Did I Know? Did I Even Have a Clue?

In a word, no.  I had no idea.

In 2001 I was in my late 20s and working two, sometimes 3 jobs.  Full time during the day, restaurant and catering gigs at night.  Watching the news was not much of a priority.  The events of 9/11 changed that a bit, but after a few weeks of coverage I couldn’t take the bad news anymore and started watching the Food Network non-stop (a behavior repeated after the Virginia Tech massacre but even more intense).  So I don’t remember the shockwave that rocked New England when The Boston Globe broke the Catholic Church sex scandal.

Fast forward to 2016.  I went to the movies with a friend, and she is one that will enjoy some of the more cerebral films with me (unlike the chick flick tradition I have with my mom on New Years Day).  We started with lunch, then watched Star Wars again (for both of us), and then walked across the parking lot to the Criterion theater to watch SpotlightContinue reading

Did I Watch the 2016 State of the Union?

Yes.  Yes I did.

And the irony is that I would not consider myself politically obsessed.  I have friends that are.  Friends that are married to people that are.  Friends that have no idea I have voted for a Democrat, or they’d disown me.  Friends that have no idea members of my family have been elected to office to hold a Republican seat, or they’d never speak to me again.

Case in point:  My first thought watching the preamble mumbo jumbo tonight was that they had yet to show a man wearing something other than a red tie.  So then of course I became obsessed in trying to find one.

And then of course the President himself appears and was not, and the red tie obsession came to an end.

So here are my thoughts as they came to me watching the SotU: Continue reading

Avon Calling

Just kidding.

When I was growing up, there was a running joke about home sales ladies.  They sold makeup (Avon vs. Mary Kay) and Tupperware.  Women would kick the men out of the house for the night, have chicken salad in phyllo cups and some stale cookies, and apply frosted blue eyeshadow around the dining room table. There were a few rebels, like one of my best friends.  She’s sold BeautiControl for gosh, almost twenty years now.  But for the most part, this was it.

No, wait, there was also Amway.  Can’t forget them.

But now?  Now you have so much more.  Thirty-One.  Tastefully Simple.  ::ahem:: Adult-themed products.  Avon.  Mary Kay.  Spongewear.  Southern Living.  Lia Sophia.  Pampered Chef.  Origami Owl.  Scentsy.  Longaberger.  Seven hundred different scrapbooking companies.  A thousand different health food supplement companies.  Can’t count the number of personal grooming companies.  Books.  Baby supplies.  More adult toys.

Continue reading

When I Give Voice to an Opinion, Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

So back to that Huffington Post article that I saw at work.  It was a link to a letter written by a man in a state that is debating the legal definition of marriage.  Currently, he happens to fall outside of that definition.  And he presented a very eloquent argument as to why the thought of 13 strangers debating his future without knowing anything about him, or anything about his life, or anything about his marriage was one of the more discriminatory actions he has faced.  You can go here and read the full letter–I encourage you to do so.  At a time when people debate this topic so forcefully yet I know several of my friends do not know a gay man or a lesbian woman, much less one in a committed relationship, it is a fantastic accounting of what a day in his life is like.  And it’s just that–a day.  A day when two people who are married to each other wake up in the morning and go through their day.  Go to work, eat meals, do laundry, watch a movie.  A day like the day you have, or the day like I have.

I don’t know why the letter resonated with me so strongly, but it did.  So I did something I think I’ve never done (unless it’s writing to my imagined BFF at USAToday, the Pop Culture Maven Whitney Mathison) and wrote to the guy that penned the original letter.

His name is Peter Monn.  And he wrote me back.  Continue reading

When I Give Voice to an Opinion, Part 1

So here’s a bit of back story.  A few days ago I was procrastinating at work and scrolling through my Facebook feed.  Lately I seem to be clicking on a lot of Huffington Post articles, and they had one that caught my interest so I center clicked on it and opened it up in a second tab.  And then forgot about it for the next few hours.  It caught my attention as many headlines do–because it was on an issue that I carry an opinion that I do not often discuss.

I made a promise to myself that I would change that.  That I would not hide my opinion any more.  I don’t feel that I was hiding it to begin with, but I certainly wasn’t speaking up.  Well, not any more than I normally do to friends.  But not loudly, and not often.

In my life, I have had the privilege of working in the theater, in the restaurant world, and in the corporate office of a men’s clothing company.  In each of these industries, I have had the opportunity to work with people who have a lifestyle that is quite different from the one that I live. Continue reading

Why I Choose Homeschooling

When I was a kid, it was only the kids that were unable to socialize properly that were homeschooled.  I think I knew two, a brother sister pair, and I had heard rumors of the other local families that did.  And it was always done in hushed tones, because they were kids that were different, kids that had a problem, and homeschooling was the last option available to them.

