I've always done things in semi-obsessive spurts, which is fine as long as it's a hobby or you're twelve years old. It gets more embarrassing now that I have responsibilities beyond myself and, say, a dog. For example, I'm supposed to keep a house not only in order, but arrange it thoughtfully yet casually and always with a hint of hip irony so that every room reflects who we are inside (geeze thanks, Oprah, HGTV, a million bloggers and apartment therapy).
Meals are more difficult because they require preparation and constant forethought. They should be provided with thought to the habits you want to cultivate for the rest of your kid's life- that's right, this is the first arena in which I have already begun to do things because they are easier, even though I don't like them. Lately I've been seen popping Cheeze Dogs (I am not kidding) in the microwave, genuinely happy that Toby at least remembered to say Weenah, Pweeeez. The word "weiner" and the weiners themselves introduced themselves to us at a certain Montana Toddler Spa, but I ain't gonna lie and say I wouldn't have given them to him myself after seeing him polish them off his plate and ask for more. He's at that stage where he wants only one thing (mostly) for a few days and then, when you're in the groove and on board and have laid in a nice supply he changes his mind. It's frustrating to prepare what he loved every bit of yesterday only to have him leave it and beg for something else. We don't really give in to that within the course of one "meal", but once he goes tepid on something he sticks to it.
J's new job means we actually have the ability to eat dinner together, all at the same time and place, without waiting to eat until 8:30pm. I find myself suddenly unprepared and frozen (ha! because we heat up frozen chemicals for dinner! ha!) in the spotlight, even though I used to fancy myself a proficient enough cook: I even enjoyed it. Now it seems like such a challenge to get real food together and to remember that potatoes are not a vegetable.
In Japan, my closest friend was also into cooking and she knew all the Japanese veggies and such, so we often collaborated in her kitchen, spending hours over a bottle of wine and a mess of impromptu ingredients. That is my favorite kind of cooking, and life.
Nowadays I'm fairly convinced that both in my cooking and in finding some ridiculously small shred of balance to cling to, I am in need of better recipes. I want somebody else to show me what to do, tell me what works. Should I keep trying to sub with all the groups in town or focus on my chamber music and teaching? Should I scramble to get more on my career plate or just let it go for a few years and try to practice consistantly without immediate goals? Should I finally try cooking those wheat berries I bought months ago from the bulk section at Winco or just fall back on 10-minute couscous with parmesan (again)? Is bagged salad really going to give us all cancer of the butt and turn everyone's farm into a Walmart parking lot?
You see the connection, no? Failure in one area, slippage in some part of my duties as a Miriam and I feel like it is all about to go. I literally end the day feeling lame unless I can get it all in the air at once, and that just isn't happening very often. If I cook up a storm, I don't practice enough. If I take Toby for a fabulous park-filled walk, I nap through the precious bathroom cleaning appointment. And then it's suddenly 9pm and I'm kind of full and grumpy and sleepy and several other of the dwarves, and I just want to curl up with some crosswords and go to bed. Who goes to bed that early? (Hi, Mom!) I guess the great meandering pregasaurus does, that's who.