I’m back in Vermont for residency, staying at an adorable bed and breakfast close to campus. I’ve never stayed at a bed and breakfast before, and I feel pleased that my first time is now and here, paid for with my own dwindling savings, made possible by my own desperately underused agency and will. It’s going to be a week of rest, of writing, of thinking, of quiet, of planning, of talking, of songbirds, of sunlight and rain, and of breakfast every day that I don’t have to make.

I’m popping into say that this blog is going on hiatus for the summer. One thing I love about this space is the freedom to write as I wish, without the scrutiny or desires of advisors or critique partners. It’s been a struggle to keep up with lately, though. There have been so many things I’ve wanted to say that I haven’t known how to put into words, or haven’t had the courage to try. This space has started to feel somewhat inauthentic, and I never want my writing to be a reflection of my inauthenticity.

It was my birthday on Friday, and a friend I don’t talk to often sent me a list of very lovely birthday wishes. Among them, she hoped I would have “an omnipresent reminder that you are you and you are doing just fine in this life and you are a wonderful person.” I mention that she and I don’t talk much simply to say that I am always shocked when unlikely people have the knack for telling me what I am longing to hear. I’m going to use this hiatus to try to get to that place of omnipresence, to know in my bones that I am doing just fine, that I am doing the best I can and being as good as I can to my loved ones and to the world.

Thank you for reading and for sticking by me this past rollercoaster year. I’ll be back in a few months with stories to tell.

For the Summer Solstice, I thought I’d pay homage to a little patch of green outside the back entrance to my apartment. I’ve dreamed of having green space ever since I moved into my first solo apartment seven years ago. Two apartments later, I finally have somewhat of a “backyard”, a large fenced-in sprawl of grass and winding sidewalks leading to separate dwellings. It’s one of the reasons I picked this apartment, (the other reason being, mainly, I have no time to make a choice and this is good enough).

This spring, I’ve settled into making this space a place I want to be. In past years, in order to get enough time outside in the warmer months, I’d go to a coffee shop with a patio and stay as long as I felt it was acceptable before I should either leave or order another drink. Or I’d sit on my front stoop and brush Kiva for an hour. Or I’d walk. But I longed for a place to sit and read and write and eat and drink my coffee for as long as I pleased, without worrying over capitalist or social pressures. I’ve borrowed a swing and an outdoor table from my parents, and planted some tomatoes, basil, and marjoram in pots beside them. I’m not confident I will get tomatoes, but I love the smell of their leaves and their fuzzy stems and remembering my parents’ tomato-filled garden from years past. I like to wander out my back door and pick basil and marjoram for salad or scrambled eggs. Or clip lemon verbena from its pot on the windowsill for tea. It’s such a small thing. Yet it’s big because it is one thing in my life that is truly mine.

Usually during the day, when the sun is high and relentless, I sit on the swing while Kiva runs around taking care of dog business: sniffing everything to make sure it’s where it should be, eating grass, peeing on stuff. I’ve gotten more sunburns than I care to admit in those quiet minutes. It’s peaceful. It’s luxurious. I am so grateful to have it.

Tell me what you’ve planted this season, what you’re hoping to grow, what you’re planning to do? How will you celebrate this summer?

I am haunted by something I read, by a thing a white person said,
“I refuse to be abused because of the color of my skin.”
… um …
That’s nice white person but what if you had no choice?
What if the system said your skin was so abhorrent that you couldn’t get a job and you couldn’t live in a safe house and your babies would go hungry and no white person had your back, really had your back, so you were just fucked all the ways but especially sideways and constantly, and no matter how hard you work and how much you bleed and how much you want it the system says no justice because the system is afraid of you
the system says you don’t matter because the system is afraid of you
the system cakes your wounds with salt
and no white middle class person does a damn thing that would actually matter
because what’s happening to you doesn’t directly affect them
and they’re safe in their own work-family-love-success-buying-things so who cares what’s going on in the streets
white people, we are complicit
we are all complicit
and these words that I’m writing will do nothing to change that
I am haunted by what you said
and how
I still
do nothing.

I am picking up my first CSA delivery tomorrow. I got an email yesterday, saying that the boxes would be labeled with our names and that we would need to check off our names on a clipboard. The delivery is to a house, so there didn’t seem to be a guarantee that there would be anyone around to assist me. (the delivery hours are 2 to 9, so that’s a pretty big unknown window.)
I emailed back to see if there was any accommodation we could make with my box so I could find it. They got back to me right away, cheerfully said they would put a ribbon on the box, set it at the front of the stack, and could let me know when the driver dropped off the delivery so I could come meet him and get my box directly from him. As for the checking my name off, don’t worry about it.
No freaking out. No flailing. No “we don’t know how to deal with this.” No “you should have let us know sooner.”
In case anyone was wondering, this is how it should always, always be done. Treat people with mindfulness, dignity, and be willing to change your procedures and perspective. Change is good.
I know this is such a little thing, but I’ve been smiling about it for an hour. Think how happy I’d be if this were my life every day!

