The Retrograde Train

Yesterday, I had the worst luck with public transportation. I waited for almost half an hour before realizing that the train that I wanted wasn't in service. Not fun on a windy winter day in Chicago! It seemed like an eternity before I finally caught a Brown line train, making me late for a very important date. So, I decided to take a luxurious cab ride from the El to my appointment, as it is about a ten minute walk. The cabbie turned the wrong direction. I felt as though I shouldn't have bothered leaving the house. This little escapade put me 15 minutes behind schedule.
Then, on the way to work, I made a disastrous gamble on switching to the Purple line going into the Loop. It would've been aces if there had been a Purple right behind my train, but there wasn't. So, more shivering and cursing until train arrives. Then the train came to a dead halt on the bridge, awaiting signals from ahead. Cut to me running down Lake Street, late for work.
Today, I shelled out an extra 50 cents (tangent: why is there no cent sign key on the modern keyboard?) to park in the near lot of my commuter station, which I appreciated later. The near lot, in addition to costing half again as much, has those scary severe tire damage strips. I'm such a girl scout that it wouldn't even occur to me to drive in through the exit, but it makes me nervous to drive across the strips on my way out.
When the train arrived at the station, ringing its bell, I saw to my surprise that it was one of the much discussed new trains. It was clean! There was a bathroom! I'd also guess that there were 20% fewer seats than on the old trains, and the jump seats (similar to those used on the Metro in Paris, but less charming as they aren't French) are not an improvement over the full width jump seats on the old trains. I can see how the increased flexibility would seem like a plus, but they aren't that comfortable and want to fold up on your purse. There was also a lot of ambient noise, which made it hard to listen to Brenda Dayne's podcast, Cast On, on my ipod. I suspect that there are too many reflective surfaces in the new cars, making normal conversation feel intrusive for other passengers. Especially sound girls trying to make some headway on tiny gauge sweaters.
Well, I hope that these transportation blues are over, because I've just bought a new St. Christopher medal. I lost my last one, or as I explained to the nun at the religious bookstore today, St. Christopher is traveling on without me. I was a little upset when I realized that I'd lost the medal, even though it gave me a rash. I took the rash as a sign that it was time to go home. No, I was irked because I spent almost $30 on that thing. Even though he's no longer officially a saint, St. Christopher's still popular. The replacement medal was about $10 more than one I bought two years ago. This one has a nicer chain and lovely color scheme, as you can see in the pic. I like the aqua lacquer a lot (or is it enamel? The center fill over the figures), which the lovely young nun helpfully pointed out in the vitrine. I guess I have some sort of nun prejudice, because I was surprised to see someone only a few years older than I wearing the veil. She laughed at my St. Christopher joke, too. When I bought the first one, I asked a different nun about St. Christopher's de-listing. She told me that now we just have to take him on faith. I recall thinking that the same could be said of everything in the store! Now, I feel like I am really going to travel.
My fiber addiction is on the wane. Today, I got a tempting email from the folks at Webs, touting their fabulous sale on discontinued colors of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Super Chunky (could that name have more adjectives in it?). Swoon! That yarn is usually $16, meaning that all of the projects I've drooled over in her Cashmere Collection book were in the unrealistic $200-$300 range. Yeah, yeah, it's cashmere. It's a cashmere blend. Perfect, I thought, I've been dying to make the moss stitch jacket, with its lovely big collar. Then I did a bit of math and realized that I am not $135 worth of excitement happy about any of the colors that are marked down. And why make a sweater in a blah color? I've already done it, and I rarely wear the garment. That money would be much better applied to my trip, I decided, and proceeded to snap up a Lesportsac Weekender bag on eBay. Yes, the Lesportsac usually associated with loud, slow moving tourists in Times Square, but they have some really chic things that don't attach to your waist. I scouted them out before making my purchase at the big Fields on State Street. They have so many bags there! I just adore Fields! I don't adore paying retail, so I took a pass on the $90 price tag on the Weekender. That would have been $100 with the fabulous city sales tax, so I felt really great about snapping one up online for more than $30 less, even having it shipped from Boston. Lately, I've been looking for a carry-on bag, rather than cramming everything but the kitchen sink in my purse. Every once in a while I have to remind myself that even though you can stuff a tremendous amount of junk into a bag, that doesn't mean you should. My grandmother gave me an old leather carry-on that has a retro, doctor's bag charm, but it needs some serious TLC. Also, I could never cram it into my big board bag. I don't want a million straps and things hanging off of me as I navigate the public transportation systems of several big cities. I want to pick up my checked bag at the airport, shove my carry-on in its massive outer pocket, and hit the ground running. Oh, and it comes with a matching makeup pouch. The seller tells me that I should get it at the end of this week. I'll post a photo when it arrives.
I'm thinking of joining Team Wales for the Knitting Olympics. I don't have any particular attachment to Wales, other than my enjoyment of Team Wales Captain Brenda Dayne's podcast. At first, I really didn't understand the whole knitting Olympics concept (like how would they do the events? Who would judge?), but now I think it would be the kick in the seat of the pants that I need to stay on task with my knitting. Basically, it's a group deadline. All of the participants agree to cast on their projects during the opening ceremonies in Torino and finish before the closing ceremonies, sixteen days later. Am I crazy to think that I can knit a sweater in sixteen days while holding down two jobs? Well, probably, but I think that the team spirit could really propel me to finish my project sooner that I would on my own. So, I'm thinking of entering with a new improved version of the Cotton Kimono sweater from Knit Wit. It took me ages to finish the last one because it attracted so much of my ire, but I know the pattern now (and that I take a smaller size. What a waste of time and yarn!). I'd love to have it to wear on my trip at the end of March, so the Knitting Olympics seem to be the answer.


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