on pushing forward

I’ve had to deal with down time on the work front recently. An occurrence in the restaurant/catering biz that’s nerve-wracking when you’re trying to navigate the often unpredictable, seasonal nature of work and still make ends meet. Admittedly there’s a sense of relief in having some respite from long, grueling hours, but it’s short-lived. In my case, that relief doesn’t come with an over-stuffed financial cushion to park my arse on.

So, my survival instincts kicked into full-on offense mode last week. I needed to drum up more work—immediately. Rather than succumb to the terror of the what-ifs (what if I can’t find work? what if I can’t take care of my family? what if the ground opens and swallows me whole?) before I even gave fear a chance to proliferate, I walked in cold to a restaurant I thought I’d enjoy working in and inquired about opportunity. The upshot of this was a sit down the following day with the owner, a resume review and a two-hour chat. I hesitate to say job interview, because in the restaurant/catering biz there’s nothing orthodox about the interview process in a kitchen—at least in my experience. In smaller, owner-run businesses, HR protocols are … well … different. Or non-existent. So you roll with it, whatever the “it” is: unconventional interviews, immediate start dates, on-the-fly training and any, or all, or none of those things. There’s adaptability or there’s sudden death. And there’s nothing in between.

Tomorrow I’m stepping into something completely new. A different kitchen, a new crew, an entirely new menu to learn, another approach to food. Kitchens and kitchen culture are a breed of their own. The intensity creates intense relationships—for good or ill—with all the function and dysfunction of a family. You love, you tolerate and sometimes, you walk away. And when you do, the unknown soon becomes the familiar. The fear is muted by strength you hadn’t quite recognized in yourself.

So work will be an interesting patchwork of projects: the restaurant kitchen, existing catering work, and an independent project that’s largely been kept hushed while waiting for the final nod of approval that says: give’er! I’m excited. I’m also a cocktail of deep-in-the-belly nerves with a twist of confidence and a hefty splash of determination to push the hell forward.

In the meantime, I take photos. Because the practice of observing beauty in the ordinary, catapults me—unfailingly—into a state of gratitude.