stream of consciousness: march 2015

this is a stream of consciousness—i’m writing anything that comes to my mind.

On Friday I went to the dentist and they fixed a tooth that got chipped while I was eating a bowl of salad I made with Trader Joe’s fancy Red Quinoa. This particular tooth was already fucked up—a snaggler that jutted out taller than the others on the front bottom row of my mouth. In middle school, when my appearance became a sudden and painful new part of my every day consciousness, I was really embarrassed of it. I covered my mouth when I laughed to avoid people noticing it. But eventually I got over it and didn’t care anymore. Every time I changed dentists and they asked me if I wanted braces, I’d defend its right to stay. “It’s fine and it’s not gonna hurt me right?” But on Friday they changed it. They first added whatever gunk they put on it to account for the missing chip, then asked me if they should just file it down. “Uhhh…Yeah.” I nodded, while my mouth was held open. “Great! It’ll only take a second.” When they started, I realized that it’d lose it’s charm. My teeth would be boring now. I’d lose my ability to make weird bite marks on apples…! But it was too late. They had an electric filing device in my mouth filing that lil’ guy down…

~

Saxophones haven’t been cool for as long as I remember. It was at its pinnacle while John Coltrane and Charlie Parker ruled the jazz scene. But then who killed it? Kenny G might’ve been the first wave of uncooling, then was the sexy sax man the final nail in the coffin or was it just making fun of the complete utter deadness of its cool? Anyway, I think it’s creeping back into the mainstream. It’s in that Ariana Grande song, in Macklemore’s Thriftshop, and Big Gigantic does it electronica-styles.

One night a few weeks ago I was under-the-influence wandering around the Internet and I found this Tiny Desk Concert session with Moon Hooch. They sounded nothing like anything I’ve heard before, despite being just three white dudes who looked like they just got plucked out of Humboldt County. I was hypnotized by their performance, recorded in that awkward little NPR studio. So I immediately bought tickets to see them when I saw that they were coming to SF.

The show was on Friday and it was pretty amazing. As Andrew said they were a mix between being really talented musicians and being strangely comedic in their performance. I feel the same way, but I wonder if it’s just because I still can’t shake the thing about saxes being the butt-of-the-joke instrument. But that actually made me enjoy the show MORE. I feel like I mostly see the same instruments being played on stage, and while I appreciate talent with those, they’re just something extra eventful about seeing that kind of artfulness with instruments you don’t usually enjoy. So yeah, it was good.

~

In the bathroom I found this sticker on the stall door. This is how I feel about writing/painting/reading:

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– fin –

life is so much better when your throat isn't a festering mess

on Monday i felt good—stressed, but good. my day started early with a conference call, dense with meetings, and ended with me teaching choreography to some others in preparation for the big climate action that was planned for this weekend in Oakland. By the time i was in bed, i was exhausted by the full day while undeniably worried about the things I didn’t get to.

dammit i didn’t respond to that email yet and i didn’t get a chance to check in with **** about that task why can’t i get that blog post done yet that doc has been open for a week now would ***** think it’s rude if i didn’t respond to that DM i just don’t know what to say fuck i think my roommates and i need to sort that issue out but it’s impossible for us to meet in person i have to write a diplomatic email to everyone man i really don’t like my hair right now is getting a haircut for growing it out a thing i haven’t been eating healthy enough i need to make better lunches for myself that conference is coming up i have so much to do for it, for all of it ………….

on Tuesday i woke up feeling, again, like a creaky old lady. My body hurt, my head hurt, my throat hurt. But i had some stressful calls i had to do so i worked all day from bed in wrapped in my down comforter wearing two layers on all my body. my teeth still chattered. It got really bad by the evening—sweats, fever, no appetite, and god awful pain everywhere—it was even worse by the next morning. People close to me thought i was dying and told me to go see my doctor.

“Say ‘ahhh’.”
“Ahhhhhhh~”
She shined a light down my throat and says “Yikes. That’s strep alright.”

