again and again.

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There are some major forces at play here.

Each week feels like a micro-course in learning one’s self. I suppose we all are, but since I am concentrated to my own head, and not a person who I live with or am married to, I get all of me.

Some days I can be too much. That’s no surprise. I wander around in different stories and I wake myself up to dreams where I am unfamiliar with my own room.

I get up.

“I’m in the wrong place!”

I sit back down. I rub my face with my hands and somehow, fall back into an unconscious sleep.

Weekend nights are the hardest. I feel like it’s a sin to be alone on a weekend night. I feel like there are people riding with their windows down discovering their whole beings, screaming, “I am alive!” while I’m at home, straining chicken stock and watching The Desolation of Smaug for the 12th time.

It’s okay.

To be honest, I’m wondering if I should cook anymore for a living. And I can’t explain it to you, this shift that is taking place in my heart. I can’t say it’s flight or fight. I’ve never enjoyed anything else more than I have cooking and feeding people. I know I should listen to that. People always respond with, “Well, what else would you do?”

Sometimes, I take that as an insult. It feels like I wouldn’t do well at anything else. But I know what they mean. They know I belong in a kitchen.

I know I belong in a kitchen.

That is hard to swallow.

I’m sort of young still, and already, I heavily desire a place to call my own. I am certainly in a season of having to catch myself on fire, because I am not following another person into the flames. I am having to be my own sense of hard work and passion.

Sometimes, that’s hard to live in.

I tell people all the time about my Saturn Return. They look at me like I’m a goofball. It’s true, I am. But I tell them that I can’t explain the pull in my head and heart. This constant feeling that my life could take many directions and that I’d enjoy them all. Fast and hard. Slow and soft. Most of my days are a combination of both.

Perks of working in a kitchen, I suppose. That, and bacon.

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The love of self is the best way I am able to love others. If I am worried with myself, I can’t give much space to you. I think often of the kind of person I was when I lived in this city before I was married. How I always carried around a cause. How I was the social justice guy. How selfless I seemed.

And then I got married and devoted myself to just one person. I also learned that I was a pretty decent cook. This became my life. These things became meaningful. I got to serve people, not just one day every week, but five and sometimes even seven days a week. So I’ve mourned a lot of the person I used to be, and how I sense that sometimes, other people do the same.

And I recognize myself as I walk and drive down the same streets. A different person. A person who is always seeking to understand.

The end of most of my days involves a mop and hot water. Swinging back and forth over dirty and greasy floors, only to be dirty again and again and again. And cleaned again and again and again.

While that’s daunting to some, I love the sense of completion.

I guess it always comes back to that, for me. The kitchen and its ebb and flow. Its own world full of frustrations and grace and spirit. Every day I live in it.

And every day,

I’m thankful for it.

 

Oh, and new mop head day?

Well, I love new mop head day.

Cook. Mop Floor. Repeat.

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I never want to put myself in a place where I romanticize the work that I do.

But that’s not really what I want to write about. I’ve been scratching my head all morning knowing that I needed to write something. Sometimes it feels like getting out a well deserved scream at nothing in particular. While I don’t want to seem dramatic, it feels that way sometimes. I think you get that. Plus, writing always feels a little dramatic to me. Generally after I publish something online, I ask myself, “Well dang dude, that seems a bit overdone.”

Oh well. It is what it is.

As we all do from time to time, I find myself gathering bits of wisdom here and there from things I see and hear.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is taking ownership of the work that you do.

I was listening to Thomas Keller talk about taking ownership in the kitchen. This was referring to an interviewer asking him why he still mopped the floors of his kitchens and he responded, “It feels good. It feels good to end a day and take ownership of what you did.” TK doesn’t need to mop floors. Most likely, he doesn’t do it much at all these days. But sometimes, he does. And honestly, it’s one of the more peaceful parts of the job. Same with dishes. You really don’t have to think about it.

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The words “finish strong” echo in my head because all of my chefs have said it and pass it on.

When you cook for a living, you get it all. The prep. The cooking as orders shoot out of the machine. The cleaning. The mopping. The ordering.

And then, you do it all over again.

But it’s work, ya know? It’s just what the job entails.

Keep this in mind when someone tells you to open a restaurant because you make decent cupcakes. I’ve talked to many people who do culinary school, and realize after working in a restaurant setting, it’s not what they want to do. Welp, there goes a 150,000 dollar cooking education.

I bring it back around to the part where I tend to romanticize the stuff so it makes sense in my head.

But I don’t really need to. I like what I do. It helps me stay connected to people. I have this strange liking to the feeling of being worked. Even in proper shoes, your feet will be tired. And at the end of the day, I guess I’m okay with that.

That’s the business of feeding people.

If you want to do it, you best learn how to mop.

Because in my head,
cooking is the easy part.