Week 50 – Postgrad Now


#346 Christmas Deck’d

11 December 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Oh bargain tree, oh bargain tree.

Your diseases saved us money.

It’s our first Christmas tree since getting married, and now our house is now all properly decked out for Christmas. I like this look. Even our Baymax and Ron Swanson prints look so festive.

#347 Norwegian Potato Porridge

12 December 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

When I was planning out what meals to make over the course of the year, I mostly thought about seasons and what sort of foods go well as the weather changes. For the most part I did a good job. Then I realize I’ve gone really heavy into Scandinavian type foods the past few weeks. I must’ve gotten the severity of Oregon’s winters mixed up with Norway.

While I’m glad we don’t have as much winter harshness as the Nordic states, I’ll gladly welcome in some of their cuisine, as I did with this potato porridge. Came out a bit on the thick side, but when it’s chilly out, nobody complains.

I did do something right by adding bacon. Sometimes a starchy potato based meal just asks to be matched with a salty pork of some kind.

#348 Going Somewhere

13 December 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“That morning, we might have learned a boring lesson about foresight and preparation. We did not learn such a lesson. We did not learn so much anything, actually. But we did remember, both of us having long ago imagined the best thing about growing up would be getting to eat candy whenever we wanted. And now, we agreed, we’d been so, so right.”

–Brian Benson

Picked up this book at the PDX Powell’s while I was going somewhere. (Little Rock, I think) I will read most any given book about people challenging themselves to some sort of unconventional journey. Biking the perimeter of Africa. Walking the Appalachian Trail. In this case, biking from Wisconsin to Oregon.

As you might imagine, the Northern Plains offer large stretches of nothing, and this book was pretty tightly focused on the two characters’ journey. Minimal flashbacks, spiritual themes, or side encounters with characters possessing crazy life stories. In most cases I’d like more of those.

To Benson’s credit, his writing is skilled enough to still keep me engaged and empathetic throughout the story. The agonizing Montana winds felt very real, as did the evolution his romantic relationship took on the road.

#349 Attack of the Frost Giants

14 December 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

They say that many Native American tribes have hundreds of words for different kinds of snow. And I understand why. Not all snow is the same. There is the nice powdery, fluffy kind that is on the ground in Portland right now, and there is this ice-everywhere attrocity that we’ve got in Eugene.

All through the night branches kept cracking and crashing down. A tree completely toppled onto the parking spot next to mine. Beignet wouldn’t stop barking with all the other dogs in the neighborhood.

The power went out, and the Wi-fi was out for the next fifteen hours. The lights shut off just as a character in the book I’m reading died.

When I woke up this morning I went on a little walk to see how bad it was and whose cars were spared. That Civic was completely landed on. A tree landed perpendicularly across six parking spots that I usually take. It looked like some ice apocalypse.

It was also a little pretty. But not too pretty.

#350 Loving

15 December 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Thanks to all the ice and snow, Deanna and I got to enjoy a day at home and at the movies. Loving definitely makes my short list for favorite movies from this year.

Speaking of, here’s that list.

Arrival – It’s the linguistics-nerd, sci-fi puzzle film we never knew we needed. It’s Spielberg’s whimsy, Christopher Nolan’s inventiveness, and Terrence Malick’s visuals all tied into one story.

Loving – How perfect is it that the couple whose case ended up setting the Supreme Court’s ultimate ruling in favor of interracial marriage had the last name Loving? Obvious answer, it’s too, too perfect.

Zootopia – A second animated feature… but some of my favorite movies in recent years have been Disney/Pixar movies, so maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising. Those were some socially-conscious cartoon rabbits.

#351 5th Street Christmas

16 December 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’ve been paying more attention to the difference between Christmas music and Advent music lately. The latter focuses on waiting and a somber sort of hope. It’s why when I’ve heard sugary versions of Holly Jolly and Sleigh Ride (or Twisted Sister’s 12 Days) a few too many times, O Come, O Come Emmanuel really hits the spot.

That song, like many African American Gospel songs or East Asian and African standards, uses the pentatonic scale- one that creates a feeling of tension, unrest, and having not arrived. It’s like melodies speak on behalf of cultures or something.

Advent will never make complete sense to someone who hasn’t seen oppression or injustice in some way. The oppressed were its original audience.

The Book of Common Prayer led me to reading the well known “to us a child is born, to us a son is given” part of Scripture. “And the government will be on his shoulders.” What stood out to me, though, was the part that came right before.

“You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.”

That is most definitely music our world really needs to hear this year.

#352 Hamilton-ish

17 December 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This weekend, we treated ourselves to a showing of Hamilton! But since we’re really on a budget, it was a high school performance of Hamilton. And since the school didn’t quite have the rights to Hamilton, it was actually about 70% of the musical plus random other songs from Waitress, Rent, and Chicago.

About a year ago I fell in love with this musical. I wasn’t expecting everyone else to fall in love similarly, otherwise we would’ve been set to see it in Chicago or New York. But thankfully it’s massive success means that high schools are giving it a go. NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour mused that there would be some pretty awful high school performances of the show. This wasn’t one of them. The kids were pretty good. Of course, Oregon doesn’t have the diversity of Hamilton, but the show was a great time.