Nostalgia from a crunchy baguette

When I was 18, I lived on my own in Europe.  I rode a subway system that was in a foreign language.  I shaved the sides of my head and wore a rabbits foot around my neck, a gift from a fling I had in the summer with a boy who's now a model.  I lived the life I thought I deserved, the life I thought I wanted.  I lost a friend of eight years that year.  I lost my uncle, too.  I never made it to France during my time abroad, I ran out of money and there was a terrorist threat on the train I was going to take when I could buy the ticket.

I lived in Italy, but never really saw the world for what it was.  Instead, I was born into a secular understanding of cause-and-effect.  The bookends of hard work and the inevitable payoff stood in my mind.  They call that a Protestant work ethic.  I lived this fantasy of being a poet.  I lived the fantasy that being in Italy would make me more lovable.  I came back with bags of chocolates for my family, grey and chalky farewell presents from a bartender in Belgium.  My family saw it as ostentatious.  I came back with a resolute longing to be not only a different person, but a better person.  A person who tries new things, a person who changes with the seasonality of produce and temperament.  

I've kept that promise.  I call my parents and beg for the same gratitude in others that I wish to give them myself.  I was going to be a lawyer and profit off the misfortunes of others.  I took up cooking and raised three dogs instead, acting on the impulses of creation rather than the slow and steady toxins of tit-for-tat successes.  I took up baking and paint my palette in floral hues, clipping roses that grew wild in the Texas humidity and sprinkling them on a finished cake.  I surprise myself every week by baking something I've never made before--beet pasta, an almond cake, a rosemary soda--and I do it to remind myself that the takeaway from my time abroad wasn't that I was in any way better off than those I left behind, but I need to constantly evolve, change, develop into the person I want to become.

And this week, I wanted to be a bread baker.  To be the kind of person who can create a baguette in triplicate.  I found the recipe on food52 and paired it with the Lee brother's radish butter.  I sat with this delicate snack on the chaise lounge, in the sunset where Murphy sleeps, and I thought about how the last time I ate a radish, it was at the housewarming party of an aunt who now lives in Indiana.  How the sun melted the sherbet and my sister and I played badminton while the sun settled in for the night.  I thought about all the delicate memories that hang by a thread and how easily we can forget them.   I wonder what will trigger my memory of this morning, stretched out with mint tea and a baguette smeared with radish butter, and if I'll remember it fondly or with the sudden urge of nostalgia, like the kind that still grips me when I think of all the missed opportunities I spent hating my family for never just taking those damn chocolates and appreciating that the effort was there all along. 

A five year reflection.

I've become the boy with the Weimaraner eyes, I've surrounded myself in fog and ice.  I used to think I was tough and happy, loved in every language that existed.  I used to think the hunting rifles wouldn't sound.  I used to think it was God laughing when it rained too hard and the thunder rolled into my small valley town in the Laurel Highlands.  I used to think a lot of things, but now I'm a boy that sits in coffee shops at the periphery of downtown.  There are a lot of people that bump my table, sometimes the coffee spills on the saucer plate.

I've become the boy with the peach pit soul.  Surrounded by a fleshy pretext that I'm anything if not bruised.  The peach pit looks vestigial, ancient.  It has the bloody aura of tendon and tissue around it.  You hold it in your hand and throw it against a tree, trying to crack its ugly skin.  You leave it for fifty years until a new soul grows, verdant this time.  Something you'd tell your mama about.

I've become the boy with the spyglass touch, extending out ad finitum.  Brassy and cold, I look for any kind of celestial connection.  I find none.  Its all a novelty, everything we see is out of reach somehow.  All of it colossal smoke rings from some ancient carved pipe.

I'm a dust mote in the morning and by night I'm a matchstick.

I'm a ring of salt to keep the hell out, I'm the water stain on your coffee table when you forgot to use a coaster.

I'm a promissor, a confessor, a coyote.  Each breath I took these last five years have become dandelions left on the step of some child dove's grave.


Five years since I met Nolan.  Five years since I went to Florida with my parents and kissed them on the cheek at the foot of the ocean, the edge of the world.  Five years since I started a fire out of nail polish remover and vodka for the Fourth of July.  Five years since I dated a model.  Five years since I worked at a gas station, so I could save up and run away to Italy for all the wrong reasons.

Five years of connection, five years of solitude.  It created the boy in front of you.  The one who eats alone at diners with free refills on coffee, who orders a water and a piece of pie for dinner.  Who makes plans and then ignores the phone calls. I needed this solitude, I regret not having more of it.  I make breakfast alone for myself, I lick the spoon when I'm alone by myself.  

I made biscotti this week and had a tea party for myself.  I thought about all the people I used to be and how I have vertigo thinking of all the lies I've told.  I sat at my table and snapped the biscotti between my fingers.  I crumbled them up because I wanted to be alone.  Absolutely alone, if only for one more week.

Almond Biscotti


  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a measuring cup, measure out and whisk together oil, eggs, and extracts, set aside
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift together sugar, flour and baking powder, create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour wet mixture into well.
  4. Mix with a wooden spoon until comes together
  5. Dump out onto a floured work surface (pref marble) and knead five or six times by hand, until fully incorporated.  If cracks a little, add a scant tablespoon of cream (or oil) to moisten at a time
  6. Flatten dough out a little, sprinkle almonds in and fold over a couple times to incorporate
  7. With a sharp knife, half dough
  8. On parchment-lined sheets, mold dough into two logs that are about 8-10 inches long and about 3/4 inch high
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, and take out of the oven.  Using a serrated knife, cut on a diagonal slices of the log that are about 1/2 inch thick
  10. Lay all slices onto baking sheet with one cut side up.  Reduce oven to 325 and bake for 10 minutes.  Flip and repeat, until crisp.  
  11. Allow to cool before serving and can be made three days in advance, if sealed in container


  • 1/2 cup flavorless oil (vegetable)
  • 2 whole eggs, plus one yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon anise extract
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream, optional
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds