Thursday, October 29, 2009


I promise not to post pictures, but I had my first kitchen accident today. I was cutting a tourne of carrot and the knife slipped. I cut off about a dime size chunk of my knuckle on my left thumb. It didn't hurt, luckily the knife was really sharp. Or not luckily? I am not really sure what would have happened if it was dull. Holy crap did that bastard bleed, though.

Chef, however, gave the award for the "raddest cut of the day" to one of my classmates who cut off his fingernail. Not, you know, the tip of it. The whole nail. I can't even fathom how that one happened. The school record is 120 bandages in one week for a class of 15. So, all in all, I think we are doing well!

The kid from day one continues to amaze me with his stupidity and it is a running joke now that whenever you do something stupid, it is because of the time change. Which, by the way, is why I tried to cut off my thumb. I do feel bad for the kid, all the chefs pick on him. Although, most of the time, he kind of deserves it.

On the downside, I feel like the dumb kid in the class. A lot of the people there are way more advanced than I am in knife skills. Some have even come in first in competitions. I wouldn't even place, not to mention come in first. It just means I have to work that much harder, but I am so completely OK with that, because I love every single second of it!

First practical exam tomorrow - wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crap, I cut off my finger!

Kidding, kidding. All fingers are in tact, but there were some questionable moments where I took a chunk out of my fingernail and a cuticle that is a tad bit smaller than it was before I walked in. If you haven't figured it out yet, today was day 1 of learning knife skills. (KNIVES!)

I have knife skills, to an extent. I can chop an entire onion in about a minute. Are the pieces all the same size? Nope. It also turns out that I do not hold a knife properly, hence the awkwardness and close calls. So, today I learned the right way to chop an onion, garlic, carrot, and potato. We also learned many cutting techniques, such as julienne. So, the day consisted of me taking a whole vegetable and breaking it down into various sized strips and cubes. I would tell you the name of all of these, but they are all in French. And you probably don't care so much.

We all set up our work stations and started chopping. Everything in culinary school must be done in a technique called Mise en Place (pronounced meez ahn plahs) which means everything in it's place. Essentially, it is the opposite of the way that I work. I am more of a crap, I need this, running around with no real direction person. They don't so much like that there, so we have to have EVERYTHING WE COULD EVER POSSIBLY NEED before we can even think about getting started. It's probably a good thing for me to learn and I could benefit from carrying it out in the rest of my life...chances are that will not happen. There is a reason that this blog is called Erratic. Because I am crazy.

After we completed our cuts, Chef had to inspect them and tell us how well we did. I got a "fucking awesome, man" while others got a "pretty rad for day one." Chef kind of reminds me of Sean Penn's character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He's a good time.

It is frustrating because I want to know it all right now, not sit and chop potato after potato after potato. I HATE CHOPPING POTATOES. I know the knowledge will come and that I just need to be patient. Much like Mise en Place, I think patience is a virtue I just do not possess.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Damn You Twitter!

I tried to copy and paste this conversation and twitter fucked it all up. I laughed forever during this conversation. This right here is why Big Jed should be president. Or a cabinet member. Or maybe just my drinking buddy. Whatever you think is best.

SwithanH: Whenever I write/text the word excellent, I hear it in my head as Mr. Burn's voice. This makes me crazy, right?

BigJed: hearing Mr. Burns is not what makes you crazy. There is much much more.

SwithanH: Shhhh...the voices will hear you.

BigJed: But the voices are the ones who told me. Wait...are we having a collective psychotic break?

SwithanH: Not again...

BigJed: I will call and reserve our favorite suite at the loony bin.

SwithanH: Excellent.


I realize my anonymity has been lax these days...but when you don't work for the man, and never plan to again, life changes a little.

Please explain this to me.

I am sitting on the couch, attempting to study, when the boy decides he wants to furminate the dogs. So, he walks to the front hall closet, looks at the dog shelf and says, "Where is the furminator?" I tell him it is under the bathroom sink. I hear him rummaging around and he peeks his head out of the bathroom, "It's not there."

"Maybe it is in the basement, but I really think it is under the bathroom sink." He disappears in the basement to look and comes up a few minutes later empty handed. He goes back to the bathroom and I hear him rummaging around. I hear the front hall closet open and close.

"It's gone. I can't find it anywhere."

