becoming

The cicadas have been loud lately.
I’m sure some of you have them where you live, as well. To me, they sound like home. I’ve been finding them on the small walk to my car, when I suppose they’ve given all they’ve had to give, their lifeless bodies and empty shells. Their wings, still shining and glossy and helping me to remember small beautiful things.

The acorns are falling as well. I hear them hit the tin roof of my small cottage every five minutes. More so, when there are squirrels rustling about. The perks of living under a giant Oak.

The pathway to my front gate is becoming over grown with things I know not the name of. My statue of St. Francis is still sitting out there — hopefully bidding some sort of peace to all the things that pass. I try to do the same.

It’s the changing season I feel. It’s hard to see where I am now, but I can listen to it. There is a small frenzy of things shifting. Some things are dying and some things are meant to harvest.

It’s always a season to reap what you sow — except now is when there is some quiet respect for what the Earth gives us and I feel the same.

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No doubt, the months ahead have me feeling a little weary sometimes. We are going to be busy at work and we’re going to be missing traditions to help other people hold theirs. Sometimes that’s hard. It’s my job, though — I don’t mind it in this season.

I have put other things on hold — not because I don’t think I can find it — but because there are so many other things I am having to give. And also, I’m doing okay. It might not fit your vision of okay-ness – but that’s not up to you.

Still though, I hardly recognize what day it is. Only now it’s “Who has a table at what time?  When do we have to be there to setup? What’s the menu? Who’s coming in today? Do we have enough celery until Monday?”

Maybe my mind will clear the clutter. Maybe it won’t in this season. Regardless, I am still open to the mysteries and uncertainties. I am letting go more, and more. I am getting to see the darker ghosts of my past disappear and I am shedding their weight.

The trees aren’t the only things that lose those heavier things. We do too. And sometimes when they fall, they are meant for different things. Things you may not ever see in your lifetime, but they are there and they are growing.

Do not fear the moaning and growing because that is all that life will ever be.

Letting go. Moving on, and growing ceaselessly into your own becoming.

the lonely generation.

Let me first start out by saying I really just speak for myself, and not the entirety of my generation, and certainly not for folks in other parts of the world.

For some reason, I’ve been wanting to talk about being alone. And I always say “being alone” rather than “being lonely”, because I feel they are two very different things.

Being lonely, to me at least, can happen regardless if you’re actually alone or not. I know people who feel lonely and have a large, supportive family and are maybe even married or have a partner to share their life with.

Being alone, well, that’s where I come in. I came across an article recently that said we, at least my generation, are going to be the loneliest generation (because of various social networking habits). Broad statements like this always rub me the wrong way, because it’s such a large generalization of a generation that is barely into their 30s. People can’t always, or if ever, control the things that happen to them in their lives.

I think often that I might have a kid by now. I might have had a lot of things by now. But I don’t, and that’s okay. Life took a sharp U-Turn a few years ago and sent me on a different direction. Part of me feels sad, not as much for me, but for the people in my life who wanted to see me have those things — maybe some family — maybe some friends. I can’t control these things, and that is something you have to understand.

What I want to say, is that I may be really difficult. Whether that is my standards, my dreams, and whatever it is I may be pursuing at the moment. Some people have an easier time in life living with other human beings, and some work better being on their own. The part of this that is difficult is merging those things at some point.

I think being with people is important. I know we joke about staying in at night instead of going out, or people telling me how much they know about being an introvert when it is all so damn complex. People don’t like feeling hurt. As I get older, I will admit it takes a lot more energy to try and try again. To connect…and to hopefully really connect with someone who happens to be going your way.

I am okay with being alone, mostly.

But, that is me.

I also feel lonely at times. Especially when you’re sick or need some squeezes. I think that’s understandable. I love seeing people together, and working out. I remember what that was like and I am hopeful to have it again one day. But you have to try things out. More often than not, it doesn’t work. You can’t lose hope in yourself or the world.

I always want to say people are stronger than they make themselves out to be, but it’s not my (or anyone else’s) job to coach you like that, because those people, in time, will probably let you down and then what?

That is what it is to be a messy human. This is your story, moving at your speed.

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So yeah, maybe I should have two kids by now.

Maybe I should be thinking of having my own business or working towards some other grand thing.

I am doing something that I love. Love that includes lots of things, though. Bits of rage and exhaustion, as well.

I have people that care about me, and loads of people that I care for, most importantly. I have a lot of reasons to wake up and try to create something that gives me, and hopefully others life.

I try to let go of my want to be understood, and focus more on understanding.

We are all different little monsters sometimes, and that’s a little scary. But deep in my belly I see a lot of love and a lot of knots that need untying.

You will feel lonely, sometimes. We are all full of cracks, you see? Because of that we get to fill up with all sorts of things.

Right now, I’m learning how to make Kombucha, and I’m running a lot more than I ever have each week. I am preparing myself for a busy Fall season, and also what that means for me,

when our seasons start to change, and we feel new life in our bellies.

 

a billion moving parts.

Sometimes I itch all over.

Maybe for places and things I will never see. Mostly, these days, it is an impatient itch and I feel it everywhere. I feel it enough for it to interrupt my sleep as I wake up sweating, not just from the Southern heat, but because in my dreams I am living with all my memories.

There has been so much that has changed about me. Depending on which life you saw me living, it certainly seems to change from year to year. Maybe I’ve started believing in certain things existing, and other things dying. Maybe life is only about being born. Perhaps living for a short moment, and as though it was a lifetime you cease to be that thing and your love and memories are left with the people you let in.

I may not know my impact on whatever tiny piece of Earth I live on at the moment. No one does, really. That’s hard for me sometimes. I work for things I will probably never see. They say if you’re trying to solve a problem in your own lifetime,  you are thinking too small.

I agree with that.

I am often selfish, though. It happens when you live by yourself and are your own deciding factor. “Yes, I will wear this. It’s not that wrinkled.” And then being in a group of your peers and thinking, “Ah. Yes. Someone should have told me that this shirt was a hot mess.”

I remember my married self, quite often. I believe I had a lot of peace then. A lot of everything really. Who knows how to handle life with another human being that is also strong and opinionated and calls you out when you make them feel bad.

Then, when you aren’t married anymore, or separated from your partner, it is quite literally like picking up all these weird looking pieces of yourself. Your mind. Your heart. Then there’s the things that hold you, momentarily. Alcohol. Cigarettes. Being busy. Watching TV. Eating awful shit.

If I’m being honest with myself, part of my body has still been in mourning for the things I’ve lost. That’s just the kind of person I am. Of course I care what people think about me. Of course you are harsh and say things to me and I take it hard because that’s the kind of person I am.

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My health has been a product of this mess. It’s all felt like a roller coaster, really. This has been the coming down part — it’s really fast, and your stomach is in your head.

The past few weeks have had me digging around a lot of things. For one, I am running four to five nights a week. I’m not good at it. But it feels good. I’ve cut out as many vices as I can for the time being, at least until I can roughly get myself back to where I want to be, physically.

I’m learning that takes a lot of discipline. A lot of saying no. I try to make up an excuse for people, and really all I want to say is, “No. I can’t. I care for you. But not right now. This is for myself and for you to have me in the future. But right now, no. I’m sorry.”

That’s a little too long to say all the time. But it’s true. Generally I am swayed by the numbers, but when it comes to my health, I am trying my best to make better habits. I have to, really.

So, needless to say, this road is quite long. I am impressed at people who have been able to scoop up other people so quickly — but I think I am a little different. And that’s okay. I have a kitchen to feel that adult love with — that rage and that passion. That is where you will find me mostly.

Until then, I am falling deeply into something else. Something that I think is important. Knowing myself, there will be a time where I fall deeply into another thing — into another person. It is easy for me to dissolve into someone. Because of that, I am careful. Because of that, I am hopeful.

There are a billion moving parts out there, and I am something so incredibly tiny.

And that’s okay with me.

 

stuck.

I have been stuck on this awful and violent week.

I feel as though I owe some sort of apology to my co-workers, who over the past couple of days have had to walk on egg shells around my fragile and angry state. I am not even close to the ones who were affected even more personally by the things that have happened.

It is still something I, and many of you, have felt tremendously this week. I am an overly-sensitive dude and have always been.

Unfortunately, I cannot hide behind the legs of my mother anymore. Instead we are pushed into little rooms full of videos of men being killed and we are supposed to handle it like adults.

I was stuck on the video of the son pulling his shirt over his face to wipe his tears and prayers to God, denying her partner getting shot. Those moans are so haunting that I wonder if it’s even possible to get them out of my head anymore.

Really, all I’ve wanted to do since Tuesday is bury my head in the cool sand, like we used to do with watermelons when we were kids at the creek. Quiet. Mumbled. Cold and tranquil. We aren’t ever promised that space to heal ourselves, though.

Sometimes we have to work through it all. Sometimes that’s having to move through anger non-violently, and non aggressively with a super person’s amount of compassion and grace.

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With so much violence and grief, the smallest amount of love and goodness feels like cold water after recess.

That small relief fills your belly with some peace.

This world and its growing pains. We are all here for it, right now. It is the most messy and heartbreaking thing we will see in our lives, but in all of these things we learn and our hearts grow and mend.

My eyes have been watery on and off the past week. Yours too, probably. Hopefully.

Hopefully we have all felt broken, and put back together with a few pieces missing. Pieces of us that were hanging on to hate and injustice and complacency. And gaining something new, maybe.

Maybe our love is stronger now.
Maybe we our stronger now.

Regardless, we are stuck with carrying each other’s pain, now.

So let’s do that. And let’s be wounded healers and cook food together,
or mow someone’s grass, or just have a little grace on someone who’s having a hard day.

We need you here with us, okay?

Okay.

moon stuff.

Sometimes I wish I was on the moon.

Maybe near the sea of tranquility, running my fingers through space-cold star stuff.

I would look upon Earth with hope knowing that everything tremendously good and bad has happened there forever and ever. Moaning and twisting. Settling, too, from time to time.

I would feel all sorts of ways. The moon sometimes feels sad to me. Because it is often trumped by the Sun — alas the moon has always been my favorite. Quiet. Pulling us in and out of her grace.

I would see a place of heaven and hell.

Dark and Light, of which I embrace both. You have to, really.

It is all so awful sometimes. But you can’t say anything. And you can’t blame anyone. We are only filled with our experiences. We are not a very open world, that is for sure.

There we are anyways. Just hanging around in the middle of whatever space is. This brilliant and short lived thing and we get to sit on and complain about our fries being soggy.

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I hate that people kill other people. And I wish guns were just used for shooting clay discs out the sky or birds for people to eat or other animals for sustenance. I hate that we’re all unhappy with our world that we drive so many people not to like one another.

None of that really matters, and I don’t really care anymore. I don’t care that you have really expensive legal guns. It’s your life, and I really don’t care. And I know you don’t care about what I think — trust me, it all goes full circle.

People hurt though. And I don’t trust myself with any knowledge that any of this is okay. The depth of a human being is filled to the brim with fear and passion and rage — all sorts of love stuff too. It gets all mixed in together, as well.

The part of me that hurts the most is my numbness to all of the conversations. Of all the people I love and respect.

All I can think to do anymore is keep the conversation light, and to keep close the people that I can spill my guts to, which seems to get smaller and smaller as life goes on. I don’t know. I guess at some point I will change. Something will happen to me over a very long period of time, and I will change.

But not today.

Today I just want to be on the moon.

Far away.

Waiting for the dust to settle,
in hopes that I can listen well and act justly when I am supposed to,
and sew good and love into whatever fabric we are becoming.

retreat and reconcile.

I’m not quite sure where my head is at.

In between a lot of layers of self doubt and pride and movement. Each layer is built upon what I consider my deepest self. The one that I return to before I fall asleep at night, and perhaps in the morning when I have a few quiet moments.

Who the hell am I becoming? Is this person good? Will this person be lonely? Can I find some balance in this wonky world?

No big surprise you probably ask yourself the same questions. Getting older (and older) I am pressed by the second hand moving around the clock. I live my life in seconds, really. At least when your job is putting food on plates, seconds matter.

Okay. Write about what hurts.

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Often, the answer for loneliness is to seek out a person, or people to do life with. But it’s awfully complex. I fear writing about it because it’s got all those layers, too. And I really don’t want to receive worried messages. Actually, I’m quite good with how my life is working.

I am reaching into the places that I feel a little worn and for lack of better imagery, desolate. Being reminded almost daily of lives that I’ve had already. Images that are burned into my brain of people leaving, of me leaving, and also ones of great love and warmth. I like those, a lot.

Daily, I reconcile the person I am becoming. The person who has to be tough on employees and himself. Who is often careless with his words and how they sink deep into another. I have a responsibility for all of that. One could lock themselves in a room forever, but I cannot think of a worse reality than to not feel or to fear the responsibility of feeling the depth of one’s humanness.

I wish I could afford spiritual retreats. Or perhaps more spirituality in general. I think this is also what hurts. Food, in my world, is my way of communion with people. Its facade is one of hipness and energy and hustle — but what I crave at its marrow — communion. And that involves all the moving parts. Sort of like your church. Sort of like your people.

While a restaurant is not by any means a place of spiritual reckoning, it is often where my feet are planted. It is my holy ground that knows too many curse words and blood and sweat. It knows stress and dirt and fear. These were the things I didn’t know as a home cook.

But this is my life now. I have the marks and I breathe in the warm oven and the first pot of coffee in the morning. I dip my spoon into everything.

I taste and I taste and I taste.

When I come home I toss my body onto my bed and often miss the presence of another next to me. Maybe giving me a back scratch. Or a run down of their day, which is often a nice retreat from the noise inside my head.

But really, I have myself. Perhaps the squirrels that run along my tin roof and the occasional lady bugs that still happen to find their way on the edge of my water glass.

My world, as small as it is, seems impossibly huge sometimes. Even when I see the earth from space, falling into nothingness, I am still alive and aware of that gift.

Of Existing. Feeling. Moaning. Laughing. And really just, being.

When I write about what hurts, I often find what heals.
They often stem from the same things.
That is life, I think.

Reconciliation and Communion.

Over and over again.

Layer upon layer.

treasures.

It is something.

All of this.

I push inward to what hurts. I tell myself not to think or write about it anymore, because the idea of peoples thoughts and opinions always seem to oppress what I’m feeling.

Sometimes, it is lonely. And I fear people get angry with me when I complain. That it’s my fault I have defense mechanisms and am afraid of wandering into another universe.

Perhaps your universe. Perhaps navigating my own.

Mine has been so safe. I toil here and there. Adjusting a picture when it’s slightly off. Leaving a few dirty dishes for tomorrow. Or the next day. I guess these are the things I can control. It is a luxury and is also a heavy loneliness.

But it isn’t a lonely where I feel sorry for myself. It is merely the self-awareness that I am moving quite singularly among people who live closely with one another.
In the softest places of my heart I miss it so, so much.

That love was a great gift for me. Even when we are quick to turn folks into enemies for what they’ve done — there is some kind of residue left behind of memory and little treasures.

I am okay to be messy. As much pride as I take in keeping my shit together for the people I see and do life with most, there is a burden of something unfair. An unfair expectation I put on others because it’s what I want. That is the raw thing that is tender and sore.

It’s how I love proximity and vulnerability, but push away a person because I so love to be free to move and stretch and maybe at times fall asleep with my hand in a bag of popcorn.

