Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beginnings, Endings, and Acceptance

Today was the end of an era.

Liam has been in marching band for the last 4 years, and, during those last 4 years, i've been more active as a parent at school than i ever had been for the girls (part of that was that alyse never did anything outside of school, and steph went to west point in the middle of her sophomore year, thus ending soccer). Most of it has been involving the band uniforms. I started helping out about 2 games into it Liam's freshman year, decided to shadow the lady who was doing it during liam's sophomore year because her daughter was a senior, and then ran the whole show myself last year and this year (when i say "ran the whole show, i was in charge. there's NO WAY i could have done it all by myself. i had some magnificent helpers, and i'm going to have to find a way to thank them). This year, i even went so far as to help with other stuff, as well. Part of that was because i wanted to, but the other part was because my work offers a "doers for donations" thing where they donate a certain amount of $$ for a certain # of hours of volunteer service, and volunteering for school stuff counts. this year, however, they were limiting it to one grant, unless the 2nd grant could be turned in by Sept 30. i got enough volunteer hours by the 30th to do it. And that was before the main competition season started.

That was the beginnings. The endings have been happening all week. Tuesday was the last evening practice for the season. I and 3 other moms helped put together gold sashes with 2011 and the seniors' intials on them, so they could wear them for the last home football game. Friday morning was the last zero hour practice (practice before regular class time). Last night was the last football game. And then, today, the final last of all lasts, the last competition of the season. The kids will be donning their uniforms on Monday (but i can't help, i'm out of vacation time, and i have to work) for some professional photos, but the real last was today. It's over. It's done. It's the endings.

However, I think i know why this ending is affecting me more than some have. High school was not easy for me. I excelled in my classes (if i had really WORKED i could have been a straight A student, but i didn't feel like it, so i got a's & b's), but the social aspect of it was an absolute nightmare. My first date was with someone from another town, because there wasn't a single boy in school who either a) f ound me attractive enough to date or b) was willing to buck the jocks and the popular girls to even try to ask, and that wasn't until the summer between my junior & senior year. The kids who are hollering about being bullied nowadays? They don't know this has been going on LONG before they came into the scene. Facebook may put a more open picture on it, but it happened to me in spades. In spanish class, we were allowed to pick our spanish names, and i chose margarita. the kids took to calling me margarine, and then crisco, because i had a hard time keeping my hair from being greasy (poor Sean has the same problem, but somehow it's less indicting for a boy). Anyway, here's why it means more now.

Acceptance. I've been accepted by my peers in a high school setting. One of the band parent organization presidents thinks i'm a genius, because i don't have to measure a kid to figure out what uniform will fit him/her 95% of the time. I work hard on the uniforms. Some of the kids have taken to calling me the pants nazi, or the black sock nazi (the requirement is calf-length black socks, and the band gets docked points if they don't match, perfectly). However, half the band also calls me mom. it's either 'MOM!' or 'mommy' or 'liam's mommy!'. One of Liam's friends calls me his other mother, except i don't sew buttons on his eyes, lol.

The point is, that whle my 'real' high school experience sucked big time, this one kind of replaces it, and eases the pain from those days. i'm liked, i'm wanted, and i'm acknowledged for my skill and work ethic. It feels amazing, and i'm going to miss it. Where's my kleenex?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


i know, it's been MONTHS since i posted. i apologize. the dual time sinks of plurk & facebook have just KILLED my will to post. however, i'm going to TRY to change that.

however, don't expect nearly so much knitting content.

yes, i am still knitting like a mad woman (will probably NEVER stop). however, a lot of what i'm doing is simple st ockinette socks for A4A, and no matter what pretty color they may or may not be, there's only so much "here's another finished pair of socks" posts i can put up before people start unsubscribing in droves (if they haven't already!)

however, i did want to discuss another of my loves. food.

as many of you may know, for a year i was the food columnist at the daily chum. once a week i would wax eloquent on the joys and loves (and yes, even the disasters and sorrows) o f food & cooking. the chum ended about a year ago, and i find myself missing writing about food. the hard part for me was having a schedule. i HAD to have a column written every week (mostly my own pressure, b ut you know how that goes, you're your own worst critic bla b la bla), and i got to the point where i didn't love it so much.

so, here's what i propose. i'll write about food. i'll write about what i'm doing, and what i'm thinking and, of course, what i'm eating. lemme know if you get sick of it.

tonight? shrimp. i just had a friend on plurk tell me that she had the most flavorless meal, and it involved shrimp. i have to say, where seafood comes in, i think my all-time favorite is shrimp. i like lobster, and crab, and most salt-water fish (and even a few fresh water, who knew tilapia (geshundeit) was a fresh-water fish?), but my #1 love is shrimp. there are some TERRIBLE crimes done to shrimp, though. it's easy to over cook (anything that takes 3 MINUTES to cook will do that to ya), it has a subtle flavor that can be masked by too much spice, or other strong tasting foods, and it's just easy to fuck up. i think the #1 crime is boiling it. to me, cold boiled shrimp is akin to eating mock krab. it's ok, and it's in the right direction, but it's kinda drab. it's part of why i don't like shrimp cocktail. while i LOVE a good cocktail sauce, it should be reserved for fried shrimp, which are intensified by the frying process, and the horseradish tends to cut the richness of the fried breading. i think cold shrimp should go with lighter flavors, like a mild remoulade, or even a pina colada sauce like Red Lobster does with their coconut shrimp.

M has been on a smoked meats kick for a month, and recently smoked some shrimp. they were good, but there were 2 problems. 1) they were dry, because he shelled them. he'd gotten to them before i knew it, and lickety split, they were nekkid. 2) the smoke overpowered any shrimp taste, so most of what i got was the seasoning he put on them (he did 2 batches, one lemon garlic and the other cajun), and, of course, smoke. A better choice would have been to smoke them in the shell, which would have preserved the moisture, and screened out some of the smoke, and gone with a milder seasoning in the cajun batch. now mind, i like spicy shriimp, but this was too much in combo with the smoke.

my favorite preparation? sauteed in olive oil/butter mix with garlic. it intensifies the shrimp flavor (you're boiling the internal water OFF the shrimp), and infuses it with the loveliness that is/can be garlic. i like shrimp scampi, especially if it's done well (Red Lobster's is too salty for me, how many times have they boiled that butter?!?).

One quetion for you, dear reader: Do you eat the tails?

Here's my answer: Yes & no. If the shrimp is hot, and either fried or grilled, the tails can crisp up rather nicely, and add a nice texture to the dish (be wary though, i had a friend who got stuck in the gum with the sharp point of a shrimp tail and ended up allergic!) however, NEVER in a cold dish, and NEVER straight out of a bag of cooked shrimp. i have to pat those puppies dry, and hide their sometimes off flavors with coctail sauce.