Bachelor

I graduated high school in the spring of 2006. By the next month I was attending my first semester at Brigham Young University – Idaho. I was an English major. So many plans and goals and none of them could calm me down, and I couldn’t make sense of a single one. If my first semester was a dream, my second was a nightmare. I used my money my stepdad was sending me to buy a train ticket to New York, and got out as soon as I could.

I didn’t go back to school until I was married, August 2008. We both enrolled at Weber and took History together. I got C’s on the exams, he would get A’s. I took Chemistry and sat in the way back on my computer in a sea of over one hundred students. I took a fiction class with a teacher who {wrongfully} accused the only black student of being homophobic. Things just didn’t sit right. I changed my major to Nutrition, because I liked food. The next semester, after the most unbelievably physically boring nutrition class, I changed my major to Computer Science. I kept hearing computer science majors get $50,000/yr jobs when they graduate, and that sounded pretty good to me.

It wasn’t a good fit. I failed all my computer science courses the next semester. There were many factors that led to that collapse, but I don’t know what to go into them.

A friend told me to retake them, and one at a time. She was so encouraging and I respected her so much. For the next few semesters I did just that, and got an A the first time, and the next three semesters, I at least didn’t fail.

I took a full credit load, then I got pregnant, and I didn’t do well. I went to the academic counselor and determined an acting class would get me my Associates. So I took Acting.

Two years later, I felt like I still had failed. I remember walking that stage in my purple robe and feeling I was going to have a panic attack I was so upset with myself. I wasn’t proud. I decided I needed to go back, and this time, do something I was already good at, already interested in, and somewhere I belonged. The English department.

The next five semesters were a joy. A’s and B’s in classes that one by one changed me into a better person. Each new book I read or essay I wrote, discussion I listened to or participated in, moved me. It was like nothing at all. All the hard work was work worth doing. I excelled, and I loved it.

I am proud of this degree. Proud of my sacrifices and my growth. Mostly, I am proud for finally knowing myself. I can’t believe it took me ten years, but by God, I finished.

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Final Vocabulary

I read this the other night. It is from Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity by Richard Rorty. It sang out to to me. Here, you read it first:

All human beings carry about a set of words which they employ to justify their actions, their beliefs, and their lives. These are the words in which we formulate praise of our friends and contempt for our enemies, our long-term projects, our deepest self-doubts and our highest hopes. They are the words in which we tell, sometimes prospectively and sometimes retrospectively, the story of our lives. I shall call these words a person’s “final vocabulary.”

It is “final” in the sense that if doubt is cast on the worth of these words, their user has no noncircular argumentative recourse. Those words are as far as he can go with language; beyond them there is only helpless passivity or a resort to force. . .

I shall define an “ironist” as someone who fulfills three conditions: (1) She has radical and continuous doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses, because she has been impressed by other vocabularies taken as final by people or books she has encountered; (2) she realizes the argument phrased in her present vocabulary can no neither underwrite nor dissolve these doubts; (3) insofar as she philosophies about her situation, she does not think that her vocabulary is closer to reality than others, that it is in touch with power not herself….

Can I believe that my education so far has amounted to the end all of what I need to know? Can I righteously state that the world I live in is the final way and the language I speak is the all-encompassing way of expressing all I believe? This is such an interesting philosophy. I don’t want to talk myself into circles or be unable to defend myself, especially to my daughters that have yet to form their final vocabulary, and may not adopt mine. I don’t want my daughters to remember things I said repetitively to exhaustion, and wonder what I was even talking about. I want to be able to communicate without solely using Pinterest friendly sayings, and if they rhyme, all the better! I want to discuss thoroughly, communicate visually, and by example. I want to show them more ways of saying, seeing, and understanding.

You know, I think I idolize Clarisse’s family from Fahrenheit 451 more than I am conscience of.

