Two Weeks in the Life: June 9, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. My best news this week is we had ceiling fans installed in our bedroom, my office, and our guest room! I am heading into the summer with an abundance of cool air. I’m happy to replace my stand fans with something more robust and I’m glad to have a better lighting situation in my office—the fan has an overhead light so I can ditch my floor lamp. I’m always shocked that ceiling fans are not standard because my former-electrician dad put them in every room in the house growing up. Why would you not have a ceiling fan? And in California? Anyway, I have now raised my standard of living as it pertains to staying cool and I’m feeling very good about it.

Last weekend, we went to Calistoga (a town north-west of Napa) because I wanted to go to a hot spring. I told Kirk that’s what I wanted for my birthday, but we didn’t make it a day-of birthday event. We’ve found the weekend after Memorial Day a good time to go places because people try to make the most of the three-day weekend so not so many people are is out the following weekend. I had a nice time getting a massage and floating around in geothermal pools of varying temperatures. It was super relaxing and I wish I could do it all the time. I wore a new swimsuit, which I also wore to the dip and dip party we had last month. This probably isn’t notable for most people but it is the first time in my life I’ve had a two-piece swimsuit that shows my midsection. What’s cool is no one actually cares. It feels like a big deal to me but literally no one at the pool gave me a second look (except for the woman who stopped me to say I looked cute).

I’ve been thinking about this a lot because crop tops are coming back into fashion. It reminded me that they were big when I was in middle and high school and I was not allowed to wear them. I also didn’t want to wear them because I was a big rule-follower and I had learned at church that we have to dress “modestly,” which includes covering one’s stomach and shoulders so we don’t encourage the boys to sin. Because shoulders are the devil’s, uh … I dunno, but they’re bad. One time I went to a church dance and they were checking the girls’ outfits at the door. Your skirt or shorts had to be at least as far down your thigh as your fingertips when you had your arms down. We also had to hold our arms above our heads to make sure our shirts didn’t pull up and show our middle. If the shirt was too short, they safety pinned the shirt to the waistband of your pants. I found this rigamarole annoying but not incorrect. I was given a set of rules to follow (showing your midriff = sinful) and I was strict about it. I remember thinking other girls were slutty for wearing cropped shirts. I made a big fuss about getting a dress for prom that wasn’t strapless because I’d spent my adolescence being told that wearing anything less than a capped sleeve was wrong. However, when I started college at Brigham Young University, I learned I wasn’t following the rules firmly enough. I actually got turned away from the dining hall because my shorts were above my knees, which was pretty shocking to me because they were fairly long shorts (just not fully to the knee). Those few inches of thigh will incite people to sin (lol shoot me)!

Even though I have long since rejected the rules about what’s appropriate to wear according to Mormonism (most people who see me in real life know I am rarely seen wearing a sleeve), it’s funny (sad) that I have still had a hard time with crop tops. But that’s not just the last vestiges of Mormon upbringing haunting my sartorial choices. I think what made this particular rule so strong with me is that it intersects with what I’ve been told about what you should or shouldn’t wear while fat. When I was growing up, we had Clinton and Stacy of What Not to Wear telling us how to “hide a tummy,” for just one example (see also The Millennial Vernacular of Fatphobia if you need to be reminded of how rough it was back then). Now I am older and wiser and care less. And I know you can’t hide your fat! Even if I made all the “flattering” choices, wore a different swimsuit to the pool, or maybe, as the linked clip suggests, wore a structured blazer all the time, I would still be fat. People would still know I am fat. There is really no secret way to not look fat if you are fat. That’s okay! There is only being comfortable and confident versus uncomfortable and insecure. I really am happy to see more of a cultural shift happening in how we think about our bodies. It’s not universal of course but there are enough people out there being like “it’s fine, it’s no big deal. Just wear what you want,” that it’s making a difference. I’m happy that I can wear a swim suit that shows my stomach even though that seems like such a low bar to clear.

Books and Other Words

Devil’s Gun by Cat Rambo is a sequel to You Sexy Thing. I did not realize that a third book is due to come out this fall or I might have waited to read this and re-read You Sexy Thing too because I had forgotten a lot of details, but Rambo helpfully gives a summary of events so far at the beginning of Devil’s Gun. It’s a space opera, found-family situation which I am always going to love. The writing style is quick and pithy and I find this to be a highly enjoyable series to read.

