Tag Archives: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co

Young Man Went East #2: Settling In, Or Trying To

Jenn and I made the big move to the big city about three weeks ago and I have yet to write about a single day (luckily for you, Jenn is up to her eighth post about New York in her blog jenNYdreams). It’s not for lack of experiences to relate, but rather because I feel stuck in a period of waiting. Until now, I’ve felt uninspired to write a story when I have yet to live out the ending. It’s been three weeks and we’re still living out of suitcases and sleeping in living rooms. Not that I’m not grateful for those living rooms nor the hospitality of those who own them, but I’d rather ride a train back and open a door with a key that I’m not borrowing. When I can finally unlock the door to a place of my own, I’ll dazzle you with a detailed story of bumming and begging, worrying and waiting, complete with a happy ending.

Apartment-hunting might be the most pressing (and depressing) aspect of my New York experience so far, but it’s not the only one, and the others are much better.

Work has finally become enjoyable, as well as profitable. It was hard at first transferring from the Bubba Gump in Honolulu to the one in New York, but only because it was a strangely retroactive sensation to go from a seasoned, server-training old-timer to the new guy who needs to ask where we store to-go boxes. However, the menu is mostly the same, the layout of the restaurant was easy to learn, and being a transfer from the far away Hawaiian islands makes for an easy conversation starter. I’m adjusting quickly. Now that I’ve been working pretty consistently for a couple weeks, I’m known by most of the other servers and have a good report with a handful of them. These new coworkers, by the way, are for the most part actors aspiring to make it big on Broadway. They can sing, they can dance, and they all ask me what my “thing” is. It’s quite an entertaining group of peers. They can in no way replace the friends I’ve made at the Honolulu Bubba Gump, but it’s nice to run into a familiar face on the subway.

Jenn came in during one of my first shifts at the Bubba Gump in Times Square. Weird thing is, this is the first photo I’ve seen of me in my work uniform, and I’ve been a server for over two years.

Exploring the city’s wide range of food options has been another great aspect of my experience, especially because I do it with my girlfriend. After I get out of work, I meet up with Jenn — usually at a nice coffee shop in an upscale Manhattan neighborhood — and we venture out in search of a good, affordable meal. We almost always find an interesting restaurant that settles our cravings for that day (whether it be pizza, a burger, Chinese, etc.) and are rarely disappointed. During the first week or two, we made sure to save half our dinner to be our breakfast the following day in an effort to cut down costs. However, dining out takes its toll, even on my restaurant-blogging girlfriend. We’ve since opted to cook breakfast and dinner, eating out for only one meal. This not only saves money (breakfast is consisted of eggs, bacon, and fried toast while dinner is fancy Top Ramen), but also occupies our time with one of our favorite activities: cooking. Even though it’s not our kitchen nor our cooking ware, the meals we make together are completely ours, and that makes them special.

Not having a place of our own yet has been fine since all we do at our friends’ place is cook, eat, and sleep. For the most part, Jenn and I are busy roaming the greatest city in the world. We’ve watched fireworks over the Hudson River and a sunset from a park in Chelsea; we’ve eaten raw beef at a Korean restaurant and pot stickers from a food cart; we’ve stumbled upon swing dance festivals at the Lincoln Center and a massive yoga class in Times Square. We’re living it up. Now it’s just time to settle in.

The signature ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar just might be better than any I’ve had in Hawaii.

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Young Man Went West #33: Someone’s Been Checking You Out!

If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning, you may have noticed that Jenn is the first girl I’ve ever really written about. It is not because I had nothing to write about on the subject of dating until now, but rather because none of it was positive. To do so before would have been an exercise in self-pity, most likely devolving into woe-is-me, Nice Guy rants. There is enough of that on the Internet; I thought I’d spare you.

Needless to say, I suck at dating. I hate “the Game.” I mean, give me some face-to-face time with a person and I could pique their interest with witty repertoire and a smile, but that’s not how it works. Nobody gives you that time, you earn it by throwing one-liners and free drinks at any pretty thing on two legs. Eventually, you end up buying a meal for someone who looked better in the dark and sounded smarter before they spoke. I couldn’t operate in that system.

That’s why I signed up for OkCupid, one of those free casual dating site. I figured you would come across as many undesirable people as you would at a bar, but had the added bonus of screening them for potential before wasting your money on their drink. Also, you’d have all the time in the world to figure out what to say.

What I found out was there are a great number of undesirable people on this island, and those who aren’t rarely respond. So many of the profiles I browsed showcased unflattering photos, weird interests, and/or deplorable grammar. Apparently, social networking sites are where sensible syntax and necessary punctuation go to die. So my account, like my real world love life, lay dormant for a long while.

That is, until I came back from my road trip. It were as though the life points I racked up by being awesome and exploring the country returned with me to Honolulu and spread out into my normal life. I got my place back with lower rent, I got my job back with awesome new coworkers, and I found an e-mail waiting for me that, little did I know, would change my life.

“Hey Anthony, someone’s been checking you out!”

That’s the subject line OkCupid uses in the e-mails they send you to inform you that another user was browsing your profile. I’d get those every once in a while, but the links often brought me to those aforementioned profiles. This one, however, this very first one I received upon returning to Honolulu linked me to the profile of a recent college graduate with modest photos, a keen interest in arts and social issues, and impeccable grammar. I figured I’d send her a message.

The messages I’d previously send to other users were often long, witty, over-edited speeches about common interests and our potential for compatibility. I rarely received replies. So, in a jaded, carefree manner, I kept it short and to the point. You’re interesting. Let me buy you dinner. And wouldn’t you know it? That worked. This girl replied, first asking to know more about me, then later asking where we should eat. I had only just started back up at Bubba Gump’s, but I figured I had enough dough for one date.

Now, as I mentioned, I was in a somewhat jaded state about dating at this point. I had always looked for a relationship and got nowhere. I figured, with this Internet girl, I’d just enjoy myself and expect nothing. I wasn’t even expecting her to be all that attractive; few of her photos revealed her body and all of them obscured her face somehow, save for a great smile. Apparently, that–and her interest in foreign films–was enough for me.

So there I sat in a small wine and tapas place I’d never heard of but lived close to, looking forward to promising conversations with an average looking girl. Suddenly, a stunningly-dressed, petite young woman with eyes as gorgeous as the smile I recognized approached my table.

“Anthony?” she asked.

More like Jackpot Winner, I thought.

She sat down and conversation started to flow naturally. Still, I stayed within my self-set guidelines:

  • Ask her questions about herself. Show interest, sincerely or otherwise.
  • Smile and make eye contact.
  • Don’t talk about myself too much. If she asks, answer completely and briefly, then turn it back to her.
  • Mention, but don’t talk in great length about: my road trip, why I moved to Honolulu, studying abroad, how much I love my family, and how I was a camp counselor for young children with juvenile arthritis the past three summers. Spark the interest, leave it alone, then let her ask.
  • If it fits in the conversation, also offhandedly mention volunteering at an orphanage in Mexico.
  • Forget that last guideline; that’s too much. Way too much.

