Michael Pollan. Seriously. Stop it right now. I want to like you! I want to believe everyone who says you're the savior of food in America! That would make my life so easy. But instead I keepnoticing that you have a hard time wrapping your head around feminism's role in the U.S.'s approach towards food over the past 50 years, and you don't seem to be all that interested in the complexities of women's relationship to food either. Otherpeoplehave called you out about this, thankfully. Plus you seem to have some freaky grudge against vegetarians, who you claim are naive and sentimental. Just shut up and eat the $10 local grass fed burger you guys!
Georgia O'Keeffe on the Southwest: "Such a beautiful, untouched lonely feeling place, such a fine part of what I call the 'Faraway'."
My trip to the desert was wonderful, poignant experience. I didn't quite expect to enjoy it as much as I did when I was a little kid, but it turns out that I'm only more in love with it now. The way O'Keeffe described it is perfect, and I like that Edward Abbey says that the desert is "clean". Even with all the colors of red and the persistent dust, the Southwest remains a stark, strange and bone-dry landscape. Ancient but elusive. You'll die of thirst or exhaustion out there before you find even one good word to pin it down with. Maybe someday I'll come up with a good way to explain my feelings about the desert (I never expect to explain the place itself), but for now I'm satisfied letting older, smarter, and sometimes deader people do it for me (O'Keeffe, Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams). But I love it. I really do.
Right now I'm looking into getting an internship with the SCA sometime in the next few years at a national park in Utah or Arizona (Canyonlands please!!). Maybe I'll try to do it while I'm in school for credit, maybe I'll try to do it after I graduate, or maybe I'll try to do it instead of studying abroad. I don't know. But it seems like an opportunity I would be sick to pass up.
Can we seriously never have a conversation (on the internet or in a group of people in person) about female genital mutilation/cutting/circumcision without SOME fool-ass-fool jumping in with "But what about male circumcision?!" Stop it. Actually, this applies across the board to all conversations about terrible things that happen to women. Is it really so frightening that sometimes we take a few minutes to not talk about dudes and/or their penises?
Yum. After a couple nights of uninspired cooking, this meal was a great treat. This is a recipe adapted from a chili-lime shrimp recipe my roommate Nora found on the internet--she didn't have all the right ingredients, so she did her own thing with it. She makes it with shrimp all the time and I am always jealous because the marinade smells so damn good, so we set a goal to make the recipe using tempeh sometime before she moves across the country. Today was the day, and it was awesome.
Nora's Chili Lime Marinade with Tempeh
1 package tempeh
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or grated
2 tbsp brown sugar
6 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp lime juice (lemon works too)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tsp olive oil
4 tsp lime juice (or lemon)
4 tsp olive oil (less would be fine)
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the tempeh into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Bring a small pot of water to boil, and simmer the tempeh pieces for about 10 minutes to make them tender and ready to soak up marinade. While the tempeh simmers, mix all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish. Use tongs to transfer tempeh to the dish when it's done simmering, and let marinate for 15-30 minutes--you will have to turn it two or three times.
While the tempeh marinates, prepare the avocados. Cut the avocados into bite-sized chunks, and place in another shallow bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the avocados. Allow to sit while the tempeh cooks. Heat about 2 tsp of olive oil in a pan at medium high heat. Place a few pieces of tempeh in at a time, pouring spoonfuls of marinade over the pieces. Cook until the tempeh is tender and glazed with marinade, about 5-8 minutes.
Once all the tempeh is cooked, load up a plate with tempeh and avocado, sprinkling a little lemon or lime juice on top, then eat!
WOW. Earlier today my parents insisted that I come up with a list of places I would like to go over the course of our trip West, so that we can determine our routes there and back and spend our time accordingly. So for the past half hour I've been looking through all the different national parks out in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. I'm looking at Alaska, Wyoming and Montana too, not for this trip but for my possible road trip next summer. I don't come by "proud to be an American" moments often, but right now I feel incredibly lucky to live in a country with so many vastly different, beautiful and strange landscapes somehow all packed together between one ocean and another. I want to go everywhere! It's so overwhelming.