She then told me the lymph nodes in my neck were so swollen i might have to get them drained. wut. o_o “I’ll set up an appointment for you at a head and neck specialist tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I’m gonna get you going on antibiotics.” i told her this was the second time i got it in 6 months. “Have you been under some stress lately?”

thankfully the head+neck specialist didn’t need to drain anything nor remove my tonsils (yay) but also asked me about my stress. “y’know, that can have a huge impact on health—not sleeping well, not eating right—it can all add up and do a real number on your immune system.”

yes, fine. i’m stressed. i always have so much to do and so much on my mind. maybe it’s that i wake up every morning and listen to Democracy Now’s war and peace report, a thing i started to do as a way to motivate myself to fix the broken messed up world. i can’t give that up though—the constant hum of indignation that i feel in my bones is a part of who i am. it colors my actions and decision every day to do work that could make the world better, more just, or just make some more goddamn sense.

i don’t know. i think it’s a lot of things i need to reassess about my life, but i’m not gonna stress about my stress. i’m gonna try and stop worrying about things that are out of my control and that aren’t part of my current task at hand. to be more present throughout the day so that i’m still productive, but not wasting my brain-energy fuel on those dumb nagging feelings in a way that’s unhelpful and exhausting. that’s probably a good first step.

bike ride to point bonita

warning: this is a broring photo life update

It was a gorgeous sunny day out on Saturday so we decided to go out for an afternoon bike ride up to Marin, across the big ol’ Golden Gate.

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Tourists were out in droves, but I couldn’t blame em. The Bay looked ridiculously clear and it felt like the kind of summer you earned after a bitter wet winter…which of course we hadn’t. 😐

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On the way back as I was biking back home up Market Street, I was hit by a car. But I was hit very, very slowly. So slowly it was more like I was gently shoved over. The guy immediately got out, apologized profusely and stuck out his ID for me take a photo. I wasn’t hurt at all though, except maybe my road-confidence. Honestly a giant pine cone that fell out of a tree and stuck the same spot earlier that day hurt more and left a bigger bruise.

Anyway, it was a great day and I needed it. I’m expecting Fast Track to get introduced any day now so I knew I had to recharge to get ready to fight.

I’M READY.

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what's the point of modern trade policy?

At my job, a major project has been the fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Specifically, I organize EFF members to oppose the many digital policies that would impact how signatory countries implement laws—the underlying problem being that the negotiating texts are kept secret from the public while it’s overwhelmingly influenced by major corporate interests. So I spend a significant amount of time reading, and watching the politics behind US trade policy, in order to identify opportunities and targets for direct action.

Over the last 3 years or so that I’ve been watching these TPP talks unfold, one of the things that confound me is how proponents—mostly the White House and some Congress members—defend this and other secretly negotiated agreements. The primary argument is that enabling “free trade” and breaking down protectionist barriers will mean job creation and economic growth. Job creation and economic growth…they both sound like wonderful motives, but the implication that this means that more people, in the US, would live more prosperous, stable lives seems to be extremely dubious.

What we should be asking is, what kind of jobs would this lead to? And at what cost? For example, one of the big arguments I hear for the XL Keystone Pipeline is that it would lead to employment of thousands of workers. But first, how permanent are those jobs, will they be paid well, and what are they actually doing to promote a sustainable future? The jobs that project would create are those that would be paying individuals to literally help shove poison into the earth, and into our water. You can’t think about public policy in such a narrow, irrelevant frame as “job creation”, especially if that means nothing more than putting people at work at a task that doesn’t pay well enough for people to live healthy, decent lives.

