Saturday, March 29, 2014

oooh baby...pancakes that are good anytime

ooooh baby.  pancakes that are good anytime.

Ever met a Dutch baby?  If you’re like me, you were probably vaguely intrigued but dismissive.  Then you may have read the description: light, sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar and lemon.  Yeah, I don’t need to go on, do I?  My cousin/sister and my brother-in-law came
for a much-promised visit to our home last weekend and we feasted like it was going out of style.  We had a wonderful tuna niçoise for dinner, it’s Lent so you know….  And for breakfast, we had my first attempt at a Dutch baby.  

It was a profoundly happy success!  (I know I’ve been promising you that jam post and it’s coming…I promise.  But there are LOTS of pictures to arrange and explain so grant me some patience, have a cup of lavender oolong and it’ll be grand.)    Here’s what you need:  

Ingredients: 3 large eggs, ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1/3 cup sugar, pinch of salt, 2/3 cup milk, cream or half and half, 4 TB unsalted butter, confectioner’s sugar and some lemon juice. 

 Equipment: cast iron skillet, large bowl, whisk, microplane and measuring cups.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 425° and heat a 10 to 12 inch cast-iron skillet over medium/high heat. 

Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs with the zest, sugar and salt until combined. 

Step 3: Add the flour and milk and whisk until smooth.

Step 4: Melt the butter in the skillet.  
                It’ll look like                    this >

Step 5: Add the batter.... 

Notice the butter will come up the sides.  It's fine.
(as is doing this in a fuzzy blue robe.)

and then just bake it in the center of the oven 

for about 15 and no longer than 20 minutes, until the edges are browned and puffed and the center is lightly browned in spots.

Step 6: Transfer the skillet to a trivet and dust the baby with confectioner’s sugar and squeeze a little lemon juice on it.   

Step 7: Face your fabulous day armed with this and a cup of the Beatles Blend.  Because the baby and I--we love you.  Ya. Ya. Ya. Cheers!    

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mirror, Mirror or Why the Evil Queen Wasted Her Time

Mirror, Mirror or Why the Evil Queen Wasted Her Time

“Oh. Dear. Sweet. Lord.  I look like Jane Fonda in Klute.”  

Jane and Justin. Either way not a good look
at 40.  Well, in my case, maybe never?!

I thought this, but I said nothing.  It had been 3 H.O.U.R.S. in the hairdresser’s chair.  Hours, honey.  And I have no color in my hair (give it a few more years, then I won’t be adding Proverbs 16:31 to my signature line).  I had switched stylists.  I didn’t want to, I really, really, really didn’t.  But the lunacy of the receptionist at the old salon was such that I couldn’t get an appointment, and herself being tragically hip, and me being a middling age from the ‘burbs, well, I was sacrificed on the wall of cool. 

I don’t have a really cool haircut; it’s a bob.  You know a regular bob, not a “dutchboy bob” just a regular one.  But my stylist back home in Connecticut once told me that the classic bob is something really tough to get exactly right, you can’t mess up, it shows.  But Sandra isn’t here, and I finally found someone who understood my need for “comfort bangs” and we worked just well on fine together.  Then the perky receptionist.  Now I’m here. And the gorgeous friend who referred me here wasn’t wrong.  This stylist is very nice, very talkative, very personal, very, very.  But somewhere around 1.43 in I was tuckered.  I mean my threshold is very low people.  I can barely make it past 10, I don’t like driving at night.  Look at me Miss Daisy, seriously, I am starting to doubt if I can even hold my head up at a wine tasting anymore!  So this was an evening appointment.  My courage started to wane and when she started taking LONG cuts off of my hair, I just stopped saying anything and just sat there mute.  “It looks pretty… thin?” I say meekly.  “Well that’s just the cut, it’ll fluff out once you’re at home.”  My bum was asleep I had been sitting so long, so I stretched, and paid out of my really fabulous Target pleather bag, and headed out to the parking lot where I did what any sane woman would do after a 3 hour tour, I called my husband and told him I hated my hair.  “Why?  I’m sure it’s great!”  “It isn’t.”  “Oh, it is, come home.  It’s fine.”  I called back, asked for facetime with my eldest son, Joe.  Joe wouldn’t lie, no matter how much he still loves me.  He’s in bed already.  I feel no guilt.  “Well?”  “It’s awesome Mommy.”  “Really?”  “Yes, super awesome….  Okay, I need to sleep now.”  Shipwrecked and gobsmacked forsaken by my own progeny!

