Thursday, December 22, 2011

Time Gone By

I just finished moving. I hate moving, but it was a good move. I really like my new place. When you move you pack and unpack a lot of things. You throw things out, and buy new things. You find things.
I am not one for talking over things past. I don’t get nostalgic for the good ol’ days. I found some things in the move. I found my class ring that my parents gave me from when I graduated high school. It was a good gift and meant a lot to me when it was given. Its still one of the most meaningful things I have ever been given. I also found my Senior Year book.
I haven’t looked at this thing in years. This sacrosanct tome of memories of things past has since infected my consciousness. The second I opened it the memories came flooding back. What hit me the hardest was the signatures and phrases people wrote to me. People that I knew well, and people that I hardly knew. People I loved and respected and people I quite frankly, people I didn’t.
My senior year was a tumultuous one. I had a lot of problems. I had a lot of anger. Towards the end I had a good time of it though. I have very good memory of times gaming with friends, nights spent with my lovely girlfriend, and contributions I made to my school.
It’s the memories that keep circling my mind. Fights I had, friends I made. The women I was with, and the women I regret never trying for. I struck me as odd that I have not kept in touch with anyone from those days. I am feeling a loss at the fact that these people. Yes I fell out of touch with them and never really tried to reestablish it. Yes I made that as a conscious choice in some of these cases as these people weren’t desirable friends. Those that I would have wanted to stay in touch with also didn’t try very hard to keep in touch with me.
Facebook has helped a little. I am ‘friends’ with some people that were in high school with me.
So to all those that may read this, and were my friends in that time I say this; Thank you. I have warm memories of you all and miss the good times we have had together. I remember holding my trumpet and cheering as we placed first at a key competition. I remember kissing a pretty girl behind the bleachers. I remember having my first drink in the auditorium during a concert. And yes, no need to ask, I remember you. Thank you for that. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A bit different

     I promised to write more so here. Something a bit different. The first few pages of a short story I am trying to write. I post it here in hope of useful (and constructive criticisms). Please leave any comments on my face book page under the link post. If I get good response ill start writing chapter 2.Its a little weird I think and more than a bit sci fi. I have a loose outline, but am not really sure where this is going beyond that.
     If you guys hate it, please tell me. I wont do it again.

     Chapter One Rude Awakenings

Oh my god my head hurts. What god? I feel like I should know. The light is harsh as I open my eyes. It turns my head ache into a blinding rage for a second while I adjust to it.
            “Son, can you hear me? Boy?” A gruff and authoritative voice barks at me. As my vision clears I see a man with a crisp square haircut and large unflattering glasses. He has decorations all over his blue uniform.
            “Yeah, I can hear you.” It’s like the sound of my voice is strange to me. Like I’ve never heard it before. My throat is raw and I croak the words out “Water.”
            The man in the glasses smiles, “Boy speaks English too, excellent. Now get him some water soldier.” I hear movement around me; smell the antiseptic in the air. I’m in an infirmary. I can’t lift my head. I feel the bite of leather in my forehead when I try. I’m strapped in.
            “Where am I?” I croak out.
            “I’m afraid son I can’t answer that. You’re going to have to answer my questions son. Now where…”
            “Why I am strapped down?” I cut the man in the glasses off mid sentence.
            “Son listen when I say, Your going to have to answer my question before I answer any o’ yours,” He pauses for dramatic effect, he’s good at this, “You get me son?”
            I sigh and nod as best I can, “Good. Now what’s your name?
            “I don’t know.”
            “Where do you come from?”
            “I don’t know.”
            “What do you remember?”
            “A splitting head ache and looking at your ugly face.” The angry and terse look fades slightly to a smile.
            “Well damn that’s disappointing. I am going to let you up now son. You need to promise that you ain’t going to cause any trouble. You get me?” I nod again and he leans over me and undoes straps holding my head wrists and ankles. I sit up. It was a mistake as my head swims and I almost puke.
            “It’s ok boy. You rest. We will talk later.”

                        *                                              *                                              *

            “I have been stuck in this damn medical room for three days,” I yelled at the sterile metal door. The whole room was made of the god damn stuff, “Let me the fuck out.” I pound against the door for a few minuets until I hear some one approach. The door flies open and there is the man with the glasses.
            “No need to curse boy,” whom ever is running this show send him, “Them boys Tregar and Mead are teaching you some bad habits now.” They think correctly that his fatherly and stern tone will make me behave. They are right, at least for now, “Now if you cause a minimum of trouble I can promise you a walk out side and even a few answers. You get me?” I nod again. He steps aside and holds his arm up. We walk down a hall way together in silence. We walk by a window. I catch my reflection and stop. Its like nothing I can explain, seeing yourself for the first time ever.
            “You alright boy?”
            “My memory only goes back three days sir,” I say, so stunned not realizing I called him what everyone else around him calls him, “I have never seen myself. Now I know why you call me boy, and son.”
            I was younger than I thought. Probably sixteen. Wavy brown hair and green eyes. Thin and lanky. The man in the glasses puts his hand on my shoulder and smiles sadly. I am not sure why, “Let’s go for some fresh air.” We walk down a hall and through a pair of double doors flanked by men with guns in blue uniforms. When the doors open the light blinds me.
            I have to shut my eyes tight and wait for my eyes to stop watering. I look out into the light and see the sun. You remember your first memory of the sun? I do, and no words I can speak or write can describe the feeling. I observe my surroundings. It’s a large fenced in compound. Four buildings and an airplane hanger. Men with dogs and the occasional armored car patrol the perimeter. There is a sharp salt tang in the air as I breathe. As we walk the man in the glasses clasps his hands behind his back.
            “Who are you?” I ask.
            “Miles Eddards, Chief Master Sergeant of the United States Air force.”
            “Why am I here,” I stop walking and look him in the eye as I await a response. He thinks for a second then starts walking again.
            “I can’t tell you that part son. I can tell you we here at this base perform scientific research for the US Military. One such piece of research led to you being here.”
            “But you won’t tell me how or why?” He shakes his head.

