Two Weeks in the Life: June 20, 2021

me in sunglasses, lips pursed around the straw of a pina colada slurpee
first slurpee since the pandemic

Yesterday I finally got a Slurpee (pina coloada flavor, obviously). I was hot on my way home from ballet class and stopped at 7-11 to get one. There were many times last summer when I wanted a slurpee, but it didn’t feel like a great idea given the state of the pandemic. The pandemic isn’t really over but things are safer than they have been. California says you don’t have to wear a mask in most indoor places now, but it feels weird to let one’s guard down just like that. I’m not feeling normal yet (and perhaps never will), but getting a Slurpee was a good step in the right direction for me.

I hate complaining about the heat because it’s so boring, but: is it fucking hot enough? Two 110-degree days in a row is a bad time. Yes, I have a functioning air conditioning and I passed the day inside, but it’s still hot. You still feel it inside, and cooking is out of the question. It’s not as hot today (at the time of this writing: 101 F), but I’m still extremely over it. It’s June and I’m already annoyed. Let’s get summer over with. Or at least let’s get more slurpees.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

If I skip a week of blogging, it’s hard to write in much detail about the books I read, both because it’s been a little longer since I finished the books and because I have more books to talk about so I don’t want to write as much for each one. But here we are:

  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong. I loved this memoir/essay collection about the experience of being Asian American and not being willing to center white feelings in one’s writing anymore. It’s an excellent exploration of the author’s life and her thoughts on art and culture.
  • The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun. This is a novel translated from Korean about a woman who works in a travel agency that runs programs for tourists to visit areas where there have been disasters. It’s all fun and games until the protagonist goes on a trip herself and gets sucked into a man-made disaster. There’s a lot of commentary one could make about capitalism and how a lot of tourism is exploitative, but I am not going to be the one to do it today.
  • Deathless by Catherynne Valente. I hate that the version I have of this has such a plain cover because the actual cover is very cool. This is a novel based on Russian folklore about Koschei the Deathless and about what happens when the damsel in distress isn’t really in distress but tries to subvert the story to her own ends. This is also a really interesting work because it combines fantasy with historical fiction. Valente sets the myth during the Russian Revolution, which gives us a new twist on the tale.

TV and Music

Kirk and I finally got around to watching Wandavision this week. A lot of people raved about it, but I thought it was just okay (spoilers ahead!). I liked the kitschiness of the episodes set in different areas of TV. However, the ending was a little lackluster. The show doesn’t paint Wanda as a villain but she’s definitely a villain! You don’t mentally subjugate an entire town with your sorcery and get to keep the “hero” title. I thought it was ridiculous that a white woman gets to be like “whoops, I magically ruined hundreds of lives because I was sad” and have zero consequences. The protagonist we need is Agnes, whose story is undoubtedly more interesting than Wanda’s.

I finally started (and finished) watching Legendary, which is some truly great television. I love the vogueing and the performances. It’s really cool to see the concepts all the houses come up with and I like that they get production support with the costumes and extra choreography coaching from professionals. It makes the show so much stronger and levels the playing field (if only Drag Race would take notes). If you like dance and drama and drag, this is a great show to watch.

fritz the cat sitting on the couch, apparently watching an episode of Legendary
Fritz watching Legendary

Making Things and Doing stuff

There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.

Languages

cover of Los desesperados, shown on kobo ereader. Cover image features a bass drum, a UFO, and various musical accoutrement
Los desesperados

I finished Los desesperados by Joselo Rangel, a novel about a Mexican rock and roll band. This was fun to read because it’s a different subject than most novels and it introduced me to a lot of music-related words and some more informal vocabulary.

I’m now three weeks into working with my new Icelandic teacher and I’m not sure it’s working out. It’s good in that having a teacher again has got me more motivated to review and learn on my own time, but I don’t think she’s using class time well. We barely work on Icelandic. My theory is she’s not sure what to use to teach me or how to direct our time. It’s frustrating and feels difficult (read: rude) to bring up, even though I’m the one paying for it.

Moving It

I’m glad a lot of people were able to watch my dance performance last weekend. It was nice to have to much support. It felt a little silly to watch though, which is odd because I don’t often get self-conscious about these kinds of things. Both performances felt much cooler and dramatic while I was doing them than when I watched them. I think part of that is inexperience (I have to remind myself it’s only been a year!), but maybe performing in face masks didn’t help. You lose a lot of the expressiveness with that. My dance studio took the last two weeks off but we’ve started classes again and I’m excited to keep learning more and improving.

Kitchen Witchery

Last weekend I had fun making pasta by hand for the first time! I made lasagna because a few wide noodles are easier to make than a bunch of tiny ones. I followed the noodle and lasagna recipes from How to Cook Everything and the results were delicious. I am also excited to report that I’ve finally started customizing some bread based on my own instincts instead of recipes. For this loaf, I started with a basic french bread recipe, rolled it up like a cinnamon bun but with parsley and parmesan, then cut it in half to twist it up. The results were pretty and tasty. I’m hoping to start playing around like this more with my baking.

As always, I have been baking. I made an Indian puffy bread (from Classic Indian Cooking) to accompany some lentils last week. This is a recipe where you cook the bread in a skillet , then toss it directly onto the burner to puff up before brushing it with melted ghee. I was a little afraid of putting the bread over a direct flame, but it was, of course, fine. Yesterday I made coconut cupcakes with a meringue topping to accompany tonight’s dinner (recipe from the Latin Grilling cookbook). I’d never made swiss meringue before, but it came out really good. The cupcakes are really tasty overall, if a little raggedy-looking.

Cat Therapy

I know everyone is really here for the kitten updates. Fritz is settling in well—he already acts like he owns the place. Huey is not loving it but she’s starting to adjust. I think Fritz really wants to play with her, but when he runs up to her, Huey often hisses and flees. Huey is now able to hang out sort of nearby him without growling, so that’s progress.

Fritz is not accepting any boundaries on his new domain. Since Huey hasn’t asserted many herself, we are, for example, not letting Fritz in bed when Huey is there. This led to a spree of bad behavior including peeing on the bed twice. Fritz remains under probation and has to be put in a separate room at night until we are sure he can act right. However, he is extremely cute.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: June 6, 2021

This week was almost entirely uneventful. I didn’t cook anything interesting (in part because it was hot) and there hasn’t been a lot going on. I did a bunch of boring stuff like get my bike tires replaced and make appointments to see the next optometrist in my saga to get treatment for binocular vision disorder. I also successfully rolled over my 401(k), which is a cause for celebration.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

The All Souls Trilogy cover (three books in one file), shown in black and white on Kobo ereader
The All Souls Trilogy

I finished the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I mentioned the first book, A Discovery of Witches, last week. This week I read the next two: Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. I liked this series more than I thought I would. I came of age during Twilight mania, so I am very skeptical of any romance novels featuring a vampire. However, this series is well done and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I also like that the main characters are both academics and I really appreciated the way the series was resolved.

