Ode to Chef

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The saddest song is the one I sing to myself as I eat

Consoling myself with arugula dressed in balsamic and garnished with cheese

It’s the song of my solitude, of my position at Bar 1

Its melody is tempered by the steam rising from the grilled steak

Harmony trickles into my head as I taste the salt and the fat from the fried potatoes.

Sometimes the tune doesn’t come to me until the very last ravioli is cut up, its sauce glistening in the dim light shining from the lamp above my head.

When I am completely alone, simply overcome with feeling left behind, I relish in Bar 1 or better yet, Bar 0.  This is my favorite place to be.

You know me well Chef.  You send out a “gift”.  Your staff plies me with booze.  The runners know they can bitch to me about the particular injustices of the evening.

You know me because you know that I was there once.  For the best part of my life I stood on the line looking out.  I knew when solo diner 7pm would show, sit at the bar, and beckon to be left alone.  They would hold “court” for two hours or three.  No matter how busy the room got, that one soul would be left alone.  Why? Because they, I, eat well, need nothing, laugh, watch, relish, and tip without restrain.

Thanks Chef.  Home now, full, a little drunk. Still spent but that overcome feeling will fade.  The memories of the day will be replaced with another sound, an unsteady heartbeat and that song…its melody trickling in, one sad note after another.

May 6, 2015

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Reason 402 of why I drink:  Being asked by customers if the products I sell are really good.  “Is this really good?”  My longtime mentor Tony once said that the only response to this was….”It is if you’re used to eating trash”.

Back at my shop after a long hiatus.  Back, dusting shelves, moving inventory around so that it suddenly becomes attractive to the same customer base.  Back to trying to empty the back stock by making it front stock.  Pouring over which bill will I pay in the ever exciting game of vendor roulette.

May 6.  Can you believe it’s May 6.  It doesn’t mean much beyond the fact that this is the 10th May 6 that I am living through under the roof of my shop.  Grateful and stunned.  I still get mail for the previous owner.  I often wonder if mail that’s meant for me is being received at previous addresses still.  How long does that go on.

Reason 624 why I am still a monger.  Mongering is one of the oldest jobs in the world.  Today was a classic reason why I still monger.  Getting tourists into my store who relished in my carefully curated selection of dry goods.  Fawning over my collection of salted caramels, beautifully made cheese boards, and asking for me to sign their tour book.  Spending the afternoon with a couple that I didn’t have to justify the worth of the item they were considering purchasing.  What a relief.

Tonight I had a salad made composed of peppery arugula, my dad’s olive oil, a friend’s vinegar, a piece of soft cow’s milk cheese and lots of salt and pepper.  I accompanied my salad with a toasted bagel given to me by another friend.  I ate the ripe orange that came from a friend’s tree.  Nothing I ate I had to spend money on.  I traded or was simply gifted these items.  I felt lucky as I ate.  My companion, the neighborhood cat, who snored at the edge of my bed.

Some days I can’t wait to be done with this career and move on to the next.  Other days I can’t imagine being done.  I drink, but not too much.  I eat and sleep and vent and laugh and think of all the miserable ways I could be spending my life.

Mama Ode….Day 35

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Every time I think of you

First I see your blonde hair, straight and long pulled tight into a tail

I hear your laughter as you talk to my sister on the phone

I try to replicate your beautiful cursive writing but fail

Sometimes I think of your worn leather tennis bag stained with red clay

and the little box of Tic Tacs that you always had on the inside pocket.

I’m at work, always at work, trying to work, fighting back the desire to bolt

Run as far from here, through the forests back to the desert

This morning I woke up exhausted as I do every morning

I couldn’t get the smell of the medical soap out of my nose

It is a permanent fixture that I cannot control

I have been working so hard at trying to find a means to an end that I forget the end isn’t mean at all

The skin on my hands isn’t soft anymore and it’s weathering with my age

Our knuckles are becoming similar to Tabby’s

The ring you gave me with the little turquoise stones is a reminder of my permanence in solitude

Bracing my future of missed connections and heartache

Lovers that you will never meet and the family I will never have

It is this spirit of failure that I drive myself to be successful elsewhere.

Mockingbird…..Day 30

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The Mockingbird of Ridley Street

I never could hear it

That’s not to say he didn’t chirp through the night

In fact, he did that every night for as long as we lived there

I lived in that house for just one summer

It was the greatest peace I had while living here

It’s hard to explain but I’ll give it a shot

It was the second time I got to live with my friend Ali

We lived together in San Francisco before we caught the wine country bug

Here we were living in a house again at a different intersection of our lives

Last night, years away from that experience, I was awakened by a mockingbird

He chirped outside my window in the moonlight

I could tell he was pissing off the Blue Jay who has a nest in our palm tree

It was an all out noise war with no end in sight

I couldn’t sleep and I thought about Alison and her troubled mockingbird stories

I also thought about the trouble in my life and how I bring it on myself

“Misery catches up with you”….somewhere in my miserable thoughts

Or was it just insomnia, I fell asleep and had the most wonderful dream

When I awoke this morning, the air outside was very still and the bird was gone

For some reason I still remember the dream in all its clarity

My troubles slowly woke me, made me coffee, and are now plaguing me to pay attention to them.

I need to get back to my mornings in that house and the calm I felt when I would return after work.

I haven’t felt that since.

Maybe my visit last night was a warning or a reminder.

“Misery catches up with you” he sang.  “You’re never as far from it as you think you are”……

Day 28

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I stood at your table and ate the egg

Blowing on my fingertips as I peeled the shell away from the steamy white membrane

Dipping pieces into flakes of salt and smoked pepper
Taking sips of hot coffee

I could hear you mumbling in the kitchen
Glasses clinking in the sink 

The water running over the plates and silverware from last night’s supper

Feeling calm, centered, satisfied with my egg feast

Losing myself in the memory of you waking me from my deep sleep 

Pushing me out of the warm nest of down and wool

Rousing me with your aroused self 

My Tattoo

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Good god that fucking hurt

Obviously not as much as a bone snapping

but it was still uncomfortable enough that I chewed on a pillow

Hours of digging into my shoulder blade with a needle

Is it mildly fucked up that I was completely aroused by the whole experience

I don’t know what got me more, the needle or the noise

Maybe it was your pulsed breathing into the back of my neck

I want more of that please

Feel free to get creative on my right shoulder

I should point out that I had a brief affair with one of my anesthesiologists

Same effect….being in control of someone who could speed and slow my breathing

Whispering how much I would remember and how to just trust him

Our relationship was built around that passive aggressiveness

Here I am day 4, religiously managing the care of your flowers

Making sure that they are hydrated and don’t wither and die

Pulling my shirt up to show everyone

Relishing in the moments when I reveal too much

Exhibitionist at heart for sure

My calling is appearing before me in the form of ink, grafts, thread, needles, and sweat.

Day 22

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I thought I would be rich with stories from past and present.  Here’s a nice way to share with your peers.

I’m done.  I am sick of being generous, giving, and tired of writing to an audience of greedy readers who don’t reciprocate.

As if my stories are something to bring up at cocktail parties or in random public forums.

I can’t even apologize  for this because I am so fucking angry.

Rip, tear, rape, bruise, pull, scratch, cry, scream….done.

The Land of Misfit Toys

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This week has just been the pits.  It seemed to have started okay and then progressed into what I can only describe as retarded.  As I have a retarded version of a bone disease I feel it is perfectly fine to use this word to describe the series of events that culminated in a general sentiment of disdain for my circle.

Everyone is guilty here.  No one gets off the hook.  Those who know they are super guilty have taken the subtle hints to stay the fuck away from me.  There’s only so much scolding I can do before it is obvious that those can’t be helped will just be taken out to the field and shot.  Preferably with a slingshot of small sharp pebbles that have a longer sting and scarring power.  A bullet is just too simple.  And messy.

I live in a small town where the combination of personalities of my friends, customers and neighbors equates something reminiscent of the Special Ed class that I was part of as a kid when the teachers knew I would be safer there than in “gen pop” because of my broken bones.  Anyway, you get the idea.  The truth is that if I were to really tell you about those who have pissed me off the most, I would have to go into hiding for my tell all.  Rather than lose my hold on my sanity I will just say that my friend Lisa said it best when she heard me vent at the beginning of last week and labeled our set of friends as “misfit toys”.

Some of the highlights of last week are as follows in no particular order:

Facebook alerting me that a very dear friend was sick.  Being able to reciprocate his goodwill by showing up at his hospital bed and deliver food from our favorite Italian restaurant.  Just like he had come to my aid many times to comfort me with food.  This county is like none other.  Even in my darkest hours in San Francisco this would never have been possible.  When I broke my ankle by falling off the curb on Market street, I sat for an hour before anyone would stop.  Granted, it was before gentrification of that block so I can understand being ignored.  But it was almost impossible to ask any of my very busy friends to help me get through that time.  Here, different story.  So, I showed up with Lady & the Tramp and asparagus and fed my friend.

