I am embarrassed by positive emotions

 It’s OK. You’re allowed to look at me funny. Whoever heard of somebody who’s embarrassed to feel happy? Who will start blushing at the thought that she’s given the slightest indication she likes you. Who hides her smiles and can’t seem to figure out how to say thank you or I miss you or I love you.
 
I love you so much that I imagine our future life and feel giddy, like a child. I want to dance.
 
I want to smile. I have to control smiles. I want to express gratitude. But I fear you’ll laugh, or lord whatever it is I am grateful for over my head, or you’ll think I’m silly for thinking that what you did is something that I should be grateful for, when clearly you did it for these other people who deserve it so much more, or you did it out of social obligation, or…
 
A dawning realization, taking hold again and again, each time enlightening, each time promising to save me from myself and make this awful paranoia/distrust/fear/ungratefulness go away. Now, now that I know: this isn’t normal, I can fix it. I can fix the way I think. I can accept your gratitude and show you that I care.
 
She said, I like your dress. I looked at her sweater. Wanted to compliment her. Pretty sweater. Said nothing. She saw me look at her sweater deliberately and not say anything to return the compliment. Now she thinks I think her sweater is ugly.
 
This is madness. Help, please.
 
Another girl gave me a gift. Simple gift. A gift card. She doesn’t know me that well and I’m not that easy to get to know. But I’ve been eyeing that pair of red faux-velvet gloves for weeks now, and the gift card is exactly the amount of money I couldn’t afford to spend on them. Now I can express gratitude! Thank you! She can see how excited I am. I’m showing something real. Excitement for a new pair of beautiful gloves. So soft and thick and warm. So deep and rich in color, so elegant in form. Great. The only time I seem to express a sincere emotion and it’s about receiving a gift. How selfish can I be? Thank her one too many times. What is wrong with me? It’s just a gift card. A gesture. A gift of obligation thanks to secret Santa. So embarrassed. Try not to dwell.
 
Sometimes, a sense of contentment: do not dwell on yourself, child. Count your blessings. Focus on them.
 
Write your grandma. It’s not what you write, it’s the fact that you write at all. Sit down with a blank page, write a thousand words. Put it away. Find more paper. Write thirty words. It’s not so embarrassing. She’ll appreciate it just the same. I’ll send this. Sometimes I find letters I wrote to my grandma years ago, buried away in an old notebook, heartfelt and longing. Then I write another short note.
 
I’ll send this later.
 
But never send it. She’ll hate me because I’ve never written.
 
She won’t hate you. She can’t hate you. She loves you. You’re her first grandchild.
 
My letter will just remind her of all the times I never wrote.
 
My letter will just remind her that I was taken away from her without so much as a goodbye. (But that’s not true, we’ve gotten plenty of goodbyes in since then.)
 
Or worse. She never really noticed I was gone. (And isn’t it awful of me to feel that that’s the worse of the two options? That her feeling pain is somehow better than her not feeling pain?)
 
Being taken away was not my fault. Never finding a way to return… that is.
 
Sometimes a blog post just needs to be personal and chock full of whine.
 
Oooh, we finally have cheese again.
Advertisements

Cookie Catastrophe

About a week ago, my better (or worse, I haven’t decided yet) half had to scramble to sign up for a CPR class last minute. Something about how he’s a little scatterbrained and the college we go to is a little bit unable to effectively communicate with its students, ever. He and the lady who helped him out had what I presume was a joking conversation that went something about like this:

“So, you’re a culinary major?”

“Indeed. If you help me sign up for this class, I can bring you some baked goods!”

(My dialogue skills are the most amazing thing, I just had to show them off.) So Jon told me I should make her something, or maybe he just told me about the conversation and I got really excited about the idea of making her something. Either way, the next time we went grocery shopping, I picked up some sugar cookie essentials and got to work.

The first problem occurred to me about halfway through creaming the butter. I realized I didn’t have cookie cutters, a rolling pin, or a large enough flat surface area in our teeny tiny itty bitty kitchen to actually roll the dough out. No big deal – I could wing it. I’d used a glass cup on the cookies I made a few weeks ago at my parents’ house. Granted, I’d had a rolling pin and my parents’ gigantic kitchen island, but I always put faith in my improvisational abilities when it comes to baking.

The next problem came when I realized that we didn’t have nearly as much butter in the fridge as I’d originally thought we had. I’d picked up shortening and enough butter for the cookies, thinking there was plenty in the fridge for icing if I made it 50/50 butter/shortening. Not the best way to make icing, but not the worst.

