Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Nest Threatens Absolute Emptiness, I'm Counting Down These Warm Days, All Flush With Grief.

Hi. It's been awhile. I've neglected this site, mainly due to a new, punishing routine called Crossfit and the fact that all my good writing now happens at work, in a section we call "The Wine Wire".

The good news is, there is 26 pounds less of me, with the addition of scary, scary deltoids. This has been possible at my advanced age only through a radical change in habits. "Pay to play" is the motto of an industry colleague that I respect enormously, and who has recently undergone a similar change.

It may disappoint many eating buddies, but I am now, for the most part, one of those "Paleo" converts. It's not that complicated, and I try not to be an asshole about it. I still drink plenty of wine (for a recap of the last several months, here is my instagram feed). It's not a terrible way to eat: protein, vegetables, nuts & fruit. And I will eat well made cheese from goats and sheepies. I have, for the most part, left the cows stuff behind except for their flesh which I eat joyfully on a regular basis.

I have also learned that my years up and down the stairs at Henri, coupled with my seven year hiatus from fitness, and all the incorrect forcing of turn-out during my eight years as a classical dancer (this was long ago) have caused enormous amounts of ropey, braided, nearly calcified scar tissue in the very sensitive groin, psoas & hip flexor arenas. I now pay people to stick their fingers in there and break it up. It's unpleasant, but I hope to run and jump again like a gazelle someday. One can dream.

I am also navigating the unexpectedly endless well of sadness that has come with my son's imminent leaving. I feel as if I have never lived without him, although this is untrue, and am absolutely at a loss as how to do this again. People laugh at me, because the college he has chosen is only 6 miles away but this chasm feels much larger to this Momma, and it aches.

Then there's this. According to Forbes, I am a tastemaker. You'll notice my disdainful "I hate to be photographed look". It's the look I have in almost any photo.  Maybe I should take the press photos while the people I pay are sticking their fingers into my psoas/hip flexor/groin.

We are pretty busy this year, at PWS and I find myself trying to contain the chaos of having a small space and lots of wine. Thankfully, due to the beasty strong animal I have become, a 36 pound case of wine feels like lifting a kleenex and I am able to fling many kleenex around each day. For the first three months of Crossfit, I was often in muscle failure and one time dropped a case of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint-Aubin Les Champlot 1er Cru, chipping the wax capsules and irritating Craig.

I have also promised him I will never, ever again do a "Filthy Fifty" before work. This may have been one of the most physically brutal 31 minutes of my life, excluding child birth which was 72 hours. I was a zombie afterwards. He explained to me that he did not hire a zombie.
Here is what it was, with my modification for the injuries:

50 Step Ups, 20" Box 
50 Jumping pull-ups
50 Kettlebell swings
Walking Lunge, 50 steps
50 row boats on the floor
50 Push press, 35 pounds
50 Back extensions GHD
50 Wall ball shots, 12 pound ball
50 Burpees
50 Double unders (modified to calf raises, 150x)

Filthy Fifty aside, I think the biggest issue, and one that needs to be addressed is the inherent unhealthiness that resides in the world of restaurant work. The days begin to have a cycle that looks like this, and after seven years, a great toll was exacted:

7am. Alarm. Get up and make child's lunch, drive him to school (until he got old enough to get there himself). Plan to go to swimming pool and do 72 laps. Go back home, fall asleep.
11:00 am. Scramble around for coffee. Arrange transport for child back from school. Take calls from reps, assistant and private dining room manager. Order wine. Worry about shit.

Noon. Learn that there are no clean/un-ripped panty hose. Notice that dry cleaning has not been picked up. Try to assemble a professional outfit. Perpetuate a dependence upon Dry-El and a steam iron.

2pm. Get to work. Try not to rip, run or dirty already compromised work clothes. Spend 1 hour in a hot, small room trying to organize stuff and get wine into the vino-temps. Audit invoices. Train a staff.

4pm. Stuff comida into mouth. Comida is also called family meal. There have been rumors about comida being a wonderful time of staff eating together, with delicious foods made from great chefs. This was never the case at The Gage and Henri. I would call myself a good identifier of food, but there was one memorable forgettable comida in which we could not determine if the meal was made with shrimp or cauliflower. And one of the servers had a shellfish allergy. Often the comida was a hotel pan full of scraps, odds and ends vegetable peels and weird meats, bound with cheese. Sometimes it was industrially prepared tamales whose masa filling was dense as a brick, flavored with a harsh spice that reminded of chili encrusted tree bark. Sometimes it was a sickly pan of braised pork trimmings, gelatinous and glistening, a siren song for those who enjoyed meals of collagen and unrendered fat. This was served with white rice, al dente and crunchy, for texture of course. Once in a while, it was burgers. The joy on these nights was palpable, due to edibility.  No worries of mid-service diarrhea accompanied burger nights. And that's a nice assurance to have!

5pm. Start service. Run around for 6 straight hours trying to make people happy. Upstairs/downstairs. 70-80 times a night.

11pm. End service. You are wired nervous and agitated. Drink until nerves stop pulsating.

4am. Pass out. Start again the next day.

You can see how clearly unhealthy this is a way to live.  Now I am going to eat some almonds and an avocado.


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  2. If you put a lot of wind sprints, blocking sled runs and field laps in, you'd have my high school football 2 a day August pre season practice..oh, add salt pills too. Great blog, welcome back.