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#DeezNups and the Meal Kits That Feed Us

Ice Queen Interviews Natalie Sharp

Ice Queen: How've you been?

Natalie: I should say several things before I forget them: One, Halah says hi, and I love you. And I'm sorry I haven't been in touch, but it's not you. And I will reach out soon and we really do mean it about brunch we're just terrible!

Ice Queen: Hi Halah, I love you. Take your time. No rush!

Natalie: Yeah, but that's One, Two— I don't know. Life's on fire. I feel like it's fine. I have a job I like, hooray! And like... things are fine except that they're not, you know? It's one of those, "I'm terrified to go to the grocery store, but [Apocalypse-is-happening-and-life-is-absurd voice] I do make enough money to get groceries delivered!" kinds of things. Do you want to outsource the danger? I don't know. Options.

Ice Queen: [Nodding vigorously] Mhmm, mhmm! Yep, yep, yep. All normal.

Natalie: Yeah, I dunno. My grandma passed away a few weeks ago on my dad's side.

Ice Queen: Oh, I'm so sorry!

Natalie: And I had just started reconnecting with that side of my family. So that was tough. But there's a family reunion in [Location removed for privacy, but probably your town tbh], a place I've never thought about before, at the beginning of August. So I'm excited about that and to just see a bunch of people with my face, some of whom will have my last name also.

Ice Queen: Also, congratulations on your engagement! Those pictures were perfect!

Natalie: I got a photographer because I don't have the skills. And I was like, you know what? This is not a time to have an ego about whether or not I could get her angles. [Both laugh] She knows I can't.

Ice Queen: Good choice!

Natalie: Literally that same day, we were walking the trails around the bed and breakfast— they have 13 or 14 hectares of lavender? Incredible— and when we were walking around and I was like, oh, do you want some pictures? And I tried to take some pictures. She was like, I look so ugly in these! And I was just like, I tried so hard. Someone else is about to do it way better.

Ice Queen: So it was a total, total surprise then?

Natalie: Yeah.

Ice Queen: [Sighs romantically] Loveeee that!

Natalie: Worked out, worked out super well. If you go to Italy and you don't have a city planned, and you want to go stay at the property of some old Italian folks who just bought a house and then like slowly have built things on the property, let me know. I will send you the link because Holy Shit, 10 out of 10 would recommend.

Ice Queen: That sounds amazing. [Leans in] How was the food?

Natalie: Oh my God.

Ice Queen: You still dream of it?

Natalie: [Very suddenly and declaratively] Yo, we had a roast chicken.

[Brief pause]

[Both laugh]

Ice Queen: I can't wait to transcribe that.

Natalie: Initially what was supposed to happen is I had hired a private chef to come in and do dinner at the bed and breakfast that night. But then his wife got in a car accident. [Very quickly] She's fine! We met her, she was not injured! It's just, you know, the car is out of commission!

So he was like, I will send someone to pick you up and take you here. Cause it's an hour from where you are. I'll get that person to bring you back too. And oh my God, like OG countryside type of cooking. So, VERY filling. [Brief pause] Wet bread, but in a way that I was fine with. Which is rare.

Ice Queen: [Kind of confused but going with it, nodding] Okay.

Natalie: And it was going to be a five-course meal, right? But in the end, it was about six or seven? And they just kept bringing us fuckin homemade wine and a full roast chicken that we couldn't eat— and it had this incredible coloration because he... [Speaking to herself] not basted it. Marinated it? Covered it?

I don't know what the right cooking word is but basically coated it in this puree of tomato and carrot, like a seasoned puree. Ridiculous. I didn't even know it was a thing you can do. I don't know why I didn't think about it, but like, I don't know, it's just not a recipe base that comes to mind.

Ice Queen: Because you don't have the space and money to be playing around with something that, if it doesn't work, you just wasted money buying a whole ass chicken, right?

