Categories
racism terrorism

Defending the Indefensible

If you’re thinking about jumping into someone’s comments to try to defend three armed men chasing down and killing an unarmed man running on a public street… just don’t.

Their whiteness doesn’t give them authority or agency over brown bodies. Slavery is over. Jim Crow is supposedly over.

They had zero authority to do whatever it is they said they were trying to do.

Before you say anything, and I mean anything, examine what you’re really thinking and why you feel you need to defend them; interrogate your own learned racism.

Read Understanding and Dismantling Racism. Read The Half Has Never Been Told.

Until then, please choose to stay quiet. No one needs your opinion, especially not people hurting over yet another case of white men who think they’re judge, jury and executioner.

Mourn with those who mourn. May justice be done.

Categories
current events daily tedium

One Month and Change

I left the house yesterday for the first time in over 35 days. It was just to take some soup to my in-laws, but it felt weird hopping in the car and driving. Jen’s been doing all the errands because I’ve been working, and since I’m already a mess thanks to my asthma and allergies, it’s better I reduce my exposure to everyting.

I thought I’d write more during this. I like the idea of keeping a journal during this pandemic to look back on. That didn’t happen. I think mostly because not much is happening. The days all kind of bleed together. I have little projects, but nothing I really feel like talking about. I don’t feel like doing more baking shows. My experimentation in the kitchen is now mostly trying to come up with creative ways to use up almost-expired canned goods.

I love that people are being creative within the constraints of our new reality. I don’t know where we’ll end up after this, but I’m hoping that creativity doesn’t stop.

I wish I had something useful to say. I’m just trying to keep going.

Categories
current events

You Are Forgiven

Ever since I discovered Hadestown (the album, not the broadway play, which I would love to see), I’ve been listening to a lot of Anaïs Mitchell. This song came up in a playlist today and it brought tears to my eyes.

I couldn’t tell you why.

Or, maybe I can.

I’m tired, and frustrated, and sad, and angry… and those feelings are stuck in my head and heart. I’m not sleeping much. I’m working a lot… and work is hard, because almost everyone has stopped hiring.

I know I’m lucky. I still have a job. Millions don’t. And maybe that’s why. I’m also feeling ungrateful.

May we all be forgiven for our uncharitable and unhelpful, but totally human, emotions right now.

Categories
baking Baking With Kevin

Baking With Kevin: Sourdough

Due to the outrageous demands of about three people, I did another episode of Baking With Kevin, this time about sourdough and walking through my all-time favorite recipe (including the tweaks I’ve made to it over the years I’ve been making it).

This was my first time trying out Facebook Live and other than the video being portrait, it wasn’t horrible. I could actually see peoples’ comments and questions as I was working, which was easier than the previous Google Meet-based (OK, totally calling it Meetspace from now on) episode. It’s still really weird essentially talking to myself.

I posted these to the Facebook event before I started the video, because the process takes so long, the only live demo part was dividing the dough and forming loaves. So, now you get to see them, and the video at the bottom! Lucky you.

A levain sitting in the mixing bowl waiting to get turned into bread dough
I mix up my levain in the mixing bowl, because… why dirty more than one bowl?
The inside of a mixing bowl full of shaggy bread dough.
After mixing all the ingredients together, I let it autolyse (give the flour more time to absorb the water) for an hour, which is twice as long as the recipe calls for. I’ve found it makes kneading a lot easier.
A shaggy mess of kneaded dough in the mixing bowl.
This is what my dough looks like after kneading. It should be sticky. I usually pry it out of the bowl with my hard spatula.
Freshly kneaded dough in an oiled bowl
Hey, there’s my awesome spatula! And some dough ready to bulk ferment!
A tripod, bowl with a towl over it, spatula, two brotforms and a dutch oven on my kitchen counter
Everying in its place, ready to film the episode.
Two gorgeous loaves of pain au levain on a cooling rack.
And here’s the final product! I meant to take a picture of the cuts before baking, but I forgot. Next time.

The next episode will probably be Michael Ruhlman’s sandwich bread, since so many people are baking now just to pass the time, and avoid going to the store. If I can help them get a little more comfortable making bread, I guess that’s something.

Categories
current events social media

Good Things in Bad Times

I’m used to working from home. I’ve done it for years. What I’m not used to is the hit my attention span has taken while trying to grapple with what’s going on in the world – both in my home and outside of it. My routine is totally shot, and all attempts to bring it back in line have failed so far.

