a bad night

Restaurant business…. You know the deal. It’s tough. It’s intense. It’s up and down. We have our share of problems too, even though we have exceptional staff and have ironed out a lot of the issues over our 13 years of seeking to improve and evolve. But essentially it’s more about people than food. Sure, the food has to be good and consistent and high quality but the people are more complex. Tonight we had an employee not show for their last shift and another employee quit, just walk out after getting yelled at. The first guy had given notice but when we said we could cover his shifts before the 2 weeks was over he said no. He said he wanted all the shifts. But then he called someone to work thursday for him. and friday too at the last minute. then saturday he just didn’t show, answer his phone, or nuthin. saturday is by far our busiest night, it can be more than twice as busy as other nights. So right away things were off kilter and stressful. We’re down one and we’re slammed.

I won’t get into the details of the other guy walking out. because it would just be my side of the story and that would seem unfair.  but yes i got mad and yelled at a guy and so he left.  it’s sad.  sad for him. sad for me.   it may end up being great for him and great for me who knows?  but it’s always sad to see someone go under stress and anger.  i’ve come such a long way in learning to deal with my stress and anger, but i still cannot accept outright defiance of clear orders.  i don’t run a co-op.  i make the decisions and expect folks to do as i ask.

So it’s sad.  sad to have a guy we liked screw us by not showing up.  he has friends there. he let us all down.  doesn’t he see how this hurts the whole team?  and the other guy, the one who walked out… he has a wife and kid and new apartment.  where will he work now?  what craptastic job will he get? he made $19 an hour with me, i will say that.  he had been with us 3 years.

right about the time shit was hitting the fan in the kitchen, somehow 2 things were not made on a ticket with 5 things on it.  so 20 minutes later when the food is coming out and we realize we are short 2 items we have to re-make those and now the table is eating in shifts.  everyone at the table is done by the time the last person gets their food.  shitty.  i had to go apologize and that is never fun.  “sorry we screwed up folks. we’re having a bad night. ”

then near the end all of the plumbing backed up. so there’s that to handle on monday.  at least it was a near the end of the night and we’re closed monday and can handle it but…

restaurant bizness.

it can get so thick.

Ireland

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My kids are both going to camp for 2 weeks soon.  The first time they’ve both been gone at the same time. So I am planning a little getaway to Ireland. I have always wanted to go there, because they speak Irish and I know it’s so green.  I am excited.  Just me and my lady. So cool.  The restaurant should be fine without me. Let’s hope and pray.

When I travel I like to find a little out of the way location.  Off the beaten path.  A little town and cottage to dig into, explore around. One little place to see.  Hopefully I’ve picked the right little spot. But you know life is thriving in every corner of the World. There is something to see and learn in any little corner or nook you can settle.  I won’t be hitting all the Lonely Planet spots, eating at the best Ireland has to offer, or seeing the best views. Honestly I can go to Google and see some great places.  But I will be enjoying my company, my surroundings, and something different.

Maybe I’ll find time to write and shoot a picture of this or that. Stay tuned.

When I was young and I traveled I made ZERO plans. I got a one way ticket to Europe in my 20’s and had no idea what I was doing. I hitchhiked around, fell in love, and had some of the most romantic times of my life so far. Now there is more information than should be allowed. And while I did book a round trip ticket (So I can pick up my kids from camp, ha) and while I did comb through some AirBnB rentals to find the right spot, I won’t do much more to plan.  I’ll go with a good attitude, a smile, and some excitement. Because I think the best traveling is where I discover the road each day. I wake up and figure out what’s out there. It’s always worked for me and why should it stop working now? I don’t want to let my age make my travels too predictable. It’ll be an adventure just like it was in my 20’s when I drove cross country, then caught a ride to Mexico, then a train back to Colorado and a bus back home. Or when I went to Atlanta, Alaska, Asia, Europe and Jamaica. Never once did I know where I was going or what I’d find and every time I was pleasantly surprised and more addicted to travel.

I am so thankful that my pizza joint has gained such popularity and allows me to do something like this now, 13 years later. I never imagined I would be able to leave for 10 days but now I feel sure things will go fine without me. The staff is responsible and hard working and I can take a break from my normal routine. It’s really hard to describe how thankful I am… To my employees and my awesome customers too. I am living a dream life. I am doing everything I ever wanted to do and more. And I am happy.  So happy.  Thank you.

just stuff

I’m gonna be honest with you, as I always am.  Probably too honest really, because I know I over share and while that feels fine late at night, it always seems strange and foreign in the morning. I don’t know why. There have been so many times I say things late at night out on the internet and then wake up and think, “Did I really say that?” and go and delete whatever it was. And you might think I have just had too much to drink at night but you would be wrong. It’s not about the beer or wine or whiskey so much as the late night tired mind and body vs the early morning freshness of mind and body. Well actually the body has little to do with I think, it’s mostly about the mind. IN ANY CASE, I have had this dilemma lately where it’s too early to go to bed and too late to go to the studio and so I’ll start off by explaining that.

