Domain Change

Hi all! Just a note to those of you who have subscribed to the RSS or automatic distribution of posts from this site that I have MOVED that service over to my own domain. On the internet the sites look the same, but if you’ve subscribed you’ll need to re-subscribe at my new site. http://www.thoughtsredacted.com. See? It’s even easier to remember!

See you there!

Here we go: On Hillary, feminism, and my promise to the universe

Okay, off the cuff, NO redaction, I’m just going to write this and see what happens.

I’d like to tell you, beloved and probably imaginary audience, about a day in 2008.

I was working as a researcher, a wonderful job with a degree of flexibility. So February 4, I asked my boss if he’d mind if I voted in the morning. I had no idea how long the lines would be or how late it would make me to work, which is why I wanted his permission to do it before work rather than after. He readily agreed, congratulated me on my adherence to civic duty, and made a joke about knowing who I was going to be voting for.

I was glad he thought he knew. The question made my stomach hurt.

A bit further back, I remember excited media speculation about Elizabeth Dole. As her husband ran for president, pundits suggested that she might succeed him eight years later. I remember wondering how I’d feel if the first female candidate for president on a national ticket was someone whose politics fundamentally opposed mine. I remember having vague, up-too-late conversations with floormates in the lounge, wondering whether the United States of America would first be prepared to have a non-white or non-male president: which ingrained prejudice could we overcome first? In 2008, I remember thinking: how strange that that question should be put to this literal test.

But the worst part, in 2008, was that I still didn’t know which candidate to vote for.

February 5, 2008

It was cold that day. Cold for Georgia, anyway, which meant it was mildly unpleasant standing in the long winding line outside the elementary school. We huddled a bit closer together than strangers normally might. And there I was, in line, still not knowing what I was going to do when I got to the end of the line.

I considered my options again. As a woman, I knew I wanted to see a female president. As an ally, I appreciated how momentous it would be to see a non-white president. But as a Democrat, I worried deeply about what four more years of hawkish Republicanism would mean for my country’s role in the international arena. The pressing question, it seemed to me, was which candidate was most electable against the likely Republican candidates.

I reviewed what I knew about the candidates. Fundamentally, their platforms didn’t seem that different to me — or at least, their platforms seemed sufficiently variable and subject to political whimsy that the differences didn’t matter much. But I had felt the charisma oozing from Barack Obama. I remembered the 2004 Democratic convention, at which a friend had been a delegate. I talked to her just after she saw Obama speak. “I just saw the guy who’s going to win the White House in 2008,” she said, and I was struck by her absolute conviction. The man has some presence, you have to admit.

And Hillary Clinton seemed exactly the opposite. Her declaration in 2007 seemed cocky and entitled, and her ads since had seemed like low blow after low blow aimed at Obama, whiny and aghast that she had to compete at all. And editorial after editorial assured me that she was — wait for it — “abrasive.” Nobody who worked in Bill Clinton’s administration seemed to like her. Her campaign for senate felt like machination. After two Georges Bush, she represented the perpetuation of a dynastic system in the United States which seemed fundamentally objectionable. And… abrasive and entitled and weepy and unlikable.

In the end, I was struggling to choose between a guy I found very personable and compelling, whose election offered a significant symbolic impact, and a woman whose only redeeming attribute was her symbolic impact.

I voted for Obama. As did a majority of other voters in the primary that day.

Super Tuesday didn’t end Clinton’s campaign definitively, but it wounded her grievously, and her campaign limped along thereafter. I’ll leave the analysis of that process to others. What I know is this: Super Tuesday changed everything for me. In retrospect.

After Super Tuesday, when Hillary Clinton didn’t immediately withdraw, when she had the audacity to continue fighting for something in which she believed, I couldn’t understand what was going on. Didn’t she understand that we didn’t want her? America doesn’t want you, Hillary. Go away. What did she think was going to happen? Who did she think she was?

I don’t remember exactly what it was that bothered me first. An offhand remark from Obama, I think, that I felt was vaguely sexist. I think I googled it to see if any bloggers out there in the wide cyberverse thought so too. Many did. Some of them had compelling analysis of how Obama’s whole campaign had been sexist. As McCain failed to criticize the subtle racism and xenophobia of his followers, so Obama failed to criticize the privilege, sexism, and patriarchal assumptions of his. I read about this. I learned more about exciting words like “privilege” and “patriarchy.” I read a phenomenal book called Big Girls Don’t Cry by the phenomenal writer Rebecca Traister. I read and read and read.

