Beyond the Swinging Doors – 31 Days of My Life in a Professional Kitchen

Behind those two doors my world resides. Oh, and right to the left, where pizza is.

My life as a prep/pastry/pizza chef has been a whirlwind of less than a year. Considerably apropos to spend 31 days writing about it, posting about it, pictures about it, since this is the last year of 31 Days in October. Honestly, I can’t believe that this little blogging thing, which isn’t so little, is coming to a close. But as one chapter of life closes, another opens.  I can honestly say that all my hours spent cooking and baking are taking over my life to the point where I can only blog here and there.

The life has lead to some amazing opportunities, not just within the kitchen, but in my writing life as well. Opening doors to new subjects. New loves. New hates. New, new, new. It’s all new. Exhausting. Amazing.

I write this at nearly two thirty in the morning after not getting off of work till midnight, body exhausted and sore, mind fuzzy and wiped. But it’s all good. In a strange way, it’s good to feel this tired. I wish sometimes that I had more time to devote to writing and being at home, but at the same time, I love my job.

You know how people have to keep saying over and over how much they love something because they really don’t? Yeah, well that’s not the case with me. I say it over and over because it’s true. Even the most frustrating moments, like tonight running out of things the morning prep guy should have stocked for me, screwing up a few pizzas,  not having such and such done, and just not being able to close down till late, I still have the good things overshadow the bad. Like having a guy slip a tip over the window to me because he so enjoyed his dinner.  Having another guy say my pizzas were incredible. And another one saying he loved the mussels (which I did not do, Chef did) but he planned to come back soon because he heard how good my pizzas were. Yeah, those are good moments. It’s a good moment when your coworkers ask you to make them a pizza and they love it. I love my job.

So, I shall attempt for the next 31 Days of October to write and post about my life behind those two black swinging doors. The dance. The magic, the whirling motion of life. The food. I have my camera/cellphone at the ready. I already have several mental posts lined up.  Get ready, dearies and my darlings.

Kate

  1. Stainless Silence

I Have Loved You Like A Fool

I sit there apologizing to my writing group, the critic inside of me trying to shush what I’ve just read. “I’m sorry, I was really nasty with that,” I say, the ladies all staring at me as I have just eviscerated a newly broken relationship and the person in it. Burnt up in gasoline and flames, the car with the new her in the passenger seat going off in the sunset, him driving with flames chasing after him.

As a writer, the best way to deal with emotions, anger, a relationship that didn’t work, is to curse and write heated things that will tear up or destroy the feelings. For me, I broke the relationship, took a step back, said wait. I thought the two of us would dance around each other at work, and maybe step into something that was good because I still adored the guy. Then he had to go and mess it all up with spending a weekend with another gal I know, one week after I stepped back and we were still flirting like mad. One Week.

Needless to say, I was angry. So, so angry. Sure, I stepped back, but wow. Hurt doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt, partly because I’m looking at the idiot going, you want her? Really? (I have actually had a couple other people go, oh god, when I tell them who he’s with)

I just watched Begin Again, a marvelous film with Kiera Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine, and in it you have two song writers, one becoming famous (Levine), the other (Knightley) puttering around with it and in love with the famous one.  So you have a broken relationship and anger and such and girl songwriter writes this utterly cutting song to guy idiot. It is such an amazing part of the film, partly because it hit me this week as I was dealing with the issues above. And I realized that one of the ways writers deal is to cut down the person we are angry with in our work.

“I have loved you like a fool” is an amazing line. Needless to say, I have some very nice poems that my ladies have sat back going, “It oozes anger. We can just hear your anger.” They also told me to stop apologizing for being a bit nasty. To hogtie and gag the critic in my head.

Granted, writer’s liberties and all, I can exaggerate more than I actually feel. I sometimes want what I write to be more dramatic than it probably is. Am I wounded by the idiot? Nope. In fact, I’m doing really good as I have progressed in my work with him being gone from my life and work.  I have had a chance to find myself a bit more. I’ve even found myself more inspired with cooking and life. It has been really amazing. Everyone has told me I can do so much better and I deserve so much better, so that has been crucial. Especially with two amazing people at work, and two really important ladies in the writing group. These people are my close confidants.

‘If a writer loves you, you can never die.’ These words are classic to the memes world for writers. Seriously, you won’t die if a writer loves you because they will have you at some point in all of their work, or you will inspire them, or something. But…. if you anger a writer, well, darling, prepare to die. Or be killed off in some gruesome manner. Or tortured.

Coffeeman has this thing he does at work where he slams his fist into a wall or a counter. There is always some force in it, not enough to leave a mark, but you can see he’s irritated. I always picture a knife in the fist when he does it, partly because that’s how I feel about a lot of things. I do this motion with my hand, sometimes with a pocket knife in it, and out to the right and side, I stab air. It is this motion of stabbing, or would like to stab that is the feeling. No, I don’t want to murder anyone, but… as Robert Bly says

Our veins are open to shadow,
and our fingertips Porous to murder….   Robert Bly

Because I work with knives, it’s so much easier to write about it and use the motion when I’m frustrated.

