Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lovers & Mixed Nuts

There is a saying that goes something like, "It takes all kinds."  Let's think about that for a moment.  It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around.  You don't have to look very far, or very hard for that matter, to see how different one person is from another.  In fact, all you have to do is show up to your neighborhood bar, grab a stool and a drink, and listen.  But I must warn you to be prepared for the shock and awe campaign that almost always follows.

The United States in particular is a real mixed bag if you ask me.  Just traveling from state to state, you will find varying degrees of cultural warfare.  I can tell you that living in Southern comfort for the past five years was a polar opposite experience to my life on the cool West Coast.  Growing up in southern California provided an education in open-mindedness that I am grateful to have had; the people, the food, the clothes, the mentality, the beliefs, the politics and the sense of community all varied greatly from one city limit to another.  

I stood behind the bar last night and overheard six different conversations.  Matters of the heart struck a common thread and before I knew it, one stranger had struck up a conversation with the couple across from them in a ping pong game of who, what, where, when and why...  with the answers varying greatly.  

And soon, all twelve strangers were engrossed in a myriad of conversation.  It was a miraculous display of cultural warfare and I was at the very center of it all.  It didn't really matter if they agreed or not; they were all immersed in their perspectives and were just loving it.  Some loved their hometowns, their former spouses, and their jobs, while others winced at the thought it.

I could hardly keep up with the newfound philanthropy at my bar.  One round of drinks for these guys on his tab, another round for her from the couple sitting across the way.  It was a heartwarming display of neighborliness from a mixed group of tourists, locals and well... myself.

One thing was very clear; we were all very different from each other.  And yet, we were still sort of the same.  The most common thread among us was obvious.  It was love.

Stories of past loves, first loves, last loves and great loves became the commonality that we shared.  And I thought; how wonderful it is to be connected through our various experiences of falling in or out of love. 

Who knows what would have happened if the conversation spanned beyond the scope of love.  Nothing is more of a buzz-kill than a political showdown at a bar and words cannot describe how thankful I am that the mixed chatter didn't go there.  In fact, at one point, I overheard someone refer to Versailles as "Just another palace" and I about fell over in absolute disbelief.  Really??

I immediately chimed in because I just couldn't help myself.  Just another palace, no way!   We laughed and somehow moved on to discuss other things.

So okay, we are all a bunch of lovers and mixed nuts.  But I have to say that it felt good to be on the same lovely wavelength, even if only for an hour or two... looking out, from behind the bar.

Today:

French Sunrise

2 oz Grey Goose Vodka
1/2 oz Grand Marnier 
1/4 oz Chambord
Splash of Orange Juice (fresh squeezed preferred)

Shake and strain and serve up with a twist. 















Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Check Please

Look, I get it.  There are some days that are just hard to get through: forced smiles, half-assed appearance and long-winded sighs are all tell-tale signs.  I have been there too.  Trust me. There have been days where I truly hated being at work.  I have been in the midst of a personal life crisis on more than one occasion and have literally broke down sobbing while serving random strangers their dinner.  It was not cute.

Hospitality can be tricky business.  You have to remember that generally speaking, people are out to have a good time.  Therefore, it is our job as servers, bartenders, greeters etc. to do the best we can to ensure that you in fact, have a good time.  We set aside our feelings, life circumstances, even our aches and pains to promote an overall sense of a good time. 

This concept of hospitality is one that I am acutely aware of.  I suppose that I have worked in restaurants long enough to have tested the theory that guest satisfaction trumps everything.  A place can have great food and a cool ambiance but still fail.  Great service is typically a hallmark for a venues' continued success.  

It always amazes me how often I experience truly poor service.  You would think that as someone who works in a restaurant, I would somehow have the in with my fellow industry peeps.  Sadly, this is not often the case.  

In fact, it is a sad fact that I encounter truly bad service almost every time I go out.   And I wonder, is it me? Am I just more aware of the timelines, negative attitudes and dirty silverware because I work in a restaurant?  If anything, I would argue that I am more understanding than the next guest because of that commonality.  It's not like I want to pick apart a place when I have the night off to relax and enjoy myself.  When I am off duty, I am OFF.  

If you are having a bad day or even a bad year, I completely understand.  I honestly do.  But if you can't so much as make eye contact, fain a smile, or have even the slightest sense of urgency then I urge you to find another job.  A bill collector for example would be a great option for the less than cheerful! You could hide in your cubicle somewhere all day long and never once have to smile as you urge people to get off their asses.  

Or you could write parking tickets, work in a government agency, a dental office, a middle school or an airport .  All of these jobs suck!  Surely your misery would be tolerated and in good company there.  

All I am trying to say here is this: if you can't be polite to people even on the most surface level, then please, do us all a favor and don't work in hospitality.  In an environment where your paycheck is the guests' check, I suggest that you please Check Yourself! 

If I begin to take out all my frustrations with my job,  my non-existent love life, my financial worries and bad hair days on my guests at the bar, I will know that the time has come to get out of hospitality.  

Because people don't sit at the bar to listen to my sad stories, they come to tell me theirs.  

Friends in the service industry: before you drop that check, please check yourself!  If you can't suck it up anymore, I understand completely.  But please, don't take it out on your guests (including me).  

Today:

Attitude Adjustment #2 Cocktail

1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Amaretto
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Peach Schnapps 
Splash of sour Mix
Splash of Cranberry 








   

Monday, July 29, 2013

Under the Influence

As a bartender, it is part of my job description to be able to determine when a person is near the point of intoxication.  It's a bit of a fine line and you have to take into account a variety of factors.  Height, weight, and gender all play important factors to how long it will take for alcohol to pass through the blood stream.  This aspect of my job can be... tricky.

While you definitely want your guests to enjoy themselves and let loose a bit, you also have to keep their safety and best interests in mind.  The choices a person makes while under the influence can directly impact the course of their lives.  The decision to cut someone off is not one that I have ever delighted in or taken lightly.

