On most days I wake up and can’t believe that people actually pay me to write and cook for a living. My afternoons of toiling in corporate big beauty seem more distant with every batch of gluten-free carrot cake pancakes. And on days when I get to leisurely eat said pancakes in front of an equally indulgent mid-afternoon episode of Orange Is The New Black, life is truly sweet.
But like any job, there are also the days of bureaucratic boredom and frustration; the difficult clients, scheduling annoyances, and creative pursuits that, when confined to a rushed 2-hour time slot, feel all at once laborious and half-assed. These everyday pitfalls, even if they happen within the comfort of my own home, can leave me feeling exhausted and out of sorts–like, I’m destined to still be “faking it til I make it” at age 45.
Freelancers of every age definitely suffer from the grass-is-always-greener syndrome. My schedule is the subject of envy for a lot of my friends who are still wearing unflattering pencil skirts, clocking their weekdays in cubicles and taking the crowded 6 train at 8 in the morning. But I have to admit, despite the flexible schedule, mid-day pancake making, and occasional workweek TV guilty pleasures, there are many days when I miss my former life of going to an office everyday.
The reasons have nothing to do with pencil skirts (which I somehow always managed to make look disheveled), and everything to do with community.
When you work alone, there’s no one there to give you advice in the moment. Not only are there no road maps or shared resources being handed to you, but there’s no one sitting at the adjacent desk to flash an eye roll if your boss is being a bitch or a deal falls through because mercury is in retrograde.
Last week on the podcast StartUp, Alex Bloomberg talked about the trickiness of cofounder issues. One of the hardest parts of partnership dysfunction he said, is that the only person in the world who can understand the unique brand of stress and anxiety you’re facing is the one person you can’t talk to in that moment.
During my first few years of blogging and book writing, I definitely took for granted how important it was to have someone by my side sharing in the same wacky, haphazard work experience. And now that I’m on my own, I’ve been trying to bring more people into my life who balance a similar hybrid of random professional work and long term book writing.
These blogger-chef soul sisters are really the only ones who get what my life is like on a daily basis. But because of our mutually weird schedules, it can often be hard to get in the same room together to share those ever-necessary eye rolls and commiserate about the healthy hedonism Catch22 of shooting cocktail recipes at 10am on a Wednesday.
Ever since a group of us got together at Dana Cowin’s apartment in the fall for a blogger potluck, I’ve been trying to think about ways I can foster more community offline. Serena (Domesticate Me), Anna (The Yellow Table), Amie (The Healthy Apple), and I have formed a little dinner posse to talk shop and share tips. But we wanted to get a bigger group involved, and organize an evening that could highlight all the talent in the room and provide a proper backdrop for genuine connection.
Anna, being the event wizardess that she is, pulled together an amazing venue (Maman NYC), table stylist (Chinae Alexander), and photographer (Signe Bircke) for our first ever Friends In Food Potluck last month. It was a magical evening of swapping stories over delicious homemade food, and just what my spirit needed after a long Spring of holing up in my dark writer’s cave.
My contribution was this beet hummus with lemony yogurt sauce, which I thought would look particularly fetching with the pink floral menu design. If you’re looking for an easy appetizer that will stand out amidst a jam-packed buffet, I highly recommend roasting a beet and adding it to this classic hummus recipe. I’ve also made it with white beans instead of chickpeas and it still kills.
More importantly, July 4th is on the horizon, and I know you’ll all thinking of clever ways to add a little red while and blue to your table. My red beets, white yogurt sauce, and blue potato chips got you covered.
If you’re in the New York area and want to join in on the Friends in Food fun, we’ll be doing another event this fall! Shoot me a note in the comments section.
And as always, thanks to everyone here who keeps me company at the office every day, even if it’s just virtually.
Roasted Beet Hummus with Lemony Yogurt
Combine the garlic, chickpeas, beet, tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, water, salt, and cumin in a food processor and puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning.
In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt and remaining lemon juice. Whisk until smooth and season to taste with salt.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the lemony yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, the mint leaves and some reserved chickpeas and beets. Serve alongside blue potato, pita chips or crudités.