There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with. “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles. When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.” My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk. It’s not that we are unhappy people. We just like to air our grievances. But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do. In this 20-part series, I focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.
Reunited And It Feels So Good
My Facebook feed is full of #100happydays posts. Since appreciating one’s good fortune is apparently super trendy right now, I thought it was the right time to finish my 20 Days of Happiness series. I started celebrating the little things that make me happy back in October 2013, way before it was cool. I assume it’s only a matter of time before the Today show takes notice.
Since my last 20 Days of Happiness post, so much has changed. Although I’ve talked a little bit about those changes in previous posts, a little recap will make this post more coherent. A year ago, I was living in Los Angeles and working for one of the largest law firms in the country. As the firm continued to do worse and worse financially, it became less and less pleasant to work there. The more unhappy I was at work, the more difficult it became for me to justify living thousands of miles away from my family and close friends. Eventually, I realized that I had nothing to lose by quitting (except my salary, of course) and potentially lots to gain. I gave notice and we hastily packed up and moved across the country.
The original plan was to take some time off to travel and give thought to careers outside the law. That plan changed when I had the opportunity to interview for a clerkship (job assisting a federal judge). Although the judge ultimately hired someone else, she was incredibly encouraging and generously offered to help me look for other legal jobs. With the judge’s feedback and the encouragement of the many wonderful mentors I’ve had throughout my career, I decided to give the whole lawyer gig another shot. After a few weeks relaxation, I started looking for a legal job here in New York.
To save money during my job hunt, we are staying with my parents and most of our things are staying in a nearby storage unit. Last week, though, I had a bit of good luck. My husband decided he could not live any longer without our television and we made a visit to the storage unit to search for it. We did not find the TV, but we did find most of my missing cookbook collection. I now have all but about 20 books — and the 20 missing books are mostly vintage books that I don’t actually cook from. With so many of our things still packed away in boxes, it’s nice to be reunited with a little piece of home.
This week, I’ve been cooking up some of our favorite recipes, like last night’s dinner of Lentil Sunflower Pie from Vive Le Vegan, Maple Mustard Potatoes and Green Beans from Vegan with a Vengeance, cranberry sauce and cabbage. The Lentil Sunflower Pie is made from veggies, lentils, sunflower seeds and seasonings, but has an uncanny resemblance to meatloaf. (Last night, this was confirmed by my omni parents, who said it tasted “a lot” like meatloaf.) It’s actually my all-time favorite loaf recipe, beating out loafs made of “meatier” ingredients like seitan and tofu. This was a meal enjoyed by the entire family, including my son. To my surprise and delight, he ate his entire piece of loaf (which he called “burger”) and two servings of cranberry sauce. He also chewed on the potato and cabbage, but did not feel they warranted swallowing.