Things that make me smile.

I returned from my lunch break at around 2:00 this afternoon.  I clocked back in at Eco, set my purse onto the floor, began to sit down into my high-off-the-ground, swivel “bank” chair and reached into my coat pocket (for the key to my drawer).  Insead, I grabbed a handful of dog treats. 

I love that.

~

I got a text message from Sierra the other day.  It was something brief, a recounting or “nutshell” description of some event that had transpired earlier on during the day.. and after her story, she concluded with — and gave no reasons for this statement/ declaration

“Sami is so cute!” (Sami is her good-looking but ugly hearted Siberian Husky pet).  Sierra is vain, her dog is vain, mom loves Sami, Sami loves being admired.

I just love that.

~

I’ve worked at Cracker Barrel a lot over the past year.  It’s always so..satisfying – when this happens. 

You, have asked a fellow server, “May I roll with you?”– meaning, “both of us have to roll silverware in order to get the heck out of here so would you mind sharing some of the spoons, knives and forks available that you secured before anyone else and that you yourself didn’t wash or sort?”.  Yeah.. you ask that.  And they say, “Nooo, sorry!  😦 There’s just enough for me.”

..

And then, weeks –or, maybe just days — later, that JERK server comes over to you on a crazy-busy Sunday and asks, sweetly, “Can I roll with you?”

You turn and look at them — they meet with your eyes — and you say, pointedly, and simply, in a “this is how we dooo ittt” sort of way –

“Yes.”

I love that.

And what I love even more, is when a new “server in the alley” walks up to me and asks, meekly, “Can I please roll with you?”, and I know from the defeated way they ask — in a weak, imploring tone — and by the sad, pitiful look on their face when they present themselves to me, that they’ve asked five thousand other cheeseheads who ‘shooed’ them off.  I reply, incredulously, “uh, duh?  Of course you can?”  At once, they look relieved, happy, and I can tell they feel accepted.

Love that.

~

I also loveee — the people sitting at table 312 on last Sunday morning at 10:40, insisting that they want to order lunch when I (being the server who works there and not they) perfectly well know (and explain to the empty sacks) that the grill line isn’t “set-up” for lunch yet, and that if I put a lunch order into the computer this early, the grill cooks will be caught off guard, and by making these workers have to run to the back cooler and oven to pull products (prematurely) to the front, THEIR (these guests’) ticket time will suffer and multitudes of other food tickets will as well, as it’s a time-consumming, pain-in-the-rear-end sort of thing

Then, they order lunch anyways, their food comes out late, and they – a table of five – leave me a two dollar and 66 cent tip.

Thanks for the change, I put it in my CHEESEHEAD-TIPPER jar at home and cash the yield in once every month or two for extra groceries.

I really do love that.

Really, I do!  There was some sarcasm in the story, but really.. the Lord uses people such as those just described to test my character and develop patience in me.  How else could He?  Trust me, nothing is more frustrating, disheartening and maddening (a little more intense than frustrating) than running your butt off for hours, carrying loaded trays out of a smokey kitchen in response to screams for help, all the way out to a hunger stricken WARZONE,..  scurrying in and out of the said kitchen for “Oh I needed ketchup” whiners and “More TEA!” barkers (and it’s not even your table you’re stressing out for).. rolling silverware (yeah, when the other girls have left a handful of forks and two knives in the dish area for you to have and when they stop stealing your unfolded napkins), counting sugars, finding new caddies to put them in (because the server in the section before you broke the one that sat on 321 and didn’t replace it), sweeping up kiddie messes, mopping up water spills and keeping everything stocked, sanitized and organized..

and then, making crap (aka, $2.66 — in case any one reading this is of the kind that leaves that kind of “tip” on a fifty dollar check, stop being a jerk).  Nothing, is more frustrating than that.  As my coworker/friend Carla said, way down in Florida and a long while back, “If you leave a crappy tip on my table, I’m going to walk up to you and give it right back – saying ‘here you go.  You obviously need this more than I do.’  If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to dine-out.” 

Word.

Doing all you can to please a table, waiting on them “hand and foot” (you run, you carry things..), dealing with their moodiness, demands, and attitude –

and getting $2.66. 

I love that.  Praise the Lord for answering our prayers when we ask Him to “refine, purify, and mold us”.. to cause us to “reflect His loveliness,” and “to bear His likeness.”

Be careful what you ask for; really want what you pray for. 🙂

~

And then.. there is working at Eco.

I love it.. I really do.  It’s the best job I’ve ever had.

I love when E.J. (a member — all names/ initials fake for protection) calls.

“Eco Credit Union this is Rose speaking, how can I help you?”
(and you have to smile while you say this — they can hear it, supposedly.  I think it’s true.)

“… (silence) This ih E.J.  I want the balance on my checkin account.”

