Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And Stick to Taking Orders, Please

School starts for me in one week. I can hardly believe it's come up so fast; I'm still telling people that I'm thinking about looking into becoming a teacher. I'm scared. I'm afraid I'll feel out of place, that I'll get overwhelmed, that I won't like it. I'm afraid I won't do well. I'm afraid I'll be the oldest in the class.

I'm interviewing for jobs again. It seems to go in mysterious cycles - I probably apply for approximately the same amount of jobs over time, but I go through periods where I don't get calls for interviews and periods where I do. All of the interviews so far, of course, have turned out the same, but I feel particularly anxious about this latest round. I have to say certain things, use certain words and phrases, in these meetings to convince others that I've been a professional person before. And when I hear myself talk like I used to talk . . . I feel like an impostor. Like an impostor and like a person who is giving up something important. Signing away their share of ownership in something valuable. I don't like it. I know it's just one last Shitty Banking Job to carry me through school, but I've never had a job without it taking over my life. I'm worried I don't know how to do it. I'm sure it seems that after the past year and a half and all that surfing it should come easy. But what's a year and a half compared to 16 years? Or 39?

With the recent heatwave, I haven't been able to run for almost a week. And before that, I was having some stomach cramping while running so I had to cut my runs short. So now it feels like it's been forever since I've had a long, satisfying jog. And I don't really feel like myself. I've been eating shitty foods and letting outside pressures or perceived pressures influence my food choices. My body doesn't like it and neither do I.

Let me tell you a story.

I've been doing a ton of dating lately. A hundred first dates, a handful of second dates, two third dates. Pretty much all really cool guys, and I've learned something important from each experience. It's been fun and good for me, but I admit that I'm getting kind of tired of the whole routine.

But two guys made it through the screening process pretty far, and I went out to brunch with one of those guys last weekend. We went to a place where the table is a griddle and you make your own pancakes. The waitress told us the instructions and gave us bottles of batter, and we got started. I like mine really doughy so I began to flip my first pancake pretty early, and the waitress, who happened to be flitting by at the time, chirped from behind me, "Let it cook longer!!" Surprised because I didn't realize the price of breakfast included advice, I looked at my date, who said, "Yeah, you need to let it cook longer."

So weird, other people assuming they know what I'm trying to achieve with my pancakes.

I finished that one up and put it on my plate and dropped batter on the griddle to start another one. The first one was slightly overdone for my tastes, so I tried with each subsequent pancake to get them raw-er, but I just received more advice. "You have to wait for them to bubble," my date said. Strange. I have to? Why? So the waitress won't give me a drive-by critique again? I continued doing my own thing, which should probably be my life's slogan, and was making more breakfast and soaking up the atmosphere, listening to the sounds, thinking about my date. Pretty soon he started laughing. "What is that?" he said, pointing.

Such a foreign thought for me. Is it that the pancake has to be round for it to be called a pancake? Or is it that it only tastes right if it looks like every pancake has looked for all time?

I took out my iPhone to capture our food-illustrates-life moment and told him, "This is to show our relationship therapist later."

The important part of the story is this: A year and a half ago, my pancake would have been the one on the right. Last weekend, the pancake on the left felt sorry for the pancake on the right. And for the bitchy waitress who really needs to keep her opinions to herself. If my date hadn't called attention to it, I would have gone right along eating the best pancakes in the world - because I'd made them my way, just how I like them - not even thinking that I'd been coloring outside of the lines.

I can't help but think that surfing has had a major influence on my pancakes. I hope very, very much that I'll see the effects of surfing in the way I experience school next week, and eventually a job, and the rest of my life. I hope, I hope, I hope.


  1. Aaaaaaah I feel good reading your blog again. hehehe finally took some me time :D

    Looks like you're changing, in a very "zen" kinda way. I love the way you said "the pancake on the left felt sorry for the pancake on the right". It is true. Who defined that pancake has to be perfectly round, it's still the same batter isn't it?

    Very excited about your school, can't wait to read more about it. And good luck with the job... I'll chant for you.

  2. The important part you agree to be the magician?

    And I suck at cooking pancakes. Vahid likes them so I make them every once in a while and I try to make them all someone even so I can stack them (and put some chocolate chips between each so they get all melty). My goal is to make it look like a picture in the event I ever want to blog about a recipe and then I'd have an awesome picture to go along with it.

    Mine kind of look a dog rummaged through them. Vahid still eats them so I call it a win.

  3. a) how do you get your iphone to take such good pictures? the ones on mine always turn out pretty crappy.

    b) any restaurant where you have to cook your own food is a restaurant not worth going to in my book. i feel the same way about those goddam fondue places. boo. i'm paying exorbitant prices AND i have to cook my own food. what the hell am i here for?

    c) what the hell is that? that, my friend, can not be called a pancake. that is a panmuddle. i bet it was pretty delicious though.

  4. What a delicious entry! I found much here that resonated with me.

    I'm so glad to hear someone else articulating that feeling of being "an impostor" - I've been telling friends the same thing for years without anyone ever telling me they understood what I was saying. I think, in this case, it's because you've outgrown that box and, though you know from experience that you can do the banking jobs, there is so much more to you now which you would have to hide from them. As soon as you're hiding stuff you're an impostor, pretending to be as small as they want you to be.

    The pancake anecdote is a WONDERFUL story, and I love how you reveal your character and the character of those around you. As above, you're talking about the restrictions of conformity and your recognition that conformity doesn't meet your needs. Yes, I can see the positive influence of surfing on your approach to life. I have one question though: did you communicate to the waitress and your date that there was a reason you were making your pancakes differently? I'd have thought a simple "I prefer them raw and doughy" would have forestalled any irritation. However, the story is a marvellous parable. I think Sorata is correct to identify the wisdom in your posting, Great Sage ;)

    p.s. sometimes I get lost in the surfing jargon, but I was with you all the way with the pancakes

  5. To be fair to your date, making sure your future partner can make a decent pancake is pretty important. I tend to burn all mine, and Motto makes them as thin as crepes.

    I agree with above that a pancake post is easier to understand than a surfing one. ;)

  6. Better the batter, so ditch the dude. Our lives are cluttered by rules and conformity. As my old boss used to say, "Telling me 'this is how it's done' is not an option. Find me a better way."

  7. I love that surfing has even influenced your pancake making! This is such a great analogy, K. You've come such a long way and I, for one, fellow Type A controller like you am bursting with pride for you.

    You might very well be the oldest in class BUT at least you know who you are and what you want in life. You're more likely to get a lot more out of learning because of that. Age is just a number. If anyone judges you for it, punch them in the face.

  8. You guys are so sweet and funny. Yes, I did tell my date - twice, I believe - that I was trying to make gooey pancakes. But the explanation didn't stop the advice.

    And don't worry, Glenn. He's getting ditched this week. :)

    Also, D? That is exactly the comment I would expect from you. Exactly! Down to the new term, although I didn't guess it would be "panmuddle." But it's perfect. :)

  9. It's funny that we were both in the same type of unique restaurant recently! Mr. Perfect Pancake can suck it, a griddle is a canvas and batter is paint - I like to spell things with my batter....hee

  10. You will. You ARE.
    Go get 'em Teach!
    With pancake and surfing stories you are bound to be an inspiration to students!

  11. just stumbled on your blog - love your pancake story. definitely got me a few chuckles at work :p i did some online dating myself in the past and, wowza, it was kinda wacky.
    also, your blog name is basically the theme of my life and the way my mother tells every single story she relates to anyone who will listen. she rambles, then says "well, to make a long story short..." whereupon, at least one of us listening will say "yes, to make a long story longer..."

    nice to meet you :)