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Pancake Observations from the first day of Summer Vacation 2017

June 22, 2017

Seriously, make yourself some pancakes.

After making hundreds of pancakes, I’ve got some observations:

1. Do not use oil instead of butter/margarine in the liquid part of the batter. Your pancakes will have a denser consistency that is not particularly pleasing to this pancakeur. (yeah I just made that up)

2. My best pancakes have come from either my electric griddle (thanks Dad) or more recently, from my now-properly-seasoned 12″ cast iron pan. Neither of which I have to put down oil or butter on grease up the pan for proper pancake cooking/flippage.

3. A cup of yogurt, watered down with a 1/4 cup of water and blended in a blender, makes an excellent substitute if you’re out of milk. Ditto for flavored coffee creamer, if you have that on hand, instead.

4. I’m a fan of using grams, instead of our US oz and cups etc for cooking/baking. Get yourself a digital scale, folks. They ain’t expensive.

5. Thanks to chef Matty Matheson, I use my sieve/strainer as a sifter for putting together my dry ingredients. I didn’t think sifting made a difference til I tried it. it does. Do it.

6. Top with whatever you want. Don’t have syrup? How about some of that yogurt (not watered down) or even some jelly and water, reduced, to make your own flavored syrup?

7. Folks, if you’re single, learn to make pancakes for the apple of your eye. It landed me my first wife, and though that didn’t work out, my wife-to-be is a big fan of my pancakes. And folks, if you don’t know how to cook at all, and you wanna learn, pancakes are a great entryway to learning how to cook, in my opinion.

8. Mentioned above, but folks, please get yourself a cast iron pan and learn to take care of it. Properly taken care of (instructions are easy to find on the Internet), a cast iron iron is a cooking thing of joy forever. Also, ladies, if some jackanapes “gentleman” thinks he’s funny and tries to give you that chauvinistic, MRA-type line of “get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich”, say nothing. Simply get your cast iron pan, and brain him but good.

9. MRA, aka Men’s Rights Activists: eat your own stupid fedoras. Besides, no one’s making you pancakes anytime soon, unless you hold your MRA meetings at the local Denny’s or IHOP.

10. And this is back to everybody: enjoy your summer, whether you’re working, off completely (students), or off illusionarily (teachers)!

Much love, Matt

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Quandary.

April 20, 2017

Almost done my first full year teaching in the School District, and there are more days that I hate it than I don’t. Even when i consider that most of my students like me, I dwell on the students that are the behavior problems. I’m not great at writing or executing lesson plans. I am hopeless at modifying or accommodating for my SPED students, AND I don’t know Spanish, Chinese, Arabic or any other language that would help me with some of my students. Almost everything tells me I shouldn’t be a teacher. My heart tells me I’m wasting my time, and my stomach and nervous system seem to agree, showing up with the dry heaves at least once a week. The older I get, though, my options are limited. What can I do now? What do I WANT to do now?

A friend asked me if I had a better plan, recently, and I had to admit to her that I don’t have a better plan. I’ve NEVER had a better plan. Mostly, I’ve meandered through life, and that’s gotten me some great adventures. Memories and experiences are great, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. When I tell stories to my students, and they ask, "Mister, what HAVEN’T you done?" I know they ask from a place of wonder, yet it always feels critical. Like, whoa, you failed at SO MANY THINGS, and now THIS? I know that’s ME saying that to myself, but I’m having a hard time believing its anything else but failure.

Still, I have about 60 school days left, and the district DOESN’T want to fire me. This may indicate I’m not nearly as incompetent as I feel everyday. And yet, that feeling persists. Do I keep persisting, or is that only for Elizabeth Warren? Maybe I’ll never know, but I do have to to wonder: should I/will I ever answer the call to be an actor on a full-time basis? Do I have the guts? Some would say I have guts a-plenty, working as a teacher. Still, I’m not sure.

This episode in self-doubt has been brought to you by 30 Something Floundering Man: The Guy You Hope You’ll Never Be.