My guidelines seemed to work. I was having a fun time getting to know her and I didn’t feel like I was babbling on too much, like I tend to do. We talked about college, film, future plans. All the normal things. We also talked about OkCupid and how we each used it. Unlike me, who signed up over a year prior yet reaped no benefits, she signed up only a few days before and was already on her first date. She consciously chose unflattering photos to ward off shallow meatheads, and wrote about her senior thesis in length on her profile wall to ward off idiots. The photos didn’t faze me and the senior thesis was a turn on. Things were going well. . .

Until the check arrived.

I guess I wasn’t used to higher end places because I figured a fifty-dollar bill would cover it, backed up by my debit card. Little did I know, three glasses of wine, my escargot, and whatever meal she got added up to nearly $80. Secretly shocked, I told him to use the cash first and put the rest on my card. Why did I only bring a $50?!

I continued on with our conversation, but the waiter came back with a look on his face that carried no good news. The card was declined. No worries, I thought, I’ll just try the debit card from my mainland account. However, my finger found emptiness in the slot in my wallet where that card should be. I riffled through my wallet several times before thinking, “Look, I have literally have no more money to give and I’m sure she does. Why shouldn’t she pay for part of it? I mean, we both ate and drank, and this is the 21st Century!”

Untimely progressive ideals clouded the spot in my brain where shame should have been as I asked her with feigned embarrassment to cover the rest. Without hesitation nor the slight inclination of disapproval, she did. Covering the rest of the check didn’t bother her at all, or at least she didn’t let on that it did. That was when I was hooked.

We carried on with the rest of the evening as though I didn’t just perform the biggest date faux pas, and within the next few days, she had agreed to a second date.

Meeting online and splitting checks? A new age of dating had emerged, and I was top dog.

Our first photo together, taken a few weeks after that awesome first date.

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Young Man Went West #29-B: Winter Trip Facebook Statuses, Unabridged (Pt. 2)

Day 3-4: Flew into LA with Lawrence Burkart and hung around PV. Next day, romped around a rainy Disneyland with Amanda Bates in tow. Ended the night at the Long Beach Bubba Gump’s.

My college roommate Lawrence had spent the few days prior showing his girlfriend, Polina, and buddy, Connor, around the Bay Area, as they were all visiting from Northwestern for winter break.  Polina–born in Russia, raised in Texas, and living in Chicago–had been to California before, but it was Connor’s–born and raised in Kansas, living in Chicago–first time.  Our original plan was to meet up and road trip it down Southern California, but that fell through because neither of us had a car.  Minor details.  So instead, we booked a cheap flight to LA.  I met up with Lawrence and his Chicago crowd at Oakland Airport.

Lawrence’s high school/college buddy, Aaron, picked us up from LAX and drove us to their hoighty-toighty town of Palos Verdes.  We’re talking big houses on a hill, clear views of the ocean, and wild peacocks–the fancy man’s pigeon–roaming the streets.  After some Chinese food and board games, we turned in relatively early so we could be up in time to reach Disneyland when the gates opened.

We woke up bright and early. . . minus the bright part.  Giant grey clouds threatened the coming of rain.  We crossed our fingers for an empty threat.

Disneyland itself is pretty exciting, but what I was looking forward to the most was meeting up with my good friend Amanda.  I had worked with her at Bubba Gump’s, but she left last summer for San Diego, which means she was relatively close and willing to drive up to spend a day in the park with us.  She arrived at the gates not too long after we did.  It was great to see her again after half a year.  Her smile was just as bright, but she lost a little bit of her Hawaiian tan.  I let her know right away.

Amanda amid the drizzle at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Our party now numbering six, we entered the Magic Kingdom, grey clouds still looming overhead.  Our first stops were Space Mountain, Astro Blaster, and the Matterhorn.  The lines were insignificant, so we shot from one to the next in no time, and still dry.  However, as we were drifting to the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, we noticed that those in line donned wet jackets and ponchos.  The clouds had made good on their threat.

We scurried to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in a drizzle, and then to the Indiana Jones ride in a light rain.  By the time we got out, Amanda and I had decided it was time to give in and buy some ponchos.  They cost us six bucks a piece and a weird conversation with a fedora-wearing shop worker in Adventureland.

The rain only got harder as the day went on.  Luckily, most of the rides were indoor.  I think we hit up Space Mountain again and then the Haunted Mansion before hopping over to California Adventure park.  Our first order of business: food.  Of course, with the whole park trying to stay dry and outside seating out of commission, finding a place to sit was an adventure itself.  The majority of our group stood in line for the food while Polina and I scouted out potential tables.  She took one side of the restaurant, I took the other.

We stalked around from table to table, judging each party’s estimated time of departure, eyeballing those whose plates sat empty while they lounged a bit longer.  We lurked in the corners, ready to swoop in like vultures.  I had entered into an alliance with another man who was occupying a four-top while waiting for the adjacent six-top I had my eye on.  He told me he had claimed the larger table already, but would make sure I got the smaller one once they shifted over.  A small table was better than no table, so I happily accepted.  Ultimately, it was an unnecessary deal, as Polina had acquired a six-top on the other side of the restaurant.  I thanked the man, gave my table to some nearby vultures, and joined Polina in holding down fort.  Somehow, our burgers tasted better under envious gazes of table-less patrons.

We braved the rainstorm through a few tours of the Hollywood Tower of Terror, Soarin’ Over California, and even the outdoor rollercoaster California Screamin’.  Raindrops at that speed feel like hail pelting your face.  However, by about five o’clock, the rain was a straight-up downpour and we collectively decided we couldn’t hold out for the fake snow and fireworks that occur near closing.  I’m not even sure if it happened that night.  We left drenched but not down-spirited.  Disneyland is still Disneyland and we had a great time.  Well, I can’t speak for Connor, who was looking forward to some California sunshine between the snows of Chicago and Kansas.

Connor: "This is not the California weather you promised me, Lawrence!" (from Connor's album, but I took the picture, so I'm gonna use it!)

Sweetly and sorrowfully, I parted ways with Amanda and the rest of us headed back to Palos Verdes.  We put on some clean clothes, had some filling and discounted meals at the Long Beach Bubba Gump’s, and ended the night with more board games.

Connor, Polina, Lawrence, and Aaron on the early shuttle out of the park.

Day 5-6: Explored a rainy Venice Beach w/Lawrence Burkart & co., then had awesome coffee talk w/Ian Villanueva & Sarah Prochaska in downtown LA’s Farmer’s Market. Ended the night making spam musubi w/Leslie O’Neill. Hit up Santa Monica Pier w/Lawrence & co. the following day before flying back to the Bay.

The rain in LA continued on through the next few days.  Luckily, it was only a slight drizzle when Lawrence, Polina, Connor, and I walked around Venice Beach.  It was my first time in Venice Beach, I’d realized, but it definitely felt familiar.  Lawrence described it as Berkeley on the beach.  It sure as hell smelled like Telegraph Ave.  The walkway was nearly empty, only a handful hobos and junkies riding about on stolen bikes.  I loved the place immediately.  We got a bite to eat at a (covered) sidewalk cafe and left.

