Pad See Ew

Two weeks ago I said The Handmaid’s Tale had gone off the rails. Today I’m saying I’ve gotten back on the train.

I have no idea how long this’ll last given the general bumpiness of the season BUT AFTER EPISODE 10 I’M BACK ONBOARD AT LEAST TEMPORARILY CUS MUFFINS MEAN YES BITCHESSSSSSSS

I cried. 😭😂 (also why did they stop putting up sneak peek videos HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO JUDGE THE NEXT EPISODE WITHOUT A TRAILER HULU ASD;JKFIHDGPFGH /flails)

Anyway.

All of this is tangential to the point of the post, which is that I’ve finally conquered rice noodles. The first time I tried to cook dried rice noodles I was very very new to the noodle game, which means that what eventually came out of my wok was a solid mass of noodle-shaped objects. It was like chewing a carpet. Cue three- to five-year montage of me rolling around on the floor feeling sorry for myself and refusing to touch dried noodles nope never again not ever.

Welp, this year I discovered Rasa Malaysia’s pad see ew recipe and the S.S. “I’M NEVER COOKING RICE NOODLES AGAIN I AM NOT DESTINED FOR GREATNESS” sprang a massive leak, and now I’m sitting here telling you that if you’re in a little pity party boat of your own there is still hope because if I can learn to cook dried rice noodles without turning them into the world’s cheapest carpet then so can you. And now, if you’ve made it to the end of that run-on sentence without getting lost, here’s a couple of pics.

Obviously I had a lot of faith in myself. In this case I didn’t need to worry because it finally occurred to me to, you know, maybe watch a YouTube tutorial instead of relying on the comical English on the back of the noodles package. The package claimed the noodles would be ready to cook after soaking for 30 minutes, but therein lay my downfall three to five years ago. Here’s what actually worked:

  1. Soak the noodles for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. You’ll want enough water to submerge your noodles. When the water is boiling, add a little cooking oil to keep the noodles from sticking to each other.
  3. When the noodles are done soaking, boil them for one to two minutes, then drain them and zap them with cold water. This keeps the sneaky bastards from overcooking themselves.
  4. Add the noodles to whatever you’re cooking. INSTANT PROFIT.
  5. New tip that I just learned three hours ago: Boil the noodles literally one or two minutes before you need them. If they sit in the colander too long they clump together and are very hard to separate.
  6. If you’re like me and you leave them in the colander too long, add more oil while you’re stir-frying them and try to loosen them up with whatever utensils you have on hand (preferably cooking chopsticks). Yes, this works. Sort of. Look, the noodles were still edible, okay?
  7. Extra credit: Try Rasa Malaysia’s recipe with pork belly instead of chicken.

Moral of the story: YouTube knows everything.

Corporate Potato Gettin’ Ish Done

There is this frustrating thing about mental illness for me, where I have the self-awareness to see many (not all, to be sure) of my flaws but not the energy to take actions to right them or at least proactively try to counteract them. They’re largely innocuous things. I’d like to believe I mastered the ugliest of my everyday demons and no longer do things like snark at undeserving people or actively self-sabotage.

But the simpler things I admittedly struggle with, and further admit it’s not because I don’t know how to address them I just… don’t want to. That’s the thing about depression and anxiety. Sure there’s the sadness and the worry and the existential dread… but often once those have wrung you dry of every drop of energy not otherwise spent on unavoidable necessities (commuting, working all day, not pterodactyl screeching at every inconsiderate troglodyte that inconveniences your day), there’s nothing left for the simple tasks: folding  the clothes in the dryer, emptying the dishwasher, actually making dinner and doing the dishes…

None of these are monumental tasks requiring herculean efforts. At least, not for normal people. But I’m not normal. I get exhausted by having to talk to people at work and often talk myself out of things I kind of wanted to do because of petty made-up potential pitfalls. And maybe it is just eight minutes of laundry to fold and five minutes of dishes to put away but that’s thirteen minutes of energy I would much rather spend being an apathetic couch potato. Unwinding from corporate potato mode will take it right out of ya, I tell ya.

The really dumb part? I’ve never done one of these simple tasks and been upset that I did it. In fact as a general rule I’ve never done any self-care task and then been like, “Man, I really wish I hadn’t just made my own life better by doing that.” (Painting my nails doesn’t count because I do regret doing that 10/10 times.)

Have you ever felt bad about having a clean, tidy space? Or feeling healthy? Or knowing exactly where what you need is? I haven’t.

Whether I ate a healthy meal I made myself, or am enjoying a clean towel after stepping out of my clean shower, or putting my dishes immediately in the dishwasher after breakfast because I haven’t left clean dishes sitting in the dishwasher for no real reason, I feel good.

These are such simple, basic tasks. They take very little time and honestly leave me so ridiculously happy and proud of myself.

So why do I fight them? Why do I stubbornly and patently refuse to do simple things that not only BENEFIT me but make me HAPPY?

Because my brain isn’t wired quite correctly. I lost the manual (not like I read it anyway), and it’s just kinda stuck this way, okay? BUT there IS an override.

