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

Advertisements

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

Photo by Alexandru STAVRICĂ on Unsplash

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

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

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

Change And Heartbreak And The sweetBitter

People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen at all… has happened. My store is closing this week. I own a store, did I ever tell you that? It’s a lovely store, and in a week it will be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap. Soon, it’ll just be a memory. In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it’s a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that’s the sort of thing I’m always saying. But the truth is… I’m heartbroken. I feel as if a part of me has died, and my mother has died all over again, and no one can ever make it right. ~Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail

Miss Holly and I were talking about change this last Wednesday. By the quote above, can you tell I hate change?  So does Miss Holly. (psst, I knew I was going to need to showcase you in a post, even if it’s not a huge thing) Today was a lot of change. She doesn’t like change. I don’t like change. We talk about how it’s good for us. We still don’t like change.

Change isn’t always bad. Today wasn’t a bad change. But change scares me. I like status quo, unless I’m the one making the change. I’ll make changes all the time, that’s fun. But I don’t like outside powers changing things. I’m rarely ready. Today I wasn’t ready. I knew a change might come, but I just wasn’t ready.

I can honestly say working in a professional kitchen has dropped a boatload of change on my life. Every single time I work, something has changed. Even down to the order of spices. It annoys the heck out of me. I have complained in the past, meaning probably last week, to Lucifer, my sous chef, that I hate change. He always laughs and says it will always change in the kitchen.  “One day!” I always declare. “I want one day where nothing changes.” I actually got that last week. I had one subliminal day. One perfect day where I had a marvelously perfect change free day.

One day.

My sous chef is now my Chef. I have to start capitalizing that. Which is hard because think of my current Chef as the Chef, not Lucifer. Sure, I’ve viewed him as my boss, but he really is the boss now. This is good. This is Sweetbitter. Probably a mixture of both. An even mix. I’m happy. I’m sad…. No, I’m wrong, I think I’m a tad more bitter. Keep reading.

I finally get to work with one person that I have been dying to work with. Not that we don’t work together all the time, but well, he’s in charge now. I’m looking forward to that. But now that he’s my boss, I can’t have him as an on the side friend. “No fraternization with anyone non manager.” is the general rule of thumb. I am no where near manager position. This is the bitter. Very bitter in my opinion. How do you give up a confidant in life? Bitter doesn’t even begin to touch the iceberg here.

Change is hard.

Rugburn, taking a selfie…. Okay, I held up the camera, but it looks like he is.

Last night I lost the love of my life. My baby, my puppy, my Rugburn, my guy for the last 15 years said goodbye last night. You always know your dog isn’t going to last forever, but you always think you have a little more time. You don’t. If someone ever tells you that there will be time, they are wrong. There is never enough time. Not with people. Not with dogs. Never take life for granted.

I fell asleep next to his body last night, curved just right, his front ‘bear paws’ so soft, smelling and feeling just like my puppy, and I woke up this morning thinking just a few more minutes with this. A few more…. A few more never fixes it because he’s not coming back.  At some point I realized that I was prolonging the hurt. Maybe. Because holding his body one more minute doesn’t make him come back. I want to go out and scoop him right up and say “hey, it will be alright.” But he’s not the one that’s in pain. Finally his pain is gone and he’s not suffering anymore. I’m the one that wants someone to say to me”hey, it will be alright.’  I want a hug that won’t stop. I want someone to not let go and suck all the hurt out. t’s kind of hard to feel that things will be alright when so much change happens. The hard kind of change.

Rugburn and I when he was only about 3

I hope anyone else going through change and doesn’t like it, understands that I can completely empathize with you. It hurts sometimes. It’s hard, a lot of the times. And it’s not something we like. I hate when people tell me that change is a part of life.  Which is why I always think about what Meg Ryan said above.  “People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen at all… has happened.”

Kate

You Have Permission To Not Write

Sometimes the words just don’t come. Sometimes they are there, but locked up tight and you just can’t get them out. And being a writer, well I’m going to tell you, you will feel guilty that you are not writing. I’ve felt it. Other writers have felt it.

