this is bread breadth breath

*On this Sunday afternoon, I am standing in my kitchen, which is collecting heat like a greenhouse on this unusually hot day in San Francisco. September is the beginning of an Indian summer. There are piles of books on the kitchen table, a dusty bin full of ski goggles and headlamps and other outdoor contraptions that now seem more nostalgic than utilitarian, and trails of breadcrumbs everywhere, the memento minutiae of yesterday's kitchen craftwork.

*Like most things in life, the work of cooking ends up having little permanence, but food is glaringly ephemeral because we confront its disintegration and disappearance everyday, biding time as food rots in our refrigerator or as it is passes through our mouths in mere seconds. We fight its transience by preserving, canning, and freezing. I fight its transience by photographing. And hoarding. And collecting. And writing it all down. I struggle to accept ephemera. I'm an archivist.

*I sweep away the breadcrumbs, even though I'm tempted to eat them.

*The stove is unusually crowded today. There's the cast iron skillet that's been sitting around for a week, in cleaning limbo (mostly clean, but not completely due to my compulsion to google "cast iron cleaning" every time I use and clean the skillet, just in case I'm doing something wrong) and the kettle that I never seem to take off the stove. Half of the stove is occupied by my laziness. On the other half: a pot of boiling salted water and a pan on low heat, filled with glistening slices of onion. The oven is heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I crack open the window so that I can breathe better.

*"Breathe" is on my to-do list.

*The year has passed by breathlessly. A friend once told me, quite literally, you only inhale; you never seem to exhale. He was commenting on the way I breathe, or the way I don't. I guess I shouldn't be surprised to discover, for the umpteenth time, that how I approach my need for air and food is just about how I approach everything. Inhale everything I possibly can; forget to exhale because there's no time.

*"Remember to exhale," I tell myself.

*Breathing doesn't work like that. It doesn't run on reminders.


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