For the past few days, I have been on a little weekend getaway with my family.  My two nieces are still young and are drinking up every ounce of what we as adults, say and do.  They are very much, under the influence.  That realization has struck me on many levels and it is also something I do not take lightly.

And I wondered yesterday if the same rules apply when determining if a person is under the influence.  What has occurred to me, as I have studied my entire family as well as my nieces, is that we all fall under the influence of others from time to time.  While that is a huge responsibility, it can also be a truly wonderful experiment.

But it's a tricky thing too... depending on who is influencing you.

Yesterday I wrote a list; a prescription for FUN.  Before I knew it, I looked around and saw my dad and brother flying a kite, my nieces were playing fetch with my dogs and my mom had snuck away to steal a little time for herself and everyone had a sudden hankering for a Bloody Mary.  Everything I added to the list yesterday, we were checking off and enjoying. 

I felt the warming effects of falling under the influence. We all felt it.  I suppose age, weight, gender and height aren't as relevant when determining if a person can fall under the influence... of others.  It is a big responsibility; when you realize how much you can affect another persons' choices and perspectives... and furthermore, how much others' can influence you.

Who knows what you might teach someone; young or old.  Who knows what you might also learn.

Today:

Island Kite

1 oz Watermelon Vodka
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Midori
Splash of lemonade 
Shake and strain into a martini glass.
Let grenadine sink to the bottom of glass. 


Bloody Mary made from scratch.

Flying a kite.







Sunday, July 28, 2013

Seizing Sunday: Rx FUN

A cold front has set in over the great expanse of the North and it doesn't feel much like summer in Michigan this week.  The past two days at the bar were pretty rough.  Friday night was cold, windy and rainy.  I stood outside for about two and a half hours shivering, before the decision was finally made to close up shop.  On my unexpected Friday night off, I picked up a pizza on my way home.  The chilly weather outside didn't really motivate me to want to go anywhere but straight home.

Saturday night was looking even worse.  With no word of work being canceled, I suited up and prepared for another drizzly night at the bar.  I have to admit that I did not have the best attitude for a good thirty minutes.  I was frustrated with the situation.  Poor weather means no customers and that is not what you want when your pay scale is directly related to the number of people you serve.

But on the other hand, what the weather did provide was an unexpected weekend off.  An hour after I got to work, we decided the rainy weather wasn't going to blow over any time soon.  And that meant one thing to me: freedom!

Sometimes you just have to seize the moment.  Life is full of unexpected surprises.  And while most of the time you can plan your days from week to week, you can't always plan on what to expect.  Things happen.  Just as unpredictable as the weather, so too is the nature of planning.  Things change.  You can plan this or that but you'd better be flexible.

I didn't make any money this weekend at work.  But what I have right now is worth so much more.  I was able to join my family at our cabin up north and the time I am spending with them is an unexpected and treasured gift I was handed this weekend.

I woke up next to my little nieces.  We had a slumber party in my cabin and it was a blast.  Today, I have a prescription for you.  


***Rx: Fun.***

If you are at a loss for fun things to do on this Sunday FUNday, here are a few of my very favorite simple joys in life... and all of these I have done this week!!

FUN

1. Go for a drive and pull over at a few of the scenic turnouts along the way. (They are there for a reason).

2. Go ride a bike! If you don't own a bike, go to the beach and rent one!! Trust me on this!

3. Fly a kite! The dollar store is a great option. The kites are pretty tricky to fly, but that kind of makes it more fun.

4. Tell a ghost story.  You will feel like a kid again too!

5. Spend time with your family.  If you don't like your family, go borrow a friend's.

6. Play fetch with a dog. Again if you don't have a dog, merge #5 with #6. Same logic applies.

7. Have Sunday brunch! Sunday is my favorite day for a reason. You can eat breakfast at 1:00 p.m. and drink a cocktail at 10:00 a.m.  It is perfectly acceptable.

8. Phone a friend.  If you absolutely detest talking on the phone (which I am well-known for) then you can SKYPE!! I love seeing the face of the person I am chatting with.  And you can enjoy coffee or wine together!!

9. Stay up late/sleep in late. It's Sunday and no one will care. Remember #7?? Anything goes.

10.  Get off your computer and get outside to go on a nature walk. (This is going to happen right now!)

Today:

Loaded Bloody Mary

1 oz Vodka 
Fill glass with Zing Zang Bloody Mary mix
Garnish with skewer of pickles, olives, cheddar cheese cubes, and a Slim Jim (Or pepperoni) 

















Saturday, July 27, 2013

Writers Un-Blocked


Why Write?

It must seem random, sudden and perhaps a little overwhelming to read whatever happens to pop in my mind each day.  And I suppose, on some level, it could be a bit uncomfortable too: having access to the very thoughts that are passing through my brain each morning as I sip my coffee.

It is as though I have a URL attached to my fingertips. This is what is on my mind.com.  I never intended to set out on some public pilgrimage toward enlightenment. Sorry.  This is neither a journal nor a soapbox, though I admit there are certain elements that may feel ultra personal or even a little preachy at times. Whatever. It’s just me. 

I am a person.  Like you, I go through each day and face a certain number of obligations and responsibilities.  I encounter people I have never met and won’t ever see again on a daily basis.  I think that makes my life kind of interesting, if only in some small way.

Over the years, I have developed certain perspectives that I’ve only recently decided to pontificate in some sort of mass level. 

I’d like to think that I am contributing something greater to society than my own petty details of my existence here on earth.  Perhaps even inspire other people who might also find themselves faced with similar thoughts, fears and dreams. 

Looking back at the writings that have poured out of me these past couple weeks, I realize just how much I needed this.  And based upon certain comments I have received from close friends as well as total strangers/neighbors in cyberspace, it has become apparent that other people needed something from it too.  Different reasons for different people, but reasons all the same. And that, is one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever had. 