So I do the secondary thing that any sane woman would do.  I text my truly be-yew-ti-ful friend ,“I hate my hair cut.”  “It can’t be that bad.”  “Oh trust me, it is.”  “I’m sure it is beautiful.”  (I pay my friends to say these things, don’t you?)

The next morning, my friend texted again, “Feel any better?”  “No,” I reply, firm and definite with each tap, “I look like a cross between a news anchor and the lady in the neighborhood who collects too many cats.”  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  Diane Sawyer has amazing glowy skin.  Nonetheless, each day I woke up and disliked my hair a little more.  I fiddled with it.  I tried. 

Exhibit A.
“It’s trendy,” my friend said, “It’s modern,” my other friend soothed.  It didn’t matter.  I seethed.  I was wearing an imposter’s wig and I knew it.  It’s not that it was even that bad, see that profile picture up there ä?  That’s it!  See, it’s truly not.  But it wasn’t me.  It didn’t even feel remotely like me.  One of my oldest and dearest came round at Christmas-time to see her in-laws, and I remember texting her saying, “By the way, I just had a tragic haircut, don’t judge.”  She hadn’t seen me in 13 years.  But she got it, right away.  “It’s okay, really.  You just need to grow it out or cut it pretty short.”  See?

Me and John before.

And after. Eh.
I have tried to be a prepster since I was in high school.  Just ask anyone who knew me from that era, I tried, tried, tried.  They were all but worn out telling me it wasn’t going to work.  I didn’t get it.  I tried some more.  But I admit it.  After years and years of seeking the seersucker, I wasn’t going to be Vineyarded, Lilyed, or Brooksed.  They were all, beautiful, picture perfect and classically not me.  Some kind of paisley was always going to be sticking its fuchsia self somewhere ruining the pearls.  If I was classic, it was pearl-quirked.  Or pearqly.  (Leave it to me to find a whole new name for it.)

But this really has nothing to do with pearls or being a prepster, a look I love to tears and years, it really has everything to do with finally being comfortable with being me.  That I knew myself well enough to know what I most admittedly am not. 

It took me so long to be comfortable with me.  So long in fact, that I surprise myself when I know what I’m about.  For as long as I can recall, the person I saw was not who I wanted.  And I thought if I looked long enough, wished enough and created enough, I’d be whoever would have it easier.  I drank the evil queen's koolaid, “Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
Even though she's pretty scary, I really always
dug her lipstick
Oh the Evil Queen.  Since her creation by the Brothers Grimm, she has never failed to stand for the ultimate in vanity and fear.  In the original tale, EQ was so jealous of the beauty of her stepdaughter, Snow White, that she tries to kill her--not just once, but repeatedly.  And get the methods: she disguises herself as an old peddler and convinces Snow White to take a beautiful lace corset that she then tightens until the girl passes out.  Death by fashion.  (She survives once the corset strings are loosened by the dwarves.)  Then she poisons a comb and has Snow White brush her hair with it.  Death by beauty.  Still she survives.  Finally, she uses all her dark magic and places it in an apple, upon eating it Snow is in a state of suspended animation.  Death by food.  When Snow White coughs up the apple piece from Prince Charming's artistic and loving heimlich, she marries and the Queen is brought to justice.  For her crime of wanting more, she is forced to wear hot-iron shoes and dance to her death.  Grim indeed.  The story has been told again and again.  Many variations of the Evil Queen exist, most recently as Julia Roberts in Mirror, Mirror
and Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman.  

The Evil Queen couldn't be content being beautiful or thin or powerful.  She wanted to be something else.  Something more.  So she begged her mirror to tell her that she was more, and she knew that the mirror couldn't lie to her.  "Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest  one of all."  Just one quotation, in a Disney film, transported that ubiquitous object into something that we worship, and, alternatively, fear.  No matter how we feel or we think we feel, the mirror doesn’t lie.  It’s there.  All my life it has been there, taunting me, seducing me into spending more time than I should have trying to figure out ways to make myself appear better.  It took so much time.  Every teenage girl can tell you, and then it doesn’t quit.  

