Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sensitivity. Or lack there of.

I got a call from my friend last week asking me if I was religious. I chuckled and told her she clearly hasn't been paying attention. She proceeded to rant about a nurse at the hospital who said to her, in front of her dying 8 year old child, "God has a plan for everyone." The only thing worse could possibly be that she is going to a better place.

God does not have a plan that involves and 8 year old girl dying of a brain tumor. He/She/It just doesn't. I don't believe in God, but I do know that there is not a higher power sitting somewhere planning this out. I refuse to believe this to be true. This is a terrible tragedy. 

Having said that, she got news today that her daughter will not live to see Easter. The tumor has grown 20% in two weeks. 

She called me again tonight, crying, upset because someone else said something insensitive and along the lines of "God knows what he is doing" and she just had to walk away. 

I love you all no matter what religion you are. I understand the sentiment behind what is being said. But I ask all of you to keep in mind when someone is going through a loss...it is not always comforting to them to hear things like this. Saying that you will pray, fine. Saying that you believe this was the life this little girl was supposed to live is extremely hurtful to a non religious parent coping with this loss.

Just a thought on sensitivity. 

I spent time on the phone doing what I do best...listening and feeling awkward because I didn't know what to say other than I love you and I am so so sorry. When she told me what that person said, I told her next time to turn to them and say, "Well then God is a fucking dick!" And walk away. 

She laughed and said, "Maybe you are not the best person to talk about being sensitive to other people's feelings."


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The sarcasm is dripping from this one...

I heard something on a show today that got me thinking. The quote was, "No matter who you are, be the best version of you that you can be."

I thought, well, shit. Those are words to live by. I should absolutely be the best...slow the fuck up. No. What if the best version of you is a sociopath that kills small children? I don't want you to be THE BEST at that. I absolutely want you to be the worst. The absolute worst.

Because, here is the thing. Yes, we should absolutely lift people up. We should help them be the best version of themselves. But, we should also let them fail. And learn failure. We should let them hurt so they become strong. We should stop coddling everyone and make 1000 motivational posters that just say, look, suck it the fuck up and move on. The grass is still shitty on the other side. But, you can fertilize it and water it and take care of it and make it awesome. Walking to the other side is just going to give you more shitty grass. Staring longingly at what you can have and wishing it true is not a way to live a life. Make it the fuck happen. (note: self, listen to this when you are all whiney and sad)

On that note...10 incredibly unmotivated takes on motivation.

 Unless your idea of living like you will die tomorrow is jumping off a bridge. Really, you should be more careful. 
 Now I am locked away in a cabin with the kind of people that don't kill you. They keep you. 
 But, please make sure to do it from the 500 feet the restraining order requires. And for the love of God, stop sending severed doll heads in the mail. It's just weird.
 Except for all the things I am still going to do that they are doing. Like drive a car. Or breathe. Or eat food. Or shake my head in disgust at the people of Jersey Shore while secretly following every single thing they do.
 Presumably the unemployment line? This sounds like a terrible line. She should stand in a line between super gay and happy guy and person with adorable pictures of kittens. Nobody can be unhappy with either of those situations.
 Unless you are actually ordinary. Then you should stop turning away everyone while throwing expensive tea cups at the door screaming about how not ordinary you are. I mean, somebody actually has to be ordinary. That's how it works.
 "Honey, your ass looks like a beached whale and that top makes you look like a snake that is trying to digest a small child." Now tell me to hurt you with the truth. Bring on the comfort.
 THANK YOU. I am now going to stop cleaning my house, putting gas in my car, paying bills, and going to work. Inspirational quotes are the best.
 Life is for a drunken one night stand? Or life is an awesome trip? Or...fill in any other drug induced experience here. 
This is only a positive thing if I get to preview the eyes I am seeing myself through. Because if this is that chick at the grocery store who totally saw some crack when I dropped my wallet and was wearing sweat pants...I'll pass. She means a different kind of special.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I really do love you, vegans. Just not when I have to cook for you.

Tomorrow I am cooking a four course meal for my friend's daughter. Or rather benefiting my friend's daughter. I offered back in October or November and the cards never seemed to line up. I sort of forgot about it until I got a call back in January asking if I was still interested and could do it the weekend  after Valentines Day. I immediately accepted and started planning.