Natalie: It's true. Yeah. And it's like an OG recipe. He was telling us what used to happen is it would be these times of like hunger or just being poor. And so you would make do with what you had—which means that you don't have like the fancy oils and flavors and shit like that, that you can put on the food. So you would use the meat you had and you would use the vegetables you had. So, tomatoes and carrots grow very well here and they would use that.

And this is a recipe he got from his dad who was growing up in Italy in the twenties and shit like that, where it's like, damn this is wild but somehow also delicious. It's like all Southern cooking— it's High on the Hog, but Italy addition. It was incredible.

Dessert was ridiculous. I still dream about that dessert. That's the part for me. There was like a whipped cream ice cream thing. I don't even know how to describe it. Like if cream cheese and whipped cream and ice cream had a love child that was not so cold it made your mouth hurt, but also kept its structure, but then melted in your mouth. Like, man, I don't know. I can't even describe the shit and I have no idea what it was called.

Ice Queen: That's so [drool sound] I want it, everything that you just said, I want.

Natalie: I want you to have it because I'm like, this is the kind of shit you would lose your mind, like fucking worth it. And he brought out like fucking little sparklers and shit, and like these tiny little reusable ceramic solo cups of liquers.

And he's, [Ticking fingers] We got the Lemoncello. We got Amaretto. We got— yeah, we just got back to the bed and breakfast drunk and happy. It was great. I think he thought I hadn't proposed to her earlier, like before we had dinner. She went to the bathroom and he was like, Okay. So we will turn out the lights and I will turn on the pretty lights. And I will put on the music. [Both laugh]

Ice Queen: I would've been so awkward—

Natalie: I went with it!

Ice Queen: Oh, you did? You proposed again? [Both CRACKING up] She comes back you're just like, Surprise!

Natalie: ~Una sorpresa!~ It was fine. She said yes twice. So I got that enthusiastic consent.

Ice Queen: I can just see Halah looking around, like, did I make up the first one?

Natalie: Deja vu motherfucker!

Ice Queen: [As a confused Halah] I got so drunk that I made up the first one?

Natalie: [Also as a confused Halah... we love you, Halah] I still have the ring on, so...

And it was like, it can't hurt. It's a fun story. I'll go with it.

Ice Queen: They'll remember it! That sounds amazing, I think that is a beautiful memory. Was that an impromptu trip to Italy that y'all took or how long had y'all planned on that?

Natalie: Oh, I had been planning it for... I'll say six months, but like the idea, I had the idea for probably like seven or eight. Cause I knew I was saving up for something— it was like, I don't know what for but I'll figure it out.

Initially, my plan was to go to this tree house hotel in Sweden, but I was like: A, getting to Sweden? Expensive. B, getting from the airport to that part of Sweden? Expensive. C, I don't know that I want to eat Sweden winter food. You know what I mean? A lot of fermentation, a lot of meats I'm not accustomed to. We will do that another time. Yeah.

Ice Queen: This is not the time to be adventurous!

Natalie: Right! Well, adventurous within reason— in a way that lots of other people also have enjoyed.

Ice Queen: In a way that is historically known to be delicious.

Natalie: She's wanted to go to Italy for a long time but didn't get to go when she was on her Watson back in 2014. So it was a full, full circle. I told her we were going to Italy as a Christmas gift. And I was like, so this trip's in March, and then I didn't tell her pretty much any of the other things. I was just like, Hey, here's some stuff that you need to bring and, you know, bring something you'd wear for a photo shoot.

Ice Queen: [As Natalie] No it's me, like, I'm going to take photos. We're going to be super cute in Italy, we're going to be that couple.

Natalie: Right. It was like, No, but actually.

Ice Queen: An actual photo shoot. Ha. ha! Surprise!

Natalie: [Meme voice] Got 'em! Anyway great times. I'm very happy to have gone. It was great.

Ice Queen: I want to say, more like deez nups! [Both laugh]

Natalie: Ayo! I'm excited for you to type that also.

Ice Queen: #deeznups

Natalie: [Valley girl] I smell a wedding hashtag!

Ice Queen: Halah's gonna be like, [Very unamused] No.

