Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 9
It's amazing how much happens in two weeks (OK, three weeks) these days. George Jetson tried to tell us what the future would be like and I find myself yelling, "JANE! Stop this crazy thing!" at least once a day. Note a few changes in this space: 1) "Hyggeing" is temporarily changed to "Summering" for obvious reasons, and 2) I added an "Extra Credit" section to the bottom to capture all the interesting bits that don't fit into my fixed categories.
Being closer to 50 than 40. I learned a lot of interesting science factoids when I worked at the Harvard Medical School. One of the most pertinent pieces of information gleaned from that era is that we experience "aging spurts" -- just like a growth spurt, the opposite happens. The past 18 months have been one giant leap forward from relative youth and health to no-one-told-me-THIS-would-happen aging. It's lead to all sorts of change adjustments, like accepting that I can't go for long walks on the beach like I used to or that the ease of never thinking about how you are feeling is gone forever. It's also made this health care debacle very real. As we age, things break. It happens to all of us so thinking about health as some sort of stasis is ridiculous. What is immoral, wrong, evil, and just plain douche-y is believing that people who need help paying for health care (um, MOST of us) aren't deserving of assistance because it is their fault somehow. The GOP is soaked in their denial of privilege and leaving little drips of it all over our democracy. More on those bastards later. And in case we all need to find alternative health care, read these articles: -"When the American Medical System Failed Us, We Turned to Mexico." -"Innovative Medical Treatments in Mexico." -"In Jamaica, a Push to Market Island Getaways -- with a Side of Surgery." Also, for the record, I would like it to be known that two doctors have told me in the past couple of months that they thought I was 35. (My first thought was, "AWESOME!" My second: "Wait. Didn't you look at my records??")
The opportunity to watch Louis Masai create a mural in our town. Sometimes I am amazed by the talent that this tiny little town attracts (like Randy Rainbow who is coming in August! Start thinking about what I should say to him. I don't want to look like a weird fangirl.) Definitely check out his work online and, if you are in town, drop by the Harbor Hotel to check it out yourself.
Our safe haven. There are a couple of local blogs that I read and this one post, "A Tumult of Emotions -- Spring 2017," is really helpful in understanding how our community is impacted by 45's administration and how Ptown has always been a safe place for people who have been ostracized.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I may be the only one who hasn't read this book, but after seeing the film, I'm interested in learning more. Specifically, what is the deal with the legal issues around using someone's tissue without permission? That seems wrong. Also, that Oprah! When she commits, she commits. (Did you see her on Ellen's coming out anniversary show. I cried. And, on my gosh, Michelle!)
The Handmaid's Tale. I signed up for a free month of Hulu just to watch this. I've made it through all the episodes released so far and I cannot say I am loving it. The story is epically courageous (I read the book) and the visuals are gorgeous, but I HATE THE STORY. Mostly because it is too easy to imagine as our future. So much has been written about the show/book and I found this article particularly interesting: "The Handmaid's Tale is a Warning to Conservative Women." (I should also mention I binged 11.22.63 and am in Season 2 of The Mindy Project, which is saving my sanity. Hulu may be here to stay in our household.)
Frontline's The Fish On My Plate. This guy stopped eating "land meat" and only ate fish for a year. He wanted to see what would happen to his body if he increased his intake of Omega 3 (because we're all apparently eating too much Omega 6 from soy, corn oil, processed food, or "land foods.") The results are intriguing and mercury levels come into play. In the end, it proves this truism: everything in moderation -- and stay away from the really bad stuff. Not sure why we keep looking for better advice.
Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown season 9 opener on Los Angeles. Tony keeps getting better and better with his socio-economic political views on food and culture. Focusing on East LA, "chicanos," immigration, and what it means to be an American, the first episode will knock you over. Take a look at the companion web site Explore Parts Unknown to go deeper into the topic. Also bonus points for watching NatGeo's LA92 with tons of real footage from the LA Riots, the most destructive civil disturbance in American history. And my favorite food doc ever: City of Gold about food critic Jonathan Gold and his approach to reviewing family-owned shops in the ethnic enclaves of LA.
Eurovision 2017. Oh my! What an extravaganza!! My two favorites were Greece and Israel -- mostly because I would totally add their songs to my Mixy Mix Mix playlist. The songs are super danceable, in an early to mid 90s kind of way, none of this annoying dubstep crap. This was my first time watching and I was dazzled, completely confused after the voting started, and totally disappointed when the winner was announced (yawn!). But I am adding this to my annual Must Watch list.
