Hi, I’m Allie. I’m here to help

I started volunteering. Finally. For a hospice center and an inner city after school program. Pretty different, but equally rewarding, I think.

My responsibilities for the hospice center are pretty clerical. Arrange flowers, greet people at the door, try not to break down and cry at the sight of people grappling with the harsh reality that their loved ones are probably moments from being lost from this world forever… that last one’s unspoken, by the way. I will not be one of the brave souls who actually sits with the dying, holding their hands, comforting them and their grieving loved ones. Not yet, anyway. That takes tear ducts of steel, which I do not have.

And then there are the kids. There’s no real chance of crying there. Not on my end, anyway. Unfortunately I can’t guarantee I won’t drive my little girl to pull her hair out.

“Are you sure you don’t want to read? Really? It’s really fun! Let’s just try it again. Come on. COME ON, IT’S FUN!”

But seriously, she’s a treat. Very smart. Wants to be a doctor. Seems to me like she’s already on the right track, but I’ll do what I can to keep her there.

I don’t work all that often, a few nights a week, so I have a lot of extra time. Most of my time is spent evading things I should actually be doing, like finding and securing a career (which is oh, so, simple these days), cleaning and decorating my house (because, let’s face it, my niece and nephew aren’t exactly Home and Garden experts). Instead I have turned surfing the web my into my full-time job. I swear, if I could get paid to look at pictures and videos of baby animals, I’d have it made. I can see the Craigslist ad now:

Experienced Lilliputian Hunter. Will not rest until I have satiated every sloth-swaddling, kitten-cuddling, puppy-wrangling desire you can’t fill on your own. Knows how to infiltrate the secret lairs of such creatures, whether dainty and sweet or sleepy and charming, I will find the diminutive delights with ease for your time-wasting satisfaction.

*sigh* If only life were filled with such simple pleasures. (I could also be a host on “America’s Next Top Model.” I know what those people want. Smize, bitches, smize!)

Needless to say, giving my time to others is the least I can do. I have always wondered what organizations appreciate more: time or money? Obviously they need donations to function, but without people behind the scenes, making things happen, nothing would. Is it a perfect balance? 70/30? 45/55? And what drives people to choose to give one or the other? Or either in the first place? Maybe I’ll find out… For now, I’m sticking with the former (while trying to pick up shifts and put my own life in order) to eventually provide the ladder. Whatever they need, I’m here to help.

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Heaven Is Closer Than We Think… I Think

Okay, so I read “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo, a Protestant pastor whose son had an emergency appendectomy and apparently went to Heaven. This book was brought to my attention by my aunt who claimed it was so amazing and I had to read it and whatever. So I read it. Pretty quickly, too. It’s an easy, interesting read. Truly. But it gets me thinking…

**Spoiler alert – I will be divulging some specifics, so if you prefer to read it yourself, divert your attentions elsewhere. Also, I tend to rant… and it will come off like I don’t love God, even though I do, so if you are easily offended, please don’t read this. Thanks.**

So, this little boy, Colton Burpo, goes to Heaven while he’s in surgery. Apparently you can go to Heaven while you’re still alive (according to author Todd, John the Apostle went – while still alive  – in the Book of Revelations. I’m not big on the Bible stats, so this guy being a preacher is basically like having Cliff’s Notes on a book in the actual book) to bring back prophecies or something. Later, Colton, tells his father that Jesus said He saved the boy as a direct answer to Todd’s prayers.

Hold the phone. Okay, so Todd says somewhere that God doesn’t listen to the prayers of the sick and the dying, He listens to those who pray for that person – the friends and family who  practice their faith for that person. My initial reaction: bullshit (sorry!). There are people sick and dying every day, hence, there are people praying every day. There are people who believe, who practice their faith regularly, who beg and plead and bargain and pout to get what they want for others and how often do they get answered? Not too often. So my next thought was – is it because he’s a pastor? Because that sounds a wee bit like favoritism, and I was really looking forward to an eternity that doesn’t resemble 6th grade.

Moving on… there’s another part where Colton, before divulging to his parents that he’s been to Heaven, will be accompanying his family to a funeral at his dad’s church (initial reaction: who brings their kid to a stranger’s funeral? Religious types make me seriously wonder…). Upon learning what a funeral is (because what four-year-old doesn’t need to know that little bit of trivia?), Colton freaks out, wondering if this man had accepted Jesus into his heart, if he knew Jesus, etc. Not only does he freak out at home before the service, he goes apeshit at the church upon seeing the casket and learning that this strange man’s dead body is inside (once again, the reason for not leaving your kid at home was what?). “He can’t get into Heaven if he doesn’t have Jesus in his heart,” the little boy wailed as then his mother took him outside and directed his older sister to take him home.

I’ve heard that before, actually, from my Bible-beating, hypocritical, once was an agnostic asshole who could have cared less about anything involving his family, now’s a born-again who thinks Jesus is the answer and goes to prayer groups, father. I thought that all you had to do was absolve your sins, actually want to be forgiven, and you were in. Now I learn you have to have Jesus in your heart on Earth or no pass to Heaven? That seems a bit limiting, especially considering all the other religions out there who don’t worship Jesus. Where do they go? That doesn’t seem fair. Do they have their own Heaven? I guess, when you think about it topically, that if it is Jesus’ Heaven, He would be the one you’d be into in the first place. That would be like pining for Joe (Buddha, let’s say), devoting all your time, energy and passion into getting him to like you (worshiping on the regular), then when Matt (Jesus, the gates of Heaven) asks you out (you die), you say yes because he presented himself first (Heaven is the option, reincarnation doesn’t seem to be in this scenario). Does that make sense? Maybe whatever we believe in is what we get…

There is also the Catholic argument, that one needs to do good deeds to gain entry. Paying the piper, buying gifts for your kids to make up for the fact that you spend no time with them, beating your wife then buying her flowers… you get the picture. I don’t see anything wrong with doing good on Earth to save yourself a seat in eternity. What I don’t jive with is the thought that is some sadistic, child-raping, animal-abusing, wife-beating, anti-gay, pro-life mo fo getting into Heaven just because he happens to be a Bible-humping, outdated, (probably) Republican, short-sighted, shove-The-Word-down-your-throat, sit-outside-an-abortion -clinic-with-his-kids (on a school day) “Christian”  who believes in Jesus Christ today.

And back to the book. There is also a part about angels. The little boy says that everyone in Heaven has wings, except Jesus, who goes “up and down like an elevator,” and have lights above their heads (halos). The dad, at this point, goes on and on about how his little boy has never seen angels portrayed that way and doesn’t even know the word “halo.” In the Bible angels are bright like lightening or the sun, with rainbows above their heads (never heard that one before). “Colton’s experience of angels in storybooks and Scripture did not include lights over angels’ heads… since our bedtime Bible stories and the Sunday school lessons at church are closely aligned with the Scripture.” I don’t know what these stories are you’re sharing with your kid, guy, but any angel I’ve ever seen, since childhood, has a halo.

My overwhelming question with this kid is that he was raised in the church, by a man who can quote the Bible (or at least allude to it and be relatively accurate), so he would know all this stuff, right? The dad keeps trying to say that there’s no way his little boy could be so matter-of-fact about Jesus’s crucifiction wounds (since Protestants only say He died on the cross, the crucifix is for Catholics), that he never saw angels with halos, that he knows nothing about sashes (Jesus’ is purple, everyone else wears yellow), that the doctor who performed his surgery (whom he associated with pain and suffering over the course of his recovery) “fixed” him…

I want to believe it. I really do. I know I sound harsh, and my thoughts are often slightly on the negative, but I just want to point out the questions that so many people unarguably have. It’s a wonderful story, and it did bring tears to my eyes, pulled on my heartstrings, made me reflect on my own life. But I, like so many others of my generation, living in the day and age of touchscreen everything, pet cloning and Jersey Shore, am jaded. We have so little to believe in, the world is falling apart around us, people actually kill each other in the name of religion (seriously, how fucked up is that?) and politics and money. Maybe this man is on the right track, maybe if more people believed like him, humans wouldn’t be the catalysts of their own extinction. But such is not the case, and we are ultimately all doomed.

I left out the part of Colton telling his dad about the impending Dooms Day of good versus evil – that God and His soldiers will choose those worthy to fight alongside them to defeat Satan (whom the boy also claimed to see) and send him back to Hell for good, and that Colton saw the dad as part of the fight. Meaning maybe the Mayans and Nostradamus were right and our end is nigh….

Jesus, if you’re listening, I’m on your side. Right…?

