out of pity one year, but unlike Charlie Brown when a girl named Violet finally sends him a (used) Valentine, it only made me feel worse. After a while, I just got tired of it: the gift-giving, the making dates, and even seeing the shelves of the local Walmart lined stem to stern with boxes of chocolate and similar candies, loads of large stuffed teddy bears holding little red hearts populating other sections of the store, and greeting cards proclaiming messages of love was enough for me to feel sick to my stomach.

In my younger years, my friends knew and understood this and would try to help me feel better. A lot of those friends are now married themselves and have their own traditions, so my community of fellow singles has shrunk considerably over the years. Now being 30, almost 31, and still never having been in an actual relationship…it’s more of a feeling of general loneliness now than actual sadness. My loneliness has accompanied me through life, not as a friend or a companion, but as more of something familiar that has just kept me company for all these years. I’m used to it by this point. A lot of times, I wish it would just go away, but I’m used to it being around me…I know nothing different.

I know I’m not the only one out there who’s going through these feelings. There are many, many other people out there, chronically single, who are feeling similar emotions to the ones I feel every February. If you are one of those people, I just want to let you know that you are not alone, your feelings are valid, and that it’s okay to feel sad, jealous, and lonely on Valentine’s Day. But it’s also okay to take those emotions and do something positive with them, and that’s something I try to do every year. That’s what I’ve been doing in writing this post. It’s okay to love things about yourself and try to celebrate those things. It’s okay to celebrate what you love about your friends and your family instead of trying to find a date for the sake of finding a date. It’s okay to stay at home and watch Netflix with your dog, if that’s how your plans are turning out. And it’s okay to just hang out with your friends, maybe watch some movies, play some poker, or spend the evening making lots of snarky comments on some ridiculous TV show…perhaps The Bachelor? (FYI, I can’t stand that show. I usually watch wrestling instead. 😆) Don’t have a spouse or significant other? Make Valentine’s Day what you want of it. You will get through this day, one way or another.

For me, there is always a bright side in getting over the hump that is Valentine’s Day: My birthday will be coming up around the corner. I start to look forward to my birthday once Valentine’s Day passes, as it is about five and a half weeks away. It is a day that is mine and one that I can get excited for as I know the year ahead will be an unpredictable ride. I know I’ll be okay. I won’t be happy tomorrow, but I know I’ll be okay.

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Blog Wars, Episode II: The Blogger’s Block Strikes Back

I know it’s been quite quiet on my end since the holidays, but it’s not for lack of trying. Sometimes one just has to admit when the bug has bitten again, and unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with blogger’s block once again. Not even the Daily Post prompts have been enough to inspire me to write.

Doesn’t it get annoying as a blogger (or a writer in general) when those little monsters in your creative zone in your head like to take over and block any sort of inspiration or motivation to want to write? It sure does for me. And that’s been the main reason why I haven’t really been writing since Christmas. Everything else has been fine for me lately. Nothing major or catastrophic has occurred in my family or in my hometown. My reading of Hidden Figures is going okay, if not progressing as quickly as I’d like to, mainly because either I’m too sleepy at times or my iPad just keeps calling my name. I am trying to make an active effort to try and read it, though, when the minutiae of domestic life isn’t getting my attention. Knitting on Forestry has stalled a bit because I haven’t been able to get more yarn for it (I need at least a couple more colors for it to start progressing for it). Heck, my scrap yarn is calling to me to try and do something!

My life at this point has been just fine…I just haven’t had the motivation to write about it lately. However, my least favorite holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day, is just around the corner, which may finally give me some motivation to write, so…yay?

Simply put, Blogger’s Block Sucks.

Randomly on a Sunday

Pardon the radio silence on my end, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on lately. But here is a little roundup of what has been going on with me in the last couple of weeks.

