Writer, editor, teacher, other.

My poem “On Hunger” is live today at Nashville Review. It’s about my brother. As with many of my pieces, it’s also about food.

I think appetite matters. I kind of believe the whole “tell me how you eat & I’ll tell you who you are” thing, though I admit it’s not always completely accurate, and I’m not sure I want to look too closely at my own life through that lens.

I’ve been on the road for five of the last six weeks. I’ve eaten one of the best meals of my life with some of the dearest people in my life. I’ve eaten a lot of fast food. I’ve eaten a lot of candy. During our one week at home, my husband & I ate 2 pounds of blueberries in 36 hours.

I’ve chopped vegetables with boys I love—-not really boys any longer, but people I’ve known so long that I still think of them that way. I’ve cooked with a lot of people this year, actually, and I’ve gotten a lot of recipes. I watched my friend B make chili, and think I can recreate it (sort of) at home. I got a yummy and easy rice recipe from friends in Alabama after the tornado. I was treated to a New Mexico feast by my friend Farren, and that dish—calabacitas—has become one of my favorites. I start with the basics Farren taught me—squash & zucchini, corn tortillas, chiles, cheese—and then add whatever’s on hand. Last week, we stumbled on a pretty stellar addition of toasted walnuts & nutmeg. This dish will be in our regular rotation for a long time.

I recognize that there are many problems with approaching food emotionally. But I can’t escape it. For me, it’s there. And when I cook things I’ve shared with or learned from people I love, it makes me happy. It’s not quite the same as them being there with me, but it’s a good substitute.

So here’s my new favorite, learned this past weekend at the beach from Dave, one of the beloved boys I chopped vegetables with: find a recipe for rice krispy treats, only instead of rice krispys, use oreos. Divine. Dave, Stowe, Colin, & I finished the last of the batch late Friday night, after coming in from a beach walk on which we’d seen a nest of sea turtles hatch. From now on, whenever I make this dessert, I’ll think of that night—-of being with a family you’ve loved & been loved by for years, of birth and renewal, of joy, and—because I was thinking of him as I watched those tiny fledgling turtles race, against all odds, to the surf—I’ll think of my brother, too, and how we carry the people we love.

It sounds simple: oreos, butter, marshmallows. But what it says to me is love.

For the record, last night I went grocery shopping & bought 8 different kinds of fruit. This morning’s breakfast was raspberries & coffee with skim milk. As I type this, I’m still nursing my coffee. I’m also eating red grapes. Soon I’ll move onto cherries, then blueberries, and that’s how the day will go—a flash of fresh color, a little taste of something sweet.

I hope your day holds the same. Love big. Eat what’s delicious. Be well.

(xo)

My review of what I refer to as the Zenyatta phenomenon is up today at 300 Reviews. It’s nice to see its publication right on the heels of Derby weekend. 

The Kentucky Derby’s a thing in my house. My husband always buys me roses. We always watch the race together. I normally yell loudly at the tv. My horse normally runs somewhere around eighth. 

This year, though, I had a completely different experience. I watched it from Tuscaloosa, my hometown and the place I’d spent the previous week trying to do what I could to help people I love deal with the devastating tornadoes that swept through town. My husband was states away. This year, I was the one buying flowers—I kept bringing them into the house where my sweet friends Brian & Barry live, the house where I helped cook so people could congregate after volunteering or dealing with their own displacement and damages from the storm.

The flowers were frivolous, particularly given the fact that many of my friends spent their days helping people—sometimes attempting to recover belongings from the rubble of their homes, other times, helping them pick out a starter’s supply of new possessions at one of the emergency relief groups working in Tuscaloosa. You might argue that it wasn’t a time for flowers. But I believed it was precisely such a time, believed that we needed to be reminded that some ephemeral things are quite beautiful. I believed that while we confronted all the bad things nature can hold and enact, we also needed to be reminded that it is often very lovely, that we needed to acknowledge that things are not all bad or all good, that life is much too complex and interconnected to be so black & white.

And in many ways, that’s what this review is about—why we should care about things that appear to be completely outside of our own experiences and concerns. 

I should add that I’m not sure anyone who passed through that house over the ten days I was there gave any thought to those flowers, or, if they did, that they thought anything close to what I was thinking about them. And I’m okay with that.

(Also, my horse this year was Shackelford. He ran fourth.)

(Also, in case you’ve missed my previous post, you should check out the stunning TUSCALOOSA RUNS THIS, the book my friend Brian Oliu put together in support of tornado relief efforts. It’s worth your time.)