living underground in the real world

Spring, sprung. And business, getting all businessy. And a question for you, if you can get past all the rambling. and also: a list of my enemies.

Wow.

I took a few minutes out from packingpaintingmovinghaulingchocolatizing the other day, and the out-of-doors greeted Jacob and I with this bounty! I'm telling you, SPRING.

LIFE IS SO EXCITING AT MIDNIGHT WHEN YOU’VE BEEN HAULING CRAP ALL DAY FROM ONE KITCHEN TO THE NEXT AND DRANK 2 GLASSES OF WINE REALLY QUICKLY RIGHT WHEN YOU GOT HOME!

PEOPLE.

LISTEN.

I have finally, after much hand-wringing and whining and advice-seeking and self-scolding and wishing-I-was-stronger-ing and gyms-are-gross/yoga-isn’t-for-me-ing, figured out my ideal exercise:

MOVING.

Moving is perfect for me! Not only is it a great workout, but I push my body much more than I would in your typical when-will-it-be-over workout because it actually accomplishes something. I will push my body harder than I’ve ever pushed it if it means one more carload of chocolate molds and Pyrex containers and spoonulas will get to the new shop before darkness sets in.

Amazing.

Anyway, so this week I’m moving my business from Rosendale 10 minutes down the road toward my house into New Paltz. (Hey, I just did a radio-style “reset” for new readers! How fancy! If you’re new to this blog, I hope you feel sufficiently clued-in now.)

SPRING! Here are some glorious photos of last year’s glorious spring. Sigh. GLORIOUS! This one is super great too.

Yet another great thing about spring: it’s the perfect season for moving. Not too hot, not too cold.

Oh, and am I the only one with a seemingly endless stack of cheeky anti-Bush t-shirts gathering dust in the closet? They make good painting clothes, that’s for sure. Maybe I could start a trend of calling the bush the “Obama” so I could just make a quick change with puffy paint or something and then bring on the “The only Obama I trust is my own” shirts.

Speaking of photos (and moving on from failed presidencies), when everything is all set I’m going to create the most massive post of all time with photos of every single inch of the new shop—so be excited about that, because YOU ARE GOING TO FREAK OUT ABOUT HOW AMAZING IT IS. Or, at the very least, about how much painting I did.

On a bitterer note: I am making a list of people not welcome at the shop, complete with photos! How terrible am I?

There are two people on the list so far, and I really hope it will stop there. I thought of several others I’m not thrilled about seeing, like the Women’s Studies prof who wrote the short story in which I am negatively featured as an overly chatty vag-blocker at a drinky party (truthfully, this 6-year-old story is sort of getting old as I’ve told it to everyone I know twice and I don’t even harbor any annoyance at said WST prof anymore, especially since I’m still besties with the dude she was flirting withas well as his lovely wife, because some people understand that talking to a dude doesn’t mean you want to sleep with him, Ms. Women’s Studies Professor!),

or the woman to whom I once screamed “FUCK YOU” at a meeting of our organic food co-op (she responded in kind, don’t worry),

or the former Mayoral candidate who I gossiped about on Facebook last week without realizing we were Facebook friends (he instantly commented saying I was, in fact, incorrect in stating that he was “literally insane” [his grammar and spelling were a lot worse though] and we were off to the races after that. The next day 3 people stopped me on the street to thank me for the lolz.).

or that one former meal delivery client of mine who makes me crazy for a million trillion reasons,

or the other one who makes me crazy for a million trillion other reasons and recently ran into me in town and said, AND I QUOTE: “Yoo hoo!! Word on the street is you’re opening a chocolate shop! You’re going to have to deal with people! I can’t wait to stop in and witness the fireworks!!!”

or a dude who, at terrible Italian restaurant in Battery Park, I once had a heated discussion with about the music industry and the nature of selling out. This dude would *not* concede that I was right (selling out is still a sin), and I got a bit hot under the collar and screamed that he needed to “shut the fuck up” at the top of my lungs (naturally this happened just as the song coming over the speakers had ended, so the entire restaurant turned to look.). (We’ve made up, at a wedding last winter though, over whiskey and wine. All good.)

or the famous farmer around town with whom I once got into such a bizarrely heated and prolonged fight about the need for feminism that our respective partners were literally holding us apart, lest we punch each other.

or one of my former culinary school instructors, who was a really close pal until she stayed up all night once reading the old lagusta.com, which was a collection of essays written by yours truly about things like I write about here, and came into school the next day and told me my political views were so extreme she wanted to pretend I no longer existed.

or those two dudes on the internet who are always sending me crazy emails and Facebook messages about me not being vegan because of the honey thing and the used leather shoes thing.

