Monday, 10 September 2007

Reading, Pain, General Mindset, Kitchen...

...there's a lot going on up there. And everywhere else.

My back pain continues, unabated, just as my peers' eagerness to confirm that were I thinner, I'd not be in this sorry state. To add insult and injury to already existing injury, the medications I'm unwillingly taking once I have reached the "I-can't-take-it-anymore" point, have made me so constipated, nothing is moving as it should. I'm completely backed up so I am feeling pain in my nether region as well...

Admittedly, this combined with the ever-deepening depression of the possibility of being in debilitating pain for the rest of my natural (and possibly unnatural) life, has actually been worsened by my reading selections of late. Reading Under the Banner of Heaven was enlightening (although it never did clearly spell out the Mormon sacred underwear thing for me), but Shattered Dreams was just depressing. Interesting, to be sure, but depressing. To think that so many women can be brainwashed into thinking that plural marriage is sacred and wonderful.... all I saw was constant infighting and abject poverty and a woman who actually felt guilty for having her tubes tied after delivering 14 children! And this unbelievable loser she married - ye gods. His name was Verlan LeBaron (anyone living in Utah, parts of Mexico or having any involvement in the weirder Mormon stuff, the Fundamentalist stuff - will undoubtedly know the surname. The whole family was a little "off" to put it politely. Anyway, I finished the book today with a sense of gratitude that it is over. I'm not sorry to have read it, but I can honestly say I'll never read it again.

Ever befuddled and bewildered by my kitchen staff, I did a bit of digging to find Kitchen Confidential, highly recommended to me by Chef, whom I admire for his culinary skills, love for his sense of humour and avoid pissing off at almost all costs because while he is not in the typified ilk of knife-throwing tantrum-tossing towering raging lunatic-type chefs, he will hold a grudge for a longer time than I am ever capable of and I know when my survival is best kept in keeping a healthy distance. However, for the most part, we get on very well and I feel we have a mutual respect and understanding for one another's territory. Every so often one of us will cross that line and stumble blindly into the other's area, flounder, make a faux paux and then avoid each other long enough to move past and reach a better area of understanding. (9/12/07 - Once again yesterday I trod on sacred ground and did it, too. How stupid am I?)

I am, more often than not, the one blundering stupidly into these situations, making them worse in the short term but then learning yet another painful lesson by getting smacking on the nose with the rolled up newspaper like an errant puppy (I do NOT, by the way, advocate such an approach to teaching animals or people. In this case it just happened to be the right metaphor).

I've read with delight and abandon the preface, the appetizer and the First Course (Food is Good), and have had to laugh, for so far I've identified my top staff and most of the mid-range staff as well in there. I agree that unfortunately for some, this is just a point of departure for them. But the top line staff are the real deal and true to what I've read so far, very indicative of their own special culture. Since I am on the periphery of it, I want to get to know it more intimately.

A Short while later, relieved of my burden...

I feel ever so slightly queasy, but something tells me that all that pushing while having not too long ago taken a muscle relaxant may not have been the wisest decision I've ever made. Of course, I know better from a childhood fraught with severe constipation that there is no other cure than to tough it out and like a mother giving birth, bear down and push to unseen, unknown, unfelt contractions. I have been plagued with it throughout childhood due to loving grain-based foods primarily. As an adult I have swapped that for frequent diarrhea, due to a love of sauces. I keep trying to reach a balance but it is not easy.

All I know is the unbelievable relief of getting that log out and the sobbing on each exhalation - a comination of pain, weariness and incredible relief as the ordeal is over. I'm not one to cry by nature, but this was excriciating, and that is the nice way to put it. I'll endure a couple of days of discomfort every time I expell any waste from my system because of my very abused and overtaxed rectum, but such is life and it is a very small discomfort compared to the last twenty minutes.

I was wishing Ray was there with me.

I know you are (assuming you've actually managed to hang in there this far reading this rather graphic posting) wonder why on Earth I'd be wanting my father there with me for this particular event. Being a kid leaves one with funny memories. When I was dealing with the more serious episodes of constapation, my father would come in, sit on the edge of the tub and talk to me and with me and hold my hand while I struggled with that issue. I can't tell you how much that helped and bouyed me for those epic times dealing with my own self-inflicted discomfort. The things that gave one comfort... funny, isn't it? The last time this happened, I called him afterward to thank him for all that comfort he'd given me going through that as a kid.

Well, this is a journal, right? What can I say? Life can be unpleasantly messy at times.

I'm delighted to say that right up until those final few moments, I kept on reading Kitchen Confidential and laughing, in between pushing, at the description of the first dive he worked in - and the fleetingness of the dishwashers, a struggle that I have been learning to deal with (completely unsuccessfully) in my two years with the club. I know Chef told me that this position was by no means an easy one to fill; I really did not believe him until just after my first one year milestone. He's right and so is Anthony Bourdain, who describes it as "the most transient breed in the seasonal restaurant business". The reality of that was one of my biggest and hardest lessons my first year here, while trying so hard to get into Chef's good graces with my hiring acumen (when it comes to kitchen staffing, I clearly have none...).

The other thing that amused me most (I'm only 23 pages into this, but I'm finding it to be so true thus far), was where Anthony wrote about spending some time in France, where he learned to love eating (shiver, cringe) oysters. The irony of that is in the fact that not two weeks ago I was talking to our Executive Sous Chef, who was opening oysters with a sharp but short knife as though unhinging them with a magic tool. He used a folded towel to do it (he's already witnessed how far and fast one slip of the blade can bury it with all that contagion into the cutter's hand. And how much damage and infection can result from it) and was very safe, but he did open them "popping the hinge like it was Aladdin's cave".

We were talking about that, the cut he'd witnessed another chef get, and different kitchen things. Just as I find his culinary acumen staggering, he finds my complete lack of interest in cooking totally baffling. In that, I have had a lot of fun with Chef, Todd, Chris (our former Executive Sous Chef), Greg and John (locally known as Johnny the Greek, although I never call him that in front of others. There are just some things that the HR Manager really can't do...). I once opened up raw lobsters with Chef (completely disgusting), worked with ground meat with my bare (and washed) hands with Chris, opened an oyster with Todd and tried umpteen foods with Greg, who is determined to make sure that I get some new foods in my diet. I enjoy my time in the kitchen there immensely.

It is 2040. My bottom aches, more so than my back (again, that is the work of the muscle relaxants), and my hands are shakey. Time to call it a night. Tomorrow I will thank Chef for suggesting this book to me. I'm loving it already!

1 comment:

Michael C said...

After my heart surgery I would take Vicodin at night. It would make me so dizzy that I'd stumble up to bed and fall asleep. Or I may have passed out each night. The difference was very slight.