Writing is a natural and necessary part of my existence.  It has been my oldest and most loyal friend.

My personal journals are not what I consider to be great examples of literary accomplishments: rather, entire volumes of hand-written rants more or less.  A journal is where I go to flesh out the various phases I am in. They portray an image of severe highs, lows and the blah-between. This form of writing has been necessary for my overall sanity and I don’t really know what else to say about it other than that.

When I sat down and created this blog a few weeks ago, it was my intention to release something that had been brewing for about thirty years: my point of view.  What began as a play on words, illustrating a bit of a metaphor of Serving Time behind a bar, grew to encompass so much more; everything from dating, dreaming, working, writing, traveling, friendships, money matters, diseases, morals, traditions and so on, to just a plain old cocktail recipe. 

It is a release. It is my way of gently nudging myself in the direction that feels true.  And it is really fun to share it with you.

There are so many things I would love to be doing for a living.  I will never forget the moment in college, already halfway through my junior year, when I decided to change my major to Screenwriting.  It was a leap.  And I knew I had a lot of catching up to do.  I spent the next year and a half completely absorbed. It felt right to write again.

And then, my heart imploded, and a number of personal obstacles zapped the creative energy I had so carefully stowed away.  And in my most heartbroken moments, the poetry I wrote stung the pages, as well as my bloodshot eyes. The work was wrenching and survivalists in nature. Then one day, the creative flow was blocked. 

Poetry stopped. Creative writing stopped. Screenwriting was but a distant memory. And the only safe haven for my thoughts were within the blank pages of my journal. But journaling is solely for my own selfish release.  It is not a form of self-expression that I wish to share. And although I do not consider this blog to be at all similar to a dear diary, I imagine that you are, oddly enough, actually getting to know me pretty well. 

Behind Bars is for me, a bit of a catalyst of my entire love affair with the written word. It is my way of looking in the mirror and reminding myself that I am serving my dreams by serving others. But more than that, it is also a metaphor for my life: the journey of a dreamer, a wanderer and writer un-blocked. 


Today:

Chocolate Tini

1 1/2 oz Vodka
1 oz Godiva Chocolate Liquer 
Splash of Cream
Shake and strain into a martini glass
Swirl Chocolate syrup in glass to garnish








Friday, July 26, 2013

On a Mission to Neverland

There is a frontier, a Road Less Traveled and my compass is pointing in that direction.  This uncharted land sits just beyond my reach, but is not out of my scope of vision.  Not yet, that is.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of the goal, the aim, the vision... the mission.  I am struggling to find the words to describe the ongoing battle of wills that I am faced with each and every single day.  It is an inner struggle.  To choose this path is difficult.  It can seem... impractical, flighty and unrealistic

And I suppose it is somewhat unrealistic, until proven otherwise. But I'm on a mission.  And no one else can get me there but my own two feet.  

Marching along to the beat of my own drum, I hear ominous whispers in the distance: the threat of failure, self doubt, and defeat mocking from the hillsides. You can't. You won't. If you could, you would have by now. Grow up. Give up. Get real. 

The seeds of doubt are planted deep within.  And sometimes, I struggle to find the very antidote to all these self defeating shadows of doubt: faith

Faith is a funny thing.  It is the ability to believe in something that has not been proven yet.  It is like a super human strength.   I may not be able to see what lay just beyond my scope of vision yet, but I believe that I will see it someday.  

It is a hard mission. And truth be told, I am terrified of failure.  The very thought of it makes my entire body tense up.  

When I was a little girl, I believed anything was possible.  I had that kind of innocent enchantment with possibility. Similar to the way a little child believes in the Tooth Fairy or making wishes on shooting stars, is how I believed in myself, once upon a time.  Optimism like that, is a truly rare and beautiful thing. 

This morning, I woke up to my latest routine on the route to my own version of Neverland.  Before I so much as opened my eyes, it began.  What am I doing? How much more can I take? I am never going to get there. This is a lonely road.

I woke up tired and restless. Last night was crazy at work. The bar was hit hard, all at once.  I was moving as fast as I could, but it just wasn't fast enough. And this morning, exhausted and anxious, I rolled reluctantly out of my bed. I was fighting a serious case of the flunkies

And then, the defenses kicked in.  Like the Lost Boys marching through the forest in Never Neverland, I waged a counter-attack on all fronts.  This is war.

Never never grow up. Never never give up.  Never stop believing. Surrender? No way.  I'm on a mission. But one thing is certain: I'll never ever get there, if I never ever try.  

So today I've decided, I'm going to continue down this road, and keep on believing. 





Today:

Manhattan

2 oz Whiskey or Bourbon
Dash of Sweet Vermouth
Stir and strain
Serve up in a martini glass
Garnish with a cherry and dream big!











Thursday, July 25, 2013

Laughing Matters

It is a hard fact to accept; that life is often unfair.  Disease, poverty, hunger, natural disasters, and accidents happen to people around the globe.  All sorts of tragic events occur each and every single day.  And yet, somehow, life goes on.

Perhaps over time, we develop a little bit of a thicker skin. Part of growing up is when you are able to accept that life and death go hand in hand: that it is a cycle.  But that acceptance doesn't mean we are completely numb to the pain and heartache that life can often dish out.

Most of the time, I feel pretty good. I go through my life with a certain level of awareness to the fragility of each day.  In fact, growing up, my dad often commented on how fast time goes by and would tell various stories to illustrate just how quickly and cruelly everything can suddenly fall away.  The point was drilled so deeply into the very core of my being that I sometimes fear the most simple of everyday tasks: walking to my car, driving home at night, swimming in the ocean and so on.

While it is wise to live with a certain measure of caution, I can't help but be a little cautious of how easy it could be to become so paralyzed with fear that life becomes a scary pilgrimage, rather than a daring adventure.