Natalie: But I am going to be like, Okay. But what if I clearly indicate that it's not an official hashtag?

Ice Queen: It's just an inside joke hashtag... if people wanted to use it that's fine.


So speaking of money. This is my segue.

Natalie: Beautiful, perfect.

Ice Queen: Tell me about, "Money Woes."

Natalie: So several months back, I was trying to write into the experience of being broke as fuck? Because for the first time in my life, I'm not? And yeah, just reflecting on that experience feels important to me. Especially as a means of like solidarity maintenance, you know? And just to be real about that experience for me, sort of bearing witness to it, feels important.

Ice Queen: If someone, for whatever reason, happened to be reading this interview and had not read "Money Woes"— which, what are you thinking? Go! Go read it. Right. Now!— how would you describe it to them?

Natalie: "Money Woes" is the internal monologue of a young person who needs money, but mostly doesn't have it, and as a result, is often hungry... but that hunger is for more than food.

Ice Queen: Beautiful. Love a nutshelling. Yeah, when I was reading it—so much of what was happening, I still vividly remember as well. I remember your car and all of the drama attached to your car. The drama and the love.

And it brought me back very quickly. And I started to remember our lunch dates that we would sometimes go on. And I think it was because, I loved being able to do that because being with Héctor sort of put me in that position of not not having money for the first time? I didn't have to worry about like, ALL the rent necessarily. And so we could go out and just like [Shimmies shoulders] get mimosas, do all that. And I love that... [at a loss for words] trying to think how to word it.

Natalie: Can I offer a framing that might help?

Ice Queen: [Desperately] Yeeees!

Natalie: It feels good to be in a position to support your friends, when you have been availed of resources, they might not have yet. And it's not paternalistic, you know, it's not like Wow. She's so poor she can't do it herself. It's, I care about this person. I enjoy spending time with them and we can do something together that meets a need we both have. Right? Everybody gotta eat.

Ice Queen: Exactly that! I loved this story. I mean, I love your writing anyways, but as soon as I saw it I was like, of fucking course Natalie would be the first person to address a lack of food. It's a food magazine, but with that comes Not Having. So I love that you're bringing that up early on in the Ice Queen career. Thank you.

Natalie: You're welcome. I was going to write about Waffle House because I was listening to a really awesome podcast— I'm the podcast friend. I think everybody knows that by this point— I listened to a really great podcast called Rebel Eaters Club. The podcast is hosted by a fat feminist (Virgie Tovar) who talks about fat feminism and fat activism and has on guests to talk about food. And there was this really great episode with Shay Neary. And in that episode, they were talking about how food is a witness to a lot of things in our lives. And Shay was talking about a comfort food of hers and she's like, "But it's a comfort food because it was food I could get in a bar that my parents had brought me to that was easily prepared."

That's really a huge part of it because food is witness to a lot of things, but hunger is also witness to a lot of things, and the circumstances around them. Often interrelated, but not always. So I thought it would be something interesting to explore— even though I'm going to write that Waffle House essay one of these days!

Ice Queen: They're both on brand, right? Like Waffle House is Natalie. Natalie is Waffle House. Everybody knows this. But also talking about a lack of something, like bringing attention to it is also so very

on-brand Natalie.

Natalie: Yeah. I'm always thinking about absence.

Ice Queen: Next question. All right. I dunno— you know, I don't have this interviewing thing down and I'm not trying to get it down. That's the thing I keep calling myself practically James Lipton, but I never will be, and that's fine.

Natalie: [Fake Deep-isms voice] But if you believe in yourself...

Ice Queen: I'll be some kind of butterfly.

Natalie: It could be a moth. Hey, moths are also pollinators and we pretend they're not just because they're not as cute.

Ice Queen: I haaate them so much. [Dear Traveler, she hates moths and butterflies equally]

Natalie: Yeah, no, they're the worst. I think our bird population is down in Colorado. So we have a preponderance of moths. It's wild. Like I'll be driving on a main road, like a major artery, and there's just moths fucking everywhere! And I was like, okay, this has never happened. And I don't like it. I don't know if it's the birds.

