Monday, June 15, 2009

Tasting Greatness

I woke up at 8:00 this morning, just like most other mornings when that damn baby next door starts to scream his head off and be continually ignored by its pretty irresponsible parents, and rolled around in bed longing for me sleep that I knew wouldn't come.  Not only do I know I would not go back to sleep today, but it's finals week and I need to work on my journals, write out my note cards, and really get to business.  Instead I wanted to blog.  Responsible, no?  It's hard to think though with this damn baby screaming through my window like it's being tortured.  If anyone from social services reads this, please come take this child away from such unruly parents - it really needs a new home.  Im not kidding, Im listening to the parents have a normal conversation while this baby just screams.  They just don't care about it.  What did I just do?  I got out of bed, through the blinds open, stared the couple down, and slammed my window shut almost to the point of shattering.  I feel much better now.

Anyway, so the past few days have been absolutely amazing.  The restaurant has been slow due to this June Gloom, but the weather says after yesterday we'll be wishing it was back this week.  Saturday morning at work was slow so I got cut early and went to have lunch at Corral Cantina.  I always go and sit at the little two person window bar with a friend but today it was just me.  I love sitting there.  Normally, I chat it up with David or Cecil while they're pouring drinks and I just waste time before going back to work.  Cecil is really cool.  She's a cali baby and started off in the industry when she was 21 and then moved on to radio broadcasting.  After radio broadcasting she decided she got enough out of it and she now does landscape architecture.  Interesting how one day we realize we want to be doing something completely different (or, someone...ha!). 

I finish my lunch at the cantina and I get a call from my other half Brittany and she said, "Be at my house in 5 minutes, we're going for a helicopter ride."  Before I hung up the phone Cecil had given me my check for $10.83 and I was running out the door.  Have you ever flown in a helicopter!?  See, sheriffs in Malibu eat for free at the restaurant and Brittany just charmed them, I suppose, and we met at the helipad and got on our way!  You know how you always see on movies when helicopters land every thing around them blows profusely?  It's true.  Sand was going everywhere, I felt like at one point I was going to lose my shirt, and I didn't care at all.  We climbed in the helicopter and put on the big headphone-like things with the Britney Spears speaker-mouth-attachment and before I knew it we were taking off.  Ha, I loved it!  we flew over the ocean, stopped by the restaurant and waved, went down to the pier and almost to Santa Monica!  The ride home we flew over the canyons and just gaped in awe at the view.  Continuously I just kept grabbing Brittany and telling her I loved her because it was the coolest thing ever, which I seem to be saying a lot lately.

That night after the helicopter ride, I went with Kelly and Brittany to a party in Malibu Colony Estates at a friend's summer beach house (because his own house in Malibu wasn't good enough?) and we danced and sat on the balcony and watched the waves twenty feet below and occasionally enjoyed a cigarette or two.  

Sunday was a great day though.  I am very blessed for the company I work with.  I was invited to help in a charity event called Taste of the Nation, which I believe at some point I have mentioned before.  We got to the restaurant at 9 a.m. after only a few hours of sleep, naturally, and loaded the cars.  The girl I work with who kicks ass on the line, Amanda, and I carpooled to Culver together.  We set up our tent and got ready to work.  There were 46+ other restaurants and the event and a lot of winery's(sp?) where there.  We were really busy most of the day but we did get a nice break to go try some other restaurant's food, but we, of course, had the best.  

We served a Farmer's Market Salad.  It sounds simple but it was far from that.  It was composed of organic heirloom cherry tomatoes (which were peeled, yes 2100 of them were peeled) and cantaloup that had been seasoned and tossed in a basil vinaigrette.  On top of that was burrata cheese (an early stage of mozzarella, much creamier) with a basalmic syrup drizzle and Zoe's prosciutto on top.  Also in the salad was a pipette of tomato water, which you took after you eat the salad - it's crisp, refreshing, and really cleanses your palate.  Tomato water sounds weird but let me explain...Chef took boxes of heirloom tomatoes and pureed them with some sherry vinegar.  Then, he strained the liquid in coffee filters and it comes out almost clear but with the sweetest taste of tomato ever.  We could have made some bomb bloody marys....