Meanwhile, on the internet, I enjoyed this piece from Cybernaut, Caught in the Study Web. This is an overview of how young people are using the internet to connect and study together, and how they use the internet to focus and discuss their issues.

TV and Music

I finally (finally!) started watching Legendary, which many of you have been telling me to do for the last year. I knew I would like it, it’s definitely my kind of show, but even with that in mind, it’s really good. I like that it focuses on the craft and performance and not overmuch on drama (looking at you, Drag Race), except from what stems naturally from competition. It’s a lush show and a lot of fun to watch.

Making Things and Doing stuff

There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.

Languages

Today I had my first Icelandic class with my new teacher and it went well. We mostly chatted about what I’ve learned so far and where I want to go with my studies. Plus we talked about how fun grammar is (roll your eyes if you must). I am surprised at how much I do remember, but also annoyed by how long it takes to excavate the knowledge from my brain. In any case, I’m looking forward to keep working on a language I’ve already made so much progress in.

Moving It

I’m pleased to announce my virtual dance recital will be this Saturday, June 12 at 4 p.m. I do not, unfortunately, have a link to it yet but I am told it will be a live broadcast via YouTube. If you want to watch, save the date! It won’t stay on YouTube afterwards. I will share a link on the social media as soon as I have it.

Cat Therapy

The moment you’ve been waiting for: a new kitten! Unfortunately, we decided not to adopt Sebastian because he was having increasingly severe seizures and we did not feel up to caring for him. Fortunately, we went to the Elk Grove animal shelter yesterday and adopted this little nut. Meet Mr. Fritz. The shelter was calling him Fritter and we’ve transformed that into his new name: Fritz. He’s already very cuddly and purrs a lot with me. He does, unfortunately, seem have a case of pink eye, so he will be going to the vet as soon as we can manage it. Huey is a bit offended but there haven’t been any altercations. I think she’s mostly mad that Fritz is in a room that she is not allowed to hang out in often.

A Week in the Life: May 31, 2021

It has been a busy weekend! Despite telling myself I would ease back into vaccinated life, I did perhaps too many things this weekend. I don’t regret it, but I am very tired.

My friends Kira and Debra made a stop at our house on Saturday as part of a road trip and it was great to see them. I have exactly two friends from college, one from my short time at BYU and one from the University of Washington—Kira is the latter. We don’t talk that often but we have the kind of relationship where we can always pick up where we left off. I made food (Deborah wanted to be on my “cooking show” aka me making new things and posting about it on Instagram) and we caught up on the latest episode of Drag Race. Kira also made some decorating suggestions for my house, like considering a giant tiger statue for the bathroom (we had to reassure Kirk that this was a joke).

from left to right: Kirk, Lindsey, Kira (holding Poppy the dog in her sling), and Deborah
weekend visitors

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

This week I read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. My reading-tracking app keeps reporting that I’m behind on reading if I want to meet my goal of 100 books this year (I’ve read 35 books, but I’m 5 books behind). Instead of heeding it, I decided I read a 600-page novel written by a historian. Smart. I thought this was going to be a book about witches, but it’s actually a witch-vampire romance. It’s good and it firmly held my interest, but I must warn you that, if you’re here for witchcraft, it might not be the ideal read. It’s also a slow novel with a lot of detail that you would expect from an author who’s an academic, but I like it. I’m already two-thirds through the second (of three) book in the series.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • 2020 was the year of lost friendships via Harper’s Bazaar. This was surreal to read because I did lose a friendship last year, not due to illness but an inability (or perhaps, unwillingness) to communicate in the way a pandemic demands.
  • The Anxiety of Influencers: Educating the TikTok Generation via Harper’s Magazine. This is a long, interesting read. The author briefly embeds himself in a “content house” where a handful of young people live and create content for TikTok. I liked this article because it avoids being an invective against kids these days (which it could easily be).
  • Turns out it’s pretty good: Enemies via The Cut. On the trill of having a nemesis.

TV and Music

I can’t stop listening to 10 Years by Daði Freyr. This is an Icelandic band and they were this year’s Eurovision entry for Iceland!

Rampant Consumerism

a festive box containing a jar of tahini and four flavors of halva from Seed + Mill
treats from Seed + Mill

I’ve been wanting to try Seed + Mill’s halva for a while now and I finally did! I’d been saving this treat for the summer since I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about it melting during shipment (because halva is made from ground sesame seeds). It’s so good. I’m looking forward to using the tahini too.

Making Things and Doing stuff

This week I took on a number of annoying tasks like rolling over my 401k (the hardest task known to adulthood!). I tried to do this a few weeks ago, but the old bank didn’t send the right form to the new bank, so the new bank sent the check to me instead with a note saying that the old bank fucked it up. Fortunately it only took one more annoying phone call to sort it out. I shouted at the automated phone tree only once.

I also saw the audiologist this week in my ongoing quest to apparently see every doctor in Sacramento. After my trip to the doctor about a month ago when I couldn’t hear anything, I got referred to the audiologist. My hearing is mostly okay now (thanks, allergy medicine), but the hearing in my right ear is still consistently worse than my left. As far as I know, it’s always been that way, but the audiologist said she wants to see me again in six weeks and, if nothing has changed, send me to the ear/nose/throat doctor to figure out what might be wrong. The last month has been a study in realizing that I don’t have to accept weird body things just because I’m used to them.

Moving It

me, at the top of a 115-pound log press. Photo taken outside in a parking lot where the weight lifting action takes place
first lift of the vaccinated season

I had quite an active weekend starting with ballet class on Saturday morning. We filmed the last bit of our performance, which I am happy to announce we now have a date for. There will be a youtube stream at 4 p.m. Pacific time on June 12. Mark your calendars!

After ballet I went to Strongman Saturdays, a gym gathering to work on various strongman competition-style lifts. I was worried I wouldn’t be strong anymore after a year and a half of pandemic sloth. I was pleasantly surprised and highly relieved to learn that I’m still decently strong. I was able to lift a 115-pound log over my head, and I flipped a huge tire! I’m not ready to go back to a regular gym yet, but I think I am going to keep going to these Saturday sessions since it’s a small group and they set up outside in the parking lot.

Finally, I went roller skating on Sunday night! We went to the adult skate session at the Rink to celebrate a teammate’s birthday. It was fun and I got to drink an Icee, but today I’m feeling pretty beat.

