Peanutized

I have been struggling with a few medical issues recently, and my lack of motivation has reached epic levels. Thanks to a new doctor, things will hopefully improve in the next few weeks.

I fully intend to write more - as always, I have 'pinions.

But in the meantime, I Peanutized myself. Enjoy.

Unfortunately there was no "extreme angled curly bob with back of head shaved" hair option, but otherwise this is a pretty accurate representation of me. Especially the clothes. I'm pretty sure I had this exact outfit in college, complete with red Saucony sneakers. 

On attraction

Yesterday I stopped at Sheetz on my way home to get dinner. This is a semi-regular ritual of mine - if my husband will be home late and I have to do dinner alone, I will often stop at Sheetz and buy something greasy and delicious and guilt-inducing (I'm looking at you, fried cheese curds) and sit at home and watch a movie and revel in my short-lived singledom. It makes me happy.

I place my order for so much food that the kind ladies working behind the counter give me multiple forks (sidenote: I can judge just how sad a night will be based on how many forks they give me for my one dinner, for me). I get a milkshake, and I stand and wait for my food to be ready while drinking said milkshake.

That's when I notice him. We'll call him Mr. Black. He's a young man about my age, and he's dressed in all black - black jeans, black t-shirt, black baseball cap. His feet and the bottoms of his legs are covered in some sort of grass/hay - probably a farm hand, which is a common enough sight in my rural-ish area.

Mr. Black obviously notices me, too. He starts meandering in circles around me, then back and forth. I'm bemused. What is going on here? And then he zooms in to deliver his lines, and I realize: Mr. Black is trying to chat me up. He is going to try to hit on me.

Now, I am an unattractive woman. People think I'm trying to fish for compliments when I say this, but I view it as an objective truth. I'm not thin, and I'm not pretty. I don't believe any stranger has ever tried to hit on me in my life. I don't think I've ever been checked out by someone who wasn't a lesbian or a lecherous old man. I'm not hideously deformed, and my husband thinks I'm beautiful, but in general, I am not the stuff that dreams are made of.

But sure enough, Mr. Black gives it the old college try. He starts asking me how I feel about the weather ("It's hot") and then rolls up his sleeve to show me his sunburn (and his muscles). I'm trying not to be rude, but I'm also trying to shut this conversation down, because even if he were the nicest man on the planet and my eternal soulmate, it's hot and I'm sweating in line at a Sheetz where I'm waiting for a small mountain of food to come out so I can go home and stop wearing pants and eat everything in sight until I pass out on my couch in sweet sweet solitude. Even on my best of days, I don't enjoy small talk with strangers.

After a minute, I realize something - I'm holding my milkshake with my right hand and my left hand is in my pocket, meaning my wedding ring is not visible. So I nonchalantly take my left hand from my pocket and gesticulate a little, switching shake-holding hands and continuing to smile as pleasantly as I can muster. Mr. Black, to his credit, spots the wedding ring and quickly leaves.

There are many, many things to unpack here, and I'll spare you a close examination of all of them. But I will leave you with the questions I've been asking myself all night and still this morning:

Who is it that teaches young men that it's okay to approach any lady in any public place and try to chat her up and expect her to be nice and docile and responsive and flattered? There are many, many reasons I don't want to talk to you when I'm out running errands. Yes, I'm sure you're charming. No, I still don't care.

Why is it okay to try your pickup lines on any lady, except when you finally notice her wedding ring? (You won't respect my own decision to not talk to you, but if I'm "another man's property" then you'll finally back off?)

Why did I feel the need to be nice to this stranger? What is it about my experience living as a woman in modern society made me refrain from walking away like I wanted to? Was I afraid of angering him? Being seen as rude? Some sort of violent retaliation? Was I supposed to smile and feel flattered?

This experience was most troubling because it happens to me so rarely. I can't imagine how unbearable and constant this unwanted attention would be if I were thin/pretty, and that alone speaks volumes about the problems our society has with its treatment of women. I'm also a bit socially awkward on my best of days, so talking to strangers is a dreaded task no matter how pleasant the interaction. And, I'm genderqueer - so while I'm fine being identified as a woman and living my life as a woman and having all the experiences that go with being born a biological woman, in my head I don't really see myself as a hallmark of feminity, and I find it super odd and super disconcerting when strangers treat me as feminine based on their assumptions about my physical appearance.