                        *                                              *                                              *

            It’s been three weeks. I am getting to know the base well. All except one building and the hanger. The Chief says I am not allowed to go in there. Today I am outside and five of the men, the only two names I know are Airman Basic Alex Tregar, and Airman First Class Billy Mead are going to teach me a game. Mead has become my friend. He eats dinner with me and brings me things to read. Through the magazines he gives me I learn a lot about the world on the other side of the fence. For instance, apparently Paris Hilton is very important out there, but for the life of me I can’t find out why.
            Now I’m sweating. The Airmen are showing me a game called three on three. Tregar and Mead are on my team. The game seems simple, throw a giant orange into a big basket, but it’s hard. Fun though. 
            “Come on boy,” Mead yells at me in a drawling accent, “you ain't made a jump shot all day. Now get it together.” The giant orange flies at my head and I catch it. Up I go and it rolls off my fingers.
            It spins in the air and of course goes way off target, “come on damn it!” I scream. The ball spins through the air and curves towards the hoop.
            “Nice shot boy,” Tregar says as the giant orange curves into the net, “Weird spin you put on it, but if it works.”
            “That’s game too gentlemen,” Mead says, “You three owe us a some beers and some pizza. And a soda for the boy.”

                        *                                              *                                              *

            Four weeks on base. Everyone is disappointed I still have no memory past waking up here. Today Mead is going to show me how to shot a gun. The Chief is going to come watch too. He seems very interested in this.
            “Alright,” Mead is talking to me as I try to focus on this stupid riffle, “Try again. Line up the sight like I showed ya. Deep breaths, hold it, and squeeze the trigger.” The riffle issues forth and the bullet ricochets with a high pitched whine and the squad, twelve men, all go diving as a joke, laughing. The beer can I am shooting at stays unfortunately unmoved.
            “Well a shooter your not boy,” Tregar laughs.
            “I’m a little sick of this boy stuff,” I said as I reloaded the riffle, “how bout you flyboys just give me a name?” Their was quite reflection for a long time as I messed with the riffle.
            “Kevin.” The Chief broke the silence with that name. The other men began to shift and look elsewhere uncomfortably.
            “I like it,” I said as the men dispersed. I snapped the riffle up and squeezed off a shot, missing. I lower the riffle, “Damn it.” As I snapped my head and turned, I hear the telltale ping of the can and turn back just in time to see it land and bounce.
            “Damn strange,” The Chief exclaimed.
            “Come on Kevin,” Mead said, “I’ll take ya back to your room.” We walked in silence until we came to my room.
            “How come when the Chief named me every one got quiet? I do something wrong Mead?”
            “Nah it ain’t you boy,” I cut him off with a rather mean look, “Kevin, I mean. Look……Our unit has been together for a while. We did some hairy shit in Afghanistan and Iraq. We were going into an expected missile site in Iraq. Our helicopter took fire and we crashed. Kevin was killed. It hurt the Chief in particular because Kevin was also Airman First Class Eddards. He was the Chief’s own boy. Saddest thing I ever heard have a boy die under his daddy’s own command.”
            “Oh,” was all I could say to that, “Mead why am I here?”
            “I can’t answer that Kevin.”
            “Can’t or wont?” I asked my tone full of accusation.
            “Both actually,” he responded a little hurt, “If I knew anything I am pretty sure I couldn’t tell you.”
“Goodnight Mead” He nodded and walked away, leaving me to think.

                        *                                              *                                              *

