For anyone who doesn’t follow my inflated sense of self-importance status updates on Facebook, allow my to clarify the title of this post:
1. I wasn’t fired.
2. It shouldn’t invoke empathy or condolences.
Essentially, what began as a 6-month contract position at OUP just remained that, and my 180 days (give or take) were up. I learned how to survive in a busy, change management-y environment, and for that I am grateful. I also learned that project management is not something I want to pursue, and that I might not be as detail-oriented as I thought (which, for me, is a good thing). Most importantly, I learned the value sharing homemade treats with your co-workers. Seriously, don’t underestimate the benefit of white chocolate coconut flapjacks on a Monday morning.
I don’t think my time without a paycheck will be too indulgent, as I have a few more interviews next week. In particular, I’m holding out hope for one job (still within OUP) that gets me giddy just thinking about it, but am trying not to get too excited about it, to avoid disappointment if I’m not the chosen one.
Having a week off to lie around the house and contemplate my existence brought me back to my first few weeks in Oxford, when I thrived on experiencing this new environment where everyone was so surprisingly polite (save for the blatant racism against Eastern Europeans) and biking on the left side of the road was still terrifying. I’ve gotten used to those things now, so this week I consciously looked for “new” things to appreciate and absorb – what I might overlook in the weekly routine of work, eat, sleep. Here’s what I found, did, and didn’t do in my Monday-Friday of freedom.
1. I went shopping far too often. A trip (or 3) to Waitrose for milk became an exercise in impulse-buying exotic ingredients like quail’s eggs (overrated) and chipotle paste (underrated, and I put it in everything now). But the best find, perhaps, was this stranger’s grocery list in my shopping basket:
– Flowers/yoghurt (aww. Also, yogurt with an h just looks wrong).
-Croissants (maybe you’re French?)
-Lime/lemon, fish (I assume you are doing something with both of these since they were written next to each other. Ceviche, perhaps?)
– Noilly Prat (huh?) / Vodka x 3, Tonic (that’s a lot of vodka! Maybe the croissants are there to soak up the booze?)
– Crisps (okay, they’re definitely English. Did not specify flavor, but likely something bizarre like Roast Chicken & Thyme or Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion, my personal favorite).
-Sm Tatties (British friends, does this mean potatoes? My mind is in the gutter…)
-Phone card / Tom Katanop (utterly confused by this, because who still buys those pre-paid phone cards, and why do you need it to call someone named Tom Katano?)
After finding this gem, I tried really hard to identify the list-less shopper, because they clearly needed a reminder to buy those flowers and tatties. But it could have been anyone, from a single dad to a mom with 3 kids to an elderly lady who loves her vodka, so I gave up the search.
2. A corollary to the above: I made recipes. Yes, this is actually a big departure from my usual weekday affair of throwing some meat and vegetables into a pan and crossing my fingers that things will work out. I made some really tasty ginger-garlic chicken in tomato sauce, ghetto sushi (canned tuna with spicy mayo…), salted chocolate peanut brittle that I can still feel stuck in my teeth, and hash browns that involved mixing chorizo into the potatoes. Sorry, tatties (I think). They were all good, but I think I’m going to stick to mainly making things up as I go along. One of the best things I made was an impromptu dessert that I came up with on the fly:
Butter + Sugar + Fruit = Yum (I need to work on the title)
– Heat up a small non-stick pan to high heat. Throw in a tablespoon or so of butter, and let it melt.
– Just as the butter begins to brown, add some apricots (sliced in half and pitted) and sugar. Mix around, then cover with a lid, lower heat to medium, and let cook for a few minutes.
– Add some sliced bananas and cinnamon to the pan, mix it all around, and let cook some more until everything is melty and smells really good. The apricots will have softened considerably.
– Mix in with some yogurt (or yoghurt, if you insist).
The inspiration for this probably came from my dad, because I vaguely remember making baked bananas like this before, and I am pretty sure there was butter involved, as there should be in all desserts.
3. I started to read a book again (gasp!) Half of a Yellow Sun, and it’s really good so far. A co-worker gave it to me as a parting gift, so not only do I enjoy it for the sentimental value, but it’s just a great read so far.
I’ll end on that note for now, because we seem to have a break from the unexpected rain and John and I are going for our weekly run.
P.S. I forgot to add what I didn’t do. I didn’t have insomnia, I didn’t spend hours scheduling meetings, and I didn’t feel like every day was Groundhog Day. I’m exaggerating a little bit, but it’s been pretty wonderful.