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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If Only

For the first time since God knows when, I completed a brief, for-pay writing project yesterday. I wish it didn’t matter, but during those couple of hours dedicated to the task, I made as much money as over a day-and-a half at the cheese shop. Brain pays more than brawn, my husband says. I know. Shoot me—I love working with food.


You would think after six months (as of today—happy anniversary to me) of employment in a gourmet food/cheese shop, I’d have gained some serious poundage, but no. Standing on my feet for eight hours at a stretch, leaning into food cases to pull out heavy ceramic dishes, lifting bulky prosciuttos onto the meat slicer—well, these things build flexibility and muscle folks—two things I lacked prior to August 2010.

The occasional aches and pains I still feel are worth it too, because the exquisite product that comes from the kitchen and the cheese case makes for happy customers. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of a day, I offer a sample and watch, grinning, as a patron’s eyes roll back in delight. There is something guttural and rewarding about pleasing a person in this elemental way. Nonetheless, if you told me two-plus years ago that I’d be standing behind a counter offering tastes of carrot hummus or mushroom pasta; I’d have wrinkled my brow.  Really?

Though come to think of it, perhaps not.

Like most folks, back when I slogged cement feet through my corporate 9-5, I’d get weary of the pressure and routine of life and daydream about what I’d do “if only.” Never mind that I’ve never worked in one, my romanticized image included rising before dawn to load breads and muffins into a bakery oven. “If only” included departing that job mid-morning to take classes and write.

Substitute the bakery for a cheese/food shop, and I’m kind-of, sort-of, there. The class part comes next month when I start a six-week a fiction writing workshop our town library scored on a grant.

I'll admit however, that nowhere in my daydream did I comprehend the added benefit of the stamina achieved via lifting and washing cast-iron pots and pans. Good food and a work out. Who could ask for anything more?

14 comments:

Juliana L. Brandt said...

Liza,
I'm a first timer to your blog and I can't get over how beautiful your photograph is at the top of your page! How stunning. :)

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

Liza- I too traded the 9 to 5 for things I have loved doing over the years. I refer to the year and half I did do in an actual downtown office as torture. I did it to save up for a down payment on a house. I now know that is not for me and I am willing to work longer and get free excercise on the job. I also have times that I can do a project for really good money, but I figure that's my fallback plan. Kind of the opposite of most people. Being true to myself has always been worth it.

Tamika: said...

Now, I'm hungry:) Can lifting my fork constitute as exercise?

glnroz said...

When The Boss and I first got married, I worked at an independent hamburger/barbeque place. I always used the "what if" and thought about doing that again and never have. Not complaining, but your story shows that enjoying what you are doing is the "mainest" thing.

jbchicoine said...

Liza, not that working in a cheese shop isn't exciting enough, but I'm just ear-to-ear grins thinking about you in a six-week a fiction writing workshop! You are so going to wow them!

Bish Denham said...

There is no substitute to having a job you enjoy.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Your writing reminds me so much of Elizabeth Berg. All of your stories and life adventures feel like the perfect experiences to include in books. I can only imagine the sort of adventures you can get up to in your cheese shop--the people you must meet. Kind of an added bonus that you are building up some strength there, too.

Congrats on finishing up your paid writing gig!

sue said...

Liza, I've been working for the past couple of weeks with blue collar workers who are about to be made redundant. It's so refreshing to read what you've been up to, and get away from what I know are going to be really tough times for these people.Thankyou so much for sharing so generously - just wish I could taste some of that food!

EmptyNester said...

I'm so excited about the writing workshop! Awesome!

Helen Ginger said...

It sounds like you are now content. That's something few people can say and mean it.

Can't wait to hear reports on the writing workshop.

WritingNut said...

Oh, I'm so happy for you! I'm glad you're following your dreams and trying to do what you love... even if you're not quite there yet..

I want to take that step too... I hope someday soon I will be able to.

I can't wait to hear about the workshop.

Lydia K said...

Congrats on the grant and the workshop! That sounds divine. And I can't say that I wouldn't gain weight working in a cheese shop. I'd b 70% cheese by the end of the year.

VR Barkowski said...

Congratulations on finishing up your for-pay project!

The cheese shop sounds amazing. I agree, it's a blessing and a privilege to enjoy what we do. Thank you for reminding me how fortunate I am to have the choice.

Stephen Tremp said...

Those cast iron skillets can be a great workout. Or used as a weapon. I used them in my book. Really cleaned one bad guy's clock with one.