No scent is more indicative of childhood than that. The soft aroma of chocolate. The engaging scent of baking dough. Nothing is sweeter even despite the most bitter of childhoods.
It was after a week-long cookie craving that I finally got the courage up to ask my aunt if I could make them. After the brownie fiasco, she was weary. But when I divulged that this would be the time-honored traditional recipe she seemed more than happy to let me. But this was no ordinary cookie recipe. This was the traditional cookie recipe of the family.
Now, a little history needs to be known so the importance of this moment can be appreciated. My aunt Joyce has made the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever known since I was a little kid. These cookies have been the staple of every elementary school event, every class party, and each parent-teacher night. Kids clamored for “Joyce’s Cookies”. These cookies graced each holiday desert buffet and any other special event in the family. She never made them just because; it was always for something which made them all the more special. They were the most seductively elusive part of my youth.
These were cookies made with the family. My cousins and I fighting over which beater we could each, how much dough we would have to consume before we died of salmonella, why my cookie got my chips than the others. So in taking on this task on my own, it was cathartic. I got to relive a part of my childhood that at times feels so lost in days of writing and hazes of GPA panic attacks and working towards each deadline. Even in this lazy summer I find myself lost in a sea of my own worries instead of that child-like obsession with that summer bliss. These cookies have brought me closer to myself.
Now, the recipe is simple. It’s a packaged recipe millions pass by in the grocery stores daily. It could be found anywhere. By no means, is this some old recipe that my great-great grandma brought over from the old world during the slave times. But the way my aunt made them, adding a pinch of this, a little extra of that and less of this always made each batch wonderfully simple and simply wonderful.
I have tried a few times before to make them myself, resulting in varying disasters such as the butter-chip cookie and the anthropomorphic cookie blob. But today was different. Today, I not only made cookies but I remade a part of my life that was so simple and wonderful. Today, I passed the gauntlet and finished the recipe and made them perfectly.
I reached nostalgic bliss. Writing this article while enjoying a hot cookie and a nice cup of milk on a saucer very similar to one I would have used as a kid. So I think today we should all make cookies. To hell with cakes and pies just for a day, and let’s all sit down together with a plate of cookies and a gallon of milk. Let’s just go back to that innocent place where food was food and cookies were happiness.
I find myself a studier of monsters on the weekend and one that captivates me still is the Jesery Devil, a horrible beast known for its brutality and evil nature. But if it is some kind of animal and not just beast, does it demand respect? Should we treat it like a bear or moose and just give it space? Or should we do our best to destroy it since it could be a threat to us? Who are we to decide that monsters have no rights? And since we are all supposed to be one with nature, isn’t there then a little Jersey Devil in all of us?
Yalping is not an appropriate way to express oneself in modern society. I find myself bitter that I don’t like Walt Whitman more. I feel like every writer should but there’s something in his work I cannot get over. This along with the transparent eyeball just leave me a very confused transcendalist on the fence. Not so jaded as to completely abandon ship but too callous to just yalp my problems away.
I found myself with a strange and almost uncanny addiction to Farmville. A game online where one can experience all the fun of farming with none of the work. As we see society shift finally from traditional to modern and even the average farm being more technologically advanced than every imagined I wonder what would Emerson think. Would he play Farmville? Would he be upset with me that I know nothing of what it means to really farm? To really be with nature? Or would he find my attempts at harvesting elephants and penguins at the same time? Would he approve that I have spent money to imporve my chances in the game? Feeding the economy and capitalism he wanted so badly to escape from? Or would he be content that I found a way to express myself with my purple fences and Japanese castle? I guess I’ll just have to keep asking. Maybe I’ll get my answer.
I find Poe’s work compelling. There’s something in his mastery of the human spirit and of the senses that just pulls me in. I find my journey to be more in line with his than with Emerson’s short of being found dead on the streets. I want my writing to be like that. I want to be able to capture the human spirit in such a way. Though I do find his work scary, it’s in such a beautiful way that I don’t mind the gore. It’s all honestly an art form to me.
I found myself conflicted by the slave narrative. As much as I respect that as a part of my culture and heritage there are too many issues surrounding it. Was this really written by an escaped slave? How could they write if almost none of them knew how to read? How do we know this isn’t just propaganda? Why risk capture again just to publish a novel? It’s all just too much that makes me really question the validity of a lot of it.
I love Emerson. I adore his work. I quote him often. I write his quotes on my arm like a sad school girl off dreaming of some long lost lover but my love is his ideas. Here are a few quotes I have taken from Emerson
- We are all mystics in our own way
- Grief too will make us idealists
I remember vividly “The Lorax” being the first book I checked out of the Arlington Public Library. I love that book. I loved the story. I wanted to so badly to save the world and help this little furry creature on his quest to help protect the world. But then…the hype. The hours and hours of being forced to watch the trailer of this film. How does Danny Devito end up getting this role? I know he looks like the Lorax but that’s no excuse! When it comes down to it, is commercialism how to save the world? Is brand placement and marketing and making literally millions of dollars going to bring back the delapadated forest? I encourage you all to take a peak at what it really means to save the world. Is just watching a movie enough to clear your conscience?
I found Thoreau hard to swallow. There, I said it. I have had this struggle since I first grappled with “Walden” in high school. Yes, I would love to galavant around the forest and stop paying taxes and frolic through the woods with no cares or concerns at all. But I can’t. I have bills, I have class, I have a family that needs me and one that I have to support. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Walden” I think the imagery is beautiful. I love the idea of being connected to nature and liking nature as much as Thoreau does. Here’s my major meditation: I would absolutely love to be as close to nature as Thoreau, I shall strive now to be closer to nature but not to ignore my responsibilities to society and begin eating woodland vermit and skipping through a lake.
I realized recently that I was far more deeply touched by Emerson’s life and work that expected. Similar to him, after my mother died, I promptly fled the country and returned a new woman. Transformed and entirely too happy to continue writing and making observations about life. So with that I ended up shouting to the heavens and my banter at the moon became this poem posted below.
To the Infinite Universe
Dedicated to my Mother. Who always maintained my transcendental spirit.
O, Infinite Universe
In your majesty and grandness you stand there mocking me
And yet with trembling lips
A broken heart grown cold with time
Racing thoughts of a mind forever unsettled
I will be Self Reliant
With your vastness you stand to confuse me
Cloak me in darkness
Take away all that I love
And yet I stand
My fist curled
Shaking up to heaven I raise my voice and exclaim
I will be Self Reliant
O, Nature, wondrous oneness that we are all a part of
I will stand at the end of this journey
Connected to your vastness
And be then Self Reliant