Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring Fever


Guess what this is?

I'll give you a hint. It is either:
1. A baby sundress in progress.
2. A washcloth gone horribly wrong.
3. The beginning of a cropped, fitted camisole for a 37-year-old mother who has clearly lost her mind to Spring Fever.

I have no excuse. None. There is more than one mirror in my house. I am not laboring under any delusions about the size and/or shape of my body. I do not think that 30-something women dressed like Brittney-wannabes are cute. So why, why, why do I do this every spring? Why do I come up with cute, flirty designs that I would never, ever actually wear, and then proceed to knit them with gleeful abandon?

I love the yarn (Rowan All-Seasons Cotton). I love the stitch pattern (see below--it doesn't have a name). I love the shape (kinda clingy and shaped, with a bit of skin showing, but no actual indecency).



But I know what's going to happen. I will knit the back. I will finish it. I will lovingly wash and block it. I will put it on and step in front of the mirror. And then I will step back, take it off, fold it neatly, and put it in the closet. Because I will never, ever, be caught in public in a knitted, clingy, shaped, skin-showing but not actually indecent camisole. Get real.

I suppose I could always convert it to a baby sundress.

Friday, March 30, 2007

R.I.P.


My oven died last night.

Ordinarily, the death of an appliance is a minor inconvenience, easily remedied by a trip to the local Sears. But in this case, I think a little more is due. You see, my oven, as I discovered when I slid it partway out to measure the opening in the cabinet, was manufactured in 1977.

Do you remember 1977? The bicentennial had just ended. Dittos jeans and Candies were big. "Hippies" were the scandal of the day in conservative suburbia. Teenagers ironed their hair. Billy Carter was a national joke. And I don't know about you, but I was just learning to read. That's how old my oven is.


See the digital clock? The kind with the numbers that rotated on little wheels? They were brand new in 1977. The previous summer, we went on our one and only family vacation (to Europe), and my brothers nearly wet themselves with excitement when we saw a digital watch in a shop in Switzerland. This clock died only a few weeks ago, and I saw the writing on the wall then.

This is the control panel for the microwave. I suspect it may actually be the first-ever microwave. See the digital timer? It has never worked since we've owned this house. You have to stand by the microwave and manually turn it on and off. If you, say, put your coffee cup in it to reheat, and then walk away to water the plants, or answer the phone, or change a diaper, and you forget that your coffee is still in the microwave, it just keeps on merrily cooking away. It never turns off. Eventually, you remember about your coffee, and you tear downstairs and yank open the door, and as soon as the cool air hits the super-heated cup, the cup explodes, spraying ceramic shards and boiling coffee all over the microwave, the floor, and anyone standing in front of the microwave, watching in horror. You'd think that once would be enough to sear that experience into your memory, but I can personally attest to having exploded at least half a dozen coffee cups in exactly this manner.

The other thing that's always disturbed me a little is that, if you're talking on the cordless phone and happen to walk past the microwave while it is running, the static over the phone is deafening. It's amazing we haven't all grown a third ear from radiation exposure.


This is a little blurry, but you can still read the instructions for using the self-clean function. Obviously, this was a big deal in 1977--so big that they printed the instructions directly on the front control panel of the oven. See the script? That was high style then, too.

Our house was built in 1977, which, for this part of the world, is old. When we moved in, eight years ago, it was a monument to late-seventies style. Everything in the house was orange and brown. Every room had heavy, formal draperies (even on the showers!) in oversized florals in brown, orange, acid green, and mauve. The ceilings were covered with stained acoustic popcorn. The bathrooms and laundry room were clad in mottled yellow sheet vinyl. The kitchen was completely encased in dark brown wood, except for the mustard yellow tile with the dark brown grout on the counters, and the family room walls were covered with splintered wood paneling. My mother referred to it as "the dog house." But it was in a good location, it was a good size, it had an actual yard, complete with swimming pool, and we could afford it.

