WWRD? – What Would Rhonda Do?

enjoli1

From the time I was a pre-teen, I wanted to be an Enjoli woman; you know, bringing home the bacon and all that goes with it. I love bacon! (Ooops! Sorry. Got a little excited there.) Even now, I have a ridiculous number of personal goals—so many I’d have to live to beyond Methuselah’s age to reach them all. Because of this, I have many role models whom I call my everyday heroes; women whom I admire for the way they do this thing or that thing, who have accomplished goals at which I hope to succeed, who grab life by the horns each day, shouting, “Ride ’em, cowgirl!” I won’t attempt to model myself after Oprah, Martha Stewart, Suze Orman, or Bethenny Frankel, because the thought of having to do all that they do (with the aid of a team of assistants, of course) terrifies me. Instead, women whom I personally know are the sources of my inspiration, because if they can achieve success, there’s hope for me.

I’ll admit that I stretch myself thin. I am a wife and a mother. I work as an editor and ghostwriter. I am an adjunct English professor and a Realtor. I write for this blog and occasionally for two others. I review books, and I am currently writing two novels and revising a short story collection of my own. Rarely does a day pass when I don’t think of at least one of the talented, inspiring, women in my life, and in some small way, I try to imitate the thing they do or have done so well. They are, each one of them, an inspiration to me, and when I’m faced with a challenge, I ask myself, “What would she do?”

Christians sometimes utilize the catch phrase, “What would Jesus do?”, and while it’s admirable to apply that kind of wisdom to the big decisions in your life, I find it difficult aspire to those heights, especially when dealing with life’s minutia. Jesus is a godhead, after all, and since I’m just a regular ol’ human being, I won’t begin to pretend that I can achieve the miracle of feeding thousands with a loaf of Wonder Bread and a can of tuna, when I do well not to burn the casserole. No, I’ll stick with imitating feet-on-the-ground women I admire, whom I can lock into a bear hug of thanks when I successfully mirror one of their achievements.

For example, when I’m faced with a classroom full of bored English comp students, I think, What would Rachel Bragg do? Rachel made literature so incredibly interesting for me that it became my concentration of study. She even coaxed me to study a course on fantasy literature, a subject I thought I hated until I took her excellent course. By mirroring her entertaining, yet no-nonsense approach to engaging and motivating students, my first semester of teaching college was a success.

When I think I can’t find the time to face yet another blank page in one of my works in progress, I ask, “What would Leslie Pietrzyk do?” Leslie teaches in two graduate writing programs, is active in two writing groups, is the editor of a literary magazine, authors a wonderful blog I follow, publishes new essays and short stories seemingly every other week, has authored two novels and is soon to release a third. If she can make time to write with all that’s on her literary plate, so can I.

When friends pop by unexpectedly for an evening (or even a long weekend), I ask myself, “What would Momma do?” I’ve watched my mother joyfully entertain and prepare a spread for a dozen unexpected guests more times than I can count. And, while tiptoeing along the poverty line most of her life, my mother still donates an extraordinary amount of time and energy to charity functions, from hand-stitching quilts for international missionaries, to heading up “The Master’s Basket”, a women’s group that makes and delivers food to sick individuals and bereaved families weekly. She frequently volunteers in her church and community for dozens of different projects as needed. She’ll forever inspire me to give selflessly and generously.

When my writing gets too dark and serious, or my prose falls flat, I think, What would Karin Gillespie do? Karin’s novels, essays, articles, and blog posts never fail to make me laugh, and she finds humor—and writes it so well!—in all of life’s foils and foibles. If you’ve ever chuckled when reading one of my blog posts, it’s because I’ve learned from Karin’s fine example.

So many strong and smart women have inspired and continue to inspire me: my late mom-in-law Georgia White, who was an excellent to-the-penny home-finances manager; many mother/wife/professor/writer friends including Cheryl Russell, Gabrielle Brant Freeman, Kathleen Nalley Moore, and Pam Andrews Hanson (who also writes as Jennifer Drew); my uber-organized editing boss Sandy Tritt; my go-getter real estate broker Enis Qosja and brokerage owner Crystal Anderson . . . I could easily continue naming names and singing praises. You can bet there’s also something about you that I probably admire, prompting me to ask, “What would [insert your name here] do?”

