“You have pretty high expectations of yourself, don’t you?”
We were at a dinner party, and a man I had just met asked me this question. Let’s call this man, Bob.
It was hard to answer Bob, especially because Marcus spent the next five minutes making strangling & choking noises, not at all dissimilar to the sounds a pug would make straining against its collar. I turned to my husband, looked at him lovingly and whispered “Fuck off!” Some of you may think that’s a horrible way to talk to your spouse, but it’s our love language.
I stammered out a reply. I don’t remember how I answered this question, but I do remember Marcus mentioning the time I got a 95 on a paper for a college horticulture class. I was upset because it wasn’t an 100.
My husband reminded me of this conversation Wednesday night when he came home to find me, hysterically crying over a pie.
I had come up with a brilliant idea. The success of my marmalade had blown up my ego and given me the notion that I, too, could be a recipe developer. Pioneer Woman posting your link on her site makes you feel like you made it as a food blogger. The only thing that makes your feel more accomplished is Williams Sonoma publishing your recipe for Early Spring Pea Pesto. (I think recipe developers are amazing. My comments are made in jest. I’m posting this because I still have people strangely upset over my “hate” for baking twine.)
My idea for a pie was brilliant. I’m not going to write about it here. Food bloggers are sneaky bastards, and someone will steal my original idea that is probably posted on 100 blogs already.
Instead, I fucking created a buttermilk chess pie.
“But Kristina – chess pies are awesome!” I can hear you all saying that now. Yes. Yes, they are. There is only one problem: I did not mean to make a buttermilk chess pie. I can’t pretend I’m awesome and post it on my blog, telling you all that I meant to do this. Why? Because I already have a buttermilk chess pie on my blog, and I already have enough Joe Biden references in my posts.
I pulled that pie out of the oven, noticing that it did not appear to be what I wanted it to be. My pie crust also looked like shit, but that’s to be expected. I let it cool, cut a piece and tasted it. Then, I burst into tears. This is when Marcus came home and found me weeping.
I will not deny that I am prone to histrionics. I will not deny that Marcus has to live with a lot of these moments. He usually manages not to laugh at me or roll his eyes while he’s consoling me. I’ve tried fighting this part of me and have never been successful. I’m left trying to mute that tendency as best I can. I’m pretty successful, especially when it comes to checking my anger. I’ll throw a hissy over some overly pretentious thing that someone says or wrote in a blog post, but when it comes to the ones I love, I’ve learned to bite my tongue.
I’m usually not so ridiculous that I let a pie break me. But I wanted that pie to work. This week was going to be the week that I POSTED TWO RECIPES IN A WEEK ON MY BLOG!!! It’s also Pi day. I know some other bloggers try to make Pie Day happen on another, lesser day, but Pie Day is Pi Day. Period. It’s in the Bible.
I went to bed, making a plan to cram a frantic pie session into today. It’s not that I’m overly busy. I’m not. I’m a bit of a housewife right now, except without the wrapping myself in saran wrap part and meeting Marcus at the door with a cocktail. I think it’s because I usually drink the cocktail.
But I’m done. I am so done.
I’m not sleeping. I’m exhausted. I’m so anxious that I’m crawling out of my skin. My brain feels like I’m thinking through quicksand. I’m dealing with ongoing nausea that sent me to the doctor on Tuesday crying, asking them to do anything to fix it.There’s a myriad of health issues that I’m not listing that are making me miserable.
I’m trying to manage as best as I can. I’m taking medication to counter some of the above (I want to gay marry Zofran). It’s not enough. I can’t take pride in a day where my main source of accomplishment is taking a shower and doing two loads of dishes.
Marcus tries to tell me that it’s OK not to be at the top of my game. I always point out that I’m not just screwing up the top of my game; I’m wallowing in the bottom. He tells me that I’ll get “me” back, that it’s just going to take time. Sometimes I believe him.
I cry and rage at everything. I’m crying right now. My emotions are a tidal wave, and I’m drowning. I know this is normal. My brain was concerned with dealing with the physical problems I had, not the emotional ones. These emotions randomly hit me now. I do not like this.
Part of the problem is that I never feel that I am enough. I felt like that before I was diagnosed with cancer. I feel like that now. There are so many things that I want to do. There are so many projects I want to take on. There are so many ways I want to make a difference in this world. There are so many ways I want to show people how awesome I can be. These rarely happen.
I know I’m not alone.. We are an elite bunch. We spend hours creating something. People tell us how awesome it is, and we know we could have made it better. That’s preferable to our other option: trying to create something and quitting out of frustration because it’s not good enough. We chain ourselves to the limitations that only exist in our brains.The dialog in our heads is full of self-loathing. We even loathe ourselves for loathing ourselves. It’s not a fun way to live.
I’d love to finish this post with some amazingly, insightful answer. I don’t have one. If I did, I wouldn’t be struggling.
I’m also not posting this, so you can all feel sorry for me. I was too overwhelmed last year by pain and exhaustion to post about most of my “Fun trip with cancer” journey, so posting this is a self-centered thing to do. When someone comments or emails me telling me that one of my blog posts helped them, that critical part of my brain shuts up and lets me feel happy and useful.
The best answer I can come up for me right now? I am not going to make a pie today. I’m going to get up and take a shower. I may even get fancy and put some lipgloss on. I’m going to try to not spend the day loathing myself for something I can’t control. I have no control over how tired I am. I do have control over the shade I throw myself. I will feel proud of myself for getting a post up. I may get some laundry done. I may even go crazy and get one of my garden beds weeded. This may be the day I succeed at taking a nap. Or it might not. .
I ate a piece of my pie this morning. It was delicious.
If your day would be incomplete without a pie recipe, this is the link to the chess pie that is supposed to be a chess pie. Also Joe Biden! This is a recipe for the worst pie I ever made on one of the worst days I ever had. This is a pie recipe for something that you could easily turn into a pie. Happy Pi Day, everyone!