When you are sitting in your car and contemplating whether you have the ovaries to show up at a Food Pantry, you know things are really bad. Why do I need ovaries, you ask? Because for some of us, pride stands in the way of hunger. And worse yet, I am a chef. I don’t eat canned food. And even more than pride is the notion that I shouldn’t be taking from the needy. But in this case, I am the needy.

I have written 4 essays in fits and starts since I posted last week’s first essay. Most have not felt developed enough or coherent although I am aware that there are to be no judgments in the #52essays world, I still want to have a piece that holds a thought long enough for my reader to feel me.

So why am I the needy at the present time? Because I am officially out of money. I won’t go through a blow-by-blow of how it came to be, but the gist is this:

  • I quit a well-paying job, albeit one in a sexist, toxic, and ableist place to follow my dream of starting a food business.
  • I saved enough (and took my retirement out) to live on for about a year give or take; I was able to stretch the year out to 16 months to be exact because I lived in a dank basement apartment for 10 months and paid half the amount I pay now.
  • I poured all the money from the business back into the business and together with my mom did everything from the cooking and cleaning to the books and website and PR. Not once did I pay myself.
  • I had three credit cards that allowed me to extend my savings a little further. The goal was to get to the point where the business was sustaining itself and me. That hasn’t happened.

Just now I was tempted to say that didn’t happen, but I think I still have a pilot light of a fire left in me so I’m going to go down fighting.

So I am the needy at the moment because everything is gone and all three cards are maxed out and their minimum payments are the size of my car payment and something’s gotta give. I signed up with a temp agency and went for my first interview last week. I interview well, thanks to 23 years in academia. So she offered me the job right there and then, but there is no flexibility to keep my pop-up. True, the pop-up is costing me more than it’s actually making money, but when I made the decision to turn the job down, I knew I was not ready to give up my dream just yet.

So I will go to the pantry when it’s open and I’m sure even if my sensibilities are affronted, I will live to tell. After all I claim to be a culinary artist so I am sure I will figure something out. Food should be the last thing I spend money on because I need to hold on to my car and my apartment to keep my sanity, and that above all is the most important piece in this equation.

People are watching all our proud moments on Social Media and thinking it must be going so well. I don’t think people can see the true depth of the plight I’m in. In a sense one part going great; we are getting the word out and people are getting to know us but without a second space or at least a more consistent daily space, there is no way to actually increase revenue. So we can be famous all we want, when people call after the fanfare and want to eat lunch or dinner we have to tell them it’s the Wednesday 3 hour pop-up or catering. So far most people who haven’t tried the food are not ready to take a plunge and do a full-on catering order. Where does that leave us?

I was tired of fighting by the end of the year hence the long break, but for some reason tonight I am energized to dust myself off and hit the road again. We are long past the point of “third time’s a charm” so I’m just thinking I’m holding on to this little bit of pilot light and swimming as fast as I can because I’m not ready to go under.


5 thoughts on “#52essays: Where It’s At

  1. Please send me your address. You are a wondrous person and I’m quite sure your food is magic. Please let me help a little.

  2. Wow! Thank you for being incredibly honest. I hope your business survives not only because you deserve it but also because I believe your sacrifice and hard work will pay off . Stay strong !

  3. I love you so much and admire you for committing to your business, and also for sharing the struggle with us here. Everything small business owners have told me has me just staggered by how hard it is to turn a profit, and how many hours go into it even when that hasn’t happened yet (or because of it). I hope the food pantry will be better than you imagine. I know the ones here in CA offer a lot of produce (good produce, too, not damaged stuff) and pantry staples, not just cans. Please know that turning to a food pantry is not a reflection on your worth. It’s just a tool that you happen to need right now and that’s why it exists. I’m sending you big, big hugs. Thank you as always for sharing your journey.

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