It’s Come to This

I’m a bad cook. Seriously bad. By the time a woman reaches her mid-forties, she should possess a vast repertoire of go-to recipes that are repeatable success stories. I do not have this, partly because I decided to stop eating all animal products 2 years ago and so had to basically throw out all of my stand-by foods, and partly because I just don’t have that cooking gene.

I don’t improvise, for example. I follow a recipe and hope to hell it turns out as promised.

This coming weekend, in a week, we are hosting a big dinner at our house. Attending this dinner are my mother in law and my 2 stepdaughters who are foodies to the nth degree. And everyone eats meat. I just…can’t. I can do all the cleaning and I am a good kitchen assistant, but the I cannot be head cook. Nope nope nope. Luckily, Husband is good at wrangling food and slinging hash. And I’m good at looking busy.

Husband, who is the most consistently supportive man ever, reluctantly admitted last weekend that I am a terrible cook. This admission made me snort with laughter, that I actually got him to admit something unflattering about me.

Perfect attendance for me at work next week, for reasons I will explain later.

 

I can’t handle a bunch of screaming pre-teen girls

I can’t handle having a house full of kids for a sleepover, and it takes a lot of convincing for me to agree to having more than 1 extra kid at a time. So when girl midget approaches me about having a slumber party (was there ever an event more poorly named?), my initial reaction is NO. Inevitably, I’m asked Why Not, because what possible objection could I have for not having 5 pre-teens in my home for a sleepover?! God, Mom, we’ll just take over your living, dining, and kitchen, never sleep a wink, scream regularly, and make a terrible mess for which we will feel no responsibility to clean up. But mostly, I can’t adequately explain my No to my child.

How can a child understand clinical depression when most adults don’t either? It’s much more than being sad. It’s like an ever-present inertia, and I’m trying to force a gigantic cruise ship do a sharp 90 degree right turn. I never succeed in that turn, but I turn the ship enough to stay on course. I hold onto the wheel with all of my force, make the turn, then loosen my grip a little. Bit by bit, I loosen my grip, veering off course slightly but still generally going in the right direction. Soon after that, I find myself too far off my path and I have to make another dramatic turn to: get myself to work, work at my job, clean the kitchen, get the laundry started, walk the dogs, scour the bathroom, and do anything besides sitting or laying down, staring at a tv, a wall, my phone, or a book. I doubt my midgets would be able to understand that analogy. I’m not sure I understand it. I’ve felt this way for so long that it feels unfortunately normal. I talked to my doctor last week about all of this and nothing came of that discussion. So….I guess I have to keep pushing for a remedy? Depressed people are not good at pushing, not most of the time. Sporadically, yes, but not when I’m in a lull.

Little things help perk me up: an iced coffee, a walk with my dogs (if I can get myself out of the house), quiet time with one of my midgets, dinner with husband, working on a crochet project with a well-written pattern, surveying my tidy home that I just cleaned, or creating a vegan food item that looks and tastes good, and is eaten by members of my household.

I’m Super Grumpy. So effing what?

This morning I walked my dogs 3 kms, returned home, got ready for work and then rode my bike to work another 7.5 kms. (Don’t be too impressed. I still look all of my 44 years and not in a 44-is-the-new-34 sort of way) During my trudging, I listened to the Monday Morning pod cast, produced each week by Bill Burr. He is a grumpy comedian, my favourite kind. I’m reveling in my sour mood because I’m not at this moment able to do anything else about it. I might as well relax and accept what is.

I am also a big fan of Mom of 4 is Tired. It’s honest, funny, and relatable. And she is often grumpy too, or at least a little pessimistic about the state of her world. My sister in arms, basically.

Keep yourself entertained today and don’t think about the suffering in the world and all the children and animals who are in peril and how much your job sucks that you’re lucky to have, and how messy your house is, and how you have no idea what food to assemble for dinner because it’s all so overwhelming. And don’t think about how wonderful your kids are and marvel they turned out so well (so far) given how much neglect they have probably (but hopefully not) suffered because of your own depression and other shit.

Amy Schumer is another one to watch. Check out this little skit on pious dog owners.

