Own It


Some people are just too sweet.


A couple of weeks ago I insulted my culinary skills in front of some acquaintances. They said I shouldn’t talk that way and that it couldn’t be that bad. That’s sweet.


But my cooking is that bad. And I own it.


I hate cooking. I hate the mess it makes. I hate the planning, shopping, prepping, and whatever else goes along with trying to take a set of ingredients and concoct something semi-edible at best. My meager attempts have kept body and soul together, but those attempts are mostly of the chew-and-swallow variety. If it can’t be swallowed (or chewed), peanut butter or takeout are always the backup plans.


My dear husband says I do just fine. One of those sweet people, he is. But he comes home famished after work, and everything tastes at least okay when you’re that hungry. After twenty-plus years, I think I’ve burned out all of his taste buds. Poor thing doesn’t know any better.


I find myself asking the recipients of my efforts the same question nearly every meal: Is it edible? I’m not looking for praise in that moment. I’m gauging whether I should cancel my plans for the rest of the evening and take said recipients to the nearest ER to have their stomachs pumped.


Two days ago I tried something new. The tomato-y pasta-ish soupy mess didn’t get the chance to boil past a few seconds before the smell smacked me upside the head and I tossed it over the fence—still smoking (umm, smoldering)—for some poor raccoon or opossum.


Come to think of it, that may be what happened to the half-bloated, half-flattened raccoon on the side of the road not far from my house. He partook of my mishap and decided to stand in traffic.


Give me a twenty-step chemistry experiment and I can pull out a textbook-perfect result right down to the last molecule and write you a crisp, clean lab report complete with graphs, tables and diagrams—and not blow one thing up.


Give me a three-step recipe and I “forget” I’m cooking. I boil junk over. I slop stuff on the floor. Burn. Smolder. Undercook.

Smolder and undercook—now that takes talent.


You name it. All in three miserable steps.


There’ve been recipe errors that my poor Schnauzer (may he rest in peace) wouldn’t even eat. And he feasted regularly on Legos, dirty socks and those metal bits that hold erasers on number 2 pencils.


And may the dear Lord help me if I have to cook for strangers. There’s just not enough Prozac.


I own my culinary inadequacy. I also own that I don’t care to get any better at it, either.


I own my claustrophobia. Steel-covered bridges and crowded elevators. Crowds of any sort, actually.


I own the love/hate relationship I have with my 16?-year-old cat. He’s been at threshold of death’s door a couple of times now, but he keeps spawning lives. As I type this, he’s rubbing his face all over the corner of the laptop screen, demanding attention. How sweet he is. Until I try to pet him and he decides in that millisecond between sweetness and my hand reaching his cheek that he’s now a demon-possessed cougar and wants to eat my flesh. Love/hate. On both our parts.


I own my love of unicorns. I recently had one made by a dear friend. That sucker is lavender infused! On particularly rough days, I bury my nose in its mane, breathe in deeply and visualize its real-life counterpart galloping along a peaceful stream at the base of a majestic mountain. Where there are no phones. Where there is nowhere else to be and time pauses. And where there are definitely no people to feed.


What I haven’t owned yet is calling myself an author. Or a writer. Someone asked me about my blog the other day. “So you’re an author?” I froze. I had no idea what to say. No? Yes?


Sort of?


“Well, I sort of play around with words.”


That’s bull crap. I’ve written stories. Some I really like. Some probably should go stand in traffic, but hey. Unlike the soup mishap, I had fun and I learned something while writing those duds.


“Sometimes I make things up and stories sort of spill out.”


Bull.


I’m working on a book. I’ve written stories. And blogs. And flash pieces. Many have sold on Amazon and a few are under consideration to be published “for real.”


But somehow saying “Yes” and leaving it at that seems arrogant. Not sure why. If I asked my plumber if he is a plumber, he’d say yes and he’d show me his license if I asked to see it. If he answered “Sort of,” he’s not touching my pipes. If I asked my nurse practitioner if she is a real-life nurse, she’d say yes and show me her degree. If she answered “Sort of,” she’s not touching my pipes, either.


So why is it when people ask me if I’m an author—or call me an author to another in the conversation—I get all wonky weird and socially awkward, yanking away as if these good-natured people are about to hiss and draw blood?


I haven’t owned it yet.


Something to work on. I may need to inhale that lavender mane a few more times before shouting “I’m a freaking AUTHOR!” from the rooftop. Or I could start here.


Beth, you’re the worst cook on the planet, AND you’re a freaking author.


Okay. That last phrase just sent me into a hot flash. Off to snort my unicorn…


Thank you for hanging out for a bit. Check back on Mondays for a new blog and the first Friday of every month for a free fictional short, and be sure to visit my Amazon page.