It Could–Would–Have Been So Much Worse

Another writing prompt from Ginger at Ramble Ramble: Tell us a story from ninth grade.

Okay.

Just before ninth grade, my family moved from Maryland to Texas. As far as I was concerned, it was two years too late. All my life, I’ve had a Five Year Move Clock in my head, and I always felt like we stayed places too long.

So while some kids might have found this to be a horrible time to move, I was ready. Sure, I was going to miss the friends I’d grown up with. But I was more than ready for new sights and sounds and people.

Texas provided plenty of all of those. For a girl from the outskirts of D.C., it took some getting used to. Fortunately, I had some help.

First, there was the library. I didn’t know many people for the first semester, so I went to the school library a lot. And by “a lot,” I mean three times a day. I’d go before school and check out a book to read between classes. I’d return it at lunch and get another book, which I’d read between classes. And I’d go back at the end of the day to return that book.

(I am a very fast reader.)

Second, and more importantly, there were Beth and Kelly. Those are not their real names, because on this blog, no one has a real name. Unless I tell a story about a celebrity. I’m not sure if I’ve done that. But if I do, I’ll probably use the celebrity’s name.

Beth and Kelly were friends from middle school. They, like me, had decided to join Pep Squad. I don’t know their rationales, but I joined Pep Squad because my mother thought it would be a great way for me to know people on the first day of school, and I thought it would be a great way to get out of P.E.

Pep Squad had a week of summer training for new members, and when I arrived, I knew no one. But Beth and Kelly took me under their wing (wings?) and made me part of their group. While we didn’t do all of the drills together, we did meet for lunch every day and exchange stories. Kelly invited me to her birthday party (where I discovered MTV). They welcomed me into their existing circle of friends. We had classes together. They gave me people to stand with at the bus stop at the end of the day.

And while each of them later moved and changed schools, and we lost touch, I know that they made my freshman year of school bearable. They made it possible for me to decipher a new community and find my way.

Later, I found out why all of this happened. It turned out that, before camp started, they decided that they were going to find someone who looked like she had no friends, and be her friend.

They picked me.

They were 13 years old, and they decided to make someone an insider instead of an outsider. They chose to be inclusive instead of exclusive.

We hear a lot about bullying. Maybe there would be less of it–and maybe it would be easier to endure–if we tried to get our children to think more like Beth and Kelly.

It’s not that I had no problems in high school. Of course I did. We all did. But those problems were made easier because I had a place in that school. And Beth and Kelly helped me find it, by making a conscious choice. At age 13.

Three Friends

Photo by Xiaozhuli, via Flickr. Creative Commons.

Top 10 TV Shows

Ginger from Ramble Ramble is continuing her writing prompts. Since I can talk about TV a lot (it’s actually part of what brought Mr. Sandwich and me together), let me share my top 10 TV shows.

Television

My Top 10 Shows

1) Homicide
2) Deadwood
3) Mad Men
4) Game of Thrones
5) Southland

Right about now, you’re thinking, “Wow, you really like your shows dark, don’t you?”

6) Firefly
7) Adam-12
8) Star Trek (The Original Series)

See? They’re not all super-dark.

9) Parks and Recreation
10) Friends

Some of them aren’t dark at all!

Bonus! Donny & Marie

My Top 10 Shows I Loved, But Ultimately Gave Up On

1) Law & Order (Prime)–Sam Waterson joined the cast, and Chris Noth left, and it became Sneaky Lawyer Tricks, and I was out.
2) Cheers–Maybe when Shelley Long left? I don’t remember.
3) The Cosby Show–Cousin Oliver Syndrome.
4) ER–Once upon a time, it was a good show, and then it wasn’t.
5) How I Met Your Mother–TMI, Ted. TMI. Wrap it up.
6) Frasier–There are a lot of ways to handle the pregnancy of a cast member. I’m not sure why they decided “Fat Jokes” was the way to go.
7) Happy Days–the shark-jumping didn’t lose me; I think it was probably Ron Howard’s departure. Chachi didn’t help.
8) Little House on the Prairie–I left long before they blew up the town.
9) Aqua Teen Hunger Force–It just got so gross.
10) Babylon 5–So it turned out that the battle of good and evil was just a dispute over personnel management philosophies, and the Earth politics were boring. It’s too bad, because in the first few seasons the show did a phenomenal job of setting up its universe.

Still Haven’t Had Enough of My Thoughts About TV?

TV Shows That Were Gone Too Soon

    You may notice some overlap with my Top 10, above.

Children’s Television Madness

    Sometimes I just don’t get what they’re going for.

Photo by videocrab, via Flickr. Creative Commons.

Fresh Week, Fresh Start

Well, last week was a bear, wasn’t it?

Over the weekend, Baguette and Mr. Sandwich went to swim class and our regular playdate with Bestie, while I went to my alumni club’s annual lunch, which raises money for scholarships. I haven’t been able to go for the past several years–it’s been too long a time to leave Baguette–but this year we made it work.

On Sunday, I took Baguette over to see Mr. Sandwich’s parents, who had been out of town, and he went for a bike ride–something he hasn’t been able to do in a couple of months. So it was a weekend full of doing things we would like to do more often, which is pretty cool.

