Friday, October 29, 2010

Question Five of Five Questions Has Five Answers!

Happy Friday!  Woooooohhoooooooooo! Did you know I love Fridays? Oh I sure do. It's been another busy week, but I'm super excited for the Halloween festivities coming up.  Sunday (I think) is trick-or-treat day, and I'm OFF all day!  Today is Chloe's class Halloween party, and I am a room mommy, pleased to help and be a part of her party. Oh yipes! That means I need to get all my stuff done before we leave for school in (gasp!) just over two hours. I have my sweats on and laundry/dishes/bleating goat waiting for me! If you're not my facebook friend, disregard the goat comment.  Anyway, I better type fast!!!!!!  Ok blah blah here we go. I have a party to get to, guys!

1. If you could be a fly on any wall, which would you choose?
Hmm. I'm a firm believer in the whole "ignorance is bliss" concept. I don't think I'd WANT to know what all goes on in government. I think it would be more information than my nervous system could handle. And other than government or business, there isn't anything or anyone that I feel I need to spy on. Call me crazy. Maybe it would be fun to be a fly on the wall in Chloe's classroom. I'd like to observe her for a whole day without her knowing I'm there, just so I can see how she interacts in the real world.

2. Do you budget your Christmas shopping or just get it done without budgeting?
I usually have money set back, a list of who I need to shop for, and a rough estimate of what I plan to spend on those people. I stick to it with extended family (sometimes shorting them if I find something I just have to get Chloe he he). When it comes to Chloe, though, I am never done. I LOVE shopping for her. I usually spend my budget on her, then spend all my "free spending" money for the month on her as well. I just LOVE Christmas, and I LOVE shopping, so a one-day 500.00 limit for the family just doesn't cut it.

3. What is the craziest fad diet you have ever done?
The ONLY fad diet I did was Suzanne Sommers variation of Atkins. I lost six pounds the first week, and by Wednesday of the second week I had lost ten. I loved it. Looked great. But on that Wednesday my carb deprivation got the best of me. I made a pot of spaghetti like you've never seen and I DEVOURED it. To me that diet was like substituting an alcoholic's alcohol for crack. It didn't work. And I ate more horribly than I ever have. That's where I learned to love real butter. I was eating bacon and buttered green beans in portions that should've put me into cardiac arrest! Crazy.

4. Is there a TV show that you have seen every episode/season of?
Friends, mostly because it's still on all the time. Grey's Anatomy. ER. And please don't laugh at me....Teen Mom. Gah! Did I just admit that? Shhhh. It's now our little world-wide secret.

5. What one song always pulls at your heart?
Just one??? I can't pick just one. So I will tell you my top five, all for different reasons. I have to mention runners up, "How Can I Help You (to Say Goodbye)" by Patty Loveless and "Who's that Man" by Toby Keith. Both came along at a difficult time in my childhood and still bring back haunting memories.

5. "Chances Are" by Bob Seger (preferrably with Martina McBride, as seen on Hope Floats)
This song takes me instantly back to summer 1998. Hope Floats had just come to theaters (I saw it three times I think, and had the soundtrack). That summer I fell hard for, dated, and was heart-broken by the first boy to really break my heart. It reminds me of all the stages of that summer, good and bad, and always pulls at my heart just a little.

4. "I Don't Love You Anymore" by Travis Tritt.
This song has always been heartbreaking to me, even when I was a little girl. It's a very powerful love/loss song that somehow has always really got to me. "I can't hide the way I feel about you, anymore. I can't hold the hurt inside keep the pain out of my eyes anymore..." It's just a great song, lyrically and musically.

3. "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" by Alan Jackson.
I've talked about this one several times. It's such a powerful song with such a striking melody. It always brings up a lot of feelings in regard to 9/11 and mortality in general. It still gives me chills every time.

2. "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman
"She spins and she sways to whatever song plays, without a care in the world. And I'm sitting here wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders..." that first line was me and Chloe (NOT "Chloe and I" because I'm using the objective form, not subjective for the grammar haters who think they know grammar but don't)  for quite some time, and this song always brought me to tears. It's more about a dad watching his daughter grow, but I just related to it so much. It's sound is haunting, and beautiful at the same time. I love it.

1. "Then" by Brad Paisley
It's "our" song. The first time I heard it on the radio I text Bryan and asked if he'd heard it. We both agreed it was us. We had just started seeing each other, but we knew. "...and three weeks later in the front porch light, taking 45 minutes to kiss goodnight; I hadn't told you yet, but I thought I loved you then. Now you're my whole life, now you're my whole world, I just can't believe the way I feel about you [girl]. Like a river meets the sea, stronger than it's ever been, we've come so far since that day, and I thought I loved you then..." I love it. It pulls at my heart in a really good way, and makes me feel all warm and happy :)

You should've known if I was asked about music I'd be writing a book ;)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Real in the Night Emotion.

I turned on my digital photo frame last night for the first time in a couple of months. Chloe was watching the pictures roll by of Pensacola, Christmas, and Easter among others. We laughed at how different she looked almost a year and a half ago, and how much her hair changes her appearance.

We were talking about a Christmas present she was opening when the photo changed. It was a picture I snapped of her sitting at the edge of the pond at Bolivar park, watching the ducks. It wasn't posed, I just thought she looked cute sitting there gazing out at the water.

