Bit of a quiet week, probably due in part to Thanksgiving, of which I had two. Friendsgiving day-of, and then another on Saturday down with my family in Fresno. But a couple of things did happen, so…
I was invited to start testing the new Discourse (forum) chat feature, which I have been anticipating for quite a long time now. I’ve spent a good while thinking about how I’d want to tackle a better integration between slower (asynchronous) forum communication and more real-time (synchronous) chat, and I’m glad to be included in the early testing and feedback cycle in this case.
Generally speaking I think Discourse has the most well thought-out discussion platform for async communication, so I’m very hopeful for the results of them putting a similar degree of thought and diligence into a new form of communication integrated into the same platform. So far I’m liking what they’ve come up with, particularly the tools it has to turn ephemeral chat discussions into archivable, more persistent forum topics.
Some interesting progress and a big change in my therapy practice this week. I had my last session with Matt, my therapist of the last 6 years or so! It was understandably a bit emotional, but felt good, and I am glad I made the choice to try some different modalities and ways of working on myself. I gained a lot of insight, skills, and understanding from working with Matt, and I am grateful to him for that. Meanwhile I am starting to see some new insights come up in my IFS work, and I’m also starting to feel a bit more safety for being vulnerable with my new therapist, which is of course quite important. So it feels like things are on the right track.
As I mentioned, I had two Thanksgivings. Both were nice, overall, and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays so I’m happy to be able to have it twice. That said, there were some interesting differences and similarities, and some good opportunities to take note of my reactions and emotional state. I actually felt a bit quiet or shy at times during Friendsgiving, a feeling I’ve had on occasion with this same (lovely!) group of people. Quite honestly they’re all just such sharp, clever, vibrant, and interesting people, I feel like I have a hard time keeping up sometimes. But… I suspect it’s just a feeling, not really reflective of any objective reality (i.e. if you asked other people if they noticed it, they probably did not).
It’s also interesting to reflect on a feeling that perhaps I am at times more comfortable in situations where I almost feel a little superior to people around me. That’s not a feeling I want to have in general in interactions with people, and it feels vulnerable and frankly a bit shameful to bring it up here. But at the same time it seems like it may be a feeling that a part of me does have at times, so it’s important to identify and try not to judge it, but to understand it. I don’t think such a feeling comes from a real desire to be better than people, but more of a desire to feel good myself. This all feels like internalized judgements and evaluations, things I’d like to ultimately work through and shift. Seeing them clearly is one of the important steps in that.
But back to the real subject of Thanksgiving: food! There was good food in both cases, and desserts were particularly exceptional with family and friends alike (hooray, my favorite!). Many of my friends are talented, creative, and curious cooks, and the work of cooking everything was shared by many more hands, so it’s not surprising that the sheer variety and uniqueness of dishes was much greater at Friendsgiving. Mainly what I wanted to comment on, though, is the feeling I get more and more with each passing year that the Thanksgiving spread is somewhat inherently problematic and compromised almost from a conceptual standpoint. Primarily I just think it’s too much work, and getting the timing right can be really challenging, especially depending on how many dishes you’re trying to prepare. Even if you have a bunch of people helping, timing can be a challenge just due to number of ovens, size of kitchen, etc., and people bringing from their own houses of course need to keep things warm, or warm them back up.
This shows up most readily in the turkey. I think both friends and family did a fine job, with a slight edge to friends for a more moist breast (but also a larger bird, which makes that easier). But in both cases it was served just above room temperature, i.e. a bit “cold”, which I find is very common, and it’s just odd that this is sort of the norm at Thanksgiving, but at basically no other meal. Now I know it’s challenging because you can’t easily keep turkey in the oven without drying it out (as far as I know), you don’t want to microwave it I’d guess, etc. I think that ultimately this derives from just how much work it can be to prepare all the “expected” food, but also just the fact that turkey is really not that desirable or particularly innately enjoyable of a food! I mean, it’s fine, and I can hear some of you protesting right now - “I love turkey! A leftovers turkey sandwich is great.”, etc. But I ask you: do you like turkey, itself, with no (or at least minimal) accompaniment or dressing-up? No gravy, no cranberry, not in a sandwich, etc? And would you enjoy chicken as much or more with similar toppings and sides? And how often have you had really great turkey anyway? I feel like my grandpa, for example, is just chasing some idealized long-ago memory of a turkey so good it probably never existed…
Of course there are those people who really are just very skilled at making turkey that comes out great. They know their oven, they have years of experience, or they’re just attentive enough, or whatever. It’s definitely possible to make it great. But even if you do, it’s hard not to run into timing issues with everything else, especially if it’s just one or two people cooking, as is often the case in many American families. It just seems unreasonable and unrealistic to me, and even when it’s possible, I think it often puts stress on the people responsible for pulling it off. And while I do have some love for leftovers, I’m not sure the day-old (or older) turkey is the best part of it, quite frankly. So I’m sure there are plenty who would disagree with me, but I’m starting to feel like turkey should be considered an optional part of Thanksgiving. It’s the hardest part to get right (cooking a good chicken is dead simple by comparison), and one of the least exceptional parts most often (at least in my view)… OK, rant over.
I’ve mentioned my popup food app idea a few times now and one of the aspects of it that I have a lot less understanding of and experience with is the financial model and interaction with crypto and DeFi that I have in mind. Thanksgiving was also a good opportunity to talk to a friend of mine who has a lot more experience in these areas than I do, and unsurprisingly I learned there will be some challenges with what I was hoping to do. But… maybe not outright blockers. So I’ll continue to think about it all, and I’m still hoping to at least make a more formal and complete outline of it here soon. I’ll say up-front, though, it’s not some highly clever or revolutionary concept, just something that I don’t think has been done yet, whether because there’s just not enough money in it, or nobody else has been sufficiently motivated, or what I’m not yet sure. But since financial reward is not my greatest goal, it may be something I’d still pursue, even if it’s not very lucrative. We’ll see…
Last but not least, although my mom lives just an hour away now, I don’t make it up there to see her as often as I’d like. But we were both down in Fresno for Thanksgiving weekend and so we had a nice opportunity to just catch up and talk about our lives. She went through some really hard personal challenges in the last couple of years and is now doing much better, and as I’ve said here before, it’s just so gratifying to see her “coming back to herself”, stretching back into the ways of being that made her happiest before, as well as new ways which feel authentic and expressive for her. She is a naturally very creative person and has gotten into pottery lately, which again I think I mentioned recently. She continues to explore that and learns more every day, so it’s always fun to check-in on her latest projects. Many are already things I think she could sell if she wanted to, and I’m hoping to get a piece of hers for myself one of these days too.