lately (05.31.20)

This post contains affiliate links, because I like money, but I s2g I wrote this post before adding the affiliate links and the monetization does not affect my opinions.

Hello! If you support the Black Lives Matter movement but haven’t taken any action other than, like, liking or retweeting some posts (or staying silent and slowly feeling guilt creep over you) have you considered!!!

  • signing some petitions! (this is as close to a ZERO COMMITMENT action as you can get! enticing, eh??? alleviate some of your privileged guilt. sign some petitions.)
  • donating some money! (i mean obviously take care of yourself first but MONEY TALKS!!! it’s also a great way to reduce some of that guilt!!! i assure you that the protestor bail funds do not care if you donate out of guilt!!!)
  • talking to your family! (there’s a good chance you already have likeminded friends, but if you’re on decent terms with your family members and they still think these protests are an overreaction or that the police system isn’t inherently racist, try talking to them!! u gotta go slow cuz well honestly as good as it feels to just rage, you’re probably not gonna persuade anyone like that. go slow. do the work. it’s your responsibility as a white or non-Black poc right now and always(!) to do this work in your own communities.)
  • doing some educational reading or viewing!
  • [EDIT: If you’d like to help financially but don’t have the means, some YouTube creators have put out videos specifically to generate ad revenue that will be donated to various support organizations. I shared them with my younger cousin thinking she might be interested since it’s not like she has much money to contribute or permission (or transportation) to attend a protest, and she was really excited to have something she personally could do to help, even in a small way. Maybe you’ve got a teen in your life who’s feeling helpless and frustrated, too. I’m linking to tweets about the videos because they include streaming instructions (like disabling any adblockers, etc.) to make sure your views will count for ad revenue: one & two & thread]
  • [EDIT: donate via app downloads & donate via Sephora points]

(Please note that several of the organizations in the links are not specific to reducing police brutality or dismantling the police system, but they are all parts of the effort to dismantle institutional and systemic white supremacy, of which policing is a deeply entrenched and violent part.)

Many others have put together lists of actions you can take and resources you can consult, so go find ’em. You’ve got Google, and I’m not an expert. You don’t have to be either. But please. Do something. DO SOMETHING.

I know people worry about the balance between performative social media and actual action, but don’t stay fucking silent. It’s not purely performative if you back up your voice with AN ACTION. ANY ACTION. TAKE ONE FUCKING ACTION.

In the words of Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,

“When we become Americans, we accept not only citizenship’s privileges that we did not earn but also its responsibilities to correct wrongs that we did not commit.”

Let’s try to make things right.



SWITCHING GEARS COMPLETELY, since my last update, I…

…watched Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. It was very 90s. (You can tell by how booby all the women are.) I was not at all a fan of the transphobic jokes, but Sean Young is hot and Jim Carrey is very good at physical comedy.

…finished reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, and GOD!! PLEASE read this book. I love Miryem and her parents and Wanda and her brothers and Irina and Magreta and just EVERYONE. SO MUCH. I LOVE THIS BOOK. It’s dark and feminist and poetic and just GORGEOUS.

…read The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. This was very good, though I’m not sure a 260k word book is for everyone. While I didn’t grow particularly attached to any characters, I loooved the world-building. I think for me, the most interesting aspects of this book were how it explored the idea of a major historical event giving rise to multiple conflicting religions, and how it included the questioning (and unraveling) of one’s faith. (Also, this book features a couple of WLW main characters, but honestly the romance did nothing for me. Don’t read this for romance. Read it for everything else.)

…read the latest chapter of “Since First I Saw Your Face”, a WIP Holmes/Watson fic. To be fair, this fic is longer than The Priory of the Orange Tree and it’s not even done yet, but uuuggghhhh it’s so good.

