Author Archives: Mush

About Mush

I want to be a veterinarian because I love children.

I’M AWARE OF MY TONGUE!

January 17th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Health - (0 Comments)

In which I even googled it.

My tongue feels slightly too large for my mouth. My bite feels like it’s off. My mouth seems to be watering more than usual, but it’s hard to tell because normally I don’t notice how much I’m salivating.

But today I’m super-aware of it.

And it’s driving me nuts! It’s been this way all day today, and some of yesterday, and a few days last week, and I want it to stop!

I think I bit it last night in my sleep. (I have a new teeth-grinding thing I do in my sleep now, according to the hygienist I saw a couple of months ago and my subsequent self-observation. It’s dumb. Sleeping me just grinds the shit out of my teeth. What the fuck, sleeping me? Sometimes I make my own jaw muscles sore. Which is probably contributing to this tongue awareness problem I’m having.)

Since I suffer from neither thyroid problems or allergies and my anxiety is reasonably under control, I’ll just chalk it up to the new teeth-grinding thing and more of the joyful fun that is aging while female.

On the incoming POTUS

January 15th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which I make political commentary.

I try to do my research. Even if I really, really don’t want to.

I’ve read several long-form think pieces about this man’s upcoming presidency. And the weird thing is that they exist: there are persons, educated persons, DC insiders, who are writing long-form think pieces about this man’s upcoming presidency as if he were just another incoming POTUS, and not the shrieking shitshow that he is.

It’s mind blowing. They talk about his indications of future policy, as if he had ANY policy. They talk about his cabinet choices as if the choices were made by a person who had any motherfucking idea of what he was doing.

Conclusion: there will be enough press behaving as if he weren’t a rolling goddamned disaster that he’ll be able to get all the attention he wants without ever having to acknowledge the massive preponderance of press calling him a moron.

It’s fucking insane, basically.

Vaccine safety deniers are weird, man.

January 14th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which Facebook gets far too much of my good material, so I’m cross-posting some here as well.

My original post, on Trump’s appointments, and specifically about his meeting with Kennedy:

Now we’ve got anti-vaxxers, climate change denialists, a rich bitch who has a weird hatred for schools. Absolute opposite of ‘brain trust.’

It received several responses. In one, somebody (from Fairfield, naturally) tried to call me out, as it were, on labeling Kennedy (who still believes in the thoroughly-debunked Thimerosol-autism theory, fer Chrissake) as anti-vax, because nowadays they call themselves “pro-vaccine safety.”

My response:

My interest in “debating” so-called “vaccine safety” with anti-vaxxers is zero, because one cannot have meaningful exchanges with conspiracy theorists. But what the hell, once more into the breach!

Your posts are just like every other anti-vaxxer’s posts. I never claimed to be an expert. I never claimed to be an expert. I tell you three times: I never claimed to be an expert. I claimed to accept the consensus of current scientific knowledge, which tells us that vaccines are reasonably safe and effective and do not cause autism.

And no, there are not “plenty of experts who disagree”: there are a few persons (every single one making money off of their anti-vax fame in some way or another) and a few papers that have been (or will be) retracted, upon which your movement bases all of its provably and measurably harmful views.

In the real world, the preponderance of evidence and the majority of experts all say the same thing: vaccines are safe and effective and do not cause autism. Vaccines are safer than cars by orders of magnitude, and yet none of you are lobbying to have cars banned.

As for being invested emotionally: I don’t sell any product or service that claims to help the so-called victims of vaccines or persons with autism. As they say: follow the money. You’re the one with a horse in the race.

I’ve read your site. You claim that the glorified hammocks you manufacture and sell are nearly panacea. Your idea of “research” that “proves” that motion while sleeping has any measurable, non-placebo, non-subjective effects on any condition is weak, and utilized specifically to earn yourself income.

Your beds are cool, absolutely, but there is no proof they’re medicine. Implying otherwise makes you no better than the charlatans who sell chelation therapy or chemical castration to the parents of autistic children! (Therapies that are effectively abuse, I must add, as there is no evidence the theories behind them are at all relevant or sound.)

