1. I don’t remember much of my childhood before I was nine, which some say means I blacked it out. Some scenes, yes: swinging in the swings in the grassy backyard, sitting on the ledge of the bathtub as my brother’s girlfriend washed her very long blond hair in the bathroom sink, finding my favorite doll with needles poked into her forehead. The way the living room felt both large and cozy, the way we would heat up blueberry muffins on weekend mornings, then eat them split open, the whipped cream sputtering from the can, the blueberries popping between our teeth, fresh and tart. I don’t remember how I felt other than little, and then: very scared and alone and not understood.
2. “I have finally isolated the problem: that we were born at all. That we have bodies, and minds. Also, parents. Who made us go to school. Where a third of the children were absolute beasts, especially on the blacktop, when teachers weren’t looking. At about the time a grandparent or cat died, and we began to realize everything and everyone was going to die. Even Mom! Who was insane, who either had to be highly medicated, or who cleaned between the piano keys with Q-tips, or hated Dad, or adored Dad, who hated her.” –Anne Lamott
3. We’re sitting outdoors, the heat is heavy, fans are dangling from trees. We’re having eggplant roasted and splayed open and splashed with tehina, and grape leaves stuffed with rice in a puddle of yogurt and she says: “You know, the problem with these retreats though, the fact that it’s such a trend now, that you go anywhere in the world and there are retreats, the problem is that they’re mostly women. And I think that what women really have to learn is how to get angry, really angry- without retreating”.
4. I’m on a retreat in the middle of the desert. It’s silent, and I’m in all kinds of withdrawal- sugar, caffeine, cellphone, facebook. We’re led into a dark room and the music is blasting and we’re all given big plastic noodles, the kind you do water exercises with. It’s the cathartic part of the workshop, what we’ve spent days building up to, and people start banging and slamming things and hammering the walls with the plastic toys. I sit in a corner and cry. I’m not even sure I know what anger feels like.
5. She says: “Anxiety is often anger directed inwards.” When I was grasping at the edge of my desk, refreshing the news ticker, jumping at noises, she asked: “Who do you want to throw a missile at?”
6. They gather in my house and point to all of the things that make my heart open: the turquoise chairs, and the view, and the orchids with their fingers spread and pure white flesh and hot pink mouths. Before we begin writing, we sit in a circle and hold hands and let out a big collective scream.
(No one comes running).
7. “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”. –Mary Oliver, Wild Geese.
from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess
8 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon rosewater (optional)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and draw an 8inch/20cm circle on the paper.
Beat the egg whites and salt until satiny peaks form. Beat in the sugar, a scattered spoonful at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cornstarch, vinegar, and rosewater, and fold in gently. Mound onto the baking tray within the circle, flatten the top and smooth the sides. Put in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 300F/150C. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova in it to cool completely. If you have an electric oven, leave the oven door slightly open. Once cool, you can keep it in an airtight container for a week or so.
Cut 1 of the pomegranates in half and juice it- either with an electric juicer or by pressing the seeds through a sieve. Decant the juice into a small saucepan along with the lemon juice. Bring to the boil and let bubble for a few minutes or until syrupy. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Deseed the other pomegranate, and set aside.
Whip the heavy cream until thick but not stiff.
To assemble: Invert the pavlova onto a big flat-bottomed plate, gently peeling off the parchment paper. Pile on the whipped cream, then scatter the pomegranate seeds and drizzle with the syrup. Serve.