Thursday, June 29, 2006

Aimee, Assisting, and Aspirations

Greetings friends and family and acquaintances (I think I butchered that one) to another installment in A RAMBLER'S RAMBLING. This will be the final post for the month of June, bringing the grand total to 151. Can you believe it? I can't. My goal is to have 181 posts by August 15 (the One-Year Anniversary of A.R.R.) which would mean I posted (as an average) every other day. I think that's impressive. Now, of course, I did not keep up that consistency every month. However, a month like last September (2005), I posted more often. So, because I always feel the need to prove things I say, here are the actual rundowns of posts per month:

- August 2005: 16 (in half a month)
- September 2005: 26 (wow!)
- October 2005: 22
- November 2005: 20
- December 2005: 15 (the slippage continues. . .)
- January 2006: 10
- February 2006: 11
- March 2006: 10
- April 2006: 3 (ok, that's bad - I was very busy at school, though)
- May 2006: 11 (a comeback of sorts)
- June 2006: 7 (with this one - remember, I was gone for two weeks. .)

I'm completely content with all of this. I am so happy I started doing this, and I hope to continue for awhile. As long as I want to do it, I will. My writing has improved (in my opinion) since the beginning, so I think thegoal in even taking a stab at this has been achieved (at least partially). Well I have about 47 days (that's a coincidence friends - and an inside joke) to do those 30 posts remaining. I can do it. And I will. . .

Anywho, since we last talked (or rather, I typed) we've experienced Tuesday, Wednesday, and today. Tuesday was a really long day, but a really cool one. I had to wake up at 0800 to prepare myself for my first day of assisting my old high school basketball coach. Allow me to explain: "T" (Mr. Thomas) was my basketball coach during my junior and senior years. He was also my Bible teacher in 10th grade and I've known him since 5th. Needless to say, we have a good relationship, and I really respect the man (both as a coach and a friend). As you know (if you've read my ramblings with any consistency), I tried to help him out last year at practices as much as my busy schedule would allow. I failed a majority of the time (in appearing, not in the actual assisting). But now, as it's the Summer, and I have no life, I am going to be able to appear at the Summer Open Gym opportunity. The only catch: T is coaching Girls Varsity this year! So, instead of helping out guys, I'm helping girls. One of these girls is my sister, Aimee, who is going to be a Freshman at DCHS this year (don't get me started on that one!).

Too late, you already got me going. So my sister is 14 and going into HS. I am so proud of all she is doing (dance, school, sports) and excelling at. She works pretty dang hard at school and she is very successful in what she is doing (just like her big bro ha ha). Aimee and I haven't been able to spend as much time together as is desired because of our equally busy schedules. However, since she is doing this basketball thing, that's an easy two-three hours a day that we're hanging out - this is cool. You see, Aimee's a really cool girl. Honestly, I think it has to do with being around my friends and I when they're around. She already "experienced" HS when I went through it and has a bountiful source for HS advice in me. All that to be said, she's gonna do just fine at the HS thing, and I'm still in denial about the whole thing.

Ok, so the basketball thing. Well it's cool. We're teaching them basics (gotta P.B. and J it to start) and they're slowly picking it up. I'm actually hoping that I can work my work/school/life schedule around working with them during their actual season. That would be a cool experience. So, yeah, we did that on all three mornings this week (Aimee didn't go today, though, cuz she had a previously scheduled engagement).

Tuesday, after the practice was over, was Sibling Day. Well, just Two Sibling Day. Aimee and I essentially hung out all day. After the practice, we went home and got ourselves cleaned up and then headed out on errands aplenty. I dropped off my check at our Credit Union (it was the one from training - good, but not the "big bucks" I had hoped for) and then we headed to the Mall for lunch and such. We also stopped by BEST BUY (had to pick up the DASHBOARD CD - Pretty good, but not as good as their old stuff) and TARGET (Aimee bought a girls basketball - yeah, they use different sized balls in the girls game. They're lighter and a bit smaller. No jokes please. This is a PG blog... Sometimes). We ate at GREAT STEAK and then went on a hunt for new basketball shoes for her (the only ones she had were from her Middle School days - way too small). During our hunt, we saw that the PRINTS PLUS store (a poster store) was having a "Going Out of Business" Sale. I made a bee-line for the store and began browsing for anything I could find. I found two prints that I got for about 60% off at least (usually $16, I got em for $6). One was the original "Dogs Playing Poker" Artwork and the other was an incredible looking print that I just had to have:

- - -

Cool, huh? (O and I also bought Aimee an O.C. poster for $3). Next we went to Foot Locker, Finish Line, and even Lady Foot Locker and had absolutely no luck finding shoes for her. So we left the Mall and went to Sport Chalet and were outta there in 10 minutes with a new pair of basketball shoes for her. I took her home to change and then I took her to her Dance practice (she has a ginormous recital on Saturday). I headed home and puttered around til later that night when Aimee and I went to CINEMARK 22 for the 2200 showing of SUPERMAN RETURNS. I love these "Midnight Showings" (yeah, this one was a bit earlier). The experiences are great and it's fun to see a movie before it's "Release Date". O yeah, the movie. SUPERMAN was good, but not great. It wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't super. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. Brandon Routh was fine as Clark/Superman (I don't know what critics were expecting - it's Superman!) and I loved Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor (I knew he would be the best part of the movie). Overall, it was a fun film with good effects and a solid enough story that it keeps your attention for the tad-long 150-some minutes. (Grade: B)

We got home around 0045 and I was asleep by 0115. We went to basketball in the morning and then. . . I can't remember. I worked Wednesday night at 1800 and it was pretty slow. July is the worst month for restaurants apparently. Bummer.

Today, I got a call this morning from my GM saying I didn't need to come in tonight because he is trying to cut back on labor and only wants one TT during the week. It's a bummer because I only will get 10 hours this week (weak sauce) and minimal total tips, but you know what, I gotta enjoy this downtime. That's the only way I can stay sane later when I'm too busy to stop and smell any flower. So I watched DONNIE BRASCO, a good gangster film starring Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, and Michael Madsen this afternoon. Good film. Johnny Depp is awesome in anything pretty much. (Grade: B+)

I am now tired of blogging for the night. I'm gonna go to bed here in a bit. I gotta get up early to do a work thing at 0900 tomorrow. It's not work, but something else. I'll tell you about the stupidity in a couple days. Busy weekend ahead. Heather comes home tomorrow night for Aimee's Saturday recital. Basically, I'm stoked. Heather just makes me happy. Period. End of Post.

- - - "I'm a pilgrim on the edge,
on the edge of my perception
We are travelers at the edge,
we are always at the edge of our perceptions."

- - - Scott Mutter (Photographer of above linked art - this poem of his is on the art; not sure what it means, but I think it's weak poetry cuz the rhyme scheme sucks. That's my crappy opinion. I like the picture, not the poetry ha ha)



Monday, June 26, 2006

The Weekend Grab-Bag: The All-About Timing Version

Happy Monday to you all!

This here Grab-Bag will feature events pertaining to the days of Thursday June 22 to Sunday June 25. Just so you know. And remember, as in most Grab-Bags, the following is in no way chronological. . .

- I viewed three movies in the theatre realm this past weekend. In a nice touch, all of them are featured in my SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW. Now, of the original 26 films featured on that list, I have seen six. Only six. I'm working on it, give me a break! I actually would like to switch my wild-card pick (MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND) with a movie that has just dropped like a fifty-pound weight in a pool (LITTLE MAN - the absolute retardation featured in this film's longer trailer completely turned me off). So now that I have that off my chest, allow me to recommend only one of the last three movies I've seen - - OVER THE HEDGE, an absolutely fun experience in a childish sort of way. My man-crush (thanks for the title, Emily) on Steve Carell certainly aided in my appreciation of the film (and his character, Hammy), but either way, I really enjoyed it. Go see it as a family - this is one of the few "fun for everyone" films. (Grade: B). I also saw CLICK (Grade: C) and THE OMEN (Grade: C-) this past weekend, but neither did enough to make them recommendable. THE OMEN entertained me (and also creeped me out a bit) but wasn't that good of a film, per se. Let's just say I laughed more than I was scared. CLICK was actually a drama with several immature moments. I would actually like to see this movie redone but as a serious dramatic piece... O wait! It's already been done! I consider this film a lot like THE CHRISTMAS CAROL, you know, the story about Ebenezer Scrooge??? Yeah, quite similar. If Adam Sandler hadn't had his few funny scenes, this would have been a different type of film for him. However, he always has to have that scene where he farts in someone's face. Serious Sandler? Almost, but not quite. . .