  • I promise you, all is well with me. I haven’t been sick or anything out of the ordinary. I haven’t really had much inspiration to write, and when that happens, it tends to show on the blog. I usually get inspiration from things that happen in my life or in thoughts or conversations when I’m not getting it from my knitting.
  • I haven’t been to that bookstore yet. I haven’t found a good time to ask. But I still really want to go.
  • I did buy a book, though, from my local Walmart: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. For those of you unfamiliar with either the book or the movie, it is about several African-American female mathematicians whose calculations were instrumental in helping the United States to perform in the Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s, despite being actively discriminated against in their home state of Virginia, where segregation was still legal at the time, and despite the sexist attitudes of the era where women were viewed as inferior to men. I’m only into the first chapter at the moment (which follows a prologue). I was hoping to find The Handmaid’s Tale there as well, but no luck.
  • I did start on that blanket I was talking about. I so far have the center square and one ray of four rectangles completed, as well as three rectangles of a second ray completed and the fourth one in progress. These two rays are perpendicular to each other, so I should be able to start filling in the first panel soon.
  • The Phrygian cap is on hold for just a little bit, but I may revisit it soon.
  • We had another cold blast come through (not lasting quite as long as the one that came through around New Year’s), but it still made for some very cold nights around here and we did have to turn our heater on for those nights. My feet are currently paying for it and my skin is feeling super dry from the lack of humidity.
  • I am now on Goodreads, with the same username as here (snowlessknitter). Any other book nerds out there?

I hope to be able to write more soon, but that’s what’s been going on with me lately.

Cold, But Snowless

Personally, my New Year’s Eve was uneventful, just me and a cup of coffee watching most of the coverage of Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve special from Times Square (which I actually found more entertaining than the usual fare and fluff that you see on the broadcast networks because on CNN’s special, you can see otherwise strait laced journalists getting tipsy and Anderson Cooper getting candid, especially now that his longtime friend Andy Cohen has joined him). Such is life for a single woman in her thirties on New Year’s Eve.

The weather around here, though, has been quite eventful. For those of you outside of North America, here’s what’s been going on: a blast of cold air from the Arctic has dipped down quite further south than usual (I’m no meteorologist, but I believe this event is called a “polar vortex”), sending most of the eastern and Midwest of the United States into quite a chill compared to normal winter temperatures…including Florida. A lot of the more northern portions of the country are experiencing snowstorms and/or single-digit or teens temperatures in the daytime and subzero temperatures at night. And Florida? We welcomed 2018 yesterday with rain and temperatures in the 40s Fahrenheit (quite unusual for Florida this time of year; I may have mentioned before that cold weather here usually comes with very dry air and very little precipitation). For two days before New Year’s Eve, we had cold air and clouds that hung so low in the sky that the broadcast towers within sight from my home had their tops obscured by the cloud cover. We managed to see some very clear blue skies with some cool temperatures in the 60s on New Year’s Eve, but all that was gone after sunrise on New Year’s Day. Over the next couple of days, another cold front will move in, bringing some precipitation with it, and our nighttime temperatures here will drop below freezing. But alas, it will still be snowless here. The air here will still be too warm to turn that rain into snow (or more precisely, snow flurries and a wintry mix of snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain). The best chance of any sort of snow reaching Florida this week will happen much closer to Jacksonville than it would near Orlando (and I live closer to Orlando than I do to Jacksonville). So, we will end up getting cold rain tomorrow. It’s still unusual here, but not unheard of. At least we will have our heater going during those freezing cold nights (we rarely run the heat setting on our air conditioner in the winter to save money on our energy bills, but we do run it on very cold nights because otherwise the room temperature would end up in the low 60s, way below comfortable).

Let’s see…I also finally have a finished project! I finished the actual crocheting on it a little over a week ago, but I finally wove in the ends this morning. I give you…my Unicorn Shawl!

Pattern: Virus by Julia Marquardt / Hook: Size H (5.0 mm) / Yarn: Lion Brand Mandala (2 cakes) / Colorway: Unicorn 🦄

I loved working on this one! The color changes, the lightness of the yarn, and the fact that once I got the pattern down, I was able to crochet this from memory! It was the first time I had ever worked a pattern solely from a chart, which was intimidating at first…but it kept things interesting!

(And I have to admit that the lighting was not bad, given how gray it is outside right now.

I have not gone to the bookstore I wanted to go to yet; the holidays tend to change around the hours a bit, but I’m planning on asking my dad to take me there possibly later this week.

