26 November 2016


J. and I hosted Thanksgiving at his house. Truthfully, J. did most of the work. And bought most of the food. I ordered the turkey, but J. picked it up and made the sage butter rub and basted the turkey every hour.  

But I made two pies and a sweet potato dish (you're going to want to make this asap: Crispy Sweet Potato Roast. The chili lemon vinaigrette is perfect), and I helped with the general prep. 

And the cleanup. The cleanup has taken days. I guess it didn't help that we decided to make stock out of the turkey carcass. And then we had to figure out how to transfer all the broth to another pan even though we'd left too much of the turkey meat on the bones. We still have to get all the broth into containers. And I'm fairly sure the butter is still sitting on the counter. 

Yesterday we went downtown to watch the tree lighting. A year ago yesterday (or today, or tomorrow, depending on how you count; we decided to count by the day after Thanksgiving), J. and I went on our first date to the tree lighting. We stood in the crowd again. Then we went to wait in line for the same restaurant we waited in line for last year. 

Only this year, we went rock climbing first, and J. isn't a stranger. 

The woman standing behind us in line said uncomplimentary things about the peanut curry, which is what I was planning to order. I ordered it anyway, and it was delicious. "I knew you were going to order it as soon as the guy mentioned green beans," J. said. (The green beans were perfect.)

Today we went for a hike in old growth forest in the rain, deterred at one point because there were many signs forbidding entrance onto private property. I neglected to keep my hood up. Rain dripped down my back, and we turned around when we started hearing closer gunshots; we'd forgotten to wear orange during hunting season. 

On the drive out, when we hit pavement, we heard a strange noise. "I'll check," I said, and jumped out to look. "Drive forward a little."

There was a bolt stuck in the tire, so we pulled off in an opportune place (namely, the middle of a dying timber town) to change it. J. jacked up the car. I wrestled the muddy tire into the trunk. 

We limped back to the suburbs on the donut, with the tire pressure light on all the way. I read the manual. Blah blah blah, driving on the donut may make the tire pressure light come on. It's fine, right?

We left the car at the shop, and I shivered as we walked to a nearby restaurant (the same one where we attended a wedding a few weeks ago). J. kept one of my hands warm, at least. He can't believe how fast I lose body heat. I can't understand how he manages to retain his. It took changing into the dry clothes that I had in my bag in order to warm me up.

When we got back, J.'s car was up on the lift, and two tires were off. 

Turns out the car had picked up two bolts. 

But we made it back in time for J. to catch most of the game. Some sort of sportsing, I don't know. There may be a ball involved. 

11 November 2016


I'm going on record here: I am horrified that this country elected Donald Trump. To me, racism and sexism and xenophobia are deal breakers. It's like saying, "My boyfriend is really great, except he hits me." Not hitting you is the bare minimum. Not being overtly racist and sexist and xenophobic is the bare minimum in a president. I am horrified that overt racism and sexism and xenophobia are not deal breakers for 47.5% of this country.

We are all racist and sexist and xenophobic to some degree. We were all raised in a society that told us that black people are a little scary and don't have good intentions, that told us that women are bitchy if they stand up for themselves, that told us that people from somewhere else have weird, unpleasant ways that would bother us if we had to experience them.

But we have to fight that. We have to fight it. If we don't fight it, we are part of the problem. When we vote for someone like Trump, we are saying, "Racism isn't important to me. I don't feel the effects of it in my life, and I don't care that other people do." 

So don't tell me that people who voted for Trump aren't racist. Don't tell me that they aren't sexist. Don't tell me that they aren't xenophobic. They accept these things in other people. They don't speak up against them. They don't, above all, reject them in their leaders. 

I hope, I really do, that our institutions and law are strong enough to prevent Trump from becoming Hitler. I hope that social pressure is enough to keep Trump from becoming Hitler. But there is a very real chance that this is Germany in 1934, and we just elected Hitler. 

I grew up in the Midwest. I understand why people vote Republican. I will never understand why anyone voted for Trump, especially not anyone who claims to be a Christian.

