food, work & employment

Zen and the Art of Waitressing . . .

The following introduction story brought to you by Rob Breszny, whose horoscopes are fascinating, inspired, highly crafted and dead on and whose book The Televisionary Oracle is a must read for fun and transformation.

The scene: a mother and eight-year-old daughter at a restaurant. Peering earnestly at the waitress, the girl says, “I want a hot dog, French fries, and Coke.”

The mother doesn’t acknowledge this declaration. “My daughter will have the bean salad, plain yogurt, and grapefruit juice,” she asserts.

Turning to the girl, the waitress asks, “Do you want ketchup with it?”

The girl beams at the waitress and muses to herself, “She thinks I’m real.”

The moral of the story: Make sure that you hang out as much as possible with people like the waitress.

Yes – i am a waitress. i have been doing it since i was 19, this means i have been doing it for 13 years. i must actually like it or else i wouldn’t choose to do what can sometimes be unrewarding and demeaning, but then also make you feel like you’ve given someone great pleasure, made new contacts, taught something new and helped people to truly enjoy the chef’s and winemaker’s art. and boy – the conversations and situations i overhear at dinner when you think your waitress is not listening . . .

i do more than just schlep food though – i manage the front of the house in a restaurant called The Wild Orchid Café (people think that sounds like i am a dancer at a gentleman’s club) i am also supposedly titled as the “wine program director,” which is a fancy way of saying i sit around with wine representatives from various distributors and they sell me wine which i do or do not add to my list which i then compile and update regularly. must be doing something right as our restaurant was acknowledged by Wine Spectator with an Award of Excellence. it’s a fine job – i eat well, i drink plenty of wonderful things, i make good money and it allows me flexibility for travel and education.

i ran across a terrific site called Bitter Waitress, which cracked me up and gave me a lot of industry items to laugh at. Another more esoteric read into the business is Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain who describes the culinary trenches as a team effort made up of “wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts, and psychopaths,” who are in all likelihood pierced or tattooed and incapable of uttering a sentence without an expletive or a foreign phrase.

and then there’s me.  or something. the struggling student/artist/life enthusiast type. we are abundant in the industry as well. but don’t let that fool you: i’m one of the last true vulgarians. i relish in my inventive usage of expletives. piss me off sometime, or leave me a bad tip, or just be around when something or someone tiresome or irritating happens. i have a fine arsenal of words. i’m a very creative little sprite, tart like lemon and lime my pretties.

on a side note and here’s my question . . . you may have dined at the finest establisments and then, you have had breakfast at all hours at Denny’s and your assortment of small greasy spoons.

but tell me . . .

what weird food request, habit or combination begs your onlookers or waitress to express confusion or revulsion, whether at home or in public?

personally i like cream cheese, cranberry sauce and turkey or chicken on sandwich bread.

i also like the occasionally pile of Doritos directly smashed into a bologna sandwich with Miracle whip, making for a crunchy textured treat.

oh – and the one that confounded Zoey was my peanut butter AND syrup on pancakes or waffles.

i request warm to hot water whenever possible because i hate having my face butted up against ice cubes, it’s better for metabolic processing and it makes it much easier to drink.

education, family, nature, psychology, travel

Diamond Life

some days after my vacation (and still i would say . . .) adjusting to previous modes of reality was a dull and joyless task. i still find myself researching and reading about some of the creatures i saw and took pictures of while there. for instance, the smallest lizard in the world is a gecko indigenous to Virgin Gorda called Sphaerodactylus Parthenopion. i also took pictures of several birds i’d never seen before.

but then, i have returned to school, in Summer if you can believe i’m up for that kind of self-abuse. but it’s two classes, a Statistical Methods for Psychology and an Adulthood and Aging course. Numbers and growing old. Two things most people can barely manage and often, avoid. well, it was time i tackled the rough stuff. little by little, coming back to my life as i knew it, facets are moving in and out of focus: past, present and future creating and re-creating new visions for me.

on June 14th Zoey, a friend i’ve known for a few years is moving to Maryland where i am. i am busy making arrangements for her so the adjustment will be a comfortable one. it’s strange to think the man i met 7 years ago came to me via this glowing box. as she did. as many interesting friends and acquaintances have. as plane and concert tickets do. as books and music have. as bills do. as this place did. so much dependence on this magnetic, metallic, wire bound piece of furniture. so many words and images and impressions and memories tied up in it and yet – i missed it not while i was gone in the islands. her moving here is the end of an era in some ways. less chatting, more real time together. i wonder if she’ll miss getting my silly packages in the mail. distance is one thing – personality surrounded by flesh is quite another.

3 days ago i came across the cocoon of a Tiger Moth, i know this because the last shed of the caterpillar was still attached to the end of the pupa. i have it in a terrarium with a stick bent at an angle so that it may emerge, crawl up, hang upside down and from its body, pump fluid into its wings until they inflate, then i will let it go into the night. it will be born without mouth parts and all of its energy and food will have been stored up from all the eating it did as a fuzzy black caterpillar. its main impetus is to make more of itself, then in a week, perhaps two, to mate with many if it is male, and to lay eggs if it is female and then, to die.

late last night the cats chased mosquito hawks and beige moths around the nite lights in the kitchen. this morning the red-eyed cicada bloom howled and chirred in a deafening blur as i drove through the woods. this evening a dark field blanketed with fireflies winked like a billion stars, so many, it was a shimmering field of diamonds waiting to be found and gathered up. all of them looking for mates, all of them trying to be brighter than the next. early this new morning, a Luna Moth appeared, wheeling in dizzied circles toward the porch light, dashing itself into the pebbled driveway, flapping like a broken-winged bird in and out and under the ivy near the garden. ghostly, flailing but seemingly tireless. circles and circles and circles.

all of us waiting for a place to land, for our our body to break and our wings to push out, for our life to shine – or wink out at dawn.


