Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FemEx DC

At the risk of being way too heavy on the repro health this week, I wanted to tell you about a "class" I just joined called FemEx DC.  Starting out as FemSex, a student led sexuality workshop at Berkley, this expanded version now explores the full spectrum of the Female Experience, including reproductive health, sexuality, violence against women, and generally what it means to be a woman in society today.

The DC group I am in will be meeting once a week for 15 weeks in people's homes.  There are about ten of us and a facilitator who leads discussions but really lets us learn from eachother.  While all fairly young, the group seems to be pretty diverse, and I am looking forward to getting to know everyone.  There are assignments each week, some consisting of reading, others of more exciting projects (meaning that this is not like a typical Sunday afternoon book club where you eat, yak, and maaaaaybe discuss the book).  My first assignment is a creative coloring project and some reading about female anatomy.  I will let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Knit Nerdiness

I ended up at a meeting at the (I assume is beautiful and right next to the metro) Shaw Library, and realized it had been years (four, to be exact) since I had checked out the knitting book selection at the nearest local library.  Here is what I found:

Books for the modern lady:
My mom doesn't really knit (did many of the "bra-burning" women of the 60s and 70s knit?  I would love to see the numbers on that)  So I guess anything I knit is different than my mama's knitting.

Books for the men:
I was prepared to be non-plussed by this book.  And I was (and still take major issue with their definition of "beginner." I've been knitting a while and I found some of their ideas a little challenging), until The Boy expressed interest in a Aran sweater pattern in it.  I was so blown away by the fact that he knew what an Aran sweater was that I didn't even complain about the fact that he wanted ME to make it rather than learning how to do it himself.  P.S. That's not going to happen.

Books for Domiknitrixes????
I have zero to say about this one.

And if taking pictures of knitting books at a public library didn't demonstrate my high committment to nerdiness, I then preceeded to read a Stitchionary (a dictionary of different stitches...yup...) in public. 
Pizza, lemonade, public place, Vogue Stitchionary Volume I.

I let everyone assume I was a design major and that this was an assignment for was either that or the reality that I just read a stitch dictionary from front to back.  Sigh...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend Update: In Which I Disagree with the Doctors

I am not even going to apologize for not posting in two whole weeks.  Although I think I could blame the (extremely successful) organizing of the DOT's 2010 Distracted Driving Summit, surprising The Boy with a trip to Cirque du Soleil, the fact that my computer has decided to become a piece of crap as soon as I started grad school apps, or my attendance at the 2010 Reproductive Health Conference in Atlanta and expect a tiny bit of forgiveness, yes?