While the rest of the crew headed into the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), I met up with Ian and another great college buddy named Sarah whom I haven’t seen since graduation.  Sarah and I had a lot of catching up to do, but it was okay because she talks faster than anyone I know.  She was able to relate the past year and a half–in detail–in a few hours.  The three of us chatted over coffee and then wine (I know!  So grown up!) at the LA Farmers Market, which, by the way, is the cleanest and most organized farmers market I’ve ever seen.  I don’t think it counts.  Later, we walked around a really posh, outdoor mall called The Grove.  I didn’t realize how much I missed Sarah until that night.  She’s a good friend with great dating tips.  I’d love for her to come out here and wingwoman for me.  And by the way, there’s no lack of love for Ian, too.  It’s just I see that dude all the time.

I said my goodbyes to one good friend and Ian dropped me off at the house of another: Leslie.  We made Spam musubi, one of her favorite discoveries from visiting me in Hawaii, and then she fell asleep watching an episode of The Wire (which I still want back, Leslie!).  See, Leslie has one of those grown-up jobs and has to wake up early all the time, like five times a week!  But not me, I stayed up and watched Jaws by myself.  It was my first time (shocking!).  A little dated, but still a good flick.

Leslie

Funny little sidenote:  My flight back to the Bay Area was the next day, December 22nd.  I had booked it for 9:30 PM, but for some reason, had it in my head that it was at 9:30 AM.  I had plans to fly into Oakland, BART it to Berkeley and meet up with my friend Olivia, then head to Livermore in the late afternoon so my family and I could go Christmas tree shopping.  Fortunately, I checked my flight details a few days prior and caught the mistake.  Unfortunately, I had to cancel the aforementioned plans.  So instead. . .

The next morning, Leslie dropped me off at a mall in Beverly Hills before heading off to work.  I did some last minute Christmas shopping and then Lawrence and friends picked me up on their way to Santa Monica.  The sunlight peaked out from behind the rainclouds as we walked around Third Street Promenade, a long outdoor pedestrian mall with interesting shops, nice restaurants, and the most helpful tour guide I’d ever met.  It did rain a bit, but fortunately only while we were eating.  It dried up again as we strolled along the Santa Monica Pier (they also have a Bubba’s.  Yes, I went inside).  I’m glad Connor got to see a little sun before heading to his snowy Kansas home.  We both had flights that night.

The So Cal leg of my trip had come to a close.  I met a lot of old friends, and made a couple new ones.  Disneyland was a minor letdown, but I discovered parts of LA I actually liked.  A lot of good memories were stuffed into a few short days, with many more to come upon my return to the Bay.

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Young Man Went West #23-C: California Chronicles, Part III

California Chronicles: Part III—Around the Bay and Beyond

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Glen Ellen (Camp Milagros) ∙ Livermore ∙ San Francisco

Camp officially ended around noon on Sunday, so I still had half that day plus the following three to see as many people in as many places as I could before leaving.  I slept almost the entire drive back home.  The power nap came in handy, as not long after I dropped my duffle of dirty clothes in the laundry room, my parents and I took off for San Francisco.  We were going to meet my sister and her boyfriend Amit at the Bubba Gump’s at Pier 39.  You’d think I’d want to take a break from that place during my time off, but my motive was two-fold: I wanted to see how easy it would be to try out my employee discount at another location, and a family dinner was my mom’s belated birthday gift, so it might as well be a half-priced dinner.  Fifty bucks for dinner for five ain’t bad at all.

After finding a sweet shirt at the market (a black retro tee my coworkers envy), we took our seat at a corner booth near the front.  Sitting in a different Bubba’s is a strange experience; everything is completely brand new yet strangely familiar at the same time.  I was in a parallel universe.

I’d told my family to not let the server know I was an employee because I wanted to see how his service compared to that at my location.  At first, I wasn’t impressed.  He came around half as often as I do, and didn’t start trivia until we asked.  I later found out that he was the bartender as well, so I forgave him.  Also, he had some good trivia questions.  When he realized I wasn’t answering until the questions were too hard for my dad and sister, he figured out that I was an employee.  He gave me the discount without asking for proof, and I gave him twenty percent, base rate for a server-to-server tip.

We parted ways with my sister and Amit after dinner, and my parents and I just strolled around Fisherman’s Wharf for a few hours.  It was great to talk with my parents, to see and smell the City, to wear layers.  It was great to be back.

My sister and me at Bubba Gump's in San Francisco

Monday, August 9, 2010

Berkeley ∙ Livermore

One half day in Berkeley was not enough, so I woke up Monday morning and hopped on BART to the Downtown Berkeley station on Shattuck.  First, I met up with Bianca and had pizza and beer at Jupiter’s.  Wait, I need to emphasize that: I had gourmet, brick oven pizza and locally-brewed beer at one of my favorite ale houses in Berkeley.  I was in heaven, and with good company.  Bianca, a fellow UC Berkeley Film Studies graduate, also works an entry-level job at a museum.  We met up with Nate afterwards, who graduated a year before me and is still on the job hunt.  Every friend I meet makes me feel better about my post-graduate situation, but worse about the trend in general.  At least we’re all in it together!

Two friends in tow, I headed to campus and met up with two more, Felicity and Taylor.  They’re still in school, so they’re all bright-eyed and hopeful about the future.  Just they wait.  We strolled through our lovely Alma Mater and past Memorial Stadium because I wanted to see the construction progress on the soon-to-be Student High Peformance Athletic Center.  Not much progress since I left, as expected.

After a quick bite at Gypsy’s, we dropped Bianca off at BART and explored a bit of North Berkeley.  For those unfamiliar with the area, North Berkeley is nice Berkeley.  It’s a clean, high-brow neighborhood home to more professors and less panhandlers.  In true North Berkeley style, we made our last stop a tea house terrace.  The weather was perfect, the tea was tasty, and we had a fun time pretending to be sophisticated.

I returned to Livermore that night in time for my childhood friend Matt’s 24th birthday party at none other than First Street Ale House.  The room was filled with a few familiar faces—namely Tasha, Casey, Justin, and Anna—but mostly strangers.  This was the social circle Matt developed over the past five years, and while he has these people and I have my college and Hawaii friends, we still came together like high school was yesterday.  He’s still the same old silly, caring, goofy, honest Matt with whom I grew up.  I hope I haven’t changed too much.

Bianca, Taylor, Nate, Felicity, and me around the Pappy Statue at UC Berkeley

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sacramento

I had known before I left Hawaii that I was going to spend significant time in Sacramento, not only because my sister lived there, but also (and mainly) because that’s where my college roommate Jake moved to after we graduated.  Jake, Lawrence, and I shared the same small living spaces for four years, and now we reside in three different time zones.  While I couldn’t take a detour to Chicago to visit Lawrence, I did have the opportunity to see Jake again, and I was definitely going to take it.  Jake joined my family for dinner at a classy beer and pizza place (notice a trend?) and then we attempted to catch an early screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  Although he won the tickets from the radio, they oversold the screening and we got there too late.  No worries though, the theater was a short walk from Old Sacramento and Jake’s new place of employment on the Delta King, a hotel-slash-restaurant on a boat.