- I've been watching a lot of the WORLD CUP. Well, not a lot, but a whole heck of a lot more than I usually watch. I'm really amazed by the athleticism of the players out there. The way they time their actions (sense a word usage here. . . think "the title") out on the field and all - let's just say that it impresses me. I'm rooting for England (not sure why) and Ghana (cuz no one expects them to win). We'll see. It's fun to have a sport ongoing that's not as boring as watching grass grow (that would be regular season baseball).

- I worked Thursday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning. I worked about 18 hours over those three days, which is funny, because at the opening I would do that in a day and a half. Work is work. My GM frustrates me, one of my fellow TTs frustrates me, and stupid servers frustrate me (but there are only a few of those). I know, I know, that's the way work is. But honestly, I am looking forward to trying to get into an occupation that I, o I don't know, enjoy! If my dream came true, and I was an NBA announcer for ESPN, ABC, or some other sort of deal, I can't imagine having gripes and complaints. It's what I want to do. How can what you want be frustrating???? (That's tongue-in-cheek, by the by - I know that everything in this world is frustrating. That's the cynic in me)

- Friday was HEATHERday. I went and saw her and we got to hang out all day! It was such a great day, and can only be explained by the smile that never left my face (except when we were watching CLICK ha ha!). We went to JOHNNY ROCKET'S for lunch (yummy in my belly), did the double feature (CLICK and OVER THE HEDGE back to back - that was fun. It was almost more fun planning it out and figuring out the timing of the whole situation. CLICK ended and OTH began ten minutes later. Great stuff), had some Dippin' Dots (they had an actual store by the theatre we were at - like a Coldstone - and this is something I've been trying to find since I first discovered the wonderful ice cream treat at SIX FLAGS), went to CLAIM JUMPERS (can't go wrong there) and had some us time that only we can appreciate. You see, we always say that others would be honestly sickened by listening to us together. I can't explain it in real words, because the English language has no words that describe how I feel about my FF (future fiance' :D ). Time spent with her is good time. Great time. Absolutely enthralling and exhilirating time (you see, I can't even start to describe it with these futile words!).

- Today is PayDay (no not the candy bar). I get my first taste of my OPENING money. Hopefully that's a good thing. . .

- One of my favorite bands (definitely top 5), DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL, has a new CD coming out on Tuesday. I will definitely be buying that on Tuesday. Yes indeed.

I think that's good enough for now. I don't really have much more to say, actually. O well... Enjoy your week everyone (and go see SUPERMAN RETURNS this week - I might be going to a 2200 Tuesday night show the night before it's release, this is still TBA - cuz it looks awesome!).

- - -

Until later,


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Enter Witty Title Here

You know, after two weeks of not blogging (or not blogging consistently), it's very hard to get back into the swing of things. Work tonight caused me to be home at 2330 as well, so that also makes blogging difficult. I'll do my best to get a little out for you. I know you need me. . .

(O, and blog titles are really hard to come up with. I have tried throughout the time that it's taken me to write all of the rest of this - I'm writing this little bit after all that's after it; isn't that trippy? - and I can't come up with anything good. Natalia, a fellow trainer of mine who remains in Downey for a third week, mentioned that I could just do what I ended up titling this one. I like it. You come up with a title for once! Ha...)

