The Catastrophic Boba Shortage of 2021

No, not that Boba.

I read the headline, then I read it again. Yep, it really does say that, I thought. It’s not just that it’s 3:00 am and I’m sitting on the toilet in the dark. I’m mostly awake and it’s right there: “Boba Shortage to Last Throughout Summer.”

There was nothing I could do in that moment but take slow, deep breaths and try to process the horrific news.

Wait a minute. What am I saying? I don’t even drink boba. In fact, it kind of grosses me out. All those little gelatinous orbs floating around in a drink make me think of eyeballs and I don’t even want to contemplate what it would be like to bite down on – ugh. “Excuse me, Waiter, there’s an eye in my soup.”

I’m not usually squeamish about these things; no, wait. Yes, I am. I’m very squeamish. I still do a side eye at baked goods with raisins in them. Don’t even get me started on foods inappropriately described as “gooey.” Can we just say “melty?” Similarly, boba really makes my tummy rumble, and not like I’m hungry.

This news headline, with its dire prediction of the coming Bobacolypse, gave me an odd sense of relief. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely weep for the rest of the population that loves their boba tea. If I saw one of those behemoth pickups driving down the freeway filled with boba and toilet paper, I would call 911 and pursue them until the fiend was captured. So no, I wasn’t relieved about the drastic boba shortage itself, but at the headline.

I was relieved because the fact that these are the stories making the news ticker means a short break from stories about mass shootings, police violence against black people, COVID-19, and ultra-conservative political groups. Maybe it’s only a tiny break, but it helps. The more headlines I see like “Do Squirrels Damage Power Lines More Than Weather?,” the easier it is to scroll past the doom.

You might be thinking (because I just did) why don’t you just stop reading the news? And you would be smart to think that. I do take occasional breaks from reading news, but the truth is that I am addicted to knowing what’s going on in the world. In some ways, even gloomy news can be comforting to me – and sometimes the more ridiculously doom-ridden, the better. I realize it’s weird, but hear me out. Take a headline like “Solar Wind Traveling 1,118,468 mph Due to Hit Earth Sunday.” That sounds dangerous, as if by Monday the entire Western hemisphere will be a gooey mess. I mean, melty mess. It also sounds very science fiction-ey, like it’s just ridiculous enough to be the premise of a Netflix series. Since I can’t do anything about it and I clearly can’t take it seriously, it doesn’t affect me emotionally. I can handle it. So I keep reading the news and mentally separate the hard stuff from the laughable stuff.

Here’s another headline to consider: “North Korea warns of ‘crisis beyond control’ in heated statements aimed at US and South Korea.” Okay, let’s quickly brainstorm here. What are we going to do about this? How can we make Kim Jong Un feel less attacked? We could get on a plane to North Korea, sit down with him and help him understand about the old saying “sticks and stones.” If I thought we would come back alive, much less even get there, it might be something to consider. It would be something to do, rather than just sit here and worry about it. So, I won’t worry about it.

But back to boba. We are clearly in a crisis here. And even though there’s probably nothing I can do about it, and it doesn’t affect me due to my revulsion at the very thought of consuming it, in the back of my mind I wonder. Maybe I can do something? Just because I’m not a boba drinker doesn’t mean I can’t help those who love their bubble tea. Maybe I can start cultivating cassava in my yard. And maybe I can gather my neighbors to do the same. Together, we could turn this planetary tapioca ball shortage around.

Still, maybe this will all just be okay. I’ll be okay. We’ll be okay. We will learn to live in a world without boba. I think it’s best summed up in the words of Denise Giraldo-Gordon of Brooklyn, NY:

“I didn’t miss it at all. I just needed to prepare mentally.”

We all do, Denise. We all do.

Fractured

You’ve probably stubbed your toe a few times in your life, amiright? Sure you have. Sadly, you will likely never get to the championship-level toe stubbing that I have attained. You need to practice every day. Most people don’t have that kind of drive. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but I am just extremely adept at smashing my feet.

If there’s a box, I will kick it. If there’s a door frame, I will hit it. If there’s something heavy, I will drop it on myself.

