Struggles hiss and bubble, agitated and anxious, over the splattering droplets of grease– hours on end. Thoughts stream like the tears across the translucent shield, in front of the steering wheel, the sky’s tears streaking the windows– but only for a few moments. Ideas are born, nurtured, and grown tall– months upon years, they take. The grease leaves scars, little red marks on arms and hearts. The rain bestows sprouting seeds and unfurling leaves in its wake.
Scars come, and with them, growth unfurls.
Where have I been for the past month? For a majority of it, I’ve been behind a steering wheel, at a desk, and in front of a fryer. Thus, that’s what I’m going to write about.
Rundown of the last month, in 20 words or less:
I got my first real job (Moe’s Southwest Grill), began my freshman year at a university, and started learning karate.
It’s been one huge new experience: mastering the “rolling-of-the-burrito”, getting to know my coworkers, balancing school and work, becoming accustomed to the heavier school load and higher expectations, and asking myself if I really want to be an English Major.
Being an English major is basically a ton of reading and writing. How about some more reading and writing? And maybe a bit more… oh, I don’t know… reading and writing?
You get the picture. I indeed do enjoy reading and writing, but being obligated to do them every day strains that enjoyment.
My friend the Fryer
Meanwhile… here’s how my typical morning at work begins:
- Open box of uncooked tortilla chips
- Dump in metal fry basket
- Submerge in oil vat; stir chips with metal spatula
- Once they are golden brown, remove basket, and let drain
- Dump basket into chip bin; sprinkle with salt
- Repeat until 7 bins are full
All of this to say that I have a lot of time to think while I’m working the fryer. Often, my thoughts while working at it turn philosophical. These are just some perceptions on life, developed over the fryer…
A Difficult Conundrum:
Feminism: I’m coming to see how predominant of a struggle that it is. Almost all of the literature and humanities professors that I have had and currently have lean in its favor. It often causes heated discussions in classes. It weighs heavily on the mind. It is frequently reflected in stories and poetry, through both aged and young words.
So does misogyny.
It’s a difficult conundrum. Trying to combat misogyny and prejudice, feminism seems to claim the removal that set of chains. But it doesn’t make me feel very free, much less empowered. To me, its dissonant struggle is yet another set of chains. I just wish there was something in between, or outside, or among this pair of extremes.
A brooding question:
Is the world really black and white?
“My heart don’t need no armor!”
This was a thought developed during a rough morning at work: insane busyness coupled with rebuke from a superior and difficulty respecting a coworker. I simply wanted to shut my heart away from feeling insufficiency and pain. Agitatedly frying up baskets of chips, trying to let go of frustration, I suddenly saw this mental picture: A little old man atop a hill.
He would be short and slight, very wrinkled, with thin, wispy, white hair. His skin would be leathery, calloused, pock-marked, made unique by a scar and a tale of how he got it that I will leave up to your imagination. He would be wearing creased, worn slacks and a wind breaker, decked out with invisible medals and ribbons of bravery from the days of his youth; medals and ribbons that he earned and deserved, but never received.
There he would stand: the heart, personified as a little old man atop a hill.
He would stand up as straight and tall as all his back pain would allow, and out a few-toothed mouth, his voice trembling with unsteady vigor, he would cry to the hills: “I don’t need no armor!” He would lift his cane to the sky, pumping it up and down a few times, and shout even louder, again, “Do you hear that, world? I don’t need no armor!”
My battle anthem:
Sometimes By Step, by Rich Mullins
This song is the closest I’ll ever have to a “life song”. I rediscovered it last summer, and I’ve been listening to it ever since. It is a battle cry, an anthem, and a lullaby for the courageous yet wearied heart.
A beautiful word:
As explained by this article, on a Finnish university’s website, “sisu” is…
“… a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.
Sisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage. It is a word that cannot be fully translated. It defines the Finnish people and their character. It stands for the philosophy that what must be done will be done, regardless of cost.” (emphasis mine)
(Being ¼ Finnish, I learned about this word from partially Finnish relatives)
Well, friends, I’m off. Any thoughts on that end, from perspectives outside of fryers and rain-streaked-car-windows?
A pieced together image: My photo, Brian Ferry, Getty Images