Tea, work, and human adults are actually prepubescent apes

It might be a little strange to continue this blog after such a long time has passed. I now have a Master’s degree and I’ve been working on salary for more than a year and a half. Moderate-income, etc. Living with my girlfriend of 3 years, and pretty much settled down. Work is changing rapidly. More on this soon, probably.

I have abandoned my passion for Magic: the Gathering, which I sometimes miss a lot, but most of the time I’m relieved. I just need a lot more time to spend on Magic than I have to spend on literally anything, so that was the first to go.

New passions include tea and podcasts, which I listen to on my bike ride to work. Podcasts first: This American Life, of course, and Reply All are my highlights.

Tea is a much bigger subject. Latest teas are lemon verbena from the leaves, and this amazing dragonwell tea that my girlfriend’s boss keeps bringing her from China. She doesn’t drink tea so it’s all me. I make kombucha out of white peony and do a secondary fermentation with whole chai spices, and that tends to work out nicely (the ginger gives it a little punch, which I like in the evenings). Excited to start cold-steeping teas, although it’s solidly winter now and I suppose most of the convenience is gone. However, my big-ish tea pot was brutally killed by a falling bottle on our kitchen cart, which made it a lot harder to steep large quantities of tea quickly, so I suppose I must bow to convenience at this point.

I’m a little obsessed with the idea that humans are domesticated animals, which makes 100% sense but isn’t something I had really thought about before. See io9 and Radiolab’s show. The creepy part of the whole thing is that domesticated animals have distinct changed features that tend toward essentially juvenile traits – and humans actually have continued to tend toward that too! What will we look like in another 1000 years? Luckily, we will actually have very accurate photos and 3-D simulated bodies to compare ourselves to. I’m pretty thrilled about it. I am happy to be domesticated. I hope that domestication continues to be successful! The more domesticated we become, the more peaceful. World peace might not be achievable today, but we are slowly evolving ourselves into a species that might actually be able to do it.

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Some crazy shit here

So I’m going to cheat a little bit and just drop a bunch of links.

But first, the IRS has given me my tax return and now I’m up $1,000 bucks. which is pretty nice. It’s fake money that I was planning on having from the beginning, and I’m still stuck on $60 a week (the good news is, maybe I’ll get to stop paying per week for this stupid Magic: the Gathering hobby that I am totally obsessed with. In other news, I’m winning at Magic, and I’m therefore a badass). Also, I feel better about buying that Chromebook (for some reason I was scared shitless of the IRS taking all my money despite the fact that I’m a broke-ass homeless dyke).

Economic news that I’d love to share, from a former professor whom I adore: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2012/02/hooray-first-genuinely-good-employment-report-of-the-recovery.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BradDelongsSemi-dailyJournal+%28Brad+DeLong%27s+Semi-Daily+Journal%29&utm_content=Google+Reader
“All the same, behind Savage’s pragmatism stand some fairly strong claims about how sex relates to selfhood. Whatever else he ends up advising a correspondent to do, Savage tends to insist that sexual inclinations—from high libido and a desire for multiple partners to very rare kinks and fetishes—are immutable and even dominant characteristics of any personality. Some desires may be impossible to fulfill, others are flagrantly immoral, and most any can be destructive when pursued without regard for the kinds of ethical guidelines Savage lays out. But for Savage, no matter how we direct its expression, our sexual self is our truest self.”

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2011/1103.dueholm.html

First I’d like to defend Savage by simply saying that sure, sexual desire and sexual inclination are definitely not immutable. But here’s the deal: nobody ELSE should be telling you what to like, or what you want. It’s the same with self-identity: I always respect what somebody identifies as, regardless of what my opinion would be otherwise. Nobody else is going to tell you what you want. So sure, Savage treats sexuality as immutable, and it isn’t. But the thing is, nobody but yourself has the right to tell you what to do – and he’s an advice columnist. Period. End story.

