All Kinds of Things You Can't See From the Center

It's warm in New York today but not hot. It's hovering around 80 with no humidity. It's my favorite kind of weather. It's weather that makes me yearn for Sonoma County the way winter used to make me yearn for New York. I can see the hills still green from winter rains and smell the damp of the redwoods and feel the way the air changes as you get closer to the coast. I can feel my excitement that it's just about time for the Sonoma-Marin fair which will tide me over to County Fair time. Hot black tops and too expensive fried foods. Sheep shearing and sheep dog trials. Wondering why I was so much better at winning goldfish when I was a child. It's funny how life knows exactly how far to push you before turning around. How just saying something out loud or getting things out of your head and onto a piece of paper can loosen some thing's hold on you.

Dominique suggested I date the lumberjack and just give into the spiral about two months ago, and I thought about it. I thought about giving in because sometimes it's easier to just give in than risk fighting against it and failing. If you are a relentlessly controlled person, there is no better feeling than the high of being out of control. I thought about it. And I rejected it.

I had just gotten Charlotte and I think I had just gone on my second date with the guy I'm dating now and both those things felt like a return to normal for me. My baseline. And it felt good. It felt like somewhere I wanted to be even as a felt my life was spiraling out of control financially and careerwise.

A couple of Sundays ago, I found myself cooking dinner in a vintage dress, making enough for aforementioned guy to be able to pack for lunch and I laughed to myself thinking what a caricature of myself I had so easily become again. I thought about how much more normal my life suddenly seemed to me with a kitten and somebody for whom to cook and, thankfully, a return to a full-time schedule. I have spent most of my adult life with all of those things, the last two years an anomaly. I didn't need to learn how to live without a pet, but I did need to live without a significant other and I'm happy it happened and I'm happy to take a break from it.

I thought I would be terrified to incorporate somebody into my life again. I thought it would be hard to fit somebody into a schedule that has been built solely around my own priorities. I thought I might lose myself. I thought I'd still be bad at open and honest communication about my FEELINGS. Instead, I'm startled by how easily I've adapted, how stupid happy it makes me and how much I still feel centered in myself. I surprised myself Sunday when, with my voice quavering, I said "I'm just sad" instead of continuing to insist that I was fine.

It's strange how we can not change at all and also change immensely and that those things are not mutually exclusive.

Existing in All Times and No Times at Once

My world is timeless lately. My schedule is different every week and my hours are different every day. It's my Sunday after working a 6 day week that was four 6 hour days, one 9 hour day and ended with a 12 hour day catering in a museum classroom we had changed into a "kitchen" that somehow had the same amount of lighting the entire time we were there. I have no routine. When I have weekends off, I act like it's the last weekend off I'm going to have forever and try to cram in as much eating, drinking and seeing my friends as possible. But then I have two weekends off in a row and I wonder if maybe I should slow down a bit. As soon as I decide to slow down I have days where I have to get to work by 6am and don't see anybody except my roommate because we ride the 5:37 bus together. I won't know my schedule for this week until I get to work tomorrow and because it's events season, whatever it is will likely change as we get in more last minute caterings.

None of this is really a problem. I worked a six day week but I still got two days off. Tomorrow I'll leave by three for volunteering like I do every Tuesday. The more last minute caterings we take on, the closer I get to my much needed forty hours. Amazingly, I have not gotten sick despite the fact that I'm generally somebody that can only really function with routine and going to bed more or less at the same time every day because sleeping is not really my strong suit. Without routine, I will also forget to eat until I'm basically a cranky, exhausted, hot mess, turning in circles wondering where I just put those cookies I pulled out of the oven. Yes, I realize the irony. Cooking is my strong suit. Eating is a skill I only relatively recently developed and still often forget. Family meal is basically the best thing that happens to me every day.

It's just weird. All times are the same time and all days are the same day because none of them have any attached meaning except Tuesdays. None of them really can have attached meaning. I usually either get to work at 6 or 9 but Saturday I got to work at 11:30. Today is Monday which has mostly been my Monday but instead it was my Sunday so my roommate and I had pizza brunch at Roberta's and later I went grocery shopping.

I think things might be starting to unravel. I have to think hard about days and times and places to which I've committed even though that's always been a thing I'm obsessively on top of. It doesn't help that I seem to be allergic to every tree in Brooklyn and have fog brain no mater how much zyrtec and neti pot I subject my body to. I no longer remember what it's like to have full feeling in my right hand. An OkC message just made my almost start crying, not because there was anything particularly awful about it, just because it was another stupid message with a stupid usage of ellipses and zero real content and it all seems so stupid and pointless even though I have at least one date this week with somebody that understands basic punctuation.

This is, historically, an unraveling time of year for me. I have no idea if it's exacerbated by my lack of routine or if that makes no difference at all. I think it might be routine for me to always fall out of my routine right around now. I am only now realizing that the other night when I looked down and saw a string of beads next to a Mogen David instead of my usual chai (etz chaim, really, I guess) which belonged to my father next to it and had a momentary twinge of sadness that I was feeling the first late April to early May grief pangs. I'm only now realizing that the reason searching for another job and selling myself to new people seems unbearable is because my whole being feels like it's been rubbed raw and every emotion is sand paper. I understand why I couldn't read anything about the Boston Marathon without sobbing.

This will go on for a while, so I will be kind to myself and I will fake it until I make it through and then I will figure out where I hid the pieces of my life from myself and how time works and puzzle it back together.

If you don't understand him, an' he don't die young, He'll prob'ly just ride away.

When my mother left, when my mother came back. Going to live with my grandparents. My father being arrested in front of me. Visits to rehabs. My father's death. Turning points in my life have mostly been things where I feel no control. Turning me from a quiet controlled girl into a contained, obsessively controlled woman. ***

When I kissed him when I shouldn't have because I was committed to kissing somebody else. The kiss that would turn into months of arguments. Of late night phone calls. Of screaming and threatened suicide if I didn't come RIGHT NOW. Of two hour drives and me leaving the peninsula at 6am to get to high school in Santa Rosa on time. Of spiraling down, down, down. Poor grades in eagerly signed up for AP classes and lies to my therapist. Or at least, not truths. Breaking the trust of the somebody else for, maybe, ever. The first proof that for the next six years I'd always find a way to be leaving.

Until that day when I left.

"I don't want you to move in with us"

"Is that all?"

"And I don't think I can do this anymore"

"I was afraid that's what you were going to say"

And so I drove away in tears from the boy I thought I would marry, who put up with panic attacks and days spent crying and that early mistake of kissing somebody else who would only make things worse. Allowing us both to grow up and apart.

