Monday, May 23, 2016

Intransigent Transience in California

I've recently begun the process of opening a home bakery. I've been baking my whole life, and recently quite a few people have asked me to bake for their occasions. I filled two paid orders, and the state of California requires that I do all the paperwork to fulfill a third. The environmental health department requires labels for every product I'll sell, but it's a fully custom bakery so I don't know what I will sell. That means I have to cover all the bases, and that's a mind-boggling number of permutations.

Californians are the first to jump on "health" food trends: juice cleanses (do more harm than good), superfoods (not really that super), organic (misnomer and misguided), etc. The ones that affect my bakery are gluten-free (very few people actually have gluten sensitivity), milk-free (legit; sources vary but ~75% of the world population and 25% of the US population lose the ability to digest lactose after weaning), and egg-free (religious, moral, or sometimes health-related). This is making my life very difficult at the moment.



I'm proficient at starting things, but don't have an impressive track record for finishing them. I want to do this more than I've wanted to do something in a long time. I'm still struggling with my foray into real estate sales, as I'm anything but a natural salesperson, and I have little passion for it. But baking- baking has been my hobby as long as I can remember. I dismissed a career in baking because of the early morning hours, but a custom business can be on my schedule. I can integrate the bakery with my real estate venture by marketing them together, but first I must finish what I started.

I must succeed in real estate because I failed at everything else. I must finish the endless recipe permutations because I can't complete any more orders if I don't. I must finish what I started.

Oddly, the tendency to fizzle out halfway through an effort is quite common in California. Many startups here in Silicon Valley take a leap of faith and then panic at the last moment. Friendships dissipate as splendidly as they are forged. Plans are blown off, promises forgotten, goals left to fly away on the ocean breeze or obscure the road ahead like the fog rolling over the mountains. Transience is intransigent.

Maybe it's because of the weed. Maybe it's because people come here to follow their dreams and leave when faced with exorbitant housing prices and extreme competition. Many come to Silicon Valley from overseas with the intention of building up experience and savings accounts and going back home. They build lives here knowing they will let it all go, keeping this world at arm's length lest they get sucked in.

Whatever the reason, I fit in quite well here, which is not always a good thing. Being bipolar, I need an immense amount of willpower and self-control to hold onto things. Endeavors, friendships, skills, health, family, my marriage, my sanity. Fitting in makes it easier for me to dive head-first into these, and also to float away from them. I want these things. I need them. I cannot function without them. I must not fail. I must not let myself be completely Californian.

Being Californian isn't all bad. I don't care about vegan, gluten-free, organic superfoods. But I have always cared about the environment. The infrastructure for electric cars is excellent, and I love my Nissan Leaf. Many business are paperless and use recycled materials wherever possible. I've also always cared about equality, and California is one of the most inclusive places in the US, possibly the world. There's a refreshing attitude of "we don't care what you do as long as it doesn't cause harm".

Maybe that's why many people here don't finish what they start. Nobody judges us for giving up. Our best is good enough, even if we may have it in us to do better than our best.

I'm trying to do better than my best. It's always impressive when people overcome obstacles and become successful. I want to be in that category.

The problem is, success for me is like climbing a mountain. The higher I go, the harder it is to breathe. I need to take it step by step, and I need help.

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