Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm feeling better, but I did something difficult today

First of all, I'm feeling much better today.  My chemistry is getting straightened out and my optimism for my mental health has returned. Many thanks for all the encouraging and supportive messages.  :)

Here's the difficult thing I did today:  I said goodbye to two women that I thought were good friends of mine.

Let me tell you the backstory.  I think everyone knows that The Husband and I separated for a few months about a year and a half ago.  After we'd reconciled I had just found a therapist that was a good fit for me.   I was planning on focusing on behaviors I wanted to change and The Husband and I were discussing that when he shared something with me.

He told me that when he'd told some people we were splitting their response was "We're surprised it took this long."  and "I don't know how you put up with that for so long."   The Husband told me somewhat recently that conversations of that flavor had been going on between this group of people and him for some time. 

Here's the thing.  These were a group of people that I'd known for 15 years and I thought were my friends as well.

Two of them were women that I counted among my closest friends.  The three of us were pregnant at the same time and we shared the fear and awe and wonder and exhaustion and elation that was being pregnant. We had each other to talk to about our babies and which diapers worked best for boys or girls and which flavors of baby food were good on ice cream.

We'd all had a shit-ton of fun together. Gotten our nails done.  Taken over the biggest fitting room at Target and dragged in ten thousand items to try on.  Gone for girls' nights.  Gotten drunk.  Laughed until we almost peed our pants.  I thought they loved me.

Apparently, I was wrong about that.

Ever since I was told that the general opinion of me in this social circle was so low, my heart has been bleeding.  Like I said, I thought they loved me.

Many years ago I had an excellent woman friend who turned on me and I mean TURNED on me.  (She had a history of doing that with her women friends, there are enough of us to have a nice sized club.)  One of the things she told me was that no one in our social circle really liked me, they just put up with me because The Husband is great and he was worth putting up with me.   Well, maybe this was the same thing.  I don't know. They haven't talked to me since they learned we might not stay married. 

Finally, today, I decided I needed to let it go.  Which meant I had to let THEM go.

So, I wrote to them both that I'd been doing some very serious therapy over the past year and part of what I had had a difficult time dealing with  was the way they'd reacted to The Husband and I sleeping apart.   Well, here, you read it:

I'm writing to you as part of some intense therapy I've been doing over the last several months. One of the things I have had to deal with is the response Scott got when he told you guys we were splitting up. He's angry that I'm even telling you that he disclosed to me the general opinion was no one knew how he'd put up with me for so long and surprise that he hadn't split with me sooner. I was also told that these conversations had been going on with him for some time.

I'm heartbroken that we're not friends anymore. I really did love you and valued your friendship. So, I'm writing to tell you goodbye and sincerely apologize for anything I did that hurt or angered you.

I cried while I wrote and re-wrote and finally sent my messages.  I'm crying again now. 

Like I said, I thought they loved me.  


Sunday, December 14, 2014

This is completely impossible to describe to anyone that hasn't experienced it

What am I referring to?  Trying to find the correct combination of prescriptions to treat the symptoms of depression.

Treating depression with pharmaceuticals is less than an exact science.   Really, there's a lot of black magic and guess-work involved in finding the combination that will work for the person in question.

The health care professional talks with the person needing treatment, thinks about what needs to be treated and makes an educated, informed guess as to what pill/pills will bring relief.  Sometimes, it works on the first try.  Sometimes, it takes a couple tries.  Each try requires 2 to 4 weeks to complete.  Most medications need 10 to 14 days to begin to show their effectiveness.  In the meantime, the side effects show themselves.  These can range from nausea or loss of appetite to panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.  Yes, drugs that treat depression can make symptoms worse.  And you don't know until you're on the stuff for 2 weeks.

As you're waiting for the effectiveness of the new stuff you're also going through getting off of whatever it was you were taking before.  The withdrawal symptoms can be the same as the side effects of the new pills or they can add a whole different set of excitement to the days.

Once you've been on the new course of treatment for the needed period of time, you make a decision if it's working well enough to stay on said treatment.  If it's not, you start the process of getting off the old stuff and on to the new stuff you hope works all over again.

As this is all happening, you have to keep trying to live your life without crumpling up into a ball to keep from having to deal with all this bullshit.  You still have to parent children, go to work, do laundry and all the other things that are involved in living life.  Again, it's impossible to explain to someone who hasn't been through it that the act of putting gasoline in the car is just not something that can be dealt with at this exact moment in time.  Leaving the house isn't a possibility, let alone trying to drive somewhere and complete a financial transaction.

There are some dark thoughts that go along with this wait and see period of time.  Really, in-patient treatment starts to seem like a completely logical and appealing option.  Being someplace where trained pros will keep an eye on you instead of being allowed to take your crazy self out into the world where it will be expected you'll behave like a normal person.  Normal?  What the hell is that?  I'm not normal I'm crazy.  I'm a boobie and I belong in the boobie hatch.  What a relief it would be to just give in to it.  How liberating to just fall into insanity instead of fighting the undertow every second of every day.

You start to think about what kind of deal you'd have to make with what kind of devil to be free of all this.  The mood swings, the crying jags, the weird dreams, the nightmares,  the side effects, the fear that NOTHING will work this time, the insomnia, the inability to focus, the dizziness, the constant efforts to keep panic attacks at bay, the lack of enjoyment of anything, the never ending fear that this is going to be what it is for the rest of your life.

Crazytown. Welcome, this is where you live.  Come on in so we can close up the borders because there is no way in hell you will ever be leaving. Just accept the fact that you're a lunatic and start to deal with it.  You are never going to be optimistic, happy, find a child-like joy in all that you do because you're a kookoo.

 I would give anything to be free of this.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Relief and devastation at the same time

Why am I feeling relieved and devastated at the same time?  Because I have been shifted from the job I was promoted into back into prepping for the Korean station.

I knew this was coming, the writing was pretty much on the wall.  As I've said, the chef wasn't talking to me unless he totally had to.  Yesterday, there was communication but there were also several snarky comments. Maybe this is just part of the restaurant industry, or maybe it's just this guy.  Either way, I was a disappointment and a frustration to him.  THAT doesn't exactly feel good.

(When I told Pippi what was happening she told me she already knew the shift was going to happen and they'd wanted her to take over what I was doing.  My response?

"Well that was obvious.  It was like they'd moved in a girlfriend, told me she was a nanny but we don't have any kids."

She said "That's funny.")

My manager, who is the master of positive feedback, pressed the point that they were moving me somewhere I'd be much less stressed and unhappy.  He keeps saying he has the philosophy that if a person is enjoying what they're doing they will be much more successful and efficient.  He noticed that I'm very stressed out carrying the pantry position and I seemed comfortable in my skin over with the Korean chef.

I told The Husband when I got home who then asked me why I had such an issue with responsibility. My past record of handling sole responsibility for anything job related isn't good.  I flip out and end up stepping back down.

It's something to bring up to my therapist the next time I see her.  It's worth exploring, I agree with that.  Then I have the thought:  what'swrong with being good at support positions?  I've excelled at assistance and support.  I'm good at it.  When I was in new housing sales, way back in the early 90's, I was a sales assistant to the women in the company that were the most difficult to work with.  When I went to work down in Norco with a woman named Susan, our boss kept calling to ask me how things were going.  I kept saying that things were going well, she and I were getting along, I was getting her potential client files and follow up calls in order.  Later, I found out she went through assistants like crazy.  I was with her for over a year, something that had never happened before.

I'm having some depression now.  I got the idea to go to culinary school in 1997.  It was my dream to learn to cook and then cook.  I've got some evidence now that I may not be cut out for that.  One of my classmates was incredibly talented at creating dishes.  So very much better than me.  I have student loan for my knowledge, but maybe I don't  have the talent.  I execute instructions.  I can follow recipes, but that I could have learned on my own, the way my friend  Chris is doing.  Maybe this dream is just not something I'm able to make happen.

As you can see, I've lost a good deal of confidence and faith in my ability to create something out of thin air.  Mystery basket?  Jesus, when we watch Chopped The Husband has all kinds of ideas.  Me?  Not so much.

My thoughts are going into some dark places and I'm not sure how to proceed.  I know nothing succeeds like success and I'm going back to where I'm successful.  Nothing succeeds like success and all that.

Hopefully, while The Husband and I are in San Antonio with the kids for the Thanksgiving weekend I can focus on having a good time and looking forward to going back to working for the Korean woman who likes me.

Oh, living my emotional life is never boring........

Saturday, November 22, 2014

a li'l update on the job situation

Here's an excerpt of a yahoo chat The Husband and I had yesterday.