Bit by bit, we have replaced and remodeled, and now, there is very little left of 1977. Except the oven. And I find myself wondering about all the life that oven has seen. We are not the first family to live here, or even the second. Judging from the mail I still sometimes get, at least three families lived here before us. How many cups of coffee do you suppose that microwave has heated? How many middle-of-the-night baby bottles? I wonder how many batches of cookies have come out of that oven, and how many serious kitchen-table talks it has witnessed.

By next week, I'll have a shiny, new, stainless-steel oven and microwave with electronic controls and a working clock and timer. I'm told that I won't have to stand by the microwave to turn it off. In fact, I'm told that I won't even have to tell the microwave how long I want it to run, thanks to something called "sensor cooking." And the oven? No exposed heating coil to burn myself on, no knobs of any sort, and the thing cleans itself automatically.

But you know, I just can't imagine that fancy-schmancy oven will still be around thirty years from now.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Noro, Revisited


Okay, okay. I didn't really abandon it. Here it is, in all its glory. And I have to admit, I don't hate it. I specifically wanted a simple, relaxed, weekend pullover to wear with jeans. Believe it or not, the mismatched stripes have actually ceased to bother me (mostly because lots of people have complimented the sweater, and not one has noticed the flaw--of course, none of them are knitters). But it does have a new nickname: The Blob. Remember the old movie? You know, the slimy ooze that keeps consuming...well...everything, and just keeps growing and growing and growing? That's this sweater. Not the ooze part. At least, not yet. But the growing part? It defies all reason. I've worn the thing three times, and each time, it's grown at least a full size. It started out with a 40 inch chest. At last measure, it was at 46 inches. And the length started out at 24 inches, and is now 27 inches. Or it was this afternoon. Now? I don't know now. By tomorrow I may have a mini-dress. I'm tall (5'11"), but I only have a 35 inch chest, so I'm not entirely sure whether the thing is going to trip me or fall off my shoulders first.

If anyone out there knows a woman who's a size 48 extra long, or a pro wrestler who wouldn't mind wearing a purple-turquoise-and-gold-mohair sweater, let me know. Just in case.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Momsicle


The 4th grade went on a field trip today to a local adobe rancho (a Mexican-era cattle ranch). As usual, I went along. Now, when faced with the prospect of an outdoor field trip in March, when the weathercasters have been predicting colder-than-usual temps and heavy rain, the prudent knitter with a whole closet full of knitted items and more yarn than she can possibly justify to anyone not similarly obsessed, might consider taking along some sort of warm, soft, insulating garment, like, maybe A SWEATER! Take it from me, a t-shirt and windbreaker have very limited insulating power.

Somewhere around the second hour, while attempting to string tooled-leather medallions onto plastic cord and then knot said cord to form souvenir necklaces for a long line of fourth graders, I discovered that most of the feeling had left my fingers. I finished tying the cords with my chin and the heel of one hand.

About the middle of the second hour, while trying to re-knot said cords after the original knots had sprung loose from the slippery plastic and the souvenir necklaces were dropping like breadcrumbs marking our path as we toured the rancho, I discovered my hands were now completely numb. Not to worry: I still had teeth.

By the third hour, while I was attempting to affix sticky labels with the kids' names to the waxy wicks of their hand-dipped candles, I realized that the shaking I was experiencing was not, in fact, a small earthquake, but my own shivering as my body fought off frostbite.

By the time we got back to the bus, the shivering had stopped. I think. I don't remember clearly, but I seem to recall talking to Kermit the Frog. Only he was purple. Or maybe it was Ghandi. I think I may have been delirious.

When I finally got home, I put on two sweaters and gulped a huge mug of tea, then huddled on the sofa with two large dogs. Two hours later, I still hadn't warmed up appreciably. I finally bit the bullet and jumped in a hot shower (I'd have taken a bath, but the only tub in the house is in the kids' bathroom, and that would have meant a whole lot of scrubbing before I was willing to get into the tub). Now, I'm not a big person, and my husband, who's bigger than I am, insists that he never has this problem, but I cannot keep both my front and back warm in the shower. If I face the shower, my back is cold; if I face away, my front is cold. After ten minutes of spinning like a top, vainly trying to keep all of me warm at the same time, I got out of the shower, put on all my clothes, including the two sweaters, dug out the electric heating pad, and huddled once more on the sofa with the two large dogs. And there I remain. If this doesn't work, I think I'll just light my feet on fire.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

Options

So, the Noro.