            Six weeks on base. Some ones making pop corn. I can hear it. Screaming. I snap out of a dead sleep. Not popcorn, gun shots. I jump out of bed. Barefoot and bare chest
I run out into the hallway. Tregar and Mead are running towards me. In full battle gear. Automatic riffles, scopes, flack jackets, a few grenades. Smoke issuing from the barrels. They fired them recently.
            “What’s going on guys?” Tregar reaches me first and kicks out, catches me square in the gut and floors me.
            “Sorry Kevin.”
            “What the hell are you doing Tregar?” Mead yells.
            “Orders Mead,” Tregar said taking out his sidearm and cocking it, “In the event the experiment goes south, we put the boy down.”  I can hear the trigger mechanism strain as Tregar pulls on it.
            “No!” Mead yells and lunges forward too late. Time slows as the trigger clicks and the bullet explodes from the barrel, Mead still yelling. My mind snaps back. I wait for the bite of the bullet and it never comes. A few seconds pass and it feels like an eternity. Silence except for the sounds of battle in the distance. I look up. The bullet hangs in air about a foot from me, spinning down its momentum.
            Another shot rings out, startling me and the hanging bullet falls to the floor. A second later Tregar follows it. Mead has a surprised look on his face. Which he shakes off.
            “Let’s go Kevin.” We run out into the open air, cool as it hits my bare skin. An explosion at the hanger draws my eye. A man comes out of the smoke behind a few soldiers whose faces I know, but whose names I can’t recall. The man in the smoke. Tall and muscular. Very thin too. Unusually so. Wearing a grey suit and a wide brimmed green hat, sporting two very large pistols. He levels them at the three fleeing men and fires three shots from each gun.
            The three men fall. A brief silence as the green hat turns my direction. I feel real, ball tightening fear for the first time ever. The wide brim hides the mans face, but I feel his eye searching me out. A gun shot barks out and The Chief runs out of the smoke behind the man in the green hat, know on the ground. The Chief looks around, sees me, and a look of relief fills his face. He starts to run my direction.
            Another gun shot and time slows again. My head fills with pain as I watch The Chief fall forward, his chest exploding outward. The man in the green hat is standing up and running at me full speed. I scream and lash out, that pain filling my head leaves me and the air almost blurs between me and that damn man in the green hat. As the blur hits him he flies backward about twenty feet, limp as a rag doll. The green hat falling nearby the motionless body.
            For a split second nothing happens except for the smoke from the hangar billowing into air. The man stirs and reaches for the hat.
            “Just run Kevin,” Mead says checking his riffles magazine, “run, down that road is Port Hueneme. Head south and you’ll get to Los Angeles. Remember Los Angeles from the magazines.”
            “Hollywood and Santa Monica yeah,” I said confused, “Why.”
            “You can be lost there, get it?” So I ran. I turned and ran. When I was a few hundred yards away I hid against a building. In the distance I heard the sound of an automatic riffle issue four times. Then two very slow, large, and deliberate gun shots. My resolve broke, and I ran. South, I have to get south. South was all I could think of, south. So I ran.                 

     Coming soon (we shall see) Chapter 2 Move West Down Ventura Boulevard

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thyme….Its on my side….

            Yes it is. Hello again. Sorry for the long delay but life has been busy. When last I wrote it was the eve of our restaurants’ opening. So let’s bring you up to date. The restaurant (Les Caves in Corvallis) hit the ground running. We have been such a success we can barley keep up. I have settled well into a position of head prep chef during the weekdays, and head line chef during the weekend brunches I help to run
            I really enjoy my job. I am doing some really high quality things, such as fresh lamb sausage and tender beef stews. Some of my ideas are even making it onto our regular menu. We had a very quite opening and still have been extremely busy. We are having our grand opening this Saturday (November 19th). So if you’re near by please come in and eat, we are pulling out all the stops and the food and beer should be top notch.
            The only draw back has been me living in Jefferson. Jefferson is a city roughly 30 miles from Corvallis (Corvallis being the city I work in). The commute has been horrendous. It has drained my bank account and wore my car down terribly. In addition my living situation has been somewhat less than stellar. I live with very nice people don’t get me wrong. They do for each other and are a family. They were gracious enough to open their home to me, even though they needed the money, and made me part of that family in a small way.
            The problem is they did that also for a whole other family. There is now so many people living in my house (not really mine but I do pay rent) that we have run out of rooms and beds, and people sleep on the living room couch and floor nightly. It is crowded and noisy and I can’t really handle it any more. I have decided to move back to Corvallis. I found a great (and clean and quite) duplex with a very nice woman and I move in December 16th (Any one want to help me move?).
            Tonight I give my notice at my current place of residence. I am not looking forward to this. As hellish as the living situation is they are still decent people who have sheltered me (albeit not for free) since March. Also the Matriarch of the family has had some bitter falling outs with other roommates that have given notice and I really hope that was them and not her, as I don’t want to have to go through that.
            My and Hotstuff are still together. We see each other weekly now (Usually Sunday to Tuesday I go up to her place). Our time together is fast becoming my favorite time of the week. I like her. A lot. We get along real well. She even wants to start going to SCA events with me come summer. Can’t wait to see her in a corset!
I asked a friend of mine, here we shall call him Angus, after meeting her what he thought. He replied with the, “She seems nice, and any woman who can take your shit and sling it right back, you should probably keep around a while.” That echoed my thoughts pretty well. Hotstuff is even coming down for the grand opening Saturday night and to go bar hopping. So if you want to go out and get completely pisssed with us, shoot me a text.  
            Things are good people. I am making good at work, and as of December 16th will make good at home. I am doing real well with my girlfriend (yeah it’s all but official she is my girlfriend) and even planning a trip back to Los Angeles in January. I am hoping she can get the time off to come with me. Hey if she meets my family and still likes me that’s big.
I also got talked to a friend of mine whom I have not heard from in a while. Here we will call her Sheet Cake. She moved out of the area some time ago. She was my best friend through college and it was very good to hear from her again. She is doing quite well and living happy where she is, which makes me happy for her. It made me miss the friendships I created in college (well most of them, at least one of them I am all but happy to be free of). I need to try to keep in contact more. That last year of college was not a good one for me. Depression, break ups, bad teachers, bad friends, all tried to do me in. I feel I only made it through because a few, Sheet Cake among them, grabbed my ass by the ears and pulled me through. Yeah, I need to reconnect with these people.
 I will try to write more. Till then;
Thought of the day: When was the last time you were truly excited to see or hear from some one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Something wicked this way comes.....