Then there are days you can’t face the mirror.  The day you have stayed up too late, stayed out too late, was with the wrong someone, did the wrong thing.  It’s there.  Right in the mirror.  No matter what I believed or wanted to believe, the mirror showed me the same face.  The same moles, the same nose that tilted slightly, the dark circles that makeup could not cover.  So I went along, I crushed out old friendships, turned my back on former seasons of my life on my infinite quest for an image makeover that would fit whatever was in my head.  I tried on a lot of different personas to make myself something more.  And the heaviness was that it didn’t change me.  Not one bit.  I was still the girl who often fell over my own feet, once I did that right in Harvard Yard.  (By the way, I am convinced a very prominent economist walked right over my bruised ego and my silent pleadings of not being noticed.  I can’t be entirely certain, I was blinking and looking up from what appeared to be a really long way away and hoping said gentleman, wasn’t going to drop any of his soft serve on me as he straightened out the Federal Reserve.)

So what changed?  Marriage didn’t change me.  I got the guy, and he says that I’m great just as I am. A couple of earth-rocking, shape shifting things happened.  My mother died. And just shy of a year after, I became a mother.  One seismic fault line forced me to look at my life with a lens of bravery and self-courage because the one who made sure I could stand, had fallen away, too quickly, too early and far too quietly.  Yet as the bandage ripped from me, and my mother’s heart was torn from me, the wound still was soft and raw even with Joe’s birth.  Perhaps even more so.  Because my identity had changed.  It had to.  I was now a mother.  And I had no idea how to be one.   This last statement is not so different I think from everyone else.  No one knows how to do it.  And I suspect I wasn’t even that different when I thought I had no one to teach me because my mother was gone.  I just remember looking in the mirror and not recognizing any part of who I was anymore. 

I’d peer into the glass of the old cabinet that was Philomena’s vintage (our house had only one owner, with a fantastical first name), and I wondered, “are you even in there?”  Ouch.  It hurt.  And those wounds of the not-knowing and the not naming and the uncertainty haunted me those first few months when everything was complicated by sleep deprivation and just fear.  I didn’t know what size my pants were because if they weren’t stretch, I couldn't fit in them.  My feet which had swollen to the size of pontoon boats had not really shrunk back to their small Asian selves.  I remember everyone telling me to “get out” more.  Were they insane?  Did I really want anyone to see me like this?  I did go out one fine morning with this mewling crazed infant and saw to my horror that the lady at the playground…matched.  And more. She had a beautiful diaper bag.  I don’t think it even ever saw spit up of any kind.  Her child was wearing a lovely matching outfit.  Joe had already blown through 3 costume changes since we’d been up.  It was a low time.  Low.

When days grew cloudier and I was still wrestling with my grief and my anger towards God for taking my mother, my mother for leaving me, something in me finally got it.  It wasn’t me.  I was just fine.  And when I was okay with that.  When I was okay showing that perfect imperfection to the world, when I was willing, in other words, for people to see me the way God saw me before I put the armor of pride, judgment and beauty products on that I thought would protect me from harm from those I still didn’t know, I got the chance to invite people into my life who saw me as God saw me.  And they were able to respond to a piece of that—the imperfect, the slightly clumsy, the awkward person I still am.  I guess what I am saying is that this mothering thing, it is such a hard gig, the toughest around.  But God sees us, sees our unique struggles and challenges us through motherhood to reveal ourselves in a way that we otherwise wouldn’t.  We are never so vulnerable as when we have children and in that vulnerability is the capacity to build connection with other women.  Until I was able to show myself the way I felt God could always see me, I never got the courage to say, "hey—I’m Sara and I have these crazy kids, let’s talk awhile."

So my haircut, the Fonda inspired klutish shag, it was taking precious time away from me.  Time I could be spending listening to the world’s best knock-knock joke for the fifteenth time, making some new recipe for my family’s visit, or just chasing down the friend I kept seeing who had some sign of something scary deep in her eyes and the way she clutched at her hands.  I have no time for this mirror nonsense.  I needed to be sure that the reflection I saw was who I knew myself to be so I could go and be elsewhere.  