Yesterday, our second CSA box arrived, full of fresh fruits and vegetables. What was in this week’s box from Good Life Organics?

fresh fruits and vegetables
Strawberries, potatoes, zucchini, oranges, apples, rosemary, an avocado, and chard

So last night, Baguette and I started out by snacking on some strawberries. Mr. Sandwich spiced up some chicken thighs and put them in the toaster/convection oven, and I cut up and boiled some potatoes. While the potatoes (and some garlic) cooked, I sliced up a zucchini and salted it. Then I sauteed it in coconut oil with more garlic (we love our garlic), adding lemon zest and lemon juice right at the end. I mashed the potatoes with the skins on and sprinkled the zucchini with parmesan. Presto, a fresh spring dinner!

Today, Baguette and I are taking more of the strawberries to eat during our respective days–me with my yogurt and granola for breakfast, and her with her macaroni and cheese (by the way, we’re trying some other brands in the hope of reducing food dyes) for lunch.

I’m trying to decide how to use the remaining zucchini–should I make a soup with my remaining meatballs and tortellini? Or should I slice it up for zucchini chips?

And if anyone has a great, easy recipe for chard, I’m all ears!

Oscar Surprise

I spent much of my adult life across the country from my best friend. But we still managed to watch the Oscars together–we’d just call each other 20 times during the broadcast to say, “That dress is amazing!” “That dress is horrible!”

Now that we’re in the same city (huzzah!), we not only manage to have coffee more than once a year, we’ve also watched the Oscars together! In the same living room! More than once!

Since Baguette was born, though, long stretches of TV that isn’t Sesame Street have not really been an option. So what was last night’s surprise? Not the winners–I still haven’t had time to look up who they are.

It was that Baguette entertained herself with toys and books and changing in and out of her clothes for the entire red carpet, allowing me to live-tweet the whole thing!

Tweet about Nicole Kidman's Oscar dress

Seriously, tell me I’m wrong.

Now, if I can just manage to watch the actual ceremony . . .

Googletastic

So if you go to Google and type in “Tragic Sandwich,” guess what comes up first! Of course you didn’t need to know that, because you’re already here. But I think it’s pretty cool, because the old Tragic Sandwich, which was on the Google-owned Blogger, never came up at all. Now I feel famous.

Last weekend was fun, although I still wish I’d been healthier, so that I could have enjoyed it even more. This coming weekend will also be busy, because we’re getting together with friends who moved out of town recently and are back for a visit, and we need to actually do more swimming. The triathlon isn’t coming up immediately, but we’re behind schedule in our training. Lousy colds. But by this weekend we both should be healthy again, and ready to swim…well, as many laps as we possibly can.

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve was very low-key at our house, with one friend joining us for what turned out to be an evening of conversation and South Park. The menu:

chili (ground beef, no beans)
cornbread casserole (good, but needed to bake longer in the center)
make-your-own brownie sundae based on Ghiradelli brownie mix, Dreyer’s ice cream, and homemade hot fudge sauce

Now there’s chicken soup cooking slowly in the slow cooker, so we’ll be eating left over comfort food for the rest of the week.

Belated Triathlon News

The training paid off! I still have a bad knee, which limits my running, and I’m still afraid of biking down hill, which limits my cycling. But I rocked the swim, if I do say so myself. I expected to cover the 1/4-mile distance in about 20 minutes, and came out of the water in just under 13. The entire experience was fantastic, and I decided to follow it up with a relay at the Catalina Triathlon.

This race featured a 1/2-mile swim, which made up my portion of the event. I was so excited at not having to prepare for the bike and run that I completely forgot to prepare for the swim. I was late to the transition area, and as I was laying out my towel, I realized that I couldn’t find my official swim cap (color: yellow) or my ear plugs. Fortunately my husband was able to provide extra ear plugs, and I did have my regular swim cap (color: blue). Naturally, in between the discovery and the solution, there was freaking out and shrieking.

So I made my way over to the start, where I waited for my wave (relays go last). I couldn’t see anything, because I had torn a contact and therefore decided that it would be better not to wear them. In retrospect, that might have been half right.

Soon it was time for my wave to begin. I gave myself a quick pep talk (I am a strong swimmer! I am going to swim very fast!) and ran into the water. Within 50 yards, I was shocked to realize that (a) I was already dead last, and (b) I felt like I was going to drown. What kept me going at first was the realization that I was part of a team, and that I couldn’t let my friends down because the swim was too hard. After that, what kept me going was the people on surfboards. The support crew was absolutely fantastic, providing moral support and directions to the buoys. After I rounded the second one, I could see the shore, and somehow things got easier. One woman paddled the entire way in with me, cheering me on the whole way.

At this point, I was clearly the last person out of the water. Apparently the race photographer didn’t see me, and left to take pictures somewhere else. (Harumph! I was only 40 seconds behind the person who finished immediately ahead of me!)

However, in spite of being incredibly slow compared to the other racers, I improved on my previous pace. This time I finished in just under 22 minutes, which means that my pace was faster over the longer distance.

So on a personal level, my training paid off. On a team level, it’s a good thing that I was on a team with people who were faster on the bike and in the run in comparison to other racers–my friends and their speed are the reason that the team didn’t come in last, even though I did!

That’s it for this year. I don’t know what next year will hold.