When I hear that justification for a policy, what it sounds like to me is a more twisted version of trickle down economics. By helping mega-corporations to make more profit (even if it means infringing on people’s rights, even if it means putting peoples’ lives at risk) they can hire more people and spread that wealth all around. That’s just not how this happens though—companies aren’t incentivized to hire more people for the hell of it, because they can. They’ll only do it if it means yielding more or better product, so they can capture even more profit…

Now’s not the time to flesh this out as much as I’d like, but the point I want to get to is the huge deception of modern trade policy. What they, trade delegates, allege is being negotiated for the benefit of their nation, is actually only for the benefit of the wealthy, influential figures in that given nation. That’s why each country is willing to give up flexibilities on other policies as long as the dominant industry gets its deal. For instance, Vietnam may be willing to cave in to worse copyright rules, insisted by mainly Hollywood companies, as long as it gets better access to US’ textile/clothing markets. That isn’t a reflection of what the people of Vietnam want or need, it’s just that of the powerful textile manufacturing industry.

So if other countries agree to more extreme digital policies, it may harm future opportunities for the tech industry to thrive there. The US, in having the most flexible copyright rules, might be the country where starting certain tech businesses might be more conducive, while it forces other countries to worse rules that would prevent such industries to thrive there. Is this the point of trade agreements? I know for sure that they’re now solely there for the purposes of propping up private industry, but is part of the goal, the point, to have countries become more specialized producers for certain products?

burning man: re-thinking privilege in a not-so-make-believe world

I wanted to experience it myself. No matter how many things I’d heard and read, I knew I wasn’t getting the whole picture. Wasn’t willing to listen to that little voice of judgment, and honestly, that cowardice that whispered:

“there’s no way you’ll survive out there.
the sun, the dust, the port-a-potties, and no showers for a week.
it’s gonna be seeped in privileged, extravagant, techie bro-ttitude …
it’ll be too much.
all of it will make you feel gross inside and out…”

for the last few years these murmurings stifled the pangs of curiosity I’ve been having about it.
But I didn’t want to care what other people said. I don’t hate on something until I understand what it is, and I only care or feel like I have the place to critique a thing until I do.

the day I was really convinced was when I was getting lunch with an old close friend of mine, Martina. I’m notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people so I didn’t even know that she’d gone. This person, one of my favorite people, was someone I didn’t really expect to go to a huge neo-hippie festival in the middle of the desert. It caught me off guard. As I listened to her talk about it, I kept prodding her with questions. She described things she experienced that seems so otherworldly, so unexpected, like a wacky sci-fi world. It suddenly sounded so fucking cool. If she was into it this much, the odds were I would be too.

When it started to become time to make the commitment, I started dating a guy who’d been going for the past several years. he sealed it for me. how could I not try at this point, when so many people, my people, were into it? I wanted to know if I could do it and survive. I wanted to know what the big deal was.

so, I decided to go to Burning Man.

It starts months and months before. At the time it seems like an ungodly amount of preparation, but looking back at it it’s really part of the experience. for your first time, the thing you need to focus on (and quite honestly, all you can really handle) is to figure out how to go and how to survive. Everyone warns you about the excruciating heat, the suffocating dust storms, and the unforgivingly cold, dark nights. I read almost every discussion board and took every random piece of advice I got from friends and strangers about what I needed for the trip. I hadn’t gone on a real camping trip in ages so I was pretty insecure about my outdoor survival skills.

Then there was the planning you need to do if you’re in a camp. I ended up joining Martina’s, which consisted of friends or friends-of-friends of the people who camped together the previous year. We were 60 people, from around the world, most of whom were complete strangers to one another. The process of organizing everything for this many people across 8+ time zones was a feat in itself. We had to plan our food, water, grey water disposal system, shade structure, seating area, signage, etc. etc. I wanted to do everything I could to contribute and be helpful…but I’ll be totally honest and say that I also did it too because I was worried things wouldn’t get done.

In the end, my camp came together remarkably well. It was satisfying to be able to rely on a bunch of total strangers. Everyone was expected to contribute and work collaboratively to build what became our home for that week. pretty much everyone pulled through where it mattered. I was proud that we all created a way that we could all live together on a square plot of dry hard dust, and that we managed to not be a total mess.

