On Being 30 and Single

Pardon me for the radio silence…I’ve been chugging away on my afghan (about 3/4 of the way finished now on the main portion and I just got the yarn in the border color a couple of days ago), but other than that I’ve been dealing with general blogger’s block.  That is, until yesterday.  Let’s see, I recently started emailing an old friend of mine from when I was attending college (I only attended for three semesters at a local community college before dropping out due to financial and transportation problems, and I still have aspirations to return someday to finish the associate’s degree I started; this friend and I attended the same high school, graduating a year apart, but we didn’t meet until college), and when I informed him of my brother’s wedding date, he responded with a somewhat cynical email about all of his friends’ marriages that he’d seen fall apart.  I kindly let him know how cynical he sounded, and his response and my reply ended up being quite reflective of something that I don’t think gets talked about a lot in a real, honest manner: the experience of being a single thirtysomething.  What follows is reflective of my experience, and my experience alone, of being single and in my thirties (granted, I am only four months into being in my thirties, but I am in my thirties).

I don’t have much of a dating history, just one date in high school to my senior prom, and that was 12 years ago.  I haven’t been on a date since, and while it bugged me quite a bit in my 20s, it doesn’t bug me so much anymore now in my 30s.  Sure, I get the occasional questions asking why I don’t have a boyfriend or (on rare occasions) the assumption that because I don’t have a boyfriend that I’m into girls (sorry, I have no interest in playing with other ladies’ fun parts), but otherwise, it doesn’t bother me and I don’t care if it bothers anyone else.  Other than that one date, I really have no other experience other than that of being perpetually single. It hasn’t been easy, but I tend to approach this with the mindset that I’d rather date few men of quality than a sizable quantity of men and hoping I strike gold.  Unfortunately for me, there aren’t a lot of quality men where I live.  Where I live, the ones that aren’t married are the type where I take one look at them and I know I could do better.  Most of the quality men where I live have usually had the sense to move away to pursue better opportunities than what’s necessarily available in small town and suburban Florida.  And what remains are men of simpler means and simpler needs, the kind that like to go four-wheeling, mudding, or fishing.  I have never been an outdoors type of person.  Not a lot of these men are into reading the kind of books I like to read, or would be willing to pay attention to my thinking out loud about my knitting or other creative endeavors, or share my ideas and opinions on things that matter to me.  Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong part of the country.  I’m the kind of girl who knows what she likes and knows what she needs in a potential boyfriend or husband: I need someone who challenges me mentally; who is a voice of encouragement in whatever I decide to do; and who will allow me to be my own ridiculous, opinionated, goofy, intuitive self without trying place his own expectations on me and holding me up to be something I can’t.  I’m, among other things, a terrible housekeeper, a pretty good cook, a somewhat masculine woman in personality (though I am not above wearing a dress or a shorter skirt when I want to feel feminine, which isn’t very often), and unashamed of my geekdom.  I know by this point I will never be a girly-girl, a supermodel/beauty queen, June Cleaver, or a trophy wife…but I hope I can still be a nice match for somebody.  I know at this point in my life, though, I am not settling for anything.  I deserve the best, and I’m okay with admitting it.

It seems like society often looks down on people my age who are still single.  And true, a lot of people in my age group are starting to marry and have families of their own.  And yet, no matter if it’s the government or a religious group, most social institutions seem to value people more if they’re married: married people get tax breaks, married people get to have children without being judged for having them out of wedlock, married people are more trustworthy because the single person might try to *gasp* sleep with your spouse!  Sometimes it feels like in the eyes of society, though I may not be worthless, because I am single I am literally worth less in social capital.  Now, all this may have been an issue in my twenties, but honestly, now that I’m in my thirties, I don’t care.

