Saturday, August 25, 2012

Calendar Entries and Another Souffle

First things first:

I'm a big fan of Gordon Ramsay. I like his unrefined but tenderhearted persona on cooking shows, and he has some killer recipes online that I always read and think about making later as I heat up my Lean Cuisine or throw together a PB&J.

My husband and I were going to go to the country this weekend because work has been ridiculously stressful, and we both need to get away and do something free and nature-filled; but our trip was postponed. So, seeing as how I'm a self-proclaimed chocolate souffle master (I have made one, and it was OK), the culinary goal this weekend is to attempt a savory souffle.

And, who better to guide me than Gordon? Here's the link to the recipe I'm working from: BBC Good Food; It's a classic cheese souffle, but I'll be modifying it by adding spinach and omitting the Worcestershire sauce (gag - sorry, Gordon). We'll see how this goes.

In writing news:

1. I'll be at the KGB Bar, reading with the amazing Joani Reese, Roberto Carlos Garcia, Stephanie Dickinson, and the even will be emceed by the incomparable Susan Tepper. This will be going down at 7PM on 9/21. If you're in New York, come!!!!

2. After getting my new story (one of my favs, and again, please read because I really love this piece) "Getting There" published in PANK, I thought, hm, PANK has always been one of my favorites to read and I miss working for Our Stories as a reader and editor, maybe they could use an extra pair of eyes. Well, I asked the one and only Roxane Gay, and she answered. I am the newest (or close to it, if not) reader for PANK magazine. I've read 12 stories for the magazine so far, and I feel at home doing it.

3. Melissa Studdard, author of Six Weeks to Yehidah and English professor at Lone Star Colleges in Houston has contacted me to say that she is teaching To Begin Again in her two of her classes this quarter. So, I'm working on a way to get to Houston and visit these classes. I am so thrilled as I haven't really had the time to push this book the way I'd like to. Thank you, Melissa!

4. I got rejected a few days ago, by Black Clock (rather, my story did; a magazine is yet to reject me personally). It was awesome because it was one of those rejections that starts like an acceptance and gets you excited because it's one of your favorite magazines and you're in disbelief and the first stages of self-aggrandizing intoxication at the thought of seeing your name in its pages, then comes the "but..."
Oh well. It was one of those encouraging rejections, and because I haven't been submitting much, I forgot how motivating an encouraging rejection could be (only writers with this madness, right?!). Hey, and seeing as how I'm reading and recommending/not recommending pieces again, rejection will keep me empathetic and patient.

5. I'm going to write this weekend. Then read, then write some more and make a souffle.

Off to it... Have a beautiful weekend! If you live near me, don't forget to put on your mosquito repellent.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Getting There

Early this morning, I got notice that my new short story "Getting There" is now appearing at PANK. (I can't think of a better way for a writer to start her birthday!)

This is one of my favorites. Oh, and I tried my best at reading this bad boy, so if you prefer, you can listen. Full link:

Thank you to everyone who has sent me warm wishes. Mad love to you all. This day has been wonderful. In fact, I'm feeling downright sappy about all I have to thankful for this year. I made it to 33! Go figure.

Back to family, back to the birthday stuff...

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I'll post an update about writing and appearances soon. I actually have some pretty big news, but today I feel like talking about my incessant bitchiness over the last few days.

My energy has been low the last few weeks, so I've decided to adjust my diet to see if it helps. I'm reducing sugar (Stevia is taking some getting used to, let me tell you), caffeine, and  milk because they don't seem to work well for my body anymore. Also, I'm drinking apple cider vinegar--which tastes like sweat and whey and apples altogether while smelling almost exactly like asparagus pee--to balance out my pH levels. I'm even beginning to take vitamins again.

Here's the thing: this transition is putting me in a seriously bad mood. Poor husband, poor friends, poor dog, poor baristas, poor co-workers... I realize this will only last a few days, but in the meantime, I've been searching for ways to cope. One way is looking for ridiculously cute animal pictures online. This makes me smile between snarls. I've also found that writing something creative helps though I'm a little stuck right now (more on this later). Cooking works okay, as does exercising, but these fixes are temporary. I run two miles, and feel great, then I return and find a wrapper next to the trash or a piece of dirty clothing tossed, not in the hamper, but right next to it--stuff I ordinarily would laugh off and tease my husband about--and I lose my shit. Lucky for me, I have an awesome husband who responds by laughing me off and telling me to go look at a picture of a cute puppy, or a bunny that looks like it's clapping.

