Saturday, January 28, 2012

Let's Talk: Going to Culinary School?, and Certain Disappointments

I'm terribly sorry to continue being irregular in my writing habits despite promising otherwise. How exactly to factor writing into my life is still confusing. I want to do it regularly since I find it relieving, soothing, and good for the mind, but it's difficult to construct that right practice where I can write well and often without it being unproductive. When I still maintained the notion that I wanted to be a professional writer it was easy to write almost everyday at length, keeping up with meticulous outlines and everything. When I lost that desire and didn't know what I wanted to be I kind of coasted from there, and since deciding to be culinary-oriented I tried minimizing it in order to make time for other things. But the desire persists, and when I restrain myself for too long it feel immensely satisfying to finally unleash the energy in a post. However, I must be constructive in my thinking and productive in my endeavors, so I should figure out a better way to incorporate writing into my life on a regular basis to take advantage of its wonderful effects while still not feeling burdened.

But while I contemplate that, let me ramble a bit. I secondarily apologize for being negative lately, but I have been having my energy build up a little too much, moving me to resort to this as an outlet.

Lately, I'll admit, I've been feeling a very odd, fundamental disappointment in life, odd in that it causing me to stare at the ground lately rather than hold my head, and chipping away at my self-confidence to push and make things better. In short, I'm unhappy with my career, my relationships, and my home life.

As per my new year's resolutions, my hierarchy of goals is to pursue a second job and then to search for my own apartment. I've been a dish washer for two years and have yet to get into even so much as prep work, so I want to at long last break into the fine dining industry in order to get started on my serious career ambitions, and to use that increased income to get away from my lousy landlord whom I detest and find is holding me back.

During the start of my job hunt is when this bleakness seems to have set in. After applying to my first kitchen I just got hit with this sense of hopelessness as if there's nothing I can do to succeed in life. Daunted by the caliber of the dining room, it feels almost unobtainable, and as if the confounding factors of my life make everything impossible.

I may go to culinary school, but the hierarchy as I've set it is important. Currently I cannot afford to live entirely alone and so live with an old lady whom I rent a room from, meaning when live in the same house. To do this, I need a second job. But perhaps that second job in fine dining is better sought with a culinary education? The problem here is that I sense my landlord is holding me back, as she has an uncanny and unwelcome similarity to the family members I worked so hard over a course of a year to get out of my life. It's downright absurd, almost as if she could actually be just another rotten family member.

Oh, I could do a laundry list of things, and will to vent things. For one, she's an alcoholic like my mother was -- one time she even got so drunk as to start yelling at one in the morning and act like a schoolgirl to me and my displeased roommate -- and tends to be driven by her whims and emotions as my mother was, as she fluctuates in her behavior and has irrationally fluid estimates of people. She's nearly as "Other People" obsessed as my grandmother is, as she's more concerned with appearance than she is with substance (for instance, she decorates the house despite the fact nobody partakes in it -- she rarely has visitors -- and lives an otherwise dull, idle life of largely watching T.V. and playing computer games), and crafts and fakes her emotions, never being sincere. She has lots of financial problems -- like my mother did -- that she's hiding from me, that affects me in the form of unpaid utility bills despite my having paid my share. She can be bossy and controlling like my grandmother too, and equally as evasive, as she's impolite in sharing her opinions, totally ignores what anyone says to the contrary, repeats her opinion verbatim in response, and sometimes won't let go of the issue and continue bringing it up in the follow weeks and months despite my clear disdain at going in those circles. And the worst of all similarities, like most of my family, she has deluded herself into believing that her problems are outside of herself and due to either other people or circumstances out of her control, so combined with her fundamental evasive nature she's in denial about her problems and continues coasting in her self-destruction.

Most contemptuously, she takes advantage of me and my roommate. She's a full-blown moocher in that his and I'sand qualifies as a thief since she takes my utility money and spends it on things unknown, as I find out when the utility bill is either unpaid, has a penalty on it, or she confesses to not paying.

Since our relationship is different than that of my family, she doesn't bother me as much as they did since I can go days without having to see her. Nonetheless, she is an interference since I've reestablished the temptation to stake out in my room when I hear her roaming downstairs, as I don't want to cross paths with her in the kitchen. Her evasion of my dislike of her leads her to ramble and try and shoot the breeze with me -- like my grandmother did -- even as I make clear I don't want to interact. This is really holding back my cooking practice and general improvement, since I'm tempted everyday to restrain myself just to have the luxury of avoiding her. My pantry space is dwarfish too, and am restricted in what kind of foods I can buy consequently.

