Stillness and Snow

It snowed a few days ago. It snowed and now it's in the mid to high 40s and still light at 7. Such is March. The light at 7pm thing is lovely I'm sure for 9-5ers, but since I've recently joined the ranks of 6-2ers, it just means that for me it is dark dark dark when I wake up and my body thinks the light means we should stay up later. So I find it less than lovely. The snow, though, the snow I find lovely. Always. The snow softens and muffles. The world becomes quieter and slower. I am quiet by nature but I am not slow. Slow is the antithesis of my nature. And any slowness that may have been native has been scrubbed out by the ever important sense of urgency necessary in my profession. I am not frantic or hectic in my speediness. It is generally an efficient, neat quickness. A quickness that colors right inside the lines.

When it snows lines blur.

And when the outside world become soft and blurry, it's easier to stay soft and blurry inside. I need some blurring. Blurring and stillness. I find myself craving stillness. I want to live in the same place and work at the same job. I want to sit at the same table with the same tap tap tap of laptop keys. I want to know what it's like for my brain to just quietly fall asleep each night. It is hard to remain still when I don't even know how to be slow.

It is hard to be slow when I hold myself to exacting, precise standards. Not perfectionism, just lines and boxes to stay within. Boxes I would never demand hold somebody else. But boxes I think should hold me. I feel made up of sharp angles and hard lines and hard lines must be maintained.

The same hard lines I maintain to keep myself contained, to keep from falling apart or risking too much  have become exhausting themselves. An impossible game of pickup sticks.

So. Slowness. A continued forced reorder.

Thou mayest. Thou mayest not.

Bits & Pieces: Feelings and Job Updates

So here is the reality of the last few weeks. For the first week after getting laid off I was nauseous every day. Every. Single. Day. I knew I would find another job but that didn't keep the sadness then anger than anxiety at bay. By that Friday I was actually sick, not just anxiety sick. I basically spent the entire weekend in bed, snotty, hacking, fevery and gross. Even sick I managed to send out a second volley of resumes because sickness does not anxiety cure (unlike having a source of income).

My motivation to show up for work for the next week was pretty non existent, both because I was sick as hell and because I had mostly moved onto anger. I had poured all my creative energy into my job and, in the end, gotten nothing in return. There had been jobs that would've been better career moves for me, jobs that would've given me health insurance, but no, I believed in the potential of Je & Jo and I believed that I'd be working for people just as committed and concerned about taking their business to the next level as I was. And I'm honestly not sure they were. And, fuck, I HAD JUST GOTTEN SALARY AND PAID TIME OFF, which had lulled me into an apparently false sense of security. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me.

Look, I've never been much for routine, I'm more of a "running from one falling star to another" sort of girl. I'm used to getting bored and wanting change constantly. When I got laid off last year, I was relieved. I was excited about my new job prospects. This year I was resistant, I applied to jobs because I had to. I took the job I knew objectively made the most sense for me careerwise and for the things I like to do. I'll be honest, I wasn't excited. I wasn't not excited, I just wasn't really anything. For once, I didn't actually want my life to change.

I've now worked at my new job for five days. I'm starting out with a six day week and I've gone through close to 15o pounds of flour in the last five days. This is real baker life and I've kind of missed it. My arms are not as sore as I've thought they would be (today I mixed a batch of brownies that involved 4 pounds of butter and 2.75 pounds of chocolate BY HAND and that's been pretty typical of my week) but I feel pretty physically exhausted by the end of the day. It's a good feeling. I'm using skills I haven't used in a while and using them well. My boss and I assembly lined some galettes today and worked easily and efficiently as a team. I'm starting to actually get excited.

I won't say I'm excited about waking up at 4:45am or going back to working weekends, but I will say that I think the shake up in routine is good for me. My commute is half what it used to be and there are many more daylight hours in my life. They feed me family meal at work. It's a pretty seasonal/California cuisine/nouveau American sort of place so I've been eating pretty clean which makes me crave more clean food and cook at home more. I have a feeling my new schedule might get lonely pretty soon, but right now I feel like I've been given a blank slate. I've been forced to completely reorganize/prioritize my time. Which is nice. Each day I get to say "So what is it I do on <insert day here> at 5pm now?" and do whatever the fuck I want. At 8am, the morning bake off has been picked up and I can walk to get a coffee at Five Leaves. At 3pm I usually have snack time at home. This week has involved a lot of reading and trying to not nap, some cooking, some cleaning and a little pre bedtime yoga. I think the pre bedtime yoga is here to stay.

Also, the coffee break. OBVS.

In Flux

I have a new job. I think I like it. I made pate a choux today for the first time in years and it turns out I still know how to make pate a choux so that's pretty cool. Actually, it turns out every time I'm terrified I've forgotten a technique hammered into me at culinary school, I'm wrong. (please don't ask me to make a sugar show piece because I have a feeling that's when I would be right)

I don't know my new schedule yet. I know have to go in at 6:15 tomorrow and 7:15 on the weekend days. I don't know what my life is going to look like anymore and it's something I'm really struggling with because, guys, despite what it may sound like sometimes, I really like my life. Or liked my life.

It's weird to be under somebody else again. It's weird to know that I'm probably out of the weekend brunch game. I'm probably out of the weekend going out game all together. I hang out in the same places and with the same people almost every weekend. No more.

