I like cooking very simply. Meat, under the broiler if not a grill, onions. I'd sear on the stovetop but my apartment kitchen doesn't have an exhaust hood. Don't need a carb. Form burger patties, season, turn once, broiler door cracked open. Close as we get to the basic cave cooking. Get a good brown on them, without overcooking. Let them rest, today without taking them out of the cast iron pan. Meat, green vegetable at some point. Rice as a filler. Hemingway had a favorite burger recipe, spicy, meaning he liked them with a great relish.
Maybe that's how the writing day starts on an off duty day after much rest. And then once the writing starts, then the coming social interactions don't seem so daunting. A bit of time, ignoring the iPhone's radar pingings, a chance to explore that what have I-done-with-my-life feeling you want to keep private. No real thoughts today. The dream of visiting a wine shop, time ticking, the obligation to attend a party, not being able to find anything. My boss grins when we work really hard on a busy night. I like the adrenaline, I like busy, but I'm too old for this. It gets harder. Harder to unwind. Move laundry to dryer, clean socks tomorrow, back to work. Didn't feel like getting up today, the stress of I don't know what… The escape into the wine, felt the next day, now tiresome. Clean the toilet bowl. Remove the water filter from the kitchen faucet, as it's spraying water out the top. Tedious to have to take it off anyway to run the dishwasher through, hooking the hose up. Too hungry to do yoga now, eating feels good, simple, and alone I can think about things people want to talk about but can't unless they open up, as if writing were one's personal shrink, in the certain gloom of slowly waking. Can barely take care of myself. But be gentle today, today you are off. Though that dinner party is irritating you. We want to be social, we don't want to be social. We want to stay in and read the good book, imagine how to be like Jesus out there in real life, and cry some, hopeful of finding a corner in life one can control. We want to be real, we don't want to look weird. And in the midst call your mom. Blank stare at email in-box.
They have me working Saturday nights. Monday through Wednesday, close the restaurant, last one there all four. Busboy, dishwasher, line cooks, the salad woman Blanca who smiles when she comes in and then stands in the water as the hose down the kitchen at the end of the night. Monday and Wednesday are live Jazz, Tuesday is Wine Tasting, both activities that make the normal waiting on people that much harder, more complicated. They are long nights, and it takes a long time to unwind from them, and this I do alone. I don't have the funds to go out and spend money down on 14th street. I stay in and cook a chicken, and this too can be tedious. The engine revved from work for hours on end, the long coming down, the seeing the wrong side of six AM. Bitch bitch bitch, I know. I don't like to myself. I try to be positive, and humorous, at least at work. But I do think that the great comedian's humor comes from a foundation of angst.
It always felt like I was searching, seeking, for I don't know what. Always.
Abusive job. I like it, don't get me wrong, but it's abusive, because it's a waste. What I like is to watch a documentary about a writer. Then I feel at home. Then I don't feel weird like I often do. Understand the necessity for the time in big chunks. It's like you are made to feel abnormal if you should even think of taking time to do something on your own, four hours at a time, alone, doing something like writing, talking to yourself, finding out again what you were thinking about in the recesses of your mind where all that action happens. And that's why my job, though I do it well, I take as abusive. It's a waste. All about other people, I mean, if you're good at it. You don't go there to talk about yourself if you're a good bartender. No. You remember what you people have told you over the years, and when they come again, should they come again, well, you have a background, a way to talk to them, an underlying understanding….
You write for yourself. You are your only audience, at least initially, or you're never going to get off the ground.
I don't try to sabotage things by being this writer. To the contrary, I write to have a better relationship with people. I know, it might not seem that way. It might not. I don't write to complain about other people or to point out their faults, as if they had any. I've never found that about people, that they really are faulted, I mean, the ones you don't initially run away from in the first place. But you're never able to pick and chose them really. You have to deal with them. And life happens to everyone, uncontrollably, just as I cannot control this kind of a job I work at because I am a writer though it largely prevents me from being a writer, while my first novel fades into the distance and dust.
So, here I am again on Shane MacGowan time, listening to Philip Roth: Unmasked -- American Masters, talking about how shame is not a thing for a writer to have. Therefore you have to be honest about people. About the boring shits who tell you work is a good thing when somewhere within you have your own power to do something better for yourself, along the lines of your own creativity, just that you can't figure out the monetary ins and outs. However, where you are now, seriously, it might be better just to jump from the sinking ship of the Bistro of the Dying Gaul--I jest--and swim.
You tell me what a good job for a writer is. I'm not sure there is one. The secret to being one? Not giving a shit. Sharing whatever.