Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Kitchen

I live in a large house. Probably too big but whatever.  It is nice to have a house where everyone can find space of their own especially when three of the people living in it are introverts.  That said, even a large house can feel incredibly small sometimes.  This week is one of those weeks for me.
My kitchen is the only room in my large house that I feel is mine.  I spend most of my time in the kitchen when I am at home.  I have all the cooking duties for the family so that adds extra time for me in the kitchen.  I used to enjoy cooking but lately have found a rut of cooking the same thing each week.  This has made the space that I feel most comfortable in awkward and cold.  To combat these feelings, I am trying to find new things to cook.  Take this past Sunday for example - I made 3 racks of pork ribs but that was just a short term Band-Aid to my current situation. 
Slow-cooked Pork Ribs finished on a very hot charcoal fire
My current situation is that my house is full of people and more people are coming tomorrow and Thursday.  These people are in my kitchen all the time.  The kitchen, by default during the holidays, is probably the most social room in the house so everyone naturally gathers there.  But what if you are an introvert and the kitchen is normally a recharge zone for you when no one is in the house?  I have always loved cooking and especially cooking good meals for others.  This usually means that I get several hours of alone time in the kitchen preparing a meal for house guests.  This is recharge before the party time and I am learning is critically important to me. 
Heather asked me the other day if I enjoyed entertaining.  My answer was "not anymore" and this shocked her as well as upset her.  I gave her a half-assed excuse at the time that probably just made the situation worse because Heather knew that our house would be full of people for Thanksgiving and she is working hard to tune into my need for space and alone time to recharge my introverted batteries.  I don't even remember what I said but an experience last night opened my eyes to what I really used to enjoy and why I enjoyed it.
Last night was going to be a good night.  I took an extra 15 minutes on my way home to bike on Davidson Mesa as the last light was settling behind the mountains.  Let's just say that was a beautiful bike ride.  In addition, I didn't have to cook dinner as my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were making fish tacos.  This should have been even more valuable because I am in a rut in the kitchen.  It was going to be a good night.
Mountain Bike ride at Last Light on Davidson Mesa
But then the scene I walked into in my kitchen just slammed me when I got home.  For some reason I was not prepared for what was happening and now in retrospect I should have been.  I knew people were going to be cooking in my kitchen - that was the freaking plan after all.  But my evening went south the moment I opened the door.  Here is the scene and I wish I had photo-documented it. 
The first person I saw was my sister-in-law (brother-in-law's wife) on the phone having an argument with her parents about healthcare - bam, something negative.  The second person I saw was my sister-in-law (Heather's sister) making mini meatloaves for Heather and these were spread all over my counters as she was preparing them for the freezer.  This should have been a huge positive because she was doing something for Heather to make Heather happy!  But no, all I saw was someone in my kitchen taking up my space.  I quickly moved through the kitchen to try and not let it get me that there were people in my kitchen.  Then I ran into my boys playing a game with their uncle (Heather's brother).  This was great except the game just ended and my youngest began to demand attention in a very negative way by wrestling and touching the dogs.  This then got the big dog riled up and that just adds a dimension of hell in the house that is hard to explain.  Actually, this short video might explain it (this is only hell when you don't want it to happen - all other times it is fun and exciting):
This may not be a big deal to most of you as you expect the kitchen to be a place of action and the social center of the house.  I agree but for some reason I was not prepared for it last night.  My ideal return to home would have been an empty kitchen because I had plans to have a tequila shot or two after work in preparation for the fish tacos that my in-laws were making.  Instead, I entered chaos and it bumped me from any sort of happy place that I may have had after my night time bike ride.
Well I knew I was in a bad place when I noticed I was walking in circles not doing anything.  Finally, I realized that I just needed to stick my plan for tequila and fake my way through the evening.  Unfortunately for me, I think it was too late and my crabbiness was noted by all because comments were made about "Cameron's kitchen" and I found myself defending how I felt.  In retrospect, I should have just smiled but that is hard to do when you are looking for a recharge and can't find it.
I did take a snake and tequila photo.  :)
Snake and Tequila
So why write and complain about "people in my kitchen"?  This is just negativity that is going to breed more negativity.  I didn't mean to complain but wanted to set the stage to say that I learned a lot yesterday.  I learned why the kitchen is so important to me and why I get upset when things are crazy in my kitchen.  I think I can use what I learned to survive the onslaught of guests over the next 3 days.  I do like entertaining and I owe Heather an apology for my brash reaction and response to her question last week.  I do like entertaining because I normally get the 3-4 hour recharge time in my kitchen as I plan and prepare the meal.  This is a good thing and can really energize me.  I have just been in a rut with cooking and I need to spend more time finding a way out of this rut (like the ribs I made on Sunday).  This rut is my fault and I need to escape it - the sooner the better.
Right now with the holidays, I don't get the alone time in the kitchen.  I get the kitchen holiday chaos instead.  Last night taught me something other than "the kitchen is my recharge zone" though.  It taught me that I like having family and guests around despite my crankiness.  Family makes Heather happy.  Family makes my boys happy.  Family makes my dogs crazy.  These are all very good things that ultimately make me happy.  It may seem like I am a grouch but I think I can turn it around for this week.  I plan on it.
I want to end with an old video from several years ago.  It shows the fun that can be had in a kitchen.  It shows the fun in my kitchen but it also shows me recharging in my kitchen.  When I made this video, I didn't know that the kitchen was my recharge zone but that can't be more clear than in this video.  Watch how I relax despite the chaos around me.  Most importantly - laugh at the video and the small glimpse it gives you in my chaotic world.  :)


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