complain-y post is complain-y

Note to self: If you just want one cocktail and you don’t want to go to a bar, don’t, under any circumstances, buy one of those little ‘single-shot’ plastic bottles that gas stations provide at the counter and pour it in some Coke. Especially, especially remember that those stupid little one-shots have about half the alcohol content they should, and your whiskey’s just gonna taste like caramel soda. And when you add it to Coke, your cocktail’s just gonna taste like caramel soda with a shot of caramel soda.

In short, get the cheap-ass wine next time. Or, better, wait until you have the kind of spending money that’s required to purchase real alcohol before you get the urge to kick back for the evening with a drink and a cigarette.

The type of alcohol my lifestyle affords me screams RAGING ALCOHOLIC or, I don’t know, dumb ass college kid. The type of alcohol I want says, I am in tune with the finer things in life, or, as Jon would say, I AM A PRETENTIOUS HIPSTER.

Speaking of which, I tried a smoked porter the other day. It was wonderful.

Useless post for the win, I guess.

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aaaaaaand… the answer is relative.

I am interested in too many things. Starting projects might be one of my greatest talents. Finishing them… well. My dad bought me a shirt that says ‘I never finish anyth’ and it is without a doubt my best self-defining shirt.

 Image
 
This would be the second best.
 
Recently, I’ve been cross-stitching, and reading Anatomy and Physiology for Dummies, and contemplating using beer as the yeast in my next homemade bread. I’ve been thinking about buying a brew kit and learning how to make my own beer. I insisted on making and decorating my own wedding cake and crafting my own centerpieces/favors for the wedding. (My favorite thing about the wedding – the actual wedding, not the after party – was wearing the dress that I watched Jon make me over the course of a couple weeks.) I have an incessant itch to learn how to quilt. I want to start a garden and grow tomatoes, chamomile flowers, lavender, peppers, basil and garlic (and that’s just to start out). I’m obsessed with books about Tai Chi, alternative healing, philosophy, and sociology. I want to learn massage therapy. I’ve already detailed some of my travels into the realm of computer programming and theoretical physics is basically my religion. Fantasy and science fiction created my morals and drive my passion for travel. I’ve crocheted, attempted to knit, obsessively studied abnormal psychology and dreamed of majoring in everything from creative writing to mechanical engineering to equestrianism. I love building things with my hands – one of my proudest achievements is contributing to the construction of a horse shelter. I taught myself how to draw (although I can’t really draw so much as copy black-and-white photographs in graphite) and study shadows and colors and space. Someday, I want to be a yoga instructor. I want to own a bakeshop. I want to pick up my violin and relearn music I haven’t played in well over five years and join a bluegrass/jazz/Celtic metal band. I’m in a technical writing class right now and I truly believe I could make money from the skills I am learning. I hope to become a major part of my dad’s business, which films conferences all over the States (and some of Europe) and posts them online.
 
I fucking want everything.
 
And this is part of the reason why I never finish anything. Because as soon as I’ve started on one thing, I become terrified that that thing is going to prevent me from all of the other things I want to do. So I have to go do something else. Sometimes it’s a matter of consciously giving up what I’m doing in favor of something else. Other times, it’s simply a matter of attempting to juggle too much at once and having bits and pieces fall by the wayside. Sometimes I don’t realize I’ve stopped doing something I love for months or even years, and when I realize it’s gone… I freak out and need to start doing it again. But then something else falls away. My life can often look like it’s in shambles, and the people who know me know not to take me too seriously when I become obsessed with yet another thing. Because it’ll fade out. The more intense the obsession, the quicker it goes away.
 
Some things stick. Some things come back again and again. I have to learn how to manage my time.
 
There’s never enough time.
 
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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.

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.

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