Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to

I've spent the last week tossing applications and scheduling interviews.  I've had two.  One for a cupcake bakery and one at a local head shop.

I talked to the cupcake owner/manager on Monday, who said he'd call me on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I called to follow up and haven't heard back.  I'm writing that one off.  He told me he was looking to hire quickly.  I'm going with the thought that if he wanted to hire me he would have called me.  The Husband tells me not to assume I blew the interview, there are a lot of other factors involved. 

I'm taking his word on that.

The head shop?  It would be standard retail stuff.  They assure me that they'll call in a week to ten day to either schedule another interview or tell me they've hired all they need for this cycle. 

Meanwhile,  I'm doing a lot of contemplation.  I'm coming back to the work force straight out of culinary school, which means I'm at the bottom of the ladder.  I'm also coming back to the work force after having been a housewife for a decade plus. This also puts me at something of a disadvantage. 

It's very hard for me to not get discouraged and fall into beating myself up.  LOTS of negative talk going on in my head right now.  I'm doing my best to squelsh that and remind myself of all the sappy stuff that's true. 

At my last therapy appointment we talked about finding a higher purpose as outlined by Victor Frankl, the psychiatrist who survived Dachau.  He states that those who survive are those who identify their higher purpose. 

What is my higher purpose?  It's been pointed out to me that taking care of the family right now is a perfectly acceptable higher purpose. There's no shame in being a woman who keeps hearth and home. 

And there's no shame in finding something part time. 

But I'm discouraged and hating on myself right now.  Telling myself I'm just not cut out to do ANYTHING.  My skin isn't thick enough.  I'm spoiled by my lifestyle.  Stuff like that.

I'm trying to be very spiritual about this, looking for the message telling me what to do.  I've got three more applications out, so I'm going to wait to hear on those and then regroup after that. 

There we go, tried to keep the whining short and to the point. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When it's cold, make sure that you are exfoliating regularly all over your body to keep the flaky itchies away. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Right, the job wasn't for me.  I quit in shame knowing it was the right thing for all involved. 

Now, there's the fallout where I have to deal with all the crap I'm trying to put myself through.  I'm seriously doubting my ability/knowledge/whatever you want to call it.  I'm starting to tell myself that culinary school was an indulgence where I probably could have just watched a lot of Food Network or worked my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking a la Julie and Julia.

I'm scared to put ANY applications in, ANYWHERE.  I'm having to remind myself that applying to another cupcake bakery is appropriate.  I like to do it and I have experience.  The owner of my externship site will give me a good reference. 

If that doesn't play out, I may fall back on my retail experience to find something part time.  Part time is what I need to be doing right now.   Yes, it causes an issue with finding something that will let me bring in about $500 a month. 

I'm also fighting off panic attacks about where we'll be in ten years.  Retirement!  Paying off the house!  Oh my god! 

I'm dealing with being very frightened.  I'm forty-one and going into a third career with very limited experience.  It would be a lot easier to just stay home. 

I'm not feeling good today so I'll just tell you that being clean can make you feel better.  I think I'll go do that now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

That didn't work out. And that's okay. But then there's other stuff

Welp, the job didn't work out.  I didn't have the right skill set to complete the tasks in a satisfactory manner.  I just didn't.  Wasn't a good fit.  I left voluntarily after three days in the store where I would be working.  I was very aware that I wasn't the person for that particular job.

Then there's the fact that the schedule was tossing my home life into a state of extreme disarray.  Again, it wasn't a good fit for me or the bakery that needs a baker.

I'm surprisingly not beating myself up about it.  It doesn't mean I'm a failure.  It doesn't mean I'm unemployable.  It just means I wasn't right for THAT job.  I'm good at lots of other things. 

I tried.  I gave it my best shot and that's all I can ask of myself.

I am, however, trying to beat myself up for going to culinary school in the first place.  I'm done with school, I've got my certificate and now I'm feeling an obligation to DO something with it.

Here's what's going on in my head:  Okay, I went to culinary school.  And, yes, I did well.  But I didn't really learn anything that I couldn't have learned off Food Network.  I just went to say I went and impress people with how sophisticated I am.  It doesn't make me qualified to actually have a job.  Scott and I are going to end up living in some crappy studio apartment in 20 years, living on social security and eating cat food.  I'll prep myself for that now.  It's my destiny!  Beans and rice and my kids giving me money!  But with my parenting ability they'll probably be living with us, so at least I'll have someone coming in and out to make sure I'm not dead. 

Etc. etc. etc.

I'm having to make a concerted effort to tell myself that I dreamed of DREAMED of going to culinary school.  And I went.  I went.  I graduated with a 4.3 on a 5.0 scale.  I learned a LOT.  I really did.

So what if I end up at Barnes and Noble or Target or checking at a grocery store?  It's perfectly okay. I'll cook for my family and friends.  Giving people the gift of a good meal isn't anything to be ashamed of.