Kitchen Witchery

I put together a bit of a feast for Kira and Debra on Saturday and tried a few more recipes from Classic Indian Cooking. We had fried cauliflower, shahi sabz biriyani (a braised vegetable korma baked over rice), kali dal (buttered black beans) and naan (bread). Everything was good and I especially liked the braised vegetable dish. The bean dish I didn’t love as much as everyone else, perhaps because I learned halfway through cooking that I used the wrong kind of black beans and was convinced it came out wrong, but it was still quite good. I successfully fried cauliflower even though frying food usually scares me a little. I really am having fun learning to cook Indian food and it is, of course, great to feed my friends.

At my friend Mandy’s request, this week I made another bundt cake but with chocolate chips and walnuts inside. I based it on this King Arthur recipe, then added the fun stuff. It was delicious but a little less aesthetically pleasing than I would have liked since all the chocolate and nuts sank to the bottom (I know it looks like the top but you flip the bundt cake over after baking). Fortunately, I’m not on the Great British Bake Off so I don’t have to be ashamed of this cake. I can focus on celebrating its tastiness instead.

Cat Therapy

I have some sad news to report about Sebastian. We knew he had cerebellar hypoplasia, but now he is also having frequent seizures, with three in the last week. He’s still living with his foster family for now (we hadn’t brought him home yet). We are hoping the seizures stop as he gets a little bigger. If not, we may not be adopting him because we’re not sure we can care for him adequately. I’m really sad about it because I already feel attached, but I’m holding out hope.

Finally, here is a cat photo—and a dog photo—for your nerves. Kira carries Poppy Marie around like a baby kangaroo most of the time and it’s the greatest.

A Week in the Life: May 24, 2021

This has been another exciting week of human maintenance—I saw both my dentist and my optometrist. I went to the optometrist to get assessed for binocular vision disorder, which I wrote about two weeks ago. It was good to get assessed but it left me feeling not great. The point of the test is for the doctor to see your eyes not working together, which tired me out and made me feel a little sick. The good news is that my doctor is referring me to a specialist who can do a more thorough assessment and recommend the right type of lenses or therapies. In the meantime, my optometrist recommended I use a pair of “computer” glasses she prescribed me a few years ago. These alleviate some of the strain for near-field vision, which is good. But I think using them, or perhaps switching glasses throughout the day, is making me nauseous. I can’t win.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

paperback book: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers. Photo taken in my backyard
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers is one of the books I bought at Capital Books last week during my private browsing session. It’s the fourth book in the Wayfairers series, which I love, as previously mentioned. Each book in the series focuses on a different set of characters (with some cross over from other books). The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is a story about three guests stranded at a guest house on what’s essentially a truck stop of a planet during a disaster. I loved this book, as I did the previous ones, for its complex aliens and alien cultures, and its willingness to imagine a future where all different types of people respect each other’s differences. Okay, that makes it sound like a boring novel, but it’s actually a good story with conflict and everything set in that optimistic framework.

TV and Music

In anticipation of my ballet recital (which we are all taking very seriously despite being a casual, beginner class), I watched the 2011 recording of Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it and while I still love how lush and gothic and dramatic it is, I had not previously considered how rapey the story is. Christine can “choose” between an incel who terrorizes her workplace or a rich guy who doesn’t even believe her when she tells him about the Phantom. Yikes, that’s not romance. It’s yet another entry in the “why are men” canon.

Rampant Consumerism

two folded pieces of fabric, both with a watercolor-style pattern. One is light pink with black seeds like the inside of a watermelon and one has light and dark green stripes like a watermelon rind
watermelon fabrics

I bought some fabric with plans to make myself a casual summer dress. We’ll see how that goes (I realized I have never actually made a dress, but that didn’t occur to me until after I bought everything and I remain undaunted). It’s summer and I want to be an adorable watermelon so I bought these cute watermelon rind and watermelon guts prints. I’m very tired of not being able to find things I want to wear in sizes I can wear so I think the only choice is to level up my sewing.

Making Things and Doing stuff

There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.

Languages

I’m excited to report that I’ve booked a lesson with a new Icelandic teacher. I found her on a site called Verbalplanet. I hadn’t heard of this tutoring platform before, but I was searching for teachers and it came up. She has a lot of good reviews and sounds like someone I will like, so I’m optimistic. I’m also really happy to be continuing with Icelandic. I’ve put enough time into it at this point that I don’t want to give up, but also not enough time that I can continue unsupervised. My first class is on June 6!

Moving It

Both my jazz and ballet classes recorded performances last week. I’m still not sure when they will be available to watch, but I’m told there is a video editor involved to assemble the best footage from our multiple takes. It’s a little funny recording a performance. If it were live, it would be easier to say “well, we did our best” and forget about it. But I’ve found myself mulling over the mistakes a bit more (not too much, don’t worry) since it was recorded. Regardless, I had a lot of fun recording and getting dressed up. It was especially fun to be as melodramatic as possible for our Phantom-themed ballet performance.

Kitchen Witchery

I tried making brioche for the first time! It was so good! If you load a bread dough full of butter, it’s going to be good regardless, but I was happy with how it turned out. I mostly ate it plain but I did convert about half the loaf into French toast this weekend, which was definitely the right choice.

I tried some new Indian recipes from the Classic Indian Cooking book. I made dum aloo (potatoes in spicy yogurt sauce), masala dal (spice- and herb-laced split peas), and chapati (a thin whole-wheat bread). This was fun to make. I am still learning the Indian style of cooking, so I spend most of the process questioning whether the food is going to be good or just be a weird blob at the end. Somehow, everything comes together and is delicious! I wasn’t sure about the masala dal because the cooking method is very simple but it was good. The potatoes were tasty too and I liked scooping it all up with the bread.

I made another bundt cake this week because I’ve decided it’s bundt season (mark your calendars! lol). This time we had a coconut and cardamom cake, which was very tasty. I’ve gotten a request to make a chocolate chip bundt cake next, so next week I’ll have another cake to show you.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. We visited our soon-to-be-adopted kitten at their foster family’s house on Saturday and hung out for a while so he could start getting used to us. The kitten, who we’re naming Sebastian, went to the vet last week because he sometimes shakes. The vet says this may be from a mild form of cerebellar hypoplasia. We are a little worried but he already seemed less shaky when we saw him this week and it sounds like something cats adapt to as they grow. Regardless, he is very cute and seems like a cuddly cat so I’m looking forward to bringing him home.

A Week in the Life: May 17, 2021

a sign with push-in letters that says "The Flamingo Lounge presents Feast & Fiction. @CapitalBooksOnK"
feast and fiction!

