Hello, friends and enemies. The summer doldrums are here. It’s too hot and I don’t want to do anything. I hate it because there are always many things I want to do. I take an anti-depressant for my anxiety, and I am far beyond feeling bad at my inability to handle the heat, given that these types of medications make it harder for the body to regulate its temperature. So, I have spent the last two weeks reading a lot and longing for cooler days. I’ve been hanging out in my “office” a lot because it’s the shadiest room in the house. I have the air conditioning vent and a fan pointed right at me.
I’ve also been silencing the thermostat dad that lives in my head. I’m not cooling my house to 68 degrees or anything crazy, but I do turn down the AC to 74 degrees at night when it’s too hot to open the windows. When I was growing up, we had a whole-house fan, which is an incredibly loud way to suck outside air into the house. We always ran that at night rather than the air conditioning. My room was right near the fan so I’d be stuck listening to the roar of it all night. I went through periodic phases where I was too scared to leave my window open while I was asleep (I lived in the suburbs and was probably fine, but anxiety), which meant no airflow. Anyway, being an adult is great because I can make my house as hot or cold as I want and I don’t have to put up with a big, stupid fan.
Books and Other Words
Here’s what I’ve been reading:
- An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. I originally tried to read this book a while ago and wasn’t in the right mood for it, but this time I was. This book is not so much a cookbook as a philosophy on cooking and eating. Adler describes how you can make something delicious from very little or very basic ingredients and offers advice for salvaging dishes gone wrong. Furthermore, her prose is beautiful.
- The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li. This book was excellent. How do you tell someone you love them when there’s no cultural script for that kind of love? That’s what The Book of Goose is about to me.
- Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig. I picked this up on a whim when I saw it on the new shelf at the library. I thought I was getting a swashbuckling adventure with a ship full of lady pirates. It was actually a reflective novel about a woman who, yes, becomes a pirate, but not as her first choice. We watch her make a series of perhaps questionable decisions in challenging circumstances. Not what I wanted (lesbians at sea), but I liked it all the same.
- Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs. We’ve got magic books, sister drama, romance, intrigue, and a cute dog named Sir Kiwi. This book does it all. It was a lot of fun to read and I highly recommend it.
Meanwhile, on the internet:
- Ronald Reagan led an actors strike decades before his U.S. presidency via the Washington Post (gift link). I have been following the WGA/SAG strike news and kept seeing that this is the first time the two unions have gone on strike together since 1960. I was shocked to learn that Reagan was involved (doing perhaps one decent thing in his career). I also found it very interesting that the 1960 strike was over a similar issue to today’s strike: getting paid residuals for TV shows.
- Hollywood studios’ WGA strike end endgame is to let writers go broke before resuming talks in fall via Deadline. Speaking of the writers’ strike, this is fucking disgusting. The studio heads are literally saying out loud that they are going to wait for writers to start losing their homes before coming to negotiate. Eat the rich!
- The art of translation via The New York Times (gift link). This is a look into how a literary translator approaches her work. It’s cool!
- Threads won’t kill Twitter if it’s boring via Vox. There are lots of good reasons to ignore Threads, Meta’s new Twitter clone, but the best one is that it’s fucking boring.
- ‘People need to be riled up’: meteorologist names US heatwaves after oil and gas giants via The Guardian. Honestly, go off. What a mensch. Let’s fucking name and shame these jerks.
Something I’ve been mulling over in regards to my language learning is that I may never get to a point in another language where I’m as good as I am in English. The English language is my job. It’s my whole business to know how to apply all the rules. Realizing I might never be as good at Spanish (or Icelandic) as I am in English kind of hurts, but it’s also nice to think that I don’t have to be an editor in every language. However, I may find some other niche in these languages as I get better. If my Spanish teacher Ana has anything to say about this, I’m going to become a published author in Spanish, but who knows where I’ll end up?
I read another autism book and of course I now have many more autism thoughts to share. I was barely ten pages into Strong Female Character by Fern Brady when I shouted, “She has my life!” I kept reading and found out that we don’t have our whole lives in common but seeing that she found a lot of comfort in memorizing verb conjugations and enrolled in university with a plan to study Arabic and Persian had me screaming in solidarity. Still, even though, unlike Fern (I should probably refer to an author by last name, but I feel like we’re on a first-name basis), I did not become a stripper in college or have strict Catholic parents and live in Scotland, there was so much about this book that I related to. In one story, she talks about an elementary school teacher bringing a badger to school in a shoe box. Fern has total faith that this is a real badger and she loves it and wants to see it. Eventually some other kids tell her she’s an idiot and it’s just a sock puppet. She’s crushed. This made me think of my own over-trusting nature. I might have written about this before but, as a kid, I had total faith in what adults in my life told me. My parents told me Santa was real so, to me, that was an irrefutable truth of the world. I recognized that the concept of Santa didn’t make logical sense, but my parents wouldn’t lie to me, right? I remember being in fifth grade and still defending the idea of Santa, arguing with other kids. Around twelve years old, I asked my dad directly if Santa, the Easter Bunny, et al. were real. He told me the truth and then I spent the night crying and feeling betrayed.
She writes too about not fitting in, and being “not like other girls,” which I can relate to. I never fit in with girls at school so I, too, got into that “I’m not like other girls” mentality for a while. It’s true I wasn’t like them, but it was the autism, not some kind of superiority for wanting to hang around with the boys. Boys just follow a less complex set of social rules than teen girls do. Fern writes at one point, “everyone who fitted in and stayed in their home town was the real success. Imagine having the same friends from when you were born? Knowing and liking most people in the local nightclub?” That punched me in the guts too. Whenever people talk about having friends from elementary school or some kind of ridiculous young age, I’m always shocked. How? How do you do this? My oldest friendships date back to college and even then I only have two (hi, Kira and Kael).
When Fern talked about getting an autism diagnosis, which started out rough because a doctor told her she couldn’t possibly be autistic because she had a boyfriend (I wish I could punch that doctor!), she wrote “I knew now everyone would think I was stupid and every A I worked for in school and every effort I made to get my my degree and every hard-won achievement would be invalidated by my diagnosis.” And just … oof. Fern. I hear you. I am embarrassed to say this now but I have obviously learned a lot in the last fifteen or so years, but when it was first suggested to me that I might have autism, my response was “but I’m smart.” I get it though. All that work and then it’s upended by the autism. It’s a transitional feeling on the way to understanding autism and accepting yourself as autistic but I was like, dang, I get it.
I highly, highly recommend this book, especially to any women with autism who may not see themselves in some of the traditional diagnostic criteria. I also recommend it for anyone who is dealing with big meltdowns, which Fern talks about at length in the book. You will be relieved to see that you’re not alone.
It has been hot but we have to eat so I have been trying to use the Instant Pot or prep food earlier in the day, so I’m not running the oven when it’s 100 degrees (38 C) outside. I tried a butter chicken recipe from the Milk Street Fast and Slow cookbook, which I checked out from the library. I thought it was just okay but Kirk said he would eat it again. We had the opposite situation last night in which I made these beans. I liked them, but Kirk was absolutely not into it. In treats, I tried my hand at another frozen yogurt. I made vanilla yogurt which a chocolate swirl. Unlike the strawberry froyo I made a few weeks ago, this one was a little too tangy to be a hit. The strawberry version had enough other flavor to not be like “hey this is just yogurt,” but not this one. Finally, since it’s summer, I had to make some zucchini bread. I added these cinnamon bits and that was a great addition. I’ll be doing it again.
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.