Family Changes

So my family has been going through a lot of changes. Changes like me being laid-off and home all the time, changes in the eating habits of the kids, and changes like me starting to go to the gym.

It’s been interesting being home. I thought I wanted it. I thought it would be the most wonderful thing in the world and I would get SO much done. The truth is that I’m bored sometimes and lonely too because I have all this free time and the kids work and have their own friends and so I’m home alone at loose ends. I’ve finally started to work on the house, and boy does it need it! I’ve given a bunch of stuff away to freecycle.org in the last two days, cleaned my porch mostly, I still need to vacuum it though. It’s really hard for me to get rid of stuff. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been a packrat. Part of it may be having gone through a divorce you feel like you lose so much that you don’t want to let anything you do have go. But I’ve always been like this to some degree. I read a book recently, “Clear Your Clutter with FENG SHUI” by Karen Kingston, and I get it, I get why it is important to clear your clutter and how it could improve your life. It’s just really hard to let go of stuff still. Some things are harder than others of course. I can let go of the dress that I paid 99 cents for at the thrift store and really didn’t end up fitting me that well anyways, but the really cute dress that I bought at Macy’s for a wedding that is too small for me right now but might fit me after I work out for a couple of months, that I don’t know if I can get rid of. I guess I’ll start with the easy things. I thought I would get more done, but I’ve found myself spending hours upon hours on sitting in front of my computer screen. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve made some new friends, but I need to rebalance my time management! That’s my goal right now.

Our eating habits have gone through some changes since I’ve been home. To start off with when the kids were little and I was a stay-at-home mom or SAHM I used to cook 6 nights a week, and one night a week we would go out or get fast food. Since I have been working two jobs, I am lucky to cook one night a week, I’m usually too tired and I usually had the money to just go out or pick something up. Now that I’m home, I’ve started cooking again every night. I’ve had some hits and misses in the cooking department, but I’m rediscovering how much I love to cook! The thing is, now that I’m getting the hang of cooking every night again, my kids have decided to change their eating habits. My 22 year old son has now become a vegan, and my 19 year old daughter is currently on a juice fast. The outcome of this has been that the lovely meatloaf cooked in a bag with veges that I made two nights ago, I have had to eat by myself for two nights, and now I’m tired of it and throwing the rest out. Apparently, I’m going to need to learn to cook vegan or be eating alone. This should be interesting.

Lastly, the gym. I used to go to the gym faithfully. I used to read workout books and Self Magazine (or is it Shape) and be hardcore about going to the gym 5 days a week. I worked out with free weights and machines 2 days a week curcuit training and then did aerobics classes the other three days. I was in fantastic shape! And then I stopped. And then the last 15 years I guess I have been working two jobs and sometimes going to college and there just didn’t seem to be any way to fit in a work out regularly, so I didn’t do it at all. Last year I joined 24 Hour Fitness and planned to go work-out with my daughter. I’ve gone three times, and two of those three times were in the last week. I’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and they told me I should lose some weight and exercise (I always have to check how to spell the word exercise, I want to make it excersize or something else), anyway, I need to be exercising. So, now I’ve started. I went twice with my daughter in the last week. One day we just did the stairmaster, the next day we worked out on the weight machines and also the stairmaster. It’s all starting to come back to me. The things I used to know, the techniques, the enjoyment of working out and being fit! The thing is, I don’t know if I can keep this all up or not once I start back to work. I guess I’ll cross that hurdle when I come to it. How do you balance work, fitness, and all the other stuff you have to do?

Now the 22 year old son brought home 3 yoga/meditation DVD’s. Who knows what my house will be like next week?

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Chez Panisse

Yesterday, my friend Angela invited me to come visit her. She lives in Albany, next to Berkeley. I drove over and we decided to go out to lunch to this place that I can’t remember the name of, but she said it was across the street from Chez Panisse. So, I said, “What about just going to Chez Panisse?”. Angela said, “Well, I checked on that online and it said that you need to make reservations about a month in advance”. Angela is getting a degree at UC Berkeley (that I don’t remember the name of but it has something to do with food and wine). Angela also just finished reading “Alice Waters and Chez Panisse” by Thomas McNamee. (I can’t figure out how to underline the title here in WordPress – forgive me, I do know better). In any case I knew Angela would love to eat there between her major and just finishing the book, so we drove downtown Berkeley and found a parking spot and put 10 quarters in the meter. Berkeley is so cool and quirky. There were people picnicking in the grass in the meridian of the street. Lots of them! With cars driving by on both sides of them, like they were in a park! Most of them were eating pizza from a nearby place. I was dying for Alexandra’s digital camera! I had asked Angela to bring hers, but the battery was dead, so no luck there either.

