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you choose... trigger or glimmer?
hahaha I laugh in the face of tragedy... sort of, plus my deep love of coconut milk
magic wand bush
I’ve been thinking about glimmers vs. triggers. Obvi you know about triggers 💣 which reignite anxiety, pain, rage, and other negative emotions. But what about glimmers✨? Things that ignite delight, joy, comfort, a light heart? I’ve decided glimmers will be my project, because my day/my lens, right?
When I started to seek glimmers, boy-howdy did the world deliver! Not only did I spy the magic wand bush up top, but on the way to my “hair-doctor” the other day, I wandered into a little bakery for a scone, and just f*cking look at this bathroom!
Seriously, zoom in! The baker is a mega-fan of Drew Barrymore?! How random and delightful. Before I left I told Mr. Baker, “I’m certain the scone is delicious, but the mega-fandom of Drew? Delighted me beyond words.” I’m neutral on Drew, but I am all in for giant expressions of love! And yes, the lemon scone was good too.
What glimmers do you find in the world that light up your day? Drop a note in the comments, please!
If the newsletter is a glimmer✨, please do share with a friend. I’m aiming to top 1k subscribers this summer and I need your help. …so very close!
In many a book conversation the smart, heavy, consequential books garner admiration and love. What about the smart, heavy, light, funny, consequential books? Currently I’m all in for laughing (✨✨✨), and yes, gooey feelings in the heart region. Can you imagine my 20-something-self with her tiny waist and arched brow reading those words…gooey heart? She’d be so disappointed in me. Damn, I had impossibly high standards for myself and everyone else. (Consider this a blanket apology—from my strong and gooey heart to yours—for my imperious, self-righteous younger self!)
Which brings me to two books I want to share:
WE ALL WANT IMPOSSIBLE THINGS, by Catherine Newman, was thrust upon me and I resisted. I mean… humor, hospice, ovarian cancer, best friend? Kinda reeks of lemonade from lemons… yikes! But this novel is so funny and big hearted and bright. I find myself guffawing, in public. Why am I reading the novel in public? Because I cannot bring myself to set it down. Check this brief exchange between the narrator, Ash, and her ex-husband, Honey.
“What if you came home and I was dead on the floor?” I asked him once, pissed about something or other. “What would you do?” “Um,” he said. But I interrupted before he could answer. “You would step around me, whistling ‘Dancing Queen.’ Then you’d make guacamole or feed the cats.” “That, my love,” Honey said, mildly irritated, “is what we call hurting your own feelings.”
I’m a pro at hurting my own feelings! I feel so seen. ✨✨✨
THE STORIED LIFE of A. J. FIKRY, by Gabrielle Zevon, (yes, she wrote TOMORROW AND TOMORROW AND TOMORROW which you should read immediately!) is also a fun and tender story. Bachelor, bookseller, abandoned baby, kindness, literary references, ghost writers, foibles, all wrapped in a mystery. I’m in!
I've made a read.write.eat. Bookshop Store, where you will find many of the books I've recommended in the newsletter. Buying books from my shop is another way you can be a friend to the newsletter.
I’m going to tell you the sad story of my second book. I was writing about a family, a single mom with twin daughters. They lived in the countryside, in Boring, Oregon (yes that’s a place). The mom was worried about the wrong twin. While she poured her attention and anxiety into one, the other was slipping into darkness—really dark stuff. Oh and, the mom was recovering from breast cancer. I didn’t know how to write a novel. I was learning. And then I got cancer and the magical thinking part of my brain had a dalliance with the idea that I caused my own sickness by writing about sickness. My shitty novel promptly got shittier. Then my supportive editor left her job and I was deposited in the lap of a new editor for whom I was the stepchild with a mess of a book and she frankly wasn't interested. I imagine her stepping around the carcass of my book to make guacamole! I understand. I wish things had gone differently. I follow this editor in the socials, sort of like sticking my tongue in the hole where a tooth once lived, and it always makes me sad that we didn’t get to work together. That is me, hurting my own feelings!
That bad book dwells in a box in the garage.
Now I’m so close to the end of another book, my fourth if you count the garage-dweller. I don’t know what will happen with the manuscript. Will it sell? Will it find readers? Will it make people laugh and quote a line or two? I hope so. Thus far people have enjoyed the chapters I’ve had published in Zyzzyva, One Story, Hunger Mountain, and Georgia Review. But it has been scary writing. I’m trying to embrace optimism with a soupçon of realism and recklessness, otherwise how will I write day after day? How do we do anything wrapped in uncertainty day after day? Look for the bright, right? Amuse ourselves. Write the book we want to read.
Why am I telling you this? To encourage you to keep going. What you have to say matters but it’s the act of saying it that matters even more. Somewhere there is a needlepoint pillow that says:
Persevere my Darling
Plus a second one that says:
don’t stick your tongue in the tooth hole
Plus a third one that says:
Here’s a prompt for you:
Pick something from your past with a sense of risk, stakes, something that had the potential to change you. Write about it. It may be an event that occurred in a single day, or it may be something that occurred over a period of time. Dig deep. This is an opportunity for you to open up and explore—through words—something that you might not have had the chance, or the notion, to write about, or something you always wanted to write about but never felt brave enough. If the latter is the case give the event to a character in your story/novel. Remember, the only responsibility you have is to the truth of the story. What do I mean by that? Don’t worry about getting it down the way it happened, but get it down in a way that reveals the kernel of meaning, the ache at the center which you wish to explore and reveal.
A few phrases to get you thinking:
knew it was over…
shouldn’t have taken the dare….
fell in love with the wrong person
hardest thing/nicest thing said (to me or by me)
that song on the radio…
a big fat lie
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I mentioned my ♥️ of coconut milk. It feels like the right decision. Creamy, tropical, reeking of summer! You know that very good cucumber salad we all make with thinly sliced red onion and cucumber and sour cream? What if you replaced the sour cream with the thick part of the coconut milk, the stuff that rises to the top in the can? What if you then added a tiny bit of minced garlic, minced ginger, lime zest, a squirt of lime juice, flaky salt, and chopped cilantro? I bet you’d be so delighted. I was!
Another beautiful salad to try:
Forbidden Rice Salad w/Grilled Salmon and Lime Coconut Dressing
for the dressing:
1/4 c lime juice
2 T fish sauce, (don’t mess around, use Red Boat)
1/3 c full-fat coconut milk
1T light brown sugar
Grated lime zest from 1 lime
1/2 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 T finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, fish sauce, coconut milk, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add remaining dressing ingredients. Stir to combine. Set aside.
for the salad:
2 c cooked forbidden black rice
2 sm Persian cucumbers, diced
4-6 lg radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 c red cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1/4 c rough chop fresh cilantro
1/4 c rough chop fresh mint
Salmon grilled your way!
To assemble, scoop the rice in a large low-sided salad bowl. Add the rest of the toppings. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing, toss, then serve with a delicious piece of grilled salmon on top. Enjoy at least once a week!
Finally, the pièce de résistance! Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango and Lime. Do yourself an enormous favor and hit that link!
Stanley has a house guest!
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