After loading everything back up we went to the after party at Ford's Filling Station and drank Fat Tire and ate cheese and meat and just had a good relaxing time.  Ha, and after Ford's we stopped into Rush to catch the end of the Laker's game and have another drink.  After a few hours Amanda and I took the Jeep back down the PCH and unloaded everything back at the restaurant.  It was a great weekend in LA...and we raised a lot of money at Taste of the Nation to fight childhood hunger.  

Happiness is where I'm at.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rock n' Roll

The past week has been filled with the most absolute insanity I could have ever imagined.  It was also the most fun.

Monday was Memorial Day (clearly) and I have never spent one quite like this.  First off, Sunday Funday was the night before - which involves numerous beers and countless amounts of Jameson - so we went to bed quite late.  Scotty and Maraine came up from San Diego to hang out, which is always a good time.  Monday we woke up and planned to meet with the crew from Sunset at 11:00 at Little Dume.  Naturally, due to Brittany Walters (my other half) and our favor of procrastination and constant lateness, we show up at noon, pushing noon thirty.  We get beer, coolers, and food and load the surfboards in my jeep and went down to the private beach.

The rest of the day consisted of swimming in the ocean, shades of red accumulating simultaneously on everyones back, and everyone trying on wetsuits.  I've been dying to surf for months so I finally got up and decided to try it out!  The first day was pretty much an acclamation of the surf board - balancing on it, swimming on it, sitting up on it, and trying to stand up without a wave to show how balance was key.  The first few waves were spent getting used to the pull of the wave on the surfboard and my body.  I tried to stand up once and guess what happened?  I drank some tasty Pacific Ocean.  Needless to say, Scotty was coaching me through everything and we spent the next thirty minutes trying out the small waves to get me started off.  It felt great!  It felt great walking into the ocean in a wetsuit with a surfboard, looking like a natural but being a complete novice.  

After the beach we stopped by the Pavillions for some food to have a barbecue at Villa Malibu.  Of course, I got to cook everyone's hotdogs and hamburgers and even a huge steak loin!  We weren't the only ones with the idea to cookout and before we knew it there were thirty people at the pool, everyone was cooking out, playing beer pong, smoking the huka(sp?), and having a great time.  It was a great memorial day.

One of my friends at the cookout, who lives on Point Dume is Kelly Voyles.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned Kelly before - she's from Atlanta but graduated from Pepperdine.  She is an exceptional artist.  She does sculptures from mixed media and they are seriously amazing.  Well, she's been training for the Rock n' Roll marathon and her family couldn't make it out here to see her race.  Sooooo, my other half (Brittany) and I took Sunday morning off, made the drive to San Diego and waited at the finish line for her!  The night before we decided to surprise her, thinking she would visit her car before taking off the race, and we bought some window chalk and graffitied her truck to all extents.  

Kelly finished the race in a little over four hours, which I think is badass for her first marathon with hills like that!  She's a rockstar.  She is amazing and I'm so glad we're friends.  Congrats to Kelly - her motivation is such an influence.

Something else that is pretty cool is what I will be experiencing in a few weeks.  There's an event that is held all of the country called "Taste of the Nation."  It's a charity event that helps prevent child hunger.  They raise so much money every event they have to help feed hungry children in America.  Well, this year, I get to be a part of it.  Some of the best chefs in LA will be there and my chef is one of them, because he is one of the best.  It's going to be a great learning opportunity and I couldn't be more excited.

Well, it's 3:30 in the morning here and I've been going strong for the past week.  Time to get some rest before class tomorrow.  To my friends and family back home, I can't wait to see you again, and I am so thankful you all have been such a contribution to my life and who I am becoming.  

Love you, Ninja ;) 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

San Diego

I feel like it's been forever since I've said anything.  It's because I've been busy - not just with work or school, granted that is quite time consuming, but it was a month for me to let go and liberate different parts of myself.  

I've become quite the fan of San Diego.  It's a really fun city...the people are chill and it's like LA but not so much with the necessity to reach the status quo of the standards they pretend to uphold.  Does that sentence even make sense?  Who cares, right?

