Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On Laziness, Love, and Their Mutual Exclusion

Recently it occurred to me (he says as if he thought he was the first to think of this... he knows he is not) that we all live life according to our own unique narratives; personal fairy tales only we can hear. Stories to get us through the day. It's all just a matter of which fairy tales we chose to believe. God? Money? Fame? Whatever gives us a semblance of purpose in this far too often bleak world.

Me, I watched too many romantic comedies growing up. My brain is constantly occupied in the writing of an epic fairy tale of love, one that ends when I get my Princess Bride; or Winnie Cooper; or Meg Ryan (not so much a current fantasy, but still); or Annie Hall; or girl from Ferris Bueller's Day Off; or Maria (from West Side Story, only, you know, without the gang war and getting stabbed part); or etc... And on and on. You can have your God, and your fame, and your fortune, I'll take love. In my mind, love is the only fairy tale that even has an outside chance at ever coming true. Love gives me purpose.

Now, how, exactly, I am ever going to find and slay the mythical love beast of my fairy tale is another matter altogether. Up to this point, I am forced to admit I have been far too prone to follow that good old path of least resistance right where it inevitably leads - the land of loneliness and masturbation. Path of least resistance, hell, let's just call it what it is: Laziness. For, as much as I want love and dream about the fairy tale ending, I have been consistently lazy about trying to find it. Laziness does not breed love, my soul mate will not fall in my lap while I am not looking. I can attest. Further, even if I did get a magical lap dance of true love, I'd still need to work hard to nourish that love and keep it around. No, laziness and love simply do not mix. In fact, it is such a fragile, fleeting phenomenon, that even with the most dedicated care and devotion it sometimes withers and dies. Can you imagine if you are totally lazy about it? Loneliness and masturbation.

Morty, age 48 hrs.
So, what am I doing about it? Well, I am going to put the cart before the horse, that's what. I am writing the sequel to the story before the original is complete (or even begun, really). I have skipped the pesky falling in love part and gone straight to procreation. That's right everyone, I have an announcement to make. I've had a baby! It's a boy! He's 288 grams, brown, bubbly, and kept at room temperature. He rises and falls daily and smells like moldy cheese farts. A real chip off the ol' block! He is a wild-yeast sourdough bread starter and I love him very much. His name is Morty, and I know some day he will make some lucky loaf of bread very happy. Look at him, isn't he so cute and crusty! He's only two days old in this picture, but already you can tell he's going be a strong young lad (and a cranky old retired Jew).

Morty, age 96 hrs.
Here is another picture of young Morty at four days old... atta boy! Looking very gaseous! Anyway, the inspiration to make my own starter was born from this video, which begat the purchase (thanks, Dad) of this book: Tartine Bread - which was written by the dude in the video, who owns this restaurant in San Francisco. If you are anything like me, you will watch the video and fall in love with bread all over again. You will want nothing more than to sit on a city curb, tear off a hunk of fresh bread, inhale the deep, old-world aromas, and savor. Tartine's bread is famous in the foodie world as the best example in America of true rustic-French style, slow-rise crustiness. This weekend I will have my first baking cycle, in which a chunk of Morty gets incorporated first into a "leaven" mix, which is then incorporated into the larger bread dough and set out to rest and rise, alternately, nearly all day. Finally, at about 4pm, it will be time to bake, and by 5pm it will be time to find a street curb and stuff my face.

The Tartine method is not for the lazy home baker, it is a commitment (Oy!). I can't be lazy with him or he will die. I have to feed him, change him, and talk to him daily. OK, maybe I don't have to talk to him, but he appreciates the extra encouragement. Taking care of this thing is work... but all love is work, isn't it. The only kind of work I really have any honest ambition to do, in fact. If I can keep little Morty alive, maybe there is hope for me. Maybe I'll not be forever too lazy to find love in the form of an actual, living, human woman. I hope so. I hope Morty is the harbinger of a real change in my work ethic. A change that will bring me closer to my fairy tale ending. In the meantime, I have the love of a bread starter named after an old man. And that ain't bad.

Finally, let me take a moment to be serious. While I celebrated a birth, others were mourning a death. Recently, a young teacher I had subbed for many times slipped into a coma and died for no apparent reason. She was only 43, had three daughters, and was, by all accounts, a person who made the world a better place. I didn't know her, but we had emailed. I have emails from a dead woman on my computer screen right now... Jesus. Seize the fucking day, people. Seize the fucking day.

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