…read “₩4,500” by minijhi (the author of “Baekhyun on the Cliff by the Sea”, a cute, sleepy XiuChen fic based on Ponyo, where Baekhyun is a small talking squid who loves human food). “₩4,500” is a university & mutant AU ChenBaekXi fic where Minseok is a university student working the night shift at a convenience store that Baekhyun and Jongdae keep coming back to rob. The overall vibe of this story is similar to “Baekhyun on the Cliff by the Sea” – sweet and cozy in a deeply contented way, with an aching undercurrent of melancholy that breaks the surface but is ultimately addressed and allowed to become the past. It’s really lovely. Also, if you’re as much of a sucker for mutant/LGBTQ metaphors as I am, let me just say this fic had me in actual tears at like 3AM. 😖

…somehow reallllly messed up my sleep schedule and spent a week waking up between 4:30 – 6:30 AM and staying awake for an hour and a half (about one sleep cycle) before falling back asleep until almost noon. I’m back to more normal sleeping patterns now, but that week wreaked havoc on my skin. :/

…helped a friend with editing their Ron-centric Harry Potter fic and helped another friend with editing their med school application essay. Just covering all my bases, y’know?

…tried to flambé bananas using this vague video recipe. The results were a little disappointing, but it was cool to light stuff on fire!

I’m pretty sure 1) our bananas were too ripe to start with and 2) our rum wasn’t high enough proof. Next time I’d start with almost-green bananas (ours were a normal ripeness, and the cooked results were unappetizingly mushy), and I’d probably use alcohol with a higher proof than Captain Morgan (like Bacardi 151) because I suspect not enough of the alcohol burned off. We used Captain Morgan because it was the only bottle we had open, but it didn’t burn for very long and the results tasted so strongly of rum it was like eating a cocktail.

Actually, I think next time I’d rather use a recipe with actual measurements, like this one which uses sugar and lime juice, but I really give credit to the video for making this dish feel so approachable in the first place.

…tried this recipe for white bean and quinoa “risotto” with roast broccoli, really liked it. It probably would’ve been better if I’d actually used a blender to make the beans creamy instead of using a spoon to mash them into a… uh… “rustic” pulp, but it was tasty anyway. The risotto itself is very filling, and the roast broccoli pairs really well with it. And thanks to the beans and quinoa, this is a super high protein vegetarian dish!

…tried Beyond Burgers for the first time. They were delicious. We’ve had Impossible Burgers at restaurants before, but this was our first time using plant-based meat at home. I feel like Impossible Burger patties tend to be on the thinner side and have a slightly drier texture, whereas the Beyond Burger patties were… thick and juicy. 👁👄👁

…made enchiladas with vegan cheese. My partner’s made white people enchiladas (like with olives) plenty of times before, but he hasn’t really made them since we got together because of my lactose intolerance. Luckily, vegan cheese is pretty easy to find these days, so we were able to make a huge batch of dairy-free chicken enchiladas. They were delicious.

white bean quinoa vegan risotto with roast broccoli - chicken enchiladas with vegan dairy free cheese and guacamole - beyond burger plant based vegetarian patty

The “risotto,” Beyond Burgers, and enchiladas. (Does this count as r/shittyfoodporn? The food wasn’t shitty, but the porn sure is.)

I think this might be the only set of photos I have for this post. RIP.

…tried this chocolate chip banana bread recipe, modified for muffins. They were delicious, but I think next time I’d cut down the suggested 1 cup of chocolate chips to 3/4 or even 1/2 cup.

…finished watching seasons 1 and 2 of Kingdom. GODDDDD WHAT A GOOD FUCKING SHOW. (Also the prince is hot. Integrity is sexy.)

…made these bacon cheddar chive scones. Or rather, my partner did. They turned out SO good and I was very proud of him (not because he never cooks, but because he never bakes, so this was a whole new world for him), but I think next time we’ll throw in more chives and cut some of the bacon; the ratio wasn’t quite right for our tastes.