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Should be needing a nap any time now…

I had waffles for breakfast this morning. Not fancy restaurant, made in a press with handmade mix waffles, I’m talking Leggo My Eggo, straight out the freezer waffles. And they were amazing. I haven’t enjoyed one of these delicious dessert-turned-breakfast treats in I don’t know how long. Which isn’t to say I haven’t had the opportunity. We keep the freezer stocked with the tasty morsels thanks to the niece and nephew (who would eat them for every meal if we let them).

I prepared them the old-fashioned way, too. Loaded with butter (to make them soft) and perfectly proportioned syrup (Mrs. Butterworth’s, of course. I’m a traditionalist, what can I say?). I devoured them with the same exuberance I once had, forgot all my woes (although, try as I might, I was well aware that I was now in greater need of a Jillian Michaels’ ass whooping later this afternoon), avoided the sticky drips to no avail and enjoyed the one thing I never understood parents felt okay feeding their children at 8 o’clock in the morning. Sugar crash, anyone?

News flash: waffles and pancakes are sweets. So next time your kid wants leftover birthday cake, give it to him, you hypocrite. The only going to suffer from the decision to have sugar for breakfast is him. And me. *yawn* The high has waned. Good thing I’ve got some time before work…

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What next?

I’m toying with the idea of becoming a personal trainer. Or undercover investigator with PETA. Or a sports reporter (okay, I think that one’s gone out the window that was only cracked temporarily in the first place, but it was a fun thought). My best friend’s brother trains assistant dogs. I like dogs, but am I patient enough to deal with living creatures that really only want to do their own thing (ahem, live-in niece and nephew)? I really don’t want to be a server forever, regardless of how much money I would inevitably make (God bless people’s incessant need to eat, regardless of the shit state of our shit economy).

I could be a rodeo clown – I’m fast. I could walk other people’s dogs – I do walk my own. I could read to children. I used to want to be a librarian, but then I learned you need a master’s degree. Damn it all right to hell!

My bestie and I dream (often) about opening our own restaurant/bar someday. That would be tough, but we have some good ideas. Neither of us are happy in our current (professional) situations. Both of us are creative, fun, not to mention cute as buttons (seriously, what the hell does that even mean, anyway? Who thinks buttons are cute? If I said we were cute as that surprised kitten, how would you feel then?).

I’m going to start volunteering more. I know (think?) I’ve said that before, and I did. A couple of times. There’s an opportunity to do school work with inner city kids that I’m really looking forward to, and I want to get back into the GED prep at the Literacy Services. I’ll have more time now, if my career in

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Greener pastures anyone?

I recently got fired. Oh yeah, that happened. Even though I was one of the awesomest, hardest working, loyalest little lackeys (it’s not -ies, I spell checked it) any business owner could hope to have at the end of their puppet strings, by the end I just wasn’t good enough anymore. I could be bitter and rant on and on about the Douchey McDouche that’s ruining my former employ from the inside out, or the sexist, egotistical, harassing, wannabe Uncle Jessie leader behind it all who thinks the only two options for communicating with his primarily female staff is either calling them idiots or trying to get into their pants. But I won’t. I’m bigger than that and better than them.

So I’ve been looking for employment elsewhere. In the city, of course (in my neck of the north-of-the-city “woods” – I live in the ‘burbs, but it ain’t exactly high class – you’re lucky to get a “thank you” for a beer, let alone a dollar). I’m still trying to find a “real” job, a career, if you will, but that market is frightening and I am less-than qualified to do much of anything (unless there’s a new market for cute girls who like to eat, read and watch TV. The competition would be brutal, for real).

I would ideally like to bartend, even though my area of expertise is serving. So I’ve looked into a major hotel company, major local restaurant chain, some quirky places I’d never heard of but seem fun… My standards are high at the moment (it has only been a week), but soon I’ll have to loosen them and take what I can get. Fingers crossed…

Okay, I am the WORST at posting! This post was started a FULL WEEK AGO! And today, I AM employed! I walked into one of the afore mentioned awesomely successful restaurants  a mere two days after my dismissal and interviewed on the spot (suck it, old job). I got a call a week later, and I’m now on my third training day (of 15. They actually want their staff to know what’s what. Nice business strategy, yo).

I’m only training, and it’s only been two days, but already I really think I’m going to like it. The people seem to be nice and professional, they seem to know what the hell is going on (what a refreshing change of pace). The way this place works is you spend a week in the kitchen, then two weeks on the floor in a variety of capacities. And let me tell you about this week in the kitchen – meat, fish, saute and grill, garde manger (salads, etc.) and expo. You may be wondering if I get to try the food – a logical question when you work in a high-end restaurant. You gotta know what the $40 steak you’re slinging tastes like, right? Ab. So. Lute. Ly. Oh hell yes.

Filet? Why yes, I love it. Pork chop? Big fan. Strip or ribeye? Never had ribeye, I’ll have 18 ounces to “taste,” sure. Lamb? No, but I’ll pretend to eat it so neither of us gets into trouble. Salmon, tuna, shrimp scampi, fried shrimp, Alaskan king crab leg for night two? I would expect nothing less. Seriously, it’s a good thing I’ve got a gym and Michael Jackson Dance Experience on hand. Even more seriously, I can tell you how everything is prepared, what’s in what sauce, how allergies are handled, (kitchen) staff names… It’s glorious.

The ONLY real downside… it’s a 30+ minute drive. Each way. I used to live above my job, then moved three minutes away, so this is a little tough to handle. The first 15 minutes in the car are fine, spending time with myself, going over last night’s new knowledge, day dreaming about Aaron Rodgers (who am I kidding, I don’t need car time for that). Then another five minutes passes. Then another. Damnit. I’ve been repeating that. A lot.

But onto bigger and better things. My quest for real work hasn’t ended, although this makes the searching part a little laxadaised. I’ll get there. We all will. One thing at a time. One meal at a time. I wonder what my feast will be tonight…

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Weathered memories

When the weather is like this, taking even the most familiar of walks with faithful companions feels ominous. Every house looms, filled maybe with watchers, maybe with no one, silent and lurking. Each leaf that blows past startles, every sound the wind makes in the trees beckons, as my breath fights to take shape in the moist air.

This very walk, these very streets, so open and friendly with the sun, that once embraced my presence, that made me feel safe and understood, now stretch out menacingly, luring me farther along. I could turn back, return to the safety of my home, but today not even that breeds comfort. Cold and lonely, I seek solace in the fresh air.

I trudge along, pulling when necessary, sensing the apprehension of my furry friends, or maybe it’s just their incessant curiosity. We see no others, no one else braving the preview of the coming months. I try to drown the emptiness with my music, melodic beats penetrating nature’s own, though only I can hear it.

I’m taken back to earlier days, filled with laughter, wonder and love. When everything was as I knew it, familiar and easy, comfortable and right. These thoughts of my past crawl in and curl up in my mind, lying down to rest for a while. When they retreat, their impressions remain, like footprints in the sand. I’ll never shake them, and I never want to.

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Just another Sunday FUNday

Where does Sunday Funday come from? Is it called that because it rhymes? It makes sense that a weekend day would be the most fun of the week, but that’s a lot of pressure. And sort of insulting to Saturday, is it not? That makes Saturdays seem like the guys I date between boyfriends. Friday was good, but it’s over. Now I have nothing to look forward to until Sunday, which will be better than Friday, so I guess I’ll make the most of Saturday (which is not surprisingly more naked than Friday).

Sundays are for brunch, beer and baseball (but mostly football). Sundays are for getting drunk in public at 9am. Sundays are for drinking heavily, eating unconsciously and yelling at the television (unless you happen to be live at the game. You sonofabitch). Sundays are for documenting the rowdy fools you and your awesome friends become while cheering for your home team, then posting them immediately to Facebook.

*Interception in the end zone = yelling at the TV by myself*

You look forward to it all week, plotting out plans – who to invite, where to meet, what to eat (you already know what you’re going to wear. And drink. You do do this every week). Being alone on Sunday is sad. Like being alone on Valentine’s Day. Or your birthday. But you’re never really alone. Not on Sunday. You know that just next door, just down the street, at every single bar, there are others just like you.

So maybe Sunday F.U.N.day really stands for Football’s on, Undivided attention Necessary. Or Friendly Unlimited Nudity (if GB QB Rodgers is involved, or pretty much any of the Brewers or Packers, sign me up. *wink*). Or, in the summer, Football’s not on, watch whatever the hell yoU waNt, as long as it’s baseball.

My last Friday used to say Sundays were for bowling. This Sunday makes sure we enjoy all the kinds of F.U.N. (*wink*)

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