Month: September 2014

Here I Am: Take 2

Here I am online! I’ve been here. I thought you knew that. Turns out I was wrong.

I started publishing blog posts over two weeks ago, but discovered a few days ago that no one but me could see them. So, here’s my grand (re-)debut.

One of the things I wanted to make sure to do during this time off is learn new things. I’ve certainly earned a partial check for what I’ve learned to do in WordPress so far.

WordPress is supposed to be easy, but I’ve managed to encounter a few not-so-easy problems. Not even a friend who’s an advanced user could figure out why no one could see my posts. (I had hoped to shed my IT Special* label when I left the firm, but no luck so far.)

This has helped me to earn a check in the Practice Patience box—twice. HostGator** has great technical support. I had the opportunity to practice patience both times by waiting almost an hour for a rep to be available, and then spending another hour identifying and solving the problems.

I want to earn a full check in the WordPress box. I like knowing how to use software and understanding how it works. I like being the person who teaches others shortcuts and cool tricks. There’s much more I want to learn so I can make posts more readable and the site more interesting (e.g., how to put each post on its own page so there isn’t just this long, long page of all of them, how to change fonts/colors/sizes) and how to post two photos side by side so posts with pics aren’t so long.

All in due time.

In the meantime, it’s been a fun and frustrating and challenging process so far. Isn’t that the definition of learning?

(What—this isn’t quite what you pictured me doing with my time?)

 

*IT Special: one who has computer problems unique to her every few months over the course of her 12 years at the firm.

**For those who are like I was two months ago, i.e., completely clueless, HostGator is a company that hosts websites, like blogs; WordPress is the software that I use to create this blog.

When Will It Hit?

My last day of work was 22 days ago. Here is what I thought I would have done by now:

  • Decided which of my 60+ books I want to read first
  • Read 2-3 of those books
  • Selected a few new healthy recipes to try for the first time
  • Cooked those recipes and taken dinner over to a working friend to eat
  • Adjusted my sleep schedule so I awaken in the 7’s or 8’s
  • Unpacked the 6 boxes that I brought home from the office
  • Visited my friends who are on maternity leave

 

Of those, what I’ve actually done:

 

Yep, a big blank. Zero. Nil. Nothing. None of the above.

It has not hit me yet. Life still feels like an extended vacation. Mind you, I never took 22 consecutive days of vacation. I probably never even took 22 non-consecutive days of vacation in a single year.

I thought I would be doing all of those relaxing things on my list. Instead, it took until day 20 for me to have a (mostly) unplanned weekday that involved pilates, a massage, a nap and finishing my book—one that was a departure gift, not one of the 60+ on my shelf. I think this is what most people envision I’ll be doing every day. I thought I’d be doing it occasionally; I just didn’t think it would take three weeks to do it. It also took going to Atlanta for this day to happen.

I have spent exactly seven nights in my own house. The others have been spent in Baltimore, New York City, Poughkeepsie, Boston, Towson (Baltimore suburb) and Atlanta. All of this moving around probably contributes to my not fully getting what it means to no longer have a job.

I’ve also stayed mentally connected to my job, I mean former job, by talking with potential applicants about the new pro bono counsel position, having a stress dream about a clinic I helped plan that happened after I left and answering a smattering of questions from colleagues. I mean former colleagues. I catch myself saying, “we” and “my firm” even though it is now “they” and “my former firm.”

So, I wonder, when will it hit? When will I wake up with the lighthearted, free feeling I expected? I’ll let you know.

Seeking Out Good Food Is Good — Part 2: The Other CIA

Once someone mentioned that I could dine at the Culinary Institute of America while in the Hudson Valley, I planned my whole trip around this dinner. The CIA offers a $45 prix fixe menu Tuesday-Thursday, so my indulgence wouldn’t even break the bank.

The evening started off on a sour note when the hostess couldn’t find my name, then did find it and exclaimed, “You canceled your reservation this afternoon.” I replied, “I promise you, I did not. In fact, I built my whole trip around this dinner, rented a car and am staying at a hotel nearby just so I can be here now.” (Luckily, the only other sour note of the night were the bitters in my cocktail, and those I asked for.)

Once I was seated, I saw that there were quite a few empty tables so there never was a risk that this whole venture would have been for naught.

The Bocuse Restaurant menu

The Bocuse Restaurant menu

Deciding what to order was extremely difficult. Because I was dining alone, there was no opportunity for sharing or tasting someone else’s choices, my favorite things to do when eating out with others. I went pescatarian, in part at the recommendation of my server, a student who had cooked the fish station for a few weeks.

 

 

 

My appetizer and dessert were spectacular. The tastes were interesting and rich. The lobster was tender and flavorful. Foam can be annoying and distracting when done badly. Here, it added accent and taste.

 

Butter-poached lobster

Butter-poached lobster

 

Every component of the dessert was delicious on its own. Together they were magical. It was so amazing, I’m writing about it before the entrée.

Dessert

Dessert! Not a crumb left.

