Oct 27, 2016

Inconsequential Restaurant Things

I'm twisting this prompt a little.  A while ago I posted about memories I can't seem to shake, which are mostly things I regret.  This is in the same vein, but instead of examples of me being an awful person, it's mostly awful customers I had when I worked in the restaurant world.  Although I don't feature particularly well in the last one.

It might be because restaurants were the first jobs I ever had, or it might be because they happened at a time in my life when I was at my most vulnerable and insecure, but my bad restaurant memories just don't go away.  I had waitress nightmares for years after quitting my last restaurant job.  (You know, where you have too many tables and you can't remember what everyone ordered and you slowly lose control of it all until everyone is enraged with you.)

So here goes...

The Takeout Trash Talk

Before I moved all the way up to waiting tables, I worked the takeout counter.  Takeout was exciting because we had a tip jar (unlike being a hostess, which is where new employees would usually start) and occasionally people would drop a dollar or two in there.

I had a customer come up and place his order.  He handed me some cash and I was starting to get his change, when he said, "Wait" and handed me another dollar.  I wasn't sure what to make of this, and was trying to figure out how to politely ask if it was a tip, when he, impatient with the few second lapse in the exchange, did the math for me and told me how much change to give him.  Ah, not a tip.

Then he asked, "Where do you go to high school?"  I answered, confused by this seeming shift in topic and he asked, in this ridiculous, exasperated-with-the-stupidity-of-everyone-but-me tone, "Don't they teach math there?"

I could not think of a response and let it go and it will always, always infuriate me thinking back on it.

"I Used to Be a Waitress and I Know..."

Shortly after beginning to wait tables (with minimal training because this was a cheap burger place), I had a pretty normal table of ladies.  We exchanged the usual pleasantries and they seemed happy enough with their order.  What made them unique was that they were the first table I'd had who counted out exact change for their bill.

I took the check and their payment and then, stuck because in my scrip that's the part where I always said, "I'll be right back with your change" I stammered and said, "Uhhh... I guess you don't need any change.  Have a nice day!"

Then I forgot all about them and continued on my day until the end of my shift when my manager took me to the side and said, "A customer complained about you today."  Being my first complaint, I was in tears before she even finished explaining.  Apparently, said customer had waited tables before and she knew when people were being facetious and my comment about them not needing change had been rude and unnecessary.

Yep.  17-year-olds are always aware of every possible implication of their words and think things through thoroughly to give subtle insults.  She totally had me pegged.  (Seriously, though, if you get bad service at a fast food place or a restaurant and your cashier/server is a child, cut 'em some slack.  For fuck's sake, people.  We're not born automatically knowing the best way to handle every situation.)

The Entitled Youths and the Waitress Mistake

After waiting tables a couple years, and perhaps starting to head into burnout zone when you lose respect for all customers, and, indeed, most of humanity, I had a table of young 20-somethings.  They had needs.  No mayonnaise on his burger or he'd throw up all over the table.  No fruit on her plate, anywhere close to it.

They pissed me off.  It seems stupid now, but they were just so obnoxious with their order and they were loud and rowdy and I really didn't want to have be in the same room with these people.  So I was ready for some revenge.

Now, if restaurants were really like the movie Waiting, I'd have simply spit in the guy's drink and called it a day.  But I couldn't bring myself to do it, so I mixed some sprite and raspberry tea in with his coke to "make it taste gross" and decided that this tame revenge was good enough.

Unsurprisingly, he noticed, and, you might have already figured out where this is going, but the fruit-hater actually had a food allergy.  (Side note: if you have an allergy, TELL YOUR SERVER!  Not wanting fruit on the plate is not the same thing and I could very easy just remove it after the cooks garnish as usual without even realizing I might kill you.)  She hadn't consumed any of the tainted beverage, but, as they sternly lectured me, she could have and it would have been my fault if she died.

This story makes me squirm because, yes they were assholes, but I was too and it was so incredibly stupid.  What did I think was going to happen?  I didn't.  Because I was 19 and teenagers are dumb.

