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On Bread and Presence

I stare at my tapestry of what I suppose are pine trees. I have headphones in. My head falls back like a slinky, and seeing the inside of myself is all I owe the world.

It’s fun to be in my feelings, where I can say, “I just want to be a fairy,” and sit on the floor of my room or bake challah.

Earlier I prepared challah dough from scratch (Mushky’s recipe). Tomorrow is Shabbat. The Jewish Sabbath that spans every Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. On Friday nights I light candles, make bread and wine holy. Millions of Jews across the world do the same. It’s in the vein of this tradition I think of the dough I prepared, and how it will rise overnight, and how this is what my people do.

People make fun of baking bread. What is so funny about the gathering of simple ingredients that we’ve figured out in making something of substance? I’d prefer to know more about wheat and the ingredients I’m using than most of the other information that’s accessible to me – like Paris Hilton’s sex tape or a dude holding up a cardboard sign. Bread is important. There’s a reason we’ve been doing it since the beginning of time. What’s natural isn’t archaic.

I think about our inventions – the ideas I think separate us from our archaic selves. From fire to radio. Today, it feels like tech companies fooled us by giving us all the basics first. The alarm clock function on our phone is average, but look at this Snapchat filter that makes you look like Abraham Lincoln. We were given alarm clocks and calculators, a note pad and compass, phone calls and SMS. A timer to alert me on the status of my bread!

What is it about the smell of yeast that makes it desirable but suspicious at the same time? And is the mystery always in rising up? I question if I’m still referring to bread. Yeast is gold these days. Everyone’s baking. There’s power in making science taste like home. I say science in that baking is a precise science that relies on measurement and chemistry I don’t understand. But I understand other aspects of the bread that took experience, but not much else. Something innate in me lets me bake bread.

It’s the presence that comes with kneading dough, or putting on lotion, or doodling that keeps us on Earth. Why are we trying to go somewhere else? What happened here? Bread is groovy. So is coloring. And staring at walls. There are boundaries in these things. I’m cased in me, and the world in itself. And all of us in each other. But we all bake bread. We all need hydrated skin.

I knead in between my knuckles, hand against hand, the right amount of pressure applied. We know what we need. We know what we want in a single moment. We feel what it is to be thirsty, or have to use the restroom, or to need a piece of chocolate. That’s human. Knowing what we want in a single moment. Feeling what we need. If you’re caught up, I understand. I might be. But cracking my knuckles and neck (I know it’s not “good for me”), I go, ah, my feelings aren’t my thoughts. I’m liberated from the weight of my own concerns and gaze at the reflection of a warm light that shines back at me in the wrapper of a Hershey’s Kiss that sits on my bedside table.

I think, I’m back. My head is back again and I listen to music. It’s passing as is everything else. My room reminds me… This past Saturday was the first time I had spent time in my bed outside of sleeping, or outside of lying in bed on the bookends of falling asleep and waking up. I’ve lived in this apartment for nine months and hadn’t relaxed in my own bed. So much time was spent out and about, and if I was home, on the couch, with endless distractions available.

Now in my room I engage in a moment and its lack of vocabulary, and how what I can’t articulate in the moment is what calms me. Calm is in the swift shadow of my birdcage lamp and how little I expect of it. In the muted tan of the walls and the rigid shape of the alcove. In the tapestry and the trees and the tapping of my fingers against my keyboard. I dictate it. In the white noise and the bubble bath of vibration I swim in. I imagine the hairs in my ears that pick up vibrations (stereocilia, I Googled it) dancing some rain dance, asking for love. Pulling down the goo of the past and breaking through, sticky and mad.

Why Are Millennials Baking So Much Banana Bread?

By: Sam Walker

In this Economy?

Millennials across the country are desperately trying to avoid the quarantine 15 while still wanting to indulge in sweet treats. We kid ourselves by going grocery shopping every Sunday and procuring a week’s worth of fresh, healthy food we will transform into Instagram-worthy meals. After all, with all of this so-called free time we have been gifted by the lovely Ms. Quarantine, we have no excuse to use Uber eats as our only form of sustenance. 

As the week progresses and life gets in the way of crafting perfectly balanced smoothies, and salads the green bananas that once proudly hung atop our fruit bowl turn yellow, and we say we will eat one tomorrow. This cycle repeats while the bananas quietly turn brown, and one morning we are faced with the fact that we have done it again. We purchased too much produce. 

The days pass and the bananas continue to brown; we feel ashamed of our rotting bananas. Wasting food? In this economy? How self absorbed can we be? In a desperate attempt to check our egos, an idea strikes. Banana bread!! Banana bread is always better when made with bananas that should have been  discarded days ago. Not to mention, self proclaimed life coaches everywhere are bolstering our minds with the idea that we should be using this quarantine as an “opportunity” to pick up new hobbies. 

