Being There, Being Gone

I was recently reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and in it she quoted Hemingway.

“Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris as in Paris I coudl write about Michigan. I did not know it was too early for that because I did not know Paris well enough.”   — A Moveable Feast

I found this section on “Composting” and having to take in life’s experiences rather apropos this week. I found myself struggling to write about an experience at work, only a few hours after being in the experience and I just was dumping words on the paper. I couldn’t get my voice out. I couldn’t separate myself from the pure adrenaline rush I still had going on. They say there is afterglow after sex; well adrenaline rushes have the same afterglow. It’s rather heady but killer on writing about it.

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash That’s Exactly what our pizza oven looks like. This is the brand.

This last Friday night our regular man up front was down for the count, he’d called in sick, and Chef Coffeeman was only doing a half day and Lucifer was the only chef on the line. Mr. T and I were literally dumped right into being on the line out front. I’m not kidding. It was a “well, you wanted to learn. Here you go. Either sink or swim.” There was a bit of floundering at first. Making pizzas that do not fall apart, rip, and come out looking good, is harder than it sounds. I mean, I’ve worked with all of the ingredients before, and I’ve even worked with the dough, made it a bunch too. But it’s very different when you are right there on center stage and you have to make it. But make it we did. Mr. T and I swam. Maybe it was dogpaddling at first, but swam we did.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

We got into a rhythm and a fairly decent groove. It became our dance. We were left to our own devices at one point when Lucifer had to show us a bit better how to make things work, but then he was gone and we were on our own. And when he came back at one point and looked down at what I was pulling from a 700 degree wood oven and said “that’s perfect,” well if you think I didn’t get a glow, then you don’t know me.

Supposedly our pizzas were the prettiest things that guests had seen. The servers were ecstatic we were up there (me specifically because all the ladies have thought I should be up there) and the night went well. I was solo for about an hour and a half and it was so amazing.

But the next morning, I could not write about it. I tried my darnedest but it just was being forced out. I realized I was too close to the subject. I needed to give it some time. I got the bones out and closed the notebook with a slap and a chuckle from my writing group. Dona was able to hear the start of my voice at the last third of the poem, but it needed work.

I worked Saturday, a little more on the line and by Sunday, I could gel more into the poetry. But even so, I’m still too close to the subject. It’s going to take the week, or at least days to let it settle in my mind. I keep thinking that I have to get it out now! If I don’t I’ll forget it in a flash and I’ll never get what I want to say out. I panic a lot about losing the story. It’s that feeling of an idea in your head that you spend minutes repeating it, rushing around to find paper to only not have it come out right when you finally have found a piece of scratch paper, a receipt, and a pen that finally works. It’s never as good as that first thought. I always worry that I will lose it.

I hate that feeling. It’s a feeling like I’ve missed out. Gosh, right now I feel that panic as I type. It’s a frantic feeling that makes me super agitated. I haven’t figured out how to calm that Crazy. Lucifer was good at getting me to do that sometimes, but I don’t have the luxury of Lucifer. I need a crazy calmer. I’ve always had a feeling like I’m going to miss out.

But anyways, back to being there, not being there. I need to step away from the writing subject sometimes. I always think I need to be in the season to write about it. Granted, it’s easier to remember how to write about thunderstorms when they are happening. And winter snows, and such, but sometimes I don’t need to be there to find myself in my mind’s eye, traveling to a place and being there in my head. I can sit here right now and be driving up the highway at my grandparent’s cabin, and I probably feel it more than if I were there trying to take it all in. Getting distracted by everything else.

Photo by Jordan Steranka on Unsplash This is that afterglow feeling. Right here.

Right now I can feel the rush in my blood as I finished out the night swinging pizza and feeling like this super bad-ass chef. It’s as heady as  kiss on the neck. Which I know from experience. I can actually make the adrenaline rush come back. Whew! I think I should go write about it.

Do you find yourself needing to step away from a place, situation, season, to write about it?  Tell me about it. And also, who has read A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway?  What about Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg? Have you got a review of those books? I’d love to hear it.

Kate

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Ravenous, Feverish, Insomnia Passions

I sit here late at night… Actually it is just after 2 AM and I’ve been home for work for hours, but I’m still wired.  I came upon this amazing quote Dona posted from Ray Bradbury.

“You grow ravenous. You run fevers. You know exhilarations. You can’t sleep at night, because your beast-creature ideas want out and turn you in your bed. It is a grand way to live.” ~Ray Bradbury

That is how I feel sometimes. A lot of the times. Right now.  My mind is a whirlwind of a cyclone of a storm brewing of a magic bubbling up. I have ideas and thoughts and fevers rising.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

It’s not often I get off of work this exhilarated. This content. This happy. This just please stay like this. It’s not often I can say I have the most amazing team/crew/family of people I’m working with. Lucifer, Wildflower, Chef Coffeeman, the Twins (because despite them looking nothing alike, their names are used interchangeably) Mr. Dish, Astro D, and our new Mr. T, are my team. They are freaking amazing (Miss Holly is our morning lovely so she didn’t get the night experience). We are just a wow factor, to me at least.