Ice Queen: Maybe there's a lack of spiders.

Natalie: Oh, I could see that. I think we're killing everything. So like all this stuff that works together isn't working together anymore because some part of the equation is missing.

Ice Queen: I would've thought moths would be one of the first to go. They're so delicate, and yet they're thriving. They're coming. And they're coming for us in numbers.

Natalie: Oh, absolutely. Instead of The Birds, it's going to be The Moths. And I think that's a movie that should have already existed because look at your face right now. Horrifying.

Ice Queen: That's good. It's like they just flap right into you and they just keep flapping into you. They just don't care.

Okay. Moving on to pleasant things. Tell me about the recipe that you chose and what made you want to showcase it.

Natalie: Yeah. So the recipe that I chose is for Sweet Potato Basil Waffles. It's an iteration on a recipe that I found for no milk, no egg pancakes. So a thing I think about a lot is how certain relationships change our palates. Like my partner is dairy intolerant. She's not vegan, but sometimes it's just helpful to be able to do something without the requirement of eggs. I usually put eggs in, but you know, it's nice to know that the option is available not to. And I found the base for the recipe when I was on my Fulbright in Armenia when I was too anxious to go to a grocery store.

I was like, okay, I need to be able to do something that is basically like flour, sugar. Baking powder water. And I'm coming to a point of my life where like, I can add extra ingredients, I can afford to fuck up a recipe. I've had the opportunity to experiment with savory breakfast flavors and to be able to sort of change these very basic recipes that I encountered and used out of survival— pancakes are filling, they're great for that.

But I don't really like pancakes, you know, that's why I like Waffle House.

Ice Queen: I mean a pancake needs to be kind of perfect. And if it's not, then it's not great. Like you can have a subpar waffle as well, but somehow the crispiness of a waffle can make up for a lot of its flaws.

Natalie: Right? Worst case you can make it a sweet potato basil pancake if you don't have a waffle iron—which is common, I just live in a household where all of our appliances came together so I inherited a waffle iron— it's a really good recipe. I think it's enjoyable to make. I am firmly of the opinion of sweet potatoes over pumpkins all day.

And I am from where you live now, where sweet potatoes are a huge part of my upbringing. So it's this fun way to be able to incorporate something that was significant in my life and my cuisine as a younger person into things I eat as an adult and things I enjoy as an adult cause I don't have my mama's sweet potato pie recipe anymore. And I don't foresee getting it anytime soon.

Ice Queen: You just mentioned this sweet potato pie recipe, is it your favorite recipe of all time?

Natalie: Ooh, of all time. Oh! Baked Mac and cheese, easy.

Ice Queen: Is there a particular one?

Natalie: Yes. It's not mine, but it tastes like childhood. There's a recipe website called Sweet Tea + Thyme and it's a recipe from Eden Westbrook. I think it's, grandma's baked Mac and cheese, or something like that. Yo, when I make this shit for the house, it goes over like gangbusters. It is gone in four days and it is SO bad for you, which is what makes it delicious. Halah has to take two pills to eat it. [Both laugh]

Ice Queen: I was just about to ask how many she has to take!

Natalie: It's got four or five cheeses heavy cream, half and half. Like it, it comes out amazingly— smoked paprika involved. Like we're not fucking around. But it's... oh my God it's so good.

Ice Queen:What is your relationship to food in your writing?

Natalie: Hmm, I think my relationship to food is a lot about process. I looked back on some essays I wrote early in the pandemic about grocery shopping. As you can see, it is a locus of difficulty for me that's why I keep bringing it up. Cause I just— oh! I hate it. I have ADHD. It's not good for being in a bright, loud store full of people. So I'm navigating social cues and also trying to figure out where shit is. It's all my worst things: it's geography, human interaction, and money dumped into one.

Ice Queen: It's like a nightmare.

Natalie: Yeah. An unholy Trinity. But I think about what it means to acquire food and how that happens in different contexts. I also think about my relationship to my body by way of food. I think this is aggressively common for AFAB people to think, if I eat this, what will it do to me instead of if I eat this, will it fulfill me?

