Talk about the elephant in the room. There are no two ways around it: I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. My top five rationalizations/ excuses/reasons follow, accompanied by—fair warning—a healthy dose of whining and self-pity. Read on at your own risk.
1. I’m broke.
I recently moved, as you may recall, and as a result, my living expenses have nearly doubled. I’m working fewer hours at a lower rate than I have in the past couple of years, even though I’m juggling multiple gigs—and one of my (former) primary clients is declining to pay me without some major teeth-pulling. All of that means that I’m eating out a lot less than I have been—my splurges these days are crappy Chinese takeout and the $5 lunch special (below) from the Jamaican place on my corner—and I’m cooking a lot more pantry-based, clean-out-the-fridge style meals.
2. I’ve lost my cooking mojo.
We’ve touched on the idea that Jill and I have different approaches to cooking: I normally favor recipe-culling, list-making, then shopping, while she prefers to stroll through the store, pick out something that looks good, then find (or create) a recipe to suit whatever ingredients she’s chosen. The latter approach is the one that most real chefs claim to prefer; I’ve recently attempted to follow suit, but my experiences prove that I’m not even close to being a real chef. When left to my own devices, I’m fairly useless. Case in point: Just a few weeks ago, I sautéed an entire bunch of spinach that tasted of nothing but salt—the whole lot wound up in the garbage.
Granted, I have had a few triumphs. This pasta—inspired by Frankies 457′s cavatelli with brown butter and sage—was a winner. Maybe ill-advised as a 3 a.m. snack, but a winner nonetheless. Even so, I just haven’t been blown away by anything I’ve cooked lately, and as a result, I’m less than excited to talk about it. Which leads me to…
3. I’m uninspired.
Maybe I was never quite as creative as I’d like to think, maybe my creativity has taken a sabbatical, maybe it’s an old-fashioned case of writer’s block; any way you cut it, I’m feeling very “been there, done that” about my contributions to this blog. I’m getting very little joy out of the process these days, and I can’t expect anyone to be excited about content that makes me feel like a sleepwalker while I’m writing it. If I’m not excited about what I’m cooking or where I’m eating, it comes through in my posts—or lack thereof.
4. I canceled my cable.
This seems counterintuitive: Most people become more productive when they cancel their cable, not less. Unfortunately, I cut the cord, but I haven’t managed to kick the television habit—my addiction to 90210 reruns knows no bounds.
I watch everything online now, and while that means I’m on the computer and could therefore be writing even more, it also means it’s harder to multitask. A little bit of self-control would go a long way in this regard, but I’m too ADD (admittedly, self-diagnosed) these days to write without the external stimuli.
5. Fine. Maybe I’ve just been a little depressed.
This one is hard to talk about without sounding completely melodramatic, so please bear with me.
I’ve made some hard decisions in the past year, and I know that they’re the right ones; still, though, on those days when I’m wallowing, when I stop to compare my life now and then, the sense of loss can be paralyzing. Add to that the current financial strain, the stress inherent in finding, keeping, and getting paid for freelance work, and the feeling that unless I make a major change I’ve reached the end of the line, career-wise, and you have one overwhelmed soon-to-be 34-year-old. Which is why I couldn’t help but laugh—ruefully, but with some relief—when I spotted the work pictured above on a recent High Line stroll. I might feel like things are completely out of control, but at least I’m not the only one.