Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.

On my days off, I have to make a big decision. Do I sleep the day away to catch up on much needed sleep I've been lacking in on days I work? Or do I get up early and make the absolute most of the day, seeing friends I haven't seen, running errands I need to run, or spending time with family. It's quite the difficult decision.

Although I have relaxed a lot this summer during my days off, I think I've done some fun and productive stuff as well! I've gone into the city with one of my best friends, I've gone down the Cape to see another best friend and my grandparents and cousins, I've gone to Newport Beach with my Mom, Rockport and Essex with the family, and more.

I've kind of felt like this summer has been wasted on working, yet I think, although I kind of resent it, that that is what this summer should be about. I'm kind of getting a taste of the real world, what it will be like once I leave school and am working full time. I really feel like I'm growing up, and that both excites me and scares me to death. I've become more and more nostalgic for childhood. I miss finding enough dimes and quarters to walk downtown and buy some candy from the convenience store. I miss summers spent down the Cape where the most work I had to do was hoist up lobster traps and keep my room somewhat clean. I miss weekends spent with my dad, going to movies and on different adventures. I miss lots of things, and that makes me kind of sad.

Yet, I know I need to move on and grow up. Although I cannot do those things now as frequently as I'd like to, they'll still always be a part of my life. I know that I can go down the Cape whenever I want and feel like a kid again. I know that my dad is still up for adventures and trips to the movies, although I'm usually not available to do them, I know that if I REALLY want to, I can walk downtown and buy some candy. These times aren't gone, they're just less frequent. I guess I just need to come to terms with that.

Anyways, in a week I'll be down the Cape celebrating my dad's birthday with my ENTIRE family, and I CANNOT wait. Times with my family are what I treasure most right now. It is sure to be a fantastic day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Is it so wrong to want rewarding? To want more than is given to you?

Sundays. Once a day of rest. Now, to me, a day of long, endless work.

Sunday is the day I dread each week. My 12 hour work day. I start work at 10, end at 10. This means I have to leave my house around 8:30 and don't get home until around 11:30. LONG DAY.

The other thing I hate about Sundays at work is that it's incredibly slow, and there are hardly any of us on the line in the kitchen. Therefore, when it's slow, it's SLOW. One can only chop so many shallots, blanch so many green beans, make so much mornay sauce. Running out of prep to do in the kitchen is the last thing you want. You look pretty embarrassing standing around doing nothing, and you'll probably wind up on your hands and knees scrubbing various hidden stainless steel that hasn't been cleaned in months. Then, if we suddenly get some business, it gets crazy busy, since like I said, there aren't that many of us. Lots of ups and downs in action, and it's really pretty exhausting.

So, to sum up it all up, Sundays suck. A lot.

Thankfully though, today wasn't too bad. And the one GOOD thing about Sundays is that I have the next two days off! Oh how I love Mondays and Tuesdays :D! Now, sleep, sleep, and more sleep.

Bon nuit, my body hurts.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Just the smell on the summer can make me fall in love

So here I am, back again, in the wonderful world of blogging. Didn't think you'd here from me again on here, huh? Well think again. I'm BACK and better than ever, here to give you an update on what has been going on during my CRAZY summer back home in Massachusetts. Also, at the end of this post, I have a big announcement, so keep reading!

First of all, the famous 25 hour drive home. It was exhausting, really really really really really long, and pretty boring, but with some great tunes, good friends, amazing hospitality, and lots of stops for greasy goodness along the way, I made it. It was actually pretty awesome and rewarding, driving up the east coast. I saw a lot of giant water towers in the shape of fruits and vegetables in the south, along with plenty anti-abortion and other conservative billboards (only in the south...). As I started getting closer to home, in the midst of nothingness, I came upon the Washington Monument! That was pretty much as exciting as it got. I kind of expected to see the ocean, and signs for authentic Carolina BBQ, the Statue of Liberty, a Georgia peach tree....but no. The biggest thing I realized is that there's really not that much of a variation between the United States of Massachusetts and the United States of any other state...it's all America.

After I got home, after less than 24 hours of being there, I was pushed into getting a job. Yes, I grumbled and raged, begging my parents to let me relax just a LITTLE bit longer ("It was 25 HOURS Mom and Dad! 25 HOURS!") Yet, they were relentless, and as much as I hate to admit it, rightly so. Without their push, I probably would not have the amazing job I do today. A few months ago, after hearing about a connection to a restaurant owner that my dad had at work, I called the man and asked about the chances of a 19 year old skinny little culinary school girl with basically NO professional experience of getting a job. He told me to call him when I got back from Miami, so that's exactly what I did. Thankfully enough, I got an interview! I went in to talk to him and after a 3 minute discussion of asking me why I was there, what I hoped to gain from working there, and when I was available, he offered me an opportunity to stage the next day.

