Sparkling and bubbly Italian spritzer water: the throat’s “premier beverage” nomination (also – dog parking, sweater-dog, my orientation at Olive Garden, “food of Mexico,” The Final Snow, and “quality time”).

Friday, February 4th, 2011

(followed by updated entries on Monday the 7th and Thursday the 10th, both written in the present-tense)

It gives.

Other waters don’t give, like this water gives.

1.  It fizzes at you.

When you open your jug, carton, box or bottle of water – does it fizz at you? Does it welcome, acknowledge or greet you in any way what-so-ever?  NO? .. oh.  I’m sorry. 

Mine does.

2.  Do you find your water physically appealing?  You know.. attractive?  Does it bear fancy visuals — red stars, bold and blue characters, the awe-inspiring image of an Italian city building?

NO?  Really— it doesnt?

That surely sucks!  I mean..

mine does!

3.  Does your water engage your tongue and throat in the drinking experience in a fuller and deeper sort-of-way?  Do the carbonated bubbles pleasantly burn your insides, and does the water itself seem to taste.. tastier?  Sparklier?  More interesting, more desire-worthy?

No? No? Dude! Why aren’t you drinking

San Pellegrino’s Italian Sparkling Water? I mean like.. they sell 6-packs (I’m talking the fancy glass bottles) at Publix for 3.99.  Do the math.  Well, you might not be/ probably aren’t a teller like I am,

so allow me.

3.99/6.  That’s less than 70 cents a bottle.  Each glass bottle contains over 8 fluid ounces.  How much are you paying for your Aquafina?  Nestle Pure Life? 

Stop being so jank.

Get out there (I don’t care if it’s sunny, raining — sleeting, snowing or flaming) and buy yourself a glass bottle (or heck, a 6 pack!) of San Pellegrino’s Italian Sparkling Water today.     😀

Was I convincing? 

Forshizzle, wasn’t trying to make a comparison of waters — not claiming that one is “healthier” or “more delightful” than another (kind of, but on a personal and ignorant level..) just wrote this in a tease-you/playful kind-of-manner because I happen to enjoy San Pellegrino’s Sparkling Italian Water and feel that because of my strong allegiance and patronizing of the brand, I should get alittle “something something” in return.. so in hopes that this super-cool blog post catches their (the creators, producers and distributors of aforestated magic water) eye,

I’m your girl.

**

So this past Wednesday I sat down at a round table inside of Olive Garden (also Italian!.. anyways) for my first day of orientation.  It went very well; I felt very comfortable with the managers who spoke with me — they seemed approachable and abit more “flexible, bendable and accomodating” than what I had experienced at CB.  I also liked the atmosphere better.  While the “sense of urgency” common to the restaurant business was mightily present, everyone seemed courteous, laid back and helpful (this was during “peak hour” — 11-2 pm, lunch- or chow-time.)  We (me and a fellow trainee, Burdoch, who has been assigned the position of “grill cook”) signed papers and filled out forms.  We were also treated with a “genuine Italian dining experience.” 

(all proceeding pictures are mine,– taken by me)

 

Now.. as both a vegetarian and a non-alcoholic, this was sort of uncomfortable for me to address.  I felt like a jerk — “by the way, over the course of the next 6 days when you’re introducing me to the various menu entrees pictured/ featured/ offered on the menu and to the wine beverages that are to be scripted, you will have to explain to me – in great detail – exactly what the foods and drinks taste like, as I will not  allow the item even so much as to enter into my mouth, even if it were to be spitted out.”  So yeah.  I tried to mention it very casually and off-handedly.  (see below)

“Oh! By the way, I’m a vegetarian, and so I was wondering if I could have a little book that describes the taste of/ preparation method for all the entrees listed on the OG menu so that I can appropriately, efficiently and honestly explain the make-up of any dish to every guest — and also, since I am not familiar with wine, as I don’t drink it (“ya know..”), I was wondering if we will be covering, throughout my training, the pronunciations of different wine beverages?”