Random movie recommendations:
- KISS KISS, BANG BANG (Grade: A+): Wow. This movie is so smartly written (Shane Black - also the director - is a freakin' genius) and I was drawn into the film in the first thirty seconds. Loved it. However. It's not for everyone. But it was for me (I'm a gigantic Robert Downey Jr. fan) and I completely recommend it. One of the best films of last year (probably second, only behind CRASH) and I'm moving it into my TOP 30, maybe even TOP 10. Yes, I liked it that much!
- DAVE CHAPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY (Grade: B+): Very funny (anything with Dave is) and very cool music. Also not for everyone. If you don't like rap, R&B, or Chapelle's comedy (including mucho profanity) then this film is not for you. If you are a fan of any or all of the above mentioned characteristics, then you should go rent this movie tomorrow. Do it, before someone else who read this beats you to Blockbuster!

So at work tonight, I was kinda wigging out. You see, the Downey restaurant we just opened up looks exactly the same as my home restaurant in Palmdale. There are just a couple miniscule differentiations. 1) It's backwards. Or inside out. I don't know how'd you put it, but either way, the two restaurants are exact mirror images of each other. And when I say mirror, I mean like when you read your shirt in the mirror and have no idea what it says. Get it? So, Table 50 is where Table 20 should be, and all that jazz. It's weird. 2) The floor is a different color! At Downey, it was an orangish, woodish color. Palmdale has black floor. What a difference! Our restaurant is dark, kinda dreary. The other one was bright, inviting, and nicer looking. Ours is busier. We win. 3) Palmdale people rock! I missed my managers (some of them - Jennifer and Tim fo sho.... wait that's all but one...) and I missed the servers that like me back home. Tonight was fun because I got to work with Chris, a TT that I really like working with. We make a good team. I'm happy I'm home. That's pure and simple.

Well I'm going to retire for the evening because I wanna wake up and watch the U.S.A. - GHANA game in the morning. Wait! You haven't been watching the WORLD CUP??!!?? Let me tell you what's goin down: I never watch soccer. I never play soccer. But every four years (kinda like the Olympics and elections) I get caught up in the excitement of the WORLD CUP. So here's the dealio with the game in the morning. Both teams need a win to advance (and a win by Italy over the Czech Republic - - not sure about that either) and it's the last chance for both. So because of the time difference (this WORLD CUP is in Germany), the game starts at 0630 or some ungodly hour like that. I'm aiming for an 0800 eye-opening time so I can catch the waning seconds. Minutes. Stoppage time. Whatever.

And I just bought the new RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS cd (entitled Stadium Arcadium). Excellent shtuff! I like it more than By The Way. It's a great buy.

- - For those of you who are sports fans (particularly the greatest sport ever - basketball), my favorite columnist (and fellow blogger) Bill Simmons wrote an outstanding article about the potential fate of the NBA following a Miami Heat championship. Well it happened. Let's hope what he predicts doesn't happen. And until November, when the 06-07 takes off, get better Amare! Here's the link:

Later. By the by, all of you who read this - - you are my inspiration. Goodnight.

The Rambler

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Week Grab-Bag: The Home Again, Home Again (Jiggity Jig) Version

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love home. It's approximately (if I had to guesstimate - - ) eighty-six times better than living out of a hotel in La Palma.

I'd like to begin by welcoming all of the in JOHNNY CARINO'S in Downey staff members who found my note on the Host Stand. Enjoy. And to my fellow trainers who decided to make their way here too (hi Na-ta-ta-talia! - there's your hello!): Welcome. Make yourselves at home. Mi casa es su casa. Yo hablo poquito espanol. Taco. Burrito. Quesadilla.....

So I am now back home in wonderful Lancaster. My week was uber-long (did I use "uber" correctly there?) and I'm really glad it's over. I managed a measly 58 hours this week (nothing in comparison to the 61 of the previous week...) and that gives me a total of 119 hours over two weeks time. I don't work that much in a month at my store (restaurant, not store)! Either way, my week flew by at times, and lagged at times. But no matter what happened (and what didn't), it's all over, and I've now reclaimed my throne in my manor. The Rambler has returned.

