This was a really good weekend. I didn’t go anywhere. It was fabulous. This semester has been so busy, and I have been constantly inundated with assignments, jobs, trying to exercise to ward off my Multiple Sclerosis, and a hundred other obligations. It’s frustrating when you have to choose between sleep and time for yourself. Somehow, I had nothing pressing to do this weekend so I luxuriated. I am still, days later, thinking back on the glorious nothing I did. I went on long walks, watched movies, caught up on my Egyptological studies, cleaned the house, baked bread, roasted pumpkin seeds. I soaked in the tub for hours and exfoliated, I sang Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks, I wrote, I napped, I brushed my hair. Oh god, it was divine. It was probably the first time I’ve ever got to use my house as a vacation home. Years ago, I intended that being at home should give me the same feeling as walking through the entrance to the Chateau Marmont. This weekend has made me realize that I need to purge some crap from my house if I want it to still feel like a vacation home, but it was still great. Just need some paint, some trim, a hundred trash bags, and a donation to Goodwill to be perfectly luxurious. This is how weekends should be. For the first time since the summer, I felt almost like myself. I hope I can do that again before next summer.
Since my first foray into the Middle East, I have fallen in love with their culinary traditions. When I was most recently in Luxor this summer, I had shakshuka at Sofra, one of the more popular restaurants in town. It wasn’t my personal favorite, but it was quite good. I ordered it after hearing about it for years and years from David Lebovtiz. He goes on and on in a rapture about eggs poached on top of spicy tomatoes, so I was excited to try it for the first time. It didn’t look quite the same way that his did, but I could see the appeal. Cut to months later last night when I was starving to death and had no food since I hadn’t been to ALDI in two weeks. Panicked, I ransacked my cupboards, pretended I was on that dreadful show, Chopped, and found a can of stewed tomatoes. Immediately, I knew what to make. I took olive oil, chili powder, dried pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and a Middle Eastern spice mix and heated them on low flame. Then I added some garlic before dumping in the can of stewed tomatoes. These broke down slowly and started to bubble, so then I topped the concoction with two eggs, covered it, and served the dish with bread. It was effing fabulous, reader. So simple and so good. And I’ve made it probably a dozen times ever since. It turns out I had a lot of stewed tomatoes, which is such a blessing. I felt like I was back in Egypt in that beautiful restaurant listening to honking horns and dreaming of staying there for the rest of my life. It’s perfect. Egypt and shakshuka both. Cook it, readers.
Tutankhamun is a British show dramatizing the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. The story has been done to death after all these years, but the guy playing Howard Carter is a babe and I’ll watch anything even slightly, remotely involving my beloved Egypt.
You all know the story of the enthusiastic Howard Carter who refused to give up on his belief that an undiscovered royal tomb lay in the Valley of the Kings. Well, I assume you do. Maybe you don’t, but for anybody with even a modicum of interest in the study of Egypt, this is common knowledge. Besides, there have been a number of sensationalized news reports and tours of his relics, so I would have to guess you know the basics. This show on iTV was a four-part miniseries that dramatized the discovery. The beginning bored me a bit. At once, you can tell it’s not actually filmed in Egypt since the sand is the wrong color, and some of the acting is meh, and the lines are predictable. But then they talk about Petrie and Nebkheperure and Amarna and the Valley and I literally had tears come to my eyes. Why do I love Egypt so much? It means everything to me. Literally, it’s my world. And then there’s a minor scene featuring Flinders Petrie himself, and I actually squeaked before I felt a tear run down my cheek. It was done perfectly, it captured the father of Egyptian archaeology down to the letter. I’ve never seen any popular program feature Petrie, let alone mention him. At that moment, I was converted, and I illegally streamed all four episodes from a variety of shady sources, but it was so worth it. The melodrama was deliciously like a soap opera, the romance that isn’t based on any historical accuracy is charming, the scenery is beautiful, the research wasn’t half bad, and the sentiment was right. Whoever wrote and directed this miniseries had a clear love of what they were doing. The way they expressed Carter’s passion for Egypt was flawless. It was so honest and real, and I felt like I could have been him in another life. It was such a treat to watch, such fun. Stream it, darling readers.
Hillary Clinton’s Loss:
I am struggling to understand the results of the presidential election. This has shaken me to the core of my being. My heart hurts. My soul aches. I can’t feel my face. And this isn’t hyperbole, reader, I am truly in a state of shock. I was so sure that Hillary would win — I think that is the crux of the problem — too many of us were sure. It didn’t feel vital to get out and vote. I did, and I made sure that all those in my family did. I always vote and I always will. But too many didn’t. But that isn’t the biggest issue. I fundamentally miscalculated and misunderstood the anger and frustrations of white people. As a white guy myself, this has always shocked me, but I’m gay, educated, and traveled. That makes me different from the stereotypical American. I never realized how deeply they loathed the Obamas, the Clintons, and the progressive reforms that have kept me alive over the past eight years. So, instead, they elected a man with no political experience, who brags about sexually assaulting women, who propagates conspiracy theories, who foments hatred, who clearly does not believe in equality for all citizens. I feel sick to my stomach that so many of my compatriots voted against Hillary Clinton, a steady leader that could have maybe turned the tide in our culture. America needed a mother to nurture her, I truly and fully believe that. It does not need an angry businessman. I sincerely can’t understand how this could have happened. I am in complete empathy with other gay people, the disabled, minorities, the impoverished, Muslims, and women today and forever. We deserve better than what we’ve been offered. But this is the cruel irony of history. I have studied the past all of my life, and these cycles are, by their very nature, cyclical. Governments and cultures have a nasty habit of taking one step forward and four hundred back. This has happened. For the next four years, I will be uneasy in my own country. The president of my country does not have my best interests at heart. That was the great blessing of the Obama presidency. He cared genuinely for the populace. I worry, reader. If I listed them all it would take me days to write, so I’ll just leave it at that. I worry. But I am heartened that Hillary won more votes. I am heartened that over half the voting populace had common sense. I am inspired by my frustration. I am still very tired and I am mourning, and that’s all right. Don’t let people tell you to get over the results if they hurt you. These are the same people that have tried to demonize and injure President Obama at every turn. You and I are rightly allowed to grieve, regroup, and make sure we do better the next time.
Even before the results of the election, I have been feeling a certain kind of way. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is. I feel uneasy. It has nothing to do with multiple sclerosis or seasonal depression or the insurmountable to-do lists I write. It’s just this feeling that permeates my everyday consciousness. It’s deeper and unknowable. Those things surely play a part, but they aren’t at the forefront of my malaise. The best way to explain it is detached. I don’t identify with who I’m supposed to be anymore. Is this some kind of persona shedding like a snake sheds their skin? Do humans do that? I think I do. I don’t feel much like myself anymore. It’s been a challenging year. I feel oppressed by being white, by having a disease, by being gay, by wearing a size 31 pant. And I know that doesn’t make sense because it makes no sense to me, either. I just feel a deep urge to form a cocoon and dissolve. Caterpillars don’t know that they’re going to be a moth or a butterfly, they just instinctually know something’s up and it’s time to change. I feel like that. I want to blossom into something different, even if it really is just a moth. There’s something I’m missing out on. It’s not experiences, because I have had plenty of extraordinary ones. It’s not education, because I’m fixing that. It’s not finances, because I’m not as bad off as I think I am. I’m feeling detached from my life. Things don’t matter to me the way they once did. I feel like it’s time to take a step that I never knew existed, but I still don’t know exactly where it’s going or where the step is. That worries me, but it feels proper. There’s something afloat that I can’t understand. I will someday. I just don’t know when. Maybe someday.