Two Weeks in the Life: December 10, 2023

Hello, friends and enemies. Last night, Kirk and I made a rare public appearance at Sacramento Roller Derby’s end of year awards party. I got the “announcer of the year” award, which I also received in 2018 and 2019. This makes me SRD’s only favorite announcer (the team was formed in 2018 after Sacramento’s two competing teams merged). I hope to continue my reign of terror for long enough that the award gets named after me or people start referring to me as “the voice of Sacramento Roller Derby,” like some of those old dudes who do sports commentary get nicknamed. I was very excited to have an excuse to finally wear my moth dress but people kept asking me if I was an avocado! Can you believe the nerve! I also made the mistake of asking a man there about his hobby. I found out there this guy associated with the team also unicycles after someone on facebook posted a picture of a car with an SRD sticker and a unicycle sticker to ask who this might be. People thought it was me (our car is, however, stickerless), but it was this man. So, I thought, let’s have a nice little chit chat about unicycling. How many people are out there doing the roller derby and unicycling, you know? I ended up living the titular essay of Men Explain Things to Me. This guy launched into a monologue about how he unicycles, his revolutionary technique of not holding on to the seat (which honestly took me a while to understand because, reader, one does not typically hold on to the seat while riding unless for a specific trick), and the only shoes that fit the specific needs of unicycling. I did not get in a word edgewise. Kirk told me afterwards that he assumed I was standing there thinking “I’ve mad a huge mistake.” He was right.

Current Events

Last weekend, I was talking to my dad and we got on the subject of Israel/Palestine. He asked me why I described the violence happening there as a genocide. I gave some reasons in the moment and even followed up with a few links but I have still been mulling over this question all week. Technically, genocide is a legal term with a specific definition that notably includes an element of intent. However, I think most of us, when we’re discussing events happening there, are using it in a more colloquial sense. We don’t have a lot of words available for us to describe the scale and brutality of Israel’s aggression against Palestinians. When we hear that for example, Israel has turned off communications or power or water to Gaza, or that Israel is ordering Gazans to evacuate but there are no safe places for them to go, that “at least 63 journalists and media workers were among the more than 16,000 killed since the war began on October 7″ because the IDF “could not guarantee the safety of their journalists operating in the Gaza Strip,” or—and this is from 2018—Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a plea “to declare as unlawful any regulations that allow soldiers to open fire at unarmed civilians.” I don’t think we have another framework or way to understand this outside of genocide, regardless of whether it is one, legally. Even so, the UN says that this situation is on the cusp of becoming a genocide. How much damage has to be done by the time we get to formally labeling something a genocide? By the time the UN is ready to call it that, how many more people will be dead?

The other thing that gets me, as a U.S. citizen is that this violence is being committed with our country’s explicit financial support. So, while I also think that Hamas killing civilians and taking hostages is bad (does this even need to be said?), Hamas and the Palestinian leadership do not have the institutional support that Israel does. Hamas hasn’t received a cumulative total of $318 billion in aid from the U.S. since World War II, but Israel has. My country gives $3 to $4 billion dollars a year to Israel, which is more than it gives to any other country. So, call me a naive idealist if you must, but I am not comfortable with my tax dollars funding something that’s on the brink of genocide. If describing this almost-genocide (per the UN) as a full-out genocide helps reduce this completely ridiculous flow of funds to a country that, from the start, planned to “transfer” Palestinians out of the country so Israelis could live there instead, then we should call it that. This might be a radical statement, but I don’t want my tax dollars paying for murder. I want it to pay for everyone here to be able to have good health care, a free or at least affordable education, and a place to live (because I am a rotten socialist, as we know). As I’ve written before, I don’t think it’s that complicated, although reaching a solution may, indeed, be very complicated. The United States removing its thumb (or, like, whole body) from the scale of this conflict by limiting itself to sending humanitarian aid would, in my non-expert opinion, go a long way to de-escalating this conflict and, perhaps, leave a little room for a solution to emerge.

Books and Other Words

Because the main way I know how to deal with things in my life is reading books about them, I read The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism by Dr. Jen Gunter. I learned a lot from this book. Dr. Gunter explains what happens in menopause and the signs of it, plus the type of health risks present for women in this stage of life. She went into a lot of detail about various menopause symptoms and how to treat them, with a particular focus on taking hormones and the research on the subject and the risks associated with each type. She also really went in on supplements and other “wellness” remedies that people sell to menopausal women. She pointed out the irony of people not wanting to trust “big pharma” but being willing to buy supplements whose effectiveness isn’t supported by research and that the FDA does not regulate. Dr. Gunter has a strong voice—this book isn’t just a list of facts—and a firm feminist perspective, which I of course appreciated. It’s really nice to just get a big book of everything you might need to know about menopause. I’m not there yet, but as I recently wrote, I think I might be coming up on menopause sooner than is typical. It’s reassuring to get some actual information and know what things are worth going to a doctor about.

I also read A Restless Truth and A Power Unbound, the second and third (and final) books, respectively, in Freya Marske’s The Last Binding series. A Power Unbound was so good! It was, ahem, notably smutty but also brought together the characters and story lines from the first two books in an extremely satisfying way. I think it’s really clever to add a queer, romantic element to a fantasy/magic tale. You get multiple dimensions of power differential that makes for an interesting story!

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Henry Kissinger, War Criminal Beloved by America’s Ruling Class, Finally Dies via Rolling Stone. Rotting in hell is not enough for this guy. What more can I say?
  • Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the prettiest Spotify Wrapped of them all? via Defector. Spotify, taste, and wanting to be truly seen. From the article, “A machine like Spotify exists in an eternal present. It is forever in need of new content and more content to survive. It is a platform that not only values quantity over quality to the nth degree, but also teaches its audiences to do the same. The audience, then, must be wary. We have to at least acknowledge that while the reflection of ourselves is beautiful and exciting, the mirror we see it in is haunted. We have to try and remember that to stream songs on Spotify is not supporting artists, and that if we love something, it deserves to be paid for. We have to believe that artists deserve more than fractions of pennies for art.”
  • #63 On collectively bottoming out via Recovering. This piece explores how easy it is to from snap judgments based on the headlines we see online.
  • And to end on a lighthearted one, please enjoy this absolutely inspired video of a opossum prancing across a football field.

TV and Music

The last few days, I haven’t been able to stop listening to Jungle’s album Volcano. You might have heard some of their song Back on 74 making the social media rounds a few months ago because they had some kind of dance video challenge, but the whole album and the music videos are very much worth your full attention. Their music videos for this album all have this kind of backstage at a theater feel and the choreography is so fun. I think my favorite song from the album is Dominoes, but honestly they’re all bangers.

One of my wonderful friends has started a podcast! It’s called LitFriends and my friend Lito and his “lit friend” Annie interview pairs of authors who are good friends. I really enjoyed the first episode and was surprised to be feeling some feelings while listening to a podcast. The first episode’s guests, Angela Flournoy and Justin Torres talked about being chosen family and actually reframed the idea of chosen family, explaining that chosen family seems like you did it once and it’s over, but we actually chose our families again and again. I was expecting a podcast about books and literature, and it is also that, but it really went into our relationships with art and each other and I just really liked it. This episode actually made me think of my friend Anne, with whom I had a friend-breakup earlier in the pandemic. I don’t think I’ve discussed it here on the blog because I try to keep other people’s personal business private (even though it’s intersecting with my business), but we got in a spat and then she stopped talking to me and told me she would talk to me again when she was ready. After several months I tried to talk to her and she said she still wasn’t ready, didn’t know when or if she would be, and didn’t want to discuss the problem. Listening to this episode had me thinking that Anne stopped choosing me as family and that helps me a little bit in dealing with how that whole event made me feel. Anyway, I am looking forward to more LitFriend episodes.

Corporeal Form

This year has brought several new ailments to light—osteoarthritis, osteopenia, vulvodynia—but I actually have one more developing ailment that I haven’t talked about yet because it’s taken a while to really know what’s going on. Don’t worry, it’s nothing dire. But it is very ughhhh.

a bent out of shape plastic alligator toy that looks like it's rolling its eyes and sighing. Text says "things that make you go"

The short version of this is that I may have or be on the way to having fatty liver disease. The longer version is that I got a blood test earlier this year that showed mildly elevated levels of alanine transaminase (ALT), which indicates something is fucked up with my liver. I got another blood test in October and the levels were still a little high, so my doctor sent me for a more detailed blood panel. This week, I met with a gastroenterologist to discuss the results, although she didn’t tell me much beyond what I had already learned from researching my test results online. So, my higher ALT levels mean I could be heading towards fatty liver disease. My blood tests also found that I have a low level of something called alpha-1 antitrypsin, which a genetic deficiency that can result in lung or liver disease. The gastroenterologist is going to order some kind of genome testing for me to confirm this one, and I’m supposed to get an abdominal ultrasound in about a week to see what’s happening with my liver. The doctor wants me to lose five to ten pounds in the next six months and then do another blood test to see how things are going.

Something fun (sarcasm) is that doctors don’t really know what causes fatty liver disease, but being fat or having sleep apnea (which I do) are risk factors. Another fun thing (extreme sarcasm) is there’s no real treatment for it. The doctor told me that losing five to ten percent of one’s body weight can reduce the risk of liver issues. Note that reduced risk is not the same as “cure” or “treat.” She then went on to annoy the shit out of me with some worthless weight loss advice. She told me I should exercise regularly. I told her I take six hours of dance class per week and she said she’s “not asking me to run a marathon or lift weights,” so of course I was like, “I do lift weights” and she didn’t really respond to that. She also told me to not drink soda (I don’t) and I should cook meals at home. It was at this point that I struggled not to shout “you don’t even fucking know me!” If you read this blog, you already know I cook all the time, which I told the doctor. But, you know, can you really believe a fat person about their health? She also, completely unprompted, offered to refer me for a bariatric surgery consultation! I do not fucking want bariatric surgery! Why would I sign up for feeling hungry all the time when I know I get extremely hangry and sometimes I feel like I’m going to throw up if I don’t eat right now. I’m not going to get a surgery to reduce my stomach to the size of, as my mom always puts it, a highlighter. Fuck all the way off.

I’m just so, so tired of doctors being like “have you heard the good word of taking a 20-minute walk every day?” As if I’m going to be like “oh my god, I have not! Thank you so much. That really is a great idea” then immediately lose 100 pounds. Listen, if it were possible to lose weight in the long term, people would not be fat. I would not be fat. I know this because there is really nothing else in my life that, having decided I want to do it, I haven’t been able to do. I mean, I can jump rope on a fucking unicycle. Do you think I couldn’t lose a little weight if I wanted to? I have tried to lose weight many times. I spent much of my teen life and my whole adult life trying to lose weight. If long-term, significant weight loss were possible, why would the weight loss industry be worth $75 billion? Why can’t my doctor give me any advice other than “don’t drink your calories” or “eat a piece of fruit when you’re hungry”? Because they don’t fucking know! My body wants to be fat. It is waiting for a Scandinavian winter or a famine to hit and then I will be pleased for my copious fat stores that help me survive. However, it’s 2023 and I live in California. I’m still fat (and I look fantastic).

If you think I’m just a bitter, misguided, fat crackpot on this issue, I’d encourage you to read the very well written and well researched books by Aubrey Gordon, What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Fat and “You Just Need to Lose Weight:” And 19 Myths about Fat People. You could also try reading The F*ck It Diet: Eating Should be Easy by Caroline Dooner. Maybe even read You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar. If you don’t want to read, try listening to the Maintenance Phase episodes Is Being Fat Bad for You? or The Trouble with Calories.

Moving It

My dance recital is fast approaching and you are invited! It’s next Friday evening and you can buy a ticket here.

I was thinking about how this time last year is when I started worrying about my knees. I was feeling really sore and crunchy after last December’s recital and I thought I had overdone it somehow. After getting diagnosed with arthritis and going through almost a year being aware of it, I’ve realized that the cold weather is just a lot harder on my joints. This is such an old woman thing to say, but it seems to be true. The knees are just stiff and crunchy in December. They will feel better in a few months when things warm up.

Kitchen Witchery

Although I swear I also made real food over the last two weeks, I’ve been focused on holiday baking. I realized I had to get my cookie situation sorted in a hurry if I wanted to bring some treats to my dance teachers before our recital and holiday break. So Elk Grove’s most exclusive bakery has been hard at work over the last week. I made my signature treat, million peso shortbread (based on this recipe) and everyone’s favorite M&M sugar cookies. Not to be a shill, but something about the Christmas colored M&Ms in a cookie makes me feel very festive. I also made this orange olive oil cake, but skipped the glaze, which dries out the cake if you don’t eat it right away, and instead put a little layer of sugar on top before baking. I think that worked a lot better! Finally, because I need everyone to know that I also fail regularly, I tried this microwave nut brittle recipe for peanut brittle. We did not achieve brittle. We achieved goop. I think this would actually mix well into some ice cream. Kirk also suggested rolling it up like a popcorn ball. It tastes good, it’s just not the right texture. I should have checked the temperature even though I was cooking it in the microwave. Lesson learned!

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. It’s cuddling and blanket season here.