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.
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
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.
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.
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.