Wednesday, July 18, 2007

the way that I linger, the way that I lie

Sometimes you have to be careful with what you write. If you write something and it cuts too close, it can crawl under your own skin. You let it get to you and it occupies your mind, coloring everything that happens afterwards. Everything that follows somehow serves as supporting evidence. You can let this happen and fall down a rabbit hole.

But, as my favorite poem goes, one train may hide another. One instant, one feeling, one momentary surge of frustration does not the whole truth contain. I felt myself catching fire today, and then I stepped into the shower and barked, "alright, enough, stop," sternly to myself.

Some things can be fixed and some things cannot be fixed, and while this is often a hard reality to accept, it is reality. If you do not believe me, have a look at The Year of Magical Thinking (it might also explain the rather overwrought nature of my last post).

After I had given myself a firm talking to, I made phone calls, arrangements, appointments. Tomorrow morning comes the lists. The lists are usually a sign that I've stopped all the dawdling and started actually doing.

But, in lighter matters, there are the series of unfortunate experiments that needed to reach completion. Ever since Barcelona, I've had it in my head that chocolate and ginger make an interesting combination. Fooling around with an oatmeal cookie recipe, I decided to throw in some chocolate chips with some crystallized ginger. The results were not photographed, because they were consumed rather quickly. Now, that might sound like success, but it was absolute failure. The ginger was so mild that it was undetected, so everyone thought they were eating a chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. I was taking this seriously, so I treated it like a true experiment and kept track of the results:

pulling your puzzles apart

I'm not usually this deliberate when I'm baking. Even though I am convinced I find a lot of solace in the kitchen because of its inherent parallel to the work I did in the laboratory, I usually fiddle with things without keeping much track of what I am doing- not particularly scientific. The broseph expressed his annoyance that I was unable to reproduce anything I made, so I started keeping a makeshift lab notebook that I'd scrawl in when I thought something had turned out alright. But this was the first time in a while that I was working on optimization.

Now, you might think that, armed with these notes, I would be good to go. In that case, you would be giving me far too much credit. I wound up with these:

always so lost in the dark

There is no better example of how looks can be deceiving than the above picture. Looks perfectly harmless. But let's just say that I was so annoyed with the outcome that I didn't even open these up for public consumption. I'd varied the recipe exactly as I'd directed myself to. But I was just plain wrong. Chocolate and ginger may be an excellent combination, but not in my hands, not in cookies, not with crystallized ginger. The chocolate is just too overpowering a flavor. If I was going to try this again, which, hey, you never know with me, I would add fresh ginger. Of course, that would probably end in fiasco too, but there you have it. In the meanwhile, I retreated and decided to revert to my original intention, which was fiddling with an oatmeal cookie recipe. And from that, I discovered that crystallized ginger and pecans combine together just fine:

it's not what you thought when you first began it

There is nothing special about these, but you can taste the ginger, and any time I can make an oatmeal cookie without a raisin, I feel I've done my part in this world. It's funny how this cookie bares no resemblance to my initial desire to marry chocolate and ginger. Maybe I am too quick to give up, to decide they are not meant to be, to find them less troublesome partners. Maybe they will meet again in the future and find a way to coexist peacefully- they just haven't yet determined what can bind them together without discord.

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