stomach self-pumping.

A warning to those with weak stomachs: this entry is all about vomit.

Monday night was really the first time I'd ever been sick by myself. I've lied half-dead in bed alone during the day and I've certainly had my share of rotten colds, but I've never been all-out sick and alone. No boyfriend, no roommates, most importantly no mother.

I know some people who relish being alone when they are sick. Granted, most of these people have children. But some people just like it anyway. This is not my family's way of being sick. We got blankets, juice, pats on the head, sodas, and best of all, sympathy. We didn't have to do anything to take care of ourselves, or anything at all. Our job was to be miserable. This is not to say that we were smothered. Unless we wanted to be smothered, and then we most graciously were.

We had a vomit pan. I'd always kinda figured that this was universal, that every family had a vomit pan. I've come to realize that more and more things that my family did are not universal. Casey was completely appalled at the idea of a vomit pan. Particularly when I told him that it was a regular pan that we also used for cooking. I mean, really, we washed it.

It was always the same pan. My mom has a set of pans, I think, because they're all kinda the same, but different sizes. The vomit pan was chosen as such because it was just the right size to be sure and not miss, but without being cumbersome. And if you ever threw up more than the vomit pan could contain, then you had more problems than just a mess on your hands. The vomit pan had a dent in the bottom, about the size of a quarter.

When I'm well, I can still stick my face close to that pan and feel a little queasy.

The most miserable part of Monday evening was that after I'd emptied the contents of my stomach into the pan, I had to go empty it myself and then get my own drink of water. It was insult to injury. It was in the middle of the night, so I couldn't really call home and get some sympathy and then allow my mom to offer to come take care of me, which I would refuse to let her do. No one even called me a poor sweet baby.

My life is so hard.

And then I went home and was sick again. (Go ahead, ask me how Christmas dinner was.) But this time, I did it in style. It was the middle of the night, and I was staring at the dent in the vomit pan, wondering if my stomach was actually going to follow throw with its threats to hurl. And then a new worry entered my mind: what if Mama didn't hear?

My mom used to wake up at the slightest noise. If a kid threw up in the night, she woke up and came running. She woke up when we got up and got a drink of water, she woke up when we came in from being out with friends. It might be a mother thing. But lately, she's been sleeping more heavily or something. Maybe Daddy's snores drown the other noises out, in which case, if the fire alarm ever goes off, they are in trouble. She no longer woke up when I came in from being out, and I wondered the other night if she would wake up when her poor sweet baby was sick.

And then I finally did throw up, and I heard the sweet, sweet sound of my dad's tie rack banging on my parents' bedroom door as it was opened quickly followed by stockinged footsteps. And when I was done, I laid back and waited to die while my mother emptied the pan, got me a drink of water, and patted me on the head.

If one has to get sick, this is the way to do it. I just wonder how old I have to get before I can't get away with this anymore. I'm going to have a hard time selling Casey on the idea of keeping a designated vomit pan around, even if I promised never to cook with it. Could I train my children to do this?

And now you know why I haven't written in a week. I wrote most of this in my head as it hovered over a pan with a dent in the bottom. Now don't you feel bad about all the threatening phone calls?


wonderful granddaughter, special girl.

When my grandmother sends me a card, it's always one with a pretty picture on the front and a nice message on the inside, sometimes a message so long it's a wonder anyone ever stuck around to read it. But I always read it, no matter how long, even if it is written in loopy script that is very attractive and hard to read, because I know that my grandmother read it and that she meant every word that the card-writer wrote.

She writes "Dear Sandra," at the top, before the message, as if she wanted to write me a letter, but happened to find this card which said everything she wanted to say anyway. If there are important parts of the message, she underlines them for emphasis. Usually the underlined parts say things like "wonderful granddaughter" or "special girl" or something else complimentary.

At the bottom, she will usually add her own message, words that she wanted to say, but apparently could find no card that said it. They tell me that she loves me and she hopes I am doing well, and usually something in particular about an interest of mine to show me that she remembers little things about me and that she cares. She may call me wonderful and special a little more, and underline her own words.

Then she signs it in her nice grandmother handwriting and sends it to me, where I receive it. I read it, the whole thing, and it makes me smile at the sweet way that my grandmother sends cards.

I don't send cards with long messages. I put those down without reading them all the way through in the store. I send cards that have a joke or maybe a silly picture on them. I never underline or put a greeting at the top.

I think someday, maybe when I am a grandmother, I will send cards with long messages with underlined parts. I may underline random things just to see if my grandchildren are paying attention. And then they will get them and read them all, even if the card happens to contain Hamlet in its entirety, because their grandmother sent it.


getting crabs.

Yesterday, Ashley and I took a day of Colossal Christmas Shopping. And since it is the holidays, that pretty much means retail shopping.

We headed down to Winston-Salem, where they have a mall that is bigger than any mall needs to be. I won't go into the time we spent trodding around, looking at half a million handbags with initials on them, wondering if a big group of Catherines, Claires, and Cindys had come through just before us and taken the bags she could buy for her sister. Just so you know, things with your first initial on them are so in this year.

We were in the bottom corner of the mall, the very last few stores, when I saw this little booth in the middle of the hall that proclaimed "HERMIT CRABS". I was fascinated. It was true that I had not yet bought anything for my nephews Sidney and Lincoln. It's true that I'm really not even required to buy them anything, cause they're little and I'm a slacker college student. But I really wanted to buy them some hermit crabs, because that is exactly the kind of thing a Cool Aunt Sandra would do.

These crabs, they had a gimmick. Their shells were painted. Some were solid color, but most of them had a picture of Santa or Spiderman or whatever on them in very bright colors. The man running the booth, a young Latino in a Pink Floyd shirt, tried to help me pick out a crab by pointing to the ones that little boys would like. But those shells were so unnatural, I couldn't bear to get one. I managed to find two crabs with seashells that looked like seashells instead of billboards. I got two because that was the deal: two crabs, a little food, a sponge, and a small cage. It only occurred to me after I left that I may have overpayed, as it was a booth in the mall and I probably could have shopped around and bought a couple of crabs for less. But hey, overpaying is the spirit of Christmas, and I think the boys will love them, so it's all good.

I am fascinated by these crabs. I never knew hermit crabs to be quite so active, or even quite so ugly. I set up their cage last night and and then just watched them for a while. They hide in their shell if you move around, but after a few seconds they pop out and walk around, accepting you as part of the scenary.

Now I want to keep them. I'm not going to, because I really don't have room for them. And I don't have a great history with pets, although the pet you feed every couple of days is probably the best choice for me. But I'm going to be strong and hand them over to my nephews to be fascinated with.

Now I am going to go to a couple of thrift stores and see if I can't find a bigger aquarium. And some presents for people who probably do not want hermit crabs.


plu 4080 peru.

I'm trying to focus on the fact that after Tuesday, I can sleep til noon and then lie around in my pajamas and eat ice cream all day long if I so desire. I'm taking a break from the pathetic attempt at studying Calculus that I made earlier to write a little something before I make yet another pathetic attempt to study Calculus. I'm going to throw up some little tidbits tonight, not anything of real value or even things that go together.

I've been collecting asparagus bands. Asparagus comes in bunches when you buy it at the store, and the stalks are held together by these colored rubber bands that say the produce number, hence how I know the bands are from asparagus (It's 4080, for all you produce trivia buffs out there). Every weekend, usually on Sundays when the produce truck comes, I find these bands lying around the restaurant. The first time I wore one on my wrist and gave the others I found to other servers, since they are the exact perfect size to stay put on my wrist without cutting off any circulation. We made an asparagus club. I also made some remark about how they look like the rubber bands they use to castrate goats and was rewarded with looks of absolute horror from the guys. Now I just pick them up and put them on out of habit. And now that it's officially a collection, I'm stuck with them. And really, what do you do with purple rubber bands that say "PLU 4080 PERU" on them? I myself put them in a jar on my desk.

I have bought exactly one Christmas present, a hideously tacky belt buckle for Nick which he will love and Ashley will hate. I know what two more presents are going to be, but I'm at a loss for the rest of them. Casey in particular is always difficult to buy for, not because he doesn't have any interests, but that they seem to be of an expensive nature. I told him I was going to get him a fiancee for Christmas, and then he asked me if she was going to be hot. Such a funny boy. Anyway, I'm planning on wandering around some stores later this week in hopes of stumbling onto something appropriate for anyone on my list, otherwise everyone is getting a pretty wine bottle. An empty one.

The slow business is starting to weed out the servers at work. A few people have already quit, and several more are talking about doing it after New Year's once the holiday rush is over. I've resigned myself to working there til I graduate, but it's sad to see all these people go. I can understand it, though. Today, four servers sat on the steps down to the sunroom for about two hours and whined, until Josh got the idea to walk down the street and buy us all fudge. Joe and Lynn didn't even realize he had been gone until he came back laden with fudge. The day wasn't a total waste, as I did get to go home early after making my $14.

I didn't send out Christmas cards this year, which is very sad. There really just wasn't time. I write a personal message on all of them, and sometimes it takes a minute or two to be witty, even for me. Plus, I write a holiday message to the postal workers on the envelopes. I blame this habit on my mother for two reasons: 1.) She is a postal worker, and 2.) she is part of the reason I'm goofy like that. But anyway, all that takes time, and I was too busy with silly things like class projects and papers. I feel vaguely guilty about it, but they never send cards back anyway, the jerks. I'll make it up next year by sending everyone an asparagus band.

That's it for tonight, folks. Hope you learned something.


from my head down to my legs.

So there's this party this evening, actually, it's more of a get-together. A potluck get-together, where there will be people I know and like. A true Methodist never says no to potluck.

I guess it's a Christmas deal, but I decided to make devilled eggs, because they're good, because they are what make potluck. Plus, they look easy enough.

Now, I've never made devilled eggs, but I have my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with the red gingham cover that will tell me what to do down to the simplest part, just in case I have to consult it on, say, how to hard-boil eggs. Plus, Ashley is here, and she can stand by and make sure I don't do anything stupid.

