Category Archives: Writing

Sometimes I let the young ladies know it’s gonna be OK

From “The Double Date“:

Dear Teenager,

You’re the ugly friend. That’s temporary—and actually you’re not ugly at all. You just don’t look the same way as the girls who have figured out how eyeliner, jean sizing, and hot rollers work. Maybe they have a mom or an older sister who’d figured all of this out, or they are allowed to go tanning or read Cosmo or watch General Hospital or something. You don’t and aren’t and while that seems like a tremendous injustice at the moment and you feel like a lone Snickerdoodle on a table full of frosted cupcakes, it’s all gonna work out face, hair, and style-wise for you. I promise.

But periodically, and actually right at this minute, you’re the safety valve on your friend’s hot date. Her mom never would have let her go out alone with a college guy, but if you come along, the she can just tell her that it’s a girls’ night out and that’s totally safe on account of the fact that you don’t get up to shenanigans.

You, however, would very much like to get up to some shenanigans, and it ain’t happening with the boys at school who think you’re smart and funny but would never dream of going out with you because of the whole face/hair/style thing. So you say yes to going out with “Dana” and this guy she met God knows where because the internet hasn’t been invented yet (I KNOW!), and so it wouldn’t just be the three of you, he brought along a friend whose face visibly wilts when you are presented to him as a human girl person.

Read the rest on i believe you | it’s not your fault (a Tumblr where adult ladypeople let the younger women in on what we’ve learned)

Sometimes I talk to the asexiest people

It’s not just a phase.

They’re not frigid, sick, repressed or broken.

Meeting the so-called “right one” isn’t going to change anything.

But for people like Sandra Mellott, the questions just keep on rolling in from friends, family and loved ones who may mean well but don’t understand what it’s like to identify as asexual.

In a society historically centered around romantic pairings and increasingly bombarded by raunchy imagery, people who don’t experience sexual attraction can often feel isolated, invisible and misunderstood. But now a growing number of asexual people are banding together in solidarity and support, finding like-hearted souls in a culture where “happily (and hornily) ever after” is the end goal.

Read the rest of “An orientation to asexuality” at CNN Living

Sometimes (OK, a lot of times) I debate Kim Severson

People love pitting the New York Times’ Kim Severson and me against one another on the debate stage. At the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi last fall, the topic was Pie vs Cake (we tied). This time, at the Longhouse Food Revival, It was Oink vs Moo. We tied again.

Here’s what I said, after noting that it had been suggested to me that I could win just by saying the word “bacon,” and then reading the poem “Ode to Pork” by Kevin Young:

I have been as intimately involved with pig as a person can be without actually, you know, porking one.

In a barnyard about an hour from here, I stuck my hand into the slit-open, steaming belly of a pig I’d known since it was a little, bitty piglet and pulled his organs out one by one. I’d watched as this animal shuffled and snorted around his circular pen, snuffling with joy, eating whole, dinged-up zucchini, corncobs and table scraps.

He wallowed and oinked and farted a lot — happy as a pig in shit until the second his brother took a bullet between the eyes and a knife to his throat. My little — or at that point, full and fattily grown — friend snorted in fear at the crack of the rifle, then went back to chowing down on some overripe cucumbers, until the same fate befell him.

He went out happy, and you could taste it.
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Sometimes I write 2000 words about what counts as salad

meatloaf salad

There was a time in my life when I thought I knew a thing or two — about life, about being a reasonably functional member of society, about language, about being a food editor. That phase of my existence ended several weeks ago when the meatloaf salad showed up in my workplace cafeteria.

Several colleagues alerted me to its presence, sending pictures of the cut-up chunks of meatloaf with commentary such as “Really?!” “WTF” and “EEEWWWWW! Is this really salad?”

Seeing as I’m a journalist and all, I took it upon myself to investigate.

The dish was indeed on the salad bar, labeled “meatloaf salad” at 50 cents an ounce, and it tasted like cold chunks of decently prepared meatloaf. I posted a picture online and promptly questioned everything I have come to understand about myself and what I know about the world.

Stuff mixed with lettuce, I get that. Various materials held together with mayonnaise, I understand. Fruitstuffs tumbled about with marshmallows and cream, I don’t so much dig, but it has been codified as salad for me in the past, so I accept it as such.

But not this.

Read the rest of “Salad daze: From leafy greens to meatloaf chunks” at CNN Eatocracy

Sometimes I write eating with about my fantastic dad

Kat Kinsman

One Sunday morning in 1981, I came home from church and my soul was on fire. Not because anything exceptional had transpired during the 10:30 service, but because of the way my house smelled when I walked in the side door. My dad was making Indian dishes for the first time. Whatever was happening in that kitchen was weird and wild, and it twined into all my senses, drawing me toward the simmering pot and away from everything else I’d understood as food in my nine years on Earth thus far.

