The Spock of my childhood embraced his human side in small ways over the course of many years. Some episodes would end with Dr. McCoy commenting on how Spock’s green blood might have a little red in it, only for Spock to raise an eyebrow, unconvinced–and insulted.
We were told, of course, that Vulcans had deep emotions in their past and that contemporary Vulcans learned to keep the vestiges in check (except when time traveling and when in heat, of course).
Our modern Spock in the movie reboots can certainly raise an eyebrow. And we’re told his emotions are buried deeply, but what we see is a Spock barely able to control his emotions, getting in fistfights the second someone mentions his mom or is mean to his friend. In fact, this Spock’s brand of emotional control seems only to apply to difficulties in communicating with this girlfriend (women are from Earth, men are from Vulcan).
These recent years have also given us a new Sherlock, one that contemporary understandings of science might allow us to see as not only “a high functioning sociopath” but a high functioning person on the autism spectrum.
I’ll be intentionally vague to avoid spoilers, but the last episode seemed to indicate that this diagnosis might be wrong or incomplete–that PTSD from childhood might have made Sherlock what he is.
In any case, he shares with our new Spock barely hidden emotional currents, including a deep and abiding bromance, especially since he too has violent emotional outbursts.
Spock and Sherlock (Khan) fighting
Even though I find these men often behaving out of character (in my childhood definitions of them), what interests me more now is why so many women–myself included–are interested in them (and in men like them–like our Doctor Whos).
So many geeky girls have wet Wonder Woman panties for guys who are largely incapable of human emotion.
I think our secret fantasy is that these men can only be un(sher)locked by us–that their deep passions could only be spurred by us–the passions both intellectual and romantic–we would be their John/Kirk and Irene/Uhura combined. They would find us “fascinating” and throw their powerful punches when we’re in danger.
That’s not usually how it works.
Many years ago, I was in a relationship with someone I loved very much–it was our third time trying to make it work. My hopes were bolstered one evening–we went to see Star Trek–the reboot. When Spock’s father tells Spock that he married for love, I felt my partner shift in his seat. And I knew that he would finally tell me–after a decade and a half being mostly off and occasionally on–that he loved me.
Later that night he did.
Spock’s dad had given him permission.
Not surprisingly, it was empathy, that thing Spock and Sherlock lack, that finally drove us apart.
He said he had too much–that it upset him for me to be upset. Thus, I was not allowed to be upset–not even about losing my job in the 2009 recession. I suggested that perhaps he should control his being upset rather than telling me I wasn’t allowed to be–but that was dismissed as illogical.
(Other men I’ve been with think it’s hilarious that this man thought I was overly emotional, especially the few on the far other end of the emotional spectrum who’ve found me cold.)
The irony is that what I needed most was empathy–the trait he believed so strongly he had.
I needed him to understand that my life had been very different from his–that there’s a reason I’m a worrier, for example–it’s a logical consequence of growing up with alcoholics–children who feel unsafe often try to control things–to organize, to worry, to plan for the worst.
One of our very worst moments came when he (a fiscal conservative) told me he didn’t understand how I hadn’t caught up with him financially, especially since I worked so hard. (This was 2010–four years out from my degree.)
He grew up in a stable upper middle class home. His parents put him through college, and his dad paid off his student loans for his Masters in business. He had never been married, never had children, and worked in the private sector. He’s healthy.
I grew up very differently, was a single mother starting at 17, and put myself all the way through a PhD, taking out student loans along the way. My stupid body had its first back surgery when I was 25; out of pocket co-pays and therapies were a third of the 18,000 I made that year–and I’ve been working hard to get ahead ever since. I have a job that I love, but it’s in academia, and because of my job title, I can’t even get the raises I deserve. I am proud to have pulled myself up from where I started. I am proud that I can pay my bills, but I’ll never be in the financial place where he is.
But I work really hard.
I agree with him on that, but I needed him to be able to understand, both in terms of economic realities and in terms of empathy, why I hadn’t “caught up.”
I’m probably just too emotional, too human.
And that’s why we’ll always try and fail with those ever so attractive men.
Two guys have been trying to set up dates with me. Both have been annoying because they keep insisting on me going to Sacramento for a first date, leading me to think they’re not really that interested.