The cast of characters: 


Bardiclug-The Husband

Chef-my head chef

Pippi-my recently hired co-worker

Macy-the woman who trained me before going to another account within the company

(anything in parentheses is a little info to give clarification)

lipsticksavior:boy I'm glad today's over.
bardiclug:Crazy day?
lipsticksavior:Crazy morning.  We're all required to get there at 6:30 because the president of our company was coming to visit. As predicted, I saw him walk through the cafe.
bardiclug:He didn't even stop to eat?  Or did Ms. Park (the Korean chef I used to work with) have to make him lunch?
lipsticksavior:So, I've got my plan together about what I'm going to make and put out.
lipsticksavior:I'm feeling like I've got a plan and then Pippi tells me that chef told her he wants to see me pull the leftovers cart and lay all the protiens out to select what I'm going to use. 
lipsticksavior:I tell her 'Okay, I'm going to finish up the tasks I've already started and then I'll get that out.  I've already gone and looked at it and I know what I'm going to use."
lipsticksavior:She says 'Well, I'm just telling you that he told me that that's what he wants you to do." 
lipsticksavior:I finish up and I pull the stuff out and verify to myself what I'm going to be doing.
bardiclug:So why is he telling her and not you?  That's annoying.
lipsticksavior:While I'm working she's asking me what I'm doing, I'm telling her and then when she sees me doing something she thinks I should be doing differently she goes to tell chef what I'm doing and comes back with instructions from him.
lipsticksavior:I make egg salad, turkey salad, chicken pesto wraps, beef fajita wraps, bbq sausage wraps, cobb salad wraps, a  pork loin sandwich with orange ginger marmalade and slaw and get that all plated up.  Then I check to see that we have enough produce for the salad part.
lipsticksavior:As I have done every day since I've taken over this station, I start to take stuff out at 9:30. (everything is set out in a big ice bin, salad bar style and I make everything custom for the customer)  I come back to get all the veggies when Pippi walks up and says "Okay, your stuff isn't covered and he says it's too early to put it out."  Then chef walks up and says he told me before to not set up before lunch.  Get it all plated and put it out after lunch.
lipsticksavior:Okay,  THAT instruction was never given.  Telling me one day to pull everything, put it in the freezer to chill and bring it all back out later is not the same as saying "Going forward, let's wait until after lunch to pull out your set up." 
lipsticksavior:I pull it all onto a utility cart and I'm going to cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the walk in.  I'm then told "You can't have it on this cart.  This is a utility cart."  Okay fine. 
bardiclug:It sounds to me like you need to have a discussion with Chef and ask him to speak to you directly about these things.
lipsticksavior:In the middle of all this it's announced that the president is on his way. Okay, got it.  I'm trying to pull this cart into the walk in and find space for all my stuff.  Pippi walks up and says "The president's on his way.  Do you want to finish covering that?"
lipsticksavior:Yes, I know the president is on his way and no, I have to move this stuff off this cart.  Then Dave (another co-worker) asks me if I just want to park that, no I have to move all the stuff off this cart.  Then Preston (the direct manager of all the kitchen staff and cashiers) comes up and says just put that over here.  I say "I have to move all this stuff off this cart, I've told 3 people now.  I'm trying to find room for all this."
lipsticksavior:Now I'm crawling on the floor of the walk in looking on the bottom of the speed racks, which are all full, so I can move this stuff.  I get so frustrated I started to cry. 
lipsticksavior:Preston's telling me "hey it's all good.  I will help you with this.  get off the floor and let's get this done. "
lipsticksavior:I come out of the walk in and Pippi walks up "The president's on his way."  yes, I know.
lipsticksavior:I get all cleaned up, make sure my mini rack has a cover and sticker then I take my break.  Meanwhile, all the time I spent pulling the food I already put out and finding space for it I don't have my veggies plated up.  When we get back from our break we have our meeting and then I need to get all the veggies into the proper containers and take everything up front and I have 10 minutes.
lipsticksavior:I was 8 minutes late getting set up and there's an issue with deli making enough chips for me to have at my station so I have to go over and take some of theirs.
lipsticksavior:then we had service, the president walked through and at some point Pippi comes over to tell me that chef wants me to get my cart as empty as possible before I leave today
lipsticksavior:I stayed late to do a deep clean yesterday. Usually I'd scrub the floor and some other stuff today but since the president was coming I did it yesterday.  I cleaned inside the drains and made sure it all polished and looking good.  At 2:35 Pippi comes up and wants to know if I'm on track to be out on time.
lipsticksavior: yes, I have to empty my ice bin and the cleaning that goes with that and I'm done.
bardiclug:Well, that was a day....  I'm glad it's over too!
lipsticksavior:That's the situation I'm in. I work and Pippi goes to tell chef what I'm going.  Chef tells Pippi what I'm supposed to be doing.  If that's going to work for him, then fine. 
lipsticksavior:So I have to watch my back because he's got someone watching me all the time.
bardiclug:It could be Chef, but more likely it's Pippi running off to Chef every 5 minutes. 
lipsticksavior:But, it's a frustrating situation at work.
lipsticksavior:pippi keeps saying that S4 isn't going to be her station, but they've got her supervising me and working the station with me.  There's a bunch of info that she was given to tell me that I never got from Macy or anyone else.
lipsticksavior:I have the idea that chef will say he tells me to do things and I don't listen.  But, again, walking by and saying "you know we have a tomato slicer" isn't the same as saying "use the slicer instead of hand cutting those"
bardiclug:Yes, extremely frustrating.   If communication is the problem, the only thing you can do is be more pro-active and talk to him.  Don't wait for him to talk to you.  And if he says something that isn't clear, ask for clarification.  That puts it back on him to be clear about what he is saying. 
bardiclug:That's what I've had to do here, and it's a least BETTER than the other way.
lipsticksavior:I need to do that. 
lipsticksavior:I'm taking all the feedback and implementing it.  And I just wait and see what happens.
bardiclug:Well, you're home now.

And that's what I'm dealing with.  Again, I'm not getting direct communication and it looks like that's how it's going to be and I'll just work with that.  I'm anticipating a couple of things.  One, I had told Preston that I'd continue to run the station through Thanksgiving and then we could revisit.  I have a feeling it's going to be suggested that Pippi take it over.  If we're looking at it like Pippi and I are applying for the position, she is the logical choice.  She has a bunch more experience and knowledge.  Two, everything stays the same and I continue to operate under the status quo.

Next week, we are off Thursday - Sunday, a short week.

I'll be back to riding the waves the first week of December.

Whoo hoo!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Two weeks later, life is not great

I'm really depressed.  Work isn't improving.  If anything, I'm doing worse.  This week, a new line cook was hired and I found out later that she was hired to come over and help me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the help, but my superiors were sneaky about it.  I got that word from the woman who's helping me out.  I also overheard a conversation between her and the head chef about what I was saying, what I was doing and how I'd responded to things he'd asked be done.

This is making me think that not only does my boss not have my back, I need to be actively watching it.  Let's toss in the fact that he doesn't talk to me.  Unless it's totally neccessarry, we don't speak.  I'm working with the woman helping me on Friday and she asked me what the chef had told me about something.

"Oh, he doesn't talk to me."  I answered.

"Well......that's odd."  she said.

"Unless he has to, he doesn't speak to me.  When he comes up to the table, he'll talk to you but he won't talk to me."    And that's just what happened.

I'm now doubting my ability to do anything.  Manage time or produce anything appetizing may not be what I can do.  It's making me feel like ditching it and going back to slinging books at Barnes and Noble or going back to Starbucks where at least I know what I'm doing. 

In addition, my relationship with The Husband is back on shaky ground.  There are days we don't talk to each other and days we get along fine.  It depends on the day and how he's feeling about me at that time.

As I said, life is not great right now. 

That's all.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Our heroine had a few good days

Yes, more in the continuing saga of the new position.  I ended up going in to talk to my boss this week, stating that I thought I'd bitten off more than I could chew.  I'd come in an hour and a half early for two days in a row and I was just barely getting my service stuff out on time.

Again, Monday was a challenge because I hadn't been trained for it.  Chef ended up bringing me out a bunch of stuff and then told me he'd gotten it out in 15 minutes, so there was no reason I couldn't do that too. 

Tuesday I needed to steam shrimp, cook chicken, hand cut veggies and make an apple tart that involved being baked in a waffle iron.  Again, I'm in an hour and a half early.  I got part way through my morning and went in to tell my boss I thought I'd make a mistake. 

We weren't able to talk right that second but we did get together again after service and I was cleaned up.  What I stated, was that I didn't think I had enough experience to complete what was needed.  I explained that the last couple of days should have been easy, but I was needing an extra 90 minutes to get everything done.   Really, I just sort of vented and ended up crying about how frustrated I was. 

Then my boss surprised me.  He said "Whoa.  You are taking this job way too seriously.  We're just cooking food here."  Then we had a good back and forth about the fact that the kitchen staff is really stretched due to being short-handed, how I wasn't comfortable approaching the chef with questions and requests for help and my general lack of confidence. 

He gave me some suggestions and said he'd talk with chef, we'd then go from there.

Wednesday, we serve taco salads.  I got all my prep done with plenty of time but then had a snafu with the deep frying of tortillas.  I know what to do differently next week.  Okay, check.

Thursday, is the biggest day of the week. We serve pizzas.  I arrived half an hour early to make sure I got everything ready on time.  I was able to get it all out and had a small cushion of time to make sure everything was out.

Friday, I serve premade sandwiches and other stuff.  I used some of the stuff from earlier in the week to have premade taco salads, premade pizzas and then some wraps and sandwiches.  I had to run to get it all out, but run I did and my station was totally full and looking good.

