Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tomorrow, I Will Have Two Teenagers

Little E turns 13 tomorrow! I cant believe how quickly my children have grown up. I know every parent says that, but until it happens to you, it is just so abstract.

Being in the bar business, there are a few days of the year that are about impossible to get off. New Years Eve is one of them. I've been really lucky, and work for good people, and haven't had to work on Ethan's birthday for the past several years. This year though, we had a couple servers quit at work and I was told I have to work the day shift that day. At least that was better than working at night, but I was not thrilled.

Another bartender, K, came to my rescue and is going to work my shift for me! Even though he has to work at a different bar that night. So, he will work 10:30- 7:00 at The Strip Club, then 7:30 until 5:00 a.m. at JP. I was so happy he would do this, I gave him $50, even though he told me it wasn't necessary.

When I told Little E this, (thinking he'd be thrilled to have me home on his birthday) he said, "You could have spent the $50 on a present". Yep. I have a teenager.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ghost of Christmas Past?

Christmas Eve, day shift, the strip club was deserted, quiet as a graveyard. There were 3 customers, one at the stage, one at a table, and one at the bar. The cook came to the bar and asked for a bottle of water and sat down next to a dancer. He opened the bottle, took a sip, and suddenly jumped up and ran back stage. The dancer and I wondered why he suddenly departed. Maybe he had remembered something in the kitchen that needed immediate attention?

Several minutes later, he returned, clearly agitated. He said he saw a man standing by the stage who started to go back stage. The cook went to stop him, and the man disappeared through a door. As he related the story, the man and the bar spoke up, "I saw him too, I thought he worked here." The customer at the bar got up and walked over to where the "man" had been standing. "He was right here, and then he turned and went back there", he said, pointing at the door that leads back stage.

I stood by where the customer had been sitting at the bar and when looking towards the spot, could see a shadow caused by Christmas greens. There are lots of moving lights and shadows. I suggested maybe the shadow looked like a person moving. The cook snapped back, "No, that dark shadow doesn't have any definition. This was a white guy in a hat!" The customer agreed.

I have worked there for eight years and heard many such stories over the years. Most of the stories involve a pale woman in a white dress, often crying. Once a dancer said there was a woman crying in the bathroom. She approached the woman to console her, and she disappeared. Lots of people have seen the woman in white, some have seen men, some have had lights tun off and on or items fall to the floor. I have never had any such experience. I don't know what to think. I have heard the building has quite a history. If it is going to be torn down soon, maybe Ghost Hunters will come investigate. I don't think I believe in the ghosts, but it is intriguing that many different people have similar perceptions, what they believe they see. At any rate, thinking about the past, and people who have been in the building before, make me feel interested in at least doing some research into the history of it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

That might Not Qualify For Per Diem Reimbursement

Before we opened Saturday night, I answered the phone. The caller told me he had a problem. He had been in Monday night and charged over $9,000 to his company credit card. Now he was worried that he might get in trouble at work when they find out. He wanted to know if he could transfer the charge to his personal card.

It is something he will have to discuss with the office manager during business hours, but I wonder, would it ever be a good idea to charge $9,000 of strip club services to your employer? Does it take five days of pondering it to decide that it was a bad idea? I wonder if he has a wife that might also be very upset about a $9,000 strip club bill on his personal card. Tough choices, and hopefully lesson learned.

Friday, December 12, 2008

'Tis The Season to get over a petty grudge against a rock group

Part One of this story is so I don't seem QUITE as crazy in Part Two. I hope.
Part One: A few years ago. Regular day at the strip club. A group of people came in and were super friendly and cheerful and were spending a lot of money. After waiting on them a few times, I learned they were with Pop Satirist, getting ready for his show the next day. I told them my kids love Pop Satirist and one guy said, "Oh, why don't you come to the show? Go to the ticket window tomorrow and I will have tickets and back stage passes waiting for you and your family." So, I told the fam and they were thrilled, but Husband was a little skeptical. We went to the ticket window, got the tickets and passes, enjoyed the show, met the musician and Husband and kids were quite thrilled.

Part Two: A few years ago. Regular day at the strip club. A group of people came in and were super friendly and cheerful and were spending a lot of money. After waiting on them a few times, I learned they were with Christmas Themed Rock Group, getting ready for the show the next day. I told them my kids love Christmas Themed Rock Group and one guy said, "Oh, why don't you come to the show? Go to the ticket window tomorrow and I will have tickets and back stage passes waiting for you and your family." So, I continued to wait on them all day, making sure to give them superior service. I even flashed my breasts for them. They really were fast drinkers who drank a lot. I ran non- stop all day waiting on them and they seemed really happy with my service. One of them gave me his cell phone number and told me to call once we were in our seats at the show and he would bring some stuff up to the kids. I kept confirming that they had my full name and such and were going to make sure there were tickets there. They totally assured me it was taken care of. I really didn't think much of the fact that they had gone through several bottles of Crown Royal, or even the fact that they kept getting warned by management to stop asking for things that were not on the menu. The snow outside wasn't enough for them and they wanted to light up more than a Christmas Tree.

When I brought my family to the ticket window, they did not have my name on a list. I called the cell phone number I had- no answer. I left a voice mail and we waited around, looking pretty pathetic. The show started and my little one started crying. It was a couple days before Christmas, and I hadn't bought my kids presents yet. But I had gotten their hopes up for this show, so I took my Christmas money and bought us four tickets to the show. The kids had a great time. Husband was pretty pissed, and I learned a Christmas lesson- to not be so naive and trusting.

I don't mean to whine about not getting a free handout. I know this was all my own fault. BUT I still feel a twinge of anger when Christmas Themed Rock Group comes to town. I felt a twinge of satisfaction last year when several of the road crew ended up in jail from their behavior in the strip club. I hope after venting a bit here, I will get over the last of my grudge. I know they bring a lot of joy to a lot of people and I was only dealing with a few of the hundred or so people they have on their tour. I think the story of the show I saw was about forgiveness. I am trying to learn that lesson and look back and laugh at my foolishness. And maybe I can enjoy that Miller Lite commercial again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Brain Freeze

After work last night, my back hurt, so I took some Tylenol PM. As I went to bed, my back pain lessened and luckily the diphenhydramine worked quickly, sending me off to sleep, bacause I started thinking, "shoot, I took some Xanax earlier, didn't I? I think I remember hearing it is dangerous to mix sleep meds and benzos, it may have Heath Ledger like consequences. But it was just some OTC sleep medicine, and I haven't had any alcohol." But before I could think it through or research it further, I fell asleep. I slept well, but was super groggy this morning.

When I woke up, Husband and Big E had already left, and little E was trying to rouse me to put his eye medicine in his eyes before he caught the bus. I groggily put on my glasses and squirted salve in his eyes, noticing his hair was sopping wet. "Little E, you need to dry your hair before you go." "OK, Mom, I will."

I laid back down and snuggled under the covers, but a minute later, Little E came running into my room saying "Mom, Mom, I just remembered I have to be at school early this morning to get filmed for the three words project! It is my turn at 8:05! Will you drive me? Hurry, hurry!"

So I jumped out of bed (8:00) without asking questions and raced to the car. On the way, I asked, "So what is this project?", noticing his hair is dripping onto his coat.
"All the seventh graders picked three words and then we get filmed for three seconds while we do something while we are saying the words."
"What three words are you saying?"
"I'm charged up!"
"Oh, and what are you doing while you say that?"
"Well, before the camera starts, I am going to rub my hair on a chair and then it will be standing up all over while I say 'I'm charged up!' I'm going to have to run to Mrs. W's room! Bye!"
(8:04; hair is now a popsicle) "Ok, well, good luck with that Sparky."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Fun With Surveys

Christmas in our household is probably a typical combination of joy and stress. We are not Christian, but try to emulate some of the Christian values that are supposed to be the hallmark of the season- compassion, giving, celebration of love and family. We don't do Santa Claus, but I do like to try to get my kids something special for Christmas. This year, I know they want an X Box 360. Also, they want cell phones and a membership to the health club. On the one hand, most of their friends have cell phones and gym memberships that are just given to them, not as part of a Christmas present or for any special occasion. On the other hand, I don't think I can afford all three, and through the course of a year, cell phones or a gym membership add up to be quite an expense, I would call present-worthy.

