Archive for November, 2008

The Demon Baker

So, here we are again. Another holiday.

I got so excited, I made a pie.


And decorated the crust with little snowmen…


…that I brutally chopped in half and baked until golden brown.

You know my idea of a good holiday?


It’s totally going to catch on. I can feel it.


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29 Days of … something

So, according to my little calendar, I supposedly finished my 29 days of giving a few days ago. I would say I was maybe 60% successful in this endeavor. Also, I have a hard time writing things down right now so maybe I actually did better but didn’t write it down and then forgot. It’s entirely possible.

It was a nice little exercise, though. I thought many interesting thoughts. For some reason, the hours I spent cantoring at a different parish this month as a personal devotion didn’t count to me. Because I had planned it in advance? Or because I messed up sometimes? Or just because they didn’t have a vote on whether or not to listen to me sing? And does it count that I spend almost my entire existence giving to my family right now? Does that diaper change count? Or that story time? Or the dinner that I made? Because that seems like my regular job now – a base line job description. But I ran into issues when I tried to give to people outside my little family too. Does it count if you offer something to someone but they refuse? Or what if there is a few days of lag time between your offer and their acceptance? Does that count twice? Or what if you offer something to someone and it doesn’t work out and then you give it to someone else, and the gift itself is in no way diminished by the prior offer, does that count twice?

It made me remember that the only thing I can control is myself – I can’t make someone accept what I am offering. I am only able to control my actions and intentions. If I start focusing on the acceptance of my gifts, the reactions that come with them, and whether or not they had the impact that I was hoping for… I’m sunk.

It all comes back to pride, of course. Stupid flaw.

Because while I am generally recognized as being intelligent and occasionally mature and every once in a while kind, I really shouldn’t be trying to impose my beliefs and standards on the people around me. It’s way above my pay grade, as they say. Now, there are some specific situations in my life where my way is clearly the BETTER way, and I am going to defend that till I die. But when it comes to most things, most day to day, human interaction type things… I just don’t have access to all the information that would justify my interpretation. So all I can do is offer something, and let someone else decide if that is right for them or not.

This may seem like a strange seasonal juxtaposition, but one of the highlights of my year is singing the Ash Wednesday mass. It doesn’t change much from year to year, and it’s the downtown working crowd rather than our usual weekend regulars and visitors crowd, but I think that’s what I like about it. One of the songs that we (I) sing while hundreds of people get their faces dirtied is called (so fittingly) Ashes. And the verse I like best is this:

We offer you our failures, we offer you attempts

The gifts not fully given, the dreams not fully dreamt

Give our stumblings direction, give our visions wider view

An offering of ashes, an offering to you.

In looking up the lyrics online I found some people who REALLY don’t like this song and accused it of being New Age (??), which I totally don’t get. But based on their comments I don’t know that I would get their flavor of Catholicism either, so maybe that’s fair. To me, the song is about really accepting and recognizing that we all fuck it up. Everyone. At some point, there isn’t anyone who hasn’t screwed the pooch. And when you really sit and look at how badly you are making a mess of things, at least for me, there is a point where you say, damn. Maybe it would be better if I just stopped trying and then I would stop making so many mistakes. And that is EXACTLY what we can not do. Why we ask forgiveness for both ‘what I have done, and what I have failed to do‘.

A few weeks ago the gospel reading at mass was Mathew 25:14-30, about the servants and the talents. It was nice to be at this new parish, where our former priest was assigned, and hear him give the homily. It was about fear, he said. We don’t know when our time here is going to be over, but if we have been doing our work we have nothing to fear. What we really can’t be afraid of is making attempts. The servant who was so afraid of losing that he failed to act is the one who really lost out. God knows that what we are trying is VERY VERY RISKY. We are going to fail, at least sometimes, guaranteed. The point is that we aren’t going to make any progress if we aren’t willing to try.

So, back to the 29 days of giving. I failed. I sometimes failed pretty spectacularly (How about I catch your bathrobe on fire and burn my hand on your dinner, so that you must rush home from your very demanding job? How’s that for a gift?) But when I felt like I failed the most, it was because I was judging my efforts by the reactions and impact of my gifts, not on my attempts. My real failures were when I didn’t even try.

Now I am going through the Christmas shopping process (Bah Humbug. Fo shizzle.) And I am anxious, as I am so often anxious right now. Will this be good enough? Will they like it? Will they think that I am a terrible person who doesn’t know or appreciate them or understand them at all? Or will they not get us something and then I am left looking too needy and desperate for their affection? Will they think I should have spent more money, which I really don’t have right now? Will this gift expose me as the horribly flawed and self-centered person that I am?

Really productive and festive, no?

How about TOTALLY NOT THE POINT? How about, I am going to worry about my intentions and nothing else? I am going to give gifts that I have considered thoughtfully, that are reflective of my current financial situation, that are as environmentally gentle as possible. I am going to squeeze some good will and cheer and love through these gifts and out into the world. Whether my gift recipients choose to receive that or not is out of my control. My job is to try. And probably to fail. And then try some more.

So thanks, 29 day giving challenge. Even though my calendar is pretty blank, I think it was a worthwhile little project. (Also, awesome design work. Very appealing. Think I could get a new blog design for Christmas? Pretty please?)

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Darker Days

Is it me, or did the world suddenly just get darker?

I mean this both literally and figuratively, since the jack-holes that decided DST was such a great idea have fucked with us yet again. Needless to say, I have only experienced a few years (2? Maybe?) of this phenomenon and I do not enjoy it. Maybe if I had been raised to think that time was malleable to the whims of man and daylight could be ‘saved’… but I digress.

