The Necessities of Life

Sorry, mom, but this post isn’t very lady like.  Some of you may know that my tummy follows suit with my brain and is all over the place chaotic.  In layman’s terms, the little movers in my intestine don’t know which is up and which is down, so it likes to move my food around forwards and backwards.  Basically, what that means to me is I try not to eat a lot of junk food or fried food that hurts my tummy, I take medicine every day for it, and I have seen the bathroom of nearly every location I have been since I was 17 years old.  This has made me an expert on all things loo.

George Washington, as I found out this past week while visiting Mount Vernon, called his The Necessity.  Not to be confused with Fort Necessity, which was the location of George Washington’s only military surrender.  Gastric surrender is not the same as military surrender.  How inconvenient that it was so far from the house!  I mean, I have seen out-houses before, but I guess after walking through Mount Vernon with all the “modern conveniences” that it had for its day, imported carpets, rugs and brightly painted walls trimmed with hand painted faux mahogany pine, I was forced to think how terrible it would be to make a 3 AM potty run in January.  The President’s Potty was definitely not up to my standards.

Then there are the oddities of “modern” toilets.  In the Portland Oregon Airport and also the Oregon Convention Center, they have green handled toilets with some directions to pull up for “light duty” or push down for “heavy duty.”  While I understand the water conservation aspect, the light duty flush sort of freaks me out.  What if it doesn’t really get all of the previous person’s leftovers out of the water?  I don’t want to go to the bathroom in someone else’s dirty water!  I always use the heavy duty flush, even though I know it is socially irresponsible.  It makes me feel a little guilty, but I refuse to let a toilet make me feel too badly about myself.  The other modern inconvenient water closet feature is the automatic flushing toilet.  There’s the overzealous ones that won’t even let you put down a seat cover without quickly whisking it away or its opposite lazy bum version that waits until long after you leave the stall to kindly remove your deposit.  However, I think the worst part about the auto-flushers is that there is no way to courtesy flush.  If you are forced to make an unpleasant aroma, it makes it much more embarrassing when you can’t flush it away before it has too much air time.

Now a modern potty I can totally get behind is the airplane potty.  Sure, it’s a little cramped and creepy to think about where everything goes when you are done, but I am quite a fan of the fact that it sucks and flushes everything out so effectively, including any lingering stink.  I’m also quite keen on some of the newer models of “traditional” thrones that are pressurized to remove everything quickly rather than the whole gross swirl and drop.

I can tell you what Johns are the best to stop for, and the ones where you would be better off stopping on the side of a freeway during rush hour than going in to.  Here’s a run-down.  Circle C in Nephi is always filthy, but they have automatic toilets, sinks, paper towel dispensers, and no door, which means no nasty doorknob, so you can leave almost completely germ free.  My favorite bathrooms are at Little America or Grand America because you have your own little marble palace of solace for your business.  I also quite like the bathroom outside of the gate to Disneyland.  Nobody ever uses it, and it’s HUGE!  So clean, so cute, and also likely to be private.  Plus, the honeycomb tile on the floor is fun to make patterns with in your head while you’re otherwise indisposed.  Never use a department store bathroom unless it is Nordstrom’s.  For some reason, they always smell bad and have terrible, yellow lighting.  If you have to ask for a key to use the bathroom, it isn’t because the bathroom is nice.  It actually means that they never clean it, and the seat is guaranteed to be freezing because they don’t heat that space of the building.  Try not to use church bathrooms, either, because there is always the smell of poopy diapers and your hands will smell like stinky church soap for days.  Dyson hand blowers are the best and the Mitsubishi knock off takes just as long to dry your hands as regular hand dryers.  Oh, and studies show that the stall LEAST used is the first one, so always try to nab it.

Now you’re privy to my privy knowledge.  Here’s to great CoComodes in your future!


Why Audrey was smarter than Marilyn

He may have gone to Jared, but She had breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Within the past year, I have started a new tradition for myself.  It is buying myself jewelry.  Not just cutesy, trendy pieces, but classic pieces that can be passed down to my children someday (or my sister’s little baby blueberry, since that’s the closest thing I currently have as an heir to my CoCo-ness).  Don’t get me wrong, I do love myself a big, gaudy fashion piece, but those end up being well loved for a short time, and then usually break or go out of style within a year.  I’m sure somewhere there is someone groaning at the fact that I am spending my money on baubles instead of investing it in something more serious, but these are emotional investments that are pretty and I love them.

It all started with a set of pearl earrings.   They were a gift with a major emotional investment.  I will spare you the drama of my first real pearl earrings, but to show you a bit of what went down, the first time I received them was two years before I actually was able to keep them.  Lots of tears went in to getting those babies!  Once I had them for keeps, I loved them!  Nothing makes you feel more like a lady than a set of pearl earrings.  One day, I took them off and left them in my bathroom.  [Side note: For those of you who don’t know, I live with one of my good friends who has been raising her niece.  She’s twelve and comes with everything you would expect from a twelve year old girl with a side of extra sass.  I really would take any drama a 12 year old can dish out any day than deal with drama of living with someone closer to my age, and her aunt and I never have drama, so this is actually a pretty decent set up, and most days are really fun.  I know I don’t like living alone, and I can’t think of any other friends I would rather be living with.  Plus, I kind of like the fact that our neighbors are freaked out by the weird “lesbian” couple next door… Because we both like guys… but I digress]  Well, little girl cleaned the bathroom the following day and that was the last time I saw one of those pearls.  I don’t know if it went down the sink, in the trash or vacuum, but I tore that bathroom apart.  It was gone.  I just had one little lonely pearl. It broke my heart a bit to lose it, but at the same time, it brought me an odd sense of closure to the drama that came with the actual obtaining of the pearls.

So, obviously, when I went to Hawaii last year, #1 on my list was to open up an oyster and get a pearl for my lonely pearl I had lost.  Well, that didn’t pan out quite as I had planned.  Opening pearls is an exceptionally magical experience, and I know I totally fell deep into the tourist trap, but I loved it!  Hello!  You greet them into the world with a great big “ALOHA” and they have little belly buttons!  I opened several oysters and had two necklaces and a double pearl ring made and bought myself a set of earrings that were bigger than my original pearls (I also left with a very cute Hawaiian’s number.  Gotta love that Hawaiian men go for something they like when they see it!).  These pearls made me so much happier than the first set.  For one, the whole experience around buying them, but I realized I get a special high when I buy myself things that many women expect men to buy them.  It’s liberating!

As a continuation of my pearl high, my parents bought me a beautiful full strand of pearls for Christmas that came with another set of pearl earrings that matched.  I was really sick on Christmas day this year, so I honestly can’t tell you if I was as excited about getting this strand from my parents as I was about my Hawaiian pearls.  I basically opened them up, smiled, and went back to bed to watch Gossip Girl and sleep the rest of the day.  I do love wearing them, though, and appropriate for the show I watched almost immediately after receiving them, a little Blair Waldorf comes out of me every time I wear my strand of pearls.  In a good way, of course.

My newest addition is my right hand ring from none other than Tiffany’s.  I have wanted a right hand ring since the 2008 marketing campaign by De Beers and The Diamond Trading Company that told women of the world to raise their right hand.  I loved the idea of women buying  a ring to put on their right hand to show what they have accomplished themselves.  Plus, should I ever receive a left-hand ring, I definitely won’t be expecting it to come from Tiffany’s.  Their engagement rings are enormously overpriced.  I am pretty simple in my style, and I didn’t want a ring that would detract.  I love rose gold and wanted just a simple band.  When I was trying rings on, they sold me on a romanticized story of their 175 anniversary metal called Rubedo.  It looks like rose gold, but is a blend of gold, copper, and silver.  Apparently, Charles Lewis Tiffany was some sort of metal innovator, so they wanted to make an alloy in honor of him for the anniversary.  There is a simple brand stamp, along with the year 1837 and Tiffany’s signature.  Perfect for me!  Plus, the high when walking out of that store with my very own blue box tied with a white bow was exhilarating.  Yes, to all cynical marketers, I did fall in to every trap that was set from the 2008 campaign to the white bow, but you can’t take away that feeling.

I’m already plotting my next gift to me.  I’m obsessed with lockets, and I am quite certain it will be in that category.  If I can afford it by then, a Charles Green locket.  Regardless, I love this new little tradition of gifting to myself and I fully recommend it!  It is fabulous!  Even if you have to pull an Audrey and go stare in the window of Tiffany’s every day until you can afford it (even if all you can ever afford is just getting your cracker jack ring engraved), it’s a better feeling than having different men throw diamonds at you simply because you told them to, like Marilyn.  Don’t forget, one of them died tragically, and the other lived a long, classy life!


