The first time I paid much attention to the Oscars was 2013. I think it was mostly coincidence— it was the first time I happened to have seen enough of the films and recognized a decent number of the people up for awards, namely my longtime crush, Anne Hathaway. A little heartbroken by both her considerable haircut and recent marriage, I was nonetheless there, metaphorically speaking, to cheer her on when she won Best Supporting Actress.
That was the first time, too, that I realized it was the first time I had paid much attention. Looking back to even the previous year, many of the winners and nominees had only rung a distant bell, and I had no memory of prior awards shows. I must have felt like I was missing out because, when I worked at the Hekman Library that summer, I spent basically all my free time at the desk reading trivia and making up for lost time following the awards circuit on IMDb.
I have a very good memory for numbers and tidbits, and I think I was at an age where I could watch and think about film a little more intentionally, so film awards became a mild obsession. Even outside work, reading numerical data on the website was fun for me. Of course, on top of that, I’ve watched the last several ceremonies intently and gotten probably a little too involved in the results. I even watched last month’s nomination announcements (which no one watches) on my phone while I showered before work.
But as of now, somehow, the thing I’m looking forward to most this evening is seeing if my homemade kimchi is ready. I got it all packed into the jar around 8:00 Thursday evening, and Robin Ha, whose recipe I’m referencing says it should take a day, maybe two, some recipes say more, to ferment properly.
I’ve been thinking for months now, since I realized my February post would show up on the day of the 91st Academy Awards, about what to write about them. I was leaning mostly towards talking about the issue of acknowledging authorship in film. Or I could’ve written, I suppose, about which films I think should win awards or should have been nominated. Or I could’ve written about any number of other things related to the Oscars, but I could write about any of those things any year, and many people do.
Something along the way, even since the nominations were announced a month ago, has made me not really care about the ceremony tonight. Right now, the obsessive anticipation I once had for the results has been sealed in a jar with kimchi.
What makes me all the more anxious about it is that I didn’t totally do it properly. Because I chose to use Brussels sprouts instead of napa cabbage, I’m wondering if the salt bath, crucial for removing bad bacteria, didn’t penetrate enough into the tightly packed leaves. Because the jar I had was too big, I decided to add a cup or two of water, and then I did my best to inflate a Ziploc bag inside the jar because you can’t have too much oxygen in there. But maybe the water will dilute the flavor too much or somehow interfere with the fermentation, and the bag had just been lying around on the table for a few days, not particularly sterilely.
Maybe it’s just that I haven’t gotten around to seeing enough films this year to be excited, and maybe that will be different next year. Though, and it’s kind of pathetic to say at twenty-three turning twenty-four, I don’t really have the same energy I used to for watching movies. Maybe, almost two years after graduating with a film major that I haven’t actively worked with, that just feels a little farther away from the center of identity.
And that’s fine. I really don’t think you can nurture all of your hobbies and interests at the same time. I certainly can’t; I have too many. Right now, I like putting kimchi in a bowl of rice with a fried egg for breakfast, and I finally got around to buying gochugaru so I could make my own. Maybe a weird thing about being a recently wed adult is that you like being thrifty and crafty to save money on meals, but I’ve always loved learning about and making food.
It’s not like I can’t do other things while the kimchi is sitting out, but I don’t feel the need for one of those things to be watching the Oscars. I’ve already seen a few bubbles rise—the concoction will be lightly effervescent when it’s ready—and hopefully I’ll be able to see more tonight.
Jeffrey (‘17) ultimately settled on studying film and media studies and French, though food is his greatest passion. He lives in Grand Rapids and is trying to teach himself computer science so he can, among other things, cyberbully Elon Musk.