Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Definitely Serving It Up & Doing Nothing Else

*Life is moving right along here. My manager at the restaurant is gone on vacation this week so I am attempting to fill his shoes by handling the front-of-the-house duties. This will be my 7th day out of 10 in a row down at the restaurant. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I really enjoy being there. However everything else is on hold right now. I have Sunday off and then put in another six nights in a row. August 9th will be my last day and I'm somewhat sad about it. However everything else is on hold right now until this crazy work schedule is finished.

*The kiddos spent the weekend with their dad and have been at my parent's most of the week. On Friday Anime and Action will go to their dad's again. Actress will stay home as she has a softball tourney this weekend. I've hardly seen them lately.

*The house is a wreck. It looks like several mini-tornadoes hit it.

*The car is fixed. Yeah! I had to have the drive train? drive shaft? whatever, replaced. Luckily there were still 5000 miles left on the warranty.

*The kids leave in two weeks for a vacation with my parents. They are going to the Black Hills in South Dakota. I'd love to go with them but there's just too much to be done right now.

*We close on the house on MONDAY! OMG!

*I pick up the moving truck two weeks from tomorrow. Two weeks. Wow. Two weeks. Where did the whole summer go?!

*I have one paycheck left from my school job. I have to find a job. But what kind of job?

So dear readers, here's the question for you? What do you do? What would you like to do? I have a chance to change careers/jobs, whatever, and I don't know what direction to take. Give me your suggestions please! Delurk, you twenty-some subscribers that are there but have not commented, and leave your job ideas! Please!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No Drama Mama

Nothing new or earth shattering happening here lately. Whew! I don't know about you guys but I sure could use some quiet time.

Yesterday I took Action and Actress to a neighboring town to check out their newly remodeled swimming pool. They had 2 huge slides, a bigger pool, and a really cool um, I'm not sure what to call it. One of those areas with the things that shoot out water and areas where you could run through the spray, you know, whatever they're called. I honestly can not remember what those areas are called. So, anyway, we swam (even me), the kids did the slides, I read my book. It was just a nice, enjoyable afternoon.

Anime chose to spend the day with her grandmother. They went shopping, had lunch, and also had an enjoyable afternoon.

Today we are off to the big city. I've been non-so-patiently waiting for all the of parts needed to fix my car to arrive. It's only two years old but I'm going in today to have the drive train (shaft?) replaced. Luckily there are still 6000 miles left on the warranty. We'll have the courtesy shuttle drop us off at Barnes and Noble and while away the afternoon with Starbuck's and books. Action and Actress are going with so hopefully the time will pass quickly for them.

Have a great Wednesday!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"I know that it's time for a cool change "

Can you name that song and artist from the title?

I've been browsing quotes for moving trucks today. Then it hit me. This is really happening. We're moving. We're leaving the place that we've called our home base for the last six years. My parents will no longer be just down the road. I won't have a job where I know everyone and am comfortable. I won't know all of the kid's friends and their parents (and aunts and uncles and grandparents, yes it's a REALLY small town). I won't be able to call for a pizza and have them recognize my voice. I know there will be things that are better. I know that. But see? Everything is going to change.

And I'm scared.

So many "what if's" are crowding my brain today. What if this is too hard on the kids? What if they don't make friends? Worse, what if they fall in with the wrong kids? What if Mr. Ex and I really start fighting? What if I can't find a job that will at least pay my bills? What if the kids want to live with their dad? What if Mr. Irony and I can't make it work? What if I fall apart?

I sat down today to also do the paperwork for the January class of nursing school. And realized that, once again, I majorly effed up. I have been strolling along think I had plenty of time, after all the deadline isn't until October 1st, right? Wrong. It's July 1st. Or rather, it WAS July 1st. So, now the start of nursing school is on the back-burner for 12 more months because I was too blond to do the paperwork early. Although it does open up the possibility of getting into the one year accelerated program starting August of 2009. Anyway . . .

Today I have been somewhat paralyzed by the enormity of everything. Everything, EVERYTHING, is going to change in less than one month. The only constant will be the kids and I together. I have to get it together because they need me to be constant, steady . . . basically, their rock. Actress and Action don't remember anywhere but here. Anime remembers, but she's never done very well with change. Right now it all seems too hard, too scary. Sometimes, like right now, I wonder just how the hell I got to where I am. What happened to me that everything fell apart? I used to be such a go-getter. I used to set goals and achieve them. Regularly. Now? Now I'm lucky if I can remember what day it is. Seriously.

