Funemployment

A list of ways to spend your days when you are still waiting for that handwritten letter from Beyonce asking you to become her personal assistant-slash-best friend-slash-live-in babysitter:

1. Find any and every excuse to bake something. Got a girls’ movie night planned? Make brownies! Rosh Hashanah began? Make Challah! It’s Wednesday? Look up the most intricate and time consuming recipe you can find and expect nothing less than perfection from yourself!

2. Cry at least once a day in one of the following places:
-The shower
-Your car
-Your bed, circa 2 PM, midway through your fifth episode of Glee in four-point-five hours.
(*The remedy to this is generally a hot shower, a change of clothes [staying in pajamas all day generally lends itself to clinical depression], and a walk outside the walls of your home. In case, you know, you’re into the idea of not crying.)

3. Commit to reading an extremely long book.
Side-note: my father has read Infinite Jest “three-ish” times and has, for many years, flaunted the book’s awesomeness in my literary face, likely in hopes that we will someday be able to geek out about it together. Well, the time has come that I have endless amounts of free time and a serious need for mental activity. This is great because:
-This book is amazing. Insanely, annoyingly, brilliantly amazing
-Just like I used to stop my father every five minutes to ask a question while he read me the entire lord of the rings trilogy when I was, like, seven, I need somebody to hold my hand as I read this book. I can generate an obnoxious amount of questions which, if left unanswered, can stall any and all potential progress.
-I have someone to geek out with about this ridiculous new book that I’m reading
-I have something constructive to do that entails neither shouting expletives at a blank word document entitled “cover letter” or engaging in suggestion #2 (see above)

4. Take an impractical road trip. See: Exhibit A, Exhibit B

5. Spend exorbitant amounts of time in your favorite coffee shop. Sure, you might be doing the same stuff that you’d be doing at home without spending $4 on a soy capp, but it’s worth it because you’re around other humans, you’re not in your jammies all day, and you have the opportunity to at least look productive. Also, you’re allowed to brag about your caffeine addiction on any and all social media outlets.

6. Remember that you’re not special. You’re not the only person who’s miserable, or unemployed, or unsure of their life-long purpose. We’re all just making it up as we go along. You’re allowed to complain about how hard your life is, but probably only for about ninety seconds a day. And remember that all those things that can come with unemployment and general anguish regarding the meaning of life aren’t as cool (and certainly not as fun) as they appear in Kat Marnell columns and Hemingway novels: depression, drinking alone, promiscuity, unrelenting angst, etc. So maybe go to a yoga class, or call a friend, or volunteer, because laying in bed eating leftover brownies and watching an entire season of The New Girl on Hulu isn’t as fun as it sounds.

New England, Part Two

….in which I get distracted on country roads countless times and have to turn my car around just to capture junkyards and dilapidated houses, stay with family in Maine and play hooky from life, pick the most perfect baby tomatoes from a backyard garden, play with puppies, and finally head home.

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Now what?

New England, part one

The upside to unemployment is the ability to live out of your car for a few weeks and travel around one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Just put all the gas on your credit card.

Apparently my migratory urges haven’t subsided just yet.

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Sorrento, Maine; a pit stop at St. Paul’s; Vermont and a four-day bread overdose; and York, Maine, the perfect site for lighthouse gazing and candy store-and-arcade-by-the-waterside type nostalgia.

curiosity.

There was a small portion of my trip in Europe that was spent train-hopping with my father. In three days, eight different trains took us from Genoa, Italy to St. Jean Pied du Port, France, where we would begin to walk the Camino de Santiago. Our need to get from point A to point B gave us an excuse to relax for a few days, watch the French Riviera pass by, and get some reading done. I love train travel: you can move around, you can read, you can decide if you want to face backwards or forwards! Pure luxury!

We boarded our first train and wrangled our backpacks through the narrow corridors. I got settled and dove back into my book as all six of us in the compartment pretended our fellow travelers didn’t exist. We did the usual dance: stare into space just above the head of the person seated directly across from you; read your book intently; stare out the window. Anything to avoid interaction with a stranger.

A conversation finally developed between my father, the large Italian man sitting in what should have been my window seat, and me. Alberto was a chef, we learned, who works on private yachts all year. Not a bad job, I thought. He was headed to Nice to work on some rich family’s yacht for a few months. I listened to him talk about his career: migratory, exciting, difficult.

I love food, I gushed to him. I love cooking. I want to learn more about it.

“In order to learn,” Alberto replied, “you have to be curious.”

I resisted the urge to write this down in my journal like an overeager student taking notes in history class. In order to learn, you must be curious. What am I curious about? There were things I wanted to learn more about – food, language, art – but which of these topics were backed by a curiosity that would actually drive me to do something about my interest?

We each have an obligation to our own curiosity. If we want to change our lives, to discover new hobbies, to explore new career opportunities, we have to be curious. We must acknowledge the nagging desires inside ourselves that don’t shut up, and then we have to do something about them.

Hard work is obviously involved. Commitment. Et cetera. But it all starts with curiosity.

I promise this is going somewhere, rather than a nostalgic tangent brought on by a desire to be back there, in movement, in Europe. I’m back in New England now, and I’ve been trying to articulate my curiosities – to people asking the “what’s next?” question, but also, more importantly, to myself. And I’ve been telling myself since January that I want to learn more about making bread. It’s so interesting! And tasty! It’s an art and a science! It dates back to ancient times! And then I realized, with some gentle nudging from loved ones, that there are real, concrete ways to explore these curiosities. Ways that don’t involve just sitting in your kitchen and waxing poetic about flour and reminiscing about croissants and baguettes because bread in the States is just terrible! (But then what do you expect from a country where unpasteurized cheese is illegal?) ANYWAYS, I digress. I had to let go of the fear that these desires weren’t genuine, that I was somehow “wrong”. I had to trust my curiosity.

So! Right! The point here! I signed up for a four-day course at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont, which was just about the coolest thing I could imagine, and therefore imperative. And you can pay with a credit card! So it happened. (Thanks, internet!) I’m spending a few days learning about yeast and dough and I’m learning to knead and shape. Also, I’m carbo-loading, just in case I decide to run a marathon this weekend. I am just thrilled about all of this, especially since I’m in Vermont and it’s beautiful and peaceful and it’s an adventure.

Who knows what will come of this. It might become a hobby, or a career, or a fun memory. But I’ll never know if I don’t jump; I’ll never know if this is something that I’ll actually enjoy if I don’t at least try it on for size. I’ll never learn if I’m not curious. At a time where I feel paralyzed by uncertainty, action is always better than inaction. So far, I’m having a blast. If nothing else, I’ve already come away with some tasty souvenirs.