Starting out with a smash

I want to explain why I have become obsessed with cooking. I began small, having once had a fear of kitchens (growing up, I knew the kitchen was where fire and food-borne illnesses came from), but within a few months' time, I knew how to make spaghetti. I was so proud of myself for thinking to brown ground beef and add it to the sauce. I then started to make my own garlic bread. I made up recipes for sauteéd green beans and roasted potatoes. I added bananas and cinnamon to buttermilk pancake batter.

I began to cook because, in that little hundred-year-old kitchen on Historic Ninth Street Hill, the man living with me said he would do the dishes. I was engaged to him. We'd set a date -- October 23, 2010.

He never did the dishes, and he left me in August. We had the great forethought to buy a house first, though, so that was wonderfully complicated. He made it simple by saddling me with the property because he just had to recapture happiness by quitting his job, selling his truck, and living with his equally-unemployed cousins out East. Seeing the impressive improvements he's made with his life as of late, I started to re-evaluate my hobbies and life path... wondering if "who I am" is really "who I want to be." Trying to see beyond what I thought my desires were. Expanding my horizons to access my complete, whole self.

No, that's not true. I haven't re-evaluated squat. He's an idiot in a quarter-life crisis, and I am growing up.

After he left, I drank for a month. I was smashed, all my picture frames were smashed, my wedding portfolio was smashed (and burned). Dreams, relationships (his friends and family), finances, my quality of life... all of it, destroyed.

I had tried to learn to cook for him. He was of Lebanese descent, so I had made hushweh, baklava, sveeha... is there a spell-checker on this? Basically, I bought a truckload of lamb. Oddly enough, he never really seemed to appreciate my cooking, and I wasn't inspired to seek out new recipes. His mother was lauded as this amaaaaaazing cook, when really she had no passion for it and her food came out too tangy; anytime he wanted me to make something, he would give me one of her recipes. That was one of the problems in the relationship -- I couldn't compete with his family. But that's for my therapist to hear about.

Inspiration hit shortly after he left. I realized that I couldn't handle the household expenses on my own, and I asked my cousin D. if he would like to be housemates with me. He accepted, and I've been cooking for him regularly for the last couple of months. We've renamed my house the Park Ave. Pub.

There are a few great things that have happened because of this:
- D. has started to look like he's lost a little weight. He doesn't have much to lose, but I think he's happy with how things have redistributed. He hates vegetables, but I've gotten him to eat them, as long as they're positioned next to a dead animal of some sort. I'll occasionally sneak them in. In last night's chicken enchiladas, I bet there was a full serving of vegetables among the chicken, sauce, and cheese.
- D.'s stomach hasn't been bothering him as much. He has acid reflux, or something like that, and I haven't seen him reach for Rolaids very often lately.
- I have something to focus on. I enjoy cooking and looking for new recipes. I volunteered to host Thanksgiving this year, and I'm really excited about that. Little by little, it's helping me forget what's-his-face.
- For the very first time, I'm getting feedback on my cooking. My cousin is a pretty picky eater, and I love that he occasionally disses my food. My ex-fiancé would eat the meal, thank me for cooking, and would mutter "yeah, it was good" when I would ask him if he liked it. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but six years of "sure, I liked it" gets really annoying.
- Because of the point above, I am now finally inspired to cook. And after trying to join in on someone else's hobbies when I didn't want him to ignore me anymore... I finally have a hobby of my own.

I'm not cooking tonight. D. and I are going down to Indy to hang out with my brother and my little niece; we'll be going on a Halloween Egg Hunt, then out for a drink (sans the little niece). Tomorrow is a special day -- October 23, 2010 -- so I'm going to play poker at the VFW for a while and then attempt meatloaf again. I got a thumbs-down from the cousin on Smokey Chipotle Meatloaf for too much spice (same thing happened last night with the enchiladas, but I have no idea where the spice came from, as I left out chili powder and green pepper).

Sunday, if I survived my former wedding day, we'll be installing a new front door. My five-foot-nothing, 62-year-old mother managed to pull the ancient, original doorknob off in her hand, and I was unable to affix a new doorknob (with locking mechanism, as that lock has been giving me trouble since I've lived there) to the oddly-cut, hollowed-out original door. The new door is eligible for the tax credit and has a neat, Craftsman-y window. It'll be cold in the house as we're installing the door, and it's football Sunday. This means I am going to have to make some chili.

The household rundown on football teams: I like the Colts (and don't like the Bears) because I'm a Hoosier, I like the Giants because Eli Manning is hot, I like the Saints because Drew Brees went to Purdue, and I don't like the Pats because I think Tom Brady's a jerk. D., who grew up in K.C. and lived in his family's (not my side) current city of Nashville for a few years, likes the Chiefs and the Titans. And we both like LaDainian Tomlinson because he's classy.

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