A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

1 to 50: Embracing, yard work, cooking and other chaos-related activities

In my quest to 50, we have hit T-minus and one day. Maggie is putting together a party for me and I am looking forward to celebrating with family and friends. On Saturday I'm getting together with my twin brother for dinner in KC.

In the preparations for the weekend, I have had one mantra, which, conveniently, is today's thought:

Embrace the chaos.

Anyone who knows me well knows I am a contradiction in so many ways. One of those ways in in regards to my flexibility. I have the reputation to the cursory observer of being pretty laid back. And in many situations, I am. However, there is a streak of control freak and perfectionaist lurking behind that laid back façade.

Two stories:

In college, a professor cornered me in the hallway and told me to hand over the paper I had written, but not turned in for a class. I stammered that I knew it was due today, but I wasn't completely happy with it blah blah blah. She snatched it out of my hand, gave it to the professor it was actually for, smiled and walked away. The grade for that paper was an A. Dr. Spangler pointed out that I was willing to take a B for an A paper in order to make it 'better'. That's nutty.

Last year I tried to decline a chance to speak at Ford's Theater stage. I talked about it in Oratory and the Old Man. I rationalized that this opportunity was for the students and that I blah blah blah. The reality was that I was terrified that I couldn't get the speech perfect and so was willing to turn down what might be a once in a life time opportunity. Luckily, I was told to put my big boy pants on and do it. I am so glad I did.

That experience got me to thinking through the course of the last year. There are some things which I control which serve me well. I like an orderly classroom so that I can focus on students. It allows me to keep track of four classes and dozens of projects.

Perfectionism and control are a problem when they stop you from doing something you want to do, should do, need to do... It is also a problem when it makes you a jackass to those around you.

What I think the backyard should look like--nevermind that we don't have that skyline, those chairs or a firepit which looks like a volcano erupting.

What I think the backyard looks like. Apparently, in my brain, we are the Bumpas Family from A Christmas Story.

This is the firepit three of my kids created for me. It may not have the skyline but it ain't Bumpas either. Yes, David Shaw, those are my Hobbit feet.
Getting things ready for the party has been an exercise in chaos. There is no way we can get all of the projects done we want to get done before people start arriving tomorrow. Time. Manpower. Money. All sorts of reasons. In the middle of all of it, the boys and I committed to helping a church member who desperately needs help to move. What was going to be a couple hours will span about eight hours over a couple days. Hopefully my sons see me caring for people who need caring for more than my going all Martha Stewart over a backyard. Some days I get it right. Sometimes I muck it up. I suppose that is the chaos I make those around me live in.

So I work in baby steps...those steps have been in the back yard and the kitchen.

I hate to cook. It might be the thing I like the least. Clearly I have no problem shoving food in my pie hole. Its the chaos of cooking with someone else. Maggie is an excellent, albeit messy, cook. Her mantra of 'everything will get cleaned in the end' versus my 'clean as a you go'. She loves to cook, is better at it than me and would like for me to be there with her. A few years ago I finally told her that I hated to cook and she has given me a free pass since. Over the past few months I have forced myself in the kitchen more. Maggie enjoys cooking and likes me in there so I need to put my big boy pants on and get in there.

My first recipe we made together this year is here and in the hyperlink below. Not a hugely fancy dish, but remember... baby steps. One of my goals this summer is to make my own pasta for this dish. In my brain, flour, dough rising and a pasta machine won't be messy...we'll see...

Tortellini with Garlic Sage Butter Sauce
Tortellini with garlic sage butter sauce (from Food and Wine Magazine)

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