That year went quickly. I didn’t mean to abandon anybody, have always said that I’d be clear about the end of this blog when the time came, but then the end came and went and I hardly noticed. I only noticed that I was interested in other things, and that it felt good to let myself be pulled along by the current.
A year ago September, September of 2017, I started work on a proposal for a new book. I had started reading again, more than just my perfunctory fifteen minutes before sleep. Hearing different voices and other people’s thoughts in my head, I started to notice the way they excited me, energized me, made me want to do my own work. So, starting in September of that year, I devoted one of my workdays each week to a new book, a new project. I was embarrassed to tell people that it was another memoir. How mortifying!, how presumptuous!, working on a third memoir and I was only 39. My life has been very ordinary and continues to be: I’m a white woman who comes from and lives with privilege. I try to keep this in my sights, because it’s more important now than ever. I also try to put my head down and shut up and do the work, because the work, the act of writing, is worth it, and I am very lucky to do it. It took eight months, but in May, the proposal was ready, and I was elated to see it land at Abrams Press, where it will be published in 2020. As soon as I finish writing it.
This book is not about food! People tell me this is risky? If this is what danger looks like, I am now someone who lives for it. This book is a story about sexuality, identity, and the many ways we make the thing we call family. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted so much to write any single thing, not the way I want to write this book. I am having to learn how to write it as I go along, without the handy crutch that food and recipes had become for me. Sitting at my desk, on a good day at least, I can almost feel the neurons stretch and zing and ping, reach across a synapse, build a new bridge, connect places that weren’t connected.
I turned forty two months ago, and to celebrate, Ash and I went to Greece, a trip we started planning deep in last winter. I’d wanted to go for years, ever since my friends Christophe and Gemma first went and shared some photos from their trip online. We spent most of our time on the island of Milos, in the western Cyclades, and a little time on Sifnos, too, which is known for its pottery traditions. I quietly set myself a goal of getting more comfortable swimming in open water — you will note that this goal was very open-ended; “getting more comfortable” will never be measured by any yardstick — and little by little, I chipped away at it. Metaphors! I will leave this one here for you.
June is six and is thriving. I feel less like writing about her online, mindful of the fact that she’s going to live in this online world one day and should get to speak for herself. I think it’s okay, though, to mention that she is possibly the world’s number one fan of beans and greens, refuses raw tomatoes and a wide variety of vegetables, lives for meat meat MEAT, and shares my passion for Nerds and sour gummies. Brandon gave me an Instant Pot for my birthday. I checked out Dinner in an Instant from the library, and June, thumbing through it, promptly requested Garlicky Cuban Pork. (Hot tip: do degrease the juices after cooking, preferably with a fat separator.) Ash has also made a bang-up Shrimp Scampi from the same book. We are now Instant Pot believers. If this blog were still thriving, and if it had stayed solely about food, it would probably become one of those Instant Pot blogs.
June took the three photos that follow, using the old Pentax K1000 camera I bought myself in 2008 and film that was left in my parents’ freezer after my dad died in 2002. She calls it her camera now, and these shots are from her second-ever roll. Burg would be proud. Atta girl.
What a pleasure this is. I’d almost forgotten. Thank you.
P.S. Crap, totally forgot: I am teaching a fair amount now! Currently don’t have much scheduled so that I can focus on writing, but I will be teaching a four-day workshop on the craft of food memoir next May, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A dream!
In mid-September, I got out my digital camera for the first time in a geologic age. I’d tried a new-to-me recipe, and it turned out so well that I wanted immediately to rush to Ye Olde Ancient Blog and write it up. So I took the pictures. And then I spent approximately six weeks sitting around on them, perhaps confusing them with an egg and myself with a laying hen. Now here we are! Aged like a fine egg, as the saying goes. You might have heard of this recipe. It deserves to be heard of. David Lebovitz wrote about it back in 2015, and Shauna Sever in 2016, and who knows who else. Now’s my turn, because somehow I…Read more
A couple of weeks ago, while researching rhubarb crumble recipes for the Crisps and Crumbles episode of Spilled Milk (still going strong, 52 weeks a year! and still featuring impromptu hair-metal duets!), I pulled down an old copy of Canal House Cooking, and it fell open to page 57, “Cutlets Smothered in Peas.” That’s when it dawned on me that I had somehow made it to age almost-39 without ever cooking a chicken cutlet, and that my child had somehow made it to age almost-five without ever eating a chicken cutlet. I understand this makes one subject to ridicule and rebuke not only in America, but also in many other parts of the world, including Japan, where panko-breaded, pan-fried chicken…Read more
I got Junie into bed on time tonight, the first night in a week, and to celebrate, I’m sitting at the table, listening to the birds outside, thrilling at the fact that it’s 8:24 pm and I haven’t yet flipped on a single light switch. And because it feels like time is on my side (yes it is, la la la, though probably just for tonight), I wanted to pop in the door and say a small something. Hello. I don’t feel very interested in writing about food. It has felt jarring and incongruous to write about food and cooking these past months, like I’d be doing that old Wizard of Oz number, pulling levers and pushing buttons, yelling Pay no attention to that…Read more
There was a chair in the front window of my teenage bedroom, but I almost never sat there. It faced into the room, because all there was to see outside was the house across the street, with its dirty-blond buzz-cut of a yard and a security system sign staked by the door. The chair was next to my bookshelf, and as such, it mostly collected books I was too lazy to shelve. The only time I sat in it, that I remember anyway, was the day before I left for college. It was late afternoon, maybe early evening. My dad was standing in the doorway, one shoulder against the frame. He’d been keeping me company while I kneeled on the…Read more