Letter from the Editor

November 20, 2020
hands holding envelopes
Art by Kim Salac

As this year’s November calendar page curls toward a smudged and wrinkled 26th square, I’m reminded of Thanksgiving day. With a continued pandemic preventing many of the traditions that seem to define this Day of Overeating, I’ve found myself fondly considering the holiday’s less celebrated routines.

In my family, for example, it’s tradition to bake pumpkin pie from the same recipe each year. The final product is a pie rich in the warmth of cloves and cinnamon, with a flaky homemade crust that melts in your mouth beneath a smothering — no more, no less —  of whipped cream. Somewhere in the kitchen, nestled between the spill-stained pages of a blue floral notebook, a handwritten version of the recipe exists. But every year, without fail, the notebook sits largely unnoticed, dusted haphazardly with flour and ignored in favor of gathering ingredients from memory. 

This is, in my opinion, one of the most underappreciated practices of Thanksgiving. Sure, cutting the turkey is a fun little test of the knife’s durability. And yes, the annual promotion of one cousin from the kid’s table to the adult’s is a momentous (albeit unspoken) occasion. But for entertainment value alone, recipe recall takes the cake.

Sometimes, it’s my mom, shuffling into the pantry with a can of pumpkin puree in one hand and a giant, unexplained spoon in the other. Stopping in her tracks, she questions, “What’d I come in here for, again?” And just minutes later, it’s me, doing a 180 as I realize I’ve completely forgotten which spice I set out to grab… perhaps it was nutmeg, no, allspice, no... It may seem counterproductive or frustrating or dull — but oftentimes, it is this very parsing out of thoughts that helps us concoct the perfect pie.

In this volume of Iris, many of our writers parse their thoughts in a similar way. Some feel stuck in the mid-pantry pause, like in “You”, where Lydia Rose searches for guidance after heartbreak, and pleads, “It was my gut that told me the truth. What’s the truth?” In “Dinosaur Party for the Last Man”, Lexi Toufas depicts a dull and jarring dystopia with little hope to escape. Then, in “When the Tide Doesn’t Notice”, freelancer Addie Gilligan struggles to maintain optimism as she grapples with the results of the presidential election.

Walking into the end of the year, other writers pause, reflect, and carry on with newfound certainty. In “Broken Mirror”, Sadie Randall looks back on how codependency has shaped her identity, and makes it a goal to take more time for herself. Chloe Lyda reminisces on times she has been viewed as daunting, eventually settling into the confidence of being one of many unapologetic “Intimidating Women”. Then, eighteen years after its release, Juliana Callen offers “A Few Thoughts on Avril Lavgine’s 'Sk8er Boi'”, her lyrical analysis instilling the 2000s hit with new meaning. Finally, Pasha McGuigan authors “A Sonnet on love from Someone Opposed”, in which she confidently defines love in celestial terms.

While it may be an arduous task, recipe recall is vital to my family’s Thanksgiving meal. It seems that a similar theory holds true in this edition of Iris: when something seems to be missing, answers can often be found in the retracing of steps. After the unforgiving months of this year, Iris writers look into the past, dissect their thoughts, and respond with a sense of self assurance — the pie will turn out just fine.

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Letter From the Editor