I know that I’ve recently been… away. Over the past year I have experienced a lot of life changes. I started 2012 on unemployment, looking for work and curling up with my kitten and tea every day. It was hard. I felt very overwhelmed. I kept up with this blog but I didn’t mention it, I’m not terribly personal here. Quirky anecdotes and fun food photos are usually what I share. But let’s be honest, I’m not that one dimensional; I like other things – like art, art history, books, video games, my kitten, BF, and many other things besides. Being unemployed for the better half of a year kind of broke me, I was frustrated and unhappy for a lot of the time. I cooked a lot of the same meals, for comfort and ease. Food wasn’t my top priority for a long time. I sort of lost my inspiration and motivation. It sucked.
In March I got involved in Hyper-Local Brewfest, a beer festival sponsored and organized by Sustainable Business Networks of Massachusetts. I’d been a volunteer for them for the past few years with Boston Local Food Festival so when they wanted to run a spring festival I was one of the first to jump on the wagon and start waving the flags. I helped them to run the festival and was offered a job, part-time, running the fall version alongside Boston Local Food Festival. So I did it. From mid-June through Early October I worked hard and pulled off a successful and elegant beer festival, it was fun – but not ideal, also part time. I was struggling – financially and emotionally, my heart just wasn’t in it. So I kept looking; I got a handful of interviews, each a touch more promising than the last in terms of places I would fit well in, they were small successful start-ups and with each no call or polite no thank you email I was a little more crushed and downtrodden.
As seems to so often happen in seemingly unending rough patches a little glimmer of hope popped up. My friend Dan mentioned in a casual aside that he was starting as head cook for a burrito bar in Belmont, a small place with lots of character, good food, and good coffee. I asked if they needed help and got a second part time job working with him in the kitchen. We had fun – cooked and talked food for 18 hrs a week and it felt like a rest every time I went in for a shift, but it was still part-time, the enemy of post-grads everywhere trying to pay off mountains of college debt. I didn’t expect to have so much fun there, to sincerely enjoy my kitchen time the way I did, but it always meant that by the end of my work day I didn’t have that urge to cook, I had worked it off at work. I left work feeling satisfied and the more time I spent there the more I slowly came to realize that I just couldn’t go back to an office job. I liked the movement, I liked the energy and the pace, I liked that when a customer was happy they came up to you after their meal and let you know. I felt connected, I wanted it to succeed. SO I stuck with it. I was working two part time jobs and could make things work.
Until I couldn’t. Boston Local Food Festival came and went, and my time there was done. So I gave up that part time work, then my hours in the burrito bar were cut back. I was devastated, but I tried to make it work, BF was supportive and made enough money for us to get by so it was worth a shot. But I was frustrated and the idea of going back to an office seemed awful, work in an uninspiring job while fantasizing about the things I could do if I tried or work toward the things I want to do? So that’s what I am doing, looking for work that makes me happy and uses my skill-set. I am looking through doors that I once felt were closed to em and keeping an ear out for any and all opportunities that can make me a better person and employee, if food is involved all the better.
It took me over a year to get over losing my former job. I felt hurt and broken by that job – worn down and strung out in all the most unpleasant ways, losing that job was a relief, but it hurt. It hurt to have someone tell me I wasn’t good enough no matter how hard I tried, and it hurt to fail. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time. I was embarrassed, I definitely didn’t write about it here. But, just recently I cleaned up the box of cubicle stuff I had from my old job; pictures to brighten it up, pens, various desk items, toys to entertain me when I got bored. And I realized how far I’ve come over the past year and more. I’ve grown up. I’ve found a niche I think I fit in and I like it. It makes sense.
The pictures in this post are all eats I photographed this year, homemade or eaten out, that I haven’t shared. There’s a lot more here that I didn’t photograph and there are a fair few things I’ve already shared but these are some favorites, or things that stood out in my year of eating out, consoling in comfort food, and watching some of my favorite people’s kids grow from infants to people. It’s been a great year and I have so many great people who stood beside me while I figured my shit out. Thanks, all of you. I am looking forward to 2013. New year, new goals, new leaf.