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.

A Week in the Life: March 28, 2021

This week felt like it went fast. I didn’t know what I was going to write about until I looked at my photos from the week and had my memory jogged. I spent a lot of the week laughing at memes about the boat stuck in the Suez Canal in between being stuck in some very long work meetings.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

hardcover book: Hollow Kingdom. Picture is taken outside with a hammock and blue sky in the background. Book cover is bright green and features a stylized drawing of a crow
Hollow Kingdom

I’ve been trying to keep my pace of reading two books per week so I read 100 this year. The last couple weeks have stymied me a little because I’ve not been totally in love with what I’m reading. It’s fine, but nothing motivates me to read like being obsessed with a story.

Enter the novel Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton. This book is essentially the story of how a zombie apocalypse affects the animal kingdom. The protagonist, a domesticated crow affectionately named Shit Turd (S. T. for short), loves humans and the things they make, like Cheetos. S. T. can’t stand the fact that they are gone. He, along with his former human’s dog, Dennis, go on a quest to liberate the pets trapped inside human houses. It’s a fun concept but I was not super excited about the book overall. I did like that it was set in Seattle and I could really picture a lot of the places the author described. Still, the book is not really for me and that is okay.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

Allow me to share some boat memes for posterity.

TV and Music

I watched a ridiculous, delightful movie this week called Extra Ordinary. I’m not going to try to describe it but it’s absurd, there are ghosts, satanic rituals, and driving instructor who can communicate with the spirits (but would rather not). It’s really funny and it was totally what I needed.

Rampant Consumerism

one large and one medium rectangular plastic bin for pantry ingredients. the one on top is full of brown sugar and the other has rye flour
new pantry containers

In the last year of baking everything all the time, I have acquired a lot more ingredients. I bought some new containers for my pantry so all the different flours could have a home and not get lost. This year (and counting) of being at home has led to a lot of little improvements and organizational purchases to make at-home life more pleasant. It’s easy to ignore things when you’re not in the house all the time. but it feels more important under the circumstances. As much as I hate the pandemic, I have appreciated the opportunity to refine my living space.

Making Things and Doing stuff

Kirk was ready to start planting new vegetables for the season. My parsley and cilantro plants went absolutely nuts since we planted them in the bed and not a pot, producing a lot more herb that I can use. I decided to have a go at drying them out. I’ve currently got a bunch (several bunches, I suppose) hanging to dry in the garage. They are supposed to dry out somewhere dark, so I figured the garage was the best spot. I just hung them up on Friday so I don’t know how successful this is yet.

Yesterday, Kirk installed a drip sprinkler system in the garden. It is pretty cool and not something I would have ever thought to do. I’m looking forward to seeing how that works.

Spanish

I’ve been working on my Spanish, as it feels I always am, but I’m stuck in a cycle where my productivity with it ebbs and flows. This is partly related to how busy work is and how much energy remains to me but also just my moods and what I care to do. Unfortunately, languages are the kind of thing that really benefit from regular focus. If I stop studying for a couple of weeks, it seems like it takes two more weeks to work back up to whatever I was doing and by then I am tired again. I’m not sure what to do about this.

It occurred to me this week that I had talked a big game some months ago about getting into some volunteer translation work and it never went anywhere. I did a couple of small tasks but nothing really panned out. I’m wondering if I can find a better way into this or if I just need to know the right people. I wish I didn’t have to work for a living and could just learn stuff and translate for free.

Kitchen Witchery

I didn’t do that much in the kitchen this week, outside of reorganizing my pantry. I did, however, make this handsome loaf to accompany some stew. I am working on scoring loaves more beautifully and this one turned out nice. I also made another batch of madeleines! I used this recipe as a starting point and adjusted it to make them almond and poppy seed flavored. I substituted half of the vanilla for almond extract and tossed in maybe a third of a cup of slivered almonds and a tablespoon of poppy seed. I’ve been wanting to start experimenting more with baking but it seems somewhat daunting. Madeleines are small and the batch isn’t that big so I feel like even if something comes out not great, it’s no big deal. Fortunately, these came out great so I am a winner today.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: March 21, 2021

me, holding my covid-19 vaccination card in front of my mouth to show I got my first vaccine
halfway vaccinated!

The big news this week is that I got my first dose of the covid vaccine! On Monday, California started allowing people with risk factors for covid to get vaccinated, which means I was able to get mine! I was up early on Monday and found an appointment at Walgreens the next day. It took my health insurance company until Thursday to notify me that I was eligible to be vaccinated. Too slow! In a stroke of luck, Kirk also got vaccinated this week We are on our way to being a fully vaccinated household and this is exciting.

