Monday, May 31, 2010

Moments with Andy Dwyer: Picking Up Signals

Andy Dwyer is the object of my affection these days. Can you tell?

It's no Swayze Fest, but you can bet we'll have some more moments with Andy Dwyer in the future.

Friday, May 28, 2010

All because of a little kindness

Today I waited on this couple from Little Rock. Right away, they told me they were on vacation, and a friend of theirs had highly recommended our restaurant. So right away, Alison Hamm turned on the charm.

As I was telling them about the restaurant's focus on local, organic products and recycling, I realized they were both giving me their full attention. It kind of threw me off my game a little bit. Kind of sad that people paying attention to me when I'm waiting on them unnerves me, but hey, it doesn't happen as often as you might think.

I recommended some food and beers, and the man took my advice and ordered an Alpha King. The woman got an iced tea. For some reason, this truly delighted me. As I continued to check on them throughout their meal, they were both so damn NICE to me, I felt compelled to tell them all these things about myself. (I never feel compelled to tell customers things about myself.) I caught myself telling them how I went to school at IU and loved the Upland Brewery, how I had lived in Indiana for practically my whole life but had never been to the Indy 500, and how I'd just moved back home from Chicago.

The whole time they nodded, smiled, and made friendly banter back. I swear, if they'd invited me, I would have plopped down in that booth and told them my life story. I was beginning to feel a bit ridiculous. It's not like any of my other customers were rude or unfriendly today. But something about this particular couple just warmed my little waitress heart.

When I gave them their check, the woman thanked me, and told me how nice I was. She then told me, "You're very pretty, too," like she'd been debating whether or not to say it, but actually meant it. She smiled a big, genuine smile at me.

I smiled back and said, "Thank you." And I really meant it. As I walked back to the kitchen with their dirty plates, I felt a little bit of the weight that's been on my heart since I moved back lift. All because of a little kindness.

Then I promptly slammed into the kitchen manager and dropped a knife on the floor.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lopez & Palin: Making Liberal Feminists "Go Wild"

Oh, the joys of being back in a small town. This morning I was just minding my own business, standing in the kitchen eating some strawberries, when I glanced at our Courier Times paper on the counter. There it was, right at the top of the page:

Oh, she is, is she? Yep, according to my favorite person in the whole world, Kathryn Jean Lopez, she is!

You might remember my rant about Ms. Lopez after she deigned to talk smack about the love of my life, Judy Blume. And, in true Lopez form, her argument against "liberal feminists" is ridiculous as ever. So silly and unfounded, as a matter of fact, that it hardly warrants a response. But hey, I'm kinda bored here in small town Indiana, so why not?

It's really the start of her fun little op-ed I'd like to focus on, but you can read it in full here. Lopez's focus is on Palin's recent speech at a Susan B. Anthony List fundraiser, and how it's been a "recent source of feminist madness."

She writes:

"When Sarah Palin speaks, liberal feminists go wild. The woman is like a stilettoed catalyst for backlash from the professional political sisterhood. 

Much of the bitterness that gushes forth from the lefty ladies has very little to do with Palin herself. It's about many of the things she represents: She's a happy mom, surrounded by a big family and husband; she's pro-life, religious and conservative; and, lest we forget, a political powerhouse the likes of which has not been seen for decades. Depending on who you are and the nature of your gripe, you can add and subtract to this list."
Oh, boy. First of all. Love that descriptor: Liberal feminists go wild! You're damn right, Lopez. I get so effing riled up when Sarah Palin speaks, I rip my bra off, light it on fire, and start throwing contraceptives in the air! Go wild, feminists! Attack of the Stilettoed Political Powerhouse!

Now, to be honest, now that I'm not up all night with visions of Sarah Palin in the White House, I usually save myself the headache of listening to her speak. But let's get something straight, Lopez. First off, to speak for myself and my fellow "lefty ladies," we're not "bitter" about Palin. That, frankly, gives the woman too much credit. You say that Palin talked about empowering women, "and in her worldview that translates into making sure they have options when they are pregnant." Uhh, WHAT? How about giving young women some options BEFORE they become pregnant? Like good, extensive sex education? Affordable access to birth control?

What grates me most about this, though, is how completely absurd Lopez's notions are about what it is that upsets feminists regarding Palin.  

