Chicken and Rice…and Other Things Not Quite Right.

When I was in college (waaay back when, LOL), I called my mom and asked for her chicken and rice recipe. It’s not a particularly unique recipe, I’ve since found it online in several variations. It is, however, the ultimate comfort food for me. The aroma of the sauteed onions and celery in the browned-chicken drippings, the moist rice…yum.  So, since I’ve been sick with both the flu and strep this week, and since Wednesday is usually “my” day for cooking, I decided that I needed the comfort. I’m mostly over the strep, the flu seems to have abated to “just” exhaustion, yes…it’s time. I pull out my dog-eared recipe card and begin. And once again I realize that the final product, while edible, won’t be just right. Why? Because it wasn’t made in the pan.

THE pan.

The chicken-and-rice pan.

The one used in our house since the dawn of time – or in this case – my childhood. The pan, as far as I know, resides with my mom in Florida. It, like many of us so many years later, is somewhat the worse for wear. The handle is mostly gone, the sides are dinged, the cover, if it’s even still in the vicinity of the actual pan no longer has a handle. But…that’s THE pan. The right pan. With that pan I can make some pretty amazing chicken and rice.

Without it…eh.

So-so.

I am nearing the end of my first semester in the doctoral program. The “real” work has finally kicked in and, as challenging as it is, I am enjoying it. My main struggle this semester has been (aside from the recent death of my father, the continuing struggle with melanoma, hand/ligament surgery, strep throat, and now the flu) has been the looming prospect of no teaching jobs for the upcoming spring 2010 term.This despite pretty outstanding, if I do say so myself, teaching evals and observations.

Zip.

Zero.

Nada.

Every place at which I have either taught in the past or applied for the future has no classes to offer. The State of California is going bankrupt and taking its higher education institutions along for the ride. It’s gotten so bad that I’m applying in Phoenix and in northern California, figuring I can fly and/or drive home for doctoral classes/weekends if needs be.

To get me out of my funk, several good friends have pointed out to me that I am missing a golden opportunity. I have a good many writing projects in the works; a solid screenplay pitch that’s already gotten good feedback, a manuscript under review by a well-known publisher, several other stories and/or script ideas just begging to be written. Those projects have been sitting dormant because of my normally busy schedule. Perhaps it’s time to dust them off?

So, with their words in mind, I am concentrating again upon my writing (in addition to, of course, the doctoral work, which has priority). I have been stressing and worrying, fussing over my CV, subjecting myself to painful self-examination and hyper-critique, wondering why I can’t land a permanent teaching gig. And then the “apostrophe” hit (Spielberg’s Hook reference, look it up.) I have decided that perhaps the problem with my CV and my applications is the same problem that I am having with the chicken and rice.

I just need to find the right pan.

Tonight: so-so chicken and rice and completing my SLO paper.

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