So I've been there about 4 times in the past month and each time I go to a different part of it, or chill at a different bar and meet new friends.  It's great.  I've also made some really good friends at work.  The past four days I've basically spent with my friend Brittany.  Brittany and I always plan these friend-date nights that are supposed to involve wine, board games, and great food.  Of course we both procrastinate and flake so our first night hanging out ended up at 1am the morning before mothers day.  We drank two bottles of wine, laughed for 3 hours, and played cards until we were exhausted.  It was a great night.

We went to work the next day and it was a very big day for the restaurant, granted it was mother's day, and it was exciting!  People filled the restaurant from 10am until 9pm that night.  Brittany and I discovered this new found friendship and the week started Tuesday night.  The restaurant was slow so I got the night off after a few hours and went to Duke's for Taco Tuesdays.  Didn't have a taco but had a hinano beer, which was quite delicious in itself.  

We piled in the cars and all came to my apartment to start the evening before heading to Hyde.  Hyde was fun, chill, we danced...a lot.  Next thing I know I'm on my fourth Long Island and we're closing out and heading to Mel's to eat some late night grub.  Brittany and I were both far less than sober so instead of eating we were going to sleep in the car, ha, but we kept kicking each other off the backseat and it was hilarious so I went inside and ordered Chili Cheese Fries.  This was not a conscious ANY means.  The night was fun though!

The next day, my new found other half that happens to be a girl, went to our friend Kim's house and swam for a bit, all the while laughing, and then we took her to work.  I sat on the beach for a little bit but then went inside and chilled until we were closed.  After work, we stopped by the pavillions and bought a six pack....not of beer.  It involved three bottles of champagne and three bottles of wine and staying at Annalise's house that evening.  It was a great night, AGAIN.  The bubbles just hit the right spot and we ended up laughing and laughing and taking way too many pictures until 4 in the morning.

So, for the past week I told Brittany that we would go to this "artwalk" thing in downtown LA.  Apparently once a month the galleries downtown open up for local artists to show their work.  We started on Main Street and just walked to each gallery for blocks.  We drank wine.  We stopped occasionally to listen to whatever street musician or band was playing.  We analyzed art in the way normal people do - not the psychopathic way we had to in school to find "the deeper meaning".  After the artwalk, and a long day of lying around doing much of nothing but resting, we went to meet up with some people at Cabo, then down to Britannia, and back to my house for some shut eye.  

Overall the past four days have been exquisite.  My abs hurt so hard from laughing and my liver is sick of processing wine, but happily does it for the experience.

I've been busy, but I've been happy.  Never been happier.  
There are many moments throughout a day that I realize God really blesses me more than I deserve...  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nothing Falls Like London Rain...

Ok, shocker, I know I'm not in London - but since I lived there it is approved for my personal use...and my sister titled it as one of her emails she sent when she lived there and I always told her I would steal it.  

It was a good night at work - not too slow but busy enough to keep moving.  I had some great tables tonight, lovely people.  It's going to be a long weekend though!  Working Friday and Saturday night, then up early for a great day on Sunday.  Then class next week and Wednesday I'm off to San Diego!  

I was never big on family events, or outings, per se, but lately I really have missed the fam being so close by.  I used to only live an hour from both of my parents, so it was easy if I ever wanted to see them.  They would come to dinner in Oxford when I was off or I would go to Memphis (which happened much less often) and I got my "family fill" for a few months.  It's different, I have to save up my time to see them when I fly home, which I'm scared to say won't be happening for a few more months.  I do, in the back of my head, wish I would be there this weekend for Easter.  When I was young I used to go to Tulsa, OK and spend every Easter with my grandmother (Dad's mom) and we did the whole dye easter eggs and hunt them - which my Dad was a professional at hiding them, often putting them in places I couldn't reach littleless see...  Last Easter I spent in Little Rock, AR with my cousins and grandmother and that was fun.  It's weird.  When I was young I saw my cousins so often, granted we all lived a few states a part, there was always that time over the summer or thanksgiving or christmas.  Now, it goes almost years until I see them again.  

It's ok though, my dad was talking to me the other day about getting "the cousins" together next year around this time down in Seaside, Florida for a big reunion.  I see that as being a week of sunburns and waaaayy too much whiskey/beer consumed.  I will succumb though, no worries.  

I haven't talked to my friends studying abroad lately.  Argentina is 4 hours ahead so it's hard to plan phone convos/ Skype time with Kent.  New Zealand is 4 hours behind...but the next day, so it's difficult to plan that as well with Anna and Erin.  My friends in New Zealand are doing great though.  Anna and Erin both got jobs in the restaurant industry - Erin is a bartender and Anna is a server.  However, I think Anna quit, actually I know she did but alls I know it involved was a dropped tenderloin on someone's head. Gotta love my Anna....  Erin seems to be doing well though - she has always had that "bartender" persona about her.  She can pour a drink as well as she can handle one - which somedays is better than me.  Quite impressive.  Hopefully I'll be visiting them sometime this fall.  Realllllly excited about that.

This past week was my roommates birthday.  We quit celebrating Wednesday - yes, about 8 days of celebrating, but she is completely worth it.  Her party was in the upstairs room at her work, Red Rock, and I joined them shortly after work to indulge in the festivities.  Everyone was there JUST for The Kerri Nunez.  She has so many people in the city that love her and want to see her happy it was a great turnout.  After the party ended we cabbed it home about 2:45 in the morning.  Yes, we CABBED it - yay all of us for not driving home.  We are not fools!  It was a great week either way.

Anyway, my glass of wine has been more than soothing and it is time for me to get my sleepless rest.  I'm getting ready for my visit to San Diego Wednesday to see a friend, I can't wait!  They always have a blast down there so I know it will be a good time.  Until then, eat whatever you want - you only have one life and if you eat it away at least you died full.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Green Underwear

Leprechauns were plastered all over faces yesterday in this city.  In class I made my lemon cheese green; Chef Rivet was not amused.  I was.  I love it how in this city every holiday is blown beyond out of proportion.  Last night there was a group of full grown men dressed from head to toe in neon green spandex.  Girls wore everything from green vests, green dresses (most quite provocative), and multiple green accessories.   

I, however, did not have the opportunity to display my allegiance to such a grand holiday.  In school I don't have a green chef coat and at work I have to wear all black.  So what did I do?  I wore my green skibbies.  I bought this fantastic piece of clothing while living in London.  My friend Anna and I, who now lives in New Zealand, went to the H & M in Hyde Park and found them.  My main motive for purchasing them was not for their color or subdued sexual innuendoes, but because plastered across the butt was "Lucky Lounge, Downtown Memphis, TN."  Being from Memphis it deemed appropriate.  This also gave me an excuse to show them off whenever someone asked where my green was.  I was also asked multiple times yesterday if I was Irish.  Do I even look Irish?  My last name is Coleman and I don't have red hair or freckles.  Not like those attributes are consistent in every Irish being, but really?  

Work is going great.  I love my job.  I work with some really great people.  One of the girls who trained me, Kelly, is a fellow southerner from Atlanta, GA.  She even knows a few girls I went to Ole Miss with - seriously, small world.  The general manager, Rey, is legit.  He is the most encouraging manager - always making sure his staff is doing good and offering help if needed.  My other manager is Elena.  She's a feisty one!  She's from Italy, where her parents own a restaurant, and she returns on occasion to renew her Visa.  She's very particular, though, and that's what makes her great.  Everything has to be perfect; all about consistency.  She always makes sure at the end of my shift to say, "Michael, thank you have a great night see you soon."  Except she says it in a much more rapid fashion and adds her own little flair.  Love that italian accent.

Then, there's the kitchen.  Chef Jake Rojas has been the chef there for a little over a year and has done a great job with the menu.  We have a chef tasting option that people make reservations for and each time he conjures up something new and different.  Everything that leaves that kitchen is exquisite.  I've always said I've worked in the best kitchen in the world at Waltz on the Square, and we've had our busy days, i.e. Double Decker '08 lunch.  This kitchen team is great, intense.  I wish you could meet the girl who runs the pantry line, Amanda.  She reminds me a lot of my old Sous Chef Erika Lipe.  She is ferocious.  Always going fast, not afraid to put her foot down and she can be quite the ..... if you piss her off, but she's great at what she does.  Everyone needs to meet an Amanda.

I guess I should get back to my Menu by Management class.  We had a huge project due today, which I completed, but I lost my jump drive yesterday and I, foolishly, didn't back it up so I have to redo the entire thing by next Tuesday.  Thank you Ody Milton for understanding.  I'm sitting next to a really pretty girl, Leah, who is reading all of this, but she is getting married soon.  Hope everyone is doing well, I think about you daily.

