Sunday, August 13, 2006

My Weekend: Nearly Too Much Excitement

My weekend started in the usual manner with Porkchop leaving for work and me exercising and cleaning. Other plans for the day included: yarn shopping, knitting, working on a paper, more knitting, maybe cooking something, and generally being a recluse. But during cleaning, I received a call from B, who was in Chicago for a sucky job interview and was wondering if I wanted to have dinner with her when she came through St. Louis! Yay! Also, B mentioned that this burlesque group would be performing that night in Belleville, IL (of all places), and that her friends, DD and BS, were coming over from Columbia to see the performance and maybe we could too.

Suddenly, lots of plans!

So, I upped my cleaning a little bit and got on the ball with yarn and food shopping. Working on my paper suddenly became not-so-important.

Yarn Euphoria
Friday night, I pulled a few knitting books off the bookshelf and suddenly had so many ideas of what I wanted to do. Previous ideas of handwarmers and other things left my mind. I am now committed to GIFT POUCHES and WASHCLOTHS.

Sure I want to move away from simple no-brainer projects, but right now, my heart is with gift pouches (see Last Minute Knitted Gifts) and washcloths (see Weekend Knitting and various websites). I think I'm looking forward to near-instant-gratification with my projects at the moment. Also, these items are quite functional and make good gifts.

Anyway, off I went to my local yarn shop. As mentioned previously, I've never been there before and didn't really know what to expect. The yarn displays aren't very impressive (mainly wire cube shelving), but they've got the goods! Lots of selection. Very nice. I'm happy.

Here's what I came away with:


As you can see, I'm already nearly done with one gift pouch. The cotton stuff on the left is for washcloths (I usually would never buy the chenille stuff because it kind of weirds me out, but it looks good knitted up in the flower washcloth found in Weekend Knitting). The alpaca/silk stuff on the right is for gift pouches.

I'm really into those lovely greens and blues right now. In case you couldn't tell.

I was also glad to find a large selection of Cascade yarns at the lys. For the holidays, I intend on making felted bags for my mom and sister, and I really like the Cascade 220 stuff for the bags, which will look something like this (only different colors because the pink and green is mine, darn it):

Stripey Felted Bag

After yarn shopping, I went food shopping. With my current knitting enthusiasm, I am now much less interested in food. It's like I can only handle a couple of modes of thought at once. Since I always have to be in Work Mode (because I wouldn't go to work otherwise, and then we'd be out on the street, or at least without electricity), and I'm also slightly still in School Mode (until I finish those darn papers), and can only handle Food Mode or Knitting Mode. I mean, Saturday morning was Tomato Festival at one of the local farmers markets, and I didn't bat an eye at going yarn shopping instead of tomato shopping. What the hell? And suddenly, I'm like "dinner? lunch? that's what sandwiches are for." Scary.

Saturday Night
After B arrived and whatnot, we went to the Shangri-La Diner for dinner. It's a fun little vegetarian place with lots of meatless things to choose from and vegan desserts (and non-vegan ones, too). Fun!

Once I had finished up my peach pie, B and I were off to Belleville to see the Benchpress Burlesque show.


B and I just wanted to see some fun queer feminist performance....but other things were in store for us!!!

After crossing over the river into Illinois on the 64/55/70 bridge (aka the Poplar Street Bridge aka PSB), I asked B 30 seconds too late what the next step was according to our Google directions.

We had just missed the Illinois 3 exit. Turning around and catching the exit on the other side wouldn't have been a problem, except for the BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION which has HALF of the westbound bridge shut down! [as noted in a previous post]

B and I don't know our way around in Illinois....we couldn't just pull out an alternate route from our asses. So we turned around and suffered through bridge traffic for at least 20 minutes. The IL-3 exit was still a half mile away (maybe another 20 minutes?), when I said to B: Hey, here's an exit for 15th Street/Tudor Ave, which are part of our Google directions. Why don't we just take this exit instead of sitting in traffic for who knows how much longer?

So that's what we did.

The exit ramp was THE LONGEST EXIT RAMP EVER. Which was appropriate, because we were beginning our DESCENT INTO HELL....I mean EAST ST. LOUIS.

{insert dramatic music here}

Usually, when people say that an area is bad news or should be avoided, I pooh-pooh them and am skeptical. I'm not one to believe the hype about supposedly bad things.