The point here is that I don't cook much. I really don't cook ever, and while things I make generally taste good, they look a bit rough and take about three times the amount of time to make than they should. But I'm getting there.

I was also undertaking eggnog. Someone suggested it, and I volunteered to bring some, thinking I would just pick some up at the store. Then they said it was much better to make it, and I was stuck. Then there was a lengthy discussion on salmonella, and I, with my great love of cookie dough and cake batter, did not partake. I have strong opinions regarding raw eggs and their consumption, and I didn't want to hurt any feelings.

So Ashley and I made a list of what we needed and headed down to the Winn-Dixie to pick up our items. We bought 3 dozen eggs, a gallon of milk, paprika, whipping cream, and nutmeg, which, by the way, is ridiculously expensive. But I was feeling the Christmas spirit and only grumbled when I didn't think anyone could hear me.

And then the joyous ritual of making holiday party food began. Except not. It would be inaccurate to say that I had two left hands in the kitchen, even with apologies to all the southpaws that such a phrase would offend. It would be much more accurate to say that I had no hands at all.

I'm pretty useless. But I try hard, and I want to do it. But still, Ashley did most of the work. She showed me the best way to peel hard-boiled eggs and the proper way to fill the eggs. I'm not sure who teaches her all these little tricks, but I sure would have appreciated it if they taught me some. I tried to do as much as I could, but in some cases it was near hopeless. After crushing the first egg in my hands, I separated one egg successfully to prove that I could and then let her take care of the rest.

We were both frustrated by the end. I felt like I was about five years old. I would try to do something, and she would ask if I knew how. Which would make sense, if I were not cutting eggs in half. There's a difference between inept and mentally disabled.

But you have to give her credit for doing so much of the work and remaining relatively patient making food for a party she wasn't even attending. And I would like to have done it all myself, but it would not have turned out as nicely as it did. If I were just making it for myself, that wouldn't matter, but others probably don't find egg shells in their food as charming as I do.

The egg nog will be tricky. It's chilling right now, but I have to finish it myself, since I'll have to do it at the party itself (Notice my frustration with not being able to do enough and how well it goes with my fear of doing anything by myself). I'm preparing to make a big fool of myself, so I'm going early to limit the crowd. We'll see.



why your coffee cup is empty.

Public radio was on while I was cutting a piece of cheesecake, not for me, for the lady at table 32, though I had high hopes of being able to scrape some cake off of the knife I was using when I was done, and Josh came running out of the kitchen, grabbed me by the hand and told me to come on, that there was Irish music playing, and we ran together to the back, the two of us until we passed Matt and I grabbed his arm and it was the three of us, a chain of running servers in matching white shirts, black pants and pinstripe aprons, except for Josh, because he never wears his apron, and then we got to the kitchen and did Irish jigs and also some Russian ones once we ran out of Irish jig moves, and it's days like these that I love my job.


the cream of the crop.

I think the kind of people that stack creamers are very special people indeed.

Maybe I am biased. I am a creamer-stacker, always have been. But every creamer-stacker always has been, for those who stack creamers are born, not made.

For those of you who have been trodding clueless through the past two paragraphs, allow me to explain. By creamers I mean those little tiny cups of half and half you get at restaurants with your coffee. You generally get two or three. I always ask for more, because I like my coffee how I like my men: pale and sweet. Some people let the creamers sit there while they look out the window or talk to someone. How they manage to concentrate on anything else while there are creamers there, so little and so stackable, is completely beyond me.

I find myself unable to resist the creamer stacking temptation. I may not reach for them as soon as they are put before me, but eventually I'll look down and realize that I'm fidgeting with one of those little packets of half and half goodness. And then I'll make a tower. If the server has already brought me the multitudes of creamers that I no doubt asked for, then I'll make a pyramid.

For the extrememly neurotic, me for instance, there are specific ways one must stack a creamer. I think this is where you can tell the serial-stackers from the bored. On these creamers, there is a narrower end which makes the base. The top, which is where you pull back the paper to open the creamer, is much wider. When you stack a tower, you must stack base to base and top to top. When you make a pyramid, all participating creamers must be top-down. It is only correct.

To be honest, before I started working breakfasts, I thought I was crazy and alone in my creamer-stacking madness. You may now feel the same. But I tell you, I'm not alone. I tend to overburden my customers with creamers, as when they ask for more, by golly I give them a couple of handfuls worth, to make up for all the servers who gave me one or two when I clearly needed a bushel.

I had a customer proudly show me a set of double towers two weeks ago. Yesterday, a guy made a pyramid while the creamers were still in the bowl I served them in, which was smaller than the base of the pyramid. I knew I was in the presence of a master.

Since I have discovered that there are others in the order, I have taken heart. No longer will I hide my dairy-building secrets. No more will I knock over my skyscrapers of coffee-enhancers to keep hidden the fact that I am an adult and I play with food products. We are a special breed, the creamer stackers, and I am proud to stand among them.


all the krystals.

So, the lack of writing the past few days.

Actually, I've been writing quite a bit. And if you get a big kick out of reading code, then I will be happy to post some up here. It's pretty neat stuff.

But I'm taking a break from the frustration of debugging to tell you about the phone conversation I just took part in. I answered the phone, as I will sometimes do. It was actually ringing this time I answered it, so I had someone to talk to.

He asked if there was someone named Krystal that lived at this residence. I replied that yes, there was, but she was not in right now. He asked if I had talked to him earlier, which I had not.

He then explained that he had sat next to a girl on the AppalCart yesterday and all he had found out about her was that her name was Krystal. But he liked this girl, and he wanted to see her again, but apparently had not taken the opportunity to ask her out yesterday on the bus ride. So he went to the ASU student search engine and found the phone numbers of seven Krystals. And now he was calling all of them.

Krystal doesn't ride the AppalCart very often. I'm not even sure if she left the apartment at all yesterday. So I was pretty sure it wasn't my Krystal that this fellow wanted to make his. But I asked him to describe her, just to verify.

"Well, she was real petite, and had dark hair about shoulder-length and this great smile."

That description was the whole reason I wanted to tell this story. This guy had to be pretty taken with this girl to tell me, a complete stranger what a great smile she had. It was sweet and made me want to help him find her.

But I just did my part, and told him that the Krystal that lived at this residence had long blond hair. Considering that he had seven Krystals to look through, I did do one-seventh of the work. After I hung up, I wished I had told him to make sure and check for all the Crystals.

I did tell him good luck. I hope he does find her, even if the whole calling every possible girl thing is a little creepy. There's a fine line between sweet and creepy sometimes.


3 clicky solid blue pens with handles.

Pens are valuable items in a restaurant. There are never enough to go around. It didn't take me long to learn the basic pen rules of a waitressing job.

* Get the clicky kind with a handle. The handle part should be obvious - you need to be able to hang these pens on your apron, shirt, notebook, whatever. You can't be digging through your pockets all the time. It looks a little silly and wastes valuable time. Trust me, that absent-minded thing is only endearing with professors and not at all with servers.

As far as clicky vs. capped, this one was only obvious to me after the first day, the day I brought in capped pens. There is no graceful way to uncap a pen while holding a book. And if you leave it uncapped, the pen will go dry, and that's no good either. Plus, the handle is usually attached to the cap, and the pens come loose from their perch too easily when the caps come off and then you lose the handle altogether. Some old lady is likely to slip and fall on the handle, and then you lose your job, all because you didn't get a clicky pen. Think, people.

* Find your magic pen number. That is, the number of pens you need on a daily basis to be able to have some for customers with credit card receipts to sign, but still keep one for yourself. Obviously, the ideal situation would be to have a row of twenty pens lined up like an adorable pen army on your pocket. But that's not practical or even necessary. It is rare that you will ever need more than a certain number of pens, even if there is more than one credit card receipt out at a time. At most, you may have to give a customer the pen you use to take orders. But in the short amount of time it takes someone to sign their name, it is unlikely that you will have to take an order than you can't remember. On those rare occasions where the magic number proves to be not enough, it is allowed to temporarily borrow a coworker's pen with the promise of immediate return.

My magic pen number is three. I have to borrow a pen from someone once every month or so. Once I tried carrying four pens. I lost a pen, the only pen I have ever lost in all these months of waiting tables, on the very first day of the four-pen experiment. I found it about a month later in the employee parking lot, looking like it had been run over a dozen times, though it did still work. Rather than put it back in my pocket, I took the incident to be a sign that magic pen numbers are not to be messed with.

* Get matching pens. This is practical just to prevent pen loss. If someone finds a wayward pen, they'll know it's yours because it looks like all your other pens. There is no room for confusion here. Plus, it just gives a more professional look about you, you with your little row of mathcing pens peeking out of your pocket, ready for order-taking action. It definitely makes up for the marinara stains on your shirt. My pens are all solid dark blue, thin basic pens.

There you go. Even if you never have the experience of being a server yourself, pay attention to your next server's pens. A lot more thought went into those than you'd ever think. Unless they break all the rules, then either your server is a very bad one, or they're just not as anal-retentive as I am. Both are equally likely.


a completely dirty entry.

Our music selection at work consists of five discs on a changer of CDs that we change every couple of months or so. The discs that we play are sold at the front for about sixteen bucks apiece. We play stuff that generally no one can dislike, but that some people really love. That Josh Groban guy? He sells CDs, even at sixteen bucks apiece.

Andrew is one of our servers, but also one of Joe's favorites. His opinion is taken seriously, and he was allowed to order some new CDs for play. He ordered a classical music disc, picking it out by the blurb and the title and the composer, Beethoven to be exact.

The CD arrived and revealed itself as having a parental advisory and a half-naked anime-esque couple on the front. Obviously, we could not sell this at the front, though the songs simply were plain old Beethoven. The blurb on the back was all about enhancing pleasure for both you and your partner.

The CD, called Bedroom Bliss to Beethoven, is one in a series of classical artist compilations sold with a semi-erotic theme called the Love Notes series. There are others, including Making out to Mozart and my favorite, Shacking up to Chopin.

The possibilities provided by sex, classical music, and alliteration amused us for the rest of the afternoon. This is how intellectuals make dirty jokes. Some possibilities for future Love Notes releases, as provided by the staff at Vintner's Restaurant and Wine Shoppe:

Copulating to Copland
Moaning to Mozart
Getting it On to Grieg
Making Whoopee to Mendelssohn

I found this article about the series and the mini-controversy surrounding it. It's a long article, don't read it. But look at the covers of these CDs and imagine me selling one to an old lady from Florida and telling her how much I hope she enjoys it. And here's a little snippet from the article about Bedroom Bliss to Beethoven:

The covers of the "Love Notes" series feature cartoons of nude or half-nude young couples, drawn in the exaggerated style of Japanese anime and depicted in flagrante delicto. Each also has a mock "parental advisory: sexual content" warnings on the covers. Or perhaps the warnings are intended to be genuine: the extravagantly unembarrassed marketing copy on the back begins, "Love Notes are erotic fantasies programmed to maximize your pleasure, from playful overtures to fulfilling consummation." Inside, the Beethoven program begins with the nascent Romanticism of the "Moonlight" Sonata and makes its way through Für Elise, the Fifth Symphony and other selections, before culminating, perhaps optimistically, with the "Ode to Joy" from the Ninth Symphony.

The whole thing amuses me to no end. I intend to think of these all week. Come up with a good one and I'll claim it as my own to my coworkers. And there truly is no greater honor than that.


alcohol and women.

Our resident bad boy at work used to be a 35-year old dinner chef named Jarrett. In the six months that we both worked there, he'd been arrested a couple of times that I know of, and I'm generally behind on the workplace gossip.

Aside from being mildly unstable, he was perfectly obnoxious. He told me once that his only weaknesses were alcohol and women. The alcohol got him into jail, the women got him marked as someone to be avoided by all the waitresses. He had a list of inappropriate and almost clever (the first time) comments that he used to hit on everyone. No doubt he got them off of someone else with more capacity for wit. For example, according to him, he tasted great AND was actually more filling. You get the idea. He would pretend to be sorry if he saw you were offended, but conveniently forgot that you told him to back off by the next shift.

The weird thing is, he had this girlfriend who was the psychotic jealous type. Maybe dating him made her that way. She came to pick him up or drop him off every once in a while, and was always very friendly. Her existence was common knowledge, though Jarrett only ever mentioned her if he was told by a waitress that she had a boyfriend. "Oh yeah, I got a girlfriend." He also tended to forget the existence of both the waitress' boyfriend and his own girlfriend by next shift. What a terrible memory.

Fortunately, I am and have always been the dayshift queen, so I rarely had to work with him. He didn't tend to bother me as much as some of the other girls, and I ignored him as best as I could. (Though I think I yelled at him once for slapping me on the thigh with a spatula, at which point he actually remembered to leave me alone for several shifts. Unnecessary.) Some of the girls would tolerate him for the fact that he would hook them up with free food if they were civil to him and laughed at his old jokes. No sandwich is that good.

With all this in mind, it's not hard to imagine that in the same way he adored all the girls, he felt threatened by all the guys at work. Maybe he figured out that while the girls were generally friendly, even flirtacious in some cases, to every other male in the restaurant, they learned to avoid him on the very first day.

One weekend this past March, he apparently decided that he would teach one of these other guys a lesson. Not because he was actually provoked, just because he was Jarrett. So, with all the force of his 35-year old maturity behind him, he keyed a waiter's car in the employee parking lot.

So stupid.

But we're all so very glad he did it, for it got him fired. I haven't seen him since, and I'm comfortable that with his poor memory, he wouldn't recognize me if I ever had the misfortune of running across him again. And I keep a spatula in my purse just in case I do run into him again, just in case he gets fresh.


have no fear! cool aunt sandra is here!

So if I've not made this clear before, my family tends to minimize holidays. We don't go trick-or-treating, we don't hunt Easter eggs, and we're lucky if we get Christmas trees up anymore. But, mister, we know how to do Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (other than Arbor Day that is, what a scream!), as it probably is for most adults in my family. There are so many of us, I come from a family of six remember, that Thanksgiving is pretty much the only consistent time that we all get together without someone having to either die or get married. It's loud, it's crazy, it is what the Chaos Theory is based on. But it's a good chaos. It's like chaos made with love and stuffing and apple pie. And we get at least one new baby every Thanksgiving. We're collecting the whole set!

I managed to get off work this year. Last year, Thanksgiving was held at my folks' house, so I ate dinner and left to come to work. It was the most miserable Thanksgiving of my existence. I decided that I was never working the blessed day of turkey ever again. I approached Joe about a month ago about getting off, fully ready to make a stand, complete with a full speech riddled with righteous indignation. I have worked every single holiday that we've been open since I started working there a year and a half ago. I was willing to work Saturday and Sunday if he gave me Thursday and Friday. He offered me Wednesday and Thursday and I took it. I didn't even have to whip out my sharp negotiating skills.

So tomorrow I'm driving down. I'm getting up early, at least I'm planning to, to make the hike down to Raleigh area. Since I have to come back early, I'm driving down separately from my parents. I'm pretty excited about the drive. I love to drive with the driving music of my choice resounding loudly in my ears. It makes me feel very free and young, but also very grown-up at the same time because I have the freedom to operate a motor vehicle with a stereo. I'm planning on making many many stops at various thrift stores along the way (as well as that wine megastore in Winston), because I am Sandra and that's what I do. The four hour drive should take me about ten hours.

Friday I'm not due into work until 10:30 (per my request), and I'm doing the early morning shopping thing with Casey. He loves to stand outside Best Buy at 5 am and wait for them to open the doors to the wonderful sales inside. It's a hardcore shopping experience, like the big yard sale at the armory but with electronics. So I'm going with him, because I am the best girlfriend ever.

I'm not sure if I'll update much in the next few days. Aside from being gone, I'm going to be working a whole bunch. Busiest shopping day of the year = lots of hungry customers. Maybe if I'm feeling frisky.

Just one more thing and then I'm off to work on a new mix cd for my fabulous drive tomorrow. This morning, Mama forwarded me a message from one of my nieces, which I have reproduced in its entirety for you, my loyal readers.

HI grandma Im sarah I can't wait for THANKSGIVING is sandra coming I hope so I haven't seen her in a long time.

I am cool aunt Sandra.


astronomy notes.

The girl who sits in front of me in Astronomy, she takes notes with a fine point Sharpie. You have to wonder about that, whether she understands what normal people use Sharpies for. Sharpies are for projects. They're for the labels on CDRs, for posterboard presentations, for things that explicity demand to be bold and/or permanent. Sharpies are not for notebooks filled with college-ruled paper.

For one thing, they bleed. They go right through the paper, leaving strange hieroglyphs on the reverse side. To solve this issue, rather than switching writing utensils, the girl only writes on the front side of each sheet. It's almost like she's trying to flaunt wealth. "I'm so rich I can use expensive markers for everyday notes - and I don't even use half the paper!"

This girl, I know her name is Laura. Her hair is dyed blond and doesn't match her eyebrows except at the roots. She wears very tight clothes, despite the fact that she is quite tiny herself. She must go through an awful lot of trouble to find clothes that tight. She wears dark eye make-up and ribbons in her hair. Pink ones, tied in the most perfect of bows.

I don't like her. I don't even know her. The only reason I even know her name at all is because she writes it in big bubble letters with her fine point Sharpie at the top of her notes. She's exactly the kind of girl who draws very good bubble letters. Some girls were always good at bubble letters, while others like me always ended up with crooked letters that grew funny tumors. I've always been bitter about my lack of bubble letter skills. The fact that Laura draws them so well only gives me another bad reason to dislike this girl I don't even know. That and the ribbons, the tight clothes, the make-up, the bleached hair, and the Sharpie abuse.

Mainly the Sharpie abuse.



originally written June 3, 2003

Mark called an employee meeting today. I hate employee meetings, and I'm not sure about Mark. He's the new manager, and like new managers in the past, he's trying to turn Vintner's around, to make it the money-making venture Joe, the owner, started it to be but has always been too inept to make it himself. New managers never last long, driven away for one reason or another. Joe being one reason, his wife Lynn being the other.

So we went over all the things we already knew at the meeting. Teamwork, friendliness, ironing shirts, etc., etc., and so forth. We also heard the spiel on upselling, which I hate. I'm not a good upseller. I hate having a server try to sell things to me, therefore I hate having to do it to someone else. Generally, everyone is bad at it, so I don't stick out too much. Bryon is fabulous at it (I swear I never said the word "fabulous" before I became a waitress.), but that's because he lies to his customers. "Just so you know, gang, in case you're thinking about appetizers, we just got the calamari shipped in this morning. I had one for dinner, and it was amazing," he says, with some eyebrow jiggling here and there for emphasis. Suckers.

All that took about an hour, and I was ready to head home. But then Mark made a surprise move. He pulled out some wine, and announced we were going to have a wine-tasting. Everyone agreed that this was a good idea. We sell tons of wine, and most of us know very little about it, though Bryon lies his way through his ignorance to sell a couple of bottles. We are handed two glasses of chardonnay, when the question I had been dreading is finally asked.

"Okay, how many of you are underage?"

Charlie the busboy and I raise our hands meekly. There are more of them, I know it, including Bryon, I realized later. I figure the game's up, maybe they'll let me go home now rather than watch them stick their noses in these glasses. Then Mark hands Charlie and I styrofoam cups and tells us not to swallow. Oh good. I'd been looking for a opportunity to spit in public.

We go through the process together. We look at the wine, talking about color and long legs vs. short legs. We smell the wine, in which case a few people must have had a different wine altogether, because theirs had apples and pepper and soft pears and oak in it. Mine smelled like wine. Finally, we tasted. I tried to taste the oak or the fruit, but never found it. I'm hoping it's an acquired skill. While everyone else talked about oak or fruit or whatever, I spit into my styrofoam cup as discreetly as possible, trying not to look at the swirling colors the combination of different wines and my spit made.

