Food tears.

June 21, 2012

For all the confidence and bravado of doing everyday business in the world, I am still a little girl easily frightened by the slightest hint of rejection.

I’m writing a book and at present, having a silent meltdown about my ability to finish, my place in the world and as fate would have it, acceptance.

Writing a book means others must read, comment, edit, suggest, and maybe disagree with my point of view.  This is the hardest part of the process. I’m open. Vulnerable. Old ghosts make appearances and I’m ready for a good cry.

I do not dabble in food policy, nutrition politics or the origins of beef jerky.  I cook. I write. I try to inspire others. Sometimes, I examine the navel.

I never considered myself an intellectual.  I’ve never had the patience to take the deep dive necessary to be an expert in scholarly pursuits.  I commend those that do (have the patience) for without them we would all be quite uncivilized.  But I am uncomfortable around many learned people.  Even though my experience and education would suggest otherwise, I have the feeling that I am never enough. The feeling that I am vastly unworthy.

I’m making some observations about myself.  They are shared below.  If vulnerability is part of this writing process, then I will confront it head on and beat the emotional demons to the punch.

So here it is. (yeah, grammar) The sum of my parts and a confession of my human nature.

  1. There are things I don’t know.  Many things.  When I don’t know, I’d like to think it was okay to simply ask, but sometimes embarrassment rules.
  2. I start books, and (gasp) never finish.  I’d rather read Jane Austin than Steinbeck and when I finished Anna Karenina (for the second time), I immediately read all four Twilight books in one week. Drama is drama.
  3. I fail. Often.
  4. I speak fluent French, conversational Spanish and understand Italian. Maybe I just understand Italians.
  5. I have no idea where Vermont rests on a map. I sure do like the syrup.
  6. I know the Christian commandments but not all the articles of the Constitution. I do know not to bear arms with my neighbor’s wife.
  7. Documentaries make me nervous.
  8. History makes me feel stupid. (no one can make you feel stupid but history is not a person)
  9. I’m an excellent mom, but not always. I need to turn off the computer more often.
  10. I’m scared of the woods.  Not the animals, the people. Okay maybe the animals, too.
  11. Wearing a bathing suit makes me feel ugly. Anyone?
  12. I’m an over protective mother and friend and wife. I care about my peeps.
  13. I go to great lengths to be the smartest person in the room.  Leaving the house makes this difficult.
  14. Drinking an adequate amount of water is not my strong suit. I have no problem with coffee or wine.
  15. My temperament softened when my mother passed away. I miss her more than I’d miss air.
  16. Idioms are all Greek to me.
  17. When I play scrabble against the computer, I ask for help. Against humans, never.
  18. I hold grudges for far too long and for silly reasons.
  19. Inane is part of my vocabulary. Hopefully not permanently.
  20. I honestly believe that I am a good person but I tell myself it doesn’t mean much. And the cycle repeats itself…

My mother was the smartest person I know.  (books and street inclusive) She never graduated from college. Children happened. I always imagined she was an unrealized PhD who had slipped into another version of herself.  I sometimes wonder if she had these moments of inadequacy and felt like crying alone in her room.

I WILL finish this book.

Dried tears are the soldiers of the determined.

And maybe once it goes to press and I am sharing a good meal with family and friends,  I will feel worthy of the love and acceptance I crave.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Geez Louise! June 21, 2012 at 7:51 PM

love you, support you, am you… but I don’t know what inane means. hold on this is going to be a wild ride friend ~ I can feel it!

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Mandi June 21, 2012 at 7:57 PM

You know how I feel, and how much I support you and even admire you. We all feel inadequate, but it’s the ones who show that vulnerability to others that will succeed. I often doubt my ability to “do it all”, and I too will sit down and have a good cry over it. I believe in you. Exposing yourself like this is good, it shows youre human.

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tracy June 21, 2012 at 8:02 PM

I relate to 1,2,3,5,8,11, 12, 14 & 16. This is why were fast friends.
Sending you good writing juju. You an an incredible person and this post just proves that you’re an incredible writer. Finish your book so we can celebrate!

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Sira June 21, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Love……..You are amazing. Xo
Can’t wait for your masterpiece.

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Kristina Vanni June 21, 2012 at 8:16 PM

You can do it! And if you ever need an afternoon of champagne and chatting, I am right around the corner :)

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Melissa June 22, 2012 at 8:42 AM

I’m always in need of champagne.

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doug June 21, 2012 at 10:58 PM

you are a quiet whirlwind…affecting all who know you. Your mother was and is very proud. I am always in awe…

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Melissa June 22, 2012 at 8:41 AM

come visit, uncle. I will feed you.

