S(mothering) Friend

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My friend L recently asserted, “don’t fucking try to mom me!” I don’t know why I “take care” of my friends the way I do. If maternal instinct is a real thing, I have it. I’m super at herding and hosting but sometimes I go too far.

OK: “Hey M, you have a pizza crumb on your face.”
Too far? Wiping said crumb off M’s face.

OK: “Are you sure you’re OK to drive D?”
Too far? Insisting that D texts me when she’s home safe.

OK: Grabbing a plate for R.
Too far? “Can I serve you some pizza R?”

OK: Forcing very drunk J to get into an Uber instead of his car.
Too far? “You can crash on my couch, J who I barely know.”

OK: Introducing two single friends at a party.
Too far? “D, why haven’t you called X yet? Give him a chance!”

OK: Buying a drink for a friend.
Too far? Feeling guilty that I’m not buying more for a friend who makes less than I do.

OK: I’ll bake cupcakes for your boyfriend’s birthday.
Too far? Baking cupcakes 6 times in two months.

Last night while watching the Warriors lose, I sat next to a smart and sensitive dude who noticed me mothering right away. He asked, “why do you do that?” and proceeded to annoyingly point out each instance. I want everyone to be happy, especially at a gathering I organized. Dude suggested “hosting” Warriors watching didn’t exactly make sense. He’s correct. I’m in danger of my friends thinking I’m a, “stupid cunt.”

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S(mothering) Friend

Guadalajara Restaurant Is Good, Silly Yelp

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My friend A’s birthday was on Cinco de Mayo but we celebrated with Mexican food in Oakland’s Fruitvale on Mother’s Day. Fruitvale is fun and close to BART. Fruitvale has Half Orange, a beer garden there where you can get local craft beers like East Coast IPA on draft for $3.65 on Mondays.

I chose Guadalajara Restaurant because Obelisco is closed on Sundays. We were skeptical at first when are cheap as fuck pitcher of margaritas showed up with oranges in it but they were delicious. A who doesn’t even like margaritas liked them. The menu is huge and as far as I know, everyone in our party enjoyed there meal and didn’t get sick afterward. I was eyeing the big crispy whole fish at the next table.

We got a big round table just before the Mother’s Day rush (there was a line out the door). Service was great and there was no issue splitting the bill onto multiple cards. They even helped us light the candles on A’s birthday cupcakes.

I’d go again.

Guadalajara Restaurant Is Good, Silly Yelp

Nutella Cupcakes

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My Nutella cupcakes are way tastier than Krispy Kreme’s new Nutella donut, not that I’ve visited the Krispy Kreme Nutella donut ATM in London in the last two days. My friends H’s boyfriend is turning 40 and for some reason I’m making cupcakes for friends’ boyfriends’ birthdays now.

The cake is chocolate. I used a box of Duncan Hines’ Devil’s Food cake mix, a small box of instant chocolate pudding mix, 1/3 of a cup oil, a cup of whipping cream (makes them extra fluffy), 4 eggs, and a generous tablespoon of vanilla. I filled the shiny gold cupcake papers using a spring action ice cream scoop so they were mostly the same size and yielded almost 3 dozen little yummies. It’s my friend A’s birthday party on Sunday and she asked for little fanfare. Leftover Nutella cupcakes and kisses for her it is.

The frosting is buttercream, which includes a large sack of powdered sugar, a stick of butter, a stick of butter flavored Crisco, 1/3 of a cup of whipping cream, and another generous tablespoon of vanilla. I spooned about half a small jar of Nutella to beat with the butter and butter like substance as a first step.

I bought a new frosting tip at Spun Sugar to replace the one that went missing last week because I prefer not to use the star tip. The star tip doesn’t look as professional. I used some milk and white chocolate flake things also from Spun Sugar to decorate.

I don’t like Nutella but I was squirting this frosting directly into my mouth from the pastry bag (after I’d already frosted all the cupcakes of course) because I’m a piggy.

Nutella Cupcakes

Purple Rain Cupcakes

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Free Purple Rain cupcakes to the first 24 Prince party goers tomorrow night

Tomorrow night is the What’s in Prince’s Fridge Memorial Dance Party (wear high heels so you can feel his pain and my pain). I made Purple Rain cupcakes for the occasion.

The Purple Rain cupcakes are simple but delicious. For the chocolate cake I used a box of Duncan Hines’ Devil’s Food cake mix, a small box of instant pudding mix, 1/3 of a cup oil, a cup of whipping cream, 4 eggs, and a generous tablespoon of vanilla. The frosting is buttercream, which includes a large sack of powdered sugar, a stick of butter, a stick of butter flavored Crisco, 1/3 of a cup of whipping cream, and another generous tablespoon of vanilla.

I went to Spun Sugar and got the shiny purple cupcake papers, purple food coloring (there were at least 5 purple choices and I don’t remember which one I chose. I don’t think it matters), and the purple sprinkles. There was much hemming and hawing over what to decorate with.