I’m pretty sure motivation is like a fantasy or some shit. It’s snake oil. In thirty years I rarely see that bitch and she is always fleeting like a mirage. So what’s the override?

Well, it’s two-fold: it’s discipline and consistency.

I’m not gonna sit here and tell you either is easy to conjure up. Honestly you’ll have a much easier time summoning any demon of your choosing (oddly angels are less inclined to come when called, but I digress).

But that’s the secret sauce. I don’t care if your challenge is not getting to work on time, getting in shape, or brushing your damn teeth – discipline and consistency are the solution. You just have to choose them.

Choosing to do what’s best for myself has been a precipice I’ve tiptoed along for my entire life; it’s not been made any easier in the nearly two thirds of my life spent with mental health struggles. But the fact is and will always be that it is still a choice and still my choice to make. The only one who suffers for my choices to not do simple things that add to my overall wellness is me.

So long story short if you wonder what fucking cave I’ve been spelunking in that had me failing to share my brain-drivel with you all recently, that’s it – I’ve been lost to my own devices, trying to do a better job of holding myself accountable. I don’t have much to show for it except for generally feeling better about my life choices on a daily basis… and that’s more than enough for me.

Do you struggle with doing things you know you should do? Tell me your stories so we can ride the struggle bus together!

Blessed Be The Fight?

WARNING: Significant spoilers ahead for season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale and the ending of Game of Thrones. If this matters to you, come back after you’ve caught up.

Ofmatthew deserved better.

There was a definitive moment this past Wednesday when I was staring at my screen with numb fury and thinking, Fuck June. If you watched the episode too, you might have experienced the same almost-but-not-quite-disloyalty I felt when Ofmatthew, who from here on out will be referred to as Natalie, murdered a Guardian and aimed his gun at June. I say “not quite” because this is a June I do not recognize. In the lead-up to season 3, one of the crew – possibly Bruce Miller – stated that June would be radicalized over the course of the season, and that it was necessary to harden her into the person she would need to be to lead the revolution. That person, apparently, is selfish, pigheaded, and cruel.

Don’t get me wrong: a little revolution now and then is a healthy thing, especially in Gilead. If we see nothing else in the ten seasons Bruce Miller has been threatening to inflict on us, I want to see Gilead fall. I want this regime to burn, even if we’re left with nothing but ash. The first two seasons were promising: season 1 primarily focused on adapting the book, which it did excellently, and season 2 was fascinating as well. Season 2 succeeded because even though it was off book, the writers continued to incorporate elements from the book that didn’t make it into season 1, most notably June’s mother and Luke’s first wife. Season 3 on the other hand has gone completely off the rails, to the point that it feels more like Game of Thrones started to feel when it ran out of book material and started to sacrifice story for spectacle. As with Game of Thrones, nothing makes sense. We’re meeting new characters and going through new story arcs, but all the rules from the first two seasons have gone out the window, and a lot of the things I thought I knew – both as a hardcore book fan and a more cautious TV fan – have been turned on their heads. (Why, for instance, has June suddenly become untouchable? Is it because of that weak-ass Nichole video excuse, or is it just because she’s the main character?) I have now officially become one of those people who claw through cast/crew interviews and Inside the Episode videos to try to understand the intentions of the writers. This approach sort of worked with the first half of season 3 but it’s apparently not foolproof, because I don’t understand Unfit. I don’t really want to watch the episode again, so here’s the general gist of it while I still remember:

June and the other Handmaids, excepting Janine, embark on a joint campaign to destroy Natalie. They are wildly successful. Everyone is somehow surprised when Natalie snaps and tries to shoot up the grocery store. Flashbacks inform us that in the time before, Aunt Lydia was a devout Christian teacher who had an amazing first date with an embarrassing aftermath, which made her angry and bitter. Okay, if you say so.

It would be easy to blame this lack of sense on the absence of book material, but season 2 didn’t suffer from the same problems. If I didn’t know better I’d think season 3 had been taken over by a completely different team who didn’t know the story, because June isn’t fucking learning anything. Her mistakes in the first seasons were forgivable because we were all learning together, but we’re kinda past that now. If she’s going to spearhead this revolution we’ve been promised, she needs to start making smarter decisions, which is something at which she historically has not excelled. In more practical terms, this means she needs to try to get Commander Lawrence on her side instead of sucking up to Fred, who will never help her get out of Gilead. It means she needs to stop dragging other people into trouble on an impulse, without ever once thinking of the potential consequences. It means she needed to try to cultivate a relationship with Natalie.

One of the most frustrating aspects of June’s character is her longstanding habit of shunning women she doesn’t like, then learning too late that they’re actually people too. I was hoping she’d learn something from her experience with Lillie/Ofglen 2, but then she met Natalie and she started doing the same damn thing that she did with Lillie, rebuffing Natalie and abandoning her for secret conversations with Alma. Natalie wasn’t completely hardened: I can’t say I liked her, but she did show signs of a softer side from time to time, especially when she told June she was glad Nichole and Luke were safe in Canada. June could’ve taken this as an opportunity to try to befriend her, but she didn’t. To be completely fair, I have no idea if she would’ve succeeded. I have no idea if a real friendship would’ve changed the decisions Natalie made, or if she still would have acted the same way. We’ll never know now, because the new radicalized June seems utterly intent on burning all her bridges.