Many evenings I get done with work and get done with hanging with the family, and get done with checking and responding to emails and checking news headlines, and I get stuck. It’s too early to go to bed. That’s not to say I can’t just go to bed early because I can, but when I do I find that I wake up 5 or 6 hours later and am restless and end up getting my sleep cycle out of whack. For example: if I go to bed at 10 I am likely to wake up at 3 or 4. I think it’s because my body mostly wants to sleep in the 5-6 hour range. Waking up at 4 I should just get up and go get stuff done. But I don’t. I lay there and toss and turn and wish I could keep sleeping and wait for the sun to rise. I tell myself I will just get up at 4 and go to the studio or start some project but I never do. I think, “Oh it’s still so early I can get in a few more hours of sleep.”  But that doesn’t happen. One of my goals is to actually get up when I wake up and try to see what I can find to stay busy. I can go to the studio and paint or work on stained glass, I could write. I could draw. I could work on an audio journal. Those are basically my go to things I do. I really don’t read or watch videos or whatever normal things most people do. I sometimes think about how nice it would be to sit and read a book or watch a show but then if I ever try I get entirely bored.  Anyway, I have learned that going to bed at 10 just messes up my sleep.

If I go to the studio I find that it is best to have 3 hours to work. The first hour to two hours is getting into the thing and the third hour goes by in what seems like minutes and everything gets done. I often go to the studio at 10 even though I know I don’t have the time I prefer but many times I am ready to go to the studio and it is 10:45 or 11. Not enough time to really even get into it. I know I should and I could just as I should and could get up at 4am and get things done, but I don’t.  My favorite time to sleep is midnight-6. I usually sleep straight through and enjoy the half hour of laying there awake waiting to get up. But if I don’t go to the studio at 11 and I want to wait until 12 to sleep and I am eager to stay away from mindless computer surfing (which always feels like a time waster) then I am stuck with writing.

That’s why I am here. It was 10:45 and too early for bed. I refuse to waste time surfing the web mindlessly. It is seldom I find any inspiration there. The studio work I have to do needs a bigger block of time and so I write. If I am confused about why I don’t get up at 4am when I am clearly awake?  and if I am perplexed about why things I say at night seem stupid in the morning? Well, neither of those things seems as puzzling as the fact that I decide that writing about my sleep habits is the best thing I can think of to do with my time. Why do I often think that opening up a page and stream of consciousness writing will be the solution to my problem of not being sure what to do next? Why is it that I think that the navel gazing exercise of explaining my mind workings in excruciating detail will be either worth reading or worth writing? And for a guy so caught up with efficiency and purpose the only real benefit to this exercise is adding a post to the list, pushing another post down the page, and getting my mind good and empty in hopes of a better nights sleep. Because I will say that often my best dreams come when my mind is empty. My best ideas come when I’ve cleared the closets and shelves that are my “to do” list. I think I  need a whole new paragraph to expound on that:

When I want to do a big project at work, I feel compelled to clean up and clear out all the little things that I’ve had going on. I must finish. I have a shelf full of junk people have dropped off and I can’t take on something big until that shelf is clear. Empty. Ready for new junk. When I unload my mind anxieties with writing then I am able to have the most wonderful dreams at night. I often have dreams where I am flying. I am soaring like a bird above the trees and buildings. I am traveling to faraway places. I am having fun. I am sometimes even showing off my abilities in flight. I only have these euphoric dreams about 4-6x a year (more and more lately though) but they are so intoxicating that I can still enjoy a taste of them now, weeks and months later, and I still remember the feeling. This is the first time I have associated the idea of clearing out my mind with good dreaming but I know it must be a factor because when my mind is full I wake up with night sweats and anxiety. Who could fly around if they were anxious and with a load of crap on their minds? But getting my ducks in a row means clearing and cleaning. I have always hated that we throw so much stuff away in life. We spend our days consuming and filling up garbage cans and landfills. We stupid small humans should not stack up trash around us but instead use the trash to make our world more interesting and colorful. So there is the root of my compulsion to glue things up as they come in. And because I do people bring me their junk and now I am compelled to find a home for it all. To decorate with the junk that comes my way. I’ll glue up the plastic pieces that seem to have no meaning and no use. I’ll glue up the strangers beer can collection. I’ll clutter the page with the words stuck in my head. I’ll keep unloading the words until they form sentences and paragraphs.

I’ll keep glueing junk to the walls until they have a purpose more meaningful than a landfill. 

I’ll keep writing until my words find a meaning bigger than my bedtime. 

When I attack a project I go full on without a plan. I always open a page and start writing with no idea what I’ll say. When I make art it is just me starting something that seems right and finding out where it leads. I often am very unsure of myself in the middle but I always know that if I keep going I can find the resolution. If it’s not working then I just keep going until it works.  My wife makes fun of the fact that I often work in a hurry as if I’m about to “get caught.” I do feel like I have to hurry but mostly because I have so many more things to get done. I do wonder if I’ll run out of time before I get it all done… you know- die. What if I never got to finish all my stained glass windows I want to do? What if I never got to paint the murals I want to paint?  What if my book remains unfinished? What if I never build the huge sculpture thing I want to build under the airplane? I’ve got to go fast because yes, I could get caught. and also I could die. I could die getting caught or I could get caught dying. What will be the last blog post on here?  What will I have said and what will I have left out?

The artist in me wants to leave a lot behind. As an artist I want the things I make to outlive me by a mile. I am here to make things with my hands. I am here to throw out ideas and chase my tail for a spell. I am here to entertain, to spread light, and to inspire.

I am here to talk in circles and draw in squares.

It’s not like I have a choice. It’s jut who I am. I want to be the loudest invisible man you’ve ever not seen or not heard. I want to write things that no one reads but that are out there to be found if they are needed.

And now it’s 11:52 and my mind is almost blank. Maybe I can have one of those amazing dreams tonight. Maybe if I lay there and think about my breathing instead of what I need to get done tomorrow. Maybe if I can get the last few words typed out here by midnight, and think about flying as I fall asleep….

Maybe I’ll sleep straight through until 6 and get up and feel rested and wonder why I wrote all this crap. Maybe I’ll always have good dreams.  Maybe I’ll make something tomorrow that will be the best thing yet.

 

 

simple

My life is so simple. I go to my job, running a restaurant, and find things to fix and do. I can have ZERO agenda and keep myself occupied for hours. I can have a big agenda and never get to any of it. But when I get there I find things to clean and organize. I carry a razor knife around so I can cut off the tops of boxes. I’ve bought blades for employees and talked to them about cutting off those box flaps, but I don’t think anyone gets as much enjoyment from that as me. They might do it after I ask for a couple days. But then it’s me again. Making shelves look tight. Throwing junk out that accumulates. Wondering how I can find so many server aprons left in nooks and crannies. Picking up trash in the parking lot. It’s a long list all it’s own, talking about what keeps me busy up there at the joint.

But that’s only the first slice of the day. My life is still simple. I take a kid to school and go by the joint and tighten up. I run an errand maybe and then home to the studio. I paint. I work on a stained glass window. Maybe bust out a few tools in the shop and make or fix something that needs to be made or fixed for the house or the joint…. I do this for most of the rest of the day.

There’s the dinner break. Some days I come in and eat with the family and some days I go back to the joint. But my whole life mostly breaks down into work, art, family time. It’s simple. I like it this way. I answer all my emails. I do not take meetings. I respond to every POS salesman that I don’t need a new POS. I keep telling Groupon we’re not interested. I answer question for the college students about my business. I order stuff online for the restaurant. And I spend about 10 minutes a day on the Facebook. I check a few posts that happen to be at the top of my feed and check the restaurant page too. I come across the haters sometimes. I wonder “What is up with the haters?” I wonder “How come people can be so rude and stupid on Facebook?” I swear, of all the things I do in a day, spending time on Facebook is the worst. I should probably stop posting on the work page, and checking around, but it’s like a strange addiction I barely understand. Why do I want to read the stupid comments? Why do I waste my time and energy there?

I don’t like sitting at the computer very much. To be honest I’m not even a huge fan of checking my phone although I spend half my life doing just that. It’s a phenomenon I don’t entirely understand. There’s not many things on my phone to even look at. I check Twitter more than anything, and Instagram a couple times a day. I check my email WAAAAY too often for no apparent reason. But listen to podcasts mostly on the thing. I don’t even like the podcasts that much anymore. They are all getting so boring now.

Anyway, I was interrupted by a phone call from a faraway friend. Now I’m too tired to write anymore. If I saved this as a draft I would never come back to it. I originally wanted to post about the contrast of a simple life to the internet haters but lost interest in that and what’s the point anyway? My life is simple. I like it. I imagine the less time I spend on computers the better my life will be. Out.

End of April

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It’s May now.

37 minutes into May 2016…

But we just went through our busiest week of the year and proved a couple things:

  1. Yes, it is the busiest week of the year.  I believe on December 31st it will still prove true that this was our busiest week.
  2. We killed.  We made it look easy. Anytime someone can do something super hard and make it look easy you know they are good at what they do. Tonight was our busiest night EVER and my dishwasher Al?  He made it look easy.  He was always caught up. He took a 9 O’clock smoke break. He killed. All around the place we made it look easy. We had plenty of staff. We all worked hard but it never felt insane. We made the busiest day ever look easy. All week seemed easy.
  3. There is always a new frontier. While we had the “busiest night shift” ever and the busiest “entire compound” day ever, we did not break day shift or LSE records. What will it feel like to break every record at the same time? Busiest day, busiest night, busiest LSE, and busiest all time? It’s bound to happen eventually.
  4. We all feel like it’s basically like any other week or weekend. It doesn’t feel especially insane. (This is due to the fact we have more people and are better prepared than any other week or weekend.

