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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tea at Tiffany's Tablescape

The fundraiser for my mothers' club this year was a tea party. Members could volunteer to be a table hostess and decorate their table. And, yes, it was a competition. Am I competitive? Yes. Can I do things half a**? No. Did I spend way too much time and money? Of course.

So, what did you do, you may ask? Well...I found a tree branch, trimmed it, and painted it silver. Found a nice bowl at Goodwill that would work. Using plaster of paris, I set the tree in the bowl. How did I get it to stand while it dried? I stood there for 40 minutes in my garage holding the branch upright until it dried. Am I crazy? Slightly. Once the plaster of paris was set, I decided that there was a bald spot, so I screwed in another branch. Then, I glued pieces of dangling sparkle gems to shower down upon the table.

Okay, am I done? Nooooo. I thought it needed something else, so I found some artifical cherry blossom limbs, cut the blossoms off, and adhered them here and there.

What else? Well, since it is the day before I may as well do some other things because I do have a whole day, right? So, I proceed to make pillow boxes out of tiffany blue paper. Then I cut four layers of flower petals out, curled them slightly, and added a little bling to the center. Assemble the box, add some candy, a ribbon, and attach the flower.

Hmmm, what else should I do? Oh, why not create a placecard with a little ribbon and bling, buy a rose, place in a silver julep cup. But, what will hold up the card? Hmm, get skewers and cut them down and paint them silver...yes, that'll work. Oh wait, you don't have too much to do. Make a program and menu, since I need a little more color and because I don't have enough to do. I download a picture from Breakfast at Tiffany's, print it out along with a title, cut it out, and use it for the cover with a little more ribbon and bling.

Now what, oh yeah, I still need to iron 12 satin seat covers. Joy, joy, joy. Did I ever tell you how much I despise ironing? I barely make it out of the house. All of this does not include the 5.5 millions trips to JoAnn Fabric, Michael's, and Hobby Lobby. Plus the online ordering of seat covers, julep cups, and chair sashes.

All of this = second place. Ah, second place, first runner up, almost. What does it mean in my mind, first loser. You know that my competitive nature does not allow for this, so I am already planning for next year. I already have my theme in mind, but I'm not telling.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jane of All Trades

I have been told by a few people throughout my life that I can do anything. I'm not talking about a pep talk or self-help book. What I mean is this...I have had people literally say, "You are one of those people that can do anything." I would have to agree or at least I think I can do anything. Unfortunately, that is my problem. I get bored with everything. I love the challenge of learning something new and being good at it, but then it bores me.

Do I know a little about a lot of things? Yes. Do I know a lot about some things? Yes. Have I had a lot of experience in many areas? Yes. I realized this one day when someone asked how many jobs I had had. I really started to think about it. There are so many times when I hear myself saying, "When I worked as a ___,..."

I thought I would give you a run down of all the jobs I have ever held both part-time and full-time.

1) McDonald's - my first job as a 16-year-old. Worked a lot and came home smelling like rotten milk from cleaning the shake and ice cream machines out.

2) Japanese Bakery - in high school at the old Gem's store. They had great pastries and I could practice my Japanese with all the bakers. My friend and I also attempted to teach one of the young bakers how to be more American.

3)Record Dept - in another Gem's store. Kevin, my co-worker and I would crazy glue quarters to the ground and watch people try to pick them up. The maintenance guy would always ruin it by using a putty knife to pry them off.

4) Mortuary - owned by my cousins and a great place to study between services during college. Through this I got to know all the guys that worked for the transport company. That's right, they picked up and delivered the bodies everywhere. The best part is when they would see me walking to my house from the bus stop, they'd give me a ride. I always checked to see if there were any back seat passengers.

5) Coffee Shop - located inside a bowling alley and famous for its oxtail soup. There was one grumpy cook that never ever smiled unless the other little cook would ask me out and I would reply with "I would rather die."

6) Hotel - with my B.A. in hand I go to work as a waitress at a hotel. I make a ton of life long friends there, but also spend all my money going out with them.

7) Private Canoe Club - waitress at a private club on the beach with canoe paddlers and volleyball players = bonus; uniform which consisted of candy striper like large vertical pink and white striped shirt with tan long gaucho shorts = not good. The best part is Tom Selleck was a member and would come in when he was in town. By the way, he is very pleasant and friendly.

9) Hotel - waitress in a karaoke bar. Got to work with one of the Ink Spots (old time singing group) as he was the host of the karaoke lounge.

10) Paralegal - so I finally get a real job and work as a paralegal to see if I would like to go to law school. I may have decided to do that if it hadn't been a thrilling insurance defense firm. Oh, then I got laid off after a year.

11) Tuxedo Store - Assistant Manager in a Tuxedo Shop. Fun job, great gay co-worker who always made it fun. Miss you Mike. Got to work with a friend from high school until he got fired. Saw an old boyfriend who was getting married and then he called me that night - what a jerk. I doubt he is still married.

12) Bank - Went back to school to get my education degree so I worked as a part-time teller with some real geniuses. It's nice when you work somewhere for two months and you are asked to train the other tellers, some that have been working full-time for years, on new procedures.