In some ways, I guess I should’ve expected this. Burning Man isn’t a place for people who just talk about doing things. It doesn’t matter what you say or plan to do, all that matters is that you did it. That goes for anything you bring to the Playa, to what you end up doing when you’re there. It’s an opportunity to flex cooperative abilities and your giving abilities. At the same time you’re challenged in your willingness to be creative and open to new opportunities, you need to be socially and environmentally aware.

It’s all held together by some basic, intuitively sensible rules. Leave no trace and pick up any Matter Out Of Place. Respect each other’s boundaries. Give and receive whatever you can. You respect these rules because they’re not arbitrary. They’re designed out of utility for the security and happiness of the people who choose to be there. In this way they’re freeing, not inhibiting. These basic rules reflect the event’s slow evolution. I was told that they were the result of lessons learned from tragic accidents and the inevitable necessity for more structure as the city grew and grew each year.

And as it grew, it seems that it became more and more like the world people came there to escape.

That ability to escape is really only something privileged people can do. You need to have the money to spend, and the ability to get time off to disconnect from your job and your other responsibilities. But even then, why Burning Man? Why not spend the time and the resources to go on a relaxing vacation? Why not go into the mountains, surround yourself with thick rustling trees or sprawl out next to some cool peaceful beach?

it’s because the challenge of it’s thrilling. It’s novel to be part of something so big and cooperative. There are few places in this world that invite you to participate and engage in the creation of a shared experience. It forces you to push your comfort zones in ways you never would’ve conceived.

but, as nothing really is, it’s not removed from the real world. Or what Burners call the “default world,” and the very real inequalities in power, influence, and money.

You see it all around. there’s the turnkey camps, where people pay others to set up a camp for them, sometimes coming as a package with expensive chefs, butlers, and the like. Apparently, some of them compose their camps so no one can walk through their whole set up. I saw small clans of segways zoom past me. Sometimes I noticed art cars or camps with older white men sitting at a throne or up high, higher than anyone else, flanked by what I can only imagine to be paid models and dancers in coordinated burner-esque outfits.

It’s gross, for sure, but I was also fascinated by how wealth was manifested there. I guess the point of being in one of those enclosed, turnkey camps is that you get to be all cushy and comfortable while experiencing the dense sensory barrage that unfolds in the desert.

but to me what that shows is two different things:
either, these people are just cowards who don’t think they could handle the harsh environment of the Playa like most do, or they’re just unable to be self-sufficient or work with others well enough to do it themselves. A huge part of being out there is what you do for survival, whether you do it by yourself or with a group. if you’re completely unprepared there are some ways for you to rely on others to get by. But the whole deal is that you think about the basic needs you have, and make sure you take them with you. in theory, the rest of it is about giving and sharing.

What those turnkey camps signify is how its inhabitants don’t know how to be self-reliant. If they do, it’s silly that they’re coming to an event in which that is one of its core principles, and instead, choose to be observers, non-participants. What’s gross about it isn’t that it seems unfair that they “get” to have those set ups, it’s that they’re exploiting the cooperative nature of the Burning Man experience and using it as a backdrop for the cushy vacation they could really have anywhere else.

Decommodification
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

In the default world you can never ignore the existence and power that money quantifies and signifies.
one goal out there is to try to suspend its grip on our lives, for just a few days. thousands go to play this game of make believe.

people go to be extravagant in their own way. you can’t ignore the privilege, the wealth, because you can’t go unless the time, the resources, the ability, AND the desire for relentless, expressive, experimental energy that’s all been taken to its absurd extreme. everyone who goes is privileged in this way. the layers of pre-existing, institutionalized power inequities always give certain people access to more things, and out there, to more of those extremes. but to me, it seems like the people who choose to drag their privilege out there with them lose out from actually understanding the point of burning man. i’d imagine it’s hard to experience the raw, unpredictable intimacy of a place where respect and trust comes from being able to be happy to give as much as you are happy to receive. you can’t be as grateful for those surprise gifts if you isolate yourself and bring too much comfort out there with you.