And this doesn’t include the ladies that make up the front of our house and are spectacular in themselves. I’m just talking my crew. Tonight we were in rare form, being entirely inappropriate with our conversations. We are not afraid to make everything totally dirty and about sex and it’s all a suggestive nature, but entirely funny and personal and so us that pulls us closer together. I say this because the night before, while still being amazing had a drama filled scene. Lucifer dealt with the brunt of it and after he came back to clean he was like “oh damn guys, you did it all, I’m sorry I wasn’t here to clean.” I looked flat out at him and said “knock it off. We are your team. This is us. We will take care of you and cleaning. We can insult you to your face (which we do) but nobody outside of our team messes with you. ”

 

This is so true. I may come home and vent, but honestly for the most part, my team is my team. I don’t relay half of the things that go on to anyone because it is between us and besides, I really can’t explain how some suggestive totally inappropriate comment directed at me is said in entire jest and I love it.  I can’t explain these things to non kitchen people. I get now why there are memes for us.

 

Work creates insomnia. Work creates inspiration. Dreams and desires bubble up constantly and I just crave a little bit more each day. I want to be the effing best at my job. I want to grow, and become more. I want  to move up. Coffeeman seems to be adding more to my plate with this and that, and little things, but I want as much as he can toss at me. If he gives me a job, I want to do it to the best of my abilities… no better. I may make mistakes, like this last week where I burned something kind of expensive. But then like yesterday where I made luxurious chocolate mousse and lemon curd that had people’s eyes rolling back. Oh yes. Now that is sexy. That is so full on what I want. I want a plate to come back completely scraped off of its dessert design. I want a server telling me that a couple’s 4 week vacation’s best stop was our restaurant. Right on.

I write a lot about the kitchen. Do you see why? Do you see the passion I have. I’m passionate about a lot of things in life. Poetry for starters. Music next. But my kitchen is such a passion. I wish I didn’t get so tired that I could work more. I wish I could work a 40 hour work week and not be drained. But then I wouldn’t be a writer.

So, with everything in life, there is a bit of moderation. Work when I can, write when I can, and fill y life with passion.  I have new things brewing and cooking and desires and hopes and fun things happening.

This is this cheffing-writing-amazing life. And Mr. Bradbury, you said it best. I am ravenous and I have a fever.

Kate

And The Books Are Taking Over

via Pinterest

There they lie. On the sofa, next to the love seat; piled up, a stack by my chair at the kitchen table. On the stairs leading up, next to my bedside in three stacks, under a pillow, on the bathroom vanity.  Leading up to the point of Mr. B stating emphatically today, “You have books everywhere.”

Currently, I do. I literally have books on almost every surface of my house. I have found myself wandering around with books and setting them down, only to come back later and pick up where I left off. Most are poetry books. I ordered a slew of them (meaning 5, from Better World Books) last week, and I currently have several different books floating around at various stages of being read. Course, then I went to the library today and came home with three more. Not poetry this time, but nonetheless, there are books everywhere.

I have not had much time to read read, as in, delve into a novel or whole book. I have been able to focus on a poem here or a spat of poetry there, but actual focus for a book has been nil since I finished Bittersweet a month or two ago. I’m a little lost as to when. Pardon, I am rereading Sous Chef for the third time (this time I’m underlining crucial parts I feel I need to remember)

via Pinterest but links to etsy

But poetry, oh poetry is lovely in that you don’t have to finish it from start to end. Pick one book up, flip through, read a poem, and put it down. Bam! Done.  My writing has taken on new flavor lately, dabbling in slightly lighter prose and poetry. Heck, even prose poetry, or is it prosey?  Either way, I have had some better days.

There has been a few things I felt I should write about, but they hit me like a sucker punch, or that feeling when I was hit in the sternum by a hardball when my dad was teaching me to play catch and I lost my breath. But sometimes it’s just too hard to write about. You get hit so hard you are still kind of having an out of body experience a week later. (side note, my playing catch and throwing a ball days were bad. Seriously bad. My dad says I can’t hit the broad side of a barn and that I throw like a girl. It took a 9 year old boy two years ago saying “but you are a girl…” to really not care if I can throw right)

So, instead I’m reading poetry. And submitting. I sent off six poems today to a place that was having open submissions. And I’m working on a document to send off to the New Yorker. Whew! I feel very brave taking that step. I’ve been saying I’m going to do it for months, but then I just put it off. I felt this driving desire to submit in the last few days and so here I am. I think part of it comes off of a poem I wrote about the steam explosion that was in the Flatiron District a week and a half ago. Or a week ago.

There was something so fanciful about that, for some reason, that I had to write something about it. I may not know much about New York, but it was fun to play around with things after going above in a bird’s eye view of the district, then going down to street level and looking at the aftermath.

It has been fun to write about lighter things. Work and some of the dramas at work have been dragging me down a lot, even though I’m happier. Much happier. But for months I have written a lot about relationships and the dramas of life and it’s exhausting. I need happier things in life. Having a good boss has helped. A different work load and a new menu and excitement has helped. I may be tired, but it’s a good tired.

So, now that I’ve rambled on, here is a list of the new books on my ‘Reading’ shelf.