When they found out her daughter had DIPG, my friend started a charity in her name. I have sold bracelets (think Lance Armstrong style) to raise money and have bought multiple gifts for the family, including heated blankets and miscellaneous crafts. I turned down invitations to benefit after benefit because I just couldn't get down there...they always seemed to fall during restaurant week or other holidays that I couldn't get off work. (They live 2 hours away.) So I said fuck it and volunteered to do my own.

Originally, the plan was to find a banquet hall and have the charity pay the cost of the facility. Can you believe every single banquet facility they spoke with refused to help? Not even a discounted rate for the benefit. So, they decided to use someone's home. I am donating my time and the cost of the food. Another friend of the family is donating the wine and beer. I spoke with the woman who is hosting on the phone the other day and she was just lovely. I realize that is never a phrase that has left my  mouth before, but there is simply no other way to describe her. I was on the phone with her for an hour. I have never met or spoken to this woman in my life. She called me sweet heart through the whole conversation. I love her.

My friend's daughter has terrible food allergies...dairy, gluten, egg, nut, soy, and I am probably forgetting 12 of them. I know there are a few fruits she can't eat either. So, I decided to offer to be sensitive to food allergies for this dinner since I know some of the people in their lives could fall into this same category.

To which I got the following list:

1 Vegan
2 Vegetarians
1 No Pork
1 Nut Allergy
1 Milk Allergy

Sigh. I don't want to be that chef. I don't want to be the person who is super annoyed by lists like this. I am allergic to olives (which is weird) and nobody mocks me when I ask them if something contains or has come into contact with olives. I totally get it. BUT. 

I responded to this email saying I would offer two menus which cover all of my problems. A vegan menu and a non vegan menu. Everyone listed above would eat the vegan menu when a food allergy applied (except for nut person because I am not using any.) 

Let the shit storm begin. No Pork just doesn't like eating it because pigs are cute, but doesn't want a bunch of vegetables either, so she will eat the pork. Milk allergy (which only applies to the dessert) would prefer not to eat the vegan ice cream, can I get sorbet instead? The vegetarians both want to eat dairy and eggs if it applies and would prefer not to have vegan dishes.

What the...just what?

Let's figure out what I should make on this, shall we? I have spent $200 on food...$8 a person. Let's say, for shits and giggles, that I get paid my former hourly rate (which is much less than my current) and I am making about $11/ hour. Start to finish, including shopping, prepping, travelling time, set up and execution, is about 20 hours. So we are at $420 (ha. 420) for a four course meal for 25 people. That is what it costs to have me there. Literally no profit. I took off work for this.

They are charging $50 a head for this dinner...bringing in $1250 pure profit. Which I support. I completely support this cause and want this charity to get all the money in the world. But, at what point does someone say, well, this is a charity dinner donated by a chef? At what point do we stop pretending to have food allergies when we really just don't like that food? 

Is it selfish of me to be pissed that I am doing this for free and having to deal with this? If I was getting paid the $2000 it would actually cost for a private four course meal for 25 people, fine. 

I cooked all the food tonight. It probably cost me an extra $50 for these modifications. I have a crispy mushroom terrine in place of pork belly and tofu in the place of short ribs. I have made vegan and non vegan sauces. I bought soy milk and fake butter and mother fucking vegan sugar. Did you know sugar wasn't vegan? Because it is not. It is processed through animal bones. So I bought certified vegan sugar. CERTIFIED VEGAN SUGAR. 

Deep breaths. I am in a service industry and I do what people want. The answer is yes, what is the question...OH MY GOD I JUST VOMITED IN MY MOUTH. 

I want this night to be perfect. I want everyone to have a wonderful evening and I will do whatever it is that they ask. I will make fifteen versions of the same dish and they will all be delicious. This isn't about me and petty bullshit. I just wish that everyone else didn't make it about them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The uninteresting life of me.

Hi! Once again I find myself apologizing for my absence. Yeesh. I have been insanely busy and a thousand other excuses. I'm sorry.

I would say Happy Valentines Day, but fuck Valentines Day. Not because it is a Hallmark holiday that I found extremely cheesy. Not because I am the most unromantic person that has ever existed. Because in the restaurant industry, Valentines Day is a giant pain in the ass. Special menus, over staffing or under staffing, people who don't normally go out to eat, going out to eat...just a nightmare. New Years Eve and Valentines Day are known for the shitty tips, the unreasonable demands, just a general bad day for the people who are stuck there doing all the work. 

