i know better than this

Agnes and her surrogates taught me long ago, the motto is simple:

“Be Prepared.”

It is not:

“Let yourself get stuck at work with a dead car battery, no jumper cables, no flashlight, a cell phone with barely enough charge to let you get a couple of phone numbers off of it, and an almost empty gas tank when your Nerd is out of town for the week and it’s -9°F.”

Keith Olbermann needs to add a Best Person in the World segment to his show, and have Amber, Nicholas, and Alan as features. My friends rock. My stupidity does not.

Anyways, I managed to get home ok (gassed up the car on the way too), and I found Nerd 2’s jump starter in the garage, but of course, not charger for it. It’s got a half charge on it now, and the car did start this morning, so I’m hoping to find a universal AC/DC adaptor at BBY for a reasonable amount of money after work today.

Or maybe I’ll just live dangerously.

How I got my new slippers

Right around this time of year last year, I was living in the tail end of a failinged relationship. He had been making some progress with regards to fixing some of his issues, and I wanted to reciprocate, to do my part to show him that I cared. With the holiday season coming up, I figured that getting him something nice for Christmas would do the trick. At the time I was a bit of a hopelessstupid romantic, and I wouldn’t have bought him any of the “material” goods that he would have actually wanted (guns, another dog, etc), so I decided that I’d give him a present straight from the heart – I’d knit him socks. Not sock yarn weight or anything stupid like that, but big fuzzy warm happy almost-like-slippers socks.

Should be simple right? I mean, I’ve knitted scarves before – how hard could socks be? So, I went to the yarn store, Depth of Field (who I highly recommend) on the West Bank to be specific, I got me some nice, chunky, soft wool, and big, fat size 10 DPNs. The employee who helped me asked if I’d ever knit socks before, and at the time I didn’t really understand what the funny look she gave me when I said “no” meant (Thank you KnittingHelp.com!. She sold me a pretty awesome pattern for “knit to fit” cuff-down socks. Just figure out your gauge, do some math, and get to it. Armed with the tools required, all that I lacked was the actual knowledge of how to knit – I’d learned before, and churned out some pretty misshapen garter-stitch monstrosities, but a refresher was definetely in order. Luckily my local library had a copy of Debbie Bliss’ How to Knit, and with that obtained, I was good to go.

It was slow going at first. Getting used to knitting in the round is really not trivial when you don’t really know how to knit well yet, but I stuck to it. I’d knit during lunch breaks at work, I’d knit in front of the TV. I knit so that we wouldn’t have to talk and therefore fight, and when we did fight, I’d hide in my office and knit more. We went up north to a friend’s farm for a weekend (against my wishes) and I knit there. I knit when I went home for Christmas, on vacation from work and from him and the hell my life had become. I guess that you could say that much of the anger and frustration that I felt during that last couple of months got put into those socks, but they got done. We exchanged presents on the 26th, after I got back. I rolled them up and put them in his stocking (congratulating myself for my cleverness). We had essentially broken up by the 31st – that night, during one of our fights, he threw the socks at me, yelling at me that he didn’t want them – which was fitting, since I no longer wanted him. By the time I came home from work on January 3rd, he was gone, but the socks remained.

I’ve worn them lots over the past year. They are, as I had hoped, super warm and fuzzy and happy and slipper-like. But they were still in a sense “his” socks. They remained in the form for which they had been created for him, and as much as they were a symbol of the fact that he neither appreciated, nor deserved what I did/gave for/to him, they just didn’t seem right. I don’t know when I first decided to felt them – maybe it was over the summer when I was looking at so many cute felted purses and slippers, and hats, etc. Maybe it was earlier, when I was fighting with the urge to destroy all that was still his. Either way, the idea has been floating around in my mind, and this week, I finally had that magical combination of time and motivation that allowed me to get them done.

I followed the basic instructions in Knitty’s Fuzzy Feet pattern.

The original socks

original

from the aforementioned knit to fit pattern. Yarn – Ironstone Yarns Harmony , needles – US size 10 DPNs.

Hot water, towel, socks and a little detergent. Agitate for 10 minutes, or until desired size (I might have overdone it a little)…

after washing

Pull socks out, rinse, GENTLY wring dry, and wear for a while to block to the perfect dimensions of your feet…

blocking

And tada! New Slippers!

finished product

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So, now I’ve got a great pair of slippers, made by me, for me, and sized to fit me perfectly. Materials-wise, they were very inexpensive. Emotionally, they cost a lot. But I’m infinitely better off now than I was around this time last year. And if I have these slippers to thank for that, I’m grateful.

Licking the earth

It’s never a good thing when you read one of the seminal “personal betterment” books of our time, and you end up reading a chapter where it feels like the author is personally pointing out to you just how much you suck. This happened to me when I got to the second chapter of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

With these words, Covey has called me out:

“…But while the glitter of pleasure-centered life-styles is graphically portrayed, the natural result of such life-styles — the impact on the inner person, on productivity, on relationships — is seldom accurately seen…”

“…The pleasure-centered person, too soon bored with each succeeding level of ‘fun,’ constantly cries for more and more. So, the next new pleasure has to be bigger and better, more exciting, with a bigger ‘high’. A person in this state becomes almost entirely narcissistic, interpreting all of life in terms of the pleasure it provides to the self here and now.

“Too many vacations that last too long, too many movies, too much TV, too much video game playing — too much undisciplined leisure time in which a person continually takes the course of least resistance gradually wastes a life. It ensures that a person’s capacities stay dormant, that talents remain undeveloped, that the mind and spirit become lethargic, and that the heart is unfulfilled. Where is the security, the guidance, the wisdom and the power? At the low end of the continuum, in the pleasure of a fleeting moment.”

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“Well, pH – how proud are you of your little philosophy now? Huh?”

Ok, so he didn’t actually write that last line, but it is close enough – or is it? Reading this section of the book made me stop, think, and worry a lot about what it is I intend to do with my life. After all, I have decided that “Prudent Hedonism” is a worthy philosophy to live by, and hedonism is nothing if not pleasure-centered, AND I believe that dear Mr. Covey is right about much of what he says with regards to too much of a good thing: banal, boring, waste.

But then again, it was no mistake that the name of this blog includes the word “Prudent”.

pru·dent adj.

  1. Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.
  2. Careful in regard to one’s own interests; provident.
  3. Careful about one’s conduct; circumspect

1. Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.

2. Careful in regard to one’s own interests; provident.

3. Careful about one’s conduct; circumspect
–>Haha, Mr. Covey – looks like maybe I’m not on the road to hell after all! Allow me to explain:

Prudent Hedonism to me, stems from my suspicion that a life not enjoyed is a life that’s not worth living. At the same time, however, I recognize that short-term enjoyment is rarely as good as (and often gets in the way of) longer-term, hard-earned gratifications. For example – blowing a couple hundred bucks on a sushi dinner at Origami is an amazing experience (especially when it can be enjoyed with good company). However, that couple hundred bucks could also be saved, and used to install that wet bar in the basement – something that will bring many nights of pleasure (especially when enjoyed with good company) instead of just that one.

The trick therefore, is to find the balance: life does require a little bit of instant gratification here and there, but too much instant gratification leads to missing out on many of life’s true pleasures.

As of late, I’ve come to the realization that my life is out of balance.I wallow too much in the world of instant gratification, and it’s led to a number of poor outcomes – I’m overweight, I live paycheck-to-paycheck, I stay with men who aren’t worth my time because they keep my bed warm (well, I got rid of that last problem at least).Part of why I’m writing this blog is because I know I need a little bit more “prudence” in my life. I also know that I’m not about to become a monk and give up everything that feels good all at once. So, I search for that balance.

All I’m asking of myself right now, is that I evaluate my wants and see how they interact with my needs (and maybe some of my longer term wants as well) in the hopes that I can stop sabotaging my life. I’m going to try to use these pages to record some of the interesting balances that I end up striking; some will be trivial (like the samoas-in-a-box), others will be more profound (like how to enjoy my tax refund while still being responsible with my windfall).

I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy watching me along the way and maybe learn a little something from my adventures.

Well, it seems like I’ve written what should have been the first post of this blog as the 5th. I don’t think it really matters though, since I don’t really have any readers yet (tracksy.com is all knowing and all seeing, and sees nothing). I hope my ramblings have made sense – and if you do happen upon this, and it strikes a chord, stick around – maybe we’ll both learn something.

-pH.