"Tell your story. Tell it on your bruised knees if you must, tell it at the risk of madness, scream it at the top of your lungs." –Andrew Lam

Month: July, 2013

On Food and Writing

 MFA Residency is a tease.  The balmy nights swept me up in a romantic writing dream. There, I believe in the possibility of a tangible writing future. But he didn’t kiss me in the morning. He slipped away after a nine-night rendezvous.  And my lips twitch and tingle from the memory and from the lack. And I fall back into aching daydreams. Hungry. So I read. Hope a heap of words fall into me.       

I wish writing could be my familiar ritual. Like morning coffee. Cool grounds. Cold feet on kitchen floor. Spatter-sputter-soft hiss. Inhale. Sigh. Hot sip.   

Sip. Take, eat.

In order to create, you must feed yourself. Get your fill.

This week, my body wanted pretzels and peanut butter, so I gave my body want it wanted. Though we promised to quit eating out so much, we went to Texas Roadhouse with another couple because we need to make friends here. I chose salmon instead of my usual steak but also ate a baked potato and three cinnamon-buttered rolls. I ate carbs in fellowship. I watched as my new friend enjoyed every bite she ate which nourished the baby inside her. I ate a fresh peach over my sink as sweet juice dribbled down my chin. I made mashed potatoes because mashed potatoes remind me of my grandma.  I picked squash from our garden and fried it at husband’s request.  I broke nearly every rule. Hungry for a feast of food and words. Sinned against restrictions and obstructions. Held myself to a standard of grace and not perfection. I ate foods I marked forbidden.  And I saw that it was good.   

favorites lately

frugal and healthy life goals (see earlier post), MFA feedback (see earlier post), cocoa dusted almonds, smoothies (my current favorite smoothie combo you should try: peanut butter, frozen banana chunks, coconut, vanilla, almond milk, coffee ice cubes, and cocoa—I have no idea how much of any of these ingredients because I do not measure), sunsets and sunrises, walking, vanilla soy milk, a poolside afternoon with sis, reunions and messages from favorite students, life and idea conversations, independent bookstores, bicycles, beautiful weddings where the devotion is so evident (congrats Kristi and Matt), denim cut-offs, healthy grocery shopping, refreshing mint iced tea with blueberries, Murray State University, The Burrito Shack, trying Thai food, creatively brilliant people, workshops, Southern Gothic cocktails, new MFA friends of all ages, my rock star mentor, sipping coffee while sitting on a southern porch, writing motivation, feeling more balanced in life (this one is a huge improvement for me), fresh raspberries, stacks of new books, purposeful homework, our garden, salad socials, girls’ night in, finally reuniting with Josh, reuniting with Jovie and Gracie (my sweet dog children), being with people who help my being

Healthy and Frugal Living Goals


Long road trips allow for thinking time. During my seven hour trip north after a two-week visit down south, I realized three major things. One: When I go home, I always indulge in too much southern comfort food and feel gross. Two: I’m in graduate school now, which will put an extra strain on our finances. And, three: I actually want this graduate school experience to be fruitful. I want to write a book and have something tangible to show for the sacrifices we’ve made. I’m posting the following goals on my blog so that I’m held accountable in all of these areas. Because I know myself very well (for example, I love pasta and bread and diet coke and my clothing discount at my favorite boutique), my goals and restrictions are specifically tailored to me.

Diet Goals

No added sugars and no fake-sugar diet cokes.

No pasta, bread, white rice, or white potatoes.

Drink only water, coffee, and tea.

Chips? Only black-bean chips.

Only almond or soy milk at home; only skinny version lattes at cafes.

Eat only low-fat cheeses.

New foods to try: quinoa, tuna, brown rice

Healthy foods I’ve tried and do not like: yogurt and humus

On nights Josh can’t come home for supper, replace supper with a smoothie.

On nights Josh can come home for supper, make more soups and healthy crock pot dishes.

Eat more fish.