13) Farrington High School - student taught at Kaiser High School and then worked at Farrington as an English teacher. Broke up a gang fight in my first class on my first day. Broke up another gang fight in the hall a few weeks later. Great place to work.

14) Cantigny - gave tours in the mansion of Mr. McCormick as in Chicago Tribune. Worked with some great retirees. This is when I retired from teaching or, rather, I moved here and couldn't find any open teaching positions.

15) Univ of IL Extension - worked as a shelter educator in a homeless/domestic violence/sexual assault shelter in Elgin. Interesting job and flexible.

16) West Chicago Police Dept - part-timers always worked alone on weekends and holidays which meant you did paperwork, watched prisoners in the booking room, and helped people walking in. Memorable moments: guy walking in stabbed and saying he needed help. It wasn't life threatening, well, at least I didn't think so. I just called for an ambulance and an officer.

17) Hotel- worked as a catering assitant with some interesting people. My favorite story is when one manager hooked up with another and told me she had a guy over and her cat pissed on his coat. We had a feeling we knew who the "he" was, so My Copper who also worked there at the time, walked up to the guy and said, "(sniff, sniff) Dude, you smell like cat pee?" His reply, "How do you know about that?" My Copper says, "I didn't, but I do now."

18) Domestic Violence Shelter - worked as the human resource/office manager for about 5 years and then was asked to open a thrift store. Great experience setting up a store, not so fun running a store every day. I was saved by pregnancy and quit.

19) Hardest job ever - stay at home mom for 4 years...need I say more. I was totally underqualified for this and probably should've been fired.

20) Administrative Asst at 911 dispatch center - flexible hours, close to home.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Crazy Mexicans

When I first moved here, to the land where my husband was born and raised, and the first holiday season rolled around, I asked My Copper what his family usually did on this or that holiday. Family traditions, Mexican traditions, Illinois traditions, anything, anything, anything????

At Christmas growing up, we always did the same thing in my house. We opened gifts, got dressed, went to my grandparents' house, ate a huge breakfast, usually cooked by my uncles (It should have been a national holiday for this reason alone...they never cooked.), we opened our gifts there, played with some of our new toys, went home, got ready, went to my Great Aunt and Great Uncle's home, had dinner, and played games that my mother usually worked on. Oh, and we always had to bring a grab bag, but you couldn't buy something. You had to make it! We have some great talented family members and some not so talented ones. There was always the cute item made by the youngest members of the family and, of course, these were always stolen by their grandmothers. And, always, something that we all remember for years like the "thinker" man sitting on a toliet made out of nuts and bolts.

The point is, there was some sort of tradition. I knew what was going to happen. The times have changed and maybe the location is different, but they still do the same things back home. Here in Illinois, I feel like I am in limbo and we are not talking about trying to bend backward under a stick. We are talking about trying to bend backward to create traditions for my children.

In Hawaii, we have certain things that are done on certain holidays. Some of them are related to the island's culture and other things are carried over from Japanese traditions through my family. On New Year's Eve, my grandmother always made Okinawan pig's feet soup. Mmmm, it was sort of like Miso soup with veggies, small pieces of pork ribs, and piggy toes (literally). I never really ate the feet. Your first thought might be that I couldn't handle the thought of pig's feet being on a pig and, when they were still walking around, we all know what they were walking in. Yuck. No, the reason I didn't like them was because they are really fatty and blubbery and (choke) get the picture. New Year's Eve was spent preparing for the next day. Traditionally, you are not supposed to do work on New Year's Day. This meant that most of the cooking was done the night before and things just got heated up the next day when the entire clan would come over. On New Year's Day the food consisted of all sorts of dishes many of which meant certain things. There were items that were eaten for good luck, prosperity, fertility, etc.

So, back to my point, my kids have no traditions related to culture. Heck, they don't even know what culture they are especially as it relates to their Mexican heritage. My kids don't really think they are Mexican. My Little Guy looks like a clone of me and My Girl looks like a combo of both of us. So, one day My Girl and I go to the thrift store. For those of you that know me, you know that I love the thrill of the hunt at garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets. We find some cute items including a long night shirt for My Girl, brand new with tags. For any of you that have ever walked into a thrift store you all know that familiar is really hard to describe, but I can verify that it doesnt' smell like gardenias or Chanel No.5. Anyway, My Girl tries on the shirt when we get home and walks out of her room to say it fits. She then proceeds to pull the collar up over her nose and look at us (My Copper, My Little Guy, and I) and say, "Hmmm, this shirt smells like Mexican, but not like Daddy."

Of course, My Mexican Copper and I burst out laughing and My Little Guy begins yelling at his sister, "You Crazy Mexican." She says the same back to him. I say, "You're all crazy Mexicans." My Little Guy thought it was the funniest thing. Honestly, I don't think he had any clue what he was talking about. He called me a Crazy Mexican and I informed him that I was the only one in the room that was not and he said, "I'm not either."

He may be changing his name later in life or he may just figure out that he really is half Mexican.