I thought about quitting my job for a few months before I did it. I was never fully satisfied there, but I thought that it was a perfectly good job to have while I lived in Bloomington and finished my novel. It provided a good income, I had great benefits, I loved my co-workers. The work was fine. But that was okay. I could have kept a job with all those pros where the work was "just fine."
It started to change for me in December. I began having daily panic attacks in the office - hands shaking, fingers going ice cold, chest tightening. I dreaded going back to work on Friday evenings before I even enjoyed my weekend. I developed a brown rash on both sides of my stomach that no ointment would cure. My tipping point came in mid-February. I was trying to go to sleep on a Sunday night, ill from thinking about work, and knew that I couldn't get through the week without some kind of reprieve. The next morning, I emailed my boss that I would be taking the next week off work. In any other situation, I couldn't have imagined taking off for an entire week with such short notice. I spent the next week doing what I loved - baking, drinking, reading tarot, and writing - and gaining the courage to leave my job. It was during that week off, midway through my second bourbon and tea, that I pulled the Magician card when asking about my next steps. The Magician is a powerful and reassuring card - it is flooded with yellow, it has all the four suits of the deck, and is a card of beginnings.
I'd be lying if I said that EATING ELSEWHERE was born from quitting my job. Or from a magical tarot reading. EATING ELSEWHERE has been brewing for over two years now, since Justin and I traveled through Europe with one of our best friends. Justin and I have always planned our vacations around restaurants, bakeries, and food carts and when we talk about our trips, the food we ate is a vivid part of our recollections. Eating, baking, and cooking are significant for me, and not only because I love to eat.
For about five years now, baking has helped me cope with severe anxiety, depression, and disordered eating. Baking has been a mechanism to regain control over my life and my body. Most importantly, baking gave me a way to express love to people who really deserved it. You might think as a writer, I am eloquent and open about my feelings all the time, but I've often struggled with telling people I love them. Baking has given me the perfect way to show (then eat) my feelings with others. Slowly, as I regained control, managed my anxiety, learned to open up, and developed unbelievable relationships, I got better at communicating my feelings and I got happier too. I owe a lot of that to baking and the wonderful bloggers I followed in the process (The Naptime Chef, Smitten Kitchen, Chocolate Covered Katie, and so many others).*
After spending a year doing something that made me unhappy, I thought what better way to put it all behind me than finally writing about my experiences with food, both the dishes I make and the ones others make too. In fact, as you're reading this, I'm in D.C. (my first time!) and I'm probably eating this or maybe this. I can assure you that you'll hear plenty about all the delicious food I try in D.C. and I'll also make a huge effort to let Justin take pictures of the treats before I shove them in my mouth.
In the meantime, you can steal my chocolate chip cookie recipe right over here. Still to come: a recipe for a peach tart with bourbon glaze and food reviews from D.C.
*Please know that anxiety, depression, and disordered eating are all very serious and I am in no way trivializing others' experiences. I am also not suggesting baking as the sole, main, or even as a good coping mechanism for any of these. I am not a medical professional and would never attempt to take the place of one. I am only speaking about my personal experiences and relationship to baking.