Today’s thrilling updates:
I’ve been turning down Guy 1 for a while. I explained to him that I couldn’t see him this weekend because my car is acting up and I don’t want to cross the causeway until I can get it to the shop.
I thought he might propose coming here.
Guy 1: Hi, any car update how about tonight?
Me: I’m not going to be able to make it in to the mechanic until Wednesday.
I’m sensing a great reluctance to come to Davis. 😉
Do you not have a car?
Guy 1: Yea no car these days ..:9
Me: Ah. Wish you’d just told me that in the beginning–I was confused by you asking me out a lot but not seeming willing to cross the causeway for a date.
Now, I’ve gone out on dates with Sacramento guys who didn’t have cars. However, they were upfront about it, rather than skirting the issue until pressed.
Guy 2 has been coming off as strange in a couple of ways–there seems to be an arrogance/control thing, though I could be wrong–there haven’t been all that many messages. He might just seem that way because he only wants to do the minimum to get a date.
At any rate, he kept pushing for Sac, which isn’t always easy for me (and sometimes annoying because if I have a doc appt in Sac during the day, I really don’t want to head back there for a first date, esp for someone who isn’t exactly smooth in his courting).
Guy 2 [a while ago]: When can u come to sac
I thought I should signal my displeasure:
Me: I’m not sure. I’ll be in Sac later this week, but I’ll have my son with me–we’re going to a show.
Neither of us seems too eager/able to make a special trip across the causeway to see the other person.
[Many days pass. Cut to today.]
Guy 2: Hey u. Would u like to meet
Me: I’d meet if you wanted to come to Davis, especially since my car is acting up and I would want to take it to the mechanic before I took it across the causeway. But my impression is that you aren’t keen on heading this way.
And then I postulate to myself that two guys are having the same underlying issue, so I send another message.
Me: Or is it that you don’t have a car?
Guy 2: Lol no i do have a car
I have a bad headache today, but is there some pattern I’m missing?
Perhaps understanding human behavior is futile.
Also, on this headache day, I would like to say I didn’t send a message meant for car Guy 1 to car Guy 2.
I guess we can’t always live our dreams.
Recently, a guy struck up a conversation with me on OKC. He then mentioned he was going to try Zoosk.
I pointed him to my column on how much that site sucks.
A few days later, I got this:
I had a few strange responses on Zoosk, so I read your blog, which may be the first blog I’ve actually completed. I had no idea you speak Spanish ( que bueno). Yeah guys suck at chatting, and we are from mars. I have said or chatted “how was your day”, simply because I’m lazy, and most likely will never receive a reply.
Well back to my situation, I had two responses that were almost identical.
“I’m really busy now packing”. I’m thinking “So”, packing isn’t a 24/7 job.
Maybe something is fishy with Zoosk.
30 bucks down but not the end of the world.
[his name here]
For a guy to even write more than 2 words is an honest attempt at communication.
I wrote a long answer about how he and other men were causing their own problem–we don’t answer, because they’re lazy. They justify being lazy cause we don’t answer.
(I didn’t bother with the Mars bullshit. I don’t think men are incapable of writing a profile of a message or that all women are master communicators, but it didn’t seem worthwhile to enter into that particular debate here.)
I’d say for the most part, picture is all I look at, and attraction dictates effort. Second thing I look at is body type. Then determine how old the pictures could be. If the profile is too long, I just skip it. I have no desire to be a therapist.
I’ve never seen a long profile and thought a guy wanted free therapy, but then again, I have read more than one blog post in its entirety.
This only strengthens my prejudice against those lazy messages. And now this guy’s conversation with me is over. Sigh.
Back in the saddle.
So I disabled my profile for Fall quarter, due to a combination of being crazy busy, continually leaving the country, and thinking I might have found someone (I did–someone great, just not someone who could work out long term).
My profile is back up, and the adventure continues.
A guy: How’s your week going? Did you recover from the holidays?
Those eyes and smile are stunning
Me: Your profile says you’re seeing someone, your picture has a wedding ring in it, and you aren’t showing your face.
So you’re not single, right?
A guy: I am not single but not marrie[d]
Me: I’m looking for a long-term partner, not to be someone’s secret.
A guy: Ok. Hope you have a good day
And that’s been about the best of it . . . Sigh.
