Instead, I continue to define and develop new opportunities. One of those is with my sister, Betsy. Ever since she had worked as the morning drive radio host for Martha Stewart’s Sirius satellite radio show, we had wanted to do something together in food. But how, when she lived in Ohio and I lived in Florida?
After some thought, we launched our weekly garden-to-table newsletter, “Dishtillery,” in late June 2020. We include food memoir and poetry; recipes that we develop or learned from our mother, a wonderful self-taught cook; gardening advice, which we can do year-round since we plant in near-opposite zones; and interviews with food and beverage makers and artisans who are women, marginalized, and/or underrepresented in their fields.
Putting together “Dishtillery” has not only brought us closer in spirit when we can’t be near each other physically, but it has led to freelance jobs, both solo and as our first paid co-byline. It also allowed us to master new programs and apps.
So while I still mourn my critic’s identity, the pain of losing it recedes along with the pandemic. In its place, other pieces of my self assemble. As long as I’ve been a critic, I’ve also been a poet, an essayist, an educator, and an editor of a literary magazine, as well as a mother, a sister, and a daughter. For the sake of my health, change has been crucial. Embracing it, and understanding that identity is about far more than my career, is what makes me whole.