Speaking of things that suck, it’s been eight years since the day my dad went into the brain surgery that, ultimately, resulted in his death. I know I say it every year, but I can’t believe it’s been that long.
Today when I went to the gym and thought about the weight bench and the weights that my dad had in our basement. I don’t actually remember him using them, but my sister says she remembers. She remembers him telling us that we could look at the weights, but we couldn’t touch because he didn’t want us to get hurt. That definitely sounds like something my dad would say.
Tonight I’m watching the Leafs-Habs game. My dad would have loved watching this – his beloved Leafs against his hated Habs on Hockey Night in Canada. I can just picture him with a bag of chips and Pepsi, yelling at the TV. Right now as I type this, the score is 1-0 for the Leafs, with 8 minutes to go. I hope my dad’s eyes are watching this.
So far, 2020 has not been the year I expected it to be. I went into it with high hopes – it’s a repdigit year after all! When have numbers ever let me down??
But I got food poisoning. The day before my birthday. Like the kind that hits you suddenly and then you barf on the bus. And then you still have to get on the Skytrain to complete the rest of your journey home, with a little bit of barf on you. And then you have to cancel the massage appointment that you were so looking forward to so that you can lie in bed feeling hella nauseated until you barf more. I managed to get through my birthday party the next day – I felt a lot better after all the barfing on Bethmas Eve – but then after that I continued to have an upset stomach. For weeks. And that’s put me behind on a bunch of side projects I’m working on, because I’ve needed to rest to try to get better. And I hate being behind on things.
Also, Crick has been having sneezing fits for a few weeks. I thought it was just a cold and that it would pass, but it’s still happening, so I took her to the vet on Friday to figure out if it’s something worse than that and/or if there is something we can do about it. But the vet said “It’s probably just an upper respiratory tract infection. There isn’t anything to do but let it run its course. Sometimes that can take weeks. Now give me $90 please!” Ok, she didn’t say it exactly like that, but that was the gist of it.
Then there’s big time crappy stuff going on at work. Stuff I’m not going to get into the details of here, but it’s crappy for a lot of really great people. That stuff is still new and raw and it’s unpleasant and making me sad.
So this year sucks and I hate it.
But. It can turn around, right? (Please tell me it can turn around). I’m trying to remind myself of the good things. Like Crick’s sneezing fits that had me worried are not a big deal and she will be fine. And people at work have been reaching out to me with kindness and offers to help and offers of commiseration, and it reminds me that I have many good people around me. And a friend of mine got a kitten and I got play with it.
Also, I have vacation carry over time from last year that I have to use up, so I have two weeks of vacation starting on Monday. The first week will be used to catch up on the side projects that I’m behind on. The second week, Scott and I are going to NYC. On my previous (and only so far) trip to NYC I had a blast, but it was short and I didn’t get to see and do so many of the things that I wanted to see and do. So I’m excited to go see and do some of those things. Recommendations accepted1!
And wish me luck that the year will get better overall!
So far, at the top of my list are the 9/11 memorial, the Empire State Building, The Top of the Rock, MOMA, the Met, Natural History Museum, and finding a few shows to watch. And food. All the food. [↩]
Once upon a time, I bought a Macbook Pro. Where by “a time” I mean “6 years ago”. I named that computer Daenerys and, much like her namesake, eventually that laptop became somewhat unhinged. Where by “unhinged” I actually mean her hard drive was inexplicably full all the time, though I couldn’t quite figure out with what, so she was running super slow and constantly telling me she couldn’t do stuff because there was no room left on the hard drive. I was on the brink of buying a new one, but my sister and brother-in-common-law said “Why don’t you wipe it and do a factory reset?” And then Kalev got me a 4TB external drive for my birthday (to replace my previous external drive that died of old age), so I backed up my overly full harddrive to that, then saved all the things that I wanted to make doubly sure I didn’t lose (like my Photos library and all my documents), made sure I had the necessary codes to reinstall any of the software I wanted to be able to keep using and then I took a really deep breath and wiped my hard drive clean.
I’ve now reinstalled a fresh version of the operating system, put my Photos library back into Photos, and started downloading the software that I want to use.