I was at W-Mart last week buying a sweatshirt and panicked because I couldn't find my wallet. I'd just had it, I remembered seeing it in my purse. Now when I needed to check out it was gone! I wailed across the check-out aisles to Mr. Irony, almost in tears. He graciously came to my rescue and paid for my silly purchase. As I went to bag the sweatshirt I realized where my wallet was. It was . . . tucked under my arm!!

These kinds of silly, stupid things have been happening more and more over the last few years. I honestly had no clue where that damn wallet had gone. And it was right there under my arm! Can I get any more blond? (And I can say this as I am 100% all natural Swedish/Norwegian blond.)

I have one more paycheck left from my education job and three more weeks of work at the restaurant. I have to find a job. Yet I don't want just a job. I need something that will provide enough for us and leave me with some sense of purpose for working. I don't know what direction to take, what type of job to look for, what I'm suited for.

I have the opportunity to change our lives. Hopefully for the better.

I know that it will all work out. I believe it will. If, it doesn't I'll deal with it. I'll push pass the panic attack and the nerves. I'll find answers to the problems. I have to.

Because I'm their rock and they need me and they're my whole world.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Server's Rant

Dear Restaurant Patron,

I will be your host and server tonight. Before we begin, let me point out that there are certain rules of etiquette that you should observe.

To begin with, if you have more than 5 in your party, make a damn reservation! If you walk in the door with nine people odds are good that I won't be able to seat you any time soon, most especially if the restaurant if nearing capacity. You see, most restaurants don't have tables that seat more than eight (and only a couple of those at that). Most tables seat four. That is standard in just about any restaurant. If we are even somewhat busy I am not going to have two or more tables that are anywhere near each other that can be pulled together to accommodate you. The same goes for any party greater than five. The more people you bring without a reservation, the longer you're going to have to wait to be seated. This is especially true when others are also walking in with large parties and I am running out of places to seat anyone! If you are a table of two to four please understand why I won't seat you at my one (of two) tables for eight. If I put you there odds are good I will have a larger table walk in next and thus have nowhere to seat them. Also, if I say that the empty table is reserved, do not be so rude as to ignore my hostess and simply park your ass there anyway and then get pissy when I ask you to move. That's why we put the "reserved" sign on the table.

That being said, do not be grumpy and rude and insinuate that it is my fault that you could not be seated immediately. You saw the full parking lot when you drove in, you can clearly see that there are no tables available to fit your party and that others are waiting to be seated also. You are the ones who chose not to call ahead for a reservation.

If you have a reservation and decide to bring more people with you than originally anticipated, CALL AHEAD! If your reservation is for four and you show up with five, you're just going to have to suck it up with that extra chair stuck onto the end of the table meant for four. You see, I did my job by picking you a primo table and setting it up for you, per your request. I have no way of knowing that you're bringing someone else and can't switch you to a larger table when we are busy and smack-dab in the middle of a rush. If we are slow I will have no problem switching you to a larger table. Again, I feel you have no right to complain about the lack of elbow-room because you did not adhere to your original request for a table for four.

Do NOT simply sit down at a table that has not been cleared and reset. If you were not my table I will simply assume that you are the original party that was sitting there. It is also extremely rude of you to demand that I stop what I'm doing to come over and clear and reset the table while you stand there waiting impatiently. This is especially irritating when there are clearly other open tables that are clean and reset that you could have sat down at. If it's a weekend and you don't wait for my hostess you may be taking a table that needs to be reset for a reservation. You may also be making it hard for your server if she was just given a couple of new tables by the hostess right before you chose to ignore the hostess and sit at that dirty table. You are immediately setting yourself up for a less than desirable restaurant experience.

If you don't like the taste of the item you ordered, that's just too damn bad. You ordered it. I should not have to ask my manager to strike the item from the bill simply because it did not suit your palate. That's the chance you take when you order something different. I will politely decline to remove said item from your bill, especially when you ate all of the side items and almost a third of the entree while determining if you liked the flavor or not.

Please do not play the game of needing just one more thing when I bring something to your table. It's fine if you decide you'd like another drink, but when each person at your table orders a new drink each time I come back with the previous drink order, you are just creating more work for me and, in my opinion, being rude. When I ask if you'd like another drink, that is the time to decide yes or no. Not after I've just made four trips repeatedly to your table to bring each person a single drink only to be asked by another person for a drink refill. This is especially annoying when there are nine of you and each of you makes me run a drink refill equating nine times in a row that I've had to run a drink to your table.

