From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy Podcast
A Conversation with Emily Gould

A Conversation with Emily Gould


I’ve been following Emily Gould’s writing for so long that I can barely remember a pre-Emily Gould time in the internet discourse. She has been an influence and a role model, if I’m being honest, and her vulnerability, honesty, humor, and growth have been so wonderful to watch over the years. She’s done so much: personal blogging, Gawker blogging, a memoir (And the Heart Says Whatever), her two novels (Friendship, Perfect Tunes), and her essays at The Cut and other outlets. She’s also been a publisher, with Emily Books, which focused on first-person women’s writing.

Food comes up everywhere, even when not the focus—even when it’s maybe just buying a bottle of water when you shouldn’t, when the money’s not really there. It’s there in her models of domesticity and adult living. We talked about all of that, and she gave me great advice on a recent situation that transpired on Twitter, and I’m very grateful to her for that openness. Listen above, or read below.

Alicia: Hi, Emily. Thank you so much for taking the time out to come on.

Emily: Oh, it's my pleasure. I'm so excited to talk to you.

Alicia: Can you tell me about where you grew up and what you ate?

Emily: I grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. I had the experience that I think a lot of people around my age had where I was raised by parents who had kind of been a little bit hippie-tinged in their — the way that they thought about food and eating, and had sort of gone through phases of — like my mom had every single cookbook that Mollie Katzen has ever published, from Moosewood to The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. 

And so it was a combination of that kind of sort of cheese and bulgur casserole type of ‘70s vegetarian food, and also the food that my parents had grown up eating, which was a sort of — I don't know. I remember my mom's sort of classic, weeknight dishes when I was growing up were stovetop mac and cheese with bread crumbs on it and a side of broccoli, steamed broccoli with lemon and butter, which is actually an totally awesome meal. Yeah, just stuff like that. Not a lot of meat in the rotation. A ton of pasta, because it was the ‘80s. 

I mean, my mom's a really good cook. My dad is the son of assimilated, very assimilated Jews from Long Island who — my grandmother really did not cook at all. And her one signature dish, other than a brisket that she would make for Passover, but her other signature, maybe a dinner party dish that she would make is chicken that was somehow basted with I would say French dressing, the orange kind that comes in lemon. Disgusting, overtly disgusting. But they were great at ordering all of the right things from a deli. That was a real skill. So yeah, that's basically my Cloner legacy. 

I'm half Jewish and half WASP, like so many of the absolute worst people in the world. [Laughs.] And my maternal grandparents were actually really, really, really really good cooks and who always had a green salad with every meal with a really garlicky dressing made and the same giant wooden salad bowl, and ate a lot of food that they grew themselves because they always had a garden in their backyard. Yeah, the stronger, I guess, culinary influence. And my grandmother grew up on a farm and taught my mom how to cook, and my mom — That's why my mom is an actual good cook.

Alicia: [Laughs.] Well, how did food become kind of a focal point in your life? Because while it's never the explicit focus of your writing, even when you wrote your really great essay about domestic goddesses for The Cut, you were writing more kind of about womanhood than food. 

But food is always there, and even in that — the visions of a perfect future that you wrote about in your 2014 essay ‘How Much My Novel Cost Me,’ as you can tell, I went through your whole oeuvre yesterday. The food is always there. And how did that happen?

Emily: I guess, because I think a lot about domesticity and sort of the idealized domesticity, what making a beautiful home and life can mean, especially for women, and how that butts up against our lived realities. 

I think something really, really formative for me was having a job in my early 20s where I worked at a publishing house that helped — that mostly published cookbooks, which I talked about in that domestic goddesses essay. 

I re-read that domestic goddess essay recently, too. It's such a time of going back with our lens of right now and looking at our past work and being like, ‘Oh, cringe! Oh my god.’ I feel like I was really gross about Nigella in that essay, and I just talk about her boobs a lot. But actually, Nigella is a great writer and I sort of failed to focus on that part of it because — so, the publisher who I worked for was the American publisher of Nigella and also, I guess, Jamie Oliver, so people like that.