"What's that picture doing on here?" she asked.

"I took it of you at the park, and I liked it," I replied.

"But, Mom, it's not a real in-da-night emotion!"

"Say what?" I asked, trying not to laugh.

"It's not a real in-da-night emotion picture. You know?" she asked, using her explanation gestures.

"A real what?"

"A real in-da-night emotion. You know, a picture of something really important, like Christmas." I accepted what she said although I still wasn't sure what word phrase she was trying to connect. As we looked at the pictures, I realized "real in the night emotion" ones are ones of holidays and special occasions, and are most always posed. FYI.

Her vocabulary and sentence structure are so good these days, I just have to hang on to anything cute or funny that she says, because her toddler logic is becoming a thing of the past. Sometimes I miss fiders (not spiders) and mlilk (not milk), although I'm very proud of her. My baby is growing up.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Apron Strings: More Food

This was my first full weekend of work in three weeks. It was good to be back on all weekend, but WOW Saturdays are becoming a waste of time if you want my honest opinion. I drive 40 minutes each way, am inside Applebees for 9-11 hours, and when it's deathly slow (as it has been) I come home almost empty-handed. Gr!  But Sundays almost always pay off (and then some), so I can't whine.

Anyway. You're ready for some more juicy insider information aren't you ;)  Here goes.

Food. It's the whole reason you eat out, right? Maybe you don't want to cook, or maybe there's something specific you crave that only your favorite restaurant can give you. Maybe it's just the whole experience, but either way, the food is the star of the show!  That is one area I don't have a lot of control over, and I'm about to tell you about it!

Things you might not know:

I don't cook your food.
A server will order your steak right 99.9% of the time. It's habit. We don't forget. If your steak is not cooked to your liking, it's because the person cooking it misjudged (or doesn't know how to cook steak). I will attempt to fix it the best I can, and I'll tell the manager. I know it makes you angry, because it makes ME angry. When I serve and when I eat out. If you order a steak, you want it right the first time. I get it. I sympathize. When I say I'm sorry, I TRULY am. Please don't walk out and leave no tip, or leave a few pennies to "punish" us for your horrible steak. The guy who cooked it still gets paid the same, and I just lost a good part of my Saturday night wage.

When it comes to food quality, you can pretty much figure out where the infraction occurred. Is the temperatuer wrong? Cook. Is the pasta mushy? Kitchen. Did you ask for ranch and got Caesar? Server. Is there a hair INSIDE your food? Cook. Is there a hair on top of your food (that matches that of YOUR server?) Server. Is there a fly in your salad with dressing on it? Kitchen. No one MEANS to screw up your food, but try to understand that it's not always under my control, so there's no use punishing me for it. Speak to the manager. He or she can make it more right than I can.

Servers screw up.
Aside from the steak screw ups now and then, the cooks almost ALWAYS cook and prepare the food EXACTLY how they are told. They read the screen and they do a really good job of sending your food out correctly. Once in a while they'll overlook something, but not often.

It is your server's responsibility to communicate your order correctly to the kitchen. You want your food a certain way, and we are supposed to be sure you get it. I won't lie, when you ask for thirteen modifications to a plate it DOES irritate me, but I do my best to get it all right. However, the more modifications YOU make, the more chances WE have to screw it up. Just saying.

Anyway, if you asked for no mayo, or you wanted extra chicken and it's not there, don't let your server pull the "the kitchen must have sent it out wrong" bit on you. Chances are she didn't enter it into the computer.

Some servers are honest.
If I made a mistake, I'm going to tell you. I might not think it's my fault (because sometimes people think they said something they didn't say), but I'm going to tell you. I'm so sorry, I didn't get your appetizer entered. I overlooked that modification. I misread my writing. I misunderstood what you said. I got busy and forgot your drink. I don't like doing it, but I do. And most good servers will. We aren't perfect, we do make mistakes, and we don't mean to neglect you (unless you're being an unruly bitch).

So next time your food is awful, think about WHY it is bad. Remember that your server only orders and serves your food, and chewing her out only hurts her feelings (or pisses her off). Rate your server on her service, and if the food isn't worth paying for, talk to a manager about that. Have a great week, and eat something yummy :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Better Late Than Never

I thought I was going to sneak by without my normal "WOOOOO It's FRIDAY" blog this week, but I was wrong. On my Facebook wall late Friday night was a comment asking where my five questions were!  I was away from the computer (GASP!) Thursday AND Friday, so my online communication is falling behind. You didn't even notice, you say? Gr.

Anyway. Here it is. Five Question Friday Sunday.

1. Who is the better cook, you or your spouse?

First things first. I have not a spouse. Per say. Anyway, that aside, I do most of the cooking. I wouldn't say I'm a GREAT cook, but I do alright keeping the bellies full around here. I also take great pride in my cookie baking abilities. I make most of the meals, and wouldn't turn the duties over to Mr. Mr. even if I were given the choice. When it comes to taters, though, my man whips me in that area ;)  I'd prefer his mashed or fried potatoes any day. Part of that might be that everything tastes better when you don't have to cook it yourself, but most of it is the fact that he has mad tater cookin' skills :)

2. How often do you talk to your mom?
I'm not a phone talker. I was, once upon a time, but when the good ol' SMS message came onto the scene, I clammed up. Therefore, while I once talked to my mom every day, I now only talk to her when I'm driving or have something too long to text. We do, however, text daily. What? My mom texts? Heck yeah she does. It was rough at first, when she first realized she could communicate her every thought to me...immediately. I will never forget last year when I was snuggling into bed for the night. My phone was buzzing every 5 to 7 minutes. I finally got out of my warm covers and saw the eight Christmas Story quotes from my mama. :) As if I don't know it word for word anyway. But she's leveled out now and I am glad we can send quick messages daily.

3. Are you adventurous in the kitchen or stick to the recipe?
The recipe is my best friend. I even use the recipes I know by heart. Just to be sure. Once in a while I will make something of my own creation that has no recipe (like a few weeks ago when we were hungry and didn't have much to choose from and I made hamburger, egg noodles, and cream of mushroom soup [and used the exact soup recipe on the can ;)]), but mostly I stick to it.  I've never been much of an adventurer.

4. Is your second toe longer than your big toe?
Nope. My dad's big old toe cloned itself and stuck right to my foot, where it reigns supreme over all the other toes =/

5. Do you dress up for Halloween? (Bonus question: What will you be this year?)
I don't. Haven't since 6th grade (Lindsey and I skipped the Halloween dance to trick-or-treat, then kicked ourselves for choosing candy over boys). Except for Halloween 2008.  I dressed as a former, er, boss. What's weird is that for the costume I needed a blonde wig and four pairs of socks ;) I looked like a cross-dresser in kahki pants...and EVERYONE knew EXACTLY who I was. Mouths dropped at my audacity. Laughs were stifled when I stopped at the church party to see my mom. Oh yes, it was a grand Halloween. If you're friends with the "old" me on facebook, you can see the pics there. Still makes me smile.

Have a good night. See you tomorrow for Apron Strings.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apron Strings: The Big Top

I'm not talking about the circus, here, although sometimes that's just how it feels.  Today I'm talking about big tops. Parties. Anything that requires us to scooch tables together. Yeah, I said scooch :)  If there are more than eight of you, this applies to you!

For the most part, a big top is much like any other table. Usually they are patient because they are not in a hurry, and they understand the added stress they put on a server who is used to dealing with 2-5 guests at a time. However, there are some things you need to consider when you go out to eat with a large party.

Things You NEED to know:

You're not my only table.
When you came in the door, the hostess decided to seat you in my section because that's where there was room. I may already have four other tables seated, or I may have a table who sat down right before you. When I see you coming, I know I need larger chunks of time for you. So I'm probably going to try to settle my other tables first. Please be patient. I'm not avoiding you, I just want to make sure my other table isn't ready to pay and has to wait while I fill twelve drink orders.

There's a REASON places place a mandatory gratutiy on large parties.
I always thought that was stupid. I thought you shouldn't be forced to tip. Now I understand why, and wish our Applebee's did that! We have to work harder, because instead of stacking our guests (getting drinks for table 4, then stopping at 6 to take an order, checking on 7 on our way to place the order, placing the order, grabbing the extra ranch for 7, dropping it off with 4's drinks, etc), we have to get twelve drinks at once, deliver them, and then take twelve orders, etc. Sometimes our other tables suffer, affecting our tip. Sometimes no matter how hard we try, or how fast we are, other things affect the situation and you don't get the perfect service you'd expect if you were only two people instead of twelve. When we put that much time and effort into a table, unless we were complete bitches to you, we deserve a decent tip. You were, after all, occupying our section for two hours and keeping us from having other guests.

Big groups are often loud and chatty. Even at my loudest, I usually only get the attention of a few. If you're one of the few, shut your friends up and tell them to get the show on the road ;) OK that was harsh. Just help me out. When you say you're ready to order, don't make me stand there while four of your finish a conversation. Order your food, preferrably in the order you chose drinks. That way I don't forget anyone. And when I return, be paying attention. That way if you need anything I can get it. Nothing irritates me more than for Chatty Cathy to be cackling while I am serving her food, only to be flagging me down once her gums stop flappin' because she needs extra sauce.

Don't be difficult.
You usually order a 2/20 with your friend Gretchen. You get spinach dip and Fiesta Lime Chicken, but you hate pico, and you want mashed potatoes instead of mexi-rice (people actually do this). She likes the steak medium well, wants steamed potatoes, and a salad instead of veggies with no cucumber and ranch dressing. Ok. So I have five modifications to make on your order. Multiply by 6, assuming there are twelve people. That makes THIRTY extra things I have to enter, most of which require deleting something and adding another, which makes sixty computer entries in addition to all your food. You're asking for trouble! If you can find something that you don't have to modify, please do so. It makes it easier for everyone. Also, please try not to send me to the kitchen twelve separate times for ranch. Think about what you want and need, and communicate that to me from the beginning. Then you don't have to wait, and I don't have to run my legs off. Group night is not the night to be picky, I'm just sayin'.

Stop moving!
When I come to take your drink order, I write everything in order. So if you have a peach tea (2.69) and you trade places with someone who has a water (0.00) then I will write your food on her drink and vice versa. It's just easier on me if you stay where you are, and while we're talking about that, it would be GREAT if you'd sit by the person you want to split a 2/20 with, or the people who will also be on your check.