I decided to see what they are wanting the most by making a little written survey they could both fill out and then Husband and I could discuss what to get.

Please rank 1-3 what you would most like for Christmas:
__ X Box 360
__ Cell Phone
__ Gym Membership

Instead of getting comments, I got questions and complaints. "What Kind of X Box 360? I don't want the Arcade. You can't get the Arcade."; "What kind of cell phones? Would they have full keyboards? Unlimited texting?"; "Would you take us to the gym whenever we wanted to go?"; "Don't you think you should just give us cell phones and the gym membership anyway? Don't you care about our health and safety?"; "Who's room would the X Box go in? How many games would we get with it?"; "I don't want a cell phone like yours. Yours sucks."

So I simply changed the survey a little:

Please rank 1-4 what you would most like for Christmas:
__ X Box 360
__ Cell Phone
__ Gym Membership
__ Not only do I not want anything for Christmas, I would like to help
children less fortunate than myself and donate my gifts to charity.

So they decided they would be happy sharing an X Box 360. I am going to try to get them cell phones though, to put in their stockings. Sucky cell phones like mine, but I do care about their safety, and they really are good kids who are not too greedy most times and do appreciate what they have.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pieces of Flair

Message from Facebook-

Sorry, we don't have any "gangsta ass niggas" flair.

You know what that means...

If you create the "gangsta ass niggas" flair, it will be the one and only!

Umm, no, I don't think I should create any gangsta ass niggas flair. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.*

AAM has been a good friend to me. I always enjoy hanging out with her. She usually inspires me to do activities which really enrich my life. I joined her book club. She invites me to walk, to run, to spin class, to exercise. She has helped me to better my frugal living habits. Usually our get togethers include some form of exercise, and often financial mentoring. On occasion, however, I have influenced her to do things that are neither very healthy nor very frugal. On one such occasion, I performed the song "Damn, It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta" at an open mic night.(Here is the scene from Office Space for which I would guess this song is best known among boring white girls like me.) This was a source of amusement for quite awhile, because, well, maybe it is one of those "had to be there" kind of things, but I guess it was funny because 1) I am really shy, 2) I can't sing, and 3)I don't use phrases like "cocksuckin, pussy-eatin prankstas" in my everyday discourse. So for some time, it was fun to use lines from "Damn, It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta" in our everyday discourse.

My favorite occasion was actually when we were running. Many runners have cool shirts which say things like "Pain is temporary, pride is forever", or "I'm the fast girl your mother warned you about". I thought it would be cool to make a shirt that says "Gangsta ass niggas don't run fast". But for some reason, we never did, and eventually the Getto Boys talk got old.

We haven't been running lately at all and AAM asked me to run the Jingle Bell Run For Arthritis with her. I was pretty excited about it and was also excited because I had just discovered Facebook Flair. I was spending way too much time looking through all of the Facebook Flair Friday night. It seems like you could find every line of dialogue from some of my favorite movies like Elf or The Princess Bride. There were even numerous lines from Office Space. This alone cracked me up, because one of the funny things in that movie is the waitress being chastised for only wearing the minimum required amount of flair on her uniform. So how appropriate would it be to find some Facebook flair, from Office Space, to send to AAM? I was hoping to find some Flair that said "Gangsta Ass Niggas Don't Run Fast" But, alas, I sent her this one and had a freezingly good time running with her Saturday morning. It was probably our slowest race time ever, but that's OK, because real gangsta-ass niggas dont flex nuts cuz real gangsta-ass niggas know they got em.
* Inigo, The Princess Bride

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I went in and talked to the K Mart manager. He gave me a $10 gift card for my troubles. He didn't yell at me and I didn't apologize.

Friday, December 5, 2008


IDNKM is right, they DO actually read those surveys.
I noticed in last Sunday's K Mart ad, they were offering double coupons, up to and including $2. I was excited because I had several $2 coupons that made several items free or close to it. Realistically, I spent way too much time sorting my coupons and walking through the store rummaging through my coupon file, trying to beat others couponers to the prize items like the free Gillette body wash I will never use, trying to keep track of the coupons I have used and the ones I want to use and the ones that I wanted to use, but the items were out of stock, etc.

A couple hours later, when I arrived at the only open checkout lane, I had twenty five items and twenty three coupons. The people behind me were glaring at me like Morton Malaise when someone is writing a check! After every other coupon the cashier scanned, the machine beeped at her and she would have to do something to get it to start accepting coupons again. A couple of times, she didn't notice this and went on scanning my coupons, and setting them aside, even though they had not been deducted. I was trying to keep track and point this out, much to the chagrin of the people waiting behind me. But when my son called to give me directions to where I was supposed to pick him up promptly two minutes later, I lost track and gave up on the coupon scanning.

I then pulled out my checkbook and started to...just kidding. I quickly scanned my debit card and was thankful the harrowing ordeal was over and left the store questioning whether the $26.50 I saved was worth the time it took to accomplish that savings. I also was thinking, "hmm, according to my calculations, I should have saved more than $26.50", but I needed to pick up my son and avoid the angry mob forming behind me, so I took my receipt and left. It's not like they could have taken each coupon and matched it up with each item to see which ones rang up and which ones didn't. That would take forever.

It was frustrating when I got home and looked at my receipt, to realize that only eighteen of my twenty three coupons had rung up. Since all my coupons were valued at $1-$2, that would be a $5-$10 savings I should have received. I noticed on the receipt, I could take a survey and possibly win a $2,500 gift card, so I decided that would be an ideal way to voice my frustration and possibly recoup my loss.

I completed the survey fairly and wrote in the comments section that not all my coupons were scanned accurately. Ahh. I felt a sense of relief and closure. End of story.

Not really. Last night, I answered the phone to have K Mart Manager wanting to know what my problem was. It was a pretty confusing and probably pointless conversation.
Manager- "This is K Mart manager. I understand you had a problem in my store yesterday?"
Me- "Umm, actually, it was Sunday, and yes, some of my coupons did not scan, so I commented about it on an online survey."
Manager-"Sunday? I thought it was yesterday."
Me-"No, it was Sunday, but it doesn't really matter, does it?"
Manager-"My message says it was yesterday."
Me-"I didn't leave you a message, and I am looking at my receipt and it says Sunday, plus, I remember it was Sunday."
Manager-"Well, I was here Sunday."
Me-"OK?... So was I."
Manager-"hmmm" ...Long silence... then suddenly, "I've tried to contact you twice! I called yesterday and couldn't get through, AND I called today and left a message for you to call me back! When you didn't, I tried to call a third time!"
Me-"I'm, sorry, I didn't get the message." (from my grandma who has Alzheimer's)
Husband, from the other room- "Don't apologize to him!"
Manager-"Well, I was here Sunday!"
Me-"Ummm, OK??? Here's the deal, I did not take the time to complain right then. I needed to leave, and after I got home, I counted the coupons on my receipt, and I knew that there would be nothing that could be done at that point, once my coupons have been put in a drawer with hundreds of others, and..."
Husband- "Don't apologize to him!"
Manager-"Yes, yes, I could have done something right then. I could have gotten the coupons out of the register, and matched each one up with a code that shows on the receipt and then we could have matched those up to the items you purchased to see if there were any coupons that did not ring up! I did that with another lady who took the time to complain in person, rather than going online!"
Me-"I'm sorry, but.."
Husband- "Stop apologizing to him!"
Manager-"Well, why don't you come back in and bring your receipt and I will look at it?
Me-"umm, sure, OK, I'll do that"
Me-"I don't know? Will you be there tomorrow afternoon?"
Manager-"Yes, I will be here, except for when I go to lunch from noon to 1:00."
Me-"OK, I will try to come in tomorrow afternoon."
Scary Manager-"Good, Good. I will see you then."