            So much for my vow to write more blogs, sorry folks. So another catching up blog seems called for. Well here goes, two things have dominated my life of late. My time off got very boring very quickly. I like to be busy after all. Before I started my new job, I got to go on another day with the wonderful Hotstuff. We took a trip out to Bagby Hot Springs.
            It was a wonderful trip. A long drive and great conversation, in which many stories were imagined (more on that on a future blog! Look for the story of Jake and Baum!). Once there a wonderful hike and lunch. A long romantic soak and large amounts of back rubbing and snuggling. After hiking back out we went on a quest for a camp site.
            We found a wonderful campsite on the banks of the Clackamas River. Setting up camp we shared a bottle of wine and ate well. Then it got cold so back in the tent we made love to the sounds of the night, and the flowing river. To say it was a good night is an understatement.
            The next day I started work. I proceeded to work for ten days straight. The first three days ended up being about a 37 hour week. The next seven was a seventy hour week. It was rough. The job itself is a new experience. A kitchen that operates, effectively and cleanly. A kitchen that encourages classical preparations and methods. A kitchen that allows fresh made sausages and pates.
            The job is challenging and has brought my cooking up to a whole new level. I have done complicated things before in kitchens. The difference here is a level of pride. I get to do something that I love so much, it makes me even want to do dishes well.
            I love a dying art you see, Charcuterie. It’s the art of sausage making. It’s the art of pate, pickles, and mousse. Of all the things I have done in cooking this branch I love the most, and have a lot of passion for it. Here, they let me do it. I get to make fresh sausages every week. I love it.
            My new job is challenging in a way that is good. It’s upping my game and my skill level. Even in two weeks of work I can see it. We had our soft opening earlier last week too. I got too use my short order grill skills and out of a day of service for eighty people I cook entrees for sixty. I did well.
            As I type this it’s the eve of our grand opening. We are not sure what to expect. I figure one of two things will happen. We are either going to be so busy we train wreck, cause lets face it you can only plan for so much; or we will be super slow. I don’t think there can be any middle ground here. I am once again slated to work short order and am actually hoping for busy so I can hit the ground running. I will keep you up to date on our grand opening.
            All in all my life has had the dramatic turn around I was desperately hoping and even praying for. I have had a wonderful woman come into my life. I have a wonderful and challenging job. Life is starting to turn good. If my life was a movie this would be the end of the first act, as you get to like the hero. All those who know story structure, know that the second act brings the conflict, the tragedy that befalls the hero one might say. I am apprehensive about the future, though hopeful. 
            I feel like something bad is coming but I really hope its not.My next Blog will be latter this week, I promise. Look for a long article featuring Hotstuff, and more work related news. As the Lando once said, 'here goes nothing.'

            Thought of the day; If your life was a movie, what genre would it be.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Between...

            Time has traveled on since my last post. I have been a man of leisure this few weeks. That’s code for unemployed bum. I have however found a job that I am very excited about. I am now a chef at the new Les Caves. It’s a fine dinning pub in Corvallis (opening soon) that is hoping to specialize in farm to table dishes. I am thrilled. I have actually cracked open my school notes again to brush up on finer French techniques.
            Since the end of the Cinnebarre debacle, and the start of my new job (which begins at the end of September) I have indulged in many activities. I have been dating. Their has been some interesting women met. A few crazies and a few hotties. A few, for lack of a better word, dumbasses, and a few very intelligent women. I have rarely had a second date in the last year let alone the last month. There is one, we shall call her Hotstuff. I have been on three dates with her. More on her latter.
I was invited camping with the Hacket clan. Wonderful people all. I spent four great days lounging and recharging with them, and engaging in some good ole fashioned debauchery. Let’s just say I love that my new job don’t pee test if you know what I mean. I furthered the knowledge of Tablero as well, the most fabulous drinking game EVAR. Mr. Hacket’s parents and family are fantastic people, and I am very grateful for the chance to spend such time with such wonderful people.
Their land on the coast is a beautiful series of grassy fields and creeks, and gardens. It was beautiful (And cool of temperature while the rest of Oregon BAKED). On the last night I took some friends crabbing, caught some delicious sea spiders, and we ate them. Hotstuff even came out after work and camped with us. It was a good time. After everyone went to bed we stayed up and made out under the stars and in front of the fire. It was a good night.
After leaving and returning to the sweltering Willamette Valley I have spent some time doing chores and relaxing around home. After a few days of that I set sail for the last SCA event of the year, Acorn War. It was good time. Drinking and debauchery for three days. Lots of Tablero, good people and fun. I participated in an archery tournament and lost horribly, but it was good to shoot again. A sun burn and a hang over (and I think a sprained ankle but not sure) and I am here writing this.
Talked to Hotstuff for the first time in a little while. We have a date next week that will comprise a hot spring hike and a nice camp out. Can’t wait. I must admit that I like her. I am really hoping for good things on this front. She is intelligent, a closet geek, funny, hot, and for some reason interested in me. Yeah go figure.
It’s been good so far. I am really looking forward to work. I seem to have run out of funds in an alarming way. I am reminded of my last month of college. Desperately out of funds as I scramble for tuition and rent. Selling just about everything I own for a key book and gas money. This time its just gas money and phone bill funds but it is an issue. I am in honor of that spirit, selling off a few extraneous things. Some old comics and a play station. Erg. That’s just about everything I own worth money.
The one thing I am selling that is still worth some cash is my trumpet. It actually makes me a little sad. I haven’t played it much over the last four months, due to living situation, but I always like playing it. It really is the one thing I have kept from the past that reminds me of everything from high school to relationships past. Damn. Selling that horn is a little akin to admitting defeat. Hate to do it but kind of have too.
Oh well. Other than that, I am in good health and good spirits. I am greatly anticipating my new job, and future time with Hotstuff.