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Chef Debbi June 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM

I met you twice before you actually recognized me as me. Your confidence and demeanor were an inspiration to me and I felt like a 6 year old girl, quietly afraid to speak to you because of your stature. It’s kind of funny that underneath we all are so alike and I like and admire you so much for who you are and what you are doing. When I wrote my book, which was my heart and soul at the time, it was so incredibly hard to offer it up because I was exposing myself, something of which I am not very comfortable. You are such an inspiration to so many people, least of all I am sure are your children. One step in front of the other and you arrive and then you move on to conquer another dream, and I have no doubt that you will conquer many. I am so grateful to know you, thank you for you.

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Melissa June 22, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Thank you Debbi. It feels right that we connected beyond my first tin of Deb’s poultry rub. Luckily, we can continue the friendship.

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DawnV June 22, 2012 at 6:37 AM

Beautifully written, Melissa. I hope you continue to keep the emotional demons at bay because you are giving such huge gifts to the world and you deserve every good thing that is coming your way! The little 6 year-old inside should stand tall and proud! Looking forward to celebrating your book!! xo

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LiztheChef June 22, 2012 at 7:14 AM

Quite simply, it has been that kind of week for me as well. Really questioning the whole notion of a second career – why don’t I just age gracefully like the rest of my non-food-writing friends?

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Melissa June 22, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Liz,
Isn’t aging gracefully doing what you love even when it’s difficult?
You have something to contribute. don’t stop.

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Auntie M June 22, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Melissa, You will always be that 6 year old child baking butter cookies with me in my kitchen in Minneapolis. You were relentless baking back then as you are now. I wanted to stop baking so I told you I was out of butter. You reached in your pocket and said you had $2.00 to buy more butter so that we could continue to bake more cookies. Take that little girl with you on this journey-you need her. Love You Much. Auntie M

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Melissa June 22, 2012 at 8:25 PM

my first business lesson. never take no for an answer.
love you auntie.

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Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator June 22, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Love this. It reminds me of one of my favorite cartoons, which I think might have been from The New Yorker. A painter stands in his garret studio, facing a huge white canvas, paralyzed. The caption? “And it was to become his most important work.” You WILL finish and you WILL be proud of it and it won’t be perfect and we’ll love you anyway.

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Andrew June 22, 2012 at 8:18 PM

You’re going to finish the book. It’s going to be fabulous.

And you had damn well better sign my copy. On a page. somewhere in the middle, that’s really important to you.

xo!

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Melissa June 22, 2012 at 8:24 PM

how about the resource page? I mean you are ON it…

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The Healthy Apple June 25, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Love you so much. I admire everything you do and I’m your biggest fan. Keep up the amazing work.
I love you, darling!
xoox

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Laura Fuentes @SuperGlueMom July 4, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Oh man. I can relate to many of your discoveries. Your determination and courage in business is admirable and I am honored to say that I look up to you. I thank you for your help in those beginning months of launching my business… it meant the world to me.

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Melissa October 2, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Your star is rising. Look forward to following it…

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Kim K July 4, 2012 at 8:33 PM

You climbed inside my head and have written what I think. Can’t wait to read your book:)

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Nichole October 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Melissa…
I loved this piece when I heard it and reading it here, I love it just as much.
I could hear your lovely voice as I read it through.
xoxo

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Melissa October 2, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Thank you. I’m inspired by your journey and am honored we can connect through words.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 2, 2012 at 1:35 PM

These are all the same fears I have about writing a book. I am not an expert, nor do I have the patience (or maybe the brain power) to become one. I have strong opinions about the topics I know the most about, but so do other people within my field.

I am at the front-end of my book and find myself staring into my own cavern of self-doubt and fear. Thank you for helping me not to feel so alone in the process. It smart (yes, I think you are smart) and talented ladies like yourself feel this way then maybe there is hope for me after all.

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Melissa October 2, 2012 at 1:49 PM

You already have the most important element of writing any book. A voice. Believe in it.

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Jane Gassner (@MidLifeBloggers) October 2, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Wow….oh, wow. And wow again.

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Melissa October 2, 2012 at 4:18 PM

That’s a lot of wow! Thank you for hearing me.

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Carmen Mackey December 9, 2013 at 1:41 PM

I gravitate to “keep it real people” . Inspiring!

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Erin April 15, 2014 at 10:57 AM

If the writing in the above post is any indication of the quality of the book, you have nothing to worry about, you write fabulously…it drew me right in and left me longing for more. Looking forward to more!

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