Thursday, February 14, 2013

What I Love

Rivers Edge Chèvre's "Petit Bonheur" bloomy-rind cheese studded with pink peppercorns

My sister wonders if I'm feeling uncertain about my future because I haven't found my passion yet. I wonder if I'm feeling uncertain because my passions seem to change fairly frequently. I can get very focused on something, but generally have not maintained that focus over a long period of time. Maybe it's because I'm essentially fairly lazy, and at a certain point all endeavours require more work than I'm willing to put in. Take the whole freelance writing career thing, for example: at this point, what I should (I hate that word) be doing is growing my client list so that I don't depend on my one steady client and my other occasional one. Because if my steady client decides he doesn't need me any more, I've got no income. But going out and looking for new work is boring, and I don't really enjoy mass-marketing myself (though I'm very good at selling myself in person), and trying to bid against people who are willing to work for $3/hour is just depressing, because I am not willing to do that. However, that's a good way to build possible longer-term client relationships - it's just a hell of a lot of work for not much money at the start. The last time I took that road I also had a full-time job so I didn't need to depend on the writing for income.

And if I were putting in all that time, I wouldn't be able to laze around here in France like I'm mostly doing. I'm enjoying not having a schedule, for the most part, and working part-time at the most (except for times when I'm given a larger project). So I suppose that's the first item on my list of what I love: I love being able to be lazy. This is not, perhaps, a healthy thing to love.

I love cheese, or at least I used to. Not being able to eat it without serious digestive and lymphatic consequences has cooled that love, and so I am questioning what remains of my motivation to make cheese and cheesemaking a central part of my future. I do still love the process of making cheese, however, or at least I think I would still if I got back into it again. I love being part of a team in the manufacturing of something tangible and delicious. It's funny, but I don't at all like being part of a team when it comes to more intellectual/creative/logical endeavours, because many times I know the way things should be done! and when the other team members disagree, it's hard to maintain enthusiasm for the project. Even when I'm proved right in the end. And there have been times when I'm proved wrong, and I don't mind that - I welcome it, in fact, because that way I learn, and it also helps me remember to not be so arrogant the next time. Anyway, that's why I was/am attracted to this planned future of working with people at their dairies doing my set job, not having to worry about decisions, just pasteurizing the milk or molding the cheeses or whatever, but also spending time writing and being creative and focused and making decisions and being independent. Balancing the stability of being one wheel in the interlocking movement that ticks forward in circles, always doing the same thing, the comfort of routine, with the random butterfly flitting around that sips the sweetness from many sources and then moves on.

And that's another thing I love: moving on. Maybe it's because we moved so much when I was growing up; for a while it seemed very strange if we didn't pack everything into cardboard boxes after school ended each June. Or maybe it's just me, who has always enjoyed travel and exploration and seeing new things. I was watching a video last night that had several scenes in Rome and it occurred to me that Rome is not that far away, and so why not go and spend a week there? Well, as I told my brother the other day, money. I can live fairly cheaply here in Tours - my freelance income generally covers my room and board expenses - but once out where I have to pay anywhere from $25 to $125 per night for lodging, it adds up quickly. I spent a good amount of money going to Norway, and didn't even have lodging costs; my week in Scotland was very expensive. Even traveling to different areas in France is spendy, if you have to pay for a place to sleep. A handful of trips out of the country, or even back to Paris, and I'll quickly run out of funds. Again, that's why I lean towards moving around to work with people in exchange for room and board.

But I love my family, and miss them, and while I'm overseas and they're not, it's hard. I don't want to go back to the States, though I do miss Portland, too, sometimes. I probably would go back for visits if I had the money, but that's just not practical now. I'm glad Mom and John are coming to visit, and look forward to traveling in company. It would be nice to find someone to travel with on a regular basis - I'd be more up for exploration then, and depending on the nature of the relationship, lodging costs might be less ...

But I love being single. I don't have to fit my life into the contours of anyone else's right now. I haven't sent any messages to any of the people OKCupid has matched me with, or who have visited my profile; I haven't gotten any messages either, except for three that were obvious cut-and-paste spamming from people who were completely unsuitable and apparently hadn't read my profile. I don't know if I have the energy to start up the dating process, or even the desire. And unless there's someone out there who also has slightly-more-than-vague dreams of wandering around the world for a while, a relationship would just tie me down, I think.

Well, thanks for listening. It helps to talk this out, and even if I repeat myself that eventually leads to a clearer picture of what I want, and what I need, and what I need to do. What I need to do now is head to the market to get the supplies for tomorrow's cheese plate. I'm quite excited about this project - did I mention that I love cooking, and coming up with new recipes? - and have high hopes for my presentation. But I must go make sure that the cheese varieties I hope to use are available; if I can find them at his shop downtown, M. Le Meunier will probably have them in his aging rooms as well.

May we all get to do the things we love with the people we love. Happy Valentine's Day!

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