Ahoy Carina!

Whew. i have been steeping my thoughts about this vacation just past and have been trying to absorb, or more, digest all that I have experienced. i have decided that here and now, i will not bore you with my log or itinerary of all the places we visited. We sailed daily, land was always in sight and there was always something incredible to see.

Instead, here are some memories and reflections i gathered from being in the British Virgin Islands:

  • There is no need for an alarm clock or a watch for that matter. No matter how many times you look at the barometer and despite how familiar and round its shape, it will never tell you what time it is.
  • Your days are set by a slow, natural rhythm that begins with the daily 7 am rain shower pelting you gently in the face as you dream. This will start you awake and begin the fire drill of closing cabin hatches. Then, you cook breakfast. Apply sunscreen. Secure items. Set sail. Snack all the way there. Moor, anchor or catch a slip in a large harbor. Prepare Lunch. Apply more sunscreen. Take a dinghy out to snorkel, shop, or take photos on the nearby island. Come back to the boat. Shower. Apply more sunscreen just in case. Prepare Dinner or have it on the nearby island. Commence drinking. Listen to music, tell stories and laugh late into the nite. Peel off your swimwear, and linen. Sleep. Wait for the punctuating 7 am rain. Repeat this for 8 glorious days, and increase the level of consumption and imbibement as the days continue.
  • Brain Coral are beautiful and remind us very much of ourselves and our potential. Squirrelfish are cute and red and shiny with big eyes. A school of squid will ink when startled under water which will subsequently make you giggle into your snorkel and elbow your neighboring swimmer. Female Parrotfish are just as lovely and shiny as their male counterparts. Turtles can swim faster than you, but they are still a joy to follow after.
  • Scraping french fries, coleslaw and a half eaten cheeseburger off the dock of a floating restaurant will conjure a heavy flock of Laughing Gulls and a feeding frenzy of fish. Big Fish. And fish eat chips. Oh . . . and Barracuda eat cheeseburgers. Whole.
  • When dining out, cats and dogs will dine with you tableside or in your lap. Just like at home. Go to these wonderful and wise places where for a short spell, you can stop missing your pets.
  • All fans installed on a boat in the cabins are soft and plastic so that you may not be struck in the head when lurching about or on the hand when reaching blindly in the dark. Once the proper amount of grog (with Pusser’s Rum) has been drunk (that is to say, * ambicubus is drunk) one is brave enough to stop the blades with one’s tongue. We have video of this magnificent feat.
  • Expect to lose one or more items to Davy Jones’ Locker. Zoey watched helplessly as a pair of her blue jeans plinked off the railing and sailed off into the sunset, clothespins and all. i personally deep-sixed my favorite sunglasses.
  • i have never jumped off a small boat and swam ashore to a beach. i have never done it while toting a dry box camera case by pushing it in front of me. i may never do it again, without the aid of swim fins.
  • There is no such thing as too much mango. in the BVIs, i landed in my imagined culinary paradise. Mango chutney, chicken wrapped with mango, conch fritters and spicy mango dipping sauce, mango and guava juice drink, mango ice cream, mango daiquiris. Mango. Large, lovely, unadulterated, skinned and ready to eat. Mmmmmm. Mango.
  • As with any “foreign” place, cab rides are exciting to the point of terrifying. You will laugh about it later, as you always do, after having narrowly escaped harm.
  • There are small travesties even in the best possible circumstances – PMS and alcohol is a dangerous cocktail. In close quarters, regrettable things can and will be said, beautiful surroundings notwithstanding. User beware and by all means, behave. Apologize in the morning with a stack of happy, fluffy cloud-like pancakes.
  • You will learn much about yourself, your friends, and what it is to work, play, eat and sleep as a group. Compromise is essential. Laughter and honesty are perfect salves.
  • Never underestimate the power and the importance of a daily afternoon nap in a cool, dark place.
  • Take these things NOT for granted: the health of your skin; taking a meal with people you care about; the abundance of water; the taste of wine in a place you never thought possible; the many beautiful things there are to behold in one day; a hot shower in an open space.
  • No. Those are not sharks in the water. Nite life includes white Rays who float gently alongside the boat like ghostly visitors.
  • You think you have seen all the stars. You haven’t. Not until now. Not until this nite.
  • The tides of “time away” and “time well spent” and “time to return” wear gently away at your shoreline of reality until you are bare skinned and acutely aware . . . and when sea sickness subsides, home sickness floods in gently to take its place.

Her name was CARINA, and she sailed for us finely.
i have pictures to prove all of this . . .

Laughing Gulls BVI Sunset Utterly Tourist lizard light



::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: :::

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: :::

there is a stillness in contemplation
of the next motion.
there is this silence, for pain for rapture
overlapping hush and wonder.

all of it all of it tumbling smooth
like stones in the water
strange circular sickness
sugar-drugged apathy
for sameness
and hurt

and what delectable pain . . .
and all of it from a curious picture
and a linen kiss.

i am still inventing something
for the morning.

i am hoping to re-invent morning.

i am wrapping the last threads
off immeasurable dreams
around my wrists
so i float
to where

when you feel a tug
it is a (t)ether
you should tie it tightly
about your waist
and pulsepoints will lead
where they may.

and i will come nearer
to your ground.

and i pray you will wake up.
and the last silvered tail
of whisper will ask:
are we there

~ Andrea E. Janda