Monday, December 19, 2005

2005: A Year in Review

Oh 2005, what a year you've been. In many ways, you have managed to both suck and blow at the same time. But the last 12 months haven't been all bad. There may have been a silver lining or two in there. In order to truly evaluate the year, I'm going to do what any self-respecting VH1 afficianado would do: I'm going to make a list. So, *drumroll, please* I give you, The Best and Worst of Sara's Life in 2005.

The Worst.

4. Interminable job search in Bay Area. Talk about a soul-sucking process. "Hi, I know you have years of experience in this exact field, but we're going to string this out for months, interview you multiple times, and then never tell you why we decided to go with another candidate."

3. Suckiness of job (pre-2005 - 3/05). Let me tell you, my job was awful from, say mid-2003 to the early part of this year. Most of that suckiness was due to internal politics and really bad bosses (from the merely disinterested to the actively sabotaging).

2. Mega-fight with Richard during New Mexico vacation. Serious mega-fight, to the point that, for about 15 seconds, I thought we might actually split. It all boiled down to the fact that we weren't really communicating, and we were so busy with the 18 million extraneous things in our lives that kept us apart.

1. Death of Brent, my dear friend Carrie's boyfriend. Unexpectedly passing away at age 29, two days after they moved in together. Sucked ass and still does.

But, to accentuate the positive, here is The Best.

5. Work! That may seem a bit weird, but actually, since April, when I got a new boss who actually respects my opinion and expertise and makes an effort to understand and appreciate what I do, things here have been really good.

4. LA! We love it! Actually I do love Los Angeles, and this year, after all the suckiness of the job search, we decided to stay. It was a hard decision to make, but I think it was the correct one. And having a firm decision helped reduce a lot of the tension and uncertainty that was causing us stress.

3. Baby Maggie! This is the year that welcomed baby Margaret Allison Carriles into the world on October 21. Congratulations and many hugs to new parents Allison F. & Ignacio!

2. Weddings! Oh my god, this was the year when everyone, their mother & second cousin Hilda, decided to get married. Kirsten & Dave (May 14), Christa & Jeff R. (June 11), Ryan & Sara (July 30) and Allison K. & Jeff S. (August 20). Congratulations to you all!

1. Friends! This year has shown me, more than ever, what amazing friends (old & new) I have.

1a. My Stitch n Bitch friends got me through the awful tedium of the sucky job and the equally sucky job search. Without their support, I would have cracked (or at least had way more fights with Rich). And getting to see them every week makes staying in LA all the more attractive.

1b. I realized just how much I love my girlfriends up in the Bay: Carrie, Allison F., Christa & Elizabeth. When Brent died, I felt like someone punched me in the stomach -- not because I even knew him that well, but because I ached for what it meant for Carrie. We all pulled together to try to offer her as much support as we could, even when all we could do was sit up with her, crying and drinking too much red wine and smoking too many cigarettes. And with Christa's wedding and Allison's pregnancy (and birth of Baby Maggie), we got to share some good times, too. One of my regrets about choosing to stay in LA rather than moving up to the Bay is that I'm staying farther away from these ladies.

1c. My college friends are pretty cool, too. And even though almost every one of them has moved away from LA, this year allowed us to have quite a few opportunities to get together. Ryan & Sara's wedding in Seattle was not only beautiful, but it gave us a reason to hang out and generally, be really silly (of course, it also provided the impetus to create Screech, the Scary Owl!). And seeing so many people in Seattle motivated us to hold our annual Friend's Thanksgiving in Utah, which introduced us all to entire Reng family (Katie, Ben's wife whom I hadn't seen in 5 years, Nichole, who is now almost 6 years old and was not even 1 when I saw her last, and Jason, age 4, Natie, age 2, and Hope, age 2 months, all of whom I'd never met before).

So there you have it, proof that while 2005 was partially sucky, there were some bright spots, too. I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday (only 6 crafting days until Christmas and only 7 until Hanukkah!), and that in 2006, the bright spots outweigh the sucky parts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

TMI, and then crochet, I promise

First things first. This is your official warning that this post may be TMI (too much information) for some readers. If you are squeamish about "female issues," you may want to skip down.

Things that suck about no longer being on the Pill:
1. Cramps. They're back! When I was on the Pill, I very rarely had cramps. Now they're here, and they've decided to settle in my lower back. Fun!
2. Aunt Flo is a heavy lady.
3. Aunt Flo stays longer than she used to. I wish she would just leave already.
4. Every strange internal twinge makes me wonder "am I pregnant?" Even if it was just indigestion ("a bit of mustard," in honor of the season)

Things that don't suck about no longer being on the Pill (yes, I know that's a lot of negatives for one sentence):
1. Not having to remember to take that damn pill every day (although I do have to remember the pre-natal vitamins)
2. Not having to experience that icky queasy feeling when I'd have to take two pills at once (because I'd forgotten a day)

3. Not having to worry about whether forgetting 3 pills during the month is enough to get me knocked up. Apparently, it's not. At least not for me.

