The post cooking scene was one only forensic expert could love. Various splatter marks covered the wall. It was the sign of a great and mighty struggle, one in which could be only victims and a callous perpetrator. Yet there was no call to the FBI, no slow speed chase that was interrupting a perfectly good basketball playoff game . To die a horrible death this way and have no one care, not even the person in the room next door was the sign of a true evil genius, or failing to find a true evil genius one would have to settle with me.
I grinned with a maniacal smile. I was course was tempted to get my camera and show the world proof of my heinous crime. But instead of a camera I grabbed a sponge and started methodically wiping away the evidence. Of course, as with all failed criminal masterminds I had a small problem. What to do with the stupid cork that had fallen in the wine. I also had to hurry and get out the pasta while the spaghetti sauce was still warm, although half of it was splattered over the wall opposite the wall that had a quarter bottle of pretty good Chilean wine all over it..
The fact that I cannot open a bottle of wine was just further proof that I should not be allowed anywhere near the cooking part of a kitchen. A small sense of satisfaction bubbled through as the last of crime against culinary sensibilities was wiped away, although having photographed it would have finally put to rest to arguments why I should banned from ever cooking again.
You would think that me not being able to cook was not a big deal. But in my family it was considered a big problem, often linked to whatever mental illness one parent or another had heard about on a TV show. My brother wowed many a person with his sushi making abilities and made better steaks on his George Foreman Grill than most people can cook on their outside grill. My mother to this day can still cook Spanish rice that puts any restaurant to shame.
My cooking however was normal. It always filled the basic need of turning food into an edible form. Sometimes it tasted great, often it tasted just good enough to eat.. It is not that I did not try to cook more complicated things , it is just that complicated turned out bad and inedible. It is with cooking that I learned the value of failure.
Failure , I found , is a very useful thing. It is a good indicator of what you are good at and what you need more work on. When you fail you have a limitation presented to you in a very real form,. Then you are presented with two choices, you can accept the level you are at or try to do better. With something’s, such as cooking I chose the latter and with other things, such as being a teacher who knew more about the English language then is ever necessary I worked hard at and really only became satisfied with being not only correct but being the best. Without this indicator you sometimes would spend your time thinking wou could something you simply could not do
For me my real struggle, aside from learning how to open a wine bottle without half the wine ending up on the wall as I prepare a cup of Wine a la cork, is writing. Sure writing is not nearly delicious as cooking, but the results are similar. Most of what I write ends up as saved files, projects that I promise myself I will work again on some other time or I will finally publish online once the White House declares a war on literacy. But these half baked ideas, these literary versions of painting my kitchen wall with pasta sauce because I forgot you are not supposed to heat the pot full blast for ten minutes, is proof that failure is not a permanent state of being.
Yes for every good idea , no forget good, earth shatteringly great ideas that will change how we use the English language forever , there are actually hundreds of half written paragraph, character sketches and other artifacts to my ultimate failure as a writer.
Some of them have turned out to be great blogs later on, incorporated into better ideas or resurrected in such a way that I deserve to have a national holiday named after me. Others have remained in the same state they were when they were first typed. Some bear the scars of the doodles and coffee stains that prove, in fact, what terrible ideas they were. But the end product, when it happens, is always deeply satisfying.
I could spend much more time on honing my writing skills. I have books about how to do it. I have gone through the exercises, struggled through them mightily and still end up with a mish mash of run on sentences, too many (unnecessary) brackets and enough grammar silliness to break the will of even the most stringent grammarian. For me though, it works. For everyone it should work. Make yourself happy with your writing and other people will be happy with it also.
I have taken a realistic approach to my writing and it has made all the difference. I do as something I enjoy. It fills a need for me, even if it does not fill a need for others.
I turned to my friend as she tried the pasta. She did not, as I feared she might, need to be rushed to the hospital. I looked at my wine and was proud that I fished out all the cork from it with a spoon and she smirked knowing full well, after asking her if I should just toss the wine out and drink water instead that I was inspecting my glass before every sip for some flotsam. It was no spread of Indian delicacies or five star quality meals to be sure, but the silence as we gleefully ate the food showed that I had been nothing more then a complete success.