I'm planning a second week recap for tomorrow, as tonight I am kinda sleepy (four hours of sleep will do that to you - hey, it was our last night together as trainers!). I'm waffling between watching KISS KISS, BANG BANG or DAVE CHAPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY (both arrived from Netflix while I was gone). I'm leaning towards KISS. Yes. That is what I'm going to do.

Goodnight for now - - and stay safe Downey, CA. Watch out for crazy serial killers holed up in apartments across from a shopping mall. . .

- - - "You know how you laugh? You smile and then let go!"
- - - The brother (almost 5 now) at dinner tonight. Priceless

Later Later,

Baby J

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Week Grab: The All-Things New Version

Well hello there!!!

Could you imagine a new post from the traveling, ever-working, JOHNNY CARINO'S trainer. Well imagine no more - cuz here is a new post!

It's Sunday and it's my day off. I'm at Heather's apartment, but she's at work right now. So I figured since I can't watch TV (no cable here) I would give you some sort of an update on my busy busy busy (did I mention busy?) week.

I arrived in Downey on Monday around noon time. I checked into the hotel that I would be ultimately living out of for two weeks and then called Christi, the Team Leader at the Downey Opening. For those of you who don't know (or didn't read my previous posts) I'm in Downey serving as the (and that means only) Table Tender trainer for the brand new JC that has been put up here. As a trainer, I have to teach classrooms, demonstrate, critique, and ultimately rule over 10 Table Tenders. This has been a completely new and exciting time for me. Not only am I banking (trainer-pay baby!), but I'm actually producing the TTs that will be representing that restaurant. However, all of this comes at a price. And for us JC trainers, that price is sleep. Our work week (Monday-Sunday) just completed and my time card says that I worked 60.75 hours this week. No, I did not put the period in the wrong spot. I averaged 10 hours a day for six straight days. Now, I worked about six hours on two of those days, so what does that tell you about the other four? I had upwards of thirteen hours recorded on some days this week. My work to sleep ratio is roughly 2:1 seeing that I averaged around 5 hours of sleep a night.

Back to the actual training process. I have six AM TT and I have four PM TT. Of these ten staff members, two of them are what we call "S.T.'s". They are called this because that means they are "s-t-ruggling" and we don't want to embarass them. I figure that's a pretty good ratio, considering that I have eight TTs that need little to no constructive criticism. But now I'm gonna try to remember my day-to-day routine for you so you get a feel for how the opening has gone thus far:

- MONDAY: I got over to the restaurant around 1230. Like I said earlier (there's been a long tangent since I remarked about it) I had called Christi to see if I could head over to work even though I was not scheduled to start work til Tuesday. She said that she could probably find something for me to do, so I got my butt over there to start getting hours. I ended up putting in 7.5 hours of work and teaching my PM TTs their class a day early. They day was a completely odd-feeling one for me, as I have never taught a TT class before (hell, I haven't even been taught the TT class!). My biggest fear going into this opening was that of teaching the sidework that is required for all TTs at my JC to do before they go home. I may or may not have given out all of that before (I can't remember if I've told you all) but it's a lot of work. Our sidework includes breaking down both beverage stations (about 15-20 min. each), cleaning out all of the parmesan cheese bowls throughout the restaurant (my least favorite - this one can take forever!), and about five or six other chores that take a total of an hour and a half when done alone (give or take). Well I was going to have to "P.B. and J" all of these jobs for my staff members, and that worried me, because there was a possibility that I could teach it the wrong way, and that would be absolutely horrible. BUT, (and that's a big "but") I found out... O wait, that's all coming on