He looked at me.  “Yeaaaaah..” and I heard him whispher to his co-trainer, later on, that he’d be “having fun” with serving the “genuine Italian dining experience,” because “we have a vegetarian.”  Anyways, I was assured that I would be taught everything I needed to know “along the way” and, as for lunch, it went well.  I had a heaping bowl of salad (it’s the BEST part of the Olive Garden dining experience), a breadstick, a sampling of minestrone soup and a tasting of two pasta choices: fettucini alfredo (loaded with cheese-a parmeasan-a) and capellini pomodor–a (or does it end in -o? a simple selection, consisting of capellini pasta, tomato sauce, fresh basil and flakes of parsley).  It was good. 

I was given a tour of the “server alley” (the most terrifying thing in the WORLD until you get used to it).. picture a huge window, out of which trays bearing food stream out in almost rythmic procession, and in front of this large, metallic, open-window a lengthy space of tile floor, with a big cooler sitting in the immediate center of the alley, against a wall, composed of different compartments, some of these holding butters and jellies, some creamers.. others containing lemon wedges and orange slices.. yes, compartments housing big tubs of butter and small suffle cups of chow chow, tartar sauce, and apple butter.  (I’m speaking in terms of Cracker Barrel — but it’s the same deal here.. just, different foodstuffs in these space pockets).  But yeah — servers were running around, running into eachother, flying out the door with the trays and rushing back in with dirty dishes, glasses and soiled napkins, wearing expressions that read  “stressed-to-the-max.”

And that’s the life for me.

🙂

“Training: day one” ended after four and a half hours.  I consulted, immediately following, with two (**certified**) server trainers and we produced my schedule for the next week: training on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for two weeks — that means that on Mondays and Thursdays, after getting off from working at the credit union 8:30-5:30, I will rush home, change clothes, say “hi” to Chris and run back out the door so I can arrive promptly at Olive Garden

by 6 o clock,

whereat I will train each night

until 9-10 o clock.

Busy weeks ahead..

so I’m going to cherish this weekend.

AND the next few dinners I enjoy, because the space of 20 minutes does not afford enough time for eating, changing clothes and driving to my next work place.

Chris and I (good news) BOTH have Saturday AND Sunday off, which means that we will be able to spend a whole 48 hours with eachother.  This never happens, so we’re elated.  I mean.. now that I’m older and living like an “adult,” I can hardly believe that I used to live feeling so carefree all the time.  Vacations were a right, free time was a given, having fun was the goal and “feeling well-rested and full” were the only two things on my to-do list.  Being a little kid was great.. and I know that I would have appreciated it more, if I would of had some kind of intimation then as to what life would be like now,.. 15 years later.  Some kind of dream, thought, apprehension.  But no.  It was just what it was supposed to be..

and now, I find enjoyment in things other than dolls, bikes, scooters, movies and “playing pretend.”  Now, it’s more like.. groceries, toasters, brooms that Bruster leaves uneaten and a washer and dryer to use in the convenience of my own “home.” 

***

2/7/2011

As redundant as it sounds — I know I say it all the time and the phrase, statement, or WHATEVER is littered throughout all of my blog posts — it nevertheless BEARS repeating –

life

is

busy.

It’s Monday, and I’m “back at work.”  After closing this evening, I’ll report to my second job for further training (I don’t actually begin serving at Olive Garden until maybe two weeks from now.. there’s a lot to learn, apparently).  Chris and I spent a wonderful, beautiful two days together this weekend, and we recognized them as God’s gift to us.  He knew, even better than we did, that this upcoming week would be challenging and that we needed that special time together.  I’ll reflect on those days, hours and moments until we find something like them again, this NEXT weekend. 

“And how did you spend your two off days?” you ask.  Well, Saturday we went to church (of course).  It was typical.. I assisted in the E-teens class, there were hugs and “hellos,” “how is work” and “how is your puppy dog..”  the sermon was stirring, the music was moving, everyone looked lovely and we all smiled.  We had our monthly church breakfast and it was deliciousss! (where else can you find vegetarian friendly “sawmill gravy” to go with your biscuits?)

