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Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Work

January 25, 2010

To break a habit, something needs to replace the thing you’re giving up, otherwise it’s like you’re holding a spot for the bad thing to slip back into, like it just stepped out for a second and didn’t mean to be gone so long.

Last year, I kicked out the bad to make room for the good. For so long I’d considered a long list of bullshit acceptable, after breaking with the bad, I wasn’t sure what to install in its place. And so, I saved a spot for “good” to settle in due course, risking a return of the bullshit to fill the vacancy. First, I added a roadtrip, then a kitten, then a new pair of boots. A writing project, and a ramped-up interest in perfecting my recipe for salted chocolate fudge. Months passed without a relapse; close examination revealed no signs of bullshit in my life, but I didn’t quite feel like “good” had flooded the void.

I set my purse on the adjacent chair, shorthand for I’m waiting for someone, the polite way to mark “good’s” territory and ensure no one else sat next to me in the meantime. A lady can only be so patient, though, and by this point it was nearly November. I glanced at my purse then at the door, fidgeted, smoothed my skirt over my thighs. Grew a bit sweaty under my arms. Considered the possibility that “good” was standing me up, that perhaps “good” was a total asshole, not even calling to cancel, no sheepish apology when it blew in months behind schedule, no falling all over itself to explain how its mother had arrived suddenly from out of town resulting in this unfortunate delay. Luckily, I keep a book in my purse, a front to hide behind, a nearly flawless disguise: “I got here early on purpose, so I’d have time to finish this chapter before ‘good’ joins me.”

After the roadtrip, the kitten, the cowboy boots and the essay, after I invented the perfect fudge and a few other sweet things, too, I began hatching larger, longer-term plans. These plans weren’t quite the same as “good”, but they were getting there. Then, because bad habits are indeed hard to break, I began dismantling my brand-new good idea. Pastry school, some travel, a bakery and a sweet partner, too? What if school stinks, the programme is too pricey for what it provides? What if it costs a fortune and comes with barely modest return? What if the other students are like the crop of books thriving lately–those whiny fucking memoirs about how the moment you leap, your new life will appear to break your fall? The ones that document a year in the life of a well-heeled young lady who had such a hard Monday that one time that teacher-chef yelled and was sooo mean and all just because she made an inadequate soufflée?

I confessed these reservations (and a hundred more) to a friend, who in turn talked me down. Perhaps, she suggested, I was right. Perhaps all the other students would be insufficiently dedicated, too whiny, too lame. Perhaps I’d continue to go it alone, do everything myself, with no belly at my side to share the things I learn to make. Perhaps I’d be frustrated by the school environment after so many years away, and have a tough time finding my place (perhaps, never finding it at all). Perhaps perhaps perhaps. “What then?” I asked my friend, who counseled me as follows:

“Just concentrate on the softness of your own butter.”

Indeed.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jason permalink
    January 25, 2010 8:06 pm

    This, is truely perfect. But watch you purse while you are reading! You never know what bad is lurking out there.

    J.

    • welltailored permalink*
      January 25, 2010 9:05 pm

      Good advice–pickpockets, bum-pinchers and dickweeds can all sneak up when a lady least expects it!

  2. January 26, 2010 1:31 am

    Does this mean what I think it does?

    • welltailored permalink*
      January 26, 2010 8:02 am

      I dunno, Miss Carrie…that all depends what you think it means!

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