Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Before and after.

When we first moved to Nashville I landed a job as an office manager for a semi-small, locally owned company like three weeks after we pulled in to town. It was awesome. I had never been an office manager before so the fact that I got the job at all made me feel like a bad ass interviewer. The fact that I got the job so fast made me feel like the whole moving across the country with no jobs, no friends, no idea what we were doing thing was not nearly as stupid as it sometimes seemed. It was like I had beat the system or something. I was totally stoked.

And then, I started the job.

Holy CRAP. I don't even know if I can describe to you how much this job sucked. In the five years leading up to my brief tenure at the company, there had been 18 different people in my position. Eighteen! That means on average, people only lasted about 3 months. One woman went out by police escort (she lunged at the boss and tried to strangle him), while most just ran out the door with their tails tucked between their legs.

The position was known internally as "the whipping post" since it was where the owner of the company liked to vent his constant frustration. He was one of those guys who couldn't look at you without a smirk on his face. A smirk that said, So young lady, what have you fucked up today? He made me doubt my ability to do anything: file paperwork, organize office supplies, buy toilet paper. I would drive home each night wondering how I had made it so far in life without being good at a single goddamn thing. I mean, really, my inabilities were staggering!

When I went home for Christmas after just a couple months of this BS, my sister tried her best to pump me up and help me get my groove back. She took any opportunity she could to point out things I was good at so I would stop doubting the possibility of finding another job, and maybe even update my resume while I was at it. Whenever I'd do something exceptionally impressive, she'd be like, "See? You're good at that. You should totally put that on your resume!" If it wasn't for her, I might never have realized how good I was at fake synchronized swimming, ordering from a menu, and making salads.

With her encouragement and a (mentally) beefed up resume, I quit that stupid job without any idea what I was going to do next and told that dumb ass exactly why I was leaving. I imagine it felt just as heroic as a police escort.

Since I found a much better job just a few days later without even so much as looking for one and then shifted to my current awesome job ("super mom") about a year later, my self esteem has remained pretty stable ever since. I have the occasional toilet paper mishap (why do the good brands even sell one ply?!), but I can always rely on my special skills to pull me through. We may have to suffer through 11 more rolls of hell, but at least I make a good salad!

When I recently tried to make a salad without cheese however, my special skills section died a quick, fiery death. I was still going strong with the fake synchronized swimming but my salad making skills? Gone. I kept trying to fake myself out, tossing new and exciting things into the bowl but I could only take a few bites before saying, "This is stupid!" and stomping off to the fridge to find the feta.

Then one night a couple of weeks ago, we went to dinner at our neighbors' house and my eyes were opened to a whole new world of possibilities. Their son is allergic to dairy (among other things) so the entire meal was dairy-free (and delicious). Even the salad was good! It could have been that I'm less critical of other people's cooking, but I suspect it was the poppy seed dressing I generously drizzled into my bowl. I loved it! And it would have tasted really weird with feta so I didn't even kind of miss the cheese.

That was my a-ha! moment. While I love salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salads like that without cheese make me sad. What I needed was a trip to the salad dressing aisle. First stop, poppy seed!

Here's what I have since come up with and eaten almost every single day. It's so good I could eat it for breakfast. (Shoot, since I've been awake and kinda angry since 6 am thanks to the dog, I think today might be the day!)

Before and After Salad

Mixed greens
Sliced avocado
Shredded carrots
Grapes, sliced in half
Raisins (Get it? Grapes and raisins? That's why it's called "before and after")
Sunflower seeds
Poppy seed dressing

After you wash and dry the greens (Bill says "pre-washed" means you don't have to do that but I think that's crazy talk), toss them in a little olive oil and let them hang out in the bowl while you wash and cut the other stuff. This is a little trick I learned from my friend Erin. When the salad greens marinate in olive oil for a little bit (no vinegar or salt or anything - just a little olive oil) the texture changes slightly and it gets, I don't know, yummier somehow (definitely do this with spinach - you won't be sorry). After all the stuff is in in the bowl, toss it with the poppy seed dressing, add a little salt & pepper and enjoy!


Next time you're having a low self esteem day, make this salad and smile. See? At least you're good at something.


Todd Stringer said...

Let's start calling you "Salad Boss" ! Sounds delicious!

No Mommy Brain said...

you know, i could use a good nickname. salad boss it is!

Anonymous said...

you are the salad master! I didn't get the "before and after bit, thanks for clarifying!


Sara said...

One of my favorite salads every is really simple (and I must say - I think avocado is always the answer to a really great salad) :-).. Anyhow, I just add spinach, romain, garbanzo beans, avocado, and fresh chives (or other fresh herbs you like) - trust, the fresh herbs add this amazing wow factor - they're worth a try... oh + dressing of choice.

ps - good for you for actually telling him the truth - I constantly struggle with those moments of not just running away / tail tucked.

No Mommy Brain said...

thanks, sara! it's probably the only time i've ever manned up like that. i'm still a little shocked i did it! :) oh, and that salad sounds great - thank you!

hezza said...

hold the phone missy...poppy seed dressing has mayo. mayo be dairy.
unless you are using the soy mayo (which I love).

No Mommy Brain said...

eh, what can you do? i didn't even think about reading labels on stuff like that. maybe i'll start, maybe i won't...
i love that you think i made my own salad dressing. that's adorable.

CoolSprings TN said...

I love sliced avocado in my salad.