Currently, I have a writing colleague who is feeling it. She told me the other day that she just hasn’t written. She can’t push it out and she just stares at the notebook, unopened. Hopefully that’s what she said. I thought it was. She was feeling guilty that she has so much to say, but just can’t get it out.

Well, I’m here to tell you, you have my permission to not write. You do not have to feel guilty one bit that you are not writing, because even as you don’t put words to paper, words are still forming in your head.  You still write without writing, by every single experience you have.  Ever little twist and turn of your day to day life is a constant moment for you to ‘write’. You write when you walk out the door and see something interesting. It may not be much, but the weather could spur on some thought. For me, it was hearing the words Orpheus and Eurydice and the letters they sent back and forth via Hermes. It’s from a series of sonnets by Rainier Maria Rilke.

Sometimes my writing well feels dried up. Like I just cannot get another thing out. I feel washed up. A hack…. Oh we writers are so dramatic sometimes. We go three days without writing and the world has ended. Lord, if I only could feel that way about laundry, or dishes.  More often than not, the days I’m dried up come after I’ve pushed myself to the limits and pounded out a 97 line, 16 stanza poem….. that was today. I know tomorrow I won’t be able to write. I’ll be too exhausted. But come two days from now, I’ll be wandering around with my journal or notebook feeling guilty that I haven’t penned anything profound.  Because I was just hacking it the other day. I mean, 97 lines for a poem is no small feat. But I will have forgotten it in lieu of my lack of more.

We writers are a greedy lot.  It’s never enough. We could write till we are blue in the face, our fingers falling off and it still would never be enough. You would think that my two to three poems a week would suffice my desires. But oh no, I feel it’s never enough.

So writer, dear, who vented to me. Don’t worry about it.  In fact, take a break. Drink some tea and watch the spring birds and flowers. Enjoy the sunshine and spring that we are having. The words will come. Probably at the most inopportune moment, such as when you are in the shower or washing dishes…. In fact, I highly recommend doing something where your hands are wet or dirty. Because then, trust me, the words will come, because it is at that moment you won’t be able to grasp a pen, the words do fly.

Kate

The Sweet and the Bitter

Some days are good days, others bad. The sweet and the bitter. Pardon me for stealing that phrase, I literally picked up Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler today and started reading it a few minutes ago. I’m already hooked.

Today was a sweetbitter day. (I think I want to use that phrase now) For me it was a pretty sweet day, with a taste of the bitter; for others, it was definitely bitter. I’m not sure it even had a sweet moment.  Life in a restaurant is far from dull, always leaves an interesting taste in my mouth, and a sense of wonder that I am working in a professional kitchen.

But today had an example of how marvelous our staff is, especially working with them. Thankfully music is almost always on while we are cooking. Today, D-man had a great Pandora channel on, I think it was the U2 one, and Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ came on. I happen to love the song (though I prefer Anna Kendrick’s version from Pitch Perfect best….) and Lucifer was talking with Richard, our new line chef, though we’ve worked with him since the beginning in different capacities.  Richard either couldn’t hear the song or didn’t know what it was.

Lucifer: It’s from the Breakfast Club.

Me: I love the song, but I’ve never liked the Breakfast Club.

Lucifer: (a phrase that is not polite and I won’t repeat)  I bet you were a 16 Candles girl.

I guess my face must have registered an ‘oh crap moment’ because Lucifer clapped his hands and said: “I’m right!”

Me: Yeah fine, yes I love 16 Candles.

Lucifer was not going to let that go so about ten minutes he goes to the chef, who is not really a soft kind of guy.

Lucifer: Hey Chef, can you believe K (me) hates the Breakfast Club?

Chef: I never really quite liked the Breakfast Club. I never quite got the point. [pauses] I was always more of a 16 Candles fan.

Oh my gosh! I shouted a thank you and we were all busting up laughing because if you saw the Chef, you would not think 16 Candles. Ever. He is super badass. I mean he has these tattoos that are just so badass man. He has a mouth on him that would make every one of my girlfriends turn so red. I was one of those girls till recently. I’ve learned to let it go. My mouth has actually gotten a lot less nice since working there.

