Saturday I faced the arduous task of cleaning out my refrigerator. The May 10th tornado yanked up our power lines. No power supply for three days leads to . . . well, a smelly fridge and serendipitous science projects. Armed with trash bags and cleaner and all the fortitude I could muster at eight in the morning, I approached with care.
First, the freezer. The smell hit me first. Gag. I pushed through. It was easy. Everything had thawed. Everything had to go. Yes, even the cookie dough that I finally remembered to bring home after leaving it in the refrigerator at work for two weeks. It didn’t matter that I never made a single cookie. It thawed. Its ability to create smiles morphed into the ability to create stomach cramps. You only need food poisoning one time to forge a strong intimate relationship with your toilet. The memory of that bonding experience overpowers the memory of the flavor burst of a good cookie. I can buy more cookies. Shucks! I AM A BAKER. I can bake more. The meatless crumbles that I can rarely find . . . Sigh . . . Did I really like those? After all, they’d taken up residency in the back corner of the freezer. Tossed. I eat ground turkey most of the time anyway.
Three minutes later I stood before an empty freezer, cool air blowing in my face, mocking me. Well . . . not completely empty. Fresh ice glistened. Vodka still chilled on the door (Vodka doesn’t spoil. Thank goodness! I am a big fan of vodka sauce . . . and an occasional Cosmopolitan. J). As I stared at the white space, I had an epiphany. It was not empty. It was full of possibilities. I had the opportunity to restock my freezer. I could try items I didn’t have room for before. In short, I got a do over. And that ain’t bad.
Next, the refrigerator. This is trickier. Some things can stay. Some things must go. The obvious losses? Anything dairy. Milk (I just bought that day). The cream cheese. Sigh. Cheese. Tears. So long two pieces of strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting. Sniffle. Bye-bye eggs. But what about those condiments on the door? Surely, some of the flavor enhancers can stay. Mayonnaise? So long old friend. (I just opened the day before.) But these others . . . can’t they stay? I found the list I printed after the HORRID ice storm we had three years ago. Anything vinegar or with strong acid base can stay: pickles, barbeque sauce, mustard, salsa. Sweet sigh of relief. Five minutes later the refrigerator was de-spoiled. Fruit rested in a bowl. Butter, hiding in its happy place, hung out on the door with the saved condiments. I had another do over.
I hope you don’t believe I’m sharing this cleaning moment just for giggles. Nope. There is ALWAYS a writing analogy. This week I started draft five of Diyari, a book stocked with great things. But alas, it lacked power. I stood before the word-filled pages with the same dread and frustration I had when I stood before my refrigerator. “But I like this,” “Do I really have to throw that out?” “But . . .” Decisions had to be made. Things had to be tossed. Things had spoiled . . . or at least, with fresh eyes things looked rotten. First the smell hit me. It brought me to tears. Truly. You can ask my critique partner. Then, I grabbed my purple pen, put on my big girl panties (the ones with the quill and ink pattern) and made the first toss. Some decisions were easy. The wording just didn’t work. Shucks! I AM A WRITER. I can write more words. But what did I do with those flavor enhancers: aspects of my voice, a character trait, etc.? The things that didn’t cause stomach cramps or eye rolls stayed. Soon, I sat before a blank page. A page full of infinite possibilities. Sweet sigh of relief. I get do over. I get to try new things.
If you’re wondering, I didn’t find the meatless crumbles, nor did I buy turkey. I bought salmon. And the rewrite? I’m on chapter six. I’ll keep you up to date on my Friday Five.