Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Rare Sighting of the Author

If they gave out an award for blog authors who are bad at keeping their writing promises I'd certainly be a candidate. Then again, perhaps it's well at the moment that I don't have a big readership right now, for if I did those concerned might call the police to scout for me.

Yes, I'm horribly inconsistent. Horribly, horribly, unforgivably so. But for a moment, let's break the deadly silence on this blog so I can talk a bit about my life. In other words, all those things I do when you aren't around to watch.

While blogging is almost perpetually on my mind, since I do sincerely want to use it somehow to enhance my writing skills, my predominant concern as of late has been regaining my passion and ambition at work. For those who have forgotten -- or have I never mentioned it? Gee, I can't remember what I've written -- I've finally gotten into a fine dining establishment after over two years worth of struggle. The food is dandy, the place is dandy, the atmosphere is dandy . . . it was worth it. Unfortunately, my mentality hasn't caught up to the level of value present before me, as I've actually been terribly bitter, unenthusiastic, and, at worst, uninterested.

Getting to this point has been rough enough to have worn my nerves. When I first started out in the restaurant industry in Michigan I was simply overflowing with ambition and excitement, and quickly became one of the best employees of my restaurant. I started out in, you could say, your typical greasy spoon, but I loved it. I had no blinding stars in my eyes from watching celebrity chefs on television: I know about the gritty kitchen reality, was prepared for it, and was satisfied to meet it. I really put myself through the rigor to improve myself, my most notable measure probably being using a stopwatch to time myself, "Mental Calvin Ball" I called it.

However, then and up until I got my current position, a string of injustices started to sting one after another, and after two years I found my passion had been depleted after working so ferociously hard for rewards other people were getting. The dish pit was always my starting position, and as the infamous problem in the industry goes, sometimes you can be a little too good of a dish washer, getting yourself trapped in the pit because competent replacements are hard to find. At my first job they dared to put immensely unqualified people in the hot line positions I had earned, some without even any restaurant experience, one who was even notoriously an alcoholic who actually came to work drunk. They largely refused to fire such people until they quit. How dare they put a drunkard above me, dangling the hot line position as an enticing promotion when they give it to him no strings attached?

When I got to Texas the frustrations continued. The sous chef of the restaurant I performed a stage for didn't help me on my job hunt much, and his mentor lied to me for a about a full year promising me a job that never materialized, nearly making me go bankrupt and forcing me to take an undesirable position at a pizza place. And then, good god, at that place I suffered the insufferable, people with self-esteem problems, bullies, loose cannon bosses, and the same injustices as in Michigan: They kept promising promotion to the hot lines and prep while they gave them readily to undeserving, absolutely inexperienced newcomers. If I worked there any longer I think I may have become mentally ill from the stress.

Now I'm at a good place and fail to fully appreciate how far I've come and what lies before me. Dead end after dead end has made me convert too much of my life to other pursuits in interests, for the inability to move forward at work motivated me to transfer my energy to other venues. Might as well not spin your tires in the air if you're not going anywhere.

Though my intelligence is leading me back. Despite the lack of interest, I know very well I don't want to leave the industry. Dish washing is still hum drum as it always is since I'm beyond mastery -- but when assigned to train in a prep task, my interest rebounds and motivation comes back. I pull out the stopwatch even, like old times, and play some Mental Calvin Ball. What I need to relearn is that passion is cultivated, not born. Its fire has weakened due to the lack of exercise these past years -- having poor kitchen facilities, working in poor environments, and whatnot -- so I'll need to actively push myself in certain tasks in order to get it back up to full heat, as it was once before.

It is coming back too . . . spark by spark. Tonight I made myself a simple trio of sauteed red bell pepper, self-steamed asparagus, and pan-fried pork chops with chili powder and pepper, and was surprised at how I enjoyed the process. It's been awhile since I've authentically enjoyed cooking. It's been awhile.

So yes, by and large I've been neglecting you because I'm more concerned with reestablishing my main interest in life as my career, as it should be for anyone. (If you spend the majority of your hours in any one thing, shouldn't you make it the most enjoyable possible?) A lot of dispassion, disappointment, and bitterness resides within me, but it ought not last much longer if I continue the course I'm pursuing now, trying to take an active interest in what's being taught, treating people better, training myself, and so on.