Prior to this reset, I was using Microsoft Office for Mac 2011. As it turns out, Microsoft doesn’t support software from nearly a decade ago. Who knew? So I decided to try out LibreOffice, which is a free open source product that has equivalents to all of your Microsoft favourites (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). I figure I can try it out for a bit for free, and if it doesn’t meet my needs, I can always pay for MS Office later 1. I believe Microsoft is trying to make everyone use Office 365, which requires you to pay a subscription rather than just buy the product, and I hate software as a subscription (I know I’m probably fighting a losing battle on that front). So wish me luck!
In a pinch, I can always borrow Scott’s computer, as he has Office 365. [↩]
2020 is such a good number, isn’t it? It’s got the repeated 20, so it’s just fun to say. There’s 20/20 vision and the TV show 20/20 and in Roman numerals it is MMXX. And it’s a leap year, so we get to enjoy an extra day of it. Twenty-twenty!
OK, so since it’s 2020, I’m going to set 20 goals! I’ll write them as if they are already completed, which allegedly will inspire me to complete them (and seems to have done a decent job since I started writing my goals this way two years ago).
Carry-overs from Last Year
I’ve KonMari’ed all the bathroom stuff (including toiletries, make-up, and towels).
I’ve KonMari’ed all the kitchen stuff.
I’ve painted the inside of both the front hall closet and the office closet.
I’ve compiled a list of all my accounts and other relevant information for my executrix.
Similar To Ones I Completed Last Year But Want to Do Again (And, In a Few Cases, Take Them Up A Notch)
I’ve squatted 100 kg (220 lbs).
I’ve made 20 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before – and blogged about each of them.
I’ve read 20 books – and blogged about each of them.
I’ve written in my journal at least one time per week, on average.
I’ve had people over for dinner 10 times.
I’ve slept an average of 8 hours per night.
Similar to Goals From Other Years
I’ve learned 20 new things and blogged about them.
I’ve canned/jammed 5 new food products that I’ve never made before (in addition to the 20 new food items mentioned above). I hardly did any canning in 2019 and I want to get back into it this summer.
I’ve made 20 things (not counting food products). It could be sewing projects, painting, knitting – just anything creative.
I’ve published80 blog postings (that’s a bit more than 1.5 per week, but I like that it’s a multiple of 20).
Totally New Things That I’ve Not Had on a Goals List Before
I have fixed my laptop situation (either by doing a factory reset or, if that doesn’t make it run well enough, by buying a new laptop).
I have completed the 3 online courses that I am currently developing.
I have bought and installed new blinds in my condo.
I have baked 20 times this year. I barely did any baking this year and I really enjoy baking. Bonus points if I bake some sourdough bread!
I have made a list of 100 things that I’m grateful for. (This is from my 101 things to do in 1001 days list – on which I haven’t completed very many items and the 1001 days ends in 2020!)
I have done an average of 20 mins of mindfulness meditation per week.
Since 2019 is officially over, it’s time to tally up how I did on my 2019 goals!
I’ve built a closet organizer in the front hall closet. Done!
I’ve installed a lazy Susan in each of the two corner cabinets in the kitchen. Done!
I’ve built a closet organizer in the pantry closet. Done!
I’ve cleaned up the pile of bins in the office that are driving Scott crazy. I also did this one on Dec 17, though I didn’t blog about it. It was just a pile of bins full of random things that needed to either be taken to the recycling depot, donated, or have a place found for it in the condo. And I have to admit, it’s nice to not have that sitting in the middle of the room anymore.
I’ve done a single unassisted pull up. Pull ups (when your palms are facing forward) are harder than chin ups (with palms facing towards you). Accomplished on Nov 21! And then I’ve done a few more since then too!
KonMari’ed all the kitchen stuff. I have a *lot* of kitchen stuff. I got through all the dishes/pots/pans/cutlery/etc. when I got the pantry closet organizer and lazy Susans installed, but haven’t been through all the foods. I think I have some canned goods and other foods in the cupboards that are way beyond their best before date, so I really should Konmari those.
compiled a list of all my accounts and other relevant information for my executrix. I started this list while I was at my sister’s place over the holidays and there were a few things I needed to look up at home. And then totally forgot to look them up when I got home. So close, but yet so far!
