Monday, July 26, 2010

I am the mistress of discipline & moldy toast

Attempting to be a full-time writer requires a fair amount of discipline, and I don’t mean that in the fun handcuffs-and-blackcurrant-jelly way.

I need routine. This is usually how mine goes:

Wake around 6:15, write a blog post, shower, dress, feed pets, prepare and consume a breakfast consisting of two poached eggs, one piece of toast, and one hashbrown patty. Then I spend some time responding to email and making the rounds to other blogs before opening my manuscript and diving in.

You’ll understand then, why my entire day of writing was jeopardized recently when I woke to find no bread.

I knew I still had half a loaf of pumpernickel. Where was it?

I soon had my answer. The bread was in the garbage can, with several spots of mold revealing the reason Pythagoras had unceremoniously dumped it.

I began to panic.

Without toast, how would I sop up my eggs? And without toast, wouldn’t I be starving right when I hit my stride with the morning writing? Instead of dashing off witty dialogue at 10 a.m., I would be forced to flee to the kitchen and eat pie crust straight from the freezer.

I had no choice.

I carefully pulled the bread from the trash, wiping off a few bits of carrot peel and the nozzle from an empty tube of bike tire glue. I used my fingernail to flick away some of the bigger spots of mold before popping a piece of in the toaster.

When Pythagoras returned from his morning run, he found me in my usual spot on the front porch with a newspaper and a breakfast plate in front of me.

He stared at me a moment. “What are you eating?”

“Same thing I always eat,” I replied.

“Right. Um, where’d you get the bread?”

“Garbage. Hey, did you see this article about the parking fees downtown?”

He stared at me for a few more moments, then shook his head and wandered in the house. “Remind me not to kiss you until you’ve gargled with bleach.”

Personally, I don’t see the big deal. The bread was in a bag, and I did toast it. Generally speaking, I think most Americans are too uptight about expiration dates and food preparation. Pythagoras claims he has a more refined palate while I have the gut of a billy goat, but guess which of us can eat unidentifiable street vendor food in third world countries and never get sick? Hint: it’s not him.

But I digress.

Since the toast incident, I’ve stockpiled my freezer with three loaves of my favorite bread, and I’ll be keeping close tabs on it. This is serious business. My whole day of writing depends on it.

Do you have routines when it comes to your writing? Are you prone to rash behavior if something threatens your routine? Please share in the comments.

I’ll be over here trying to figure out where Pythagoras stashed the blackcurrant jelly. What? It’s for the toast.


beadhack said...

No routine, but I need to develop one. Thank you for sharing!

Patty Blount said...

Sadly, no routine... But it does help to have chocolate on hand.

Sangu Mandanna said...

Brilliant, brilliant post! I discovered your blog today and I'm so glad because you're hilarious and lovely.

My routines usually involve checking e-mails and fiddling with font before actually writing. I have serious OCD.

Amie Borst said...

ok - that's just gross. i'm totally and completely OCD with expiration dates - but mold? oy. though, i suppose a dose of penicillin never hurt anyone,right?

and i'm with patty. no routine, but chocolate definately helps.

Sage Ravenwood said...

I'm envious and you've inspired me. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to get more organized and attempt this thing called, 'Routine'. Why yes, it does sound that alien to me. (Hugs)Indigo

lora96 said...

Amusing about the bread. I'm less psycho about expiration than my husband who flails around about how we need to eat the bacon before it "goes bad." I respond that it is cured meat, and that preserves it longer. Those dates are only a suggestion, I feel. I reference the Ingalls family living off whatever they stowed in the cellar for winter. Wrinkly potato? Bah, just cook it, it's fine. :)

Sonja Foust said...

What a great post! :) And, yes, I get all in a knot if my routine gets messed up, too, so I understand...

My husband is the expiration date Nazi at our house too. I tried to tell him that yogurt never really expires because it's already spoiled, in a way, but he wouldn't buy it.

Sierra said...

I don't have a routine, but I get edgy and cranky if plans that have been made get changed at the last minute. It throws off my equilibrium.

I'm the queen of expiration dates in my house, and I freak a bit if something is left out for a while when it should have been refrigerated.

Toasting it probably killed a lot of the mold, but you're still a stronger woman than I am. I can deal with bad spots on fruit or vegetables that I can cut off, but as soon as I see one spot of mold, I throw it all out. Not all mold growth is visible...*shudders*

Jess Tudor said...

I'm not as organized as I'd like to be. When I'm drafting I do fine, shut off internet, type type type, but in revisions or planning? nope.

About food - I agree about expiration dates and all that. Also, germs. The rise in food allergies and weak immune systems in children is BECAUSE we don't expose them to enough dirt/etc.

Also, when bread is moldy, I totally throw out the moldy piece but leave the rest of the loaf. Don't judge me. I'm poor.

Candyland said...

Oh man. I get this! If I can't drink my coffee and have my toast while reading blogs first thing, I get nothing done the rest of the day.

Kelly Breakey said...

For me routine is key. Although it doesn't help if you spend the first hour of said routine obsessing on routine. NO, I never do that!

I am with you. What is the deal with the moldy bread. Mold is good. It cures things. We eat it on cheese, even if we don't know it. I applaud your ingenuity for staying true to your craft and doing whatever it takes to keep your schedule.

If you are ever in my neck of the woods and you need a job, I would hire you on the spot. Such dedication should be rewareded.


Danica Avet said...

The routine isn't for my writing, so much as just my regular day. Every morning I wake at 5 and the coffee had better be ready...God help the electric company if the electricity went out sometime in the night and rest my coffee pot. Then, while I drink my coffee over the next two hours, I read. After I've finished my lovely beverage, then I can face my day. Otherwise, I'm cranky, neurotic, and exhausted.

And bread is fine as long as it still tastes good. I think.

Anne Gallagher said...

Nothing wrong with moldy bread. Especially if you cut the mold off. And it's toasted so the hotness burns off the ick.

Coke. I need, okay, Coca-cola, the beverage so I can begin my day. If not, I turn into a cranky mess.

Sierra Godfrey said...

I'm so glad you blogged about the tweet a few weeks ago that seriously grossed out some of your fellow tweeters (although not, it must said, this one).

This explains much. You were in desperate need.

I am currently drinking well-over-week-old milk with my tea because I require milk in my tea. And I require tea to write. Mr. Sierra is all ooged out by expired milk but I don't care if it's got chunks of curdle in there, it's going in my tea.

Génette Wood said...

I'm not picky about expiration dates, but when the milk starts to smell and my bread turns colors, I head to the store.

I have no routine. Usually I go to sleep around 1 am after writing/playing computer games for 6 hours, wake up and do all my day to day things, and hit the computer at sundown.

Kadi Easley said...

A couple of years ago I was on a job and living out of a motel room for a couple of months. I came home from the night shift one morning and decided PB&J would do for breakfast. I made two sandwiches, flopped on the bed, turned on the TV and started eating. I was more than halfway finished with the first delicious sandwich when I noticed the bread was green. Ack! I didn't finish it, but if there'd just been a bit of mold on the crust, I'd probably have just pinched it off and ate it.

Linda G. said...

I'm so funny about expiration dates I will dig to the back of the shelf at the grocery store to make sure I have the greatest possible window of freshness. (Those sneaky stockers try to push the merch that's about to expire by putting it in the front, but I don't fall for that. Nuh-uh, not me.)

See, I accidentally ingested sour milk once, and it affected me. Not taking any risks with anything now.

Lynda Elkin said...

I posted a link to your blog on facebook today. One my friends replied..."I'd like to meet this girl and buy her a drink or maybe a loaf of bread."

Deborah Small said...

I wish I had a routine. Alas, I only get 10 days notice of my outside job's schedule and the hours range from start times between 645 a.m. to 3 pm with end times from 10:45 a.m (4 hour min shifts) to 7 PM; the shift lengths and start times are different every day. Then there's the kids and their sports; and routine household obligations (laundry/groceries). Somewhere in there, I am supposed to squeeze in regular exercise (ha!), a social life (double-ha!), couple time (higher on priority list), and of course, my baby--writing. Let's just say, the only thing routine about my writing schedule is its unpredictablity. Sigh.

Kadi Easley said...

Deborah, what is this social life of which you speak?


Beadhack, a flexible routine is better than none at all. Mine has certainly changed a lot over the last few months!

Patty, chocolate for you, wine for's all good!

Sangu, welcome to the blog! I share your OCD tendency to check email neurotically, even when there's nothing at all I'm expecting!

Amie B, I once cut a hunk of mold off a piece of cheese, then got distracted and put the hunk in my mouth. It was surprisingly tasty.

Indigo, I keep meaning to get REALLY organized and actually write down my schedule so I know what I'm supposed to be doing with writing at all hours of the day. It never seems to work out that way though!

lora96, LOL, I make the same Laura Ingalls Wilder comment all the time! That, and the fact that my brother-in-law (a microbiologist in Germany) leaves pizza sitting in a hot car for 24 hours and thinks nothing of eating it. If he can do that, I figure my bread is OK!

Sonja, great point about the yogurt! I tried the same argument recently with a jar of pickles that had expired 3+ years ago. Hubby wasn't buying it.

Sierra, too funny -- I won't eat the bruised parts of bananas, so I guess that's one hangup I have with spoiled food!

Jess, amen to your theory that kids get sick more often now because they're so overprotected from germs. I agree, but then I don't have kids, so I'm not allowed to get on my soapbox :)

Candyland, doesn't it make you feel a little like Rainman?