All my best,
Matt

Tsunami, Both Feet Planted

December 11, 2016

A dream I had just before wakingI was a young man
walking behind a trusted older person in my life
dad? boss? counselor? leader?
there were children that looked up to me
asking where we were going
and was I in trouble?

some yards away, the waves of the sea raged
crashing with burgeoning fury
on a shrinking beach
the sky, gray, the wind whipping
the world tied to a post

the leader made a turn, headed up a cross street
perpendicular to the beach and the fury
but I stayed put
watching and waiting for the inevitable
crash and wall of water
the guttural suck of sand
as the liquid giant reared up
gathering everything into itself

lightning flashed, and, turning
i noticed an oar in my hand
and suddenly
I was in a boat on that street
the tiny skiff about to be
drawn into the maw
of angry Mother Ocean

I sat down, gripped that oar
and steeled myself in the direction
of that great wave
lightning crashed

and I awoke.

this is not an unintended dream
this is not a random series of images
this is the message that I’ve needed

get paddling, teacher, leader
or you will be crushed
lost at sea
on land
now
forever.

-12/11/2016-

The Uphill Battle

November 26, 2016

I’d like to think that I didn’t suffer from procrastination and frustration earlier in life, but I know it was always there. When I was younger, things were easier, or maybe the bar was set lower. Maybe I just had easier times clearing those youthful challenges. The closer I get to 40, my challenges are not insurmountable, at least I don’t think they are. What makes it seem like that, though, is that I suffer from cyclical bouts of depression and the distraction brought on by life in the current connected world. FOMO. Twitter. Facebook. Instant Messaging. Texts. Cell phones, smart phones, personal digital leashes that keep YOU on a tight rein, even as they purport to give you freedom.

Whoops, here I am, procrastistractinating*. let me pause while I go finish my previous task…

It only took me this long to complete my task:

So it seems like I need to focus way more, right? But, short of moving to a cabin with no electronic distractions, how do I do that? It’s a meditation I’m working on. Of course, I need to meditate on that outside of working on what I need to get done for other people. Hopefully, I’ll figure that out.

All my best,
Matt Lydon

*procrastistractinating: [sniglet, verb] the process by which one does not get one’s work accomplished through active distracting of one’s mental and physical faculties in order to avoid the work at hand.

Distraction, No Traction

November 25, 2016

I quit Facebook. Again.

Although, somehow, i think this time, it’ll take. Of course, I still have myriad distractions, but the biggest one, Zuckerberg’s beast, is now no longer one of them. That’s good. I’m SO behind on grading and lesson planning for my classes. Good thing it’s Thanksgiving weekend, and I have the long weekend.

We’ll see how it goes. There’s life out there beyond Facebook, folks.

All my best,
Matt Lydon

Substitute Teacher

August 28, 2016

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WIP – Running Up Against Who I Used To Be

July 4, 2016

Mel was browsing in a bookstore for a science fiction book that he wanted to read, but that he didn’t want to spend money on. Call it part of the 12 step program he was slowly working his way though. After identifying triggers, and putting a name to all his drugs–food, books, toys, and 3-day passes to internet pornography site–Mel was testing himself. The book he’d been reading at other bookstores was not in the section he’d been looking in, and so he combed the shelves looking for a copy.

Realizing he was slipping into the desperation that signaled he was about to break his newfound sobriety, he backed away from the shelves in the teen science fiction section, much to the relief of a group of young kids who were trying to grab the new zombie space love novel the balding, fat, tattooed gentleman with the bad flip-flops was standing in front of. Ew, was that sweat on the shelf where he was standing? One of the girls broke out some hand sanitizer and spritzed some on the shelf as she watched the fat guy walk away.

-MEL? Mel Mulholland?

Mel snapped his head up from the floor, to meet the gaze of a man he thought he recognized but couldn’t quite place. There was a tickle in one of his brain’s lobes: the close-set eyes, the dark hair, the perma-grin on the man’s face. Yes, Mel must know who this guy is, but why, why can’t he remember?

-MEL! Mel, it’s me, Peter Scattaway, PETE!

Still nothing.

-Dora’s friend! Remember, from the Orange Julius on Your Green Day Tour Shirt Incident?

Nothing. Then…

-Oh, HEY, Pete! Christ, what’s it been… forever and a fucking day, right? -Yeah man, you said it! Hey, this is my daughter!

From beside Peter Scattaway, PETE! emerged a pretty teenage girl, who was obviously young enough to be both Mel or Pete’s daughter. Of course, now Mel felt ashamed at saying fuck in front of a young lady, but if it bothered Peter Scattaway, PETE!, he never said. A blonde woman, somewhere in the vicinity of Mel and Pete’s age slipped forward on silent flip-flops, coffee in hand, and eyebrow arched.