So, yeah. Some heavy shit has been going down lately. Economy. Election. Global warming. But also on a personal level, the holidays are fast approaching and the crazy is increasing daily. There are so many great tragedies and hardships available in the world, I think that it is only fair that periodically you get to swap yours for someone elses. Anyone looking for a matched pair of mentally ill/codependent parents? With bonus physical health issues thrown in for free? I am up for just about anything else – personal health affliction, financial issues, grief, etc. etc. I am just so very tired of watching them hurt themselves over and over and over again. Some new and different suffering might be just the ticket!

Although I am going to say, mad props to my mom. Because she has been working very hard at getting better lately. Too bad the rest of them have been picking up the crazy-making slack.

I guess my post-partum grace period expired and now I have to deal with it all over again, with angry diatribes from other family members to boot. [HORK.]

If  only I could find a way to handle all this crap (plus sleep deprivation, DST, terrible economy, deepset issues about not being financially independent, Mr. K’s ‘Re-org’ and overtime situation…) without dealing with my dear old friend, the panic attack. It’s like it would be bad enough having to deal with any of these things, but feeling hot and cold and dizzy and nauseated while doing it is just that extra kick in the pants.

It’s not that I can’t enjoy things –  BabyK and I had an excellent playtime this afternoon – but that my enjoyment of them is smashed so quickly, because the phone rang and it could be bad and RUN! HIDE! FIND SHELTER! THROW UP! PASS OUT! DIE! ESCAPE!

You know. Just the way you always dreamed playtime would be.

So back to the therapist’s couch I go. I don’t know that there are many other options for dealing with it as A) hello, they’re crazy and they’re not going to snap out of it and B) still nursing, so no Xanax or beta-blockers and C) Mr. K’s overtime schedule + BabyK’s schedule = not a whole lot of time to get to the gym and D) sleep what?

I really enjoyed these brief few months of not driving 30 minutes one way to sit and talk about my problems with the special friend I employ for that purpose. I like her very much and even missed her, but sadly she is not my actual friend and there was no getting together for coffee and how well do I even know her when all I’ve done is talk about myself for the past four years? It was nice to not have to go through the list every week: this person did this, and nothing is happening here, and this is freaking me out, and I feel bad about myself for this reason.

At least I have a bunch of new(er) material with which to entertain her on Wednesday. If only I could surprise her with something fresh and different. How about, well, at least they ruined my (up until that point, perfectly lovely) birthday so that whole turning 29 thing didn’t seem to matter much anymore?

I can’t really remember, but I’m afraid that I’ve used that one already.

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How To: Ruin Halloween Cookies

Step 1: Decide that this year will feature ‘reverse trick or treating’, in which goodies are made and distributed to the houses that we visit. Conclude that nothing will befit one’s status as domestic goddess like homemade Halloween shaped cookies.

Step 2: Consult 2 different books on appropriate recipes for said cookies. Decide to use Best Recipe, but keep the other book on hand, just in case.

Step 3: Send hubby on week-long business trip. Baby’s acid reflux cuts maximum sleep time to 90 minutes, life falls apart.

Step 4: Rebuild life sufficiently to tackle mountain of dirty dishes and make cookies the day before Halloween. Motivated by guilt for lack of goddesslike domesticity, decide to make new recipe for dinner. Spend 8 consecutive hours in the kitchen, making cookie dough, making dinner, and rolling out dough. Have friend over for Thursday night TV viewing, but spend time standing in kitchen cutting out cookies instead.

Step 5: Following recipe guidelines, it seems like cookies are too thin. Halloween crackers, more like.

Step 6: Getting tired, start making irregular shaped circle cookies with leftover dough.

Step 7: Get up the next morning and enter destroyed kitchen with trepidation. Put on Halloween mix tape and start icing. Use other glaze recipe, which seems suspiciously easy.  

Step 8: Take bite of iced cookie and think the glaze tastes like too much powdered sugar. Fear that you have ruined the cookies, but they look good so you keep on going. Adding food coloring, you complete icing for ghosts and cats.

Step 9: Make chocolate glaze for bat cookies. Realize you will not be paid to ice cookies anytime soon. Cranky Baby decides he MUST assist you. Put him in sling, continue icing cookies while trying to keep little fingers from getting into the chocolate. Fail at keeping fingers from chocolate.  Start dipping cookies in the glaze and then spreading it out. Much faster, much messier.

Step 10: Decide that you will use the Best Recipe icing for the pumpkin cookies. Don’t re-read it, just assume you know what it says. Dye icing ‘sunset orange’. Icing is much thinner and more liquid, but assume that means that you have corrected your errors from the previous batch, which seemed too thick. Discover that the pumpkin stem is very handy for dredging cookies through icing. How fast and easy!

Step 11: Leave cookies to dry, eat lunch and change baby. Put baby down for nap.

Step 12: Pumpkin cookies are much too wet. They will never dry in time, and the glaze is so thin that they don’t look iced at all. Resolve to start over.

Step 13: One cup sifted powdered sugar, one and 1/2 tablespoons of milk seems like appropriate ratio. Re-dye, re-ice. Lay very sticky (on both sides) cookies on parchment paper on a cookie sheet (which hasn’t been washed from last night, but there was parchment paper last night too).

Step 14: In stroke of brilliance, turn oven to 250 degrees and pop cookies in to dry. Think very self-congratulatory thoughts as you load dishwasher.

Step 15: Forget cookies in zeal for order and cleanliness.

Step 16: Remove blistered, sick looking cookies from oven. Hope that you have saved one sheet.

Step 17: Try to move cookies from parchment paper to drying rack. In all their ooey-gooeyness they break and stick to the paper.

Step 18: Console yourself by thinking that at least you can post this tragedy on the interwebs in hopes of saving someone else’s holiday treats.

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