Embrazos

We’ve changed kitchen managers, and the result is overwhelmingly positive. Now, we are all being cross-trained on every station, from sauté to dish pit. This is because if someone calls out (rare, which means they are really sick), anyone can cover for them. It will make all of our lives easier, because we can switch shifts with anyone on the team, rather than calling the one other person that knows what to do. [Editor’s Note: You rarely get a day off in the restaurant business. Most likely, you are allowed to recuperate and just work on a different day. It keeps people’s hours up, better than just not getting paid when you’re out if your vacation hasn’t kicked in yet.] I am enjoying being switched around frequently, because there are different sets of movements for each part in the ballet, so different muscles hurt in the morning, rather than injuring the same ones over and over (and over, and over, and over #sisyphus).

But, there is something even more important to me now. One of my coworkers walked in and hugged someone (I think it was her cousin), and I jokingly said, “donde esta mi embrazo?” (where’s MY hug?). She laughed and hugged me, too. Now, she hugs me when she comes in every single day. She doesn’t know it, but she’s my lifeline to contact comfort. Let me repeat this… I am now being hugged almost every single day. If you don’t realize how huge this is, you’ve probably never been single and touch-starved. We rarely have different days off, another plus. I would never tell her this, but it just means so much. First of all, I am being hugged. Second of all, I have a coworker that actually likes me enough to hug me. 😛

I’m also taking on a new project, being an editor for one of my friends who’s trying to get published, either though a publishing house or self-publishing as an e-book on Amazon. I’ve read the first couple pages, and I like it so far. I’m on the first pass, which is reading it for fun so that I understand what’s going on before I take out my absolutely ruthless red pen. If you’ve never been through an editing session with me, know that you have to have a thick skin. I will murder your darlings (phrasing, not characters- “killing your darlings” means taking out sentences you form in exactly the same way because you like it so much), but I try to do it with kindness, or at the very least, no bullshit. If I sugar coat, I’m not being a very good editor.

For my services, I am being paid partly in money, and partly in barter for things I really, really want. I don’t want to tell you what they are, because it might “out” her in some way. Just trust me that they are manna from heaven.

I have also had a lesbian attorney say that she read my opinion on the cake mess, and liked it. I was over the moon that she separated her feelings from her JD.

Cutting this short because I played “what’s that smell?” and realized it was me. Service, for me, starts at 5:00, and I need coffee and a shower before then. It’s difficult to make a priority on that one.

It’s enough to make me waste time as I am unable to make a decision. I’m way too tired.

Wait, that did it. Coffee it is.

It’s Starting

I am really mad at Facebook. With all their data mining technology, they can’t stop the Mother’s Day ads in my feed? Of course, I also got an invitation last year to “Black People Meet Dating,” so……. It actually looked really fun. I just thought they might be surprised if I showed up……. and what am I saying? Even if it looked like the best time on earth, I don’t really do things. I remind myself of events all the time, and then when the date arrives, I am the classic it’s too late…. I’ve already changed into my pajamas chick (there are only four or five people for which I will change back into real pants).

Today, I thought about getting out….. For all of April, on Wednesdays you don’t have to get tickets to the relatively new National Museum of African American History & Culture. I have been dreaming about walking around those halls for months, and it’s the first day I haven’t had to order in advance. But did I actually get on the damn Metro? No. No, I did not. I was being low-key workaholic and trying to knock out a few things so tonight I could change into pajamas without remorse….. or did I? Now, I kind of wish I’d gone to the museum. I will say that every Wednesday night until May and wonder where April went.

But, it was time well spent nonetheless.

I finished another book for review, broke for food and TV,  then started writing. I told my editor yesterday I’d have a first draft to her by Thursday or Friday. My eyeballs are starting to glaze over by constantly reading my own writing, so I’m trying to keep the juice flowing by doing different writing. You’ll forgive me for grammatical errors. She won’t.

