Two Weeks in the Life: April 23, 2023

Hello, friends and enemies. Today I must begin with a strange little anecdote. Friday night before bed, Fritz was glued to the open window (we have gone straight from cold, heater-on weather to windows-open-all-night weather, by the way. Love that global warming!), and I could hear some weird animal sounds outside. I thought maybe it was squirrels or whatever since the squirrel gang runs our yard. When Kirk joined me in the bedroom, he asked what the sound was and I hand waved it away saying it’s some kind of creature making its little creature noises. Kirk was not satisfied by this explanation. He pointed a flashlight out the window to see what Fritz was so focused on, only to see, just under our bedroom window, two opossums engaged in coitus. I’m glad my backyard is a welcoming space for our favorite little marsupial, so safe that they can fuck right outside. I feel just like Cinderella with her little mice. It also seems that young Fritzopher is something of a voyeur; he kept his vigil even after Kirk shut the windows.

a wide-eyed hamster on a couch. Text reads: I can't fucking take it/seriously I'm at my limit
seriously I’m at my limit

In non-creature news, I saw my new doctor this week. She’s already miles better than the last guy I was seeing by merely listening to the words I’m saying and asking questions. Revolutionary! She is also very concerned about my dumb bones (my words, not hers) and said she was going to consult with the endocrinologist to see what kind of tests or course of action I might need. Although osteopenia isn’t necessarily a hormone issue, considering that it often appears after women go through menopause, its presence in my body could suggest a hormone imbalance. I also told the doctor that my TMJ has been bothering me a lot and she referred me to physical therapy. I’m really feeling at my PT limit, but I don’t know what else I can do about it. I’m glad that there’s something to be done about it, but all this PT is, well, a lot.

Books and Other Words

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

  • The Big Con: How the Consulting Industry Weakens Our Businesses, Infantilizes Our Governments, and Warps Our Economies by Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington. This book looks at the history and politics of governments gradually outsourcing work to contractors over the course of the twentieth century. The authors argue that this practice has left most governments bereft of institutional knowledge and at the mercy of consulting firms. Relying on consultants is neoliberal slight of hand a little like charter schools, where private groups siphon resources that could have been invested for everyone’s benefit. I thought this was particularly interesting because, uh, well, I work for a government contractor. I’m not a consultant—I’m an editor—but I’m part of this ecosystem. It’s a little awkward because I agree with the authors that government investment in public-sector work would be better, but I’m also living in this system where I’m getting better pay and more flexibility in my work by not being a government employee. I guess there’s no ethical employment in capitalism.
  • Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey. This book is exactly what it sounds like. It’s by the woman behind instagram’s The Nap Ministry and it is really a book telling us all the slow way down, get in touch with our inner needs and our community, and reject capitalism. Hersey also explains that rest is a form of reparations for Black people, which, when you consider the history of this country in particular, seems extremely fair. People need to rest! No more hustling, no grinding, just resting.
  • The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan. You all know me, if a book is about witches, I will read it. Even though this is a heterosexual romance about a horse girl and a horse boy (is a horse boy even a thing? What’s the boy equivalent?), I enjoyed the story. It was fun to read and I liked the way the author dealt with the magic system and the romance. It reminded me a little of A Discovery of Witches in that the characters are part of the magical lineage of Bridget Bishop (of Salem witch trials “fame”). Although in this world, two schools of witchcraft are the crux of a disagreement between Bridget’s magical progeny. I enjoyed the book enough that I looked up the author’s other books.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. This is another magical romance, except with a fairy lord and a peasant girl. Classic. This was popcorn book (fun and easy to eat, not particularly filling) and I did like it well enough despite its basic-ness. I saw a review that perfectly expresses my feelings, stating “*eye roll* on to the next one.” You and me both, sister.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • How RuPaul created a castle for queer beauty via Literary Hub. RuPaul’s Drag Race winner and drag genius in her own right Sasha Velour has a book coming out and has been making the publicity rounds. To me, she’s the smartest person to ever come form the franchise and I love reading what she has to say about drag and gender.
  • The Venture Brothers movie trailer is here! I love this show and am so glad they’re getting one last hurrah.
  • This is not an article but it’s too nutty not to share. I was shopping online for a new set of sheets, reading reviews as one does, and ran into this. I cannot emphasize how extremely normal and unadorned these sheets are, by the way.
A product review of sheets that says: Sheets are thin, not sure why they cost so much. I bought based on a review site's suggestion. I wish there were more bold/dark colors available. I got the darkest blue and it's very much a baby blue. The hem is also very effeminate. Men need bedsheets too!
Fellas, is bedding gay?

