The Block is Over!

I have completed the first block of classes that are part of my first semester at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).  I can’t say that either of my classes, Introduction to Gastronomy and Culinary Math, were difficult.  However, the math course really got to me and shook my confidence to the core.  For some reason, I struggled with the concepts presented in the online course and never quite found my footing during the three-weeks.  I did alot of soul-searching during this time, really thinking on what was blocking my success.  While I would love to say that it was the pace of the course but my time at Stanford found me taking courses that were way faster in pace.  The instructor, while not someone I think added tremendous value to the course, also didn’t hindermy success.  And as I said, the concepts weren’t that difficult in theory since it was just addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.  Honestly, I am stumped on what the issue may be which has me concerned as we enter into our second block of courses.

Starting on Monday, we a start Food Fabrication and Food Safety.  The start of this block means three major things will be occurring.  First, we are now in class a bit longer now, until 1:30pm Monday through Friday which throws a bit of a wrench  in my “Get the Hell Out of Dodge” Friday plans.  That will only get worse starting in October when we  enter the kitchen full-time and I am in class until 8:30pm every week night.  I am not looking forward to that but I will cross that bridge when I get to it.  The second thing is something I alluded to ……. we are officially now in the kitchen!  With both classes revolving around applied knowledge in the kitchen it would be a bit difficult not to spend some of our class time in the kitchen.  Last, we got our chef whites after our Gastro final.  I think all of us were a bit excited to get our official duds, well that was until we got them home and tried them on.

From wonky sizing to misspelled names on jackets and pants that look like they came from MC Hammer‘s house, many of us were not pleased.  Personally, I looked like the guy from Ye’ Old Country Buffet who mans the carving station or the dish washer at the Holiday Inn Sacramento.  Now compound my that with the fact that I had to go buy the ugliest shoes this side of the Lake Tahoe and you understand why I am not looking forward to putting on my chef whites come Monday for class.  I even took a picture, and my regular readers know I have no shame with embarrassing myself for the sake of a laugh, but honestly I can’t release it in good faith…..it’s horrible.  So I will be taking shots this week in hopes of getting a half-way decent shot to share with you all of me in my uniform.

I mentioned that I have been going home most weekends to beat the blues and see The Partner.  Since The Partner had to work this weekend, I decided to stay through Friday evening and leave early Saturday morning.  With this being our “dead weekend” between block changes, we had no homework, so I assumed that the dorms would be a hive of activity.  To my surprise, it was really quiet and serene.  No loud whooping, cranked up music or silly rants in the hallway.  However, I did learn a bit more about some of my classmates extracurricular activities ….. the legal and the illegal if you catch my drift.  In that aspect, college has not changed that much.  Experimentation of all forms will occur and in some ways, it was a bit comforting to know that while I started my college journey 15 years ago, some things have remained constant.

But I did go out to dinner in St. Helena at Pizzeria Tra Vigne, the casual eatery from the people at Tra Vigne (where I had brunch on my first day of school).  After a bit of miscommunication and being ditched by one group, I was invited out to dinner by another.  It was nice to hang out with the lovely ladies and get to know them a bit better outside of class.  The dinner really shined a light on two of them and made me reconsider some bias notions I had about each…..yes I know about judging a book by its cover, but I also never said I was perfect.  In any case, I came home and watched three episodes of Wonder Woman (Season 3) before passing out. 

Saturday morning I hopped in the car and went to the Napa Valley Premium Outlets to search for shoes to wear in the kitchen.  As I said, I found a pair — heinous but comfortable.  Fortunately they are only $40 so I don’t feel bad about wearing them and getting them dirty in the kitchen.  I know I shouldn’t be so shallow, but it hurts my sensibilities to buy ugly shoes….even ugly shoes with a purpose.  After buying the shoes, I did a quick tour of the other stores, resisted blowing my budget on a sweater, shirt and jacket from J. Crew (super cute and less than $300 total for all three).  I felt the urge to shop and quickly ran out of the store (sans items) and bolted for the car.  Those who know me, understand that I like to shop for clothes.  In the house, I have about 85% of the closet space and would gladly kick The Partner out the other 15% but I restrain.  I am trying hard to maintain my budget, not buy stuff simply because its cute and on sale especially after doing several major purges of my closet in the last year.  On a side note, if you were in Oakland or Berkeley and visited the Cross Roads stores in August and you would have seen where a good portion of my lower- brand label stuff went.  My closet was literally a good 1/4th of both their stores.  It was a bit crazy but funded some other projects for the house and pocket cash for school.

In case, I am rambling…..after the Outlets I drove back to Oakland, parked the car and have not left the house since.  Aside from a quick trip for a Coke Zero, I have done nothing but watch TV and set up my new computer.  Now that I need to start thinking about heading back to school, a tightness envelopes my chest.  It’s the same feeling I got the night before I left for school and the same one I have gotten every Sunday since.  I really need to figure out what wrong because feeling this way doesn’t make for a happy Courtney or a fun experience.  So more soul searching this week….not fun, but it’s needed.

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this posting, I promise pictures and more peppy stories soon…..I PROMISE!

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