Round Peg, Square Hole

October 18th, 2011 | Rachel

Square Cake?

It’s amazing what a difference following directions can make.  Having rated that last yellow cake recipe a lowly C-, I decided to give it one more try, this time using the instructed quantities of milk and eggs.

The result was a very tasty and moist cake, although it felt a little bit gritty.  I have a 5 lb bag of organic cake flour coming in the mail this week, and I am curious to taste and feel the difference.  FYI, if you find yourself in need of cake flour and only have all-purpose flour, cornstarch and a flour sifter on hand, I find the ratio of seven parts all-purpose flour to one part cornstarch sifted together at least once to be a perfectly decent substitute.

Speaking of flour sifters, does anyone know the proper way to wash them?  I’ve been rinsing mine, but I hate the little hardened pieces of flour that get trapped inside.

Steve and I have less than a week until our California trip, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I think I am still a little traumatized from my last job when it comes to planned vacations.  With that job, no matter how far ahead a trip was planned, there was always this lurking fear that something would come up and the trip would either have to be cancelled or I’d have to spend half the time typing away on my laptop.  That never happened to me, of course, but I heard stories.

I was recently reminded of a fateful weekend back in 2010 when I decided to take Steve on a last minute trip to Nova Scotia for the Fourth of July weekend.  The plane tickets were going to be $800 each, but I cashed in some frequent flyer miles and found us a beautiful lodge up in Cape Breton.

A couple of days before the trip, I got an email at work looking for a few extra people to work on a document review project.  I needed the extra hours, so I volunteered for the project and explained at the meeting that I was going to be out of town for the weekend but would work as much as I could before I left and after I got back.

Apparently, I was expected to either cancel my trip or spend all of my time in my hotel room reviewing documents because I got a scathing “I’m disappointed in you” email from the partner when the project was over and an even more scathing review at the end of the year — one that the practice group leader made sure I never forgot.  It didn’t matter that my other reviews and day-to-day feedback (on projects that were actually substantive) were overwhelmingly positive.

For a long time, I looked back at that experience with mixed emotions.  I felt I had made the right choice, but I knew within the context of being an associate at a large law firm it was the wrong choice.  When things started to unravel at the beginning of 2011, part of me wished I had played it safe so I would have gotten a big end-of-the-year bonus (the denial of which was attributed to that very same negative review) and job security.

Only recently did I realize that the decision to go on that trip isn’t quite the albatross that I’ve been making it out to be in my head.  As some of you know, I am an avid traveler (this year alone I’ve been to China, Tibet, Nepal, Taiwan, and France, in addition to California wine country with my mom and Yellowstone with my brother), and one of the ways that I have traveled so much is I have made it a top priority ever since I took a three-week trip to Australia and New Zealand when I was 18.  I still plan on living abroad one day.

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about working at a law firm, but being too afraid (and overworked) to make vacation plans — as most people seemed to be — isn’t the kind of life I want to live.  Life is too short for that :-)  So, as it turns out, making the decision to go to Nova Scotia with Steve wasn’t me sacrificing my cushy, New York law firm job.  It was me choosing to stay on my own path and not get trapped on someone else’s.

Now that I have been away from that job for six months, I am started to see a completely different future take shape ahead of me.  It might not be as lucrative, but it is going to be a whole lot more fulfilling.

Stay tuned.

Hiking in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia


A Moose!


Driving the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Sunset in Nova Scotia

12 Responses to “Round Peg, Square Hole”

  1. Darcy says:

    Holy shit, a moose.

    Rachel, I am really proud of you, and I think you’re going to have a really neat life. Yeah, I say neat. What. Anyway, maybe someday you’ll need someone with an MLIS to help catalog and archive all your recipes. Ahem.

  2. amaris says:

    Welcome to the other side, love. It’s not as easy financially, but when you’re sitting in a sub-par diner at 3 am munching on french toast and snorting (only quasi-decent) coffee out of your nose with some of the world’s most beautiful souls, you really don’t mind at all.
    Thanks for sharing. It’s lovely to read.

  3. Laura says:

    Good for you for realizing that. I’ve been in a job where the expectation (implicit and at times explicit) is that you sacrifice your outside-of-work life to the job and not doing so means your job performance is sub par. Only for a few people does job=whole life and I’m not sure I feel very good for them. Things have to happen to force positive change on us sometimes, especially when that change means losing some amount of comfort and stability. Our culture of monetary values makes us read those events as failings sometimes but, as long as the outcome means greater personal happiness and growth, we should embrace them!

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