Story One

It's a form of therapy to write first-person, based-on-a-real-story kinds of entries. But when I prompted someone close to me to comment on my "true" stories, his words were: "stick to fiction."

Therefore, for each of the first kind of entry, I'm going to try to submit an acutely fictitious piece as well. Here goes.

Story One

Prompt: dreams.

Lucy had been dreaming in color lately. Loud colors. 

She didn't approve of them at all. 

Still, she supposed it was a kind of blessing they didn't come on all at once. Lucy was grateful, if somewhat ruefully, of this pitying allowance. She was convinced that, had her dreams been flash-lit with all the new hues at once, Lucy P. Wittmyer, for all her strength and stamina, would have fainted on the spot. Nevermind that she was already asleep, either. That visual onslaught would have overwhelmed her, clear and simple.

Lucy liked to think of herself that way. Not overwhelmed; 'clear and simple'. She was a 'clear and simple' kind of person, as any member of her church group could testify. Her mother would have agreed to the nomenclature. Her husband certainly believed her to be of this sort. He had, in fact, remarked upon just this quality as he proposed. "You're a clear and simple woman, Luce," he'd said. "Clear and simple. Like a summer sky. When I ask you to marry me, I know right upfront I'm looking at a beautiful day the rest of my life." Lucy liked this about herself. She liked to cut out distractions, go about her business, to deruffle her life as thorough as possible. To keep everything clear and simple as much as she could.

That's why these colors, these vivid greens and reds and oranges in her dreams, were startling her. She didn't like them. She had no idea where they were coming from, and they seemed to belie a complexity and curiosity wholly against her nature. 

Her dreams were plain as day, and always had been. From the time she was young, her sisters Ruby and Carol might wake up yelping in the night about a dragon, or a boogeyman, or something even more fantastic. Otherwise, the next day and in a thoughtful way, the girls might recount a shimmering palace or other wonder in their dreams. To both the good and the bad, Lucy had listened. She always failed to visualize anything meaningful. Imagination did not come naturally to her, and soon enough she lost interest even in listening to her sisters' accounts. Her own dreams were filled with sitting in a dream classroom, walking through a dream park, or doing dream homework. She might wake annoyed to realize the efforts of her dreams wouldn't count toward her report card, but she never woke shocked by creative terrors nor did she smile, dreamy and languid, refusing to open her eyes and banish the fantasy brought to life in her own sleeping mind. Until recently, of course. Until the colors first started appearing in her dreams. 

She remembered most occurences. Despite the unusual nature of the colors appearing in her dreams, they were still dreams, and there were some that Lucy knew of as a lost event and nothing more. On occasion she would wake, the fingers of her mind grasping futilely at smoke in the wake of the sun, and know only that she had been dreaming of color. Real or imagined, many tones or one, she could not say. Only the imprint COLOR remained in her head when the rest had cleared.

The first time it had happened, she had been eating blueberries. Well, not her, but dream-her. Dream-Lucy, for ease of reference, was eating a bowl of blueberries in the kitchen. Dream-Lucy remembered thinking, oddly, that the blueberries were exceptionally tart, in the most delicious way. Dream-Lucy, on having this thought, suddenly knew, as certainly that the walls around her were her own kitchen walls, that she was not actually tasting the berries. Rather, she realized, she was thinking that the blueberries were perfectly tart, and so to her dream-tongue or dream-mind or whatever it was, they were. She was experiencing knowing "tart" without tasting anything at all. On the eruption of that very unusual and complex thought, Dream-Lucy had reached for a new handful and discovered, between the gray casts of her dream-fingers, a collection of brightest imperial bulbs, crinkled at the top with a deep navy. The deep blue of them lit up were the only thought she could hold, for just an instant, before she'd woken. The flash of it lingered in her mind all day. 


What do we get from failed relationships? Pt. 3

If you were following along in yesterday's post, you know that we've been talking about failure in the eyes of Patty McCord.

McCord's quote lead me to look more in-depth at the source of her fame: the Netflix Culture Deck. Take a look. Like, for at least 30 seconds. 

Now, if you came back to this page after reading far too long, no worries. It's captivating stuff. She outlines some sapient and straightforward rules, right? And it's not hard to sense something under the words, fitting together. A system that celebrates human attributes instead of tallying them as inefficiencies. One that allows for error, encouraged by fact and patience. 

The Deck's proclamation prompts, "are these the right guidelines? Could this be the key to smoothing out business roadblocks? To replacing culture rot with a small society of individuals that give a damn? 

For those who skipped the read (*tsk tsk!* you'd be hard-pressed to answer these questions without primary sources!) I have prepared, hopefully without advertising too heavily, some highlights.

As outlined in The Deck:

  • employees are encouraged to cultivate real values, be transparent, and employ only the motivated.
  • employees' compensation packages are stock-balanced to grow unity ("let's all succeed together!")
  • people thrive on freedom and trust; thus, employees are held accurately accountable to promote self-discipline and proactivity. 

The plan sounds good, right? Wholesome and empowering at once. 

The especially nice thing about McCord outlining this plan, however, isn't that it's easily digestible and referenceable (though these points certainly help). No, the powerfully inspiring undercurrent of the text is its tone of inclusivity. And, losers, you guessed right -- this inclusivity is even supportive of us, the failures, too! 

You see, Netflix advises prospective applicants to embody this culture, as outlined. And sure, this helps weed out the most cynically anti-social of us. But to the rest of us? It extends a little grace. It forgives, just a little. 

This is where the big magic hits. Even if these weren't our ideals before, as we read about them, we want them to be our ideals. We want to aspire to honest, momentous, invigorating culture. 