I'm back to Real Chef life.

My arms are going to be sore tomorrow, because my beefy baker arms are not as strong as they once were but are now back to making quantities they used to make. I am going to be tired tomorrow, because I have to wake up at an hour with which I've only been familiar drunkenly falling asleep in the past year.

Things are in flux and I don't know how I feel about it. I used to be the girl who hated routine and felt stuck living somewhere after six months but after getting laid off two years in a row, after two years of casual relationships, I'd just like things to stick around for a while, y'know? But I also no longer really expect anything to.

So I guess I'm happy about my new job. I get to bake things and they give me money.

And everything starts all over again.

Piles of Good Things

I mention my living room window a lot. I constantly take pictures of it. It's a large window facing out to the street with a ledge big enough to be a secret writing place before we filled it with things. It's too cold to sit on the ledge next to it and read or write right now but when the Spring comes our rusty lanterns and candles and bottles will have to move. Currently it's set up for Winter, for coziness. In the evening one of us usually plugs in the twinkle lights and lights the candles. In that part of the living room we have a floor lamp that provides a warmer glow than the overhead lights. Sometimes even when all the other lights are out, the twinkle lights get left on for the last roommate home. You can see it coming from down the block and I don't know if I've ever had something so visually comforting to come home to. It's a little thing. The kind of little thing I've been trying to pay more attention to. I worry sometimes about the things I won't remember. I think because I take less pictures these days. I don't keep a journal, just this blog. Journals are for the little things. The minutiae of the day to day that actually make up a life. The books I've been reading this year make me think it's time for a journal again.

I wonder which things are important and which things aren't. Sometimes I worry because I haven't been in a serious relationship for so long that I don't know how to do it any more, that all these little ones shouldn't have happened. That they were useless. When you can look back and say "here is six years I dated this person, here is the year I spent arguing with another man and there's that year where I moved in with somebody too quickly" those seem like real solid things. Solid things that aren't just fleeting moments like a head leaning against yours or a car covered in snow.

But always, the little things are the things that matter. I remember leaning up against Jacob at a bowling alley, months before we dated, I remember painting pottery and the sound of the rain during our first kiss. I remember a moment watching "Adaptation" being the first time he learned I would always flinch and close my eyes during a car crash, holding back a panic attack. Those are the early things, the things that happened ten years ago and I remember them.  The relationship wasn't made of this block of six years, or graduating high school, or changing jobs or the things that seemed like everything at the time. Those affected it, but the relationship was made of the tiny moments, good and bad.

I can tell you how I felt the first time Che and I walked around his property and he showed me his favorite view. Or when Matt left me a secret note on the inside flap of my alka seltzer box when I had a kidney infection.

The lumberjack faded away on me and I oddly felt nothing. I was sick and dealing with looming unemployment and maybe I just didn't have enough emotional energy. Maybe I always thought our lives were too different for it to work anyways. Or maybe I've just come to accept that even if I really like somebody, it's ok if they're not the one. It doesn't mean I'm not still looking for my penguin but I can take the way he said my name or put his arm around me whenever we crossed streets against the light to hurry me to safety and add them to the pile of good things and move on.

If this isn't nice

I am awful and cranky most days. Truly awful. I want to remember the little things more. I don't mean to notice them and think that pleasure I get from noticing them will make everything better. I just want to know that when I look back the thing I'll remember isn't getting laid off or sifting through endless descriptions of jobs I don't want, it'll be things like Trouble and the snow.

Except that was last year and this is this year and this year it's a string of red lights against red velvet curtains. Trusting a man to lead me somewhere small and out of the way and perfect. Sitting down just in time for 16 Tons and happy memories of folk music and my childhood. Feeling my annoyance at my job, my life, the evening's hectic planning melt away as I smiled involuntarily, loving it like he said I would. It's the proprietary way he drinks my beer without asking and his head leaning against mine when the train gets stuck between stations long enough for me to believe we have actually found our way into one of the circles of Hell. Not knowing where things are going and learning to relinquish control.

This month it's the children circling around me each yelling the same question.

What are we making?

What are we making?

What are we making?

The confidence that comes from waiting for them to settle down, clearly explaining and watching and checking in with each student, knowing I'm in my element. Showing the children the bright mix of roasted vegetables they've created. Their eagerness to try a bowl.

This week it's the stark contrast of leafless trees against the bright blue sky. The thing I have wanted tattooed on my body for longest and most.

Valentine's with my roommate. Creamy burrata and a jar of tiramisu. Later, all three of us on the couch. Moonstruck and a bottle of wine. Cozy.

The promise of more snow, of seasons soon to be changing and something new right around the corner.

Trouble (reprise)

Friday I got a text from Trouble. It was surprising since I hadn't heard from him at all since the last time I saw him nine months ago. I was starting to feel like the nature of our relationship was changing and if I had to put money on it, I'd guess he felt similarly and feral catted his way out of there. It was an innocuous enough text in the middle of the afternoon, so once I got over the initial surprise and finished my confused staring at his name (surely my phone was wrong and somebody else had sent me a 'long time no see' message) I responded with a standard innocuous response asking about life. He told me he'd had a cancelled flight and had to ride out the blizzard in Astoria instead of Florida, that storm made him think of the time he came over to my place and it snowed over night.

