On Cake, DJT, and Self-Care (One of These Things Is Not Like the Other)

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What is the difference between a raven and a writing desk?

Or rather, what are the similarities between baking and life?

I’ll get back to you on that.

Lately I’ve been feeling–actually more like being ridden hard and put away wet by–what feels like the whole spectrum of human emotion. The feelings roll around inside me, gathering others to them like some enormous sympathetic tumbleweed that eventually flies across the windshield of your car and scares the bejeezus out of you. I’ve watched in absolute belief as DJT reinstated the global gag rule, attempted to silence science re: media re: people of color, and signed an executive order for the #MuslimBan. I’ve woken up every day to go to work for minimum wage and realized both how privileged I am and how important it is for me to take the next step. I’ve felt shame and impotence, as people across the world stood up for women’s rights and protested at airports and worked pro-bono to make sure green card holders attempting to re-enter the country knew their rights, while I made coffee drinks for people who mostly don’t even bother to respond when I speak to them.

What can I do?

I need to start by stopping with the excuses, for one. I must stop waiting for the perfect opportunity and use whatever time or money or ability I have, no matter how small, to work towards protest.

Part of resistance, however, is taking care of yourself as well, so that you might in turn care for others.

It was in that light that I baked a genoise cake for the first time. First time making a three-layer cake, too, and then smothering it in a grapefruit crème mousseline (another first). Cakes are so simple when you think about it. Most come down to four ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, eggs. Simple, and yet so many ways to ruin it.

To make a genoise, a kind of dry sponge cake, the recipe calls for you to beat your eggs until the “ribbon stage”, where supposedly the mixture of egg and sugar falls from the mixer in a wide band, forming a figure eight that stays for 5 seconds before dissolving back into the mix. I did this THREE TIMES. Not once did anything resembling a ribboned figure eight come out of it.

One) Baking is like life because you can follow the rules set down by experts to the absolute T, and still not get the promised results.

I call bitter girl bullshit on the “ribbon stage”.

The cakes came out a beautiful golden color, though the edges had pulled away from the pan. (This is purportedly bad. Don’t ask me why.) They were also so firm that I think I could have frisbee tossed one across the room, apparated myself into position to catch it, and it wouldn’t have broken either in transit nor upon arrival.

Two) Baking is like life because sometimes graceless things remain beautiful.

Also, wtf is an offset spatula?

Cakes lived in fridge for two days due to equal parts procrastination and actually having shit to do.

On the third day, She created frosting.

I put three sticks of butter into that frosting. Sugar. Grapefruit zest, accompanied by pieces of me that also, painfully, got zested. Sorry. Turned out nicely though, possible skin bits notwithstanding.

Three) Baking is like life because most things worth making actually demand physical pain of some sort.

As seen from the photo, the cake looked beautiful. But the proof is, as always, in the pudding.

Once I got around to actually eating this Three Days’ Labor Cake, it was surprisingly light and fluffy, despite massive amount of butter. The grapefruit flavor wasn’t overpowering and the mildness of the cake paired supes nicely with the sweetness of the frosting.

Four) Baking is like life because as pretty as something may seem on the outside, it’s what’s inside (and how it feels in your mouth) that matters.

In conclusion, DJT is living up to my expectations while I am currently falling short, and consequently am feeling the shadow of Mordor steal into the Dead Marshes of my soul. I realized that I need to find a way of protest that both works for me and challenges me and makes some kind of difference (even if it’s Hobbit-sized). I made a cake, and made a promise.

As a way of dealing with anxiety and an incipient sense of failing, as well as giving myself a new creative outlet and improving my baking skills, I will be baking something new every week, and bitching about it (and life) here. Hopefully, I will also be taking tiny steps forward at the same time, finding ways to share my privilege or at least use it to the benefit of others, and also finding wherever it is that I fucking belong.

Care for a piece of cake?

P.S. Giving cake to boss who doesn’t like you (classic case of my problem with misplaced authority) equals good idea.

Current Escapist Strategy:

middlemarch

Current Auditory Therapy:

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Erin says:

    I read it ……by George …. and loved it. Bitter girl calling bullshit! Best line I have heard in a long time.

    Kidding aside, I think the writing of this blog to be uniquely creative, while at the same time…. beneficial for your psyche on many levels.

    Baking is sublime and a wonderfully productive diversion from the exhaust of DJT. Writing about the emotional evolution of this period of your life and strange political times…therapeutic. Win/win my beautiful girl.

    Like

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