Dear Alabama Representatives,
I was so excited when I saw that you’re putting forth a bill requiring bathroom attendants in bathrooms open to transgender people and that other states are putting forth similar legislation!
I’m sure you designed this bill to protect god-fearing citizens while avoiding the unpleasantness (lost tourist dollars, an ousted governor) the bathroom bill in North Carolina caused. After all, this lets anyone pee, so we certainly can’t be accused of prejudice!
Something has to be done! I mean, we’ve not had any legislation about who can use what bathroom since the bathrooms were invented (by a good Christian, surely) until recently. Do you remember what it was like? I mean, I never had a problem in a bathroom, but I shudder now to think that the person in the stall next to me, who was passing toilet paper under the divider when I discovered I didn’t have any, could have had any type of genitalia at birth! If I’d thought about it then, I’m sure I would have wiped with my underwear and then left my stall commando, like the lady of good breeding that I am, rather than risk talking to a person of the opposite sex!
However, I’m sure you’re aware that this bill doesn’t go far enough. Bathrooms designed for single sexes won’t be attended at all! How are we going to know if people are going out of their way to find a bathroom with an attendant instead of just using the single sex bathrooms in their town?
Say we call up a citizen for jury duty. At this time, transgender people can still serve on juries and vote, and we would hate to discriminate as long as these people are still legally citizens (you’re going to fix this soon, I presume). Our courthouse will likely have single sex bathrooms–we value law and order. Perhaps there’s a trans person serving–a guy, let’s say. He would have to hold it all day. He, of course, couldn’t use the women’s room in the courthouse, but we don’t really want a guy who looks like a woman in the men’s room.
That’s distracting and dangerous.
There have already been cases of actual women being attacked in women’s bathrooms because they didn’t look feminine enough. I mean, that’s partly their own fault, of course. Why did God invent makeup if not to help us out?
I’m sure once you think about it, you’ll agree that every bathroom needs a monitor!
Please consider this letter my application.
I will be able to bring many desirable qualities to this job.
First, I understand that to do a good job, I cannot judge on superficial traits. Have you seen trans porn? I’m been watching it a lot lately to understand these sick and twisted individuals. There are LOTS of men who pass as women, until they take off their panties.
Each body going into a bathroom will have to be checked–thoroughly!
I’ll be good at this for several reasons.
A. I do not get tired of looking at genitalia, as evidenced by my capacity to watch trans porn for hours and hours at a time.
B. I know that some men “tuck” their penises, so I might need to handle people’s genitalia to make sure it’s in the correct position. I’m willing to make this sacrifice.
C. From my extensive porn viewing, I also know that some men have micropenises (I’m sure you’ve seen a few around the capital!) and that some women have giant clits. Even with handling, it might not be possible to tell the difference. I’m willing to make an educated guess, though it might require a bit more than handling. If I think I’m doing a check of a clit, but semen comes out, I’ll know it’s a man and let him pass into the correct bathroom, confident that he’ll be unmolested by perverts once inside his stall.
D. Speaking of micropenises, I’m very good at keeping a straight-face. This will perhaps be my most valuable bathroom monitoring skill.
E. I’m also happy to keep a picture book of venereal diseases with me when I work, so that if I see something strange, the bathroom goer and I can match up the symptoms. (A lot of people are really concerned by your blessed work to defund Planned Parenthood and to separate people from their access to health care–regular checkups by bathroom monitors every time someone needs to go to Walmart will surely make people more comfortable about losing access to those egghead doctors.)
Of course, my physical examination still won’t be enough, which is why I’ll need to check everyone’s birth certificate when they come in–the original copy.
And I won’t consider those “Certificates of Live Birth”s! I remember when Obama tried to pull one over on us by showing us one of those!
My parents say I was born in Arizona. After learning of Obama’s deception, I checked–my own form has “Certificate of Live Birth” on the top. My parents won’t admit that they’re hiding something, so I’ve stopped speaking to them.
Don’t worry, though–I’m a red-blooded American, which is why I know transgender bathroom problems are the most important issues America faces–and I know you lawmakers agree, since you spend almost as much time thinking about other people’s genitalia as I do!
I’m going to get naturalized, though, just in case I was actually born somewhere else, if I can get my immigration attorney to return my calls–he keeps calling me crazy.
