friends

We Should Have Called it BaconFest

Today was “Fall Feast” with my Triangle Fight Club (not what you think. Ha!).  I’ve posted before about our annual cookie exchange, but we also try to get together sometime in October or November for a seasonal meal.  I think we chose to have it in Fall because everyone is so busy in summer, making it impossible to schedule something but mostly because we all love the Fall and its flavors.

We don’t always manage to get around to the Fall Feast before the demands of the holidays are upon us, but this year, somehow we managed to pick a date and stick to it.  We had a small group this year with only 4 of us able to attend, but as usual, the table was groaning with a variety of yummy things.  We have stellar cooks in the group and apparently we were craving bacon since three of the dishes featured bacon.

Gnocchi, pumpkin-sausage manicotti, Mediterranean quinoa, spinach-bacon quiche, spiced apples, fruit, hummus, crackers and bread along with sangria.  We filled our plates and sat outside to enjoy the beautiful, slightly chilly Fall day.

YUM!

Too soon it was time to bring the meal to an end. It was Sunday, after all, and we all had various school and work days to prepare for.

I don’t see these ladies often enough; they’ve been with me through wedding planning, the wedding, infertility and finally parenthood. Twenty pounds lighter and much less gray in my hair.  We all look different, yet the same in all the ways that matter.

We have tentatively set the date for our annual cookie exchange and are researching how to make it revolve around our master, bacon, from cocktails to cookies.

Oh, and I volunteered to host 🙂

Thanks for a wonderful day, ladies!

My quiche recipe is Paula Deen’s (I was only slightly embarrassed to say that before; now I’m mortified). The major change I made was to sauté everything. I sautéed red onion and spinach (I also needed to use about 5 cups of fresh spinach) in the bacon grease. I also added gruyere cheese to the swiss cheese (I forgot we had thrown out my broken grater, so I had to use a zester, which worked OK).  I’m not a fan of swiss cheese, so I’d like to find a milder cheese.  I did NOT make my own crust because I’m a slacker like that.

Quiche!!

Presenting Listen to Your Mother: Raleigh-Durham

Today’s the day.  At half-past-7 (imagine that in a pretentious British accent), 14 brave women and 1 intrepid man will file onto the stage at Kenan Hall on the campus of William Peace University, take their sits and the inaugural Listen to Your Mother: Raleigh-Durham will begin. For the next hour and a half, the audience will be treated to original readings on motherhood:  the  highs, the lows, the hysterical, the wistful, the sweet.  Tears of mirth as well as sadness may flow. And then, it will be over.

Somehow, it has become May, and it’s time for our show.  It truly seems like only a few weeks ago when Marty and I were trying to find a location and then holding auditions.  It seemed like we had plenty of time before the show, but the day has come.

We’re ready. There are a few show-day hiccups however: one cast member is in the ER for pain and shortness of breath, and I sound like a 3-pack-a-day smoker thanks to allergies (hopefully) or a poorly-timed cold (hopefully not). But the show will go on, and it is going to be so awesome.

We’re sold out, y’all. Sold out. We hoped we would sell out, but actually seeing the ticket site say zero tickets remaining gave us chills.

And our cast rocks. Despite only getting together a handful of times, the 15 of us plowed through forming, ignored storming, and quickly progressed to norming and as of tonight, performing. They are exchanging emails and offering each other hugs and advice, and swapping stories.

I learned in Performance Leadership that the quickest way to build trust and intimacy is to share something about yourself, to show that you are human; that’s what each of us have done in our pieces.  Baring our souls has allowed us to gel, and I’ve never felt so close to so many former strangers in such a quick period of time.  Everyone one of us is grateful for the opportunity to be in the show and keep thanking me and Marty while we keep thanking them. It’s their stories that make this first-ever show in Raleigh-Durham possible.

I have a new dress. I have new jewelry. I have a new haircut. And most importantly, I have new shapewear.

Of course, none of that is important. We could read in burlap sacks and it wouldn’t alter the impact of our words.

Spare a moment to whisper “break a leg” at 7:30 PM EST if you can.  I can’t wait.

ISO: a Miracle

I made a lot of great friends at college, especially with other English majors.  Misery loves company, n’est-ce pas?  When you are agonizing over translating Old English, trying to come up with the most profound literary interpretation in order to impress your professor or writing complicated lesson plans that are so idealistic that they have no chance of ever working in a real high school classroom, it is helpful to have a group of people who understand the agony and the ecstasy of devoting one’s life to lit-tra-ture. Or, as other majors might interpret it, those of us who are foolish enough to major in something that typically requires you to become a teacher or go to graduate school in order to find gainful employment.

I was particularly close with the English majors in the teacher prep program since we had a lot of classes together, particularly Katie and Angela.  Katie and I were friends.  Angela and Katie were friends, so as these things go, Angela and I became friends since we both hung out with Katie.   Katie decided she didn’t want to teach as we were preparing to student teach.  Angela and I both completed student teaching, but I decided after graduation that I didn’t want to teach either.  Of the three of us, Angela is the only one who stayed in teaching.  This Fall, she started her 14th year as a high school English teacher in Wake County.