"It's about many of the things she represents: She's a happy mom, surrounded by a big family and husband; she's pro-life, religious and conservative; and, lest we forget, a political powerhouse the likes of which has not been seen for decades."
Give me a break. Do I need to start rattling off all of the happy moms I know who are also pro-choice?  Do I need to point out how ridiculous and insulting it is to assume that feminists are bitter about women with a family and husbands? Do I need to explain that "pro-choice" and "religious" are not  necessarily mutually exclusive?

I really don't know where to begin. Mostly I want to stay away from whatever Kool-Aid Lopez drank as a child. But something simply must be said about her last ridiculous claim: "lest we forget, a political powerhouse the likes of which has not been seen for decades."

Um? Her name is Hillary Rodham Clinton, and she is our Secretary of State. Look her up, Lopez.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Mix Tapes: Cover City

Apparently I'm really into covers these days. Just call me Chan, I guess.

Here's Candi Staton's take on Patsy Cline.

And since I brought up Chan Marshall, Queen of Covers:

Happy Monday.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Would you like some boiling hot coffee?


I love Andy Dwyer.

Homesick at Home

Today was the first time since I've been living back home that I actually started questioning the limits of my sanity.

Being home alone while my roommates, aka my dad and Deb, are at work, makes me feel useless and restless. AKA, like I'm going off my fucking rocker. I guess I shouldn't feel that way, since I'm midway through server training at a new place in Indianapolis, thanks to a friend of mine hooking me up with a job. (I'm at least qualified to wait tables at this point, wouldn't you agree?)

But, still. From the moment I woke up today I was missing Chicago (or more accurately, my life and the people there) like crazy. I tried to cheer myself up by watching the Modern Family season finale. That helped, for the 21 minutes of the show. I had no idea what to do next. So I sat on the couch and stared at Mufasa for a few minutes. That did not help.

I paced around the house for a couple minutes, trying to decide what to do with myself. I made my bed. I washed some towels. I wrote some e-mails. I tried to think of something funny to tweet. (Nothing came to me, clearly.) I did a workout video (you know how I love those! but alas, it was not Jane Fonda).

After the 45 minutes of exercise, considering my legs were starting to twitch and I had actually worked up a sweat, I felt like I had accomplished something. I took a shower, feeling considerably better. But the Chicago-sickness waves kept creeping back. It felt just like homesickness, except I was already as home as I could possibly be.

I had to do something. You might be thinking, "Um, Alison? You could have been applying for jobs this whole time you were moping around, feeling sorry for yourself. Maybe this is why you haven't found a good job in the first place!"

That's what I was thinking to myself, anyway. So, on a whim, I decided to see if I met the qualifications to teach English at a community college. Turns out, I might. Who knew?

I applied for the job. We'll see if maybe, just maybe, this time something might come out of it. At the very least, I can now say I've written a teaching philosophy. 

And don't worry, Rainbow groupies. I promise I'll cheer up soon.

If not, I guess I'm just going to get in really great shape.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poetry Slam Tuesdays (uhh, sorta): Langston feels my pain

Okay, okay, so it's now 12:51 AM on Wednesday, according to my best friend, my Macbook, but I couldn't bear the thought of missing out on a poetry slam two weeks in a row! Gasp!

I especially can't keep skipping out on poetry slams now that I have my mom's poetry collection at hand. Especially not when The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes is included in said collection. I really love reading through this particular collection, because there are tiny, numbered slips of white paper throughout it, marking specific poems by title. It's my mom's handwriting. My guess is she read some (or all) of these to her students.

This is one of them.

Out of Work

I walked de streets till
De shoes wore off my feet.
I done walked de streets till
De shoes wore off my feet.
Been lookin' for a job
So's that I could eat.

I couldn't find no job
So I went to de WPA.
Couldn't find no job
So I went to de WPA.
WPA man told me:
You got to live here a year and a day.

A year and a day, Lawd,
In this great big lonesome town!
A year and a day in this
Great big lonesome town!
I might starve for a year but
That extra day would get me down.

Did you ever try livin'
On two-bits minus two?
I say did you ever try livin'
On two-bits minus two?
Why don't you try it, folks,
And see what it would do to you?

Langston, I feel ya.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Mix Tapes: The Late, Great Lena Horne

In honor of Lena Horne, who died yesterday at age 92:

From NPR:

"Horne was denied roles with any artistic range whatsoever. Too proud to just take anything, Horne resigned herself to a career as a musical entertainer so those who followed her might have more choices. She pushed open a door that Josephine Baker, as the first African American to star in a major motion picture, had just unlocked.