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Humanity of Woman

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke is only 80 pages, and yet I am still in it, and its been weeks. I keep picking it up, reading a letter, then needing time to live in it for a while. Last night I read Letter Seven, written in 1904, Rilke’s advice and direction is what everyone wants in a master. Who else would love to send a sonnet to a famous, talented writer, and have him say that he keeps a copy with him? I would.

I love when men of education, who live great theories, write about women. I am raising two women in this world, and I have ears tuned to pick up on opportunities to teach them how to be. I seek to hear or read truths that will help them navigate this world I brought them into.

The girl and the woman, in their new, individual unfolding, will only in passing be imitators of male behavior and misbehavior and repeaters of male professions. After the uncertainty of such transitions, it will become obvious that women were going through the abundance and variation of those (often ridiculous) disguises just so that they could purify their own essential nature and wash out the deforming influences of the other sex. Women, in whom life lingers and dwells more immediately, more fruitfully, and more confidently, must surely have become riper and more human in their depths than light, easygoing man, who is not pulled down beneath the surface of life by the weight of any bodily fruit and who, arrogant and hasty, undervalues what he thinks he loves. This humanity of woman, carried in her womb through all her suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she has stripped off the conventions of mere femaleness in the transformations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching will be astonished by it. Someday (and even now, especially in the countries of northern Europe, trustworthy signs are already speaking and shining), someday there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only of life and reality: the female human being.

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Beautiful Anxiety About Life

I have been reading, with all the care and intent I have in me, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I cried on the first page of the first letter. Cried, like I read what was written for me one hundred years ago, and time and space merged for this to happen. I read Letter Four last night. “… I am touched by your beautiful anxiety about life… here I feel that there is no one anywhere who can answer for you those questions and feelings…” We don’t get to read what Kappas questions, anxieties, or feelings are. All I get to read is Rilke’s reply. And I am certain they are not too far from my own beautiful anxiety about life. He goes on, “But even so, I think that you will not have to remain without a solution if you trust in Things that are like the ones my eyes are now resting upon. If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have the love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in you innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge.” 

My solution has been just that. I have digressed further and further into what is natural. I try to cook naturally, feed my family naturally and traditionally. I live in ways that others might seem what someone “poor” might do. I don’t wear makeup anymore. Maybe some mascara for an art show or powder for pictures, but that is about it. I work with my hands and by the sweat of my brow I bring forth good works into my home. I walk places more. To see my body naturally arrive at a destination, allowing my spirit to come with me. As I have come to know, my spirit travels at a walking pace, and if I go any faster than that, the anxiety, the loss, the loneliness, and the despair of being separate from my spirit, is evident in my life. 

My whole life I have had a memorized list of answers to life’s most important questions, and I can recite them on queue, in my sleep. Adam has told me that he is sick of answers, and I am not too far off on this idea. Rilke goes on in the letter to advice, “And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” In the end of letter he says, “.. be happy with your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend…”

My greatest resolve as of late is to be a great mother and wife. To refrain from selfish acts, and just get these things done. Before I took classes this summer I was reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, and I was in awe of this fantasy. I am going to finish reading it once I am finished with Rilke. I am young, changeable, passionate, and I am going to live without answers for a little while longer. 

 

Cooking in the Natural World

I made cobbler after we set up camp, which burnt because the fire was too hot. Which reminds me, while we packed for the shortest camping trip ever, I saw Adam’s blow torches in the garage and offhandedly remarked he should bring that instead of the lighter. Oh my hell, that was the best decision ever made in the history of camping. All we did was set up the fire and set it ablaze.
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I dreamed about breakfast over a fire like some distant ancestor was sending her memories to me in my sleep. What she forgot to tell me was to bring syrup for the pancakes, so not sure she is on my good list right now. Howeer, thankfully, we did have applesauce and that was an ok replacement.

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She Wakes Up Taller

Nina was born when night was at its darkest. Very soon after arriving, we were left alone in the room. It was just Adam, her, and I. The windows were uncovered and the sky was black. Her and I were together finally. Our nursing relationship began before she had her first diaper. She slept beautifully. She smiled. The nurses had to remind that it is hospital policy to not allow the baby to nap in the bed with me. So after one night there, we checked out.