Late last night, Katie texted me to tell me that Angela had a severe stroke and was in the hospital.  She was awake and alert, but the stroke had damaged 1/3 of her brain, and she has lost the ability to speak and has no function on the right side of her body.

I am stunned, and I can’t stop thinking about her and this tragedy today.  Along with her family, teaching was everything to Angela, and it looks like her career is, if not over, in serious jeopardy.  Going to school part-time, she completed a Master’s degree a few years ago and had achieved National Board Certification as well.  She is a great teacher, the kind of teacher our schools desperately need more of.

I’m just having a hard time fathoming this tragedy.  One minute she’s fine; the next minute, her life has changed forever.  It’s something you don’t think will happen to people in your age group. Strokes are for older people, not people in their late 30s.

Angela, I’m thinking of you and sending every bit of strength I can your way.  Your Meredith family is thinking of you as well.  You have a long road ahead of you, but I know you and how stubborn you are.  I have no doubt you will fight and persevere.

If you can, please send any good wishes and prayers her way. This is the season of miracles and if anyone could use one and deserves one, it is Angela.

 

Friday Foolishness: Succubus

I cannot believe it is Friday, but oh, how glad I am it is. This week has been intense. If it were a person, I’d call it a succubus. A soul-killing, brain-stealing succubus.

My Week

  • We went out of town to visit my mother last weekend. A 24-hour visit necessitated packing like were going to be away for 24 days and managed to get all of us off our routines all week. No one slept well. Naps were boycotted. Meltdowns ensued. The suitcase has not been unpacked, and we haven’t gone to the grocery store all week.
  • I pitched a hissy fit at work on Monday.
  • I woke up with a scratchy throat yesterday that I hoped was due to allergies but I think is actually a cold. After falling asleep last night at 9pm (I party hard), I woke up at 1:30 AM. Willing myself back to sleep didn’t work, so I used the time profitably to plan my spring/summer wardrobe on eBay.
  • I’ve been slowly creeping out of my shell and meeting some awesome people. I had a lunch date 2 weeks ago, one next week, a play date next weekend and another lunch date in the works. Today I attended a Femfessionals connection lunch and met more people after finding out about it from Brandy. More to come on these efforts!
  • I’ve read only 40 pages this week.

Interesting Reads

  • NPR aired a 4-part series on surrogacy this week that was refreshingly free of sensation and well done: Making Babies: 21st Century Families
  • In the wee hours of the morning after I had planned my wardrobe, I came across this post on Twitter: 20 Common Grammar Mistakes That (Almost) Everyone Makes. I have to admit that I was pretty humbled by some of the mistakes included because I have been guilty of making them without realizing it. What a blow to my English major ego!
  • Forget the Factories: Slate‘s article suggests that the government stop its silly focus on rebuilding the manufacturing sector. Given where I work, you can guess that I disagree vehemently with Mr. Yglesias. I include the article because it illustrates the common misconception that R&D can be effectively separated from manufacturing and that our ability to innovate is what provides our competitive edge. He’s wrong. Innovation and manufacturing go hand in hand. As well, not all companies are created equal when it comes to community impact. A manufacturing facility creates jobs in the community beyond those in the facility. An Amazon does not.
  • Law Momma posted a seven-part series on the break up of her marriage. It was raw, brutal and riveting, and I am in awe of her strength to be able to post something so personal as well as how she accepted her part of the break up.
  • So, you’ve heard of BDSM sensation Fifty Shades of Grey, right? Well, Katie Roiphe wrote “Working Women’s Fantasies” in Newsweek about how its success speaks to the current popularity of sexual domination. I read a few articles critical of Roiphe’s article and tweeted one of them. A professional dominatrix (!) replied to me and told me Roiphe’s piece was correct. This is why I love Twitter!
  • I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Mrs. Lusher yet, but the food she posts on her blog is amazing. She had a simple post about sauvignon blanc yesterday, and I smiled as I read it. I feel the same way about white wine and I, too, am glad white wine season is here.

I hope your week was free from drama and hissy fits!

Fight Club Cookie Exchange

Getting the cookies ready

Today I attended the annual Fight Club Cookie Exchange.

Ehhh what, you say?  Fight Club?  You mean like the movie with Brad Pitt and Ed Norton (swoon)?  You beat up each other and then exchange cookies? Well at least that explains your bruises, right?

Not exactly. (Also: I’m a klutz).

Eleven years ago, I joined a message board a few months after J and I became engaged.  It was a message board devoted to ladies planning their weddings.  I met and quickly became friends with a group of local ladies who were getting married around the same time I was.  A few months later, we met in person, quelling our fear that each of us was really a dirty old man preying on nubile brides-to-be.  And the rest was history.  Over the last decade, the group has grown to include new friends while a few members of the core group have drifted away.  Many of us have children (interestingly, all boys).  Two of us have dealt with infertility. We’ve attended some of each other’s weddings. We’ve been to each other’s houses.  We have martini dinners out.  We’ve attended hockey games together.  We’ve planned baby showers for each other.  And we’ve made soap while wearing tiaras, afterwards dubbing our group “Fight Club.”

We’re an eclectic group.

