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Thursday, April 23, 2020. I heard back from Findaway yesterday – the contract is signed and D.S. is locked in as the narrator! Now it’s just a matter of being patient with the schedule, the screwed up economy and the earning of the money. It will happen. Just like the print and eBook versions. It’s all push and pull, a cosmic dance, and the will to pull the future and the past into a vital, ever transitory present. That’s my job, to engage the vision. The rest of it – the success or lack thereof in economic terms, whatever zeitgeist it taps or doesn’t – it’s not in my control, it’s not the thing to fret about. Forward progress is all that matters.

I could rant and rave about the trashed economy, that book and audiobook sales and shipments are jacked up and suffering because of the boondoggled machinations of virus paranoia but who cares? – it’s all just more shit that I can’t control, that I have no influence over other than holding to my vision. Timing? It’s not up to me.

DOP1 (2010-11) VINTAGE POST:

Coffee, Bread & Cheese

Wednesday, December 7, 2011. A day in which I’m needing all of my “tools.” My guides seem far off, maybe I’ve lost them. The way is unclear and I’m frustrated. The h-cheese energy that seemed so vital earlier in the week has just about flat-lined. First, the h-cheese is not on the shelves at Plum and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. I don’t want to ask Kellie about it because a) I don’t want to seem like a desperate-Dan and a fucking pest with nothing to do but worry about his little h-cheese business, and b) maybe she’s still working on the pricing and maybe it takes awhile to get new product on the shelves. If it was me, I’d have had a perishable product on the shelves the same day I fucking bought it, so that’s why I’m thinking there may indeed be a problem. Like maybe she changed her mind. I’m going to give it the week that I think is fair, then I’m going to ask about it and then I’m going to get pissed if things have changed.

Un-attachment. Damn near fucking impossible, but I’m going to attempt it here because my other unappealing option is to freak out with despair, frustration and self-pity at the world’s indifference to the drums of my destiny. I have this book, or diary, or journal, or blog, or rant, or whatever the hell it is. I have my tunes. I have good coffee, bread and cheese. The twenty pig heads I have in my half of the commercial freezer will keep until the spring if necessary and I can “huck” the three or four terrines I have left into the freezer too. I’ll do that today I think – after dinner – if I get no feedback or options this afternoon. I’ll take that action. If hh has to “freeze up,” literally and figuratively, until further notice, so be it.

What REALLY fucking bugs me about all this shit? THE TOTAL LACK OF COMMUNICATION FROM RETAILERS. NO FUCKING FEEDBACK. NO QUESTIONS LET ALONE ANSWERS. IT’S SO FUCKING UNPROFESSIONAL. Even zcob disappointed the hell out of me, which I guess should tell me something about the food biz: if even THEY treat folks like that, then what hope is there? Here I am, chewing glass. I’m thankful for the coffee, bread and cheese. I’ll heat up the split pea soup I made, which is very good, no surprise, I’m a good cook. Being a good cook is only part of the story however and being a house-husband is not in the vision. I must hold the line. Today is the 70th “anniversary” of the Pearl Harbor attack. December 7th, 1941. My little fucking problems….

“Myths derive from the visions of people who have searched their own most inward world.”[1] Campbell continues:

For myths, like dreams, arise out of the imagination. Now, there are two orders of dream. There is the simple, personal dream [hh for example] where you get tangled up in your own twists and resistance to your life, the conflict between wish and prohibition, the stuff of Freudian analysis, and so forth, all of which I will discuss later. But then there is another level of dream, which we call vision, where one has gone past one’s personal horizon and confronted the great universal problems, the problems that are also those rendered in the great myths. For example, when you face great calamity, what is it that supports you and carries you through? Do you have something that supports you and carries you through, or does that which you thought was going to support you fail? That is the test of the underlying myth by which you live.[2]

It feels like my myth is being tested. It makes me wonder what my myth is yet again. I thought I had developed or discovered it. Or corrected it from the bullshit delusion I was living before I began this biophycomythological rehab almost two years ago. It’ll be two years on January 16th or so – I think that’s the last time I got fired. That’s when I remember walking out to the front gate of the refinery, escorted of course, by my boss, who had turned against me just as I’d turned against him. “I’m sorry it had to be this way,” he said. Angered, I almost blurted out “It doesn’t have to be, asshole.” I stuck my hand out, feeling sort of silly for doing it in that situation, but it seemed like the right thing to do, I don’t know why. He shook it, and I turned and walked away; from what had become an awful job, an awful fiasco and an awful, terrible mistake. I thought later that I should’ve stripped off my uniform shirt and chucked it into the trash can on the way out – they didn’t want the uniforms back anyway. But I wore it home for some dumb reason. I don’t remember walking back to my truck or driving home. I don’t remember coming through the front door. I felt terribly frustrated, at odds with myself and the world, humiliated, again, and sad. Despite knowing it was coming, I still felt like hell. I was desperately tired; I was tired of the strain of holding on while looking for another job and I was tired of myself and what I’d gotten Angie and I into. I was tired of waiting for the shoe to drop. I knew Angie would understand – she expected me to get fired too – but it still sucked having to tell her. Again. What hell. All my agonizing, exhilarating, impossibly stressful and demanding work had come to nothing. Again. A fiasco; my biggest yet, by a long shot. When I told Angie, I remember she hugged me and I felt better and worse at the same time. That’s all I remember until the next morning, when I sat with our dog on the back porch, with the breeze blowing (January in the gulf coast is some of their most pleasant weather), both of us, animal and human, looking into the distance. It was me pondering existence again, a little glad that the strain was all over – no more meetings, presentations, temptations, expectations, failures, whatever – just me, my dog and my wife again, with an unknown future. I just sat with the dog, silently, as she sniffed the breeze and took in the day, just as she always did. When I try to remember what was going through my head that morning, besides the sense of relief, all that comes to me is a sense of an ending for which I couldn’t fathom the consequences. Perhaps it’s what the end of a war feels like; it just ends, and for better or for worse, all that’s happened is history and the future is a blank slate, or feels like one. It’s a feeling of not wanting to go back, yet not wanting to entirely move on either. I paused like that, in between days, so to speak, for I don’t know how long.

My situation now reminds of it. Like the several other times I had nothing but the unknown in front of me and the inside of my own fucked up head to deal with, to somehow assimilate, learn from and live with. There’s nothing now, after all my failures, but a future to create, again, from scratch. In Texas, it really felt like scratch; like I’d reached a new level of failure; like the prospect of reinventing myself was going to require a new set of tools. Of course I was free also, because when something is broken beyond repair, which my career now was, you’re free of the necessity to fix it. Out of habit, I continued applying for jobs, getting a few telephone interviews, whatever, but each one left me more depleted, lost, frustrated and convinced that something had to be overhauled in my life. I had changed in some fundamental way, though I had no idea what to make of it, at least for a while.

Angie gave me Jack Canfield’s book, something our real estate agent from Michigan had recommended (long before I got fired) and I think that was the beginning of the rehabilitation, as I began calling it. I began reading again, like I always do post-fiasco, and got a glimpse of how I might begin to climb out again, but this time with new tools and ideas and hope. That book started me on the adventure that I feel like I may be coming to the end of now – the reinvention of myself and the surrender to the left hand path – to being who I am. It’s too bad I’m losing confidence, losing a sense of my guides, and wondering if I’ve run this hh gig out to its vanishing point. Maybe it’s just the “busy” holidays that have shut down all h-cheese progress after a brief blip of “success.” Success that doesn’t appear to be coming to pass after all. No h-cheese on the shelves at Plum Market, after they requested it and I gave them an invoice. I didn’t check the shelves today and I’m not emailing to inquire what the fuck until Friday because it’ll have been a week. And now, I haven’t heard back from The Produce Station after they approached me – what the fuck? Kendall at the Antonelli’s in Austin finally replied to say she would’ve liked to have tasted it, but since she’s pregnant, she can’t even work in the deli because most food and the smell of the cheese puts her off; she delegated the task to someone else who supposedly did the tastings. I don’t expect to hear back. But I had to laugh at the email – you can’t make that shit up – and I need to be able to laugh at this hh adventure, however it turns out. It may be the end, it may be just a holiday pause, but whatever it is, I need to keep a sense of fucking humor about the whole thing. Why the fuck am I so bloody fucking hell bent for leather all the fucking time? Un-attach and laugh out loud for a change…cripes, I gotta lighten up.

I don’t know how things have fallen so flat so quickly and seemed to have come to a complete halt. Maybe it’s the holidays. Jerry at Sherwood says to wait until after the new year to get samples to the shops he knows about in Detroit because he thinks samples get lost and I won’t get their full attention until the holidays are over. Good advice I suppose. But I’m just struggling now from the come-down – I was so ridiculously busy and tired for the last six months and now I’m twiddling my thumbs. So today I just literally scrubbed floors – cleaned the bathroom, cooked dinner, listened to tunes loudly, wrote in this lousy fucking tome, inquired with Jerry at Sherwood, did two rounds of yoga and generally tried to act as if and just keep my feet moving to keep from going fucking bonkers over this down time. I need to stop, drop and listen. The resistances to my personal dreams, as Campbell would call them, are baffling me right now – it’s like I’m being teased – like a get taunted with some little aspect of success, then it gets yanked back into oblivion with me standing there expectantly, like a moron, staring at the wall and talking to myself. My brother is in a similar situation with his plans that don’t seem to want to get off the ground, let alone flourish. What to do next? I’ll try to take my own advice and ask What’s the very next step I want to take?

I begin to think that I have a genius for working like an ox over totally irrelevant subjects. … I am filled with an excruciating sense of never having gotten anywhere – but when I sit down and try to discover where it is I want to get, I’m at a loss. … The thought of growing into a professor gives me the creeps. A lifetime to be spent trying to kid myself and my pupils into believing that the thing that we are looking for is in books! I don’t know where it is – but I feel just now pretty sure that it isn’t in books. – It isn’t in travel. – It isn’t in California. – It isn’t in New York. … Where is it? And what is it, after all?[3]

I’m not sure why I tend towards what might be looked upon as an “obsession” with Campbell throughout this book. I can only explain my interest in and reliance upon his words, especially during times of duress and when I’m kicking around at the edges of despair, like I am now, by continually referencing what he says. The quote above contains everything about the angst that continues to plague me. But the paragraph, written when Campbell was twenty-eight years old, says it all about the questions and the quest and the discouragement, tinged with hope, that I seem unable to get past. At forty-six (an age that I can’t fully believe I’m at) I’m frustrated to be in the midst of what I often consider to be a young man’s problems. Campbell even says somewhere, and I’m paraphrasing, that the problems of youth are not the problems of middle age, which are likewise not the problems of old age. Yet I seem fairly well stuck in the problems of youth.

I’m hoping that this dip in confidence and the seeming lack of hh progress is just a result of the come-down from the high-energy of the cart season and the pre-occupation with holiday sales at the shops that have sampled my h-cheese. Maybe Jerry’s right: after the new year is a better time to introduce a new product. But I can’t help but be concerned with the fact that I’ve made no sales. Failure experiences are nothing to new to me of course but it’s my lack of preparedness for resistance inherent in this next phase of hh that has me somewhat flummoxed. Indeed, is that which I thought would support me failing? Is what I believed to be my myth failing this test? After all this work, what indeed is the myth that I’m living by – have I misjudged it, misinterpreted it, failed to properly develop it or identify it? Do I have it all wrong again? I’m struggling now to take my own advice about listening to my heart. I’ve become very attached to my desire to succeed with hh h-cheese and to show the world who I am and what I can do and that I’m a success on their terms as well as my own. I want to “get going” at full speed and make up all the ground that I’ve felt I’ve lost over the years. This is the impatience that remains as one of my most troubling habits.

I’ll walk to the kitchen today where I’ll discard the peppers I was holding for a possible zcob hot sandwich sampling event, and consider wrapping the two defrosted heads in cellophane and hucking them back into the freezer There just isn’t any reason to make more h-cheese, so fuck it. Then I’ll continue walking to Plum Market and pick up some necessities and check the shelves again for my product. If it’s not there, then there’s definitely a concern that justifies me contacting Kellie tomorrow, because tomorrow marks a week since dropping off the samples. It would seem only fair and professional for her to explain, however briefly, why the h-cheese never made it out. It’s a perishable product, and the shelf-life now is soon going to affect quality – another week and I wouldn’t consider selling it. So there, I’ve created the next steps for today. I’ll take care of my pig heads. The thought of possibly having to discard them or to make terrines that I’ll have to freeze has been bugging me – I’ll freeze up hh until I have reason to go back into operation. Meanwhile, I keep chugging with the job search.

Top Shelf!