I keep telling myself through the morning "If I can get to service then I'm golden.  If I can get into service then I'm golden."   Because once service starts at 11 a.m. I can stay in my serving station and take a breath.  Then it's clean up time and I can prep for the next day if I need.

I'm anxious to see how this next week goes.  Were those good days a fluke?  Or am I getting the hang of it?

Today, I am resting and trying to not think about work.  Tonight, my friend Leashya and I got to see the Psychadelic Furs and have fun.

Here's to small victories.

Amanda's household hint of the day:  Don't buy anything special to clean your garbage disposal.  Just toss some lemon wedges into it while it's running.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What is the lesson going to be in this?

I was super excited and proud of myself when I got promoted two weeks ago.  I was assured that I'd be working with our head chef until it was clear I had a handle on it.

Life, on the other hand, had other plans.  The day I was supposed to start working with the chef one of the cooks didn't show and didn't call yet again.  This meant he was going to be let go from the company.

This adds a big chunk of stress to my already stressed out head chef.  There were VIP visits, supervising the kitchen, ordering, checking in orders, inventory and the big family event the company we are contracted with was planning.  Let's toss into that mix he would now have to take over all the cooking for one of the stations.

That Monday, I had to figure it out on my own.  I hadn't worked with the woman who was training me because of Columbus Day.  There was information I didn't have, but I now have that.

This week was filled with massive mistakes.  My friend Pam says she likes getting a new job but hates the first six weeks because she feels like a dumbass.   Not only do I feel like a dumbass, I feel like I've been tossed into the deep end and told to swim when all I can do is tread water long enough to get a gulp of air.

This has left me terrified.  Terrified and terrified of meeting with my chef to discuss what's coming up this week, what I'll need to be doing on my own and how much help I can anticipate so I can get my timelines together.

It's now clear I'm going to need to be putting in some extra time at work, which means overtime.  That's a silver lining.

What I am now is scared.  I'm no longer excited. I'm frightened.  And a little paranoid. 

This is going to be a huge learning experience and I need to battle through the thorn thicket to get to a place where I can get through a day unscratched.

I asked chef if we could have a quick meeting on Monday so I could get my schedule together.  It's going to take every last drop of my courage to do that.  Five to ten minutes and I'm not sure I wouldn't rather free fall into a big bag full air.

I've had some long talks with myself about what the worst case scenario would be.  Getting let go isn't it.  I could go back to Starbucks or apply to the new Vertz that's just opened up around the corner.  Worst case is I'd be kept on to struggle along, doing a mediocre job and knowing I'm doing a mediocre job. My superiors will know I'm doing a mediocre job and I'd know they know. 

However, I have my plan in place and if that doesn't work this week I'll try something else. If I'm not riding the job by the end of November I may need to re-think.  But I need to give myself at least those six weeks.

I'm going to make sure I'm giving myself things to look forward to.  My good friend Leashya and I are going to be going to a concert on Saturday.   The probably bad, horror movie Ouija is coming out on Friday.  Chris and I will definitely catch that one.  Instead of staying home for Thanksgiving The Husband and I are taking the kids down to San Antonio for three days. 

I have other things I'm going to try to lower my stress level and give myself enough time to get things done at work.  Early mornings and an extra hour to ninety minutes in the afternoon will make a big difference.  I'll still be home with the kids in the afternoons and have dinner with them.  And I'll have my weekends. 

I'm going to be taking this one day at a time.  I'll be checking in. 

*deep breath*

Amanda's household hint of the day:  Put a flat sheet, a fitted sheet and extra pillow cases into a pillow case to make it easy to grab when it's time to change the bedding.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

This has not been my best week in life

Oh geez. 

I've taken over the new position.  I had four days of training, which was fine.  I then took over on my own.  The two big days at my station are Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Wednesdays we serve taco salads and Thursdays we serve pizzas.

I never made it to my first pizza day last week because I slipped in the dry storage room and hit my head really hard on the edge of a shelf.  I ended up with a minor concussion but was back at work on Friday.

Anyway, that week was OK.  I hadn't trained for a Monday because we were closed on Columbus Day.  Monday rolls around and I'm supposed to be being closely supervised by our head chef.  However, one of our cooks didn't show up and didn't call, not for the first time so he was going to be let go.

This leaves us shorthanded in the kitchen.  This means I'm totally on my own.  I found out I was supposed to be serving custom salads and sandwiches on Monday.  When I was training we had put out the same offerings as the deli with more vegetables and different dressings than the salad bar.  Guess what?  I'm supposed to be serving only the freshly roasted stuff from the other stations.  Okay, fine.  I got that figured out and up and served.

Tuesday is pasta salads, I get that out but not on time.  I serve stuff up, clean up and then try to start getting ready for our big taco salad day.  I got some stuff done and hoped I'd be okay.

I was fine until 20 minutes before service and I flew into a full on panic.

On to today.  I thought yesterday was bad?  Oi.  I got to work early to get all my pizza stuff done.  I had been told I'd be partnered with someone today, but that only meant for serving, not for prepping. 
So, there I am trying to stretch 165 pizza doughs then cook chicken, get sauces together, make sure we have enough back up and get it all set up.  I got set up, but then I needed to make something involving apples for our head chef. 

Since we are down a person he's having to pick up the slack and do all that cooking in addition to his regular duties.  He's being pulled in 87 different directions at once and wasn't able to give me the exact instructions for what I was going to make.  It involved puff pastry, apples and sugar and cinnamon.  He tells me to layer it and it should be squares.  I have exactly 7 minutes before I have to be out on the floor so I lay out the pastry, lay out some apple slices with sugar and cinnamon and put another sheet on top, do that again and think I'll use a pizza cutter to cut it into squares after it's cooked.  Chef walks over, sighs angrily and tosses all the stuff off.  Then he walks off.  I now have no idea what to do. 

I go around the corner to where my manager is and say "I'm ready to call it a day!" 

He said "Well, you can't."

I says "I know.  I'm just venting.  I don't know what chef wants me to make.  He just ripped it up and I don't know if Dave is up front.  Should I go up front or should I go back to chef and figure out how to make this thing he wants?"

My boss tells me to take a breath and go make pizzas.

Once I'm out front and serving, I'm fine.  Dave and I get 130 custom pizzas out in 2 1/2 hours.  I'm doing all the clean up and when I'm in the kitchen chef sees me.

"Hey, didn't you tell me you bake?" he asks.

"Yeah, why?"

He asks if I can ice a cake with whipped topping.  Sure I can do that.  Then we have an exchange that this cake is for an employee upstairs who wants writing on it.  Chef makes a face and makes comments that cause me to think that he's NOT going to write anything on it. 

He leaves to do something while I look around for something to put the cake on.  There aren't any cake boxes or platters so I put it on a small sheet pan.  The cake layers are cracked in the pan and one end is squished.  I know it's going to fall apart so I transfer them as carefully as I can. 

I can't find chef.  My boss comes by and I tell him that I can make the cake look good, quickly and explain how I'd do it.  I ask him to get chef to give me an approval since I need to be done in 20 minutes.  Nothing.  I can't find anyone.  I make a management decision and just do it.

Everyone who walks by looks at the cake and says "that looks great!"

Chef walks around the corner, makes a face and says "I have to write on it."   He also wants to transfer it to something else.  This means he's going to create a cake board out of a pizza box. 

I say that we can scrape the top, turn it onto the surface and reice it.  He's not sure about this idea. 

I get the cake transferred and he looks at it.  "Is this cracked?"

I tell him it was cracked in the pan and one end is crushed.  (He made the thing and has moved it 17 times in the last 2 days, I thought he'd noticed)

Then this comes:  "By the way, this is the president's cake."

It's a cake for the president of the company and you didn't tell me?  And you want me to frost it with whipped topping? 

He announces he can't use the cake, gets one out of the freezer and ices that with whipped topping.  I cleaned up my station asked if he needed any help and then left when he said no.

I'm in the car driving home yelling to myself that I've probably fucked my career before it even got started.

I'm hyperventilating at a stoplight when I think:  Okay.  Worst case scenario?  I get fired.  What then?  I go back to Starbucks.  

I am totally dreading going in tomorrow.

Amanda's helpful hint of the day:  Don't ice cakes with whipped topping if you want them to look really nice. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Today was a good day.

I've been at the new job for almost 3 months.  I've been doing well, as I've said.

Welp,  I went in yesterday to find they'd hired someone else to work with the Korean cuisine team.  I knew that one of my co-workers was transferring to another location and some shifting around was going to be happening, but it now looked like I was going to be going elsewhere.

I was finishing up my tasks for the day, getting ready to scrub down my prep table when the exiting co-worker asked me how early I could come in tomorrow. 

"Um, 7. Why?"

"Because you're going to be training with me tomorrow and Wednesday can be a heavy day.  I like to have a little extra time to get everything ready."


I was going to be taking over her station. 

It got back to our supervisors that she'd let the cat out of the bag and I talked with my manager and the executive chef.  I will indeed be taking over the station that serves sandwiches, salads and some desserts.  It's all cold food, except for Thursdays when we make personal pizzas.  Then it's a mad house with lines around the cafe.  I'll be responsible for set up, serving and breaking down.  I'll do a very small amount of menu planning. 