Yeah, well... It works. Seriously. The Cute Overload site is pretty hard to visit without smiling. And, yes, I've been there often these last three days.

So why the detox? Mid-life crisis? Bad writing week? Too many micheladas? Yeah, maybe all that.

I'm turning thirty-three on August 16th, and it's unreal. I'm not concerned about getting older as much as I'm concerned that I'm losing tolerance to some of my bad habits (happy hours lasting longer than an hour; 5 sugars in a coffee... yeah... I knew that would have to stop eventually; not stretching before a workout: see joint injuries that have plagued me the last year from trying to go too far in yoga). It sucks feeling a little more fragile, a little less resilient than I was, physically, in my twenties. But, I have to say, I'm not freaking out about getting older so much as I'm awkwardly trying to modify my lifestyle. Emphasis on the awkwardly.

Along with my puppy photos, I will say that I find consolation regarding my age in the equilibrium I've found as an adult. Mentally, I'm good. Better than good (this is assuming my sugar-deprived bitchiness will soon subside), and every year I feel a little more comfortable in my own skin. This is a thing that didn't come easily to me, not even as a child, and I'm so grateful for the ability to self-accept and move forward.

This last year went by, and I'm reminded that time alone is enough to shake me up. It's sneaky, the way it moves around and through us; so, of course, I'm writing a short story that examines this idea. Let me tell you, it's a tough topic to examine through fiction, but I'll get somewhere eventually.... Well, we'll see...  

Have a beautiful week, everyone; hopefully by next weekend I'll be less reliant on my cute animal pictures (but it really works, I'm telling you, keep this information in your back pocket), I'll have figured this story out, and my newly thirty-three year old body will be a little less reliant on sugar. Here's to hoping.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I blame the Olympics for this

While at home lately, my husband and I have been watching the Olympics non-stop. The games have inspired me to want to get in my best shape, so I've been running a little faster, pushing myself a little more. Paradoxically, I also think the Olympics has led me to my current challenge. You see, when volleyball came on the other day (sorry to the volleyball fans), I changed the channel to Food Network. There was a soufflé bake-off on, and I became inspired.

Let me just say, I don't bake. Ever. But the Olympic games have me thinking anything is possible. So, right now, I'm making a goat cheese and chocolate souffle. I bought ramekins which, of course, I didn't own because I don't bake, and I tracked down this awesome recipe from The Colors of Indian Cooking.

The reason I don't ordinarily bake is because I don't tend to be patient enough to follow directions as meticulously as a beginning baker must. I can't help but want to adjust this or that because I think it will be better, and in doing so, I throw off the delicate food chemistry that makes so many amazing desserts possible.

Today, the goal was to follow the recipe exactly, and as of now, I think there is hope for my little delicacies.

Thus far, I've only made two major mistakes that almost ruined this journey, and these are the mistakes I will blame if these don't work. 1.) I didn't soften the goat cheese, which made the whisking incredibly tough. 2.) I don't have a working mixer, which means I have to do all the "whipping" by hand. But, I am not deterred.

Twenty-five minutes later...

So, how was it? Well, if I were to grade my first attempt at a soufflé, I'd say it was a B-. The consistency was good, and these bad boys rose!!! What's more: they taste like chocolate and goat cheese souffle. I'm missing points on the texture because there wasn't that nice shell to poke my fork through on top, and this is the fun part. Either way, I suggest the recipe. It was fun. My husband is covered in cocoa powder and I think I might have egg in my hair (I really recommend using a mixer), but we just devoured some seriously good dessert. And speaking of patience, I probably should have waited until after dinner.

Observations: Dublin Vacation

Dublin seemed the obvious destination. We would be close to various restaurants and tourist attractions. It would be easy to call a cab or...