Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 14 - 18: Five Days in Five Minutes

Ok, because of jury duty and work and Christmas prep, I've let myself get woefully behind in our Reverb Broads prompts. Yes, I'm slapping my own hand. And in order to not torture myself trying to write full posts on each one, and then staying caught up with the upcoming posts, I'm giving myself just five minutes to write on each of the five posts! (That will not count editing time, believe me, you don't want to read an unedited five minute post, so here goes!)

December 14, 2011
Is volunteering something you do regularly? If yes, where do you volunteer? If not, why not?

So I'm the one who came up with this stupid prompt and yet I don't even want to write on it now. Crap. Ok,
I like volunteering. I like feeling useful and as if I'm making a difference and utilizing my talents and skills to help other people. My career has been spent working with nonprofits and continues to focus on fundraising and database design for nonprofits. But what gets glossed over, in the pretty non-profit "change the world" talk, is the fact that volunteering is hard. 

It's hard because many times the people you are serving don't want your help, don't know they need it and often have many other time commitments, habits and things that block them from taking full advantage of the services being offered to them. I'm speaking specifically of my current volunteer gig, tutoring adult literacy students. I love it. Reading is an incredibly integral and enjoyable part of my day. Frankly my favorite past time. And while I didn't expect to instill that passion for reading in my students, I had high hopes of improving this skill for my students. But do you know how hard that is? Little things that I take for granted like transportation and just calling when you have to cancel or are going to be late, courtesies, aren't standard with many of the students I've worked with. In the last two years I've had about 6 students, and between my work schedule and theirs, or many other issues, I've not tutored one student for more than four months. It's frustrating. It's difficult and it makes me lose my drive and momentum to serve. 

I don't want to turn this into the complaint department, but I want to be realistic. I was about to be matched with a new student coming out of the criminal justice system when I realized, hey, I need a break. My crappy attitude about this volunteer process isn't the next student's fault. It's no one's fault really. But it's time for me to take a pause, re-evaluate, and figure out what I want to do next. Because volunteering shouldn't be entirely lacking in fun. And that's how I feel about tutoring right now. And with that outlook I'm not going to be a good tutor for anyone. Wow, that was kind of a downer. Let's go perk this up a bit, FOOD!

December 15, 2011
Did you taste any new flavors this year? Did you love or hate them or something in between? Will you incorporate these new flavors into your life?

This was a year chock-a-block full of new flavors. I love cooking and baking but don't cook at home as often as I should. So one of my goals for this year was to cook 52 new recipes, and I'm almost there! This year I mastered roasting a chicken and roasting potatoes. I made Indian and Thai recipes, I discovered the magic of browned butter rice krispie treats, I made seafood, pasta, salads, sun-dried tomato and feta pork chops, it was a year full of mostly delicious, only about five not so great, but mostly delicious new meals.

And then we took a trip to San Francisco in June. That trip was filled with so many spectacular meals, but the two that stand out the most for me were a bowl of seafood cioppino with sour dough bread at Scoma's that I had on our first night, to say it was amazing is an understatement, and then the dim sum lunch we had with some wonderful friends at Yank Sing. It is possibly the best meal I've ever head, rivaled only by some fresh pasta in Italy. The flavors and textures were different, savory and sweet, light and crispy, hot and sour, just scrumptious. So yes, I loved almost all of the new flavors this year. And dim sum is now a permanent part of our lives. Oh, those soft little pork buns, get in my belly.

December 16, 2011
What are your biggest pet peeves?

