March 31, 2005

I admit it, I love going to restaurants alone from time to time. It’s nice to sit, eat in peace, perhaps read or journal, and most importantly, eavesdrop on a few conversations. Today I ate Thai surrounded by tacky wooden buddhas, gold wall carvings and purple carpet. The busboy was Mexican and the rest of the staff seemed Thai. Sipping herbal tea and eating spicy food with chopsticks makes me all nostalgic for Asia. Nostalcia inspires me to write, as does envisioning the possibilities of the future. I hope the more life experience I garner to be nostalgic about, the more prolific my writing will become.

On another note, seated near me this afternoon were a middle-aged couple, seemingly business associates. They were chatting for most of the hour and a half I was there, or I should say, he was chatting. This man honestly talked non-stop about immigrant labor issues for a good hour. I hope the woman found it interesting, because otherwise she was in some major agony. I couldn’t see her face so I couldn’t really tell. Poor lady. I’m thankful to not be acquainted with anyone who talks that much. I used to work with someone who talked about mundane aspects of his personal life incessantly. Some days, at work, when it was just him and me and there wasn’t much to do, I wondered if job abandonment might be a better option than passing time listening to this guy.

I suppose I should be a better listener, but some people just try my patience. I don’t have a lot of patience though, so maybe I had better just work on myself.


cafe time

March 22, 2005

Today I decided to check out this nearby cafe I had heard about. The owner is the mother of a great new employee at the restaurant I manage. This girl, Emma, totally reminds me of this awesome friend of mine my last few years of college – Danielle – and when she told me she had helped her mom set up and open a restaurant a few years ago, I was intrigued. Then I looked up the place online and found it was a well-reviewed lunch spot right near the headquarters of Miller and a big Harley-Davidson plant.

I headed out to Highland Park Pies and Cafe and was greeted by the very friendly Maureen, who I soon found out was Emma’s mom. She was very outgoing and encouraged me to check out the restaurant, which she just referred to as “the house,” and indeed it was. Actually it’s a very unique place for Milwaukee–an old bungalow restored with ecletic decor featuring some fabulous local photography. The place had the buzz of a good community spot and Maureen frequently walked around to chat with customers. She’s the type of person who calls everyone “honey” in a really sweet way and clearly knows the faces, if not names, of most of her customers. I was impressed.

But enough of the restaurant review. Maureen came over to ask how everything was we started talking about how she had opened up the cafe and how risky and exciting and worthwhile it is to start your own business, or do whatever you really want to do. It was funny because lately I have been thinking more than normal about really doing something I will love in my life. I like what I do but I would love to open my own business, be my own boss, start something where I can set the standards and expectations. I would love to have a place that brings a neighborhood together like Maureen’s. There are other things I can see mysef doing too, but I have no patience for planning. I suck at saving money and without something to invest, I can’t think about leaving my little corporate world.

I need to learn to live better today in order to prepare for tomorrow.


March 22, 2005

nice wallpaper Posted by Hello

see above

March 22, 2005

This is probably the most amusing picture taken at my wedding reception in February. Don’t you love the decor behind us? And my freaky muscles? And Jenny’s expression?

life or something like it

March 21, 2005

I haven’t felt very inspired lately. I’ve been reading and painting (walls) and working and sleeping and eating and not feeling all that motivated to write. My boss was fired the other day, which confirmed that my new company is almost as crazy as the last place I worked for. Restaurants are, by definition, unstable, but I have seen some crazy stuff in just six months with my current employer. I guess I’m quickly becoming disillusioned with corporations. I like my job because of the people and I enjoy business but there is something really shady about a few executives making hundreds of thousands or millions a year on restaurants while paying all the people who actually do the work in the restaurants as close to minimum wage as they possibly can. Then there are us managers. They pay us as little as possible too and when they don’t want to pay us our proper bonuses they just indiscriminately raise the sales goals or begin failing us on our audits for things they have never mentioned before. It’s all great.

Well, I’m pretty cynical lately, which has lead to me thinking, again, about what to do with my life. I will probably do many things in my life, but here are a few things I would like to do:
1 – be a travel agent – free trips, helping people plan vacations, organization!
2 – be a writer – we’ve been over this one before – I would like to write non-fiction stories about things going on around the world, perhaps a memoir and then, maybe fiction
3 – run my own restaurant – this would definitely be ethnic food, perhaps Mexican or Chinese and it would definitely be both healthy and really good – I would also have the best staff and everyone would love working for me =)
4 – work in retail – I think this is a great job to have when you are furnishing a house – discounts – also, it’s like restaurants without the food aspect
5 – be an immigration lawyer – help lots of people that don’t have the resources or knowledge to deal with their situations here

Those are just a few of the more recent ones. Who knows what will really happen?

compromise, the corporate world and fox news

March 17, 2005

The email was among several that arrived Tuesday morning. After I checked my financials and recounted my inventory I went back and read it. It explained that our regional Qdoba company has a great opportunity for some free exposure on a local morning news program. Friday morning, live on Milwaukee’s Fox 6 Channel we get to promote our catering program as well as our new Waukesha location. Laura (surprise!) and Greg, you will have the chance to promote your stores and our company.

I laughed and read on to see if there was a question here or if I had been unwittingly volunteered to do this without consent. It was, indeed, this way. It was implied that if for some reason I couldn’t go on Friday then Roxy – the other manager at my store – could do it. Clearly unless I was out of town or had some serious stage fright I would have to do this.

Several people said it sounded like fun. Well, fun isn’t exactly how I would describe it. This is, indeed a small task, but for several reasons it was ironic that I was asked to go on TV to promote Qdoba Friday morning.

1) I have opened the past 8 days in a row without time off; Friday was my day to sleep in; unfortunately I have to get up at 5 am tomorrow to get to the store, get the food prepped for the show, and then go to the tv station.

2) I hate local television news. Really, I think it’s pathetic and in college I learned all sorts of reasons why that was statistically true – like people who watch only television news actually know less about the world than people who don’t watch any news at all. How is that possible. It’s all soundbytes and cheesy human interest stories and excuses to frighten the American public into irresponsible consumer consumption.

3) I hate FOX news. I mean, local Fox news is not as evil as, say, the Fox news network, but they are still related.

Seriously, how can I go on a Fox News show and promote Qdoba? I mean, what is Fox news doing letting people like us come on their news show and promote our product? That’s not news! Well, the way I am going to do this is just to do it. Like I said, I didn’t have a choice, my boss’ boss volunteered me for this, and it would look bad if I didn’t do it.

So, wish me luck early in the morning tomorrow.

dreaming and writing and dreaming of writing

March 10, 2005

Some days, like my friend Mary, I imagine a world where either my husband starts making at least $60,000 a year, I win the lottery or else I just figure out a way to not have a job most of the time. If that were to happen I would spend my time writing. Maybe I could make money writing, although I’m sure thousands of people ponder that every day. But the step from working full-time and thinking of writing and actually quitting a job and doing it seems like leaping off the side of a building praying you grow wings before you crash to your death.

Sometimes when I lay in bed and can’t fall asleep right away, or I have just fininshed a good novel and am thinking about how the author came up with the story, I imagine what my novel could be about. Sometimes in odd places I have moments of inspiration – some small tidbit of life that becomes poignant because of circumstance and setting. I imagine writing a version of my life or my husband’s life into a short story or a novel. But then I think I haven’t lived enough yet. But since it’s a novel, it can continue any way I like. But then, it wouldn’t be real, and creating stories that taste of reality seem to require a bit of life experience. If we got story ideas from tv and movies they would basically end perfectly, but I want to write about real life and real people’s lives.

Last night I layed in bed brainstorming pieces of my novel and then prayed I would remember some of what I was thinking the next day to write it down. This evening, I did, and so I wrote them down. I have been thinking of taking a creative writing class and I think I really will do it. I certainly have time, it’s just initiative to start up, get rolling. In the meantime, I keep dreaming.