I know, cheesy start, but if you’re into television series, then you’ll get my references. I think.
Have you ever read a James Patterson mystery? His novels often start with a jolt – a jarring crime, a thrilling chase, and a haunted hero are crammed into the opening pages. I’m a fast reader – not as fast as my friend Megan, but fast enough to prefer not to read an article with certain people. Books, for me, need to offer a reflection of society but also need to move at a pace to force me to turn pages as quickly as my eyes can move along a page. When this happens in real life, you get to taste what my past month has been – well, sans murder, intrigue, or a haunting.
Okay, here’s the quick season premier reminder of what happened in the last episode. Again, sans the doe-eyed beauties, sun-bleached blondes, and rock hard abs found in mysteries and television shows.
I finished my work at the Modernist Cuisine lab on Monday, Aug 21st-ish. While I was in Chicago, Josh had moved all of our belongings — 50% of which are kitchen-related, according to Spencer, who probably carried several boxes labeled “kitchen” — from our one-bedroom, early-twentieth century flat to our newer studio apartment. Yep, I was wining and dining at Charlie Trotter’s, and Josh was moving all of our stuff. (I know, karma isn’t on my side right now)
I had four days off to unpack the apartment, hang pictures, clean the old apartment, and move furniture around. I suppose to some that’s a glorious amount of time, but I probably still spent more time trying to catch my breath than being efficient.
On Monday, August 27th, I started my new job.
So about getting another new job.
I have had a time at changing jobs quite a bit. Some of it has been a timing issue, some of it has been that the type of job I’ve worked had a short shelf life. A lot of it has been because the jobs were stepping stones gradually leading me to the next point of my rather circuitous route.
When I left the Air Force at the end of 2006 and moved to Pueblo, Colorado, I experienced the bumpiest career change I could have imagined. In addition to the inherent differences between military and civilian employment, I was wrestling with the VA and some lingering medical conditions resulting from a car accident. I also had to pick up and develop a career and a vision for what I was now going to do for the next decades of my life, since Blue wasn’t my schtick anymore. I was probably the worst person I could have been, and it’s rather amazing I got through the transition with all relationships intact and somewhat stronger. (Josh!)
So, while in Pueblo, I worked at a health food store, an apartment complex, a fitness center, three coffee shops, a news-magazine publishing and marketing business, and a community college. I also opened – and subsequently closed – a nutrition consulting business. I worked for good people, but what I ultimately learned from many of those positions is that I am … a bit unique in what I want to do with my life.
I decided that I should dive fully into my nutrition science background, so I decided that the best thing would be to attend a graduate program. This was inspired by the urge to move to a bigger city, the restlessness that I have gotten regularly every two years or so, and the desire to overachieve and sound impressive (which just prideful).
I applied to dietetic internship programs and masters programs nationwide, feeling confident that with Pepperdine and life experience on my resume, I was a competitive applicant. In Fall 2008, advanced degree programs experienced one of the highest volume of applications that they’d seen in years. I was not a competitive applicant. I didn’t get a single offer.
I don’t know that words could really describe how devastating that was.
I know, it’s just a graduate program. But I felt like I didn’t have the chops to be a scientist, that I wasn’t actually good at anything, and that I wasn’t contributing to my family and providing for it the way I’d intended. Thoughts really spiral when allowed to carry one in a tragic vein like that. Fortunately, Josh isn’t one to let me wallow in my self-pity. We decided that our desire to move was still valid, so we chose to move back to Seattle, where Josh grew up.
Seattle, at least at the beginning, echoed Pueblo. I got involved with a start up that had a great idea but didn’t have the financial means to carry it through the Recession, when the customer base was really small, rents were high, food was costly, and the labor sought better paying jobs. One manager did work for free at great cost to her health, but her belief in the vision was so strong, that she dedicated herself to the work until the CEO decided that he better shelve the idea for later days.
I also taught at a community college for a year, learned front-of-house restaurant flow as a maitre d’hotel, and freelance wrote, contributing articles to Livestrong and Demand Studios. While spending my time doing these things, I honed my understanding of my skills, my interests, and my passions. I knew that food, cooking, writing, and science were core disciplines.
A highly respected mentor of mine suggested that I attend culinary school and find an outlet that married my passions, such as recipe development and food research, which is similar to the work I’d done with the start up. Graham Kerr’s recommendation reinforced what Josh had been telling me, and when I started considering the idea, it felt like someone was refocusing the lens.
Graham encouraged me to compare the different culinary schools in the local area, and he pointed out the Seattle Culinary Academy as his first choice, were he to attend a school. He had visited the program and had even given a presentation there. A good friend was a chef instructor there. The school offered a special veteran’s educational discount. It was a 9 minute walk plus 10 minute bus ride from my flat. All the pieces were so obvious. I was going to culinary school. And I started this blog to chronicle that experience.
So…back to the new job.
I have a new job just 8 months after my last new job. But I actually think this one is different, because it’s one that was hired with the intent of it being a long-term position. The food industry often has quick turnover, because cooks gain skills and move to new positions in the kitchen as they grow. When the restaurant has taught them all they can, the cooks can move somewhere that will require more learning. And so, when you look at my work history in that light, my progression (mostly) makes sense. Long-term isn’t typical of cooking jobs, and long-term isn’t common for many entrepreneurial endeavors, freelance work, or adjunct professorships. That’s been the bulk of my experience since ’06. So, all said, it’s not an especially fickle record.
This job… well, you’ve been reading enough. Until the next episode.