(this is said gruffly, authoritatively — semi-RUDELY.)

“(Knowing who this is, but requiring his cooperation, anyways) Yes Sir.  I’ll need your account number, please.”

“… (silence) I don’t KNOW my account numbah.”  I knew you’d say that.

“Okay then, you’ll have to give me the last four digits of your social so that I can verify your identity.” 

(He gives me all 9.. I kind of get that — it takes a minute to forward, mentally, past the first 5)

“Okay.. the balance on your checking account is..”

Once, afew weeks back, it was negative.  He flipped.

“WHAT!!!”

“..Yes, Sir?”

“WHATS MY BALANCE!”

(I repeated)

And then he hung up.

Yeah.. atleast one of us tellers gets him every day.

It’s always interesting.

And then, there are the other “regulars.”

Mrs. Four, who always comes through the drive-thru dressed elegantly and sophisticatedly.  She’s an eighty? year old woman and very proud of the many checks she deposits/ cashes.

(me, greeting the member)

“Hello, and how are you today, Mrs. Four?”

“Oh, great!  Justtttt wanted to deposit these.”

She almost always has someone with her — to look on, and admire.

I feel her staring at me as I process the transaction.. I always wonder,

what is she thinking?  “This girl is so homely looking;” “I wish I was that young again;” “Maybe she’ll type in the wrong amount and it will be in my favor” ??

And, Mrs. Smile.

She always comes dressed fashionably, wearing a gorgeous smile and toting a young (college-aged daughter? office assistant?) with her.  They withdraw more than they deposit and I always imagine, as they pull away, that while Mrs. Smile’s husband is out working in some high, up-stairs, window-view office, she’s shopping — finding clothes that make her look pretty, perfume that makes her smell nice, food that is or isn’t nutritious but is easy to prepare, and allows more time for fun, frolicking and irresponsbility..

or, I guess you’d call it, no responsibility –

because if you aren’t supposed to be doing anything,

you aren’t not fulfilling your duty by doing nothing.

Also, Mr. Golden.  I’ve been his MSR (member service representative — CU term for “teller”) afew times now, and a couple of weeks ago, when Christopher and I took Woo!pet to the veteranarian for his first Alabama visit (12 weeks shots), a man in the room called out my name.  “Rose!” I turned in the direction I perceived the voice came from.. it was to the right of me, from a man leaning up against the office counter. “Hey! You work at the Credit Union, right?”

What a glorious day that was. 

I was recognized as a teller.. and not a server. 

What a compliment.

Why yes, I mused to myself, I am that teller in the window.  I sat down next to Chris and smiled.  He understood.  He’s happy for me.

Anyways, every time he pulls in, I ask where his dog is.  “Why didn’t you bring your golden retriever with you?  I want to see him next time!” 

Then, there’s Mrs. Hair.  She’s one of my favorites.  She pulls up in her out-dated (and awesome.. I’m not into the “newer” stuff) sports car and I greet her by name.  She always thinks she has a deposit slip in her purse, but I send one through the electronic conveyor, anyways, because either she’s misplaced it, forgotten she already USED the last one, or the one she did have “ripped.”  She’s very sweet.. there are a lot of people I meet while on-the-clock that I would love to be friends with outside of work.

But, no.  I am “sophisticated” and “business-y.”  Unapproachable and dressed cute.  Sometimes, I feel like people with well-paying jobs feel and act that way.

I know I never will.

And while I am excited to begin serving at Olive Garden, with those round trays and big bowls of italian-dressed salad, I’m still holding out for Eco.. hoping that, at some point, they’ll want a full-time teller at a location within 15 minutes from my house.

I would love that.

-Aun Aqui

Target (the price slash), Girly clothes, Tricks for Treats, Withheld hours and Supernatural harrassment.

New song (an original) – titled “A Ghost.”

Choice instrument: piano.

Lyrics: below.

v1  Weakness begins in the darkness

you thought you were fearless all along

Weak hands, – feeling them trembling

you know that we’re ending (goodbye song)

pc1  In this age, when you’re wanting when you’re

ready

to leave, you

wont

And fire your guns, but the war is won.. there’s no

out or

place

for

a ghost.

c1  Hold.. me now, love –  I am with you – tonight.

Hold.. me now, love – I am right by – your side..

I’m by your side.

v2  The ending, right after beginning, comes faster than you’d dream

(or want to believe)

and Eventually

you’ll keep on calling

for a hand, a hope, of relief

pc2  But no, no no

There’s no place to go

You have built up – walls they cannot break down

And it’s hard to show

But the pain, I know,

is the bleeding, the letdowns, the scream that resounds

c2  Hold.. me now, love – I am with you – tonight.

Hold.. me now, love – I am right by – your side..

