Monday, December 18, 2006

Chapter Four - Unwrapped

So I've finally finished a ... challenging, I suppose would be a good word... month or so. It's about 10:00 on Monday night, and I just walked back in the door after my final party until January 5th. Its odd how this blog thing works... I know I don't write as often as others, but often think to myself how I should write about this or that, and over the last few weeks I thought off and on about what I should write after the month's work was over.
Funny part is, I can't remember a spot of it at the moment. I learned this afternoon that one of my server's brother in law committed suicide last night - but she came tonight anyway just to keep her mind off things... and for the woe is me part, I am crispy with burns, have used up all of my band aids, and between the methylprednisolone for my foot, the silver sulfadiazine for my arm, and everything else I feel like I need a pill fob to get through the day. Aside from that, I am completely spent. Tired of keeping track of things, tired of standing all day, tired of answering questions, fixing everyone's problems, smiling and being introduced, and tired of waking up in the middle of every night thinking about tomorrow. At the moment, I have nothing funny to say, I'm just gonna take my dishpan hands and go to bed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chapter Three - Artwork, and The Top Ten Reasons My Mother Will Never Talk To Me Again

In the midst of my week from hell, there were a few saving graces. First of all, kids and wife - adorable. Second, the parties I catered, even though they were somewhere in the middle of a chaotic mess, went remarkably well. Walmart executives, a financial consulting firm, a random collection of Woodlynde alumni, and a birthday boy were singing our praises as we skulked in and out of each function as quickly as possible. Third, I was the lucky recipient of two pieces of artwork as the week dragged on. The first (pictured on the top of this blog) I found on the inside of a case of red peppers packaged by a company named Vantaggio all the way out in sunny California. I was so tickled by it, that I actually brought it home to take a picture of it... not because it was such a marvelous piece of work, or I was so intrigued by the O'Keeffe-esque sexuality of the piece, but more that it was such an unexpected surprise. I wondered all day how I was fortunate enough to get this particular box, or if some mad scribbler had spent the whole day drawing on the inside of cardboard pepper boxes before he/she sealed them up. Was it the outburst of a struggling artist just longing to create? An ill-conceived anatomy lesson in the middle of an otherwise uneventful pepper-packing-plant day? Perhaps it was created by a young man named Steve, trapped in an endless sea of red peppers only hoping that his girlfriend Monique would still be there waiting for him when he got home to soothe his aching feet and gently wash his produce stained hands before serving him a delicious pepper-free meal and letting him have the last Miller Light while they watched CSI Miami together.... or will Monique have gotten tired of his endless talk of peppers and box folding, and left to go north with Anthony, who shucks oysters all day, smells of the sea, and prefers CSI New York.... or maybe it was a twelve year old with a sharpie... either way, in the middle of a shitty day it cracked me up, which is almost as valuable as finding a copy of the Declaration of Independence taped to the back of a painting of dogs playing poker that you get at a garage sale.

The acquisition of the next piece was a bit more complicated. As simple as it seems, I had two different artists involved and 75 minutes of time... and at 3000 injections a minute, somewhere in the neighborhood of 225,000 wee little holes. Not to sound too much like Peter Trachtenberg, but it was a journey of sorts. For one simple little thing, I put in years of thought... not about the final piece, but the idea of it. The journey, I understand, is what's important - and at the moment I'm left with a marker of the trip.... four, actually. One to remember what I felt slipping away, one for being saved, one for luck, and one for my children. Anyway, after a little anxiety and some last minute modifications we got started... at first it's like a flu shot, and after about five minutes it's a burn that won't stop. For the next half an hour or so it's excruciating, and then, out of the blue, euphoria.

Unfortunately, for about a week or so it feels a bit like, oh, I dunno, someone just poked 225,000 holes in your arm. Plus for some odd reason, you're left with this nagging feeling that your mother will never go swimming with you again, and will look at you like you're an idiot next time she sees you. If for some odd reason this is the case, two things - 1. Just in case she doesn't know, I adore my mother more than the air I breathe. 2. Her grandchildren are too adorable, and I am holding them hostage.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Chapter Two - Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Ok, back to the worst week ever...
Aside from the pneumonia thing our week continued... Sara stayed home from work last Monday because she was under the weather, which was fine with me since it let me stay at work a little longer without having to worry about the kids. When I got home I was starting to feel it too though, as if the air in our house was a blanket of germs that enveloped everyone who entered. By Tuesday afternoon I was feverish even with the Advil schedule I was on, and all I could think about was a full week of work ahead. Wednesday the fun started, and I was full into the swing of things... 293 lunches in the morning, off to Valley Forge to set up for Thursday's Walmart exec. dinner party, then back into the kitchen.... and Thursday the countdown began, out of the house by 7:30, cooking until set-up at 3:30 (I wanted to get there by 3:15, but I had to pull over in the park for a minute - afraid that I was going to throw up in the car) and home in bed by midnight.... up again by 6:30, yadda, yadda, home at 1:15AM... and in between all of that, a surprise inspection from the Health Department, my bartender went into the hospital for a check-up and stayed for heart surgery, and Kate's mother fell down the attic steps and layed on the floor for three hours. Good times.

