i love you, egg.

call me the egg lady.

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i’ve been trying to write this post for over two weeks now, and that’s only if we count the time i “officially” sat down to try to write it. i often wish i was a faster writer, one who could work through her thoughts faster, poop out words easier, and i wish i could turn out more blog posts more regularly.

sometimes, i go down the analytics hole, sad at the dropping numbers and lowered engagement because i don’t have the time to generate more posts more regularly, and, sometimes, i go down the same hole when it comes to instagram, too, because i feel like my life has become so routine, so dull, so blah that i’ve got nothing interesting to share. i feel like i’ve become dull and boring — or maybe i’ve just always been dull and boring; it’s simply that life in a more interesting city while freelancing helped mask that.

it’s been a dry few months creatively, more than usual. december was dry, then january was eaten up by payroll tax reports, W2s, 1099s, and february has thus far been consumed by books (the accounting kind) and bank reconciliations and financial statements. i spend my days chasing cents and dollars, feeling the pettiness that is accounting and rolling my eyes at the ugliness of human behavior, CEOs who expense exorbitant amounts on entertainment, shopping, and other such things while paying their employees minimum wage, even their managers, the ones who likely keep their businesses running.

which kind of leads to … i spend a lot of time thinking about money, about consumerism, about economic class. i think about the things that divide us from each other, these notions we invent sometimes of what elevates one people above another, and i think about all the ways i’m guilty of this, too, me and my upper middle class upbringing and my iced lattes and mid-range skincare.

me and my ability to travel to the extent that i do.

me and my constant want for more when i already have more than so many others do.

me and my privilege, my selfishness, my discontent. me and my hypocrisy. me and all my many shortcomings.

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this year, i’ve been thinking about vlogging, which means i’ve been watching a lot of youtube. claire marshall remains my favorite, and i rewatch her videos every so often, even her vlogs, because i find her relatable, interesting, normal. sure, she’s probably earning an income i likely never will, and she lives in an apartment i’d love to have, but she’s still just another human in los angeles who’s working, creating content, living her life.

and she’s a cat lady.

i’ve also recently started watching the frey life non-stop, and it’s great because they vlog daily. mary frey has cystic fibrosis, and, from what i understand, she and her husband started vlogging as a way of documenting their lives when they moved to scotland for peter to pursue grad studies. the vlogs were a means for their friends and family to know what their lives were like, how they were doing, etcetera, and they’ve continued vlogging over the years, recording mary’s life with CF, the daily hours spent trying to clear her lungs, coughing, going to clinic, and monitoring her blood sugar and etcetera etcetera etcetera — and, through it all, through all the pain and health scares and hospitalizations, though all of it, she glows.


last monday, i set up NBC streaming at the office, so we can watch the women’s half-pipe snowboarding finals. i don’t typically have two shits to give about the olympics, but i’ve been following chloe kim, and i want her to win. i want her to get those points and take home the gold. i want her to blow everyone away.

i stop and ask myself if it’s a korean-american thing because she’s korean-american and i’m korean-american, and, yeah, honestly, that’s probably part of it, but the real part is … i like the way she laughs. i like that she’s this tiny korean-american girl with bleached blonde hair who’s got this easy laugh, this grin that takes over her entire face, this joy and exuberance that overflow from her person. she kicks ass at her sport, yes, and she’s been winning medals left and right and setting records, and she’s only seventeen — but, at the end of the day, it’s her love and excitement for her sport that make her glow.

i love that. it makes me root for her even more.


what does it even mean to glow? i’m not talking about happiness or exultation at personal goals reached because, by that definition, chloe kim has no reason but to glow — she’s young and accomplished, and she’s the youngest female gold medalist in her sport. that isn’t what i mean, though, and, regardless, either way, success, prodigy, genius, whatever you want to call it — none of it is any guarantee of someone glowing from within because success, prodigy, genius, whatever you want to call it can be just as toxic as they can be positive.

and, while we’re on this thread, why wouldn’t claire glow? she’s built a successful creative career for herself, creating content and working with brands, and she lives in a gorgeous apartment in DTLA, travels a lot, and is physically fit. 

but, again, it’s not about not having any material wants or living that supposed dream life — to glow is to have an effusive quality that comes through regardless of situation. it’s an inner quality that can’t be forced, though i do believe that we can train ourselves in ways to bring out our inner glow because i do believe that we all have that ability to glow — we smother it, though, with fear, insecurity, a lack of confidence, resentment, cynicism, etcetera.

because you could look at mary frey and say, what does she have to glow about? she lives with cystic fibrosis, and it’s a painful, chronic illness that will likely end her life early. you could say it limits her life, what she can do with it, how she can live. somehow, i doubt she would see it that way, though. her life is her life, and she’s only got the one she has, and she’s going to laugh and carry hope with her and find joy in her life as she’s been given it.

which all made me think that i do struggle a lot with malcontent, with resentment at being stuck in california, in a job i don’t enjoy, but that i think i’m lucky being surrounded by the people i am. both my parents have worked since i was a kid, and i’ve never really ever heard them complain about having to work. my coworkers are all really great people who are ungrudgingly, cheerfully putting in long overtime hours because that’s what the job requires. my supervisor isn’t so unlike me — she’s a pianist, not an accountant, but she’s here, kicking ass at her job because she has two kids and she wanted them to have the chance to grow up here in the states.

and, in many ways, i’m lucky that i’m unattached, that i at least have the freedom to keep pursuing what i want to do, that i am able-bodied enough to do so. i’m lucky that i know where i want to go and what i want to do, that i have the skills and ability to back up those wants and seek out opportunities with confidence. i know what keeps me going, keeps me trying, keeps me writing.

i know what keeps me here.

none of that means it’s easy to keep holding on, though.