Right after the DOT Summit last week, I headed off to meet my cousin and aunt in Atlanta for the 2010 Reproductive Health conference put on in part by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.  There are quite a few things I could say about it, but I will just highlight just a few:
  • There was a session about talking to clients about sexuality in which a woman tried to convince practitioners that it was a good idea to talk to their clients about sexuality in addition to reproductive health issues.  This blows my mind; I did not realize these were two different topics or that you could separate reproductive health from positive sexuality, violence against women, consent, sexual orientation, etc.  In college, teaching sex ed included educational information about STIs and contraception (I certainly handed out my fair share of condoms at AU...), but no one would show up if you didn't talk about positive sexuality, too (read: condoms protect your health...and can make oral sex taste like strawberries, too!!).  And time was totally wasted if you didn't talk about consent and what makes for a good relationship (e.g. it is hard to protect yourself from STIs or have fun having sex if your partner is abusive/coercive).  When I brought up my confusion with my aunt and cousin, their response was that they don't really teach the counseling skills necessary to have these conversations in med school.  And since you only have 5 minutes to talk to each client, unless they bring up a specific question, you don't really have time to start talking to them about all these issues.  So much for holistic , woman-friendly, health care.
  • Ditto on domestic violence/contraceptive coercion.  A speaker urged the group to have conversations with any clients presenting risk factors about contraceptive coercion (a partner negatively influencing a woman's ability to make her own reproductive health decisions).  Aren't providers doing this already?!?!?!!  Apparently, most providers ask if there is any history of domestic abuse but if the answer is no, they don't really pursue it either because they have time or because some clients get offended if you seem to be pushing.
  • Here's one that I should have been prepared for:  Atlanta doesn't suck.  I am a true believer in the fact that DC is the best city on earth: not too big, not too small, decent public transportation (don't argue with that, folks.  I haven't driven in over a year and haven't been inconvenienced in any major way because of it), politics, night life (if you want it...), art, music, FREE MUSEUMS (why isn't stuff free everywhere?  I just don't understand), people that I like to hang out with.  Why would I want to go anywhere else?  Generally I don't.  But as far as not-DC goes, Atlanta wasn't bad.  We skipped the touristy stuff (although I did walk by CNN Center and the Centennial Olympic Park) and just checked out neighborhoods.  Decatur and North Highlands seemed extremely livable.  And despite us never figuring out what combination of trains and buses were needed to get us to Emory (we didn't try THAT hard), the public transportation worked pretty well for our basic needs.
  • Dunno if you can see this, but the shirt is 3D with what can only be described as a built-in slinky around the collar.  Can you see the look of desire on my face?
    CNN Center: where arrrrrre yoooooou, Anderson Cooper????
    Centennial Olympic Park (like the National Mall, only without the monuments or all the lost tourists)
  • Exploring Atlanta, I noticed something about myself, too.  DC has caused me to build this pretty tough city-shell that doesn't really work very well in other locations.  I am pretty off-putting to begin with (I function on a scale of "I'm bored" to crazy feminist), but DC has taught me to distrust anyone approaching me on the street, to be on guard against street harassers, and to expect taxi drivers to be more likely to hit you than stop for you.  People in Atlanta are nice.  I mean, walk-you-to-your-destination-instead-of-just-pointing-you-in-the-right-direction nice.  I assume there are other places where friendliness abounds, too.  I am going to need an adjustment period if I end up leaving DC for grad school.
I guess the most important thing I learned is that I have a SUPER different philosophy on health care than many medical professionals do.  I tend to believe that both doctors and clients are being genuine and truthful and that they both want the best health care possible for the clients.  But in the end, doctors see too many clients too quickly to be able to spend the time I believe they need with them.  They get frustrated when clients ask too many questions (or want a second opinion) and they get frustrated when clients know too little about their health care needs (or have major health care needs because of a lack of previous health education) because both situations require a major time investment on behalf of the health care provider.  And I don't even think this is necessarily the providers' fault.

Because really, how do you change a system that starts with the way we educate doctors, continues by making health care too expensive both for clients and providers (requiring providers to treat 5-10 clients an hour to be able to pay their staff), and is facilitated by poor sex ed for kids and adults?  How do you change a system when the political climate is tough, when hospitals and doctors are trying to limit their legal liability in ways that have questionable or negative benefits for clients, and when we don't think of reproductive health, posititve sexuality and violence against women as interconnected issues to be dealt with simmultaneously?

Gosh I need to get that grad degree, don't I?

Current Knitting Projects

I finished the travelling woman scarf...

I think I should have added more repeats so that it would be longer and wider, but I was so ready to be done with it, that I just followed the pattern, no questions asked.  I also realized that I really REALLY need to invest in some blocking wires (I would accept a set for Christmas, if anyone was wondering *winkwink*) so my lace doesn't look so crazy.

I am also still working on this baby sweater.

I am reasonably sure (like 99.99% sure) that I have carpal tunnel.  And I am unreasonably sure that it is because of this particular yarn.  Never mind that I have been knitting pretty solidly all summer.  And never mind that my job consist of typing on a keyboard all day (and then going home at night to text on my cell phone).  I am sure it is the knitting of this particular yarn that hurts my hands like you cannot believe (I don't know why this particular yarn...other acrylics don't hurt me this badly), so I am avoiding carpal tunnel by only doing a little at a time.

The other problem with this baby sweater: is just flatly the wrong size.  I am the queen of not checking my gauge and then regretting it later and this is no exception to that trend.  I am going to need a VERY small baby to model it.

In the name of protecting my hands (but really I was just hankering to wear this sweater this fall), I am making this shrug out of the most amazing yarn.
Lionbrand Speckled Shrug in Oak Tweed

It is just your basic worsted weight, but mysteriously has a lot of loft (meaning it is fluffy to the touch) when it is knitted up and also has lanolin in it, meaning that it doesn't dry your hands out like other wool can.

I heart it and hope I have some left over after finishing this project to make some manly scarves (or at least a hat) for some folks I know that could really use some manly knits.

