“No dream can live up to its expectations. Ownership is brief; in fact, it’s a fiction. And beauty? Beauty is a discovery that diminishes the truth of reality. So keep looking.”
When I picked up Then Again, Diane Keaton’s first memoir and homage to her late mother, I remember spilling myself over each page as if I could heal my neuroses by learning from her’s. I have, as you all will or have already come to know, a love for personal tales, memoirs, and biographies. Understanding the strokes that make the painting of a person’s life, does not instill you with their one-of-a-kind nature or change the path you’re on, but there’s always a chance your endurance could be strengthened, and your will refreshed. This was a safe book choice for me and I must admit, though expectations typically lead to disappointment, it’s only human to feel such a way when you’ve harbored a connection to a person’s life. On that note, let’s talk about Keaton’s second book, shall we?
Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton
A book that gives you an insight into the idiosyncratic mind of Keaton starting with the Introduction. She combs the reader into the many ways in which she organizes her thoughts and her approach to life; an approach for which she makes clear, even she is still trying to figure out. She cannot be faulted for this, in fact I take some comfort in knowing not everyone has it figured out, even in your sixties, but I did wonder at multiple times throughout this reading, what her true intention was for writing this book. Learning a few life lessons from a woman I’ve garnered as one of my favorites for years, by the end, I thought that somehow I would have a better understanding of her intention, but I came away from this text more confused than sated.
“All of my feelings and all my emotion come out on my face–my sixty-seven-year-old face. You see, my face identifies who I am inside. It shows feelings I can’t put into words. And that is a miracle, an extraordinary ordinary miracle, one I’ll think twice about before I change.”
“I was ready to go home to Black and White and Gray all over. I wanted to be light on my feet, like Cary Grant. I wanted to put on a smoky gray dress suit with suspenders. I wanted to be an international stilt walker, with an ironic smile and a dimpled chin.”
But I can’t help but picture the goofy and well-timed performance of Keaton in Sleeper, where she imitates Marlon Brando’s performance in the cinematic version of A Streetcar Named Desire. Her ability to break down the wall of celebrity superiority and the ego of a man like Brando, is part of the reason why I respect her, despite her lack of focus in this memoir. She has always been, and remains to be, a star that is relatable, and one whose verbalized consciousness of her aesthetic appeal grounds her as just another human, instead of being of the alien race of Celeb. What Keaton does beautifully in this memoir, is explore how acting is a tool for her to find the colors of the palette that make her life’s painting. Her emphasis on accepting imperfections, mistakes and the challenges of aging, helped me understand the efficacy of mindfulness and positive thinking about one’s life. I came to understand that our philosophy on life is different, but there’s beauty in this contrast, and for this I felt grateful to read her musings.
“Like the sparrows, I’ve flown into some serious plate-glass windows, but I survived. On the way, I’ve learned a few things. Namely this: beauty’s a bouquet gathered in loss. The sad part about my bouquet is that it keeps growing. Now that Mother is gone, darkness is spreading across my fading petals. Light is beautiful, but darkness is eternal.”
“I regret what I haven’t seen, but I’m thankful for what I have, and I promise myself this: I will try harder to look for what I don’t see when it’s staring me right in the eye.”
“…but my love of the impossible far overshadowed the rewards of longevity. I fell for the beauty of a broken bird. The ecstasy of failure. It was the only marriage I could make with a man. Black with a little white. Pain mixed with pleasure.”
As for edibles, I decided to make a variation of French Toast. Diane Keaton adopted two children for whom she devotes mornings to making breakfasts and school drop-offs. At one point, she mentions her son requesting French Toast and I thought it the best match to the book. Semi-complicated with many variations and comfortable in it’s imperfections. I now present to you my take on this sweet morning treat.
“That’s Neat” French Toast
- 8 to 10 slices gluten-free bread (I used this one)
- 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened, plain)
- 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
- 3 tbsp all purpose gluten-free flour (or almond meal)
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- two grinds sea salt
- coconut oil for skillet
- Extra toppings: toasted coconut, coconut whipped cream, berries, maple syrup, banana, nuts, powdered sugar, sliced strawberries, sliced figs
- In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except bread and toppings and let sit in refrigerator for twenty minutes to activate chia seeds.
- After mixture has set, heat skillet or griddle over a medium flame and begin to melt or disperse a small amount of coconut oil (just enough for a thin coating).
- Pour mixture into shallow container, I used a pie pan.
- Dip each slice of bread into mixture to soak the bread, but don’t let it become soggy. About twenty seconds on each side in mixture.
- Place the soaked slice on the skillet/griddle and press with spatula until each side is golden brown, taking care to let each side sit before flipping to allow browning to occur. About five minutes.
- Enjoy your “That’s Neat” French Toast with any of the above mentioned toppings or toppings of your choice. I enjoyed mine with raspberries, maple syrup, and a few sprinkles of powdered sugar. Don’t forget a delightful cup of tea or coffee, if you please, on the side. 😀
- I made enough to have some leftovers because I wanted a treat for another day, but if you’re just making a quick breakfast for two, I would recommend splitting this recipe in half.
- The more dense the bread, the less crispy and absorbent your french toast will be. Keep this in mind.
- I don’t recommend using a cast iron, as the retention of heat can have an adverse affect on the consistency of each slice’s browning.
- Re-heat in toaster or toaster oven.
Making this dish allowed me time in the kitchen to mull over my relationship with this text, something I think is key for anyone to do when reading. There’s a delicacy to talking about the intricacies of one’s life, and though Keaton is not the most graceful, her no-nonsense, quirky and creative language exposed her truest self. Chipping all the dried, peeling paint away, this book imbued a sense of urgency in me to live life more fully and never hasten to forget the power and beauty of making mistakes because those mistakes make the masterpiece.
What are your thoughts on this book? Did you prepare something else while reading it? I want to hear all the details at #noshedinabook and see all of your pictures! Check out previous Noshed in a Book posts and join me in my next reading selection Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick. And remember…bite responsibly!