  • The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton
  • Lucifer at the Starlight by Kim Addonizio
  • The Apple Trees at Olema by Robert Hass
  • Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins (finally I own it!!!)
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • A New Geography of Poets compiled by Edward Field
  • On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
  • When We Were Young by A.A. Milne
  • Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne
  • 99 Poems: New & Selected by Dana Gioia
  • Poetry: The Golden Anniversary Issue edited by Henry Rago
  • Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora
  • New Poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. Erdrich
  • Sous Chef by Michael Gibney

And a slew of New Yorker magazines for the poetry aspects. I might be a little insane. I might be trying to overwhelm myself. All while adding in plenty of Poetry Off the Shelf podcasts and a new food/chef podcast called The Emulsion Podcast  by Justin Khanna.

Cooking, submitting, writing, staying super busy. I didn’t think my year was gonna be like this.

What are you all reading and into this summer?  I’d love to hear.

Kate

Midsummer Thunderstorms

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

Midsummer and the thunderstorms pile up….thick, beautiful whiteness, greyness, and stagnant air gets thick with moisture…. silence reigns as things too quiet to hear, suddenly are as loud as a cricket in your ear…. slips of blue blue blue fill up pockets of where the white and grey have spread just a little to reveal the serenity above the pounding drums and flashes of quicksilver violin spats…. swirling, whirling way up high, twisting around the needle branches of the pines, swallows spin and dance in the warm air, spinning up up up, to plummet down again….. and every hue of every summer flower is as vibrant as the paint in an artists paintbox, swirled out in extravagant splashes of orange, purple, red, pink, magenta, blue, yellow….. Greeness and yellowness, the grasses waving on the hills and meadows, the spires of seed heads bobbing in the waving winds that have been stirred up by the unsettled air, cut grasses, hay, laying in rows, billowing green rippling like the sea in shades of mint, olive, asparagus green, oh every shade known to man, rippling onward, stopping only by the stalwart blockades of the hills, filled with the resinous perfumes of pine, juniper, cedar, sweet maple of the sugarpines,….. the cicadas have stopped their humming and murmuring, now the raspy grasshoppers take the tune, and the buzz and hum, a perpetual hum of a white noise as bees move throughout collecting nectar….. only a splatter of rain may fall, the drops splatting in the dry dry dirt, kicking up little powderpuffs of dust then filling the air with wet dust dampness dirt….. before the asphalt gets its spicy sweet wet smell, and the grasses and hay are dampened… oh summer thunderstorms are the magic of the year….more magic than the first snowfall, this unstable sweltering explosion of fire and water and wind and earth… all the elements have come out to play……

Photo by John Westrock on Unsplash

So, I’m in bed, but I was out watching some of the thunderstorms pile up. Can you tell I love summer thunderstorms?  I’ve been writing about them in various stages for the past ten plus years. Always different, never capturing what I want to say. I love living where they happen. When I lived in Colorado, they happened almost every day, but they lacked the heat buildup that we get here in northern CA. They didn’t have the sweet hot smell of a burnt out summer and dried grasses.

Last year I had created a character a la B.H. Fairchild’s way of a heteronym, (see Wikipedia’s description) a Wilson Tennu, who comes to CA after a breakup of a love affair and experiences the summer thunderstorms as these giant wars between the gods of mythology. This Wilson guy ‘wrote’ some of my massive and narrative poems that went into the rejected manuscript, and he has become my inspiration for looking at things differently. I am also quite attached to his poetry. He’s rather remarkable in my opinion.

Anyways, viewing thunderstorms from someone that lives in New Orleans (which is where he lives, in an apartment above Bourbon Street) would be an interesting take on how they come about here in NorCal. They seem to just explode out of nowhere. Maybe all thunderstorms are the same way. I want to be on the prairie sometime and watch them form. Far enough away from a tornado, but still see them form. Let’s just say I respect and admire and adore summer thunderstorms.

So enjoy my little rambling description. If you live here, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, well I hope you can picture the magic.

Kate

Sick Days, Lost Voices

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It’s a very strange thing to go into work and have your boss say, “you lost your voice? What are you doing here? You are sick, go home.”   Probably because I’ve never been in this situation. Sure, I’ve been sick working before, but as a librarian, it’s not that big a deal.  In a kitchen….kind of. So there I was yesterday having Lucifer telling me to get the heck out of the kitchen.  I think he felt a little bad that I had to go, and I really didn’t want to have to go home, but thank god I did.  I actually love my job so much, I just don’t want to have to sit on the sidelines, even though I really want to sit on the sidelines. This virus I have is nasty. A cough, a lost voice, and just an all around “I feel like crap” feeling.  So sick I don’t want to write. Ironic as here I am writing.

This is more just letting the fingers vent a bit and moving. I actually finished a book last night.  I think I am up to three books this year I’ve read.  One that I own. I remember years ago I would read easily 20-30 books a year. My how those days have flown. I don’t have that much time for useless reading, so if I finish a book, it has to be one I really want to read or one that has caught my attention enough to keep it.

