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  1. shivaree
    "Oh the passenger/ he rides and he rides/ he looks though his window/ what does he see?" (The Passenger by Iggy Pop)

    Nowadays, it's not often that I do watch the Food Network. I mostly turn to it out of habit. The evening time is the worst as far as the Food Network goes. The only thing they show is competition shows or their own version of reality shows, which suck. The other night they were showing another competition show, but the difference in this competition show are the people who are competing. They're not chefs. They're not professionals; just regular home cooks with good recipes, according to the Food Network. I would've just changed it, but this woman competing looked familiar, so I stayed to watch. Her name is Camilla, and it took me a couple of minutes to realize where I've seen her before. Last time I saw Camilla, she was on the Food Network competing at another cooking competition. But that show took place at an actual cooking competition location and not the Food Network studios where I was watching Camilla cook presently. This is what I know about Camilla: she loves to cook, she's not in the food industry, she works in an office somewhere; doing "office stuff", I believe she's from Texas or California, but she has a fairly small kitchen where she develops all her recipes. She won that competition; it was for a chicken recipe.

    Now I'm watching Camilla compete once more for the best cookie recipe. (Again according to the Food Network.) The competition is split into 3 different segments: 1. The best chocolate chip cookie recipe 2. The best bar cookie recipe 3. The best OVERALL cookie recipe. You want to win #3, then you get $10,000 and lots of bragging rights about your recipe. Camilla won for the best bar cookie recipe and now she is up against the winner of the best chocolate chip recipe. Their score from their respective competitions determines the winner for best OVERALL cookie recipe. The chocolate chip winner got a 99. Camilla looked scared; she knew her chances were slim. The only way Camilla could be called grand prize winner now and get $10,000 is if she got 100 on her bar cookie recipe.

    Camilla won. Camilla looked shocked. The chocolate chip winner looked shocked. I was shocked! I couldn't believe she had won by one point! Her recipe wasn't particularly inventive or creative. It was just a bar cookie; chocolate in the middle, crushed cashews on top. Sure it was probably good, but the best? And $10,000 worthy?
    It made me think about Camilla's life. Is she charmed? Was she just born a winner? Are there such things as born winners and born losers?

    Disturbed, I changed the channel and I came upon a reality show called "The first 48 hours". It's a reality crime show where cameras follow detectives who try and solve a murder within the first 48 hours, hence the name. This particular episode had a detective questioning a woman who was a witness at the scene of the crime. They pressed her hard for details, they were even suspicious that she may have been involved somehow resulting in the victim's death. The woman told her story and maintained her innocence. In the end, the detectives were convinced that she was just a witness and had nothing to do with the crime. They let her go. On her way out another detective and her struck up a conversation. It turns out, they were born on the same day.
    She said, "Do you want to switch lives?" They laughed uncomfortably at the comment.
    She continued, "I went to 4 different colleges too. I just couldn't get to where you are." She shook her head, regretfully.
    Why couldn't she? Again, I had to think about this woman's life. She could've very well had Camilla's life, and Camilla could've had hers. Or are our paths already laid out for us; and in fact there is no such thing as "free will" as we are lead to believe. Is it, "set in stone"?

    I read an article the other day, about how our socioeconomic and cultural environment have an impact on our health and longevity. It's not our genes or diet and exercise that determine our good health anymore. It does to a certain point but unfortunately, according to this article, it also depends on the size of our bank account, the color of our skin, and where we live. The woman in the crime TV show just happens to be black and lives in a low income neighborhood. Camilla just happens to be white. Was it the fact that Camilla makes enough money and lives in a fairly secure neighborhood that she is able to achieve greatness with her cooking? The idea seems far fetched, but not unlikely. Maybe its education? The woman on the crime TV show said she went to 4 different colleges. For whatever reason she never finished or just "never got there", she realized the importance of an education and the possibility that an education could get her out of her situation and tried 4 times. Unfortunately the limited resources available in lower income neighborhoods as far as education and financial help go, require those seeking help to navigate through some incredibly frustrating red tape. There are those inspirational stories of people who were able to pull themselves out of a seemingly grim future and be successful. Inspirational though they may be, these stories are few and far between.... and getting fewer every day.

    So are we doomed? Have our destinies already been determined? Was Forrest Gump's mama wrong and not everyone gets the same opportunity? Perhaps, our opportunities are already here; waiting for us, but we have been blinded by battling our internal conflicts for too long that we just never noticed.

    The moral of the story is: Money does buy you happiness and great cookie recipes too...

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