Here’s the most exciting part for me:

The ovens are fixed.

I spent over $15,000 for brand new ovens over a year ago and they burned the pizzas all the time. I spent lots of money and “days off” working to fix the problems with only slight results. Finally, after more than a year of trying, I figured it out….  It was a combination of MAJOR flame diverter additions AND over $1500 on new oven stones to cook on. I had my welder friend at ALL STEEL SECURITIES make a plate to go over the oven flame and then went to JACKSON STONEWORKS and found 1.5″ granite to put on top of the oven diverter plates to finally abate the flames and keep them from burning the pies in less than a minute. This was the FIRST weekend since getting these new ovens that we had full flame diversion in place for BOTH new ovens and were able to cook “normally” and avoid black bottom and burned pizzas. I almost feel like I should be a pizza oven engineer at this point, or I should be starting a new company that designs the perfect pizza oven… (It would look quite different from the Baker’s Pride 452’s that I now own and have majorly altered…)

It was a great week. I had a bad start (TMI to get into in this public space) and it was difficult for me all the way through (TMI to explain in writing here……………)

But now I am excited to 1. Put it behind me and 2. Take a day off and 3. Try and sleep late and 4. Think about the future.

I have lots to be thankful for and many exciting things coming up soon.

I’ll maybe tell all about it here.

Maybe I’ll even  post to Medium.

Maybe I’ll even make a new podcast…..

Later I might tell you why I have a black eye in the picture above.

Good night.

 

 

 

tesla and other stuff

tesla unveiling their model 3 car tonight, even though it is actually the fourth model.  there was the roadster, the model s, the model x and now the 3.  i follow this story closely. i follow tesla more than any other company after my own. i am a super fan.  i see the potential downsides of the company and i still think they can overcome the obstacles because basically i believe what they are doing will be the future of automobiles. autos will be electric like our cell phones.  we will charge them nightly. we will get updates over the air.  there will be very little maintenance.

work is kicking my tiny little butt.  my butt is really small. small butt, big belly. that’s the modern man for you.  currently kicking my small butt is work.  i have more things to do there than i can comprehend. however.  in the interest of interest, i will share with you the top 50 things:

  1. painting designs on the porch.
  2. moving the speakers to make way for air conditioning.
  3. finishing mosaic behind the shed
  4. repainting decorative stripes in LSE
  5. repairing mosaics around everywhere.
  6. replanting things that need moving
  7. moving sculptures for better visibility
  8. adding shelves and more product placement in the gift shop
  9. designing new bumper sticker
  10. designing new coffee mug
  11. designing new t shirt
  12. thinking about how to get people into the plane
  13. thinking more about the design for getting people into the plane with complete safety
  14. working on stained glass windows
  15. working on cleaning everything everywhere all over the property inside and out and every nook and cranny
  16. thinking about new lighting behind the shed
  17. working the ovens on friday nights
  18. working a new station on saturday nights
  19. working on a new kitchen schedule
  20. trying to find a solution to a new bacon dilemma
  21. cooking and trying all sorts of new bacon
  22. fixing equipment
  23. ordering parts to fix equipment
  24. trying to get faster at everything
  25. problem solving
  26. cleaning up the back area where everything is staged from.
  27. taking excess junk to repurpose
  28. fixing things
  29. making things better
  30. starting the process of covering the kitchen walls in stainless steel sheets
  31. writing newsletters to employees about everything i can think of
  32. thinking about how to make wires disappear everywhere
  33. making new pamphlets
  34. constantly ordering new things on amazon from new viewmasters to new walkin curtains.
  35. installing new stained glass.
  36. getting a/c’s yearly maintenance
  37. trying to be positive
  38. trying to work hard
  39. trying to find new things to clean
  40. trying to find new places to decorate
  41. thinking about safety.
  42. making sure pizzas are  made right
  43. making sure pies are cooked right
  44. making sure lighting is optimal
  45. making sure music is optimal
  46. making sure we have enough employees
  47. emails to specific employees about specifics
  48. going to lowes again
  49. thinking about new projects
  50. thinking more about new projects.

i guess that’s my “top 50” things.  i wrote that list in about 3 minutes. I can;t stop thinking about work. i am manic.

 

it’s strange lately how much i am invested and how much i am getting done. i make time for kids and my wife but i spend lots of time tightening up everything at work.  i know i can get it real tight before the summer and then spend some extra time with the family.

i am more manic and more excited lately than ever before. i am more excited about work and more excited about everything. i have more ideas and more energy but i also get more tired. it’s a strange see saw.  i’m up up up the down and tired for a second.  then up up up then tired and weary for a minute. its mania.  i looked up the definition of manic. it’s great:

 

man·ic
ˈmanik/
adjective
  1. showing wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy.
    “his manic enthusiasm”
    synonyms: mad, insane, deranged, demented, maniacal, lunatic, wild, crazed,demonic, hysterical, raving, unhinged, unbalanced; More

