Say What?

6 Mar


Today I am Ira Glass. Needed only is the Clark Kent glasses, because Ira’s woolly forehead status is fast approaching with my wildly overgrown bangs! In the spirit of This  American Life today’s theme is ‘Not What I Expected’, explored in three acts. Over the past couple weeks, I have had misunderstandings that resulted in a mixture of humor, embarrassment, disaster, and tears. In each situation, I thought I knew what I was getting into, but anticipated wrongly. Each was awkward, messy, and not something I would like to re-live. But in retrospect, they make a nice triumvirate of anecdotes.

Act One: Please Won’t  You be my Neighbor

I’ve lived in three apartment complexes and have never met a fellow resident. We apartment dwellers are not a friendly bunch. I have caught myself avoiding eye contact when passing someone on mr rogersthe stairs, as a preemptive strike against their assumed anti-social stance. It’s strange to think how the people who live directly above and below me, who are literally only feet away when we sleep, and maybe when we eat and watch television, too, are the ones I will never meet. Or rather, never did, until I abruptly broke that cycle last week due to a neighbor’s late night guitar strumming. I was lying in bed at 9:45 pm on a Monday evening, quite happy with myself for getting pillow-chummy earlier than usual. I needed to; I had a sleep debt so large it could not be balance transferred to Tuesday night. But I couldn’t fall asleep, because the sound of music nothing like the musical was hitting my room from somewhere. Sleep does not come easy to me, and I could not tune out the guitar buzz. Finally, I put shoes and coat over utilitarian pajamas and ran upstairs to confront the supposedly guilty neighbor. Last summer, my upstairs neighbor had demonstrated some less-than-neighborly behavior. He pushed his cigarette butts through the cracks of his deck onto mine. When I finally got the gumption to confront him about the cigarette butts, he didn’t answer my door knock. I think this was intentional and have had no respect for ‘him’, whoever he is, since. So this time, when I aggressively knocked on the same door and received no response, I was nothing short of raging mad. I knocked again, louder. A young woman opened the door. “Hi, do you play the guitar?” I said abruptly, still upset about the music but also embarrassed at my curt behavior. “No, I just come home,” she said. “Oh okay, thanks, I’m so, so sorry to have bothered you.” I now felt really bad. She hesitated, then said “Do you live right below me? I think it might be the guy on the first floor.” She was right; it was him. I marched down to his apartment to shut down the horrid guitar playing. The neighbor who had committed this musical atrocity, in my head a pot-bellied, hard-living, belligerent middle-aged man, in reality was a young guy, sheepishly apologetic and all smiles.

Act Two: Ebonics Gone South

This spring, I am the captain of a Women’s 3.0 tennis team. Overall it’s not much work, but creating the schedule became a mini optimization problem. 8 matches and 8 spots per match needed to be assigned to 14 players. 14 is too many, and I was struggling to fit everyone in. One player didn’t know her availability, so I initially had her playing two matches. I texted a teammate about my decision: “Will [Player X] care if I don’t schedule her that much? Our team is a little big.” My teammate responded: “Axe her. She travels a lot.” I thought by ‘axe’ she meant ‘get rid of her.’ But no, she was jocosely using urban slang and meant ‘Ask her.’ By the time I figured out the text’s actual meaning, it was too late. I had removed Player X completely from the schedule, and told her that since I didn’t know her availability, she would be a stand-in player when others canceled. She did not take the news very well, and now I have an awkward quasi-fourteenth player on my team that I don’t know what to do with. Shame on me for rashly misinterpreting text messages!!

Act Three: Stand-up is No Joke

tig notaroWhile doing microscopy drudge work last week, I started listening to stand-up comedy. John Mulaney was my first go-to. When I tired of him, I skimmed through Paste Magazine’s ‘20 Best Comedians of 2014.’ Tig Notaro was ranked number 20. I had already heard a short clip of her on This American Life, so I knew she had good delivery. Expecting at least one good laugh, she instead brought me to tears. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but she sprinkled a touch of humor, in explaining how she interacts with her stepfather, over a tragic event that deeply impacted both of them. Listen here.

In conjunction with my theme, I’m posting a recipe that you would not expect. It is not in-line with my ‘no fuss in the kitchen’ approach, it being a posh Martha Stewart recipe. Cooking for my church small group requires a certain level of healthy sophistication. The potluck supper we share sends me Ellie Krieger and Whole Foods vibes. I’m learning to fit in.

You can find the recipe, ‘Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa,’ here. I actually have the full cookbook, ‘Meatless,’ which includes the nutritional content. There are 55 calories per 1/4 cup serving. I added a can of diced tomatoes to my batch, and had to mash rather than dice my over-ripe avocado. Enjoy!

sweet potato salsa 2

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