STANDARD DISCLAIMER, BECAUSE WE ARE ON THE INTERNET: I know June has good reason to be angry with Natalie. I realize Natalie’s actions led to the execution of Frances, who also deserved far better. June’s bullying cabal does not excuse Natalie’s decisions. I know all that and I still say Natalie deserved better, because The Handmaid’s Tale has done to her what Game of Thrones did to Daenerys Targaryen.

Natalie vs. June

June is angry with Natalie in the wake of Frances’ execution and Hannah’s relocation (episode 7, Under His Eye) and sets out to make her life miserable, completely ignoring her own role in this mess. Most of the other handmaids rally around her and gang up on Natalie, relentlessly bullying and isolating her. Though June acknowledges that she pressured Frances into helping her and is in fact an indirect factor in her execution, she doesn’t express anything approaching real remorse until Aunt Lydia points out that June’s actions have harmed Hannah, (1) because her family relocated and (2) because she loved Frances. In a grand twist of irony or hypocrisy or both, part of the reason she’s mad at Natalie is that Natalie has not expressed remorse either. After her testimony, June decides it’s time for revenge and throws Natalie under the bus.

Wow, that was bitchy. Is this what the Handmaids social media team means when they say “Blessed be the fight”? Is this the fight? Are we expected to cheer for June as she sticks it to her fellow Handmaids, who have suffered the same things she has? Is this supposed to be revenge for the death of Frances, inflicted on someone who didn’t actually order Frances’ execution? Somebody please explain this to me, because my numbers aren’t adding up.

After June outs her, Natalie is forced into the center of the circle, and is quickly driven to tears by Aunt Lydia and the other Handmaids. The only one who feels bad for her is Janine, who has a much stronger moral compass than the others. The rest of the episode is a study in the development of mass shooters, interspersed with flashbacks from Aunt Lydia’s past, all of which culminates in Natalie’s attempt to shoot everyone in the aforementioned grocery store before she gets shot herself. I THOUGHT HANDMAIDS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SACRED AND PROTECTED WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCKING FUCK.

This was about the point where I started thinking Fuck June, because this smile did not amuse me. In the Inside the Episode video, Elisabeth Moss says Unfit is a real sign of what the Gilead regime can turn someone into, and that’s fair enough, but then Bruce Miller went and said that while it was creepy to watch the main character enjoy so much death and violence, we’re just as satisfied as she is. Uh, no, Bruce. I enjoy watching women taking power for themselves. I do not enjoy watching women getting unceremoniously gaslit and then murdered by shows that should know better. I do not enjoy watching June standing by with that fucking smug little smile while Janine gets beaten in a grocery store. I was so proud of her when she threw herself over Janine to protect her from Aunt Lydia’s completely irrational attack (episode 4, God Bless the Child), but apparently she’s decided that Janine doesn’t deserve to be protected anymore. Equally upsetting is the fact that while June somehow found a way to show compassion towards fucking Serena, of all people, she made no such effort with Natalie. You could argue that Serena was potentially useful, being highly placed, or just capable of sending June to either the gallows or the colonies, but you would also have to remember the multiple occasions that June talked back to Serena, cursed her out, or defied her in some other way; and, given the thoughtlessness of many of June’s other actions, long-term strategizing doesn’t seem too likely.

Aunt Lydia vs. The World

This week we were treated to a bit of Aunt Lydia’s backstory, which I never knew we needed and am still not sold on because I honestly don’t give a fuck where she came from. Apparently she started as a family law attorney, then divorced her husband and became a teacher. She then befriended a young mother, Noelle, who was struggling to raise her son, and enjoyed a happy relationship with them until Noelle pushed her into dating again. She went on a date with a coworker and had a great time, then invited him to her house, where he told her that he didn’t want to go too fast because he wasn’t ready to move on from his wife’s death, but he still wanted to see her again. This somehow turned her bitter overnight because, I don’t know, maybe she was embarrassed at how close she got to extramarital sex? In any case, she decided to get revenge by reporting Noelle to child protective services – or maybe she just felt Noelle’s sinfulness had rubbed off on her and was punishing her instead of punishing herself. It’s all ridiculously unclear. The whole backstory makes about as much sense as Hermione turning evil and bitter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child after Ron fails to fall in love with her. I don’t know which one is more disturbing, Lydia’s decision or the clear parallel between the petty, bitchy revenges exacted by both her and June.

TL;DR

I hope Janine can talk some sense into June next episode, because if I have to watch seven more seasons of June throwing other women under buses and burning whatever bridges she has left I’m going to scream. Actually, I really just need June to stop making stupid-ass decisions. Seriously, what the fuck did she think she would accomplish by dragging Mrs. Lawrence to Hannah’s school? Did she have a plan at all? Was she hoping Commander Lawrence would turn up in his big black car and spirit them all away? THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING.