Some Amount of Time in the Life: July 29, 2020

One of the shitty things about pandemic life is that every malady seems to augur impending doom. Kirk has had a bit of a cough, which we are both highly suspicious of. Yesterday, I woke up so dizzy that I couldn’t get out of bed at all. The worst of it passed after sleeping more but, despite having vertigo, it was the most profound dizziness I’ve experienced. Of course, my first act was to search “coronavirus vertigo” online because I guess I hate myself. I don’t have a fever or any other symptoms but … is it coronavirus? Who the fuck knows. Fortunately, I’m feeling better today but we’re being very cautious and not going out at all right now, lest we accidentally spread plague.

Consuming

These are some things I read, watched, or bought recently.

Reading

I’ve noticed I’m reading quite a lot of science fiction set in the future where humans are a space-faring people. It’s not all I’m reading, but there is definitely a trend here. I would rather think about a time when the human race isn’t trying to murder itself through stupidity and when we’ve become a better species. We sure as hell aren’t there today.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers is the second book the series that starts with A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. At first I was disappointed because I wanted to follow the characters from the first book, but this book follows two characters who you meet briefly in the first book. However, my disappointment soon vanished because this is a great book in its own right. It deals with what it means to be human in a really thoughtful way through the lens of artificially intelligent beings and genetically engineered people. I loved it so much that I read it in a day.

Goldilocks by Laura Lam deals with a nearish-future in which humans have made the planet pretty much uninhabitable, patriarchy is taking hold, and everyone but the rich are god damn miserable. The book focuses on the all-woman crew that steals a spaceship and heads for an extra-solar planet where they can start a new civilization. The story tracks the space journey alternating with chapters about the protagonist’s backstory. I don’t really know how to describe the story without giving too much away, so I will simply say that I thought it was a good read.

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss is the third and last installment in The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club trilogy. This book wraps up this fun, metafictional series with an adventure for kitchen girl/mesmerist Alice, who isn’t quite sure how she feels about all this adventure stuff yet. Hooray for escapism.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

Watching

Kirk and I watched the first (and currently only) season of Upload on Amazon Prime. I didn’t like the first episode much but the show gathered speed pretty quickly after that and I found it pretty funny. This is a crazy version of America where people upload their consciousness to the internet when they die. But because America is a capitalist hellscape, the rich get super lush digital environments with unlimited data and the poor are limited to pay-as-you-go versions. I guess I’m saying it’s a humorous exploration into wealth inequality. Neat!

I also watched Netflix’s new movie Eurovision: Fire Saga. I’m only passingly familiar with Eurovision’s cheesy earnestness, but I really loved this movie. Is that just because the main characters are from Iceland? Maybe. It was light-hearted and campy, the songs have been stuck in my head all week, and I even understood some of the little Icelandic they spoke in the film. What more could I want?

Rampant Consumerism

a delivery of beans from Rancho Gordo
bean bounty

After being irritated about not finding the beans I want at the grocery store, I decided to go all in and order a bunch of beans from Rancho Gordo, which sells beans that are honestly really good. So now I am well stocked on beans and ready for the next round of the apocalypse.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

I am excited that the library is open again! My Friday library rides are something I really look forward to. Sacramento is doing a contactless book pickup services, where you schedule a window to pick up your materials and they leave them in a bag in front of the library. I like the secret agent vibe of picking up my library book in a manila envelope and I’ve enjoyed being on my bike again.

Languages

I can feel my summer doldrums ™ coming on and I’m planning accordingly this year. I am going to take a bit of a break from Spanish for August because it’s hot and I won’t want to do anything anyway. I’m hoping to take a little rest and be reinvigorated to prepare for the DELE exam, which I can hopefully take in November (‘Rona willing).

Knitting and Crafts

I finished some projects, which is always a pleasure! The socks I’d been working on are now done and being set aside for Christmas gifts (spoilers!). I like how the cable pattern and color look together. The pattern is Helix on ravelry.

My good friend Mandy requested a blanket upgrade. I made a baby blanket for her last year and I was informed we would need one in a larger size. Who am I to deny my honorary niece a new blanket? I asked Kirk to model it for me and I got this gem of a photo.

Moving It

I’m still enjoying my dance class and today my ballet teacher told me that I have nice calves. I felt quite pleased about it. Between dance and jumping rope as my main exercise, I tweaked my calf muscle a couple of weeks ago, which was unpleasant. A stern reminder that I need to be better about regular stretching (a long-term dream of mine). I have yet to resume jumping rope, but I’ve been able to dance okay after a round of treatments with the heating pad.

Kitchen Witchery

I’ve kept my kitchen experimentation a little more limited lately because I can only eat so much and I don’t want to be hot. I made stuffed shells for dinner recently to celebrate finally finding pasta shells at the grocery store. I also tried my hand at succotash, which consists of beans, corn, an bacon. Kirk was sure he was going to hate it because it contains lima beans, but he actually liked it and said I should make it again. Another victory for me.

In pursuit of developing some baker’s patience and making beautiful as well as tasty food, I made flower poğaça rolls, which are soft rolls artfully wrapped around a little pile of feta and herbs. They were delicious and quite attractive if I do say so.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

Some Amount of Time in the Life: July 10, 2020

It’s been a little difficult to convince myself to write lately because it doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything noteworthy. Days are running together. My only outing in the last week was a trip to the grocery store. I’ve been reading a lot, trying to stay cool indoors, and baking when it’s not too hot to turn on the oven.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought recently.

Reading

I’ve spent a lot of time reading in part because I love to read and part because I put a ton of library books on hold and, predictably, they all rolled in at once.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky is a fascinating sci-fi novel. It’s a post-apocalyptic space opera with humans orphaned on a generation ship and a planet of sentient spiders. The spider civilization really put me in mind of A Fire Upon the Deep (spoilers?) even though they were totally different spider societies. I liked Children of Time because it showed a civilization built on totally different principles, arachnocentric rather than androcentric. It was very interesting and well done. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Yes, I already have it in my hold list.

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett was a different kind of story altogether. Set in the recent past, Bennett tells the story of twins who grow up in a southern town full of nearly white Black people. Their story diverges when one of the twins discovers she can pass as white and disappears into the world of whiteness. This is an emotional novel exploring the fact that race is a complete fiction. What separates white and Black people other than made-up rules?

They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers chronicles white women’s slave ownership in the South before the Civil War. This book was a lot to take in and it really made me think. The narrative we hear about antebellum southern women is that they were delicate and not involved in anything so terrible as slavery, but Jones-Rogers demonstrates that this is totally false. Women exist in the historical record buying and selling slaves, going to court over issues of slave ownership, and even “disciplining” their own slaves. One of the parts that really stuck out to me was the discussion of the end of slavery. Enslaved people were liberated but that’s it. The government didn’t have any job programs, no grants to help the formerly enslaved establish their lives, no program to help families reunite. They had literally nothing. Although that wasn’t what this book was about, it made me think a lot about the case for reparations. Black people were forced to come here, live and work as slaves, and when they were finally free, it was like, well, fuck you, bye. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Black people deserve some compensation after all they’ve survived.

Watching

The absolute best thing we’ve watched recently is What We Do in the Shadows. This show gets funnier with every episode. Everything Lazlo says slays me because his voice is so dramatic. The energy vampire, Colin Robinson, gives us a framework to understanding the bullshit people we have to interact with. Everything about it is hilarious. If you haven’t watched this yet, you simply must.

My RuPaul’s Drag Race re-watch (ru-watch?) rages on. I’m nearly done with season 9. Sasha Velour remains one of my all-time favorite queens. I love how smart she is and how that translates into her art. I can only hope to be as cool and sophisticated one day.

Rampant Consumerism

a large styrafoam cooler with foods from Omaha Steaks
meat christmas

For my birthday, I got a gift card for Omaha Steaks and I finally used it a few weeks ago. I am a savvy shopper so I ended up with a lot of foods. They deliver it in a big, styrofoam cooler. All the meats are vacuum sealed, but also packaged in cardboard boxes. Kirk and I had to tear it all apart to fit it into the freezer (he said it was like Meat Christmas). So far we’ve tried the hamburgers, beef tips, and chicken, plus some potatoes au gratin. Everything is pretty good. The meat is obviously good quality stuff even if it’s not blowing my mind. I’m not sure I would spend the money on this for myself, but it is always nice to get food gifts.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

I’ve been trying to keep my things and stuff to a minimum in an effort to stay cool. I know I’m posting about several topics here, but consider that I haven’t blogged in three weeks. I’ve spent most of my time lying around in front of the fan.

Spanish and Icelandic

I keep notes on what studying I do throughout the month. It doesn’t look like a whole lot, but I did read almost a whole book in Spanish, which I’m satisfied about. I’ve been very gradually trying to get back into Icelandic. My teacher is still on maternity leave, but I would like to be somewhat prepared when we start back up. I have been hacking away at my flashcard backlog. I did listen to a bit of the first Harry Potter book in Icelandic, but the library decided that wasn’t available anymore. So much for all that. I’m planning to watch a few things online like a cooking show I’d been watching of maybe some kids TV.

Moving It

Something I have learned during this pandemic is that I don’t want to do things if it’s only an approximation of the way I would normally do it. I have not enjoyed, nor had success with, trying to do normal exercise routines because it annoys me to have to adjust to not having the right equipment or space. However, I’ve been enjoying doing completely different stuff. I bought a jump rope a few weeks ago and I’ve been doing that a few minutes at a time as cardio. It’s finally getting a little easier (though it’s still hard). Dance classes are going well too. I’ve been attending ballet every week and a jazz dance class sporadically. Ballet is interesting because the hip positioning and upper/lower body separation is similar to what we do in roller derby. I haven’t skated since spraining my ankle in February, but maybe my dance skills will help me once we’re back on the track.

Kitchen Witchery

I’ve been trying to keep things fairly simple lately and plan for leftovers so we don’t have to cook all the time. For Cook Meat Outside Day (aka the 4th of July), I made hamburgers and cooked some baked beans in the crockpot. I’ve also been grilling chicken and vegetables because I have the technology. Most people think the slow cooker is for winter foods, but I like to use it in the summer because it doesn’t get too hot. I made a batch of black beans a few weeks ago and have used it for a few meals of burritos.

The only 4th of July tradition I really observe is making ice cream. Not that I don’t make ice cream at other times, but I always make it for the 4th. This year I tried out a pistachio toffee ice cream. I picked up a recipe card at Nugget at least a year ago and it’s been on my fridge since, so it was exciting to finally make it! The toffee was delicious on its own and the ice cream was even tastier with it. Definitely one of my better recipes.

Because I had a bunch of egg whites leftover from the ice cream, I made coconut macaroons (not pictured) and some macarons (yes, these words are confusing. English is a stupid language). I’d never made macarons before but it went okay. I think one of the baking sheets needed longer to cook—the macarons came out kind of sticky and didn’t hold their shape when I took them off the sheet. So I made a big macaron blob with the rest of the icing. I’m not sad about it.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

Two Weeks in the Life: June 21, 2020

I have this feeling lately like I’m the one being crazy for worrying about coronavirus. Despite the State of California now requiring people to wear a mask in public (link is a PDF), new research suggesting that people with type A blood are at greater risk for problems related to coronavirus, and the nearly 120,000 deaths (that we know of) from the virus, a lot of people are acting like things are totally fine. Kirk and I went to pick up some ice cream last night and saw plenty of people out and about, maskless, eating at restaurants and generally going on with normal life. I know I write often about feeling a dissonance between my life and what’s happening in the wider world and here we are again. It almost makes me feel like I’m wrong, like I’m making it a big deal when it isn’t, but I know that’s not true. If anything, I have become more wary of coronavirus now that I’ve learned more about it. So many people seem ready to believe that it’s over, but I question whether we will ever return to “normal.”

Zoolander screenshot "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!"
I, too, feel like I’m taking crazy pills

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought recently.

Reading

I’ve been reading a lot, especially because I put a ton of holds on library ebooks and now they’re all coming in around the same time.

On the recommendation of my friend Abby, I read The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, which is a take on the story of Dr. Jekyll and Hyde except he’s dead and now we’re following his daughter’s adventures. The book focuses on the daughters of men in science fiction classics and how their fathers’ actions have affected their lives. That explanation makes it sound heavy, but it’s there is adventure and sisterhood and a good bit of fun. I’m already halfway through the next book in the series.

In non-fiction, I read Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. This sounds like a self-help book, and in a way it is, but I have never before read a self-help book that acknowledges that patriarchy is part of our problems and we can’t just go on a juice cleanse to get rid of it. The book was insightful and practical, and also made me very emotional at times. It starts with the idea that, when we feel stress, we need to do something physical to signal to our bodies that the stress has come to an end so we can “complete the stress cycle.” But most of our daily stress involves abstract bullshit instead of fighting predators, so instead you get stuck with a bunch of stupid emotions. This book explains how you can deal with that stress, and lots of other great stuff too. I highly recommend that every woman read this book. You will laugh, cry, and learn things.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

Watching

I’ve been watching a lot of TV and knitting lately. After the latest season of Drag Race ended, I decided I would watch all the seasons in reverse order. I’m currently about halfway through season 10. Thank god for this show.

We watched a couple of movies recently too. In my ongoing effort to watch all the Star Trek, we watched Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which was ridiculous and entertaining. In this film, Kirk et. al. have to go back in time to pick up a now-extinct whale to get some alien force to stop turning Earth into pure ocean. We also watched the movie Passengers, which was entertaining if very cliched. A bunch of people are in some kind of hibernation while their space ship makes a 120-year journey to a new planet. In a freak accident, Chris Pratt wakes up 90 years too early, then makes the morally shitty decision to wake up a hot female passenger. I would not have enjoyed this in a movie theater, but I did enjoy it at home, where I could shout at the movie in peace.

Rampant Consumerism

Did you catch the campaign to get people buying books by black authors? It officially ended yesterday, but I’m sure no one would be upset if you bought some afterwards. I ordered a handful of ebooks because I need to slow my paper-book roll or I’m going to run out of shelf space.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

finished sock on my foot. The sock is made of a varigated blue yarn and has a cable pattern
Sock one of two

I finished a sock! Of course, now I have to do it all over again, but at least the second sock always goes a little quicker because now I know what I’m doing. I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I like the pattern, and I like the yellow accent with this variegated blue yarn.

Backyard Garden

I figured I’d share a garden update since we now have some visible green beans! They are small, but they do exist, so we’re doing better than last year in that regard. I also wanted to show what it looks like when a leek starts to flower. I never picked them because I thought they would get bigger (I was wrong). They formed little bulbs at the top of the leaves and those explode into something that looks like a thistle or a dandelion. Either way, the process looks like a weird alien creature and it kind of freaks me out, so you must all share my discomfort.