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if you’ve been following the news at all, you’ll know that, last wednesday, a teenager brought an AR-15 to his former school and murdered 17 students, injuring 14 more. you’ll know that the students are taking a stand, vocally and widely expressing their outrage that this — a mass shooting — was allowed to happen yet again, making clear that this government has blood on its hands.

you’ll know that the same talking points have been brought up again. conservatives have been trying to argue that guns don’t kill, people do, that maybe so many kids wouldn’t have died had teachers been armed, that SECOND AMENDMENT SECOND AMENDMENT SECOND AMENDMENT. GOP congresspeople copy-pasted their standard thoughts and prayers and went on with their bloodthirsty ways, lacking the decency to say they’d stop taking blood money from the NRA. people all across america and around the world rightfully asked, what the hell is wrong in this country?

you’ll know that, once again, people keep looping back to the mentally ill. they keep saying that there should be more regulations to prevent the mentally ill from getting their hands on guns. there should be more in-depth background checks for mental health. there should be more protections against the mentally ill.

never mind that the “mentally ill,” as they so condescendingly love to say, are more likely to be victims of violence, not perpetrators of it.

never mind that the asshole, misogynistic, violent, angry, entitled mentality that leads to men shooting up schools, theaters, and churches isn’t mental illness. it’s entirely symptomatic of the patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and hate.


it’s easier to pin shit like that on mental illness, though, isn’t it? it somehow makes it more palatable because it allows the belief that a “normal” person wouldn’t do that, a “normal” person wouldn’t retaliate against some perceived ill against him by committing mass murder, a “normal” person just wouldn’t do that, so he must have been mentally ill.

(unless he’s a person of color. then he must be a terrorist.)

it’s easier to think that these men must be mentally ill — he was depressed; he was schizophrenic; he was bipolar. he wasn’t racist, and he wasn’t a misogynist, and he didn’t have a history of domestic abuse. he was “mentally ill,” and, so, we need to protect ourselves, our children, against the “mentally ill.”

this logic and the evasion of -isms that supports it are as laughable as straight people acting like they need to protect themselves and their children from transgender people, so much that it must be against the law for people to use public bathrooms that align with their gender identity. it’s laughable because it’s outrageous; trans people are so much more likely to be victims of violence than to perpetrate violence. they’re so much more likely to be assaulted, physically and sexually, than to assault, and yet our society is so terrified of trans people, which, yes, maybe it’s true — straight people are terrified of trans people, just not in the ways that they claim or tell themselves.

as human beings, we invent reasons to justify our thinking, and these attacks on trans people are no different. straight people aren’t afraid of trans people assaulting them; they’re afraid of having the supposed social mores of this country up-turned and their dominance taken from them. they’re afraid of having their worldviews challenged, of having to step back and examine themselves, their thinking, their beliefs. they’re afraid of the possibility of realizing that they were wrong, that maybe they’re not actually the good, loving people they liked to think they were — they’re bigots to put it bluntly, and their love is conditional and warped with hatred.

i tend to believe that, if you want to see the character of a person, look at how s/he treats other people, people who are different from her/him, whether they’re people of color, queer people, disabled people, the Other in any way. does s/he treat them with respect and dignity? does s/he extend the same generosity and kindness to them as s/he does to people who look and believe and love like s/he does?

or is s/he quick to dehumanize them, to stomp on their rights, to treat them as lesser, as Other, as sub-human? does s/he treat them with disgust and vitriol? does s/he use queerness, transness, blackness, muslim-ness, disabledness, as an insult, as something undesirable that should be sneered at, treated as a joke?

because the you character can be revealed with one simple question: is your love wide enough, deep enough, expansive enough that it covers all people, or is your love so small and so afraid that it places conditions on who is allowed to receive it and closes you off to the ability to extend basic, human generosity?


how did we get here, though? i wanted to write about these three egg dishes and five books i’ve read recently, but, somehow, we’ve ended up here. maybe it’s all related, though — over the last few weeks, i read five books, and the common thread through all of them was, it’s easy to judge.

it’s easy to judge an alcoholic, an adolescent, a drug user. it’s easy to judge an addict, someone who’s dependent on something, on anything, whether it be a substance, another human being, a memory. it’s easy to judge a culture that demands that women spawn and, specifically, that women spawn sons, and it’s easy to judge women for wanting children so badly that they’ll do anything, believe anything, to conceive.

it’s easy to judge a person who doesn’t have the support system or the confidence or the bravery to stand up for herself and say, no, this is who i am, and i am not who you might want me to be. it’s easy to judge a girl, a woman, for selling her body to survive; it’s easy to judge her for closing her eyes, burying her self deep inside, and staying silent as her body is used and abused because that silence is the only way that she can live. it’s easy to judge survivors for the choices they make, for the collateral damage they inevitably, unavoidably leave behind.

it’s easy to judge.

it’s easy to judge women who went through trauma as girls and have carried that in different ways. it’s easy to judge a mother who’s rational and focused, who doesn’t emote or freak out when something happens to her child, who doesn’t react in the ways expected of mothers, of women. it’s easy to judge women who go against the demands of their societies, their cultures, who reject the things that others are so quick to embrace, who stand up for themselves and say, no, this is not acceptable; no, i want more, i want better for my life. it’s easy to judge them when they seem to succumb to those cultural demands, to give in to foolish faith when they’ve been educated, run their own businesses, are their own person.

it’s easy to judge.

it’s easy to judge when we haven’t been in someone’s shoes, and it’s easy to judge even when we have.

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i often feel like i’m being left behind. other people are making advancements in their careers, traveling, taking on new projects, but i’m still here, still stuck in a dead-end place with a dead-end job in a dead-end life. others are getting new jobs, getting raises, getting somewhere, but me — i’m still nowhere, and i’m going nowhere.

i tell myself, keep going. just keep trying, keep creating, keep writing, but, after weeks like these, after hours after hours logged in traffic, in overtime, in an office chasing numbers, i wonder, what’s the point? why bother?

at the same time, i write these words knowing that i will keep trying, keep creating, keep writing, that, on days like these, i’ll go cry in the bathroom, make another cup of coffee, and spin writing projects in the back of my brain while hunting down every single stupid goddamn inconsequential penny.

and then, again, at the same time, too, i write these words knowing that there is always that other Thing that lurks in the shadows of my brain, that Thing that shrinks down to almost nothingness sometimes but sends out a flare every so often to remind me of its existence — there is always the option to stop trying to contain it and bring an end to all this fruitless endeavor.

and, hey, maybe before y’all go around saying this country needs more protection from the “mentally ill,” that there need to be more regulations in place to prevent the “mentally ill” from being able to buy guns and thus prevent them from committing mass murder, here’s the other thing about those of us who live with mental illness: we’re more likely to harm ourselves than to harm other people. i don’t see you wanting to protect us from ourselves, though, because your artificial concerns aren’t about mental illness, are they? you just don’t want to think about how you, too, as a human being carry the possibility of committing an act of heinous violence because you, too, are a human being, and you, too, as such, carry human darkness and the potential for brutality, and you don’t want to think that one reason gun control regulations need to be in place might be to protect everyone else from you.

