Sunday, May 01, 2005

running + baking

so, i am happy to announce that i think i've discovered the magic formula for curing my sunday bad moods/ panic attacks:

running + baking.

every sunday, while most folks are enjoying leisurely suppers with their families and watching The Sopranos re-runs, i am panicking. about what? oh, everything and anything i haven't accomplished (and want to accomplish) in my time here on earth. that's all.

i cannot imagine why this stresses me out.


ya see...i'm a bit overwhelmed as of late. i'm working a full-time job as a weenie assistant, putting up my one-woman show (a fundraiser/party/ performance on may 21 - you want to come, don't you?), taking integrative nutrition classes, performing with a band, planning a bridal shower, and trying to figure out HOW THE HADES TO DO IT ALL...well. right now, i just feel like i'm treading water, and it's not nice, soft, soothing, womb-like water bath; it's like treading steel jello, and i am

so. i run. i just get on the treadmill and run until my chest feels like it's caught a hummingbird, salty sweat drips down my cheeks into the corners of my mouth, and my face flushes the color of cherry popsicles. i listen to music with a heavy, constant beat (and lots of cussing) that is decidedly not me - eminem, dr. dre. i am one tough chick. off the treadmill, i am pollyanna. on the treadmill, i am polly-u-wanna-fuck-wit-me?

then, i bake.

the ritual of gathering all of the ingredients. chopping chocolate bars into little bite-size pieces. sifting the soft flour. awaking my giant pink kitchen-aid mixer from its winter hibernation. baking is meditative. it's zen. forces me to slooooowdown, consider the texture of the butter and sugar mixture; is it too glossy? too fluffy? do i need to scrape down the sides? should i add the entire bar of chocolate even though the recipe only calls for half? can i substitute dried cranberries for the dried cherries? it forces me to consider the possibilities.

i am no fool. i know i also invite my mom's spirit into my kitchen when i bake, and this, of course, feels good. my mom died when i was 12, but when i bake, my mom's right there watching, offering her advice (even when i don't want it, just like a good mother should), and being the first to praise the finished product:

Oh, honey, this is grrrrraaaayyyeeeeet.

even, of course, if it tastes like sawdust...with chocolate chips.

so today, after my run/exorcism, i baked Chocolate-Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries, and i feel better. not perfect, mind you. the how-the-hells and how-the-hell-muches are still there, begging to be answered and addressed, but there's a peace within me that i didn't have earlier today. can't put my finger on it exactly (it smells faintly of vanilla and bittersweet chocolate - yum!), but i'm thinking it has something to do with this idea of slowing down and considering the possibilities. perhaps, the way in which i'm thinking i have to live my life, isn't THE. ONLY. WAY.

most culinary masterpieces have been created "by accident." why shouldn't extraordinary lives be the same way? hey, look - little Ruth Wakefield at the Tollhouse Inn in Massachussetts was just making another batch of her boring ol' Butter Drop Do Cookies when she decided, on a whim, to chop up a Nestle chocolate bar and toss it into the batter. who knew she'd start a culinary revolution? ruth trusted her instincts and was rewarded by the Nestle company with a lifetime supply of chocolate. just think what i could get if i trusted my instincts in life? so i'm gonna be like ruth, goshdarnit, and toss that chocolate bar into my hum-drum Butter Drop Do cookie batter of a life.

and so what if it turns out to be not-so-perfect? it's not a perfect circle? has less chocolate in one half than the other? is crunchy when i want it chewy?

growing up, if a cookie or cake or loaf of bread came out of the oven looking less than picture-perfect, my mom would tear off a bite, pop it into her mouth, grin with satisfaction, and declare,"oh well, might not look pretty, but it still tastes good!"

so there ya have it, folks.

life...may not look pretty, but you know what?

still tastes good.

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