So. I’m glad I got to go and see what it’s like when people are free to question all previous spoken and unspoken rules….how you’re supposed to dress, speak, act, relax, connect, feel, and express to others, it’s all thrown out the window and we’re all dared to rebuild it from scratch. I truly believe it could do more to challenge our default norms, especially our socio-political ones. Since no one in particular is in charge of that, I’m thinking of doing it myself somehow.

state of mind, aug 2014 (stream of consciousness)

A stream of consciousness:

The word I’d use to describe how I’ve been feeling is “overflowing”
in the sense that I’m being affected by so much right now often I can hardly contain the enormity of it all.

First off, shit is hitting the fan. I know that’s been this way, for god knows how long, and whether it’s worst now than before is arguable…but it’s now manifested in such a violent, visible way that it’s become fucking hard to ignore it. Gaza. Ferguson. Obama’s shit show of a “Liberal” presidency and his crackdown on truth and justice. The whole god damn institutional economic societal mess. It’s just too much sometimes. I’ve been following the Ferguson situation, and before that, what was happening in Gaza. It’s all terrifying, it’s incomprehensibly horrible and I hate that I feel like it’s too much to fix.

Maybe the worst part about it is that now we KNOW that things are broken. At least more and more people do. And we’re better at talking about it, sharing stories taking photos and videos of it. But what are we supposed to do? Where do we go from here? It’s almost like the ~powers that be~ aren’t even ashamed or sheepish about the fact that the current whack composition of power in our world, in this country, in our states, and down to our cities are leading to people getting murdered, left to die, and even being oppressed for talking about it.

We’re being targeted for telling the truth. For exposing the lies, money-laundering, murders, torturing, that is done in our name, paid for by us, justified for the ineffectual self-serving purpose of “national security” — which is of course completely undermined by these acts of violence and corruption. These things are what breed insecurity.

Security comes from making people feel healthy and stable in their lives. Trust. Sustainability. Awareness. The right to know what is happening when they trust others with the power to make decisions over their society. The right to have laws that reflect common interests. The right to have access to knowledge and resources that create both autonomy and stable co-dependence…

Soo….

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller

and

“The movement of change is much the builder as the destroyer.”
– Alan Watts

These quotes to me represent what I imagine a revolution to be. Not a violent overthrow, but a slow, coordinated construction that enables and builds security in its very edifice. I have some vague ideas about what this would mean in practice but I’m still gathering information and experience to figure out what and how this could be done in practice. A significant part is the cooperative model. As I’ve said before, I feel that a well-run cooperative is a building block for a better democracy. Cooperatives enables both autonomy and co-dependence from its members/owners/workers (which can all be one in the same).

I need to learn more and experiment more to identify better possible solutions.
It’s too heavy for me to pay too close of attention to what happens sometimes, in the areas outside the bullshit that I’m fighting in my realm. I force myself to it every morning, every day following activists on the ground on twitter and listening to alternative news. I want to feel like I’m doing something. Talking about how awful it is and reporting about it can’t be my role because I’m not fit for it. It’s too exhausting for me.

The people who do do it deserve all the respect in the world. Brave investigative journalists have one of the hardest jobs imaginable: looking for and staring hard at the ugliest side of humanity. People need to know about the ugly because we’ve become so good at hiding it and ignoring it. Their job is to make us see it and know it.

The question is, for those of us who are willing to acknowledge the brokenness, what we are going to do about it. Being angry, ashamed, and depressed about it won’t get us anywhere.

What the fuck are we gonna do about it.

a new twitter account for my thoughts n' taste

I have a weird relationship with Twitter.

