The week started out with cake and is ending with were-hamsters (don’t ask) so… it’s safe to say that the weird is still going strong Chez Saintcrow.
Nice to see some things never change.
Here’s the end of last weekend’s cake binge. The red velvet on the left remained unfrosted; it was consumed with whipped cream and fruit. The yellow cake on the right was frosted with chocolate (a classic!) and it did not survive the night. I was able to have slivers of remaining red velvet Monday morning, though.
I’m feeling more hopeful and more social, though I can’t tell how long either will last. Mere survival isn’t easier than rebuilding/healing, but when my focus is a narrow laser pointed at “just get through this” it seems easier than looking around at the wreckage and going “… great, now what?”
Wanting to weep at the sheer amount of damage seems a lot harder than just reacting and keeping oneself together while everything is still an inferno. I know it just requires different efforts in different methods of application, but it just feels harder.
Anyway, I probably won’t bake another cake for a while. That’s fine, there are other tasty things to make and enjoy. And while rebuilding is hard, it’s also a vast improvement over constant daily retraumatization. Perceived effort is, in this case, not quite the whole story.
…I’m still going to need some time to breathe, though. Good thing it’s a Friday.
Have a restful weekend, my beloveds. Be gentle with yourselves. The wreckage is still smoking, and we have yet to grieve. It’s going to be a long haul.
I took the weekend off-off. Completely off. I did a little revising, but mostly… I made cakes.
Yes, cakes. Plural.
We started Saturday with a nice white cake, avec whipped cream and sliced fruit. Then Sunday morning dawned, and I was ready. Next came a yellow cake with chocolate frosting (always a classic) and a red velvet cake, also undressed because really, we had whipping cream and strawberries left.
I’m getting to consider most frostings extraneous. Can’t tell whether it’s old age or just a natural evolution of my aesthetics.
In any case, we ate a lot of cake. I realized between one bite and the next I had reached that wonderful stage of I’ve had enough cake, so I got to feel what that’s like. it was almost as sudden as burnout. One moment I was fine, wanting cake like a normal regular person. Then, all of a sudden, I became one of the ones who have had enough cake. It was magical. I don’t expect it to happen again–if it takes three cakes to get there, it’s a bit labor-intensive–but I’m glad I had the experience once.
So to speak.
The kids were all in on this experiment. I’m pretty sure they hit peak cake, too, by the way nothing except slivers of the red velvet survived the night.
So, for breakfast, despite being part of a magical siblinghood of Those Who Have Had Enough Cake, I had red velvet cake with my coffee.
I mean, I wouldn’t want it to go to waste, you know?
And I’ve found out something important. Even after that magical moment when you have Had Enough Cake, your enjoyment of cake is a renewable resource. I don’t know what I would have done should that have turned out to be not so.
Kind of sends a cold shiver up the back, doesn’t it.
But we’ve dodged that bullet on a Monday, and the dogs–who could not have much cake, since there was chocolate in a majority of it–need walking. Just as soon as I finish my coffee.
The Princess baked a cake for the inauguration. She wanted to write “The horse has left the hospital” on it, but decided sprinkles would get the point across just as well.
So we spent most of Wednesday eating cake and expressing our relief in various ways. There’s a lot of work to be done, and (not but, and) we needed a moment to just take a breath.
There might even be weekend cake, if I have the energy. Or maybe just a lot of napping. I’m finally feeling just how exhausted I truly am, and I suspect you are too. Be as gentle as you can with yourselves, my beloveds. We’re not out of the woods yet, but I think we can see the meadow.
Yesterday was… an experience. I was already exhausted, unable to sleep Tuesday night; I finally got up, let the dogs out and fed them, and grabbed my phone on the way back to bed, thinking I could at least have a bit of a lie-in.
Boy, was I wrong.
I found out white supremacist terrorists were rioting in federal and state capitols, egged on by their Dear Orange Leader. It was unsurprising–I did, after all, write a whole book about this back in 2015–but still terrifying.
