A Week in the Life: January 3, 2021

It’s 2021 and I have to go back to work tomorrow! I’m happy to be employed but I wish I didn’t have to work. Taking a week off has been really good. I read a lot of books and made foods, I played video games, and got myself organized for the things I want to do this year.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

Nicky Drayden’s Escaping Exodus is about future humans who fled the Earth and are living inside giant, space-faring beats. This is a weird, squishy sci-fi and I liked it a lot. It reminded me of Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, which also features a matriarchal space-faring society eking out a living on ships made of organic matter. Escaping Exodus takes a more class-focused lens and gives us a perspective into who suffers to keep society functioning. I’m always up for a sociological fiction so I thought this was a good read.

What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Fat by Aubrey Gordon is so good. It’s a perfect blend of research and personal experience as a fat woman. This book was a lot to take in. It’s good but terrible to see the statistics about how fat people are treated because I’m glad I’m not alone but also, fuck why are so many people so terrible? Research is pretty clear on the fact that dieting is not effective in the long-term, so why is our culture bent on demonizing fat people? Gordon posits that thin people have to see themselves as morally superior than fat people, otherwise they would need to acknowledge that body weight is largely luck, circumstance, and genetics instead of some kind of righteousness or good personal choices. This book is truly essential reading.

Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World is also a combination of memoir and data. Leslie Kern discusses cities and the fact that they have been designed by men for men’s needs—seeing “respectable” women in public is a relatively new phenomenon. She asks what cities would be like if women’s needs were accounted for? How might housing be organized so that women could work together to share child care and other labor? What could make women feel safe? This book didn’t blow my mind, probably because I had already read Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women, which chronicles the many ways that our environment favors men.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • America’s vaccine rollout is already a disaster via the Intelligencer. From the article: “As a country, we have only 40 million doses, and had aimed, according to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, to vaccinate 20 million by year-end. That’s bad enough. But we have administered only 2 million of those — barely 10 percent of the goal. At this rate, achieving sufficient vaccination to reach herd immunity and bring the pandemic to a close in the U.S. will take about seven years.” All I can say is ughhhh
  • Would you believe me if I said I was starving? via Talk Poverty. A reflection on being both poor and fat in keeping with what is apparently this week’s theme.
  • Fat lady attempts to get health care: An oral history via McSweeny’s. This is satire but I almost cried reading it because it is really resembles my experiences. I’ll never forget the time I went to the doctor because I was really sick and he was like “we need to talk about your BMI.” Bro, I am SICK.

TV and Music

I was excited to watch Wonder Woman 1984. That excitement was misplaced (spoilers ahead). The first Wonder Woman movie was a lot of fun because we see Diana being joyful and fighting for a better world. WW84 has none of that. Diana is lonely and spends all her time pining over a man who’s been dead since the last movie—which took place 70 years ago! She’s the greatest warrior in a generation, she stopped a god in the last movie, and now she’s spending all her time being sad about a man. Being sad for 70 years! I can’t get over that. This is not the paradigm of fully realized womanhood we need. I thought Diana was going to make friends with Barbara Minerva, who joins the museum staff where Diana works. But no, Barb is uncool and not in the cute way. I really did not appreciate Barbara’s story arc: she gets a magic wish to “be like Diana” and then starts getting strong, popular, and good at putting on flashy eyeliner. Do we need another version of the “let your hair down and take off your glasses to be a hot girl” trope? I argue no. There’s a lot of crazy shit in this movie (like Chris Pine’s character from the last movie doing a ‘Quantum Leap’ style body possession of an unsuspecting man. I’m not even going into this), the villain becoming a magic stone for making wishes, and Wonder Woman saving the world by whispering quietly to humanity. Next time I want a girl power pick-me-up, I’m going to watch Mad Max Fury Road or that scene from The Boys instead.

I think some people are going to be indignant about this but here it us: until this week I’d never listened to a whole Madonna album. I am passingly familiar with Madonna and obviously know her hits but she was not a fixture in my household’s musical landscape when I was young. In 12th grade, some school assembly had a 1980s-themed “name that tune” game and I got to be a contestant. I was super into new wave at the time, so I got almost every song within a few beats. I was not able to identify Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” despite fellow students shouting “MADONNA” at me. Alas. In any case, I listened to the “Madonna” and “Material Girl” albums this week to educate myself. They were fun. They sound a little dated now, in a way, but it was fun to hear some new-to-me songs.

Rampant Consumerism

The targeted ads got me again and I bought a scrubby thing that’s meant to replace bath poufs. Because I wanted free shipping, I also bought their weird toothbrush. Both the scrubber and the toothbrush feel quite nice, but the scrubber doesn’t seem to lather body wash up in as satisfying of a way. However, it does stick to the shower wall, which I like, and it’s supposed to be recyclable.

Making Things and Doing stuff

Languages

I had a mediocre showing in Spanish last month but did a fair amount of French. Good for me. I’m feeling re-energized this month (which seems normal for me this time of year). I’m really looking forward to taking the C1 DELE exam in Spanish so I am feeling motivated.

Kitchen Witchery

I had some leftover egg whites I needed to use (I’m stuck in a cycle of having too many whites or too many yolks). I tried out this coconut macaroon recipe, which I liked better than previous versions I’ve made. I also put some chocolate on top because why not. I used the rest of the egg whites on this white chocolate mousse because I wanted to try something different. It was delicious but so rich. I am rarely bested by a dessert, but I’ve had to portion this out over the last few days. I couldn’t eat much at once.

Outside of desserts, I had some fun cooking this week. Including a butternut squash and blue cheese tart with caramelized onions (recipe from Salt, Fat, Acid Heat), a chili (roughly based on this recipe), and biscuits and gravy. I actually made a cream biscuit for the biscuits and gravy because, although I thought I had bought buttermilk last week, I did not. Shame on me. Regardless, the cream biscuits were really good.

I love the new year and I love snacks, so I went wild with a snack-based dinner for new year’s eve. We had ranch dip with various accoutrements, plus a baked brie. Kirk bought me a gift basket of cheeses for Christmas (it’s true love), which included brie, so this seemed like the right time to eat it. I baked it with the awesome salted honey that my sister bought me and it was, in fact, delicious.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Huey has been enjoying the Christmas gifts.

2020: The 13th Annual Year in Books

I was really hoping I would beat my past reading record (90 books!) this year, but alas, it was not meant to be. I made it to 88 books, which makes 2020 the new second-place for my competition with myself to read the most books. Looking at past books of the year posts, I saw I had written this in 2017, “I made it through 62 books in 2017, which feels like a success considering the madness this year wrought.” All I can say is, wow, she didn’t know a damn thing.

  • Page count: 32,996 pages, based on the page numbers recorded in LibraryThing. When I read 90 books in 2014, the page count was 35,177 pages. So maybe I wouldn’t have beat my record anyway, were I to count pages.
  • Library use: 49 library books, 39 of my own books. Shout out to the library for keeping reading from being prohibitively expensive.
  • Female/male authors: 77 women authors, 10 men authors, 1 with a mix (from an anthology). This means about 88 percent of the books I read were by women. Come through, matriarchy.
  • Digital and analog: 47 digital, 41 paper. This stat doesn’t mean much, since I’m an equal-opportunity reader, but it is fun to see how things shake out each year.
  • Fiction and non-fiction: 56 fiction, 32 non-fiction. About one-third of this year’s books were non-fiction, which seems to be my new trend. Earth is full of interesting things.
  • Books in other languages: I read 8 books in Spanish, which I think is the most I’ve read in one year. It’s finally starting to feel more natural. It only took -checks notes- 10 years.
  • Favorites:

And now, the list!

Date FinishedTitleAuthor
1/3The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed HistoryKassia St. Clair
1/4Indelible in the Hippocampus: Writings From the Me Too MovementShelly Oria (editor)
1/5Rogue ProtocolMartha Wells
1/10Exit StrategyMartha Wells
1/12Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in ChinaLeta Hong Fincher
1/19The Mirror EmpireKameron Hurley
1/30Empire AscendantKameron Hurley
2/3La fruta del borrachero: Una novelaIngrid Rojas Contreras
2/4The Broken HeavensKameron Hurley
2/8Nine Pints: A Journey through Time, Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of BloodRose George
2/12The Sisters of the Winter WoodRena Rossner
2/16The Secret Lives of GlaciersM Johnson
2/18StormsongC. L. Polk
2/21The F*ck It Diet: Eating Should Be EasyCaroline Dooner
2/24The Secret ChapterGenevieve Cogman
3/2The Luminous DeadCaitlin Starling
3/10AutonomousAnnalee Newitz
3/12The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of PowerShosana Zuboff
3/18Mostly Dead ThingsKristen Arnett
3/21Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in ChinaLeta Hong Fincher
3/23DocileK. M. Szpara
4/1The Starless SeaErin Morgenstern
4/2UmamiLaia Jufresa
4/13Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of AmericaSarah Kendzior
4/13Little GodsMeng Jin
4/17The City We BecameN. K. Jemisin
4/19Women TalkingMiriam Toews
4/24How Rory Thorne Destroyed the MultiverseK. Eason
4/28The Glass HotelEmily St. John Mandel
5/2CarameloSandra Cisneros
5/4The Voyages of Cinrak the DapperA. J. Fitzwater
5/8GingerbreadHelen Oyeyemi
5/14Network EffectMartha Wells
5/16Los hombres me explican cosasRebecca Solnit
5/17The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about RaceJesmyn Ward (ed.)
5/20Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement ForgotMikki Kendall
5/24Ancestral NightElizabeth Bear
6/1The Night WatchmanLouise Erdrich
6/7American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and PowerAndrea Bernstein
6/12Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress CycleEmily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski
6/15The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s DaughterTheodora Goss
6/25European Travel for the Monstrous GentlewomanTheodora Goss
6/28Children of TimeAdrian Tchaikovsky
7/1El reino del dragón de oroIsabel Allende
7/5The Vanishing HalfBrit Bennett
7/8They Were Her Property: White Woman as Slave Owners in the American SouthStephanie E. Jones-Rogers
7/10The Long Way to a Small, Angry PlanetBecky Chambers
7/16Gods of Jade and ShadowSilvia Moreno-Garcia
7/21The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing GirlTheodora Goss
7/24GoldilocksLaura Lam
7/25A Closed and Common OrbitBecky Chambers
7/29Record of a Spaceborn FewBecky Chambers
8/4Children of RuinAdrian Tchaikovsky
8/8American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of PunishmentShane Bauer
8/16Harrow the NinthTamsyn Muir
8/24A BurningMegha Majumdar
9/1How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United StatesDaniel Immerwahr
9/1Technical Communication Today, 6th EditionRichard Johnson-Sheehan
9/6Empress of ForeverMax Gladstone
9/6Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce RacismSafiya Umoja Noble
9/11The First SisterLinden Lewis
9/16Miracle Country: A MemoirKendra Atleework
9/20Sistema nerviosoLina Meruane
9/25Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White NationalismSeyward Darby
10/1Feminismos: Miradas desde la diversidaded. Pikara
10/1Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout GenerationAnne Helen Petersen
10/6A Witch in TimeConstance Sayers
10/16MachineElizabeth Bear
10/19The Midnight BargainC. L. Polk
10/19Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the VoidMary Roach
10/25Mill Town: Reckoning with What RemainsKerri Arsenault
10/30The Once and Future WitchesAlix E. Harrow
10/31Beowulf: A New TranslationMaria Dahvana Headley
11/2PiranesiSusanna Clarke
11/5The Space Between WorldsMicaiah Johnson
11/6Sombras de ReikiavikAnthony Adeane
11/8Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and their Surprising Rise to PowerAnna Merlan
11/12Transcendent KingdomYaa Gyasi
11/20The Language Hoax: The World Looks the Same in Any LanguageJohn H. McWhorter
11/22The City of BrassS. A. Chakraborty
11/27The Kingdom of CopperS. A. Chakraborty
12/4The Empire of GoldS. A. Chakraborty
12/9Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked ProtestZeynep Tufekci
12/11Thick: And Other EssaysTressie McMillan Cottom
12/13The Empress of Salt and FortuneNghi Vo
12/22The Unreality of Memory and Other EssaysElisa Gabbert
12/27Escaping ExodusNicky Drayden
12/29What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about FatAubrey Gordon

2021: Let’s Do This I Guess

collage of pictures including a garden, a goat in a sweater, a woman lifting weights, a girl with an owl and a cat wearing sunglasses
2021 mood board

I know that all of our troubles won’t magically disappear at the stroke of midnight on January 1, but I wish they would. I’m thinking about what I want to do in 2021 with present conditions in mind. I hope that, by the end of the year, we’re all vaccinated and living our best covid-free lives. I know I’ll be last in line for a vaccine since I don’t have to talk to the public or care for anyone. I’m thinking about the year with that in mind and with nine months of pandemic experience.

