Thursday, April 2, 2020. Hired on the spot at the home improvement store. Unlike the grocery, no cringing about my “asking price” or griping about my lack of “experience.” They just need bodies. From what I gathered I could’ve worked the day or night shift, full time or part time. The media claims this place is hiring 30,000 employees and there’s a long list of other mostly low-paying retail oriented jobs booming – grocery chains, Walmart, drugstores. All from you know what. All while the Detroit area supposedly suffers a 20% dive in employment or new jobs or whatever in hell they claim to track. I couldn’t care less about the ups and downs, it never seems to have anything to do with my life which has plenty of its own.
I never knew home improvement was a seasonal business except for home and garden stuff (I remodeled my bathroom in the winter, for example) but I’ve apparently never been on the same page with the rest of the population in anything, so be it, this place gets five delivery trucks per day now versus only two in the winter. Whatever. I wanted part time and the midnight to 5am slot pays three bucks more per hour than the day shift, so, a no brainer. The trucks come in at night, the full timers unload them and the part time shift helps stock shelves. No customers. Nothing but head down, lay low, get it done and go home brainless cash flow, as Kev calls it.
It’s nothing new to me, going back and forth from a big career professional job to hourly labor and everything in between including owning my own business. Work for people, manage people, make a salary, make a shitty hourly rate, who cares? This chick interviewing me just treated it all as I would have. Warm body? Showed up for the interview? Hired. Check the box, done. It’s a ten minute drive and that’s pushing it for me these days.
I pondered full time and the day shift but I don’t know why – I just need my $3K for the audiobook and anything else, any other opportunities or developments or changes of plans will have to present themselves; it will all have to take care of itself, the cosmos, the world-of-action will have to participate in this experiment because I’m only in it for the money; money as fuel for my real life, for my dreams. I take action, the home improvement store says Yes, that’s all I need. The virus isn’t an issue, either, thank Thor – employee PPE is optional, good enough, I’m in.
I’m really of only two minds regarding work: (1) it’s the work of your life, your calling, your true vocation, an expression of who you are and why you’re here and you’re all in, giving it everything you’ve got, living it and loving it, the money is icing on the cake, or (2) it’s just a fucking paycheck. If I worked this job full time I’d make my audiobook money twice as fast but I’m trying to keep making a different mistake; that is, I know that I want to keep writing, keep editing, keep my real life active and not set my VAPM aside and just shut myself off to make money. I’ve done the let it all go thing and that didn’t work. I’ve done the total immersion in my dreams, putting it all on the line, paying all the prices and that didn’t seem to work either. And when that feeling of being stuck starts creeping up again, it’s time for action, even if it ends up being just another mistake. As long as it’s a different mistake than before, so that I can’t be accused of being both stupid and crazy (because crazy, as they say, is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, right?) then I’ve made progress. Which is to say I’ve tried my best to make progress on behalf of my best life.
I don’t want to work at the home improvement store, let alone on some night shift, let alone for some crappy wage. I’m an indie scholar and indie author. I’m a novelist and an independent scholar of comparative mythology, mythography and the psychology of religion. A night shift stocker is just a mask, a persona, a job to get paid, in this case to try to keep my author dreams alive, to keep my VAPM financed because that’s how life works. Employment slows me down because it appropriates my time and energy. It also helps pay the bills that, unfortunately, remain attached to my entrepreneurial vision. The food cart was supposed to finance itself and my food production business likewise. They didn’t. Time Crime was supposed to finance itself or at least give an indication that it someday might. It hasn’t. And the next step that I’m committed to is held up by money. So make it. An audiobook version of the novel may not have any better chance but right now, given the data, which is all I have to work from, there may indeed be more demand than product and TC1 needs that environment like nothing else in order to break through to a readership, even if it’s only a listenership. I don’t know otherwise what in fuck to do. I’m not intending to make a career – yet another career! – out of working for the man, out of being employed. But who knows? You must be prepared, as J.C. suggests, to discard your plans so as to live the life that is waiting for you. I’m pretty sure working at the home improvement store isn’t the life that is waiting for me. But right now, in this time of my economic need, it may serve to get me past a sticking point in my larger, better vision.
Who cares? Why go on about any of it? This, dear reader, is really the only thing I ever write about. Call it vocational destiny. Call it veritelically authentic personal mythology. Call it the experience of being properly alive. Whatever you call it, I’m into whatever the call is. Namely, the call that we all receive to be who we are and how we variously respond to it or dismiss it. Answer the call, hang up the phone and get busy living it or refuse the call and diminish. Those are your choices. And I’ve learned the hard way that there are no half measures, no hedging your bets. All of this is discussed in detail within the DOP. Ten years worth. Read Time Crime and you’ll get the true fiction version, the modern mythology.
Meanwhile, this is just another year and another job to add to my pile of years and jobs. And of broken dreams, perhaps. An adventure always presents the risk of failure or it wouldn’t be an adventure. An adventure also presents the possibility of success, of winning through, of facing trials and arriving into your best life, into your vision of greatness. There is no time to waste. The time is now. Get busy living or get busy dying. This is our only real choice. I aspire, when my time comes, to be able to address my bittersweet experience of life and declare wholeheartedly, “My work is done; I’m ready to go.” People do it. I can do it.
DOP1 (2010-11) VINTAGE POST:
August 9, 2011. A strange day. Angie took the day off to help out with the Sherwood delivery – another twenty-four heads, some belly, cheeks and beef brisket. A lot of food, but all stuff that I’ve proven I can sell. The delivery came on time, early in the morning, and made us scramble to get to the kitchen before it showed up (we walked from the house). Then I had to find freezer space for all of it. Then cook for the day. Then prepare another head cheese. Hard work. Angie is wiped out, but I had a good day. I’m tired, but all this work seems to be paying off for my biophycomythology – my heart feels strong though my body is sore. I feel driven to keep going with the cart and especially with the USDA-inspected head cheese production out of Union Hall.
I don’t know exactly what’s driving me but now I don’t question it – I trust my heart and my guides and I don’t need to pick apart what I’m doing anymore, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else in terms of making a living or whatever. I used to live my life as a slave to the opinions and advice of others, even when I thought I was doing my own thing. My own thing is weird I guess to most folks. I’m driven to make head cheese right now and to cook food and own my own business. I want to take things as far as I can because it energizes me. Yes, I’m a demanding dick – Angie might be the first to say that – but I just seem to know, intuitively, how this shit is supposed to go; how to work, what to do, how much energy to put into it. I’ve been wrong so many fucking times about what I’m “supposed” to be doing that I know fucking up when I see it. This time I am not fucking up. I can’t see all the details of the future, but I don’t care either – I have my vogs and they’re sufficient to allow me to pour energy into what I’m doing and to see where it takes me.
I’m not concerned as much about the destination anymore as much as the journey – to be engaged in my vocation, as silly and worthless and meaningless and crazy as it might be. It just is what it is now and I’m in the forest, following my guides and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. Although it does help to get some good feedback – to “get a toe in” as Campbell says when he talks about bringing back your “boon” from your hero journey.
I said this day was “weird.” First it was cooler for the first time in what seems like a month. We don’t have air conditioning in this shitty house, so it sucked being hot and muggy all day and night for weeks. It fucking wore our asses out. But the weird aspect really revolves around the cart folks and the vibe there – it seemed sort of half-shitty today. Angie thinks she heard some stuff about Eat pulling out of the court. I know Jay and Christina are struggling to make it all work – they’ve got kids and the pressure to make a living off the cart income, which I think is fucking crazy. I’ve said from the beginning that there’s no money in running a food cart – there’s just opportunity. Or opportunities. You have to have a vision and the drive to play out the journey. I’m seeing that some folks just don’t seem to have a clear enough vision of greatness, one that connects to their heart, and then they get lost and lose energy and maybe have to move on. I’m not saying folks are definitely going to quit, but Paul is now struggling and stressed because his employees are leaving for better pay and other reasons that have to do with their own fucking lives which makes perfect sense to me – I’ve ALWAYS wondered who the fuck besides family would work for anyone at a food cart? Your family just does you a favor, but what the fuck future is there for anyone else? It’s nuts – all these carters got carried away if you ask me, back when we were all making twice as much money, during those first few weeks. They all ramped up their operations with employees. What the fuck? My brother Kevin helped us out when we needed him for awhile, but it petered out and now I can run the cart on my own; it’s hard as fuck, but doable. He still helps me clean the kitchen on Thursday, but I’ve even done that myself.
