Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two Months of Fun (?/!)

Ango started today and I'm not too sure what to expect out of this summer practice period so I'm trying not to expect anything.  It marks my first official assignment as tenzo (as far as I'm concerned, all the other stuff was a warm up).  I have full control over the kitchen as well as all planning and purchasing.

Since I can't take two months off (my supercool and exciting) job, I'll only be able to prepare breakfasts and a couple dinners during the week.  I've planned out all of the meals with the exception of two dinners a week and will coordinate purchasing and prep for all of them.

My activities this week will be limited in the evenings by Aikido since I have a test Thursday, and this weekend because my dad will be coming into town for the weekend for a visit and to attend my jukai ceremony (which I'll write about later).

It's an odd feeling with so much to do and no real choice about doing it.  It has to get done and I'm best qualified to do it.  I feel some resistance at times, it comes and goes.  The meals don't have to be fancy, people just need to get fed.  It's definitely far easier to do what I need to do when I'm in charge.  I've always been more comfortable as a second in command, just making sure nothing slips through the cracks, but it's good to be calling the shots and being successful.

By the time the sesshin rolls around the last week of June, everything should be running super smooth and should be a very different experience than the last two sesshin I worked. The previous retreats have had a huge buildup right before the start as we go from normal life to retreat life with meal planning and coordinating to do, but all of that anticipation will have been burned off by then, it already feels like a relief just to have it started.  All the meals for the whole practice period are oryoki, so by the final week I will have run through most of my recipes a couple times leaving no questions about prep, leaving me more mental space to just relax and enjoy it.

Every meal I prepare for the sangha feels like a session of zazen and after so many it feels so much more comfortable to slip into tomai sanmai (rice-washing samadhi)*.   It should be interesting to see what happens after  I've prepared the next 80 something meals in the Zen kitchen.


*a new term I discovered that my girlfriend refers to as "cooking face."  Apparently I do a mean Bodhidharma impression while I'm cooking and have for years.  Virtual high-five to anyone who can find the kanji for "toumai sanmai"

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to oryoki meals during the sesshin, which is going to be kind of a challenge and testing time for me personally (the sesshin schedule, not so much the eating, though that too since it's oryoki). I enjoyed the last Tenzo meal I had for the Kaz class day. Your black chili beans and sour cream combo inspired me to take that recipe a little further by adding sweet red peppers (found some nice ones at Kroger that come in a jar) and crostini (I must have gotten the crostini during a rare recent trip to Whole Foods). My wife and I both loved it, and I loved of idea of making something simple, fast and yet kind of on the gourmet end of the taste spectrum. So I just wanted to share that with you--that I brought something home of your cookery expertise (see Stephen Chou's The God of Cookery).