Trying- too hard.

These are the stories of women who kept on trying harder…

They were both single, young professionals. He had just taken a job in her office soon after she started working there. Their connection was natural. He, a good looking guy seemingly tough but soft inside. She, a strong and sharp woman whose kindness and keen mind drew him in. They spent countless hours together, always just friends. He got another job that took more of his time, more of his energy, and some of his individuality away. Signs that he was too stressed, too overworked, too tense became to emerge. A nervous breakdown led to a sudden move across the country. She reached out relentlessly. He pushed away and always made her feel guilty. They hardly speak. She can’t stop trying.

They had been friends forever. Two girls turned married women with children who have shared and experienced the sorrows and joys of growing up, learning to be women, learning to love. Both energetic personalities, with flaws, and fears and insecurities, they followed paths that sometimes seemed to contradict. Each made their own missteps – and with them, both became who they are now. Their bond grew stronger with each milestone shared, each silly argument, each heartbreak. Never in perfect balance, what one gave never seemed enough for the other, what she had seemed unfair, and cycles of blame began and carried on for years. Good times interrupted this routine and made it feel not as exasperating and relentless.

She was married, he, ten years her senior and single. She, a motivated young professional with a knack for wanting to save the world, one miserable person at a time. He, a highly non-commital, self-doubting man, reliving his youth, starting a new career. They met at a party. A charged friendship grew stronger for years. Their bond strengthened with each day, each phone call, each email, each text message sharing feelings, insecurities, victories, and defeats. They became each other’s support system in an addictive way. Emotions grew; words brought them closer, expectations of each other became more serious. Until one night, after one too many perfectly paired glasses of wine, she began questioning her life, their relationship, his feelings, the future. He shut down. They have not talked since. She’d try again.

With each argument, each low, each dismissive conversation, the same thought came to them- if I only try harder, if only I am more patient, more loving, more caring, more nurturing. If I only give more…more time, more space, more attention, more of me. If I tried harder, I could have made it better…If only I….There is no happy ending; no ending at all. Just trying…

…in the name of not trying very hard at all and still being ecstatic- easy, simple, surprising- truffled Brussel sprout salad.

Truffled Brussel Sprout Salad

Ingredients: 1/2 pound brussel sprouts; 2 tablespoons of white truffle oil; 2 tablespoons to extra virgin olive oil; 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice; salt and pepper to taste; 4 ounces Pecorino Toscano cheese, shaved; chopped parsley for garnish.

Make the dressing by combining the oils, lemon juice, and salt. Shave brussel sprouts thin on a mandolin. Toss with the dressing. Top with the shaved cheese. Add salt and pepper as needed and garnish with parsley.

Photography by Jennifer Olson.

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  • Monet

    Goodness…I just love your posts. Such great writing here. I was transfixed by these short character sketches. And then of course, you wow me with a great recipe. This is my kind of blog :-) Thank you for sharing, sweet friend!

  • Janis

    Ok you hooked me in! What a great post. What a perfectly simple and great recipe!

  • gigabiting

    Wonderful character insights. My guess is it resonates much more with women than men. But brussels sprouts transcend gender.

  • Evan Thomas

    Simple and delicious are the best kinds of recipes. This looks great! I love brussels

  • The Mom Chef

    I'm the only fan of Brussels sprouts in the house, but this does look wonderful to me.

  • Barbara | VinoLuciStyle

    I was a woman who tried too hard but he was involved with someone else and easier to blame me than take responsibility for his own flaws.

    That was a long time ago but I've recently realized that through all those years of raising our kids alone and dealing with other issues that one of the lasting things I could change was…Brussels sprouts. He didn't like them and they left my mind as a possibility.

    That recently changed with a combination of roasted sprouts and red cabbage that has me in LOVE with them. Oh much better than him! This looks fabulous…now I have to find some truffle oil!

  • Susan Lindquist

    Unlike your simple beautiful salad, relationships are often complex messy affairs and sometimes, though we try and try again, the ingredients just don't add up or don't meld well over time, or just separate out … then, all we can say is "Damn, I thought this was going to work! "