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does that seem hypocritical then, to say that it’s easy to judge but to proceed to judge evangelicals, the GOP, white people? or is that judgement or an appraisal of people’s actions? because i am not interested in the statements people release or the principles they claim to believe in — faith is easy to proclaim, and “thoughts and prayers” are easy to extend. i am interested in the ways people behave, how they consider and regard other people, the actions they take to demonstrate love and care and concern, not only for the people they know but also, and more importantly, for the people they don’t, the people who are unlike them.

i’m interested in the ways people move about the world, interacting with people, seeing them as people, not as souls to be saved or Others to be subjugated.

the older i get, the less i’m impressed by intellectualism. i frankly couldn’t care less how well-read someone is or how much time someone spends in deep, philosophical thought. i’ve had issues with theory since i was in college, and i continue to do so because i’m not interested in how things exist on the thought plane — i want to bring all that thought and drag it down to the ground so that it can become action, something tangible that creates change, becomes something that counts.

nothing matters if it’s just an idea in your head, and that’s how prejudice rots people from the inside-out, anyway, because you can rationalize anything in your head. you can find all the “evidence” you want to support your viewpoint, and it’s when you step out of all that, when you get out into the world and start seeing other people as fellow human beings, that you start getting in touch with your own humanity.

and so here is this: if you believe something, whatever it is, go out there and challenge that belief. if you believe queer people are monsters and sinners and gross people, go out there and get to know them. if you believe christians are narrow-minded, stupid bigots who use faith as a crutch and an excuse, go out there and talk to them. if you believe that POC are terrifying people prone to violence and crime, go out there and listen to their stories.

because here’s the thing. you’d be surprised to find out how we’re not all that different. it doesn’t matter whether we’re gay or straight, christian or muslim or atheist, asian or black or white, whether we speak english fluently or not, we’re not all that different. the vices we struggle with, the families we work hard to provide for, the challenges we fear — fundamentally, outside of systemic issues, of course, they’re not all that different; none of it adds up to something to be so afraid of that we need to feel like we have to regroup and double up on hatred and bigotry and prejudice, especially because we’re no better than each other. we’re not so much more righteous or good that we have any right to trample on the lives and identities of others and demand that they fit into what we deem “right.”

i always come back to this one passage in the bible, when the pharisees drag a prostitute in front of christ and say she should be stoned for her sins. christ responds, let you among you who has no sin throw the first stone.

not even a pharisee could dare throw that first stone. are you so convinced of your own righteousness that you could?


holy shit, this is not the post i thought i’d write. some other writer might say, okay, we’ll find other photos to go with this post, but, well, i’m not another writer, and i’m keeping these photos. two saturdays ago, i stayed home and didn’t go into the office and made three things from the lucky peach all about eggs (clarkson potter, 2017) book: egg tarts (pg. 24), a tortilla española clásica (pg. 76), and saltie’s scrambled eggs (pg. 107).

EGG TARTS.
the egg tarts were unsurprisingly awesome, and i loved the technique used to make the dough. it’s divided into “oily” and “water” because the former contains all the butter and the latter, well, contains none, and the two are laminated together, resulting in a flaky crust with body that doesn’t just fall apart. the custard was just sweet enough, with just enough vanilla flavor, and, yeah, my crust-to-custard ratio was all wonky because i only have six tartlet pans, but i’m not complaining.

egg tarts are so bomb. i still don’t understand how my brother doesn’t like them, but that just goes to show — we truly are opposites in every way.

TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA CLÁSICA.
i absolutely loved the tortilla española clásica, and it was a lot of fun to make. you poach sliced potatoes and onions in an olive oil/grapeseed oil combination (do this in your cast iron because it is an excellent way to get some seasoning on your pan), and, when the potatoes are soft but not falling apart, you drain them, let them cool, and toss them with some whipped eggs. pour the mixture into a smoking hot pan (with oil), and give the edges a little wiggle with a spatula while it sets.

after a few minutes, cover the whole thing with a giant plate; flip it over, pan and all; and return the pan to the heat, the tortilla sitting on the plate. add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. slide the tortilla onto the pan, so it can cook on the other side. give it a few minutes, not too many, then repeat the flipping gesture. slide the tortilla onto the pan one last time, give it a minute, and flip it again.

let cool. cut into slices. eat with tapatio.

SALTIE'S SOFT-SCRAMBLED EGGS.
my preferred choice for scrambled eggs are soft-scrambled eggs because they’re so creamy, velvety, and rich. this is a different method for scrambling eggs, in that you crack your eggs into your pan and scramble only the whites. when the whites have mostly set, remove the pan from the heat, and then stir your yolks into the whites. it results in scrambled eggs that almost have the texture of hard-boiled eggs, just softer and creamier.

and, oh, the five books i read?

  1. julie buntin, marlena (henry holt, 2017)
  2. kim fu, the lost girls of camp forevermore (HMH, 2018)
  3. ayobami adebayo, stay with me (knopf, 2017)
  4. shobha rao, girls burn brighter (flatiron, forthcoming, 2018)
  5. kim fu, for today i am a boy (HMH, 2014)
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to close, here is this: desperate times call for desperate measures, and i am desperate for a new job, for new work, even if it’s freelance work to do while i work my current full-time job. i’ve got experience editing and drafting all kinds of writing, from legal documents to business valuations to professional emails to marketing blogs to press releases, and i’ve also done a lot of administrative work. i’m looking for anything that involves writing, copyediting, managing social media, and/or creating content, and i can write damn well, take beautiful photographs of food, places, and plant life, and am willing to travel anywhere, not necessarily just to exciting locales because i believe that stories, whether written or visual, exist everywhere.

also, because this is the thing that always seems to catch me: what i lack in experience, i more than make up for in hustle.

so hey, if you or anyone you know is looking for a kickass writer, editor, content creator, let’s chat!

hold your shit together.

1

if i carry homesickness and heartache in my gut, i carry rage in the skin under my arms. it slithers just below the surface and occasionally likes to set off little flares, little fires everywhere, you could say, that need to be put out and smothered before they grow out of control.

“rage” maybe isn’t the right word for it, though, because it’s more this compound of restlessness, disappointment, resentment, sadness, and frustration. the whole thing put together often feels like anger because it feels like fire, maybe because there is indeed anger laced in there, too, anger at all the things that are out of my control, that keep me in this sinkhole of a life despite my best efforts to escape and stay away.

or so i rage on days when it’s too difficult to keep myself from sliding off this ledge. on better days, i remind myself that, no, i am not in the same place i was last year — hell, i’m not even in the same place i was three months ago. i remind myself that things happen slowly, that it’s better for them to happen slowly. easy come, easy go, after all, isn’t that what they say?

and then there is this: my therapist assures me that my anger, right now, is good, that, underneath anger lies hope. after all the years of hopelessness, of quelling even the possibility of hope, the anger is a sign that something inside me is alive and wanting more, recognizing that more is actually very possible. she assures me that this is a good sign, that the work is in channeling this into something positive, something good, something forward-looking. 

she reminds me, not everything that seems negative and frightening and dark takes us to bad places. we get to decide where it takes us. we have the power to turn all that energy into a force for good.


but then there is also this: it’s tax season, and we’re in overdrive at the office, and, every day, as i sit in goddamn miserable LA traffic, i ask myself a thousand times, what the hell am i doing here? it’s a familiar despair, and the image that comes to mind is of a wolf slowly dying because it’s licking a piece of ice, except it’s not a piece of ice — it’s a knife frozen in layers of ice, and the wolf is bleeding to death as it’s lapping up its own blood.

gruesome, isn’t it? apparently, it’s one way eskimos would kill wolves, and it’s brilliant and macabre and kind, all in one.

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2

i want to go home, i want to go home, but what i mean, what i’m grasping for, is not a place, it’s a feeling. i want to go back. but back where? maybe to the first time i heard stevie nicks, to watching the snow fall outside the window with a paperback folded open in my lap, to the moment before i tasted alcohol, to virginity and not really knowing that things die, back to believing that something great is still up ahead, back to before i made the choices that would hem me in to the life i live now. a life that i regret sometimes, i think, only because it’s mine, because it’s turned out this way and not some other way, because i can’t go back and change what will happen. what happened to her.

nostos algos — home pain, the pain at the utter core of me. (julie buntin, marlena, 91-2)


how can i describe the horrible pleasure of being not good? even at fifteen i wasn’t dumb enough to glamorize marlena’s world, the poverty, the drugs that were the fabric of everything, but i was attracted to it all the same. i always wanted more, more, more; what i had was never good enough. instead of public school, i had to have concord academy, with its courtyards a whirl of fall leaves, my initials monogrammed on my collar, the textbooks full of whole worlds of language i was desperate to understand. and yet, how easily i’d replaced my desire for that place with my desire to fit in seamlessly in silver lake.

perhaps that was why i was so afraid of the terrible electricity, the terrible self-rootedness, that overtook me those sleepless nights, when i slid my hand down my stomach, below the band of my pants, and discovered a need that was completely my own. with it had come the sense that if i surrendered to that edge-of-cliff feeling, afterward i would be transformed. i would belong to myself in some new way. every time, i stopped too soon. (170-1)


being an adult — it is not the same. it is not, actually, anything like what we wanted, what we imagined for ourselves. but, marlena, mostly it’s better. sometimes i’m so grateful it feels like a miracle. for the dumbest things — a cup of hot coffee, a funny text from liam, that i can read george eliot again and again, every sunday afternoon, that i hate my body less, that i love my mother more, that i still have time to choose. the colors are less sharp, but i’m glad i’m here.

you’re trying too hard to convince me, i imagine she says.

i forgive her for being a skeptic. she’s still eighteen.

the thing is, marlena, i’ve messed a lot up. but every day i get to try again. (246-7)

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3

this is my fourth attempt baking this potato brioche, though it’s only the third attempt i’ve baked. the first attempt was a total bust, a combination of lazy technique and an inability to understand my new ingredient (potato flour), and it landed with a thud in the trash can after one bite of one slice. the second loaf was a fiasco in san francisco, still a victim of kind-of-lazy technique and an inability to understand potato flour, and that also ended up in the trash, though not before it was ferried down to los angeles with false hopes that it could somehow be consumed.

the third didn’t even end up in the oven, went straight into the bin.

the fourth is what you see here, and it was the most optimistic attempt i made. i cut down the amount of stupidly fine potato flour and replaced it with regular all-purpose, gave the whole thing a little more liquid, and finally managed to get that smooth, glossy ball of kneaded dough. the first rise went well, and it rose slowly overnight in the refrigerator. it gave out gas when i punched it down the next morning; it was malleable, allowing itself to be shaped into a loaf pan.

it rose nicely for two hours in a just-warmed oven, but then i left it in there for too long, went to do a quick market run as it was still rising, after the two hours had ended, and, when i got back with my groceries, the nice dome it had been forming had collapsed. it never revived. and so we have this, this still dense loaf that would be acceptable had i been attempting to make a loaf cake, not a brioche loaf.

we ate it, though, buttered it, slathered it with jam, ate it with eggs. it was okay, fine even. it wasn’t brioche. i haven’t gone for attempt number five yet.

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4

restlessness is in my legs, in my knees and calves specifically. sometimes, my legs ache so much i can’t sleep — when i was younger, i attributed that to growing pains, but now — now the pain is a mystery, something that haunts me and tethers me to wakefulness when i want so badly to sleep.

the plus side to tax season means overtime, and overtime means overtime pay, which means traveling. i make a list of all the places i want to visit, and i break that list down into three parts — short-term travel plans, mid-term, long-term. i think about my allotment of vacation days this year, how to break them up and parcel them out, attaching them to long weekends, so i can take more trips because, for me, that’s better than one long trip the whole year. i need to get away from los angeles as often as i can, and that, surprisingly, honestly, has nothing to do with los angeles itself — i’m a restless creature, and i have a world i want to see.


sometimes, i think the thing that bums me out most about getting a rejection is the knowledge that that is going to sit with me but the person who rejected me won’t think twice about me. i’ll bear that sting and flail a little or a lot, depending, and it’ll hurt me, and i’ll remember it, especially if it’s about a position i really wanted, that i would have been great at, but the rejection for them was just an email and they’re going on with their business as usual.

sometimes, i think the thing i’m most afraid to be is forgettable.


because what counts? what makes a life count? some would steer me towards faith, towards religion, saying i need god, i need church, i need that god-based community. others might point towards a career path, towards work that makes an impact in some way. others yet might say it’s people, it’s finding that partner, it’s having that family.

i still don’t know the answer to that question. all i know is, for me, it’s not quite faith, it’s not religion, and maybe it’s more community, just community, than anything else. it’s work that means something to me, work that says something, comforts someone, resonates in some way with some fellow human. maybe it’s love, not love in the romantic sense but love as love, the love that sustains all manner of relationships, the love on which we build homes and families and communities, the love that drives us in whatever work it is we do, that compels us to make the sacrifices required.

and, sometimes, yes, i think i’m a sap for thinking that, but i think i’ve also hit that point in my life where, if i’m a sap, i’m a sap, so be it because, when i look back at the people who have meant the most to me, the decisions that have brought me here to this point, the work that keeps me going even when i want so much to give up and quit, underneath all that, there is love.

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5

hope is a funny thing, and i’m still not sure what to do with it. i’ve spent much of my life trying to resist it because, to me, it still often feels like a lie, the quintessential human delusion as agent smith says so pithily in one of the matrix movies.

it’s been a dry few months, by which i mean, holy shit, i feel like i’ve been creatively tapped. i rerouted energy into starting a food zine, yes, and i did launch it, though i immediately started feeling pretty ambivalent about it, am ready to take it down and tear it to pieces, which, maybe, is why i can’t really say i’ve been writing. i can say, though, that this dryness has been adversely affecting me.

maybe this is hope, too, though, this continued attempt to try, to challenge myself, to keep coming back to this space and creating content for it and trying to see where this year will take me. maybe it’s not about big, grandiose plans and ambitions sometimes, but simply the act of coming back to the page, the kitchen, the camera, of coming back and showing up and creating something new. it doesn’t have to be a full-blown book or even an essay; a blog post will do.

and this is hope, too — trying out soulcycle for the first time, continuing to go to pilates (even at 5:30 in the freaking morning), trying to eat better (and failing) (and trying again). taking care of myself is hope; working twelve-plus-hour days and thinking about future travels are hope; and they count just as much as showing up at my writing desk and doing the goddamn work that might not yet pay the bills but actually means something.

so let’s do this — let’s keep going. let’s keep practicing the thing that fueled much of my 2017 — i’m going to take whatever it is in me, whether it’s brokenness, rage, joy, whatever, and keep turning it into art.

how far i've come, how far i'll go.

and the call isn't out there at all
it's inside me
it's like the tide, always falling and rising
i will carry you here in my heart
you remind me
that come what may i know the way

- "i am moana (song of the ancestors)"

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keeping it brief tonight because i don’t have many words to attach to this, but i made cappellacci yesterday and wanted to share photos from it because it’s the first time i made stuffed pasta and i liked the photos. i also watched the netflix adaptation of alias grace yesterday, and it’s a show that makes you think a lot about the patriarchy and power structures and how they filter down to affect us in so many ways, how we (women, POC) internalize all that crap and turn on ourselves and on each other and participate, whether unwittingly or knowingly, in reinforcing the same power structures.

i also played moana three times while cooking, and i’ve had several songs on loop today. the hair is incredible in that film; i’m still in awe of how they animated so much realistic texture into all the hair.

and those are pretty much all the words i have today. the pasta shown is cappellacci stuffed with corn, shallots, and thyme and served in a camembert sauce with poached radishes. the recipe is from the kish cookbook, and, you know, therapy is therapy, but pasta making is therapy, too.

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we are rockets / pointed up at the stars.

p!nk has been getting me through the last few weeks. p!nk and cooking.

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i rarely read a cookbook that makes me want to cook from it.

that’s not a diss against cookbooks; it’s just that i tend to approach cookbooks more as aspirational reading material than cooking inspiration; and i love the stories people have to tell about food, whether it’s the food they cook, the food they ate growing up, the food they crave and pursue and want. given all that, it’s not much of a surprise that i liked kristen kish cooking (clarkson potter, 2017) as much as i did, though, at the same time, it kind of is to me — i walked into this book a little nervous that i wouldn’t like it because i’m wary of personal brands, public figuredom, and celebrity, not because they’re bad things per se, but because there’s a level of something there i find inherently inaccessible and undesirable.

i don’t know. it’s one of those things i’ve been trying to put words to for months, but words continue to elude me, to the point that i haven’t even been able to read for the last few weeks because my ability to focus has gone to shit.

when that happens, i cook.


i’ve spent the last three weekends cooking from the kish cookbook, and this has been surprising because i assumed i wouldn’t cook from this book at all because kish is all about technique and the book was touted from the beginning as being technique-driven. say “technique-driven,” and i automatically go, well, shit. i can cook, but i don’t know anything about technique, soooo …

kish’s food isn’t simple; that might as well as be said upfront. if you’ve watched top chef, if you’ve read or seen (or eaten) her food, i think you’d already know that. she pays intense attention to detail, and that comes through in the book, whether in the photography, the plating, the design work, layouts, recipes — there’s nothing about this book that wasn’t done very intentionally.

that intention comes right out in the writing as well, and kish paired up with cookbook author meredith erickson who does a spectacular job capturing kish’s voice and perspective, condensing her story and background into a short introduction and brief headnotes while keeping her alive and buoyant throughout the entire book. her voice is there in the recipe instructions, in the index of techniques that follows the introduction, and i obviously don’t know exactly how the writing broke down between the two, but they worked very well together. the book is testament to that.

because the book is a highly personal one, but it’s one that thankfully avoids the trap of getting lost in or self-obsessed with the person. kish isn’t attached to a restaurant; she’s not tied to a show or a program; so this book is entirely about her food, the personal coming in only as needed to lay a foundation for that, to give insight to what inspires her, how she approaches food and, ultimately, how she cooks.

and, holy shit, i love what she does with food.


i’m always a little bummed when people don’t do events with their co-authors. i’d love to hear more about that collaborative process, but, because i can’t have that, here’s an interview erickson recently did with the globe and mail.

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some dumbass left a comment on an eater post talking about kish’s book, and it asked if she’d ever opened her own place, why people should buy her book if she couldn’t get people to invest in her ideas, and that made me think, … what???

it sent me down the spiral of wondering how we define our worth, how we attach value to the work we do. in this social media world, it’s easy to get lost in numbers — in followers and likes and comments — and, in this capitalistic world, it’s easy to fall back on money. we want the highest bid. we hear about the book deals that sell for six, seven figures. we talk about the net worth of people in the public sphere. in this competitive world, we want those macarthur genius grants, those michelin stars, those pulitzer prizes. we want that prestige. we want that recognition.

the greater majority of us will never get it.

so where does our value come from? what makes our work worth paying attention to? is it about book deals and film rights and bylines? status and renown? restaurants? is it about investors and venture capitalists and funding?

i wrote a book; does that work have no worth until an agent signs it, a publisher buys it, and the public adores it?


my desk is basically stacks and stacks of books with a tiny little space cleared out for my macbook and a mug of coffee, but i’ve been struggling to read these last few weeks. i’ve been struggling a lot with focus, my brain feeling foggier and more muddled than usual, and i’ve maybe made it through a few pages here, a few pages there, before setting my book aside — and, at first, it was that one book, then it was another, then another and another, and here we are.

this weekend, my psychiatrist started me on concerta, which is in the ritalin family, simultaneously to deal with ADHD and to attempt to lift my mood, which has been collapsing in recent weeks after a few months of stable normality. maybe this is the frustrating thing about mental health, the ebbs and flows, though it’s not much different from physical health because even physical illnesses have good days and bad days — there’s just the added social stigma when it comes to brain stuff.

because maybe here’s the thing about mental health: it’s not much different from physical health. despite the mysteries enshrouding the brain, it is still a part of the body, and mental illnesses exhibit with physical symptoms as well. we’re simply ingrained to write them off as laziness, as mood swings, as petulance and immaturity and weakness, when the brain is screaming at us that it’s malfunctioning, it’s dying, it’s ill and it needs medication and therapy and care, just like the body does when it’s ill.

where’s the shame in that?

i admit that, when i write about my brain, i’m constantly quelling the impulse to go on the defensive. i always want to add some kind of note that none of this, not the depression or anxiety or insomnia or ADHD, keeps me from living a full, productive life. it doesn’t affect my ability to work; it doesn’t impact my capacity to make friends and meaningful connections and keep them; it doesn’t diminish my value as a human being.

i always want to explain that, like it needs explaining.

i always want to explain that because i’m afraid no one will think i’m worth investing in, in whatever capacity, because i often feel defective, broken in ways that mean i will never be whole or fully functional in a way this world demands.


maybe brain stuff just feels scarier because the most alarming symptoms happen inside your head and people can’t see that. people interpret behavior through their own filters and interpretations, and, so, the symptoms of depression and suicidal thinking and anxiety go ignored or unseen or misinterpreted for whatever reason — people are too busy; things are tense in relationships already; no one wants to believe someone she/he/they loves and cares for could be in such a bad mental state that she/he/they could be thinking actively of killing her/him/themself.

it’s too bad that doesn’t stop the deterioration of a brain. that doesn’t make mental illness go away.

that all just makes everything worse, and we’re the ones who pay for it.

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here is this, though: you are your best advocate.

i ask myself constantly why i do this — why do i keep writing about my brain? why do i keep sharing all this? why can’t i just write about a goddamn cookbook and about the experience of cooking, and why can’t i just keep my personal shit to myself?

but maybe the thing is that my biggest takeaway from the kish cookbook was totally personal because i walked into it thinking, pfft, technique, i won’t be able to cook any of this, and realized that, wait, i can cook this — i can cook a lot of it, actually. i know the language of food; i know what it means to braise and blanche and reduce, the difference between chopping something into a brunoise and mincing it, how to work with yeast and gelatin. i can laminate dough and roll pasta by hand and crimp a pie crust, and maybe i can’t do any of these with extraordinary brilliance or skill, but i don’t have to doubt my ability to feed the people i love and to do it well.

that might sound like nothing to some, but it means a lot to me.

when you’re stuck in a place where you feel like you’re constantly sinking, like you’ll never be free of all the disappointment and self-loathing and self-hatred, knowing you’re capable of something means a lot, and food for me is intensely personal. i attach a lot of meaning to it, maybe more than i should, and, if there’s anything that really stirs up my longing to belong somewhere, to be a part of something, it’s food.

maybe it’s the necessity of food. maybe it’s my complicated history with it, one that continues to be complicated and messy given my type 2 (that i have admittedly willfully ignored the last few months). maybe it’s how food just naturally brings people together, how some of my best memories are grounded by meals, how the thing i miss the most about home are my monthly book club meetings when my friend would cook and i’d bake something and everyone would bring wine and beer and babka and fruit, and we’d sit around in a living room and eat and talk and maybe discuss the book for a few minutes.

because, like i’ve written before, california compounds all my lonelinesses, and, as the end of the year draws closer, i get more and more afraid that these silences are it, that i will no longer be able to fend them off anymore.


about being your best advocate, though — i mentioned this in one of my posts for national suicide prevention week, but i feel like it’s worth repeating, that no one can help you in ways that you need until you start speaking up and, at times, pushing back.

as someone who’s naturally non-confrontational, this has been an exercise these last few months, trying to make myself heard and understood and known. it hasn’t helped that i also come from a stance that talking is kind of a waste of time, that it’s just wasted breath, and i can’t say that my opinion on that has changed all that much. sometimes, i say things, and they go totally misinterpreted, and, sometimes, people say something, and i totally misinterpret — and there we go, round and round, in this cycle that drives me mad and saps me of my limited reserve of energy.

maybe that’s the point, though, that we try. if we don’t try to speak up at all, we’ll never have a chance to be known or understood. if we hide away in silence, all we have are the echoes in our head. if we run away from potential conflict, we’ll always be on the run, and people will always fall away.

so maybe that’s why i’m here; maybe that’s why i do this at all; and it’s no different from the reason i cook. cooking, too, is communication; it’s a way of saying, i’m thinking about you. i care about you. i love you. it’s a way of fighting to survive, to stay alive, when everything seems like it’s going to shit and you might not outlive the year. it’s a way of saying that you’re here, that you consume, that you aren’t just empty form to be glossed over, unseen.

it’s a way of belonging, of being a part of something, and that, to me, is the thing i love so much about food and one reason i cook so much in times of mental distress.

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kristen kish cooking is published tomorrow, 2017 october 31. it retails at $40, and i do recommend it.

i’ve loved everything i’ve cooked so far, and, if you want a list, i’ve made her braised potatoes (which includes her vegetable broth), creamy barley (which includes her onion broth and onion syrup), cavatelli (twice in two weeks) (just the cavatelli, though — it is not currently the season for corn), whole wheat tagliatelle with champignon sauce, crispy chicken thighs with chili honey, and matcha green tea custard with sablé crumbs and macerated fruit (she uses berries; i used persimmons because i was experimenting with the idea of macerating persimmons; and i think the experiment has failed). altogether, not bad for three weekends. there’s a pork dish with bae and chamae i want to make soon, and i’ll be trying her basic pasta dough (i’m thinking of making the tortellini in the book?), but that probably won’t be for another few weeks because i’ll be out of town these next two weekends.

i’m looking forward to the break, though, because this shit isn’t cheap. i mean, i spent $6.50 on potato flour. what else can i make with potato flour?!?