I got the pfizer shot and didn’t feel any adverse effects except for being a little tired. I was surprised that my arm didn’t even hurt. I’ll be curious to see how bad the second dose hits me.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

book cover on Kobo ereader: The Poppy War
The Poppy War

This week I read The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang. This is a military fantasy set in a country that resembles China. I liked it because it gave us fantasy from a different perspective (compared to most European-inspired sword and sorcery stuff). The magic is based on channeling the power of gods. It’s a very intense story and I’m looking forward to reading the next two books.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

TV and Music

I watched a movie called Unicorn Store and it brought me joy. Brie Larson plays an artist who loves rainbows and glitter. She gets kicked out of art school for not being the right kind of serious and moves back in with her parents. The movie is about trying to fit in as an adult and about being yourself. It was joyful and fun to watch.

Rampant Consumerism

I bought this delightful whisk that is also like a scraper. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but it’s a genius concept. Now I can use just one utensil for a lot of things instead of two.

Making Things and Doing stuff

Here are some things I made and stuff I did.

Moving It

Getting my first covid vaccine has been like magic for me in terms of motivation for physical activity (and a little bit for everything). I haven’t wanted to exercise much in this pandemic year because it’s not as fun at home and it’s hard for me to want to if I’m not working towards anything. Soon I’ll be able to go outside and do things again so it’s much easier to want to move around. I’ve been trying to do mini workouts, like three sets of ten squats and as many rows, for example, to start getting my groove back. I’ve also been trying to stretch more since I have my dance performance coming up. I know I’m not back to “normal” and that’s fine but it feels really good to want to care about things again.

Kitchen Witchery

Last month, I sent “mystery ingredients” to my cookbook club for a bit of fun. One of them was wild Icelandic kelp. I don’t normally cook with kelp, but I had a decent amount left over so I have been finding ways to use it. I tried dusting a couple of pretzels with it and it was fine but the flavors didn’t really mesh. Next, I tried furikake chex mix. This is so good and so much better than I expected it to be. It’s a combination of cereals, chips, and pretzels coated in a sweet syrup and mixed with some seaweed and sesame seeds. It’s addictive. It’s also a huge recipe. I had to get out my roasting pan to bake it and it still wasn’t big enough—I had another casserole dish full of it. It seemed like a crazy large amount but I want to eat it all so maybe it’s right after all.

I tried a second round of madeleines with this chocolate madeleines recipe because I want to make sure I’m using that silly, single-use pan I bought. They came out quite good, but I think I like the non-chocolate kind better despite the fact that I really enjoy chocolate. The recipe instructed me to butter the pan and dust it with cocoa powder, then freeze it before baking. I don’t think this improved the cookies. I did all that for the first batch of cookies (shown in the top of the photo), but for the second (bottom of the photo), I just buttered the pan and that resulted in prettier cookies. Now I know.

Because I can’t go a week without making some kind of bread, this week I mad german-style pretzels. Pretzels always seem like a great idea until I’m halfway through rolling out my dough and my arms start to hurt. These were really good pretzels though. It was worth the pain. I was also able to put the malt powder I bought for bagels to use in a another recipe. I’m forever trying to use all the weird ingredients I buy for just one recipe.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

Two Weeks in the Life: March 12, 2021

I had very good intentions of writing last week until work got in the way of my whole existence. I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were working hard on a big proposal but management told us to stop. Well, management changed their damn minds and told us to start up again with just a week before the proposal was due. Neat. We have been understaffed, so I was doing 1.5 jobs last week. I worked late basically every day and worked all day last Saturday. Fortunately it is over and I’m now taking a four-day weekend.

In more exciting news, we closed on our mortgage refinance! Since this is pandemic life, the notary came to our house with all the paperwork. We all wore masks and she brought new pens for us to use that no one else had touched. I think notaries should always come to me. It’s much nicer than going to an office. In any case, the mortgage is official, and our house will be paid for in just 20 short years instead of 26 years from now as it would have been.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

Last week I finished Soulstar, the final book in C. L. Polk’s Kingston Cycle. This was another great read. It’s the most overtly political book of the three, which in a way takes me out of the fantasy but that’s on me as a reader, comparing it to real life, since this story is in a completely fictional world. I don’t want to give away what happens, so I will just say that you should read this series.

In non-fiction reads, I must recommend Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, although Oprah has already recommended this book and I don’t imagine I can add much to that, but here I am. Wilkerson takes a look at the status of Black people in the U.S. and concludes, based on quite a lot of research, that we’re actually living in a caste system, much like that of Germany during the Third Reich or India during forever. Even though I read a lot around race and history in this country, I still learned (and was horrified by) many new things. This is a well-researched argument rounded out by a journalist’s sense for when to weave in personal experiences from many different people. I think this is a really good book for anyone who thinks that they’re not racist or they shouldn’t have to feel bad about being white. I’m not saying this to disagree, but Caste gives a different way of framing this issue instead of racist/not racist.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • The end of my line: It’s okay to embrace the ‘COVID baby bust’ via Religion Dispatches. I like this short essay on deciding to not have children. I, like the author, grew up thinking I’d have kids (thanks, Mormonism). As an adult, I’m content to do whatever I want. I’m doing things for myself instead of for children and I’m happy with that choice.
  • Stockton’s basic-income experiment pays off via The Atlantic. In a shocking twist, giving people money helps them to not be poor. I hope we start seeing more programs like this.
  • Toy stories via language: a feminist guide. I’m posting this a little bit late in the “gender-neutral Potato Head” discourse, but that’s okay. I liked the author’s take on this issue: that this was a PR move on the part of the manufacturer to get people talking and that kids probably won’t change their approach to playing with M. Potato Head.
  • These maps on Zillow seem to accidentally show the invisible legacy of “slum clearance” via Buzzfeed. This is an interesting geography lesson lurking in Zillow’s maps. From the article, “If a person zooms in on the highway, rendering the map in satellite imagery, white boxes will appear where no houses or buildings currently exist. The white boxes appear to mark where houses and buildings previously stood.”