Ok, I started writing this post three days ago, and just came back to it right now... and things have changed a bit. My idea from the get-go was pulled from 'Pilgrim at Tinker Creek'... if you've ever read it, there is an amazing description in there of someone watching a frog at the edge of a pond being sucked dry by a giant water bug - innards liquefied by something that snuck up under water, and drained the inside of the frog out leaving just the hollow skin behind. Tragic, terrifying and beautiful all at the same time... that was the point of my post in a nutshell, to say how sucked dry I was, but since its been a few days, I have to change focus. Anyway, my bartender, Dwight, who went into the hospital on Friday was picked up from the hospital by Kate on Sunday... and he was on top of the world. They gave him the all-clear, and she took him out for a beer to celebrate. Dwight, for everyone who hasn't met him, is a mountain of a man. Six foot ten-ish, 300 pounds if he's an ounce, and I once saw him pick up a couch as if it were a Twix bar, and carry it about a block into Kate's apartment. In the past six months or so, Dwight has changed from an occasional hire to our go-to guy. Always available on a moments notice, and works harder than anyone else around. He's been in the business for a while, knows what to do, and just dives in. Outside of work, he's a trip... back to the seventies that is... from talking to him you wouldn't guess, but he actually has a custom van with a carpet in the back, and a front license plate that says "Dr. Love". Hysterical. The last few times I saw him I couldn't help but call him Dr. Love when he showed up - and luckily since he has a sense of humor, but could eat me in one bite if he really wanted to - simply responded by cutting my apron strings, and used the pieces to fashion an apron that would actually fit around him.
Anyway, I got a call this morning that Dwight died last night from an aneurysm... out of the blue, like someone just snuffed out a candle. I've often heard people say someone was 'a good man' after they've died, but Dwight really was one. He was someone I didn't know nearly as well as Kate, but someone I actually trusted, someone I could count on. Since I lead a double life - family, regular job, kids and dogs during the day... chaotic, obsessive, occasionally perfectionist caterer at night - Sara never really knew him, or even heard most of the ridiculous Dwight stories that Kate and I retold each other all day today... but he was a good man, a good father to his 11 year old son, and a good friend.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Chapter One - Green Bean

Ok... worst week ever.
Well, that's not really true, but it did suck quite a bit. We started last Sunday with a trip to the Urgent Care Center for Lily, who was complaining of an earache. (For those of you who haven't been, an urgent care center is a doctor's office that you don't need an appointment for & is open when your doctor isn't... instead of going to the emergency room for something minor) We've been to a few before, and they're all pretty much the same - except for this one... If any of you have an abandoned drive-in theater in your neighborhood, imagine that without the enormous screen. We were driving down Main St. in Pottstown looking for the address, when Sara spotted a peeling pink ranch-style building with an "Urgent Care Center" sign leaning defiantly forward out of the weed and gravel parking lot... a sign that could have easily been replaced with a "Pottstown Meth Lab" or "Slippery Buddha's Asian Massage Parlor for the Hopelessly Single or Morally Bankrupt" sign and fit right in. With some trepidation, we pull in and wait a few minutes for them to open, finally are admitted, and shown into the back room. The doctor, who is wearing what looks suspiciously like a butcher's coat, does a quick once-over of Lily and determines that she has a sinus infection. In order to precisely determine her weight so that he can prescribe her the precise dose of antibiotic required - he plopps her onto a bathroom scale with two palm trees and some sort of yak painted on it, and then walks INTO THE BATHROOM attached to the examination room and comes out with a bottle of amoxicillin. Now, we're assuming that there was some sort of medicine cabinet or storage room back there, but were sort of afraid to ask. I was a bit tempted to ask him to check me out too though, just to see what else he had back there... "Feeling a bit under the weather? Let me just dash into the pooper and see what I can get you"... "Gout, you say? Let me get you some allopurinol from the ol' sock drawer here... and a foot brace out of my glove compartment, and we're all set. That'll be $10."

After a quick call to Poison Control to make sure the dose was correct, we assumed she was on the mend, and were on our way. She seemed pretty good for a couple of days, started coughing on Tuesday night, by Wednesday we got a call from Denise at her daycare, and found out later that night from an actual doctor that she had pneumonia, a disease that I always spell incorrectly on the first try. If you haven't seen a baby with pneumonia before, let me tell you, it's pretty impressive. Most people (with the possible exception of my wife) try to keep up appearances to a certain extent when they're sick, but kids just let it all hang out. By the time I got home on Wednesday night her skin was the color of a canned water chestnut, and looked like it was about to melt off. Unfortunately, because every part of this week sucked, I was stuck at work for a couple of days and only really saw her in the wee hours of the morning while she was asleep, but by this morning she was almost back to her turkey gravy colored self.

In the upcoming chapters - New and exciting diseases, seventeen hour days, and newly acquired art for the masses.
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