"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Refrigerator follies

by Julie Tilsner on January 30, 2008

in Good Ideas Gone Bad

Messy bed, messy head.
I read that adage somewhere, and it stuck. I must say it makes great sense, although somehow I suspect it promises more than it delivers. I mean, my bed is often the neatest part of my house, and still my head is a mess.

If you want a glimpse inside my head, join me downstairs in the kitchen. Now take a deep breath and open my refrigerator.


If you’re thinking something died and went to hell in there, you’d be right. What exactly expired, however, I can’t exactly say. Because it could be any number of things, including one of my four half-used jars of jam or the tomato paste I used a tablespoon of six months ago and forgot all about.

In my refrigerator, my desire to be thrifty collides badly with my suspect short-term memory and my lack of follow-through. When the kids don’t finish their lentil soup, the remains go into storage in the refrigerator. When there’s some tomato sauce left, it goes into the refrigerator. When I buy too many interesting vegetables or herbs at the farmer’s market, in they go, until I can figure out what to do with them.

Except that I never figure out what to do with them. And there it all sits. Mulching. Liquifying. Growing penicillin, until the smell becomes such that I am embarrassed to open my refrigerator in the presence of non-family members. That’s when I am forced to take action. Usually.

Is this TMI? I reveal this to you because it’s an allegory for my life. Or maybe it’s just an excuse. I am lazy and unfocused, with a heaping dollop of low self-esteem. Throughout my life I’ve been told I could have real talent, really create something special, if only I paid attention and followed through. Music, art, dance teachers, editors, all have echoed this exact sentiment. By all accounts, I am a fraction of what I could be.

I rationalize this by reminding myself that nobody likes a winner. And everybody would hate me if I were an organized, upbeat, can-do sorta gal with screen credits and clear skin. A strong marriage, a large home on a horse property, well-behaved children (or dogs) all sound keen on paper, I suppose, but it makes for boring copy. Why blog if you can keep on top of it all? Where’s the thrill in that?

So if my head, like my refrigerator, contains too many half-eaten meals, dark jars of forgotten provenance, and adventurous cheeses gone green, I suppose that’s a condition worth embracing. And meanwhile, I still have all that potential.

Tony keeps trying to help me reach that potential. He beat me to the punch this weekend and took it upon himself to make my refrigerator sparkle and shine. I keep trying to tell him that other old adage: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, but he won’t hear any of it.  And indeed, it was the salt-cod he bought me, for another try at cod-cakes, tucked deep into the vegetable crisper and avoided for weeks, that was mucking up the place.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelli Johnson January 30, 2008 at 6:01 pm

If you are only a fraction of what could be, well then that’s plenty!
Oh, and by the way my favorite Dorothy Parker quote, from when they were playing that game at the round table…make a sentence…her word? Horticulture…
you can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think..
Love it!


Mr Squid January 30, 2008 at 7:08 pm

The best part about a messy refrigerator is that one can often find a something tasty hiding behind the tupperware full of rotting pasta.


AT January 30, 2008 at 4:39 pm

..hmmm, I just figured out that your ‘oh my cod’ “experiment” was made a chronicle of back on 11/30/06 ?? (a Spaniard went a whole year without ¿bacalao?) uh…lets find a good Spanish/Cuban restaurant this weekend BHC..!


Shari January 31, 2008 at 10:36 am

Recommendation for you and Tony, in case you’ve never been there: Spain Restaurant 1866 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
A little hole with good Spanish food. Our big Cuban family eats there often.
About the fridge, here’s my TMI I clean it when 1. my mom is coming to visit or 2. when I run out of tupperware.


kitchenette January 31, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Too funny…I once decided that the remainder of that 30 cent can of tomato paste just COULD NOT go to waste, so I divided it up into tablespoons and stuck them in an ice cube tray and froze them. Yep, still in there. Mmm…tomato-sicles.


Colon Cleanse Geek February 3, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Egads, I know the feeling of trying to guess what that furry growth in the bottom of a bowl was. Still makes me shudder:-)


Seraphine February 22, 2008 at 11:54 pm

The “organized, upbeat, can-do sorta gal with screen credits and clear skin” don’t exist in the real world. It’s like having a happy 1960’s family. The ideal is a combination myth and fantasy.
My refrigerator looks like yours. My best friend’s cooler is even worse. The best thing is hope for a power failure, so you have to throw everything out (spoilage!) and start over.


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