I really love the work I do, but there are a few small drawbacks. Too much time alone means too many breaks spent googling phantom health symptoms. Working from home means lunch is often whatever’s in the fridge — ranging from the Russian roulette of last week’s Chinese take-out leftovers, to “just-one-more” scoop of cherry sorbet. The lack of a professional setting means I wear a variation of the same outfit every day: jeans, t-shirt, sweater, sneakers. Yes, I have the wardrobe of a college student.
Friends, today I’m delighted to tell you that I have finally attained my heart’s desire: my very own cubicle. New York City — home of the perfect bagel, the 24-hour deli, the they-deliver-everything, the world’s smallest apartments — is also the nexus of another phenomenon: the shared writer’s workspace. I’ve been lucky enough to find a spot downtown, a quiet office diffused with ample wifi and vibes of concentration, a place where I can read and do research, write, think, and google panda videos. (And maybe you’re thinking skeptically: “How much energy is she going to have with a newborn around?” But, guess what? Alongside the quiet, lamplit cubicles, there are spots dedicated to napping. Yes, this place is heaven.)
As the baby’s arrival approaches — and baby gear colonizes our apartment — it’s important to me to maintain some sense of my own identity, to keep a workplace of my own. Just knowing it exists makes me feel less anxious. I’m also happy to have a reason to travel outside my neighborhood, to feel more a part of New York City. My new office is just a few blocks from the Union Square Green Market, which means I now spend my breaks squeezing peaches and sniffing tomatoes (did you know a ripe tomato smells like fresh mint?).
Peaches and tomatoes. I love combining the two, which is an idea I got from this Mark Bittman column on 101 summer salads. There’s no recipe, really — just cube up equal amounts of peaches and tomatoes, add some slivers of raw red onion, a healthy handful of chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of red chili flakes. Dash everything with lemon juice and the best olive oil. The combination is astonishing.
Is it frivolous to combine lofty thoughts of writing with something so mundane as food? Virginia Woolf didn’t think so. As she wrote in A Room of One’s Own, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”