Maybe this was my moment of being cruel to be kind.

***

I sat in the waiting room with my grandmother. I hadn't slept for days weeks and so I was here. Therapy, round 2. I guess that first round, when I was a small child, didn't take. The truth was, I needed it more before my father died. Now I had reason to be sad and reason to not sleep, though both those things had been true beforehand. I filled out the forms with my grandmother sitting next to me and though I was fairly certain she wasn't looking, I lied. I lied about the amount of sad, the crying, the thoughts about death and suicide. I didn't lie about sleep habits because that's why I was there after all. Grief and sleeplessness and dropping enough pounds that my pediatrician asked if I had been trying to lose weight. I lied. And I would mostly keep lying. And after a year I would be pronounced fine.

The therapist couldn't have known then that she was the one doing the lying.

***

That time I locked my heart up when my mother told me it was no fun if I didn't cry. That night child me walked herself home in the darkness of the West Oakland night. That first morning I got myself ready for school and attempted to wake up my mother to get her to take me. The habits of self-sufficiency cemented early and forever unshakeable.

***

When I boarded a plane for India. When I boarded a plan for Turkey. When I chose culinary school over college.

When I left my dream job, relationship and apartment to move into a cabin in the woods.

When I was still unhappy two years later and boarded a plane to New York.

***

I don't know that there are event horizons I haven't written about or beaten like a dead horse. I don't know the moments where I truly changed all. I think sometimes I have been the same forever. The happier version or the sadder version or the more honest version. But my core seems the same. The only difference is how closely I have lived in line with it.

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. One of today's prompts was What have been the event horizons of your life - the moments from which there is no turning back?

Drive all night just to feel like you're ok

Music prompts are my favorite prompts and also the hardest. Californians love driving like they love a brother. We bitch and moan about traffic like it's our job, but in the end, don't even know how to function without an engine and an open road. I'm from the part of California people come to just to drive. Dark, forested, windy back roads that suddenly open up on top of rolling hills and vast expanses of vineyards. Lush and green in the spring and waves of fire in the fall.  Round the right corner and suddenly your car is hugging a cliff and you're blinded by the sun reflecting off the Pacific.

When I'm stressed my urge is to jump behind the wheel of a car, or when I'm angry, when I'm depressed, when the sun is shining and everything seems right with the world. All emotions lead to California One. Sometimes this is the hardest part of New York, this long separation between me and a steering wheel.

You can't really belt it out and feel your FEEEEEELINGS on the subway.

"Excuse me? Could you round this corner just on the verge of too fast and maybe blast some Ryan Adams over the loudspeaker? It's just, I broke my own heart tonight. Don't try tell me everyone else on this train isn't also sick to death of love and sick to death of trying, we all know what dating in New York is like"

What? You don't feel all your feelings through alt country of the 90s?

Is it because, like me, you have a not so secret love for feeling all your feelings through angry female mainstream country? At least, you do when you're back living at home, in the country and that cowboy Casanova has told another one of his lies and suddenly you're identifying with T Swift? (I'm still bitter I was never allowed to drive that damn truck)

But it always comes back to my favorite song. I've listened to it over and over and over, driving everywhere. I made a tape of the album, back before there were iPods, because my sweet '96 Corolla only had a tape deck. I've mentioned before that it was the anthem of my junior and senior years of high school. The years right after my dad died. The years when I was truly truly a mess.

I didn't sleep much. Sometimes, when I couldn't sleep, I'd layer up and leave my house. I didn't really get in trouble and I didn't have a curfew and my grandparents were usually in bed before me, so I honestly don't know if they even noticed. I'd get in Delilah and pull out of our driveway, turning left towards the road that would lead me to the coast.

Put your hands on the wheel, let the golden age begin.

If it was too cold (which it almost always is in coastal Northern California at night), I'd turn the heater as I obeyed the next lines.

The window down, feel the moonlight on your skin

Desert wind cool your aching head

The weight of the world drift away instead

I'd relax into the seat. Tears pricking the corner of my eyes, quickly navigating the turns so familiar I could still follow them blind folded, turning the heater higher and higher as I got closer to the coast. This was a thing my father and I did, driving. And at once I'd feel closer to him and forever far away.

These days I barely get by

By the time I'd get to Hwy 1, I'd have to rewind the tape to listen to this song over again. Finally, pulled over, I'd chokingly sob along, the crash of the waves slowly calming me.

I don't even try

I don't even try

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. Today's prompt was to talk about singing alone in the car.

I Still Need to go to Al Anon

Here is a painfully honest real thing: When I see things like this, I feel tremendously guilty.

I know that I have worked WORKED for this to not be my life, that my fear of becoming my parents (or the people my parents used to be) motivated everything my younger self did, that I have not come out unscathed.

But my heart breaks and I cannot stop crying because I do not know how to not empathize and I feel horribly guilty about the privilege that allowed me to not have that life. And I feel horribly guilty that I only spend an hour each week volunteering when there is so much to be done in the world. I mean, deep, in my soul, think I'm a fundamentally bad person, guilt.

(I am not writing this in hopes of reassurance or back pats. It is just a Real Thing that I struggle with that I'm guessing other people with similar backgrounds struggle with too)

Bits & Pieces: Feelings and Job Updates

So here is the reality of the last few weeks. For the first week after getting laid off I was nauseous every day. Every. Single. Day. I knew I would find another job but that didn't keep the sadness then anger than anxiety at bay. By that Friday I was actually sick, not just anxiety sick. I basically spent the entire weekend in bed, snotty, hacking, fevery and gross. Even sick I managed to send out a second volley of resumes because sickness does not anxiety cure (unlike having a source of income).

My motivation to show up for work for the next week was pretty non existent, both because I was sick as hell and because I had mostly moved onto anger. I had poured all my creative energy into my job and, in the end, gotten nothing in return. There had been jobs that would've been better career moves for me, jobs that would've given me health insurance, but no, I believed in the potential of Je & Jo and I believed that I'd be working for people just as committed and concerned about taking their business to the next level as I was. And I'm honestly not sure they were. And, fuck, I HAD JUST GOTTEN SALARY AND PAID TIME OFF, which had lulled me into an apparently false sense of security. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me.

Look, I've never been much for routine, I'm more of a "running from one falling star to another" sort of girl. I'm used to getting bored and wanting change constantly. When I got laid off last year, I was relieved. I was excited about my new job prospects. This year I was resistant, I applied to jobs because I had to. I took the job I knew objectively made the most sense for me careerwise and for the things I like to do. I'll be honest, I wasn't excited. I wasn't not excited, I just wasn't really anything. For once, I didn't actually want my life to change.

I've now worked at my new job for five days. I'm starting out with a six day week and I've gone through close to 15o pounds of flour in the last five days. This is real baker life and I've kind of missed it. My arms are not as sore as I've thought they would be (today I mixed a batch of brownies that involved 4 pounds of butter and 2.75 pounds of chocolate BY HAND and that's been pretty typical of my week) but I feel pretty physically exhausted by the end of the day. It's a good feeling. I'm using skills I haven't used in a while and using them well. My boss and I assembly lined some galettes today and worked easily and efficiently as a team. I'm starting to actually get excited.

I won't say I'm excited about waking up at 4:45am or going back to working weekends, but I will say that I think the shake up in routine is good for me. My commute is half what it used to be and there are many more daylight hours in my life. They feed me family meal at work. It's a pretty seasonal/California cuisine/nouveau American sort of place so I've been eating pretty clean which makes me crave more clean food and cook at home more. I have a feeling my new schedule might get lonely pretty soon, but right now I feel like I've been given a blank slate. I've been forced to completely reorganize/prioritize my time. Which is nice. Each day I get to say "So what is it I do on <insert day here> at 5pm now?" and do whatever the fuck I want. At 8am, the morning bake off has been picked up and I can walk to get a coffee at Five Leaves. At 3pm I usually have snack time at home. This week has involved a lot of reading and trying to not nap, some cooking, some cleaning and a little pre bedtime yoga. I think the pre bedtime yoga is here to stay.

Also, the coffee break. OBVS.

And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.

2012 was a good year for me. It seems strange to say that. I got laid off in early 2012, I swore off online dating sometime last March and my best friend's dad died. But I found a job that didn't make me cry most days, I used the time and energy I had been using on OkC and first dates to do things that made me happy instead and well, there's  no positive spin on a parent dying. I said it was a good year, I definitely didn't say it was perfect. Nothing is coming easy in wrapping up this year. I don't know why. I want to say I didn't have any grand realizations or startling epiphanies, but I don't think that's true. I know I learned things. I know I made changes. I continued the process of settling into myself which seems like it isn't really a thing. I want to say "this year, I became even more myself" but it seems so self evident. It's not though, right? Becoming yourself is hard. Stripping away the concepts of what you should do or the notions of what you're expected to do and listening to what things truly make you happy is surprisingly fucking hard.

I'm reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking right now, and a lot of it is confirming things I already know about myself but a lot of it also making me really examine the parts of myself I respect and the parts I don't. It's had me reexamining my career through a different lens. I put a lot of effort in my early twenties into being good at being a fake extrovert because I got tired of being told I was intimidating or came off bitchy at first when really I'm just slow to warm up and pretty fucking shy. I don't think there's anything wrong with fake extroversion but I've been coming around to thinking of it more as a tool and less as the person I'm supposed to be. I had a lot of quiet time this year. I learned how much better I focus without netflix on in the background and with tweetdeck off. I learned that I am actually totally fine with there being musicless days in the kitchen. I stopped focusing on relationships with acquaintances and formed some really close, real friendships this year because that's something I'm actually much better at.

For a long time I kind of abandoned service work because it wasn't something people around me were super interested in and because I didn't want to come off as too much of a pious goody two shoes. Yes, that is correct. I though that if I went on a volunteering spree people might judge me negatively for being a good person. I don't know, maybe some people have. Who fucking cares because I'm happy and the world is a better place. Like most things in life, it turns out the people that care about you are excited and supportive because the people that actually matter want you to be happy.

2012: The year where I learned the obvious truths.

I spent a lot of time reading in 2012. I scheduled a lot of down days. I saw some fantastic concerts. I watched more tv than I'd like to admit and I still haven't found a yoga studio that I love (2013 pro tip: try actively looking). I'm starting the year stripping away things that aren't making me actively happy and adding more of the things that are. That is, really, my only goal for the year- to give myself permission to go after the things I really want and to say no to things I don't really want.

Nobody will be surprised to learn my word for the year is "Timshel".

You Can't Run Away, Bunny

To this day, my mother still calls me Bunny, sometimes Bunny Rabbit. My father used to call me Rabbit. He probably still would. It's strange to me, this pet name used by both my parents. Anything shared by my parents is strange. I forget that at some point they actually had a life together, that this is something they must've come up with together, like grilled cream cheese sandwiches. Those are the only things I really associate with both of them- my lapinesque nickname and grilled cream cheese sandwiches.

My mother recorded bed time stories for me when I was a child. By the time she got clean and was back in my life, I was too old for The Runaway Bunny or The Velveteen Rabbit and had stopped listening to them. I doubt I ever told her how much they meant to me. How many times I listed to them. We're not much for talking about feelings in this family, anyways. But I've been thinking about my nickname. About those stories. I think about the cadence of her reading voice. The slight break in it as she read the Skin Horse's wise words. The words that still make me wonder if I'm less velveteen and more something with sharp edges that breaks too easily. I think about how similar my reading voice is to her's. The cadence I hear in my head as I'm writing.

A friend of mine mentioned grocery shopping late at night a while ago and I found myself instantly transported to early childhood. To walking with my father through aisles crowded with flats mid restocking. To the flourescents that seemed so bright in contrast to the midnight outside. I can hear myself insisting on Honey Nut Cheerios and making him promise to make me mac'n'cheese. The real kind, not from a box. How happy I was to be with him, even at a time I should've been exhausted, even at a grocery store. And that mac'n'cheese memory flashes me forward to being a teenager, to me making him teach me how to make it, not knowing I only had two more years of getting him to make it for me.

It's December, and grief, it abides you know.

I was told to go where the wind would blow

I made a decision recently. I pretty big one. A secret one. Well, not really a secret, not an intentional secret, just a decision nobody knows I made. Nobody really knew was being made. It's made me happy and sad. And in a strange way feel like I'm grieving.

I decided not to go home in January.

For as long as I can remember, I came to New York for the holidays. And when I couldn't come for the holidays, I came in January, often around my birthday. New York in the winter is my favorite. New York in the winter makes me so happy I could cry. The warm weather we're having makes me want to cry in the opposite way. Last January I reversed the migration. I went home to California for a little over a week in January. I flew to Vegas for 48 hours 10 days later for my mom's wedding. In May I went to BiSC, went home to California for TWENTY FOUR hours to see my best friend because her father was dieing and then again, ten days later flew to California for 48 hours to see my little brother graduate high school (THANK EFFING GOD, IT WAS A CLOSE CALL THERE FOR A WHILE). So by June I had made 4 round trips across the country. That's kind of a lot.

Most of the practical reasons I'm not going home in January are financial. BiSC registration happens in January. I don't have paid time off, so going home right after the holidays is a little rough. One of my close friends is getting married in Massachusetts in the Summer but the bachelorette party is probably going to be in Vegas or California. I can't afford more than two cross country tickets in one year. And I can't afford more vacations. Either BiSC or the bachelorette party will probably be combined into a longer California home visit but there's no reason for me to go home in January.

I always came to New York in January because I hated missing the holidays here. Because I missed Central Park covered in snow more than anything. Because I love to ice skate and that's hard to explain to people that've only ever done it indoors. I went home to California last January because there was no way I was missing my little brother's 18th birthday. This year he turns 19, I turn 27. Who the fuck cares about that? (ok, I care about the 27 more than I thought I would care about officially entering my late 20s, but whatevs) I don't need to go home for the rain when I can stay here for the snow.

I can go to Sonoma County in the spring. When the weather is perfect and the hills are still green and I can see more stars in the sky than a New Yorker could ever imagine.

But the real reason I'm not going home in January is because I live here now. I don't really know how to explain it. It's just a step. A step in growing up. A step in changing and letting go. I live here now. This is my life. I migrated cross country every winter so I could have a brief moment in the place my soul felt still. My soul is still. I'm settled. Or at least as settled as one can be at this age. I don't need to reverse it.

I'll go home at some point. I'll go home when my heart can't stand to spend another moment away from the roar of the Pacific. When I miss the streak of the Milky Way the way I miss my father. When whiskey at 4am on the lower east side doesn't taste as good as whiskey at 4am in a barn. Or by a fire. I'll go home when I can't stand another moment without being behind the wheel of a car.

I'll go home and my baby cousins will be taller than me. My little brother won't live there. My best friends dad won't ever talk to me about cooking or travel again. The old tiny black Moxie cat I left with Lara held on, snuggling by Lara's father's side and now she's gone with him. The big black dog that was always excited to see me at my aunt and uncle's because he knew I'd take him for a walk won't be there either. I'll have a step dad I don't even really know. There will be a tiny person at the home of my friends whose wedding cake it seems I just made yesterday.

Other things will be the same. The Peet's coffee in my grandparents' house. The charred edges of toasted pain au levain. The milky way and highway 1. The fog rolling into the valley.

I'll go home. And I'll visit. And I'll realize it really isn't home anymore.

Bits & Pieces (the fourth)

August isn't my favorite time of year. It's well documented. I haven't been writing about it, because there isn't anything to say that I haven't said before.

I had a nasty Summer cold earlier this month, the worst deathaversary sick I've had in a couple of years. I wasn't prepared for it to happen so early. After literally spending 48 hours in bed over the weekend, I was still sick enough on Monday that I would've called in sick if my assistant were actually a baker, not a grad student who knows how to work the ice cream machine. I never call in sick, it's just not done in the kitchen, but I would've called in sick.

I over schedule myself to the point where I even thought I was over scheduled. Over scheduling is my thing. I love it. But this month I looked at the calender and thought "Seriously, Alana Margaret? Are you trying to kill yourself?". Nope, just keeping busy.

Busy busy busy.

My brain is on overdrive. I think I've probably written ten blog posts in my head but never let myself sit down to write them. I got in a rut at work and then suddenly thought of all the new recipes I wanted to make at once. That's how it goes. The recipes leave and come back. It's overwhelming sometimes, I never know how to explain it. Once I'm in that mode, I'll literally stop a conversation to work out a flavor combination out loud. I haven't shut down for a while. Quieting my mind during yoga this week was an extra challenge.

My life, it seems so full of possibility right now. My lease is up at the end of November and I'm constantly thinking about what next. It's crazy that I'll have lived in the same apartment for a year and ten months when I leave, I tend to pack up and move, to run onto the next thing more often than that usually. Do I stay in Astoria? Can I somehow afford Manhattan? Do I give in and move to Brooklyn to be with my hipster people? Do I leave New York? (I'm not leaving New York, I'm too happy with my life right now, but the point is, I could. I'd come back, but I could leave for a while).

I love my job and I really believe in the product, but once again I'm not sure what the next step is careerwise. I think the next step is to do what I've been doing and create a life outside of work while I have a job that allows me to do that. Maybe the next step is just sticking around for a while.

Politics are making me rage-y right now. Just a rage bubbling up inside me that I haven't felt for a while. I told somebody the other day that I had such a hard time taking Mitt Romney seriously as a candidate that I keep forgetting it's an election year. WHEN I WAS IN INDIA I READ ENTIRE DEBATE TRANSCRIPTS ON THE INTERNET and this year I've been like "wait, we still actually need to vote on this bullshit?". At least that's how I was until Republicans started saying really REALLY stupid things about rape and then I mean, RAGE. Just, rage.

I guess I feel like I'm finding myself again with the yoga and the volunteering and the rage. I don't know when I lost myself. Or if that's the right phrase. I feel like I'm turning into the version of myself I want to be. I wasn't lost. I just knew I could do more. There still much more to do, there's always more. But I'm growing again. Growing and stable at the same time.

Happy and sad at the same time.

Lara called to tell me Moxie Crimefighter died today. It finally made me pause long enough to feel the sadness that's been lingering around the edges this month. Sadness for her dad's passing, sadness for my own's and now sadness for the loss of a tiny black cat named after pub trivia had a celebrity baby names round. While Lara's dad was sick, Moxie slept curled next to him every day. You were the best, Moxiecat. The best.

I'm currently simultaneously annoyed with myself for being irresponsible and going out and drinking for EIGHT HOURS last Wednesday and had such a good, crazy time, that I can't be. It was just one of those nights that I think can only happen in New York where one minute it's 5pm happy hour in the UWS and then it's 11 and somehow you've ended up in Brooklyn, developing a small surprise crush on somebody that wasn't even really eligible in your mind before. The crush has stuck with me sober. Have I mentioned how much I hate crushes? It's basically like when somebody tells me they have a surprise for me. Either just surprise me or tell me what it is. I don't do well with anticipation and not knowing. Seriously, I hate this feeling. Will it develope into more of a crush? How does he feel about me? Why am I even thinking about this that much? What's my next move? Do I make a next move? Why did I hide in the kitchen when he came into work the other day? What if he has no interest in moves? WHY CAN'T WE JUST HAVE ARRANGED MARRIAGES STILL?

I'm going to lie in a dark room and just listen to the Good Old Wars and The Avett Brothers endlessly now. Also, the Lumineers, still. And the Milk Carton Kids. I'm back on an alt country kick and a buying all the music kick. I'm still so happy to have gotten back this part of myself. I miss my records, though. I want those when I move.

I think maybe my brain will be quiet for a second now because how can anything be left after that outpouring of gibberish?

Struggling

It was Sunday afternoon (East Coast time) when Lara called me.

It was about half a second before I thought about just going to the airport and seeing if I could get on a plane and a few hours until I forced myself to admit that I couldn't really do that.

Five minutes until the break in her voice "how do you deal with father's day?"

45 minutes until I called my grandma

3 more days until the ball of anxiety that's been living in my chest for weeks now finally went away because it was still 3 days until I finally broke down and sobbed. Oh I wanted to before then. I wanted to in the middle of the kitchen at work. I wanted to on the train. But I knew once I started it would be a while before I stopped. So it took three days.

My mental health has backslid ten years at times this week. I guess that's how these things work.

Life seems easier right now with a little something to take the edge off. Or rather, life seems bearable that way.

And I guess that's how you end up lying on your yoga mat on a Saturday afternoon drinking a sauv blanc that was possibly made from grapes grown on your ex's ranch listening to country music (THE MUSIC OF PAIN) wondering what the fuck is wrong with you that you prefer to live where the grapes aren't grown and highway 1 isn't a 7 minute drive away and you actually can't be there for your friends.

This is probably the point where I should turn this post around and give you the shiny side or the learning and growing side. But there's no shiny side today. Because I'm just so sad.

So very very sad.

Untitled

I've been saying "life is hard" a lot lately. In the moments when life isn't hard. The moments where I have the windows down and am blasting a little Dirt Road Anthem on a perfect West Sonoma County Spring day. The moments where I've been forced to eat artichokes from the garden. Or spend the whole day eating and drinking with two amazing friends. I say it jokingly in the happy moments to mark it as a moment to remember when Life Is Hard.

Because life is pain, Princess. Except when it's not.

Why let them be happy now when they're going to be sad later?

The answer, of course, is because they're going to be sad later.

I remind myself because one moment my life might be joy and sequins and the next my heart might be breaking for my best friend as I struggle to find the words to console when I know I'm dealing with a situation for which there is no consolation.

I remind myself because in the morning I happily skip around New York with my bag of farmers' maket produce that I get paid to turn into delicious pastries and at night I might watch a tv show with a car crash and surprise myself when I need to curl into a ball and make a conscious effort to breath.

I remind myself because I get older and I realize how young I am. How dramatic everything seemed yesterday but how it hardly matters today. That often the little moments are what build or break a relationship or a life.

I remind myself because I want to recognize the sadness and the hardship but I don't want to wallow in it. Life is good and life is hard and life is unjust and sometimes that works in my favor and sometimes it doesn't. These aren't amazing new revelations, they're just truths to acknowledge every now and then.

They're truths to acknowledge when you spend a year and a half pretty fucking closed off and end up deciding to give on dating for a while altogether and then find yourself terrifyingly, unexpectedly opening up. When waking up one morning wondering why suddenly your bed feels so big with only one person in it and you roll over to find a text from the somebody that's missing.

And they're truths to acknowledge when you flinch at the sound of every late night text message or alert terrified of what it could say, what it could mean for someone you love and that there is not a thing you can do about it.

Life is hard.

In Real Life

IMG_1235When I was thirteen I went to my first Unitarian youth conference. I arrived at the UU church in Aptos with a few close friends and with no idea that I'd be meeting 80 or so people that would change my fucking life. I spent the next eight years devoted to that community- organizing, mentoring, participating and holding. It was cuddle puddles and 4am talks of spirituality, sexuality, social justice and which semi permanent hair dye was the longest lasting (Special Effects still wins, BTW) and days of sleeping as little as possible to soak up the amazingness of the people around me and the feeling of safety that came in that space. When I aged out at twenty one after deaning our week long Summer camp with my two best friends, I was ready. It wasn't my space anymore and it was time to let the youth I tried so hard to mentor as well as I remembered being mentored step up and take my place.

I was a left with a hole in my heart much larger than the one that causes my murmur. Don't get me wrong, those people are still my closest friends and I still very much identify as a Unitarian (even if my current church attendance record is about once a year), but that feeling of community, that feeling of (yes, I'm going there) intention has been missing from my life.

Last weekend I met 59 other bloggers in Las Vegas. 59 other people who also in some way expose themselves for the entire internet to judge. 59 other people who I felt like I already knew without having even met the majority of them before this past weekend IN REAL LIFE.

We use that term a lot, us bloggers, IRL, as if the internet isn't our real life. It's funny, because I think for so many of us it is. The internet is where I'm unabashedly me. Where I am all the things I keep myself from being "too" in real life. Too emotional, too excited, too passionate, too ready to break into dance at the slightest provocation while wearing a sequined dress, too, too, too. The magic of meeting internet people in the real world is that they already know the real version. I don't feel like I have to impress anybody or hide anything because, look, EVERYTHING ABOUT ME IS RIGHT HERE ON THIS BLOG, from my worst decisions to my best decisions, from my struggling with my childhood to my thankfulness for my supportive family, from the bell jar days to the days where I want to shout from the rooftop that life is wonderful, it's all here. All of it. So trying to pretend to be anyone else is just stupid.

So this weekend I got to relax into being me. I got to meet some of the most wonderful, supportive, silly people I know of existing. I spent as much time awake as possible and went to sleep Sunday morning with the sun rising and the birds chirping, only to wake up a few hours later and have to say goodbye. The kind of goodbye that was filled with happy sadness.

And as I left Las Vegas and headed for a mini visit in California, I realized I had found my people again. I realized that this blog and the community I get to be part of because of it has done for me what church conferences did for me as a teenager. It has helped me grow and gain confidence and support others even when exposing the weakest version of myself. It's helped me stay in touch with who I am while nudging me towards the person I want to be. It's given me a whole helluva lot of people to whom I would say my guest room is always open and I'm always available for talking in the midst of a crisis.

When Lara picked me up in San Francisco and asked me if I was sad the weekend was over, I said "Remember that end of con feeling? When you were sad that you had to leave everyone but ready to not be sleeping on a church floor anymore? It was like that. Except Vegas was the church floor".

To my fellow BiSC-uits, I can't wait to see you in real real life because I'm sure as hell not waiting an entire year for the church floor that is Vegas, let's plan a get together soon.

Like, maybe tomorrow.

Timshel

I'm finding one of the products of getting older is being able to distinguish between the different types of sad. The hurt sad. The bell jar sad. The grief sad. The grief sad and the bell jar sad used to be indistuingishable, interwoven, one always seemed to create the other if it went on for long enough.

I am sad and I have not been sleeping well but the world hasn't closed in yet. I have no problem going to work though I am a little spacey and easily frustrated. So far, I haven't even had the urge to cry on the train. I am sad. Grieving. But is tolerable and it will pass. That's what I can tell you ten years after my father celebrated his last birthday. Ten years, and I can finally tell you, I can finally believe, this too shall pass.

May, 3rd 2002, my father turned 38 and it's strange because now 38 is just far enough away that I can't picture it, but close enough to understand how young it really is.

My father was a good man who made bad choices. He was without pretense. He was caring and loving and compassionate. He was a drug dealer and a drug addict. He never hid his choices from me, but he never wanted my choices to be the same. I think a lot of his choices were built around making sure that my choices didn't have to be the same. He wanted the world for me. I was the world for him.

But sometimes in my heart of hearts I still think "You loved me more than anything, you loved me so much that friends of yours I'd never even met would come up to me at the memorial to tell me, to ask me about things in my life I'd barely remembered telling you but it wasn't enough, it still wasn't enough was it? Not enought to pull yourself together. Not enough to walk away from that high".

And I know, I know that's not how addiction works. And I know he died in a motorcycle accident. But I know he was driving that motorcyle too fast because of other poor decisions. And I know that he rarely did anything without the best of intentions. I know he made the choices he felt he had to make. I know he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders, I know the depression, the anxiety. I know the things that have been passed from generation to generation. I empathize too much to be angry. Maybe I'll never make it through all the stages of grief. I am a sad person and I am a hurt person, but I am almost never an angry person.

I miss you, daddy. There were always other choices. I didn't need the whole world, I just needed you to be happy and safe in it.

The parts of me I've lost.

Sidenote: I feel like this post is only grasping at what I want to say. It's not quite there yet.

Vulnerability. Oh I am vulnerable. I am oh so so so so vulnerable.

It hurts, living, it hurts constantly. Like my skin is being rubbed by sandpaper. Except for the moments it doesn't, the moments of sitting on my roof on a warm Spring day eating pineapple until my lips bleed. If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

You will never know this.

I am a feelings person. I feel everything, dramatically, immensely, personally. But I am (mostly) a quiet, contained person, a tense person, a small, apple cheeked, dimpled woman with a sharp edge.

I loathe innocence and softness in others. I don't relate. I resent it. "Don't you understand?" I want to scream at them, "Don't you understand that the world is a cold, hard and lonely place, there are beautiful people in it, but even the beautiful people leave at some point, somehow, always. I should know, I don't think I'm a beautiful person, but I know I'm always leaving, be careful of people like me. And some people, most people, they're just masquerading, don't ever EVER be the first to show your soft underbelly".

What is it like to not feel like that? What would it be like to gain my vulnerability back? I don't know. I lost it so very long ago. I think it's somewhere in West Oakland, between a fence I climbed and a bedroom I was thrown across. Don't ever ask me for memories of your father, little brother.

It's a catch 22 you see, I would trade the loneliness of this impenetrable fortress for things like snuggles on the couch at the end of a long day and nightly shared meals if you proved you were trustworthy but would you take the time to prove you are trustworthy to a woman who only ever offers vague glimpses of who she is?

This post was written as part of The Scintilla Project, prompts can be found here.

It's a treacherous road with a desolated view

 Tumbalalaika is my grandmother singing me to sleep and Where Have all the Flowers Gone is her playing the piano in the sunlit living room of my great grandparents' house in the Berkeley hills.

A musical snowglobe with a basket of roses played the song played at my mother's (unsuccesful) rehab graduation and kept me company in the years she was gone.

"You're going to really like this," my father says as he puts the bright orange CD into the stereo and skips to I'm Just a Girl. Sunny summer Sunday mornings with the top down, driving me home on highway 1.

Mayonaise for the boy I spent three weeks kissing in Ireland when I was 14.

Years of late night singalongs in the Mendocino Woodlands and the smell of campfire lingering in my clothes for days are comprised of Obla Di Obla Da and Down by the Riverside.

Staying up all night next to the fire in the dining hall in the same Woodlands, with friends so close I still think of them as my family, is yelling along to Buddy Holly which is also: my first concert, Paris with Corina (another Weezer concert) endless car singalongs and dinner parties in my Berkeley apartment.

Lara and Corina are I Will Survive and the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack. Stuck in traffic before the Rainbow Tunnel headed towards a Unitarian Universalist youth conference on a rare warm sunny day in San Francisco. Late night cookie bakes. Planning Sunday service.

Golden Age is rain on the roof of Jacob's room junior year of high school. It's panic attacks and aching and loss and grief and comfort and safety all wrapped in one. It's my favorite song and I rarely listen to it because it hurts. It hurts like you couldn't even imagine. Sometimes I don't even know how I got through that first year after my father died.

India when I was eighteen is obviously Redemption Song. The Garden State soundtrack is my return and the next semester in Turkey.

Our tiny, damp and cold (but cheap) apartment in San Francisco was Not a Pretty Girl, while I rocked out to Twin Cinema in the culinary classroom and walked towards the streetcar in the fog humming To Be Young is to Be Sad.

The truth is, I could keep doing this all night, almost every post on this blog for the last three years has been titled with song lyrics, each one awakening a very specific feeling. I'm one of those people. You know the ones, the ones that can't possibly get by on only the 16 gigs their iPhone allows, the ones that listen to albums with the shades drawn and the lights off, whole albums always, songs are meant to be listenened to in album order or on a playlist but never an album on shuffle (shudder), the ones who sometimes replay a song if a conversation interrupted really listening to it, the ones who devour new albums like they've never heard music before... One memory and one song? Impossible. I could more easily give you the soundtrack to my entire life.

But if you really must know, Summertime will always make me cry.

This post was written as part of The Scintilla Project, prompts can be found here.