Then, after going home and eating lunch (around 1:00 pm), Chris and I returned to the church and let Bruster run around in the gym for alittle bit.  I really wanted him to be “outdoor explorer puppy dog” that day, and so I kept suggesting we take him for his first visit to the DOG park. 

“It’s right down the road,” I persisted.

Okay Rose,” Chris resigned.

So we took Woo!pet and I think he kind of enjoyed it.  There were other dogs there — a Black Lab, two medium sized (and evil) black dogs, a Beagle, a small Chihuahua/ Terrier mix (named “Lady”), a marmaduke dog (I don’t know the breed name, just that he looks like THAT dog — 4 feet high, drooley and red eyed), a Doberman (not to be confused with DOCHSOUND), an ugly Pit Bull, a Siberian Husky and others.   Bruster (the best looking pet by far) met, sniffed and ran with all of these.  Some of the dogs were jerks (like the ugly pit bull whose owner let him boss the other pets around), but most were friendly and happy.  The only event that put a ‘damper’ on things was Bruster falling into the little “mud pond” (it had been raining for two consecutive days prior to our visit and the stupid ugly PIT bull intimidated  Bruster and pushed him in.  I could just hear his sneering laughter as he and his two side-hicks ran off).  So, Bruster got all muddy, wet and gross (and LOVED it).  We brought him home and gave him a bath (he’s cooperative and calm, most of the time).  I remember watching Bruster climb over the tub  and dart outside of the bathroom, me having to chase after him with a towel and drying him quickly,.. mopping the bathroom floor with a large, pink towel while listening to Chris sigh and announce (to no one in particular) that “Maybe it’s not a good idea to get into situations where we have to bathe our dog on the Sabbath day.”

“mommy, I hate you right now.”

 

My adorable, grumpy, moody little Pharisee.  🙂  My angry little English man.  I love him to pieces, I really do.  He makes me happier than anyone else in the whole world, the smiles he inspires are always real and my anxiety, when I’m with him, almost ceases to exist.  He’s my best friend, and I trust him implicitly.

January 30th, we celebrated our 6 “month-a-versary.”  I came home after working all day at the credit union and before I was unable to lock the door to our apartment, Chris had opened it.  “Hiiii-” I began and he covered my eyes with his hands, drawing me into the house with his arm around my waist.  “You caaan’t look!” he sang, pulling me forwards and then to the left (I knew we were moving into the kitchen by the way carpet turned into linoleum — you can feel it, EVEN with shoes on).  I was laughing, playing along, fully aware that he had done or made or baked or bought something to surprise me and just couldn’t wait to reveal his doings.  After situating me however he felt was perfectly, he finally said “Okay.. LOOK!”

I opened my eyes and in front of me, on our little high-top kitchen table, lay my anniversary “gifts.”  He watched carefully as I transitioned from surprised to smiling. I walked over and began examining each little treasure.

“Awe Chris!  You got me tall socks?”
“Ohhh look — pink and red!  You’re so sweet, I love Hershey kisses!” (He bought *pink and red Hershey kisses,* in case you couldn’t infer that)

“Oh Chris! I love Goldfish (baked *whole grain snack crackers)! Wow, you got the biggest carton POSSIBLE!” (It’s like, huge, and my everyday “after lunch, back to work” snack.)

“Aweee, Chris.. flowers?  For me?”

The darling had stopped by Walmart and Publix for all of these little gifts, and he even made the flower arrangement himself (as well as bought the vase).  The flowers were little Roses, orange and red in color, and some sort of green flower peeked out from underneath all the others.  It looked beautiful, they smelled beautiful, it was beautiful – all of it.

“Thank you Chris! I loveayouuuuu!”

I gave him a big hug and told him that I had a surprise for him, too.. and that he couldn’t know what it was until AFTER dinner and that he was actually coming to pick it out with me.

That was it.

“Oh really? for me? What is it?  Where are we going? I mean, what could it be! I don’t need anything.. Rose, I already have a keyboard.. is it something for Bruster?  We just got an electric shaver last week.. Rose we don’t need any more kitchenware.. I dont even LIKE those..”

“CHRIS.  PLEASE.  You will find out soon enough.”

This went on and on.. he was dreadfully curious and I was just playing along. 

After dinner, we planned on going to The Cheesecake Factory for dessert.  However, knowing Christopher as well as I do, I fully anticipated that he would continue on as he had been, inquiring, begging to know, dismissing his own contributions, such and such.. so,

“Chris, how about we just go and get your gift BEFORE we go to The Cheesecake Factory?”

He agreed.. quickly.

I pulled onto Lorna and started driving towards the shopping center that Best Buy was located in.  It happened to be next door to Petsmart.

I’m an amazing actress.

“Rose.. are we going to – Petsmart?? Is that where my gift is?  Rose, you said it wasn’t for Bruster!” he was whining now.

Ready to annoy him, I played along.

“Well.. I mean, it’s not entirely for Bruster.”

A short silence.  “…what do you mean?”  I continued looking forward but felt his gaze turn towards me.

“I mean, he’s our dog.. and, if I DID get something for him, it would really be for BOTH of you, because what makes him happy makes you happy (right?).. NOT that that’s the surprise or anything.  I’m just saying.”  And I continued driving.

Now, he was upset.

Whaaaaat! Rose, ahhh!  Come on that’s not FAIR!  I got all of those things for you and I’m getting a DOG TOY? Another DOG BED? A BONE?  How on earth is that fair?”

“Chris!”  Now I got “defensive.”

“You’re hurting my feelings.. how isn’t that fair?  What do you mean?  I put a lot of effort into this.. I really thought you would be excited — I mean, why wouldn’t you want to get Bruster a toy?  He’s your dog.”  Guilt tripppp.

At this I looked over at him and he had a sad, surprised, whiny and depressed look on his face.  Poor baby! I thought.  I started pulling into the Petsmart parking lot (Best Buy was right next door — I planned on just having us walk over) and he argued “Look Rose.. they’re locking the doors.  They’re CLOSED.” 

Perfect! I thought.

“Aw! They are?” I paused for a moment, seeming to be thinking.

“Well,” I resumed driving and made a left turn, “we’ll just go here instead.”

At this his face lit up intelligently.  “Wait..”

“Yes.”

We laughed; he was actually really impressed by how well I was able to “play it off.”  I was taking him to Best Buy for him to pick out headphones.

Yes, headphones.  (we’re young and un-wealthy, so our anniversary gifts are simplistic and practical.)  He had mentioned about three months ago, while we were at Costco and in the electronics department, that he’d love to have a “real” pair of headphones.. “studio headphones,” he had called them.  I kept this thought in the back of my mind and while pondering on what I could get him for an anniversary gift, immediately it reappeared.  He was happy I remembered, but we ended up not getting headphones.  They were more expensive than I had guessed, he didn’t find any that he liked, and he said that rather than having a gift for himself, he’d like for us to save the money and use it when we really need it.  We walked out, hand in hand, and I drove us to The Cheesecake Factory. 

“That will be my gift,” he stated.  “You buying me dessert.”

And I did.  There were so many flavors, all of them appetizing, and after about ten minutes of deliberation, we had made our decision.  Chris chose Carmel White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake and I was sold on Brownie Sundae Cheesecake.   The only flaw:  I didn’t know that the cheesecake I had chosen had nuts in it.  This was tolerable.. I’m just not a nut-fan, on the whole.  Anyways, we enjoyed the evening spent together — the food, the fun, the company.  (For dinner, by the way, we had gone to Olive Garden.  Chris was more “in the mood” for Chinese, but he conceded, saying that this would be the “last time” I’d “enjoy eating there,” my favorite restaurant, as soon, after working there, I’ll grow to hate the place.  I hope that doesn’t happen.. but just in case, the ravioli was delightful and the salad, supreme.)