I think I’m happier now being single at 30 than I was being single at 20; part of it is just understanding myself a little better as a person and being able to own my flaws, and the other part is just the fact that there isn’t really any pressure for me to fit in anymore. In your twenties, you’re coming out of adolescence and trying to find your place in the world, and people place a lot of expectations on you; in your thirties, you’re more assured of yourself and feeling more confident in your own decisions and aspirations. I feel no personal pressure to date, I feel no pressure to marry, and I feel no pressure to have a child.  I’ve accepted the possibility that my life may not necessarily include a husband or children. I could be happier when it comes to things I want to do in life (career, education, traveling, et cetera), but where I am right now is where I’m needed.  I could be happier with how I feel about my looks, but then again, it’s all superficial anyway.  But I’m content with where my life is right now for the first time in a long time.  I’m not angry with the world.  I’m not angry at anyone.  And I’m not angry with where life has taken me.  I could be happy, but if content is all the universe wants to give me right now, then I’m okay with it.  At this point I am just along for the ride, and I hope I can get as much out of life as I can.  I wasted my twenties with fear, anger, and cynicism.  I hope I won’t do the same with my thirties.

I hope other single thirtysomethings out there can take some solace in my thoughts and know that their worth is not determined by their relationship or marital status.  And those that do have love in their lives, know that what you have is rare, special, and something that not everyone will get a chance to experience in this life.  Cherish it, treasure it, and don’t let small things get in the way of the bigger picture.  And to those out there perpetually single like me, don’t fret over it; take the opportunity to learn great things about yourselves, appreciate all of your strengths and own your flaws, and don’t be afraid to put yourself first.  Singlehood should no longer be a scarlet letter, a badge of shame.  Singlehood may be a part of my life, but it doesn’t define my life.  I’m a geek, a knitter, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a blogger, and a smartass who just happens to be 30 and single.

Some Knitting & An Announcement

It’s been an interesting week, to say the least.

First, the knitting.  I’ve had quite a bit of knitting time this week because my dad decided to take the week off from work (he used one of his vacation weeks), so it hasn’t been so busy around here.  I was able to finish another motif of small squares that I was working on (15 squares in a diagonal orientation, going from 5 squares in the first row, to 4 squares in the second row, and so on, all the way down to one square.  The rows alternated between pink and purple.

And here’s how it’s looking so far.

First, the wide shot of the whole thing.

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Now, it is folded up in a couple of places to make room for most of it to be seen on my bed, but the section I was just working on is in the lower left-hand portion of the photo.  As you can see, it has pretty much caught up with the 25-square checkerboard I finished last month.  In fact, that pink square at the very upper-left hand corner of the latest section (which you will see in more detail shortly) marks 10 small squares up that particular side.  I have reached a pretty big milestone: I have filled in a little over half of this afghan, which measures 18 small squares by 18 small squares.  When I resume work on this project, I will be working some more on the right-hand side of the afghan and starting to fill that in.  Considering I started this nearly four months ago with some leftover scrap yarn and decided to go with it, it’s not bad at all.  (Of course, we have had to purchase more yarn for this over the months, but I’ve only added a skein or two at a time.)

Here are some more detailed pics of the most recent section I was working on:

The first pic is a wide shot as it sits on the afghan, the second is more of a close-up, and the third is from the angle that I actually knitted them onto the piece.  I started with a row of five baby pink squares, then the next row of squares was variegated purple, then a row of variegated pink, then the solid gemstone purple, and capped it off with the strawberry pink square.

All right.  I made a reference to an “announcement” in the title of this post, and I will string you along no longer.

The announcement is:

There will be a wedding in the somewhat near future.  No, not mine.

My brother and his girlfriend got engaged this week!

I found out the news when she sent a picture of her engagement ring to my dad’s phone on Wednesday night (although my dad had already gone to bed by then), followed by a simple text saying “We got engaged” about 15 minutes later.  I’m not expecting them to set a date just yet, so no word on any wedding plans for the time being.  Although I must say that I have been privately calling her my “sister-in-law” for some time now.  It’ll be nice for them to finally make it legal, and I’m very happy for them.

Until next time…have a great day!

Local

Local

Locus.  Locality.  Location.  Location, location, location.  Local.  We all know what the word “local” means when we look it up in a dictionary: Adjective.  Referring to something nearby.  But what does “local” mean to each and every one of us?  I cannot speak for the other billions of human beings on this planet, but I can speak for myself.

