I realized recently that I am often compartmentalizing. Friend groups; appropriate topics of conversation therein; the year by season; music by playlist; and, most recently, books by Kindle folder.
(Aside: 800-odd books later, I’ve finally invested in a Kindle. The future is now.)
It’s one of those things that reminds me of the extent of my neurosis. Having a mental grid where things must belong, a metaphoric handbag with thousands of pockets designated for particular things. A cross-section of my brain would probably look like a filing cabinet. Which is a mental image that makes me want to die, a little bit. (So much neurosis.)
Shockingly, I was not always like this. I was quite a carefree child, in fact. Artistic; always sketching in the margins of notebook papers; experimenting with watercolors and charcoals on canvas and sketchpads; molding clay or carving foam; and, eventually, graduating to digital painting with graphic tablets to accompany my shoddy web-designing (I still remember vividly how my 13-year-old face lit up like a Christmas tree when dad gifted me an absolutely gorgeous Wacom tablet). I don’t know when it died down, my love of art. College, I expect. Other obligations got in the way, as they always do.
(The tragedy of growing up.)
“I was reading this Thought Catalog piece titled something like ‘Signs your Friend is a Badass’, and you fit them all.”
My phone chirped brightly, signaling a message from Roods. Having lived together for over half a year, it was disconcerting not having seen her for
four so many days. The distance apart left us communicating via text and the occasional FaceTime chat – though mostly so I could help her remove the attachments on the stand mixer – and inciting looks of incredulity from my mother for our unanticipated bout of codependency.
I glanced at the screen and scoffed at her message before typing one of my own. “Did it mention getting into fights with pieces of wood and losing? Because if so then I can understand the sentiment.”
A few seconds later, another chirp. “You have a BLACK EYE. That is SO badass.”
I winced and absentmindedly reached a hand to brush at the cut near the corner of my eye. “That’s because I SLAMMED MY FACE into a kitchen cabinet, in case you’ve forgotten.” I pressed the ice pack gingerly against the still-bruising lid, feeling the coolness wash over the blinding stinging in a wave of relief.
“Whatever. Still badass.”
I snorted and tapped the screen off, stretching off the couch and slinking back toward the kitchen for the day’s third round of pain pills.
I’m the type of person that prides herself on having her shit together, so to speak. Typically level-headed, rarely emotional, a stoic wall of realism and rationality. So the last few weeks have been a rather unwelcome change in my routine.
It’s as though the world is resting on a different plane; a mirror of reality tilted a few degrees past the point of comfort.
Turkey was a month ago, but it feels a lifetime away. I haven’t had as much time to dwell on the loss as I feared, though, since my days following arrival back in the States were spent flying from city to city; transporting crates of furniture and boxes of a life haphazardly printed on coffee mugs and pages of unread books; catching up with family and old friends; trying to assemble a picture of the upcoming months from puzzle pieces cut like shards of broken glass. It has been exciting and nerve-wracking and utterly overwhelming.
“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”
There’s quite little I remember about this weekend besides consuming an outrageous amount of cheese.
Well, no, that’s not all. There was some baking involved. Which is not actually so obvious since these photos are recycled from almost two years ago. But, Friday afternoon was dreary and rainy and the weather did not make for good natural lighting for photography, so I think this is acceptable.
I also really just needed easy access to this recipe and figured the Food Blog was an obvious choice.
Noosh and I have always had an unconventional way of celebrating. Whether it be the end of a busy semester, the completion of a long assignment, the bright festivities of the holiday season, or a long-awaited birthday.
By that, of course, I mean that we hole up in our apartment with absolutely zero intention of leaving the living room, and all of our efforts are spent on ensuring the accessibility to and consumption of good food. As I type, in fact, we’re lying here on the floor, surrounded by throw pillows and knit blankets, a platter of cake and tin of sweetened cream at our fingertips, only a few small bites away from a food coma with The Man in the Iron Mask playing on the telly.
Maybe not the most celebratory of 22nd birthdays, but as far as I can tell, we’re pretty content.
When most people think of the holidays, they consider the lingering taste of eggnog on the tongue, glittering baubles and tinsel dancing merrily among the dark greens of Christmas trees, and heaping plates of cookies waiting to be sifted through by greedy fingers.
Much of my childhood was spent the same way, with my mother baking up batches of sugar cookies in the shapes of reindeer, evergreen trees, and snowmen waiting to be frosted with brightly colored icings and sugary sprinkles. Plus, since we never did the whole Santa thing, my childhood memories of Christmas time are primarily centered around baking with mum.
Which, you know, I adore.
But, in all honesty, I’ve never been much of a non-drop-cookie person. (Drop cookies being those that you scoop out of the bowl by the spoonful and plop haphazardly on lined sheets without any regard for aesthetics.)
I don’t know what it is about it, but I don’t find the process particularly enjoyable. The consumption, yes, for sure. But having to bend down over and over to pull enormous sheets in and out of the oven, ensuring that the dough doesn’t over-warm while waiting to be rolled out, meticulously stamping said rolled-out dough with intricate cutters and transferring them with the utmost care. Childhood was always nice because mum was the one to do all the hard work, while Yusra and I were left with the not-so-greuling task of eating until our stomachs hurt. But since leaving, I’ve not been one to bake up batches of cookies for friends or myself.
I’m quite the expert at losing things. It’s pretty unbelievable, actually, since I’m so type-A about organization, but there you have it. The list is extensive: one out of two socks (seven and counting), hair clips (hundreds), chapsticks (at least twenty), water bottles (three; one last week), German textbooks (one, yesterday), iPods (one, last year).
Usually, the things I lose don’t come back, lost in the abyss of where-the-hell-did-I-put-that-damn-cellphone-again for all eternity. But sometimes, they do.
And sometimes, it’s an iPod playing on the speaker system of one of your favorite cafes that makes you realize that one person’s lost $150 mp3 player is another person’s treasure.
So, here I am, sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops downtown, having hauled myself out of bed and into the city with every intention of getting some much-needed reading done. Instead, I have decided that, with a mug of steaming hot apple cider by my side and an inexpressible excitement about a looming encounter with the Dalai Lama in 3 hours, I’ll write. I did bake, which is shocking feat in and of itself, but that’s not what this post is about.
Mostly, and most importantly, it’s a story. A true story, at that, and kind of an incredible one. Because sometimes the world works in very wondrous ways.
I’ve always had this bizarre sort of problem where people expect me to be much older than I actually am, and then seem affronted when I inform them otherwise. It’s like it’s somehow my fault that I’m not already 23 or that I haven’t graduated uni yet, as if I’m hanging around here for my own health instead of going to classes because I’ve got 9 credit hours left before they’ll give me a diploma.
I remember one instance in particular, during my senior year of high school, an afternoon after classes spent at one of my favorite cafes in the city with a bowl of Asian-inspired chicken salad and Italian language textbook. I was there on my own – not an unusual occurrence – absentmindedly flipping through verb conjugations while none-too-discreetly following a particularly appealing member of the waitstaff out of the corner of my eye. He was, incidentally, one that I’d had my eye on for a few weeks by then, primarily out of fascination of his mysteriously sandy blond locks and sleeve tattoos carefully hidden under the black, longsleeved button down he was forced to don for work.
(I know of the sleeve tattoos only because I happened to be eating there with a friend when he came in, fresh out of the nearby university gym in Nike shorts and a perfectly tight A-shirt, head bobbing subtly to what I can only imagine was the distasteful rap music social constructs seem to brainwash us to listen to when we’re lifting weights, but nonetheless. It was sexy.)