We decided to try Chez Panisse before going over to the other restaurant, and they took us right in! We went upstairs to the cafe, which I am told is a bit less formal and pricey than the restaurant.

We were seating in a very tight spot, very close to another table, but we didn’t mind, everyone was very friendly. They first ask if you would care for still or sparkling water and they bring it the table in a pretty etched glass decanter. It says Chez Panisse on one side, and Still on the other. There was a wonderful flavorful brown bread that was served with some very yellow butter. Angela said that the guy that started Acme Bakery nearby had worked at Chez Panisse and Alice Waters had helped him get started, so we imagined that the bread was probably from Acme Bakery. That was where our bread from Julia’s Kitchen had been from, too. The busser girl told us the butter was from grass fed cows and that it was yellower because it had more carotene. Wow. I guess I didn’t even know what color butter was supposed to be. I’ve grown up on the pale butter made from grain fed cows. It’s kind of a shame.

We ordered a bottle of rose wine that was rather inexpensive and Angela said she had read it was one of Alice Waters’ favorites. It was perfect! Our server was apparently in training because another server came over to open our wine while instructing her. Later I saw her trying to open the wine for another table. I wanted to help. (I could have taught her much better…)

We shared an appetiser. (I’m on a budget) It was a salad with fried goat cheese. Angela once again said that she had read that it was one of the classic dishes at the restaurant. Next we share an entree. There was a boneless chicken that they said was pressed as it was cooked to make it crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It was wonderful! As were the herbed peas. I’ve never had better peas. Honestly. And then there were some homemade potato chips as well. So good! Lastly, dessert. I had a peach and raspberry tart with vanilla bean ice cream and Angela had the fresh fruit, queen anne cherries and a plumcot. We were both in heaven! Truly a meal to remember!

In between all of this, I forgot to mention that since I knew I was going to be near Chez Panisse I thought I would bring along a resume and drop it off, since I am on the market at the moment. After we were seated for a few minutes I handed our server my resume and asked her if she could please give it to her manager. A few minutes later she brought it back to me and said it would probably be better to wait until I was leaving and give it to a manager myself, that way they might have time to sit down with and talk with me. Then, once again, a few minutes later a woman comes up to our table and says, “Hi, I’m Renee, did you want me to look over your resume?” I gave it to her of course and we continued our lunch. When we finished I checked to see if she was available, but the said she was in a meeting and had my number and would call me. Honestly, that is probably for the best, I don’t know what kind of interview I would have given after drinking half a bottle of wine!

Angela and I stopped and she got a couple of cheeses and some bread and salami and a lovely cold bottle of prosecco and we went back to her place, where her son Elijah and boyfriend Jesse were, and watched a French foreign film I had rented from Netflix, called Avenue Montaigne. Not Amelie, but very cute. We had the best French themed day!

Chez Panisse didn’t call today. Maybe tomorrow.

P.S. I LOVE blog comments!

The Search Begins…

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Well, I must have gone to at least 10 places yesterday to apply/pick up applications.  I had a few good responses, a few mediocre and a few just not hiring right now.  I have an interview on Monday at 3pm at Zuzu's, wine bar and tapas.  There were three or four places that said they were hiring, but the owner was out of town until Wednesday, I guess enjoying a long Memorial Day weekend. 

Angela C. was bored, after finishing her finals at U.C. Berkeley on Thursday and said she wanted to come and hang out with me.  She also was bringing her son, Elijah.  I said, "Sure!".  I really wasn't sure how that was all going to work out?  But it did.  I sent them to the Oxbow to look around and I met them there for a few minutes in between, they loved it!  Angela fell in love with the coffee there.  Then they came downtown where I was and walked around and when I was finished I met them and we looked around a bit together.  Then Angela wanted to go and get dinner, but I had taken out some chicken breasts at home to thaw, and mainly I just can't spend any money that isn't absolutely necessary, like for gas, so I had to say no.  I felt bad though.  But they went back to the Oxbow to eat and seemed to have a really nice day enjoying each others' company.  It was nice to see. 