I’m by your side.

v3  (outro) I loved you

But now I hate you

You know that I want to let it go

But you hurt me

Got up and deserted me

Now I’m stuck in a past that

I wish I didn’t know. 

-Aun Aqui

****************** January 18th-20th, 2011*

(written in increments)

 

“Target” (grocery shopping) practice.

So Chris and I went shopping at a “super” Target afew weeks ago and it turned out amazing.  Our sole intention, walking in, was to find a new polo shirt (for him to wear to work) and some dressy “girl” blouses/ clothes (for me to wear to my part-time Credit Union job).  Anyways, as we navigated down the aisles and meandered around displays and corners, we found ourselves approaching the ‘food section.’  It was already in our “plan” to stop by Publix and Organic Harvest on the way home for our food supply, but being here – it being so late, and already being in the store making it so easy to do and convenient – we just grabbed a cart (up until this point, we had been able to do without) and began strolling through the “food world.” 

We were delighted.

I love stores that “sell it for the sale price” without coupon presentation.. you know?  You don’t have to come prepared, armed and informed — you just show up and see what suits you – find the deals, explore the meal-planning options.

59 cents a pound for BANANAS?  Come on!  Even Walmart’s nanners are like 69 cents.  Kiwi: 39 cents each?  (Comparatively speaking, Publix’s kiwi — yes, grown right in and at Publix — go for 2/$1).  Packaged organic romaine hearts (that’s lettuce, and we’re vegetarians.. just clarifying) for $2.99?  ORGANIC macaroni and cheese boxes for a DOLLAR EACH?  And yes – the best part of all.. Amy’s brand pizzas (animal enzyme free; plus, they’re made with a whole wheat crust!) were priced for under 6 dollars each (Organic Harvest: $6.99) and Morning Star Farm products (popular vegetarian “meat substitute” cuisine) was on SALE for $3 a package.  Yeah.. it was like Christmas.  In a not pagan and not December way.

Beautiful price slashing.  We were digging it.

Anyways, we enjoyed the selection, savings and experience so much that, yesterday, when I was off work and knew we needed to go grocery shopping, I returned to the super Target and spent way too much money on amazing deals.  Our fridge and cupboards are full.. we won’t lose any weight this month. 

Really, in retrospect, Target should pay me for this e-advertising.  Hmm..

I’m so grateful to God for the “little things.” 

(Is food a little thing?  People act like it is..)  I don’t take good, healthy, tasty food for granted anymore (like I did when living with the beneficient Sierra Madre); I am so appreciative, so thankful, to be able to buy, prepare (in our own little home) and enjoy – food.  I’ve learned to cook better (stuff isn’t as black, rock-hard crunchy, or marshmallowy-over-cooked soft as it used to be), and to be more creative when preparing meals (utilizing spices and seasonings, producing casserole like combinations and embracing variety).  I aim for “plate appeal” and seek to cater to Chris’s likings (although, we’ll both admit, I’m alittle more 1. picky and 2. opinionated.. so pretty much every meal includes a favorite or preference of mine).  Chris and I always eat breakfast and dinner together; I get up with him at 6 (even though I don’t go in til later on in the morning) to cook breakfast for us and, when I get home late from work, he cooks dinner for he and I (like, tonight).  It’s teamwork.  It takes the pressure off.  It’s fun. 

We love grocery shopping.

Anyways, aside from that, more “recentlies”:

(yeah, I’ve decided that’s a word..)

Bruster is STILL the coolest dog EVER! 

Not only is he potty trained (pretty sure I shared that update afew weeks ago; if you haven’t been following my blog, Bruster is Chris and I’s German Shepherd puppy), but he can do four tricks (each named trick will be followed by a “how-to..” yeah, I’m the next DOG WHISPERER!)

#1.  Come.  Probably one of the most important dog-commands.. and yes, it’s a trick.   Here’s how I taught him:  grab a treat, toy — something desirable — and distance yourself from the dog.  Start by calling out his name, authoritatively and invitingly (if you can someone combine those two; might want to start off ‘babying’ him and cooing “____” insert your dog’s name here and exaggerate y/e sounds).  Once you get his attention (he’s looking at you), extend your hand, showing him the prize, and say – immediately, before he starts running/ walking/ crawling and WHILE he is approaching you – “come.”  When he arrives, praise him — “Good boy, __, come!  Good boy!”  Ta-da.  It took Bruster like 4 times to “get it.”  Now, he listens when I DON’T have a treat.. he just knows, I’m the boss.  I am Alpha – and you have to be.   (Remember, if you have a large breed, it’s a lot easier to establish dominance and teach tricks while he’s little and manageable than when he’s eighty something pounds and knocking you over, effortlessly).