So, Happy Thursday. I hope you have a great Thursday where you stayed in and rented a movie and ordered a pizza. If you went out, I hope you tipped well and were not a total pain in the ass.

The job is looking up. I am starting to get my groove there, learning the ropes, and the staff seems to be starting to warm up to me. I don't feel so useless. I hate feeling useless. I can work their saute station (always the hardest station in a restaurant) solo now, so I can jump in and pretty much do whatever the situation needs. For a while, it felt like I was just standing off to the side watching everyone else scramble and feeling stupid.

The food is starting to grow on me a little bit. It's not as bad as I thought, I just really really hate Italian food. It is so rarely done well and this is done OK. I am excited to start improving the food because it really could be good. Now it is on par with a slightly better version of Olive Garden. Blech. I finally got them to stop prepping stuff fresh and then freezing it (?!?!?!) 

I still like the drive, although I have had a few traffic incidents that took my drive time from 30 to 60 minutes. Not awesome. The drive gives me a lot of time to think and I always have stuff I want to tweet, but I refuse to text and drive. So I am going to share them with you all!

8 things I wish I would have tweeted but didn't:

  1. "'Women are such terrible drivers' tweets the woman driving next to me who has almost hit me twice."
  2. "Breaking News: Slow Speed Chase. Cop Baffled by man driving on the wrong side of the highway going 15 mph" (this actually happened today)
  3. "Somebody please explain the correlation between driving and picking your nose. WE SEE YOU. AND YOU WIPED IT ON YOUR SHIRT."
  4. "I really wish I lived in a world where I could drink a forty on my half hour drive home. Like the 'we'll look the other way if it's your first beer' law."
  5. "'OH MY GOD THERE IS A CAR IN THE MEDIAN, SLOW DOWN AND STARE' says everyone ever driving ever."
  6. "I never would have believed you if you said today I would wake up and watch someone drive a rascal down the side of the highway. Yet, here I am."
  7. "'Hey Earl! My pick up truck has bigger tires than your pick up truck!' "Yeah, Junior, but mine has Calvin peeing on Hobbes!'"
  8. "'Don't cry like a bitch when you feel the pain' may be my new favorite song lyric. I definitely should not tell anyone this"

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Driving home from work today I was crabby and bitching to Krackle about how weird my day was and how  it was my first bad day at the new job. We had someone not show up for work which in turn lead to a different person being fired. I stopped on the way home and got a salad and some wine to forget everything.

Then, as reality is known to do, I got slapped in the face. My friend sent me a text message giving me news I hoped I would never have to hear.

In June 2012, her 8 year old daughter was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. It is a rare brain tumor that only affects about 100 kids in both North and South America per year. It is in the Pons region of the brain, which is located in the brain stem, and affects important functions such as breathing and heart beat. Due to the importance of this region of the brain, the tumor is inoperable. 

Her daughter immediately started chemotherapy and radiation. My friend, who is a pediatric nurse, knew the statistics and kept them to herself, silently suffering so as to give her family hope. Privately she prepared herself for the inevitable. 

The tumor has been stable since her diagnosis, a very good sign. Her neurological symptoms considered to be unstable, but overall, she was doing better than expected.

Today they got MRI results back that showed a 25% growth in the tumor. Their family decided to put her in hospice care rather than continue the steroids, radiation, and chemo that were just making her sick and miserable. Nobody knows if she will have days or weeks or months, it all depends on how fast the tumor grows. They have a very long journey ahead of them as they watch their little girl decline.

I am simply asking that you send every positive emotion you can their way. If you pray, pray. If you mediate, meditate. I am not sure what exactly to hope for...a painless, fast end or more time with their precious little girl. 

I would never wish this upon my worst enemy. This little girl has humbled me through her bravery and strength. She insists on going to school and doing all her school work despite not feeling well. She is not ashamed of her hair falling out, only wearing a head band to cover it when going somewhere that is new. She insists on buying her little sister a present every time she gets something because she wants to be fair and she loves her little sister. 

Make a Wish sent them on a Disney Cruise in November and they have taken every second they have free to spend together as a family. Their bravery and love has both warmed my heart and broken it over the past year. 

Hug your loved ones. I know that I will.

Friday, February 1, 2013

To sum it up...everybody please like me.