Yeah, so this was when I was first living with a boyfriend. I was sort of playing house. Really, there's no better word for what I was doing. Well, I mean, I was actually cooking food and actually making dinner. But we weren't really building a life together. We were just sort of having this sort of fantasy of ourselves as adults.

I was cooking from these cookbooks and sort of imagining myself into the role of adult woman who is the one who determines what the household will feel like and tastes like and smell like, and that stuff seems so — it's politically charged. It's emotionally important. It's care work. Everything is sort of encapsulated in how you feed your family. I was imagining myself and this boyfriend as a family, trying to imagine myself into a future, I guess.

Alicia: Right. 

And, I mean, you are a mom now. Have you thought about how you kind of conjured the idea of what that would be like versus what the reality of it is? I mean, I know you do. You write about it in your newsletter all the time. [Laughs.]

Emily: [Sad trombone noises.] Actually, I wrote an essay about this. Such a bummer essay, but I wrote an essay about this in a really great Charlotte Druckman anthology, Women on Food.

Alicia: Yes, I have it. Yeah.

Emily: And I just wrote about how different my reality is now from the fantasy that I had as someone who was single and really had very few caregiving responsibilities. 

I mean, the pandemic has been really hard on my love of food. The Helen Rosner essay about how she has sort of given up on loving cooking really resonated with me, because, I mean, sometimes I'll go through phases where I'll get really interested in new recipes again. But mostly it is just this really dull chore for me right now, every aspect of — from not being able to easily shop it at different markets, and to just my kids, trying to manage my kid’s relationships to food, i.e., hoping that they'll eat some of it so they then don't come to me at bedtime saying, ‘Mama, I'm hungry.’ And it's like, ‘Wel, you had the last three hours to take a single bite of the completely wonderful meal that I made for you, darling, and now you're gonna eat Sydney's yogurt that comes in a tube.’ A lot of tube yogurt, it's not something I'm particularly proud of. 

Yeah, it's a bummer. The specific, very specific future that I had fantasized in kind of a joking way in that essay about money that I wrote when I was kind of — I guess I was working on that essay when I was turning 30, or maybe in my very early 30s and wasn't married, didn't have kids, really struggling with every aspect of my life and career and finances and just figuring — trying to figure out how to move forward with all of that stuff. And I thought that I wanted to be a novelist who lived in a brownstone, was married to my then-boyfriend, Keith, and we had children. And I wrote all day, and then served them a delicious dinner at night. And I think I said, ‘Like Jennifer Egan, but I don't know if she cooks. Like Laurie Colwin, but not dead.’

And I guess some parts of that wistful dream have come true. Not the brownstone. [Laughter.] Like everything that you can sort of succeed at or attain in life, you finish one level of video game and the reward is that you get to the next level of video game that just is harder and has bigger, scarier monsters. [Laughter.]

So, I feel like I have actually — the brownstone is a big exception. But I'm married to Keith. We have two wonderful, although very irritating, children. And I do cook dinner every night. And I do write novels. It's all happening except I really, really hate most parts of it. [Laughter.] And I'm still the same person who managed to basically squander a fortune in the service of writing a book that I would rather have each of my fingernails removed with pliers than have to open and read again. I mean, no regrets, I guess.

Alicia: No, I mean, it's interesting, because, I mean, obviously, for you, you're a person who's written so much about your life. And so there is all this documentation of what you thought your life would be, and then what it becomes. Which, for me, is always what I've wanted to read. This is why I love the internet. This is why I was on LiveJournal. I want to know the journey of a person's life. Having someone ask you, ‘How did your dreams measure up to your reality?’ is — it's not the intention in being a writer, I guess, to have it all add up. It's just to be — to write it down.

Emily: Yeah, I mean, I want to allow for the possibility that everyone is always changing and fully growing, etc. I feel exactly the same way about blogging, and — in all of its forms and the Internet that you do. All of my online writing is sort of, to be maximally pretentious about it, sort of a durational performance project that is the documentation of my, at least my own

narrativization of my own experiences. 