There were just a few issues. My friend and co party planner D brought champagne with her and I drank a lot of it. I’m pretty sure this enhanced my baking abilities, but I never tried one. My Williams-Sonoma frosting tip was nowhere to be found. I think my friend S might have hid it so as to avoid me leaving sticky spots all over his kitchen. I had to use the star tip. The sprinkles did not want to stick to the frosting. I should have picked lighter ones I think. Sprinkling was D’s job. She made an admirable effort.

Other delicious cupcake/cake ideas:

chocolate cake and Southern Comfort butter cream topped with chocolate and salty caramel corn
chocolate Whiskey Mac cupcakes
Chocolate cupcake with salted caramel filling and vanilla bourbon buttercream
snicker doodle cupcakes
tequila lime birthday cake

Purple Rain Cupcakes

Snicker Doodle Cupcakes

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I am the program manager for Tech Futures Group. Today is our quarterly team meeting. Our advisors come to WeWork Berkeley from as far away as Santa Cruz. I baked cupcakes last night for the meeting as well as for my blog party tonight.

My coworker E asked for snicker doodle cupcakes. I baked snicker doodle cupcakes. My go to cake recipe is a box of cake mix (in this case Duncan Hines white), 4 eggs, a box of pudding mix (in this case vanilla), 1/3 cup oil, and a splash of vanilla (I don’t think it’s possible to use too much). This time I used a cup of heavy whipping cream in place of water.

When filling the super cute orange with white dots cupcake papers, I alternated a layer of batter with a layer of cinnamon sugar (2 tablespoons of cinnamon mixed with a half a cup of sugar). While the cupcakes were in the oven for about 20 minutes, I made the buttercream frosting (the big bag of powdered sugar, one stick of butter, one stick of butter flavored Crisco, 1/3 of a cup of heavy whipping cream, and the other half of a small bottle of vanilla extract).

I used a pastry bag and my handy frosting tip from Williams-Sonoma to give the cupcakes a professional look. After sprinkling on some more cinnamon sugar, I topped them off with little chocolates (not too sweet) that my boss brought back from his European vacation.

The cupcakes came out delicious, not too cinnamony, they taste exactly like snicker doodle cookies. Lucky Tech Futures Group team. My friend P says, “They’re f-ing great!”

Snicker Doodle Cupcakes

The Good Part

Another fucking fantastic guest post from my friend Melissa. #wisdomwednesday

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I am your classic high-strung overthinker. I have dutifully kept a planner circa sixth grade, routinely set dozens of Google Calendar reminders and often find myself lying awake at 2:00 a.m., leaping out of bed periodically to jot down the action items ricocheting through my head in said planner. As my fellow worriers will attest (shoutout to Sarah and DC!), anxiety thrives on unpredictability – nothing feels worse than sitting still and not knowing what will come next.

That dread guided the better part of my young adult life. I earned exceptional grades and attended a prestigious university. My first boyfriend had a cushy accounting job. After graduating, I worked at a research lab, with plans to apply to med school in a few years. Then my boyfriend and I would marry and baby makes three by the time I hit 30, that magical age when all the pieces would fall perfectly into place, and life would really begin.

And then, my painstakingly conceived 10-year-plan began to show cracks.

Biology fascinated me, but I had always known I was a writer, and so did my English teachers and professors, who found my chosen pre-med path frustrating and bewildering. On Saturday nights, my boyfriend cloistered himself with Fallout 3 as I cajoled him to at least grab dinner. He moped when, listless, I made plans with family and friends. We isolated ourselves, two planets orbiting each other.

Slowly but surely, things began to give. I could no longer ignore that quickening in my chest, urging me to write. I quit my lab job and headed to journalism school. That summer, I uprooted myself from the Bay Area to take an internship in L.A. – boyfriend in tow – that unapologetically glamorous yet gritty place where I knew no one, what I imagined would be the perfect antidote to my restlessness.

Meanwhile, one by one our mutual friends got engaged, stemming from what, to me, felt uncomfortably like a business transaction – as if it would be a waste not to sign on the dotted line after investing so much in each other. They predicted we would be next to walk down the aisle.

But after nearly seven years together, I couldn’t. He was my best friend, but I wanted more — someone who would gaze at all of me, gentle curves and harsh edges, and not recoil, who took a genuine interest in what I read and wrote, and understood my self-doubt. We were scared. We couldn’t imagine a life without each other. I broke his heart, and my own. As I watched him speed off through the 2nd Street Tunnel, I felt like I had just wrested the earth from beneath my feet.

I moved back in with my parents up north. Breakup brain hit hard. Hundreds of miles from L.A., where the last threads had unraveled, I felt fine, which I thought must have meant I was. In true Type A fashion, I wanted to breeze through the grieving process, cross “break up” off the list and move on. I wanted to date again, dammit.