More importantly, I watched the 2008 campaign. I watched two candidates — not at all comparable in policy, or qualifications I might add, but similar in biological construction — savaged by the media and their colleagues. It felt gross.

And that, my friends, is how I stumbled into the feminist blogosphere, and how my personal rejection of Hillary Clinton in 2008 made me a relatively angry feminist.

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April 12, 2015

Today I sent Hillary Clinton a donation. I thought about it for a minute, because I know how hard it is to get oneself taken off the mailing lists if you express even the slightest interest in a candidate. But I owed her that donation, and I made it, and it felt great.

Here’s the thing: I’m not even going to 100% promise you I’ll vote for Hillary next November. We have no idea what will happen between now and then. Lots could happen. If it’s conclusively proven that she runs a top-secret puppy mill in her backyard, that’s going to piss me off. She could do lots of things that would compel me to make other choices. Another awesome, feminist candidate could suddenly appear and look viable and even more attractive. A satellite could fall out of orbit and land on my head, or Hillary’s. This is not a declaration of undying devotion, is my point.

All this blog post is, is a verbal Kermit-flail of excitement, because y’all, Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to give me a second chance.

Now, dear readers, if you’re thinking any of the things 2008 Me thought about Mrs. Clinton, I’d like you to do some things. Read up on the expectations we place on women (that we don’t place on men) to be charming and sociable. Think about the kinds of conversations we had about Hillary (and Sarah Palin!) in 2008, and whether we’d have similar conversations about candidates with Y chromosomes.  If these things make you angry, maybe spend some time with some Feminism 101 blogs and think a bit about how this bullshit affects all of us, whether we are male or female, whether we embrace the term “feminist” or not. (But Beyoncé thinks you should.)

As for Hillary? There’s lots to evaluate. There’s her record on women’s issues, her demeanor as Secretary of State to a man who trounced her in the polls, her sense of humor, her tenacity in the face of Super Tuesday 2008, her qualifications… there’s a lot. There are compelling arguments against electing Hillary, including the aforementioned dynastic concerns, although we’ll have to be consistent about applying those concerns to the several Bush candidates waiting in the wings. She has obviously spent the past eight years thinking a great deal about her tone — even using the word “tone” makes me cringe a little, but it’s true. The declaration video released yesterday shows none of the entitlement with which so many took issue in 2008. Maybe she’s really ready this time.

But you know what? Let’s talk about that entitlement. The woman is qualified. She’s better qualified than a lot of people who have appeared on national tickets, that’s for sure. She’s at least as qualified as all of them. And she’s wanted this her whole life, and made no secret of it. If Barack “Charisma” Obama hadn’t shown up on the scene in 2008, she probably would have had the nomination in the bag. Our social perspectives on bragging might have made her look a little cocky, but would that have been as offensive in a man? I look forward to watching Jeb Bush run for president and seeing if he does it with abject humility. Certainly his brother was neither cocky nor inclined to use family connections to get where he wanted to go (that’s sarcasm, folks). Clinton’s cockiness in 2008 was, and is, worth an eye-roll, not the loss of votes.

I’m not telling you that you have to vote for Hillary; very far from it. But, my friends, I am definitely asking one thing of you. Let’s all do the next eighteen months critically. Let’s call out the sexist jokes, the eyerolls from male candidates (“Bitches, amirite?”), the dogwhistles about her qualifications and her potential PMS, any comments about pantsuits or cankles or scrunchies, the utter and complete bullshit that appears to be inevitable. Let’s just ask of each other that Hillary be allowed to run on her actual qualifications — and no, for the last time, that does not include anything negative you’ve heard about Benghazi — I mean actual facts. She’s a politician, she’s made enough poor choices and stuck her foot in her mouth often enough that there’s no need for conspiracy theories. And it’s facts on which she deserves to be judged, just like every other person on the ballot along with her.

That’s all I’m asking. Judge Hillary on actual facts, and hold the media and other candidates to that standard. And this time, this blessed second chance I’ve been given, I’m going to hold myself to that standard too.

The Dress, And What It Says About Us

We’re living through an Internet Moment, guys. As silly as it is — and it is sort of silly — this is one of those things we’re all going to refer to down the line, like, “You remember when everybody went nuts suddenly one evening, simultaneously across the country and maybe the world, about a dress?” It’s many things, and it’s monopolizing conversation, and now that it’s a whole 24 hours old the haters are hating. Which bugs. But I’m tired and haven’t finished my first coffee for the day, so I’m not feeling very articulate about why it bugs.