And I think I'm at a point in my writing where like I'm interrogating hunger more often, right? It's not this virtue, even though our sort of puritanical U.S. cultural lens would have you think that it is. That loss, that suffering, that lack are things to aspire to because you're more like the Lord that way. But they're not. And I don't consider myself a person of faith, but I imagine... if you believe in a God who is loving, I don't know why that God would want you to suffer or be hungry. So it's weird. It's weird that we took it there.

I also think that in my writing food is like a stand in sometimes for community. I think that is true for many people of color, but also is true for many people. But you know, when we get together and we break bread and cook for someone, this is such a huge act of love to me. I think about all of the cultures where your way of asking, how are you doing? Or what do you need is have you eaten?

You know I also think about like all of the people— I'm going to keep referring to Armenia because it's like a significant experience that I haven't fully processed yet—but I think about like that gesture of like, I was invited to someone's house and when I got there she had like three little babies but she gave me a gift and cooked dinner and laid out this incredible spread. Just like to take from the resources that already have to be distributed among so many people and to like feed a random stranger you met at the library, teaching English, is like—Yeah, that's wild to me, but very kind. And I think it's meaningful to invite people to your table, you know?

Ice Queen: Definitely. That was really beautiful, Natalie.

Natalie: [Valley girl voice of deflecting compliments] Thank you, I have two degrees in writing. [Both laugh]

Ice Queen:What are your favorite food scenes in writing?

Natalie: Ooh. Oh God damn it. I feel like it's cliche to be like, Like Water for Chocolate, but come on. I'm not going to be able to reference a specific scene because I haven't revisited that book in a long time, but the relationship of food and the erotic and pleasure are very significant to me. I'm never not thinking about Chorus of Mushrooms by Hiromi Goto.

Ice Queen: Beautiful book.

Natalie: So beautiful, dude! I think about the language— like it's languid, it's florid, it's fully in its moment. You come into the the barn, the farmhouse, this dark space full of mushrooms and the smell, you know? How much it integrates all of your senses. And that's more than just like the five we commonly consider as senses. It's the sense of like fullness and pressure or these senses of like how your body fills a space, how you operate in the space in relation to the food, getting sweaty while you cook, all of these things.

That, and then [singing] is there another one? I'm thinking about it.

Ice Queen: They can also be short stories or poetry. Doesn't have to be novels.

Natalie: Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude— I hope I'm not the only person who's mentioned it. Cause I feel like everybody's got to think about it.

Ice Queen: I mean you know I do. That whole collection is just— I mean, in the same way that, of course you would be the person to bring up the lack of food to, to bring up hunger, I feel the same way with Ross Gay's collection in growing it.

Natalie: Yeah.

Ice Queen: It's like, these things don't come from nothing. Or, of course there is a nothing attached to the something. So just for the act of growing food, and in the way that it's just described. And nature, in response to that as well.

Natalie: Fig tree poem, come on man. Come on. It's my touchy-feely extrovert wet dream, honestly, just to gather with strangers and share in a delightful experience around something that came from the earth. Like, yes, give me it. I want it, you know?

Ice Queen: Cause it's also like the anti grocery store.

Natalie: Yes, absolutely. It's something that's so communal— I love a community garden. I stan community gardens when they're embarked upon thoughtfully with the input of the community involved, blah, blah, blah, you know?

Ice Queen: Yes, of course. An actual COMMUNITY garden.

Natalie: Yes. Not like the Whole Foods community garden. Right. Different. But yeah, I love when I can tell a writer is reveling in the experience of food, because it's something so embodied, you know? It's not just nourishment.

Ice Queen: It's joy.

Natalie: Yeah.

Ice Queen: What are your favorite food scenes in TV, movies, or video games?

Natalie: I'm going to say Salt Fat Acid Heat. So there's a moment where Samin's eating something and like is enjoying it so much that she cries? I'm not a joy crier, but to see that, it made me cry. And to see that level of appreciation was just beautiful.

