Friday, December 27, 2013

No Wishes For Normalcy In 2014

   Once again Christmas has come, and now Christmas is gone, and even though the tree is still up, and will be for a good while, I find myself having to adjust to some normalcy. No hidden gifts in the closet, no more teasing the kiddo about One Direction presents all wrapped under the tree, the ballet The Nutcracker has come and gone, and everything is over. Normalcy invades this apartment like a thick mist....
   Wait, who's apartment am I talking about here? Normalcy: no. I walked in the door from work this evening and my daughter starts shrieking at me that I have to save her because she's offended the penguins and they are gonna get her, and here I am standing in the doorway -- shell-shocked -- wondering what the hell has been going on in my house while I have been gone. Fair warning, don't offend the penguins.
   And so far as I am concerned, this is imagination at it's finest. My daughter doesn't mope around bored. She finds something to do, and keeps entertained, even if that entertainment involves vengeful penguins. This is me being glad that I get to come home to full scale penguin wars going on in my living room. Because otherwise, life would just be boring.
    I hope all of you that celebrate Christmas had a wonderful one. For those of you who celebrate other things, I hope, whatever those other celebrations were, that they were equally wonderful. I hope you don't come home to a calm and quiet apartment, but to your own version of penguin wars, whether they involve eleven (almost twelve) year old little girls or not. I hope your life is anything BUT normal, and I hope that you understand what you have been blessed with.
   As I go through this end of the old year, I hope that whatever comes new in 2014, I never wish for normalcy. Maybe you have a humdrum job, maybe your finances are a tangled mess and the money stress is giving you stomach issues, or maybe you are just plain sad, but if you come home to a little bit of off-the-wall, harmless silliness, and you are smart enough to laugh and find your sense of humor, I think you are going to be okay. At least, that is how I have decided to view things in this home. And we have made it alright so far. So this is me wishing that in the new year to come, you find your own vengeful penguins, and that whatever comes your way, you laugh and get through it as painlessly as possible.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pregnant Redheaded Waitresses Named Pepper

   A long, long time ago, one of my first jobs I help was as a server. I worked at a bar and grill, which will remain nameless, and I was eighteen. This job was brought to mind because I recently shared a post on my facebook page about the need to raise servers' wages. Many of them do not even make minimum wage; their employers pay them less then minimum wage (I was paid around $2.13/hr if memory serves), and tips are expected to make up the difference. Except then you run into the issues such as slow operation hours, when there are not enough customers to make the difference unless they ALL tip heavily, which isn't fair to expect, and there are bad tippers, and then there are the places that require servers to tip out to bus boys and hostesses, regardless of what they made in tips. All these things add up, and some places are so packed that maybe the servers still walk away with good money, but not every place is like that. But really, I digress, because my story today is not about the need for a living wage for all jobs. All this rallying for servers brought to mind a story that took place when I was in training at the bar and grill that I served for.
   I had several different trainers during my training period, but the particular story that I have in mind took place with a redheaded, pregnant server, who was named, I kid you not, Pepper. You can't make this stuff up. My trainers were showing some concern over my shyness, because though some of you will not believe it, I was shy. Well, maybe not so much shy as I didn't really want to talk to these people. I didn't mind taking orders and refilling drinks, ect., but this was the South, and everybody wants to talk to everybody, and I didn't want to talk to any of them. So, not super friendly. You wouldn't be waiting for you food forever, but if you wanted to talk about the virtues of the various nightclubs or casinos in the area, I was not the server for you.
   So they worried about that, most of them. Not Pepper. She was a very blunt person, and she didn't really mess around. She told me what tables to take, and then just got on with watching me. She was heavily pregnant, and probably appreciated the break. She didn't care if I was pissing people of left and right; she just wanted to rest her feet a bit. I can't blame her for that. But there came this point when we were slammed and we got seated all eight of her tables at once. One of the tables was a large party; I can't remember how many, only that we had to put a few tables together just to seat them. Now, Pepper took this order because she didn't think I could handle a large party yet, and I took the smaller orders, but at one point, after their main courses had been served, one of the men in the party grabbed my arm as I was passing, and pulled me to the table.
   "This is unacceptable!" he complained, pointing at his half-eaten steak.
   I was confused; I hadn't taken this table, so I wasn't sure what the problem was, but I made a go at it, "Is it cold? Or not cooked right?" I asked.
   "This steak is the blandest steak I have ever tasted! Did you even put any seasoning at all on it?!?"
   Well, no, I didn't. Servers don't cook the food, they just bring the food to the table. I didn't know if the cook had put the seasonings on the steak or not, this wasn't my job. And I didn't know how to handle this. Today, I would have been more aggressive, especially after being grabbed and pulled on because in no way do I tolerate being touched, and probably I would have been fired as a result, but remember, this is back in the day, before I was a mom: one of my first jobs. But I wasn't left hanging, because Pepper had been keeping an eye on me even though we had been working independently for a short while. So in a flash, she was over at the table saying, "This is my trainee, and she may not know how to help you. How can I help you?"
   The man at this point, thrust the whole plate into Pepper's middle. Pepper's occupied-with-a-baby middle. Bad move with any woman, but when you are talking about a redhead named Pepper, who also happens to be pregnant, bad, baaaaaad move. Before I knew what was happening, she smashed the whole plate to the floor, had the manager over at the table, and was screaming, "This asshole just threw his fucking plate into my stomach!"
   I have never seen a more frightened manager. Normally, a manager might have comped the meal and gave a bullshit apology, because even though this man was in no way right, managers tend to try to keep people coming back to bring in that revenue. Sometimes they take this too far, but that wasn't going to be an issue in this case. I think that the manager was scared of Pepper; I certainly was. Don't mess with pregnant redheaded waitresses named Pepper.
   I can't really remember what happened with that family. I do know that several of the women were stammering embarrassed apologies to me; I think they were also too afraid of Pepper to apologize to her directly. I didn't hold that job a year. I wasn't fired, but I quit. I couldn't work there; serving is so much more difficult that people think. Putting in an order is not all there is to the job. Like many jobs, there are issues and problems that people don't even see or think of until they actually have to do the job themselves. I didn't last, that's all I know. Serving remains my worst work experience ever. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sometimes We Just Need To Be Angry

