Saturday, December 31, 2005

Dangerous Oatmeal

I like to take a few chances.

One is pursuing the perfect bowl of oatmeal at high speed.

Microwave oatmeal is break-dancing on an antenna. First steps involve a lot of falling. A lot of boil-overs and graceless flailing. I looked deep into the heart and oatmeal, and found this is what it needed: a larger bowl.

So, I make my morning oatmeal like this: two teaspoons of sunflower seeds, one slice of candied ginger, diced, this much oatmeal, poured from the bag, and one cup of soy milk. I put it all in a four cup Pyrex measure, set that upon the turntable, and run our 1400 watt microwave for two minutes.

Two minutes is fine. At two minutes, I can walk away, and the oatmeal will seldom boil over. And I'll have a decent bowl of oatmeal, a bit dry in the center of the flakes, perhaps, but perfectly palatable.

Ah, but three minutes! Three minutes yields an excellent bowl of oatmeal. At three minutes, all the flakes are plump and moist, the milk has merged into something greater, and an exquisite edge of carmel has joined the flavor circus. Three minutes is gorgeous.

And three minutes means pushing the edge. Complete attention, as I watch the oatmeal rise through the gridded window. My finger hovers, ready to stop the process, let the foam fall, rescue my carefree breakfast from wasting itself on the surface of the turntable. Each morning, with changes in the atmosphere or whim of oatmeal volume, the process reinvents itself -- no simple formula can capture its living complexity. Just me, completely alive to the moment, watching the rise, hitting the button, looking at the black screen that hides the contents when the power is off, until I feel my moment return, restarting, and repeating. To three minutes. Or maybe a little longer.

And then, if I have danced my dance well, I eat a great bowl of oatmeal.

Or if not, I suffer the agonies of short rations and microwave KP duty.

Or maybe not. Maybe it's only oatmeal.

Or maybe it's something magnificent, because I have invested myself in it.

Here is your day. May you dramatize it or float through it, as suits you best.

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