I'm also obsessed with the long knit gloves that seem popular this year.  I saw a pair in Atlanta that were elbow length, fingerless and had cute little buckles on them.  Trying to decide whether to make a pair (which may take me forever and a day), or just break down and buy them and just make a matching scarf instead.  So many lovely knits this year.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekend Update: Wherein JoAnna Entertains at the Old Folks Home

This Saturday was the 9/11 Day of Service.  A group of Truman Scholars headed out to the Washington Home, a comfort care center for the chronically and terminally ill in Tenleytown (oh Tenleytown, the memories....and the really long escalator that wasn't working that you made me climb).  We were asked to hang out with the residents and get their stories about what they remember from 9/1/2001 for the Library of Congress Oral History Project.  Aside from one woman who told me that her son worked in the Pentagon when it happened, the answer to that question is "not a helluva lot."  (Note: I heart how my spell check doesn't like the word "Tenleytown" but accepts the word "helluva" without question).  I was in high school in Seattle at the time and watched the planes fly into the towers on the news as I was getting ready for school in the morning.  It's hard to believe that it was that long ago.

The folks I talked to were NOT in high school in 2001....and they could recall fifty years ago a lot easier than nine years ago.  So I heard from Walt who grew up in South Carolina, and Marie who was a nurse in DC and her friend who has lost all three of her kids and two godchildren as well.  I also hung out with Irene, who is originally from Berlin and now blind, holding her hand and talking to her about what it was like to live in Berlin.

Then, oh folks, then we helped folks get downstairs for lunch and a 9/11 ceremony.  As we were headed down for lunch they asked if anyone played piano.  I was the only one who fessed up to being able to read music.  Immediately the tossed some Beattles, Simon and Garfunkle and Elton John music at me and asked me to play so the residents wouldn't get bored waiting for lunch.  When did I last play piano?  A year ago.  When did I last play piano well?  Eleven years ago.  No one complained as I picked out the melody to "Candle on the Water" and sang along to my rendition of "Hey Jude."  Oh heavens.... I was eventually saved by someone who could ACTUALLY play piano and helped serve lunch instead (a much better use of my skills I think).

Other things that happened this weekend:
  • Total on-call hours: 60
  • Total babies birthed: 0
  • Made cookie dough, and then ate it before I made cookies.
  • I finished the sheep!!!  I will give it to Pete (the friend that brought me the yarn from Iceland) on Monday.
Going for a stroll through the living room...

  • Sam the Cat and I spent a whole day together (I'm cat sitting) in which there was no hissing, scratching, or cussing and only minimal sniffling and sneezing.  And depite the intense staring contest we had around 3pm on Sunday, there may have been a little scritching behind the ears and some purring (not saying who was in charge of which)...
Sam the Cat looks so innocent here....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I just think of a few of my favorite things...

Work kicked the holy crap out of me today.  I mean really.  So instead of complaining about all the people that drive me bonkers or the fact that the shoe store has taken THREE FRICKIN' WEEKS!!! to fix my only pair of decent shoes, I am going to show you a list of things that make me happy at this moment and then go eat

I am suspiciously close to being done with the annoying sheep.

I hung the pictures my mom brought me from her travels in eastern Africa without a level and they don't look horribly crooked (also note my rad pillow slip covers I made).
There is yarn everywhere, including in this bowl that I got in Granada, Spain.

MJ (my co-worker) gave me sock yarn and tiny DPNs (double point needles) so I can learn to make socks.  She even gave me a pattern to start with....

My sewing machine glows when the sun sets.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm Stitching, They're Pitching

Went to the Nationals Game instead of to weaving class.  I am always struck by the fact that there can be a team of what I would consider really good athletes who, together, create a team as questionable as the Nationals.  Last night was no exception (my dad texted me to gloat that the Mets won.  Surprise, surprise).

Because I care almost as much about sports as I do about beer, I obviously brought the Traveling Woman shawl with me to work on.  We were sitting in a lower section in the outfield.  There is a stadium employee guarding each lower section to make sure that no one without the appropriate ticket can steal one of the many open seats.  My co-workers and I sat together and started talking to the employee guarding our section.  When I pulled out my knitting and everyone started either teasing me or getting envious that I had thought bring extra entertainment, the Nationals Employee Who Shall Remain Nameless came over and told me that they "have a special room for people who want to do knitting or sewing durring the game...."

