Been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately (like right now) even though I’m thoroughly exhausted from consecutive nights of frustrating wakefulness and a lingering cold. I keep trying to analyze the causes of this nocturnal prison but they escape me for the moment. Or maybe there’s just too many to list and I’d have to start paying those who read this blog for cyber-therapy and frankly, I don’t have the cash flow. But I’m tired and desperate so I figured maybe I would blog myself to sleep.
This past month has been fast paced and full of change. Within a week’s time, I went from unemployed to self-employed, through luck, good friends, and of course, my sparkling personality. Though I’m happy to be off the proverbial government cheese, it’s been hard to adjust to lower pay, regular hours, and oddly enough, low stress work. I’ve never known anything other than a rat race.
And I’ve also continued on this arc of regression that I started when my job got downsized by sinister forces clad in business suits made from the stolen lives of hard-working men and women. I moved from my own apartment back to my parents house in Southern California, where my mom regularly told my dad what to cook me for dinner and prepared plates of cut fruit for me, no matter how much I protested. And now I’m back in the bay area, renting a room from a friend and sleeping on a twin sized aerobed on the floor while I save money and bide my time. I haven’t slept on a twin bed in years, and I often tell my landlord half-jokingly that I feel oppressed when sleeping on the floor because it feels like the walls are closing in.
But my priorities have shifted so I’m more concerned about saving money for the future and what to do next when this contract job is over than about mild claustrophobia or not having all my belongings up here. I drove up in a car and it all has to fit in the car when I leave. A lot of the stuff I thought was important in my prior life (which ended February 27th, 2009 to be exact), I now consider materialistic and wasteful. I sold all my brand name purses on E-bay and now shop at the local “antique” store for odds and ends and get my fashion threads at Target…come to think of it, some things haven’t changed.
While I’m lying awake at night trying my best to sleep, lots of things run through my head like what should I wear to work tomorrow? Did I already wear it earlier this week and even if I did, will people notice? I packed in such haste that I didn’t bring enough work clothes with me and though I brought up the sewing machine, my skills are far from prêt-à-porter status. Or I’ll wonder if I should just add ten more minutes to my alarm clock now so I can sleep in longer and perhaps if I drive a little faster, I can leave for work a little later. But those maddening slowpokes on the 880…
Of course, food is never far from my mind and during these sleepless moments, I think a lot about food. “Think” is probably too slight of a verb. “Obsess” is more true to form. Depending on my mood, I’ll crave sushi, croissants, a good chocolate truffle, soft-boiled eggs, lemon bundt cake, warm corn-tortillas, or jamón. Some sweet stuff but mostly savory. And then as my cravings tick along with the seconds on the clock, I start formulating all these dishes in my head based on flashes of words and pictures that float in the upper recesses of my mind which I use as my inspiration.
For example, last night, an earlier email from Babyfigs on Land’s End reminded me of the wild fennel that grow along the trail and that got me craving a fennel and orange roast chicken over parsnips and potatoes. Somehow I drifted off to Ithaca and Macro-Mama and the best vegan smorgasbord I’d ever eaten. Forget the vegan part, it was just amazing. This led to a quinoa tabouleh with a supporting cast of cumin crusted lamb chops (well, I eat meat). As usual, my mind was never far from Spain and bacalao. Thus, pan-seared cod and crispy garlic with roasted cauliflower and tomato provençal. As I was lying there thinking of cooking and eating, I literally went through the steps of creating the dishes, from prep to stove top. Need to cover the chicken for an hour and then take off the lid so the skin can brown…make the crispy garlic first and then use the same oil to cook the cod…my feet are cold, soup sounds good…chili would be perfect…I wonder if I can make a thing of chili and pour cornbread batter on top and bake it in the oven…will it rise and bake like a tex mex shepherds pie or will it be a glop of crap…and the roasted cauliflower…kalamata olives would be great with it…and so on. I was so caught up in the process that I could literally taste the brine of the olives. It’s just one of those things I do, besides not sleeping (like now).
Of all the food floating in my head…the one that I am most fixated on is the fennel and orange roast chicken so I’m going to have to make it. This means a trip to Berkeley Bowl for fennel and other fresh herbs Sunday afternoon because I’m going to miss the Oakland Farmer’s Market tomorrow and won’t be able to cook until Monday. If all goes well, I’m going to turn sleep deprivation into something productive and a delicious chicken will be digesting in my belly come Monday night.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a good night’s sleep then.