Admittedly, it’s easy for me to get in over my head when I think this way. I often bite off more cud than a four-stomached cow can digest, and I occasionally feel bad when I fall short of the successes my role models have accomplished. Nonetheless, I realize that, while each of these women are phenomenal at one or three things I greatly admire, they may intermittently fail at something I do well. None of us is perfect, yet each of us strives to be successful at whatever it is that we do.

Acknowledging this fact leaves me with one important, pressing question: What would Rhonda do?

I know the answer to this one by heart: she would try very hard.

Extremely hard.

And sometimes she fails, but she cleans up the mess (even if it means sweeping it under the rug until her guests leave), and tomorrow she will try again.

The Enjoli woman should be so fortunate.

Touchdown Wings

“Left wing, chicken wing, it don’t make no difference to me.” 

–Singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie

I promised you recipes. No, I haven’t forgotten, because a friend—one who can take persistence all the way to peskiness—reminded me again that I promised you recipes. So, in honor of the Big Game That Cannot Be Named on Social Media, here is one of my prize-winning recipes for the perfect tailgate food—even if you’re tailgating in your own living room.

Rhonda’s Touchdown Wings

touchdown wings

 ¼ cup maple syrup

1 large bottle teriyaki sauce

1 tsp chopped garlic

½  cup Tabasco sauce

½ to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

4-5 pounds chicken wing drumettes

Mix the first four ingredients, stirring well until the maple syrup has dissolved. If more heat is desired (I like mine combustible), add the red pepper flakes. (If you prefer very mild, teriyaki-flavored wings–we’ll call these Field Goal Wings–you may omit the Tabasco sauce, as well.) Now, I have to insist here that you use Tabasco sauce, in lieu of any other brand. Don’t make the mistake of using wing sauce, which, when diluted with teriyaki and maple syrup, will cause your wings to turn out bland, producing Five Yard Penalty WingsYou don’t want that.

Place the chicken in a large, lidded container. Pour the sauce mixture over the wings, and stir well. Cover the wings (shake them if the lid fits tightly). Marinate the wings in the sauce 6-8 hours or overnight. Don’t cheat and cook them after four hours or so. You want the seasoning to permeate the skin and leave you with moist, juicy Touchdown Wings, not Artificial Turf Wings.

For the very best flavor, arrange wings in a single layer on a hibachi, charcoal, or gas grill, and grill five minutes, then turn and grill another 3-5 minutes, until wings are done. If you want to prepare in your air fryer, arrange in a single layer at 375 degrees. Check after 4 minutes, turning or shaking your pan. Return to the air fryer for another three minutes. Monitor thereafter each minute until wings appear crisp and moist on the outside. I highly recommend checking one wing (the largest) for center doneness. NOTE: Air fryers differ greatly, as do their cooking times, so adjust the time for your model.

As another option, you can bake these babies in the oven. Simply line a cookie sheet with foil, and arrange wings in a single layer. Drizzle a scant amount of the marinade over the wings (not much, you only want to keep them moist, not drown them). Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, turning each wing over after 35-40 minutes.

Warning: If you make these wings for friends, know that you’ll have to make them every time there’s a football game, cookout, or picnic. There’s a reason I won a cook-off prize with these yummy little chicklets ($500, y’all!) and one bite will tell you why.

Please Be Nice

“Be nice to each other. You can make a whole day a different day for everybody.” –Richard Dawson

 

I wonder why it is that so many people find it difficult to be nice. I’m not talking about the Southern gentility of gentlemen opening car doors for ladies, or the young taking the arm of the elderly to assist in crossing the street. Nor am I talking about putting away your cell phone at the table to engage in polite conversation with the person sitting across from you—though these things are indeed nice.

