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Saturday, February 26, 2011

the fire lane

Home in Mechanicsville this weekend.   No trays, no tips, no long hours.  Just family, friends and coffee.  Lots of coffee.

I woke up this morning to the flooding of the sun into my Tiffany blue bedroom and the smell of my Dad's famous waffles crawling up the steps.

When I was a little girl, I absolutely loved Saturday mornings for this very reason.  Every Saturday would either be pancakes or waffles day with Dad. 

I'd step into the kitchen early Saturday mornings in our little house on the Fire Lane - I always loved the name of the road I grew up in.  The Fire Lane house was a very small brick ranch on over an acre of lush green property.  To look at it now, it seems more like a dollhouse rather than a starter home for a family of three.  

But it was where my family began.  And it was where the Saturday breakfast tradition began.  I'd come running down the hallway in my barefeet and my favorite floor-length night gown that made me feel like a princess.  I'd find my Dad in the kitchen cracking eggs and pouring milk into a large plastic bowl. 

Always feeling like quite the culinary genius, I'd ask my dad to hold me up over the counter.  I'd stir the batter until it was thick and smooth.

When breakfast was ready, I'd smoother the crisp, brown waffles in some sort of Smucker's syrup.  It made everything sticky and wonderful. 

I don't know if I should divulge the fact that I loved pancake syrup so much that one morning my mom woke to find me sitting on the floor of our pantry, drinking boysenberry syrup straight up from the bottle.  

This morning I didn't wake early enough to help my Dad stir the batter, but we did sit around and chat it up, like the old days on Fire Lane.  I was still his barefoot, curly-haired, syrup loving daughter.  We talked about our latest musical downloads (his, Lionel Richie's greatest hits, mine Adele's new album, 21).

Happy Saturday!


Thursday, February 24, 2011


Stir fry night.  Six hours. Five tables.  One spilled child's Dr. Pepper (even though it's in a plastic cup with a LID - how that little guy managed to spill it all on the floor I'll never know).  Forty-eight dollars.

BUT I did come across the best fortune cookie ever:

...in bed...

Also, I got a pretty interesting comment card - we hand out these "comment cards" to customers asking how their experience at the restaurant was - saying that:

Brett was an attentive and friendly server.  And very entertaining.

Very entertaining? 

Yeah, that was the customer I got in an argument with.  When I told him I was from Richmond he made a face and told me that "People from Virginia Beach don't like Richmonders, and Richmonders don't like people from here."

And I was like..."Well...I'm here to bridge the gap?"

Sometimes it's hard for me to reign in the sass.  But, you know, don't trash talk my city!

Typical night in the post-holiday restaurant season.  Which I have to admit has been a bit of a relief.  All of the servers here have grown accustomed to working double, sometimes even triple shifts.  I think the record of the season was an eighteen hour day.  Ridiculous.  So, as far as I'm concerned, it's okay if things slow down.  Give us a chance to live our lives on top of serving others. 

Anyway, it's spring break.  Can you believe it?  I'm so confused.  I can't believe I'm almost halfway through my graduate school career. 

I've been thinking about what's next.  I'm always thinking about what's next.  And I have to admit, I've been praying a lot about pursuing my Doctorates.  I figure as long as I'm getting a seventy-five percent discount on tuition for working at the inn, I might as well see how far I can run with it.

Plus, it would drive me crazy knowing there's a degree out there that I don't have. 

I don't think I'll be good and ready to leave this place in a year.  But, there I go, running away with the future again...I'll stick to the here for now.

Happy Thursday!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

walking at night

My feet felt like lead statues after my eight hour shift at the inn.  It was a night of constant refilling drinks and special orders like...

I want this salad...

but I don't want croutons...

and does your soup of the day have gluten because I'm intolerant...?

and may I have a side of oil and vinegar, with no dressing...?

and can you get me two high chairs for my sloppy children...?

and I'll be sure to tip you ten percent of my bill after leaving the world's biggest mess for you to clean.

But the sky was so clear and the stars were so bright that a midnight walk was definitely in order.

I texted my neighbor: Doing my paperwork and then heading home.  Wanna walk? He replied: Let's go.
And so we went. 

Our usual route is just a couple of loops around the neighborhood.  But the past couple of days we've taken a trail across the street that leads to a pretty large lake.  We've never gone through after dark. 

My friend stopped. 

We were in the middle of a game, fighting over who gets to kick the pine cones that have fallen in the middle of the sidewalk.  Stupid, I know, but most of our outings escalate into some sort of competition. 

He looked at me and then looked at the woods.  Next thing I knew we were walking down the path leading to the lake.

It was so quiet that even the tinniest snap of a twig beneath my feet made a crunch as loud as the cymbals in Sousa's march.  He warned me to be very quiet and to match his pace when we walked.

I couldn't clearly see his face, but I could tell he was annoyed.  He said, "Brett!  Heel to toe." 

"I am! I am!" I said.  Then after a few uniform paces, there was inevitable snap beneath my feet. 

He told me how important it was to stop and listen.  To make sure there wasn't something or someone following us.  He's so paranoid about things like that, but for good reason.  Let us not forget the fox incident that happened the first night we met.

We heard the sound of rustling in the leaves, and he had me so high strung that I nearly ripped his arm off, I grabbed it so quickly.  He just smiled and stood patiently with me for a moment.

And after a long night of running around the restaurant, and taking care of other people's needs, I was taken care of.  Someone cared about my protection.  Someone worried about the surroundings so that I could enjoy myself. 

Then, in the distance, we saw two deer. 

They left as quickly as they had come.  And before long, we did the same and began the trek back to our homes for the evening.

Happy Saturday!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

I can't help it. I love serving.

Now, I know how people get caught up in this industry.  It is such an awesome feeling to serve.  To go above and beyond.  Further to minister to the people that I serve. 

MORTAR of the day came from the ladies who left me a gratuity of 50% and a love note on the ticket.

Y'all, sometimes serving sucks.  I'm not going to lie.  It's so stressful.  But it's things like this that make everything worth it.  It even makes up for the crabby pants who suck down sodas and expect 6-8 refills when my entire section is packed.


Check it out, y'all. 

Sitting on my porch with peanut butter toast and coffee, listening to the Morning Glory soundtrack while simultaneously doing laundry.  I'm so oddly productive when the weather is nice.  Y'all should see the inside of my apartment.  All the stuff I have to keep myself accountable for - like dirty dishes, dirty clothes, crumbs on the rug, they're all taken care of. 

I haven't been procrastinating.  I almost don't even recognize myself.  It's like this baby prelude to the spring just surges within me and makes me want to crank it up a notch or two. 

It also makes me want to blog and exercise more.  Go figure.

It's also days like today that remind me who I am and what I'm here to do.  It's so freeing.

One of my girlfriends, and writers for the Daily Runner -- the small online news publication I am the editor in chief of -- wrote this refreshing article: Ode to Mount Trashmore

Barbara is one of those people who you feel automatically at peace with.  Yesterday, my Regent girlfriends and I were sitting in our mini-documentary class, watching each others interviews.  One of the girls interviewed Barbara on the beach. 

The backdrop was so beautiful - the sun was setting, seagulls were everywhere, and there was Barbara.  Completely free and herself. I was completely captivated by the whole picture.  It was stunning.  Then I immediately became sad.

I don't think I would have looked quite as natural and at peace walking on the beach if someone were interviewing me at this point and time of my life.

I decided then that I, no matter what, would no longer carry tension from the restaurant or school in my shoulders and face any more.  No matter what, I will be free.  I am free. And I will act accordingly.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

stumbled upon this little gem while reading an article for my research evaluation methods class

[On the sense of community felt among the Maasai people - a group living on the Tanzanian and Kenyan border]

"Others try to reach the moon, we try to reach our villages."

-Julius Nyerere, former president of Tanzania

Such a commentary on the priorities of the nations.  Ours don't seem to match up as powerfully as those in the third world.

Happy Tuesday!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

mortar: a new segment

The great thing about being a waitress is that you don't ever have to take any of the stress from the office home with you.  People who make you angry and who make you swallow your pride and continue serving them with a smile, or make you take back food that isn't perfect and run into a conflict with a chef are just tickets that you have to ring up at the end of the night.

They are just receipts that you have to balance out and make sure add up.  Suddenly the man who is upset because his burger took 15 minutes to cook is just a little piece of easily disposable paper that you have to turn into the front office. 

Then you're off, you don't have to think about him ever again.  Thank heavens!

But sometimes people that you meet along the way are more than just receipts.  Which brings me to my new *segment (I like to think of this blog as my own built-in-do-it-yourself talk show, so yeah, we'll call it a segment) called: MORTAR (MORe Than A Receipt) where I reflect on the good guests - anonymous of course - who I come across in my evenings waitressing. 

And it's perfect, because a mortar is something you create food in.  So it's all good.

Well, today's mortar of late is a woman who was visiting the inn with her husband and son from Rochester, New York.  She was in town for a conference we were holding at the inn called the "Throne Zone." 

Don't ask me how we started talking about the Lord, but we did.  These things just tend to happen.  She said she was a "truth-seeker."

"The truth is like a little nugget of gold," she said.  "And you have to pan through a lot of dirt before you can find it."

She was so right.  Sometimes I feel as though my vision is so clouded by lies.  They greatly outnumber what the truth is.  And you have to shift through a lot of garbage, lies from the world, from the media - even from that little voice inside you own mind - in order to find it.

But when  you find it, it's so valuable.

It's like the show Gold Rush that my friend and I like to watch together.  These guys will stop at nothing, even severe illness, to find the tiniest little specks of gold. 

We need to be that vigilant in our own search for the truth.

All this realization from serving a beef brisket to a woman from Rochester.
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