Enjoying a midweek day off of work, I sat out on front deck of my parents' house and enjoyed a glass of wine with my dad.  And as we commonly do, my dad and I conversed about how fast time goes by and how precious life really is.

He took a long pause and savored his wine.  I could tell that he was pondering something with some serious weight. And then, in one long breath, he exhaled a story of an employee and friend of our family who is rapidly becoming a bright shining star among us. Not only does he have an incredible work ethic and remarkable physical strength, but he also makes everyone around him laugh. All. Day. Long.

This man, our friend, is a comedian.  No really, he is.

All day and every day, as he is performing the various tasks assigned to him, the guy is performing and perfecting his stand up routine...

We learned recently some surprising news about our friend. Aside from his truly talented knack for humor, and his seemingly tireless work ethic, he is also battling a truly terrifying blood disease known as leukemia.

When he tells you about the day he was diagnosed, Friday the 13th no less, he makes a joke.  While leukemia is no laughing matter, this guy is proving one thing for certain: laughing matters.

I sometimes have absolutely no idea how some of my friends do it.  Some very good people within my circles have faced unthinkable tragedy and grief.  Yet, they soldier on through life with the most beautiful and uplifting physical feature known to man: a smile.

Of course we can't and won't always go through life wearing a big, dopey grin. Everyone is allowed to feel pain, fear, and sorrow. I am well aware of the hardships on the horizon that are as certain as the sunrise.

But there is such a valuable lesson to be learned through the example of people like our friend, the comedian. Laughing matters.

Having a positive attitude is much easier said than done.  I have to remind myself on a daily basis to choose the "glass half full" perspective. It is so easy to get worn down over time by all the negatives.  I could easily find myself complaining of a few aches and pains; literally and metaphorically speaking.

I'm a little tired today. Waaahhh.  And it's a little bit of a bummer to know that I'm about to go to work behind the bar for the next few nights. Booo hooo.  But, when I really think of how good I've got it, I can't help but laugh at myself a little.

Life is funny... It's no joke, but it's worth laughing at every now and then.

Today:

Screwdriver

1oz Vodka
Orange Juice
Simple. Sunny. Delicious.

In loving memory of my Grammy who brought my best friend (my mom) into this world. 








Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Little Victories: Overcoming Frost, Frauds and Felons

Not every battle in life is going to take place between two opposing forces: good vs. evil.  More often than not, our daily battles may be small, irritating hurdles to overcome.  The quest for vengeance, or honor may spring up throughout the course of ones' life for sure, but by and large, our everyday battles are the ones we suit up for and face with valor.

Yesterday, the wind blew hard and relentless. A cold front was upon us.  All day long, the trees swayed viciously; taunting in the way a small child would.  It was like a little bully, sticking out his tongue from behind the shelter of their mothers' arms.  Neeener neener neenerrrrrrrrrrr You can't catch me......

It was damn cold.

Surely the outdoor bar would not open in this weather right? Ehhh WRONG.  Oh well... time to suck it up and get to work.  I pulled up my bootstraps, threw on a sweatshirt and got to work. Who would want to sit outside in this frigid weather and have a frosty, cold one?  Well, first guest of the day, my eldest brother.  This was going to be a long night.

I was happy to have the company, I will tell you that much.  I figured if we were going to do this, then let's do this!  Slowly but surely, people straggled to the bar.  And I have to say in all sincerity, that yesterday I served some of the most genuinely nice and happy people.  We were in it together, and that warmed my heart.

By closing time, my nose was bright red and my fingertips a pale shade of blue. I was ready to sit down, enjoy a dirty martini, and thaw out.  My cell phone buzzed in my pocket.  Hmmm who could this be?  I decided to wait to return the call, as I was at that moment, thoroughly enjoying my dinner and cocktail.

Voicemail: Ms. Kiley, this is the fraud department alerting you to some unusual activity...

Seriously?? The thunder cracked ever so subtly and for a moment, I swear, it sounded like laughter. Time to deal with that little battle.  Frauds. Fakes. Felonies.  It is beyond my comprehension.  How do they get away with this? Why do they do it?

Here I had just spent the past seven hours outside in the biting cold, working for tips, while some jerk was out there pretending to be me, and going on a little shopping spree.

To be honest, I felt a little defeated on the drive home.  Everything I had worked for that night, some fraud had collected and cashed in.  Just when I was about to throw in the towel on the whole damn day, I pulled my car over to the side of the road and took a breath. I thought of the little victories instead.

Yesterday, despite the bone-chilling wind and cold, I had helped make a thirtieth anniversary a little sweeter, a date night away from the kids a little spicier, and a night out with the guys a little funnier.  And in my own small way, I secretly patted myself on the back every time I strained a martini into the glass and saw that I had counted out a perfect pour.  That was a little victory.  Just the perfect free hand pour of gin and olive juice, of vanilla vodka and pineapple, and so on.   

And at the end of the night, when the cash drawer was counted, it was perfectly maintained, to the penny. Small victories I know, but a victor all the same.  And when I spoke to the woman on the phone in the fraud department, she was so reassuring and positive to me.  It was a victory too. There are good days, bad days and blah days. But, I made a choice last night, to count my wins over my losses.

I am okay. I am happy. I am not a fraud. I am not cold. I am a victor.

At that moment, I looked up through my windshield and saw that the sky was clear. The moon's happy face shown down bright on the road that led to home. The stars above gave me a little wink.  The storm had passed.

And today, it's 70 and sunny.  Enjoy the little victories.  They just might make all the difference in your life.

Today:

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini

1 1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Vanilla Vodka
Splash of Pineapple Juice
Grenadine to the bottom of the glass.  
Sugar Rim









Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Walk of Fame/Walk of Shame

Ah the good ole days... Think back for a moment to the great Golden Era of cinema.  The Hollywood heavyweights who ruled the silver screen were considered to be nothing short of American royalty.  Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn were amongst the legendary greats of the old Hollywoodland.