The Other Significant Others: Reimagining Life with Friendship at the Center by Rhaina Choen is an exploration of how life looks when a romantic partner isn’t the (or the only) focus of one’s life. There are people out there who are best friends who live together and organize their lives around each other. I think that’s wonderful. Choen proposes that there are other ways to orient our lives than only around romance and looks into the history and politics of the subject while providing several case studies of friends who are centering each other in their lives. One interesting example of how our understanding of friendship has changed was that, in the middle ages, best friends could make a marriage-like vow to each other. Historically, same-sex friends had been socially permitted to hold hands and talk about each other in ways that would now be seen as romantic, but that changed in the last century when the culture shifted and more people learned of homosexuality and started fearing seeming gay (classic!). I really enjoyed this book because friends are also at the center of my life. Although I am happily married to Kirk, my friends are important enough to me that I am trying to make plans around where we all move together in the future. It’s healthy to have a community beyond just a romantic partner, as Choen explains. Having multiple strong relationships takes the pressure off of a romantic partner (who cannot and should not be expected to provide all the support a person needs) and can, in fact, make a romantic relationship stronger. I just love this book and the concept it’s based on. Our lives would be richer with stronger friendship communities and that’s what I want for me and my friends too.

Meanwhile, on the internet (sorry to all the non-subscribers for all the LA Times links, but that’s where I’ve been reading news this week):

  • Mexico elects leftist Claudia Sheinbaum as the first female president in its history via the LA Times. Congratulations to Mexico!
  • Biden signs order tightening border with Mexico when crossings surge via LA Times. From the article “the president can put the border restrictions into effect when average border arrests surpass 2,500 migrants for seven days in a row” and the heightened restrictions “would end two weeks after the number of crossers stopped at the border dips below 1,500 for more than a week. For most of the last nine years, there have been more than 1,500 border stops per day.” What’s wild to me here is that it seems to be a cynical ploy for electability and that some people seem fine with this since it’s Biden doing it and not Trump. According to Pew Research, “While a 59% majority of voters say that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally, this is a substantial drop compared with recent years. In June of 2020, 74% of voters said that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay legally.” So people were against this when Trump did it but a not insignificant number of people are cool because a Democrat is doing the same thing? That should not be how this works. It’s fucked up.
  • Nikki Haley criticized for writing ‘Finish Them!’ on artillery shell in Israel via LA Times. Speaking of fucked up. This news made me sick to my stomach. Israel is literally bombarding a refugee camp. That’s not cute. No one should be drawing little hearts on the missiles (that our tax dollars paid for!), but especially someone who wants to be president shouldn’t do this. I fucking hate it.

Languages

I’m still doing a lot of Wikipedia editing and translating but I haven’t been noting everything on the blog (this is exactly the kind of thing I would have loved to share on Twitter all the time. Alas). This week I surpassed 200 edits on English Wikipedia (I’m over 300 edits across all Wikipedias), which I think is an exciting milestone. I’ve been having fun working through clusters of articles. I finished translating a small group of articles from Spanish to English about the Icelandic annals, which are old manuscripts from the middle ages. I saw that there were a bunch of articles about this in Spanish but they were missing in English, so I thought, who better to translate this? I also translated an article about the Oslo Conservatory of Music into Spanish, then translated articles about its notable students. I’ve also been working my way through a bunch of articles about places in and around Skagafjörður, Iceland. It’s very satisfying to fill in links to everything as I translate more articles.

Something amusing and annoying is an error I keep making with Icelandic. Both Spanish and Icelandic have the word en, but in Spanish, it’s the preposition “in” and in Icelandic, it’s the conjunction “but.” I keep translating the Icelandic as “in” and I not catching it until my teacher is trying to figure out why I’m so wrong. Icelandic’s word for “in” is í, so it’s not even close. It’s cool that Spanish has clearly created a groove in my brain but it’s also annoying that it’s interrupting my Icelandic thought process. Trilingual problems?