I fiddled around the other day and ended up ordering six books from Better World Books, all poetry but one which has to do with cooking. Yeah, like I need more poetry books on my shelf. But I liked what one poet said in an episode of Poetry Off the Shelf. She said that she keeps poetry books scattered on her table like magazines. You can pick one up and read just one thing. That’s what I like about poetry. It can be long. It can be short.  You can take it anywhere.

Right now I’m a little happy with my own poetry as I took three poems into work and posted them on our white boards. Two of them I referenced in the previous post, but one was a quick little ditty about the kitchen and fast movements and in a slant rhyme style. Fun and fluffy, but oh so true. I have had several people at work quite impressed with what I wrote. Juliet was like “wow, we are living this” to me yesterday.  Yes, girl, we are. We (coworkers) are so living this crazy cheffing life; the serving life. We serve. Think about that. We serve. We are placing food out for other people. If you look at it that way, it sounds menial, but it is so not. I have had several people so excited for me when they find out I am a prep chef. Especially when they find that out, and that I am not a waitress (server, as we call them).  They are ecstatic for me. I’m ecstatic for me.

Photo by Jordane Mathieu on Unsplash

There I was on Thursday night, working on a new chocolate frosting for our cakes, experimenting to some degree, but knowing what I wanted. I had the time and the luxury to play around with ingredients and get the input of several people about what we wanted the cakes to look like (now that the menu is about to change…) and it was this great collaborative movement. Having servers walk by and ogling your frosting; let’s just say it did not take any coaxing to get a single one to try it.  Everyone was super impressed. A hazelnut ganache frosting. Yeah, it was swoon worthy.  I want to be able to create more and have that look of hunger cross people’s faces. Like this ultimate desire.  Food is very magical and powerful that way.

I suppose I shouldn’t sound surprised by saying that. Everyone can name someone that moans when they taste something divine. I do it. I’ve done it. Much to Lucifer’s laughter since he does it on a regular basis. Note to readers, chefs do like food. Ha ha. Food is power. Something so primal and relatively simple is at the basis of our being. Eating. And taste, well, there is a reason it is one of the five senses.

So, reading, writing, experimenting with food, are definitely going on right now.  And giving myself a little rest from probably the last 8 months of crazy work. I think my body finally said, “honey, you need a break”. So break it is. Lots of lemon, honey and Alka Seltzer. Thank god for that.

Hope all you dearies are healthy and happy and enjoying the food blogging I seem to be perpetually posting.  I’ve been a little disinclined to submit anything to anywhere because I’m tired. Maybe as the weather cools off.

Happy writing.

Kate

Kitchen Affairs and Poetics

Photo by Luo ping on Unsplash

So sorry, dearies. My life has been a little chaotic, personally, professionally, and writing hasn’t been a top priority. Actually, that isn’t true, it’s been a desire, but the mood hasn’t been positive for writing. I was down in the depths of sadness and frustration with Lucifer recently, but life has changed a bit and my outlook is a lot better. Life is changing again as Lucifer is now no longer my head Chef. Now I have a new boss. A new man in my life. Lol. My new Chef starts today when I’m off work, so I won’t get to know the full extent of what it’s like to work with him until later this week. I met him last week and I already like what I see. I have to come up with a name for him… I’m leaning towards Shakespeare or William from Knights Tale.  I’m sure you can figure out from that what his name is.

But this post isn’t about that at all. That’s just a life update. Now onwards to what this post is about:  The poetry from the kitchen and the affairs of life that create the poetry that is my life. People forget that we are poetry in motion.

Everything in life is an inspiration to me and for my writing. It’s the littlest of things, or sometimes, very large things. It’s the every day, it’s the extraordinary. Needless to say, the Kitchen brings a whole new life to my writing. From love affairs that have not panned out, to friendship, to cooking, heartache, depression, frustration, magic, excitement, creation. Heat, fire, flames, cold, water, air, food…. it all comes together creating this dance of a life that I seriously could not see myself without these days. I can’t imagine not working in this kind of life.   (okay, a little part of me really could, but that’s only if I am married and don’t have to work and can be just a writer. Luxury thinking there)

I read off my ‘kitchen poetry’ to my writing group and it has become a thing where Mels and Dona have both said I need to work on this aspect and focus on it, or at least see it as a chapbook of poetry and such. The work flavors my writing so much these days. I even have a title for my work if it ever goes anywhere. “Field Notes on Kitchen Affairs”  though I think “Field Guide to Kitchen Affairs” works as well.

Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash

I write about ‘the dance’ and the life and things that have come together to create this camaraderie of things with people I would have never spent time with had I not been working with them. I love that I am both morning crew and night crew, or night shift as I think of it. I work mornings once a week and the rest of the week I am a closer, being one of the last lines of defense against the scourge that is a dirty kitchen. There is magic in the morning in the silence before the mad dash of the day starts, there is this subtle simplicity of scrubbing down stainless steel at night and knowing you are leaving it as spotless as possible for the morning crew.