So yeah, those are the things I can't forget, as much as I wish I could and I know they're not important, to me, or to the world at large.

What are the inconsequential things that stick in your brain for no good reason?


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Oct 25, 2016

Some Thoughts About Think

I just finished Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World.  And when I tried to review it for SUYB, I ended up with 5+ paragraphs and knew it deserved its own post:

This book wasn't necessarily easy to read.  The first half is basically, "You're stupid" which no one wants to hear.  But... after making it through and being forced to open my eyes to a multitude of cultural and societal issues and admit that no, I don't educate myself as much as I should, I'm glad I read it.  Sometimes, especially in a society of participation trophies and being told how special you are from birth, we do need to hear that we're not the best and brightest and yes, we could and should be doing better.

Did you know that 22% of women would rather lose their ability to read than their figures?  What the what???  Did you know that 12-18% of women who have breast implants lose all sensation in their nipples AND that women with breast implants are 2-3 times more likely to get several different kinds of cancers?  The craziest part to me is not that people are willing to take these risks, it's that no one knows them because apparently we A) Don't care enough to research and B) Doctors aren't required to tell us (though they are required to tell us all the risks behind vaccines, go figure).  Bloom also points out that in our culture, looks are rewarded to such an extent that the people making these choices (figures over literacy) might actually be making the more career-minded choice.

Bloom talks about our obsession with celebrity culture, to the point that we completely ignored the genocide going on in Rwanda because we were busy being scandalized by the fact that our president had an affair.  To that point that most of us can't name a tiny piece of the humanitarian work done by Angelina Jolie but we all know and have opinions on her love life.  And you can say, "Oh, people don't want to focus their brain power overseas - they only care what happens in this country."  But do we?  Near the end of her tirade against the shallowness and vapidity of our society, Bloom pointedly reminds us that all the missing (and recovered) persons cases that have received long-standing national attention have had white victims.  Pretty white women, to be specific.  She lists a pile of cases concerning minority children that we have never and probably never will hear about because the media knows which demographic we care about.

I don't necessarily agree with all of Bloom's points, and Bloom admits she's not above it all - as a member of the media, she too wastes hours of her time on her appearance in order to be "camera ready."  But I do think the book very much accomplished its goal - it made me think and think hard.  I was all ready to give myself a pat on the back for not reading tabloids, and not wanting to waste money on plastic surgery or more than a fairly small amount of cosmetics and clothing, but this was a powerful reminder that there is a ton I don't know about.  And not because I'm young or haven't had a chance to learn about it yet.  I don't know it because I'm choosing not to seek that knowledge out.  I close my eyes and ears, avoid the news, google selective issues occasionally but the majority of the time choose to remain in the dark.

Bloom has me convinced that this is not an acceptable way to live.  Even if my only contribution to society is to educate myself, it's one I intend to start now.  So I've subscribed to BBC News (global) and NPR because they're the least biased channels I could find.  I'll try to pick up more "real" stories like I Am Malala and 3 Cups of Tea, and maybe a little less YA dystopia.  I don't know if I'll start donating money to global issues over domestic ones but at least I'll be making that decision with full knowledge of what that choice is.

I don't need to tell you guys to read, since most of you are avid book-devourers, but the second half of Bloom's book goes into "the solution" which is not just to read, but what to read and how to make time for it.  She has a few other points on health and family and time management, but my biggest takeaway was this.

You can't make good decisions without educating yourself and most of our country is uneducated.  Don't contribute to that problem.

I don't necessarily think you need to read the book to get that message, BUT I recommend it anyway, because I don't think this short summary can really hit home in the same way.  If for no other reason than to shock yourself, read the book and find out what you don't know.

What's a book you'd recommend even if you didn't necessarily enjoy reading it?  What books have you found the most impactful to your own life?

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Oct 23, 2016

Weekly Wins!

Another good week.  There's something to be said for tracking gratitude, I think.  Oh, and that "find work you love and you'll never work a day in  your life" saying?  That's doing good things for me lately.  Just fired up and ready to work all the time!

