After graduating from culinary school, I worked in the kitchen of a fairly schmancy restaurant in San Francisco. (Yes, culinary school, you’re surprised, I know. So were my parents, since a culinary degree isn’t really the natural second step after a bachelor’s in psychology. But I digress…)
In professional kitchens, sometimes a cook will declare, “I’m in the weeds.” No, not that kind of weed. (Although, I think that kind of weed can get one into the proverbial weeds if unwisely used.) It means you’re behind. As in, service starts in twenty minutes and you’ve still got to pump out a batch of beurre blanc, poach that rhubarb for the foie gras, make three more purees, and you just burnt your port wine reduction. And someone just stole the one pan that you need to make the one thing, and no other pan will do. Working as a line cook did not help my hoarding tendencies, let me tell you.
It isn’t as if the restaurant can tell all those people waiting outside that, oh, sorry, we need a few more minutes because Jisun just burned her port reduction. Time marches on, and somehow you need to dig your way out. Often, with the help of kind coworkers, I did manage to figure it out, and my time in the weeds came less and less often.
I’m not at the restaurant anymore, but holy schmoly, am I in the weeds. Tall, scratchy, never-ending weeds.
(Here, I must apologize for announcing that I was pregnant and then promptly disappearing from the internet. Don’t worry, everything is ok. Latke is fine, the Taters are fine, I’m fine, the fetal Tater is doing just fine. Fetal + Tater = Fater?)
I got sick. Really, effing sick. I never got an official diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarium, but that’s pretty much what I had. Couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink, dehydrated, puked every time I smelled anything at all. Ultimately, I lost some weight, which is not what you want when trying to grow an entire person. As an aside, I don’t think many people understand what it is about smells and having very bad morning sickness. It isn’t just the typically bad smells. Sure, car exhaust, cigarette smoke, rotten fish, those are very bad. However, so too are the smells of soap, freshly cut grass, and garlic. Even just stale elevator air can do it. Everyone’s triggers are different, of course, but it is about smells in general, not just bad ones.
Anyways. I spent the better part of four months curled up in a fetal position while my kids watched Frozen over and over (and over) again. Every now and then I’d get up to make them food, eat a couple bites myself, hurl, then lay back down on the couch again. It was just wondrous.
Latke really tried, but taking care of your sick wife, three kids, working 50 hours a week, and doing anything outside of the Essential-Matter-of-Life-and-Death category is just not possible. Once I finally started to feel better, I looked up, and it was official. The Kimchi Latkes household was in the weeds.
I just can’t seem to get it together again. No matter how many loads of laundry I do, how many things I organize, how many items I cross off the list. I’m still in that field of weeds.
Fortunately, like the restaurant, there are good people with me and Latke. Family who came to take the kids for overnights, friends who brought food and pitched in to get the house cleaned for us, strangers who helped when they saw me turning green as the kids ran in opposite directions at the un-fenced park.
In the meantime, the Fater seems to have grown despite almost killing me. I’m 22 weeks pregnant and all seems well. Anyone volunteering to carry this baby for the remaining 18 weeks, please email me.
I should probably not be too concerned about the weeds. Sunsets, hot summer days, hummingbirds. They’ll all exist whether or not I’m in the weeds. So I figure, no matter how many piles of laundry I’ve got, how many blog posts I’ve failed to write, and how many dishes are in the sink, I should still take the time to look up and appreciate the rest of my life. Mouse is learning how to read and write, which is sweet and somewhat hilarious (the English language is sort of messed up, dude). Chipmunk is busy trying to grow up so she can be the same age as her sister (I haven’t quite managed to get through to her about the whole space-time continuum yet). LP is close to walking and has a very demanding schedule of house destruction that he adheres to every day. He’s not one to shirk his duties, you know.
* Note: Anyone I owe anything to, I’m really sorry. I’m trying to dig my way out, I haven’t forgotten about you, can we still be friends?
The library houses a unique cast of characters, doesn’t it? Ours is no different.
When I walked into our main library this morning with Chipmunk and LP in tow, I remembered how much I like libraries. If I’m paying attention, people are full of interesting detail. When we walked into the reference room there was an old retiree, he was carefully photocopying some pages out of a medical dictionary. He wore a jade pendant on his neck and had a single skull dangling from his ear. There was a woman who was typing on a computer with only her two index fingers, cursing under her breath. There was a young teenager with headphones on, reading the Atlantic. The stuff I could hear from his headphones sounded distinctly like Easy-E. Hm.
Then there was me. Mom in tatty jeans with baby in a sling, photocopying a book while telling her toddler to stop playing with the drinking fountain.
While I was at the photocopier, a man came in, clearly agitated. He had on tattered clothes, didn’t smell so fresh, and was muttering and cursing about his plans to beat someone up. It seemed clear that someone had made him angry, but he didn’t actually look dangerous to me. Still, everyone became uncomfortable. Everyone watched him sideways and would avert their eyes if he seemed like he was going to go towards them. We all refused to engage, simply waiting for him to peter out or go away.
This went on for about ten minutes, while the man wandered and muttered. Chipmunk watched him closely, with a very dispassionate air. She seemed unconcerned with his cursing or clothes.
So there we all were, looking but not looking, and Chipmunk, bless her little self, finally just broke the silence.
“Why that man so fustarated? Maybe he need do some dwawing.”
The man turned around and I paused. My initial impulse was to look away or apologize, but Chipmunk just kept staring right at him.
“Here!” She cheerfully went to retrieve one of those small library pencils, and pushed her piece of paper over to him.
He paused, looked angry, looked confused, then nothing.
“Nah, little girl. Thanks though.”
And with that, the man stopped his muttering and sat down to wait for the reference librarian to return. Everyone went back to their business. I don’t know what had really happened to that man, nor what happened to him after we all parted ways. I hope that small moment was good for him. It was good for us.
I can’t help but wonder, what would happen if we really looked into a stranger’s eyes when we spoke? Really contemplated what others were feeling, no matter how brief a moment that was. I’m so guilty of rushing and assuming, being a bystander rather than an agent of change. I try to slow down, I try to connect through the small and big moments, but still, it is easy to forget.
Ironically, my usually self-centered two-year-old was the one who reminded me of this today. Thanks, sweetie.
Let’s talk about me, shall we? I gotta be honest, ever since you calmed down with the whole “Down syndrome” thing, I feel like I’m not getting nearly as much attention as I should have. I mean, I guess you’re doing all this “advocacy” stuff, but honesty, that looks suspiciously similar to when you say you’re hanging out with your new online mama friends. Just sayin’. I don’t mind being a supernatural-angel-gift-from-God if that means I get all your attention. Wink, wink. Read the rest of this entry »