But, I asked for it. And the problem with asking for an editor is that they will do their dead level best to make you a better writer, even if they have to kill your darlings.

Editing is a little bit easier in Microsoft Word, because I am not handed back a piece of “black and white and red all over.” It’s like getting back books you lent with cute little notes in the margin, like, I had to read this three times and I still didn’t understand it. It’s soul-crushing adorable.

All kidding aside, I’d do anything to make something I wrote even better….. even if it means pulling out my eyebrows one at a time as I try to say the same thing I just said in different words.

Which leads me to a different topic altogether- that I can stop being mad about all the Mother’s Day ads because the twins are here and I want to celebrate their mothers.

It’s starting.

 

The Next One

I just submitted my review for Pancake Money. My editor and I reworked it a bunch, so I’m pretty sure it will be published. I am less interested in impressing the review board than I am my own editor, and not because I don’t care about them. It’s that my editor’s standards are much higher than theirs. If I can make her say this one looks good, then that’s a pretty solid guarantee I’m golden. I liken it to the law- going with the state that has the most conservative interpretation so it passes a liberal one easily. However, that does not mean that when I hit “Submit” my heart doesn’t drop into my stomach. It’s not that I’m worried. I just hate waiting. TELL ME NOW! I’m not so much with the patience.

I’ve also chosen the next book, a YA sci-fi in which a kid is thought to be autistic because he’s hearing voices…. but those voices are supernatural and end up giving him powers through touch. I’m really trying to choose a different genre each time, because I don’t want to get good at only reviewing one type of book.

I also like being introduced to a wide variety of authors. Finn Bell, the author of Pancake Money, is not only the best author I’ve read out of the books I’ve reviewed, but the best one I’ve read in probably a year.

I got in touch with him through his web site and told him that the book was so incredible, I thought getting it for free just because I was about to write a few measly words about it was stealing, so I bought it for my editor as well. He responded by saying he’d give me the next one in the series free for an Amazon review, and damn if I’m not completely hooked on that one, too.

It starts off at a Murderball game with a paraplegic protagonist. For the measly sum of six dollars, you too can have both of these books. I highly recommend dropping everything and buying them RIGHT NOW….. mostly because I want to discuss it with you and not worry about spoiling it….. LIKE I DID TO MY EDITOR in a complete #dumbassattack. I was so excited to talk to Finn that I forwarded her the conversation. What followed was a heart attack of an e-mail with a subject line in all caps that read “DO NOT READ THE CONVERSATION WITH FINN YET!” Luckily, I got to her before she opened it. Or, at the very least, she put my heart back into rhythm by lying to me. Whatever.

I’m having a bit of a hard time today, because I don’t think about the divorce that often, but today it’s eating my lunch. Dana and I worked together at an Irish pub for just long enough for me to know that our dance in the kitchen worked wonders. Every second in the kitchen counts, and we could have entire conversations with our eyes. Thus, St. Patrick’s Day is just a goat-ropin’ clusterfuck of memories that invade my conscious mind, when most of the time, everything that has to do with that relationship is buried. I need it that way. I’m not trying to disengage from my memories because I don’t care; it is quite the opposite. I care too much. I am reminded of Passover…. Why is this night different from all other nights? In a way, that answer is simple. I should be at “our old familiar place, you and I, face to face…”

What is it with me and Billy Joel references?

The part that’s complicated is “our” pub is 3,000 miles away. There’s no way I’d be there, anyway. It’s a moot point, so bothering to think about it is just taking away from being in the present. It, like all the other thoughts that drag me into the past, will pass. I just have to wait it out, time accelerated by the busyness of reading.

Onto the next one…….

 

 

Maxwell House Max

This morning I am sitting in the sun room with a large cup of Maxwell House™ Max, a new product that has 1.75x the amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee. I have some errands to run and chores to do, so I don’t feel bad about front loading a lot of chemical fortitude. If I had to take a wild guess, brewed coffee is getting its ass kicked by energy drinks, and this is basically “shots fired.” I like it black with a good amount of Splenda,™ because there are a lot of chocolate undertones you miss if you add creamer.