The Wins!


  • Got myself a UPS box (aka street address so I don't have to advertise my personal address) and updated a bunch o' business listings.  Fingers crossed for moving up in the search rankings!
  • Social media strategy built!  Boom!!!  Look out world, I'ma be sending you some "Graphic Design Fun Facts" this and the next 8 Fridays at the very minimum.
  • First WordPress client project in the works.  Learn new skills, get new clients.
  • Oh!  And in return for her awesome referral of said client, I revamped Kelli's logo - go look!  In't it purdy?


  • I was all set to say "First 5K since getting pregnant!" but it turns out the GPS wandered a bit and it was probably closer to 4.5 kilometers.  Whatever, longest run since... I don't even know when.  Last year, possibly?  Go me.

Happiness Project

  • Accidental book swap.  I was just trying to do the chain thing going around on FB and then my friends who commented were displeased that it wasn't a regular swap, so I made it one.  It's not super social, but I'm still kind of tickled that I accidentally organized a thing I've always been too wimpy to do.  And I feel weirdly proud of myself for listening to feedback and then finding a way to make it work after all.


  • I'm kind of letting personal life and having a clean house and all that get away from me, BUT I did finally manage to get some party planning and prep done over a week in advance, so hopefully I won't be scrambling Friday night/Saturday morning to throw it all together.

Thoughts and Plans for Next Week

  • Halloween par-tay!  I love planning these, almost more than the actual event.  In any case, I hope it's fun.

What victories did you have last week?  What's in the works for the upcoming week?

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Oct 20, 2016

The Causes I Care About

I'm pretty sure I've written about this before, but since Alyssa's linkup topics offer this as an option, I'll get back on my soapbox.

I don't donate to charity nearly as much as I should or would like to.  But, after attending a TEDx event in Philly, I was really struck by the idea one of the speakers, Katherina Rosqueta discussed:

High-Impact Philanthropy

The whole concept is putting your money where it can do the most good.  A lot of us donate when it's convenient or when someone or something reminds us to.  And there is nothing wrong with that!  But I don't think it's any secret that not every charity or nonprofit is created equal.  There are operating costs and not all of them manage those as efficiently as they could.  Some pay their chief officers what I would deem an excessive amount.  And others contribute in ways that aren't as efficient as they could be.

One of the Rosqueta's examples was the food bank.  I'm sure you've participated in a can drive.  We all have.  Did you go out and buy some canned food for it?  As Rosqueta pointed out, had you merely donated that money to the food bank instead of buying a can, which would then need to be transported, the food bank could have acquired much, much more food than the one or two cans you donated.  The food bank has resources we do not, and even access to free food from oversupply and mislabeled products at various grocery stores/vendors, so what they really need is money to cover transportation costs.  Basically they can do a lot more with that money than we can, so it makes far more sense to donate cash rather than pre-purchased food.

The one charity I do donate to monthly (and would advocate!!!) is the Nurse-Family Partnership.  They aim to provide access to nurses for underprivileged (and often underaged) mothers.  This support helps to maintain the mother and child's physical health, mental health, and improves childhood learning outcomes and increases the chances that the child will go on to college and successfully find a career.

I'm all about education, personally, because I feel like that's one way to improve the future, rather than just slapping a band aid on the present, but I understand that everyone has different causes they feel passionate about.  Regardless of what type of issue you want to help out with, I do highly recommend checking out the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, because they have a list of the organizations they feel make the most impact, organized by issue type, with all the research that went into making that conclusion.  Or you could do what my mom did and pick something from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who did their own research to deduce which issues most impact society before deciding where to send their money.

I'm hoping as I continue into my career and earn more money, I can continue to pick charities off the list that appeal to me, but for now there's one other thing I like and would recommend.

