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Showing posts from October, 2020

$Monday: Take a Holiday from the Holidays

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to skip all the obligatory family gatherings and parties associated with the fall and winter holidays? This is your year to NOT shine! Know that you are not alone in your wish to be left alone through the end of the year--and that this is the chance of a lifetime to try out opting out. The United States is under siege by a mishandled, uncontrolled pandemic, which is a perfect excuse--because it's actually a very good reason--to pull in the welcome mat and lock yourself inside.
Don't feel like celebrating? Then don't! Shut all your lights off on Halloween and bury yourself in a sleeping bag shaped like a shark. Eat a bag of candy and watch the scariest movie you can find, to slash through the numb despair of 2020 and feel alive again for the length of a jump scare. I recommend making sure your viewing experience is ad-free, even if you have to resort to dusting off the old DVD player and rifling through the selections that various…

TBT: Backyard Goats

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Ah, youth, when all the world is a buffet of dreams and you can just as vividly imagine yourself running your own organic farm as inhabiting a high-rise apartment in a glittering city with rent as high as your Manolos. Last night, from the snug warmth of my fluffy bed nested inside my humble but cozy house within a spectacularly October-festooned Michigan woodsy suburb, I dreamed of stepping onto a plane to Australia, about the longest trip I could possibly take on a flight. I remember the thrill of flying itself and the excitement of visiting a place I have never seen, smelled, or tasted. Then I woke up and remembered that we're in a pandemic and Australia is now pretty much constantly on fire like California, and I am very, very lucky to have a healthy little family in a humble little house in this sleepy Great Lakes suburb during what feels like an apocalyptic time to raise a child.I also have a more realistic understanding of what it takes to raise livestock responsibly. Backy…

$Monday: Pandemic Holiday Shopping

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It's pandemic holiday shopping season! Yeah, already. I'm not usually an early holiday shopper, but this year I don't trust that supply chains, markets, and shipping systems will stay reliable over the next few months. We have a president who is fighting the United States Postal Service, and Santa Claus has multiple co-morbidities for Covid-19. I am not taking any chances with timing or with my finances.As a mom, my first priority is taking care of my child. Almost all of her gifts this year will be practical things that she needs to get through a winter of isolation at home--like clothes, books, and cozy blankets. My husband and I have agreed to buy a few books as family gifts, and that's about it. All three of us have birthdays that cluster with the holiday season as well--November, December, and January. We will shift the focus from wrapped gifts to experiences such as cookie baking and meal prep, fall color hiking, playing games by the fireplace, tree decorating, s…

TBT: Tandoori-Style Cooking With or Without Electricity

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Rolling blackouts! Mass unemployment and utility shutoffs! Shuttered restaurants and cafes! Social panic! This is not the 2020 I wanted, but I guess it's the apocalyptic time my husband and I have been preparing for since our mid-20s. I don't mean that we adopted "prepping" culture as seen on TV; rather, we studied climate change and sociology and did our best to brace ourselves for when we couldn't rely upon the comforts and conveniences of a reliable electrical grid. We shared a few experiences in countries where you can't take electricity for granted, and we practiced confronting power outages in the United States as adventures rather than catastrophes.
It was all fun and games back in our child-free "extended adolescence." Then we became parents and survived an epic two-week power outage during a cold-record-breaking ice storm that spanned Christmas and the New Year, while caring for a three-year-old. It was tough, but we managed to keep our wood…

$Monday: Forget Adulting, Try Hermit Crabbing!

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Adulting is for squares. You can live your life according to a generic set of milestones if you want to, but if you don't, contorting yourself into someone else's goals and values isn't a sign of maturity, it's avoidance of doing what real grownups do: take responsibility for personal decisions. Being an actual adult is great once you achieve the inner freedom to own what you want to do with yourself. Instead of "adulting" by some middle-to-upper-class,cis/het, straight, white millennial model, especially if you are not all of those things, try "hermit crabbing"--choosing what fits you at each stage of life rather than trying to cram yourself into the shape of someone else's ideal carapace--and changing it as soon as it stops working for you.It's easy to derive your self-worth from your current circumstances, but it is possible to reverse that flow and, to some extent, manifest a higher net worth by working on your feelings of self worth. Pe…

TBT: How the Patriarchy Infantilizes Men; or, Notes on Arthur Miller's Notes on The Bicycle Thief

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I finally got around to reading Min Jin Lee's family saga novel Pachinko, and it reminded me just how far patriarchy extends around the world as well as how far back it goes in time. In the scheme of human evolution, the dominance of patriarchy is new and unusual, but for us individual humans with lifespans that max out in about a century or less, patriarchy has come to feel like human nature. That's unfortunate, especially for men. The patriarchy works to transform most people into slobbering, dumb dogs trained to lie submissively at the feet of kings and oligarch masters, and ordinary men suffer the worst of that burden. While women are at least free to build resilience in the face of their oppression, men are tricked into believing that the skills that build true inner strength are for girls, which ironically makes them fragile, infantile, and dependent upon the constant approval and support of an employer. In many White and Asian cultures, in particular, men are taught tha…