Interview by author M. L. Doyle

I was honored that author M. L. Doyle chose to interview me for her blog. Her questions were interesting and really served to enhance the article.



O is for Overwhelmed

I’m sitting amidst years and years of a combination of memorabilia and junk thrown from the two drawers of my bedside table. I’m beginning to get one of my optical migraines, as my ophthalmologist calls them, where a kaleidoscope fans its way across my vision. I get these sporadically when I am stressed.

Today, I am stressed. Yes, I’ve thrown everything out of these drawers because I’m looking for a book: a large print paperback book of “Billy Budd” by Herman Melville. At least I think it was “Billy Budd.” I’ve already frantically searched the book shelves in the office, some two and three deep with books, all the while loudly vocalizing my frustration. I’m trying to find this book, that I know I have, to check the size of the print since I’m going to have my book published in large print.

I should be writing today instead of searching for this book. I should be preparing for an event tonight where I’ll be promoting my book.

So now I find myself on the floor surrounded by years of stuff: several issues of “Byline” magazine from 1995, four or five blank writer’s journals, a bag of about a dozen imprinted yarmulkes from my son’s Bar Mitzvah (Matt is 37 now); the sorority composite photos from my freshman and sophomore years in Delta Phi Epsilon at the University of Maryland; several bookmarks, pens, pencils and assorted paper; a spool of white thread and a spool of black thread with a needle stuck into each; an in-depth Horoscope that my friend Alma did for a writer’s retreat—evidently, my sun is in Cancer and my moon is in Libra; three completed Acrostic puzzle books and one New York Times Acrostic puzzle book, uncompleted; brochures from past forays into Jazzercise and Curves; instructions from the Cancer society on breast self-examination; books on various types of dieting; greeting cards from my kids that I couldn’t bear to part with; etc. etc. etc.

To top it all off are three wrinkled sheets of paper from a professional organizer I once listened to at a meeting. The title: “Organizing Exercises for Your Master Bedroom.”

Hah! I straighten out my stiff joints as I rise to my feet. I take two Ibuprofen (my migraines actually have minimal pain) and lay down for a few minutes. Stan brings up a box from the basement for me to sort out some of the books on the office shelves. (Men prefer to solve problems rather than listen to them). I’ll check online to see if my book should be 16 or 18 point font. I’ll try to get some writing done this afternoon. I’ll organize the mess of stuff I’ve thrown out of my drawers.

After all, I’ve been meaning to clean out those drawers for…ever!

I love TV cooking shows.

How else could I have learned how to smash a garlic clove with the side of my Santoku knife to easily remove the skin or to whip up a fabulous stir fry or frittata in just a few minutes or to stretch my budget by preparing, for under $10, a cassoulet one would find on the menu at a French country bistro? 

All right, so my meals are not always successful. My family will attest to that. In my husband’s words, “You’re experimenting on us again.” There was that time I made something called Spaghetti Slaw—not the best dish I’ve ever made and something my kids, now grown, won’t let me live down. And I will admit that Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals actually take me 45. And that sometimes there is more food on the floor and on my clothes than in the pot. 

The greatest lesson I’ve learned from cooking shows, however, is to step out of my comfort zone. Try new spices and new techniques. If I don’t have a particular ingredient, use something else in its place. Create my own gastronomic delights.  

Something I’m trying to do in my life as well. Meet new people, try new things, put myself out there, take opportunities, take a chance. But most of all, enjoy myself and all the tastes and smells and sounds in the world. 

And to think—I discovered all of this on cooking shows.