Week 2 of Being an Unproductive Member of Society

Week two of my self-inflicted, stress-induced leave from work went a lot better than week one. I think I needed that first week just to decompress and get all the garbage out. This week, I had a lot more energy and I got a lot more accomplished. For instance, I:

  • planted approximately 150 bulbs
  • went to the dentist
  • finished The Lathe of Heaven, an excellent science-fiction classic by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • watched approximately four very stupid movies on HBO
  • got upset because The Office was a rerun, already!
  • got job advice from my mom, which then made me break down into uncontrollable sobs
  • got my mom all upset and worried about me and treating me nice
  • updated this blog way too much

I also started coaching this week. Coaching is different from therapy, in that coaching focuses on what’s happening now and moving forward, while therapy tries to find a way to blame everything miserable in your life on your parents. As my dad says, if you’re over thirty, you’re too old to be blaming your parents for what’s going on in your life.

I like my coach’s style because it meshes well with my personal philosophy:

Why are you so frustrated and angry and sad, Shannon? No, it’s not that you are a terrible misfit who cannot function in modern-day society. It’s simple–something in your life is clashing with your values and passions. Let’s start with what makes you feel happy and satisifed, centered and energized, and then figure out how to change your life–in small, manageable steps–to achieve that every moment of every day.

Finally, the solution is not that I have to fix myself. The solution is that I have to fix my world to suit myself. I can do that. I think.

Also, coaching is teaching me that I can only be responsible for myself, my own well being and happiness. I cannot be responsible for my boss, my supervisees, my co-workers or the nonprofit I work for–only myself. That is a very important thing for me to know. I should tattoo it on my forehead to remind me of it every morning when I am brushing my teeth.

I didn’t do a lot of interesting cooking this week, though. Marty was gone to California most of the week, so I stuck mostly to soups and salads.

OK Recipe of the Week

There really was no “best” recipe this week, but in an effort to use up the last of the dying basil plant, I did try a Pasta Salad with Pesto from the July 2006 issue of Cook’s Illustrated that I think is worth keeping because it is a) yet another handy way to use up pesto, and b) it would be a good offering for a picnic or potluck come summertime. Still, it didn’t knock my socks off or anything. But I learned a few important things from making this recipe:

  • Adding a little lemon juice to pesto makes it taste fresher and brighter
  • If you want pesto to stay green longer, substitute some baby spinach for part of the basil–I didn’t have baby spinach, so I substituted arugula and that worked fine
  • It’s okay to mix pesto with mayonnaise if you’re making pasta salad because that makes the dressing cling to the pasta better, so don’t worry about upsetting any Italians

Basil Plant Massacre I just had to share this picture of my basil plant. I hacked that thing up in the dark, and in the cold light of day, it looked like a murder victim. Just look at all the leaves scattered about it like sad little mutilated body parts.

Recipe Failure of the Week

Actually, the Cream of Tomato Soup recipe in The New Best Recipe is really, really good–sweet, smooth, creamy and old-fashioned. But I will never make it again. For one thing, there are lot of steps to get to what is essentially, with a grilled cheese sandwich, a rainy-day lunch. Second, although I followed the directions to the letter, I ruined one of my nice Calphalon baking pans because when I roasted the whole, canned tomatoes, the juices oozed out like a lava flow and then hardened into this black, impossible-to-get-off crust that fused the aluminum foil–used for easier clean-up, ha ha–to the pan. When a recipe ruins a piece of cookware, that recipe is out of rotation. That may sound spiteful, but as my husband says, there’s no better reason to do anything than out of spite.

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5 thoughts on “Week 2 of Being an Unproductive Member of Society

  1. Marty 27 October 2006 at 5:37 pm

    That’s not too spiteful, but I think you’re moving in the right direction. Which pan got ruined???

  2. simplycooking 27 October 2006 at 6:58 pm

    One of the baking sheets that your mother gave me.

  3. Marty 30 October 2006 at 11:30 am

    oh, well I knew those would get ruined eventually.

  4. David 10 November 2006 at 9:11 pm

    I’ve liked most of your tips, but lemon in the pesto, I don’t know about that. I’m a pesto purist I guess (walnuts instead of pine nuts, for instance, just doesn’t work for me).

  5. […] a recipe for a “better pasta salad with pesto.” I clipped the recipe, so I must have made it at one time. I pulled it out recently to see if it was worth making again, perhaps with a little […]

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