But, y'all, B and I were quite uncomfortable in East St. Louis, even scared. Not because of the people, but because of the environment. Here are things that B and I think would make East St. Louis a better place, in no particular order:

  • Street signs

  • Street lights

  • Roads that aren't shitty

  • Houses that aren't falling down

  • Public housing that doesn't look like something from a bad 1960s social experiment

In our case, street signs would have been the most helpful. Because we drove up and down 15th street for 20 minutes looking for some sort of informational sign that matched our directions/maps.

We did not feel comfortable going into the package liquor store or the corner bar for directions, nor did we want to just stop a random person on the street.

We were freaked out.

The chorus that we kept repeating in the car was: What the fu...???? They make people LIVE here???!!! Wha???

Y'all, East St. Louis is messed up.

We eventually saw some sort of police/security car down a driveway near who-knows-what kind of building. So we drove up to the guys, I rolled down the window and was like: WHERE IS THE NEAREST MAJOR HIGHWAY?!

The guys were like: Yeah, what's going on here. What are you doing? [With an implied tone of: stupid white girls from St. Louis coming to East St. Louis trying to buy drugs and getting lost. Dumbasses.]

Okay, here's the kicker, folks: we were ONE BLOCK AWAY from the highway entrance ramp!!! We only had to make a right turn! Let me note here that there were NO STREET SIGNS or HIGHWAY SIGNS or ANY sort of sign with any helpful information on it.


I had already been breaking into maniacal laughter during our little excursion, but that drove me over the edge. ONE BLOCK!

Needless to say, we did not make the show.

Twist of Fate?
Quite coincidentally, DD and BS did not make the show either. First, being from Columbia, they didn't know that the city shuts down the Eads Bridge nearly every freaking weekend in the summer for Live on the Levee. They also didn't know that the eastbound 64/55/70 exit to the PSB is shut down.

That's right folks, of the 3 bridges downtown, only 1 is sort of totally accessible. Sort of.

So, DD and BS got disgusted and went to Novak's, but not before encountering other road construction/detours.

Because it's a good idea to shut down everything all at once.

Meanwhile, B and I needed a stiff drink, so we parked the car by my apartment and walked down to Absolutli Goosed. What a contrast! Street signs! Street lights! Buildings not falling down! After our first drink, DD and BS met up with us there, and we had another round. Yummy drinks.

This morning, Porkchop, B, and I went to Mangia for brunch. It was alright, but I felt a bit let down after reading glowing reviews. I mean, their oven roasted potatoes were just that. No spices or anything interesting. Maybe I should have ordered an omelet or frittata or something like that because the eggs benedict were just okay.

After B left, I found her cell phone charger, so we met halfway at the Whole Foods in Brentwood for the hand-off. Then, I went somewhere and bought something for someone (details cannot be revealed yet).

And then, it was back to knitting. And working on my paper....2 more pages down! Awesome! This isn't taking long at all!

And Now
Trying not to think about the work week. Stupid work.

I have so many more important things to be doing. Like knitting washcloths.

Monday Afternoon Update
B has added some factoids about East St. Louis in her comments to this post. This is a website with more information. And here is a disturbing account of the East St. Louis massacre of 1917.

I'll add more links when I find them.


Porkchop said...

Geeez... I hope none of your regular readers are small children. I know East St. Louis is scary, but what's with the potty mouth?

Also, what is the secret? Did you get me some candy?

Carrie said...

I usually avoid swearing on my blog because I think it cheapens things, but I'm trying to accurately represent what I felt while driving around East St. Louis.

It wasn't just fright that I felt, it was freaked-out-ness. Like, oh my god, we are NEVER going to find the highway ramp! We are STUCK here FOREVER!

Besides, my blog isn't advertised as appropriate for small children. And parents need to keep tabs on what their kids are doing on the internet anyway.

Candy?? Why would I buy you CANDY? :)

Anonymous said...

It was like being in the middle of nowhere, yet it wasn't a country road or ghost town, it was a city. After this experience, I got curious to find out what happened to East St. Louis to make it so completely unliveable.

1. Massacre of 1917: white mobs kill, beat, and lynch black townspeople
2. Factories closed in the 1950s, decline of route 66 for transportation with rise of interstate.
3. Environmental injustice/racism: Chemical companies in East St. Louis incorporated their own towns (Cahokia, Sauget) eliminating a major tax base for the city. There are numerous hazardous waste sites and superfund sites because of these chemical companies in and around East St. Louis. Smoke from the Monsanto and Pfizer plants pollute the area.
4. For over 5 years the city didn't have the money to even haul away resident's trash.
5. Over 1/3 of the residents are living below the poverty level

that weird dome building we kept passing on 15th street? that was some kind of Buckminster Fuller project.