TV and Music

Kirk watches a lot of things on YouTube and sends me only the most entertaining videos (my personal algorithm, I suppose). This week, he sent me this video essay by Brutal Moose about Diet Coke’s new marketing campaign aimed at millennials. Yes, I did watch almost 18 minutes of media analysis about Diet Coke and I would do it again. Why is Gillian Jacob’s so dang mad?

I am still working my way through Golden Girls, by the way. I’m nearly done with season three. We’re also still working on Star Gate: SG-1 (and probably will be for the next year). I’ve been thinking about the fact that older TV shows contain so much TV. These days, we’re truly blessed if we get six seasons and a movie. Netflix cancels shows after two seasons because it maximizes profits. Thank goddess for the back catalog of television out there to get us through all this pandemic downtime.

Rampant Consumerism

In my now-regular schedule of succumbing to targeted ads, I ordered fudge from this fancy shop in San Francisco, Z. Cioccolato. It arrived today, so I haven’t sampled all the flavors yet, but I can say that it’s quite tasty. It’s very rich, which is good because hopefully it will slow me down and I won’t eat it all at once!

Making Things and Doing stuff

Moving It

My dance studio has announced it will be putting on a virtual recital this spring, which I am honestly excited about. I didn’t start taking classes with any hope of performing, but I am happy that we’ll be working towards something. We’ve already started learning some new things in anticipation for our performance. I’ll be sure to share the information about it once we get a little closer so all of you, my adoring fans, can attend.

Kitchen Witchery

I don’t have a lot of cooking to share because we spent the last crazy week split between Kirk making dinner, take out, and easy stuff like just-add-water soup. Last week before the chaos, I made spinach dip for our second annual spinach harvest. I paired it with some pita bread and other snacks. Yesterday I made a lasagna and what turned out to be the most perfect garlic bread I’ve ever made. I used some of that European butter and parsley from my gigantic parsley bush. Look upon it and rejoice.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Huey has not been afforded the opportunity to explore the outdoors in the last two weeks because I’ve been busy and it’s been a bit cold, but I do have one more picture of her luxuriating on the patio last weekend. She has decided that anytime I open a screen door is a time when she should dash out into the back yard. Fortunately, she is easy to apprehend. I want her to learn to come in the backyard and chill so she can hang out with me while I read in the hammock. We’ll have to see how that goes.

Huey has also started touching my face. She often lies on my torso but she’s recently started putting her little paw on my face—sometimes both paws—and kneading. What does it mean? Is she returning my affection? Trying to get my ass up? Getting even for all the times I wake her up? We just don’t know.

A Week in the Life: February 28, 2021

This week I’ve had a funny juxtaposition of activities. We’ve spent a lot of time playing Nintendo, but we’ve also gotten our taxes done and have moved forward with refinancing our mortgage. I’m relieved we don’t owe much this year! Last year we had to pay almost $4,000 (and the year prior was similar). This year, I adjusted my withholding so the IRS got an extra $500 per month and now we’re getting about $3,500 back. Unfortunately, we still owe the State about $1,500, so I haven’t quite mastered the art of tax withholding. Meanwhile, our mortgage refinance has now gone to underwriting, and all that’s left after that will be signing the documents and closing. With all this going on, you can probably understand why all I want to do is play video games.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

I read a lot this week, starting with The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama. This is not a novel I would have picked for myself (I got it as part of my Powell’s Indiespensable subscription), but I really liked it. It’s set in 1930s Hawai’i and the story focuses on a young man returning home after a decade away on the mainland where he studied to become a doctor. The story really revolves around the Hilo community as an extended family. I enjoyed the writing style a lot and liked the way Tsukiyama fleshed out all the characters. It felt very real.

I also read Witchmark and Stormsong by C. L. Polk, which are the first two (of three) books in her Kingston Cycle. The last book, Soulstar, published a couple of weeks ago and I decided to re-read the first two before reading the new one. I’m glad I did because the three books are one continuous story, with the action in the second and third books starting immediately where the previous books end. Each book is from the perspective of a different character. I’ve just started the third and I’m excited to see how the protagonist of this book sees things differently. I love these books a lot because it’s magic and a new world and people fighting against injustice. Plus, gay witches and fancy outfits. What’s not to love?