My list so far is:
Arches National Park
Zion Nation Park
I don't expect to get to all of them on this one trip (though that would be so, SO great!), but they're all so amazing I don't know how I'll ever choose. I'm a little startled by how desperately I want to go to these places and how deeply connected to them I feel; I don't know if it's just because I spent time there as a little kid or if it's something else, but I know that there is nowhere else in the world that I find as beautiful or as compelling as the desert and I can hardly wait another day to get there.
I made really good scones the other night! Anya and Patrick thought they were my best, but I still just barely prefer the ones I've talked about here before. These just had cranberries and Trader Joe's orange-flavored cranberries in them, but I made an icing for them with orange zest and cinnamon that made them exceptional (if I may say so myself). The icing ended up tasting kind of like that stuff that comes with the cinnamon rolls in a tube, except better and with less suspicious ingredients. Proud of these!
I also made a good batch of lasagna rolls last night, helped in no small part by the fresh basil that is finally available at the co-op. It was hydroponic so I imagine it's just been growing inside all winter, but it was still so good. Mmmm, that smell. The other residents of the FP and myself devoured the lasagna over the course of our designated roommate night, which was delightful. We just hung out in the den and sang to music videos--Patrick insisted on TLC, Anya and I were all about Destiny's Child and Beyonce, Brendan (honorary roommate) reqeusted old Usher singles and there was some Lady Gaga thrown in. Ha! It was great.
In spite of my really unfortunate bout of nausea this morning, I went out to brunch with my mom at the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis. I wish I had remembered to take a picture of the food, it was so good! I had the Grilled Tofu and Spring Vegetable Hash: wild ramps, asparagus, nettles, zucchini, fennel and yukon gold potatoes with preserved lemon and fennel coulis, accompanied by mixed freens with orange champagne vinaigrette. It sounds like a lot going on, but all the flavors were actually very simple and totally delicious, and I'm excited to go back soon--it's a pleasant bike ride's distance from my house, and I can't see any reason not to go eat wonderful local grub.
And I'm making more plans for the summer. If I ever get up the energy to go talk to someone in Financial Aid I may still take a summer class. There's literally no way I can get my double major in English and Art History and my Women's Studies minor and three years of French if I don't take summer classes, so I may as well start now I guess. Probably with Math or my stupid non-credit fitness requirement. I may also plan a few fun rendez-vous for me and Joe over the summer, like spending a few days in Red Wing at this really nice B&B. I've never been to Red Wing before but it's supposed to be beautiful, and the rooms here and lovely and inexpensive. Last summer we basically just spent all of our time watching Homicide in Joe's parents' attic because I was stuck in the weird situation of not being able to move into my house, so this year I would like to have adventures.
I'm learning more than I ever really hoped or expected to about just how tightly people cling to privilege. The situations I've been dealing with lately have mostly been about white privilege, but in confronting these ugly little debacles male privilege has come up too. I've questioned a few people lately on comments they have made, and more than one of them has taken the "you are just too emotional to argue with" approach--obviously as a confident woman I have no grasp of rationality. And then of course there's the flare of anger, the instant defensiveness, the "why don't you mind your own business." Because you see, women can be such nosy bitches, and somehow when you posted that Facebook status you didn't really mean for anyone to comment on it, let alone challenge your problematic ideas expressed therein.
These people know that the tactics they use to respond to me will shut down any real attempts at conversation. I really think they know that they're wrong, somehow. When they get called out, somewhere in there they know that they've said something fucked up and don't know how to justify it, so they skirt the issue. They make it about me. They make it about me because they convince themselves that I'm attacking them, that I'm trying to be rude or to hurt them or to make them look stupid. I couldn't care less about any of that. What it's really about is the world we live in that normalizes and encourages white privilege and male privilege, and a whole host of other unsavory attitudes that systemically contribute to the abuse and oppression of others. I hate that world. I hate seeing it reflected back at me in people I know. Teachers of mine have told me that the most important part is planting that first seed of consciousness, the thing you say that pierces the surface and gets carried around, turned over, periodically examined, occasionally making its presence obvious and uncomfortable. That's when it starts to make a difference.
