Friday, May 28, 2010

Corner Diner Part 2 of a million

By the time the Old-Timers have been served their grits and coffee, the Kaskalantay*
couple have arrived. They are a husband and wife team. She is in a wheelchair and he has a very wispy dark beard. They both have winning smiles and are on some sort of welfare. 
I can tell by their daily breakfast order. At the beginning of the month, they have steak and eggs-the most expensive thing on the menu. It comes with steak, eggs (obviously), toast, and hash browns. Its a pretty good meal. Impressive to serve, since I need to remember to bring ketchup AND steak sauce to the table; and the toast and hash browns come on separate plates to accommodate the. To bring this meal to the Kaskalantay I must balance the big tray. I am unskilled and must carry it in front of me like an amateur while the other servers fly around the room, tray expertly balanced in one hand. 
Towards the end of the month they switch to dry white toast. And water. 
Really. Really?
This couple is charming at first. They ask (and remember) my name. They sit at the same table and do not make a huge mess. 
But Mr. K thinks it is extremely hilarious to move his mug around the table as I try to refill it. I threaten to pour coffee in his lap eventually, although at first I try to laugh patiently and let the guy enjoy his joke. 
It is really only funny the first time, but not to him. 
Mrs. K is a sweetheart. She tells me I am pretty. I tell her SHE is pretty. She has one of those open Midwestern faces. The kind with a smile that takes over. I like seeing that face. 
But the deep and obvious sigh she gives when I take her month-end breakfast order? Not so much. 
First I worry about them. At the end of the first month when ALL they order is dry white toast I think...'Are they going to make it? Will they starve? Should I buy them eggs with my tips?'
Then they come back on the first of the month and order a $8 breakfast. So I ignore Mrs. K.'s sigh on the 31st. 

*Kaskalantay is not their real name. It is a name that my sister made up. I can't remember their real names

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Corner Diner: Part 1 in a series

Some people have told me that I am a good writer. 
I have lots of stories to tell. 
Here is one of them:

Once upon a time, about 7 million years ago, a girl named Althea moved down to Carbondale, Illinois to be with a boy. This boy had some connections in his college town and helped Althea get a job at a diner on the 'strip'. 
The Corner Diner. 
Althea had never waited tables before. 
The Corner Diner was close to a halfway house for those not all mentally 'there'. More not there than you or me. Most of the people that lived in this house had gotten themselves banned from the rest of the restaurants on the strip.So,the Corner Diner was popular with these characters. 
And characters they were. Not Disney characters, mind you; or even Pixar!!!
But we waitstaff were trained to be patient with them. Even on a busy Sunday morning when film students were trying to interview us about all the interesting people we would serve. 

There's your set-up. 
Here's your story. 

It is close to 6am, earlier than I am used to getting up, but it is my first day on the job and I don't want to be late. I have been awake for an hour already, preparing myself for the day. I left the bear of the boy and our fluffy white cat in our shared wooden room. 
I walk the quiet streets of Carbondale to the diner that is indeed on the corner. I knock on the window as I go around-as instructed. Doris, the short-order cook is already there waiting for me. I don't see her until she opens the door. She is in her early 40s with the lined face of someone who has smoked a lot of cigarettes, and the rough hands of one who has worked for a living. I find her beautiful.  She leads me back behind the counter and asks me if I want a hit. I say no thanks and keep an eye out as she crouches down and has one herself. 

I will discover later that perhaps I should have taken her up on her offer. 

We set up the restaurant for the day: filling ketchup bottles and salt shakers, wiping tables, cooking bacon, making coffee. The doors open and the first customers of the day enter. 
The Old-Timers. A group of old, but not elderly men and one woman. They come in almost daily. They are current and former farmers with mesh-backed hats and overalls. They do not look me in the eye or return my smile. They ask me who I am and where Jessica is. Jessica is the gorgeous charming waitress whom I will come to know later. She's the Old-Timers' favorite. I, as the newbie, am most decidedly NOT. I pour their coffee incorrectly and do not have their orders committed to memory. I frantically try to scribble everything down legibly, as the Diner does NOT have a fancy touchscreen system. You put your ticket on the roundy thing and spin it towards the cook. 
Doris gets their order right, because she has been doing this for years, and I am 19 and frightened by these people. They are old, they are loud and they don't give a shit about me. 

To be continued...and you better believe that there's more. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend Past, the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Smith family went to St. Louis, MO for a family wedding this past weekend.  

The Good: Milo had a spectacular time with his cousins. I enjoyed the company of Brian's extended family. TJ and Chrissy's reception was totally cute-a candy buffet and hot pink feathers. The DJ played Milo's favorite song. I got a cute new dress from H&M which was good because if I had worn the dress I made, I would have LITERALLY matched the bridesmaids. 

