Sheet music is not the patriarchy.

So much for my recipe rant. When it comes to the kitchen, I deplore fussiness. 

But why do I bristle so much at recipes (such that even the word itself in my head sounds a little mocking: rEciPeee) but I love to follow sheet music?

Sheet music straightforwardly tells me which notes to play when, for how long, and how loudly. It doesn’t explain why. Often I’ll be struggling and counting aloud and finally get the hang of a polyrhythm and then I go oh, that’s what you were asking me to do. Why didn’t you just say so? And then I smile and try it again. Contrast that with the cursing that resulted when I realized I was making barbecue sauce from scratch when I could have just saved the time and saved Ian the dishes and used the perfectly serviceable Sweet Baby Ray’s languishing on my refrigerator door.

Could it be because playing along with sheet music is somehow more creative than recipe-following? This theory doesn’t seem to hold any 115-degree water to me. Some people find cooking to be a wonderful creative endeavor. Just look at what they make on the Great British Baking Show.

But, to my point, think about how stressed and furious they are at Paul during the technical challenge (for the uninitiated: this is when they are given a highly fussy, unexplained recipe to make an arcane something-or-other) compared to when they are making what they chose to make. And I dare you to find me a better human encapsulation of the patriarchy than Paul Hollywood.

I think when it comes down to it, I like cooking okay, but only about a half-hour’s worth a day, maximum. If you keep me in there for 35 minutes, I expect a pretty good explanation as to why my time couldn’t be better spent reading or writing or exercising or sleeping or talking to my loved ones (end of 2020 list).

But if I’m playing piano for more than 30 minutes, it’s because I chose to. Even if I was following instructions as closely as I could that whole time.

Really that’s all I ask: just the tiniest bit of autonomy and I’ll resonate like a perfect chord.

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