He’s probably worried that if I were born in another country, and then got lied to by my parents my whole life, that I won’t be able to fully embrace America.
In all honesty, I sometimes worry about that when I’m taking a porn break. I tell you what, though, I really hope I wasn’t born in Finland. They’re communist, of course, with their healthcare and whatnot. They probably think they’re better than us just because their kids always test the best. Well, as Donald Trump says, “I love the uneducated!” I learned once too that those wily Finns only have one pronoun.
Can you imagine? My daughter, if she were a Finn, could come home from school and say, “My teacher tried to teach us science again. Hän needs to read the Bible more!” How could I possibly be expected to understand this statement without knowing what kind of genitalia the teacher has?!
Speaking of genitalia again, did you know that 1 out of 1000 people is born with both kinds? The internet says they’re intersex–and that it’s actually a chromosome issue, instead of a choice.
I sometimes don’t know what to think about that. God doesn’t make mistakes, after all. Maybe those mothers took birth control or thought about taking birth control, and God punished them?
We’re going to have to figure out what to do with them. They probably have to pee sometimes too. This may require a whole new bill.
Also, while you’re thinking about bills, I would like you to consider another oversight in this one–as I mentioned before, we lived for ages without laws about who could be in what bathroom, but that means gay people have been in them with us this whole time!
If a girl pretending to be a guy can’t be allowed in the men’s room, why do gay men get to go in there? They might try to look at other men’s genitals, even though they aren’t self-trained bathroom monitors!!!
By now, you’ll have to admit it will take a very skilled worker to fill this position.
I am that worker, someone who understands that good Americans’ privacy in the bathroom is of the utmost importance! That’s why I am going to start checking genitalia right away. I trust you’ll be impressed by my initiative in this matter and will be contacting about my compensated employment soon!
The sooner the better–I really need to be able to write off my porn subscriptions as business expenses.
First, the tips:
1. If you’re doing anything with beans, get dried beans. Put them and a lot of water in the crock pot overnight–turned off. This will soften the beans and they’ll cook beautifully while you’re at work.
2. Instead of using a blender at the end of recipes that call for them, invest in an immersion blender. You will become evangelical about it.
3. If your soup or stew calls for rice, and you want it to come out great, buy minute rice. Put it in your crock pot stew 10-15 minutes before you want to serve.
Okay–on to the recipes! (I’m sorry, by the way, about the way most of the recipe sites I’m linking to are organized. You have to scroll a LONG way down to the actual recipe, and pop ads get in the way, but I don’t want to steal people’s recipes, either.)
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup. This is a favorite of my son.
Black Bean Soup. Book group and campus people love this one. It’s vegan, but you can have toppings: cheese, ham/bacon, sour cream, etc. I recommend green onions on top in any case. With this and other bean recipes, have some wine vinegar on the table–just a sprinkle refreshes the flavors.
Curried Lentils with Chicken and Potatoes (from Melissa Bender). So good, and warming in cold weather.
Jambalaya. I do this in the crock pot, though the recipe is for the stove top. See the rice hint above. I also add okra, cause it’s friggin’ jambalaya. If you use shrimp, add them relatively late. The trick to Jambalaya, though, is to do it the old-fashioned way–throw in whatever meat you have. I always use ham and sausage, and I usually throw in a frozen or fresh chicken breast and a frozen fillet of white fish if I have one lying around the freezer.
Red Beans and Rice. Make the rice on the stove or in the rice cooker. Soak the beans first, as described above, and sprinkle with wine vinegar at the end.
Basically, I do almost all the soups/stews I could do on the stove in the crock pot: chili, split-pea soup, white bean soup, chicken soup, vegetable soup, daal, pork tomatillo soup, potato soup, broccoli soup, etc. If you’re doing a pot luck, you can make the soup on the stove, but then take it to the party, or, in my case, the all day grading session, and leave perfection on low.
In addition to the recipes listed above, here are more favorites that book groups and colleagues alike have wanted the recipes for:
Creamy Tomato Soup. You know, the kind kids like. I add basil.
Spiced Carrot Soup with Lime. The boy and I decided this needed a little bit of rice and some coconut milk. We serve it with naan.
Indian Spiced Corn Soup. This is now my favorite corn soup.
