July 09, 2011

As the World Turns

It has been comically frustrating to have no internet service this past week. Or rather, to have had only a wan, intermittent stolen signal from someone's house nearby. My sublet's network, perkily named "BoatsandHoes," has been MIA--and since I'm not the account holder, there hasn't been a damn thing I could do about it. All my hard-earned nagging skills from dealing with Comcast in DC, wasted! That's the peril of choosing to be miles from home in the week leading up to having one's book born. 

Writers love to romanticize a lack of internet, particularly when it comes to colonies. I get that. But the good people at Crown have been working their butts off on bookings and media queries--each in one in delicate balance with the others, based on who gets "first" this or "exclusive" that--and I hate holding them up. When you find yourself driving to a Pizza Hut parking lot so you can skulk in your car checking email, something has gone awry. 

Anyway. Enough whining. The magical interwebs seem to be back. 

On Thursday, I got a note from the Reviews editor at the Wall Street Journal asking if I might have 800 words I could contribute to their weekend edition on the topic of living with food allergies. Um...yes? The only problem was that I'd already made plans for the night; a beer with this year's Ole Miss Summer Poet in Residence, Jay Leeming, then a dinner party in Taylor, then meeting to see friends of a friend play on the Square. I've been somewhat stubborn about maintaining a work/life balance down here in Oxford. 

So, after having a Reb Ale with Jay on the balcony at City Grocery--after meeting my dinner host's pet Jackson Lizard (oddly enough named "Iguana," but they call it "Cucumber")--after enjoying a meal of marinated chicken and Honey Bee Bakery French country bread and homemade tequila-watermelon-line sorbet--after a great meandering conversation about trying to grow apples in Mississippi and Billy Collins and radio interviews gone wrong and living on the Lawn--after listening to an hour of music at Parrish's--I came home. 

And slept. And got up at 2:30 AM. And got to writing my piece for WSJ, with a 9 AM deadline hanging over me. 

Admittedly what I'm calling "work/life balance" might, in fact, be burning the candle at both ends. But it all worked out. Here it is: "An 'Allergy Girl' Comes Out of Her Bubble." 

DC-area folks might get a kick out of knowing that the opening scene takes place at Bethesda's Jaleo, on a night when I hosted two Emerging Writer Fellows for dinner before a Story/Stereo reading at The Writer's Center...

At a recent dinner with friends, I was determined to enjoy a night without any allergic reactions. I had asked for the dairy-free menu, but when the waiter brought our drink orders, I eyed my martini glass with alarm: It was garnished at the bottom with a pearl of milky liquid.
"What's in that?" I asked.
He proudly described a liqueur containing essence of pine nut. I groaned.
"You didn't ask for the nut-free menu!" he said.
I looked at him. "The nut-free menu for cocktails?"

...and for the record, they replaced that drink gratis with an amazing concoction that combined cava with edible gold leaf, which swirled hypnotically in response to the wine's bubbles. Hooray for José Andrés! I like to tease ThinkFoodGroup for their tendency toward self-grandeur, but he really has some of the most allergy-friendly restaurants in the country. 

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