Sunday, November 23, 2008

I never really thought about the day when the insanity of waitressing would seem like routine. The learning curve was not as long as I thought it would be, which leads me to believe that this all has a lot more to do with inherent qualities, like a level head and thick skin, than the ability to remember a PLU. But it's hard to be introspective about something nobody ever really thinks about. Most customers look at me the same way they look at the giant plant in the middle of the dining room.

But at any rate, it has all become quite routine. My fingers know how to roll cutlery without me even having to look at what I'm doing. My apron is beggining to wear at the hips, where it rubs when I walk across the dining room; I can balance just about anything in one hand and use the other. I have bad ankles, and even on my days off I half expect them to start hurting at around noon, and I'm always surprised when they don't and feel a bit off kilter. I've become accustomed to a little lift when I pick of a plate and feel it warm on my palm, because it's always cold in the restaurant.

G. likes an extra egg on his croque madame. S. likes her cappucino extra hot.

I try not to notice that my tips are higher when I wear a particular skirt of mine that rises well above the knee. I try harder not to notice myself wearing it more often shortly before rent is due.

It made my day on Tuesday when Austria complimented my service. I remembered his small water glass and extra napkin to hold his sandwich. When he gruffly told me that I "may serve him again", I actually grinned from ear to fucking ear and bragged to eveyone in the kitchen. It took Coworker, who Austria once brought to tears, telling me not to take that bullshit from him for me to realise that that was, in fact, bullshit.

I serve people high quality food all day, and tonight I had dinner at a fast food place after counting my change to make sure I could. Austria had been weighing heavily on my mind. I haven't saved a penny, and I only went out to escape the fact that I float on the surface of my house, trying not to notice how out of place I am. Nobody ever philosophizes about waitressing, nobody ponders the effects an eight-hour day without breaks might have - if anyone is thinking that hard at all, it's about Bigger Questions, sitting in some cafe, looking at their waitress like she's that goddamn plant.

I don't think about Bigger Questions much anymore. I only think about remembering to fold the napkins. Every once in awhile, though, I sit in this tiny bedroom on my broken bed and wonder what I'm doing when I can't even tell the days apart.

I'm reading a book, slowly, that is the memoirs of a waitress. It wasn't exactly a big seller, obviously, and I don't think anyone except other waitresses ever read it, but every once in awhile I nibble through it when my brain is too tired for the Shakespeare I promised myself I wouldn't stop reading. I was reading it over 'dinner' tonight, and I almost cried when I read this passage:

"Perhaps, when he first met me, Dominic mistook me for an image of some diner waitress he had in his imagination: a poor working girl struggling to raise a kid on her own and desperately in need of a man to fix everything for her. I couldn't fault him too much in this. For a brief while, I thought I was that waitress, too. In any case, though, I'd been paving my own way for much too long to become the 'girl' Dominic was looking for."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This week has been much more mellow than most. The reason is that Stressball Boss has been out of town on - vacation? Fuck if I know.

Don't get me wrong. I love my boss. She's wonderful and fun and maternal towards all of us young 'uns. But Dear God, that woman can stress like none other. And it's the contagious sort of stress, wherein every lunch rush, we'll be plugging along just fine, until...


And next thing we know, we're all likewise. It's bad enough that several of the baristas have started pulling her decafs to help ease the situation.

With SBB gone, however, things have been much calmer. Today was a bit nuts for awhile; not because of business, but because the Incredible Genius' of the Fridge People decided that, yeah, 12:30 is a good time to show up at restaurant to istall a new fridge.

Yeah. 12:30. You won't be getting in anyone's way THEN.

(Our old fridge was quite the curmudgeon, in it's own nearly-charming way. We'd had it repaired about three times before, but once every week or so, we'd show up to find all of our milk soured. A morning without cappucino is not a good morning at all.)

The whole week-without-boss theory was all well and good until today, which was supposed to be tipout day. I came back to work about an hour ago, as prescribed, to pick up my tips, and found that I'd only been left tips for yesterday, instead of for all of last weeks. Uh. No. But, since SBB was absentee and her husband had again left for their other restaurant, there was nothing to be done. So I pocketed my shitty tips, and vowed to raise hell tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My luxurious three-day weekend is going to come to a screeching halt tomorrow morning, when I have to get up at Fucking Early o'clock for work. Oh well. Everything has been closed for the past two days, and if I don't get a decent cappucino in me soon, ugly things will happen.