In addition to taking on more responsibility, I got a raise!

As an added positive, I got my phone fixed!

Today was a good day.  I'll be going in early tomorrow to start learning what I'll be doing.

Amanda's household tip of the day:  When you are going to clean your oven, use your vacuum to get the crumbs out.  Soooo much easier. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, which is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.
Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:
  • Believing that you're better than others
  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerating your achievements or talents
  • Expecting constant praise and admiration
  • Believing that you're special and acting accordingly
  • Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
  • Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
  • Taking advantage of others
  • Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
  • Being jealous of others
  • Believing that others are jealous of you
  • Trouble keeping healthy relationships
  • Setting unrealistic goals
  • Being easily hurt and rejected
  • Having a fragile self-esteem
  • Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional
Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it's not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don't value themselves more than they value others.
When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may have a sense of entitlement. And when you don't receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you may become very impatient or angry. You may insist on having "the best" of everything — the best car, athletic club, medical care or social circles, for instance.
But underneath all this behavior often lies a fragile self-esteem. You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have a sense of secret shame and humiliation. And in order to make yourself feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself appear better.


This diagnosis is somewhat controversial.  It's not sure what causes it, could be a combination of brain wiring and learned patterns or just a result of a person's experiences in life.

As I've talked about in the past, I have a big issue with jealousy.  It boils down to:  if people think well of THAT person, they must think less of ME.  Of course, my life is about me.  I think we're all in that position.  But, where do I go from here?  How do I change this behavior?

There are things I'm good at.  I'm good at my job.  I can be a good housekeeper when I decide to be.  I'm good at having ideas about stuff to go do that might be fun.  I'm good at cooking.

I do best when I have a checklist of things I can accomplish, something I can look at and say "There.  All completed.  I did it!  Whoo hoo!"

Growing up, when I entered writing contests in school, if I didn't get first place I considered it worthless.  Graduating from culinary school, I wasn't the ambassador for our class, that honor went to my good friend Karla.  I understand that she had more time to dedicate to spending extra time at school helping with events and the garden while I had a family I needed to give my family attention.

However, when graduation rolled around and she was wearing the cords that indicated she was graduating with honors, I actually had the thought "So, what the hell was the point of this?"  I had EXCELLED.  I mean EXCELLED, in my class.  When the year started there were 20 in my class.  7 of us completed the program.  There were financial issues with some of my classmates, one's mom got very sick and he had to go home to help care for her.  And I was at the top.

When I got back in touch to research the possibility of going back to do the pastry program, the recruiter said I was a stellar student and that's true.

The fact that I had completed my dream should have been enough.  Why wasn't it?  I came out of it with a wealth of information that allowed me to walk into my first kitchen job and know exactly what to do.

Growing up, I got a great deal of praise for my grades.  I'm smart, there was no reason why I shouldn't have done well in school.  But, BAD behavior got me a hell of a lot more attention.  I didn't consciously do it, but I know I got something out of it or I wouldn't have kept doing it.  Through a lot of soul searching I've unraveled that I'd run around asking for attention then do something big and dramatic to answer the existential question of existence.  Drama = existence.

My mom didn't have a great mom.  Her ability to parent was limited.  She didn't have a good mother role model, but she had excellent grandmother role models.  And she's a very good grandmother.  My mom did what she knew how to do.  We were all just dealing with what we had to work with.

My maternal grandmother was very generous with gifts.  I learned a lot of years after she died that she and my grandfather were the ones who paid our bills and paid my dad's tuition so he could get his master's degree from Claremont Graduate School.  This allowed him to make more money and have more opportunities in his career.  My mom and dad had a black friend who was accepted to Blunt Law School, the one at Berekely, but finances were limited.  My grandparents put him through law school,  in the sixties.

What my mom knew how to show that she cared was to give me things.  It's what she knew how to do.  Did this instill a sense of entitlement in me?  Yes.  But she was doing her best.

Yes, I'm insecure.  Where that comes from I'm not sure.  Maybe it's just me.

Now I'm sitting looking at a whole knot of stuff I didn't even know was there.  When I put effort into something am I doing it because I want to or so I can use that to show how much better I am at things?

Do I do stuff for other people because I take true joy in that or because I want people to do those things for me or so I can present the image of a woman who gives wonderful things to people?  

This has made me question the way I live my entire life.

I'm scared to death and I have no idea where to go from here.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Mortification and attempting to make amends

The Husband and I had a very difficult conversation last night.  He broke some confidences and told me some very, very hard truths about myself.  It wasn't exactly an enjoyable experience for me.

However,  some of my behavior was brought to my attention which I am now embarrassed and regretful about.

I'm taking this opportunity to apologize to anyone out there that I have hurt, offended, caused to make a face, etc.  If you're one of them, please please get in touch with me so I can try to make things better one on one.

I'm also taking this opportunity to bow out of anyone's life who would find keeping me in it uncomfortable.   It's breaking my heart, but it's my own fault and I need to deal with that.

I understand that I've probably burned some bridges and that kind of elemental destruction isn't something I can undo.

If anyone has anything that they feel the need to say to me, go ahead and say it.  I'm not saying that defensively, I'm saying it matter-of-factly.

No beauty or household tips today.  Things are a little intense right now.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The boniness of my family

I know everyone has stories about their family.  About craziness and issues with alcohol and bad behavior.

My family is certainly rampant with it.  My mother's maternal aunt was kooky crazy, you know, nuts but in an amusing and endearing way.  I've talked about Auntie Melba before.  I can remember sitting in our living room at some big, family gathering watching her smoke and ash into her cupped hand.  She drank some.  She really liked men and men liked her.  She'd been divorced from her husband for ages but I didn't know until I was somewhat older since he was around all the time.  She could grow any plant she wanted, including pot that her postman would pick over the fence.  She cross pollinated tomatoes by hand and when you drove her home she'd run in the house and bring out gifts of random stuff.

But, she was harmless and we all loved her. 

My mom's brother's kids were raised in an upper middle class home. They had horses, got cars for their birthdays and pretty much got whatever they wanted.  You'd think they'd be set up for a charmed life.

But, my cousin Tina, who is 7 years older than me, is crazy.  Like, certifiable crazy.  She's been off the radar for quite a long time.  She was living in Hawaii until her husband died suddenly about 5 years ago.  They were divorced and custody of her son was awarded to his father's family.  They were able to take him out of the state, to California, within a week.  This was very telling about Tina's ability to parent.

She had come back to California at some point and was talking to her father.  They'd had a breakdown in their relationship when Tina got involved with a therapist who'd convinced her she'd been molested by our grandfather.  As I've said in the past, I don't want to say it's not true.  But, it didn't happen to my mom or me or any of the other female grandkids.  The chances of it happening to her are very, very small. 

She had been diagnosed as schizophrenic at some point and doesn't medicate.  And, apparently, there were a lot of drugs involved in her life.  So, she was self medicating.

My uncle had gotten her a phone with unlimited talk and text so they could communicate. She drifted up to Washington state.  One day, my uncle tried to call her and got a man who said Tina had sold him the phone.

Anyway, my parents had just arrived home from a trip to Colorado when my mom got a call from her brother saying that he went out to get the paper that morning and found his daughter sleeping on the porch. 

From what can be pieced together, she had been on-the-street homeless somewhere in the recent past, eating at the Salvation Army.  She's now getting a small monthly check from her maternal grandmother's estate that she's been living on. But, that's going to run out soon.

She took the train down from Washington and ended up, literally, on her father's doorstep. 

She took a shower and did laundry.  Things dissolved at some point when her dad asked her about her plans and she went off on some yelling tangent about working on patents for an idea she had with her other grandfather. 

He gave her some money, booked her a hotel room and she's there now.  How long she'll be there is any one's guess. 

As a parent, I can't even begin to think about what that must be like.  She's insane, but not a danger to herself or others.  (My mom tells me in California, even that's not a reason for non-voluntary committal.  I guess the process has gotten quite complicated.)  She's not totally in control and probably using.  What do you do?  Let her stay?  She's going to be 50  in a few months.  Letting her stay would cause a huge amount of drama, stress and frustration.  I know he loves her, but what do you do?

She can't be helped or that would have happened a while ago. I don't know what kind of conversation happened, if she was offered help and turned it down or if it was even brought up.  She was close to home before, talking with her dad and took off.   What do you do? 

Honestly, that's what I keep coming back to.  What do you do?  She's an adult, but I know he's never stopped worrying.  My uncle has said he can't think about it or he'll go through his days on the edge of freaking out about what's happening to his daughter. 

I can remember being so jealous of Tina's water bed and her MG and her horses and the way they lived.  In a house with a view of the valley in east Orange County, surrounded by what appeared to be mansions to me.  She had tons of friends and seemed to be the most beautiful, tanned, well dressed person ever.  When I was allowed to go out with her and her friends, even just to walk up and down the hill where they lived, was a thrill. 

I'm not jealous now.  Now, me, little Mandy who thought she was this incredible creature, is worried.  I haven't seen her since I was pregnant with Zoe.  (I happened to be in town for my baby showers, tossed by my mom and my friend Stephanie, when our great-grandmother died.  She flew in from Maui for the service.)  She was still Tina.  Tanned, pretty.  She seemed in control of herself and we had a little conversation.  I remember she called me when I was pregnant to say congrats and tell me that lots of fish, the omega-3s, were good for the baby. 