Moving It

I mentioned in my last post that I was thinking about dance and I did follow up on that idea! This week I did my first lesson with Galaxy Dance Arts, which is here in Elk Grove. They have an adult beginner ballet class that I signed up for and I took my first class (online) on Wednesday. It was fun but a little tricky to keep up with all the feet positions because it’s a little hard to see on the computer screen. The instructor said I looked pretty good and it didn’t look like I’d never done it before. I guess all that roller derby prepared me for ballet. Who knew?

Icelandic

audio book of Harry Potter og viskusteinninn shown on a tablet with Viola the cat sitting nearby
going for it

I am still plugging away at my Spanish but I have finally gotten to a point where I feel I can focus enough to add Icelandic back into my rotation. To get back in the game, I’ve been doing my flashcards and I downloaded the audio book of Harry Potter og Viskusteinninn (Harry Potter and the Philosoper’s Stone) from the library just to get used to the sound of it again. I’m really only getting like one word in eight, but it’s helping me remember some of the structures of the language so that’s a good thing. I’m not really listening to it with the expectation that I’ll understand it.

Kitchen Witchery

It’s been hot and I’ve been lethargic so I’ve keep my kitchen adventures to a minimum lately. I did make a pretty tasty chocolate chip muffin recently, which was nice. I tried making another batch of crackers, but the dough was too sticky to roll out, so I cut it into chunks an baked it. The result was something a bit like a breadstick—the texture reminded me a lot of crazy bread. Perhaps an avenue for future experiements. Yesterday I made a simple loaf of bread. I’ve done this recipe before, but I usually let it be a free-form ball instead of a loaf. I have to say that I kind of like the loaf.

In other bread news, I decided to break up with my sourdough starter. It’s too hot to think about making bread all the time, and Kirk can’t have sourdough without getting severe heart burn. Plus, I gave in and bought a one-pound bag of yeast from Amazon. I may return to sourdough baking one day, but right now it feels like too much to think about.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Huey has been all up in my desk lately. Viola has decided that she owns my chair. They’ve effectively exiled me from my spot.

A Week in the Life: June 7, 2020

Whew, it’s been a week. I am proud of everyone for being out there protesting and demanding a better world. I’ve been really torn about wanting to protest because it’s important to be out there but also important not to get coronavirus and die. Kirk was worried that having sleep apnea puts me at higher risk of serious symptoms of coronavirus. I did a little searching and it seems like there is a higher mortality rate. I’m doing my best to support people who are out there and educate people from inside my house.

What’s interesting about the world right now is, even though things are stressful (hello, ongoing headache) and scary, it really feels like we’re in a moment where we can force positive social change. Two weeks ago, defunding the police seemed like a total fringe idea, but now that seems like it might really be happening or at least ideas from it are happening. I’ve been thinking a lot about areas where I can actually have an impact. More to come.

black and white drawing of a hawk and text "sorry that being a decent fucking human being is so inconvenient for you." attirbution: @effinbirds
thanks @effinbirds for summing this up

Consuming

These are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book cover for The Night Watchman on Kobo ereader
The Night Watchman

This week I finished The Night Watchman by Louise Erdich. I saw a lot of bookish parts of the internet talking about it, so I got it from the library (I’m so thankful for ebooks right now). The story is set in 1950s North Datoka and focuses on a group of Native Americans who are trying to live their lives and keep the government from disbanding their tribe. Although this is a work of fiction, it’s based in real events and one of the main characters is inspired by the author’s grandfather. I love books like this because we get all the lyricism and empathy that comes from fiction but still learn something important and have a window into Native struggles.

Watching

It seems like all I’ve been watching lately are drag shows, but it’s what’s getting me through, so there you have it. The new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars started and I’m living. The “lip sync assassin” twist is such a fun take and is a really cool way to showcase some talented drag queens. I loved this week’s lip sync so much and I can’t wait for next week’s episode.

Rampant Consumerism

I bought this great pillow and it’s already found a permanent home in the corner of my couch. I love it because I can prop my elbows up while reading or knitting. Otherwise I haven’t bought much, but I have been looking through the lists of black-owned businesses that people have been sharing around. I’m linking a few here because wealth isn’t going to redistribute itself.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

cabled sock progress: the heel is turned and the gusset is finished
sock progress

I’ve been knitting while re-watching Drag Race and the result is I’m getting a lot of knitting done. I’m more than halfway through the first sock in this pair and I’m on to knitting the foot now. I’m more familiar with the cable pattern now so it doesn’t seem quite so difficult and annoying, which is nice, since I still have a lot more to knit.

Moving It

I’m very pleased that my ankle is finally almost better. It’s still slightly swollen, but I can now sit into a deep squat and move all around without pain. I’m starting to reintroduce activities that require a little more ankle fortitude and I even did some alternating jump lunges this week—truly thrilling!

I have been considering learning a bit of dance. I am pretty sure this idea is stemming from a combination of quarantine madness and watching too much Drag Race, but I was looking up local dance classes. I’m hoping to learn a different kind of body awareness that might help with my roller derby, once we return to play. Unfortunately, there are not tons of options for adults learning to dance. Apparently hobbies are for children. However, I did find a local studio with a class I want to try. We’ll see if I actually like it!

Derby Life

The big news in the derbyverse this week is that skate manufacturer Mota has essentially said they side with the police over people protesting in support of Black lives. This is shitty on many levels, but I’m mostly posting about this because I have Mota skates and now I am not at all willing to skate with their branding on my feet. After polling the good people of #derbytwitter for advice, today I ordered some supplies for painting over my skates. I’m looking forward to making something cool and political. It won’t erase the damage they’ve done, but it’s something.

Spanish

May Spanish learning activities
Spanish in May

In May, I did a lot of reading! This was partly motivated by the discovery that I can read ebooks in Spanish and use the Spanish-English dictionary. The future is, in many ways, delightful. The downside of this is I borrowed a book from the library, did not finish it in time, and now I have to get back in the hold queue. I also met with my Spanish teacher a lot last month and did a lot of test prep. I’m trying to decide what to focus on for now since the DELE is out of reach for a few more months.

Kitchen Witchery

I didn’t get too wild in the kitchen this week with the exception of sourdough cinnamon rolls. Yes, they were delicious. I also made a batch of brownies because stress baking. In more reasonable eating, I tried out this red lentil soup recipe, which is as easy and tasty as they say it is.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Pillows are popular in our house right now.

Some Amount of Time in the Life: May 30, 2020

The world’s on fire, sheltering in place continues, and I’m fine I guess. I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, but I struggle with the dissonance between being personally okay and seeing what’s happening in the world. It feels like survivor’s guilt, although that’s not strictly accurate either. I don’t feel guilty. I feel lucky. Lucky to be employed and in my cozy house with plenty of books to read and food to cook. There’s a sense of “why should I feel upset or stressed,” but I’ve seen a few takes that essentially say we’re all witnessing and experiencing some level of trauma right now. Having society completely change and all your expectations get smashed is traumatic. I’m planning to read up on this idea some more and then perhaps I will have something more enlightening to say. For now, I’ll just say that if you feel weird or stressed or guilty or freaked out even if you’re “fine,” I hear you. I get it.

Consuming

Here are some things I’ve been reading, watching, and buying.