She is happy, curious, strong, and enjoys the sweet things in life. She is my little Nina. In two weeks she will be one year old, and I can’t help but feel the weight of this milestone fast approaching.

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Easter Dye

I made four dyes this year: beet, purple cabbage, yellow onion skin, and tree bark. I fill the individual pots with cold water until covering the matter, then bring to a gentle simmer for an hour or so. Then I strain, add a tablespoon of vinegar per 8 oz, and that is it. I hoped to get green from my tree bark, but it was just a nice brown. One day I will achieve a real green. As always, my favorite dye is cabbage.

 

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French Beignets

The first time I had a beignet was when I made them a few months ago. One might call it a doughnut, as it is fried sweet dough, but it is far from it. There are factors to the beignets that I have never had in a pastry. Firstly, it is morning’s first gold. What did Ponyboy say? Something about nothing gold can stay? After a beignet is fried, it must be consumed immediately. The crispy outer shell breaks open to the creamy, fluffy inside dough. I eat them upsidedown so the powdered sugar rests on my tongue in my first bite, giving it that kiss of sweetness. They are spectacular, and certainly not a doughnut.

My recipe I use is very simple, tried, and true. It takes no more effort than waffles do. I cannot repost it here, since I do not own it and can’t hyperlink a book. Most of my recipes are from books, actually. I am not a recipe tester, and I don’t write recipes. I am creative with my recipes, and make them unique to my taste, but that doesn’t mean I am in any position to claim them under my name. Another post I am working on is my recipe book library. The recipe I have calls for 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and as I don’t buy vegetable oil, since I find it a rank and rancid, unhealthy substance, the only substitute for a dough that goes into 350 degree hot oil, is lard. I melted two tablespoons of lard and mixed it into my dough. I also fried the beignets in lard. It is so stable and clean, it makes for amazing deep frying. I told myself a long time ago, that once a year I can fry chicken and twice a year I can fry sweets. I follow this in the spirit of the law, which is mostly how I follow most dieting rules. Melting a couple quarts of fat and sending my meal through it is something that shouldn’t be done regularly if I am to maintain a small resemblance of a healthy figure.

 

They are my husband’s favorite breakfast, besides all the other ones I make, of course.

 

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This Is My Life Now

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A plate of beets.

Warm beet salad to be exact. I love this dish. I usually serve with walnuts or pecans. Yesterday our youngest, Nina, at 9 months old was told that she has severe reflux. We went to Instacare in the morning, then we were transferred to Primary Children’s Hospital that afternoon. It explains everything. She is otherwise insanely healthy. But the poor girl has never slept through the night, and almost every night since she was a newborn she gets up every hour… I feel terrible that I didn’t think it was a sign there was something wrong. Every day I just had hope that the next night would be better, and dealt with the sleep deprivation. So, Nina is on medication, probiotics, essential oils, and more snuggles. And I am on the elimination diet. I hate diets, especially when it focuses on what not to eat. So this blows hard. As a mom, I now have to make four different meals for every meal time: toddler, baby, husband, and myself… No grains, only rice, no starch vegetables, no acidic fruit or veggies, no vinegar, no meat except only turkey and scale fish, no dairy, no chocolate, no sugar… and the list probably goes on.

For lunch I put sardines in the center of avocado pears. It was actually delightful, save the fact that the husband and daughter had grilled brie and blackberry sandwiches. And for dinner, the family had burritos, and I ate rice, ground turkey (from the burritos), and waited until my beet finally cooked so I could cut it up and try to fill my belly.

I just want my baby daughter to get better. I will eat a plate a beets for every meal, if that is what it takes, to help her not be in such great pain. So this is my life now. I have a fridge full of vegetables, fruit, and coconut water. Nina is on the road to recovery.