What a week! I celebrated my thirty-fifth birthday, received and rejected a job offer, and met a kitten that we might adopt!

May 11 was my birthday, which is something that gets a little less exciting every year (what’s great about 35? nothing in particular), but we tried to make a good time of it. We booked a night of Feast and Fiction at Capital Books on K, which was a lot of fun. They let you rent the bookstore for an evening. It’s not a restaurant, so they encourage you to bring your own dinner, but they do provide desserts. I really enjoyed taking my sweet-ass time browsing the store and buying all the books I wanted. It’s basically a perfect birthday for me.

Kirk and I posing together for a photo in front of a wall decorated with flamingo wallpaper
happy birthday to me!

As for the job offer: I applied to a job in a neighboring department once I heard my boss was retiring. They were super keen to have me, but I realized that throughout the process, the potential manager didn’t ask me anything about myself, what I want from the job, or where I am going with my career. I decided that was too much of a red flag for me. For now, I’m going to stay and see how things shake out with whatever new boss we get.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

I’ve been trying to pick up the pace on reading because my reading app is reminding me I am four books behind if I want to reach my goal of 100 books this year (which, honestly? kind of rude). I’m trying but I keep reading such long books, like The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. This started a little slow for me and I admit I almost gave up on it, but I am really glad I didn’t. The story follows a woman, Addie, who makes a deal with a devil to live until she’s tired of living so she can avoid being married to a random man in her small French village. She gets what she wants but at the cost of anyone being able to remember who she is. This book is good and it ends with an emotional gut punch.

In less good books, I read Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. I heard a lot of good reviews of this book, and it came in my Powell’s Indispensable subscription, so I was optimistic. Unfortunately, it’s kind of a weird book and nothing comes of the weirdness. The story centers on a family vacationing in an Airbnb, when the home’s owners show up fleeing some unnamed calamity. Most of the book is about these two groups of people navigating each other and their expectations. I thought this book would have some kind of wild ending like everyone turns into flamingos and returns to the woods (I know flamingos don’t live in the woods. Don’t @ me.), but no. It ends much like it started with a bunch of people being kind of insufferable.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

TV and Music

I’ve finally finished watching all five seasons of Orphan Black. I thought it was an inventive series and I was satisfied by the ending. The best part of that show is watching the main actress transform into all the different versions of herself. The power of hair and makeup is strong, but she’s also a very good actress for being able to differentiate all these people.

On the topic of TV, I am still making my way through the Golden Girls. I’ve just started season five and I am continually impressed by the issues the show takes on. I was surprised to see them address chronic fatigue syndrome and the difficulty of getting diagnosed with a newly identified condition. The show was ahead of its time.

Rampant Consumerism

a stack of nine new books
birthday book pile

Check out these books! Just look at all them books! These are the spoils from my private bookstore browsing. I realized once I’d collected them all from the shelves that it was too many books to buy at once but Kirk said it’s my birthday and he was buying! Get you a man or woman who will buy you all the books!

Making Things and Doing stuff

There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.

Moving It

This week, both my dance classes are recording our performances for our digital recital. I have jazz tonight and ballet on Saturday. Because I’ve been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for most of my adult life, I am applying the many critiques I’ve heard to ham it up and be emotionally present in a dance, not just go through the steps. The result is that I’m coming through a lot more extra than my classmates, but so be it! I’m having a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you once it’s available.

Kitchen Witchery

I also had fun making some food this week. I realized I had only used my bundt pan once so I set about rectifying that with this chocolate pistachio cake (and by bookmarking a bunch of recipes—more bundts coming soon!). Making the pistachio paste, specifically the peeling the pistachios part of the process, took a bit of doing, but otherwise this was a pretty simple cake. I love how the color came out. I did take the optional suggestion of adding a few drops of green food coloring. It’s the perfect pistachio color.

My Burlap and Barrel spice subscription included some recipes for Indian food so I tried those this week to put the new seasonings to work. I made two of them: a red lentil curry and a naan. I coated some of the naan with white poppy seeds, chili flakes, and parsley (substituted for the mint because that’s my preference) according to the recipe. I ran out of the seasoning mix pretty quick so went on making plain ones. They were all delicious so I’m not mad. The lentil curry came out delicious too. I’m looking forward to making and eating it again.

Yesterday, I wanted to make some bread so I tried out these cheese and onion swirl buns to pair with some tri tip. This week, I also tried a recipe I’ve had bookmarked for a while: chili colorado (the greatest recipe of all time). It came out delicious and I’m looking forward to making it again. Even though it was good, I think I can do a little better, especially after I realized there was a video of Rick Martinez making the recipe on Youtube. Now I know the secrets that weren’t written in the recipe.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Huey has migrated to her new favorite spot in the house: on top of a cat bed I bought that no one has touched for two years. This is the first interest anyone has shown in it. It makes crinkly noise so it’s comically noisy when Huey settles in for a nap.

me holding a small kitten. The kitten is grey and white
next member of the Halsell-Sorensen household?

We also have a kitten alert! We are probably going to adopt this little kitten in the near future. One of my teammates if fostering a litter and I said I was interested but hesitant because I need someone who can get along with Huey. She recommended this little weirdo who isn’t really interested in playing with the other kittens in the litter and just wants to putter around and attack dust motes. He may be the perfect fit for us. We went to meet him (and his brothers) on Saturday. We’re waiting for him to be a little bigger and a little older before we can take him home, which will probably be a few weeks from now.

A Week in the Life: May 9, 2021

I spent this week dealing with my corporeal form, much like last week. I’ve learned that the allergy medication has some side effects that make my stomach feel not so great. I’ve also learned about a disorder called binocular vision dysfunction. I have almost all of the symptoms, but I hadn’t heard of it before. Apparently, it’s a problem of the eyes not working together well that can result in dizziness (often misdiagnosed as vertigo), clumsiness, being scared of driving on the freeway, headaches, and getting tired when reading. I read it and was forced to admit that I’m in this photo and I don’t like it. I emailed my optometrist and she suggested I come in to investigate. I’ll keep everyone posted on this very exciting subject.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

This week I read Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells—the sixth book in The Murderbot Diaries—and Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age by Donna Zuckerberg (yes, she’s Mark’s sister). My review of Fugitive Telemetry is short and works for all the books in a series: Murderbot is a depressed (and hilarious) robot-person who solves crimes. The books are funny, sweet, and, despite being about a robot, very human. It’s all you need to know.