Plus, it’s not very expensive. Coffee can just be a beverage again instead of a lifestyle choice. Even I can’t pinpoint the percentage of my income that has gone to outrageously expensive beans, but I guarantee that it’s astronomical. That being said, I do save a lot of money even with buying expensive beans, because it’s still cheaper than going to a coffee shop and paying for one cup at a time.

Sometimes I marvel at how we got here- that the market will bear $3 for a plain cup of coffee. I save a little bit at Starbucks, because people give me gift cards all the time, and because I’m a Gold Member, I get free refills on coffee & tea. Because of this, I have learned that Venti is Italian for “too lazy to get up.” Also, pro tip- SBUX coffee is so much better if you buy the beans and brew them in your own coffee pot… two reasons. You can make it to your own taste, and you know exactly how long it’s been sitting there.

I’d like to support my local indie coffee shops, but since I get gift cards to Starbucks, free coffee is too good to pass up. One $15 gift card will keep me in coffee for two weeks.

However, I am guessing that you don’t come to this web site to hear me extol the virtues of coffee… well, at least, not all of you. You want to know what’s been going on in my life, and I haven’t updated you in a while.

Samantha has signed up for cosmetology school at the Aveda Institute, which is 223 feet from the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop. She’d never taken public transit before, so she wanted me to go with her on a “dry run” to make sure she knew where she was going on the first day. It was absolutely adorable, really. I don’t know anyone who is better at “winning friends and influencing people,” so not only did we get where we were going fairly fast, on the way back we made friends with the bus driver… well, she did, anyway. I just sat back and interjected into the conversation, as I am wont to do. He told us that he was from Haiti, and he was about my age, so I asked him, you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, but did you come here to escape Baby Doc? He said, and this is a direct quote, how the fuck did you know that? Get off this bus. He made a big show of opening the door. It was a Slumdog Millionaire moment as I remembered that my dad was a missionary in Haiti in the ’80s.

Then, a couple of days later, we had a wind storm that sounded like a freight train, blowing the side door open at our house and blowing debris and branches all over the ciy. So far, I only know of one person that died, a six-year-old who was hit by a branch in just the right spot to cause his mortality. In terms of history, one of the trees that President Washington planted at Mount Vernon was knocked over, as well.

Everyone in our household stayed safe, and we didn’t lose electricity… even though the wind at National Airport reached 70mph. As Ron White so eloquently put it, it’s not that the wind is blowing, it’s what the wind is blowing. He was talking about a tornado, but the point is the same. You might be able to outrun the wind itself, but not the car bumper it’s carrying.

I am now reading my second book for review, an advance copy that’s not even on Amazon yet… I suppose you would say that I’m a beta reader, because this is far past first draft work. I’m not far enough along in the book to tell you if the story is better than The Reel Sisters, but I can tell you that the writing style is much more advanced and closer to the fiction I’ve enjoyed before I started reviewing professionally.

I’m hoping my editor sticks with me, because even though I can’t send her a copy of the book (I’m sworn to secrecy), she can at least tell me if the review is good enough for publication or to go back to the drawing board.

As I told her, no one in formal writing makes it on their own…. or they lie. When my first review got published, my e-mail to her said, we did it.

This web site is absolutely not formal writing. It’s just whatever I’m thinking that day… and the very next day, I might say the exact opposite. Sometimes I’ve changed my mind. Sometimes it’s just cognitive dissonance in which each idea is true to me and I carry them both.

I don’t have a problem with thinking two opposite things at once. It’s like love. You never forget that your partner is an amazing part of your world, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t occasionally fantasize about smothering them in their sleep and collecting the insurance money when they haven’t taken out the garbage like you asked them to do two days ago.