Maybe this Easter season, no matter what your belief—we can call it a wash. A chance to begin anew at something, resurrect a friendship, forgive yourself a misstep, open yourself to healing the past.  You are so beautiful just as you are, I know it, God knows it, maybe it is time to let someone else in on it.  Allow your grace, the grace that fills you and feeds you and shines around you to be an extension of God’s peace for someone else—someone else who needs it whether they know it or not.  I know I need it, as scary as it may be.  Show me the real you, and I’ll be right there to walk with you through it.  (And I’m going to need you, because my old stylist, the one who is in the process of rescuing this klutishness?  She’s moving to Portland.  So, let’s hope for the best.  And anticipate the worst…together.)


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

On Being Found: A Community Map

On Being Found: A Community Map 

We “carry” antique maps of places we have lived and places that are important to us. These maps tie us to locations, and center us in our world. 
You can never be lost if you know where you’re from.
--ginger johnson

Joy Serwylo 's book map
Books are my friends, and some of my best ones.  And here’s another, books have been a life long map that led me to some great friends as well and connected me to places that I have lived in even if it was in my own mind.  Those locations, those imagined places were safe for me.  And constant.  And another, books brought me into a life well lived because in talking with friends over those words I found community, and I belonged.  I knew, because of who I was and who I was with, where I’m from.  

And I’ve found a theme in all these books I’ve been reading lately: of being lost and being found.  All the characters: the dark, the light, the in-between mega pixel grey ones, all of them are looking for understanding and to have someone say, “well now, there you are.”  There seems to be an absolute universal fear in being alone.  And everything I’m reading cries connection.  It’s instinctual and requires constancy and compassion.  How it turns, how it sometimes warps and manifests in something either grotesque or otherwise endearingly human and soft depends on how the tale goes on.  But it begins there—in connection.  It just does. A meeting of souls.  A finding of a mate.  It begins there—the human story begins, I believe, there.   

I’m in a book group, well, actually I’m in two.  I guess I’m just that insistent on tying in through words and thoughts and ideas with people who never fail to surprise and challenge me with their thoughts and ideas about the same.  I’m not as quick as I used to be with reading. There always seems to be a “one more” that I have to do, a pan to soak, legos which become plastic landmines underfoot to be found, a bike tire to pump up, a parallelogram to locate—but I am reading.  And now I am writing too.  Because I think, there’s always going to be the one more.  Always, all the time.  And in the mean time while doing it all, and tending to its vastness, you’ll find yourself harder to locate, and then as Yoda would say, “resentful you will be.” 

It’s the real crisis of womanhood.  The loss of self in all the one mores.  It takes more effort, absolutely, for your story to include yourself.  There are lunches to pack, meetings to take, cleaning to pick up, cleaning to do.  It’s all there, all the time, the one mores.  Then there are the slip stops, the absolute walls that have no way of dissolution: the illness of children, of parents, of friends, of family.  But without it, without locating my people, without taking the time to find a refracted semblance of self in my community, I’ve felt tight and sallow.  This isn’t homecoming, though, that’s saved for my family.  Because I know them and their bumps and bruises better than my own.  And their breath is welcome and surety.  This is an attempt at connection that is beyond the pale of politeness.  As my sage friend counseled me, “write what you feel. Your tribe will find you.”  

Tribe.  Connection.  Community. 

Here’s an interesting couple of meanings:

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Communion: the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings.

To be in community is something sacred and spiritual and Godly and true.  We were not, ever, ever, meant to be alone.  You need someone to pull you right out of the blue and into something that is alive.  For me, it was the wall of lies that I thought would protect me from harm and disavowed community.  It wasn’t until I started talking about what things were and weren’t, it wasn’t until then that I saw wholeness and recognition in another’s face.  “My mom died of cancer,” I’d say, “and now I just feel that I’m flying along without a net.”  “Maybe we can have coffee,” you say, and before I know it, we’re pulling each other up again.  And that’s how it works. 
We all need it, community.  We are in an unprecedented time of close disconnect.  We stay in touch via email, text, social media but face-to-face conversations are rare.  Seeing someone’s hopes and emotions in their handwritten notes, rarer still.  And we wonder why there is discontent.  You need people.  And I’m not discounting social media.  No way.  Without it, I would be poorer for not knowing what’s going on with countless friends and their families.  But there is something about sharing a cup of coffee, getting the immediate reaction to a story you’ve told or a joke you’ve heard, seeing the hand covering your own when you’re speaking something very hard—that takes real time. 