10 unassisted chin ups in a row. I didn’t get 10 in a row, but on Oct 2, I did 5 sets of 2 each, so I got 10 in one workout. I
squatted 90 kg (198 lbs). While I didn’t backsquat 90 kg, I did 2 reps of 85 kg on Nov 8 and I continued to train backsquat with higher reps on my subsequent program, but I didn’t do a 1 rep max test at the end of the year to see how much I could do. I bet I’m close to being able to squat 90 kg now though.
written in my journal at least one time per week, on average. I only managed to do this 42 times. But I feel like I’m back in the habit of journalling again, so that makes me happy.
slept an average of 7 hours per night. Since I bought myself a Fitbit on Boxing Day last year, I now have sleep data to play with. I had to download all my data and do a bit of playing around with the file to get the daily average, and it turns out to be 6.93 hours per day! So, so close!
published 78 blog postings. I did 52 on this blog, but I also did 21 on my professional blog, for a total of 73.
KonMari’ed all the bathroom stuff (including toiletries, make-up, and towels). I was totally planning to do this yesterday, but I ran out of time. I’m now planning to do this by the end of the week, so it will go on my 2020 goals list.
painted the inside of both the front hall closet and the office closet. Also something I was planning to do over my Christmas holidays, but ran out of time. It will also go on my 2020 goal list – I did a bit of reading on painting closets and I think I can do it was a weekend project.
sewn 5 items. I sewed nothing this year. So this is my most epic of my epic fails.
So that’s 9 out of 19 complete, with another 7 partially complete, and only 3 that I totally failed on. Not quite as good as last year’s 50% completion rate, but much better than the previous year!
So 2019 is now in the books and today we start the 2020s! That makes me feel old, in that I remember being a kid, when the year 2000 was “the future” and we all wondered what the world would be like in the future. And 2020 now 20 freaking years in the past! So 2020 should be super futuristic and in many ways it is. We carry around powerful computers in our pockets and can use them to talk to our friends around the world instantly. Also, the Earth is on fire and we are facing a mass extinction event and that’s totally the kind of “the future” that we read about in futuristic dystopian literature.
On a personal level, I guess a lot has
happened for me over the last decade. Some highlights – and lowlights – of the
The twentyteens for me saw four different homes in three different cities, five different boyfriends, two different day jobs, and teaching gigs of five different courses (all taught two or more times) at three different post-secondary institutions.
Here’s hoping the twenties holds lots of fun adventure and personal growth!
My reading goal for 2019 was to read 20 books. I read 20 books in 2018, so figured that was doable. But then the new Harry Potter Wizard Unite mobile game came out in June and I subsequently spent most of my commuting time for the rest of the year doing that rather than reading. It may also have been due to the fact that I was reading two textbooks at the time, and textbooks aren’t ideal to read on transit, because (a) they aren’t quite as compelling to read as other books, and (b) I always want to take notes of things as I’m reading in a textbook, which is challenging to do on transit, especially if you don’t have a seat.
Anyway, when I looked at my GoodReads account to see how dismally I was doing on this year’s goal, I saw that I needed to read 10 books in 5 days to get it accomplished. And then I tweeted this:
But then Cath made this excellent point:
Which is how I ended up reading this pile of books last night:
That brought me up to 19, and I was almost done reading a novel, which I ended up finishing this morning, so now I’ve officially completed my goal!
However, I noticed that my goal was actually more than just to read the books. It also specified that I need to have “blogged about each of them.” So here goes!
I finished off two more seasons of the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast, which means that I listened to two more books in the Belinda Blinked series. Written by the father of one of the podcasters under the pen name “Rocky Flintstone”, these books are hysterical and made even more so by the hilarious reading and commentary done by Jamie, Alice, and James.