The worst way to make icing being the 25/75 butter/shortening ratio I ended up actually using. Shortening, especially in large quantities, gives icing a filmy texture that lingers on your lips and tongue. I like it in a very small amount, probably because I ate a lot of Wal-Mart cakes growing up, but when the essential flavor of butter is cut down so extremely, it ends up feeling like you’re eating sugared up melted plastic.

My third and final problem came right after dumping 6 of the 7 necessary cups of flour into the cookie dough, because those 6 cups were the absolute last of my flour (and it wasn’t even my flour, it was my roommate’s). So the batter ended up way too sticky. Frustrated, I put the dough in the fridge to chill, hoping that would firm it up a bit, and got sucked into Minecraft until 4 in the morning. (That is totally unrelated to the story at hand. Oh well.)

Next day, the dough was still too sticky, but I had a few ideas I thought might work. A) I remembered that my knife kit that came with school actually DOES have cookie cutters in it (HUZZAH!). … There is no B.

The dough seemed about as sticky as a rich bread dough, which I actually really like working with. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I laid down some confectioner’s sugar as flour and cut down on the icing (this is before I realized my icing would be trash). My roommate came up with a different idea – he crushed up several cups of graham crackers as fine as he possibly could and we used that as flour instead. It gave the cookies a not entirely unattractive bumpiness, making them look like snickerdoodles. It did the trick, and when the cookies came out of the oven, the added flavor of the graham crackers made them quite delicious.

We decorated them with thin layers of my more-shortening-than-icing-icing (it’s not so bad in a thin layer, as it just adds a bit of sweetness). The twelve I planned on giving to the lady who helped Jon we decorated with crosses and various symbols I found online related to CPR/first aid. They turned out super cute, and Metcalf (the roommate, if I have not introduced him), came up with the sweet idea of writing ‘Thank you’ on one of the cookies. We put those away and still had about fifty more to just play around with.

I was pleased.

Thursday morning, however, I was pissed. I decided to try one of the cookies with my morning coffee. Gone was the soft, graham crackery delicious confection of yesterday. In its place, my teeth met cruel stone. I had to dunk the damn thing in coffee for about fifteen seconds before I could bite into it, and even then, it’s flavor was gone.

I couldn’t give these cookies to anyone, not even my very worst enemy, let alone a woman who had helped Jon get into a class he needed. I was furious. I had wanted, so many times, to throw the whole thing out and start again – but I couldn’t. We didn’t have the resources and I didn’t have the time. But at each step along the way, I’d thought, no, these won’t be what I wanted them to be, but they’ll be cute, and they’ll be decent, and if they’re presented right, the lady I’m giving them to might not even suspect that they didn’t come out exactly how I wanted them to.

And now there are about three dozen stones in my fridge dressed up as cookies, coated with filmy plastic that even the most devoted sweet-tooth would not want to consume. They’re not terrible when dipped in coffee, but all-in-all, they’re a colossal failure.

We made cinnamon rolls in class yesterday, so I had hoped to deliver this lovely lady I had never met warm, fresh gooey sweet rolls – she would never know about the cookies, but damn it, she would have some baked goods delivered to her. But she was gone by the time I got out of class, and Jon, convinced that it didn’t really matter since the whole conversation was kind of a joke anyway, didn’t seem to get why I was so disappointed.

Even though I will likely never meet this lady, and even though she would not have known that I made them, there is something quintessentially satisfying about giving somebody baked goods you made yourself. They’re a treat. A fresh cinnamon roll or a well-made, adorable sugar cookie will put a smile on most anyone’s face. It will make them feel good, and the thought of that makes me feel good. It’s one of the reasons I love this major. I have always enjoyed bringing treats to family get togethers. I have always enjoyed baking, but until recently, it’s just been one of those delightful things that comes with the holidays. Now, amazingly, I get to do it all the time. I cannot say how many times in class I stop, look at what I’m doing, and get almost giddy about it. It’s like I’m getting away with something, somehow. I’m doing something special, something I have always loved doing, and I’m getting credit for it.

So not being able to deliver that lady her baked goods has me disappointed. Failing at those cookies so terribly (cookies I could have easily made years ago, before the concept of culinary school had ever entered into my consciousness), has me somewhat disappointed. But I wanted to share this story because it illustrates how much I love this major. I feel so blessed to be here, and one of these days, I’ll get to work at a bakeshop (or even own one!) and feel the joy of sharing baked goods every day.

//

//