It’s the realization of sacrifice — of wanting it all — but understanding that you have to give up what you’ve built for yourself, in your own little universe.

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I’m okay with losing it again.

I’ve never been one to close my heart off, and I find myself more often than not having to make decisions that hurt another person’s world. Never anything physical — but perhaps toying with emotions and feelings. Pulling them in and not being responsible to who they are: real people.

That is it, really. Navigating all of these uncharted territories like I know what I’m doing.  Most of the time, I just want to wrap myself up in some ridiculously healthy form of myself and exist. But I can’t. I have the bits of space and time that’ve been pulled into my universe and they are mine.

Spinning and tilting. Each showing some light as to what they’ve been to me. It is all this beautiful gift that involves nothing short of tiny miracles and mercies beyond me.

And as messy as we all are to start, we are working it out every day.

I am working it out every day.

I welcome you to it. My mess. My imperfect universe of treasures.

I keep them close,

and I give thanks.

happening

I wonder if I can learn to be reckless again.

After something breaks you, you try to be safe so it won’t hurt as bad anymore, but it’s becoming very clear to me that things are always happening to us. Whether they are good or bad. Things are happening.

All of the time.

There are some days, where I can float above my body. Already, I live every day remembering people and places and how they made me feel. It’s a cycle I run through, and I’m not sure I’ve had a day where I don’t think about the moments that sent me onto a different trajectory.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I am a bit afraid to love another person deeply again. I know for a fact that I will give myself up to it. I will lose something in my cooking. I will regret some of that life, I know. Of being obsessed with some form of my occupation and wondering if any person out there would be able to accept the moments where the thing I love to do, competes with their relationship with me.
This absolutely breaks my heart.

I am a stubborn fool, quite often.

Raw feeling, many days. Where I just don’t think I have any more to give, when it’s the thing I love the most.

These days, my cup is so full — I s’pose of everything a human can be full of. Hunger. Fear. Love. Regret. Compassion. Rage. Wonder. Contentment.

And I come home, and push off my shoes and collapse onto some soft surface big enough for my frame. There are times I want to weep with it all — to really just — let the skies have it all. Maybe something up there is listening after all.

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Today, I am jealous of free weekends. Of an easier love. Sun-burned faces and Sunday naps wrapped tightly with a warm body or animal (or both). And in my head, I wonder if I did good enough today.

If I was fast enough. Or kind enough. Or if I hurt someone’s feelings or whether or not I’ll have the energy to muster up a soft hello at a local church meeting. Truly, I have a lot on my shoulders and a dull pain riding up into my neck.

But, things are always happening to us.
And like the prayer goes: it’s for our healing.

It’s all happening for us to move through and to become so wonderfully and tragically human, with the world and the people of it pulling us in a million different ways.

For now, I will rest my head and give the dull ache in my neck some time to take it easy. I will wrap myself tightly in this brown blanket and probably wake myself up with a snore or two.

I have my own Sunday kinda love, and today, it looks like all of the things that have made me — and have made me goofy and flawed and tenderhearted — and know that all along, everything’s been happening.

 

eating last.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything.

During my last post and this, a lot has happened y’all!
I moved (into quite possibly the coolest cottage in south Mississippi).

I got an award.
And I got nominated for another award.

In the midst of all of this, we’ve had three monstrous catering events and our little shop is getting busier by the week, it would seem at times. Certainly at times more hectic, at least.

Now, these are all great things. Growing pains and things, perhaps. Things I thought wouldn’t happen for at least another year. Certainly not now. I saw my name mentioned with a few other local chefs who basically run entire restaurant groups and thought to myself,

“Damn. All we have are two hot plates, a sandwich press and an oven that functions well about 70% of the time…”

I feel really proud about that. I feel proud for my crew, as I don’t believe they asked for any of the attention or what becoming busier imposes. Higher expectations. Different crowds. More pressure to perform consistently.

How do you ask that of people? How do I ask that of myself?

