February 24, 2010

Switching Off

I have just encountered a strange phenomenon. Something probably foreign to most of the world, but something probably infinity relateable to those who deal in high stress professions: Doctors, Police Officers, Firemen, Soldiers, and to a lesser extent, the people in the profession I'm studying.

Here's how it goes down: I'm driving to to class for a day of fun and pressure in the kitchen. My head is flying at possibilities, getting stations set up, selecting tools, the mad scramble for cookware and appliances to get a head start on things. Part of my head is anticipating potential problems for the personnel in my group, and how to best adapt to it. I've got a mental soundtrack playing in the noodle that's got me pumped. Real pumped.

Soon as I hit the Institute, I hit the ground running. Decked in the uniform, looking sharp and ready, I dash into the kitchen and start tending towards necessity. Grabbing cutting boards, sanitary buckets, that whole shebang. I am reared up on adrenaline, and ready to fly.

And then, the tide turns. Class is canceled, and everyone can go home.

Now for most folks, this would be great news. A day off to go do with what you like. No long hours, or sweaty high stress situations. A day to relax and embrace a little peace. There was a time, not too long ago, when I took this as great news too. I mean, hey, I'd rather be doing other stuff.

But not today. Today, I am mortified.

My heart is still racing, and I feel practically ready to run a marathon. I've got that much energy, and I really don't know what to do with it.

I've noticed traces of this phenomenon. Days when I'm not in the lab I feel agitated and edgy. I scurry all over the place with this deep seeded feeling that I need to get something done. I have no idea what that something could be, but it needs to be finished before I can calm down.

I've spoken of the Warface before, and I suspect this is an extension of that. This feeling of constantly being bombarded with stimuli, that you don't think so much as react. Constantly adapting to situations to achieve a set goal, until suddenly it gets achieved. And you find yourself sitting atop a mountain of energy, and no place to put it.

Switching off people. Most folks do it, and do it well. When they're done with their outside life and return home, what's done is done. But, some people, like the aforementioned doctors, police officers, soldiers, etc... can't do it so easily. And somewhere along the line, without really meaning to, I became one of those people.

I'm not complaining, for within all that pressure comes a remarkable sense of achievement. Being able to pull a monumental task out of one's ass within a set amount of time feels pretty damn amazing. It's an endorphin rush like no other. And perhaps, that's what keeps me edgy. Maybe I'm an addict. Maybe I'm riding the rush the way crackheads weave slurry songs to their muse. Truth be told, it makes more damn sense than anything else I've been able to come up with.

Anyways, I just needed to say something about it. To try and get it out of my head so I can go embrace a day to myself. It's sad, I never meant for this blog to be a place where I celebrate and promote the profession I find myself in. There are tons of other blogs out there that do this, and I certainly don't want to be one of them.

Alright, enough of the culinary babble, it's time to get back to bitching, Boogie-style.

February 9, 2010

The Warface

Alright, let's be totally frank here: I really don't know jack about much of anything.

I've managed to compile a working knowledge of the universe based on the knowledge of a sixth grader, mixed with a lot of bad movies. Don't let the degrees and certificates on my wall fool you people, I am sub-functional. A wanderer through the dusty roads of fact and reason, painting my own personal graffiti over both of them. Nobody in their right mind should take anything I say with anything more than a chuckle and a truckload of salt.

So why, why, why, please tell me why, people are actually coming up to me and asking questions like I actually know shit?

This scenario happens in the kitchen in what seems to be a once a day occurrence. I will be standing at my station, pouring through my daily sheets for what needs to be done, flipping through my textbook confirming processes on how to do what's on those daily sheets, and trying to throw a bunch of things together in the vain hope that the end result will taste good. I'll be moving along basing my every step on my working knowledge of the universe (see above) and the little bits of information I am able to gather out of the aforementioned sources. While I'm doing all of this, one of my colleagues in studentia will come up to me, sometimes making the journey all the way across the kitchen, and ask me how to do stuff. "Am I doing this right?" "Should I do this or that?" "It's not looking right, what should I do?" I hear these questions all the time.

Despite the fact that I am in the same program as these poor diluted souls, and am taking the class at the same time with them, and am essentially and idiot, they continue to believe that I actually know something! Me! Something! It's ridiculous!

