Monthly Archives: September 2009

Life on My Own Terms

Lately, I haven’t been writing as much as I want to. Since I moved, I’ve been spending my time unpacking, painting, and finding all the right things I need for my new/old home. I also go to the gym, hang out with my friends, work from 9 to 5, freelance after hours, and try to follow my favorite blogs, catch the news, and read at least a few pages of good fiction before bed.

It feels like I’m always busy. To maximize my time, I haven’t been cooking in my usual style. I buy the same few things from Seward co-op and cook simply, almost sparely, with no fanfare and rarely a picture taken. No dinnertime Tweets. No facebook updates again declaring my love for beets. Just the simple act of making myself something to eat.

The other thing I haven’t been doing lately is dating, which puts a cramp in my favorite habit — going to restaurants. As I describe in my tagline, I love writing about how the city, dating, and food come together in amusing ways. For the last two years, I filled many posts with my renderings of boy meets girl and they go out to eat. But somewhere in the middle of my extended experiment with sociability, something inside me shifted and I pretty much lost all interest.

Do I want to find someone to spend my time with? Of course I do. In so many ways, I think I’m meant to be in a relationship. But at this point, the possibility feels so remote, I can only look at other people’s relationships and marriages with “bemused incomprehension,” to use a phrase from Tim Kreider’s wonderful post at the New York Times. He calls marriage and parenthood “an entire dimension of human experience undetectable to [his] senses.” When I think about relationships, and dare I say marriage, I imagine a vast foreign country I may never get to visit, usually somewhere near Morocco, with beautiful, distant horizons, rare luxuries, exotic spices, roasted flatbreads, and a mutual love so sweet even the hardships are painfully romantic. But if I close my eyes, I can almost feel it.

In some ways, I’m not concerned about the sizing-up, reckoning-day thing Kreider calls “the referendum,” where the personal choices we make in life are discreetly judged by the people we know. If I were, I’d be actively hunting for my perfect partner and trying to build four happy walls around us both. I’d also be checking the dial on my biological clock and wondering why I seem to be immune to its ticking.

In other ways, the referendum has come to visit. Hell, it’s set up shop in my heart and I rarely think about anything else. For me, the referendum is about personal fulfillment and finding the resolve to confront a bewildering abstraction that lives right in the middle of my life. Some people find themselves through marriage and children. Some through buying a house or a condo. Some through making a dent in the corporate world. I’ve learned that I will fully become myself through the act of creativity. For me, before anything else, I’ll be satisfied once I find my personal expression and get it out there in the world.

I just need to figure out what that is. I see a manuscript, a menu, and some old table linens. Flowers flirt together in a small glass vase on the table. I’m writing and editing at my own desk and cooking in a big kitchen. There’s open windows and exposed brick. There’s also an exhilarating sense of freedom because I know that the life I’m jealously peering into is my own.

This House Still Needs a Name

I’d rather be writing about the wine shop I discovered in my new neighborhood today, curated carefully by a guy who calls himself the Cork Dork. Or about the perfect grocery shopping route that occurs between my house and the Seward co-op. Or about my new proximity to the May Day Cafe and their trays full of pastries, foccacia, and scones. Or about the delightful exchange that transpired over an empty box of All Clad cookware in the alley behind my house. But that’s not how it is tonight. As my friend Stefanie would say, I’ve had wine, and who wants to concentrate when they’d rather unwind?

Since I last wrote, I moved to Minneapolis, resolved a terribly frustrating housing situation, competed in a cooking contest, and took a trip to the Badlands of South Dakota. I also made an appearance on the Fox 9 morning news (of all things). I was invited to walk through “my” quiche recipe to promote Julie and Julia--you know, the quiche recipe I toiled over for years and faithfully submitted to the cooking contest to finally reap my well-deserved rewards. Truth be told, I never even MADE a quiche before I was asked to do it on the morning news.

Before getting to that, let’s take a photo tour of the last few weeks. I said goodbye to my lovely old flat in St Paul.

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The apartment feels such another world now, like a different version of me must have once lived there.

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I did that whole Fox 9 news thing. If I could figure out how to stream a video, I would. Please go here _ http://tiny.cc/H4Nti to watch me pretend like I knew what I was doing.

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I practiced the two dishes I cooked at the Mall of America’s Julie and Julia contest.

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Here’s the view from my cooking station at the mall. Those are my fabulous friends in the front row cheering me on. Everyone thought I was going to win–and so did I. Despite all my wittiness, stylish sauteing, and waxing poetic about local food (I bought all of my secret ingredients at Cossetta’s and Caspian Deli), I ended up in second place. Given that the event was about promotion and not about food, however, I’m not going to think about it too deeply. Besides, I was sent home with a 5-piece set of All Clad cookware and had a wonderful time.

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So as I unpack, explore, and generally try to land squarely on my two feet again, I hope to be writing again very soon, but only after I furnish my new kitchen with a stainless steel island and a hanging pot rack. I think those things will make this house a home.