Though I can't be sure, I imagine that back then, when youngsters set their sights on the star-studded path that led to Sunset Boulevard, the general perception was that the Entertainment Industry was in fact an industry.  It's difficult to sum up how the general population must have perceived Showbiz at that time. I often wonder if parents were generally supportive of their little budding stars, or if they were actually mortified by the very thought of their first-born sons hitching a ride down the yellow brick road.

When a young Alfred Hitchcock set his sights on this road less traveled,  was he also faced with a certain measure of skepticism?  You want to go make movies? Wait... Horror films?? Sigh... 

I guess it's safe to say that times have changed and along with it, the industry.  The rise of the internet, as well as sophisticated, tech savvy high-school kids, have paved a new road to Hollyweird.  And the number of ways to "make it" appear more multi-faceted than ever before.

Various incentives for filmmakers have sprung up nationwide. The competition to lure Hollywood away from its cozy kingdom of L.A. la  land is a constant and ever changing pursuit. Bring your business to other states and even, other countries, where the production costs are less than in the darling Golden State.

And yet Hollywood, however weird, reigns supreme.

All of these thoughts were running through my mind as I sat outside the front door of this truly wonderful "mom and pop" style book store.  This town is home to many true Independents.  The locals, who are active in the community, support these privately owned businesses as well as their operators: they buy, sell, and produce local.

So is it any wonder that this enchanted little gem of a town is now home to the Traverse City Film Festival? Independents and veterans alike swarm to this community every summer for this prestigious event.  Great films and fantastic entertainment have arrived. Top notch support from patrons, volunteers and city government officials.

I pulled my nose out of my book for a moment to catch a glimpse of the flickering lights of the Old State Theater just two doors down.  And then, without a hitch,  as if I was in a Hitch film myself, two elderly women sat down side by side behind me.  They were almost perfectly matched.  Both, nearly identical.  Short silver haired bobs and matching nautical striped blouses, made up what could have easily been mistaken for jail bird attire from way back when. And I couldn't help but overhear...

"Well, my grandson is in college and wants to get into filmmaking," she sighed.

And as if she were looking at her own reflection, her companion chimed in without missing a beat, "Oh dear... What is he actually going to do for a living? He's in his third year of school. He better get a more realistic plan."

I have to be honest that the entire experience was a little depressing. Here we are, in now what is one of the most prominent communities for promoting and supporting the entertainment industry and yet the perception of that career path is still chalked up as more of a walk of shame than a walk of fame.

The path leading to Monet's pond, where he painted the famed Water Lilies, may have been a lonely one.  And I'm sure that a great treasury of artists have sojourned onward to the lands just under the rainbow. What a bleak picture the great Museums around the world would look like if these soldiers of expression had not marched on.

How sad indeed the world would appear if the glistening lights of the silver screen went out.  I can't even imagine such a place.

I can appreciate the point of view that we need to be practical.  I understand that to pursue film, or any other creative venture for that matter, seems quite unrealistic. The roll of the eyes is merely a scratch at the surface of the opposition and doubt an artist will encounter throughout the course of their journey.

I would encourage our respective elders to try and promote the young artists in our communities.  And I would also encourage these young artists (myself included) to be prepared, resourceful and armed with a number of practical skill sets that span beyond the creative path.

We may not be in Kansas anymore, but can you imagine if we never saw Oz?  If we are to be great, and paint our own masterpieces, we must face criticism, skepticism and practicality with heads held high.  The glow of a thousand great Stars illuminate the path, if you just keep believing.

Today:

A Black Dahlia

1 1/2 oz Vodka
1 oz Creme de Cassis
Splash of Lemonade
Shake and strain 
Serve up in a martini glass
Sugar Rim










Monday, July 22, 2013

Mid-Summer Nightmare

I was racing, rushing and frantic.  The tickets were pouring out: three Key Lime Martinis, four Blueberry Mojitos, six Rum Runners and so on. I was tearing the tickets and throwing down drinks as fast as possible, but it just wasn't nearly fast enough.  To make matters worse, a woman with a dominant figure and obtrusive posture stood over my shoulder; watching and waiting.

She was studying my every move: my pours, the way I mixed and muddled.  Her ominous presence was similar to that of the Grim Reaper.  Like some dark, shadowy threat, she waited for me to slip up.  But then I looked up for a moment from behind the bar and realized where I was: I was on a film set.

Cast and crew scurried about from one side to another, dragging along lights, ropes, tripods and props.  Then a hand slammed down on the bar, wide-open and urgent.  Back to work  I told myself.  This was some twisted nightmare.  On the one hand, it felt like a sweet dream: feeling a pull to join the cast and crew on set.  I knew I could be a huge asset to the production and it felt so right to be there.  On the other hand: what a sick nightmare!  It was like a cruel joke, to still be behind a bar, serving drinks to all the people who were doing what I wanted to be doing for a living!!

I woke up this morning with a stomach cramp.  Ugh, that was a strange dream. It was like my subconscious was shouting out a glaring reminder of what my future could look like if I didn't keep trying to pursue my dreams: my everyday dreams.

I have heard of many other people having a serving nightmare. Through the years working in restaurants, it is a common occurrence. Did the order come out wrong again!? I'm so in the weeds! It's the horrible feeling of never being able to catch up.  And it's not a fun thing to dream about after already exhausted from a long night at work.

But are these server nightmares actually serving a purpose?

I'm beginning to think that they do.  Most people I have encountered throughout the past few years of working in the service industry were all pursuing something else.  They had various dreams: musicians, police officers, teachers, writers, artists, massage therapists, actors and so on. And waiting tables was what they were doing while they waited for their various ships to come in.

Maybe these nightmares are in fact serving our dreams in some way.  Keep going. Keep moving. Work smarter and harder. And don't let the haunting and anxious visions of your dreams become your lifelong reality.