But it’s sometimes the little things like this that make for a sweetbitter day. This definitely hit in the sweet department. Another exchange I found highly funny is that I looked up the French translation for ‘eff you’ last night. Va te faire foutre.  As a general rule of thumb, don’t sass someone with this if they know Spanish. Lucifer teasingly snarled at me to shut my mouth and I had best watch what I say. Damn him.  But it did make for a funny exchange.

Again, sweetbitter moments.  I wish most days were sweet for all of us. I wish the bitter didn’t crop up so much, but I love that I can joke with my marvelous coworkers. I love that we have this thing that is a pretty sweet working relationship. I love that I love all my boys (all the prep chefs, dishwashers, and line chefs) and that they are so seriously sweet with me. Richard, St. Michal, D-man, Lurch, Lucifer, and a couple others I haven’t come up with names for. I always tell Chef Wildflower to take care of our boys when I leave. She’s 17, nearly 18, but all the guys who are older than her and younger than me are our boys. We couldn’t do it without them. (and I might add we couldn’t do it without Miss Holly who is like the Mom of all of us)

Ah yes, this kitchen thing is an interesting life.

Kate

Giving Space

If there is one thing I can honestly say about myself, it’s giving space. I don’t do it well, and when I want to spend time with someone, I want to spend time with someone. I don’t always want to back off.  I especially don’t want to give space when a friend is hurting or going through crap. I may not always know what to say, but I like to be there. I like to comfort. I think I’m one of those natural maternal comforting types. Ironic since I won’t ever be a mom in the true sense of the word with my own kids.

Another thing I’m not good with is grief.  Not that I don’t deal with grief, but I haven’t had to, so I don’t always know what to say or do in the situations. The one time in my recent life where grief was a part of the process, was losing Boris this winter out of the blue to colon cancer. I was in shock and cried for two days. Till I found out that Boris hadn’t been truthful with me for the seven years we friends. Suddenly that friendship seemed like a sham (still blows me away some days) and like a water faucet, boom, I was out of the sadness. Even the anger.  Hold on, I want to check up on the stages of grief. Well, I think I blew through a few and was at the end rather rapidly.

So again, grief for me is more of an abstract. Watching someone go through aspects of it is hard. Especially when I want to be a giver of comfort. I don’t want o to have someone blow me off because they need to deal. Let me deal with you.

I think some of that stems from the fact that when I’m not coping well, even if I say I’m ‘fine’ which as women know means ‘ I’m not fine and I’d really like to talk about it and could you hold me,’ I actually want someone to push me to open up. What I really want is to talk about it. I want someone to care enough to push through my boundaries and ‘nudge’ me to open up.

So when a friend tells me to let them be and they’ll deal with it on their own, or think about it on their own, to me it feels like I’m being pushed away. Currently, that is my situation right now. I have a dear person in my life who is making me feel like I’m knocking on a brick wall. I know that we all have boundaries, and we all deal with tragic or tough things in our own way, but being on the flipside of the person going through a rough time, and being told to back off, in a way, is incredibly hard for me. I don’t understand it, I don’t like it.

I guess this is where I wonder about boundaries. If person A has the boundary of letting them be, but person B needs to be around person A to feel connected, who’s more important? I almost feel like there is this weird paradox in regards to it. Who’s right? Is person B supposed to push a little to get what they need? Or are they supposed to back off from person A to give them space?

Because I can tell you right now, if I am pushed away too much, it makes me get very frustrated. (of course, I am person B in this scenario) The more frustrated I get, the more annoyed I will be with person A.  So what’s right?

I feel like I’m overthinking all of this, and when I’m tired, which I am, it’s all much more dramatic than if it were an everyday kind of thing. My mother always talks about a poster my dad gave her when they were seeing if their relationship was going to work, and my mom was going home for a while. Something along the lines of ““If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be.” I think she repeats it better than this, but whatever.  See, I’m a more insecure person, so if someone pushes me away, it feels like I’m literally being pushed out of their life. So to let go of someone, for whatever reason it is, is very, very hard for me. This statement is one of those ones I’m not exactly good at.

But I feel like I’m going to have to learn this little bit about life. Frustrating as it is. But I still wonder, am I allowed to want to spend time with Person A? Am I wrong if that person wants space? I mean, gosh darn it. See, I am not good at giving space.

Kate

Writers Need Thinking Space

Recently, it’s come to my attention, most writers don’t spend as much of their time writing as they do thinking. Though I already know this about myself, I have only just given it some thought. Although it is crucial that the keys on a typewriter are being pounded out, thinking is important. I was watching a marvelous documentary, California Typewriter; if you love typewriters you need to watch it. In the film, writer David McCullough is showcased as one who uses a typewriter. He was talking about how he goes out to his writing shed, and many times people could walk by the window and wonder what he’s working on, considering he sits there thinking. Not typing, Not writing. Thinking. But to a writer, thinking is writing.

I read an essay by Naeem Murr about his poet wife, Averill Curdy.  For those interested in a poet romantically, read this article.—> My Poet.  How as a poet, she spends a lot of time reading or not writing. Staring out a window thinking. Spending a morning madly scribbling ten ‘hopeful’ lines of poetry. I can completely relate. I am a fairly prolific writer, or so my friends and writer colleagues tell me. This last week I wrote 4 good poems, though I swear it was five. Even Lucifer was impressed at the amount since he says he gets out about a quarter of that. It might have actually been a quarter of a poem, but I can’t remember. This is actually unusual for me. One poem a week is grand; two extraordinary. Most of my time I’m dabbling in random lines. A journal entry. Reading. While I don’t have as much time to read, nor the patience, there is almost always a book in my hand. Be it poetry or, hopefully, some fiction. I spend most of my time working out things in my head. Days later I’ll come back to paper and jot it down. I could easily sit out in the sun with a scrap of paper, just in case, and think for ages.

This is why writers need their own writing space. Where they can’t be judged for not pounding out the words. Where, if they spend an hour shooting a rubber band at the ceiling and catching it, no one will say a thing. (I’ve never done it for an hour, but I have done it.)

This last Thursday, I spent the entire day working on a 43 line poem. The whole day to not even fill up an entire page. I’d work on it for a bit, get stuck, go wash the dishes, work again, fix lunch, back and forth. There was a lot of time not writing. A lot of time staring at the page, or pages of ideas, flipping things around until they worked. At one point I asked the family to give me a synonym for a word. The thought was expressed that the reason writer’s needed their own space was so they didn’t have to ask such questions of non-writers. They can go out to their own space and be far away from the ordinary person. I could take the mocking the other day because the thought of my own writing place over a projected garage, sounds ideal.

While I like being around people, and I need it, I also need far away. Or like on Saturdays, a place where other writers gather and are quiet. There is something about being with writers that is calming, even when chatting. It always goes back to quite and writing.

This is ideal…

Lucifer mentioned recently that he loves to go fishing and for the most part, I could do without that pastime. However, I’m going to have to see if he’ll let me tag along once the weather is conducive. He can fish and I can write. Or read. Or, gasp, that glorious feeling of being in nature with the sun, sky, water, and trees around, and think. Now that sounds divine. Granted, when I get with Lucifer, I don’t shut up much, unless he shuts me up. (He’s actually good at it) But I’d like to have some space and peace and quiet. No distractions. . . .Okay, that’s actually conditional as nature distracts me constantly. As well as Lucifer, but it’s the kind of distractions that all us writers need. The power to think. And some distractions are better than others.

…. and this is a bit of an exaggeration, but still….

Non-writers, (there should be a word like ‘muggles’ for non-writers) will never understand the not writing to write ratio. I can’t even fully explain it, but without it, I know I would never write very good things. It’s just one of those factors you can’t explain. This was something I tried to explain to my Chef when I said I needed more time to write. Working over 40 hours a week does not leave time to write, and by write, I mean thinking as well! That was before my crash, but still. Even my family doesn’t quite get it. It’s okay. So long as I have space, and the time to get away here and there, it works for the most part. I could use my butler, Sven, but since he’s constantly not working, well, I guess I’ll have to tackle house work on my own.

Now I need to get my writing place! And it needs to be comfy! Preferably one with a table for my typewriter (and the other one I want to get), my laptop, windows, and lots of bookshelves. A couple nice chairs and a love seat or couch… I’m really dreaming here. Oh, and a good sound system. So I can blast the jazz. Picture it. A hot summer night, windows open and the light is on in the garret as the sounds of trumpets float out of the open windows…. Don’t forget the crickets and the sweet smell of hot summer sun baked pine trees.

Kate

Sounding Like, or Finding One’s Voice

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

If there is one thing I do, it’s read a lot of poetry. I read so much that I keep the poetry section of my library in stock. At all times. I read so much that I have started quoting poets without meaning to do it. I read so much that I randomly mention poets and poems like they are friends I bump into on a regular basis. It’s gotten to the point where my mother starts rolling her eyes because I bring up random poetry all the time.

Now I’m going to preface this next part with a statement so friends who read this don’t start sending me emails and messages about how great I write.   I know I write good poetry and I am perfectly content with the bulk of it. Accolades and compliments come often enough that I don’t doubt myself, so friends, please feel free to pay attention to only this part.

If there is one thing I have found with writing and reading poetry on a regular basis, it is that I compare myself to other poets. I read poetry, and I’ll even do it with song lyrics I like, but I sit there thinking how amazing that poet said something and how in the world will I ever sound that good. Self-doubt is a lovely companion to writing. I think they go hand in hand. Almost like, if you don’t have self-doubt, you can’t honestly be a writer.

So I read poetry and wonder how I will ever be as great as some of the amazing things I read.  Currently, I have been reading a lot of poetry from Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times both edited and selected by Garrison Keillor. The selection comes from all those wonderful The Writer’s Almanac daily recordings. (I’m still so bummed that I can’t listen to that whenever I want these days.)  The poetry in the books is perfect for my life currently, but again, I can’t help compare myself to said poets.

I’m also reading a lot of Galway Kinnell, William Carlos Williams, Judith Viorst, e.e. cummings, and way too many others I won’t get into. Y’all know I love my poetry.

My friends and writing colleagues say I have my voice, but I don’t always hear it, and I want to ‘copy’ the greatness of these other writers. It’s not that I want to sound like them per se, but I want to have people read what I write and feel like I do when I read these other greats.  You would think that after the compliments of my friends it would be enough. And for the most part, it is. I think sometimes too, it comes from wanting one important person in my life to really appreciate what I write. And currently, I think he does. When he sees it.

I have so much that goes on in my head and I am forever trying to get it out.  I feel like I get one good poem a week out. This last week I think I got two. Which isn’t bad. I always surprise myself if I can push a few poems a week out.  I read something that Billy Collins said:  “One of the ridiculous aspects of being a poet is the huge gulf between how seriously we take ourselves and how generally we are ignored by everybody else.”

I feel that is incredibly true. I am quite serious about being a poet and what is going on, and if I can help someone with what I write, and will it matter. Will it all matter in the end. And part of that is making sure you hear me. Here what I am saying, be it in metaphor to use how you need it, or in completely plain speech. I want to say it the best way for me. The best way that you hear the ‘me’ in me. Which is why, while I would love to sound like other great poets, I still want to find my voice.

Obviously, I have enough of my own voice if other say they can see it. And this isn’t really self-doubt here so much as me just semi venting. And being totally blown away by some amazing poetry I’ve read this week. Current poems and authors that I’ve fallen in love with are: Passing Through a Small Town by David Shumate, In Paris with You by James Fenton, Wedding Poem For Schele and Phil by Bill Holm, Any prince to any princess by Adrian Henri, To A Frustrated Poet by R.J. Ellmann, A Millian Young Workmen, 1915 by Carl Sandburg, Ordinary Life by Barbara Crooker,  and lastly, Prayer by Galway Kinnell, which I will type up here because, wow….

 Prayer

Galway Kinnell

Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.

And on that note, I shall end, because Galway says it all.

Happy writing to those starting April PAD (Poem a Day) with Writer’s Digest. I haven’t decided if I’m going to or not, but I’m thinking about it. Just to add to my general writer’s crazy. Cause I don’t have enough things to think and write about.

Writing on

Kate