    • frenetically busy; frantic.
      “the pace is utterly manic”
      synonyms: frenzied, feverish, frenetic, hectic, intense; More

      it describes me a little too well…

      i get to work and i am manic. i wonder why everyone around me is moving so slow and seems to be so calm.  i wonder how they get anything done as i ramp up to 3x speed.  i am even avoiding caffeine.  i do not drink coffee and only occasionally sweet tea.  i avoid caffeine because i get headaches. i have learned caffeine is too strong for me. so i have decaf coffee.  i drink decaf tea. i try and try to avoid cola although i have a swig of lola cola here and there.  a full glass of sweet tea every other week.  sometimes two.

      caffeine seems like the strongest drug to me. it propels me to crazy places.  if i am manic without caffeine then with it i am insane.

    i am so happy that i take no medicine daily.  no pills.  i don’t take blood pressure meds or anti anxiety or anti depression or anything.  i don;t want to take meds. i hope i never have to take meds but as i get older i guess i will have to take something.  high blood pressure pills will probably be the first thing i need.  my blood pressure is getting up there lately.

    teslas model 3 unveiling is about to happen in california.  the live video has begun now.  started watching the video and then it went blank.  crashed the server i guess.  enough from me tonight. more soon.  buy a tesla people.  it’s the future.

Cutting tomatoes and folding boxes

 

My daughter is 11. Tonight I showed her for the first time how to cut a tomato for a pizza topping and how to fold a medium pizza box. You see I have a pizzeria and she wants to work there, and she even dreams about running it one day.

She comes with me to work more and more lately. At 11 she has learned to work the register, deliver food (memorizing the 20+ table numbers,) take orders and bus a table. Oh, and also to work the new host station app from Open Table.

Tonight as I was frantically making pies she came to me and said, “What can I do now?” I said; “Go bus tables.” She said, “ But that’s easy and I want to do something hard.” At this point my mind raced thinking about how hard it really is to be a good table busser, to be fast and efficient, to clear everything in one swoop, to inform the host quickly, but instead I said, “Let’s cut tomatoes.”

At our pizzeria fresh tomatoes is a topping and they are diced and very ripe tomatoes so you get a bite of tomato in every bite of pie. We cut them throughout the night so they are fresh as possible. We needed tomatoes but I was afraid of letting her use the knife. Everyone who uses a knife cuts themselves at some point, I thought and I never want her to cut herself.

But reason won the debate and I decided she needed to learn. I got a cutting board and a good knife, some ripe tomatoes and starting my simple instruction. “Let the knife do the work.” “Saw the slices because this tomato is so ripe.”

She was visibly excited. She cut a tomato. I could see that her skinny arms needed muscle. I watched her hesitation and caution. She cut a couple tomatoes and they were great. I felt like a proud father. My daughter could use a knife to cut tomatoes for a restaurant. She was taking her steps towards ownership. She was enjoying what I enjoy, working at simple projects to create a larger and healthy career. I felt like I was cutting a tomato for the first time and I loved it like she was loving it.

Two or three times later she came to me claiming, “You need tomatoes? I can cut your tomatoes” or “Tomato cutting is my specialty. I’m here to cut your tomatoes.” She was beaming. She was ready for me to tell her we needed 5 more tomatoes diced. She had learned something hard. And something new.

Later we were out of medium boxes. Someone needed to fold a stack of 14″ boxes. No one has time for this nonsense, we are all so caught up just trying to keep the onslaught of tickets moving through the rails. I am looking for my girl. She was bussing a table in the garden last I saw her. Could she still be bussing that table? No. She had worked 3.5 hours and she was now waiting for mom to pick her up. She was atop the fort in the restaurant playground. She was close to the table she had just bussed but 5 feet up on the fort, pulling herself up above the 5 year olds around her. “Hey! I need you to fold boxes!” She jumps down and follows me while she tells me how hard it is to fold boxes. You see, she had only learned to fold the clay boxes. The clay boxes are the super thin small paper boxes that require tabs and pushing slits to insert tabs to fold. Even the most veteran employee has to struggle to fold a clay box. But I needed 14″ legit cardboard pizza boxes. Folding them is as fun as spinning a pizza dough, but easier. I showed her one and she says “WOW! These are easy! Why can’t the other boxes be designed like this?” I explain that these are 45 cents a piece boxes and the others are thin and 10 cents a piece. I tell her that these fold easier because the cardboard is thicker. I know how fun it can be to fold these boxes really fast and I see that she gets this by box #3.

I paid her $21 tonight for her 3.5 hours of work. I praised her for learning new things like tomato cutting and box folding. Tonight she delivered her first hot pizza to a table and I told her to stop and have that “human interaction” at the moment of dropping off the pizza. I had her visit a few tables with me while I asked how the pizza was and made small talk. I thought deeply about how what I do is what she will learn. I want to be perfect. I want to be the best example possible to my daughter who is so hungry to learn.