Insomnia, I never miss you

I avoid going to bed like the plague these days. Even though I'm working a shift more closely resembling that of the rest of the world and should be lost in dreamland right now, I am awake. Dreamland has been scary lately. It started a few weeks ago when I had nightmare every. single. night. for close to ten days straight, waking me in the wee hours of the morning. Now they only seem to be a few times a week. But its enough to not want to sleep. A stalker in one, a dying friend in another. I'm starting to not remember the details of each and every one. There are no monsters, they're not vivid like I understand night terrors to be, but I've never experienced this before.

Until I was a teenager, I think until my dad died, really, I could count all the nightmares I'd had on one hand. I've just never remembered my dreams much and when I do they were usually bizarre gibberish or because I had been lucid dreaming. No nightmares. I vaguely remember going through a period similar to this one at some point in my late teens. But my dad had died and I was vacillating between a nice boy and a boy that threatened suicide if I didn't drive two hours in the night to see him and, I suppose, nightmares were reasonable.

Now though, they are not reasonable. I have not been anxious. Nothing crazy is going on in my life. In fact, I would say, right now I'm really embodying stability. I made a conscious decision on a date a while ago to just lean into it, but I didn't just lean into that date, I leaned into my life. I stopped fighting every thing all the time. I took a break from creating problems just so that I would have something to fix. I stripped a lot of things away so that I could create a baseline from which to add things back in. I am 90% content with my life.

I feel like there must be something I'm blatantly ignoring because otherwise, why all the bad dreams?

Letting Trouble into my Bed (Part Two)

"Have you ever been hospitalized for drinking too much?" Trouble asks me.

"No, I've never been hospitalized at all, actually"

"Have you?" he asks his roommate.

It's my first time meeting his roommate, he's been antagonistic to me right from the start with such gems as "lesbians are jealous of your haircut" and "you don't belong in Astoria, move to Brooklyn" but I'm sitting on the same side of the table with Trouble, oddly ok with this situation in which he keeps seemingly choosing me over his childhood friend.

"No, some of us can hold our liquor" the roommate responds in a tone of voice that implies there is definitely a story here.

"Have you?" I try to keep my voice cool while every part of me is certain and terrified of the answer.

"Yeah, a couple of months ago. We went out to dinner and then we went to club and then I woke up in the hospital. I know I got there in an ambulance because I read the chart and it said the NYPD called an ambulance for me. I mean, I was just really drunk. I don't know, a couple of days later all my muscles were sore and maybe I fell down some stairs or something"

I don't even know what I said in response. I don't know if I said anything. I think roommate maybe told me I should move to Brooklyn again and the conversation changed.

Later in the evening, "I don't know what's going on, I just get home from work and immediately want to start drinking".

I wanted to talk to him about it, you know I wanted to talk to him about it, if you know me or have read this blog for any significant amount of time you know, but I couldn't, because his roommate was there and later we were back at his house and drunk and well, the other "you know".

It was a strange evening, the first time the majority of our conversation wasn't banter and flirtation. I'm not sure why I got to meet his roommate, if it's just because it was the first time his roommate was around when we had plans or if it was a sort of exchange for me letting him into my room. The way he distracted roommate when roommate kept heckling me and the walking back to his house without the customary "are you coming over", arms around each others waists as he assures me that I shouldn't take roommate personally felt strangely more relationship-y than dates I've been on with guys I hoped to date. He was apologetic and just enough more inebriated than me to seem vulnerable and a little adorable. Time spent in bed involved a lot more give and take than once a month FWB normally involves. Instead of being clever, we were both being silly.

Something switched. I stopped being able to pretend that all the not texting him and not being facebook friends with him and not knowing if I'll actually see him again in about four weeks matters. They're flimsy boundaries. A way to pretend I'm not being reckless.

But do you understand? Do you understand what those moments of vulnerability, those comments about alcohol abuse mean to me? Do you understand my sudden overwhelming urge to not so much date him, as fix him?

Months ago, after our first date our mutual friend asked if I had heard from him.

"No, haven't heard from him at all in a couple of weeks"

"Gah, Trouble is like that. He can kind of be an ass. He's never actually committed to a girl, I don't know what's wrong with him, but he's hurt in some way. He's always been like that"

"YOU TOLD ME TO DATE HIM"

"I thought maybe you would be the one that changed him"

"Why didn't you tell me that was the plan?! That is the worst plan. I would've known better, I probably would've still slept with him but I would not have let myself like him so much"

And yet, here we are, months later and I think I can fix him. It's me, because I'm just that caring and loving and compassionate. Because I know how to take care of people better than themselves. Because of the narcissism of codependency.

I feel like my body is being wrenched apart. My head pulling one way and my heart the other. Every bit of my screaming "NO" and at the same time "YES" because I can see it. I can see every beautiful self destructive second of it. I can see the swirling, pulling downward spiral of every action forgiven, the begging, the pleading, the problem solving. I can see myself feeling martyred and vindicated. I can see the raw emotional clash if I let him in and he let me in and the delicious damage that would ensue. I can see it all. The happiness and the tears. The lovely, lovely extremes.

I don't think he'd ever let me in, thankfully,  because I don't think I have the strength to walk away.

And sitting in Central Park after spending a few hours at MoMA with a very nice boy, thinking about Trouble being hospitalized instead of thinking about that boy, is when I realized I needed to follow through with my New Year's resolution of finding an Al Anon meeting. The exact phrase "I need to go to a meeting" ran through my head and  I almost laughed. And then I almost cried, like I'm doing now.

Because I have to admit that I am powerless.

And it has very little to do with Trouble.

Home is whenever I'm with you

2011 was the year the city that was my second home growing up became my home. I suppose technically, it was always my first home being born here and all.

It was the year I learned to stop missing my father constantly because, somehow, this place, where memories of him are everywhere, soothes and comforts me immensely. I think it's also because 2011 was the year I was forced to only live for me. I had nobody else's needs to put in front of my own and taking care of myself made me miss having somebody to take care of me less. Also, I know my father would be proud of the things I've done this year.

It's the year I learned how dependent I am on codependency, how hard it is for me to just take care of myself and live my life only for myself. I mean, deep depression, in the bell jar, crying jags, barely able to function break downs. The leg up us children of addicts get on others with depressive tendencies, is that we're extremely adept at hiding emotions and will compulsively make ourselves do things if otherwise we'd be letting others down, even if it means hiding in the bathroom and sobbing every ten minutes. So, hi, Al-anon and therapy in 2012. Let's do this.