Working hand in hand with people you have been with since day one, where one moment you can hate that person, the next you are arm in arm standing firm against the tide of tickets that have just printed up minutes from end of service.  This fight against your own ego and doubt, the fight against the doubt and egos of others. Moving up through the ranks, learning, cramming ideas and techniques into your head, a neverending supply of knowledge. I joked with Lucifer the other day that I have had three different chefs tell me how to make pasta. His reply? “Well, now you know three ways to make pasta!”  Smartypants.  But it’s true.

Here is some of the poetry or more, lines of poetry that have come from work. I won’t share entire poems as I plan to see about publishing but enjoy nonetheless

An Alliance of Gazelles

A flower girl, a pure one, almost,
brazenly attacking and metal clanking,
we are the black white yin yang of the feminine mystique,
she is no demon,
I am no angel,
I am her, she is me,
we are and have become
a whirling dervish,
flesh against flesh we exist in this spatial moment,
an alliance,
this torrid rip of polyvinyl, a film covering over smells and service,
stacking, towering heights,
steel wool buffs out the filth,
the grime sliding down to coat a slick surface of desperate moments,

 In the Evening Quieting of a Kitchen

With the fans off, with just a gentle hum
stainless counters and sinks gleam in their
scuffed patina from scoured scratches of steel wool
red tiles are mopped and grease free
gentle whirs of compressors from refrigeration units
empty stations, empty Chef’s table but for
a single note scribbled on ticket paper
long and lean, blue tape holding it down.
The long, never-ending list of prep on the whiteboard
is cleared off, black half smudges gone,
and new type is written up for the
new day’s prep when morning crew comes in.
Order lists filling up columns, humor jotted down
on the small squared off ‘kitchen blog’ corner,
the night shift in all their exhausted glory
leaving twisted and strange jokes.
Dishes stacked just so in warmers and on shelves,
cambros lined up neatly; nine, six, third, half,
and full hotels are back to rights.

Kitchen Choreography
Not with a fizzle, but with a bang,
the issues are decided here,
silent nuanced double meanings,
the start of every work day where
a Wednesday feels like a Monday.

A pristine kitchen waits to be cluttered,
surfaces waiting to be filled as we
shift around each other, pieces readjusting,
watch-like mechanical movements, tick-tocking.
Time rushing by us. Pans shift, doors open.
The whir of mixing, snap, snap, snapping—
a knife in an onion, hitting a board.
Steel hitting wood, slicing soft flesh.

Fans deafen; defeat normal tones, a shouting match,
a fight ensues to be heard over the gentle roar.
Ovens are blazing, pilot light’s blue flames.
Electrical currents of live wire flow out from
the shifting of bodies, a warning of human placement,
hands sliding across backs,
a warning, a guard, reevaluating each other’s dance space

You can see that there are definitely things that are so kitchen related. I guess being a writer and a prep chef, you get to see both aspects of the world. The writing world and the cooking world.  It has been so inspirational.  I keep writing more and more about it in different aspects. I have one poem about how a knife isn’t just a knife. There is a whole story there. Personal aspects of people. You love and hate your coworkers. One minute you want to kiss someone then next, stab them, smack them, yell an insult. We insult each other all the time. It is what makes us one of the most dysfunctional families around. I may eviscerate a coworker, but I also stand by them.

Anyways, there are my last three weeks. Heartache, working, exhaustion, food, poetry, fire….. Hmm, a sorceress at work here…

Kate

The Wisdom of Your Elders

This last week was challenging. I felt like someone was trying to push me to the breaking point and well, literally break me. Physically, mentally……. personally. Games played, moves made. Life is a chess match. If you don’t think it is, then you’re not doing it right. Because let me tell you, everyone is playing games. Even I play games, though less than others.

A knife isn’t necessarily just a knife. There is a lot more behind that, but I won’t go into it right now.

The breaking point didn’t happen because I didn’t break. I was pissed beyond belief. I was so so angry. So angry that I didn’t even talk to my family for a good 12 hours because I knew once I started talking, like an explosion, I wouldn’t stop. I didn’t want to put that on them. So I went to bed, slept for six hours and went to my writing group.

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

My writing group is mostly women that I would classify as extended moms to me. All older, except two, all wise. All with a collective mind that I don’t think they even talk about but wow are things synced up with them. With me.

I was given the most amazing advice, opinions, and thoughts from those lovely ladies. Their initial advice led me to write some poetry where I allowed myself to be angry. And they even mentioned that I had let the anger out in the poetry and it was so much better to do that then to express my anger through other means. I am kind of a pushover, cream-puff, watering-pot of a person, so I always find it funny to think of expressing my anger in a physical way. Which was what they meant.

The poem was titled “Hurricanes Are Named After Women For A Reason”. Isn’t that great?  Basically, it was about being pushed and me pushing back in my way.  Age does have a way of allowing for knowledge.  Which was where I was going with my title. God, sometimes my blonde, distracted moments really get to me. (I’m more blonde now after an afternoon of lightening)

This card comes from Wisdom of the Crone, a deck of 54 wisdom cards. Click on the highlighted title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where I started going was how my parents have always told me that your elders are usually smarter. Not always. Age does not always mean knowledge, but seriously, when you have a group of ‘crones’, (that is not a dig, my ladies excel in crone knowledge) and your parents saying the exact same thing about dealing, anger, being pushed, games played, certain people and their personalities, and just kind of all-around advice, it’s so so comforting. I went home after my writing group and my family listened to me vent, then gave me advice. A lot of advice. So much advice that one might think it was overload. At times it has been, but this time, I sat there kind of stupefied that I was hearing exactly what I had heard an hour prior. The collective knowledge of your elders.

