Flip Flopping Flapjacks

Last weekend I opted not to go to my 25th college reunion and spent all-day Saturday questioning my decision.  In so many ways I think of myself as a decisive person: when I go shopping I am in and out of any store having chosen and purchased a new shirt, pair of shoes, carton of milk, or whatever in a snap.  But I think I’ve been misleading myself.  For every dress bought in five minutes there is the torture I inflict on an innocent waiter over which is better, the salmon or the lasagna?  And then I still need to be the last to order while my palate and I continue our not-so-internal debate and my dining partners tap their feet and roll their eyes.

But even a protracted ordering of a meal is over in minutes, whereas my reunion dilemma involved weeks of pros and cons made more complicated when I started working full-time.  There were the considerations of transportation and accommodations.  Meaning, were Daisy and Joe (with whom I traveled the last time my classmates gathered) going and could I get another lift?  If so, would we stay the night?  Would it be a room at the Clarion or could we deal with the accommodations in the dorm?  When they decided not to go another set of friends piped up with the idea of Amtraking it up and back in one day.  I could have been swayed, despite the hideousness of being at Penn Station at the crack of dawn, but then parental obligations forced them to excuse themselves from any potential celebrating.  In the meantime, I started my new job and was shocked at how few hours I now have left in the day to do all the things I used to be able to do at a more leisurely pace.  For instance, I am writing this at the same hideous hour at which I avoided Penn Station. 
Chez Clarion?
The point is, for the last month I have been feeling completely out of control when it comes to certain aspects of my personal life.  I can no longer talk on the phone during the day which means my multiple quick chats with every member of my family need to be squeezed in before 9am or after 7pm.  But that’s also when I need to find time to exercise, do my laundry, write my blogs, bake, clean my house, pay my bills, go to the market, and maybe see a friend or two.  So, when I realized I might lose my mind if I didn’t take the weekend as an opportunity to feel less like a chicken with her head cut off, I took it.  I officially decided not to go to Connecticut on Saturday on Thursday.

Friday night I did three loads of wash, made a pasta sauce whose ingredients were on the verge of rotting in the fridge, ordered a replacement for my tattered bathrobe online, read the newspaper and collapsed on the couch for one hour of catch-up with Giuliana and Bill.  In the meantime I noticed I had a voice mail on my cell phone left from an old boyfriend (stop, he’s married and we’re friends) while he was driving to the reunion seemingly under the assumption he’d see me there.  Oh no.  I’d forgotten to make it clear that I wasn’t going.  I also hadn’t heard back from another classmate (with the absolution I was hoping for) whom I had emailed Thursday evening alerting her as to why I’d be a no-show.  I was a little haunted by feeling I was letting people down when I fell asleep at 11pm.

This new work thing has me waking up early whether I want to or not, so I had to force myself to stay in bed until 8:00 on Saturday morning, all the while thinking about what might be going on in Connecticut.  Had most people arrived Friday night?  Had my tireless friend Priscilla received her Alumni Tribute Award for sustained and extraordinary service to the college yet?  And most importantly, was it raining?  You see I was secretly hoping that it was in order to erase the images of shiny, happy people reconnecting on the verdant quad from my brain.  I made myself go running, sure that the huffing and puffing would clear my head, but I spent most of my time on the reservoir track squinting in the emerging sun light while dodging and hurdling the lagoon-like puddles left behind by the overnight downpour.   I was so preoccupied that even the incredibly charming sight of two gorgeous mallards waddling across my path didn’t release me from the “did I do the right thing?” refrain my psyche had on auto-play.
Alma Mater
The flipping and flopping was exhausting.  What was my problem?  Why did I have such a hard time first making the decision and then living with it?  These were the questions I was confronting as I first cleaned out my closet (six bags to Housing Works!) and then swapped winter clothes for summer, went to the supermarket, got a pedicure, did some clothes shopping and had lunch with the above mentioned Daisy.  Always the straight shooter, Dais was conflict-free about staying put and could not understand my waffling.  Then again, she also couldn’t understand why I spent the night before we left for our freshman year (we went to middle and upper school together too) throwing up and shaking when she was calmly looking forward to starting a new life chapter.  Ah, what would it be like to live a life free from the shackles of anxiety?
Closet Cleaning
But all my churning finally led me to an insight.  Too often I fall prey to the siren song of nostalgia, casting my memories in a golden glow of good-old-days.   That is really not productive when you are in the process of moving your life forward.  I’ve really been working on being braver, taking more chances and putting myself in new situations—like starting a fresh career in mid-age.  I think I was concerned that spending a weekend toasting yesterday might somehow hinder my focus on embracing tomorrow.  My new mindset is too tenuous to risk derailment. 

When I woke up Sunday I ran around a dry and sunny track, this time pausing to appreciate the ducks floating in the reservoir, and came home to make a breakfast befitting the emotional flip flopping of the prior weeks—pancakes!  I showed nostalgia who’s boss by putting a modern twist on the recipe my father used to whip up on weekends when I was a kid. (See our recipes below).  Both are delicious and you certainly won’t risk romanticizing my childhood if you make Dad’s.  The sweetness of the strawberries and drizzle of syrup pairs nicely with the tang delivered by the yogurt (or sour cream) and as I dug into my stack, happily ensconced in my apartment, I knew I’d made the right choice.  Let’s hope it won’t take me five years to decide if I’m going to my 30th.  Gulp.

That brown splotch is a duck!
Flip Flopping Flapjacks (mine)
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1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup yogurt (I used nonfat Greek)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 cup chopped strawberries
Real maple syrup for serving

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, flax seeds, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg and butter.
Pour the dry into the wet and stir just until completely combined.

Heat your pan or griddle, swirl a little butter in the pan so pancakes don't stick and spoon batter onto hot pan/griddle--I made silver dollars which were a big, heaping tablespoon each. Sprinkle pancakes with chopped berries and cook until little bubbles form on the surface of the batter.
Flip pancakes over once (!) and cook until the bottoms are dark golden brown.  

Yield: 20 silver dollar pancakes

Dad's Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Same as above.  Dad never used berries.  Do as you please.

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