Mind Your Manners

I work a few nights a week at California Pizza Kitchen.  I quite enjoy the extra cash and the knowledge that I get to go home each day with my money, instead of waiting every two weeks for a paycheck which requires a bank trip.  I have fun most days, plus, it keeps me busy, which is good for me.  While I can say I am far from the perfect server, and it is definitely not my chosen career path (hence why I have two other “day” jobs), serving has some major challenges.  The biggest challenge is the customers.  Now, I know most of you probably don’t even realize how you may be making your server’s life more difficult, so I am just going to give you all some nice little dining out tips, so you aren’t that customer.

1- Tipping is NOT optional at a sit down dining establishment.  This may be a surprise to you, but servers in all but a small handful of states get an hourly wage of $2.13 an hour.  The lovely federal and state governments have decided that “tipped” employees can make that low of an hourly wage because their tips will make up for it.  What is more, if you look around and notice that there are hosts, bartenders, and bussers in the restaurant as well, your server actually has to tip them at the end of the night for their help (some restaurants even tip share with the cooks).  When you don’t tip your server, your server ends up paying for the opportunity to serve you, because regardless of whether you tip them or not, they have to tip the hosts and bussers.  How many of you have to pay your coworkers?  Ya, not many… Be warned.  Servers memorize the faces of the people who don’t tip and tell each other when they see you.  You may get stellar service the first time you go to a restaurant, but you won’t ever again after that.

2- Tip your server 18% minimum, that being 18% of the bill’s total pre-tax.  Yep, that is the new minimum.  Because your server is tipping out a good portion of the money you pay them, your tip dissipates pretty quickly.  If you want your server to see any of it, tip 18%.  20% is for good service.  20%+ if it was exceptional.  If your server really is a cracked up idiot, tip 15%.  They really won’t see that money after tip out, but they didn’t lose money for showing up to work.  Oh, and don’t rely on that $2.13 an hour to help cover your server’s time.  It is eaten up by taxes and you will be hard pressed to find a server who ever actually sees a paycheck.  If you drink, NEVER tip less than 20%, as your server is also going to share their tip with the bartender.  Don’t punish the bartender for anything you don’t like about your server.

3- Be kind to your server.  Your server is your advocate with the kitchen.  They tell them what to make you with any modifications you made and also look at your food before taking it out to make sure it is what you ordered.  Don’t go pissing them off.  Snapping at your server is rude.  Don’t treat them like they are stupid.  Plenty of smart, educated people find themselves serving at some point.  If they come to your table to take your order, listen to them.  If they ask you what to you want to drink, answer, don’t stare blankly and test their mind reading skills.  If they have hot plates in their hand and have forgotten who has what and have to ask, listen and respond when they say the name of the dish you ordered.  On that same note, if your food took a long time, it is probably not the server’s fault.  The server is not cooking your food.  Don’t give them attitude if it takes too long.  If it took forever and your food came out cold, it probably is their fault because it sat in the kitchen long after it was cooked, in which case, talk to a manager.  Really, if there is a problem, USE YOUR WORDS.  Nobody can help you if you don’t say something.  There’s no reason for you to be mad, and most restaurants have policies to take care of you.

4- If you are a camel, let your server know and they can bring you more than one drink at a time.  Seriously.  Some people suck down soda like it is Fat Tuesday.  I don’t know how or why, but if you do this, don’t get annoyed if your drink sits empty for 10 seconds.  Your server has other people to attend to and can’t run to your need every time you drink your soda at warp speed.

5- Do not stay past closing time.  Your server wants to go home at some point.  Just don’t do it.  Similarly, don’t “camp” at your table.  You are taking away money from your server, because another table could come and eat and tip.  If you are going to sit for hours, tip accordingly.  You’re not entitled to sit there.

6- Servers don’t write the menus.  Don’t give them attitude if you don’t like something that changed or there is a lack of something you consider a necessity (french fries and Dr. Pepper are two things I get attitude for the most).  You picked where you ate.  Deal with it.

7- Be aware that there are other diners.  You may not think this affects your server, but it does.  If you are loud and obnoxious, you are ruining the experience of the person at the table next to you, who will likely take it out on your server.  Also, how many times has a server come to your table asking if you were ready to order, and you say yes, meanwhile you are not and you take 10 minutes of their time while you deliberate?  That is definitely not cool.  Someone at the table next to you is getting pretty irate because they want to be cashed out and you are holding the server hostage and there goes their tip.  If you’re not ready, say so.  They’re not going anywhere.  They will come back for you.  Oh, and if you have kids, keep them in their seats and take them to the foyer or outside if they are crying. Non-parent diners get very annoyed by rowdy kids.

8- Don’t speak for the table, Ex: “We all want water.”  It is annoying, unless you are a parent.  In which case, please by all means speak for your shy child.  I don’t have time for you to give them a pep talk.  Just tell me what they want and teach them bravery elsewhere.

9- If you are in a hurry, ask your server for what food takes the least amount of time.  Don’t show up on a busy night and expect to have your food at McDonald’s speed when it has to have time to cook.  If you are in a hurry, order it to go or get something that your server says will take less time to prepare.  You are the person who didn’t plan accordingly.  Don’t get mad if the restaurant can’t accommodate your schedule.  Oh, and if you do end up taking your food to go or going to the “Take Out” counter, you still need to tip.

10- Don’t take pens.  I don’t care how nice the pen is.  It isn’t yours.  That is stealing.

That feels good to get off my chest.  Even if I educated just ONE solitary soul, I have helped a server somewhere.  And that is worth my share of good server karma!

The Big Qs

So I know I talk about being single a lot, but that is my life, and my lifestyle at the moment, so deal.  As a single person, there are several questions I get asked a LOT.  For whatever reason, people feel like they can ask single people completely personal questions that really aren’t any of their business.  Whether it’s “So, are you dating anyone?”  “Why aren’t you married yet?” or “How often do you date?”, they are all quite personal questions with loaded answers, and frankly, I really don’t like answering them.  So, to hopefully avoid  having to field these questions, I’m going to answer once, bluntly and honestly, and you can know the answer.

First, though I am not not bitter, I had my heart broken terribly.  As much as I hate admitting it, I am still quite gun shy.  Some of you met the guy, most of you didn’t, and I really don’t think any of my “people” actually knew him because we rarely spent time with other people while together.  We were young, we were dramatic, and we were Britney and Kevin style chaotic.  The reasons that we were definitely not right together are completely obvious to me, but we did deeply love each other.  Some days I think about him and still don’t know whether to hate him or miss him (although I usually choose to hate him, because he’s married, so missing him is not really a productive activity).  I can’t overemphasize how much it bothers me that it still stings.  I know it shouldn’t, but it does, and it makes me come off as emotionally aloof.  I definitely would love to replace the bad memories with good memories with someone new, but the aloofness doesn’t really help that.  I’m working on it.

Secondly, if you haven’t been out in the single world lately, it’s not pretty.  Well, the female side is.  You can hardly throw a stone without hitting a beautiful, intelligent, woman who has herself well figured out.  It never ceases to amaze me how many wonderful women there are out there.  While it would be easy to be blind with envy, you really can’t hate them, because most of these women are also so nice!  The other side, the men, well…  I’m not saying there are no good guys out there.  I pray every day that there are!  I do have some single guy friends that are really great, but we don’t have a love connection (and single person + single person does not always = love connection.  This is a surprise to some of you, I know).  I’m saying that a lot of guys leave me singing, “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?”  They take longer primping than I do, they don’t have the guts to ask for numbers, they flit from pretty flower to pretty flower like a shallow little bird, and are constantly looking for a perfect flower that doesn’t exist.  Don’t tell me it is because of women’s liberation, either.  If they really believed that, they wouldn’t be turned off by a girl asking them out, which they are.  They still want the hunt.  They want the hunt for the trophy that doesn’t exist, leaving a trail of bright pretty things behind them who have value “beyond rubies,” yet were written off like dirt clods.  It’s aggravating.  Why would I want to commit myself to someone who worries about how resilient my body would be after children over whether or not I would be a decent mother and companion?  The good guys are scarce.  I’m just waiting for one that I am attracted to who can also carry on a conversation without looking to see if there is someone hotter than me behind me.  Call me crazy.

So that basically covers it.  #1, still healing heart that makes me leery and#2 lack of good options.  So next time you ask me why I am single or when I’m going to get married, kindly think twice unless you have a solution for my two reasons.  If you know any nice good guys, by all means, send them my way.  I can’t guarantee that we will love each other, but I’ll appreciate meeting them, and will happily introduce them to any wonderful girls I know who might fit better.  If you are a single guy reading this, learn how to court a girl.  I’ll happily help you!  In the meantime, I will continue to be happily single until the next time I get asked the questions again.