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.

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Should Be a Nice Week This Week.

This is not going to be a long entry.

I’m hoping this week will be a good week, given the two special occasions we have in our family this week.

Nope, not my brother’s wedding.  But they have already set a date for that…more on that in a later entry.  I will say that it will happen before the end of the year, though.

Nope, the two special occasions are both birthdays…namely, my mom’s and my dad’s.  You read that right.  They both have birthdays this week.  In fact, today is my mom’s birthday!  My dad’s birthday is on Friday.  In case you’re wondering, they are not the same age.  I won’t share their exact ages, but my mom is actually seven years older than my dad (yep, my dad married a cougar).  The closeness in their birthdays usually makes birthday plans for them pretty simple.  We went grocery shopping over the weekend and my mom picked out a carrot cake, which we cut into this morning.  We still have half of it left, and may hold onto it until either Friday or whenever my dad next feels like eating carrot cake.

I hope we have a good week this week, and that my parents have great birthdays.

And here is “Happy Birthday” by “Weird Al” Yankovic (only because YouTube took down all the good videos for “Birthday” by The Beatles).

Bumble

Idea for this post taken from this prompt.

Dictionaries define the word “bumble” as a verb referring to the act of moving, acting, or speaking in an awkward or confused manner.

Sometimes I feel like I am the epitome of the word “bumble”.  I think back on choices I have made over the years, and I realize that my path to finding myself has not been a straight line, but a meandering path with a lot of dead ends and backtracks.  I think back on even the littlest things, and I wonder: what if I had stuck with band class in sixth grade instead of quitting after just a couple of days?  What if I had taken that driver’s education class?  What if I had said yes to that boy who had asked me to go to a dance with him when I was 14 and not bowed to the pressure of my parents (who thought I was too young at the time)?  What if I hadn’t dropped out of college?  What if I had been able to find steady work?  What if I’d been more assertive about myself and my ideas and opinions?  And even now, I see so many possibilities for my future, but my own personal path has so many forks in the road that I don’t know how to go about it.  In my 30 years so far, I have bumbled through my life without so much of an idea of where I want it to go.  And it bugs the crap out of me.

It bugs the crap out of me because I know I should be doing better things.  It bugs the crap out of me because I feel like I should’ve already had an idea of what I want to do with my life now.  It bugs the crap out of me because I feel like I’ve disappointed my family.  It bugs the crap out of me because I feel like I’ve disappointed myself.

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if it’s a common view in my generation.  Why do so many of us have such a lack of personal fulfillment?  How do we deal with all these crossroads in our lives and pick a path that not only leads to self-sufficiency but also to self-fulfillment?  How do we make our own lives and preserve our happiness at the same time?  Do we have to sacrifice happiness to become self-sufficient or can we have both?  How can we escape the constant feeling of bumbling through life and actually take control?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for that question right now, but there is one thing I have figured out in my first 30 years so far: it’s okay to not know all the answers.  Hopefully, my not knowing doesn’t resign itself to complacency and results in my life ending with no purpose, meaning, or fulfillment.  I hope to be able to answer that question someday.  I hope a lot of people in my generation going through the same challenges are able to answer that question as well.

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!

Happy 4th!

This won’t be a very long post.

I just wanted to wish all my American readers a happy, safe, and wonderful Independence Day.  And to those of you from outside the United States, I hope you’re having a lovely day, too, even if it is just another Fourth of July where you live.

Here in the States, today is a celebration and appreciation of those who decided to take that step and sign our Declaration of Independence (or, for those of you willing to be a little irreverent, the biggest middle finger in the history of the world), the first step towards becoming the United States of America.  There will be lots of pomp, music, and plenty of fireworks.  There may be food involved.  I’m sure there are plenty of grills firing up across the country, and America may indeed smell of charbroiled burgers, hot dogs, and maybe even steaks.

Me?  My family will likely be spending a quiet evening at home.  I made some burritos last night, and I plan on making some black beans and rice soon to go with the leftovers.

I hope you are having a great day.  Happy Fourth!

Annoyed Grunt

If any fans of The Simpsons are reading this, they will understand what I mean by that title.  If not, I’ll let you in on the reasoning at the end.

Well, I effed up my project.  I effed up my project in such a way that I had to perform some surgery on my afghan.

Surgery, you say?!  On an afghan?!  (Of course, by “afghan”, I’m referring to my hand-knitted project, not an actual person from Afghanistan.)

Yes.  I had to perform surgery on it.  Let me show you the “before” pic and explain why.

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This is the section I was working on at the time I noticed a glaring error (note that I had a square in progress).  Do you notice the error yet?

What if I gave you a closer look?

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See that variegated purple L there?  When joined to that dark purple rectangle, it creates three edges to pick up from.  That’s all fine and dandy, except that my method only allows me to use two edges to pick up for a small square, as the space between the two shapes would dictate.  I would have no way to connect the third edge to the other two.  What was I to do?

Well, the square that was in progress was no big deal.  I’d be able to frog that one (which for my non-knitting followers and readers, refers to the act of unraveling a knitted piece all the way to the end, like a frog saying, “Rip it, rip it”), since it was still attached the the skein.  However, two small squares and that variegated purple L were going to have to undergo a yarn-ectomy.  By this, I mean I would have to pick out the ends that I’d already woven in, work my back all the way to the fastening off point, and frog the whole damn piece.  (Pardon my langauge.)

Thankfully, I had already given myself a bit of an out because I have a very specific way that I tend to weave in my ends on these mitered projects.  After fastening off the last stitch or stitches, I will normally weave in that end as follows: I weave up and down alongside my center column (that chain of stockinette that runs up the middle), and then I will weave in and out of a stitch away from the edge or any cast on edges, so it makes a noticeable lump that is easy for me to detect for just this kind of situation.  I do the same thing with the yarn tail that began the piece, weaving along with the grain off the garter stitch present in that part.  When I cut my yarn tails after weaving, I always cut on the right side of the fabric, that way when the tail naturally unravels, it stays on the wrong side of the fabric rather than poke out on the right side.

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Procedure area prior to yarn-ectomy. Note that the pink square that was in progress has already been frogged.

Now, the yarn-ectomy.  First thing you want to do is look for the yarn end.  I ended up using a yarn needle to help me with some of this.  When you locate the yarn end, using a combination of your fingers (which will tug on the yarn end; look on the other side of the fabric  to see where the yarn end tugs and loosen from there, using the yarn needle to pry the yarn loose) and the yarn needle, gradually loosen, pick out the yarn end, and then tug again to find where your yarn end goes next.  Follow the yarn end in this manner until you get to the fasten-off point.

Repeat for the yarn end leading to the cast-on/picked-up edge.  There should be two yarn tails on the piece loosened prior to the next step.

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After both ends are loosened, you are free to frog the piece.

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Frogging in progress.

After frogging, I decided to store the yarn in a Ziploc bag, although this amount of yarn probably will not be enough to reknit the square.  Instead, I will store it in case I am running dangerously low on yarn while working on a shape on that particular color, then I will have enough yarn to work a Russian join (which is basically folding two ends of yarn intersecting each other, and then each tail is sewn in on itself), and finish the shape.

I did the same thing for the small pink square.  The yarn from that one also got stored in its own Ziploc bag.

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When it came time to frog the L, I repeated the same steps as I did for the squares.  However, since it took more yarn to knit the L, I knew I’d probably be able to reknit this yarn into a smaller shape, in this case a rectangle to free up a space to pick up the shape properly.  To keep the yarn from tangling, once I frogged the L, I wound the yarn into a ball and put it in its own Ziploc bag to keep the yarn clean and to allow the yarn to stay in place as I knit it (hence why there is an end hanging out of it).

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And this is what the section looked like after the yarn-ectomy.

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Now, I could replace the L with a rectangle to fill in the space.  Which is just what I did.

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The new rectangle in progress
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The finished rectangle.

I’d say the yarn-ectomy was a success and I am free to move on with this section.

By the way, the title refers to when Homer Simpson didn’t have a way in the script to describe his anger or frustration at things.  This was rendered in the earlier scripts as “(Annoyed Grunt)”.  Eventually this (Annoyed Grunt) became Homer Simpson’s world famous catchphrase, ” D’oh!”

Have a great day, everybody.  Happy reading and happy knitting!

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.