I did also notice that one of my items that should have been on sale didn't ring up correctly. And I did find a $5 off coupon I could have used. So I guess I will go in and see what he wants and maybe he will price adjust the sale item and take my $5 coupon. Or maybe he will shine a laser scanner in my eyes and try to kill me. I'm kind of scared. I will probably end up apologizing again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Long Ride

I had a busy weekend, celebrating my anniversary, going to Princeville a couple of times, going to an open house in Chillicothe, a painting party in Bartonville,and going to the high school's musical (not the movie; my son's high school's musical where he was playing in the orchestra pit). Saturday night, it worked out that I would be in Bartonville near my son's friend who would be going to our house. T recently got his driver's license and later that night, would be driving my son, Big E, to Princeville. I decided I would have T take me home from Bartonville. Jennifer wondered if it would be awkward, riding with this kid who just got his license. I didn't think I should be sending my son with him if I wasn't comfortable riding with him; I told her it would be fine.

We didn't crash or anything, but it did turn out to be a little "awkward". As we pulled out of T's driveway, he said, "This is weird, usually you are driving me". So I joked that I would be critiquing his driving skills. I told him I am sure he is a very safe driver and was very comfortable riding with him.

After some silence, T asked "Do you like Fountains of Wayne?"
"I don't know, what do they sing?"
"Do you know the song 'Stacey's Mom'?"
"Umm, yes, it is OK."
T put in the CD. When "Stacey's Mom" came on, he said "Oh, here it is" and increased the volume and started singing along, "You know, I'm not the little boy that I used to be. I'm all grown up now, baby can't you see? Stacy's mom has got it goin' on. She's all I want and I've waited for so long"

And then, I think it dawned on him that this was a little strange. He looked at me kind of horrified, turned down the volume, and said "umm, just so you know, this is the only CD I have in this car."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Weirdo Factor, Part 2

Sometimes weirdos are not really creepy; They are just weird. There is one customer who has been coming in every day for years. I think I will call him Neon because he often wears a reflective safety vest, because he rides a bicycle. I kind of feel bad even classifying him as a weirdo, because he is most likely mentally ill and probably can't help it that he is so weird.

He works for the hotel that is adjacent to The Strip Club. He takes out garbage for them and I often see him in the alley behind my work, where the hotel dumpsters are.

Neon talks a lot. He talks to himself or anyone who is near him and often makes no sense whatsoever. He thinks he is really smart and he is very opinionated. He likes to talk about politics, but listening to him talk is like listening to Sarah Palin. He will start off with a bold statement about something and then degenerate into fractionated sentences and eventually unintelligible muttering. I usually try to avoid talking to him because I can't figure out what the hell he is trying to say and I feel awkward not knowing how to respond to nonsense.

My back was hurting and there is spot behind the bar where I can kind of sit on a cooler. It is right next to where Neon stands, but I decided go ahead and have a seat for a minute. I started some small talk . "How are you? How's work? Did you have to be out in the cold much today?" So far so good. Then he said, "I broke up a gang fight".

Wow. I am wondering what happened out in the alley. Was there really a gang fight? Did I just miss it? So I asked him "When?"
"In 1994."
"OK? Where was this?"
"In Waukegan, IL."
"Oh, how did you break up the fight?"
"I called the police."
"Well, good for you, that was the right thing to do."

He started mumbling unintelligibly about the gang fight I guess, in 1994, and I kind of zoned out, still not wanting to get up, but not really wanting to take the effort to continue the conversation. Luckily the door guy came to the bar, so I could divert my attention and ask him what he needed. The last I had seen him, he had hurt his back, so I asked how his back was doing. He said it still hurt and Neon spoke up.

"I have some Ben Gay in my bag. I'll let you use it."

The door guy said, "No, thank you", and left. Neon stood there in silence for awhile, then said to me "I carry Ben Gay because I rub it on my boils."

So I walked away to the other side of the bar, where another everyday customer, hmm, I'll call him Red, was sitting. Red sometimes gets a kick out of my interactions with Neon. Once, Neon threw an empty water bottle behind the bar, trying to make it in the garbage, but missed. So I picked it up, and jokingly said "Did you throw this at me?" and threw it back at him. Neon apologized profusely, calling me maam a lot. I felt bad, but Red thought it was hysterical. So I lamented to Red how hard it is to carry on a conversation with Neon and told him about the Ben Gay and the boils. Red said, "Maybe he has a speech impediment, and he really rubs it on his balls." So I laughed, but really that would not be beyond the realm of possibility.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Weirdo Factor (Part 1?)

Ring Ring
"Thank you for calling The Strip Club, This is Secret Server, may I help you?"
"Yes, Secret Server, I have a question for you. I might be bringing some buddies in for lunch, and we were wondering, can you wear hats in there?"
"Good question caller, we do have some hat rules. We do not allow stocking caps. Other hats are allowed, but baseball caps have to face forward." (Honest to god truth, this is the rule.)
"OK, so we can wear baseball caps, as long as they are facing the front?"
"OK, I'll see you later"
Ummm, yes, I'm looking forward to it. Who calls ahead to ask about hats, would he have changed his mind and not come in if he had to remove his hat??

A little while later, Ring Ring
"Thank you for calling The Strip Club, This is Secret Server, may I help you?"
same caller as before- "Yes, Secret Server, how are you doing?"
"Fine, Thank you"
"Well, I have a question for you, I don't want to take up too much of your time, but I was thinking about coming in, and I hope you're not too busy, because I just want to ask you a quick question, I appreciate you talking to me, because I was wondering something and wanted to ask you a question"
"OK! What's your question?!?"
"Is H working today?"
"No, H is not working today"
"Oh, well I thought she was"
"Well, she is not here"
"Well, is she coming in later?"
"I don't know" (We are not supposed to give out dancers' schedules for their own protection, in case some weirdo is stalking them in some fashion, but sometimes customers get really upset and offended if you say that. "Well, I just wanted to come spend some money on her, but if I don't know when she is working, well she's losing out on money if you don't tell me". I try to avoid saying "we are not allowed to tell you her schedule")
"Can you find out?"
"No, I am behind the bar and I have customers waiting"
"Hmmm, well, ....OK...ummm....well, I was wondering... ummmm"
"Well, nevermind, I'll talk to you about it later."

So, a while later, a guy approached the bar with a huge grin on his face and told me he has spoken to me twice today, do I remember?
Ummm, Hat Guy?
He turned his hat around backwards and started giggling.
He said he has something to talk about but wants to order lunch first, so after looking over the menu, he ordered a Build Your Own Wrap "Tell the cook to put whatever is good on it".

He kept alluding to wanting to talk to me about something. He giggled a lot. I was washing some glasses and he got up and walked over to me to tell me anything he asks me, I can ask him the same thing. WTF? Does this man think we are playing some sort of game? When his lunch arrived he said he couldn't eat it because there was a naked girl on stage, even though he was facing the bar with his back to the stage.

Basically, something about this guy creeped me out. Talking to some friends about something unrelated, we were discussing how some of us are very trusting and think the world is full of good people, whereas some of us are suspicious and guarded. I am the former type. I know am too naive and sometimes trust people I shouldn't. So I guess when *I* have alarm bells going off, it is so unusual, it really gets my attention.

Luckily, his wife called him home, or so he said. I threw away his untouched food and went about my business. Later the door guy paged me and said I had a phone call on line 1.
"Hey, Secret Server, it is me. I wanted to call and tell you you have really given me a lot to think about. I came in the with some questions and I didn't really get any of them answered, but my mind is thinking and thinking. I mean really, I will probably write a book. Do you want me to change your name?"
"Seriously, I think you should write a book, or I'll write a book, so seriously if I write a book, do you want me to change your name?"
"Uh, yes?"

I called the door guy and said, "If that guy calls back, tell him I'm not available, or tell him, I can't take phone calls, ever."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Darn, no more bathroom cleaning at sub -legal wages for me

I am done working at The Bar. I tried to give my two, three, four week notice, but was told to finish out the weekend, then be done. Friday morning I had called the business office to ask to speak to either owner and left a message for either owner to call me back. A called me and was very nice and understanding. When I got to work that afternoon, J was upset that I had talked to A first. He had an odd attitude and it was awkward working all weekend.

