Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I’ve always wanted to accomplish something in my life. Granted, I gave birth to two exceptional, talented, and successful children, but that was their doing, not mine. I’ve managed to stay married for 40 years, but that was because my husband and I can’t imagine life without each other. I’ve always been “Chuck’s wife” or “Jackie’s mom” or “Brian’s den mother” or “Chris’s friend” or “Jennifer’s teacher.” Yes, I can cook a pretty tasty turkey at Thanksgiving, or make sure the family room stays dust free, but I wanted to have the accolades of truly accomplishing something that would bring me notoriety, recognition, and a feeling of success.

Today we celebrated the grand opening of the first student-run credit union on a high school campus in Arizona. I wrote the proposal for the school district, and I worked with the credit union in order for this to happen. It took a year and a half to bring this to fruition. Today’s ceremony was filled with “congratulations,” “job well done,” “you really accomplished something.” TV channels 5 and 12 were there to capture the event on tape (or digital, or whatever is behind those huge lenses). I couldn’t count all the cameras that were flashing to record this “historic” event. At the VIP luncheon, I sat with the school’s principal, the district’s superintendent, the director of public relations, and the administrator for continuing education. This was way out of my comfort zone. So there. I guess I can say that I accomplished something in my life.

But the purpose of this blog is not to pat myself on the back. Quite the contrary. For one thing, it took a committee made up of credit union representatives, marketing personnel from the school district, students, security, and maintenance to pull this celebration together. It is truly amazing to see the end result of a lot of little pieces put together – like one of those jigsaw puzzles that cover the top of a card table.

What is most humbling for me is not the notoriety, the recognition, and the feeling of success; it is the support from my family, friends, and colleagues. My husband left work early to attend the ceremony and hang around in a world unfamiliar to him. My friend left work in the middle of the day and drove 20 miles to sit in the audience. And my colleagues made a card that they all signed with words of praise. All this meant more to me than the flashing cameras, the handshakes, and the attention. I know now that my life will change. I will show my family how proud I am of them. I will be sure that I celebrate the accomplishments of my friends. I will congratulate my colleagues for a job well done. I appreciate their support more than any accolades received, and I will in turn support all of them and revel in their accomplishments.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Fine Art of Cooking

My abasement began when we were only 5 months into our marriage. I cooked a beef roast for the first time in my life. I had wanted it to taste just like the roasts that my mother used to make every Sunday when the family came over for a mid-afternoon dinner. I followed Betty Crocker’s directions to a T, smelled the savory juices as it simmered in the oven all day, and waited in anticipation as I set the table for two. When I put it on the platter, surrounded by baby onions, red potatoes, and carrots that I had pared myself, I noticed something odd on the top of the roast. It was the little sponge of a pad that the butcher had put on the bottom of the packaging to soak up the blood from the hunk of meat. I had cooked the little pad along with the roast. I was about to take it off when my husband walked in and noticed it too. Of course, he thought this was very humorous, so he snatched the platter from me, to my screams of protests, and said he was going to take a picture of it. He locked himself in the bathroom, placed the beef platter on the toilet lid, and proceeded to flash away. From thence forward, I have never been renowned for my roast beef dinners.

This disaster has not hampered my obligation to preparing dinner. I don’t abhor cooking – as a matter of fact, it gives me a welcomed release at the end of the day where I can do something that I want to do instead of grading papers right away. And, I always prided myself on having a dinner with a protein, a starch, and a vegetable on the table for my family every night. Maybe that’s why my kids aren’t drug addicts or in prison right now. Plus, my husband has never cooked, has no desire to cook, and probably would starve if something ever happened to me. He can open a can of soup, however. Split Pea with Ham forever. I have to buy 10 at a time to last for at least 2 weeks so he can have lunch when I am at work. It is fairly safe to assume my husband is not attempting covert operations in the kitchen.

But, a Julia Childs I am not. I do not wish to attempt a knotty recipe. If the recipe has more than 5 ingredients, I don’t make it. I cower away from layered things or meatballs too. I cooked lasagna tonight and ran out of the cheese layer before I was done layering, and only had two noodle strips left for the top. And meatballs - who has time to roll 100 little balls of meat in my hands.

Nothing I have prepared has been noxious – unless you want to count the numerous spoons-full of cookie dough I have consumed over the years. This action may even have engendered me to have a high tolerance to salmonella. However, I seem to be off on a tangent now.

So much for my cooking tales. I promise that none of the above verbiage has been plagiarized, and I hope you can find the fine nuance in my narrative about my husband and me. It is an abrasive fact that some people actually make fun of my cooking dinners every night; however, I am placid in the thought that remuneration comes to me for my teaching abilities, not my cooking abilities.

The end – thank God.