Fortunately, my friend Teeter, of the truly excellent Red Rocket Farm (seriously, please go there and follow/subscribe/read, you’ll thank me) did an excellent job of articulating for me. With her permission:

Yesterday, I was super disappointed in all of you. Let’s try this again, OK? You said:

1. “I can’t believe my whole feed is about a dress. This is a waste of time.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This was a phenomenon! We got to be live, random, accidental data points for a crowd-sourced experiment. We learned that the person sitting next to us could be seeing something entirely different. For a day, we all were scientists. People instinctively began experimenting to figure out why this was happening. Jason held blue light up to my eyes for 30 seconds at a time, hoping I’d see white and gold. Countless friends photoshopped dresses to try and make it look one shade or the other. It was amazing! If this was an exhibit in a cool science museum, you would go home remembering what a strange and special experience it was. I’m sorry that Facebook didn’t entertain you in the way that pleases you, but we were busy obsessing, hypothesizing, experimenting, and being all-around inquisitive minds.

2. “The dress is blue and black/white and gold! Everyone who doesn’t see it this way is an idiot!”

This is like some sort of classic 1960s college experiment meant to turn kids against each other. I see blue and black. You see white and gold. And you know what?

THAT’S SOOOOO COOL!

That’s science and brain hacking and whoa.

So before you prove that you are a bigot by saying that anyone who sees color differently than you is an idiot, think about how this might be a metaphor for understanding other points of view (or races? or religions? I mean c’mon). If you insist on calling people idiots for seeing a white and gold dress, just understand that I hold you responsible for every war anywhere ever.

3. “Don’t care what color that dress is, all I know is it is ugly.” OR “Don’t care what color that dress is, but somebody needs to learn to take a picture.”

Aaaaand we’re back to the bigotry metaphor. Okay, first of all, you shouldn’t care what color the dress is. But you should care WHY we see it different colors, because it’s healthy to have a curious mind. What’s not healthy is insulting something just because you don’t understand it. And that’s what’s happened. You’re rationalizing now “No, I was just making a joke,” but really think about that thought process. You didn’t understand it, your brain said “I’m tired, this makes me tired,” and you said “Fuck it. I’m smart. This isn’t my brain’s fault, this is this ugly-ass dress’s fault.”

So try to stop doing that. It’s super bad! Feelings of anger or disgust at things you don’t understand (or worse, choose not to understand) are not signs of a good person. And you are a good person. I like you a lot (usually).
Also, someone designed that dress, and right now they’re waking up to find it posted all over the internet. This is going to be a weird day no matter what for them, but maybe let’s not make it a day that makes them feel like the entire internet hates them.

So please return to sciencey awesomeness. Please refrain from being a giant metaphor for bigotry.

Another great #yesallwomen response

My friend Dan — who is already awesome because he’s a scientist in the military who makes yarn as a hobby and names his dogs after Fraggles — wrote this. It was his status message and therefore kind of complicated to share, and since I want to share it far and wide, I’m putting it here. (With his permission, of course.)

I’ve been sitting on this for a while, watching friends pour out stories of microaggressions and not-so micro-aggressions. I believe my friends know I stand in solidarity with them, but it doesn’t feel like enough.

I try, mostly, to keep the majority of my politics off my unfiltered friends list (though I’ll be the first to admit I sometimes fail, and no one would ever mistake my opinion on things). But this recent event, these murders in CA, hit something that I hold a little too personally to not say something. I am “that guy” and I’m ok with that.

This post is not about gun control, though I believe in that. It’s not about better access to mental health care without stigma, though I believe in that as well. This is about something that, in some ways, I think we’re even poorer at talking about, that makes us even more uncomfortable. See, even here, on my own space I’m afraid to use the word for fear of scaring people off. The umbrella word is “misogyny”. Using that word scares people and makes people (erroneously) think of bra burning and such, but it’s the correct word.

But the problem I think most needs addressing is not what most people think of when they hear the word. As horrible as these murders were, they were the symptom, not the sickness. The problem is much smaller, and much bigger, and thus much harder to deal with. But, the saving grace is, I think that changing it, on a societal level, requires starting at the lowest, smallest, EASIEST point. On the day to day stuff so many people engage in. Which makes it both easy and hard.