You don't want separate tickets. You really don't.
You split a 2/20 with someone across the table. I have to find you both in the computer, split your ticket, and then print them and cash them separately. I had a table of 13 yesterday, four of them had 2/20, and everyone wanted her own check. Five paid with credit cards, eight with cash. The girl at the end was saying, "If y'all have cash, use it! It's way faster than payin' with ya' card!" She lied. It's way faster for me to swipe your card and hand you back your card and receipt, than to take eight 20.00 bills and make change for each one (poor Jaime had to make change for me four times during this transaction yesterday!), then return them to the correct guests.

If you can pay in groups or as one big group, I will love you forever.

Don't forget to tip!
You all pay separately, so your checks are around 12.00 each. You leave me a buck and maybe some change, so I end up with 12.00, maybe 13.00, when the entire bill was 144.00. An average tip (15%) would be 21.60 (what I would get if you were required to add that gratuity on), and a gracious tip would be 28.80. See how that works out? If one person got a bill for 144.00, they would leave a more fair tip than twelve people who had small bills. I did bring you at least 24 drinks, I modified all your food (even though now you know I didn't do it happily he he), I brought her extra ranch, then turned around and got him honey mustard, because he didn't like the southern bbq afterall, oh, and I split all your checks correctly. I only make 3.63 an hour, no matter how hard I work. It would be nice to be rewarded for my efforts :)

There ya have it. The gruesome truth on big tops :)

Fly on the wall moment:
I was serving a large group of, er, flamboyant women on Sunday. As I walked by the table, I heard one woman say, "..and jus' pray, that will hep you through anything." The woman next to her immediately interjected, "Yeah. Jesus is yo bess frien' y'all."   :)  Ohhhhhhh Applebees. How I love the characters you bring me :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Step 1: Admit You Have a Problem

Hi, my name is Andrea and I have a problem. With food. Actually I DON'T have a problem with food, and that's my real problem.

Ok, I'm not one of those wackos who eats inedible items or has food fettishes (is fettishes a word? and no offense, btw if you are, indeed, one of those 'wackos' ;)

Anyway. I love food. I love to eat. I look forward to dinner. Eating out is a hobby I indulge myself in, not something I do to nourish my body. I reward myself with food. I abuse it when I had a bad day (much like many adults would pour themselves a stiff drink). I use it for socialization (let's do lunch!) What's worse is I'm picky, and quite frankly the things I love are allllllll bad news.

For instance.

I love real butter. I love it on bread, on toast, in my (almost like clouds from heaven) mashed potatoes, in green beans, on muffins, in cookies, I love it here or there, I love it anywhere! I even fry fried potatoes in it. I KNOW! Stop judging me.

I love whole milk. To drink. In those potatoes I told you about. When I cook. For breakfast. In my cereal. I used to drink 2% but when Chloe started cow's milk and they recommended whole for her, I saw no use in buying two gallons, so I joined her in the all fatty chlostrum goodness (is it bad that doesn't gross me out??).

Chocolate is one of my best friends.

Whole wheat what????? I want white bread (if you know me AT ALL you already know my bread obsession) or sourdough, or something not brown. I like bread with every meal. I like crackers (in whole milk oh man I love that!), I like pasta (not the brown kind). I want toast for breakfast and grilled cheese for lunch (with real butter of course) and rolls with my dinner. Then I want crackers and milk while I watch my shows. I. Love. Carbs.

Sweet tea is my other best friend (don't tell chocolate). And I don't care what anyone says, Splenda DOES NOT taste like SUGAR! Holy nasty substitute, Batman! I'll drink unsweet tea when I'm out, but at home I want it sweet. With sugar. The kind from cane. White and grainy and FULL of calories. I also like Coke, though we've become more distant since I don't sit at a desk all day. And my milk.

Red meat. Bacon. Sausage. Bologna (yep I said it). I eat my fair share of chicken and the healthier parts of Senor Porky, but I'd rather have hamburger or steak any day.

All those things they tell us to modify so we can still have the things we love are things I hold onto with every fiber (ewww not that kind of fiber) of my being! Just getting me to switch to margarine would be a battle like no other. They say have spaghetti, but go whole wheat. NO! I'd rather just eat something else altogether. Use splenda? You already know how I feel about that. Why does everything YUMMY have to be so bad?

I look at my expanding waistline and realize I have to do something. It's CLEARLY my eating habits that keep me from being my slimmest self. But I think I'm going to need more than twelve steps to get in gear.  I did well today. I had grapes for breakfast, and juice. I had half a grilled cheese (the bad kind...oh and Chloe's crust) with a salad (lettuce and croutons and lite dressing only) rather than Doritos for lunch, and frozen grapes for a snack. Now I am dreaming of spaghetti, ready to eat my way through anything refined, and waiting for dinner time HOPING I can make a wise choice and call this day a success. And thinking if I have to eat one more motherlicking grape to keep myself out of the fridge I'm going to explode...

But then I have to get up tomorrow and do it again. And I don't want to. It's like making me go to the dentist two days in a row. This is more than willpower, friends. This is a severe disease, nay, love affair (ok that's a little far) that calls for drastic measures =/ Wish me luck.

