Treading (Cold) Water

In my most recent round of climbing out of the rabbit hole, I’ve read and listened to lots of people with lots of ideas about self improvement. In my interpretation, the most useful advice all stems from the exact same core ideas.

Not that I’m going to summarize them for you here. If you ended up on this blog in hopes of the answer to life’s mysteries, that’s unfortunate and hilarious.

I just finished two weeks of tech rehearsals for my new show. For you civilians, that means I haven’t slept or done the shit I need to do to be less crazy for a while. If you’re a parent, it’s a lot like having a newborn who doesn’t like you. I’m lucky to remember how the coffee maker works, I’m constantly checking to make sure I’m wearing pants, and my head is most definitely not my friend right now.

So core self-improvement ideas may be the same, but unless someone presents them in a way that resonates with you, they don’t hit. I’ve read innumerable versions of these same ideas over the years that didn’t make a dent.

The fact that I’m even attempting to write today comes directly out of what Scott Adams says when he speaks of Systems vs. Goals.  If you have system in place, you can fail at specific goals but still win. Putting out a blog post on Sunday is a system. It forces me to create something, connect, think about something other than work, practice writing, and do something scary that pushes me outside my comfort zone. It isn’t a goal to have x-number of comments, garner a book deal, or get more people than my immediate family to read it. Doing it is the system, and that’s enough.

Tim Ferris says that when you’re struggling, share the thing that you’re struggling with. Let it be embarrassing. Let it be honest. Let it be.

I can do that.

So we’re working ridiculous hours. It’s temporary, it’s part of the gig, and we’re making overtime.

Stupidly, we had a conversation about what we were going to put the extra money towards.

In the past month, the washing machine broke, was repaired, then finally had to be replaced. The next week, the garage door went. After that, #3 suddenly required a housing deposit for college that was inexplicably three times what it was last year.

Then the door fell off the minivan.

For fuck’s sake.

This was after the snow storm (By the way, stagehands don’t get snow days. Although if you’re super fortunate, your show may get you a room in the city, which mine did).

The door on the minivan was a conundrum. CC and I stood in the parking lot at eleven o’clock at night, with a combined total of six hours of sleep between us, completely baffled. We couldn’t get the door all the way off, and we couldn’t get it back on. Plus, all our tools were at work. It was towed to our mechanic. Then towed to the dealer. Then to the dealer’s body shop, where it remains today, ten days later. It might be ready tomorrow. It might not. CC leaves for Toronto on Tuesday.

And I’m still in production. Someone I love is in the hospital in another state and I can’t get to them yet. My dreams at night are of destruction and trying to solve problems that don’t have answers. I’m sure I’m going to be fired any minute, and convinced that this is the last job I’ll ever be hired for. I hide on my meal breaks and try to regenerate enough energy to finish the next session. I’m embarrassed how hard it is for me, but this is what happens to me when I don’t sleep.

Sleep deprivation is an exponential power added on to every single flaw and concern in my life. I just keep trying to remember that not all of the things in my head are true, and that all of the things both in and out of my head will pass.

It’s okay. Just take a nap.


Saturday morning I chose sleep over a shower.

Last night our hot water heater went. The plumbers come tomorrow, well after I’m at work. Once again, our overtime has other plans. And now it’s been a little while since I’ve been clean. I’m currently debating the merits of going to the gym to take a shower, taking a cold one here, or just simply not giving a fuck.

Right now, the latter is winning. It has a high chance of still winning at 5am tomorrow. I’d apologize in advance, but it appears I’m all out of fucks to give.


One Waitress Sunday

#3 got a job today. She officially starts training next week as a waitress.

#1 is already a waitress.

#2 has a job interview tomorrow for a potentially waitress-related position.

I used to be a waitress. Before I started pushing boxes and wrapping cables and making people louder, I served pancakes and eggs, meatloaf and midwestern spaghetti, and later, margaritas and fried ice cream. Waiting tables is hard work. Mainly because there are people involved.

I used to have these drowning waitress dreams. In my dreams, I would already be rushing around with five tables, and then the hostess would seat me a 20-top, a 7-top and an 11-top all at once. There weren’t enough menus. One of the tables would be upside down on the ceiling and I would have to climb a spiderweb to get up to it while pirates tried to unhook my fingers and kept trying to flip my tray. Each time someone ordered something I would go back to the kitchen only to find out we were out of it. Everyone needed separate checks at the last minute and there were six birthdays at six different tables, each one requiring that I make a labor-intensive free dessert with a complete absence of kitchen utensils, and then gather of as many coworkers as possible to sing the made-up Mexican birthday song.

I would wake from these dreams feeling like I worked all night instead of sleeping. I’d chase my hangover with a cigarette, the cigarette with a cup of double-strength coffee; I’d find a clean uniform shirt, spot-clean my apron, and put my SAS shoes on for another go-round.

There isn’t a single thing about this past life that I miss.

Every so often, even today, nearly twenty years later, I will still have a drowning waitress dream. Except now I will realize in my dream that this isn’t my job any more, and I untie my apron and walk out.

So given all the waitressing that is happening and is about to happen in my house, I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with a useful piece of advice for the girls, and I think I finally have one:

Smile often, and pay attention to your tray.

Because at some point your tray WILL betray you. You are going to drop stuff. If you’re lucky, you’re only going to drop that entrée on the floor, the one that your customer has been waiting on for half an hour; if you’re unlucky you’re going to drop it ON your customer. A smile is your only defense at that point.

At the mexican place we served beer in these 23-ounce Pilsner glasses. I had a table of four who each ordered one. I served the first one to the lady, at which point the tray tipped and dumped all over her. Every. Ounce. That’s 69 ounces of beer, for those of you who are counting.

Will you believe me when I tell you that she had just come from the gym and had a change of clothes with her in a bag at the table, a bag that miraculously escaped the Beer Deluge? And that my manager comped them and they stayed and drank all night and left me a big tip?

I figured that was my allotment of waitress grace, and I should get out while I could. I quit shortly after that.

How about you- got any drowning ex-occupation stories? Any good waitress stories?

Here’s your picture: My mom’s entry for my Pi Day Pie contest. She didn’t win a damn thing.

My mom used to cook. She gave it up for Lent when I was 13.
My mom used to cook. She gave it up for Lent when I was 13.

Here are your links:

Continuing on with our waitress & other jobs theme, I first got introduced to the Ziggens when I worked a Glenn Campbell show. Glenn Campbell’s sound guy is the drummer for the punk-ish Ziggens and gave me a disc. I played it and fell in love, particularly with this song, which made such an impression on me that I never ask anyone in my family if they want scrambled or fried; I sing “How do you like yo’ eggs?“. Later I got to do monitors when the Ziggens opened up for Dick Dale, which ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite gigs. The Ziggens: The Waitress Song

What makes you ridiculously happy? Worth it for the mutant animal sculpture alone. 5 Bizarre Things…on Ironic Mom

I loved this one just from the title, but then there’s also this awesome sort of walking dead chicken picture. . .    I Spatchcocked A Rooster Eunuch on The Food and Wine Hedonist.

I’m lucky like this too: Doing Life Together and the Division of Labor on Scattered Smothered and Covered

Do you greet your loved ones when they come home? It matters. The Homecoming Dance on Spectator.

Happy Sunday.




One Crazy Sunday

When we commute into the city for work, we’re usually on the reverse path of everyone else. People with more regular-type jobs are leaving; we’re coming in.

I like to imagine that a salmon swimming upstream to spawn has moments where it goes My God! Why am I doing this? Oh right. Happy ending.

Swimming the wrong way in a sea of people can be a pain when you’re not terribly tall, like me. And have demophobia that only gets triggered at a certain crowd capacity and/or speed, which is pretty much always reached in Penn Station and Times Square.

I usually try to tag a mark– some person bigger than me who appears to be going my way, behind whom I can fall in, while they make the path. This is much easier when I’m with my husband.

Because when I’m by myself sometimes I guess wrong. I tag the wrong mark and find myself pinned up against a wall, unable to make it to where I need to be without just ramming into a crowd of people willy-nilly. That isn’t taken too kindly here, and isn’t terribly effective given my size.

I finally figured out how to clear a path all by myself. How to get a seat alone on the train or the bus, how to get space around me on the subway, how not to get shoved accidentally down to the LIRR instead of the C train at Penn Station.

Look crazy.

Do you hear Patsy Cline? I totally hear Patsy Cline.
Do you hear Patsy Cline? I totally hear Patsy Cline.

The woman about to ram into me as I was exiting the elevator stopped dead in her tracks and let me pass. Nobody rushed at me when I was getting off the subway. I lead the way with CC behind me through Penn Station and I felt like Moses.

I saw people looking over their shoulders as I passed by. Observed people whispering as they passed me. But nobody blocked my path for once, and I had the added benefit of not being able to hear what they said. BECAUSE I HAD FOXES ON MY EARS.

This is how it begins, isn’t it? How we start to not give a crap what we look like or what we say in public as we age. It’s only a matter of time before we’re wearing fuchsia leopard print flannel pajamas in public while sucking on a long, empty ebony cigarette holder, being trailed by about a hundred and fifty cats.

I can’t wait.

Here are your links.

Richard Van As and Ivan Owen teamed up to create a robotic prosthetic hand, intending to post the design in the public domain so that anyone in need of one could make it. They recently completed their design and the recipient was a young boy named Liam (at a cost to his parents of $0). This is such an excellent project which is still in need of funding- their intent is to assist anyone who asks with parts and supplies as well as expertise. Please check out coming up short handed (the Robohand blog)

One of my friends shared this link with me and I think it’s an important and well-written piece: So You’re Feeling Too Fat to Be Photographed on My Friend Theresa’s Blog

Hmm. I’m sensing an encouraging theme here. Jen e sais quoi wrote this piece recently encouraging her friends that are going through a very rough time. Since I have several friends in a similar place, I’m including it here. You Are Not Alone.

Okay, I guess I’m late to the party, but I had never heard of Sam Gordon before. You neither? Sweet! I saw a clip of her during the Superbowl. She’s this 9-year-old girl from Salt Lake City who just finished up a season of completely kicking ass on a boys’ pee wee team. She’s got some crazy stats, and can also take a hit. Here’s a link to Kavitha A. Davidson’s article and the video on Huffington Post.

Finally, I know we got a little snow here on the east coast this weekend, but in Brazil, it’s raining spiders. (ummm, Darla? Are you aware of this?)

Happy Sunday