Sunday, September 13, 2015

Acceptance. that's the first step, right?

So, I am not meant to have a car.  I can drive, I have no DUI's or anything dumb prohibiting me from driving.  I enjoy a manual transmission to the fullest [seriously, my ONLY requirement when I purchase a vehicle].  Some people think my driving is a bit scary.  I feel its practiced.  I drive within the limits of my comfort with respect to the limits of the vehicle in question.

So why am I not meant to have a vehicle?

I purchased my first car, a 1977 Pontiac LeMans, when I was sixteen for $375.  For 16 year old me, she was glorious.  She was Burgundy and 21 years older than I. Two doors, a big V8 engine, rusty as shit, and she was amazing.  Dad brought her home, and after ensuring I wouldn't die [he had my uncle do the brakes for me, ASAP], I got to drive it.  I parked her in the yard, under the shade tree, opened the windows and took a nap in the front seat.  When winter came, I experienced my first spin out.  Even going extremely slow, I managed to end up in the other lane, going in the wrong direction.  Thankfully, there was absolutely no one around, so I didn't hit anyone.  My car was barely in the ditch [more like on the side of the road], so I was able to slowly get myself back on the right side of the road.  My luck with her ran out one night after work.  The week previously, my passenger door refused to latch into place.  The cheap, logical teenager fix: attach a bungee cord from the passenger side door to the bracket on the drivers seat.  You laugh, but my door stayed shut.  I did have to go slower around turns however.  The night she failed.  I went to leave work and my driver's side door started doing the same shit.  My door would not latch.  I needed to leave work and go home. At that time I worked at a restaurant as a hostess/ bar maid.  It was my first restaurant gig; my first introduction to the industry I fell in love with.  Anyway, I had a spare bungee cord, and did the quick teenager fix.  This time, it was drivers side door to passenger seat bracket.  The doors could not be pulled open then and I needed to get in Dukes of Hazzard style- through the open window.  No worries, I was irritated, but there was nothing that could be done [parts, repairs, etc] at 11pm.  So, off I go, headed home.  For those who don't know, SE Wisconsin is a deer haven.  They are fucking everywhere.  I remember being a child, riding with my mom and dad in mom's little blue chevette- really late at night, deer in the middle of the road.  Dad thought it would be cool to freak me out a little- try and hit the deer by speeding up and stopping just in time before we would have hit it.  So I'm on my way home, and a deep walks out in front of my car.  Driving 55mph coming into a slight curve in the road, I literally had enough time to say OH SHIT and SMACK right into it.  My hands came off my steering wheel the moment I said OH SHIT, and my car spun in circles.  As my car spun, BOTH of my doors swung wide open, I hung onto the head rest of my seat for dear life.  I had no plans to be ejected from my spinning death machine at 55.  My car crashed into a telephone pole.  But as my doors were swinging open, when I crashed, my drivers side door was open, and the telephone was next to me.  Basically I landed, my body slid underneath my steering wheel and I was pinned next to the telephone pole.  My right arm hurt so badly I thought it was broken.  [That was the arm wrapped around the headrest as my car was spinning out of control].  I was bleeding all over the place.  When I left work, my co-worker slash neighbor, was in front of me.  She was on the phone with her mom at the time, knew I was behind her, so when she she saw my headlights spinning, she made a quick u-turn and called 911.  My arm was not broken, but it was tore to shit.  I have some pretty gnarly scars, a sensitivity to cold weather and nerve damage.  As me sometime, and I'll show it to you.  So, the car got towed [she still ran] but the frame was bent and obviously my doors would not latch.  She was a deathtrap.  I could have died, but I didn't.  Thankfully.

Here is a list of vehicles* that came after her; along with their cause of demise.
*not necessarily in order.

'67 cutlass [my friend's car; I had to return this one.  it was borrowed to me til I could purchase one]

78 cutlass [another friends car; he sold it to me on the condition he can buy it back for demo derby]

early 80's chevette [engine blew; refused to start.  I got arrested driving this car.]

mid-late 80's thunderbird [was my ex-mom in law's car.  Hit black ice, and was sliding down a steep hill only to be stopped by a manhole opening which stuck out 3 feet from the ground.]

mid-late 80s mercury sable [something with this too.  likely water pump, and other shit that was shot]

94 plymouth laser [engine blew- the top end.  supposedly could have been repaired.  there was oil everywhere.]

1992 chevy s10 pickup. [hit a deer, BOUNCED BACKWARD as it smashed in my radiator and grill.  Still okay to drive, but the radiator would not hold up. Those radiators were finicky in the 90s; they went out regularly and the trucks overheated.]

80 something ford taurus [probably a water pump, and something else.  Interestingly, I did hit a deer with this car too.  didn't crash, but killed a fawn.]

98 geo metro [sold it to my sister in law. she drove it til it died.]

94 ford escort [pretty sure my ex and I drove this til it died]

1996 dodge neon [sold that to current bf's older brother.  they killed it somehow]

2010 ford winstar [sprocket in transmission broke.  extremely costly to repair for me.  ex refused to help, so I sold it super cheap.]

** It should be worthy to note that between the above and below vehicles, I did not have a car for nearly a year.

1989 honda accord [someone hit my front end,  it was fine for a while then after that, it refused to run.  water leaked into the car profusely, and i'm pretty sure my computer flooded out.]

1996 VW golf [engine blew.  see a trend?]

BTW>>I'm almost positive there is at least one or two more that I cannot for the life of me remember.

My most recent car, was one I fell absolutely in love with.  I saw it at the Honda dealership when I had my accord in to be evaluated [due to the computer issue/ not running/starting, or running and then dying on me].  It was a 2011 Honda Civic SI.  6 speed manual, 4 door, and silver.  YUM.  I told myself I would buy this car as soon as I could afford it.  It was that sexy.  Leap forward.. after the accord died, I spent another few months WITHOUT  A VEHICLE.  Commuting to school, and relying upon my family [thank you, an infinite amount over.  you seriously saved me.]  Gpa lent me some money so I could purchase a something to drive.  Something to at least get me around.  That was the Golf.  After it died, I scrapped the car.  Spent another period of time WITHOUT a vehicle.    Again.  Relied upon some generous co-workers to grab me or take me to /from the train everyday.  I lived in IL but worked in WI.  Since I was in college for a year, I was able to get a large portion of money back for my income tax return.  Like, more than I was used to.  I had decent work too at the time, the wages were good, and I figured I was set.  I put the large chunk of money down on my dream car.  3 months after my down payment, I lost my job.  I tried to amp up my direct sales at that time [I was an advisor for lia sophia] with zero success.  I brainstormed with my girlfriend, who came over, consoled me as I was crying [no job + no money = i'm gonna lose my apartment, and fast].  She helped me send out my resume all over the place, and together we racked our brains to find out among our friends [mostly service industry] could help me with a job.  That day led me to my very first Executive Chef job.  So, barely scraping by, I made my payments, moved, struggled.  That job ended; the rug was pulled out from underneath me, for reasons still unknown.  My guess is too talented for the amount of money they were actually willing to pay me.  I'm not certain, but nothing was ever said.  I was lucky enough to befriend a few people who were seriously interested in me & my chef services in the off season anyway, and I was able to score a few gigs, but nothing regular.  So, barely scraping by, having no savings and absolutely NO luck getting any sort of government assistance at that time, I moved.  Again. Back to WI. Moved in with a girlfriend, who bragged to everyone at her clinic that she had a private chef living with her [in exchange for running children everywhere].  That started a private lunch service, and the menu was a huge hit. Got another decent tax return, and hoarded that for a while.  My gpa was sick; my family brought him to wisco for better treatment.  I continued to struggle and make payments.  My gf was getting married and moving to florida, so I moved.  Again.  I tried to budget better, but sometimes I spent money because I could.  During this time I also helped out a friend at his restaurant for cash, and picked up random privat chef gigs, as well as a much despised cleaning gig.  [I HATE cleaning; especially for other people.  My client knows that, and there is an agreement.  If I need cash, I can always clean for them.  Although by now, I need to raise my rates.  Sorry, but not sorry.]  I intentionally refused work during gpa's last few months, so that I could be there to help my family.  I dropped the private lunch service.  I intentionally didn't follow up with menus for my dinners to go program.  I needed to be there for my family; I knew this.  Caring for someone who is dying is an incredible process, and should not be undertaken alone. I finally landed a gig, about 3 weeks after my gpa passed away. Right after he passed, I drove my gf's truck and borrowed trailer to FL. 2 days and one blown trailer tire later [on the freeway no less!!], I arrived.  I stayed with her folks for a week, and my kids thought it was the best trip they had ever had.  By now, I am yet again struggling to make my car payments.  3 weeks before I left for NYC, I interviewed for my dream company in the town I lived in.  I could walk or ride my bike to work.  I had given my notice to my current company and had begun working PT at the new job in order to incorporate.  I had a private dinner and a wedding on my docket, plus I worked FT and now PT.  The week before I left for NYC, my car was repossessed.  While I was at work ["old job"].   And I still had a wedding to cater.  I quit ["old job"] a week earlier than anticipated.  Grudgingly, my bf let me borrow his car so that I could get through that week of work leading up to the wedding and finish catering the wedding.  I started my new job before I left for NYC,  and went FT as soon as I got back.

I don't have a car.  It has only been a few weeks since the repo, and I felt the guilt and shame go away with the car when I handed the keys over.  Having a car repo'ed is embarrassing.  But i'm telling you.  I work in my town and can commute easily on foot to get whatever it is that I need right now.  I have come to accept that I seriously am not meant to have a vehicle.  I have the track record to prove it.  My lovely ex used to joke with me that I had a serious car curse. [I knew him since the LeMans] I've never had a vehicle for more than a year, two at the most. This list has literally been half of my life.

I have, however, had my bicycle for nearly 15 years.  It has not failed me yet.  Perhaps slow motion peddle cranks are the way to go.

::knocks wood::

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

It's been some time.

Hi all.  It has been just over 5 years since I've last written on this precious blog o' mine.  I kind of gave it up for a while.  Life happened; things got messy.  Instead of turning here to work out my issues as they were- I met them head on, and handled life the only way I knew how: both hands in, head down, and messy.  I didn't write all of the things that happened, frankly, because I wanted to spare my family.  It is a lot of scrutiny to place one's family on the world stage; especially when that family begins to unravel.

So. Have I accomplished anything?  That depends on who you ask.  An outsider looking in, you may not think so.  Knock on the door, initiate conversation, then ask a few questions only to learn that I have accomplished several things, and yet learned so much more.

In 2010, I decided to leave my husband, thereby breaking up our family.  I made the conscious decision to not let our separateness affect parenting our children.  I set about doing a lot of internal work on myself.  I knew the path would unfold at the right time; I just didn't know when/where/how or why.  I knew I had to trust I was making the right decision for myself and doing the right thing for my kids.

In 2011, I experienced an epiphany at work.  At this time, I was roughly 2-2.5 years into my new job.  Two years was about my normal expiration date before I go completely stir crazy and jump ship [usually industry also].  The realization was, as I was standing behind my 10 burner/2 oven stove, that if I never did anything different in my life, I would be perfectly content cooking for the rest of it.  That specific task- cooking food, making meals, is something I would be doing at home for my friends and family anyway, so it did not matter when, where or who I worked for, that was THE task that I would be doing.

Early 2012 I made the decision to make culinary "official" on my resume. After I researched a bit, sold everything I owned, moved to Illinois with my aunt, I enrolled in culinary school full time.  I also worked part time, as my schedule would not allow for more working hours due to homework and commuting to/from Chicago for school.  I also left my kids in their father's care.  I could devote several blog posts to this [I may in the future, or I may not] "abandonment" of my kids so I could "enrich" their lives in the future.  I cannot count the many, many nights I cried myself to sleep, questioned my decisions, and wondered if it was all for naught.

In 2013 after attending school for a year, and working at various places along Chicago's North Shore, I dropped out of college and focused on working full time.  Between working FT and testing the relationship waters, there were a plethora of lessons to be learned.  Of them, set goals, was likely one of the most important.  I smashed some of my goals; others were pushed off for another time.

2014 is when I made the move to corporate; only to discover that I hated it.  I'm pretty sure they hated me too, and frankly that's perfectly okay.  I also found myself in the position as an Executive Chef for the very first time. 2014 was a series of bold moves for me: staking my claim and soldiering on, exec chef status, moving [twice], taking FT placement of my youngest [more tears for me; they have slowed but not stopped], then finally starting my own private business. I was forced to relocate back to Wisconsin, as the work I had and the income was not sufficient to keep myself and youngest child housed.

This year, 2015 was declared my century of soul-care.  My business expanded, where I continued to chase down any leads I could.  Gpa fell ill [he was sick long before he let us know; he knew for about 5 years before he decided to tell us] and was whisked to Wisconsin for better care so we could all be closer to him.  During this year, my life has felt like a constant upheaval.  I put my business leads on hold so I could focus on being present for my aunts, mom, gma & gpa.  Simultaneously I have felt as though everything around me was exploding & imploding; akin to the birth of a star.  Things are coming together and falling apart all at the same time, even still.

Have I Accomplished Anything?  Surely I have.  These tidbits are mere scratching on the surface of my life thus far.  Where am I now?  Present.  Trying to follow the direction my path has led me in. I set my intentions, and trusted the universe to lead me.  Things happen exactly when they are supposed to, and not before.  Life, as defined by others, feels forced.  Striving for an authentic life, there are sacrifices to be made.  I don't know where this fits in- art, life, food, etc.  I needed to start to get these things off my chest; more to life I suppose.  I've come a very long way in 5 years; hell, this year alone I've covered a lot of ground.  I still have a lot to learn, and will continue with an open mind and open heart.  Love is oftentimes difficult, and plagued with grief.  That is the trade-off I suppose.