Two Weeks in the Life: February 17, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. As usual, it seems like there’s a lot going on here. I would like to have less happening but alas, I am at least partially at the mercy of events beyond my control. I’ve been feeling a little sick this week (not covid, as far as I can tell), Huey hasn’t been feeling good either. We had to have someone come examine the foundation of our house because one of the floorboards in our kitchen is bowed and sticking up in a weird way. It turns out that our house, like apparently most of the houses in this neighborhood, is gradually sinking in to the Earth. It’s not quite bad enough yet that we have to act—the threshold for action is a one-inch differential between the highest and lowest points in the foundation and our worst spot is 0.8″—but it is now on the list of things we’ll need to plan for. Fortunately, it is not nearly as bad as it could be and the fix involves only reinforcing a corner of the foundation, not the whole thing, to the tune of $11,000.

As for my self-inflicted busyness, I published my voter guides this week! I wrote the English version then translated it into Spanish and got some editorial support from Ana, my teacher. Please share them with your friends and family if you find them useful! These do take a fair bit of effort but I am happy to do it because many of you have told me you appreciate them and refer to them when figuring out how you want to vote. I love that! Here are the links to this election’s guides:

Books and Other Words

Roxane Gay’s Opinions: A decade of arguments, criticism, and minding other people’s business is a collection of opinion pieces she has published in various outlets over the last decade. I always appreciate Gay’s writing because her ideas bring me depth and nuance. It was a little jarring to read all these short essays in a row though because every one feels like a stopping point, so it’s hard to keep reading. I was also reminded of so many horrors from the last decade (yay?), which was, let’s say, good and bad. So much has happened in that period. Maybe so much is always happening but it feels really hard to witness it all and Gay has borne witness and recorded her thoughts for us.

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty is a really fun historical fantasy adventure. I loved Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy so of course I had to read her new book. Like her previous stories, Amina al-Sirafi is grounded in Arab folklore, which I really enjoy. This story features a bad-ass retired pirate who gets pulled back into the game and has to get the old crew back together. Highly recommended!

I picked up Cheese Sex Death: A Bible for the Cheese Obsessed by Erika Kubick from the library because I started following the author’s instagram where she posts short videos inviting us to “cheese church” to worship the body of Cheesus. The book treats cheese as a divine manifestation of Mother Earth. Learning about Her from Her prophets (cheese mongers and makers) and participating in the sacrament of consuming Her body is all part of a sacred ritual for Kubick. I actually learned a lot about cheese and where it comes from and its many varieties (excuse me, I mean Cheesus and Her many divine bodies). The book itself is beautiful and has illustrations in the style of stained glass. It is also clearly taking inspiration from Christianity, which is a little tired but for a good cause (Cheesus). I had to laugh because one of the blurbs on the cover says the book is “irreverent.” On the contrary, this is the most reverent book I’ve read in ages. It can be considered irreverent if you think reverence applies only to major religions. Kubick has an abundance of reverence for Cheesus and wants us to join her in worship.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Senate passes aid package for Ukraine and Israel, but its future is uncertain in the House via NBC News. I would love to know why the Senate is throwing another $14 billion dollars at Israel for “security assistance” while also authorizing $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Palestinians. I may not be a fancy senator, but it seems to me would could get a two-for-one on our spending by simply not giving Israel more money to terrorize Gaza, which will then necessitate more humanitarian aid? Make it make sense. Stop giving Israel money for genocide! The Department of Education says that student loan debt relief would cost around $30 billion a year for ten years. Let’s do that instead of throwing money at Israel.
  • California’s war on plastic bags seems to have backfired. Lawmakers are trying again via Los Angeles Times. About 10 years ago, Californians voted to get rid of single-use plastic bags, but an idiotic loophole lead to stores offering heavier-weight “recyclable” bags and charging us 10 cents apiece. A consumer advocacy group reported that by 2022, “tonnage of discarded plastic bags had skyrocketed to 231,072—a 47% jump.” This obviously sucks. It’s also so hard to avoid plastic bags if you order online and pickup from the store. I can’t give my reusable bag to Target before I pick up my order. I’m not sure what the solution is. Maybe back to the thin, cheap plastic? Paper bags? Tote bags you return to the store somehow? The Target employees just shoving a handful of loose objects into my car when I go for curbside pickup? The Governor signed a law last year to phase out single-use plastics, with at least 30% of plastic items sold being recyclable by 2028. It’s good that the new law will put the onus on manufacturers rather than consumers. I hope it helps because I’m getting really tired of all this plastic trash!
  • Against disruption: On the bulletpointization of books via Literary Hub. Maybe the experience of reading cannot be distilled into bullet points for business-maxxed corporate queens? Yes, we get information from books but part of what’s great about books is experiencing them and forming your own opinions. But what do I know, I’m not a CEO.
  • Government services should be delightful! via The White Pages. I think people wouldn’t complain so much about paying taxes if they actually went to things that clearly benefited people and the system didn’t seem designed to inflict the most misery possible. There’s no reason we couldn’t spend tax money on something like the Finnish baby box discussed in the article instead of, say, giving Israel the world’s biggest allowance (yes, I am mad and planning to stay mad about this). We deserve better.

