For those who put great stock in it (pun intended), cooking is nothing short of a form of therapy. Stir together enough aromatic vegetables, caramelize enough onions and add chicken broth, and your worries will simmer away. At least that’s the hope. And that’s why, I believe, I find myself bowed over a hot stove on this bitter February night, cooking like the maniac I sometimes can be. I was going to heat up leftovers from last night, plain and simple. I had made braised short rib ragu and invited over the boys, and we had an anti-Super-Bowl party and watched Downton Abbey rather than the Ravens (I acknowledge my betrayal of my home team, but do not really care!). But when I went into my fridge tonight and spotted some rather sad looking parsnips, forgotten after I impulsively bought them at the Thompkins Square farmers market two weeks ago, I decided to make something with them.
Carrot Parsnip Soup forced me to go to the grocery store to get chicken stock, which inspired the purchase of a small chicken, and when I decided I was craving something sweet, Apple Cider Caramels seemed just the solution. So here I am, 9:30 on a Monday night, roasting a chicken, making soup, and boiling down apple cider into syrup. Twenty-three may be stressful, but at least I sublimate my energy into something tasty.
Fifty-one job applications down since December, and I continue to split my days between coffee shops and my apartment, with occasional forays to the most perfect library in the entire world—the Bryant Park branch of the NYPL. As much as I crave a day job, this limbo is not as panic-inducing as it first was, and I have forced myself to settle back into a comfortable routine: unemployed writer by day, black-uniformed hostess by night. And of course, sunlit days, bottles of red wine, and my friends’ laughter makes everything bearable.
The past two weeks have brought a poignant clarity to life, as some of the people I love most in this world have received wonderful and terrible news. Twenty-three is not old enough to start thinking about mortality and living for the present, but lately I have been forced to do so, and must conclude that the result is rather sobering. We are intensely lucky. I know I do not have to say that, but I feel it bears reiterating. We are healthy and loved and live in a changing world with an open future. My present lack of a 9 to 5 job is not quite as terrible as it once seemed, and I have to force myself to keep remembering that.
As for Marcel, I think it is about time we drop the pretense and admit that, while this blog is certainly Proust-Themed, it is not necessarily about Proust. It is about us, Nora and I and our friends and family and what it is like to be post-grad and underemployed and very happy and a little lost. It is about days spent taking trains to the Bronx to overlook the Palisade cliffs (as I did on Saturday) and nights standing on our apartment roofs, overlooking the low view of the city skyline. It is about apple cider caramels and oxford commas and being alive. But most of all, it is about writing. And no matter what, we will continue to write.
So for the time being, I have no deep wisdom to impart, merely a reflection on life at the moment (tinged by the aroma of roasting chicken). I want to congratulate Nick, my very best friend, on getting a job!!! I want to wish Sam a Happy Birthday tomorrow! I want to tell everyone from Baltimore to bask in what must be a very happy, purple city. And I want to thank Nora, my partner in Proust, and all of you, my readers, for giving me a reason to keep doing this, for reading our ramblings, for supporting our slow progress.
And happy Monday 😉 Here’s to sunny days and nights filled with good cooking.