I have lived a long and reasonably content existence where my word isn't really anything to take seriously. Oh sure, I've been a teacher, and a fairly effective one, but that doesn't count. These people watch me walk into their classroom and don't have to deal with me for more than a few hours. They don't know any better. Besides, I have to put on that face when I step into a classroom. I mean, can you truly listen to someone who doesn't give off that sense of confidence? I need people to believe in me when I teach, otherwise I haven't done my job. And the ol' warface comes with the job. The difference of course, is that in this circumstance, I'm a student. I'm walking into a situation where it's expected that I don't know crap. The point is to sit there, and actually learn something from a smarter, more experienced group of educators. So there is absolutely no reason for anyone to expect me to know anything about anything.

And yet, here we are. I'm getting questions from all sorts of people. Taste tests, problem solving, suggestions, the whole shebang.

What's weirder is that the responses I give to these people usually turn out to be correct ones. I don't know how this happened, but in the processes of reading up and studying things before starting this program, out of the constant fear of being too dumb to keep up, I actually managed to learn a thing or two. I can conceptualize what they're asking, and respond to these queries with confidence. I can actually stand in a group of people, and give out orders........and those orders are actually followed! It's insanity!

I'm not throwing this out there like I'm claiming to have some form of aptitude in this subject, I very clearly don't. It's just strange to have so many people, especially those who really don't know anything about my background (I'm not exactly forthcoming,) believe that I do.

In the end, I guess I'm worried that I haven't removed the warface for this. That despite being in a situation where I can relax with my guard down, I'm not doing it. This is one of the few times in my life, where I'm not required to know everything and have all the answers, and yet I'm still locked up and ready for battle. And by battle, I don't mean combat, but that dreaded, sickly sense in my gut that tells me my word has to mean something. That bad things will happen if my calls are off, even by a bit.

It scares me I guess, because being a leader of people has always scared me. I'm not a fan of telling people what to do, even when what I'm telling them is the right thing, because....you know.......why should they listen to me? Why is my word so damn important? I get through this with the job, because it's.....well......a job. I'm paid to tell them what to do. But such a mentality doesn't work for me in this situation. When I decided to walk into those kitchens, I did so figuring that my time leading anything was done. I walked in expecting to be the quiet outcast. The guy who kept to himself, did everything as he was told, and just sit back learning what needs to be learned. I guess, my hope was to be the throwback to the guy I was in college the first time around. Before I was put into positions where my word was required to carry weight. That isn't happening, and I worry that it may never happen again.

I wish I had a way to conclude this on a more appropriate note, but tell you the truth, I'm just confounded as hell by all of this.

February 2, 2010

One Of The Quirks Of Studying Culinary Arts

I waltzed into the bedroom around 9:45 this evening. I had just gotten through making dinner and cleaning up the kitchen, and was good and ready to plop down in front of a warm, toasty laptop, and dive headfirst into all the happy joy that only the internet can provide.

It had been a pretty productive meal. Pork Chops with scalloped potatoes. Tonight, I decided to toy around with veloute sauce, which is old school classic french stuff, and in the end converted my creation into a supreme sauce, which gracefully resided atop my pork chops. T'was a good series of experiments that lead to a very light and very nice meal.

Has I was kicking off my shoes, it dawned on me that I probably should sit down and do a bit of homework. I was in a peaceful mood, and in a good state to focus on some required studential stuff, so why not crack down and do some homework right?

So, I stared at my desk for what felt like five minutes, but was probably only a matter of seconds, trying to determine what my homework was supposed to be. You see, the mood to actually do homework comes at very intermittent times. And while I always meet deadlines, sometimes it takes until the final hour to kickstart the ol' mental drives, and get the damn things done. In the process of all this waiting and procrastinating, I oftentimes forget what exactly I'm supposed to be doing. This was clearly one of those times.......just staring at the desk, slowly piecing together what my homework was.

And then, it hit me. I knew what my homework was.......and it was dinner.

You see, we're currently studying the classic sauces in lab, and the night's homework was to brush up on them.......which I feel I did relatively competently.

Homework complete...........weird as hell.