For now maybe I'm clumsy. I don't always express myself like I want to, though the words come easier now in conversation and in type. I'm getting better at controlling my anger, but I still feel the heat in my face and the shiver in my voice when I know I'm about to go somewhere ugly. But I've decided I can deal with a little extra anger and discomfort--it's worth it. And you know what, white dudes in my life? You could stand to be a little more uncomfortable too. Think of how shitty it can feel when you're being challenged, or getting called on your nasty comments, or being asked to check your privilege, and I can guarantee you that the people you trample on every day without ever noticing feel a lot worse than you do in that moment when you realize you're wrong.
So I'm trying. I'm trying to be a better advocate for myself and ally for others, and someday maybe I'll actually get to consider myself an activist. But I'm still learning, and it's still hard.
I pity anyone who watches The Wire without having first watched Homicide: Life on the Street. You can consult Wikipedia if you need more technical info here, but suffice it to say that Homicide is a show from the '90s that ran 7 seasons (6 of which I have seen in their entirety and am terribly obsessed with) and is based off of the book of the same name by David Simon. The Wire is winning me over in large part because of its HLOTS connections and how similar the shows are, except one has actual swearing and violence.
I've only seen the first season of The Wire so far, but seriously, half of the extras in the show used to be characters on Homicide and the writers throw in all of their own little HLOTS inside jokes into the episodes. One of the actors from Homicide directed the first few episodes of the show, and apparently Detective John Munch of Homicide (who you may recognize from the perpetually shitty Homicide wannabe, Law & Order...I think he does SVU? Gross) makes a cameo appearance as the same character on The Wire. My list could go on for ages (based only off of Season 1!) and I imagine it only gets better from here. Luther Mahoney, my favorite villain/drug dealer from HLOTS plays an ME on The Wire and I'm excited to see more of him, especially to contrast him to my new favorite compelling-but-technically-bad-guy Omar Little. Both have huge smiles and are smooth with cops. Apparently that is my criteria for "excellent character."
A few sleepy judgments before I go to bed: The Wire is probably better written and sometimes better acted than Homicide, and it doesn't have to have the occasional really stupid plot line to cater to a prime time audience with a fidgety-at-best attention span. But with The Wire, its freedom from the constraints of network TV have lead to its worst parts as well as its best.
For instance, The Wire's numerous depictions of naked, dead, and blank faced black women are severely creepy and definitely in bad taste. I really, really wish this didn't happen. Obviously male characters are shown as dead victims of violence too, but not totally unclothed; it makes it seem like these women's bodies are being displayed for the sole purpose of being looked/gawked at, totally divorced from their personalities or humanity since they were never important or even peripheral characters on the show. The depiction of WOC's bodies as objects to be subjected to nasty voyeurism and violence for entertainment (in this case the entertainment of white people who can afford HBO) is nothing new, and the writers/producers/directors should all know better than to perpetuate that ugly tradition even as they confront so many other complex issues head on.
Homicide, on the other hand, did a good job directly discussing the different roles of women at home and in the workplace through some of the shows prominent characters, but this only seemed to happen with regards to the detectives or other women in the police force. The women outside the office, the ones who were parts of cases, were hardly ever treated with this same respect or given this degree of analysis. I get that this could be (in part) chalked up to the fact that Homicide is a workplace drama about the detectives themselves, but it still seems problematic. HLOTS also was less of a "dude show" than The Wire, based on Season 1; the number of woman characters on Homicide changed from season to season, but usually there were several and they occupied important, authoritative positions on the show. The first season of The Wire had a few good woman characters, but the cast is overwhelmingly male and as a result the show gives priority to the male characters' perspectives and experiences.
