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!
It seems lately that I’ve found a lot of good reasons to not cook – or, if I do cook, to not cook anything new or anything that requires more than a passing thought. I’m a big champion of scrambled eggs for dinner, as you likely know, and a seven-minute egg on anything that holds still, and I could eat Ed Fretwell Soup for an entire week of every month. I am currently in a very pleasant rut of all of the above, plus whatever-is-in-the-fridge-cut-up-and-dunked-in-vinaigrette and a decent amount of pizza from my own establishments, because what is the point of having restaurants if you can’t eat in them, right? Someday I will cook something new and write about it. But not today.…Read more
Every year, my friend Brandi takes her preteen niece Paige on a trip for spring break, and this year, June and I went along. Last week, the four of us spent four days exploring the Grand Canyon and nearby Antelope Canyon, eating trail mix (the kind with M&Ms in it, the only kind), and feeling a quasi-religious level of gratitude that the flat tire we got while driving between the aforementioned canyons didn’t occur in the desolation of mid-desert but rather in the parking lot of one of only two gas stations along the route. Somehow, June is now big enough to carry her own backpack. My life passes before my eyes. Back at home, I find that we have reached, yet again,…Read more
No one awake but us
On the night we got there, when we checked in, the lady at the front desk wrote out the wifi network and password on the corner of a pad of paper, ripped it free, and handed it to me. I slid it into my phone case, so that I wouldn’t lose it, and last week, three months later, I noticed it still wedged there. “How’s that Rancho Pescadero wifi working for you?” Brandon says, peering over my shoulder. “Little slow, from 2,000 miles away?” I roll my eyes, yank out the scrap of paper, and crumple it up. But when he looks away, I press it flat again and slip it back in. I first heard about Rancho Pescadero was from a couple of Delancey neighbors and longtime…Read more
Yes yes yes
Last November, I got an e-mail from a fourth grade public school teacher in Sitka, Alaska, inviting me and Brandon to be part of a classroom project he was planning. The project would be called the Perfect Pizza, and it would go like this: the students would spend some time studying pizza and writing about pizza, and along the way, we’d chat with them once or twice via Skype about what makes great pizza great. As the culminating event of the project, Brandon and I would come to Sitka in the flesh, ta daaaa, where we would make pizza with the students (Brandon), talk writing with the students (me), and give a reading at the local library (me). We of…Read more
One Tuesday evening in March, I went somewhat accidentally to the town of Edison, Washington, and bought a pack of graham crackers. Two weeks later, I drove back deliberately, 75 miles each way, just to buy more. Thanks to Renee Bourgault and her wonderful Breadfarm, I got to tell the story, and share the recipe, on (the newly redesigned! fancy!) Saveur.com.Read more
Early Friday morning, I boarded an airplane to Washington, DC, and on the way there, using my Motherly Time-Management Skills, I managed not only to sleep for two hours, but also to read one New Yorker and the entire current issue of Lucky Peach. I was in DC for a conference, and to celebrate my nephew’s fifth birthday (Lego-themed party! Lego-shaped candy! BTW, IMO, the blue ones are best; avoid yellow). But this morning, back at my desk, I’m still thinking about that Lucky Peach. In particular, this Jeremy Fox story and this endive story. But really, the whole issue was great, so smart and so weird, that I even mentioned it to the nurse in my dermatologist’s office this morning. That’s a strong endorsement. Somebody should…Read more
We adopted the habit
Oaxaca! As I said, I’m no expert, but I can tell you what I liked. I hear that some of you are hoping to travel there, and I hope what follows is helpful. This was our second time going on vacation with our friends Brandi and John. If you can find two people you enjoy and won’t want to stab after ten days in close quarters, I highly recommend it. Traveling with friends has allowed us to feel more bold, for better or worse, about long drives on mountainous roads in foreign countries, and about traveling without making a lot of plans, doing exhaustive research, or knowing the local language. Also, at the beach, two of us invariably want to…Read more