#2.  Sit.  I’ll make this one less explanatory/ lengthy.  Take a treat, have the dog approach you (s/he should respond to “come” by now, it’s a requisite) and say “sit” as you hold the treat over the pup’s head and slowly extend it beyond the dog’s sight of vision (in other words – you are pushing the treat forward, in a linear direction).. this will cause the dog to sit.  Praise him; “Sit! Good boy!” (reward accordingly).

#3.  Shake.  Couple this with sit.  This is just a “cutsie” trick; not exactly “functional.”  It took Bruster.. maybe 7 tries to get this.  He’s super dog, though.. remember that your pet is inferior and it will probably take atleast 150% more effort and stress.  🙂 

Once you command your pet to sit and s/he obeys, say “good!” and reward him/ her (you should have two treats in your hand while the pet is learning.. it’s a good reinforcer. I’ve worked down to one treat for both tricks).  Then, while the dog is still sitting, say “Shaaake,” and grab it’s paw.  Shake the paw up and down for about five seconds, the whole time saying “Good, ___! Shake! Good!” and then reward the pet with the treat, as you drop the paw.  Yep.  That’s about it.  Dog-training really ISN’T rocket science (I didn’t even rent a book when we got Woo!pet; you just use common sense and search on Google where necessary).

#4.  **UBER important.**  Say a car is coming down the street you live on and your pet is running outside of your apartment and heading in the direction of a big, black cat that is sitting on the other side of the road — your dog needs to know how to

STAY.  How-to:  This one takes time.  But really, Bruster got it pretty quickly (duh.. of course, you’re musing.. bruster is super dog, awesome pet, blah blahblah).  I started off by having Bruster obey the command “sit.”  (If your pet has by this time learned “shake,” he’ll probably want to shake immediately after sitting so he can get his treat(s) faster.. just.. ignore it, I guess; that’s what I do).  Commend the dog and then say, in a deep, low, almost threatening (more authoritative than anything else) voice, “STAYY.”  Take one step by back, holding your hand out in front of you, in a “hault” position.  Repeat, “STAY,” and take another step back.  If your dog hasn’t advanced towards the treat in your hand at this point, PRAISE THE DOG LIKE MAD and reward him.  Say “GOOD DOG OMGOODNESS YOU’RE SO GREAT!” and give him the treat, motioning for him to come.  Yes.. your dog is teachable.  Progressively take more steps further away, eventually to the point where you can leave the room and your dog is still remaining in the place where you left him upon you return. 

And that’s all for now.  I’m pretty proud of my pet.. he’s awesome, superior to all others (let it be known).  🙂  We’re working on “down” right now, and he’s actually not catching on as well as I expected (I’m certain it’s my fault and not his — didn’t really have a “dead-on” technique idea for this one) So if any of you have any advice on how to teach a dog “down” (meaning LAY down; the “get off of me” trick Chris and I refer to as “off”), please share. 

We’ll move on from this to a more sober account. 

Chris got a call this past week from a mutual church-friend of ours (to you, anonymous).  He confided a lot in Chris (and myself), about recent struggles with addiction – all kinds of addiction (alcohol, pain meds, drinking, pornography, etc).  He felt an extreme load of guilt hovering over him, and felt severely disappointed in himself — for being so convicted of the love of Christ and yet to be found sinning still

I (as well as Chris) tried to communicate to him that,- he’s no different from anyone else.  Really.  Often — more like ALL THE TIME — the “grosser” sins are reproved and the transgressors are shunned while the “little problems” are overlooked and, even excused.  Gossipers, little ‘white’ liars, flirts (yeah — I think that’s a sin.  If you care to talk about it, inform me), selfish people and rude people are perfectly excused and even admired in their course of action.. while people like our friend are shunned, viewed in contempt, isolated for their weakness

when we are ALL suffering from the same disease.. just displaying different “symptoms.”

We talked, prayed and encouraged one another to be strong, to be determined, to be courageous (Joshua 1:9) and to not let fears corrupt our minds and darken our hearts (as we have let them in the past); for God is not the author of FEAR or CONFUSION — perfect love casts OUT fear — and if we resist the devil, he will flee from us.. BECAUSE of the power and love, of Christ.  Most of us DONT resist the devil.  I heard a quote once that I decided to not forget..

“We don’t run away from sin.  We crawl away from sin,

 hoping it will catch up with us.”

 

Anyways.. job-wise, I’m sooooo relieved.

I no longer have to work at Cracker Barrel, as I have been hired ELSEWHERE.

I determined, Wednesday morning, that I would get up, cook for Chris, care for Bruster, clean the house and then — find a NEW job.  (Don’t confuse this — I have TWO jobs: I serve at Cracker Barrel and work as a Teller at Eco Credit Union.  It is the formerrr job that I wished to be released from — for various reasons; namely, the distance from my house, poor management at current location, and.. the menu! Honestly, I find the food repulsive, and it’s veryyy difficult to script food you hate).  Anyways, I propped myself up on the couch.. my cell phone in-reach, wearing pajamas, keeping an eye on Bruster (who was laying on the floor beside me).. and made a list of all the places I could apply at for part-time hire.  I came up with a reasonable list, of establishments in close proximity to our apartment and that I knew would hire someone who didn’t possess college experience (I’ll be starting in August).  I reached for my phone and began dialing the first number — but felt deeply, very deeply impressed that I needed to pray first.. to inquire of the Lord, to petition His guidance in and control over the matter. 