I had forgotten that it snowed on my birthday last year. That when he found me at the back of the bar he told me I looked pretty, like myself because the last time he had seen me I was vintage and mink and red velvet heels. I remembered the snowflakes were fat and lazy. The quietness of snow blanketed Astoria at 3am. We made out in his car and when we came up for the air the car was coated in snow, hiding us from the outside world. I remembered how vulnerable I felt letting him come to my house for once but how oddly happy I was to feel that vulnerability. And I remembered that he knew it. Because I told him. That he was exceptionally sweet about it. That in the morning he did that thing that makes it so I can only ever describe his grin as boyish (though I hate myself for the cliché), kissed me and thanked me for letting him stay the night.

I smiled to myself because everything about that night was lovely and good.

But I remembered more and I didn't write back.

To My One True Love

photo-8 Two years ago I moved to New York.

I quit my job. I broke up with my boyfriend. I dropped my classes. I packed my bags.

There are things that are the same and things that are different.

The streets were piled high with snow when I arrived, like they are now. 2011 was a normal New York Winter. One where people didn't freak out about it snowing eight inches for just one day because that's just what happens in Winter. I remember it snowed well into March when Ruby came to visit for Spring break. Or was that April? It was a long winter but I got to spend a lot of time walking through Central Park in the snow. Time reminding me of the magic of my city love.

When I moved I had spent eight years in relationships. Eight years. Now I've spent the last two years more or less single. I didn't know how to create a life that wasn't built on somebody else's, that wasn't always slightly compromised. Now I don't know if I remember how to fit somebody into the life I've made. I have moments when I don't know if I even really want to and moments when I know with absolute certainty that I do. 87% of the time I do.

I was job searching then and I'm job searching now. I had taken a break from the culinary world and was terrified to get back into it. I couldn't afford to be too choosy about where I worked. I didn't have any idea what I wanted. Now I'm mostly happy to be back in the kitchen. My ideas about what I want my career to look like are in flux but I know my strengths and I know my worth. I know I don't have to take the first job that comes along even though from my preliminary interview that first job looks pretty great.

I lived in Queens then. I live in Brooklyn now. My hair was long and I was planning on chopping it off. Now my hair has been short for long enough that I'm fairly certain I'm growing it out. I miss my curly mane.

I've lived in two different houses and three different rooms. I've worked at three different jobs, gotten one promotion and been laid off twice. I've made it to the third date a number of times but rarely past that. I've lost my monthly unlimited card twice, each time with only a week left. I know it's not that hard to jump a turnstile. I've had one phone stolen. I know that rotating beds creak when they spin and can actually be pretty distracting. I no longer know how many times I've gotten drunk from free wine after hours at the American Museum of Natural History. I no longer know how many people I've met here that have moved back home or out of town. I don't know how many people I know now that won't be in the city next year. I've made many friends and I've lost a few.

I've worked every hour of the day.  I worked 80 hours a week for two weeks straight. There might be days where I got paid more for crying in the walk in than for mixing dough. I've gone straight from a bar to the kitchen and baked in my slip. I know what a 50 lb block of butter looks like.

I've made out in cabs and cried on the subway and thrown up over the edge of the train platform. The number of miles I've walked is easily in the hundreds, if not at least a thousand.

I've sung along to "This Land is Your Land" with a crowd of people during an encore that involved three bands and an 80 degree Summer night in the middle of Central Park. I've had a nightclub sing me "Happy Birthday".

When I moved I came down with a massive case of "wherever you go there you are" because when I moved I had mostly been unhappy and it turns out that doesn't change overnight.

Real change takes time.

But the space away from expectations and shoulds, the space to focus on myself, the decision to be in the place I've always wanted to be has helped that change take place.

So here's to you, New York, on our two year anniversary - may there be many more to come.

DipticDiptic-1

Falling in Love

I'm sitting with the intention of writing. It's a struggle lately. Every word feels like I'm pulling it kicking and screaming out of my brain, but I know, I know the only way to write is to write. So I'm sitting here, listening to First Aid Kit on repeat and writing. I'm not writing. I'm wondering if a lumberjack has texted me again. He hasn't. I know, but I check my phone anyway, maybe I didn't hear it vibrate. I hate this part of dating. The way my brain works. We're writing right now, brain. We've been on three dates. Maybe he'll never text again. We're always going to write, we know our relationship to it, we're committed. Not monogamous, because there's always baking, but committed. Let's put our focus there. I'm falling in love with neighborhood again. I'm constantly falling in and out of love with it. The tree lined blocks are perfect covered in snow. I bought a cup of grits with pesto, jalapeno sauce, a soft boiled egg and thick bacon from a window this afternoon. I'm falling in love with food again. I've been too in love with alcohol and too isolated at work to remember how much I value food. Rich Momofuku ramen. Brisket breakfast tacos. Fully loaded grits.

I've been putting up a pretty good front these past two months and I'm falling in love with not putting on a front. Little things. On my first date with the aforementioned lumberjack I almost didn't wear perfume because he seemed like the kind of man who wouldn't be into that. But I'm the kind of woman who wears make up and perfume when she wants to. Take it or leave it. I'm invisible on gchat a lot of the time because I don't want to talk all the time. Or I don't want to talk to everybody all the time. I've spent a lot of time internet absent because it felt like an obligation, a thing with which I needed to keep up. I took a sick day instead of powering through. You don't always have to power through, Alana Margaret. Sometimes you'll get further by taking a second, a minute, a day to power down. There is value in powering down. You are not the kind of person that can always be on without the toll being heavy.

I'm falling out of love with alcohol. Drinking seems unappealing. Being hungover doesn't even seem remotely worth it. Drinking makes it easier to power through but I'm taking a break from powering through.

Breathing. I want to breath. I can't catch my breath lately. Literally. The more exhausted I become, the worse my asthma. My body is good at this. It says stop when my brain refuses to. It knows when I am mentally unwell and turns it into something physical. It forces me to pay attention.

I am twenty-seven and I am still always relearning the difference between standing right out on the edge and pushing myself over it.

A good friend once told me that I shouldn't even have a job because even unemployed I managed to overschedule myself. It was probably three and a half years ago. I still think about it. About how hard I push and how well he knew and tolerated that about me. The way he's one of the few people I always forgave for being late, something I'd never forgive in myself and generally cannot abide in others. The way I'd nudge him into being more focused and the way he'd convince me to relax. We had only been back in each other's lives for maybe 6 months after four years absent at the time but our dynamic was immediately the same as it had been third grade through high school.

Nobody encourages me to calm down here. Nobody values it. It's a double-edged sword, the thing that makes me feel so at home in New York but a thing that makes me lose my health and my sanity if I don't monitor myself.

I think I am falling in love with monitoring myself.

Kick it in, Patti Lee

A lot of my year-end lists had to do with wanting to both consume more consciously and create more consciously. Less blogging/more writing one list reminds me. I don't really know what it means, but I know it when I see it.

I've written before about struggling with identifying as a creative. I feel like because I struggle with the identity, because I don't give myself fully to it, or at least to what I think it's supposed to be, that I'm not really, that I'm just faking it.

The second book I read this year was "Just Kids" by Patti Smith and, fuck, if that book doesn't make you want to give it all up and become a starving artist, I don't know what will. I guess if that book doesn't make you want to give it all up and become a starving artist then you really don't put the same value on creating that I do. I guess it turns out I value creating a lot.

I've never wanted to write a novel. Or fiction at all, really. I've never wanted to write a memoir or be a published author. I know I'm happier when I make space in my life to write. I know the more I write, the more I write. I don't know how to not write any more than I know hot to not bake. I'm much better at not sleeping than not doing either of those things.

The job for which I had an interview today is for yet another place that just opened. A BBQ joint this time. It should scare me more, working for another startup. But honestly, it's what I'm good at it. They need somebody to create and develop a pie program who is really interested in approaching everything from an R&D stand point (seriously, I'd get paid to eat pie, what is my life?) and I'm a research and development kind of gal. I'm also a flaky dough pastry kind of gal. It sounds like they've constructed a culture that is really focused on and values collaborating and creating. I've felt really stuck creatively lately and very confined by the size and budget of my current job, maybe this could be the thing that gets me out of my rut.

There's nothing more to it I just get through it

I wake up in the same position every morning. Curled on my left side, snuggling a very ragged Wild Thing so tightly it couldn't possibly draw enough breath to roar its terrible roar. I've never learned how to sleep in the middle of the bed, a relic of getting my first grown up sized bed in the middle of a six-year relationship I suppose. Or maybe because it just seems unnecessary, I don't move around in my sleep, I cover a quarter of the mattress, no more. I can't sleep in any other position. I have this thing I do. This thing where I go and go and go and go. I stop when I'm sick and can't bear to uncurl myself in the morning. All on or all off. I've spent most of the last week either at work or in bed. I took a sick day on Tuesday when I woke up barely able to speak and slept and slept and finally woke up feeling well enough to manage going to cook with kids in the evening and a late night date. A third date, with a tattooed, nerdy, Jewy lumberjack who teases me for wearing a watch, who is not as safe and correct a life decision as a nice Jewish doctor who values timeliness, but makes me chamomile tea and asks permission to pay for meals which I find adorable, so I'll take the risk. Wednesday I worked a very short day and then had delicious delicious Szechuan, which tastes like home because I am always surprised by how bland Chinese food is outside of the Bay Area, even here in New York. As soon as I got home I passed out. Work. Sleep. Work. Sleep. Repeat repeat repeat.

Yesterday I kind of got laid off but not really. Lets not keep doing this every year. I am not without a job immediately and really nobody knows how things will work at the shop without me there so things are mostly just up in the air. It did seem a little too good to be true. To have found that sweet spot where I got paid just enough to live off of but also got to pursue outside interests. Maybe this is the time small businesses and I break up for good.

It'll be fine. I'll find another job and I'm not angry. My employers had a hard reality check in terms of what it means to own and run a small business and they are not struggling with all this less than me.