Afterwards, Mark asked me which of the wines I preferred, and I mumbled some excuse about not knowing enough about wines to know. Because, really, they had all pretty much tasted the same to me. Then I realized that for the most part, I had been so preoccupied with having to spit the wine out that I had paid little attention to the taste. Curse the evil that put my birthday where it is.

Finally, we were finished, and I threw the offensive cup away. At some point, Mark actually looked in it to make sure I was not sneaking a sip. (Although, with as little as I had eaten and as many wines as we tried, it was probably good that I, Low Tolerance Girl, did not swallow. Otherwise, I would have contributed much more to the conversation, probably insisting that I definitely tasted mashed potatoes with garlic in this wine.) He told us that we would be having more tastings in the future. I can't wait.


water management, part 2.

The leaks are all gone now, thank goodness. No more dodging dirty droplets every time I go to the sink. Ah, but there is a new dihydrogen monoxide problem.

We had major rain in Boone two nights ago. A couple of the high-traffic highways into town were closed. The final counts put as at about six inches, though I heard another town near here got nine. But oh, the water. The creek near the apartment was suddenly huge, and had we been more entrepreneurial-minded, we would have started selling tickets for white-water rafting. (Well, that and if the creek didn't go under a parking lot a little ways down the road.) The point is, there was a lot of water.

Have I ever mentioned to you that I live in a basement apartment?

I came out of my morning shower yesterday to see a long dark streak on the carpet in the living room. I stepped near the streak in what appeared to be a normal area, but no. My footstep was rewarding with squelching. Lovely. I had to change socks twice yesterday because I kept forgetting and walking out to the living room.

The whole living room was wet. We left a note on the rental office door, and the landlord came down and brought the rug doctor. We moved all the furniture but the sofas into the kitchen. You look in the kitchen now and you see a high-backed easy chair and a coffee table sitting in the exact middle. I want to sit in it with a glass of cognac and talk about this evening's Masterpiece Theatre (Actually, I've never seen Masterpiece Theatre, so I only assume that is what it looks like, mostly because that's what it looks like on Monsterpiece Theatre, the parody they do on Sesame Street). The couches were left in the living room and he just rug doctored around them.

Now we have a dehumidifier running full-time to dry up the rest of the carpet and a funny smell greeting every nose that comes through the door. We have to rotate the couches so that the area under them can dry. One is standing on its end with the other sitting down at odd angles. Our living room looks like a performance art piece. I keep expecting to look out and see a girl with a blindfold on reading the newspaper while sitting on the upturned couch.

The carpet looks much cleaner. And no worries, there were no damages to important stuff, though my green loveseat may smell funny from now on. Well, it smelled funny before, but now it's a whole new brand of funny. I started thinking a few days ago about whether I had anything important in the floor of my room in case of a flood. I was rather impressed with myself that I didn't, and then I realized my computer tower was in the floor and properly freaked out. (However, if it were ruined, perhaps I could get the rental company to buy me a new one. Do I hear flat-panel monitor?)

The rain has stopped now, the dehumidifier is doing a good job, and soon we'll be back to normal. We are all waiting to see what kind of new water problem we develop next. Perhaps Krystal's water bed will burst. I cannot wait.


mr. morton is the subject of the sentence, and what the predicate says he does.

So this paper I turned in Monday. 6 - 8 pages, single-spaced, 10 point font. On caching. But don't get me started.

Now that we've turned in our own papers, we have to review the papers of others. We fill out these review sheets and go through the paper, reading and correcting, red ink pen in hand.

I haven't edited someone else's paper since high school. My senior english teacher used to make us have "conferences" with our classmates where they read it and made suggestions, corrections, etc. I did not do this. I'm a private girl, and I didn't want other people to read what I wrote, much less make suggestions about it. So that's why I started an online journal, eh?

But other people would ask me to read theirs, or at least a girl that sat next to me did several times. I couldn't stand her. I don't know why she asked me to read her paper, since she had to have known she was low on my list of favorite people. Then again, no one liked her. Maybe I was just closest.

It was painful to read her papers. She thought she was some sort of fabulous writer, and maybe she would have been if she had ever gotten ahold of the run-on sentence concept. She honestly did not understand basic sentence structure. I read the papers, and I made corrections, but not many because it was just pointless. I filled in a couple of commas, fixed a couple of misspellings, and maybe connected a couple of fragments if I was feeling frisky. But I really didn't put forth much of an effort. It was like trying to fix a car that had hit a tree, fallen off a cliff, and then been chewed on and spit out by griffins. It would have taken the bulk of my senior year to explain to her what was wrong with her paper, so I did the bare minimum and let it go. I should make her a mix tape of Schoolhouse Rock songs. It might help.

I was dreading these reviews this week, I guess because my experience with editing other people's work has not been pleasant. I was surprised. I didn't hate it, no, I enjoyed it. Editing is not bad when you're actually editing, not rewriting.

Anyone who knows me should not be surprised that I enjoyed the red ink experience. I've been known to look at the class notes of my friends and make spelling corrections. In the notes, mind you, not in anything that is turned in. I did it last week, actually. The guy looked at me, looked at his now correctly-spelled test notes, and then moved on, when the appropriate response was probably closer to kicking me in the shins. I know it's obnoxious, and I'm trying to quit. Fortunately I have very tolerant friends. And they're pacifists.

I read a story in a book once where this girl wrote a love letter to her english teacher. It was a series of expressions of her undying love separated by ellipses - no sentence structure at all and rotten spelling. He red-inked it and returned it. She killed herself.

That story is my inspiration.

I do not wish for you, dear readers, to take this entry as encouragement to drop me a line telling me of my dropped commas or where you feel that the writing just doesn't flow right. It wouldn't even do you any good to do it anonymously, because I will immediately realize that you are a blood-relative. And I am not a pacifist.

Plus, I just may kill myself. And then what would you read?


the circle of life.

I take my throwaways to the thrift store. It's only fair, and I would be some kind of hypocrite if I threw them away or some kind of person with no space at all if I just kept it. I periodically go through my stuff; there's no scheduled time, just whenever I'm avoiding a particularly big project or I get bored enough to actually part with my things.

It's hard, really it is. The t-shirts are the worst. I love my t-shirts, probably unhealthily so. And I have to get rid of some really great ones. You have to be perfect to make it into the rotation of use. Let your size be off by just a little bit and you won't get worn. Many a good t-shirt has been passed along to the roommates or Casey or taken back to a thrift store. Then I see them on a roommate and I say, "Why did I let them have that?" But I have to do the t-shirts more often than anything else, because they are what I buy the most, and I just don't have the room to keep t-shirts I never wear. It is indeed a hard fact of life. My life is so difficult.

I take them out of the drawer in little piles and make more little piles. I refold them as I go, since they've gotten a little out of whack from being in the drawer. I make a stack of things that I definitely will keep. Then there is another stack of shirts that may not make it back into the drawer. It's the sad stack. After I put all the shirts that made it back into the drawer, I go through the sad stack and make the final cut, sometimes trying my own shirts on to remember how they fit to aid in my ultimate decision. Some of those shirts have been in the sad stack five or six times, but always make it back into the drawer.

But every once in a while, I have to look through the other clothes, too. Particularly the closet clothes, as I tend to run out of hangers. I know which things I haven't worn, but that doesn't mean I may not ever wear them. Today, I picked up a sweater, and this actual scene occured in my bedroom.

"Why did I buy this? This is ugly."

(short pause, examining sweater)

"Well, I might wear it someday."

(puts sweater back in closet.)

(end scene.)

It really is an ugly sweater, but it still is in my closet. I bought it fairly recently, at a bag sale, I think, and I am still giving it a chance to become lovely.

Ashley watched me go through the t-shirts this evening. I gave her a couple that were a little small. She listened to me and laughed, because I could name off where I got pretty much every single thing. "I got this in Kansas. I got this at a yard sale in Lenoir. I got this at the flea market in Rutherfordton. I got this in Atlanta", etc. It went on for quite a while. Had I thought she was interested, I might have been able to tell how much I paid for each one as well. And yet I can't remember who ordered the decaf coffee at a table of two.

So I've done another cleaning. I put the stuff in a bag, asked Nick and Ashley for their contributions, and made a list of everything in the bag. Then I take the stuff to the thrift store of my choice and give Mama the list for tax purposes. So all the stuff eventually comes back to the thrift store so some other freak can buy it and not wear it either.

Someday, somewhere I know this will happen. I will see one of my things at thrift store after I have donated it. And I will buy back my own item from said thrift store. And then I will know that I am indeed a very sad kind of person.


a little of this, a little of that...very little of that.

What started out as a seemingly easy semester has turned into the Incredible Semester of Big Projects Assigned Two Weeks Before Exams. Hence the lack of regular writing. I apologize to my faithful readers but trust that they understand that though schoolwork isn't necessarily more important to me, I realize that it should be and strive to make it seem so. If you would like to see more writing, I encourage you to write a paper on cache replacement policies and also a socket server program. Thanks.

While I'm here and typing, I might as well write a few things of interest.

I waited on Bob Timberlake a couple of weeks ago. However, I neglected the golden opportunity of looking at his signature on the credit card slip to see if it matched the signature on his company logo. I could have totally exposed him as a fraud. A little Bob Timberlake trivia for all you big fans out there: he ordered a turkey reuben with a seabreeze, and his wife had a salad with water. They tip in the 20% range. I was a little disappointed. I think if I were a millionaire and my waitress had been oh, so charming, I would have left her a couple grand. The busboy found a quarter in his seat after he left and said excitedly, "I've got Bob Timberlake's quarter!" It's the little things that make a body happy.

It's freaking cold in Boone. The Sandra signs of impending winter have occurred. (1) I wore my big wool coat to class. (2) I wore my polyester winter work shirt to work today. (3) I turned on the heat in my room.

These are important signs, the last one especially. I'm too cheap to turn on the heat unless there is a real danger of hypothermia. Last winter, I resisted until I found myself typing in gloves, and you really get no speed or accuracy that way. Plus, it was just a bit pathetic. I'm not poor. I'm glad to start wearing the winter work shirt. I wish I could wear it all year long, but it's 100% polyester, straight from the 70s. I could serve food off of the collar. The best thing about it is that I can take it off, throw it on the floor, stomp on it all week long and still pick it up to wear the next weekend without a trace of a wrinkle. Not that I do that to my clothes.

