I've done a lot of embarrassing and stupid things during this quarter of culinary school. There was that time I caught my apron on fire, for instance. Or the time I gashed my hand boning chickens and didn't notice for about fifteen minutes. Once, I was told to roast red peppers and ended up making a muddle of it all, not blacking them enough and almost losing one to the gaping hole of the range. But it's not even that high-level stuff always that flummoxes me. Based on my performance in class, you'd think I couldn't: 1. fry an egg, 2. remember that metal pans in the oven get hot (I've burned myself three times on this oversight), 3. soft-boil an egg, or 4. make steamed rice.

I'm not sure what it is, but it seems that as soon as I cross the threshold of the kitchens, I lose basic culinary skills. I become all thumbs and sort of dim-witted. I think a lot of this has to do with feeling totally intimidated by all the other students who seem to have some sort of native skill set that I don't have. It's the skill set that allows them to salt entrees perfectly or cut allumettes that don't look like a blind two-year old was in charge. Good thing I've not really planning on trying to compete with those people for jobs, right?

The single most humiliating experience happened earlier this week, though. We were making some stewed beef and needed beef stock. The stock we had to work with was in this huge container, probably holding about about 4 gallons. The stock had been frozen and then thawed...sort of. There was a huge chunk of ice in the center. The chef instructor told me to remove the ice and then scoop out the stock I needed. So, I went to, grabbing the block of ice. I got the cube almost to the top of the container when it slipped. And it fell. Back into the huge vat of stock. I'm sure you've seen where this is going: there was an explosion of beefy juice EVERYwhere. It looked like a scene in a movie where an underwater charge goes off and sends spray from heck to breakfast.

I got drenched. I soaked the floor. I even got stock somehow between my apron and coat. I reeked of cow parts and onion the rest of the night. Fortunately, the other person who got hit by beef splash just found it funny and everybody else was not paying close enough attention to notice what I had done.

I keep telling myself that it'll get better, that once I'm in the world of flour, sugar, creaming and the baked goodness that I love; that things won't turn out so poorly; that I'm not a totally lost cause. I hope that's true. I also hope, someday, to put on my chef's coat and not suddenly wonder where that demiglace smell is coming from. I'm not sure which of those hopes is the easiest to fulfill, but I'm not ready to give up on either just yet.

Most of the time, I feel the way about love that Alice does in the novel The Romantic Movement when she's decided to break up with Eric. He tries to convince her to stay by saying "I love you" and she thinks:

So many hopes surround the word, one may with confidence take love out of its packet in the midst of almost any crisis, and count on it having a miraculous effect, a complete loss of critical faculties accompanied by salival, beatific grins.

“May I ask why you’re currently making my life insufferable, abusing my credit card, polluting my bathroom, wrecking my kitchen and playing pin-ball with my mind? Ah, I see. It’s because you love me. Oh, well now I understand, in that case, fine, go ahead, and don’t forget to burn down the house and hit the other cheek before you’re done.”
But lately, and much to my dismay, I've been lonely for some sort of romantic interest. Though, interest isn't exactly the right word, since there's lost of people floating around that I'm interested in. So, a romantic counterpart, perhaps? Someone to spend time with, to share my affection, to be on the same team with, and, of course, annoy and be annoyed by, hate occasionally and care about in that way that only really comes when there's a combination of emotional and physical ties.

I fear I'm feeling a bit desperate about all this, but hopefully not acting it. Also, I'm so hideously shy in this arena that I'm basically paralyzed and stagnating. It probably doesn't help that fewer and fewer of my friends are single, in the sense that they're married. Maybe the mood'll pass, right? And then I can go back to being the person who's (almost) mostly alright with living and dying solo.