So What Am I?

I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?

We used to chant this to each other at primary school, whenever someone called us a rude name.

You’re stupid!

I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?

A stupid dick!

I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?

Shut up, you’re a mean, stupid dick!

I know you are, you said you are, so what am I?

Our child-size lizard brains exploded with frustration at answering a direct question, only to have it turned back on us over and over again. We fumed. Smoke billowed out of our ears; we danced on the spot with rage. We didn’t know about logical fallacies. We thought if we could just come up with the ultimate insult, we could smote our opponent. They would be felled by the devastating completeness of their new epithet. But it was always served back.

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Abandonment and Annihilation

A little less than a year ago I ditched my book. I’d been writing it for almost three years at that point and had revised at least 4 times, re-mapped the storyline, gotten rid of an entire main character.

And then I felt overwhelmed. I decided that I had zero business writing a novel and needed to work on my actual skills before I jumped off that cliff. The plan was that I would write and revise a collection of short stories and try to submit them for publication.

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Woman Walk the Line: A Book About Creative Women for Creative Women

“Music, like water, often moves and shapes us without ever realizing it; let this be an opening for your own consideration.”
—Holly Gleason, from Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives.

Writers find inspiration everywhere, and music is no exception. In Woman Walk the Line, the impressive cast of twenty-seven women writers, artists, musicians, and music executives consider deeply the ways in which their country music heroines have shaped their own lives.

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Origin Story

I’m not into superheroes, but I do enjoy a good origin story. I like to know where people come from, how they ended up where they are, and what led them to their areas of interest—professional and personal. And if you’re a writer, I especially want to know how you got started. Were you one of those kids who kept a daily journal starting in second grade, never missing an entry? Or was it encouragement from a beloved middle school English teacher? Did you have the support of parents? Or was writing almost an illicit activity, something you hid from friends and family?

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Alchemy In Spring

I’ve been cold for months. The older I get the longer the cold takes to seep out of my bones. It kind of sits there, at my deepest marrow-level and crouches until spring. The green air warms me and the sun penetrates everything until the smells and the chartreuse of spring are there, just as the cold was.

We’re in the brown time now. Everything is crackling and stark, wood scratches on bare wood branches. The sky gets bright but the way the sun hits you is alarming. It blinds and makes you squint as you see your breath in the air in front of your face.

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Order to Chaos—A Tiny Rant About Why Cooks (and Writers) Mmmmmmmight Be Crazy

This piece was previously published on shakeyourcookie.com, my weird blog, on 1/9/2018 with the title “Order to Chaos—A Tiny Rant About Why Cooks Mmmmmmmight Be Crazy.” I got super bored with it being a food blog so, I started to tell stories about life and cooking and other stuff so that I would start posting again and so it would be fun to write. It’s so much more fun.

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*Disclaimer: not all cooks are crazy. that’s not true. all cooks are batshit*

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that most professional cooks are a fairly broken bunch of folks.
One could even say “mentally ill” if one was to forgo diplomacy. Having worked in kitchens for many years and living with myself for even more, I cannot debate this theory. I am, however, going to try to defend it. Or, at least myself.

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Where do you draw the line? An experiment with “found” writing

Due to a recent tweak in my insomniac four-year-old’s bedtime routine, I now spend hours each night sitting outside her room waiting for her to fall asleep while answering the questions that run through her head while she winds down: “Mum, what’s a fawn?” “How do you spell poison?”

It’s painful, but at least it affords me some reading time, and as a consequence I’m churning through the books at the moment. One of the latest is The Beat of the Pendulum by Catherine Chidgey.

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Writing Places

Places have always riveted me. As a young girl, I would ride with my Dad in the car on our frequent trips from San Antonio to Taylor, a small town north of Austin, to celebrate Christmas Eve with family. I would read the mile marker signs and call out the names of towns we passed through.

I took my first trip out of the country (if we’re not counting childhood road trips to border towns in Mexico) when I was 20. It was a study abroad trip in Costa Rica, a country I explored for six weeks one summer. I traveled with a group of students, and we all met for the first time at the Houston airport. The company that arranged our travel had assigned us host families, and two of us stayed with each family. My roommate, the woman who shared a wing of the house I stayed in, had a bit more international travel under her belt. She taught me the difference between travelers and tourists, and turned me on to the Lonely Planet series of guidebooks.

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Connecting + Writing = A Happier, Healthier Brain

Recently I watched an eight-part docu-series about the brain from Dr. Mark Hyman who, among other things, is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. It was filled with words like mitochondria, neurotoxins, and glutathione. Each episode would expire after a short period of time so I watched them intensely over the course of the week.

Of all the things I heard, there were a few stand out concepts that made a big impact on me. In discussing exercise, one of the doctors used CrossFit as as an example but not only due to the activity but also because this group in particular supports each other within that culture—it’s a sense of community. Her research suggests that being cared for could cause the brain to release chemicals that inevitably lends itself to healing (biological changes in the body) and happiness.

Since hearing this I felt compelled to reach out to a few old friends that I love but let the business of life grow distance between us. Because why not—I want a brain that’s full of happy pathways free of plaque. I didn’t expect the outcome of relieving a bit of my self imposed isolation, nor did I see that this would make for a more powerful writing experience.

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