I prefer not to share my exact location online, but any of you who follow my dear friend The Lady Bryan on here know that she used to live in Florida for several years, and the town that I live in neighbors both of the towns that she used to live in.  I live within driving distance of both Daytona Beach and Orlando and we can get to either location in an hour or less.

My town is a bit peculiar for what one would expect of a Southern town.  For one, it’s not a small town.  At least, not by stereotypical standards.  Our population is in the five figures, home to at least 10,000 people.  I’ve lived in this town for nearly 30 years (my family moved here when I was about 5 months old, well before my brother was born), and in those 30 years, I’ve seen my town evolve from a somewhat sleepy little place to a hustling, bustling, busy suburb.  I remember when the stretch of road that connects my town to the two nestled next to it had more trees than restaurants lining it.  My town’s side of that road is filled today with all sorts of chain eateries, gas stations, doctor’s offices, stores and boutiques, and a hospital where a vast stretch of Florida scrub once was.  I remember when the area where the local high school now stands was once a dense collection of sand, pine trees, and “secret” forts that the neighborhood kids would build.  My neighborhood itself has changed very little.  My neighborhood has always been a very hilly place, ranch-style houses lining the terrain around every peak and every dip.  Walking around this neighborhood certainly will give one’s legs a workout, better than any inclining treadmill could give you. 

I’ve always been a bit wary of many of my neighbors, possibly a consequence of my own overly cautious personality, but the ones I’ve managed to get to know are some of the nicest people you’ll meet.  A sweet Latino family lives just around the corner from us, our backyards adjacent to each other.  The guy just across the street from us is a single father doing his very best to raise his youngest child right, and he knows he has challenges ahead of him because his little girl has just become a teenager.  He divorced his little girl’s mother years ago, and sadly his little girl’s mother has since passed away.  His little girl, or as my mother likes to call her, “Little Bit”, is an incredibly outgoing, vivacious young lady of thirteen who loves to dance, tumble, and strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone, even if the “anyone” isn’t really feeling up to it.  Next door to the single father and his Little Bit, is a couple we’ve known for years.  We’ve watched their three boys grow up over the years.  I remember when the middle son, who was just a little over a year older than me, decided to marry his girlfriend before they even finished high school.  They had three children together, but their ending was not a happy one.  His wife, who I later learned had been afflicted with all sorts of health issues, died at the young age of 24, leaving my childhood friend a widower with three young kids before he turned 25.  He and his children moved in with his parents and his younger brother until he could get back on his feet and find a place of their own, which he eventually did.  The kids still come to visit their grandparents pretty often.   Across the street in the other direction is a retired couple with a lot of dogs.  The wife likes to garden and maintains a lovely looking set of plants in their front yard.  The husband usually can be seen tinkering with things, common with the men in my neck of the woods.  Before them, a gay couple lived there; we would sometimes see them at bingo, and they even gave me some crocheting supplies after seeing me crochet at a bingo night.  And before them, a couple with three kids around my age lived there.  I was friends with the oldest daughter, who was a grade behind me in school.  I remember being sad when she told me her family was moving to North Carolina when I was, I think, in third grade.  I sometimes wonder how that family is doing now.  Unfortunately I don’t have Facebook (and I have no cell phone to start one).  Our neighborhood is relatively quiet.  Of course, you also notice some of the more colorful characters: the rednecks living on one street near us, a Mexican-American family living around the corner on another, both of which announce their presence with the numerous cars that dot the front yards (I think I may have seen five different cars parked in the rednecks’ front yard at some point).  There’s another redneck man who can be seen walking his little Dachshund mix some mornings, which drives my own dog nuts even though he can’t come through her window.  Sometimes when we go walking, we can see him and his wife sitting in some armchairs set up in their garage with pedestal fans running, just watching the passers-by.  We even talk to him on occasion.