I’ve been working on a Phrygian cap as of late, a simple knitting project that also fulfills some of my desires as a history geek (the cap was famously worn by French revolutionaries). I’ve been on a break from major knitting projects since finishing La vie en rose et violet in September, but I feel ready to start a new project. I’m thinking of making another patchwork blanket, but just a little bit more structured than the previous one. I’m envisioning a central square with rays of rectangles emanating from all four sides of that center square. Then, in each of the spaces created by the right angles of those rays, I want to fill the spaces in with freeform patchwork like in my previous afghan. I’m envisioning a green and brown color scheme, so it’s a little more man-friendly if I decide to sell it. It’s still in the concept stages!

Happy New Year to you all. I hope everybody enjoyed themselves, and I hope 2018 will be a good year for all of us!

I’m Dreaming of a Mild Christmas

Hello! I hope your holiday season, no matter what you celebrate, has been a good one. Here’s a little rundown of how my Christmas went.

We don’t really decorate around here anymore, so our halls aren’t decked and there are no jingle bells or Christmas trees. In fact, our Christmas tree has been in our attic since 2011 (the last time we set it up, at the request of my brother’s then-girlfriend; they split up the following summer…he didn’t start dating my sister-in-law, A., until around 2014). We have never used a natural Christmas tree, we always used an artificial one. I will admit, though, that I do miss the decorating and the shopping and the presents. My friends are so spread out now that I don’t even make presents for people anymore. I’ve kinda lost the drive for it at times. Perhaps this drive will come back in future years. But it is nice to see my neighbors’ houses aglow with lights and flanked by all sorts of decorations, both the inflatable and the non-inflatable. Since this is Florida, our Christmas was not a White Christmas as it was in many parts of the north and midwestern United States, but it was quite nice. In fact, it was mild. Not too hot, just a tiny bit cool because of a weak cold front that had passed through the night before.

My Christmas morning did not involve unwrapping presents placed under a tree. It was just another relatively normal morning. I had slept in just a little bit (by maybe an hour) and when I awoke, my dad’s Jeep (which he got a couple of months ago after trading in his pickup truck; he decided to trade the truck in so that he could get a vehicle that was easier for my mom to get into) was already in the driveway, and then I realized he was in the attic getting something he was planning to give to my niece, R.: a handmade rocking horse that he had made for me and my brother nearly 30 years ago. We had also gotten a couple of books for her a few weeks earlier (a book about animal sounds and one about Frosty the Snowman), which I wrapped just a day or two earlier. He then gave my mom and me both some spending money (which I will talk about a little bit more in just a bit).

About 9:30 that morning, we drove the 3 miles down the road to my brother’s house, and when we got there, we spent the next 15 minutes at their door, with my dad constantly texting them and ringing their doorbell with no answer. We left and returned home, where my dad proceeded to call and text them every 5 minutes…with no answer. So, we go back at 11:00 am, and my dad starts ringing their doorbell over and over again. About 2 minutes later, my brother (who has obviously just woken up) finally answers the door. Turns out he and my sister-in-law didn’t get home until 6:00 am Christmas morning because A. (my sister-in-law) had been in the emergency room getting treated for a thumb injury that she sustained from a falling lamp the night before. After my dad gave J. (my brother) a piece of his mind (just of consternation, he didn’t yell at him or make a scene), he presented J. with the gifts we had for R., and then he also gave J. some spending money of their own for both J. and A. After leaving J.’s place, we went driving around to see what was open (I knew we weren’t going to get groceries because just about every store is closed on Christmas morning). We eventually found a 7-Eleven, where my dad went in to get some milk, coffee creamer, and cigarettes for himself (Mom and I do not smoke). Then we drove around a little more and saw that the local Steak ‘n Shake was open, and that was our Christmas lunch: steak burgers, fries, and milkshakes. We came home and ate, and after that Dad went to bed to sleep in preparation for his work day that night (which is nice, though, because where he works they pay their employees extra on holidays that they work on, and that includes Christmas and New Year’s, among others). Mom and I then watched the final four episodes of I Love Lucy that I had recorded earlier in the year on the DVR (I was on a mission to watch the entire series) as well as some stuff on Netflix. That evening, after Dad went to work, I watched the Christmas episode of WWE’s Monday Night Raw (this year marked the first time ever that WWE aired a live episode of Raw on Christmas Day).