"Are you really going to make me stop studying to find the furminator?" He throws his arms up in the air in an exasperated gesture, obviously defeated by the search.

I get up, walk into the bathroom, open the cabinet under the sink, bend over, pick up the furminator and hand it to him.

"How is it that every time you can't find something, I find it within seconds?"

"I guess it just takes a woman's touch."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Official Culinary Student

I am not sure how many of you that read this like to cook, but I have been counting down the days until I received this:

When they passed out our uniforms (pictures coming - you have to see this hat) my head was full of knives, knives. More knives. OMG knives. Where are the knives. GIVE ME MY KNIVES. It has taken every ounce of self control to not go in the kitchen and chop everything in sight. Including my old knives. Because these new super knives - they could do it. THEY ARE THAT AMAZING. I may sleep with them under my pillow. Because that is safe.

When they brought them out I squealed a little. Both of my neighbors looked at me, like, great, we are paired with the crazy girl.

Other than the KNIVES! my day was fairly typical. Syllabus, meet your chef's, a bunch of confused "freshmen" wandering around looking lost...ahem...I was so totally lost. I met the people I am going to be studying with for the next 20 months and, well, meh. That really is just the best word. There were some really nice people, do not get me wrong. Most of the class, however, fell into the genre of this kid:

We are sitting in the sanitation and kitchen design class and it is 11:30 am. The class starts at 10:40. This kid, obviously on something, walks in and sits down.

Chef: Sir, can I help you?

Kid: I am here for the 10:40 class. I am early.

Chef: This is the 10:40 class and you are not early.

Kid: (blank stare)

Chef: It is 11:30. This class is almost over.

Kid: I think the time change screwed me up.

Chef: The time change hasn't happened yet.

Kid: (blank stare)

Chef: Please stay after class.

We were all laughing so hard, I, for one, had tears running down my face. In kitchen lab, when we all had to introduce ourselves again, he introduced himself as the kid who walked in late and got ripped a new ass hole by Chef.

Oh, to be 18 again. And apparently really, really stoned.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


When I made this decision to completely overturn my life and start over, I was scared to say the least. I was excited, but scared was the prominent emotion. Then everything happened with work and I started to doubt myself, doubt if I was capable of doing this. I put on a strong front and typically come across as a very confident person. Deep down, I am still that little girl scared of the dark.

Like my mom was always there to turn on the night light, my friends and family have been there supporting me in a way that humbles me. I also may have taken that metaphor too far.

I have been denied all private health insurance because of my back. I am, essentially uninsurable, which I do not believe is a word. This leaves me one option - COBRA. (duh duh duh) That is the noise that plays in my head every single time I say it. Yes, I will have health insurance, but holy mother of crap does it come at a price. At this point in my life, I am sort of laughing because, maybe, just maybe, I should have been paying better attention to all of this healthcare crap. Sigh. Lesson learned.

The job market sucks ass. I am over qualified for anything that relates to what I have been doing for the past decade. I am under qualified for anything in the culinary industry.

Here is where that whole humbled thing comes in.

My friend B rallies to find me private health insurance, sending me the research that he has done, since he has been fighting the unemployment line for quite some time.

He makes calls to his friends at the Hyatt downtown. (HOLY CRAP I COULD COOK AT THE HYATT.) He calls connection after connection trying to find part time work for me, which results in several solid leads.

Another friend, let's call her Darling (which is a reference to Lady and the Tramp that nobody is going to get, but whatever. I think it is funny) works for one of the local Chambers of Commerce and within a day of having my resume already has job leads for me to follow up on.

My father cannot stop fantasizing about the restaurant I am going to open with him. He wants to call it Erratic's Joint. I am thinking that probably won't be the name. I fear random stoner's wandering in under false pretenses.

My mom calls me every other day to get updates on "what is going on." I mean, to the point of, well, I went to school and signed some papers. She then reports to her entire side of the family. Who then all spend the next several days on a conference line (yes, we have a family conference line. I could not make this up if I tried) planning my future. I am expecting a business plan in the mail any day now.

My grandfather has made me promise that I will have a bar stool engraved for him in Erratic's Joint. It will say "the old man." Yes, that is what I call him.

The boy, Krackle, and Big Jed are eating everything I put in front of them, enthusiastically. I haven't even started school yet. But, their encouragement and support every time I freak out has been monumental to me being able to take this leap. I have had three very willing shoulders to cry on.