I imagine that when I am doing what I am passionate about, I will have nightmares about that too.  I suppose when you work really hard at anything, you get a little obsessed.  But nightmares can push you closer to your dreams, if you are able to sleep through the night.

I'm curious. Do you have nightmares about your job too? Do they serve you?  Or are they just a cruel reminder of the threat of failure? Perhaps both? What do you think?

Today:

Dark and Stormy

Gosling's Black Seal Rum
Ginger Beer
Served on the rocks in a highball glass





Sunday, July 21, 2013

SPECTRUMS


When I was a little kid, even before I had all my grown up teeth, I believed in love. In the most innocent way, wide-eyed and na├»ve… I believed. 

But then in the third grade, I learned a hard lesson.  There was a boy in school who was often picked on by other kids.  He was a little awkward sure, but that is no reason to tease the poor guy.  So I decided, much like a super hero would, that I could fix it.  I was popular in school and got along with everyone. I imagined that somehow, people would treat him better if they associated us to be friends. So, I began to say hi to him everyday in class. I would make jokes with him and trade snacks from our sack lunches.  Before I knew it, everyone was noticing.  And it felt good.

Then one day, this boy came to school with a bunch of yellow daffodils that were wrapped in a damp paper towel and crinkled foil.  He asked me to be his girlfriend.  It was a truly awful moment. I thought, Oh God what have I done?  All this time, I was just trying to give the guy a break and now he wanted more than I had ever intended. 

Well, I thought that the kindest thing to do was to accept his offer.  I went home that afternoon with the sinking feeling in my stomach that this wasn’t going to work out very well.  When my dad got home from the office that night I decided to discuss the situation with him.  My dad was the smartest guy I knew and at the very least, I thought he would be really proud of me for being such a nice girl. 

I explained the situation to him. Then my dad took a long pause and finally said, “Honey, it’s nice that you wanted to include him and make him feel special, but you shouldn’t be someone’s girlfriend just because you feel sorry for him.”

Oh crap.  I knew what I had to do.  The very next day, I broke up with him.  I was nice about it, and probably said something like, it’s not you it’s me.

From that day on, people were a little nicer to him, but not completely.  And I realized that this whole business of love was actually pretty complicated.  I just wanted people to be nicer to him and somehow, in the end, I fear that I may have hurt his feelings far more than anyone else had. Furthermore, I realized that I put myself into a very awkward situation simply out of the desire to manage how other people treated this boy.

Some time has passed since the third grade; I am a big girl now with all of my grown up teeth. I am not quite as wide-eyed and naive as I was back then.  But I still believe in love.

See, it was from a place of love that I sought to help this boy gain acceptance from our peers.  I thought I could make his world a better place by treating him equally. 

Maybe the entire situation didn’t unfold exactly as I had hoped it would.  But I did learn a little something about creating a healthy relationship with myself as well as with others and how important it is to protect and create personal boundaries.

But just as important as it is to protect your heart, it is probably equally, if not more important, to figure out how to keep it open.

I love people: the whole spectrum.  And it is unfortunate that so many people are picked on throughout the course of their entire lives. Most of the time, they are picked on for being different. But are we not all very different??

I cannot pretend to know or understand what it is like to walk in your shoes. And you cannot possibly pretend to know all the quirks and kinks in my laces either.  But if you try to keep an open mind, and an open heart, you may be lucky enough to have a full spectrum of love in your life.  Love in Technicolor and an entire treasury of friends.  

Today:

Raspberry Lemonade
Stoli Razz 
Lemonade 
Build on the rocks.

 DANCE TO THIS SONG!! IT'S SO GOOD...
Safe and Sound by Capital Cities



Saturday, July 20, 2013

Knee Jerks

When a little child gets upset, you'd better be ready for it. The temper tantrums of toddlers can be epic. They will scream, sob and throw themselves to the ground in what appears to be nothing short of agony.  I have witnessed this firsthand while perusing through the aisles of the grocery store.  But what is even worse than a two year old throwing a temper tantrum? It is when a seemingly mature adult reacts without thinking.  This phenomenon is called a "Knee-jerk reaction."

You've all had a physical right? It's that dreaded routine check-up where the doctor gives you a thorough once-over.  My least favorite moment, aside from every other moment in between, is when he thumps your knee at just the right angle with that miniature sized hammer, prompting an involuntary muscle movement (i.e. a knee-jerk reaction).

Much like how our physical bodies react without thinking, so too can our emotions. This can be a very dangerous thing. All sorts of horrific occurrences in life can often be traced back to the moment a person, or even whole groups of people react. But we all know this much is true as well, that what goes up must come down, and that for every action, there is a reaction.  It is a ripple effect... and sometimes, a tidal wave.

Yesterday proved to be an interesting day for my brother.  The day began like any other, relaxed and contemplative over a cup of coffee. He was scrolling through the various daily news articles online when he received an email from a former business colleague.  In short, the email alerted my brother to several slandering social media posts that a certain person was writing all over various communities of cyber-space.  It was extremely unnerving.

The individual was accusing him of not paying for a service rendered, that he had in fact paid for. It was an aggressive attack on his reputation in this very small town.  The person not only wrote on their own social media walls about what a bleep bleeping bleep they thought he was, but they also went to his former place of business and left really accusatory comments there as well.

He was furious.  He went to the individual's place of employment and spoke with the owner of the business. When they were discussing what had happened, it was actually the person who was slandering my brother  who entered the payment information incorrectly to begin with!  I highly doubt the person will admit to that error on all the many public forums where so many negative posts were made. It is unfortunate.

And yet, what is fortunate is to behave with a certain measure of respectability.  Thankfully, my brother is not the type of guy who sets out on vengeful quests or gives in to knee-Jerks.  That would be even worse.  One misunderstanding can lead to five and then to fifteen.  Before you know it, that little ripple in the pond now has the force of a thousand waves behind it, destroying everything that was built on seemingly safe shores.

