Friday, September 27, 2013

Bite Back: According to Plan

Warning: the following is a giant, rambling post about things that are RELATED to food, but it contains no recipes, only worries and tiny stories, seasoned with existential crises. You have been told! 

<s>I baked pumpkin muffins today.</s> I tried to bake some low carb pumpkin muffins because, hell, 1. Why should Starbucks get all of the pumpkin spice action?
2. I like muffins and I wanted to eat them.
3. I like a challenge, trying new recipes and new ingredients!

To cut to the chase here, they didn't turn out so well.

Instead of being fluffy and spicy like I wanted, they stayed as these half hearted, fall flavoured hockey pucks. Still edible, but not exactly what I had in mind when I hit up my kitchen this afternoon. Sometimes, things just don't go according to plan.

Another perfect example of things going awry is the dilemma that I'm still wrestling with, even after an entire summer of agonizing over the decision: Should I leave university to go to baking school? I went so far as to apply to one baking school in Toronto, and to take a tour of another here in Montreal. When I made the choice to go back to university, "only for a semester, just to see" it seemed relatively obvious to me as soon as I got over dragging ass through the first two weeks that I couldn't just drop out in the middle. I'm stubborn in funny ways, and quitting is one of them. Of course, this was a decision I made in the quiet internal part of myself that smells like fresh baked cinnamon rolls, and I didn't really bother to spread the word far, figuring it wasn't that important.

Then, last week I was texting my kid sister and she asked me if I was still thinking about moving in to her apartment in T.O. in January. Basically, "are you going go through with this?" It threw me for a loop. I had been so busy, wading back into the quicksand of William Blake and dependent clauses, I had sort of written off my pastry school dreams as something either for the future, or something completely stupid that I impulsively threw my heart at one time. I had forgotten that I still had real options to choose from, somewhere out there, that open door. I tried to shake off the feeling that there was an entirely different world at my fingertips if I could only reach far enough; it would be mine for the cost of the world I'm currently living in.

I know that a lot of people can't even dream of university education, let alone have the option to drop out whenever they please because they just really, really, really dig the romance of the words, "chantilly cream." I planned, sort of, in my head, to buckle down. Suck it up, finish my degree, and then decide from there what it was I really wanted to do.

I thought that was it, but then, my mom texted me saying I had gotten a letter from the culinary school I applied to. My immediate reaction was panic. An excited panic. I was in the middle of a library seminar, and on the verge of screaming. I told her not to open it. I asked her if it was a big envelope, ripe with school brochures and congratulations. She said it was letter sized. Gulp.  I told her to open because I couldn't take the waiting. Get the bad news over with. 

Guys, I more or less have a place in culinary school. The letter wasn't an all out acceptance, it said I had a missing math requirement. (I didn't submit my high school transcript, because I somehow figured with a full college transcript and a first year university on my record, it would be proof enough that I was educated. My bad.) All I had to do was submit a high school transcript and boom, instant life transplant. I was scared, excited, emotional and torn. I had enough kaleidoscope reactions that I realized this wasn't something I could shrug off. 
Even though in my head, I had already sealed the sensible choice to finish my degree (the words "just in case" hovering somewhere in the back of my mind), it was clear my heart was split on the entire issue. So I phoned the culinary college the next day to ask if there was any way I could defer my acceptance until next January, figuring I could take a full course load in the summer, smash getting my degree in the fact and sprint right onto the next option without stopping to breath or even think about what might occur.

But just like today's muffins, things don't go according to plan. The nice woman on the phone told me they don't accept deferrals, I would just have to withdraw my application and reapply when I was ready. Which wouldn't be a big deal except that, as a creature of impulse, I don't know when that will be. If I think on something too long, that's a sure way to talk myself out of it. 

It doesn't help that... I know it sounds stupid, but I'm kind of embarrassed that I haven't settled into the idea of at least one job for the near future. I know careers morph and change constantly, but this lack of direction is a slight source of bashfulness at every family event I have to go to that involves small talk. So... all of them.

"What are you doing with your life? Still interested in film? Oh, right you're at university now aren't you? How is that going?.......Dropping out?.....Really?"

What I strongly feel I need from myself is an answer as to which one I should focus on for a career right this moment. For a living. This shouldn't ever be a bad thing, but the fact that I went to film school, and then university seems directionless. Piling on a year of baking education on top of that seems to be just another fumble on my part. My older sister has told me a few times she could see me as a perpetual student, staying on to get a Masters degree, a PhD... and I mean... at least those things would be energy focused in one direction.

I'm so frustrated because I'm in the world of university, looking out the window into the possibilities beyond it. I'm trying to take notes on poetry, something I do love really really, yet somehow I'm thinking about small blueberry pies and thanksgiving desserts. What if I dropped out, go to baking school, hate it, and then move on to something else? Or miss the English program once I leave it? What if I keep doing this dance forever?

I don't know what to make of any of it. Anyway, I'm really sorry for rambling like this. I'm going to have another half-baked muffin and think about life. If anyone has any words of advice, let me have 'em.

I am Jack's aching brain and unsolved decisions. 

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