I can’t stop thinking about salmon…

I saw salmon spawn for the first time on a Sunday, after a running race in Carkeek Park. I wrote about salmon spawning and the love of a mother on a Thursday morning. That Friday afternoon, The New York Time’s Modern Love editor wrote me back saying he would like to publish my article. We met on Tuesday to talk it through and when I got off the phone, I knew this was actually happening. I called Evan to tell him the news and when he said, “Congratulations!” I burst into tears. I cried so much and I don’t think I’ve stopped since.

My piece was published online last Friday: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/26/style/modern-love-salmon-miscarriage-heels-skinny-pants.html

And then it was in the Sunday edition of The New York Times.

Evan brought me the paper in bed and even holding it didn’t feel real. This is an absolute dream come true for me. Modern Love has been a favorite column and podcast for a good decade now. (And I’m really into the show now, too! Real question: Who would play me??!)

So many loved ones sent photos of them reading it, which made me a mess of tears…

People sent videos that had me laughing, crying, and just so damn grateful.

I spent the day solo-salmoning with Marcelline and just dancing on cloud nine.

That bottle of wine is directly from the Domaine de Pallus vineyard in Chinon, France. We brought it back three years ago from our visit and I told Evan, “This is for when I get published in The New York Times.” I thought we’d be holding on to that bottle for much longer. (Haven’t drank it yet… I’m nervous! Will drinking it mean I’m done with big goals??)

An incredible connection made was with strangers through this time, too. People found my website through the Times and left messages through my contact form.

One was an illustrator, who wrote…

Hello! I’m a Seattle visual artist, and I just read your beautiful NYT piece. Sitting here in endless family quarantine, reading about breastfeeding, made me want to share with you some tiny drawings I did based on my own breastfeeding attempts (ultimately successful, though not… exactly… as pictured, of course).
some random Seattle mom

I am absolutely obsessed with these illustrations. Check out her website here: https://jenniferzwick.com/.

Another message…

Rachel – I swam upstream with you this morning, as every word sent a wave through my heart completely resonating with my own touch points. Firecracker Salmon is a favorite dish for my four daughters (yes I also rely on manhattans), so your analogy hit home at an additional level. COSTCO recipe for the win. Laugh if you must but it’s spicy seafood perfection. I digress – THANK YOU for starting my day with a window into the soul and reminding me, as my four are on the cusp of aging out of cookie craving cuteness into college and careers, how I would have, and still do, die a thousand deaths to protect, nourish, and provide. Navigating current teen challenges far outweighs combatting the faulty placenta and restricted growth, but my four months of rest, like a salmon in her nest, meant a miracle. Thank you for the reminder, I’m renewed and empowered, knowing I have conquered the journey upstream before and am one powerful fish. Wishing you and your family happiness and health! ~Mindy

Fan mail…

Ms. Stevens,

First off, I never write fan letters.

I toiled in a newsroom for 30-plus years and edited writers great and lousy who wrote pieces to die for and vomit on. At career’s end, I edited a crew of Brits who outputted technology articles as lifeless, and convoluted, as Facebook algorithms.Not only did an ocean separate us, but a love of words did, too. (The pay was quite good.)

I have run across few writers, maybe just a handful, who possessed a gift to tell a story without effort, without cliche and with grace. Please count yourself as one. I thoroughly enjoyed your perfect piece in the Times about salmon.

That’s why this is my first — and last — fan letter.

Best Regards,


Marcellines of the World Unite…

Hi Rachel –

Just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed your piece.

Beyond learning how salmon spawn, I was thrilled to learn about Baby Marcelline.

I am named after my grandmother, who I am told was named after a nun.

I’ve always heard Earnest Hemingway’s sister was named Marcelline and that Walt Disney was from Marceline – one L – Missouri. There is a candy store called Marceline’s Confectionary at Disneyland.

I am sending you and Baby M all the best. My wish for her is that Marcelline trends enough to land on souvenir-shop key chains and mini license plates.


Marcelline “Marci”
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This Brooklyn grandmother…

I am a 72-year-old grandmother, which sounds a whole lot older than I really feel to be honest. Your article in the Times today, which I am reading in bed here in Brooklyn, completely and totally made me cry. My 34-year-old daughter got married a few weeks ago and although I have an older child, a son, it is with my daughter that this thing you describe really exists. Is it the case with salmon? Probably not gendered that way. But she has in so many ways carried on for me, and I from my own mother. The strange thing is that she, a writer, is fully aware of this, enjoy this year‘s because parenting and motherhood changes, and until fully matured, your children for many years don’t want to hear about that connection. I too “died” many times for my children, and do so with my grandson as well although it’s different. And the children know this, they feel it. I was just wanted to tell you how fantastic your piece is. Motherhood is wildly underrated in this sexist world. Don’t miss a minute if it. And thank you.

Okay, one more. Thank you for indulging me…

Just a comment from a former NYT reporter. Loved your salmon essay. Wished to warn you: when she becomes a teenager you will die a thousand more deaths, while she, oblivious, drives off into the night

Thinking of Marcelline driving off into the night just made my heart drop already.

The love for my article about how much I love my baby is overwhelming in the best way. There are so many more messages and calls and videos and photos and notes that I didn’t mention that mean the absolute world to me. Thank you for being here. And if you’re swimming upstream and starting to fall apart, know you’re not alone.

[it really is the best way to die.]

2 thoughts on “I can’t stop thinking about salmon…”

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