Friday, January 13, 2017

2016: In Books That I Read

It goes without saying that I haven't posted much on this blog in 2016. Because really, what's the point? But I did recently remember that I looked back on 2015 by listing all the books I read that year, which was kind of a fun exercise. I also look back and see that I called 2015 the year of "Donald Trump." (Oh, 2015 me: You're so adorable.)

But I did read a lot of damn books in 2016, so let's do it again. Get psyched for some unhelpful book!

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family
Kathleen Flinn
Probably don't read this. I read this because I loved Flinn's "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry" about attending Le Cordon Blue. That book was much better. This one was fairly boring to me.

In the Unlikely Event
Judy Blume
Read this if you were a fan of Blume's YA lit and enjoy a light read. Her promised transition into "adult" fiction doesn't quite happen, but this book is charming nonetheless.

Fates and Furies
Lauren Groff
Read this if you enjoy being shocked and appalled in maybe kind of a good way? I can't get it out of my head that Barack Obama cited this as his favorite book of 2015. It was certainly entertaining but my goodness. Pearls have been clutched.

Let's Pretend this Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir
Jenny Lawson
Read this if you are an awkward woman and/or a fan of The Bloggess. I laughed out loud many times.

Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel
Read this if you like apocalyptic fiction. It seems lots of people put themselves in either the Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" camp OR the "Station Eleven" camp. I haven't read the former so I can't weigh in -- but apparently you either love one or the other of these books. I actually didn't love or hate this book, so perhaps I need to read "The Road" so I can understand my own opinion better.

The Rosie Project
Graeme Simsion
Read this if you like a good character study and are open to a narrator with a very unique personality to which you likely will not be able to relate. I personally found this book extremely delightful, but it's probably not for everyone.

Rising Strong
Brene Brown
Read this if you're into and can follow this kind of self-help stuff. It is not my thing. I read it for my book club and struggled. I still don't know what being "face down in the arena" really means. Sorry, Brene.

Florence Gordon
Brian Morton
Read this if you like fiction about strong women -- maybe. The title character was actually not my favorite, to be honest. I thought I would love her but I really did not.

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
David Sedaris
Read this because it's David Sedaris. You have to like David Sedaris' writing to like this. I cannot stress that point enough. It's probably not a good "my first David Sedaris" selection. I'd go with "Me Talk Pretty One Day" for that. If you like that book, you're in the club. If not, skip him.

The Pecan Man
Cassie Dandridge Selleck
Read this to learn what it was like in the American South in the 1970s. When I first finished this book I was lukewarm on it, but the more I have thought back on it I have been glad I read it.

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House
Kate Andersen Brower
Read this if you are interested in presidential history-slash-gossip, homemaking, and the politics of domestic service careers. Maybe don't read, though, if you would just spend the entire book picturing our soon-to-be White House tenant on the premises and getting really, really angry and depressed about that.

The Secret History
Donna Tartt
Read this if you saw promise in "The Goldfinch" but found it a little too tedious. This Tartt book is better, in my opinion. She's a hell of a writer.

Dean Bakopoulos
Read this if you have ever attended or lived in the vicinity of Grinnell College and/or you like books that read more like screenplays than novels. This wasn't my favorite -- again with the hate-able characters thing -- but hey, trying to keep it local at least once a year.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Jenny Lawson
Read this only if you've already read "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" and loved it. Her first book is better than this second effort, but it still entertained me because I am a big fan. I am sure I will read her third effort in 2017 because I am a huge weirdo/sucker for Lawson's writing.

The Woman Upstairs
Claire Messud
Read this if you aren't bothered by unlikable characters. Actually, don't read this. Maybe read "The Emperor's Children" if you aren't bothered by unlikable characters. That's a better Messud book, albeit also riddled with unlikable characters. Why is this such a theme for me?

Me Before You
JoJo Moyes
Read this if you want to take a deep dive into societal attitudes toward the disabled. That's really all I can say about it. Didn't love it; didn't hate it. It had some issues and some redeeming qualities at the same time. Haven't seen the movie, though I have heard mostly good things.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
J. Ryan Stradal
Read this if you, like me, simply can't resist any book with the words "kitchen" and "Midwest" in it. I don't know if I'd call this book good, but it's different. Disappoints on the "this book is about food" front, but the story is definitely interesting.

Kinsey and Me: Stories
Sue Grafton
Read this if you're obsessed with Grafton and/or Millhone. I am a junkie. When does Y come out, y'all?