The day after (Boxing Day to those of you outside the United States; we normally don’t use the phrase “Boxing Day” here in the States for December 26th), we finally went grocery shopping (and was able to get the stuff I needed to make a very basic turkey dinner, which I plan on making on either Friday or Saturday at the latest), and later that day I watched the I Love Lucy and Doctor Who Christmas specials. I thought Peter Capaldi got a pretty nice send-off, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor. Looks like she’ll be without the Tardis for a little while! And as for the I Love Lucy Christmas special, each year that it’s been aired since 2013, it’s been paired with a colorized classic episode, and this one was the one where she was in the fashion show for designer Don Loper (where she gets a nasty sunburn just before walking in the Hollywood wives’ fashion show in exchange for a $500 dress that she told Ricky was $100).

Ah, yes…the spending money. I’m not going to give the exact amount here, but it is enough to get a decent amount of what I want to get if I budget it right. About all I really want to get to wear is a pair of boots to wear with my houndstooth print pants. But…there is also an independent bookstore near my hometown that I want to go to so I can buy some books to add to my collection. Don’t get me wrong…I like the iBooks e-reader I have on my iPad, but…there’s just something about having a book in my hands with pages to turn with the fingers of my left hand (yes, this is how I read: book goes in either my lap or my right hand, and I turn the pages with my left). This bookstore, which I have visited only once before (about 13 years ago when I had to purchase books to read for an AP English class), has quite the collection, selling new and used books. I’m bound to find some gems in that store if I look closely enough! Even if I get the boots, I should still be able to get a nice number of books that should interest me. Who knows what I’d find there, but there are a few on my wish list that I’d love to get:

  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (note: she was actually from a little town near Orlando called Eatonville, and the city hosts a festival in her honor every January called Zora!Fest; a lot of her works were set in Eatonville)
  • All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Of course, a random gem of a book could pop up when I least expect it.

(As for what I am currently reading, I am still reading Ulysses. I am only about 100 pages into it, and I am at the portion of Bloom’s journey where he attends a funeral. It can be a bit plodding to read at times, but if I managed to finish Gone with the Wind, then Ulysses shouldn’t be too rough on me.)

I hope your holidays were more interesting than mine, but perhaps I’ll be able to share my loot of books with you at some point in the near future. Also: stay tuned for a finished project. The crocheted shawl I was working on is finished, and I hope to be able to showcase it for you in the coming days!

‘Tis the Season: My Five Favorite Christmas Songs of All Time

With the holiday season in full swing and Hanukkah already underway, and Christmas coming just a week from now, I thought I’d celebrate with some of my favorite things about Christmas. Today, I share with you my five favorite Christmas songs of all time. One song you won’t be seeing on this list? “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. I’ve never cared much for that song, and hearing it sung every year on The X Factor (both the US and UK versions) was enough to finally turn me off from the song for good (thankfully, they didn’t do Christmas songs on The X Factor UK this year, and the US version hasn’t aired since 2013).

So, here are my five actual picks. The only criterion was that the song had to be Christmas or winter-themed. I make no distinction between hymns and secular songs.

5. Billy Squier, “Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You”

This song comes from a time when rock music was just as popular on the radio as pop was (something that long fell by the wayside by the time I was coming of age) and Billy Squier was one of the most popular rock stars of the early ’80s (only to have his popularity wane after a particularly disastrous reception for the music video for his single, “Rock Me Tonite”). This is one of the few Christmas songs by pop or rock singers I’ve heard through the years to not come across as cheesy. And the fact that he did this version with the “MTV Chorus” is even more awesome.

4. “Carol of the Bells”

This has got to be my favorite Christmas carol, with all the complex layers of vocals. The version featured here is one done for South Park by the South Park Elementary School guidance counselor, Mr. Mackey. (The random “m’kays” sprinkled throughout this version always make me giggle.)

3. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon

Another rock Christmas classic, this song combines Lennon’s singing talents with his songwriting, which often incorporated themes of peace and justice. This one is no different. Originally written as a protest song against the Vietnam War, it has since transcended its original political origin and has become a beloved Christmas standard throughout the world.

