Tis the season and all that jazz…
So, I have been slacking on both the blogging and writing lately, but I kind of felt my brain deserved a breather. Well, that’s not true. As we’ve learned in several previous installments, my brain RARELY takes a breather. In fact, the more I try to relax and NOT think, the more my brain decides: “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up!”
(Full disclosure, I’m FAR too young to know that reference, but yet… here we are.)
So today in “random topics that has occupied my mind and refuses to let go unless I tell you lovely people about it…” (I considered using that as the title of this entry, but that’s ridiculous, even by my standards.)
I love to cook. I LOVE food. I’m sure if you’ve seen me you can tell that. It’s not really an unhealthy obsession with food. So quick background on my weight… (As if you asked, but again... here we are…)
I played basketball in Jr. High and High School. I’ve always been a bigger gal, but not really FAT. (It took me looking back 20 years later to realize that. I’m fat now, I wasn’t then. I so wish the whole “body dysmorphia” was a thing in the 80s) Anyway… when I got into 7th grade of my predominately White school, I was automatically thrown into a class called “Athletics.” Athletics was the class that all the people who were on the basketball team were put in. It was a small school, no try-outs, they just threw us in there. (I did notice that they literally threw ALL the Black folks in there but that’s neither here nor there for this post.) I had never played organized sports before. Never really played basketball at recess in elementary school. I spent most of that time being pelted by basketballs in a psychotic game we invented called “wall-ball,” which was just dodge ball where people stood up against a wall and were bombarded by basketballs by the more athletic kids… ah…good times.
So, I get into this class, and I’m having to learn how to use a basketball in other ways besides being hit with it. I do not regret this, because it was in this class that I met my best friend of 25+ years, Daniece. However, I was not what you would call “athletic” by nature. My parents both did athletic things. My mom and dad ran track. I think my dad played basketball. My mom played softball and all that. But I’ve always been a creative type. Music, writing, poetry, video games…inside things. But I figured what the hell and I immersed myself into the sport. So, as a vertically challenged person with no real speed or skills to speak of, my coach (God rest his soul) pulled me aside in my 7th grade year and said, “B, you won’t be the tallest one out there and you won’t be the fastest one out there… but I will make sure you’re the strongest one out there."
Thus began my relationship with weight lifting. From 7th until 12 grade, I was in the weight room about 8 months out of the year. I was bench pressing my body weight. I could out lift the varsity guys. My coach actually asked me if I wanted to compete in weight lifting, (which I didn’t know was a thing back then) but I respectfully declined. What ended up happening is, I WAS the strongest one out there. I was a midget rebounding Queen. You couldn’t box me out, and you couldn’t knock me down… (Unless I was faking it with a charge which was ALWAYS hilarious.) I ended up being pretty good and was even offered a scholarship to play in college. But by the time I got to that point, all that up and down jumping really messed up my knee and the sports doctor told me that if I continued to play, I may jeopardize my ability to play the drums.
I was considerably better on the drums than on the court, so I stopped playing. However, when I stopped, I stopped EVERYTHING. No one really tells you what happens to all that muscle when you stop using it and working out. Well I’ll tell you… it’s not good.
So, while a lot of people see me and feel I’m overweight because of gluttony, that’s not the case. It’s because I had a lot of muscle that I stopped using. Even when I diet and exercise, the muscle just starts developing and I’ll trim down but the scale doesn’t move much. It’s kinda frustrating but I’ve made my peace with it.
(I know, that was quite the tangent when the topic is about food… I’m getting there, you know me, I always like to take the scenic route.)
So, after all of my time being an outcast/nerd, being somewhat popular, being the life of the party, and now being a moderately severe introvert that prefers to never leave her house (ala our lovely hacker Dom) I have had to find other things to be passionate about. I still love video games, I still love to write; and man, do I love too cook.
If you follow my Instagram page, you will find it full of photos of my creations in the kitchen. (Yes, in that aspect, I’ve become a millennial… let’s not dwell on it.) I love to create recipes or put my own spin on things I see on cooking shows. I remember I learned how to make risotto because I watched Hell’s Kitchen so much and couldn’t understand why it was so hard. Now my risotto is legendary among my friends and family.
In fact, a perfect date night for me and the wife is to come up with something we’ve never made before and spend the evening in the kitchen with music while she plays the role of my sous chef (as I have a complicated relationship with knives) and l come up with something new for us to try. We even sometimes have game nights where I’d cook for friends who would come over and drink and eat.
