It’s been a busy two weeks. Last weekend, my dad visited to deliver me a gift. A little while ago, he told me he was getting into woodworking and asked if I wanted something, so I said I would like a cedar chest for my knits. What’s really cool about this is he repurposed a toy chest that I had when I was a kid. He sanded off all the stickers I’d covered it with, refinished it, lined it with cedar, and added some handles. It looks great and now I have a nice spot for all my knitted items.
I was impressed with myself for remembering to take a photo together. It’s something we always forget to do, so here it is. And here’s the chest!
In other news I finally got my new glasses to reduce the effects of binocular vision dysfunction. I felt weird for a day or two—I had a new headache to replace the usual one for a little while—but now I’m feeling good. I’m already having an easier time reading, using the computer, and driving. I normally tilt my head to the right when I’m driving or computering and I’ve noticed I’m doing it and that it’s now just an uncomfortable position. I’m really happy that these are making my life easier. I’m also three weeks into vision therapy and that’s helping too.
Here are some things I’ve recently read, watched, or bought.
Books and Other Words
I actually read some books! Not the least because of the pressure of reading and returning library books on time. What can I say, I work well under pressure. First was The Outside by Ada Hoffman. This is a lovecraftian horror in space featuring an autistic protagonist. At first, I thought Hoffman was laying on the autism a little thick, but then I looked her up and realized that she herself is autistic and she curates a list called Autistic Book Party, keeping track of books with autistic characters and rating how well they represent the reality of autism. I did like this book, even though I don’t always enjoy creepy shit. I like space and it’s set in an interesting world where cybernetic “gods” ruling humanity. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
I also read Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. People have been raving about this memoir of a mixed-race Korean-American woman chronicling her relationship with her mother and the grief of losing her to cancer. I thought it was just okay, which does feel like an asshole thing to say in the face of someone laying bare all their sadness over losing a parent. I admit I may not be the target audience for this book—my mom is still alive and I’ve never had to struggle with being mixed-race in America. Zauner’s relationship with her mom and with Korean culture centers around food and a lot of the book reads, at times, like a menu. I also felt the book was perhaps too personal, like a diary more than a memoir.
Meanwhile, on the internet:
- I don’t want to be like a family with my coworkers via The Cut. I hate it when a workplace tries to force the “we’re a family” narrative. No, we’re not, we’re coworkers.
- Why Afghanistan’s tribes beat the United States via Foreign Policy. Like most people, I’ve been watching the news about Afghanistan. I was trying to figure out why things collapsed so quickly. This article offers one of the better explanations. Afghanistan’s society is organized according to tribal alliances, something the U.S. didn’t account for when trying to support the Afghan government.
- Slack and Zoom were distracting our teams. Here’s how we regained focus via Fast Company. I really like this approach to work. The company profiled here said they recognized that people who think creatively need uninterrupted time to work without meetings or expectations that they answer emails. They set aside certain blocks of time where the project manager types weren’t allowed to schedule meetings or otherwise be annoying. I wish my company would do this.
- Why CAPTCHA pictures are so unbearable depressing via OneZero. See the world through the AI’s eyes.
TV and Music
As of last week I have watched all the episodes of The Golden Girls, a feat that has taken me the better part of the year. I really grew to love this show and its depiction of older women living together as friends and becoming a family because that’s how strongly I feel about my friends too. So I was very upset with the final episode (do we need a spoiler warning for a show that ended in 1992?). The show ends with Dorothy finally finding a man who isn’t her yutz of an ex-husband, getting married, and riding off into the sunset. She has known this man for two months. She trades years of sisterhood for a man she has known for two months! The whole crux of the show is that you can make your own family, a point emphasized in the episodes right before, when Rose goes to the hospital and the girls are insulted at the hospital staff insisting they’re not her family and refusing to let them visit her. The girls discuss how they made a pact to take care of each other no matter what. Now Dorothy leaves for a man? This show is visionary on many levels—older women having agency, addressing social issues that no other shows have—but still ends with a woman getting married and leaving everyone she knows and loves. I did not expect to react so strongly to the Golden Girls finale but here I am.
Sometimes I go through periods where it seems like all I’m doing is buying stuff. It’s not necessarily bad, but it feels like everything comes up at once. Last weekend I bought new shoes for dance class (tap and jazz, since the jazz shoes I bought online didn’t fit right and have already fallen apart), then there was this amazing opossum dress, and a bunch of kitten supplies. This week, my quarterly spice club subscription from Burlap & Barrel arrived. It’s got a lot of good stuff that I’m going to have to figure out how to use. Hopefully I discover some good, new recipes. If anyone has suggestions for lemongrass or black lime, please send them.
Making Things and Doing stuff
This week I went somewhere for the first time since the pandemic started, meeting up with my roller derby friend Magical Wheelism in San Francisco (here are some photos on instagram). It’s weird to think that this is the farthest I’ve been from home in a year and a half, but it is. It was extremely refreshing to look at different things and talk to a new person, plus I got to breathe non-smokey air all day. Truly a delight! We got to watch a lot of sea lion drama on Pier 39, plus we visited a psychedelic mirror maze, which was a lot more entertaining than I would have thought.
I’m still having fun with the Snacking Cakes cookbook, which I guess I need to buy since it will be due back at the library soon. I tried the vanilla cake and a spiced honey cake and both were tasty. I love that these are casual cake recipes with suggestions for adjusting each recipe depending on what you’re in the mood for.
Since my dad visited just a week before his birthday, we made some festive birthday foods. I made a yellow cake with chocolate whipped cream filling and chocolate icing (recipes from The Cake Book). I also made some Indian food: naan, saffron rice pilaf, Mughalai korma, and masar dal (lentils with garlic butter).
Last Friday, we met with a cat behavioral specialist to discuss Fritz peeing on the bed and what we can do about it. She had some good suggestions but a lot of it was way too intense for us, like feeding the cats wet food in small amounts six times per day and making homemade chicken broth to freeze into icy broth cubes for the cats to enjoy. It also felt, at times, like she was just here to sell us things since she sent us a giant list of products to buy afterwards. We bought a few things like a cleaning product called anti-icky-poo that’s supposed to actually get rid of the pee smell, even according to cat senses. We added another litter box to the mix (now we’re at four, but they only seem interested in two of them) but declined the suggestion of adding a litter box in the bedroom. So far, it seems to be helping but we haven’t let him be in the bedroom unobserved this week.
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.