Kelly, excellent, what are you hiring me to do? I'm in the market, yanno.

Danica, I'm kind of pleased I never developed a coffee addiction, but I can't be too smug since I do the same damn thing with tea :)

Piedmont Writer, this totally sounds like a tagline for a romance novel: "the hotness burns off the ick."

Sierra Godfrey, wow, two Sierras in one comment trail, what are the odds? Sounds like you can drink the other Sierra's spoiled milk without a problem, eh?

LadyGenette, I'm big on the smell test, too. I ignore expiration dates, but I do pay attention to stink!

KD Easley, um, maybe it was just green bread? You can convince yourself of that, right? :)

Linda G, hahahaha, as much as I don't care about expiration dates, I will do the back-of-shelf dig when it comes to buying bags of salad greens! I don't like wilty spinach, I tell you.

Lynda, LOL, I'd be happy to have ANYONE buy me a drink and a loaf of bread!

Deborah, wow, you've got your hands full! I feel very lucky for the fact that I've got a very open schedule right now, though I suspect it won't always be that way.

Thanks for reading, guys!


Anonymous said...

Thing with mold on bread is that if you can see any, other mold spores have permeated the rest of the loaf. It's really not a good idea to eat moldy bread at all, regardless of the expiration date.

Anonymous said...

Okay, handcuffs, sure. But blackcurrant jelly? Sounds sticky. Reminds me of The Great Honey Debacle of '03. Which, of course, was different from The Great Honey Debacles of '98 and '05. The one in '03 was by far the worst.

Wait... what were we talking about?

Patty Blount said...

Totally misread that comment, Tawna. I thought you said you were big on small testes....

Um. No.

Should wear my glasses,eh?

Delia said...

I used to have a routine, but then the kids ate it. Now I write when I can keep my eyes open after their bedtime. That is, if the husband doesn't decide to turn on Top Gear and discuss it with me at random intervals (read, whenever I hit my stride).

As far as the mold goes, I've had kids halfway through sandwiches before they hit a moldy part. They spit and complain, "Mom, this bread has mold on it!" And I say, "Then don't eat that part."

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

My routine is different for different days. But on days when I can write, I usually try to hit the gym my 7:00, back by 8:00 and in the shower. Then I'm at my computer by 9:00 to write. I usually do a quick check of email to make sure my editor hasn't sent something, then I get down to business. I do my blogging at night.

I wish I could do that every day, but life gets in the way. :)

??? said...

Yeah, I don't agree with most expiration dates either. My family wouldn't touch the half full carton of sour cream in the refrigerator because it was two days passed the date. My first thought was "cool, more for me!" :)

Okay, embarrassing confession time. I opened a box of pizza and saw a dead fly stuck in it. So what did I do? I threw out the piece with the bug on it and ate the rest. My reasoning was that heating it up in the oven would kill any bacteria. Same with bugs in my fruit cartons.

I've always felt guilty about throwing out food because so many people live with very little, so I'll eat a piece of bread in a moldy loaf. Old meat, though? No way. Even I have a limit.

Alexandra said...

hi, came over from the writer revived and her recommendation. She was right...I do like it here, I DO. Pleasure to be following you now.

Anonymous said...

I see what you mean about being a bit of a food snob now ;)

If only I had the time to develope a writing schedule. I just write when I get a chance. The kids come first, and then it's the struggle of keeping myself of facebook and blogger for the rest of the day ;)

Anonymous said...

'Off'! not 'of' ;)

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

If by "routine" you mean doing whatever I want whenever I want, then yes - I have a strict "routine."


Anonymous, mold spores are delicious. I try to eat as many as I can each day.

Simon, I'm checking my fridge right now to make sure you haven't done anything inappropriate with my jelly.

Patty, I am not judgmental about testes. I am an equal opportunity teste lover.

Delia, that is the best mom response ever. Can't argue with that!

Kathi, life does tend to get in the way, doesn't it? Just looked at the clock and realized it's 10:21 a.m. and I haven't even opened a manuscript yet.

Sydnee, I would have done the exact same thing with the pizza. Depending on how hungry I was, I might've even eaten the piece that had the fly on it.

Empress, true story, I once took a job where I was allowed to come up with my own job title and I chose "Empress of the Universe." I might still have a business card around here somewhere.

Suz, I like my gourmet cuisine with plenty of mold on it, thank you very much :)

Debra, that sounds like my kind of routine!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Lindsay said...

What ever happened to Egg McMuffin? Does Bindi not like those as much as Holly did?

Anonymous said...

My husband is a co-manager with walmart and over the grocery side. He's been to food school. I'd have done what you did, and he'd have gone nuts knowing about it. He is strict about everything in the kitchen. It's some of our best arguments.