Monday, April 23, 2012

state of nicki

It has been a long time.

Last week I got force-upgraded to the New Blogger, which I suspect most of you got months ago and that's what you've been complaining about for the last four months.

I haven't been force-upgraded to Facebook Timeline, either. I was one of the last to get New Twitter. I suspect social networks sense my backwoodsian roots and know that I, like most of my Pennsyltuckian brethren, need some time to adapt to new changes and technology. For Chrissakes, I only got a smartphone in 2011. I am just two shoes away from being a barefoot hillbilly.

So now I have New-Blogger, which looks and acts suspiciously like Google Reader, which is currently stocked with an even 250 of your unread blog posts. This morning it had 350. Baby steps.

Everything I write on New Blogger has a strange sense of weight, of gravity. I somehow feel cat videos need not apply on New Blogger. It's a brave new world. It should be stocked with serious fonts and red velvet smoking jackets.

New Blogger calls for whip-sharp snark and poignant parodies. I'm drinking a Killian's. My beer feels unwelcome here. Pardon, New Blogger, but I drank all my craft microbrews. I am an unpaid intern. Killian's it is.


I owe you something, I don't know what I owe, but I owe it all the same. I owe you-- not you readers, per se, but this cobbled-together jet-ink piece of cyberspace that I own, I owe it something. It's like a piece of land. 

I worry the weeds will grow.


I go to work Tuesday through Thursday and I love it. I love it. I absolutely love it. I work in an office with sunny windows, red bricks, and deep hardwood floors. An On Air sign hangs above the kitchen entrance, with a bright red bulb to indicate filming. Puppies -- honest to God puppies -- are allowed in the office. The shelves are lined with cookbooks, more cookbooks and magazines and food memoirs than I could read in a lifetime. 

There is a green iron spiral staircase in the library. I cannot tell you how it thrills me to type there is a green iron spiral staircase in the library.

The staircase carries me to the editorial department, to my desk where I sit and answer readers' questions about cooking. Should I use cooked or raw shrimp in your crab cake recipe? they ask. Raw, I answer. Does brining drastically change the salt content of the meal? they ask. I research our findings. Not as much as you'd think, I answer. 

I learn about baking, about brining, about grilling, about stewing. I watch, wide-eyed, as my editors talk about story value and angles and caramelizing and the chemical structure of starches. I taste the food and chefs listen to my feedback. I bring home food from the day's testings. Every day Derrick asks me, What did you taste today? It takes me our entire ride home to tell him everything I've tried.


My days not spent at the Kitchen I spend working. I type on the porch when the weather is warm. I go about my job. I email my clients. I polish sentences. I research. But my thoughts are with risotto, with pasta, with shortbread, with wine. I wonder what's next.

I search jobs when I should be working. The city is my oyster; I find ten jobs--- careers -- that call out to me. They sing of 401ks and of easy commutes. They sing of future openings and dynamic workplaces and two weeks paid vacation. 

I can't apply to any of them, not with an available start date so far off in the calendar. I don't apply to any because I don't know what I want. I'm pulled in so many directions. I want to keep writing. I want to do editorial. I want to seek out new options. I want to go back to school.

I want everything and I want nothing at all.


I take refuge in the kitchen. We hang pictures of us, of the dogs, of Derrick eating an oyster on the Cape, of me sipping spiked cider on a New York City rooftop. We simmer, we bake, we chop, we dice. We sit sipping beers by the grill long after the sun goes down. Winter has passed us by, summer seems too soon for comfort. We are children of summer. We long for fresh vegetables, for ripe tomatoes and strawberries and bushels of plump blueberries waiting to be eaten. We wait for the sun, we wait for the season. We wait for the change.

Monday, April 2, 2012

stirring up some changes 'round here

Ah, ma chere, mi amor, my darling Handbag, I don't have to tell you what you already know, do I? You know things are different between us, and you know it's not you.

It's me.

We're emotional distancing, preparing for the divide, yes? You know I'm leaving you. You're a smart girl. You've seen this coming since early March.

Tomorrow I start my internship with America's Test Kitchen. You know I'm worried and stressed. You know I'm wondering why the hell I'm leaving my write-in-my-PJ's gig. And you know I feel too damn old to work an unpaid internship.

But you also know that I need the print and food writing experience. You know it's the right thing, even if I don't. You know because I've stocked your archives with pictures of food, stories about food, agonizingly long odes about my culinary conquests. You've known from the beginning, from Table for One, you little mynx of a blog, you.

And you also know this new endeavor of mine is only part-time, so the rest of my week will be spent cramming in my usual work. Which, sadly, leaves less time for blogging for pleasure.

But oh, dear sweet Handbag, stop worrying. Yes, your archives for the spring will look a little sparse. But I'll still be here. Even if it's just to slap up some pictures and beg forgiveness for my absence.

Me and you, Handbag, to the end.

You're my best gal. I won't abandon you.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to cook up some courage before my big day tomorrow.

I know you'll understand.