Getting pulled over by Healdsburg’s finest on a dead Friday evening for a burned out headlight.  The cop was surprised that I immediately pulled over and attended to this matter.  I think he was hoping for a fight in his brand new SUV enforcement vehicle.  I am sure I let him down in my tarnished Subaru filled with empty crates from the party I had just left.  Cops here are some of the finest misfit toys.  *Our favorite of late being the young buck on the motorcycle that we all keep dibs on.  (Did I mention that living here in Healdsburg is like scenes from a David Lynch film)

Being awakened by two very drunk friends who as adults can’t seem to get their shit together.  The level of anger on my end can’t be written down.  We’ve all been there, you get the idea.

Being stood up again.  The theme of my dating life.  Having a friend send me an article about a woman who met her suitor on a blind date and then proceeded to beat him senseless with a baseball bat.  I think my friend wanted to warn me that there are awful people out there and I should be aware so I don’t become a victim of one of them.  I got it.  Fear injection straight to the core.  And then I remember some of the strange dates of my 20’s and 30’s and I think my 40’s are subject to more of the hilarious type of date and chance meeting than the violent ones. But I get there is always a first so….

Finally….being at a party to raise funds for a feature film from this area.  Sitting under paper lights listening to a great couple of musicians and laughing about ourselves.  Looking out at the incredible view that surrounds us.  Knowing that even though we often lament that our lives took us down the path of the arts and not the path that affords us homes with views like this one, we are grateful every minute for the life that we are able to live.  (this last part, spoken in we, not as a reflection of me with someone else but we as all of you writers who are reading this….and all of us that were there last night)

Last night, after a day of running around-being able to sit at a bar and talk to my friends working and others sitting at the bar.  Cracking jokes, drinking our cocktails and shooting back oysters– setting the tone for meeting up with my dear friend Missy and driving into the vineyard under the lights and laughing some more–and ending up back at the bar with a different set of friends: my friend the magician, his girl, the chef, my first friend in Healdsburg and his brother…all together to take in the last hours of the day with more laughter and sarcasm.  Relishing together how short life is and how unknown it is.  Grateful that I can sit here and forget about the cop and the anger and the general frustration of my life.  Knowing that I too am a misfit toy and glad I found my place in the bin.

Day 15

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Best forty dollars I’ve spent all week.

Granted it’s only Wednesday but the truth is during tax time I have found that it’s good to find something ridiculous to spend my money on to off set the tax man.

http://www.tittygram.com

Yes, that’s correct.  Similar to a candy gram but with a certain group of fans in mind.  For the four guy friends in my life right now that have kept me going with laughter, support and general comrade behavior that they would normally only extend to their guy friends.  I am one of the guys.  I like being one of the guys.  It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

I’ve had one hell of a year.  They’ve all been there watching me go through it.  I’ve watched them go through their own piles of shit.  I hope that I can make their day a little lighter and hope they reciprocate in kind.  Because who wouldn’t want to get one of these in their email.

Great idea.

For J.

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When you left us

I didn’t really mourn

I think I was in shock

and I was so busy I really had no time

To process that you were no longer around.

Time is a funny thing

It feels like you’ve been gone for years

but it’s only been a month.

I caught myself laughing the other day

I knew you would be laughing too

I made a joke and it was a knee slapper

only you weren’t there to slap my knee

and then it hit me…like a ton of bricks

and I just broke down.

I slept for two days.  I cried the whole time.

I woke only to drink some water

then I would return under the quilt

digging deep into sleep again to see if I could find you

I remembered some of the dreams

Most were episodes where I couldn’t keep up with you

Or you had just left and I became so exhausted trying to catch up

I relished the weight of sleep and it felt so good to be pulled down

And then as if my body knew it was time

It kicked me out of bed

Methodically I showered and dressed and drank coffee

I went on about my days and plans and life

accepting that it was true and I had to get a grip.

Yesterday I was driving to and from one ridiculous situation to another

I was done with my day before it had even begun

Our song came on the radio and I expected myself to cry

Instead I felt the weight of sadness lift from my body

It floated up above me inside the car

Instinctively I opened the window and watched it float out and up into the sky

The shadows that were grey and blue and dark turned to iridescent reds and yellows

They formed themselves into voluptuous petals and balloons and tied themselves together

The song hit its crescendo and took over my thoughts and sadness and carried me away.