- TUESDAY: On my second day of training, I was told that the servers would be doing all of the sidework (the way it should be - - fifteen people can do it so much faster than two and way faster than one!) and the TTs would only be required to check the bathrooms, take out some trash, sweep a little, and roll all the clean silverware (a job, at my JC, that is divied up between the servers). This was such a relief to me! So, on this day (06/06/06 - weird, huh?) I taught my AM TTs all that I had taught my PMs (not to be confused with PMS - although there has been a little of that amongst the trainers!) the night before and then furthered the training of my PMs that night. Tuesday ended up being an 11.5 hour day when all was said and done. Tuesday night I went to see Heather for a brief two hours (we watched FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF - again) and that made my night wonderful in itself! My hotel (a La Quinta Inn for those wanting to know) is in La Palma, a city about 13 miles from the JC and about 14 miles from Heather (different directions though - the JC is 11 miles from Heather). Unfortunately, I had to head back to get some sleep for

- WEDNESDAY: I had to be there early on this day because I had to go through Trainer Orientation with another guy who was also a late arrival (everyone else had gotten there Sunday and gone thru said orientation on Monday morning) so we were at the restaurant at 0825. The orientation didn't last as long as they had thought and we had about an hour to kill. Or so we thought. We were instead asked to go on a wild goose chase in search of nametags and a McDonald's. We got back just in time with the requested materials (the former, a necessary material for our staff members and the latter, a breakfast treat for our Team Leaders) and readied for another busy day. Wednesday ended up being my longest day in terms of hours (12.75) and had the shortest break (less than a half hour - sounds illegal no? - yeah, I'm not sure either). I actually forget what it all entailed, but I know I was really tired when all was said and done. Which leads me to

- THURSDAY: This, another 11.5 hour day, was our first day of live role play. We had an invitation-only lunch and dinner that provided our staff members with a chance to learn on real guests. The food was free for our guests (seriously, JC goes all out on openings - trainer lodging, our salaries, free food for us every meal, airplane tickets for those trainers from NorCal, and of course a completely complimentary two lunches and two dinners for several thousand people) and the experience was very interesting. I can't really remember my opening, but I'm sure I was nervous as hell, so I tried my best to help out my staff members with whatever they needed. I discovered my stars (two of my PMs remind me of cool TTs back home) and also was frustrated with my "S.Ts". I had to do evaluations on all of my staff members and that was also a gut-wrenching experience. It's hard to tell someone that they need to do better when they look back in disbelief. Not my favorite part of the job. Now, because Thursday was such a long day, a bunch of the trainers wanted to go out and party a little. I had yet to hang out with them at night (something I wanted to try a little) and I took advantage of this opportunity and did just that. (Note to Mom: Stop Reading :D ) A group of 16 of us went to T.G.I.FRIDAY'S for some hang out time (for all of the others, it was for drinking time). Yeah, I'm responsible, so don't worry. I was actually a designated driver, which was a hilarious experience. None of them got plastered or anything, but I was happy to drive anyways - - I enjoyed my cherry cokes and fries. You know, (brief tangent) I have never tasted alcohol. The closest thing to it that I've had would probably be Nyquil. Yeah, quite possibly half of the trainers who drank that night aren't actually 21 (I think there were only a few actually), but I just didn't want to. I figure, a law is a law. When I turn 21, I'll probably drink a bit. Cy and I are planning a Vegas trip for my 21st and yeah, we'll probably have something while playing our Texas Hold 'Em, but I'll be the guy sipping down Pina Coladas and stuff like that. That's just me. After FRIDAY'S, we went back to the hotel, where the party moved to a hotel room. I won't divulge what happened here, but I was laughing almost the whole time. Drunk people are funny. That's all I'll say.

- FUN FRIDAY: That's what it's called around JC because it's round 2 of the live role play, and it includes a nighttime cameo by the owners. That's right, John Gantos, the guy who signs my check, was there eating. Friday night might have been one of the craziest nights ever. Doors were supposed to close at 2030 and yet the last party did not get sat until 2130. I only had 3 TTs for this shift, which was not enough seeing that they're still learning (and honestly, the policies at this JC are weird - I appreciate my restaurant a little more now). I was bussing too, even to the extent of sweating like a fool. What a night! This was a 12.25 hour day that didn't end until 2330. We actually stayed at the restaurant until after midnight and I didn't roll into my room until 0037 (I know the exact time because I turned on the TV and Conan was just starting ha ha). I am just laying there enjoying his monologue and I get a call from one of the other trainers who says we have the conference room downstairs for the night if we want it to watch a movie and hang out. I'm exhausted, but I sleepily agree. I ended up hanging out down in the conference room (and this night was all non-alcoholically inspired) until 0330! We chatted whilst FIGHT CLUB played on the TV. We talked about everything under the sun (I'm pretty sure about this fact). It was a lot of fun, but

- SATURDAY: The day that came too fast. I got about 3 hours of sleep Friday night, so I was pretty well useless. It was a short work day though (5.5 hours). Even in my tired state, I managed to create something cool. Saturday was 3 C's day (I forget what that stands for, but it was basically review/safety training day) and I had to entertain my TTs for two hours. This took skill. I set up the so-called "Gauntlet" (yes, I named it) in the one room that I was given to teach or whatever. It consisted of three dirty tables (all clean dishes, but we pretended), a cup quiz (this was 8 different beverage containers and the different racks from the Dish Room that they go in - my TTs had to put them in the correct rack), and roling-silverware practice. They enjoyed it, I think. I promised them that I would go at the end, and that motivated them too. Rigoberto (my only non-English-speaking TT - I use my others to translate) and Angelica (I have two, count them, two female TTs) tied with the time of six minutes. I did it in six point five, but all my tables were perfect - they had flaws :D . . . We had a long lunch break and then I had to do a little improvising, as my room from the morning was being used for something else in the PM. I basically told them some stuff and we helped clean up around the restaurant. I got them out of there fast so I could get out of there too. I had planned a date night with Heather because we were getting out of work early. However, Friday night supplied the information that we had a Mandatory Trainer Outing (a Trainer Appreciation Dinner) on Saturday night at 1900. Talk about disappointing. Anyway, I headed to Heather's around 1630 and hung out til 1830 - actually, I slept. My absolute lethargy was difficult to counter, and I passed out on her bed while she cleaned her apartment. She woke me up at 1800 so we could snuggle (I love snuggling with someone so beautiful) before I left for the Outing. We were supposed to be there at 1900 sharp (in the lobby). I was. The last ones got there at 1920 or so, and we finally left for EL TORITO (across the street from the hotel) at 1930. I had asked the Team Leaders if my wonderful Heather could attend, and that was answered with a resounding "nope". So, I had to sit there whilst my co-trainers bitched about not being able to drink (the management was there). I did eat really well (order the Carne Asada dinner there - wow!) and then we were presented with some gifts (a baseball jersey with DOWNEY 18 on it - this is the 18th JC in California - and a small lunchpail/cooler thing). When my buddies left to go get drunk (they got the green light once the management left), I headed directly to my wonderful Heather for as much time as possible.

- SUNDAY: Today, I got to Heather ASAP. She's working this morning/afternoon, but I'm at her place watching after her new little friend - a kitten. Pete (as he will be named if she keeps him) is a kitten who was brought into PETCO a couple days ago. Some woman brought him in and said she didn't know what to do with him. The poor guy, Pete was flea-infested, malnourished, and living on the streets. All of the employees had a crack at taking him home, but no one was willing or able. Heather, as those of you who know her know, is a sucker for kitties, and took him when no one else would. She spent two sleepless nights getting rid of fleas (flea baths for kitty), syringe-feeding, and just plain loving a cat back to existence. Now, Pete is a flea-free, very cute little kitten. He's still very skinny (you can feel his ribs and spine when you pick him up) but that will go away with time. So, yeah.... Not sure what the rest of the night will entail, but I wanted to take this time to give an update on me. Feel honored (this took me two hours...)

I hope you all have a good week. I'm not sure when my next post will be, but I go home the 19th, so definitely expect one then.


Until my next post,


Saturday, June 03, 2006

It's All Over But The Cryin'

Except there was brief almost-crying.

My Phoenix Suns are again the defeated team in the Western Conference Finals. We lost 4 games to 2 to the worthy Dallas Mavericks (we lost 4-1 last year to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs). It's sad. Heather told me she doesn't know why it's something that changes one's mood when a sports team loses. She told me this while I was sad on the phone with her following the game. I couldn't explain it. . . and I still can't. But I will try: True, the Suns have given me nothing in return for my devotion over the years. It's a completely one-sided relationship. However, I put lots of effort, time, and money into this team. I have spent many an hour watching the Suns this season, including two live games against the Lakers. I root for this team everytime they take the floor. I back the players in their actions (Raja Bell's wrangling of Kobe Bryant is one example) and I celebrate in their accomplishments (Steve Nash's back-to-back MVP's). This is my team. The Phoenix Suns are the only team in any sport that I truly support with all of my rooting energy. And now they are out. Again. We have never won a championship, despite many almosts. Yeah, there's always next year (and for us, the future is bright) but I was really hopeful for this season. O well. Now we're gone fishin'.

Enough of the sadness. . .

I'm heading to Downey tomorrow. I come home on the 19th. That's over two weeks for those of you keeping count at home. I'm not sure how it's going to go, but I'm going with no expectations. That way, my friends, I can't be surprised, let down, or disgruntled.

You know what's exciting, though? Where I'm staying is a mere 13 miles from Heather!!! I am gonna be able to see her almost every day! That is awesome!

I will try to do my best to post updates (via Heather's computer) during the opening, but I'm not promising anything. Wish me luck, and I'll be seeing ya. . .

- - - "Everything ends badly. Otherwise, it wouldn't end."
- - - Bryan Flanagan (Tom Cruise) in COCKTAIL, which I watched again tonight; Love this movie!!!

Goodnight and au revoir,

Sad Sun Fan,


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Loss. L-O-S-S. Loss

Well I'm bummed right now, so go ahead and read between the lines at the pure depression that has set in. The Phoenix Suns, my favorite sports team on the planet, is now one game away from elimination. Again. A bright thought is our 4-0 record in games so far this postseason when we are facing elimination. Let's just hope we move to 6-0 (that would mean we're going to the Finals).

I watched some of the Scripps National Spelling Bee today. It was nationally televised for the first time (it's usually on ESPN, but tonight it was on ABC - - I watched the preliminary rounds on ESPN) and so it was kind of a big deal. This show reeks of "nerdity" (n-e-r-d-i-t-y; the word's origin - or entymology - is Collegian) and the parents are absolutely hilarious. Apparently a girl won for the first time since 1999 (girl power!) with the word "ursprache" - I have never even heard of that word! These middle schoolers - some even younger! - are incredible! Incredibly deprived of a life, that is. Turns out, there were bets taken in the Vegas circuit as well as around the event! There were bets about if an "e" would be the last letter in the final word (shoulda taken that one!), if the winner would be a glasses-wearer (don't take that one - she wasn't), and which sex the winner would be. That alone makes this a really interesting, funny, and absolutely unnecessary event (but so does the kid who talks into his hand - but that's another story).

Today was a complete loss of a day, speaking of losing. This was the epitome of a boring Summer day. I did almost catch up on HOUSE episodes (I only have two remaining) but other than that, I really feel like I wasted today. I guess it's ok since my next two weeks are gonna be one continuous work period, but I just don't like sitting around home. Call me crazy.

I'm in the mood to laugh tonight because of my sadness (hopefully this is temporary sadness... They better win on Saturday) so I'm probably gonna do a double dip with the two newest films I received from Netflix. The first will be DAVE ATTELL'S INSOMNIAC TOUR (the only reason I got this was because it features Dane Cook) and then THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY, the stand-up special featuring Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, and Bernie Mac. Hopefully laughs are in my future tonight. . .

Have a good night (what's left of it) and I'll see you around tomorrow.


- - - "1-2-3, Spell"
- - - Post-huddle chant by the contestants of the Spelling Bee. . . Wow


Justin. J-U-S-T-I-N. Justin