So, I did.

And here’s what happened.

I resumed dialing the number to, Olive Garden!  First off, I love eating there.. Chris always knows where to take me when he wants us to have a “special date;” I’m a creature of habit.. I always get the same thing – so my menu knowledge isn’t what it could be, but, I’m a quick learner; I enjoy working with people (and am trying to move past the brain wave that says I’m greedy for taking my tip off of my table) and I have experience in serving.  So.. thought it was a good idea.  Anyways, a woman answered. 

“Olive Garden, this is Christina speaking – how may I help you?”

“Hi, Christina!  My name is Rose; I was just wondering who I could speak with in regards to open server positions at this location?”

“Well, you can talk to me.”

So, I did (unaware that she was the HR manager).  She asked some questions, I answered honestly (and competently, I feel) and she invited me to a 10:30 interview.. that morning. 

“Absolutely!” I assented.  So, all of my efforts, for the next hour and a half, were bent on making myself look presentable and, to the best of my ability, taking care of Woo!pet’s constant needs (hungry, thirsty, have to go potty, want to play, want to bite, want to be cuddled, want to annoy you).   So I picked out a “dressy”-girl outfit, took a shower, BLEW DRY MY HAIR (yes, I took great pains to look good), EVEN put on MAKE-UP (I’m talking concealer, powder AND blush.  Look out.).. grabbed a cookie on my way to the car and left.

I arrived and the doors were locked, so, I called Olive Garden again (the number was in my phone’s “recent history”) and explained who it was that they saw standing outside and why I needed to get in.  I was let in and told to sit at a round cafe table near the bar (I’ll get to that issue later..)  Soon, a woman approached me, smiling, and handed me a double sided piece of paper.  “Just fill this out and I’ll be back with you!”

Gladly, I did so.  It took maybe ten minutes.  Then, I overheard her pass me off to the other manager.  He rounded the corner and sat at the table where I was.  We talked for the space of 20 minutes and he seemed very happy, impressed, and I knew I had it.

He asked a lot of thought provoking questions (atleast, to me; it was the most drilling job interview I’VE ever experienced).

“I’m your manager.. what are you going to expect from me?”

“How are you going to deal with the servers who DONT do their job and leave messes for YOU to handle?”

And, again approaching “that issue” –

“How are you going to feel about scripting wine to each table?”

Well, I had thought about it long before coming in, long before APPLYING.  It didn’t bother my conscience.  Why?  The consumption of alcohol, is a personal choice.  I don’t support it (I’m not working at a pub, exclusively vending alcohol), and I’m there – primarily – to serve FOOD, to meet people’s needs and provide a relaxed, satisfying dine-out experience.  Drinks just go along with it.  I have made a personal committment to NOT drink, and everyone has the same freedom to decide for themselves.  Without his prompting/ inquiring, I shared that I wasn’t going to try to persuade the guest one way or the other based off of my Christian beliefs – saying, when the manager isn’t around, “you should get THIS instead..”  no.  It’s not my business.  I will offer the evening special.. I will allow my guest the option of choosing for his/herself.  The decision that customer makes, is their own.  That’s the end of it.

Anyways, after hearing and answering all of my questions, he looked up at me and smiled.  “Well Rose, sounds like this is a good fit for you.”

Wow.

I smiled. 

He’s actually considering my needs, my financial situation, my talents, my preferences, my availability, and caring – however minimally – about that.  A manager had never “said it” that way before.  I appreciated it.

“Absolutely, it is!”  I joined in.

“Welcome on board!” he congratulated me and shook my hand.  I left with two menus to study, a “proper uniform” card to follow, and a smile on my face. 

Cracker Barrel.. CB.. is history.

One last CB story.

Last week, I had an interesting encounter. 

It was a Sunday and, somehow, I had been given a three table section (half the time, they stick me with two tables and I leave with seventy dollars instead of a hundred).  I was being seated at table 311 (window view in the back-left of the 3rd dining room).. a group of 5 mexicans. 

Now listen, I’m not a racist.  I have had many Mexican friends, all of them wonderful and dear to my heart (one in particular, Betty Palma, was my best friend all throughout 7th grade).  Also, I have been studying the Spanish language for years!  I am making it clear, – I am not racist.

