Coincidence

“This is the last time you’ll see me,” he said, and I protested because that’s what you’re supposed to do, even though we both knew better.

Granddad swept me up in a hug, the way you can’t hug someone now, and I could feel the hollowness inside him that was eating him alive. His ribs were a taiko when I patted his back; his heart echoed against my cheek. He had been a giant when I was young, and he never seemed to get shorter, long legs outstretched in a series of recliners, always with a dachshund stretched along his thighs. He was the only man I’ve ever seen sit like that, consistently, knees pressed together.

Seventy-some years before, on August 14th, he’d had orders for the Pacific. Had paused, balanced on a boarding plank, one foot on sovereign soil and the other nowhere, waiting for the news. Never boarded. For his whole life, a boy in a man’s clothes was still suspended in time, on a plank over the hungry ocean, his pockets full of French perfume for the woman he’d married, his head full of other thoughts.

“Remember me like this, I want you to remember me like this,” he said, where my mother couldn’t hear him. So I didn’t go, when we had the option to see him diminished, when we could look at the hollowness without the man who had been stretched thin around it. When the mind that had cupped the Southwest in paint-stained, loving hands was gone.

And I do remember him like that, but I also remember him as the first person to use a racial slur in front of me, and it was one that describes people I also consider family. It’s complicated, until it’s not.

Coincidence flows through my veins and links me to racists, to people who take without a second thought, to people who do not and can not believe that separate people exist with separate thoughts and feelings and ideas beyond what they can imagine. But there’s other coincidence in life: the accident of meeting someone online, of re-meeting a friend you would never have counted on for support and finding them where you need them, of the family members brought in by marriage and kept longer than the legal ties bind them. “She’s your only sister” is an absolutely true statement; but there’s only one of any person, and not all coincidences are serendipitous. “They’re your only [name]” is just as true, and just as coincidental. Coincidence is not value.

Remember me like this: coincidence is its own kind of truth.

Remember me like this: not all truth is meaningful.

Remember me like this: I knew what I valued.

But What Can I Do To Support You?

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[reposted from my Facebook page because it’s easier to find and archive here]

“BUT WHAT CAN I DO TO SUPPORT YOU?”
A short list of things my Black friends have asked their white friends to do well before now and repeatedly

By me, a Nice White Lady who you might actually listen to

1) Stop asking what you should do. Holy shit, it’s 2020, you have Google. Use it.

a. Donate
b. Protest
c. Provide direct support to Black creators and activists via Patreon, etc.
d. Read and educate yourself and stay current so that you can do buffer 101-level education for white people and take some of the labor off Black shoulders

2) Stop coming on their posts to say how terrible you think white people are, too. Shut up. Don’t try to make it about you. This isn’t supportive. TELL WHITE PEOPLE HOW TERRIBLE THEY ARE INSTEAD. You don’t get credit for thinking thoughts at white people and then talking to Black people about them.

3) Stop coming out in public to say how “shocked” you are. Or that “this isn’t my America.” Yes it is and it was and see above, 2020, they’re TIRED. Shut up and Google a thing. Then educate your white friends.

4) Stop coming on their posts to say “not me! I don’t feel like that!” – honestly, if what you think you are entitled to in this moment when Black people are grieving is THEIR REASSURANCE FOR YOUR WHITE EMOTIONS, you are exactly one of those people.

5) Stop saying “I’ll protect you! I have your back!” especially if your wall is full of your garbage friends saying “well, but it’s ok to shoot looters.” Don’t make your Black friends have to do that assessment of whether they should trust you (lol they don’t). Shut up. Be trustworthy. I know! It’s so hard when you want to live on all those ally cookies. Make yourself a sandwich and actually support people instead of talking about it.

6) DO: Post about injustice. Loudly and repeatedly, since you have access to white people and spaces and the capacity to be heard there. But take the pictures off, and put the links in comments. It’s ok to use pull quotes from the stories you’re posting, but don’t force people to watch someone be murdered every time they open Facebook.

7) DO: moderate your space. Don’t let your friends say bullshit on your wall, don’t let people make unchallenged racist remarks, and ditch that Trump supporter who’s always gotta play Devil’s advocate. It’s 2020, why are you still friends with him? PROTIP: if there’s someone you genuinely can’t shed because something something family something actual safety or shelter (not just, it’ll be awkward) you can put them in FB quarantine. Mute them, shove them on a restricted list, and NEVER make a post where they and your marginalized friends will be interacting.

8) Get out of their DMs. Not with the support right now for people you rarely interact with who happen to be on your friends/follows list (it’s one more thing they are being asked to do for white people) and never, EVER, when you have fucked up in public. Apologize in public, too. Make it right in public. Asking POC to have a conversation with you where there are no witnesses is an act of racialized violence. Related: don’t dirty delete. Just apologize—meaningfully–and be a better person.

9) Listen to Black people. The first time. I shouldn’t be making this post at all. You shouldn’t be finding it more credible than the dozens of times Black people have said the thing. BUT HERE WE ARE. And it’s not just about this. Listen to their lived experience. They’re not “exaggerating” when they describe interactions with white people, authority figures, cops. Stop trying to find excuses for the behavior of white people you DON’T EVEN KNOW when your supposed friend is sitting right there telling you about what happened to them.

