happening

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I wonder if I can learn to be reckless again.

After something breaks you, you try to be safe so it won’t hurt as bad anymore, but it’s becoming very clear to me that things are always happening to us. Whether they are good or bad. Things are happening.

All of the time.

There are some days, where I can float above my body. Already, I live every day remembering people and places and how they made me feel. It’s a cycle I run through, and I’m not sure I’ve had a day where I don’t think about the moments that sent me onto a different trajectory.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I am a bit afraid to love another person deeply again. I know for a fact that I will give myself up to it. I will lose something in my cooking. I will regret some of that life, I know. Of being obsessed with some form of my occupation and wondering if any person out there would be able to accept the moments where the thing I love to do, competes with their relationship with me.
This absolutely breaks my heart.

I am a stubborn fool, quite often.

Raw feeling, many days. Where I just don’t think I have any more to give, when it’s the thing I love the most.

These days, my cup is so full — I s’pose of everything a human can be full of. Hunger. Fear. Love. Regret. Compassion. Rage. Wonder. Contentment.

And I come home, and push off my shoes and collapse onto some soft surface big enough for my frame. There are times I want to weep with it all — to really just — let the skies have it all. Maybe something up there is listening after all.

constedujour

Today, I am jealous of free weekends. Of an easier love. Sun-burned faces and Sunday naps wrapped tightly with a warm body or animal (or both). And in my head, I wonder if I did good enough today.

If I was fast enough. Or kind enough. Or if I hurt someone’s feelings or whether or not I’ll have the energy to muster up a soft hello at a local church meeting. Truly, I have a lot on my shoulders and a dull pain riding up into my neck.

But, things are always happening to us.
And like the prayer goes: it’s for our healing.

It’s all happening for us to move through and to become so wonderfully and tragically human, with the world and the people of it pulling us in a million different ways.

For now, I will rest my head and give the dull ache in my neck some time to take it easy. I will wrap myself tightly in this brown blanket and probably wake myself up with a snore or two.

I have my own Sunday kinda love, and today, it looks like all of the things that have made me — and have made me goofy and flawed and tenderhearted — and know that all along, everything’s been happening.

 

grace and geology.

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It’s a lot of pressure, getting older.

Every day is like something of a honing steel, getting sharper maybe. Focusing on what you want to do. Who you want to be. My craft requires a lot from me. I’m sure yours does too.

When you’re a professional cook, and while some call me a chef, there is the constant pressure to perform consistently better and better. Or maybe that’s on me. I guess it should be on me.

The truth of the matter is that I will let someone down. And so will you.
But getting older, man. This sh*t is brutal sometimes.

I think often, that I am not big enough to do certain things. But I’m doing them, somehow. And I think that’s how everything works. You have no idea until you are immersed and come out on the other side. Maybe a little more worn, but you’re okay. That’s what becoming more of an adult feels like. Being okay with big things.

Geology-2007

I’m on the last year of my 20’s. A decade of my own becoming. Spiritual crisis. Marriage. Divorce. Moving. Death. Big responsibilities to my craft and my people. I am not alone.

What a huge decade. One that I look back on like a blur of loud and soft. Heavy and fizzy. Some days it feels like getting tossed off a merry-go-round that’s going too fast. Other days it is front porch sittin’. Sweet tea drinkin’.

And what I am learning learning learning!
Goodness gracious.
Life is full of pressure. I often compare it to geology, which is generally the study of pressure over time, on certain objects. Or at least that is what they said in Shawshank.

At night, I sink into my bed and try to calm down. I resist the urge to pick up my phone and numb the edges.

It is important for me to be calm. To be good. To be kind. I’m less worried about being book smart. Or needing to know how to solve long equations. I’m a little more concerned with grace. And maybe how to better feed my people.

I say pressure because cooking for people means they’re waiting on you. Over the course of a week, that’s hundreds of people waiting on you to feed them. Clean up after them. That’s a load of responsibility. I suppose, since I don’t have children of my own, that might be just a little bit of what parents feel like. A lot of pressure to get things right and on their time frame.

I submit to that pressure. I have to.

But I have loved my 20s. Since that seems to be my theme here, today. Thinking of my new normals and what ten years can do to a human. The world is full of pressure. Geology. Time. The numerous times I’ve been wrong or angry. The adventures I’ve jumped into and the times I’ve held myself back. Little do I regret, which is rare for some people.

All I ask of myself is to keep my heart open.

Work as hard as I can without compromising my own peace of mind. To have some control over how stressful this work can be and keep my hands steady on the plow.

This is what I know, and it is what I’m good at.

Above all, loads and loads of grace. For myself and for others who have asked it upon me.

That, after all, is the gift I receive from others.

Yeah, ya know?
Today, I’m thankful for grace.

chef

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I just jolted awake from one of my small coma-like naps because I thought my air conditioning was the sound of the kitchen printer at work.

Rattle rattle rattle.
My heart was racing. I’ll admit, I’m a hardcore napper. A solid thirty minutes of what I like to call “baby sleep”, when they get all sweaty and all their weight falls on you like a sack of potatoes. And just like that, I am back in the game.

Well. I am a head chef now. Due to a switch in ownership and being in the right place at the right time, I have fulfilled one of my short term goals of being a “chef” before turning thirty. This isn’t unusual. Many chefs are under 30. Though it’s come at me fast, I have no doubt in my heart that I’ve earned the title.

William_Orpen_Le_Chef_de_l'Hôtel_Chatham,_Paris

But this isn’t about being a chef.

Maybe it is a little.

More so the hurricane of my brain. Fed only more so by the fact that my shop is doing brunch on Sundays, which any cook will tell you, is a slur of hecticness and eggs. Eggticness.

Alas, it is my job to do this. To feed you hungry people. Lately I have cursed the gods more than I have praised them and for that, I hope they have mercy on me.

My days seem short.

I wake up in an attempt to find another black shirt to wear with some jeans and my old Nikes that I’ve tried to replace twice, and it just hasn’t worked out.

I walk into the kitchen and turn everything on. Slowly, people start showing up. But for that first hour, it is just me in the kitchen. Stirring grits. Cooking off loads and loads of bacon.

Sipping on that first pot of coffee that I get to marvel in. I stare into its blackness and know that in due time, it will find its way through my veins like the chemical it is. I will shake off morning creaks and dust and start working on my prep list.

Cooking is never ending. There is no project that is done that doesn’t have to be re done almost every week, if not every day. There is no council or board members to tell me if I did a good job and that I’ve earned my hearty salary.

Only today, I will be judged for what goes on the plate. I will most likely clean that plate too, and do it again and again. I will be judged on quickness and taste and delivery. Hundreds of times a week. I wake up knowing that I will not please everyone and that I will inevitably let someone down. But I do my best to be as healthy as I can in this industry.

Before everyone shows up, I try to repeat this mantra in my head that it is all out of my control. Only that mostly it is in my control. At least the things that I can have a say in.

Also, there is tomorrow.

Regardless of how stressful and insane and impossible some days are, there is that presence of time. We will move forward and no, this won’t last forever.

So yeah, I guess you can call me a chef now, though it’s a funny word. I won’t be weird about it.

Because sometimes being a chef means you’re reaching your hand down a flooded floor drain to unclog it before it hits the dining room. (Like maybe I did yesterday.)

Or it means going out and buying your co-worker a drink, who’s having a hard season. Or keeping everyone cool when sh*t inevitably hits the fan.

I know your job is stressful too. And you probably get paid way more than me, but I am so super proud of what I’ve become. I may not have a big house to show of my labors. But I have my day to day. My baby naps. The occasional diner telling me that what they had was perfect.

It is enough to make my eyes water, and enough to wake up again tomorrow and do it all over.

If this is what it means to be a chef, then I think I’m going to be okay.

sunday biscuits

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Sunday is for being soft.

Well, it is a new luxury for me.
If you’re not a brunch cook on the line, or a waiter at Cracker Barrel on a Sunday afternoon.

But for me, Sunday has become a way to reconcile with my week.
It softens the edges of my trials and toils.
I reflect on my week and I gain courage to take on another one.

Today, like most days, is a day I allow myself to live in a lot of grace for my mistakes,
and for my bad attitude,
my hectic mind racing back and forth, seemingly between to entirely different states.

Yes, this is a luxury.

I picked up a jar of homemade fig and strawberry jam from the farmer’s market.

So, I made Sunday biscuits.

As I pulled them out, I observed how much they had risen and inhaled deeply the browning butter sizzling under the crispy, brown bottom.

It’s the small things, really.

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I set out a couple of eggs on my board and thought they looked beautiful.

Today, is the day I feed myself.

After spending my weeks cooking for the general public, I also cook for the people I hold a little closer, and I try to treat them like jewels. Because our weeks and months grow long, and they are also fast. I like to give myself to these treasures. I like them to slow down for a minute and listen to them speak from their hearts.

Maybe something wine induced, and maybe the smell of tomatoes and fresh bread helps, too.

Someone recently called me a healer.
No, I do not claim to have magical powers, nor can I own up to that term every day.

Only the idea is that all of our words and actions carry their own weight.
The weight I choose to put on my words and actions are heavy.
We are all capable of being healers.

