Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Gratifying But Not Surprising Story....! Knit On...!

Purls of wisdom: A daughter finds relief for grief in knitting 

6 hours ago
Knitter C.J. Arabia, who took up the craft after her mother's death, is shown working on a new project.
At the end of 2008, the unthinkable happened to C.J. Arabia. Her mother — the healthy one who lived on baked chicken and broccoli and who wouldn’t let her kids use a microwave — was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and given three months to live.
To ease her through grueling chemotherapy, Arabia’s mother took up knitting. When she passed away at 59, Arabia’s brothers gave her their mother’s leftover yarn to keep, though she had never knitted before. But she absolutely knew that was the yarn’s purpose. “I stared at it in the corner,” she said. “It’s weird how a bag of yarn can give you so many feelings.”
So after several months of waiting to start and when YouTube tutorials didn’t do the trick, she took a local knitting class in Los Angeles and has “kind of been knitting excessively ever since.”
There have been hats, scarves, masks for dogs, mittens — anything that strikes her fancy — and she doesn’t follow patterns when making her artwork. The 44-year-old has documented herself knitting everywhere from the Grand Sumo Tournament in Japan to castles in Europe. Her designs are whimsical (a "Clockwork Orange" ski mask), intricate (multicolored hooded capes) and practical (soft, knitted bookmarks). She has given herself carpal tunnel syndrome from all of the knitting, or maybe it was the purling.
Acclaimed songwriter and "Shudder To Think" singer Craig Wedren wears a cape gifted to him by C.J. Arabia.
Courtesy of CJ Arabia
Acclaimed songwriter and "Shudder To Think" singer Craig Wedren wears a cape gifted to him by C.J. Arabia.
But most of all, she has healed her grieving heart. “For me, knitting is like a meditation. It almost takes me out of my head when I can be sad or stressed or anxious … it helps so much.”
She read somewhere that knitting and meditation light up the same parts of the brain, and though she had always had trouble meditating, she finds that “knitting is a way to just kind of float. You’re floating with the waves, just bobbing up and down. That’s how the stitches are for me. That’s all you can think about.”
Arabia’s family and friends have been the beneficiaries of her habit — “If you know me, you have something knitted from me.”
She gives away almost everything she makes. “People tell me I should sell my stuff — and occasionally I do — but I give the vast majority away,” Arabia said. “For one, nobody wants to pay what a hand-knitted item, made with really good natural fibers, is actually worth.”
Yarn is purchased anywhere from $36 a ball to $60 a ball and up through her travels, though her favorite store is Knitty City on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, which she calls her “Vatican.”
“Going into a yarn store for me is like kids walking into a toy store,” Arabia said, adding, “I smell the yarns, sometimes I smell the sheep or llama or alpaca or hay. The more natural the fiber, it has little bits of dirt and hay. To me, they’re lucky and I leave them in.”
No scrap is wasted — she will use colorful odds and ends to create vibrant designs. And knitting has become so natural that Arabia doesn’t have to see what she’s doing. “I can feel in the dark if I have made a mistake,” she said. “I can go back and fix the mistake without looking.”
She does have a following in certain Hollywood circles. Her boyfriend is film and television actor Mather Zickel (of “Rachel Getting Married” and recently Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.”) A longtime friend is Janeane Garofalo. She has other famous friends, not that she’ll drop any names. “I live in L.A.,” she said, “it’s just my friends happen to be celebrities.”
C.J. models a winter design, an item she will most likely give away to one her friends.
C.J. models a design she will most likely give away to one her friends or someone in need.
C.J. Arabia
Aside from hats, capes and scarves, C.J. also fashions items for shelter cats and dogs.
While Arabia is a Web engineer by day, she has turned knitting into a way to give back and help others. She has knitted with residents at a local nursing home, many of whom speak languages other than English. “What they all spoke was knitting,” she said. “I could help them with their stitches and it didn’t matter what they spoke.”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

OK -- I've had it!

So here I am, on spring break FINALLY trying to complete this g___ d ___ (think "gosh darn") book manuscript, and I sit down to listen to news for a few minutes, and WHAT DO I HEAR.  Apparently the Rutgers faculty decided to not invite (or disinvite -- not clear which) Condi Rice to lecture or speak or some such thing.......A couple of journalists known for their associations with the liberal media expressed disgust at the very idea that she would be barred.  So did the anchor.  So would I.  So what happens?  This smug little Republican surrogate (I can't even remember the usual term, so hopped up am I) through pinched, ruby-red lips and an AFRO, as if she isn't aware of that party's posture toward a good many people of color, announces that the real problem is the "fact" that universities are full of those nasty, intolerant "liberals" who want to silence everyone who disagrees with them.

I really HAVE HAD IT.  Let's set the record straight.   It  was Daniel Issa who silenced ranking Congressman Elijah Cummings not two days ago by shutting off his mike.  Why?  Because the attorney for the person being interviewed (who was taking the Fifth) had agreed to proffer, which means that the woman pleading the Fifth was about to say what she knew.   So.  Can't have Cummings doing THAT.   Remedy?  Shut him down.   In the south, in places like Texas and Mississippi, it's social conservatives, not liberals, who want to strip textbooks of all mention of the more deplorable episodes -- among them, Darwin's ideas, the civil rights movement, the fact of white lynching of black people, the women's movement, and so on and so forth.  They have pretty much succeeded, by the way.  It is sure as h___ not the conservatives who wrote the American BIll of Rights and have defended it in federal courts against hundreds of attempts to shut down speech.  Indeed, when liberals do that, it is conservatives who keep saying that liberals tolerate too  much speech, that we don't know when to draw lines -- whereas they do.   John Stuart Mill and John Locke were not conservatives.  Thomas Jefferson, who tried to beat back the CONSERVATIVE attempt to silence Republicans (who were liberal, by the way) in the late 1790s, was apparently one of those intolerant people. 

When I sat on the Detroit board of the ACLU long years ago, I actually got SO annoyed with the board's insistence upon hearing ALL voices and in the process being completely hamstrung that I ended up quitting.   One of liberals' problems, in fact, and it's really serious, is that we have a lot of trouble saying that X or Y or Z is "right" -- because it seems to exclude other points of view.

It's time to call a halt to this nonsense.  When I write a syllabus -- and, indeed, when my colleagues write a syllabus, no matter what their political views -- the idea is to represent as many points of view as possible.   Sometimes it makes for confusion.  Students actually like clarity -- a single 'fact,' not competing information.  I think that's why social conservatives, the ones who reduce things to a single, easy-to-memorize slogan ("Obama is a Nazi") are so successful -- and here, I pointedly exclude the many conservatives I know who welcome discussion.   It's the ones who would shut down the public forum that are intolerable.  In the law school, there used to be one professor (a political conservative, I quickly add) who decided to fix the whole problem by assigning a textbook that simply cut out all of the materials he thought were "wrong," such as Roe v. Wade.


When I finish this book, I will report in again.  In the meantime, disagree with someone!    svb