P.S. if you're picturing me now as Fat Bastard from Austin Powers, please know that I am hungry. I am carb-deprived, and it's my crazed hunger talking, not "normal" me. Oh, and I am still in the "normal" range on my Wii Fit, so skinny me can still be saved =)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apron Strings: Ordering Food

Happy Monday, friends! I have enjoyed my weekend with family so very much! I didn't work at all this weekend, but don't you worry. I have plenty of material to keep my Monday mini blog going!  With no further ado, let's get to the meat. Literally. Today we're talking about food content (not quality).

So we are going to assume that it's not your birthday, and you didn't order a bar drink. Or, if you ordered a bar drink, it got to you in a timely fashion and you still love me :) Now it's time for the good stuff. It's time to order your food.

There's a common misconception that if you order an appetizer your food will take longer. That may be true by a minute to five minutes, but no longer. Those computers we use are pretty smart :) They send your appetizer back to the kitchen, then give it about five minutes to get cooked before they send your food back. Or, if the kitchen finishes your appetizer before that time, the food will automatically go back. Then you have a yummy snack to occupy you while you wait.

2 for 20
You all love it. You get to split an appetizer and you each get an entree. It's a heckuva deal.

What you don't know:
*Check the prices!
If you're really into getting more for your money, check the prices on the individual plates. A chicken basket is under 9.00. A steak is 12ish. So if you both get steak, you're getting a much better deal for your same 20.00 bill.  Especially check the appetizers. I cringe when guests do a two for twenty and order queso blanco as the appetizer. It's two bucks, guys. TWO dollars! Spinach dip is somewhere around seven, and boneless wings are almost nine. So why not go all out? It's all the same price for you.

*I'm going to offer you upgrades.
You can get a bigger steak for 2.00, you can load your potatoes for a little over a dollar. You can substitute onion rings for a dollar. You can 86(get rid of) that ugly broccoli tree and substitute a house salad (which at Applebees is on a full-size plate) for a dollar. You can add sauteed mushrooms or shrimp and parmesean to the top of your steak.  The list goes on. A lot of people get aggravated, thinking I am just trying to get them to spend more money. But the truth is, any or all of these things are good additions to your meal, and a lot of people don't know we have them. So don't get mad at me. I'm just doing my job. All you have to do is say no, thanks.

You've had a lovely meal and now it's time to decide if you want dessert.

Things you don't know:
*Don't take all day to decide.
You either want it or you don't. If you tell me "maybe," then I'm not bringing your check until I know for sure, because it will have to be modified if you order. If you don't want dessert, that's fine, I don't care, but don't string me along, making me check back with you four times (it really happens). Either yes or no.

*All desserts are not created equal.
Any warm dessert is going to take a lot longer than a cold dessert. And remember, a shake or a specialty drink of any kind comes from the bar, so I have no control over that. An ice cream sundae or any of the Applebees "shooters" are made by your server, so they're sure to be timely, and they're always good :)

*I need to know how many plates/spoons.
If you order the triple chocolate meltdown, which is large enough to share, don't just expect me to bring you two spoons. Because, what if it was just for you? Wouldn't you feel offended if I assumed there was no way only YOU were eating that, and brought you two spoons? I have to look ahead to every possible scenario of making you angry. So if you want two spoons, please ask. THEN if I forget you can scold me.

There is much much more to tell you about food. We need to talk about food quality and modifications, but I think I'll save those for another day.  Have a good Monday :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lived-in, Not Perfect

It's finally Friday!  Wahooo!  Mini-Me is spending the weekend with us, and is excited she gets to go on "date night" with us. I'm excited, too. Fun will be had!  Other than that, just a bunch of boring "grown-up" stuff going on. Stuff I REFUSE to think about over the weekend.  That being said....

It is Friday, so that means FIVE QUESTIONS! Hooray!  Here we go.

1. What do you listen to while driving?

That alllllllll depends on the weather, and my mood. Cool cloudy days usually call for John Mayer. Any time is a good time for Jamey Johnson. Sometimes I listen to country radio. On my way to work I listen to GenX (best radio station ever ever ever), but you just never know about me.

2. What is your least favorite thing about Fall?
I think my least favorite thing about fall is Indian summer. Once I get a whiff of that crisp fall air, and my skin feels the cool breeze blow, I'm all in. When the temp climbs back up to 85 it makes me cringe. High of 70, please.

3. What does your dream house look like, inside and out?
I used to have realy specific dreams about a house. I longed for the day I would have a house just how I wanted it. As I have aged (ugh) I've come to realize that homes are like people. It's what's on the inside that counts (and I ain't talkin' about your furniture, neither!) the most. However, if money were no issue, and I were building my own home, it would be quaint. I don't want more space than I need. It'd have a basement for stormy weather and storing Christmas ornaments. It would have spacious bedrooms, but not too spacious, and comfy furniture. It would have a nice little front porch. Oh and I'd have my own bathroom. With a big ol' tub. It would be cute, not fancy. Lived in, not perfect.

4. Would you ever own a minivan?
If I had two or three kids I sure would. I think they're great for families and children. However, since I don't need one, I'd prefer driving a car. Get what I'm saying? If I had the need for a mini-van, yes I would drive one. But in my current familial situation, no, I would not buy one. Because I only have one child, therefore every now and then I can continue to live in the fantasy world where I am forever 21 with a sporty car (nevermind that carseat back there...or the third and fourth doors...adjust the mirror and they disappear).

