Friday, February 24, 2012

Let's knit some shit

Is the name of my new Saturday morning CBeebies show!

Or it should be.

Can I confess that I sometimes watch I Can Cook on CBeebies -- a channel, according to Wikipedia, aimed at children under 6 -- because I find it inspiring to watch small children crack eggs and learn what effect bicarbonate has on their baked goods?  Also, watching children's television is an excellent means of procrastination, which brings me back to my original point.

I have this bad habit of abandoning projects, not finishing what I start, getting distracted by new and more exciting ventures (or adorable 3-year olds in aprons), et cetera.  I do this with my writing and acting pursuits, though I've improved dramatically in the past couple of years at kicking myself into gear and making things happen.  On certain days (today, for example), I take my avoidance to the next level by refusing to clean my room, shower, go for a run, get dressed, and all of the other general practices of human beings that I was planning for myself.  I worked 15 hours yesterday.  I deserve a day of lazing.

Lucky for me, I found an ironic tactic for ignoring all of my other obligations/goals for the day: my backlog of knitting projects!


My knitting habits (or lack thereof) are certainly a shining example of my love of starting what I may never finish.  This problem was only exacerbated by my brief stint as a full-time employee of a fabric store in Glasgow.  I worked in the haberdashery and eventually took over the ordering of stock in the wool/haberdashery department, which basically meant that I had license to bring in whatever yarn I thought I -- ahem, I mean the customers -- would enjoy most.  My motives were thinly-veiled.  My employee discount was put to frequent use.

So now I have a bad full of wool!  More than one bag, if I'm being honest.  I have several lovely pattern books, amazing intentions involving cardigans and cabling, and one mostly-finished, but never-assembled bolero.  I have a back, two front panels, cap sleeves, and a trim, but I just can't seem to get around to putting it all together.

I also have lots of fat quarters of quilting cotton and an extremely well-traveled but idle sewing machine.  Working in a fabric store made me fancy myself something of a seamstress, but now that I've bothered to transport the aforementioned machine across a continent and an ocean, I seem to have lost interest.

My mother, clearly an enabler in my craft hoarding, recently mailed me a box of yarn that she wasn't using.

Thanks, Mom.  Thanks a lot.

So, new goal for today: get knitting.  Much better than my plan to clean out my closet, which is how I was accosted by my offending stash in the first place.  

But first I am going to get off my ass and go for a run.  I swear.  Or maybe just knit one more row of this hideous scarf... 

This post has been brought to you by Procrastination.

I might be a bad feminist.

Just try to stop me from drinking rosé in bed and blogging after a 15-hour hospitality shift.  I dare you.

I've decided that in order to make myself feel less shit about working terrible jobs only to toe the poverty line whilst indulging in my vague artistic pursuits, I should probably try to turn my experiences into witty anecdotes.  I almost just wrote 'antidotes' by accident, but I think that would also capture the sentiment.

Did I mention 15-hour shift?  And rosé?  Delirium is forgivable -- and expected -- at this point.

One of the funny jobs I do here in London is to prepare and serve tea and coffee to businesspeople (Is that really one word? Spell check is not questioning my decision.) in their fancy office buildings.  I don't know if this job exists in America.  In England, though, they employ people (like me) to hang out in a kitchen, brew a million pots of coffee, fill tea boxes and sugar bowls, and set up cups, saucers and teaspoons in meeting rooms for ever-thirsty corporate types who casually throw around offers of £10 million, because who doesn't have that kind of pocket change?

So that's one of the things I do.  Sometimes I also wear high heels and serve champagne on the second level of a double-decker bus, but that's a story for another day.

In the midst of maybe hour 6 or 9 today -- it's hard to pinpoint -- I suddenly had this funny realisation about my status as a corporate hospitality assistant and a lady in an office of mostly unmarried (or divorced), financially successful, middle-aged men.  I walk a status tightrope strung between sex and class.  Example:

When I arrive at a door with a trolley full of tea and coffee paraphernalia, and a businessman approaches the door from the other side, there's always this awkward moment of deciding who should hold the door for whom.  As the lowly employee, I should probably do the brunt of any labour (including door-holding), but these gents see me -- a lady -- and say 'After you,' or 'Ladies first.'

And do you know what?  I go for it.  Because I have a shit job, and I probably make as much in a day as they do in seven minutes, so if they want to hold doors or elevators or dirty cups for me, I'll take it.  So there you have it, in the small battles of the greater class war, being a lady wins.  I win.  I can get away with saying 'Hiya' instead of 'Good evening, Sir,' because I smile.  My thin veneer cheerfulness is invincible because it's endearing.  If I were a dude, they'd probably all see right through me and complain about my attitude, but I'm not, so I get away with it.

That is enough delirious musing for one night.  I hope never to work from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. again.  Even if I did wink and flirt my way through it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Your name is "N"?

I can't believe I haven't written about this before.

So I have a pretty simple name: Anne.  Yes, it's with an "e", and I like it spelled that way (just like my namesake, Anne of Green Gables), but pronunciation-wise, it's straight-forward.


When I moved to Ireland two and a half years ago, I learned otherwise.

There's something about the way an American pronounces the "A" in Anne that just throws people for a loop over here.  I think it must be extra nasal-sounding, but whatever it is, two times out of three, an introduction on my part ends with the other person saying, "N?"  At best.  The alternative is, "Sorry, what?"

I've tried to correct for the problem by opening my mouth really wide and putting lots of breath behind my name the first time I tell it to someone.  The outcome seems to be looking foolish on top of people not knowing what I'm saying.

This might not sound like a drastic problem -- because it's not -- but it is exhausting.  I've taken to saying "My name is Anne," pausing for a moment as the look of perplexity arises, then, "A double n e" (because they say things like "double n" over here).  This helps about fifty percent of the time.

I was recently at a symposium where I bought a book by one of the speakers and asked him to sign it.  I said, then spelled my name for him.  I repeated it when he didn't understand, then spelled it out slowly.  He wrote A... m... m... i... e... and said, "Is that right?"

"No," I said, "A, n..."


"No, n.  N for Nancy."

"Oh, Nancy."

"No, Anne.  A, n, n, e."

I ended up with "Best Wishes, A[scribbled mess]."  He apologised.

An Irish police officer once did the same thing when I gave him a credit card I had found on the ground. He asked for my name and number for his records.  When I said/spelled my first name, he ended up with "Nan," which is both another words for "grandma" over here, and my actually grandmother's name.  I had to write it down for him.

It happened again tonight, but I have a new tactic.  As soon as the bewilderment shoots across their eyes, I turn to the person standing next to me (if there is a person I know already around) and say, "You say it."


"Oh, Anne! I thought you said 'N.'"