The other night, G needed my help to remember the word “ramekin” and it reminded me of this story of what can happen when you try to get all fancy at the KMart in Griffin, Georgia. For you culinary Philistines out there, ramekins are those little casserole dishes that you use to make creme brulee, pots de cremes, or souffles. Or if you’re like me, you use them to serve mustard, ketchup or chopped onions at your fancier wienie roasts.
My dad is quite a good cook and he really pulls out the stops for Christmas Eve dinner. He traditionally grills a beef tenderloin as long as his arm. My sisters fight over the bloody part in the middle that’s still mooing quietly. My brother-in-law and I claim the end pieces and our dignity. We stuff our selves in a jolly style and toast our blessings.
One year, Daddy decided to make individual Yorkshire puddings to accompany the tenderloin. Now, making that many tiny Yorkshire puddings requires quite a few ramekins. So one afternoon, Daddy headed over to the closest thing Griffin has to a Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table….KMart.
He had been wandering around the housewares section when he was approached by a friendly KMart employee. As he described her, “She had her hair piled high up her head, her glasses on a little gold chain around her neck, and an imperious shelf of bosom.” She asked if she could help him find something and he replied, “Yes! I’m looking for some ramekins, and I need a bunch of them.” He held up his thumb and index finger in to a helpful circle to indicate their small size and general shape.
At which point, the heretofore helpful KMart lady drew herself up in an indignant rage and snipped, “I believe you will find those in the PHARMACY!” before turning on her sensible heel and stomping off.
Because apparently, she confused those little souffle dishes with these:
We just had one big Yorkshire Pudding that year and sliced it up.
I’m writing over at Work It, Mom! today. My featured post is about ending the calendar year on a strong note at the office. Here’s an excerpt:
The school year creates its own rhythm for our children–each month lines up from August to May in a clear pattern. Their effort begins in the fall, builds throughout the winter, then concludes at the end of the spring. They get summer off to rest, rejuvenate and prepare for the next round.
But when do working moms get our chance to mark a clear finish to one year and the start of the next? I suggest now, in December! The end of the calendar year is a powerful time for us to finish strong and start fresh in our work life. While we’re setting resolutions for the new year, why not do the same for our work year? Finish this year STRONG and start the next with clarity and energy!
And now you’re rolling your eyes at me (I can hear it!). December is the crazy month of school programs, teacher gifts, holiday parties at work, family celebrations, sending cards, late night baking, online shopping, decorating the house, kids out of school, travel, entertaining, and that blasted Elf On the Shelf–how are we supposed to get all that done AND focus on work? Read the rest of the article…
So if you’re looking for ways to finish strong with 2013, head on over to read my story. It has some good stuff in it about assessing this year so you can plan for the next!
This is one of my favorite quotes about speaking up for yourself:
I had heard it as “Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes.” Then in the course of researching who said it, I found the full context of the message–Stand before the people you fear. Insist on being seen. Insist on being heard. Use your voice even if it shakes.
When’s the last time your voice shook?
This morning, I was razzle-frack-a-lackin around (remember the sound Fred Flintstone made when he grumble cussed?) while I got dressed. There’s this… situation…in my life where I have to bite my tongue, shut up, suck it up and let it go. Y’know, what we grownups call “a Tuesday.” The situation is causing me some uncomfortable moments because I’ve spent 12 years in therapy trying to learn to speak up and now I’m practicing the shut up. It all seems so counterproductive.
WARNING: Here comes some language. Good old fashioned Olde English. If you don’t like cussing… I suggest you squint until you scroll down to the picture.
I first started talking to a therapist when Fartbuster and I were splitting up. After 10 years of keeping the world OK for him, I had surrendered my voice. Not only did I not speak up for myself, it never dawned on me that I should speak up for myself. Or that I might have been allowed to expect something out of our relationship. I bit my tongue. I shut up. I sucked it up. I tried really really hard to let it go. And that never really took 100% so…therapy YAY! The first thing my therapist asked was, “So what do you want to learn how to do?”
Without even thinking, I blurted: ”I want to learn how to say “Fuck you!” if that’s what I’m thinking.”
She laughed and said, “Oh, we’re going to get along just fine. I kind of have a reputation for teaching women how to do that!” It was a solid match. We’ve made great strides. If you don’t believe me, well FUCK YOU.
During that first year of sessions, we worked on me finding my voice as I separated from Fartbuster. One session right before the holidays, I told my therapist that I was anxious about the people I would be seeing. This whole speaking up for myself thing was fresh and it was starting to feel a little shaky. She thought it would be beneficial to practice some of the things I could say to protect myself in uncomfortable situations.
She asked, “So what is it you REALLY want to say to this person?”
I snorted. ”What I really want to say is ‘Shut the fuck up.’”
“True, but they won’t be able to hear something that aggressive. How about a more polite way to convey that same message?”