I know that not all people agree with me on this. That’s why I’m “that guy” after all. It’s why I get rolled eyes when I call guys on it at the unit. I don’t really care. It’s the only thing an enlisted guy’s actually gotten angry and challenged me on, and I think that’s telling. Because I believe it IS that important. I believe that cat calls and wolf whistles, “women can’t drive” and “make me a sandwich” jokes do incalculable damage to women and men directly, and even more damage indirectly – by providing cover, by making people like this guy think his perceptions are normal, and making it hard for people to pull him aside and say, “Dude, get your head out of your goddamned ass.”

And to anyone that thinks these things don’t matter… you’re either not listening, or you’re at least presenting that you think those things are ok and thus you’re not safe to confide in.

I don’t say these things for kudos, or pats on the back. I say these things because I believe them in my heart of hearts. I believe that the world would be an infinitely better place if we could just manage that raised eyebrow, or that “Dude, really?” when we catch someone making *yet another* joke, less than 24 hours after sitting through a course on not doing that shit. It really just takes that little. Just expressing your disapproval makes that environment hostile to the assholes, instead of the victims. And know that there are a lot of us “that guys” out there, you’re not alone in thinking we can do better than that bullshit.

So, I have no idea who has actually made it through this thing. Or who’ll take it to heart. If you did, thank you. If you didn’t, maybe you can just go read this: Why It’s So Hard for Men to See Misogyny.

Thanks again, Dan. ❤

A Poem-Letter

Dear A,

I don’t know what you heard me say.

I don’t know what you told them.

I don’t know what you’d told them before.

I don’t know what motivations you might have for telling them things that aren’t true.

I don’t know if things inside you are broken.

I don’t know if things outside you are broken, and you have to build a protective shell.

I don’t know how to ask you these things.

I do know what I said.

I do know what they told my parents.

I do know how humiliating it was to have so many people involved.

I do know how it felt to have everyone wondering if it were true.

I do know that I loved you.

I do know that no explanation in the world can make it not have happened.

Love,

Alden

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Dear Mr. Z.,

You are a shit.

I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about you recently, but every time I have I’ve come back to a place of wonderment that I never said so, to your face. I probably would have been punished: teenagers don’t say things like that to authority figures. But it should have been said, and I wish like hell I’d said it.

I know my parents were over-involved and pushy. I know I was obnoxious and thought I was a special snowflake. But when I found out I was a National Merit Scholar, that should have been a pretty special moment to feel snowflakey about.

Instead, you came to me in the cafeteria and asked me to stand so you could talk to me about something. You didn’t lead me out of the room; you started speaking right there, in what was a surprisingly loud voice for something you’d implied was confidential. And you said, “I just need to talk to you about… are you using birth control? Are you being careful?”

I don’t remember how I replied: if I gasped, or made choking noises, or even laughed. My jaw may literally have dropped open. I remember that I noticed how quiet it had gotten in the area immediately around us, how many people were listening. I remember that I felt naked, like it was that dream where you’re naked in class, only it was real and it was an adult, a teacher, who had stripped me bare.

When you threw your head back and laughed and clapped me on the shoulder and said “Just kidding! You’re a National Merit Scholar! Congratulations!” I’m sure I laughed too. I don’t remember that. I remember the adrenaline buzzing through my limbs, the sick relief in the pit of my stomach. I remember sitting back down and going through the rest of my day in a vague sort of shock, not sure if it was the shock of a pleasant success or a profound trauma. I didn’t have the words for what I was feeling, let alone to articulate what was wrong with what had happened.

I have the words now, though. And they are: You are a shit.

I don’t care why you didn’t like me. It doesn’t matter. That little stunt was inappropriate. You were the adult, I was the kid, and even if there hadn’t been a power differential you would have been out of line.

As I’ve gone through the years since, I’ve learned there are a lot of shits like you, guys who hide the misogyny and bullying in humor. Some of them end up having thriving careers as stand-up comedians or sitcom writers. Some of them run for Congress. None of them are really funny, and we need to practice saying so. If we can’t do it in the moment we need to forgive ourselves, but we need to circle back and say it later. Out loud, in public.

So here you go. You’re not funny, Mr. Z. I hope that somewhere down the line in your career someone managed to say that to your face. I hope that you learned to use your words when you were unhappy with someone. I suspect you didn’t. But rest assured that I learned, and that when I think of Men Who Are Shits, you feature among them. And I’m getting much better at not giggling.

Love,

Alden

Legenwaitforit… NOT (a slightly feminist rant about HIMYM)

It’s been a couple days since the finale of How I Met Your Mother, and the finale hasn’t grown on me. And yes, let’s go ahead and stipulate that no show finale is ever universally popular, and that in many cases you can love the show and not love the finale and be fine. But I keep trying to figure out why I don’t think that could be the case for me with this show — why the finale is going to leave reruns tasting bitter. And a week later, it’s still bothering me.

So I could write this rant including words like patriarchy and misogyny and mentioning that we don’t live in a vacuum. I could anticipate responses and comments and head off a conversation about being humorless. But I don’t want to do those things. I’m too drained to do those things today. And I don’t think I need to do them.

It occurred to me this morning that some of the most troubling issues about the finale (and now the show in general) can be summed up simply by comparing where each of the six major characters was in terms of a personal story arc at the end of the penultimate episode and where they were at the end of the finale. A ridiculous amount changed between those two points in time, but that was the writers’ choice, so it’s fair game to compare the two.

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PENULTIMATE EPISODE

Ted: Perhaps a little sadder, but moving off to be a grownup without his Lily- and Marshall-crutches; generally optimistic about the future.

Robin: Facing her issues with family and self in a relationship with a man who didn’t expect her to overcome them and who embraced (and mirrored!) her eccentricities.

Barney: Realizing that growing up isn’t the end of everything and that there can be sweetness in maturity, honesty, and openness.

Lily: Having a career opportunity as well as a second child, supported in her process of self-actualization by someone she loves.

Marshall: Making a sacrifice for the woman he loves, who is pregnant with his second child — but a sacrifice with a theoretical endpoint that won’t ruin his life, and he gets the wife and kids he wants to boot.

The Mother: Desired, waited for, and welcomed by every member of this ready-made family (including the audience!).

So there’s sadness here, and the difficulties of growing up, but real character development. And hope and opportunity for each and every one of the six.

Now take a look at the finale.

FINALE

Ted: Victorious as a man, landing the woman of his dreams without betraying bro code or being disloyal to The Mother. Cake had and eaten.

Robin: Yes, she has a career, but more importantly she’s realized that she really did want that traditional relationship after all, so thank goodness she gets it and is finally complete.

Barney: Dude got his balls back, amirite? Thank goodness. And then he got even BIGGER balls when he realized he was now responsible for the training and protection (read: shaming and indoctrination) of a little girl. Maturity AND he still gets to be a horndog! Cake had and eaten.

Lily: Pregnant. Do we know anything else about where she is? She appears fulfilled by being Marshall’s wife, the mother of his children, and… whatever else it is she’s doing that isn’t important enough to mention.

Marshall: Okay, he had to go through some years of emasculation, but now his wife is pregnant with his third manifestation of virility and his professional peers recognize his prowess. Cake had and eaten.

The Mother: Dead.

I’m just saying. Here we have three men and three women. In the first ending, all six have bittersweet but hopeful futures. In the second, there’s a pattern. And the worst part is, I seriously doubt the writers thought about any of this explicitly. The penultimate episode felt unfinished, to us and to them, because it’s not how we’re used to stories being finished — and that’s what would have made it great. The final episode wrapped it up nicely in the way sitcoms “should” wrap up — including the latent misogyny with which we’re so thoroughly comfortable — and that’s why I won’t be able to watch episodes in syndication.

It could have been legendary. Unfortunately, in its final minutes, HIMYM proved that it was completely forgettable.

Left on the playground

Dear Mrs. K,

I am sorry I was late coming back inside after lunch. I set myself a goal today, you see: I was going to climb all the way around the snow piles. The big, beautiful ones that get made when they clear off the ice rink. I was pretending I was an explorer in Antarctica. I started at a clear spot with my back to the school and I walked to the left.

But you know how hard it can be to walk in snow, especially when you are little and the snow is deep. The wind has made a crust on the deep snow too. When I stepped on it, it crunched open and my boot sank deep into the soft snow underneath. Sometimes the snow got into my boot, and when it melted it hurt my skin. But I kept going! I have read about brave Antarctic explorers and how cold and dangerous their trips can be. So the least I can do is keep climbing when there is cold snow down my leg. One crunchy step after another.

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Continue reading

The Shadow Box

Well, it’s done! And I think this thing is really cool! I don’t have that feeling all the time about my art projects, so this is nice.

We left off with a couple of layers of paint on the box and picture frame that I’d picked out to house my Dia de los Muertos miniatures from California.

