Finding The Cure

My job structure has changed this week, and no matter how many times I have written “post to your blog!” on my to-do list, it just hasn’t gotten done.

I’ve been juggling four jobs this summer – teaching, editing a section at a magazine, working at a law firm, and working at a dance studio. Almost everyone jokes me about working too much, but I really sort of love it. I love the hustle and bustle; I thrive on having too much to do. One of my writing professors, Janet Peery, once observed that it seems like the more I do, the better I do. And it’s true.

Recently, however, the jobs have all clicked magically into place, thanks in large part to the law firm allowing me to “go virtual” and begin working on special projects for them from home. I thought to myself, yes! finally! I’ll be able to work from home, I’ll cut out the commute to Virginia Beach, and working from home will make it possible for me to just jam right through all the work I need to do.

(Cue laugh track here.)

When I was chatting with my editor at AltDaily the other day, he asked how the whole “working from home” thing is going. It was the first time anyone asked me directly about something that I had begun to suspect might be harder than I thought. And I had to admit, working from home is hard. Partly because I find I have an amazing ability to rationalize working from my bed (which leads to mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon naps), and partly because I know I need noise around me. So I turn on music or (bad habit) movies I’ve seen a hundred times. Things I can generally zone out from, except when I’m susceptible to distraction. Or bored. Or tired of looking at my computer screen. Or between tasks. Or if it’s a day ending in “y.”

I know I’ll need to fix this habit. I know I’ll need to make my home office out of coffee shops and libraries. And so this afternoon, when one of my roommates called to say she was going to work at Cure for a few hours and asked if I wanted to join her, I looked at my growing to-do list and said, yes, indeed I do.

I have been to Cure once or twice before, and I have been seduced by the fact that they carry Mexican Coke (made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup – try it, and you’ll never go back). But I’ve only tried one menu item; I think I had a BLT, which was good, but nothing to rave about. But my roommate goes there frequently. And she raves about the pastrami.

My meal from Cure: Reuben sans sauerkraut, potato salad, water in a jar

I’m a sucker for cured meats. One of my favorite foods growing up (and still today) was salami. I remember one day when I was little, my mom (who is a bit of a snack goddess – her late-night cinnamon toast is amazing) pulled a bag of salami and a jar of mayonnaise from the fridge while we waited for dinner to cook. She rolled a slice of salami, dipped the roll into the mayonnaise, and ate it. My mind was blown. She offered me the next roll, and it was amazing. It was all the beauty of a salami sandwich (which always had mayo on it) without the bread that stuck to the roof of my mouth. I was a salami junky, and I blame (er, credit) my mother.

But somehow pastrami stayed off my radar for a really long time. I was a fan of it in principle – I never met a cured meat I didn’t like – but I didn’t seek it out.

I once was lost, but now I’m found.

Tonight, after a couple of hours of Andrea and I working (and whining about working), we called it quits and ordered food. Andrea is very particular about how she wants her pastrami sandwich, or as the owner of Cure calls it, her “oddly-made reuben.” She opts out of the rye bread and goes for sourdough; she wants nothing to do with sauerkraut or cheese. She wants what she calls the “perfect and pure” pastrami sandwich, with nothing to take away from the full flavor of the meat.

"Perfect and pure pastrami" or "oddly-made Reuben" - it's pastrami Andrea's way

When I think of sauerkraut, I think of the stringy white crap my mom used to get out of a can and put on hot dogs. I should have enough faith in the restaurants in this area (especially one that cures its own pastrami in-house) to take a leap and try the sauerkraut, but I just couldn’t, so I ordered my reuben without pastrami, but left everything else the same – warm pastrami on toasted marble rye bread with Russian dressing and Swiss cheese. With potato salad and a pickle spear on the side.

The cook brought the plate out to me, and I dug in to the potato salad, which is flavored with dill and has quite a little kick to it. The potato salad was just a precursor to the sandwich. I took my first bite – so many flavors! Warm, salty, beautiful pastrami, flavorful Russian dressing, a modest showing of cheese, on toasty delicious bread. I dug in, merely nodding and humming along with whatever Andrea said. Even though it was happy hour, I opted for simple ice water in a Mason jar, and it was like home.

I made it 3/4 of the way through the sandwich before I had to tap out and admit defeat. That sandwich was so satisfying, so delicious, that a wave of exhaustion washed over me and carried me out the door, to my car, home to my bed, where I now sit writing about it, reliving my sandwich, and thanking Andrea for finding The Cure, and for showing it to me. I’ll be back – it’ll probably be my sometimes office in this new journey of working from home. But I’ll save that pastrami for the end of the work day because that thing is going to be the perfect way to punch out.


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