   'Tis the season to be jolly, and usually, I am jolly at this time of year. I love Christmas. But I am not jolly right now. I am the furthest thing from jolly, in fact, that I could possibly be. And I am gonna snap at the next jackass who tells me to smile or that things could be worse. Well, of course things could be worse. Things can always be worse, and I know that right now, I have friends going through things that are far worse than what I am going through, and my heart bleeds for them. The fact that their misfortunes are worse than mine does little to make me feel better, however. I'm not entirely sure that they would want me to feel better just because they are having a harder time than me. That's a crappy reason to feel better.
   As for smiling, sometimes that small movement of muscle is the hardest thing to do. Faking a smile, contrary to popular belief, does not make you feel better. I know; I work in customer service, and I fake smiles all day long. ALL DAY LONG. Doesn't make a bad day better. A real smile, yes, that would probably help, but sometimes, that just isn't forthcoming. And I think that this is okay, sometimes. Don't get me wrong, you don't want to wallow in misery. You don't want to work on feeling badly, blotting out every single good thing because, dammit, you feel bad. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying though, is that sometimes you are dealt a crappy hand, and so long as you don't let that anger or sorrow, or whatever emotion you are feeling, stop you from pushing forward, then it's alright to just feel badly and admit that you are not a happy little ball of bleeping sunshine.
   It's been a rough few weeks for me. My daughter is dealing with a harsh grading system in school, and for the first time, she has found herself struggling with bad grades. We are dealing with family drama from people that I really wish I could just cut out of our lives, except that legally, I can't. And my daughter has dealt with a creeper at the bus stop. Not a fun time for us, and on top of all that, we deal with the usual drama that people like to pile up on you during this time of year. You probably know what this drama is, so I won't bore you by making the list of all the little petty bullshit things that people like to start pulling out and airing during the holiday season.
   And people keep saying, "Be happy, Marie." And I'm all like, "If you would just give me two f***ing seconds to be pissed, I would be a lot happier."
   Maybe that doesn't make a lot of sense to you. But to me, this makes the ultimate sense. Sometimes people just need time to be mad. Then, they can get over whatever they are mad about, and start to feel better. Especially when they have good reason to be mad in the first place. I mean, my daughter and all the other kids waiting for the bus, they were all harassed by a pervert creeper while waiting for the bus. Isn't that a good reason to be pissed? Why do I have to smile at you right now? The answer is: I don't.
  That doesn't mean that I won't, eventually. I have a lot of things to look forward to. My daughter's honor choir concert is coming up, and I always like to go hear my baby sing. This coming weekend, my whole family is also going to go see the Pacific Northwest Ballet's version of the Nutcracker. Plus, I really love Christmas! And I have the best daughter ever, and a good life. So yes, I will feel better. But right now, I'm pissed, and I see no reason not to just let myself be pissed. We've gone through a lot of bad things these last couple of weeks, and I'm tired and stressed and disillusioned, and dammit, I'm really freaking mad. I do have the right, and also the need, to have that emotion. At times, we all do. If you want to see a happy, rainbows-coming-out-the-bung-hole person, go put in Mary Poppins. She ain't here, though, so don't look for her. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

   This morning, I woke up, with a brain that was not yet functioning, and found myself contemplating my foot. You see, my foot was cold, and in my groggy, I-just-woke-up-and-can't-think state, I couldn't figure out why my foot was cold. I stretched my toes out, wondering what the heck was going on, when I FINALLY realized that I was missing my sock, and with a shriek that would put a banshee to shame, I dove back into my blankets and found the runaway sock.
   How cold is the weather right now where you are? Some of you are going to laugh your asses off at me, because I am complaining about weather that is in the teens and twenties, and you are gonna be looking at numbers in the negatives. I can't remember where this place was located, but I remember somewhere in the states, they hit a record breaking low of -39 degrees, and I swear, I felt my skin attempting to get frost bite just at the thought of that type of cold -- just at the very thought! I have a friend who posted on her facebook page that she was having a 'warm spell' at -7 degrees, and I just about died. I can't deal with that cold!!!
   Once upon a time, I did live in a chilly-ass place called South Dakota. Maybe I have lived in colder places, but I don't remember them. I do remember South Dakota however, and I do remember blizzards and snow so deep that you could tunnel in it; I remember snow forts and snowmen and snowball fights with the neighbors. I remember liking that stuff.
   My daughter wants to build some of her own snow memories. Ever since we hit November, she has been praying for snow. Hoping, begging, all that good stuff, while I am over here frantically thinking, "Hush your mouth!" Because I don't want snow. I don't want to go outside and try to  scrap the thin layering of slush that we get and call snow, into something resembling a snowman. I don't want to get hit in the back with an icy wad of melting snow that will soak into my coat and drip down my back. No thanks; not me.
   Don't look at me to participate in that crap now. I am the wet blanket of winter fun. In case you hadn't noticed, that stuff's cold! You see, after we lived in South Dakota, we moved to Mississippi. My dad did some overseas work while we stayed there, and then he eventually retired, and we stayed in Mississippi. What does that have to do with cold weather? Well, ever since I was nine years old, I have been having Christmases that were in the 60's, 70's, and sometimes even the friggen 80's. My body got used to hot weather.
   Of course, then  I moved up here, and those of you where reading over the summer know this already, and once I had lived here for a few years, I lost my tolerance to extreme heat. As kids, we used to run out the door in 110 degree heat (although honestly, we were usually looking for some sort of body of water to go jump in), but now 80 feels too hot. But here I am saying that 20 is too cold. So what the hell do I want already? Well, I should think that the answer to that question was obvious. I just want the temperature to be in the 60's and 70's year round. Is that really too much to ask for? 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

One Direction Woes

   Ahhh. Christmas time is coming. I love Christmas. My family loves Christmas. My sister has had her apartment decorated for Christmas since Halloween, which is nuts. But it's her apartment, and this is her right. However, I feel like a Grinch whenever I walk into her apartment, because while her apartment looks like a Christmas-y wonderland, I have a tree. And that tree was decorated by my daughter, because I didn't want to do it. If my daughter hadn't gleefully accomplished this task, we would just have a bare tree. Someone should just follow me around playing "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch." Except I really do love Christmas -- I just don't like decorating. Everything you put up must eventually come down, and I don't feel like doing all this extra work.
    Anyway, we do the whole gifts at Christmas thing. I know that I have heard some people express that gifts take away the meaning of Christmas, and that Santa has taken over a day made for Christ, but I think that both can coexist. They do in my home at the least, so I leave this how I always leave issues such as this, you do what you want, I will do what I want, and we won't hurt each other and call each other nasty names, and all will be well. And to those of you who don't celebrate, Happy whatever-you-do-celebrate. I wish you much joy. My family just happens to celebrate Christmas, and my story today revolves around our tradition.
    Some families wait until Christmas Eve to put out gifts, but we don't do that. We generally place all the gifts out except the ones specifically from Santa (who is based off a Catholic Saint, Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of children, and others but I'm not giving a Catholic history lesson here) and the presents from Santa are the ones that are placed out on Christmas Eve, after the kiddos go to bed.

This is what our tree looks like right at this moment.

   Which leads us to the fact that my daughter has seen some of the wrapped presents under the tree, and she began to playfully try to guess what they were. So I began to playfully suggest things that they could be, but I picked things that she would absolutely hate to get. In doing this, I hit on One Direction. My daughter hates the boy-band One Direction. She doesn't like the music, doesn't want the assorted items with their faces plastered all over, and doesn't wanna watch the 'movie' of the tours. So I started suggesting that these gifts under the tree where things like One Direction CDs, One Direction action figures, One Direction pajamas, and a One Direction poster, that I suggested that she could tack to the ceiling of her room, right above her bed, so that when she opened her eyes, the first thing she saw would be their faces.
   This horrified her, which was so much fun, that I followed around after her for days, suggesting every time she looked at the tree, that perhaps she was excited to get all of her One Direction presents. She would put her face in her hands, and pretend to cry, while laughing, because after all, she knows that I would no more do this than set the house on fire. I don't care for One Direction any more than she does, and giving her all this would place me in direct contact with all of their music. Plus, that would just be mean, and while I like to do a little teasing, I abhor meanness.
    However, today my little kiddo had a really bad day. And for a few moments I didn't quite realize how bad she felt, and I fell into teasing her. Her response, "If it's really all One Direction, just burn it. I don't want anything." Poor little silly-head. Momma's done teasing you. At least for a while. (And she got a giant hug and assurances that she was NOT getting One Direction.)