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
Lindy West
Read this if you're a person who needs to be slapped in the face hard to understand what it's like to be a woman, or if you are a woman and want to relate to someone who truly understands online harassment, the objectification and commodification of women's bodies, and sexism. Really, it's so great and not shrill at all. I thought this was a terrible title for a fantastic book.

Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice
Curtis Sittenfeld
Read this if you loved the original work mostly for its satirical elements. That's mainly what Sittenfeld captures here. Obviously, Austen is better...but this is a fun read if you are a person who understands and appreciates the original book.

Our Souls at Night
Kent Haruf
Read this because Kent Haruf was amazing and a brilliant novelist.

Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Isiguro
If you can get through this, let me know. I found it depressing and weak and quit reading it after 100ish pages. I'd say don't read this. I may be in the minority, however.

My Life on the Road
Gloria Steinem
Read this if you are interested in Steinem's life and work, especially if you are younger and need more appreciation of the history of the women's movement.

My Own Words
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Read this is you're a law nerd. It is probably NOT what you think it is; I wanted to learn more about RBG the person, but I really just learned more details about her biography and about landmark legal decisions -- not that those aren't interesting, but the content of this book is certainly more academic than it is entertaining.

Listen, Liberal: How the Party of the People Learned to Love Inequality
Thomas Frank
Read this, internalize its message, spend some time hating yourself if you're anything like me, and then burn this book and never read it again unless you hate yourself a LOT. This book makes some really good points but offers no wisdom, advice, alternatives, or solutions in my opinion. So it's really just maddening and dispiriting as much as it is bold and fair.

Jonathan Franzen
Read this if you are a Franzen appreciator like I am. It's long and sometimes tedious but always maintains a Franzen level of intrigue and coolness that I enjoy.

How to be a Woman
Caitlin Moran
Read this if you don't take yourself, life in general, or the academic idea of "feminism" too seriously. This book is actually super controversial, but I don't think it needs to be. It is NOT a feminist manifesto; if you expect that going in, you will likely be disappointed. It is a charming memoir written by a regular woman who is rough around the edges and has some strong opinions about being a woman. It's entertaining, funny, and was a great opportunity for me to feel like I am not that weird in some of my opinions. I actually loved it a lot.

Happy New Year! What are you reading in 2017?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Donald Trump. Because I just can't with this anymore.

I had trouble sleeping last night.

It wasn't because I was worried about my 4-year-old's suddenly obnoxious behavior, or about Cyclone basketball or carbon monoxide poisoning or work or my cholesterol or any of those things I might usually worry about.

I couldn't sleep because I realized we are about one week away from Donald Trump potentially becoming the Republican nominee for president.

Back in August, one of my favorite podcasts, On the Media, aired an episode based around the concept of looking back a fictional depiction of a Trump presidency. I think it was supposed to be far-fetched, a good belly laugh and a smack in the face over our national refusal to take politics seriously -- a warning of what we were flirting with.

It's so much more than that now. And I can't laugh.

The rise of Donald Trump puzzles me in that, despite his strong voter numbers, I don't actually know a real-life Trump supporter. They are supposedly everywhere, yet I never encounter them. (Perhaps this says more about my friends and relations and privilege than anything else.)

My friend Kelly was apparently feeling the same way about a month ago. She did one of those "HONEST QUESTION, NO JUDGMENT, YOU GUYS" posts on Facebook: "Are any of my friends Donald Trump supporters? If so, can you please tell me honestly why? I promise I will not judge you."

Crickets. 357 Facebook friends; zero willing to admit they were backing Donald Trump for president, even given the promise that they wouldn't be judged. Several people replied "Following -- I have been wondering this as well." Some speculated. But in the end, no one volunteered to carry the Trump banner on that particular day on that particular Facebook page. I was left still seeking answers, refusing to believe that such a large segment of the U.S. population was just racist and/or celebrity-crazed and/or unconcerned about governance.

Then, last week, I had my first "embarrassed to be from Iowa" moment since the Great Stanford Band Rose Bowl Overreaction of 2016. I read about students from Dallas Center-Grimes High School who taunted Latino students on the Perry High School basketball team with nasty chants invoking Trump at the schools' annual game (the good news: the horrifying tale has a fairly happy ending).

I tweeted my horror and shame over this incident. My followers agreed: Yes, this is disgusting. Look at what hatred and distasteful behavior Trump's abusive rhetoric has fomented. Embarrassed for our state. Embarrassed for our country. Heart. Retweet. Heart. Agree.

But then, there came this response: "Apparently public figures are now responsible for the stupidity of teenagers who don't understand a policy position."

Aha! Someone was disagreeing with my assessment of the situation. I couldn't be certain that the person was an actual Trump supporter, but I was on a path. Could this be my opportunity to speak to a real Trump supporter? Was it happening? Was this the magical unicorn I had been seeking? I had to engage further.

Long story short, the tweeter wasn't exactly a Trump supporter but said he/she would vote for him in the general election if he got the GOP nomination. I also got a vehement denial that Trump had ever tweeted disparaging comments about Jeb Bush's wife and a general declaration that all Republican and Democratic politicians are worthless and corrupt. The tweeter also espoused the Trump-held belief that Mexicans are flooding into the country, even though that is objectively untrue. So I didn't get much; I probably shouldn't have expected much. Trump is very good at deflecting and ignoring accusations and, well, facts, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there are others out there who support him who are equally talented in that regard.

So here I am. Still wondering what motivates someone to cast a ballot for Donald Trump; surely it can't all be disillusionment with "the establishment," but it also can't possibly be because of his inspirational campaign and policy platforms. I'll put this blog post out here as another ask, but I will include with it a fat steaming pile of judgment. (Because I'm not as graceful as Kelly.)

Presenting: Questions I would sincerely like to ask Donald Trump supporters, because what in the actual hell:

1) Does it not bother you that Donald Trump constantly speaks and behaves in an unprofessional manner, setting a horrible example for Americans -- particularly youth -- everywhere?
At a rally in South Carolina last November, Donald Trump bent his hands up and flailed them around in an apparent attempt to mock Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times reporter who suffers from a congenital joint condition. He frequently calls people losers, dopes, and dummies. He wished out loud in front of a protester that it was acceptable to punch said protester in the face. As Megyn Kelly famously pointed out, he has called women fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. Trump, of course, responded to Kelly's question about this by referencing her period and then refusing to speak to ever her again. Try to imagine any other past U.S. president behaving in any of these ways and what the reaction would be from the American people, from our allies, from our enemies -- from everyone. That's not the type of behavior we should ever expect from the President of the United States. It's embarrassing, and it teaches our children that belittling others and spewing profanity will get you to the highest position in the world. He's brought down the level of discourse in our country to a terrifying point, and not enough people seem to be bothered by it.

Sometimes a meme says it best:

2) Does it not bother you that the Trump campaign has not only shared very little information about policy positions or new ideas, but has frequently revealed an extreme ignorance of pretty much everything related to governing?
Trump would be better able to defend his sometimes positive comments about Planned Parenthood if he had ever read or even heard of the Hyde Amendment. Even as recently as last night's debate, it was obvious that Donald Trump doesn't understand what Medicaid is. Never mind the fact that he was being weirdly attacked from the right for saying that he doesn't want people to die in the streets (as though that was a bad or "liberal" position -- but that's another rant for another day), but how can he not understand that we already have a social program designed to protect the poorest people who are in need of health care?

Even when he attempts to be moderate or compassionate, he bungles it with his ignorance. At last night's debate he yelled something about getting rid of the state borders (about a hundred times, actually, which was ironically pointed out by noted debate talking point repeater Marco Rubio himself), which tells us nothing other than that he has some vague idea about allowing citizens to purchase health insurance policies across state lines. Which is not something that would prevent people from dying in the streets. And which is not exactly what I would call a fleshed-out health care plan. But whatever. It's going to be great and fabulous and he loves poorly educated voters all the more.

How Donald Trump can get away with merely declaring that everything he will do is going to be great and fabulous without demonstrating the slightest bit of knowledge or experience completely stupefies me. But it's happening. Sometimes I wonder if he isn't terrified, deep down, that he will end up getting put in charge of everything when he has no earthly idea what he's doing. Maybe not. I don't know how Stage 4 Egomania works. But, either way, the fact that he has been able to fake his way through a presidential campaign for eight months is alarming.

3) Does it not bother you that Trump has built his "successful business empire" -- the thing he says qualifies him to run the nation -- primarily on handouts, bailouts, and shady schemes?
To quote Rubio, Donald Trump would be "selling watches" without the hefty inheritance he earned from his father, so Trump was born on third base and has lived a life of privilege by any definition of the term. Add to that the fact that he has filed Chapter 11 four times. (To be fair, the four bankruptcies are not a completely out-of-norm action for someone in his situation. However, despite the fact that Trump has four times hung investors out to dry he has still oddly found a way to use the bankruptcies as examples of his business acumen, which certainly takes some balls. Also, pretty sure declaring bankruptcy is not an option in the White House.) And then there's this and this. he really a great businessman who's out there growing the economy? And if that's your basis for supporting him, shouldn't you look more closely at the evidence?

That being said, one business skill I won't take away from Trump is his ability to market. The guy is a master at creating a spectacle around his brand. A freaking spectacle.

4) Does it not bother you that there are so many themes of racism in Trump's campaign?
A recent poll found that 20 percent of Trump's rabid South Carolina-based supporters believe U.S. slaves shouldn't have been freed after the Civil War. Yes, you read that correctly. Last fall two Trump supporters attacked a homeless Latino man in Trump's name; Trump shrugged off the incident and said his fans were just "passionate." Trump has called Mexicans criminals, murderers, and rapists. He has demonized Syrian immigrants, called the Black Lives Matter movement "trouble," and advocated a ban on Muslims in the U.S. while claiming he's a supporter of "religious liberty."

And really, let's ask ourselves, since we apparently must, WHY those high school students were using Trump's name to taunt people of another race. If people are misunderstanding you that severely, that's your problem -- not theirs.

So what's the upside? Current polling seems to indicate that both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would defeat Trump in a general election. Since I lean to the left, I should theoretically be happy about that. But Trump's numbers just keep going up, and who's to say he couldn't win the election? I have certainly learned a painful lesson about counting him out.

And that's why I'm having trouble sleeping at night.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: In Books I Read

Seeing whereas 2015 was the year of the Man Bun, the Mass Shooting, and Donald Trump, it's hard for me to look back upon it with joyful retrospect. Instead I choose to look back at it through the books I read during the year. So, without further ado, here are the books I read in 2015, accompanied by my thoughts about who should read them:

Ruth Reichl
Read this if you have a high tolerance for first-time novel attempts. (I do not.)

Unconditional Parenting
Alfie Kohn
Read this if you want to be super analytical about parenting and disciplining your child. (It was over my head.)

Kent Haruf
Read this after Plainsong and Eventide and remember the talents of one of our country's great novelists. RIP.

Bad Feminist: Essays
Roxanne Gay
Read this if you're super into pop culture. (I am not.)

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
Read this if you breathe air and drink water. Best book I read this year.

On Immunity: An Inoculation
Eula Biss
Read this if you're angry about the anti-vaccination movement.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk
Adele Faber
Read this if you have a child, period. It's really good.

Yes Please
Amy Poehler
Read this if you love Parks and Rec and/or SNL.

Tim Johnston
Read this if you want to support local authors and also really enjoy excessive descriptions of smoking cigarettes.

Dept. of Speculation
Jenny Offill
Read this. You have time; it takes about an hour. It will be one of the most unique novels you pick up.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other observations)
Mindy Kaling
Read this if you love Mindy Kaling and don't mind random anecdotes packaged in book form.

The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
Read this if you enjoy mysteries and don't care so much about liking the characters in the story.

Motherhood Smotherhood
JJ Keith
Read this if you are fed up with lactivism, attachment parenting zealots, or anything labeled with the adjective "mom." And you have a sense of humor.

Rainbow Rowell
Read this if you're looking for a great beach-type read that's still well written.

Love is a Mix Tape
Rob Sheffield
Read this if you loved music in the 1990s.

Theoretically Dead
Tinker Marks
Read this if you want to support local authors, as this was written by a duo of husband-wife professors from Grinnell College, and are intrigued by the category of "lesbian mystery."

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Read this if you want to expand your understanding of intersectional feminism and/or the immigrant experience in America.

Go Set a Watchman
Harper Lee
Read this if you absolutely can't help yourself. To Kill a Mockingbird it is not.

RJ Palacio
Read this if you like well-written youth literature, or have preteens at home to read to. It's about a child with a severe disfigurement but is neither depressing nor overly cheesy. Maybe a little cheesy in that "appropriate for youth" sort of way.

The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt
Read this Pulitzer Prize winner if you have a lot of free time, enjoy a lot of plot and character details, but don't necessarily care about character likability.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin
Read this if you're kind of a bibliophile who likes literary references and a creative story arc but don't necessarily care about great characters.

Sue Grafton
Read this if you love the Kinsey Millhone series. This is another stellar specimen.

This Town
Mark Leibovich
Read this if you're already cynical about politics and want to be even more so.

Happy New Year! What are you reading in 2016?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Blueberry Swirl Muffins with Lemon-Sugar Topping

I am not a fan of dense, heavy, dry muffins. And since a lot of muffins fall into this category, I've never been a big fan. But when I found this recipe for blueberry muffins in Cook's Illustrated "All-Time Best Recipes" issue, I was hooked. The key is to make a jam and swirl it through the muffins to add blueberry flavor, as opposed to just weighing it down with lots of whole blueberries (though a few of those are important, too).

This has become one of my go-to recipes for morning meetings and gatherings. People seem to really enjoy them. And for me, blueberry and lemon is an idea flavor combination. (See one of my favorite cake recipes.)

Here's how to make them. (Please note this isn't a one-pot recipe...)


For the lemon-sugar topping:
Combine 1/3 c. sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest in a bowl and set aside.

For the muffins:
2 c. blueberries
1 1/8 c. + 1 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
4 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Adjust oven track to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray, line with paper if you wish.

Bring 1 c. blueberries and 1 tsp. sugar to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with a spoon and stirring frequently, until berries and broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup (about 6 mins.). Transfer to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature while you making the batter (about 15 mins.).

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 c. sugar and eggs in a medium bowl until thick and homogenous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined, then buttermilk and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining 1 c. blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened (do NOT overmix; dry spots will remain).

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffins cups and mound slightly. Spoon 1 tsp. cooked blueberry jam into the center of each and swirl in a figure-8 motion using a chopstick or skewer. Sprinkle lemon sugar topping evenly over muffins.

Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 17 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sunday Supper

It was a busy Sunday at our house -- in fact, my husband's FitBit recorded more than 30,000 steps. So yeah, it was that kind of day -- even though it was Masters Sunday. Most of the day was consumed with chores and yardwork, with which our son, CJ, was an incredible help. But the busy day of mulching, power raking, laundry, shopping, grass seed spreading, and the like didn't leave behind a lot of time for cooking. So I was glad that my favorite recipe for Italian Sausage and Potato Frittata could come to the rescue. This healthy and satisfying dish comes together quickly and pairs great with a green salad (I added a Cara-Cara orange viniagrette that was light and refreshing on a sweaty day), crusty bread (are there really crustless breads?), and a fruit salad (can you say adorable mini watermelons?). And everyone in our house likes it, so there's that.

If you try this recipe (adapted from Cook's Country 30-Minute Suppers), don't skip the fresh basil. It makes the dish!


10 large eggs
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 T. half and half
4 T. minced fresh basil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh-cracked black pepper
1 russet potato, peeled and sliced thinly
6 oz. (about two links) Italian sausage (I used Niman Ranch sweet, but hot also works), casings removed

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450. Whisk eggs, 1/2 c. of the parmesan, half and half, basil, salt, and pepper together in a bowl; set aside. Place sliced potato in a microwave safe covered bowl and nuke about 4 mins. (This is part of what makes this meal so fast.)

While potato is cooking, brown sausage in a 10-inch skillet for about 8 mins. over medium high heat, breaking up pieces with a spoon. Stir in potato and reduce heat to medium. Add egg mixture and cook until large curds form but eggs are still very wet, about 3 mins. Shake skillet to distribute eggs, without stirring, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. parmesan on top. Bake until golden brown, about 8 mins.

It was a hearty meal for a busy, egg-lovin' guy.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Easter Funday

It was a very exciting Easter 2015 for CJ, who loves hunting for eggs, eating copious amounts of sugar, and is apparently not at all scared of people in Easter Bunny costumes (go figure). At age 3 1/2, he pretty much rocked the 0-3 age division of this year's "Eggs Eggs Everywhere" hunt at Western Gateway Park. And by far his favorite Easter basket item was what I affectionately refer to as "mega-chick" -- a really huge wind-up chick that CJ assumes is the "Mommy" of his little wind-up chick. Apparently the concept that chicks are chickens has escaped him to this point.
Mega Chick takes no prisoners.
We had a really beautiful morning yesterday in Des Moines, so of course we hit the front yard for an Easter Egg hunt. Since CJ's cousin is barely 1 and doesn't walk yet, he didn't have any competition for our Sunday morning hunt. Needless to say, we're now swimming in candy at our house. Everyone just enjoyed being out in the gorgeous weather and assessing exactly how much mulching we still have to do at our place.

And since my favorite food is brunch (I refuse to be any more specific as I love any and all brunch foods), I was more than excited to cook a meal at our house, including a really simple and yummy raspberry ricotta cake recipe I found in the March issue of Bon Appetit magazine that was the perfect accompaniment to a big meal on a sunny spring morning.


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 c. ricotta
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 c. frozen raspberries, divided

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold in dry ingredients until just blended. Then fold in butter, followed by 3/4 cup of the raspberries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/4 cup raspberries over the top.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, appx. 50-60 mins. Let cool at least 20 mins. before removing from pan. Can be made up to 2 days a head. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Hope everyone had a happy weekend!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Everything you always wanted to know about calling anonymous women sluts via Twitter but were afraid to ask

I'm pretty much just like celebrated Little League pitcher and female sports pioneer Mo'Ne Davis. Except I'm not good at playing baseball. Or 13 years old. Or ever included in the SportsCenter Top Ten. Or a paragon of moral rectitude. But she and I both got called whores on Twitter this week. There's that. And, yeah, that's pretty much all we have in common.

Point of clarification: I was called a whore. Bloomsburg University baseball player Joey Casselberry referred to Davis as a "slut," actually. He was reprimanded and even kicked off his college team for his tweet. Harsh, perhaps, but he was stupid and he made a choice. But of course, as the 24-hour news cycle collapsed around the story it quickly became Mo'Ne Davis' responsibility to fix the situation, even though she had no involvement whatsoever in either the tweet or the punishment. Davis contacted Bloomsburg University and asked officials to reconsider Casselberry's suspension. She publicly acknowledged that hey, people are sick of hearing about me and that is probably why this guy who doesn't know me felt it was okay to refer to me as a slut even though I am a mere child and he didn't mean it literally and I hope this doesn't affect the status of my Disney Channel biopic.

As I read the NPR story praising Davis for her benevolent actions, I honestly wanted to throw up. Not because I had any problem with what Mo'Ne Davis did or how she handled the situation, but because this is the messed-up way our society works. You're only allowed to be a little bit offended by misogyny (or racism or {{insert name of bad behavior here}}), and the responsibility always falls back on women (or people of color, or {{insert name of marginalized group here}}) to react in just the right way. It is NOT Mo'Ne Davis' responsibility to make Joey Casselberry feel better about acting like a jerk on the Internet. Except that it is.

The Internet is great for so many things -- getting life-changing information about how to peel a mango, for example. But it's also a great place to meet narcissistic psychopaths. I'm glad I'm not a famous female athlete or feminist author or movie star, because all those people get all day is Trolly McTrollerson Troll-Trolls. Despicable trolls. I would not even begin to try and compare what was said to me this week by an anonymous person with any of the abuse those aforementioned women have to endure just to be on Twitter.

But yes, this week I was told via Twitter to "Shut up, whore" for presumably no reason. I guess I was saying something annoying; I don't really know. I made a "sad trombone" joke about the NCAA tournament...? Four people favorited it. No one else complained. I dunno. The narcissistic psychopathic who contacted me, I think, believes he is funny. I didn't think he was. I blocked and reported him.

Do I think that, in referring to me as a whore, he is literally suggesting that I routinely sell sexual favors out of a minivan on the corner of 86th and Hickman? No. But that is completely NOT THE POINT. That's why he thought I was offended, though. Actually, it's why he thought my husband was offended; I had nothing to say about the matter, but my husband got a teeny tiny bit enraged. (God bless my husband, by the way, for things like this still bothering him; he has been living in a college-educated feminist man bubble for about 37 years. Also: Why am I putting all my family members in bubbles this week?). But of course the implication was obvious: I am the one who is supposed to tell my husband not to worry about it because if I am also offended by the "joke" then I'm just a crazy feminist.

Here's the thing about feminism and the Internet, though: Hardly anyone seems to understand what feminism actually is. (Thank you to The Onion for making this point hilariously last October.) I realize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for podcasts about intersectional feminism or routinely studies up on infant feeding policy, but I do believe we all have a little bit of feminist inside of us. Today I call upon all citizens to embrace one simple piece of advice about relating to today's woman -- every woman, whether she's as nice as Mo'Ne Davis or as cranky as I am:

Don't call a woman you don't know a slut or a whore, even as a joke, even if anyone on Earth thinks it's even remotely funny.

And that is all. Have a nice weekend, everyone.