Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Work ≠ Me

When you're single with no children, it's easy to let the academic part of your identity take over your life. But lately I've been remembering that before I became an academic, I was a bunch of other things. Friends and neighbors, I'm going to be forty in less than a month, so it seems like an appropriate time to take stock. So here's some random stuff I've been thinking about. If I think about it enough, it may end up popping into the blog from time to time, along with the usual academentia:
  • Food: I'd like to try a new recipe every week. I love to eat, and I really enjoy the process of cooking, when I have the time for it.
  • Mind/body: I've been, off and on, practicing yoga and doing some silent meditation. Most of my adult life, my head has felt like it was full of flies. And lately, my ability to focus on where I'm at, who I'm with, and what I'm supposed to be doing has been getting worse. I'd like to change that.
  • Just plain body: Do you know that I can't do even a single push-up? And that I've never been able to? As I get older, "fit" equals less "pretty/sexy" than "strong/not hobbling around."
  • Creativity: I take pictures. I think I'll keep doing that.
  • Stop waiting: I've been putting off a lot of Stuff I Want To Do until I meet That Special Someone to do it with, or until I'm in the perfect job, or in the perfect location, or am out of debt... the list could go on. Time to realize that my life is what is happening now, rather than what is waiting somewhere up ahead.


Anonymous said...

Food: I'd like to try a new recipe every week. I love to eat, and I really enjoy the process of cooking, when I have the time for it.

Butter the inside of a 9 inch springform pan; dust with flour and shake out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In the food processor, grind 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (aka filberts) just till the result is coarse. (If you can get peeled nuts, use them; if you have the patience to do it yourself, toast them in a 350° oven for 10 minutes, rub in a kitchen towel until a lot of the skins fall off. You won't get them all, but it's worth it-the skins have no flavor.)

Chop 1 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate about like the nuts. (Big kitchen knife does a good job.)

Grate one orange (navels are good) and set aside the zest.

In the mixer bowl, cream 6 oz. room temp butter with 1 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar on low speed. On low-medium speed, add 4 whole eggs, one at a time; beat till each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Raise mixer speed to medium-high and beat 1-2 min. until fairly fluffy.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add 1 cup whole milk and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, alternating one-third of each ingredient at a time. (You may need to scrape the batter down the sides of the bowl once or twice with a rubber spatula.) When completely blended, fold in the orange zest, chopped chocolate, and ground nuts.

Pour into the cake pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. (To encourage even baking I rotate the pan 180° after about 20 minutes.)

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with a dollop of whipped cream if you're feeling invulnerable.

Cribbed from Lidia Bastianich, Lidia's Family Table.

clio's disciple said...

Go you!

Anonymous said...

On the contrary, go thou and do likewise.

The original recipe includes a tablespoon of olive oil in the cake batter; maybe it's the oil I use, but after a few tries I decided the flavor clashed with the rest of the cake, so I leave it out.

medieval woman said...

I especially like the last bullet - do the stuff now, for sure! :)

squadratomagico said...

I'm with Medieval Woman: that last bullet point is key. It's funny how the 40s forces a sort of re-evaluation. I'm well in to my 40s, but since that "decade transition" I've really explored a lot of new things, like performing with the circus, thinking more about art/creativity, yoga, camping festivals, etc. I might be entering a new "slowdown" phase right now, but I'm so glad I did all that stuff.

Definitely keep up with the photo-taking!

Comrade PhysioProf said...

When I turned 40, I felt all of a sudden like I was younger than when I turned 30.

Belle said...

Ah, those dratted birthday re-evals. Your pictures are wonderful - try to push out and find other ways to expand your creativity!

Good Enough Woman said...

As I get older, "fit" equals less "pretty/sexy" than "strong/not hobbling around."

Ahhahaha! So true.

Grad School Drama said...



I mean that, though. I have been doing my "to do" list, as well... now that the semester is over, and the thesis looks like it might be on its way to getting done... well, why not, right? And best for me to re-build some great habits and reconnect with the things I have loved and have loved me back!!!

The Bittersweet Girl said...

Geez, Notorious, get out of my head, will you? I'm approaching 40 and just yesterday sat journaling precisely the same set of thoughts -- especially the last one: that I spent most of my 30s deferring the Things I Really Want to Do in the name of professional advancement ... and, yeah, I'm so over that. Time for something new.

Hooray for being 40 and doing what you want!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ Rootless: Thanks for the recipe. Unfortunately, baking is beyond me. Cooking I can do. Baking is like chemistry. But maybe someone else can try the recipe and bring me a piece?

To others: thanks for the identification (and yes, BSG, I am inside your brain. right. now.). Historiann makes a point over at her place, in response: loosely translated, that forty is a good time to realize that you no longer have to give a flying fuck about what other people think. Not that this gives you license to be an asshole, I think, but that you can stop contorting yourself.

Unless, of course, you are Squadratomagico, in which case "contorting yourself" is actually recreational.

Anonymous said...

Baking does have something in common with science, but science before microscopes and accurate measuring devices etc. This particular cake doesn't use any of the tricky techniques like folding beaten egg whites or rolling out piecrust; if you have a processor and a stand mixer (or even a hand mixer) it's pretty straightforward. Two reassuring things to remember: people were baking successfully long before any of those gadgets (though grinding nuts by hand is tiresome), and (as I learned to my relief when first learning to roll joints) even a partial failure is acceptable on the way to mastering the skill. Cigarette papers are (or were) cheap; if a cake is undercooked in the middle, put it back in the oven, or eat the perimeter and adjust the time and temp on your next try. To paraphrase that actors' cliché about death and comedy, baking is easy; paleography is hard.

Anonymous said...

Strangely apposite...

Anonymous said...

good luck with the resolutions ... but please continue to post! Love to read your blog. :-)

profgrrrrl said...

Oh, this must be related to turning 40! I'm on the doorstep myself and although I've deviated from the all-academic all-the-time life out of necessity recently (a young child is a rude awakening in that regard), I'm starting to become very concerned about more mindful living and having my days extend beyond the current dynamic duo of tasks: academic work and caring for family.

Stop waiting is important, I think. And fit definitely has come to take on a new meaning.

I look forward to reading about your progress.