A little too Brave New World?


But consider this quote from the Deck: 

"Our big threat over time is lack of innovation, so we should be relatively error tolerant...the seduction is that error prevention just sounds so good, even if it is often ineffective. We are always on guard..."

Few would argue that, even if Harry Potter's Mad-Eye Moody could get his "constant vigilence!," it would be bad for the spirit. People work best when they're not tense every minute. 

But when our attention is always seeking what's over our shoulder, we lose the opportunity to study what's ahead. If creativity can bloom in a comedy of errors, as Netflix infers, then we of the failed relationships have hope. If the Culture Deck rings true (at least for now), we who stumble in darkness can get back up again. 

We have a guide. We have ideals. 

We have the Deck.

Baller. Thanks, Netflix.


(p.s. please Netflix give me free stuff) 

What do we get from failed relationships? Pt. 2

It's tomorrow, dear readers! Funny how time seems to move when parts of the world are breaking down. Thanks for your patience over this long night. 

Yesterday I said we'd talk more about what we, the failures, get out of our relationships breaking down. What makes it worth having our lives go "kablooey!" 


I'm prompted by this quote from Netflix's former culture director, Patty McCord, who talked about her early professional experience during an interview. Her first real job, poignant as a first love for many of us, was doing manual labor at a lumber mill. In the interview, McCord briefly describes the experience, noting that the role required her to find a workaround for her slight physique. She then notes, "what I learned from that job was that I did not want to do that work, but I knew that I could."


Powerful statement, right? 

One thing we get from failed relationships, then, if we can all be poised as McCord: in failure, we always learn better what we want and what we do not. We also learn that we can live through situations we don't like. Sometimes, with a workaround, we even manage just as well as the rest.



Stay tuned tomorrow for more lessons in defeat!

Baking Portfolio

Mixing it up a little today (pun intended) to detail the collection of baked goods I've made in the last few months! I'll be adding to this periodically. 

If you have any questions about recipes or general tips, comment away :) 


This is far less flashy than later entries, but maybe my favorite: plain white sandwich bread. No bread machine, yet soft and lovely.

With extra batter, I made cookies two ways. I used a mini, crimped muffin tin and got a slightly doughy cookie-muffin, along with the traditional chocolate-chip flats. 

These are a mix of peach and fig walnut rugelach made for Channukah...for the non-kosher, anyway. 

The poppyseed lemon teacake I made came out especially nice, moist and compact yet light in the right way. Great with black tea.

I always like to measure out first and clean as I go when possible. It's nice, too, to see the whole deconstructed product together.

A little wash of lemon frosting gives the outside of the cake just the right, light crisp. 

The finished loaf, along with some homemade persimmon-cranberry sauce and brownies.

I neglected to take a photo of the loaf, but these cross-sections give an inside look at my* walnut banana bread.

*This particular loaf made from a recipe gifted by Irene Hesse. Thank you, Irene!


* baking intermission *

Now for a brief baking break to remember that general noshing is good, too! Even better, crackers are a noshing tradition. I sometimes sustain myself whole days on leftover batter, but when I have some crackers at hand (or feel like burning some), here's another option: 

little plate with fresh berries, mustard-blanched asparagus, raisin-pepita crisps, prosciutto, boursin toast, a little raclette cheese and some cold rotisserie chicken breast. I'm a sucker for smorgasbords. 

* end baking intermission*

Now back to the main event!

This year I was lucky enough to pull off a Ukranian poppyseed roll. This is an old favorite, first attempt baking at home. 

Here's the inside view.

Next, chocolate cherry muffins! Made with frozen cherries. 

Just today: true bludor muffins. Blueberry muffins with a high tudor collar. Next time with lemon. 

And a close-up of the noble presentation: 

Although this isn't strictly baking, I also prepped my first stuffing for a chicken.


Other treats lack a photograph (I'll be more aware as of 2018), but if you have suggestions of what to make, tell me

what obvious baked good am I missing?

Please shout out in the comments! I'll always consider requests. 


What do we get from failed relationships? Pt. 1

2017 was a year of change for me. Stupid, overwhelming, indifferent and yet, somehow, cruel change. This may seem to be taking things a little personally, but hey, life is a personal thing. By all accounts, then, I personally failed last year. *cue shame bell



yet, somehow, I feel okay.

Don't get me wrong, with the double-handed-axe-to-the-chest whammy that was 2017's end, I'm hurt, sad, and a little lost. Tears and bouts of wall-staring aren't unheard of. That half-weight, half-pit in my chest is taking up residence again.

But even if last year was an objective measure of failure, I remember the failures of my youth. Those failures were heavier. More burdensome. I can barely grasp, like fog curling back against the morning, the pain that accompanied my first real heartbreak, my first rejection letters and, embarrassingly, my first c on a test. The past was harder. Infinitely harder. But how? Given the accounting of the last year, I really shouldn't be standing.

In summation:

  • Jan: marathon job search
  • Feb: death
  • Mar: start new job
  • Apr: job is 2.5 hours away, each way
  • May: 1/3 company cut, including me
  • May: breakup
  • Jun: get back together
  • Jun: sister road trip
  • July: eviction
  • Aug: move-in with boyfriend
  • Sep: burning man
  • Oct:  school
  • Nov: grad school prospects drop
  • Dec: true breakup

I've come out the other end of the year with no job, no prospects. Yet somehow I feel far more sure-footed than in the past. 

Maybe it's foolhardiness. Maybe maturity. I can't tell, but if perspective can help, then, I hope, so can better recordkeeping. 


Let's see what you've got, 2018. 

*wondering about the post title? tune in tomorrow.