My husband and I have this ritual of talking on to each other on our cellphones on our way to work. A daily 15 minute conversation. Some people think its silly, but after the hustle and bustle of our morning routine, it makes me feel good to "start the day" with a meaningful conversation with my best friend. About a month ago, he asked me what was bothering me. Surprised, I asked what he meant. "You've been really… quiet… or something, lately." He was right. I launched into thoughts I had been mulling over for the last few days. "I don't know, I'm just feeling very restless lately… like I'm in a rut. Just going day to day, going through the motions. I feel like I need a project or something to keep me busy, like going back to school or buying a house or having another baby or something, something to occupy me."
I think he called me crazy, and mentioned something about my work and having a one year old toddler and the fact that we're still paying for law school and can barely afford the little money pit we already have. I was a little taken aback by his response. Later, when I brought it up, he informed me that the last time I said I felt "restless," I broke up with him (after contemplating this, I realized he was right). After saying he was overreacting, I dropped it. Because a happy marriage is really more important than satisfying my little whims intended to shake our lives up.
And then…. I saw the book in Costco. The French Laundry cookbook, packaged together with Ad Hoc. I picked it up, admiring the heft and shiny pictures, the technique and beautiful food.
Let me back up a second. I knew someone in law school who actually worked at The French Laundry. He said working there was rewarding yet terrible, that the chef's lifestyle was insane and that law school was a zillion times better. Or something along those lines. I also had reservations at The French Laundry once, intended for my birthday. Next thing I know, something came up at work, I was pregnant and wouldn't be able to enjoy Napa the way it should be, and couldn't imagine dropping $500 on a meal with my impending bundle of joy, so we cancelled. Making the recipes myself wouldn't be the same.
I think Brandon saw the spark in my eyes, something that has been missing for a while. I think I said something about how it would be fun to start having dinner parties again (something I haven't done since law school). Brandon insisted we should get it. But only if I promised I would make everything in it. "A project" he said. And one that would cost less than getting an LLM in tax or buying a fixer-upper or having a second kid, I'm sure he thought.
About me: I am a chronic overachiever, without the perfectionist streak that would make me successful. I double majored AND double minored in undergrad, all the while working 20-40 hour weeks. I attended a highly regarded law school while working a solid part time job, and still made time for dinner and a movie nights with all of my fabulous friends. I've talked about missing law school, missing the bonds, missing all of my friends who live at least 2 hours away now.
Oh, and another thing about me: I am the pickiest eater ever. I don't like meat, much to my husband's constant dismay. I don't like most shellfish. Smelling caviar makes me think of vomit. I am mildly allergic to tomatoes, and can't imagine placing a piece of foie gras in my mouth. And I'm squeamish: I cover my eyes and squeal in disgust when I'm watching Grey's Anatomy, even though (and maybe because) I know the intestines are really pig's intestines.
So, yeah, this project is going to be a handful.
As a fairly educated person, I am almost embarrassed to say that I had to look up the meaning of Ad Hoc (I knew generally what it meant, but not exactly). "For the special purpose or end presently under consideration." (thank you, dictionary.com) Ad Hoc describes my reasons for cooking TFL: a special purpose project, meant to occupy my time and yank me out of these doldrums, a way of bringing back my dinner party tradition and bonding with people. A way to channel my energy. At least until I can convince my husband that I should get that LLM/house/baby.