I wish them the best and all success. I will see about adjusting my schedule at The Strip Club. There may be some interesting times ahead there. And I have never been asked to clean a toilet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm Kreativ, and requesting photos of scantily clad bloggers

I got this award from Katie, at Notes From the Trailerhood. It is so pretty and makes me feel like a real blogger, with real people who read my blog. Thanks, Katie! I guess the award comes with rules-
The rules:
(1) List six things that make you happy
(2) Pass the award on to 6 more kreativ bloggers
(3) Link back to the person who gave you the award
(4) Link to the people you are passing it on to and leave them a comment to let them know.
(5) Request scantily clad photos of your blogger friends of the opposite sex.

I don’t know six more kerativ bloggers who haven’t already been tagged, and I’m not sure I am comfortable asking people I don’t know to do something that has rules. So I am skipping the part about passing it on to 6 more bloggers. I noticed that everyone else is skipping the part about requesting pictures, so I don’t feel too bad about skipping a part. I’m not going to shy away from requesting scantily clad blogger photos though. Heck, I’ll even extend the request to bloggers of the same sex. If anyone wants to send me some photos, I will be happy to give you kreativ kommentary.
Six things that make me happy-
1) My family. I love spending time with my family. My wedding anniversary is coming up soon, and it makes me happy that I am still very in love with my husband. Our kids are wonderful and make me very happy. It is rewarding having Grandma live with us. I love my little brothers and cherish time spent with them. I love our animal family members too.
2) My friends. Jennifer puts a smile on my face every day. My other friends are all wonderful too and I value each one of them and how they support me.
3) Food porn. I love food bloggers and spend way too much time looking at what other people are doing in their kitchens with toys I don’t have, and fantasizing about techniques I’ve never tried. I spend hours ogling seductive pictures on foodgawker and fancy rolling fondant. (yes, Jennifer, foodgawker makes me think naughty things. I’m coming out as fondant curious.)
4) Clearance stickers at Krogers. I can spot these out of the corner of my eye an isle away.

5) Successfully cooking something delicious. This especially makes me happy when everyone in my family likes it too. Tonight’s delight was inspired from too much milk in my fridge from being tempted by too many orange clearance stickers- chocolate pudding. Yum.
6) Balderdash. I love that game.

Wow, I could go on and on. It’s kind of like being thankful at Thanksgiving, which also makes me happy. Thanks, Katie for asking me to stop and think about things that make me happy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

An Old Leaf for the old restaurant- some things just aren't changing

I hadn't been to work at The Bar since last Friday. I could see at the top of the stairs there were a lot of black marks all over the floor. WTF? Maybe someone spilled something? And it just got smeared around? K says, "hey, glad you're here, they need me to work downstairs". OK. I went behind the bar and opened the fruit tray to find moldy fruit. Hmmm, we had been open two hours; did the citrus fruit get moldy in that time? Or maybe it is just left over from last night? Or last week?

I went to check on a group in the back of the room, to find a group of drunk guys grinding Chex mix into the carpet. The carpet was also where they were depositing the shrimp tails. Gross. Gross. Gross. They wanted a round of drinks and seemed unhappy that I wanted to get the shrimp off the carpet. I made small talk and repeated their orders back to them while picking up the shrimp tails with napkins (I have a seafood phobia.) "Can we get our drinks now? Oh, and some more shrimp?" I brought the drinks, the shrimp, and a bowl to put the tails in, and told them, politely, that is what it was for. Luckily, they went downstairs after that round, and I spent more time cleaning more shrimp off the floor.

I cut up some fresh fruit, waited on a few more customers in the course of the next 5 hours. I made $8 in cash. We don't get our credit card tips immediately. In fact, I think we might not get them at all. I have been asking about getting tips from two weeks ago, but that money isn't ready yet. So, last night, B brought me some tips with post it notes saying 10-30, 10-31. I thanked him and told him that I still hadn't received any money from 10-23 or 10-24. Well there isn't any more money. I need to talk to J about it. But I couldn't leave the bar upstairs, so I wrote J a note and asked B to take it to him. "Oh, he'll be up soon. You can talk to him then". Nope. J left and the other employees are complaining about not getting tip money either.

So I was finally able to start cleaning, getting ready to close. Our vacuum was broken, so I attacked ground in Chex mix with a broom and got most of it out, working up a sweat. In the bathrooms there were no garbage bags in the cans, so I emptied the trash into bags, and put fresh bags in. The sinks and mirrors looked like they hadn't been cleaned in a week, so I cleaned those. There was a big pool of partially fresh, partially dried urine under the urinal that was fun to clean. I polished the crystal, polished the glass bar, mopped the floor. B came up and told me we had a new vacuum. Yay, now I can vacuum the carpet to make sure I got all the Chex mix.

I left with $8. Oh, and a $10 tip on a credit card. Maybe I will get that in a couple weeks.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Celebrate (or mourn) the Election with Champagne! and a Knife!

I know a little bar trick. That’s really all it is, except rather than playing with quarters and cigarettes, it involves a big knife and expensive champagne. “Sabre a champagne!” A corked bottle of champagne is sliced neatly across the neck. Technically, it’s not the best way to open a bottle if you want to preserve the quality of the champagne. (It should be opened as quietly, with as little ‘pop’ as possible.) But it is really cool.

By calling it a bar trick, I don’t want to imply that I take it too lightly and run around wielding knives and chopping bottles without regard for safety. I’ve actually done hours of research and practice. Maybe I will write a post of all the details of how to do this and the alleged traditions of ‘the art’. But this post is about a particular story from my work and how maybe I don’t know as much about the practice as I thought I did.

I first became intrigued by this after watching Stephen, on Top Chef Season 1, do this on the show a few times. I learned how and practiced on cheap champagne and sparkling juice. The first time I did it in public was with a bottle of Cristal on A’s birthday. This was an EXPENSIVE bottle of champagne and I was pretty nervous, but at this time, I was not really happy working for him, and thought, “what the hell, if the bottle explodes, that’s the kind of thing I want to get fired (sued) for”. The glass popped clean, the crowd ooohed and aaahed and I have been doing this ever since. I’ve done it for the mayor; I’ve done it at a wedding; I’ve done three bottles right in a row at a PAWS fundraiser. Some bottles sliced more clean and straight than others, but overall, there were no major disasters, like I’ve seen on the YouTube. Until last weekend.

A’s friend (and competing strip club owner) was at the new bar with a date. A’s attorney joined them by the fireplace. Our other owner, J, had just gotten off the phone with A and had told him his friends were here. A wanted to buy them a bottle of Dom Perignon and wanted me to saber it for them. I put the bottle in ice, went to the kitchen and couldn’t really find a knife as heavy as I like to use. One of the guests needed to go to the restroom. Then another. So I am just standing there waiting for everyone to return (that’s what J told me to do.) So finally, all eyes on me, I take the knife to the bottle, slide it up the seam to the neck, and instead of a sexy little “pop”, there was an awful crack as the top two thirds of the bottle went flying across the room as a jagged, deadly projectile. Champagne was everywhere, all over me, the carpet, the guests. I am left holding the bottom third of a bottle of Dom in one hand and a shaking knife in the other. I asked if everyone was OK and walked away holding back tears, humiliated, as J got another bottle and opened it in the more traditional, less deadly, manner. A arrived, looked at the bisected bottle lying on the bar and moved the party downstairs.

I awaited my fate by emptying the remaining champagne into a pint glass and downing it. (I KNOW that the force of the champagne blows any glass shards outward so I wasn’t really worried, but in my mind, I was thinking maybe drinking glass would be preferable to A’s wrath. Maybe they would have to rush me to the hospital sputtering blood and then, when I got fired, the pain would be deadened by pain killers.) Eventually, the party, now increased by many members, returned and A acted as if nothing was wrong. I waited on them without crying or spilling anything or breaking anything else. At the end of the evening A called me a goddess and left me a very generous tip, as did his friends whom I had almost decapitated earlier in the evening.