Where will she go?  Who knows. Will she go try to see her son?  He's an adult now.  I can't imagine how he'd respond to her just showing up.

God, what a mess.  All I can do is worry. 

Amanda's household tip of the day:  You can make your own furniture polish from 1/4 cup of white vinegar and1/4 teaspoon of olive oil.  I like to add a strip of orange zest, letting it set for a day and then removing it.  Keep it in a spray bottle.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The haunted storage room at work. Well, not really

On Tuesday, I went into the dry storage room to get something and just as I walked in I heard this voice.

 It was whispery, thin, slow and, frankly, ghostly saying 'hhheeeeellllpppp'.

I froze in place and listened while thinking "What the hell was that?"

Then I heard it again "hhhhhheeeeeeeeellllp".

Maria, one of the cashiers walked in and I put my finger to my lips going 'Shhhhh!', like a crazy person.


"Did you hear that?"  I asked her.

"Yeah.  I did.  What is that?"

I stood there for another second, wondering if one of the maintenance guys was yelling it down one of the air vents. 


What the hell? 

We both started to walk around trying to track it down. 

Finally, we found one of our co-worker's phones on the shelf behind some dried beans.

It was his ringtone. 

"hhhhheeeeellllpp" in a whispery, thin, ghosty voice is his ringtone.

Scared the shit out of me for about 45 seconds. 

I made the mistake of telling him this and now whenever he's behind me at work he says "hhhheeelllllpppp".

Amanda's household hint of the day:  If you have a pan with baked on gunk all over it, put a sheet of fabric softener in it with water overnight.  Should soften it up.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

This made me feel better about something that happed earlier this year

We had to give one of our dogs away earlier this year.  You can read about the situation here.

Occasionally, I go to the website of the rescue group we surrendered him to, just to see if he'd found a new home.

For three months, he was still listed as 'available'.  However, the photos showed him in a home, which meant he was being fostered in a house with a family instead of in the shelter kennel.  The description of him stated that he was good with kids, but not so good with cats or other dogs.  They said he loved cuddles and tummy rubs, he knew how to sit and shake. 

Really, he was a pretty good dog on his own and we loved him to bits.  But, his aggressive behavior made it the right choice for us to help him find another home where he'd be happier.

Zoe was heartbroken when Gibson had to leave our home.  She cried at school the day I surrendered him.  She was in her orchestra class when she started to cry.  I emailed her teacher to let him know the situation at home.  He replied that he had been planning to get in touch with me about it.  I told him I was very grateful that he was looking out for my daughter, an extra pair of eyes to let me know if there was anything going on I may not know about.

Today, I decided to check and see if Gibson had found a home.  I did a search for available dogs.

He wasn't there.

This meant he'd been adopted!  The relief I felt was extraordinary. 

It was the right thing for us to do.  But I'm so, so glad he's found a new home where he is hopefully the only dog to be fussed over.

Amanda's household tip of the day:  You can make your own fabric refreshing spray by mixing water in a spray bottle with 2 tablespoons of fabric softener and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.  You'll want to shake this up before you use it. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

And here's how it all went

As I told all twelve of you who read this, I was anticipating cooking this week.  And cook I did.  I didn't cook anything particularly complicated, but it was Korean and it was the first time I'd be executing for the woman I'm assisting.

I'm a little unclear about what to call my position.  I've been calling myself a prep cook or a prep chef.  (Prep chef sounds slightly more impressive, so I tend to use that title. )  I clock in and then do what Miss P tells me to do. 

She's Korean, only a few years older than me and moved to Chicago from Korea when she was 22.  She's been cooking Korean for ages.  She's been with our company for 3 years, since her family moved to Austin.  She's told me she goes between work and home, so she hasn't seen much of the city.  But, her daughter is 22 and, being young, goes out on the town.  We have these conversations in broken English, but we communicate alright. 

Anyway, she and I get along fine because she tells me what to do and I do it.  She also has a tendency to mother me, telling me not to pick up heavy things. 

Generally, I stir things, cut things, set up service and whatever else she needs me to help out with.

Then came Thursday, and she needed me to cook.  One the menu were seafood patties.  These are a pancake, like a potato pancake, including a variety of minced seafoods.  Octopus, shrimp, mussels, clams and squid are mixed with Korean pancake mix and eggs.  Then they are fried on a big, flattop (the huge, flat, heated metal surface used to cook many eggs, pancakes, breaded fish or whatever at a time)  until they are crispy on the outside and cooked through.

She made the batter, showed me how to make the patties and then left me to it.  I've found myself very much wanting to show what I could do.  As I said before, I can cook.  I just needed the chance to show my stuff.  No, this wasn't a two day process sauce, but I could do this. 

Once we'd done the initial batch, I had to run to the bathroom. I think my bowel evacuated themselves out of fear of messing it all up.  Sorry, TMI.  Onwards!

So, I plop out thirty of these jobbies. By the time I'm done plopping down the last one, the first one is ready to flip.  I flip them, press them flat and then go back to the first one to give them a last flip to make sure the excess I squished out in pressing them flat is cooked.  They're all removed and placed on a big sheet pan lined with parchment to drain. 

Miss P came out to check on me, gave my cakes approval and I continued on.  As I'm working through my 4th batch of 30 my manager, the man who hired me comes out.

"Hey, Amanda."  he says.

"Heya."  says I.

"Just need to let you know.  You obviously bring a lot of talent to the table..."

(I'm going to interject here that I honestly thought he was giving me a positive before giving me a negative.)

"Miss P was hesitant about you taking the morning shift while Mr. J is on vacation because she had this stuff that needed to be cooked in the morning.  But, you are really proving yourself right now.  She's already come and talked to me about how well you're doing.  You're rocking this like the rock star ya are." 

I said, with great relief, "Thank you.  I really like working for her and I didn't want to let her down."

"Well, you haven't.  Good job."

And wasn't I just the happiest scallop?  As I cooked my patties I sang "Le Poisson" from The Little Mermaid.  I got them all done and went on to my next task.  

Whoo hoo!  Go me!

Yesterday, I made a rolled omelet, Korean style.  It's only eggs, salt and thinly sliced green onion spread very thin and then rolled.  We slice them and serve them as a side dish. 

When I went to culinary school, one of the my goals was to learn to make a proper French omelet.  These are cooked inside of 90 seconds, have NO color and NO texture.  The surface should be perfectly smooth, like baby skin.  I never did get the hang of it.  Mine always had a rougher texture then they should.

But, I got these omelets the right, light brown color and cooked through without being over done.

That afternoon, Miss P perked up about teaching me Korean food.  She leaned over while she and I were mixing beef with marinade and told me she was going to try and teach me Korean food. 

Next week, I go back to my normal schedule but we'll see if my duties change.

Meanwhile, I have to work on putting laundry away.  Again. Some more.

We'll see if anything interesting happens in the next few days.

Amanda's household tip of the day:  Use newspapers dipped in water to clean glass.  Use a dry newspaper sheet to dry.  Easy and cheap.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This could be interesting

My new job is going well.  This week coming up is going to be interesting.

I'm part of the team that creates the Korean lunch meal.  The woman who is the head chef is Korean.  The man who assists her with the cooking is Korean.  The woman who cooks the evening meal is Korean.  The man in his 80s that comes in to help with the dinner service is Korean.

I'm not Korean.

The man in his 80s is taking the week off this week.  I can't work from 12:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  The Husband doesn't get home until 9 p.m. and my kids can't be on their own from after school until 9.

So, I'm going to work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the man who usually helps with the cooking of the lunch meal is going to work 12:30 to 8:30.

This means I will be actually cooking.  I'm excited and worried all at the same time.

It's not like I can't cook.  I can cook like a mofo.  Some of you have been lucky enough to eat food I've cooked.

I've been to culinary school.  I've been instructed in the French techniques.  I was either 1st or 2nd in my class, it was between me and Karla and I don't know who finished on top.  We were the only females in our class too!  HA!

Our instructor had the reputation around campus as a bad-ass.  That's because she is a bad-ass.  She wrote all her own tests.  We had kitchen math on every test and quiz.  We were not allowed open book exams.  We had to have it in our heads.  She has high standards.

When we had our practical exams, like a lab exam where we demonstrated we could execute what we had learned, we had to turn in a timeline of what we were going to be doing first to last.  The time we were allowed for our practical exams was always less than the other classes and we always had more to complete.

Honestly, my class regularly congratulated ourselves that we were getting a better education than the other classes.    While we were doing out internships, we all shared that our instructor was in the back of our heads, giving us the guidelines she gave us in class.

This week, I'm going to be going back to the solid advice my instructor gave me during my time in culinary school.

1)  Mise! Mise! Mise!  (pronounced MEEZ)  This is short for mise en place, or everything in place. Get everything ready before you begin your task.  Don't waste your time and energy running around for the stuff you need.

2)  Don't stand there and watch your food cook.  There are some things that need babysitting, like risotto and omelets.  But most things can be left to it's own device while you do something else.  Don't wander too far away, but you can do more than one thing at a time.