Autism Thoughts

I’ve been seeing a lot more autism content on instagram lately (thanks, algorithm![?]) and some of the stuff I shared generated a lot of conversation, so I thought, maybe this needs its own blog section. We’re trying it out!

I saw this video captioned “something I didn’t realize was autism until I was diagnosed,” and found it very relatable. There’s so much stuff about autism that I don’t find out about until I see autistic and neurodivergent people comparing their experiences.

screenshot of a tweet from @AmberlynWhite that says: i know for a fact that a small panel of Autistic people could better diagnose Autism than an embarrassingly large amount of neuropsychologists
Let us diagnose each other!

The gist of the video is that autistic people don’t think to ask get-to-know-you type questions like “where are you from?” or “do you have brothers and sisters?” I, too, didn’t realize this was an autistic behavior until I saw this video. It just never occurred to me that this is an autistic trait and not a personal failing (shout out to all of us going through life thinking our autistic ways are personal failings). It made me remember the time when I was 14 and some neighbors invited my family for dinner. I was really trying to behave because my step-mom had been on me about not being a rude jerk (read: acting autistic. Except we didn’t know I was autistic). The neighbors asked me a lot of questions about myself and I just answered them and tried to roll with the conversation. When we left, my step-mom was livid! She said I was incredibly rude for talking about myself the whole time. I thought, if they’re asking, I’m supposed to answer. I was missing the secret instruction that you’re supposed to ask a similar question in return. How dare!

I found my friends’ responses to this video really interesting. I got a few “so it’s not just me personally failing at being a person?” and several people said they felt that the process of mirroring questions makes it feel like the other person is just waiting for their turn to talk. I agree with that. It feels broken to me if the only reason you ask someone how they are is to get them to ask you the same. I’d rather my friends feel like they can just come up and start telling me about how they feel. They don’t have to wait for an invitation. Similarly, I don’t think that not playing question mirror with people means we’re incurious. I think autistic and neurodivergent friends are way more likely to build off the information offered and ask more in-depth questions, or share something related from their own experience. That feels much more satisfying to me than trading anodyne questions. Then again, what do I know? I’m autistic.

Kitchen Witchery

It’s so hard to take good food photos. I usually snap them right before I’m going to eat so there’s not a lot of artistic thought here, just a little record of food I’ve made. That said, I tried a couple new bean recipes the last couple weeks to use what I got in my bean subscription (it’s weird, I know, but I enjoy it). I tried this carrot-bean soup with miso and dill with mayocoba beans, which was good. Then I used the rest of the beans to make some tacos (not pictured). Last night I made this beans au gratin with flagolet beans, served with a roasted potato and arugula salad (recipe from Latin Grilling) and some rolls. I thought the gratin came out really good. I was a little worried that it would just be a big mushy texture, but it managed to have different textures and flavors and be tasty. Finally, because we always need dessert, I made a strawberries and cream bar from the 100 Cookies cookbook, which has become a reliable source of treats for me. I’m not usually a fan of fruit, but that’s mostly a texture problem for me. Strawberries actually taste great and I liked these bars a lot. Kirk loves strawberry so I’m sure I’ll be making this again.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.