Here are the options as I see them:
















1. The 80s look. It's coming back, you know. Do we love it, or what?

















2. Arms down. All the time.















3. (Shudder.)



4. Or, I could try to just...LIVE WITH IT. Yeah, I laughed, too.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Real


Do you remember the children's story "The Velveteen Rabbit"? It is about a stuffed bunny who lives in the nursery with a little boy. He is a newcomer to the nursery, and he is befriended by a "skin horse" (a type of rocking horse), who has lived in the nursery for generations.

One day, the Velveteen Rabbit asks, "What is Real?" To which, the skin horse replies:

"Real isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."*

Meet the Velveteen Dog. Her name is Molly. We got her six weeks after we got married, only days after we learned I was pregnant with our first child. She has been with us for nearly eleven years, through four jobs, two law degrees, three moves, two children, and numerous other pets. She patiently and devotedly watched over our babies, letting them put their fingers in her nose, poke her eyes, and pull on her ears without a single protest. She guarded them while they napped on the sofa, and gently steered them away from the fireplace and the swimming pool. They both learned to walk by holding onto her fur while she carefully made her way around the room. Our youngest even shared her rawhide bones (but maybe the less said about that, the better). As the boys got older, she played with them in the front yard and swam with them in the pool. She kept them company at the park and made sure they didn't go too far out in the ocean when we went to the beach. At night, she put them to bed, staying with them until they fell asleep.

But Molly is old now. These days, she's a little slow getting up off the floor. Her face is grey and her fur is not as thick and shiny as it once was. Her eyes have grown cloudy, and she seems to have trouble finding us if we wander too far from her. She'd rather nap on the sofa than swim in the pool.

The babies she raised are big boys now. They go to school and play sports and sleep over at friends' houses. They are noisy and rambunctious, and when they tear around the house with their friends, she gets nervous and huddles in another room, shaking.

But those who know her, know the truth: Molly is Real. Her boys have never known life without her. They have loved and petted and played with her every day of their lives. We all hope that she will be with us for years and years longer, but the adults realize that this is unlikely. One terrible, sad day, we will wake up, and Molly won't. On that day, I hope I will remember to tell my children that it is okay: "Once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."*

*from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day...

...but just try explaining that to a frustrated seven-year-old.

This is how the conversations in our house have been going lately:

Boy: Mom, can you knit a few rows?
Mom: No, it's your project.
Boy: But it's NEVER gonna get done!
Mom: The point of knitting is to enjoy the knitting, not to get done.
Boy: But I can't enjoy the knitting if it doesn't get done!
Mom: Well, it takes time to finish a sweater. It took me months to do my first sweater.
Boy: I'm so slow! You are much better than me. If you do it, it will go faster.
Mom: I'm faster because I have lots more practice. I've been knitting for 20 years! Just think how fast you'll be in 20 years.
Boy: But you're that fast now--why don't you do it?
Mom: Because it's your project, not mine.
Boy: Just a few rows. PLEEEEEASE?
Mom: I'll help you with your mistakes, but I'm not going to knit it for you. If you don't want to knit, put it down for now.

Boy is silent for a few moments. Then:
Boy: Mom? I don't want to knit a sweater.
Mom: No? What do you want to knit?

Boy contemplates the two-inch wide knitted strip for a moment.
Boy: A belt?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Noro, Interrupted


What's wrong with this picture?

Yeah, I know it's missing a sleeve. I wasn't sure if I liked the sleeve I made, so I sewed it in to see how it looked. The jury is still out on that. But that's not what I mean. There is a far bigger problem here.



See it now?

This is clearly not my fault. There are clearly several more rows of light blue on the right than on the left. Since the front (on the left) is exactly the same number of stitches as the back (on the right), and the stitch pattern is identical, and the gauge is the same, this could not have happened unless the two balls of yarn WERE DIFFERENT!

