I had grand intentions yesterday. I was going to do so many things, starting with writing 1000 words. I was going to do laundry, and take a shower, and walk the dogs, and go to a meditation class… Yep, just as soon as I wrote those 1000 words, I was going to do ALL the things.


When S got home from work, I was still mostly in my pajamas. No shower, no dog walks, no laundry, no meditation class. But darn close to 1000 words, each and every one of them a struggle.

I also hadn’t planned dinner or gone to the store, so it was time to make do with what we had. That included half a bag of seafood medley and some brown rice noodles. I was not inspired, but I knew that: a) if I didn’t use up the seafood medley, it would probably sit in S’s freezer forever and b) as long as I made it spicy enough, she’d eat it happily. So this recipe is mostly me thinking, “gotta use up the seafood, too lazy to do something serious with it, I’ll just cook it with red pepper flakes and it’ll be fine.” (Spoiler alert: It was more than fine.)

I started by boiling some water for the rice noodles, while letting the seafood medley defrost for a few minutes. When the water boiled, I took it off the heat and tossed the rice noodles in. While they cooked, I preheated a frying pan for a minute, then melted a chunk of butter, maybe two tbsps, in it. When the butter bubbled, I added two cloves of chopped up garlic, a generous tsp of red pepper flakes, and a little kosher salt, and swirled it around. When it seemed nicely done — garlic browned a little, red pepper flakes smelling sizzled — I added the seafood. I let it cook for just about five minutes, during which time I drained and plated my pasta. Then I zested a lemon onto the seafood, added some paprika, squeezed a lemon half into it, and topped the rice noddles with it. I finished it by sprinkling on some chopped-up cilantro.

I called S in from the garden, but I started eating without waiting. It was a good thing she came promptly, because by the time I was two bites into mine, I knew that if I finished eating mine before she came in, I would start eating hers. It was so, so, so good. I think it was the paprika or maybe it was the lemon zest. But it was spicy and smoky and tangy and buttery and absolutely delicious.

I feel like there ought to be a writing metaphor there: something about flavors mixing or finding balance or maybe just the serendipity of using what comes to hand? But if there is, I can’t find it.

And I was going to post a snippet, but we’re in spoilers galore territory — of all the words I wrote in the past couple days, I don’t think I can share any of them without giving things away that might be more fun as surprises. Hmm… well, maybe tiny spoilers…

Fen felt like she’d stepped inside Sleeping Beauty’s castle. All they needed were some serious brambles with killer thorns to make the whole place a scene out of a nightmare. 

She set her chin. “Come on, Luke. Give the ghost to Trevvi. I need your help.” 

“Ghost?” Trevvi took a step back, hands raising in protest. 

Luke lifted his hands away from his chest, pausing for a second with one finger moving as if gently disentangling tiny claws from his tunic. He extended his cupped hands to Trevvi. “Here.” 

Trevvi stepped farther away. “What?” 

“It’s a kitten,” Luke said. “An invisible kitten.” 

Trevvi scowled. “Nitrogen narcosis. Your dive pattern must have malfunctioned.” 

Nitrogen again. Fen really needed to learn more about chemistry. Or was it biology? Maybe it was both. 

“I’m not hallucinating,” Luke replied. “Take it.” 

Miss?” Trevvi’s pleading look asked for her help. 

Instead a corner of Fen’s mouth lifted. She tilted her head in the direction of Luke’s seemingly empty hands and said, “Really, take it.” 

Reluctantly, as if unwillingly playing along with their delusions, Trevvi held out his right hand. Fen could see the exact moment when he felt the kitten as his eyes opened wider with shock before he hastily enclosed it in a nest of both hands. “What the hell,” he muttered, drawing it closer to his body. 

“Exactly.” Fen grabbed Luke’s empty hand and drew him into the courtyard. 

Had I mentioned the invisible kitten before? I almost — almost! — know what she’s doing now. In fact, I think I’m pretty close to knowing what the whole thing looks like now. I just need to find the words to share it. And I’m working hard on that, I swear. 43,000 words so I’m not quite at the end game, but I’m definitely in the murky middle.