So, so strange. This life is so strange and ugly and beautiful and strange.

Pie

I like to bake. I bake a lot of different kinds of things - muffins, cakes, cupcakes, scones, cookies, brownies, whatever.

But one thing I've never done is make a pie.

I've made pseudo-pies - you know, frozen pre-baked pie crust (already in a little pie tin!), canned fruit filling, in the oven with minimal effort.

I've made pake - a pie/cake mutant dessert that I learned from a friend in college. To this day, when college friends talk to me, pake usually comes up in the conversation somewhere. Everybody loved pake. It involved a frozen pie crust, some canned pie filling, a bunch of store-bought cake mix on top, and then gobs and gobs of butter. So much butter. So much butter that we actually filled an entire dorm with smoke from burning butter. I do not recommend.

So earlier this week I baked my first pie from scratch. We are doing a CSA (farm share) for the first time this year, and as a result, we get a lot of fruit. Lots and lots of fruit. Because I am diabetic, I don't buy much fruit - I prefer to get my carbs from other sources, like ice cream, or mountains of french fries. But I have so many blueberries that I don't know what to do, and the A Beautiful Mess blog had this great recipe for Zesty Blueberry Pie.

I modified the recipe a bit - I have no idea how many blueberries actually constitutes 3 pints, so I just threw a bunch of blueberries in there and then scaled back the rest of the filling accordingly. And I added those cute misshapen heart cut-outs on the top.

This pie came out VERY liquid-y (which I love) and VERY lemon-y (which I also love). The super lemon taste probably had to do with me not measuring anything for the filling.

But look, ma, I made a pie!

I hope your days are filled with pie. But you'll have to make your own. I'm not very good at sharing.

A man, a cat, a dog

I've been thinking for a while about writing a library related post, and there are a few false starts among the many posts I have in progress. But then I read a post on Book Riot today and decided that, really, you should just go read that: Leave No Trace: Why Readers Should Not Troll Library Books, by Michelle Anne Schingler.

So I'm going to let that link be your meaty, substantive post for the week, and I'm going to give you some pictures instead.

 ALL THE BROWN SHOES

ALL THE BROWN SHOES

This is what my husband looks like. No, seriously. Picture a man who wears almost nothing but various shades of brown. Every now and then he'll throw in a nature-y green (think olive green, or hunter green). So picture a man dressed like a tree. That's who I married.

This is a small media center, and on top of it used to be most of my office supplies. The cat clearly had other plans. She usually gets her way. She's a cat.

 It's exhausting to look at everyone with such big, sad eyes all the time.

It's exhausting to look at everyone with such big, sad eyes all the time.

 See? I need a nap.

See? I need a nap.

Dog. Gratuitous pictures of dog. Because dog.

Seattle, Days 4 and 5

Since Days 4 and 5 were both spent mainly at museums again, I'm condensing them. I'm well aware you do not want to see the 200+ photos I took of various museum exhibits that I personally found inspiring or interesting or otherwise photo-worthy. So I picked one from each museum as an example, and I'll let your imagination do the rest.

This is from the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Unfortunately, when I visited, they were between exhibits, and literally 2/3 of the museum was closed to the public. I did get to see this exhibit, however, even though they were still working on it - Artist's Books, Chapter Five: Women, Now and Then. This. was. so. great. Dozens of art books, each created by women, many of them fantastic and subversive declarations on women's rights and feminism and what it means to have a vagina in modern society. This particular piece is titled "Sheitel (Wig)" by artist Diane Jacobs. Curled strips of paper with derogatory names for women printed on them form a sheitel, or wig, protecting the wearer from having these names enter her consciousness. There were actually a few books with similar concepts - one a sun hat made of similar strips of paper and with a similar protective purpose, and one bikini made of strips of paper printed with the words "slut" and "whore" and so on, an attempt to retake those words and strip them of their meaning. There were other books that contemplated childbirth experiences past and present, religion and the feminine, and recent Supreme Court rulings that strip women of basic rights (*cough*HobbyLobby*cough*). I was disappointed that so much of the museum was closed, as I had made a special trip back to Bainbridge Island just to see it, but I was so glad I got to see these works by these outstanding women.