Thought of the day; if you ran out of money tomorrow, what would you do?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Litany ...of Woes

             So the other day at work I was finally given the chance to work a station during a busy set. I was given the short order grill. The set turned out to be busier than we thought too. Between the hours of seven pm and eleven pm we served thirteen hundred people.
            The set started and suddenly I was looking at a hundred orders on screen (a screen that only displays about twenty at a time) and I froze. Like a deer in head lights I froze. Shit. I was searching in my mind for anyway to organize this chaos and found nothing. I desperately searched for anything to stop the chaos. Only one thing came to mind as I started to panic. My geekier friends will appreciate this. I heard this go off in the back of my mind.

            I will not fear.
            Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
            I will face my fear.
            Allow it to pass over me, and through me.
            And when fear has passed, I will turn my inner eye
            And only I will remain.

            I may have remembered it slightly wrong, but you get the idea. My boss, at the lead of the kitchen said, “Damon you all right?”
            “Yeah boss,” I said, “I got this.” I took a deep breath and went to town. My training kicked in, and I suddenly remembered, I was pretty good at short order. The best in my class point of fact. I rocked it. Hard.
            Over the course of Thirteen Hundred people, my average ticket time was seven minuets. They told me to slow down as our menu states ‘please wait thirty minuets for meals during busy times’. I was flooding the server window I was moving so fast. You ain’t ever seen a fat man move that fast. I would also like to point out that our most popular item takes an average of nine minuets to cook. It was for lack of a better word, fantastic. This is the stuff I love to do. Bear down and cook. For lots of people.
            Then the set was over, and I went to my usual job of cleaning and scrubbing. It was a late night. I was at work for sixteen hours. While I was still cooking, being told I was in charge of closing, the closing GM (general manager) came in. We shall call him Mr. Tool. For no particular reason. He was angry that there were so many dishes. He was angry when I told him that we would probably not get done till two am. It is the usual time to be finished, two am.
            He started sending all my workers home, so I would have to close by myself. So the time stretched on. About three am the words, “Come on man this isn’t brain surgery, you don’t have a whole lot to do,” was uttered. Yet he still sat down in his office and waited for me to be done. I wan not happy when he said, “Three am isn’t cool man. I have to open in six hours.” I felt it was very disrespectful, and you know how I react to that. 
            Still I let it go. Yet it happened again the next night, this time I was done at two am, but that wasn’t good enough for Mr. Tool. He also decided not to engage me directly and kept giving orders and asking for updates from my subordinate. I wasn’t happy, but I am the new guy so I let it go.
            I finally brought up to my direct boss, my feelings about how I am being utilized. He listened and said, “Ok we will get you cooking more and try you out on some opening shifts instead of closing.” I was very excited. Maybe I would finally get to cook more than a few hours in a shift. Maybe I would get to learn how the kitchen operates, not just clean. I went to get my schedule the next day with a bright new optimism.
            Turns out Mr. Tool likes it when I close. I am good at it and the kitchen cleaner than any one else. He is also the closing supervisor so the more he gets me to do the less he has to do. The more people he sends home, the more labor saved and the bigger his end of the month bonus. He also has schedule approval.
            I was looking at a schedule of all closing shifts. I was even looking at a night where I was specifically scheduled to close by my self. I tried to keep some help late but Mr. Tool sent him home anyway. Then he complained that I was moving too slow. I lost it and we got into a screaming match. I was yelling about respect and kitchen duties, and waste of talent. I believe the phrase, ‘I have a culinary degree asshole, I am not a janitor,” escaped my lips. Not my proudest moment. He was also screaming about respect and how much he deserved it as well as about what he says goes.
            I was fired. Turns out the asshole comment counts as insubordination. So now I sit out on my porch typing this, smoking my fourth cigarillo (a nasty habit I picked up recently, but it does relax me) thinking over some crucial things.
            I hated the job any way.
            But now I am Unemployed.
I easily have rent handled till October.  I even have fun money (Anyone want to      go to Vegas??)
But now I am unemployed.
That easily gives me a month to find new work and get my pay check.
Shit. I am unemployed.

All in all I think this is fine. I will be fine. I may end up sleeping in my car for a while, but I will be fine. I’ll start a job search on Monday. I will take a few days and recuperate, because I think I pulled my groin lifting hundred pound garbage cans because I was CLOSING BY MYSELF. Who knows what will happen next. I am a little scared, but maybe this will lead to good things. Updates to follow.

Thought of the day: Shit. I am now unemployed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Murphy's Law!

So I am trying very hard to integrate into Cinebarre culture. It is not a culture I would regularly fit into. Populated with mostly college students, or college dropouts, they are not foodies. They are rap blaring, trend following, younger, and clearly there for a paycheck. Me being the people person you all know I am, am trying very hard to connect and identify with the people I work with. It has been more than a challenge. I got a bump in this department when I realized that we share a common interest….. STARCRAFT ….The universal language it seems.
A few nights ago at work was D-Day. It was our busy night (we end up on average serving seven hundred people between seven and nine PM). Everything went wrong. It was unmitigated chaos. These are the times when you feel like a deer in head lights.
I need to ask you a question. What’s the one piece of equipment in the professional kitchen that you can’t do without? Take a second and think about it. Go on I shall wait……..Most people are going to say stove, oven, or walk in fridge. The closest you may get is the flat top short order grill. Truth is as long as you have a decently outfitted kitchen I can work around any one of those things being out of commission.
The one thing that you can’t work around is your hood system going down. It’s the vent and fire suppression system over your cooking line. With out it you have a kitchen that does nothing but build up intolerable amounts of heat, and lethal levels of carbon monoxide. This was the first thing to go down. So with a massive set looming we scrambled.
One problem faced is OLCC laws. OLCC equals Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Commission rules state that you cannot operate a bar without serving at least five substantial food items. Substantial means includes side dish and is a full meal. Us being a bar, not being able to cook means that you will not be able to serve drinks. So we are looking at a full shut down. What do we have to work with? A toaster oven and a microwave.
We managed to pull together five items (which included toasted grilled cheese, and BLTs, all with sides of popcorn because that machine was still working at the time). With everything being done on two machines a lot of set out cleaning. I did what I do best, support. I ran from station to station, getting things they needed, helping things get sorted out. I was cracking jokes and making people laugh and keeping things flowing. I fit in for the first time.
It was intense but we got it done. Then disaster struck again as the popcorn machine over heated and the glass shattered all over our line. As we approached the next set another shut down looming we thought of one more solution (which was not necessarily legal). You see a tech tells us that the vent is working, but the fresh air intake is what was down. So they sent waitresses to the store to buy great big fans. Then we executed the normal set.
There was just one problem. We sent home half our labor because we were sure the next set was out of the question. So I did it again. Ran my ass off supporting and instructing. It was good to fit in to the team. It was good to lead a team again. After that we rolled into a closing and scrubbed the kitchen down. It was a challenge and we triumphed. Maybe there is hope here at this job. I just have to get over the idea of a life and it could work. At least this massive chaos day lead into a day off.
So three and a half weeks into my new job I seem to be hitting two cross roads. The first, I have been keeping strict daily logs in my head and on my Iphone. It seems that my average shift length is about ten hours. Two of those hours, again on average, will be spent prepping. That includes things like making pizza dough, or chopping items for toppings or grinding meet for burgers (so much fun!). An hour and a half is spent cooking, working the line during the busy set to make food for people. Half an hour is spent on a lunch break, which oddly enough usually comes around hour two of my work day.
The rest of that time is spent cleaning the kitchen. Mopping, doing dishes, and scrubbing equipment. I understand the merits of a clean kitchen, but come on. Is there not some one else, supposedly not a supervisor making more money than the rest of the workers, that can do this job? I hate to sound pompous but I did not work so hard to earn a culinary degree, just so I cam do the work of a janitor (No offense to any janitors out there reading this. I think your job is worth while and important, it’s just not what I want to do).
So I am heavily leaning towards seeking new employment. I am torn though as I feel like jumping ship might be a mistake. However taking the damned job in the first place has proven disastrous.
I actually want to hear from you guys, so thought of the day. Make a comment on this one guys (and ladies!). Should I be worried they hired me to be a bitch boy? OR am I making to big a deal of this? Should I suck it up and keep mopping, or seek employment that might better utilize my (I think) considerable culinary skills?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catching up!!!

Sorry for the long time between posts folks. I had too much going on. So we can now catch up. I went to a pirate camping event at the end of July. It was called Sea Dog Nights. It was my one big get away during the two weeks I engineered off. Without getting too much into it much fun and epic amounts of debauchery was had. It was truly a good time. So broke and tired I get a few more days off before I start my new job; kitchen supervisor of the Cinebarre Theater, Bar, and Restaurant. 
It is a new experience. I am a classically trained chef, and this place does not fit that bill. I am one of three supervisors and there are as many as ten people under us. I also found out I am the first manager to be hired from the outside and not promoted from within at this location. So far most of my time has been spent cleaning and shutting down the place. I only work nights, and it seems the supervisors don’t ever get two days off in a row.
Those few times I have gotten to cook I have done well, despite the epic volume that moves through the place that I wasn’t trained for. On a Tuesday night we do between seven and nine hundred people. I like the work but a few problems have popped up. One I work nights and don’t get home till well into the morning hours. This means I spend my days a sleep, and by the time I get active all my peps (that’s slang for peoples or friends for my non hip hop inclined readers) are all asleep.
Second, I feel like I am spending all my time cleaning instead of leading people and cooking for people like I was trained. While it is necessary, I don’t want to be a janitor. I know it sounds a little pretentious but come on people. Most the people that read this blog have had my cooking and know how good it is. That’s what I want to do.
Third, burn out. I feel like with more than half my shift donated to heavy cleaning, (which is surprisingly hard work), and with the never getting multiple days off in a row I am going to burn out here quick. I am already two weeks in and tired all the time. I end up muscle sore and wet from dishes and scrubbing floors. I go home every night wondering if this was the right career move. Yeah the burn out factor is high here.
All in all I feel I could learn a lot from this place, and I am. I will stick it out but I am concerned. Mostly I see not having any kind of life here. I am still committed to a quest to find a significant other, and this job will not facilitate that what so ever. Plus it has always been my philosophy that what is the point of working hard if you can’t party hard too?
I’ll keep you up to date on what’s going on here as it will undoubtedly dominate my life for a while. I wish I had better news these days as I never intended for this blog to turn into a total Emo fest but here it is. Have fun folks. I will follow up real soon.

