Book List and Baked Good

Literary Friendships, Basic Bitch Cookies, and Why Pumpkin Flavor is a Lie!

No video this week because I’m exhausted, hence why I’ve not been blogging as much lately. For once in my life, I don’t want to go into gratuitous details on the internet.

This week, I made a very basic sugar cookie recipe with pumpkin spice frosting for my stupid best friend’s 27th birthday party. Here is a picture of us on her birthday, if you can look at it without vomiting. Gross. I hope she makes the 27 Club.

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I lost my recipe because I’m a fucking drunk, bitter idiot, so instead of a recipe I have a couple of rants. That’s probably better than a recipe.

RANT 1: Pumpkin Flavor is a Conspiracy Theory 

Remember all that outrage in, like, 2013 because people found out Starbucks’s Pumpkin Spice Lattes did not, at the time, contain pumpkin? Pumpkin flavor is not a thing and anyone who thinks otherwise has never baked jackshit in their life. Have you ever tasted raw pumpkin while making a pumpkin pie, dipshit? It has pretty much zero taste. It’s called a pumpkin SPICE latte. SPICE! Pumpkin spice is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and ground cloves. If you want pumpkin spice, you mix equal parts cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg with a slightly smaller amount of equal parts allspice and cloves. Boom. Pumpkin spice. You don’t need no fucking pumpkin. There was no pumpkin in my cookies and they were awesome.

RANT 2: The term “basic bitch” is fucking stupid. 

Sure, my friends call me a basic bitch for loving PSL’s and Teen Mom (I cried at Catelynn and Tyler’s wedding, okay???) but this is because making fun of one another is just what we do. It’s not meant to be taken as a serious critique of my personality. Yet some people take perverse pleasure in knocking others (especially women) down by calling them “basic.” It’s just so stupid because A) we’re all kind of basic and B) is there anything inherently wrong with liking some aspects of culture that are popular or trendy? Some people just genuinely like leggings, infinity scarves, and all things pumpkin spice. If you use the term basic bitch sincerely and you’re over 19 years-old, I will not take you seriously as a human. You’re essentially a parody of yourself and you need to stop. The term “basic bitch” is just the most recent way to be shitty to people. Sure, I think pumpkin spice Cheerios, mineral water, and vodka (yes, these are all things I have seen at Ralph’s lately) are pretty damn nasty, but I love pumpkin spice lattes, cookies, breads, and baked goods in general. We already talked about how people contain multitudes, so I can love pumpkin spice and also Isaac Bashevis Singer who’s, BTW, very under read today. I declare War on the War on Pumpkin Spice!

Now, we list! (And, yes, I’ve deliberately stocked this list with some “basic bitch” literature because fuck you.)

Top 5 Literary Friendships 

5. Ron, Harry, and Hermione from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 

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I’m not going to get into the “Is Harry Potter literature?” debate because I really don’t know. I don’t think the books are masterpieces, but in her “Shipwrecked” Jana Malamud Smith writes, “Perhaps a book becomes a classic in proportion to . . . how many readers find within it something they experience as desirable or even intimately necessary.” Whether it’s “literary” or not, many people – myself included – have found things in Harry Potter that are intimately necessary. My necessity comes in the first book, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione finally become friends. They fight a troll together and, according to Rowling, “There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” You replace “twelve-foot mountain troll” with the name of pretty much any mental illness and that’s how most of college-aged friendships were solidified. I thought my college years were the best of my life, only to realize college actually kind of sucked. Academia values a kind of work ethic that can worsen and even trigger mental illness. My friends and I fought many a troll together during those four years, and are now bonded for life. Friendships don’t always have to arise from common interests or similar personalities. Some of our strongest relationships come from battling twelve-foot mountain trolls together.

4. Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby 

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Did anyone else think Nick Carraway was kinda into Gatsby in a more-than-just-friends way? I kinda got that vibe, because you have to like someone an awful lot to want to tell their whole life story. Whether it was unrequited love or not, I do think Nick cared for and understood Gatsby in a way the other characters did not. Namely, Nick was the only person who really seemed to give two fucks about Gatsby as a human being and didn’t just use him as an escape from a shitty life. Gatsby, in return, trusted Nick with his secrets unconditionally. This is probably one of my favorite literary bromances of all time. Scratch that – one of my favorite bromances ever.

3. The narrator, Robin, Isabel, and Pat from “The Juniper Tree” by Lorrie Moore 

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If a friendship can somehow transcend death, I guess it’s pretty fucking powerful. Full disclosure: I have no fucking idea what’s going on in this story, which is par for the course when I read Lorrie Moore. Basically, the narrator fails to visit her friend Robin in the hospital before she dies, but the next day her two friends show up with some gin and decide to go visit Robin. Somehow. ??? Profit! Robin inexplicably shows up at her house for an unearthly send off involving poetry, dancing, and a bizarre rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” I can’t tell if the narrator is daydreaming or if all the women are all dead and in purgatory, but the sincerity of their friendship makes this very strange story somehow believable. I’m willing to buy the whole damn thing until Robin smashes her face in a meringue pie and I’m suddenly back on earth wondering what the fuck is happening. Apparently, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief regarding visits to the afterlife and ghost friends, but a character smashing her face in a pie is just too out there for me. Whatever. Maybe all those chicks just drink too much gin.

2. Mathew and Stephen from “Retreat” by Wells Tower 

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This short story by Wells Tower encapsulates the odd tension of sibling friendships, showcasing how some familial relationships can be intensely close while simultaneously pretty unhealthy. Sibling relationships are fraught with wounds, resentments, and irrationalities that never quite heal because, well, childhood is fraught with wounds, resentments, and irrationalities that never quite heal. The story begins with the narrator, Matthew, regaling us with stories of his brother Stephen’s past indiscretions. He presents this as the reason he can only call his brother “after six or so large drinks.” Intoxicated, Matthew invites Stephen to come stay for a weekend on his new property, leading to a tense visit. The cause of the rift between the brothers is a mystery. There is something very, very wrong here, and it has to be more than Stephen’s misdeeds at Matthew’s sixth birthday party, or Stephen outshining Matthew career-wise. Whatever the reason for the love/hate relationship, this story perfectly captures the kinds of friendships in which two people can, as the narrator describes it, “share joy as passionately and single-mindedly as [they] do hatred.”

1. The Little Prince and the Fox from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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To tame is an act too often neglected, according to the Prince’s Fox. Taming a loved one may sound negative, but the Fox views taming less as domineering and more as a means to establish ties. “My life is very monotonous,” the Fox says, “But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow.” This beautiful anecdote reminds us relationships require taming, to a degree. Being tamed is not always giving in or giving up. It can be a means of rejecting alienation. To be tamed is to let down your defenses and invite someone into your world. Friendship is often seen as something purely hedonistic that exists solely for personal pleasure, but the Fox reminds us friendship comes with responsibility and obligation. These commitments are what remove the monotony of life, and allow us to see one another as unique and necessary. The most beautiful thing about friendship is that, as the Fox tells the prince, we are responsible forever for what we have tamed.

Please leave me a comment below about what baked goods or books I should tackle next week!

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2 thoughts on “Literary Friendships, Basic Bitch Cookies, and Why Pumpkin Flavor is a Lie!

  1. 1. I agree, “basic bitch” must go! Nobody can be freaky ALL the time. Trust me, I’ve tried.

    2. How can you read Harry Potter? How can ANYONE read Harry Potter? I couldn’t get through two pages! It’s so poorly written! I just don’t get it.

    3. Gatsby totally has a homoerotic vibe. It also has an eerie horror story vibe that nobody ever talks about.

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    1. Maybe it’s because I read Harry Potter as a kid? I have not reread it as an adult and I do remember feeling like the last one (which I read when I was, like, 18) was super poorly written and wondering if it had declined in quality or if I was just getting older. Kinda scared to reread it as an adult. Haha.

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