A big round bed is far less abusive to an individual than chemical castration, clearly, but you’re still at least attempting to accept money from people on false pretenses. You may have anecdotal stories from mums who say the beds eased symptoms; I have anecdotal stories from people who swear that Rescue Remedy cures their panic attacks. These claims don’t mean that Rescue Remedy isn’t just water, which it is, or that the results aren’t placebo, which they are. Placebo is profoundly powerful. As is the mind.

And as far as Kennedy: I mean, come on. Thimerosol! That horse has been dead for a decade now. Autism continued to happen after it was removed from vaccines. Ergo Thimerosol is not implicated in autism.

Finally, experts agree that the phrase “pro-vaccine safety,” in the mouths of persons who do not work in applicable fields, equals being anti-vax. Your movement thinks it sounds more reasonable and less crack-pot, now that so many people frown upon being “anti-vaccine,” to be “pro-vaccine safety.” But if you’re merely a layperson, the distinction is merely a ridiculous semantic ruse and nothing more.

My only interest in the anti-vax movement is this: kids are getting sick and dying again. Diseases that were under control are resurfacing in the general population. I myself am aging, and will one day wake up as a member of a vulnerable population.

And if I die from something PREVENTABLE because of the ignorant, fact-denying, anti-vax hysteria of persons like yourself, I’m going to be seriously pissed off.

I won’t be reading any replies, because there’s no point in engaging. But damn, just… damn. Climate change is real, vaccines are safe and effective, Big Pharma not only bilks us all out of billions but also keeps countless persons alive every single day, and humans have walked on the moon!

Perspective: January 13th

January 13th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Introspection | Life - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a retrospective.

Ten years ago today, I lived in Fairfield, IA, freeloading off of an ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend by staying in their extra bedroom after having made myself homeless by leaving my husband a couple months before. (Well, technically, my ex-boyfriend and I were both freeloading off her, really, since it was her house and I don’t think either of us paid her rent regularly. I did pay sometimes, but not enough, although I did a lot of cooking while I lived there, and some cleaning, too, so hopefully that helped her out some.)

Not specifically from January 13th, but here’s some food I made a decade ago, as proof:

Golden Lentil Soup

She later became my ex-husband’s girlfriend, and I think she may have moved into my old farmhouse with him (I think so because she bought a building in Batavia), and for all I know they’re still together. They were still together as recently as a year ago, from what I can glean from Facebook, and more power to them.

Ten years ago today I was supposed to go bowling for her birthday, but I blew it off because it was cold out and I was probably doing coke. (And eleven years ago today, according to my blog, my ex-husband made me leave her birthday bowling early and go home, because he always did shit like that.)

Ten years ago today I was unemployed, uncertain, and had been unsettled and afraid for years. My marriage had failed to feel safe in any way: financially, emotionally, physically, or sexually. I’d tried so hard, but when I’d left the autumn before, that house was a standing wreck with holes in the walls, I’d had half a dozen miscarriages, and I was in collections several times over.

Five years ago today, I lived in Walla Walla in my grandmother’s attic, and had a gig in the Tri-cities at a biker bar with my band, for which I was probably paid a hundred bucks, and at which I wore a sweater and most likely got drunk.

I was single again, having broken up with a guy I’d dated from work, and pretty much over relationshipping altogether. More trouble that they were worth, relationships were, and always some guy crying at the end, baffled that I didn’t want to put up with his shit forever.

I was ready to be single for the rest of my life, and absolutely comfortable with it. I had a bicycle, an easy job, a bento hobby, and a band that played festivals.

Coyote Kings w/Mush

Today, I live in Minneapolis with a wonderful person who makes me feel safe and cared for, and who laughs at my jokes… when he feels like it. (Which is to say if he doesn’t laugh, it’s not because he doesn’t get it. He gets my jokes.)

Today I woke up cuddling with my beloved and smooched him off to work. I’ve done a mess of dishes, ordered groceries, and made white bean soup in the electric pressure cooker (it smells wonderful).

I’m old and fat. I will definitely get older, and based on how hard it is to lose weight now that I’m 48, will either stay fat or get fatter.

And so it goes.

