THINGS PROCEED mailing list signup

After trying and trying to make the nice mebedded form work, I gave up.

Here’s the link to signup for my new mailing list, Things Proceed.

It will be more conversational than this blog, a bit more personal. More off-the-cuff.

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Killing fictional men of color, with spoilers

This post contains spoilers for Agents of SHIELD, Sleepy Hollow, and NetFlix’s Marco Polo.

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Spoilers, right?

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Did I mention spoilers?

Okay.

One of the things I love about Sleepy Hollow is the representation in its casting. Women and people of color are main leads, with things to say and do that are entirely plot-driven and have nothing to do with being women or being black.

This includes dying.

One of the things I was initially dubious about in Agents of SHIELD was the lack of black people. This was remedied in season two, only to then kill one of the black leads.

NetFlix’s series, Marco Polo, has a cast that is almost entirely not-white-people. Therefore, when characters are raped, tortured, maimed, and killed, they are people of color suffering all those fates.

I have very mixed feelings about this.

For a long, long, long-ass time, the role of The Woman Character in a story was to be threatened or killed in order to provide motivation for the (straight, white) male lead. This phenomenon was dubbed Women in Refrigerators, and you can Google it for more information.

As women characters become more prominent, and there are simply MORE women characters in EVERYTHING, sometimes women are threatened or killed because they are WiR. But sometimes, it’s because they are the lead or the badass or the spy or the detective, and the plot simply put them in harm’s way.

Now, it seems, we’re starting to see this with people of color, too.

How do we tell the difference between the two? How do we assess WHY the black guy is killed? Is he killed because he’s the least important to the plot? Because he’s the most beloved of the audience and will get a bigger reaction? Is he killed because all the characters are black, and the story just has this death right here?

As a consumer of fiction, I try to spend my time and money and social media on things I both enjoy and consider worthy of others’ attention. I watch things I like, but I also am aware that my watching and talking about those things has a ripple effect. When I see Yet Another Black Guy die on my screen, I am reminded of how many black men are murdered in this country every year by law enforcement officials who see blackness as inherently more disposable than whiteness.

When I see Yet Another Black Guy die on my screen, I need to feel certain that it was vitally important to the story that the writers kill him.

It’s not the same as killing a white character. It’s just not.

Sure, you can say “but that show killed one black guy and one white guy and one white woman, so there’s parity, so it’s fine to kill him.” But it’s NOT the same. It’s NOT fine. We do NOT have parity. The institutional qualities of entrenched racism in the U.S. means that black lives are devalued even as white lives are valued.

Writers, you had better have a damn good reason for killing that black man, is what I am saying.

Marco Polo? You get a pass. There are three white characters out of about forty leads, and no white extras. Go ahead, show the conquest of the Song Kingdom by Kublai Khan, and have lots of people of color die. Fair enough.

Sleepy Hollow? Agents of SHIELD? No. It’s not okay. I know you have killed and maimed white characters, too. But it’s not the same.

I hope you have a plan for making this right, both of you.

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Things, and a newsletter sign-up

1. Later today I’ll be launching the intermittent newsletter that I’m trying, “Things Proceed.”

If this link works properly, you can sign up here.

I’ll be talking about … basically the things talk about here. But probably with a slightly more personal tone. I mean, sure, someone could take the newsletter and post it to the web, revealing my casual tone and random profanity. But it’s still marginally more discrete than a google-searchable website. If that makes sense.

I mean, I mostly Drawn a Graceful Veil over, say, what it’s like to have a camera up my nose and down my throat. Or, exactly the nature of some ridiculous fight over schoolwork with my kids. The Internet is Forever, and there’s no reason to record which math problems we threw down over for posterity. But I suspect I will be more inclined to say such things in a newsletter.

Also, I expect the newsletter will be contain trains of thought that end up nowhere in particular, rather than Having A Point.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, sign up! First one goes out later today.

2. So, I burnt the first batch of candied ginger, last week. THIS week I took it off the stove too early, and ended up drying it on very low heat in the oven for …. hours.

Eventually I will get this right.

But possibly not before my family puts a moratorium on making the house reek of ginger for days on end.

My girlfriend, L, helpfully reminded me that you can, in fact, buy BULK candied ginger on the internet.

So. That might be a thing.

3. J and I got the kids’ stockings filled this week. We don’t do Under-Tree presents, we just fill stockings. It keeps the cost and volume of gifts low, that way. And it makes us all be more creative with our buying, trying to find things that will FIT in the stockings.

There’s that word. “Fit.”

I gave up halfway through the first stocking, shaking my head in dismay. But J got everything in. Victory!

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Thank goodness for competent billing advocates

After weeks of back-and-forthing, the billing advocate with Healthpartners called back to say that they will, in fact, cover my treatment at the Mayo Clinic as in-network.

That’s twelve grand of medical bills that will be nearly all covered.

And, going forward, I switched health insurance to one that mostly covers the Mayo, without putting up such a fight.

Thank goodness.

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Knitting things from the weekend

1. I finished the colorwork portion of my first hat! It’s a four-color hat. I have been given to understand that this is an ambitious first project.

2. Also ambitious because the earflaps required patterning the stitches in fancy ways.

3. Things I have figured out so far:

- there has GOT to be some sort of easier way to wrangle three balls of yarn when doing the color work, my goodness. The damn things kept getting twisted around each other. I suspect I am Doing Something Wrong.

- holding the thread in my left hand (Continental-style? I guess?) is easier for me than holding it in my right.

- The maximum number of stitches in a row I have had to undo to fix something is, so far, twenty.

- I haven’t torn out entire rows yet.

- all the colorwork ended up being MUCH tighter than the single-color rows. My hat is going to be distinctly lumpy and misshapen.

- I am given to understand the blocking the hat will fix this misshapen lumpiness.

- My next lesson will involve figuring out how much more hat I need for the crown, and then working out the decreases for it.

- Since apparently I picked a kid’s hat, based on how it looked cool and had earflaps, which means L and D are re-writing the pattern for me on the fly. So, determining the crown rows and decreases will involve lots of peering at it and holding it up to my head and then some math.

4. Are you on Ravelry? I decided I might as well join Ravelry. I’m sigridellis there. (All praises be to my almost entirely unique internet-name-presence.)

5. I am having so much fun.

Did I mention that? SO much fun.

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Here’s the current chai recipe I use

Since Spuffy asked, I thought others might also like to know my current chai recipe –

Cinnamon sticks : Cardamon pods : Candied Ginger : Loose-Leaf Black Tea

1 : 1 : 2 : 4

So, I crush about 8-12 cinnamon sticks, depending on how much of the other ingredients I have. This makes a pile of razor-sharp cinnamon shards that’s probably … 2-3 Tbsp? Ish?

So then I crush 2-3 Tbsp of cardamon pods. Then I add about 4-6 Tbsp of candied ginger, depending on how big the chunks are, how old it is, etc. Then I eyeball the volume of … stuff … I have, and add about that much loose leaf black tea. Maybe a little bit less. I stir it with my fingers until it looks visibly about half tea, half other stuff.

Then I add:

6-12 peppercorns (I might up this)
a pinch of cumin seed (I might up this, too)
6-15 cloves

I stir it in a big bowl with my hands, and sniff it. Then I add a bit more of this and that, until it smells right to me.

It sorta depends on how much of each flavor you WANT in your chai.

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The Vicissitudes of Life

I have taken up knitting.

I asked my girlfriend, L, to teach me this winter. I want something I can do, something to occupy me, a hobby, that is slightly more social than reading and is less disruptive than watching tv or working out.

(A digression on hobbies. I used to be able to read anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances. In the last three years I don’t know what the hell happened. I can’t read anymore when people are talking to me! If there is music playing with words? I can’t read! If there is a conversation going on nearby? I can’t read! It is super-damn frustrating and annoying, and I wish it hadn’t happened. Moreover, I don’t know WHY it happened. Is this a sign of my brain aging? WHO KNOWS. At any rate, it makes reading a book while lightly supervising the kids’ chores a no-go. I want something else to do.

Watching movies and tv is another hobby that is not suitable for my life these days. It’s distracting to all other members of my house to have the noise and light of a screen. And if I put on headphones, it is super-antisocial.

Working out is a hobby I love. But it typically requires me to be physically in a different space that the people I am talking to or the children I am supervising. It’s not suitable for, again, lightly supervising the kids through their school and chores, if I am at the YMCA swimming. Does not work.

Hence, a hobby. Something small and non-disruptive that I can do while multitasking.)

Cooking is another hobby I enjoy. (Twenty-year-old me would be utterly mystified by the turns my life has taken, let me tell you. Twenty-year-old me had a number of notions about what she needed to do to fit in, and those notions did not include knitting. Or cooking.) So last night I embarked on two projects — making candied ginger, and finishing the second earflap for my prospective hat.

Candying ginger, as it turns out, is terrifically easy. It just take a lot of time. Peel and cut the ginger, boil it, make the sugar water, then simmer the ginger in the sugar water until the water is boiled away. The catch is, apparently the ginger goes from “not done simmering” to “burned to the bottom of the pan with the house reeking of burned sugar” in less than sixty seconds. I was checking the ginger regularly and frequently, and then, BAM. Burnt sugar.

So I leaped up from the couch, where I had been knitting the earflap. I dashed to the kitchen. I scraped and sorted and salvaged, and managed to retain about 40% of the candied ginger I had made.

I was miffed. I was frustrated, mostly with myself, over not paying closer attention. I was sulky and irritated. I put everything away, and stepped back into the living room.

Where the youngest dog, Jaime, was proudly sitting in a pile of tangled yarn.

Dammit.

I couldn’t really blame the dog. I was the human who had left a ball of knitting on the living room floor. I removed the dog and spent twenty minutes untangling and re-winding the yarn. I finished the last few rows of the earflap, and sulked for the rest of the evening.

Some days are, apparently, just like that.

Today is off to a better start for me. I made chai mix (using the candied ginger!) and I have some YouTube videos I am supposed to watch about casting on new stitches so I can continue the hat portion of my hat.

Onwards and upwards!

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