So the obvious: it’s amazing for finding out what’s happening, what people are talking about. I love the rawness of it, especially when you can read how people are reacting to things in real time and you see their opinion or thoughts evolve in front of you. I learn so much from interacting with people that I otherwise probably wouldn’t even have known existed.

But man it stresses me out. Sometimes reading my main timeline is like going to a giant room with a fascinating party filled the world’s best journalists, activists, writers, academics, AND your friends, all speaking at the same time, with well-written long-form news reports being broadcast from speakers, AND art+culture+tech magazines being beautifully displayed on the walls. It’s too much at once. I have to be on it for work to find out what’s happening in my realm of copyright and innovation policy, so I tend to take breaks from it over the weekend.

The other exhausting part of it is the “personal brand” thing. For my workier account, I want to maintain my professional voice. The part of me that wants to educate and get people to share the same anger/delight/curiosity that I have for the happenings that I see. It’s the part of me that has no patience for bad journalism, bad grammar, and uninsightful comments. I want to be put together, accurate, and authoritative.

But that’s not all me. I think stupid (but awesome?) mundane stuff too. There’s music I want to share, opinions about art or esthetics or even the fucking weather if I so please. If I’m suddenly inspired to write a haiku about that moment I had with a stranger on the Muni, or about that funky but delicious smell, where do I put that? For me that doesn’t jive with @Maira, the character that I have up there.

So yeah, I made another account.

It’s not because that side of me is a secret or I’m ashamed of it at all. It’s just that I don’t wanna impose these thoughts on people who follow my other one who don’t give a shit about this other stuff. I totally don’t blame them. I guess it’s my way of not contributing to that thing about Twitter that stresses me out the most, that awesome-fascinating-clusterfuck-party part. I want to help people follow the conversations that they care about, and if that means I just have to have another account that lets my spew my pointless thoughts, thazz okay. I’m still not completely used to letting my thoughts drivel on to this new one but I’m working on it.

embracing this thing called feminism (AKA: i've been a twit for too long)

I was at a meeting last week in Port Dickson, Malaysia on “Gender, Sexuality, and the Internet.” The goal of this meeting was to come out with principles for a feminist internet, and around 40+ women were flown from around the world, mostly from the global south, to hammer out a starting framework for what that would look like. It was an incredibly honest, productive conversation that took place over 5 days. It was one of the most intellectually demanding AND rewarding conferences I’ve ever been to, and by the end of the week, I had immense love and respect for everyone who was there.

GenderSexInternet Working Group

The thing is…I had a bit of cold feet before the meeting. Mostly, it’s my continued awkwardness around the word “feminism.” For a long time, I’ve carried some significant personal critiques about the name for this movement (which I will go into in another blog post). It was with these criticisms that I was able to justify my lack of engagement or even discussion of gender and sexual inequalities that are found in almost every facet of social relations.

But I realized last week that was a total bullshit cop-out on my part. I realized, after some considerable self-reflection, that I was taking comfort in the privileged upbringing I had not to talk about or even acknowledge sexism as a discernible fact in our institutions and in our day-to-day interactions.

Whether or not I actually did face it, I never felt wronged or disadvantaged because of my sex and gender identity. I continued to live my life from bubble to bubble, in places where there was both an acute awareness of gender, but was occupied by strong role models who were women or identified as GLBT—in my family, my schools, and all the offices where I’ve worked. In those spaces, sexism and heteronormativity didn’t present itself as a glaring injustice.

Whenever I faced a circumstance where I felt threatened by someone, whether in a long-term, not-so-long-term, or random sudden situation, I dealt with it and moved on. Even though I’d heard the statistics, knew that sexual abuse wasn’t just these one-off things, I went on convinced that it was just something wrong with those particular people. When it was my dear friends who were targeted—and too often, the same ones again and again—I was annoyed that they didn’t stand up for themselves, that they would get themselves in these situations in the first place by letting those toxic people in their lives. I even remember saying things like we weren’t alone, that millions of women face horrible sexual abuse every day. But the way I said it, it was almost like I was suggesting it was an unavoidable aspect of our society.

