Today has been weird. No other words to describe it. But it hasn't been too far off from all my other days which brings me to believe my life is weird. Non lo so. But I got to work at 830, as always, having slept for about 5 or 6 hours, as always, after I worked the previous day for about 13 hours, as always. Betty and I started the day the same, her making the dough for bread and me setting up and writing our to do list. I went downstairs and back up countless times as always...the kitchen is on the third floor and the walk in fridge is on the first with an elevator used only to carry ingredients and equipment. The multiple trips up and down 3 floors is no biggie for me anymore and I've trained myself to go fast enough to beat the elevator anyways (if I skip steps and briskly walk through the bar, I win). I made recipes that I've made before here: moscato poached pears, piadina, crackers, cioccolato gelatina... But I still ask Betty for help every so often because I don't want to screw up anything.(it's an internal battle really- if I ask for help, I admit to not knowing or remembering what she has already shown me but if I dont ask for help, I risk doing it wrong and having to start over. Both are bad) I consider myself a fast learner but the combination of not understanding Italian directions, reading Italian recipes, and making food and pastries I've never made before to begin with because I've never worked pastry kinda slows me down! My ability to memorize recipes/ingredient names isn't as good and I admit to not remembering a lot of what Betty shows me Bless her heart, I know she has shown me a lot of things over and over. She has patience I wish I had.
But today, a comment was made about me not remembering anything. And I've heard her say this before but today, it didn't sit very well. Maybe I'm being sensitive or the little sleep day after day is catching up but in my mind, I'm working my ass off. I'm doing the best I can,always, and I'm totally doing a bunch of shit I've never done before. The comment oozed in to my mind as "it's not good enough" and I couldn't just brush it off this time. And during service, I got corrected/scolded, as usual, for things that I know better of. Do you know how frustrating it is to make such stupid stupid errors (plate 15 salads when I was clearly told 11, or make something completely different because 'pasta frolla' and 'pasta sfoglia' sound pretty much the same in my mind) because the directions are not computing in my head and its not what im used to? Everyday, I have people get frustrated with me, and I understand their frustration. But then after I fix the ridiculously stupid error for the millionth time, I can't even explain myself, like why I thought pasta frolla sounded like pasta sfoglia or why I can't count to 11. I don't have the words and they don't have the time to wait for me to get my Italian/English dictionary and try to form a sentence. So I just keep going. Head down, and go.
And after the fist service today, I was cleaning the dough mixer thing and I guess I dazed off because I heard Betty ask " are you ok?" and I was so deep in thought, it caught me off guard. Betty could tell something was up and she said "your family? Your home? Your work? Los Angeles?" and I lost it. I couldn't hold it together. And if there is one thing I can't stand, its crying in front of people. So I went to the bathroom, shut the door, and just stood there against the wall with my eyes closed. Tears streaming down my face, I stood in the bathroom stall until vivid images of all my comforts stopped. Because the truth is, its everything. It's the challenge and the beauty of my current life. I've held it together for this long and today, that felt like every other day, was my tipping point. It's like someone poking your arm over and over and over until you snap. Today, unexpectedly, I snapped and I found myself, in a bathroom, telling myself to get it together. When I walked out, Betty was standing there. And then she spoke to me, all in Italian. And I kid you not, I understood every word. She told me that it's ok to be upset because what I'm doing is difficult. I'm working a station I've never worked before and trying to perfect recipes that took her 5 years to understand. She said I don't understand Italian but she sees me watching and tasting and listening and feeling everything. She said the work itself is different but that when it comes to service and speed and soul, it's the same no matter where you go. And she hugged me and said that I was doing a good job. And walked away.
I stared at myself in the mirror and then told myself to get my ass back in that kitchen. Who cares how many stupid mistakes I make? Who cares how many times I get scolded for the same thing? Because after everything Betty said, my mind heard "I understand", and that's all I needed.
I have my only break today from 3-6 but i asked danilo if I could go in early to help with staff meal. Because I know that will make me feel better. Cooking is like a sick relationship. Haha. It can be so evil and draining and take up all your time... But when you're apart, it's all you think about and find ways of seeing each other. I should enjoy my break, since rest is scarce. But right now, nothing would make me feel more happy than to cook. I cook all day for six days a week and the only way I really enjoy my down time is cooking. Go figure
It reminds me of when Gato, a chef at Mozza, told me during one of my worst services (that I'll NEVER forget) "never stop moving. Keep going."