The overpass

May 21st, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which I rode my bike to work, and four-and-a-quarter hours later I rode it home again.

My apartment is technically only six blocks from work; it’s just that they’re such gigantic, industrial blocks that those six blocks actually equal 1.2 miles. (A mile usually contains 17 typical city blocks, that’s how big these blocks are.) The route is more or less a straight line from the edge of the apartment property and down a giant street over an I-394 overpass.

This overpass:

Love locks

When you look at the cars, well over ninety percent of them have only one occupant. And that one occupant is hell-bent on getting on, off, or through, and is on the phone far more often than you’d like.

Even with a constant and rather vigorous wind, the whole area generally reeks of exhaust, unless it’s very early in the day. Where ‘reeks’ is a value of ‘you’re not really sure if you can breathe.’

At about half-past four today, when I came home, it was bumper-to-bumper traffic. So many individual people in their big-ass SUVs going home from work.

What ever happened to the sedan? Why is literally everyone driving a truck? There’s no way these people need to tow shit; maybe they think they’re safer in the winter months? Regardless, everybody’s driving WAY more car than they’ll ever need.

I realize people are primarily just doing what they need to do to get by, but it’s obscene, the sheer bafflingly huge amount of wealth and waste represented by rush hour, as viewed from a single overpass in a metro area of the United States.

The infrastructure alone runs to the millions, and then all those cars. All the gasoline. So much money, so many resources used for this: the afternoon traffic jam, a wasteful ritual that nobody even likes.

. .. … …. ….. …. … .. .

It’s just so stupid that we didn’t earnestly invest in trains and convenient public transportation back the 70’s when we first realized we were having concurrent air pollution and fuel acquisition crises. Sure, most cities have a light rail or three, but we’re still installing lines like it’s a brand new clean-and-green idea instead of old hat, and the lines that do exist are useless unless you live right up on one. We just never prioritized, so what we have today is millions and millions of people all over the country driving themselves to and from their jobs, which are basically never in their actual neighborhoods, because there’s just no convenient alternative.

It’s such a massive, heartbreaking waste.

I bike, but I pretty much hate it. It’s not convenient; it’s dangerous. This area IS FOR CARS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and although I ride as defensively and with as much paranoia as possible, I’m still pretty much always on the verge of being hit by a driver who is distracted, in a hurry, on the phone, pissed off, or just not expecting a pedestrian or bicyclist to be fucking around on a freeway overpass, because everybody drives.

When I was a broke college student, I never really understood what they meant when they called America “the richest nation in the world.” Like, I didn’t have any money, and nobody I knew at the time was rich. We were all living hand-to-mouth, growing our debt, struggling. I didn’t really understand that all the infrastructure around me counted toward that national wealth, and that it reflected the decisions we made collectively as a society.

Decisions like choosing to live in an entrenched and wealth-destroying car-centric manner, forever and ever, amen.

. .. … …. ….. …. … .. .

Now, I understand the history of the Interstate Highway Project and how it helped with jobs and transportation of goods; it’s hard to be against it, really, even knowing the consequences. BUT WHY OH WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN TRAINS.

Had it been trains, we would have designed everything differently. People would just expect to be able to walk or bike or take convenient public transportation to the store, the doctor, the school, and the job. Instead of sprawling, wasteful, ugly suburbs, we’d have communities.

We wouldn’t blindly accept the idea that it’s normal to live and work so far apart, that we should drive to the grocery and the dentist and the bowling alley; we wouldn’t have all these impossible-to-walk mega complexes; we wouldn’t waste so much space.

Around here, an old Minneapolis suburb, there are giant, wide streets that take half a minute to walk across, many without sidewalks. There are giant shopping complexes (like the one I work in, which is two huge big box stores and two multi-business strips containing nail salons, coffee shops, and pet stores) that were never intended to be walked across: the sidewalks go nowhere when they exist at all, and the whole layout is intended to keep motorists from speeding, not to make it possible to walk from business to business. (There’s a pond in the center with some grass, like a nod to a park-like setting, but it’s a bitch to get to without getting HIT BY A CAR so only employees of nearby businesses ever really use the space. Everybody else just drives around it.)

The complex is so car-centric in its design that most of the time, people drive — they literally drive from the Costco parking lot to The Home Depot parking lot, even though they’re right next door to each other: that’s how badly designed the space is for humans.

And this is repeated pretty much everywhere. Nearly every Walmart you’ve ever been to is out in the middle of nowhere and it just sprawls; if other businesses spring up near it, you can’t walk to them. We just don’t design economically because we have so much space to sprawl out in, and people won’t walk if it’s uncomfortable or difficult.