Now, over twenty years later, I can’t even begin to count the number of people I know that homeschool their children.  Families with one child, families with four children.  Actually, come to think of it, lots of families with four children for some reason.  Families with more than just their own being homeschooled.  Families that like the free structure homeschooling provides and the flexibility to pursue the individual interests of the family and the child.

Now, were I to have children, I’d homeschool in a hot minute.  Of course, while I’m being honest, I also want the husband that supports me and that makes enough money that we can comfortably afford for me to not work and stay at home with children.  And while I’m having a fantasy life it would also be ten years ago so that I’d be 30 not 40 making these predictions.  But hey, since I”m getting all hypothetical . . . .

I would love the opportunity.  I would welcome the chance to stay at home with my kids and have a hand in their cognitive development that most people don’t get to experience.  I would gladly participate in the co-op so that my kids would benefit from the art teacher that gives lessons, the hiking guide that works with various nature and science opportunities.  I would relish the fact that timing would be on the pace for the kids and the one that works best for our family structure.

But most of all?  I love the fact that the whole thing can be done without an alarm clock.  That the schedule is set to what works best for you.  That you can wake up in the morning sometime after 6am and still get your day accomplished.  That you don’t have to wake up two hours before the sun rises to get people ready and to get in a classroom before dawn.

Selfish?  Yes.  But it’s the brutal honest truth.

It’s Anti-bullying month

My friends have used Live Journal for quite some time. I, however, only use it to download episodes of tv shows that I have missed. My friends use Live Journal to stay connected and, more importantly, to participate in fan fiction. I, however, only use it to glean info useful for mocking purposes at a later date.

One of the features I like, however, is what they call writer’s block. It’s a question that is posed on the front page, right when you log in, that provides you with a discussion point and something to get you writing. Something to respond to. Sometimes it’s a simple question, like favorite vegetarian dish (pasta, mozz cheese, basil, tomatoes–all fresh). Tonight, however, it was a bit more involved for me: Who is the biggest bully in your life? Continue reading

Snapshot of Americana

I have been gone all day.  I was at church, home long enough to change clothes, at a church function, then at a revised Sunday dinner before discovering a missed phone call and spending an hour on the phone with an old friend.  When I finally got in the house, I checked Facebook and email to catch up.  Upon which, I discovered, the new health care package was passed.

If I were to take this at face value among my Facebook friends, there is an interesting conundrum.  Evidently 2/3 of my vocal (i.e., post all opinions on Facebook) friends think this country is now going straight to hell in a handbasket.  Then there are the few vocals ones that say thank god for finally doing something about health care.

What I find interesting about this ratio is that the majority of my Facebook friends are staunch supporters of health care reform.  They have just remained silent compared to those that are die-hard Republicans and think that supporting health care reform or President Barack Obama is akin to aligning oneself with the devil.  The decry the desecration of the Constitution in the past day, that the national decision makers have forgotten the principles upon which the country was founded, and that we are now, essentially Europe.

Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t read the news all day.  I just find this humorous.  I disagree with much of those opinions, and the one thing that keeps coming back to me is this:

Founding Fathers never had to deal with HMOs or insurance companies.  They could trade a side of beef or a wheel of cheese for decent medical care.  If you can find a doctor that will work for such wages in today’s economy then please, by all means, let me know.  I’m moving to your town.

Interesting nighttime reading!  Time to check on the news reports and see what all the hooplah is about!

It’s Irksome!

A friend of mine has two older brothers.  The wives of both are friends of mine as well, one much more so than the other.  I read today on Facebook that J&A are expecting their second child, to go along with an 18 month old they already have.  The expected congratulations were forthcoming, including one from the future grandmother, who wrote, “Wishing you the best for an eazy pregnancy and a healthy baby!”

Eazy.  From a woman who taught high school English for her entire career.

I don’t know why but that irks the tar out of me.  I can handle misspelled words–as we all know the electronic youth of today have no concept of spell-check or constantly use gr8 as an acceptable printing of great.  Usually I just read with no concern.  But for some reason, to have a former English teacher do that bothered me.  Probably because she’s someone who has no problem correcting my speech in normal conversation or critiquing her daughter in public or correcting what she thinks is wrong for anyone.

But for some reason, tonight, when I saw eazy?  Really?  It irked me.