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a cooking thing.

“i’m sure you like your work here. i have no idea what you do. no, please don’t try to explain it. but i feel like i have to tell you, for what it’s worth … feeding people is really freakin’ great. there’s nothing better.” (sourdough, kate, 75)
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two weekends ago, i got a baby tripod and made pasta. i had a craving for ragu, though i don't know quite what brought that on, but i decided i wanted something tomatoey and meaty and comfort-y, and ragu popped into my head. i looked up a few recipes, learned that a ragu and a bolognese are made with similar components but differ in how they're prepared — in a ragu, the meat is braised; in a bolognese, it is not — and, so, on sunday, or two sundays ago, i set about cooking.

at the brooklyn book festival last month, the cookbook panel touched on the question of who a cookbook is written for, if a cookbook can "have it all." can a cookbook be both a beautiful coffee table book and a book an average home cook can (and will want to) cook from? and, spinning off that, is the average home cook the target audience for a cookbook, anyway? and who is an average home cook? can a cookbook truly be both a beautiful work of art and a utilitarian book from which people might be inspired to cook?

(why do i spend such a stupid amount of time thinking about who cookbooks are marketed to and/or written for and/or whether i am in that target group?!? is that self-centered of me?)

in her book, my kitchen year (random house, 2015), which i (disclaimer) have only flipped through in a bookstore but have not read, ruth reichl writes that recipe writing is as much attached to culture as any other kind of writing — as in, the ways in which recipes are written change as culture changes. in her memoir, garlic and sapphires (penguin, 2005), which i have read and enjoyed, she writes that there is a language to food that is strange and requires translation to those who are not familiar with food — like, what does it mean to toss a salad? to sauté? to julienne? what does it mean to render out fat or simmer until liquid is reduced or whip egg whites to stiff peaks? how do you fold flour into batter?

one of the panelists at the festival, cookbook author stacy adimando, explained this, too, that you can't just write, sauté the onions; you have to spell it out — heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. add onions. stir until translucent. chef sohui kim shared a story of first starting to write recipes for the good fork cookbook, how she laid out all her ingredients and thought it'd be a simple task to get this recipe down, only for her co-writer to come in and be like, uh, no, you can't just cook like you would cook. you have to do everything precisely and measure everything out. what comes intuitively to a chef will likely not come intuitively to someone at home.

at the panel, i learned that clarkson potter has it written into their contracts that all recipes need to be tested in a non-professional kitchen. ina garten watches as her assistant tests all her recipes. there is such a thing as being a good recipe-writer.

this has been one choppy introduction. transitions have not been my friend this week.

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sometimes, maintaining a personal blog feels like an act of stupidity, this thing of sharing and sharing and sharing. you could say this in and of itself is stupidity, to think this but to continue to do it, to find some kind of meaning or value in it while feeling uncomfortable.

then again, maybe, if you feel totally comfortable doing whatever you do, it’s not quite worth pursuing.

does that sound like a contradiction? but it’s true, isn’t it, that it’s that sense of discomfort that edges you out of your comfort zone, out of the familiar, into territory that requires a leap of faith, and we all need to take leaps of faith to get anywhere that counts.

and maybe there are inherent contradictions in all this, too — that i have no qualms using canned tomatoes (always whole, always peeled, never salted) but dislike using packaged broth, even if it's organic and low-sodium, that i hate amazon but can't seem to stop going to whole foods (i really need to find a good butcher counter near me), that i feel so weird putting my face and body out there but do so with more frequency anyway.

part of it is just discomfort with my body, that i don’t like it, i don’t like the size of it, the softness of it. another part is just discomfort with how it feels like an act of vanity because to put your face out there is to have some measure of confidence in it, whether it’s pride or defiance. yet another part is just hesitation because do i want to be seen, do i want to be recognizable, do i want to be identifiable?

is this all just ego?


last week was banned book week, and the fact that people get so terrified of books they want to ban them at all says all we need to know about the power of stories — or, at least, it says all i need to know. i’m sure some might want to argue that, no, they’re not terrified of books, they’re just offended by them or displeased or something something blah blah blah, this book is immoral, that book is hypersexual, that one disses the bible — but i don’t know, at the core of all that offense and outrage and whatever, isn’t there terror? fear of having your beliefs challenged, your worldview shaken up? aversion to risk of changed perspectives and views?

i don’t get that. i don’t get risk aversion. i don’t get beliefs that need to insulate themselves and surround themselves with sameness to exist.

then again, homogeneity of any kind freaks me out a little.


like i said, transitions have not been my friend this week. this whole post is going to be chop, chop, chop. also, i own a stupid number of aprons.

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two things cooking over the years has taught me:

one. it's okay to trust myself. yeah, my technique is shit, and my knife skills are laughable, and i still won't even attempt to cook certain things like fish, but i generally know what i'm doing in a home kitchen. i'm getting better at understanding how to season things. i know what tastes good. it's okay not to be perfect or brilliant or whatever; it's okay to be good enough. so trust yourself.

two. things take time, and things take practice, but you can get better with time and practice. that sounds like such a stupidly obvious thing, but i think it's often easy to forget, to get discouraged, to want to give up when things (whatever "things" are) don't turn out right the first few times around.

take this pasta for example — it's still not great. i still need to work on my rolling (and on rolling thinner), and i still need to work on cutting it into noodles of even width (omg, seriously). the texture is still off, and i still don't have that semolina to APF to yolk to white ratio down. i still don't know how long i'm supposed to cook the damn things. and yet, i can see and feel and taste that this attempt has improved vastly from the first time i made pasta months ago. practice makes better.

it's funny, maybe, because you'd think that's something i'd already have learned after a lifetime of classical music, after a lifetime of writing, but there are certain lessons you keep being reminded of, over and over again.


last week, i read robin sloan’s sophomore novel, sourdough (mcd books, 2017), and i’d loved his debut, mr. penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore (FSG, 2012), and was thus very excited for sourdough. i did enjoy being back sloan’s san francisco, in his take on the tech world, but i can’t say i loved sourdough like i loved penumbra — there was something about it that felt kind of empty because sourdough lacked the vibrancy and vivacity penumbra had. the rollicking fun was gone. sourdough was almost too earnest in its presentation of its world, the artisan food world, too appreciative, maybe, and less poking at (good-naturedly but still).

