Like I said last year, I don’t usually make resolutions on the actual day. So, at the end of January, I’m finally writing this post.
If you’re curious how last year’s resolution concluded, I’ve written my thoughts on the remaining books at the end of this post. I managed to make it through most of my absurd challenge — reading all but two, one that I finished early this month and one I don’t plan to complete — and was resolved I would never repeat it again. (At least, not while I have young children.)
I’m not a very decisive person. I overthink everything. It’s stressful and unproductive. Maybe it would make sense if I had a position of high risk. But that’s not my life. My setting is the toothpaste aisle in the grocery store; my conflict is what to cook for the week; my nemesis is picking a restaurant for date night. The paradox is that I’m also a big planner. Lists give my days structure and my life meaning. The problem is when I’m trying to pick the best toothpaste or plan the most cost-effective meal plan or figure out exactly which food I’m craving most. All the options and variables collect in my head until I nearly explode. And then how often everything ends in disappointment…! The toothpaste doesn’t make my teeth sparkle white, meal plan gets thrown off, the restaurant doesn’t live up to expectations.
When a kid's birthday approaches, I can't help brainstorming cake ideas. And something about kids just demands that it be a shaped or themed cake. To me, at least. I can't help it! I wonder if an old family photo of my older brother grinning behind a sprawling cake train has anything to do with it. Very likely.
We're halfway into this year. Crazy! That also puts me halfway through my new year's resolution to read 26 books. Or, it should. After setting my challenge, I figured I should read two books a month and then divide the two leviathans (I'm looking at you, Ulysses and Infinite Jest) into "manageable" monthly portions. Halfway through the year, I've read ten books, am on target for Infinite Jest, and about a month behind in Ulysses. Phew!
Visiting the Florida Keys, particularly Key West, particularly Hemingway's Home, has been on my bucket list for ages. After nine years of stalling, we finally decided to make the trip with some friends over Memorial Day weekend. We were doing this! The decision was made. We booked a hotel on Key West. And then...murmurings of a less-than pleasant forecast for the weekend began to emerge. Tropical Storm. Possible Hurricane. High winds. 100% chance of precipitation. Probably blinding rain. Some likelihood of water spouts. Maybe tornados.
I remember, when the second Batman film came out, how everyone was struck by the depiction of pure evil in the character of the Joker. My dad, a philosopher often throwing a wrench in the common consensus, commented on how that’s not what evil really looks like. It’s a glorification of evil, he would say. Real evil in the world is far less spectacular, far more, if you will, innocuous.
As I sit here at the kitchen table looking down at the piece of cheese my baby dropped on the floor, I thought now might be a good time to write about my fitness journey. (Both Maria and Sophie have already shared a little about theirs.)
Yesterday, we went on a walk to "reset" a bad morning. The palm trees were rustling in the breeze, the water was rippling, the birds were singing. An alligator swam towards the shore, so we scooted along the path a little faster. Vultures were soaring in the sky above, scooping down right over our heads, and then taking off again. “Come back, birds!” Catherine was calling. We passed the bridge where there are usually fish, but the water is really low this time of year and we couldn't see any swimming. There was a set of desolate trees with a group of crows in and around them, calling out with their grim caw. It seemed like the opening shot of a horror film.
Being out in nature has a way of resetting your attitude, of helping you put things back in perspective.
When we chose the title for our blog, we didn’t exactly hash out all its implications to precision. We loved the images it summoned - crusty breads, flaky pies, sweet and savory pastries - but we also liked its suggestion of substance being interior, something concealed but exposed when cut into, divided, or, well, shared. It sounded good enough, so we went with it. But the more we’ve developed the blog with that idea in the back of our minds, the more we’ve come to see just how good it is.
I'm always behind on New Year's resolutions. New Year's day comes along each year, and every year, I realize once again I've failed to think beforehand of what I'd like to tackle in the new year. So, very unsurprisingly to myself, a week into 2018, I'm finally coming up with resolutions.
My little Florida family just returned home from traveling for the holidays. We took a crazy road trip up to the DC area for Christmas, driving the 20 hours straight on the way up. (On the way back we were older and perhaps a little wiser and stopped for the night.) Our vacation with family in DC was wild and busy and fun and filled with SO much love, especially because all our siblings were together for a reunion in celebration of our dad's 60th birthday. Sophie was there with a gorgeous glow, snuggling her 2-week-old newborn girl. Maria blew us all away with her strength and endurance as she navigated holiday baking and cooking with a first-trimester stomach (yay for more babies! boo for morning sickness)--all while still managing to SMASH out those workouts.
Even if I had all the time in the world, and I examined every artifact, and meticulously read every label, would I remember any of it in a week? A month? A year? Probably not. But if I picked out one item and examined it closely, thoughtfully, there was a higher chance I would actually learn something from it. Having a toddler forced me to be selective about my consumption. Having a toddler actually increased the odds that I would remember something from this trip.
Last week I took the kids to a completely random little town in Texas (it may be that most little towns in Texas are completely random and I just haven't lived here long enough to learn that) to visit an even more completely random Medieval castle. I knew four things about this place going into it: one, that it was a castle; two, that it was somehow associated with Newman's Bakery & Deli, also in Bellville; three, that the guy who built it actually lived there; and four, that the children get to reenact storming a castle. The first and last things alone justified a visit. I'll admit, the fact of the guy living there puzzled me. I just couldn't imagine what kind of place this was! The puzzlement never really cleared up - this place remains one big (amusing) puzzle to me.
I just finished reading John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath for the first time. Talk about depressing! It ranks among the most wretched books I've ever read (right up there with Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage). It's one of those books that just hits you in the face with its unrelenting misery, one of those books which continually drops not-so-subtle hints that things are only going to get worse--and they do. Pushing on, I would alternately cry, shake the book, yell at the characters NOT to go do that very thing they were inevitably going to do because doom was the forecast from the start. I found myself five pages from the end, wondering how on earth the misery was going to wrap up, when suddenly, on the second to last page, a glimmer of hope, an ending so strange, so appalling, yet so transcending that it flirts with the sublime.