I’m just sayin’.

Bridal Dos and Don’ts, Part 4

Disclaimer: Seriously, this is just stuff I think.  Make your own list!

Final notes

  • Your caterers are waiters and waitresses.  They are usually making about $4/hour for your event.  TIP THEM.  If you tip the manager or the catering director, the odds are that the money will never make it to the staff.  One of the companies that I left a management position in I left for that very reason–the owner got the tip and didn’t share, and it equated to several hundred dollars per event minimum.  That should be split amongst those that actually work the event, and he was pocketing it.  I was taxed for it.  If at all possible, tip the servers the night of the function, as the odds that they will receive the money will go up considerably.  Also tip appropriately.  $100 for a catered event for 250 people means that each worker will get about $7.50.  You do the math.  If you can tip your bartenders separately, that’s even better.  They are second to the bridal bitch in the hardest working people around.
  • If you see the workers drinking, it’s kind of standard.  I don’t drink often, and I never drink at work.  It’s a habit born of having to drive everyone else home.  But chefs are known for their alcohol abuse, and you can bet that when the last guest is gone everyone is popping the bottle open.  If you are in a smaller venue you’ll probably see blatant consummation.
  • Speaking of consummation, don’t consummate the wedding at the reception, wait until the wedding night.  That’s just tacky, y’all.  And most of all, keep an eye on the bridal party.  Those of you who are not marrying for love (and you know who you are) need to be wary.  More than once I have walked in on the groom with someone in a compromising position, and that someone was not the one wearing white that just said “I do”.
  • The day is supposed to be fun.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  So it’s raining, it’s good luck in some cultures.  So the mother of the groom is patting your belly asking about the bun in the oven, and you’ve not even thought about kids.  She’s now your family, and you’ve got to learn to ignore her at some point.  It’s a whole new life baby, get ready for the ride!

That’s it, kiddos.  I could have kept going, but even I am sick of reading this stuff.  What are your tips???

Bridal Dos and Don’ts, Part 3

Disclaimer: Blah blah blah.  Same stuff I’ve said the last two days.

Only one more day after this, I promise!

The reception

  • Have enough food.  Doesn’t have to be steak for everyone, a buffet is fine.  Just have enough.
  • Have appropriate entertainment.  It can be a reception in the church fellowship hall where all are mingling, and that’s fine.  A karaoke machine instead of a band is a hard sell, especially when the bride limits the singers to the bridal party only.  (There were only so many times I could hear Redneck Woman.)  A band is fine, a DJ is fine.  If your guests are mostly over the age of 60, it is a waste of money to have a dance floor.  A string quartet of high school students makes a nice background accompaniment.
  • Take care of rituals early so that your extended guests can leave.  Don’t wait three hours to cut the cake, toss the bouquet, etc.
  • The best man makes a speech.  Maybe the maid of honor.  Not every member of the bridal party and every family member present.
  • Beware the camera-on-every-table trick.  If you do this, you’ll get a ton of photos of the first 90 minutes of the reception and then the film will be gone.  It’s a great idea in theory.  One of the best ways I saw it handled was to have the caterers put cameras on a singular table in shifts every hour or so, so that new cameras would be available for other photos.
  • Be nice to your bartender.  There may not be a tip jar displayed due to company rules, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t take cash.  Also remember that an open bar does not mean that the bartenders are getting tipped.
  • Know when to wrap things up.  Make sure that you have a time table.  Your caterers have been working at least two, sometimes three hours longer than you have been there, and usually they have another hour or so after the last guest leaves.  Not to mention you will also have to pay a fine if you go over in time for your venue rental.

The cake: Continue reading

Bridal Dos and Don’ts, Part 2

Disclaimer: This post is completely opinionated.  It is from my experience as a caterer and ‘bridal bitch’ for more than fifteen years, as well as being in seven weddings as an attendant of some sort.  It is compiled from the conversations employees had in the kitchen during/after events and cracking up over the antics of whatever reception was going on.  It is by no means meant to be a gospel truth, it’s just lessons learned over time!

Continued from yesterday, and to be continued tomorrow!!!

