Two Weeks in the Life: October 29, 2023

Hello, friends and enemies. I generally think of myself as productive and not hampered by executive dysfunction, but other times I get completely stymied by how many steps a process has and I’ve really been feeling this lately. For example, I had some shirts to return. This involves going to the post office, and that involves finding a time to go, being willing to stand around in public, and getting dressed beforehand. And if I’m doing all that to go outside, I should probably do some more errands like return my library books. I had to print a return label, which had been the sticking point in this process for the last two weeks. I knew my printer was going to be annoying. I had to connect it to our new wifi network, which changed when we switched to fiber internet last month. Then I knew I would have to run various head cleaning and other maintenance things because the damn thing never prints correctly on the first try. On Friday, I managed to overcome my resistance to doing so many tasks but the head cleaning didn’t fix anything so I just printed a several unusable shipping labels. I finally gave up and sent the label to the local fedex store for printing (more tasks!). The good news is that I did eventually get the shirts in the mail.

Apparently, this kind of view on tasks is very neurodivergent. Most people would just see “print the label” or “return the shirts” as the whole task, whereas I’ve got ten things to do to reach the same goal. It’s exhausting. Another version of this that is wearing me out daily now is our shower. You may remember two posts ago when I said our shower isn’t draining right. It’s still not. We had a contractor come out and agree that it’s shit and the whole floor and 18 inches of tile (at minimum) needs to be ripped up. The original contractor also sent someone out when we asked for them to look at it. Their guy said “This is bad. Who did this?” YOU DID, MY DUDE. We’ve called the contractor to follow up but haven’t heard back from them as promised. Shocking stuff. So, we’re showing in the other bathroom, but the other bathroom is where the cat litter box is. That means that showering now involves moving the cat litter box, putting the bath mat on the floor (we hang it over the shower curtain rod when not in use because, again, cat litter box), and then taking a shower. Plus I have to do the whole thing in reverse afterwards. This is adding way too many steps to a daily process and, it might sound ridiculous, but it’s super draining (unlike my stupid shower!!). I constantly feel like Hal in this scene from Malcolm in the Middle. Although I do feel like I’ve been getting a lot of stuff done lately, the background on that is everything I do has all these little extra steps that are making me crazy.

Current Events

I’ve been reading up on the Israel/Palestine conflict over the last two weeks. I am feeling a bit ashamed of my ignorance because I honestly didn’t know a lot about it. I have heard for my whole life that this issue is just too complicated. What I’ve learned, however, is it’s seriously not complicated. I don’t mean this in a “I read a few articles and now I’m an expert” way, but like, it’s a much more clear-cut issue than I was led to believe. Reading about how Israel was founded was extremely eye-opening. Palestine became a British colony after World War I. According to Palestine: A Socialist Introduction (currently free as an ebook!), which I read last week,

Britain privileged the small Jewish population over the Palestinians. In 1917 there were 56,000 Jews in Palestine and 644,000 Palestinians. Nonetheless, Britain gave 90 percent of concessions for projects like building roads and power plants to Jewish capitalists, and by 1935, Zionists owned 872 out of the 1,221 industrial firms in Palestine.

Palestine: A Socialist Introduction

Wow! It really always does go back to the fucking British empire. Britain did this, despite being “rabidly antisemitic,” because they wanted to pay someone to keep the Arab population in check and they wanted to support Zionism because they were a powerful opposing force to the leftism otherwise prevalent in Europe’s Jewish working class. It only gets worse. During World War II, Israel’s leadership had opportunities to take in Jews fleeing the holocaust, but they “sabotaged proposal after proposal” because they didn’t want poor and old Jews immigrating. The state also confiscated over a million acres of farmland from Arab people to give to Israelis, often after setting off bombs to level entire villages. It’s just disgusting. This is all public knowledge! This stuff is on Wikipedia. It’s not a secret but it’s also not exactly what they tell you in the news either.

Returning to the present, Israel “imposed a ‘complete siege‘” of Gaza, cutting off supplies and power. Israel has now also shut off internet and phone services, which has cut off Palestinians from the rest of the world. Not to be histrionic, but this is war crime stuff (although, to pause for a little philosophy, shouldn’t all war be crime? But you get my point, I’m sure). Israel is unequivocally wrong here. Another article that stuck with me was this one, which describes how Israel has even limited how much of the sea Palestine has access to. It hadn’t even occurred to me that Palestine had a coast, but of course it is on the Mediterranean. the article explains that, in 1995, “Palestine was allocated a 20-nautical mile zone for economic activities and subsea extraction.” Now they’re down to three. This means Israel reaps the profits for the gas production just 15 miles offshore. Everything I read has me massaging my temples and whispering “Jesus fucking Christ” to myself. Every single thing is like this.

Big, global conflict stuff like this is depressing in part because it feels like there’s nothing we can do to stop it. I know you like it when I provide some concrete ideas, so here are a few things we can do on this issue:

  • The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is working to put economic pressure on Israel similar to tactics used to pressure South Africa to end Apartheid. Here’s some information about companies you can boycott to get you started. One company I am going to start personally boycotting: Sabra Hummus! People on instagram have also been spreading the word about boycotts, calling out L’Oreal, Nestlè, and Disney as brands to boycott, among others.
  • On the other hand, you can buy something from a Palestinian business. One option: Hirbawi, the “last and only” kufiya factory operating in Palestine.
  • For those of us in the United States, contact your elected representatives. Tell them they need to demand a de-escalation and call for a cease fire. Jewish Voice for Peace has a call script you can use. If, like me, you hate calling, you can use something like Resistbot to send your thoughts in via a messenger app.
  • Straight up send cash. I understand that Anera is doing a good job distributing funds. Doctors Without Borders also has a campaign going on for Gaza support.

Books and Other Words

I accidentally got on a Martha Wells kick the last couple weeks. I read her new book, Witch King, which had some really interesting things in it but the plot wasn’t really one of them. The story alternates between past events in which all the characters met and escaped some harrowing circumstances, and the present where they are escaping a new harrowing circumstance and rescuing one of the character’s wives. The world was cool, the characters had a lot of potential, but the resolution had me kinda like “that’s it?” Sorry, Martha! I’ve also been re-reading Wells’ Murderbot series, starting with All Systems Red, in anticipation for a new book coming out in November. Murderbot is a SecUnit, a human/bot construct whose job is to keep clients alive when they go on trips to dangerous places. Murderbot would prefer to do no such thing, and wants to hang around and watch its TV shows. Hilarity ensues. Most fans of the series, myself included, find Murderbot to be very autism-coded and that’s part of the joy of the story. Its a bot construct but really it’s a metaphor for being autistic and dealing with people.

No Meat Required: The Cultural History and Culinary Future of Plant-based Eating by Alicia Kennedy is a book I wasn’t sure if I was going to resonate with. I follow Kennedy’s substack, From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy, because I like what she has to say about food, so I was curious about the book, and it didn’t disappoint. Let’s get this out of the way: I’m not going vegan (or even vegetarian). I’m just interested in food and food discourse. I liked this book and really appreciated how Kennedy got into the politics and consumerism around food, even vegetarian and vegan food. The chapters all dealt with interesting facets of non-meat eating, like the punk roots of veganism with cookbooks like Soy Not Oi! or the chapter about how vegan “cheese” is made (which, shockingly, made me want to try some of the fancy things people are making now, not as a cheese replacement, but just to see what people can do). One theme in the book was not eating meat is about celebrating all the great food that already exists, not making a bunch of faux-meat products to sell at Target so corporations can make money. This resonated with me because I do like vegetarian food but I hate the fake vegan food that’s trying hard to be meat. Just eat a veggie burger made of beans or vegetables! What is the point of making non-meat that approximates meat? Who wants that? Vegans don’t want it. Omnivores would rather eat the meat. Kennedy states that “vegetarianism and veganism reject the consumerist, efficiency-driven, labor-abusing, environmentally taxing status quo on which the US food system is based” and I think that is the most persuasive argument for vegetarianism that I’ve heard yet.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

TV and Music

Since we finished watching Stargate: SG-1 last year, Kirk and I have been leisurely working our way through Stargate: Atlantis when we need something to watch. It’s not a brilliant show, but it’s reasonably entertaining. The last two weeks though we’ve been in a rush to finish it because, of course, Hulu is about to remove it from the platform. We have something like 4 days and 5 episodes left. This keeps happening to us. We never finished the last season of Babylon 5 because that also got removed from its platform. It’s annoying because the promise of streaming was that you can watch anything anytime but of course that was a lie and we’re all paying for more and more fragmented services to try to get all the things we want to watch.

Knitting and Crafts

I finally finished a knitting something! This has been a very slow year for knitting for me, which is fine. Hobbies ebb and flow, but it still feels gratifying to make something. This is a new pair of gloves that I made for Mandy. The pattern is spiced cocoa on Ravelry and I used Noro yarn. It was a nice, simple pattern and I like the results. I haven’t blocked them so don’t judge any lumps you may see!

Kitchen Witchery

I’ve been on a bit of a pumpkin kick because, in at least this sense, I’m pretty basic. I made pumpkin rolls, which is a recipe I love, and I tried a pumpkin cinnamon roll. The cinnamon rolls were good but I think they needed double, or at least one-and-a-half times the filling. I’m a maniac like that. I made a batch of pumpkin and goat cheese macaroni, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before. I probably only make it once per year but we both really enjoy it. By request, I experimented with the concha cookie recipe to make a chocolate topping. I think I ended up adding about two teaspoons of cocoa powder instead of adding food coloring. In retrospect, I should have added a little water or something with it because it came out super crumbly. It was good though. Finally, I made a potato-leek soup with spiced chickpeas. I already had a leek and potato soup recipe that I liked, but this one adds chickpeas into the soup so it’s a little more filling than the strictly potatoes version. Plus the crispy chickpeas on top are enjoyable. As a bonus for Great British Bake Off fans, I’ll note that this recipe is from Chetna!

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Huey has spent almost a whole year loving this little box. It showed up last Christmas and she immediately claimed it. She has even resisted the urge to bite it apart, as she would normally do with anything made of cardboard or paper. Unfortunately, we finally had to throw the box away this week because she pooped in it (reasons unknown!). Kirk threw the box out and Huey spent the next two hours glaring at him and pouting. Sure, it’s Huey’s fault for ruining the box, but she’s still convinced that Kirk did her dirty.