But yeah, it is jarring sometimes to come up against a younger version of yourself, and what she thought she wanted, or what she thought was gonna be — what would make her happy?

Alicia: Right.

Yeah, it's the thing that everyone actually has gone — been through, but not everyone has documented. But I think documentation is important and powerful and necessary. 

And I mean, you were talking about the brownstone. And one of the other things you write about with such clarity and honesty is money, and I have never written about money. And this would probably be the first time I'm acknowledging that I'm a person who's been in and out of debt. Of course, ever since I decided to be a freelance writer, it's basically a game of taking on debt and then paying it off. But I feel I'm not supposed to be that kind of person. I'm supposed to be a person who has a handle on these kinds of things. 

But for you, why has it been important to talk about the reality of money and being a writer, and how those things don't often make sense together?

Emily: I think I focused on it so much, because it was part of my — really, my project for a long time starting in, I guess, my late 20s was this sort of commitment to radical honesty in writing. 

And not just my writing. I was so interested in and committed to sort of the potential power of First Person narratives as tools for, I guess, communicating. I really felt so strongly that if people could just have more exposure to female interiority and female subjectivity, the world could change around that. And I felt it was just something that had been really missing from my education and my culture, cultural exposure thus far. And so, that's why I started this publishing project where I mostly published first person memoir and neo-memoir novels. And I was so committed to it. 

Maybe as sort of the larger culture caught up to it in various ways, I started to move away from it. And right now, I feel really, pretty far from it. I mean, the pendulum might swing. I might come back. But I think I also hit sort of, for myself, the limits of what I was comfortable with, in terms of being that transparent, being that available, letting people into that extent. I don't know. 

There's that Magnetic Fields song and it goes, ‘No one will ever love you honestly. No one will ever love you for your honesty.’ It took a while for that to land for me. I mean, people might appreciate your honesty. And people might have a voyeuristic relationship with your honesty. And if they're honest with themselves, they might realize that if they're hate-reading you, they're still reading. 

I don't get off on being a provocateur. I know, some people really like to make other people angry with their writing. And that's not me. Unfortunately, I think that I'd be much more successful and prolific if I got off on making people angry. But I just don't, I don't get anything out of it. And I do want to be loved. I'm a Libra with Aries moon, Aries rising. And that's just something that I know about myself now. 

I would not write that essay today, because I just wouldn't be able to get it up to be that brave and that honest. I know what the consequences are. I also feel there's just more at stake than just me now, because I have a family. And because I have my best friend who I ran a business with for so long. And I still feel if I really, really screw up, it'll ricochet onto her. I can't risk her life and livelihood or my consequences of my — me running my mouth off for my family, my kids. It's just changing calculus.

Alicia: For sure, no. 

And I mean, that was such a helpful answer to me, because I feel I'm still in the idea that being honest can change how people think. But maybe I'm learning now that it doesn't actually have that effect.

Emily: Eventually, with a lot of sort of reflection and private writing about this kind of thing and therapy is that I do still — I have the same ideals. I definitely have the same ideals. I think the path there has to be less individualistic and more reflective, as with everything. The power of one person exposing the material conditions of their existence is it's powerful, but it's intrinsically limited. 

I mean, imagine how much more powerful if every single freelancer you knew published a very straightforward accounting of — or just tax returns. I mean, Jesus Christ, it's not like you have to write an essay. There's already a spreadsheet. If every publication had a masthead that just said everyone's salary right after their job title that's much more straightforward then a soul-searching essay.

Alicia: Right, no. 

I think we come up a lot against all these weird ideas as freelance writers, especially how there's this constant — people constantly saying, ‘No one can really make a living as a writer. Everyone is secretly doing something else.’ There's just constant conspiracy theories about how people make a living. That's why I think I do feel honesty is such an important part of it. 

