For the longest time, people kept telling me that I needed a hobby and I figured, what better pastime could there be than reading and writing? Unlike skiing or photography, reading and writing are essentially free. Unlike running, reading is easy on your joints. It doesn’t burn as many calories, but that’s OK, I figured, because you don’t have to change into running pants and a sports bra to read or write. You can just do it in your street clothes. You can do it anywhere and you don’t usually get sweaty.
There is a certain amount of risk in writing. People get upset if you are too honest. They will warn your family members that you might need medicine. You can try to be funny, but not everyone will get your dark sense of humor. Because sometimes there’s a fine line between sad and funny. Sometimes you can laugh or cry. Or you can pretend to laugh, but people read the cry between the lines.
But the biggest risk, by far, is exposing yourself as less than brilliant. As the famous quote goes, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.” Kind of like the time I wrote “gorilla warfare” and it ran in the newspaper. Why am I bringing that up?
But I started thinking, if your hobby is inextricably tied to your work, can it really provide the escape that a hobby should? Probably not, because you can’t always accept failure. Sometimes you’ve got to really produce something palatable just to get paid. So you can’t just be creative and laugh it off when you create something that sucks. No, when you write something that truly sucks or is so scandalous or hurtful that it would destroy your life if anyone read it, you’ve got to tear it up and throw it away.
So I decided that my hobby is actually baking. I am terrible at it and that is OK. I always eat my epic fails and they are almost all epic fails.
Much like I don’t write poetry in iambic pentameter, I rarely follow a recipe when I am baking. Instead I substitute coconut oil for butter, peanut butter for an egg. I don’t know why I don’t follow recipes. I think it has less to do with being creative and more to do with being lazy. I don’t have A so I use B. Also, my kids are allergic to a lot of the ingredients in recipes, so I experiment with others. And it usually doesn’t turn out as well.
But I am just one hell of a dedicated cookie lover. I almost never meet a cookie I don’t like. I like burned cookies and I will eat them. It used to be that my favorite food was cake, but I think I am switching it to cookies.
Last week I made chocolate chip cookies and substituted coconut oil for butter. It said on the jar that you could do that. Well, what I got were oily cookie crisps and I ate most of them. I don’t care how healthy they say coconut oil is; I ate so much I almost made myself sick last week.
Today I made crockpot brownies for the first time. Why would anyone want to make brownies in a crockpot? And why would you substitute applesauce and maple syrup for the egg? And if you did this, would you expect to eat your brownies with a fork or a spoon? The answer, my friends, is a spoon.
I have considered doing a project in which I attempt recipes off the sides of boxes and then write about it. Like I’d try to make cake pops using the recipe on the side of a cake mix and then I could describe my epic failure in writing. Because you’re going to fail when you are an amateur like me. But even committing to such an experiment is too much commitment.
No, this is not work. This is a hobby. I will do it when I want to and to whatever extent I want. There are no deadlines, only half-baked rewards. Pun intended. I eat my epic fails and, in doing so, I destroy the evidence.