Week 21: Make yourself yours

Living in the gap

Escape to the kitchen

It’s been awhile since I shared any recipes. Here are some recent hits from over here in case you need a weekend project:

  • For the meat eating, pressure cooker/slow cooker crowd: this chili, minus the quinoa and with only have the tomato paste, because that’s what we had; this pork (with tortillas, radishes, pickled onions, avocado, salsa)

  • For bakers in search of a project: these scones, this carrot graham cake

  • For a handy vegetarian last-minute thing to have in the freezer that made me go, “huh” in a good way: cauliflower walnut taco filling

This list makes me want to plan a week soon that is vegan, or at least veggie, and ultra-simple. Any recent faves to suggest?

The gap

There are words curled up inside me. I can feel them waking up like blinking jungle cats after a slumber. Links are forming chains, the cats are stretching their paws, ideas are coming into their own, but week after week, they duck back into the dark. I (still) can’t quite release them tonight.

Maybe it’s The Gap that Ira Glass talks about. I’m consuming and consuming words all the time — long essays, painful hot takes, excellent podcasts, and when conditions are right, good books. My taste is better than my output. If I ever want to get better, I have to get more comfortable releasing the scruffy kittens.

Maybe it’s that the more I write, the more 70%-finished pieces I start on my laptop or my phone, in coffeeshops or in the dark at night, the closer I get to sharing the really real stuff, the things that could get me in trouble.

Today in her newsletter Jean Hannah Edelstein wrote:

Is it internalized misogyny that makes me think that now my full-time life is Mother, at least for now, I no longer have anything interesting to write to you? Probably! For surely we all believe to some extent that once women become mothers, their selves are subsumed. No longer interesting now she's a mother seems like a thing that people think, an opinion that people don't challenge.

It's true that after the drama and affront of delivery, my existence as a mom is exquisite and mundane. But I still find it interesting. In the last month I have spent so many hours staring into the baby’s semi-focused eyes, but I wouldn’t expect anyone else, bedsides his father, to do that staring. To us, it's just fascinating. He’s fascinating. I suppose that's the way it should be.

And then there’s the question of where he ends, and where I begin. In pregnancy it felt less questionable — he was forming his own body, but a part of mine. But now that he’s a distinct other person, albeit a very dependent one, I’m not sure where to draw the line as a writer who writes about myself. What’s my narrative, what’s his, where does my advantage in being literate and more sentient becomes unfair? What are the things that happen to me because of him, and what are the things that happen to him that are not, at heart, my business? What’s ours, and what’s not mine to share?

It’s intimidating. It’s good to not feel alone.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that the title of this project is Move and Groove. Right now, the moves include: slushing through cold puddles. Typing. Running up and down the stairs at the coworking space to answer the doorbell when it rings. Bending all the time: to lift the toddler, to clean the floor under her high chair, to retrieve pacifiers. Doing what I can to support family and friends going through crises.

Lately, I find a groove when I plan ahead right, leave enough time, and cook something good (see above). When I dive deep into a communications audit for a client, unleashing the nitpicky Virgo within, sizing up competitors’ social media tactics, researching industry benchmarks, creating a list of obviously brilliant recommendations I won’t ultimately be the one to weigh and execute. And when I recognize an idea that pops into my head as just that: just an idea, one of many I may have today, one I can act on or not. (Credit to both Mary H.K. Choi, who talks here about being gentle with her future self by not acting on all her genius schemes; and Tara Mohr for her post about having “too many ideas.”)

“Everytime I speak out about something, I feel released, and I feel more in my body.”

Padma Lakshmi said in this Vulture profile. A meditation for the coming week, perhaps? We have to liberate our attention, says adrienne maree brown (at Truthout last year; also on Call Your Girlfriend this month). We have to choose our battles. We have to be mindful that the internet is forever and that when we are specific and honest and vulnerable, we can get in trouble.

But we also live in times that demand we show up, including with our words and stories.

Tabs to open

Photos: K+S balcony 2014; a page from The Artist’s Way; “Let’s Be Careful of the Present That We Create,” artist unknown (to me and I regret this!), spotted at Christiania, Copenhagen 2012

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