Monday, April 14, 2008
1) There are already organizations with cool acronyms, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and B(ikers) ADD. What are some other groups which could be equally against drunk driving and cleverly named?
A) A.A.D.D. (Advertisers against Drunk Driving), E.G.A.D.D. (Exclamation Givers against Drunk Driving), F.A.D.D. (Fashonistas against Drunk Driving), L.A.D.D. (Littleboys against Drunk Driving), P.A.D.D. (Pillowmakers against Drunk Driving), R.A.D.D. (Rockers against Drunk Driving), T.T.A.D.D. (Tiny Things against Drunk Driving), W.A.D.D. (Wastemakers against Drunk Driving), A.A.D.H.D.S.A.D.D. (Adult Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder Sufferers against Drunk Driving)
2) What is your favorite bridge?
A) The Sydney Lanier Bridge going from Brunswick over to the entrance to Jekyll Island.
I drive over the causeway from St Simons Island to Brunswick on my way to work and every time look forward to the turn and rise of the road that brings this sight into view. I'm more inspired and pleased by it than I would have ever thought. The bridge has a different personality depending on where the sun hits it. It's probably best viewed in person!
3) Do you have any questions for the movie theater managers in Brunswick and St Simons Island?
A. Yes. Why are you still showing Alvin and the Chipmunks four weeks after Christmas, but won't show The Kite Runner? Come on!! We shouldn't have to drive to Jacksonville to get some culture!
4) What's the fun new game your coworkers are playing?
A) "What could Anna's husband arrest us for?" It goes like this: Hey Anna, could your husband arrest me for (fill in the blank)? (selling weed, smoking weed, and other variations mostly having to do with weed)
5) What's a shame?
A) It's a shame that the "Muscle & Fitness; Hers" magazine has 99 pages, 23 pages of which are full page ads for 10 different weight loss pills or formulas, their distributors and plastic surgery. So they're going to tell me on one page I can get this body by doing these exercises and then on the next that I really need to take this pill to get it. But thanks for the recipe for turkey lasagna...which pill goes best with that?
6) What is it about seeing humans ride on the backs of whales and dolphins in a show set to music that makes you feel like anything is possible and all your dreams can come true (even bringing a tear or two to your eye)?
A) I don't know, but it works every time!
7) What's the kookiest thing your landlord has said to you lately in explanation of why several items of your food, including just enough turkey and cheese for one last sandwich, an unopened bag of baby greens salad and a can of soup, have gone missing in the past few weeks?
A)"You never know with today's economy if someone is just a week away from starving to death."
8) How do you know when you have a strange, but wonderful life?
A) When you come home at midnight from a long, hard night at work during which a table full of drunk hairdressers and their husbands actually asked your boss to give them a different server after only 5 minutes and you almost burst into tears in the kitchen, but pull it together and spend the rest of the night polishing silverware trying to figure out what went wrong, and you walk in the door of the room you're renting from a kooky landlady and see, to your great delight, a bouquet of flowers on your dresser and that your husband is in your bed!
9) How many friends do you have who are pregnant right now?
A) Fifteen! (that I know of) And you'd think it'd rub off on me!
10) What do you think about while you're on the back of the Harley on your long road trips?
A) See 1-9!
The lucky employer is Christie's, a 'refined cuisine' restaurant in downtown Brunswick. The folks here are trying to restore a nearly waterfront location with thriving shops and restaurants, and Christie's is a part of that. In only one and a half years of existence, it has been named twice in a row one of Georgia's Top Ten Dining Destinations. Not too shabby.
Christie is the sommelier and her husband Jason is the executive chef. John and I ate there on one of our dates and overheard our waitress talking to some regulars about moving back home the following week. Sensing an opening, I asked for an application and was met with welcome arms. One of the most important things to Christie and Jason is that the customer has an amazing experience. In fact, during my interview they both asked me separately, "What did you have for dinner?" and "How was it?" They are really passionate about it.
I have come to appreciate listening to people talk about what they are passionate about. It's amazing to see people come to life when they are sharing about something they either know very well or love very much, whether it's a person, a hobby, a calling, a plate of food or a glass of wine.
For Christie, it is wine. On one of my training nights, she taught me about wine for 4 hours. It didn't seem like a lesson, it was one story after another and at the end, the wine list had personality and character that I never knew existed. She told me about how way back when (1800s), an 'idiot' from California took some grape stock over to France that had some bug in it. The California stock was resistant to it, so the guy didn't even know it was there, but the French stock was vulnerable to this bug and the bug wiped out all of France's viable vineyards. That pretty much sucked for the winemaking world, so after several years of panic, the resolution was to bring more of the California stock over and start France's vineyards over again. Of course, California originally got its grapes from France to begin with, but you'd think American winemakers wouldn't have to work so hard to get some respect from their competitors across the ocean.
