Thursday, August 25, 2005

Everything but the Purl

Laura recently asked me about the progress on my drop stitch shrug. Shrug? Was there a shrug I was working on...??? Oh, yeah. It's in Austin. And I'm not!

Being new to this blogging gig, I don't know the protocol for letting people know you're on vacation and stuff. When you're working in a grown-up job, you turn on the nice little "out of office" autoreply that sends out those weird, impersonal emails to your friends who sent you their latest jokes or random pictures of polar bears. (And if you're the person sending it, don't tell me you don't get that initial thrill of seeing that you have a new message in your inbox, and that someone is already chortling over your funny and had to email you about it...and then you realize with disappointment that it's an Out of the Office autoreply.)

Anyway, I happen to be on vacation in Chicago, where I am staying at the wireless-free, Internet-free zone that is my parents' home. It's also cable-free, but that's OK, because I discovered this neato channel (23, I think) that shows round the clock reruns of The Monkees, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Bewitched, Get Smart, Batman...oh, the list goes on and on. Better programming than any cable channel! Even TV Land! The second day I was home, I sat mesmerized for a solid three hours, needing only a PB&J to complete that after-school experience.

So, needless to say, I haven't been able to catch up on emails, or blogging, or anything computer related, in more than a week. And there are tons of things to blog about...more than I could possibly fit in here right now, since I'm stealing some morning time to do this at my brother's house, but have to run home soon since my sister's coming to town today with my adorable, endlessly amusing 3 year old niece. Hurray!

Before I left Austin, my friends and I took a little road trip to San Antonio for a reading/performance hosted at JumpStart Theatre, and organized by (I think) Sandra Cisneros's Macondo writing workshop and the Esperanza Center. This was the second time in about a month that I've been to San Antonio, and in close proximity to La Sandra, and you can't call it stalking. You can't! Because I was there legimitately both times, see? Once to present at a conference, and once for this reading.

It was super cool. They called it Noche de Mil Recuerdos (see Jennifer's blog for another recuerdo of it), and rigged the theater to look like a smoky cantina, with a mirrored bar behind the stage, and a dance floor, and little cabaret tables scattered about. My friends and I were only able to get standing room tickets, which worked out well, because we ended up standing in close proximity to the real bar, and snacking on nuts and beef jerky. The performers, and some of the patrons, were outfitted in retro-seventies-hippie-bohemian gear, and the whole effect was to create a world straight from Denise Chavez's novel, Loving Pedro Infante. There was a great performance of Cisneros's The Marlboro Man, which is essentially a dialogue between two women discussing the fate of the fabled mustached bloke, but here it was brilliantly peformed by two gay male characters. There were a couple of women singers, belting out classics like "Volver" in a raw, sobbing voice (as La Sandra might say...or has said) and getting the whole room to wail it out with them. La Sandra read of course, and Denise Chavez also shared a couple of pieces from her new work, The King and Queen de Comezon.

Here are the divas of Chicana literature, Denise Chavez and Sandra Cisneros:

Sandra had this hee-larious outfit on, with bell-bottom jeans, an embellished caftan top, hoop earrings big enough to hitch a horse to, and a crocheted cap and trenzas (braids) to top it all off.

One of our dear friends who participated in the writing workshop scribbled out directions for the afterparty, somewhere close to downtown San Antonio. The directions were eminently clear. But the streets? Sheesh hamaneesh. The general rule for road planning in Texas seems to have been, let's trick em. Roads curve, turn into other roads without warning, and when you're faced with a particularly befuddling intersection, there are three signs suspended overhead that all seem to be claiming the same street. We were like, we get it, we're not from here. WE GET IT. (Although Lyle Lovett claims that Texas wants us anyway. :-)

We circled for a while before finally finding our way, and even got to see the Alamo in the bargain.

We arrived at the party, where La Sandra herself was standing out front, directing guests around to the back. With a lot of chutzpah, we marched in (after I threw all the names of my friends at her that she would recognize, hoping that she wouldn't call us out for the crashers that we were, and her shrugging it off, saying that it wasn't her house anyway). We got to hang out for a few hours with our friends and have delicious tamales and lamb biryani (thank you to the nice host whose house it was and who provided the spread and who was very nice to us). And although we didn't exactly mingle with Sandra and Denise, we hung on the periphery, much like the new kids in the school cafeteria, sitting next to the cool table and occasionally stealing sideways glances in their direction.