Now, if we ignore, for the moment, my role in this travesty, this is entirely Noro's fault. I have never knitted with Noro before, because I am all about soft, smooth texture, and--let's just say it out loud--Noro is scratchy. Yes, I know everyone loves Noro. Yes, I know the colors are gorgeous. Yes, I know I am speaking knitting blasphemy. None of that changes the fact that you could scrub the inside of your oven with a sweater made from Kureyon.

But I made an exception. I was seduced by the lovely colors, by the misleadingly tempting name "Silk Garden," by the 50% off sale. I gave in. Surely all those knitters cannot be mistaken. Surely Noro must have significant redeming values. Surely I am missing something. I placed the order. I waited impatiently for the UPS guy. I ripped open the package with enthusiasm. I tore open the plastic bag. I fingered the yarn eagerly. And...I was not impressed. Silk Garden--name notwithstanding--is decidedly...scratchy. But, I thought, the colors are beautiful. And maybe the yarn will soften up after washing. (Surely all those knitters cannot be mistaken...)

I chose needles. I knitted up a swatch. I gave considerable thought to the type of sweater I would make, and particularly to how I would construct it to take advantage of those seemingly random color changes. If I knit a cardigan in one piece (my first thought), my colors not might match up in the front. If I knit a pullover in the round, how would I deal with it when I had to divide for the front and back? If I knit a funnel neck to keep the colors together, I would never wear it, because the scratchiness would drive me crazy. I finally settled on a simple pullover with a split neck, knitted in pieces and seamed together. It seemed like the perfect solution. As long as I started each piece with the same color, they would all match up. Right?

I cast on for the back and started knitting. I watched with pleasure as the colors gradually shifted and created soft, irregular stripes. This isn't so bad, I thought. And maybe the yarn will soften up after washing. (Surely all those knitters can't be mistaken...)

I finished the back and carefully located the exact color to cast on for the front. All went well, until I reached the split collar. At that point, I decided to compare the back to the front. Something seemed wrong. The color changes did not seem to be identical. But it was a small difference. The basic color changes were the same. I could, no doubt, make it match up in the finishing. Denial reared its ugly head.

I kept going. I divided for the front collar. I carefully cut and pieced to make the colors match on the left and right sides. I did a three-needle bind off for the shoulders. I picked up and knit the collar. I reinforced the split neck with a row of crochet. I compared the sides again. That little mismatch was still there. No doubt about it. And I have kind of a thing for symmetry. But it was a small difference. Surely it wouldn't be noticeable. Denial chuckled and patted me reassuringly.

I made the first sleeve. Not thrilled, I decided to sew it into the armhole to see how it looked. Unable to get a good impression from the hanging sleeve, I seamed the sleeve and thought, what the heck, I'll sew the side seam, too.

And that's where the house of cards came crashing to the ground. If you look closely at the picture, you will see horizontal stripes of reverse stockinette that repeat every three inches. These must match up. But if you match these up, there is no way to disguise the fact that there is a significant difference in the color change between the front and the back. Denial laughed and melted away. I am screwed.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

God, I Love Spring










The year's at the spring
And the day's at the morn;














Morning's at seven;













The hillside's dew-pearled;













The lark's on the wing;













The snail's on the thorn:









God's in his heaven--
All's right with the world!

--Robert Browning

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Learning Curve



Things I Have Learned From My Son:

1. Knitting involves two needles and a ball of yarn. That is three things. People only have two hands.
2. There are only two stitches in knitting: the knit stitch and the I'm-not-gonna-do-that-one stitch.
3. Pot holders are not real projects.
4. Ditto scarves.
5. The only yarn worth knitting costs $20 a ball and will end up tangled up with a yo-yo, a Rescue Hero, and a Lego X-wing Fighter.
6. If your child is a perfectionist, you might want to consider teaching him something with a greater margin for error--like brain surgery.
7. Dogs don't like being poked with knitting needles.
8. Neither do siblings.
9. Knitting with five needles looks way more exciting than knitting with two needles. (Note: That way lies madness.)
10. There is a knitting fairy who stops by every night after you go to sleep to fix all your mistakes.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tell me honestly


Tell me honestly...is this unreasonable?