I try, anyways, to not tear down people’s worlds. I will maybe try to pry a board loose, but I also know that it’s a delicate action, to restructure. To bend and not break.

Sunday is for healing.
It is for dusting off tools.
The ones that I use to breathe deeply from my belly when I feel as though I’m carrying a cannonball.

They are the tools that allow me to keep going, to keep recognizing my own strength and maybe, allow me to show you your own.

I know you are afraid of what you don’t know or understand. It makes you feel weak and defenseless. But that’s not you.
Recognizing your strength.
Pushing forward.
Embracing the gravity that works against your body.

Letting ideas and motions flow through you. Permeable. Osmosis-like.

That is all we can do, some days.

Sit down.

Cut some butter into flour.

Watch them rise and sizzle and brown.

Soft butter. Warm jam.

Pour a cup of coffee.

And feed yourself.

holy day

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baby laughs and sunday pot roast

a familiar memory runs through my veins.

the feeling of normality and ritual and calm wash over me,
regardless of the noise and the sound of toys scraping floor,
this was something I had been missing

ketchup, mustard and ice cream,
the things these kids are made of,
that, and their creative restless minds
learning how to build bigger towers
with more and more colors.

the sounds of mom clinking spoons on the sides of pans
dinner rolls, last to come out of the sparkly clean oven,
an inside joke from the years of waiting on bread.
we are always waiting on the bread.

I know that most see these things as they are.
I can’t help but to see them as something I might miss again someday.

so I soak it up when I can. 
and when I’m not toiling away at a day’s worry.
When I decide in my own heart that all of this is so very important. 

the pot roast.
the little head nestled under my chin
with mashed potatoes smeared above his
little lips drenched in drool and baby noises.

God, I’ve missed this.
The toils and the messes and the quiet afternoons.

baby laughs and sunday pot roast

a holy day if I ever knew one

legos-on-floor

past, present and humidity.

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My apartment is still so empty.

As I look back a few years, I still imagine the things I used to have. Another home, in another place with another person. Things were so different.

I was on a trajectory to live another life completely.
I guess that’s what I get stuck on from time to time.

My belongings are minuscule, now. Besides the pots and pans, all that resonates in my new space is the silence of missing a person. Borrowed and hand me down furniture. All of it, I am so thankful for.

It still smells old, here. Which I hope changes in the next months.
It’s okay, too. These are old bones, I can’t ask them to change, only just to accept my naivety and hipster music.

Sometimes, I feel it rise in my belly. That panicky feeling of being alone. The great weight I miss being intertwined with; learning, touching, growing.

Sundays are for sweet, soft songs and kissing of the same nature.
I realize my lack of physical touch has been missing. Not getting weird, here. Only exploring the depths of the things I didn’t know I needed then, but know I absolutely cannot do without. Everyone deserves this kinda thing.

It’s easy to want this right away.

That was the hardest part. The part I was so angry with for so long. That was the part that was taken away from me, and I hated it. Those are some wounds, like the burns on my arms, that will always leave their mark.

When I feel alone…that is the hardest part.

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But I allow myself to feel, as I do. I feel the weight of our adult choices and the fine balance of fight or flight. The presence that sits with me in my sadness is here, now. That’s sort of when I lose it. I feel safe. That’s when I let out those big, heavy ones. I don’t just let it go, it starts small and sometimes gets ferocious.

I feel safe, though. I’ve learned how to feel safe when these waves start to approach. I let them wash over me and I get the luxury of being completely self-absorbed, and I get to wander around in my depth.

It feels like my very soul is sitting next to me, that person who is pure love and quiet and peace. I think some of that God-spirit stuff is there too.

I turned my air conditioner off, because it’s a little too loud. Outside I can hear the birds propping back on their branches after a week full of heavy rain. The humidity sneaks through the cracks of this old place, and I wake up somedays feeling damp, though it’s all in my head.

I sometimes fantasize about mountain living in Italy. Or a getaway cabin in Vermont, where I jokingly tell people I will live someday, making cheese and cooking grits for my kids.

oh, but you are free…dear one.

I hear that after all is said and done. I think, if I can change that much in five years, what will this year bring, and the next! It all becomes very clear that I have so, so much here.

I suppose starting over a few different times in the past 10 months has taken a toll. I hold firmly to my constants, and loosely to the things in between.

I start up my air condition again, because there’s 95% humidity outside. It reminds me of my place in this world.

Subject to the elements.

People, time, and nature.

I welcome it all.

I open my heart to all these things because they are important.

I’m living here, now. And as they say,

there is no time like the present.