Yes. I was totally. Clueless. And the worst part about it was that I’ve been willfully so. This makes no sense because I fucking politicize everything around me. If I made any effort, I could see power and structural injustice in almost anything. But sex and gender? Ooh, it was just too exhausting to go there.

Another major way I justified disengagement was that I was convinced I was working on “bigger” issues. I wanted to think about our political economy, about how we’re screwing the commons, about why and how democracy is broken and what we can do to fix it. I truly thought sexism wasn’t “my fight” and that having to think about and address those issues was beyond the capacity of my work.

** Please know that I am sincerely ashamed of all of this. **

Attending this conference forced me to face my own ridiculous, lazy, justifications for why I hadn’t confronted the deep horrible fact of institutionalized, socialized forms of sexism. Of course it was uncomfortable for me to come to terms with it, and I had to get over my damn ego to accept it. Hearing the work that the other participants are doing around the world—empowering women’s economic autonomy through the internet, giving various kinds of support to sex workers, providing young queer kids a loving community, and working towards having sexual orientation and gender identity recognized as another variable to human rights abuses in international law…it was this kind of work, this pragmatic, direct form of feminist practice that shook me out of my willful disregard.

I now feel dutifully obligated to do more to address this issue in a way that I never have before. I’m completely at a loss for what that entails, and what I can do to personally add to this feminist movement…but that’s okay. I know that’ll take some thinking. In the meantime, I really need to come to terms with what “feminism” even means. As I said before I still have problems with calling myself a feminist, even though by it’s best, most inclusive definition, I should consider myself one big ragin’ one.

The next thing I write about this is gonna tackle that. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated.

nukazuke

Japantown is only 3 blocks out of my way from my bike commute to work, but I’ve only recently started going to the Japanese food market on a regular basis. They have pretty great vegetables and their meat is organic/antibiotic free. If you get there an hour before they close, they sell their leftover bento meals for 25% off so you can get a decent Japanese meal with roasted fish, stewed vegetables, brown rice, pickles, and whatnot for 4 bucks. A damn good deal if you ask me.

Anyway. I was there about 2 weeks ago and they were selling a nukazuke set. I’ve been meaning to try my hand at this Japanese fermentation pickling since my mom started doing it down in LA a little while ago. So I went ahead and bought it. The set contained a bag of ground, roasted rice bran, strips of konbu (kelp), a few dried red chili peppers, and a packet of salt.

Nukazuke ingredients
Nukazuke ingregients

First, you dissolve the salt in hot water, which you then let cool.

Then you mix the other ingredients in a bowl and slowly pour the salt water into the dry mixture until it becomes this soupy mud-like gunk. You pour that into a ceramic container or glass tupperware, which is what I did.

Before you can actually start pickling vegetables to eat, you have do several rounds of “sutezuke” which literally means “trash pickles.” You get pieces of vegetables you don’t wanna eat and mix it into the nukamiso so you extract some of the salt and feed the bacteria so they get stronger and happier. (You can use vegetables you’d want to eat otherwise, but it’d just be a waste to turn them into trash pickles.)

Sooo, I found a bunch of asparagus in my fridge so I snapped off the bottoms and stuck em in the nukamiso. Tomorrow I’m gonna get some apples and peel them to feed the lil guys. According to some blogs that apparently helps to make the pickles a bit sweeter later on. I’d think it also speeds up the fermentation process better than something like asparagus because of the higher sugar content in the apple.

Then you have to mix it with your hands every day to aerate it. If you want it to ferment the vegetables faster, you can leave it out in a cool dry place. But if you want it to slow down, you just stick in the fridge.

It sorta feels like I’m getting a pet that I need to feed and give oxygen to…and get pickles in exchange. Excited to see how it turns out.

picklin' time