1. Fear not, it’s never too late in the week to work up a righteous head of steam about the state of our culture. From a few weeks ago, A Man explains What so many men are missing about #MeToo
If you take women seriously as full and equal human beings, and you contemplate the hundreds of thousands of victims of abuse who will never be heard or receive any recompense, and you contemplate the untold thousands of abusive acts and relationships ongoing in the US as we speak, and you contemplate the hostility and skepticism with which victims are still met when they come forward, and you contemplate the thuggish misogyny of the current administration and the real damage it is doing to American women, it just becomes really difficult to gin up a lot of sympathy for, oh, Al Franken.
2. Related (for real; here’s a history of pockets*), a survey of jeans pockets to proves that yes, women’s pockets are tiny and useless. “…Like so many things on the internet, we could find complaints and anecdotes galore but little data illustrating just how inferior women’s pockets really are to men’s. So, we went there.”
*”Women’s pockets were private spaces they carried into the public with increasing freedom, and during a revolutionary time, this freedom was very, very frightening. The less women could carry, the less freedom they had. Take away pockets happily hidden under garments, and you limit women’s ability to navigate public spaces, to carry seditious (or merely amorous) writing, or to travel unaccompanied.”
This isn’t new and I swear I’ve posted it before, but it’s more appropriate than ever now that I, too, lift weights and try to look huge:
I wish this poem were 100% accurate and I could tell you I’m spending the rainy day in bed with another Maisie Dobbs book, but I have to ignore the “terrific urge” and go about the day.
Woke up this morning with
a terrific urge to lie in bed all day
and read. Fought against it for a minute.
Then looked out the window at the rain.
And gave over. Put myself entirely
in the keep of this rainy morning.
Would I live my life over again?
Make the same unforgivable mistakes?
Yes, given half a chance. Yes.
My Smartwool funnel neck that I hiked in for years bit the dust last season and I never replaced it, making do with a performance flannel shirt and a neck gaiter. But there’s something to be said for having your neck more draft-proof, so when I saw this wool blend (88% poly/12% wool) at JoAnn I thought, “What if I made the long sleeve Nikko Turtleneck in this?”
The answer was, “I’d have a DIY Smartwool for $19!”
This was my first time making the version with sleeves and I forgot to lengthen them for my looong arms; I could use an extra inch there, even though the body length was good. I cut a straight size 8 but next time I might add a little more width to the bicep–all that POWERLIFTING is making my arms HUGE, bros.
I’ll be on the lookout for knits with a little higher wool content to make another version!
It was a brisk 45 degrees and threatening rain but we made it up the canyon for a bit yesterday. I had to look up this Hopkins poem when I got back home–because who cares about the weather when you can write ecstatic verse in sprung rhythm about nature?
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
(from “Inversnaid,” by our buddy Gerard Manley Hopkins)
1. Since this turned into Unoffical Rage Week, let’s read an essay by Rebecca Traister (who has a new book out): Fury Is a Political Weapon. And Women Need to Wield It.
If you’ve been feeling a new rage at the flaws of this country, and if your anger is making you want to change your life in order to change the world, then I have something incredibly important to say: Don’t forget how this feels.
Tell a friend, write it down, explain it to your children now, so they will remember. And don’t let anyone persuade you it wasn’t right, or it was weird, or it was some quirky stage in your life when you went all political — remember that, honey, that year you went crazy? No. No. Don’t let it ever become that. Because people will try.
2. Austin Kleon wrote “a willingness to be bad” when you learn something new and gave us this helpful graphic:
I first found and posted Stephen Dobyns’ “How To Like It” ten years ago, which seems like SUCH a simpler time. Sure, the economy was in meltdown but all we had to worry about was if McCain would be president. We didn’t know how good we had it.
The poem has been floating around my head again lately–these are the first days of fall, the car heater does smell dusty and unused, I do want to just sleep and also hit my head against a wall, wanting so much and also nothing. It’s a good one.
How to Like It
by Stephen Dobyns
These are the first days of fall. The wind
at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let’s go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let’s tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.
The dog says, Let’s pick up some girls and just
rip off their clothes. Let’s dig holes everywhere.
Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud
crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie,
he says to himself, a movie about a person
leaving on a journey. He looks down the street
to the hills outside of town and finds the cut
where the road heads north. He thinks of driving
on that road and the dusty smell of the car
heater, which hasn’t been used since last winter.
The dog says, Let’s go down to the diner and sniff
people’s legs. Let’s stuff ourselves on burgers.
In the man’s mind, the road is empty and dark.
Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder,
where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights,
shine like small cautions against the night.
Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.
The dog says, Let’s go to sleep. Let’s lie down
by the fire and put our tails over our noses.
But the man wants to drive all night, crossing
one state line after another, and never stop
until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.
Then he’ll pull over and rest awhile before
starting again, and at dusk he’ll crest a hill
and there, filling a valley, will be the lights
of a city entirely new to him.
But the dog says, Let’s just go back inside.
Let’s not do anything tonight. So they
walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.
How is it possible to want so many things
and still want nothing? The man wants to sleep
and wants to hit his head again and again
against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?
But the dog says, Let’s go make a sandwich.
Let’s make the tallest sandwich anyone’s ever seen.
And that’s what they do and that’s where the man’s
wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator
as if into the place where the answers are kept-
the ones telling why you get up in the morning
and how it is possible to sleep at night,
answers to what comes next and how to like it.
I found this explosive essay last Friday in the aftermath of the Supreme Court hearings and it was transcendent–ranging from axe throwing to rage to cancer to depression to how to keep going. It was just what I needed to read and you may want to read it, too. (I’ve been going around muttering “Come and get me, fear” and “I am the exploding bomb” since I read it, if that tells you anything.)
An Axe for the Frozen Sea, by Megan Stielstra
“You too have your tools,” wrote Kafka in a passage about fear, and I thought of that line whenever I was scared: I will get through this. I can talk to friends, write about it. Years later, I came across a different translation of the same text: “You too have your weapons.” That seemingly simple switch changed the entirety of my inner dialogue: I will defend myself, I will fuck you up, come and get me, fear.
If I told that Lyft driver how wrong he was, how stupid he sounded, how scared I felt in his car, how angry I am at that fear, how angry I am to be here—again—still—this is not an isolated incident, this is not new, this is a woman in the back of a cab, a woman at the grocery store, a woman crossing the street, a woman on the internet, a woman in a bar, a woman in America in 2018, and I realize that one hand has the cell phone ready and the other is wrapped around the door handle in case I have to throw myself out of this moving car. I didn’t have to think about those movement. They’re in my bones, as natural and instinctive as putting your hands out when you’re about to fall or rocking back and forth when you’re holding a baby. This is not what I want my body to know. I don’t want protection. I don’t want self-preservation. I want to go for the axe. I want to go for the throat. I want to reach my arm straight through the back of the driver’s side seat, through his body, and out through his ribcage, his oozing heart gripped tight in my fist.
I want rage.
I knit something besides a sock, from a kit, inspired by Instagram, and I might be a little too old for it? It’s a lot of lewk, but I had fun knitting it.
The story? I saw an Instagram ad for a We Are Knitters scarf kit. I had taught the 20-year-old at work to knit and she was crazy about their stuff, but they always seemed like an odd combination of remedial and aspirational to me.
I loved the scarf but the full price kit seemed expensive for what you got. Then, of course, I got another retargeted Instagram ad for 40% off and I thought, “Fine, we’ll see what this is about.”
The wool is really nice, the branding and packaging were great, but the instructions were a little sparse. It didn’t matter in this case since the lace pattern was so simple, but if I were a 20-year-old and their marketing had convinced me I could just knit a sweater, I would be frustrated.
The pattern itself is a simple a diagonal lace stitch, but the diagonal means you’re not going to get an even triangle. (It’s so big that you have to bunch it around your neck, so I don’t think that matters, but just FYI.)
And you can see I didn’t do the fringe–one, because I was ready to be done with it, and two, because nothing starts to looks more chewed-up after one wash than fringe. (I got the pom-pom idea from, ahem, Instagram.)