My mother showing me how to peel a cucumber, slice it in half long-wise, and scoop out the insides with a spoon.
My señora filling a bowl with fresh cherries from the market, swirling them in water, massaging them clean.
Plates stacked high around the sink, empty wine goblets and juice glasses, the remnants of Thanksgiving waiting to be boxed up for next week’s leftovers.
A tray of chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven, and the boy who liked me eagerly sampling one and proclaiming it delicious. (Only later would I discover that I had mixed up baking powder and baking soda, turning the cookies to rocks within the hour.)
Two friends and I back from college, eager to play adult, preparing a meal for one of their families, laughing and chatting while the radio sings softly in the background.
Alone at my aunt and uncle’s house, with a glass of orange juice and handful of Hershey’s Kisses beside me, laptop flashing a blank screen, deadline looming for my sophomore fiction class.
Baking banana chocolate chip bread for the first time, nervously following the recipe (double-checking baking powder versus baking soda!), and marveling at the magnificent treat I made all by myself.
Baking banana chocolate chip bread for the third time, realizing I am missing a few ingredients, and improvising with a bottle of Sprite.
Sitting on the wobbly wicker stool while my mom cooks dinner, steam rising in the air, oil sizzling in the pan.
Peeling a cucumber, or filling a bowl with cherries, or watching my husband bake mini key lime pies for a work event, and imagining the kitchen moments my future children will remember, the images and feelings that will come unbidden to them during the smallest of daily tasks, even so many years later.
“In Defense of the Struggle” by Meg Fee
The thing about struggle, is that it inversely affects entitlement. It engenders gratitude and increases value. It gives shape and provides context. And yet we live in this culture that espouses ease and convenience above all else.
“Idea Debt” by Jessica Abel
Idea Debt is when you spend too much time picturing what a project is going to be like, too much time thinking about how awesome it will be to have this thing done and in the world, too much time imagining how cool you will look, how in demand you’ll be, how much money you’ll make. And way too little time actually making the thing.
“Ten Warnings About the Small Children You May One Day Have” by Chuck Wendig
I appear before you now: a specter haunted by the realities of life with a tiny human. Some of you are thinking of having children. Some of you are already on your way to having them, or have children who are not just small, but very tiny, and those tiny immobilized larvae will one day soon grow up. You’re not ready. I wasn’t ready.
But I am here to prepare you.
“What Makes Fiction Literary: Scenes Versus Postcards” by Donald Maass
One thing we’re talking about is the difference between scenes and what I call postcards. What are the building blocks of a novel? The term “scenes” is most often used, but that is imprecise. Scenes, summary and postcards are three different ways to shape the discrete blocks of narration that build a novel. These blocks are arranged either in strict chronological order, or in some other pattern, which taken together tell a story.
Things are blossoming over here. Story things and plant things and family things. Blossoming is hard work. It takes attention and energy, care and thoughtful pruning. It also takes patience, discipline, generosity, and collaboration. Until recently, I never realized how much goes into this season of life and rebirth. But you cannot enjoy the fruits without the labor.