The boy sends me all the connections in small business healthcare that he has. He has also requested more pizza and more cheese. Everybody put on their surprised face.

I am not surprised by their support, necessarily. I knew I had an awesome support structure before I took this leap. The only word I can think of is humbled. I don't know how my crazy, spontaneous decision has made my life seem so complete, but it has. It has made me realize that the people that surround me are absolutely fucking amazing.

Maybe, just maybe, I can pull this off.

I am one lucky bitch.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wicked? Why yes, yes I am.

I love to read.

Love might be an understatement. I escape through reading. I live another life through books. If someone told me that I had to choose one activity to do for the rest of my life, it would be reading.

It is funny because I have never really dated another avid reader. Not like I am. It is one thing that I really do not share with anyone I am close to. I have friends who do not read at all, friends who read a book or two a year, and friends who read a book or two a month. I, typically, read a book or two a week. This depends, obviously, on how busy I am. If I had my way, I would read a book a day. And I totally did not mean to rhyme. Lame.

I am also a very fast reader, something I don't run into often. I think that the only person I have ever met that rivals my reading speed is my cousin Matthew and my dad. In fact, we often had competitions to see who could finish the newest Harry Potter the fastest. I won every time, but in their defense, I even took the book to the bathroom when I peed. And I made all food in advance. Stop judging me....

I may need some kind of book therapy.

Anyway, the point of this post was to declare to the world that I stand corrected. I do not like musicals. I don't really particularly like visual arts of any kind. I watch American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. I enjoy them and am slowly starting to understand dance. I would say I am slowly starting to understand music, but, really, I am slowly starting to understand that I am tone deaf. I saw Rent and loved it. I have seen many other musicals live as a kid and did not care for them.

Today I finished Wicked. I bought it on a whim. I did not really expect to enjoy it, but I had time on my hands and wanted to see what all the hype was about.

I am so team Wicked Witch of the West. If you have not read this and do not know what it is about - it is the story (from Wizard of Oz) about the Wicked Witch of the West. IT IS FUCKING AWESOME. It is not some childish tale where people sit there and dote over Dorothy and want nothing but a brain. It is sex and betrayal and racism and wonderful, wonderful awesomeness. It has depth and political betrayal and I cannot even begin to describe how much I loved this book. Well, I suppose I can...I downloaded every single thing Gregory Maguire has written and plan to read them all.

And if Wicked ever comes to town again, I will be the first in line to go. Who is with me? (Someone should be with me, because otherwise I am going to make the boy go and he will hate it and my flask only holds so much liquor to get him through it.)

On another note - I am still sick. I still can't hear anything because I have had a TWO WEEK LONG EAR INFECTION. Nothing is helping. But...guess what?

I START CULINARY SCHOOL IN 9 DAYS!!! Words cannot describe how excited I am.

Edit: I do not consider those shows visual arts...I am more expressing my total lack of ignorance towards them. Again, more of a book girl...

Edit Again: Um. I meant ignorance or lack of knowledge...not so much lack of ignorance. Yikes! Let's blame the only took me, like, forever to catch this. Ugh.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Things I learned while beyond unemployed.

  1. My neighbor trims his bushes EVERY SINGLE MONDAY. He gets home from work, gets out his electric hedge trimmer thingies (this is a giant hint that I do not, in fact, trim my bushes. Like ever.) and trims not just his, but his neighbors. Then he gets out his leaf blower and cleans the sidewalks. He also uses his leaf blower to dry his truck when he washes it by hand. I have an overwhelming urge to walk outside and remind him that we live in a condo and pay that ridiculous fee so that someone else does that crap.
  2. Everyone else works a 9 - 5 ish job. It is like a ghost town here during the day. I walk the boys and often do not run into a single human being, even on the nice sunny moderately warm fall days. Nobody. So, the economy can't be THAT bad, right? Or the other unemployed people are inside on the computer looking for jobs instead of out walking the dogs. Either way.
  3. Remember when you worked an 8 hour day and you got SO MUCH DONE in that 8 hours and would come home all tired and exhausted? Yeah. You're not that productive without deadlines and a manager. In fact, half the day (at least) is spent catching up on DVR and eating something unhealthy on the couch in your pajamas. Maybe other people are more productive, but I am certainly not one of them. Goal for Tuesday: get dressed before noon.
  4. Is it wrong to want a house coat and house shoes? Old people totally had the right idea there.
  5. There is nobody home to kill bugs. I accidentally smashed a spider under my tab key and locked a giant man-eating bug of some sort between the sliding glass door and the screen door. I then sent the boy a g-chat informing him of said bug incidents and that he will need to rectify them when he gets home. Until then, I cannot tab.
  6. Finding a job blows. This is not something I have had to do for a very long time. And finding a job in a restaurant? I don't so much know how to do that. There either is not a single job in the restaurant field in this city or I have NO idea how to find one. They are not in the paper or on any website I have seen. If career services is not helpful tomorrow, I am just going to start walking in places and asking if they are hiring. This feels really time consuming, but what's a girl to do?
  7. Daytime TV is absolutely the most ridiculous thing on the face of the earth. Do people really watch all of this small claims court/ talk show punching and kicking/ doctors scaring the crap out of you stuff? And, for the love of god, I DO NOT WANT A SNUGGIE OR A MOTORIZED CART. Ever.
I have a couple of leads, though, so keep your fingers crossed. :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Accidentally Inappropriate

I have a tendency to be accidentally inappropriate. I come from a family where no subject is taboo and no word has not been uttered by someone at some point in time. In fact, I was watching football with my father the other day and discussing how my new favorite insult was douche canoe. Then my step mother proceeded to tell me some things about my father that will require at least a month of therapy. I will let you use your imagination on that one. There are some things I just will not share with the Internet.

I bought my condo a little over 7 years ago. It was shortly after I was fired for the first and only time in my life. I lived here for several months when I saw the woman who had fired me walking her cocker spaniel with her girlfriend. I hid behind the car, watching where she was going and hoping she was just on a really long walk. Nope. She walks into the condo TWO DOORS DOWN FROM ME. So, for the past 7 years I have lived two doors down from my old boss. We have never spoken, although I did jump her girlfriends car one morning.

Last week I was driving home and decided to stop at the mailbox. It was a nice day out and all my windows were down. I left my car running while I got out to get the mail. My old boss/current neighbor pulls up next to me and gets out to get her mail as well. I smile at her, when all of a sudden, the song switches in my car. I realize what song it is, but am waiting for her to get her mail before I can get mine. I can't run back to my car and turn it down and get back out. That would just look weird. So, I just let it play out, hoping that she gets back in her car before the chorus starts. She didn't.

She did, however, stare in both shock and horror as the chorus played.

You come around when you find me faithless
You come around when you find me faceless
Fuck me like you hate me
(dig it up and tear it down)
Dig it up and whore me out
Fuck you like you hate me
(dig it up and tear it down)
I love the sound when you come undone.

She very quickly got back in her car and drove away. I laughed so hard I cried.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Talk in my good ear, son. Granny can't hear.

I have two ear infections. Yes, that is correct two. Because heaven for bid I just have one ear that is in excruciating pain. Nope, I have two. The right ear has cleared up almost completely, but the left ear keeps getting worse. This morning I woke up and could not hear out of it at all. I am still on antibiotics, so not panicking too much, but, you know, I kind of need that ear.

In return for taking care of me the past five days, I promised the boy a meal of cheese. No man, woman, or child loves cheese more than he. I decided to make lasagna and grilled garlic bread with mozzarella. Sticking with my organic diet, I only shop at Trader Joe's (or local farmers markets) so I embarked on the 20 minute drive.

I arrive at Trader Joe's and realize, holy crap, I can't hear. I am running into people because I don't realize that they are right next to me. A few times someone was talking to me and I had no idea until I turned and saw them looking at me and their lips moving. When I went to check out, I started bagging my groceries while the kid was scanning. About 2 minutes in I look up and he is looking at me with a strange look on this face. The following conversation took place:

Clerk: Are you OK?

Erratic: (confused) Yes, why?

Clerk: I have been talking to you.

Erratic: (laughing) Oh, you are standing on my left side. I have an ear infection and cannot hear out of that ear at all. Sorry.

Clerk: What? I can barely hear you, you are practically whispering.

Erratic: (really laughing now) I guess I am overcompensating because I can't tell how loud I am.

Clerk: Ma'am, now you are shouting.

So...the lesson of the day not leave the house with an ear infection unless you have someone with you. Or don't care that there is a clerk at Trader Joe's calling local mental hospitals to see if anyone has escaped and warning them that she bought a case of wine.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not exactly what I expect when I think of a bundle of joy.

I have been sick since Friday and running a fever, therefore the house has been kept at the approximate temperature of the north pole. Short dog has been shivering and cuddling under the covers with me to stay warm. I, of course, love this. The boy and Kobi have quarantined themselves into the guest room where they have a bonfire and matching long underwear.

But, how can you resist this cuteness? Minus, of course, the evil eyes because I am Photoshop challenged.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why you give two weeks notice instead of a month.

I am not sure where to start on what has happened in the past 5 days. I gave my company about a months notice, with my last day being 10/21. As soon as I put in notice, people started behaving strangely towards me. Not inviting me to meetings, talking over me when I was invited, not showing up for meetings I scheduled, etc. This started grating on me, wearing me down. I thought I was doing the right thing, staying on as long as I could to help. I thought I was being fair, seeing as I was leaving in the middle of a major integration. I felt guilty for leaving my coworkers the way that I did.

I left work last Wednesday and I knew. I don't know how I knew, but I knew. I told the boy and Big Jed I was going to be asked to leave the next day.

I walked into my managers office and was asked to close the door. I braced myself, swearing I would not cry. Tell me how it is going, he said. Tell me what is going on in Erratic's life. I lost it. I told him of all the frustrations of trying to help and being rebuffed. That I was pulling away in response, working on documentation and other things to stay away from all the negativity. I told him of a friendship that was being pulled to it's limits because of both of our frustration with the situation. I told him of the way people were treating me, talking over me, this friend included. That I felt worthless and helpless and all I wanted to do was help make this easier on the people around me. I cried until I couldn't talk.

He told me that there were multiple complaints against me, from the project team, and that it couldn't get much worse. He told me it was fueled by jealousy and that people do awful things when they are jealous. He told me that it was out of his hands. He told me that the way I was describing things were not the way that he was being told them by others, this friend included. He told me they wanted me out, that if I hadn't given notice, I would have likely been terminated. I would still get paid through the beginning of November and I was still eligible for rehire. He said those things as if they would make me feel better.

I was humiliated. I made him sit there with me until I stopped sobbing, until I could get myself under control. He told me not to worry about logging on again, to just meet him over the weekend and we would clear out my desk and turn in my stuff. I told him I couldn't face them. Knowing what everyone would say about me after I left, knowing that I would be the center of their hurtful gossip for weeks to come. It was cowardly and I didn't care. I couldn't face them.

There was some backlash with this friend, which I am not ready to discuss here. I lost a friend. And when I attempted to explain my hurt and anger, I was told not to bother. I have a feeling that many will follow suit. Either believing the rumors or some false sense of the need to take sides.

So, today I went and cleaned out my desk. It was surreal. I have been with this company for 7 1/2 years and I walked away with 2 bags and a coat. I shook my managers hand and wished him luck. He asked me if I would stay in touch. I shrugged and told him I am not sure there are many people here who want that anymore. He nodded his head as if to say, you're right and I am sorry for that.

The few people I have talked to from the office have said not to take it personally, that it was business. I don't know how to respond to that. These were personal attacks. The things that were said about me were not criticisms of my work. They were that I "checked out" after being asked to essentially do just that. I wasn't joining conference calls, after being asked to let another coworker take lead on them. I didn't tell a coworker that a meeting had been rescheduled because she was standing in the room when I rescheduled it.

It's all water under the bridge now. They have my badge, my laptop, my pager, everything. And I am happy that it is over. I am happy to be rid of that toxic place and those toxic people.

But, they weren't all like that. And I never got to say goodbye. I never got the goodbye part, the email telling everyone how much I have enjoyed working with them over the years, the hugs on my last day, everybody swearing we would keep in touch. It may seem silly, but I didn't get to walk out of there with dignity. I walked out with my tail between my legs and tears in my eyes. That will haunt me. I took a lot of pride in the work I did there.

The last thing my manager said to me was that it was the last 5 seconds that count. I looked at him and said, what does that make me? He said, you turned over all of your work, left everything you could to help. That will be remembered. I smiled and said, I see my last 5 seconds very differently and got in my car and drove away.

I am not starting a new chapter, I am starting a new book. And I refuse to look back.