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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dear friends,

I never thought I would be glad to lose access to TypePad -- normally when I can't access my account I get all gibbery and enraged, and fantasize firing a pair of pistols into the ground so vigorously that I actually rise a foot off the ground, like Yosemite Sam -- but today a little down time worked in my favor.  I have spent this quiet Sunday morning writing about disappointment, about how I used to be more resilient, and better able to bounce back from disappointment, but lately I have not been particularly bouncy.  I retold the tale, now told so frequently that I could probably tell it whilst suspended in a coma, of how I wanted to bake bread more than anything in the world; how even an unpaid apprenticeship at a commercial bakery, where I learned that baking bread as a business is a whole different thing from baking it at home, only cemented my resolve; how I wrote the business plan and went directly to the Small Business Administration, whose counselors were very kind and helpful, but who also pointed out that without more industry experience, I would only be able to receive a line of credit equivalent to one-tenth of my startup costs; how I backed away in fear and let the dream shrivel; how, in an attempt to find something to do with all the time I used to spend making plans for the bakery, I applied for a fellowship to a writer's colony in Arkansas, a fellowship I was certainly not qualified to get; how I actually won that fellowship and -- surprise! -- found myself knocked up with a compelling but wildly impractical topic for a book; how the research for the book was going gangbusters, and then one day it wasn't, and I found myself facing the loss of nerve yet again.  I wrote of the nature of entropy, disappointment and fear.  I think I even mentioned my Six Feet Under death, a nightmare fantasy in which I'm sitting in the cubicle at LuthorCorp, typing furiously in response to another email from another customer who wants to spend ten cents on a carton that costs us five dollars to make, while more emails and phone calls roll in from angry people who threaten to beat me with a sock full of doorknobs unless I get their cartons delivered RIGHT NOW...and suddenly my head rocks forward, my posture gets slouchier even as I still manage to stay sitting up, and my fingers freeze on the keyboard.  The phone continues to ring, the new email indicator continues to bwip.  The screen goes white; only my name and dates remain.

It was not, shall we say, a lighthearted romp around the mind of a bakerina.

Fortunately, the whimsical universe was on my side, and the whole thing vanished in a puff of 404 message.  I pulled up the paste buffer -- for if there's one lesson I learned the first time I lost a long post, it's to draft it in a paste buffer -- made a few stylistic changes, re-blocked it to copy and paste, and then my fingers froze (but not because I was dead, thankfully).  Why was I flogging this tired old story again?  Why was I behaving like the worst stereotype of the gloomy Swede?  Just what the hell is wrong with me, anyway?

Thank you in advance, dear friends, for not answering that last question.

I am old and wise enough to know that one little epiphany is not going to answer all of those disappointment/fear/entropy questions.  I also know that there is no magic bullet for creativity, that for every minute of clear thought flowing from brain to fingertips, I have to put in at least another 59 minutes of typing, deleting, retyping, deleting, retyping, deleting, checking a primary text for source material and inspiration, putting down the laptop and getting a bowl of cereal, retyping, deleting, announcing to Lloyd that this is it, I've had my last good idea and I should just quit now and leave the writing to people who can actually do it, cracking my fingers, and repeating all of the above until, miracle of miracles, I have finished the essay in question, and know that I am done for at least one more day.  I know that I have to stop fretting, find some intestinal fortitude and act like a damn adult already and write that frelling book, or open that frelling bakery -- or, heaven forfend, both.

Well, I can be a responsible adult later.  Now, though, I can do something much more fun:  I can finish my coffee, fix something nice and light for lunch, and then head down to this bakery, where I will have the pleasure of spending the afternoon with some truly outstanding foodwriters and thinkers, namely Julie, Luisa, Cathy (visiting from points south) and Zarah (visiting from points east -- waaaay east).  If the company of these fabulous women doesn't beat the stuffing out of what ails me, then I don't deserve a place at the table.

Before I head out, though, dear friends, a few photos to share.  Even with all this talk of entropy, I haven't let the baking/canning/knitting urge go entirely dormant.  I've been trying to keep to a regular schedule of breadbaking, the sure sign of stability in an uncertain world, at least as far as I'm concerned.  When I get home tonight, I will get our sandwich bread started, and I might even take a bash at the grapefruit cake.  Until then, I do have the picture about which Lindy asked, the second half of the What's for Pud? bake, the fabulous Cumberland Nickies.  (At least they would have been fabulous had I checked the box carefully, and discovered that it only contained 10 ounces, and not a full pound, of currants.  The resulting nickies were rummy and raisiny and sugary, but headache-inducingly sweet, thanks to my skimping on the currants.  A little vanilla ice  cream helped, though, and I'm betting that if I'd used enough currants, this would be a near-perfect dessert.  Of course, there's only one way to find out...


Edit:  Although I am learning how to knit, in general I haven't been writing about it here -- not because I don't believe in writing about knitting (I'm a big believer in writing about knitting, actually smile, but because I just don't have the knowledge base and command of language with knitting, at least not enough to be comfortable writing about it.  So while I've been filling up my commuting time with various and sundry knitting projects, I've been a bit shy about sharing.  But even I can't help feeling the tiniest smidgen of pride about this one:  Snow insisted that I could crack the code on lace; I told her she was clearly insane, but I went ahead and ordered a pattern from a designer with a brilliant eye (who is also a lovely woman to boot).  This is not relaxation knitting, at least not yet; this is knitting where I have to be very, very mindful of every single stitch, and not let my thoughts wander to thoughts of work, or of something stupid I did once when I was nine, for such thoughts are the path to miscounted stitches and munged pattern repeats.  And yet, and is hard to describe how happy it makes me to have taken the plunge, to tackle a project that requires that kind of awareness, and to realize that maybe all this stuff outside my grasp, well, maybe it's not.


Posted by Bakerina at 01:46 PM in • (0) Comments
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