Hibachi Monday (#120)

For the past 7 and a half years, I’ve worked at the same restaurant that I got my first job in back in high school. While lots of things there have changed, including my job description from busser to server, one thing that has stayed the same is the comfort I find in my coworkers/friends, even on the most ridiculous of days. Today was one of those days.

Any day that kids have off from school, Ruby’s is also unnecessarily crowded. When it’s kids and their moms, it’s generally not too bad because mom usually knows what their kid likes and orders quickly, makes them eat quickly, and exits quickly. The problem is that on work days, moms often have to go to work which means that babysitters or grandparents take the kids out to lunch in an effort to entertain them. This is the only situation ever where grandparents are kinda the worst. They don’t know exactly what their grandkids like or are allowed to have, which means I end up standing at the end of the table for 20mins as they try to figure it out. Similarly, children can sense that Mommom or Poppop is not really gonna yell at them, so they act crazier and run around way more than normal. All in all, despite the large amounts of money we make, working the day shift on a holiday is always exhausting and draining. Luckily though, my co-workers and I have developed a perfect way to de-stress: HIbachi Mondays.

Hibachi Monday originated last MLK day, when the situation described above was in full effect and we needed something relaxing to do after work. Someone remembered that Hibachi had half-priced steak entrees on Mondays, which seemed like a sign. It also seemed to be a sign that the further away Hibachi had a lovely koi pond that that other Hibachis lacked. Since it was gonna be a far drive, and we’re kinda ridiculous, the only valid option was to pre-game before and during the ride, which resulted in a whole new level of fun watching our food get cooked.

Today we decided to bring back this lovely tradition of getting drunk before going to a family restaurant, and it was an experience as usual. I was the DD tonight, so I didn’t drink which meant I was able to fully appreciate the antics of my friends, which included convincing our Chef to give us shots of the sake he was cooking with, refilling our drinks with said alcohol, asking to feed the koi in the koi pond, and laying on the ground to try and pet them. I’m not sure how much the Hibachi employees enjoyed us, but we’re pretty good at making friends wherever we go, plus we tip like 50% so they were probably alright.

As I was driving everyone back to the Hibachi after party (yeah, I know. We’re excessive) jamming to some old school rap I couldn’t help but think about how blessed I am to have co-workers that aren’t just fun to work with, but are also genuine friends outside of the restaurant. I’m not sure if it’s normal to want to hangout with your co-workers every day, but I am so thankful that we are all kinda obsessed with each and equally enjoy getting drunk and eating good food.

WWJD (#119)

Just when you think you’ve reached a point where you’re beyond fighting with your parents over stupid stuff and have found a way to work harmoniously together (see yesterday’s post),  something happens to remind you that, no matter what, you will always be someone’s child which means that you will always have a parent to argue with.

Today this argument started when I came down dressed to go to church with my dad. He decided that the shirt I had on looked like a pajama shirt and decided that I had to change. I responded that if this shirt was good enough for Jesus, who hung out with prostitutes, that it should be good enough for him. We continued to go back and forth, and naturally my emotions betrayed me and I started crying so much that I couldn’t go to church without the whole world knowing I’d been crying. Well, at least that’s what I thought, Mum of course had a different idea and was extremely angry that I was missing church. I told her that was her husband’s fault, and to take it up with him before joining Grandma in the family room to catch the end of TV church.

It’s been a couple hours, and everything has blown over as it usually does, but the moral of this story is that just when you think you have maybe crossed the plane of being a grown-up, a wrinkly white shirt can send you right back to being a petulant teenager once again

Yard Sale Extravaganza (#118)

As most of you know, I have just started the process of moving out of my parents house and let me tell ya, it’s quite overwhelming. And it’s not like this is the first time I’ve lived away from home. I had a house up at school, and I even had an apartment for 4 months when I lived in Rome. However, this is the first time I’ve had to furnish a house, and damn, what a hassle. My roommates have it easy, as they are slowly but surely moving their current furniture in. For some reason though, I don’t think the bed my parents bought me when I was 3 is going to fit the vibe I’m going for in my new house. Not to mention, moving the furniture out of my current bedroom would not only be a huge change (which is the worst, obviously) but it would also mean that I couldn’t pop in and sleep at my parents whenever I want, which is kinda the reason I fought to get a house so close to them. Unfortunately, I also don’t have the money to buy any new furniture right now, hence my current conundrum. Enter: yard sales.

While I have casually dabbled in the yard sale scene before, my purchases were mainly limited to books and old records, but due to the suggestion of the two most practically intelligent people I know (thanks, Mum and Jane) I decided to give them a fair chance. I spent last night looking up yard sales in the area and plotting a plan of attack. Pops and I ventured out early this morning, and we were joined shortly by Tony and Mum and we ended up having a very successful day of yard-saling! For less than 200 dollars we got a kitchen table and four chairs, a desk, a super cool antique liquor cabinet, and tons of kitchen utensils and pots and pans. Pops also scored some fancy tools for a great price and I have literally never seen this man look so happy in my entire life. He disappeared to the garage with the man whose house we were at, and came out grinning like the chesire cat. Naturally, he had to immediately call Uncle Tony to tell him about the deal he got, and he wouldn’t stop talking about it all through breakfast.

Even though there’s still a lot I have to get, I think it’s safe to say that these peeps were right about yard sales. Here’s hoping that next week’s hull continues to be just as good!

An Ode To Mix CDs (#117)

Alright, there’s something we really need to talk about…

As I was talking about getting caught up on my blog, one of the poems I recently posted about a mix tape/cd came up and someone I work with, who is only a year or two younger than me, revealed that she had never received, made, or listened to a mix CD. What the hell man, what is happening to the world?! How do people even confess their love these days, or comfort a friend after a break-up, or find a perfect back-up gift for your mom’s birthday, or ensure that your sister has a good trip to wherever she’s going now.

All histrionics aside, I feel like mix CDs aren’t given the appreciation they deserve. Since Sophomore year of high school, I’ve tried to make a new mix every month to listen to in the car. A couple of my friends also made them, and it was the best way to share music because every car has a CD player. Well, at least they used to. I also prefer listening to a CD in the car because I get to avoid all the commercials of radio and I don’t have to fumble around with an iPod or Spotify on my phone or Bluetooth or Aux cords or any of that nonsense. I simply throw in a mix or an album I love and I know that I’m set for the next 12-20 songs.

Not to mention, a  good mix CD is still my favorite gift to give/get. There is something so unique and personal about being like here are 15 songs that I picked out just for you. Here are the songs I think you’ll love, here are the songs that remind me of you, and here are all the songs that we have memories with. Especially when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on someone, a mix is a thoughtful, free way to show that you care and that you’re willing to spend your valuable time pouring through your iTunes to find the perfect songs for them. I guess you could still do this by making a playlist online somewhere, but then you need that app to listen to it and you can only hear it when you have WiFi or extra data. Plus, decorating the front of the CD you’re giving to someone is half the fun.

I feel like I could go on about this topic forever, but, as everyone who rides in my car points out, no one else listens to CDs anymore. However, if you’re out there somewhere listening to your mix tapes in secret, don’t worry you’re not alone! Also, just an FYI that my birthday isn’t until the end of April, which is plenty of time to make a bomb mix cd. Just saying.

Lipstick Stains (#116)

After being a waitress for 7 years, I’ve discovered that you can tell a lot about a person by how they react to lipstick stains on coffee mugs.

Despite their best efforts, the dishwashers at my diner never seem to be able to fully clean our coffee mugs. This means that when someone orders coffee or tea I pull out 3-5 mugs looking for one that looks relatively clean on the inside and has no leftover lipstick on the outside. However, this is not a perfect system so every once in awhile a mug with lipstick sneaks through my inspection and accidentally gets served to a customer and their reactions are always very telling.

For  example, there’s this one super friendly businessman who comes in about every other week. He’s polite and always tips at least $10 which is awesome because a coffee + a normal breakfast only equals about $11. Last time he was in I accidentally brought him one of the aforementioned lipstick stained mugs, and he looks at it and goes “sorry, I don’t think this is my color!” We both laughed, I brought him a new coffee right away, he still tipped me $10, and we all survived the encounter in good spirits. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

Lots of people are pretty chill about it and politely draw my attention to it and are completely fine once I bring them a new cup of coffee. This people are generally the type of tables we all enjoy serving, because they realize that I am not a servant but a person doing a job. They also are the people who only make 1-3 modifications on their food and are patient when the kitchen gets backed up. Sometimes customers get extremely mad and demand for their coffee to be free (usually well-dressed ladies on lunch dates) or act like it’s the grossest thing they’ve ever seen (LOLS, guess they’ve never worked at restaurant). These are the type of people who say “I’ll have exactly what she’s having, but *insert literally 9 changes here*.” My favorite is when customers ask like me giving them a dirty mug was a personal attack on their dignity. More often than not, these customers are named “Lisa” or “Carol” or “Frederik P” and ask to talk to a manager before they leave and/or post an angry review on Yelp, as if it has any type of impact. These are the people we remember clearly and go out of our way to not serve them the next time they come in, because they always come back.

Moral of the story, don’t be a jerk to your server and remember that there are always people waiting to judge your whole character off of how you act in one particular moment. Check out any restaurant ever if you’d like to meet them.

Outdoor Reading (114)

I’m not a super outdoorsy person (shocking, I know) and I think it’s mainly because most outdoor things involve lots of moving and physical effort. However, one thing I do really enjoy doing outdoors is reading. I feel very old-fashioned and relaxed and like I should be in a Jane Austen novel or something. I don’t know, don’t question me on that one. The point is, when I first looked over the syllabus for my poetry class and saw a day parked as “Outdoor Reading” I didn’t think much of it. Well, yesterday was that day and let me tell you there was relaxing about it.

It turns out that “Outdoor Reading” does not  mean reading while you’re outdoors. Nope. What it actually means is doing a poetry reading outside, as in reading aloud, outdoors, in the middle of campus. Yupp, that’s right we had to casually do a poetry reading that was worth 5% of our grade as tons of students walked by and pretended like you weren’t doing something odd. As I realized this, my anxiety started spiraling and I started brainstorming ways I could skip class, even though I was already in class. I can’t think of anything I would want to do less than go outside and read poetry in front of a bunch of random people, but pretty soon everyone was putting their coats on and standing up and somehow I ended up getting shuffled out the door with the rest of them.

It turned out to be not as bad as I imagined. I severely underestimated how anti-social my generation is, because literally not one person stopped to listen to us. In fact, anyone who walked by went out of their way to avoid looking at us and half of them had headphones in anyway. I also forgot how nice it is to just walk around outside on a good, crisp, fall night. I can’t remember the last time I walked somewhere without either rushing because I was late or being bitter that I was “working out,” but the lazy pace of our stroll around campus was nice. It was also kinda cool to talk to the people in my class outside of the classroom. I keep being surprised that the other folks in my grad classes also want to be there as much as possible and have the knowledge to bring up poets and poems in normal conversation. I love being able to nerd out every once in a while.

All in all, I guess last night was a pretty good push outside my comfort zone and I didn’t have an awful time doing it. But from here on out I will definitely be on the lookout for any other syllabi that try to be tricky and lull me into submission.

The Perfect Mix (#113)

The perfect mix tape, you explain,
would contain equal parts 90s punk rock,
early 2000 club hits and a few
love anthems from the early rock revival
of Hair the musical–
a perfect combination of the best sounds
you’ve ever heard.

I think mine would include
your boyish giggle after you tell a joke,
maybe that Al Green song
we danced to all night,
your contented mmmm
right before we fell asleep,
and a constant loop of the first time
you breathed I love you.

Doop (#112)

Saying that sports aren’t my thing is a huge understatement. Despite my mom’s best efforts and my participation on every sports team imaginable growing up, the athlete gene I was supposed to get never kicked in. Which is a shame because there were so many parts I loved about playing sports. I loved being on a team and hanging out with my friends during the week. I loved making up cheers, and dance moves to go with those cheers. I loved eating orange slices at half-time and going to Nifty Fifty’s when we won a big game. I loved overnight tournaments and causing mayhem in hotels. Basically, I loved every aspects of sports except for the athletic parts, the actual playing of the games.

Surprisingly though, I absolutely love going to watch other people play sports. I love the vibe of being in a stadium or even a school gym and how hype everyone gets when our team scores. I’m also always impressed when people can do things so effortlessly that are actually impossible for me to do. So naturally a couple months ago when Chris won four free tickets to the Philadelphia Union, I was ready. Professional soccer hasn’t really had its moment yet in Philly, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The only pro soccer game I’ve been to before was in Rome, which was outrageous and aggressive and amazing. I was worried that this game would be a let down after that, but it turned out to be so much fun.

It was so great actually that we went back a couple weeks later, and today we went back for our third game, and the last of the season. And even thought Chris’s friend Brett bought tickets in the wrong section AND made us walk around in Chester instead of patiently waiting for the Lyft driver to pick us up AND consistently got us the most ridiculous drivers to take us home, I think I’ve officially become a soccer fan. Any team who’s main cheer involves shouting an absurd word like “doop” over and over again is a team I want to support. And who knew screaming at the refs was just as fun when you have no idea what the rules are? Plus, not knowing any of the players names means you can give them nicknames that are probably better than their real names anyway (Looking at you, White Lightning).  I have a feeling that by the end of next season we will be as obsessed as the middle-aged men behind us with season tickets complaining that #8 is having a bad day.

Stay tuned to see where Christina the Athlete will pop up next!!

