I’ve been working on a memoir for years. I started writing it in college, when my “Food in Literature” instructor assigned a food memoir. She asked us to write a story about a piece of our lives that centered around food and included a recipe.

Before that, I was wondering what the hell to do with my life. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to culinary school, if I wanted to teach, or if I should get a business degree.

Although I was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America’s pastry program, I didn’t think the price-tag fit the wages I’d earn upon graduation. I wanted to string words together in meaningful ways, but I didn’t think I wanted to teach English. And, although I wanted to own a business, I didn’t want to sterilize myself with classes on profit-and-loss statements. I decided to major in English, and work in food.

Lynn Houston’s “Food in Literature” course at Chico State taught me where I fit in the world. I discovered that words and heart and food could combine on a page, and co-exist within a single person. I felt like I could breathe my own air a little easier; like I was  capitol-O-kay.

I started reading Anne Lamott, Ruth Reichl, and Laura Esquivel. I started writing. I wrote a personal blog about my life. I opened Blush. But all along, I was waiting.

I couldn’t really write as long as I was numb. I couldn’t be open or brave enough to sort through the emotions my memoir was likely to stir as I wrote it, while simultaneously working myself to the bone and maintaining unhealthy connections.

Because I learned long ago that your life is best lived honestly, I let it all go. All of it. I decided I’d rather throw the boat off course than pretend I wanted to be on it. I wanted to tell the truth.

The truth is, I want to write again. My heart is coming back to life. I’m surrounded by people I love. I have a “normal” job. I’m done striving to “be” anything. I just want to tell a story—my particular story, and I want to tell it well. I’ve been waiting for this.

A wise man once said something like, “Setting priorities has nothing to do with saying no to things. It’s about saying yes so strongly to one thing, that there’s just no room for all the others.”

My “yes” (cheesy as it may be) is to live in a way that is significant, and subtly so. I don’t need to change the world overnight, but I do need to hug my babies more often. I do want to love my husband well. I want to heal and breathe and dance and tell the truth. And the truth is, I don’t really give a shit if I say interesting things about food… if I’m not also saying meaningful things about living.


Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at riceflourmemoirs.com