Please remember that while I strive to make you feel as if you are my only customer, you are not. On a weeknight I am splitting the entire freaking restaurant with one other server. When you see that we have opened the backroom to accommodate the overflow of people and that the two of us are handling approximately 30 tables between us please have a little patience if I can't get to you right away. Please remember that we don't carry a full staff on weeknights because we are not a big city and we are not normally this busy on a Wednesday. Even on a weekend night please remember that you are one of five or six tables that I am serving and while I'll do my best, I may not always be able to get to you right away when you want something.

If something is not to your liking please tell me right away so that I have the opportunity to correct it. If your steak isn't done the way you like and you don't tell me until it's time to pay the bill and you want a discount because of it, there's nothing I can do and you will go away unhappy with your dining experience and I will be pissy because you ate it all and never once told me anything was wrong!

Please remember that I am a person. You may not want to laugh and joke with me and that's all right. We all have different personalities. Do remember though, that there is no need to be snooty and high-handed and treat me like dirt because I work as a server in a restaurant. This may be my full-time job, it may be my extra money. I may actually enjoy and take pride in the work I do. I do not deserve to be treated rudely because I choose to work in a service industry. Yes, I'm not a neurosurgeon but I'm willing to bet neither are you. You are no better or worse than I am and I do not deserve to be treated like trash. If you treat me that way you will not get my best service and I may just find someone to spit in your food (just joking. Or am I?) If you are a regular in our restaurant you will be "black-listed" among the servers and kitchen staff and you will continue to have lower quality service because of your bad behavior. Our manager may not like that but after he's dealt with you a few times he'll back us up. You see, while the goal is that the customer is always right, we do reserve the right to refuse service to anyone and our manager has actually told a few a****les to never darken the doorway of his restaurant again. Our service is great, as is our food, and we will continue to do well without your business.

Last, but not least, even though I agree that the policy of tipping sucks and we should be paid higher wages, tipping is how the industry works. I am working for your tips, not my paycheck (which is laughable and barely covers taxes on the tips I claim). If you're not willing to tip at 15%, at least stick with nothing less than 10%. Almost all of you have cell phones with handy-dandy tip calculators if you can't do the math in your head. You see, I have to claim at least 8% of my sales with the IRS, whether or not I actually made that much in tips. Leaving $2 on a $50 ticket simply because there were only two of you at the table is not cool or nice. Leaving $4 when there were nine of you and your combined tickets totaled $140 and I ran constantly to meet your needs is just plain rude. Don't expect that someone else will leave a tip just because you all paid separately. But I understand because you live around here and everyone knows that you are all a bunch of a**es. Leaving $25 when there were 18 of you and my only table for the night because you sat in the restaurant for 3 freaking hours thus preventing me from turning over any tables in my section on a Friday night is rude and inconsiderate in my opinion. Because of you my manager has now agreed to mandate 15% gratuity on parties of eight or over. We never felt this need to mandate it before you but now we do.

Yes I am complaining and bitching. You see I know that I'm a good server. Heck there are nights when I'm an awesome server! I've been in this industry for 20 years now (off & on) and have waited tables in places from diners to casual restaurants to upscale restaurants. I've watched you restaurant patrons become increasingly ruder and more demanding over those twenty years and I've had it with those of you that ruin the night for me and the tables around you.

The sign on the back door of our restaurant says "Leave all problems at the door. From here on in there is only fun ahead!" The sign on our front door says "Welcome". It does NOT say "Please leave your manners here before entering".

Your Server

Saturday, July 12, 2008

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

Well to plunge right in, things are going swimmingly on the house. I can't wait to drive by it next week and see how far they've gotten with replacing the siding, painting the siding, and fixing the deck. I'm just itching to get inside and start painting. Fresh paint just seems to make everything seem newer and nicer. I'd really be love to be able to get someone in to help give it some "Wow" factor, like someone from "Design On a Dime" or "Color Correction" (love Constance ever since her "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" days!)

Things have been just rolling along. It's taken most of the week to get the kids back into their sleep routines since their first weekend with their dad. We had some very grumpy days at the beginning of the week. Hopefully things will be a bit calmer when they come back tomorrow from the second weekend with their dad. A little less drama would be nice.

I had the beginnings of a relationship turn-around with my mom this morning. She stopped by and we visited about the kids, Mr. Ex (she can't even stand to hear his name), our upcoming move, and a little about Mr. Irony. I managed to casually mention that we had decided to buy the house together. She didn't have a meltdown, so that was good. She did seem a little surprised but was very calm. She stated that you never know how things will turn out, as in her opinion, a lot of people marry and stay with someone that they shouldn't, so maybe I would be happier not being married to him. We talked (well, mostly I talked) on my view of marriage at this point. I think it's great for some but not for all. Unfortunately for me, marriage has left me feeling that it is something I would have to think long and hard about attempting again. Marriage for me equals a loss of control over myself and that's not something I'm willing to do again. It's all semantics, I know, but there it is, that's how I feel right now.