Right now, I have the luxury of making this choice based on the needs of my family and my own well being.  I have a couple places in mind to submit applications including a cupcake shop in a town north of me.  I'm also going to apply at a smoke shop that's hiring for shits and giggles.  Scott says I need to go in with a Bettie Page haircut and a push up bra to be a shoo in.  

I'm going to spend these upcoming days getting ready for my parents' visit next week.  I'll pop in a couple of applications and see what happens.

And, Amy, if you are reading this.  I'd still love to come work for you. If you want me to stop bugging you, give me a job already!  You know you love me as much as I love you!  C'mon!  You know you want to!  Love you Amy!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Coconut oil can be used to moisturize both your skin and your hair.  Keep it in the shower so it's lovely and warm before you rub it on. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Back behind the counter

I'm half-way through the first week of my new job. The very early shift, 2 a.m. -10:30 a.m., is a little weird.  Why?  Because I punch out, come home, have a nap and when I leave to pick up Will from school at 2:30 p.m. I realize I've already worked a full shift.  But, I still have the rest of the day left.  Yes, I have to go to bed very early.  But, I like being able to pick him up from school and be here when Zoe gets home. 

It's fascinating to me that retail is retail is retail.  I'm thinking specifically about the social make-up of the store.  There are still the cliques, usually organized by department, who gossip about each other.  Some people drift in between, but mostly the employees stick with the other people in their own territory.  There are still the personality clashes, the various philosophies towards their work and all that good stuff.  There is still the person who will tell you that the store you're going to is gross and the boss is mean.  Still the same old inter-departmental personality clashes.  Luckily, I'm used to this.  I'll be okay.  

The really early shift consists of frying donuts, baking bagels, baking breads for the deli, baking kolaches, replacing all the product on the racks for preparation for the next day, helping the 4 a.m. bakers with whatever they need assistance with and putting away supplies that have been received before cleaning up and punching out.  

The assistant manager I worked with yesterday showed me a very streamlined way to complete all these tasks in the time allowed.  She's younger than me, but attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has worked at a number of resorts giving her a total of 14 years experience in baking.  Her system makes sense and I paid attention.  

My chef instructor's voice is in the back of my head "Mise! Mise! Mise!  Work smarter not harder!  Have everything you need close enough that you don't have to take a step to reach it!  How can you cut out a step to be more efficient?" 

Tuesday, I worked with a man who has been baking for 40+ years.  He's been in the US for 39 years but still isn't 100% fluent in English.  But, his English is better than my Spanish.  Between the two of us we operated the majority of the shift in Spanglish and pantomime.  At one point, he put his hands over mine to show me how to form a ball of dough into a soup bowl loaf.  

Because he knows so much and is so good at what he does, I found myself paying outrageous attention to his instructions.  Have you ever met someone who knows everything about something you want to know everything about?  You want to ask them a million and a half questions and watch what they do. It's like that with me.  I found myself desperate for his approval.  All I wanted to do was have him tell me "Si, bueno."  

He had to keep telling me to stop working the dough.  I like to do that because it feels nice.  

As I was putting pieces of dough onto a sheet pan which would be formed into different products he said "Organize! Organize! Organize!  Vamanos!  Vamanos!"  In other words "Mise!  Mise! Quickly!  Quickly!"  as my chef would say.  

He also circled the loaves I shaped so I could see how mine differed from his when they were baked the next day.  Sadly, I was off my shift the next day before they came out of the oven.  

I'm working with him tomorrow.  I'm bringing a little notebook so I can take notes and draw pictures.  

When I came home from training with him I was overwhelmed and doubting my ability.  But, one day isn't going to decide if I can do the bread baking.  And it's something I really WANT to be good at, which makes me think I'm not going to be able to be good at it.  Why do I think that?  Hell, I don't know, that's why I'm in therapy.  

The bread baking from scratch is going to take practice with both organizing and working with the dough. 

However, when I was making donuts and putting pre-shaped cookie dough on sheet pans, I was VERY organized.  I had the box of dough circles on my right, parchment paper on my left, the sheet pans in front of me and the rack where I'd be placing them right next to me, far enough away that I could just turn at the waist and rack them up.  I'd been told to place 48 on a sheet pan. So, six across then eight across, fill in the grid.  Rack it up.  Parchment on the sheet pan, six across then eight across, fill in the grid. Rack it up. Repeat.  Snickerdoodles are sugar cookies dredged in cinnamon and sugar.  Box of sweet stuff next to my sheet pants.  Count 48 into the box, shake it up, six across then eight across, fill in the grid.  

When I came home yesterday I was SORE, mostly from putting boxes in the freezer and cooler.  The fact that I was sore and tired made me worried.  But I'm going to worry no matter what.  

I have today off.  I will spend it getting something to read at Half Price Books and going to see a movie with the gift card I received from my aunt and uncle for Christmas.  

Tomorrow, I go back and make bread some more.  Here's to hoping I'll get the "Si, bueno" at least once.  

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  A baby washcloth is great for exfoliating your face.  Use gentle pressure and don't forget to get under your chin.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Back in the saddle! Hang on tight!

I got a paying job! 

Culinary school:  completed with a 4.3 GPA on a 5.0 scale!

Externship:  400 hours completed!  Very positive reference obtained!  Many thanks to the cool boss at the cupcakery for taking me on! 

Employment in my field:  secured!

Go me!

Can I just say that starting a third career at the age of 40 is nerve wracking?  I was the oldest in my culinary class by 10 years.  In most cases, I was old enough to have given birth to my classmates.  I said this a lot, usually shaking my finger at the person I was talking to while saying "I'm old enough to be your mom!"

And I have children. I didn't have the freedom to go work nights at any of the fancy schmancy places downtown for my externship.  I needed morning hours for the two mornings I had available to me to actually work.  Luckily, I found a mentor in the owner of the bakery where I worked for free making cupcakes and icings 2 mornings a week. 

I was able to parlay my experience at the bakery and my schooling into a job offer with an upscale grocery store.  I'll be in the bakery, making all the fresh baked yummies you see.  Breads, donuts, muffins, cookies, danishes, bagels and all those good things. 

When I received the call from the regional recruiter, she emphasized that the bakery position required time management skills and it was physical work.  Lifting bags of flour, working with huge mixers, deep frying donuts on a big scale were all things mentioned.  I said I'd still like to come in and interview.

At the interview, it was again stressed that there was a timetable to be followed, time to be managed, problems to be solved.  I said I'd like to give it my best try. 

The next day, the recruiter called again with a sad tone to her voice.  My phone's earpiece doesn't work anymore, I have to put my calls on speaker.  I did that and went into my bedroom where I could hear.  Based on her tone of voice, so apologetic, I shook my head at The Husband mouthing "I didn't get it." 

Then she told me they wanted to go ahead with hiring me.  I said "Fantastic!"

In her sad voice she asked me how I'd felt after the interview.

"Well, I felt like it went well.  I did all that second guessing that everyone does after a job interview, wondering if I should have answered questions differently and stuff like that. But I felt fine."  I answered.

"You weren't scared?"  she asked.

"Um, no.  I think it was a realistic representation of what I should expect." 

"Okay. Well, maybe they're trying to make it sound worse than it is so when you get there you'll be surprised that it's easier." 

Since I was hired so close to the end of the year, the process of getting me in for training took three weeks.  Which brings me to a start date of this coming Monday. 

At 2 a.m.

Yep, I'm a baker, I work baker's hours.  2 a.m.-10:30 a.m., 3 a.m. - 11:30 a.m and 4 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. are the hours I'm going to be working the majority of the time.  It's full time, which is going to be a HUGE financial change for us.  But I'm going to be T-I-R-E-D for the month of January. 

Once I can get my sleep schedule worked out it'll be better, but the first 4-6 weeks will be rough.

Being the smart cookie I am, I looked up the health hazards of shift work.  Did you know there are health hazards associated with shift work?  There are.  These include increased risk of breast cancer, sleep disorders, headaches, stress and increased appetite.  These won't be too much of a worry, other than me getting myself onto the new schedule, since I won't be on rotating shift work.  (going from graveyard to swing to days to graveyard to swing to days)  It would appear that exposure to sunlight and lack of melatonin are going to be the things I need to be concerned with.  And I'll need to make sure I have proteins in the mornings. 

I'm excited to be starting something new and I'm scared to death.  Excited because I'm glad to be bringing some money in after almost 12 years of being a stay at home mom.  And scared because it's new and I'm a little nervous about the picture they painted for me.  What if I can't keep up?  What if I can't pick stuff up?  What if I destroy an entire batch of something?  Oh noes!  I'll get fired!  I'll have to hand over my paycheck to cover the damage!  AAAAHHHH!!!

Again, Shel Silverstein's whatifs strike. You can read the poem here....

There's also the issue of when The Husband and I will be able to spend time together.  It's going to have to be scheduled because I'll be going to bed when the kids do, if not before.  Melatonin is going to be my friend for awhile. 

One other thing is concerning me.  We're going to have to get used to living in filth.  Since I won't be home to make my feeble attempts to pick up after everyone, this place is going to just fall into ruin.  Laundry won't get done, dishes will stay dirty and the dog hair will collect in drifts along the base boards.  I'm not looking forward to it, but I may need to let it go until the family decides they don't like it and will pitch in with the chores.  Yes, I can force the children, but I may not have the energy to make that happen.  Even bribing them with allowance doesn't help.  They'd prefer to be poor and lazy instead of having discretionary cash and doing chores. 

It's going to be great.  I'm going to do well in my new place of employment.  The money will allow us to take a big breath and get things taken care of we've had to put off due to lack of funds.

Meanwhile, I'm going to paint while I can.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  The cold weather and the dry air caused by central heating is going to dry out your skin.  If you have dry skin, use a moisturizer.  If you have problem skin that breaks out with a moisturizer, step up your exfoliation.  And drink more water!  You'll need it.