She told me about how World War II and Hitler's attitude toward wine affected winemaking for years. There are fascinating back stories to so much about wine, but what I loved the most was how personal it was for her. For example, she is embarrased for the establishment she used to work for whose house wine was the cheapest on the list. She feels that the house wine should be the best wine on the list, since that is what the house is recommending and should be able to put their name behind. At Christie's there is no house wine. Every wine on the list is one she loves and can recommend wholeheartedly.
Other things I've learned, or relearned, about waitressing is how comfortable people are with the conversations they have in public. In my pre-Air Force days I was a bartender, at Ruby Tuesdays granted, but nonetheless, I was the recipient of many a drinker's woes and secrets. Last night, I overheard three very different conversations, the topics of which all had something to do with God and the volume of which probably had something to do with alcohol.
The bearded fellow at the bar with the tropical shirt was talking to a barmate about 'hoping his daughter doesn't find out before he's able to tell her' about his sexuality. He was dreading the conversations about his faith and lifestyle he would have to have with her. I also learned that she was still a virgin or at least he thought she was. He also fell off the barstool, then asked for something 'fruity' to balance out his meal of hard liquor and oysters.
At my table, one lady was getting pretty upset about a certain church's fundraising efforts. Apparently this pastor was using the tithe records to target the biggest and most faithful givers for the big bucks. The others at the table agreed that this was unacceptable behavior and not even the pastor's role. Between the four of them, they had 6 martinis and 5 glasses of wine (Syrah, to go with the gaminess of the lamb and duck).
At another table, my fellow waitress was crushing on the cute guy at the end, so I went in for her to check if he was married. (He was) He was also very excited about a Christian surfing branch of Fellowship of Christian Athletes in California. The guy who started it apparently was tired of arresting fellow surfers, so he figured he could make a greater impact on them by starting a Bible study for them.
I don't know if every night will be this interesting or if I'm just especially tuned in because I'm excited to be out of my room interacting with real people. I'm grateful for the amazing sunsets over the water I get to watch every night I work. The other servers, and Christie herself, often stop to take them in and even get out their cameras, mentioning how they have hundreds of these pictures, but this sunset is just too beautiful.
So, if y'all are ever down 'round these parts and feel like dropping 50 or so bucks (plus a fat tip!) on some good food and the perfect wine, I'll save a table for you. Just keep in mind, your stories or outfit might end up in some of my writing. If you're lucky.
The residents include Vito*, an IT guy with a Defense Contractor. His wife and kids live in Florida, but since he's currently contracted to work at the Federal Training Center here, he stays most days at the Focus House. He has a quad to himself until Terri finds another boarder.
Terri is an ordained minister who runs a non-profit ministry. Her focus is on the 'under-served' (instead of 'disadvantaged') students in the public schools. It seems she serves them by a voluntary after-school program to instill values and skills in them to help them achieve their potential. Her program culminates in cotillions and awards programs. Terri is abundantly sweet and her biggest fault seems to be believing in the unfailing goodness in others. One of her many hats is acting as landlord to the 5 residents of the House. She lives in one of the quads with her West Highland White Terriers, Maggie and Tek.
In another quad is Sylvia, a Chilean native who does free-lance translating out of her ex-husband's home office. Sylvia is the only resident who doesn't have a private entrance to her room, doesn't have a computer and doesn't seem to care about either.
Sharing a wall with Sylvia is yours truly. Enough about me.
In the third quad, the bachelors share a wall and perhaps, unwillingly, the keys to the biggest mystery to hit the House since Maggie limped around for an entire hour.
Wade is a chef's apprentice at Sea Island Resort and the 'senior' resident of the house. Rumor has it that when he cooks at the house it is an event not to be missed. Fact has it that he rarely cooks at the house, since 'why would he cook at home when he cooks all day at work?' He also seems very unattached to his clothes as he tends (in the 4 days I've lived there) to leave his laundry in the washer or dryer for days.
Finally, there is Andy. Andy is a journalist, flexing his newly college-degreed news-finding instincts at the local paper, the Brunswick News. Andy is very attached to his laundry and his food, and is vocally expressive about his desire for his house-mates to touch neither.
Imagine the shock of the housemates this sleepy Saturday morning to find in the kitchen a Swiss Roll box torn open and mutilated to become the canvas for a hand-scrawled note with a red marker. "Who ate my Swiss Rolls? -A" The author of this note apparently angry, hungry and believing that whoever did eat the Swiss Rolls would fess up.
