For years, I have whined about not having enough time. I whine largely to myself because most people don’t want to hear a one percenter whine. I whine because, I feel entitled to have more time.
At lunch last month, I was sitting with a one percent friend who created a career. I am in awe of one percenters who choose to work. With all the socializing and exercise we do, how do they find the time? Barbara Reich is a very successful organizer. She started organizing her own house and went from there. As she tells it “I put my OCD tendencies to good use.”
“How do you find the time to work?” I asked, sipping my dry cappuccino made with whole milk for richness and one sugar.
“You need to block out the white noise,” she answered while chewing on the amazing focaccia at Via Quadronno.
“It’s not just you. Everyone has a ton of interruptions. You must carve out the time and resist the urge to do something else during that time,” she added while sipping the excellent vegetable soup.
Our conversation took a different turn and we kissed goodbye and promised to see each other again soon, which we knew was going to be difficult since after all, who has the time?
A few weeks later, I was with my friend who owns EDIT. She is always busy. As a single mom and business owner, she manages to stay fully involved in her daughter’s life and her business. She gets it all done, but the stress takes its toll.
I was curious about a mutual acquaintance.
“How does Jack manage to get so much done?” I asked my friend. Jack, not his real name, is a very successful business man heading towards a political career.
“He blocks out a certain amount of time for every task. If he doesn’t complete the task within the allotted time, then he has to block out more time for the task at a later date,” she answered, sipping her green tea. Fashionistas don’t eat much and they are always sipping tea.
Last week, I met with my good friend, cum screen writer, cum social media guru. I asked his help to critique my writing and in the process, I found myself whining that I could not find enough time to do my writing.
“How does anyone find the time to work?” I asked Marty.
“They don’t,” he answered. “It is a YUUUGE problem in the working world among young people,” he added, mimicking Donald Trump unconsciously. “This generation spends so much time on social media that they can’t ever concentrate. It’s a national ADHD epidemic caused by social media. They have to check their pages every few minutes or they panic.” He said sipping his coffee as we sat at the new Swedish FIKA coffee chain that has cool food and great coffee.
I though back to life before social media. As a kid, I had little to do. I read books. I also learned to cook and bake. I studied recipes and practiced in the kitchen during the long afternoons and weekends when my parents ran errands and had dinner with friends. I day-dreamed about a time when I would have lots of exciting things to do. I was sure life was passing me by, but I became an amazing baker and I built a business selling candy to Eli Zabar and baked lemon breads, banana breads, and brownies to stores in Nantucket and New York.
I was married before social media. My husband and I would wake up on a weekend morning and read the paper edition of the New York Times cover to cover. We had nothing else to do. We spent the weekends eating one meal while planning our next, punctuated only by a run for me and a nap for him. We used telephones to actually speak to people.
Like everyone else, I read novels and newspapers and communicate with everyone I know with my I-Phone. I can jump from text to email to Facebook and back again without ever lifting my head. I can carry on multiple conversations at once and book appointments, all while shopping on Amazon for everything I need and want.
What I can’t do is write on my I-Phone. I write on my computer and when I write, I have to block out the white noise as Barbara called it. I have to turn back the clock to a quiet time so I can hear my own voice and not have it drowned out by the constant drone of community.
I love my I-Phone. My childhood loneliness is banished to a mere distant memory. With my I-Phone, I am never alone and never bored. But I can’t create a thing unless I follow the advice of everyone I respect and just force myself to make the time and put down my favorite white noise maker.
Aphorism – You can’t dance at every wedding – in other words it’s okay to miss things and it’s okay to be a little bored.
RECIPE – Aunt Adele’s Lemon Walnut Tea bread with Sugar glazed.
During College, I sold these little tea cakes to a store in Nantucket and I also sold slices at a concession during performances at the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
The best part is the sweet and sour, sugar and lemon glaze that soaks into the hot lemon loaf and permeates the lucky bites with heavenly moist sweetness.
1 cup white sugar
5 Tablespoons salted butter, softened
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup milk (whatever you have in the refrigerator is fine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped but not too small
Glaze – juice of one lemon (the same one now sitting naked after you grated the rind) and 1/2 cup sugar, mixed together
Spray Pam or oil or spread butter thoroughly inside a loaf pan, line with parchment or wax paper, then grease the paper.
Blend butter and sugar until creamy, beat in eggs until well combined. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together, I use wax paper to hold the dry ingredients, then add dry ingredients to the butter, alternating with the milk. This is the classic yellow cake approach. Add lemon rind and nuts. Bake 350 degrees for one hour, if using one large loaf pan, or shorter if using smaller pans. A knife stuck in the center should emerge clean, without batter stuck to it, but don’t dry it out by baking too long. Remove from oven and immediately spoon sugar and lemon juice glaze over the hot bread. Do it slowly, so the cake has a chance to absorb the glaze.
This recipe is adapted from a community cookbook published in the 1960s. It is the kind of treasured cookbook, now stained and ripped, that holds the community’s history, in it’s food and love of feeding people. It is also the kind of cookbook that has a recipe for cheese sticks relying on hot dog buns, butter, parmesan cheese and Lawry’s season salt.