I don’t know that I’m any more stable now, by certain metrics, than I was five or ten years ago; I’m still poor and depending on someone else for shelter. I haven’t paid rent since the last time I handed my ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend money for letting me stay in her spare room. I’m freeloader as fuck.

I was having trouble finding work then, and it never really got much better. I’ve had jobs since, and I have one now, of course, but I’ve turned out to not be much of an earner. And my jobs have been, for the most part, pretty low-quality.

With the exception of LISCO, I’ve rarely liked working anywhere — one works for money, not fun — and I imagine I liked working there for a variety of reasons (like youth and enthusiasm and the chance to get paid to learn stuff) that I’d have gotten over eventually, had my ex-husband not managed to get me laid off through a combination of asking me to work part-time so I could focus on cleaning up after him, and then having me take an extended LOA to help him “sell roofs” in Indianapolis.

Most of my life’s contributions so far have been of the unpaid variety, like housewifery, so-called “emotional labor” (which, now that I’m in a decent relationship, I can see really means “picking the wrong partner and expecting then to make sense to you when your basic expectations are fundamentally different”), knitting things, writing things, situational comedy, and music (which, while a great hobby, was never enough to live on).

Money just has no interest in me, and yet I manage to be wealthier than a whole portion of humanity. It blows my mind. I mean, it’s not like I could buy a yacht, but indoor plumbing and HVAC and grocery delivery and I have so many clothes I can’t even guesstimate how many outfits I own.

Another form of wealth is that in my current life, I never, ever have to nag my partner. For anything. Ever. (Except the blender.) [Inside joke.] He does what he says he’ll do. If I need anything, I just ask and he does his best, which for the past three years has always been enough if not far more than.

It’s really easy to be with someone whose fundamental expectations of how a relationship should be line up with yours. I used to believe that bullshit about how “relationships are hard work,” but now I think that’s only true if you’re in one that sucks. My ex-husband and I had radically different expectations of marriage, and that’s why it failed. I would never for a moment allow anyone to think I didn’t put in the hard work, because I worked my ass off. He probably did too, in his ways. But no amount of “work” can turn you into fundamentally different people.

It turns out that good relationship is easy, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s hard work still, but it’s between each of us and life in general, not between each of us and the relationship itself. We don’t have to “work” to take care of one another, it just happens spontaneously. Even if I were still less domestic, even if I were still interested in pursuing a career, this relationship would work. It’s not the details, it’s the expectations.

The only thing that could make my life better than it is right now would be for us to move back to Walla Walla. I miss my family, and I’ve been too lazy to make new friends here. (Well, not just lazy. The weather’s awful a great deal of the time; I think I’m aging out of just going to bars until I meet random people and befriending them; sometimes I spend months on end feeling exhausted and inward because of perimenopause.)

Plus I already have friends! Tons of friends. They just all happen to not be anywhere near where I am right now, which is, as you can imagine, pretty awkward. But hey, what can you do when the love of your life wants to live in Minnesota for now. Just wait it out!

“Gut-churning sanctimony.”

January 11th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (2 Comments)

In which I’m a vegetarian, but not an idiot.

Click on the image below for a really great #longread about zoo animal management, that really makes you wonder how anybody can get so fucking freaked out and upset about professionals doing their jobs.

Professionals. Experts. People who know way more than you do about managing animals. (It’s especially, uh, poignant, when considering that these same “protesters” probably had factory-slaughtered dead animal on their plate at their most recent meal.)
 
zoo

Go read it. They take animals they were going to cull anyway, and turn them into science lectures. It’s fucking great, is what it is, rather than hiding the facts of life to placate a ridiculously emotional populace.

…. … .. . .. … ….
Back now? Good. Great read, wasn’t it? Real reporting. Balanced and neutral. Loved it.

Well, if you care, which you shouldn’t, here’s my hippie, vegetarian, pacifist rant:

Billions of perfectly healthy, viable animals are killed every year to fill plates. And how many death threats does that generate? A few, I’m sure, but nothing like Harambe, or that dentist and his lion, or this giraffe.
 
Everything dies, people. Everything. I put my dog down after she’d had a few dozen heart attacks to save her more suffering; this zoo put down an extra male — and then used him for education and lion food — to save him being savaged by other male giraffes and for the ultimate genetic diversity of the herd.