Catch you on the flipside.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Clean Cut

Yesterday, I started my job.  It's not that I avoided the option of working, because it's instilled in me to always be productive doing something, but it's that I had to be patient and wait for what was in store.  I work, now, at The Sunset Restaurant in North Malibu.  It's the closest thing to a perfect job I could have ever imagined.  I drive my car for 15 miles going to work right on the PCH.  Every day I drive in I smell the salt water from the ocean.  It's absolutely magnificent.  

Saturday morning, after another circuitous night only filled with sleep depravation, I woke up around 6 am.  Of course I had set seven different alarms the night before in fear of my iPhone not changing for Daylight Savings Time, but that was irrelevant at this point.  I tossed and turned for another fifteen minutes and after realizing my eyes wouldn't close again I decided to go to the Pier and watch the sunrise.

I put on the one pair of jeans I like, which now have a gaping hole in an area that shouldn't be publicly displayed, tied my chucks, plugged my headphones into my phone, and lugged my bike down the stairs to make the short 2 mile bike ride.  Having recently made a new playlist I was deafened by Rare Earth's "It's Time to Celebrate" while passing Colorado and 20th.  The air was crisp around me, fresh.  I knew it'd be a good day.  

I flew down the bridge that connected to the pier and the sounds of the wood thudded over my tires.  No one was really awake yet.  There was a homeless man sleeping under a tree off of Ocean, and small mexican man fishing off to the side, and a skate boarder (random, I know, but he was probably doing the same thing I was).  I was almost to the end of the pier and stopped to turn around to see the faint glow coming up over my city.  

Constantly distracted and ADD derived, I only stared for about 5 minutes.  In those five minutes I decided I was alive and awake and wanted to continue my bike ride down to Venice.  I got on the bike, turned up Carolina Liar's "Show Me What I'm Looking For," and realized how much I loved what I was doing.  I sped down the boardwalk and the vendors were setting up their kiosks for a long Sunday of hopeful sells.  I went through a group of guys and girls kicking a soccer ball around, galavanting at such an early hour, and on occasion, may the scene have allowed it, I plowed through herds of pigeons to watch them scatter relentlessly away.  I went home, refreshed and ready.

The most surreal moment of my day was when I had just gotten to work.  I was helping my co-worker Kelly set up the restaurant.  We were listening to music, listening to Kim's debauchery of her previous night out, and then we heard helicopters.  It was odd to have those gnats swarming at such an early, desolate hour.  We looked at the front window, well, one of the front windows since the entire restaurant is basically made of them, and saw what the commotion was.  Just off the shore to our right a huge spew of water leapt into the air and fins began surfacing all around it.  Then to the right, almost instantaneously, it was deja vu.  The sprinklers of water came up every few minutes - they were grey whales.  Turns out, the helicopters were flying just above them, closer to sure, to try and scare them back out into the ocean so they wouldn't become beached.  Ha, I didn't realize that term was applicable in reality.  The dolphins were amazing though, watching them come up every ten or fifteen seconds.  It was definitely something I had never seen before.

This was my break, my cut from what I used to do in LA.  I used to be the partier, neglecting my responsibilities as a student and sometimes as a person.  Not that I didn't before, but now I have such great influences in my life.  I have friends that work and realize the importance of their being is told by how they live.  In nine weeks of school, I have gone every day but two at seven am for class - something I haven't done since high school.  I'm working a thirty to forty hour work week in a drama free environment.  Could I ask God to bless me anymore?  Never. 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sick of ReRuns

As of today, three of my best friends live internationally.  2 of them have moved to Auckland, New Zealand, and one of them has moved to Argentina, not a clue of what city.  Aside from my other best friends living across the country, from the south up to new seems crazy that we all live these exotic lives.

Who could ask for anything better though?  To live by chance.  To live your life differently every single day and meeting new people every single day.  I love it.  Some people are just made, once they grow up, to get out.  

Has anyone every thought, which I know every one has, how different life would be if they went to a different high school or college or got a job in one place when you expected having something completely different?  