This past Sunday we took Bruster to Moss Rock Preserve.  It started off alittle rocky; Chris slipped and fell into the creek, getting his socks, shoes and pants wet.  I should also mention that it was cold outside. 

Chris went back to the car to change socks and took Bruster (and Bruster’s ball) with him.  Once he had trekked back to the spot where I was waiting, he remembered something.  “I forgot his ball,..”

“Ahh, Chris!”

“WHAT?”

“He loves his ball.. it won’t be the same without it.”  I pouted.

Yeah, it will.  He loves sticks, Rose.. watch!”  Chris proceeded to secure Bruster’s attention, wave a stick in front of his face, throw it, and we watched Bruster run after it.   “See?  He’s fine.  He’s a dog, Rose..”

Then, maybe five seconds later, I heard some kind of choking noise emanating from my dog.  “Chris!! He’s choking on the stick!”

I reached my hand into his mouth to yank it out and he bit me.  Unintentionally, I am certain, but nevertheless, he bit me, and it hurt.  I was also offended that my dog could unintentionally bite me.

I started crying, immediately.

Chris put his arms around me, in an effort to console me, and I kept crying. 
“Baby, it will be okay.. now, I can doctor up your hand like you’ve done for me so many times.”  He smiled, and I couldn’t help but smile back.  I stopped crying and we started (or, resumed) our hike.

“How is it that potentially great days

somehow end up sucking for us?” Chris asked.

**

Here’s a “we just got married; I’m a housewife!” funny.

Last week, I was doing laundary, and happened to throw Chris’s purple sweater into the wash with the other clothes (and if I had noticed it, I would have done the same thing, cause I just don’t know).  Anyways, the wash cycle finished, and so I loaded the wet mass into the dryer and put the timer on “90 minutes.”  I went about my business and didn’t really tend to the laundary any further until the next day.. and then, it wasn’t me – it was Chris.  I got home from work, and sometime shortly thereafter, Chris mentioned something.

“Oh yeah, Rose.  You ruined my purple sweater.”

Ruined his purple sweater? “What? What are you talking about, Chris?”

He presented it to me — it looked like a toddler’s sweater, having shrunk to hardly half it’s size! I couldn’t help but laugh.  “Chris, you KNOW I didn’t mean..”

“I know, Rose.. just remember – you never, ever, ever put 100% wool clothing into the dryer.”  (The next day, I related this fact to my mother: “Of courseee! Ohh, Rose.  I guess I never told you that.”)

“What are we going to do with it?” he asked, moments later.  “It could practically fit on Bruster,” I heard him muse to himself.

“Well, put it on him,” I offered.  “I’ll take a picture if you do.” I continued folding and hanging the clothes, listening to Chris walk into the livingroom to achieve the impossible.  Moments later, I heard laughing. 

“I can’t believe this is happening..” Chris laughed.

I walked in and found Bruster wearing the same purple sweater Woo!mommy had ruined.  We took pictures.  Here’s one of them.

Life is busy, life is beautiful –

moreso than I ever dreamed it would be.

Life is love, success, and mistakes –

patience, laughter and belief..

and I never want to leave,

and you’ll never see me leave.

-Aun Aqui

**Three more cool *coughcough* things**

Final update: 2/10/2011,

Thursday.

A.  It was maybe a week ago that I received an email from my friend, Carmen.  I’ve known her for about 6 or 7 years, and I say “known” in a more indirect than direct sort of way.  We attend the same church, I teach a class that her daughter attends, and I’ve always admired her, from “a distance,” as a beautiful, exceptionally intelligent, sweet, courteous and Godly woman.  We’ve never really spent one-on-one time (or any time at all) together outside of church.. as of yet, anyways.  Regardless, I’ll continue..

I received an email in which she stated three things: one, she had (presumably, two) tickets to a musical performance at the Alys Stevens theatre – two, she was unable to use them – three, she wanted to know if Chris and I could.

Are you kidding!  Yess!!!!  That’s what I wanted to gush.. but instead, I composed myself and typed in return (my fingers hardly able to contain their excitement) “Yes, absolutely.  That would be great.”