3) Start with whatever will take the longest amount of time.

4) Listen to your food.  It will tell you when it's ready to move, be stirred or whatever else it needs.

This week is going to be a challenge for me.  I read an article a few weeks ago stating that standing in Superman position for 2 minutes can lift your self-esteem and energy level.  I may try that.

I really don't want to let down the woman I work for.  I like her a great deal and

This job is going great.  I love being in a kitchen.  The hours are good and I have my weekends off to do fun stuff.  Working over so much steam has cleared out my pores and my skin is looking very good.

What I want to do this week, is prove myself and my abilities to everyone.  I want to show that I CAN cook. I'm like Yan!  I can cook!

I'll keep y'all posted.

Amanda's household tip of the day:  Vinegar and baking soda down the drains monthly, followed by a kettle of boiling water, can keep them from becoming clogged.

Friday, September 12, 2014

You know those parenting moments when you think "This is harder than I thought it was going to be." ?

I had one of those difficult parenting moments yesterday.  Zoe, my 13 year old daughter, came home from middle school and told me they had a moment of silence in remembrance of those who died on September 11th, 2001. 

Then she asked me for an explanation. 

Explain it?  Explain it?  How the hell do I do that?

I settled for telling her the facts.   As she asked me questions, I looked things up as I needed to.  We found the definition of 'terrorist' and 'terrorism'.    I had to tell her that it wasn't the pilots who flew the planes into the buildings, it was the crazy people who took over the plane.  I had to tell her that the pilots were killed.  I told her about United flight 93.  We looked at pictures of the Pentagon and read about what happens there.

Youtube had many recordings of the news coverage.  We spent about 20 minutes watching videos from the Today Show, starting with the light stuff they were featuring that Tuesday morning.  A woman promoting her new television show.  An interview with a man who wrote a book about Howard Hughes. 

I'm very happy that Zoe didn't ask me 'Why?' because I just wouldn't have any answer other than "Because they were crazy.".

She told me that her science teacher told them about being at a daycare in the New York City area.  The teacher said there were children that wouldn't be picked up by their parents, as both parents worked in the World Trade Center. 

It was one of those conversations I didn't enjoy having with her.  I'd have much preferred she learned all this stuff in school at some point. 

But, she asked me.  And I told her. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  You don't have to wash your hair every day.  If you only need to shampoo a couple of times a week, go for it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Second week at the new job!

Welp, almost through my second week at the new job.  I'm getting to know the cast of characters and trying to get into the routine of what I'm expected to do. 

There are four other people on the team who create the Korean menu.  I'm the only non-Korean.  I'm the only one who doesn't speak Korean.  I have been taught how to say 'hello' in Korean, but that's all I've got!  One of the men I work with speaks four languages and has a daughter finishing up her doctorate at MIT.  One of the other women and I both have daughters around the same age, we joke around a lot.  There's an older Korean man, probably in his eighties, who is always cheerful.  The head chef for the Korean station is a Korean woman who is shorter than me and a real sweetie.  She tends to be motherly towards me, she'll put her arm around me or give me a side hug sometimes. 

I'm going to interject here that the executive chef, who runs the whole kitchen, is from Hawaii and has a wonderful, mellow vibe about him.  

I'm doing straight prep work.  I've been allowed to stir things while the chef seasons things.  I've blanched spinach and made rice in the rice cooker.  (I had to make a batch and it had to be tasted before I was allowed to make rice for service.)  Mostly, I help with the lunch service and I fill the rice bowls. 

We serve very authentic Korean meals.  The rice is served in small metal bowls and there is a very specific way they are supposed to be filled.  In the days I've been in my new gig, I've filled 1600 rice bowls and I still don't have the hang of it.  The bowl needs to be full, but not packed, with no space to be seen around the edges.  It should be lightly rounded on the top and there should be no rice on the outside of the bowl.  Then a lid is put on, which the rice should not touch.  When you lift off the lid, there should be no rice on the inside of the lid. 

And I have to do this as quickly as I can because the rice cools down, meaning we can't hold it at the hotter temperature, meaning it's cooler when we serve it, meaning the customers don't like it.  My short term goal in life right now is to get the hang of filling the rice bowls properly. 

So far, I arrive at work and receive instructions.  I'll cut green onions, put the side dishes into the serving trays and put them in the cooler at our counter, or whatever else the chef has for me to do.  Then I start to fill rice bowls.  I do this until it's time for the kitchen staff to have a quick meeting, then I have a ten minute break. 

When I get back I help set up for lunch service.  We serve lunch from eleven to one and we regularly serve 200 plates.  The menu is set with sides, an entree, rice and soup.  It's a big meal.  I try everything we serve.  I'm not a massive fan of radish kimchee, but I've liked almost everything.

After service, I close up the front counter then I have my lunch.  There is a very small fee taken from my paycheck that covers my meal every day.  This can be anything I want.  I have soup and cobb salad a lot.  Then I'll have a couple of cookies, because, you know, cookies. 

That brings me to 2 hours before the end of my shift and I'll chop onions, cut other vegetables, help the chef with whatever she's doing and then clean up my station before I head home. 

I'm still in my probationary period, but I haven't been pulled aside, sat down, spoken to or anything of that nature. 

I really want this to work out. Just keep chopping. Just keep chopping. Just keep chopping.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you have blemish prone skin, use hydrogen peroxide as a toner.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gonna discuss a number of things today

Hey there,

First, the death of Robin Williams saddened me.  I love stand up comedy and he was one of my favorites.  He could make me laugh until I cried.

When I learned that he had been struggling with depression and anxiety for years I said to The Husband, "No wonder he did drugs for so long."  I've suffered from depression myself.  If that had been coupled with a diagnosis of Parkinson's, I can't say I wouldn't take the same way out.  My heart breaks for his daughter, Zelda, who dropped out of social media due to the nasty messages she was getting.

Second, I completed my first full week at the new job.  I had one frustrating day where the language barrier really got in the way.  The day after that was much better and by Friday the Korean man who come in the afternoon, who could be anywhere between 70 and 112,  thanked me for my hard work.  I've eaten most of what's been served.  Some of the offerings I skipped, but I will try everything at some point.

Now, on to the contemplation of life I've been doing.  The question I've been asking myself is:  What kind of life do I want?  What kind of person do I want to be?

The word I keep returning to is:  clean.

I'd like to have a clean house, a clean approach to challenges, a clean way of living.

My friend Helen will now joke "Oh, do you want an authentic and toxic free life?"  referring to someone she and I knew years ago who essentially told me to fuck off when I sent her a friend request on Facebook.   The authentic toxic free thing was her last statement.  Helen now uses it as a joke to tell me that I could be the kind of person who holds grudges over something insignificant that happened 22 years ago, which in and of itself, is inauthentic and toxic.  I wrote about it in my book.

(Go buy my book!  It's only $1.99!  Red Lipstick and How It Saved My Life: My journal from the year I was crazy)


Living clean is going to take effort on my part.  Finding small ways to start and doing just that is the path to take.  Telling myself I'm going to start a whole, new way of life starting right NOW is only setting myself up for failure.

I'm going to start with drinking water and doing the dishes.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  My friend Jone sells a line of skin care that had yielded dramatic results for a lot of people.  Get in touch with her via Facebook here:  Hi Jone!

Friday, August 8, 2014

My new, favorite, guilty pleasure

When The Husband and I went to the 80's sing-a-long dance party at the Alamo Drafthouse for my birthday we were enjoying the pre-show entertainment up on the big screen when what appeared to be a home video popped up.  It was an older, blond woman talking about a show called "Stairway to Stardom" and giving information on how to contact them so you could appear!  She was wearing a shiny, purple t-shirt with iron on lettering so I was guessing it was the 1980s when this was happening.

Then, they played a couple of clips.  I was hooked!  I went home, looked the show up and they have a YouTube channel!  Stairway to Stardom was a public access show in New York City that aired from 1979 to the early 1990s.  The general public was invited to book themselves on the show.  The results were, well, about what you would expect.  Somewhat like The Gong Show only without the gong, without the nice set and with a host that tells everyone they were fantastic.  A Gong Show that had the goal of building up the self-confidence of the performers. 

And a drummer in his 60s that had the expression of a man who just wants this all to be over on his face all the time.  If you decide to give these a whirl, keep an eye on this dude.  It's one of the greatest displays of non-verbal communication I've ever seen and what he's saying is "Kill me please."

This is my new favorite time waster.  I watch the stars of tomorrow today and play Facebook games because I like to live on the edge.

Check it out here! 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Walking in the sand is a great way to get soft feetsies. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

And a new chapter starts for our heroine day after tomorrow

Tomorrow, I'm hanging up my green apron for the last time.  I've been with Starbucks for 14 months and it's been ideal up until now.

When I applied, The Husband and I were in the thick of our difficulties and, as things stood, I was going to need to get my own health insurance.  The store was within walking distance of the house, the hours would allow me to pick the kids up from school and benefits were offered at 20 hours a week.

It was ideal at the time.  The company has been very good to me and it's been a great job for me.  I like my co-workers.  I like our regulars.  I've been able to interact with people and use my skills in customer service.

