At a crucial juncture in my life, I had to decide whether I would hit the road to become a rock star. My lack of musical talent, reed-thin voice and tin ear couldn’t hold me back. I had gobs of hair I could fling around, a willingness to wear a leather miniskirt, and after a couple clove cigarettes, I could work up sort of a gravelly rasp. But here’s the thing: rock stars keep such unwholesome hours, and I like to be cozy in bed at 9.30. Eventually, I became a person who hates noise, and it sealed the Tupperware lid, forever, on my dreams of becoming the third Wilson sister.*
Last Friday night my sister treated me to Brandi Carlile at the gorgeous Seattle Paramount. Here’s the thing: I never see live music. All my usual discontents apply: too crowded, too noisy, why would I want to be somewhere other than bed? But this show was amazing: the lyrics, the instruments, the range of styles from country to blues to rock. I felt like Carlile wasn’t working up a stage persona, but doing what she loved, and talking about what mattered to her with sincerity and gratitude. It was a remarkable night. (I also loved my barbecued tofu and brown rice at the casual Café Yumm. You must go.)
Afterwards, I started thinking about one of the other crossroads in my life. At a slightly more momentous juncture, I was deciding whether or not I wanted to pursue graduate studies in literature, or try to get into culinary arts school. I never would have had the toughness to make it in a commercial kitchen, (and talk about late hours!) but I continued to cook and bake for myself and eventually my husband and girls. I didn’t have what it took for academia either, but hey, I read good books and wrote reems of papers (I went to graduate school not once, but twice!) that I am proud of. All that reading, writing and homecooking brought me, finally, to my little blog, which is my favorite (virtual) place to be.
It’s true, I have not charged after my bliss bearing a firey torch of ambition-fueled moxie to light the way. But there is this: despite it all, I am happy. I believe you (I) can be bewildered, and even vexed, while still open to the beauty and wonder of life. When asked if she was happy, Carrie Fisher replied, “That’s one of the things that I am.” Thank you, Leia. That kind of equanimity allowed you to raise a female Jedi warrior.*
But some people know what they want early, and they pursue it with bold fire. I am currently reading my new favorite book, Voracious, by the young and talented Cara Nicoletti. Nicoletti was raised by butchers who, when they weren’t shaving flank steaks off a carcass, read lots of books to her. She grew into someone sure of her passions and where she would take them. She has been a butcher, a baker and sausage maker who actually teaches others how (apparently, a handful of intrepid folks do want to know how it gets made and yes, I assume she has made candlesticks because how could she resist?).
Nicoletti writes a lovely blog called Yummy books. I love this girl! She’s a younger, more ambitious, Italian version of me! I curl up with her book every night, and her writing is so friendly and inviting, so lacking in edge, that she talked me into making yeasted buns.*** They were yummy, but my attempt at icing crosses turned out about as well as my career in rock and roll. I couldn’t bear to shock you all with a photo of naked buns, unclad in either icing, or a leather miniskirt.
*A band containing an Ann and a Nancy is crying out for a Mary, wouldn’t you say? I wouldn’t even have had to change my first name!
**I have been waiting around for another good Star Wars movie since Han Solo got frozen, so I will enjoy the moment.
***These contained two cubes of butter and what did we put on them? Butter.