Finals and Baking Bread

It’s hard to wrap my mind around graduating in three months, it seemed like the day would never get here. But now I can’t believe it’s so near. Fortunately, or maybe not so fortunately, I have plenty to distract myself with in the meantime. Finals are in a few days, and while I only have one test this quarter, I have a beast of an AI programming project to tame, and a “I feel guilty calling this school work” paper to write. Yes, I am writing a paper on bread! and even better, I am getting credit for it in my technical writing class. On top of finals I am starting to worry about finding a job. No, I’m not really worrying, but it is still stressful. The company at which I’m currently applying has just called me back for my second technical interview, which means I am once again nervous and completely convinced that in my four years studying CS, I have learn nothing.

Anyway, in the vein of guilty pleasures passed off as school work, I watched a really lovely movie about zen and the art of cooking. It followed Edward Espe Brown, the chef responsible for the Tassajara cookbooks, as he taught a series of cooking classes. For those who are unaware, Brown is sort of  a big deal. Some might argue that the Tassajara Zen Center started much of the healthy food movement that has taken over the bay area. In the film he talks a lot about using your hands, and it got me thinking. I should spend more time really cooking.

Real cooking is hard to do in college, between a constantly changing schedule, to a kitchen that doesn’t love the food the way I love the food, it can be difficult to muster up the will to really emerse yourself in the food. There are simple pleasures you can get from properly cutting up a carrot, or caramelizing an onion. It feels good to knead bread, and know that when it is baked it will be a millions times better than whatever you buy in the store. But I suppose that is a luxury, to have that kind of time.

The point being, I think I need to spend more time doing things with my hands. Every parent-teacher-conference  I had in middle school, the report would always be “Allyson fidgets too much, make her stop”, but I don’t think it’s about stopping, I think it’s natural to want to create things with our own hands, both to have a finished product, and as a methodical meditation. But then again, I just like working with my hands.

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