Deep-fried contentment

I was going to rattle off about politics and some other dreary topics, but I have had a change of heart, thanks to local Chinese/Thai food restaurant Little Panda. The restaurant specifics will have no value for the non-local readers, but keep reading anyway. Trust me, this is going somewhere more universal.

The meal was above average quality and flavour, for the most part. The pad thai was passable, but nothing to run out in the streets and yell about. No, the yelling and delight came from the deep-fried items. I don’t know if they paid a premium to hire a master of the fryer, or if this attentive cook was just channeling the spirit of greasy deliciousness. Whatever the case may be, the outcome was the best chicken balls that I have eaten in decades (stop snickering).

For years, I have dutifully eaten chicken balls whenever they have been presented, but they have routinely been overcooked, left to fry so long that the meat within is dry and tasteless and the surrounding batter is brittle and unpleasant. Tonight’s delightful treasures were a case study in perfect timing. They were a light golden brown in colour, cooked just long enough to make the coating crispy but pliant, and the chicken within was moist and flavourful. To top it off, they had somehow improved the sweet’n’sour sauce that I assume comes in industrial vats. It was less sweet, and the more subtle flavour worked with the chicken to make my dinner fantastic. Yes, the sauce was still coloured bright orange-red with unnatural dyes, but in the context it was just right.

Was I in the mood for deep-fried stuff today? You bet, and I know that influences my enjoyment of dinner, but there’s another more esoteric element to my dining experience: contentment. For the first time in, oh lets just say forever, I have a calm sense of contentment. I’m able to lean back after a good meal and appreciate that I ate a nice meal with my lovely family and that is pretty great.

The best part of about feeling calm and content is that I’m more aware of the situation happening around me and the needs of other people. I’m reacting more deliberately and more thoughtfully, instead of flailing about in a panic. It’s a nice feeling.

That is not to say that I’m living a life of non-stop zen. I still have my freakouts and my weird hangups and all of the kooky things that make my mental landscape so…interesting. A few days ago I was frightened at the prospect of putting my novel up for sale as an e-book and not selling any copies save for pity purchases.With every new step I take with my writing, there’s a momentary fear storm that will blow in, an ill wind of doubt that shakes the foundation of the creative house. (That sentence was overly elaborate and a touch melodramatic. I was indulging the bad poet inside of me. Moving on.) But the reason I can have these bursts of self-doubt is that I’m actually making progress in my writing career. I see my writing getting better, my process becoming more streamlines and refined. The world is full of people trying to find their passion and follow it, and I’m already there.

And how can I manage to follow my creative desires? A fantastic wife who works hard and pays the bills and is a great mom to the little dude. And that doesn’t even cover the direct support, feedback, and plain old listening she gives me. Now that I think about all of the ways she helps me out, I might go offer her a massage.

Published by Chris

I'm an author, freelance writer, dad, and civic busybody living in London, Ontario

3 thoughts on “Deep-fried contentment

  1. When you publish your book I will be purchasing it and it won’t be no pity purchase! I told you I’m a fan! You’ll have to help me with the downloading bit though

  2. Except for the chinese part, it sounds like this was ghost-written by me. I struggle with guilt over my wife’s support daily. (It would help if she didn’t loath her job.) I feel like my writing is an indulgence at her expense. I tell my self that once the first book is finished and I can see if I’m any good, it’ll become more of a casual hobby. But I’ve gotta know and know before I’ve wasted any more of my career time on meaningless drone jobs.

    I waver constantly about my writing’s quality. Some days I think “dang I’m good”, others “this is embarrassingly bad.” I tell myself a lot of this is just my mood talking. I used to be a treatment resistive depressive, but with a cocktail of four meds I’m now a wee bit bi-polar-ish so I’m very up and down. (You are so raw and open in this blog, so I feel I can be too.) I just wish I could get an objective assessment–but I’m afraid.

    But even “objective” assessments have their own problems. Tolkien shared his writing with many friends and grew depressed when no-one liked it.

    I’ve also concluded that flaws aren’t necessarily the end of the world (certainly WRT commercial popularity witness Twilight). I love the vividness of Robert E. Howard’s writing but farts out some stinkers. (And think of TV shows like Star Trek). It’s more important to create something that is sometimes great, than something that is flawless. But this leads to new worries–what if my writing is just tasteless pap and colourless goo. The thought is heartbreaking.

    Depressing myself, got to get back to writing.

    1. I’m more appreciative than guilty about not bearing the responsibility of breadwinning. It really helps that K likes her job (more or less) and she likes working in her field.
      You have to look at your writing as a family goal, something you’re all working towards, instead of a personal indulgence. Teamwork, chief!

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