Friday, August 25, 2017

Free Lance.

I remember when my mom and friends had Avon parties. I wasn't sure where Dad went every day with his pocket protector but it seemed REALLY boring. And ladies with makeup and little cute samples of lipsticks in the 70s seemed like a much better way to spend your time. I was primed early on to be an entrepreneur. I tried briefly a few times for a 9-5 but it didn't work with my pattern of getting somewhere with high energy at 7am and utter narcolepsy from 3pm-6pm. Especially advertising. I wrote all the headlines and copy when the ideas popped in my head. Most likely on the horribly long subway ride from Brooklyn to Midtown Manhattan. By the time the coffee and chatty office hoo ha was over I was done by 10:15am and wanting OUT of the fluorescent light tower.

People who work from home, freelancers, side hustlers, self employed and digital nomads are less rare than 20 years ago, of course. Unless you are trying to finance a hous-- then they look at you and say, NO. (Oh, 2004, we had some fun didn't we? No doc, low doc, go into hock Countrywide give a dog a bone even if he has no way of paying for it...YOU get a mortgage and YOU get a mortgage!)

But today when you can actually make money from an Instagram thread by reading Tarot cards to strangers and taking PayPal payments from Denver and post the reading to YouTube without ever getting out of your jam jams (an actual service I have hired...quite fun) it's no bigs. Open an Etsy store and sell dog collars (a dream) and monetize your blog (a fantasy). I'm shocked when I meet people who actually GO to a 9-5. But they exist.

But all of this World is Your Oyster stuff can be paralyzing. Like the peanut butter aisle in a suburban grocery store. Too. Many. Choices.

For someone like me, very low on repetitive tasks, not an operations person but an idea generator it can be helpful to force some structure into life. I also have bouts of severe memory loss from a biotoxin exposure to degrading silicone in my body, so it gets weird sometimes. Routine is not anything I could manage if I didn't have dogs. They tell you what time it is, when it's walk, pee, bark, eat time. Without them and light cycles and temperature shifts I'd not know what day it is. Literally.

One of the many many handymen I've worked with over the years, Todd W. had a lot of interesting pearls of wisdom behind a pretty unnerving caffeine addiction and unraveling life story bolstered by addiction recovery, living in his car with dogs, and a dream of making cat scratch towers into Kit Kat Condos. He used to say, "Michele, you gotta have some order within the chaos. Some straight lines are necessary, you can't just let it all go to wildflowers. It will look like a crazy person lives here."

He was right of course.  If you want to have your place on parade for the public, keep your "native grass habitat" in the back 40. Most don't know a mugwort from a squash blossom and it just looks "weedy" even if I'm cultivating epazote and winter cherry in there. They may never go outside again during their vacation, but that entrance needs to be tight. I have settled on a goal of Lush and Tight because I am no shrubbery shaver. But I think of the order in chaos advice often. Proving that you can find wisdom anywhere,

if you can look beyond the facade of a semi homeless dude living out of his car drinking thrice microwaved coffee giving design advice. An unlikely Oracle but that's how we learn. 

*Addicts, in my mind, are just geniuses who lacked the discipline and guidance to harness the voices in their heads. If you can get them off the substances they can do amazing things. People who have seen some shit down the tunnel have a lot of insight.

So now I write myself notes, set alarms on my phone, and do things on certain days to keep myself on a calendar. Bread baking is one of those things, and now that summer is over-ish, I can turn the ovens on again.
Sourdough is the most forgiving baking project for someone like me. I was a savory cook, never a pastry chef. I can count on my fingers the number of times I've baked a cake and that's 20 years into a culinary career. Not my thing. Cuz, yes. Too much structure. But bread is different. A little of this, a little of that, keep building in the same bowl, catch a wild yeast, learn to smell when the ferment has blossomed and catch it before it turns into something feral. Working with bacteria keeps you keen. Learn to trust the process that you can't see, and learn to cultivate your instincts. If it doesn't go how you expected, improvise. Maybe it's a pizza crust and not a baguette.  And now, it's ready.

And you build on the last one and start again. Maybe you change it up. Maybe you add more rosemary. Maybe you cold ferment for a couple days. Experiment with your life. See what works. Toss what doesn't into the compost. Start again. Order in Chaos.