Physical Adjustment

Tired feet, aching head, growling stomach. These are some of the side effects of working 12 hour days, seven days a week – of opening for business at 4:00 pm and finally coming home at 5 in the morning. Of sitting down to have dinner just as the birds are announcing the dawn of a new day.

For David, the 12 hour days are not so different from what he experienced in New York. As a private chef, he was on his feet all day and would frequently put in such long hours as he patiently waited for his employers to get hungry for each meal. For me, it’s the opposite of what I’ve been used to for nearly the past decade. As a writer for a website and then a magazine, I sat in front of a computer all day. Yet, even for David, running AlteArte has required an adjustment. For, since we got laid off from our jobs a year ago, we had both fallen into a fairly idyllic, lazy lifestyle of getting up when we felt like it, eating three meals a day, and, besides the perpetual nagging feeling of needing to figure out what in the world we were doing with our lives, relatively little stress.

At first, we figured that we’d test out opening AlteArte every day to see which day would be the best to close. Monday was slow, but, since all the other businesses were closed, perhaps it would be best to stay open that day. Tuesday was slow but maybe we could organize a happy hour to stir up business. And as we tested it out, the weeks passed and the tourists started arriving for Easter week and we no longer could close one day out of the week because, as everyone in Altea knows, during the high season, you work. And you work hard. It’s during the low season that you rest. Consequently, we’ve been open every single day since we officially opened February 27th.

And it’s starting to take its toll. David who has, historically, been able to withstand being in a household of sick people and not get sick fell ill the other week but persevered nonetheless. I, who hadn’t been able to lose weight since being with David regardless of my attempts to work out, quickly shed the hard-to-lose pounds within the first two weeks. My weight loss was so noticeable that when David’s cousins came to AlteArte for a surprise visit a couple of weeks ago, they lectured us about eating well. Up until that point, we had varied our meals by eating all different kinds of… pasta – bowtie, spaghetti, rotini. After that, though, David started scouring through the cupboards at 4 or 5 in the morning searching for any kind of protein – that he could add to the pasta. However, we hadn’t had time to go shopping for home and our cupboards were quickly becoming barren – so much so that, one evening, in desperation, David grabbed my last, treasured can of Amy’s vegetarian chili that my mom had brought for me from California. I had been saving it for a special meal as I especially enjoyed eating it on a baked potato with cheese on top. But, instead, it was hastily added to the pasta and not nearly as good, and I sullenly ate it for its protein – not for its taste.

Our apartment also suffered from neglect and the laundry piled up until I was forced to stay home and do load after load until the situation became less urgent.

And the exhaustion has set in – especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have Spanish class at 9 in the morning. On these days, I sleep only 3 or 4 hours and wake up at 9, jump out of bed in alarm and run to class. Running on little sleep is OK as long as business is steady. But on Tuesdays when it tends to be slower, drowsiness sets in and it’s hard to keep my eyes open. But, for this, David has found a solution. When the exhaustion becomes unbearable, we spread out a long-chair mattress along the length of the stockroom and, in the narrow space between the crates of soda and the shelves of alcohol, we take turns resting.

But I’m not complaining. Because the exhaustion is a good exhaustion. It’s the type of fatigue that comes from having done something, from having accomplished something, from having worked hard for something. And, over time, the body adjusts. My feet don’t hurt as much as they did in the beginning, I haven’t had to take an Advil in weeks, and having dinner when we should be having breakfast is kind of starting to feel normal.

And it’s true that we don’t always have to both be at AlteArte. But part of the pleasure of owning it is being able to do it together. Our goal, after all, was to create something where we could work together. In the future, perhaps, whether out of choice or obligation, we’ll have to modify that. But, for now, we’re making AlteArte ours – together.

When exhaustion overtakes us, David and I take turns resting in the stock room.

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21 responses to “Physical Adjustment

  1. Oh no, I bet it is tough to readjust to working so much. I fear that day too because I just go about my business when I please most of the time as I am working from home. Maybe in the next week you can take a day off and then he can take a day off. At least the other 5 you are working together. Even if you are off, you can stop in a visit him to eat dinner together. Just some ideas so you don’t get too over worked.

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Melinda. Yes, we might eventually need to work out some kind of arrangement like that.

