There was a time in my life where I honestly thought I would become this world renowned chef, that I would own this pile of five star restaurants, all over the world, the cuisines ranging through the many many facets that the industry holds, that the world holds for that matter. Lord knows over the vast array and ridiculous amount of different cultures and cuisines I have seen over the years in the business, one would think to themselves, "well hell, there really is no reason this could not become reality." It has not. Truthfully, now- that desire has all but dried up for me.
Sure I do still work in the business, yet I no longer possess the same passion for such as I once held. I suppose it could still happen yet now if that were to be the case it would undoubtedly be from a business perspective alone and nothing more. No way at this point it would be driven by that same passion I mentioned. Fortunate or unfortunate that is my reality. In the world of today it is just not possible to survive on one's passion alone. The tendency to become bankrupt in a short period of time is just too great. So the question does nag at me, "So what now?"
The hospitality industry has been a part of my life for thirty years. I don't want to do this anymore, there are many reasons as to why this has become so. Honestly the list is freakin' endless yet so are the reasons to stay in the business. Now though it's for the paycheque and that alone that I continue. I still enjoy the work and the people especially. Diverse would be a gross understatement. My main issue is in the physicality of the profession. I'm getting older and my body just does not have the same resilience for the work as it once did. Plus, being in recovery, I no longer have the luxury of masking that pain either. It is real and it hurts. Subduing the pain- both emotional and physical by the way, is no longer an option. So again-what now?
Sure I have written two books. Yes they are selling and there are more books in the works-absolutely. A friend asked me the other day-point blank- do you believe you could make a comfortable living from this whole writing thing? Of course after pondering the query for a few moments (I did think about it for a very short time) I am not an idiot and my answer was a resounding- NO! At least not at this point anyway. This is a tough game, a really tough game. So does this mean I couldn't thrive from this in the future? Again the answer would be no. I could, but do I want to make such a drastic change in my later years in life is now the quandary.
So I guess the question now would have to be, "which is the lesser of the two evils?"
I would certainly love to just throw in the towel with the entire food-service thing, just say enough is enough and simply move on. If only it was that easy. It's not that I consider either profession 'evil', I do not. They certainly both have their own pluses and both their own minuses- no doubt.
Now that my decision has all but been made, moving back to Victoria in the new year, what shall I do when I get there is now the big conundrum. Sure it would be nice to just take six months off and think about it for an extended period of time but as with most people I do not really have that luxury. More than likely I shall return to kitchens simply because it is safe (mostly, depending on the kitchen that is). I will continue to write if only for the therapeutic value of such, but it has become so much more than that. School is also in the cards, so it's not as if I won't be busy, or even busier than I have become here in this wonderful place that has been my home for way to long.
The options really do outweigh my past alternatives. That of waking each and every day wondering where in the hell I shall acquire enough money to get myself completely blotto by day's end. No longer an option for me, although as an alternative I understand that possibility is ever present in the back of my mind. One of the reasons I have not made this move to this point is it was a scary proposition for me to return. The memories I have were not good ones initially. They kinda sucked truthfully.
As my counselor has said to me, this is the start of the next chapter in your life. This is when you can choose where that life will now head. You can do whatever you put your mind too.
"Destiny is at your doorstep......"
She didn't actually say that last line, I just made that up, but it sounds promising no? She's my counselor after all, not my personal guru or maharaji (apparently that's not how that is spelled) maharaja, that's it- which is an Indian Prince, so I don't even see how in the hell that has any relevance on the subject at hand to begin with....yet I digress.
In reality, whatever I wish to do, within the parameters of this entire recovery business, is entirely up to me. After all is said and done, it really is my destiny. A new city, a new set of circumstance, a new home for all intents and purposes, time to make some new memories, but properly this time.
Quite a title, no?
One would have you believe I am some world renowned philosopher or some damn thing from that intro wouldn't one?
'Existentialism' - is best described from the Webster's Dictionary of Current English as: noun; a theory emphasizing the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development in a meaningless world.
Having said that, well- today is welfare day. It may also be referred to as income assistance day, or cheque day or the one I have grown accustomed to while so enjoying my stay here in the glorious downtown east side of Vancouver, Mardi Gras.
Yes- believe it or not it has been nick-named Mardi Gras here. Why you ask? Simply put, because it's a bloody party down here every welfare day. An absolute blow out from all I have witnessed during the years of residence in this ungodly semblance of community.
In a place where addiction and mental health issues are rampant, that go seemingly unchecked and unfettered, where people are basically left to their own devices to deal with their monthly Government pittance with no interference, from anyone- even though so many of these people need just that. People for all intents and purposes have been utterly forgotten, left to fend for themselves on these cold damp streets, alone and unprotected from all things, whether it be a case of homelessness, or drug addiction, mental health or for to, too many; all of the above.