I'll close with a little story.

A friend and fellow CS major came over last week to work on a program. I was not expecting him, so my room was only moderately clean, and this is in my loose standards. We had to look at something on the computer, so he came into my room and started looking around. After a few seconds, he enthusiastically told me I had a great room. I asked him what he meant, because, well, it's just a room. The guy, who is a total hippie and just kind of a funny guy in general, said, "It's cool that everything doesn't have to be in its place." So, he was genuinely complimenting me on the fact that my room was messy.

See, Mama, it's not messy, just free-sprited.


the breakfast chef review.

As the breakfast shift queen, I feel that I am in fact the most qualified to write The Breakfast Chef Review. Also, I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who cares enough to do it. So here it is - The Breakfast Chef Review, the history of breakfast cooks at Vintner's since late July 2002.

Seth - There is little for me to say about Seth. I had to think for a couple of minutes before I could even remember his name for sure. He was the breakfast chef before I started working breakfast, back when Joe thought I was commuting from Lenoir and didn't put me on the schedule any earlier than 10:30. Seth worked there a long time, though he was at the end of his term by the time I got there, and seemed to be a nice guy. I heard that Joe used to forget to schedule morning servers, so Seth would take orders and then cook them, which is an amusing image for me. Then one day, Seth decided to just stop showing up.

Joe & Taylor - Let me clarify that this is not my boss Joe. That Joe is old and white, while the one that cooked breafkast was young and black and had a great big crush on me.
This was our only breakfast chef team. I'm not really sure why we needed two of them, as Joe was more than able to handle it for himself. They really weren't all that bad. Only at our busiest did they ever really fall behind, and they seemed to work well enough together. They lasted for about four months, when Joe's grandfather died, which apparently inspired him to move to Atlanta and marry his ex-girlfriend.

Taylor, solo - This is the same Taylor. While he wasn't bad in a team with Joe, by himself, Taylor is slooow. I didn't even realize it until we got other breakfast chefs and I realized how fast breakfast food could come out of the kitchen. And when Taylor gets behind, he gets stressed out in a hurry, and it's best to just leave him alone. He's fine in the winter, though, when we don't have enough business for him to fall behind. And he's a great guy. He is the most likeable person at the restaurant, which has kept him his job, as he has frequent difficulty showing up on time. As another note, Taylor is the only person that has been there longer than I have and does not own the place.

Sean - I liked ole Sean, though his political views were always much farther to the left than I could see. He wasn't a bad chef, either, a little faster than Taylor with the food being pretty consistent. He was the one who created the much-debated new breakfast menu. He would make us sample dishes from the new menu, and they were fabulous and vaguely exotic, things you would never taste at Denny's. However, he moved away, also somewhere south, before the new menu was ever put into effect. He moved because his girlfriend, who he had been with for something like a decade was moving and taking his son with her. Sean had some pretty strong anti-marriage views, and I think he may have pitied me with my traditional semi-conservative southern ones.

Taylor - Again. Taylor acts as our interrim breakfast chef, the guy who is our back up in between the time the old guy gets fed up and the time the new guy comes in.

Amanda - Under Amanda's breakfast reign was when I discovered how fast breakfast can be. I loved her. The food was fast, it was consistently good, and she was great. One of the best things about Amanda was that she had no issue with making the servers free breakfast if they desired it, which we usually did. She actually thought it was her duty to feed us. Amanda left in the state of transition for the kitchen. When the old kitchen manager left, she went with him. She would have gone anyway, as Joe kept trying to make her cook breakfast and lunch, which had not been per their agreement. Plus there was some friction between her and the new kitchen manager. There is always drama in a restaurant.

Donna - In The Breakfast Chef Review, Donna's role was the shortest. I'm not even sure that she lasted a month. Her brother or someone in her family was involved in a motorcycle accident shortly after she was hired, and he was in the hospital a couple of hours away. She would go visit him after her shift and come back before her next shift, with no sleeping hours in between. She'd also come in drunk, and make frequent visits to her car to keep up her drunken state. The management tried to be sympathetic about her situation, but she was rotten. She was slow and the orders tended to be wrong if they came out at all. Apparently, you cannot cook breakfast well when inebriated. There was an infamous morning when the manager had to help her cook, at which point Joe and the kitchen manager probably started trying to get him to join the kitchen staff.

John - I'm not even sure if John is worth mentioning. He's only cooked a few times, and is actually the sous chef. He's moderately fast and the food is moderately good. Sometimes things get a little burnt. If nothing else, he's a very likeable guy and never gets stressed out, even when there is a line of tickets as long as three of my arms. I love him for that.

Brit - My all-time favorite. I said that Brit was the best breakfast chef we'd ever had once in the kitchen, at which point they looked at me and said quietly, "Even better than Amanda?" I thought about it for several moments, realizing the magnitude of the idea of being better than Amanda, before finally saying "Yeah." Brit, real name Britain, was actually a waitress before volunteering to cook breakfast. I don't remember hearing that she had previous experience, but she surely must have, because she is good. The food is always good, the orders are always right, and she can cook it faster than we can serve it. She makes special order eggs that are not on the menu and even makes those stupid omelets that people figure they can create on their own rather than just pick one off of the menu. Brit has been trying to quit recently; I think her schoolwork has been suffering. The trouble is, she's just too nice to just quit and always gets coerced into working some more. I think the kitchen manager realizes he should hang on to her as long as he can, and while I agree with that, the poor girl hates it there.

So I realize this entire entry has no bearing upon anything whatsoever and probably wasn't even all that interesting. That's okay. I interested myself writing it, and frankly, you are lucky that this didn't turn into a lecture on how to behave as a customer when eating breakfast out. Come back tomorrow and we'll talk about the lunch guys.


anthony's song.

A side note: This entry had been up for a couple of hours before the rightful title came to me while walking down Depot Street. Apologies to those who read it earlier and shook their heads at the fact that I missed such an obvious opportunity.

So I've been thinking about the living situation.

Living here has been good. This is your stereotypical first apartment: cheap, borderline-condemned, with lots of character. But I think I might be getting past the stage where I want to live in a place with this much character.

I'm not really sure how we'd handle next year anyway. We all have one more semester to go after this year, and then we're left with an apartment for six more months. I don't want to deal with subletting.

I think it was Scott that put me on the idea of moving out. He asked me if it scared me that I may never experience living alone. Since marriage is a possibility after I graduate, he's right that I may never live alone, at least not for another fifty or sixty years. (Pretty sure I'm going to outlive Casey.) Frankly, it doesn't scare me at all. There are lots of other things that I will never experience, and most of them don't involve paying for full rent and utilities. Still, it is something I would not mind experiencing, and this may be my only opportunity. So why not?

Ashley and Nick would like to move out if they could afford it. Newlyweds don't really want extra roommates. Krystal knows plenty of people that could live with her. And I'm ready to try the by myself thing. So I've started an informal search of cheap one-bedroom places. Man, I sound like an adult.

Now that is scary.


the fabric of our lives.

Thankfully, I am not one of those people that has an inordinate amount of embarrassing things happen to them. I have friends like that, and as a result they handle public humiliation very well. I manage to stumble through without blushing too often. But it happens.

Last year, our apartment was like an endless stream of Krystal's friends. It still is, but to a much lesser extent. People would come into our living space at all times, people we had never seen before. If I was feeling fiesty, I would make some sarcastic comment about whether or not they knocked, and it always went over their heads. These people had a sort of free reign over our apartment, because Krystal was very gracious with her and our things.

There was one day where I did laundry, but for some reason or another, I didn't or couldn't dry anything. So I just hung everything up in my room to try, off furniture, from the ceiling fixtures - nowhere was safe. It looked like I actually wanted to decorate my room with underwear and t-shirts. Then I went to bed and left it.

The next day, I had to work fairly early and didn't have a chance to take down my cotton decorations. When I got home, lo and behold, I found two of Krystal's male friends in my underwear-strewn room, using my computer.

I had a little talk with Krystal that day, and people are not allowed in my room when I'm not there anymore, regardless of the state of my underwear.


the week of leaks.

Our super, as in superintendent, not that he's just really great, is a good ol' boy named Charlie.

He gets up at 4:30 am every morning, though I'm not sure why. But whenever we have a problem he needs to fix or look at, that puts him knocking at our door at about 7 am. For those of you not in college, that is not acceptable. He's always very friendly, friendly in that slow southern way. He has a daughter about our age, and sometimes he tells me about her and how she uses a computer all the time, but he just doesn't understand them.

We see Charlie every once in a while, more in the winter when he comes down to put salt on our walkway. We saw an awful lot of Charlie this week, on account of the leak above the sink. First it was a drip drip drip whenever the people upstairs took a shower. So Charlie came by, felt the pipes some and did some caulking.

The next night it was a drip drip drip in three different places. So we wrote a note and left it on the door of the rental office upstairs which led to Charlie's second early morning visit, which also did not help and appeared to make the problem worse again.

These visits would not be so bad if he were doing some quiet like standing still in the middle of the kitchen or making us breakfast. Unfortunately, the leaks require him to be banging on pipes at early hours.

After the unsuccessful second visit, Charlie decided the issue required the calling of professional plumbers. Luckily for us, the problem was upstairs, so our upstairs neighbors had to deal with about three plumbers in their apartment banging and drilling all day long for a problem that wasn't even theirs.

Charlie came back again on the fourth day at 7 am just to check on us and see if there was any sign of leaking. Thankfully, there was not.

It's easy for us to complain about the early morning invasion of our apartment, but we would have been complaining a lot louder had he not tried to fix it so promptly or had the ceiling above our kitchen fallen in, bringing the neighbors bathroom with it.

This was the first morning in several that we haven't heard Charlie's knock at 7 am. Not that it mattered, since the phone rang at 6 am. Completely unacceptable.



I've never been big on Halloween. My family tends to minimalize every holiday but Thanksgiving, which is when we compensate for all those other holidays in the year where we didn't even notice their passing.

I went trick-or-treating once. I was eight, I think, and I don't even remember what I dressed up as. The only reason we went was because I begged. I apparently wasn't even all that impressed with it, since we didn't go ever again. My parents were not anti-Halloween or anything, they just didn't give it much notice. If there was a Halloween party or "harvest festival" at the church, then we would go and bob for apples and enjoy a hayride followed by s'mores, but that was pretty much it.

My friends now are always a little horrified by my Halloween history, since they have this array of fond memories for every holiday. Ashley and Nick brought home a pumpkin and a pumpkin carving kit one day. It was maybe the second pumpkin-carving I'd ever assisted. And then I dried the seeds for roasting, since I'm generally not trusted with the oven.

On the day itself, Ashley and I went to thrift stores looking for costumes. Had we been more invested in the project, we probably would have gone sooner. My costume cost me 60 cents. I bought a tie and a personalized coffee mug that said "Glenn". I wore a button down shirt and my new tie, carried my mug around, and when people asked what I was supposed to be, I acted like they were idiots, held up the mug, and said, "Um, I'm Glenn."

A lot of them didn't get it.

I ended up heading down the street to a party with the roommates. Amazing how many people were there, and yet I still only knew the ones who lived with me. (Okay, so I knew a few of them because they are Krystal's friends, but it was a very small percentage.) There were just too many people, and they were all just too drunk, so I left a little after 1 am, thinking about the hour and a half of my life that I would never get back.

So that was my Halloween. Frankly, I'm still not that impressed with it.


love and marria...no, just love.

I'm tackling love tonight.

I came into the dating world with an eager heart and a head full of misconceptions. I had seen a shade too many romantic movies and even though I realistically knew it would never happen like it happened for Meg Ryan, I still had hope.

I lost the misconceptions the hard way, basically by acting on an idea I had and having it all blow up in my face. Having never been in a relationship before, it came as a real shock to me that I had no clue how to handle one. Luckily, Casey apparently had expectations as low as mine were high, so he stuck with me.

I believed in soul mates and love at first sight until I fell in love. At some point I said, "No, this is not what it's about. There's no symphonic swelling music, and there is never going to be." And so I stopped looking for those things and began enjoying the things that had been there all along.

I asked Mama once how she felt about all that mushy stuff and this is basically what she told me. Mama believes that there are many many people any given person could fall in love with and share a lifetime of happiness. Naturally, you're going to be happier with some than others, but you'll never have any way of knowing that. It just boils down to whoever you meet at the right time and place in your life.

It's unromantic, but it rang true from the beginning, so I stole it. I've since decided that sometimes love is just finding someone whose faults don't irritate you too much and whose qualities make you happy.

This is not to say that I know everything or even anything at all about love. I've noticed a disturbing pattern in my life: whenever I begin to think I do know everything about relationships, some greater force throws a whopper of a curveball that leaves me stranded and wondering how anyone ever got through a relationship alive. The last time? Casey was diagnosed with diabetes.

If I were more ambitious, I would come up with a point here, a nice closing paragraph that wrapped things up. But the nice thing about this journal is that I don't have to be great, just good enough for you to come back tomorrow. Actually, some of you have familial obligations to come back anyway, so I don't have to even break mediocre.

So those are my thoughts on love and relationships this evening.


on the way to the mountain house.

We hold a conversation, hold it in our tiny little hands with our fingers held together in the shape of a cup so as not to let any words slip through.

We gripe as coworkers do, both talking more and more excitedly, building on the excitement of the other who is building on my own. We have thought these exact same thoughts that we now put into words, thought them earlier today in fact. They did not make us angry then, but now, someone agrees with us, and we are full of our righteous indignation.

We argue the same idea, and though no one disagrees, we feel the need to illustrate the idea with many examples and what we consider to be very eloquent and well-thought-out points. We continue to argue our popular point as if it were threatened, as if anyone present felt the slightest bit differently. We gesture dramatically because these gestures also illustrate the opinion that we both share.

We do not listen to each other. We listen to the tone to make sure the other still agrees, listen to the voice without listening to the words to know when they are done so that we can tell yet another relevant story.

After it is all over and we are left with nothing but the glow of our anger and excitement, we could not recall for our own lives anything the other said, but we leave with the idea that it is in fact that best conversation we've had in a long time.


you're all invited to my intervention party - BYOB.

My whole life before today lead up to this one day. And here I am. I have arrived.

Except not really.

I swear, I didn't care anything about being 21 a month ago. Every once in a while, usually on the 30th of every month, I'd go, "Hmm, in (October - currentMonth) months, I will be able to purchase alcohol any time I please, except before noon on Sunday in North Carolina." And that was it. I wasn't giving the whole thing much thought.

But this month, I am ashamed at my own excitement. Every time I go to an alcohol-serving eating establishment, I am sorely disappointed that it's not later in the month so I can have a beer. I don't even like beer. (However, I am making it my goal to like beer, because premium malt beverages and mixed drinks are not cheap. PBR, here I come!) I mourn the drink specials I cannot enjoy because I was not born premature. I'm always sure that they would have been very good.

I am intensely ashamed at how pathetic I have been at the prospect of drinking lately. My desire to get older makes me feel about five years younger. I wasn't even sure if I should share this with you because it really is that silly. Also because my mother will worry. She already kinda thinks I might drink too much, and is planning a big intervention party next month. Her last message to me ended with the words "be careful" in all caps. Who is being prayed for today? I think it's me.

Mama need not worry. I'm not sure how I'm going to celebrate. I'm too cheap to go out and get wasted, plus I don't like being too intoxicated to spell "sophisticated". (Long story.) I feel like I should do something related to purchasing alcohol, though I haven't decided on what. Like when you turn 16, you get your license and when you turn 18, you go vote or buy a pack of cigarettes. It's a rule.

I got a birthday card, about two weeks early, from the ASU health department. It was signed by all the staff and gave me a list of 21 things to do on my birthday as well as that statistic that most ASU students have 6 or fewer drinks when they party. (6 or fewer? I should certainly hope so.) Suggestions include baking a cake and going bicycling and maybe reading a book all alone in the dark. Somehow I don't think I'm going to be looking at the card for ideas on how to spend the day.

Celebrations for the day aside, I am glad to have reached this particular milestone. I look forward to being able to go into clubs and bars past 11pm. I look forward to not having to pay more to get into places because I'm unable to patronize their bar. I look forward to not getting those annoying hand stamps that scream "Look at me! I sure am sober and likely to remain so!" I look forward to no longer being the automatic designated driver.

I look forward to the wine. I've been bringing a different bottle of wine home every time I go, in the hopes of turning my parents on to something other than white zinfandel. I'm not a wine snob, but the people at work, they laugh at me! It is a hassle to get Nick to take me to the grocery store while I examine every bottle and he complains that all wines are a sign of homosexuality. Nick's a budweiser kind of man. I know you're not surprised. But now, I can take myself down to Lowe's and spend as much time as I want examining and holding the bottles until I find something that is not Turning Leaf or come in a jug or a box, but still isn't more than $10. I like wine, and I like to learn about it, but it's hard to be an underaged connisseur.

I guess what I look forward to most is the option. Not that I'm itching to legally drink myself into oblivion, but just that I can if I want to. I can order a drink in a restaurant, and then proceed to sit there and drink it. The thought boggles the mind.

But twenty-one is the last time when it's good to be older. I've always been the oldest or close to it in my group of friends. It was always a good thing, because I got to do everything first. But this is pretty much the last time being older is the good thing. Now they won't see me as older, just old.

But anyway, there's my thoughts on this, my 21st birthday.

And now I feel old.



Let me tell you about Louie.

A good way to start my description of Louie would be to tell you his job. Unfortunately, I don't know what it is. I know he works with me at Vintner's, and I know he greets people and takes them to a table where someone can then wait on them. He's a middle-aged man, and I'm not sure if he is supposed to just be a host, or if he is a sort of manager. He doesn't have any authority, really, but that wouldn't be the first time a manager at Vintner's had no authority. But still, his age makes us all think he might be a semi-boss, and therefore we have to show a little respect in the chance that he has some sort of power tucked away somewhere.

So I'll call him a glorified host. Then I'll call him a lot of other things, because frankly, I don't like Louie very much.

Louie thinks everyone has an attitude problem. Everyone. Servers who most certainly don't have attitude problems apparently do just for Louie. I work with some people who actually do have such problems and I work with some who don't. Everyone but Louie can tell the difference. He thinks we all just need to "grow up". This was my run-in with him:

Louie: Make sure you run an interrim report.
(At this point, let me explain that the only way you would ever run such a report is if you were working a double shift. I had been there for over eight hours that day and was not scheduled for a double. It crossed my mind that this was their way of telling me that I was working a double after all.)
Me: I'm not working a double.
Louie: I know, but Bryon said to make sure everyone ran an interrim report.
Me: Oh, I think he probably just meant people who were working doubles.

At which point he stomps off, yelling about my attitude and leaving me very confused. About thirty seconds later, he stomps, stomps, by again, still yelling about it. I even try to apologize for him being an idiot, though I think I worded it better. Lynn, the boss' wife happened to be there the second time he does his angry stomping man routine and asks me, "Sandra, are you giving Louie an attitude?" Now I'm tired and grumpy and without thinking, say "Apparently." To my relief, Lynn laughed, leading me to believe that she doesn't think much of Louie either.

I want to point out to him that chances are, every single person around him doesn't have the problem, and that maybe he should look a little closer to himself. Such a statement made to him would only indicate further how deep-seated my own attitude problem is.

Aside from his outbursts, Louie is very unconcerned about the fatigue of others. Other hosts we've had have always been pretty understanding about not giving someone tables unless it was necessary if they've been there all day long. There have been days when a server or two could have been sent home, but for the fact that Louie continues to give them tables after they've been there for hours upon hours. It's not that there aren't other servers to take the tables that haven't been there for as long. It's not that the servers requested to continue to get tables. Actually, I don't know what it is. Maybe he just doesn't care that we too get tired. He should be happy to have one less server's attitude problem to deal with.

Louie hates his job, at least I think he does. He doesn't like us, and I'm pretty sure he's caught some of the negative vibes we have about him. He's a rotten host. He is rude to customers. He wants more money, and tries to take tables all the time. Once, he claimed he couldn't find someone to take a table, so he took it himself, even though there were probably five servers with one or no tables. Then he complains if we go out back for a smoke break because he doesn't have time to find us. I'm not sure how he has time to host and take tables. Another time, he had a table and I asked why he took it, since we were not overwhelmingly busy. He said, "The people requested me." I was surprised, since he wasn't even a server. How did he get requested? "Really?" I said, to which he snapped, "Yes. What? Don't servers ever get requested at this restaurant?" I said they do and left it at that. The assistant hostess later told me that he hadn't been requested, but had had the same people the night before and volunteered for it. What kind of silly middle-aged man needs to lie to a twenty-year old waitress?

I'm proud of myself, really, how I've handled it. I know that Louie works a whole lot, and by the end of the day these past few weeks, we've all been beat and very very grumpy. I try to keep this in mind and be sympathetic. I've gone out of my way to be nice to him. And at 4:30, when he tells me I have another table, even though I've been there since 8 am and I know another person could take the table, I smile and thank him. I gouge my eyes out later, but he doesn't see that. And honestly, I think being nice to him has helped. After a hellish breakfast Saturday, he told the breakfast servers to take a break and let him know when we wanted to start taking tables again.

Here is my silver lining, because there is always one, no matter how tiny. It is the same silver lining that I have whenever I don't like one of my esteemed coworkers at this little restaurant with extremely high employee turnover. It helps keep things in perspective when I'd like to tell someone just how I feel about them. It's never failed me before.

He'll quit before too long.


gentlemen surfers.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas are going back to Florida.

So are a lot of people, you say, especially if you have spoken to me in the past couple of days, seeing as the mass migration of the elderly is all I talk about anymore. What makes Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas special?

Well, I'll actually miss them.

I didn't even know that Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas until I'd waited on them several times. Mr. Frank Thomas always paid in cash, always a twenty, keep the change. But once he used his credit card, and then I knew that the older couple in front of me was in fact Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas.

Though Mr. Frank Thomas' first name is Frank, or at least that's the shortened form of it, I do not know Mrs. Frank Thomas' first name. I feel certain that it is not Frank or any form of Frank. They know my first name, because I tell all my customers my name. I don't think they know my last name, since I've never told them. They always call me by name. I love it when customers do that.

They come in every Sunday, I assume after church because they are always wearing Sunday clothes when they come in a little after noon, and because I feel that Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas are church people. Perhaps Presbyterians. They request me to be their server, and that is almost always arranged. Sometimes they sit in the sunroom, sometimes in the gazebo. They don't care where they sit as long as it's in my section. Once they sat in someone else's section, and I asked them if their server was taking good care of them. Mr. Frank Thomas said the server spilled soup on him and insulted his wife, but other than that, everything was just fine.

They drink water. They eat different things, but they always wash down those different things with water. I bring them lemon slices for their water, even though they don't ask and we're not supposed to unless they ask. My boss thinks that his profits are all being spent in lemons, that servers are just giving away his money in the form of mountains of lemons. But because they are special, I risk termination, and they get lemons without having to ask.

Sometimes they have french onion soup and a salad with ranch dressing. Sometimes just a salad. Sometimes a reuben sandwich. They don't eat things like cheeseburgers or crab cake sandwiches with our special gorgonzola coleslaw. They've never ordered dessert, and I've stopped asking if they want any. I know Mr. Frank Thomas, and if he wanted a piece of cheesecake, I'm pretty sure he'd let me know.

Every week, Mr. Frank Thomas starts up a new conversation, a little bit more strange than the week before. Sometimes he asks me to fix his computer because he knows I'm a computer science major. This week, he gave me a digital watch and asked me to fix the time. As I did, he told me it was a dead man's watch that he had found washed up on the beach. Mrs. Frank Thomas shook her head.

Mr. Frank Thomas says the strangest things. There were a couple of weeks when Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas did not show up on Sunday afternoon, shortly after 12 in their Sunday clothes. The Sunday they came back, I asked where they had been. Mr. Frank Thomas whispered to me behind his menu that they didn't come because Mrs. Frank Thomas thought she was pregnant. They are both probably in their seventies.

I don't know how long Mrs. Frank Thomas has been Mrs. Frank Thomas, but I bet it's a long time. Maybe even fifty years. I think Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas are in love. When I take their order, Mr. Frank Thomas puts his hand on that of Mrs. Frank Thomas and says very tenderly, "What would you like, my dear?" And when Mr. Frank Thomas tells me ridiculous stories, Mrs. Frank Thomas laughs and laughs like she has the funniest husband in the world.

This week, they told me they were going back to Florida for the winter, and I realized that Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas were very rich. Rich enough to have two lives, one in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and one in Florida. Mr. Frank Thomas asked if I was too old to kidnap and said he could get me a job in a very fine establishment in Florida called Granny's Kitchen, where all the gentlemen surfers go. Gentlemen surfers, he said, wear ties.

And now Mr. and Mrs. Frank Thomas have flown south for the winter and I won't see them again until next May. Mr. Frank Thomas always gives me at least a 20% tip, but he gave me an extra large tip this week, I guess to tide me over until May when he can give me another twenty dollar bill and tell me to keep the change. And then they left, saying their goodbyes to me as they walked together out of the sunroom, out the door, and towards the land of the gentlemen surfers.


is it november yet?

Birds fly south for the winter, and so do old people.

It's official, October is "touristly" over. There are no more weekends, and that means it's time for them to take their Cadillacs and their Buicks and head to their winter homes.

The tourist season starts in May, continues ever upwards, so high that you think it can't possibly get any higher. That's August, when you are up to your elbows in octogenarians with too much money. September comes, and you get a little rest - they're only up to mid-thigh.

And then it's October, and you can't breathe, the air is so thick with them.

It's a mixed bag, really. October is the time to make money. The restaurants are so busy that even if you give crappy service, which you will, because you have seven tables and the kitchen is behind and there's a thirty-minute wait, you'll go home with enough money to pay your rent. I peaked out two weekends ago, where I made $275 in two days. The trouble is, you end up wanting to kill yourself.

And the weather, that fickle creature Mother Nature, has been gorgeous. It rained all summer long, keeping business down and our pockets empty. But not a single drop fell on an October weekend this year.

Until today. That cloudy sky had to be the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. (No, scratch that. My computer clock an hour behind my alarm clock was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.) After a hectic breakfast, lunch slowed down and by 2, Joe said I could leave. I hadn't left before 4:30 in weeks, even on the days I opened up the place at 8 am.

There was a weird atmosphere today. I think we all knew it was over, that we made it and that half the staff will probably quit before November's over. The radio in the kitchen was tuned to some oldies station, and there was some interesting karaoke going on. Ever seen a couple of waitresses waltz while a pair of guys make sandwiches and sing "Unchained Melody?" Just in case you were wondering what we were doing while your coffee cup remains empty. It was a good time, a wonderful relief from the running around and screaming.

And now it's over. I lived through another tourist season with little to no damage to my physical and mental health. And a few weeks from now, when I'm going home after six hours of work with $20, I'll wonder what was so bad about October. I just hope someone reminds me.


penny passport.

A quick story before I fall over dead.

When I was in the sixth grade, I went on a weekend retreat with these girls from another school. I only knew one of them, the girl who was actually hosting the retreat in her family's cabin. The rest were strangers, but we all talked and gabbed as twelve-year old girls will do, and they pretty much accepted me quickly.

The vacation was to a lake outside of King's Mountain, NC, and we spent one afternoon in town at my friend's grandmother's store. There was a train track that ran right through the middle of the town. We decided that we would put pennies on the track when the train was about to come so that we could have flattened pennies.

So I know that it wasn't necessarily a good idea. Mama always told me that something miniscule, as small as say, a penny, on the track could derail a train. But she didn't tell me until after I got back from this trip when I told her this story. Besides, that story sounds like one of those stories some parent made up a long time ago for the child's own good. More likely, they just wanted us to stay away from train tracks.

But we didn't, or this would have been a much shorter story. All the other girls put pennies on the tracks. I say all the other because I didn't have a penny on me, so I didn't have one for the tracks. It seems doubtful that none of the five other girls there had an extra penny to give me, but none were offered. So I went without. I felt like the poor kid who has to wait outside the ice cream store.

Pennies in place, we stepped well away from the tracks (in case of derailment or projectile coins, I suppose) when the train came. After the last car flashed before us, we clambored up to the tracks to find the pennies.

Of course the pennies did not stay on the tracks. They fell off and into the rocks that surrounded the tracks. They were big rocks, and the pennies fell in between them. We had to pick the rocks up and dig to find our new treasures, and since we risked train derailment to make them, we were going to have them.

A couple of the girls never did find theirs. Their ice cream fell right off their cones.

And landed right in my hands.

As luck would have it, I found one. It wasn't one of theirs because it wasn't at all warm, like the freshly pressed ones were. It belonged to some long forgotten kid who also risked derailment who knows how long ago. I didn't offer it to one of the girls who couldn't find theirs. And you know what? I don't feel that bad about it.

I still have it. It marked the beginning of a flat penny collection I have going now. Doubtful though it may be, I still believe the derailment theory just enough to not put pennies on railroad tracks anymore. But there are flat penny machines all over the place, pretty much in every town that ever had a tourist. You put in fifty-one cents, sometimes pick a design, and out pops a fresh, warm, flat penny. I even have a little book with plastic slots to keep them all in. It says "Penny Passport" on the front. I'm not sure which countries accept those.

See? Aren't you glad I didn't listen to my mother?



Before I worked at Vintner's, semi-fine dining in the heart of historic Blowing Rock, I worked at a hotel also in Blowing Rock called the Cliff Dwellers Inn. Before I went there, I wasn't even sure it really existed. It isn't visible from the road, but they do have a sign off the highway that says "Cliff Dwellers Inn," and has a yes or no light-up sign right below giving vacancy information. No one in Boone could tell you what the hotel looked like, but everyone knows the sign. As a general rule, it says "yes."