  2. You both are amazing! You jumped right into to this and haven’t looked back yet, and what a wonderful whirlwind it has turned out to be! I am so happy that everything is turning out the way you had hoped, if not better. It is great that you guys get to do this together and enjoy doing so. I do hope you figure out a way to get some healthy meals and quality rest in. Take care of yourselves!

  3. Ahhh, the good ‘ol days. So much of what you write is so familiar from us 5 years ago, comforting in a way. I so admire and respect what you both are doing out there. To do it together and for yourselves… it is the only motivation you need:) IT does get easier and more rewarding. The head keeps swirling with new ideas and thoughts, never really letting yourselves totally relax. Take care of yourselves and keep on truckin’!

    • Beth, you and Jeff did this and so much more. The two of you created a brand from scratch and that’s much more difficult. I knew that you worked hard, but now I’m getting a taste, firsthand, of what it was like for you. And I am beginning to appreciate and respect even more what you achieved with The Daily Rise! It’s nice to follow in your footsteps. May we reach the same level of success as you guys have!

  4. I am not surprised at how hard you guys have had to work and how exhausted you must be. I’ve always heard it’s super hard work and it’s always harder than you’d imagine. (now you see why I was scared to do it on my own!) But it’s STILL awesome and rewarding that you guys are doing it, together!

    In any case, it sounds like you need a Niki to the rescue and to give you guys a little help at AlteArte and a personal assistant at home. So when you start raking in the mulah, just fly me over and you know I’d be happy to be your private chef, bar girl, masseuse to massage your tired feet, or whatever!! 🙂

    • Oh, Niki, how wonderful it would be to have a Niki here. We are working super hard and hopefully we’ll be able to figure out a way to get you over here! You would love everything about it! And the people would love you!

  5. WOW that IS a tiny resting space! Good thing you lost weight 🙂 Just kidding! You obviously don’t need to lose even one pound! I’m glad your body is mostly readjusting to the routine. I’m also really glad you are so busy that you have to be exhausted!

  6. Sara,
    We just saw this new blog of yours – but haven’t really absorbed it yet. We were too physically exhausted to fully comprehend it!
    The amount of work and effort you are both putting out is truly amazing! We certainly don’t have that energy now, But you are both proof that hard work really pays off!
    We can’t wait to sit, very soon, and watch both of you toil away!
    And did we say that we are very proud of you both!

    • Thanks mom and dad for your moral support! You’ll soon be here to see it for yourselves – I can’t wait!

  7. oh my goodness – sounds about time I come and check up on you – make sure you are eating, AND sleeping!!! Making me worry!!!

    I’ll come with help – and I have been recruiting more customers in Honduras to keep you even busier as well!

    PLEASE take care of yourself!!!

  8. When you’re doing all this for you it’s definitely a different kind of tired than working at someone else’s place. From experience, a few suggestions:

    -time allowing, stand on your head once a day to relieve pressure on knees
    -wear gel shoe pads (ask your mom to get you some at Duane Reade etc. if you can’t find them)
    -Ginseng for energy

    Best of luck in this awesome pursuit!

    • Great advice, Ana. Although standing on my head might be more hazardous than standing on my feet. I’ll try that when you’re here to hold me up!

  9. and might I suggest a more comfortable bed? Even a little futon you can fold in half might be more comfortable than a blankie! Best of luck and I’m so proud and excited for you!

    • If we could fit a futon in our tiny storeroom, we definitely would, Sarah! Unfortunately, it’s really quite narrow – just enough for a body lying sideways! 😉

  10. WOW, Sara and David!!! you are undertaking something that is remarkable. I can only imagine what you are experiencing in my mind! It is definitely a story of inspiration. In a way, you are really living!!! Grabbing life by the horns!

  11. wow sarah you need a rest!!!
    Seriously, season hasnt even started yet and you are already taking naps in the kitchen?!?!


    Yesterday when we came to see you guys altea was completely empty, the only place that was packed was AlteArte!

    Thanx for being so lovely and taking in people like me and Pepa 😉

    • Warner, I will gladly take in people like you and Pepa any day! You guys make my day whenever you come visit! And, yes, it’s pathetic that we’re already this tired and the season hasn’t even started yet. Any words of advice you can share, you wise man, you of how to survive the Summer? 🙂

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