Local, for me, has so much more going for it than the places.  Any location can make it a place, but it doesn’t come alive until you get to know the characters that inhabit it.  And the memories you make as you inhabit it give that location meaning.  Local, for me, is an experience.  And the great thing is that no two people, even within the same family, will have the exact same experience.  Local is life, imagery, color.  That’s the difference between just a place and a home.

Randomly on a Friday

Well, the gray finally went away…for now.  This time of year in Florida is famous for afternoon thunderstorms that pop up out of nowhere (especially when the seabreezes from both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts collide right over the peninsula), so it could very well be gray and stormy by late this afternoon.  You remember those gray skies from a couple of posts ago?  Well, this morning it is now…

Birds are singing, the street is relatively quiet (I don’t live in the country, I live in the suburbs, but I usually angle my outdoor pics this way to avoid giving away my exact location), and my dog is just as excited to chase the lizards, having finally shaken off her canine ennui.  (And every time I see the word ennui, I now think of Michel from Gilmore Girls talking about his own ennui.)

And as a bonus, here is another pic.  If you look real closely, just above the kudzu leaves, you’ll see the Moon, in its last quarter phase, getting ready to descend down the western sky for moonset.

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Though somewhat faint due to photo quality, the Moon is visible just above center, right above the tips of the kudzu vines.

I will say that though we are sitting in the shade, it is still incredibly humid out here.

Finally, I have a little announcement to make.  Not anything life changing, but it is still worth noting: I have decided to set up my own Tumblr page, for all the random and silly stuff that doesn’t really merit posting here.  It has the same name as this blog (I guess I’m the only Snowless Knitter on the entire internet?), and you can check it out right here.  If you’re a Tumblr-er yourself and like what you see, don’t be afraid to give me a follow, and if I like what I see on yours, I may just give you a follow.  Warning, though: my language may be a bit more…unfiltered on Tumblr.  But so far, I’ve already made a few posts, followed a few blogs, and am just getting acquainted with it.  You may see stuff related to: knitting, Florida, cats, yarn, Gilmore Girls, I Love Lucy, wrestling, and the randomest of the random.

Have a great day, everyone!

Gray, Gray, Go Away

Florida’s “wet season” has arrived in full swing after quite the dry spring.  For the last few days, the view has pretty much looked like this:

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The southwestern view from my front door; apologies for the subpar photo quality...tablet camera.

And this…

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The view from my front door, looking north.

Even my dog is bored.

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Roxy demonstrating canine ennui at its finest.

From what I gather, it is gonna be like this pretty much through the next week.  Oh boy.

Hopefully I will have some updates on my knitting soon.  I’m planning on doing another photo update once I finish a checkerboard section on the blanket that I’m currently working on.  In the meantime, I’ll tease you with a shot of the blanket in progress in its current home, a Toys R Us bag (selected because it was big enough to hold the blanket).

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Her First Orbit

On Tuesday, June 6th, my little niece will be celebrating her first birthday, the first anniversary of her entering this world and marking the completion of her first orbit around the Sun.  We celebrated her birthday a few days early, on Saturday the 3rd.

What has happened in that first orbit?

I remember entering that hospital room with my parents just a few hours after she was born and nervously approaching her mother to give her a blanket I had knit for her (the Hoover blanket from Knitty).  She was crying her lungs out (probably wondering “What the heck am I doing here?!”), and about the only thing that could calm her down at that point was my brother (her father) holding her and patting her on the bum.  I was too nervous to hold my newborn niece and decided to hold off from it.

The first time I actually held her was about two weeks later, when the new family had finally had some time to settle into their new life.  My parents and I made the two-mile trip from our home to the duplex that my brother’s family called theirs.  It had been many years since I had held a baby as young as her, and I was still nervous.  As my dad reminded me to hold her head above the plane of her body, I finally got a chance to look into my niece’s gemstone-blue eyes.  Her cries had calmed since she was born and had become a somewhat calm baby, and she was no different in my arms.  She looked up at me with a curious look on her face, as if I was a puzzle she was trying to solve.  This curious look would reoccur throughout our interactions in this first orbit.

