For many years I languished in the restaurant business as a Kitchen Manager, General Manager, Regional Kitchen Coordinator, and Corporate Weasel Scapegoat. That last position was mostly ceremonial and simply a cynical statement about the career I chose to work in for over 18 years.
One thing I did learn from restaurants is that you must take stock at least once a month. Unlike general retail where taking stock or inventory is done annually, we did monthly inventories in the food biz. I always say the only main difference between retail and restaurants is that alarms clocks and sweat pants can sit on the shelf forever and not go bad, whereas a head of lettuce or a cut of fresh fish last only a few days. It’s much more immediate working with food. So we had to keep track of our inventory, reconcile if you will, more often. And I do believe that taking stock or inventory of one’s self on a regular basis is also a prudent thing, maybe not everyday, but certainly at least every month. Doing it once a week is probably best.
So how do you take stock of yourself? Simply put, you make a list, mental or physical, of your assets. List the things “you got going for yourself”.
I try to make this list in the “positive” even though it may realistically refer to something negative. For instance, I was listening to my iTunes music and doing my usual air guitar and air drums routine. I said to myself, damn, I wish I could play guitar like that. And it made me stop and think, “Wait a minute. I can play the guitar. I’ve played the guitar for almost fifty years at one level or another”. The problem is, I don’t play the guitar, ever, right now. In fact, I don’t own a guitar right now. I sold them all in the last few years. But it doesn’t negate the fact that I can indeed play the guitar. I just can’t play very well now because I don’t practice. How does one get to Carnegie Hall? Remember that saying? So, to put this bit of negativism in a positive sense for inventory list: I know how to play the guitar. Note to self: get a guitar again and play more often. By the way, I used to sing (and play) a lot many years ago. The same goes for the singing…practice. Perhaps I will revive my ability to sing in falsetto again, which doesn’t seem to work any longer!
The other day I said to Loretta something I’ve said a dozen times before, “Damn, I used to be able to cook”. This was immediately after finishing a dish, tasting it, then throwing in the trash. It just didn’t taste like it should. The worst part, I had made this particular item many times in past with success. So why would I think I am not able to cook any longer? Correct. My skills in the kitchen belong on the inventory list, an asset I need to remind myself to take stock of more often. After all, Gordon Ramsay said on one of his shows, “It took me over 100 times to get Beef Wellington right and now it’s one of my specialties”. If I am lucky enough to get a recipe right the first time, so be it. What right do I have to be scathing of myself if it doesn’t happen right away?
Taking stock. I have a great support group of people in my life. From a very forgiving and tolerant wife to a loyal (and forgiving) best friend to other friends and, of course, to relatives who care about me very much. There are casual acquaintances on line and at work who know my name and are aware of what I am going through now. Some who ask about my welfare I don’t even know their names. How can something like this not be on my asset list?
One thing that stimulated me to write this particular entry tonight is that I read Roger Ebert’s blog for the first time. I recently saw him interviewed on TV (CBS Sunday Morning?) and his story is quite interesting. After years of writing for a newspaper and hosting a successful television show, he got cancer and lost his ability to speak or eat. There’s more to the story than that but that’s it in a nutshell. I’m also reading his book, Life Itself. I just started reading it, it is a memoir of his life and career. Despite his physical setbacks due to cancer, he still writes movie reviews, a newspaper column, and a daily blog. And is was the blog someone suggested he write that kept him writing and kept him going.
Taking stock of your life is much more than playing the glad game, at least for me. As I’ve said many times before, there is just too much left for me to do before checking out, including learning to play the guitar better. Forging ahead and soldiering is not an option. Too many other people are doing it who are physically and medically worse off than I am.
Jenifer just told me today that she will be here toward the end of October of for a couple days. Her publishing job in Seattle is sending her to L.A. and she will go home by way of Modesto. It will be a period of time between chemo treatments so I should be feeling O.K. Needless to say I’m looking forward to it. There is nothing whatsoever to do in Modesto, but that doesn’t matter. We just enjoy each company doing nothing. I will plan a visit to Seattle after the first of the year. Rowan is almost three years old and I haven’t seen him since the first of this year.
Taking stock. My chemo treatments will last until March and that is when we have been planning our move out of Modesto, probably to the Central Coast, Pismo Beach area. Another one of the many things “we got going for ourselves”.
Then there’s the photography. The confidence is there, I just haven’t been noticed yet!
Thanks, Roger Ebert, for rattling my cage about writing and soldiering on.