lasagna is too math-y

Making lasagna is hard. Or it might be that I am too dumb to make lasagna. Every time—every time—I boil the wrong amount of noodles. In this instance, I am not exaggerating at all. EVERY SINGLE TIME. 8x8, 9x13—doesn’t matter. I will not do it right.

See what goes on? Odd noodle cutting and arranging.

Then the layering part always messes with my head. This, this, this, repeat. I always—always—screw it up. Maybe it’s the “repeat” directive. Why can’t they just write it all out again? We live in the digital age—how much effort would it take to copy and paste? It’s not as though some poor monk in a hair-shirt has to write it out longhand with quill and ink by candlelight. The problem with lasagna is that it steers a little too closely to mathishness. And I do not do math—proud hater since 3rd grade.

I can’t even write out a lasagna recipe for someone. I make a few really good lasagnas (such as roasted butternut squash lasagna) and when people request the recipe, I sort of gloss over the how many noodles to boil part and the how the hell you layer it part. I just leave it up to them, as if to indicate even a monkey could figure out those parts—I won’t bore you with the details. But truthfully, I’m simply incapable of figuring it out to tell them.

I had a really good idea about lasagna recently—I call it the “whatever’s beginning to rot in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator lasagna.” Dice up whatever that might be (I happened to have lots of peppers, eggplant and zucchini) and throw in some diced onion, toss it all with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until tender and browned. Pour in some sauce (homemade or jarred) and use that as the filling with the usual stuff, like ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan. Boil some noodles (you know how many, right?) and layer it all up (or have a monkey do it). If you have a ton of this veggie filling after you roast it all up, dump half into a zippy bag and freeze. Then some night when you totally don’t feel like cooking, you have the fixin’s for whatever’s beginning to rot in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator lasagna! Brilliant!

Is that not the most unappealing food photo you’ve ever seen?
Even with the bag folded over ever-so-jauntily.

But enough about math and monkeys and disgusting looking baggies of food.

How is NaNoWriMo going? Very well, thanks for asking! I am right on target. This is my 4th year and I am almost never ahead with my word count. I am the sort of person who possesses the best intentions in terms of getting ahead of the game and then consistently working right up against deadlines and only to the extent that I must. So, I write almost exactly 1,667 words every NaNo day. What is the novel about, you ask? A large cast of women characters—archetypes of sorts—who experience the gamut of female experience. It’s sort of a group interrelated short stories, but I think it will be more complex than that in the end. Intrigued? (You know you are!)

Well, you’ll have to sit tight on this one. First drafts are almost always some degree of crap or another. But I think I am getting better at novel-writing and this one won’t require 43 years of editing. At any rate, it’s easier than lasagna. Which is really hard.

full-body YES!

I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve have repeated this avowal all year long because I knew I wanted to be working on this blog and freelance projects and editing already-written novels and my other commitments. And showering. That being said, I just signed up again. Like, moments ago. (I figure I’ll cut back on showering. And definitely shaving. I mean, what are pants for anyhow? Right? Right? Are you with me?)

So, I’m gonna do it for the 4th year in a row. Why? I am nuts.

Speaking of which, it’s Halloween this week and we have watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown about 47 times in the last few weeks. I adore Peanuts holiday shows. Probably too much. (And yet in my heart I know there is no too much when it comes to Peanuts holiday shows.)

(Our jack-o-lantern and his yucky black moldy stuff.)

Happy Halloween! Now back to the topic.

What is the topic? Finding life balance. And I am about to tell you exactly what that is: a big freakin’ joke. I’m just kidding.

(No, I’m not.)

I threw an enormous fit recently. Luckily the kids were at my parents’ house and not present to hear the litany of swears and witness the throwing of objects. Here’s what happened: the thingy on the toilet that makes water not spray all over the bathroom blew and the toilet began spraying water all over the bathroom. (It was clean water, so there’s that for a small blessings and all that crap...) To me it was more than water spraying all over the bathroom—it was another mess to clean up, another thing to fix, another thing keeping me from writing.

(This freakin’ thing. Please disregard the ugly ‘80s tile we have yet to sledgehammer.)

I have maintained a mantra over the last couple of years: “I can’t get all this done!”

And alternatively: “There is no way to get all this done.”

With the addendum: “I’m so tired.”

Well, recently I realized something: I can’t get all this done. There is no way to get all this done. Also, I’m so tired. It occurred to me that if there is no way to get all this done and that very fact has been amply confirmed, why do I keep trying? The very problem is in the statement itself.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Albert Eistein

My sister has a friend who recently experienced the death of a close friend. And it made her reconsider her priorities. She said to my sister, “Unless it’s a full-body yes, then it’s a no.” Now that is a mantra by which to live.

I have applied some of that sentiment to my life in trying to approach balance. As it appears “there is no way to get all this done,” and there is nothing I can or am willing to cut entirely, the logical thing to do was identify and pare back each component and do some realistic goal setting. Err on the side of small, well-spaced objectives and if more gets accomplished, call it gravy. (Warning: this rarely happens.)

And I gave a lot of thought to media, which spins completely out-of-control really quickly. The inbox to my Gmail account was one of the things that felt unmanageable to me. And if that’s not a luxury problem, I don’t know what is. But first-world guilt aside, I did rein it in and I will share my tactics with you. I think it’s important to seriously regulate your information upload. Don’t subscribe to every blog (but do subscribe to this one), RSS feed, Facebook page—don’t live in fear of missing something “crucial.” Seek info when you need it. It’s called the Google. Use it. I went all brutal on my blog subscriptions and unsubscribed like crazy, using the full-body yes method. Where I could, I switched to Facebook or Twitter feeds. I am not a fan of RSS, but if you happen to be, that’s another way to go. With the info coming via these streams, you can so much more easily pick and choose. Now my email inbox is pretty much exclusively business. I l also try to designate a finite amount of time each day to view my media streams. The bottom line: if it doesn’t add value to my life, I cut it.

I try to apply this full-body yes sentiment to the little and the big things in life. It’s a no-fail in-your-bones kind of thing. It’s an approach toward balance.

So maybe I am nuts to do NaNo, but when I questioned it, it was a full-body yes. I’m gonna trust it.