My old friend gave me a tour of the boat and of Old Sac.  It’s an interesting little town, but not as interesting as the conversations we had, about anything and everything, as usual.  Jake and I operate on the same brainwaves, no pretenses, no social walls, no awkward silences.  It was refreshing.  Too bad Lawrence couldn’t be there.

I got to see the apartment he lives in with his longtime girlfriend, Jessi.  It was definitely cleaner than our digs in Berkeley, and was furnished with a giant TV and two awesome cats.  After joining my sister and her friends for a couple drinks downtown, he took me to a bar across the street from his place and we split a pitcher of beer over foosball and pool.  A simple good time with a simply great friend.

Jake, Jessi, and their two cats--Lucius Vorenus and Niobe--in their Sacramento apartment

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sacramento ∙ Lotus ∙ San Francisco

I spent the night on Jake and Jessi’s couch, falling asleep to TMNT.  We finished the Ninja Turtles movie the next morning and then went out for breakfast.  There are never sad goodbyes with Jake and I, just see-you-laters.  And I will.  Hell, he’s half-serious about moving to Seattle when I do.

I had plans to see some friends in San Francisco, but seeing as I was so close to Lotus, my dad suggested I first stop by there to see my grandma.  Lotus is about an hour northeast of Sac, but two hours back to Livermore.  Still, I went.

When I got there, it was only grandma, Uncle Junior, and Auntie Tessy.  I saw “only” because I’m used to that house filled with ten to eighty people.  It was like visiting an amusement park during the offseason.  My auntie and uncle were glad to see me and asked me tons of questions while forcing me to eat.  I declined food four or five times before giving in.  It’s hard to say no when your relative is already making you a plate.

The house is in a constant state of renovation, and besides a well-tended garden, the newest additions to the Lotus house were a poolside bamboo nipa hut and matching tiki bar.  Our family parties are going to amazing!

The Nipa Hut and Tiki Bar at our house in Lotus

After about an hour of eating unnecessarily and watching Filipino game shows, I headed back to Livermore, took a shower, and drove to the BART station to catch a train to the Mission District.  When I got there, my friend Juliana was finishing up work and Nate was still on his way over, so I had some time to just wander around the Mission solo for a bit.  I’d never really explored this area beyond the taquerias, but got excited as I imagined myself living there in five to ten years.  It’s an interesting neighborhood filled with impressive street art, small bars, and an abundance of Mexican restaurants.  I put it on my “to move to” list

I finally met up with my friends at Juliana’s super nice, very San Francisco-y house, and by that I mean a house that looks tall and small in the front, but extends quite far back.  We had some Mission Mexican food while I ranted about Hawaii’s problems (namely, how it lacks a rail system, recycling programs, and available girls).  I love the island, but not as much as complaining about it in front of people who so desperately want to go.  My ranting quieted a bit when my torta al pastor came out.  It wasn’t as good as what I scarfed down daily in Mexico, but it was far better than anything I could find in Hawaii (another thing it’s lacking).

Nate and I hit a bar for a bit to give Juliana some time to study as she’s one of my few friends that actually does school work.  She still hasn’t learned the art of studying just enough to BS your way through a class.  She must have graduated from Berkeley the hard way.  By the time we got back to her house, Juliana was ready for a break, so we played Clue.  Board games are such simple pleasures; I don’t know why people don’t play as often.  A few hours and YouTube videos later, Juliana was ready for more reading so Nate and I headed back to our respective homes.  We said our goodbyes and took off into the night.

Juliana shows off her awesome apron in her San Francisco house

***

Revisiting California was a refreshing break from monotony.  I soaked in my ability to recycle, to wear jackets, to drive 80+ miles per hour.  As I left those things behind, I took with me the knowledge that no matter how far I move or for how long, I will always have friends and family in Califoria ready to welcome me back home, hopefully over some pizza and beer.

FIN

Sigh, I guess it was time to leave California and come back to this. . .

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YMWW #19: Side Projects

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Due partially to a busy schedule but mostly to a lack of computer, I was forced into a small hiatus from writing. But now, after acquiring some free time and a new laptop, I’m back. And, boy, do I have some things to share with you!

The Wedding Photographer

Over a month ago, I met an amateur photographer on a tiny island off Lanikai Beach. He asked if I could take a picture of him (because “photographers are never in their own photos”) and we started talking a bit. You know, general small talk nonsense. He asked me to take a look at his website and tell him what I thought. So I checked it out and, well, let’s just say it screamed “amateur.” And that’s sugarcoating it. I told him as nicely as possible that it was crap and suggested a new webpage designing site through which he could create a better website. I eventually helped him design it and, about a week later, found myself tabling at his booth at a wedding convention in Honolulu. Now, this guy has the motivation and the people skills—and the dough—to start a wedding photography business, but I think he’s a few photography classes short of making a real name for himself. With that said, I’m not sure if I will continue to help him with his business, but I at least got paid for my work at the convention!

The Artist

In the #17 blog entries, I related my experience of working on a week-long photo shoot set. Well, in an attempt to hunt down some payment for my effort, I eventually got into contact with the photographer Amit. After settling my payment, he offered me a part-time job helping him complete some art projects he’s been wanting to finish. Since I’d been doing almost nothing with my days but wait around the house until my shifts at Bubba Gump’s started, I happily agreed.
For the past few weeks, every free morning I have is spent in Amit’s house on Diamond Head Crater, doing one random art project or another. So far, I’ve put photographs into an album, sorted through and separated literally thousands of photographs, stenciled poems letter by letter onto fancy paper and photographs, used a typewriter to transcribe his poems onto fancy paper and photographs, and glued random images into a book. Sometimes the work is interesting, sometimes it’s tedious, but no matter what, it makes me feel productive, which is exactly what I was looking for. Also, I get paid $7 an hour in cash every week. You can’t argue extra income.

The Article

In an attempt to pursue my writing opportunities, I contacted FLUX Hawaii Magazine and expressed interest in writing for their magazine. That eventually led to an interview, after which nothing happened for a good while. Then, one day, I was deep into an art project at the Diamond Head house when I got a call from FLUX Hawaii’s Creative Director Cody Matsukawa. He offered me a trial assignment: to interview a band from Maui at their first headlining concert in Honolulu. The interview and concert review would be published on their website and, if they like the result, they’d offer me assignments for the actual magazine.

Well, here’s the article.

The assignment was amazing. I was kind of nervous doing my first ever interview, but as soon as I met The Throwdowns, it was fun as all hell. The magazine paid for my drinks, got me backstage to hang with the band, and gave me access to the VIP section to watch the concert.

I’m still waiting to hear back from Cody to see if this will lead to another assignments. Of course, as soon as I know, you’ll all be the first to hear about it!