I’ve read history. I know what could happen, what’s likely to happen. I don’t mind telling you I’m not sanguine about any of this. Most of all, I’m pretty sure none of the racist fuckwads attempting a coup for their Tangerine Twitler will suffer any real consequences.
The Princess was home from work, too, and had glanced at the news early in the morning–then remained fixed to it, horrified. Every time some-damn-thing else happened, one of us would call down the hallway. The Prince, busy with distance-learning, spent the entire day holed up in his room with schoolwork, and consequently had only faint intimations of trouble until we all convened for dinner. I was glad both of my children were safe and home where I could see them. Probably irrational, but powerfully comforting nonetheless.
What I really want to talk about, though, is chocolate chip cookies.
The day ended, for me, with hugging my children–though both of them are much taller than I am now, they still find comfort in Mum’s closeness–and reassuring them. Reminding each other to breathe, reminding them that we have plans in case things go haywire, reminding ourselves that we’re in fact extremely privileged and lucky. I retreated to bed hoping against hope for some sleep.
Helped by exhaustion (and, let’s face it, a dose of Tylenol PM) I did manage to pass out. My dreams were feverish, ending with some guy in a flying lawn chair swooping through neighborhood backyards. (I don’t know, don’t ask me.) And when I resurrected in the clear light of dawn to take the dogs out once more, there were chocolate chip cookies on the dining-room table.
“Yeah,” the Princess muttered, when she shuffled out of her bedroom for breakfast. “World’s on fire. Figured I’d bake.”
“The cookies,” I said, through a thick fog of pre-caffeination, “didn’t exist before, now they do. We’ll eat them and they’ll be part of us forever. You made something out of other things. That’s just so cool, and it doesn’t have to be monetized although we’re trapped in late-stage capitalism.”
My daughter grinned, in the particular way that means she understands but can’t resist poking me. “Get some coffee, Mum.” She paused. “I love you.”
Really, they weren’t just cookies. They were a cry in the face of destruction, a hope for something better, a way to say I love you not just to me but to her brother as well, a soothing reminder that we can build and make and do things that weren’t there before.
Creativity–making things–is powerful and healing at the same time. Making something that wasn’t there before is an old, old human magic, and so innate we overlook it. Magic is changing consciousness at will (thank you, Aleister, you were a jerk but you did have a way with words sometimes) but it’s also willing something into existence. The human capacity to create is natural as breathing; we take it for granted. And it’s also therapeutic when some assholes seem determined to be as hateful and murderous as possible.
Creating doesn’t have to be monetized, it doesn’t have to be a side gig. It’s a natural human function performed in a hundred little ways each day. It’s also a powerful way to say fuck you to those murderous, treasonous assnuts who like to poison themselves, not to mention the rest of us, with racism and violence.
I have a whole rant about how choosing that poison means throwing away their humanity, but now’s not the time.
If you’re utterly exhausted by all this, if you can’t look away, if you can’t seem to focus on much else, well, welcome to the club. Don’t beat yourself up over it! It is an utterly reasonable response to this fuckery. And this is not a call for you to drag yourself forth and have to deal with one more thing. You don’t have to make something right now. It’s okay if you don’t have the energy.
I’m just saying there are more cookies in the world than there were yesterday, because the Princess made them. People are making things, people are sticking together, lots of people are staying home to protect others during a pandemic and lots of people are trying like hell to do something, anything, whatever they can to make the world a little better.
We outnumber the racist, destructive, poisonous assnuts. We always have. The news is dire and the situation is bad, and (not but, AND) the human capacity to care and to create is so innate, so reflexive, that we’re still making and doing and caring for each other despite that. It’s natural and sane to feel overwhelmed right now. It’s also natural and sane to make something if you’ve the urge and the energy. Both are okay.