On Day 5 I decided to brave the King County Metro System and trek out to the Asian Art Museum (run by the Seattle Art Museum, but waaaaaaaaaaaay out in Volunteer Park). I love Asian Art, and amidst exhibits on calligraphy through the ages and the standard historical fare, there was an excellent exhibit of works by Chiho Aoshima. There was an animation that was truly stunning, and a ton of smaller works, most created digitally but some done in more traditional media. One of the coolest things was that the wallpaper in one of the exhibit rooms was itself a digital creation by the artist:

Chiho Aoshima is a kickass Japanese artist and I want to be her best friend. You can read more about her at the Asian Art Museum's website.

The final museum of the trip was the Frye Art Museum, another short bus ride and a couple blocks' walk. The picture above is the only one in this blog series that I didn't take myself - I can't find the pictures I took at this museum, so this one is taken from their website. It's a representative work from their special exhibit by Leo Saul Berk, about a distinctive house he grew up in that was designed and built by architect Bruce Goff. Each piece was a meditation on space and how we interact with it, how the physical boundaries we form and reside in can shape our lives and our thoughts and our imaginations.

Then it was time to stop living in art and go home. I wish I had some grand conclusion to this whole trip, but really I just wanted to share some pictures and some thoughts and take the time to reflect a bit. I had a great time, I saw many hipsters, and I'd love to go back. If you ever get the chance to visit, I highly recommend it.

Seattle, Day 3

Days 3, 4, and 5 of our Seattle trip mostly involved me wandering around Seattle alone while my husband attended a conference. I am not an adventurous sort, and me and the outside don't really mix too well. So what do I do when I go on vacation? I go to museums and libraries. And I love every minute of it.

I started off Day 3 with a self-guided tour of the Central Library branch of the Seattle Public Library, conveniently located directly across the street from our hotel.

Despite its sort of scary, industrial looking outside, the inside is actually very spacious (there are 10 floors!) and very inviting. You'll have to take my word for it, because I didn't take any pictures - my cell phone automatically makes a shutter noise and there's no option to turn it off, and, well, I didn't want to keep making all that noise inside of a library. The coolest part of the library, however, was the flooring on the ground level, in the foreign language materials section:

That's right, kids - the designer used a router to carve text into each and every floorboard. I'm told the text is first lines from stories in 11 different languages, with the type reversed. It feels a little bit like walking on top of history, of culture, of knowledge. It grounds the space in a unique way that I happened to love.

Now that I had checked out the library and decided that in the event of an apocalypse, this would be my new home, I headed downtown to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). I spent four hours wandering this museum even though they were between special exhibits and about 1/4-1/3 of the space was closed. I found many, many inspiring things there - an exhibit on Chihuly glass, a newly acquired piece by Ai Weiwei, the Porcelain Room, and a series of works portraying art and life along the Northwest Coast, among other things. But I will leave you with the following picture, which is the first sight you see upon entering the museum building:

It's a piece titled "Inopportune: Stage One" by Cai Guo-Qiang. He is a contemporary Chinese artist who often creates works that are emotionally and politically charged. The violence and discomfort in this piece, which symbolizes a series of car explosions, was quite moving. Good job, Seattle.

Tomorrow: Days 4 and 5, the end of vacation.

Seattle, Day 2

Day 2 in Seattle was spent doing all of the typical tourist things in Seattle.

We rode the monorail to the Space Needle, went up to the observation deck, and took many pictures of buildings and trees and water and other things from really high up. The best photo I took by far is the top of a building where someone painted a giant spider, complete with shadows to make it look entirely real and three-dimensional (shadow of the Space Needle is an added bonus that was completely unintended but makes me feel like A Real Photographer):

 Seattle, you are so clever.

Seattle, you are so clever.

Then it was off to Pike Place Market to see people NOT throw fish (apparently this is a myth?). Lunch was conveyor belt sushi with some friends of mine who live in Seattle now. We then went to Gas Works Park, where we saw some LARPers in full armor having refereed fights right next to a girls' rowing crew doing some teambuilding exercises. It was an odd juxtaposition that I can only guess is an excellent representation of what living in Seattle is truly like.

