So I’ve recovered from the employment shock a bit, and I think I’m going to be okay. I dove into job-hunt mode for a few days and have stashed a whole ton of irons into the fire, I have a bit of a game plan set into motion and I even have the promise of some temporary income streams coming in that will sustain me for at least the next two or three months. In fact, the prospect of the next two or three weeks potentially being “downtime” actually sounds…attractive, instead of being a cause for blind panic. I’m still going to be browsing job postings every day, but I’m also going to be going on long walks with my camera, checking out local museums with “free weekday” deals, and Marie Kondo-ing the hell out of a couple closets.
Best of all – since most of the challenges I set up for myself in the Year Of Challenges don’t involve any cash outlay, I can stick with it. Maybe temporarily tweak a couple of them and make up for it later.
In fact, let’s check in on how I did in January.
- Visit a New Neighborhood: ….Er, I haven’t just yet. I may save the “January” plan for the first week of February to distract myself from the first couple days of “oh crap I don’t have a job to go to today”.
- Eat lunch at a restaurant in my neighborhood: I think I can be excused this. I may also have to put this on hold for a couple months, and double up when I’m in funds again. But there’s a fish sandwich place that opened up on my actual block last week that I have my eye on as the first visit.
- Reading Challenge: now, this is interesting. I initially signed up and planned to do the Penguin Books UK Classic Reading Challenge, thinking that there was going to be a specified list of books they’d mapped out for the month. But when two weeks elapsed and I never saw any notice about that, I finally just scoured my own bookshelves and gathered a little stack of Things I’m Meaning To Read and dove into that instead. But then just when I was finishing the first book….I finally got an email from Penguin, with January’s title on their Classics challenge. And….so I read both. I think I may just keep going at that rate – one from my own stack, then one from Penguin. This first month, the first book was Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis – an unusual construction, sort of like a cross between Memento and Benjamin Button, but with Nazis. (I have made total hash of that description, but trust me, it’s applicable.) Penguin suggested Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! which was…alright, but a little too hand-over-heart embrace-the-salt-of-the-earth for my taste. But – that’s double the success rate on the reading challenge. Go me!
- Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturday: Yep, did that. Didn’t avail myself of any of the special events they have each time, but I rarely do anyway; I tend to prefer to visit some of my own favorite corners. Although I was drawn to a couple quirky things on display; there’s a retrospective of the museum’s feminist art collection there, and one of the pieces was a series by the artist Wendy Red Star, who found a series of five photos taken of Crow tribe chiefs in the 19th Century at a time when they were visiting Washington DC to negotiate land rights. Wendy Red Star’s work is a series of extensive notations on each photo, describing some of the symbolic elements of each chief’s attire and giving details about their lives.
- Chinese Cookbook: ….So, I’m cutting myself slack on this for this month. My grocery list for the next few weeks is going to have to be trimmed and simplified, so I don’t quite have the money to spend on some of the specialty ingredients I’d have to buy for this (a shame, as I had my eye on making wontons). However, there are some recipes that can be made using regular supermarket fare, and I just need to find those and then re-launch. However, I have another cooking challenge I’m going to add to make up for it:
- NEW Soup Cookbook Challenge. I also have another overlooked cookbook, this one concerning simple seasonal soups; it’s written by an actual monk, sharing recipes from his own kitchen at his actual monastery, so there’s also an intrinsic frugality there. I’ve used this one a little more – but there are still quite a few recipes I’ve never tried. So I’m also going to dive into that one over the course of the coming year. Brother Victoire-Antoine also helpfully organizes the book with a separate chapter for each month of the year, so I can keep track. (Coming up in February: mostly bean and vegetable soups, mostly French. I’m down.)
- Five Photos every weekend: Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. We’ve had a couple of BITTER cold weekends, but I’ve still stuck with at least picking up the camera and trying to find photo material indoors. Also, I’m not so hung up on the “five photos” part as I am on the “every weekend” part; one weekend I only took three photos, but at least I took photos. Last weekend I also signed up for a “photo walk” with a local photographer and birder; it was a friendly group of people who’d gone on walks with him before, and me, so the focus was mostly on people just diving in and taking pictures. Exactly what I needed. He led us on a ramble through some of the residential back corners of Coney Island, finishing with a stroll down the boardwalk back towards the subways. And I found a wealth of subjects…
- Hike: According to my Fitbit the walk around Coney Island Creek counts as a hike, so there.
- Craft Projects: I finished something!!! I have been working on a throw blanket for a couple years now; I’d had the yarn salvaged from a more complicated throw blanket kit I’d purchased some years ago, started, and decided I didn’t want to fiddle with it. But that left me with a couple oddball balls of yarn that wouldn’t really work in other things; it’s a weird sort of fuzzy yarn, really lightweight and fuzzy, so not suitable for a garment. But the quantity was just enough for a simpler lap blanket, which is finally done and gracing the living room.