Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dead Dreams

Now those memories come back to haunt me
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse
that sends me down to the river
though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight

--Bruce Springsteen, "The River"
I went back and looked at last October's entries yesterday, in part because I've been playing "last year at this time" in my head. Last October, Dave found out he'd be losing his job, and my company had crumbled; I was in pastry school, making chocolate and sugar sculptures, and still thinking I could open my own business. Still thinking I'd be with Dave, for that matter.

I've been telling myself that (a) I can get by on the combination of the side work (proofreading/copyediting/freelance writing) and the bakery, at least for now, so (b) I don't need to make any decisions about what I'm going to do until January. But the panic wells up inside, fighting for emotional space with the sadness. I know I can't do this particular combination forever; the bakery work is physically demanding and low-paying, which means it's also time-consuming. There are no benefits and no paid vacations. I'm 48 years old, and, hey, I'd like a day off once in awhile.

I also wonder if I can or want to start my own business by myself. The failure rate for new businesses is extremely high, especially for food businesses--more than 90% of restaurants fail in the first two years. The whole thing was predicated, in part, on Dave supporting me for awhile (as I supported him before we were married), giving us a cushion while I got the thing going; clearly, that's no longer an option. In addition, I see how many hours a week Jefe works (80, maybe?), and, even allowing for (a) efficiencies I might be able to build in and (b) ambitions for a smaller business than he has, there's not much likelihood of anything but long hours and low pay for the foreseeable future. It also ties me to whatever location I'd choose; you can't move food businesses.

In short, I've started thinking about alternatives. Can I find an office job I don't hate? There's another big question, seeing as how my inability to find a job was part of what prompted this change to begin with. But what kind of job? Can I find one that pays enough and that I don't hate? And does that mean the baking dreams are dead, even though I'm good at this shit?

And so on.

I try to tell myself that I DON'T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THIS UNTIL JANUARY, DAMNIT, SO STOP ALREADY, but I don't listen for long. None of that is the least bit productive--it (what a surprise) tends to distract me from the writing/editing I should be doing instead, though I can make croissants and obsess about these things well enough. (Hey! I'm a multi-tasker!)

And then there's all the stuff from the dying marriage to contemplate as well; that's a fun subject for my brain, too. Another dream in shambles. Feh; I'm whining again, and that annoys me even more.

I had a long talk last night with one of my best friends, in California, and that helped some, not least because he thinks I'm pretty fabulous and he tells me so. He can commiserate, too, because he has the hardest time finding a job (he's unemployed again); he keeps finding a job, digging himself out of a financial hole . . . and then something happens and he loses the job, either because the company goes out of business or his boss is a nutcase who wants to hire a friend, or something. He's one of the two or three smartest people I've ever met, and he knows how to do all kinds of things, which makes it difficult to get hired, it turns out; most places, especially places run by half-bright HR people, are suspicious of people who don't have lots of obvious straight lines in their lives and work histories.

Anyway, it's time to make the doughnuts, or, rather, the croissants, because they still won't make themselves. Pizza today, too. I have to say that my croissants have completely rocked the house the past two days; we must have a good batch of flour or something (seriously; that makes a difference), and my lamination has been really beautiful.

Added: On my way to work this morning, my iPod served up this song first, in some kind of karmic harmony, I guess.


Anonymous Ron Sullivan said...

You know, I ran into someone at the music fest (another one!) this weekend and she asked me how I was doing and by the addlepated gods I told her. And I got to thinking afterwards, and said to Joe, "You know, this has been a shitty year, hasn't it?"

And it has. And for you too. Maybe Xena's in retrograde all year or something.

If you were in town I'd pour you a drink and we couls sit and scowl together. But hey, I genuinely am glad to hear that at least your lamination has been really beautiful. You know, not a whole lot of people could say that.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Thanks, Ron! I'd totally take you up on that drink, too. Sometimes it's useful to add it up--not to wallow, not to whine, but to remind oneself that there has been a lot of crap, and, in my case, to remind myself that it could ALWAYS be worse. I think the reminders are useful, just in terms of various sorts of awareness.

5:33 AM  

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