We are all guilty of being a bit of a knee-jerk from time to time.  I have certainly had my fair share of flip-outs, freak-outs and knee-jerks. No one is perfect. But how we handle the aftermath, the clean-up of these destructive waves, can be what makes the difference in our communities. Can we admit when we were wrong? Can we admit we acted poorly when we felt wronged? Are we able to slow down and think before we act? Or are we content to be a bunch of volatile time-bombs, reacting on a hair-pin trigger?

My hope is that we all try to get along.  Or in the very least, throw a life line to those who got swept away by the surging effects of the storm.  In the millisecond before you react, try to remember your true nature, our imperfect nature, and act like a good human being.

Today:

Lifesaver Cocktail

1oz Midori Melon Liquor 
1oz Bacardi Lt. Rum
Splash of Pineapple juice
Stir and strain 
Can be served up or on the rocks.






Friday, July 19, 2013

TGIF??

Fridays.  For most, this is a happy day.  It is the end of a long week and the sign that in a few short hours, it will be time to kick back and relax.  But for most of my friends and myself included, Fridays are really considered the middle of our work week.  We mentally prepare ourselves the way athletes do before a 1/2 marathon.  We psych ourselves out. We prepare for success.

The past two days were my version of a nice relaxing weekend.  While most 9 to 5'ers went about their daily grind, I was basking in the sun of a midweek beach day.  I packed up an ice chest full of Lime-a-Ritas, some magazines and my cell phone (though I wasn't planning on being "available" if you know what I mean).  

I had a less than stellar week at work, with my last shift at the bar proving far less than lucrative.  It was hot outside.  The mid-July heat is so intense this week that even your eyelids sweat, without really even moving too much.  I was seriously melting.  It was 97 degrees and was too hot for anyone to want to sit outside at the bar.  I was exhausted.  So when I knew that for the next couple days I didn't have to go to work, I was more than ready to enjoy that time off. 

And I did.  Yesterday I never left the house.  I stumbled down to the river's edge and set up camp.  This is a scenario where the 95+ degree weather is not only welcomed, it's thoroughly enjoyed.  When it became too intensely hot, I finally willed myself to jump into the refreshingly cool waters of the river. I let the swift current take me for a ride before swimming back upstream to our house.  I felt like a kid again.  

Well, as all good things have a way of going by too fast, my time away from the bar was no exception. And today is equivalent to the feeling of going back to work on Monday.  

Fridays are hectic at bars. People are generally friendly though because they are all so happy it's finally the weekend.  And in that respect, it's nice to show up somewhere for work where all your clients are stoked out of their minds.  And if they aren't, I am the person who can turn that around real quick. 

It's not that I want to promote alcohol as being some magical cure.  In reality, you might be surprised to learn that I personally have a low tolerance to both alcohol and those who abuse it.  But when the mood strikes for a nice cocktail after a long hard week, I can appreciate it as much as the next person.  

Fridays for most of my friends in the service industry is just another day at work.  It's nothing too special.  But however drab the weekends are to me nowadays, I would not go back to the Monday through Friday "grown up" jobs unless it was actually what I wanted to be doing.  

I have worn many hats over the years before I hung up my unflattering office wear.  Let's see, I have worked in dermatology, dentistry, education, photography, and copy editing before finding my way behind a bar.  All of those random jobs taught me one very important thing: I am not a winning rat in the rat-race. That little wheel was for me, a vortex where all creative energy is vanquished and sucked into the abyss.  I would come home and all I could think about were dental x-rays, laser skin treatments or having a camera manual actually thrown at my head by one very temper-mental photographer.  

Those were some tough jobs comparatively speaking. Sure, I still have to get up and go to work like everyone else. And sure, I come home exhausted and sometimes literally fried; but the measure of flexibility I am afforded is worth it... for now

In an attempt to psych myself out for what I imagine will be a busy Friday night at work, I will take a moment to dream a little.  

In a few months, I will be on my way to New York City.  I will have created a business plan for my production company and perhaps will even be reading over scripts and aligning projects with appropriate funding.  I will get up early in the morning and stretch my legs to run my very own little rat-race. Like Mighty Mouse, I will kick some ass and fly by those obstacles that stand in my way.  I will get the cheese. 

In the meantime, I need to have one more cup of coffee, get showered, and get ready to go do some hard time behind bars. And when Monday rolls around, back to the beach I'll go... saying, "Thank God it's Monday."

Happy Friday ya'll.  

Today: 

Homemade Sangria

One bottle of Red Wine
1 shot of Michigan Cherry liquor
1 shot of Triple Sec
1/2 20 oz bottle of Orange Soda
One cup of frozen mixed berries
Muddle berries with the Triple Sec and Cherry liquor
Combine with Red wine and stir ingredients together. 
Pour over ice in a large wine glass. 

2010 Grind


2012 Grind

...no windows in the equipment room.

... an office with a view... 2013. 


    









Thursday, July 18, 2013

Skylines

For the past seven weeks, I wake up every morning to the most enchanting view out of my window.  For the summer, I am living in a two bedroom loft style apartment in the woods with my older brother.  The place is so quiet and serene, it would be so easy to lose all sense of time.

My room sits on the back side of the building and is quietly tucked away into the tree tops. The vast forest canopy provides enough of a screen from the morning sun that I don't need any drapes at all.  The mornings are lovely.  

The light creeps in ever so gently and I wake up to the sway of the tree branches; their arms extended to the sky in what appears to be a collective form of praise.  And I wonder, as I stretch out my arms too,  how much longer will I wake up to this sight?  I imagine where I will go from here, and the vastly different sights, sounds and smells that will pull me from sleep. 

When I lived in Hollywood over five years ago, I would often wake up to the neighbor's dog barking, the street sweepers loud trucks going up and down, and the various honks and beeps of nearly by traffic on Melrose avenue.  Neighbors would speak in Spanish and in broken English and I would try to understand the words. Metal bars over the windows created ominous shadows across the bedroom walls. But I loved it.