So I hopped on Tinder, of course. One of my first matches was a chef who dug my pixie cut. My anxiety cresting after a series of back-and-forths about his favorite restaurant in Oakland, no date plans in sight, I finally messaged him: “So… when are we gonna check out this place?”

That first exchange pretty much encapsulated our relationship. I constantly initiated dates, grasping for something that always felt just out of reach. Six months in, I dropped the dreaded “What are we?” question. He didn’t want to label us. Maybe I was too anxious? Too controlling?

Toward the one-year mark, he began standing me up and evaded requests to Talk. I wasn’t insane after all. He was pulling the classic fadeaway, a prelude to ghosting. After a year of dating. What in the actual fuck? I resorted to a text breakup, tired and out of fucks to give.

In hindsight, chef reminded me of my ex (albeit douchier) — an avid sports fan, a foodie, funny. And like with my ex, I didn’t feel seen. A few weeks before chef’s disappearing act, I confessed that I still felt like I didn’t really know him. “Is there anything you want to know about me?” I ventured. He responded that he “wasn’t concerned” about my past. As long as nothing incriminating lurked beneath, he couldn’t care less about peeling back the surface.

But I had been guilty of the same. My ex called me his girlfriend weeks after we had met, and I obliged, relieved to tie any remaining loose ends. All I knew about him was that he worked in accounting, and sang and played guitar. Terrified of the emptiness he had left behind, I fled to what felt familiar. I wanted to call a blasé chef I barely knew my boyfriend.

Things started to give again. Ready to embark on the freelance career I had always dreamed about, I pulled the trigger and left my staff writing job. I moved out of my parents’ and rented a room in Oakland, forcing myself to make a living freelancing full-time.

Meanwhile, I had begun seeing a therapist, practicing yoga and meditation, reading Rumi and Thich Nhat Hanh – all those mindfulness practices I had once pooh-poohed as New Age-y bullshit. But I didn’t want live out of anxiety anymore. Mindfulness helps me quell my racing thoughts, to pause and sit with my negative emotions instead of fleeing from them. It reminds me that the past and future exist only in my imagination, and to savor the present, the only thing that exists in reality. (They call mindfulness a “practice” for a reason – that shit’s hard!)

Mindfulness also taught me self-care, the idea that I’m worth taking the time to care for. Hanh talks about cradling your wounded inner child, which I had written off, again, as clichéd. Until I remembered my own 10-year-old self, owl-eyed and ungainly, anxious for approval — and broke down sobbing. I remembered everyone who had ever made me feel like shit (strangers, friends, guys, chef) and told myself I could never, ever let anyone treat me like that again.

Around the same time, I discovered my neurotic woman crush in Heather Havrilesky, a.k.a. advice columnist Ask Polly. In one of my favorite responses, she advises a successful 33-year-old woman who thinks that if she only works hard enough, she can lock down a relationship. Havrilesky tells her not to let singlehood undermine the happiness she’s already built. “Don’t speed through these days to get to the good part,” she writes. “This IS the good part. Savor it.”

As someone who’s always viewed life as a series of milestones toward the good part, I need to constantly remind myself to make now the good part. What can I do now so that I don’t feel as if the earth has crumbled beneath me if some other guy drives away? So far, I’ve formed friendships with women I admire, with one even blooming into a kickass creative partnership. (Hayy, DC!) And thankfully, I’m a bit of a workaholic — I relish in the exhaustion of a hard day’s work, which these days consists of building my freelance business

At a freelance retreat a week before I moved, we talked about embracing the process, because in the end, the process is all there is. The good part is illusory; even Pulitzer Prize winners need to return to the dreaded blank Word doc day after day. It’s helped me stop comparing myself to others who are further in their careers, and to savor the start. Even my dingy room in the too-cold house, with the mattress on the floor and my cluttered writing desk, which is actually just a plastic foldout buffet table from Wal-Mart. Even as I brew coffee at 6:30 a.m. to the sound of my neighbors screaming at each other, on a trash-strewn street that reeks of kush and dog shit. Even as I eat canned tuna and rice every night, agonizing over whether a check will arrive in time for rent and wondering if I’ve just made a terrible mistake. But as my therapist pointed out, “It’s actually kind of romantic, isn’t it?” Whatever happens, I’ll look back and feel proud that I found happiness in the face of my anxiety. Besides, I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is the truth now, and it’s all I have.

Also, I’ve recently started dating someone. But this time, I’m trying to savor the process of getting to know him, of letting him unfurl – slowly, patiently — rather than treating it as a way station to the good part. And I really like what I see so far.

In fact, life in general is more romantic than it’s ever been. Last month, DC and I organized a five-mile run and chug for my 29th birthday. We ran through Berkeley’s near pitch-dark residential streets, giddy from liquor and the heady scent of flowers, and arrived at Jupiter’s, breathless yet exhilarated. We stuffed our faces with Oban-laced cupcakes, and the entire courtyard broke into “Happy Birthday.” This is the good part, and it’s terrible and beautiful, and I intend to savor it, every last minute.

The Good Part