Pamela and Bernadette — the flour and the fiction

Dang, guys… you and your friends and your mom and your dog are all basically freaking awesome. I write some of the craziest, silliest, saddest, weirdest, yet super honest, stuff and you’re awesome about it. Every time. The more whatever-est it is, the more supportive you (and your friends and mom and dog) are and I’m so super grateful. Huge props from me… and my therapist, who agrees that the catharsis of Under the Tapestry is probably the number one factor keeping me out of the loony bin. I mean, I assume he’d agree based on his positive comments regarding the post and the response to it. However, “loony bin” isn’t a phrase he tends to use all that often (i.e. ever– professionalism or whatever). So thanks for that. I’ll let you know either way in a couple of weeks and we can all cry happy or sad tears, eat happy or sad ice cream (with lactaid), and think happy or sad thoughts together.

When I say cathartic, I mean it, and it’s amazing how fessing up to that one dark moment seems to have released so many additional words that have been queuing up for a while. (Queuing because it’s my goal in life to become British. Obviously.)

So with the exception of on-the-internet I am, in all other respects, an introvert, which means, for the most part, I don’t love social situations on account of I’m incredibly awkward. Seriously.

Except it’s a little more nuanced than that because I don’t find being overly familiar with someone whose willing to be overly familiar right back a problem. For example, I’ll probably make a lame joke if we try to talk about the weather for 10 minute at a party, but if I run into you in the bathroom and you confess that you’re suffering from diarrhea, we’re basically going to hit it off right away. Probably I’ll tell you about all the GI distress I’ve struggled with and we’ll laugh and say, “ha ha ho ho hee hee– clearly we were meant to meet like this!”

(Quick fun fact– I just got a text from a brand new, way too quickly overly familiar friend that said “Well let’s just say maybe our meeting was meant to be.” With the exception of the “ha ha ho ho hee hee” I’m basically just writing from real life, yo.)

Books are what makes my introvert heart particularly happy because when you have read the same book as someone, you automatically have an intimate connection that you don’t have with just any random person on the street– no GI involvement necessary. And I think, after much consideration, that is why I like book clubs so very, very, very much.

It’s a social situation, that’s awkward, but it’s a bunch of other people who read the same book as you which means their mind has been in that same storied place and let every one of the same words and characters and thoughts and ideas tumble around in their brain just like you did. Maybe even some different thoughts or ideas about the very same words and characters. That’s intimacy right there. It’s also something non-small to talk about. An introvert-who-paradoxically-also-craves-social-connection’s dream.

So I basically love book clubs. I love everything about them. Everything except the social anxiety inducing process of identifying potential members, inviting identified potential members, and hosting a get together with all accepting invited identified potential members.

I guess you could say that it’s getting to the point of comfort with people that we can begin to relate over books that’s the hard part.

Despite the my awkwardness and the necessity to participate in uncomfortable activities (like talking to other humans who didn’t already know about my secret nerdiness) to get to the good part, I managed to start a third book club and we met for the first time a couple weeks ago to discuss The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.

Success!

Everything about a book club is truly a celebration of the nerd-tastic to me and I spared no expense on Saturday. While reading the book on my Kindle, I highlighted any mention of the snacks and drinks served by each host. At game time, I noted the highlights, looked up recipes, and managed (with the tremendous help of my dear friend Amy) to whip up a feast fit for even the picky perfectionist Jocelyn. Granted, we’re not classy enough for the wine selections mentioned in the book… but everything else! Moscato and sweet white and sparkling pink to be served over ice (am I making your teeth hurt?) for my crew!

We had creme de menthe squares and lemon bars and molasses cookies and almond crescent cookies and cheese and crackers and venison sausage (Wisconsin, yo… and Matt got a deer!) and bottle after bottle after bottle of delicious wine.

It was a delicious menu, to be sure, but I was a bit concerned going into the event because I didn’t just want to make and serve it all… I also wanted to eat it all! So I endeavored to make as much as I could gluten-free and dairy-free. That’s where Pamela comes in…

Pamela the miracle worker.

Pamela the business-woman.

Pamela the magician and creator of the most amazing gluten-free flour I’ve ever tried:

Pamela’s All Purpose Flour – Artisan Blend

It says it can be substituted cup for cup for regular flour. Hard to believe, but in this case, finally true. The lemon bars, molasses cookies, and almond crescent cookies were all amazing… I don’t even think you’d know the difference if I didn’t tell you (although Seth swears that he can). Huge victory for me and by little buddy Noah this Christmas season– can’t wait to share all the recipes with his mom!

So Pamela was the first champ of the evening. I cannot recommend that amazing four highly enough if you struggle to bake gluten free!

And then came Bernadette. Not a flour. She’s the fiction.

At book club, people came and went… some stayed the whole time, others popped in for a bit and left early, but once everyone was all gathered around in my living room (doh! not enough comfy chairs!) we popped the movie version of the Jane Austen Book Club in and watched for our friends who hadn’t had a chance to read the whole book.

It’s the same general story, of course, by the characters in the movie were basically mutilated… especially Prudie’s poor husband Dean who really got the short end of the movie stick, I must say. But besides that, at the end of the night, as five girls remained (some of us tipsy, myself included), four of whom were introverts (Amy, let’s face it, you’re as extroverted as they come), we all decided that the best character in the movie, the one we all endeavor to be like, was Bernadette.

Granted, book Bernadette was probably a good twenty years older than movie Bernadette, but that didn’t change the fact that she was a woman who was 100% comfortable in her own skin… no matter what. And we all loved that. Who wouldn’t?

Maybe someday it will be the norm for us, that level of self-comfort. I hope so! But more importantly… it is my sincere hope that we, at the very least, become that way around one another in relatively short order. Wine will help at first, of course. Wine and gluten-free cookies. But a bunch of introverts out of their shell on account of books? Seems like a recipe for comfort to me.

Perhaps someday I’ll even write all of us into a book. A couple of teachers, an environmental policy specialist, a science writer, some doctors, a nurse, a healthcare administrator… and the recurring and fascinatingly flighty Sister Doctor. You’ll read it, right? Somebody’s going to need to start breeding dogs and dating a sci-fi enthusiast… then we’ll have it down.

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