Now and Zen

I’m coming up on a year since I joined the ranks of the

unemployed, along with something like 500,000 of my fellow Tarheels. Despite a very generous and supportive chance by Dennis Quaintance and Mark File to discover whether or not my talents lie in marketing (They do not), I am still searching for a permanent job.

As I’ve commented before: I never ever realized how much hard work is involved in being unemployed.  I recently took stock of what I’ve done over the past year to see if I might find a lead or two for future work.

As a friend commented the other day — and I really hadn’t thought about it in just that way — “At least it hasn’t been boring.”

He’s got a point. Here’s some of what  I’ve done during the last 11 months:

• I cleaned up and edited, and sometimes rereported and rewrote 159 600-word-long city profiles for a prominent publlisher of guide books.

• I just completed a story — eight months in the making —  on the North Carolina wine industry for Business North Carolina magazine. It will be out later this month .

• I also edited a BNC story on TROSA, a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Durham. And I renewed a relationship with one of the toughest and best editors I’ve ever worked with, David Kinney. 

• I’m proofreading (It’s called a “cold read” in the industry) a novel.  The genre is Urban Fiction, and as a lifelong fan of Chester Himes, I’m loving it.

• I collected travel tips from the likes of John Peterman, of The J. Peterman Company, and Marco Coppiardi, who handmakes precise replicas of violins, violas and cellos by Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati. Also from Jane and Michael Stern, who told me how to spot a decent meat and three.

• I wrote reviews of North Carolina wineries and Triad restaurants until that gig dried up. During its dozen years of publication I ate and drank extremely and won the N.C. Press Award for criticism.

• I learned how to cut, dice, slice and saute a la francaise at Print Works Bistro and now am regarded as the king of green beans by my resident chef and roommate.

• I was able to evoke the magic of my favorite place on the planet, the Greek Islands, for AAA Traveler and work again with Britta Waller, an editor who knows how to make magazining a pleasure. She also has very good taste in writers.

• I also wrote a 1,200-word piece for AAA on why Peru ought to be on everyone’s life list, hence the photo.

• I got to factcheck Billy Baldwin’s Lowcountry Day Trips guidebook with my Lowcountry lover, driving and checking to the tenth of a mile an over 2,000 mile route of oak-arched lanes, with untold hundreds of entries in need of visiting and vetting.

• I edited a third of a book entitled 101 Reasons to Drink Coffee Without Guilt until its author was hospitalized and had to abandon the project.

• I worked on the backline at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in the presence of the South’s most gifted chef, Jay Pierce, warming up at least 1,000 gallons of collards and more Hoppin’ John than I want to contemplate (and learned to love Benton’s bacon and ham)

• I rhapsodized about Madagascar vanilla and other extracts, emulsion and oleoresins for the flavor makers at Mother Murphy’s

• I’ve made guest appearances on Dick Gordon’s The Story and on several blogs, including my old friend Fawn Germer’s and, thanks to her, The Huffington Post

• And I wrote a raft of busines profiles on, featuring, among others:

• The largest supplier of theater curtains in the United States

• The interventional cardiologist who pioneered balloon angioplasty and coronary stenting

• Greensboro’s queen bee of apartment renovation

• Winston’s go-to guy for upfiting corporate high rises

• A personal-injury law group’s marketing genius

• The Southeast’s most successful home-health-care entrepreneur

• The Triad’s premiere resume fixer upper and job coach (Elaine Wilder and I highly recommend her)

• A scad of cancer specialists

• The Triad’s top mammographer

When my relatives complain about their hum-drum jobs and say they can’t wait to retire, I try to remember how much fun I have doing what I’m doing. Granted, I’m barely making the equivalent of minimum wage on a weekly basis, but a lot of people would gladly trade places with me.


14 Responses to “Now and Zen”

  1. Lisa Says:

    I dunno, that sounds like more than a year. I’m still waiting to discuss all this down at Fishbones.

  2. Kathleen Scott Says:

    Damn. When did you sleep?

    Don’t know when you’ll have time to turn your hand to Texas slow-smokin’ BBQ. With your production, you could probably write an entire magazine in the time it would take to smoke a brisket.

    Hope you post the link to the NC Wine article when it comes out.

  3. Mary Ann DeSantis Says:

    Wow! I’d say you’ve been pretty darn busy. I hear you about the minimum wage for the week. I am there, too, but it’s fun and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Are your winery reviews online?

    • dclaud Says:

      Neither my restaurant reviews or wine reviews were online so, an incentive so people would buy the paper. I”ll let you know when my NC wine story’s online.

  4. Richard Gilbert Says:

    An exhaustive list . . . but then, your energy coupled with your lack of self pity have been a formidable combo! As I said before, You are having the most interesting life of anyone I know. Anyone would be a fool not to hire you to do whatever, and obviously many savvy folk have. This speaks volumes about the dire state of journalism in America, is what it does.

  5. Sarah Says:

    You forgot about the pig pickin’, which while not strictly a job was certainly an accomplishment I think you learned a great deal from (and definitely ranks in the not boring category). And had the added bonus of being delicious and the Sunset Hills social event of the year.

  6. Jeff Beamer Says:

    David Bailey, King of Green Beans!

    This Friday let’s sit in a bar for a couple of hours and watch the snow fall!

  7. Jefe Says:

    who’s this Jay Pierce cat? Sounds like he sold you a bridge.
    Really though, you can work my backline any day (not any night though, I have right of first refusal).

    • dclaud Says:

      What I’m hoping is that I get enough “backline” work with words – proofreading, editing and factchecking — so I can stay in the sizzling frying pan of journalism and not have to jump back into the backline of fire that’s your kitchen. I’ve loved the work but have to put in three times as many hours to get enough money to survive on.

  8. Britta Says:

    David, I just wrote a better headline for your Traveler piece, “A Peru Notebook,” and I’m going to have the AD contact you for photos. I offer this practical update rather than blushing electronically.

  9. Mike Says:

    And may I add that I completely agree with you about Britta’s taste in writers, even if she did change “pooptastic” to “puptastic.”

  10. chris Says:

    david, just got the new Our State, the article came out pretty darn good. Congrats. I would’ve emailed you but all I have is the old qwrh address. hit me up, we’ve been busy. We bought an old taco trailer and are renovating it into a biscuit mobile. hope all is well with you.
    -Chris mckinley

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