Ok, that's enough. This officially ends the TMI portion of this post.

Onto the craftiness. So I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on my mom's sweater. I was "inspired" by this sweater I saw in the Anthropologie catalog:
I decided to crochet my version, rather than knit, mainly because I'm a better and faster crocheter. My version is basically three pieces: 1 piece worked sideways for the body, and 2 pieces worked vertically for the bust/sleeves. I chose to do my version in a simple single/double crochet combo (Ellen, is that the granite stitch? I can never remember).

I'm doing it 2-stranded, using a light blue faux mohair and a silver rayon cord, and it's turning out quite nicely. Pictures will come if I ever find my charger for my camera (or just buy a new one). I think I'm going to use a big pearl white vintage button from my collection for the closure.

I hope my mom likes it. I wonder (all the time) whether recipients of my homemade gifts actually wear them. I don't live near most of the people I make gifts for, so I don't really know. I guess that's not really the point, though.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Merry F@$&!*g Christmas

Yes Virginia, there is Christmas in Los Angeles. There is even snow, sort of. Yes, as Julia, Brantlea & I were exiting the movie theater at The Grove yesterday (after seeing Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire -- fantastic!), we noticed something... strange. Out of the ordinary. Unusual. There was this random white stuff falling from the sky in little puffs. Just about anywhere else in the country, that white stuff would be snow, but here in L.A., it is foam. On the rooftops of the shops, foam machines were pumping little bits into the air. I guess they've been doing this for the last few years, but since I normally avoid malls during the holidays like the plague, I'd never seen it. People were gawking, gazing in wonderment at the fake snow. I admit, it was kind of fun, in a so-cheesy-it-can't-be-real, L.A. Story kind of way.

We bought our Christmas tree last night. When it comes to trees, I take the nostalgic route. The tree must maintain its relative mass and height to when I was 8 years old. So, when I was 8, and about 4 ft tall (give or take), and we had a 6 ft tree, it seemed huge. Of course, we lived in a 1960s tract home with low ceilings, so it seemed sky high. Now, being 30, and 5'5" (give or take), and living in a 1930s apartment on the top floor with 10ft ceilings, said tree must be a bit larger. That sucker better be at least 7 1/2 ft tall. So living in central LA, that annual trek to the Christmas tree lot is not going to be cheap. And how much did we spend on that tree?

$75. For a basic 7 1/2 ft Douglas Fir (not even getting near the fancy Nobles). Believe me, they went much higher in price, but I couldn't bring myself to shell out $95 for a tree that will be dead in a few weeks. Call it a matter of principle.

Getting the tree into that 1930s apartment is always a bit of a challenge. After spending now 9 Christmases in the apartment, we've got it down to a science. Wrap the tree in plastic (those Christmas tree disposal bags work well) before carting it into the building. By working together, Richard & I can squeeze the tree & one person into the elevator (the tiny one with the cute grate you have to pull across). Then the other person runs up to the 4th floor to open the elevator door (since the 1st person is squeezed against the elevator wall and can't reach the door). We then have the challenge of manuvering a 7 1/2 ft long tree into the apartment, which opens the onto a wall and you have to turn an immediate left into a very narrow hallway. Somehow, we manage not to knock down every picture frame (especially not my prized possession -- the "Vote Willie Nelson for President in 2004" poster). Then we place the tree in the old-fashioned tree stand (the one with the screws that drill into the tree trunk and kill my fingers). Then we pull the plastic bag off, which has mostly contained the needles and assorted naturey stuff that falls off the tree.

Sounds great, right? Until, that is, I squeeze around the tree to put the light up, and the tree falls over. We unscrew the stand, rescrew, and it falls over again. The tree actually fell over 3 times last night. We finally took the tree out of the stand and realised that the stand has been banged around so much that it's not straight anymore. FYI, by the time we saw this, it was about 10:05 p.m. So Richard heads over to Target (where we saw nice, shiny tree stands on Saturday) and of course, they are out of them. When Rich gets back at about 11 p.m. (he had to circle looking for parking, since Monday is a street cleaning day, i.e. on one side of the street you have to move your car by 8 a.m.), he has to fish the old stand out of the dumpster and we have to carefully jury-rig the tree in the stand so it doesn't fall over before we can track down a new stand.

So Santa, if you're reading this, please let Richard find a new stand at the Target by his office today. Don't let my $75 tree die before Christmas. I need something to remind me that it is Christmas time, even in L.A. And it needs to be something less cheesy than foam snow.