For anyone who might be just tuning in, I finished Americorps at the end of August. My life is now sort of… aimless and confused. Aren’t we all enjoying this recession?
After a year at the small nonprofit where I worked at an afterschool program (full day camp in the summer), we had reached our last day with the kiddos. Headed out to a park for a day of water balloon tosses, soccer tournaments, playground shenanigans, and irrational anger from fifth graders who don’t know how to properly deal with emotions.
Naturally, I was in charge of grilling.
Billions upon billions of hot dogs, cooked on the temperamental but oddly fun outdoor grill at the park.
Though I did not actually EAT any of the mystery meat hot dogs, I admired my ability to coax the embers and result in doggies with beautiful char on their crispy skins.
One of our lovely volunteers had made us and all the kids pancakes for breakfast. We brought the leftovers to the park and Steve got in on some amazing pigs in a blanket action.
For the first time we had a vegetarian option, something about which I have mixed feelings. In my opinion, PETA was less than Ethical in bribing kids attending the Arlington County fair with $1 in cash to come watch their movie about animal cruelty. One of our middle schoolers, Angel, came into program and announced, “I’m a vegan.” Oi. How conscious of a choice was this?
But anyway, we got a pack of veggie burgers to cook up with the weiners. I also grilled a foil pack of green peppers (which we’d been trying to foist on the kids, largely unsuccessfully, for several days). No dice. Sigh.
Anyway, I was happy for the presence of veggie burgers. Other healthful picnic options our families brought were fresh fruit and, over on the lower right, the remains of pancit. One of our moms is Filipina, and pancit is a meat, noodle, and veggie dish that is, um, totally amazing. In that it was basically gone by the time I finished grilling and got to the food. But fortunately (er, for me, if not them), our kids are highly distrustful of vegetables so I got to eat all the rejected cabbage they left behind. Or “onions”, as they called them.
(The vegan burger was TERRIBLE. Slathered it with salsa to get it down).
I’d also had the good sense to bring a no-refrigeration-necessary salad from home in my bag, so that rounded out the meal. Not bad for a picnic with kids, eh?
Now, it was time for our REAL final potluck, marking the occasion of Patricia’s birthday and my ultimate (Patricia’s penultimate) day of work. Erin celebrated by writing Happy Birthday with animal crackers… sort of.
My bestest pally Lydia was in town and came along for the festivities. Showing she is an excellent visitor, she made wonderful chocolate cupcakes.
Steve brought leftover homemade sushi (! Guys, we will talk about this).
I, for the billionth time, made Corn and Basil Cakes (can be found at the Eating Well website). This recipe just never fails me.
On the subject of that corn, an AMAZING story. Before my last day, I had time in the morning for a quick dash to the farmer’s market before work. I wanted to get corn for the aforementioned corn cakes. Being on my way to work, where I had to display the Americorps logo on my person at all times, I was rockin’ my Americorps t shirt. I bought the corn and then had a mere $2 in cash. But oh, the fruit! I went to the vendor whose peaches I adore, grabbed a few, and asked him if he could just weigh them first so I could see if I’d have enough cash. As he was doing it, a friendly looking woman marched over, eyes on my t shirt. “Are you in Americorps?”, she asked. “I am!” I replied. She turned to the vendor and passed him the money for my fruit. I thanked her profusely and went to work grinning.
If any of you have any questions about the Americorps experience, it’s something I would be happy to talk about (hit me up at email@example.com). I will say for everyone, though, that it is easy, when you are in the tunnel vision of your day-to-day job, particularly if it’s one like mine, like so many nonprofits, where you often felt stressed and low on resources, to lose the big picture. Feeling appreciated for spending a year in service to my community felt pretty dang great.
Sarah was only with us for the summer, missed out on the potluck experience, and when I think of Sarah I just generally feel guilty for her having less awesome a time than we got to in Americorps. But I was very very excited that she was able to join us for our final potluck (and, in fact, gave her a ride!)
I was also excited that she brought this amazing creation:
Potatoes, hot peppers, cheese. HEAVEN. She said she just made it up on the spot and I COULD NOT STOP EATING IT.
Patricia did a fun clean-out-the-fridge rice concoction.
Some clean-out-the-freezer bread with olive oil
And it was time to hit the town (ish, briefly, given it was Thursday and the Metro closes early.)
At the bar where we ended up, madly dancing with the people I’d bonded with for the past year (along with my bestest friend who was cool enough to join us), I looked around the circle and felt first delighted that we were all there together, bummed that this was the last time, disoriented that a time in my life was decidedly over, and… mostly happy. To end on a good note, on good terms, with a boyfriend of whom I’m rawther fond and some lifelong friends.
Anyway, the next morning I was not hungover but a lot of other people were! So I made them migas and sent them on their way.
Lydia and I stopped for some renewing coffees at Beanetics and drank them on my deck, chatting about life.
Spotted a deer, too!
She headed on her way and I puttered around the house, a little in awe to have the time to do what I wanted, a little unsure how to use it, decidedly with a fire under me to get something to do with my life and make me some moolah… at least I had time for a leisurely lunch.
If nothing else, for the next however long til I figure things out I’ll be able to sit down for a leisurely lunch.
I took some farmer’s market squash and fresh oregano and cooked them in a fresh, fragrant saute. Also on the plate was a toasted English muffin with sunflower seed butter.
Plus yogurt and my (free thanks to the kindness of strangers!) peach.