…watched the NCT 127 “Beyond the Origin” Beyond Live concert. As with the SuperM and WayV concerts, I livetweeted a thread of my NCT 127 reactions, but I’ve picked out the most important bits here:

  • Taeyong as leader… is hot.
  • actual anime character Yuta??
  • Jaehyun is STUPID handsome. It feels like his face shouldn’t be allowed.
  • Taeyong’s soft pink hair + eyebrows tinted to match + shimmery eyeshadow in the same shade of pink… what a VISION
  • Johnny spooning Mark in the intro to “Boom”… why
  • “taeil’s voice is a spoon that’s been run under very hot water and i am a pint of haagen dazs”
  • DJ Johnny… the corniness… the dad energy… that’s hot baby
  • The “Punch” performance was SO MUCH. It was TOO MUCH. There were yelling parts and heavy breathing/huffing parts and realllly soft singing parts and an electric guitar riff and EDM??? My brain feels like it’s been obliterated into pure white noise.
  • Mark saying “yes baby”… twice… why
  • Taeyong… wearing… a multi-row collar length pearl necklace… why
  • LIGHT OF MY LIFE!!! “Touch” is truly pure serotonin. Doyoung’s 8 billion watt smile… the multicolor/rainbow background… the giant AR “BABY TOUCH ME” floating around…
  • my god the stage for “kick it” was CRAZY. the AR temple, the GIANT GOLDEN AR DRAGON flying around in the air?! it was almost TOO flashy and i ended up paying less attention to the choreo than usual

Overall, this being my 3rd Beyond Live concert, I have to say SM’s come a long way since that first slightly awkward SuperM show just over a month ago. They refined the camerawork to help minimize the “this is being performed in an empty venue” feeling, and they changed up the structure of the concerts to minimize awkwardly long fan interactions and quickly handle unexpected technical difficulties, to make the viewing experience more seamless. I was really pleased with how polished the NCT 127 concert turned out!

It’s too bad that SHINee and EXO won’t be having Beyond Live concerts given that so many of them are enlisted, but I hope SM might plan a Red Velvet one, or a subunit concert with Seulrene, or maybe EXO-SC. I’d imagine a solo concert would be really hard for an artist to sustain in an empty venue (though I’d LOVE a 2-hour Baekhyun, Taemin, or Chen solo show), so maybe they could do an SM Town sort of thing with multiple artists… I dunno, but I’ve been enjoying the concert livestreams, and I could totally see this being something they continue doing even after this pandemic passes, to give international fans more opportunities to see their favorite artists. I guess it might reduce concert DVD sales, but I’d imagine that the broader audience reach would make up for that.

…listened to and was so, so impressed by Agust D’s D-2. (If you don’t already know, Agust D is BTS Suga’s stage name for his solo works.) If you only listen to one song, I’d recommend “대취타 (Daechwita)”, because Yoongi’s rapping is really damn good and the music video is INSANE.

(Or “People”, because it sounds nice.)

(An aside: “What do you think?” is very good, but the original version samples a sermon from Jim Jones of Jonestown, so if you don’t want to listen to it on the grounds of not wanting to hear the voice of a cult leader and murderer, that’s totally valid, especially because the company released an apology stating that the sample was used for atmospheric purposes, not for reasons of cultural criticism. The reposted version has the sample removed.)

As for the other songs, if I included every lyric I liked, this post would be waaay too long, so I’ll just leave this limited selection here. (All translations are from Genius.)

From “Moonlight”:

Three years have passed
Agust D
Honestly, I don’t know how many songs to put in
Fuck, I’m just doing it

My biggest enemy is the anger inside me
The more dreadful is the battle with the laziness inside me
Sometimes I resent God, asking why he made me live a life like this
What I’m doing, and if I love music at all

Although it’s been more than 10 years since I started in Namsandong
It’s the same that my head is a mess, fuck that

If you think you’re gonna crash, accelerate even harder, you idiot

From “Strange”:

No matter how much money is in your grasp
Everyone’s a slave to this system
The dog necklace and dog house you are so busy bragging about
All day, fighting over whose glimmer more

From “Burn It”:

Let’s burn it, my past self
It would burn again to the deepest pits below, to the very last
Set fire to it, more fire to it, wonder what will remain thereafter

No matter what, yeah, set fire to it, you bastard
The past you, the present you
Anything is fine, so, set fire to it, you bastard

I hope you don’t forget that giving up decisively also counts as courage

From “Honsool”:

After a shower
I detoxify with alcohol
The full stop to this day, which I barely remember, might just be alcohol
I somehow got through my exhausting daily routine, uh
Skull-crushing schedules, hm, are three to four in a week, uh
I’d eat just enough and sleep, well, though I’m unable to sleep
I’ll worry about tomorrow’s things tomorrow, fuck I don’t care

As I slowly get intoxicated, let’s try to be honest about my life

…discovered – WHAT a vibe. 😎

…discovered the Global Table Adventure food blog, where an Oklahoman woman documented her journey as she cooked a meal from every country in the world. It’s really interesting to me because you can see through the commenters that sometimes she got things wrong (like using ingredients atypical of that country), but it is so apparent (to me anyway) that she approached every dish from a place of love and willingness to learn. Her humbleness about the food and drinks she’s making is very refreshing, especially when compared to, like, the many major food bloggers who present themselves as experts on every single cuisine imaginable. (See: Alison fucking Roman. See also: every vegan food blogger who posts quinoa recipes without acknowledging that the origin of quinoa dishes is Peru. I’m uncomfortable with people labeling fusion food or recipe-tweaking as cultural appropriation (I think it’s super unproductive), but is it truly cultural appreciation if you don’t give some fucking credit? How can it be cultural appreciation if you don’t even mention the cultural origins of the food?!)

Anyway, it legit brought a tear to my eye to see a food blogger approach Cherokee and Uzbek and Zambian and Palestinian food with the same amount of respect and excitement you’d normally expect for French or Italian food. I’m excited to try a few of her recipes.

…finally finished up that Library of Flowers Willow & Water Parfum Crema. Begone, horrible fragrance!!! (I kind of hoped, after listening to the Articles of Interest episode on fragrances (feat. the glamorous Rachel Syme!) that I’d eventually grow to like it, at least a little, but no. It’s overpoweringly “green” and sort of powdery(?) in a way I find deeply unpleasant. Sure, it does make me think of a little pond smothered in greenery, but instead of a pond-side stroll on a warm afternoon, it’s more reminiscent of falling in the water and snorting pond scum up your nose.)

…listened to Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedicated Side B and decided that “Window” is my favorite track. I also love the text painting in “Heartbeat”! (Shoutout to Switched On Pop for introducing me to the term.)

…cut my partner’s hair. I think I did a decent job (it now looks like he last got a haircut 4 weeks ago instead of 10 weeks ago), but I think I could’ve managed a proper fade if I weren’t so afraid of messing up. Maybe next time!

…ordered a bunch of perfume samples after being inspired by that Articles of Interest perfume episode.

From Le Labo, I ordered these:

I’m excited to try all of them, but especially Jasmin 17. (Actually, I just found out one of my cousins wears Jasmin 17, but luckily she doesn’t care if I end up liking and wearing it too.)

From LuckyScent, I ordered these:

I think I’m most excited to try Dusita’s Erawan (“the scent of late summer tipping into fall,” “the smell of the harvest,” “wears like a ray of sunshine on your face”), Frapin’s 1270 (“The flowers of… a grape nearly extinct from the region… the vineyard grass, the wine warehouse, the rich smell of damp earth in the cellars, the wood of new casks, the loamy smell of humus where the ancestral cognacs are stored”), L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Dzongkha (“the smell of the stones and incense of the Buddhist temples (the Dzongks), with notes of tanned leather, smoked tea and the evocation of fire places”), and Parfum Satori’s Hyouge (“not just a tea scent, nor even just a green tea scent – it’s a matcha scent, rich yet subtle, powdery yet bright, with an evocatively complex interplay of softly bitter and sweet notes”).

(I’m also both excited and wary to try Papillon Artisan Perfumes’ Anubis, which supposedly “embodies the sacred mysteries of Ancient Egypt.” The perfumer describes “the initial materials used” as “synonymous with mummification”…)

…listened to NCT 127’s “Punch” and got SO confused because I couldn’t remember ANY of the song even after listening to it several times in a row, but this Twitter thread explains how it’s like “Bohemian Rhapsody” in that the song structure is completely linear, with no repeated sections like you’d expect from most music, which makes it harder for it to stick in your brain. I find it fascinating.