I love the Farmer’s car insurance commercial line, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two….” which I’ve used in life recently when people doubt my existence. But it also applies to one’s elders. My family and friends are my elders and they definitely know a thing or two. And after the collective wisdom of them all, I was able to get through the rest of my day perfectly fine. I was even able to mad dash run into work for a few hours when I was needed. I wasn’t supposed to be working, but one line I was able to use, which is really quite true, was “This is my restaurant too.” Meaning, this isn’t a favor to you, but to my restaurant that currently means the world to me. My loyalties run so deep. I can’t even explain it. But I was in such an excellent mood that my time was a fast-paced dream.

I think the only other one thing out of all of this comes from the fact that I am terrible about responding to people in person. Which was the crux of some of my anger. It takes me until I get home and hours later to have the perfect come back. The line that comes to mind comes from You’ve Got Mail.

What happens to me when I’m provoked is that I get tongue-tied and my mind goes blank. Then I spend all night tossing and turning trying to figure out what I should have said. What should I have said, for example, to a bottom dweller who recently belittled my existence? – Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail

That is me. And that was where all of this stemmed from. Wanting to say something. Needing to say something to a ‘bottom dweller’ who should have known better. But, well again, cream puff.

In conclusion, as I have rambled on. Listen to your elders. Listen to the crones. Listen to the wisdom of years. It really really knows what its talking about. They know what they are talking about. Experience is the best learning tool of life. My experience in life these past 7 months is unexplainable, and I will be able to carry it onwards through life. I value it much more than I ever would.

And I value my elders. Thank you. Moms, ladies, family, thank you.

Kate

Work, Writing, It’s All The Same. It Merges

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Every time I get home from work I have some new thing to write about or think about. The drama alone in the kitchen lends itself to a perpetual existence of creativity. Maybe it’s because I like writing, or maybe my life really has become interesting, but I want to write about everything. I have taken to having a ‘work’ journal, a notebook specific to just work related things. Yes, things there might end up in my regular journal, so long as they become personal related, but for the most part, it’s my way to document random things I feel I should write down. There are a couple months where I wasn’t writing but once here or there and I missed out on a lot of memories I could have had down. I’m more inclined to keep it up these days. It’s also where I can vent about work. And no, I do not ever let this book out of sight because oh man, I suppose it could get me into trouble if work people ever read it. It can be unflattering at times.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Along with the actual non-fiction of life, I have been mentally working on a book of sorts for the kitchen. Be it fiction/romance, which is my plan, or maybe it becomes my memoir at one point or another, but I have started to write down little vignettes of sorts or just things that have happened. I have ideas of them being chapter starters. Written in 2nd person, I think I have been inspired by the book Sous Chef, written in the same style.

Here are some I just wrote down today.

Exhaustion. It hits and there is nothing you can do about it but paste on a smile when everyone is looking then drop it when eyes are no longer on you. You get off of work tears forming in your eyes as the adrenaline fades away. Too tired to eat. Nearly too tired to sleep. Each movement becomes forced. You are ready to snap. Crackle. Pop; and explode at the first insult tossed your way. You grip your knife in a death grip, ready to stab anyone that even thinks about crossing you. Then the chef tells you that you need to stay for overtime. . .

The bruises show up in random spots. A wrist, a bicep, the hipbone. Was it from something you ran into? Or did you lift something too heavy in your arms and the weight left a mark? But out of nowhere a purple hickey forms and you look like you’ve been in a fight. You actually have. Been in a fight, that is. A fight with pans and food, forcing it to be what you need it to be. Very few items are coaxed into becoming an edible masterpiece.

Envy. It forms when someone gets preferential treatment. Maybe a new knife, or a jacket, or even a word of compliment. Somewhere, someone received what you wanted. And you find yourself trying to find ways to collect something, some form of pleasure that comes from all the pain studded days. The wounds inflicted, by yourself(knife cuts, bruises), by others(insults, offhanded remarks). The envy that forms when something, or someone, you wanted doesn’t come to you and goes to someone else. Suddenly you find yourself averting your gaze at the mere mention of something. You can take the pain. But you need a reward afterward.

I suppose these are autobiographical, to an extent. I did find 10 bruises the other day after work. They were all over my body. I’m still trying to figure out the one on each arm and one on a wrist. The envy is there. Mostly with someone. But I can’t go there.  I do, but I shouldn’t. It hurts. A lot. Yeah, I avert my gaze a lot these days.

The exhaustion was at the beginning. Are there good days? Of course. But there are a lot of mediocre days as well. The work lends itself to writing though. I like to think that if I ever publish a poem or something, in my bio it will say, She spends her days as a chef (or something along those lines) but moonlights as a poet, crafting food like she crafts her words….. Oooh, I really like that, not to toot my own horn, but that’s kind of catchy.