To be frank, I’m a Rockstar in the kitchen to my friends and family.
To those who are not close enough in location or maybe in heart (that sounds bad, but we all know there is a closeness hierarchy in friendships), they are able to see these photos and drool. This leads them to believe that I should be using these culinary skills for the masses. When MasterChef came to Dallas this past September, I had a SLEW of texts, FB messages and tags, encouraging me to try out for the show. Often people will ask me “when is the restaurant/food truck opening?” Most recently my answer was simply: “I will not corrupt my love of cooking with money.”
That statement was a lure to the insanity that is my brain to munch on for a long time, and now… again I say… Here we are.
Why do I feel like something I clearly enjoy doing would be corrupted if I try to make money with it? It seems like an odd statement, I agree. The saying is that if you’re doing something you love, you never work a day in your life. I agree with that to an extent. So why would I not want to pursue some sort of culinary side hustle since I’m obviously very good at it and enjoy it so much?
To put it simply, I need something for me.
Maybe it’s the empath in me, but I feel like as humans, we are often forced to give a part of ourselves in order to survive. For example, as an introvert, it is taxing for me to be around people and to interact constantly. While I’m introverted and often say that I don’t like people, (That’s actually pretty accurate), it doesn’t mean that I do not have a personality or that I’m awkward with people. Much like Dom, I know how to interact with people and most find me rather charming and easy to talk to. (That’s the whole empath thing) But it’s exhausting and taxes me. I come home and I do not want to talk for hours. But in order to make money, I have to interact with others. I have to occasionally spend the day in an office full of financial advisors, parading around smiling, answering questions, letting them see that I’m not some sort of robot who is asking questions or prying into their business practices; but rather I’m a human who understands the financial industry and I’m just trying to help them not be sued. In this case, I’m forced out of my comfort zone of solitude and introversion in order to make a living.
I used to share my musical talents, but because of “Christians” having a problem with gay people in the church, I no longer do that. I would like to say that I still enjoy producing music on my own, and I tried for a time, but it’s different when you used to be able to share it as a ministry and you can no longer do so any more. It’s painful. It’s like, music is an experience that both the musician and the audience experiences together. It’s something that’s hard to explain unless you’ve been on the musician side of the stage. When you lose that shared experience, it isn’t the same, especially when it’s ministry related and ESPECIALLY when the people who you used to minister with suddenly deem you unworthy.
(It’s a whole thing…way different blog post… moving on)
Writing was always something I did that was only for me. It was my outlet. However, now that I have published my first book, I have sort of obligated myself to readers who enjoy my work. I can’t just decide, “meh, I’m done, I’m just gonna let the rest of the journey play out in my head instead of publishing.” Besides the fact that it would be kinda cruel (particularly with that cliffhanger ending in book 1) I would also have a mob of people who actually know me personally and know where I lay my head who would storm my house with pitchforks and torches. (But not Tiki torches, I don’t know THOSE kinda people…ha!)
For someone who claims to not like people, I sure have A LOT of people in my life… again... probably that empath thing.
Now that writing is something I have to share with the world, it’s being in a sense, monetized. I want to tell you the stories that pop up in my head, but I also have a mortgage, a wife and a kid. I have to live, and I have to eat… and as I said... I LOVE food. I am required to give my intelligence, my wits, my charm (it’s there, I swear it is), and now my writing to the world.
Cooking is pretty much the only thing I have left that I can choose to share or not to share. When there are potlucks at work, I choose not to cook. I share my cooking with friends and family, or friends of friends. (and even then it’s not my big guns.) This past Thanksgiving, for the first time in about 10 years, I chose not to cook. Sure, my family wasn’t exactly thrilled that the famous risotto wasn’t on the table this year, but it’s not an obligation. I was tired and I needed a break.
When I’m tired and need a break from work, I often have to push through that, because it’s an obligation. When my mind may be tired from trying to figure out the next steps of the Shadow Resistance series, I may be able to take a small break, but I still have to push through it, because now it’s an obligation. I don’t want cooking to take on that role. It’s fun. It’s a passion, but it’s a passion that is for me to share when I want and if I don’t want, there is no obligation.
We all need something that’s for us. A hobby, a passion, something that we can do solely because of the sheer enjoyment. When I’m stressed out, I cook. When I’m sad, I cook. When I feel like everything is spinning out of control, I cook. Because cooking makes ME happy. I do it because I love it, and if you are someone who is considered to be a friend or family… Well, congrats, you get to enjoy it too.