Anyway, I think paying for employees with no hope of more revenue is starting to break the will, spirit or finances of at least some of the cart owners. Some of these folks just won’t do the work themselves – they just refuse to do the scut-work. They absolutely won’t do all the shit that’s necessary. They want to hire somebody to wash their dishes, set up and break down their cart and operate it so they can do I don’t know what – sit around and act like CEOs or some shit? I’ve said enough negative shit, I’ll shut up. Mark’s Carts might be starting to nosedive, just when I feel like I’m getting my legs under me. It’s up to me to keep vigilant as to where I’m going, use my guides, like those pigs, and just keep chugging.
August 11, 2011. Mark’s Carts was mentioned in the new Ann Arbor City Guide. No review, just in the restaurant listing section. I think that pretty much tops off the “being new on the scene” in A2. From now on, it’s work-a-day and a see-who-survives type of thing. The honeymoon is over and frankly, I’m fucking glad. The honeymoon was balls-out hard as hell and I’ve got other plans besides busting ass from a food cart. It’s everything I wanted as far as an opportunity generator and I’m going to take the ball up field as far and as fast as I can. To me, it’s not about slogging it out. It’s about the vision-of-greatness and greatness doesn’t include season II of the food cart biz. That’s not to say I won’t be doing it next year, but only if I keep it in the vog, and I’m not sure I will. After all, what more can it offer me? A regular lunch crowd that brings in $100-$200 a day revenue, before taxes, before expenses, blah, blah? That’s not sustainable. But it is a place to start from and to draw energy and opportunity from. So that’s what the fuck I’m doing. I’m in the forest adventurous and for this part of the trip, I’m riding on a food cart, guides in sight.
I wrote my vog for the UDSA-FSIS supervisor coming in tomorrow to check out Union Hall. I won’t be shot down. This is going to happen because it’s a legitimate plan with no roadblocks that cannot be overcome with pressure and time. The fact that I’m sharing the kitchen with other “tenants” shouldn’t be an issue if I’ve identified risks in my written plans and my processes account for them. What the fuck am I supposed to do, build or buy or rent an unoccupied shit-hole, pay for some build-out that only a big biz could afford? No, I’m hoping the government is on the side of small biz and allows me to get going in this way, with all due respect to the regulatory requirements involved with food safety. Let’s just get on with the biophycomythology, of me finding a way to keep my feet moving and to follow my heart as far as it will go. That’s what being alive is all about. So maybe I seem nuts to others, I don’t know. Why would a guy want to make and try to market head cheese? What type of fucked up biz is that? Now I know how to answer this stuff from my heart: it’s just what I have to do. My heart tells me this is right and in line with my guides and biophycomythology. It will take me where I need to go. I don’t wonder or fret about the details, I’m just intuitively convinced that this is what I must do. I’m thankful for the clarity – it’s something I’ve worked hard to obtain, so I’m hanging on to it and working it through until it no longer helps with the journey. This is how to live: follow these things that your heart tells you that you must do, but keep your feet moving, your eyes open, your ears open and in touch with reality – the point is not to check out, letting the weeds grow around the gate as Campbell says. I want to stay engaged with the world-of-action. I’m confident that if I pursue the head cheese production, it will progress to a vanishing point or break through into something really cool that keeps me going with it. Either way, it’s what I ought to be doing and the lessons learned will be useful.