Not All Dead White Men deals with a much less fun subject: “men’s rights activists” on the internet. Many “Pick Up Artists” draw inspiration from the classics and claim to be the inheritors of some grand tradition of being sexist assholes. Zuckerberg walks through what these men are getting from the classics and discusses how accurate the interpretation is (general result: middling accuracy). I’ve seen a lot of this junk on the internet for years so I liked having someone take me through it from an academic perspective.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Why getting dressed is so hard (part 1) via Burnt Toast. Body feelings, clothes, and why it’s so hard for some of us to deal with the stress of clothing right now.
  • It’s not their job to buy you cake via NiemanLab. I read a few stories this week about the CEO of Washingtonian Media threatening to fire employees who don’t want to return to working in the office, but I wanted to share this one in particular because it highlights the gender disparity involved in creating office culture.
  • How to: The ballet bun via Into the Gloss. I’ve been learning a lot more about how to do my hair since growing it out again. I have to put my hair in a bun for my upcoming ballet performance, but the only technique I know is to twist it and fix it into a mess with a ponytail holder. I decided to learn the right way to do this and here it is.

TV and Music

Before this week I’d never seen Hairspray. I realize this is kind of shocking because it seems like exactly the kind of movie I’d enjoy (spoiler: it was). Last Monday, I went to a private showing of Hairspray to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Although I question John Travolta’s skills as a drag queen, I enjoyed the movie a lot and already have the original version queued up in my Netflix.

I’m also very proud of myself for leaving the house and doing something in public. Even though I am vaccinated, it’s still hard to know what’s safe to do and to be emotionally ready to deal with public life. This was a good way to ease in because we had just a few people in our showing and it was all people I trust.

a sign in a movie theatre that says "private wat 7:15" at the door to our theatre
Private movie showing!

Rampant Consumerism

a small box containing four Burlap and Barrel spices: mint leaves, yellow mustard seeds, smoked chipotle, and white poppy seeds. There is also a small box of chocolates from Tagmo
new spice box!

I got the next spice club shipment from Burlap and Barrel, which is fun for me. I’m excited about this one because it has a few ingredients I can use for cooking Indian food, and I just recently bought a new cookbook! I’m definitely looking forward to giving these a try.

Making Things and Doing stuff

There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.

Moving It

me wearing a ruffled white shirt and a black cape
sneak preview of my ballet recital costume

It’s dance recital season! We’ve been working on routines in both my classes for the last two months. Yesterday, we got our ballet costumes. We’re doing a Phantom of the Opera theme and we are the Phantoms! I am now the proud owner of this ruffly shirt and black cape, suitable for all occasions. We are planning to film our routine in two weeks and it will be shared online sometime after that.

Kitchen Witchery

Kirk wanted me to get the last of the spinach out of the garden so I did then made some things with it. First I put together a spinach pesto, which we enjoyed on some tortellini for dinner. Then I made spinach-ricotta calzones. Unfortunately, the spinach/cheese ratio was all wrong for me and I don’t really enjoy eating a big chunk of cooked spinach. Kirk ate his but said I shouldn’t save the leftovers. I picked at the crust of mine then gave up and declared I wanted pizza. I think this could be good with a lot more cheese and a little less spinach.

I did a fair amount of baking this week. For my roller derby team’s Big Day of Giving campaign, we had a “bake a skate” competition. I made an herb and garlic bubble loaf for the boot of the skate and cinnamon rolls for the wheels. I didn’t win, but my bread was good and it did somewhat resemble a roller skate. I also tried a Gruyère-stuffed crusty loaf because I had some leftover cheese to use and a desire to make bread. Kirk has resumed weekend visits to his parents and they have requested bread, since they’ve been playing this pandemic extremely safe. This recipe made four mini loaves so I was able to send them two and keep some for me to eat.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Huey has taken to sitting on my thigh when she’s in the hammock with me. It’s all fun and games until I can’t feel my leg anymore.

A Week in the Life: May 2, 2021

Last week I reported on my trip to the doctor and her recommendation that I take allergy medication. I am happy to say it seems to be helping. My hearing is a little better and the pressure in my head is much reduced and. Fun fact: I did not know I had pressure in my head. I also didn’t realize it was abnormal to have watery eyes or to frequently blow my nose, but here I am. It seems I’ve joined everyone else in Sacramento now by developing allergies.

In non-medical news, my supervisor is retiring this week. I’m happy for her but I’m not looking forward to the chaos of being understaffed and under-supervised (I am, however, looking forward to being under-supervised). My reaction to this news was to update my resume. I don’t really want a new job but I am open to a new job. You just don’t know what will happen with a new boss. Will they be nice but ineffectual? A micromanager? Or perhaps a genuinely good boss? We shall see what happens.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

paperback book: The Bright and Breaking Sea. Photo taken outside. Trees in are in the background and it's a sunny day.
The Bright and Breaking Sea

This week I read The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill. It’s an alternate history set around an alternate-universe Napoleonic War. The main character is Kit Brightling, a 24-year-old captain in the Queen’s navy who is also “aligned” with the magic of the sea. This was a fun read, however, I thought, for some reason, this was going to be a lesbian seafaring magic book but it was actually a heterosexual seafaring magic book. I’m not mad at it, but if you are looking for a lesbian romance and seafaring magic tale, this isn’t the one.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Bill Gates says no to sharing vaccine formulas with global poor to end pandemic via Salon. This one is outrageous. Maybe billionaires aren’t the right people to go to to manage a global health crisis? I can’t imagine having the audacity to say that other countries can’t manufacture a vaccine when so many people are dying. Other countries manufacture practically everything else for people who live in the U.S.!
  • Your pain, their gain via The Ink. I’m sharing this piece mostly just to share this quote with you, “Philanthropy isn’t charity. It’s a business deal.” Looking at you, Bill Gates!
  • How the pandemic led to a rental car crisis just as Americans are ready to busy loose via The Washington Post. In the early pandemic, I shared a few articles about supply chain issues and how “lean” manufacturing practices led to a lot of problems when demand suddenly changes. Now that we’re a over a year into the pandemic, a lot of rental car companies have sold off their fleets to save money. As soon as that happened, people started getting vaccinated and wanted to go places and rent cars so now it costs $200 to day to rent one. Good thing I still don’t have any vacations planned!
  • The spellbinding history of cheese and witchcraft via The Conversation. I don’t think this requires any explanation.

Rampant Consumerism

My independent bookstore purchase for April came from Green Apple Books in San Francisco. I bought The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun. I think you should all be proud of me because I have already finished the books I bought in March! I’ve really been investing in reading books I already have this year (and reading what I buy instead of letting it languish).

two paperback books: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun
April independent bookstore purchase!

Making Things and Doing stuff

There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.