We got home this past Tuesday night, after spending Christmas with my family and then ten days in Oaxaca, Mexico, with a couple of friends, and I’m so relaxed that I can hardly remember how to type. I’ve never been particularly good at relaxing, but in the past year, I’ve started to get the hang of it: how to do nothing but read for an entire day, how to be a fair-skinned person on a tropical beach and not die of sunburn, how to drink a beer at noon, and how to enjoy swimming in open water without thinking about Jaws or that giant sturgeon they found in Lake Washington. Having just spent more than a week practicing my new…Read more
I picked up a roll of film that I shot at Sam and Megan’s wedding last month, and maybe my friend at the lab did some wizardry with the negative scanner, but the whole roll has this glowy, ethereal light shining through it. It’s a decidedly end-of-summer light. I like the way it makes me feel. The past few mornings, our neighborhood has been white with fog, this dense fog that blows up the street in visible gusts, and it feels so familiar and so welcome, but it is a decidedly not-summer thing. I’m writing this from an airplane to Chicago. Brandon is with me (!), and having had a lot of long days lately (hosting a dinner at Delancey…Read more
A month of summer gone already! I don’t want to think about it. I rediscovered my Fuji Instax over the weekend and have been firing off shots like I were made of money. That’s another thing I’ve decided not to think about. I want June to have photo albums from her childhood – proper, three-dimensional albums! With the requisite wonky Polaroids! Like the olden days! Next up: suspenders and a paper route! – so I’m not allowed to fuss over the cost of film or the stupid, stupid, stupid flash that goes off whether I want it or not. Babies: they get your priorities straight. I appreciate that. Though I wouldn’t mind sleeping past 6:30 again someday. It seems like…Read more
We spent half of last week on Lopez Island, staying with friends at the home of friends-of-friends, breaking in our sun hats, making buildings out of driftwood, wearing ourselves out so well that we were in bed before the light was gone, getting reacquainted with summer. Despite the fact that I seem to have filled my life with a lot of work and obligations and businesses and whatnot, I am not someone who enjoys feeling busy. I do not like to feel busy at all. I also do not like to set goals. But my goal this summer is to have a lot of days like the ones we had on Lopez, summer days like the ones I had as…Read more
Friday! It’s rainy here in Seattle, as it often is in June. I don’t mind, but I also wouldn’t mind being in a car on the road between Rome and who knows where in Italy, as I was on this day three years ago, when I went over for Luisa’s wedding.* Let’s go there for a minute. Maybe to a beach on the Adriatic. Ah. Earlier this week, I drove to Spokane and back, which is absolutely nothing like a beach in Italy but is still beautiful in its way, and because I was driving alone, I listened to Girl Talk “All Day” very, very loud and did a lot of “dancing,” by which I mean flapping my elbows wildly while…Read more
Run with it
It is 12:26 pm on June 23. I’m sitting at my desk in the window, which, if you were considering it, is a bad place to put a desk. What a person needs behind a desk is something sturdy, galvanizing, like a wall. Otherwise you’ll wind up spending your time as I am today: watching the world’s most subtle breeze blow through the branches of the neighbors’ tulip magnolia, wishing I were eating a cheeseburger. I’m slowly emerging from New Book Insanity. I am so relieved, so glad to have this book behind me and out in the world, and also so, so, so tired. Elated! Tired! Dead! (But hey, Spokane: I’m going to be in your town tomorrow night,…Read more
Come on down
Hello from a plane somewhere between Minneapolis and San Francisco! I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple of days now, on trains and planes and more trains and planes, but then I wind up staring out the window or admiring the spectacularly bedazzled manicure job on the woman next to me or reading an entire Us Weekly over someone’s shoulder before passing out and suddenly coming to three hours later in a new city. Today, I will persevere! I will only read half of an Us Weekly over someone’s shoulder. I’m eight days into nearly two consecutive weeks on the road for Delancey. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be on book tour, even now that I’ve been…Read more
