Search This Blog

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ode to the Restaurant

(Prose Version)
I owe much to the restaurants I have worked. It is due to this debt, that I write this ode. Though, even in the best of times, I find the onus to have been odious, a loathsome labor, and wearying-work. Yet these restaurants have always been there for me; since I left home, un-ripened, and tender, at the age of fifteen. My sojourn has not toughened me, but rather softened me; like a prime-cut, of well-marbled, aged beef.
           
In the restaurants where I have toiled; dish-washed with hands in a chemical brine; cooked-dishes with fingers in the open flame; dishes-served, humbly with knees bent at table, replacing forks and knives. I have cut and sliced and butchered meat; chopping vegetables, pouring beer, decanting wine, mixing drinks at the bar; where now, grown older; I manage like a juggler, the many little things that other servers toss up in the air.

Managing a restaurant is a feat; a floor show, a dance. It involves no small amount of tumbling; twisting-acrobatics, mental, and physical contortions, it calls for emotional endurance, extremes of poise, of patience; of balancing your needs with your desires, for yourself, and all comers; every guest; each, on the high-wire, the tightrope, fraught with expectations, the frayed line, taut with tension and timing.
           
Restaurants have lined my pockets; thinly, filled my belly, generously; I run just to keep my fat from jellying me. A restaurant is a laboratory; of inspiration, flashing fire in the pan; transformation, where calories become cash. The restaurant is vigorous, vital, convivial; sharing time with one’s friends, co-workers, talking about bits, and bites, the bitter and sweet, the tastes that delight.

Restaurant life is a life of industry. We often hear it referred to as thus; the restaurant industry, where I serve, in an industry where hospes means guest; the hospitality industry… has
An emphasis on rest. The word itself; restaurant, is derived from; to refresh, restore; industry from; diligence, Zeal. All for the pleasure of others; we give our ergs, our time for T.I.P.S.[1]; the small gratuity.

Hospitality, is an industry and the best word for the work that I do. Hospitality, where work becomes quest. In it, I am not servus, meaning slave; I am Hospitaliter-knight, on a Crusade. Hospitality links my work to an ancient world, and a way of life that gives the guest; repose, and respite, a remove from the vicissitudes of life; and a plate of victuals to ease their plight.

Laws of hospitality are ancient; sacred, and universal. They are binding to all; and common before all other codes; written in our hearts before Manu, before Pharoe, before Hammurabi set his law in stone. Before Abraham, and Moses these laws governed the conduct of kings, of emperors, of gods. Great Hercules was sentenced to his labors for a breach of these, and he found redemption in their fulfillment.

Am I grandiose to think of my work in these terms? Perhaps; I wonder, and yet laboring in restaurants, more often than not, is a great production, a grand play, staged in a theatre of the absurd. All of these restaurants have taught me much about life; about living, about how to endure the painful hits, the jibes; to smile, through hours of servitude, at the delights that delimit, and even surprise.

At fifteen years old I took on this role. When asked what I was learning through serving;
“Humility,” I replied, with small pride, a quality, which I had theretofore been lacking. And though I had yet to become humbled, a process called deference was working in me; like chemistry: a drop of acid, a base note, serving the guest was changing me; slowly, making me into something new, the magic of cooking with low heat.

I have aspired to do more than serve; to be on the quest, and yet, looking back this work has allowed me to do so much; the schedules are always as flexible as the duties call the server to be. I have run distances, like the Marathon, earned a Masters degrees; fueling my endeavors with pastas, with coffee, espresso, and chocolate…with wine to unwind; all equivalent…earning bread for my time.

I owe much to these restaurants that have broadened my palate; and my horizons as well; acquainting me with more people than most can meet in their lives, serving all types, from all walks of life; both the kind, and the mean, the gracious good tippers, the uptight penny pinchers, the sordid the spoiled, the clean and upright. Serving in restaurants, while often a woe; year after year has me coming for more.





[1] To Insure Prompt Service – T.I.P.S.

