So, I’ve been feeling rather strange lately. It’s not, necessarily, a bad sort of strange. It’s more like I’m on the verge of something. Whether that something is an embarrassing mental breakdown or a painless transition to the New World, I haven’t yet been able to tell. What, until very recently, I considered my existence is splitting at the seams, and I’ve felt that existence, with considerable panic and internal mayhem, spilling out onto the carpet, mixing in with other fibers, getting caught between a kitten’s toes and towed to the wild outdoors, floating aimlessly in the breeze of an electric fan and landing just as aimlessly somewhere unfamiliar. I don’t know who I used to be, and I certainly don’t know who I am now. I actually don’t think Oberlin is helping any with that.
Being somewhere so familiar and feeling so unfamiliar has filled me with a new sort of anxiety that I don’t quite know how to handle. Essentially, I am wrestling with many of the same social issues. I still don’t know when it is appropriate to contact people, and I’m certainly never part of the spur-of-the-moment hang sessions on campus. This fills me with such a paranoia that I desperately try to make plans with people, “desperately” being the key word in this situation. (Most of the time when I contact people, it is for an ostensibly nonurgent issue that, in actuality, is so urgent for me.) When these plans fall through for whatever reason (and they usually do), that paranoia kicks into an even higher gear and I begin to feel like that annoying little sibling you “have” to drag with you to the mall. All of this is nothing new, really. Eighty percent of my life is still spent overanalyzing the other twenty percent of my life. That continuity, at least, is vaguely comforting.
What’s different about this year is that I’m no longer a college student. Chance meetings in the main library just don’t happen, and I don’t consider the student union my second home anymore. I don’t lie around shirtless in Wilder Bowl waiting for someone I know to come along and roll in the grass with me. I don’t have homework; I don’t have classes; I don’t eat in a co-op, and I certainly don’t live in a dorm. No one knows where to find me, and I feel like no one is really trying. Whereas not even six months ago I was happily “one of them,” the truth is, I’m just not anymore. So, allow me to pull a Frodo Baggins as I inquire sentimentally: “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on on, when in your heart, you begin to understand: there is no going back?”
Basically, I was silly to think that I could come here and just pick up where I left off, because where I left off wasn’t meant to be a comma or an ellipsis. It was meant wholeheartedly to be a period, and I ignored it. Like a run on sentence, my persistence in Oberlin so far has been awkward and unwieldly. The only way to change it now is to turn it into some sort of artistic statement, like a line in a painfully overwrought poem or a sentence in some obscure, postmodern German book that is secretly an entire paragraph all on its own…with the verb at the very end. Which, is to say, there doesn’t really seem to be a way to change it. I was meant to move on, and instead I hesitated. Every ending is very much a new beginning, and that’s an empowering thought, but you’ve got to finish the ending before you can start a new beginning.
I’m not going to beat this metaphor any further to death. Like all my posts about unresolved, existential issues, this has the potential to become an unending circle of rhetorical questions and self-doubt. Before I move on to the real point of this post, I’ll just say this. Ultimately, returning to Oberlin this year will be a good idea. When I graduated high school, I was not ready to start college. Sex was a forbidden and dirty act. Alcohol was a poison so potent I’d die at the first sip. The whole world stopped after 11pm. While I do feel like I’m sprinting towards adulthood, I’m not ready for a whole new world. A year off is a good thing. Even if I can’t go back (and when I think about it, I certainly don’t want to), what I can do is grit my teeth, close my eyes, and lay my finger on that damn period key. My time at Oberlin College has ended, but Oberlin, Ohio can still be my new beginning. I just have to finish typing “The End” so I can finally start again with “Once upon a time…” And, ya know, anything can happen after an ellipsis! 😉The real point of this post was to talk about my WEEKEND. For the first time in weeks, I have a day off. In fact, I have twodays off, and they’ve been fantastic so far. My dad came to visit today and brought me the things I needed to make my room seem more like home and less like just another place I’m crashing for a couple of weeks. We got a late lunch at Black River, where my Agave employee discount also applies (whoo!), and then checked out the art museum. The AMAM is one of the most amazing things about Oberlin as a town and a college, I think. I’ve always adored it, but right now especially they have this really awesome exhibit on religion, ritual, and performance featuring pieces from Yale’s art collection as well. I won’t go into it much, because, if you think I can go on forever about my problems, I can go on even longer when talking about religious art.
One of my favorite things to do is stalking depictions of the Virgin and Child. Christ was born knowing he would die, which is more of an adult anxiety (holla!), so in order to show that in their paintings and carvings, artists normally put some weird, hairy manboy on Mary’s lap. He was a man, because he was the Son of God, but he was a baby cos he’d just spent 9 months gestating in a virgin’s womb. He’s normally squeezing milk from her boob or staring eerily into your soul, and it’s just…kinda creepy. What I’m ultimately looking for is tenderness and connection. I don’t like Christ as a balding manboy. I don’t like Mary as an uncaring mother that just happened to pop this manboy out of her body and then didn’t nurture it. Virgin or not, Mary was the mother of God, and, call me picky, what I want to see is a mother. I’m going to stop ranting, and just post a few pictures of works that pass my test.
Okay okay, I’m sorry! Give a girl a break! I’m terribly lonely and the only words I get to say most days are “Would you like queso with that?” and “Can I get you anything to drink?” Exercising my brain at the art museum was seriously one of the most mentally stimulating things that’s happened in a while, so pardon the momentary tangent. The real, REAL point of this post was to post more Cooking Chronicles! Today, I experimented with two different things: pickles and chocolate treats.
The first recipe came from my friend, Kara, who made pickles over the summer that I devoured with glee every time I visited. I asked her to send me the recipe so I could try it, and I finally found time this morning.
6 cups water
2 cups vinegar
1/4 cup salt
((bring these ingredients to a boil))
a bunch of dill weed
some chopped onions
some minced garlic
((pour the vinegar solution over the veggies and let sit for 3ish hours…put in the fridge and wait 2-4 days to eat))
This second recipe is an idea that came from Tumblr (big surprise) for making fancy chocolates in an ice cube tray… I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first, but…as you can see, they turned out splendidly.
2 7oz chocolate bars (I used Hershey’s dark)
a couple of strawberries
a few hazelnuts
cut up the strawberries into quarters so they’re small enough to fit nicely in the tray. break the chocolate up and put it in a bowl. heat it in the microwave in 20 sec intervals until it is melted, but be careful not to overheat it or it will get gooey. pour the chocolate into each section of the tray about 1/4 of the way full. put in a slice of strawberry or sprinkle in some hazelnuts. finish filling the section with chocolate and put a strawberry or hazelnuts on top. stick it in the fridge to let it set. take them out like you’d take out ice cubes and enjoy!