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Now there is a flipside to this whole story. The first part is me getting my digs in. But downside to a writer dating a writer… the other writer has the same opportunity to put in his own digs. One week after idiot guy spends weekend with another, he comes to my writing group as he has been doing for a couple weeks to write. He’s a poet as well. Yeah, that was a hard because one, I was too close to the subject, too angry and couldn’t read out what I had written, angry as it was, and  he wrote something that pierced me. It was a dig of his own.

So rule of thumb, which I’ve had is, don’t date a writer. Two, if you are with a writer, prepare for you being written about, at some point. Good or bad.

I’m still angry, writing about lack of constancy and holes being dug with words, creating nasty hurts. Dua Lipa’s IDGAF song is marvelous right now to how I feel. Along with the song above from Begin Again. I highly recommend the film if you can handle the language. It is incredible, and ends marvelously. And the music is great.

But as the song goes… “I have loved you like a fool….”

 

Kate

It’s Not So Simple – Let’s Get Personal

Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash

People seem to think they understand my health and what is going on, probably because I don’t talk about it much in the scope of my life. I try not to let it bog me down and I don’t like people to have to worry (though secretly it is rather nice when they notice and actually help me out).  But because I act all toughy tough and try to be a strong woman (which I am clearly not) I can’t seem to make some people understand that it isn’t just so simple as they make it sound.

I have reactive hypoglycemia.  Which means not only does my blood sugar go down, but when I eat, be it protein, carbs, or fat, my body shoots out insulin and I can be up at a normal sugar range, but then just dive rapidly back down to low are dangerous territory.  In fact, more often than not, I eat and my sugar will dive right again after I have eaten. So I have to constantly monitor my diet and pay attention and drink plenty of water and not to overdue anything, or get in stressful situations which have a tendency to make my sugar wonky. (a very scientific term there.)

Working in a kitchen is in fact, probably the worst place for me to keep a handle on my sugar. Ironic, isn’t it? I have access to food all the time, but I don’t have the time to always eat. And when I do, I never know what my sugar is going to do. And people think, ok, her sugar dropped, just go eat something. Haha. What they don’t realize is that once my sugar has dropped there is this cycle of things that happen.  First off, my sugar drops and I won’t even feel it or know about it till it’s too late. By too late, I mean, when I feel it going down, it’s way too late. Like down in the mid 60s- upper 70s. Most doctors would say no big deal, but that’s because the stupid guidelines have changed. My doctor is fortunately old school.  I get fuzzy, my mind blanks out, I get shaky, my vision blurs, I might have tunnel vision, my hearing goes, MY MIND BLANKS!  I should stress that last part again. My mind blanks. There is no rational thought.  So people tell me, “oh communicate that you need a break.” I. CAN’T. I can’t communicate anything because I really don’t have the ability to voice it. I will go onto autopilot and continue the tasks I’m doing and try to get some quick sugar in me.  Oh, all while trying desperately not to cry and not to snap at someone. Because it really makes me cry like a watering pot.

Ask Lucifer, Wildflower, Miss Holly.  They’ve all seen me do it. I have cried more times at work than I care to admit. Currently my sugars are all wonky. Stress and lack of sleep and not eating right at work have messed me up. And it’s not super simple to just get it back up to snuff. And Tomcat, it is not something where I can just say “Oh I need a break”.  By the time I realize it has happened, it’s too late.  And I try to eat when I’m not hungry, but working in a restaurant, it’s not that simple to just eat because you smell food all day long and just don’t really want whatever it is that there is to eat. It’s a catch 22 situation.

Then throw in menopause.  Oh that’s a real trip because out of nowhere literally my mind can blank because of what’s going on. Not to mention the emotional roller coaster of hormone fluctuation going on. (Don’t even get me started on the emotional roller coaster of not being able to have kids. I still have not dealt with that one yet. There is so much to that one that I just haven’t dealt. Even now it makes me weepy for no apparent reason) Not to mention I’m still a fully functioning 28 day female… So the PMS/Menopause thing gets wonky as well.

Throw in a blood disorder that makes me have to stay anemic. Hemochromatosis, or Celtic Curse, or the Rusting Disease.  Basically my body takes iron and stores it. Not in my blood, but in my organs. Hence my blood sugars going wonky (pancreas) or the menopause, or oh, the thyroid that’s low.  I have to donate blood to keep the iron stores down, but to keep them down, I have to stay semi anemic. Out of breath. Tired.

Photo by Heather Schwartz on Unsplash

Basically, I shouldn’t work. Coffeeman, this is not saying I am going to cut back on work. I love, LOVE, LOVE my job, so don’t you dare. I’m just explaining.