Thought of the evening; worst job you ever had?      

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time off and Teen Pregnancy

          In the wake of the Springhill Event, I have managed to gain two weeks off before starting my next job. What have I been doing you ask? A whole lot of nothing, that’s what. I have been playing video games, writing role playing adventures, and staying up late and sleeping in. I am very excited about my up coming camp out. It will be a glorious, drunken time, hopefully with a healthy amount of debauchery. With any luck a few blogs worth of fun on that.
            Over my time off I managed to catch a few episodes of a show called Teen Mother on MTV. This show is hosted by a great man by the name of Doctor Drew, also known as Drew Pinsky. Most of my friends will know him from the excellent radio show Loveline which he has hosted since I was in high school. It was a favorite of mine. The show Teen Mother was a good show. It dealt with hard issues that teen parents face today and I recommend it.
            It actually made me think over my sexual past and my first thought was how lucky I was to never have had dealt with teen pregnancy. That led me to the idea that, wait, no not lucky, diligent. I always used condoms with a few rare occurrences. That led to the thought, how did I know that? How did I know how to properly use condoms? I took a sex ed class like most kids. Though they focused on abstinence and they didn’t show us (unless my memory fails me, which is possible).
I actually remember a Loveline episode, in which Dr. Drew describes how to use one. I even remember an episode in which he addresses the pill being canceled out by certain antibiotics which saved me a close call or two latter in life. The man has been promoting sexual health and awareness since the early nineties. He has been a huge influence on my sexual identity, as well as my practices and habits. Habits I assure you are all healthy. Well, except that one.
I thought about how much different my experiences could have been had I not gathered the knowledge, comically delivered by Dr. Drew and his side kick, a man named Adam Carola. I can only see experiences that turn negative with out his controversial, blatant talk. I have followed this mans work but fell out with him when he started Celebrity Rehab. Yeah I know I hate reality TV too. It was real good to see him doing informative programming again that gives him a solid place in my memory.

Thought of the evening: What was a defining sexual moment for you? How did it shape future encounters?


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Boiling Point

The last few weeks have been a perpetual pot of bubbling stress. Everyone sees it in me. I am unfocused, slower to laugh, and in dire need of friends and fun. Luckily I have some good friends that rose to the call. They have kept me balanced.
The stress stems from the same three sources most all stress comes from. Work, Wealth, and Women.
Work; I recently received a promotion. It has been a rocky road. In the first week I was promoted with two other gentlemen who were my equal. In that first week the other two proved unmotivated or unskilled. They were both quickly demoted leaving me as the lone kitchen supervisor.
Then a third gentleman was promoted to take some pressure off of me. He proved completely unprepared for supervisory duty. He was quickly demoted. Again leaving me alone to run the kitchen. During this time, I have planned a new menu, spent hours costing it out and, wrote a ton of procedures so that my kitchen could function. Do you have any idea how complicated planning a menu is? Most people think it’s akin to slapping food onto a plate that happens to look and taste good. As the planner, I have to know exactly how much that plate costs to produce.
I will provide and example. A hamburger usually comes with cheese, three pickles, two tomato slices, lettuce, onion, a bun, and a side. I can tell you how much two tomato slices costs. Five cents. Now multiply that by the thirty odd dishes on the menu, you now know step one of creating a working menu. I did the whole process in three days, due to a bizarre and unreasonable deadline from my boss.
On top of this, a new hire, a man I hired I might add, has been a thorn in my side. See my last post for details on how he acts towards me. My boss and I had decided to let this man go. His attitude and dedication were less then stellar. My boss leaned on me hard. He wanted this man out of the kitchen. I argued that we could not loose the staff yet. We didn’t have enough people.
I take my first day off in two and a half weeks, and when I return, the man we were going to fire is now promoted and my equal. The stress mounts. The last week has been an unending torrent of hate, disrespect, and failure.
Wealth; I am not good with money. I hate to save. Who needs it? You can’t take it with you. Why put it in a savings account, when you can take a trip to the coast, go on a date, or any number of reckless diversions. This is causing recent issues, as my job promotion, has come with little to no extra payout. No raise, but a small amount of extra tip money that has not shown itself. I am feeling that I have been had. 
Now to me this isn’t just a job. It’s a passion, a hobby, and my way of life. I was warned in school that people would try to take advantage of that. Use my talents to benefit them and not give me my due. I feel that is happening now. So really this stress point stems from work as well. See a pattern here.
Women; I have made an attempt at a relationship with a few different women as of late. I have had the fortunate fate to meet a few worth while women. Women I could have seen a future with. For one reason or another it doesn’t work out. They prove too distant, or there is someone else, or actual distance; all become a boundary.
It has brought me to a conclusion. I am fighting for the wrong women. I know I am not a good looking man. I know I am over weight. I know sometimes I can be a bit lazy when the opportunity presents itself. I have all manner of quirks and bad habits. Yet when I see a woman I want, I stand up and fight for a chance every time. Because I see something in that woman worth fighting to bring into my life.
I am intelligent, I am skilled and have ambition and a career such as it is. Not bragging too much, but I am a hell of a lover. I am worth fighting for. I have been rejected on some small technicality so much lately that I began to think I wasn’t worth fighting for. But I am. Some day I am going to make some woman a very lucky one. I am going to be a great counterpart. I just have to find her. Hence my stress here. I think I need to take a step back in this one. As much as I don’t want to, I think I need to halt this search until something else gives.