…listened to Baekhyun’s 2nd mini album, Delight, which I LOOOVE. Here’s the music video for his lead single, “Candy”:

I DIIIE for @1:44 and @2:49.

But my favorite song is definitely “Ghost”, which has that “early 20s, getting a little too drunk a little too early in the evening” feeling I always seem to gravitate toward in music. I’m also really fond of “Poppin'” (SEROTONIN!!) and “Love Again” (I think this is the most “city pop” song on the album), but every track is really good, and Baekhyun’s vocals are gorgeous.

…listened to Lay’s 4th album, 蓮 (LIT) and LOVED it. It’s quite different from his previous music, in a really reallllly good way. Honestly, my Mandarin isn’t good enough to understand most of what he’s singing (it’s a lot harder for me to parse sung words vs. spoken words because they lose the tonal and phrasal markers I’d normally rely on for converting them to Cantonese in my head), but I’d suggest just listening to all 6 tracks in order.

(The music video for the title track, “莲 (Lit)”, is STUNNING with the absolutely massive CGI dragon and historical Chinese visuals, but there’s also a brief dance cut where Yixing’s wearing a hat with braids attached to it, so I won’t embed it here. (The hair in the braids is visibly textured, so I think it’s pretty clear the accessory is meant to invoke Blackness as an aesthetic. Yixing does have Black dancers on his team who are very vocal about how much they love working with him, but, like, society’s not yet in a place where Black hairstyles can be neutral enough to be appreciated rather than appropriated as an aesthetic.))

…spent 4 (? maybe 5???) hours on the phone with Alice talking about what we’ve been working on lately, writing-wise. It was so, SO helpful to have outside input to help me get unstuck on some character and plot points I was struggling with, and it was also just really fun to treat my writing seriously enough to have discussions about it. (It’s also fun to try to help with someone else’s nebulous story ideas! I’ve missed being creative so very much!!)

…played CodeNames with my cousins. It’s been a mess every time we’ve tried, and I love it. We used, but I recently heard about too. (An aside: I haven’t hung out with my cousins this deliberately or this regularly since we were little kids. It’s sad, because we had all the tools available to do it and just never took the steps to make it happen. If it weren’t for this pandemic… well, I think it’s made me mentally and emotionally cut back to only the relationships I care about most, and even if we haven’t been keeping up with each other as closely as we used to, we’re still family, and it’s just… very fulfilling, and it makes me deeply happy to be spending time together like this.)

…received a follow-up email from a [large tech company] recruiter who’d reached out to me last year. I’d told them that it wasn’t a good time and to try again in a few months, but the day I got that follow-up email, I ended up unable to fall asleep until 4 or so because I was anxiously ruminating over how to answer it. It was so stupid. I’d been zoning out all evening, with my brain checked out of all conversation and activity, and my spaciness carried over into the next day. It was like in college, when I’d feel completely out of body during lecture, or when I’d zone out while walking across the street or mid-conversation. My memory of that period is almost blank… It was like my brain decided to play dead for a few years.

And the fact that a single email that I felt pressured to respond to was enough to put me back in that mindset is both pathetic and STUPID. I talked to my partner about it the next morning and he was like “It seems like you can’t… let go of it? It’s not like you have to do it.” He’s right, on both counts. I don’t have to respond to recruiter emails just because they come from big, prestigious companies; I can ignore them like I ignore all the recruiter emails I get from tiny startups. And it’s true – I haven’t quite let go of this fear that I have to work in tech to be a productive, useful, lovable person by bringing in a six figure salary. But I don’t, not anymore. I can do something else. (I will do something else.)

I don’t have a good way to end this post, but if you haven’t taken any anti-racist/abolitionist actions today other than “feeling guilty” (which!!! isn’t even anti-racist! it’s just not racist! feeling guilty doesn’t actually do anything!), I am begging you: Try harder.

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