Now for my personal reaction: So this is really interesting to me, partially because it comes from a Protestant minister and partially because I often wonder this about myself. Coming from a Catholic background (I went to Catholic school for 10 years, and by extension therefore I feel Catholic guilt despite the fact that I do not identify as Catholic), it’s really easy to tell yourself that sexual desire and fantasy is wrong. I’ve never really rebelled against the Catholicism, so it’s built into a  kind of monstrous wall of foreboding in my consciousness, never really saying “No” outright, but making it all feel somehow forbidden. Not to mention the queer aspect. But I’d say the best way to imagine me as a sexual person is by transposing the image of a pubescent boy, possibly with a fetish for well-articulated feminine attributes. And that’s how I feel comfortable imagining myself, too – if I remember I’m a girl, it all becomes so forbidden that it’s completely incomprehensible, so I avoid that.

“You can have strict monogamy or you can have a low libido, ladies, but you can’t have both,” he [Savage] wrote. [excerpted from the same article]

And to round it all off, a random spreadsheet with information about RPGs available online. There’s not a single person in the world who could possibly be interested in all the things I’ve posted in this post. Oh well, sorry guys, here it is:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Apt6Jq5m137TdGhkekJ4YTMtcU04X2dzcWRuUUJxMHc#gid=0

Solitary exploration

So I’m living with my aunt, her husband, and her little son here. I have a lot more time alone than I’m used to – maybe it’s because I’m going to sleep without the sound of someone else breathing next to me, which is always disorienting to me, since I’ve always slept in the same room as my sister or a roommate. I’d chose to have a roommate over having a room alone any day.

But I’m incredibly friendless here… suddenly the majority of people I’d like to be talking to are on the other side of a phone line, and that’s disorienting.

So to deal with this new aloneness, I have started picking up books. I’ve read Jeffrey Sachs’ Common Wealth (nothing I hadn’t heard before), Hunger Games (a great book but you don’t think about it for more than a day), It Chooses You by some lady called Miranda July, who is for some reason associated with queerness or something (this one was hard to read but gave you this feeling of worldly wisdom at the end of it which I find difficult to account for), and I’m finally working on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (yes, I’m embarrassed that I haven’t read it yet), with A World Lit Only By Fire and Alice in Wonderland on the sideburners. Plus I’ve seen about four times the amount of TV that I saw in the last year, over these last three weeks.

Last night I watched two documentaries on Netflix (okay,I started another one too, about water and water bottles and multinationals, but I decided that it could be easily and completely summarized in a paragraph so I stopped watching it). The last I watched was The Black Power Mixtape1967-1975, which I feel nervous about commenting on in that “white person commenting on black people” kind of way. It was extremely interesting, but I wouldn’t highly recommend it because it was a lot of rhetoric and not enough informational facts for me, which could be expected from a kinda sociological film about history, of course. I guess that time period was a transition from kind of black power MLK Black Panther stuff to huge problems with drugs and trafficking and stuff, and of course the CIA was blamed specifically for introducing drugs like coke and heroin. I don’t know anything about it, but it certainly benefited the system a lot.

The first I watched was called Dark Days, and that one I would definitely recommend. I envision it projected on a big screen at some kind of mixer party, everyone’s wearing black and white because the movie’s in black and white, but all the drinks are neon green, blue, red, with little cherries poking out of martini glasses and soft conversation on velvet sofas. The bourgeoisie looking down, but really looking up on the big screen, upon the lives of the poorest, the homeless in the richest city in the world, living in the unused subway tunnels. It doesn’t command your attention at every moment, but provides a focus of conversation, a vaguely captivating background, moving wallpaper.

Shitty damn I can’t wait to get that Chromebook…

Welcome to Portland

I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the show Portlandia, about all the odd things Portland people do, have, and are. I just moved here two weeks ago, and I’m already starting to feel like the world is shaped differently. It also helps that I’m unemployed and drifting, living in my generous aunt’s basement.

But the first thing I want to talk about isn’t about Portland people in particular. It’s about nail parlors.

I’ve never understood why people pay other people to paint their nails, but sitting there, an outsider peering in to an oddball world usually only inhabited by those who pay, and those who are paid, I realized why women do it. It was an old lady whose lower legs, purpled by varicose veins, were being massaged that made me realize it. She said, “It’s been so long since I’ve been pampered.”

It was a ray of revelation. Women pay to be touched with careful hands. Wowza. I immediately began wondering if there was somewhere men could pay people to touch them with careful hands, and wondered if it was only prostitution. Hmmm. Why don’t men go to nail parlors to have other men touch them?