My Life Is Ridiculous (#111)

Okay so as everyone who has spent more than an hour with me knows, my life is pretty ridiculous. It is often so ridiculous that even my closest friends and family still can’t believe that something happened, because even the most mundane, ordinary things that so many people do somehow turn into hilarious disasters. My best friend Chaney always says that God smiles on, and I oftentimes luck out in some extraordinary ways, but I feel like honestly its just him helping me out since there are so many other times where my life is total absurdity and He’s probably up there cracking up like it’s a juicy episode of a reality TV show.

In trying to explain this ridiculousness to people, I have a couple go-to anecdotes. My pants-ripping while volunteering with the nuns in India? Classic. However, this examples usually tend to lean more towards the spectacular, and in order to truly help people understand the constant practical joke that is my life I’ve decided that it’s time to share a more low-key, yet still ridiculous story…

Pretty recently my manager asked me to run over to Wawa and buy him a pack of cigarettes since I got cut from work early. Now, this dude helps me out alot at work, so of course I wanted to help him out even though I’ve never bought cigarettes in my entire life and could already feel myself having some anxiety about it. But, despite this anxiety, I asked myself the same question I always do, “how bad can it be?”, and headed off to Wawa. I guess I should mention that my manager is probably in his 40s, so it’s not like I was buying them for some underage kid. This will come up later.

My plan upon arriving at Wawa was to just walk-up to the checkout counter and ask for the cigs, because I had just had a talk with myself that day about needing to cut back on my spending of useless things (i.e. multiple soft pretzels).  However, once I was standing in the store panic set in. What do I say when I order cigs? Will they know I’m not ordering them for myself? Is “ordering” even the right terminology?! Obviously, these are the types of questions that required me to pace around the store pretending the read the labels on Tastykakes and protein shakes while I figured out the exact script of what I was going to say. During one of my laps, I was close enough to the cash register to hear someone else order cigarettes and I listened carefully to take note of exactly how they said it. This was the final push I needed and I made my approach.

As I was waiting in line for the nice cashier who had already sold the other guy cigarettes, someone opened up the line on the other side and called us over. Now, this is something that’s always annoyed me because clearly I can see that the other line is shorter, so if I chose to go the other person than they probably have a better vibe or something. But on this night the young kid was clearly beckoning me over pretty aggressively so I decided to give him a chance. I walked over there, and it seemed like he must still be in training or something, because standing right behind him was a man in a black polo with a name tag that said “manager.” So that wasn’t a good sign. I had to trudge along regardless, so I spat out my carefully rehearsed “can I have a pack of Newport 100s please” and crossed my fingers that I said the right name and looked like someone who would buy a pack of Newport 100s.

Unfortunately, the kid working must have been VERY new, because he just kinda turned and looked at all the cigarettes on the wall and then turned back to me with his own panicked look. The manager training him steps in to be helpful and points out that when you don’t know where a specific brand of cigarette is its always a good idea to ask the customer what it looks like. Alright, like I can see how that would be helpful except for the fact that I have no idea what the pack looks like and I’m probably about to get arrested for buying and grown man cigarettes. That’s how that works, right? I have a vague memory of seeing green when my manager was smoking so I gesture at a super general spot on the wall and say something like “it’s that green one there.” The boy still looks concerned and asks me to clarifying which one at which point my only option is to lie and say that my glasses aren’t on so I can’t really see but that they’re usually somewhere in the middle. Naturally.

The manager is clearly starting to get a little suspicious and he not only reminds the kid to ID me but then ALSO makes one of those jokes-thats-really-a-serious-question comments and says “You sure these are for you right?” Obviously we have now officaily reached DEFCON 1 and I am seconds away from just straight up running out the door, but the kid-in-training comes back just in time with the Newport 100s (which are in fact green, hallelujah) so I just laugh nervously at the managers comment, pay for them, and hustle out the door. As I get into my car, I look back and make eye contact with the manger who is now STANDING IN THE WINDOW WATCHING ME. I guess he wanted to make sure I wasn’t meeting up with any shady teens in the parking lot or passing them off to someone in the car. Basically, I almost got arrested in Wawa for buying cigs for my 40-something manager.

Now, some of you may be thinking that this story really isn’t that ridiculous, and I agree that compared to so many of my other stories it’s pretty tame. But that’s the point. You see, so many of my co-workers have also ran to Wawa to buy cigarettes for our manager and absolutely nothing out of the ordinary occurred. And yet, the one time I go of course someone is being trained who doesn’t know where the cigarettes are and I end up looking as suspicious as possible. This is the true level of a ridiculous life: not in the crazy stories of me choking on a fish bone or having to eat an eye ball in third world countries, but the everyday tasks that so many other people undertake with zero problems that turn into a comedy sketch when I do them.

Moral of the story, my life is absurd so stay tuned for more ridiculousness over the next year.