She had style.
After she left for work in the morning, I would sometimes sneak out to high school wearing a pair of her platform sandals. They were back in her closet when she got home.
That's me at seven—my First Communion. The white lace mini-dress must have raised a few eyebrows.
The little girl pudge around my middle melts my heart.
My mother and I are having profound conversations lately. We're getting to know each other.
It took a long time. Don't sweat it. Most especially don't force it. Love yourself always.
She did something to liberate me at a young age—put me on the pill with my father screaming bloody murder.
Stood up to him to protect me.
A few days ago I asked her why she did it, and she said,
I wanted you to be free.
Soundtrack - 1970
I love this photo. I'm brimming with hope and talent. A young filly at the gate.
I walked out of third-year university and into a restaurant. I was a good student—told by two profs I should write. But something on the side was quickly turning into everything.
The way my hand rests on my hip, the stains on my apron, and a too-big men's chef jacket parachuting out the sides.
The photo was taken in the 45-minute window between services on Saturday night. Late night fun, then rest, on the horizon.
The gateway to apprenticeship. The first French kitchen.
On the frontlines of the second wave of women moving into a man's world.
One night André Donnet passed me a morsel of sweetbread. I'd watched them tumble golden and crisp into sauce au morilles—goodbye buttery sizzle. As he spoons them into a puff pastry shell, no golden drops of sauce fall on the plate—miracles all around me. The croustade's and all their crackle were my job.
I tasted the sweetbread.
Every day a new wonder.
Hit the bell, and then the green sprig of chervil.
Soundtrack - 1985
There's something I've been doing over the past few months of the pandemic. I've come to it via several routes—things show up when you need them. One was reading Hannah Selinger's piece for Eater on David Chang's autobiography. I wish more grown-ups had shown up for her truth and bravery.
I thought about how her words applied to me. I made a decision and took action (with good human guidance). I decided when I met former students—there are a lot of them—I would ask them this question:
What was your experience of me as a teacher?
Then I uncross my arms, take a few deep breaths, and get quiet enough to listen—hoping for the truth and watching how it lands in me.
How it happens is not in my control. I'll meet people where they are. The only thing I can do is be ready. I can meet in person (at a distance). It can happen on social media, in direct messages, via email. I've had face to face and Zoom meetings with some. I do have a few boundaries.
My experiences thus far have been important.
This is a passage I worked on this morning. The original was posted yesterday.
There's something moving in the process. I clearly see my potential in 2013 in the first year of writing—there was concrete evidence that I could relax in the practice. Today I brought my experience to it.
Process and technique are everything to me, as is progress. I tried to convey that as a teacher. Sometimes I failed.
Eight years ago, I began working with an editor. She saw the places in the writing where I was freaking out and told me I could just say it. I paid her for the knowledge. Apprenticeship teaches you the value of an investment. I wanted to hold what I was creating in high esteem so it could shine bright.
By accident, in late August, I erased my blog and archive. I shook my fist at the sky for a bit. Turns out the recovery process is a blessing. Finding the work and bringing it back, to play with the words and structure, is a gift in a pandemic.
I know another kind of mastery.
The isolation has been terrible and beautiful—things happen in the quiet.