However, certain groups tip better than others.  Is it financial situations, customs, upraising, ..?  I don’t know.  But usually, Mexicans tip alittle less than usual (don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying all the time, as there are exceptions: I got a ten dollar tip from two Mexican ladies just two weeks ago.. it was great.  What really sucked was when I was sat at an eight top table, a family of Muslims were seated, and they stipped me.  Yeah.  That was probably a cultural thing; they just didn’t know, so I tried not to get upset).  ANYWAYS.. I saw them approaching and noted to myself, “don’t expect much,” while still determining to be “bestest waitress” and make the experience as fun for them as possible.  I was cheerful, helpful and patient with them.. I was attentive, considerate and humorous.  They loved me. 

“I wish you could work for ME,” the man exclaimed.  “You are so wonderful with people, Rose!  I own a restaurant and would love to have you serving there.”

“Awe, well thank you!  I’ve actually been looking for a different job..”

At this, he and the other middle-aged gentleman exchanged looks.  “You see!” he said, “She can work for us!” 

I inquired further and, in short, they were co-owners of the Margarita Grill on US 119 in Pelham.  One of the men’s names was Havier.. I can’t remember the other.. but they were so, very, kind.

Already, the plans were in the making — I would begin serving there, it would be all wonderful and great and hunky dory.. I ran to the breakroom during a moment when no table needed anything and texted Chris, ELATED, that I was finally being freed – and finally going to be able to put my Spanish knowledge to use – when..

I returned to the table and he held his hands out, imploringly.

“One thing.. tell me you’re 21.” 

…what?

Down, down, down the air-balloon traveled.. words like “over,” and “history,” flashed through my mind.. disappointment, cry cry booHOO.

“Oh..” I returned my mind to the present, where they were all still sitting there in front of me, exchanging glances, shaking their heads, moaning the loss in a socially acceptable, quiet sort of way. 

We decided that when I turn 21 I’ll head over there and present myself to Havier; he’ll remember me and hire me on the spot.  But, before that..
“You and your husband HAVE to come eat at my restaurant! I will buy you DINNER!”

“No, Havier! I don’t want you to do that..”

“No, you must.  This Friday night you come.”

“Well, we can’t Friday..”

“Okay–what day COULD you come?”  He insisted, so..

“Monday night..”

“I’ll see you then!”

With that, he handed me a fifteen dollar tip and the family smiled, sad I couldn’t work with them but glad that the opportunity remained and I would be able to, with my husband, enjoy their excellent, wonderful food.

Chris and I did go that Monday evening and it was honestly the nicest Mexican restaurant we’ve ever experienced.  The decor was festive (but not overdone), the tables were neat and clean.. it wasn’t a cluttered atmosphere, with one table scraping against the next and chairs knocking into eachother- it was very open.. very relaxing.  Our server, was very personable.. our food, was perfectly made – we got exactly what we ordered and it was of the best quality.  The manager came over to talk with us personally — he literally pulled up a chair and just talked about “daily life matters” with us.  The chips and salsa came freely, we didn’t feel rushed, and we were checked on multiple times to see if “anything was missing.”  Live music hummed in the background and the lighting was dim – but not so dark that I couldn’t look into Chris’s beautiful face.  🙂  It was a great treat, a wonderful date, and I’ll always have the fondest thoughts of Havier and memories of our date, and will maintain the intention of applying at the Margarita Grill and joining the gang as soon as possible.

I guess that about covers it all.  Shopping, working, ministry, parenthood.. my family is still enjoying the reunion down in Florida.  Micah, Amy and Christian flew down and they are all having a wonderful time together.  I miss them, I hate that I can’t be there, but I’m okay with it.  God orchestrates everything the way He wants it, the way it should be, the way everything is better, and some things are best.  I’m okay with being here, if here, somebody or something needs me. 

I love when it’s slow at Eco Credit Union.  Sometimes it feels like I’m paid to be a writer.

-Aun Aqui

January 20th 2011

Consulting my mind, and understanding my perspective (just exploring, and writing “it” out – yesterday, weeks ago, and next November). Dogs, houses – school and candy.

 

into the arms of make-believe, you find your solace there

cuddled in a hazy inbetween, like you hardly know you’re there

 

-Aun Aqui

1/7/2011.

This is just a streaming entry “of the present;” not copying anything I’ve written down in the past week.. nothing old, this will all be new (unless I decide to share a poem or song I’ve written or composed).

Life has been busy, like usual.  Whose life ISN’T busy?  And while a life without pressure – consisting only of free time and personal pursuits – is dreamt of, longed for, an idea to be worshiped..

is it really THAT worth living?

How interesting is a not-busy life?

I remember school breaks.  I always cried on the last day of school (when I wasn’t homeschooled and my mother allowed me to attend public school).  That last bell and bus ride home meant — I won’t have set goals for everyday, the coaching of teachers, the companionship of friends, the widely acclaimed and somehow special and heart-warming cafeteria food, the early rising and good sleep. 