I was walking home from the elementary school, where I mentor a sweet little girl once a week with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and I came across an apple tree, slightly off the road, loaded with apples. I mean loaded. I mentioned it to Coffeeboy later, and next thing I knew, we were stealing away after dark with canvas bags, on a full-on fruit glean.

It really angers me to see fruit go to waste like that. Half of them were already rotting on the ground. Perfectly good apples! There are people starving!

It also really amazes me the capacity this area has to grow food. I live right in the area where the 100 Mile Diet took place and was written. While reading, I flapped around with ridiculous glee every time the authors mentioned a place I'd been. Hey! Hey everyone! It's a book! And they're talking about that place I went!

A single apple tree yielded twelve pounds of apples. We started just picking the ones at arms length, but it was infuriating to pick through tiny-assed brown apples and watch plump, red ones sway carelessly above us. So the tree was climbed, Coffeboy's shoulders were sat on, and we gleaned that tree's ass off.

We also stumbled across an abandoned grape vine right next to it, obviously not tended to in years, growing on a rotting trellace. Best grapes ever. Most were red, some were green, all were tart and the most flavorfull grapes I've ever eaten. They were turned into awesome juice at 2 a.m. this morning.

I picked up some jars today, so Coffeeboy and I are making apple butter tonight. There will be pie. And applesauce.

Did I mention that Coffeeboy grew up on a farm? My little urbanite! He knows all sorts of useful farmish things, like What Kind Of Apple This Is and How To Can It. There were pigs, there were birds of all sorts, there were 88 acres. I'm starting to feel a bit farmish myself tonight.

Friday, November 7, 2008


M. called me last night to make sure I was going to karate. He wanted to go grab a coffee pre-training, and 'talk about some stuff'.

Turns out, he's seing someone new. I didn't have a real strong reaction to it - it seems a bit odd for me to imagine, but on the whole, I'm pretty OK with it. I've had some seriously mixed feelings towards M. for the past couple months, ranging from what I'm now calling a relapse, to platonic friendship, to some pretty severe resentment (not having to do with our history, more along the karate lines.... 'nother story) to a weird sort of void that I have right now. I don't really feel anything towards him, good or bad; in fact, I probably wouldn't notice if I just lost contact with him.

Which, on one hand, is incredibly sad. We were inseperable for four years. He was the best friend I've ever had, even if he's not anymore. On the other hand, it's nice to be able to hear that he's seeing someone and not have a huge load of drama. It's weird, it's a bit shitty, but on the whole, it's OK.

What bothered me more was when he asked me for his spare keys back. He'd given me my old key back when we 'relapsed'. And, in retreospect, that was fucked up - it was like I walked into my old life, and just picked up where I left off, barely noticing the year-ish lapse.

I hadn't thought about the keys in a long time - I think I forgot I had them. But I dutifully, and a bit awkwardly, pulled them off my keychain and gave them to him last night. And don't think my head wasn't spinning metaphors about one direction being closed off the me, completely, now. Before I had the mindset of a standing offer from him; should this all get too scary, I still have the keys and I can still walk back into my crushingly empty, mercifully easy life.

Not anymore. That offer is gone, and it's very likely that someone else is using my keys, to get into my home, to sleep in my bed, tonight.

Bitch better not pet my cat.

(I kid, I kid.)

This all got me thinking about my home. As I`ve said, it`s not really a home to me right now. It`s more a place to keep my clothes, and I wander in and back out of it for about an hour a day. Still, I`m not ready to accept another standing offer, this one from Coffeeboy, to officially pack up my clothes and move them to his house. He has more than ample closetspace, but I still come with a lot of baggage, and I came to the decision that I need to drastically reduce it before trying to cram it in said closet. So we`ll continue as we are for now, even if it does feel filthily like camping.

He was a bit hurt, but reassured when I said it will more than likely happen in time. He has a similar skeleton in the closet, a three-year deal that wasn`t live-in but close. He understood. Still determined to take a step forward, however, Coffeeboy came up with a plan.

He showed up at the Cafe today. It was a very busy day - the sort where I wind up working 8-5 with no break. When he showed up at around 3, I was running around chasing after drinks, standing listlessly by while customers took a table vote on whether to get baguette or miche while the cook shouted frantically that my food for 5 was getting cold, and explaining the goddamn specials every five minutes. I finally had a second to say hi, as I was rolling the cutlery we inevitably ran out of. He said, `here, this will cheer you up - hold out your hand.` And he handed me - yup, you guessed it - one brand new silver key.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Well, at least it's nice to hear of some politics that don't revolve around who-said-what-to-which-Sensei-in-who's-dojo bullshit.

And it was certainly nice last night to get involved in some local politics, instead of getting caught up in the American stuff. Coffeeboy and I went to our city council's open forum to hear them discuss local issues, like the fact that we sunk $72.5 million last year on a goddamn conference center, and have yet to build a hotel that can hold $72.5 million worth of suites for me to serve coffee to. (The conference center is about two doors up from the cafe). Well, dur, of course it hasn't paid for itself yet. And the fact that homelessness around here is rampant, which is easy for all the North-enders to ignore, but a little bit more difficult to dismiss when you, like most downtowners, know the names and history of at least half a dozen of them. These people where our neighbours, not too long ago,

(Sidenote: Coffeeboy and I both made plans to go before we even talked to each other - me because I read about it in the paper, and he because he got an email from our local Popular Participation Movement. And he had a hand in organizing a massive protest against said homelessness on campus, involving dirty students getting even dirtier as they are currently camping out in mock-homeless style. How goddamn awesome is he?!)

I heard interesting theories from a few candidates. My favourite was the awesome! idea of inviting MORE big box stores to our already swamped small-ish town. Yeah! They save the consumer money! Never mind the fact that the consumer can't spend ANY money if her small business / her employer's small business is run into the ground. Whatevs. Walmart, ho!

There was one candidate, as well, who gave a bad name to lefties. Purely insane. It looked a lot like a like fire-and-brimstone righty, except, well, left. I suppose both sides have their ace flyers.

I'm super glad I went, because I revised my vote a lot. As in, it's almost completely different now. There were 26 candidates, which is far too many if you ask me, because I wound up resorting to note-taking to keep track of who said what. But I think I've got it sorted out. I was really happy to see downtown represented, including both my old boss from Rowdy Fast Food Place and a friend who's pamphlets were all designed by Graphic Designer Coffeeboy.

Unfortunately, I have to miss the mayoral forum tonight for karate. 'Cuz, as much as I love heckling our assmunch of a mayor and then awkwardly having to serve him his sandwich the next day, I'm getting a big round these days from a lack of training.

But the point of all this, people, is as such: go vote. Sister confessed this morning that she's never voted, doesn't know any of the candidates or anything about our political system, and thinks that 'The American election is the only one that matters, anyways." Ugh. Never have our differences been so glaringly obvious. People, if you don't like the way shit is, excercise the most powerful tool against it you've been given. Hell, if you do like the way shit is, keep it that way! For God's sake, just go vote!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I love my neighbourhood. I live in the downtown core of my city, which is a pretty kickassed downtown, if I do say so. My town is smallish, at about 80 000 residents, which means that downtown is a few concentrated streets lined with cafes and boutiques and everyone knows everyone. Everyone knows, for example, that the Camel isn't serving espresso anymore because their barista, G, is moving on up and opening his own cafe just as soon as he gets through the red tape and can set up in the art gallery. I., owner of the Camel, is happy for him and wants to concentrate more on his organic, fair-trade middle eastern food and continuing to make the best damn falafel ever. I., incidentally, used to live in what is now my house, specifically in the bedroom where I now write this.

See? That kind of place.

But as much as I love downtown, I'm not real stoked on my living situation. I have that rule about not posting super personal stuff, so I won't go into detail - besides, this post has a different direction.

I've been talking about finding a new place, but that's difficult when you're as bloody determined to live somewhere within a six-block vicinity as I am. I was ranting about this to Coffeeboy the other day, who lives smack dab in the middle of things, literally a stones throw - or toss, rather, it's right across the street - from the afformentioned Camel.

"well, why don't... I mean, in awhile maybe...I mean, you're always here, why don't.... why don't you, like..... move your stuff over here?"

And it didn't scare me. What the hell? I'm supposed to be a commitmentphobe here! Our relationship is SO not old enough to be talking about this sort of thing. For God's sake, I smoked weed last night purchased on the same night we got together. Granted, it was really dry weed, but smokeable, nonetheless.

I love that apartment. I love his roommates. And, of course, I love him. I should be terrifed of this. And - careful, because this is going to be disgustingly cliche- I've never felt quite like this before. I've only ever flet that rush-excitement kind of love, or the comfortable easy-going kind, but never all together in one.

I told him I'd think about it. And I am.