"'s called the ladies' room."

He may have gotten the finger...oops....

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekend Update: Labor Day Weekend

I wish I could say that me not writing for several days was because I was up to amazing things.  Like traveling the world, finishing (or even really starting) my grad school essays, or like, I dunno, even cleaning the house.  Nope, folks.  Labor Day weekend was a big laze fest that started with discovering Nip/Tuck and ended with Nip/Tuck completely taking over my life.  Let's forget for a moment that this show is exactly seven years old, and has already ended after 100 episode, and focus on the fact that it had 45 award nominations (meaning I am not totally crazy for falling in love with this show).  And let's also forget the fact that the first season has 13 episodes and I am already half way through season two (and that the only reason I stopped was because the serial rapist/face-disfigurer is now on the scene and scares the bejesus out of me).  Oops....

I would like to blame all this TV watching on the fact that I did NOT get called into a birth this weekend (I may have actually shed tears for not being able to attend a birth on LABOR Day weekend....sigh....) and that I spent much of my time with Sam The Cat (affectionately known by my friends as El Gato Diablo because of his role in giving me PTCD (post-terrifying cat disorder)) who I will be cat-sitting/living uncomfortably with for the next week and a half in a house without wireless internet.  What to do when there is no internet?  Watch TV, obviously.

I also went to the beach, but I suffered from camnesia (forgetting to use your camera even when you have it with you) and have no pictures.  So instead, enjoy this picture of what my current knitting project (look for Traveling Woman shawl on Ravelry) might look like when it is finished if I don't tear it to shreds and eat the annoying thing first.
Someone is getting this for Christmas, and they better appreciate my first attempt at lace after all this trouble (I am shaking it between my teeth like a rabid AU ninja squirrel right now).  Anyone wanna teach me how to block lace?
This is what mine looks like now.  It is purposely blurry (if by purposely, I mean my cell phone camera hates the fluorescent lighting in my cubicle) so you can't see all the mistakes I made and now have to "reverse knit."
No weaving this Tuesday.  Baseball (and tailgating???) with the co-workers instead.  I promise better posts/pictures later this week....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Because I Said it Outloud (BISIO) Update

Here is a little first-of-the-month update on where all my goals (doula, sheep-to-sweater, and grad school) stand at the moment.


Folks, I have been on-call so many days this past month but haven't been called.  I am hoping to remedy this lack of baby-birthing this weekend with 48 hours of on-call awesomeness.  We can only hope the midwives want help over LABOR Day weekend (best pun ever).


Sheep:  Friends around the country (we are talking, Iowa, Vermont, South Dakota, Washington, and Virgina) have emailed me to say they are on the hunt for sheep.  I was going to go to the VA Fall Fiber Festival this October, but Crafty Bastards is that weekend, too.  I might just wait until the MD festival in the spring.

Spinning:  I've signed up for a class at the Torpedo Factory/Art League for early December.  It is called "Crash Course in Spinning."  I hope it isn't actually "Crash and Burn Course in Spinning."  I have no idea how to prepare for this one.  I can't wait for the materials list, but in the mean time I am just learning about different kinds of wool.

Dyeing:  I've learned to dye wool (more on that soon) at my local knitting studio.  I have serious doubts about my skill in this area, but I think I am passable.  I might host a dye practice party if I can find enough people that care about yarn to come do it with me.

Knitting: This is the area I feel most confident about.  I am doing my first "sweater" currently.  It's the Microspun Baby Hoodie by Lion Brand.  I wanted an easy way to learn about sleeves and button bands and had just enough purple Microspun to do it.  I am currently pretending that I swatched ahead of time and that my gauge isn't horribly off.  In other words, there better be an abnormally small baby out there that needs/craves a purple hoodie...

Grad School:

Applications come out September 15th.  This does not amuse me in the slightest, as it means that I will actually need to fill out said applications.  Still aiming for Thanksgiving as my self-imposed deadline.  I've been reaching out to people for advice on the MPH portion of the JD/MPHs I will be applying for.  I have had both amazing (thanks Stacy, Paula, Ebeth, Addington and others) and ridiculously unhelpful (you shall remain nameless) advice from various sources.

Basically, progress is being made, and I am not totally wasting all my time knitting sheep or watching NCIS.  And we can all be grateful for that.