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Deadlines: RIP Chef Damon

As a full time writer without a day job, I work my ass off. I spend the majority of my time here at this desk, banging out the word count to hit one tight deadline after another. I'm a bad friend, often failing to return phone calls or emails and losing touch with people because I was too busy.

Today, I woke up to the news that my old friend Chef Damon Bruner had been found dead in his San Francisco apartment. Details are still sketchy, but the police are apparently regarding it as a "suspicious death." He was 44.
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Damon was an amazing cook. His Thai squid salad is what I always said I would want as my death row meal. He used to rag me about my sorry-ass knife skills, and joked that everything I prepped for him during the fetish dinners at the Ivy Manor would have to be presented as "rustic." He was charming and funny and gifted. And I haven't seen or talked to him since 2009.

Because I was busy.

When he moved to San Francisco after his wife Edith's suicide, we made the usual promises to stay in touch, but my deadlines got in the way. Like they always do. I thoughtlessly assumed that it was no big deal. That a few years down the road, I'd be up in the Bay Area with a little time on my hands and I'd swing by the latest restaurant where he would be cooking. We could always catch up later. But now there is no more later, and I feel like shit about that.

You see, this is a lesson that I've failed to learn over and over again. That life is what happens while you're on deadline. That if you put everything and everyone on the back burner in order to pay the bills, then you miss out on the things that really matter.

So, even though I'm on the tightest deadline of my life right now, I'm gonna take the day off. Call my friends and listen to what they are up to, not be in a rush to hang up and get back to work. Spend some time with my Pop and Charles. Take my dog for a long walk. Take the time to cook a nice meal for myself and not just eat cereal for dinner at my desk. Be alive. 

Not later. Now.

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