Home videos for Instagram. My dad took a ton of home videos when we were kids and he converted them all to CD some time ago. I'm in the process of converting them again and recently posted a little clip of my first sail on the Hindu back in 1973 and a Mother's Day tribute to my mom. I'll share more over the coming weeks.
You Don't Look Your Age ... And Other Fairytales by Sheila Nevins. I saw the interview with her on CBS Sunday Morning and let's just say I was FASCINATED. Mostly because of her incredible impact in the documentary industry, but also because of her style. And that she looks so young. Plastic surgery, clearly -- but not the Gloria Vanderbilt version. I also ordered the audio book because she enlisted an awesome list of people to read each chapter (Meryl Streep, RuPaul, and Martha Stewart, to name a few.)
Saipua's May 3, 2017 journal entry. I so appreciated this journal post for the way that it incorporates the horror of the Trump world into her daily accounting of her chores. "Nature is full of things that we can all agree on and I trust the power of that more than anything these days."
"Junot Díaz Talks Dominican Identity and the (Complicated) American Dream." I know, Junot Díaz again. I appreciate his world perspective and the Dominican Republic fascinates me (first colonized city in the New World, that horrible Trujillo era, it's relationship with Haiti, and it's super mix of cultures.) It looks like I am going to miss him when he's in Ptown later this month (DRAT!)
Longform's interview with S-Town's Brian Reed. It's fascinating to hear what the producer and host was thinking only 72 hours after S-Town was released -- before he was aware of how popular it would be, before the backlash, before the critical reviews. Most of the interview was about how the podcast was made and the decisions around structuring the story.
The Messenger podcast. If you are looking for something truly unique, this is it. The podcast centers on Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a Sudanese refugee, and his life inside the immigration detention center on Manus Island, which is run by the Australian government. The interviewer is unable to talk directly to Aziz so they converse through 30-second messages left on each other's voicemail through WhatsApp. He's been there in limbo for years having been told to settle in Papua New Guinea (which is not equipped to support refugees) or go home. The story is still unfolding so catch up soon.
Eating + Drinking:
The 5:2 "Diet". Technically this should be under the "Thinking About" category because I haven't actually tried this yet. The premise is that you eat 25% of your normal calories two days a week. Beyond weight loss, it is supposed to have a number of benefits. I first thought it was nuts, then I read this seemingly unrelated article: "How to Fight Cancer (When Cancer Fights Back.)" This theory of treating cancer aims to turn it into a manageable chronic disease and uses the same feed-then-starve approach as the 5:2 diet. Anyway, the connection intrigues me.
The Mr.'s fresh salsa. He makes salsa from scratch with fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice. It is BETTER than the pico de gallo we've had in Mexico. SO, SO tasty!
"Why You Should Put Salt on Your Fruit." Salt is my magic dust. I put it on everything, even ice cream. And it is especially good on that summer-est of fruits, watermelon.
New and forgotten words: -anodyne = adj. not likely to provoke dissent or offense; inoffensive, often deliberately so -insouciant = adj. showing a casual lack of concern; indifferent. (As in "Does Marine Le Pen not understand that being French is all about being insouciant, not shouting endlessly about how terrible it is when women wear veils? The only article of clothing a Frenchman should be against is the sock with the sandal." )
Summering (formerly "Hyggeing"):
Opening parties! As a way of recognizing the locals, a lot of the town's bars and restaurants have opening parties to celebrate the beginning of the season. This town loves free food!
First tea. This year we are getting townie passes, which is like gold around here.
My new Friend of the Pod tshirt. Finally, I am official.
Eloquii. Curvy girls, this is for you. And if, like me, you are also short round/petite fat, do not despair. We have options. There are new items on this site almost weekly and there seems to be a different deal almost every day (you can keep up by subscribing to it's email list). I held out for 50% off and free shipping. Also, try ASOS Curve -- most of the sequin section in my closet has come from there. And if you are feeling the least bit anxious about swimsuit season, this clip from American Housewife should help!
Weeds. First, UGH! Second, I've decided to approach it as a daily battle. Every day, I knock out a few weeds. I've been spending no more than 20 or 30 minutes each day, taking a small section of the yard and getting rid of those pests. Sometimes I just grab a few as I'm putting Stephen in the car for his dog park adventure. Saves the health of my back and, over time, I hope it keeps things under control. We'll see who wins the battle this summer!