I'm going to miss my co-workers and my regulars.  I've been saying goodbye to our regulars and I'm now friends with some on Facebook.  (What on this great, green earth would I do without Facebook?)  Many have told me they're proud of me and all have said they'll miss me.

I've spent 2 days in my new position, going in on my days off from slinging coffee.  My superiors know exactly how much experience I have.  They're aware that this is my first position in a commercial kitchen.  However, I know my way around one.  I know what terms mean and I know about all the equipment.  I have my food handler's permit, which means I took a class about all the ways food can kill you. As a matter of face, my first 10 days of culinary school were dedicated to the ways food can kill you.

I don't get to cook anything yet.  I'm doing straight prep work and helping serve at lunch.  The Korean station accounts for 20% of the cafe's revenue.  Inside of 2 hours, we serve over 200 people.  The line stretches past our counter, in front of the cases of bottled drinks and around the corner.  I keep my head down and fill one bowl of soup at a time.  One at a time. One at a time. 

One of the things I'm doing is taking some feedback I got from my manager at Starbucks and applying it.  She pointed out that I need to trust that I know what I'm doing and not ask questions when I already know the answers.  I'm also acting proactively.  During service, if I see we need a new tray of anything, I get it.  If we need more rice bowls, I get them.  When I get to the last stack of soup bowls, I say I need more. 

I'm getting used to the people I'm working for, learning what their personalities are and  what their style of feedback is going to be like.

I already know that I'll need to work on my speed in everything I do.   My direct supervisor and the executive chef are checking on me regularly, asking if I'm comfortable and if I have any questions.  

The sheer physical strength I'll be developing is somewhat worrisome, but that will get easier as time goes on.  I'm already building up the muscles right underneath my shoulder blades.  Although I've dropped 3 pounds in the last month, I'm taking a break from the diet thing while I get settled into my new routine and figure out how hungry I'll be. 

I'm excited to start full time, looking forward to what I'm going to learn and, I'll freely admit, my income increasing.

I have an idea of how I'd like my new morning routine to go.  I'll try it out on Friday and see how it works.

Stay tuned!  Updates at events warrant!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: There is nothing you can put on your hair to repair split ends.  You're going to have to just get them snipped off.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My mom went all motivational speaker on my ass

My mom reads all my blog posts and will call me to talk about them.  After my last post, she gave me a jingle.

She gave me a pep talk via questions.  It went something like this:

"So, looks like you're feeling insecure about how you'll do in this new job.  yes."

"yeah, I am..."

"Well, Amanda, you were what?  Eighteen when you started selling new homes?  Then you were the youngest sales associate Lewis Homes had ever had.  You were sales associate of the year and you got nominated for a Laurel Award.  Remember that?"

"Yeah. ...."

"Then you went to Illinois and worked at the department store, got promoted and were one of the employees of the month.  You went to Barnes and Noble, did well there.  You were, what?, second in your class in culinary school?   You're doing very well where you are now.  I'm not exactly sure what you're so worried about."

"I had that real hard crash and burn when I took that baking job.  It's got my head messed up."

"Honey, I think you come by pessimism honestly.  Your Uncle Carl will tell you all the ways he's no good at being a human being.  But if you are basing your downward outlook on the fact that you were hired for a job you weren't qualified for, then asked to do the job of two people for a guy who was a jerk you need to just get over that."

Then we went on to talk about the kids and some other stuff.

Thanks mom.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you only break out during humid weather, add a drying agent like an acne cream only during the summer months. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I gotta try and change how I'm thinking about this.

Warning:  This is a motivational speech to myself that you might find saccharine, just letting you know. 

As I said earlier, I've gotten a great new job.  A set schedule with weekends off, paid holidays, more money per hour and more hours per week.  I'm going to almost double my income and that's just starting out.   I'm working with the Korean cuisine team.  The rest of the team is Korean and I'm excited to watch them cook.  Had you asked me to look at a list of available stations and asked me to choose the one that would be the biggest challenge, I'd have selected this one.  The executive is from Hawaii and has this very mellow, happy aura about him. 

When I told my mom about it she said "See?  The world doesn't always shit on your head."   

Yeah, I tend to be pessimistic when it comes to myself and my abilities.  It made me realize that I haven't been thinking "How am I going to rock this?"  I've been thinking "How am I going to fuck this up?"

Oh, wow.  Well, this is not cool.  My self-esteem issues are somewhat more serious than I thought.

I'm one of those people who succeeds with success.  Yeah, that thing.  I shudder when I say things like that.  Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, Vince Lombardi, Norman Vincent Peale stuff that feels insincere when you hear it but resonates later. 

The point being, I do well when I receive positive feedback.   I can take correction just fine, I don't have a problem with that.  The thing I need to learn is to give myself props.

My first day seemed to go well.  I'm going to need to work on my speed, but that's a given in any new situation.  I wasn't given anything beyond my ability.  I was able to work on auto-pilot.  The Korean chef I'm working with is very motherly.  When she came to check my work she patted my back.  I've already gotten the theme of her feedback.  If I need to do something different she'll tell me.  If I'm doing an acceptable job, she won't say anything.  If I'm doing well, she says "Good."

My big challenge is going to be keeping myself from telling myself I'm going to fail at this, that I'm going to sabotage this somehow. Or that I'm not going to live up to the expectations my supervisors have of me.

I may have to try and get over my aversion to self-motivation, positive thinking stuff and give it a try.
Man, nothing like uncovering a major emotional issue in the face of a great opportunity.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Don't use a toothbrush to exfoliate your face, although some people recommend it, it's entirely too harsh. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Making a change, one that should be for the better

Okay, by the time my boss is on Facebook, she'll know what's happening.

I gave my notice at Starbucks yesterday.  I've secured a position at the restaurant inside the Samsung campus here in Austin.  It's more hours, $1.75 more per hour, 8-4 Monday through Friday and it's in a kitchen.  A real kitchen.  Where I will get to work with food.  Where I will be applying what I learned at the Escoffier.  I won't be working directly for Samsung, but for the company that is contracted to do the catering. 

The Banging Barista is becoming the Cookin' cook.

I'm going to be learning to cook Korean.  I'll be assisting a Korean woman who makes authentic Korean food, which makes sense as Samsung is a Korean company. This is really exciting for me.  And, as The Husband was stationed in Korea for 3 years and learned he really liked the food, he's excited too. 

The trick now, is to make sure I don't freak myself out.  I keep flashing back to the crash and burn I had 2 years ago when I attempted to be a baker at a supermarket.  I loathe excuses, but I don't really have excuses for that, I have reasons.  The department was three people short.  I was given training doing the assistant baking job, which I was doing well, but was tossed in to doing the lead baker's job.  I didn't know how to do that.   The kitchen was filthy, I wasn't given a tour of it, shown how to work the dishwasher or where to find the supplies I needed.  The manager didn't shadow me to make sure I was doing things correctly, he just let me lose and then yelled when I didn't get things right.  I wasn't exactly set up for success.

My tendency is to remind myself of all this and tell myself to expect I'll crash and burn again.  The difference?  The executive chef and director of food service know exactly how much experience I have.  They know I'm coming in as a newbie, but I want to learn.   One of my strengths is that I learn quickly.  The kitchen is sparkling clean and organized. 

And I love food.  I love to work with food.  I love to learn about food.

I'm very excited about this.  This week:  Practicing my knife skills.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  You can save money on haircuts by getting them at your local school of cosmetology. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

I look like I just ate a lemon. Our heroine continues to question why she insists on emotional self harm.

Allow me to explain.  First, I want to get out of the way that I LIKE lemons.  Lemons make me happy.  But, when I eat one all on it's own it causes me to make a face.  A friend of mine in high school would bring a lemon and a salt shaker in his lunch.  He'd salt the lemon and bite into it while I looked on in horror.

Anyway,  I look like I sucked on a lemon because I had an issue pop up again in the last couple of weeks that I've been dealing with for years.  I haven't cracked this nut yet.  It's starting to make me crazy. 

I tend to hoard jealousy and resentment.  I know that being jealous and resentful is like shitting in my own pants. The only one it makes uncomfortable is me. 

I know where it comes from.  It comes from me seeing good things happen to people I don't like.  I find them to an odious human being so why the fuck do all these blessings rain from the sky on them? 

I know it's because I had my birthday this week.  I was so disappointed on my birthday for so long that I just stopped celebrating for six years.  I was sick of getting my feelings hurt so I 100% removed any expectations I might have for almost a decade I had to treat it just like any other day or I'd end up in tears

I don't get birthday gifts on my birthday.  I haven't gotten an actual gift on my birthday in years.  I'll get a check in the mail from my in-laws, which I love to get because it means I have money to 100% squander. 

I lifted my ban and tried to make my own celebrations to great failure. I try to toss myself parties and no one shows up.  I get a lot of 'I don't know maybe'. 

People wish me happy birthday on Facebook and I feel like the cat's meow until I see how one of these odious people got over 200 wishes on their birthday and they gush about the presents they got, how humbling it is.  I want to scream "YOU POSTED A LINK TO YOUR AMAZON WISHLIST ALONG WITH YOUR PAYPAL ADDRESS!!".  I could post a link to my Amazon wishlist with my paypal address and I wouldn't get anything because that's the way my life rolls. That's why I don't do it. And I tell myself "It's because nobody likes you. Get over it.  Embrace the bitch because it's what you are! Jesus, it's about time you figured out that you have 3 friends." 