It was devastating.

I’ve always loved keeping busy.. I’ve thrived when I’ve had demands on my time.  When left to myself — uncalled, nothing assigned to me — I wither, emotionally, spiritually, physically.  What is there, then, to do, but

  • eat,
  • sleep, and
  • watch TV too much?

Chris and 1. eat healthfully and moderately, 2. sleep an average of 6-7 hours a night, and 3.  don’t even own a TV.

Anyways.  So yes, life is busy.. Bruster (our new puppy) has revolutionized our lives.  It’s all about Bruster.  Chris and I are feeling a sort of sentimental sadness, as if we’ve lost our old closeness.  All our “free time” (very minimal, it always was) used to be devoted exclusively to eachother.  Now, when I walk in the door, I’ve barely greeted and kissed Chris on the cheek before Bruster comes running over, whining –wanting to be fed, watered, petted, walked or played with.  Chris falls into bed, late and exhausted every night.. feeling unfulfilled, because “all he’s done” is work 8 hours at Panera, cook dinner for us and entertain and care for a dog.  It’s been hard on me.. because when I sense that he’s unhappy and stressed, I feel entirely responsible. 

He married me.. I was supposed to make him happy.  I’ve made his life harder.  I’ve crushed his dreams.  He used to have free time to pursue his noble interests; now, he doesnt, because he doesn’t have time, because he has to work, because we have bills, BECAUSE OF MEI wanted the dog, I was scared of being alone in the apartment.  He has to cook dinner, because I wont get home early enough this evening..

the list goes on.  That’s the train of thought.

So yes, we’ve had to do some growing, maturing, adjusting, and communicating.  We’ve had to establish that we aren’t turning on eachother in the midst of stress.. financial and emotional.  We just misdirect our frustrations sometimes.

Financial stress..

who doesn’t understand that phrase.

Well, I’m still working part-time (only) at Eco.  My hope of being hired for full-time work after being trained is slowly caving to realism: they just don’t NEED another full-time teller on duty 5 days a week.  Tough luck, should have applied three months sooner, when they were hiring for a new, replacement full-time teller (as the one who had been there for 30 years was – finally – retiring).   You can imagine how often a full-time teller position comes along, considering that last clause.

Anyways, because the hours I’m getting are insufficient to pay for all of Chris and I’s expenses (this modern world makes sure there are plenty of ‘essentials’ and ‘indispensables’ so that you stay as busy and enslaved as possible), I’ve also been working at Cracker Barrel 2-3 days a week and just picked up, this last week, a third job.  I will now be editing the twice-monthly Beauticontrol newsletter for a high-up team leader.  The pay is good, and the work is almost fun.. I enjoy editing and being creative,- piecing things together and applying focused attention to detail, so I’m trying to train myself to look at this gig as more of a “hobby” than a necessity, .. to keep from becoming “overwhelmed” and.. stressed.

Chris, is still working at Panera.  I believe I’ve already shared that he got promoted to the position of catering coordinator?  Which means that he’ll be paid $10/hrly, will receive 35+ hours on the clock weekly, and also has the chance of making tips off of orders.  This, is wonderful.  It’ll take some pressure off of me.. and, I hope that he’ll find that he enjoys it.  Whatever work we do – whatever duty lies nearest us and calls for our attention and care – if we do it “mightily,” as “unto the Lord,” – if we give our honest “all” and do not regard the job with shame and hurt pride, or consider it an indignity –

we are doing a noble work, and the Lord counts us as doing HIS work as faithfully in this indirect way as if we were working directly for Him (preaching, teaching, evangelizing).

Going all the way back to last year (doesn’t seem too far away yet, does it?), Chris and I spent our first “not-Christmas” together (neither of us celebrates the holiday traditionally — with a tree, reindeer, Santa Claus figurines and the exchanging of gifts, but we still enjoyed the time off work and spent with family).  We went to three dinners: one at his Aunt Sandra’s house (Friday evening), one at his mom’s house Christmas day (afternoon; we helped cook the meal a day in advance), and last of all a light meal and social at his grandfather’s house Christmas evening.  It was nice, meeting everyone, talking about recent developments (getting jobs, our own place and a puppy) , and enjoying all the food that had been prepared.  I have fond memories of our first “non-Christmas..” and, our first “Happy New Year.”

Really — THANKFULLY – neither of us is that big on holidays.  New Years Eve, we went to bed at 9..  pm.  It was great!  We needed the rest.  THAT’S how we celebrate.  🙂 

Really, we just celebrate every day.. every day we’re alive and together, every day we have food to eat, water to drink, a place to sleep at and live in.  We celebrate with..

sugar.

Yes. We’re both completely, hopelessly addicted.