 

A weekend of very little talking: A love story 

This weekend, husband is off on a short trip to visit far-away family. The midgets are with their dad. I have a few days on my own, and I’m looking forward to it. I will have no responsibilities, no obligations, and no noise except that which I create myself or is created by the dogs. 

I feel about these upcoming days the same as a hungry person sitting down to a plate of good food. I will savour every moment! 

On Monday the cacophony resumes.

As an aside, I don’t want to try any more recipe iPhone apps. Unless that code will shop, prepare, and clean up after a meal, there’s nothing new in it for me to discover. Nothing. 

Apparently there are limits!

When boy midget is 30, I will tell him that when he was 13 yrs old, I pulled a dastardly evil April Fool’s joke on him.

I’m quite the prankster on April 1, which means that by now everyone suspects me of pulling pranks that day and so I am unable to fool anyone. To get around that for this year, I laid the ground work early. I planted the seeds, if you will. I sprung upon boy a fake letter from a local catholic school (all boys, uniforms, etc.) that told him he would have to attend this September. Why is this dastardly? Because boy does not want to go to this school, and has his heart set on the local high school that all of his friends are attending.

I created a fake envelope too, and had boy retrieve it from our mailbox on Friday. Yesterday, Monday, I told him he needed to read it and then we would talk. I waited for the cries of protest and outrage but instead I saw tragic tears of despair. This behaviour continued all of last evening. This morning he and I briefly chatted some more about the letter, along with husband, and it became clear that boy barely slept last night because he was so upset about the school situation.

To preserve my credibility, I texted him midday today to tell him I had worked it all out and he would attend the high school he had wanted after all, and not to worry about it. His little heart leapt with joy and he immediately texted me back his relief.

I hadn’t realized the amount of power I have over my midgets. I didn’t expect him to believe this fake letter, or get so upset about it. I didn’t understand he hangs on my every word and depends on me to help him through life. The reason for my lack of understanding is because I feel like I tell my midgets what to do over and over, and see them do the exact opposite, or act as if I haven’t even spoken. It’s good to know my words penetrate and my actions make an impression.

Tomorrow morning is April Fool’s morning. I do have a joke planned.

Last year I voiced my goal of ridding our house completely of animal products, but I ended up not being able to complete this. I guess I could have, but that would have created a hostile environment and I would have to endure the dramatics of my midgets, for what? They eat animal stuff with their dad and their caregiver anyway.  As a result of this failed attempt, my midgets made sure to point out my failure to follow through. This April 1 they shall receive their comeuppance when I take a garbage bag and throw out all products from our shelves that contain anything derived from animals. I broached the subject this past weekend, telling them that because they pointed out this shortcoming, I decided they were right that I should follow through with my plans.  This was met with the expected melodramatic reactions. I’m expecting my daughter to behave like Mt. Vesuvius when I clear out the goldfish crackers…

We Don’t Burn Our Food

A few weeks ago, after smelling burnt cooking oil through our vents one too many times, I sent a text to our basement tenants: “I look forward to the day you are no longer burning your food.”

Our tenants are 2 young men from Venezuela, who are here studying English. From the smells emanating from the basement I have concluded they are learning how to cook. They are troopers, I’ll give them that, based on the frequency with which we are subjected to cooking odours that have not been created by us.

The response to my text was the title of this post: “We don’t burn our food.” No smiley face accompanied that message, either. Just 1 more week of this cooking until the tenants move on. I can only imagine the work ahead of us to rid the apartment of manly body odour and cooking oil. Last time we were faced with this was from a family who liked to prepare fried fish. That was a big job, complete with odour-absorbing chemicals and vigorous scrubbing.

These are just 2 examples of why I don’t like to rent the apartment for longer than 2 months at a time. Our next guests are a couple, 1 of whom is a pastry chef. I’m really hoping she likes to cook at home, because that’s a smell I could enjoy.

Why can’t I be grumpy today?

Merry Christmas etc etc etc.

I really need a glass of red right now. Hmmmm. Hard to believe I sort of gave up alcohol about a year ago. Luckily I am not an alcoholic (I swear) and it doesn’t run in my family. Is that really a thing? My dad smoked cigarettes like crazy from age 12 until he keeled over at 55. So obvs he had an addiction problem. Can one inherit cross-addiction? There’s a lot of controversy about alcoholism being a ‘disease’ too. Happily, I don’t have to worry about that for myself.

