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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.