Hobbies and Other Witchery

  • Books. My private goal in 2020 was to read 100 books. I didn’t make it, but I got close. This year I am making it a public goal: I want to read 100 books. This is mostly just to say I did it and see what it feels like to read that much. Besides, I don’t have much else going on. I also want to do my part to keep independent bookstores alive because they always have the best stuff. Something fun I want to do for myself is buy a book from a different bookstore each month. I can’t go anywhere interesting so I have to bring things to me.
  • Music. Make a point of listening to new (or new-to-me) music and finding stuff I like. Kirk bought me a lovely blue tooth speaker for Christmas so that will help.
  • Knitting. Knit a sweater! I’ve knit many small things (and one top), but I have yet to knit a sweater, which is the quintessential knitting activity. I have yarn and a pattern picked out for a big, chunky sweater and I’m looking forward to making and wearing it.
  • Baking. Expand my baking skills and try new things. I know in the not-too-distant future I want to try making croissants, donuts, and a babka. I’ve got my bread game going strong so now it’s time to branch out.
  • Cooking. I have a lot of great cookbooks and a number of them are about cuisines from other places. I can’t travel so I want to try travel by cooking. My general plan is to try a few recipes from another place every month, but we’ll see what my energy levels are like. I have already marked a few recipes to try from Peru: The Cookbook and Feast of the Islamic World.
  • Composting. Maybe this is weird, but I want to start composting. Why throw away all these food scraps when we can turn them into soil?

Languages

  • Spanish. I have talked about taking the DELE exam before and, in fact, had planned to do it in 2020. This year I’m going to do it for really real. I mean it. I’ve even sent in a registration form already. I’m trying to register for a date in November, when, one hopes, things will be fairly safe.
  • Icelandic. I want to get back into learning Icelandic this year. I have been thinking about it a lot without actually studying. I’m hoping my teacher will be available again, or perhaps she can refer me to someone else if not.
  • French. I started learning French again on a whim, so my plan this year is to keep at it as long as I’m having fun. I also want to find something to read or watch in the language that makes it more interesting for me.

Intangibles

  • Take it slow. It’s hard for me to relax and not fill all my time with activities. That’s a little bit because I get bored easily and a lot because of how I cope with anxiety: be too busy to worry about it. This year I want to work on taking things as they come and not overfilling my schedule for the sake of it. This is also going to be important when/if we can start living that non-pandemic life again. I know I’ll want to do everything at once, but I also know that will quickly overwhelm me. I don’t have to make up for “lost time” or anything like that. I want to ease back into things.
  • (Re-)establish routines. The most difficult part of 2020 was that basically all of our routines were destroyed. Now that pandemic life is more of a known quantity, I want to focus on resetting some routines and establishing new ones to get me through all this at-home time. I’ve particularly struggled with exercising regularly since exercise used to be an activity that happens outside of the house. I’m hoping to find a new rhythm for my days and work in some good habits. I’ve started flossing and have kept at it for the last two weeks so I know there is hope for me.
  • Community. I’ve been donating to causes but I want to get involved in something that will better my community. I’m not yet sure what form this will take but probably some kind of volunteering. I’ve learned from the last few years that we are all responsible for making society and our communities not suck. Now I have to start putting in some work.

A Year in the Life: 2020

It feels a little weird to write this post. I know a number of people have been sharing memes saying they don’t need any year-end posts to make them feel bad about whatever they have done or not done to get through the year. I can respect that. For me, doing stuff is what got me through the year. Even if it was low-key stuff like baking bread and knitting socks. I am, of course, in a different situation than many people since I work from home and I don’t have to take care of anyone. We’ve all coped with this year differently. This post is about what I did.

Looking back at what I said I wanted to do this year, I feel a number of things. Obviously I could not have anticipated the pandemic and how deeply it would affect us all this year, so goals about playing roller derby and keeping up with my weight lifting are moot. Other things seem almost prescient. I talk about wanting to be less wasteful and not buy shit I don’t need, which has definitely been part of the spirit of living through the pandemic. Living through the early pandemic in particular made me get better at using what food I have on hand and not throwing away those last bits of leftover meals, habits which I’ve worked on through the year. I’m not saying I’m “grateful” for the pandemic (because I’m really, really not), but it has demanded a certain amount of reflection and reconsideration of how I run my life and relate to others.

This year has been hard. I feel a kind of survivor’s guilt because it hasn’t been that hard for me in a lot of ways. I have a stable income and health insurance, I have a cozy home. But the social upheaval and the uncertainty of this year have been challenging. I definitely feel less patient and more emotionally raw, as I’m sure everyone does. I have tried to channel that into, alternately, empathy and helping the people around me as well as relaxing and caring for myself. It’s hard, but I’m trying.

Something nice: this is my first full year of regular blogging (I started in the middle of 2019). If you click on the “2020” tag, you can see everything I wrote this year. I’m really glad that I kept up the blog this year. With the days of pandemic life blurring into one another, I know without it I would have looked back on this year and asked “what the fuck happened?” Despite the pandemic (because of?) I did a lot of things. They weren’t the things I expected to do, but I did things.

Books and Media

I read a lot this year! I am going to post my books of the year list later this week (I’m not done reading yet!), but I’m currently at 87 books. My private goal this year was to read 100 books, which is clearly not going to happen. I feel good that I’ve gotten quite close though!

One aspect of being at home so much is I started being more purposeful about what media I consume. I realized I wasn’t listening to much music and organized some new playlists for myself to make it easier to enjoy music. I’ve been trying to listen to some new (or new to me) artists so I don’t get too set in my ways. I’ve also been watching more movies and purposely picking what I want to watch instead of getting lost in the infinite scroll of netflix streaming.

Rampant Consumerism

As you might guess, most of my rampant consumerism this year focused on buying stuff for my house, like baskets for organizing my closet and bins for my pantry. I also got an air purifier (shout out to California’s worst fire season) and a rowing machine/exercise bike since it became more or less impossible to leave the house this summer between the heat and the ash. I also put a lot of effort into emergency kits. I can’t personally do much about the pandemic or the fires, but it does reassure me a little to have some emergency supplies in place.

Making Things and Doing stuff

Did you know I had to work at my job all year long? It’s ridiculous but true. I don’t write about work a lot, but I did a lot of fucking work this year. Pandemic notwithstanding, we did a lot of proposals and I took on projects like trying to help people understand how to write and organizing our reusable content. It feels really insane to me that many aspects of regular life have continued as normal while 300,000 Americans died of coronavirus this year. I’m lucky that my boss is understanding about how it feels to be alive right now and hasn’t demanded anything ridiculous. I’m a little affronted that we’ve had to keep working at all. Compartmentalization is at an all-time high.

Languages

Studying, at times, offered a good distraction from pandemic life. It’s an act of optimism to keep at it; a belief that I’ll eventually be able to go somewhere and talk to new people.

I really thought this was going to be the year I’d take the C1 DELE exam and validate my Spanish skills once and for all, but the pandemic has made fools of us all. That said, I did a lot of reading and studying in Spanish this year and I’m feeling pretty good about my skills. I even translated my voting guide into Spanish! I also started making efforts to do some volunteer translating work. I did a couple of small jobs and then it fell off my radar. Something to renew my efforts in for 2021!