It’s easier, sure, to stay unlocated on a map plain, to go off the grid of sociability and say you’re not home, but look at what I’d be missing out on if you did?  I’d be the dull knife in the drawer for sure without your stone to sharpen me some.  I’m not saying it’s easy, good grief it is not, but maybe in the next few months you can decide to join something, with just yourself, not your kin, just you.  Be it a book group, yoga training, a bible study, baking class, a knitting circle, sketching, chicken raising, kickboxing, beginning guitar, or, I don’t know, a Sondheim a capella group—just maybe join something to allow someone to find you.  To tell you how much space you fill and how much your ideas are needed.  Once you know where you are, you’ll never be lost again.  That’s worth something.  The one mores can wait.  If I’d listened to all the lies burning in my brain about why I shouldn’t be doing what I am doing, if I’d allowed the one mores to continue on and on, you wouldn’t have found me.  And I’m so glad you did.    

Being found.  Now that’s a pretty grand thing. 

One last thing, remember my post on Lent?  My jar, it’s pretty full but I’ve only made it to slip # 2—15 days in.  It may take me all these days to work this out, but that’s the great thing about forgiveness.  It’s complicated to break the chains that bind you down into the mess of stress and worry, if they were weaker, they wouldn’t have a claim.  So it’s okay.  However long it takes, it takes.  We’ll make it through.  Communi/on=ity.  Thanks for finding me.  Cheers.      

Saturday, March 15, 2014

fair is fowl, a chicken of Shakespearean proportions

fair is fowl and fowl is fair, a chicken of Shakespearean proportions

Mad Hungry's Pressed Chicken
My stars.  In coldish days (here anyway) and colder days up and beyond, is there anything better than a roast chicken?  It’s a classic.  It never goes out of style.  And it gives you a tingle of great spaced evenings and warm sweaters.  It’s comfort in poultry.  I have, over the years, perfected a classic roast chicken for my family, because sometimes you just need it.  But it’s a time consuming process.  A few hours, average three, in the oven.  Basting.  But I do it because it’s worth it, and much more, I have stopped friends cold from ordering it out.  “You can do it better!” I say heart-vexed, “do not pay for roast chicken!”  To their credit, no one ever listens to me.  And there is also something to be said for buying one of those spit roasted ones from the grocer.  But when you MAKE it, you get pan gravy.  And that’s pretty awesome.

I’m going to give you my roast chicken recipe sometime, but today I want to give you the faster, quicker version, courtesy of one of my favorite recipe ladies, Lucinda Scala Quinn, author of Mad Hungry.  She had a show of the same name that has been taken off the air, blast you Hallmark channel!  But her pressed roast chicken is a divine thing.  And it cooks in 40 minutes.  You read right.  40 minutes.  And the pan sauce of garlic and lemon is just puckerish and filling and comforting and good.  I feel fine sharing this with you because it’s been published on the Martha’s site.  So go on the orange if you want Lucinda’s version, as she is the master (she has three boys like me, so I feel kin), otherwise stay tuned folks and follow along with me. 

First step the players: a fresh chicken, about 4 lbs or a little less is fine—I bought this during Whole Foods chicken sale. (Yes, they do have them, usually one day sales—buy a couple and in another post, I’ll show you how to break it down yourself.  Saves a lot of money rather than buying it in pieces.)  Included are kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.*  Unsalted butter (always use this, that way you can better regulate the salt in all of your cooking).  A seasoned cast iron skillet.  (You can buy them pre-seasoned but they are more expensive.  Seasoning it takes a little bit, but it is so worth it.)  A couple of lemons and a few garlic cloves.

Preheat your oven to 400°.  Rinse your chicken thoroughly.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Now here comes the kinda gross, but fascinating part.  You need to cut the backbone out of the chicken with kitchen shears.  I know.  I do know.  It is gross.  But here’s the thing, when you don’t have the backbone, you can press the whole thing down and it cooks faster.  So take out the shears that you have in the block of knives you registered for and break them in.  Or, if you’re like me, and didn’t have them, buy some good kitchen shears.  Don’t use regular scissors, if you have no inclination of either, use a sharp knife carefully instead. 