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Autistic children may have trouble predicting movements via Spectrum News. Sometimes research comes out and I feel seen. Researchers have found that autistic kids struggle with catching a ball. This is something I was terrible at for a long time, until I learned how to juggle when I was 14. Even after that, I still struggled in sportsball scenarios.
  • New research shows California coronavirus variant is more transmissible via Washington Post. Guess who’s staying inside until she’s vaccinated? It’s me!
  • California to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to residents with severe health conditions, disabilities via Cap Radio. This is good and weird news for me. Being fat is a “severe health condition” here and fat people with a BMI over 40 will be eligible for the vaccination, which means I’ll be eligible in mid March. This is the first time BMI has ever done anything good for me, although—and I’m not the first fat person to comment on this—there are a lot of weird feelings and guilt like “do I deserve the vaccine when I don’t have a real health issue?” I fully plan to get vaccinated at soon as possible, but the emotions around it are fraught.
  • Why obese people should get COVID-19 vaccine priority via Slate. From the article: “Obesity in COVID patients is associated with higher death rates and higher rates of hospital admissions to the ICU. On balance, we know these patients tend to spend more time on ventilators than those with lower BMIs.” And: “By prioritizing patients with obesity in the line for COVID-19 vaccines, medicine is not only following the data but is also pursuing a form of equity that recognizes obesity as a disease, rather than a character flaw.”
  • Britney Spears was never in control via The Cut. I didn’t watch the new Britney Spears documentary, but I liked this response to it. It’s an interesting read about the intersection of youth, womanhood, celebrity, and agency.

TV and Music

I’m still playing Super Mario 3D world, which is fun but the music won’t get out of my brain. I’ve “beaten” the game, but I have to finish collecting all the special stuff in each level to unlock the last bit. Maybe next week I’ll have some more interesting TV or music thoughts for you.

Rampant Consumerism

I bought some dryer balls, which are a reusable replacement for dryer sheets. I am finally almost out of dryer sheets and wanted to replace them with something non-disposable. These are made of wool and seem nice. They say they last for 1,000 trips through the dryer. My only complaint is I can hear them bouncing around (though the website claims they are quiet) when I’m in my office, which is next to the laundry room. Otherwise, I like them.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

head and shoulders of me in a blue and green hammock. I am wearing purple rimmed sunglasses and smiling at the camera
inaugurating the 2021 hammock season

I took Monday and Tuesday off work and was able to spend some afternoon time in my hammock! It’s finally warm and dry enough to get a little sun and read outside.

Related, I’m obsessed with this cat chilling in a hammock. His name is Cheddar Bob and I love him. The combination of the cat swaying and bobbing along with the Mr. Roger’s music in the background made me feel more peace than I’ve felt in months.

Moving It

Yesterday we learned how to “run” in the ballet style. I’ve been taking classes at home so I did my run as a lap from my computer, through the kitchen, past the living room and back. It’s kind of a goofy movement anyway, but there’s something really funny about running around my own house, as if the movement only makes sense in a certain context. You may even be able to see my goofy ballet run soon! My studio is going to do a virtual recital this spring, which sounds fun.

Kitchen Witchery

Last weekend I tried taking us on another culinary vacation, but it didn’t really go how I pictured it. I don’t know if my heart wasn’t in it or if I messed up the recipes and that brought down my enthusiasm. Regardless, here are the results. I made potatoes a la huacaína, which is a boiled potato with a cheesy sauce. These were good, but everything else was questionable. I made a casserole that was like a corn pudding with beef in the middle, which seemed good in theory but I didn’t like. I made a chicken and the flavor was good but I didn’t cook it well. Finally, we had chicha morada, which is a spiced drink made with purple corn, and I didn’t like that very much either. So, I don’t know. I tried.

In more successful food ventures, I’m back on my granola bullshit. In my Burlap and Barrel spice subscription last week, one of the recipes included for using the cardamom they sent was for granola. I’ve made granola plenty of times, but I liked that this recipe was pretty open ended, calling for seven cups of whatever combination of things you want. I had some for breakfast this morning and it came out great!

I also tried my hand at madeleines. I was a little skeptical because I’ve only had the kind you buy in the store, which are not very exciting. However, homemade madeleines are delicious. They are fluffy and tasty. This recipe had vanilla, maple, and lemon for flavor. I think I’m going to try a chocolate version next (now that I have a ridiculous single-use pan lol).

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. This week, I the spirit moved me to try taking Huey on a tour of the back yard. I bought some kitty harnesses and leashes last year when I was working on our emergency kits. I thought Huey might like to go outside and I like the idea of getting her used to the harness in case of emergency. Huey was definitely vibing, but I’ve already created a monster. We’ve gone out twice and now Huey has made it part of her routine to shout in front of the door so we can go outside. We can look forward to more adventures of Huey in the yard.