The next time I remember seeing her was maybe a few months later, when my brother turned 27 last November.  By this point, she was able to lay on her belly, but not crawl.  One of the highlights of this visit (other than the birthday cake my brother’s girlfriend got for him) was watching my little niece sitting in my dad’s lap, him holding her tiny hands and she doing what I can best describe as “baby squats” (for those not in the “Having Raised or Interacted With a Baby” club, baby squats are when said baby stands up with assistance on a person’s lap, and then drops right back down into a sitting position).  She was grabbing at my dad’s shirt (as a smoker, he wears pocket tees on a daily basis, and many of them have screen printed designs on them), and just having the time of her life trying to figure out her Grandpa’s furry face (yep, my dad has a beard).

Regrettably, I missed her first Christmas.  A couple of days before the big day, my parents brought over a couple of presents we had gotten for her online, but I was sleeping when they decided to leave.  I was a bit sad that I ended up missing it, but grateful that I got the extra sleep.

I didn’t see her again until February.  By this point she was crawling and standing herself up with assistance.  And we had seen her again just a few weeks ago in order to deliver her some much-needed new clothes, as she was growing so fast that she was already needing to wear clothes usually meant for 18-24 month-olds (both of her parents are taller than me, which would not surprise me that she’s growing so fast).  At our last visit, she was able to walk around while holding on to something and making baby talk.

Which brings me to today…

Yesterday, we had gotten her some birthday presents (a toy drum, some textured spiky rubber balls, and a toy picnic basket, along with a couple of sets of pajamas and a dress) and we also gotten some ingredients to make a slow cooker baked beans recipe my dad found online.  I awoke this morning to the smell of bacon, which I knew was being cooked for the beans.  My dad had cooked and crumbled the bacon, chopped up an onion, and mixed together all of the ingredients for a four-hour odyssey in our slow cooker before we would take the whole thing to my brother’s house.  We took our turns showering, dressing, and getting things just right for our little trip.  I don’t have any photos of the party, so what you get is a selfie of me waiting for the time to come to leave for the party.

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My hair was still damp, and i was wearing no makeup, but hey...it was still worth it.

After a quick trip to the store to get beverages, we made our way down to my brother’s place.  We were the first guests to arrive.  We got the slow cooker plugged in and warming up the beans, while we found a place for her presents.  After a few minutes, more guests began to filter in (most of them from my brother’s girlfriend’s side of the family) until somewhere around 20 of us filled their living room and kitchen, including a baby, a toddler, and a tween (who was the older sister of the toddler).  It was at this point that we learned my niece had finally started walking on her own (although she still needs assistance from tall things to stand up if she falls over).  It was later that I found out she’d only been walking for about two weeks, so she was still learning to straighten out the wobbles, but my…she can run.  We socialized and got to know some of my brother’s girlfriend’s family members, some of us drank beers (myself included…I treated myself to one Yuengling lager, and the rest of my drinks were colas), and we all ate from a delicious potluck spread that included hamburgers that my brother cooked on a charcoal grill that honestly were so smooth to bite through that it was like a hot knife meeting butter for the first time; hot dogs and smoked whole chicken also cooked by my brother on the grill; mashed sweet potatoes with chopped pecans; pasta and potato salads, and one of my favorite foods of all time (any Southerners here may agree with me): some Publix chicken wings, double breaded and deep fried to a crispy but not oily bite with the most tenderly cooked meat for this particular cut of chicken (my goodness, my family used to make a thing of eating these when I was a kid; we don’t eat them as often anymore, but it is still a wonderful treat when we do).

After the food came time for my niece to receive her presents.  In addition to ours, she also received some additional toys, including a baby doll and a ride and push toy shaped like a lion; a few pairs of earrings for her little ears, and a miniature sofa bed with some Disney princesses on it.

