Monday, August 23, 2010

A Moment Like This

Last week my parents came to visit. On Wednesday, I left work early and my mom and sister headed out to eat lunch at the place I had my rehearsal dinner. We met my grandmother and a good family friend and had a wonderful lunch filled with laughter and amazing food.

After lunch we went to a local mill that had been turned into art studios. We strolled through all the different displays of paintings, photography and other various art forms. We laughed and talked constantly. After we saw the art we went outside to a little lunch truck that stays parked outside the mill. My grandmother ordered one of every dessert they had and we sat down on a small porch. While we were sampling the desserts a rainstorm swept through. I jokingly stated that I felt like I was in the movie Steel Magnolias (good movie but OMG SAD!).

As I sat there under the porch, eating desserts and talking with the women I loved most in my life, I couldn’t help but feel that overwhelming sense of happiness. Everything was perfect in that moment. It wasn’t an extraordinary event, but it is one that I will never forget.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Need Your Help!

My good friend Rachel has asked for help and I am passing her plea along. Here is her blog post.

If any of you know anything about me, you know that I am a photographer and a Military Wife. These two things are both the center of my universe. It has been brought to my attention today by a very dear friend and photographer (and fellow destination wedding bride) that AMERICAN Airlines does NOT refund ticket prices should a member of the military be called to Active Duty or deployed before the ticket has been used.

When I heard this today, I was shocked.

Get this, not only do they not refund the money for the ticket, THEY CHARGE A $150 CANCELLATION FEE! What!?

I am heartbroken. As someone who has endured all the military can throw at a family… I know that the last thing a family needs to be dealing with in the face of a deployment is fighting with an airline company. It’s wrong, it’s unfair and they deserve their money back… plain and simple.

Here is the excerpt from Allie’s fiancee Jeff’s blog post explaining the situation:

“American Airlines does not refund tickets purchased by military personnel if they get called to active duty before they use the ticket. You heard me, not a single cent. Not only do they not refund the money, but they charge a $150 cancelation fee and give the soldier a credit (now $150 less) for a ticket that expires before most of their tours are up.

Here’s our story: We booked a photographer for our wedding in Mexico and agreed to fly her and a second shooter (military husband) down in exchange for the services. About four weeks later, she contacted us saying that her husband had been called back to Afghanistan for another yearly tour. Our thought was that, since his being called to active duty is out of his control, American Airlines would gladly change the name on the ticket to someone who could actually go. Not the case. Even after submitting US Military paperwork to American, the best they could do is the exact same deal they give to customers that call and bitch about changing a flight: a huge cancellation fee and credit for a later flight (which he’ll never be able to use). Nice work American Airlines, you guys are a class act.”

American Airlines? I don’t think so.

Ladies and gentleman, I’m asking for your help. Spread the word about this. Tweet the hell out of American Airlines. Ask them WHY they refuse to refund the ticket price of a man who is protecting their freedom. Let’s raise a little hell.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Adventures in Waitressing

Right after high school I decided to try being a waitress for a while. I think the correct term is actually “server” but I have always like waitress better. For three years I was the best waitress I could be and at first, I loved my job. I worked with a bunch of great people and we had so much fun. After about a year though, I started to despise it. I got so tired of the rude people and the constant complaining. I was always on my feet either serving my tables or cleaning up around the restaurant. During those three years I gained and lost friends, I dated a few great guys, I met some awful guys, I had some amazing regular customers and some horrible ones. I thought I would share some of those stories with you guys in case any of you ever consider becoming a waitress. I think you should know what is in store for you.

Some people either couldn’t read or couldn’t pronounce their words very well. I had a table order a Filet mignon (they pronounced it Fil-LET) and a Merlot (pronounced Mer-LOT). The T is silent people!

I dropped off a check to a couple that had been very friendly during the meal. They sat for a while and then left. They never tried to wave me over or get my attention. When I went to pick up their payment, they had written a note on the credit card slip that said, “The pen you gave us ran out of ink so you won’t get a tip.” Hmm. They obviously managed to find a pen since they wrote that wonderful note to me. But I obviously gave them a pen that was out of ink on purpose to make them angry. I am so evil sometimes.

A very large man used many swear words while yelling at me because we were out of prime rib.
I learned to take deep breaths and not punch someone when my tables snapped their fingers at me.

I figured out that I could never tell whether my table would give a good tip or not. I had tables that were so nice and made conversation that left me nothing and I had tables that seemed rude give me great tips.

I once had a guy leave me a penny for a tip.

I could always tell when a couple was arguing and it would always make me really uncomfortable.