Chickpea Vegetable Stew. This can be made vegetarian, or, if you’re making it for my son, you can make it more kid friendly by leaving out the chickpeas.
Yes, I know my son is no longer a kid. And he’s not picky in all the traditional kid ways. He doesn’t like beans, but love broccoli. He eats Japanese, Thai, and Indian all the time, but won’t eat some of the more traditional “American things.”
Just the other day, he had falafel for dinner with his friends. Since he’d been SO picky as a child, he asked if I was surprised.
“No. I know it would take something really exotic like an omelette or an apple pie to throw you now.”
In the summer of 2015, Melissa and I got into Iceland in the morning one day. We stocked up on duty free alcohol at the airport (as the guidebook suggested) and tried to stay up to reset our clocks. We breakfasted, saw the Opera House, the famous ship sculpture (The Sun Voyager), walked down the shopping road (which, in one place, had a bunch of lost gloves all huddled together on fencing), hit a hot spring pool, where we learned about a magic swimsuit spinner/dryer, checked into our air b&b (we were expecting a room in a two-bedroom apartment, but we had a whole two-bedroom apartment, centrally located), went out to dinner at a mediterranean place (with the best baba ganoush I’d ever had), and then finally collapsed.
The Opera House from the outside
Opera House from the inside
The Sun Voyager
Monkey in the living room
Thirteen hours later, we woke up and went to the world famous penis museum. I have to say, most penises are gross, especially when in jars. I have now seen many whale penises and many mouse ones. There was only one human one, of a self-proclaimed lothario. A virgin has promised his, so we can see the contrast. And the man with the world’s biggest has promised his as well–they had a picture. It was frightening. One of my favorite things was a jar holding an elf penis (the jar looked empty; Icelandic elves are invisible unless they choose to let you see them (there are several myths about this, including one in which Eve accidentally curses some of her children into invisibility when they are dirty and she doesn’t want God to think her a slovenly mother)). And I learned things, too. For example, I had no idea that almost every other species not only has a dick bone–but a clit bone, too!!!
art at Gló
After having our fill of penises, we found our favorite lunch place: Gló. Highly recommended. Mostly vegetarian. Very fresh. Enormous servings.
Then we ventured to the remains of a viking settlement, where we saw the excavation of a longhouse that would have held a family and 10+ animals.
And it just went on like that–beautifully, amazingly.
4 of the 5 beers
This was on the wall in the hotel across from the church–The Simpsons is everywhere!
The back of the Leifur Eiríksson statue, which is in front of the church.
the teddy bear room
melting glacier: see the drips?
Then she got to panic while I woke up enough to realize that it didn’t matter how fast we got dressed–we were missing it.
We decided to do our own tour–the circle is merely a route to see the natural wonders. We rented a car, and I navigated. The very first parliament in the world was out in the open, in Iceland, and we got to see where it happened. (Do not go to the visitor center–it’s up a steep hill with nothing but pay toilets. The cool part, the waterfall, is at the parliament site.)
One lingering question from the markers around the site: “The worst forms of incest” got the worst punishments. What are the worst forms? (If you were a woman being put to death for whatever reason you got to be executed, they drowned you.)
The golden circle road is beautiful, with goats and rams and cows and horses and purple lupins.
Since we weren’t with the tour, we could follow the my pocket guide book’s recommendation for lunch: Efstidalur II–a working dairy farm. I had beef from their cows, trout from their river, ice cream from their dairy (a wall was glass against the barn, so we could watch cows sleep and hang out while eating their milk product).
The other sites along the way are The Gullfuss (golden) Waterfall (rumored to have gold coins lost somewhere) and the geysir area. Geysers are named after a particular one–Geysir, which isn’t currently active. But there are lots, including mini geysir and Srokkur (the churner).
We also learned about Sigiour Tomasdottir, an early environmentalist and activist.
I would like to say that we learned the answer to this riddle: how many PhDs does it take to get the shower to work in our apartment? All we know is that the answer was more than two.
All in all, Iceland was wonderful. We’ll always miss it and long to return.
This wheelchair was meant for me, but I didn’t use it.
Monkey making friends
Pasta in a crock pot? Really?
Yes. Oh, yes.
