I think they made God omnipresent because he has stopped listening. I don’t know how many unnamed, domestic gods I have prayed to at the hearth for my cake to finish right, brown evenly, come out clean and pretty. And I know it’s all superstition, I know it’s all in good fun. I know it’s stress that I put on myself because it’s easy to become distracted from the real problems in your life if you just keep waiting for the oven to preheat to 350. God’s been made omnipresent and omnipotent because all those everyday gods gave up, turned their deaf ear to the complaints of children like me.
At 22, you would think I could handle things better. All the successes I can base my resume on, the cumulation of packrat skill sets I typed in Times New Roman, have not coached me to be able to set aside my hubris and know, realistically and reasonably, I cannot get everything I’ve ever wanted.
This week has been small failures that have built up. Small disappointments, actions that have centered around trying to convince others to love me, to hire me, to think of me as creative. Each one more exhausting than the last. A performance, like everything else in life, has to have validation from the audience. But, I did not hear the applause I wanted, I did not smile when I was in the limelight.
I want to quit my job. And when I was unemployed, I wanted a job. I want to bake sweet things and experiment with buttermilk. I want to explore the Pacific Northwest and try to make it to Nashville in October for my sister’s alleged wedding. I want to be home to teach Elsa the dozens of words Murphy knows and I am aware of the disadvantage of my not being home for her. I want to revisit Twin Peaks and put the clues together myself. I want to quit my job, so I am away from the negative space it has become. But I will stay because I was not hired this week by a new company. I was foolish and charming in my interview. Professional and sincere. I prayed to God on the way home to forgive me for lying on my resume, for saying I am conversation in French and raised $20,000 for the American Cancer Society, and I bargained my soul on this job. It didn’t come. I called the woman directly and was denied the position. I will not quit my job and I will bake sweet things after my eight hours are done. I will go to Seattle when the flights are cheap and the oysters are good. I will say “Daddy” until Elsa knows that’s me and “Papa” when Nolan comes home. I write a To-Do list every day and I never do anything of the things on it. But, I don’t regret that for a second; the job may take a while, but it’ll get done.
And the bills may change colors and the notices written more boldly, but I don’t get paid until Friday, so I’m not going to worry until I have to.
But I do worry about my talents. If I can build myself up enough so I can keep my head down and my hands still moving. I bake for pleasure and a peace of mind. I bake and bring it to work so I get compliments and attention. Sometimes I bake what Nolan is craving, but most of the time, I bake it so it’s pretty and then we let it go stale. But it’s okay, because I’ll make something else the next day.
Baking is science and exact, always with a conclusion. Baking has let me see a talent I didn’t know I could possess and to make notes on others’ recipes and feel a connectivity that has been lacking in San Diego. It’s allowed me to explore farmers’ markets and dollar stores, a family-owned Afghani market, and my own backyard. It has shown me a beauty I used to take for granted. And so I always want to give back to the altar of the domestic god something beautiful back. And I just couldn’t this week when I tried to invert my insufficiently-greased cake onto a set of plates that once belonged to Nolan’s grandmother.
The cake was moist and tender, browned and floral. I used a pinot grigio and olive oil, chunked peaches and rosewater. I had plans to make it beautiful and took the sheet off my bed to use as the backdrop for the photo. But it feel apart. It crumbled into pieces and broke my heart. I don’t know why I put so much emphasis into the everyday things that matter, but I can’t even buy the study material for the GRE. But I do. It’s young folly, remnants of my adolescent hubris. It’ll go away one day, but it’s easy to be lethargic and hopeful when nothing but your own advice are all you have to go on. And the stakes aren’t all that high, but this cake meant so much to you. And it broke. I was silent for a half hour afterwards.
But I realized, baking is like any branch of knowledge. It’s a hydra, it has a way of coming back tenfold once you master it and cut off its head. I thought I was able to defeat it. I thought I was good at whipping and folding, inverting and measuring. But I was wrong and it was a learning lesson. So I’m not going to worry until I have to.
I like who I am becoming and the bits of cake I ate directly out of the bundt pan were delicious. I have included the link below to the Local Milk recipe I adapted it from (make sure to definitely check out her work, always an inspiration). The only changed I made were using the wine instead of the juice, no herbs, and two chopped peaches.
A failed attempt at a White Peach-Rose Olive Oil Cake, adapted from here