Anyway there was no drama, just a nice hour long conversation covering a wide variety of topics. I even got a hug before she left! My mom is not physically demonstrative with anyone but my kids and never has been so that was pretty major. I think we both left the conversation feeling like there is hope that maybe down the road we can be friends of some sort. Mom seems to have had some real growth in how she looks at things and is working towards letting go of the bitterness. Change is good. It's just so hard sometimes to watch these parents of ours grow up! :)

I'm guessing the drama will come from Mr. Ex's family. Judging from previous comments made, it may be a sticking point with them that I'm not a "moral" person/mother by choosing not to marry Mr Irony. When Mr. Ex lived far away it was always about how immoral and lost he'd become and all the bad choices he'd made. Now that he's back, all is forgiven, and he's such a "wonderful" man for stepping up to the plate to be there for his kids and make amends with his family. (Excuse while I go laugh until I cry). Now that he's home, almost everyone in his family has completely forgotten everything they've ever said about him and are tripping over themselves to do everything they can for him and get into his good graces. This speaks volumes about his charm & manipulation abilities, does it not? I'm just glad there's no drama from my family and that my sister and her hubby are positive about my choices. I'm hoping my "second set" of parents will be also (that would be Mr. Ex's father and step-mom, I'm keeping them as part of the divorce settlement).

I'm off to continue with the sorting, tossing, and boxing for the upcoming move. Happy Saturday ya'll!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

This Housing Update Brought To You By . . .

One would think that with it being summer vacation and me only working one part-time job right now that I'd be posting regularly, wouldn't one? Guess not. This summer has been crazy and is flying right by! I mean, it's July 9th already!

So. I would imagine some of you are wondering what's been happening with the house. Well . . . everything's good! I've been leery of posting anything for fear of messing up the good vibes or ju-ju or whatever that's been happening with this house. The appraisal was done last Thursday and the inspection on Friday. We received both reports by Monday. The house appraised at $2000 above our purchase price. Yeah! Nothing was noted that we didn't already know and have plans to fix so that was all good. The inspection did point out some things that we will do down the road, such as sheetrock the garage to provide a firewall between the house and the garage. We will also need to get up and cut out vents in the soffits for ventilation in the attic. The inspection did find that the motor in the furnace is not working but the seller agreed to take care of that and also to spray for the carpenter ants that were found living under the sun-room (and he put it in writing too!) But, all in all, everything is good and the contractor has a "go" to begin work! Yeah! The only other paperwork needed is a letter from the contractor to the bank stating that the roof is in good condition (only 6 years old but several of the shingles are not sealed down, a project we will tackle in August or September).

Now the packing begins in earnest. I let my landlord know that I will most definitely be moved out by August 20th. I also offered to post signs, ads, and show the house for her in order to get it sold. (I only asked to be compensated 1% of the selling price. Hey, I'm not that nice that I'd do all that work for free.) We've begun touring the local home improvement stores to see what's available for flooring, fencing, all of that fun stuff. Did you know that there's now a compound that you simply mix with water and pour onto your concrete floor and it will self-level said concrete floor? Too cool! We have an entire basement (ground floor? not sure what to call it as it opens up into the back yard) that is all concrete flooring that will need to be leveled so that we can install flooring without having to build a sub-floor. (Could I possibly use the word floor or derivatives thereof any more in that last sentence? Ha!)

We are doing the happy house dance around here. I can't wait to get to the point where I can get in and start painting! On the down side, I still have not told any family (other than my sister & Mr. Ex) that Mr. Irony and I are making this a joint venture. Yes, go ahead, say it. I'm a CHICKEN! At least my 20-year old niece has somewhat paved the way for me. She announced last week that since none of her girl-friends were able to move out and into an apartment with her just yet (she's been living at home since college got out last May); she is moving in with her boyfriend and a mutual guy friend. Oh my, my, my...the arguments that this little statement brought about. None of that side of the family is happy AT ALL! Except me and possibly my sis. Not that we're happy about it but we're proud of her for standing up for what she wants. My thoughts are that if she lives with boyfriend for a while she will realize that there are plenty more fish in the sea. Call me crazy but I'm kind of at the point where it may be better living together first so that if it doesn't work out you don't have the whole entire mess of divorce to go through. Yep, not politically correct I know but that's me. Anyway, she has my support because the kid needs someone in the family to lean on. (And since she went first I will not be known as the "evil" aunt who is leading her niece down a path of moral-decay for living in sin. Ha!)