. .. … …. ….. …. … .. .

Our lease is up and we’re apartment-hunting. I want to live as close to downtown as possible; I want regular-sized old-fashioned city blocks and I want sidewalks and I want to be able to walk to a corner store for eggs. I hate the massive, industrial Cub we shop at here. I hate the artificial, wasteful, unwalkable shopping complex it’s in. I hate that my job is SIX HUGE FREAKISH BLOCKS AWAY instead of, like, twenty normal, sidewalked, business-inhabited blocks. Between our apartment and my job there could be tens or hundreds of businesses; instead there’s a fraction and the rest of it is space designed for cars: wasted space.

Cars are dirty and expensive, but the vast majority of Americans cannot survive without one because of the way we’ve designed our communities.

. .. … …. ….. …. … .. .

I was looking at Minneapolis on Google Maps the other day while apartment hunting, and found this little greenway… in the middle of nothing. The website was so excited about turning the area into a greenway for everybody to enjoy, blah blah blah.

In order to enjoy it you’d probably have to drive your bicycle there, park, and then ride around. Because it’s not really convenient to anything, and nobody’s going to use it organically because it’s not on their way from A to B.

Which is a perfect example of how utterly, impossibly car-centric our culture is.


May 10th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (6 Comments)

In which I’ve been tracking what I eat.

According to the BMR Calculator, to maintain my weight I should be eating 1,920 calories per day. To lose a pound a week, it should be 1,420.

Out of curiosity, without doing any kind of dieting except avoiding white bread, I tracked what I ate this week. (The “Goal” column show the tracking site’s defaults; I’m ignoring them because the fat and carb recommendations can go fuck themselves. I can’t even imagine how you’d meet the fiber recommendation; I eat basically nothing but beans and veggies and it’s still not “enough” fiber.)


On my sedentary days, I tend to eat less, apparently. On the super-fucking-busy days at work, where I end up walking multiple miles, and rather rapidly at that, I eat about two thousand calories. Monday I closed, and didn’t bother with dinner. Wednesday, I worked 8 – 2 and didn’t have any lunch. But I probably would have eaten about two thousand calories on those days, too, if I’d had my druthers. (Sometimes, after busting ass at the store all day, it’s so much easier to sit on the couch than it is to cook something.)

I’m about as fat as I can stand to be, so I’ll probably start restricting carbs pretty heavily for awhile. I was just curious about what I actually eat “in the wild,” so to speak, since we usually only ever track our eating when we’re on a diet of some kind.

How to make pudlas

April 19th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Recipes - (1 Comments)

In which there’s a process more than a recipe.

A pudla [ pooda, poodla, puda, chila, cheela, chilla ] is a savory pancake made from lentils, rice, and/or flour. They’re cheap, easy, delicious, and I think it’s weird that I’d never even heard of them until last year. (Apparently they’re a breakfast food in India, sometimes served as snacks, or for lunch with side dishes. I don’t know why they don’t exist in every cuisine that uses lentils, because you can make them with any kind.)


To make some, you don’t really need a recipe so much as a procedure, maybe like this:

1. Soak 1 c. dal in 2 c. warm water for 2 to 4 hours

Get out your ugly pink bowl and put a cup of dal and two cups of warm water in it. (I used the last of the chora dal*, about 3/4 cup, and some toor dal to make a whole cup of dal. You can use any dal at all except maybe urad, and any combination of dals including urad.

Put your ugly pink bowl in the microwave to keep the heat in because it’s kinda chilly today and let the lentils soak for 2 to 4 hours. Check on it every so often; if the water gets cold just run the microwave for a minute.

Soaked dals

The dal will have absorbed at least half the water and gotten larger. If there’s a lot of water remaining, drain some off, but this recipe isn’t picky. If the batter is too wet, the extra water just steams off during cooking.

2. Add desired flavorings and grind into a pancake batter consistency

I grabbed these things: turmeric, cumin, asafoetida, methi powder, garlic, jalapeno, onion, and ginger. You can use any, all, or none of these.


Add some spices to your soaked lentils: perhaps 1/3 tsp. methi powder, a dash of asafoetida, 1/4 tsp. whole or ground cumin, and 1/4 tsp. turmeric. Mince onion, jalapeno, garlic, and/or ginger in whatever proportions appeal to you and add them to the bowl.

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Grind the whole mess until you’ve got yourself a pancake batter-like consistency. Add water if needed. You can use a blender or a food processor or an immersion blender.