So I feel confused. I have seen A fire people for standing with their hands crossed or for using the restroom mid-shift. I’m not sure why he reacted without ire. I am confused about why the bottle did react with ire. Maybe it had gotten too warm, maybe my knife wasn’t heavy enough, maybe I just made a mistake. I need to do some experimenting with different knife angles, different brands and bottle temperatures. I need to gather a group of people who want to consume a large amount of champagne and aren’t afraid of a little potential flying glass. Any volunteers?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin I Carved for The Bar

Slow Going at The Bar

I may have to start calling The Restaurant "The Bar". A had told me we were going to have a menu of small portions of hot and cold appetizers ranging in price from $4-$8. But it turns out there is no menu. We are offering complimentary appetizers each evening.

Business has been slower than I had hoped. A couple nights, I have waited on A and he has tipped me quite generously, but other than that, it has been fewer customers and longer hours than I expected.

My new co-worker, K, is getting frustrated too. I worry he will quit. I am starting to question a couple things about him, though. This is his first food and beverage job. In general, he has been a fast learner and has been doing great. He made a mistake Friday night though that cracked me up. Our red wine glasses are really big. I would guess they could hold 16 ounces of liquid, but we only pour about 5 ounces per serving. This gives the customer room to swirl and smell their wine, as red wine drinkers oft do. I did teach K the proper portion to serve and where to pour up to on the glass. He must have forgotten though. On Friday night, I went to check on some customers and came back to the bar, where there was a customer sitting with a glass of wine, filled all the way to the top. I guess you have to see it to picture how funny it looked. What is worse, is this customer had already had four martinis and was switching to a glass of wine before he left because he was feeling tipsy. After K poured half the bottle in the glass, the customer stared at it and took a couple of drinks before leaving.

I didn't work Saturday because I was in Champaign, at a marching band competition. I am wondering what I missed because someone posted on Peoria.com saying the upstairs bartender was a jerk. I hope that it was just this person's misperception, but I can see how if you aren't happy with your job, it may seem like you are being a jerk. So I hope that business picks up and K can act happy and I hope people don't think that we are stuck up jerks.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Doobie Dobbie Doo

My Grandma’s dog, Doobie, has been hanging in there, but he is not doing well. He has congestive heart failure and kidney failure and allergies and is mostly blind and deaf. He follows my grandma wherever she goes and sleeps with her on her bed. He often pees in her bedroom. But she absolutely loves this dog and dotes on him constantly. I know that any little stress exacerbates her dementia and confusion, and I am often torn between wishing he would die (to end his suffering and end the problem off his disgusting urine making the air unbreathable) and dreading his death and the grief and trauma it may cause Grandma.

Mostly I try not to think about it and deal with Doobie as little as possible. I let him in and out constantly when I am home, but other than that Grandma takes care of him, feeds him and brushes him and gives him his medicine. I keep her medicine upstairs because it had occurred to me it would be possible for her to get the medicine confused. Doobie’s meds have animal pictures on the caps. He gets them morning and night and she gives them to him and marks them off on a chart we have made to keep track of whether or not she has given them. It has been working pretty well.

Sunday morning, I went down to check on her and found her shaking and crying. “I just did something awful”! She had accidentally taken Doobie’s medicine. I called poison control right away and they assured her that what she had taken was harmless to her, but it was pretty upsetting for both of us. She doesn’t want to give up any more independence and wants to feel useful. All day Sunday she kept saying she was worthless. I kept reiterating that I really hope making a silly mistake doesn’t deem one worthless, or that means she has a very worthless granddaughter.

About a month ago, he had to have some routine blood work done and I asked if he could see the vet because he had been scratching and biting a spot on his back. He had a staph infection and they gave us antibiotics. When the antibiotics ran out, he was still itching so I called and they gave him some medicine for the itching. That medicine doesn’t seem to be helping either and now he has a bloody spot on his back and is scratching all over. He looks miserable. Does he have some antibiotic resistant staph? Has my grandma been taking his antibiotics herself? So it is back to the vet today.

My husband and I have joked about just replacing Doobie with a younger lhasa apso. Would my grandma even notice? Just putting Doobie out of his misery and getting a dog that looks just like him that doesn’t pee on the carpet and need all this extra care. I could never be the one to initiate that conversation at the vet though. I cried for days when I had to euthanize my son’s fish several years ago. But I secretly wish that when I take Doobie in today, that they tell us that he would be better off humanely euthanized and then I would get my grandma another dog. It seems the route of least suffering for us all.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A New Leaf for the Old Restuarant?

I’ve been working few hours at the Strip Club, and enjoying my freedom to spend time with the family and friends. Within the last month, I had heard that A had a new co-owner for The Restaurant. J and his partner, B, have been at The Club, having meetings or sitting at the bar. No one introduced them to me; I made my own introduction. I told them I used to work at The Restaurant and asked what they were doing with the place. I was told they were making a lot of changes including a new staff. OK. I thought, “Good, I wouldn’t want to work there anyway.”

So what did I say on Wednesday, when A called me down to the office, to ask me to work at the new place, starting FRIDAY? “Oh, yes, sure, that sounds exciting!” I don’t know what my problem is. I can’t say no to that man. They want me to work at the upstairs bar, which is only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, for now.

I have to admit, it is a little alluring, a little exciting. I love the upstairs area. There is a fireplace, a gorgeous view of the river, small quiet areas with couches and coffee tables. It is so romantic and cozy. I got a little busy Friday night. Saturday night was pretty slow. I mostly stood around, getting to know my new co-worker, K (who has never worked in a bar or restaurant before, ever).

I hope the new place does great. I think it is an awesome bar and has a lot of potential. But I’ve thought that before about The Restaurant. And no matter how busy or wonderful it is, I don’t think any bar can compare with the money making potential of working at the Strip Club. I am going to give it a try for awhile. My husband isn’t thrilled with my new hours. My grandma isn’t adjusting well either. She won’t go to sleep until I am home. I am going to see how it goes for a month and promise myself to make a decision about whether I enjoy it and find it valuable at that time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"I'll Love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as your living, my baby you'll be"- Robert Munsch

My older son, Big E, is a sophomore. He has a challenging course load. He is in the honors track for English, Algebra, Chemistry, and Political Science. He is also in marching band, which fills his schedule in the fall. He struggled a lot with honors English last year, and I really questioned whether he should continue at honors level this year. He really wanted to and we agreed to let him. I feel frustrated with his mediocre grades but try not to be a perfectionist. What really bothers me though, is he does not like to read.

I read to him in the womb. When he was born, we chose Atticus for his middle name, after Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. His earliest “toys” were board books, Pat the Bunny, Goodnight Moon, Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs and the whole Sandra Boyton collection. When he was a toddler, we spent hours with Dr. Seuss, Arthur, Little Bear and Thomas the Tank Engine. When he was four, he started reading to us. It started with Where the Wild Things Are, which he may have memorized, but soon he was reading and loved to do so.

All through grade school we read as a family every night. Junie B. Jones, Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket. Of course we included your childhood classics, Watership Down, A Wrinkle in Time, Bridge to Tarabithia, etc. We finally decided both kids were ready to experience the book that I loved from first reading in 8th grade, the book that shaped my morals and impassioned my love of justice and longing to be a loving parent, To Kill A Mockingbird. The boys liked it. We watched the movie. A little while later we read it again.

Somewhere along the line our bedtime readings gave way to bedtime audio books, listened to in separate bedrooms. Somewhere along the line, audio books fell to T.V. And somewhere, Big E lost the joy of reading. He now says he hates reading. Ouch. How can this be? I realize it may be a phase. I realize it may be a personality trait or just something we differ about. He is becoming his own person with his likes and dislikes that are usually quite different than mine. It’s hard to let them grow up. He has a C- in English right now. He got 2 Cs and an F on the last 3 quizzes. I implored him to read and study for the final test and he got a C. What book are they reading? To Kill A Mockingbird! I don’t understand what he could possibly not understand about the book at this point. I think I need to read it again and ask myself, “What would Atticus do?”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It has been almost a year that I have been blogging. I still feel like I don't really know what I'm doing and don't have much focus. Maybe I need to rename and refocus. I'll think about it the next couple weeks leading up to my one year anniversary. But I do want to make a commitment to write more frequently. My goal is to write at least once a week.

I am not working very much and don't really have much to write about work. The Strip Club is really pretty boring. I haven't had any more problems with the dancer, D. I don't have any exciting tales to tell or any entertaining stipper stories.