So, yes.  Towards the end of this month, on a late Saturday night, Chris and I will be attending a symphony – something I’ve always dreamed of and have never been able to experience before.   God is good.  🙂   He knew the two of us needed a nice, non-“french fries related” date, and he knew what we’d love the most.  Thank you, God.. and thank you, Carmen.

B.  Taqueria Mexico.  What is that.

We didn’t know either!  But, one night this week, Chris came home from Panera exhausted, famished and desirous of something “other than the usual.” 

“Okay,” I stated slowly, “like what?”  He didn’t know what exactly he wanted.. suggestions and mentionings of Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and American all excited the same response: “whatever, I don’t care.”  So, I took the liberty of deciding for us.  I slipped into the driver’s seat and pulled out of our apartment complex.  “How about this,” I began, and told him about this “little Mexican restaurant” nestled inside the plaza I work at.  “A member walked into the credit union the other day and asked all of us if we had eaten there before.. he said that the food was great and inexpensive.  I never see any cars in front of the place — so I’m pretty sure it won’t be busy.. We should try it, Chris!” I tried to make it sound interesting and, apparently, it worked.  He was intrigued, and seemed a little more alive than before.  “Okay!  Yeah, that sounds good!” Finally.. some enthusiasm.

So we went and it really was excellent – for serious, the best mexican restaurant I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at.  It was reasonably priced, the service was efficient, and the food was perfect.  You know the feeling — leaving a restaurant sort of nauseated,  stuffed and somehow dissatisfied? Not here.  The food just tasted healthier; the entree wasn’t all slushy and oily — the colors of the food were vibrant, and the different items maintained an appearance of  “perfection.”  We ordered our meal in Spanish and spoke in the said language 95% of the time.  It was a great experience, a fun date, and he left raving about how awesome the meal was. 

Success.

C.  Snow.. ahgain!

It started snowing at about 6 pm last night, and continued until early this afternoon.  We actually saw afew inches stick — to trees, leaves, pine cones, cars, roofs, the ground.. it was gorgeous – and it still IS; the snow hasn’t entirely melted away yet.  It looked the prettiest last night.  Chris and I were driving to Costco and Target for groceries, it was dark, and the snow streamed from the sky as quickly and fluidly as salt pours from a shaker.  It almost felt like we were in a blizzard (born and raised in the south).  Because of Alabama’s “snowmania,” one of Chris’s early morning (6 am) catering orders were cancelled, so he was able to stay home alittle longer and sleep in later today.  I cooked a hearty breakfast of fruit-and-nut packed oatmeal for us and sent him on his way with a “goodbye, I love you.”  I hate when he leaves.

Anyways, I walked Bruster out into the white-powdered wonder-world and he had afew “spazz attacks.”  (a spazz attack is when Bruster gets overly excited — his eyes go crazy, his body jerks and he bounds instead of walking and running.  It’s intense and terrifying).  He enjoyed himself.  Then, later on, I took good old Rebellious out of her dusty, cobwebbed camera bag (Rebellious is my Canon XS) and took afew shots — nothing mentionworthy, really.. just wanted to capture and remember how white and pretty and perfect everything looked.  I know it won’t last long.

I finally updated my Facebook “info” page for the first time in like.. 4 years.  It now reads, and I will close with it:

I’m nineteen and married.
I’m always, in varying degrees, touched with morbidity and sadness,
and I find great joy in living every part —

beautiful and horrendous, heart-breaking
and breath-taking —

of life.
I’ve been through a lot, and it has changed me in ways I can’t really describe.
I’ve let go of a lot of people and things,
and I’ve had to cope with a lot of people and things letting go of, leaving, rejecting and, beautifully and painfully, releasing me.

God is the rock onto which I’ve broken
and love is the dream that keeps me going.
God is the rock onto which I’ll keep breaking
and love is the dream I refuse forsaking.

I write, compose, and play.
I’m a nineteen-year-old Christian girl
who “always gets her way..”

if only in my salvaging and stories.

-Aun Aqui