My mother had made most of our meals up to that point — dutifully, methodically and not unkindly, but as a means to an end, getting her husband and two daughters fed. Though she cares greatly for the communion of the dinner table, the artistry of its contents doesn’t especially concern her. It’s not a failing on her part at all — just a seed that had neither been planted nor encouraged to bloom by first-generation American parents who were grateful to have anything to eat at all.
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Sometimes I get all shirty when people police other people’s tastes

It’s all John Green’s fault.

I’m not just talking about the strong likelihood that I’ll be ugly-crying in public alongside fellow fans of “The Fault In Our Stars” in a theater near me this weekend — I mean the fact that I’m reading much fiction at all these days. But apparently I’m supposed to be embarrassed about my love of Green’s books.

Says who?

Says Ruth Graham, author of a recent jeremiad that proclaims: “Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children.” Graham goes on to assert that realistic (i.e. non-supernatural, non-dystopian) young-adult-targeted books are somehow supplanting works of literary fiction in adults’ reading lives and how that’s a “shame.”

It’s the “should” (Slate’s italics, not mine) here that vexes me most. It implies that someone else’s hierarchy of taste and personal experience takes precedent over your own, when in reality, letting go of that is one of the great spoils of achieving adulthood.

Let me get anecdotal here for a second.

Read — Grownups: Don’t be ashamed of your YA habit

Sometimes I write about women who step in to help

I had absolutely no right to cry over the death of Mrs. Howard. She wasn’t family, and I hadn’t seen her in more than 20 years. That didn’t stop me from crumpling onto the couch and howling like a kitten hurled from a moving car when I heard the news last year.

Between the damp, snotty sobs, I wracked my brain to figure out why word of Mrs. Howard’s death had struck me so squarely. I hadn’t kept in touch with my mother’s friend once I’d graduated from high school and fled my unhappy hometown life.

I poked at the space her loss had left, like examining the socket where a tooth was once firmly lodged. She’d had a dog, Piper, of which I was quite fond. She’d let me practice my piano lessons on her electric organ, and that was awfully nice. She’d taken me to the mother-daughter Girl Scout dinner…oh…

That was the raw nerve causing the ache. She’d filled in during at least one of many school-sanctioned mother-daughter outings when my mom was unable. It’s what lots of sisters, aunts, friends, neighbors, teachers do when they see a child in need of care and comfort. And Mrs. Howard did it for me.

Read — She wasn’t mom, but she loved us

Sometimes I write about intersex people and love

Intersex Dating

There’s a vocabulary of protection used around the intersex community — of “escape” from sex assignment surgery to normalize their genitals, of PTSD and survivorship, of guilt from some whose bodies remain intact.

There’s also a shared experience of shame, secrecy and disconnection borne of being treated like a physical mistake. They arrived in the world with genetic mutations that affect them at intimate levels, and were taught to believe, often since birth, that their very existence is a condition that needs to be corrected.

The path to romantic connection with another human can feel isolated and impassible. The risk, impossible.

But it doesn’t have to be.

ReadIntersex dating: Finding love across the intersection

Sometimes I get a book deal

From Publishers Marketplace:

“CNN Eatocracy managing editor Kat Kinsman’s HI, ANXIETY, about how and why anxiety has come to be one of the principle defining aspects of contemporary women’s daily lives, partly arising from her recent autobiographical writings and television segments, to Carrie Thornton at Dey Street Books, by Scott Mendel at the Mendel Media Group (NA).”

So that’s happening. Here’s the Facebook community I started so people dealing with anxiety can feel a little bit less alone: “Hi, Anxiety” on Facebook

Sometimes I get all shirty about wanting people to cook.

Yes, YOU, Meghan McCain.

You should cook. Yes, you. Even if you don’t want to.

This isn’t like saying that you should learn Ovid in the original Latin for the enrichment of your soul, or requiring that you hunker and hone your julienne and demi-glace skills until you emerge victorious in a battle overseen by Alton Brown or Anthony Bourdain. This is about getting yourself fed and taking a modicum of responsibility for it.

You eat, right? Maybe even more than once a day? (Or even if you ingest some combination of nutrients solely through methods that don’t require chewing, smoothies have to taste like something, don’t they?) And I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’d like to continue living in your body for the next while. Assembling foodstuffs for intake without the intermediary of a drive-thru speaker, menu, or segmented tray and microwave is the ideal way to facilitate that.

Yet people object, throw their hands in the air and simply refuse. Here’s why they’re wrong.

Read5 bad excuses for not cooking