A Week in the Life: February 21, 2021

I said last week that things were chaotic but this week did its best to top that. One of my coworkers was abruptly removed from the proposal we’re working on, which left her work redistributed to the few that remained and left me learning how to do new things on top of doing quite a lot of my normal stuff. Another coworker died of coronavirus this week, which is really sad. He’d been in the hospital for the last month. I feel for his family, but I did not know him that well. My boss and colleagues are torn up about it all and it seems like people expect me to be the same. It feels weird. I do feel sad for him, but I’m still grieving for Viola, I don’t have the emotional space to cry about someone I barely talked to. On top of all this human stuff, I was working late this week to get the proposal ready. On Friday morning, my boss told us to stop work on it because we’re not going to bid after all. This has been a lot of ruckus for nothing.

A squirrel sitting on top of the fence, a flower in its paws. The squirrel is facing the camera
forest friends and dirty windows

Amid all this work-related chaos, on Thursday a squirrel visited me. The fence around our house is a squirrel highway and I often see them cruising around. Sometimes they even stop to (it seems) look at me. On this day, a squirrel with a flower in its hands stopped right in front of me and sat there for at least a minute, as if showing me this flower. It was surreal and made me wonder if I’m becoming one with nature. After this display of what could, perhaps, be called affection, the squirrel started enthusiastically eating the flower. This is probably be a metaphor for something, but fuck if I know what.

an 8" by 10" watercolor art with a drawing of a cat. The cat has a speech bubble that says "Somewhere, in a parallel universe, it is always this moement and I am always in your arms." The print is framed and placed above a display of cards and a wodden box of Viola the cat's ashes
sad arts

In non-work topics, my sister bought me this beautiful artwork from an artist called Club Waaa. I won’t lie, I opened it up and immediately started crying. I love the sentiment but I still feel so raw about losing Viola. I have been trying to take comfort in the fact that time is an illusion and she still exists in the past. Sometimes I feel guilty for not doing enough for her in her short life but, since I started working from home about four years ago, she was in my face demanding constant attention. Perhaps we were able to concentrate a few more years of love and affection into that period. Maybe she knew she wasn’t well in the last year and that’s why she got so possessive of me. Thursday night I couldn’t fall asleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about her and I was crying. I sat on the couch in the dark and held her box of ashes and cried for an hour. It feels almost too personal to talk about this out here on the internet where everyone can read it, but it feels important to share.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

Other than work, this week I spent a lot of time reading. I’ve been making an effort to read the books I already have, which most recently meant reading Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys. I got this book in my Powell’s Indiespensable subscription last year. This was a hard read, thematically speaking. It told the story of two black teenagers sent to a “reform school” (aka prison for children) in the 1960s. As with most works that illuminate the shitty conditions this country has imposed on black people, I’m struck by how terrible it was (and still is in many ways) and how it really wasn’t that long ago.

Winter’s Orbit was my monthly purchase from an independent bookstore. This month I bought from a small shop called Books and Crannies (which wins the award for cutest bookstore name). This book was a lot of fun. I knew I was going to love it once I found out it was about gay princes in space—I have a tag in my LibraryThing for lesbians in space, so this is an adjacent genre. Winter’s Orbit is a slow-burn romance with an arranged marriage in which one half of the couple is recovering from an abusive relationship. It has good character development and a happy ending.

Finally, I finished last month’s independent bookstore purchase Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone by Sarah Jaffe. This is a great book. Jaffe analyzes 10 professions, split into two groups—caring professions like teaching and “fun” jobs like making video games. For each job, she introduces us to a person in that job then discusses the history and how the myths of doing your job out of love or loving what you do help employers exploit workers. Consider teachers: when they strike, school boards might guilt them (“think of the students!”) into going back to work. The same logic applies in jobs where you do what you love. For example, professional athletes are led to believe they don’t deserve a fair wage since they enjoy what they do. This book gave me a lot to think about and it’s another excellent piece in understanding modern life.

TV and Music

When I wasn’t reading this week, I was playing Nintendo. Kirk bought us a new game, Super Mario 3-D world, a game that asks “what if Mario was a cat for some reason?” and we’ve been playing that a lot. And yes, you literally do play as a cat for a lot of the game. I bought us Mario Kart as a Valentine’s gift and we’ve had fun playing that together too. It seemed a little indulgent to buy a Nintendo Switch last year when the pandemic started, but considering how long this has dragged on, I’m glad I did it.

Rampant Consumerism

Because cooking and eating are among my main hobbies these days, my purchases are food related. I’ve been getting a lot of facebook ads for chocolate companies, whether because they know too much or because it was Valentine’s day, I don’t know. In any case, one of the ads was for Compartes chocolate and I gave them a try. The bars come in wild flavors like peanut butter and jelly and they have really nice packaging. I like the ones I’ve tried so far! I saw that they also have a chocolate subscription and I have to admit I am tempted to sign up.

I discovered Burlap & Barrel spices recently when looking for unusual ingredients I could send to my cookbook club friends (among other things, the received some dried Icelandic kelp to work with). I found they have a spice subscription box and signed up because I love subscriptions. I got my first quarterly box this week. It came with multiple spices, plus a bar of soap (more Icelandic kelp! lol) and magnets. One thing I appreciate is that it included a sheet with some recipes so there’s somewhere to start if you don’t know how to use the spices. I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Without Viola to boss her around, Huey has been all up in my business. She has always loved to lounge on top of me, but I hadn’t realized she hadn’t been doing in much in the last year. Now she’s back at it, including, for some reason, sitting on me in the middle of the night and pushing my cheeks with her little peets. Why, Huey? Why wake me up in this way? Huey has finally decided it’s safe for her to hang in my office, which was one of Viola’s main haunts. She spent a lot of time in there with me the last few days; and a lot of time without me because Huey does what she fucking wants.

A Week in the Life: February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine’s Day! We’re not in the habit of making a big deal of Valentine’s day in this house, but I do like it as a reminder to appreciate the people I care about and who care about me. This morning, I made biscuits and gravy for breakfast and then Kirk and I played Mario Kart 8, which was my Valentine’s gift to us. Kirk is going to make us dinner tonight. In non-pandemic years, we made it a custom to go out for dinner the day after Valentine’s day. It’s a good way to avoid crowds and high prices at restaurants. Going out on the 15th instead of the 14th doesn’t mean you love each other any less.

This week has been a little chaotic for me. We have a big proposal at work that we’re trying to finish and the writers keep blowing off their deadlines. I was scheduled to edit it this weekend since that was the only time remaining. Fortunately, the potential client extended the due date. Unfortunately, they published that announcement at midnight Saturday morning, so I still worked late on Friday and worked early on Saturday before finding out about it. I’m glad I got to keep three-quarters of my weekend, but all the stress wore me out. Having personal time is so important to me and enjoyable free time is the main benefit of having a job (aside from the paycheck!). So, when work cuts into my time, it really stresses me out. After being so keyed up over the threat of working all weekend, I was exhausted when it didn’t happen. Emotions are annoying that way.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

book cover of Mexican Gothic, shown on kobo ereader. Puffin stuffed animal peeking out behind the book
Mexican Gothic

This week I read Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic. This is the second book of hers I’ve read and I had pretty high expectations because I loved Gods of Jade and Shadow. Mexican Gothic is a spooky novel set in 1950s Mexico. The protagonist, Noemí, gets a semi-incoherent letter from her cousin, who married a white man and moved to his fancy house in the middle of nowhere, and the family is concerned. Noemí is sent to investigate and horror ensues. I usually don’t like scary books (real life is enough, thanks), but I liked this one a lot even though I was scared. There is an interesting supernatural element, but the real horror comes from the forces of colonialism and patriarchy. I recommend this book if you’re looking for some chills from a different perspective.

Meanwhile on the internet:

TV and Music

I mentioned months ago that I had started watching the Golden Girls. I’m still slowly making my way through it—I’m now in season three. This show just gets better as it goes on. Since one of my other new pandemic activities has been ballet, when I hear the theme song, I keep thinking I should make a little ballet routine to perform to it to celebrate my pandemic pastimes. Perhaps I will do this to celebrate the end of the pandemic.

Rampant Consumerism

My old slippers were beat to shit and my feet have been hurting (I have a sit/stand desk for work and I like to stand when I can) so I decided to spring for some nice slippers that would hopefully improve that situation. I bought these lovely tiger print slippers from a brand called Vionic. They are pretty comfortable. They do feel more like a shoe than a fluffy slipper, but that’s what I wanted. So far, I like them.

After hearing me complain about how much I hate mint toothpaste (but continue to use it for lack of alternatives), Kirk did some research for me and found this Hello brand toothpaste. I bought strawberry and grape flavors, which are ostensibly for children, but they include fluoride so they are appropriate for adults. Brushing my teeth is now way more pleasant. Between this and the Cocofloss, I’m actually doing a really good job of taking care of my teeth!

Making Things and Doing stuff

We’ve let our garden get a bit … feral this season. We planted things and have pretty much let the rain take care of the watering and left it at that. The lettuce shot up to start producing seeds before we got around to picking it. The broccoli starting flowering much sooner than expected (Kirk suspects the freezing temperatures we had confused the broccoli). The herbs are going crazy. If I’m smart, I will pick them and dry them out before they, too, begin flowering. Although, I have been using the fresh herbs quite often, I can’t keep up with this massive quantity.

Spanish

This week I finally started feeling the pull of being more serious about Spanish again. Part of the end-goal of learning Spanish—or any language—for me is being able to experience things in the language just like I would with English. This week I started reading the Spanish edition of Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang and I’m feeling a little success on this front. This is one of the first books I’ve read where I feel like I’m understanding it all and I just want to read it to read, not to “study Spanish.” It’s actually translated from Chinese, so why not read the Spanish translation and not the English? It’s a relatively long book and I expected it would take me a while to read, but I’m moving through it relatively quickly, which is satisfying.