As much as I love making pizzas, and as much as I love cooking pies and taking them to tables…. As much as I love to check back on folks who I know are having taste bud bliss, none of that ever felt as good as teaching my daughter tonight to cut a tomato, fold a pizza box, and greet a customer. I know she loves me and learns from me. I know she is learning more than I am teaching. I know she is filing away the secrets of making a restaurant hum. And it makes me happier than anything has ever made me before. I am elated. I am the glowing proud father and teacher. I am humbled. I am eager. I am a kid again.

But I also have a 14 year old boy. Today we spent 3 hours working on a graphic project for Satchel’s. Six or eight years ago I quickly drew a map of the property. I made it into a trifold pamphlet that we offer to customers to navigate our Disney like experience. It’s terrible. It’s outdated and jumbled. It’s bad. So, my son is now digitizing a modern version. He is helping me by making the new trifold on the computer instead of the old honest to goodness paper cut and paste style. He loves it. His hands move like lightning across the Macbook Air keyboard. He saves in a high resolution jpg file straight to my Google Drive folder called Satch’s Graphic Projects which is a file chocked FULL of logos, posters and flyers he has made in the last couple years. He made $30 in 3 hours today. A great deal for the best graphic artist I know. He was jammed full of suggestions but knew when to let well enough alone. Am I the best dad in the World or do I just have the best kids?

Nothing is better than my kids. My kids help me love my job and my kids help me forget it is even “work.” My kids keep me inspired and compelled. My kids have taken over as my #1 Love in life. My kids are the most beautiful thing I ever made.

I am in the profession of serving people. I love it. I want to make you the best dinner you’ve had, maybe ever. I want to make you dinner in the best environment with the best lighting. I want to make your eyes light up and I want to make your brain find new places. I am after your top five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, plus I want you to be happy, satisfied, full, satiated and content. I actually hope to serve up all of this when you’re visiting my restaurant.

tonight

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i think a lot about how lucky i am.  how good my life is.  how amazing the people around me are.  i think A LOT about it.

because i notice that the people around me are cool.  they are smart and funny and they get my sense of humor and make me laugh and laugh with me.

mostly these are the people i work with, the ones i see day in and day out.  the ones who always seem to work doubles. i am constantly impressed with my staff.  constantly.  i meet their mothers.  i watch their kids grow up. i even have a mother/ daughter that both work there now…. and a mother/ son.

i want to write about how much i am humbled and in awe but i know it will just sound sappy.  that’s one of my big flaws.  i’m a softy and a sap.

i paint and make stained glass windows.  i hope that my joy is apparent in the things i make. my contentment is so complete that i push it out every day by way of art. i love the studio.  i spend more hours there than the bed some days. hard work produces results. i want brightness. i want light. i want everything to shine.

how many people get to do what i do for a living?  how many people are truly happy and excited to get up each day? i don’t know because i only have this one body and mind i inhabit, but i feel deep down it would be rare to enjoy the days as much as i do. it’s got a lot to do with my amazing wife.  she teaches me so many things.  it’s got a lot to do with my smart funny kids. i know that i am doing something right when i look at them. my mom has a big influence over me.  she is strong and solid and a mentor.  if you then add in the people who work for me, five days a week, and mostly always smiling and happy to be in their skin…. if you weigh that in you would find it’s hard to compete with this level of contentment.

i do often times feel guilty that i have it so good.  but i spend a lot of time in an attitude of thanksgiving. the feeling of being thankful can overcome the feeling of guilt.

religion is a big part of my youth. understanding the life of christ is the biggest part of my spiritual foundation. understanding the value of humility, love and kindness, faith, forgiveness, and thanksgiving.  these are the building blocks of my happiness and contentment.

i wrote and ranted last night from 11:45 – 1am about a frustration i was having. i put it in drafts so i could sleep on it and read it over in the morning. this morning i decided to leave it sit where it was.

i asked a couple of women tonight, as they walked to their car after their meal, how was their night and experience?  one women said “it was fine.” and the other said “…but the service was slow.”  and i asked “did you sit out back or up front?” and the woman replied “out back.”   i said “well, you know we don’t really have any service back there as it the take out seating option.” and she said “well it took 45 minutes to get our food.” i apologized and explained that saturday nights were our busiest night, (but i had been in the kitchen on and off all night and didn’t think anything had taken longer then 35 minutes.)  the other woman then said how good the food was and good night.

i can appreciate that sometimes my time gets wasted. elon musk wasted a couple hours of my life one night waiting on his “model X launch” party online back at the end of september 2015, and when

some guy wrote a medium post about how inconvenienced he felt

musk decided to not sell him a model X.  

seems like a jerk move but hey:  1. there could be a lot more to the story and 2. how useful is complaining?

i love to complain about stuff.  when i see stupidity and inefficiency i can get my complain train ON. but i shouldn’t.  i have way more to be happy about than i have to be pissed off about. by focusing on the good i set an example to those around me. i set an example to my kids. my employees. my friends. i want to be the guy who spends more time happy than unhappy.  the guy who you are glad to see not avoiding interaction with. i can learn to dwell on the good.

