Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another "Other" Day

I've been told that some days will be better than others. Apparently this is another one of the "others." It actually started yesterday when I left for school (on time, actually) and realized 30 minutes into the drive that I left my Commis Cap at home. I had to turn around and get it, of course. Without a complete uniform, you can not attend class. We have to go through a daily inspection before Chef Francoise will let us into the classroom. I have been told that the front desk occasionally has extra uniform pieces to borrow, but the front desk it usually closed by the time I get to the school. It seemed much more logical to turn around and go home after only 30 minutes than get all the way to school and get denied entrance and have to go all the way home again, anyway.

So, I turn around and I pull into my driveway at the exact time I should have been in class. Then, I come in to get my hat (which was still in my favorite chair) only to find DH had to manually turn the water off to the house because the pipes under the kitchen sprung a leak. On the positive side, it was UNDER the house, and since we live in a pier and beam with brick walls and skirting, it hasn't caused much real damage to the inside of the house. On the negative side, the water bill doubled over the last month and I would guess it is because the leak has been there for a bit longer than we suspected. Also on the negative side, the landlord's office is "swamped" with requests and hasn't gotten to ours yet. And, by the way, where is the rent for this month?

Grrrr. Fine, I get it. Some days just suck. But why must they suck as a whole? Can't there be some good stuff thrown in to balance?

Going back to last night, by the time I got to school, my first class was over. I could be my normal "Glass Is Half Full" kind of person and say that I only was missing a class that I already knew the most about. Food Safety and Sanitation is a subject that I already know a lot about and I practice daily. In order to think positive about this, though, I have to ignore the fact that I was just assigned a project with a partner and yesterday was the only time to work together on this. Missing this class was not very nice to my partner.

In any case, I managed to get to school in time for my second class and I did pass my daily inspection. I suppose that was part of the battle won. Getting through the rest of the class was a challenge, though. Actually, it was an exercise in conquering challenges. First the FM decides to rear its ugly head right while I am standing in front of my cutting board with a very long knife in my hand - aching feet (I am beginning to severely dislike the school-issued shoes), tightening muscles in my shoulders and all the way down to my fingers, weakness in my lower back and knees, headache, cotton mouth, and fatigue. If I didn't know what I was dealing with, I would have checked myself into the ER. However, I know this is just another day in the life of Me. While I am standing there, twitching, I get one ray of hope because I have some pain medicine in my pocket. That ray was quickly extinguished once I realized I have nothing to drink because I left my water bottle in the car. (Did I ever mention memory loss was a symptom of FM?)

For the next hour of class, (while twitching, aching, and nodding off) I had to pay attention to Chef's teachings (in his Fluid French accent) and practice chopping vegetables into 1mm squares. (No, that is not an exaggeration.) Of course, tonight we weren't just going after just potatoes. We made brunoise, brunoisette, des, emincer, ciseler, hacher, concasser, and macedoine. All of that translates into "chop onions, shallots, and garlic very, very, very tiny." I have done this before, on my own, several times with almost no issue. The procedure is much more complicated, though, when you take into account the facts that I am short (which makes the cutting board - and onion fumes - that much closer to my face, and I am rather round which prevents me from seeing the vegetables that are right there under my, uh... nose, and (like a fool) I chose a seat at the end of the 3rd row which is apparently created as the worst place in the entire class as far as visibility is concerned. Even the video projector doesn't do much good when you are behind someone who's head blocks the entire view. I was hopping from foot to foot, back and forth, bobbing and weaving like a boxer trying to see what was going on both in front of me and to either side on the projector screens.

Class ran overtime because so there are so many in the class and just gathering the vegetables to cut takes far longer than it should. By midnight, the room was finally cleaned, sanitized, all the tools were back in place, and we were all released. At this point, I am no longer sleepy at all. I am wide awake and wired. That is good because I have a full hour to drive home. That is bad because it took an additional hour for me to wind down once I got home. I think it was 2:30am by the time I finally drifted off to sleep.

