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.