Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mise En Place

"Mise En Place"- means everything in its place. It's french, y'all. Before a chef begins cooking, the chef will dice their onions, prepare their cuts of meats, chiffonade their basil. The prep work before the actual cooking begins. 

As a food aficionado--read absolutely obsessed with everything food-- I related this term to most of my "adult" life thus far. All my schooling, internships, jobs that paid barely above minimum wage, tiny apartments, crazy roommates, being insanely poor were all the mise en place of my real life. All of this was just julienning before the actual living would begin. I did everything I was supposed to do: I went to a top tier university, I was a Dean's list kid, belonged to multiple honors societies. I got a couple resume building temp jobs after graduation, and then moved to Boston to complete an MBA. During my MBA I took on an array of internships, I was a teaching assistant, and aced my classes. I did everything I was supposed to do to be a contributing member of society. I gave to charity, I volunteered, I networked, I was politically involved. I paid my taxes. I had my foot in the door with a Fortune 500 corporation. I completed my mise en place, I was ready to roll up my sleeves, grease my pans and caramelize my onions.  But just as I started heating the olive oil in my pan (not vegetable oil, pick a better oil if that's what you use),  my sleeve caught on fire and burned down the whole god damn kitchen.

I've been wanting to create this blog for awhile.  Since this past April actually. It wasn't due to laziness that I never started, or lack of time. I've had plenty of time, but I lacked courage.  9 months ago my life completely fell apart and then subsequently, I fell apart. 

My recipe for life implosion: Started with a bowl of "I've been in the USA my entire adult life because my family transferred here due to my dad's job", then sifted with an array of incompetent immigration attorneys, garbage immigration legislation, all folded together with an expiring visa. This produced a deflated soufflé, a deflated ego, and having to abandon everything I've known since I was a teenager to start up life again in my native Canada.

The initial concept of  my blog centered around my love of food relating to my new life in Vancouver, and learning how to be Canadian again. Talking about how great it is to discover amazing, new places to eat, thriving in another new city, and comical cultural differences. None of those things happened by the way- instead I felt like a complete failure pile of sadness. Ashamed that instead of finding a brilliant new job, a new apartment, falling in love with my new city, and magically losing all the stress weight I've put on, all while simultaneously enjoying the holy beejesus out of life-- I completely fell apart. I left Vancouver. I despised it immediately. IMMEDIATELY. After a few weeks, I packed my bags, and went into hiding.  

In my former life in Texas/ New England I used to wake up early everyday, watch the news, drink my coffee, do crosswords and tackle the day with a bounce in my step. Once upon a time people would frequently remark that I'm always smiling--that smile ceases to exist currently. More recently my reality is a fitful, unresting sleep. I usually manage to find the energy to rise out of bed by around 11am. I fix coffee, watch TV, apply for a plethora of jobs, and usually wind up back in bed crying intermittently for the duration of the day. Evening rolls around, I take a sleeping pill around 9, but rarely drift off before 1 or 2 am. I am in bed for the overwhelming majority of the day. Crying over my lost life. They're not gentle, elegant tears that would be featured in a music video of some cheese ball love ballad. But sobs that tear violently at my body, most distinctly in my stomach.  It's heavy, unrelenting pain. It feels as if the pain physically exists within me, and uses sharp talons to claw its way out and attack the rest of me. I normally shrivel into the shape of a shrimp minus the exoskeleton. I've lost my spine, my dignity, my ability to stand up straight and continue with my life. Days go by before I get dressed, before I leave the safety of my surrounding walls. Calls ignored. Emails ignored. I disappear. I don't want anyone to know where I am, what I'm doing. Why would I continue to fight for a life I never wanted? The life I wanted was ripped away from me, and told I could never have it. Why would I let people know of my demise?

So here I am: 27. Completely and utterly broke. Unemployed. I have CRUSHING student debt for a very expensive masters degree. My clothes stopped fitting a few months ago. Single (which my grandmother constantly reminds me that makes me a failure of a person). I live in a tiny room my brother and sister in law use for storage. I gave away 90% of my possessions when I moved, most of what I have left is still in a few boxes. Worst of all, I'm in my hometown. Somewhere I swore I'd never return. I'm the premise of a romantic comedy on the Lifetime network, or Hallmark, whatever. Girl who goes off to venture the world, lives a somewhat glamourous existence and returns back to her hometown with nothing to show for her near decade away. Instead of owning a brownstone, a shiny job and a career worth talking about, the girl cannot go more than a few hours without breaking into tears. 

Of course this isn't a romantic comedy. It's my life. And it makes people uncomfortable when I try to talk about how I feel. Instead I'm cut off and offered downright insulting and dismissive platitudes. So here's my blog. I'm depressed. I've lost everything. I feel like a fucking failure and I worked my ass off only to have it all taken away. I also go through bouts of rage about the situation. At least when I'm angry I tend to do laundry.  But I'm tired of looking in the mirror and not recognizing the broken little girl staring back at me. I'm tired of crying myself to sleep every night. I'm tired of life kicking the shit out of me. 

So it stops. All of it stops. This is a blog about how I rebuild. but will include my frustrations, my weak moments. If anyone posts an empty platitude. I will publicly call you out. I don't want to hear that. It's dismissive of a struggle. When people are going through a rough time WHAT THEY NEED IS TO BE HEARD. They do not want you to say, "but you have so much to be grateful for." Fuck you, that's not helpful. its insulting. What we need is someone to say, "That really sucks." No sugar coating, no bullshit silver lining. Just shut your god damn pie hole and LISTEN. And if you get uncomfortable hearing people say painful things then do not offer to "be there." You're not "being there", you're just making someone feel guilty about opening up because you cannot handle negative emotions. 

Today, the debilitating crying, the overwhelming depression, the sorrow that immobilizes me, it all stops. I'm emotionally exhausted, and tired of not recognizing myself in the mirror, I'm tired of the lethargy, the apathy. I want to find my spark again. So I will. 

I'm also going to try and cut out sugar. But not in my morning coffee. What am I, an animal?

This is my blog. It will be about food. It will be about my efforts to stop being depressed. It will contain curse words. Rants. Frustrations. Successes. It won't be the fake, merry picture people post online about their life. It'll be gritty. It'll be a genuine look at life for those of us that don't have life just fall into place magically. It's for those of us that fight and struggle for every teeny step forward, but are constantly pushed miles back without warning. 

 I don't apologize in advance. 


  1. Solid writing. But why make your self worth dependent on things you can't control? You can't control being hired into your dream job no matter how good your intentions. You can control a) being as healthy & fit as you could possibly be b) spreading some love to people and things you care about, and c) what you care about (hint hint).

  2. About 8 years ago I left the city I fell in love with, the place I thought I would live for the rest of my life, to move back to my hometown. The difference is that my move was technically by choice. It was by most measures the right decision at the time and quite a few good things have happened to me as a result. However, this does very little to dull the ache I still feel after 8 years to go 'home'. I feel your pain (well, some of it).