How to bake bread

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First, you’ll want some yeast. Well. Maybe you won’t. Yeast is hard to come by these days. Everyone’s stressed, everyone’s baking, the stores are low on bread.

Right, let’s back up.

First you’ll want some stress. A pandemic will do. If you can’t find a handy pandemic, settle for a tight deadline, a kid in trouble, a call from a distant love where you can’t do anything but listen. The idea is to feel so completely helpless that only making something with your hands will fix you.

Maybe there’s no yeast in the house. Maybe you’re afraid to go to the store, or your store is out, or you’re supporting striking workers. That’s ok. Go to the cabinet and get out the bread book you found at the thrift, the one that matches your mom’s (the edition is important: the new one doesn’t have the Finnish braid).

Collect the dry ingredients: 4 cups of flour, a teaspoon of salt. A tablespoon of baking powder and a teaspoon of baking soda. This, plus the egg, will be leavening. Put the dry ingredients in a bowl. Try not to think about how many cups of flour four is. Try not to calculate how many are left.

You can add a quarter-cup of sugar, an eighth-teaspoon cardamom or coriander. I’ve been making this recipe for thirty years and I never have. But you might. If you have that.

Add 1/4 cup of butter or margarine. Cut it in with a pastry blender or forks or knives. Or, fuck it, just melt it and stir it in. The bread won’t care. It’s 4 tablespoons if you’re using a big tub or if you already made ghee in an attempt to make all your butter shelf-stable.

Now beat an egg and 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk together. You won’t have buttermilk. It’s a specialty ingredient. But that’s ok: use the milk that went bad a week ago, that you haven’t thrown out because you’re ashamed. You’re ashamed of having bought something you can’t use when money is about to be beyond tight, or of not having used something up when you asked for it. It’s okay. You’re doing the best you can. Use your sour milk here. This recipe was meant for that. It’s a poverty recipe, elevated by Sunset Magazine into something hippie-proud, but you know the truth now. If your milk is still good, good for you! Throw a splash of vinegar in there, it’ll go sour and start to curdle.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until they form a biscuitish dough. Biscuitish, by the way, is a Tolkien word, used to describe cram, the waybread of the Lakemen. You’re making a sort of cram now, in fact. But it’s not hard, it’s not inedible.

Find your pie pans. They might be at the bottom of the drawer. A 9″ cast iron works too. Or the lid to a Pyrex set. Something nine inchesish. Inchesish is not a Tolkien word.

Divide the dough in half, and form each half into a ball by tucking the top under and under and under until the top is smooth and the bottom is puckered and pinchy. Grease the pans or the whatever-you-found. Pat the dough out into the form of the pan. It’s going to be a couple inches thick.

If you’re especially stressed you can skip the ball. Form the dough into ropes. Braid them. Figure out how to get the braid into the pan. You can start with a sort of pound-sign thing. You can start with a round braid. You can descend into a spiral along with your dough. But don’t. Just get the dough in the pan. You’re going to be all right. For today, at least. You’ll be fed.

Bake in a moderately hot oven (375/190) for 35 to 40 minutes.

It’s okay if you cut one loaf in wedges and the other in slices. It’s okay to eat them with butter. It’s okay to toast them or not. It’s okay to take the whole loaf to bed with you if that’s what you need.

You deserve nourishment. Food isn’t a value judgment.

But I found a two-pound bag of yeast on Amazon the other day, if you need it, when the strike is over.

Unpopular opinion: I don’t care if normal never comes back.

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It’s been barely over a week since the U.S.A. started taking COVID-19 seriously, and already my social media feeds are full of “when do we get back to normal.” Y’all, I hope we never do. Normal was killing us. It was killing the planet. I hope it’s gone for good. Continue reading

Roots

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It’s spring, which means my seasonal depression is in full force. Whee. And like most springs, I went out and bought a bunch of plants, because nothing says “this will cure my depression” like watching fucking plants die.
Continue reading

The unfathomable white supremacy of a tater tot hotdish recipe

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I just want to open this post by saying that I love hotdish. It’s not a part of my heritage, really, being a tiny bit lapsed Catholic via some sperm and a whole lot lapsed who-knows-what Protestant by way of an egg, but I honestly adore it. Hotdish, or casserole to those of you not from the Midwest, is basically some sort of carb bound by some sort of dairy with an additional brothlike liquid and probably some meat in. Lasagna is a hotdish, if you get down to it. Hotdish is what you take to potlucks and picnics, funerals and football games. Continue reading

unrecoverable

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CW: disordered eating. No, seriously, I am not joking around with this. Take care of yourself. Don’t get competitive with people who are not. (I’m ok. Just a lot of feels waiting for you in this post.) Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, there is a Year Zero

For no reason that I can discern, it’s become very popular to use a ridiculous “the new millennium doesn’t start until 2001” argument to say that the ’20s don’t start until 2021. Aside from the fact that is it really necessary for you to be wrong on the internet to feel superior most of these arguments depend on a “there is no year zero, so obviously stuff doesn’t start until 1” fallacy. Continue reading