Step 1: Insert and carefully cut from the top to the bottom of the chicken.  And repeat on the other side.

You can save and seal the back for chicken stock making if you’d like, or you can simply bag it and put it in the freezer for the next trash day.

Step 2: Press down on the breast side of the chicken.  Make sure you are pressing directly on the breast.  Get the chicken as flat as possible.

Step 3: Generously salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. 

Step 4: Heat 1 TB olive oil and   

1 TB butter in a large (10" shown here) cast iron or oven safe skillet over high heat.  Place breast side down.  Allow to cook for 3 minutes without moving.
Step 5: Using tongs—I used two pairs, one in each hand, carefully turn the chicken over in the pan, now it is breast side up. (Please be careful, the oil/butter is HOT and will splatter.)

Step 6: Place in oven and leave for 40 minutes.  

Now squeeze two lemons for the 3 TB of lemon juice you will need for the sauce.  Then lightly crack/ smash 3 cloves of peeled garlic.  Give them a rough chop if you want.  Set aside.  Now you can have an afternoon cup of Vanilla Bean tea, read Nate the Great so you can talk about it with your 6 year old.  (You won't be thinking about pancakes because the aroma from the oven will make you dizzy, thus the tea.)

Step 7: Remove chicken from oven and check with a thermometer into the breast, make sure it reads 165°.  Allow to rest on cutting board for 10 minutes. 

Step 8: Add 1 TB of lemon juice and 1 TB butter to the pan and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Step 9: Combine 3 TB of olive oil, 2 TB of lemon juice, garlic, pinch of salt and red pepper flakes (if using—I omitted them, the kids would find them too hot).
Carefully pour skillet sauce into the olive/lemon mixture.  Whisk to combine. 

Step 10: Cut around and separate the wings, legs and cut the breast in half.  Then separate each breast half into two pieces so you have 4 breast pieces total.  Plate the chicken and pour sauce over it.  Serve while hot.

Rejoice as you watch your kids eat it!  And be glad, you did it!

*Bonus tip: I buy bulk Tellicherry black peppercorns from the Indian store and grind them myself.  My grandparents had so many pepper trees on their property.  It’s grown right on the Malabar coast.  You can get them super cheaply at the Indian store.  Buy it there. It’s a whole new pepper experience and gives new strength to that taken-for-granted spice.  Then leave it in a colorful dish with a measuring spoon. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Judgey McJudgersons Part One: the Backstory

Judgey McJudgersons, Part One: The Backstory

Here's the thing about writing posts, I have some stories, so many to tell you, but you need to know a little more about me.  So here is the brief story of me and my purse on a very pretty Spring evening that I posted on FB a while back.  It's still relevant, I promise.  My purse, and it's contents have not changed very much, but onwards friends, here we go:

The Pinkberry Trial

I am miraculously sitting alone...eating a large frozen yogurt which has been rendered decidedly unhealthy by the sheer obnoxious amount of toppings on it--reminds me of my mother saying, "you don't order coffee, you order a warm dessert with a little coffee favoring thrown in" and trying to read a book.

My kids are with their dad and within about 10 minutes I'm looking around. First at the thump on my chair when perfect red headed child A kicks it on his way to his table accompanied by perfect red headed child B, in their matching Crewcuts ensembles and their mother who pointedly looks over at me and my faux leather Target bag which makes me look at her Prada one--don't ask me, no idea of the season--that was many, many generic pull-ups ago--and says extremely loudly (there were only 2 tables) "well boys isn't going to Church fun? We should always make a point to show everyone why we should all go to church."

I know; I don't get it either. Is being Indian equivalent of being the unschooled masses? Or is it the fabulous faux leather Target bag?

Anyway, I looked down at myself and decided to take momentary stock. At this moment I have whacked out hair, bad cuticles, am using an old napkin as a bookmark (don't tell the library, I'm unsure if its totally clean), wearing old keens that I did wear to Mass this morning you judgmental oddball, the watch that is always at least 6 minutes behind that John got me for a birthday back when we got each other stuff, my mom's wedding band, my own and that wonderful Target bag that just fits perfectly under my arm. I took stock of all of this as the Perfects left the table and went to wreak havoc elsewhere or give out advice to more accommodating minorities.

