I think it’s so awesome when readers come up to me and say “I love your blog. You sound like you have the greatest life.” This conclusion is based on the fact that I regularly…eat porcupine meatballs? That’s a joke, but it’s also kind of serious.
I need to back up for a second. My first job out of college was at a financial consulting firm. The people in my office were very nice (especially my friend Han who called me over to his Sun computer one morning to show me this cool new thing called “The Net”) but I had no idea what I was doing and kept my phone on the “direct-to-voicemail” function all day because I was too nervous to talk to clients. It is a miracle I lasted 14 months there — I hated it. But since I was raised in a certain way (aka TriState Ashkenazi) I was programmed to think of these kinds of jobs (law, medicine, business) as the real jobs. And when you are in a real job, you aren’t necessarily happy all the time. “That’s why it’s called a job,” said one jerky associate (Dartmouth ’92) when I made the mistake of saying that I wasn’t 100% fulfilled compiling Strategic Action Reports for Lazard Freres. (At least I think that’s what I was doing.) I will always remember that conversation, as well as the “informational interview” I had later that year with the mother of a friend of mine who was like the Don Draper of the 80′s. She asked me what made me happy. A lot of things made me happy, but I had just put together a recipe book for my best friend for her birthday (crafted from stolen office supplies!) so I answered “Food.” Ha ha ha.
“So let’s think about jobs in food.”
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! No one gets a job in food. That is the very definition of Not a Real Job.
She looked at me as only someone who had made a lot of money from a creative career could look at me. “Why not?”
I worshipped this woman, but it took me a long time (like 15 years) to come around to processing her message. Not the first, obvious level of the message — that you should pursue what you love — but the second: That food can not only be a real job, but in my mind, it can be real-er than most jobs. After all, you can actually eat a meatball. And that meatball gives you a reason to sit down and eat more meatballs with your children. And the meatball can bring happiness to your children. And other parents’ children. And then those parents email you to say how happy they are that the meatball made their kids happy. What, pray tell, is more real than that?
OK, so I’ve strayed, but the point is this: If it seems like I have some kind of amazingly great life (there is plenty of evidence to contest this conclusion, I promise) it’s because of your baseline assumption: If you’re eating well, you must be living well. And because of mine: A meatball is so much more than a meatball.