Let me tell you something pretty embarrassing. You can laugh, it’s okay. I laughed at myself. But yeah, so I cried over some cookies on Friday.
The setup: Three other people in my office building and myself organized a bake-off. We’ve had a chili cook-off four years running, and this year we wanted to add another fun event for our coworkers. The four of us spent weeks planning. We had to ask three folks in the building to be judges, we had to come up with parameters for the event, we had to decide on an entree for people to eat, we had to set up a judging scale, we had to make sure we had enough supplies and paper goods, and on and on. This all took place via email when we had snippets of spare time during our day. But when bake-off day arrived, we were ready. And of the four of us planners, three of us submitted a dessert to be judged.
I spent a total of three/three-and-a-half hours the night before making Sea Salt Brown Butter Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies (yes, they are as delicious as they sound). Let me tell ya, I was a nervous wreck because I hadn’t made these cookies in more than two years. All night, questions and insecurities bombarded my brain. Had I scorched the butter? Had I let the dough chill too long? Will the Nutella ooze out? Was that too much salt on top, or not enough? Were the cookies too big? Did I burn them?
My anxiety seems silly, since this bake-off was all in good fun. But I couldn’t help it. I’ve felt a little cursed lately, and my cookies being a disaster would have been par for the course.
I’ve touched a little on wedding and new house stress in some previous blog posts, but I’ll briefly recap what’s been going on in my life.
- The bridal store hadn’t ordered my veil, though I thought they had, so it’s not scheduled to come in until just a couple weeks before the wedding, and I just pray it’s not late.
- Someone hacked my and my mom’s phone numbers and purchased four new iPhones, which resulted in our phones being turned off and us having to contact AT&T and take security measures to prevent this in the future.
- While I was at the gym one afternoon, someone (apparently in a white truck with a ball hitch big enough to puncture the back end of my car) backed into my Camry and left the scene.
- When meeting with our caterer, I realized I have NO IDEA how to make a reception look good, and just kept answering the caterer’s questions with, “I don’t know.”
- Cory’s best man found out he can’t make it to the wedding.
- Our first wedding shower was rescheduled last minute because of a death in the church congregation. (Please don’t read that as me complaining about someone dying, because that would be, like, villainously cold-hearted of me. It just frazzled me because last-minute stuff always frazzles me.)
- Our new home’s hot water heater doesn’t seem to last longer than 10 minutes, and the guys who checked it said there’s nothing wrong with it.
- The guys who checked the hot water heater ran into our mailbox with their truck.
- We bought hooks to hang up our curtains, and realized when we got home that we’d purchased tie-backs instead. We just left it that way.
- I’m in a state of limbo because I don’t really live anywhere right now. Some of my stuff is at the new house, and the stuff that isn’t there is still at my apartment, and I can’t completely move until late May right before the wedding.
I could go on, but I won’t. That’s just a taste.
So yeah, I wanted my cookies to turn out. If they didn’t, that was quite possibly going to push me over the edge.
On the day of the bake-off, we had eight entrants. There were cupcakes, sweet crackers, cake, cobbler and some other tasty stuff. When we tallied the judges’ scores, we found there was a tie…between me and one of the other women who had helped organize the bake-off. I realize that looks fishy, but I promise there was no underhanded stuff going on. All entries were presented to the judges anonymously.
One of my coworkers went back to the judges and asked them to break the tie. They ruled in favor of my Sea Salt Brown Butter Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I’m not one to get real excited in front of coworkers, though I kind of wanted to about taking home Best Recipe at the inaugural Great State Street Bake-Off. I just kind of pushed my excitement aside for the rest of the day and commented on how good everyone else’s entries tasted.
But then something happened when I was in the car with Cory later that night. I was looking out the window, thinking about how cool it was that my cookies won, and then – here’s that embarrassing thing I mentioned earlier – I started crying.
At first, I felt stupid. Like, Come on, Monica. Crying over some cookies? Really? But I quickly realized why I was crying. Those cookies and that bake-off had symbolized something more than the conglomeration of sugar and eggs and emails. They had symbolized something finally going right. They symbolized the reminder that sometimes hard work and time and care put into a project yield a desired outcome. At the same time, like yin and yang, they reminded me that those things don’t always yield a desirable outcome, which makes the desirable outcome that much sweeter.
Something else could go wrong this week. Maybe the kitchen counters will fall off the wall. Maybe I’ll forget about a bill and get a late fee. Maybe the tux place will lose Cory’s groomsmen order. Maybe a variety of other things that I dare not even speak aloud will happen. It’s possible.
But it’s also possible that things will go right. And it took some cookies to show me that.