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