Then I emotionally shit my pants and refuse to get in the shower. Why the hell do I respond this way?  The only one that gets upset is me. 

This year, it's all compounded by the fact that I am currently in the Austin airport waiting to board a flight Home.  I refer to Upland, California as the capital aitch home.  I'm heading west because my dad's dad, my last surviving grandfather (I was born with two grandfather's and one great-grandfather.) who will be 98 in October, isn't doing well.  He could still rally and make it to 125, becoming the world's oldest, recorded, living person.  But, he's doing poorly enough that my parents called to say if I wanted to come see him I should come sooner than later. 

This is the third trip in a row I've taken Home that involved a grandparent dying.  I went to see my Grandpa Grant 8 months before he died and then went back for the funeral.  Now, I'm off to see my Grandpa Art for, I'll be brutally honest here, a last look at him. 

I'm really scared.  I don't know how he'll be.  I don't know if he'll have any energy.  I don't know any of that stuff. He could be fine and dandy and we'll have a great visit.  He could be depressed and out of it.  And I'm scared.  I intellectually understand that he's had an enormously good run and is probably ready to let go.  But I also don't want to deal with how it will make me feel when he's not here anymore. 

My kids are in San Diego with my parents.  I won't see them while I'm in the same state, they don't come home until the 22nd and I miss them.  Some fuck up with our health insurance company left us with a huge financial issue this month that will easily take 60 to 90 days to resolve.  Right after the kids get home The Husband leaves for a con in Pittsburg and will be gone for our wedding anniversary.  All the time off I'm taking means I'm not bringing in any money and that doesn't help any.  No, I don't make a ton, but it does make things a little more comfortable in our house. 

I'm ready to burst into tears at Gate 8 of Austin-Bergstrom airport waiting for my flight to board dealing with all of this.   

And I didn't pack a handkerchief.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Giving it a shot

As I said previously, at my last check up I was advised to lose 40 pounds.  I did start eating healthier while I contemplated this undertaking.

I have a whole lot of issues wrapped up with my weight and body image.  They go back pretty far, into my early teens for sure.  I have spent a great deal of my time beating myself up for being an undisciplined, fat slob.  I'll admit that I look at women who are anorexic and envy their discipline.  How fucked up is that?

But, when I think I'd like to change my bod, I beat myself up for buying into the message the media has shoved down my throat.  I tell myself that I can be healthy and pudgy!  I don't have to conform to the rules!

Now, I'm looking at a high-ish cholesterol level and I have no cardio endurance to speak of.  I really don't relate to people who talk about how running is a spiritual as well as physical exercise.  I've always seen exercise as something to do to burn calories in order to lose weight.

Here I am, stuck between a rock and a hard place.

But, I decided to give it a shot.  I joined a neighborhood weight loss contest.  Everyone participating chips in 10 dollars and the person who loses the highest percentage gets the pot.  This month it's $180. I don't know about you, but I think that's a lot of money.

The kids are on the west coast visiting my parents for 2 weeks.  I'm taking a bunch of days off for my birthday and to go visit my Grandpa Art in California.  I've been able to take the dogs for walks and hikes on my own.  I end up walking more than I intend to on these excursions.  I've averaged 70 minutes a day so far.

While we were in Dallas for my cousins wedding we had regular television in the hotel room.  I caught about 45 seconds of an infomercial for something called The 21 Day Fix. I did some web searches and was able to get the gist of the program.  Calories are kept between 1400 and 1750 for a person of my weight combined with 30 minutes of daily exercise.  If you buy the package, you get a set of containers to measure out your portions and are given a number of servings of each category per day.  Vegetables have the most servings, fats the least and a moderate amount of lean proteins.  It's pretty easy.  I have a little notebook where I'm keeping a food diary.  I'm making sure I eat all my calories, since I know too few can be an issue.

I have swings between being proud of myself and extreme self loathing.

But, my waist is down about 1/2 an inch.  This means it's working.  *sigh*  Onwards we go.  Come on pooches! Let's go hiking!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Keep your spray perfume in the fridge.  It will feel wonderful on the back of your neck.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

That wasn't how I expected that to go

I've gotten into the habit of taking our two doggies to an off-leash hiking trail nearby.  The trails follow a creek where the dogs can wade around and, most importantly, run their tails off.  They do much better when they are able to get their vigorous exercise.

Today, the kids didn't want to go with me.  Each one went to a friend's house, I loaded up the two furry friends and we were off.

Since I didn't have the kids with me, we took a more meandering route.  The trail was damp from the heavy rain we had yesterday and the creek levels were somewhat higher.  At one point, we crossed the creek and I got my shoes wet.  "Oh well."  I thought, and squished along.  The place where we crossed had a steep bank, but there were places where there was dirt packed into the spaces between tree roots that I could use as steps. 

The dogs and I spend about 40 minutes tromping around, splashing and watching for wildlife when I noticed that there were clouds rolling in.  For the last week, we've had bursts of rain followed by hot and humid weather.  I felt a cool breeze and figured we might get a sprinkle.  I thought it was time to turn back and head for the car.

As soon as I turned, thunder rumbled.  Peavey hates thunder.  He whimpered and looked at me with a worried expression on his face.  I called for the dogs to follow and started walking briskly in the direction we needed to go.

Five minutes later, when we got to the creek crossing, it was sprinkling.  I just waded across, trying to save time, and found I couldn't get a foothold on the bottom of the bank.  It was too muddy.  My feet just slipped.  It took me five full minutes to finally find a place where I could get a tiny toehold and grab a tree root to haul myself up that first couple of feet.  Then I was able to go from tree to tree.  My feet went out from under me once but I had a good hold on a tree trunk. 

I got my bod up to where we needed to be and continued on.  Then the rain got heavier.  I took an empty dog poo bag and put my phone in it.  Just as I put it back in my pocket it started to pour. 

The dogs were looking back at me, trying to shake themselves dry but seemed to be okay as long as we kept moving. The more it rained, the muddier the trail became. I had mud stuck all over the bottoms of my shoes, making me slip and slide around. 

This wasn't a Bear Grylls situation, but I was worried I was going to fall down.  I went carefully, but was still trying to go as fast as I could.  And it kept pouring. 

Squish squish, splash, stomp, scrape, whoa, goddammit!

That's what it sounded like as I was trying to get back to the car.  It took me 20 minutes to get us back to the car.  All three of us were dripping wet and had muddy feet.  I'd stayed upright and avoided injury.

We went home where I took off my wet socks and got into some dry clothes.  The dogs gave themselves a shake and settled down for naps.

The good side, I got in over an hour of exercise today.  My legs are complaining but I'm sure I'll sleep well tonight.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Use tea tree oil on your mosquito bites to keep the itching down. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This makes me clutch my head

Last month, I was outraged, along with many other people, that a 3 year old girl who had been mauled by her grandfather's pit bulls was asked to leave a KFC because her face was disturbing other customers.  

I had a huge opinion about it.  I've worked in retail, I currently work at what is, essentially, upscale fast food.  I opined that someone behind the counter was approached by another customer and then went over to say to the grandma and the little girl with the eye patch that they needed to leave.  The grandma got media attention and her gofundme received over $135,000 in donations.  KFC acted swiftly and donated $30,000 to the little girl's medical expenses.

And that's another issue.  This child had her jaw broken, top and bottom, by the dogs.  She's on a feeding tube.  She CAN'T swallow.  But, her insurance company is refusing to pay for any costs attached to her tube or formula.  So says her grandma.  Money is very much needed because the insurance company (I hate medical insurance companies.  But, that's another blog) won't take care of this little girl.

This week, it's been reported that it was a hoax.  The grandma and little girl weren't even in the restaurant. read about it here

Now, there's the big tug-of-war going on in my heart. Even with insurance coverage, the co-pays and prescription costs have to be huge.  The patient share of the hospital bill is probably crippling.  The family probably needs a little assist.  That's understandable.

But, the people who gave with generosity and caring and love for a small child who wasn't kept safe by her family feel like they've been duped.  They're now questioning if the grandma is telling the truth about why they need the money.  Maybe she needs it for living expenses, or medication, or any of the other costs involved with caring for a child that needs extensive treatment.  A plastic surgeon in Las Vegas offered his services for free.  It's something the 3 year old needs.  Will he withdraw that offer because her grandma lied?  Will he then say that it's not the granddaughter's fault that her grandma lied and she shouldn't be denied care that will benefit her?  Because it's not her fault.

The fact that the incident didn't happen makes everyone question where the money is going.  Is it really going to her care or is the grandma going to buy a car?  If she is arrested, who will take care of this child?  Will she go into foster care?  Will she live in a hospital?  What will happen to her?

It's not the child's fault that her grandma did a bad thing for a good reason.

What's going to happen to her?  That's all I can think.

*sigh*  I'm clutching my head.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  In the summer, if you are doing a lot of swimming, remember to deep condition your hair and lotion up your skin. Chlorine will dry everything out.  And don't forget your sunscreen!