Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Some people wait to have children until everything is secure. They have their graduate degrees, their 401 K, their house and their habits. That's not how I did it, so I guess I can't step into those shoes, but I'd imagine that progression might feel safe in some way. With that schedule, there is time to read the parenting books before the egg is even fertilized, and of course you take infant CPR before the baby arrives.
But I'd go so far as to say that I've never met someone who was truly prepared to become a parent. No matter how complete your check list might be, I'd venture that you, like the rest of us, will have your ass kicked by your transition into parenthood. Deciding to bring a human into the world is one hell of a risk.

I'm a girl who really likes her safety. I don't let the credit card get out of control, and all of you who know me in the real world are aware of how hard it is to get me to drive on a snowy road.

But I've been thinking a lot about risk lately. I keep running into people who are doing the bravest things. I'm so impressed. It makes me feel a little bit more courageous.

It's hard to pull me out of my warm kitchen, and I get down on myself for it. I think, come on Alana, take a risk, for once.

And then I think about the early New Mexico night, a little over seven years ago, when I walked around the block from the Planned Parenthood, utterly stunned, with my boyfriend Joey. We were a month or two past our college graduation, and the world was as wide as the sky. It was summer, and at that moment we walked down Onate St., completely different people than we had been ten minutes ago.

"Okay. Let's do this then."

And that was it. We went to the mall and played video games for two hours before we called our parents. Somehow the only thing to do was to shoot aliens for a while. It made sense then, and it makes sense now, knowing what we were in for.

But although we weren't prepared, we made a choice, and I'd say that that was a risk if ever I saw one.

I'm starting to think that the heart of risk taking is vulnerability, and that the decision to become a parent might just be the clearest example of bringing that vulnerability on. But it doesn't stop there. Once Sadie, and then Rose came into my life, there was so much more to lose, and just walking down the street started to seem a little risky.

Over the last couple of months, I've been working on my risk taking skills. I speak up when I wouldn't normally. I let the kids go out in the cold morning without a hat, sometimes. Little risks, I know, but have patience with me.

Sadie started a lot of this, that night on Onate street. And I try to respect that- and to see that I better be someone who can show her that it's a good thing to take a chance. I know that safety has its place, but my life is not it. At least not right now.

So I'm thinking that my warm kitchen might actually be the riskiest place to be after all. I've given notice at my job, and I'm going to jump in to this thing that seems to make me so happy.

And to you, I confess that something has changed. It's taken me a few weeks to admit this, but if I can't tell you, who can I tell? Writing this is a bit terrifying, but in my own mind, without apologies or statements starting with "but", I'm calling myself a writer. A writer who writes about food.

Thank you. More food tomorrow, I promise.


  1. Alana, you are VERY brave. And I think your risks are what have brought you to where you are now and will continue to challenge you and help you grow. Congratulations on giving notice and following what feels right for you.

  2. We'll be here to read all your writing. Congrats!

  3. Congratulations on this decision! I am so happy and excited for you - you're doing the right thing and your writing and cooking are both completely lovely. Go get em tiger.

  4. Best news I've heard all week. I've been sending posts of your around my office all week. This means there will be more to share, yes?

  5. I love it, Alana. Well done.
    Here are the words I say to myself when I'm feeling insecure about the choices I've made:

    Be bold. Impress yourself, and others will follow. Never dwell, only learn. Adapt and overcome. Experience, observe, imagine.

    I hope they help... but I'm confident you'll realize soon that you've made the right choice, and find yourself very grateful for it.

  6. Hi, (from a fellow unraveller)

    What a moving little piece on choosing to become a parent. Similarly (but not quite the same!) I found myself pregnant whilst doing my degree and chose to go ahead with it thus my graudation photo has me and my daughter in it!

    The biggest and steepest learning curve I have EVER been on has been having children (I now have two) I have learnt so much about myself and my life having children.

    I have grown up bringing up a child it feels like and fought hard to have a life/interest outside being "mummy". I do like taking risks (hence the fact I went ahead with it!), but it is harder to take risks now I find, although I have also just handed in my notice at a job because I want to dedicate more time to my art!



  7. Oh, I got chills and a little misty from reading this. Good for you, Alana! I am so excited for you. Love you!

  8. "People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don't you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do?

    They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honor of my craft.

    The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entiwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it... and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied... and it is all one.

    I tell about myself, and how I ate breat on a hasting hillside, or drank red wine in a room now blown to bits, and it happens without my willing it that I am telling too about the people with me then, and their other deeper needs for love and happiness.

    There is food in the bowl, and more often than not, because of what honesty I have, there is hourishment in the heart, to feed the wilder, more insistent hungers. We must eat. If, in the face of that dread fact, we can find other nourishment, and tolerance and compassion for it, we'll be no less full of human dignity.

    There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. And that is my answer, when people ask me: Why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love?"

    This is MFK Fisher copied out for you in a word of encouragemnet.

  9. Thank you for this Helen. And thank you all for your cheers. I can't even express how much they means to me. But I'm going to invite every single one of you to dinner, I swear.

  10. I'm so proud of you!! Your blog is so wonderful - I can't wait to see where it goes from here. Love you!

  11. Reading this made me cry for so many reasons. Selfishly I cried because I envy that you took the leap and I wish I could do the same. I also cried because of your eloquence and your talent. I feel honored that I have known you since high school and am now seeing you doing what you do best....writing, cooking, mothering and nurturing. Thank you for your bravery. You are so talented and I can't wait to read about your journeys!!!

  12. I can totally relate with the risk-taking thing. Good for you for taking the leap. Like I said elsewhere, you are an inspiration.

  13. Wait a sec, I could have written that! Ah, risk. Taking risks has become a veritable hobby of mine, lately.
    You ARE a writer. And I love your work. I LOVE your pages in our paper. Have you considered writing up a book proposal? Alternately, put together a book and make in through Blurb?

  14. I moved to Brooklyn, for no good reason. I continue to be stunned by how well it's turning out.
    GO RISK!!!