Unfortunately, I didn’t work on Icelandic at all this year. My teacher was taking maternity leave and then the pandemic hit and I couldn’t muster the energy to study on my own. However, in a surprise twist, I did start studying French again, inspired by taking up ballet. I took three years in college but forgot a lot of it. It’s been interesting to get back to it, although I don’t love it as much as Icelandic (that’s right, I have favorites).

Knitting and Crafts

I went hard on knitting this year. I knit five pairs of socks! Ten whole socks! No wonder I feel like I want a break from sock knitting. I also knit an awesome top and two shawls. Many of these were gifts because who doesn’t love a handmade sock or shawl?

Moving It

As far as exercise is concerned, this year would have been cursed for me, pandemic or not. I started off the year strong but sprained my ankle in February (a lifetime ago, by many reckonings). I had fun taking a few turns at coaching before coronavirus took us all out of the game. With pandemic boredom getting me down and looking for something to help my ankle rehab, I took up ballet in the summer. I didn’t really know if I would like it, but I have enjoyed it a lot. It’s been a good counterpoint to roller derby because I have to use my body in very different ways.

Kitchen Witchery

I looked back at the food photos I posted this year and noticed three trends: bread, charcuterie boards, and treats.

I made a lot of bread this year. Of course, this includes some springtime sourdough, which I made like everyone else. I like sourdough but learned that I don’t like the commitment to regular baking. Once the weather started warming up, I abandoned the project. I still made a lot of great breads and expanded into some more labor intensive breads like pumpkin knots and Poğaça rolls.

These aren’t technically charcuterie boards since I don’t have much meat involved, but this year saw a lot of snack board/charcuterie/shark coochie art. Am I a basic bitch or am I finding classy ways not to make dinner? You decide.

Finally, because eating is one of the few reliable coping mechanisms remaining to us in this pandemic year, I made a lot of treats. Some might even say it was too many treats (It’s Kirk. Kirk might say this). I tried some new stuff like cream pies, battenburg cake, and macarons. I also revisited some favorites like cookies and toffee.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some of the year’s best cat photos for your nerves. Huey and Viola turned 12 years old this year.

A Week in the Life: December 26, 2020

It’s Christmas and I’m on vacation! We had a nice Christmas at home and I don’t have to go back to work until after the new year, so I’m feeling good about my life right now. Kirk and I like to keep Christmas low key so I didn’t really feel I was missing out on much because of the pandemic. I hate Christmas travel, so I don’t do it. That said, I am missing my family and friends. It’s hard to believe that the pandemic here has dragged on for nearly the whole year. A friend of mine who lives in Thailand told me that, after the initial wave of the pandemic, life there went mostly back to normal for much of the year, even though they’re going back into a lockdown now. Must be nice.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

I rarely write about books I didn’t finish but I read half of Firas Alkhateeb’s Lost Islamic History: Reclaiming Muslim Civilisation from the Past and I have opinions. My first thought: lost for whom? I kept waiting for some “lost” history to show up but it didn’t happen. To be fair, I may not be this book’s intended audience; I have a bachelor’s degree in near eastern civilizations. I thought most of the information in the book was pretty basic middle eastern/Islamic history. Might I have learned something if I read the second half of the book? We don’t know. I had to return it to the library today and I made the decision to triage my loans and not finish this one.

In books I did finish (and that are due to the library today) is The Unreality of Memory: And Other Essays by Elisa Gabbert. I don’t even know how to describe this essay collection, but it’s really good. She wrote it before the pandemic, but every essay feels like it’s from the present moment. Gabbert deals with a Trump presidency, disasters, climate, and how it feels to live right now, in what we all seem to agree seems like the end of the world. These are really well written and proactive essays. I highly recommend it.

Meanwhile on the internet:

  • Does anyone really buy the giant bows you see in every commercial? via Vox. This article is two years old but it’s new to me so I’m sharing it. I was intrigued by this tale of businesses making giant bows and the people who buy them.
  • Rewriting the Future: Using Science Fiction to Re-Envision Justice via Walidah Imarisha. Also a little old but in my recent saved readings. This talks about how important speculative fiction is for reshaping real life.
  • Defund the Crime Beat via NiemanLab. From the article: “This should be the year where we finally abolish the crime beat. Study after study shows how the media’s overemphasis on crime makes people feel less safe than they really are and negatively shapes public policy around the criminal–legal system. And study after study shows that it’s racist and inhumane.”

TV and Music

We watched all three of the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies this week, which neither us of had seen before. They were cute, but I, as is my custom, have a lot of questions. Like: if dragons are an apex predator, how can there be so many of them? If it’s that easy to tame a dragon, how come no one (well, almost no one) had done it before? For that matter, why are they violent at all? They seem like big, flying cats. Who provoked those dragons? I’ve also concluded, based on the events of the last movie, that these events took place before recorded history, since (spoilers?) all the dragons disappeared until humans are responsible enough to interact with them without being assholes. Does that mean we will have dragons when (if?) we achieve world peace? Is that a real incentive? Introducing dragons to humanity seems like a quick way to disrupt that newly minted world peace.

Sidebar: I recently made an account on letterboxd, which is an app for logging movies you watch. I’ve been trying to watch more movies and thought noting what I watch would be fun—it works for me for reading. If you want to follow me, you can find me as linzomatic. I like movies but I usually don’t want to commit to watching a whole movie. I like watching TV because it comes in short chunks. However, I often end up watching multiple episodes of a show at once, so I might as well watch a movie.

Making Things and Doing stuff

a ballet barre made from pvc pipe
homemade ballet barre

My dance studio is, of course, taking a break for the next few weeks. With that in mind, and the feeling that we’re going to be back to online-only class for a while (thanks, pandemic and everyone being shitty about it!), I decided to make my own barre! I’d been using the back of a chair when practicing at home and it is not very satisfying. There are a few tutorials out there for making a barre from PVC pipe—I liked this one the best. It was pretty easy to do and only cost me about $40 in materials. The hardest part was getting all the right size connectors. For now, I’ve got the barre in my office so I can get in a few pliés when I’m bored during meetings.

Knitting and Crafts

I was so pleased with how the gnome socks came out! They look wonderful. Unfortunately, I knit them too tight and Kirk cannot get them on his feet. I’m distressed! I think, for this kind of color work, you have to keep the knit very loose and I didn’t. I’m not actually sure though since this was my first time.

My next knit is a shawl because, as much as I love socks, I need a break (there will be many more socks in the future though since Kirk got me the 52 Weeks of Socks book for Christmas). My mom bought me a cool knit-a-long (a kit where you get yarn and a pattern that’s released a little bit at a time) last Christmas, but I didn’t knitalong, I saved it all for when the full pattern was released. The yarn is very soft and it seems like a fun knit. I’m looking forward to chilling out and knitting it this week.