Corporeal Form

Me, cheesing for the camera, my hand and arm covered in a wrist brace in the foreground
showing off my new wrist brace for carpal tunnel

Well it’s always some damn thing around here and this week I found out I have carpal tunnel in my left hand (I am left-handed). I went to the doctor because her office called me—six weeks after I had last emailed about a different topic—and said the doctor wanted to see me. When I arrived, the doctor asked me what I wanted to discuss and I was like, uh, you asked me to come but then she didn’t even seem to know why I was there. I suggested she had not been reading my emails and she took the time to read them out loud. You know, as a little review for the whole group. I saw her in April because I wanted to get tested for POTS, but she took a few readings in the office and said I have vertigo (I do not have vertigo symptoms based on how it has been explained to me). It turned out that this time the doctor wanted to do another round of readings relative to POTS and she told me that Kaiser doesn’t even have the standard test used to diagnose the condition (the tilt table test). I don’t know why she didn’t tell me that to begin with back in April when I said I wanted to be referred for the test! In any case, I got an EKG while I was there although it didn’t tell us anything. I’m supposed to do a 24-hour heart monitor thing to see if that provides us with any news we can use. While I was there I complained about my hand going numb a lot. Apparently this is carpal tunnel and not a potential POTS symptom as I thought it might have been. So now I’m supposed to wear my wrist brace for some hours every day. As usual, we have fun here.

You may remember that I said I was participating in a clinical trial related to fatty liver disease. I found out this week that I can’t continue with the study. Last week I went to get an MRI, which is part of the baseline assessment. I wasn’t able to handle it. They started pushing me into the tube, which I knew was going to be a tiny space and was mentally prepared for, but the tube was so narrow that it was pressing down on my shoulders and arms before I was even in to my waist. I can’t handle being in a tiny space where I can’t move and have pressure on my body. That’s too scary. There was not an alternative MRI machine so that’s that. It’s baffling though because there are certainly people out there who are broader of shoulder than I am. You’d think the MRI tube would be a little bigger but apparently not.

Knitting and Crafts

A small sample of knitting (the beginnings of a shawl in thin blue yarn). Huey cat lounging in the background
Actually knitting again

I’m happy to report that I have been knitting and actually making a little progress. Part of my problem has been that Huey often sits on me when I’m on the couch—my main knitting location—and I think another part of the issue has been the carpal tunnel. My hand gets tingly after a few rows and I have to take a break because life is deeply annoying in many ways. In any case, this is a small project that I’m hoping will be easy to finish and give me a sense of accomplishment. The pattern is 25 grams of love from Hélène Magnússon.

Kitchen Witchery

I tried a couple of new recipes over the last two weeks. First we had the double brown beans, which was kind of an Indian-style beans and rice. I used vaquero beans for them and they were good and Kirk liked them too. I forgot to take a picture but I’m sure you can manage without it. I made some roasted parmesan cauliflower to eat with that. I guess parmesan doesn’t really go with Indian flavors but that’s what I wanted to make! Finally, I tried another tofu recipe: broccoli tofu stir fry. This was really good and very easy! I left out the eggs for mine because I don’t like them, but I am generous so I did scramble an egg for Kirk to add to his. It’s not his fault I’m a hater.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. We took Huey to the vet again this week because she won’t stop peeing on the floor. I was worried about her kidneys, but the vet said her most recent blood work shows no real kidney problems. It could be another UTI (apparently some older cats just get UTIs all the time) or it could be mobility issues with her hind legs. She seems to have arthritis, so the vet suggested a treatment and it seems like Huey is feeling a little better and like it’s easier for her to move around. The medication is a monthly injection that we’d have to go to the vet to get administered, but if it makes her feel better (and makes her stop peeing on the floor!) it will be worth it.

When we got our fans installed this week, Fritz was being a very scared baby and couldn’t figure out where to hide. He normally hides in the bedroom, but that’s where the trouble was. I draped a blanket over one of his chairs so he could have a little hidey spot and that seemed to work for him. He spent most of the day there, only to be alarmed when he saw the fan in the bedroom! I don’t know if he thought it was a giant bird or something but he was extremely wary of it. Fortunately, he adjusted quickly and is hanging out in the bedroom again like normal.

Leave a Comment