Dessert menu—with the chocolate listed first, as it should be

Dessert menu—with the chocolate listed first, as it should be

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The menu description of the halibut entrée didn’t mention the croquette of olive tapenade, but once my server described it I was sold since love a good olive tapenade. Here, the saltiness and brininess overpowered and distracted from the fish. At the end of the day I took advantage of this since the fish was slightly overcooked and a little too tough.

Olive oil poached halibut

Olive oil poached halibut

 

 

 

 

A nice surprise was the game Amuse that is given to every table. The cards ask questions such as, “What culinary skill would you like to master?” (knife skills) and “What is your least favorite task in the kitchen?” (chopping onions). Between people watching and answering the questions myself, my two-hour dinner passed quickly.

Amuse cards

Amuse cards

 

 

 

 

 

The other nice surprise was that at the end of the meal, they gave me two of every extra treat even though I was a singleton. I ended up taking all but one of the white chocolate truffles in a to go box because I was so full. A truly sweet ending. The weekday prix fixe is a deal and I definitely would return.

Departing treats—enough for two, but I got to eat them all myself

Departing treats—enough for two, but I got to eat them all myself

Seeking Out Good Food Is Good — Part 1: NYC

I spent two days of the first week of my new life seeking out really good food. I enjoy good food. This does not make me unique. I have not had much of an opportunity before to plan a whole day around acquiring good food, and boy did I enjoy it.

Day One: Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I started at Chelsea Market, which was not the planned destination but could not be skipped when I found myself across the street from it. There were many, many tempting foods, but since I had eaten breakfast not that long before arriving, I went practical. I tried to indulge at Doughnuttery, but six was the smallest quantity I could buy and that seemed extravagant, and might not leave me enough room for the other good food planned for the day. Nearby, I found Sohha Savory Yogurt, where I loved the Za’atar Bliss:  tangy yogurt with za’atar (a middle-eastern spice mix), olive oil, mint, olives and tomatoes.

Sohha menu

Za’atar Bliss—sub tomatoes for the cucumbers and we have a winner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To work up an appetite before my next stop, I walked the length of The Highline. Finally, my plans to do so weren’t thwarted by rain, snow, sleet or hail.

I then walked over to Eataly, which I’ve been hearing about since it opened. Decided on full-fledged carnivore lunch from Rosticceria. I refrained from the gelato in order to walk over to the West Village for Big Gay Ice Cream.  I learned about Big Gay Ice Cream from the authority that is Buzzfeed (I knew this list was legit when I saw it included Amy’s Ice Cream, my favorite ice cream in the US) and knew it was a must-stop for this trip. I gave into all of the hype (Food Network, Dessert Professionals) and ordered the most popular combo, the Salty Pimp (vanilla soft serve, chocolate shell, sea salt, dulce de leche). Salty-sweet ice cream.  Need I say more?

Next time I'll think to take a photo before I devour my ice cream

Next time I’ll think to take a photo before I devour my ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day One: Epilogue

I admit that on Wednesday morning I realized that accelerating from my office’s salad bar to yesterday’s meals, and from my few-times-a-week workouts to walking 6+ miles, pushed the limits of my stomach. After a great class at The Pilates Boutique, I needed a soothing lunch before the matinée of Kinky Boots.

Sometimes the universe sends you what you need. Yelp wasn’t helping me identify where to find chicken soup, so I decided to just walk out the door and see what I passed on my way to the theater. And I found a gem: Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen. Just like grandma’s chicken soup, if it came from Japan. Just the medicine the doctor ordered!

Great find in Hell’s Kitchen

Best unplanned meal of my trip

Best unplanned meal of my trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Turns out Lunch at The Highline is the modern version of the 1932 famous photo, Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam). Next time I’ll try to do the image justice.

credit: probably Charles C. Ebbets, but disputed

credit: probably Charles C. Ebbets, but disputed

credit: Roberta A. Ritvo

credit: Roberta A. Ritvo

What I’ve Learned So Far

My last day of work was 14 days ago. Since then, I have learned a few things:

  1. Everything takes longer than I expect. This includes traveling from my house to any place, signing up for health insurance and learning how to use WordPress.
  2. When I rent a car, I should bring my car charger and iPod cord with me. Otherwise, I will be very concerned about using my phone for anything lest I use up all of the juice and I will be subject to the whims of local radio stations, which seem to fade out every 10 minutes.
  3. I will not accomplish everything on my To Do list when being a tourist in a new place.
  4. Seeking out good food is good. {So good in fact, I had to write about it in two different posts.)

Here I Am!

The first week of September 2014, I left my job as Senior Pro Bono Counsel at a large law firm for tracks unknown. I wanted a change, something new. What? Not sure. In order to figure that out, I needed to step outside the life I’ve been living in more or less the same way for the past ten years, ever since I started the pro bono gig.

Why write this blog? Just because everyone told me I should so that they could live vicariously and see what I’m up to isn’t a good enough reason to create more content on the already overcrowded internet.

I created this blog to keep myself accountable. I’m not prone to deep introspection, or even medium introspection. Taking some time to write short posts, postcards if you will, about what I’ve done and what I’ve taken from it seems like a good way to not let this present to myself go by unnoticed and unobserved.

I hope anyone who takes a moment to read any of the posts walks away thinking that it was a good use of a few minutes.

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