1. Jeans that are still damp coming out of the dryer when you have no choice but to put them on anyway and get to work.
2. People who don't use turn signals appropriately or ever.
3. Prejudice, bigotry, racism, and the way that we so often ignore and don't call people out when they have offended us. The way a room full of white people will make jokes they would never make in front of someone with a different ethnic/racial background. It's so awkward and I feel like a heel when I don't say something. Joe told me to call this "grandparent racism" and that is sadly so true.
4. Dishes in the sink that are "soaking," which really means they are full of tepid water with bits of food floating in them, that I then have to stick my hands in to wash and pull out the utensils sitting at the bottom. I'm gagging a little bit just sitting here on the couch thinking about this.
5. People asking me what's going on or what's going to happen next while watching a movie, if you don't know maybe just watch and see what happens next. It's a movie, they will show you, that is the point. Really, any talking at all while watching a movie.

December 17, 2011
Instead of a list of your favorite things, write a list of your least favorite things, e.g. Worst book you ever finished, the color you hate, bad songs, bad romances, bad recipes.

Worst Movie: 8 MM - A movie about a snuff film staring Nicholas Cage. Do I have to say anything more? My girlfriend Tara and I walked out and got our money back. Though for some reason they wouldn't credit us for the popcorn we ate.
Worst Book: My brother in law is a dentist and one of his patients is a writer and has a book for sale on Amazon. He asked me to read it and write a book report for him so he could know what to say to her when she came in next. This book was so horrible I couldn't even finish it. Just awful awful. Poorly written, hideous cover art, and I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be gay erotic literature, it just happened to be the least erotic thing I've ever read. It makes Frankenstein seem sexy. It may be symbolic that this was the first e-book I ever purchased.
Worst Bands/Musicians: The Black Eyed Peas, Nickelback, Phil Collins (though This American Life has helped with that) and Tool (mostly because their videos give me nightmares and I'm not on drugs.)

December 18, 2011
Who would you most like to meet and why?

This is a hard one. Because I read a lot and possibly I'm a little nutty because of this, I often feel like I know fictional characters, celebrities and public figures in real life. No, I'm not deluded into thinking that since I read a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt I actually know what she would say to me at a state dinner, but I feel like through biographies and autobiographies you can get a good sense of someone. I don't have any one particular person that I look up to the most as a role model or as someone to emulate. There are a lot of people I admire and respect, people I know and love in my own life, and people that I think are amazing in the public eye.

I deeply admire the people who started Kiva, a nonprofit that provides person to person micro-loans that help men and women in third world countries start their own businesses, I admire Bill and Hillary Clinton, even though they are clearly deeply flawed human beings, for their charitable work and their public service. I admire Michelle Obama for bringing cardigans, belts and brooches into fashion, and for her many other more important qualities, strength, independence and sense of community responsibility and action. I would have loved to meet John Steinbeck. I think that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would be a hoot to share a bottle of wine with over some cheese puffs though I'm pretty sure more wine would shoot out of my nose than down into my stomach. So I don't know who I most want to meet. How about all of you? I think a Reverb Broads meet up would be pretty fantastic, because this month I feel like I've gotten to know all of you just a little bit, how about some wine?

So that catches me up! I'll do my best to stay up with prompts the rest of this month and I can't wait to start reading your posts and commenting tonight. Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend, I'm off to the first of three Christmas celebrations, yeah, presents and cookies!


Julia said...

Ohhhh grandparent racism. Isn't it adorable? Or something? Oh the things that have come out of the mouths of my grandparents over the years (and the things we've repeated when we were small and didn't know better).

Tara Adams said...

Succinct and well-said with excellent hook. Love it! :)

AmyK said...

I had a hard time with the lack of devotion when I was an Adult Basic Education volunteer as well. I think there's a reason I haven't gone back to it.

Becca said...

Naming it grandparent racism is the most brilliant thing ever. Perfect explanation with just two words!

Jamie Rosenbloom said...

There are a lot of great things in here, but I laughed (and gagged) out loud when I read your pet peeve about soaking dishes. I HATE to fish around the bottom of the sink for the utensils with the wet food. So gross!

julieclarsen said...

We share two out of three worst bands. Every time Fergie gets the chance to sing in public, I'm pretty sure my life gets shortened by one minute.