Thursday, May 3, 2012

baking = medicine for the blahs

 I've had a serious case of the mean reds lately.  If you haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's...well, first, Why?  Second, go get it.  Now.  Third, the mean reds are this:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat, and maybe it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid, and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

For me it's this impending doom feeling mainly because it just seems like icky stuff keeps happening.  Not the worst of the worst, I haven't lost all perspective.  My uncle recently had a heart transplant AND stem cell replacement, so I know what real difficulty is.  Mine are just a series of things - getting an email from a couple who wants to return the dogs (dogS, plural!) they adopted from us eight years ago.  EIGHT years people!  WTF?  getting pneumonia, losing our sweet kitty.  Stuff that sucks on their own but when you string them together over two weeks time you get a case of the mean reds.
 Luckily I have a bit of a remedy.  I bake.  When I was younger I would wallow.  Now, I bake.  It just makes me feel better.  There is the obvious reason - eating.  Who doesn't like to eat when they are down?  But that's not even my main reason, albeit a lovely side affect.  For me it's the satisfaction of building something from scratch.  Baking is a precise process.  It's not like cooking where you can throw stuff together and taste, adjust, taste, adjust.  Not that cooking isn't it's own art - it certainly is!  Anyway, I like the step by step of it all.  It takes focus.  So when you've got a case of the mean reds, focusing on something else is always a good thing.

Then watching your efforts transform, smelling that yeasty aroma, seeing a small ball of dough rise up and over the top of its bowl, watching gooey batter become a spongey little cake...oh, it's just happiness for me.
 Look at those pretty soon-to-be cupcakes with all of their little specks of vanilla beans!  Is that not just joy in a paper wrapper?  Mmm mmm mmm!
 You can easily throw your happy quotient right over the top by adding in sprinkles.  Who can be sad or scared or angry or blue when you have piles of sprinkles in front of you?  Sure, it's not a long term fix.  But it does the trick for a little bit.  And one good way to drag out that good feeling is to give away the goodies you make.  As I type I have dough rising in the kitchen that will soon become: a few rolls for Tom, or as he likes to call them "vehicles for honey", cinnamon rolls, and a loaf of bread.  A good half of the cinnamon rolls are headed to a friend who is pregnant.  I don't know why, I just wanted to make her some cinnamon rolls.
 So seriously, you've never seen Breakfast at Tiffany's?  Man.  That movie was a huge for me.  And I will never forget the first time I saw it.  I had moved to Lubbock to go to school at Texas Tech.  I was down, missing my parents, all that first-time-leaving-home stuff.  The first night I was there one of my dear friends (who I have known since I was six and she was two) came to my dorm with a sleeping bag in one arm and Breakfast at Tiffany's in the other.  She set up her sleeping bag in between my bed and my roommates bed and we all plopped down and watched the movie.  It was awesome.  I can't really tell you why, except that it IS.  But it was just a feeling that everything was gonna be ok, that I wasn't alone.  I guess I wrap all those warm fuzzies up in my feelings about this movie.  Thanks for that Nat.

Just to wrap up.  When you are feeling blue or red maybe you need a friend or maybe you need to bake or maybe you need to bake for a friend.  But I can tell you this for sure - all of the above work way better than that angsty wallowing I used to opt for!