"Oops" by Ali Cavanaugh

Learning how to say “I f***ed up”

"Oops" by Ali Cavanaugh
“Oops” by Ali Cavanaugh

A wise man once told me his most important rule was that his employees recognize when they made a mistake and come clean with a good old “I f***ed up,” so that the issue could be dealt with and moved past.

I was one of his employees, and that rule has been liberating.

It doesn’t mean that I feel liberated in the moment of screwing up, though!

Last night was not my night. All was going well on an average summer Thursday evening at the restaurant I serve at, until I communicated poorly with a fellow server and his customer ended up having to wait an extra 10 minutes for their meal.

In an attempt to repair the damage, I waited in the kitchen for the new meal to be ready, eager to get it to the waiting customer ASAP. In my excitement at seeing a pizza put in front of me, I foolishly took the pizza without double-checking that it was indeed the one I had been waiting for.

Several minutes later, after the majority of the pizza I served had been inhaled by the hungry guest, questions started surfacing about a missing pizza. When asked directly, I said I did not know anything about it. To my mind, which had been solidly in must-fix-problem-now mode, the chef had placed the pizza he knew I had been waiting around for right in front of me, so I clearly was supposed to take it, so I did.

When I walked through the kitchen for another reason a few minutes after being asked about the missing pizza, I was met with the chef’s frustration: I had, indeed, taken the wrong pizza. I was meant to serve a sausage margherita pizza. The one I stole was a bechamel pizza and had no sausage on it.

Even worse, the kitchen was temporarily out of pizza dough and bechamel sauce and the rightful owner of the bechamel pizza had been waiting for some time.

The new girl strikes again.

Oops.

What can you do in such a situation but put on your humble face, throw up your hands, and say: “I f***ed up and I’m sorry!”

(Photo source)

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My Herb Garden

Worthy Distractions

Things have been quiet on the personal blog front for a while. My apologies. First, there were final papers. Four due in five days. Let’s just say I lived on coffee, three hours of sleep per night and was very grateful to get two extensions. Then, there was exams. Oh, and losing my wallet. I […]

A Transparent Truth

The more observant of my readers may have noticed that all of my recent posts (notice I didn’t use the words frequent or regular), recent being over the last year or so, have been either about grief, ranting, or something superficial.

The reason? Fear, mostly. Fear of what others may think of me, of how those who have known me as The Good Little Missionary Girl might regard me if I delve back into the topic of faith, or get as truly

How Freakin’ Fabulous Am I? (rhetorical question)

There are a few things I’d like to say:

1. I suck for having procrastinated from writing for ever so long. You may not care, but I know the truth: I officially suck for not taking the time to record all of the freakin’ fabulous thoughts I’ve had over the last several months. Some of the blame can be laid on the following inconsequential pastimes: work, two bands plus other music projects, and being there for my family.

2. While I initially anticipated the arrival of winter with fear and trepidation, now that it has been asserting its climatic domination of my area for weeks, I’ve mostly gotten used to it. I had some noteworthy help from a few contributors: the Fionas (my amazing knee-high, sexy black leather boots), elbow-length black leather gloves, snow tires, and CAA, with an honourable mention to hemp hearts and espresso.

3. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I have a new bible that has very little to do with spirituality but everything to do with great taste. As happens with many great things, I stumbled upon this book in a local store that I hadn’t set foot in for a long while, and I can’t get enough of it. My new bible is written by What Not To Wear‘s Clinton Kelly, and it’s called: Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally be Better Than Everyone Else.

Clinton’s approach is very humourous, but truly, truly fabulous. These pages are chock-full of common-sensical advice, from how to match patterns to how-to recipes for great appetizers to good manners. I love it, and possibly not platonically! I’ve been accused of being too proper, caring too much about grammar, and being picky about lighting, and now I find myself vindicated by Mr. Kelly. Alleluia!

I simply can’t leave it at that, I’m sorry. This book will likely stay on my coffee table for decades to come, and all of you who care will be able to leaf through it and glean its wisdom for yourself. Honestly, where else can you find all of this basic good advice in one very fun, well-published, entertaining format?

This is the book that I’ve been waiting to discover for all of my adult life. Or, at least since I discovered how fabulous one can be and my true potential for achieving it.

A great paragraph:

When throwing a party, you must sanitize and guest-proof your bathroom. If the bathroom that will be used by your guests is not absolutely spotless, you will quickly get a reputation as a dirty birdy. And then, nobody will eat the food you’ve made because they’re afraid of catching hepatitis.

Just sayin’: great writing, right?

Here’s another tidbit:

If chopping onions makes you cry, hold a few unlit matches in your mouth. The sulfur is supposed to absorb some of the onion fumes. You can also hold a slice of white bread in your mouth. Either way, you’ll look like an idiot. Also, try throwing the onion in the freezer for a bit before you chop it. The colder the onion, the less fumes. Personally, I don’t mind a good cry. In fact, if I cry while chopping the onions, I’ll run to the bathroom mirror and recite one of my favorite lines from Poltergeist: “Don’t you touch my babies!!!” It’s the part where the kids are being sucked into the bedroom closet for the second time and JoBeth Wiliams is at HER WIT’S END! It’s very dramatic. (Hi, JoBeth, if you’re reading this!!!)

