Out to Sea

Blog

Today, only a DOP1 (2010-11) VINTAGE POST:

Out to Sea

We walked to the kitchen and back twice today – six miles total and we certainly need the exercise. Out of the gym for about two months now, going from skinnier than ever to spare tire all in eight fucking weeks, crazy. Getting some sleep. Getting some rest. Some walking. Some around town stuff. Top of the park last night, me and angie howling at the moon, drinking too much, who cares? We deserve to let go.

So where are we? Out to sea. The biophycomythological sea. Using our guides, but not knowing the destination. Just BEING. Being who we are. I’m being who I am. I’m just not sure it doesn’t suck as bad as not being who I am. Hard ass mother fucking work is what this is. But there are paybacks, givebacks, from the folks we meet at the cart. It’s our food and we’re selling it and communicating in the way I wanted to. To see if I could do it. Sell my food and connect to folks in that way. Living an unconventional life. The trade-offs that life requires are still there – I feel like I’ve given up a lot to get this life. But it’s better than what I gave up, which I can only describe as my sould, at all my other jobs just to make a decent buck. So now I get some “give-back” from the world. All while pouring out more from myself than ever. But maybe I’m getting better at this and it will be doable. If I stick with this new thing, this ocean voyage with no destination, just guides and a compass direction, where it takes me might just be bliss. But hard-won, which will have to suffice. I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Where is it that we’re going on this hero’s journey? Into just another version of the ubiquitous failed small business – another broken dream, another lesson learned about trying to turn a hobby into a vocation? I just can’t foresee the outcome at all. But what’s cool is that I’m not sweating the not knowing like I used to. I’m just sticking with it, following my guides, trying to make this hh biz sustainable in some way so we can keep moving forward. Texas seems like a million years ago and also just like yesterday. That awesome house. That biophycomythological fiasco. I actually miss some of that shit down there, like the calm at least. The time and space – too much of it of course – to think and write and walk. To do a lot of what I wanted. Except the big shit, of which hh is the flagship.

Side note: I’m still baffled as to why my writing seems so fucking un-compelling; so fucking boring. This story seems like it should be more interesting to read. What I don’t do effectively is tell the story from outside my own head – I don’t tell stories well at all – I’m not engagingly descriptive or funny and I should be both.

I liken it to an ocean voyage and I’m thinking more like captain Ahab and Moby Dick-type stuff – cruising the open ocean in search of something – whales, adventure, whatever it is that involves being who I am and the story that will play out as a result of that pursuit. A hard-ass fucking dangerous, unpredictable journey. There’s really no “coming home” from it – the changes have already been to great – too comprehensive and extensive. No going back. As I thought, being back in A2 isn’t the same as it used to be – I don’t feel the same magic or something – I knew I wouldn’t. You can’t go back.

“Home” is something I’ve definitely lost along the way, with all these years of fucking around. That I’m creating my own path now, oceans or woodlands, it doesn’t matter the metaphor, I’m out there – me and Angie both. We’ve almost cracked once or twice already. We might lose our way again, and the thought of that is something I wish would go away – it seems like getting on the biophycomythological “ferry” would at least relieve you of the possibility of starting over again. I guess that doesn’t ever go away. Failure won’t leave the party. Always the possibility. I think it’s got something to do with using different biophycomythological “muscles” – getting used to being creative or unconventional or whatever – it does take getting used to. I can see that we’re getting some strength back. Getting our legs under us. Sea legs. There’s been so much good about this hh experience – the bad has just been start-up struggles. Surprises. Unexpected punishing physical hell. Unexpected punishing financial strain. But I can see how it’s working, my guides have not let me down.

Should I work the cart alone tomorrow? Kev’s busy with his art show prep. I feel like I need to be able to work it alone, but doing everything ‘ain’t easy – all the prep, all the clean-up, all the money-taking, change-making, conversations, samples, etc. I might get in the weeds. So what? I’ll give it a shot. Maybe. God, I’d like to be good at this, but maybe I’m not. I need to fucking delete this lame chapter.

June 20, 2011. I ran the cart on my own today. A good day that had some structure that I’d like to run with. I wake up, drink coffee, check email, walk the 1.5 miles to kitchen, get the cart going (take the tarp off, fill the steam tray with water, light the burners, install the umbrella), prep and cook stuff (or reheat leftovers), sell stuff, talk to folks, clean up quick, put everything away and get the fuck out; walking back home to chill out by 4:30pm. It’s a life. In tune with my biophycomythology. I need to do some more business though, as sales have leveled off at less, sometimes much less, than $200/day. Now I’m thinking $150/day is good, when the first month was kicking at $300+ per day. But this is what I expected, really. Unless we get beer and wine at the court, then we’re fucked for more biz now that the buzz of newness has worn off.

I think often about the money I used to make. Well, not the money exactly but what it allowed us to do regarding feeling confident about buying stuff and going places. I realize too well that it’s not worth it to start pining for piles of cash to spend on stuff. I’m hoping I’ll just get used to having less buying power again, like I pretty much always used to. It was only the last handful of years that saw me making anywhere near what I thought I deserved, after all that education and experience in the industrial waste field. There’s this young kid, maybe ten years old, working in the kitchen – a nephew of one of Mark H’s employees (who used to co-own a small, locally famous, little neighborhood restaurant in Ann Arbor’s Old West Side area, where me and Angie used to live that since went out of biz). The kid’s a natural kitchen/cook/laborer with a great attitude and a hilariously self-possessed maturity for someone so young. He can work his ass off cheerfully sweeping, mopping, taking out trash, or mincing garlic. He can handle a knife or a broom and banter with adults better than a twenty-something. I sort of remember being that age, where you connect with life more directly and without the self-consciousness that so cripples you later in life. I wonder where he’ll be when he’s my age?

So here I am doing, for maybe the first time in my life, what I really ought to be doing, without thinking I’m supposed to be doing something else. That right there is the whole fucking point of living as I see it now and it’s funny, because it still takes getting used to – you don’t just hear a bell ring, or flick a switch in your brain and be who you are; I can’t remove my past and that’s where the triggers and bad habits are. I wish it came easier. I wish I could just surrender to it all completely, like I might have been able to when I was much younger. Life is better this way, though it involves giving up my nice TX house, and anything like a clear future. Fuck the clear future – I’ve learned it’s one of the worst things about “success” – the knowing what’s coming all the time. The seeing your life all the way to the end including the casket. It’s much more fun this way – who the fuck knows what will happen? The VOGs outline the story and provide some detail, but the day-to-day living still holds mystery.

Side bar: what is all this biophycomythology based on? By what measure or evidence do I establish the legitimacy of why one should work to be who they are versus just “be?” Is there some reason, some compelling purpose beyond simply connecting yourself to the universal? No. There’s no religion to it, the idea of living your life without existential angst, or at least minimizing it. Living within a certain purpose, as certain as we can discover in this complex life; living simply in a complex world is an achievement and a purpose unto itself. It seems logical that if we come from the physical stuff of the universe – the planets, the stars, the earth – whatever, that there should be a place for us within it that works to the advantage of the whole big picture. That sounds spiritual. It also sounds naturalistic. Or pagan or whatever the fuck – that the natural world is what there is, all there is. But I’m not saying it’s to be worshiped or obeyed. Or that you should even give a shit about anybody else. Get your shit together, get your own house in order, and things should take care of themselves. I guess it’s mostly based on empirical evidence. It works best that way for everyone. That, and it “feels” right.

June 21, 2011. End of day. $90 from the cart. Helen from Eat asked if we’d be doing the cart next season and Angie told her probably not. Helen agreed, but was not really sure. And we aren’t either. I don’t think anybody is. The food everyone makes is good, and we all work our asses off. Some construction guy, working for Mark H., asked me how biz was today. He said he used to be in the biz and that “it never ends….” Some other guy me and Jay met in the bar this afternoon owns a bar way out past the west side of A2 and knows Mark H. He also used to own a crappy shit dump karaoke-playing miller-lite-type hang-out that some of our old work folks used to like way back in the day. He seems totally jaded, saying he’d never do it again regarding getting in the bar and restaurant business:

I had a chance to go to school and be an architect, but I got hooked on the nightly cash in my hand. In my twenties and thirties, I thought it was great to be out drinking all night and still come home with cash in my pocket. But you get older and it becomes more of a job.

Wow. The voice of experience. This type of biophycomythology stuff is good. It just reinforces to me the importance of doing what you ought to be doing. If you’re bitter and jaded, then try something the fuck else, why continue to live in a way that brings you down? That mind-set of “making a living” just drives me fucking nuts. It goes all the way back to that “tour” of the shitty Sheldon Road Ford Plant that I took back when I was eighteen. I was sick as a dog that day – too sick to go to school, but I felt obligated to show up for the fucking bullshit “tour” my guidance counselor set up for me – nothing against the guy, thanks, but I felt like hell that day from allergies or a cold or some shit and could barely function. But I showed up, saw the boring-ass shit going on in the plant, all the lifers shoving plastic “plenums” around. (The plenum is basically an air baffle – a big hunk of black plastic that gets installed behind the dashboard and directs air from the AC and heating system out through the vents, blah, blah). Somebody has to make it and somebody has to put the shit together I guess. Or we could just ride horses. This guy that took me on the tour was a jaded old fuck too. He hated his job, I could tell. I could also tell he was using this high-school-kid tour thing to blow off a large part of his day walking around and talking to people. I asked him if he liked his job and he said, “It’s a living.” Typical auto plant worker, of which I’ve known too many – weirdly smug and defeated at the same time. I think it comes from doing work that a monkey could fucking be trained to do but getting paid like you’re a white collar college-educated executive. At least that’s how it used to be. Not anymore. They finally decided to start paying those fuckers what they’re worth, which is not fucking much. From over $30 an hour to something like $14 an hour, which is still too much if you ask me. Why am I going on this tangent?

Cart-Work

The last two days I’ve felt like I have a vocation. It makes me feel a part of the world and respectable. The really great thing is that it’s MY OWN FUCKING BUSINESS! Better than a job. I own it and can do whatever the fuck I want with it. Show up. Not show up. Sell food or not sell food. Be in it to win it, or decide to dump the whole fucking thing. My way. What a great fucking thing.

Can I keep this life going some how? What about the end of the season? What the hell am I going to do? Work for ZCoB for chump change? That’s what Ji Hye doesn’t like about it there I think. The same thing that everyone doesn’t like about working for someone else: not enough pay nor position to keep you jazzed. And nothing changing in the foreseeable future. So you ask to get promoted, ask for more responsibility, more money, more training, more and more and the bosses just tell you that there ‘ain’t any. No room to move up, let alone make anymore money. Actually, they don’t tell you that where I come from, which is part of the hell they put you through – they were never honest with me about advancement – they’d lie to you about this or that and then you’d work for another fucking year or two and finally get a piece of the carrot. By that time you’re getting so fucking soft that you’re in danger of becoming a corporate lifer. A slow death, sometimes so slow and numbing that you think you’re still happy. Wrong. You’ve lost your fucking mind to the grind.

So I don’t know how hh will carry on if at all. It still seems like it should, even with the questionable revenue. The money really doesn’t surprise me one fucking bit. I don’t know if my vog should be more geared towards profits and cash flow and piling up jing or not. It doesn’t feel right to do anything but just keep an eye on the money and learn what this food service biz is all about; all the while keeping my vog jazzy and never looking at this gig as some “job.” I’m being who I am, and I’m trusting and putting faith in the process and the idea of being on another hero’s journey, another mythic adventure, living out my personal myth. I cannot envision the bliss or fiasco yet. I’m still believing in the bliss – man, after all these attempts at it, maybe one of these adventures will work out.