 I wish my cell phone camera had a zoom feature. It doesn't. I'm sorry.

I wish my cell phone camera had a zoom feature. It doesn't. I'm sorry.

Dinner was at the charming Elephant & Castle, which is a chain I had never been to before. The beer selection was great and the fried food delicious, and really that's all I care about.

Tomorrow, Day 3.

Seattle, Day 1

Now that I have finally caught up (sort of) on life, I can begin telling you about my recent trip to Seattle. I'll try to do it day by day.

We actually arrived in Seattle on Day 0, but that entire day was spent going to work, driving to the airport, flying to Seattle, and figuring out how to get from the airport to our downtown hotel, so there isn't much to say. I did have a new experience at the hotel - upon check in, we got our room assignment and our keys, we trekked upstairs, we opened our room door with our keys and... someone was already in our room. To be more exact, I couldn't open the door all the way because the inside security chain was latched, and a deep voice confusedly called, "Hello??" before I stammered, "I'm so sorry," shut the door, and ran away. We got upgraded to a suite for free thanks to this mix-up. Since the only downside to the hotel is that the rooms are tiny, having a (larger) suite meant that there were now no downsides to the hotel. This got things off to a great start.

Actual Day 1 was spent primarily on Bainbridge Island. Since we were staying in a hotel that was right in downtown Seattle and had not rented a car, we figured out it was a short walk down to the ferry terminal and then a lovely 35-minute boat ride to Bainbridge Island. (Thank you, Google Maps. In related news, I have finally decided that I need a smartphone.)

 Approaching the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal. Look at those trees! Look at that water! I could live here. Once I learn how to swim. And commune with nature.

Approaching the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal. Look at those trees! Look at that water! I could live here. Once I learn how to swim. And commune with nature.

My motion sickness meds worked wonders and we arrived without incident. We visited Churchmouse Yarns and Teas on a Saturday that just so happened to be World Wide Knit in Public Day, which meant the place was hopping and we got free beverages and shortbread samples. Vacation still off to a great start. This is the perfect store for my husband and me - I have no interest in tea (but he does) and he has no interest in yarn (but of course I do) and so we could each peruse while the other was similarly occupied. It. was. great. I quickly discovered that they would ship my purchases home for me at a low flat rate, and now I'm broke. It happens.

There are some lovely things to do on Bainbridge Island that really require a car, so after a decadent brunch and some traipsing around various other shops, we called it quits and headed back to Seattle.

 Seattle skyline photo. This one's a bit far away...

Seattle skyline photo. This one's a bit far away...

 ...so here's a closer photo with a giant cruise ship in the way.

...so here's a closer photo with a giant cruise ship in the way.

After lunch at a little out-of-the-way Thai place that looked like it might give us food poisoning (but didn't, and it was delicious, so who cares), we decided to go on Bill Speidel's Underground Tour. We had been told by some local friends of ours that this was the best tour to go on because it was entertaining AND educational. It was... decidely okay. It started off promising, with the tour guides producing the sort of witty banter and puns that I so dearly love. But then our large tour group got divided into three smaller tour groups, each with a different tour guide. And our guide was a dud. He wasn't funny. He had clearly been using the same jokes for the last 20 years, and they fell flat as a pancake, over and over. I felt kind of bad for the guy. So wandering the forgotten, buried, underground streets of old Seattle was definitely a cool experience. Doing it while listening to bad jokes was... meh. This was the low point of the trip, but as low points go, it wasn't all that low, so I'll take it.

After that was dinner at the Elysian Bar so we could try all of their lovely beers, and we weren't disappointed there. How could I forget that Seattle is so close to Canada?! Much poutine was consumed. Much drinking was done. Much stumbling back to the hotel at the end of the night. Much sleep.

Stay tuned for Day 2.

Sunny Seattle

I was on vacation all last week in Seattle. I had a wonderful time and I plan to tell you all about it. But it is taking longer than I thought it would to get back in the swing of things, catch up on all the work I missed, and still find time to get the 200+ pictures off of my ancient non-smartphone and onto my even more ancient non-smart laptop.

In the meantime, here is a picture of my knitting riding a ferry:

That's clue 1 of the Shetland Trader Mystery KAL, riding the ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island (home of Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, which was amazing!).

More later. Stay tuned.