I’m gonna say what no one wants to say: what if your restaurant or bar doesn’t come back?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and I’m just going to say what a lot of people are trying really hard not to say: a lot of restaurants, and probably almost all of the bars are not going to survive this.  Furthermore, those spaces will be replaced by larger “chain” restaurants and retail places, because that is who is going to be able to afford to rent a space.  One step further, the “eat in” restaurants that do survive are going to become luxury services.  No one is going to be able to survive being a dine-in only restaurant unless they increase their prices by a percentage in ratio with the amount of seats they lost.  Expect that dinner that cost $100 just 3 months ago to be $200-$400 in the future for the same types of offerings.

I know no one wants to hear that, but I’ve thought about it every kind of way, and that’s the reality that I always come back to.  Many of our dine-in restaurants are tiny.  The larger ones pay even higher rents.  If it isn’t feasible to do a descent take-out business, then raising prices are the only thing that is going to save them, essentially turning every higher end restaurant in town into the equivalency of “Second Empire”.  Going out to a “sit down restaurant” is going to return to the big treat it was when you were a little kid and your parents were young and broke; a thing of birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations.

An even harder truth?  I have no idea how bars that don’t serve food are going to make it.  There is nothing that says “social distancing” about a night club.  That’s not why anyone goes to a night club.  They go for the thrill of meeting someone, dancing all squished together with friends, and drunk people don’t understand anything about social distancing.  Put this all together with the constant bathroom trips, drunk, spotty hand washing, and the occasional vomiter, I have no idea how a traditional bar or pub is going to stand a chance.  Even the more chill “pub scene”, I mean, how do you even regulate that?  You can let only 20 people in the door, but you can’t control where they sit or stand.  Shit, some of my favorite bars don’t even have 6 feet of “passing by another person to get to the other end” space.  How is that even going to work?

Essentially going to a pub, even with only 20 people there, is going to be like going to a grocery store, where no one is wearing any PPE, everyone is drunk, but there is no food.  The truth of the matter is, this isn’t going to work.  Only the largest (in space) bars and nightclubs could handle this, and at a severely reduced capacity, that rent is gonna be just about impossible to cover.  Going to a night club is going to have a high cover, and even more expensive drinks.  It will also become a luxury.  The days of popping in somewhere for a beer might be effectively over.  Patios may save some, though, so I hold out hope for that for my service industry family.

Where does that leave the rest of us “Service for Life” folks.  Well, back of house will be able to find some work somewhere, even with take out, someone has to cook the food.  Some will find work at the few restaurants braving the new dining room layout, but with less customers, less employees will be needed.  Some will hand out those curb-side orders, but you don’t need a whole lot of folks to do that.  A handful of bartenders will see the inside of the club, but with less people, it will be just that, a handful. Folks with cars may opt to start doing food delivery.

I predict the rest of us are about to enter a whole new chapter in our resumes.  Some folks are going to straight up go back to school (this is the route that I have been thinking about, I only need 27 more credit hours).  People are going to switch into places that are hiring (warehouses, truck drivers, other retail opportunities, grocery stores and delivery).  Artistic people may be able to follow their passion and truly cut that album/write that book/make that movie/sell some art.  A bunch of you are about to learn some IT shit or take up programming, because that seems to be the only job left where anyone can make any actual money.  I love bartending, and I’m going to miss the hell out of bartending concerts and shows, but I just don’t know when we’ll be doing that again, and honestly, I don’t know that anyone really WANTS to do that right now with absolutely no vaccine or a cure unless it is just a matter of “do this or you are about to be homeless and go hungry”, aka, what our president is counting on, your economic desperation.

So, I’ve been considering other avenues, because I’m a survivalist, and I feel like I have to.  I’m going to encourage you all, gently, to start thinking about what you would like to do if your restaurant or bar does not open back up, or even if it does, and you’re not one of the 5 staff members out of 30 who gets to have their job back.  Now is the time to think about what something else will look like.  It is hard for me too.  Before now I was actually considering going to nail school (seriously), but I don’t foresee that making a huge comeback either, so I’m planning accordingly.  I was a horticulture/agriculture major.  We will always need plants and food.  This is the route that I am planning to go.  What will yours be?

Purposefully Lighter Content

There have been many times in my life where I have written blogs with the express purpose of making people feel.  Creating awareness about a situation here at home or elsewhere has often been a function of not only this blog, but my blog posting for the Love Wins page when I was writing for them as well.  Over the past 10 years, most of my social media has been geared towards heavier and more serious content, but that’s not what I’m doing right now.  There is SO MUCH serious, often times disturbing and upsetting content available right now.  The news is terrifying.  The inequity in our country is showing, not just to those of us who work in areas of inequity, but to every single person.  I’ve spent the last three years writing about people in crisis- now the entire world is in crisis.  I decided that what folks occasionally need now is something different.  People need to be able to casually run across some purposefully lighter content.

This is my goal, to provide something lighter- a recipe, a funny observation, some nice pictures- something good.  I can’t say that I won’t write a piece on racism in America; I probably will, and I can’t say I won’t write about mental illness, eating disorders, or homelessness, but I’m going to try to balance out some of the newsfeed horror with beautiful, simple things too, like these flowers that my Mom sent me out of the blue.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people have been interested in “how to grow food out of food”.  These are things like putting the bottom of celery in water, for example.  If you haven’t tried it yet, if you find a tomato you like, cut it into slices and plant it right now- it works!  It’s the perfect time of year to try this.  Get one of those multi-colored cherry tomato mixes and try one of each.  I did this last year for the Love Wins Community Garden, and it works.   I also took a habañero from my CSA a few months ago and planted the seeds inside.  Peppers take a LONG time to germinate, compared to squash and tomatoes, but check this little guy out:

There are 4 plants total, but this is the only one ready to be potted out.  Since nobody needs more than 1 habañero plant, the other 3 will be up for grabs in a couple of weeks.  Peppers take a long time to get started and fruiting, often not really giving their best push until fall, so don’t feel like it is too late to plant them.

In other news of the bored, I know that we are not supposed to do anything with our hair in lockdown- I know, I know, I know.  I did it anyway.  I found a 12 year old bottle of “Special Effects” hair dye in “Cherry Bomb”, and died my whole head.  I took my time, and the dye worked beautifully.  It was a little chunky, but not bad (don’t worry, I did a small section first yesterday just to make sure).  Honestly?  I love it.  I never thought that having a white skunk stripe in the front of my head would be such an advantage- the “highlight” effect is stunning.  I didn’t even have to bleach my head, all that white hair did the trick lol.  I like it enough that I’ve purchased a second bottle online (obviously newer than 12 years old) to do it again once it fades.

I know no one is going to see it except me and the man, but it brought me joy and it makes me smile when I look in the mirror.  Since I’m considering upping my game at the 2 week “quit smoking” mark by doing some fast walking (not running, my knee does not do running), maybe at least the cars passing by will see me coming.

In fashion predictions, I predict that this year is officially the year of small post earrings, because have you tried to take a mask on and off with dangly earrings?  It ain’t happening folks.  I actually had to think about this the other day as I donned my nifty dinosaur blouse to deliver cupcakes to Love Wins.  I chose Brontosaurus post earrings because, well, mask (and only I would have a selection of dinosaur earrings to choose from).

I’m actually not looking forward to the trend of coordinating masks with outfits.  I have 3 masks.  They are identical.  I really don’t want another accessory that I’m going to mass hoard.  I already own 10 pairs of sunglasses, can I just be practical for the masks?  Probably not.  Knowing me it’s only a matter of time before I start designing and sewing the motherfuckers to match outfits. Before you say, “How can you think of something like that at a time like this?????????!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!”, allow me to inform you that not only have thousands of other people thought of it, every major fashion label has stepped up to the plate with their mask game.  I’m thinking like a Capitalist, because that’s what we live in.  It’s happening, just like American flag clothing came back into fashion after 9/11, which I also predicted, to which my boyfriend at the time looked at me, as if I had said “I just gave Satan a rim job”, and exclaimed, “OmG! HoW cAn YoU tHiNk Of ThAt At A tImE lIkE tHiS????!!!!”  Simple.  There’s a stripper somewhere who needs a red, white, and blue thong, and guess who she’s gonna ask to sew it for her (which was my side hustle at the time).

On that note, remember, all money is evil, it’s all covered in germs.  It’s probably covered in cocaine, and every dollar bill has definitely been in a stripper’s ass crack.

See you tomorrow, same time, same channel.

 

The Cult of Busy-ness

NC’s Stay at Home order expires on May 8th, and we go into phase 1 of trying to reopen. I just finally got used to this new way of life, I don’t know that I’m ready. Honestly, I’m probably not doing anything different than what I’m doing already. The phase 1 orders don’t look much different than what we are doing right now, except that I think some retail stores, like clothing stores, that had previously closed, will be able to open again.

I have created a little routine for myself here. I like it more, honestly, than I liked my life before. I stay busy, the house is cleaner than it has ever been, the yard looks better than it ever has, the dog gets more walks, shit… I’m cleaner than I’ve ever been. I’ve been flossing literally every single day. I’ve been taking vitamins. I’ve been eating square meals regularly and walking at least once a day. I do something challenging (like digging a vegetable bed, or hauling some junk) every day to keep myself strong. I’ve never been one who enjoyed working out, so these types of things are how I stay fit. I don’t really want it to go back to the way it was for me before, and I don’t think that I’m going to.