Reading

book cover of "Ancestral Night" by Elizabeth Bear as seen on Kobo ereader
Ancestral Night

I’ve been reading a lot and rotating through several books every day because it makes me feel like I’m doing different things, even though I haven’t left the couch or hammock. I’ve also been putting lots of library ebooks on hold because I want something to look forward to but everything is cancelled. Luckily, I’m easily entertained.

One of the fun novels I read this week is Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear. This is an interesting sci-fi story about a small crew of space scavengers who get caught up in some bad shit (as one does) and have to deal with their sense of self and ethics and ancient tech. There’s AI, lesbians in space, and space pirates.

In internet reading:

  • I don’t feel like buying stuff anymore via Buzzfeed. The U.S. economy is built on everyone buying stuff—pure, unadulterated consumerism. But the pandemic is making us a lot of us rethink the consumer life. The article talks about how we got here and where we might go. Essential reading.
  • Anti-racism resources. This is a resource list for white people looking to learn about racism and how to be anti-racist. Educate yourself.
  • Nearly half of the Twitter accounts discussing ‘reopening America’ may be bots via Carnegie Mellon University. This almost feels like old news given that everything in my feed right now is about protesting, but I still think it’s important to share. Most of the “support” for going back to “normal” life, despite coronavirus, is not organic from the people here. So, who benefits from Americans going out and catching coronavirus?
  • Fuck the bread. The bread is over. via The Paris Review. I don’t know how to describe this essay, so I will say simply that it spoke to me.

Watching

I watched HBO’s show We’re Here, which follows drag queens Shangela, Eureka O’hara, and Bob as they visit small towns across the country and perform a drag show alongside locals who they transform into drag queens. This show is everything I didn’t know I needed. It’s wonderful and exciting to see drag used as an art and a way of building community, instead of the way we usually see it on TV, as a reality competition. We’re Here honestly made me cry with its sincerity and compassion. I can’t recommend it enough.

Rampant Consumerism

Like many people, I haven’t felt moved to spend a lot of money lately. However, I have bought a few things to help keep me occupied at home. Months ago, I bought some thread and needles with intentions of learning embroidery, although so far all I’ve stitched is some patches onto my statement vest. I realized this would be easier if I had the right tools, so I ordered a little needle box and some cards to wind my thread on.

About a month ago I ordered a curated book bundle from The Last Bookstore as a birthday gift to myself and the books finally arrived this week! I paid $100 and got a huge stack of used and new books. It’s exciting to get surprise books picked out for me!

Making things and Doing Stuff

As usual, most of my things and stuff have been at home.

Knitting and Crafts

I think I’ve said it in a previous post, but I’ve finally settled into my quarantine groove and have been able to get back to doing things like knitting. I finished the Noordzee shawl! Finishing a knitting project is always exciting because they take so long. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it as I was knitting, but now that it’s done, I think it looks pretty cool. I love the cable texture (it’s the reason I decided to knit this pattern). I’ve gotten started on my next knit already. I cast on this sock a few months ago then decided it was too tiny and difficult for the moment. However, a tiny, difficult knitting project is exactly what this moment needs. Plus, a it’s not big enough to pile in my lap and make me hot. It’s a win-win.

Gardening

We decided it was time to pull up the winter plants and get on with the summer growing, so we made one last spinach and broccoli harvest—both were covered in aphids and I made Kirk wash them off. We also let Huey take a tour of the garden because she was staring at us from the doorway. Our new crops are a jalapeño, beans, zucchini, herbs, and tomatoes. We left the leeks to keep growing (although I think they’re about as big as they’re going to be) and our garlic is still in there too.

Kitchen Witchery

I’ve been keeping the food situation fairly simple lately and last week I was focused on making things that wouldn’t heat up the house any more than strictly necessary. I made some pork tenderloin in the slow cooker and a tortellini primavera based on the pasta primavera recipe in How to Cook Everything. I also gave non-alcoholic piña coladas another try with a better recipe, and they were really good! Although most things are good with whipped cream and a cherry on top. I might look for some more fun, alcohol-free drink recipes to try (Kirk doesn’t drink and I don’t particularly enjoy drinking so here we are).

When I was growing up, my step-mom (now ex-step-mom) made a recipe called chicken roll-ups, which I absolutely loved but that she was rarely willing to make. We got to request anything we wanted for dinner on our birthdays and that was always my choice, but she would grumble about having to make it because it was “hard.” Reader, it is not fucking hard. It’s shredded chicken, mixed with cream cheese, rolled into a crescent roll and baked, then topped with a “gravy” of cream of chicken soup. I elevated it a little bit by making my own rolls, using a little less cream cheese, and adding some actual seasoning (lol, white American cooking). It’s always a pleasure to reclaim something like this.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Apparently this is a Huey appreciation post.

A Week in the Life: May 16, 2020

I’m starting this post with some existential dread so skip ahead if you don’t need it.

The first time I read The Handmaid’s Tale, I remember thinking that I would not make the protagonist’s mistake. I would leave before things got that bad. It’s comforting to tell yourself that when faced with dystopian fiction—even though it’s not real, you know you wouldn’t make the same mistakes. I saw the news about the Michigan legislature cancelling its session due to right-wing terrorists and I thought, if I were going to leave the U.S. in an attempt to escape what’s about to be full-blown authoritarianism, it’s already too late. While this may not strictly be true, the idea has been haunting me. I also wonder where I would go. Where in the world is insulated from the problems created by wealth inequality, by corrupt elites? I guess I’ll stay where I am and keep on raging.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book cover of Network Effect by Martha Wells, shown on kobo ereader
Network Effect

Network Effect, the last book in Martha Well’s Murderbot Diaries came out last week. I have really enjoyed this series about a sentient human/robot hybrid that jailbroke itself and is trying to decide what to do with its life and deal with its emotions. It’s fun, relatable (for me anyway), and a great distraction from the world. Also this statement from the book is probably the truest thing I have ever read:

photo of ebook text "There is a lot about what is going on here that I dont understand. But I am participating anyway."
Life in a nutshell

On to some more depressing topics, here are some things I read on the internet this week:

  • How (and why) coronavirus is changing our sense of time via the University of California. I know I shared an article last week about coronavirus and our warped sense of time, but I thought this was a good follow up. Basically, our sense of time is fucked because we’re living through trauma. “People lose track of time when the future is in question … The continuity from the past to the future is gone. That’s what they are experiencing right now.” Neat.
  • House changes its rules during pandemic, allowing remote voting for the first time in its 231-year history via The Washington Post. This is one of those things that I hope we keep once the pandemic is over. It makes sense for congress to be able to vote remotely. We have the technology. Why make 400+ people fly in from all over the country? I always wonder about the travel costs of being in congress. How many trips are you making back and forth? Just vote online, come in for the really important stuff, and you know, save the environment a little along the way.
  • Why capitalism can’t cure global pandemics via The Socialist Project. From the article, “It is the well-off countries who believed that infectious diseases did not concern them anymore. They were ‘forgotten’ by the rich, as they believed they could keep such diseases outside their borders. The third plague was almost entirely restricted to the colonized world, leaving the colonialists in the comfortable belief that they had now conquered the infectious diseases that only affected dirty, flea-ridden, rat-infested parts of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic proves that diseases can strike back, and we are always only one mutation away from a new infectious disease emerging.”
  • How Facebook could use Giphy to collect your data via One Zero. File under: modern life is garbage. Facebook bought giphy and now it has even more ways to surveil you.