I’m not what I would consider a clutz, per se. I just have magnets in my feet that attract injury. They’re average sized feet. They don’t turn out so that snagging them on objects would be easier. Nope. They just get themselves in situations on a regular basis that defy explanation.

I’m a good healer, so typically I’m back up and running (literally) in a week or two. Recently, however, I stubbed my pinky toe so well that I actually broke it.

Back in February (the 3rd to be precise, according to my bullet journal), I kicked a box of t-shirts as I was walking by; the box was minding its own business. Again, these are not things I do on purpose, it’s a natural talent I have developed. I’m not angry, or frustrated, nor do I have anything against boxes or cardboard. Simple happenstance, or what some might call not looking where I’m going. But yes, I jabbed my pinky toe into that box like I was playing in the World Cup. Or at least it felt that way.

Several expletives later, it bruised and swelled up like a hot dog in a microwave.

I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be running any time soon. I did do some power walking and hiking, but that’s only because I’m stubborn and kind of dumb. Suffice to say it didn’t get any better under that kind of care. After a couple months of this, Jenni suggested that maybe, just maybe I might want to get it checked out. Okay, sure, fine.

Turns out it’s broken this time. For real. Thankfully, I squeaked by without needing surgery, but it was close. The only thing I have to do now is… wait. Apparently I can even run on it if I want, as long as there’s no pain. But I’m not going to do that (again – yes, I tried it once). I will (sigh) let it heal like a normal person would.

I wish I could say something about lessons being learned, or offer up some kind of zen wisdom about feet. Alas, I only have this dumb story about my toe.

The offending phalange, as seen from the outside. Hey, that would be a good name for a bar.

Easing Off the Pressure

I made two promises to myself in the last couple of years that I have been failing to keep. The first was that I would only write blog posts or newsletters when I really felt like I had something to say. The second was that I would publish on a regular schedule.

Maybe you can see how those two promises are like peanut butter and pickles. They were never meant to go together. So I’ve been over here flailing around, desperately trying to stick to a schedule and also write super meaningful things.

Lately, when the little reminder thingy pops up in my calendar that tells me I need to publish something, I’ve started asking myself, okay, but what? And the more important question, okay, but why? And a more existential question, who is doing all this scheduling in my calendar?

I mean, obviously it’s me. But the overly (annoyingly) optimistic me who creates the schedule and the lazy, easily distracted, pessimistic me who reads the calendar are not on speaking terms. And while I can’t change these two mes very easily, maybe I can get them in a room and help them work out their issues. Maybe the first thing to work on is easing up on all the pressure.

I already have a writing gig where I’m obligated to publish new content each month, and there are other people depending on me. And that’s fine – no, it’s awesome. I have a great editor and other writers who help me with my content, keep me on track and hold me accountable.

Here it’s just me. Or mes. Us? More existential questions and I’m getting off track here.

At one time or another (maybe always), we put so much pressure on ourselves to accomplish goals, be something great, get to a perfect place in our lives. Sometimes I think it’s necessary and good. Otherwise, we would sit around all day in our underwear eating whatever we could easily reach in the cupboard (peanut butter and pickles come to mind). Other times I think we can afford to ease up a little bit on ourselves.

I thought I wanted a job. I was wrong.

This past November, I celebrated thirteen years of being self-employed. Thirteen seems like a weird number to celebrate, but I actually celebrate every year.

And when I say celebrate, what I mean is that I freak out on a semi-monthly basis over the state of my finances and wonder why the hell I don’t have a full-time job for chrissakes.

On a recent freak-out, I convinced myself that I didn’t want to start another business, this time building WordPress websites. As much as I love working in WordPress and creating web sites, starting a new business means that I’ll need to hustle to get projects. That part, I don’t love. I’m already hustling enough in my other work. Instead, I decided to look into a bona fide j-o-b using my WordPress skills.

I figured that I may as well start right at the source, so I looked at careers at Automattic, the company that created WordPress. It’s an amazing company, one that I could actually see myself working for out of love and not just for a paycheck. I found a job called Happiness Engineer and it fit me and my skills perfectly.