The Grand Reveal

Not too much to write about this latest update because, well, you’ve read it all before. Literally.
Check this out: www.YoungManWentWest.com

Later days!

Jarah Mariano also apologizes for taking so long to see you again.

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YMWW #17-C: Photo Intermezzo, Part III

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

(Originally posted on Facebook)

In music and theater, an intermezzo is a light, short composition between two major bodies of work. It means “intermediate.” I first came across the term during an enormous, multicourse meal courtesy of Ian’s parents in Reno last year (that intermezzo was a tiny glass cup with sorbet and champagne, which arrived after the appetizers and before the main dish). As I saw it, the photo shoot gig was my work intermezzo, nestled between a job at Whole Foods Market and a job at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Day Five, February 18th, Hidden Trail on Diamond Head Crater

View of Diamond Head from the parking lot where I picked up the actors

As I biked through the chilly morning air to Amit’s house once again, my mind was not on my task ahead as a production assistant, but rather on my obligation later that afternoon. It was Thursday, and that meant I had an orientation at Bubba Gump. The orientation was originally scheduled for the previous Thursday, meaning I would have had to miss out on most of the photo shoot that followed. As luck would have it, the orientation was postponed and I got to partake in all the wonderful adventures described in my previous notes.

It was another early call time. Maybe too early, as I arrived at a sleeping house. Most of the lights were off and all of the rooms were still. So, I used the side entrance to the kitchen and just read my book until things got going. Slowly but surely, old friends and new faces began filtering in to the kitchen searching for a morning pick-me-up that only coffee can give them. And, like always, I drove to the nearest parking lot to pick up some of the actors. Well, at least I think I did. These days were kind of blurring together.

Thursday’s shoot was on a trail on a fenced off side of Diamond Head Crater. Yes, we were trespassing again, but no one was going to kick us out of this place. It wasn’t a Lost set, so no one would care. The beginning of the shoot, for me, involved a lot of running up and down this trail, transporting equipment and leading the actors to the location. Once everything was in place, though, the crew had little to do. We began playing get-to-know-you games. We guessed each others’ ages, ethnicities, and even middle names. No one guessed “Vanderlipe.” It was another one of those revealing campfire moments that brings people closer together, if not just merely keeping them occupied.

I left the set a bit early to make it to my orientation on time. I could have left several hours earlier as the crew was just sitting around doing nothing, but I didn’t want to miss out on the sitting around. Just because you are doing nothing does not mean nothing is happening.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawai’i

I got to Bubba Gump on time and met the other newbies. There was another Anthony; he had moved here from St. Louis a few months after me. He was the only one in the group who got a job as a dishwasher. I had met Katie a week earlier when I had gone in for my not-then-aware-it-was-postponed orientation and she was there for her interview. She is a UH student who moved here from San Diego a few months before me. She has a pretty eyes—and equally impressive other parts. Harry was the freshest immigrant, having moved here from somewhere on the East Coast maybe a month or two ago. His last name is Johnson. Yes, that makes him Harry Johnson. “Middle school was awesome,” he informed us with a deadpan stare.

Neither Katie nor other Anthony had the proper forms with them, so only Harry Johnson and I were left to go through the THREE-AND-A-HALF HOUR orientation. We read through the handbook, sampled some food, and got our homework. Yes, homework. Bubba Gump is known for their gruelling, four-stage training program. By Stage One, we were to have the appetizers and non-alcoholic drinks memorized, not just what they are, but their ingredients and garnishes, too. We also had to memorize the “Top Ten” employee creed, the table numbers, and sections. To be honest, I was a bit glad to have homework. Too often I’d come home from work with nothing to do but watch a movie or surf the Internet. Having a goal to accomplish would give me a sense of purpose, no matter how small or temporary. The cherry on top of my sundae of responsibility: my Stage One was scheduled for Saturday evening, meaning I could still work Friday’s and Saturday’s photo shoots.

Day Six, February 19th, Reservoir Clean-up and House Party

Abandoned Reservoir with Diamond Head in the background

I biked to Amit’s place with a backpack full of training materials and empty index cards. My downtime now would consist of menu memorization. Of course, I had to start studying on the biggest production day of the shoot: the house party. Fortunately, the house party would not start until that evening. Unfortunately, I had a major task to do that morning.

Up near the trail of the previous day’s shoot was an abandoned reservoir, which has been taken over by graffiti artists for some time. This huge concrete bunker is set in the side of Diamond Head Crater, an industrial ruin hidden by natural beauty. The walls are covered with graffiti pieces and the ground is carpeted with empty beer bottles and spray cans, rusty tin roof panels and rotting wood. The threat of tetanus lurked near every step. Our major task was to clear that ground for the following day’s shoot.

The clean-up crew consisted of me, Simran, and Bean Dip—the only Mexican I’ve met in Hawai’i. Despite our small group size, we got the middle of that ground cleared in no time, and we had fun doing it. Nothing is more gratifying than physical labor, especially the kind that involves chucking huge pieces of metal, jumping on wooden beams, and smashing glass bottles against concrete walls. We returned to the house by late morning, grinning through dirt and sweat.

Close-up of one of my favorite pieces

The hours between the reservoir clean-up and the house party were spent studying. Well, at least, that was my aim. It’s hard to study in a house filled with over a hundred interesting people. I got to talking with some of the newer people, as well as with some returning ones. Fortunately, a lot of the conversations included a discussion of my new job and the homework that went along with it. Several people even quizzed me, which was nice. Remember Lauren with the nice smile? She came back, and we started talking again. We discovered we both like to travel and started discussing where we’ve been and where we’d like to go. I told her about my study abroad trip in Mexico. She told me about her long-distance relationship with her boyfriend. I went back to studying.

As the sun sunk lower in the sky and the energy of the house rose, I studied less and less frequently. I eventually packed up all my material and switched to full production assistant mode. Once everyone was dressed and all the shots were more or less planned out, Amit gathered everyone around—roughly 120 people—and gave a breakdown of the evening. Once again, he asked the crew to raise their hands. Once again, I smiled proudly on the inside.

By now, I was a trusted member of the crew, and all night long I was right in the action. Granted, I was only carrying one of the four lights they needed, but that meant I was right behind the photographer the entire time. The actors mingled, sang, danced, and carried on as though it were a real party. The crew moved through the crowd, taking pictures of this group doing one thing, then another group doing something else. We kept working after most of the crowd was allowed to leave and all that was left were a couple actors and a skeleton crew, of which I was a part. It was definitely the longest day, but also the most interesting. I got home pretty late that night, but continued to study until I passed out with a pen in my hand and my head on the desk.

Day Seven, February 20th, Abandoned Reservoir

View from the top of the ladder

Saturday was my final day on the set, as was most people’s. I felt as though I had come full circle, starting off as an inconsequential lackey to and evolving into a top crew member. It took a few hours to get all the equipment and actors into the reservoir. Though, because of all the time and hard work I put into that place, I almost felt like it was my reservoir.