also, i admit i have difficulties going into a book with a first-person female narrator when the book has been written by a man. maybe that’s unfair prejudice; maybe it’s warranted wariness; but i require convincing in ways that i normally wouldn’t if a man wrote a male voice or, even, if a woman wrote a male voice.

and it’s not like i could tell you, this is what i mean by a convincing female narrative voice, because i don’t think such thing exists. women come in all kinds of voices, just like we come in all shapes and sizes and colors and sexualities and beliefs and worldviews — but maybe that’s not the point, an idea that you can characterize what makes a gendered voice, because the thing is that i find many female characters written by men to be so flat, one-dimensional, and fantastical, like they’re there principally to fulfill the male writer’s fantasy as to how he perceives a woman “should” or “might” be, to satisfy his ego that wants to believe he can convincingly occupy a woman’s perspective.

it’s not like lois, sloan’s first-person female narrator, didn’t feel real or sincere in sloan’s attempt to inhabit her. she didn’t really seem that fleshed out a character to me, though. her story (or her quest) didn’t engage me because she was kind of just there, this sourdough starter fell into her lap, and she somehow ended up in an intriguing alternate farmers market — and my disinterest and kind of lack of enthusiasm for sourdough is just flat-out weird because i love food and i love reading about food and i loved sloan’s penumbra, but my appreciation for sloan’s depiction of the artisan food world and amusement over how he stuck in tartine and alice waters and chez panisse still could not bring me to a point of enthusiasm for sourdough.

in the end, a book must deliver more than satisfactory parts.


on the rolling pasta end, you’d think i’d just invest in a pasta rolling machine thing. i’m not a big fan of kitchen gadgets, though; they take up too much space, cost more than they’re worth, and aren’t quite necessary. i tend to think all you need in a home kitchen gadget-wise are a food processor, a blender, and maybe an immersion blender, and that’s about it. maybe a crockpot if you’re into that kind of thing.

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as far as putting myself out there, though, maybe there's this: that, yes, there is intentionality here because it's important to remember that all these online spaces, whether it's this blog or instagram or twitter or facebook, are all curated spaces. they cannot help but be curated spaces, and curation, honestly, is not inherently right or wrong. it simply is, and we attach whatever moral meaning to it as we please.

and there's intentionality here because it's good to remember that not all bodies look the same. i am thinner than some but larger than others, and i can pick on every single flaw i see in every single one of these images. there are things maybe i shouldn't share; there are angles of me maybe i shouldn't put out there to be seen.

and yet there's a lot of privilege in this, and i recognize it. i am able-bodied. i am physically capable of caring for myself. i am conventionally passable as pretty (or, at least, not ugly). i may be uncomfortable putting myself out there, but i don't necessarily have to be afraid to do so. i can convince myself that my body dysmorphia is just that — dysmorphia, distortions in my head, when the reality of my body allows me more ease in existing in the world than it does others.

sometimes, that makes it difficult for me to talk about my body dysmorphia because it doesn't feel valid.

here’s another non-transition: sometimes, i think one of the stranger things about being a writer is that i simultaneously believe in the power of words and find words almost stupid. the latter particularly kicks in in the aftermaths of tragedies, particularly those caused by gun violence, because, like ryan lizza wrote for the new yorker, responses to gun violence have become parodies, words that are copy-pasted from previous statements then forgotten, no action taken because we’ve gotten so inured to these senseless brutalities.

it's easy to write a statement, post a tweet, record a video saying what a tragedy this shooting was, how egregious and heinous and evil, here are thoughts and prayers and condolences to everyone who has lost someone. it's easy to draft the words. it's easy to make a spectacle of grief, to play the part that is expected of you and pat yourself on the back for doing your due diligence.

the thing is, though, when something is as solvable a problem as gun violence, i don't give a rat's ass about anyone's "thoughts and prayers." thoughts don't solve anything. prayers don't mean anything. condolences are shallow, hollow offerings, especially when they come from the people in power who can do something about this but choose not to.

and how does any of this fit into this post overall, anyway?

i spent my last two sundays ensconced away in my kitchen, cooking and reading and keeping the world at bay, which maybe is a form of escapism but is also a way of caring for myself. being active citizens sometimes requires us to do that because we're in this for the long haul, we can't burn out now, and it's not enough to be sad at the happenings in the world, to tweet outrage every so often, to settle in grief for a few minutes after a news release.

it’s easy to think that we can’t do anything, too, that what contributions we can make are so small as to be inconsequential. it’s easy to think that there isn’t much we can do; we aren’t public figures; we aren’t wealthy; we’re busy enough trying to make rent and pay bills and put food on our tables.

the thing, is, though, it's not about heroism or wealth or fame. it’s about doing what you can when you can if you can. a little bit on its own might be nothing, but a little bit when everyone is doing her/his/their little bit can amount to a whole lot.

so donate money if you can. donate blood if you can. donate supplies and food if you can. donate your time and physical strength if you can. donate your time and skills and experience if you can.

it's not about doing a lot, about doing more than you can. it's about doing something, anything you can because maybe, on its own, your contribution might feel small and inconsequential, but, together, our small, seemingly inconsequential contributions can add up to something big, and this — each of us doing our tiny, little bit — is how we bring about change.

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on instagram, someone asked for the recipe for this pork braised with apples and fennel, so here it is.

peel and smash garlic. peel and slice apples, fennel (just the bulb), and shallots. salt and pepper pork shoulder.

heat oil with smashed garlic in dutch oven on medium heat. when oil is hot (and i mean hot), bring to high heat, and sear the pork on all sides, a few minutes on each side. remove pork from dutch oven; set aside. add shallots to dutch oven; sauté. add apples and fennel to dutch oven; sauté. return pork shoulder to dutch oven. add rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes.

pour hard apple cider over everything; add some water. bring to a rolling boil. when it's boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. salt to taste. occasionally skim fat from the surface. simmer until liquid has reduced by half.

remove pork shoulder; let cool enough to handle; shred. smash apples/fennel/shallots/garlic in dutch oven using potato masher. returned shredded pork to dutch oven; stir; let heat through.

eat with rice.


i am not a good recipe-writer, but you know? that is okay.

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