tonight i left work proper and ended up in the studio finishing up a new stained glass window.  in the photo above the window i finished belongs in the top left corner, but on the right side of the double square. this work in the studio is strangely enough part of my job because all these windows are at my restaurant.

going to work is fun.  i enjoy the people who work there. each one has their own unique personality and quirks. the customers are fun. they look around and they “get it. ”  they appreciate the work i put in and they tell me as much. the food makes me happy. i take pictures of food and it’s like taking pictures of art. the job becomes food becomes photo becomes art. i come home and make more art in the studio, but for the restaurant, and for the customers and employees. no part of this entire scenario is a bummer.  each part of the machine is in sync.

there is certainly no book or meme or quote that can make your life work like this. there is no advice or blog post or 7 step solution to really making a person happy and engaged. i write about all the things i think of as i think of them just hoping that some tidbit might help someone else unlock the safe filled with answers. i know that being thankful is beneficial. i know that much. even if you can’t be thankful about a hundred things, you can find one thing to be thankful about.  being thankful about one thing leads to better outcomes. maybe that’t the best advice i can offer on the subject…

but maybe it’s all luck. maybe i’m lucky because i was born in jacksonville in 1968 as a white male to a dysfunctional family.  maybe that’s why i feel so contented.

my hands came here to write and my head didn’t know i had anything to say. i try to just stay open for expression. i may feel guilty and be lucky. i may feel lucky and be guilty. but the older i get the more i think of luck and guilt as things i make up to explain other things.

i am thankful. i want to express gratitude tonight. my mom is on the mend. she is here to live another year on the earth with me. my kids are vibrant. my days are full to overflowing.

forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

tired

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fortunately for me i have a dedicated team that runs the restaurant at a high level with or without me.

that is not by accident.  i planned and worked for that outcome.  i’ve spent many years trying to build a machine that runs whether i am standing beside it or standing in the next county. what good is a machine if it only runs efficiently when i walk by?

but well laid plans and good intentions do not always guarantee good results. however, i am fortunate because whatever i did seemed to work and i believe in the people who work for and with me, and i see they are all genuine, honest, and admirable people. they take pride in their job and they do their best like i do my best.

now that a personal crisis has come along, i am spending more time with mom and less time at work and the restaurant does not seem to suffer much and i feel confident about how things operate in my absence.  i feel very thankful about this.  so thankful indeed.  so lucky. so blessed. so fortunate. so humbled.

today i picked up my sister from my favorite airport: GNV.  i love it when i can park in the first space nearest the airport exit.  it’s a much better parking space than i ever get at publix. what airport can you park a one minute walk from baggage claim?  GNV that’s where.

it’s usually $1 to pick someone up in Gainesville Regional Airport. Yeah, a dollar. Today I got there too early so it was $2.

when you get to be my age, your main concern is how good you can sleep at night. some nights sleep comes and some nights it doesn’t.  last night i could not sleep at all. i think it’s stress built up as a toxin in the muscles of my shoulders and neck that keeps me from sleeping. stress and anxiety from worrying about mom, and work, and mom, and kids, and mom, and work, and my own health….

it’s hard to imagine people luckier than me. i have so many advantages from the get-go. i’m a guy.  white.  with money. great family. job i love. doing what i love.

but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. it may well be easy but it feels hard sometimes. it’s just what you’re used to i guess.

i don’t know what i wanted to say here.  i don’t know what i am trying to get across.  i just want to write.  to push the next post down the page.

speaking of the next post… i had quickly cut and pasted it from where i originally wrote it (on a site called medium…) and tonight i looked at it here for the first time and realized that the screen shot of my phone text had not copied over…. and that a bunch of random stuff from medium HAD copied over…..  and so i fixed it here.  it should look just as it did on medium.

i write more here than there these days but occasionally i post to both places.  you see when i go to look at the list of things i have published there (on medium)  i am impressed the list of writing is so long. i feel like i should post there too now and then so i can make that list of writings longer.  readers of my writing may remember that i like stacking things up.  lists of posts.  stained glass windows.  paintings. collage.  podcasts. pizzas.

but i also write in a private journal so writing in one place is hard enough but writing different things for 3 places is more than i can make time for.  so sometimes i may write there and copy it  here also. or write here and copy it there.  i have done both but last time, copying from there to here made for a sloppy copy. i like the sound of that.  the sloppy copy.

i also sometimes write a menu back for some light reading on the back of the menus at my restaurant. that has slowed down to a near halt in the last few years. i guess because i am now mostly embarrassed by the concept of writing for the masses eating at a pizza joint. or writing for an internet blog for that matter.  if i look back at any of my writing it seems dumb, too exposing of myself, often cliche, confusing and self absorbed.

how is it that i wish i wrote only for my own private binder but i publish these pages and pages online? where is the button to delete myself from the internet altogether forever? all my writings, pictures, videos and trail of breadcrumbs.

