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I quit my paralegal job at the beginning of February to pursue my writing career full-time.
It was the right decision, for a variety of reasons, and I'm incredibly fortunate to be in a situation where making the leap into self-employment was financially tenable. But even needed transitions can be difficult, especially when you are the sort of person who thrives on stability and routine. After years of commuting to downtown Minneapolis with Mike, I'm now at home alone in suburbia for eleven hours a day. The work that I used to cram into Tuesdays, evenings, and weekends is now what fills every weekday. I have to figure out quarterly taxes, find clients, and send out pitches—so many pitches. There's a new daily wardrobe (yay jeans!), a new set of financial considerations, and new people to network with.
In many ways, I have a new life. And that's wonderful and scary, freeing and exhausting.
I've been trying to deal with all the stress and newness by setting up routines, with varying levels of success. I try to leave the house every day, to work for a couple of hours at a coffee shop or the library. On Fridays, I carpool with Mike and spend my day working in various spaces at his workplace. I still have my morning snack at 9:30, my lunch of reheated leftovers at noon, and my afternoon snack at 2:30. But sometimes, it's difficult to find the motivation to leave the house when it's cold and gray, to wear actual clothes instead of leggings and a hoodie, to establish the routines that I know I need when everything seems so up in the air.
But I still have this blog. And after nearly six years and hundreds of posts, it's become a routine as good as any. Printing a recipe, marking up my changes, and measuring ingredients into little glass bowls. Arranging all of the ingredients in front of my living room window, where the light is best, and taking a picture. Cooking the recipe, wooden spoon in one hand and pen in the other, and making notes of cooking times and techniques. Carefully staging the finished product in one of the dishes from my food prop closet filled with years of thrift shop finds and taking more pictures by the living room window. Editing the photos, writing the recipe, and drafting the intro—it's something to hold on to when it feels like the rest of my life is too slippery to grasp.
This is a simple, straightforward soba noodle salad, because that's what I need right now. The original recipe calls for baby kale and cucumbers; I substituted a large helping of arugula. If you divide this into four portions, it's a bit on the small side as an entree—I served Trader Joe's vegetable masala burgers on the side to fill it out into a meal. This salad would also pair excellently with a side of steamed edamame or fried or baked tofu. I used Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste since that's what I keep on hand, but feel free to use whatever Thai chili paste you have available. Note that many Thai chili pastes contain anchovies, shrimp, and other animal-based ingredients, so check the labels carefully if you want this recipe to be vegetarian or vegan.
Based on the recipe from the Kitchn
Serves 4 as a light entree
- (10-11) ounce package soba noodles
- 3 packed cups of arugula
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons Thai chili paste
- 1 clove garlic, minced
Prepare soba noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
Meanwhile, toss the arugula and green onions in a large bowl. In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, oil, chili paste, and garlic until smooth.
Add the prepared noodles and dressing to the bowl with the arugula. Toss until well-combined.
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