This is (most of) the stash. It is all contained in one small closet, on two ordinary-sized bookcases. The sock yarn fills that one top shelf to the left. The bottom shelf to the right is project purgatory, for those projects that just aren't heading in the right direction and need some time to think about what they've done. That leaves only...four shelves of "real" yarn--you know, the kind you buy in bulk to make sweaters that somehow don't get started, or the kind you buy because it's on sale and it's got to work for something, or the kind that you buy because you're just in love, and you know the perfect project will come along? Four smallish shelves--that's it. That's not unreasonable, right?

Then can somebody please explain that to my husband, my kids, my brother, my mom, and my next-door neighbor?

My husband's reaction (when he inadvertently discovered the stash, hidden away in the guest room closet, which he had not opened even once in eight years in this house): "Holy *#&@! How much did all that cost?!"

My kids' reaction: "OH! Wow, look at all that yarn! You're gonna die before you can knit all that!" (They are young. I'm sure I look close to death to them.)

My brother's reaction (after spending four months living in that guest room): "Hey, did you know that closet is entirely lined in YARN?!"

My mom's reaction: [Head shaking and pressed lips. Like maybe I need a serious talking to, but she's keeping her mouth shut, because I'm an adult and if I want to squander my children's college fund on yarn...well, so be it.]

My neighbor's reaction: "And you think I'm unstable?! I think it's time we had a little talk."

I just don't get it. I mean, would you ask Michaelangelo why he needs so damn many paints?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Query


What does this look like to you?

If you answered that it looks like four rows of uneven garter stitch in brassy, variegated acrylic, you would be wrong. In fact, it is the beginning of a dream. Not my dream, indeed, but the dream of a new and inspired knitter. It is this young knitter's first foray into the wide, exciting, sometimes heart-breaking world of handknit garments. This is the very beginning of my seven-year-old son's very first sweater.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

100 Things About Me

1. I have two children, both boys.
2. I have two dogs, both girls.
3. I think this makes the balance of power even.
4. My husband and I are both lawyers.
5. I win all the arguments.
6. My husband's favorite saying is, "A happy wife is a happy life."
7. I adore my husband (and I am very, very happy).
8. I speak three languages.
9. I have lived in several different countries.
10. My favorite city is Paris.
11. I don't speak French.
12. My father is Palestinian.
13. I don't speak Arabic.
14. My father was raised Muslim.
15. My mother was raised Catholic.
16. My husband was raised Jewish.
17. My children are being raised Tolerant.
18. I have degrees in literature, government administration, and law.
19. I used to be a diplomat.
20. I have played piano, violin, and flute.
21. I have no apparent musical talent.
22. I hate cooking.
23. I love gardening.
24. I have painted every room in my house at least twice.
25. I have attended five different universities.
26. I have (naturally) red hair.
27. I have fair skin and freckles.
28. I have olive green eyes.
29. I am almost six feet tall.
30. I have very strong political opinions.
31. I am 37 years old.
32. I am NOT (as my mother keeps telling me) "almost 40."
33. My mother and I are very close.
34. My favorite color is red.
35. Until I was in my thirties, my favorite color was black.
36. I love to read.
37. I once competed in the "Miss Teenage California" pageant. I was fifteen. It was embarassing.
38. I have size eleven feet.
39. I am the youngest of five kids.
40. My oldest sister is nineteen years older than I am.
41. I wanted my kids to be eighteen months apart.
42. They are two years and eight months apart.
43. I wanted to name my daughter Olivia Rose.
44. I don't have a daughter.
45. I once worked on an archaeological dig in Israel, where I spent six weeks digging a pit in what turned out to be a 5000 year old garbage dump.
46. When I was a kid, the only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a veterinarian.
47. I wish I had become a veterinarian.
48. I love animals (obviously).
49. My kids have lots of pets (which has nothing to do with my desire to live vicariously through them. Really.)
50. I don't think I can come up with fifty more things to tell you about myself.
51. Except for jeans, I never wear blue.
52. I love to knit with wool, but I seldom wear it, because I secretly think it's itchy.
53. My sons both know how to knit, but only the younger one actually does.
54. I knit in public.
55. I love trashy novels, but I keep them under the bed instead of in the bookshelves with the "respectable" books.
56. My best friend has been my best friend since we were fourteen.
57. Many, many people have told me that I am "intimidating."
58. I hate being late for anything.
59. I like to sleep for at least nine hours a night.
60. I am skinny.
61. I have a grown stepson.
62. He was seven when I started dating his dad.
63. I have been married almost eleven years.
64. I am very handy.
65. I live fifteen minutes from the beach.
66. I prefer the beach in winter.
67. I don't watch professional sports.
68. I don't think "Saturday Night Live" is funny, but I watch it anyway.
69. I don't like reality tv, but I love "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance."
70. I shower at night, instead of in the morning, because of my theory of clean sheets.
71. I am not a morning person. Actually, I'm not even a before-noon person.
72. My husband makes coffee and breakfast before I get up.
73. I recently started wearing reading glasses.
74. I played five varsity sports in high school.
75. I didn't have a boyfriend until I was eighteen years old.
76. I met my husband when I was twenty-three.
77. I breastfed each of my kids for over a year.
78. I think growing roses is too much trouble.
79. I rarely drink alcohol.
80. I eat chocolate every day.
81. I love reptiles.
82. I don't like insects.
83. I overreact to cockroaches (if there is such a thing as "overreacting" to a cockroach.)
84. I was a foreign exchange student in Germany, which is where I learned to knit.
85. My favorite month is April.
86. My least favorite month is August.
87. I enjoy doing laundry.
89. I love to walk, but hate to run.
90. I walk fast.
91. I cannot use a sewing machine. Seriously. They sense my fear and they attack.
92. I have made a few quilts. By hand.
93. My favorite appliance is my vacuum cleaner.
94. I'm sort of a neat freak.
95. I was a slob when I was a kid.
96. I have very vivid dreams.
97. I am extremely analytical.
98. I have a very good memory.
99. I have had surgery six times.
100. I am very, very fortunate.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Well, one picture, anyway.

So. I did figure out how to post pictures. And how to make a set of pictures of my completed projects. It seems the only problem I neglected to address is that I don't actually HAVE any pictures of my completed projects. You see, I don't generally take pictures of my knitting. Funny me, I just wear it. It never occurred to me (until I wanted to make a set of pictures of completed projects, that is) that I should take pictures. Unfortunately, my technological impairment extends to my very tiny, very complex, very button-enhanced digital camera. I'm working on it. Bear with me.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Hey, look, pictures!

Hey, look, I did it! It's my first picture!

This is a baby sweater I made for a friend's first baby. It's done in Blue Sky Alpaca's organic cotton in a terrific one-piece, top-down raglan pattern. It only took three days of knitting time to do. The yarn was lovely: soft and thick and warm, but it was a pain to knit. I'm not a big fan of knitting cotton, because it is so inflexible. It is difficult to get the stitches to come out evenly, and it hurts my hands and wrists. But the finished product was wonderful!

Is there anybody out there?

Well, don't I feel silly. Here I am, all dressed up and ready to join the you-tube generation with my very own, brand-spanking-new blog, and no one to read it. If a blog posts on the internet and no one reads it, does it make any sound?

However, I've always been a big fan of talking to myself (I'm guaranteed an interested, intelligent audience), and this isn't much different. On the assumption that someone out there might actually happen on this while looking for...oh, I don't know...some hog-fetishist site (there are some very odd special interests out there--trust me; we won't discuss how I know), let me just say up front that this is a knitting blog. If you're looking for hogs, they're not here. And yes, there really are people--lots and lots of people--who like to read blogs about knitting. I'm one of them. I read them every day. I knit every day. And I finally decided to combine two of my great loves and write my very own blog all about knitting.

Now, let me be up-front about something else: I am technology-challenged. If it's got buttons, there are going to be problems. So this is a sort of experiment for me. Kind of a "who's-gonna-crack-first-the-computer-or-the-human" sort of thing. So far, my money's on the human crashing and burning. I just spent an hour trying to figure out how to put pictures on this thing and...well, as you can see, there are no pictures.

But I am persistent. I am strong. I will prevail. Just as soon as I get out of this fetal position.