Or so I was told. I grew up intending to be a Career Woman. I had a very specific image of what that meant. I was willing to sacrifice everything for that ever-elusive dream job. I got decent grades, went to a great school, got a great education, and graduated a year early. After I left Florida State, I was absolutely, positively, no matter what going to either get a great job or go to graduate school for my MFA in nonfiction writing. I was going to spend six months doing the college program at Walt Disney World to get on my feet and then I’d get my career going.
For the first time in my life, my plans are not quite coming to fruition. At first everything was great. I was out of the house, I got accepted into two incredible MFA programs. Then, the next thing I know, I’m back in the house and deferring to the programs because I just can’t afford them. I’m working a retail job at a jewelry store that I actually like a lot, but I’m not so crazy about the pay. And it’s not my career. And I did, in fact, set out to be a Career Woman.
I want to write. That’s what I want. I’m on my way, with steady, contracted freelance work, but it’s just a start. And for someone who has impatiently rushed through life at a break-neck speed, evaluating every achievement as just a stepping stone, I get frustrated. This frustration has, over time, led to an increased hike in a super-not-so-fun anxiety disorder that makes me imagine that everything bad in the world can, will, and HAS happened.
Fortunately I’ve got a good support system. My family supports me even if they don’t fully understand me, which means a great deal to me. My friends are wonderful, mostly understand me, and encourage me when I need it. I’ve got some outstanding close friends that are always in my corner. It’s all I could ever ask for. It’s wonderful. I’m blessed in the fact that my narrow-minded drive for career hasn’t deprived me of the chance to maintain wonderful relationships, things I had always been willing to sacrifice. This, of course, scared me, too. My priorities were shifting ever-so-slightly, and I started seeing things in shades of grey instead of the clean cut black and white I was accustomed to. My anxiety sky rocketed (and still is more consuming than I’d like, but it’s a work in progress). I wasn’t sleeping through the night, I could never relax or focus entirely, and I was in a constant state of nagging worry.
The best friend has informed me that I need a hobby. Even though I work a full time job and come home to job search and write articles every night, I’ve been informed that I need to make more time for me. No, writing doesn’t count anymore, she told me, not unless you can just relax and not overanalyze it. So no. Doesn’t count. Find a new hobby.
I was baffled by what I should take up, and embarrassed I had such a focused point of interest. Like most people in today’s world, I don’t have a lot of free time. My two days off work I normally spend writing at night. I come home from work and write on the days I’m at the jewelry store. I skype with my closest friends a few times throughout the week, and that’s about all the free time I have. So how was I going to have time to find an exhausting, time consuming hobby and take part in the damn thing?
Then, of course, I remembered my Pinterest, which is loaded with probably thousands of recipes, most of which I haven’t even had a chance to test out yet. It’s my addiction, what I use to take five minute breaks from my writing when needed. A light bulb went off. I didn’t need to find a new hobby! I already had one!
I’ve always loved writing and reading, and while I still love it and enjoy it, studying with some of the best faculty in the country on my favorite subject has made me much more analytical about it. It is no longer just relaxing. I can’t help but overanalyze everything. It drives the best friend crazy. Cooking though, you don’t have to over think, and my mother and my late grandmother had me in the kitchen as soon as I was old enough to stand, hold a measuring cup, and dump its contents into whatever bowl appropriate (as seen in the above picture where baby me was cooking with my grandmother).
Cooking relaxes me. I think that is true for a lot of people who like to be in the kitchen. It’s also full of immediate gratification and rewards, something that I’ve missed since leaving college. Easy, short term rewards and quantifiable results within the achievement. You cook something delicious, then you eat it. And damn do I love to eat.
I want to take this opportunity to throw in a disclaimer. I modify recipes. I rarely create them on my own. I intend to use this blog as my own personal recipe binder, a place where I can keep track of my favorite recipes and write down how they worked for me and what I did to them. I will always post credit where it’s due, and am not intending to claim any kind of credit. Some of the recipes, I’m sure, will come from my mother and grandmother (who, coincidentally, have come up with some brilliant creations all their own), some will come from people of different cultures who have shared their knowledge with me, and some will appear from complete strangers. I only post here to pay tribute to a kind of genius I’m not sure I possess, and to marvel in their incredible results. I thank all culinary geniuses for sharing their dishes for us all to love, revere, and enjoy. This blog is about a celebration of good food, and how cooking these dishes has added an overwhelming number of new flavors and comfort to my life (and everyone else in it!)
Happy eating, everyone 🙂