I've been neglecting this space. Luckily, it was for good reason. I just started working full-time for a company I really enjoy working for. I'm still trying to find a rhythm with non-work stuff, but I feel like I'm starting to make some headway.

Even though I haven't been posting much here, I haven't neglected writing completely. I recently wrote a post called "5 Tips That Will Make You A Better Writer" for work that I'm pretty proud of.

I also just recently read "Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age" by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, which I found really compelling. I appreciated the personal touch Taffy brought to the story as a person who has tried many different diets, but I also found the dissection of how diet companies and a thinness-obsessed culture have coopted parts of the fat positive movement and started using "body positivity" to sell the same products they've always sold. I have a whole heck of a lot to say about that, so I'll likely be getting up a post about it in the next few weeks.

It’s been a week since I graduated now. I’m only just now starting to feel like I’m coming up for air. I’m still trying to catch up on sleep, still trying to work out a routine for myself. It doesn’t quite feel like freedom yet, but I know it will soon.

I’m trying to figure out my work situation and finances right now and try to put myself in a position where Future Me is comfortable. I’m also trying to give Present Me a break, because Present Me seems permanently exhausted and always just on the verge of a cold. (Dear God, please don’t let it really be a cold.)

On the positive side, I’ve had a lot more time to do things I feel like doing. I’m already halfway through the latest season of House of Cards (it’s killing me, y’all) and I finally got to do some of the main quests in Dragon Age: Inquisition, which I have been playing for 2+ years now! It feels really good to get home and actually relax. No worries about assignment deadlines or applications or papers or projects. My Me Time feels like real Me Time and not time stolen away from me doing productive things. It’s incredible. I spent my Saturday playing Don’t Starve Together and getting my teeth cleaned, which is an ideal Saturday.

Oh, I also started reading Farm City by Novella Carpenter. It’s my latest public transit read and I’m really enjoying it. Definitely an light, easy read that’s right up my alley. Urban gardening? Squat gardening on land that wouldn’t be used otherwise? Creating community with gardening?? Wonderful. I have some issues with some of the implications in the novel re: gentrification, but there’s a lot of stuff that makes it a worthwhile read for me. Definitely check it out.

Also, speaking of reading: I haven’t finished it yet, but I read most of The Abyss Surrounds Us for work and absolutely loved it. It’s a combination of a future and futuristic world that isn’t necessarily any more dystopic than the present world, but still extremely different, kaiju, futuristic pirates, and lesbians. I wish it had come out when I was younger, but I was really glad I got the pleasure of reading it now.

All of this to say: things are not perfect, but they are good, and they feel like they are going to get better.

I made sushi!

And it didn’t turn out half bad!

I used Alton Brown’s sushi rice recipe (x). As I made it, I was really worried it was going to be way too salty and wouldn’t have enough vinegar flavor. I was kind of right – by itself the rice tasted way too salty – but once it had cooled and I had put it into rolls and combined it with all the other ingredients, it didn’t taste bad at all. I definitely still want to tweak the recipe and figure how to get it exactly the way I prefer my sushi rice, but this recipe is a great base.

I ended up putting thinly sliced cucumbers and carrots, imitation crab, and canned tuna into the rolls and they turned out really wonderful considering how quickly I was able to put them together. Honestly, slicing the veggies probably took the longest. (I’m really bad at uniformly slicing anything.) The actual process of rolling everything together was surprisingly easy. I’m planning on making more this week and definitely want to take photos and share the process. I had always been really daunted by the idea of making sushi rolls and I want to show that it’s a lot easier than you’d think.

But for now I need to try and study for my last two sit-down finals and try not to panic. (I just keep telling myself I’m gonna be okay. I have my cap and gown and honors cord already. Even if I do miserably I’m gonna walk across that stage and have my degree. It’s all okay.)

 

Just gonna put this here…

Mostly just so that when I get out of Finals Hell in a few weeks I have a little road map for myself and how I wanna spend my summer. Freedom from academia is so close, y’all, and I’m dying to taste it.

I’ve really been wrestling with whether or not I want to go to grad school right away. There’s a part of me that feels like I should–particularly the part that has already applied and been accepted to two different programs, the part of me that listens to my mom, the part of me that has been excitedly telling family and friends about the possibility of going to school in Ireland in the fall–but there’s a much bigger part of me that is just… tired. I really don’t feel like I could give grad school my all right now. I am academically exhausted. Grad school is definitely something I want to do. I really want to get my Masters and maybe someday even my PhD. I absolutely love school and I don’t think I’ll be able to just have my BA and be done with it. There’s a lot of people telling me “if you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it” but they’re all people who don’t really get pleasure out of school and got a degree to have one. I went to college mostly just because where else was I going to be able to spend four years talking about literature and honing my writing, my research skills, and my ability to read and think critically?

It’s a lot to think about.

But regardless of whether I go back this fall or not, I do want to have some stuff for myself to do and look forward to. I want to spend more time at the library this summer. I have a lot of books on hand that I would like to read/finish, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s come out over the last four years that I’ve missed because I’ve been too busy reading books for class. It’ll be really good to just walk through the stacks and find some cool stuff this summer. I wanna catch up on Walking Dead comics and read more Thomas Harris books.

I also want to spend more time outside. I haven’t been to the beach in years, and the last time I went it was because I was an emotional wreck and seeking solace from sunshine and ocean sounds. I’m ready to go when I’m having a good day. I definitely want to take advantage of Falling Fruit and see what I can find in the parks and slightly more nature-(re)claimed areas of the city. I wanna learn a lot more about plants (yay, more library time!), particularly wild plants. If I end up staying, I might even see if they’ll give me my old garden plot back at Brooks. That spot was amazing and gave me so much space to work with and I’d love to get to use it again, especially since I’d have more time on my hands.

I also want to try and get the apartment in better order. I reorganized the kitchen a while back, but it’s time to do it again, and also scrub the insides of the cabinets, which have this gross film of honey all over them. I wanna get organizers for the spices (we have SO MANY SPICES and we use them all on a pretty regular basis, but it’s so hard to find stuff because it’s all jumbled together) and some can racks.

Also want to prepare an emergency kit/bug-out bag. This is San Francisco and earthquakes happen. I’ve only experienced one while I’ve been here–which I slept through completely–but we are long overdue for a big one and I want to be ready for it when it comes.

And, of course, I want to start looking for work. What that work ends up being depends a lot on whether or not I’ll be staying here or not, but I am looking forward to finding something that suits me. I’ve worked through college so it’ll be a weird experience to be able to walk into places and ask for a little more because I have a degree. I’m so used to having to accept whatever they give me, but now I feel like I have a teeny bit more leverage for negotiation.

I’m excited and tired and really ready to get my life started.

Foraging in San Francisco (and Anywhere!)

Summer makes me super nostalgic. I start remembering things like picking blackberries with my cousins by the side of the dirt road leading to my grandma’s house in the Santa Cruz mountains and start wanting to go to the beach. This summer I gave in to my nostalgia more than I usually do and started looking up places to pick blackberries in San Francisco. Which, to someone who has not lived in San Francisco, might seem like a pointless question to ask – why would there be blackberries, or any kind of wild produce, anywhere in the city?

It’s true that the kind of foraging that is easier in more suburban and rural areas is a little bit harder in San Francisco. We don’t have nearly as many “wild” areas that are more natural than man-made. A quick stroll through some of the more wooded areas of Golden Gate Park, though, and it’s clear that San Francisco has all kinds of produce growing wild. The hardest part is knowing exactly where to look for what you want.

This is where sites like FallingFruit.org come in. Falling Fruit is a crowd-sourced project where people can post the locations of foods that they have found growing wild and share them with the rest of the world. (They also have an app for both iPhones and Androids! I’m not sure how much it is on the Android, but it’s $3.99 in the App Store.) And people have posted nearly two thousand different kinds of foods – mostly edible plants, but also things like crawdads and abalone – and their locations all over the world.

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(Most of) San Francisco on the Falling Fruit map

This is a super useful tool for novice foragers like me, especially ones who live in urban areas and don’t really know where to start. I now know that there are three specific locations where I can find blackberries within San Francisco’s city limits just based on a really easy search, and I know that if I ever find wild produce elsewhere, I can post the location to Falling Fruit so that others are easily able to locate it. Gotta pay it forward.

In my research, I also found another really neat site that I’m hoping to make some use of in the future: RipeNear.me.

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The RipeNear.me homepage

This site seems to be a bit more in its infancy (my editor-self had to give it a chance despite some typos throughout the site), but is still a really useful tool if you’re interested in trying to find food (often free, very cheap, or up for barter) grown by your neighbors. I’m about to post some pineapple sage that we have growing in our plot that produces way more than we could ever consume ourselves. I’m hoping to eventually put up some tomatoes this summer, and maybe other produce in future years. The thing I’m most excited about is the one beekeeper in the city who has put her hive’s products up for barter. I’m crossing fingers that I can get some local beeswax from her in exchange for some of the beeswax-based perfumes and bath products I’ve made.

Beer Trap: The Latest Weapon in the Snail War

Finally got back to the garden after a week of heavy rain. We just planted some new plant babies recently (dragon carrots, tomatoes, a few different kinds of lettuces, and kale) and I was really excited to see how they were doing. More specifically, I was excited to see whether the beer trap we’d set before the rain started had worked and actually captured some slugs.

It did.

And it was freakin gross.

If you’ve never heard of a beer trap but are curious about how they work, I’d recommend looking here (x). It’s a WikiHow article, but it’s pretty informative. Basically, you stick a shallow, smooth container filled with cheap beer into a snail- and slug-infested garden. The slimeballs can’t resist the scent of the yeast and crawl into the container and drown themselves in cheap, yeasty alcohol.

I’ll spare you photos (I couldn’t bring myself to take any to be honest), but it was… nasty. But! The beer trap worked! Some plant babies still got nommed on, but as far as I could tell that was caterpillars or other pests rather than the snails we usually deal with. I’m going to have to research other forms of pest control since we do our best to keep our garden organic and free of pesticides and other contaminants. I’m happy with the trap for the moment. I’m still trying out other natural alternatives to pesticides, like spreading crushed eggshells all over the surface of the garden (snails hate that) or lining the edge of the raised bed with copper, but since the beer trap is a pretty cheap, simple solution, I’m not about to try and fix what isn’t broken.