I went to a small, southern baptist high school right outside of Memphis, TN.  Did I love that high school?  Not at all....I mean it had it's fun moments, but I never hung out with anyone in my grade and did the high school stuff they really did.  I mean I attended the occasional movie nights and bowling outings, but I never really affiliated with the cliques in our school.

It's hard to keep in touch.  Who knew while I lived in LA, that my best friend would live in Argentina?  Or even two future business partners would be living in New Zealand?  It's good though, because I still talk to them daily.  I think it's good we keep in touch.  It keeps every day of our lives new, not a rerun.  Speaking of, time to run my 12 miles...The half is only a few weeks away....if I can do 12 today, I can do 13.1 in a few weeks...

"When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it's not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end." -S.M.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bikin' to the 'Bu

I guess it started about a year ago when I realized I really missed riding bikes.  My friend Jeff and I, who is coming to Vegas in March and I'm stoked about it, would, on the rare occasion we both weren't working, take our bikes to the trails and ride them.  He was always much more adventurous than me, going faster down the hills and hitting all the  biggest of the tree roots bulging from the ground with full speed.  I kept up though.  It was a fun time.  One day we went to the trails on a mud run with a friend of ours, Bennett.  Now, THAT, was something I could do everyday.  Pouring down ran, just truckin' it through the trails.  We were soaked head to toe, mud was clenched between my ankles and the backs of my shoes, my hair was full of the sand grit that flew from our feet to our head, and the bandana I wore ingrained quite a few pieces across my forehead.  

In my imaginative psyche, we were the exact scene from Apocalypto, only we were clothed.   Ferocity engaged in every footprint we left running through the dense forrest.  It seemed we were speeding but never losing air or feeling fatigue.  There was a bridge at one point, which had broken and was utilized as a ramp that we jumped across, almost missing the opposing ledge at one point.  It really was great, something about the outdoors is revitalizing to a guy's demeanor.

I have a friend, Richard, I go to school with out here and he was wanting to bike to Malibu.  I haven't used my bike since I left Oxford, and I had been craving a venture like this for quite some time so I told him I'd join him.  Six o'clock came early, because apparently I have a sleeping problem close to insomnia that I feel only an occasional dose of NyQuil can fix, but I got up and rode to the pier to meet my friend.  It felt good to be back on my bike.  My balance and center of gravity was definitely questioned my first few miles but in no time it returned.

It seemed almost instantaneous we reached the city limits of Malibu, but we weren't that far.  Zuma Beach was another twenty miles away.  The sun was rising and my iPod was blaring a variety of new music on iTunes Top 100 songs, keeping me at a great pace.  The PCH, Pacific Coast Highway (at one point I had no clue what it was so I deem it necessary to specify), was having a slow morning with traffic so we weren't distracted by a plethora of cars or red lights.  Finally, we got to Pepperdine.  The ride wasn't difficult except there were many other bikers on the road that day, using road bikes, which apparently are 100% percent easier to perform on rather than a mountain bike, and passed us constantly.  They also wore proper attire such as helmets, under armor shirts, and biking shorts with pads.  As a side note, if you're going to bike great distances, get biking shorts; every place I sat today I winced like a baby getting spanked.

After Pepperdine we continued down some trails in the Malibu Hills that led to the beach.  After parking the bikes we decided to walk a little ways to stretch our legs. Mine kept trying to make the same circuitous motion when I got off my bike, so the walk would be good.  The tide was very high on the beach, which makes sense because I've only ever been there during the afternoons.  The waves were bigger than usual, and the beach was desolate aside from the occasional fisherman or two.  After the lax time of walking and talking about our careers and what we wanted to do the rest of our lives and how we would attain it, we started the journey back home.  Of course, we were starved so the quick stop at the Malibu Kitchen for a shmeared bagel seemed a necessity.  