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In that last picture I posted, you can just see one of the embellishments I bought from Etsy to see if it would work. It’s a cool paint-your-own skull with wings.

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Once it arrived, it occurred to me that it would look really good if painted by a miniature master. Fortunately, I happen to be married to one of those. So I handed it over and he got out his teeny-tiny brushes and got started.

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While he was working on that, I put several more layers of the metalic gold paint on the picture frame, and then a couple of layers of gold glitter paint.

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I lined the back only of the box with a sheet of glitter-covered foam from the dollar store. Then I started attaching some confetti spangles to the inside of the box, and to one of the smaller box lids, which I planned to use as a stage/step area to raise the figures up a little.

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But then I had a brainwave. I remembered a random tin heart I’d received as a freebie when I bought some fabulous earrings from a friend-of-a-friend, Artista Muerta (who has an Etsy shop if you’re interested!). I didn’t have any real plans for the tin heart but it was perfect for this project. So in it went, and I spangled the whole floor instead of the step. I was a little worried that the Mod Podge would flatten or dull the sparkly spangles, but it didn’t.

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The next step was to shimmy the box into the picture frame and stick them together so the box edge didn’t gap away from the frame. I used Loctite paste for this, because I have coordination problems that lead to unfortunate situations with liquid SuperGlue. If I had a nickle for every time I glued my fingers together… One time a few years ago I tried something rated for metal-on-metal adhesion and I was worried I was going to have to go to the hospital for a skin graft if I ever wanted to use my thumb in its opposable capacity again. No joke. So I learn these things about myself, and I work around them. As I said: adhesive paste. Also painter’s tape, so I didn’t have to stand there like an idiot for an hour.

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I gave Husband’s precious skull 24 full hours to dry (again, because I learn lessons, including the one when my stencils ran on the Little Free Library!) and then I gave it a serious bath in clear spray-on sealant. If I may digress for a minute, here is a picture of the pizza box after the sealant dried. I am in love with the way this looks and I feel another art project coming on!

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Once the sealant was dry, I attached the winged skull and ten jumbo-sized aluminum roses (also inspired by Artista Muerta’s jewelry and similar stuff I saw in LA), also using Loctite paste. It’s only been a day but so far that stuff seems pretty serious, as adhesives go. AND I have ten independently usable fingers today! I call that a win.

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So here it is, in all its glory:

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Korean-esque pumpkin seeds!

So I’ve had these two pumpkins sitting on my kitchen counter since the third week of October. Fortunately, pumpkins are kind of self-contained and long-lasting, if you don’t carve them. I finally got around to doing anything with them this weekend. And by “anything” I mean, of course, “the best thing.”

First, I discovered something that is in retrospect self-evident but was very exciting. I put on a yucky old t-shirt and got ready for slimy upper arms and then I realized that since the time for jack-o-lanterns is long over, I didn’t have to stick my arm in the pumpkin! I could just whack that puppy in half and scoop it out like a civilized person!

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I washed the seeds to get rid of most of the yucky stuff…

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Then I sprinkled them liberally with salt and left them to dry overnight.

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After browsing recipes online for forever, I decided to ditch them all and try my own. This is about creativity, right? So I decided I wanted to start with gochujang as my central ingredient, because I have been on a kick with this stuff in the last couple of months. It’s this fabulous spicy pepper paste used in a lot of Korean dishes, and I buy it at H-Mart.  You can put it on anything and everything is improved by it. Seriously, get some. (And note: it also comes in squeezy bottles!)

But I knew applying gochujang directly to seeds was going to make them very painful to eat, if it didn’t start an outright fire in my oven. So I scrounged around in my fridge and came up with some dumpling sauce (which is NOT soy sauce, but a bit more complex and more oily). I also added garlic powder because more garlic is always okay.

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I greased the bottom of a glass pan, using sesame oil to keep the flavors sort of in the same Asian family.

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Then I baked at 300° for about 40 minutes, stirring every 10. I should say that the recipes I was looking at called for a full hour of baking, but at 40 minutes these guys already looked seriously done. Not burned, but almost.

I also just realized I forgot to take a picture of them when they came out of the oven, because I was too busy eating them. So here is a picture of a small portion on my desk at lunch today.

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To be honest, most of the spiciness seems to have baked away, and they mostly taste salted. But they do have a really pleasant, very mild afterburn. All things considered I’m pleased, although next year I might triple the amount of spicy paste!