But you're right that it doesn't matter if it's only a few people, because there's still going to be these conspiracy theories about how writers make a living that are, for whatever reason, super common and pervasive. Yeah, I did a weird CNBC video once that I really regret about money.

Emily: Oh, yeah? I need to Google it. Interesting. I would not have—

Alicia: No, please don't. It's horrible. 

But I was at a point where I really had — I think it was 2018. I didn't really have enough work. 2018 was the year where I actually got money back as a freelancer, which never happens so that tells you how much money I made. And so a friend’s sister, a friend I used to work with at New York Magazine, her sister worked at CNBC and was, ‘You're interesting. Will you do this?’ I think she was buying bachelorette party cupcakes off of me that had little chocolate penises that I made. And she was like, ‘Do you want to do this thing about money?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, fine. I'll do the video about money.’

My picture’s the icon for the series. People send me pictures all the time of it. I'm like, ‘I didn't know it would have such a long life.’ But luckily, I don't think anyone in my field has actually seen it until I've talked about it now, probably. But just such an embarrassing, stupid thing. 

But again, just this idea that ‘I can be super honest and transparent, and that will be a useful thing.’ And it's like, ‘No, it actually isn't. It just makes me feel a little bit naked all the time.’ So yeah, it is what it is. [Laughs.]

But kind of in a related vein you wrote a really amazing piece for The Cut about shame. And one of the lines was, ‘Being hated quickly became something that I took for granted as the price of doing business.’ And I feel like in a similar vein to being honest, there is this kind of anticipation of being hated if you're a writer on the internet. I don't know if you feel — how your thought, thinking on that has changed.

Emily: Oh my God, I feel since I wrote that it's only gotten worse a little bit. I mean, I spent most of 2019 working on that essay. I sound crazy. It took me seven or eight months just writing various drafts of that essay to finally figure out what I wanted to say with it, and it was excruciating the whole time. I mean, I had a really, really good editor who I loved and had a quasi-therapeutic relationship with. But it was really hard to make myself go back there. And especially because I'd written sort of versions of it before, so I had to figure out what do I want to say this time that's different and also not plagiarize myself?

So I've already said, I want to be loved. I don't want to be hated. But I guess at that point, I had accepted that being hated was, yeah, the price of admission. It really makes me feel so sad to think about all of the people for whom being hated is not the price of admission structurally and never has been and how just the-

Obviously, this should go without saying, but it shouldn't be that way for anyone. It's tricky. My friends tease me sometimes because I have a very — I have a sort of knee jerk reaction to anyone who is the main character of the day. And I feel automatically defensive of that person, kind of no matter how much they suck, because I just know how bad it can feel to be that person. And of course, they're not necessarily experiencing it the same way that I would or that I have. My friend Jessica calls it ‘your Eva Braun thing.’ [Laughter.] I’m just like, seriously like, ‘Guys, come on. She's not that bad.’ [Laughter.] I don't actually feel that way about literally Eva Braun. 

It's so hard and so complicated. Everyone has their own relationship to attention and notoriety, and sort of how much they're willing to put up with in order to get their sort of often very paltry rewards of being public in any way. But I guess the more experienced I get in this realm, the trade off just really does not seem worth it. I often wonder what it would take for me, what would be the final straw for me to just really say goodbye to it forever and be a recluse who only emerges every five years or so, does the bare minimum of book publicity and then goes back to my monastic cabin somewhere.

You can tell that that's not my actual personality. I love people and being in the world and connecting people and connecting ideas. The price is high. It's too high. It's too high for almost everyone. But I'm currently still willing to pay it. I don't know how much longer I will be willing to. But for now, I still am. 

Alicia: It's the complicated question of the day, I suppose. 

I mean, everyone's like, ‘I want to just be so successful that I cannot be online.’ And it's like, I don't know if I would — there's a level for me where I would not be online. I don't know, for myself, whether that exists. And now, I have to ask myself that question all the time. Yeah, it's a weird one. 