Watching

I’ve been watching Motherland: Fort Salem on Hulu. I was really excited for the show because witch army! matriarchy! It’s a good show but it’s not living up to my patriarchy-smashing dreams. Witches are real and they do have a witch army but it seems like they’re just one branch of the military. The show centers on three new recruits who have to learn to get along despite their wildly different motivations for being in the army as well as how the army is dealing with a terrorist group that is using witchcraft as its weapon.

Although this is a cool concept, it’s also the most basic possible take on “witches are real.” Witches are real but in this alternate version of our world, all they do is reinforce the military-industrial complex? Witches are real but we’re still fighting in the middle east? Seriously? The most interesting parts of this show are hidden from us. For example, one character, Tally, comes from a “matrifocal” community where no men are allowed. There’s a terrorist organization targeting the witch army but there must be some activists in between who are witches and oppose the militarization of witchcraft but are not terrorists? I want to know about those parts of the world. Anyway I guess I just have to write my own witch story now to get what I want.

Rampant Consumerism

an assortment of baby plants, including several herbs and a zucchini
get hype for new plants

We bought some new plants! Our broccoli and spinach are at the end of their life and it’s time to plant some summer stuff. We got zucchini, jalapeño, beans, and an assortment of herbs, including basil because I keep wanting to make pesto but the basil I get from the store is always gross by the time I’m ready to use it. This is definitely a low-key entry for “rampant consumerism, but I’ve been trying to save more money since the news came out that State of California employees (which includes Kirk) will be getting a 10 percent pay cut thanks to coronavirus. We’ll be fine but it probably means we’re not going to buy kayaks anytime soon.

Making things and Doing Stuff

Monday was my 34th birthday! I didn’t get too wild since it’s plague season, although I probably wouldn’t have done much different anyway. I took the day off work, which gave me a nice three-day weekend, and made coffee cake for breakfast. I went for a bike ride and saw they had the goats and sheep out to graze, which was a highlight for me. Otherwise I just hung around and did some reading and played Nintendo. And Kirk made me dinner. Perhaps next year I’ll be able to plan a more exciting birthday, but I have no complaints about how I spent this one.

Spanish

book cover of Los hombres me explican cosas shown on Kobo ereader
Los hombres me explican coasas

I’ve had this ebook of Los hombres me explican cosas (Men Explain Things to Be) by Rebecca Solnit for a while but finally felt strong enough to read it this week. I realized that my kobo reader has both a Spanish dictionary and a Spanish/English dictionary, which is a total game changer for me. I look up random words all the time when I read in English and now I can do it in the moment for Spanish without leaving my reading. I’ve got a bunch of library ebooks queued up for myself to read after this. I’m excited that reading in Spanish is starting to just become part of my regular reading rotation. This has been the end goal all along!

Kitchen Witchery

I’m only sharing one act of this week’s kitchen witchery because I think it’s boring to post pictures of the same stuff all the time. I made a sourdough rye loaf again this week, but you’ve seen that already. In any case, I finally had a go at the sourdough crackers that everyone with a starter is making. They turned out really nice because I used our pasta roller to get the dough to the right thickness. Normally I struggle with having enough patience for that part of baking. I think next time I’m going to go one setting lower on the pasta roller to get them nice and thin and crispy the way a wheat thin is, for example. Kirk bought me a gift assortment of cheeses (among other things) for my birthday, so I’ve been snacking on that with the crackers.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. They seem to approve of the new blanket.

A Week in the Life: May 10, 2020

Something I’ve been struggling with this week is feeling like I’m not doing anything with my life. If you read my blog, you know that’s not true and you may also know that this is an ongoing struggle. Despite reading a lot about how “productivity” is a useless concept, I’m still having a hard time with applying this knowledge to me personally. I am trying to remind myself that I do not have to justify my existence through productivity, but it’s hard. This anxiety is doubly useless since I am doing plenty of things. anxiety is always telling me that I’m not doing enough. That might actually be part of why I keep this blog. I can look back and reflect on all the things I did. Shut up, anxiety!

Anxiety aside, I have to share Sacramento Roller Derby’s Big Day of Giving results. Last week I asked that anyone who wanted to make me an early birthday gift send a donation to my team. Thank you for anyone who did! We obliterated our original goal of raising $10,000 and raised $16,016! If you send me your address, I will mail you a thank you note.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book cover of "The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper" shown on kobo ereader
The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper

I read a fun book this week: The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper by A. J. Fitzwater. This is a collection of short stories about a pirate named Cinrak who also happens to be a lesbian—and a capybara. All the characters in this story are animals, in the tradition of fantasies like Redwall. The stories are basically about Cinrak being a chill and awesome pirate and undertaking legendary feats with her chosen family. It’s wholesome and fun, perfect reading for shitty times.

Here’s an assortment of interesting things I read online recently:

  • The coronavirus was an emergency until Trump found out who was dying via The Atlantic. This is unsurprising but depressing. Once we found that the majority of Americans getting coronavirus were people of color, the government and right-wing commentators started banging the drum of “opening up the economy” because it’s fine if it’s not white people who are dying. I can’t sigh and/or rage hard enough over this.
  • Research on facial expressions challenges the way we think about autism via The Conversation. This article really has nothing to do with coronavirus. Rejoice! The discussion around facial expressions and autism is usually about autistic people not recognizing neurotypical expressions, but this research suggests that the reverse might also be true: neurotypical people don’t know how to recognize autistic expressions.
  • Is time flying by oddly quickly during Covid-19? Here’s why you may feel that way via The L.A. Times. Long story short: nothing interesting is happening, so when you look back on the last month, it seems like it flew by because there’s nothing to mark the time. That said, the “novelty” of sheltering in place may have the opposite effect and make time drag out. I feel like I’m experiencing both at once and it’s messing up my brain. Make it stop!
  • Who figured out how to make leavened bread? via Slate. Shout out to the woman who accidentally discovered yeast 14,000 years ago.

Watching

I’ve been enjoying RuPaul’s Drag Race and I just got caught up on Celebrity Drag Race too. It’s been weird watching the show contort around Sherri Pie in an effort to remove her from the season as much as possible. I’m not the only one thinking about it. The AV Club has an interesting piece about how it’s affecting the narrative this season. Also, I’m curious: who do you want to win this season?

Rampant Consumerism

a box of 12 macarons from Cookie Bomb
treats!

I saw that my favorite local purveyor of cookies, Cookie Bomb, was back with macarons for mother’s day. I decided this was an opportunity for a pre-birthday treat for me, mother’s day be damned. They’re so good!

Snacks aside, I have been giving some serious consideration to buying a kayak. You know, since there’s no roller derby and I couldn’t skate now anyway because of my ankle and there’s nothing else to do this summer. If anyone has kayak recommendations (or anti-recommendations), I’d love to hear them.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

This week I finally harvested the broccoli! For as big as the leaves are, you’d almost expect more. Broccoli just gotta be dramatic like that.

Knitting and Crafts

You may remember that I was making a cat-themed quilt, if you were reading my posts back in October. I sewed the top and then set about ignoring it for months. Now, thanks to the magic of sheltering in place, it’s finally done! Last weekend I finally found the will to cut and sew the back and binding. I used a satin binding around the edge. When I was a kid I had a blanket with the same and I loved scratching it. The sensation still gives me a somatic thrill so here we are, despite the satin looking a little messy because I think I’m supposed to use a different needle or foot or something.