Kitchen Witchery

After spending the last few weeks making Christmas treats, I was a little low on baking energy and interest for Christmas itself, which was totally fine. I did bake a loaf of rye bread to accompany the clam chowder we had on Christmas eve (a tradition from Kirk’s family. If I had my druthers we’d be eating enchiladas, but marriage is compromise). On Christmas itself, Kirk made Swedish meatballs, which is the Christmas dinner tradition we’ve chosen to adopt. I made a chocolate cream pie for dessert (recipe from the Kitchenista Holiday Recipe Collection). It was so good and a welcome change in the holiday dessert rotation.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. The kitties got a crinkly tube for Christmas. I was expecting zooming but so far they mostly seem content to chill in it. They also got a heated bed, which neither of them are interested in sitting in. Naturally.

Two Weeks in the Life: December 19, 2020

We are embracing Christmas this year, not the least because I am highly invested in putting up lots of lights. We finally got some lights to put up on the outside of the house, which I have wanted but we had struggled with the logistics. Kirk finally found a solution he was happy with and now we have delightful outside lights. We decorated our tree too, although it took us a week from getting the tree to decorating it. Life in the pandemic moves at its own pace. Life in the pandemic is also a lot of being in and around my house, so it might as well by shiny.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

The trouble with skipping a week on the blog is now I have to remember what happened in all the books I read the previous week (in a surprise twist, I haven’t read anything since last weekend. My brain is tired). I had so many thoughts about them, but didn’t write them down, so you’re getting the abbreviated version today.

  • Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom. This was great. Cottom frames this as a series of personal essays, explaining that the personal essay is one of the only genres of opinion afforded to black writers. She talks about race, capitalism, politics, and how they all intersect. She writes about being the wrong kind of black and “knowing your whites.” This collection will give you plenty to think about.
  • Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci. This is technically a narrow topic—how protests and twitter come together—but there’s so much to be said about how different movements have used twitter to organize and hold power to account. Tufekci focuses on the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the Gezi Park protests in Turkey and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.S. I like seeing a serious discussion of twitter, often considered a frivolous application, being used in serious, world-changing ways. I also really appreciated the chapter on power and how we build it and hold politicians to account. Recommended for anyone looking to better understand the politics and realities of protest movements.
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo. This was a quick read but had some cool world building for something so short. Court intrigue, wandering scholars, and a coup. It was fun and I’m definitely going to read the next book in the series.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • The real reason local newspapers are dying via Men Yell at Me. The argument here boils down to newspapers not giving people what they need, so why would people pay for the paper? If a newspaper acts as a PR machine or only represents the interests of a rich owner, people don’t want it. Journalists are supposed to speak truth to power, and that’s happening less and less.
  • Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic via Washington Post. This makes me sad and it makes me angry. You know what people are shoplifting the most? Baby formula. We have failed as a society.
  • The Wife Glitch via The Baffler. On women’s work, compensating that work, and tech companies. From the article: “How strange and predictable it is, then, that wages for housework have, at last, become widespread—but in the form of our subscription to digital services and gig economy labor. This work has become concretely valuable at the precise moment its value can be effectively captured by a small cadre of men sitting at the top of the tech industry.”

TV and Music

We’ve started watching Star Trek: Picard, which is fun. Kirk (my spouse, not Captain James T.) says it’s not really a Star Trek show. It’s the equivalent of the Star Wars franchise calling something “A Star Wars Story.” You get a character you know and love but doing something entirely different and with a new cast of characters. I’ve been thinking of it as “Picard Solves a Mystery” more than anything.

Rampant Consumerism

a package of cocofloss and a sticker that says "floss daily"
making flossing fun?

Sometimes targeted ads show me something that I actually buy. In this case: cocofloss. I do not love flossing—but then, who does? One thing I hate about flossing and brushing my teeth is the flavor. I don’t like mint so I have this extra level of not wanting to do it. So I was really excited about cocofloss because it has alternate flavors. So far I’ve tried the coconut and it smells really pleasant. I also like that you can order “refill” floss and keep using the little case.

a long strand of lights wound around on the floor, light in rainbow colors
Setting up the new Twinkly lights

Much more exciting: lights! I hang colorful lights in the living room for Halloween and Christmas. Kirk discovered these programmable lights from a company called Twinkly. You can set them to different colors using a phone app. They have preset patterns you can use or you can make your own designs. It’s really cool! We just put them up this afternoon and I love them already. I posted a video on my instagram so you can see some different effects.

Making Things and Doing stuff

The December of Rare Household Tasks continues apace. I’ve dusted the bookcases and beaten back their chaos. I ran the self-clean on the oven for the first time ever. I know intellectually that all an oven can do is be hot so I don’t know why it surprised me to learn that the oven’s self-clean function is just … getting really hot. So, I ran that but then still had to wipe it down with some vinegar. These are the tasks that no one tells you about when you become an adult. We finally replaced the light bulbs in our bathroom too. Four of the eight had burned out so we replaced the lot of them with some of those cool bulbs with a spiral filament. This is a lot of words to say: we’ve been adulting pretty hard over here. I even cleaned the windows.

Moving It

I was delighted in my ballet class today because we spent about half of it learning a short choreography to “Let It Snow,” which we then danced for our own pleasure with no audience. It wasn’t much but it was satisfying to put a few moves together after six months (time flies! and also crawls!) of ballet lessons. We have a break from class for the next couple of weeks because of the holidays, which is good but ballet has been my only out-of-the-house experience lately, so I’m a little bummed out. Maybe I will feel feisty and do some extra practice at home.

Kitchen Witchery

You may recall that, before Thanksgiving, Kirk held a pantry intervention and made me clean out the spice cabinet. That lasted for all of five minutes before I got some new things that didn’t fit. Fortunately, I have now solved the problem by buying some of these organizer bins. I’m super happy with how this looks! Now I can’t lose anything to the back of the pantry. Like sprinkles. Apparently I just keep buying sprinkles and then they disappear to the back of the shelf. They have their own bin now.

I’ve been doing a lot of holiday baking because I’m going full mom this year and delivering baked goods to a few friends. My cookbook club is doing a cookie exchange tomorrow and I have made “million peso shortbread” (this recipe, but add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the shortbread and about a 1/4 tsp of ancho chili powder to the chocolate) and toffee (not pictured). I had fun trying these sesame blossom cookies, which have tahini in them, and another fudge variation, featuring dulce de leche. I haven’t only made cookies (just mostly). I tried this chicken gnocchi soup recipe and it was quite tasty. It’s going into my rotation of things to make again.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: December 5, 2020

It’s December, which is exciting for me because I love advent calendars. Starting my day with a piece of chocolate is great and we should do it year round.