One of my biggest struggles is with loneliness. Lacking a traditional job or traditional responsibilities, I don’t have that automatic, built-in structure that moves much of society along day by day. Stereotypically, “creative” types rail against structure, but I am finding, after months of unemployment and a very independent study grad program, that I crave it. Which means that any structure I want in my life must come from me. I must create it. Looked at one way, it’s extremely freeing to have so much seeming control over how structured you want your life to be. And, if I wasn’t constantly worrying about having enough money to live, I might enjoy it more. On the other side, providing structure is exhausting. It means I have to be constantly vigilant about making sure I have enough to do in my days so that I don’t melt into a teary puddle because I haven’t truly interacted with another human for a week. It means to maintain active friendships, I have to schedule hang-out time because people with a lot more going on have a tendency to forget about time with friends, in lieu of work, relationships, kids, etc. It means I spend a lot of time worrying I am being pushy or needy or annoying.

This preamble is all to say: welcome to the blog post where I try to excuse how completely I’ve dropped the ball on writing food posts this year.

Remember when I said this year was going to be my big kitchen year? I was going to get organized, to write about food, to post pics about food, to tell food stories. It was, in a way, my distraction strategy for the current landscape of political turmoil and social inequity. I was going to make tons of jam and pickles, maybe get a good sourdough bread recipe under my belt, tackle the chaos of my spice drawer, and share it all with you. I swear I was.

As you can tell, I’ve barely written about food at all since that post. Suddenly, in the last few months, my cooking has slowed and simplified. I’ve traveled to Seattle twice, visited my parents, and spent some time living with my friend Kyla in her community house. All chances to cook in others’ kitchens. I’ve started the tentative build of a once-a-month cookbook potluck. I’ve invited friends to dinner and breakfast and I’ve been fed in my friends’ cozy homes. What was about food is now about gathering. Food is the excuse: to connect, to ask for and receive care, to invite in and care for another.

The last few months, I’ve collaborated on less-than-stellar soup; eaten frozen pierogis and pickle chips on a friend’s couch with her cat hungry-hovering at my elbow; made and botched two batches of ice cream while listening to old school Mannheim Steamroller with a friend with whom I’ve recently reconnected. It hasn’t been pretty or glamorous or picture worthy. But it has begun chipping away at the sadness in my soul, and it has given me another structural element to build my days upon.

Thank you, to my friends, for feeding me. In all the ways that count. And know my kitchen is always open, any time.

A little context about this poem: In 2014, I began doing pole dancing as a form of physical self-expression and exercise. I poled for about a year, then lapsed when I moved to Seattle. I’ve recently been able to pick it up again in the past month, and have had an incredible time reacquainting myself with it. This poem celebrates that.

Poem for my Body

Oh hello, there you are
we haven’t talked in a few years, and it’s my fault, I know.
Finances, pain, lack of motivation, exhaustion
all reasons I said I couldn’t get in touch with you then
until, finally, I had to.
Because I knew I wouldn’t be ok
until I felt
the strain of all your engaging muscles
the curve of your sturdy spine, pressing, leaning in
the thrust and clutch of your bent knees, giving me so much
holding me up.
I can’t believe you still love me, for all I put you through.
The days of endless sitting,
the way I ate chocolate and cheese to stop myself from feeling,
how I neglected your desperate need for sleep.
I can’t believe
you still welcome me back
shoulders steady, pointed toes, hands reaching towards the sky.
You spin, you slide,
you bend to my will
and break my stubborn mind.
Thank you for being strong
thank you for being mine.
You’ve shown me clarity again.
And when I’m climbing and the music beats within me
scaling towards the top of the world,
pumping blood and electric nerves
I feel a shaking, tremulous high
like a kite set free for the sun.

Cold feet in May, double-socked, toes still stiff
warm cheeks because of something you said to me,
blood still flowing
somewhere, at least
I smell cut grass, taste the chill of night descending
What season am I in?
What life is this?
I want someone to comfort me, to tell me I’m doing right
or just to tell me to do something, and what that something should be.
I can’t take this change alone, this hurtling towards some wild what.
The world isn’t stopping so I’m holding as best I can,
holding my very best
Earlier today I sat in a dim-lit room and listened to nothing but everyone breathe
and that was everything, everything!