At some point the traffic began to increase and my wheels gradually sped up and I realized I was tired.  I stopped to watch the surfers; some clashing on the waves losing their boards, faces covered with chagrin, and some gliding on top of them like it was the icy capades.  I rode my bike as a kid all over the neighborhood and all over town, but the sudden idea hit me.  As a kid, I never got tired riding my bike.  I didn't look at hills as an obstacle that would be hard to get up and I wasn't tired when I finished them.  I didn't go through the trails behind the neighborhood nervous about hitting a log the wrong way and crashing or going to fast downhill that I might lost control.  I was so much more fearless in those days.  Was Jeff's mentality different than mine?  Is that why he traversed more eagerly than me?  Now, I was looking at what I was hoping to be the high rises of Santa Monica and I immediately termed each hill or distance as an obstacle.  However, it wasn't the fact I was challenging myself, it was more so I was questioning if I could finish.  Maybe, from now on, I DO need to think like I did as a child.  I need to look at everything in front of me as fun and to just take advantage and do it, not worrying about failure.  Maybe, if I don't question my ability and don't think about the reality of "tired" then I can do more than I think.  

We finished around noon at the pier and watched the tourists pace back and forth over the darkened wood going to restaurants, playing arcade games, riding the few rides it encompassed, and I headed the few short miles to my house.  Ironically, my body was exhausted, as well as my thoughts, so I took a nap.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Banana Pancakes

I have never been such the type to have role models in my life.  I have always desired one, but my expectations are ridiculous when it comes to someone I look up to.  It may be because I have too high of expectations of what I expect myself to be and alters my thoughts about a role model.  I tend to take bits and pieces of many people in my life and form the ideal blueprint of a role model, something realistically not achievable.  We're only human.

I have no intentions of making this some sappy tribute to "all the people who have influenced my life," but it has to do with banana pancakes.  Erika Lipe, Sous Chef, and in my personal opinion, THE Executive Chef of Waltz on the Square (Oxford, MS), is the entire reason I am even in Culinary School.  I had my reservations of first trying to get a job at Waltz.  When I first spoke with my best friend Jeff about it, I was picturing me walking up to the back of a kitchen - a place I was not familiar with - and a 6'5, intimidatingly loud Russian woman telling me to get the hell out of her kitchen.  Instead, I walked in to what I can only describe as a dream of a person.  She was 23, had the face of an angel, and the most soft-spoken determined voice I have ever heard.  She was sure of herself, confident, and knew how to run a kitchen.  She also has the voice of a goddess when she sings that sends people into the most tranquil environment imaginable.  Don't get me wrong - she always rocked out when necessary.  

I met the crazy's that day, soon for which I would become one, and loved it.  The kitchen became my favorite place to be.  The unending, fake chatter from Pokerface rambling in my ear his ridiculous rationale for wearing two watches, the loud piercing sounds coming from Northcutt's mouth (or whatever utensil he decided to play with that day), the order for bread from Jennifer that was feverishly shouted over the hood vents and pot throwing, and the fresh feel of a cold bottled beverage at the end of the night became my comfort place.  

Prior to all this "work", which is still hard to refer to at times because of the enjoyment I gain from it, I was originally a runner.  There are ten million things that race through my mind in a ten-second timeframe, and running has always been my best means of output.  I used to run with my best friend Lauren.  She was a beast, not the way she looked because that was heavenly, it's that could run harder than anyone I knew at the time besides my sister.  We made it quite the habit to run four to five miles at least every other day.  We had our routes plastered all over town and the times were ridiculous when we ran.  Sometimes it would be before lunch or dinner when everyone was at home and it was just two able-bodied people owning the pavement, and other times we would be running at eleven o'clock at night to escape the peer pressure of studying, only to make procrastination justifiable.  Either way, it always makes me better when I run.  It makes my emotions stabilize and work more like the tide on the beach than the whirlpool in the gym.  It keeps my physicality in check so I don't become a zombie of a person.  The Catalina Half Marathon is only three weeks away and I plan on running it, even though I haven't signed up for it yet.  I'm a pro at spontaneous adventures.  Tomorrow on top of a five mile run, I'm biking to Malibu - with a friend, not out of personal adherence, just to tag along.

What it really comes down to is that I question why we do things.  They say you are a leader or a follower, but someone had to follow someone at one point to learn how to lead.  I started working in a kitchen because one of my best friends did and he loved it, so shouldn't I?  I started running because it's the best "sport" I did in high school and I wasn't even that good at it then.  What would I be missing out on if I didn't follow someone at a point in my life?  My old roommate Drew Taggart had a friend come cook him breakfast one morning when I lived in Oxford, MS.  Catherine Servati came and made him Banana Pancakes....and all I could think is the only reason anyone actually makes Banana Pancakes is because Jack Johnson sang a song about it.

