before the dawn

I’ve kept most of my life in Chicago documentation to the food blog recently. There hasn’t really been much to report, though I’ve noticed that my outlook hasn’t been so great in the past month or so.

The job search here in the city is proving difficult. There are literally thousands of people here either looking for a new job or any job, so the competition is stiff. Resumes have gone to several potential employers, and no response. It’s discouraging, especially since I’ve grown either more frustrated or more disappointed at work. And I’m the kind of person who takes work personally because while what I do may not require a college degree, I have a degree hanging on my wall and would rather do something related to that. Something that engages me on a deeper intellectual, and personal, level.

M has food allergies. No fish (shellfish is okay), and limited nuts, so one of my favorite things on earth, sushi, hasn’t been on our radar for a restaurant lately. It’s a lifelong dream of mine to sit down at a sushi bar, look at the man with the knife, and say, “Omakasse,” which translates to “Chef, I’m in your hands.” This tells the chef that the diner has full trust in the man’s tastes and ingredients, and will accept whatever the knife-wielding man creates, expense be damned. M will never do this.

Yesterday, while I was on lunch, I walked across the North Avenue Bridge to the Whole Foods Market store nearby. Inside the Lincoln Park store (which is the Midwest region’s flagship and largest store) is several restaurant-style prepared food kiosks, including an Asian booth, which makes fresh sushi daily. It had been a long day so far and needed some comfort food. I took a spicy tuna avocado roll and green tea out of the cold case, paid for my food, and sat at a table on the second floor.

I took a piece of the roll into my chopsticks and put it in my mouth, and everything–my frustrations, my disappointments, my aggravation–seemed to fall away. It wasn’t even good sushi–basic and decent at best. What was so liberating about it was that I had forced myself, for a few minutes, to shake off all my baggage so I could enjoy my lunch.

And it was M who encouraged me to have sushi, since I’d said several times since I moved in that I’d been wanting it. She’s been encouraging me more lately to indulge myself in some of the things I love that might kill her, as long as there won’t be immediate contact afterwards. I hate that we can’t enjoy this stuff together, but I’m glad she’d rather I not give up sushi.

But we aren’t talking about raw fish or peanut butter here, are we? We’re talking about that person who, somehow, reminds you of the things that make you happy and enable you to constantly enjoy your life, even if you hate your job (because that shitty job isn’t your identity, it’s a paycheck). They’re the person who, day in and day out, kicks you loose from your shell and reminds you of who you are. On a daily basis, Michonne Omo does that for me.


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