On top of the ridiculously revealing clothing and sharp edges everywhere, the set was made even more dangerous with the presence of kids and animals. Some of the kids had trouble climbing into the reservoir, but once they were in, they were running and jumping around. The animals we had on set, colorful birds of every size, were squawking and pooping everywhere. Add a blazing sun and little water and you have yourself the most difficult production day. Well, if you were an actor. We crew members were off to the side, in the shade, out of the shot. I eventually got into the mix holding the giant reflector or supporting a leaning photographer. Once I ran back to the house to fetch Daeja her memory cards, returning with some food and water for her. She said I could be her assistant on any project. I am going to hold her to that.

Though the day was nearly done by early afternoon, I left the set early to get ready for my first day of training. Nearly everybody on the set was aware that I was studying to be a Bubba Gump server, so they wished me luck as I climbed out of the reservoir. I paused halfway up the ladder to look out at the people I was leaving behind, the good friends I had made during the week. I stood there reflecting on my wonderful experience on the set of unique photo shoot.

“Run, Forrest, run!” yelled Amit to me, “You’re in the shot!”

I quickly scuttled up the ladder and ran off to my next great adventure.

THE END

Here is the last photo I’ll be sharing from my friend Daeja. You can see more at www.daejafallas.com

Roxy models will return next week.


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YMWW #16-B: The Shrimpish Inquisition, Part II

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Six days ago, I held my breath as my boss walked up to me. How was he going to take the news? I could easily see him taking my resignation personally, asking a billion questions why I’d quit. As I scooped a bowl of brown rice, he said, “I heard you were looking for me.”

I took a deep breath. “Yes. I, uh, I have to leave.”
“Okay.”
(‘Okay’?! He must have thought I was asking to leave the shift early!)
“The job!” I clarified. “I have to leave the job. I have to quit.”
“Okay,” he replied, still unconcerned. “By when?”
“. . . By the twelfth,” I stuttered, still bewildered.
“Of this month?”
“Yes.”
“Okay.”
(‘Okay’?!)
“Okay. . . ”

My boss walked away unchanged. I’ve seen him become more emotionally vexed about my not changing the oil in the deep fryer. Did that really just happen? I continued scooping the rice in a mixed state of disbelief, doubt, and—more prominently—relief. All I had to do now was ace my interview the next day. . .

Caramel-Filled Chocolate: The Third Interview with Tree

Caramel-Filled Chocolates are sweet and satisfying, but last forever. And while these sugar-centered treats share similar qualities with my third interview, I must admit it isn’t a perfect metaphor. Caramel-filled chocolates take a long time to finish; my interview took a long time to start.

My third interview was once again forty-five minutes after I got off of work. And once again, my gracious cousins let me borrow their car so I could get to Bubba Gump in time. I was ready for this one: I not only had practice, but I also was sporting my UC Berkeley t-shirt, a sure-fire way to impress someone named Tree. Avoiding the freeway, I actually arrived ten minutes early. . . then waited nearly an hour. Following the disappointing end to my last interview, I was ready to leave after half an hour of waiting, but I stuck it out. The bartender even asked me at one point whether or not the managers knew I was waiting for them. Right before my breaking point, a manager named Rick came out, apologized for having me wait, and told me Tree was giving an orientation and that she’d be right with me. That bit of acknowledgment of my existence helped me endure the next ten minutes until Tree was ready to see me.

I’m sure she apologized for having me wait, but all I can really remember was how she didn’t seem that sorry. I have no idea why I wasn’t more annoyed than I should have been, but I wasn’t and I’m glad I wasn’t. Once the interview started, it went very well and I actually liked my interviewer. She seemed genuinely interested in me, my life story, my outlook on life. She was also impressed by my love of Forrest Gump. When I told her that the film was tied for second in my all-time favorite movies list, she quizzed me. I had the answers before she was done with the questions. Despite her disregard for interview start times, Tree (real name: Teresa) is actually a sweet person. “I think you’ll fit in perfectly here,” she informed me at the end of the interview, “so I would like you to come back tomorrow to meet with the general manager Mark.

Le sigh.

Geneva: The Final Interview with Mark

Geneva cookies are thin, crispy cookies covered with chocolate and peanuts on one side.

My interview with the Mark was on Friday, February 5th. Since Fridays are my half days at my soon-to-be former job, I was in no rush to get to the restaurant. I had time to work out, eat a bit, and rehearse my responses. Psyche! I had three interviews worth of rehearsal! Mr. General Manager was just another person waiting to be impressed, and I was just waiting for that chance. In fact, I had done a lot of waiting during this process. I would never have guessed that my waiting days weren’t over.
Again, I was ten minutes early. Again, I waited an hour.

Luckily, I was so numb to waiting it did not bother me. I didn’t even shock me. That’s just how things go, I felt. So, I slid open my AT&T Samsung Propel, linked up to the Internet, and started reading The Iliad on Sparknotes.com. Eventually, I had the host check in on the “manager situation” once again. A minute later, Mark comes briskly walking toward me, sincerely apologizing for the wait and wondering aloud where the communication broke down.

Mark was a understanding, honest guy, if not a little nuts. He was a fast-talking straight-shooter that was surprised that I had to do as many interviews as I did. He was also an effective interviewer, asking me the same questions I’ve answered before, but in a tone that made them new and frightening. Why should I work here? What can I do for the team? What makes me stand out above the rest? Somehow, these answers to these questions seemed made up on the spot instead of, say, refined over the past few weeks. I felt I was doing alright, but the result of the interview could go either way. Finally, Mark pulled out a brand-new obstacle for me to tackle: the drink menu.

“I want you to sell me on—” he flipped through the ping-pong paddle menu, “—Lt. Dan’s Pomegranate Punch.”

“Okay,” I said as I calmly scoured the ingredients list. Pomegranate liquor. . . pineapple juice. . . souvenir glass. . . I got this. Four years of BS-ing film papers was about to pay off.

“When people think of Hawai’i, they think of tropical drinks, like the pina colada, for example. Lt. Dan’s Pomegranate Punch is somewhat like the familiar pina colada, but with a little twist. The pomegranate liquor adds a unique sweetness while still retaining the familiarity of the tropical drinks people are used to. Plus, you get to keep the glass as a souvenir to remember the drink and this place.”

“SHUT UP. YOU’RE HIRED.”

I wasn’t even done listening to myself BS the spiel before Mark gave me the job. He was pleasantly surprised I mentioned keeping the glass. “Souvenirs, whether they be a glass or a memorable experience, are what Bubba Gump is all about!” Mark exclaimed, blatantly impressed for the first time, “How did you know to bring up the glass?”

“Because last time was here, I really wanted a drink because I wanted the glass, but I was short on cash,” I honestly replied. He smiled, gave me the details of orientation, and shook my hand with a firm grip.

The interview was exactly what I was waiting for. It was an overwhelmingly satisfying experience with a gratifying end, if not a little nuts. Just like a Geneva cookie.

And that, that’s all I got to say about that.

I finally find myself walking on a new path in life. Hopefully, my path will be as pleasant as this one seems to be.