I learned the thing that nobody tells you about adulthood is that, yes, you can eat pizza and beer for dinner whenever you want, but you'll get way more excited when you have time to cook a real meal. Also, you will become that person that obsessively makes their bed every day just so they can crawl into it and feel cocooned at night and that thinks fresh sheets are god's gift to mankind. That you will wake up some mornings and just HAVE to clean your room before you can even think about doing anything else and that you will get really excited when you have the time and energy to go to the grocery store. Maybe this only happens when you work ridiculous hours, because this week I discovered that if I only work eight hours in a day, there is just SO MUCH TIME to do everything, unlike last week when I broke down and paid to have my laundry done because it just wasn't going to happen otherwise. But I kind of think being an adult is when you wake up one day and realize you're thrilled to change your sheets.

I think adulthood might also be when you move to new places and your friends are the ones that come to visit instead of your family, presumably because your family a) knows you'll be fine and b) puts the responsibility of plane tickets on you. Also, possibly, because your family thinks you're just going through a phase and will come flying back soon. Sorry, family, here for another year and even after my lease is up, I'll probably be here. You're just going to have to come visit if you want to see me more than once a year.

On the flipside, this was the year that I started to almost understand when people don't want to impulsively move across country because "All my friends and family are here". I have met some really great people this year. But, also, it's really hard to meet new people in a new city where you're going only knowing like four people even if the city, itself, is familiar. And it's double-y hard if you work long ass hours at weird times. I feel like I'm kind of starting to collect a friend group but it's obviously not the same as being at home with people I've known 10-22 years.

Yes, Lara and I have know each other since we were three. And that's probably the hardest because Lara is basically my sister and knows to laugh at me when I go on long angry rants and buy me potato puffs when I'm sad but to not poke at me and make me tell her what's wrong unless I want to. And we're both not great about picking up the phone and calling, so I also don't ALWAYS know what's going on with her and can't try to fix things and did I mention I have a problem with codependency?

Right now, even though I know I'm going to be ready to come back to my Manhattan skyline when it's time, I cannot wait to be surrounded by people that know how to read me, that I'm not always keeping some sort of wall up when I'm around and also, that I know how to read and where I stand.

2011 was also the year that I got back into the things I love. A month didn't go buy without me practicing yoga, sitting and listening to a new album or finding a day to obsessively read for hours, even though it meant I couldn't have clean sheets. 2011 was a lot about opportunity cost.

My word for 2011 was "choices" I wanted to keep all options on the table. For 2012, I'm using "stability". I don't need all the options. I want to focus on the good choices I made and expand those into creating a life where I am not sick and tired all of the time, where I have familiarity and routine, where I really solidify my relationships and I continue to live my life on my terms instead of latching onto somebody else's. I'm excited to keep becoming me. Hopefully a better me, even.

“The shelf was filled with books that were hard to read, that could devastate and remake one's soul, and that, when they were finished, had a kick like a mule.”

Reverb prompt 3: What books did you read?

Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin

(Favorite this year, hands down, just fucking gorgeous beyond words. Also where the title quote comes from.)

“The many lights that shone through the misty summer air also seemed to be fires, and everything below her appeared to be alight. And yet the city was not strangled in its own smoke. It was alive, and she wanted to know it, even if it meant the risk of losing herself within it”

"No one ever said that you would live to see the repercussions of everything you do, or that you have guarantees, or that you are not obliged to wander in the dark, or that everything will be proved to you and neatly verified like something in science. Nothing is: at least nothing that is worthwhile."

"Small scenes can be so beautiful that they change a man forever."

"Manhattan, A high narrow kingdom as hopeful as any that ever was, burst upon him full force, a great and imperfect steel tressed palace of a hundred million chambers, many-tiered gardens, pools, passages, and ramparts above its rivers. Built upon an island from which bridges stretched to other islands and to the mainland, the palace of a thousand tall towers was undefended. It took in nearly all who wished to enter, being so much larger than anything else that it could not ever be conquered but only visited by force. Newcomers, invaders, and the inhabitants themselves were so confused by its multiplicity, variety, vanity, size, brutality, and grace, that they lost sight of what it was. It was, for sure, one simple structure, busily divided, lovely and pleasing, and extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built."

The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

(I just finished rereading this book for the first time since I was 18. Second favorite I've read this year, again, because the prose is just so stunning.)

“...the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

“And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”

“Perhaps it's true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house---the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture---must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstitutred. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.”

Garlic & Saphires, Ruth Reichl

(Obviously, love her, love her books)

"While cooking demands your entire attention, it also rewards you with endlessly sensual pleasures. The sound of water skittering across leaves of lettuce. The thump of a knife against watermelon, and the cool summer scent the fruit releases as it falls open to reveal its deep red heart. The seductive softness of chocolate beginning to melt from solid to liquid. The tug of sauce against the spoon when it thickens in the pan, and the lovely lightness of Parmesan drifting from the grater in gossamer flakes. Time slows down in the kitchen, offering up an entire universe of small satisfactions."

The Kitchen Daughter, Jael McHenry

(Food and grief, sweet and sorrowful and for anyone that finds comfort in cooking)

Just a small rip. At first it looks accidental, but everyone on a bench has a ribbon, and a tear in it. It can’t all be accident… It seems such the right expression of grief. I am sad, so in whatever small way I can, I will tear myself apart."

“I want them to bite into a cookie, and think of me, and smile. Food is love. Food has a power."

 "The rich, wet texture of melting chocolate. The way good aged goat cheese coats your tongue. The silky feel of pasta dough when it's been pressed and rested just enough. How the scent of onions changes, over an hour, from raw to mellow, sharp to sweet, and all that even without tasting. The simplest magic: how heat transforms.”

Little Bee, Chris Cleave

(heartbreaking and lovely)

“Life is extremely short and you cannot dance to current affairs.”

“I could not stop talking because now I had started my story, it wanted to be finished. We cannot choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us.”

More books I read:

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto, Joan Reardon

Highly, highly recommend. Julia Child was a pretty fantastic woman and these letters show all the work and struggle that went into changing the landscape of American cooking as well as showing the development of an amazing friendship.

A Dance with Dragons, George R. R. Martin

Obviously.

Summer Sisters, Judy Bloom

Written for adults but in the same language and style of the Judy Bloom of my childhood. Love and loss and growing older.

Wildwood, Colin Meloy

Fun young adult book from the lead singer of the Decemberists. Very much in the vein of "A Series of Unfortunate Events". I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

This is maybe another "obviously" but I didn't actually see the movie. I meant to and just didn't get around to it. It's actually a really great book. Not going to lie, I cried at times.