Add in another genetic disorder that makes it so I don’t absorb B12 vitamins or Folate properly, and an adrenal issue…. the inability to heal well (bruises, cuts, scrapes, burns take forever to heal)  Okay, so yes, it is so simple to just take a break and ask for a few minutes to collect myself at work.

Not gonna happen so simply. In fact, I bet it doesn’t even cross my mind because like I said, my mind blanks.

Life is screwy. I’m tired because of most of this. It makes me exhausted, so does stress. So do ridiculous relationships that make me want to cry. Which stresses me out and blank, there goes rational thought.

I’m blonde, I’m a writer, I’m a female. I have a lot of things working against me. I’m not cavalier about anything. You think I might just be willy nilly making decisions, but I stress about decisions and hurting people all the time. It’s not so simple.

So, now that I’ve vented about personal matters, I hope it helps anyone else going through crazy health. And I hope, dear reader/coworker, you can understand that you can’t just expect it to be so simple.

Kate

Lack of Tact makes me Bite Back

Photo by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash Stupid uphill climb…

Just as I think I’ve made progress in one area of my life, something else seems to derail everything and I feel like I’ve slid back down the ever upward climbing slope. Sisyphus and his boulder. This was a very stress induced week; pardon, the last two to three weeks have been stress induced weeks, where I feel exhausted beyond belief and unable to make any rational decisions. In fact, I’ve made several rash decisions that have made the stress even higher. Mr. T (renaming  Tomcat for personal reasons) and I went through a whirlwind of a thing that created family problems and drama that made me take a step back from it all and reevaluate some decisions and life choices.

It’s never easy to have to deny what you want for the better good. I really, really hate doing that. Mrs. B said that you can’t always do what you want, but what is right. I really hate that sometimes as well, because she’s right. What I want isn’t always what’s good for me. I want to stay up late. But I should go to bed. I want to drink numerous cups of coffee, but I need to drink water. I want to date so and so. But who do I want to end up with in life.

Tomcat and I are in this weird work/coworker relationship that was closer than that. Lucifer and I had the same issue. Don’t date coworkers. It will screw you up. It’s all too personal. And now we are clashing with each other. I don’t think it helps that Tomcat and Lucifer are friends. I think they feed off of each other too much. And currently, after a run-in with Lucifer, I have my feisty nature exposed. I’m tired of being pushed. I’m tired of people telling me I’m lacking passion, that I don’t know anything, that I’m too distracted, that they can whip me into shape. It’s not that I even disagree with all of that, but I’m just tired of the arrogant boys, boys 10-15 years younger than me, thinking they are God’s gift to the human race and they can teach me a thing or two. Honey, just because I have some naivete and haven’t been out in the world sleeping around, doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. Push me so far and I might just snap and then like hurricanes wreaking havoc, you won’t like the end result. You will get burned, stabbed, eviscerated, yes, Mels, I know if someone was ever murdered with a knife, I’m the first suspect…..

Tomcat and I clash when he tries to boss me around, this boy, and I say it with complete and total snark and sarcasm and stabby looks in my eyes, thinking he’s my boss. He’s not. Lacking tact, trying to act like he’s the new sous chef (Lucifer is no longer with us) and just being an all around a**hole at times, I could easily slap him so hard. Last night was one of those nights where I wasn’t going to be pushed. He’s been doing it for the past month since he joined and I had it. I outright defied him and ignored his bossy tone. So he went and got Coffeeman. Fine, I don’t care if Chef has to come in and deal with it. I’m tired of being pushed around by people who think they know everything. This goes back to even a few of my even younger coworkers who are half my age. Children. They are children. I may not have kids of my own, but whatever happened to respect your elders and superiors?  It’s like it just doesn’t exist.

Lucifer was 10 years younger than me and my boss. I get that he got to boss me around, but still, it can really irk when ‘children’ are bossing you around. Because they have no tact. Tact, Tomcat. You have no tact. No diplomatic skills. Brag about you being a person with manners and all, but seriously with me,  you have zip. And you are getting even less. You want to see me bite back, well, honey, there is how I will start fighting. Even if it isn’t for a good, valid reason, I will bite back if you are rude.

Clearly the drama and issues are not out of the water. Clearly I haven’t simmered down. It probably doesn’t help that Tomcat and I had a private message late last night and it still irked me. I still feel he thinks he’s in charge of me in the kitchen. I could use Coffeeman’s advice. I just hate to bother him now that he’s having to take on more with Lucifer gone. I’d really like to be his girl Friday, but I’m so tired right now, I feel I can’t take on any more than he’s already put on me. Not that I’m complaining, I’m looking forward to it. A lone kitchen and baking and experimenting. Now that’s kind of fun. I hope.

Pardon my vent. I had plan to talk about making and baking and experimenting but the issues of the kitchen have clearly frustrated me more than enough.

Bare with me. I might be able to tone down a little today. I had some good advice from various things and people in life and now it’s just applying them.

Kate