Forty Days of Haiku, Day 7, Home – Part Three


Liminal Homes

Rooms that were not mine
A couch to sleep on, roaches
Moving all the time 


From my Collection, City of Water and Wild Places

Friday, October 30, 2015

Forty Days of Haiku, Day 6, Home - Part Two


Transitional Homes

Basement rooms, attics
Living in construction zones
Homes of becoming


From my Collection, City of Water and Wild Places

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Forty Days of Haiku, Day 5, Home - Part One


Childhood Homes

A place to lay down
Where I keep my blanket, bed
Head on my pillow


From my Collection, City of Water and Wild Places

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Forty Days of Haiku, Day 4, Grand Rounds

The Chain of Lakes

Cedar, Kenilworth
Isles, Calhoun, Harriet; flow
The path of glaciers


From my Collection, City of Water and Wild Places

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Forty Days of Haiku, Day 3, Family


Forty Days of Haiku, Day 3, Family

Family

Root, shoot and blossom

Dig deep, push, reach for the wind

Drink from the black earth

From my Collection, City of Water and Wild Places

Monday, October 26, 2015

Forty Days of Haiku, Day 2, Minneapolis


Forty Days of Haiku, Day 2

Minneapolis

Resting on the plains,

Straddling the river’s banks,         

Flowing, from the sky

From my Collection, City of Water and Wild Places

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Forty Days of Haiku - Day 1, City of Water


City boys running

Streets are streams of concrete

Hot tar, cool water 

From my Collection - City of Water and Wild Places

Gospel of the Day - with Commentary


Mark 10:46-52 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2015.10.25 (Sunday)

As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.’ And many of them scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he only shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’ So they called the blind man. ‘Courage,’ they said ‘get up; he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and went to Jesus. Then Jesus spoke, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Rabbuni,’ the blind man said to him ‘Master, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has saved you.’ And immediately his sight returned and he followed him along the road. (NJB)


Jesus opens the eyes of the blind.

Is it possible that we can do this for our fellows, our sisters and brothers; for ourselves.

I do not believe that Jesus was ever able to suspend the laws of nature. This must be read by us as the curing of spiritual blindness. And while we must read the story this way, the narrative itself encourages us to a kind of spiritual blindness. This is not the fault of Jesus, but it is the fault of the Gospel writers, and every succeeding generation of Christians who came after.

The first false assumption the narrative encourages us toward is the notion that Jesus is the son of David. He was not. He was the son of Joseph. While Joseph is said to be in the lineage of David, that is unimportant, because Jesus is Joseph’s son, and the only reason to call him that is to put forward the notion that Jesus had some kind of Royal authority; he did not.

Jesus was not a king. He was a servant.

God is not a king. God is our parent.

We do not relate to Jesus, and God as subjects to a ruler, but as siblings to a brother, and child to mother and father.

The narrative should also encourage the reader to never subject themselves to any authority that pretends to control any form of mediation between the loving power of God, and God’s own children.

The disciples tried to block the man from approaching Jesus, and Jesus puts them aside.

Finally, remember this, because Christians have been encouraged to forget this for the past two thousand years; Jesus is addressed as rabbi, signifying his membership in the Pharisaic movement. He is a rabbi, a teacher in that tradition of Judaism that developed outside of Palestine in the post-exilic diaspora.

He was not a priest, he was a teacher, a scholar, and a commentator on the law.

~ My Commentary

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Ode to the Restaurant
In Verse

I owe much to the restaurants I have worked.

It is due to this debt, I write this ode.

Though, even in the best of times, I do

Find the onus to be odious, and a

Loathsome labor, a wearying-work. Yet

The restaurant has always been there for me;

Since I left home, un-ripened, and tender,

At the age of fifteen. My sojourn has

Not toughened me, but rather softened me;

Like a prime-cut, of well-marbled, aged beef.

           

In the restaurants where I have toiled;

Dish-washed, with my hands in a chemical

brine; Cooked-dishes, with fingers in the

Open flame; dishes-served, humble, knees bent

At table with forks and knives, cut and slice     

Butchering meat, chopping vegetables,

Pouring beer, decanting wine, mixing drinks

At the bar. Now, grown older; I manage,

Like a juggler, the many little things

That other servers toss up in the air.



Managing a restaurant is a feat;

A floor show, a dance. It involves no small

Amount of tumbling; twisting-acrobatics,

Mental, and physical contortions,

It calls for emotional endurance,

Extremes of poise, of patience; balancing

Your needs with your desires, for yourself, and all

Comers; every guest, on the high-wire,

The tightrope, fraught with expectations,

The frayed line, taut with tension and timing.

           

Restaurants have lined my pockets; thinly,

Filled my belly, generously; I run 

just to keep my fat from jellying me.

A restaurant is a laboratory;

Inspiration, flashing fire in the pan;

Transformation, calories become cash.

