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Pickle Me This

November 3, 2020

This Is Not a Victory Cake

If you go back in my archives, you’ll find my posts from four years ago about, first, the victory cake I baked, and then, afterwards, how much I regretted that cake. It did not taste good. I learned a lot from that unfortunate cake, and I’ve continued to learn in the months and years since. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how important it is to learn you can lose, that justice is not inevitable. The arc is longer than we thought. In early 2017, I was reading a biography of Jane Jacobs, and someone commented that Jacobs was so remarkable because she’s one of the few people who ever managed to win, and I’d never thought of that before. That goodness doesn’t always triumph, that it usually doesn’t—which is so counter to everything I ever understood growing up against the crumble of the cold war, the end of history and all. But nothing really is ever so definitive, and I think about this as I contemplate going forward and how to frame ideas, and about how going all or nothing is possibly to set oneself up for defeat. How it is necessary too to understand that winning/losing is not the binary you might think it is. Nothing is simple, nothing at all.

Except: don’t bake a cake before you’ve won. And I haven’t. I’ve made a cake though, and that’s because I have a friend stopping by to visit this afternoon, and it’s called hospitality. And also because we’re heading into that time of year where the sky gets dark fast and Smitten Kitchen’s grapefruit cake adds some necessary brightness, sunshine. You can make your own sunshine, no matter what else is going on, I suppose, is what I’m saying with this cake. Not blind optimism this time, fingers crossed, but light in the darkness instead.

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