I’m typing this post from my cousin’s kitchen table in Oakland, California, where June and I are visiting for a family baby shower and have stayed long enough to eat four slices of red velvet cake, get stuck twice in rush hour traffic on I-80, and sniff every single rose in Rockridge while out walking the neighborhood at 6:49 in the morning, killing time before the rest of the family wakes up. We fly home tomorrow, and then, on Tuesday, I leap into that heady, unnerving thing called Publication Day, otherwise known The Day Your Copy of Delancey Will Finally Ship, If You Pre-Ordered It, or, The Day You Can Find It In Your Local Bookstore, If You Didn’t. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!…Read more
Felt like it
HELLOOOOOOOO I’m just off the plane from a week in Oklahoma City with June and my mother, clearing out my teenage bedroom. Fun-wise, it was right up there with surgery in the pre-anesthesia era, especially my senior prom Party Pics. On the upside, Mom and I made a wonderful pea soup (only with half the amount of ham hock, and with dried herbs instead of fresh) and worked our way through approximately four bars of chocolate and an undisclosed amount of wine, and I determined (take note!!!) that the only way to handle letters from exes and otherwise is to shove them dutifully in a box and then pray it gets lost in the mail. We woke up too early every day,…Read more
It’s my specialty
Hi. I am writing this from my in-laws’ kitchen. Brandon is out on a bike ride with his dad. THEY’RE BOTH WEARING SPANDEX!!!! It’s a great day to be in New Jersey. Before the holiday sets in, while it’s still relatively quiet in the house, I wanted to share a recipe with you. I should say first that it’s not for Thanksgiving. I know you already have plenty of that. What we have here is something for this weekend, or next week. More specifically, what we have here is the soup that I will be eating over and over and over again, lunch after lunch and dinner after dinner, for months to come. The New Winter Favorite. I can tell…Read more
We’ve arrived at the end of my trip. The last walk. The way I remember it, the wind was blowing like mad. I have no idea how these pictures came out looking so peaceful. Christophe and Gemma led the way through Holyrood Park, along the skirt of Arthur’s Seat. Another time, I want to climb to the top. I’ll have to go back. I think I could live in Edinburgh. Next lifetime, maybe. Hope your week is off to a good start.Read more
To those of you who advised me to go to Scotland: YOU WERE SO RIGHT. I get it now. In order to get there, I had to endure a bout of verbal abuse from a disgruntled airline employee whom I will henceforth remember as Psycho EasyJet Guy, but I made it. My friends greeted me in Edinburgh with a bag of Mini Cheddars, and shortly after, there was a homecooked meal and a long sleep on a very comfortable air mattress, and then I fell in love with Scotland. Christophe and Gemma, my friends in Edinburgh, are good walkers. I admire that quality. They might say, Let’s go for a walk, and you’ll be out for six hours. We spent…Read more
I come from a family that goes to church only on occasional Christmas Eves, but somehow, I have come to love the feeling of being inside a church. I like the high ceilings, the wood and the stone and the gold leaf, and I like them best when they’re empty. There’s no other silence like it. My favorite church is in Paris, and it’s called Saint-Sulpice. I first loved it because my grandmother loved it, but now I love it because I do. I never forget to go to Saint-Sulpice. I usually go on a weekday, when it’s quiet, and I make sure that I have some coins on me, so that I can light a candle. My grandmother used…Read more
I sat down to write this post last night at a kitchen table in Edinburgh. My friend Gemma was making barley soup, and Christophe was at the sink behind me, doing the last dishes from breakfast. If you had told me three weeks ago that I would be in their kitchen last night, I would have looked at you like you’d grown a second head. For once, I like being wrong. We’ve been talking about a feeling that sometimes comes with plane or train travel, and maybe the best name for it is Bonus Time. You’re in the plane or the train, and you can see the world outside the window, and you’re hurtling through it, but it’s very far…Read more
October 16, 17
I love the mistakes that come with using film. Often, I like the mistakes more than the shots that turn out. That’s part of why I started shooting film. For the surprises. Whenever I pick up a roll at the lab, it’s like Christmas morning. Of course, it’s sometimes a sad Christmas, like the year when I found two sweatshirts in the box that I was sure contained a Cocker Spaniel puppy. But I’m learning to take what I can get. My friend Gemma has the most beautiful hands. I will never have hands like that. And while we’re on the topic of beauty, two words: bacon and sandwich. I hope your week is off to a very good start,…Read more