This is a ploy to keep the human mind distracted with mindless activities in a time where it may wander to what’s really going on here… Nonetheless, baking seems like a simple enough task, it will kill an hour or two of our day and the near instant gratification is enough to make us feel productive. The finished product is a tangible expression of the fact that we accomplished something today. We push the thought aside and add it to our to do list for tomorrow. Netflix is waiting. 

Thursday hits. I would imagine most banana bread bakers practice their craft on Thursdays.  At this point the bananas are just under 2 weeks old, and their deterioration looms on an exponential curve. Time is running out. Tensions are high at the virtual office, the confirmed cases ticker continues scrolling across the bottom of our television. Politicians flood the news with stay at home messages as the stock market continues to crash. We crave a sweet treat, but instead of being honest with ourselves when picking up groceries, we purchased produce in place of cookies. In the spirit of honoring our neglected cravings, we turn to instagram and find ourselves deep in the feed of a young mother of 2, who posts selfies with her cookies and lists recipes in the captions.  

A photo of her looking thin and happy, enjoying a slice of homemade banana bread catches our eye and we begin scanning the cupboard for chocolate chips. This is the perfect way to satisfy our craving, and it is healthy! After all bananas are a fruit. Duh. (These are the same people who eat an entire halo top in one sitting multiple nights a week but wont go to Kilwins with you because they are on a diet.)

I too have fallen victim to this phenomenon. 

The other day I baked banana oat muffins adorned with so many dark chocolate chips that they were basically cupcakes. I told myself that I was different and these were healthy muffins because I baked them with oat flour instead of white flour. (Secret time: you too can become a green goddess who only bakes with oat flour. Simply add your oats of choice into a blender or a food processor, and blend for around 15 seconds or until fine. (and there I go giving you a recipe…)) Why is white flour criminalized in our society? It is delicious and produces the fluffiest product. What I’m saying is eating 4 banana oat muffins is bound to leave you unsatisfied. And you are not saving calories. Eat cake once a week. Live a little. 

Regardless, I think the moral of the story here is two fold: 

  1. Be honest with yourself. Honor your sweet tooth at the grocery store. You know you don’t actually want bananas. And damn girl u deserve dessert every now and then! 
  2. Stop listening to people telling that every hour of your day has to be productive, you are not working from home. You are living in self isolation because of a novel and deadly pandemic, and trying to work through it. Set realistic expectations.

TL;DR: Be kind to yourself and stop using banana bread to justify your sweet tooth!! We all crave comfort sometimes. 

Human Lexi Starts Blogging

This is a blog post written and approved by Alexandra Grace Lampner, if that matters to you

Hey, Lovers,

Welcome to my blog. I’m writing from Day 33 of quarantine (shout out to Miami Beach #33, especially you, Ari). Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where somehow it’s still winter, I’ve found myself writing a lot, forgetting about the writing, and then opening my laptop to burning hot takes. Stories and thoughts are spilling out of my head like a poorly sealed bottle of ranch dressing (and jeez, the Midwest has rubbed off on me).

I’m tired of saying “during this time.” It takes us out of the present moment by positioning “this time” as somewhere other than right now. From my perspective, it’s important that we acknowledge quarantine by also staying in touch with aspects of the outside world that keep us grounded like the adorable parsnips we are.

Some mornings I wake up and say a prayer in gratitude that my soul has returned to my body after my sleep. Other mornings I’m like Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, thinking “The horror! The horror!” I’m sharing this because I imagine some of you are feeling the same, but in isolation it seems our minds play a sort of trick on us where we think we’re the first ones to ever experience a thought or feeling – and how archaic that is!

I talk to friends and family and coworkers, and people tell me “You’re really going through it,” etc. because yes, I am riding solo in this clusterfuck. And I can get caught up. What I want you to know is: we’re all going through it, and going through it differently, and feelings are relative, so even if you’re with roommates or family, remember you’re just going through the clusterfuck together.

Some topics I’ll be covering:

  • Life feels fully psychedelic now. Everything is an option
  • Screw Instagram, I need to stare at my wall for a few hours
  • My neighbor is feeding me elk (that he shot)
  • Who else feels threatened on an evolutionary level? Like, thirst traps are mating calls these days
  • People are genuinely GOOD
  • Sometimes an incoming FaceTime call feels like an alien invasion of digital space

Stay tuned and keep me accountable! Signing off this blog —

As a confirmation of my existence,

Lexi Lampner