Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reflecting

Most of my posts this past week had to do with food. I looked back at the previous week and saw that this was not the case. Maybe you don't mind, but I was a little relieved to find that I don't always write about food. I wonder why the weeks were so different.

I like cooking, thinking about cooking, reading cookbooks, and going to new restaurants. This is news to no one. I like to do this not because of the simple reason that food tastes good, but because of two other interests of mine - creating things and learning about new ways of thinking. I could have said, "learning about new cultures," but I see it as a way to learn about different individuals, not just new cultures. Different people have different ways of chopping, measuring, and substituting ingredients.

As for the "creative" aspect, well, I've always like creative things. Since I was little, I've jumped around to different creative fixations. When I was really young, before I realized that my drawings were terrible, I wanted to be an artist. What I wanted to be when I grew up was someone who traveled the world painting, and I'd finance my travels by selling art. I think I was eight when I said this. My pragmatic parents had no trouble telling me that artists usually don't make enough money selling paintings to finance world travel, that not everyone would like my art (since art is a matter of taste), and besides, my drawings usually inspired...well, not in the traditional sense of the word "inspiration." They inspired questions. In particular, one question - "Sarah, what is that?

This advice didn't squash my dreams. I focused my energies on other creative pursuits. The one that lasts the longest and that I most often return to is writing. I was probably in high school or college when I decided that I most certainly did not want a career as a writer, at least not exclusively. I wanted to do something else and write, either as part of that something else, or write things on the side. For example, while I was a doctor or scientist, I could also gather experience for my semi-autobiographical novel, The Sidekick's Guide to Suburban Survival. Or maybe I'd write nature poetry. Maybe these lives would be totally separate; I'd publish under a pen name and not tell anyone from either life who I also was, besides the Sarah they knew.

I'm not sure when I decided that writing was something I just wanted to do for fun, that I might never try to get published, but I would keep writing because I liked it. I think it was when I was taking creative writing classes in college, taught by career writers who included lectures on the publication process and the trials and tribulations of a published writer. To some people, it's worth it to be able to do what you love full time. For me, well, I like too many things to want to struggle to write full time. Lucky me.

Anyway, cooking has become a creative outlet for me, and sometimes it is my only creative outlet. This is when you might find me a little...let's be honest...obsessive about it. Reading cookbooks, reading food blogs, reorganizing my pantry, and spending hours cooking. Spending several weeknights making what most people consider "weekend" recipes. Trying to find creative ways to repurpose the leftovers. Having so many leftovers that I am begging friends to take them.

I find myself turning to this creative outlet so much because it has an element of utility. Everyone needs to eat. Everyone does not need to look at photographs of plants; everyone does not need personalized ribbon-embroidered linens. Sometimes, it's a function of stress, a way to escape just like re-reading Anne of Green Gables. In normal weeks, there's no unhealthy stress as a factor; it's just a way to be creative that I can justify spending time on; I'll do weekend cooking on some weeknights because it's fun for me and at the end, people get fed.

Weeks like this past one, where there is an awful lot of food-related blogging going on, are either stressful weeks, weeks where something is happening that I can't write about, or weeks when the rest of my life is too commonplace and boring to write about. My walks this week (on good days, a mile and a half running morning errands) have been beautiful, relaxing, and inspiring, but I don't see much to write about. I've been wearing my dream hat on these walks (the dream hat is a dream for bad hair days) and it's been great, but without a good picture, my dream hat isn't something to devote a whole blog post to. The weather has been uncharacteristically nice for January in Portland, and I'm too busy out enjoying it to write very much about it. When it's cloudy, I sit down, and all I can think of is a blur of sunshine and happiness, nothing specific to write about.

Hmm, this post went in a different direction from what I thought it would take. Well, I'm going to leave it unedited and hit "Publish" now. Sundays have been designated, "Clean, Cook, Relax and Reorganize, Catch Up On Homework" Days, so now it's time to sweep the floor. I read a good line in this blog a few days ago: "Cleaning is a reward saved for the weekend." There are plenty of times where I'd retort, "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life!", but some days, like today, I agree wholeheartedly!

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