Whew. I've been holding that in for a while.
It was after all the one word we were told not to utter ... during our taping of "Emeril's Table" for the Hallmark Channel!!!!!!!! last week (ok, two weeks ago. Mea culpa).
Yes, A Mouse Bouche has 'kicked it up a notch' with its first television appearance. It won't air until the fall/winter so hang in there. Also you'll notice that this post is lacking in actual culinary details; we aren't allowed to spill the beans on the menu yet.
As I sat in the makeup chair opposite yours at 9AM, having fake eyelashes applied singly to my lids and learning various beauty secrets (flesh-colored eye pencil on the inner eye rim makes your eyes "pop"! and not in a bad way!), I thought about how I would never have predicted this as my first foray into TV Land. But it makes sense on so many levels.
And of course I'm so glad we did it together. Partly because I think no one would believe me when I described finding ourselves, new lashes and all, seated in a neat row along a wooden kitchen countertop, alongside three other ladies who looked exactly like us (hmmm), across from a fake window through which shone fake daylight across some fake patio furniture, surrounded by giant cameras, breathing in the not-fake aroma of lemongrass and hoisin and soy sauce and boiling noodles and throwing back very real cups of cold sake before noon ... with Emeril Lagasse.
"Kampai!" he shouted, clinking glasses with us while a producer shuffled him into new chef's whites. "We're gonna have a good time in here today!" I didn't have to look at you to know you were thinking the same thing I was: How on earth was this man so cheerful? After all, we had JUST seen him on TV that morning. While we were drinking freshly brewed Emeril's Coffee in the green room and blinking blearily, the man had been up for hours shooting a live episode of Good Morning America. While we scooped up the greek yogurt and blueberries that Martha's people provided for us (good one) and tried to think up questions for "Chef" about Asian cooking, Chef was teaching the GMA staff to grill beef and slice onions, all within a chopstick's throw of a throng of rabid fans. While we got our hair curled (and our bangs trimmed - nice one Mouse!), we watched him, live, doing his thing on the screen, handling the simultaneous tasks of cooking, coaching, hosting, and charming an audience on LIVE TV with complete grace. My respect for the King of Essence, which, to be honest, I wasn't compLETEly in touch with before this gig, made itself felt. The man works hard.
No stale doughnuts and sad corn muffins here. The Mouse serves herself greek yogurt and blueberries, forsaking the granola.
Also the decor was pretty special.
Here's where I pause briefly to address the reason it took so freakin' long to post this at all, and why you had to basically bribe me with an omelet and two grapefruits to get me to put it up.
Oops. A second, unplanned pause as The Boo realizes she never sent the list of music cues to the band, and is going to be late for her 5 hour rehearsal in a warehouse in brooklyn if she doesn't leave now because the G train isn't running. I am so not even kidding. Excuse me, I'll be right back in ten hours.
... or FIVE DAYS. Again, not even kidding. But that fact - that I find myself at this time unable to get through even such a simple task as this without being distracted - speaks volumes, and kind of makes the point I’m gonna make in this blog post without me even actually having to write it! (No? Ok ok yes I will still actually write it.)
I was in midtown last night with our friend Orestes playing some Big Buck Hunter when It occurred to me. IT. By which I mean The Thought, the one that has been trying to get to me for some time now. And by ‘some time’ I could mean the last several weeks (the time period in which I have been madly rehearsing/memorizing/composing/co-writing/band wrangling/assistant music directing/semi-assistant producing the first show in THIS FESTIVAL which goes up WEDNESDAY thru SATURDAY), or really, several years of doing what it is we do --- a life made up of constant uncertainty, constant making and unmaking of plans, scheduling and rescheduling, neverending job hunting that leads often to working many jobs at once; packing and unpacking and and the constant up and down of relationships formed at the center of a storm, some of which last forever and some which are gone in the blink of an eye.
So like I said I’m there with Orestes and we’re discussing various life choices while shooting digital wildebeest. As I do every time, I lift that plastic orange gun to my shoulder and silently chant the mantra I learned in the army (ok, from a guy who was in the army):
“Slow is smooth, and smooth is Fast.”
(ie, no matter what the situation, panic and rushing will do you no favors. it will only cause you to lose your focus and your footing, and actually slow everything down if not stop it completely. In fact, the faster the game is going and the more things that you have to do at one time, the more important this is to remember. It’s the difference between a Perfect Streak Bonus while still nailing all the baboons and losing your whole turn because you shot a cow right out of the gate. Where was I? Oh yes.)
And then, right then, this thought:
Even if you’re juggling many balls, you still can only hold one at a time.
(Please refrain from shouting any response resembling “That’s what she said”. I already thought of it and let’s move on.)
I recently had a conversation with someone in which they were telling me they read an article about how “multitasking makes you stupid”. (Was it you?) And I totally get that... IF it’s the kind of multitasking where you erroneously believe it’s possible to actually do more than one thing at once. You try to focus your mind in several places simultaneously, thereby ensuring that you are not actually focused on anything at all. Then you’re bringing a foggy, insufficient level of attention to several projects that all get done badly because there’s simply less of you, of your brain, to go around.
please forgive me, I’m working on a rock musical about neuroscience. WHICH GOES UP THIS WEEK AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO GO.
BUT if it’s the “one ball in the air” kind of juggling where you instead cultivate the ability to rapidly change focus; toggling between several activities with full attention to each one in turn, then you’ve got something. And I would venture to say (with absolutely no expertise to back this up, much like my rock musical about neuroscience that goes up WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY) it probably makes you smarter in the long run. Strengthens, not weakens, your mind. I’m thinking here of fitness experts who encourage people to vary their workout routines, saying that mixing it up gives your muscles more to work with and speeds up their development. But no one would endorse trying to run and lift weights at the same time. (I think, anyway. I haven’t been to the gym in ...)
Anyway my point (and I do have one, and it’s about food) is that Chef Emeril was one of the best living, breathing examples of a professional juggler I’ve seen recently. I mean, the food was good for sure but a) we’re not allowed to talk about the menu yet and b) frankly, that wasn’t what most stayed with me. What I got out of that experience - of being ten feet away from a professional chef/seasoned performer! was the importance of doing. one. thing. at. a time. and doing it well, with ease and grace and awareness of the people around you who are also juggling. The faster the game, the more things to think about and do, the tighter your focus on each thing in turn must be. When Chef E came into the green room before the gig to shake hands with each of us, he was not somewhere else. He had ten seconds to say hello to each person and inside those ten seconds that’s all he was doing. When the man was reading his cue cards, he was reading them and talking to his audience. When he was answering one of our questions, he was really answering it, when he was taking notes from the producer, he was listening, and when he was mixing up sauce he was mixing up sauce. It only looked like he was doing all these things at the same time.
Well, that’s my Deep Thoughts for the day. To sum up: Chef Emeril juggles, Martha Stewart gives good breakfast, flesh-colored pencil on the inner eye rim, Good Morning America films really early, and there are definitely a lot of women out there who could pass for our sisters. (But there’s only one Mouse Bouche.) When we can actually talk about the menu, we’ll revisit this. In the meantime, I have to plan music rehearsal, re-string my guitar, send out a few invitations to the show, and assemble a vegetable tian for dinner. One thing at a time.