birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Roussels

I worked my way through college as a waitress. After a humble beginning in a small town diner and beer bar, I decided if I am going to do this kind of work, I am going to find the best places I can for tips!

Gradually, I worked my way into upscale eateries in Northern California. Lunch shift. Brunch shift. Bus tables at night-- where the real money was. Sub for waiters who needed time off. Some work in the house bar. Night shifts were the catch and most lucrative. Each job had a certain aesthetic they were going for. Some had none, then, you were on your own to guess what it was to dress for work. Typical waiter's garb is black and white.

It wasn't until I was in on the ground floor of opening a restaurant in Hilo Hawaii that I learned how planned an aesthetic can be. Roussels. Creole and New Orleans in the middle of the Pacific.

The designer of the project was an interior designer, and then wife of the chef. He, originally from NOLA, as well as other silent partners that bought into the scheme. Some partners were not so silent, and not from NOLA, and it didn't take long for those to weed themselves out and go home. New Orleans culture is provincial, even far away from home.

The building was choice. Historical old town Hilo, with tall French doors that opened from the bar out onto the street. Cafe style. As part of the whole gestalt, servers were required to wear gray slacks, skirts for women, and pink dress shirts.

Floors were a brand new black and white diamond design. Oh, I thought, this gorgeous museum quality floor is going to be scratched and defaced with moving tables, chairs, and people. I witnessed the first scratch in the presence of the designer. The staff was trying to get the table placement angled and just right. Adrienne GASPED. I thought to myself, this is a long way to opening, and...how can we keep a restaurant floor pristine while we are trying to fire orders to suit a New York chef and a demanding clientele? Impossible as it turned out. The restaurant succeeded, but it wasn't because of the floors.

Roussels was a great success; as a result of a lot of hard work. i trained staff and catered to celebrities and local politicians. I learned about the cuisine, traditions like Mardi Gras, and beignets. I'd bring leftovers home after shift if there were any of the lovely doughnuts to be had.

Roussels was the best way to end my waitressing career. After I graduated with my B.A. in psychology from UH, the decision was made to put it away and assume the new life of graduate student. My full time job was going to be a full time student. No more splintered attention and energy going sideways. As a final ritual, I burned my pinks and grays in the volcanic backyard, and never looked back.

Last Dance...Romance Tonight

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