My friend, Jennifer, came to visit us on Saint Patrick’s Day this past weekend. We hadn’t seen each other since 1993! That was many lifetimes ago when we were both graduate students of Linguistics at Stanford. We had a wonderful morning together catching up and reminiscing.
The year I met Jennifer, my second year of grad school, was the lowest point in my life. I realized I was on the wrong path.
The day I actually made the concrete decision to leave academia was when I was staying with Jennifer and her family in Los Angeles during an LSA (Linguistic Society of America) conference. Surrounded by brilliant scholars passionate about their work, I felt like an impostor and completely disconnected. During one of the conference days I cut out and met my dad and his wife for lunch. We had a long heart to heart talk. They were amazingly supportive and told me to “go for it” — to pursue my dream of illustrating and writing children’s books.
I also took it as a “sign” that Jennifer’s mom, Caroline Arnold, was (and still is!) an amazing award winning children’s book author and illustrator of over a hundred books.
I dropped out of my program at the end of that year (my department was nice enough to grant me an MA!) I went to art school in Pasadena and later came to NYC to pursue a career in children’s books.
Jennifer continued successfully at Stanford and eventually became a professor of Psycholinguistics at University of North Carolina. We had lost touch for many years, but reconnected recently on Facebook.
If you told me nineteen years ago during my “life crisis” that I would someday be having brunch with Jennifer in Brooklyn in 2012, happily married and having my dream career (even sharing a publisher with her mom!), it would seem TOO good to be true. It is also surprising and wonderful that we both have sons just months apart in age!
Her visit made me remember how blessed I am. In a visceral, tears-of-joy kind of way. I am SO lucky to have such supportive people in my life and to have had the opportunity to pursue my passion–no matter how crazy and out of reach it seemed at the time.
This Saint Patrick’s Day was more like a second Thanksgiving Day for me — as corny as that sounds!
Here is a belated green dish to commemorate Saint Patrick’s Day that I had made the day before. I used my whipped cottage cheese for extra nonfat protein, but you could substitute mayonnaise.
Green Egg and Avocado Salad
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3 tablespoons whipped cottage cheese (or mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon minced onion
kosher salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
1. Mix together and use as a dip, as a sandwich spread, or as part of an hors d’ Oeuvre.
kosher salt or other seasonings
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut pita in half, then fourths, then eighths. Split each triangle into one layer.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Spray with non-stick spray. Lay pita triangles in a single layer and spray again. Season with salt or other seasonings.
4. Bake, watching closely (thinner triangles brown faster) for about 6-9 minutes. Cool.