Unfortunately, Automattic did not agree, which was a humbling experience. While I can apply again in 12 months, I don’t think that I will. Rather than becoming soured on WordPress, I felt a sort of renewed energy for creating on the platform.

The more I thought about finding a full time job, the more I found myself reflecting on the past thirteen years of independence. When I first struck out on my own, I often felt like an unemployed loser. In my head, my family was a hair’s breadth away from starving to death in a shanty town, reduced to selling cheap trinkets made from our toenail clippings. Over time and with some success, I was gradually able to think of myself as a business owner. We never did starve, and our toenail clipping trinkets are made just for our own pleasure. We’ve had to get creative at times (the Oregon alpaca farm comes to mind), but somehow we’ve always made it work.

The other magical thing that happened to shoo me away from a full time job search was that I suddenly got extremely busy. Big screen printing jobs mean long hours of pushing a squeegee, a writing gig means lots of coffee-filled outlining and collaboration, and I also landed my first WordPress gig. Not bad, considering I had convinced myself that a j-o-b was my thing only three weeks before.

Last week, as I was pushing ink onto my 200th sweatshirt, I suddenly realized that had I been hired at Automattic, I would be scrambling right now trying to figure out how I would be able to show up for everyone, every day, with my brain intact. Forgoing sleep and injecting the coffee comes to mind as a possible solution. But whatever, that did not happen and my brain is still (to a fair degree) intact.

What I also realized is that over thirteen years my brain has also been rewired. I’ve trained myself to work the way I work, meaning that I structure my time in the way that works best for me, rather than an employer deciding that. I’m able to put my energy into things I love and when I need to move on to something else, I just do it.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes push deadlines to their absolute limits. Huge deadline tightrope-walker, me. And yeah, there are days I wonder how we’re going to pay for those little frivolities, rent and food. I don’t enjoy the financial roller coaster. Who likes credit card debt, raise your hand. You, in the back, with the foil hat, you can have mine.

The thing of it is, I don’t want just another “job.” Been there, done that, I literally have the t-shirt. If I take on full time employment, I want it to matter. I don’t need just a paycheck. I need to work with amazing people. I need to work on challenging projects that make a difference, that add something positive to the world.

Maybe that’s a tall order, but I’m going to keep looking until I find it.

How the Bullet Journal Saved My Brain

Note: This is a re-blog from my other site. Used with permission because, well, I wrote it. I said it was cool.

I have a long and weird history with analog organizational products. Starting around age seven, I developed a mild folder fetish, spurred along by gloriously shiny document holders with The Muppets on them. Then there was that year I asked for a Trapper Keeper for Christmas. My mother simply blamed it on my Virgoness and indulged me. I think my father wanted me to see a doctor, or at least a little league baseball coach.

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Art

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

– Andy Warhol

Now is so… now

vegan burger and fries
Photo by Rolande PG on Unsplash

I’m going to be starting dinner soon, but I wanted to get something down here because I’ve been neglecting the blog lately. I’m making vegan burgers and fries. Not quite a gourmet meal, but we all love some comfort food. Anyone else could make it, and I can make lots of other things, but like vegan French toast it’s kind of my thing. I have a system down.

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50

Today I turned 50. Fifty years old. Half a century. Roman numeral L. 

They say that age is just a number and mathematically they are right. Aside: Over the next 50 years, I’d like to devote my life to finding who the people are behind the mysterious “they.” Okay, so not the whole 50, maybe just a half hour.

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Smoke

cough. cough. cough. ahem.

I am feeling super lazy, so for this post I decided to illustrate the sky above Los Angeles right now. It’s filled with smoke, even though the fires are miles away. It’s like living inside a campfire, except there are no marshmallows coming.

The CDC says that being outside right now is like smoking eleventy-million packs of cigarettes (I’m still fact-checking that number because it sounds a bit high). If that’s true then all we need now is a ginormous keg of cheap beer on the bed of a pickup and it’s every party I went to in the 80s.

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