Things progress as always. My stress mounts and I can’t blow it off fast enough. Something has got to give. I am starting to exhibit some classic physical signs of stress too, which is just freaking me out more. It is so bad, that I have two days off in a row, finally, and all I can think of is work, and how to solve those problems.
Who the fuck knows how I am going to resolve this, but I am trying. Managing life, work, and love is getting to be a bit much. I need a good long break.

I had a dream last night while passed out in a drunken stupor on my friends couch. That I sold everything, like everything I owned. I took the five dollars (yeah I know) and packed a frame pack and just walked. Over mountains and streams. I fished for my meals and slept under stars. I walked until I found something; it was something great, that I didn’t know I was looking for. Then, I woke up……

Thought of the day.........Why? Just Why? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Just a little bit.....

            Of all the crude jokes and comments I make, and of all the ribbing's I give my friends, when you get right down to it I am a respectful man. I was raised by my father to be that way, and I differ to it. I live off of a weird treat people as you are to be treated system. So when I show a measure of respect to someone, I expect a similar measure back.
            Right now I am forced to work as an equal to someone who has no respect for me. I show him respect. I call him sir, and listen carefully as he talks, and consider his opinions. From him I get rude comments, smart ass statements and contempt.
            If it was most situations I would know how to deal with it. We both go out side throw a few punches, and may the best man win. Either way we come back with the situation sorted out. But this is work. I can’t do that.
            Similarly, I like to think that I am a likable man. I try to be at least. So when I come up on a person who doesn’t like me, I can usually talk my way to a middle ground at least. My last resort is that I just don’t associate with that person. So I am compounded by the problem that I just can’t remove my self from said situation.
            Let us add to this one last thing, my biggest hot button. There is nothing in this world that sends me into a blind, red rage faster. This thing has caused me to cut good friends out of my life for ever, or perpetrate violence when normally I am a peaceful man. This thing is superiority. No one is better then me. Period. You may do some things better than me, or make more money than me, or even hold an important title when I am a lowly kitchen supervisor.
            When you turn your nose down at me like I am something less than you, it goes right to that part of my brain that tells me to kill you with my large wooden club, take your woman back to may cave, and keep your ear as a trophy.
            That’s what I have to fight to keep down every day. I try to talk, I try to compromise, I try to work harder to remove all things to complain about. Yet every time he looks at me I want to latch on to his throat with my teeth tear.
            I grew up a very angry young man. It was necessary to survive in Los Angeles really. I fought a lot. Real fights, not kids fucking around. Fights in which one of you are going to the hospital, maybe both of you. So I had to carry this anger as a strength to access when the time came.
            When I grew up and made an attempt to be an adult, I had to adjust. Not just had too, but wanted too. All this hate in my heart and I could barley function. I also hated myself for it. So I worked very hard to over come it. So hard in fact I have become the fun loving gentleman I am today.
            But when that guy looks at me and demeans me, I am right back in high school with a gang banger coming at me with a crow bar. I just want to strike out. I need to blow off some steam. Bleh…..

            Thought of the evening: how do you blow of steam?    

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An introduction/ and a miracle

     For all those who don't know me, my name is Damon. I am a thirty year old chef living in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. I have started this blog as two parts therapy, one part creative outlet.
     This blog will include, but not be limited to; My professional life such as it is, rantings about my surroundings, my romantic life, train wreck that it is, or any other god damned thing I feel like writing. I hope you enjoy some of the things I write as it appeals to my sense of narcissism, and unending quest for self glorification.  I will update it as often as I can, I am promising two updates a week at first until I figure out if this whole blogging thing is for me.
       A note: when I use names, as I know I am bound to do, names shall be changed to protect those whom might not want their shit spilled. I will try to leave you with a thought at the end of each post as well, just because I like to make people think.

So the introduction is over now time for a miracle.

     I got to see a miracle occur yesterday. Two people, whom love each other more than they love themselves, came together and got married. I have got to see these two interact for some five years, I have come to love these two people. They have had some extreme challenges on their journey.
     The miracle is not that they overcame adversity to come together, as every couple has to deal with that. The miracle is that it is two people that are clearly meant to be together, actually finding each other, and recognizing the bond.
     This is indeed a miracle, and it could not have happened to more deserving people. Too see this miracle gives me hope for my situation in the future.
       The party was awesome too, as was expected by these two. I got to connect and reconnect with great people, and had my first swing dance......with the groom. It was hot. Very hot. I even had a little bit of romance.
     The whole event made me feel connected in a way I have not felt in a while. I sometimes forget that I have built up a circle of great people that are as dear to me as family. I must make a greater effort to keep these people in my life.

     Thought of the evening: Connection, what does it mean to you?