I think the answer is why.

Maybe why is the question, as well.

I’ve been reading this book on leadership. Not because it is something I’ve pursued, but somehow something that has always been given to me — and something that I feel proud to take. I walk around knowing that I’m a decently educated, tall, white male — which means I am probably given better opportunities – historically and well, presently.

I say all this because I always want to recognize that privilege before anything else.

Also, I work hard. And work hard to remain kind when I can. And fair. I will also eat last.

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Why is eating last important? I have no idea. But I always find myself, even when I cook for people, the last person in line. Generally by request.

Simon Sinek has a book called, “Start With Why” — and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I eat this stuff up. He interviewed military generals and corporals and came away with a profound truth: Officers eat last.

People feel safe with good leadership. This is something I’m learning. Especially in kitchens where every one is giving it their best for not much reward — they are doing so because they know they are important, and will be cared for in some way. At least that’s the way it should be. Once that is compromised, things begin to fall apart.

It’s also important for people to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. That can be hard.

I’m less likely to give my money to someone who has no idea why they’re doing what they’re doing. But if you can show me why — I’m all yours. That in itself makes me feel safe.

In the same way you buy food from us because you know we give a shit about what things look and taste like, you are willing to come back again and again.

When I get days like this, where I am allowed to settle into myself, I feel a lot of things. Definitely being tired is one of them. I haven’t had a real day off in about a month and a half. Therefore, I get to catch up on writing. On purpose. On being better.

I will sit and listen.

Moan and stretch from the weeks toils.

I like being here. I’m still learning how to do this, and I have hopes that we are still working towards something better. That means hustling so my co-workers have jobs and that we continually work to make this city better.

I am happy to be eating last. And as it turns out, it’s made all the difference in the world.

noticed.

There are moments where I miss it. 

Having a good person to come home to is one of them joys of life, I suppose. I never grew up with pets, so I reckon’ it is similar. Though I believe people are a little more complex. Even more so than cats.

When I take some time and settle into myself, I do miss it. And I miss her and I find myself so curious as to how we forgive and move on from hard things. I haven’t cried much at all the past couple of years. I think I got a lot of it out of my system back in that time and to be honest, the waterworks are on hiatus.

I still get sad, for the overwhelming things we see and have to deal with every day. I get angry. I fight. I argue.

I submit, too.

I laugh, and then do this thing where I choke up. Like when I found out I won this really cool award for my work — because it is often times, such thankless work. I laughed because I thought it was funny for a cook to win such a thing, and then I choked up because this work is so hard and I was so thankful to be noticed.

I would like to think she would have been proud. After all, I spent most of our marriage hustling around different cafes and restaurants in hopes that something would stick. And some things did, and sometimes I would lay on her lap exhausted and wake myself up snoring.

When you get noticed, like I find myself from time to time, there is a moment of pure joy where you know you are doing good work — and then the moment comes where you remember all the things you missed getting what you wanted.

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Mississippi, man.

I suppose I find myself thinking about those things. Not much these days. But you always remember your best friends. Best partners. The people who pushed you forward and made sure you got home safe when you accidentally got (hanging out the window at Popeyes) drunk from a work party.

That safety though…is something you will always remember in your belly. The safety of being loved and thought about and cared for. You have those things when you’re single too. It just looks different. And you learn to love yourself in such a different way.

I suppose that is what I miss about companionship — what I crave when the nights get late and I drift away to the sound of my heater.

There are too many frustrations. Things I wished I would’ve done a million times. And then, there is now.

And now is bigger and wilder than I ever imagined. And it’s in Mississippi of all places.

A new home. A platform. A place to grow what my mind has sewn.

Things are never going to be the same. It is all new, all of this that I’m going through and often times it is hard to get out of bed and on to that next thing. But I’m always so thankful that I did…and that I do.

Here’s to our seasons of growth and struggles and lessons — In hopes that you approach them all with goodness deep down in there,

and remember that not everything you lose, you necessarily need back.