Saturday, December 10, 2005

Free at last

I am done. Yesterday was my last day of work; my phone extension and email address have been forwarded to the new editor, and my desk has been cleaned out. I went into the office during the snowstorm yesterday to pick up my stuff and say goodbye; it took all of an hour. And though there was no lunch outing or other official recognition of my departure, the guys on my staff collaborated with the art department to surprise me with a mock front page full of funny headlines. This is a tradition among our staff -- it's done at many publications when someone leaves -- and I had no idea they were working on it. What's even better is that my former boss, who moved on to a fancy job in a big city, contributed several hysterical lines via email. So that took some of the sting out of leaving -- though, again, it was my friends (rather than my current boss, who is in denial about my departure) who took it upon themselves to put this together.

Anyway, I headed out into the storm, bought some cards and a book of crochet patterns -- I've got to finish mittens for my mom and make a hat for my dad in the next 10 days -- and then felt sort of at a loss. I didn't want to go home and wander around the empty house for the afternoon. So I called S -- who as it happened passed her nursing boards the day before! -- and we trudged through the snow to a celebratory lunch.

On the way home, I stopped at the grocery store -- whose door I have not darkened in weeks -- and bought supplies for a fantastic New York Times recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver for pappardelle with beef ragu. And I made the first meal -- other than scrambled eggs or oatmeal -- I have cooked in weeks. With this recipe, you sear the meat and then saute it with carrots, celery, onion, garlic, rosemary and sage, then throw in half a bottle of Chianti until it reduces halfway. Add a 28-oz. can of plum tomatoes (with the juices) and then stick it in the oven at 275 for three hours. So the house filled up with these savory smells as the snow fell outside. I did some research online for home office supplies, straightened the house and unpacked the Christmas decorations. A neighbor cleared our driveway with his snowblower just before Darren came home from a long day at work, and my sister and her husband came over for dinner. (At the end of the three hours, you throw away the rosemary and sage, and shred the meat and veggies with a fork. You also drain the pasta and toss it with an obscene amount of butter.) It ended up being a lovely day.

I'm trying not to make too much of how good I felt yesterday -- I did get sick first thing in the morning, but it didn't completely drag me down the way it has many days -- but I'm feeling cautiously optimistic today, too. I think at least part of my energy and ambition yesterday came from the adrenaline of leaving work, and my need for it to feel like a special day, rather than run of the mill. But if it also signifies a lessening of the morning sickness, so much the better.