Languages

April is over. I did things! Spanish is continuing apace. I finished the book I was reading and started a new one, plus I’ve been meeting with my tutor every week. I brought Icelandic back into my schedule this month. I’ve been watching episodes of krakkafréttir (kids’ news) and looking up words I encounter there. I’ve learned a lot about how to talk about vaccines and the pandemic, so that’s fun. I haven’t heard back from my tutor, which is unfortunate. I think I’m going to find someone new but I’m not quite ready yet.

Knitting and Crafts

I am proud to report that I have learned to fix a dropped stitch after finishing a project. I’ve now done it twice. I had to fix one I missed on the shawl I shared last week, but I had been meaning to learn for months now. This sock has been waiting for a while for its repair. Like many things I put off, this was actually very simple once I looked it up. I’m happy to have these socks back in my rotation.

Moving It

me, wearing a helmet and sunglasses, flashing a peace sign at teh skate park. A young woman on skates drops into a halfpipe behind me.
outside and not knowing what to do with my face

I went skating after over a year of not skating and I can hardly believe it! After my sprain last February, pandemic, fire season, and general lethargy, I hadn’t had much interest in rolling around on my wheelie shoes. I saw some friends post that they were going to a skate park near me on Tuesday night so I decided to rip that non-skating bandaid off and go for it. I was pleasantly surprised with myself! I can still competently skate forwards, backwards, and one-footed! I even got in the halfpipe. Note I did not drop into the halfpipe, but I did hop in and start learning how to “pump,” which is plenty of excitement for me at this time.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here is Huey in the hammock for your nerves.

a close-up photo of Huey's face in profile with the hammock in the background
Huey in the hammock

Two Weeks in the Life: April 25, 2021

The big news of the last two weeks is that Kirk and I are now fully vaccinated! I’m glad we can start to feel safe while out in the world but I think it’s going to take a long time to feel emotionally normal about being in public and interacting with other people. It’s been a long year and I’m not there yet. I did, however, go to ballet class in the studio yesterday and I was happy about that. It’s much easier to dance there than at home on carpet!

Now that I’m vaccinated, I’m trying to take care of some in-person things I’ve been putting off, like going to the dentist (my appointment is next month) and seeing my doctor. I’m happy to report that I switched my primary care doctor to someone who doesn’t seem as interested in antagonizing me about my weight. My previous doctor seemed good but I would put off seeing her because she was harsh about my weight. I recognize the doctor has to talk about it, but they can definitely do it without being an asshole.

I’m currently in a new health saga related to my ears. I’m having a hard time hearing lately; everything feels muffled. I told my doctor I thought my ears were full of gunk so she sent me to get them flushed out. Unfortunately, flushing my ears out didn’t do much and I still can’t hear. The doctor I saw thinks it’s an allergy issue, which, I suppose I am due for after 10 years living in this land of super-saturated pollen. I’ve been prescribed an allergy pill and a nasal spray so we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, if you see me in person, don’t be shocked if I ask you to repeat yourself.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

In the last two weeks I read:

  • My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee. I was not ready for this book at all. It came in my Powell’s Indiespensible subscription and I knew nothing about it before reading. It starts out pretty normal and escalates to complete absurdity. It’s a story about being young and directionless and where life can take you. It was a wild read.
  • How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict by Nina Jankowicz. This is a good read if, like me, you are low-key obsessed with understanding Russian influence on our current political climate. The author looks at various European countries (Ukraine, Poland, the Netherlands, and others) and describes how Russia has launched disinformation campaigns to undermine their governments. It’s a helpful book in understanding that this is a global problem, not just an American one.
  • González & Daughter Trucking Co.: A Road Novel with Literary License by María Amparo Escandón. This was a fun read. I’ve been working to read all the books on my shelves so I took on this one, which I got last year in my custom book bundle for Last Bookstore L. A. This novel is the story of a girl growing up on the road with her dad who becomes a trucker in the U.S. after fleeing a revolution in Mexico. The story is told from the perspective of the girl as an adult in a Mexican women’s prison. I thought it was an enjoyable read overall, if not mind-blowing.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

Rampant Consumerism

After four years of use, my hammock stand was losing structural integrity so I decided to get a nice, new hammock stand. Now I have this amazing, viking-longship-looking structure gracing my back patio. So far I like it! It feels really sturdy and it looks nice too. Of course, as soon as we got it, the weather turned windy and cold to mock me, so I haven’t been able to sit out there much yet. I’m looking forward to more hammock time soon.

a large, wooden hammock stand set up on my back patio
new hammock stand

Making Things and Doing stuff

There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.

Knitting and Crafts

It feels good to finish something! Today I finished the “mystery knitalong” from Hands on Knitting Center that my mom bought me for Christmas the year before last. This is an interesting pattern because it’s like a sampler of different textures and styles. I like the colors of this yarn a lot too. You can’t tell from the pictures, but it did end up a little wonky. When my stitch count was off, I’d just add another stitch (assuming I’d dropped one) to try to even things out. In the end, one end was much wider than the other. I’m sharing this to chuckle at myself. I’m glad I’m able to knit and not be a stressed-out perfectionist about it. If I’m wearing it, no one will notice or care that it’s “wrong” compared to my pattern.

Kitchen Witchery

I mentioned last month that I was going to try drying some herbs. Well, here are the results! I left the herbs in the garage for about three weeks. I probably could have brought them in after two weeks, but honestly I kept forgetting about them. I ended up using my new herb grinder for this job, which worked great. I’m not sure if drying herbs is worth the trouble given how easy it is to buy them, but I’m glad I know how to do it and I’m happy to preserve what we grew.

Last weekend I tried two recipes from the Feast of the Islamic World cookbook. I made Ramadan cookies filled with wanuts (Ramadan kareem, by the way!) and a lentil polow. The cookies were flavored with rose and orange blossom waters. I reduced their amount but it was still a little strong. Kirk and I determined we didn’t much care for the cookie texture. I’m not sure if I did something wrong or if it’s just different than how I picture a cookie. The lentil polow (a rice and lentils dish) was really good. It was flavored with saffron and topped with fried onions. I’ve been eating the leftovers all week by using it as quesadilla filling. This is not traditional but it is tasty. Finally, this wasn’t in the cookbook, but I must recommend this cauliflower recipe. It’s so good!

I was in a mood for new recipes last weekend so I also baked Norwegian crescent buns from the Nordic Baking Book. These are like crescent rolls I’ve made before, but not so buttery. They were really good with jam.

I’ve been working to clear out my freezer so last week I made some vegetarian enchiladas to use the bag of frozen butternut squash that’s been sitting there for a year. I didn’t use a recipe for this, just let the spirit move me. I seasoned some beans and the squash and topped it with jack cheese and enchilada sauce. It was not the world’s best enchilada, but it was respectable.