I also need to think about tonight’s dinner for my family, I guess? I guess.

I’m not exactly grumpy. I’m just not chipper. And that’s not allowed this week.

I need to head out later to do a little more grocery gathering, mostly drinks and vegetables. Surprisingly, everything else is covered. I even finished buying stocking items today. Yes I did!

With all the presents dealt with (just 1 more to wrap, all else is done, wowee I’m amazing), my worries move on to food. What I’m making, when I’m making it, and how the hell am I going to make it through? I might cry.

I looked at a photo album last night of pictures from my childhood. Most of the pics were of birthdays, thanksgiving and Christmas. My mother is not usually in the pictures, of course, because she was always cooking/cleaning/accommodating guests/making everything perfect. Not that we didn’t help, because we definitely did, but putting on a dinner is a huge deal. Duh.

Ok, fine, I’m putting on my boots and going out yet again. I need hemp powder too, for my smoothies.

Did you hear that? That’s my ego dying.

HFS I am tired of cooking for my kids. Tonight I made a fragrant rice and lentils dish, with toasted nuts on top and some mixed veg on the side. Boy midget tried it and ate most of the plate I gave him, after he told me it needed salt (fine) and the veg weren’t cooked enough (false).  At least he ate it? Girl midget sampled a tiny bit, and declared she didn’t like it. I told her that she can now make her own dinners. I meant it, too.

Do I love:

  • looking in our pantry and fridge to see what we have; and
  • search through my recipe books and online to see what I can make from what we have; and
  • preparing an often unfamiliar recipe that I think my kids will eat; and
  • cleaning up the kitchen afterward while raging because my midgets are ridiculous?

Do they think I choose foods on purpose that they won’t like?

They definitely know I don’t like to cook. I’ve made that crystal clear, that I don’t like cooking at the best of times, and especially not when the food I prepare doesn’t get eaten. Why would I like it when people make me work? For no good reason? To what end? Grrrrr.

All of this is happening and Christmas is coming too; traditionally a time when I prepare a lot of foods in anticipation of receiving a crowd. Well, this year I feel pretty crappy about my prospects! So I do believe I will be purchasing a lot of foods, and the ones I d o make, I will make them for myself, Husband, and other guests. My midgets can suck it.

 

Work disguised as a Gift

The world would be a nicer place if everyone understands that I do not cook. I reheat, blend, toast, and occasionally boil.

Giving me a huge amount of produce with the expectation that I will carve out time from my regularly scheduled nap/crochet/reading/sloth/kid/dog time is not a thoughtful gift. It’s just not.

What does it mean to grow up?

I see often posters around that state Growing Up Is Optional, and the like. But what does that mean?

I think you can be mature and responsible but still have a youthful outlook; in fact I think that such an attitude is required when you have so many responsibilities your head might otherwise explode.

I think many people confuse growing up with being mature. Maturity, to me, means your emotions are under control (no tantrums or storming off), you have your finances well in hand or at least you have a workable plan, you are reliable (sorry I broke this iPad/itouch/iPhone/expensive device, I’ll pay to have it fixed), and responsible for your own actions (no making excuses that you didn’t know what you were doing because you were drunk, high, or just really angry). Wow that was a really long sentence but I think clarity is important. I’d hate to be misinterpreted. Husband has said many times that he didn’t really grow up all the way until he was mid-forties. Keep in mind he had his first child at around age 30, second around 34, third around age 41. And he wasn’t grown up at that time?! HFS. Sometimes I wish I had met him earlier than I did (in his early 50s), but upon reflection maybe I’m ok with our timing.

What is with me and cooking? Why can’t I just get it right? And how do normal people have so much prepared foods and snacks in their fridge at all times? Because I sure don’t. I have various raw materials and when I’m called upon to assemble something I’m generally at a loss. Ummmm I can make you a nice vegan thing. But no one I live with wants that. Or they take me up on my offer and a food disaster occurs where the finished product tastes awful. So we end up with a mish-mash of meals. Annoying.

Tonight we’re having guests so I need to get off my arse and clean (I’m great at this although I don’t do it enough either), and cook some stuff that I think people would like and turns out as promised in my recipe books. That’s the impossible dream!