Perhaps this is the 'meaningless world' part of the description of the word existentialism that exists right here in front of me? Perhaps not and I have simply misinterpreted the word? Is what I see here not really happening? Am I just someone whom sees the people with the needles sticking out of their arms or ankles, sees the people wandering these streets incoherently so very high they would not you from Adam even if you were to slap them directly across the face? Am I the only person that can see this horror going on unabated day after day?
I think not...
Three and half years since my arrival here in the downtown east side would mean that I have now had the pleasure of being a part of forty-two welfare days all told. During this time, I have watched many people succumb to the almighty cheque day, and return to their drug of choice. While in the recovery program, with a myriad of counselors and other staff members watching out for their goodwill with the best of intentions, it still happens-often. Addiction is a strong and overwhelming nemesis. If in fact this can and does happen to people in treatment, that certainly does not make the odds terribly good for those living on the streets now does it.
So what does need to be done to stop this? Just last welfare day, I myself was very close to being one of those frightening statistics! With three and a half years of sobriety I was that close and honestly it scared the living bejesus out of me. Should I not be strong enough after all of this time to not have these thoughts, these urges to get just completely obliterated? One would assume so right? One can never assume ones recovery is ever going to be fool-proof.
I am sadly aware there are many people in the downtown east side that choose to be here and that do choose to live the way they are living. Day to day, living on these streets for whatever reason; wanting to be lost, wanting to forget whom and what they are or were. It is a choice yes, some people just do not wish to be found, for some it is that simple. For others though, those that are not completely aware of their own personal situation due to the mental health issues, the ones that have no idea how or where to go for help because of the 'disease'. They are but a statistic it would seem and nothing more. that is the sad reality of this place.
The 'Government' is aware, after all is said and done-they are the ones providing these cheques every month knowing full well the reality of some of these individuals. Knowing full well where this pittance they supply is going to end up.
So I re-iterate; " A theory emphasizing the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development in a meaningless world."
Is this simply a theory or is this indeed reality?
Welcome to my world.
A few years ago, perhaps a little longer than that, I had the unfortunate experience of losing everything I own due to my own misdeeds in what I had perceived as a normal existence. This included my rather sorry excuse for a home, yet it was a place I could indeed refer to as my home. If one has ever lost such they will know first hand the extent of what I felt at that time, and for some time after. To a point I still feel that way. Where I reside now I do not consider to be 'Home' per se. More a place of refuge until such a time as I can comfortably remove myself from the rather dreary, depressingly chaotic scene of this temporary residence.
To say I have had many homes over the fifty plus years I have been on the planet would be a gross understatement. Whether I could truly call them homes either once I reached the adult years is all so uncertain to me now also. They were but the place I slept- the place I kept my crap really. Most were not something I have any fond memories of. Not all-yet most.
When I came to Vancouver from Victoria, I came for a reason, and one reason only. At first. Initially the reason was to get sober, then all I wanted to do was to get the hell out of here. I mean; the reason I had moved from Vancouver in the first place was because I just did not like it here any longer for many other reasons I shall not get into. This would indeed become a novel if I did. Suffice it to say I never had any intention of coming back here, ever. Yet this is where I ended up, and this is where I needed to be, and this is where I needed to stay for as long as I have. That time, it would now seem is coming to a long awaited close.
Upon first revelation of this yet undecided decision - 'back-of-my-mind-for-a-long-time-plan' to my incredibly supportive yet quite conservatively critical counselor Ashley- after a long pause in conversation on her part, all she could say to begin with was "I see no red flags at all in your plans." "As a matter of fact it makes me very happy."
Still though, I have not made any decisions as to most of the circumstances except the fact once my lease is up, I shall be leaving the wonderful city of Vancouver, and returning to that one and really only place that I have considered to be my home since being dragged across the country while in essence I was still a child so very many years ago. That being Victoria.
This is not going to be easy, or cheap, and quite possibly this could easily become the hardest thing I have attempted since becoming sober some three and a half years ago. Funnily enough I am not worried about work, attaining work for me should not be an issue by any means now. There are many options open to me, more so than when I was a practicing alcoholic. I was always a happy drunk, and I have, as such, not 'burned any bridges' from an employment point of view. Truth be told I am also considering returning to skool upon my completion of this latest quest of mine.
Recently I filled out an application regarding my latest book for entry into, 'Emerging Local Authors Collection' at the Greater Victoria Public Library. A part of the criteria was one needed to be a resident of the lower island or had lived on the lower island during the year of publication. The last part of that last sentence, well I misread the 'during the year of publication' part. I was declined the chance- or so I thought. After a carefully worded response to my situation of the last four years of my life and the intention of my two books, I have now been accepted to this collection with the email ending- "Welcome Home Joseph." -from a woman I have never even met.
This truly put many more things into perspective for me regarding the entire move.
I'm still scared, there are still many things that need to be worked out beforehand, there will be many tearful goodbyes leading up to the day. I have met some amazing people along this journey that will be difficult to leave, yet I know they have a place in my heart and mine in theirs. My life shall once again be starting a brand new chapter, a chapter I believe I shall title- 'Home.'
So here's the thing. Marketing for all intents and purposes is a major pain in the ass. As depicted by this little girl here, most days when tackling the entire marketing paradigm, this is exactly how I feel. Mostly due to my own lack of knowledge of the entire marketing conundrum, but I guess the biggest thing for me when it comes to marketing is I have never "marketed" myself.
In the past whenever there has been marketing involved I have been working for someone else, selling another's product, and as such I have always been quite successful at it, hell remember the ole saying "I could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo? Well I could, I did for many years, Now, regardless that the phrase is no longer politically correct what with the 'Eskimo' moniker and all, you get my meaning just fine I'm sure.
So what with the being an author and all that, I am now faced with the prospect of having to do just that -sell myself- or moreover the books I have written that are indeed all about myself. I have two books published and now the prospect of getting them into what are referred to as 'Brick and Mortar' stores, I find I do need to approach owners and managers and representatives of all things bookish and give them reason to want to buy my book to sell in said stores. A daunting task for the uninitiated.
Now don't get me wrong, I know I'm a like-able enough guy and for the most part I can get along with anyone in any given situation or circumstance but the fact that I am asking others to not only firstly, give me the time of day- because they know I am selling something, yes I want their money, but I need to be able to explain myself and my product quickly and concisely so as not to take up too much of the prospective clients time and to do this with finesse and tact so as to make them want to give me their money.
Yup, I am selling myself before the books. If the client does not like me from the git go, I guarantee they ain't buyin' no stinkin' books! How does one approach such a scenario? Especially when one has suffered from very low self-esteem and self-confidence for most of their lives, is this even a possibility?
That is exactly what the books are focused on in many ways though, so how do I combine this little trinket of information into a sales pitch you ask? Trial and error has been a big part, this has definitely been a learning curve for me and I must admit that my initial attempts at this new foray into the unknown have been less than stellar. But. It has not been in the crapper either. I have had to this point limited success with the big boys, all things considered though, this is a tough game, and at present I am fairing well in my efforts at becoming the next Stephen King (in sales-not content just to point out the blatantly obvious).
I guess the good thing is I do not give up easy, that's just it, if it was easy I would not even attempt this new venture of mine. Sobriety has given the wherewithal to see this damn thing through to this point, the next move is a challenge I am certainly willing to tackle with guns blazing!
So this is the blog page, huh.
Not very exciting so far is it? I guess this may take me a bit of time to figure out where all the nooks and crannies are located and the fun and excruciatingly painful ways in which I can annoy others on what is now my very own page.
Look at me, I've got my own blog- holy crap. I have to say this is something I have been trying to set up for over a year and half through the tutelage of wordpress and bluehost....Jesus- what a freakin' nightmare that was!! I will admit I bit off more than I could chew there. My God who knew that would be so damn difficult, not I. Yet that nightmare has now come to a close, thanks to the suggestion from James at Friesen Press.
"Why don't you give Weebly a go", he says. Sure enough, I set this up yesterday and here I am actually writing a post!
James my friend- I thank you. You insight over the last year and a bit has been nothing short of amazing. My hope is we shall continue on this course for years to come with at least a few more collaborations on books.
Even though I am all too aware I have yet to even scratch the surface of what I can do with this website, hell after the wordpress fiasco, this to me is utterly astonishing I was able to set this up in such a short period of time and am actually able to publish within twenty-four hours of setting up the site.
The little fact that nobody will see this until word gets out is irrelevant at this point. All in good time right?
And look, I can even post photos and what not! This just keeps getting more exciting as I go along. I wonder if there is any way I can designate the size of the uploads I make, or if I have to go through the same process every time I want to upload a photo or if I can just put a button somewhere and it will do it for me????
I only just figured out how to place a url on the covers of my two books so you can simply click on them and it takes you to friesen press. It would be nice if I can find the Amazon icon somewhere too , but truth be told my royalties for the book are much higher through friesen...
Yup, a never ending learning process this being an author shit is.....
Well, that's all I got for now, think I'll try and figure some more of this nonsense out...