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YMWW#16-A: The Shrimpish Inquisition, Part I

Monday, February 8, 2010

(Originally posted on Facebook)

If life is like a box of chocolates, my chocolates must be interviews. I went through four interviews in an attempt to join the fabulous team of servers at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Honolulu. Each time I returned to the restaurant, I didn’t know what I was going to get.

Milk Chocolate: The First Interview with Marci

Milk chocolate is sweet. Very sweet. Actually, milk chocolate is so sweet that by the time you’re done with it, you’re ultimately disappointed. That’s how my first interview was. I turned in my application on Wednesday, January 13th, dressed in a button-up shirt and brimming with confidence. I noticed another applicant: he was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Loser. This interview was going to be sweet.
And it was, except for the fact that it turned out to be a small group interview. Didn’t matter; the two girls that accompanied me and Mr. Casual were—to put it bluntly—not sharp. And while Mr. Casual actually turned out to be confident and experienced, he was still wearing shorts. So, by virtue of relativity, I felt I came across well during the interview. At least, I thought I did. . .
Marci told us that if they were interested, we’d get a call by that weekend. The weekend came and passed, and I got no call. Like milk chocolate, the interview was sweet, but ultimately left me disappointed.

Shortbread Chessmen: The Call Back

If you get a Pepperidge Farm box of chocolates, they usually come with shortbread cookies embossed with chess piece symbols. These monochromatic rectangles are called Chessmen, and are often overlooked. However, try one you’ll be caught off guard by its deliciousness. These Chessmen are lovely surprises, much like my call back.
On Wednesday, January 20th—exactly a week after my first interview—I got a call from Marci apologizing for taking so long to get to me and asking me if I could come in the next day for another interview. I said, “Hells yeah!” Or something like that. I like surprises.

Rolled Wafers: The Almost Second Interview

Posing as edible straws with flecks of chocolate, rolled wafers seem like a delightful treat, until you bite into them and find you’re only chomping emptiness. There’s nothing there. . . not unlike the interview I didn’t have on Thursday, January 21st.
I borrowed my cousin’s car to make sure I got to Bubba Gump forty-five minutes after I got off of work at Whole Foods. I battled a late start and rush hour traffic (with the help of Brit’s navigational skills) only to be told that the managers were busy and that I should return the next day. All the hope of a delightful experience, and then nothing.
You can read about what happened in the last blog entry, #15: “Just Another Manic Thursday”

Raspberry-Filled Chocolate: The Second Interview with Jordan

It’s hard to resist chocolate-dipped fruit, but reverse the process and it’s a different story. Because of the artificial nature (oxymoron?) of the fruit paste smuggled inside, raspberry-filled chocolates are bitter, underwhelming, and make you want something else. You get what you’re promised, but leave indifferent.
I finally got my second interview on Monday, January 25th, just like I was promised. Jordan tried to play the “tough cop.” My eloquently improvised responses were met with a straight face and an “I’ll accept that answer.” I knew he was impressed, but the truth was, I had my eye on another opportunity (which I did not get). So, when he ended the interview with “Call me in exactly one week to schedule a third interview with the general manager,” I was kind of underwhelmed with the second interview. I was actually relieved to have a week to find out if that other opportunity would pan out.

Another Rolled Wafer: The Almost Phone Call

As dissatisfying as those hollow wafers are, you still go back in hopes that it wouldn’t suck again. Maybe it’ll be sweeter, you think. It’s not.
One week passed by and I gave the restaurant a call on Monday, February 1st. “Jordan is in an interview,” the host informed me. Ironic, since I was trying to contact him to schedule one of those. “I’ll call back in half an hour,” I said. A half hour passed: “Jordan is in an interview.” “Again?!” “Oh, is this. . . Anthony?” “Yeah.” “I’m sorry about that. I can give him your number so he can call you back this time.” He didn’t.
I called him the next day, Tuesday, and he actually answered. “I heard you were trying to call me. It’s being unusually busy here.” He chuckled, and I wondered what was so funny about stringing a guy along about a job. I bit into the wafer again, and was left sorely unsatisfied.

**SURPRISE TWIST**

Later that night, I attended the first crew meeting for a fine art photography book production shoot. It will not only take on the themes of nature and fantasy, but also adopt a comic book layout: panels, speech bubbles, and all. Awesome, yeah? During the meeting, I learned of the hectic, nine-day schedule, but also heard first-hand the photographer’s passion for this project. Everybody in the crew was giving him everything they had, and I wanted to as well! I was so excited, the following day I—wait for it—told my boss at Kikka Sushi that I was quitting! Yes, that’s right, before my third interview for my next potential job, I officially put in my resignation for my current job. I told my boss that the twelfth of February would be my last day. What he didn’t know that the twelfth of February is my birthday, so leaving Kikka was kind of a birthday present to myself.
I quite my job. I had a temporary gig with an undetermined amount of pay. I possibly had a job to follow. Risky? Of course. Stupid? Probably. A mistake? Definitely not. I was leaving that job, whether I had financial security or not. My happiness is worth more than security. And besides, it’s been a while since I spat in the face of common sense.

So, did this gamble pay off? Find out in PART 2 of this blog entry!
(I promise it’ll come out tomorrow; I need sleep. . . )

Sorry to leave you guys in suspense!

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YMWW #15: Just Another Manic Thursday

Saturday, January 23, 2010

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Everybody has their ups and downs. Sometimes a good week is followed by a bad one; sometimes you ride a fortune roller-coaster in a single day. Thursday was one of the latter.

. . . However, I’m going to cheat and start with a point from Wednesday.

GOOD

I got a missed call on my phone from an unknown number during work. Feeling no reservations about putting my current task on hold, I sneaked to the break room and listened to the voice mail. It was Marci from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. apologizing for not calling earlier and asking if I’d like to come in for an interview. I called her back right after work and said “Hells yeah!” Or something like that. . .

BAD

Thursday morning. Early morning. Try, 4:15 AM. . . and I was up. I was up over an hour-and-a-half before my alarm would go off because my street is a wind tunnel and some unusually strong gusts of wind were pounding on the garage door next to which I sleep. Streams of screeching air blasted through the cracks of the door, which itself was violently shaking near my eardrums. I attempted to move to the living room couch, but my roommate was already snoozing on it, having passed out watching Season One of How I Met Your Mother. I returned to my bed and somehow managed to fall back asleep. At least, for the next hour-and-a-half.

GOOD

I finally got my first full paycheck in over a month! See, what happened was when I got my first paycheck, they accidentally gave me $600 more than I was supposed to get. When they realized their mistake—a whole two months later, sad day—they started taking increments of “prepaid” money out of my subsequent paychecks; $150 over four paychecks. The last one was a whole $12 because of the days I got off to go to California. But on Thursday I got my first full paycheck in over two months!

BAD

That paycheck, though, was supposed to come on Wednesday. But even with it now, I still don’t have enough to repay the money I owe people. Like, my landlord.

GOOD

I had an interview at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. right after work. Ala Moana Shopping Center (future workplace) is roughly a 40 to 50 minute bike ride from Kahala Mall (my current workplace). Fortunately, my family said they could lend me a car to drive there after work. I got off at 4 PM. The interview was at 4:45. The drive is ten minutes. Sweet.

BAD

Not so sweet: my cousin was later than expected dropping off the car. Not too late, but just enough to increase my heart rate a bit. . . and take away the slack time I was going to use to prep myself for the interview in the parking lot. It’s cool, I though, I’ll just take the highway and avoid all the stop signs.

GOOD

I head up the on-ramp with about 20 minutes until my interview and—

BAD

—hit rush-hour traffic. So determined to make it there on time, I forwent the one exit I knew would get me there because it would take too long. I shortly realized that I didn’t know what other exit I should take. Traffic + lost = late. . . unless I could do something about it!

GOOD

I decided to risk breaking the new cell phone driving law and called my friend Brit. While she seems to always get lost when I’m in her car, she knows exactly where to go when I’m driving and she’s on the phone. She led me through a chill, back entrance approach and I parked in time to walk briskly to the restaurant, approaching the doors 60 seconds before my interview time.
“I’m here for an interview,” I said to the hostess.
“Please take a seat at the bar and a manager will be with you in one minute.”
So, I grabbed a stool and reveled in my ability (read: Brit’s ability) to get me there on time.
“Um, Anthony?” some asked from behind me.

BAD

I turned around to see not a manager, but a server. “Hi, um, all the managers are in a meeting right now, so they won’t be able to get to you soon. I don’t want you to wait all day, so can you come back tomorrow, between three and five?”
Shocked and confused, I nodded and hesitantly walked out of there.

GOOD

Not letting my trip go to waste, I went into Longs Drugs to buy some essentials: toilet paper, toothpaste, maybe some food. I just got a paycheck, I thought, I should go grocery shopping! After about twenty minutes, I had a basket full of boxed cereal and canned goods. I strolled over to the checkout stand very satisfied. The clerk was about to scan a can of sliced peaches when a thought flashed across my mind:

BAD

My paycheck would not have cleared by now; I don’t have the money for this stuff!
I stopped the clerk before she scanned my peaches to let her know I had to return everything. Well, almost everything. I left Longs Drugs with a 12-pack of toilet paper and a tuna snack pack.

GOOD

Still in a slight daze of confusion, I walked to the car, sat inside, and pulled out the tuna snack pack. $3.29 for a premixed can of tuna, a stack of crackers, a cup of diced peaces, and a cookie. A cookie! This was a complete meal for half of what I pay in the mall for lunch! A huge smile spread across my face. Despite having no money, no groceries, and no interview, I was still able to walk away with this little package of hope. I savored every bite, starting with the cookie to jump start my taste buds, continuing through the small but hearty can of tuna, cracker by cracker, and ending with a refreshing cup of peaches, its juices-in-concentrate cleansing my palate. I took a picture!

Look for it in the canned goods aisle of your local grocery store!

EVEN BETTER

After dropping off my cousin’s car and fixing my bike with zip-ties (see below photo), I went to Coffee Talk to hang out with Brit while she “worked.” I love keeping her company at her work, mostly because I get free stuff; Thursday’s freebies were a coffee shake concoction and goat cheese sandwich. Juvana showed up and Brit and I had fun keeping her out of the loop of a previous conversation; it’s our new favorite game. It was a fun ending to a roller-coaster of a day.

The screw that holds the rear rack to my bike keeps falling out. Not surprised, I shouldn’t expect two tiny screws to support the weight of the rack, a crate, and my backpack. I actually trust these two zip-ties more.

And yes, I cut off the excess plastic.

EPILOGUE

Looking back, I think Thursday taught me that no matter what happens on any given day, you can always find something to balance it out, whether it be a well-deserved tuna snack pack or the company of good friends.

PS: When I realized that the server at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. must have mistaken me for someone just turning in an application, I called the restaurant back. The manager apologized, telling me that it was not my fault at all and that the servers “don’t know anything” sometimes. I have an interview with him on Monday, and he will be there. Guaranteed.

Later days!

You have your ups, you have your downs, but if there’s a Roxy model involved, there’s always something to smile about.

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YMWW #13: It’s Pronounced “Twenty-Ten”

Monday, January 11, 2010

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Welcome to the first post of the new year! I hope you’re all keeping up with your resolutions. I am.

As you may recall, my primary New Year’s resolution is to get a new job. I have my job rant thoroughly memorized (low pay, no discount, inability to communicate with my coworkers, general lack of appreciation, etc.), so I’m sure I’ve written it here before, or at least complained to a number of you individually. Well, behold yet another—and the most pressing—reason: the only coworkers I’ve made friends with have left or will be leaving.

A not-so pleasant picture of An Qi (we pronounce it “Angie”) and a way-too-cool picture of Justin.

Justin was the only American working at Kikka Sushi when I arrived, and naturally, my favorite one to talk to. When we would work at the same time, all we did was check out women, talk about nerdy stuff, and complain about our job. He had been there a year by the time I started, and by December, that had been too long. He worked his last day at Kikka while I was in California for Christmas.

An Qi was the other person who worked with Justin and me in the teriyaki section. She doesn’t speak English well, but she speaks it often. And quickly. At first, I couldn’t tell if she was speaking Cantonese or English, but now I have an ear for her rapid broken English. I respect her for her willingness to learn, too; she’s always asking what words mean, writing down new ones and—to my suprise—usually spelling them correctly on the first try. I give her grammar lessons; Justin taught her bad words. Needless to say, it’s always fun talking with An Qi, hearing her complain about the other Chinese people and teasing her ceaselessly about everything because she does the same. Unfortunately, she’s being transferred to a Kikka on Maui in mid-February.

Now is the time to leave.

Last weekend, I went around picking up applications for several restaurants at other nearby shopping centers. I’ve decided I want to be a server because I like being on my feet, I like food, and I want tips. I’ve heard of servers who were able to pay for all the entertainment, clothing, food, and even rent with just tips. I’ve never been able to let paychecks build up. It sounds like a good plan.

I have my fingers crossed for Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Forest Gump is in my top three; every time I go to that restaurant, I get most of the trivia questions right. I can see myself getting pretty enthusiastic about this job. Wish me luck on the interview.

I also have applications for Old Spaghetti Factory, CPK and Macaroni Grill. They were right around the corner. Why not?

Now, I do have an application for a movie theater on file at Ward Center. Although working at a movie theater is the cliche loser path for a film school graduate, I figure such a status ain’t too far from server. Besides, I spend a ton of money at the theater already; it’d be nice to save money while seeing more films.

So, here’s to hoping the new year (okay, quite honestly, the new month) sees a change of employment. As for my other resolution, I’m keeping it right now. I plan to keep up my blog more frequently, as long as you all keep reading and responding.

Peace!

To keep with the theme of “change,” I present to you a Roxy model in winter clothing instead of beach gear. As you can see, still gorgeous. Also, her name is Torah Bright. Bright, like my future.

Don’t worry, we’ll return to bikinis with the next post.

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