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Stir in up to a teaspoon of salt, depending on your taste.

3. Fry

Heat a griddle or a Teflon pan to medium-high heat. Add a little neutral vegetable oil.

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Fry your savory pancakes. Remove to a plate (lined with a paper towel, if your pudlas are a little greasy).

Pudlas need to be cooked longer than regular pancakes because the dal is raw and needs time to steam fry, but the process is similar and will seem familiar: pour batter onto the griddle, smooth with the back of a spoon as you would with thick pancake batter, cook. Lift an edge to check for doneness, and flip when golden.

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4. Eat

Eat a couple-three pudlas hot, with whatever condiment appeals to you. Green chutneys are often recommended — I like mint, myself — and coconut chutney is awesome with them.

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Fry up however many pudlas you’re going to eat — they’re remarkably filling, so you’ll only need a couple — and put the rest of the batter in the fridge in a closed container. It’ll keep at least a week, so you can fry up a snack whenever you want.

More recipes:
Chora daal na pooda –
Chola dal poodla –
Moong dal pudla –
Stuffed moong dal chilla –
Panchratna poodas –

* ‘Chora dal’ is split cow peas, otherwise known as blackeyed peas, so it has a very low glycemic index which is what makes pudlas such an excellent bread substitute.

In which I think people are being a bit irrational.

So, a pudgy British comedian calls out this chick trophy hunter on social media and, like anything that ever gets traction these days, for no apparent reason it absolutely explodes all over the place.


In the last couple of days I’ve seen dozens and dozens of comments on Facebook alone, literally all of them aghast and negative and offended. And written by meat-eaters. Because trophy hunting is the absolute worst, obviously, but eating meat and eggs and wearing leather is totally different.

Well, no. The distinction is imaginary. Some broad with the budget to do so goes abroad and hunts an exotic animal and everybody reviles her. Meanwhile, that same everybody is blithely buying and eating meat. “But we don’t eat that much meat,” they cry, “and it’s usually organic and humanely raised,” or “We actually know our butcher socially, and those animals have wonderful lives!” or {insert any other generic “but my contribution to this atrocity is miniscule!” denial here}.

To which I say: WHATEVER, NERDS. They have wonderful lives up until someone kills them, usually in the first quarter of their natural lifespan. That giraffe was organic and humanely raised too, and, like all organic and humanely raised meat, it’s fucking dead. What real difference does it make that it was killed by a hunter rather than a butcher? Is the giraffe somehow more dead because its killer posed with its corpse and gloated? Would your own death be so much better if someone promised not to waste your meat? To tan your skin for raiment and eat all your organs and render your fat for candles?

You won’t care either way. You’ll be dead. The subtleties of various degrees of wastefulness and respect are for the living. And we, the living, are being big fat irrational babies about this dead giraffe.

Listen, we’re horrifically wasteful. We don’t use all of the animals we kill by a long shot. Leather is made from animals killed just for their skins (their meat is discarded) and the skins of meat animals are thrown away. While the offal market is growing, it’s still very small because most of us refuse to eat liver, heart, brain, or anything “gross.” Some animal parts do go into pet food or are rendered for other uses, but those piles of what looks like dirt in the fields around packing plants are leftover, unused animal parts — parts for which there is no market. We are wasteful, choosy, entitled motherfuckers, and that waste means more animal death than is strictly necessary.



I’d say those differences are irrelevant. Regardless of endangerment of species or habitat, of poaching versus legal killing, the end outcome of both scenarios is identical: some human being killed an animal, because that human being believed that s/he had every right to do so. Hunter or butcher, you kill because you believe it’s your right, that you’re entitled to, and that your desire — to hunt for sport or to kill for meat — in every way outweighs the life of that animal. The rest of the circumstances are just details.

We kill 150 billion animals a year. And yet the death of a giraffe is more important than 150 billion other lives, somehow, because it’s endangered? At least it didn’t starve to death, or spend its entire existence in a cage or on a concrete floor, what what?

Outsourcing the whole killing and butchering thing does not mean you don’t believe that it’s your right to kill animals. Setting rules about what, when, and where an animal can be killed does not mean you don’t believe that it’s your right to kill animals. It just means you’re making (mostly irrational, in my opinion) judgements about the fact that you believe that it’s your right to kill animals. As long as it had a good life first! As long as it doesn’t suffer! As long as it’s a common cow and not an exotic giraffe! As long as nobody enjoys it! As long as we’re all suitably ashamed in respect to our Puritan backgrounds!