Like most of us, he was neither special nor rare. The zoo declined to rehome him because the outcry was fucking absurd and they refused to buckle… and to avoid “what Holst likes to call the ‘Disneyfication’ of nature.” I applaud.

“An editorial in the Los Angeles Times argued that Copenhagen had broken an “inviolate if unwritten contract” prohibiting the killing of zoo animals.”

What the fuck? One, the LA Times knows shit about zoo management, and two, there’s no such ‘contract;’ anybody managing animals at an expert level culls. And if you’re, say, a backyard chicken-keeper who is too squeamish to cull, well, nature culls for you. Usually after the animal has suffered more than it would have had you manned up and killed it. I once let a terminally savaged duck die slowly under a tree, bleeding and broken and in horrific condition after a dog attack, because I was too much of a pussy to put her out of her misery. I still regret it.
 
“Denmark’s largest pig slaughterhouse is open to the public, and a hundred and fifty visitors tour it each day.” I can’t even imagine what would happen if some American city kids were bused to a slaughterhouse for an educational field day; the press would probably explode! CHILDREN EXPOSED TO REALITY, the headline would read. SOME ATROCIOUS ASSHOLE SHOWED THEM WHERE THEIR FOOD COMES FROM. COMPLETELY HYSTERICAL FILM AT ELEVEN.
 
American zoos freqently “send surplus animals to roadside zoos,” where the level of care is unknown. Is that really better than just culling them? Sometimes, sure. Others? Fuck no. Caring well for animals, especially exotic animals, requires expertise. Merely thinking you love them is not expertise.

America’s folksy model is symbolized by Jack Hanna, the former director of the Columbus Zoo. He noted that he’d made six hundred television shows about wild animals and had never shown a kill. “There’s enough going on in the world — I don’t need to have a family with children sitting watching a lion take an animal apart.”

How is this anything but bullshit? Animals kill and eat other animals. Humans kill and eat animals. This is a fact. Pretending otherwise is weird.
 
And this little gem:

Tom Stalf, Hanna’s successor at Columbus, suggested to me that the children who viewed the autopsy at the Copenhagen Zoo “might be horrified but unaware of it.” He said that they might realize their distress only in middle age.

The fuck? They eat chicken nuggets for lunch, and seeing an animal autopsy will cripple them for life? If it does, we’ve utterly failed to teach them rationality.

I was disgusted at frog dissection in school; I’m still squeamish handling the meat I cook for others because I see it as body parts rather than food; I’ve turned away from kill scenes in animal shows. But I know that my feelings don’t alter the reality, which is that animals die and others eat them. I also know that humane animal handlers cull. (My aunt, who is the softest of softies, will have her vet come out to put down a horse in terminal distress, because that’s what ranchers do. It makes her cry, but she does it anyway. Because she’s not a cunt.)

We have a touring museum show that is nothing but human bodies. If you see that, will you be “distressed” for life because you find reality unpalatable?
 

“Asked several times if culling occurs in American zoos, Rob Vernon, a spokesman for AZA, said, variously, “No,” “Yes,” and “That’s a good question.” He made the candid observation that his own discomfort reflected the industry’s discomfort.” 

American zoos do cull. They’d be remiss if they didn’t. And yet, in American zoos, the preferred term for culling is “humane euthanization.”

Because we’re pussies, apparently, in spite of our Wild West ancestors.
 
I mean, shit, human beings in multiple enclaves world-wide are fighting for the right to euthanize themselves. Everything dies. Killing an unnecessary animal, or a food animal, or a suffering pet: it’s unbeautiful, yes, but it’s a fact of life.

Pretending otherwise is ridiculous.

Today

January 6th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which there are a few images.

Today was much like most of my days.

I slept in ’til noonish. Ate.

Lunch

Had coffee. Internetted. Noticed today was pay day and paid my VISA bill. Made the bed, watered the plants, thought about meditating but didn’t —

My Amma

thought about picking up 30 or 60 minutes of extra hours at work but didn’t, thought about journaling but didn’t, thought about writing a few Christmas thank you notes but didn’t, ordered a few things (including a couple sports bras to squish my boobs down while I work out) from Amazon, worked out —

Afterward

(not because I want to but because I basically have to), and then suddenly it’s dark out because it’s winter. Scott will be home shortly, but I have to login to work in 15 minutes so the poor man’s on his own for dinner.

I have to reconfigure my “office” (our bedroom) for my job, pee, get beverages, and start taking calls.

I hope you had a nice day.

‘Twas the night before Christmas

December 26th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Family | Love - (0 Comments)

In which we each opened a present on Christmas Eve.

I got a ring!

Oooh! Pretty!
Terrible picture brought to you by low light and my cell phone.

According to the listing, it’s a “created Alexandrite pear ring, set in .925 sterling silver with rhodium finish.” I have no idea what rhodium is.

When my grandfather came home from WWII, he brought back a small collection of unset gem stones. When each of his kids, including my mother, graduated from high school, they got to choose a stone and have it set into a ring.

So they’ve all got these rings set in white gold with giant pink stones (pink sapphires? I’m really not sure what they are, but they’re HUGE and they’re PINK) that are unique, and yet still sort of part of a matching set. They’re all different shapes: square, round, rectangular, etc. And my aunts all wear their rings to this day.

When I graduated high school, I got a small Alexandrite — there were no huge pink rocks left, after all five of his kids — and my grandmother had it set in white gold for me. It was so cool and I loved it! A custom-made ring, just for me! And it was a color-changing stone, with tones of purple and aqua. It was my first piece of ‘real’ jewelry and I should still fucking have it.

Buuuuut I don’t. It got stolen out of my bathroom during a party in junior college. (I’ve always been bummed about that. It should have become a fucking heirloom, but my dumb ass lost it. God only knows where the ring is now.)

Then I saw this ring and it reminded me both of my own ring and the rings of my aunts and uncle, so I put it on my wishlist and GOT IT FOR CHRISTMAS! Yay!

He got fuzzy plaid lounge pants.

In which there’s a rant about the joyous experience of aging-while-female.

This piece about perimenopause made me laugh. Especially the line, “Last week, I cried because I saw a high school marching band coming down the street playing Stevie Wonder.” (I sobbed during the end of White Christmas last night, and I’ve seen the damn movie a dozen times. Shit, I nearly cried watching part of an episode of DS9.)

And this fuck-you-menopause rant was pretty great, too, mostly because I too have been asking myself why I feel like shit all the time for the past few years. (Although, to be fair, I don’t feel bad as much as I don’t feel good, if that makes any sense. I’m not in pain or anything, I’m just missing that throbbing vibrant good health of breeding-age hormones.)

I mean, I know there is much room for improvement. My diet’s pretty good most of the time, but not always. (I’m either eating homemade, additive-free soup and home-baked whole wheat sourdough or I’m horking down fries and a Frosty from Wendy’s. Sometimes I live on soup for a couple of days in a row. What the fuck do you want from me.) I definitely need to be more physically active, and, knowing that, I do asanas and mild calisthenics; I go on walks and bike rides (during the three months a year it isn’t 98F with 100% humidity or -11F with a fifteen degree wind chill factor). Sometimes I just do circuits around the apartment building because it sucks ass outside but there’s three storeys and a lot of stairs so it’s a pretty good walk.

But ye gods, this weight gain! The thinning hair! The jowls and the sagging skin! When I take the time to really look at it, I can barely recognize this body as mine. And what, just what the holy fuck has happened to my thighs? They’re horrific! Jiggly and squishy and weird-looking. There are fucking varicose veins appearing on my feet and legs! I HAVE DEAD SKIN ON MY HEELS, for fuck’s sake, AND IT’S GROSS. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

My lovely 33-day menstrual cycle is now down to, what? Twenty-seven days? I have thirteen-and-a-half periods a year now, rather than 11! What bullshit!

And yeah, sometimes I go to pee and it’s a thimbleful. Fuck that; it’s a waste of time and toilet paper.

My nipples now officially point floor-ward. Do I care? No, not really. I mean, my identity isn’t substantially compromised, but yes, yes I fucking do care, because they didn’t used to and now they do and I haven’t done anything wrong and what’s the bloody point of this?

Sometimes I can’t sleep much, which is interesting for someone who spent most of her life having trouble staying wake, but not all that great. I generally use the time to meditate, read, or do chores. But being wide awake for no fucking reason is weird.

And then there’s the intense anxiety, the hammering heartbeat, and the miserable hot flashes. It is possible to be intensely miserable about absolutely nothing, you see, and it fucking SUCKS.

Then there’s the horrible heat intolerance that makes me very nearly incapable of accomplishing anything at all beyond basic metabolism all fucking summer. It has literally made me cry, just being too hot. How stupid is that? You can’t handle a little temperature! Your brain shuts down and in your misery and confusion you cry. You can’t even figure out that what you should do is go get in a cool shower; you just lie there and weep until your fiancee puts you in the truck and drives you around for the better part of an hour with the A/C on full blast and all the vents pointed at you. Eventually your brain boots back up and you say, “I should have taken a cool shower,” and he says, “I suggested that but you said no,” and you think: holy shit, what the fuck is wrong with me? I never used to have problems in hot weather. I never used to have a brain that would go offline, leaving me helpless and stupid.

It’s the subtle changes in nearly everything that just make me feel off, somehow, but not in any, like, emergency medical way, but in a is something wrong? sort of way. Dizziness. Bloating. Joint pain. Tingling extremities. Unexplained fatigue. Brittle nails! It’s a motherfucking laugh riot, this is.

You have no idea how robustly healthy you are until you find you’ve aged out of it. That constant background sense of well-being goes away and you find yourself forever listening for doom.

All the sites say the same shit: stay hydrated. Exercise. Keep a routine. Don’t drink or smoke. (I did quit smoking last spring, but I’m not interested in giving up the wine just yet.) Exercise. Take psych meds. Exercise. Consider hormone therapy if your symptoms are awful. Exercise. Avoid caffeine. Exercise. (One almost senses a trend.)

They also say a lot of stupid shit, even the apparently bona fide medical sites, too, like “take vitamins” or “get acupuncture,” which is troubling, since neither supplements or acupuncture do anything but separate one from her money, but my species is not generally known for its logic.

Let it be known that I am soooo not looking forward to “night sweats,” which is a thing women get, apparently. They sound fucking awful.

Just now I’m feeling more okay than usual, for which I am grateful, and I’m getting cleaning and laundry done while I’m feeling sprightly. But sometimes it’s about all I can do to keep up with the dishes and make the bed every day, let alone exercise or be creative.

Also: not to whine or sound vain, but I want my hair back. This shit on my head now is baby-fine, straight, brittle, and thin. Three years ago it would still curl, if I put product in it and scrunched it under a hair dryer just so; now it’s just straight. It’s like somebody else’s hair altogether. And I color it not because I care about the grey, but because it gives it the tiniest bit of body. So there’s another mystery solved: not only do women my age know exactly what they look like and not give a fuck, but they — we — also aren’t coloring our hair because we think it makes us ‘look younger.’ No. We’re coloring it because Better Living Through Chemistry.

So not only is my face melting off my skull and pooling under my jaw, but my hair is crap, too? I have no waist, my feet are ugly, my hands look old, I feel bad more often than not, my sleep cycles are fucked up, I have hot flashes and anxiety attacks: can’t I at least have nice goddamned hair?!

Force it through a sieve!

December 9th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Food | Recipes - (2 Comments)

In which I’m astonished at the texture!

I like to read recipes. I have liked to do so since they were in actual books rather than on the internet.

I especially like to read old recipes. The oldest through the newest, to see what’s changed and what’s the same. Ancient recipes, medieval recipes, 20’s recipes, 40’s recipes. War time recipes, Southern recipes, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean and Indian and Ethiopian, I like to read recipes.

Well, even in the first version of The Joy of Cooking I ever owned, which was an 80’s version, they sometimes directed you to “force it,” whatever it was, “through a sieve.”

In fact, a surprising number of older recipes direct the cook to force “it,” the soup or sauce or whatever, through a sieve, before adjusting the seasonings and serving.

I have never in my life forced anything through a sieve, because I assumed that modern blenders obviated the need.

I WAS INCORRECT AS FUCK.

Here’s the scenario:

Yesterday, I made broccoli cheddar soup in the electric pressure cooker. I used a bag of cheap, frozen broccoli, because it’s been so long since I’ve bought cheap, frozen broccoli that I’d forgotten why nobody ever buys cheap, frozen broccoli: the bags are always half-filled with stems rather than florets, and the stems are woody as fuck. Every. Single. Time.

Once cooking was done I opened the Instant Pot, removed the liner, and carried it over to the counter, where I proceeded to blend the soup with the immersion blender. Super excited to nom down a bowl of homemade soup! Ladled some into a bowl, toasted up some whole wheat homemade sourdough, and sat down at the table.

Delicious!

Except, um, a little fiber of stem. Kind of unpleasant, but not a big deal–

And another. And another.

And another!

Aaaaand basically this soup is inedible, because after every spoonful you’re taking bits of what basically amount to centimeter-long hairs out of your mouth.

UGH!

Later that evening, I blended it again, well past what your typical broccoli cheddar is like, far into cream soup territory.

Tasted it again.

Same fucking thing: tiny little hair-like fibers in every mouthful!

So there was only one thing left, before throwing out the whole pot: force it through a sieve.

sieve

Turns out something that thick will not go through a sieve on its own, hence the word “force.” Turns out you use the back of a big spoon (I used a small ladle) to push it through. Doesn’t take too long, once you find the right spoon.

And then, OH. MY. GOD. The texture! Not only is that stupid stem fiber gone, but they are not fucking kidding about this forcing-it-through-a-sieve bullshit. What comes out is silky smooth and luxurious and amazing.

How have I never done this before?!

Moral: If it says force it through a sieve, then fucking force it through a sieve.

Even if you’ve used modern blending equipment. Just do it. It’s so worth it!

Traveler’s Notebook

December 8th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Nerd | Travel - (0 Comments)

In which, yet again, I become what I judge. This time was quicker than usual! (It took twenty years for me to end up fat and the owner of a fake Christmas tree, but only weeks to end up with a Traveler’s Notebook!)

Behold. My Traveler’s Notebook.

Traveler's Notebook

This object has totally captured my imagination. I’m not really sure why, as it’s just a piece of leather and some elastic, a tin clamp, a waxed thread bookmark, paper, and accessories, but I adore it. (No hyperbole. Sometimes I just sit and hold it and look at it.)

So elegant and clever. So satisfying. The smell of the leather, the feel of the paper. The thoroughly modern faux-rusticity.

You feel as if, should the world end, you’d carry this with you always, and scribble in it with the smallest and most cramped hand to save what little paper was left. Future feral generations would marvel at the even-cut edges, the fineness of the paper, the way the leather was treated. The impossibly complicated dried-out old plastic-and-steel pen, and the precision-milled pen clip. It would be scarred and bent, but beautiful, and you’d have put all you knew in it for them.

IMG_20161208_142718

(Of course, what will really happen is that when this journaling generation goes, there will be millions upon millions of these things, stuffed with inspirational stickers and craft paper flowers and tabs and clips and cutesy drawings and a personal, woman’s-eye view into life way back in the teens, unearthed in boxes in grandmas’ houses and glutting the antiques market and whatever will pass for eBay by then. If they come back in style, like Polaroid cameras have now, people will probably buy them and gut them and re-use the by-then antique leather covers.)

I got the notebook itself (a “fauxdori,” made by a company called September Leather) for free, using points from my Chase Amazon card. (I can’t tell you how much I’ve spent on accessories since it’s completely embarrassing.) I soon restrung it with a Midori repair kit, even though the original elastics were just fine, to make it look more like a Midori.

Notebooks

I’ve purchased hand-made inserts, official Midori inserts. Pencil boards, kraft folders, pens. Colored pencils, brush pens, a couple of stencils. Book darts, washi tape, a repair kit, double sided tape, pen holder clips, and Midori post-its designed to fit inside.

"minimum"

And, if all that weren’t enough, I also bought a passport-sized Midori, plus a few accessories for it, too.

Pens

I use the little one as a wallet. It’s the most expensive wallet I’ve ever carried, and it’s not even a wallet! But it does hold one’s passport perfectly, plus money and cards.

I looooooooooove it.

The big one, the standard size, is my daily journal. And sketchbook. And spiritual journal. And place for lists and to-dos, and a catch-all for random bits of paper, and post-its dispenser, and pen holder, and it just looks cool and feels cool and is fun to handle.

Traveler's Notebook

It’s really nice to journal by hand again; I haven’t done so regularly since high school. It’s different than writing online or even typing, and I’m enjoying it very much. My wretched handwriting is slowly improving, and I’ve begun to sketch and doodle, too — something I’ve never really done.

Sometimes I sketch things from books I’m reading; other sketches are scenes from what I’m watching on TV. I have no talent for art but it’s fun, and feels better than wasting time scrolling endlessly on social media.

Matilda

I discovered the Traveler’s Notebook by accident when looking up Bullet Journaling. And here’s where the judgement comes in.

In August, I posted this innocuous entry about the chores I’d done that day, and Jinjer, whom I blame completely for my journal obsession, told me about the world of BuJo and posted a handy link.

I clicked.

And fell down the rabbit hole of modern planner obsession. Just like standing in front of a Franklin Planner display back in the day, only seemingly infinite. Instagram hashtags, Pinterest, endless blogs and YouTube flip-throughs. And eventually I stumbled across the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, a refillable Japanese stationer’s flagship product, and that was that. Had to have one. Had to have two.

The judgement thing was that, at first, as I looked at all the stuff, at the endless pictures of piles of planners and journals and pens and stickers and stamps and tapes and myriad other stupid meaningless and often plastic accessories, I thought, “Gross. Wasteful. Needless. These people could bullet journal with a Bic and a two dollar spiral notebook!”

I came across online stationery and pen stores, and thought, “How fucking stupid and pretentious can anyone be? Nobody needs a two hundred dollar fucking fountain pen.” But before two months were out, I’d placed my first Jet Pens order, and read through maybe half of their lovely, clever tutorials, learning several useful things.

Full disclosure: I did buy a fucking fountain pen, but it was under two bucks. I just wanted to see if I, as a leftie, could write with it. Turns out I can, but I have to hold it upside down, in order to pull rather than push the nib. I’m not super fond of it because I prefer superfine pens, and it writes medium-to-heavy.

Fauxdori Traveler's Notebook

So my knee-jerk reaction was a negative judgement, and I ended up turning into what I’d judged. In almost no time at all.

Do I need not only one but two relatively expensive journal solutions? No, I could write online here, or in a private local document. Or if I simply had to go analogue (which I felt I did, as there appears to be evidence it’s good for brain plasticity), any pen and pad of paper would do. It’s just typical Western gluttony and wastefulness (even if it does stimulate the economy (which I’m not confident is wholly good no matter what they say)).

Do any non-professionals need special paper types, wide varieties of writing utensils, or other accessories? No, not at all. I’m no artist, or famous diarist, or world traveler.

But do I really need most of what I have? No. And I’m ashamed of it, honestly, but not enough to force privation on myself. I focus instead on my gratitude and good fortune, most of the time.

Much of my adult life I couldn’t have afforded to buy these things on a whim; I would have put them on wishlists and eventually forgotten about them. Now that I’m in a spot where I can drop sixty bucks on a glorified wallet I don’t need, well, I did. So I’m just like everybody else and I use my discretionary income to buy shit I do not, in any way, shape, or form, need, but only want.

I love this thing

It feels weird. It’s strange that when my life is at its most abundant and comfortable, I’m mentally so Spartan in outlook. I frequently feel a sense of melancholy about how normalized my relative wealth is, when so many are still suffering heartbreaking lack. I have so much, from hot running water to grocery delivery to the luxury of enough free time to make my own bread and pickles and salsa and soups and sauces and hats and socks. Other people are literally shooed off of the part benches they’re trying to sleep on.

Oh, well, enough pontificating. The positive outcome of all this is that not only do I have a couple of objects that give me great pleasure every time I use them, and a new habit of offline analog time, but also I donated an equal amount to the local food kitchen and shelter just so I could stand myself! True story.