The restaurant is vigorous, vital, 

Convivial; sharing time with one’s friends,

Co-workers, talking about bits, and bites,

The bitter and sweet, the tastes of the team.

Restaurant life is a life of industry.

We often hear it referred to as thus;

The restaurant industry, where I serve,

In an industry where hospes means guest;  

The hospitality industry… has

An emphasis on rest. The word itself;

Restaurant, is derived from; to refresh,

Restore. Industry from; diligence, Zeal;

For the pleasure of others. We give our

Ergs, Our time for T.I.P.S.[1]; the small gratuity



Hospitality, is an industry

And the best word for the work that I do.

Hospitality, where work becomes quest

In it, I am not servus, meaning slave;

I am Hospitaliter-knight, on a

Crusade. Hospitality links my work

To an ancient world, and a way of life

That gives the guest; repose, and respite,

Remove from the vicissitudes of life;

A plate of victuals to ease their plight.



Laws of hospitality are ancient;

are sacred, universal, and binding

To all; common before all other codes;

Written in our hearts before Manu, and

Before Pharoe, before Hammurabi set his

Law in stone, before Abraham, Moses

These laws governed the conduct of kings,

Emperors, of gods. Great Hercules was

Sentenced to labor, for a breach of these,

He found redemption in their fulfillment.



Am I grandiose to think of my work

In these terms? Perhaps; I wonder, and yet

Laboring in restaurants, more often

Than not, is a great production, a grand

Play, staged in a theatre of the absurd

All of these restaurants have taught me much

About life; about living, about How

To endure the painful hits, and the jibes;

To smile, through the hours of servitude,

The delights that delimit, and surprise,

At fifteen years old I took on this role.

When asked what I was learning through serving;

“Humility,” I replied, with small pride,

A quality, which I had been lacking,

And though, I had yet to become humbled,

A process called deference was working

In me, a drop of acid, a base note,

Serving the guest was changing me; slowly,

Making me into something new, as with

The magic of cooking over low heat.



I have aspired to do more than serve;

To be on the quest, and yet, looking back

This work has allowed me to do so much;

The schedules are always as flexible

As the duties call the server to be.

I have run distances, like Marathon,

Earned a few Masters degrees; fueling

My endeavors  with pastas, with coffee, 

Espresso, chocolate…with wine to unwind

An equivalency…bread for my time.



I owe much to the restaurants that have

Broadened my palate; as my horizons;

Acquainting me with more people than most

Can meet throughout  the long course of their  lives,

Serving all types, from all walks of life;

Both the kind, and the mean, the gracious good

Tippers, and the uptight penny pinchers,

The sordid the spoiled, the clean and upright.

Serving in restaurants, while often a woe;

Year after year has me coming for more.



[1] To Insure Prompt Service – T.I.P.S.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Immigrant

Immigrant


I am from Iceland

     A different Iceland than

Minnesota

      From my grandmother’s

Iceland

     Where her father was born

An island with no trees

     He left for a fertile farm


I am from Norway and Sweden

      Where my father’s, father’s mother

And my mother’s, mother’s father

      Were born

                 Borne on an immigrant tide

Forgoing the fjords

     For a city of lakes, and streams


Sparkling…bright

     Minneapolis

Is where I am from
 
     I love to fly over her

Glittering in the sun


I am from Ireland

      From where my mother’s, father’s, father came

The poet in me must have travelled with him

      From Erin to St. Louis, across the prairie

He was married to an orphaned girl

     By mail,

And wed us to this place


I am from a city of green parks

      And water; sometimes blue

Others gray, water you can walk on

      Drive a truck on, several months of the year

Longfellow wrote his epic here


Hiawatha, Nokomis…Minnehaha

     The light, and laughing waters, that I love

To sleep on your banks

     To bask on your shores


I am from public schools

     Public libraries

Forests preserved

     For the public good

Emerald forests

      Sapphire lakes

Silver streams and rivers

      Mississippi winding

Among houses and glass towers


I am from public assistance

     Welfare, food-stamps

Government cheese

     From social services for women

And Infants

     And children in need

From church-basement-potluck-suppers

     From “hand me down” everything

…shirts, socks and shoes,

      From where what had been “used” by others

Was “new” for me


Progressive…generous

     Minneapolis

Is where I am from

     Where it is cold in the winter

And warm in the sun


From my Collection: City of Water and Wild Places