Friday, July 22, 2011

Against the Grain

Cloud bank rolling inland - I-280 N to San Francisco
Let's talk habits. Wait, no. That's not quite strong enough for what I'm getting at. Let's talk about those ingrained behaviors, beliefs, and instincts that reside somewhere near the very core of our being. We don't even notice them half the time. Or at least we don't notice them right up until the moment when something steps into our comfort zone and asks us to do something that feels distinctly, excruciatingly, against the grain.

Case in point: I am a very frugal person. Often to extremes. I mean, is it really necessary to debate the pros and cons of an $8 book on Amazon for three weeks before deciding, ultimately, not to buy it? I'll spend money when it's needed or justified, sometimes takes me a while to get to that point (see previous sentence). 

And now I'm writing this cookbook that requires, you know, that I cook. With ingredients. Using equipment. And with other books to use as reference. All of which need to be purchased. I don't have the luxury of debating the merits of a particular cooking pot for three weeks because I need it now. And I can't waffle about buying those sour cherries because they're only in season for another week. 

Even worse is when I realize that I don't actually have the option of not buying the cherries. Even if my internal barometer is telling me they're too expensive, I know I have to buy them because this book that I'm working on really needs a recipe or two with sour cherries. You'd think that would be justification enough to satisfy this Inner Scrimper and Saver, but alas, it is not. Even as I was signing the credit card receipt for eight pounds of sour cherries, my shoulders were hunched and my stomach was knotted. What if I mess up the recipe? What if all these cherries end up being wasted? Do I really need this many pounds? Do I need more? Am I wasting money?

It just goes against the grain, pure and simple. I've gotten so used to pinching pennies over the years that it's hard to open my fist and relax. To trust myself that I'm not making a mistake. That I'm looking for the best deals and making sure I buy what I need and saving my receipts for tax season. I'm not being frivolous. I'm not being irresponsible. These are things I have to repeat to myself again and again. And once more for good measure.

Also yes, I'm going to make mistakes. I'm going to have batches of wine that turn to vinegar or a super awesome idea for a beer that ends up totally bombing. In one sense, those mistakes will feel like money wasted; but in another sense, it's all part of the process. 

But my need for perfection and fear of failure are really a subject for another post. And another day's lesson in patience. Now how's about some cherries?

Eight pounds of sour cherries. Word.


  1. And remember, having wine turn to vinegar is not a waste! Yummy wine vinegar to bottle up, slap a pretty label on and give as holiday gifts.

  2. i feel ya on the inner budget crisis girl within! i cannot and will not buy a carton of figs without adding 3 or 4 extra to my basket, to get my 'money's worth' and debate about them all season b/c they're so bloody expensive. sometimes, life, it costs $!! xo

  3. @Dana - good point! And good thing I have friends who will like tasty vinegar as much as wine! (...right?!)

    @Leela - I wish you were coming to visit! Our tree is starting to drop figs like crazy and I could use a helping hand to use them up.