Today I felt the need for bread and tried this Vermont whole wheat oatmeal honey bread. I already want to eat it all. It has a bit of sweetness and the texture is great. A++ will bread again.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Every few weeks, Huey chooses a new location in the house to be her favorite spot. Her current selection is the top of this chair in my office, hanging out with these stuffed animals.

A Week in the Life: April 11, 2021

I don’t feel like writing a lot of big thoughts today and I almost skipped the blog this weekend. However, I realized I at least wanted to talk about what I’ve been reading and share a Huey photo (which I know you all live for). So, here I am.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

book cover of We Ride Upon Sticks, taken outside while I'm lying in the hammock. The cover is bright pink and has a late 80s style
We Ride Upon Sticks

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry is a novel that encapsulates everything I love about roller derby without being about roller derby at all. The story is told from the collective perspective of the Danvers High School 1989 women’s field hockey team. Before the school year begins, the team makes a magical pact that, they claim, insists they do dark deeds in exchange for improved field hockey performance. The story is a modern take on the Salem witch trials (sans trials; only teen witches) and celebrates the power in young women doing whatever they fucking want. This was tons of fun to read and made me want to sign up for field hockey and dance naked in the woods under the light of the moon.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Meet the introverts who are dreading a return to normal via The Washington Post. It’s me. I’m introverts.
  • Work isn’t fulfilling because capitalism is a death march via Truthout. This is an interview with Sarah Jaffe, author of Work Won’t Love You Back. I really like reading these frank takes about our relationship with work.
  • Free donuts were never the problem via Food & Wine. Yes, I am sharing more articles about the hysteria surrounding the Krispy Kreme donuts-for-the-vaccinated promotion. From the article: “But as a fat person, I have watched in distress and anger as acquaintances posted memes about gaining weight in quarantine. I have ingested the collective absolute dread and horror of maybe looking … like me? Is there a size limit to human dignity? Apparently some people think so.”

TV and Music

I saw Amazon advertising Coming 2 America, the sequel to the 1988 movie Coming to America, and realized I’d never seen the original so why not watch it. Coming to America was sort of fun, if very much of its era (as all things are). There’s a weird layer of sexism in it that seems to be typical in 80s movies. The movie was entertaining overall, but it was not what I expected. I thought a movie about a prince from a fictional African country who travels to New York would be about racism. Not so. Coming to America takes place in a world where racism is maybe in the background but the movie doesn’t address it head on. Coming 2 America was a lot more entertaining for me, which didn’t surprise me because I knew I’d be able to get more of the references and it would mesh with modern sensibilities. I was impressed by the number of actors from the original movie who appeared in the sequel. It made me laugh. What more can I really ask for?

Rampant Consumerism

an open box of chocolate showing 16 small truffles garnished with a variety of toppings
Vosges chocolate truffles

I continued my regularly scheduled snack deliveries this month by sampling some chocolate from Vosges. I tried the milk chocolate truffles plus some of their easter treats. This is really good chocolate. It’s pricey but delicious.

Making Things and Doing stuff

There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.

Languages

I am happy to report that I finished reading a book in Spanish. Even though this is increasingly frequent, I am still proud when I do it. The book: Vagabundos by Hao Jingfang. This is a translation from Chinese, so why not read it in Spanish instead of English? I found it while browsing the Kobo store for ebooks in Spanish. I’m learning it’s much easier to read books in other languages digitally because I can look up words in the moment, “highlight” them, then add them to my flashcards later. I don’t have to interrupt my reading to get an immediate answer if I’m not sure what something means. It’s a game changer.

The book itself was okay. This is a very slow read that features a lot of people talking and not a whole lot of action. It’s set on Mars and features a group of Martian teens who have recently returned from four years of study abroad on Earth. When they come home, they start noticing all the restrictive features of Martian society. I’m not sure if I was suffering from a lack of understanding, but I felt like certain aspects of the story didn’t go anywhere. I thought I would be relatively at home reading a science fiction novel, but I think it was more philosophical than anything, which made it, at times, a hard read.

Kitchen Witchery

My friend Mandy told me that I need to start sharing some food photos that prove that sometimes I’m “slumming it” like everyone else when it comes to cooking. I thought everyone tacitly understood that I don’t go all out every day, but I was wrong. Since I have no interesting foods to show you this week, please accept this picture of a meal we had a few days ago: salad and cup noodles. Now you know.

a bowl of salad and a cup noodles with a tiny bowl inverted on top (to keep the heat in while it cooks)
an unremarkable meal

Cat Therapy

Finally, here is a some cat photo for your nerves. Huey lies around like this often and it always makes me laugh.

Huey the cat lying on her side with her front paws tucked in and her back legs straight out
a common Huey pose

A Week in the Life: April 4, 2021

me at age 14, wearing jeans and a jacket, sunglasses on top of my head, smiling at the camera from the stands at the Globe theater in London
me, age 14, sitting in the stands of the Globe theater

I was talking to a friend this week and I mentioned that I lived in England when I was 14. She was surprised and I realized I hadn’t told her this story. I take it for granted that this is something people know about me, but I shouldn’t. So here it is: when I was in ninth grade, my then-step-mom was in a teacher exchange program. She, my younger sister, one of my step-sisters and I lived in London for a year. My step-mom taught there while a teacher from London lived in our town and taught my step-mom’s class. We lived on a street called Eastcombe Road and I went to the John Roan School. The school was right next to Greenwich Park, and I’d roam the park every day with my friends during lunch. My step-mom dragged us to practically every tourist attraction in the country, which is great except I was 14 and enjoyed it about as much as a teenager enjoys anything.

Content warning: next paragraphs talk about weight, dieting, and body image. Skip to the next heading if you don’t want to read this.

On the heels of this conversation, I went to dig out some photos to prove to myself I was there. My first thought? I can’t believe I ever thought I was fat. I thought I was so fat. I gained weight that year (as probably any 14-year-old girl should expect to) and, towards the end of our year abroad, my step-mom told me I needed to lose weight because, when we got home, people would see that I had “ballooned.” I remember looking at myself naked in the bathroom mirror and thinking that my butt was so big it resembled a horse. However, that didn’t make me not want to eat. It seemed like a problem with not solution because I was always hungry. I often spent my allowance on snacks. When my step-mom discovered the resultant trash in my garbage can, I got in trouble. She told me to go on a diet. I tried eating just fries and a slushie for lunch one day as part of my weight-loss effort. I thought it was working because I was hungry but she got mad at me for that too. I felt a lot of shame about being fat and about my eating habits. Once I ate most of a packet of cookies we had set aside for an after-dinner treat. I felt like I couldn’t stop myself from eating it even though I knew I’d be in trouble later. When the time came, my step-mom asked, “who ate these cookies?” I couldn’t bring myself to say anything but everyone knew it was me.