More stuff! My eBay store is doing pretty well and for the most part I've had a good experience with it. My cousin has an eBay business so I got lots of great tips from her. I've had to figure out when to bargain and when not to, the ins and outs of postage, and how to deal with a scammer. I'm still adding inventory, so check back to see what I have available. I'm now getting to some of the really good stuff that I've been on the fence about parting with. Send me a message if you want to bargain on any thing you see.
Update on the silver hair. First, thanks for all the positive comments! If you are thinking about it, just know that I have saved a ton of money and time. It took awhile because I refused to cut my hair short. I just put it on top of my head (and hid the weird stuff as best as I could.) Also note that you should buy special shampoo and conditioner for silver hair. There are rows and rows of men's hair products available in my town, but only a small section for women so I had only one choice. I need to find a more natural formula. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!
My rescued cactus paddle is having a baby! I have a very cool prickly pear cactus that a squirrel attacked by ripping off one of it's paddles, chewed on it, and then decided he didn't like it and left it on the chaise lounge to die. Jerk. Anyway, I replanted it and cared for it and this year, it has a new little appendage growing!! Hooray!
Planning + Organizing:
Trip to NYC with my sister, niece, and one of her BFFs. We're looking for total non-tourist stuff. We'll be staying in Chelsea and so far everything revolves around sweets, coffee shops, bagels/bialys, secret gardens, outdoor murals, architecture, and Muji. Love to hear any recommendations that fall into these categories.
I wanted to talk about so many political things in this issue but, once again, I am stupefied. I had cool things to say about NAFTA. And I had a very emotional dressing down of the irresponsible and reckless GOP jerks who voted for that horrible AHCA bill, or The 217, as I call them. But, LORDY (as Comey would say), I have no words for the fustercluck that is swirling around DC ... except, "JANE!! STOP THIS CRAZY THING!!!"
Critical Reading. "Even Republicans Admit We Are Headed for Universal Health Care." "'I would predict that in less than seven years, we'll be in a single-payer system,' acclaimed conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer told Tucker Carlson." "The Strange Psychological Power of 'Fox & Friends'." "It’s an us-against-them mentality, delivered with a smile, the hosts so relentlessly cheerful that they sometimes seem giddy, as if they’ve just stepped out of a party at Mar-a-Lago." "Will Hurd is the Future of the GOP (*If he can hold on to the toughest seat in Texas.) "He denounced Trump during the campaign, distancing himself in particular from the candidate’s rhetoric about Mexican immigrants. He voted against Ryan’s health care bill in early May, knowing the toll it would take on the many poor, isolated constituents he represents. And he has emerged as perhaps the most vocal opponent of Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border, which he argues would hurt trade, send the wrong message and fail to keep out intruders."
Action. Open comment period on National Monuments. I've been seething that the Big Jerk wants to open up our national parks to development. I mean, I AM LIVID. The endangered list includes the first marine national monument in the Atlantic. GRRRR!!! There is more information on this here. And instructions for commenting here. First deadline is May 27! Swing Left. In the 24 hours after The 217 voted for AHCA, they raised over $1 million to fund opponents of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House. Every time I get pissed off, I give money. Politico Massachusetts Playbook. It's clear that much is shifting back to the states under this administration so stay informed about what is going on in your state. Politico has a really informative and thorough newsletter that covers all things Massachusetts. They don't have one set up in every state but there are also New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, and Illinois newsletters available here. Amy Siskund on Medium. She's keeping track each week of the things happening around us that are changing, as you may have seen is recommended by experts on authoritarianism. Week 26 is sobering -- 93 items on the list in ONE WEEK! @ObamaPlusKids on Twitter. Just photos of President Obama with children. Trust me, you need this in your feed.
The Pudding. Subscribe to this "weekly journal of visual essays." Displaying data in a visual way is awesome and it is amazing what people who have brains like this can do.
Two stories of women using their hands to create amazing things that machines cannot make. I have said before that I have a huge fear of cylons and am very interested in the things that only human beings can do. Because those things will save us. Check out The Life-Saving Weaving of Bolivia's Indigenous Women and The World's Rarest Pasta is Made Entirely By Hand.
Le Sigh. "A newsletter for people who are Le Tired of the internet." If you need to tap out for a bit, you'll learn all you need to know about pop culture from this low key, almost analog newsletter.
So I know I said I'd do these every two weeks and this one is a little over a week late. There was SO MUCH to write about that not only did I jam pack this issue, I almost have the next one done, too. See you back here in a week or so!