2. “It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken-Hearted)” by Roxette

You didn’t know this was a Christmas song? It was originally written by the Swedish pop duo as a Christmas song about heartbreak and lost love and released in 1987. A couple of years later, it was selected to be part of the soundtrack for a film that would eventually be regarded as a classic romance film, Pretty Woman. A slight lyrical change the year after its original release made it less Christmas-y (the line “It’s a hard Christmas Day” became “It’s a hard winter’s day”), and it ended up becoming one of four number-one singles in the United States for Roxette (along with “The Look”, “Listen to Your Heart”, and “Joyride”) and one of the most popular songs of the 1990s. The video featured here is from the original Christmas single.

Honorable Mention: “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” by The Chipmunks

This didn’t quite make the main list, but I must mention that this song was on replay constantly when I was a kid and we wore out the cassette tape this song was featured on! It’s also the only Christmas song to ever top the Billboard Hot 100.

1. “Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby ft. The Andrews Sisters

Okay, I’m from Florida, not Hawaii, but this is still the only popular Christmas song that has a distinctly tropical vibe to it. The title is taken from the actual Hawaiian language greeting for “Merry Christmas” (the language lacks the sounds for R, S, and T; the R becomes an L sound, the C is rendered as a K, and S and T become K sounds, turning “Merry Christmas” into “Mele Kalikimaka”). I first heard this song in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in a memorable scene where Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) is daydreaming about the swimming pool he wants to get with his Christmas bonus, including a spoof on Fast Times at Ridgemont High where he envisions a lingerie saleswoman he was talking to earlier in the movie taking off her swimsuit (in a nod to Phoebe Cates in a similar scene in Fast Times) and diving into the pool, although actual nudity is not seen in order to preserve the film’s PG-13 rating. Even on its own, this song is still a favorite of mine. And though Bing Crosby sang a lot of Christmas songs in his career, this one is still my favorite. The scene is featured below, and the studio version above this paragraph. (And if you care to venture over to my Instagram, I posted a brief little video of me singing the song this afternoon, if you’re brave enough to check it out.)

Do you have any favorite Christmas or holiday tunes? Share them in the comments.

Maybe It’s Cold Outside?

The weather here is becoming more winter like. Granted, it’s not the snow-covered Shangri-La that only Bing Crosby or Idina Menzel could sing about, but this is winter, Florida-style.

Of the four seasons that visit Florida each year, each varying in intensity and heat, winter is by far my favorite. The air is much cooler, in the 70s at its mildest and sometimes as low as the 20s Fahrenheit at its coldest. It’s also much drier and less humid, which can be hell on my dry skin at times, and a big reason why Florida itself is generally snowless. I love being able to wear my sweaters and other hand knit items out in the cold weather, but I am also crazy enough to wear flip flops in 40 degree weather! Most Floridians get their sweaters and hoodies out once the temperature dips into the 50s, but I think that’s because our blood is so acclimated to warm weather that when the temperature dips that low, it’s hard to handle. It is demonstrated quite effectively in this cartoon shared by the Facebook feed, “More Florida Memes” that appears to have originally appeared in the Palm Beach Daily News:

Source: Facebook / More Florida Memes

We’ve had a couple of cold blasts here since the beginning of the season, but the one we’re about to get this weekend will be the strongest one yet. The last couple of days have seen a stationary front sit right over Central Florida, while the low pressure system to the north of it has been dumping snow on my best friend’s home up in Georgia. Yesterday, my house was in the cold side of the stationary front, with us staying in the 60s while Orlando was in the 70s. The clouds yesterday hung so low that the two broadcast towers that are visible from either side of my house could not be seen, with a misty rain falling for much of the day. Today, that front lifted a bit to the north, which put us on the warm side, with fewer clouds and a high temperature of about 81.

Tomorrow will be an unusual day when that front comes through because it will mean that we reach our day’s high temperature in the morning: a projected high of 62 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures will drop into the 50s during the day, and then will plunge into the upper 30s on Saturday night. Sunday may be just as cold, and we may not get back into the 70s all week.

I can just imagine all the blankets Floridians will wrap themselves in, the heaters that will inevitably be turning on, and all the hot beverages we will be brewing. This will not be a winter wonderland or a White Christmas, but it will be the first taste of winter as we Floridians know it.

I leave you with this Golden Girls classic moment. While not specifically a winter song, it does mention winter in the lyrics, and part of me wishes this would be a rally song for my Miami Dolphins. Anyways, this is “Miami, You’ve Got Style”.

Until next time!