This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Holy Three (Almost Four) Months, Batman!

Have I mentioned lately that I suck? Because I do. I cannot believe it's been four months since I've posted anything on this blog. The worst thing is that I link to it in my current staff bio (more on that later) and there was nothing new even to reference. I feel horrible.

To be fair, I have been terribly busy. The move went off without any major bumps in the road and after last week from a trip back up to Milwaukee, I finally have some substantial furniture. Within a couple weeks here in Carol Stream (the Chicago suburb I'm currently living in, hopefully I can move closer to downtown sometime in the next year or two), I had two new jobs! I'm still working at Longhorn in Schaumburg and am meshing in nicely with the awesome people who work there.

Some pictures of the new apartment:
Bedroom, new desk, and my pup.

Kitchen and not yet assembled kitchen table.
Living room and my little shrine to traveling.
My little reading corner.

The first of the two new jobs is as a bank teller in Glen Ellyn. It took two long months of training before I started, but this past week, I finally started on my own drawer and I'm really enjoying it. The second new job is a lot more exciting to me on an overall "goal" level: staff writer for Shortly after I moved an old family friend and former neighbor messaged me asking if I'd be interested in working for a site he was developing and obviously my answer was yes! I started on as a contributing writer and became a staff writer in mid-January.

Writing articles for Female Intel has been a necessary and cathartic outlet for me. The first two months here were stressful, beyond stressful, especially with my new tighter budget and a few unforeseen expenses (more gas money needed, stuff for Lucy when she moved in with me, new plates and licence, etc.). Life was difficult at the restaurant with the craziest fucking winter I can remember. I made due but it wasn't nearly as much as it would have been if there weren't six inches of snow every week or -40 degree windchill.
Check out my articles here:

Writing again felt good, and it still does. Fiction wise I've had a terrible writer's block for almost a year now, since last April or so. I don't know exactly what happened to cause it but I can't seem to shake it. I started feeling down on myself, like I was stuck in this rut and had had the key to my own creativity stolen from me. Female Intel gave me a couple bobby pins to break my way back into that creative sphere.

Overall though I'm happy with the move. It took a couple weeks but by January, even though Luke and I both agree that by all accounts it was a miserable month, I realized I had made the right choice. Being closer to him meant so much more to be than I ever thought possible. I felt like I had an arm missing. I figured out how to function with only one arm since I'm a strong and confident woman (thank you, DSHA) and most days could forget I was missing it all together. But that doesn't mean though that I forgot what it was like to have two arms.

The first night I got in, I had no bed yet (still back in Iowa City), and no furniture to speak of; I only had a couple boxes and suitcases to my name. When Luke got to my new apartment to come pick me up to stay at his place until my bed came in the next week, my heart actually stopped for a second. It felt surreal, like there was no way on earth that the long wait was finally over. We got into my place and that first hug, that first kiss, there were so many strong emotions wrapped up into them. I actually started to tear up a bit. He just stood there and hugged me and wouldn't let go.
Luke and I the day after I moved to IL.

Since then the high intensity of emotions has waned obviously and things feel back to "normal," but better even. Long distance did bring us closer together somehow. We just celebrated out one year anniversary in early February and our second Valentine's Day together and couldn't be happier. He's my right hand man, one of my best friends, and one of the only people I know who puts up with everything I do. When I burp at him he responds, "Bless you." You can't beat that.

Lucy loves it here even though it took her a good three weeks to get used to being home alone for eight or so hours a day. I will admit though that Lucy loves Luke so much more than me. If it's a choice between the two of us, it's him 90% of the time. When we go stay over at his place, she runs right up to his door and jumps up and down waiting for me to open it so she can kiss him. We're a great happy little family right now.
My little princess, Lucy. She knows she's cute.

Though my Fridays and Saturdays, when I work both jobs, can get me down and leave me feeling fully drained, I wouldn't give any of this up. I feel challenged on a daily basis and insanely lucky for everything that has happened to me. My bestest friend in the world, Michelle, got engaged recently and has asked me to be her Maid of Honor. I can't wait to start doing some legit planning on some raunchy parties for her. Last month I turned 23, my lucky number, so that means this year has to keep going well, right? By the power of the lucky number, I say it must.
23rd birthday, bitch!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finally Moving

It's been a long five months since Luke moved away. Some days if feels like he just left and others the weight of the months can be felt in full force. I am almost having a hard time remembering that this weekend when I see him I won't have to say goodbye Sunday night. No more goodbyes, only see you later.

The car is mostly packed up; the only things that are missing are necessities like shampoo, makeup, and a couple outfits for my last days. I work a double tomorrow and then will drive up to Carol Stream on Friday morning. It's slightly telling that my entire life, sans my bed and a small dresser, can fit in my tiny ass pink car.

I've been getting nostalgic the past couple days but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I think that's because I already said goodbye to Iowa City six months ago when I graduated. It's as though I've been living here on borrowed time. I feel like a dinner guest that has overstayed her welcome; it's time for me to go.

The actual move date snuck up on me faster than I thought it would. Everything is set except for finding someone to take my current apartment. I can financially take care of it through January but after that things will get interesting, and not in a good way. I hope people who are moving to the area for second semester will start looking for their apartments soon.

I have a couple interviews when I get to town and the part-time gig at the steakhouse up in Schaumburg. My apartment is great and I cannot wait to get settled in even though I have no furniture to my name so the amenities will be severely limited.

Since I've graduated, I've had the worst writer's block I've had since freshman year of college. It's gotten worse since I started worrying about the move. Maybe changing my scenery will help get me back on track, or at the very least, itching to produce something.

Luke mentioned to me tonight that I haven't written in a while. It bothers me how defensive I get when he mentions that but it's good that he does; no one else would dare call me out on something like that. For the first time in a while I've been trying to write again the past week with little success. But I'll keep trying harder especially in the winter months when there is little else to do.

Besides Luke I don't know anyone else in the Northwest suburbs. Hopefully that'll be to my benefit to make some creative solitude. I'm both excited and terrified for this move for this reason: I don't know anyone. I'm fairly good at making new friends but to be perfectly honest I don't really feel like putting forth the effort. I've been exhausted in every aspect of my life the past few months that any effort that isn't toward making money doesn't seem worth it. I need to get out of this mind-frame.

Anyways, enough babbling about nothing. I have one more relaxing evening here in Iowa City before I schlep myself across the state and over to Illinois. I will miss this town greatly; it has been my home for five years. I have made so many friends and had some of my more important life-changing experiences in this fantastic city.

So thank you, Iowa City, for housing me and helping me grow up. And thank you to the entire state of Iowa for being so welcoming and loving these past five years. I fell in love with this little Midwestern pocket. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Some Days are Just Like This

Today has been a particularly shitty day.

When I woke up I thought I'd go get coffee with my best friend who just got engaged the other day. Upon getting in my car, I noticed the tire pressure light was on. That's fine, I thought, it's cold out and that's probably the problem so I'll just go to Kum & Go to fill them up a bit.

After finishing filling the tires, I was upset to see my light wouldn't go off still. Fine, I thought, you can just go to the dealership in Coralville and see what's up. I turned to get back in my car and realized I had locked my keys in the car. At this point I was thoroughly pissed and started hitting my car.

I waited inside for the road side assistance to get there (which thankfully my insurance covered) and paced the entirety of Kum & Go for a half hour. My coffee date was now ruined. The shining star in this whole fiasco was the wonderful people at Kum & Go who I've known for five years now making me laugh and giving me free coffee.

After the road side assistance people left I noticed someone had keyed my entire car. Fine, I thought, when you're at the dealership ask them about it. The dealership fixed my tire pressure light and sent me next door about the keying. The guy was friendly and helpful but let me know, before insurance, it would cost about $2,400 to repair. He said insurance would cover a majority most likely though.

I finally get home and am exhausted. I try to log in on the insurance website to find out what I can do and realize my password is wrong which locks me out of the system. I call them and after another half hour, they fix it. After all that, my last thought was spending an hour on the phone with the insurance company. That's a call for another day.

I realize I haven't heard from the apartment company I'm looking at in Chicago for a couple days so I give them a call. They let me know that I've been approved for the place except for verification from the apartment company here where I live. I laughed a bit on the phone when they said they called and left a message. I said, "Yeah, it might take a couple days."

From a horrible beginning to a surprisingly positive end, it's been an odd fucking day...and I haven't even started my shift at work yet. I'm already tired.

I've been accepted over at the LongHorn in Schaumburg so that's a plus. I'm closer to finding a person to take my apartment here. All I need to do is find a second job now and my plans will be perfect.

These last couple weeks finalizing everything have been horribly stressful and the person taking the brunt of my stress is my loving boyfriend, Luke. I'll need to find some way to make it up to him for all of his patience. Hopefully his epic Christmas present will do some good. If I didn't have someone like him by my side helping me through this, I would be a mess right now. And as it stands, thinks are sort of going well.

"Sort of" is okay for me at the moment; "perfect" would be scary because I would be worrying that something would fall through and go wrong. I'll gladly ride the "sort of" train straight into Chicagoland.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Breaking Down and Still Being Okay

Three days ago I had the first mild flashback I've had in years.

I guess it was a bit cocky of me to think those days were entirely behind me, but a girl can always hope. It was the smell of a perfume insert that triggered it and while it was not nearly as bad as others, it was still jarring and affected me for a couple hours.