5. Do you wash new clothes before wearing them?
I do.  I can't stand the smell of new clothes. Jeans, maybe not, but anything else new I always wash first.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Accepting the Unexpected (I'm Working on It)

The phone rang. I answered it, already knowing it was Robin, already expecting an extensive chat. I answered.
"Hello?" (Why do we still say hello as a question when we almost always know who we're talking to?)
"Hey! What are you doing?" she asked. She sounded bubbly. She never sounds bubbly.
"Uh, nothing," I replied.
"Want to go to Sedalia with me?" she asked.
"I can't." I replied.
"Yes you can. You just said you were doing nothing."
"Yeah, but. I just, I can't. I have Chloe here, and.."
"So. Take her to Kindra, or bring her along. What else do you have to do?" she asked. She never takes no for an answer ;)
"Ok, well let me call and find out. I'll call you back."
I sat on my bed and thought. Eating out sounded good, and we had plenty to talk about. Mom was home, so I called her, first, and she was happy to watch Chloe while we went to Sedalia. I called Robin back and told her I would go.  On the way there, she asked why I'd said no.

"I don't know," I said. "I guess it's just my first instinct. It wasn't on my calendar, and I hadn't planned to be gone, so I said no."
"I'm going to have to break you of that," she said, smiling. And she did her best to work on me.

I've always been a planner. Not a risk-taker. Not one to do anything I haven't thought about or don't already know the outcome to. I like structure in a chaotic way. I'll buy something on impulse once in a while, or get a wild hair to go somewhere or do something off-schedule, but for the most part I am a planner.

I've always been annoyed by people who "plan" something with you on Monday, only to be occupied when your Friday date comes. "I didn't know we made set plans," they'll argue. But to me, if I even entertain the idea, and commit to doing it, I'm putting it on my calendar. In ink.

Robin taught me to write in pencil, in both good ways and bad. Sometimes spontaneity is disappointing, like when plans are broken, or when your event is canceled and you're already on your way. And for me, it's never easy, but she opened me up to the idea of it. She paved the way for me to begin my slow, steady metamorphis into a more spontaneous person. And then all of a sudden, I fell in love with someone who has never used a calendar. He likes to go where the wind blows, and he likes for me to tag along.

The first month or two we lived together I was anxious and spastic all the time. I'd try to get him to confirm what we were doing Friday night on Tuesday, or he'd come home from doing farm work and want to run to Bolivar. I had shows. I had dinner laid out. I had a plan for the evening, and he was ruining it! Even though his new plan was much more fun and relaxing, it was very hard for me to learn to be spontaneous.

I've come a long way. I'm much better at going with the flow and enjoying spontaneous outings than I once was. I still like to know what's going on ahead of time, but I'm not as "set in stone" as I once was. I'm proud of myself.

I still have my setbacks, like last Friday evening when we were leaving the house and I was shouting to Bryan as I was pulling my boots on, "I can not leave this house and not have any idea what we're doing!" We went out to eat, and we drove around, and we didn't do anything earth-shattering, so why is it so hard for me to relax and accept the unexpected? (Ok, probably because I've been slammed in the face with some pretty cruddy "unexpecteds," but besides that...)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Apron Strings: Birthdays and Bar Drinks

I've decided to start a new mini-series of posts called "Apron Strings." I've seen the other side of food-service now, and WOW I had no idea what I was missing! I'd like to share my thoughts (and gripes) with you. Hopefully you'll laugh, feel enlightened, or roll your eyes, if not all three :)

Todays topics are birthdays and bar drinks. Here we go.

You've seen it before. Maybe you've done it. A birthday at a restaurant. The serving staff comes hollering from the kitchen, announces the birthday, sings, and presents a mini dessert. You think it's funny to embarrass the birthday boy or girl, or maybe you just want to score a free dessert. Maybe it's not their birthday at all. It's not like we check ID.

What you don't know:
*It's a pain in the ass!
 It's not so bad on a Tuesday afternoon, but on a Saturday night it's not so easy to execute. You see, when you tell us it's a birthday, we have to go get the dessert, and beg the other servers to STOP what they are doing (like running their food, getting drinks, greeting tables, taking Billy Bob four more ranch dressings, etc.) and make a ruckus. If I have four tables who want my attention, I don't like to leave them hanging while I wait for the servers to gather and do a birthday presentation. Sorry. =/

*It's not for everyone.
I love doing birthdays for little kids. That baby sundae is just their size, and they see that bright red cherry and beam. They feel like a little celebrity! They clap and laugh and it's toooo cute. I also don't mind participating in a birthday celebration for a 90 year old woman (they usually come in on Saturday at 2:15 when we're not busy), or maybe a 21st or 16th. What's NOT cool is doing it for Dad's 42nd or Stella's 61st. It's also not cool to embarrass a kid who would rather be anywhere but Applebees with her parents.

*We KNOW when it's not your birthday.
Ok, not always, but we get a pretty good idea. We over hear you joking about it, then watch you get up the nerve to ask. Also, we don't buy the "I totally forgot it was her birthday, too" line we get two minutes after you see us do someone ELSE's birthday. Even if it IS your birthday, if we just did one, it just isn't the same the second time. Everyone is tired of hearing it while they're trying to eat, and we have other things to do. If you didn't think of it first, let it go.