All this, before leaving for Chicago! I have to say it's been great being on vacation, not checking my school email account, leaving any student emails languishing in my box while I knit and read Vogue and watch 70s nostalgic television. (I am making progress on Orangina, but sadly have no picture. Imagine...more lace.) I did make it downtown a couple of times this week, once to go for a dentist appointment that I ended up late for, and the second time, to make up the dentist appointment that got rescheduled because I was late. Story of my life. But am I complaining? Nooo, ma'am. Look at my beautiful city:

The infamous "bean"--this is the newest sculpture to Chicago's collection (which includes a Picasso in Daley Plaza and a Calder in the Post Office plaza). Just added last year, I think, it's actually called "Cloud Gate," but since Chicagoans have to redefine everything on their terms, it became popularly known as the Bean. (It does kinda look like Elsa Peretti's bean for Tiffany, I gotta say.) Anyway, it's been obscured behind scaffolding so that the seams between its metal plates can be polished away, but if you walk behind it, you can see that the work is progressing nicely.

The Frank Gehry bandshell in Millenium Park.

The Chicago River (where ER likes to pretend that their doctors have time to take strolls, but in reality is nowhere near Cook County Hospital).

The lovely, limestone water tower that survived the Great Chicago Fire.

The Presbyterian church on Michigan Avenue, tucked away among glittering high-rises.

The much-underappreciated John Hancock Center.

The first day I missed my appointment, I wandered up to Oak Street, and wandered right into We'll Keep You in Stitches. Oops! It doesn't have the presentation of other yarn stores, but who cares when you walk out with the kind of loot I walked out with the other day? Their sale section is basically a large cardboard box. Everything was half off! I bought five balls of Adrienne Vittadini Paloma, a soft alpaca blend boucle in a lovely deep turquoise that will maybe be enough for a smallish shawl, or a nice scarf, and some Katia Sonrisa, a cotton yarn plied with a multicolored ribbon that I am going to knit up into a tank top for my niece! (Friends, this will be my first real foray into design, and while it's not gonna be anything complicated, I'm really excited to try it!)

What would a stroll down Michigan Avenue be without a lil' bit o' shopping? I walked into Filene's Basement, where I HAD to show you the atrocities hanging on the clearance rack. These were all 75% off, I believe, which still required a not-insubstantial chunk of change to take 'em home with you.

This is a Miu Miu top made out of some weird football jersey fabric lined with a stiff interfacing so that it could, literally, stand up by itself. I believe the "inspiration," if you can call it that, was taken from whatever football garment the players wear over their shoulder pads.

This is a knitted tube on a hanger. No joke. No label, either. Just a price tag from which I do not recall the price, but guaranteed to be at least $50. Hey! I'll knit you a tube! For half that price!

I honestly do not believe that I have any words that could possibly add anything to this picture. Except that it's Gucci.

OK, I do have some words: MC Hammer? Filene's Basement's got your pants! And they want $100 for them!

I have a rant about high fashion that I have planned for this space. Watch for it. But for the time being, let it be said: Women of the world! Make a stand against the tyranny of fashion designers on crack! For the love of GOD!


At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So wait a minute, how's the shrug coming along?
(Sorry, I just skimmed.)

At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Olga,

Glad you're catching up on quality tv. : )

And thanks for the walkabout tour of Chicago. Only been in the train station. I can pretend to be there instead of slaving away on FileMaker.

Take care. Enjoying your breezy voice, which is capable of skipping through Miu Miu, purls, and San Antonio without skipping a beat.


At 4:41 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Olga! Chica! Thanks for your email and this awesome post. They put a big smile on my face.

I just love Chicago. And I can't wait for your high fashion rant. Those items at Filene's are amazing. Not in a good way.

I am totally with you on the knitting boredom factor with scarves and some shrugs. I have been thinking that I could trick myself into being excited about knitting a big rectangle if I knew that it would have sleeves when I was done. But it's still just knitting a big rectangle. No parade moments!

Have fun with your niece!

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Marisa said...

Ahhh METV! Now you understand why I don't need cable, between METv and Sex & the City reruns on WGN, it's a wonder I leave my house. If the pints weren't so cheap at Tuman's, I may never venture out.

Good seeing you this week, though not enough.



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