Needless to say, my journal has been filled with a lot lately. Dreams have been crazy. Work, again, changed. But as tired and frustrated I am, I’m good. Ish. Are we ever good when tired? I’m never on tip top game.

I do have to extend a note of gratitude to my lovely writing ladies and hopefully occasional newest member Crystal (again, names have all been altered to protect the innocent) for giving me some very valuable support this last Saturday when I was at my wits end about personal aspects of the kitchen. A semi-broken heart, fortunately averted before I delved in too deep with someone, and just perpetual work drama lent itself to a teary moment which came from some absolutely beautiful and spot on poetry. Darlings, you are all rocks to me. I needed your support more than you will ever know. I forget to tell you all personally, but you are all wonderful ladies.

This week is a little less drama filled. A shorter week, and a hope that I can advance my career more next week. Things are a’changing. Ideas are floating around.

Hey, all you lovely readers, do you find your work enters into aspects of your writing? Do you find your writings as a way to vent about work? How does writing help you through your day to day life?

Kate

Moving Through This Rhythmic Groove

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We’ve lost our rhythm.

The kitchen is currently going through a staffing and schedule change and the rhythm is all out of sync. We run into each other, we shout out commands that go unanswered, new staff ignores the more experienced ones…. the groove that once was, while chaotic at best, is now so out of whack, Chef Wildflower and I were groaning today about it.

Lucifer and I have lost our rhythm that used to make sense. Part of it is personal, but most of it is that I have not worked with him under the conditions I am now. I don’t know how he moves and needless to say, I have flubbed up more than once in the past week. I’ve run into him behind twice, while he is on the line (at the stove) cooking for a ticket. That has not gone well. That becomes a moment where I get yelled at and I turn red. It’s mostly my fault. I totally get that and I will take the blame. But it’s hard when the movement is off.

The kitchen has lost it’s dance moves.

                                                                                               Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash                                                                                        I feel this is how Wildflower and I would look if we wanted to create a ‘mood’ picture.

 

Wildflower and I have a system that is unbeatable. If there is one thing that hasn’t changed, it is the two of us and how  we read each other. How we work together.  We have been together from the very beginning. Maybe because we were both the younger ladies of the group, maybe because we were shoved together from the get-go, maybe because we were just meant to, but we connected and we have something no one else has in the kitchen. The two of us can close down the restaurant like no one else.  Just the other night, I’m not sure who said it, but they said that the two of us are kind of amazing.  That no one can break down quite like the two of us.

Now that is rhythm.

It’s too bad that only the two of us have it right now. I would like to have some semblance of ‘the dance’ back in the kitchen. I’m too scared to be myself because for 6 months I was in this perpetual state of fear for any decision made might result in me being yelled at. The previous Chef was, well, scary. So now I second guess everything I do. I second guess myself and want exact directions from Lucifer. It hasn’t gone so well. He trusts me more than I trust myself. At least he has faith.

Back at the end of April I was struggling with relationship issues with someone and we kept banging heads. Dona was sweet enough to give this bit of advice. “Relationships are a dance. Two steps forward, two back, etc. Finding love’s rhythm takes time.”  Granted, that was about love and such, but it applies to working with people. Over time you do find a rhythm when you work in such close quarters.

Michael Gibney, author of Sous Chef, basically said the same thing about the kitchen being a dance. And now the choreography is off. At least we’ve all realized that it isn’t quite on par and that the metranome needs to get back into the right beat. The tick-tocking movements need to be realigned. I’m hopeful. It’s been rather frustrating to feel off kilter and like at any moment you are going to run into someone and end up burned, cut, bruised….. God, the looks Lucifer gives me when I move the wrong way. Murder is almost too nice of a word to describe the ‘evil eye’ I get when I finally move out of the way.  The thing is, previous Chef basically wanted me out out of the way. So that’s what I still do. Instead of sucking it in and just leaning out of the way, I do this whole body movement that ends up making me even more in the way. It is frustrating.

                                                                                         Photo by Michael Henry on Unsplash                                                                                      This is how we should be in the kitchen. A team. Let’s hope we get there soon.

Life’s grooves sometimes just get bypassed and trying to step back into the dance takes time. It is like jumping rope and you are waiting just the right time to jump back into the loop and not get tangled up in the whole darn thing. Spin your partner round and round… Recognizing the issues makes it so you can fix the problems. Talking it over with Lucifer last night when I was so tired helped. I can’t help but feel like having a meltdown. Did I cry? Of course I did. But as much as Lucifer and I can be at odds, he’s sweet enough to let me have a minor cry (all while telling me to calm down) and resettle myself.

It also helped today to sit with Wildflower and say “we had a rhythm before”, to which she replied “there is no rhythm now.” See, she noticed it as well and it was stressing her out. Maybe this next week will be better.