Steven Universe because I am a HUMAN CLICHE, but I enjoy the jam, Connie and Steven having their little jam together, singing songs while putting jam on shit, like it's just so wholesome. But also, to like get together with your friends and just sing for no reason, which is a thing I do a lot.

Ice Queen: You already answered my next question, which was: What is your favorite show about food?

So, obviously, Salt Fat Acid Heat.

Natalie: Is it?

Ice Queen: ...

Natalie: I'm asking me not asking you. Like, is it my favorite show? I tend to enjoy— enjoy is maybe the wrong word— but I tend to enjoy shows about dysfunctional alcoholics in stressful jobs. Your BoJack Horseman's, et cetera. There's a show called The Flight Attendant. Have you watched it?

Ice Queen: I haven't watched it but hear that it's really good.

Natalie: It is surprisingly good. There's a lot of moments that are sort of like food involved— in addition to the fact that the protagonist is a raging alcoholic and just has to figure that shit out. So it's this relationship between trauma and alcohol. And obviously I'm fiercely interested in trauma. So I enjoy that show a lot. I know there are people who have like mixed feelings about the second season, [Very quickly and also blasé?] but fuck those people they're wrong.

Ice Queen: Woo. That's a spicy take!

Natalie: Hot takes only. I don't do cold takes.

Ice Queen: Do you bake or cook a lot? And how, and when, did you get into it?

Natalie: I bake semi-frequently— less often than I used to because now a bitch is lazy— but I'm a real fan of making bread the hard way. I think bread machine bread is too perfect. The air bubbles that form because of the glutinous bonds are wrong to me. It's too soft. It's weird. So I have enjoyed making bread for a really long time. My grandma got me a sifter when I was like 15. And, as a gift, I used to make cinnamon bread. I would take the recipe for cinnamon sugar filling from cinnamon rolls and then just sprinkle it in white bread or wheat bread dough and roll that bitch up... cinnamon bread.

I enjoy doing that. I make an apple pie that is terrible for you. It's too sweet for everyone in my house, but me, but I think it's delightful. I like to make those things. I'm getting better at cooking actually— a significant portion of my relationship with my partner has been centered around cooking because she cooks and I bake, but we kind of traded those skills. So last year on her birthday we made her cake together. Cause she's bad at [Pauses, smiling] measuring things? So this is the inverse side of being good at just throwing shit into a pot. Maybe you get the teaspoon and the tablespoon mixed up sometimes.

So that's been a fun exploration. She taught me how to make a basic, basic tomato pasta sauce from scratch. It's surprisingly easy. Now I can tell the saltiness of something based on smell, which was not true for a long time. And I also know now to taste my food mid-recipe— seems obvious, but I think perfectionism makes it hard to understand that you might need to adjust something in the midst of making these recipes.

I'm getting a lot of experience just making vegan cuisine because it's easier to not have to make something that she's going to have to eat around. It doesn't hurt me at all to make something vegan, you know, it's fun that way. So I have a vegan pesto that fucks up the game.

Ice Queen: I've also been not baking as much or cooking as much. And part of that is just, I didn't have medicine for almost a year, so I just... I was so tired—Both in terms of sleepy, but also just the fatigue got so bad that it was to the point where it was like, I don't want to explore this. And that's something that I love doing. I love making new stuff— but it was like, if I'm going to use the little bit of energy I have for the whole day in making something, I want it to be something I know is going to come out good. I'm not going to waste the time to experiment on something. It needs to be a tried and true kind of thing.

So that was... I mean in some ways, good. Like, obviously we're new down here so we don't have a lot of people to give sweets away to. And our neighbor, Ms. Vivian, is older and she tries not to eat as much sugar. So, can't really do it. So that was, that was difficult. But now that I'm getting my infusions I have more juice for the day. I'm like a battery, one of those old school lithium rechargeable ones.

Natalie: You gotta plug that bitch in.

Ice Queen: I'll get there, just not as good anymore.