Because I will tell you this: Jesus would have utterly rejected a man who stereotypes black people and calls them "the blacks" to other them. Jesus would have utterly rejected a man who treats women like objects and grabs them without their consent. Jesus would have utterly rejected a man who threatens to make Muslims carry ID cards (sound familiar? see Germany in the 1930s, Rwanda in the 1990s, just prior to the start of genocide in both countries). 

If you voted for Trump and are reading this saying, "But, the Supreme Court! He didn't mean those things!" let me tell you this: the man would say anything to get elected. He would tell you anything about the Supreme Court and Obamacare and immigration and how he's going to bring jobs back. But you have literally no idea what he will actually do. He changed his story every time he blinked. He denied statements that he made days earlier, that were on tape. He will do what is best for himself, not for you. He cares about no one but himself. 

And more: he pandered to the racism and sexism and xenophobia in some (hopefully small) segments of our country. He gambled on the fact that most people wouldn't stand up against that. And he won. Most people didn't stand up against that. They accepted it. If this is 1934 Germany, 47.5% of the country voted for Hitler. If this is 1964 Alabama, 47.5% of the country voted for the white supremacist governor. Trump lost the popular vote, but he won enough people in my home state and others like it that he won the electoral college. 

I don't know what my Oma would do if she were here, but I know this: she stood up against Hitler when the Netherlands was occupied by the Nazis. I can't imagine what she would have thought when her party elected a man who read Hitler's speeches for inspiration. She couldn't even stand the sound of German being spoken. I am so glad that she never knew that some of her children and grandchildren voted for a man who used Hitler's strategies to get elected, who talks about minorities  as if they are the source of white people's problems just like Hitler did, and who, I fear, may turn out to treat minorities the same way Hitler did. 

I worry now, speaking out about these things. I worry that I will have to stand in the gap and risk death to stand up to Trump. But I'm doing it, because it is the right thing to do, and because my Oma did no less. 

06 November 2016


I've taken up indoor rock climbing. J. and I took it up together, actually, but then he flew off to Spain, leaving me to find other climbing partners, and I have done so. I am shameless about hitting people up to go climbing. I will climb with anyone who won't let the rope go too slack.

I might have overdone it a little two weeks ago, climbing five out of seven days. Last week I kept it to three, thanks to busy evenings and my elbow hating me when I climb too much, but this week I'll probably be back up to four or five. I love it. I love it like I love martial arts (or would, if I could find a good dojo in this city). 

(If you don't know the numbering, anything in the 5 range means that you probably need a rope. (More details in the "Free Climbing" section here.) The gym routes start at 5.6 and go through 5.13. I started with 5.6s and 5.7s, which are like ladders, and 5.8s were my hard climbs. After six weeks, I climb mostly 5.9s and some 5.10As. My project climbs are 5.10Bs and 5.10Cs.)

My evening emails to J. for the last two weeks or so, as I've been moving up, have read like this: "So then I climbed that purple 5.10A - you know, the one in the room straight ahead right as you enter, over from the orange route that has the overhang? - and it was hard and I had to rest on the rope a couple of times when my hands got tired, but I did it!!" I'm sure he is enthralled. He's threatening to find me a support group.

Yesterday I climbed tried to climb a couple of routes that were way above my abilities, and somehow the whole afternoon passed while I fought the wall. I only figured out how much time had passed because I was so hungry that I got dizzy. It's hard to climb when you are dizzy.

Today I struggled on a route that I did successfully last week (they put in a big handhold for another route in exactly the wrong place to stop me from balancing where there are no handholds), and then when that didn't work, I climbed a 5.11A. Okay, with a little help from the rope, and I used the crack in the wall (I'm never sure whether you are allowed to use the crack or not). And it was my favorite kind of climb, with big bulby handholds far apart (tall people unite). I hate little handholds. They make my fingers cramp up.

"How far do you fall when you fall?" my mom asked. Since I am a 'fraidy cat about falling, I hardly fall any distance at all. Yesterday I was climbing with someone new, who didn't pull the rope tight when I said, "take," and so I just let go of the wall to rest my hands and fell about two feet. Which is fine, except that I was struggling with that route, and losing those two feet of climbing when you are dizzy and hungry and just want to go home is rough. The good news is that I've gotten way more comfortable with falling over the last week or two. Before that, I just clung to the wall like a burr rather than risk falling when I probably could have made the next move.

Climbing is so much fun.