Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who said failure isn't an option?

When you turn 40 you need to have a party. It's a rule. So My Beloved and I are throwing my sister a 40th birthday cocktail party on Saturday, complete with fancy hors d'oeuvres and a signature cocktail (which My Beloved has promised to invent...eventually).

In the interest of dealing with that bereavement fatigue I mentioned yesterday, I've been spacing out the party preparation tasks over the course of the last few days. Today's agenda included washing all the hardwood floors, dusting the living room/dining room and baking the cake (which I was going to freeze and ice on Saturday).

I am a good cook most of the time and a good baker most of the time. But if something is going to fail in a dramatic and spectacular way, it's going to be when I'm preparing it for a special occasion.

You know, like someone's 40th birthday.

So there is cake and it is edible, but it's not party-worthy cake. Not by a long shot.

When you have to cut an inch off each side to get rid of the strange crunchy ends, and in the process notice bubble holes so big you can stick you finger into them, the cake ceases to be a thing of beauty, no matter how good it smells (and no matter how good those crunchy ends taste - because yeah, of course I ate them).

So as I stood there in the kitchen looking at the cake, it slowly morphed into a tangible symbol of bigger failures. The life and death variety.

And I started getting a tiny bit panicky, because failure of any kind is very distressing right now. It sabotages my sense of control. It ruins my fragile peace. And, frankly, it pisses me off. No one likes to fail, but when you can't even bake a fucking cake properly...

In the end it wasn't a complete disaster. The cake is fine for tomorrow night's dessert with my family in place of the cake my Mom bought. Once iced with the requested raspberry icing I'm sure it will be just fine. And in the meantime I'll head out to the grocery story and order a cake for Saturday.

Failure is all about making do. Figuring out another way. Picking up the pieces and carrying on. And yeah, eating some crusty ends every once in a while.

I'm good at dealing with failure. I've learned how. I hate doing it, but it seems to fit me like a glove and I somehow make it work.

But still, I hope one day I'll be able to bake a perfect cake.


Anonymouse said...

The good news is that while crusty ends, aren't as pretty as silver lining, they taste better.

I'm not sure that makes any sense.

Julia said...

but this way the tasty cake can be shared just with family. Yum. And crusty ends for you? pretty good deal.

I am sorry, though, that the image was so powerful and so hard for you to deal with.

Heather said...

how can you tell if they are crusty bits when they are dunked in milk? don't they become nice and soft again?

Aurelia said...

To misquote Freud, sometimes a cake is just a cake.

Seriously, toss this and go buy one. Take it easy, be kind to yourself.

The Nanny said...

Hey, I LOVE the crusty bits on the ends of the cakes I make. (What? They aren't supposed to be there???)

And I was wondering--I'm not very familiar with Blogger--how do you find out how people came to your blog? You mentioned seeing how people came to your blog in yesterday's post & I was curious. Thanks!

M said...

I hate that we have to learn how to be good at failure...

(btw the crunchy bits are the best!)