That’s what I’m clinging to, this first Thursday of 2021. There are more cookies in the world than there were yesterday, and once consumed they’ll be part of us forever. It doesn’t feel like a lot when I stare at the news, I’ll admit.
My Aussie friend D.K. sent us a care package; there was even a tiny ‘roo ornament. (She was present during the party that gave rise to Jozzie & Sugar Belle, naturally.) The kids barely let me open it before the TimTams were snatched.
I mean, just LOOK at the carnage. Oh, the humanity!
If there’s anything more perfect than the dark-choco-and-chili TimTams (not pictured, because they were MINE ALL MINE) I haven’t run across it yet.
I hope you had something sweet this past week, my beloveds. I’m still hiding in my hole, still too embarrassed to come out much, but that doesn’t mean I can’t offer a word of support, I think.
Hang in there. We’re almost done surviving this year. No matter what 2021 brings, we’ve done this. And that’s an immense victory, considering.
The Little Prince (I should just call him “The Prince” now, he’s taller than me, though not even close to my Machiavellian status, ha ha) is barreling ahead in his Baking & Desserts class. Each week he has a choice of three recipes, and this past week he chose… bread.
“But, Mom,” he said, leaning in my office door, “I want it to be like yours. Will you help me?”
There were no fluttering eyelashes, but I felt the need to clutch at my heart just the same.
So now he knows about autolyse and has kneaded a giant hunk of dough; he’s heated the oven just right for proofing and used a bench scraper, how to rescue a dough too wet or too dry, and he baked a lovely, lovely loaf we had with dinner and then for breakfast the next day.
He’s very proud of himself, and my poor heart is so full it aches. I mean, just look at that lovely crumb! The well-shaped loaf! The beautiful crack in the top crust! The irregular holes!1
It tasted pretty spiffy, too.
I hope you had a similar victory this past week, dearly beloveds; I hope someone let you know just how important you are and how much they treasure something you do–something you might not think much of, but they think is just the bee’s knees and the cat’s pyjamas.
I am swinging between hope and despair, as I have been all year. But it’s nice to take a breath, and a bite of something with love baked into its very molecules.
So last weekend, when the news came that the election was no longer in doubt, I double-masked, grabbed hand sanitizer, staggered out, and brought home a celebratory tiramisu.
The tiny local bakery (always my first choice) was jammed with (masked) customers so I didn’t even get out of the car; there was nothing in one supermarket bakery, so back into the car it was. I lucked out in the third, and carried my prize home.
We put a tea light on it, and the Little Prince–as our newest registered voter–got to make a wish for democracy and blew the candle out.
It’s been a week, hasn’t it. The nightmare is not over, but the chances of a coup are slowly–sloooooowly!–receding. We’re not out of the woods yet, but as Churchill intoned sententiously, it may very well be the end of the beginning.
I’m tired, and still a little ill. I know you’re tired too, my beloveds. I have grown to dislike hope over the last five-six years, since it hurts so much when that hope is ripped away by fascism. Still, like a cockroach, hope survives in hidden cracks, and I have been feeling it these past few days.
At that third supermarket bakery, the lady behind the case nodded when I asked if everyone else was celebrating Pennsylvania declaring for the forces of good, too. “Oh yeah,” she said, quietly, the corners of her eyes crinkling with a broad smile behind her mask. “Everyone’s tired, but so happy about it. Want ten percent off?”
Bless you, Bakery Case Lady. Bless you, bless you deeply.
So. Last Saturday the kids and I gorged on tiramisu and hope at once. After a long time in dark hopelessness, we are hungry for the good.
Here’s to hoping, then. (Even I can’t eradicate that cockroach.) Here’s to hoping, and to kindness, and to working together; here’s to a ringing defeat of fascism and its fellow travelers. Here’s to the end of the beginning.
There’s a lot of work ahead of us, I know. And it’s a Friday the 13th in 2020. May Freyja grant us light and strength for the road ahead.