Monthly $5 Freebie

Everyone has their own pet charities and I hate to be all stodgy when someone says, "I'm participating in a [walk/5K/bike/etc].  Will anyone help us out?"  I used to agonize over every single on of these instances and sometimes I'd donate and sometimes I wouldn't and it was always a different amount.  Now I give myself $5 a month to spend wherever I want.  A dog down in South Carolina needs surgery?  Sure.  Yeah, if I thought about it logically, I might decide that that $5 would do "more good" going to a shelter that helps lots of dogs, but it called to me and $5 isn't enough that I really need to worry about whether I made the most logical choice for it.

I've donated $5 to ALS, MS, to kickstarters for someone whose house was burned down as a hate crime, someone who needed brain surgery, a funeral for a family member of a friend, and so on.  It feels good to be able to do something even if that something is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

What are your pet charities?  Have you heard of high impact philanthropy and, if not, did I convince you???


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Oct 18, 2016

Something I Wish I Knew and Something I Hope to Remember

Finally linking up with Alyssa!  Alyssa's Back to Blogging challenge had 2 prompts that go very nicely together, so here's my...

One Thing I Wish I Knew One Year Ago

One year ago, I was very recently married and I was also nerving myself up to drop down to part time in order to pursue this freelance thing.  We had (and still have) a lot of life changes coming up, but the lesson is the same for all of them:

You can do it!!!

I was mildly terrified at the idea of being financially dependent on Ryan and not knowing where my income would be coming from.  As it turns out, my part time job actually does cover my monthly expenses pretty tidily and, while I definitely don't have as much play money as Ryan, I've had a pretty steady range for my freelance income.  Yes, budgeting is helpful for the slow months, but I'm not struggling and I'm not begging money from friends and family, and it's all working out just fine.

Marriage, on the other hand, I had no fears about.  I did not expect it to be hard, and that was dumb.  It is hard.  Incredibly so at times.  But in this too, I am stronger than I realized and I can do it.  So I think in general, I'd want myself to have more faith in my own strength and ability to grow and adapt.


One Thing I Want to Remember About Today

Maybe not literally today, but the past couple weeks as some projects picked up steam and I started getting immersed in the busy-ness of business, I want to remember the slow moments.  There weren't many, but the ones we had were very poignant and sweet.

Sitting on the couch with Ryan, doing our "kick count"* and thinking about this new life we'll have in 3.5 short months.  Exchanging glances at a wedding we attended and sharing the thoughts we had while watching 2 other people pledge their lives together.  Goofing off and playing Zelda together, which wouldn't normally be that special, but when it's the only downtime you've scheduled for yourself all week?  Hells yeah, that was fun.

So I guess what I'm saying is we've hit a sweet spot and, bringing this back to lessons I've learned, while I might once have been tempted to cling to it desperately, hoping to extend it as long as possible and push back the future hard times, I know better now.  All you can do is enjoy it while it's here and, hopefully, hold it in your memory for the next time things get rough.

And that's probably enough sappiness from me today.  What do you wish you'd know one year ago?  What do you want to remember?

*In case anyone was curious, the kick count is when you literally count the movements you feel from the baby and make sure you get up to at least 10 in a 2 hour period.  I think the idea is to get used to monitoring so you notice if there's any big changes in pattern - like if movement drastically slows or stops, so you can let your doctor know asap.


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Oct 17, 2016

Weekly Wins

I totally forgot to post this during a weekend filled with social events and client projects (whoop whoop!), so I'll go ahead and do it now.

The Wins!


  • So Good They Can't Ignore You convinced me that I needed to A) Continue stretching my skills by taking on projects I don't already know how to do and B) Solicit more feedback.  So I sent my website to a free user testing site (Peek) and laughed my butt off at the strong British accent declaring that my site had "an awful lot of flourishes" but was overall easy to use.
  • I also found a graphic design forum for project critiques since I was too chicken to go back to Reddit after an unfortunate incident a few years ago.  So far this community seems both nicer and more educated on the topic, but we'll see.  I just submitted my first project for critique so helpfully they're helpful!
  • New client!!!  Referred by the awesome Kelli AND in need of a Wordpress website, which is a skill I conveniently picked up these past few weeks.