And then when I moved to Tennessee; the morning air was so thick with humidity it was like waking up sweaty and disoriented in a sleeping bag on a five year camping trip. It took almost a year to get used to the intense change in climate. The views from my window each morning would change ever so slightly as the seasons would too. Red Cardinals, Blue Jays and Mockingbirds were all friendly neighbors.  And every Saturday, the shrill of a tornado siren would sound far and wide for about one minute to test the emergency system regularly.    But I loved it there too. 

Now I live in a modernized tree house. 

In a few months I will embrace what is for me, the ultimate skyline: Manhattan.  I suppose I am a little nervous to embark upon such a drastically different change of scenery.  But it is no accident that I chose to come and hide out in the woods first.  New York is calling.  And with each day that passes, I hear her haunting voice echoing through the trees.  

Patience and persistence will get me there. 

It's not that I have some grand, well thought out master plan.  It's simply the next place for me to go.  Life is an adventure.  I want to answer the call while I am free and able to do so.  

It's difficult to articulate why this is an important component to my dream.  I sometimes don't fully understand it either.  But when you feel the pull of your dreams, you have to follow it.  And that is what I am doing.  I don't have any misguided beliefs about life in New York.  It's not like I think it will be easy or will suddenly change my actual current set of circumstances.  

I know that I am working and will continue to work very hard to get there, and even harder to stay there (if only for a short period of time).  

People work hard for all kinds of reasons.  I serve my dreams each and every day. To be able to live and experience and write about all sorts of skylines is one very delicious piece to my dream pie. One day, I hope that what I am doing for a living will be a dream slice too.  But until then, I will keep looking out these window frames, applauding with the clap of the leaves, rejoicing where I am today. 

So tell me... do you want a slice? Because I am pretty sure that everything delicious in life is better when shared. 


Today:

Key Lime Pie

2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Triple Sec
Splash of pineapple juice
Squeeze of lime
Shake and strain into a martini glass
Rim with crushed graham crackers











Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Alpha-Dogs and Underdogs

Have you ever seen the way dogs interact for the very first time? They sniff, circle, wag, bark, mount, spray and lick.  Some dogs puff and boast their chests in a dominant way, while others tuck their tails and submit.

If you have seen this interaction before, I imagine you have also been able to detect which animals are the more dominant. This inherent nature stems back to the beginning of time, when the basic survival instinct was in practice at every single moment.  And to that point,  pack leaders are vital to the survival of the entire family.  

So let's take this a step further. 

Two men were sitting at the bar last night having a long venting session.  They were both very frustrated with the women in their lives.  That part was very apparent.  I wasn't necessarily paying any attention to the specifics of their conversation as I was busy making drinks for other bar guests.  But after a few drinks, one of the men asked me a question that has plagued the male species over and over again in our own animal kingdom. "Why do women go for jerks?"

I was so caught off guard I had to completely stop whatever I was in the middle of doing.  "Why do women fall for jerks?" 

I thought about it for a moment while wiping down the bar-top with a damp towel.  I thought back to my own previous relationships.  Some of the men I have fallen in love with have had a little bit of jerky tendencies for sure.  But of course, I imagine that I am no picnic to live with at times either...

I thought of my parent's relationship and other successful marriages.  What makes it work? Are there established roles? Who is tucking their tale? Is it a trade off? 

After a moment of serious contemplation, this is what I surmised.  "Gentlemen, I think women are actually attracted to assholes because what they are really looking for is an Alpha male. And the two are often confused to be one in the same."

They were astonished. "YES! That makes SO much sense!"  And then they were off to the races.  "But we are good guys! It's so unfair!" 

If I were to be perfectly honest with myself, I would say that I am definitely attracted to alpha males.

An Alpha has traits that are vital for survival. Alphas can be both men and women. It is simply a term used to describe a certain number of traits.  Leadership, dominance, assertiveness are characteristics that are appealing to me.  In fact I am actually an Alpha personality.  

However, when it comes to choosing a mate, women often follow their own primal instincts of seeking the strongest animal in the pack. I have heard time and time again that a woman values security above anything else. Women want to feel safe and secure.  So we gravitate toward the men who appear confident and secure.  Unfortunately, confidence can be easily confused with dominant, aggressive behavior and over inflated egos; i.e assholes.

What do women mean when they talk about security? Most men assume that security means one thing: money. This however is a very limited scope of the entire concept.  Although, I can only really speak for myself and not for the entire female species. Oh what the hell, it's my blog. 

Security is in part financial only because of basic survival instincts.  When the female is close to giving birth, they are well aware that there will be a certain period of time when they must rely on their mate to provide support and care. It is a physical and emotional shift.  

Security above all else means feeling safe.  

We all love a good story of the underdog winning the race.  And we've all heard the saying that"Nice guys finish last." 

I hope I have learned my lesson by now.  I hope that I have matured enough to delineate between an alpha male and just a plain old jerk.  

Because I think women don't set out to fall for the bad boy.  When we are young and rebellious, maybe that plays into it.  But as we grow up, we hopefully wise up too.  

Is it so wrong to hope to find a loyal and sensitive man who can also chop wood, build a fire and bring home the bacon? Even if only metaphorically speaking? Is it so hard to find? 

Or are we incapable of seeing the difference? 

For all you out there who feel like the underdog, my advice is to stay true to yourself.  Don't feel sorry for yourself either. A smart woman will come along eventually.  Just don't be surprised if she's had a few bad dogs in her past. We are all survivalists in some respect.  And hopefully, our instincts will lead us back to our true nature... to our pack. 

Ladies: stop confusing assholes with alphas.  

Gentlemen: Please do the same.


Today:

Salty Dog

1 1/2 oz Vodka
Splash of Grapefruit Juice
Salted Rim

Loyal Dogs, Dudes and Dads: