Since going freelance in August, my kitchen has become my office and I’ve been in a constant process of figuring out how to be a functioning version of myself. I tried to join a coworking space but I never went. There’s a desk in my room but it’s usually covered with water glasses and receipts and it’s too close to my bed.
Our kitchen table has nice light. I work there, and sometimes I work at the stove, because it’s my job. Three years ago (or so?) I started the Not Sad Desk Lunch column, inspired by my now-friend Kira’s smart Tumblr Sad Desk Lunch, and now I’ve found myself in a new sort of predicament where I have all the freedom to make what I want but no desire to ever do dishes. It’s a total pleasure, yes, but there’s also a weird guilt in taking thirty minutes to prepare lunch while people are sending you emails. Sometimes I measure my days by the height of the pots and plates in my sink.
The thing about working alone and inside your house is that you become a little person inside the cosmos of your own brain and your thoughts are the only thing to surround or inform you, so you have to bring in external things, like media and ingredients, to remind yourself of an outside world. (Walks help, too.) Plus chopping is a busy thing to do with hands that don’t feel like typing.
Shop the Story
I have no semblance of a routine. People say routine is important for freelancers but I’m no good at it. At the outset of my life of freedom I went all in on lunch: I’d spend a bunch of time preparing it and convince myself that it had to be something enormous and special. I kept thinking of Phyllis’ citrus salad with goat cheese-stuffed dates: Imagine if you could live like this every day. It became… exhausting? You’re allowed to hate me now.
Since then, I’ve settled at some sort of middle ground. There are some things I’ve found, or some things I try to remember. Like: Don’t forget about salads, they are good, and one of the most satisfying lunches to eat at home because you can really go all-in on the dressing and herbs and bulky things like grains and a cooked egg, and also you feel good after you eat them. Isn’t it nice to eat a salad for lunch? Anything with eggs, really, because unless you’ve boiled them or sliced up a frittata, they aren’t easy to eat at work, so this feels special. Sometimes I’ll make soup, if I have some broth and greens and beans and maybe pasta, something Italian-y.* If there are leftovers to dress up, I’ll do that; we’re not so different, you and I.
But there are times when you’ve spent too much of your morning scrolling and clicking instead of writing and invoicing so you tell yourself you don’t have much time and these are the sorts of days when bread is good. Toasted and spread with whatever you can find, like peanut butter or ricotta. I don’t keep hummus around (why?), but that would be nice too. Yes, sure, avocado. Or I’ll fry a slice of bread and fry an egg and then just get back to what I was doing because all I used is one pan and let’s be honest, we don’t always clean out our cast irons. Whatever I do, I try to remember that it’s better than Tupperware and fluorescent light, even if here there’s linoleum and a stack of dishes and nobody to talk to but the internet.