Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blending in, of sorts

Just a bit of a warning. This post is a little bit of everything...

Third Street in San Francisco is a curious place. It makes some of my co-workers afraid, kind of like the effect that 23rd Street in Richmond has for some people. But me? Well, I kind of blend, so why worry?

And that's how I found myself at the Hard Knox Cafe on Friday for lunch. Those photos I took last week? China Basin. The quickest was from where I work to China Basin is to cruise along Third Street. And I've done that drive to China Basin a few times. (I probably won't be doing it anymore since I got home on Friday to find my notary commission in the mailbox.) Folks always ask me how I find restaurants. Well, when I'm doing drives like that, I keep an eye out for anything interesting. In this case, it turned out to be the Hard Knox. And this last time I remembered to do a Google search on them. And then I mentioned it to the receptionist at work. She had been there several times and highly recommended the place. I was intrigued. She also told me that I couldn't go wrong with anything smothered. And to ignore the comments on Yelp. The fried chicken was OK -- while the dark meat was moist the white meat was dried out, in her opinion. Hell. Loads of places make great fried chicken. The mark of a good soul food place is the other stuff they serve.

I went with the smothered pork chops. The problem was deciding on sides so I went with three, paying for the extra -- collard greens, yams, and mac & cheese. The mac & cheese reminded me of my stepmother's. Well, the stuff she would have made back when she could cook. It had that taste of Velveeta. Sorry, but my grandmother (my mom's mother) makes hers with sharp cheddar. Two different tastes. That was the only fault -- sort of. I worried that there would not be any vinegar in the greens but I tasted a subtle version of that tang. Thankfully I had asked for hot sauce. The addition of some Crystal's made the greens perfect in my mind. (This may be due to the fact that I am used to my daddy's greens. And he always cooks his with peppers.) The yams? Sometimes I hit some undercooked sections but that just proved to me that they were not from a can. Finally, the pork chops. I was able to cut into them with a plastic fork. And long after the meat was gone, I found myself digging around in the remaining gravy with hopes of finding more meat. Who would have thought that two pork chops were not a sufficient serving? Oops. I just remembered that I did not mention the cornbread muffins. Sublime. Those pork chops and muffins will keep me coming back.

While I may not have "blended" with the diners in the packed restaurant, I definitely "blended" with the folks I saw along my way back to the office. There was also that sense of pride in seeing how Third Street today looks so much more prosperous than it did ten years ago when I first started driving along it on a fairly regular basis. But the blending thing? Well, there were no weird looks that said, "Girl. What the hell you doing around here?" Instead it was a feeling of belonging.

Ooo. I just had a flash of the president of my company who sometimes refers to me as "girl." But I guess it doesn't bother me too much because I've also gotten used to him referring to his own as "crackas." Oh, and Friday was the meeting at the conference room at the hotel that I had set up. When I went there to see that everything was OK, all the guys present -- yes, they were all male because I work in construction these days -- told me how they had heard how I was so good from the president. And that's just what I needed to hear right now. Because when you give a lot of yourself to other people, it's nice to hear every now and then that they appreciate your efforts. And my current job? Probably part of the reason why I like working there so much is that they have no problem in telling me how much they appreciate my effort. And it's been a long time since I've heard it.

So Friday was a good day indeed.

Awww. Let's be honest. I went to therapy tonight and the therapist said how I seemed to be doing much better since the last session. He still thinks I need weekly one-on-one though. I talked about my family and told him that I had not told them that I was in therapy once more. Because the last time? Each week my mother would ask, "Did you talk about me? What did you say about me?" And then I explained to the therapist how I understand why my mother acts in this way. I go to therapy because she won't. For this whole thing to work for us, at least one of us needs to go to therapy. Oh, and then there's my dad's side of the family. They don't have mental health issues. Uh huh. That's why they don't need to do the therapy thing. Just look at my dad. He's the former recovering alcoholic who didn't understand why he had to go through all 12 steps. Sure it took him over 20 years to fall off the wagon but still. Maybe next time I'll tell the therapist that I have always dreamed of the day when I would never have to ask either parent for a little extra cash to tie me over until the next payday. With my new position, that day may have finally come. I just wonder if my parents realize this. Because I swore to myself years ago, that I would walk away from my crazy ass family if I didn't need them financially. Self-preservation and shit.

Evidence of how fucked up these people can be? Growing up, I regularly heard, "I don't understand how people like you so much," or some variation on that. Perhaps my parents, with their twisted senses of humor, meant it to be funny. Guess what? This is not the kind of shit one should say to a teenager. Maybe it's because I can read people pretty well, though, and know what is the socially acceptable thing to say in a given situation. When your father's boss is ranting on about a particular issue, do you disagree with him because that's how you really feel? No. You keep your mouth closed and nod your head in agreement. Fuck my parents and their various proclamations. I was a good kid. I waited until I was legally an adult to start acting like my real self.

And this time I even remembered to mention my food issues. I know that Zombie Mom is glad to hear that. The therapist told me that it was one of the few coping mechanisms that I have left. Well, unhealthy ones, that is. (And haha. The idiot didn't even seem to realize how he had been played. My appointment was at six this evening. I had had half a bagel with cream cheese and three cups of tea the whole day. Sucka! And no, Zombie Mom, you do not have to stage an intervention or anything. I ate yesterday. Two full meals. It's just that today I was "fat" as a result of those two meals.) So he recommended some places to me. It seems that Thrive will only let one do individual therapy once every three weeks. What's up with that? He encouraged me to Google the places on his list. I'm kind of leaning toward the place that uses this. And for a minute or two, I tried to be like my dad. But I still remember the therapist saying right before I left, "And you know some people need to do therapy for a year or two." Hell. I already did one year previously. How much more do I need? Maybe I don't need therapy. Maybe I just need more smothered pork chops ... Nah. I need both.

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