Well, to get back to food, and I'm sorry, I asked you like a bunch of heavy questions about- 

Emily: You can tell I just want to talk about you and what the last couple of weeks have been like for you.

Alicia: [Laughs.] Yeah, it was weird. And I mean, I think that's why I'm asking you the questions I'm asking you. And I don't want to have an advice session about it. But I think I'm asking you those questions because I'm interested in what the price is that I'm willing to pay to have attention. And I don't know if it's necessarily attention, or just a career. And feeling a little bit blamed for my own ‘success,’ feeling like people think that I did something specific to make people pay attention to me, other than just write things. 

Which is, I think, a stranger feeling even than someone coming after me for pretending to be someone I'm not. I mean, that was something that was easy to disprove. So while it was strange and traumatic, it was easy to disprove. And so it wasn't that difficult. But the thing that really bothers me is when people act like I have done something to bring this upon me. And there's some sort of ‘both sides have a point’ which has emerged, which was really strange because I feel the other person did not have any point at all. 

So that's why I think I'm focused on these questions, because it's like, ‘What does it cost to be honest? And what does it cost to accept that people aren't going to like you when we all want to be liked?’ I have a Libra moon, a Libra Mars. I don't know if that makes any difference. 

And yeah, it's just this thing where it's — I'm constantly asking myself, ‘Have I done something to make people hate me, and not even just hate me but also think that I am a person without feelings?’ Because that's another kind of strain of thing. And that emerged as well last week, and was just kind of an offshoot of what Beejoli did, which was that some people just didn't think I was deserving of sympathy, or — I don't know if they didn't think I was deserving, but they express zero sympathy in acknowledging the events, but then express zero sympathy. And I was like, ‘I don't really know how to deal with that.’ That's a weirder thing for me to deal with, is feeling like this person doesn't think I was wronged in any way. 

All the offshoots of the situation were more significant to me than the situation itself, if that makes sense. And so, of course, that's why, yeah, I'm asking these questions. Do I need to be less available? Do I need to care less, or is this just what it is to be a writer? I don't know.

Emily: Do you want advice? 

Alicia: Of course! Yeah! [Laughs.]

Emily: I used to always give advice, and sometimes I need to check myself because obviously not everyone — sometimes I don't know what I'm talking about. But with this situation, I feel I have-

Alicia: Yeah, you have experience.

Emily: I have some things I potentially could share, and they might work for you or not. 

I mean, I think part of what you're coming up against is that you are hitting the point in your career, and your sort of being known as a writer and a person where people think that they can talk about you and that you are not part of that conversation. You are existing on some lofty plane, where you will not be a witness to every interaction that takes place about you or your work or what you mean. [Laughs.] And that's a weird thing. It can feel really bad. 

Its consequences are not necessarily all bad. And it’s totally normal to experience it — It feels terrible. It feels terrible. I think one of the weirdest things that I've had to sort of doula friends through who are just having their first book published, or their first big article that makes a splash is that success and failure are flip sides of the same coin. And oftentimes in the moment of them, they feel — they can feel identical. And you have to sort of mourn what you thought it might feel like to be known. Because I think people expect that it will feel like being perfectly understood and loved in all of your particulars, and just unconditionally, positively, warmly received. 

And it doesn't feel like that. Instead, it can feel like not being a person. You become an idea rather than a person to people. And that means that it's time to set your notifications to really tight, really, and decide whose feedback actually matters to you. It's probably going to be a really short list. Later, you can focus on remaining just open enough, and having still some appetite for novelty and new connections and new friends. But at a time of sort of peak attention, and I want to say crisis but it's not necessarily crisis ’cause the crisis can be success too, you need to just lock it down and focus on the people who are the real people who care — who you care about, and who matters to you and what their opinion of you is.

And none of this requires you to be a perfect person who's always right, and who has these perfect opinions and political positions and behaviors. It doesn't require your writing to be perfect or flawless, either. You can even have been wronged. It's just focusing on your core self, the people who affirm and enhance that core self, and the people — and the communities that you actually want to be a part of rather than the sort of larger community of people who want to have some aspects of themselves associated with you.

