Tuesday, July 21, 2015

skillet cookies and sabers

Forty minutes ago, defeat sat on my chest as I tried to close my eyes and will myself to sleep. I even felt too sorry for tears because I’ve already cried once today, and that felt like more than enough.

So, I decided to flick through facebook in that absent minded way that allows me glimpses into my friend’s fabulously triumphant or habitually disheveled lives, both equally distracting enough to see past my own current state. After spending a good portion of my day trying to accomplish tasks for my day off, I had decided to crawl into bed with no proof of action except a $22 receipt for margarita lunch with my girlfriends and a $5.67 receipt for mailing my dad’s birthday package. I craved distraction to quiet my disappointed mind.

My big plans for today taunted me from the dark corner of my bedroom as I tried to sleep, and I wanted to throw a flashy, flaming saber forcing them to just leave me alone.

Ira Glass has this brilliant video on youtube about the Creative Process. I find it soothing because it validates current failures and promises that success is only gained through hard work and lots of it. Some of that hard work will include bad stuff, the things that might be funny in ten years at a cocktail party but right now feel like a big, fat blemish on your record. After a particularly hard night at work recently, I watched the video no fewer than twelve times. He’s that good.

While I want to be inspired by his brilliance, I am somehow paralyzed by its sheer wisdom and truth. It inspires a panic in me, how will I ever do something so good? So poignant? So true?

And then the defeat rushes back in, right where the inspiration had tried to take root.

My floor didn’t get swept, my dishes didn’t get scrubbed, and my closet still looks like the scene of a rushed robbery with sloppy evidence of open drawers and tipped stacks of jeans. Couldn’t I just go to sleep and try again tomorrow?

No. I could not. I needed to get on facebook in hopes of finding inspiration that enabled me to feel excited about tomorrow or read sad news about someone who wishes that a dirty floor, a messy closet, and a sink packed with old dishes was their day’s problem. I needed a slap of perspective to put me to sleep.

Instead, I found a recipe for a chocolate chip skillet cookie with which sweet redemption for today winked at me.

Did I mention that my day started with a failed attempt at cream cheese biscuits? As a professional cook, I find something truly unsettling about cooking bad food at home for the people whom I love most in this world. As if in those rare occasions when I cook at home, the universe should conspire with me to produce something truly magnificent and representative of my desire to be a skilled cook. Gorgeous meals at home should be my peace offering to my loved ones for supporting me in an industry that requires long hours, cranky phone calls, and missed holidays. Anyway, that didn’t happen to me today.

So a skillet cookie with a cup of butter and two cups of sugar seemed like a good comeback move even if fifteen minutes prior, I had warded off my loved one with a passive attitude and a desire “to just be alone.” I’ll pick up ice cream and bring him some skillet cookie tomorrow.

As I stirred this undeniably accessible combination of ingredients, I imagined the guy who posted this recipe doing the same at his home in Chicago. He is a CIA graduate, my former supervisor on externship, and a talented cook. His blog offers a glimpse into a kitchen filled with knowledge and passion for good flavors and solid technique. I imagined mixing a pisco sour for him with pisco that I brought back from my winter in Chile while he sat at my kitchen table and helped me grate Chancaca, also from Chile, to mix with white sugar as a brown sugar substitute in his recipe.

While the cookie was baking, I washed my dishes and I wrote this blog entry. Not exactly a flaming saber to the demons in the corner telling me that I’m not good enough, but I’ve got a warm cookie so who cares?

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