What I haven’t done since 13 March when my husband and I began our lockdown:
- finished my memoir
- reorganized my kitchen
- kept a pandemic diary
- home schooled children
- written the cookbook I’ve always dreamed of writing
- taken a ________ class (you fill in the blank, French Language, Meditation, Chinese Cooking)
- hiked to the top of Mt. St Anything
It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to do those things, believe me, if I’m anything I’m aspirational. Take a glance across the tabs on my safari web browser you’ll see all my eclectic fantasy projects as well as a pretty clear picture of the state of my wellbeing. Currently I’ve got:
- how to give people advice
- how to deep clean your house (no link! don’t do it!)
- kindness over fear
- Anthony Bourdain’s last interview
- pandemic diary
- Tara Brach meditation
- Letter from a French Village
- why I’m not dining out
What I have done? Stocked our home with a bar (not a barre), and, we got a puppy. His name is Stanley and we’re in love.
I came to it late, but I’m loving Saeed Jones’ memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives. Young, queer, and black, Saeed Jones writes about coming into his own in the south. His writing is fierce and lyric. He speaks of his love of books and language, the strength of his mother, the fear and awkwardness of coming into his own body and owning his desires, and the necessity of leaving those you love to gain yourself. The book is beautifully written, his story compelling. And, he has this gorgeous poem in the New Yorker this week.
A few weeks ago a friend sent me this essay from O, Magazine. “What The Black Lives Matter Movement has Taught Me About My Whiteness“ is a true call to action for white people, white women in particular. We have a real responsibility to lead systemic change in our country and Deborah Way beautifully describes her personal call to action, and how she may misstep along the way. Our job is not to BE RIGHT, but to GET IT RIGHT, and that is going to take being willing to be wrong and the flexibility to change. Please, check it out.
Finally, the writer Sulieka Jaouad, who put together the Isolation Journal project, has now opened an Isolation Journal Bookshop. Man, what luck, a beautifully curated store online that benefits independent booksellers. I’ve just spent a few moments perusing and found three books I’m interested in:
I’ve been sharing this video with my writing students. It’s from Marina Abramovic’s performance piece, The Artist is Present, at MOMA. I find the rush of emotion in both Marina’s and Ulay’s faces so deeply moving. At this time in particular, when we’re all separated and yearning to hug friends and family alike, all my mirror neurons fire up.
I wonder, who would you like to see across the table from you? What would you like to tell them? Take 10 minutes, freewrite and then, perhaps turn the writing into a letter, send it off in the snail mail.
I’ve been poem bombing my neighborhood! Tacking this poem on telephone poles for whomever needs to hear it. What would you say to the person crying in the next bathroom stall?
If you’d like to work with me, I’ve got virtual classes about to begin with a few spaces left:
Beginning Fiction – July 22 – August 26.
Ready to get the stories in your head onto paper? If there’s a story you want to tell, but you have no idea where to begin (or you need a refresher), this course is for you. We will focus on a different aspect of fiction––character, dialogue, setting, and more––and explore it through stories by authors like Stephanie Vaughn, Jim Shepard, Edward P. Jones, Zadie Smith, Lucia Berlin, Tessa Hadley, Jhumpa Lahiri to illuminate that topic and inspire our own writing. We’ll put what we learn into practice through weekly exercises and writing prompts, and in the second half of class, you will have the opportunity to submit a full short story to receive feedback from the instructor and your fellow writers, to help you get a sense of what your strengths are, and how to build on them.
Turning Life into Fiction – August 6 – September 3
We have a wealth of story possibilities in our lives. What is a story that’s often retold to the point of folklore in your family? What is the anecdote that you trot out over a beverage with friends? In this class we will use life as the starter for stories to which we apply our imagination, the skills in our writers’ toolbox, and the joy that comes from being in charge of how the story ends!
And, I’ve updated my teaching and editing pages her on my website, take a peek.
What do you do when your cooking mentors are outed as part of the problem? There has been a lot of pulling back the curtain in Portland’s restaurant scene lately, beloved restaurants revealed to have toxic work environments with abusive, misogynistic, transphobic, racist chefs. Many of the restaurants are already closed due to the pandemic, some have shuttered swiftly and permanently after being outed, others are taking a hiatus and refiguring, learning and (hopefully) making amends to staff. What do we do as consumers? I actually feel bad pulling cookbooks by these chefs off my shelf. It’s that question again, can we love the art but abhor the artist? This is not a rhetorical question.
And so, I embrace the generous and joyous and darling Samin Nosrat. Her cookbook, Salt Fat Acid Heat is a delight (in no small part due to the exciting and excellent artwork of Wendy MacNaughton. I’ve already said she deserves a MacArthur grant for her pandemic art classes. Seriously, you should follow her on Instagram). Nosrat’s Netflix series is also a real treat. Especially the episode in which she makes crispy rice with her mother.