Cook comfortably

I work at a high school in a 2022 deadline city, so I got used to sharing my pronouns (she/her) every time I introduce myself.

Although I definitely identify as a woman, there are times when I feel like an absolute failure of traditional femininity.

Every time I try to apply eyeliner I look like I let a drunk toddler go crazy on my face.

I will almost always order a cheeseburger over a salad.

I don’t know how to do a French braid.

I do know how to disassemble and reassemble the garbage disposal when it is clogged.

I only have one handbag, and when it broke this weekend, I went to Amazon and ordered the exact same one. It’s not a fancy handbag. It’s not a brand or anything. I spent $40 on it, and this honestly felt extravagant. But I like it because it has pockets where I want pockets.

I don’t particularly like jewelry and I only wear my wedding ring most of the time. (I had my ears pierced, but I think they closed.)

And my nails! Oh, my God, my nails are a disaster. I’m a lifelong nail biter (which is crazy because I’m also incredibly germaphobic), but when I’m anxious – and I’m almost always anxious – I also peel and bite off all the skin around my nails and pluck my cuticles until they bleed.

Recently, a friend and I were discussing our stress levels.

“You can always tell my stress level by looking at my nails and my house,” she said.

“Me too!” I said.

“When my nails are a mess and my house is spotless, you know I’m at maximum stress,” she continued.

“Oh,” I said, chagrined. “My nails and my house are both a mess when I’m stressed.

I would like to clean up the stress. It would be so helpful. But I don’t. Instead, I let dog hair collect in the corners and toothpaste scum collect in the bathroom sink.

Meanwhile, I do stress-baking, maybe the opposite of stress-cleaning because it messes up the kitchen with spilled flour and bits of eggshell and beaters with clumps of dough clinging to them.

Since my father entered the hospital on October 6, I have baked sourdough bread, spice cookies and quiche. I baked olive focaccia and chocolate-orange cupcakes. I made brownies and cinnamon rolls.

Luckily, working at a high school means there’s always an audience hungry for these treats and I don’t have to keep them tempting me.

And at least the time has come for this coping mechanism; I’m not stressed in July.

It didn’t save my cuticles, but at least I fed a bunch of teens along the way.

If you have a favorite stress bake recipe I should try, email it to me at [email protected]