I keep forgetting to take and share photos of my current knitting project. I’m working on the Noordzee shawl. I had bought a packet of six small skeins of blue yarns a while ago. One of my many quarantine activities was taking stock of all my yarn and logging my “stash” in ravelry. I had bought the yarn ages ago but still had no idea what to do with it, so I finally went in search of a good pattern and decided to run with it. I’m still finding it a little hard to sit down and knit because I’ve been getting really restless. It’s easier to do things like baking, which feels more active and offers short-term gratification.

Kitchen Witchery

I tried a new, but not complicated recipe this week and made a potato and lentil curry (recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian). It was simple but satisfying. I also grilled hamburgers, along with corn and potatoes, and served it with the homemade broccoli, which was really good!

This pistachio cake appeared in my feed last week and I was immediately obsessed with making it. It was obviously delicious and it served as part of a balanced breakfast for most of the week. I also made pretzels (recipe here)! Pretzels only seem like a good idea until I’m halfway in to rolling out all the dough and then I remember why I don’t make pretzels very often. That said, they are delicious and I’ve already eaten most of them.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

Some Amount of Time in the Life: May 2, 2020

On the way back from the grocery store yesterday afternoon, I remarked to Kirk that I used to like grocery shopping. Now it’s much more stressful. I’m trying to stay away from people and there are way more decisions to make about what to substitute, what to buy, what to stock up on. It’s a really big paradigm shift to not have everything available anytime. My whole adult life, I’ve been able to buy pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want it. This trend, of course, was accelerated by Amazon, but this abundance is something that, I believed, was a characteristic of American life. Shortages were for other countries. There are a lot of shitty reasons that many things aren’t available now, but I’ve been considering the expectation that everything should be always available. What is the human cost of getting anything anytime? Is this a reasonable expectation of a civilized society? Who benefits and who suffers in this model? Not to be all “we are the virus”/”the pandemic is a good thing,” but it is definitely a time to reflect on what makes sense, and what is helpful or harmful for society. Maybe being able to have whatever we want the very moment we want it isn’t something we need.

Big philosophical questions aside, Kirk has been picking flours from the yard and presenting me with tiny arrangements. It’s sweet and I want to share.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

Now that the weather has improved, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading in my hammock! This is my favorite thing about this time of year when the weather is warm but still mild. Plus, Elk Grove usually has a pleasant breeze in the evenings: ideal hammock weather.

I enjoyed K. Eason’s How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse. This is a space opera riff on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty that re-imagines the story in a very satisfying way. There’s space travel, political intrigue, fighting, and feminism.

I also read Women Talking by Miriam Toews. This book wasn’t as “fun,” but I did like it a lot. I had read Toews’ book All My Puny Sorrows and liked it, so I figured I would give Women Talking a read. This novel is the author’s way of documenting and dealing with the abuse that a group of men perpetrated on women in an isolated Mennonite community. It’s based on a true story, which means it carries all that real-life patriarchal horror (the only horror I read), while showing women reclaiming agency from a terrible system. Recommended reading only if you’re ready to be sad and hate men.

Here are some of the week’s internet reads. Yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about productivity.

  • Pandemic! Productivity! Life! Hacks! (from a deeply unproductive & freaked out person) via Captain Awkward. Some advice for managing your to-do list and some thoughts on productivity and what we really “need” to be doing right now (answer: just surviving).
  • Nothing to Spare: What coronavirus reveals about the economic model that shapes our lives via Medium. This is interesting to me because I work for a big corporation and we talk about “lean” manufacturing a lot. We seem to have everything available all the time but businesses keep their stock as low as possible, so in an unusual situation like this, all the old logic goes down in flames.
  • Productivity is not working via Wired. I’ve been fascinated with the discussion surrounding productivity amid the plague and the American productivity obsession. So, here’s another entry on that category. From the article: “There has always been something a little obscene about the cult of the hustle, the treadmill of alienated insecurity that tells you that if you stop running for even an instant, you’ll be flung flat on your face—but the treadmill is familiar. The treadmill feels normal. And right now, when the world economy has jerked to a sudden, shuddering stop, most of us are desperate to feel normal.”

Watching

In the spirit of not wanting to think about anything, we’ve been re-watching Archer. We had stopped watching it a few years ago, but we decided to get back into it. We’re watching from the beginning before getting to the seasons we haven’t seen yet.

Rampant Consumerism

six bags of flour in a cardboard box
I am rich

I really haven’t spent a lot of money this week (unless you count yesterday’s trip to the grocery store) because there’s not much point when you’re chilling at home all the time. I already have all the day-to-day stuff I need plus plenty of entertainment. However, pandemic stress has compelled me to spend a lot of money on food. Last week I ordered flour from a small mill in Kansas called Hudson Cream (why is a flour called “cream”? Who knows). My flour arrived this week and now I am feeling wealthy, despite some of the bags splitting open in transit. The prices are reasonable, but I spent more in shipping than the flour itself. Understandable and worth it for me but I can understand why others would disagree.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

I have to share my broccoli because it’s flourishing. We planted this in January (I think?) and it seemed to do nothing except get leafier. While I know what the end result of broccoli looks like, I wasn’t sure if the plant was actually doing anything. About two weeks ago I noticed a little nugget of broccoli tucked inside this leafy ruff. Now the broccoli has matured into something that really looks like what you’d get at the store, which is my metric for whether I’ve successfully produced food. Yesterday we also discovered that one of the other broccoli plants is also creating something edible so this is very exciting! In addition to the broccoli, the spinach has been very active and I picked a whole bunch this week.

Knitting

I haven’t been knitting as much as I want to because I keep getting lost in playing video games for hours, which is fine. However, I am still thinking a lot about knitting. Two knitting books showed up into my feed recently and of course now I want them. It’s easy to think about stuff you want to make, but the making takes much longer than the planning. In any case, I am intrigued by this 52 Weeks of Socks book and this collection of Doomsday Knits—surprisingly not a new collection but the idea of apocalyptic fashion is hardly new, only its urgency.

Spanish

I am proud of what I accomplished in Spanish this month! I decided I need to keep up with at least one thing that’s important to me and be “productive” in that area and that has been Spanish. I met my teacher for two classes each week and we did some test prep in addition to our regular conversation. I also read nearly a whole novel! I’m feeling good about it because I’m doing a little better following the story overall. Usually I read Spanish more at a paragraph level and have a hard time keeping track of the plot as a whole. I’m improving.

The bad news of Spanish right now is that I wanted to take the DELE exam in July, but it looks like it won’t be offered in California again until November, even though their website says July. I could travel to another city to take it but I don’t think that’s a great idea either, so it looks like I’ll be waiting another six months. More time to get better at Spanish, I suppose.

Working Out

me, wearing a bike helmet having returned from a ride
Derby Pride while riding around town

I’m still working on my physical therapy for my ankle, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be better for a few months yet because it’s sore and still pretty swollen. My PT sent me a new schedule of exercises for the next two weeks that has step ups, split squats, reverse lunges, and squats all in one workout. This seems ridiculous to me, but I’m trying my best. The PT is also still prescribing bike riding, so I went for a ride today. I did the circuit that takes me to the library, even though the library is closed. I really miss my library bike rides. I also wore one of my #derbytwitter jerseys while riding to remind me that I am part of something cool and eventually I’ll get to play again.

Derby Life

Speaking of derby, the big news today is that Rollercon is officially cancelled. It is the right decision—there’s no way it makes sense to play a contact sport during a pandemic, especially at a convention—but it’s still pretty sad. I’m looking forward to Rollercon 2021!

In even bigger roller derby news, the word is now out that Sacramento Roller Derby is the proud owner of its own warehouse, thanks to an amazingly generous donor who gave the team almost $2 million to buy it. Although that’s a whole lot of money, we are still raising funds through Sacramento’s Big Day of Giving on May 7 to make the warehouse roller derby-ready. All our donors will be memorialized on the wall in the new space. Also, I’m on one of the flyers! There’s a lot to look forward to and I can’t wait for my ankle to be healed and the plague season to be behind us.

Kitchen Witchery

Now that I have plenty of flour (and a little more energy), I’ve been cooking more:

  • I tried a new granola recipe. It’s billed as “almond joy” granola, and it doesn’t quite put me in mind of the candy bar, but it’s still good. To be fair, it might be my own fault for using peanut butter instead of almond butter, but I don’t tend to buy almond butter and plague life is all about making do.
  • My sourdough starter went bad (RIP starter), but my friend Sharlotte brought me some of hers so I’ve been able to keep making bread. Last week I tried this whole wheat and rye sourdough, which was delicious. It was the first bread I’ve made with no additional yeast. I was surprised at how long it took to rise (all freaking day!) but couldn’t complain about the results. I am lucky in that I still have yeast, but I am trying to save it for things that really need it.
  • I made pita bread (recipe from The Bread Bible) to eat with a spinach dip, which I decided was the best use of all that spinach. Although I looked at a few dip recipes, in the end I settled on an amalgamation: spinach sauteed with a little garlic, combined with cream cheese and a packet of onion soup/dip mix. Because we are fancy, we ate this for dinner.
  • The return of million peso shortbread! I am bad at taking good photos of this but it was delicious and that’s what counts. I start with this version of millionaire’s shortbread from the Washington Post, which has a dulce de leche caramel, then add some cinnamon to the shortbread and a bit of ancho chili powder to the chocolate. #SignatureBake
  • Sometimes you just want a simple-ass muffin and that’s what we had yesterday. These chocolate chip muffins came out really pale, but they were good. Kirk has suggested that I add some kind of sugar topping next time I make them. Who am I to say no?
  • Yesterday I made this no-knead sourdough bread and I am pretty much obsessed with it. It is exactly what I want from sourdough. The only thing that didn’t go right is that I dusted the bottom of the pan with semolina flour instead of oiling it (both were options in the recipe) and my bread got stuck in the pan! Mistakes were made and I have learned a valuable lesson.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: April 18, 2020

Life is so weird right now. If you don’t pay attention, it can almost seem like things are totally normal. Like I just happened to have bunch of days in a row without needing or wanting to go anywhere. What a coincidence! It’s hard to know how to process all these pandemic thoughts and feelings because it’s ongoing. It’s much easier to make sense of something when it’s over; we can see it’s narrative arc and tell ourselves a story about what happened. Instead, we’re in the thick of it and having to grapple with news like U.S. ‘Perilously Close’ to Meat Shortage After Major Plant Closes Over Coronavirus. Neat. I read something like this and think “should I buy meat? Should I stock up on beans instead for when there is no meat?” It’s really hard to think through how to prepare for the rest of this crisis. At the same time, I’m still getting paid and I’m quite comfortable at home. The cognitive dissonance will get you.

Unrelated to pandemic life, this week I saw a targeted ad on instagram for deodorant. Ads generally aren’t noteworthy, but I had to laugh because the ad featured someone on roller skates. Apparently there are enough rollerskaters on instagram that it’s worth the targeted ad. It also reminded me of something funny (awkward?) from when I was growing up. In this ad, the roller skater is applying deodorant behind her knee. Admittedly that is a sweaty spot but I’m not worried about deodorizing there. When I was an impressionable young 10-year-old, I remember seeing a commercial on TV in which the women applied deodorant to that behind-the-knee spot. I interpreted this to mean that one should be putting deodorant in the pits and the … knee pits? I went to school the next day fully deodorized, but partway through the day a bunch of girls were like “uh, you have deodorant on your legs,” so I ended up trying to wash it off in the bathroom like a fool. This has been a glimpse into me trying to make sense of the world. You’re welcome.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book cover seen on Kobo ereader: The City We Became
The City We Became

I read N. K. Jemisin’s new novel The City We Became. This book is an ode to New York and it’s a great one. Unfortunately for me, I’ve never been to NYC and don’t have much reference for it, so it took me a little while to get into it. However, it is a really good book and once I was more familiar with the city, as personified in the story, I really enjoyed it. The novel takes the concept of the city as a living thing and pushes it to its extreme: once a city matures, it quickens and a human avatar begins to embody it. Unfortunately for poor New York, not everyone in the multi-verse is supportive. This is a fun book and apparently it’s the first in a trilogy, so there will be more!

Some reading from the ‘net this week:

  • Behold Dune: An Exclusive Look at Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and More via Vanity Fair. I read Frank Herbert’s Dune at an impressionable young age and it has stayed with me. I love that book, despite some of it’s problematic bits. The new Dune movie is set to come out at the end of the year and it looks fucking amazing. I’m so excited.
  • Michigan manbaby protest: Wait, we thought conservatives were “rugged individuals” via Salon. The title really says it all here. These people protesting having to stay home in a pandemic are just … what? Really? That’s what you want to be mad about? Sorry we’re trying to save your dumb lives. It’s just another piece of evidence demonstrating that modern conservatism has no logic or moral center. When people want health care or not to be shot by cops, there’s a “right way to protest,” but keep white people from going to Whole Foods every day, and you have a riot.
  • The Pandemic Is Not Your Vacation via Buzzfeed. Rich people are heading out to the country to whether the pandemic, but the problem is that rural areas do not have the infrastructure in place to treat even more sick people. Stay the fuck home.

Watching

Kirk and I have been taking turns watching each other play Nintendo, for the most part. I’m having a lot of fun with Super Mario Odyssey. Kirk has been playing a lot of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I don’t mind hanging out on the couch and watching him play that because it’s a fairly calm game. I treat it like TV and make it something to knit by.

Rampant Consumerism

About a month ago I ordered a few prints from Pink Tofu Art because I decided we needed some art in the guest/sewing room. They finally arrived! I had to special order frames from an etsy shop that has A4 paper sizes, which was mildly annoying but I cannot complain about the results. I love her art so much and I’m happy to have it decorating my house.

This week I also put in another round of book buying from Capital Books on K. They got a bunch of puzzles in stock so I though, well, why not, we’re going to be home for a while. I ordered some puzzles and a couple more books (as if I don’t have plenty to read) because why not.

three framed prints: left a desert witch holding a fox, mid two celestial women lovers, right: a woman archer in the snow
New Decor from Pink Tofu Art

Making Things and Doing Stuff

It’s been another week of work kicking my ass. We have multiple proposals due at the end of the month, so everything is piled up, which is a drag. I’m hoping the worst will be over soon, but maybe this is the new normal. It’s unfortunate that we’re heading into another recession (for many reasons), but I worry that the corporate overlords are going to keep demanding a lot of work output without giving us anything more because we should all feel grateful to have a job. They’ve already suspended our 401(k) matches for the duration of the crisis. I hope that comes back. The CEOs and executives have also taken some kind of pay cut that involves forfeiting their “base salary,” but most of their pay comes from bonuses and stocks so it seems like an empty gesture to me. In any case, I do feel stupidly grateful to have a job right now. Unfortunately, that’s how they get you.