  • Family dog park/jogging days.  It's a little challenging to run with 2 dogs and keep them both on the side out from under my feet (and other people's) but Toast is a surprisingly good little runner!  She's just got so much energy.
  • Yoga with my mom.  This is probably the most consistent exercise I get and we've found some fun prenatal videos!  Although our last one was ridiculous.  Harder than some of our non-pregnancy yoga videos and all kinds of silliness like, "Flow from down dog into cobra, keeping your belly just off the floor."  Why not just do something that's not based on a pose that's on your stomach, eh?

Happiness Project

  • Meetup attended!  Rather spur of the moment, but I was browsing and found a "women in tech" group that was having a class on social media branding, which sounded right up my alley.
  • Also brunch, lunch, and a wedding.  The past week was jam-packed.


  • I was just happier this week than I have been.  Exhausted and craving some alone time, but overall very happy.

Thoughts and Plans for Next Week

  • I specifically did NOT make plans for this weekend because I knew if I had social stuff going on every other weekend, I'd be burned out.  Technically we have a gaming session, but that's not quite as draining for some reason.
  • I really need to get on my party planning.  We have 2 weeks until Halloween and I really want to have some actual game type stuff to go along with the standard, "let's drink and talk."  Plus it's October 17th and our house isn't decorated!  What is this madness???

What victories did you have last week?  What's in the works for the upcoming week?

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Oct 13, 2016

The Best Relationship Advice I've Ever Received

When I saw the movie Waiting, I felt 2 things: 1) Appalled at the nasty kitchen stuff they showed because our kitchen did none of that but forever after I had to reassure terrified customers that no, they wouldn't get their food spit on if they wanted their burger cooked a little longer and 2) Highly amused by the character cliches, because they were spot on.

We had our cranky, don't-take-no-shit waitresses who had been there way too long, we had the young and innocent new hostesses who hadn't been made cynical by years of restaurant work, we had the cooks who liked to joke and play games.  (Seriously, though, guys.  It was an open kitchen.  Nothing happened back there.  The worst thing they did was throw cheese on the wall and yeah, a customer complained about that even though it was nowhere near their food.)  We did not have a savvy, charming know-it-all server like Ryan Reynolds BUT we did have my favorite character, the eccentric semi-wise-semi-insane cook who dispensed his wisdom.

Cam was a grizzled man in his 50s, with Samuel Jackson-esque eyes, wide and slightly crazy.  He was entertaining, but I didn't pay much attention to him until the night he decided I was in need of his sage advice.  With his restaurant hat on backwards and apron tied around his hips, he ushered me into a booth and asked me how my relationship was doing.  What followed was 45 minutes of an intense, face-to-face lecture, most of which I can no longer recall.  But the bits that stuck with me are these:

  • People tend to choose a partner based on the holes in their own personality
  • You shouldn't be with someone who completes you.  You should be with someone who complements you.  They can make you better, but you can't rely upon them.
And honestly, I have no idea if he came up with this stuff on his own, but as an impressionable 19 year old in a shit relationship, it was some powerful stuff.

But that's not all!  I have also been on the receiving end of wisdom from the crazy, possibly homeless man at the bus stop!  After he (black) reassured me that it was ok, he was actually white because he was born in Australia and all their birth certificates say white, so go ahead and admit that white is better, I started to pointedly ignore him and refuse to make eye contact.  So, deciding that race wasn't a good topic, he decided to move on to relationships.

Still avoiding eye contact and staring down at my book pretending to read, I couldn't help overhearing this gem:
  • Your partner can't come first.  This is the order that it needs to go in: 1) God 2) Yourself 3) Your hand.  Because your hand was around before your partner ever was and your hand will be there when your partner is gone and 4) Then your partner.  They only come after everything else.
So cutting out the religious and masturbation parts of that lesson, yeah I suppose I can agree that you should put yourself first.  And it really was something I needed to hear at that time.  Of course, crazy homeless man really had nothing on Cam, whose potential insanity just added to his charm.  I believe Cam was later fired for stealing steaks, but I've always appreciated that conversation.

Have you ever had wisdom come from an unexpected source?

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