Less thrilling: it’s become Rare Household Tasks Month here. This week I cleaned and dusted our laundry room (and made Kirk vacuum up all the dryer fuzz trapped behind the machine) and cleaned the hard water deposits out of the shower head (link in case you, too, require this knowledge). Obviously we’re not cleaning in anticipation of guests—what guest would dare to criticize a laundry room anyway—but I’m trying to set myself up to actually relax later this month. I’m planning to take vacation between Christmas and New Year’s. Since both holidays are on a Friday, it equates to ten consecutive days without work for the low, low price of only four vacation days. I know myself and if I don’t get some household stuff done before I’m on vacation, I’ll fill all my time up with things like cleaning the windows instead of the relaxation I want, need, and deserve.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

book cover of Empire of Gold shown on kobo ereader
Empire of Gold

This week I read the third and last book in the Daevabad trilogy, The Empire of Gold. It was so good! I love this series. It has been the perfect escapism lately. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil anything for people who want to read the series.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Aubrey Gordon on Dealing with Aggressive Fatfobia via Lithub. This article is heavy but accurate in describing the experience of being fat in the world. I thank the author for giving us the term “fatcalling” because I’d never had a good word to describe the phenomenon of random people shouting at me because they object to my fatness.
  • Scented candles: An unexpected victim of the COVID-19 pandemic via Kate Petrova on twitter. Negative reviews of scented candles claiming that the candles have “no scent” have correlated to rises in coronavirus cases. Fascinating. (note: one symptom of coronavirus is losing your sense of smell or taste).

Also on the internet: newsletters. I’ve been subscribing to a bunch of them via substack. It’s all the fun of blogs except it comes to your email. Here’s a selection of some really good ones from the last week:

  • Small Data, Big Implications from Zeynep Tufekci. A close look at a small study that examined just a few cases of people who got infected with coronavirus in a restaurant. This isn’t a newsletter just about ‘rona, but I thought this particular entry was very interesting.
  • Essay: The King Herself from Mona Eltahawy. I love the power in Eltahawy’s essays. Rage, hair, embracing yourself, and a fat dose of fuck the patriarchy come through in this one.
  • Here’s the real danger with the “to hell with Trump voters” argument from The White Pages. This newsletter is about the work of white people helping other white people to be less racist and how this is really a problem of community. This particular installment gave me a lot to think about in regards to the unglamorous labor of bringing fellow white people around.
  • The Mom Does It from Anne Helen Petersen. I’ve shared Petersen’s work before; everything she writes is a gut punch of truth. This essay is about the work of “moms” (actual mothers or people who take on the “mom” labor for their group) and the holidays.

TV and Music

We watched the new season of Animaniacs this week and I’ve had the theme song stuck in my head—dueling with the original version of the theme song. It somehow feels exactly how I remember it while poking fun at contemporary topics from Trump to designer donuts. I read an article about how the animators redesigned the characters to modernize them. This is interesting to me because the show to a non-expert in animation, seems exactly like the 1990s version. Yet, it’s not.

I also felt compelled to watch Happiest Season on Hulu because lesbian Christmas movie. I went into this having already been warned by lesbians that it was not, indeed, the happiest. But did I listen? No. I watched it and yelled at the TV/into the void for the whole thing. Kristen Stewart was good and Dan Levy’s classic anxiety gay character was, obviously, delightful, but this is not the lesbian Christmas movie we deserve. If you want to read about it and skip watching it, I recommend this article (also recommended if you watched it and need to process).

Rampant Consumerism

coway airmega air purifier in my house
new baby

I’ve had my eye on this air purifier since fire season two years ago when the sky was sepia-toned and it seemed the world would end. After this year’s apocalyptic repeat, I finally womaned up and bought the damn thing. It’s the Coway Airmega and it was 20 percent off after Thanksgiving. So far, it seems good. It’s fairly quiet and it’s “smart” so it doesn’t have to run constantly. I’m hoping it will spare us some pain next time there’s a big fire nearby.

Making Things and Doing stuff

I’ve been embracing being festive for Christmas this year. I am liking Christmas more and more every year because I have realized I can do whatever I want and that there’s nothing wrong with liking cute stuff if it makes me happy. My (now ex-)step-mom was a real tyrant about Christmas and doing shit her way, which was not my way and I didn’t particularly enjoy the mandatory fun aspect of it all. Adulthood is all about remaking your life into what you want, so that’s what I’m doing.

stockings on the fireplace and chrismas-themed gnomes sitting on the mantle
festivities intensify

Languages

In the beginning of November, I took a lot of comfort in studying and using it as a method to avoid election doomscrolling. I had a really good routine going for a couple of weeks and then lost it again, but such is life (and studying). In any case, Spanish is moving along as always. I have been reading books and chatting with my teacher regularly. French is going okay but I need to start thinking about how I want to it to be interesting for me in terms of figuring out what to read or look at in the language so it’s not just textbook life.

Knitting and Crafts

I’ve finished yet another pair of socks (everyone is getting socks for Christmas, in case you haven’t guessed). This is the Luminary sock pattern knit in yarn from A Homespun House. I was fun to knit once I got into the rhythm of the pattern, which took me a little while. This pattern was also a good lesson in recognizing that “knit” and “knit through back of loop” are, in fact, not equivalent.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d be making Kirk these gnome socks for Chistmas. So far the pattern is a lot of fun and very cute. Since this picture, I’ve turned the heel and started on the gusset, but this is enough to appreciate the pattern. I’m not trying to hide them from Kirk because we’re home constantly and it takes a long time to knit. He seemed surprised and delighted by the choice, so I am happy.

In non-knitting news, I made a table Christmas-themed table runner. I feel that my younger self would find table runners highly unnecessary and uncool, but here I am, 34 years old, sewing table runners. If I’m going to be home forever, I want something to look at.

Kitchen Witchery

It’s interesting to me to go back through the week’s photos and see which foods I actually took a picture of. This week: treats! I made fudge for the first time using a recipe on a card I picked up at Nugget. The result was a success. On Saturday, we got a Christmas tree (not yet decorated so no photos yet, mom) so I decided to go high-key festive and make sugar cookies. Kirk requested Christmas tree shapes. Who am I to say no?

Something I put a lot of effort into but didn’t take a photo of is this pumpkin tart, which, on paper, sounded delicious. I seriously hated the results though. It didn’t seem to taste of anything and it felt like all the textures came out wrong. Ick. To cleanse my savory tart palette, I’m thinking of going back to a recipe in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat for a butternut squash and blue cheese tart, which is the flavor I want but, you know, actually good.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: November 28, 2020

Thanksgiving was this week! I like Thanksgiving but, as others have said more eloquently than me, I like the food but I don’t give a damn about no pilgrims. I know a lot of people were upset that they couldn’t visit family, but I love having quiet holidays at home, and that goes for any holiday to be honest. I was able to prep almost all my dishes during the week so I spent Thanksgiving itself mostly relaxing, followed by a couple hours of moving things in and out of the oven. A++ would recommend.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

book cover for Kingdom of Copper, shown on kobo ereader
Kingdom of Copper

I said last week that I was reading the Daevabad Trilogy and this week I read the second book, The Kingdom of Copper. Last week when I meant to restart the series, I accidentally started on this book instead of The City of Brass. I got about one-fifth into it, spending the whole time thinking, “wow, I really forgot more of this book than I realized” before I finally double checked the series order. So I stopped reading, went back to the first book then re-started Kingdom of Copper afterwards. I know the pandemic has worn down my ability to respond emotionally to things because I got really upset over this. Despite this minor chaos, I liked this book a lot and how it built on the first one. I’ve just started book three and will report back.

Meanwhile on the internet:

TV and Music

Image
Great outfit or greatest outfit?

We fulfilled our plan of watching all three Bill and Ted movies this week. I’ve been a fan of the original for a while, but I realized I had never seen the second movie all the way through. Excellent Adventure was as joyful as I remembered it and Bogus Journey was really fun too. I loved the new movie, Bill and Ted Face the Music. It kept what’s great about the original—Bill and Ted’s friendship, time travel hijinks, a love of music, and general goofiness—and layered in some great stuff, including their deeply cool children. On a related note, I am obsessed with the outfit Billie Logan wears in this scene. I am inspired.

twitter wanted this essay to be real

Rampant Consumerism

This might actually be the opposite of consumerism, but I’m putting it here anyway. Now that I’m a person with disposable income, I’ve made a tradition of donating to Native American groups during Thanksgiving. If I’m going to enjoy a holiday that presaged their genocide, then literally the least I can do is give some money to the survivors. Something nice this year is that my corporate overlords are matching up to $500 of donations that any employee makes, so I made all my donations through the corporate site. Double donations! Here were my choices:

  • Nevada City Rancheria. Last month I shared an article about the Nisenan tribe here in northern California. This is the tribe’s organization. They use the funds to fight for federal recognition of their tribe and for various cultural heritage projects.
  • The Cultural Conservancy is a group based out of San Francisco dedicated to “cultivating foodways throughout Turtle island.” They work to revitalize native plants, improve the health of community members, and work on environmental justice. Thanksgiving is a great time to donate to preserve native food practices and I like that this is a local(ish) group.
  • National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center is a native-led nonprofit that works to end violence against women and children. Considering the disproportionately high rate of missing and murdered indigenous women, this is an important cause.
  • Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project. The Wampanoag people are the native people featured in the story of the first Thanksgiving. This organization is working to revitalize their native language.
  • Endangered Language Fund. This organization works to preserve endangered languages around the world. Languages are so amazing and I want them all to survive.
  • Elk Grove Food Bank. Not all of my donations were for native groups. I highly recommend donating to your local food bank, especially given how coronavirus is impacting so many people.

Since we’re here, these are some other indigenous causes you can donate to that I bookmarked this week. Some weren’t available through my corporate donation site (for various reasons, including that many aren’t registered charities) and unfortunately I have limited funds, unlike Jeff Bezos. I’m sharing these as much for myself as anyone else. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do another round of donations later.

  • Four Directions Vote: helping get out the vote in Native communities
  • Navajo and Hopi Families Covid-19 relief fund. Indigenous people played a big role in winning Arizona for Biden. If you want to say thanks, chip in to their coronavirus relief fund.
  • Camp Mniluzahan and Creek Patrol: Part of the Land Back efforts for this branch of the Sioux tribe, this fund helps house indigenous people and provide food and supplies.
  • K’é Infoshop: mutual aid for the Navajo/Diné, helping them live autonomously and get people supplies.
  • Warriors of the Sunrise, to quote their website: “a group of Indigenous women from the Shinnecock Nation, and their allies are currently engaged in a nearly month-long encampment along Sunrise Highway in the Hamptons.”
  • Sacred Generations is working against educational inequity and mass incarceration in Native communities, and is taking on climate injustice.

If you need even more resources, here are two lists of native groups to donate to from Pure Wow and Bustle.

Making Things and Doing stuff

A lot of my free time this week went to cooking, so there’s not a lot of things and stuff to talk about this time around. Please enjoy this photo of my garden.

a garden bed containing two herbs, spinach, lettuce, onions and broccoli. all about 1/3 grown
winter garden progress

Moving It

Something I’ve learned about myself in the last few years is that, while I do like exercise, I like it in the service of a larger goal. It was easy to work out and want to be strong while when I knew it would improve my roller derby game. I’ve had a hard time this pandemic with motivation to exercise (like many people, I expect), but taking ballet is starting to change that for me. I’ve been taking ballet for five months now, and I’m starting to see where I want to develop more strength and flexibility. I am getting more consistent about getting in some exercise to build up my ballet game, which I am happy about.

Kitchen Witchery

Thanksgiving is, perhaps, my favorite holiday because it’s about making and eating food and there is no weird, vestigial religious component (-side eye to Christmas-). I did most of the cooking, but Kirk made the all-important mashed potatoes, plus some asparagus and a sweet potato pie (a new addition to this year’s menu). I made a few of my usual dishes and upgraded some others. I spent five worthwhile dollars on the Kitchenista’s Holiday Recipe Collection ebook. I had only made one of her recipes before (this amazing mac and cheese), but she dispenses a lot of good advice on twitter so I wanted to check the book. It was a great investment! There’s a lot of information about how to plan for thanksgiving and what you can prep ahead so you don’t make yourself insane.

This year I made a chicken instead of a turkey since it was just me and Kirk. I dry brined it with the Kitchenista’s recipe but then cooked it according to this recipe. I also used her recipes for candied yams, roasted carrots, macaroni and cheese, and gravy. Kirk gave her sweet potato pie recipe a try and it came out really good. I used a few of my regular recipes too like my favorite butternut squash soup (which we had for dinner earlier in the week, then used leftovers on thanksgiving), this simple stuffing recipe, and crescent rolls.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

Two Weeks in the Life: November 21, 2020

Sometimes I feel like I have missed out on important information. Lately I’ve been mulling over how to be an involved citizen. It’s clear that letting democracy run on auto-pilot was not a good strategy, but what can an ordinary person do to nudge the steering wheel? I’m 34 years old and just now starting to figure out how this works. Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is three years younger than me and she’s serving in the House of Representatives. I wouldn’t even know how to run for city council.

What I have learned recently is that the city and county have committees that people can just … join? Or at least anyone can tune into a public meeting. Apparently if you hang around enough you could potentially get appointed to the committee. At least, that’s my sense of it. A lot of committees say that a county supervisor appoints the members. But how would you get on their radar? I still have many questions.

One of my questions: why is this so hard to understand? Another: why does this feel like secret knowledge? I took a class on “government” my senior year in high school, but we focused on the three branches of federal government and their checks and balances. We had a creepy male teacher who seemed to have a thing for the Asian girls. He taught us that “federalism is like a marble cake” and when I took the AP government test that year, I had no idea how to respond to a question about federalism and I drew a cake instead. (Note: I still eked out a passing score on the exam).