Does that make sense? 

Alicia: No, it makes complete sense. 

I have a good friend who's another food writer, and he has another — he has his first book coming out this year. But he had a kind of incident similar to what I dealt with last week. And basically what he's done is to stop tweeting, stop posting anything. And I'm like, ‘I don't know. That's not in me.’ But I can shut out the people that I don't care about. And that's definitely what I need to do. And that makes so much sense, that it's just kind of a point at which you need to just only focus on the echo chamber. And sometimes I'm like, ‘I don't know if that's fair. Maybe I should hear what other people have to say.’ But yeah, it's too damaging and too distracting to know, I think.

Emily: Yeah. 

You give something up, for sure. Yeah. To me, it seems the only viable path forward. Yeah. Seems the greatest minds of my generation seem totally warped by having to be constantly responsible to a lot of people for their every utterance. It's not how our brains are meant to deal with social interaction.

Alicia: Not at all. 

Well, thank you for that.

Emily: I’m a noted psychologist and a neurologist, so. Done a lot of research on this.

Alicia: No, but thank you so much for that. I honestly was conscious of not wanting to ask you for advice. I was like, ‘No, this is an interview about your work.’ But I had this kind of subtextual thought while I was writing these questions, where I'm like, ‘I'm asking her for advice without — ’ [Laughter.]

Emily: I like giving advice. And I don't get to give it as often as I like, ’cause that — my best friend is like, ‘I just want to complain to you. Don't try to solve everything.’ I’m like, ‘But it’s my honest opinion! I know how everyone should live. Just not me, but everyone else.’

Alicia: Well, to actually get back to your work and your work that has been in the food sphere, which was — you did a series for The Awl, I guess, like 10 years ago, The Awl obviously being the website that everyone mourns, now. ‘Cooking the Books,’ where you cooked food with novelists usually. And I think if you were doing this now,for a website, I think it would be — people would love it. People love watching people cook online now, which is, I don't think was the case back then. But what made you want to get into that, and what kind of was the — not just the inspiration, but what was your goal with that?

Emily: My friend Val, Valerie Temple, is the filmmaker. Or she had a camera, I guess. And she was living in Philly at the time. And I love her, and we don't get — we didn't get to see each other very often. And we just kind of wanted to have a project together so that she would have an excuse to come up to and be in New York once a month and sleep on my couch. And we would spend the day making this Internet TV show. And then we would go out afterwards. And it was our friendship reconnecting time. 

I mean, you can't tell from the quality of this thing. Because it's so sad that we were making this thing before everyone could make a much better TV show than that on their phones now. We were making it in 2009 or 2010 or whenever, and we were actually using cameras and shooting in my apartment's kitchen. And we would spend a lot of time putting black paper on the windows so that the lighting wouldn't be appalling, but it was still pretty bad. 

I don't know. I just wanted to have a collaborative project. We had no goals for it. We were really just making it for kicks and for fun. And then, they posted it on The Awl because they were just willing to do that. And I was, ‘Thank you.’ 

We just did it for as long as we could. I mean, it was a lot of work. And we did it basically until I moved out of that apartment, and then I moved into a place where the kitchen was much harder to shoot into. It was more of a galley. Your standard New York kitchen. 

This place was more of a — it's just a third floor of a brownstone, so it was always kind of all one room and — with a little island that we could stand at while we talked to the camera. 

And I just wanted an excuse to talk to writers who I admired, too. I kind of can't believe the people who we got in there. We had some real disasters though. Book publicists are so desperate for any kind of coverage for books, and so when — people sort of pitched us who didn't necessary know what they were getting into. And then it's this completely amateurish situation in someone's apartment. We had some people who were like, ‘Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no.’

