The Panic Manifesto

Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naïveté, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do. – Steve Martin

At the very beginning of the year, I wrote myself a letter of sorts. I called it “The Panic Manifesto”. Something to review at a later date and reflect on, to laugh at myself about (I’m awfully good at self-deprecation). I knew 2015 would be a year of change for me, much as 2014 had; but with a different twist. I knew that my work life would be rough, and I hoped the outcome to be pleasant (I still do, of course). Here we are, almost six months in to it, and I’m still hopeful.

So as I had predicted, I got laid off from my day job back in February. This is my third – and final time, I hope – of getting laid off from Big IT Corporate America. I’ve also told myself that come hell or high water I will make a go of my culinary career.  For too long I’ve had the day job to fall back on to pay my bills, but for too long I’ve loathed the day jobs. Yes, I can project manage anything, but no, I no longer want to project manage anything to do with technology or computers or babysitting a bunch of whiny engineers. I want to play with food full time.

I also felt that the side job would come to an end. And it did indeed come to an eye-opening and (at the time) sad and angry end – in fact, the repercussions still haven’t ended; I’m not currently at liberty to speak about it, but I will one day.  Let’s just say that when a lot of people warned me about a certain somebody and at the time I thought, “She’ll never do that to me!”; let’s just say that she did do it to me. And frankly I was tired of being emotionally manipulated by a no-talent hack whose only redeeming quality is the ability to believe her own lies. You have no idea how terrifically pleased I am that our working relationship and friendship is finally over with.

Fortunately, I landed a part-time dealio teaching people how to cook (ironically, it’s with a large Corporate America-type firm).  Typical to Corporate America, I had several nerve-wracking interviews plus an audition. I like the job though, I really, really like it. I get to play with food, and talk about food, and share personal stories, and people lap it up. Last night I taught a group of women how to make risotto, making them take turns stirring, stirring, stirring; making them understand that it’s not exactly difficult, that it is indeed time consuming but worth it. And in the end seeing the looks on their faces when they tasted said risotto and realized, “I made that and it’s really fucking good”. It is so rewarding.  I would love to do it full time but, as with any food job, the pay sucks and it’s only part time. 

Going into this whole Reinventing Myself phase, I knew I’d take a massive pay cut – Big IT Corporate America may take its toll on the mind, but at least they pay decently.  So I’m still looking for more work to fill in the massive amount of free time I have, most of it spent at the gym or networking, lurking on people’s LinkedIn profiles, and stalking them at conferences (as one does).

 Re-reading my Panic Manifesto, something I wrote still rings true today..  

"I don’t even want to be the best at something – that’ s kind of lofty, and naïve, no? But I do want to be my personal best at something. The more I learn about cooking, the more I realize how much there is to learn. It’s frightening and yet, it’s thrilling.
 I’m simultaneously terrified and thrilled. I’m scared. I’m eager. And I want it now."

And I really do. 


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