One night I got sat with a table of 3 older couples. They were so sweet and friendly during the meal. They all ordered Filet mignon which was our best steak available. After they ordered, I went over the order to make sure everything was correct and they said it was. They all ate every bite of their steaks and commented how great everything tasted. When I brought them their check, they seemed confused and they told me they did not order a steak that was so expensive. When I explained to them that Filet mignon cost more they told me they had all ordered sirloins (a much less expensive steak) and not Filet's. I told them that I was sorry for the misunderstanding but since they ate their meals they would need to pay for them. They were very upset but they paid and left. After they left, the family that was sitting behind them called me over. They said that they had overheard the older couples talked after I had left the bill. They heard them say, “Well it was worth a try” and they continued to talk about how it usually works. The sweet couples were trying to scam me!

A nasty man used to come in and flirt with me. He slipped $100 in my pocket once. He creeped me out and I would stay far away from him when he came in to eat. He once stood outside the kitchen to wait for me because I hadn’t come over to see him. He always came in with his wife and kids whom I adored.

One of my regulars was an elderly couple that would only sit in my section. One day, the wife came in and grabbed me, started crying and told me her husband had died. I just held her while she cried.

Drunk guys would grab our butts. The managers would kick them out.

I screwed up a lot, especially in the beginning. I put orders in wrong, forgot stuff and got behind. I eventually became an awesome waitress but it was rough at first. I cried about once a day for the first month or so. I learned to apologize when I screwed up and have carried that lesson with me ever since.

One of my friends dropped an entire tray of food on my table. Another one of my friends spilled a beer on a baby. I got giant blisters on my hand from hot trays and plates. A couple of my friends slipped and fell. It was a hazardous job!

Once, as I was handing out glasses of water to my table, I spilled them all over my customers. I went back to the drink station and poured new glasses of water. As I was walking back to my table I spilled them again. I went back to get more water and as I was pouring it, I spilled it again. My table must have thought I was a moron.

Overall, I learned a ton of valuable lessons in my years as a waitress. It is a job that I will never do again but I do not regret going through it.

**I will start replying to comments in the comment section. I know a lot of people don't come back to read the comments again so I thought I would let you know.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nanny and Papa

On July 2, 2009 my Papa passed away. On July 6, 2010 my Nanny left us too. To say I was devastated is an understatement. I didn't just lose my grandparents. I also lost a part of my childhood. There are so many smells and memories associated with their house that I never want to forget. I will always remember playing Nintendo with my Nanny for hours. Every time we visited we would stuff ourselves on those little mini powdered doughnuts. These are the memories I will cling to.

When JJ and I went to their house to stay the night before the funeral, I made sure to take as many pictures as I could. I did not want these memories to fade as they often do. I couldn't stand for those memories to get blurred around the edges so I tried to capture everything I possible could.

Whenever we would pull up to the house, my Nanny and Papa would be waiting on the front porch for us.

We would walk up to the porch and sit and talk for while. There are so many memories of us hanging out on the porch just talking for hours.

If you look out from the front porch you could see the fields surrounding the house. A lot of times, there would be corn in the field right next to the house. You would also see the fake deer on the front lawn. For some reason, these deer absolutely fascinated me when I was a little girl. I always had this urge to hop on them and go for a ride.

Another place we loved to sit was on the back porch swing. I loved having long talks with my Nanny on that swing. Nothing can make you feel as good as the love of a grandparent. Nothing.

Walking through the house, it is pretty clear what time period my Nanny and Papa treasured. Each room is filled to the brim with memories of laughter and togetherness.

The living room
The kitchen holds many, many memories of amazing meals. My Nanny used to make the most incredible spaghetti you had ever tasted. With homemade meatballs and sauce, it was like biting into heaven.

My Papa's favorite room had to have been his TV room. He would sit in his recliner and watch sports for hours. We would all gather in there and play games like Life and a basketball game called Basket.

Throughout the house are decorations and collectibles that for some reason or another, immediately bring me back to my childhood.

My grandfather was a veteran and had a couple of old guns that he was very proud of. One of them was on display in the TV room along with some other collectibles.

One of my Nanny's favorite things to do was paint using paint-by-number kits. She painted some beautiful paintings and even gave me a few of them. When JJ and I were at the house before the funeral I spotted a stack of kits that had not been opened yet. I also noticed there were a few articles of clothing in her laundry basket and I couldn't stop the tears from coming.

I kept picturing her walking through the store buying new kits and thinking about how much she would enjoy painting each one. I thought about her putting her laundry in basket knowing she would get to it later.

She had a difficult last few months. She had a surgery for an aneurysm in April and during the surgery they discovered she had a clot in her lungs. After the surgery she had a lot of trouble recovering. She had to be in the ICU for a long period of time. She was in pain and was scared. I hate knowing how much she struggled those last few months.

I also know how much she missed her husband. My grandparents were always together and living without him was terrible for my Nanny. I know, deep down, that they are now reunited. They are finally back together and they will always be with me. They were not famous or rich. Their stories are not on the news or in the tabloids. But they were amazing people. They were wonderful parents and grandparents. They took care of their friends and always tried to do what was right. And now they are free of pain and tears, together again.

I love and miss you Nanny and Papa!