Another weird thing: I am not a fan of the state of the U.S. police force, broadly speaking, but these shows obviously make me love cops as characters. Moral conundrum! I guess they also make me love drug dealers as characters, so...whatever. You're a crafty bastard, David Simon.
I will probably have more to say about this when I'm not half asleep.
Okay I couldn't resist another Modern Lovers song. This one is still precious, but more punk! Yeah!
Indicative of my mood lately, my post-school confusion, or my life/tastes in general (who knows--any or all of the above?), the movies I have out of Netflix right now are A Bout de Souffle, Blanc (White), and Dirty Dancing. Yeah. Don't hate. Tomorrow is my 4th day in a row of work--a sort of surprise Bean Factory mini-marathon--and then hopefully I will get to watch them all in the next few days. Now that I finished knitting my scarf I don't know what to do while I watch movies! I'm weirdly tempted to make a foray into quilting because I loved the album quilts we looked at in art history so much, but that seems a little ridiculous for right now. Then again, maybe that's exactly why I should do it.
These quilts were such a fun discovery for me. I love how they're very organized but allow so much room for creativity and the specific design choices of the women who make them. They're colorful, engaging, functional, and lovely. The best question I've ever been asked on a test was on my Women & Art final this year, the course that lead me to these quilts and a wealth of other amazing artists and information; I hope this doesn't give away anything for future Augsburg students, but the question was such that I got to respond saying that if I were to make a particular themed album quilt I would include a square depicting Holofernes's disembodied head. One of those moments when I feel sure that my double major was a good idea.
I also realized recently that I haven't blogged about my new kitty cats at all! Heinous of me, really. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to Sophie and Beauregard.
They started out pretty skittish and nervous, and still are some of the time, but I'm happy to note that as I type this post I have Beau sleeping on my feet and little tiny Sophie curled up near my right elbow. They are brother and sister from the same litter (even though Sophie is about a third of Beau's size), and they are best friends--they curl up and sleep together, and if they get separated Sophie cries! Ms. Midway is not pleased at all, but in spite of all of her hissing bravado I think she's coping. She's moving to Alaska with Jordan very soon now and I will miss her terribly (my first cat!) but the new cats are wonderful and I'm so happy to have them.
To be fair, here is an adorable picture of Mid, who puts up with all the crazy things I do to her.
Oh my god! Jonathan Richman has such dance moves! Awesome. I love this song, and everything else on this album, especially side one. What a weird, wonderful, goofy group of people, and what a great band.
I started Leviathan today, and 30 pages in it's so good! Philip Hoare bounces a lot of his own great insight off of already good ideas from Moby-Dick, and he does it in a way that's sensitive and exciting rather than just redundant or unimaginative.
I also have been productive in the kitchen again recently; no pictures, but in the past two days I've made a good pasta sauce, homemade seitan, chocolate chip and walnut cookies (to go in the cat shaped cookie jar I made in Ceramics this past semester!), seitan steak sandwiches which involved homemade steak sauce, veggie burgers, and a roasted red pepper and sundried tomato spread. I've also discovered that avocado with Annie's Goddess Dressing is the best thing on planet earth. I've been putting that damn dressing on EVERYTHING lately, and hopefully Jordan and I are going to try to make it before she goes back to Alaska in a few weeks.
Also, did I mention the butter sauce? Oh. Oh wow. I guess maybe I've been on a fat kick lately (remember what I say about dressing on avocados?) but man, this stuff is so good. I came across the recipe on Yummy Vegan Dinners, and have made it a few times in the past month or so. It is amazing. Like, probably the best sauce I have ever made. I dice my onions, mince my garlic and just leave them in the sauce 'cause I roll like that, I cut down the amount of Earth Balance by a tablespoon or so, and I actually like mine better with just Hunt's canned tomatoes rather than the fancy schmancy organic ones from the co-op. For some reason the fancy tomatoes taste kind of bitter or something? Maybe I'm just unsophisticated. But anyway, this stuff is the best.
That's all for now. I can be more blog-productive now that I am out of school for the summer!