Belinda Blinked 4;: An erotic story of sexual prowess, sexy characters and even bigger business deals whilst the darkness increases; was the last of the books that Rocky Flintstone had written before the podcast started and thus is the last book where Flintstone was not potentially influenced by trying to write ridiculous things for the podcast audience. As you may recall, there was a bombshell dropped at the end of book 3 in that a plot point happened. Book 4 had some chapters where it seemed like they might not have remembered the plot, but then other chapters do and the final chapter actually has a big reveal from the cliffhanger ending of book 3. I can’t believe I’m writing about the “plot” in this series.
I decided to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale because I wanted to read the sequel that just came out (The Testaments), but it’s been many years since I last read the Handmaid’s Tale and I wanted to have it fresh in my mind1. This book was just as good as I remembered it – and it’s one of my favourite books. It’s actually quite chilling to read it now, given what’s going on in world – all the xenophobia, misogyny, and homophobia that is erupting these days makes Gilead seems far more plausible that I thought it was when I read this as a teenager in the 90s.
Now we’ll begin the children’s book that I read last night to make sure that I would reach my goal.
Junie B. Jones 4: Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying. I did not like this book at all. The book is written from the point of view of the main character, who is in kindergarten. But the author writes it so that she constantly makes that the grammatical error that kids make where they instead of saying “ran” they “runned.” But in like every sentence. It’s really annoying.
Mortimer is a Robert Munsch book about a kid who likes to make a lot of noise and everyone yells at him to be quiet and they even call the police on him. And then they all fight and forget to tell him to shut up and he falls asleep. Seriously, that is the entire plot of this book.
Zoom! was a more entertaining book than Mortimer. It’s about a girl who goes to get a new wheelchair and she wants a really fast one. And then she gets to test the fastest one and then she needs it to get her brother to the hospital and hooray for the fast wheelchair.
Now we are getting to some real easy books.
LEGO® City: Detective Chase McCain: Save That Cargo! Quite honestly, this book wasn’t very good. The detective prevented one bad guy from doing crime and then he prevented another bad guy from stealing a top secret package, which turned out to just be an apple pie. Not much character development.
Batman Classic: Reptile Rampage is a story of Batman and Robin chasing Killer Croc who has kidnapped a doctor who made an antidote that would cure him. I feel like Killer Croc got a raw deal in this story. He just wants a cure!
Spidey Strikes (The Amazing Spider-Man Board Book). This is is a board book, so it was like 10 pages long and pretty much nothing happened. For the record, I only read the one on the right in this photo, as I didn’t see the other one on the bookshelf (and I was too lazy to take a photo of the book, so I found that image on the Internet).
Justice League Classic: I Am Aquaman was the thrilling tale of Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all visit Aquaman under the water and then some shark bad guy comes and they all fight to defend Aquaman’s home and then they win. The End.
This last one of the kids books is really was phoning it in. The Twelve Days of Christmas (Little Golden Book) was a book that just had the lyrics to the twelve days of Christmas written in it, along with illustrations. But it was in book form and I read it, so it totally counts.
And finally we have The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s long awaited sequel to the Handmaid’s Tale. I have to say that while I found it compelling enough that I didn’t want to put it down, the plot was just way too convenient. I mean, what are the odds that a manuscript of a handmaid is discovered and then a couple of years later, manuscripts from two of the people who brought down Gilead are also discovered who just happen to be the two daughters that the aforementioned handmaid was separated from. Also, Gilead is brought down by a teenager who spent a solid weekend of training and a woman who was raised in Gilead and basically just didn’t like her stepmom. I liked the origin story of Aunt Lydia – it started off with the same situation that Offred faced in the Handmaid’s tale – all the women’s accounts were shut off and they were fired, as it was made illegal for women to own anything or have jobs. But since Aunt Lydia was a judge and she was too old to bear children, she was subjected to some torture and then tested to see if she’d be willing to kill other women to save her own life. It was a believable origin for her character and makes you think about what you would do to save your own life, if put in such an extreme situation.
But it seemed a bit of a stretch that she decided to bring down Gilead and collected documents that showed the crimes of all the leaders (and that people just believed the documents when they were released) and that she served as a source for May Day. And then her manuscript also just happened to have been found and aligned perfectly with the other manuscripts.
