Friday, March 25, 2005

Aging Gracefully?

My age is between 30 and 40 years old, and my face has not yet given itself over to being a particular age on a consistent basis. It swings back and forth between 30 and 40, based on how much stress I am experiencing. Last weekend I appeared to be 40; this weekend I appear to be 30. Some day my face will switch over to the older appearance and stay there, but for now it wavers uncertainly.

Last weekend was, at long last, the final weekend of my community theatre play. Again I lied and lied and lied: "Yes, it's been fun." Okay, it was fun to enhance my nun costume with a temporary forearm tattoo of a skull with the words "BORN BAD." That part was fun. Plus, we provided large crowds of people with some really good laughs, which is one of my favorite kinds of public service.

By day, my new job was exhausting, and I needed to boost my performance; by night I tried to be cheerful and gracious about a play that I disliked from day one and had since endured for 3-7 days per week. I am not complaining; I love my job, and I was fortunate to have a small commitment like a community theater play, instead of a large commitment like another job or a family. I am only trying to emphasize how delighted I am that the play is over.

I get to keep my job for a while, and I am thrilled about that too. Given all the good news, and a four-day weekend, I'm looking 30 today.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Next Phase of My Life

Today is the last day of my community theatre play! I am very glad. I enjoy my new job, and I often have to be there early in the morning, so the play is wiping me out. It has been a big success, though. We sold out 2/3 of our shows the first two weekends, and now we are in a larger venue in another town. Today we will probably sell out, which is wonderful because it will help pay for the renovations of the town's historic opera house.

Two weeks from now, I will finally host the champagne party that I promised my friends, celebrating my new job. I'm going to try making deviled eggs with caviar, coconut chicken pieces, and fried plantains. The deviled eggs may be odd with the chicken and plantains, but they'll be tasty anyway. I'll give them a test run for Easter, but without the caviar. Fish eggs? My little niecies would be appalled.

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Magdalena: Starting Work

On Monday morning Magdalena’s first alarm went off at 6:00, and the radio alarm clicked on at 6:05, but she was already in the shower. She took her time getting ready; she fussed with her appearance, drank her tea, and ate her granola with yogurt while listening to the news.

At 6:55 she bid farewell to each of her plants in turn, assuring them of her prompt return and undying affection. The Wandering Jew was unconcerned, supremely confident that she could never leave him. The hemlock looked more nervous but seemed reassured by the extra attention.

She drove off at 7:05. The fields seemed to part before her and lead her not into temptation, but across the purple bridge and directly to Mittelmont, looming clear and sharp dead ahead. As her car began to climb, a sudden white fog descended. Drat! she thought. What is it with this Midwestern weather? If you don’t like it, just wait five minutes... but it didn’t change again. The fog clung to her all the way to the resort parking lot, where she arrived at 7:45.

She sat for five minutes, then walked over to the main building. She made a ghostly gray figure in her flowing black skirt and long black wool coat, silhouetted against the white fog. Once again there were only a handful of cars in the parking lot, and the building seemed deserted. She looked for the employee kitchen but was unsure which door led to it. Suddenly Amanda glided into view. “Why, good morning, Maggie! I might have known you would be prompt. Let me guide you to your work station. How long can you stay this morning?”

“Um, until noon, ma—Amanda. How are you today?”

“Dear, let’s not waste time with idle chitchat. We have a lot to do this morning, and by we, I mean you!” Amanda laughed musically and explained to Magdalena, “We will be open for business next week, and you will need to have this snack bar up and running by then! There are purchase request forms for you to fill out; I will order everything, but you will need to tell me what to request.”

“Er, how many guests are we expecting?”

“Oh, heavens, how should I know? It’s our first week!”

“Do you have a ballpark figure? One hundred per day? One thousand?”

“Yes, somewhere in that range. We need this place to be shipshape!”

“Do you have an Internet computer that I could use to get ideas and find out what’s available to us?”

“Oh no, dear, you’re here to be the idea person,” Amanda said, sounding a bit stern. Magdalena figured she’d better get cracking, so she did. She took inventory of the snack bar, which was well stocked with mustard packets and salt and pepper packs, but little else. She organized her requisition forms into categories and began to list everything she thought she would need and in what quantities.

As she worked, someone tall, blond, and male labored nearby, carrying skis out of the halls and taking them to places unknown. After a couple hours all the skis were gone, and he stopped and introduced himself.

“Hello, I haven’t seen you here before. My name’s Craig, I’m the ski instructor.” He extended his hand.

Magdalena gratefully took it. “I’m Maggie, I’m the snack bar facilitator.”

“Snack bar facilitator?” His eyes twinkled, but he let the subject drop. “Looks like you’re getting ready for the big day. That’s what I’m doing, too. No one to teach, so I’m setting up the rental area.”

“How long have you been a ski instructor?” asked Magdalena, imagining daredevil rides down steep slopes in rugged mountain ranges, feeling the rush of the wind.

“This is my first job. I’ve been skiing since I was a kid, though. You know, there’s only one Midwestern ski resort that’s received a National Ski Areas Association Award of Excellence, and I don’t think we’re going to be the second, but this is a great start for me, and I’m really glad to be here.”

“This is a great opportunity for me, too. I’m thrilled about it.”

“Well, I guess we’d better be getting back to work, then. Nice to meet you, Maggie.”

“Nice to meet you too.” She watched him leave, then redoubled her efforts with the purchase orders. Any job with cute ski instructors was a job she definitely wanted to keep.

Over the course of the morning someone came by and photocopied her identification and transcript. She left at noon, seeing no one on her way out. That afternoon she delivered her carefully worded written notice at the library, sincerely hoping that she would not lose her new job and find herself without any employment whatsoever.

That evening the purple, abundantly leafy man of the house sensed that Magdalena had had thoughts about someone else, but he knew she would come back to him. She always did. He wished she would bring home a woman some time. That would be hot.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Sack Lunch

Lately I leave my apartment at 7:20 and return at 5:05, then leave again at 6:30 for play rehearsal, which doesn't allow me a lot of time to do my usual cooking from scratch. Still, I need to cook things at home so I'll have leftovers to take to work! I work in a crowded building where there's always a line for the microwaves at lunch, so I don't want to tie up a microwave with a frozen dinner.

At my last workplace I used to bring little salads with dressing on the side, and other such elaborate dishes, but here I only have a 30-minute lunch break, so I bring food that I can eat very fast. Last weekend I made eight twice-baked stuffed potatoes and a healthful carrot cake, which is a less sugary snack than a protein bar. During the week I fixed black bean and spinach enchiladas and a dessert that I made up. I thought it might be really terrible, but I actually like it, although it definitely has NO CLASS.

I got the idea from eating pre-packaged rice pudding, which is overly sweet and has no nutritional value whatsoever. I figured I could make my own version with calcium, B vitamins, and fiber. Indian rice puddings can get pretty complex and involve complicated, intoxicatingly delicious ingredients. Not my rice pudding!

I took one cup of brown rice and prepared it, which was almost the entire preparation time. Next, I poured in about 2/3 of a can of sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom, and I stirred it up and stuck it in the fridge.

Delicious. I'll use 3/8 teaspoon cardamom next time.

This weekend I made Armenian lentil and spinach soup, and a quasi-Cajun red bean and vegetable dish with Andouille sausage. Okay, I baked an apple cake too, but we won't talk about that.