This morning let me know that the "other" day wasn't finished with me yet. I had to wake up earlier than I wanted so that I could try and get a hold of the landlord again. Also, I had a sinus headache that was threatening to become a migraine if I didn't take care of it very, very quickly. The water is still off because the landlord has not sent anyone over to fix the pipes, yet. No running water means no shower and - more importantly - no coffee. I am not able to practice chopping things because I can't clean up anything after I do. I don't want to handle a knife anyway, because my hands and wrists are doing that swelling thing again and I can't make a fist or have good control over anything involving fine dexterity. The last thing I need is to cut myself at home and have to explain it to Chef Francoise when I get to class.

I guess it is time to pull myself out of this slump. I need to get moving in a good direction. Not only do I need to be fresh and alert for Chef Francoise but I need to make my presentation on The Care and Feeding of Clostridium Perfringes for Chef Safety. Beyond that, even, while school is gearing up to be a full-time gig, I got a lead on a paying part-time gig. I still have to finish the interview process, but I have a good chance of landing an at-home Customer Service rep position. It took a few weeks, but I found a position that has the hours I need as well as a training schedule I can attend. I might not actually start making any money at it for the next month, but right now I will take whatever I can get that will help us get solidly on our financial feet.

All this work and school stuff can get pretty draining. All work and no play makes Debbie a grouchy girl. I decided that I needed to pursue some leisure time of my own (because who really wants to sleep AND eat EVERY day?) The church that we recently joined has a Cantata scheduled for the week of Christmas and I have missed singing so much, I volunteered myself right in. As programs go, this one is fairly easy and not terribly long. The Music Director is just a lovely person with several music degrees and who is well overqualified for our little country church. She is very sweet, though, and I like her very much. She also happens to be married to our Minister and is additionally a Deacon so she handles a lot more than just the music program. Anyway, in order to help out the members of the choir who don't read music (I know...I was just as concerned as you when I heard that) she has made practice CD's for each of the parts. While I can read music, and the program is full of pieces I am already fairly familiar with, a practice CD means I can pop it in my car radio and use the hour long commute to school to listen and practice the music in solitude.

The prospect of singing in a choral group again has me just giddy with excitement. I haven't been able to sing much at all for the past 10 years and I really miss it. Each of my girls has a hobby of their own, DH has four or five things that could keep him busy at any point, but I haven't had anything of my own in quite a while. Singing for me is a wonderful thing, one, because I am already fairly good at it, two, because it doesn't involve the parts of my body that like to rebel (like my fingers and wrists), and three it is free. I already own my voice so there aren't any rental or maintenance fees. No costs equals guilt free time to myself.

I think having music as a hobby will help me get through the next two years of school. For the longest time, I have been putting off and canceling any sort of appointment or meeting that pulled me away from the house and the family. What that leads to is both exhaustion and resentment that builds up no matter how big a smile you plaster on your face. KNOWING I need to take care of myself and that I need to give myself permission to do something fun and just for me, is so much different than actually DOING it. Since the girls are all part of the church choir and youth group, it is much easier for them to understand my desire to be part of it. That means they are more likely to respect my time and less likely to whine when I walk out the door. As a Mom, hearing that the kids miss me and they don't want me to go is usually the first wedge that is driven between me and whatever I want to do. I might be totally dedicated to the concept, but when you hear "No, Mom, don't go!" EVERY time you walk out the door, it seems less and less important every day, until one day you skip your lesson or meeting and you don't even care.

I am determined NOT to let than happen again. My girls are all old enough to be able to care for themselves to a certain extent as well as understand my need for a few minutes to myself. School and choir are two things I have always wanted to do and right now, I get to do them together. I am so afraid that I will fail and quit at one or another and I desperately need the support of all my family and friends in order to succeed.

For now, I will try and take things one day at a time. I will do my best to look only at today at what needs to be accomplished and what I am able to do on my own. The rest can, and should, be delegated. It really is the best thing for everyone. Everything gets done, I get my free time, and the girls learn a little responsibility.
Seems fair to me!

Deb "The Singing Chef" Lollar

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