But now having finished the yogurt I wondered at myself. I used to be a marvel of organization and right now in my terrific Target bag there is:
· 2 crumpled dollars
· A wallet with very little in it but all those rewards cards you get that I can't figure out the apps for on my new smartphone
· A coupon for a free earl of sandwich for my birthday
· The return slip for a shirt
· A coupon for a free 3d mammogram
· A publix receipt (I bought an iced donut, grape tomatoes and diced red onions--you know you wanted to know, right?)
· Little buddy wipes
· $5 coupon for non drowsy Claritin
· A pull-up
· Wipes for said bum that wears the pull-up
· A gold dollar coin I promised Joe I would keep safe for him
· Notes and a pen (not a bad pen either) from a Mops meeting a few months ago
· Agenda from Parent University where I scribbled all sorts of mean, probing questions about the change to the common core curriculum. 
· More wipes
· Daffy Duck tissues
· A vitamin...I think
· A hair appt reminder card, guess I blew that one
· 30 percent off an item at banana republic so sad I have nowhere to wear those clothes--did I keep the card in the hopes that I would somehow?
· Keys! Well at least there's that.

Where was I going with this...right the point is that I'm sitting ALONE and eating and reading. All good--hope your Sunday is too.

The Update

The thing is, I'm not much different today.  It's Sunday, and I haven't had the privilege of sitting and eating any kind of confection alone.  Instead me and my fabulous Target bag went with my family to scope out a new spot called Tarpon Springs.  It's the sponge capital of the world.  

the boys holding interesting examples

And it has history and interesting people, and ah-maz-ing Greek food.  But the purse's current contents?:
  • coconut fudge (it's in a separate bag, don't worry)
  • an expired Gymboree coupon
  • equally fabulous $10 Oscar De La Renta sunglasses that I got from Marshall's
  • notes for a Bible study I'm leading from the Good Morning Girls
  • Orbitz gum that the boys have invaded.  (it's not even bubble flavored so I, well, it really makes no sense.)
  • Target coupon for toll house morsels.  Remember the cookie post?
  • I've upgraded to Puffs purse tissues.  (they have lotion, it's awesome.)
  • A buzz lightyear camera, no I don't know why.
  • A lint roller--mind boggling, I never care enough about lint and we have no dog.
  • An organizational handout from my MOPS meeting.  (That's embarrassing to admit, for sure.)
  • A pen and vicodin (kidney stone attacks come at surprising times.  no I don't drive on it.)
  • two coupons for a new lunchable called kabobbles because this company is set out to ruin all my good intentions about nutrition and also a hot pink reminder NEVER to bring the boys to the grocery store again!
  • A book that I'm reading called The Book Thief, I belong to two wonderful book groups and this one's for the one from home. 
The point of all of this is that we're doing the best we can.  All of us.  All the time.  And I've made peace with it despite the Judgey McJudgersons out there.  But there was a time when I wasn't so certain, and it felt so tired to be aware and awake that I wasn't something.  It struck at key moments, this horrible feeling: when I was in a new group, when I first married, when I was a new mother.  Moments when my surety of self and my placement in the world was at its cusp of most vulnerable.  

That's when the perfects strike.  And that's when the judging begins, and that's when the doubt about the God who made you and loves you does not sound out loudly and you worry and fret over what ultimately does not matter.  The mean is out there, and they are sad and broken and trouble and need your benevolence.  But we're not here to address the mean--that can be saved.  It's you.  And the fact that you are fine.  All the time.  Just as you are.  I'm certain of it, just as I'm certain that my keen sandals must've bugged the daylights out of the Perfect, the edge end of it is flapping away--they weren't meant for chasing after 3 little boys and their pirate battles or light saber duels--and I.don'  

So here's my bag, and here's my stuff.  

It's awesome, right?

Feel good tonight.  Forgive someone.  Read something that makes you feel.  Say something you've been tugging at for awhile.  I'll talk to you soon, cheers and sweet dreams.