This is an excerpt from Jessica Barksdale Inclan's book "Becca's Best." If you like what you see in this excerpt, take the opportunity for your chance to WIN a FREE copy of your own! Enter the contest by simply posting a comment on this post, along with your email address. Read the full instructions here.
I will be reviewing the author's book "The Only Thing I See" in the coming weeks. Be on the lookout for that review!
Recipe: Nothing Yet
Do I actually have to tell you how to make this?
I look up at my marketing professor, Dr. Conklin, who stands in front of me for a moment as he walks the aisles. He notices my gaze, and I look down fast when he does. He’s got big brown eyes and a long hairy eyebrow, a forehead wrinkled in a reaction that can only mean something bad. I sneak a peak at him as he stares. He seems stuck in a movie role about a stereotyped professor, and in his delusion, thinks he still is that angry, young, slightly sexy man he was in the 1970’s, turtleneck, thick
mustache, and tweed. His Dockers make shiff shiff sounds as he walks between us, his slightly frayed jacket flapping out as he moves.
I know what he’s thinking. It’s not good. He adjusts his glasses, moves down the roll sheet with his eyes, walking between the rows of students. How could any thought he have of me be good? Clearly, I’m the oldest person in this class, a daytime graduate level course in market strategy. All the older students flock to the night classes because they have actual jobs and families and important things to do during the day. A life. Clearly, I don’t belong at all. Clearly, I have no life. I’ve quit the job I’ve had for five years in order to be here during the day. For almost a year, I pretended that I was scrimping and saving in order to have a few months’ worth of rent saved away while I began school. But I wasn’t going out to dinner or to the movies or taking trips anyway, so it was just about putting money in the bank.
So I have nothing important to keep me away from this one o’clock class. I don’t even look like the other
students, older, sort of dressed wrong, again, my denim skirt just flat out old. Old! The five years between us might as well be one hundred. I look like my mother, and, in fact, this is her skirt,
something I took out of the bag she had set aside for Goodwill. As I dug through her cast offs, I found this long swath of faded denim and imagined some kind of big, golden grained field, a girl running
through it, a man on the horizon calling to her, heading toward her.
Knowing that wouldn’t happen, I at least thought that it would look good with a long white shirt.
But here I am, 27, ugly skirt and all, in a group of 22 year olds, all of whom just graduated with B.S. or B.A. degrees and are sitting in this stuffy classroom, the afternoon light shining in a hard slant, the room almost floating with September heat.
“Diaz?” he calls. “Filippi? Graham?”
Everyone answers as they are called, and I wait, anxious. Anxious about the roster. Am I on it or not? Did I register in time? Did I make the cut? I thought I had the letter of acceptance from the program in my bag. I do. I know it. I put it there this morning just before leaving the house and jumping on the
N-Judah that would take me to San Francisco State. What will I do when I’m not on the roster? What is my problem? Why can’t I go anywhere and feel half as good as I do when I’m at home baking? I have skills, I have talents. I know I’m not as bad as I make myself out to be. But—but . . . .Should I sit tight until the end of class or run out? What is the best way? How will I explain my presence?
“Muchmore?” he calls, and I breathe out, shake my head, unable to answer. “Rebecca Muchmore?”
“Present,” I say. “Here. I’m here. Becca. I’m called Becca.”
The class stops for a second, a few people turning to look at me, none of them smiling.
“Is Muchmore your true moniker?” he asks. “Or some kind of surname affirmation? Some kind of desperate hope about the future to come? If anything in this strategy class sticks, it should be that ‘much more’ is what we aim for and ‘much more’ is what we don’t often receive. At least not without a lot of
I look down at my desk, touch the dirty veneer with my fingertips, years of business hopefuls’ pen marks
lining the fake wood. This is the question I’ve been asked all my life, or at least the part of my life where I could respond. I could have gone on about the Muchmore surname, traced back to
12th Century Cornwall. But he isn’t really interested in my answer but with the giggles in the classroom at his so clever question and even cleverer answer.
“It’s English,” I say, again, as I have so often, to so many people. “It’s—“
The professor adjusts his glasses again and then coughs.
“Pratchard? Sims? Smith?”
I exhale, sit back, feel the sweat under my arms. He can’t know how horrible it is to be named Muchmore and have ‘much less’ of what I want. I really don’t even know what I want and I know it isn’t very Zen of me, but what I imagine is much more than what I have.
The 22-year-olds smile, raise their hands, their piercings shining in the afternoon light. They sit back
comfortably, their low rise jeans almost showing me more than I need or want to know. I avert my eyes from one guy’s parenthesis of crack.
Two more years until I graduate. From this exact point, two more years. But now, all I want to do is go home. Now. Right now. Make some cookies. A big batch of snickerdoodles. Or brandy rings. Maybe bake a sugar loaf. Listen to Amy Winehouse sing about her life, which seems to be worse than mine even though she is talented, famous, skinny, and beautiful. Or I want to watch anything on television. Anything at all.
Meet the author in her great holiday video in which she bakes and chats about writing, love and ebooks!