Which is not to say that I'm happy or even relieved like I was when I got laid off last year. I've spent the day sending out some resumes, watching cheesy television and staring at the ceiling filled with existential angst. I don't want to take the wrong job but I don't know what the right job looks like. I don't want to live paycheck to paycheck. I would really like health insurance. I'd prefer not to work more than 45 hours a week. I do not want to hate my life. Or have a job that makes me hate a thing I am passionate about. I'm willing to work day time production hours or restaurant hours but I do not want to work overnight or early morning baker hours if I can avoid it. I am too old for that shit. And too susceptible to anxiety/depression when I fuck with my sleep schedule that way. I'm terrified of having to give up my volunteer commitments. That is the thing I will potentially hate most about this situation.

Things come together and things fall apart.

And I'm frightened by those who can't see it

I am certain. I have great clarity surrounding the things I want. I don't know how to get them all but I feel sure in my likes and dislikes, my values my worth. I am terrified. I know that what I want is to settle down. That I want to date somebody that is in it for the long haul. I know this not in an urgent 'a relationship will make me happy and complete my life' way, but in a calm 'this is a thing I value and a risk I want to take' way. I'm terrified of myself, of my past, of my ability to get lost in another person. I'm terrified of liking somebody before they know that I am flawed. That sometimes I live in the Bell Jar.

I am content. I like my home. I like our window of booze bottle candle holders, our rusty old lanterns, the snow webs and twinkle lights. I like our bar and I like my room. I'm happy with my extracurriculars, ready to get back to the kids I haven't seen for a month.

I am weary. I feel tired, in my bones. I feel the urge to just shout "stop" at the world for a moment. Just stop. Give me one day of frozen time. One day to rest and catch up and not feel behind. One day where I don't dread going to sleep at night because I'm not ready for another day to come.

I am elated. For the first time in years, my New Year's and my birthday were everything I wanted them to be. No let downs, just good good friends and food and music and dancing. I finally have paid time off back in my life. I can call in sick for work. I can actually go home for a week. I can NOT FREAK OUT. I have a Crush. And maybe another one developing.

I am a mixed bag. Life is a mixed bag, it is hard and wonderful and lovely and terrible and calm and frenetic and overwhelming and underwhelming and just right. It is all of those things. And it will never stop being all those things. I will never stop being all those things.

I am coming to terms with the unbearable dichotomy of being.

Allons-y

I'm going on a third (!) date with The Doctor this week (we're calling him 'The Doctor' because I like any chance to pretend I'm actually in Doctor Who and also because he's literally a doctor, but mostly the first thing). I've decided I like him. I don't know if I like like him yet. But I like him. He's kind of super awkward which brings out all the super awkward in me and this makes absolutely no sense, but I like that. He's the first OkC date I've ever been on where a) it wasn't boring and b) I didn't feel like I was putting on a show.

After my date with Chuck Klosterman and my realizations about kissing the wrong people I also realized that I was just straight up doing dating wrong. Until The Doctor, I had always gone on OkC dates with one goal, to procure a second date. It turns out I'm really good at procuring second dates with people I actually have no interest in dating. I know the things to say and the parts of myself to play up and the parts to hide and an unfortunate tendency to kiss people when I've been drinking. When I went on my date with The Doctor, I changed my attitude. No longer was I going to try to get a second date, I wasn't going to just show some smoother over version of what I could offer but I was just going to be me and let the guy do the proving that I would want to go on a second date with him. Novel idea, right? Actually finding out if I like somebody before jumping straight into convincing them they want to make out with me?

It's weird, right? Online dating is weird. Because in real life you probably like somebody a lot before you go on a date with them, but in online dating you go on dates and try to figure out if you're going to like that person a lot in the future. I've always felt a lot of pressure to try to create that first date feeling you get when going on a date with somebody for whom you already have feelings which just doesn't work. It's not the same. It actually cannot be the same.

The Doctor and I just seem to be figuring out if we'd like to keep getting to know each other better and so far the answer is 'yes'.

It probably helps that we haven't even kissed.

Also that he laughed when I joked about not wanting to meet new people ever and in this round of setting up a date suggested we drink BEFORE eating this time to help with our extreme social awkwardness.

I may have not decided if I like like him yet, but I think he's definitely my people. I could like him a lot in the future. Maybe even the near one.

Yes, I do! I do like your party hat!

208306_516445119615_1123321980_nOn my last night as a twenty-six year old, I donned a party hat that I had wrapped in Christmas tree garland, ate chicken and waffles with eight of my favorite of people (also in party hats, though less sparkly ones), met up with more friends to dance in a Bulgarian club until midnight when the DJ called my name and had the entire club sing me happy birthday and then moved onto another club where the 90s rap was in a language I could actually understand and continued dancing until 3am. Other highlights included: being serenaded on the street, being prayed over, getting whirled around and dipped for an intense minute on the dance floor, my friend's commitment to keeping the party hats on and looking over at a table and realizing my friends had already purchased my next four rounds.

The night started out a little rough with a few last-minute cancellations from friends and a large party taking their sweet sweet time at our table so we didn't actually get seated until 45 minutes later than when I had made my reservation, but it ended up being everything that I wanted it to be. Truly everything.

New York, sometimes when you're on, you're really fucking on.

Lets do this, twenty-seven.

If I'm not more excited about just having spent an evening with you than I would've been about reading my book, it's not going to work

"I like that you just used the same word to describe your date with Chuck Klosterman and Treasure Island" We were discussing Elise's bachelorette party and I had said "Treasure Island is a fine hotel, it's ok, there's nothing wrong with it" which is word for word what I had just said about my date with Chuck Klosterman's thirty year old doppleganger.

Look, the date was FINE. We went to a french restaurant in midtown. He impressed me by picking a time and location (lets not talk about how this is actually a standard that impresses me these days) and the food was decent french food. I had steak frites. My steak was cooked the way I ordered and my pommes were acceptably frite. It was fine. We talked about music and politics which I'm usually pretty happy to do but it wasn't really that entertaining. I found myself rephrasing jokes so that they didn't rely on sarcasm or my normal deadpan humor because I was fairly certain he would actually take me seriously. Luckily, he found me charming even though I thought I was being pretty effing boring. So. It was fine. We went to a midtown bar with A LOT of beer and when I realized he was making "I want to make out with you eyes" at me, I decided maybe I was done for the evening. Up until then, nothing had gone horrifically wrong so I figured it might pick up and I'd stick with it (again, MY STANDARDS ARE REALLY HIGH THESE DAYS). But I didn't really want to make out with him, so time to pack it in. We walked to the train together and when he leaned in to kiss me...

I kissed him back. Because a) I'm a confusing asshole and b) I'll be the first to admit that I'm really really fucking awful at dating. I've recently realized that I'm really great at kissing people that don't matter but not good at kissing people I would actually like to kiss. Y'know, the people it would be scary to kiss because it would hurt if they didn't want to kiss back, or if they only wanted to kiss back for a little while. So I kiss the people that don't matter so I can't fail at kissing the ones that do. And if you're not 100% certain there's a larger life metaphor there, then you're probably in the same bad at dating boat that I am.

Of course, Chuck Klosterman asked me on a second date the next morning. Having not actually described the date to anybody, I agreed because it had been a fine date and he's not a bad kisser and I am overly generous with second chances. Also, still a misleading asshole. I then described the date to basically everyone I talked to for the rest of the weekend, everyone from people who don't know me that well to people I like more than books (it was supposed to be my down weekend) and every time, as I talked about the date, I realized even more that I had no interest in this guy. Every time the person I was talking to told me I was crazy for going on a second date.

The second date got cancelled, but not because I was woman enough to just tell him I wasn't interested. It got cancelled because I was locked in epic battle with the ice cream machine the day before a fairly large wholesale order needed to go out and I had no idea when I was going to get it working again and, consequently, when I'd be able to leave work. He was incredibly sweet about it, checking in throughout the evening to see how I was doing with the ice cream and basically being the opposite of Gaius Baltar, who, earlier in the week, asked if I'd like to come over and have naked time with him right after I told him I was exhausted and sick. Between those two and the medical assistant that hit on me while testing my urine, it was a really good week for those exceedingly high standards I mentioned earlier.

I will still probably give Chuck Klosterman a second chance because he was sweet about me cancelling our date and he really, genuinely seems like a nice guy. He's probably still going to be boring. He's definitely still going to look like thirty year old Chuck Klosterman. I'm probably still going to send mixed messages.

Tomorrow I have a date with a different guy that likes Ayn Rand and Top 40 music.

I'm definitely doing this wrong.

And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.

2012 was a good year for me. It seems strange to say that. I got laid off in early 2012, I swore off online dating sometime last March and my best friend's dad died. But I found a job that didn't make me cry most days, I used the time and energy I had been using on OkC and first dates to do things that made me happy instead and well, there's  no positive spin on a parent dying. I said it was a good year, I definitely didn't say it was perfect. Nothing is coming easy in wrapping up this year. I don't know why. I want to say I didn't have any grand realizations or startling epiphanies, but I don't think that's true. I know I learned things. I know I made changes. I continued the process of settling into myself which seems like it isn't really a thing. I want to say "this year, I became even more myself" but it seems so self evident. It's not though, right? Becoming yourself is hard. Stripping away the concepts of what you should do or the notions of what you're expected to do and listening to what things truly make you happy is surprisingly fucking hard.

I'm reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking right now, and a lot of it is confirming things I already know about myself but a lot of it also making me really examine the parts of myself I respect and the parts I don't. It's had me reexamining my career through a different lens. I put a lot of effort in my early twenties into being good at being a fake extrovert because I got tired of being told I was intimidating or came off bitchy at first when really I'm just slow to warm up and pretty fucking shy. I don't think there's anything wrong with fake extroversion but I've been coming around to thinking of it more as a tool and less as the person I'm supposed to be. I had a lot of quiet time this year. I learned how much better I focus without netflix on in the background and with tweetdeck off. I learned that I am actually totally fine with there being musicless days in the kitchen. I stopped focusing on relationships with acquaintances and formed some really close, real friendships this year because that's something I'm actually much better at.

For a long time I kind of abandoned service work because it wasn't something people around me were super interested in and because I didn't want to come off as too much of a pious goody two shoes. Yes, that is correct. I though that if I went on a volunteering spree people might judge me negatively for being a good person. I don't know, maybe some people have. Who fucking cares because I'm happy and the world is a better place. Like most things in life, it turns out the people that care about you are excited and supportive because the people that actually matter want you to be happy.

2012: The year where I learned the obvious truths.