But, I have discovered (or rediscovered) some good things that have been helpful in keeping up with the news and keeping slightly distracted during all of this.

  • The Your Daily Drive generated playlist on Spotify. It’s a mix of news from NPR and the BBC and podcasts that I’m not familiar with. It’s like drive time radio on a station built just for me.
  • The Washington Post’s live updates page. Short, well-reported, frequently updated stories. I now check it several times a day. It’s a one-stop-shop for everything I need to know about the national news related to the virus.
  • Journalism. This is dumb, but I think I’d gotten complacent with how important good journalism is. With the constant stream of lies, rumors, nonsense and hysteria, having a few good sources of news and analysis has been super important. I already mentioned the Post, but Talking Points Memo, The Daily from the New York Times and others have all been great.
  • Jackbox games. We’ve been playing them at work when everyone needs a break, and I played with my kids and sister over the weekend, and they stream pretty well over Zoom. You can play a game in as little as ten minutes, blow off some steam, have a laugh, see other people’s laughing faces. It’s great.
  • Constraint-inspired creativity. Seeing all the couch concerts, virtual happy hours, 3D printed masks, and the way educators have figured out how to reinvent the entire education system in a weekend, has been inspiring. When people are given constraints, they’ll find creative ways to play with them.
  • My blog. It doesn’t even know what to do right now. Five posts in a week? That hasn’t happened in years. But, I’ve enjoyed coming back and writing here, and using it as a little journal of the current crisis.
  • Twitter. I had drifted away from it over the last year. During normal times, Twitter is a sewer of hate and sarcasm. Now, at least among the people I follow and interact with, it feels like we’re all back in 2007-2010 when it was the world’s largest dinner party.

Those are the good things. I’ll spare you my list of annoyances. You probably have the same ones.

Categories
baking Baking With Kevin The Carolina Housewife Project

Baking With Kevin

It’s weird what we come up with when new constraints are added to our daily lives. I never would have thought of doing a Google Meet with friends while I baked bread and talked to myself. Never. But, here we are. Last Sunday, I did a Google Meet with my friend Jes and her three small children where I showed them how to make pizza dough, and taught them about yeast farts. I made the mistake of posting a photo my wife took of the process to Facebook, which resulted in people asking me to do it again. Which is how we got here, I guess.

So, this time, we made my Caroline Rice and Wheat Bread recipe. Jes and her kids were there, as was John F. Croston. Other people tried to join, but something went wrong… next time.

Thanks to Google providing pro features for free during all of this, I was able to record it. And then I uploaded it to Vimeo. And now you can inflict it on yourself!

Categories
daily tedium

Civil Disobedience

I’m seeing a lot of service workers talking about how awful customers have been this week. I get it, people are stressed and used to taking it out on other people.

We don’t have to stand for it. The people working in grocery stores are literally risking their health right now so you can get your kale. Service workers all over are doing the same.

Here’s my idea to combat it. Next time you see someone throwing a fit in a store, start singing Happy Birthday to them as loudly and obviously as possible. Everyone knows the words. People will join in. Everyone’s been singing it A LOT while washing their hands.
And if you don’t know their name, “Karen” will do.

This is literally what theater kids have been training for their entire lives. I’d be tempted to belt out “Ooooooooooooklahoma!!!” but I don’t think everyone knows the words. But, if we ham it up enough, everyone will sing along, the offensive person will stop their tirade and everyone can get back to keeping their distance.

Categories
current events love

Standing

Standing alone in my driveway
On a empty street
On a small island
Next to a big ocean
I looked around at the houses
I looked up at the big sky, pink with dusk

Alone is a trick of perception
Based on the size of your container
Alone in your room
Maybe in your house too
But under that big evening sky now going purple
We’re all together

Categories
love savannah

It’s All Possible

Writing a huge blog post (a followup to this one) and slides (for a webinar on 3/19) on remote work, it’s just crystal clear that there’s a huge opportunity during this crisis to make literally EVERYTHING better if we choose to.

Work can be more humane.

Our governments can be more agile, more compassionate and more responsive.

We can be more grounded, more balanced, and get more done.

Our communities can be more helpful and more connected.

It’s all possible. Now is the time to figure out how to do it, experiment, collaborate and do things we didn’t think were possible.

It’s all possible.

It.

Is.

All.