*We'll give you a dessert.
Well I don't know if WE will, but I will. If you tell me it's her birthday, but she really gets embarrassed, or that she hates being singled out, I'll bring you that sundae and wish you a  happy birthday all by myself, quietly. :)

Bar Drinks
Ohhhh the bar drink. You want a bottled beer, or even a draft? You probably won't have to wait for it. But you want a Jamaica Freeze or a Mudslide? Sit tight, friend.

What you don't know:
*The bartender makes all the alcoholic and specialty drinks for the building.
That means he might have four servers waiting for drinks before you. And he's only one guy. I can't make him move any faster, and I have no control over him. You and I both have to wait patiently for your turn to have your drink.

*No one likes making mudslides.
They're delicious. I love them, but bartenders far and wide dislike making them. Ok maybe not dislike making them, but would rather make you ANYTHING else. I'm not telling you not to order it. I'm just asking you to be patient. It's a hand-made milkshake basically, and it's not easy.

*Sometimes he (or she) is a jerk.
We all have our interpersonal relationships at work. Some are better than others. So if Barguy is pissed off at me that day (for whatever reason), he might take his sweet time on YOUR drink. He might take care of all his guests first, then wipe down the bar, then straighten the glasses, THEN start on your drink. Because he knows you'll get mad at ME, not him. He knows his pay/tip/etc. won't be affected. I have even had managers make your drinks because I felt your wait was excessive and the barguy was "too busy" to do it. But please, if you wait an eternity for your bar drink, don't get mad at me!

*Easy on the Margaritas.
If you want to have a margarita, be my guest. But if you plan to drink three margaritas, please sit in the bar section. Drinking is expected there. When you get loud and giggly, you irritate the people arround you, the families with small children, the old people, and the non-drinkers who happen to be MY guests also. If they're irritated and trying to hurry, they're more likely to get pissy with moi. So if you are getting tipsy at my table, you're affecting my tip. If you must sit at a regular table and drink three margaritas, please be gracious with your tip ;)

Have a good week :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Wear Pink Because I Ran Away

I just entered Chrissy's giveaway and realized I have never ever ever ever ever talked about the big C on here. Yeah. Cancer. If you know me, you know it's been a little too close to home, and it's something I just don't talk about. With it being breast cancer awareness month, though, and with so many supportive readers lately (thanks, btw, for the e-mails and comments), I feel it's finally time.

In May 2008 I already had more on my plate than I felt emotionally able to handle. I was being bullied and harassed at work and I was living daily in the tribulation period of my failing marriage. I felt like I was scraping myself off my bed every morning and smooshing myself into a replica of "me" and going about my day. I was sure things couldn't get worse. (Isn't it ironic how just when you think that, the Universe shows you just how wrong you are?)

I don't even remember now when my mom told me, or how she told me. All I know is that she went to the doctor and ended up having a biopsy. I think I knew about all that at the time, but I can not remember. she kept it from me at first, hoping she wouldn't have to worry me. What I do remember is the day the secretary came and got me out of class. She told me that my mom and Jill were outside, that they were going to Dr. Allcorn's office to get the results of the biopsy, and that they wanted me to go.  "Don't worry, we'll cover this," she said. I remember her face was sympathetic, and it was then I realized something might really be wrong (I'd convinced myself it was nothing, and that everyone was being over-dramatic. It's called denial).

We went to the doctor and he said something about metastatic and malignant. When the nurse was talking to my mom, she stood next to me. I looked over her arm. The chart said stage 3. The doctor didn't really say much, except that he wanted her to go to a specialist, blah blah blah and he recommended surgery immediately. They discussed where she should go (she had files at St. John's in Springfield from the biopsy, he recommended Columbia), and she finally made an appointment in Springfield.

After that day, I looked up her cancer type online. I was afraid she was going to die. I FELT like she was going to die, and I didn't have it in me to deal with that. People started asking me how I was doing, and I said fine. I wasn't sick, she was. The truth is, her cancer was eating at me as much as it was eating at her.

I went with her to meet with the cancer lady who tells you how awful the chemo and radiation will be, where to get a wig, and what you can't have or do or eat when you're going through it all. I never realized until that moment just what it means to be a cancer patient.

I soon became angry. I was mad at my mom first. She'd known about the lump for months, but because her *bad words* school doesn't offer insurance to non-certified staff (nevermind she's worked there TWENTY YEARS), and because she had her gallbladder taken out the fall before, she didn't go to the doctor. She was too worried about her financial situation (medical bills, harassment from the hospital, etc). Eventually she was put on Medicaid. Do you know what that means? They think you're going to die. You're "disabled" and all that. I was scared.

Then I was mad at the school. They didn't cover her. It was their fault she hadn't gone sooner. She was going to die, and I was going to sue their asses off. I mean I was angry like you wouldn't believe.  Then I was angry at the world. People would say (when I did open up and say my mom had cancer), "Oh, breast cancer. She will beat that. It's no big deal anymore."  They obviously didn't know what it was like to have a mom who couldn't get out of bed for days, who couldn't eat, who couldn't feel her finger tips, who didn't have hair. A mom who was so emotionally and physically sick she wasn't even my mom.

I would love to say I was a good daughter, and that I helped her through it, but I didn't. I took her to a few appointments, and I went to her surgery, and when she asked me for something, I'd do it. But I didn't go check on her. I didn't clean her house. I didn't ask her about the cancer or the chemo. I didn't want to know. I needed my mom, but she was unavailable because CANCER was ruining her body and her life. People thought I was a selfish brat, and I was, I guess. I was in survival mode emotionally, and I was doing the bare minimum in order to raise my daughter effectively and keep myself above water.

