Month: August 2014

Chocolate Driven De-evolution

I know my college days are past and I’m supposed to be maturing in my habits, but this living alone isn’t terribly encouraging to that. My mother recently bemoaned not having made her bed for a day (possibly even two!) and began singing to herself to block me out when I sympathized by revealing how lax I’ve been in that department for the past three months. For the first time in my life, I’m drinking out of the milk carton (hey, I buy the cute little half-gallons now and am less afraid of dropping them on my head during the procedure), eating 50% of my meals sitting on my bed, and experimenting with the cooking powers of an electric kettle. Using a bowl and plate together with multiple applications of freshly boiled water, I have determined that I can cook nearly any type of pasta without leaving my hermit hole.

Yesterday, however, I sank to a new low. Last week, I purchased the necessary ingredients for baking brownies, feeling that I might have need of therapeutic baking in the near future. Yesterday, I took advantage of my foresight and used baking therapy to create a batch of brownies to be used as chocolate therapy. It was a very calming experience, it’s true, and I washed all my mixing bowl and wooden spoon immediately afterward in an extremely mature and prompt manner. We won’t discuss how many times I licked my fingers during that process, since that’s irrelevant, really. I condensed the 9×13 pan worth of batter into a single 9″ cake round, since that was the closest baking dish I had handy, and when it was finished baking, I …. well, I took a fork and ate them straight from the pan.

I don’t want to mislead you, I’ve eaten brownies from the pan before. When made at home, they will frequently sit out on the counter with a cookie spatula in the pan for quick and easy access. But there is still a pretense of civilized behavior, as we cut out a square of brownie and separate it from the remaining block of chocolate fudginess. Yesterday, I devolved past pretense. It was me, cross-legged on the bed, and the pan of chocolate in my lap. My first bites were dug directly out of the center of the pan and I didn’t stop until there was an Australia shaped hole. Looking back, I’m shocked to recall how far I fell – not even eating in a regular polygon shape.

But it gets worse still. Yesterday I wanted brownies for lunch, but I resisted, instead consuming an entire head of steamed broccoli before allowing myself to move on to the chocolate. This morning, upon awakening, even those inhibitions had dissolved and, still pajama’d, hair uncombed, bed unmade, I once more fell upon the brownies. I ate around the edges, I ate from the inside edges, there was no pattern or reason behind my attack.

Now you know the embarrassing tale of my chocolate-driven de-evolution. I am a living warning – the stuff is not safe. Each episode with this batch of brownies has taken me further down the dark hole of the etiquette-less. I look back and remember that I was reading Miss Manner’s Guide to Proper Behavior only a few short months ago and blush at how far I have fallen. And, like a dark cloud at the edge of my consciousness, is the remainder of the pan, sitting in my room, calling to me. Next time, I might not even remember to use the fork.

June, July, May, Cause Depression – Keep Ice Cream Medication At Hand

What does the end of July mean? It means August 1st. 4/7ths. 80 days spent in Wyoming and 59 days left in this rotation. It means that other seasonal people are starting to hunt for winter positions and various people at work are trying to talk me into returning next summer. Can I share the response that feels too blunt and prone to misunderstandings to give them? I don’t want to come back to Wyoming next summer, I don’t want to go back to Colorado next winter. Being away from home feels like one of those toxins that gradually builds up in your system, or the frogs in slowly heating water. You don’t really notice it until all at once it’s overwhelming (or, in the case of the frogs, you never notice and you’re dead). Last summer was hard in its own ways, like the weekend that I did get to visit home which involved twenty plus hours on busses full of strangers while suffering through a horrible head cold (I doubt anyone was thrilled to be sitting next to me and my bag full of handkerchiefs). When I signed on to this program over a year and a half ago, I didn’t expect it to lead to me sobbing through my bother’s wedding reception. Still, with the halfway mark in my rearview, I was hoping this summer would glide by.

Ever run across the notion that things get easier with time? This isn’t working that way. Sure, the logistics of it might be easier – I know better what’s happening when and who’s going to be doing it. The functions might be easier – if you asked me if last summer with no car and cafeteria food was better than this summer with car and kitchen, I’d say that yes, I prefer car and kitchen. But last summer I was only four months away from living at home. This summer I’m fourteen months away and that makes everything harder. Last summer I had one nephew to miss, this summer I have one nephew and two nieces who send me lots of photos that make me long to cuddle the chubbiness. My hug deficit is growing. I get to visit home for a few weeks after each rotation, but it is not enough to make up for five months of hug deprivation even with the high rate hug schedule my family allows me to use.

The drama this past week at work wasn’t helpful either. The surface issues are now resolved and the particular point of conflict shouldn’t arise again, but there is now one co-worker who I dread sharing shifts with. There’s a slight language barrier, but I still feel like she manipulates that and isn’t against lying to serve her own goals. This is not a comfortable sort of person to work alongside. My supervisors have assured me that they don’t hold me responsible for the conflict, but the stress of working past it feels like it’s falling on me as the ‘nice and conscientious one’. Sure, she may be holding a grudge and be resentful, but I’m always so pleasant to everyone, so can the drama just stop? So the conflict was dealt with, but the fallout is still to come and I’m rather dreading it. Lots of praying about finding the right blend of being pleasant, but not being bullied.

this is me not thinking about conflict

My favorite subject of homesickness having been thrashed out once again, the end of July has also brought some more tangible accomplishments. I spent most of my evenings this month working on a story for the NaNoWriMo Camp cabin that my sister asked me to join. 50,200 words written in a month and camp is now over. The story isn’t finished, but I won’t be working on it as frantically anymore. I don’t think there was more than one night in July when I went to sleep before midnight, since that was the time of my word count daily deadline. I’m happy to have reached the goal and encouraged by the fact that I stuck with it for the entire month, but it’s going to be a relief to my schedule to have it done. The midnight deadlines interfered with my goal of transitioning my schedule from an 11 a.m. – 3 a.m. day to a more common 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. type of day and between training runs and writing goals I haven’t gotten much done on my culinary program checklist.

On the other hand, I ran nearly 85 miles in July, up from 76 in June and 29 in May. It makes me happy to look back at all the training runs that I dug into and completed. I’ve only skipped one run, due to a combination of muscle fatigue, nausea, and stress that made running seem like a very poor plan. I think the once-a-week long run definitely makes the time pass more quickly. You run twelve miles one day and suddenly it’s Monday again and you have to run twelve point five. When my schedule is my (current) typical Sat – Wed workweek, Thurs/Fri weekend, Mondays pass the quickest of any day of the week. Two and a half hours of running in the morning, eight hours of work, and my humpday ends with me falling into bed and passing quickly into sleep’s oblivion. Saturday is the slowest passing, falling as it does on the last day before I can scroll my calendar down one more week. I’m also rested from my two days off and have no scheduled run that morning.

Last week mixed my schedule up a bit, with me volunteering to work a six day week, since one of the night shift cooks had to leave due to a family emergency. Then, this week, my days off were split apart, because of a 320+ person catering event at the club. If I were diagnosing, I would say that the longer work weeks have probably been contributing to my frustrations, although I feel silly saying so, because I worked six day weeks all of last summer and many people at work are putting in more hours than I. Next week’s schedule is not yet posted, but the Sous Chef is switching his nights off for visiting family, which can’t help but affect my schedule. So we’ll see. The month August may involve more self-pity and ice cream medication, or perhaps it will go smoothly and pleasantly (please). I have Trenchcoat Escapades: Mirror’s Poison, to look forward to in the latter half of the month, will probably hear where I’m being sent for the winter somewhere mid-month, get to check off the milestones of 5/8ths, 3/4s, and 7/9ths, and hope to complete a couple of fourteen mile runs.

July, June, May, done. Deep breath, don’t panic. August and September, home. And I force myself to enjoy the fact that the chefs and kitchens I’ve been with during this program all want me to come back and work for them again, while remembering that I am not in any way obliged to do so. August, September, home. And the last rotation beckons.