As part of my lifelong pursuit to make the things I encounter easier to understand, here are some things you can do to get involved or at least keep an eye on your government people:

  • Subscribe to newsletters for your elected people at the city, county, state, and federal level. If you’re in California and want to know who your Assembly Member and State Senator are, you can use this site to look them up.
  • If you use twitter, make a “list” of all your government people. When you’re ready to read up on what’s happening, you can look at your list, meaning you’ll only see tweets from all your government sources and you won’t lose track of it in the deluge that is the twitter feed. Here’s my list. I’ve also added the local news and a few other local organizations. I started working on it today and I’m sure I’ll be adding more.
  • Look up your county’s board of supervisors and figure out which one is yours. For those of us in Sacramento County, you can check who your county supervisor is here. All of the county supervisors have newsletters, but you have to scroll to the bottom of their page to find it.
  • Sacramento County has a bunch of public meetings that you can attend. The good thing about the pandemic (sorry) is that everything is online now. I think it should be online forever because it seems pretty rude to limit government involvement to the people who can make it to downtown Sacramento on a weeknight, but what do I know?
  • There are a lot of county boards and commissions to join. Here’s the current list of openings. I’ve decided to keep an eye on the Southeast Area Community planning Advisory Council since that’s for “residents of the area” (that is, District 5, where I live) and members are appointed by the District 5 supervisor.
  • You can sign up for newsletters for a lot of these boards and other topics from the County here. I feel like you should get a welcome packet when you rent/buy a place in Sacramento that explains how to access county government information. How did people even do this in pre-internet times? I am mystified.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

It feels like all I’m doing lately is lying around and reading. Not to complain—it’s a perfectly good use of time, but it does make it seem like I don’t have much to write about.

Republic of Lies was an interesting book to be reading on/around the election. It’s a non-fiction book about Americans and our propensity to believe in conspiracies. It also makes the point that a lot of really wild and fucked up things, like the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, did actually happen, so there’s a certain logic to believing in conspiracies.

I don’t have a lot to say about Transcendent Kingdom other than it was good and I recommend it.

The Language Hoax is a retort to the popular Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which posits that the language we use shapes the way we see the world. It’s a cool idea that people who speak a certain language are perhaps more attuned to direction or color, but John McWhorter shuts it down as basically colonialist bullshit. It’s a salty read for those of us interested in linguistic theory.

I’m reading S. A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad Triology, which is about a society of djinn and all their drama and politics. I read the first book, City of Brass, a few years ago and am currently re-reading it before reading the two books that have since been published. I love this book a lot and am excited to read the next two. It’s really fun to read fantasy set somewhere new. We have an abundance of European-influenced fantasy in the canon. There’s nothing wrong with that but, like, it’s fantasy. Can’t we get some variety in what we imagine? Another thing I really love about reading this is it’s waking up all that Arabic I learned in college. It’s cool to be able to recognize the things characters are saying when Chakraborty drops a little Arabic into the text (Don’t worry, you don’t have to know Arabic to read this book. It is, after all, in English). Maybe once I’m done re-learning French (lol), I’ll start back up with Arabic.

Meanwhile on the internet:

TV and Music

We finished watching Silicon Valley. The show was fun but I was having less and less patience for the increasingly unsympathetic protagonist. Kirk reminded me that this was the point, but I did find it hard to watch at the end.

Tonight we are planning to watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I bought a three-movie set of the Bill and Ted movies so we could watch the new one. I have insisted to Kirk that we must watch the first two before the new one so we can maximally enjoy it.

Rampant Consumerism

In my ballet class, we’ve started learning how to turn. It’s just quarter turns for now, but I can sense it takes a lot of practice to get this skill down. My teacher recommended getting a spin board. They’re not expensive so why not. It’ supposed to help you improve your stability. I’m curious to see how it goes. If nothing else, it’s something else to fidget on while we weather the pandemic.

Making Things and Doing stuff

me in bed, with the covers pulled up to my nose
never getting up

It is cold and I did not want to get out of bed this morning. However I did get up because I also wanted to go to ballet class. Once I came home, I got back in bed and fell asleep for three hours. Seasonal tiredness? Fighting a cold? You decide.

Other than spending lots of time being cozy in bed, I’ve been knitting away at my Christmas gifts (no new completed projects to show yet) and chilling for the most part.

Kitchen Witchery

Las week, Kirk held a pantry intervention. He said my spice cupboard had gotten out of control and he was not wrong. He took everything out of the pantry, lined it up on the table, then told me to choose what to get rid of and to throw out expired stuff. Afterwards, he put everything back in the cupboard (with my input on what goes where) and put any extra jars of what I had behind the open jar “just like the grocery store.” What a gem.

I haven’t made a lot of new things lately so I don’t have a much to show. I usually don’t take pictures of something if I’ve made it before. However this week I did make a banana pumpkin bread. I had ordered two plantains from the grocery store and those colonizers brought me two bananas, which I did not want or appreciate. I don’t like bananas but I will accept banana bread. Of course, I said banana bread but make it fall so here we are. I also baked these M&M bars (and forgot to take a picture). We bought a mixed bag of candy for Halloween, but obviously no one came to our house, which has left us with the burden of consuming it all (oh no). No one ever wants to eat the plain M&Ms, so I took matters into my own hands. We didn’t have quite enough M&Ms to fill out the recipe, so I supplemented with chocolate chips. Quite tasty.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. It’s sleeping-on-blankets season.

A Non-Exhaustive List of Things I Want to Do When the Pandemic Ends

  • Get a haircut
  • Tour small bookstores in northern California and take my time browsing
  • Hang around at a cafe
  • Roller skate with my friends
  • Spend a weekend in Lake Tahoe and stay in a cute hotel in a room with a fireplace
  • Lift weights at the gym
  • Hang out with my friends
  • Eat in a restaurant (maybe even with friends)
  • Do ballet class without wearing a mask
  • Browse the library in person
  • Go on a trip by train
  • Take a cooking class
  • Play roller derby
  • Get a massage
  • Decrease frequency of panic attacks
  • Eat the free samples at Costco
  • Visit my sister and pet her cat
  • Touch everything at the yarn store
  • Compete in weight lifting
  • Go to RollerCon
  • Take a trip to another country (Iceland? New Zealand? Spain?)
  • Go to protests
  • Learn to sword fight
  • Drink a Slurpee

I’ve decided to keep editing this post as I think of new things. So:

  • Get a tattoo
  • Meet with my cookbook club
three panel comic with a banner on the top that says "Listen to your Heart."
Panel 1: woman looks up at banner
Panel 2: Woman reaches to open a little door over her heart
Panel 3: Heart says "learn to swordfight"