I spent a lot of time reading in 2012. I scheduled a lot of down days. I saw some fantastic concerts. I watched more tv than I'd like to admit and I still haven't found a yoga studio that I love (2013 pro tip: try actively looking). I'm starting the year stripping away things that aren't making me actively happy and adding more of the things that are. That is, really, my only goal for the year- to give myself permission to go after the things I really want and to say no to things I don't really want.

Nobody will be surprised to learn my word for the year is "Timshel".

Oh look, it's a new blog!

Hello friends! I'm going to go ahead and assume that most of you reading this post have already been spending time with my inner monologue at my old blog, "Don't Hate Me 'Cause I'm Indie and You're Punk" which is a really long name that only ever made sense to about three people. That blog started as a side project when I was still a regular food blogger and has over the last four years turned into a hugely important of my life. I want to say "life changing" is an exaggeration, but it's really not. I wouldn't know most of the people I regularly talk to today and I might not even have finally moved to New York if it weren't for that blog. Because I love that blog too much and to truly let it go, you'll find all the archives here on my new blog home.

I'm not sure I really have a a good answer for why I decided it was time to move my blog, it just felt right. I've been wanting to do it for a while but have been waiting for some name inspiration and finally something stuck.

Things aren't going to be a whole lot different here, it'll just be a whole lot easier to say the title.

Deciding

I don't have a lot to say reflecting on the last year. There are changes I've made that've happened quietly and slowly and some I've jumped up and down excitedly about all over the internet and in real life. There are places where I've fallen off the wagon, places I need to get back on, places I don't, and places I need to jump on for the first time ever. I'm writing (with a pen) my own logical anlysis of what I like in my life RIGHT NOW and what I don't. I'm prioritizing and rearranging. It's a lot of lists, it's not a very exciting read for other people.

I've been catsitting since Friday. First for my coworker and now for my family. It's nice. It's quiet. My roommates are quiet but there's a different stillness to living alone. It matches my brain right now. It's quiet. There are no words or flavors rolling around, trying to force their way out. It makes it easier to focus on this task of making lists. Of deciding what I want my first year of my late twenties to look like.

Twenty seven sounds like a real adult age. I know, I know, I'm still young. But every year I feel more certain of who I am, more settled into myself, more sure of what I want and more decided that I'm too fucking old to not act in accordance with those things.

It's disturbingly easy to not do that.

So, that's where I am. Sitting quietly with cats and actual pen and paper. Deciding.

You Can't Run Away, Bunny

To this day, my mother still calls me Bunny, sometimes Bunny Rabbit. My father used to call me Rabbit. He probably still would. It's strange to me, this pet name used by both my parents. Anything shared by my parents is strange. I forget that at some point they actually had a life together, that this is something they must've come up with together, like grilled cream cheese sandwiches. Those are the only things I really associate with both of them- my lapinesque nickname and grilled cream cheese sandwiches.

My mother recorded bed time stories for me when I was a child. By the time she got clean and was back in my life, I was too old for The Runaway Bunny or The Velveteen Rabbit and had stopped listening to them. I doubt I ever told her how much they meant to me. How many times I listed to them. We're not much for talking about feelings in this family, anyways. But I've been thinking about my nickname. About those stories. I think about the cadence of her reading voice. The slight break in it as she read the Skin Horse's wise words. The words that still make me wonder if I'm less velveteen and more something with sharp edges that breaks too easily. I think about how similar my reading voice is to her's. The cadence I hear in my head as I'm writing.

A friend of mine mentioned grocery shopping late at night a while ago and I found myself instantly transported to early childhood. To walking with my father through aisles crowded with flats mid restocking. To the flourescents that seemed so bright in contrast to the midnight outside. I can hear myself insisting on Honey Nut Cheerios and making him promise to make me mac'n'cheese. The real kind, not from a box. How happy I was to be with him, even at a time I should've been exhausted, even at a grocery store. And that mac'n'cheese memory flashes me forward to being a teenager, to me making him teach me how to make it, not knowing I only had two more years of getting him to make it for me.

It's December, and grief, it abides you know.

My inability to come up with a title for this post seems incredibly apropos

 

For most of my life I haven't thought of myself as a creative. I'm not really sure why. I think I've always thought I was too straitlaced. I like rules and concrete plans and tailored clothing. I value logic based decision making. I hate being late. I don't hate math. I am not bohemian. I don't think you can be a great chef, especially pastry chef, without some understanding and appreciation of food science.

But here's the other thing, I think cooking is just like any other form of art, you have to know the rules so that you know when the most effective thing to do is break them.

Yes, I just said cooking is an art. It's a thing I'm coming to terms with. For a lot of people, cooking is paint by numbers, they can follow a recipe perfectly well and make something pretty delicious but they can't tell you what would make it better. Even fewer can go one step further and turn the idea in their head into a delicious dish in the real world.

That's what I'm good at, recipe development. I have an uncanny ability to recreate things I've eaten, to know what flavor combinations will taste like without having ever tried them or to even take somebody else's vague description of what they want and make something to satisfy their very specific craving.

I don't mean that in a bragging sense. It's just a thing I can do. The way other people can compose heartbreaking music or write beautifully or paint something that seems to speak specifically to you. It's a thing I love to do. It's a thing I don't know how not to do.

