For Christmas my sister and her husband (Hi, Bobby!) gave us some amazing cookware. Like the for real grown-up kind that comes with warranties and lids that match. This was a dream come true for me. I once spent 3 dollars on a skillet at an estate sale. The nearly ancient, stained, cracked-handled pan immediately became my favorite in my cookware line-up. Because it was the best one of the bunch. Do you get what I’m saying? I’ve wanted real honest-for-gosh professional grade pots and pans for so long. But every time I went to buy a skillet, the bank turned me down for a loan I would need to finance the purchase. Had I known all it took was a small bout with cancer to land the goods, I would have been tanning and eating red m&m’s by the handfuls long before now.
Christmas morning. 3 enormous boxes filled with pans and pots and skillets and oh my. I ripped them open in an instant, set my new cookware free and hugged it to my chest. Yes, Jenné, there is a Santa Claus. And that fat bastard is generous! While my sister, my mother and my husband sat in the living room reading and getting stoned off the volumes of written instructions that came with the pots and pans, I made a beeline for the stove to try them out. Slam! The pot onto the stove. Wham! The fridge door swinging open. Grab! A carton of eggs to fry. Flip! I spin the dial and bring on the heat.
And that’s when it happened …
Medium! my sister cried from the living room. It says to cook only using medium heat!
Does my stove even have a medium setting?
Please remember, I am the girl who stands in front of the microwave going COME ON! when my leftovers are heating up. I am the girl who will occasionally run to the bathroom – not because I have to go so badly, but because walking seems to be such a colossal waste of time. I am the girl who yells out the car window to birds who are trotting along on their little bird legs across the yard, FLY! FOR GOD’S SAKE! YOU CAN FLY!
Medium heat? This. Has changed. My life.
I’m not a girl who does things halfway. If I were one of those poker players I see on TV I’d be all, I’m all in! on every hand. I’m highs and lows. Mountain tops and valleys. Blistering desert or Arctic tundra. I am not what you’d call, medium. Once, referring to a particular movie, a friend asked me if I enjoyed it. I said, Sort of. She said, What do you mean? I said, I mean I hated it.
Even my medium is extreme.
Nothing happens at the speed you want it to when you have cancer. Either things are moving too fast or too slow. No answer is exactly what you expect. No good news is without a twinge of concern and no bad news is utterly hopeless. Any extreme is challenged by another extreme. It is a few days, a few moments of utterly unspeakable surrounded on all sides with bleak, mindless, endless awful. It is not a race. Not a sprint or a marathon. It is a trudge. It is one foot. In front of the other foot. It isn’t impossible. It’s barely doable. It’s a whole bunch of one more days. But even in the mindless grind, you are focused. You are clear. You have unbelievable highs and unbearable lows and in both you are focused. You know what you are doing.
The day I was diagnosed, that was a very low day.
Last week’s good report, that was a very high day.
In a very real way – I love both of those days. I’m not a woman who is lukewarm – about anything.
But since the arrival of my new pans, I’ve been cooking on medium. You have to wait a little longer. You have to be patient. You have to plan a little better and you have to not try to fool the pan by turning the heat way up high and then cutting it way back and hoping it will average the two out. It’s not easy, cooking on medium. I don’t know that I quite have the hang of it. It still seems a bit of a waste of time to me. But, interestingly enough, it works. And – here’s the real shocker – things don’t burn on medium.
They take longer. And they don’t burn.
I can’t say I freakin love cooking on medium.
But knowing what I now know, I can’t say I abhor it either.
I guess I feel rather medium about medium.
Maybe this is progress.