That moment during ‘Waitress’ where I wanted to stand up and scream

Not the typical response during a Broadway musical, perhaps. Especially one built on the bubbly, emotional-fueled songs of Sara Bareilles. But, it wasn’t Sara’s fault that I felt compelled to stop the show and decry the scene unfolding on the stage.

If anyone needs to be blamed, then I will point a finger at the original book’s author, Jessie Nelson. Although I don’t like to blame others. It’s counter productive.¬† Instead, let me offer an open letter (are those still a thing??) to the writer about what bubbled up inside me at the pivotal scene in the musical:

Dear Jessie,

Former NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano said: “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day.”

Adopting that approach to evaluating a day, I can proudly share that I had a heck of a day yesterday thanks to seeing the traveling production of Waitress. However, I also experienced a level of frustration that left a stain on my memory of the show. It has to do with this:

Waitress2

Jenna is a woman who has clearly endured years of pain and suffering due to an abusive relationship. She is a dedicated friend and employee; she creates and shares willingly. She is not perfect; she perseveres yet doesn’t allow herself to achieve actual happiness.

But then she has her baby and EVERYTHING IS SUNSHINE AND ROSES. She has the courage to leave Earl and start her own business. She reclaims her self-worth and finds her entrepreneurial¬†chops. Obviously, she shares this newfound realization in a musical number dubbed ‘Everything Changes’ where Jenna sings:

“Today’s a day like any other
But I’m changed, I am a mother
Oh, in an instant
And who I was has disappeared
It doesn’t matter, now you’re here
So innocent
I was lost
For you to find
And now I’m yours, and you are mine.”

I do not doubt that such a moment could have such a profound impact on someone’s perspective and life. Yet, as an audience member struggling with infertility, it felt like a reinforcement that achieving motherhood is the ultimate quest. My life remains in gray until that moment of bringing a life into this world. If my life was a mess prior to this moment, then it will be magically scrubbed anew.¬†

If that is the measuring stick we’re using for women like Jenna, that such troubled lives can be turned around completely after taking on the role of mom, what does that mean for those of us who cannot — or don’t want to — take that journey? It reminds me of my former high school students, many of whom actively sought getting pregnant in order to create something to love — and something to love them — in their lives.¬†

While I applaud Jenna’s metamorphosis, I do wish that it didn’t have to be fully centered on becoming a mother. Because that makes me feel sad, inadequate, and worried that I don’t ever fully realize my best self if I can’t become a mother. Will I be able to experience that type of love and empathy? Will I ever feel that overwhelming sense of joy that I have watched play out in film, TV, books, and now a musical?

I know you can’t answer my questions, Jessie. But thanks for listening.

Sincerely,

Katie

Day three of vegan recipe challenge: I hear you parents!

Kudos to you, parent!

I am not one, although someday (SOMEDAY, Aaron), I hope to be. Until then, I admire those who have been able and willing (I hope on both fronts) to take on such an undeniably powerful and overwhelming task. Discipline. Diapers. Teething. Talking-back. Destruction. Chaos.

Wait, am I talking about my cats?

No no, kids. At least, these sentient beings spend far fewer moments in those states of terror (or, at least I will continue to tell myself this) and far more loving, learning, shining, taking on adventures, laughing, and reminding you why pro-creation is a good thing.

One area that could still be challenging – the kitchen. Now, I was a semi-picky eater growing up. Most of my meals consisted of buttered noodles, peanut butter, and a pickle (with ice cream + chocolate sauce for dessert!). Despite that not being the most nutritionally-sound meal, it failed to spark my non-bread/salt tastebuds. Yet, it was an easy meal. And one thing I have gathered from parents: the easier to make/prepare the meal, the better.

So, parents, I bring you a gift courtesy of Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati who put together “The Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook.” There are several out in the market that serve as an homage to this boutique grocery-chain. Most of the recipes aren’t vegan, but – aha! We can be adaptable.

tjs

Without further ado, I present one of the tastiest, easiest vegan recipes I have stumbled up:

White Lightning Chili

Makes 8 (1-cup servings)
Prep time: 5 minutes; Hands-off cooking time: 20-25 minutes

2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can white kidney beans (cannelloni beans), rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (13.75-ounce) jar Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa

Notes:
The original recipe also calls for 1 (1-lb) package of Just Chicken or 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded into bite-sized chunks. If you want to include this, I would recommend one of the Beyond Meat Chicken products, which you can find at Whole Foods or even – yes – Walmart. Trader Joe’s also has chickenless strips. Or, you could throw in Morningstar chicken stripes. Additionally, the recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded three cheese blend. If your kids are wild about cheese, in my opinion, the Daiya brand is the best (less so Follow Your Heart).


1) Pour broth into a medium or large pot. Add quinoa and bring to a boil.
2) Add remaining ingredients and return to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
3) Serve in bowls, topping with shredded cheese (optional).

white lightningImage via CookTJ.com

Hope this goes over in your family better than that time someone had the idea of playing indoor football with grandma’s priceless vase.