A lot can happen in six weeks.
In fact, I am so overwhelmed by how much I should probably write on these last six weeks that with each word I type I take pause (cough, stall) to reflect. When I come up with nothing, I take a hearty bite of my rice and beans that sits on the left side of this computer. Then I type a few letters, pause, reflect, rinse, repeat.
So how do I start? Well, I suppose I can begin by saying that I made red beans and rice from scratch a couple of nights ago. They are delicious.
All food aside, I will also say that the Changing of the Calendars Ceremony has officially occurred. It took me three days, but a 2015 calendar — an I Love Lucy themed one once again, of course — has finally replaced the old one.
I was somewhat alarmed at how gleeful I was as I unwrapped it from its thin plastic packaging. I mean, you’d think that by the time I owned the entire DVD series, read numerous biographies, and had at least four or five different Lucy calendars in my life, the buzz would wear off. But it didn’t. I was excited to put it on my wall, because It’s a huge contrast from my 2014 I Love Lucy calendar.
Last year, the scenes for each month had been in their classic black-and white-format. This year, the scenes are filled with playful bursts of color. Lucy as Marilyn Monroe, Lucy as Superman, Lucy as a showgirl in a top heavy headdress…every scene is depicted in bold colors, and tastefully at that. None of that washed out mumbo jumbo that the colorized episodes always seem to have.
Behind each scene of Lucy being ridiculous is a bright, vibrant pastel color that reminds me of one of Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe diptychs.
I’m hoping this pop artsy calendar is a sign that 2015 will be a refreshing change from last year. 2014 was fantastic–graduation, grad school acceptance, moving to Brooklyn–but I’m feeling like things will get even more exciting.
So far, in the first three days of this year, I have already reconnected with old friends over fun, crazy/sketchy karaoke in Koreatown. I’ve connected with new friends. I’ve learned to accept the G train, flaws and all. I’ve worked 22 hours at my new job. I’ve started Junot Diaz’s Drown. I discovered an awesome Panera in Brooklyn; in fact, I have only left Brooklyn once so far in the new year, something I feel strangely proud of. I also had the amusement (only amusing because I was in and out before it got so bad) of finally witnessing a line that didn’t just wrap through every single aisle of Trader Joe’s, but formed along the outside of the actual building. And all three of my faithful readers out there will recall how life-and-death Paneras in this area can be.
Big things are happening to me already in 2015, I tell you. Big things.
The last six weeks have been even more satisfying. I finally left a job that had been slowly eating my brain, bite by bite, bit by bit. One day, I woke up and realized I was killing myself for reasons that weren’t good enough. Okay, well, having money to eat/pay rent/go out was good reason. But I realized that I wasn’t happy with what I’d accomplished in the last five months. I felt like I hadn’t put nearly as much effort into my writing because by the time I got home all I wanted to do was unwind. I used work as my excuse for watching Netflix instead of writing.
This is probably the first time I will ever publicly admit this, but in many cases, writing doesn’t help me unwind. At least, the kind of writing that I feel like people would actually want to read doesn’t help me unwind. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. It was hard enough learning how to be okay with letting people read what I’ve written, and accepting criticism. But even after that, it’s really hard work trying to compel people, with words, to see and feel things the same bizarre way that I do. When it doesn’t work, it’s painfully frustrating. It’s painfully embarrassing, too.
So you can imagine my frustration when I looked around my bedroom, saw the things I had bought with money from my first job in NYC–my dresser, my wardrobe, my space heater, my phone case, books, my metro card…and felt like I’d sold out. For what? A little bit of heat?
There I was, living in the best city in the world in order to get my MFA. There it was–writing, the thing that I love–and I was letting a job that had absolutely nothing to do with any of my goals be my excuse to shy away from it. I figured if I worked hard enough, there were so many other things I could do that would both sustain me and be enjoyable. So sue me, I’m an idealist.
I didn’t want to get stuck. And once I had that mentality that I didn’t want to have my brain eaten away bit by bit by anymore, this free, determined mentality began to eat away at my brain instead. It wasn’t unlike when I decided I was going to study abroad, or when I decided I wanted to cut my hair, or apply to only one grad school last minute in the hopes of getting in. As soon as I lock into a new idea I need to do it right away. Heaven forbid I finally decide on what tattoo I decide to get. And then find a place to get it done. And then save up enough money…
So the moment the timing was right (i.e. ten days later), I put my two weeks notice in. The rest went from there.
The transition was smooth. Coworkers understood why I left. I thought I would personally feel weird not working in the financial district after spending 3/5 of my weekday waking hours commuting and/or working there, but I recovered rather quickly. I’ve coped fine with not having to take L and 6 trains whose platform behavior at rush hour resembled that of the ship deck of the Titanic, post-iceberg.
Life is good again. I’m working as a barista at a pie shop in Brooklyn. It has nothing to do with writing, or selling people things, or typing emails to coordinate business arrangements. (Note: I am, however, also doing freelance writing on the side. So far, I’ve learned a great deal about cremation and audio mastering from it.)
Being a barista has to do with serving people damn good pie and really good coffee. I actually get paid to smile; sometimes I get paid even more when I put a lot of gusto into sharing my dimples. (edit: the ones on my face. It’s not that kind of pie shop!)
I get to watch bakers make whipped cream and ganache and dough for scones. I get to hear all sorts of cool accents from customers who saw Four & Twenty on Food Network, and I get to explain to people why they should try our Egg ‘n’ Grog pie (eggnog custard with a gingerbread crust).
As odd as it sounds, I love serving people. And as my lovely, sage friend (side note: we also serve a cranberry sage pie…am I advertising too much here?) CeeCee pointed out not too long ago, I was a genuinely happy person when I was working at Market Street in Chapel Hill. It was time to go back to barista basics, Brooklyn-style.
For New Year’s Eve, my near and dear friend Ellie and I went to Radegast, a classy Biergarten that we’d gone to once before a couple months earlier. They had a live jazz band and only a $10 cover and handed out those terribly annoying honking noisemakers that aren’t so terribly annoying once you’ve ingested enough German beer.
As the band took a smoke/drink/partybreak in between sets, she and I discussed resolutions for 2015 over mugs that overflowed with frothy Hofbräu Dunkel. Having both made changes in our occupations over the last few weeks of the year, we came to the conclusion that trying things out just to realize they weren’t for you was a good thing. We’re young. We have time. Sometimes it takes enduring not so great situations to realize we want something different. Sometimes it will bring us one step closer to realizing what we do want. Which right now, for me, is a flexible job that includes making people happy. And what makes people happier than pie? Especially pie with homemade whipped cream.
Did I mention you should come visit Four & Twenty Blackbirds today?! 🙂