Sunday, October 29, 2006


I had my hand on the front door knob this morning, about to launch myself into another day at the café…when I realized I had forgotten to turn the clocks back, and it was really an hour too early to go to work. Crap! I squandered a golden opportunity to recover an hour of the five hundred hours of sleep I’ve lost in the last four months. That’s just the way things are going lately…

So, I decided to pack up the ‘puter, take it to work with me and spend and hour ensconced on my lovely new leather sofa catching up with the blog world. When life hands you a lemon…

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Late this afternoon, I took Ms. Dog over to the park and threw the frisbee for her. She has been so absolutely forlorn since I started working seventy hours a week. It’s funny…all those first five years of her life when I was home almost all the time, she didn’t seem overly interested in me. Most days, she’d spend the hours dozing in her bed at the top of the stairs, and I wouldn’t see hide nor hair of her unless she had to go out. I had no reason to believe she made any particular note of my presence or absence. Now, when I do make my rare conscious appearances about the household, she sticks to me like glue. Ball or other toy in her mouth, big sad eyes beseeching.

Truth be told, her issue probably isn’t me; I imagine it has more to do with the fact that the normal fabric of her existence has been…wrinkled. Animals are creatures of habit. They have a hard time dealing with change. I can relate…

Change. In the space of four months—less than one percent of my life (and this late in my life)—everything has changed. The way I live…the clothes I wear, the food I eat, the people I know, the motivations behind my every move. Standing in the park this evening, with the light of the sinking autumn sun painting the orange and red leaves oranger and redder… it seemed like only a short time since I took my camera out about the neighborhood to celebrate the bonfire of fall, 2005. Yesterday. But an entirely different reality.

A cognitive dissonance bordering on vertigo buzzed in my head. This person who throws the frisbee for the dog in the late evening sun, smiles and sighs at the woodsmoke and the colors and the mist and the crisp air, this is me. No…this was me. Now I’m…someone else. Something else. I don’t know who I am anymore. I feel like my poor dog…like I want to glue myself to some piece of my past, with my ball in my mouth and my big sad eyes beseeching.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Favorite Bumper Sticker

I was just browsing through my photo archives, and came across this.  It never fails to crack me up.  And as a restaurateur, it's a philosophy I wholeheartedly endorse....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Anybody Got Some Bread And Cheese....?

The bed is calling. A siren song increasing in pitch…until I am hardly aware of anything else. But the keyboard calls, too. A lower, softer, but more insistent call. It’s calling me to…whine.

What a day. What a week…what a last several months, in fact.

Days like today make me despair of ever finding my stride as an entrepreneur. There is a list  as long as my driveway of things that need to be addressed. That have needed to be addressed ever since I walked through the doors of that café as the prospective owner four months ago. Some things that seemed ever-so-important three months ago—things like trying to keep my house in order, or making sure the dog gets exercised every day, or keeping up with the Weight Watchers program—have become such unimaginable fantasies that they have fallen right off the forty-foot list. Only to be replaced by ten or twenty items needing more urgent attention. My world is completely out of control. And for someone like me, to whom some might refer as a control freak, this is anything but okay.

When I walked through the door of the restaurant this morning, I was immediately sprayed in the face with shit that was already hitting the fan; and for the next seven hours, without so much as a potty break, I soldiered on, head bent, into the teeth of that excrement-laden gale. All my plans for a productive day, for a day where I would have the chance to address at least one of the items on the forty-foot "to-do" list, bit the big one once again. Even the healthy food I had packed into my satchel before I left the house this morning never made it to its intended target. Breakfast was a piece of cheese bread made by mistake, thrown down my gullet instead of into the trash can. Lunch was half an apple—the half that was approximately a cup more than I needed for my curry salad.

Every night, I swear that I cannot continue to run this business by the seat of my pants. So I plan a productive, serene, in-control day for the morrow. Then reality hits me square in the face when I roll out of bed the next day. And there I am, swinging around by my back-pocket seams once again.

One step forward, two steps back would feel like amazing progress. I can’t buy a step forward; every time I lift my foot, I get blown back a half a mile.

Done griping now. Time for sleep.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Robin Was Here...

Yesterday, Robin and her husband drove all the way out to the back of beyond to stop by the café for a visit. They flew in to Portland for a trip down to Salem to see their daughter at Willamette University. Scappoose is NOT on the way…  It was a lovely visit, at a time when I really needed to know that my ethereal "friends" are indeed real people.

It’s funny, isn’t it, when you finally get to see someone you know but have never met. Did you ever experience that? Like when you get a glimpse of a favorite radio personality on TV or in person; you have a picture in your mind formed purely from the sound of the voice. And then you see them, and you think, "Well, that person doesn’t look at all the way they sound."

I have to say, I had that experience with Robin yesterday. She has (as far as I can recall) never graced us with a picture of herself in her journals. And on first sight, she didn’t look at all the way I had pictured her in my mind. And yet, after sitting down and talking with her for about thirty seconds, I realized she looked exactly how she should look.  Exactly like a scholar, and a writer, and a teacher, and an aspring divinity student.  Does that make any sense? I’m sorry…I don’t make a lot of sense these days….

Anyhow, thank you for visiting, my dear. And for choking down that quesadilla which I suspect wasn’t what it should have been. And I hope to see you again someday when we can spend more time, and I am more coherent. :-]

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Not a Good Day For Housework

Today I managed to wangle a morning free from the café. I’m sure I meant to schedule myself administrative time—time for bookkeeping and other sundry tasks that don’t involve searing animal pieces or sweat-hogging through built-up grease and towers of dirty dishes. Instead, I took the morning "off." Which meant making a vain attempt to find my house under three month’s accumulation of…you name it.

For years, when I worked fifty or more hours a week as a restaurant manager, I subscribed to the "desperation" method of housekeeping. If I was planning to entertain (which I did once a year) I would take two days off and just plunge in with both feet. I got an amazing amount of work done in two days. But it took all forty-eight of those hours to reach bottom…to find the bones of the house under all the crap.

During my semi-retirement of the last decade, I had a hard time applying myself to intense housework. But I didn’t really need to. The house always looked neat, and was generally clean, because I finally learned all the little tricks you can do to keep the place looking decent. I remember thinking smugly, "Why did I never do these things before? It’s really so simple." Yeah. Simple. When you have the time. And the energy.

Today, I found myself literally overwhelmed by the job. I had no idea where to start. And I didn’t really accomplish one complete task. I just kept bouncing from emergency to emergency… Fold these socks that have been sitting here for a week! Scrub this floor! Clean up this cat puke that’s been here for three days! Wash these guest towels that have been in the laundry since June! One job led to another to another to another, with no end or sense of accomplishment in sight. And I’m still utterly exhausted. It didn’t help that I woke up in the middle of the night again and was awake for two hours before I benadryl-ed myself back into oblivion.

After an hour an a half of bouncing around the house like a pinball, I was literally staggering, trying to get a last few things out of the way before I just fell down from exhaustion. Not the way to live. That’s why I’m sitting here right now, clackety-clacking away at a totally inappropriate time, when I should be doing a million other things. The simple truth is, I can’t do anything else right now. And I felt I had better acknowledge and honor that fact before I woke up on the floor…


One of my old j-land friends used to insist that people who read her journal had absolutely no idea who she was in real life. That you could never really know someone by reading what they write.

I thought she was full of crap. Because the things I write are the essence of my soul. Generally, I write without holding much back, regardless of audience…or whether, indeed, there is any audience at all.

Now that I am back out in the world, I better understand my old friend’s assertion. Because I’m absolutely certain that if anyone who knows me here, through my writing, experienced who I am in my real life, they would not be able to connect that person to the one who pours out her soul without much provocation, and without a great deal of censorship, here on these "pages."