Pretty sure you’re all aware of the fact that I’m extremely fond of chocolate (as Pastor Karl draws attention to this truth often.. haha), but chocolate doesn’t comprise the chocolate bar only.  No.. there’s more.

I love

  • Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream

  and pretty much any kind of chocolate ice cream

  • Chocolate brownies
  • Chocolate cookies (bake them at home and dunk them in soymilk, it’s great; also, specifically, the Chocolate-mint Krinkle Cookie, found exclusively at Panera, is incredible)
  • Chocolate milkshakes (especially good with cherries & whip cream; Bruster’s and Chik-Fil-A’s are the best)
  • Chocolate bars (yes.. the original and most popular/ common form of chocolate; try Chocolove’s brand Chocolate Orange flavor, found at Organic Harvest food market in Hoover) and
  • Chocolate milk (on occasion).

And then, there is a whole other WORLD of sugary treats outside of chocolate delights.  There are ginger cookies (by Immaculate Baking Company: Chris’s favorite), lemon poppyseed cookies (by Alternative Baking Company: my personal non-chocolate cookie favorite), and sour worms (be careful, most have gelatin — pig parts).  There is key lime pie (and Publix offers fresh, made-daily mango key lime pie), cosmic brownies by Little Debbie (okay, that’s chocolate, but with colorful speckles on top), and chocolate dipped cheesecake minis (no sugar added, low-fat, gluten free; also found at Organic Harvest food market in Hoover).  So yes. 

We’re sugarcoated, sugardipped, sugarfilled, sugar FUELED.

Also in recent life —

I’ve been considering, lately, our living situation (apartment renters).  I’ve set a goal, and I’d like to be held accountable for it.  I want Chris and I to be able to put a down payment on a house next November (when our current lease expires and my 1 year cd is released).  I had saved up, over the period of 6 months, enough money for 2 years of community college.  However, I’m realizing now, I won’t need all of what I have stashed away — that being married and (un)wealthy qualifies Chris and I both for significant college discounts/ financial aid.  And so, with half of that money still going towards college, I question, to what greater cause could the other half go to than a place of our own? A REAL place of our own?

And so, to further this goal, I will be setting aside 40-50 dollars a month (or, $10-12.50 a week) to be put into savings.  By next November, that will accumulate into a sum of about $500 (and some months, I’m sure we’ll be able to afford to set aside more than $50 a month.. like birthday months – 2 a year, PLUS Bruster’s!).  So yes, that’s the goal – to buy our VERY own house THIS November.. this year.. 2011.  I’ll just have to share that idea with Chris (you know, now that the whole e-world has already been informed, the plan has been presented, and the standard has been raised).

–VERY jealous. 

My aunt and uncle, Micah and Amy, are heading down to Florida in afew weeks.. it promises a happy family reunion between them, my grandparents, parents, and sibling (Bobby, older brother).  Wish I could be there.. in the moment, in the pictures, in their memories.  Maybe six months from now things will be more stable, and a vacation will be more do-able.  Right now though I’m just sucking it up and keeping the event out of my mind.. (there’s no use dwelling on and dreaming of something you can’t be apart of).

Tonight after work, once Bruster has been fed and walked and Chris and I have had some time to unwind, we’ll head over to Zeke’s house (our associate pastor) for our weekly Bible study with the FNF group (there’s a different host and teacher every week).  Then, tomorrow, I’ll be assisting in teaching the e-teens class and, after church, Christopher and I will be heading over to Pastor Karl and Trudy’s house for lunch (we always enjoy spending time with them).  Sunday I’ll be working 8 hours at Cracker Barrel, Monday I’ll be working at Eco all day, Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be at Cracker Barrel (Tuesday is also the day we’ll be taking Bruster to his new vet for 12 weeks shots), Thursday and Friday are Eco days, all during the week I’ll be working on editing this newsletter and..

finally, Saturday will come around again.

I’m happy.  I’m learning to let go.. every day, God is teaching me to just let go – to surrender everything. Everytime I miss my mom (who lives far away), my dog (who passed away), my best friend (who forgot about me) or my old, comfortable life (that I willfully chose to leave)..

I don’t cry as much, or as hard –

as long, or as devastatedly

as I used to.

I’m so happy to be married to my best friend,

and I love that we’re able to go through these

hard times together.

-Aun Aqui

******* Original poem

“how I’m feeling, again” -ary

And it’s so hard to sleep

when you’re feeling this way

It’s like there’s no black at all

just a bright and dizzy gray

And it’s hard to dream

when you’re thinking of your pain

Of the hurt that you hide

(and hiding drives you insane)

But they don’t care at all

So don’t give them a word

Cause once you let them know

It means nothing anymore

Cause when it’s only you inside

they can’t tell you that it’s wrong

And when there’s something you can hide

hold on, hold on.  -Aun Aqui 12/29/2010 (last of the year)