-Hi, I’m Claire, Pete’s fiancee.
-Great, hi! I’m Mel Mulholland.

Introductions went all around, but thirty seconds later, Mel couldn’t remember Claire’s name, nor the daughter, who may have been a step-daughter, or adopted daughter, or ward of the state placed in the protection of Peter Scattaway, PETE!. The book fever was still surging through Mel’s brain, and making him sweaty, so names slip right out of his brain, like the flop sweat running down his back, into the apex of his buttcrack. The fever was seeking an outlet. Now there was a gurgle in Mel’s belly.

-Hungry, Mel? You want some coffee or a biscotti? They have some downstairs!
-No, Pete, I’m good. I’m antibiotics right now. But how’ve YOU been?

A lie, compounded by small talk, and an over-eager face. Mel hadn’t seen Peter Scattaway, PETE! in twelve years, and even then, could only barely remember the essential facts of their last meeting. In a mutual friend’s house. He was sleeping on the couch. Mel had gotten a ride over there… maybe by bus? By then-girlfriend-cum-wife-now-ex-wife? Again, details were fuzzy. JESUS was he hungry. Where could a guy get a Tollhouse Ice Cream Sandwich or three right now?

Peter PETE! was in the middle of a monologue about where his life had taken him, something about working in IT, how he met his fiancee, what the daughter/step-daughter/wayward waif’s name and interests were. Mel could only hear his own blood surging in his ears, and feel the palms of his hands moisten to a dampness that could rightly be called tropical. And yet, he nodded enthusiastically, and expertly placed hems, haws, and Is That Rights? in all the correct pauses and places. Small talk champion twenty years in the past, small talk champion in the present time.

-Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for shopping Book-Mar-Teria Too. We will be closing in ten minutes. Please bring all purchases up to the register for final—

-Hey, looks like they’re trying to kick us out. Like that time at Coast-To-Coast Movies and Kitsch, remember? Back in 95?

Mel didn’t remember, but he summoned up a laugh, and a "Christ, i’d almost forgotten" to mask the fact that not only had he forgotten, he never remembered doing anything in any sort of video store, least of all with this guy, appearing out of the mists of his teenage years to boggle his mind two weeks before his 38th birthday.

Peter PETE! Scattaway laughed, leaning forward and clapped Mel on the back.

-Good times, right?
-Good times!
-Hey listen, we need to get together. I’ll get some of the girls, you bring your guitar. You still play guitar?
-Not much, anymore, I’m afraid.
-No? Not even ukulele?
-Well, i DO play ukulele now…

Damn you! WHY did you say that? Mel’s palms slickened as his heart rate quickened. He just wanted to get a 32 ounce jar of peanut butter, a pint of vanilla ice cream and a spoon and sit and eat it in his car, and who the fuck WAS this guy and–

-Mel, you alright?

It had been a full minute since Mel had spoken out loud. Peter PETE and his daughter were both staring.

-Hey, sorry guys. Listen, i need to get home, but yeah, give me a call.
-Yes! Been too long, man. We gotta get together! I’ll call you.

More unpleasantries/pleasantries as Mel tried to disengage from Peter while walking out to the parking lot. Peter bringing up stories, and buddies who owned this and that and who could swing Mel a deal if he needed it. Peter was a great guy, and this was all lost on Mel. The only important thing to Mel was wiping his gross, fetid swamp hands and diving face first into the nearest ice cream, or taco combo, or jumbo double hoagie with all the fixings he could find.

JESUS HAROLD RAMIS CHRIST IN A PRESSURE COOKER WHY WAS HE SO HUNGRY?!

-Gimme a ring, Pete. Great to see you.
-You too, man. Dora will be so glad to hear from you!

Peter PETE and his family drove away, and Mel threw his bulk into his sub-compact car, the frame groaning from his weight. He jammed the keys in the ignition, and slammed the acceleartor down, running over a squirrel, who’d chosen that terribly moment to scamper gaily across the Book-Mar-Teria Too parking lot to his own transient death. Mel drove, directionless but at high speed, until neon-yellow light burst into his field of vision.

BUFFET.

Christ on a cheese crack, he was hungry. All you can eat! the sign said.

So Mel got out of his car, and ran, smashing sweaty palms first into the door of the $10 feed your fat face fiesta. he didn’t even hear the servers greet him by name. He just threw the Hamilton down, and took a pitcher, a spoon, and headed for the soft serve ice-cream machine.

-7-4-2016-