I’m talking about niceness, as in the opposite of rudeness. I’m talking about keeping a civil tone of voice instead of screaming at someone. I’m talking about taking a breath and removing the venom from your voice before answering a simple question.

We all have bad days—I get that. Alarm clock didn’t go off, kid missed the bus, tire was flat, every traffic light turned red, coffee dripped on your suit . . . Murphy’s Laws are ugly laws. The person sitting across from you, however, or the person on the other end of the phone, didn’t cause any of those issues, and they don’t deserve the brunt of your anger. Tomorrow—or even a few hours from now—these things won’t matter. You’ll be on to the next predicament, and then the next, and the next one. What makes each of these challenges easier is to understand that, no matter how bad the moment seems, it will pass, and it’s true that somewhere, someone else is dealing with something much worse than a coffee stain on a new blouse.

But enough with the bromides—except this one: life is tough. Tough for you, tough for me, tough for everyone, but that doesn’t give any of us the right to be mean.

Maybe has to do with my Appalachian upbringing, because where I’m from, we believe it’s our compulsory duty to help our neighbors—even if we don’t particularly like them or agree with their politics, religious choices, or lifestyle. Or maybe it’s because I was raised in a family where I’ve watched my father give the money he needed for his heart medication to a family who lost their home in a fire; or perhaps it’s because I lived most of my life in the South, where hospitality is the norm, and even the meanest comment is often prefaced with “Bless his heart.” Any of these experiences might explain why I’m always stunned, and sometimes even hurt, by rude behavior and meanness.

Recently I completed a simple real estate transaction, and during the very routine process of completing paperwork and legwork, I was screamed at (I’m talking about true, hold-the-phone-away-from-your-ear-to-preserve-your-eardrum screaming) by another Realtor who was angry about something over which I had no control; I was lied to multiple times by a contractor; and I saw a customer reduced to tears because a snappish title-company executive didn’t trust its own title agent (also a notary) to verify a faxed signature he witnessed and notarized. Each one of these upsetting incidents could have been rectified, or at least made easier to accept, with one thing: niceness, a.k.a. honesty and human compassion.

Look, I’m not asking you, or anyone, to jump on the free love, shirt-off-your-back, bow-down-and-kowtow bandwagon. I am, however, asking you to be nice. I’m reminding myself to be nice. NICENESS IS NOT WEAKNESS. Don’t ever mistake it as such. We all know someone in a position of leadership or power whom we can describe as “the nicest person you’ll ever meet”, and we’d never call them weak. Remember that even bad news is better received when it’s delivered respectfully, with kindness and compassion: knowing this puts you in a position of strength and power.

Do you remember the heartwarming, B-rate movie Roadhouse starring the late Patrick Swayze? If so, you’ll recall his lecture to the bar bouncers—the guys who have the job of throwing out knife-wielding, gun-toting drug-smugglers and riffraff—in which Swayze’s character repeats time and again, “Be nice.”

Really, folks, it’s that simple.

You’re going to encounter incidents out of your control today; be nice. You’re going to encounter someone who is arrogant and self-inflated; be nice. You’re going to talk to someone who may be experiencing physical pain, the recent loss of a loved one, a cheating spouse, or financial or emotional bankruptcy; be nice.

If we’re truly lucky, our niceness will be contagious.

be nice

Order from etsy.com here: Be Nice Sign

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Discover

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Suzanne Heagy

Small lives, awkward moments, immense relief.

My Blog

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

The View from Goose Hill

A Second Look at What I Thought I Knew about Life

The Backwords Writer

Author Rosa Sophia

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Hawaii Pacific Review

Literary Journal of Hawaii Pacific University

Sliver of Stone Magazine

2010-2018 ARCHIVES

#amnoveling

Cathy Day's course on novel-writing at Ball State University

10,000 Tons of Black Ink

Featuring quality literary or experimental fiction and creative non-fiction.

Sorry Television

Reading a book a week

%d bloggers like this: