Meat Market

So, when you’re single and people think you need to meet a man, for some reason they often recommend taking a cooking class.  Are cooking schools modern-day matchmakers? Or, perhaps my cooking is just so bad that my friends are jumping on any opportunity to not have to eat another lasagna dinner.

And the cooking schools people recommend are REALLY expensive! I could go to a fancy restaurant for cheaper than that and not have to do any of the work myself!

But, I would like to learn to cook better. Well, actually, I’d like to be able to have more fun cooking my dinners for one (grilled cheese again, madame?).  So, I’ve taken a couple of classes at a cheaper cooking class (thank you, night school!). They were … okay. Chefs were great; other students were mostly in couples and not really friendly. Let’s just say it was a lot like cooking for myself at home. Kinda solitary.

But last Christmas some of my friends pooled their money and gave me a gift certificate for one of those schools that everyone had been recommending to me. One of those places that I would never have spent my own money on. A place where people recommended to me that I sign up for the “single’s night” classes. Something I equate to being forced to compete in a cross between a beauty pageant and Valentine’s Day at school where you put a brown paper bag on your desk and have everyone see how popular you were.

So, yeah, I’d rather gouge my eye out with a spoon than sign up for that. Although, I suppose I might learn how to delicately sauté my eye and serve it with a side of kale chips. (side note: the “women’s” part of the singles night class was sold out for months. The “gentlemen’s” side? LOTS of space!).

But, browsing through the course list I came across a class where they butcher a hind of beef and teach you where all the different cuts of steak come from. And, then you learn to cook several dishes – including beef carpaccio and steak!  Perfect for me! I have never understood different cuts of meat or how to cook them. I have a BBQ on my patio that a friend bought and used once (they used it, not me). It has sat there for two years gradually rusting away.

I signed up, survived the epic battle with anxiety on the night of the class, and went. It was so much fun!  I met some great people (men and women), had great conversations, learned about cuts of meat, cooked three amazing dishes (yes, my sliders won third prize, thank you very much!), came home and fell into a beef coma.

Maybe you’re way ahead of me on this lesson, dear reader, but I’ll go there anyway. The difference? I went to the class for myself. Even though several friends upon hearing that I had signed up made the very helpful comment, “maybe you’ll meet a man!”

I didn’t. But, I did learn how to cook an amazing steak. And I’m pretty happy with that.

Through the looking glass

I have always loved glass art. The play of light; how it is both delicate and strong at the same time. How when you look at glass you not only see the glass itself, but also the reflection of yourself.  To me, glass seems alive. It has its own story but also tells you part of your story. There is a relationship there.

A few weeks ago, I heard about a new Glass Co-op which was offering classes. Now, I have never considered myself an artist. There was a big part of me that said, “you don’t belong in a STUDIO, you aren’t good enough for that”. And, this was one of the activities that “the ex” and I had talked about doing together.  But, in the spirit of doing the things I really want to do and not waiting  for some mythic future, I signed up.  And, showed up at the class. Two very different types of courage.

Now, three classes into the 6-week course, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s been loads of fun.  There are 5 people in the class, 4 guys and me.  And, I can’t help but think that the guys, while all really nice, seem to fit certain stereotypes (or archetypes?). There is the experienced glass worker who normally works with soft glass (we uses boro or hard glass) so he has lots of technical questions that are way above my head. There is the “engineer/scientist” guy who works with spreadsheets all day and talks about the sciency things he wants to make. He added copper to his glass one week trying to make something, despite the fact that he didn’t know what it would do and the place isn’t properly vented to burn copper. There is the older guy, a Doctor, who has his own fancy expensive special glasses and whose work is beautiful and who makes 2 pieces in the time everyone else makes one. And, there is the teenager, who doesn’t follow instructions, preferring to try to run before he has learned how to walk. He gets lots on one-on-one time fixing pieces. Which are wonderfully creative.

And, then, there is me.  So, where do I fit in this mosaic? At first, I thought I might be the “40’ish divorcee” type who is taking up hobbies with her new-found free time and finding herself. But, since I’ve never been married (or divorced), that didn’t seem to fit.  And, then the other day a friend of mine asked me “Do you always take classes? You seem to be always taking some course or another”.   That’s it! I am the woman who is always taking courses! In fact, right now I taking three different courses as well as teaching one!

I kind of like that. Because I do love learning things. And, I haven’t always felt like that was an okay or acceptable part of myself. When I was a kid, I was teased for being the “smart” kid in the class. And, I still hate to feel like I’m stupid. In fact, fear of appearing stupid can stop me from even trying things (put a quarter in the therapy jar for that piece of insight). I have also had people tell me, “you know, men find smart women intimidating”.  Luckily, I have learned that those aren’t the men I’d need to spend time with and there are lots of men who don’t feel that way.

Now,  just before I leave you with the impressions that I am some sort of mensa genius, I am not.  Last year, it took me 6 months to figure out how to get a new garage door opener that worked. And I needed help to do that! What I do think is that I love learning. And, I find ideas, and discussion, and books fascinating. I love to be intellectual stimulated.

But, this new realm of working with my hands is a place of less security (remember: 6 months, one garage remote).  And  so I am letting go of my fears of not being good. Or good enough. I am accepting that I can feel anxious without letting it stop me from showing up.  I am trying to stop comparing myself against the other people.  Accept that my pieces don’t need to be “perfect”.  Learn to not try to control the glass but rather let it shape and find it’s own expression.

That might be the most fun thing of all. That I can release the baggage around my love of learning. That I can feed this passion like the torch feeds oxygen into the flame and transforms rigid glass into swirls of light and beauty. May it do the same to me, so that my story reflects who I am.