I imagine I will write more about the kids, the pets, the grandma. Maybe occasionally peppered with tidbits from work. That's pretty proportional to my life actually.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Now I ain't sayin' she a gold digger

I am settling in at the Strip Club. So far, so good, except I am having a problem with a particular dancer who is really...um, aggressive about getting money and drinks from customers. I am resisting the urge to call her a money grubbing whore. She really irritates me though. She tries to order drinks for herself and others and put them on other customers' tabs. She will say she wants to order a drink for a customer and to put it on her tab, then wink at me. She wants me to charge the customer for his drink and hers when she says she is buying the round. Or not charge her for the drinks at all maybe?

I'm not stupid. I am not going to risk my job so she can get drunk or get customers drunk and steal from them (which I have seen her do). Also, I like my customers to be happy, not pissed at me for drinks charged to their tab that they didn't want to buy. I need to have a talk with her about this, preferably before her next shift, before she is drunk. I also feel irritated that when she could tell I was getting upset with her, she started to try to flatter me I guess? Telling me I could be stripper! We could play the good girl/ bad girl routine! I did not appreciate the attempted distraction.

I think she also thought I was telling on her at one point and came to intercept the conversation. I was talking quietly to a manager to tell him about an interaction I had just witnessed between another dancer and a customer. (Dancer: "So what do you do for a living?" Customer: "Construction" Dancer: "Oooh, What are you working on?" Customer: "Building a fence" Dancer: "How big is it?" Customer: "11,000 feet" Dancer: "Wow, that's a tall fence".) D snuck up behind me and as J and I started laughing, she started laughing and said "I have a joke too". I think she thought I was telling on her, which I probably wouldn't do, unless I couldn't handle it myself. So I need to try to handle this myself and have a talk with her. I hate confrontation. But I hate dealing with her deceitfulness more.

I get to work at The Restaurant Saturday night. The kitchen has been closed there for about a month, and it has just been operating as a bar. One of the Owner's friends wants to have a birthday party in the Red Room Saturday night, so I am going to work for that. Which will mean a lot of work readying the room. Cleaning, vacuuming, polishing crystal and silverware, setting all the tables, etc. Ugh. I just think it will be a lot of work for not a lot of money probably. But I agreed to do it and can use the extra money I do get. I like earning my money honestly.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Red Room, The End

I went into work at The Restaurant this evening to find out it is CLOSED. Well, the part I work in is closed. No one bothered to call and tell me, or mention it to me when they saw me earlier in the week at the other establishment. I am not shocked. I am just shocked that it was so sudden, and no one bothered to tell me.

Working at The Strip Club has been going well. I like it. It is pretty easy and I have made more money working a couple shifts for a few weeks than I have all year at The Restaurant. Now I need to see if I can pick up more shifts there, but I am kind of picky about my schedule. I don't want to work until 4 a.m. The shift I have been doing is behind the bar from 4-10 p.m. Behind the bar, I can wear pants and comfortable shoes, and it doesn't really matter that I have gained 20 lbs since I last worked there. I think the only shifts available will be to waitress. I will have to wear 4 inch heels, and fishnet stockings, and a skirt that has to be higher than my fingertips when my arms are at my sides. I think I will feel a little self-conscious about that extra weight. And very uncomfortable in those stupid shoes.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Bug Feather Bottom" Returns Google Search Results About Hallucinations

A couple days ago, my friend, Jennifer, told me to be on the lookout for interesting bugs, for Taylor's upcoming insect project for freshman biology. She knows I am not comfortable killing bugs, so she requested that I save any interesting bugs that were "dead, but in excellent condition" for Taylor. I admired Taylor's ambition, getting such a head start on this project, but doubted I would actually be of much assistance.

Last night, however, I observed the weirdest bug ever. Big E pointed it out to me, and we got out a magnifying glass and a camera and watched this bug crawl around a mug for about 15 minutes. (My camera sucks and I could not get a good picture of it.)

This bug looked like a big spider's head, walked around on 6 legs, and had a feather on its butt. It was definitely an interesting insect. Maybe I would be able to help Taylor after all. There was only one problem. It was very much alive. It kept crawling around the mug as we held it over the sink. My husband was on the phone and I kept interrupting him to come look at the bug and finally asked him if he could humanely euthanize the bug, but when he showed up with the alcohol and cotton ball, I felt bad and changed my mind. I called and left a message on Jennifer's answering machine wondering if she had any advice. While I was waiting for a return call, the bug fell off the mug and went down the drain. Dang it, I should have killed that bug. I bet Tay would have gotten an A with a crazy bug like that.

I really was fascinated by it and still wonder what it was. My husband thinks it got a feather stuck to it somehow, but I think it was part of the bug (maybe it was actually a spider and it was some sort of web coming out of it? maybe it was a deformed wing?). He finally said, "I can guarantee you that feather was no part of that bug. I am certain of it. Do you know how I am certain?"

Me: "How are you certain?" (thinking maybe HE stuck the feather on the bug?)

Him: "Because it's a BUG! Bugs don't have feathers!"

But, really, this one did! I have a picture of it. Maybe Taylor will learn about bugs with feathers, and I am going to try to be on the lookout for bugs that are dead, but in excellent condition.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I'll be out with your salads as soon as I clean this toilet

Bread boy is gone. I came into work one day last week in the middle of an argument between manager, L, and Bread Boy about cleaning the toilets. Since the Restaurant no longer has a cleaning service, we should have known this is our job. Bread Boy got sent home for being disrespectful and by mutual agreement between him and the Owner (there is only one now; no Owner 1 and Owner 2), he is not coming back.

This sucks for me. Not only will I miss him, but I prefer to have as little responsibility as possible there. The whole restaurant (or at least the part I work in) has been a downward spiral from the get go, and I try to do my best, and keep customers happy, but the plight has gotten ummm, just ridiculous, really. I don’t make enough money to spend my evenings cleaning toilets and waiting around for customers. The other server, J, is gone now too. Owner is on vacation, so I’m not sure exactly what the plan is, but we have hired a new server to work everyday. I think my plan is to pick up a couple shifts at another establishment and work at The Restaurant Fridays and Saturdays, or to help with bigger parties.

The other establishment is a strip club. I bartended/ served there before The Restaurant opened. I kind of miss it. I definitely miss the money. I didn’t like working late nights and couldn’t work during the day because of Grandma’s condition, but The Strip Club has recently made a new 4:00- 9:00 p.m. shift that will be perfect for me. Really, I am more confident recommending a stripper for your lap dance than a steak for your dinner anyway. And it will definitely provide better fodder for blogging.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Good Ole' Summertime

There’s not much to write about my restaurant world. Chef G has been fired. Manager, C, whom I liked and respected, has been fired. J, the cook, quit. We have hired another server, J. And a manager from one of the other establishments is now running the kitchen. His name is also J. I just hope server J works out because I am taking a week off in June to assist at the Sun Foundation Arts and Science in the Woods Camp.

That is my favorite week of the year. I have been doing it for about 8 years now. I help with a rocks and fossils class. Family members are going to help care for Gram and it is like a vacation for me.

Big E is 15. This is the summer after his freshman year. Really, we only have these next three summers left as a family before he is grown up. I really want to make the most of this summer and wish we could take a real family vacation. I worry my children will grow up and I will regret never having taken a real vacation.

I guess I survived childhood without a real vacation. And I have fond memories of the mini vacations we did, like going to Six Flags in the back of a pick up truck. Those are the kinds of things I do with my kids except they ride inside the vehicle in seatbelts. Back of the truck was not so much fun anyway, especially when it rained the whole trip back and we eventually squeezed all six of us, sopping wet into the cab. The vacations I take my kids on have to better than that.

So I am looking forward to summer. I like this cool weather easing into summer. I have a garden planted. The kids have music camps and we all have the Sun Foundation camp (with Jennifer's kids, the kids will be honing their survival skills). I have been buliding up my running again and hope to get in shape. I am going to enjoy the weather and enjoy time with my family and friends as much as possible. And hopefully blog a little more about all those good things.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I had a lime thrown at me

Wow. I have been so busy, yet busy with boring stuff, I think all three of my readers may think I have fallen off the face of the Earth.

