adventures in cooking

I have never been encouraged to cook by my family, only berated for not knowing how (and I was not going to ask to be taught by those who were verbally hurtful). While I know how to make pasta (but not sauce or meatballs), tacos, eggs, banana bread, and a few other extremely basic, “bland” foods, I am no Barefoot Contessa. My only claim to fame so far, homemade mac and cheese, has been slammed for being “cold in the middle,” no matter how long I heated it. I got an A+ from my brothers though! Anyway the bottom line is that I never felt confident enough to even try. There are those who will chalk it up to millenial damage, but I chalk it up to a whole other kind of damage.

But the week leading up to Easter, I had a special guest – my sister. Though she is 6 years younger than me, and acts her age in many ways, there are other ways in which she is vastly more mature. One of them being that she can actually cook. While she was here she taught me a basic italian sauce. I have some frozen, but will not be attempting to make my own until fall begins to beckon. But at least now I know how, and don’t need to buy a jar from the store unless I want to. I already know how to make chicken cutlets (it’s my favorite food!) so this fall I will make chicken parm. I plan on using the sauce my sister froze for lasagna next week!

During the weeks leading up to her visit, we talked about Easter Sunday and what we would cook. We decided on ham and potatoes as the main faire. When the day actually rolled around, she was not very helpful. But I wasn’t worried. She had already taught me so much about cooking in one week! I set a few timers on my phone to calm my anxiety, and got going. Dinner was a success!! I enjoyed making it!! All I needed was some confidence, a phone with the ability to set multiple alarms, and my sister, boyfriend, and good friend nearby for damage control.

Everyone loved dinner and I was so proud of myself. Two weeks later I promised to bring dessert to T’s house, the friend mentioned above. I normally would have panicked and bought some bakery cake from the local grocery. But I made (instant) pudding and poured it into a (premade) oreo crust. I got strawberries and some whipped cream. Now I know this is nothing. I whisked some milk and powder together and poured it into a premade crust. BUT… for me it was a HUGE STEP!

Lastly, tonight I made… *drumroll please* 2 STEAKS! All on my own! I used this recipe, and it worked out for me. I didn’t have anxiety, or freak out in any way. The steak was delicious and came out exactly like I imagined – no, wait, it was better 🙂 Along with the steak I made (instant) rice and (steamfresh) green beans. But when the green beans were done steaming, i mixed them in oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Tomorrow we are having guests for dinner, and I am making chicken and mashed potatoes. This is no shock because I have made this many times, even for the particular couple coming over. But on Friday I will attempt to make cod with a lemon sauce. I can’t wait.

White Teeth; Zadie Smith

I just finished reading White Teeth for my class on Narrative Structure. Goodreads is full of mixed reviews. There are those who find it brilliant, and those who find it boring. I am the former. I underlined and circled and notated so much. I was reading four books at the time, (White Teeth, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, and Bird by Bird) but kept coming back to this one.

Here is my favorite passage:

“A neutral place. The chances of finding one these days are slim… The sheer quantity of shit that must be wiped off the slate if we are to start again as new. Race. Land. Ownership. Faith. Theft. Blood. And more blood. And more. And not only must the place be neutral, but the messenger who takes you to the place, and the messenger who sends the messenger. There are no people or places left like that in North London” (378).

I know that this place might be impossible to find. I know that might even be the point of this passage – that such neutrality is beyond our grasp. But I like to work towards the future I envision. I don’t know what I’m trying to say except for this book spoke to me, and made me think, and comforted me, and hurt me, and I know I am late to the Zadie Smith show, but I’m glad I tuned in.

not a review, a meditation

There is a saying: the cure for anything is salt – sweat, tears, or the ocean.


