Monday, December 01, 2008

walking sleep

so michael laiskonis just wrote

I've often said that the day you don't feel that pit in your stomach as you walk into work, that's the day to start looking for a new job.

and it seems that several of us are taking such stock lately.

where am i? what am i doing here? is this the right time? how exactly did i get here anyway? what can i do next? how could i have made this better? how can i make [this person] do [this necessary thing]? these are the questions that plague us while we dice, saute, roast, bake, hunt for the chinois.

is it best to cook wholly focused on that one thing. or five things, should you be capable of managing cookies and custards in the oven, a pot of dairy infusing and a caramel at the same time. {this of course implies that you have oven space and working burners for multiple projects, nevermind pots} when you are not focused you make mistakes. your pot of milk boils over and while cleaning up the spill you burn your tuiles in the oven. i find myself working with some people who can only do one thing at a time and it reminds me of when i used to work that way.

and i am so glad that i do not work that way any longer.
and i am so glad that i have the presence of mind to multitask and still hold it down (not only the what/where but the what/now).
and, yes, i still do stupid things but i admit them freely. today my pot of cream boiled over while I was organizing my jars for pot de cremes, and i was pissed that it boiled over, because i had been keeping my eye on it, but i had the presence of mind to taste the cream (was it scalded? did it taste burned in any way? no, so continue) and then measure it (7.5 cups is no longer 8 cups, so correct and proceed).

in a way i'm glad my cream boiled over a bit. i'm somehow in the position currently of trying to teach several people lots of things. it's challenging enough to be mindful of what their backgrounds all are and their skill sets, and then temper my tone or advice accordingly (like, please don't ruin that dessert for service, k thx). if i can see where i came from (yes and sometimes we need a reminder) then i can hopefully be compassionate with these people i am guiding.

because i want to be compassionate. underneath the crusty exterior. and it's hard when service is coming on or when someone commits to making a mistake and fesses up afterward (because there's that moment when you're looking your your mise, and you're thinking something isn't right, and you can decide to go ahead or you can decide to ask a question, and you don't wanna ask a question cause you made this yesterday and you've asked 20 questions today already, and so what are you sposed to do?).

it's hard when you want someone to tell you your impulse is right. it's hard when you have to tell someone their impulse is wrong, that you know they thought about it but they could have made a more informed choice. because you know they can't just think like you. because you know the reason they ask the 21st question is that they want to think like you. i've been the one so many times, saying but...but...but as if my logic, wrong though it be, is going to win me brownie points for having given a second's thought to the matter at hand.

i'm not saying i don't get it wrong any more. no, not at all. but i am glad to be where i am.

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