TV and Music

Kirk and I have been having a lot of fun watching Game Changer on Dropout. It’s a game show that invites improv comedians to play, but what game they play changes almost every episode. I had seen some clips online and it looked hilarious so we are finally watching it. If you like shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway, you will enjoy Game Changer.

Doing Stuff

a paper plate carrying crackers, bread, and six small cups, each containing a different soup
soup tasting

For a couple of years before the pandemic, I had a cookbook club where a group of us would get together every couple months and cook different recipes from the same book. That particular group is no more, but we have made a new version with a slightly different approach. Last Saturday we had our SOUPer Bowl party and invited everyone to bring a soup to share. It was a lot of fun! We had a huge variety of soups, from pozole to clam chowder to pickle. I can’t wait for the next one, which will feature a different type of food. It was also really nice to socialize with people. I know, I’m not a big socializer, but something like this is a lot of fun for me. Plus I love to show off my cooking! I made potato-leek soup with spiced chickpeas and it seemed to be a hit.

Corporeal Form

I did finally get the lab results from my liver biopsy, however I still haven’t heard from my doctor about it all. I spent about an hour looking up every technical term in the report that Kaiser posted online to figure out what it means. The good news is my liver is not too fat. Of the sample they analyzed, 35 percent showed evidence of fatty liver. This isn’t great but it’s also not the worst. This barely puts me in the middle level of severity, which starts at 34 percent. The other good news is there is “mild regenerative change,” which means my liver seems like it’s healed itself, if just a little. I am not sure if I can credit that to working with my dietician, since I don’t think the liver can change that quickly, but I am hoping I can get this to a place where it’s at least not actively getting worse. The only thing to do now is keep making adjustments to make my liver healthy (or, according to my doctor, lose weight. lol).

Kitchen Witchery

I haven’t done a whole lot of cooking the last couple of weeks because my stomach hasn’t been feeling great. I don’t know if I ate something weird or have the flu or who knows what but I am straight-up not having a good time and I may or may not have thrown up while in the car at some point last week. I thought maybe the fruit smoothies were the problem, but I was still feeling the ick after not having smoothies for a few days. I did a couple of dinners of cheese and crackers and nuts because I know nothing about that is going to feel bad for me. I’ve also added these Harvest Snaps pea crisps into the mix because my dietitian recommended snacks like that to get a little more fiber into my diet. They’re surprisingly good! I’ve been looking for more ways to eat flax meal because although I like oatmeal I cannot commit to eating it every day. I tried out putting some flax in pancakes. I wasn’t shocked that this succeeded because you can put basically anything in pancake batter and pancakes are like “yeah, sure, go for it.” I also tried out this soft sandwich bread with flax. It is indeed very soft! She does not want to stand up and is very squishy. That is okay because it’s a pretty good bread. Then I made some muffins with flax. The recipe is for blueberry muffins but I think at this point you all know I don’t really do fruit. So I swapped in some chocolate chips and jammy bits plus a little bit of sliced almonds for good measure. They came out really good and Kirk seems to be a fan too.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Poor Queen Huey had to go to the vet this week. She’s been peeing on the floor a lot. Unfortunately, it took us a few days to realize she was the criminal in question because Fritz is a known pee pee vandal. It turned out she just has a UTI again and needed antibiotics. I’m relieved it’s not something more serious because it seemed for a few days that she had totally lost control of her bladder. She’s doing better now and hasn’t peed on the floor for the last few days (if we don’t count the times when she’s right next to the litter box and misses). Please keep her in your worshipful thoughts! They bring her strength!