Here in my journal, I write…whatever. If it pops into my mind, I blurt it out onto the page. I don’t much consider who might read what I write, and what they might think about me when they read. I don’t seem to have any sense of "TMI" when I’m on a literary roll. If something matters to me, if it moves me, if it bothers me, if it makes me laugh…I write about it. I think, sometimes, that I am the compositional incarnation of a compulsive talker. The term "diarrhea of the pen" seems an apt description of my literary style…

Who would guess that in my "real" life, I’m downright taciturn? My mind simply does not supply my mouth with the easy bullshit that is the substance of human interaction. "Small talk"—that meaningless, convivial rambling that seems to act as both tranquilizer and adhesive in polite society—has always been as foreign to me as the remotest African dialect. Especially at work, where I subscribe to a nose to the grindstone, work-now-talk-later philosophy. My staff sees me as moody, and my clientele thinks I am distant. My husband, when I asked him to come up with one word that describes me, came up with "driven." To an employer and small-town business owner, this is not an asset.

I really wish that my crew and my customers, and even my husband (who isn’t interested in reading my journal) could get a glimpse of the "real" me that I display here…where people can’t see me. Or that I could peel that "me" off the page and stick her to myself when I deal with people outside the ethereal world.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Last night, for some reason that only my errant hormones understand, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep. You have no idea what a tragedy sleeplessness is to someone who is working seventy hours a week under an unaccustomed load of stress. Or maybe you do…especially if you are a woman around, say, fifty-ish…

So I dragged myself out of my unwelcoming bed and turned on my computer. Thinking that reading over some of my old journal entries might be just the narcotic I needed to push me back into the Land of Nod. I lit on my old private journal, "Brainsurfing." I closed it down after the AOL Exile. Haven’t written a thing in it since January. But I can’t seem to bring myself to delete it. Now, I’m thinking of reviving it, and getting rid of "Better Terms," the blogspot journal I created for my own intended exodus from journal land. Which I never quite got around to doing.

"Brainsurfing" was intended to be the repository for my more "artsy" endeavors, both literary and graphic. I started out declaring that I didn’t want an audience, that "Brainsurfing" was going to be just for me, just for the pure joy of creating good stuff. But, in the end, I couldn’t help leaving a trail of breadcrumbs (as big as basketballs) for my "Coming to Terms" readers to follow to my new place. And from there, it morphed into my "bitch and moan" journal. Which is something I have always needed. But I just felt, after a time, that it didn’t need to be public anymore. After the j-land blow-up, I felt that the stuff I needed to write would be too maudlin for readers. And, considering some of the stuff I HAD written there for other eyes besides my own, "too maudlin" would have been difficult to achieve…

Anyway, as I was saying, I delved backwards into the "Brainsurfing" archives last night. And found that many of the entries had to do with my deteriorated relationship with my dysfunctional family.

And how I needed to "get a life" so that I could be free of the need to keep going back for the kicks in the head I always got from them, sooner or later.

This is what I wrote on New Year’s Day, 2006…a week after another particularly painful interaction with the clan:

In 2006, I want…more. More of something. Anything. I want to load up my life with so many things that, by the time the holiday season rolls around in 2006, I may or may not have room to squeeze in those people who have let me know plainly that I have not the importance in their lives that they have in mine. It only makes sense… You can only knock on a locked door for so long before you realize it’s never going to open.

At the dawn of each of the last six new years, I’ve made the same sad decision to walk away from that door. But the world has turned, changed, gone forward without me. I’m out of phase. I’m a twentieth-century seeker in a twenty-first century reality. My skills are rusty; my contacts outdated. Still, each year, I get a little further down the road before the brick wall of pure aloneness rises in front of me. Blocks the road and sends me creeping back to that same old familiar doorstep.

May this be the year that I finally break through that wall. Reach through the hole and grasp a new reality. One with warm bodies to welcome and enfold me. Or at least hold me back from turning back toward that old, locked door.


Looks like I got what I wanted, doesn’t it? :-P

Sunday, October 1, 2006