The ceremony

  • Depending on your religion, ethnicity, and personal preference, just about anything goes.  You may have a full homily, you may have written your own vows, you may have  just enough strength to say “I do” and nothing else.  Pre-ceremony music is fine.  Eighteen solos is extensive.  A long-lost tape recording of dad playing the recorder is a bit much.  Just remember your guests.   Communion for 200 takes a lot of time, so have more than one person offering.  A full homily can take awhile, so make sure that you have seats for the wedding party.   Many people may not be of your faith, so a program would be nice explaining traditions such as kneeling, head coverings, etc. Continue reading

Bridal Dos and Don’ts, Part 1

Disclaimer: This post is completely opinionated.  It is from my experience as a caterer and ‘bridal bitch’ for more than fifteen years, as well as being in seven weddings as an attendant of some sort.  It is compiled from the conversations employees had in the kitchen during/after events and cracking up over the antics of whatever reception was going on.  It is by no means meant to be a gospel truth, it’s just lessons learned over time!

So when I started typing, I realized I had a lot to say.  I guess 15 years of working weddings leads to a very opinionated point of view.  So it will probably be 2-3 days worth of postings!

Before the ceremony

  • Arrive with plenty of time to get ready.  Be it at a church or at a venue, give yourself at least two hours to relax and to get dressed with no stress.  Depending on your hair length, you have probably had someone else style your hair ahead of time.  Take care.  Do not wear a pullover shirt, do not ride with the windows down, do not run after your flower girl.  You are already on wedding alert, and cannot mess with the hair because odds are someone there will not be able to fix it.
  • Have a ‘bridal bitch’.  This is a term that we called the head catering employee that was to wait on the bride and make sure all needs are met.  If you are getting married in a church or someplace other than the reception site, ask a friend to do it.  Your Mistress of Ceremonies could, but odds are they are otherwise occupied.  This person should come prepared with the following items: Bottled water, straws, mending kit, tampons, first aid kit (bandaids, peroxide, etc.), several travel packs of tissues, saltines, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, contact/saline solution, bobby pins, hair spray, serious sticky tape, matches, nail polish, washcloth, and straight pins/floral pins/floral tape.  I know, I know, you want to know what all this is for.  I shall explain:

Continue reading

Women in bridal mode can be so catty!

My cousin and her new husband

I used to cater at a local botanical garden, a spot which is very popular for weddings here in town.  And rightly so, it is a beautiful location.  I worked through a change in the catering contract, serving two different employers through many changes in policy and menu.  I loved working at the tea house, as it was a fine dining location with a beautiful landscape and one of the few places in town where you could get a fantastic brunch.  We were only open on Saturday and Sunday from 10-2, and the rest of the weekend I worked weddings that occurred in the garden.  With the main house, a historic manor, a rose garden pavilion (where my best friend got married a few years ago), the tea house, the conservatory, and various spots in the garden for smaller, intimate weddings, trust me–there were plenty that occurred between April-October.  I was the point person on the weddings I worked, which means I was second only to the manager for what happened, who did what, how to get things accomplished, and was the primary (as we called it) bridal bitch, waiting on the bride (and usually the monster-mother-of) hand and foot to make sure that all was perfect on her special day.

I loved my job.  I really did.  Didn’t exactly go to college and graduate school to cut wedding cakes for a living, though, and when I had one Saturday, working from 8am to 2am, and I cut SIX wedding cakes that day, well, I realized I was over it.  Continue reading

Not cool at all!

So there are hundreds of obscure and odd groups on Facebook. Some funny, some serious, some nostalgic, some for a cause. I was a member of one known as “I Only Know How Many Minutes Are In A Year Because of RENT”. Cracked me up as a monument to the totally overplayed, but still loveable song.

Someone changed the name over the weekend to “JonBenét Ramsey: Good Riddance.” Now tell me, what does that have to do with RENT? Then the group changing continued: next was “I know that God punishes gays with Aids and death only because of RENT”. And heaven forbid that idiot has a typo so they changed it again to “I know that God punishes gays with AIDS and death only because of RENT”. What was a group that was for those of us that loved RENT and yet recognized its overexposure and the fact that we can totally make fun of ourselves has now become something that, I dare say, the majority of the members would never support if they paid attention to the changes.

I don’t care if it isn’t your personal lifestyle, I don’t care if you don’t approve. I don’t go changing the names of Christian groups to say that the Islam Nation is doomed to hell, I don’t switch the group titles from various college affiliations to say that all members are inbred mongrels with ties to communistic beliefs, and I don’t flip the group from a nostalgic love of the Muppets to a furry fetish. So who is this person that takes a group that is laughing over the lyrics to a SONG for Pete’s sake, and switches it to a group that makes light of the disappearance of a small child and then to a group that has no tolerance whatsoever for people that are honest about their own feelings or infected with a horrible illness?

I’m sorry. That’s just not cool. Not cool at all.