I hated the cancer. And since it occupied my mom's body, she is the one who I avoided in the process of avoiding the cancer. My then husband, who lost his dad to cancer, never once asked me if I was ok. Never once offered to go with me to those doctor visits or to see her. He complained when I left Chloe with him to accompany my mom.

I finally found Robin, a friend who became my sister when I needed that, and my mom when I needed that. She grabbed me in the hallway one day and told me she'd heard about my mom. She wrapped her arms around me and cried. She'd lost her dad a few months before, and I knew she understood me. She opened her home to me and drank helped me through the entire time. We played games, we went to movies, we ate out, we cooked, we laughed. She could relate to every emotion I was going through, and she let me embrace the things I was feeling.  She was the one thread that kept me together during that time. I will love her until the day I die for what she was at that time. I don't need her now like I did then, but we'll always be close. If it wasn't for her, I don't know if I would've made it through that time.

By the fall, Mom was ready for surgery. Her tumor had shrunk immensely. Her surgery went well, and she started to be more like herself. Radiation was difficult, but for the most part I had my mom back. She was happier, she was healthier, and things were normal again.

My mom is a two year survivor now, and I'm confident that she beat cancer. No, she kicked its ass all by herself. I'm proud of her and I still hate that disease for what it did to my mom, what it did to me, and what it's done to so many people. It's the hardest thing I have gone through and I didn't even have it.

So here is to EVERYONE who has gone through it, helped someone through it, or run the other way like I did. It is real, it is devastating, and even though women beat it EVERY day, it's a vicious monster and we can't make enough noise, raise enough money, or raise enough awareness.

If you're a woman, be sure you do a BSE every month. If something is amiss, DON'T avoid your doctor out of fear. Eat right, work out, kick your bad habits, and talk to your doctor about the risks associated with birth control. And, read Chrissy's blog, then enter her giveaway if you like :)


I Want to be Minnie Mouse!

Well, if you're not my Facebook friend (then you should be, but that's another story), then you don't know that my Jamey Johnson concert was canceled. Boo hisss boo hooooo hoooo! I'm heartbroken. I was SO pumped about that, and now it's been snatched from me! But on a happier note I have some weekend time off coming up for birthday parties and family stuff, so that's something to look forward to I suppose.

Anyway, there is nothing exciting going on, except that I had a RECORD number of blog views yestetrday, oh yes I did! I've also added two new followers (yay newbies!), and feel like I am not just talking to myself every day after all :)

Anyway, it's time for five questions. Are you ready????

1. Did you have a pen pal when you were little (or now)? Where were/are they from?
Well, I paid my social studies teacher in 6th grade to give me an International pen-pal. Her name was Miriam Alacouchie (yep I still remember). She was from Denmark. I wrote her four letters, and she never ONCE wrote me back. That's my luck, though, remember?

I met a girl at Super Summer, though, my very first year (after 7th grade). Her name was Shawna Mason, and we clicked instantly. She lived in Springfield, and we wrote each other letters over most of our high school years. We lost touch eventually, but I enjoyed having someone to write to about all the (boring) things going on in my teenage life. I have looked for her on Facebook, but there are probably five million Shawna Masons =/

Oh don't forget my farm guy pen pal ;)

2. If you could do a different job for one day, what would it be?
It's funny Mama M mentioned this, because I just told Bryan when we went to Worlds of Fun how much fun I think it would be to be a character at an amusement park. I wouldn't want to be Cinderella, though, I'd want to be one whose head is covered, like Minnie Mouse, or Snoopy, or Tweety Bird. Wouldn't it be fun to have children (and adults) beg for your photo all day? To hug little kids and make their whole day/vacation/life by spending time with them? I think it would be super cool.

3. Do you remember your biggest fear from when you were little?
Probably whatever happened on Rescue 911 that week. Even into my young adult years I have been one of those people who suddenly becomes afraid of whatever new is brought to my attention. My main fear as a child was of our house burning down. I remember when I got so scared about it that I quit using my night light (YIPES the dark!) because I was afraid it would start a fire.

I worried about car accidents, abduction, boating accidents, carbon monoxide, and animal attacks, all thanks to Rescue 911. Then when I was older I was sure I had every disease or ailment that crossed the doors of County General ER (remember when George Clooney was the cutest doctor around? Move over McDreamy!). I even remember using the "tricks" the doctors talked about to check myself for a brain tumor more than once ;) See my worrying goes waaaaaay back!

4. What do you think is a waste of time? Why?
Ohhh I don't know. I'm pretty good at wasting time, so I could tell on myself and say Facebook, blogging, Grey's Anatomy re-runs (I've seen them ten times already!), and sleeping late. But all of those things bring me such joy, so are they really a waste of time?

Waiting in lines is the biggest waste of time I can think of. In traffic, at amusement parks, at Walmart, wherever. I hate hate hate waiting.

5. What is the oldest item you have in your closet?
Ooh I'm guilty here. I have a pair of Dr. Martens that are more than ten years old (those things are indestructable!), I also have my college sweatshirt, which is now more than ten years old. Other than that, just a few things from my early twenties.