Kitchen Witchery

It turns out that I took no food photos this week, but I did make food (one must eat). I tried out this pasta e fagioli recipe from Rancho Gordo since I saw the recipe and had all the ingredients on hand. It was good but I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. I also made brown butter brownies so I could have something to stress eat while editing this weekend (now I don’t have to work so I’m just normal eating). I wanted to do my Peruvian kitchen trip this weekend, but I am going to have to save it for next week instead!

Cat Therapy

Finally, here is a cat photo for your nerves. Sometimes when I pet Huey wrong, she corrects me by putting her paw on top of my hand and making me stop.

Huey the cat looking at the camera, with her front paw on top of my hand
“please stop”

A Week in the Life: February 7, 2021

I’m going to change things up and start today by relaying some good news: we’re refinancing our mortgage! I feel like we’ve leveled up as functional adults by doing this and that I deserve a merit badge. We’re about 3.5 years into our current, 30-year mortgage, which has a 4.125% interest rate. Our new mortgage will be 20 years and a 2.85% interest rate. Our monthly payment is staying almost exactly the same but now we’re skipping almost seven years of payments. It seems like black magic but apparently this is how finances work? The “value” of our home has increased a lot since we bought it (somehow?) so we’re able to get rid of the PMI from our payments too. This is going to save us something like $160,000, which is nuts. It’s only by chance that the rates and home values have aligned by this and a bit of luck that a friend mentioned he was refinancing, so I started looking into it. It doesn’t seem like a matter of $160,000 should hinge on coincidence, but that’s 21st century America for you.

I know last week’s post was quite dramatic on the subject of Viola. I’m feeling better than I was, but I was, indeed, feeling big emotions last weekend. I’ve set her box of ashes in the living room with a feather toy and a little mouse. I wish I could do more. I miss her every day, but I haven’t cried this week. This is probably the last I’ll say about her for a while. We’ll focus on Huey living her best life instead.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

I read two novels this week: The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas and The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray. I liked both books quite a lot. The Psychology of Time Travel was great because it asks how time travel would fuck you up on existential and emotional levels and it looks at the kind of measures a corporation would take to stay in the time travel business. There’s also time traveling lesbian romance, which is the kind of content I’m here for you. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is a non-fantastical story about a family, focusing on three sisters, trying to deal with their childhood trauma. Be warned that you shouldn’t read this if you don’t want to read about eating disorders or abuse. It’s not the main focus of the novel, but it is a theme.

Meanwhile on the internet:

TV and Music

I’ve now watched the first season of Orphan Black, a show about a woman who discovers she has a whole bunch of clones living different lives out in the world. I started watching this with Kirk, but after a few episodes he kept stalling on watching it. I finally learned that he didn’t want to continue with it and I was free to watch on my own. I’m liking it a lot so I finished up the first season pretty quick. I just got the first disc of season two in the mail so I’m looking forward to watching that this week.

Rampant Consumerism

a bundt pan and a madeleine pan, new and sitting on my counter
new pans in funny shapes

In anticipation of baking a babka this week, I bought a bundt pan from The Kitchen Table, a local shop that sells kitchen wares. I decided to buy a madeleine pan while I was at it because why not. I have resisted buying single-use pans but I realized I have the space to keep them and, frankly, what else am I doing these days? I was very pleased that Kitchen Table dropped my order off on my doorstep! I thought I would have to wait for it to come through the mail.

Making Things and Doing stuff

As an editor, I hate seeing a header directly follow another header, which is why I feel obligated to put something here. My only subheading here today is “kitchen witchery” because I don’t have much else to say about things and stuff. I’m plugging away at knitting and dance and Spanish, but I don’t have anything new to tell you. Let’s get on with what you really want: food photos.

Kitchen Witchery

Last weekend, we “went” to Morocco. I made a few more recipes from Feast of the Islamic World and listened to some Moroccan music. Recipes included North African layered flatbreads, Moroccan kefta (aka meatballs), “the chicken that flew” (a dish of chickpeas and sweet potatoes—the chicken flew away!) and rice pudding. I liked the flatbread and the chicken that flew quite a lot; I would make them again. I didn’t love the meatballs, I don’t know if they were too dry or if I don’t really like lamb. Kirk said they were good though and he told me he doesn’t like lamb, so who knows. The rice pudding was good too. I scaled down the amount of orange blossom water the recipe called for and it ended up just right.

I’ve been alternating weekend baking experiments with kitchen travels. Yesterday I made a chocolate babka! I’d never eaten a babka before, but I had heard about it and thought it sounded delightful. I made the recipe from The Baking Bible, which called for baking in a bundt pan. It was really good. I already want to make more.

As to normal weeknight cooking, I tried a recipe from Jubilee: Recipes from two Centuries of African American cooking. I’m always looking for new bean dishes because they are usually filling, cheap, and tasty. I liked this one a lot. It’s a one-pot dish in which you cook the beans and rice in chicken broth and coconunt milk. I also tried another round of bagels. This batch came out a little uglier than the last but they were just as good. I tried making onion bagels, but didn’t do a good job of making the onions stick, so they were basically plain. I think I’ll do a sesame or poppy seed bagel next time because seeds are easier to work with.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Huey came to hang out while I was in the middle of dance class this week. This was fine until she plopped down in the middle of my dance floor (such as it is) and started taking a bath. Thanks, Huey.

