The big news since my last post is that I quit my old job and started my new job. It felt a little hectic so I couldn’t find the energy to write over the last few weeks. I gave my two weeks’ notice at my old, proposal editing job and then took a week off between that job and the new job. The new job is something I like better: I’m working as a technical writer for a company that’s contracted to work on a project for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. I’m very happy to have escaped the grind of proposal writing and my weirdly antagonistic boss. The first week has gone well. I was a little worried about my coworkers loudly declaring that they like to have “FUN!!! ☺” but it seems like that mostly means sharing a lot of gifs in the group chat, which is fine. I hesitate to say I like the new job—who knows how a job is until we’ve seen it on a bad day—but so far it’s going well. The work seems alright and the people seem nice.
I ended up not relaxing as intended during my week off between jobs because another company, which interviewed me several months ago and then declined to hire me for lack of medical experience, emailed me to say they have another opening and ask if I’m still interested. It sounded like an interesting job (writing about recent medical research) and a good company so I said yes. I interviewed with them during my week off, but told them I’d like to make a decision soon because I would be starting a new job the next week. They said they understood but it’s been over a week and I still have not heard from them. I got super wound up about this all week because I wasn’t sure which job I would choose. I started my new job feeling stressed that I might quit immediately if I got a better offer. Both jobs seemed good for different reasons. However, since I’ve gone a whole week in the new job already and haven’t heard back from this other option, I think I’m going to settle in and roll with it, unless I get some kind of crazy-good offer.
I’m collapsing some of my normal blog categories today to talk about Dune, both the book and the movie. Spoilers ahead, obviously.
I first read Dune when I was 12 years old because my dad got me the book for my birthday. I didn’t totally understand it on my first read, but when I revisited it a few years later, I was super into it. I’ve been re-reading it (for the fifth or sixth time, probably) this week because I wanted to fully appreciate the movie and see it in my own way one more time before Denis Villeneuve’s version takes over my mental image. I always find something new to think about or appreciate when I read it. This time, I’ve been reflecting a lot on why it holds so much appeal for me. Most nerdy teens get obsessed with Tolkien or Star Wars or maybe Ayn Rand if they’re unlucky, so I was wondering what drew me to this. One of my favorite aspects of Dune has always been the idea that humans could train their minds to have the analytical processing power of a computer (like a mentat) or that you could read people so well that you could control them with just your voice (like the Bene Gesserit). That’s something that left a big impression on me and I think still forms how I approach the world today. I can’t really become a mentat (one of my great disappointments), but if I was observant and informed, maybe I, too, could see what’s coming next. I’m not going to have an opportunity to influence galactic politics, but maybe I could sense the underlying desires of people around me and push them in the direction that I want them to go. I think for an awkward (as I perceived myself, anyway), bookish youth, this was a really powerful idea. A lot of the advice from Paul Atreides’ teachers stayed with me too. I’m not a warrior but I can at least have the sense not to sit with my back to a door (thank you, Gurney Halleck). In a later book, Jessica is trying to teach an adult the Bene Gesserit way. She starts by instructing her student that he has to learn total control of his body. One of the exercises is to move his little toe without moving anything else in his body. I immediately set on teaching myself to wiggle individual toes.
That said, I have obviously been extremely excited about the Dune movie, but also wary of disappointment (looking at you, 1984 Dune movie). The new movie is amazing. I felt like I practically couldn’t breathe it was so good. It really felt otherworldly, which I was not expecting. The costumes, the sets, everything looked fucking cool and like it belonged in the far future. I was curious how they would translate the book to the screen because there is not a ton of dialogue, a lot of what happens in the novel is just the characters’ thoughts. The movie doesn’t get into the inner machinations of everyone, which, frankly, it can’t without being 10 hours long, but I think it was effective at establishing the characters and the world despite that. It used a lot of the book’s dialogue word-for-word and it hit all the important plot points without doing anything weird. It did collapse some of the drama of arriving to Arrakis, but again, unless you want a 10-hour movie, this is how things work.
Now for some more Dune thoughts in no particular narrative order:
- I was shocked that this movie only took on the first half of the book. I had been disappointed that I didn’t finish my re-read but I actually read exactly the right amount for the movie. The movie announces itself as “part 1” in the title cards and ends right as Paul and Jessica encounter the Fremen. I thought this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime cinematic treat but there are tentative plans for a second Dune movie (pending Warner Bros.’ approval). Not only that, but HBO is making a series about the Bene Gesserit! There’s so much to live for!
- There’s an amount weird racism and gaycism in the novel that I didn’t notice when I originally read it (obviously because I was 12) but that I pick up on a little more every time. Baron Harkonnen is evil and we know it because he’s super fat and always eating and being gross. He also has a predilection for young boys. His mentat, Piter de Vries is described as effeminate. Nothing says “evil” like homosexuality! Yueh, the doctor who betrays the Atreides, is mostly described as a Chinese stereotype, so that’s uncomfortable. The book was written in the 1960s, which doesn’t excuse all this but does contextualize it.
- Duncan Idaho was always one of my favorite characters and Jason Momoa is not how I pictured him. However, I was completely satisfied with his portrayal of Idaho. I hope we get movies all the way through the series so we can see Jason Momoa endure philosophical lectures from God Emperor Leto II.
- Something else I was considering on this read-through was how much it’s a military story. I had never previously pictured or been able to picture the size of military force both the Harkonnens and Atreides would be using to take over a whole planet (not me googling “how big is a battalion” in response to “there must be at least two battalions of Sardukar”). I think because the story is so focused on the main characters, and isn’t out here describing big armies, it’s easy to overlook. Something the movie did well was showing the military force behind the Atreides, even if their uniforms are giving me “are we the baddies?” vibes.
- I thought it was really cool that the movie had distinct languages for the Harkonnens and the Sardukar. I also appreciated that they didn’t leave out the Atreides battle sign language, which is something I always found extremely cool. So many codes! So much intrigue!
- I am definitely going to watch the movie again to luxuriate in a book I love so much coming to life.
Meanwhile, on the internet
- True crime is rotting our brains via Gawker. I’m a little biased when it comes to this article because I don’t like crime podcasts, but even so the author brings up some really good points about trauma, hyper-vigilance and the obsession with true crime media.
- Whitewashing Organics via Atmos. This article makes the case for organic produce based on the benefit to fieldworkers, which is a perspective that I’m ashamed to say has never occurred to me before.
- Worker surveillance is making employees miserable via Protocol. This one is exactly what it sounds like.
- The key to a kinder, gentler internet? Capybaras. via Experience Magazine. Chronicling the trend of capybaras being so hot right now.
I bought this fancy pencil case in preparation for my Spanish test next month. I probably don’t need it, but I feel like if I show up for the test feeling prepared and having my shit in order, it will help me feel calm and collected. So here I am.
Making Things and Doing stuff
There are some things I’ve made and stuff I’ve done.
My DELE exam is coming up in just a few weeks! I’m trying not to get too wound up about it. I feel mostly ready but I’m still working on some practice tests, especially the writing and speaking parts.
I have been doing a bad job documenting my cooking lately, but I can present to you some Indian food I made last weekend: matar paneer (peas and cheese), paratha (layered flat bread), dal (lentils) and some rice. Two weeks ago, I spatchocked and roasted a chicken, which came out good. Though I never know if shit is done and I kept taking it out and having to put it back in, which was annoying. I’ve also been making brownies and other snacks to get me through the stress of existence, but it seems repetitive to post a photo every time I make brownies, you know?
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.