This is the Sea

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Sunday, April 5, 2020. I read up as much as I could on D.S. and he’d posted “Breaking News” on his website http://www.dstifel.com/ :

“I am touring with the Eagles as part of the 2020 Hotel California Tour! Never fear, my narration work proceeds full speed ahead! We’ll be visiting 9 cities and perform 22 concerts across the US over the next few months. Between tour legs, I take refuge in the Tardis and speak to padded walls. ;-)”

If we end up working together – it would really suck if things somehow fell through – I’ll have to ask him about this, namely what his role was to be (the first half of the tour is cancelled, of course, along with that of every other concert because of the virus).[1] Otherwise, I find that he lived a year in Cairo, of all fucking places! – and has an interest in Egyptology. How all this stuff – music, locales, accents and Doctor Who, etcetera – comes together, seems to jive, seems so synchronistic, so much like significant coincidence powered by cosmic forces of destiny, as it were, is all part of pursuing your VAPM. Anyone acting on behalf of their veritelically authentic personal mythology or in pedestrian terms their right livelihood or proper work I believe experiences an aspect of what can only be described as cosmic support, this sense of being further empowered by forces outside of us or rather connected to us.

All of this is part of the work, the adventure, of course and I like managing myself in this way. That an author contracted to a trad publisher would be slave to all their initiatives, ideas, strategies or lack thereof must be maddening. Wanting to make an audiobook of TC1 and having the publisher baulk at the idea, say, because the print and epub haven’t sold enough to justify it, or if they did agree that they’d choose the narrator and all that, ugh, I couldn’t fucking bear it. Even if I was getting paid it would make me crazy to be subject to somebody else’s interpretation and opinion and vision on behalf of my story, my work. I can take advice, criticism and editing but I couldn’t bear being pushed around in such a manner, to have lost control over the destiny of my writing in that way. Funny how life works out, then. If I can somehow manage to break the book through into economic sustainability then all will be well. Meanwhile, in spite of my belief in the book, in spite of my faith in its authenticity, my work remains fraught and tinged with an unsettling sense of risk, illegitimacy, futility, foolish desperation and self-delusion.

The near future, then, involves waiting 5 – 7 business days to hear back from Findaway and a handful of days or less to hear back from the home improvement job. I’ll likely be slogging through the nightshift, or at least a day or two of training on days, perhaps, before trying to adapt to the lifestyle of shift work by the time the audiobook project moves forward. So be it; getting on with getting paid and to begin ticking off the ten weeks as soon as possible is best. I am not looking forward to employment. But I’m trying to keep an open mind regarding the potential for good things besides money that may come of it. Who knows? – I may not hate the work, I may like some folks I work with, the hours may not feel like a prison and a perhaps the time will pass quickly. But I hate that I have to want the time to pass quickly. And having had so many jobs in the past that suck, I can’t help but expect the worst despite knowing that it does me no good to project such thoughts, such bad energy. Ten weeks. Ten weeks. Ten weeks. Just keep at it, be mindful, do your best to keep everything in perspective, keep your head down and your mouth shut. That’s the advice to myself. Hell, if full time remains an opportunity, who knows, I might take them up on it just to expedite the pay out and my freedom. And there’s always the very slight possibility that the work won’t destroy my soul and I can keep my fingers in and tolerate it and keep the damn job to help finance TC2. But one thing at a time, just get through each day doing my best to get from where I am to where I want to be.

DOP1 (2010-11) VINTAGE POST:

This is the Sea

“That was the river; this is the sea” – Mike Scott.

So here I am, post Homegrown Festival: OMG. Crazy. Fucking NUTS. We sold every ounce of food in two hours and ten minutes (and had started with all our trays full). People just kept coming. $640 revenue, hh’s biggest one-day sales number ever, but it felt like it should’ve (and could’ve) been twice that. That’s what a beer and wine tent can do. When people drink, they like to eat and their wallets get loose. Thank Thor I asked my brother to help out – he became the expediter: taking money, writing orders on our receipt tickets then, when those ran out, writing orders on napkins for Angie to pass along to me. Both she and Kevin collected the money and kept the crowd from rioting in line (har). I should’ve photographed the cart post-crush, it was destroyed with slop and chop, a hilarious mess! – Ang said it looked like somebody threw up on it. The folks lined up early and never let up. When the wheels came off, early, I didn’t have time to look up, let alone wipe anything down. I’m not kidding: I never had a chance to even raise my head except the one time I felt I just had to take a look – a glimpse – at the crowd and to try to gasp for air. But then heads down and immediately back to the fire. The food was literally flying.

As well as we did financially, I can’t say that I enjoyed the experience. It was simply too crazy, too nuts, too much of a mad, unrestrained crush; a non-stop griddle, steam tray, food flying challenge to stay at least partially out of the weeds…. Restaurant work can truly be just a body-crushing grind of heads-down churning. It’s difficult to keep the joy in it when it’s that way. None of us enjoyed working like that, it was just too fucking stressful. But like Kevin said, “you’re living large.” We all were. After we shut down and turned the folks away, we downed a couple well-deserved tiny little beers and blew out of there, towing the cart back to its new spot in the front of the food court, where EAT was. We blew out our dishes, and, utterly shagged out, went the fuck home. Or tried too….

On the way, driving down Hoover in front of the Intramural building, we had to negotiate a throng of wasted collegians and blitheringly drunk football fans juiced to the max from their football Saturday partying. I drove carefully down the street, wagging my head from side-to-side trying to keep an eye on both sides of the vehicle. Despite both me and Angie with eyes wide open and scanning, driving carefully, I somehow drilled a dude with the F150 – he walked right out in front of me like I wasn’t even there – right smack into my steel bumper, a full contact body-slam between truck and human. He crumpled like a sheet of paper, disappearing under the left front corner of the truck. I thought if he wasn’t dead, he was gonna be so fucked up, so injured that I didn’t know what. Incongruously – amazingly – he almost immediately bounced up, like fucking Gumby and walked right back to the sidewalk where he came from, trying to shake off the tackle. Adrenaline can do wonders, even when you’re out on your feet drunk. I stuck my head out of the window, exclaiming “Holy shit are you allright man!? Hey, I’m sorry, are you all right!?

 The night had already been remarkably nuts – hell, the whole day had already been nuts – but now it got nuttier. Some CRAZY fucking bitch who had seen us the tail end of our collision with this guy – she must have been almost equally alchohol-stunned – started yelling at me at the top of her lungs, bitching me out and threatening to call the cops for hitting this kid. She obviously missed the part where he walked with speed right in front of my truck. This bitch’s energy was amazing; she was so fucking amped I couldn’t believe it. Loud? I’ve never heard a female make so much fucking noise. When she kept shouting that she was going to call the cops (there was in fact a patrol car sitting only half a block away) I yelled back at her to “GO AHEAD!” I was trying to both apologize to the guy I hit and make sure he was o.k. as well as cool this screaming hell-whore down, but she just kept going and going and going, getting louder and louder and louder. I determined the guy must have been okay – he seemed determined to act like it didn’t happen, though he was obviously limping – he must have taken some damage (and if he’s not sore as hell somewhere today and black & blue tomorrow), I’d eat my shorts. Crazy drunk fucker. He said something about me going fifty miles and hour (I was going twenty) and that there were free drinks across the street (yeah, so what?) so I assume he just spaced-out in a blind rush to get to more booze. The next day, with the truck parked safely in the 1433 driveway (where I expected cops to show up any minute but they never did), I found the only evidence of the impact: a pattern of small pink-colored droplets solidified on my hood – remnants of his fru-fru mystery punch that had him three-sheets to the wind.

But back to the incident. I considered pulling over, getting the cops involved, blah, blah, but this loud-mouth bitch was so obnoxious – like a fucking air raid siren – that I just started losing it myself. Christ, I had just worked a brutal jillion-hour food cart ball-buster of a day and night and I was now at the point of intolerance. I yelled at the girl at the top of MY lungs, “WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!??” No effect. Again, I scream at her, “SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU CRAZY BITCH!!!!???” She absorbed all my rage and reflected it right back at me, like a demon, like an insande witch. I had to decide what to do besides spend the rest of the night yelling and then getting into a brawl. A scene was developing beyond the already crazy scene we made the mistake of driving into. I looked at Angie – dumbstruck beside me – looked down the street, and hit the gas. I fucking drove the fuck out of there. Carefully, but quickly, hoping to God nobody would remember my license plate number or what the truck looked like. They were all so fucking wasted, I gambled they wouldn’t remember anything. Still, I worried all night and for the next day or so about whether I’d get a phone call from the Police or see a cop car parked out in front of 1433. I made sure to wash the truck and I would’ve parked it in the garage, in hiding, if it wasn’t impossible, but in the end, nothing happened. I hope that lad was really okay; shit, I could’ve killed him.

It’s Monday, September 12, 2011 and I’m getting anxious about the Wednesday USDA visit – one minute I feel confident as hell and the next I feel like I don’t have any idea what the fuck I’m doing. So the reality, as usual, is somewhere in between – I do know what I’m doing, but I certainly don’t know everything about this process. HACCP, SSOPs, etc. – what will the USDA folks focus on? I’ve never done this before and I’m going to need to learn to get where I’m going. So when I find myself getting questioned and I don’t know the answer, or if they need to see some document and my version is inadequate or missing completely, then I take notes, move on to the next topic and in general accommodate all their questions, inquiries and inspections; treating the whole experience as the learning opportunity that it is. When they give me the list of corrections and additions and adjustments I need to make, then I’ll be that much closer to the Grant being issued. They’ll give me the option of either sending updates by email or they may need to visit again – either way, I’m going to nail this thing and accomplish this task. Pressure and time. My vision of greatness for this:

Vision of Greatness

USDA-FSIS & EAIO “Walk Through” Wednesday, September 14, 2011.

Prouds:

I’ve studied and examined the regs, support docs and advice from USDA regarding the HACCP, SSOP, Lm and support document requirements for the Grant.

I’ve established my HACCP, SSOP, Lm written program (imbedded in the SSOP), and my equipment segregation written program.

I’ve organized my plans and support documentation into a binder that is easy to reference.

I’ve organized my recordkeeping documents into a binder that is easy to reference.

I’ve corresponded effectively with Tom G. to continue to make progress towards this important final step towards obtaining the Grant, and verified that this is not a one-shot deal – I will have the opportunity to make the necessary changes and corrections that they want.

Within the past year, I’ve started from nothing, developed my biophycomythology, started hh, moved from Texas to Ann Arbor, earned $18K in hh revenue, had great sales, lousy sales, learned all about working in a commercial kitchen, and put my headcheese, a premier artisanal product, on the culinary map.

VOG:

I’m at Union Hall Kitchen working with Tom and the EIAO inspector and we can see that my production process is safe, sanitary and well documented. They’re impressed with the obvious care and skill that I put into the headcheese and my documentation, and I’m impressed with their professionalism, patience and support. We can all see that I will receive the Grant of Inspection for Establishment 989 as a result of our efforts – there are no “deal-breaker” problems, and any concerns about food safety (temperature, time, Lm, cross-contamination, etc.) are being addressed with confidence on both sides and with a spirit of cooperation.

It’s fun to be involved in such an important day for HH and to be able to focus on the future of my business, beyond the food cart. I’m gaining the experience and skills necessary to “go for greatness” with HH and I’m excited and jazzed to be using all of my strengths to make this happen – it energizes me to be immersed in my vocation. With the Grant, HH will move beyond sustainability and thrive – HH Headcheese is the boon I’ve brought back from my hero’s journey and the world has embraced it. The USDA folks are excited to help make this happen because they also are rewarded with what they want – a new Establishment that justifies a new inspector in the region who will work for Tom G. – he gets his help and I get my Grant! It’s a proud and exciting day to have moved so close to completion of the application process!

I bought The Art of Charcuterie by Jane Grigson at a bookbinding and selling festival at Kerrytown – Angie wanted to go and listen to Ari interview one of his favorite people – Meg Noori – a poet and native American language researcher and proponent. We checked that out then walked around and I fell upon a first edition (American Version) of the book at one of the seller’s booths. I’d heard about it of course, but never spent any time with it. This was a $65 version, and I knew I could’ve got an amazon copy for under twenty bucks, but this felt right in the nut-spinning, nadi spinning way so I went for it. Also, after the blitzkrieg at Homegrown the night before, I felt I deserved something nice.

Jane Grigson’s The Art of Charcuterie

I’m now quite enamored of this fat little book. Grigson writes with a charming literary grace, personal directness, worldliness (she consistently points out the minor or major differences as they apply to British, French and American methods), and commitment to all the best things about pigs and cooking them. One of her brine cure recipes, which she refers to as “the best one to keep in an all-purpose brine crock,” asks for “3 quarts soft or rain water.”[2] In her description of a recipe for “Bath Chap” which I presume to be British and involves the “lower jaw” of the pig, she says without presumption, “When it’s quite cold, cover with toasted bread crumbs and cut the end of the snout off, as it upsets some people.”[3]


[1] We had a train trip to Chicago planned for this coming weekend to see Graham Parker at the Old Town School of Folk Music and the show was recently rescheduled for the same date next year, fucking crazy, oh well.

[2] Jane Grigson, The Art of Charcuterie, (New York: Knopf, 1968 [1967], 192.

[3] Ibid., 235.