“Shake it, shake it, baby
Shake your ass out in that street
You’re gonna make us scream someday
You’re gonna make us weak.” –Regina Spektor, “Ballad of a Politician”
President Joe Biden. Vice-President Kamala Harris. (First Dogs Champ and Major.) It happened, it’s real. I think I’m still in shock.
For the past four years, January 20th, 2021 was a day I constantly and consistently feared would never happen. There were so many inflection points where it almost didn’t. Especially after the January 6th Capitol insurrection, I have no words for how much I feared violence on January 20th. I couldn’t even watch in real time. I wanted to. But I’m of the we-saw-the-Challenger-blow-up-on-live-TV-in-elementary-school generation, so watching a presidential inauguration potentially end in a mushroom cloud or whatever wasn’t something I could ever prepare for. I scrolled social media to catch glimpses and snippets, then I watched Harris’ oath on replay.
I was totally thrown off guard by the Inauguration Day moment that choked me up the most. It was when they briefly showed the nuke dudes carrying the black box/briefcase things with the nuclear launch codes down the hall to Biden. I actually started sobbing a little, spilling out a torrent of a specific anxiety I hadn’t even realized I’d been carrying for four years: that of Trump, a sadistic autocrat, having access to the nukes. I have had and will have many criticisms of Biden, but in that instant it dawned on me how much I explicitly, one thousand percent trust him with the nuclear codes, and what a pure fucking gift that feels like now.
Beyond that, my emotional and mental experience has been a lot of numbness plus a freight train collision of every other emotion humankind has ever catalogued. I can’t process this momentous occasion – America ousted a dictator, do you know how rare that is?! – in any logical or rational manner. If you can’t either, you’re not alone.
When a threat leaves our life (however momentarily?), it can take awhile – sometimes AWHILE – for our bodies to get the message. If you are not experiencing the sense of joy and relief you anticipated, you’re okay. I’m not either. I really never know what the hell I’m experiencing from one moment to the next. As I slowly internalize the glorious reality that the orange monster isn’t our president anymore, the picture of staggering loss Trump cost America is coming into clearer focus, along with the amount of trauma and stress our bodies were storing with little outlet or escape. It’s an enormous, devastating sadness, even in the relief of a new, lower-case-d democratic administration. I’m often finding it difficult to even feel my feelings, as they say.
All this to say, if you’re not okay, you’re okay. Maybe this is the season for muddling through and finding your core again, maybe it’s the time to release that primal scream you’ve been choking down, or whatever else you need. Take the time. Stare at the ceiling. Cry, or don’t. Listen to Regina Spektor’s “Ballad of a Politician” on repeat. Draw the bath, eat the cake. Drink the wine, punch the couch pillow. Rejoin the fight when you can.
Crab Fried Rice with Jalapeno Aioli
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 medium jalapeno, finely chopped (ribs and seeds removed if desired)
- 1 ½ tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
CRAB FRIED RICE:
- ¼ cup finely chopped shallot (about 1 medium)
- A 2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- 3 tbs canola or vegetable oil, divided
- 4 large eggs
- 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, or Chinese takeout rice
- 8 oz. fresh crab meat, picked over for bits of shell
- Minced cilantro, for garnish
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Add the egg yolks, chopped jalapeno, lime juice, fish sauce, and salt to the bowl of your food processor. Blend on HIGH to combine. Then, with the processor running on HIGH, remove the feed tube and slowly - very slowly! - add the oil in a thin stream. The mixture will thicken and emulsify as you pour in the oil. The process takes roughly 60 seconds.
- TIP: if you don’t want to mess with homemade aioli, whisk the chopped jalapeno, lime juice, fish sauce, and salt into around 1 cup of store bought mayonnaise; I promise, it’s fine.
CRAB FRIED RICE:
- Combine the shallots, ginger, garlic, jalapeno, kosher salt, and white pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tbs canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until very hot. Whisk the remaining 1 tbs oil with the eggs in a small bowl. When your oil is screaming hot, add the eggs, pouring them in a single layer. Don’t touch them for about 15 seconds, or until the edges are setting. Drag a heat-proof spoon or flat wooden spatula through the eggs, scissoring them in fast criss cross motions. Don’t scramble them, but move them around until they are nearly set but not colored, about 15 more seconds.
- Quickly push the eggs to one side of the skillet and add the shallot mixture. Stir to cook the veggies, about 15 seconds. They will soften up fast, stir constantly to make sure they don’t brown or burn. Once they have softened, mix them together with the eggs, continuing to break the eggs up.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring to thoroughly mix everything together, about 2 minutes. Add the crab meat and stir quickly to incorporate and warm the crab meat through. Shut off the heat. Mound the fried rice onto 4 plates and garnish with cilantro. Place lime wedges on everyone’s plates. Serve immediately with the Jalapeno Aioli either in ramekins alongside, or dolloped on top. You will mix it in as you eat. A quick note: you can also serve this by spreading Jalapeno Aioli on the plates and then mounding the fried rice on top of it, if you’d prefer.