A few casual observances:
Since early July I’ve been in a state of what I call Not-Very-Employed; I’m not quite Unemployed and I don’t feel Fun-Employed, but I certainly don’t have a thing called a Job. There are a variety of reasons for this – namely a chance combination of pickiness, spotty intuition, and the Internet, which can either make or break aspiring “freelancers” – but anyway, not writing this for pity, just as a preface to explain why I have time for things like musings. Which leads me to:
Number One: Job-searching at Fair Grinds coffeehouse today. My Internet’s out again (thanks, Cox) so I spent a precious $3.00 on a cold brew with the intention of prowling Craigslist, WorkNOLA, Goodfoodjobs and other favorite sites. Lo and behold: Have any of you experienced the cacophony that is Fair Grinds on a Monday morning? It is disturbing. It’s as if the customers are still drunk and decided to bring their weekend debauchery to the coffeehouse and shout at one another over lattes and muffins. I tried blasting classical music – Gershwin to be precise – in my Sony headphones to drown out the rambunctious decibels with the sounds of PEACE, to ease my job application process – but no avail. It was a madhouse in there. Rather than taking on a sense of aggression or energy, my employment hunt began to fade and dissolve. In fact, I gave up. I read a couple good GQ and NY Times articles, watched a fantastic video my friend made about a cattle herders in Kenya, checked my horoscope acc. to Chani Nicholas. Which brings me to:
Number Two: Astrology. I am very curious – how many of my young educated science-minded friends out there are also captivated by astrology? Are you similarly embarrassed about it? The scientist in me is certain that the position of the planets has absolutely nothing to do with my career and personality – the men shouting at one another in a coffeehouse are much more influential there, not to mention my parents and hometown and, well, everything else – and yet in some bizarre backward part of my brain I attribute my Earth-loving pragmatic nature to the Taurean in me, and my secretive manic creative fireball to the rising Scorpion. This, for the record, is probably the most vulnerable confession I will make to the public. Please be kind. And fellow friends with an affinity for astrology, please feel free to come out of the closet.
Number Three: Speaking of astrology: Chani Nicholas informed me that around 11:00 this morning a lunar eclipse would be taking place and for us Taureans we would experience immense clarity around our career. This, now, was fantastic news. It was about 10:45 a.m. and my stint in Fair Grinds had been a failure career-wise. What I needed, clearly, was a revelatory strike from the stars. I packed up my bag and trotted down Esplanade Avenue, admiring the trees and houses and bikers and landscaped lawns, waiting for a sign. Nothing hit me but a slight breeze that rustled the leaves and the strong sun on my skin. I thought: This isn’t so bad. Despite the flooding on Saturday and the suffocating heat and imminent climate change, despite my lack of employment or “knowing what I’m doing with my life,” despite fucking Trump, there is true pleasantry – bordering on joy – to be found walking down a street like Esplanade on an August morning. In this simplicity I find tremendous comfort.
Number Four: Kitchen Witch Cookbook shop. Near the end of my pleasant jaunt I stopped in this little store for the first time ever, after having passed it perhaps a hundred times. I. Fell. In. Love. How had I never had the curiosity to wander in? What a retro, funky, foodie paradise. But as non-hip a foodie paradise as possible. There is literally nothing trendy about this place. There are probably 10,000 cookbooks in there and none of them have the vivid low-contrast sleek photography of our modern recipe age – you know what I’m talking about – no, they’re spiral-bound vintage-y books that are straight out of an old-school Southern grandmother’s kitchen. Kitchen Witch also boasts general interest books and an impressive CD and record collection. For example, a hardcover copy of Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace, which I bought for $10. And despite the high-volume nature of their store, the many things to look at, the Christmas lights and lamps and chairs, there is ample walking and browsing space; the layout doesn’t clutter the senses.
Philipe, one of the store owners, greeted me as I wandered in. I introduced myself and his eyes lit up. He let me browse for a few minutes before wandering over and starting conversation. “So do you go to Paris?”
I liked the way he asked me this. Do I go to Paris. As if I were the type of person who casually drops into cosmopolitan European cities. I explained that I hadn’t gone since I was young, with my parents, when I was a bit of a teenage brat and unable to appreciate its beauty, and since then despite adventuring for a bit in adulthood I’ve found myself more and more prone to staying put than anything. A tendency that I find both disconcerting and responsible.
He just smiled, a glint in his eye. “Well, it’s waiting for you.”
I left with my Wallace book and a brand-new copy of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. I don’t technically have the funds for this purchase but I do it anyway, because I like old Philipe and his shop, and besides I dream of someday a) writing like DFW and b) having a kitchen stocked with jars of sauerkraut. We all have to start somewhere, right?