Possible.

Categories
family Kevin love politics savannah

On Mister Rogers

I just finished listening to the last episode of Finding Fred, a wonderful podcast exploring Mr. Rogers’ legacy, and impact, and I thought it was time to finally write out these thoughts that have swirled around in my head about him, about love, kindness, thoughtfulness and community since the election that put Donald Trump in the White House. Don’t worry, that’s the last time I’ll mention Mr. Trump and this post isn’t political – it’s about reacting to pain and finding myself wanting.

After the election, I saw my friends in pain, while I felt little more than disappointment. I didn’t see it coming, but I also kind of thought we deserved it. My friends’ reactions were visceral, full of fear and anguish, and I didn’t get it. Shortly after the Women’s March, I volunteered to live stream an event in Savannah where women who marched told their stories. It was heavy, and heartfelt, and I finally got it.

That night, I decided I needed to work on myself – to make the effort to be more empathetic, thoughtful, cause less harm, and to become more useful in the world to hopefully ease some of the pain, hurt and fear I was seeing.

I got books on meditation, racism, diet and exercise, and… didn’t move very quickly, considering it’s been three years and I’m just now writing this. It took me a very long time to read Understanding and Dismantling Racism, because it was so hard to come to terms with the racism I held in my heart without realizing it. I read books on meditation, but none of it made sense. I just couldn’t grasp the mechanics of it. I’ve always struggled with my weight, so that also made halting progress.

I went to therapy for the first time since I was 5, and started dealing with all the anger I’ve kept around unprocessed, that bubbles up unexpectedly, ruining moods and days.

But, I eventually finished the books, and picked up others. I learned a lot about meditation in therapy, and worked through a lot of my anger. I’ve been trying to be less sarcastic, more thoughtful, and more empathetic – and hopefully cause less pain to others. I’ve been trying to figure out my own emotions, and regulate them so I can better hold the space for other people’s emotions.

And this brings us back to Mr. Rogers. He and I share a birthday, and he’s been a hero of mine since I was a kid, but I could never articulate why. Why would I choose this kind gentle man as a hero?

I think I know now. Mr. Rogers is my hero because he embodied all the things I struggle with. He is patient where I’m impulsive. Kind where my natural reaction is sarcasm. Soft where I can be hard. Understanding where I am frequently clueless.

It was also because Mr. Rogers was the helper he told us all to look for. One of my favorite parts of Finding Fred was the discussion of that famous quote, where Fred told us to look for the helpers. All of us who watched him are now adults. We don’t need to find the helpers – we need to be the helpers and look for opportunities to help, to put into practice the kindness he shared with us, and share it with others.

The other big question from the show was what keeps us from being more like Mr. Rogers?  There were a lot of opinions on the show, but I’ve come up with my own answer: selfishness and thoughtlessness.  And I think that’s why Mr. Rogers is so missed right now.  We’re confronted with selfishness and greed on a mass scale.  We’re literally slapped in the face with it every time we read a news story.  It’s selfishness on a scale that feels like it blots out every other motive and emotion, and feels impossible to solve, since it feels like we’re completely outnumbered.

We are not outnumbered. Like Mr. Rogers, kindness isn’t loud.  It’s not going to grab headlines.  It’s not going to self-promote or rant in all caps on Twitter.  It is small, and quiet, and it means literally everything. 

In this effort to improve myself, I keep coming back to the idea of loving kindness.  It’s a main tenet of Buddhism and mindfulness, and it feels like it encapsulates everything.  It’s the Golden Rule applied to others, and myself.  If I am not kind to myself, I can’t be kind to others.  If I don’t practice mindfulness, I won’t see the many opportunities that come up all the time to be kind.  If I don’t practice mindfulness, I won’t be in the moment and appreciate it. If I don’t practice loving kindness daily, I won’t be able to apply it when it’s difficult – especially when it’s called for in the face of anger.  It requires vulnerability – which I am not good at. It requires patience, which I don’t have enough of. 

I don’t have it all figured out. I still get angry. I’m still sarcastic. I still don’t know what to do about white supremacy, or how to confront people about it. I’m still really uncomfortable with other peoples’ emotions, especially anger. But, I think I’m more useful today than I was yesterday. I think I know a little bit more than I did in January of 2017.

I know that loving kindness is the answer, even if I don’t always get it right. It’s called “practice” for a reason.

I’ll keep working on it.