I didn't think much of it, just ignored it and went about my weekend, until about an hour ago. On the way home from a long-ish lunch shift I was listening to the radio on the drive. The song "Brave" by Sara Bareilles came on and I started singing along. Zipping down the Coralville strip, I sang happily to the upbeat and inspirational lyrics.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I started bawling. I'm talking big puppy dog tears for no particular reason. Sure I could stretch and try to connect the song to my childhood but I feel like it would be a reach. Maybe it was a combination of the cloudy skies and that I'm moving in six weeks and stressed about that, but what I had been holding in for days came tumbling out.

After the song was over, I dried my eyes, deposited some money at the bank, and was fine.

Now this could be a depressing story of the past haunting me and my inability to handle "flare ups" but I'd rather not see it that way. To me, I was faced with an issue, dealt with it in the only way I knew how, and moved on. I broke down a bit and was still okay at the end.

I look back at all the therapy over the years and wonder how much of it really helped me. I think back on that a lot, actually. But beyond that I wonder when I "became okay" and able to handle all of these emotions. I wish there was a more concrete marker for such an event besides crying and getting over it but I cannot find one. It was a journey, as these things often are, but it feels good to have some level of control in my life.

The stress of the impending move is coming at me full speed. From waiting to hear if the LongHorn in Schaumburg will take me (my manager said it's almost a guarantee...but almost scares me), to finding someone to take my current apartment, to finding one in the Northwest suburbs that will take Lucy and me, it's amazing I'm not curled up in a ball.

It's days like today that remind me I am capable of handling all of this and I can make it work. Sometimes you need to fall apart a little to remember you can pick up the pieces and bounce back.

Monday, October 14, 2013

So Many Changes in So Little Time

Oh I apologize, I apologize so hard. These past couple months have been all over the place and writing, let alone blogging, has been the farthest thing from my mind. On August 4, my boyfriend moved to Chicago. Within twenty four hours of finding this out a week prior, I decided to follow suit. It was a remarkably easy decision when I realized Iowa City was never going to be my forever home. I needed a push or a pull of some kind finally to get me to leave the safe confines of my former college town and move on to something greater.

It is now mid-October and the move is almost exactly two months away. The Craigslist posting is up for my current apartment and I'm going to set up three or four apartment showings for the next time I am in Chicago (early November). Luckily for me, working at a corporate restaurant has it's perks. One of the greatest ones would have to be the ability to transfer to another location with ease. And with this great help I have a job in Shaumburg and am currently looking for another part-time one to make ends meet.

I was in Chicago this past weekend and it was probably the best weekend Luke and I have had to date since he left. Him leaving was infinitely harder on me than I imagined, but we've made it work. We each visit the other every two weeks and Skype/call frequently and text constantly. It's strange, but I've felt closer to him since he left. I value time with him much more than I ever did. You don't realize how much you take for granted time with others until it's severely limited.

The other crazy thing about this past weekend was that the idea of the move was no longer an idea; I was thinking about which town I would live in and which stores would be closest to my new home. I was thinking about how far I would live from Luke and work and how to manage all the traveling. It felt weird that the thinking was no longer thinking; it was planning for a very real future. I'm still enjoying my life as a server, even if I've been stretching myself a bit too thin trying to make it all work. 

Alright, now I'm two very full glasses of wine in to this post and I should probably stop typing because I'm tempted to stay something like, "Live, life, love." So yeah, that's it for now. I promise to keep this more updated as a come closer to the move date and with my new life as a Chicago girl.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Stories from a Server #1

I'm packing currently and suddenly realizing I'm really good at it. Granted, this is a useful skill at certain times in your life, but not exactly one that is marketable. I suck at unpacking and would happily live amongst boxes rather than unload anything. Anyways, all I have left are clothes and cleaning the room. I'm going to be living in the living room for four days so the new girl can move into my room. It will be dangerous to have me sleep so close to the TV.

I have a few (specifically three) server stories to share. I do not have names or any other definable characteristics that would legitimately give away identities, but feel free to think up a character in your own head. I've had difficult and rude people as well as overly kind and generous ones; it comes with the territory. And though we servers may complain about the rude ones, the crazy ones are the people who, believe it or not, make the job fun (the tips are pretty baller as well).

   The Asparagus Lady
This woman seemed a bit aggressive from the beginning, and she was one of my tables on my first night having three. I brought out her parmesan asparagus starter and she asked me if I'd ever tried it. I gave my little speech about, "No, I haven't had the pleasure of trying this dish yet in our restaurant." She turns to me, takes a piece, and tells me to put out my hand. Not realizing what was happening, I oblige. She then stares at me blankly, "Eat it." I smiled and practically ran to the kitchen. My manager saw me wandering around the kitchen, blindsided, carrying a piece of parm asparagus around in my hand. She yelled, "What are you doing?!" I yelled back, "She told me to eat it!" "Throw it away! Throw it away!" When I went by the table later, the customer looked at me blankly again and asked if I had eaten it and I said yes to save face. She said, "Good," and returned to eating her meal.

Licked Plates
There was a table (same table strangely enough as the Asparagus Lady) a week later who stayed for quite awhile. One had rather severe OCD and had to repeat everything she said three times, which took awhile but it was fine. After they had been there for an hour and a half (rather long for us), I came by to pick up the remaining plates and found them to be strangely clean, like ridiculously clean. Upon closer inspection, it looked as if they had been licked completely clean. The napkins were clean and the silverware was spotless. They both remained until they finished every morsel of butter, ate the bread crumbs off the table, and ate each and every ice cube from their water glasses. At the end of this bizarre exchange, I wondered what their tip would be. I've begun to know what to expect based on people's appearance what the amount will be (this sounds horrible, I know, but rarely have I been off by more than a few dollars in my guesses and it doesn't affect how I treat the table ever) and I wasn't expecting more than five dollars. Both ladies thanked me for my patience, and the older lady left me a $20 for the check, smiled, and said, "Keep the change!" I was left with 57 cents.  

"Eh Yo Gurl!"
I had a table come in one night that I could tell would be my last of the evening; I was next in line to be cut.  The parents were boozing it up and the ten year old kid from the get-go had a bad attitude. He was the only one of the three who could speak English (the other two, only Spanish) which was fine but I could tell I would have to deal with this kid exclusively. First thing I noticed was the kid had a hat that read, "I Love Bad Bitches” and winked at me when he noticed me gawking at the cap. After I dropped the drinks, the kid yelled after me, “Eh yo gurl! Why you no bring my mamma her straws for her drank!?” He continued to speak to me like a mini gangster for the remainder of the meal.

These are the three biggest "stories" I have at the moment of customers I have personally dealt with in my first two months. I'm loving my job so there will be many more to come. Though these people gave me a headache more times than not, at the end of my night it is all worth it and I try to keep a smile on my face. And I may or may not interact with one of my coworkers now by calling out, "Eh yo gurl!"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reflections on Life as a Server

Well hello, people, sorry it's been so long, but working two jobs was a bit insane for a month or so there. Starting this past Thursday, I began working full time at LongHorn as a server and left my student job at Tropical Smoothie. I've had four jobs now since I was 15, two of which were for at least three years. This is the first job though that I've loved from the beginning. My co-workers are hilarious and helpful, and the constant customer interaction keeps every shift interesting.
My booklet and apron

It has not been smooth sailing entirely though; I've had doubles where I've been at work until 11:30pm and been stiffed on tips at least twice now. Frequently I only get 10% tips when I see other servers pulling 20% consistently throughout a shift. Yesterday, I was thrilled to make $88 in a dinner sift and one of my managers pulled me aside to tell me how sorry she was that I was struggling (apparently that's not a lot of money after all...). She said, "Don't worry, once you have some more service experience under your belt and start to have regulars, you'll do better!"

That was a wee bit of a kick to the face. But if I can pull at least $50 in a dinner shift, I'm plenty happy with myself. This is the first job I've had that is actually supporting me and paying my bills. I bought my first car a little over a month ago and my first payments on that are due in a couple weeks; I'm also moving into a new apartment with my new roommate, Katie, at the end of the month.
My new pink car

My schedule as a server is different every week, but I'm seeing a pattern develop: Tuesdays and Thursdays off and working every night of the weekend. I've never had an insane social life so the hours are fine to me. When I do get into work, there is no downtime to get myself situated for the day; usually my tables are already sat and I have to rush over to greet them.

I've had good tables and crazy bad tables. Quiet people who look annoyed by my presence and men flirting a bit too obviously with me. I've had a business man who tipped well above his tab and two women who were so thankful for my service they tipped double their lunch bill. I've also had people complain there were too many chicken fingers in an order and complain I did not pre-cut their bread load for them (it comes perforated). I've had mistakes, big and small ones, and some that completely ruined a table. I've had days that I almost cried and days I was tempted to run to the walk-in to text my boyfriend and tell him how great it was going.
Us at Summerfest on the 4th

I'm headed off to work in a couple hours and hoping it's busy on this Sunday night. I'm hoping my boyfriend get's this job he interviewed for and gets into the cool apartment complexes he's been looking at on the west side. I'm grateful I have him as a support system and care about him insanely so. I'll try to have a monthly post about crazy restaurant stories and odd customers (as much as I can without being too obvious). Stay tuned for more info on this wild journey as my first post-grad job in the serving industry. And, of course, feel free to stop on by and ask for me to wait on you. It'll make my day.