The ideal work day - a humble mash potato bowl and the joy of doing what you love
This morning I was confronted with a question Kimberly posted on her Instagram feed, about what would be our ideal work day. The truth is, I didn't have to think much on that one. My ideal work day, and it has taken me years to find this out, is precisely the type of days I currently exist in. It's not always perfect, it's not always great, it's not always joyful and boastful and amazing. But it's always my idea of a perfect job. And I am still amazed that I get to do this every day. My ideal work day revloves around writing and styling and photographing - along with lots of editing and tweaking and playing about. It is a kind of work day that leads to immense isolation, and I do feel that my rapport with other human beings is gettig worse and worse - I just don't know how to socialise anymore - but after so many years working underpaid and humiliating, agressive, stress-inducing work environments and jobs, I do thrive on the solitude and the silence. And I love writing. I had actually forgotten how very much I love to write. I had lost my heart and my soul and didn't even know it. It took a twist of fate to have them back again, and for that, I give thanks every day.
I'm priviledged in that I get to do this, precisely this, which is what I love the most. My job is writing. Being a novelist, actually, as blogging comes along as a hobby and a way for me to pursue other creative endeavours. But I do write for a living, and that is something I would never even have considered while growing up. I was always under the impression it was very difficult to do this professionally, and for normal people like me it was something that belonged to the realm of dreams. For years it never even crossed my mind to try and pursue this career. I even stopped writing for quite a lot of my adult years. But life does tend to happen in ways we didn't expect, nor saw coming. For me it was this: the sudden chance to sit down and write. I can claim it as a series of unfortunate events that have led me down this path, but in the end, and as worrisome as it was at the beginning when I could see no light at the end of the tunnel, not even a tunnel, it all panned out, and I give thanks everyday that I get to do what I am most passionate about. For a living. This is now my work, my job, my profession. This is the only type of work that fulfils and makes me happy. Nothing else would do, actually. So I am one of the lucky ones, yes.
And yet, it is with an enormous amount of guilt that I admit to this, my ideal work day is sitting down to write. It is with an immense sense of shame that I concede this is what I do for a living. Because I don't do much of a living out of it anyway, so I feel I am not worthy of this amazing opportunity I have been given. I always feel like I'm squandering away the chance I was granted of doing what I'm most passionate about, what I most love, professionally. I always feel that this is wasted on me, and I am unworthy. My books don't sell all that much, and so it plays in my mind that I must not be sufficiently talented. And If I'm not sufficiently talented, then I don't really deserve to get to sit down and work on what I love. Because I'm not making anything out of it, I feel rather useless. Years and years of being told how useless and unworthy I am have hammered the thought into me. But being stubborn as I am, I persevere, and I write, and I blog, and I cook and style and shoot and edit, always believing one day I will make it, one day I will be worthy and good enough, no, spectacular. I am very ambitious, contrary to common knowledge about me, but not in a financial way. So I work very hard for a sliver of success. And am grateful that my husband is OK with this, and that we manage to get by on his meagre salary alone. Yes, he works very hard to provide for us, but I work very hard too, not just on my job but around the house. So he can focus on his work. And then I can focus on mine too. I have been harshly criticised for this, but it is our life in the end, our choices. It's not a spectacular life, and we do by without so much, but we make do. And work hard.
It's like mash potatoes. They never sound or look spectacular, do they? They have all this humble feel to them, this uninteresting, unappetizing appeal. Atleast for most people I know, mash potatoes is just a sad little thing to serve. Not for me, as I am a sucker for it! And I do believe mash potatoes is worthy of grandeur too. At least mine is, and this is how I cook them:
- 3 to 4 large potatoes -I prefer starchy ones for this
- milk, butter, nutmeg, pepper, salt, chives, allspice
Start by peeling and washing the potatoes, dice them and boil on a pan with plenty of salted water. Once they're cooked and falling apart, drain them. Using a masher (is that a thing? I call my thingee a masher, but don't know the correct term. It's for mashing potatoes, so it's a masher), reduce the potatoes into a purée of sorts, adding splashes of milk along the way, for consistency sake. Now, I will leave the consistency point up to you, some folks prefer runny mash, others a thicker one, you have to see what works for you. Bring the pan back to the stove and on a low heat, add a good knob of butter and mix in well. Check the salt, add more if needed. Season with allspice, nutmeg and black pepper to taste, bring out of the heat and scatter chopped fresh chives over it, as well as a dash more of all spice and pepper. Serve warm with dishes that are thick on gravy, it's the best way to eat mash potatoes, I think.