I go back and forth about writing this post. Do you all care about the new job? It is such a central part of my life, but yet I haven't really talked to anyone but the boy about it. I don't know. Sometimes this blog feels super self centered and then I remember that it is a blog about me, so that is kind of the point? I guess my life has just been void of hilarious shenanigans and I feel guilty because I keep giving you life updates instead of the time Erratic accidentally ate a live toad. That never actually happened. Yet. But it will make for a decent story when it inevitably does.

New job. The drive is shockingly cathartic. It is probably my favorite part of my day, which I did not expect. It takes me about a half hour, I give myself 45 minutes. I spend that time reflecting up on my life. Psht. That's a lie. I spend that time singing ridiculous songs at the top of my lungs and eating the various snacks I have packed for myself. I have to pay for food at new job. So, I eat in my car. There may or may not be a neighbor who I wave to every morning with an English Muffin hanging out of my mouth. Classy. That's what this blog is all about. Keeping it classy.

The actual job is, well...ugh. I don't know where to start. 

First of all...in restaurants (and I assume most jobs) the first week is like watching paint dry while trying desperately to get transferred to the department that watches grass grow. You have no idea what the fuck you are doing and how to do it or where to do it or when. Yes, I have a skilled trade. But, there is a sense of respect. You don't just march in and shove someone out of the way and scream "THIS IS MY KITCHEN BITCHES" and then light everything on fire. 

In hindsight, maybe that is exactly what you do. Now I really want to do that. I am going to need a fake kitchen and some extremely flammable dummies...

Unfortunately, that is not what I did. I did what I do best, I stand around awkwardly waiting for someone to tell me what to do so I stop feeling awkward. Oh, and I say weird things because I forget that these people don't know me. And sometimes, someone instantly gets that about me (one person) while everyone else stands around and shoots looks at each other that pretty much say, "Who the fuck hired her?"

On top of that, I am already kind of a legacy. The Executive Chef/Friend has talked me up to everyone (customers included) for approximately all of time. Yes, this is flattering. Yes, this is a lot of fucking shit to live up to. 

On one note: I am the best chef there. Hands down. That is not bragging. That is a fact. 

One another note: Pretty, pretty please will everyone like me?

Do you like the person that someone tells you for months on end is better than you? No, you in fact do not. You are super uncomfortable around them. You walk on egg shells around them. You talk about them when they leave the room. You taste everything they make skeptically and then tell everyone it wasn't that good. 

That last part may be in my head. There is this super sweet 19 year old that follows me around telling me how awesome I am all the time. I am on board with him. More of him.

The current kitchen manager (my peer, even though my title is sous chef) and I were going over the current menu, which I was brought on to fix. I spent about an hour telling him that Kitchen Nightmares found their next restaurant. The menu is AWFUL. (note to self...eat somewhere before you agree to work there, no matter how much it pays.) And I was told to be completely honest. So, we are going through some menu modifications and I completely fucked up the math (math is hard!) and he fixed it. I said, "well, thankfully someone can do math," to which he responded, "At least I can do something."

Heart. Broken. I don't want to make anyone feel that way. We talked about it and the conversation basically ended with me saying the only thing I like about cooking is putting a group of people in a room to cook. It doesn't matter if one people or 10 people come up with the ideas, it is the team that makes the idea awesome. It seemed to help. I feel like such an ass.

That is the summary of my entire experience of my new job...I feel like an ass. I feel like there are so many expectations put on my shoulders and I know that I can live up to them, but I don't know if I can live up to them without stepping on every single toe that is currently there. 

They have a $7.99 all you can eat menu (note to self: AT LEAST LOOK AT THEIR MOTHER FUCKING MENU ONLINE, ASSHOLE.) 

The new restaurant will be different, I know that. I know that I can make the current restaurant 1000 times better. I know that I am doing good and this is good experience and eventually everyone will see me for who I really am instead of some over inflated ass hole. Eventually they will trust me and like me, because I may not have any self confidence what so ever, but I know that I get along with most people. 

As far as a career move goes...is it better to be the best chef in the room or the worst? I think the answer is probably the worst. 

I like it. I know this post probably doesn't reflect that, but I needed to vent a little bit. I still think it was a good career move. Or career suicide. It all depends on me. I know that I am going to do my very best to kill it and put this restaurant on the map. Fuck that. I am going to put this restaurant on the map. 

What I 100% do know is that their front of house manager is a whistler. A full out, always whistling, whistler. 

In case you were wondering, this is punishable by death.