reflections

The reason we read stories is ultimately a selfish one. On the surface, we want to be entertained or enlightened, but deeper down, we’re looking for a mirror. We want to see our stories reflected back at us. Changed, maybe. Tweaked in some way, or reflected in reverse. Possibly we’re looking for a larger mirror–one to reflect not just our individual stories, but the story of who we are collectively, the story of where we are in place and time, a story to make sense of things.

– Chuck Wendig, Damn Fine Story

writing recap 2019: w11

This is a little short and not as self-reflective because I have to get ready to drive Adam to the airport for GDC, but I wanted to get this post up before that.

The allergy shots are causing horrific looking bruises at the injection site, which I haven’t experienced before. So that’s interesting… It has nothing to do with writing, but still.

Started a new short story this past week which I’m feeling pretty good about. It needs a round of editing and then I’ll ask for some second opinions. Finished revising a couple of flash pieces. Caught up on Writing Excuses.

All in all, a pretty good week.

kimchi jjigae

I’ve had a craving for Korean food ever since the March issue of Bon Appetit showed up on my doorstep.

bon appetit march 2019 cover

NOMS.

So over the weekend, Adam and I rounded up the ingredients to make kimchi jjigae, a stew made with Korean red chili flakes (gochugaru) and red pepper paste (gochujang), and most importantly, kimchi. From what I understand, the make-up of this stew is flexible outside of the kimchi (it’s in the name after all).

I used the recipe by Sohui Kim from Bon Appetit as a base, and added a few more vegetables. The chili pepper flakes and paste aren’t overtly spicy, despite the glorious orange-red color of the stew. I also found that the kimchi I used was salty enough that I didn’t need any additional salt.

You can follow the link to get all the details. Here are the changes I made:

  • Increased all the amounts so that I would have lots of tasty leftovers
  • Added diced daikon and some baby bok choy
  • Added baby bella mushrooms —  next time, I would use shitake, which would hold its own a little more readily against the strong flavors in the stew, but I forgot to buy some
  • Used bacon, but I would use a thicker cut of pork belly or some pork shoulder in the future
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It’s not the prettiest stew ever, but it is forking* amazing.

The result was a bowl of warming, funky deliciousness that was perfect for a rainy weekend. And a cloudy Monday. And a chilly Tuesday. And… well, you get it.

*Adam and I are finally watching the Good Place.

this is not what i want to worry about

Last night, Adam and I went to go see Captain Marvel. About thirty minutes from the end of the movie, the screen went black, the lights came on, and the emergency alert sounded. The fire alarm lights flickered and a pre-recorded robotic announcement told us to exit the theater in an orderly fashion.

And because I live in the United States, where we refuse to do anything about rampant gun violence despite everything, I didn’t try to look for or smell smoke. I didn’t try to remind myself what to do in case of fire. No.

I immediately thought, Oh fuck. What if this is an active shooter situation?

I looked around at the nearly evacuated theater and then around at the people crowded with me at the front exits, and I thought about how easy it would be for someone to come in up top and kill us.

I’ve been in places before when the fire alarm goes off or some other alert sounds. Usually, the people in the crowd joke with each other or roll their eyes or are exasperated at the inconvenience. Usually, people look around and wonder if it’s a mistake or a drill. Last night, we all got up pretty quickly after the alarm went off. As we were all leaving the theater, everyone was hushed. There was a quiet urgency as we all tried to leave, nearly pushing but not quite.

Once we were all outside in the cold night air, the tension broke a little. There was nervous laughter scattered across the parking lot, pockets of anger here and there. And all I could think about was how very fucked up it is that “active shooter” is the first place my brain went. And how fucked up it is that that’s now a normalized response.

What the fuck.

writing recap 2019: w10

I didn’t do as much work this past week as I should have. Feeling like I’m in a weird kind of slump (though did end up working on some poetry). Although, by week’s end, I’m starting to feel better. That might just be the Twitter hiatus talking.

I’ve been getting allergy shots for a little over a month now, and they just upped the dose this last round. Since then, I’ve had this vague malaise kind of feeling and I can’t tell if it’s related to that or if I’m coming down with something.

Will probably take some ibuprofen, make some kimchi jjigae, and try to ignore it.

imagination is infinite

The imagination is infinite–it can encompass all you want it to encompass, if you let it. Everything we see around us, whether functional or decorative, once existed in someone’s imagination. Every building, every fixture, every chair, every table, every vase, every road, every toaster. In fact, the world we live in is largely a manifestation of many individual and collective imaginations applied to the task of altering preexisting reality. So the question becomes, How can you position yourself to dream well?

– Jeff Vandermeer, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

writing recap 2019: w9

More of the same this week. I think I’m hitting that threshold where I have to step away for a little bit and come back with fresh eyes. So I might just take this next week to work on something new and shiny, and then finish up revisions after that. I still want to get some other eyes on the pieces before I start submitting and whatnot.

I haven’t yet figured out how to task switch in an effective way, but I’m thinking that I might generally work better if I have more than one thing going on i.e. something with production and something with revision.

when the roses speak, i pay attention

“As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground. This
is our unalterable task, and we do it
joyfully.”

And they went on. “Listen,
the heart-shackles are not, as you think,
death, illness, pain,
unrequited hope, not loneliness, but

lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,
selfishness.”

Their fragrance all the while rising
from their blind bodies, making me
spin with joy.

– Mary Oliver, “WHEN THE ROSES SPEAK, I PAY ATTENTION” from Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

a cancelled dinner party: sweet potato galettes

We have been trying to have a small get together with one of my friends and her husband for months now. It’s been hard to coordinate because her schedule is rather busy and she’s wrangling littles.

The plan, as most of our plans tend to be, was to have them over, ply them with drinks and childfree time, and have a nicely adult dinner.

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Vegetables! Textures! Being an adult!

She is vegetarian, so my usual dinner party stand-bys don’t really work. I don’t have much practice planning a vegetarian menu, but I knew that I wanted to stay away from the here-is-some-pasta-I-guess? vegetarian solution. I wanted to put together a meal that was still simple, but didn’t rely too much on bread/pasta/rice to act as filler.

Enter, my Ottolenghi cookbook. (And also the Serious Eats website, as per usual, for ease of referencing in the kitchen.) Between it and it’s predecessor Plenty, both by Yotam Ottolenghi, there are plenty (heh) of tasty and beautiful vegetarian recipes.

We settled on a date — it was supposed to be this past weekend — but at the last moment, childcare plans fell through and they had to reschedule.

At that point, I had already gathered ingredients for Ottolenghi’s sweet potato galettes, as seen on the cookbook cover. I could have abandoned the cooking plans altogether, but why waste the opportunity to try a new recipe and go meat-free for the weekend in the process?

It turned out, as has everything else I’ve made from these cookbooks, delicious.

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Sweet potato galettes.

I’m already thinking about possible future riffs:
– Purple potatoes, chili powder, cotija + parsley cilantro oil
– Beets, pistachios, goat cheese (plus figs if additional sweetness desired)
– Carrots, garam masala, spicy pecans
– Turnips and apples, parmesan, maybe some bacon + tarragon in the oil

But if you want to try to original, here’s the recipe.

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