I wish I could remember the woman's name. She was a British food writer who, I think, was very sort of famous. An older person who had had a long career being taken very seriously and writing for all of the major food publications. And she got really upset because the pudding that we were making from her cookbook was clearly not going to come out very well. We were like, ‘It's about improvisation and experimentation. We can just fake taking bites of it and saying that it's yummy.’ And she was really sad and really offended. And we never ended up airing her episode. Because I think she thought she was going on a real TV show. 

Yeah, it definitely worked out a lot better with people who are sort of more game — the episode with Tao Lin is still one of my favorites, the one where he’s taking bites off of a cucumber and then spitting them into the salad bowl. That’s an absurdist moment, really, really a moment. 

Anyway, yeah, I loved doing it. I'm probably not a person who's meant to be on camera. But it was still really fun for me to do. 

Alicia: Right.

Well, for you is cooking a political act?

Emily: You sent me this question in advance, so I had some time to think about it. So I've really been thinking about it. 

I mean, I think to the extent that it is for me a political act, it connects back to everything that we talked about before about idealized visions of female domesticity and the people who've had success sort of reclaiming it and making it a career. And I didn't end up going in that direction. I think the path sort of forked for me in a way that foreclosed that direction. And now, I feel for me not cooking would be much more of a political act. 

I mean, my husband is a — I really don't want to sound like one of those people who's like, ‘Well, my husband really shares every responsibility.’ Also good for you, and also I just don't believe you. That’s not structurally possible. And if it is, it's just made possible by money, not him being an intrinsically better feminist. 

They're things that he does, and there are things that I do. And cooking is definitely a thing that I've always done. And when we were much younger, I really thought — I hated the idea of having anyone else's input in the kitchen, or input in what we would eat and what kind of groceries we would buy. And I wanted to be solely responsible for it, and have it be my thing and have something else be very, very discreetly his thing. 

And now I'm just like, ‘Look, somebody needs to heat up these broccoli nuggets. It does not have to be me. I'm not better at that.’ And I get no joy from it. And it's not a creative act for me. To get back to the place where cooking would be a part, me using the creative part of my brain in a satisfying way, but I've been thinking and talking so much lately about social reproduction, social reproductive theory, feminism, and anything that's just something that is the baseline of what you do to keep the machine running for another day. That doesn't feel something that I necessarily need to be involved in. 

So for me, yeah, I would like to — we're just doing this whole interview about food and I'm like, ‘I want to think about food less. I want to grocery — be involved with grocery shopping less, and I want to figure out a way to make that sustainable for my family, for everyone's family.’ I no longer have a vision of myself typing away at my novel all day, and then serving my family the delicious homemade food at night that they gleefully gobble up and say, ‘Thank you, Mother!’ ‘cause no aspect of that is realistic. Feel all of it should be taking place in a brownstone. That'd be really cool. I'm just putting that out there to the universe, Please, $2.5 million dollar brownstone, fall into my lap somehow. Climb into my lap like a warm puppy and just stay there.

Yeah. Probably not gonna happen. I’m just putting it out there.

Alicia: [Laughs.] Well, thank you so much for coming on. And I wish that we could have talked about your novels, even — Ok, I haven't read Perfect Tunes yet. But I want to, and I read Friendship years ago, and I really, — I loved it. I don't know how you feel about it now. But I loved it when I read it. 

Emily: I'm still a fan.

Alicia: Ok, good. [Laughs.] I was like,’ I can't tell which book was the pliers book.’

Emily: And The Heart Says Whatever. Which people like. It's not a bad book. It's just, for me, it's the book that I wrote when I was 28. Do you want to read a tweet that you wrote when you were 20? No.

Alicia: Yeah. No, I understand. 

But yes, thank you so much, again, for taking the time out. And for the advice.

Emily: More where that came from? Get at me, hit me up anytime. I'm your loyal subscriber and I'm at your disposal.

Alicia: [Laughs.] Thank you so much.

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From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy Podcast
A weekly food and culture podcast from writer Alicia Kennedy, who talks to writers, chefs, and more about their lives, careers, and how food fits into it all.