The Bad: I was a little lonely at the reception. Milo only wanted to sit on my lap so I was kinda just alone-ah well. Comes with the territory. Its kind of tough to be 'on' for that long, though. Our camera also got broken-no more photos for awhile. 

The Ugly: The nasty roadkill on the way home. The stupid traffic on the way to the ceremony. The massive, inexplicable bruise on my shin.

I'm feeling pretty grumpy now so I'll stop blogging and put some damn laundry away. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010


My husband's family mostly all lives in St. Louis, Missouri. This means a few things, like: ridiculous, deep-seated and ancient baseball rivalries; gooey butter cake; and making the drive to STL a few times a year for various family events. 
This weekend it is for the wedding of Brian's cousin TJ. 
Congratulations TJ! I like all Brian's cousins-they are a pretty tight-knit group and about our age. Nice folks. 
I got ambitious and decided that I could/would sew myself a dress for this wedding. I bought a pattern, fabric, interfacing and a zipper!!!! A first attempt, I went slowly, through the pleats and the sewing and the bias tape that I MADE. 
Then I realized that I do not have a zipper foot for my sewing machine. 'Okay, no problem', I said to myself. 'I'll just stitch it in by hand.'
Which is what I should be doing RIGHT NOW instead of blogging about how badly I need to get shit done. Do you know how painstaking I am right now?
Does that sentence even make sense?

So now, today (this is the type of idiot I am), I have to get myself and the Goo pre-packed, FINISH the dress, have lunch with my BFF and have my dad and Al over - possibly for dinner. 
Because I love my BFF and when she asked me to come out to lunch with her I could not say no. 
Because I love my dad and Al and when they asked to come over and see us I could not say no. 
Because my sister and my BFF work in the same office and I used to work there too so it is nice to go visit sometimes. 
And this is why I drink more Diet Coke and coffee than water. Gross. 
Here is some evidence that I might not have such a crummy camera. 
This is my new favorite fragrance and an old amber ring that I rarely wear anymore. I switched a few settings on my camera and can now actually focus on things. WOOOOOOOO!
Gonna go sew now. Have a good weekend. Look for a post on the string of goldfish murders coming soon. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I sit here at my Mac and read about the more exciting lives of other people. My friend in Berlin, a stranger in Utah, crafty women in other states, fashion-y girls in Texas. Women with farms and multiple kids and clean houses. 

And I wonder what the heck I am going to do today. I know that I will change more than one loaded diaper. I will load and unload the dishwasher. I will play cars with Milo. I will make food that he will not eat. 

I know that the day will fill itself up-days have the tendency to do that when you spend them with a two-year-old boy. 
But in the morning alone, playing the voyeur to lives that seem more exciting than mine, the hours ahead seem vast. 
Will I exercise today? Will I be productive? How many meltdowns will Milo have? Can I handle it? Can I find time to finish a project?

I will. I can. I am. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

my Crazy Yesterday ramblings

First off, let me tell you something: Target does not care about you. Yes, that sweet elderly woman who checked you through might remember your face. Yes, that person in red and khaki with a walkie talkie will tell you to step over to this lane. 
But any higher in authority than that, and they DO NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT YOU. 
I know, I know, not any big surprise. 

And here is why I know this:
Yesterday I visited the Target store at Higgins and Meacham Roads in Schaumburg, IL. And was implicitly accused of trying to rip them off for a dollar. 
Yes. One. Dollar. 
I was mortified. Yes, my cashier (lets call him James) was a gentleman who perhaps rode the short bus to school. But I doubt that excuses the two other employees involved who were rather rude to me.  
Basically, James forgot to give me my change. No big deal-I simply smiled and asked 'May I please have my dollar in change?'
James looks at me flllaaatly and says, 'I gave it to you.'
Not, 'Oh, I'm sorry, one second.' 
Or, 'Oh, of course, my mistake.' Or ANYTHING like that. He gave an exasperated look to the woman standing behind me in line, as if SHE would have anything to say about it. Then he looks to another employee (lets call him Gareth because he looks like Gareth from the Office). 
I then smile and say, holding out my empty hands, 'No, I'm sorry, you didn't. I swear.' *gringringrin*
Gareth sighs and mutters, 'Well, it isn't that much...'
I say to Gareth, 'You know, if its a PROBLEM, then don't worry about it.'
Yet another cashier (lets call her Falana) says, 'Just GIVE it to her.'
Like I was making a scene. Which I wasn't. I work retail. I waited tables through most of my twenties. I know that people try to rip you off. People are jerks sometimes, which is why I treat retail employees with respect. Always. A smile, a genuine thank you, eye contact. Something that shows you see them as a person and not a machine. It matters. James opens his drawer and gives me a dollar without another word. 
I leave, muttering. My passive-agressive side calls the store as I am leaving the parking lot. And emails the company later that day. 
Now, I must admit, I WAS sort of expecting some sort of compensation for my experience. I generally don't. GENERALLY I chalk it up to life lessons and move on. But for some reason this time I wanted something. I wanted someone to give a shit and give me something for nothing. Maybe that is because I was pretty shaken by the experience. I have a pretty high tolerance, and I was really almost in tears yesterday. So yeah, I wanted someone to say, 'Oh man, I'm sorry. Here-have this free something from this huge skrajillion dollar company because we give a damn about our customers.'

And nobody did. Lesson learned. Maybe I won't shop at Target anymore. Naaaah. But I for DAMN sure will never go back to THAT location. Bastards. But I'm on to them.

Later that day Milo murdered his goldfish Ponyo 2 while I was in the water closet. Oh my. Like, reached in the bowl and took it out and (I think) smooshed it. 
I really wish I could transfer the mental photograph I have of his face when I returned to the living room to the interwebs to share with all. 
But I was too busy freaking out to grab the camera. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Celebration and a Review

Last night, Mr. Smith and I dropped the Goo off at his grandparents' house and drove not very far to a restaurant in a strip mall. 
It seems like most things are now located in strip malls. Shudder. 
Anyhoo, we went to this place and had drinks and dinner. First the review:

Jade Asian Infused (I think that is the whole name of this place) had the ambiance one expects from a sushi-ish place in a strip mall in Carol Stream or any other north-ish suburb of Chicago. Clean lines, not too many table crammed in the dining room, interesting light fixtures. Separate bar area. Like you have to enter through another door. I was in very tall shoes and the floor was slippery, so I didn't walk over there-but I thought that was cool. 
Mr. Smith had told me earlier in the day that he was going to order my dinner for me. I thought that was very romantical and Don Draper-ey. Mmmmm. 
But here we encountered a bit of a snag. Apparently Brian Don Draper Smith had researched the place, read reviews, looked at menus and saw something he JUST KNEW that I would like. Such as:

A pitcher of some mojito beverage(to share, people. to share.). I can't find it on the menu, but that isn't the point. They were out of mint leaves (really?) so our server suggested substituting their version of a Mai Tai. Which was really not the same thing at all. 

Their version of a Dragon Roll. I heart maki sushi so very, very much and this is a favorite. It is also one that Brian will eat. That was delicioso and I wolfed down my half because I was ravenous. It was the basic version of a dragon roll: shrimp tempura and crab meat topped with avocado and teriyaki sauce.

The ENTREE that Brian picked out for me was the romantic part. Pan-seared scallops with applewood smoked bacon, a yuzu glaze, served over black risotto. 
TO DIE, right? Plus we have a history with risotto-it was one of my first 'accomplishments' as a cook. 
I'd never had black risotto before...I'm guessing it was a sort of black rice they just cooked in that style. And I LOVE scallops. And bacon. And...yuzu...who DOESN'T?!
But apparently there is some worldwide shortage of scallops, or they are really expensive or SOMETHING (our server was very quiet)
So they substituted shrimp, which were tasty, but again; not the same. 

Brian got the herb-marinated lamb chops, which made his lips very shiny. They had good flavor but could have been a touch less 'done'. The sides he selected were garlic mashed potatoes garnished with caramelized onions and fried rice. The taters were cold and the rice undercooked. 

I'd give it three stars out of five, because the menu was impressive and the flavors all good. And I know how the sushi/fish-buying market can  be inconsistent. But mint leaves? Come on. 

No photos because I forgot the camera. 
It stormed here like CRAZY last night. A good Midwestern thunderstorm, with skies bright as day and the loud booms that cause sisters to jump into each others' beds for comfort. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Three Years Ago Today

I married my love. My friend. My compliment. 
We went from freewheeling newlyweds to home-owning parents rather quickly, buying a townhouse the next weekend and becoming pregs the next MONTH. 
Yeah...we move fast. 
Yep, I laid it on him as soon as Pastor Mel told me I could. 

We toasted with hand-blown glass beer boots from Germany. Champagne flutes aren't really our style. Mr. Smith toasted me with a made-up story about a funeral in Russia and a promise to tell everyone I was a dirty, dirty whore, so no man would ever look at me again. 
It was actually quite funny and good. 

This is a photo of us with the Frenches, Dana and Jerry. These two have been major influences in MY life for the past decade-plus; and in Brian's life for almost that long. They were our matron of honor and our best man. I truly consider these two geeks family. They are a shining example of true love and family. And I cannot type any more mushy crap about them or I will cry. 

SO...Brian. Thanks for convincing me to be your girl. I am proud to be your wife  and I am so glad to stand by your side FOREVEAH!!!!!! I love you!!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010


This life I have now is one that I never expected to have. But now that I think about it, it might be the exact life I am SUPPOSED to have. 

If I had told my 24-year old self that in the next five years, I would be a mom, a wife AND a Lush employee...I would have called me a big fat liar. 

