Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Never Claimed to be Domestic...

Okay. Here's the thing. I come from a long line of amazing cooks. Mimi's food is amazing -- she could seriously hand me a plate with sliced cheese and pickles out of a jar on it, and for some reason, it's just better than any other sliced cheese or pickles that I could find anywhere else. I'm not even going to talk about her real cooking, because it will make me too hungry for it. My mother's food is equally legendary and it's not like I took it for granted growing up, but I certainly miss it a lot when I'm away at school. And Shelby? I mean, it's just ridiculous. Shelby just knows things about cooking, about how things work in a kitchen. Truly, it's a gift.

One that I clearly do not have, I might add.

Now, I've come a long way from my cookie melt down the summer before my senior year. I no longer burst into tears at the sight of a burnt mess and choke out my fears that my future children will need counseling, due to the fact that I cannot bake them the cookies that they so clearly desire, thereby ruining their childhoods and shunting them off to their perfect Aunt Shelby so that their baking needs can be met. Nearly four years have passed, and I am pleased to say that I am now capable of baking a batch of cookies and apple pie.

And it's not like I can't take care of myself at school; I can cook. Kind of. At least, I have improved a lot over the past year or two -- I made these meatloaf things last year that Rachael Ray published and they were delicious. I make excellent stir-fry and I am the queen of anything Mexican [although as some people so generously point out, anyone can chop vegetables into salsa]. I'm not quite at the point where Shelby actually lets me help in the kitchen, but I can fumble through a recipe pretty convincingly.

But it is time for me to take the next step. I sauté my food as if my life depends on it: I'm ready for the next challenge. Besides, come October every year, I am in a constant state of craving chilli and pot roast, and I have no way of making it for myself. When I told Mimi this, she did the only logical thing.

She bought me a crockpot and a cookbook.

The possibilities seemed endless. I had instant fantasies about myself coming home after a long, cold day on campus to the aromatic seduction of something hot and delicious and ready to eat. Plus, the way that Mimi talked about it, the crockpot seemed like a magical cauldron for stone soup -- all I had to do was throw things in it and walk away. Even I can do that, right?

I guess I should double check to make sure I'm throwing the right things in, though, because today I set out on a brand new adventure. I decided that, being a blustery fall day, I needed that chilli that I've been craving for weeks. Now, Jewels makes the best chilli in the world [and no, I am not falling prey to my superlative overdose at the moment... I am extremely serious]. I called her, got her recipe, did the grocery shopping, and woke up this morning craving a masterpiece of my own. When I went to brown the meat, however, I realized that I am the dumbest person in the world; I didn't get ground beef. I got something else that looked equally brainy and intestiney, but much less crumbly.

Here's my question: how can someone mess that up? I mean, who can’t differentiate between the stuff of hamburgers and tacos and… I don’t know, something else? I know it isn’t really that big of a deal; after a few frantic texts to my sister and mother, I dealt with the situation. It just meant that I chopped a little more than would have been otherwise necessary, which was fine. If nothing else, my problem solving skills have skyrocketed due to this new cooking situation. And in the end, my chilli? Oh my gosh, soooo good. My mother would have been proud. But still. It’s annoying to make such basic mistakes.

Oh well. As Julie says, she's been married twenty-five years -- she's supposed to know all of the things that I don't, and once I've been married for that long, maybe I'll have some more stuff figured out. I'm sure she's right, but that doesn't really comfort me about next week...see, I bought this pot roast... but I'm sure it will all be fine, as long as I warn the fire department in advance, right?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Best, Most Honest, Most Gut-Renching Post IN THE WORLD.

It has come to my attention that I may be a bit too generous with my use of superlatives.

Is this my cross to bear? Can I help my ever-burgeoning zest for life? Can I quell these hotsprings of enthusiasm that spring from the least bit of stimulus? [I don't know where those words are coming from, by the way...they were literally the first things that came to mind. Too much Fancy Nancy in one day, I think. Consequently, while I basically adore those books, I detest the word "fancy" in reference to things that are particularly nice. I.e., "This dress is so faaaaancy!" instead of "This dress is pretty and classy and perfect for the occasion," or, "This place is so faaaaancy!" instead of "Nice restaurant." I think it's the fact that people on What Not To Wear use it a lot in defense of their gross clothes and it annoys me, hence the newborn aversion. Right. Moving on.]

I feel like my random outbursts on things such as the word "fancy" and sudden bouts of [possibly] excessive zeal are somewhat definitive of me... I like the fact that I'm passionate about a lot of different things that can be called forth at a moment's notice. Still, I understand how a lot of what I say could contradict itself.

For example, I recently told my newest BEST FRIEND Rachael that she was my favorite person in the world. Jessie was walking with us and just laughed. "You say that to nearly everyone, Carly," she said.

Affronted, I gasped. "I do not!" I insisted.

"Yes, you do!" she said. Then she put on airs and started saying, "She is my favorite person. He is the most interesting person in the world. That is the craziest thing that has ever happened to me. Oh my gosh - I'm dying!"

In a fit of transcendence, I recognized my own catchphrases. I'm pretty sure that I stopped walking in order to better stare at Jess and Rach in disbelief, but that might just be my own dramatic reinterpretation of the event.

Also, a certain individual at work has taken to looking at me meaningfully every single time I use the word "phenomenal," which, as it turns out, is quite frequently. Add to that the lively and energetic impression of me pacing around a hallway that ANOTHER coworker did, and it leads me to one conclusion.

I have superlative issues.

There, I said it. Want more? I have a flair for the dramatics. [That one hurt a little bit.] Also, I tend to emphatically stress certain words when I'm speaking... and while we're on the topic, I might be slightly annoying in general, because of the breathless pace of my mannerisms when I'm excited.

I guess I should have figured out that I had issues when I told my mom about my day in a normal, chilled out manner and she just said, "What's wrong? Why are you sad? You're not gushing about how AWESOME your classes are and how IN LOVE you are with your friends... what is going on?"

In my mind, I know that not every offbeat, quirky, individualistic character I meet is the most interesting person ever. I know that I can only have one favorite person in the world [at a time, at least], and even then that it probably isn't prudent to share with the rest of the world. I have never had a revelation so extreme and amazing that I actually run the risk of dying, like I always claim, and I suppose Terry's fake pregnancy on Glee doesn't actually make her the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD. I know that not every book I read can be the best book I've ever read and that not every professor can be all THAT much better than the one before.

Still, is it horrible to be so enamored with the world around me? I mean, I'm rarely bored. And I'm quite easily entertained. And I would rather be known as that weird girl who gets too excited about life than the muted, emotionless girl. Duh.

It's just that, now that I'm conscious of all of this, I'm really conscious of it. I keep catching myself in the middle of the word "phenomenal" or I'll be about to say that someone is my faaaavorite person in the world... and then I stop halfway through and try to rephrase. But why? I don't care. It's who I am. Extremist. Passionate. Excitable. Ridiculous. My best friend Jessie says, "She's just being Carly."

Okay. I'm going to bed. This is the most annoying blog in the world.