Well, auditioning for Deal or No Deal was not boring. Even though we stood in line for six hours, I don’t think I got bored at all. I was having fun with Jennifer and it I was excited with anticipation of the audition, which lasted 20 seconds.

Work has been mainly uneventful except for one night of waiting on a rock star and some TV celebrities. It was a lot of dealing with the attitude “Don’t you know who I am?!?” (No, I don’t actually, and even if I was big fan, I doubt I would know you didn't want a lime in your drink.)

Our chef, G, has still been putting out consistently good steaks and seafood. Yet she still has some….creative? ideas that I don’t quite understand. Our special last weekend was Seared Sea Scallops (say 5 times fast) and mashed potatoes. Plated together. With a White Sauce. I don’t eat meat and especially hate seafood, so I should not be pretentious enough to say these flavors would not go well together. How would I know? At some point the special did get changed to Sea Scallops and asparagus. I’m not sure of the details of how it was changed. I just know no one told me about it until I saw a plate come out of the kitchen with asparagus instead of mashed potatoes. Luckily it was for Bread Boy’s table and he was already aware of (maybe initiated) the change.

Something else no one told me was that our new dishwasher is deaf. So for the first few days he worked there, I went from thinking he was ignoring me, to getting frustrated over serious communication problems. Since seeing someone sign to him, and figuring out I need to make sure he is at least facing me if I want to talk to him, (He is a good lip reader) everything has been fine and he seems nice and interesting. I’m not sure if he will stay with us though, since our dishwashing machine has been broken since he has started, and he has to wash everything by hand and his skin is getting raw.

My husband got me a new notebook computer, which is cool. I have started another job grading the written portion of standardized tests which I can do online. Too bad it is temporary, just for a couple months. The plan is, that I can take my computer to work with me, and when we have no customers, I can grade tests.

Yesterday, I used my new computer for a few hours with it sitting on the kitchen table, which is several inches higher than my computer desk. Last night my shoulder was hurting me, from having my mouse arm higher than normal. I was complaining about it and my 12 year old, Little E, said, (in a slow, condescending voice) “Mom, it is called a LAP TOP so you can sit it on the TOP of your LAP, and you won’t need to reach up to use it”.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Osso Buco means "bone hole"

The weekend at work was pretty uneventful. I had a few tables each night. I like our new chef, G. She is making a new menu; She has been making a chef's special dish each day. She has even been making a dessert each day. This weekend she made cute creme brulees in cappuccino cups, which was a nice dessert and also made good use of the cups since they have been going unused since the cappuccino machine is broken. (Also, for awhile, when Bread Boy and I were contemplating making desserts, C hid the kitchen torch from us, so I was glad he returned it and we can have creme brulees again.) So, overall, it has been great having her, but I have noticed that sometimes she seems , umm, unknowledgeable about things I think a chef should know.

I am not a culinary expert. I am still learning A LOT about food and wine. So I do not want to sound critical. But it is odd, how she could NOT know some things and it may affect some customers' satisfaction. When Owner 2 told us about hiring her, he said she went to a Cordon Bleu school, she cooked him a "ballsy" dish, and the dessert she made looked "very homemade, but had an incredible flavor". He seemed pleased, but hesitant.

G has contributed a lot so far, adding some sauces, demi-glaces, and other additions to some of the dishes, improving the presentations, and making desserts. I felt surprised one day, though, when she came across some Cappicola in the cooler and didn't know what it was. But again, I wouldn't have known either, had we not had it on a previous menu. This weekend, she had bought some precooked "Osso Buco". We have also had Osso Buco on a previous menu and were told Osso Buco was a veal dish. When I did some research about Osso Buco, it always referred to veal. The dish G made was a pork dish. Which, apparently you can have pork Osso Buco, (in fact a customer this weekend told us she had just had pork Osso Buco in Florida). But G had never heard of Osso Buco before and didn't think to specify to us it was pork. I finally figured it out and asked. Also she decided to serve the pork Osso Buco with "Risotto". I served one early in the evening and could tell though that the risotto was not risotto. She just cooked plain Arborio rice and called it risotto. I did not want to question her about it. (I am just a novice server and she is a trained chef.) I just adjusted the way I was describing the dish to customers and said it was served with rice.

I wish I was more assertive or had figured out a way to question her about it though, because it turns out that some customers were really looking forward to actual risotto. G was talking to the party of 6 (who had just had a pork Osso Buco in Florida)and told them she was serving it with Risotto. One woman started going on and on about how much she loves risotto, and maybe she would like risotto even if she doesn't have the Osso Buco. Then another woman said "me too, I am going to get risotto too". This was Bread Boy's table, so I pulled him aside and told him I was worried that these people were really excited about having risotto, and I was pretty sure G had just made rice. So, he went and confirmed this, and had to explain to her what risotto actually is and she tried to "whip some up real quick". Needless to say, the customers were not very pleased.

I just feel so frustrated that it seems we continually take a few steps forward, only to take a few steps back. Luckily, G is very friendly and "down-home" and maybe in the future I will feel more comfortable questioning her if something doesn't seem right to me.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Comfortably Numb

I had Wednesday night off work. I went out to Sully’s open mike night to watch my friend, T, play. I got a text message from Bread Boy, saying, “Happy one year anniversary to us, taking tomorrow off, we have no resos”. So, the Restaurant has been open a year. We still have a very inconsistent crowd. Most nights, it is very slow. The past couple Saturdays have been really busy.

We have a new manager and a new chef. Our manager, C, seems very detail oriented and assertive. He has initiated a lot of changes to make things more consistent, which I appreciate. Our new chef, G, is working on a new menu. She seems very down-to-earth and practical. I like her. Our cook, M, is leaving us in a couple weeks. I will miss him.

I am still feeling (inexplicably) hopeful that The Restaurant will be successful. I am also pretty indifferent about looking for anything else right now, though, and am content to work only a few days a week. I hope for customers, but when we have none, I take advantage of the quiet atmosphere to work on my book club book. My schedule is working out in regards to taking care of Grandma and I also have a temporary work from home job starting in April. This slow complacency is feeling pretty comfortable right now. I know that feeling will soon pass, however, when I balance my checkbook or pay my overdue CILCO bill.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spring E- Cleaning

I have been putting off cleaning out my inbox and changing the settings for my email groups, or unsubscribing to them. After reading this post, by Eyebrows McGee, I realized that my inbox situation is dysfunctional. I am an e-hoarder.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Doughnuts & Donuts Commercials

Last weekend, we made a family event out of making homemade doughnuts. I made the dough; the kids and I rolled and cut them; the husband fried them; then the kids and I glazed and/or sugared them. It was fun and tasty.

I have not purchased a doughnut for years. I think they are “OK” but I am not a huge fan and worry about them being filled with unhealthy fat and sugar. I just looked up the nutrition info for a Dunkin' Donuts cake doughnut and was surprised to see it did not list any trans fat in the nutrition facts.
(Although it did list Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil in the ingredients.)

Some Dunkin' Donuts commercials have caught my eye (ear) recently. My husband really likes “Doing Things Is What I Like To Do”.

I have just started seeing this fairly recently, but this commercial was apparently part of a 2006 ad campaign featuring the band, They Might Be Giants. I really like TMBG, but that commercial annoys me because of the line, “I'm slightly more productive now than previous because I'm slightly more efficient than I previously was". It just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know if it is grammatically incorrect, and realize that music does not have to be grammatically correct, but that line just bugs me.

I really like this commercial.

I identify with that frustration. When I go to a bar, and want a big drink, I order a “tall”. When I go to Starbucks and want a big drink, I have several times ordered a “tall” and gotten the smallest drink they serve. At Starbucks “tall” means small. What I need to order is a Venti Latte. OK. So this commercial is kind of funny too. Another They Might Be Giants.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Good Wine, Depressing Pens, and Ethics

Last week, Owner 1 came to eat with some friends. He brought with him a large bottle of Opus One. The bottle size is either called a Methusalem or Imperial; I think one refers to wine, and one to champagne, but maybe they are interchangeable terms, I don’t know. It held the equivalent of eight standard bottles of wine and I think I will call it a Methusalem, because I think that is accurate and I like that word better.