A Week in the Life: January 30, 2021

A framed photo collage featuring 7 photos of Viola the cat
Viola tribute collage

Last week I said I was feeling okay about Viola’s death and, after this week, I’ve realized that was a premature assessment. I ordered a photo collage of her and hung that on the wall this week. When the picture arrived, I had to spend some time howling and crying again. Then I had to adjust to seeing her on the wall when I walk by (which is good and bad, but I’m hoping the bad feelings will ease up over time). Today, Kirk and I drove to the vet to retrieve her ashes. This was also a highly emotional activity.

I guess this blog is a grief diary now.

a small wood box containing the ashes of the late Viola the cat
Viola’s final resting place

It feels a little weird to write about some of this stuff. When I got home, I curled up on the bed with her box of ashes and cried for a long time. I currently have it next to me as I write. Viola used to position herself between my body and the keyboard when I was typing and I’ve got it in the same spot right now. I’m not planning to carry it around forever, but it is comforting me, in an odd way, to have it nearby for now. I know this sounds a little weird but I am sharing it because I think it’s important to talk about how we grieve.

Consuming

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

Books and Other Words

This week’s books are Big Dirty Money by Jennifer Taub and How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason. Big Dirty Money is a look into white-collar crime and how it is (rarely) punished in the U.S. It’s informative and it will probably piss you off. How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge is the sequel to How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse. It’s a space opera with cool aliens and character growth and it’s a lot of fun to read.

Meanwhile on the internet:

  • Emotions on Strike via Dissent Magazine. More on work and burnout and their emotional impact. I was nodding along with this article and realized when I reached the end that I’d just ordered a book from the author.
  • What happened with GameStop via Markets Weekly. There have been many articles describing what’s going on with the stock market and the proletariat this week, but I like this one. It characterizes the situation not as a popular uprising (which is fun to imagine and maybe also partly true) but a game of hedge funds striking at each other.
  • The Art of the Cover Letter via The Paris Review. This is about cover letters but it’s not cover letter advice. Here’s a preview, “I’ll say this: what I have done to language in the service of cover letters haunts me. At worst, cover letters strain one’s faith that words convey meaning at all, let alone that sentences can shimmer, steal breath, or gird spines. I spend each day climbing mountains of junky paragraphs, scavenging for hunks of usable scrap—like so much copper wire—my senses deadened by the incessant clang of multipart adjectives.”

TV and Music

Kirk and I have started watching Star Gate: SG-1, not the least because it has, like, a million episodes. So far it’s entertaining despite the cheesy nineties-ness of it all. That’s okay though because I’m not in a deep-thinking mood when it comes to TV right now.

Rampant Consumerism

hardcover book; Work Won't Love You Back
Work Won’t Love You Back

One of my goals for this year is to support independent bookstores by buying a book every month from a different shop. This month I pre-ordered a book I have really been looking forward to, Work Won’t Love You Back by Sarah Jaffe, from Vroman’s Bookstore. Vroman’s is in Pasedena and has been in business for over 100 years. I heard about them from a social media post going around last summer encouraging people to support the store due to their history—during World War II, Vroman’s donated books to Japanese people in California’s internment camps. If you have other independent bookstores to recommend, let me know about them for future months!

Making Things and Doing stuff

My things and stuff energy has been a little low lately, but here’s a little bit.

Moving It

I’ve been doing ballet class for home the last few weeks given the state of the pandemic. I read that we should be doubling up on masks or upgrading to better masks and I said, you know what, I’ll just stay home, thanks. I’m enjoying class from home a lot more now that I’ve made my own barre. Being in the studio is still more fun, but at least I can do everything I need to from my living room and not stress about coronavirus. I’m also starting to feel like I’m “getting” ballet a little more. I joined the class with kind of a “well, why not” vibe but I’m enjoying it and starting to understand why this kind of movement is interesting.

Kitchen Witchery

I was hoping that I’d be able to share my next kitchen “vacation” today, but I’ll be making a Moroccan feast tomorrow and I wanted to get the blog up today. You’ll have something to look forward to next week (or tomorrow if you follow me on instagram). This week I did try a really good black bean soup recipe from the Cool Beans cookbook, which I bought myself for Christmas. The soup is topped with masa dumplings, pumpkin seeds, and feta, although I will probably replace the feta with a queso fresco next time I make this. It was really tasty and pretty easy to make! I also tried out a recipe for popcorn balls this week. Why? I don’t know, but I bookmarked it months ago and the spirit moved me to try it (Side note: I keep singing “popcorn balls” to the tune of Uptown Girl. Brains are weird). Because you can never have enough cookies, I also made a batch of chocolate chip and walnut cookies. These are the Levain-style chocolate chip, but I baked them in normal cookie size.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. As a special treat, I’m sharing a photo of Huey as a kitten to accompany this goofy picture of her taking a bath.