We must be willing to get rid of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.[4]

Thursday, December 08, 2011. Evening. To help hammer back the biophycomythological storm clouds that have been overtaking me the last couple of days I decided to engage another vocation – walking – to try to make it a good day and quit brooding. I figured I’d walk to Plum Market and check the h-cheese status one last time. If it wasn’t there, I’d walk to the kitchen and double-wrap the remaining terrines, along with the heads that are defrosted, and huck everything into the freezer so I can quit worrying about the shit going bad. And I could quit worrying about hh period – I’d just shut it down, suck it up and work harder on moving forward.

The routine I’d developed since last Friday when I dropped the terrines off to Plum was to check the shelves containing their other terrines then, if empty, make a quick pass along the deli case to see what I could see. Nothing amongst their other terrines. Nothing in the deli case. I start to head out, in a pretty good state of mind since I’d prepared myself for this, and for some reason I look back at the deli case one more time from about fifteen yards away and I notice two weirdly familiar objects on the top shelf:

HH headcheese makes it into Plum Market, December 2011

HH HEADCHEESE IS IN THE HOUSE!! And yes, it’s on the top shelf, with fucking top-shelf pricing – wow! They marked it up 100% and that’s a courageous thing and it inspired me to go in and change my pricing on the hh website to correspond – hell, Plum folks are pros at this and I’m following their lead. I think it’s very “Martha Stewart” and very “Ari” to just fucking damn the torpedoes and charge the big price because why the fuck not? It seems in line with the care and craft and heart that I’ve put into the h-cheese. I guess it just took something like this to get me on board with pegging the meter at the truly high-end of the market. It is what it is and now I’m running with it. It feels like a victory and a relief and a brand new day and it makes it all worth it now. This is what I want – it makes my nut spin and I feel like I’m being who I am. I’m totally jazzed, completely blown away and happy as hell! It’s such a great thing and such a sense of accomplishment! It’s what self-actualization feels like. Whatever happens now – if it doesn’t sell a lick – it doesn’t matter; I’ve achieved something that means a great deal to me – EVERYTHING to me – it’s what it’s all been about.

This great thing has come, like so many other biophycomythological things now, right at the edge of my ability to sustain belief in the process of becoming who I am. I know it won’t get easier. While I was walking to the store, I told myself that I’d just run this hh thing out to the end, and if that meant Plum had changed their mind, lost interest or just had some unforeseen problem with selling it, I’d freeze things, literally, until the spring when I’d reconsider what the next steps would be. But I wanted to try everything, all my vocations today, and give it the college try – give it every chance before the vanishing point. I even made an h-cheese & egg burrito for lunch just to show my support for the pigs and the process. I was full of doubt and even despair. But by working on my vocations, and updating my Mandala, I felt I could accept whatever outcome was coming my way – that’s at least some progress towards un-attachment. I tried to just get in the moment and be mindful of my day and my walk to the store. And look what fantastic thing has happened! HH is in one of the finest grocery stores in the country (in my “humble” opinion), next to some of the finest products from around the world and around the Ann Arbor area, including the mighty ZCoB!! HH is moving forward and my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest, so I know it’s good and great. Chakras, nadis, heart-minds, spinning nuts – it’s one of the best days of my life.

Plum Market Deli section…
Plum Market deli section again…
Plum Market outside with lights

I still can’t believe it really. It seems like a lifetime of blood, sweat and tears (all literally part of this past year) have culminated in this little biophycomythological victory.

December 9, 2011. It’s the day after the big day at Plum. I’m trying to just enjoy this small success. Whatever troubles and trials are to come can wait at least for today. Today is my day to be proud of myself. I read what I wrote about it and it leaves me flat, but maybe because I’ve yet to assimilate the changes in me. All the biophycomythological work done since June of 2010 when we drove up to Camp Bacon has culminated in this achievement. Whereas selling food from the cart was legitimizing in its own way, it never rung as true to my spirit as this single event has. Somehow, getting my h-cheese in this store (it couldn’t have been just any shop) gives me the sense now of having passed over a threshold, just like in Campbell’s hero journey. There’s the sensation of having overcome some critical trial or challenge; of being legitimized; of connecting with the world in some new and expansive way. The anxiety of the last week and even the last year is disappearing – I feel like I can breathe.


[1] Ibid., 24.

[2] Ibid., 25.

[3] Joseph Campbell Foundation website, “About Joseph Campbell” tab, www.jcf.org, 2011.

[4] Finding Joe, directed by Patrick Takaya Solomon, (Pat and Pat, Inc., 2011), DVD.