Natalie: I'm grappling with the realities of aging. I recognize that I'm still quite young, but it's just like, I don't have 22 year old knees anymore. You know what I mean? Yeah. Megan Thee Stallion is a goddamn superhero. That's what I've learned. Maybe it's not worse, it's just harder.

Ice Queen: So I also hate big grocery stores. Like they terrify me. There's just so many people always there.

Natalie: Right. So many fucking people.

Ice Queen: We'd been ordering our groceries. I'm so thankful to be able to do that, but sometimes... sometimes I just want to pick my own tomato. Right? So we've actually been going to Fresh Market more, which I missed while we were in Colorado and California. And it's like so much better. Cause it's so much smaller. Like everywhere needs to pay their workers more, regardless. Everyone needs to pay their workers more. Workers deserve a lot more. But as far as the store experience goes, it's just the best one.

Natalie: Right? Yeah.

Ice Queen: They have these meal kits, and it has the person's name who prepared it on there and surprisingly good prices. I mean, they have a meal kit that's for four people for $25.

Natalie: Yeah. Which is great.

Ice Queen: Yeah. And it actually feeds four. It's not one of those meal kits where you look at it and it's like, oh, so we're doing real portions here, huh?

Natalie: Oh you controlling my shit. Huh? [Both laugh]

Ice Queen: Yeah. So that's been a lifesaver. And especially just the last few months with like, you know, not having the energy to cook anything, even just in terms of, I've got chicken breasts. I don't want to even think about seasoning. You know, I don't want to think about, how does this go with this vegetable, and do I even have a vegetable? It just saves a lot of time and energy. And I appreciate that because that's something that I don't have a lot of, even with medicine, you know, it's still always a factor in my day now in a way that even just five years ago, it wasn't. Thank you food places for incorporating that more.

Natalie: Right? The way our society is built we don't think about people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The ability to save that time means so much. I have depression and it is a struggle some days where it's just like the level of attention to detail and attention period required to successfully prepare a meal is sometimes a lot. And it's a nice way to be able to like, not have to be responsible for all of that, but also still have some control over what that meal looks like.

Ice Queen: Final question. What are some of your favorite literary magazines or books that you've read this year?

Natalie: Ooh I'm a real fan of Gasher Journal. Have you heard of it?

Ice Queen: Yeah, I heard it's terrible.

Natalie: Terrible. So anyway, I am bad at reading now. Grad school beat the love of reading out of me, but some books that I've enjoyed in the recent past are Codependence by Amy Long. Again, I'm a real fan of stories about addiction from people with high pressure jobs.

Let's see. I'm never not going to recommend They Can't kill Us Until They Kill Us.

Undrowned by Alexis Pauline Gumbs which is really interesting and well done— everything she does is interesting and well done to me— but this is a really interesting and well done work whose subtitle is, I want to say: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals.

Ice Queen: Oh, it just won the Whiting award!

Natalie: That book which really bridges the gap between humans and all the other animals that exist that we tend to ignore because they're so different from us. Except that they're not, you know? So that one and then Pleasure Activism. I'll never not recommend adrienne maree brown because if you don't know— where you been at? But yeah all of their work is groundbreaking stuff about being embodied— groundbreaking and also really rooted in these black feminist and like womanist traditions that I think are really fucking important and that plenty of people are like holding on to and carrying on and building upon, but that I think can be so overlooked because of what is valued in theory and in society.


Natalie Sharp (she/her) is a Black queer writer, dancer, and educator hailing from Savannah, GA and based in Denver, CO. She completed her MFA in creative writing at the University of Colorado Boulder, and her poetry and nonfiction have previously appeared in Foglifter Journal, BOAAT Journal, Bodega Magazine, and elsewhere. If you propose to her in a Waffle House, she will probably say yes.


Erin Armstrong has an MFA from CU-Boulder, is the editor-in-chief of Ice Queen Magazine, and the managing editor of Gasher Press. Her works are forthcoming or published in The Citron Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Banango Street, New World Writing and elsewhere.

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