I mean, come on! Mixing great advice with self-deprecating humour and pop-culture references? What could be better in a self-help book?

4. I have to go now. I have some more reading to do before I’ll be ready to host any freakin’ fabulous Christmas parties. Ta Ta.

A Day in My Life, June 2008

I had a sudden desire today to chronicle and compare the different stages of my life, as I look back and notice that my life in June 2008 is remarkable different from that of June 2007, June 2006, June 2005, and so on.

I invite you to be a witness on this journey.

June 2008 finds me 27 years old, living in a two-bedroom second-floor apartment in the only apartment building in a tiny town in East Huron County called Brucefield. This town is known for it’s flashing light, yellow if you’re driving between Clinton and Exeter on Highway 4, or red if you’re coming from either Seaforth or Bayfield. There is one elementary school, one church, one drive-in restaurant, two mechanic shops, one Asian/Home Decor/B&B/Lunch Room location, and one fire station.

My apartment overlooks a cornfield, the view of which is mostly obstructed by a lovely birch tree. Said tree helps me feel more confident walking around in my apartment in less-than-decent clothing on summer nights. After all, who would be driving by slowly enough whose gaze could penetrate the birch branches in the split second I happen to be passing through my dining room, several feet from my beautiful picture window?

I enjoy living alone, though sometimes I do wish someone was there to care whether I came in or not, or to wonder where I was, or to motivate me to do dishes, finally! My neighbours are understanding and quiet, the area is safe, and I actually have a place to call home. MY home. I’ve immensely enjoyed painting and decorating my apartment, putting all of my good taste to good use in a place where I’m the boss, now and forever.

Another addition to my life is that of Trixie the Toyota, a pretty, dark-green 1997 4Runner who goes with me everywhere I go. She hauls the accoutrements of my life and hobbies without complaint. She has survived being rolled over in the ditch after skidding out on an icy country road, being hit-and-run by some unknown person, a not-so-successful attempt at backing up a trailer, and carrying some of my more treasured furniture.

Not so enjoyable are the bills that go with being established and mobile, namely cell phone, rent, insurance, hydro, phone/internet, groceries, gas, repairs, etc. I can’t say as I ever yearned for that part of nesting, but I take it in stride, usually. I’ll be much happier when I can finally get my tax returns done (for the past 2 years), pay off my credit card, and have money set aside for winter tires.

I have spent more than a year at the same job, as a server at The Brew’n Arms English pub and restaurant in Bayfield, Ontario. Earlier this year, I graduated to keyholder and Dining Room Manager, as well as Kitchen Painter and Orchid-Caretaker extraordinaire. My bosses are wonderful people who have become friends and family, as well as the most understanding and flexible supervisors anyone could ask for. They make me want to stay and do my best for them, for their business, for their town.

Last year at this time, I was also working as a drywaller, and, shocker! I don’t miss it a tiny bit. I do enjoy my refined house-painting skills, which I have recently put to good use in a “cottage” in Bayfield, and hope to expand as a second job. If you hear of someone looking to hire a house painter, give them my number!

I’m not attending church because I couldn’t handle the one I had called “home” for years. I’m generally fed up with the institution that is what church has become, with all its expectations and traditions and legalism. I would enjoy a faith-based community of believers that is honest and open, a group that can laugh and be reverent in an informal way. I really could expand this paragraph to a whole essay, but suffice it to say that I have not encountered such a community, but I still seek to hold onto my beliefs. I am discovering more of what life is like on “the other side” (outside the Christian bubble), and it’s very educational, despite occasionally dangerous.

If it were possible to live on coffee, I’d do it.

I’ve joined the wonderful realm of BlackBerry, as I once dreamed of doing. And I’m paying for it, too.

Writing is still my best communication method.

I rarely see earlier than 10 AM, or close my eyes earlier than 1 or 2 AM. I’d like to change that.

The music in my life has developed over the past year as well. I am the youngest voice of the all-female cover band, Cactus Jam, and I love it, despite playing mostly Legions. I was also privileged enough to be part of Noted!, a project sponsored by the United Way in my county, which is helping to boost the music careers of the 17 women chosen to participate. We got to record 14 tracks in a professional studio, and a great-sounding CD is the result. This past winter I also ventured out to sing a few times at Open Mic nights at a local pub, and have been the featured soloist at two church events.

This year finds me recently motherless, a drastic blight on anyone’s life, and definitely on mine. It has changed so many things and finally propelled me into nesting in the first place. It also made my brother and I guardians of our youngest brother and launched me further into the land of disabled children in Ontario. I now have a lawyer, communicate regularly with several case workers, get all kinds of official mail, and have to return junk mail still addressed to Mom.

June 2008 also finds me blonde, and with an even greater fashion sense. I love that about growing older! I predict I’ll still be stylish in my 80s. If I’m not, remind me of now.

I’ve discovered I love flowers and plants, doing the Toronto Saturday Star crossword, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz, premium beer, CBC Radio, brie on melba rounds with semi-dried tomatoes in duck confit, Dollarama’s plain candles, serving dessert, mom’s old couch and armchair (with my apartment’s decor built around them), C&E used furniture in Goderich, Americanos from The Bean, and living in Huron County!!! (Sorry, but that deserved more than three exclamation points)
Being Sarah Elizabeth takes different shapes all the time, and I’m enjoying the process. Here’s to another year!