mind snacks: obsession or passion?


love is not sharing

In high school it was school itself. Homework, studying for the SATs, building up a list of community service. It’s where all my energy went. You know, aside from being boy crazy and signing off with love each night to “Dirty Di.” I’ll admit, though, that those structured days of classes, soccer, boys, and homework made me feel well rounded. There was a balance between social studies, math, science, literature, art, AND music. I miss that: information grazing. Dipping into different learning pools, tasting on mini mind snacks. Reading a play, solving a quadratic equation, painting a canvas with oil sticks—all in one day! I miss school.

Years later, I made dating my subject of choice. I scanned matchmaking sites, read profiles, responded to emails, set non-linen dates. Then I’d spend my workday IMing friends, asking them to analyze his email or his IMs. When I hit a dry spell, I’d (subconsciously) resurrect a guy I’d previously crossed off just so I could have something else to occupy my free time.

There was getting a puppy.There’s lots of research involved there–including taking the essential "What Kind of Dog Are You?" quizzes. Then graduating to the “What Breed of Dog Is Right For You” online assessment.

I studied embroidery, perfected his mini black bottom cheesecake brownies, took up photography. Took up baby making. Scoured message boards, blogged about “egg white” discharge. Then the searches became focused on “how to.” How to swaddle, how to express milk, how to suffocate annoyingass people. It progressed to how to keep a child stimulated and engaged, reading up on different schooling philosophies–should we separate Lucas and Abigail in school? I read books on parenting styles. And when I’m up to speed on realistic TV guidelines for tots, and what to pack your kids for lunch when they go to a kosher preschool, I snack on scrapbooking blogs. All the while my bedside table is a stack of books on writing.

Then people ask me if I’ve read this novel or that memoir, and I tell them, “No. Now, go away.” I spend my free time reading recipes or books on writing: studying techniques. I realize:

For me pleasure reading means learning something new that I can apply to my life.

It feels like some sort of epiphany. I know there are periods where I won’t look at a TV, where all I’ll want to do is rush home and read a certain book, but usually that novel life of stories happened when I wasn’t busy writing my own. When I wasn’t busy obsessing over something new.

Sometimes the obsession is a procrastination tactic, and other times it’s more like a funnel for nervous energy. I know I’m a bit out of control right now because I just stopped and really heard myself.

"I just cleaned out all our kitchen drawers, well, not all, but most. I even found all our wine sucker tops. They were hiding out behind the silverware. It was getting crazy back there."

My use of the word "crazy" to describe a stray wine plug  made me realize: it’s time to get back to work, woman. I sound like a 1950’s marm. I can’t help it though! All I want to do is buy nesting bowls and prep bowls with lids, more measuring spoons, and plastic-lined pastry bags. Half-sheets of parchment paper. I want to memorize The Flavor Bible. To have a perfectly organized pantry, with condensed milks, syrups, different baking chocolates and several types of vanilla.  I know I’m obsessed because I just read an article on FLOUR. What’s really the difference between all-purpose, cake, bread, and pastry flour? A lot, my friends. A lot.

Tonight we’ll be feasting on cod with razor clams, a tangle of tarragon, aioli, capers, garlic, and wine. There are clams to be scrubbed, wines to be chilled, and long writing to-do lists to be attacked. I realize I’m all over the place, grazing, and I’m trying to discover a sense of balace while embracing the self-created chaos of a working mother who’s obsessed with organization and the comforts of food. Ooh, poached eggs over asparagus tips with a light dusting of freshly grated parmesean and a hint of truffle oil… lunch time.



  1. a lovely life lived luxuriously in details and learning…mostly passion, partly obsession. i wish i were there with you, chica, miss you mucho!

    1. Author

      Oh, how I miss you too Stickbug! Though if you were here, I’d need to add “brushing up on my watercolor techniques” to the mix. Oh, how I wish I had more creative playmates like you. Smooch.

  2. Ordinarily, I’d say that when you’re obsessed with so many different things, you do few of them well. But the bitch of it is, you do pretty much everything you try well. Really well.

    So much for that aphorism.

    Still, it just seems that you are going a million miles a minute in a million different directions and I wonder if you’re running from something and if so, what? There’s never any balance. Just the next new thingWriting, designing, scrapbooking, cooking, partying, travel, shopping for the kids, marriage counseling, Phil’s health…etc. etc.

    I wonder what it would be like for you to take an entire week at a spa doing nothing. Not writing, designing. Nothing. Really. Just being. What kind of an epiphany you might have. Or not have.

    You’re undeniably talented but the obsessive motion will kill you. I can’t shake the feeling that something’s got to give.

    1. This sounds like a really fun experiment for her to take on and then write about.

      I mean, I love all that Stephanie does and, you’re right, she does most of them well, but how much longer can the energizer bunny keep going at that pace?

  3. Okay, this entire post reeks of rabid consumption. Do you have any clue how materialistic and shallow you sound?

    1. Jill, don’t read it then. A blog is different than an article or book and it meant for quick consumption. If bloggers obsessed over and over about their topics and what you thought there would not be any blogs. Get over yourself!

  4. You have interests/loves all over the place.. I think it’s perfectly normal – I’m right there with you on that!!

    and Jill, where did you get materialistic and shallow from?? I don’t see that at all.

    P.S. No matter what meal you describe, you always make them sound so dreamy!

  5. Sorry, Jill, it sounds normal. It isn’t shallow. Shallow would be not giving a crap and letting the “help” take care of the kids and the meals, etc. While it’s frenetic, it’s normal! I’m much the same way. I love learning, whether how to master a dessert, or pastel painting!

  6. I love reading your blog! I escape my own life for a tiny minute and walk away thinking about something fantastic! Right now I need to find a killer book that will make me rush home to read and I what great lunch do I want to eat while reading it.

  7. Hey Stephanie, I must admit that I have trouble reading your blog with the new font, the letters are SO SMALL :-)…. Nonetheless, I always enjoy going to your site and reading what you’re up to :-)

    1. Hi Pauline,
      you can enlarge the type on any webpage by pressing Ctrl+the plus key (or minus if you want to make type smaller). On a Mac use the command key.

      1. Sarah,
        Thanks so much for the “lesson” for us optically challenged folk. Works like a charm!

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