Thought No. 9: Sunday / by Jennifer Wisniewski

"My neurosis runneth over."

Every Tuesday morning, I get into Bread & Wine early. Last week, I walked in to find Tano (our dishwasher), with the wet-vac out. This could only mean one thing: there’s been water. A lot of water. I immediately start assessing the damage. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot where it's collecting, like two balloons hanging from the ceiling ... right above the kitchen. At this point, my mind starts racing: “Who’s going to fix it?” and “How much will this cost?”, with a side of “How will this effect New Year’s Eve?!” I called my business partner, Lisa, told her what had happened and we called our landlord.

The following day, two fine gentlemen came in to plaster the holes – which left the sanding and painting to us, on New Year’s day. (Not an optimum situation, but feasible.) I formulated a game plan: Get up at 7am, sand/paint, come home, get dressed, and seat 120+ people for New Year’s evening. I reminded myself that it’s been worse. Last year, on the same day: our stereo busted and I had laryngitis. 

The next morning, as I’m sanding the kitchen ceiling, I realize that the fine granules of drywall are slowly falling to the floor. This would be normal anywhere else – but not in a kitchen with a hood powerful enough to levitate a small child. It’s at this very moment that my mental damn breaks … and the inner dialogue begins: “Am I just being neurotic or does the hood not work? Should I call the chef (who works so hard), wake him up and ask him what’s going on? Maybe it’s me? Maybe I just don’t know how a hood in the kitchen works, after 4 years of being in this restaurant. I must be making this all up, because there is no way we could have holes in our ceiling and a busted hood – all on New Year’s Day.”

As it turns out, it wasn't a manufactured drama. The hood was broken. The ice storm had caused damage on the roof, creating a ripple effect of structural issues.

Since I am a self diagnosed neurotic, I have researched my condition and I like what Carl Jung (the 19th century philosopher) had to say on this topic: "We don’t cure them, but they eventually cure us. When we work to understand and try to cure a neurosis, we are, indirectly conversing with our demons and negotiating a solution that serves the Ego and the unconscious. The idea that they cure us is that it causes us discomforts that force us to take action to solve the problem."

I needed a second opinion that day. Lisa had to come in and say, “ Yes, Jenny. The hood is broken – and yes, Jenny – we need to call someone.” I learned something that morning… If Jung is right, then it’s my neurosis that forces me to solve problems. The same neurosis that creates the obsessive thoughts, paranoia and insomnia is the same neurosis that made me notice a problem that could have had serious ramifications for our restaurant.

Now I wonder where I’d be without it. I think I've taken it for granted all these years. I should take my neurosis out, buy it dinner and treat it like a lady.