Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Strange things have been happening to me lately. I seem to have lost my mind, although I've been getting splitting headaches so I do know that it's still in there somewhere.

A week ago Monday I made banana cranberry muffins, except I forgot the cranberries. I also forgot the baking powder and baking soda completely. They came out hard on the outside and raw inside. Garbage.

Right after that I had an idea for a lovely (and cheap) frittata like dish with collard greens, potatoes, and grape tomatoes. I stupidly did not put enough eggs in it and with the potatoes on the bottom and too many of the greens on top, it burned. Garbage.

The next day I walked into a wall at work. Hmmm.

I left my dishes in the sink for a week. I never do that.

That Saturday a bird pooped on my jacket and backpack.

I was not a happy woman that whole weekend and spent most of it laying around watching The Food Network. No cooking.

This past weekend I knew that I had a bake sale at work coming up that I promised to make a Napoleon for. Actually I promised two: one chocolate and one vanilla. I only made one vanilla. Last weekend was another weird one.

Sunday I had an interview for a Very Stupid Job. I thought it would be a good idea because it is at a place I like a lot and they were magically hiring. I applied right after the bird poop incident because why the hell not? It's where I go sometimes when I need a little uplifting. They called me right away and scheduled the interview for the following weekend so I took it as a sign. Sunday morning however, I did not feel confident. I felt like it was stupid and it was.

They gave me "homework" to do which was called an online "survey," but it really consisted of statements such as: I believe that taking $2 a month from the company is not stealing. And then your choices are Strongly Agree, Agree, Slightly Agree, Strongly disagree, etc. You get the idea. I think one of my favorites was: If someone goes to work high on marijuana it's ok as long as it doesn't affect their job.

Give me a break. Am I am idiot now? How has adulthood and trying to find a good fit for yourself turned into this nonsense?

The underlying problem is that I have applied to school and I got into one and wait listed at another and denied at the third. The school that is the only real option if I want to make this happen at this point is back in Illinois. Frankly I'm not so keen to move back. I dreamed of living on the west coast for years and years and I am finally here. It took a huge effort and time and money and nearly depressing my mother to death. It wasn't easy. Seattle isn't the dream location but I like my life now. I don't know how to work this out at all and I am in the midst of huge decisions. The decision that sounds best is to pretend this didn't happen and just go on paying my bills. Isn't that weird?

Anyway I thought it would be good to see if I could find another job that has more flexibility. One thing I can tell you that I learned this past weekend is that getting a job where you like to hang out is not really a good idea. Last Friday was my last day at the bar job and working there made the bar turn into something other then what it was for me.

I used to go and sit and read or write and drink wine and just chill. I used to come in every once in a while with friends, but somehow now if I did that I would get drawn into other conversations and we didn't come for that. Unfortunately most of those conversations would be as if I was perpetually stuck in a 17 year old boy's locker room bragging session. Last Friday I couldn't take it anymore. I don't know how often I will go now which makes me really sad. At the same time, I shouldn't feel the need to explain to a grown man that I don't know any woman with such low self esteem that she would naturally assume a man that expresses interest in her is in fact dating and sleeping with three other women. Pathetic.

The point is that as I mentioned in the last blog, I've had a lot of stupid jobs. At what point do I get one that I like and that makes me feel challenged and like I have accomplished something? How much longer will it be and what is it????? Is the answer going into debt for school and then getting another stupid awful job that I have to wear pantyhose for? Negativity is clouding me.

The kitchen is the sanctuary for days like this. Days in which clouds are circling my brain and I just can't focus on anything at all. Sometimes a simple stirring motion can bring me back. Cooking can give me a sense of accomplishment from seeing a project through from start to finish. When it fails then I am lost. If I don't make it to a yoga class on top of this situation then I have lost my mind completely and am a mess.

Sunday I went to the grocery store late because I was wallowing in self pity and also have $50 in my checking account right now. (that's another story) I chose carefully and decided that the chocolate Napoleon will have to wait and I will stick with the recipe as I know it. I worked on it the exact same time as I was making a few other dishes for the week. What a mess.

Dishes were piling everywhere. I dropped onions on the floor and loose tea that I was guzzling. It was getting near 10pm when I was stirring the custard and I felt as though I was channeling Julie Powell at that moment. She is my inspiration for this blog and would probably find my frenzied mess in the kitchen to be amusing. I however went into a panic.

I realized that I could not bake another dish I was planning in the oven because it would take an hour and a half and then the oven would have an onion scent. This was no place for my puff pastry so I had to scrap that idea despite it being nearly ready to go. The pastry had to take priority. The stir fry I managed to put together looked decent but I realized that I completely forgot to make rice for it and it was cooling already. So I put rice on and half way through that I realized that I wanted to use that pot for the custard and had to use a different one. The pot I ended up using didn't seem to be cleaned properly and when I was stirring the custard weird specs of something came to the top. What the hell? How do restaurant people do this?

I thought of the one day I worked at the restaurant when a man said that the tiramisu tasted funny. I told the owner and when he tasted it the look on his face was sheer terror. Salt. The pastry prep that day had made sheets of tiramisu with salt instead of sugar. Garbage. All of it.

So I remade the custard which wasn't too bad but I did suspect that it was lumpy and I didn't like that at all. When it finally started to form nicely I tasted it and I distinctly tasted garlic. WHAT? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW???????????? To quote a line delivered by one of my favorite artists, Miranda July: "Fuck you. Fuck me. Fuck all people."

I bothered my poor roommate with my insanity at this point. Can you taste this? Do you taste garlic? This is a disaster.

He said that it tasted fine and that it was probably the other stir fry stuff that I had. He seemed annoyed. I didn't eat any of the stir fry, but the spoons were right next to each other so it must have just touched at that moment. Breathe.

Of course the Napoleon was perfect and delicious and sold at the bake sale in twenty minutes. I wish I made the second tray now. Damn.

The stir fry was also one of my best ever. Here are the ingredients in case you're so inclined:

saute onions on low heat until caramelized
add collard greens and cook through
add chopped garlic, ground ginger, and soy sauce
add diced red bell peppers
add grape tomatoes at the very end

Oh my god this is a beautiful, colorful, simple, cheap and delicious veggie meal. Do it. Trust me.

I'm not sure if this was luck or what but I did feel slightly better due to these successes. They haven't taken away my headaches or confusion but they helped. I think those that bought the Napoleon might have been a little uplifted that day too.

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