For those of you who are less familiar with the crazy culinary world, a "stage" is almost like an audition. It's a chance to work for a day (unpaid of course) in a kitchen to see how you like it, and how they like you. During my stage I basically did prep work all day: peeling shrimp, making homemade pasta, cutting vegetables, etc. At the end of my long day, I anxiously awaited my meeting with the head chef to see if I got the job or not! He once again, asked me when I was free, to which I obviously HAD to reply, "the whole summer, Chef! Whenever you need me, Chef! I can be here every day, Chef!" He also asked me about payment: "ANYTHING Chef, really. Minimum wage? I'm doing this for the experience!" After hearing that he really had no idea what minimum wage was, we settled on a small, yet realistic payment, of which I'm still quite pleased with. Like I told him, and have to keep telling myself, when I feel like I've been working my butt off and not making that much for it, it's about the EXPERIENCE, about getting the chance to work in a real professional kitchen after having absolutely no experience. Chef took a chance on me, and I'm extremely grateful to him for doing so.

ANYWAYS, let me tell you about what I'm doing in my job. First of all, I work 5 days a week, about 40 hours each week. My schedule is always changing as we lose and gain people, so it's pretty hectic. The restaurant is swanky New England style food with a heavy Italian and French influence. It's simple, but very fresh and good quality. My job title, I suppose, would be Garde Manger, which is a classical French term kind of meaning "cold prep," yet I do a lot more than that. I'm kind of on the helper station. I work the fryer to make fries, make salads, plate desserts and cheese plates, shuck a LOT of oysters (I'm becoming a pro!), make fish and chips and classic croque-monsieur and croque-madame (ham and cheese) sandwiches, and whip up milkshakes with our home made ice cream. I also help a lot with making the homemade pasta. As you can see, that is a LOT for someone who has no line experience. It was extremely difficult at first, for a while. Working in a professional kitchen is so different than being at school. You have to learn a whole knew language for doing this, working with as much speed and efficiency as possible, and trying to reserve as much energy as possible to last you through the long days and nights. It's finally sort of starting to click for me, I'm finding the rhythm of the kitchen, which really makes me proud.

The people I work with are amazing. As I expected, I'm the only girl in the kitchen, and the youngest. I also have the least amount of experience. So, pretty much, I have to REALLY hold my own. The guys in the kitchen are all really great, and have treated me with lots of respect. Of course there are lots of crude jokes and teasing, but it's all in good fun, and something I sort of have to be able to get past and shove right back at them. Working in a kitchen has really made me thick-skinned. I feel bad a lot because I'm not quite as fast or perfect as I'd like to be, and sometimes it slows the rest of the team down and they get frustrated with me. I really just hope they understand that I'm doing the absolute best that I can. I get so much help and support from the guys and will really miss them when I go back to school in the fall. My boss is great. Chef is very fair, with a good sense of humor. He's a bit intimidating at first, but has proved himself to me to be a great leader and extremely smart and capable, and I'm learning a lot from him. He treats every member of his staff with respect and treats the restaurant like his baby, keeping it in tip top shape.

So, since I'm working most of the time, I have limited availability to see friends and family. I thought that working so much would keep me from going out with friends and participating in different things, but it turns out that most of my friends are working just as hard as I am. It's really starting to hit me, what growing up feels like. I'm quite nostalgic now for past summers spent at the Cape catching lobsters and clams and helping Grandma with dinner. I even miss sitting at home in Walpole and being bored and sweaty, having nothing to do. I feel like I'm constantly moving, and when I'm not working, I have to make the decision whether to rest or to muster up some strength to spend time with friends and family. This summer has actually helped me grow closer to my family a lot, and I'm spending a lot of time (well, as much time as I CAN) with them, which I love. I kind of thought for a while that this was the worst summer I had ever had, since I was constantly working and hardly making any money. Funny enough though, I'm realizing it's one of the best, because I think I'm growing the most I've ever grown before. I think most people think of summer as a break, as a time to put dreams and ambitions on hold in order to relax and push aside thoughts of work and school. I'm kind of doing the opposite, focusing mainly on work and moving forward to a brighter future. It can be VERY tiring and difficult at times, yes, but I know it will make me a stronger person.

Now, to my announcement. I've decided how much I love to write, and how much I want to keep it as a greatly important part of my life. Also, I know how much the few o you who actually read my blog regularly enjoy it. Therefore, I've decided to try as hard as I can to write a post every single day, at least for the rest of the summer. I cannot promise it will be long and in depth. It might just be a picture or some song lyrics or a few sentences, but you'll get SOMETHING. It also may not always be food or work related, but it will definitely be ME related! I can't promise that I'll have something every day, but I'll try my absolute hardest. I wanna document this summer as best as I can, and this blog helps me do that. If you have any suggestions on stuff I should be posting, let me know in a comment!

Hope you enjoyed this "summer so far sum up!" Keep reading each day for more!

Je t'aime!

Elizabeth (Or, as I'm called at work, ElizabethRose, Blanquita [white girl], or Americana [American girl])