I wish the response had been one of compassion instead of shame.

I wish any adult in my life had told me it was normal to gain weight during puberty. I wish my parents had acknowledged that it’s normal for teenagers—yes, even girls—to be hungry and that teens are not finished growing. In fact, teens grow as much as toddlers do. Would anyone suggest a toddler shouldn’t eat?

I wish my dad and my step-mom hadn’t been ashamed of my body.

I read recently that restricted eating in children is associated with binge eating a year later. Dieting is literally what leads to being fat. The thing with believing you’re fat and people telling you you’re fat is that it’s easy to be or become fat. If I’m already fat and embarrassing, why not eat more cookies to deal with those emotions? It never felt possible to me to lose enough weight to be not-fat. Frankly, it still doesn’t.

It makes me sad to look back on my adolescence (and, let’s be honest, adulthood) and think about how much anguish was wasted on something that is ultimately trivial. I’m fat as an adult (I almost wrote I’m “still” fat. Yikes), but I have the emotional maturity and the knowledge to approach those feelings much differently than I did at 14. I do get anxious about my size in the world though. I often felt, in the B.C. (before Covid) times, that I was taking up too much physical space when browsing the aisles of the grocery store or sitting in the airplane seat I paid for.

I’ve been thinking about weight a lot since so many people have mad such a fuss about it during this pandemic. You would think that gaining some weight—really, any amount of weight—is preferable to catching a virus that could kill you or result in long-term disability. Is being fat really that bad? Are fat people not as cool, kind, or smart as thin people? I’m as fat as I’ve ever been but I’m alive and healthy.

I wish I could send some reassurance to 14-year-old me. You’re not fat, my love, but even if you are, it’s okay. Because I can’t send myself a message in a bottle, I have to content myself with doing my part to make sure my friends and young people now don’t have to feel as terrible as I did. Let’s keep radicalizing the youth.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

In non-fiction reads, I finished Ijeoma Oluo’s Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America. Mediocre takes on multiple areas of modern American life and explains how the white men in charge have adjusted the system in the favor. Oluo covers the history of topics like cowboys, sports, and women in politics, tracing the problems we have today back to their roots. This book isn’t about hating men or hating white people. It shows how we all suffer under our current, man-made system. I liked it a lot. It’s a very accessible book and it was interesting to see how our current problems connect to each other and to our history.

In novels, I read The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. I got this book in one of my Powell’s Indiespensable installments as a bonus read with another Kushner novel, the Mars Room, which I liked quite a lot. The Flamethrowers was an earlier novel and it has her same writing style, which I like, but I didn’t like the story as much. The Flamethrowers is set in 1970s New York. The protagonist, a young woman who has recently moved to NYC from Reno, Nevada after finishing art school, falls in with a crowd of absolutely insufferable artists. I am confident that the purpose of the book was to make these people insufferable. Unfortunately, it was, at times, hard to want to keep reading. I got excited when, partway through the book, the protagonist stumbled into an Italian protest movement. I thought, well, we’re going somewhere now. Folks, we weren’t going anywhere. That was a short interlude between tales of insufferable people. Read this book if you like to read about men lecturing women, 1970s art movements, people doing everything “ironically,” motorcycles, and eating the rich.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • CDC data suggests vaccinated don’t carry, can’t spread virus via New York Intelligencer. This is the BEST NEWS. A study based on about 4,000 health care workers “suggests those fully inoculated with the vaccines produced by Moderna and Pfizer don’t transmit the virus.” I’m so glad we have one less pandemic vector to worry about.
  • The world is going back to “normal.” For many people, that isn’t a good thing via Buzzfeed. This piece addresses many areas of “normalcy” that people don’t want to go return to, from commuting to work to frequent mass shootings. This resonated with me because I feel like things will never be normal again. Seeing how badly some people have behaved in this pandemic is knowledge I can’t erase. I also think about how many people can really benefit from more flexible work arrangements and that companies may go 100 percent back to the office. This pandemic is terrible. The least we can do for ourselves is re-evaluate what we need from our society.
  • We are all fragile creatures: The manufactured moral panic of a free Krispy Kreme doughnut via Roxane Gay’s newsletter, The Audacity. If you missed the recent discourse around Krispy Kreme offering doughnuts to people who have been vaccinated: you’re better off. If you’re following it like I am, you will likely appreciate Gay’s take.

Rampant Consumerism

two books: We Ride Upon Sticks and The Bright and Breaking Sea. shown next to a flyer from the bookstore, Mysterious Galaxy
monthly book purchase

I am writing this post in April, but I ordered these books in March! My monthly independent bookstore purchase for March came from Mysterious Galaxy. I’m really looking forward to both the books I bought: We Ride Upon Sticks and The Bright and Breaking Sea.

Making Things and Doing stuff

There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.

Languages

I had been wanting to get back into studying Icelandic. Pieces of the language have been rattling around in my brain. This week I finally did something about it. Instead of slogging through stuff I’ve done before, I started a new study regimen for myself. I have been watching these Krakkafréttir (kids’ news) segments, looking up and learning words I don’t know, then watching them again. It’s kind of the “hard way” to learn but right now it’s working for me. I’m planning to keep at it for the month then try to get a tutor again in May. My current (previous?) teacher is living through the pandemic with two small children and doesn’t seem ready to work with students right now, which I can empathize with.

a notebook page summarizing my Spanish studies for March 2021, including class dates, and homework
March Spanish efforts

I’ve been trucking along with my Spanish studies too, having regular class and actually doing homework and things. I say I don’t like daylight saving time but maybe this increased light is actually doing something for me?

Kitchen Witchery

This week I tried a new pizza crust! I bought some of the King Arthur ’00’ flour and wanted to give it a try in a pizza. The pizza Italiana crust came out really good. I made two pizzas out of it so we each got our own toppings (Kirk likes a lot of onions and I prefer to have none. Marriage is compromise).

a homemade pizza on a rectangular sheet pan. Pepperoni, bubbly browned cheese, cashews and olives are on top
pizza time

As part of my baking self-education this year, I made chocolate croissants! You may recall I tried plain croissants for the first time in January—now I’m onto the next level! They turned out really flaky and delicious. My only complaint is that some of them unrolled a bit while baking, but I’m not really trying to impress anyone (except you!) so I think it’s okay. It was definitely worth the effort. Maybe next I will try my hand at almond croissants.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.