Hope everyone had a good 4th of July (or 1st of July for our neighboring Canadians). I'll post more later on today and am hoping to set up a Flickr account with "before" photos of our new house! It's time for me to have my morning coffee now! Catch ya later!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

And Now, Another Episode of House Buying Hell

Last time on "House Buying Hell"...
  • Mr. Seller was unreasonable in his demands for the purchase agreement.
  • Mr. Irony and CelticBuffy were dismayed, wondering if they could work things out with Mr. Seller.
  • Ms. Realtor was trying desperately to negotiate a deal.

  • Will Mr. Seller sell?
  • Will CelticBuffy and Mr. Irony have to start over on the house hunt?
  • Will Ms. Realtor come to the rescue and save the deal?
And now, welcome to this week's episode of "House Buying Hell".

Sunday saw Mr. Irony and Ms. Realtor going through the house again, making a list of items to go over with the contractor on Monday. Not so much a list of what we'd like done to the home, but rather a list of what might not pass inspection.

Monday brought me another trip to the big city (or rather a suburb thereof). We had a meeting of the minds: Ms. Realtor, Mr. Contractor, Mr. Irony, and yours truly. Everything that had the potential to not pass inspection was looked at, discussed, and a plan of action chosen. It was decided that 8-10 pieces of siding would be replaced as well as the house repainted in a color of our choosing (light yellow! white trim!). Both bathrooms would have the tub surrounds replaced and the walls re-sheetrocked, as well as the downstairs bathroom ceiling replaced (mold prevention due to former major leak). The deck needs some boards replaced as well as the open railing closed up with a slatted railing. The floor in the sunroom will be replaced as well as concrete footings added to support said sunroom. One outside door will also be replaced as it looks like one good kick would topple it in. Once all of this is completed it should pass inspection. The only questionable item was if we would need to install sheetrock (for a firewall) on the garage side of the wall that divides the house and the garage. The contractor thought that based on the age of this house (built in the early eighties) it would not be required as that was not a must at the time of construction.

So. Now it gets interesting. Mr. Contractor and Ms. Realtor were scheming, err, I mean discussing, the best ways to convince Mr. Seller (Mr. Contractor's uncle) that this was all well and good and that we weren't deadbeats planning to repair the house and run; but rather, a soon to be family that really wants to be in this suburb and really really wants this exact house. Then they moved on to which inspector they wanted to do the inspection and the exact appraiser they wanted to use for the appraisal. Mr. Irony and I are starting to figure out that we lucked out with our mortgage broker, our realtor, and the contractor. Apparently these three are part of the "inner circle" of real estate in this suburb and can exert considerable influence among others in their sphere. Case in point? Not only did they convince Mr. Seller yesterday to sign our original purchase agreement,
  • Mr. Seller is covering the cost of repairing the flooring of the deck, the flooring of the sunroom and the concrete footings underneath! But, now, get this . . .
  • they also got the housing inspector of their choice to jump right in and do the first inspection on. . . wait for it . . . (drum roll please). . . Friday the 4th of July! I mean, WOW!, who the heck does a housing inspection on a major holiday!?!? (Vanessa wanted to know if he's from Canada, LOL!) So we are getting our initial inspection done this Friday!

We get to meet with the inspector afterwards to go over what needs to be done to pass final inspection prior to closing. With the initial inspection finished, Mr. Contractor will start next week with replacing the siding and working on the deck and sunroom. He plans to start the bathrooms towards the middle of July in order to be finished by August for a closing date of August 4th! Woohoo! Not that I'm not getting my hopes up that we will actually close on that date, but it should be somewhere right around that time.

Following all of this drama and power-weilding by Ms. Realtor and Mr. Contractor, Mr. Irony took ourselves off for a celebratory Chinese lunch . We then took a stroll through the local building supply store; daydreaming of light fixtures, landscaping supplies, hard wood floors, and paint. I'm not sure if I scared or amused Mr. Irony with the number of paint samples I took home with me! It's such a relief to have gotten this far in the house buying process. I was seriously beginning to think it wasn't going to happen any time soon.

Stay tuned for the next episode of "House Buying Hell" in which CelticBuffy informs family members that she and Mr. Irony are going to be living together with no intentions of marrying. I'm sure much drama will ensue (or possibly be ignored as that is what my mother is apt to do).