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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wrestling with the Learning Curve

I'm not sure what would possess a woman on a rather restrictive diet to decide that now is the perfect time to branch out and conquer decorated cookies (insanity perhaps?) but the reason I haven't posted in a couple of days is that I am knee-deep in a new obsession. For two weeks I have read cookie decorator blogs. On Monday I ordered my first shipment of cookie cutters. On Tuesday I cleared off my official cookie shelf and organized my colors, extracts, cookie cutters, sheet trays, sprinkles, etc. On Wednesday I bought the ingredients for cookies and mixed up a batch so that they could cool overnight. I also practiced my piping for about an hour. My icing was too runny so the results weren't great. I blamed the icing. I then read about icing consistency for the next two hours. Today the mailman brought the cookie cutters so I rolled and cut and baked cookies. I thickened up the royal icing and finally, finally, finally I started decorating and guess what? (Chicken butt.) I'm not good yet. Sigh.

This is a problem I've had since childhood. I think it started with my bicycle. See I wanted a bike. I was pretty sick of being monitored all the time. I heard the call of the open road and all I needed was bike and I'd be free! I could taste it. I knew exactly how I'd look with my hair whipping in the wind mimicking the streamers on my handlebars. So I begged and I whined and I whined and I begged and finally, finally, finally, I got a sparkly green bike with a groovy banana seat, a white basket with flowers on the front and streamers on the handlebars. Now just let me at it and get out of my way! Well much to my surprise, the bike was defective because when I got on it, it really didn't go much of anywhere. Like it sort of sucked really and that's when I heard the fateful words, "I'll teach you to ride."

Now my dad is a great guy but he's also the guy who can absolutely destroy me with a sigh. Like level me. This is not a power he asked for nor is it one he's enjoyed much, but the fact remains that if I had to choose anyone to teach me anything my dad would come in near the bottom of my list. See he wants to talk and explain and talk some more. I want to already know so I'm not super attentive to the lecture portion of our lessons and guess what? I'm awful. Because we lived in a small town with sketchy pavement, my dad would drive me to the bank and we would practice riding there. He'd lecture, I'd fidget, I'd get on the bike, he'd help and then let go. It seemed like it took months just to learn to ride straight and then Coach Control Freak thought I needed to learn to turn. So I'd ride around the parking lot and as I was turning near the corner of the bank, my dad would start hollering ("Turn, turn, turn!!!") I would panic because my dad was yelling at me and try to look behind me and I'd crash into the bank. This didn't just happen once or twice, this happened a lot. This happened so much that I'm still talking about it four decades later. So one day we were riding home and I was examining the newest strawberry on my elbow and I thought to myself, "That's it, I'm done. Sell the bike."

Fast forward to today and once again I'm frustrated because of my unrealistic expectations and automatically I start to feel like a loser and I want to quit. But here's what's different: today I can slow my roll. The blogs and websites I have been oohing and ahhhing over are people who have done this for years and years and no matter how much I read about how to do this well, the bottom line is that I'm going to have to practice to get good. There's no way to cut practice out of the equation. I don't have to learn it all in one day. I have to remind myself that I'm not supposed to be good yet, I'm just supposed to be learning. Persistent progress. That's all it takes right? Sigh. I don't know that I'll ever get past those pie in the sky visions I get, because honestly, I don't know that I want to. As frustrated and disappointed as I get when nothing quite lives up to the hype I create, the hype-phase is pretty worth it to me and if I'm willing to do the work, I sometimes end up at the place I started out dreaming I'd be. Peace, love and sugar cookies!


  1. Lol, Jennifer - boy do I relate! I used to register for college classes, buy the books and it would make me mad that I had to actually read the books - I wanted to know everything and be able to talk like a scholar just because I bought the books. My grades suffered because if it. .