We think of Horne of as a phenomenal singer and dancer who put a dignified face on black beauty that was rare at the time, but who knows what else she had to offer. Tempting, titillating but never tawdry, she proved you could be a diva with less skin and more sass, a concept that seems to elude a new generation."

Here she is on the Rosie O'Donnell show in 1998. I love how modest she is (and the number of bangles she's wearing):

Rest in peace, Lena Horne. A true diva, beauty, performer, and trailblazer.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thanks, Leslie...

for introducing me to some great music.

Check out Blossom Dearie singing "Tout Doucement," a song you might know because of Feist's cover of it. I also just now discovered that this song was a cover. Whatever, you didn't know either. DID YOU?!

Tout doux, tout doux, tout doucement! (Comme ça?)

I was not familiar with Blossom Dearie until, oh, about 20 minutes ago, but I'm falling head over heels pretty fast. And not just over those badass glasses and pageboy haircut.

Give her a listen.

I should have known. Of course Leslie Feist would have impeccable taste.

Have you heard her Bee Gees' cover from her "Let it Die" album?  Ok, FINE, I just now realized this was a Bee Gees' cover as well. I'm a dumbass.

Thanks, Leslie. Right now, "la vie c'est épatant."

Trying Mother's Day on for Size

In recent years, I’ve played a little game with myself on Mother’s Day. The name of that game: Pretend It’s Not Happening. This Mother’s Day will be my eighth without my mother, and from the first year, it became a day I started to dread.

Therefore: Pretend it’s not happening, and you won’t have any more reason to feel sad than you do on any other day of the year. Right? Right.

Last year, I worked the brunch shift on Mother’s Day, which made a lot of sense, or so I originally thought. A lot of the other servers wanted to spend time with their mothers, and I also needed some help in my Pretend It’s Not Happening game. Working a busy brunch shift? Perfect diversion.

Not so perfect, as it turns out. Instead I ended up feeling about a million times worse, waiting on table after table of people with (DUH) their moms. We were also supposed to pass out these special chocolate covered strawberries to all the mothers, and by the end of my shift, I was fighting my increasing desire to stomp all over the stupid chocolate covered strawberries.

I missed my mom. I felt overwhelmingly sad. Every time a coworker who didn’t know me too well asked, “Are you going to see your Mom today?”— a completely reasonable question to ask on Mother’s Day—I had a choice. I could simply say no, and walk away, avoiding the subject entirely. Or, I could tell the truth.

I dislike both of those options. Maybe a simple “no” would have saved me some grief, but it just would have felt wrong. I would have felt like a liar. But then again, telling the truth isn’t much fun either. I hate, hate, HATE telling someone new that my mother is not alive. It makes me uncomfortable. It often makes the other person uncomfortable. It makes me sad. It makes the other person sad. It makes me… well, it makes me feel a whole lot of feelings, dammit.

So basically, last year, my little Pretend It’s Not Happening game failed me. By the end of the day, I was a grumpy, emotional mess. Mother’s Day was happening. OH, was it happening. It was all around me, smacking me in the face with chocolate covered strawberries.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: Where Flowers Pick Themselves

For this week's poetry slam, I decided to search the bookshelves at home for inspiration among my mother's poetry collections, and as expected, they did not disappoint.

Today's poem is from E.E. Cummings' Collected Poems, 1922-1938. (Poem No. 73, to be exact.)

It's the perfect poem to read on a screened-in porch on a gorgeous May day, which is exactly what I just did.

I wouldn't mind going to this city in the sky, filled with pretty people:

who knows if the moon's
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky—filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it,if they
should take me and you into their balloon,
why then
we'd go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody's ever visited,where

               Spring)and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves

I'm equally in love with his introduction to this collection, which begins with, "The poems to come are for you and for me and are not for mostpeople—it's no use trying to pretend that mostpeople and ourselves are alike." And yes, he wrote "most people" as "mostpeople," because when you're E.E. Cummings (and sometimes e.e. cummings) you can do whatever you want, like not spacing after punctuation marks (see above) and pushing two words together as one, and it's probably going to be terrific.

 I'll leave you with his ending statement in the introduction.

Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Miss Me?

I bet you do! Well, don't fret, Rainbow groupies, I didn't leave you... I've just been a little (by little I mean A LOT) preoccupied with packing, moving, and job interviewing. I also can't seem to get my $#%!ing wireless router set up here, so I'm kind of freaking out without my Macbook right now.

Yeah, I'm back in Indiana.

More on all this later, I promise. Probably more than you want to know.

Alison (aka "alisoncomposes")