Hi, friends. I’m in Paris now. I know I just typed that as though it were nothing, but what I meant was: I’M IN PARIS NOW! That sentence should always be written in all caps, with an exclamation point. I took the train down from London on Wednesday, and I’ve been staying with a friend. From where I’m sitting on the pullout sofa in her living room, I can hear a moped in the square outside and Night Moves on the stereo in the kitchen. She and her husband are sitting in there, at the counter. He’s doing a crossword puzzle, tapping his fingers in time. They’ve been good to me. I shot a whole roll of film in twenty…Read more
When I was eighteen, I took my first big trip without my parents, and before I left, my mother suggested that I pack a nice notebook to use as a journal. In my normal life, I’ve never been a journal-keeper, but I took her advice, and for roughly fifteen years now, every time I’ve taken a substantial trip, I’ve kept a record of my days. Sometimes I’m a real champ, and I’ll write down every detail: what I overheard in line at the museum, how much I paid for such-and-such, which subway station I was leaving when that handsome man smiled at me and my heinous pink-and-white polka dot umbrella, or, tragically, which subway line I was on when I…Read more
You’re lucky, she told me.
Hi, friends. This is not the post I had expected to write next. In my head, there were going to be cheers, an obscene number of exclamation points, and maybe a picture of the evening street outside our apartment in Paris. But due to sad and unforeseen circumstances, our Paris Diary project has been postponed. I don’t know how I even managed to type that sentence, because I hardly believe what it says. Your support for this project blew me away, and I can’t tell you how sad I am. I was due to fly out of Seattle this past Wednesday, go to London to see my friend Brian, and then take the train down to Paris on Sunday. Because…Read more
I first met my friend Maria in 2005. She had a blog then called port2port – maybe you remember it? – and I can’t remember who found who, but at some point, we started reading each other’s sites. She lives in Portland, Maine, but that fall, she came to Seattle to visit a friend, and we went out for doughnuts and had a drink at the Alibi Room, my favorite bar back then. I was nervous to meet her, because I admired her: her photography, her style, the quiet way she writes, the details she notices in her daily life. I remember feeling amazed by how creative she was, by the fact that she made a living through creative work.…Read more
I am writing to you today from my friend Ben’s dining room. If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember that he used to live in Seattle, where he was like a Kramer to us, but he moved away for a job. Now he’s in Ohio, and for a week, so am I. I needed to get some work done on Book 2, and I missed my friend, so I rolled the two into one and called it a writing retreat. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but turns out, it’s like summer camp – only there are no counselors to keep us down, and instead of doing archery and riding horses and gathering around the campfire…Read more
I wish them a lifetime
I mentioned last week that I had been away at a wedding, Luisa’s wedding, and a number of you wrote that you were eager to see pictures. I felt a little unsure about posting them, to be honest, because it was her wedding day and hers to share, but she says that I can go for it. Here we are. Luisa was one of the first friends I made through blogging. I guess it was about six years ago, give or take a bit. That was when Brandon was still living in New York, and I would go there to see him every couple of months. Luisa was still living in New York then, too. She and I had exchanged…Read more
A nasty habit
I have many important things to tell you. 1. I’m doing a podcast! I intended to tell you about this a week ago, but there’s been an illness in my family, and I’ve been away, and it hasn’t been a lot of fun, so, you know, let’s talk about that podcast. It’s called Spilled Milk, and I co-host it with my friend Matthew Amster-Burton. Every time we record an episode, Matthew makes me laugh until I snort, cry, hyperventilate, and/or hoot like an owl, and I hope our show does the same for you. The first episode is on the topic of fried eggs, and you can listen or download it – free! – through the Spilled Milk website, or…Read more