This week, I armed myself with some amazing Japanese green teas from SONO Organic, the wonderful outlet that brought me one of my favorite teas of all time. I brought out my trusty tokoname kyusu, a thermopop to give me temperature information, and the big guns—a tetsubin from Iwate prefecture, which perfectly seasons water for tea. I sorted through the teas, thinking normal things like “whee, one of these will be so great and I'm going to love it forever!” I started with a beautiful hand-rolled sencha. I let the water boil, then poured it off to cool to the perfect temperature, then timed the brewing perfectly.
I took a sip.
There it was. That very distinctive taste that I associate with sencha. It's somewhat grassy and a tiny bit nutty and bitter. I did not like it.
This was not supposed to happen! It was supposed to be love! I was supposed to be magically transported. I drank the tea, sip by sip, not enjoying any one of the sips. As I did, I wondered… Am I the problem?
I have asked that question before on this particular journey. I asked about brewing vessel and water temperature and everything else. This time, I was asking about myself.
Is the reason I don't like this tea because I don't like sencha? Because, and this seems glaringly obvious many weeks into this experience, if I have tea and think “ugh, this tea tastes like that characteristic flavor I associate with this tea,” a reasonable observer might conclude that the reason I did not like the tea was that I did not actually like the taste of the tea.
But that's not really the end of the matter, because, there's a second question: is this an olive situation? Because once upon a time, I hated olives because they were gross and bitter but then I made myself like them by repeatedly trying them. Now I don't have any idea why I thought they were gross and bitter.
So that's where we are in the moment.
I don't like sencha. I want to convince myself to like it in the future. Gyokuro is still up for testing.
Let's see what happens!
dog owner: extreme failure edition
I'm at this point where my executive function is not great and my focus is all in one place (book) and so things slip through the cracks.
Unfortunately, a few nights ago, I gave Pele the VERY LAST of our dog food and I said to myself, “I must buy food tomorrow morning without delay!”
(Side note: Pele, by his own choice, eats two meals a day: dinner at 8:30 PM and second dinner at 9:30 PM. I do not know why he does this. We can try to feed him in the morning and he's just not into it unless he's extremely hungry. He's done this since he was a very small dog. He gets enough food and is generally healthy, so no big deal.)
In any event, on that fateful day, we were running late and things were not on schedule, so 9 PM hit and Pele hadn't had first dinner. I opened the dog food container and felt my soul leave my body as I realized that we had no dog food in the house and everywhere that sold dogfood of acceptable quality was closed.
We ended up making him a meal of rice and egg and chicken, which he ate because a dog's got to do what a dog's got to do. But as he was eating, he gave us these very sad, soulful eyes like “this is yummy, and I never object to chicken, but do I not get food anymore? What's going on?”
We fixed the problem early the next morning, and Pele got to eat an actual breakfast as soon as the pet food store opened. (He did in fact eat a rare breakfast on that day.)
This dog, sleeping on the couch, has been deeply wronged.
The people in charge of wronging him have been given a stern warning and offer their humblest apologies for their errors.
after the wedding
I never affirmatively try to put parts of myself in books, but I do find that it's inevitable that things end up there.
For me, one of the constant parts of my life, a thing that I am constantly working on tempering, is the double-edged sword of blaming myself for things. I say it's a double edged sword because on the one hand, I don't think it's useful to blame myself for things I truly can't help, or to go over past events and feel intense shame over things I can't go back and fix. On the other hand, finding a way to (lovingly) ask yourself how you can do better is important. There has to be a balance to all things.
So one of the things I really brought to this book was a journey for Camilla where years of mistreatment had made her believe that she was always the problem.
I could talk forever about the many ways that our world encourages people--especially certain kinds of people, and especially people who are outside power structures--that they are always at fault for everything that happens to them.
All I will say is that the act of placing blame, and the requirement of receiving it, is almost always inherently political.
I have been trying to manage my self-doubt and negative self talk for…a very long while. For a long time, I believed that negative self talk was necessary to actually do anything worth while. As I've aged, I've realized that this is wrong: some self-doubt is worthwhile, but some? Is not.
For me, asking whether I can push my boundaries on tea? That feels like a journey that I enjoy and respect. Making myself feel like I'm a horrible person because I forgot to get dog food? Doesn't actually serve any purpose.
There aren't always clear dividing lines, but I've tried to take a step back to ask myself when I fall into a cycle: am I building myself up or tearing myself down? Where is this journey taking me? Am I learning or am I fearing? Can I be curious and loving about failures, instead of fearful and avoidant?
Unlearning these habits are truly a life's work.
Until next week!
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