Pheasants & Barley: idealized Nordic cuisine, it’s what’s for dinner

Tonight’s dinner menu is brought to you by this beautiful coffee table decoration that doubles as a cookbook:

Upon hearing that dinner was going to be a frittata (boring — I love breakfast for dinner as much as the next gal but when you eat an egg sandwich almost every morning, doing it again ten hours later just seems uninspired), I opened cookbook nearest my hand for some more out-of-the-ordinary inspiration. That cookbook happened to be Fire and Ice, a cloth-covered photo-essay-cum-“home-cooking”-expedition through the Great White North.

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Rant/Ramble of the Day: Thoughts on Plan B (not that kind)

Warning: too long and mostly un-edited.

After reading this post (read it, especially if you’ve every wondered why not to get a PhD), and then this one (also read it), something very particular stuck out to me:

You didn’t have a Plan B and that was stupid. What did you think would happen?

This strikes me an intellectually dishonest on the part of the people asking this question. Our society rewards drive, single-minded pursuit, having one over-arching mission of life (or at least appears to reward, in such a way as to discourage individuals from having many different goals and interests). The heroes in our society are the ones who(se narratives suggest they) dedicated their lives to achieving one great thing. Martin Luther King. Steve Jobs. Amelia Earhart. We don’t have any renaissance men or women anymore, not really. If we do, we have Noam Chomsky, and even he’s more of a two-trick pony. It is both impossible and dispreferred, in this day and age, to excel in multiple fields. No longer can a single public intellectual (or private intellectual, or academic) write and speak with authority and respectability in disciplines ranging from ethics to economics to ecology.

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Guns, Sex, and Social Stories

There’s always time for a quick revelation.

Like when after reading way too many takes and post-takes and post-post-takes on the Aziz Ansari incident (I won’t even bother linking), you finally read one that reminds of you of something totally not related and yet totally exactly the same that you’re like, holy shit, this is a sociological pattern if there ever was one.

I’ll quote directly, because that’s how I roll. I will also add the caveat that I actually have not read the entire article because this connection is too obvious to let a commentary go even five minutes stewed.

The Aziz Ansari case hit a nerve because, as I’ve long feared, we’re only comfortable with movements like #MeToo so long as the men in question are absolute monsters we can easily separate from the pack. Once we move past the “few bad apples” argument and start to suspect that this is more a trend than a blip, our instinct is to normalize. To insist that this is is just how men are, and how sex is. (Lili Loofbourow in The Week)

Let me repeat for effect: “… so long as the men in question are absolute monsters we can easily separate from the pack … [once we] suspect that this is more a trend than a blip, our instinct is to normalize.”

What does this pattern — the pattern of separating monsters but normalizing systemic violence — remind you of?



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So resolved

Ah, the void. We meet again.

Resuming (which is generous) posting is always onerous. Something about retrospectives and grand plans for the future, all colliding in the face of an empty page/screen, à la a magnificent celestial vision for realities that would fit inside a mouse’s teacup.

In lieu of promising anything great or anything grand, or “resolving” (unfortunately it is just about the New Year) to post on a regular basis or on any particular theme, it is time to recognize the reality that is the futility of cohering this amalgamation of my life into anything more than what it is. An incoherent amalgamation into which any member of the public with internet access is unfortunately welcome to delve at their own peril.

That said, here are some things that have engaged me recently: cookbooks, being angry about narratives in food writing, and having lots of plans to start projects that either get started or don’t, but rarely ever get farther than that. I suppose “grand plans for my blog” (which is a disgusting word, truly) fall under the latter category of engagements.

Other not-yet or barely started projects include coordinating pop-up shops of local makers, and “doing” a data-driven project looking at the language of restaurant reviews with respect to demography of restaurant owners. See “things that have engaged me recently”, item #2.

I also spent a not-insignificant number of hours today applying for and/or finding interesting-looking jobs in the computational linguistics and affiliated universes, so that was something.

A brief summary of headlines from the last 24-ish hours, and what to do about it.

#tbh, I’m already exhausted.

It’s now Day 5, and reading through my Facebook, NYT, and other news feeds, there are too many ridiculous things happening to even feel as though I can address any one of them and be effective, let alone all the ones that anger me and chill me to my core.

Here’s a sampling of things from the roughly last 24 hours that we should all be anywhere from pretty to terribly concerned about. In some cases, I’ve included links to or suggestions for concrete actions: Continue reading

How to Win at Life, from Some Chick in the Times

I have recently faced my demon (one of my demons?) that is a) my fear of failure, which is actually related to b) my fear of being rejected for the imagined expectations by the socioeconomic class of my upbringing. Yes: I am afraid of failure to meet non-existent expectations. Let me tell you, it makes that dark head space really entertaining.

For those who don’t know, the socioeconomic class in question is the socioeconomic class of doctors and lawyers and Wall Street investment bankers. Functionally, this meant I grew up with the innate social pre-emption that service = lower class = bad. So when I found myself in the service industry—which was fine as a high schooler, less fine but acceptable (and attributable to “taking time”) just after college, and now, at 25, causes me to hedge answers to “what do you do?” by leading with my occasional freelance work, only at the end adding the fact that, 30-40 hours a week, I sling joe. That’s right, nay-sayers. Career barista, right here. And, in case you weren’t clear, I dig it.

Soak THAT one in.

According to some people (like parents, who I am disinclined to believe because it is in their DNA to make me feel better no matter what), these expectations are imagined. But they’re not. They’re not necessarily expressed, certainly not in my household, but they are by my peers to each other, to my peers by their parents and mentors, and by society/”The Media” in every pop culture depiction of twenty-somethings. We are almost always depicted as being gainfully (read: non-service-industry) employed, and if not, in hot pursuit of that happiest of endings.

The fact that these expectations (which I may or may not imagine) make me feel terrible about myself on a daily basis is why this article, forwarded to me by my mother with pure intentions, made me so gosh darned angry.

Read it, and come back.

This girl makes me angry because THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH WHAT I DO. She is modest to the point of self-righteousness, normalizes the misguided expectation that all young people have defined career goals and passions (and, beyond that, know what those are), and is sickeningly optimistic. It’s a guilt trip on everyone who hasn’t done, or “achieved,” what she has. Harsh, perhaps. But really: “My heart has always been in Africa” just screams white guilt to me. Perhaps my daily discussions have just been so racially motivated that that’s all I can see, which might be unfair. Good for her, you know, good for her for knowing she wasn’t doing what she wanted to do, but I have a hard time understanding people like her.

Let me put it this way: I am not sure I trust anyone who, at 22, claims to know what they want to do for the rest of their life, or can claim with sincerity where their heart lies. Or perhaps it is closer to personal offense: that she, of my generation, has chosen to incidentally judge my choices and reinforce my own insecurities: I’m just not good enough.