Day 6: No panic here. Just corn ice cream. And highlighters.


When I was about 12, I made mushroom ice cream. Twice. The first time was a bored accident–steamed mushrooms in a half-eaten bowl of ice cream. A cry for help from an artist seeking her medium. Ha. The second time I was purposeful: I sauteed a box of mushrooms in butter and garlic, then blended it into a gallon of vanilla ice cream. I loved it. Just head over heels loved. The earthy quality of the mushrooms kept the otherwise head-in-the-clouds ice cream from drifting off my palate too soon. I wanted to eat it all the time–each serving (and subsequent re-freezing) gave me a whole new set of wonderment.

I had an unnatural draw to that ice cream. I loved it like the fierce, first love of my childhood imaginary friend. (Chloe was her name, and she was part-dog, part-human.) I digress. Point being, I celebrated its complicated umami/sugary blend, and just couldn’t understand why my parents were a unanimous thumbs down on mushroom ice cream. It’s a fun anecdote to tell when I’m trying to entertain or get some attention in a conversation. Ever since, I have wanted to re-enter the world of savory ice cream. Not for the attention, though—I think it’s one of the earliest memories I have of playing and not worrying about the rules, and actually loving what happens, before you learn that not everyone will share your zeal.

Cory Doctorow encourages writers to “write when the book sucks and it isn’t going anywhere. Just keep writing. It doesn’t suck. Your conscious is having a panic attack because it doesn’t believe your subconscious knows what it’s doing.

I haven’t heard it put in quite an encapsulated way before; if I have, I wasn’t ready to hear it.

Today I had a bit of an organizational method panic attack that went like this: wait! I have a composition notebook and then some (from earlier in the month) filling up with stream-of-consciousness meanderings to myself interspersed with “Actual Words For The Book” passages, interspersed with three different versions (with different consequences) of one scene or idea or notion…uh oh. I tried to type some of it up, and that was a mistake. I think I’ll just have to make the left side of the pages notes to self, and right side “Actual Words For The Book” and typing just isn’t allowed to happen until September.

I have been so hung up on how a sentence looks or feels, and less so about letting go and letting a story bore into me–the few that have are talismanic at this point–that I let that “looks are everything” sort of take over my writing. If I am typing up pages, there must be progress. If I am writing notes to myself, I must be thinking. If it’s all tidily organized, I must be doing something important. 

Creating really can become all about trust–trust in the art and worth of play. And wow, does this have absolutely nothing to do with appearances.

My composition books are a mess, and this is going to be a long process. And that’s ok. My messy scribbles have odds and ends of important things, and I just can’t demand my subconscious transmit messages in the tidiest, most linear fashion possible. This is not a CV, conscious mind. It’s art. It’s gone into hiding before (or, whatever subconsciouses do when they stop speaking to you) and I don’t want that to happen again. I want to keep listening.

So I got out a yellow highlighter. And I will highlight the “Actual Words For The Book” among the scribbles so far and hope my September self will be able to discern it. I will move on. It’s a lesson in trust. This is what I’ve been battling with for decades–trying to streamline and “organize” an “unorganized” mind, just like I’ve tried to socialize my introvert, modernize my early 90’s music tastes…screw it!
Can you see this? This unassuming blob, with companion blobette, is tarragon blueberry jam and corn ice cream, recipe courtesy hardlikearmour at Food52. Funny how little messes can contain the most affirming treasures–it’s not about replicating something perfect. It’s about playing.

Not since last fall (or, as I like to call it, “the white gazpacho discovery of 2011″) have I felt so free.

3 thoughts on “Day 6: No panic here. Just corn ice cream. And highlighters.

  1. Hi Hannah! You are the best. I think I finally shook the steak chapter…for now. Your advice on searing and baking was as the kids today say clutch.


  2. Is that what the kids are saying? I thought it was “cray”. As in, “that corn ice cream is cray!”


Comments are closed.

About alison barker