Shortly after the presents, her mother placed my niece in her high chair and we sang her Happy Birthday as her own special cake was brought to her.  It was a small, round cake covered in green frosting with red frosting writing and accents: this was her smashing cake.  With a little encouragement, she dug her diminutive hands into her cake and went to town, licking the cake and frosting off of her tiny fingers.  Once the cake was sufficiently smashed, her hands and face were absolutely covered, which meant that her parents had to wash all that off of her.  As she got sufficiently clean, we guests were then treated to our own cake and some ice cream.  The cake was a two layer chocolate and vanilla sheet cake with buttercream frosting, and we had a choice between vanilla and Neapolitan ice cream (I chose vanilla, and it was quite rich).  Not long after that, most of the guests filtered out while my parents and I joined my brother on his back porch and talked and drank cold drinks in the muggy heat.  By the time we got back inside, we were the last guests remaining.  We weren’t in a hurry, so we gathered in their living room as my niece’s parents cleaned up the scene of the earlier party and put the baby gates back in their usual places.  We watched my niece play with her new presents and talked about anything and everything.  It was 7:00 PM before we finally decided to leave, a full 6 hours after her party began, and we said our see-ya-laters and love-yous, taking with us our slow cooker and some leftover cake.

As I sit here, watching my Red Sox play the Orioles, I look back on the experience of my little niece’s first orbit around the sun, and it makes me wonder what is in store for her second.  She officially completes her first orbit on Tuesday.  We each only get a certain number of orbits around the sun, and it makes us all wonder: do we all get the best out of ours?  Because I sincerely hope my niece gets all the best out of hers.

I Feel Pretty? Oh So Pretty?

So, I finally got my hair cut this morning.  I’d been needing a haircut for some time.  I have incredibly thick hair, and I knew that if I was continuously putting my hair up in a bun (normally to keep what seems like tons of sweat from creating Niagara Falls on the back of my neck; I am a notorious head-and-neck-sweater, as opposed to an armpit-sweater or “pitter”), then it was getting too long.  And it was getting way too long.  Long, thick hair and hot Florida summers go together like pure wool and and a washing machine on hot (felting joke for all you yarnies out there).  You risk getting sweat and water and hair products caught in the deeper layers of your hair, it is trickier to comb and brush, and most of all, it is just plain heavy.  My hair was very shapeless and just hanging off my head.  I looked, in my opinion, quite frumpy.  My hair is also quite naturally wavy, and so the wave was occurring near the ends of my hair, but was weighing down the roots.  I was about ready to get rid of all that excess hair.

I went to the salon this morning before we went to get our groceries, and the lady who cut my hair was really nice.  She was probably about my age, had a few tattoos, and seemed pretty knowledgeable about different hairstyles and helped me figure out what to execute what I had pictured in my head.  I knew I wanted a bob, on the shorter side, and bangs.  I hadn’t worn actual bangs since I was about 10 years old, when I started training my bangs that I had worn since my toddler years to lay back on my head with headbands.  I didn’t quite know which bangs would flatter my face and forehead, so she suggested side-swept instead of full bangs.  I felt a little adventurous, so I went with it.  We decided on an A-line bob (shorter in the back, longer in the front) that would help keep my neck cool during the summer, with layers that would complement both the thickness and the texture of my hair.  She said she was actually excited to get to work with my hair, because thick hair is apparently a hairdresser’s dream (much more versatile to style than finer hair, although even thick hair has its styling drawbacks, like any other thickness).  She was not the first hairdresser to say this about my hair, by the way.  It took probably around an hour or so to get it all done, but once I did, I must say that I quite liked the result.  And now you’ll get to see it for yourself.

The “before” picture was taken last week.  My hair is normally not that dark, I took that picture in the shade.  The “after” picture was taken earlier this afternoon, not long after we got home.  I wasn’t wearing my glasses because my current ones need to be replaced…the frames are pretty worn out.  This picture was also taken in the sunlight, with a little cloud cover.  I had also taken some when the Sun was out, but the glare was a little too much for my liking.  In other words, I did not color my hair.  Here are the pics:

Overall, I like how it came out.  The bangs look a little awkward at the moment, but I hope they’ll look better after they grow out a for a few weeks.  Otherwise, this is probably the best haircut I’ve had in years.  Agree? Disagree?

My niece has her first birthday party on Saturday, and her actual birthday on Tuesday.  This will be an interesting next few days.