I considered an alternative. ”How about ‘Soooooomebody needs… to shut the fuck up!’” I wiggled my eyebrows and smirked.
It was her turn to snort. ”OK, OK. How about you try expressing this as an ‘I’ statement?”
“Oh! I think somebody needs to shut the fuck up!”
Maybe that’s why it’s been 12 years?
So the razzle-frackin continues, even though Tuesday is in the books. The only I-statement I can come up with today is “I feel like punching you in the throat when you breathe. I would like you to shut the fuck up.”
What’s your I-statement for today? Share it in the comments!
My mom called this morning to get Christmas gift ideas and sizes for my family. I’m not even ready to go there.
I am in a post-holiday-pre-holiday anxious tizzy today…how about you? I still haven’t thrown out the god-awful cranberry sauce I made too much of and people are already posting pictures from the Christmas tree farm on Facebook. I’ve got two more carrot cake muffins to get through before I can even THINK about white chocolate peppermint bark.
Mmmm….now I’m thinking about white chocolate peppermint bark.
I figure, for every one of us out there getting the jingle on today–whether it’s by decorating or shopping or crafting or baking–there just might be a few of us who are cowering in the corner saying, “Oh CRAP. I am already way behind.” Right? Hello? Anyone? Bueller?
Baby steps, baby steps. I’m going to find my Michael Buble Christmas album out there in the cloud and see if it can ease me in to the spirit. And by “spirit” I mean “get me inspired to clean out a hole in the living room where we could squeeze in a tree among all the toys that are still there from LAST Christmas.”
I AM ready to make some commitments to keep the next 3 1/2 weeks a little less crazy:
- I will not bake. If I love you enough to give you cookies in the winter, I also love you enough to invite you over for a glass of wine on the deck when the weather is nice. Promise.
- I will not be crafting clever and lovely teacher gifts as a way to show the deep appreciation I have for my children’s teachers. I will slap some festive green cash in a thoughtful handwritten note and ask them to have a drink on me. I know my kids…these teachers could probably use a drink.
- I will not force my children to wear anything that is smocked or requires shoes that can’t get dirty. We are the same family in December that we are all year and we like Velcro and chocolate milk. I might even take a photo of us drinking chocolate milk and playing with our Velcro shoes.
- I will not allow the Elf on the Shelf to take over our home to early in the season, even if I can already hear him scratching around up in the attic.
So, in the words of Buddy the Elf, how are you feeling today:
Oh, this. This makes my heart thankful.
It’s a good thing I was the only one in the office Wednesday afternoon, because I clicked this link and within two minutes I was sobbing into a wad of tissues.
Yes, I know it’s an ad for a bank. Yes, I know it’s a year old. Yes, I know it’s all staged. But that doesn’t make it not beautiful.
Take five minutes away from the bustle of today and let yourself travel to this bright town square in Spain. Let the Ode to Joy start small and let it grow in your chest, let it leak out of your eyes and make your shoulders shake. It’s joy. That’s the path joy takes. Joy doesn’t start with the crescendo. It begins with a single note. That’s why it’s hard to spot sometimes in its early stages.
Ode to Joy, from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, is my favorite piece of music, #1, hands down, not even close. That’s why I chose it for the recessional music when Fartbuster and I got married. And why I chose it as the recessional music when Richard and I got married.
Then a short while later, his parents and I were planning his memorial service with the priest and there in the list of suggested music for the recessional was “Ode to Joy.” Joy? At a funeral?
I chose it. (wait…gotta do some more crying…)
I don’t remember everything from that service, but I do remember the way that music swelled from the organ after all the words had been said. I remember the soaring sound made by hundreds of our friends and family as they sang the modern English lyrics: ”Ever singing march we onward, Victors in the midst of strife; Joyful music lifts us sunward in the triumph song of life!” I felt a great sense of relief that the service had been perfectly fitting for Richard. I felt…joy. Joy at having had that one thing go right. The music carried me out of the sanctuary and on to the next part of life.
I wish you joy today. Among all the leftovers and hangovers and overdrafts and overpasses–STOP. Like those people in the square in Spain, all they had to do was stop and listen to joy.
Now cut me some white meat and pass the cranberry sauce!
The waiter brings us a little amuse bouche of fruit smoothie in adorable tall shot glasses. Highly collectible glasses…if you know what I mean. (If you don’t, read my story A Red Marble Sink and you’ll understand why my sister gets nervous around me and labeled glasses.) In a place that charges $15 for a glass of orange juice, the glass should come with it…right?
So I’m eyeing the cute glass when Gay gives me a blistering stink eye. I jokingly slide it across the table towards my lap.
“Don’t. You. DARE.”
As we’re giggling about it, the waiter flits by and whisks the glasses off the table.
Gay snorts and says, “Ha Ha! You’re too late!”