You ought to spare the world your labor, it’s been 20 years and no one’s told the truth … Don’t wait” – Vampire Weekend, “Obvious Bicycle”
Yesterday was my first day of unemployment since leaving my job last Friday, which isn’t normally known to be a fun time in anyone’s life. Of course I did some job hunting, but I got bored quickly. So, I took a trip to Target, always a go-to for me when I can’t think of anything to do. When I left, started up the car, and pulled out of the parking lot, I had an inspiration. I decided that while I’m currently “sparing my face the razor and sparing the world my labor,” there’s no reason for me to spare myself my labor.“Goddammit, I’m not going to waste all this time off.” – me, yesterday
$30 later, I left Stop & Shop with a fresh arsenal consisting of 3 boxes of vanilla cake mix, four jars of frosting, a dozen eggs, and food coloring. I was going to make something awesome, just for myself, and for no real reason whatsoever. In fact, thinking about it, it was a pretty fucking pointless idea practically speaking. But I was tired of being timid and practical.
I woke up right at 9am, pulled out the KitchenAid, and went straight to work. It took me about two hours to bake three 10″x10″ cakes and concoct the right formula of food coloring to make red, blue, yellow, and flesh-colored frosting. The brown frosting took me zero minutes because, hey, chocolate happens to be brown. Who knew?
From there, I cut the cakes up into squares, or more appropriately pixels, then frosted them according to a Google image search result.
The last thing to do was assemble it all, and ta-da!
Sure, it took me a whole four hours and looks like an uneven mess, but hey, I’m not my girlfriend (a pretty awesome baker herself). But, I can’t tell you how big I smiled once I finished putting my Super Mario cake together. I smiled because, yes, I thought it looked pretty awesome. But really, I smiled more because I had finally created something exciting, inspiring, and most importantly, my own.
Starting three years ago, I went straight from undergrad to grad school to job hunting to the working world to (albeit partially paid) unemployment, where I am today. During this time, I never really took the time to foster any creative impulses I might’ve had, and especially not since I started my previous job in October 2012. No offense, but tasks like delicately crafting carefully-worded emails to overly sensitive state officials or writing an analysis of the recently-passed Connecticut state budget aren’t exactly my idea of producing anything inspiring, especially considering it was all for my organization and not for me (don’t get me wrong, I understand how jobs work, but it doesn’t make it any more fun). So while I was building up my resume, I didn’t feel like my spirit was growing much.
In the video games, Mario starts out small and weak, and doesn’t grow until he starts to try cracking open boxes one by one to see if they have a mushroom inside. Similarly for me, given the gift of seemingly endless time to do almost whatever I wanted, I decided to try to crack open the box that was firmly shut and locked away in my left brain. Sure enough, a creative mushroom popped right out. Was this the most creative thing anybody’s ever done? Not by any means.
But boy, did my left brain ever appreciate it.