The tricky thing about doing something you love, about doing something you're really good at, is that it's easy for both you, and everyone around you, to forget that that doesn't mean what you do isn't hard.

Guys, sometimes being a chef is really really hard. And I don't mean that it's physically hard or hard to efficiently organize production or hard to manage people, even though all those things can be true. I mean sometimes creating constantly, five days a week, 52 weeks a year, on a schedule, is motherfucking hard. Sometimes it's not limited to those five days a week, sometimes I leave work on Friday not knowing what I want on the menu for the next week and spend my entire weekend with flavors and pastries rearranging and flying around my head and never actually powering down. Sometimes I'm not inspired. Sometimes something is really really good but I know there's that one thing I can't pin down that will make it perfect. Sadly, there is no thesaurus equivalent for flavors. Sometimes, it's hard to know when to stop. When your creative brain is burned out and using it is exhausting you.

I can't tell you how many new recipes I've written this year. A lot. Like I probably averaged 8 a month. Very very few of them make it onto my food blog just because of the afore mentioned creative energy already being used up. I can tell you I need to eat somebody's food that isn't mine. Preferably a lot of people's food that isn't mine. I imagine sometimes writers just really really need to read a book. To get out of their own rut. To be able to inspire themselves. To take a break. I think this is the downside of not working with other chefs. This is also the part about being a creative I don't understand. How do I deal with this? How do I deal with having a creative job when I don't feel like creating? I mean, yes, on one hand, I get it, I reuse old recipes, I bring back tried and true options, I just make sure there are solidly delicious things out for people to buy each day, I JUST KEEP CREATING. But how do I move past the creative burn out? How do I get back to the place where I feel like I'm really creating something fantastic? Other people with creative jobs, how do you create constantly on demand without totally exhausting yourself? Is the really simple, obvious answer just that I need a vacation? When you're facing creative burn out do you go immerse yourself in your discipline or do you take the opposite route and do anything but?

Help.

I was told to go where the wind would blow

I made a decision recently. I pretty big one. A secret one. Well, not really a secret, not an intentional secret, just a decision nobody knows I made. Nobody really knew was being made. It's made me happy and sad. And in a strange way feel like I'm grieving.

I decided not to go home in January.

For as long as I can remember, I came to New York for the holidays. And when I couldn't come for the holidays, I came in January, often around my birthday. New York in the winter is my favorite. New York in the winter makes me so happy I could cry. The warm weather we're having makes me want to cry in the opposite way. Last January I reversed the migration. I went home to California for a little over a week in January. I flew to Vegas for 48 hours 10 days later for my mom's wedding. In May I went to BiSC, went home to California for TWENTY FOUR hours to see my best friend because her father was dieing and then again, ten days later flew to California for 48 hours to see my little brother graduate high school (THANK EFFING GOD, IT WAS A CLOSE CALL THERE FOR A WHILE). So by June I had made 4 round trips across the country. That's kind of a lot.

Most of the practical reasons I'm not going home in January are financial. BiSC registration happens in January. I don't have paid time off, so going home right after the holidays is a little rough. One of my close friends is getting married in Massachusetts in the Summer but the bachelorette party is probably going to be in Vegas or California. I can't afford more than two cross country tickets in one year. And I can't afford more vacations. Either BiSC or the bachelorette party will probably be combined into a longer California home visit but there's no reason for me to go home in January.

I always came to New York in January because I hated missing the holidays here. Because I missed Central Park covered in snow more than anything. Because I love to ice skate and that's hard to explain to people that've only ever done it indoors. I went home to California last January because there was no way I was missing my little brother's 18th birthday. This year he turns 19, I turn 27. Who the fuck cares about that? (ok, I care about the 27 more than I thought I would care about officially entering my late 20s, but whatevs) I don't need to go home for the rain when I can stay here for the snow.

I can go to Sonoma County in the spring. When the weather is perfect and the hills are still green and I can see more stars in the sky than a New Yorker could ever imagine.

But the real reason I'm not going home in January is because I live here now. I don't really know how to explain it. It's just a step. A step in growing up. A step in changing and letting go. I live here now. This is my life. I migrated cross country every winter so I could have a brief moment in the place my soul felt still. My soul is still. I'm settled. Or at least as settled as one can be at this age. I don't need to reverse it.

I'll go home at some point. I'll go home when my heart can't stand to spend another moment away from the roar of the Pacific. When I miss the streak of the Milky Way the way I miss my father. When whiskey at 4am on the lower east side doesn't taste as good as whiskey at 4am in a barn. Or by a fire. I'll go home when I can't stand another moment without being behind the wheel of a car.

I'll go home and my baby cousins will be taller than me. My little brother won't live there. My best friends dad won't ever talk to me about cooking or travel again. The old tiny black Moxie cat I left with Lara held on, snuggling by Lara's father's side and now she's gone with him. The big black dog that was always excited to see me at my aunt and uncle's because he knew I'd take him for a walk won't be there either. I'll have a step dad I don't even really know. There will be a tiny person at the home of my friends whose wedding cake it seems I just made yesterday.

Other things will be the same. The Peet's coffee in my grandparents' house. The charred edges of toasted pain au levain. The milky way and highway 1. The fog rolling into the valley.

I'll go home. And I'll visit. And I'll realize it really isn't home anymore.