And then one more thing that bugged me – and this is so minor really – but in the academic conference proceedings at the end of the book, the conference chair does a land acknowledgement, whereas in the academic conferences proceedings at the end of the Handmaid’s Tale, she does not. Now, I know what in the thirty years between when these two novels were written, land acknowledgements have become common at the start of conferences, but in this books, there’s only two years between them and they are set nearly 200 years from now. And it seems odd to me that in 2019, traditional land acknowledgements are typically done at conferences, but in 2195 they aren’t, and then somehow in 2197 they remember them again? And it’s the same character at both conferences, so it’s not like it just one person does them and another doesn’t. Like I said, it’s a minor thing, but it bugged me.
So there you have it! I read – and blogged about – 20 books in 2019! GoodReads was so kind as to have provided me with this nice image of all the books I read:
And also showed me that the longest book I read was also the most popular book I read, and the shortest book I read was the least popular.
I have watched season 1 of the TV series, but there are some differences between that and the book, so I wanted to make sure that I knew what was specifically from the book. [↩]
I last blogged about the new foods and beverages that I made this year in July. At that time, I’d made 10 out of the 19 items that I set as my goal for this year. Well, I’m pleased to report that it was merely my insufficient blogging this year, and not my lack of cooking new things that I’d never cooked before, that made it looked like I was failing on this goal. I completed the goal of 19 items on August 11 and ended up crushing my goal with a total of 26 new items made this year. Here are the ones that I did after my first two blogpostings on this topic:
I made some mint tea with fresh mint leaves from High Garden (also on July 16, 2019). At the end of the growing season, I dried1 all the remaining leaves and now can use them to make mint tea
My friend Kim, her boyfriend Tad, and I made teriyaki salmon at their place. I made the teriyaki sauce and carried stuff between the kitchen and the patio (where the BBQ was) as both Kim and Tad were too injured (ankle and knee, respectively) to do much walking (July 26, 2019)
I made my first gluten-free baked good: gluten-free zucchini muffins, because someone at my office doesn’t eat gluten and I wanted to make some regular zucchini muffins (one of my go-to muffin recipes), but I didn’t want her to be left out. (July 28, 2019)
After a trip to the Okanagan, I made a bunch of stuff with produce we bought there: peach crisp (Aug 9, 2019), roasted pattypan squash with red onion and zucchini (Aug 10, 2019), spicy plum sauce (Aug 11, 2019) and peach-jalapeño preserves (Aug 11, 2019) and chimichurri sauce (Aug 11, 2019), which we had with Linda and Casey would brought over some super delicious steaks!
So eleventy billion years ago I mentioned that I read So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo and I wanted to write a more thorough blog posting about it than the short paragraphs I’d written about the other books I’d written up to that point in theyear. And then I got swamped with working on eleventy billion courses and didn’t write that posting – or read very many more books, to be honest. But now it’s that time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve where, sure I could be working on those eleventy billion courses, but I’m more inspired to write a bunch of blog postings and try to complete some of my 2019 goals, because I’m a completist. Incidentally, completism is a form of perfectionism and perfectionism a characteristic of white supremacy culture.
But let me back up. As I mentioned previously, you should read this book for yourself because there is no way I can do it justice. Nor would I want to suggest that as a white person who read one book, I really understand issues of race. I’ve lived my whole life as a privileged white person who was completely unaware of my privilege. I’m now trying to learn as much as I can and this book has taught me a lot.
One of the things that I’m learning is that people of colour are constantly being expected to educate white people about what racism is and how it affects them, which is a completely ridiculous expectation. As white people, we benefit from living in a racist society that harms people of colour and then we expect them to spend their time and energy – and re-live harmful experiences – to educate us on how we are harming them. As Oluo says, “White people – talk about race with other white people […] Bring it into your life so that you can dismantle racism in the whites spaces of your life that people of color can’t even reach.” So I’m trying to learn more so that I can do this more.
There’s a chapter on checking your privilege. Privilege, simply put, is having an advantage that other people don’t have. It’s easy to not notice privileges that we have, because they make life easier for us and that’s super easy to dismiss. It’s much easier to notice things that we feel are disadvantaging us. For example, when I went to university, I noticed how many people there came from rich families, whose parents were paying all their expenses and who didn’t have to have jobs while they went to university and who understood how to navigate a post-secondary institution because their family members had all been to them. And I built up this idea of myself as someone who had to work harder to be there and to get through it. What I didn’t see was all the people there who were facing way more obstacles than I was – people of colour who faced discrimination, both at the individual and the systemic level, for example – or the people who face insurmountable obstacles and didn’t get a chance to be there at all. It’s been really eye-opening for me to learn about all the ways that people of colour are oppressed and I’ve had to start to unpack my own identity, with its “I worked so hard for everything” underpinning, and acknowledge the many ways in which my privilege has made things easier for me.
And because I have so many privileges, I should be using them to dismantle privilege. I can get into places that many other people cannot. Again, quoting Oluo, “Does your privilege mean that you are more likely to sit in a manger’s meeting white others are not? Ask why there are no disabled people in the room. Does your privilege mean that politicians are begging for your political support? Ask what they are going to do for people of color next time they knock on your door to hand you a flier.”
Another thing that stood out to me is that white people often act as if their feelings being hurt is a great tragedy – like, if a white person does a racist thing and then gets called a racist, they act like being called a racist is the biggest deal and the whole situation becomes about how hurt they are at being called a racist or them explaining that they feel they shouldn’t have been called a racist – and the harm they caused by doing a racist thing gets ignored. Along a similar line, white people often expect accolades for doing something antiracist, as if this is all about them. As Oluo puts it, “Your efforts to dismantle White Supremacy are expected of decent people who believe in justice. You are not owed gratitude or friendship from people of color for your efforts. We are not thanked for cleaning our own houses.”
Along a similar line was discussion about how if you cause harm, even unintentionally, even without being aware of it, you are still responsible and the person or people you hurt don’t owe you absolution. White people do have a tendency to make things all about themselves. No one owes your forgiveness, so if you cause harm, you might just have to deal with the fact that the person you harmed does not need to forgive you.
Something that Oluo talks about that I hadn’t heard of before is the “model minority myth”. She talks about the “popular stereotype of [Asian Americans as] hard-working, financially successful, quiet, serious people of predominately East Asian (Chinese, Korean, or Japanese) descent” and how this erases so many others: people from other parts of Asia, like “Guam, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and India”. She says, “The model minority myth fetishizes Asian Americans – reducing a broad swath of the world’s population to a simple stereotype.” It is harmful because it erases so many people, and it also separates people of Asian descent from other people of colour who are facing the same racist system and prevent them from “recognizing and organizing around shared experiences of labor exploitation, lack of government representation, cultural appropriation, and much more.”
Oluo also talks about how it’s so important to do more than just talk. Talking won’t change the system. We need to take action. Even if we don’t know everything yet. Even if we might fuck up. We need to learn, but we can’t wait until we’ve learned everything before we act, because then no action will ever happen. Some ways that Oluo suggests we can act include:
vote local – “demand that anybody asking for your vote (from school board to city council to state senator) make racial justice a top issue and vote for diverse government respresentatives
let schools boards, principals, and teachers know that you expect education to be inclusive of all students
bear witness when you see a person of colour being harassed – “sometimes just the watchful presence of another white person will make others stop and consider their actions more carefully”
support businesses owned by people of colour and entertainment created by people of colour
donate to organizations that support communities of colour and fight racial oppression
Like I said before, this blog posting really doesn’t do justice to the book – I’ve only scratched the surface of a few things that I read – you really should read it for yourself.
And for my final day of donating, as I did last year, I’m donating to Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA). VOKRA is the cat rescue organization from which I got my beloved Watson & Crick and I’m happy to be able to support the work they do to take care of kitties and find fur-ever homes for them.
VOKRA has a network of 350 foster homes where kitties live until someone comes along to adopt them. They also have an operations centre for kitties that need more care than can be provided in a foster home. Since they believe that every kitty should have a chance at a happy, healthy life, they spend a fair bit on vet bills, as well as on supplies for cats in foster care and on running the operations centre.