As such, my primary goal this year is to get into an apartment of my own and live totally alone, free of any roommates. My dominant problem in life is that I've always been forced to deal with people who were toxic to my happiness, whether it be my mentally unstable mother, my grandmother who begs me to cater to her anxieties, or landlord who is an interfering pest. Additionally, she has another tenant across the hall from me who is a thug, as he got paranoid one evening that I went into his room and threatened me with a hunting knife. I'm simply tired of having to deal with these people, as they reduce my overall quality of life and keep me from performing at my best. One of the best periods in my life is when I had a house to myself for beyond an entire year, as I went on an outrageous self-improvement spree and was enormously satisfied with my life with nothing truly able to get in the way then. I love becoming the best human I can be, and I find it easiest and most productive to have my own living space to conduct myself that way. Having a room is not enough. I don't shun people in general, it's just that I dealt with far too many louses harmful to my well-being. I don't want to take the risk of getting in another bad situation by moving in another household, so my highest desire this year is to get into a good, safe apartment. My current room is pretty crowded since I have almost enough property to satisfactorily supply a small apartment, only I got desperate to leave Michigan and so rented a room in compromise, only to have to stuff everything in here.  I know having my own apartment would mean paying higher expenses in rent, but it's going to be too well worth it.

So the conundrum is that in order to be able to afford my own apartment I need to get a second job, but I want that second job to be in fine dining since I want to move forward with my career goals, and it may be best to get a culinary degree, even at a cheap community college, to have a fighting chance, but I find it unpalatable to have to deal with my landlord for that much longer, particularly since I think she's holding me back. Pickles. It feels like the factors are working against each other in a way that makes it impossible to resolve, making it seem hopeless. And on a practical note I view it as most reasonable to get out of here as soon as possible, as my landlord's astonishingly poor health practices make it so she could literally die any day, as her type 1 diabetes is too severe to be able to goof on a meal even once. If she goes the house goes too, and whatever money I gave her for the month.

So it's been dragging me down. I feel behind on my career, and like there's little I can do to really advance myself forth. Intellectual I already know better, that a little effort can prove me otherwise, so I just merely expressing my feelings here.

But that's not the only thing bothering me. I also feel fundamentally lonely, and unappreciated as a human being. This point feels hard to convey since I have difficulty expressing myself on this front. It's hard to connect to people often because all my life I've taught to bottle up my emotions -- my mother was freakishly unpredictable in her responses to my emotions (causing me to hide them from her), my grandmother would urge me to mystically make my bad emotions go away and to feel positive ones, as if I could change them by pulling levers; and my grandfather was scary since he threatened to hit me one day after school merely because I was sad. When I tried reaching out to my friends they often turned out to be spiritually mooching narcissists, as, after all the talking about them and dealing with their problems I would do, they would be totally disinterested and abandon me whenever I came to them a scant few times. I've tried to be open for a long time -- years -- but in the end I was treated like a turtle stuffed into his shell rather than voluntarily withdrawing. Consequently, when I get upset nowadays I frequently lie to others about my well-being even as I'm visibly not, and refuse to elaborate. I fear expressing myself like that will lead to explosive hostility like I received from my elders or the evasive refusal to deal with issues as I suffered from past friends, so I continue bottling things up to this extent since I don't trust people in general on this line. Again, I know better here, but the difficulty is that I've been keeping up the practice for so long that it's hard to break it since I don't know how. Exactly how should one conduct himself in expressing his troubles like this? I don't know how to initiate the conversation -- which is partly why I writing it out here -- and continue resorting to bottling it up and hiding.

I feel unappreciated as a human being because people have for long either expected values from me that they weren't willing to return (such as relatives who would ignore my suffering and yet expect me to comfort them) or valued me for trivial matters (such as women do of my looks, or certain friends of my personality aesthetics) or for things totally divorced some substance (such as the default love my family gave me, for no other reason than the fact I'm biologically related to them). God I just want someone to talk and connect to! My friendships don't go deep enough to satisfy, the women in pursuit of my looks don't stoke my fires, and all this becomes more frustrating by my current inability to convey these needs. Oh damnation to it!

The one thing I recognize right off that I need to address is that these feelings tend to make me act in a way that brings forth a self-fulfilling prophecy, where one acts irrationally in a way as to confirm a negative belief. I believe that other people will never become a deep value to me, I withdraw in personality, and when people logically get pushed away the prophecy gets fulfilled. Vicious circle.

Alright, having vented, how shall I address this?

Well, on the career and home front, I recognize that deal with my landlord isn't THAT horrendous. She incapacitates me in but a few areas, beyond which I am unhindered. It might not be so intolerable to delay the apartment so much as to be able to attend to a culinary education, especially since my primary cooking practice would be on that campus and not her kitchen, and I could always do my homework someplace else, like the library. But that doesn't exclude a continuing job hunt in fine dining; they can be done concurrently. Besides, I've hardly started my job hunt -- I've only seriously applied to one place so far -- so it's ridiculous, really, for me to get demotivated so soon. This week I'll continue doling up professional documents and applying, as well as looking into culinary schools and investigating financial aid. Most likely I'll consider a community college, as I merely want to get enough of an edge to get into the position I want, as I trust myself enough to engage in self-education beyond the classroom, life-long. Though, if I do get a fine-dining position I'll probably forgo the culinary education altogether and move on with my life from that standpoint. My landlord, in the meanwhile, can go to heck. When I can afford a safe apartment I'm out of here.

On the people front, I think I just need to nudge myself to be open and connect. In simple terms, one has to be a friend to have friends. I simply need to push through the temptation to shell up and push people away. Though, I could do well to find a better source of people to connect with, such as by attending more Objectivist events or culinary-related gatherings.

I'll get what I want somehow. I've never given up yet.     

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