Mon 23 Jan 2012
I got my first job when I was 12 years old as a paper girl for the local newspaper, the [now defunct] Temple City Times. Every week the company would drop off 75 newspapers and I’d have to roll each one, secure it with a rubber band and if it was raining, put it into a plastic sleeve. Once they were ready to go I’d put them neatly into my canvas bag and hop on my bicycle to make the deliveries.
The rest of the delivery crew was all boys and they’d sling their big canvas bags casually over the handlebars of their bikes. But I found this too awkward; the weight of 75 papers was just too much for me to be able to balance it on my handlebars. So I had to wear the bag – which was essentially a big parka with a large pouch on each side to hold the papers. Even though the bag was designed to be worn exactly this way, it wasn’t the most stylish accessory and I looked like a complete spaz wearing this potato-sack parka/ bag thing.
One day when I was at the Temple City Times office to pick up my [paltry] paycheck, one the paperboys asked me why I always delivered all my papers. “You know that out of those 75 papers, only 15 are subscribers. The rest are just free papers you have to give out so people will sign up for a subscription.” He then went on to tell me that he only delivered the subscription papers and threw the rest away, because “no one would know.”
Though I knew that the extra 60 papers were giveaways I’d never even considered not delivering them…until that moment. When I thought about it, the free papers were rarely even read or picked up for that matter. I knew this because on my route I’d see most of the free papers still sitting on the front porches, driveways and lawns where I’d tossed them the week before. A few houses sported a mini pile of untouched papers, which would turn into a messy, gray papier-mâché volcano after a few rains. Why should I go through all the trouble to give them something they didn’t want in the first place?
After that day, I’d roll up my 15 subscription papers then promptly hide the other ones in the cabinet above my closet to throw away later (when my parents were sure to be gone for long enough for me to do so). I could now sling the canvas bag over my handlebars like all the paperboys did, and it felt great. Then one day I came home from school to find the cabinet doors wide open, exposing what was probably 500 or more newspapers. Apparently my father went to investigate after he noticed lots of black fingerprints on the white cabinet doors. I was busted!
When my parents asked my why I’d done it, I told them the truth: I was tired of looking like a dork and wanted to fit in with the paperboys. It was so important that I’d completely overlooked the fact that I was stealing and totally ripping off my employer. While I never again did anything illegal in an effort to feel included, I wasted many more teenage and adult years worrying and trying to fit in with a number of people, places, trends, etc. Why do we put ourselves through the stress? I guess that’s the million dollar question!
Since moving to Ireland, I’ve learned to let my insecurities go. Being a foreigner in a new country will do that to you! I STILL don’t get most inside jokes, I am utterly clueless about all things Irish music/celebrities/pop culture, have a hard time understanding most regional accents and there’s still a lot of confusion over social and cultural traditions here. For all intents and purposes, I’m a square American peg in a round Irish hole, and that’s perfectly fine. My friends and co-workers accept and even embrace our differences and so do I.
And I’m much happier for it.
Leftover Breakfast Frittata
You can really use anything in this frittata – the only must-haves are the eggs and cheese. In this case we had one potato and one small fillet of sea bass so that’s what I put in. But you can use sausage, other veg – anything you want! The point is to be flexible and go with the flow :)!
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
1 potato, cooked and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 cooked sea bass fillet, cut into small pieces
Few splashes of milk
Salt & pepper
Handful grated cheese
Handful torn fresh basil
In a medium-sized sauté pan, heat up the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the bell pepper and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Now add in the potato and the sea bass fillet and stir with the onion and peppers and cook for about 2 minutes or until warmed through. Make sure the ingredients are evenly spread out over the pan.
Turn on the oven to the grill setting at 180C. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together and add a dash of salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the pepper/onion/potato/sea bass into the pan – it should still be over medium-high heat. Let it cook without touching it for 3 minutes. Top with the shredded cheese then put under the grill (broiler) for another 3 minutes or until the egg has set. Remove from the oven and top with the fresh basil.