it’s just late and my day was busy and often stressful and i didn’t sleep last night and i’m tired and worried about a few things.  worry is just part of my genetics. anxiety.  it’s in my dna.

this blog should not be linked to my pizzeria homepage.  maybe in the beginning it was ok, a link to show that the restaurant was connected with a real story and family in the community.  a family business.

but now, 9 years later (from when i started writing here), this has become a personal journal that really doesn’t belong as a link for people looking up their local pizzeria.  it’s just too much.  too personal, too boring, too intimate, too much.

i’m tired. so tired.  tired from my own personal struggles.  tired of writing.  tired of reaching out into a vast internet of strangers. tired of using words as my expression. tired of tossing and turning in my sleep. tired of trying so damn hard all the time.

but i’m not tired of feeling new things.  not tired of thinking of new ideas.  not tired of talking to strangers. not tired of painting and making things.  not tired of pizza and not tired of people.

it’s sunday now. 30 minutes into this last day of my favorite month.  january 31st. sunday. i love sundays. i love january. maybe tonight i will sleep for a change. maybe not. maybe. maybe not. maybe. maybe not. but maybe.

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mom’s cancer

That was 15 days ago. she is still recovering from that of course. she is home now and there are good days and bad days. today i installed 2 grab bars by her toilet. we rearranged her room for easier access. the meds are constant. the surgery affected her jaw, throat, neck, thigh, calf, ankle, and 2 bones were cut out.

i slept at the hospital A LOT. too much maybe. i did surprisingly get one good nights sleep there, near the end. i slept at my mom’s twice, and she’s been home 3 nights. today i was at her house 4 times.

the people that love her are numerous. she has support from here to china and back. she is strong, positive and even under the influence of anesthesia, oxycodone, and ativan she will catch things that i miss…. the nurse who touched her glove to a chair and now needs a new glove, the fact that her temperature was 98.7 not 98.9, noticing one of the IV bags in empty before the nurse.

her recovery is fast but to her it is slow. she cries. she is tired of having people do things for her. she wants to be independent. but she has a bone and “flap” from her leg now thriving in her jaw.

2 weeks more (after 10 days in hospital) with a feeding tube through the nose. no food in the mouth so the flap can take and become just another part of the mouth. no water or anything at all to be taken by mouth. her throat is fire.

her trache hole is slowly closing. the “braces” in her mouth are digging into her lips. they want to be able to wire the jaw later and straighten the face if needed. the skin graft on her thigh is a huge scab. the scar on her throat is from a horror movie.

she cries.

she tried to put her head on my shoulder one night at 4am when she was at her wits end. but then she realized it was her “bad side” and she could not put the pressure of her ear and cheek on my shoulder.

she was born 8.15.1943. they asked her that all the time when they came to take her blood or give her meds. is she old? what is old? how does one recover from a surgery so severe?

it’s been 15 days. she gets up and around by herself. doesn’t even need the walker but uses it for safety. she gets up 10 times a day. she talks. with effort but talks. she worries. she makes jokes. she cries.

we give her meds. we crush pills. we change the feeding tubes and bags. we hold the pump the flush the tubes. we give her antibiotics through an injection in the nose tube. we give her protein 5x a day. like a body builder. we inject oxycodone into the nose tube. we inject ativan. we inject aspirin. we inject a list of things.

my son made a chart for us to manage the meds every day. he’s 14. he made a nice daily chart where we caregivers go to check the last time she had anti-anxiety and the next time she gets pain meds.

my daughter made some jokes and jumped around. she’s 11. she brings joy to everything around her as she bounces in and out of the living room making jokes and throwing herself on the couch a hundred times. throwing her legs up in the air. jumping. telling jokes.

i bought her a pink zip up moo moo 2 days ago and she was wearing it today. i bought her underwear at walmart today. i installed those grips by her toilet that she says look like “refrigerator door handles.” she’s right. they are white and curved like a refrigerator door handle. i got rid of the slippery bathroom mats and replaced them with rubber back mats today.

a mother is a terrible thing to lose. i am in the serious business of saving my mother right now. i am letting my work life slack as i reel in my mother. she needs me now. i am there for her like she was there for me.

that’s what you do in a family. you be there. when you are needed. when times are tough. you are there. solid. like a cement sculpture. like a hard packed road. like a fist against a slab. solid.

my sister sent her a magnet for her frig. my mom loves shit on her frig. my mom loves sayings. my sister loves saying too. the magnet says “if you are going through hell keep going” and it is attributed to winston churchill.

i texted my aunt

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what an ordeal this whole thing has been. cancer in the jawbone and the leg bone getting cut out to replace the bad jaw bone. we call her leg-jaw 2016.

this story is still being written. will she get radiation? will she have a full recovery?

let’s hope. and pray. and wish. and think. let’s love. and live. and remember. and express. let’s help. let’s commiserate. let’s communicate. let’s talk.

hospitals are hard places to be. but also good places, and healing places.

moms.

love