or the proprietor, with whom I share a few pals, of a certain trendy NYC vegetarian restaurant, who I’ve talked some serious smack about because she talked some serious smack about hating vegans in the NYC papers. (every vegan knows the golden rule: you’re only allowed to complain about how 99% of vegans are insanely annoying to other vegans–not to the press, lady.)

or my scammer!

or this reallllllly annoying ad rep who keeps promising to write an article about my biz in exchange for taking an ad out in her paper and who emails me about every other day which boils my blood because my mother is a journalist and I know that that kind of quid pro quo is disgusting, yo! And also, I’ve told her a million times that I don’t do ads!

or this person who emailed me last week complaining about the rosemary caramels, AKA ONE OF THE BESTEST THINGS I MAKE, HANDS DOWN, saying that “my friend and I both agreed the rosemary was overwhelming. The next time you make a chocolate to donate to a charity, try to make one that tastes delicious.” and subsequently caused me to eat five caramels at once, shoving them into my maw and yelling “I’M EATING FIVE AT ONCE AND THE ROSEMARY STILL ISN’T OVERWHELMING! AND I HAVE A VERY SENSITIVE PALATE! PEOPLE ARE FREAKING INSANE!”

I’m beginning to think I could go on with this all night.

THE POINT IS:

None of these bonkers freakers am I banning from the shop. (Also: two glasses of wine + exhaustion + insane hyped-up energy created by thinking about all my enemies = very weird syntax)

You just can’t go around banning people from your capitalist enterprise, you know?

What am I, twelve?

Obviously I know that I’m going to have to sell chocolates to people whose political views or personal style or ways of being don’t line up with my own, and obviously I’m fine with that. Plus, as my work is my activism (as I so eloquently/bizarrely put it recently here, about halfway down, right before I started rapping), I want people to eat my chocos who aren’t anarchist vegan far-lefty man-hating feminists who have seen every episode of Arrested Development a minimum of four times. Conversion is the name of the game. (Ideally converting people to veganism, that is. But if I convert a few over to the side of Arrested Development who weren’t already on that team, that’s fine too.)

But:

The idea of the two people on my banned list eating my chocolates makes my heart hurt so bad, it’s a whole different level. Their nasty vibes would pollute the shop so terribly (and both have blogs that I mos def do not want to be featured on) that I decided that instead of worrying they were going to come in, I would preemptively kick them out. I’ve prepared a polite “we reserve the right to refuse service” speech and feel much calmer about the whole thing.

On a sweeter note: I’m also making a list of people in the neighborhood as I meet them, so I remember their names. I’m committing myself to remembering names these days, and have realized that the reason I never do is because I don’t pay any attention when people introduce themselves, usually because I’m so uptight about worrying that they won’t pronounce my own name right. This is all changing—I’m going to be that warm shop owner who greets regulars by name! FUCK YEAH!

Oh hey, that reminds me: how do you prefer to be treated when you enter a shop? I’ve been thinking about that lately.

I prefer:

  • a lot of signage that will educate me about the products being sold that I can peruse (or not) at my leisure,
  • to be greeted upon entry,
  • then left alone unless I specifically ask a question.

I have a feeling I’m not the average consumer. If you’d share your thoughts on this, I’d be super appreciative. I can’t think of any better customers than you, the people who have put up with my rambles over the years and are still here.

I’m really excited about life right now, can you tell (except a wee bit depressed by realizing I have so many enemies)? I’m going for everything, balls out, 100%, on my terms.

It’s amazing. I feel powerful and proud, and the shop isn’t even open yet.

Yay!

OK, time for bed, and finishing up that New Yorker article about that dude doing those experiments about drummers and how they experience time differently than the rest of us. CRAZINESS.

THE WORLD IS FUCKING AMAZING, PEOPLE. IGNORE THE HATERS!

11 Responses to “Spring, sprung. And business, getting all businessy. And a question for you, if you can get past all the rambling. and also: a list of my enemies.”

  1. Randal Putnam

    Very excited for you. Customer interaction? Your approach sounds fine as a general rule, but you’ll have to play it by ear, customer by customer. Every day you’ll be in a different mood and every customer comes with their own baggage. It is a tightrope walk, right? My greatest struggle has been to find ways to talk less, to encourage others to share and then listen more actively. When I succeed, I enjoy conversation much more than when I do all the talking. You’re going to do great in this area. A few failures are inevitable, but I am confident most of your customers are going to enjoy getting to know you and your chocolates. Onward!

    Reply
  2. christy

    I’m 100% with you– I want only some friendly acknowledgement of my existence when I walk through the door, then let me alone whilst I look!

    Reply
  3. Jen

    I think your plan sounds perfect- that’s how I like to be treated in a shop. (Of course I’m probably less social and more contrary than most people so maybe I’m not the best example). I agree with Randal, you’ll have to play it by ear a bit. But from my (un-social, contrary) perspective- I don’t want to feel like the shop person doesn’t give a damn and would rather be elsewhere, but I also don’t want to have to engage in conversation if I just want to look at things. I definitely don’t want to feel like someone is trying to coerce me into buying something. If I have questions I’ll ask, and I love chatting with store owners if I’m in the mood for it but hate being forced into an unwanted conversation about the products. I actively avoid shops where I know there are aggressive salespeople in wait, like little clothing boutiques where they don’t just leave you alone to look but get all “oh this dress would look great on you!” Ugh.

    Are you going to have little samples for people to try? That definitely works to get me to buy food things! I feel more comfortable if samples are just out and I can get them myself vs. someone saying “let me know if you want to try something” and they have to get it for me. Then it feels like I’m bothering them and I feel obligated to buy something and I don’t like feeling obligated. Have you ever been to Filling Station in Chelsea Market? The place with all the olive oils and salts. Everything is just there for you to try, which I love. I spent like 30 minutes in there tasting everything, and bought a bunch of things and I’ll likely go back because there was a whole lot of stuff I tasted and loved but didn’t buy. I know if I had to ask the person to try X and Y I wouldn’t have tried so many things because I would have felt like I was being annoying/somehow putting myself into a position of feeling bad if I didn’t buy something to make up for the trouble. And if there was a person there going “oh, you like the grapefruit oil? Have you tried the blood orange? It’s just wonderful and I bet you’d love it!” I would have probably not have bought anything at all and probably wouldn’t go back either. There must be some type of people those tactics work on or they wouldn’t do it, but I’m obviously not that type…

    Good luck! Looking forward to seeing the photos of the shop!

    Reply
  4. ecclescake

    I’m right there with you on the entering-a-shop-treatment thing, and I agree with the nuances everyone spelled out above. And that sentence felt really formal.

    Reply
  5. Jordan

    Wow! I would love to know the story behind the Fuck You that you handed out at the co-op meeting.

    I CAN”T WAIT to see the pictures of the new shop!! OMG!!

    FUCK that lady that said that about your chocolates And fuck those guys that blast your buisness on facebook.

    One problem I had when i was a server is that I would taaaalk to much and I thought people liked it. Then I went to eat once and my server did that to me so I stopped doing that to my customers. Also a group of regular vegan tatoo artists that owned the shop down the street came in and all the food in the place was vegan but one dish (it had eggs in it), And these guys with vegan and str8 edge and all kinds of bullshit tatooed all over there necks wrists etc… ordered that dish all the time and EVERY time i would stare at their tatoos and say.. YOU KNOW THATS NOT VEGAN RIGHT?!?!?!?!

    I’m glad i work around animals all day now.

    Reply
  6. Bettina

    I like signs. I don’t like talking to people in shops unless it’s organic. I like to interact / ie read and look with the products myself.

    Btw, where do you find morels? What kind of trees / soil? I want to find them in Berlin, where mushroom spots are legacies passed down by word of mouth. Congrats on your morel load!

    Reply
  7. andrea louise

    I like what you have proposed and also maybe a “let me know if you have any questions/need help” if they don’t seem too interesting interacting straight away.

    Reply
  8. britt

    wait, so who is on the ban list?

    also, i’ve worked/shopped in many different retail establishments with different approaches to customer service, and i think you’re spot on. there is NOTHING worse than working OR shopping in a place where sales associates have to stalk customers asking, “are you finding everything ok? did you see this? you just HAVE to try this! would you like me to put XXX at the counter for you? you know what really complements that?” BLAH. this is why i can never work retail ever, ever again. hi, how are you, thanks for coming, i’m here to help IF YOU NEED IT, thanks, hope to see you again soon! END.

    Reply
  9. GoodOleBoy

    Don’t understand why other vegans would care what you eat or wear. I’m more carnivorous than most and could care less what people eat or wear. Some points to ponder though, Pastures that support livestock have much more habitat for wildlife than row crops. The furor over fur has ended up with an overabundance of small predators which has hurt many small animals and bird populations. The current land use in many areas helps the small predators to cause a large amount of damage on ground nesting birds. Historically the Native Americans utilized the small predators for their skins and the habitat supported less of them. After them trapping kept their numbers in check, no that is gone. If you doubt this ask anyone raising chickens.

    Also we have forward directed binocular vision that is a hallmark predator trait, and a gut that allows us to live on a totally carnivorous diet, you just have to eat the organs, Vegetarians on a totally vegetable diet miss out on two amino acids. In the words of Larry Niven, “It doesn’t take much intelligence to sneak up on a leaf”. A baby also needs a high fat diet to develop it’s brain and the breast milk of a Vegan or Vegetarian is fat deficient.

    Reply
  10. lagusta

    Oh jesus fucking christ. Will someone else fight with this idiot?

    Reply

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