Outside in my home life, however, there's not much to say. I'm quite ashamed to say that I haven't been that good of a boy in nurturing his ability to concentrate, as I've too often caved into morning anxiety and lolled around a lot, making my days mostly compose of reading sporadically, writing in my introspection journal, and working lots. Oh, and lots of chocolate. It feels unmasculine to say it, but even as I stopped chocolate reviewing so long ago my interest in chocolate has not waned one bit, and I still eat as much as ever. Though even as my life inches towards the better, this is still not the ideal self-improvement driven image I have visualized for myself.

If you've followed my previous writings before you'll know I'm a major self-improvement junkie. I just love taking isolated skills -- whether they be speaking well, standing in good posture, conducting conversations differently, ad infinitum -- and honing them to reach a new level of character. I don't believe in giving lip-service to reaching your full potential; I believe in actually realizing it. My favorite saying, after all, is Rod Serling's "A giant is as a giant does." Sooner in later in one's life, you have to embody your ideals in some way to honestly be able to claim to have any ideals at all.

As paradoxical as it sounds, this means I need to undergo some self-improvement on my nature as a self-improver. Yes -- *sigh* -- that also means I must also fix my poor habits (or non-habits) in maintaining this blog, as I view writing as vital to my life, and this blog as a valuable medium for improvement. (Though I'm not making promises right now! If I did they might actually invent that award for bad authors mentioned at the start of this piece.) Mainly, I need to become more driven: My time in and out of work must be spent more wisely, in the morning before, the afternoon and evening during, and the night after work. Reaching your full potential takes a lot and a long time, so I ought to shame myself at the amount of time I am flat-out wasting these days. If a giant is as a giant does, then certainly I am a dwarf in some form at present.

Let us not get tied up in planning right now, however. I fear that would lead to the dreaded overplanning of the past, and then the dreaded anxiety that spawns from it, and then the dreaded giving up from the dreaded anxiety. What a dreadful scenario! I'm too stubborn right now to link to my archived article on it, but what I need to do with my life is simplify to the bare essentials of my interests and values, which has been remarkably hard. There's so many options that it's not only hard to pick from them, but also to give up one for another, or even to simply trade things that are nearly equivalent. Brainstorming all the options leads to, you can guess, overplanning . . . anxiety . . . giving up. One step at a time. The key is to experiment and learn through trial and error: I think that if one takes a conscious approach to living life to the fullest, eventually after you've spent some time measuring values and forgoing the lower ones for the higher, soon the highest essentials will show themselves. I've got an idea, but won't brainstorm aloud, right now.

As a slight though related digression, one thing that especially trips me up is the prospect of being an activist. Obviously, most of you probably already know I'm an Objectivist, a follower of Ayn Rand's philosophy, and I take great concern in being an activist for it, for, like any citizen is, I am deeply concerned with the state of the world and want to do my bit to help change course, lest I become morally responsible for calamity through passivity. I'd probably never be a tipping point for success or failure, but I do have an impact as any individual does, and that weighs on my conscience. My efforts are small, but with extreme regularity I try to commentate on articles on social networking sites about articles discussing better ideas, to encourage others to read and entertainment. A small, but still effective effort: Even as scant as the results have been, I have noticed a surprising impact on individuals I didn't expect it from.

Reaching my fullest potential is obviously my highest goal . . . but I don't want to be so involved as to become oblivious and unprepared for the world's happenings; I want to be an activist too, however I can productively fit it into my life. How to balance and incorporate? Another issue to think about.

So in summary, as of present the crux of my life is work: I'm in a career field I want to be in, and want to make work my greatest priority in improvement. However, a lot of work still needs to be done in alleviating the vast disappointments faced these past years after having worked in poorer and even hostile places, and being lied to about an opportunity. I'm largely silent here due to time mismanaged, and ideally I want to return to a life revolving around self-improvement, driven perpetually to become the absolute best human being I can. That means restructuring my mornings, work times, and nights before bed. A tall order, yet one that can be filled.

I'm not going to lie: I'm probably going to be "deadly silent" once again after this entry. Some good comic reading has given me mood to write, but on that you cannot depend for an established habit. Sooner or later, I will be a good boy and update this regularly, but not now. At least you know I'm not dead in a ditch. 

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