I think my biggest personality fault is trying to do too much. I have a lot of interests, and I like to indulge them all. My relationships are important to me, which means maintaining an active social life. I want to do well professionally. I want to learn. I need to sleep.
Every week, I try to do it all. I try to cook and dine and read and write and see art and see my friends and do yoga and stay active and run my errands and answer my emails and go to work and keep my apartment clean and…yeah. You get the idea.
Sometimes, however, one item on my to-do list has to take precedence. Two weeks ago, the theater I work at reopened after the first renovation in its history – a history that dates back to 1923 – and I found myself with work-related commitments nearly every evening for two weeks straight. In week one, my dinners ranged from an 11PM appetizer of spinach cannelloni with a glass of champagne to leftover passed hors d’oeuvres to a hummus sandwich eaten in a subway car. Office politics grated on me. Work stress happened at 9PM one Saturday night. This wonderfully full and balanced life that I try to lead disappeared under special events and ticket envelopes and lists of VIPs.
And yet, one night I told myself, “You are not doing enough. That book you are reading for pleasure hasn’t been opened in eight days. You’ve been to two yoga classes in twelve days, and that’s been it in the way of exercise. You paid too much money for a cab home to Brooklyn; you forgot your lunch on the kitchen counter and now you have to buy it. You need to set up appointments at the schools you might want to attend next fall. You also really need to get your eyebrows threaded before a Frida Kahlo situation sets in, and your laundry basket has spilled over into not one, but two piles on the floor. And you miss your friends, and god it’d be nice to go on a date, and wouldn’t you also love to have a long phone conversation with your mom and dad?”
But at the end of another fourteen-hour day, all I could do was lay in my bed and watch the pilot episode of Felicity on Netflix.
Which is when I realized: I last watched the pilot episode of Felicity when it premiered in 1998, and I was 12 years old. And now I’m 26, and I wasted 45 minutes of my life watching something that entertained me 14 years ago when my only responsibility was my homework and practicing the melody of my Haftorah for my upcoming Bat Mitzvah.
Welcome to my brain since October 24th.
Halfway through the craziness, I got one day – a Sunday – to take a breather. In the afternoon, I met my friend Shayne for a cup of tea and a couple hours with our respective writing assignments for the fiction class we are both taking. The next day I would have to work, but the theater would mercifully be dark, so I’d have the evening off. I planned to finally go to a yoga class that night.
As I complained to Shayne that I can’t seem to get a handle on life when work is so busy, she said to me, “You need to take a night off. Go home tomorrow night. Make soup.”
The next night, I didn’t go to yoga. I went home, opened a bottle of wine, and covered my kitchen counters with vegetables from end to end. I ate a beautiful meal, and I went to sleep early.
For the rest of the week, I had this soup. Work was still crazy and I never got to yoga and I didn’t read my book and my to-do list didn’t get shorter. But I felt better. And I think, now that life is calm again, I am beginning to learn that every week, I don’t need to do it all.
butternut squash and apple cider soup [serves 4]
1) In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add curry powder and cinnamon and sauté 30 seconds.
2) Add squash, apple cider, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Squash should be very tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
3) In batches, pureé soup in blender or food processor. Return to pot.
4) Stir in whole milk, lemon juice, and sea salt to taste. Simmer 5 minutes. If necessary, add water to reach desired consistency. Serve warm.