I have plenty of clothes. I finally located all of them (I have WAY TOO MANY). I don’t need to go clothes shopping. I can order anything I need or get it locally, literally anything I can think of within reason. I have time to think now, and I get things done. I don’t need to go to a bar, I can simply go see a friend. I got over the bar thing really fast. I’ve learned to cook so many new things, about once a week we get the urge to go to get some kind of take-out, like a treat. That take-out is typically very modest, I’m talking Snoopy’s or Moe Joes. Something I would definitely be willing to spring for is descent sushi. I can roll some, but mine is just not the same.

I wake up, have my coffee on the porch, feed all of the animals, feed the chickens, and water all of my baby plants. Then I water all of the garden beds. Then I usually start some kind of weeding/digging/planting project. After that, I eat lunch. If there are errands to run, I do those. Then I put all of that stuff away or whatever needs doing with it. Next I start kind of planning for dinner. I call a friend or family member. Today I even sat in the hammock and read! Sometimes I write letters to people.

Then I make dinner and clean everything up- dishes never sit in this house anymore. I sweep the floors, because pet hair is constant. I floss my teeth when I can’t think of what to do next and remember to take my vitamins because my brain isn’t packed full of busy bullshit. I tackle something that is disorganized because I simply had not noticed it yet. I don’t rush through it because I don’t have to. All of the laundry is done and put in its place. All of the towels are clean. Sheets are washed and changed on a mental schedule, and my office is finally organized into something that I can work in.

As I settle into the evening, Elliot and I might watch something together. My hands take a beating from working outside, so I strip off old, clear nail polish and apply a new coat, sometimes getting daring with glitter and little decals- can’t get too crazy on it, it will all be ruined in a day or two with all that digging in the dirt, but then again, what does that matter? I have time in the evenings to fix it, if it’s important to me. I take a shower, no need to rush, but I tend to take short showers anyway compared to my husband, “King of the 30 minute shower”. I put on something clean and comfortable. Elliot goes to bed and I take over the office and write, research, and learn to do new things. I plan to try something new tomorrow. I go to bed and repeat.

It’s not a crazy life, but man, it’s a better one than I’ve had in years. I don’t think that I’ve checked so many wellness boxes in one day in my entire adult life. I’ve just always been too busy, and when I wasn’t “too busy”, I was too depressed about not being “too busy” to enjoy what I had. I didn’t even know how to live a day to day life that didn’t require me being pulled in 4 different directions while needing to physically be in 2 different places at the same time. I just simply didn’t know what that could feel like. I would work hard, then play hard, and everything else got smooshed, condensed in between, typically with “personal wellness” taking the bottom rung and the least amount of space.

In my downtime, I felt like I had to go socialize- often times because jobs I’ve had most of my life required it to some degree. I can still be social. I’m a great messenger person. I do actually reply to texts. I can even talk on the phone or in person. If I have your address, you may even get a real piece of mail when I feel froggy, but I am absolutely over being squished into a wall, dick to ass, in a music venue. (I’ve sort of been over that, now I’m real over it).

I’m enjoying getting exactly what I want at smaller places, instead of braving the grocery store- fish markets are awesome. The Farmer’s Market is awesome. Individual growers, bakers, and local artisans are awesome. I’ll also tell you this, I have not stepped foot inside a Wal-mart or a Target since this all started. Not to be snobby, I haven’t gone to Costco either and you couldn’t pay me to go in Wegman’s. Those big ass places full of humans scare the fuck out of me right now. I would rather just go to the Walgreens at Cameron Village for shampoo, toilet paper, and pain reliever- so fewer people, in and out quickly. That’s where it’s at for me.

I think I’ve found my “new normal”, and I think I really like my “new normal”.  I like ME better this way, not just the world that I’ve been somewhat forced to create (even though it was really here the whole time), but the person I am while being a part of this world.  I think I’ve retained more information, lived in the moment more, and had my life more organized in the past few weeks that I definitely have in the past 10 years.  No matter how far they “reopen NC”, I don’t think that I’m going to be fully participating in all of that anymore.

The Ice Cream Maker

About a month ago, a neighbor was cleaning out their house and had a TON of stuff on the side of the street, offered up for free.  Lots of small appliances, still in the box.  That’s where I found the ice cream maker.

It was a crank handle, in a box that looked absolutely vintage.  Elliot looked up the patent, which was granted in 1984.  The box looks like it came from 1984.  It works perfectly.  Now I’m obsessed with making ice cream- I’ve never done it before.  So far I’ve made strawberry, and banana peanut butter.  It’s excellent stuff.  Here’s the recipe I’m using:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract (didn’t use for the banana peanut butter)
  • 1 pint of whatever you’re flavoring it with

 

  • blend fruit, sugar, milk, salt and vanilla extract in a blender to the consistency that you desire.
  • add heavy whipping cream and burst no longer than 10 seconds
  • pour mixture into ice cream maker and process (or crank, like I do), for however long directions say (for mine it is about 20 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes).

For my favorite video out of everything I searched click here and watch the process.

I want to make more, but we really shouldn’t have that many pints in our freezer, especially since ice cream is Elliot’s kryptonite.  The strawberry is delicious, and the banana/peanut butter is even creamier, probably due to the oil (strawberries have more water to freeze in the mix).  If you haven’t had the luck of finding an ice cream maker on the side of the road, YouTube has several tutorials about how to make it using a standing mixer, heavy cream, and a can of condensed milk, so check those out (typically under “ice cream with 2 ingredients”).

Stay sane, try something new if you can, and if you need comfort food, I can rush you a pint :).

 

Week 1: No Smoking

I cannot tell you how many times I have quit smoking.

I’ve done it cold turkey before, once when I was 22, multiple times when I was 28, again when I turned 30.  Those first 3 days were pure hell.  Day 2 is typically the day that I lock myself in the bathroom to scream and cry.  Remember, we’re in quarantine, and my poor husband has to put up with this.  I chose to use the patch this time around because I would like to still be married when this is all over, and the patch has some advantages, namely, allowing you to change your daily habits while allowing your body to heal.  Then you step down your addiction, step by step, all while creating new life patterns.

How has it been?  Pretty great, actually!  I’ve been more productive in the past week then I think I’ve been in the past 6 months.  I have to have a lot to do with my hands whenever I quit.  Quarantine had made me into a 2 pack a day smoker.  That’s 200 minutes a day.  Sure, you can do some other things WHILE you smoke, like answer email, or scroll through news articles or social media, but there is plenty that you can’t get done with a cigarette in your mouth.  Personally, I know that the only way I am going to be successful is to stay away from smoking triggers and see the entire step down nicotine program all of the way through.  This might be my best chance.

After just a week of not smoking, I have noticed some changes.  I don’t cough as much.  I still cough and will probably have one for months while my throat and lungs heal, but it is definitely less.  I am eating better.  Cigarettes make it so that you don’t feel hungry.  They also make me feel kind of queasy sometimes.  I’ve noticed already that I am less winded doing tasks that require endurance (long walks, steps, digging in the garden); I’m looking forward to this improving more.  It’s also nice to not have my hands smell like smoke all of the time.  I used to wash my hands after every smoke break because I couldn’t even stand the second-hand smoke smell.  Now I just have to wash them all the time because of the plague, constant cooking, digging in the dirt, and other more pleasant reasons.

I have spent this week kicking ass.  My husband got me a wet stone, and I spent the first day of my non-smoking existence sharpening every knife in the house.  It’s a GREAT way to keep your hands busy, and learn a new skill if you’ve never sharpened a knife.  Then I called my mom and sharpened all of her knives as well.  I’ve been learning knife skills and French cooking techniques and terms through online lessons.  I’ve cooked more new and interesting things in the past week than I have attempted in the past year.  Together, my husband and I, have tackled all kinds of languishing organizational projects throughout the house, as well as this crazy part of the back yard that I thought we would never do.  I’ve planted out all of the seedlings that are ready and kept everything watered.  I’ve been keeping on top of things.

The most important thing for me right now is to stay busy and establish a routine.  I also keep a “To Do” list.  When I think of a project or an errand, it goes on that list.  Each day, unfinished business carries on to the next list and new things are added.  I have also committed to actually eating 3 meals a day.  I have literally never eaten 3 meals a day in my adult life, but as the past 2 years wore on into a quarantine situation, I found myself eating about 1 meal- every other day.  It was bad.  I need energy to be able to stay busy, and I simply had NO ENERGY.  My life had pretty much de-evolved into sitting on the porch with a cigarette in one hand, a cocktail in the other, and the phone in my lap. ALL DAY.  Sadness was overtaking me, and something had to be done.  I had to kick myself in my own ass.

I’m glad I’m doing this.  The past week has been more vivid, enjoyable, and generally pleasant than I could have ever believed.  I remind myself every day that nothing has to be rushed through (it’s not like I have any reason to rush right now, I’m unemployed, just like most of my friends and family are).  I can enjoy each thing for what it is.  I’ve spent so much of my life rushing from one thing to another, every second optimized, just for the “pleasure” of being able to sit down with a beer and a cigarette, and I definitely blame the “cult of busy-ness” for that.  My mind has been trained to rush EVERYTHING.  If it can’t be rushed, then it is to be ignored until there “is time”.  Well, now is the time.  I’m glad to be rid of the rush, and I’m glad to be on the path of not being a slave to stimulants that were created to help me “rush”.  Let’s see what I can do with week 2!