We don’t get together as much as we’d like, and I am ashamed to admit that I have been scarce the past two years due to baby/toddler/work/grad school, but now that school is over and Daniel is older, I’m looking forward to reconnecting.  One tradition we started several years ago is still going strong: the cookie exchange.

Sometime in December we meet at someone’s house to eat, make merry, drink merry and exchange cookies.  We have extensive rules for the cookies based on various likes and dislikes.  I can’t remember all of them but the one that is germane to me is that the cookies don’t contain chocolate because I don’t like chocolate (yes, I know how weird that is).  We’ve since modified that rule to allow chocolate as long as there is a non-chocolate version as well.  Do you know how hard it is to find a variety of cookie recipes year after year that don’t contain chocolate? Pretty damn hard but somehow, we manage to do it, and the cookies always vary.  My cookie this year was a gingerbread-white chocolate cookie.

Today we met at Dawn’s house for brunch.  We ate gingerbread waffles (Dawn), a yummy breakfast casserole (Leigh Ann), fresh fruit (Nikki), cinnamon rolls (Tammi) and caramelized bacon (me) washed down with red and white sangria.  After a couple of hours of chatting and eating, it was time to exchange cookies (thankfully Dawn had a party to attend later or else we would have talked for hours).  We filled our containers and packed up.  Another cookie exchange had come to an end, but we were leaving with 5 types of cookies to enjoy.  The cookies are awesome, but the best part is getting to be with these ladies.

Thanks, ladies, for a wonderful afternoon!  We definitely need to do it more often!

Do you participate in cookie exchanges?  What funny rules does your group have?  What’s your go-to cookie recipe?

 

Oh-so-yummy caramelized bcon

 

Caramelized Bacon Recipe

Ingredients

1 pound of bacon

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  • Cut bacon in half width-wise
  • Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon
  • Dredge bacon in sugar mixture, twist and place on cookie sheet
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes until bacon is crispy


Lazy Friend

I don’t think I’ve made it a secret that 2011 has not been a very good year for my family: death, cancer, job worries, serious pet health issues and now two months of illness for me and J.  As a matter of fact, I returned to Urgent Care this afternoon to receive a second round of antibiotics for the sinus infection that will not quit as well as the chirpy advice that maybe it’s also seasonal allergies, something from which I’ve never suffered so severely.  I roll my eyes at the suggestion, but I probably shouldn’t because nothing has been normal this year.  Why not seasonal allergies???

There have been other losses this year.  BFF Katie up and moved to Florida in May.  I could resent the hell out of that move since she went from living 15 minutes away to a zillion hours away, but after being apart from her husband and being the sole caregiver of her daughter for 9 months, I was happy to see the family reunited.  But still, Florida!!!  I hope that they return in a few years, and in the meantime, we have blogs, emails and texts to keep up with each other (because I think we both share a mutual hatred of the phone).

And then today, I received some awful news at work.  Kimberly, my work BFF, my fellow prisoner in the next cell, informed me she was leaving the organization in two weeks.  I was shocked and devastated and sad, yet not really surprised.  Sometimes intuition works for me, and I had – if not been expecting that announcement – prepared myself for the possibility.

Kimberly joined the organization almost 5 years ago.  I was privileged to be on the hiring committee, and I liked her right away. I had no idea that when Ivoted to hire her that she would become one of my closest friends.  I wrote recently about her style, but there is so much more I admire about her.  Have you ever met someone who seems so your opposite but you admired that about them?  That’s how I felt. I am straight-laced.  Kimberly’s a rebel. Her appearance seems effortless and chic while I felt that I could work for hours and still look haphazard.  Thoughtwise, when I zigged, she zagged.  She was just different, and I loved that!  We also bonded because we both come from messy families, and it is so necessary to have others around you who understand that family dynamics aren’t always roses and sunshine. 

A few months ago, she moved into the office next to mine, and it was great!  Yeah, we may have Skyped instead of walking the three feet to our offices, but that’s ok. And now she’s leaving 😦  I am very happy for her and wish her nothing but success.  I also hope we can keep in touch.

That keeping in touch part is what I’m worried about.  See, I kind of suck at that, which comes as a surprise since I always feel lonely and on the fringe.  I probably wouldn’t consider myself a good friend.  There.  I said it.

I don’t like the phone.  I prefer emailing or texting or tweeting even.  And I wonder what that says about me.  Why didn’t I see Katie more when she lived 15 minutes away?  Why weren’t we inseparable?  And now, I read her posts about the new friends she’s making, and I feel jealous, yet it’s my fault for not taking advantage of the opportunities we had.

BFF Amber, if you’re reading this, I’ve received your emails.  I’ve thought of a thousand replies, but I haven’t managed to email you yet.  I suck.  It would take 2 minutes to reply.  Argh.  Replies coming soon. It’s nothing you’ve done.

I moan about not having more mommy friends with whom to have play dates for Daniel, yet I have email addresses for two, and I’ve never emailed them.  WHY NOT???? Excuses, excuses.  I’m such a coward.  No, I’m lazy.

To my friends, I apologize for being a lazy friend.  I hope to be a better friend in the future.