Of course, you already know that you can make a good marinara/spaghetti sauce in the crock pot, leaving it to simmer all day, putting it atop stove-top made pasta when you get home. But pasta can go into the crock pot, too.
How about enough ravioli casserole for a crowd?
What about some mac and cheese (with or without bacon) waiting for you on a rainy day? This one is by Trisha Yearwood. (You can’t leave these dishes on all day, but still.)
I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet I could make this sausage and tortellini soup in the crock pot if I use frozen tortellini . . . or, I could throw the pasta in at the end if it’s fresh (more soups in a blog to come).
A simple chicken with noodles? 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (can use frozen); 2 cans cream of chicken soup; 1 stick of butter; 2 15 oz cans chicken broth; 24 oz. frozen egg noodles. Directions: Cook chicken, soup, butter, and broth in crock–pot on low for 6-7 hours. Take chicken out and shred. Put chicken back in; add noodles and cook on low for 2 hours. Stir a few times while cooking.
You could do these chicken riggies the same way, instead of cooking the noodles separately.
But what everyone asks for, again and again, is crock pot lasagna: Spray the crock pot with pam. Layer marinara sauce, no boil noodles (yes, you’ll have to break them, and the layering will be uneven), alfredo sauce, no boil noodles. Repeat until 2/3rds full. Top with mozzarella and cook on low 4-6 hours. Any cheap alfredo sauce will do. When I’m not making my own marinara, I prefer to use this one: Enjoy!!!
We all know the ways in which 2016 has sucked.
I’ve cried a lot more this year, over the deaths of heroes, over the death of reasonable elections, over the fear of how much worse it might get.
But there were good things in 2016.
Melissa Bender and I had a book come out.
I spoke at conferences in Spain, Sweden, London, San Diego, Portland, and Chicago (twice).
I saw Love and Information, The Deep Blue Sea, The Suicide, Aubergine, Keith Lowell Jensen, Emo Philips, Blackberry Winter, Macbeth, Igudesman & Joo, Mr. Burns, Women of Will, the Cashore Marionettes, Disgraced, To Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday, Frankenstein, Latin History for Morons with John Leguizamo, The Totalitarians, the opening of the Shrem Museum, and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips.
I did guest lectures and interviews and stage talk backs. I taught courses that I love, films that I love, plays that I love, creative nonfiction that I love.
I taught 15 courses, got my first grad student through her PhD, mentored and performed with my stand-up students, got another Atwood journal out, started prepping for next year’s Oxford course, ran a program, and got chosen to run another.
I made old family favorites and tried new recipes, including my first shepherd’s pie, my first souffle, and my first carnitas. I made tons of soups and stews and proved the worth of my crock pot time and again.
When I heard that Carrie Fisher had a heart attack on a flight, I thought, “Oh, no–not her, too. Please, no.”
I felt really hopeless about it, though. Of course 2017 would take her away from us.
Now, a few days later, I remind myself that she’ll never be really gone–never be forgotten.
Like every geeky girl, I desperately wanted to be Princess Leia. I had Star Wars memorized. My favorite shirt was an iron-on with the Princess.
Once, I was wearing it when I was sick.
I threw up and then sobbed so uncontrollably that my mother thought I must have cracked a rib. Eventually, I was able to settle down enough to tell her that the crying was because my Princess Leia shirt was ruined. My mother was able to reassure me that the vomit would wash out.
When I outgrew the shirt, I didn’t want to let it go. One day, I decided to turn it into a pillow. Now, I don’t really know how to sew, but I knew I could stumble my way through sewing up the ends. I didn’t know what went into pillows, so I filled it with cotton balls.
As soon as I did so, I realized that must not be what’s in pillows, but the project was almost done!
That pillow has survived a lot of trauma and a lot of moves, including one across the country. It currently lives with the R2D2 in my room.
As I grew up, I began to see Carrie Fisher in new ways–as a writer, a powerful actress, a survivor, and an advocate for mental health.
(Those of us who’d read so much about her relationship with her mother were less surprised by her mother following her into death–it was completely in character.)
I think the most powerful way in which I connected with Fisher, though, was in the use of comedy as a coping mechanism. I’ve often joked that my family crest should have a Byron quote: And if I laugh at any mortal thing, tis that I may not weep.
But I could just as easily use my favorite thing she ever said: If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true.