Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Here's To Breaking Things

The winter quarter ended along with, you know, everything else. The only things left standing are my ability to throw together a kicking meal (albeit on a more restricted budget in the future) and my voice, which does nothing but complain.

I have a tendency for the dramatic (if you haven’t noticed). Every once in a while, the bike I’m riding breaks down (in this case literally; I broke the wheel of my bike) and I just throw it away and start again on a brand new bike and on a brand new trail. I went on a diet five years ago when I was about 20 to 30 pounds heavier (it’s hard to tell because I didn’t weigh myself much). Diets aren’t successful for most people, but for someone with my personality type (ENFJ, if you must know), they are fantastic. It’s invigorating to throw out old habits and start all over again. Of course, I gave it up after a couple months, but that was enough to change my life. New Year’s resolutions are great for me. I’m simultaneously self-analytical (to a fault) and persistent, which means I'm constantly trying to better myself in a one-step process. So when things started to sort of unceremoniously unravel in the past couple weeks, I was ready with a plan. Or perhaps the plan was ready for me.

I got fired. Well, I should (less dramatically) say that the steady contributing editor position I held at a newsweekly was given to somebody else (in the sales department, I might add), but they still want me to write for them. I found out and was a little crushed. I loved parts of that job. A lot. I drove 12 hours round-trip in winter weather for a story about George Paul’s artisanal vinegar, I get to hear about people’s lives and passions told through their food, and it sort of feels like that was shat on. But in the same vein, I understand why, and a week or so away from the let down, I’m a little relieved to go home from eight (or so) hours at work or school and not have to churn out a story or interview someone. But it feels devastating in a way because writing is what I love, it’s what I do, it’s what I want to do, and a door closed feels a little like all doors closed.

My bike broke, I bent a wheel on my car running over a pothole, I let go of a friendship and nearly lost another. Writing about the loss of friends at the end of statement like that makes it seem like no big deal, like they’re as easy to fix as a bent tire rim. I wish it were. With letting go, I hope that means I can come back. I do, I really do. Many times, I want to call or email and say that I take it all back and that I can get through on a bent wheel until the entire thing just breaks or maybe the road we’re on is already bumpy and a friendship with a bunch of dents in it doesn’t matter because it wasn’t going to be a smooth ride anyway. I need more time, time to fix my wheel. And then there’s the other friendship, the one nearly lost, which in the end exposed me to be a complete crazy person. I’m not the only one who acts completely irrational in this world. In fact, I would defend my actions (most of them) and am grateful that my friend was willing to hash everything out.

Then there’s dating. I am complete and total failure at dating. No one aces it, I know. And if you do, keep it to yourself thank you. My mom said it is supposed to be fun (is it?). For me, dating has never been fun. It occurred to me, well it occurred to my mom and sister who then told me, that I’m trying too hard and I should just give it up for a while. So I did. I am doing the cliché thing that everyone says they do right before they meet somone (gag me please all you people with your rose-colored hind-sight): I am giving up dating for something like a Lenten period. Forty days of not worrying about meeting a guy here or flirting with someone there or not making a fool of myself in this or that situation. The first thing I did was to give up Facebook. I have spent an entire week away from Facebook with barely a temptation to return.

On my first day off after the quarter ended, I fixed my car and set to work on fixing myself. Self-help, as far as I can tell—and I am no expert—involves quite a bit of journaling, venting to all your friends and doing the things that you love. One of the things I love is, as you may guess, cooking.

I finally learned something useful from my soup and sauce cookery class, and that is integral sauce made from pan sucs. For this sauce, I seared the outside of a whole chicken (divided into legs, thighs and breasts) to crisp up the skin and baked it at 350 degrees for a little less than an hour, leaving all those beautiful juices in the bottom of the pan. I removed the chicken once cooked and set to work on the sauce by deglazing the pan with a bit of dry white wine. I poured in some hot chicken stock and added beurre manie, which is equal parts flour and butter kneaded to a smooth consistency (about one-fourth a cup will do for one chicken). I brought the sauce to a boil to cook out the flour flavor and then served it sprinkled with fresh tarragon and alongside new potatoes and green beans. Ice cream for dessert and Nebraska Brewing Co. beer. It was a good meal in my almost excellent life.


Anonymous said...


Jess said...

this is fantastic. I'll clink your glass in cheers to breaking things. I (also ENFJ) have been struggling with a friendship that I'd almost rather not fix, at this point. I think that giving up FB would be fabulous for me, too. and making more things.
sorry to hear about the job loss. you are a great writer, I *love* your writing, and I know that it fuels you and it will continue to be central in your life whether or not it is your job.
cheers to you!