I’ve been using Sundays lately as my home base. I have made myself promises: I won’t let my sourdough starter die; I won’t let my vegetable garden get overrun with weeds. So on Sundays, I feed the starter, and I weed the garden.
I have promised to use the food we get in our CSA. So on Sunday mornings, Amanda and I flip through magazines and cookbooks, and we make up a schedule of meals for the week, looking for ways to use our CSA goodies so they don’t go to waste. I try to list them here to keep my motivation fresh.
I have promised to write. And on this score, I have had mixed results. I got myself good and spun up on Friday about jobs. You see, I will be moving across the country in May of next year, to California, to a place I have never been, a coast I have never lived on, a place where I don’t have a job, a place lacking Southern accents, sweet tea, and my family and friends. Except for Amanda. She will be there. We’re going because she got new orders, a transfer to California. As my friend Judy said, love isn’t a good reason to do something; it’s the only reason to do something. So I am going. And I am happy, excited, and terrified.
I’m an adjunct instructor at the university where I went to graduate school. I haven’t really had to do the application process for a university. But I know it’s competitive. It’s the adjunct racket; it’s a grind, a defeating, bleak existence that leaves instructors with little power, little money, and almost no security.
My teaching experience is limited, my publications are few, my accomplishments (while nice for me: a blog I’m proud of, a Facebook page, 200+ followers on Twitter, and the first four chapters or so of a book started) are few in the eyes of academe. And as I scanned through application guidelines and college mission statements in California, I had one very clear thought zoom through my head:
I’m going to be unemployed. Plan B.
I’ve done this before. I’ve freaked out about my CV and decided I wasn’t likely to be hired doing the job I wanted, so I applied for jobs that were stable and steady, yes, but not at all what I wanted to do. And I could feel that tendency creeping up: get a receptionist job; apply for a 9-5 job that will keep you seated, filing, emailing, and longing for the days when you used to do what you loved.
I scrapped it. There is no Plan B. There’s only Plan A. And Plan A is that I write. I keep publishing. I keep teaching. I make my CV look as good as I can in the short time I have before I start applying for jobs. I try not to freak out and drive my girlfriend crazy. I try not to worry and fear the things I can’t control.
But above all, I stick to Plan A.
Plan A involves finishing this book manuscript. It involves publishing articles and essays and stories. It involves continuing my blog, continuing my food education. Plan A asks that I keep reading food novels and memoirs and essays. It demands that I look for ways to dress for the job I want, not the job I have.
This means chair time. It means positive thinking. It means accountability and study and discipline.
In short: it means I write.
I’ve written these past couple weeks, yes, but not with any real discipline. I haven’t created new pages of my book. So along with my intentions for my CSAcation, this week, I want to lay out my intention, float it out there to the world. This week, I write. This week, I silence the voices that say I’m not scholarly enough or creative enough or popular enough or good enough. This week, I sit down, and I write pages for my book, posts for this blog, and new ideas that can play in that sandbox with everything else.
I am getting back on the train. (Trains! Sandboxes! Dana, pick a metaphor and go with it!)
But in addition to the writing and being on a train that has a sandbox in one of the cars, I’ll also be cooking, as ever. And this week, we got some lovely goodies in the CSA from Five Points Farm Market.
Potatoes: Oh, potatoes. We’ll be making a few things with these, but my favorite of the potential potato dishes is something Amanda has made for me several times: hot crash potatoes. They’re boiled to fork tender, crushed, drizzled with oil, sprinkled with salt, and blanketed with a sprig of fresh rosemary, and then baked until crispy. So good.
Peaches: I know these are likely one of the last of the season, and I want so badly to maximize their beauties. So many things I could make, but pie is singing to me the loudest. Peach-cranberry pie. It will be glorious.
Bell peppers: When we can’t figure out what else to make, we like to do a pasta toss: pasta tossed with fresh cut tomatoes, garlic, onion, bell peppers, basil, and parsley. Salted. Covered in cheese.
Zucchini and yellow squash: We’re doing a lot of grilling over the next couple days, and we’ll be doing summer squash on skewers on the grill, letting them get all smoky and delicious.
Turnip greens: Y’all, I’m cooking these up Paula Deen style with, check it, my first ham hock ever. Somehow, in all my years of living in the South, I’ve never cooked with an honest to goodness ham hock. That dry spell ends today.
And so on this Sunday, after the house has been cleaned and the garden weeded and my sourdough starter fed (I still need to name that creature) and lunch eaten, I am setting down my intentions here and floating them into the universe. A week of good food made from fresh, local produce. And a week of getting back to writing. A week of silencing the crazed voices that say I can’t and getting back to my characters’ voices that say, “Nevermind what you can or can’t do, we’ve got stories to tell.”