Two Weeks in the Life: October 14, 2023

Hello, friends and enemies. I’ve been on vacation this week! I planned a week off to hang around at home and chill and read my books. Then I filled my time with appointments and social calls. I don’t regret it but I would like another week off to rest now. Alas, I am trapped in this system that permits me a mere 80 hours of paid time off per year and I had barely gotten out of PTO debt from last year’s Iceland trip. Still, I enjoyed the time off, even though it went fast. I got to see another comedy show, did a double Spanish class with Ana, went with Mandy and her four-year-old daughter to a pumpkin patch where we fed the goats, joined Lemon for an outing to the new Beer’s Books location and to try a new pizza place, and got a new tattoo. Plus I did all my usual dance class stuff and got in a little studying. I had pictured laying in my hammock all week, but I’m not mad about how I spent my time.

Current Events

I was going to put these thoughts in my “on the internet” section but I realized I had more than one bullet point’s worth of thoughts, so today we shall introduce a “current events” section. Here goes.

I’ve seen a lot of bad takes on social media about the Israel/Palestine situation over the the last week. I hope I’m not going to be one of them. In fact, there’s a part of me that is like why comment at all but it’s my blog so I can comment if I want. I’m far from an expert, but I do actually have a bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern languages and civilizations, for what it’s worth. My first thought is that whatever people here in the U.S. say, it kind of doesn’t matter. Everyone (myself included), is rushing to take a stance, but who is that affecting? One of the few insightful things I’ve seen online this week is a comment that it’s easy to sit here and say “violence isn’t the answer” when the implied threat of violence from the United States’ 700+ military bases worldwide is actually what’s making it possible to be “nonviolent.” Our government is extremely obsessed with supporting Israel, even though the United Nations has characterized Israel’s occupation of Palestine as maintaining an “open-air prison.” Meanwhile, the U.S. is sending more weapons to Israel while continuing to arm the rest of the Middle East. The weapons that Hezbollah is using in Syria have also come from the U.S., although not directly. While individual U.S. citizens aren’t the ones sending weapons all over the world or asking for these policies, I find it kind of ridiculous for people in this country to be like “well, both sides are bad :-(” because the side that is bad is actually this country arming everyone to the teeth.

All that said, this is not an excuse to be anti-semetic. Just like individual Americans aren’t responsible for supplying arms to the entire Middle East, individual Jewish people aren’t responsible for Israel’s atrocities. By the same token, we can’t judge all Palestinian people by the actions of Hamas or use this to fuel anti-Muslim bias. Still, I feel it’s unfair to be mad at the desperate actions of Palestinians who have been living in this system for decades. Here’s a statistic from the Los Angeles Times, “Before last week, 6,407 Palestinians had died in Israeli strikes since 2008, most of them in Gaza, according to the United Nations. The Israeli death toll from Palestinian attacks was 308. In a single day, Hamas killed four times that many.” So, I think we need to put some of this information in context before we rush to let our social media followers know that we’re a good person.

Facts and figures aside, I admit this is scary and gut-wrenching even though I don’t personally know anyone involved. I don’t know what the solution is, but my first suggestions are that we all have to see each other as fellow humans and maybe we should stop making so many weapons just to turn a profit. It’s also scary that this could be the spark that ignites the whole Middle East in war, inevitably dragging in the U.S. and others.

Books and Other Words

I haven’t read that much over the last two weeks! I think my brain got tired. I’ve been very interested in all the non-fiction books on my reading list but haven’t been able to sustain the energy and attention required to read them. I got through just one book in the last two weeks. Then I went and bought more books. I could live 1,000 years and not read everything I want to read.

Imagine you’re traveling through space on a mission to establish human life on a new planet with 79 girls you went to middle and high school with. Then someone dies. That’s the basic nature of the plot of Yume Kitasei’s The Deep Sky. Humanity isn’t handling the climate crisis well and some trillionaire holds a years-long school program/audition for the space mission. Space exploration meets murder mystery, expect it’s all girls you grew up with. I thought it was a good book, I liked the way the characters were developed and, you know, can’t go wrong with a little global warming to spur people into space!

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • 911 dispatcher calls labor situation ‘dehumanizing’ via Easy Reader & Peninsula. My sister made her local news for going to the city council about the shitty treatment she and her coworkers endure as emergency dispatchers. The people who work the 9-1-1 phones are not okay! Mia told me this week that she worked seventeen days in a row then got one day off. It’s not sustainable. Maybe next time we’re thinking about giving the cops more money, we should give it to the dispatchers instead of buying a helicopter or whatever.
  • The all-out revolt against helps explain boycotts at Reddit and Etsy via Quartz. I would like tech/finance bros to stop being fucking scavengers and getting involved in things they know nothing about just to make money. Go get a hobby.
  • The American dream is a nightmare via Men Yell at Me. This interview with author Molly McGhee made me immediately preorder her book Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind. I really liked how she talked about approaching writing as someone who loves to read. McGhee states, “I think of myself as a reader first. I was always a reader. And when people are like, “What do you do?,” I still have to work really hard not to say I’m a reader because that makes no sense. When I’m writing, it’s just because I love reading so much.” Honestly, I totally get that. I love her for this perspective.
  • Meet this year’s MacArthur ‘genius grant’ recipients, including a hula master and the poet laureate via AP News. Wow, another year and still none of you nominated me for a MacArthur grant. Unbelievable.

The Case of the Misplaced “S”

I have been wanting to get a tattoo in Spanish for quite a while now, but especially since passing the DELE exam last year, I have been emotionally ready to get it to celebrate my Spanish skills through putting words on my body. I had a little post-it note with the phrase “todo para todos” (everything for everyone) up in my office for a while because I’d seen it somewhere and really liked it. The tattoo has to do double duty; it can’t just be any random Spanish but it needs to say something about my feelings and beliefs. When, about a month ago, I finally got serious about making an appointment I did a little more research on the phrase and realized the original version is from the Zapatista slogan, “Para todos todo, nada para nosotros” (for everyone, everything, nothing for ourselves), which is about mutual aid and taking a socialist position to uplift everyone.

My appointment was, stupidly in hindsight, yesterday, Friday the 13th. I didn’t realize the tattoo shop would be doing a $13 flash tattoo sale and there would be chaos and a line around the building. This left me sitting the lobby feeling a little overwhelmed as an overly chatty and chummy young woman talked our ears off with honestly no prompting for thirty minutes. I was relieved when I finally went back to get the tattoo started, though less relieved to discover that my tattoo guy and the person in the next room were running competing loud musics. So, I was feeling pretty over it by the time we got to the actual tattoo portion of the day.

To avoid burying the lede any further, I’ll let you know now that my tattoo is spelled wrong. Instead of para todos todo I got para todo todos. I feel stupid about it, which is why I’ve set the stage to tell you how overstimulated I was and how ready I was to be done before we even started. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the problem until I left. I was taking a slow video to show the tattoo to my internet friends (hello, all of you) the new tattoo, which runs along the curve of my arm when I realized the problem. I turned off the sound when I uploaded it, but the original has me exclaiming “oh no.”

Para todos todo

What’s annoying is I know exactly how this unfortunately permanent error made it’s way onto my body. Here’s the reference I provided to the tattoo guy:

So he printed it and brought it back and I explained that I wanted the words laid out horizontally across my arm, like my other tattoos, and not vertically. He left to cut up his stencil and returned with the words in a line instead of a stack. He laid it across my wrist and asked me if it looked right. And it did because it kind of disappears over the edge of my arm unless I turn it at a weird angle. I feel to blame for not catching this but also, can you not keep three words in order? Really? I’m asking so little here.

When the guy started working on the tattoo I asked him if he liked to chat or liked to focus and he said “What do you want to chat about?” so I, foolishly, said “Well, I’m not trying to start a discussion about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.” Naturally that’s what we ended up talking about. Fortunately, it was pretty amicable but, uh, this guy was nuts. He said that you can’t believe everything you see on TV and I was like, yeah, of course, propaganda is real. Then he said it’s fear-based mind control and I was like, oh, okay. He added that he won’t be hypnotized and doesn’t want to be a slave. At this point, reader, I was really ready to leave. Unfortunately, the tattoo was only halfway done. When he finally finished, he folded some kind of fancy paper towel over it and taped that to my wrist (as opposed to the traditional plastic wrap) and sent me on my way. I was tired and ready to escape the chaos.

Of course, the question now is what do I do with a misspelled tattoo? I am not chill enough to be like “haha, life is funny that way sometimes.” After extensive consultation with my friend group (and some crying), Abby made the winning suggestion to put proofreading marks on it. This is a great suggestion since it adds another layer of meaning to the tattoo because editing is my job. It lets me take this with a little humor. “Oh, you misspelled this, let me just make a little adjustment.” We were also considering adding more words to the tattoo, but I really liked the original meaning and I don’t want to feel like I have to launch into a big explanation everyone time someone asks me about it. Here’s what I think I want to do:

I texted the tattoo shop to let them know I want a touch up and I am probably going to have a follow-up appointment soon. So, it’s not exactly what I wanted but it’s going to work out.

Doing Stuff

Last weekend, Abby and I went on another adventure to see a comedian. We drove to Colusa for Atstuko Okatsuka’s “Sacramento” tour stop. Colusa is a weird little place out in the the middle of nowhere but they have a casino and for some reason, that casino hosted the show. Their bingo hall was done up as if for a timeshare or pyramid scheme sales pitch. There were, for reasons no one understood, security guards positioned at either side of the stage. Just … in case? I guess? Abby and I once again struggled to get a pre-show meal, with the casino’s single, casual restaurant advising us of a 30-minute wait (we waited even longer than that). We eventually got food to go. That said, the show was hilarious and I love Atsuko and she loves us. She said she could see who was here as a casino VIP and who her real weirdos were. She also addressed the fact that we were out in the sticks, not Sacramento as advertised. One thing I like about her comedy is that she talks about her relationship with her husband in a way that’s really positive and loving. So many comedians are like “I hate my wife, am I right, fellas?” which was always more sad than funny (hot tip: You can marry someone you like!). Atsuko had some jokes about how she and her husband spend their time together and their inside jokes and it felt very genuine. We just don’t get a lot of representation for weird ladies in heterosexual partnerships who are having a good time. Thank you, Atsuko!

Kitchen Witchery

It’s cooling down and that means it’s soup season! I do make soups all year but it’s more satisfying during the fall. Unfortunately, I have no recipes to offer you today because both of these were a freestyle effort. I made a little soup with what I had in the pantry, namely cassoulet beans, a couple of potatoes and carrots, plus a perfect grilled cheese. I also made a bean chili with cornbread.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.