The Cliff Dwellers was bought last year by a man named Ed, who lived in an apartment within the inn with his wife Nicki. Ed drives a blue truck with a painted picture of a biblical figure walking somewhere and a religious message.

When I went to interview, Ed explained the job to me thoroughly. He also made sure to mention that taxes would be taken out of my check. Innocent Methodist that I am, I was confused as to why he was telling me the obvious. Of course they would. Apparently, some hotels are paid in cash by their guests and then pay their help in cash, thereby removing the government from the picture. But Ed and Nicki were innkeeping for the Lord, they said, and there would be none of that.

For those of you that don't know, hotel housekeeping is one of the most miserable jobs in the world. It is repetitive and simple, except for the fact that there is absolutely no room for error. Everything must be perfect. There cannot be streaks on the mirrors, dust on the furniture, or hairs in the bathroom. That would be simple, except that you're, or at least I was, expected to spend less than half an hour in each room. Actually, at first I was expected to spend 45 minutes, then half an hour, then down to 20 minutes when I stopped working there. You had to be fast and thorough, and while I could get one or the other, I never managed to get a handle on both at the same time.

I was making $8 an hour, which would be okay if I ever worked. Even with only 19 rooms, Cliff Dwellers was never full. Ed didn't like me, so I was always the last housekeeper called. So I worked weekends, when Ed was generally able to turn on the "no" sign at about 10 pm because all the other hotels were already full. I made about $200 a month, which was also exactly what I paid in rent. Ed kept insisting that we just weren't in the big season yet, even in July. Yes, I can see why most people wouldn't want to come to the mountains where it's less than 80 degrees in the middle of the day. They'd rather stay in Florida.

Wretched job that it is, it was made even worse because of the fact that Ed was just plain crazy. The man was in his forties, yet he talked like a child. When he checked my rooms, if there was a particle of something on the floor, he called it a "specky-decky". We had what looked an awful lot like a dustpan, but was in fact a "scoopy-doo pan."

He also apparently had a very low opinion of my intelligence. For when he explained something, he felt the need to explain it thoroughly, then explain the reasoning behind it (which was usually quite obvious), and then sum up. That all wouldn't be so bad, if not for the fact that he generally told me the same things every day. Apparently, I appear to have trouble with the idea of stripping the linens first, and therefore need to be told every day in great detail. And even though I had been stripping the linens first, I definitely needed to be reminded again and again.

I lasted two months. About every day that I worked, I would decide to quit, then lose my steam by cleaning vigorously. I had already applied for other jobs in hopes of finding a reason to quit. But one Saturday, I got a call on my cell phone as I was pulling into play practice. It was Ed, explaining that there were no cups in 105 and that he was going to have to not use me anymore. Apparently the occupants of 105 were very upset about the lack of cups in their room. You know how it is. I wish he'd just said, "You know, you're really bad at this, and I can tell you absolutely hate this job and me. Maybe you should find other employment."

I was pretty upset. I'd never been fired before, and as a general rule, I'm not really big on failure. I may be allergic to it. Within a week, I had the job at the restaurant, which has proved a much better job by far. On my application, I didn't list Cliff Dwellers as one of my previous employers because I knew the kind of review I would get. I still feel vaguely guilty about it.

Only at Blowing Rock's busiest did Cliff Dwellers' "no" sign ever go up before nightfall last season. I was pretty sure that Ed and Nicki's financial venture would not last. Even though the experience was one of the more miserable in my life, I felt bad that they were going to fail so ridiculously. They seem to be doing much better this year, though. I like to think that I'm not bitter.

Ed and Nicki have become friends with my current boss, Joe. They send lots of customers down for breakfast, and those people get a 10% discount on all non-alcoholic purchases. Sometimes I ask them how they like the inn, and I want to ask whether there are cups provided.

Sometimes Ed and Nicki come to Vintner's to eat or talk business with Joe. They've seen me a couple of times, and it was obvious they realized that I was familiar even if they didn't realize why my face gave them a sinking feeling. I have no intentions of reminding them, and pray that they will never sit at one of my tables. I hear they are demanding customers and that they tip poorly. I am not surprised.

Besides, if I had to wait on them, I'd be so tempted to just never bring them any beverages.


something subtle, but relevant.

Holly is living by herself in an apartment in Queens.

I don't know why this is significant, but it is, for Ian has just repeated it for the second time. I don't know how to react to this, since I don't know Holly and I've never been to Queens. It does give me a mental picture, one that is sure to be as far from the truth as possible. The Holly in my head, she has a cat. Named Chavez.

I call him Ian not because that's his real name, though his real name does have three letters. Some other writer before me called him that, so I figured it was some sort of writing rule that I didn't know about. I asked for a list of the writing rules once, but was ignored.

I knew a guy named Ian in high school, or rather I knew of him. He was rather unaware of my existence, because he was the senior star football player while I was a freshman, and even I know the rules about that. I was unconcerned about his lack of concern about me. A very funny, though chubby girl on my basketball team was in love with him, though he did not reciprocate. She was just his funny friend, because this was still high school, and the funny girls don't get their revenge until their twenties, when the football stars realize which girls they should have been dating. I know that rule, too.

But this was not the same Ian, since it wasn't really even an Ian at all. This was just a pseudo-Ian, a guy in an IHOP at midnight, telling us that Holly was living alone in an apartment in Queens.

This Ian, he wore Chuck Taylors. I did too. He complimented me on mine, and I on his. That's another rule. The Ian in high school would never have worn Chuck Taylors. You can't play football in those.

Holly does not wear Chuck Taylors either, of this I am sure. They are funny girl shoes. I try to look at the Holly in my head, at her one bedroom apartment in Queens, and focus on her feet to see what she uses to cover them. Flip-flops maybe. She is not a funny girl, she is not waiting for her revenge. She will always be the type of girl that boys should be dating.

I think Holly is beautiful and unconcerned about the fact, like having beauty is the same as having elbows. I am not beautiful and am slightly concerned about that fact, but then again, I'm not living alone in an apartment in Queens either. Nor do I have a cat.

I'm just a funny girl waiting for my revenge.


a matter of principal.

Mr. Emory was the king of overused adages.

He'd come stumbling onto the PA system, telling us various announcements and that we should wash behind our ears and never give up our dreams. How can one stumble on a PA system? Frankly, I'm not sure either, but Mr. Emory managed it.

He used to speak at school functions, getting up and lecturing us on the value of a good education and a good football game. He used to be a football coach. There is no doubt in my mind that when he spoke to us, he pictured us all in complete football gear. He believed that there was no situation in life that did not call for a good football metaphor. Had he ever found otherwise, he would have lost the will to live.

He had these saying he would use, like the one that managed to pop up in our registration booklets. "Plan your work and work your plan." Really, he had several like that, where you say the same thing twice, switching it around the second time. Catchy, eh?

My favorite, though, had to be his attitude one. "Every morning, I get up and I look in the mirror and I say, 'God, give me gratitude, but not an attitude.'" Classic as this was by itself, it was made even better by Mr. Emory's stuttering. He'd get to the gratitude and attitude part, ended up getting the two switched and have to start over again.

Mr. Emory bumbled in general.

The most memorable event of his administration was the dress code debacle. It was determined at some point in my freshman year that the girls were being just a little too generous with the skin they were showing. The rule was that shorts were to be no shorter than a certain number of inches above the knee, how many I don't recall. Apparently, the female thigh was found to be "distracting" as the handbook put it. This rule, as with the rest of the dress code, was generally ignored except for extreme cases. You pretty much had to forego pants at all to get a dress code violation.

The Emory administration decided to put a stop to this and, get this, actually enforce the rules. They gave warnings over the announcements. They told the teachers to crack down. The assistant principal gained a rotten reputation with the students by stalking the halls with a tape measure around her neck, demanding girls let her measure the distance between their hems and their knees. I'm not sure if that was even true.

Finally, the powers that be were fed up. Mr. Emory came onto the PA system at the end of the day, stuttering through the announcement that girls were now banned from wearing shorts at all, effective immediately.

There was a general cry of outrage the next day. Actually, there was a female cry of outrage, as the boys just found it rather amusing. Petitions were passed around, citing sexism on the part of the administration, as the boys were allowed to wear whatever they wanted. There was a rule saying that pants were to be worn at the waist, but that again was pretty much ignored except for extreme cases. So the boys were home free. Some girls stayed home that first day, some showed up wearing their very best Nair shorts. I think they were sent home.

At the end of that day, exactly one day after the new policy was announced, Mr. Emory came on the intercom once more to tell us that the very same policy was now revoked. One day. He dismissed charges of sexism by saying "Girls are number one in my office!" giving us something to talk about the next day when we had nothing more to protest.

I haven't thought about the incident in years. I had trouble fitting the concept of dress code into my college brain, as we're allowed to be as naked as we want here. Now I find it all a little confusing. What was the point? Did he actually believe the dress code revision would fly, that he could get away with a school policy change in the middle of the year? I'm pretty sure that some parents would feel that their girls' only chance in this life was to be able to wear very tiny clothing, and I do know there were many parents complaints in that very brief short-less period. Or was he just trying to prove a point, assert his authority and then be satisfied that it was thoroughly asserted after 24 hours?

Who knows? That's just another eternal question that will go down next to the Bermuda Triangle, Amelia Earhart, and green ketchup.

A friend of mine went down to Myrtle Beach a few years ago and saw a poster calling for the election of Ed Emory as the Myrtle Beach mayor. He'd actually left the school after my freshman year, for whatever reason. I don't even know if he got elected mayor, but it does bring up some amusing possibilities, doesn't it? Banning all of Myrtle Beach, quite possibly South Carolina's nakedest town, from wearing bikinis, and giving long, football-riddled speeches at the opening of the new mall. I hope he did get elected, just because it would be funny.

Mr. Emory, he plans his work and works his plan.