"There once was a boy.  A kind, gentle lad who wanted to do big things and make a real difference.  But he didn't know himself and therefore couldn't know where he was going or how he could make a difference.  So he looked in books to see how other people did it...and it was good.  But of course he still couldn't find himself." - A late night text from my best friend


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

1,982 Miles

            I have grown up, not in a small town, or a quiet town.  I grew up in a suburb, Southaven, Mississippi, of Memphis, Tennessee.  I lived in a town where my house was half a mile from my school, which was conveniently half a mile from my work, and was half a mile from my church.  I lived in a place where drama spread like a wildfire in California.  You walked into Shnucks, formerly Sessels, and you knew half the people waiting an hour to check out in isle number seven.  Jackie didn’t care; she was only saving up for a new Harley. 

            My life started in Southaven living in the Savannah Creek Apartments for six months until we found the house I would live in for fourteen years.  It was common to have pool parties, barbecues; the lives of people I thought were normal.           

            After working for a restaurant for four months I graduated from prepping salads, desserts, bread, appetizers; and, I began to make soup du jours, marinara, curry, and Bolognese.  My heart had always been inclined to move to the city of Los Angeles, but now that I wanted to attend Culinary School, it seemed inevitable.  I came to visit with my best friend at the time.  Aside from my random bad habits, I decided to stay up all night before I made my first visit to the never-ending city.  I thought, “What the hell?  I’m going to LA I might as well have fun!”  After misplacing my vehicle, almost missing the flight, and pissing my best friend off, I finally sobered up enough to realize I need to focus on what the hell I was doing.

            We landed and a friend gave me my first tour of the city.  We rode down La Cienega to the city until I saw the Hollywood sign far up on the hill.  In fact, I asked if the sign was as big as a person and realized I should think before I speak.  Dumb ass.

            We drove down Vine to Sunset and took the Sunset Strip into Beverly Hills and back down to Melrose to my friend’s house.  It was then my imagination ran with me to what life would be like here.  The city was unlike any city I had ever been too.  Belem, Brazil was exotic; Petrazavodsk, Russia was cold and bitter.  Venice, Italy was artsy and historic.  This city was crazy.  It was perfect.

            I decided that I would begin school in August.  I had two months to decide whether or not I would make the move or prolong my dreams even longer.  Monica from the Art Institute called me a few days later and informed me I could not begin any classes there because I had already finished my general education classes at the University of Mississippi.  I had two choices: put off schooling until October or make the move in two weeks to start in July. 

It happened.  Next thing I knew I was packing my room, loading my car, crying daily.  I was scared out of my mind!  Sure, I have lived in London!  I have moved away!  This time, I wasn’t coming back.  I spent every night my last week in Oxford anxious, worrying about what the hell I was getting myself into.  I had to convince myself daily that I was doing this for a reason.  I left every person that cared about a sobbing voicemail telling them I would miss them, and I would.

            The night before I left I spent with my best friends.  The next morning I left in tears that only God knows how to shed; saying goodbye to the most important person in my life.  It was the hardest drive I have ever had to start and finish. 

I got to Memphis and picked my father up to join me on the journey to my new life.  My radio was not working in my car at the time.  My dad was also not the most verbally explicit person, so I'll let you imagine how that was going to go.

The first day of driving consisted of my unstable emotions.  I tried every mile marker to not burst into tears and turn my little Jeep Wrangler around to stay in my comfort zone.  After eight hours of excruciating pain we ended up in Oklahoma City at my uncle’s house.  We went to eat with them, talked about my plans, and got some rest for the next day.  Of course, I didn’t sleep well; I woke up repeatedly with urges to call my friends and tell them how much I had already missed them. 

            My dad and I kept traveling.  Texas was plain.  Arizona was the longest state, driving to Flagstaff and down to Pheonix.  Next, was the desert.  I hated my bladder at this point because I felt every twenty minutes I had to use the bathroom.  Four o’clock in the morning rolled around and we ere only in Banning, two hours from Los Angeles.  We pulled over in Palm Springs first, but after an hour of not finding a hotel we ended up at the Days Inn in Banning, but it was just for a few hours of shuteye.  The next morning I woke up and we headed off with chills down my spine.  Two hours later I was back to my new homeland.