Because I’m single, I get the pleasure of being annoyed at myself for those things. I can’t decide if that’s better or worse. Probably better, because I haven’t broken up with me yet…. even on the days I wish I could, like when I’m really mean to me before I’ve had my coffee.

So Much Better

I got feedback on the rough draft of my book review from my editor, and both agreed it was a piece of crap on the first pass (The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway). There was a specific format that they needed to follow, and in general, rule following gets you nowhere in my line of work. I wasn’t trying to be obstinate, of course. I just have a loose grip on what directions actually mean, because I often interpret them to be the exact opposite of what they actually mean…. which is why in formal writing I should never be trusted without an editor. It was actually pretty funny, because it didn’t occur to me until later that I was talking to a schoolteacher as I reread everything she sent over after the second draft.

1. Oh yes. So much better.

Thirty seconds later…

2. NOW I KNOW WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT.

I must’ve laughed for three solid minutes over that one. Sufficed to say, the review has been turned in, and the process for getting approved to be a professional takes about a week. Just for my own curiosity, I looked at some of the other paid reviews, and there were typos and grammatical errors in them… AND I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THE BOOK WAS ABOUT. 😛 So, if their reviews are any indication, I’ll probably do ok. I don’t feel superior to any other writer out there, I just wanted to see what the gold standard was for this web site, and whether I was capable of that level.

If the review is scheduled for publication, one of the things that gets my reviewer score higher, and therefore, my rate per review, is sharing it. I’ll be posting it here, on my Facebook page, on Twitter, etc. Apparently, you can go right to the top of the list if you have 25,000 followers. I passed that long ago in terms of the number of times this web site has been read, including individual visitors. However, not all of them follow me via my author page or WordPress. I had a lot more followers when my web site was connected via my personal Facebook page, because I have so many friends. I thought it was better to separate everything out, but I still post a link on my personal page because it’s just easier for people to find me that way. I’ve also gotten a lot more readers through WordPress by tagging my entries, something I didn’t know was so incredibly important. It puts me higher in page rankings for a particular topic, rather than just being lost at sea among millions of excellent writers.

My heart is in my stomach waiting to see what will happen, so it was nice that I already had something planned for last night to get my mind off things. My friend Jaime met me at Sticky Fingers and took me to a mutual friend’s baby shower, and then came over to my house for a little bit to eat the cupcakes I’d bought earlier. Jaime is only the second friend that’s been to my house, and not because I don’t want my friends to come over- it’s just that since I take the Metro everywhere, there really hasn’t been a reason for people to come by. Prianka drove me home from the airport when I came in after my mother’s funeral, and now you have the grand total. I realized that I should have friends over more often, although Jaime is probably the only one that would actually want to come. This is because most of my friends live in Alexandria, and Jaime lives on the side of DC that’s closer to me. Because of the traffic, anywhere in VA is quite the hike…. much easier for us both to Metro and meet in DC, or I’ll take the Metro to Alexandria because I don’t get to hang out there very often. I was jazzed because the shower was held very close to my old neighborhood- even the same freeway exit!

My one #dumbassattack was that I spent so much time trying to secure the book I wanted to give the twins, only to rush out of the house without it…. even though I told myself to grab it at least fifty times and still forgot. I’ll just have to give it to them another time. Books keep.

In other news, I was wearing wool socks when I slipped down the stairs yesterday, and I thought I broke my ass. I, in fact, did not. After many rounds of Tylenol and ibuprofen, though, I am at least down to a small whimper when I sit. As I was getting into the bathtub, I also noticed that I am a hot mess back there- the biggest and best bruise I think I’ve ever achieved. #goals

I think that’s where we’ll stop for right now- if I think of anything else pressing, I’ll pick it back up later. Right now I just want some hot coffee and a bath. Maybe I will even drink the hot coffee while taking a bath…. something soothing inside and out for my poor little purple ass.