One more lunch, lots more writing

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Chef salad; sweet potatoes; pear; salad bar fixings; saltines

Chef salad (deli meat, cherry tomatoes, cheese, lettuce) was the main entree with the mashed sweet potatoes as the veggie and the pear as the fruit. Then I went through the salad bar for some yummy spinach salad with black beans. Now that I’m gluten free I skipped the saltines, but I’m assuming they were the grain. Yep, a school lunch consisting of two salads. The vendor is obviously different than the one at my former school(s) in Chicago. My current school offers three options every day and each one includes a salad bar run. Can I just say that this lunch was delicious?? It was terrific.

You might think that I must be employed in an affluent district. Not so. Instead of urban poverty, I encounter rural poverty. It’s similar, but different. There’s no glamour factor with poor people way out past the corn fields. You’re thinking hicks, right? But remember that I’m fluent in Spanish so where I get hired there are often lots of Spanish-speakers. My caseload is diverse. People are poor. They don’t deserve pity or ridicule.

***

That morning I ate school lunch I was running late. I was tired. Grabbing my purse and a travel mug of tea, I packed a lunch I wasn’t crazy about.

So I bought school lunch. One more time.

I snapped some photos of the lunch. I couldn’t resist.

But I’m in a different place now. Both geographically and mentally. I’m not ready to eat school lunch every day.

My phone went on the fritz after I took those shots. I think it’s a sign.

***

In fifth grade I wanted to be a journalist, work alongside Dan Rather, and be his spouse. I guess I was watching too much General Hospital with my mom because somehow I believed that marrying a coworker was a good career move. I loved writing and telling the news. A little Dan Rather on the side was a bonus.

Yeah, I was a quirky kid.

Anyway, I’m exploring ways to go back to that childhood dream. Get your mind out of the gutter– I’m not going to marry Dan Rather at long last. He’s 80 and another small detail: I’m married. But even though I don’t want to eat school lunch every day, I still want to be a writer and a journalist. I still want to shed light on dark places. I still want to be a voice for the voiceless. I still want to tell a riveting story.

Our country needs a lot more citizen journalists and writers. Mainstream media is failing us. Where’s Dan Rather when you need him?

The past 12 months I’ve been focused on my pregnancy and my son’s infancy. I’m recalibrating myself after a significant life event. What comes next? I’m figuring it out. I just can’t sit on my hands. They’ve been missing the keyboard too much.

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15 Responses to One more lunch, lots more writing

  1. Andrea March 11, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    Glad to see you writing and posting again. Welcome back!

    That school lunch looks amazing. What a contrast to the previous ones.

  2. Gin March 12, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Isn’t it great to know that you work in a place where you could get lunch if you need to? I have some food additive allergies, and when I was teaching in the public schools (I teach college now) I couldn’t eat in the cafeteria because I didn’t know what was in the food (not that it was remotely appealing, anyway!).

  3. Tracy L March 12, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    This is a great lunch. I am also happy to see some schools have gluten free options for lunch. My son’s school district does not offer any gluten free options grade k-8. And the only option 9-12 is the salad bar which is pretty lacking from what I have heard from the teenagers I know. My son has been gluten free for over a year and wishes he could get school lunch but there are no options for him.

  4. Alexis March 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    I appreciate your comment about recalibrating after the long period of pregnancy and infancy and can relate. Your comment about citizen journalists is inspiring too.

  5. N. March 14, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    Glad to see you’re back!
    That school lunch looks yummy. I was wondering if the school you’re currently working at has adopted the new Michelle Obama’s plan for “healthy-eating”. Have you read up on the new guidelines yet? It would be interesting to hear some of your thoughts on the changes.

    • Amanda May 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

      Michelle Obama’s policies have made our school lunches absolutely horrible. We’re now paying higher prices for less food that’s unhealthier than it used to be. Did you know she established a minimum calorie requirement of 800 calories for lunch? And she has the audacity to wonder about our nation’s childhood obesity crisis? My god. Our healthy lunch line now serves french fries, and we are only served soup 2 days a week now, and we are not allowed to make the soup a meal (aka we must pay extra for sides).

  6. Caroline Taylor March 22, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    Really interesting lunch, it’s not like that where I am!

  7. Anita March 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    Are you gluten free out of necessity? I’m slowly learning more about this latest way of eating.

    It sounds like you are gradually preparing for more life changes. I can relate. I’m 55, yet I still feel like I’m supposed to be writing other than on my blog; though, I love having the blog!

    Best wishes!

  8. Robin March 26, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    I googled the magazine Chop Chop and found you. But I remembered your story from way back when. Sorry to have missed the magazine give away. Do you still subscribe? Wish my son’s school provided lunches like the one in your picture!

  9. JoAnn March 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Were there any other choices for lunch? One of my kids would love what was on your tray and the other would starve to death before he took a bite. I think it looks fantastic!

    • JoAnn March 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      Sorry. I see now there are 3 choices. Curious about the others.

  10. Heidi E April 1, 2013 at 1:12 am #

    I just finished and loved your book! You are a great writer and an inspiration!

    I plan to see if I can help cut fruit at my school and have the kids eat it while in line. I got the idea over a year ago when I asked my son if the “hot lunch” kids eat their fresh fruit. He says no it takes to long to eat it so they just throw it away. He never wants hot lunch because the wait in line is so long. I feel sorry for the kids that have to endure it.

    We are cow milk free and I am gluten free as well but I have to admit I was taking the easy road and tossing in processed snacks with the white bread PB&J for my boys’ lunches. You got me back on track- I will dust off the bento boxes and fill ’em up with fruit and veggies!

    I also slacked off this year as school garden coordinator but now I’m ready to hit it harder than ever! Last year we grew broccoli, radishes, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and mint.

    I can’t believe how much you just changed how my family will eat. You probably added years to our lives.

    Thank you!

    • Mrs Q April 8, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

      Oh my, you are so sweet to say that!! Thank you! It’s my readers, like you, who inspire me!

  11. greg August 31, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    Is that tray supposed to feed a growing child who is physically active??

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