During the day I stopped in at Julia's Kitchen to pick up my check and $50 back tips that I was owed.  I walked up and saw Nick, Kris, and Joel at the bar.  Joel took me back to the office.  Nick was not friendly at all, wouldn't even really look at me.  I'm not sure what that was about.  So, Joel pulled $200 out of his pocket and gave it to me.  I think with my paycheck and back tips it would have been close to $100, so he gave me an extra $100 and said that was from him personally.  I need to write him a thank you note.  I was totally calm and matter of fact until he gave me the money.  Then I melted into a puddle.  I don't know what it is, but when people do or say things that are unexpectedly and extremely nice, even if it isn't toward me, I get very emotional.  I know Joel feels bad.  It must suck to be him and have to tell people they are fired.  We've known each other a long time between Villa Romano and now Julia's Kitchen. 

An odd random thing happened.  While I was downtown trying to find Angela and Elijah I saw someone and thought, that looks like Shannon (a co-worker at Julia's), then I realized, hey that IS Shannon, so I called to her and then I looked up and Jeannie (another co-worker) was practically right next to me!  I guess the two of them were going out to eat sushi between shifts.  We chatted for a minute about the situation and promised to keep in touch.  Then Angela and Elijah showed up and we all went our separate ways. 

Instead of cooking the chicken last night Lee Ann invited Alexandra and I to dinner.  We were planning to come down and visit with them anyways.  Lee Ann and Alicia are leave around 4Th of July to move to Missouri.  Lee Ann has been one of my closest friends for about 15 years now.  I'm really sad she's moving and want to spend as much time as possible with her before she goes.  She made pasta and a marinara meat sauce and garlic french bread and Caesar salad.  It was really good, but a bit garlicky for my stomach!  We also drank a bottle and a half of Riesling!  Alexandra had to drive home.  It was good to relax and visit with her.  I needed that. 

Unless Zuzu's hires me on Monday this may be a long process.  Hopefully they will hire me.  I just need to be really careful with every penny until at least the unemployment payments kick in. 

 

Day 2~ let go, fired, downsized, not needed

Today my GM Joel Tavison called me around noon to tell me that he was going to start writing my letter of reference at 1:00 PM when the Dining Room manager Nick Estefan came in.  He said he would call me if we were going to be open tonight. 

Finally about 4:15 PM I called.  The hostess Claudia answered and I asked her if we were open tonight and she said yes.  I asked her how many reservations we had and she said 70.  I asked if I could talk to Joel, but she told me he was in a meeting and asked if I wanted to talk to Nick.  So I said, “okay”.  She puts me on hold and then comes back and tells me Nick and Joel are both in a meeting.  So, I said, ” Well, Joel told me that he would call me if we were open tonight so I could come in to work.”  So she says she will try to check with him and call me back.  She calls back 10 minutes later and tells me that I’m not scheduled for tonight.  Great.  (I really don’t understand why Joel would call me today and tell me he’d let me know if we were open tonight so I could work, and then this?)  So I say, well I will come in anyway to pick up my check and my letter of reference.  She calls me back again saying that Joel hasn’t finished my letter of reference and will do it in the morning.  I ask her if I can pick up my check and she says she doesn’t know and will get back to me.  She hasn’t.

This all is really disappointing.  I should have been able to work tonight.  I should have been able to make a little money to hold me over until I get another job or the end of the month, when I get my school district check.  But that really does me no good, all of that has to go right back out to pay bills.  I really don’t understand why this is happening to me.  I have more seniority than any other server there.  I have been told that I get better comment cards than anyone else.  I have two couples that come in every Friday night and request me.  One couple is about to celebrate their 200th dinner, the other is about to celebrate their 100th.  The people who come in the most prefer me.  Me. 

This new president and CEO of Copia, Garry McGuire Jr. seems to be running around making poor snap decisions like a chicken with his head cut off.  We are heading in to our busy season where we do 100 people at lunch consistently and he has decided to only serve lunch three days a week, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  On the other days they are opening a bistro in Copia, which is really a glorified cafeteria, where people will walk up to the counter to order.  Classy. He says this is because they don’t make money during the slow season at lunch.  Okay, well close it down to three days during the slow season then, not during the busy season.  Duh.  I hear from my friends that this cafeteria is not working out well at all. Customers that come into the restaurant for a fine dining experience are having long wait times for their food, while the kitchen puts out burgers to the cafeteria/bistro. Next he is closing down the restaurant for renovations for three weeks during the start of the busy season.  This starts next week I’m told.  So even the people that are full time, that they want to keep, are going to be out of a job for three weeks.  None of us have enough savings to afford that.  I think all the employees are going to be out job hunting.  That means that Julia’s Kitchen will lose even more of it’s wonderful staff.  We need new chairs right now.  The rest of the renovation could have been saved for January, when they are now planning to close for a month, this could give the staff enough time to plan for it as well.  And he is letting good people go, me included of course, with no warning or even a severance package.  Firstly, it’s stupid.  Secondly, it’s mean.  It’s definitely causing me a lot of undue stress and hardship. 

I seriously live through the month on my tips.  My school district job covers my bills and provides health insurance benefits and my restaurant job covers my kids and my living expenses.  I had no time to prepare for this, no notice.  Now I have $23.  There is some money in the bank but I think I have more bills that may be coming out so I can’t touch that unless it’s an emergency. 

This is horrendous.  How did this happen to me? 

I applied for unemployment, but I really don’t know how that works or how much I will get or when I will get it. 

I spent yesterday and today waiting around, hoping against hope that I would at least be able to work my last two shifts.  I could have spent that time picking up applications and turning in resumes. 

Today I printed out copies of my cover letter, resume, and three letters of recommendation that I had.  I also emailed all of that to Auberge du Soleil and Etoile at Domaine Chandon. 

I talked to my friend/co-worker/former co-worker Norrel.  She is so sweet and fun, I will miss seeing her dearly.  I mean I guess we can all hang out now and then, but still.  She really didn’t know half the story.  She was so kind, told me she would ask around and let me know if she heard of anyone who was hiring.  Of course I’ll do the same for her.  She just started pastry classes this week.  She is becoming a chef. 

I heard from my friend Leo tonight.  He was going to the new Narnia movie, Prince of Caspian, I think.  He just called randomly to say hello.  He was shocked when I told him.  The good thing is that he gave me a lead on a place to apply that I’ve never heard of in Hiddenbrooke in Vallejo.  I’ll check it out tomorrow.   

My friend Patricia called me, hoping I wouldn’t answer because I was at work, but I did. 

I’m feeling a bit sad and depressed and sorry for myself.  I need to snap out of it though. It definitely won’t help.  And I’ve read The Secret.  I know what I need to do to fix things.  I’m just too much in shock and denial to do it right now. 

I have a big list of places to apply.  I plan to head out in the morning and pick up applications.  I wish gas prices weren’t so high and Napa wasn’t so far away though.  Wish me luck.

 

Published in: on May 24, 2008 at 3:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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let go, fired, downsized, not needed

Hire me, please.  Yes, today I was let go, fired, downsized.  I was advised, “I’m sorry, but I’ve been told from the new president of
Copia, Garry McGuire Jr., to let all the part-time employees go.”  I am a part-time employee, so that meant me.  This actually happened when I called in to find out what time I worked tonight.  That may seem last minute, but actually I had called yesterday, as well.  And the schedule which starts on Sunday is rarely posted until Saturday afternoon.   

So, instead of working tonight and bringing home close to $200, here I sit, blogging. 

I don’t blame my manager Joel, he’s a sweet guy, and he’s just following orders, and truly seems to feel bad about it all.  He’s willing to give me a letter of recommendation and has given me a few leads of places that are hiring.  That’s all I can ask for at the moment.

It’s unfair though, because of all the food servers at Julia’s Kitchen, I actually have the most seniority.  Even though I work part-time, I have been there the longest, since October of 2006.  I have stayed when everyone else left, through five – count them – managers. Steve, Jane, Noel, Jane again, and Joel. Also, Rose, Jazmin and Eric who were acting managers for short periods of time. Also, I have regular customers who love me.  There are two couples that come in and ask for me every Friday night.  The Curley’s, John and Cathy, and the Poliak’s, Richard and Cathy. I had special plans for them to celebrate their 100th and 200th visit respectively.  The sad thing is, I won’t even be able explain and say goodbye to them or any of my friends/co-workers. 

Whose idea was brunch? Mine! (And it’s been very successful I must say!) Who always shows up for her shifts? Me! Who has come in many times on short notice to help out? ME!

I filed for unemployment.  That was a bit confusing.  Apparently both of my part-time jobs, including the one I’m not fired from – with the school district – will pay for the unemployment that I draw.  They seemed to want to know more information from the job I still work for than for the one I was fired from.  Why?

I have almost $300 in the bank and about $23 in cash.  To last until the end of the month. 

This sucks!

The plan is:  Apply for unemployment.  Check.  Update resume.  Make copies of letters of reference.  Start applying at every fine dining restaurant in Napa. 

Do I blame the economy?  Do I blame the new president of Copia, Garry McGuire Jr.?  I really don’t know who to blame.  All I know is that as difficult and unexpected as it is, I need to find a new job and fast.  Wish me luck!

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