How to have the best cup of tea ever

March 10th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Health - (0 Comments)

In which there are instructions!

Step 1: Don’t have mint tea for, like, a few years. Not because you’re against it or anything, but just because you don’t happen to.

Step 2: Move to Minnesota and catch a cold.

Step 3: Wait a week and buy a box of mint tea. Stick it in the cupboard above the sink.

Step 4: Make a mug of mint tea with boiling water. Add a hint of honey. Hold the mug. Breathe the steam. Enjoy the warmth. Drink the tea. Marvel at how insanely wonderful a simple mug of mint tea can be when it’s March in the Midwest and you still have the faintest remnant of a spring cold.

Empty Earth

March 1st, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (1 Comments)

In which it was eerily quiet.

We stepped out onto the back porch of our building for a smoke.

“Wow,” he said. “You hear that? So quiet.”

We listened. Absolutely no traffic, none. All the lights on the other side of the park were green. No traffic on the streets, no traffic on the interstate below. No voices, no nothing.


“Damn. Maybe it’s finally happened,” I said. “It’s like every end-of-the-world book I ever read* and everybody disappeared while we were inside watching The Sopranos and eating zucchini bread. And now we’re the only people left!”

It was another sixty full seconds before we finally heard any traffic.

“There,” he said.

Oh, well. The world hasn’t ended. Maybe next time.

* When I was a teenager, I read Lucifer’s Hammer and The Stand and that whole empty earth idea has always kinda been part of my psyche. Like, you’d just wake up one day and all (or most) the infrastructure would still be here but the people would be gone and you’d be there while the electricity and water plants ran down and there’d be houses and businesses empty of people but filled with food and supplies… kinda like the zombie apocalypse only with dinosaur killers or divine intervention. I’ve always wondered if I’d meet an optician or if my glasses would break AND I WOULD BE FUNCTIONALLY BLIND UNTIL I DIED.

An attempt to answer a question.

February 26th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Web - (0 Comments)

The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. It’s a rejection of science. It’s a rejection, really, of the foundation of Western civilization: yes, that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.”

I got called a sadist on Facebook the other day. By a friend. Over Gamergate, of all things. I said I found humor in trolling feminists, and got asked how I “justify my sadism in light of (my) spirituality.”

I spent a few hours afraid that I was just too stupid to answer such a question. I mean, my motivations make perfect sense to me, but how to explain them in a way that doesn’t sound deluded or defensive or jaded?

But then I realized that I could easily answer it — if the audience were different. So I went into a particular chat room and announced, “I got called a sadist on Facebook for saying I think trolling feminists is funny,” and everybody laughed. I didn’t have to give context, I didn’t have to justify, I didn’t have to explain; they all totally understood.

I can troll feminists because feminism has succeeded. Women and men are equals; women are no longer special. They have to become worthy, just like males do, they’re no longer conferred worth at birth by virtue of their gender. This is what the genderlessness of the online community has achieved: everybody gets treated the same way, even if some of them are girls. (This is what Rule 16 — “There are NO GIRLS on the internet” — means. Everyone starts at the same baseline and has to prove themselves, rather than just immediately being granted value for possessing a vagina. There are no vaginas on the internet, either, only pictures of them.)

This is what I did today.

February 17th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess | Work - (0 Comments)

In which it’s not much, but it’s what there was.

Hitting Snooze

I was scheduled to work a short noon-to-four shift today, which sucks because it’s too cold to walk and there’s no bus so I’d have to take two taxi rides. Which makes no sense if you’re only working four hours, because you’d spend nearly half your income for the day merely getting to and from work. I was considering spending an hour and a half at a nearby coffee shop to catch a ride home from my guy after, but then again, that would cost money too. So I hadn’t really decided yet.

When my alarm went off at nine, I hit snooze and realized my guy was still in bed and freaked out. “You’re–! It’s NINE! You–”

“I took the morning off,” he mumbled.

“Oh,” I said, and snuggled in and promptly went back to sleep. I hit snooze every ten minutes for awhile, then reset my alarm for 10:30. Screw having a relaxing morning with plenty of time to get ready and maybe get some chores done; I wanted to sleep.

When my alarm went off again I hit snooze one last time and drowsed, then got up and showered, dried my hair, dressed, made a latte, and scrambled some eggs with mushrooms and fake sausage. At twenty ’til I got onto the bed and whispered, “Will you drive me to work? Or should I take a cab?”

“Umnphh,” said the bundle of pillows and blankets. “I’ll take you.”

“Okay, thank you!” I told it, then went and scarfed down my breakfast in record time. Cheesy eggs are delicious.

The Walk

There’s a thing they do called “a walk,” which is when highers-up come and, well, walk around the store and tick checkboxes on clipboards. Walks are pre-announced, so the entire store freaks the fuck out in preparation for a few days. Walks of varying levels of intensity happen pretty frequently and are the main reason the weekend workshop schedule ever gets updated on the whiteboard in the foyer.

This is our third walk in as many weeks. When the last one happened, they made one of the returns girls clean the entryway carpet with a RugDoctor, which makes no sense at all because, one, that rug gets cleaned at least five times a week with a much better machine, and, two, there was ice and snow on the ground outside so the rug was lousy with salt and would be so again in minutes. And it was.

But who am I to argue with meaningless busywork. Why not RugDoctor some self-adhesive carpet squares stuck to a concrete floor right inside the salt-strewn entrance of a big box store in Minneapolis in January. Just WHY NOT.

Anyway, today’s walk was several hours late for reasons I never discovered. Which meant that, rather than being over by the time I rolled in at noon, it hadn’t even started.

Because God is good, right before the Service desk was surrounded by a herd of about fifteen corporate nerds in orange aprons and shoes completely inappropriate for a warehouse setting, plus at least as many local employees, creating a veritable crowd of humans staring right at my workspace, a cashier brought me a customer with a suspended revolving credit application and I got to seat myself and my customer at the desk and spend the entire Services portion of the walk on the phone on hold with the credit department.

In which I’m a domestic goddess.

When I got up this morning — and when I say ‘morning’ you should read ‘afternoon,’ because I didn’t get up until twelve-thirty — I already had dinner planned and was resolved to wash the bed linens.

I stretched lightly in bed, then got up and did a few more stretches on the floor. Then I opened the blinds, threw on some sweats, stripped the bed and filled the laundry basket.

In the living room, I opened the blinds and let the sunshine in. Then I booted up my laptop and the cube speaker and put on some contemplative chants. OM, bitches!

In the kitchen, I started up a small sink of dishes, washed the sauce pot, and put the soaking white beans on the stove to simmer.

The sun was shining in such a way that I was also forced to scrub the stove, the refrigerator, the counters, and the sink backsplash. (At night, when I usually do the dishes, the kitchen looks clean, but in broad sunny daylight it revealed itself to be a disaster. Like college kids live here. Ewh.)

So I got out that spray bottle of green stuff that smells kinda good and scrubbed stuff.

I even scrubbed the floor beside the stove, where a strip of greasy dirtiness has been accumulating for awhile. Ewh.

Eyeing the laundry basket in the hall where I’d dropped it on my way into the kitchen, I grabbed quarters out of the junk drawer and hauled the basket of laundry upstairs to the laundry room and got it started.

Then I made myself a latte, because that’s a damn good hour’s work, if you ask me.

I feel fantastic. I’m happy. This is the best. Somehow, the asshole program that schedules my store fucked up and gave me three glorious days off in a row, so I’m actually rested and my feet don’t hurt and I’m not irritated. I popped out of bed happy and ready to clear things off my domestic to-do list, and I’m doing chores because today I can do them with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction rather than fatigue and resentment.

This is how it’s supposed to feel.

No one will ever tell you that scrubbing the handle of the fridge door is profoundly fulfilling in and of itself, because it’s not, and neither is laundry or toilet scrubbing, but it does need to be done and it’s so much nicer to do it happily and easily rather than with that tinge of embarrassment and exhaustion you feel when you’re working full-time and it’s just gotten so bad you have to do it before the plumber comes over even though you’re too tired to care.

As someone who has spent more time unemployed in the past decade than you’re supposed to, I can tell you unequivocally that no, you never get bored of not having to go to work. You do not feel uninvolved or useless — broke, maybe, but not like your life has lost all meaning.

You never get sick of leisure time, of being organized, of being on top of your shit, of having energy to spend on yourself, on what you want. You don’t find that you miss making money for other people at the expense of having clean cupboards, or that you miss being stressed out about work over the enjoyment of your own home-cooked meals.

Anybody who tells you that you need to work in order to feel fulfilled is simply defending the fact that they have to work themselves. Beyond our bullshit shared cultural myth, there is no evidence that anybody likes working, that anybody likes putting their own needs and happiness on hold, instead spending nearly two-thirds of their life attending to a company’s cancerous needs instead.

When you’re working, that fridge door handle gets and stays dirtier because you just can’t be bothered. You do feel bad about it, because it’s gross and lazy to have food stuck to your fridge, but you just can’t afford to let it get onto your radar. There’s just too much stuff like that: the piles of junk on the floors of your closets, the wall in the living room that somebody sneezed all over during cold season that still needs to be wiped down, the linens that need to be aired out on the line before the fold lines become permanent, the fact that the duvet hasn’t been dry cleaned in years because you just never have both the time and the money to get it done.

The friends you don’t have time to really be there for. The volunteering you’re not doing. The creative urges you’re ignoring. The half-assed way you interact with your one and only family. The ways in which you would give if only you weren’t using that energy to get money to pay for the basics of living.

When you’ve never been unemployed, you’re aware of the things you’re not getting done and you feel lazy, like a failure, but you’re so tired and your house has never been that clean so it’s normal for you. You assume other people get their duvets dry cleaned more than once a decade and that they probably have tidier closets than you, but you don’t really know.

But then you spend a few stints being gloriously unemployed and eventually you discover a wonderful thing: a mental and physical place in which you finally get rested up enough to tackle all the stuff on your mental domestic to-do list, and you get it done easily and without strain, and you’re organized and rested and happy and you feel useful and fantastic.

And also resentful, because you know this shit is important, but your culture doesn’t value it. It just judges you for not being able to work full-time and be an excellent housekeeper.

You know it’s important to take care of your linens so that they last a long time and you’re not wasting money on replacements. You know it’s important to cook thoughtful, thrifty, delicious meals and eat at home, for health and financial as well as psychological reasons. It’s important to keep your home clean and coherent and organized, for mental and physical health reasons and because knowing where things are and being able to easily get to them could be important in an emergency.

But nobody will pay for all this stuff, so it’s not valuable. Important, yes, but absolutely not valuable. You’re supposed to do these things on the side, for free, around your “real” job of making money for other people in return for just enough to pay your rent. But everybody will understand if you don’t get them all done, because they’re not valuable to anyone. Except you, and even you don’t care enough to handle it, right?

So work that job and let your linen rot; you can buy new. (Actually, it’s better for the economy if you replace everything all the time, right? Isn’t that the model we’ve decided upon: infinite growth and infinite waste?) Eat frozen dinners and bad restaurant food, and to hell with your health. Try to prevent anybody, ever, from looking into your closets or cupboards; you have every intention of organizing them as soon as you have time, but right now they’re just embarrassing.

Spend most of your waking hours feeling vaguely angry, lazy, and behind on things. Your social life, your creative life, your societal service goals. Hell, you haven’t studied something just to know it since you got hired. Realize that, for example, the Japanese have more savings and less expectation of free time than you do, and proceed to feel guilty about deciding to spend your entire day off on the couch, unbathed, with chores left undone. After all, chores can wait. They’re not valuable. Nobody cares if every house in America is dirty.

If nobody’s willing to pay for something, it doesn’t matter. Period. While organized closets are impressive, they’re not valuable. Society has decided that the accumulation of money under any circumstances is more important than a nation of organized, clean homes with good food and happy people in them. (Some people do pay other people to organize their closets, but that doesn’t do me any good. What I’m talking about is me organizing my closets, which involves no financial transactions.)

I resent that my culture so little values things I think are important. I hate that our laundry isn’t done, that I don’t have a freezer full of homemade food, and that the front closet is a mess. I resent being too tired nearly all of the time to cook and clean to my own standards. I resent working for pay, while the work I feel is important — clean house, good attitude, good food — has no value to my society and therefore nobody pays me for it. So I blow it all off in favor of making money for white men I’ve never even met in return for a non-living wage, a shitty schedule, and a mild but permanent sense of enraged failure.

Do you know how many times you have to be unemployed before you quit trying to tell yourself you’re unfulfilled? Do you know how long it takes to recover from full-time employment (of any kind, from crappy wage-slave jobs to engineering jobs you’re genuinely interested in) enough to feel good and spontaneously do things just because you want to?

Once I took a road trip with a group of home-schoolers. One of the moms told me it took, on average, six months — nearly an entire school year — for any child pulled out of public school to become authentically interested in learning again. After that, given the resources, they’d teach themselves, she said, “because everyone loves to learn. It’s just part of human nature.”

After about six months of post-layoff sloth and debauchery, you start doing chores. Without resentment. For the sake of having a clean closet alone, and not to please those voices in your head that tell you you’re a lazy fuck with shamefully dirty closets. You volunteer to help others not because you’re rich, because you’re not, but because you can do so joyfully. You read more non-fiction, you pick up your guitar one afternoon (the one you haven’t taken out of its case in three years), you bake fresh bread, you simmer pots of beans on the stove all day long, you spend all the time you want with your friends, you actually do your devotions regularly, your sheets are clean. No, you do not feel useless or unfulfilled. You feel like an actual human being. Just a fairly broke one.

And then your benefits run out. You take the first job you’re offered and you’re back on the treadmill, eating bad restaurant food and in your fatigue cutting all the non-essentials. All you can maintain is the job, about a third of your previous social life, and one hobby. Everything else goes, including the volunteering, the cooking, the knitting, the cheerfulness and the dusted ceilings.

Working does not give me a sense of accomplishment. It does not give me a sense of meaning, of usefulness, or of value. It just makes me tired, angry, and a poor member of society (unless you define “society” as that mechanism that wants me to eat restaurant food and buy new linens/consume medical services and have no savings). I’ve had some great jobs, too. Engaging, pleasant, with a learning curve and functional HVAC.

But regardless of the job, you’re still putting much your life on hold in order to make someone else rich. (Once in a great while you’re putting much of your life on hold in order to keep a group of people in your community employed, true, which is for the greater good and therefore of greater value. But most of the time? You’re busting balls to grow some dude’s wealth, and he does not give a fuck about the community the business operates in because he lives somewhere else.)

I make much less than I did at my last job, and I work much more. And not in a quiet newsroom sitting at a desk, either: in a concrete warehouse with shitty lighting. I’m always tired. My feet always hurt. When I’m not at work I don’t want to do anything but sit on the couch, drink wine, and read fiction or watch Hulu. I don’t even want to run to the grocery store with Scott to grab tomatoes and ginger; I don’t want to leave the apartment. (Part of that is the weather, of course — it’s been between minus ten and positive ten for awhile now, which is, in my opinion, shitty cold — but the bulk of it is the kind of fatigue the overwhelmed suffer.) I cook — not enough, but some — because it’s the hobby I’ve decided to have energy for.

Most of my internal monologue is about shutting the fuck up and not being such a horrible baby. It’s about how half the women I work with are older than me and closer to clinical obesity, and how their health is poor and how they work more hours than I do without half — I assume — of the rage I feel.

About how I’m an entitled little twat who needs to check her fucking attitude; how their feet must hurt even worse than mine and how their bathrooms are probably cleaner. How the corporate model basically has bullshit built into it, sure, but everyone else seems to be okay with it. How the fault is all with me and how I’m the angriest person I know and how because of all these flaws I don’t deserve anything better.

And about how I should be grateful to have any form of human social interaction at all, because there’s no other way to meet people in the Midwest in the dead of winter. How I’d never get any physical exercise at all if I didn’t work where I do. How working there takes the place of being in a band in terms of the noise, discomfort, heavy lifting, and performance (being in a good, cheerful, helpful mood for customers and co-workers, when in actual fact you just want to tell everyone to fuck the fuck off because only idiot white people with disposable income think that spending money on 85% of the shit in the store isn’t the epitome of stupidity).

But those last are the lies we tell ourselves in order to get by. I’m mad because that kind of work FUCKING SUCKS and the pay is AWFUL. I’m mad because the environment sucks, the lighting sucks, the noise sucks, the model (of using people like my co-workers and myself to make some fucktards somewhere rich) sucks, and because I and my fat co-workers would probably be much less fat if we just had time to cook at home. I’m mad because these are things we should all be mad about that my entire culture tells me not to even notice, or when I do notice it to blame myself.

Because if I were an inherently better person I’d have more self-discipline, more gratitude, and enough energy to get all this shit done. All the working, all the customer service, all the worship, all the writing and singing, all the cleaning, all the laundry, all the cooking, all the toilet scrubbing, and all the Hulu-watching.

But today? Today was my third day off in a row, and the sun shined, and I have a clean kitchen and clean bedding and dinner’s simmering on the stove and my favorite person in the world will be home soon.

And I want to be grateful for the contrast that makes this gratitude so strong, and I don’t want to borrow trouble from the future — I’m scheduled to work the next six days in a row and I have to be at work at six o’clock in the damn morning tomorrow — but right now, right this moment, life is perfect. I feel good, I’m happy, and the ills of the world — with its shitty weather and corporate greed and toxic American diet — are locked safely outside our cozy little brick building.

We’ll eat homemade food and sleep on clean sheets tonight. We have all the electronic gadgets and entertainment subscriptions we could ever want. We have slippers and fuzzy blankets and a candy jar. We have each other.

Life is good.

In which I watch TV, cook, and hang out online. (WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THIS RIVETING CONTENT, I ASK YOU.)

Hi. Welcome to my day off. It’s pleasantly sunny outside, although the high is still ONLY ZERO DEGREES FAHRENHEIT. I am wearing sweats. They’re grey. The hoodie sports the logo of Scott’s alma mater. Because college sportsball or something. He gave it to me. I have no idea, to be honest, why anybody would have a college hoodie years after graduating, but that’s just me.

OTOH, maybe I should locate and buy an MIU (er, MUM now, I guess) hoodie. Because LOL MAHARISHI UNIVERSITY OF MANAGEMENT. I had a navy MIU hoodie with the logo on in gold foil; I wore the shit out of that thing. WHEN I WAS A STUDENT THERE.

I have a pot of quick-soaked kidney beans simmering on the stove. Eventually they’ll become rajma masala. I have a cabbage in the fridge and that’ll become cabbage thoran. I’m also intending to make tomato-onion raita, but we’ll see. I’m out of fresh ginger so I don’t know if it would be worth the effort without it.

I’ll probably serve Scott a steak and a potato. He eats Indian food but there’s a steak in the fridge that shouldn’t be allowed to go bad.

Christmas flowers

I slept until nearly eleven, then got up and rearranged some flowers. As you do when you’re living in a Victorian novel, or, apparently, my life. Had coffee. (I get Turkish-ground espresso at Big Lots, a used food/dollar store, for super, super cheap. Which means I drink fantastic coffee; much better than any of the crap you’ve had at a coffee shop in the past decade.) I ate some leftover homemade kichdi I’d pulled from the freezer the day before.

Then I got my laptop, put it on the lapboard, and settled my fat ass into the couch. HELL YES, DAY OFF. I’m not even going to make the bed or do that load of laundry I should do. I’m going to cook a little, but that’s it. Swear to God. I don’t even care that the garbage needs to go out, because it’s so fucking cold I’d have to get fully dressed to avoid death between my apartment and the dumpster. Fuck that. Been watching old movies on GetTV all day and surfing social media like an asshole. It’s what you do when you have no actual social life.

Wrote a long response to a Facebook post… a girl I knew in college is now a grown-up mom who writes for The Atlantic, and she asked, without irony (I paraphrase), “Why the phrase ‘making their kids organic baby food’ is used to indicate privilege or elitism.” I laughed, because I thought it was a joke, but then I read the responses from other moms she knows and realized that it wasn’t a joke. They were all genuinely miffed that people make fun of them and, even worse, consider them entitled and/or wealthy, when they know how hard they work and how little their portfolios are worth. They’re not privileged! Those blenders don’t wash themselves, nor do those organic bananas buy themselves!

I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote my response for nearly an hour, because I wanted to get the point across (“only an elitist — someone with money to waste, in other words, who wastes it mainly to maintain an identity — would ask something like that, dear”) without sounding like a complete dick. I hope she doesn’t get mad, but seriously: popping an organic banana into a blender because you just KNOW it’s SO MUCH HEALTHIER than, say, a jar of Gerber’s? Really? Do you have any evidence for this at all?

Um, no. No, you don’t. And poor people know this, because they’re not stupid, just poor.

And how can you not understand how wealthy you are? You have: a house, electricity, the money to buy organic bananas, and the time to make your own organic baby food. Fuck yes you’re lucky. One might say elite, even. I personally know moms just as educated who work two jobs and just don’t have the money to shop organic produce or the time to prepare and feed it to their kids.

Eh. I’m paraphrasing a Facebook interaction on my blog. Holy shit. Apparently I don’t have a life.

One of the people in my department at work is transferring to another store, so guess what? I’m working 33 fucking hours a week again. It had gotten as low as 24 and I was really stoked, but apparently that’s over. Again.

I like the people. The work is okay. I FUCKING HATE THE HOURS. WITH A BURNING PASSION. I’m expected to blithely be available from 6AM to 9PM every single fucking day, and to not care when I have only nine hours off between shifts? Are you fucking retarded as well as greedy, corporate America?

I’m hoping my Comcast friend will give me tele-work, because I really don’t want to stay where I am until May even if I am beginning to make friends with my co-workers and they’re all pretty awesome people.

Anyway, I’m cooking stuff now so off I go. I’d write more interesting posts, but I’m just not that interesting these days. You know how it is, first year with a new man, you just hole up and snuggle and coo at each other, and literally no one wants blog posts about THAT.