I like O1 (Owner 1; I do like the wine, Opus One too, though). Waiting on him can be a gamble. Sometimes, he has a temper and is very particular. Sometimes he can be very fun to serve and has left me the most generous tips I have ever received. Sometimes he has left without tipping me at all. So, it is really hard to know what to expect.

On this night, the party of six had a few cocktails before dinner and started to work on the Methusalem with dinner. There was wine flowing aplenty. O1 generously offered Bread Boy and me each a glass, and we graciously accepted. After several hours of wining and dining, the Methusalem was emptied. One of the guests offered pay the dinner tab if O1 left the tip. Another vomited red wine all over the bathroom floor. Everyone (well, except for Bread Boy and me) was very intoxicated.

I have worked for O1 (in other establishments) for almost eight years. As unpredictable as he is, I know his “unhappy intoxicated glare”. When I saw this dazed look on his face, I whispered to Bread Boy that I was not feeling hopeful about the tip situation. Bread Boy said he thinks O1 heard me because when I was in the kitchen, he threw money on the bar and left. My husband thinks maybe he thought the (expensive) glass of wine should have been considered a tip. I don’t think he heard me, and I think he was just being generous and wanted us to try his wine. Yes, that is probably it.

The next night, there were two reservations at the same time. One was a pharmaceutical rep and his clients. The other was a medical equipment supply rep and his clients. I took the pharm party and Bread Boy took the equipment party. My table turned out to be a Pfizer rep, talking about Alzheimer’s, which was kind of depressing for me. I decided, though, it was better than having to listen to the conversation at Bread Boy’s table, a group of colorectal surgeons discussing exactly what features they look for in instruments to perforate and clamp the bowel (WHILE EATING DINNER).

There were seven people at my table. The Restaurant allows us to add an automatic gratuity to parties of six or more. I prefer not to do this. It seems pretentious to assume that I deserve a certain tip based solely on the number of people at the table. So I did not add the gratuity. The gentleman pulled out his calculator to figure the tip, which was lower than what the autograt would have been. This was fine; it was my choice to take that chance and I understand that many companies only allow their employees to tip a certain amount. He seemed to think he was tipping me very generously though. He asked if I got to keep the full tip amount and told me I had “a good gig going”. He also left an Aricept (Alzheimer’s medicine) pen with the check. I tried to return it to him, but he told me it was a gift, for my good service.

I am not sure what to do in the future about the auto gratuity situation. I am not very comfortable doing it. But maybe for company-sponsored dinners it would be accepted and advantageous to me? I also worry about inconsistencies; if I don’t do it, but another server does in the future, the customer may not appreciate it and think “well, they didn’t add a gratuity last time”. I really want to do what is best for the customer, the restaurant, and myself, not just financially, but supporting my sense of integrity.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feel compelled to post even though it is boring syndrome

Valentine’s Day was anti-climactic. I am talking about my evening at work. I remembered that the owners had some fondue set-ups from a previous establishment, so I suggested a chocolate fondue dessert. Being pretty busy and not even making any treats for my own family, I decided that was enough of a contribution to the dessert effort, (coming up with the idea), and decided not to make something myself. Bread boy made champagne poached pears, which looked pretty and smelled wonderful. Another server made a heart shaped napoleon. Our cook, M, decided to make a cake, even though he had never made one before, because “apparently there is some sort of dessert competition going on that no one told me about”. He broke it getting it out of the pan, but some of it was salvageable. With the two store-bought cheesecakes we had in stock, we had an actual dessert menu.

I wasn’t feeling well when I went in to work, with pain in my back and ribs and difficulty breathing. By the end of the evening, I was sent home and I went to the doctor the next day. He diagnosed me with a condition called costochondritis and said it was probably caused by a virus (but not contagious). I looked it up online and learned it can also be called Tietze Syndorme, or Slipped Rib Syndrome, or according to one site, " ‘fall asleep in the back seat of a crowded car syndrome.’ A person falls asleep in a crowded car with the door handle jutting into a rib. The rib slips out of place and the problem begins”, which I thought was oddly specific.

It was very painful for a few days, but now seems to be completely gone so I am relieved. My grandma has a bad cold and a constant cough. When she gets a cold, it usually turns into a month long illness. I am sitting here cringing each time she coughs. Any healing thoughts sent this way are welcome and appreciated.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Super Server and Bread Boy and the Dessert Dilemma

One night, at work, I had a customer complain about his meal. He prefaced the complaint with “You and your bread boy did a really good job, but…” (My coworker, R, had brought bread out to the table for me while I was making drinks.) I got a kick out of the term “bread boy” and have been using it as a nickname. To me, it sounds like a superhero sidekick. I told him we could be the dynamic duo of Super Server and Bread Boy.

When I started this blog, I pictured a lot of it being about my work life and the exhilarating world of food and behind the scenes restaurant drama. I know I haven’t been a frequent poster in general, but I really have had NOTHING to write about regarding The Restaurant because nothing happens there. Quite literally, some days I go in, set up the bar, clean the dining room and watch the door ‘til closing without a single customer. (I really should get a laptop and I could get some blogging done.)

Since I last posted, we have gone through several more chefs and a couple managers. The menu has been changed to very simple steaks, seafood, and pasta, and now The Restaurant doesn’t want to hire a new “chef”, just “good cooks”. So we have been through several good cooks. I think we have two cooks right now. We have had about twenty come and go.

One of the areas that is suffering most from our rotating cooks, or overworked cooks, is our dessert selection. I have never been happy with our dessert selection. I am learning that while “cooks” can cook steaks and seafood, even if they are not trained chefs, apparently no one can make a dessert unless he is a “pastry chef”. Almost everyone we have had in that kitchen, when asked to make desserts, has replied, “I’m not a pastry chef”. It is really embarrassing when someone asks to see the dessert tray, to have to say we have only one type of (store-bought) cheesecake. I think this will be especially disastrous on Valentine’s Day. So I have been trying to think of romantic desserts. The other night, Bread Boy called me and told me he was working on making a Chambord mousse, so he was thinking the same thing about V-day desserts. Last night, a bartender/ manager was printing off dessert recipes and said next Wednesday night he could make some desserts.

It is a week before Valentine’s Day, and we actually do have a lot of reservations for that night, and we have two servers and a bartender taking the initiative to plan and create a dessert menu. I will post what we come up with, but be forewarned, we are not pastry chefs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I want a cold frosty treat

I love raw milk. By raw, I mean, straight from the cow, not pasteurized, not homogenized. I used to go every other week to a farm and regularly get milk for my family. The farm is far away though, and with gas prices being so high, I decided I really could not afford it. I pay $6 a gallon for the milk. I think this is actually quite reasonable. (When I buy milk in the store, I usually pay $6+ a gallon for the organic milk.)

My birthday was Monday and I decided as a birthday treat I would treat myself to milk. As a birthday present, KPOW even drove me and paid for the gas. This really was such a great treat. (Her car even has heated seats.) I had a nice visit, and a pleasant ride, and I GOT MILK! I got 6 gallons and 1 ½ are already gone.

The milk is from a Jersey cow and has a thick layer of heavy cream on top. I know it is the middle of winter freezing, but I have to take advantage of this thick luscious cream (and the farm fresh eggs I got there) to make ice cream. Here is my super simple (and healthy) vanilla ice cream recipe:

3 egg yolks
1 T Vanilla
½ c Maple Syrup
1 c Whole Milk
2 C very thick cream (If not thick eliminate the milk and use 3 cups of cream)

Wisk the eggs, vanilla, and maple syrup together. In a large measuring cup mix the milk and cream until smooth. Add the cream mixture to the wisked ingredients and wisk again until well blended. Pour into your ice-cream maker and you are ready to go!

Chocolate Variation:
Add ¼ - ½ c of premium cocoa powder, and increase the maple Syrup to 2/3 cu if needed. Wisk in with the eggs Vanilla and maple syrup until smooth. Proceed with recipe!

Makes 1 – 1.5 qt of ice-cream.