unexpected car expense

I took my car in for an inspection yesterday, and got a call this morning that there is a part that needs to be replaced. (He told me the part, of course, but I promptly forgot it because my brain is a sieve when it comes to car stuff.) Unexpected, but also not. My car is something like ten years old. That it hasn’t needed more maintenance up to this point is a minor miracle, really. Especially since it handles the bulk of our road trips to various parental units.

But when someone says to you “It’s not technically a safety issue because it’s not completely broken yet” and it’s about a car part that seems important for general car-ing…

croissant, the first

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I made croissants for the first time this weekend! They ended up being underproofed, womp womp. But the good thing about baking trial and error is that your errors are often still pretty tasty, and these were no exception. You can’t go too wrong with butter and dough.

The recipe I used this go around came from The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer and Martha Rose Shulman. It was a pretty straightforward, two-day affair. I found croissants intimidating before because they seemed involved, but there isn’t too much active time. Most of the time was resting and chilling.

This was also my first attempt at laminated dough, and it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. I should have let the dough warm up just slightly before rolling and cutting and shaping, because the butter was a bit too cold and cracked during that final stage. And my folds weren’t as neat as they could have been.

I’m prepping for another attempt this upcoming weekend. This time, I’m using Dominique Ansel’s recipe from Masterclass (if you’re curious, here’s a referral link). This one requires prepping a levain, so I started that process as well. I’d never made a fermented starter of any kind before, so that in of itself has been fascinating.

I can feel the mild obsession creeping in. A flurry of baking approaches.

read it: this is how you lose the time war

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I read This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone in slow bites and didn’t want it to end. This book broke my heart in the best way possible, and then put the pieces back together again.

It is a story about two assassins, Red and Blue, from different factions waging war across worlds and through time. Red and Blue communicate through letters that they leave each other in moments in time. Rivalry and enmity turn into fascination and eventually an impossible love.

What a beautiful, beautiful book. I feel exactly the way the best books should make you feel: delicate, raw, full.

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Made vegetable tarts the other night, mostly to use a summer squash that had been languishing in the fridge for nearly two weeks. It wasn’t on purpose, but they ended up being in the Butterscotch Shenanigans colors of purple and gold.

Made up of summer squash, purple potatoes, caramelized onions, pesto (with almonds instead of pine nuts because I didn’t have pine nuts on hand), and brie on puff pastry. Sprinkled with some tarragon.

bscotch shenani tarts

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Hot weather means afternoon cocktails. This one was made with mezcal + kombucha + mint simple syrup. Garnished with mint, a grapefruit twist, and a tiny bit of salt.

We were trying out interesting kombucha flavors, and had half a bottle of GT’s summer edition Unity kombucha, which has flavors of cherry, coconut, and lemongrass. Mezcal was a joven mezcal from Creyente.

mezcal+kombucha

escape pod!

It is internet official now, which means I can announce it — I am one of the new associate editors for the Hugo-nominated science fiction podcast magazine Escape Pod!

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LOOK AT HOW OFFICIAL IT IS

I’M SO FLIPPING EXCITED, YOUDON’TEVENKNOW. (Apologies to Shiv and Phoebe for drawing over their bios a little.)

Excuse me while I go squeal some more in the corner.

two years-ish, and an update

I didn’t make it out of the semifinals for the Podcastle flash fiction contest, and I got waitlisted for Viable Paradise.

I was a reasonable level of bummed, but honestly, that feeling was outweighed by burgeoning feelings of… momentum? possibility? improvement? And maybe, even, dare I say, pride? Making it to the semis is nothing to sniff at, and I’m in excellent, talented company on the VP waitlist. (They tell me that many of the submissions relegated to either of those categories are publishable. Whether I can find a place to publish my submissions is another matter entirely.)

In the face of these (I hesitate to call them failures because they don’t feel like that, though ostensibly, that’s what they are. Let’s go with rejections. That seems more accurate, and it’s good for me to make that distinction for myself.), I keep reminding myself, it has only been about 1.5 years since I started writing seriously, with the aim of improvement and (hopefully) eventual publication. I can see how much better I am now compared to when I began. I’m starting to write things I actually like, things that I believe in. It’s a good and delicate feeling. In MRK parlance, I’m leveling up.


And on the heels of that thought is the reminder that it has been two years since I left medicine.

Last year, this point in time passed without much acknowledgement on my part. At least not out loud. I noted the timeline, of course — I wonder how long it’ll take until July no longer reminds me of radical change. When the heavy heat of summer is no longer associated with the lifting of weight. But I let the month slip by without talking about it last year because I felt like I had talked about it enough.

And honestly, there were still nights when I would startle awake thinking my pager had gone off. There were still mornings when I would wake up and wonder if I had dreamed the whole thing. It still felt new and fragile and a little unreal.

There are days that still feel like that, but they’re far and fewer now. In the weird stutter-skip slippage of time, it feels like a lifetime ago. (Except, of course, for the occasional moments when it feels like it was yesterday.)

I still don’t feel any regret about my decision to leave medicine. I don’t think I will. Even though whenever I think about it (which is, again, far and few now), I do so carefully, gingerly, tenderly, on the look out for any points of pain.

And I suppose there are echoes of pain. Fracture lines that haven’t set quite properly. The anger is fading, though there is still some bitterness. But not about the leaving. More so about the staying for so much longer than I should have. One day, I think (and I hope), I’ll be able to forgive myself for that.

podcastle flash fiction contest

I’m a semifinalist in the Podcastle Flash Fiction Contest!

There was some stiff competition, and I’m excited that I made it through. The next rounds are going to be tough — there are some awesome stories in this contest!

If you want to vote, I think you can do so in the semifinals and finals without having voted in the first round. It takes place in the Escape Artist forums, so you’d need an account (and a first comment) to participate. All the stories are anonymized and the writers revealed only after the rounds are over. The semifinals start tomorrow!