On the plus side, I now know how to make the risotto rice for the restaurant! (this might sound minor, but it’s exciting for me because Lucifer specifically said no one can make it right, and I did….)  I can julliene the scallions just how Lucifer likes. I finished my entire prep list last night, with extra, and had the kitchen cleaned with my crew by 10:30 last night. I get to work with Micha (St. Michael) I have great things and prompts to use for writing. I finished Sous Chef and now have to read it again because it was so good. And currently I have my knives home with me. Oh, I never mentioned that I have my own very pricy chef’s knives. Two of them. And an order for three new chef’s jackets…. I splurged. I can’t wait for them to show up. I needed to order them months ago.

Life’s dance continues to move on. Writing abounds. Kitchen life has filled me up with even more thoughts and days of extra work. Forever writing, forever thinking of food and a world I never thought I would be in. At least, while last week I was about ready to say ‘I quit, I can’t do this anymore,’ this week I feel a lot more inclined to be ready for the week. Okay, I’m not ready for the week; your Sunday is my Friday. I’m just settling in to my weekend. I want to enjoy the next two days off. But I am looking forward to getting back to work and rewriting the symphony.

Yeah, music, dance, rhythm; it’s all there.

Pardon my constant kitchen talk. It has become my life.

Kate

Entering Into the Work

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Life has been incredibly hard these past two weeks. Hard and sad. So sad that at times I wonder what the heck I’m even doing and I don’t even know what to do. Losing my dog has been one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to not have him around and to want desperately to be holding my puppy. I miss him so much that it really is an ache that hits out of nowhere.

I’ve also lost the camaraderie of someone I would have classified as a close friend. That person is still a part of my life, but I don’t trust the person, per se. I struggle what to tell this person and how to act around them. It’s all gotten very challenging. It’s led to lots of crying and lots of moments where I am really not sure what the heck I’m doing. I can honestly say I don’t know what to do. I really am at a loss.

I stress about work and succeeding, and today was one of my first days back after a tiring schedule last week. This week is bound to be tiring as well, but at least I have a general schedule. Today, for the most part, I killed it. At least I believe I did. Sure, I had a few scattered moments, and times when I thought I wouldn’t make it through the day, but I did.

Mels asked me what I was going to do to deal with the anger I have inside. Because it’s there. A lot of anger, deep anger. Sad anger. My reply was, “write. And cook. Do the best to my ability to make it happen.”  Cooking has kind of flowed into my blood. Duh,  of course, it has.  I wake up thinking about baking and improving recipes, I finish out the day looking at cookbooks, watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, and just today my new book to read is Sous Chef by Michael Gibney. Lucifer has it in his car and told me he would loan me his copy… I didn’t want to wait, so Better World Books delivered.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life, other than being a poet and published writer, but this cooking thing gives me a bit of passion that is so hard to explain, but I like it. I read this Sous Chef and I drool about the luxury of a well-organized kitchen. I think in kitchen terms: deli containers, 9-pans, cambros, half sheets, whole sheet pans, mis en place, roux, the line…..   I want to yell ‘behind’ at home. I slide my hand along the backs of people to let them know I’m there.

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Today there was this flow that was actually the best I’ve seen in a while. To the point where I was doing things, my head down, but I could duck out of the way as things went past my head to land in the garbage. As pans were passed off and handed off, pots caught as they dropped, things shifted back into place with a well-aimed hip, pilots lit, ovens restarted, butter melted, luxurious sugar-free lemon mousse that went out to a diabetic guest. (I did not make said mousse, Lucifer did, but I did zest the lemons) I like being able to get whatever it is someone asks me to get. To be able to put out a lunch dish that is not my responsibility, and know that it went out looking the way it was supposed to. I’m rather proud of that. Not sure Lucifer actually noticed, even those D-man told him I sent out an awesome burger. (Okay, so it’s not super fancy, our lunch menu, but a burger at our place is an art. I felt pretty proud of myself)

My pies have finally leveled out to looking gorgeous and elegant enough for my tastes. I like that I can make pretty food. I’d like to do more in that department. I want to work with Lucifer in updating and revising our desserts menu. I am classified as the pastry chef. I want pastry to look damn good. I want it to be something you come in and drool over. I may not want to nibble on many sweets these days, myself, but I want you, the guest to fall in love with it and when you see me on the street, think back to that luscious dessert you had.

I may not have any classical training, I may not have a culinary degree behind my name, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be the best at what I can do… all while being a runner, and a closer and a prep chef. I have too many hats right now. I like closing, and I can do that well, but whew, it can be exhausting.  I’m getting off topic.

I hope to god I am important in my hierarchy within the kitchen. I’d like to be invaluable, though not so invaluable that if I need time off they panic without me… Okay, well if they panic without the chef, why not the pastry chef? I’m being silly, but still, I want to be valuable in my job. I like my job. Despite all the stress, all the inconsistencies, all the crazy, all the moods, the romantic interests, the betrayals, the turn downs, the frustrations; despite all of that, I like my job. So I am trying to deal with life by ‘entering into the work.”

All of this came out of reading Sous Chef today and this lovely prompt above from Dona. I want to think the best ideas are going to come out of the work, the process and work itself. So. Okay then, now that I’ve rambled on long enough, I’m off to read more of Sous Chef, and I think I need to pick some rhubarb for work. If there is one thing I have found, you can get the sexiest moan out of Lucifer when food is involved.

Kate