The ocean is full of secrets and dreams. it has the power to cleanse, to heal, to pull you under. They say salt – the kind in tears, sweat, and the ocean – is everything. The ocean is beauty. To quote Andre Breton, french surrealist of the twentieth century, beauty will be CONVULSIVE, or not at all. Synonyms for convulsive include, but are not limited to: fiery, hazardous, stormy, raging, perilous, uncontrollable, unstable, bursting, wild, violent… the list goes on and on. Nadja, with it’s dreamy and sometimes nightmareish prose, is certainly convulsive.
I always say love and hate are not opposites. They are twins. The same goes for the above words, and beauty. Nothing beautiful is easy. Nothing beautiful is still or easily controlled. Roses have thorns. The ocean can pull you under. Even the sun burns. You cannot touch a butterfly’s wings or it will die.  “Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or will not be at all” is the truth.  It means that with everything in life, you will have positives and negatives. The most pure example of this is LOVE. Love is patient, love is kind… but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes love is working through pain and hard times. Love can make you feel every emotion. You sometimes could not be happier, sometimes your heart is quite literally broken. Love stinks, love hurts. But for every low, there is an impeccable high. Where dreams are brought to realization. A love for writing, what was once an ideal, is now a fiery passion I fight for each day. The right to exist in this space. The right to worship at the altar of voice and courage and the grotesque beauty that is life, and committing life to record for future civilizations.

As detailed in my last post, I have so much writing planned, and I am very particular. I want everything to flow a certain way and I have so much to say, but I am feeling self-conscious. I have people I want to write about, at least where their story overlaps my own; I’m feeling vulnerable. In the first essay collection, One Dark Thing, I detail times in my life of deep pain. There are pieces about friendship gone awry, my body, and even a piece about someone who got away. I have to dig deep and go to a really emotional place and let go of inhibition, but I am scared. What if it’s draining? What if people hate me after they read these pieces? (Everyone – not even necessarily the people who I’m writing about). Okay, well it’s one thing for strangers and acquaintances to hate me, but what if my close friends, my partner, my family judge me?

How do writers write without feeling insecure? How do they push through it? How do they write with such vulnerability knowing their mother is going to read the piece. How do I tell my family I might not even want them to read my work?

On a different note, I submitted a piece to a literary magazine in November and it is MAYBE getting published. They are still culling through the submissions, making sure the collection is cohesive, et cetera. It was a big step for me to finish the piece, and then edit it without prompting. It was a big step for me to submit it. I really, truly, definitely want this piece included in the collection but if it isn’t, I’m still proud of my work, and I will make it better and submit it elsewhere. The older I get the less time I have for my own bullshit. I want to be a writer. So while it’s lovely that I have all of these ideas, it’s even lovelier that I am sitting down and actually writing them and making plans to publish them. I am ready.

an invitation

INVITATION by Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er. a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by the fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

I am a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer and a pretender. Because I am a writer. I was born a writer, I will die a writer. I am also a person who likes deadlines, and to-do lists, and unambiguity. So I have given myself a deadline for my first essay collection (I have eight possible essay collections, five retellings, eleven original novels, some short fiction, children’s stories, three spec scripts, and many ideas that have not fully formed yet planned…)which I will self-publish on kindle. And I will be attempting to chronicle my journey along the way while I finish my Master’s,  and finish the essay collection, and there will be more posting about the personal on this blog as well. My writerly journey is personal, but I am excited to share it with you. If you would like to tell me what you want to know more about, I will be happy to share with you. Please email with any suggestions, comments, questions, concerns.


Things that might come up –

Bookseller musings, Writer musings, reader musings, my coffee recipe, francophilia (both james franco and france), smoker musings, team jess musings, art musings, sexuality, yoga, portland…. and anything you suggest that i truly feel i can write about.



All the Lives I Want – Alana Massey

All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey is the book I’ve wanted to write, and wish I did write. Ms. Massey dwells on pop-culture with the eye of a lit critic and the heart of a sad girl. From her essays on Lana del Rey and Fiona Apple to her explorations on Amber Rose, stripping, and Winona Ryder, I was glued to my kindle. Almost every essay in this book was a more serious and thought provoking adventure into my mind than I had ever taken myself, and I recommend this to all who have ever embarked on the sad girl journey and those who are intrigued.

The Dead Girls Society – Michelle Krys

This is more of a mini review, PSA, to say that I read The Dead Girl’s Society this past Friday night in about 3-4 hours, with taking breaks, so it was less than that. Michelle Krys kept me on the edge of my seat and in the end I was completely surprised by the key to the mystery. I would definitely recommend this novel to keep your mind occupied on something else than our political climate, or just a fun, creepy, lazy read. If you’re a fan of Pretty Little Liars, this is perfect for you. If you’re not a PLL fan, this is still perfect for you! Please check it out of your local library (or buy it!) ASAP!