Monday, July 25, 2011

Looking Backward, Going Forward

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time that I posted twice in the same day. Most likely it was pre-café. Or possibly when my mother was ill back in 2007. Over the past five years, there have been months when I didn’t post two blog entries. The “Blog Archive” on my sidebar tells a story, doesn’t it?

From a high of over two hundred entries in 2004—the heyday of AOL J-land, evening out to an average of 120 or so per year for the next four years. Ten posts a month; continuing right on, I might add, into “café days.” Until 2009—when I took the restaurant to “the next level.” Forty-two entries in a whole year. Followed by 2010, when the bottom fell out. Another 42-entry year. True, I was writing for two blogs by then—“Terms…” and “Women On.” Still, the work was taking its toll.

I well remember the times I would come home from the restaurant utterly used up, wanting to write about it; I would sit in my chair, turn on my laptop…and play solitaire. So many nights I just didn’t have a creative atom left in my body; I could hardly pick out which pajamas to wear, much less string more than a dozen words together to form a coherent thought. It just added to my feeling that my life was slipping away from me…that I was being taken over by a force that was neither healthy nor nurturing. But I DID write. I never completely abandoned it. And what I wrote was, for the most part, passably decent. Even good, at times.

Because writing is, you know, my thing. Years ago—and I was looking for this in my archives, but I couldn’t find it—I wrote that restaurant was my work, but writing was my passion. I could do the restaurant thing; I was good at it (or so I believed); so I chose it as my career. Because putting it out there, even if the unthinkable happened and I failed at it, would not be as devastating as if I tried to live off my real passion—my writing—and failed. I didn’t know if I could handle it if I put everything into my writing and ended up getting chewed up and spit out by the world. What would I have left?

Well, the unthinkable has happened. As a restaurateur, I fell flat on my face. The culinary world did indeed chew me up and spit me out. It was…a great learning experience, if nothing else. I will feel blessed if “learning” is the most lasting damage I take away from the experience. But I have to wonder…did I set myself up to fail? I freely admitted that the restaurant was not my passion. How did I expect to work so hard for so long if the work itself was not feeding some deep need? In the end…I didn’t have what it took to grab greatness out of the jaws of mediocrity. We did “okay.” But okay wasn’t good enough.

So now I am left with a part-time concession business and (it is to be hoped) the continued good fortune of my husband keeping his job, which we thought was going away, to keep the wolves from the door.

And a Power which seems bent on making sure that I find no joy in any restaurant-related pursuits. And regularly sends me spiders…that animal spirit which signifies the gift for writing and the uniquely feminine perspective.

If I add all these things together, what answer should I be coming up with?


  1. Well, spiders are a great example of "pick yourself up and dust yourself off" Screw with their web and they'll rebuild it.

  2. Jackie makes a good point. I read something once, in a feminist theology reflection book, about spiders...wilhave to find it an see if it provides useful insight on the metaphor...

  3. I like Jackie's analogy a lot. However, spiders operate on complete instinct. We humans have to think and think and think and think some more. Maybe the message is "build what your gut tells you to".