Original Interview Date: 2/24/16
Shaine Schroeder: This is high-test shit. I’m conducting this interview on the standard issue voice memo app on my iPhone.
Sarah Langenfeld: That’ll do.
SS: Ok, so this is what I came up with for a title for this interview, (clears throat) “Hut one, hut two, hut three, hut! Ol’ dirty Langley live and uncut.”
SL: (Uncontrollable laughter)
SS: Tell us what you think about that.
SL: That’s really great.
SS: But that also implies that you’re old and dirty, and you’re not. You might be dirty. You look like you showered today.
SL: No, I showered yesterday.
SS: Ok, so- it’s an apt description then. Should we leave that? Do you want that to be the title?
SL: This is your baby…
SS: No, no. I don’t want people to feel like they are committing career suicide when they’re talking to me, so if any of this offends you…
SL: No, it’s good. We’ll go with it.
SS: Ok, cool. Alright. First thing’s first- what do you know about Ray Finkle?
SL: (Laughs) Finkle is Einhorn!
SS: Good answer! I was hoping that you DIDN’T know that, thus giving credence to my claim that you only watch Rosie O’Donnell movies, and wouldn’t know what the fuck an Ace Ventura was.
SL: Yeah. I have like, ten movies that I can reference.
SS: And most of their target audience is under the age of seven.
SL: Not quite. Like- middle aged women in the 80s.
SS: Like “Pretty Woman?”
SL: (Laughs) Like “Pretty Woman.” And “Big.” I… didn’t know we were going to talk about movies, because we’ve exhausted my list of movies that I’m knowledgeable about.
SS: No, we don’t have to talk about movies, we can move on. Next question- how have you been? It’s a rare treat to get to see you these days. I never see you anymore. It’s like you don’t like me.
SL: I know. I’m a hermit. I don’t like anyone- it’s winter.
SS: Alright, so- tell us what it is you do professionally.
SL: Professionally? Like, on the record?
SS: Yes, no illegal activities.
SL: Professionally I’m a sous chef- although I struggle with that title. I have a lot of daytime creative freedom at (M.B. Haskett). Now I work dinners with the boss Fridays and Saturday nights so I get a bit of freedom to bounce ideas off him. But dinner is an area I’m not really familiar with. Dinner time is like a trial by fire internship. My first night was a bit slow and boring to be honest, not really my pace. My second night, my boss Mike called me and said he was “not having good poop,” and he wouldn’t be in. So we took the training wheels off and I was at it again by myself.
SS: Just think- if it wasn’t for Mike’s asshole you may not be where you are today. So that’s got to be all kinds of neat- it’s not often you hear of somebody getting to sous chef as quickly as you have.
SL: Well, you gotta remember, our spot is pretty small. And I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Lightning would not strike twice if I were somewhere else. I couldn’t be uprooted and be afforded the same luxuries. I recognize that I’m in a very fortunate spot.
SS: True. But it’s still advantageous because you can still put that on your resume, regardless of how tiny the restaurant is. So, since I really don’t know shit about this line of work, tell me, was there a lot of after hours stuff you had to study up on and delve into?
SL: I’ve never had any schooling in the culinary arts, which is why I have such a problem with my working title. There’s so much pretention in the culinary world, so I kind of struggle with that. But I do read cookbooks, blogs and magazines simply because I enjoy doing it so much. It is after hours work, but it’s a good thing because it’s also my hobby.
SS: It’s no mystery service industry folk, be it bartenders, waitresses, dishwashers or otherwise have many things that irk them on an hourly basis. Since you’re in a higher position on the totem pole than before, have you developed new pet peeves that come with that territory? Please don’t be too dirty.
SL: I mean, everyone’s an idiot. (Laughs) Now that there’s a distinct divide between front of house and back of house, I understand the beef. I love everybody that I work with, and I don’t think that they’re actually idiots. But goddamn, there’s some days that I just wonder about their mental state.
SS: So now, your problem lies with co-workers, not so much dipshit ingrates that don’t tip when they spend nine hours in the same seat sucking up free wi-fi?
SL: Yes. I just get screwed out of tips all the way around now.
SS: I want to know about your transformation from a girl who has lost teeth on a whim for reasons we won’t get into, to a girl who places heavy emphasis on physical fitness and competes in triathlons and other events of the sort. It has to be hard to make those decisions to adapt to the discipline. Tell us about that.
SL: Transformation? I guess (Laughs.)
SS: I certainly think so. I mean, it’d take a fuck of a lot to get me motivated to get off my ass and get into the shape to do what you’ve done. I think it’s pretty goddamn commendable.
SL: It’s definitely something that keeps me occupied. It’s something that keeps me out of trouble. I’m more aware mentally. And I think it all comes full circle- I love food, and cooking and the science behind it, and nutrition. I just realized that going nowhere fast is kind of scary.
SS: Yeah, it is. It scares the shit out of me. So did you find yourself falling into the trappings that many in our circle of friends have found themselves in? Going out way too much?
SL: Oh yeah, it’s easy especially downtown, especially in the service industry. Goddamn we’ve got some fun friends. Too much fun. But there’s something to be said for not constantly having fun, or rather finding it in the things that you never did before, or haven’t for a long time.
SS: Plus, too much circulation makes the price go down. It’s not special anymore. I’d rather someone be excited to hang than to expect to see me on the same bar stool, telling the same stories, pissing the same money down my leg.
SL: Exactly. You gotta get out there and make some new stories so you can eventually tell them on a barstool.
SS: So are the triathlons something you started involving yourself with primarily to keep you out of trouble or was it something you had a genuine interest in?
SL: Peer pressure. I had friends that were doing it and I felt like I needed some sort of a challenge. And once you learn what you can do, I mean- after that first summer of doing them I felt invincible. I’m convinced that I can do anything, within limits. Knowing mentally, you can do something you always thought so difficult is a real breakthrough.
SS: Another reason I bring these things up is, I’m a whore on social media-
SL: I hadn’t noticed. (Laughter)
SS: I know. I have to be for the type of shit that I do. And I know a lot of people hate it, but if it weren’t for that I wouldn’t make money, so- my question to you is, do you think since you’ve participated in these real life, not on the computer or phone challenges that require patience and hard work, keeping up with social tradition is less important? Easier to step back from and laugh at?
SL: Definitely. I think along with that shift came the epiphany that none of that carries long term weight.
SS: What if the internet just broke?
SL: God, I’d love it.
SS: Me too. I miss those days. Not having a cell phone or laptop. I got so much shit done. And it seems more and more, people get bored so quickly. They’re sick of Facebook, so they go to Instagram. They’re sick of Instagram so they go to Snapchat. It’s overwhelming and it’s like a full time fucking job, on top of your full time job. It’s gross.
SL: Yes. You have your real self and your social media self. Nobody’s posting how their day is actually going. And oddly enough if they are I unfollow them.
SS: Oversharing. Talking about child custody battles and shit like that. That’s not meant for anyone’s feed.
SL: People are weird. Don’t follow me on social media unless you like pictures of cats. I have to shave one of my cats as he’s developed dreadlocks. I didn’t realize you needed to comb your cat. I thought they maintained themselves.
SS: That’s bizarre you say that, because a friend of ours, just the other night told me she needs to shave her cat because it gives him more confidence and I spit my drink out because it was the funniest shit I’d ever heard. But back to social media. I told my girlfriend that I want to get off the grid and she looked at me like I was crazy. She said anyone who doesn’t have a social media account is suspicious. It’s come to that.
SL: Yeah. I mean, it’s incredibly nice if it’s used for what it was initially intended for- to connect strangers from different corners of the world. And if it weren’t for it, having mentioned I’m in hermit mode before, I wouldn’t know a single fucking thing anyone has actually been up to, I wouldn’t talk to anybody. Then springtime would come and I’d have no one.
SS: Remember when we had a podcast together?
SL: What was that called?
SS: I can’t remember. Alright, next question. I want your take on this, not to bring the mood down. You and I have both lost a few friends in the last year or two, and that’s a very odd thing for people our age and everyone handles it differently. Has the realization that we only get one shot at this thing affected you positively? Because if you’re asking me Sarah Langenfeld, I say yes. I don’t know how many people have said this to you, but if nobody has- let me be the first: I’m incredibly proud of you.
SL: Well, thank you!
SS: Absolutely. The changes you’ve made are mind blowing. I think it takes a lot of gumption to climb rank at work, compete in triathlons, travel, and stay focused on health when you’re constantly surrounded by distractions, so a tip of the cap.
SL: Well, thank you again.
SS: Do you think that’s true? That it’s affected you in a way that lit a fire under your ass?
SL: Yeah, if not consciously, then subconsciously. Whether it’s the passing of friends or just looking around at people in their highest of highs and lowest of lows. People getting married and having kids, which is exciting and great, and people who are in really low spots. Just being aware of your place and what you want that to be. It is clear we have one go at this. And how do I want to spend my time? When did we do our last podcast? Feels like a week ago, but it was about two years ago. I have no concept of time anymore.
SS: Everything’s gone so quickly. Time passes so fucking quickly now. Every time I don’t do something productive I feel incredibly guilty. If I sit still for more than a half hour I feel like a piece of shit. Next question. How did you get into “chickening,” and was it you who started the town’s tour of coops?
SL: I currently have no chickens, and to be honest don’t think I will because our housing situation is such that we may have to relocate if the nearby hospital snaps their fingers and buys our lot. But I definitely want to get back into gardening. I was part of the group who introduced it to the city council. We helped draft the ordinance that’s on the books now. To raise awareness, we started the coop tour, but now all that’s in different hands.
SS: What’s the deal with pen pals? I may make fun of you to your face but I secretly envy these things.
SL: (Laughs) I’ve had a pen pal for sixteen years. And it’s strange because it was the longest I’d gone without actually meeting a friend face to face. She’s my second longest friendship. But it’s different because we are the editors of what we choose to share with each other. We don’t know all of each other’s idiosyncrasies, so it can be a guessing game. We’d written each other for five years before meeting. It’s like- how does this person like to hang out? Can we just sit? Will she hate my fucking guts if I tap my fingers on the table a certain way? It’s very enjoyable but I just don’t know her as intimately as other friends. We met from a program in Girl’s Life Magazine.
SS: We should write them about this. It’s got to be their one pen pal success story. Without getting too perverted, tell us something our audience might not know about you.
SL: Well we had a very candid podcast so there’s not much our circle doesn’t know about.
SS: Right. Let’s not get into your unrelenting bloodlust for African American males.
SL: (Laughs) Goddammit, Shaine.
SS: But seriously, what’s something we don’t know about you?
SL: This year I’m going to give Drake a chance.
SS: How do you feel about the music of Fleetwood Mac? (Laughs) Oh, no- we don’t have to get into that…
SS: That’s a bit of an inside joke, that if you ever get the chance to ask Sarah Langenfeld about, do so in private. It’s a tremendous story. What’s your proudest achievement? Put that beer down and then tell me about it.
SL: The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. That was an incredible feeling. It was hard, though. I think the hardest part aside from training every fucking day for eight months was sitting on the boat in my wetsuit for three hours before it even started. Just mentally having to talk myself down so many times in that time frame on the boat, while waiting to jump in the water to start. And then once you’re going it was finally real.
SS: So you literally dive into the frigid San Francisco Bay?
SL: It was 58 degrees so it wasn’t too bad. There was one Asian man who did all three legs of the triathlon in a Speedo.
SS: I don’t envy his bicycle seat.
SL: It was amazing and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
SS: So, I know absolutely nothing about these things. Was this something you sought sponsorship for or did any sponsors approach you?
SL: No, I had no sponsorship.
SS: Oh, ok. I could’ve sworn I saw you rocking a “Total Drag” t-shirt.
SL: I wanted to share that moment with somebody else locally that I’m proud of. Nike doesn’t give a shit that I’m crossing the finish line. I went down and bought a shirt from Total Drag, cut the sleeves off and packed it.
SS: That’s amazing. That under so much pressure you’d have the mindset of giving exposure to a local business that really deserves it. I mean who knows who was watching? That’s pretty goddamn nice. So you said it was hard. Mentally and physically grueling?
SL: I mean, yeah, it was grueling, but I don't remember any of that. I know it was challenging because my mom bought every single goddamn event photo the professional photographers snapped of me that day and those are some seriously un-photogenic photographs. I look so angry and so grizzled. Like a war-hardened old Navy veteran. Anyway, the most vivid memories I have from that day are purely emotional. It's the weirdest thing, to have done this thing and to have such a strong attachment of emotion to it, more so than anything else. Even now, six months later, I can so distinctly recount the feeling and imagery of coming out of the foggy evergreens into a clearing, running down to the beach...it was so beautiful I just cried while I ran. And I didn't feel the slightest bit self-conscious about it either. I suppose it ties in a little with our talk of going out/bar scene/social media all being so meaningless. When's the last time anyone fondly recounted a drunken night out and wept from pure joy? Fucking never. Nothing about the bar scene conjures up the kinds of emotions endurance (athletic or otherwise) does. I know that I crossed the finish line to have my mom, my brother, and my best friend waiting with congratulatory words. I know that we all went out for congratulatory burgers and beers. But what I remember most is the feeling of weight coming off of my shoulders as soon as I closed my hotel room door and was alone for the first time after the race. I literally collapsed on my bed and wept. It was single handedly the most intense wave of emotion I have ever felt. Escape From Alcatraz was the thing that defined me for the better portion of 9 months, and it was done. All the work, aches, pains, loneliness, stress about nutrition...it was just over. That is the type of feeling I want to chase after. The deep, sinking, hopeless satisfaction of a well deserved accomplishment. The mental fist pump at the end. There is nothing better. Everyone needs to find that.
SS: That was beautiful Sarah. Thank you.