As I turn to the task of actually doing history, several mindsets are competing for my attention.
First, the history itself.
As I continue to compile my research and kitchen experiments into the matter for the 1718 Project, I am producing essays on the founding and settling of Louisiana to about 1730 or 1740; I am producing recipes based on the exclusive use of ingredients available in Louisiana during this times; and I am producing “food histories” to match and elucidate those recipes. My main task this week is to re-package these elements into forms that can either be sold or given away through my online operation. This is the guiding topic I have assigned myself for the week.
Next, the peculiar economic and social relationship I find myself in.
THE GUILT: You see I am married to a smart, beautiful, sexy woman and she cooks, too! Trouble is, due to America’s current bizarre economic condition, she is underemployed full time + at a stressful job. Meanwhile, I am a homemaker and a scholar unable to find ANY kind of employment (maybe this for another blog). Now, the odd thing is that this is not the first time in our marriage that we have so arranged our lives. Two other times, this has been our situation, BUT, those two times we arranged it on purpose. She was in the midst of a high-paying career, and I was the poor scholar/teacher/homemaker. This time, however, we have been forced into this situation. We literally live paycheck to paycheck, and if anything – cars, appliances, etc. – breaks, they have to stay broke. While I thoroughly enjoy what I do; research, write, blog, do the whole New Media/Social Network thing, cook, clean, etc., the guilt is overwhelming because I am doing something I want and enjoy, while she is literally killing herself at a “fill-in” job just to pay the rent and make the groceries. I welcome any sympathy and suggestions.
Next, my particular training and the intellectual backdrop to that training.
There can be no doubt that the work I am now doing is the child of my heritage, my education, and my now truncated career. I am a New Orleans native. My family has been in Louisiana since 1758. As I studied history in undergrad school, my cousins (of which there are a prodigious number) and I got interested in our genealogy. So, as I came of age in the late 60’s and the 70’s, my intellectual being was being formed by history, the humanities, and comparative religion while my leisure was spent doing much the same at the family level. My subsequent career as teacher and school techie provided us a second income to my wife’s high-powered executive career, and scholarship remained a passing, unfulfilled interest. As important as this life was to my mental make-up, the intellectual background to my education went far to form my mental architecture. I came to college seeking a career as a historian. Unbeknowst to everyone, in 1969, this career and others like it in the humanities and liberal arts was closing. My professors were all products of the 50’s and 60’s, the Golden Age of the GI Bill, when ANY college degree guaranteed you a career. My immediate predecessors, the seniors/grad students to my frosh year were the last in a long post-war tradition. Beyond this personal economic calamity – of which I was not yet aware – was the intellectual heritage of those soon-to-be and actual historians. They were the disciples of Barzun, of Toynbee, of Bertrand Russell, Trevor-Howard, Bloch, Dumas Malone, Boorstein, and many others of similar intellectual outlooks. It was in this tradition that I was educated as a scholar. The 70’s and then the tech upheavals of the 80’s and 90’s left my outlook in the dust. Perhaps, if I would have remained in that intellectual environment I would have grown accordingly. Family and career considerations forced me into somewhat of a stagnation of my weltanschaung, to which my new economic activities since 2005 have begun to drag me into the 21st century.
All three of these “shows” are running in my brain’s theatre concurrently as I write my history/lesson plan book, my historical cookbook, and this post. Items 2 and 3 form the frame to item 1. Well, now that all of this is “off my chest”. I can on with the task at hand. wish me luck !!!