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I not had a baby. If I had gone to college right after high school. If I had told Mr. Smith that I would NOT be his girlfriend. 

I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I suppose now I am grown, and I still don't know. I do have a clearer picture of what I am SUPPOSED to be. 

We are not just aimless entities floating around the universe. I have always believed this.  We have a path. And underneath all my grumbling and sighing and complaining, I know what mine is. 

And it is SUCH a very different path than what came before it that I still have a hard time coming to terms with it. 

So, to all the moms whose lives took a different path than they expected, I wish you a belated, happy, contented Mothers' Day. 

Namaste, b*tches. 

****edited to add something here, later in the day...
Someone had commented on this post, and I rejected the comment. (apologies, no intention of rudeness, but it is my blog)
Perhaps I should have left it so that the commenter and I could have discussed how I came across vs how I intended to. 
I might seem a little fatalistic, perhaps my sarcasm comes out that way. 
But I AM happy. I love my life. I know that lots of people would love to be in my situation. But my life is totally different than it was even just five years ago. 

It is not what I expected, but far more than I had ever imagined. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

A New Thing

The Smith family did something new last night. 
If you don't know, last night was the National Day of Prayer. The church we attend had an event where groups of people moved throughout the church, praying about our nation, church, community and families. 
Anyone who has attended even a single church service has been in a roomful of people praying (or...pretending to pray). But last night was different. Not only because we were in a different PART of the church (lower level as opposed to worship center, etc...), but because the focus of the evening was prayer. 
I rarely feel like I belong. RARELY. I rarely feel as though I am a part of something bigger than myself.***
But last night...I felt both of those things. 

Referencing the title of my post-the new thing we did was a 'concert of prayer'. Where the elders of the church stood in the middle of the everyone, we joined hands and began to pray. 
Out LOUD. whoa. I don't even sing in church because I dislike the sound of my own voice. 
But to have your voice mixed in with everyone else's, all praying for the same thing was amazing. 

Okay, apologies to my heathen friends (not really though) for the uninteresting blog post. You'll live. 
Milo is yelling for me. Time to get dressed and go to the grocery store. 

This is a VERY old and funny photo of three people who are only ALL named Megan when they are together. 
Pretty sure those are straws in my hand. 
Peace out homes. 
***this is due to my own personal insecurities. we all have them. stfu. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Updatey most of you know, the Smiths were stricken with a wretched, evil something week before last. First Milo was sick. It was really gross
Then I was sick. It hurt, and Milo was feeling better by then. Let's just say he watched a lot of tv (sorry, son) while I writhed in pain on the couch. 
Mr. Smith got sick. He slept for two days. I called him Rumplestilskin. Then realized I should have called him Rip Van Winkle. And that I should brush up on my fairy tales. 
Milo and I went to our local Asian (although I think it is mainly Japanese, if that matters) supermarket, Mitsuwa . I've loved this store for years. The food court is wonderful and if you are looking for obscure snacks or drinks, this is the place to go. 
But DO NOT go there if you have been playing nurse for your husband and haven't had a moment to look in the mirror,apply undereye concealer or don a cute ANYTHING. Japanese women are beautiful, and stylish, and if you are a tall blonde mommy who hasn't showered, you and your self-consciousness will stick out. 
So will your loud, blonde toddler. Living in the suburbs, I am almost grateful for times when being a blue-eyed blonde puts me in the minority. But still...I looked like crap that day. Obviously. 
It turns out that there is a nice big field nearby if you exit the side door. Since we didn't want to go home, Milo ran around:

After I put Milo (and Mr. Smith) to bed that night, I went over to my BFF's house for wine and venting. It was good and exactly what I needed after a whole WEEK of being cooped up in the house. 
I love my Dana. 

Sometimes after Milo's naptime, he wants to go outside. Sometimes he wants to pretend-drive the car, sometimes he just wants to run. 
SOMEtimes we go for a drive. On one of these drives (through a nearby office park. the entire other side of Roselle road is an office park over here), I found this place:
Milo is really into fire trucks. Anything with wheels and flashing lights, really. we went later that week.

 It is run by off-duty firefighters (the firehouse is literally up the street) and is usually only open for birthday parties. I'd imagine for an older child that was into fire-trucks and the like...this would be a great idea. It looked like the inside of a firehouse. I got more photos but they all sucked. 
Milo had a blast. He got a plastic firehat, but didn't want anything to do with it until we got home. Then he fake-sneezed it off numerous times. 
Please enjoy a photo montage:

'i think i'll fake-sneeze this hat off my head...'



then he retrieves the hat to repeat the trick a million times. 

The woman at the pharmacy drive-thru said my hair looked nice so I took this photo.

We also had an addition to our family this past week. 

Ponyo the goldfish. now we are on our second Ponyo, but Milo doesn't know that. 

or...does he????