Go grocery shopping only twice a month (and on a budget)!

Exercise Goals:

Walk twice a day.

Walk the dogs with Josh.

Once a week, walk with a friend.

Do a workout tape twice a week.

Get back down to 110 lbs. Stay there.

Writing Goals:

Go on a writing retreat (somewhere other than my house) once a week.

Send in my grad school homework packets every month before deadline.

Write a book before I’m 30.


Sleep in bed instead of living room.

Do not buy any new clothes or accessories. Clean out closet and revamp outfit ideas.

Only eat out twice a month.

Take clothes and accessories to consignment shop.

Sell books I do not use or read.

Use up meat in freezer before buying more.

Can and freeze vegetables from our garden.

Make my own oatmeal and granola snacks.

Have coffee and quiet time every morning.

Keep in better touch with my best friends, former students, and family.

MFA Feedback to Remember

I’m great at “capper” sentences. I cap off my paragraphs in a strong and meaningful way, which allows clever transitions into the next paragraphs.

Instead of using fragments because I’m lazy, I need to use those beloved fragments sparingly. I especially should not use several fragments in a row. When explaining thoughts and emotions, I need to intelligently convey what I want to say instead of using those easy-way-out fragments.

Learn to be more observant of places in my writing where I can slow down and expand instead of flying over scenes. Push myself to write longer pieces.

Controversial topics? Don’t go part-way there, dive head-first. Don’t worry about offending. Be a writer. Be a writer. Be a WRITER.

Pick out what is unusual and actually interesting in my pieces. Find ways to complicate and put pressure on the “truths” of my writing. Find ways to turn, tweak, and slant what I think I’m actually trying to say.

Polish. Be solid.  

Don’t worry about big aphorisms to tie the writing together. I naturally sprinkle in small aphorisms, and those small aphorisms are enough.

Think about ways I can use research to add authenticity to my writing.

I’m funnier than I thought, even in pieces that aren’t supposed to be funny. Explore humor.

Experiment with form and style. Occasionally move away from commentary and that first person “I.”

Don’t ever lose my distinct and memorable voice.

Think about my readers. Don’t self-indulge.

Think about order.

Read even more and “study” what I read.


I’ve stretched. These travels stretched me well. My brain’s been pulled, my humanity broadened, my dreams expanded. I’m growing words, and returning to a normal state will prove difficult. I’ve locked eyes with an idea, become infatuated with the pain and the work and the writer-bliss. And I don’t want to give it up, watch it get carried away—examined to see if it’s acceptable and okay, measured and weighed. Most women my age birth a baby, but my ticking clock tells me it’s a book I must create before the age of thirty. With mad motivation, I’ve set a hard and fast deadline. I can’t go back to writing as a “hobby,” not when I love it like I love a life.     

I’ve stretched by meeting people, people who teach me about religion and worldviews and travels and grief and romance and books they love. They are naked with the details, so naturally, automatic bonds form from feeling that type of comfortable with bruised knees. The workshop writing had already forced us to put our hearts on the plate. We’d already confessed. We’d already learned how to “show” in our essays. Now we further “tell” over thai food and tacos and while walking endlessly through a campus cloud of sweet-smelling pipe smoke. Sophisticated. Sophisticated like the red wine served at the cocktail hours, the Virginia Woolf pieces we read aloud in cafes, the blazers with the elbow patches worn by the MFA men.

 My mind is clouded during lectures and genre seminars. My eyes burn and my throat chokes and my biology ticks and my whole face stings from intense desire to be the visiting writer, the professor, the mentor, the expert on some element of craft. I dream and doodle pen names, the words I’d write on dedication pages (for my students), the chapter titles for the table of contents. I’m star-struck at the readings. Books are my movies. These writers are my celebrities, my superstars who, even in their fiction, allowed their own hearts to stretch right out of their chests and onto those best-seller bookshelves.  

And while I’m waiting to deliver, I’m at home and growing big inside this sweet and sweaty pocket of the South.