Making Mayonnaise

Last night, I had a dream that two of my close friends in DC picked me up in a car that I did not recognize. We were going on a road trip.

Like most dreams, the scenery is familiar to me when I’m in the dream, but when I flashback after I’ve awoken, every road and every mountain is unrecognizable.

Thinking it was a simple road trip, in the dream, I realized that my friends were driving me to Philadelphia. In the dream, I recognized the city (reality: I’ve never been there, nor do I actually know what it looks like). They revealed to me that I was kidnapped because I had a job interview for an Art Director job at Runners’ World.

The great thing about this whole dream is that if this had ever happened in real life, I wouldn’t think twice. It’s not beyond the love or insanity, and the excitement and happiness I felt in the dream was pretty close to how excited and happy I’d feel if that same scenario had happened in real life.

I’ve been at my job for almost five months, now. And I’ve loved almost every moment of it. It’s weird (and unmistakably wonderful) to finally be in a good place. And I don’t only mean the workplace. But then again, my work is my life, and my life is my work.

After failing at turning down freelance clients, I’ve been on social lockdown for the better part of a month. Some projects are great; others are nightmares. Such is what happens when you take your passion and turn it into your source of income.

But when the nightmares are gone, and my projects are awesome, it’s beyond worth it. And every other option, if there were one, would feel contrived.

I lived in Tanzania for a summer when I was nineteen. There were so many things I’d change about myself back then, in the same I’m sure many of us would thoroughly enjoy turning back the clock and smacking our former selves with a brick of humility and then wipe off the resulting selfishness from the floor. And then torching the selfish sponge.

But I guess everyone was young and stupid at some point.

One of the things I look back on and appreciate the most was the simplicity with which we lived our lives. We ate, slept, drank and sang together in a beautiful house, just a five minute walk from the Indian Ocean, and about five feet from the gate to our house was a little vegetable stand. On warm days, a couple of the volunteers and I would make tomato sandwiches with fresh tomatoes, mayonaise, salt, and pepper. When we had electricity, we would “toast” the bread between the plates of a waffle iron. Almost seven years later, I find myself making the exact same sandwiches — comfort food, for the former international development worker.

I’ve always wanted to go back. To visit the friends I made who stayed there, to meet their husbands and wives, and their kids. To actually learn how to make chapatis, and to buy a lifetime supply of Chai Bora. To wake up to a glass of freshly squeezed passionfruit juice every morning.

I’ve also been getting a lot of mail from MICA, the school I almost started a graduate program at this summer. I even found myself browsing their MFA curriculum. And before I knew it, I was emailing my contacts there.

A few weeks ago, after a high school musical production and a late night dinner, I received two fortune cookies. The first’s fortune was forgettable. The second, however, read “Be assertive when decisive action is needed.” I stuffed them into a jacket pocket for safe keeping — it had been years since I actually kept a cookie’s fortune.

Yesterday, while waiting for the metro, I reached into my pocket and remembered the fortunes. Except the only one I had found in that pocket was the one I had forgotten about. Somewhat somber because I realized that I lost the good one, I crumpled the lesser fortune into the smallest morsel of paper I could. But I did not forget the fortune that I loved. Because you know what? It applies to everyone, and as of late, I’ve been alright. But sometimes, we need a little reminder.


1 egg yolk
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 cup olive oil


In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolk salt, mustard, and sugar. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl, and then vigorously whisk half into the yolk mixture. With one hand, whisk briskly, while slowly adding the oil a few drops at a time with the other hand. The liquid will thicken and lighten a bit (it’s emulsifying!). Once it starts thickening, you can slow down the whisking, and add the oil in slightly faster.

Once most of the oil is added, pour in the rest of the lemon juice mixture.

Continue whisking until all ingredients incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week.