Sweet Terri must have fretted for hours before she saw me that evening. She apologized profusely that I had the misfortune of having someone eat my Swiss Rolls, me being so new to the house and all. After I explained I was not the "A" of the mystery note, she deduced it must be Andy, and commenced fretting on who must have taken his Swiss Rolls.
I looked for some replacement Swiss Rolls for Andy while I was grocery shopping that afternoon, but couldn't find any among the snack or bakery items. Though I hadn't eaten his, I felt increased compassion for his loss and probable difficulty in replacing them. I told him as much, but he just grumbled that it was probably Wade. This made sense to me, since Wade was the only one I hadn't met yet.
The Swiss Roll mystery dragged into Sunday. Though a day typically reserved for religious observance, it was not, for poor Andy, a day of confession and restoration. I heard Terri make her profuse apology to Andy for his misfortune, to which he grumbled that it wasn't the fact that someone had eaten one of his snacks. It was that they had eaten THREE of his snacks and only left him two. He did not, however, offer his Wade theory to her.
Sweet Terri decided it must have been poor Vito, since she realized she had forgotten to show him his shelf for food in the pantry. She promptly, and sweetly, informed him of his space, then sweetly reminded the other residents of theirs. While she was sweetly reminding me of my space, I suggested that maybe it was one of the dogs who took the Swiss Rolls. Maggie and Tek played along, licking various body parts and acting disinterested in our conversation.
"See," I told her, "look how guilty they look. They're probably still trying to erase the evidence."
"But look how high this shelf is," Terri exclaimed, pointing at the space about three and a half feet off the floor. "I don't think they could've jumped up this high."
Though I told her how they had jumped skillfully onto my bed, only a foot or two lower than the shelf, she just could not fathom her sweet friends stealing Andy's food.
And so, my sweet friends, the Swiss Roll mystery remains unsolved for now.
*Names haven't been changed because you probably don't know these people!
When we told our friends we were moving to Georgia for a few months, only a few world-wise folks asked us to clarify between Georgia the state and Georgia the country. Now that we're here, I'm beginning to wonder which it is myself.
This adventure has already produced a post-card worthy description of my new, temporary life:
"The people are very nice, the food is OK, we can't drink the water and being here makes us appreciate all we have back home."
The town of Brunswick is right on the Atlantic Ocean, but has a swampy, wetlands feel more than a beach town. Though old neighborhoods boast huge, beautiful, street-filling trees older than most of the residents, there are new sections of town that bring the comfort of every-where America. You know, the shopping centers with all the familiar big box stores and restaurants copy-and-pasted from corporate headquarters in suburbs all over.
Though only here 48 hours so far, I have a feeling this will be a fertile ground for my stated goal - to write. John is in training 6 days a week, and though I might seek some employment, I plan to focus on my long-forsaken dream to be a writer. Who knows what I'll write, but some of the people I've met already deserve a mention.
Like the lady sharing my table at Books-a-Million (right next to the Staples right next to the Rack Room Shoes...). She was probably in her 60s, accompanied by who I guess was her son, a middle-aged guy with Down's Syndrome. She was reading a magazine with Hillary Clinton on the cover, he was reading a book about the coach of the Cowboys. I was reading Stephen Colbert's book "I am America and so can you," (and laugh-out-louding about every 5 seconds). She turns to me and asks "Are you old enough to vote?" Flattered and proud, I answered, "yes, I am." We proceeded to have a nice conversation about our favorite candidates (her's Hillary, mine Huckabee) and the upcoming race. It was so nice to have that kind of dialogue with a Washington outsider.
Then as she fluttered around the cafe (everyone knows everyone here) I asked the gentleman if he liked the Cowboys. He started to tell me about his two favorite teams (Cowboys and Bears, he can't help it, he just likes both of them) and brag about their coaches. Maybe it was prejudicial of me, but I just loved him and wanted to keep talking to him. My baby nephew has Down's Syndrome and I liked the thought of him 40 years from now, reading and discussing his favorite things with a nice stranger in a book store.
Then, the lady came back and asked me if I was in school. Bless her heart. I told her how I just got out of the Air Force after 6 years. She said, "I'm so glad you did." I tried to explain how much I liked the service and how good it had been to me. She butted in, "I just couldn't stand to see a cute girl like you on two artificial legs." I thanked her and she and her son left (but not before he offered me the Cowboys book, since I had told him I liked the Cowboys, too).
So, maybe I'll just write about stuff like that. I couldn't make it up if I tried. You should stay tuned...
It's yes or no.
No chance for a 'similar, but not exactly'.
The reality is not subject to opinion or interpretation. The knowledge of the reality has varying effects on the knowers, but none whatsoever on the reality.
So then we come to the knowing.
This part is subject to hope, expectations, desires, dreams, emotions and timing.
Two weeks, six weeks, three minutes to know.
One word, two words is all you need.
Some seek the knowledge, others have it thrust upon them.
Some might think it so and be wrong, others might think it not and also be wrong.
What one thinks or even knows about it does not change it one bit.But knowing the reality (if it is) always changes the knower.
(This is from when I was deployed to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan from May-Oct 2006)
I figure it's finally time to blog a little about life so far deployed to Manas Air Base Kyrgyzstan. There's alot to tell, but since those e-mails with the one liners are so popular, I'll try this in that style.
-The weather is awesome, cool in the morning and evening, gets pretty warm (upper 80s) in day
-The dorm walls are very thin, but at least we have walls instead of a tent flap
-The dining facility is open 24 hours, but so is the gym
-12 hour work days are the norm, but it goes by fast
-People here have great attitudes and it's infectious
-I feel like I'm doing what I came into the AF to do for the first time in 5 years
-I really miss my husband
-I want one of those cool phones the people in the Tribulation Force had (see the Left Behind series) so I can call anyone anywhere
-We have Spanish and French coalition forces stationed here too
-The French military uniforms include shorts, which is just odd to see
-The French special forces wear really short gym shorts
-So, I gather...
-The French like their legs, alot....
-There's only one place on base I can access MySpace, a very hip internet cafe called Green Bean Cafe, and I have to pay to use the internet, so that's why I haven't taken the time to blog.
-But now I have.
Watching my baby drive off to battle
Pride in who he is and that he's mine
Mixes with stubborn fear that he's not
Then there's hope for the next time I kiss him
And a peace that it will be soon
But his place is empty, reminding me
A shadow of his presence, almost him but not
How many others feel this, but deeper and longer?
How many kids miss their daddy
While mommy must be strong?
How many mothers' arms ache for their babies
Or daddies' arms shake, so empty of wife?
Hope has got to be stonger than fear
Faith holding the light while joy gets prepared
Cause that reunion is sweet
The sweetest thing ever when love
Oh, my heart, when love
So, as you probably know by reading my other blog about wearing my pink puffy coat to the Pentagon, that I work at the Pentagon. Not only do I work there, but I am a proud member of the U.S. Military's finest branch, the U.S. Air Force.
What you may not know (but are about to) is that every Monday there are protestors lined up outside the Pentagon to greet us as we come out of the metro. Usually there's just a handful, 6 or 7. I think its pretty much the same people every week, or if not, at least the same kind of slogans on their signs.
"War is Sin" "Stop killing people" "Bush is the Devil" "Get out of Iraq"
You know, the type of things my brothers and some relatives post or send around in e-mail. :-)
Oh, most of the time there's this guy in a monk-like robe, even when it's cold, and he's beating on this little drum and chanting. Not sure what he's chanting, but it's probably something about peace or how he likes my pink puffy coat.
I think he's my favorite protestor because he gives me a beat to walk into work with. He's the one I miss the most on Tuesdays, especially those weeks where Monday is a holiday and our first day is Tuesday. The protestors are only there on Mondays.
Today was an unusually large crowd because Sunday marked the 3rd anniversary of the war in Iraq. It's actually pretty cool, because they notified us on Friday they were blocking off part of the parking lot so the protestors could gather there. With all the power the people in the Pentagon can bring to bear anywhere in the world, they'll set aside some space for people who want to exercise their right to protest.
They bring in extra security on mornings like this. Today it seemed the Pentagon Police outnumbered the protestors. It made me feel kindof like a rock star walking through this crowd of armed guards.
Last time there was a larger crowd was when the World Trade Organization meeting was going on and a couple hundred people stuck around in DC to come protest at the Pentagon. Somebody threw something on the people walking by, I think it was eggs or red paint or something. They had sprayed it off the sidewalk before I walked by.
Today, they were prepared and the walk was protected by large, clear plastic tarps, so we were safe from any thrown objects.
I write about it because it's a very unique experience. I wonder how these people would feel if I came to their workplace every Monday with a sign telling them I disagreed with them. Well, it might not bother them too much because they'd probably be at the Pentagon protesting what I do. But, maybe they'd be as happy to see me there as I am to see them.
It's a beautiful thing, this democracy. We go in that building and do what we do every day so our warriors overseas can do what they do so those people can stand outside our building and do what they do every Monday.
Ok, so every once in a while I wish someone would go out there with a sign that said something like "We support the troops" or "Thank you for our freedom." Maybe when I get out of the AF, I'll bring those signs and maybe a guitar so I could strum along with my drummer guy.
BUT... until then, I march on.