Working Out

It’s been almost two months since I sprained my ankle. It still has some swelling and it feels uncomfortable with lateral pressure or deep squats so I finally got back to my doctor to ask for a physical therapy referral. I had a phone consultation with a physical therapist who, afterwards, assigned me a workout routine that I’m supposed to do every day for the next two weeks. I feel like daily workouts is excessive, but Kirk reminded me that I’ve been complaining that I’m not getting better, so daily workouts it is.

Kitchen Witchery

I have continued to embrace carb life as sheltering in place continues. Last Saturday, I made a lasagna based on the recipe in How to Cook Everything. Although for the bolognase sauce, I substituted ground turkey because that’s what I had. I also added some spinach to the cheese mixture because we have been growing it in the garden and I have more than I know what to do with. Naturally I made some bread to accompany the lasagna. The next day I made bread again for my weekly sourdough loaf. I tried King Arthur Flour’s sourdough boule, mostly because it used ingredients I had available.

Today I did a round of pickling for Kirk’s benefit. He loves pickles, but I hate them. I am, however, fascinated by the process of making pickles, so I have been learning to make them. I also made some chocolate zucchini bread, because chocolate is all I want to eat lately.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

Some Amount of Time in the Life: April 11, 2020

The hardest thing about sheltering in place during this pandemic is losing my sense of routine, even though most of my day happens at home anyway. I’ve been thinking about the fact that I usually get a lot “done” in a normal day but a lot of that is driven by anxiety. Yes, I am doing things I want to do, but I also have a lot of conversations with myself like “If I don’t go to the gym now, I won’t be able to go later because there’s derby practice and I’ll be sore,” or “I need to study Spanish at this time so I’m done and then can make dinner.” A lot of my anxiety expresses itself around time: having enough, doing all the things I want. Now, in a way, I have an abundance of time. It’s diminished the urgency I usually feel around being “productive.” That’s a good thing, I think, but I do wonder how to find the balance between discipline and needless stress. If I want to get better at Spanish, for example, I need to practice regularly, I recognize that. I am forever striving to relax (yes, the irony) and I am getting better. Pandemic life is a good time to evaluate these things.

Now that we’re weeks into sheltering in place, I’ve adjusted to the stress, like background radiation, that’s permeating everything now and I have been able to re-establish some routines. I’ve gotten back into my groove of studying Spanish, which is good because I enjoy it and because I’m still planning to take the DELE proficiency test this summer (pandemic permitting). I am also chilling out more. We’re still playing a lot of Nintendo and I did two jigsaw puzzles this week. I bought several puzzles over the years with the vague idea that a puzzle would be fun, but I haven’t done any of them because it usually feels too lazy or indulgent to do nothing more than a puzzle. So be it.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought.

Reading

book: The Starless Sea
The Starless Sea

I haven’t been reading as much as you might expect during this quarantine season, but now that I’ve accepted my at-home routine, I am doing more. I most recently finished The Starless Sea by Erin Moregenstern. This is a book for people who love books and stories. It’s got mystery, secret societies, magic, and everything really. It’s a love letter to stories and a pleasure to read.

Here are some things I’ve been reading on the internet. I promise they are not all about coronavirus. I take it back, now that I’ve compiled this list, they are clearly all about coronavirus or the way coronavirus is changing our lives.

  • Here’s how those hot jigsaw puzzles are made via The New York Times. I’m not the only one with puzzle fever these days.
  • Stop trying to be productive via Electric Literature. This is an interview with Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, which I read last year. I really like how Odell discusses productivity and what it means.
  • What everyone’s getting wrong about the toilet paper shortage via Medium. Apparently part of the problem with people not being able to buy toilet paper is we all need more of the kind that individuals buy and not the kind that corporations buy to stock your office or restaurant bathrooms. Capitalism is wild.
  • Lockdown was supposed to be an introvert’s paradise. It’s not. via MIT Technology Review. I’ve not felt moved to join anyone’s extra-curricular conference calls because it feels like work to me. I already spend half my day in phone meetings for work. “Video chat has become the go-to substitute for many people’s discarded social lives, the place where they can see the most of the people they can no longer be with. Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts are easy to use. But they have a way of making everything feel like a meeting.”
  • Of tropes and tatas via Bohemian. This is an interview with Meg Vondriska, the woman behind @MenWriteWomen on twitter, which aggregates passages from books in which men do a horrible job of describing women. It’s worth reading, and you definitely need to check out the twitter account (but only if you’re prepared to be mad).
  • The social distancing culture war has begun via The Atlantic. Behaving responsibly during the pandemic now has a political “side” to it because this country and its political discourse is real garbage sometimes.

Watching

We finished Star Trek: Enterprise a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to figure out what show to watch next. Kirk has convinced me to watch Breaking Bad. I missed it when it was new and then people hyped it so much that I didn’t want to watch it. It is actually pretty good. We’re only a few episodes in, but so far, I am entertained.

Rampant Consumerism

I haven’t been buying much because my house already has everything I need for the most part. Although I did just receive some prints I ordered from Pink Tofu Art. I’m excited to frame them and put them up in my guest/sewing room (When asked, Kirk said they looked “interesting.” lol). I have been trying to send money to people who need it. I donated to 3 Black Chefs‘ campaign to feed people in Sacramento’s Meadowview community (not that far from where I live). Since our government is run by soulless dicks, I feel like people who can help others must.

Making things and Doing Stuff

Like everyone, all my things and stuff have been at home lately, with the exception of a few walks around the neighborhood and a trip for groceries yesterday (exciting!). I did two puzzles this week. Once I start I get obsessed with finishing them, which is weird, but I’m rolling with it. The first was a 200-piece image of Islamic calligraphy that I bought at the Dallas Museum of Art. The other is a 1,000-piece puzzle with pictures of cats (because obviously cats).

Spanish

I’ve decided to focus my energy on one “productive” thing and that’s Spanish. One thing is all I have the mental space for. I’ve scheduled myself for two hours per week with my teacher, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening practice. We’ve also started doing practice exam stuff again. It feels good to at least have one normal thing to keep working on.

Working Out (Or Not)

Judging by all the challenges and workouts and conference call exercise groups going around, I’m the only person in America not exercising right now. I know that’s not true but, damn, people are freakout out about working out. I keep thinking that I want to exercise but it’s really hard right now. I want riding my bike, but I usually ride to go somewhere, not just to ride, and it’s hard to convince myself to just ride around. My ankle is still recovering from the sprain, so my exercise options are limited because of that. The combination of rehabilitation plus sheltering in place has made me uniquely unmotivated, even though I have a great workout plan for home stuff that’s easy on my ankles from my coach. That said, I also think it’s completely okay not to work out at home right now. I want to do a little when it feels good and breaks up the monotony, but there’s no rule that says you have to come out of quarantine as buff as you went in. To attempt to do so seems like madness.

Kitchen Witchery

I also haven’t felt especially motivated to cook anything complicated lately. I made a pot roast in the slower cooker and I did make pumpkin cheesecake bars, not pictured because I forgot to take a photo and they didn’t photograph well, respectively. My sourdough starter is still going strong. I made a whole wheat loaf, since that’s what flour I have the most of now. It was tasty and I’m enjoying the process of sourdough. In other kitchen adventures, I had my first ever Cup Noodle. I’ve eaten top ramen and many variations but I’ve never had the particular styrofoam-cup variety. It was perfectly adequate. I also spent the week snacking on a gourmet dish learned from my mom: frosting on graham crackers. Don’t knock it until you try it.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.