Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Chorus Line & Collard Greens

*sigh* I wish I could follow up PC's great post yesterday with something as profound. *nervous laugh* I gave it my best shot.

Kiss today goodbye.
And point me toward tomorrow.
We did what we had to do.
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for love.

~~ "What I Did for Love" lyric by Edward Kleban from A Chorus Line

Southerners have a very unique New Year's Day menu: ham, corn bread, black-eyed peas, rice and collard greens. There's an old saying that if you eat poor on New Year's, you'll eat fat the rest of the year. While I have some pounds to lose, I'm all for eating fat in the metaphorical sense.

Black-eyed peas and collard greens are supposed to bring good luck -- black-eyed peas because they look like little coins and they swell when cooked (supposedly a sign of prosperity) and collard greens because they're green -- like money! Somewhere I even read that wearing red panties on New Year's Day is supposed to bring good luck. Who knew?

And so what does this have to do with A Chorus Line ? The show's storyline revolves around a group of dancers at an audition -- dancers who lay it on the line for a few coveted spots in a Broadway show. At one point a dancer is injured and carried off the stage. The director asks the rest what they will do when they can't dance any longer. "What I Did for Love" is their answer. It's a song about the drive that keeps them focused, hopeful and never regretting the sacrifices and hard work.

I'm real cool with the ham, corn bread, black-eyed peas and rice. And if I had a pair of red undies, I'd have worn them on Monday. But collard greens? *shudder* They remind me of something that was raked up in the back yard after the DH has used his spiffy self-propelled Toro mower.

Collard greens start out looking like this.

And they end up looking like this -- just like something you raked up in the back yard and boiled for an hour in a pot with ham, onions and seasonings.

But my DH loves them and I decided this year to complete the New Year's meal with collards. I even tried a spoonful of them. Not bad...but not good either.

Sometimes we step outside our comfort zone because it's what we need to do for ourselves.

Sometimes we step outside our comfort zone because it's an act of kindness for someone we love. Either way, we're doing something we don't really want to and for a good reason. It's something we do for love.

Writing is that way for me sometimes. It's like those icky collard greens. Sometimes I don't like doing it and I don't want to, and I can find closets to clean out and laundry to fold and weeds to pull -- anything to keep from plopping my fanny in the chair and writing. But if I want to sell anything I have to write it first. Once I get into the swing of the project, I remember how much I enjoy doing it. And when a contract comes in the mail, followed by a nice check, I can't forget and can't regret what I did for love.

What have you done for love lately? What's made you get outside your comfort zone and stretch?


Angel said...

For the longest time I thought I wasn't a real storyteller, a born storyteller, because sometimes I don't like writing. Writing is hard.
Yes, sometimes it flows, the characters come alive, and the plot spontaneously twists and turns in wondrous ways. But this is RARE.
At least for me it is.
Most of the time I do enjoy it, but sometimes it is hard to get started. And there are parts about it that suck, like the fortieth set of revisions, writing the very first page, or letting that envelope go at the post office. I've discovered that all writers have things about the process they don't like, just as they have different parts they love. You just have to work through them all to reach the goal.
Remember, "there are no shortcuts to any place worth going."


Kathy said...

I was always told that black-eyed peas were for good luck. My husband's family eats Hog Jowls for prosperity. So every New Year's Day, we have to eat ham, black-eyed peas, corn bread, and hog howls. Eckk! But... I do it for love and I do it to ward off the bad karma. LOL.

The kids want me to make sweet rolls, their favorite and I've been too lazy to get started. So... today I'll have to do that for love. Oh, but I LOVE the results. Yum! But the tedious production process is a chore.

Keeping to a writing schedule is hard. Sometimes getting out of bed when your back aches is hard. I know for some... writing when your hands hurt is extremely hard. But... we set our minds to do the task because we know we have to, because we take joy in the results. Black-eyed peas, hog jowl, and greens, totally worth it if it helps us begin the New Year feeling like we have the luck of the Irish leading the way.


Problem Child said...

Aww, shucks. You think I'm profound?


Sorry, collard greens are nasty. But, like PM, there are things I'll cook just because those I love love them. Deviled eggs. Anything with celery in it. Curry. Brussel Sprouts. Cooked broccoli.

I will make them, but I will not eat them. And you can't make me.

Instigator said...

Out of my comfort zone? I'm always out of my comfort zone :-) I'm the one sitting in my chair, or awake in the middle of the night, thinking of ways I can push the envelope. Whether the idea comes off as well in reality as it does in my head is an entirely different matter...


Anonymous said...

My hubby likes collard greens too. Ick.

He also loves asparagus. I hate it. But I cook it for him every once in awhile with a nice bernaise sauce even though the smell makes me sick. *shudder*

My least favorite part of writing is the editing, but it's a must so what can I say?

I'll try to remember Angel's thought--I like it. "there are no shortcuts to any place worth going."

Also, "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." – Vidal Sassoon

Maven Linda Howard said...

Oh, man. What do I do for love? Who cares about that! I want to talk about food!

Asparagus is one of my favorite veggies -- if it's grilled. Forget that boiled stuff. You have to get the bigger stalks, forget those wussy skinny ones, but -- yumm!

Also love collard greens -- IF they're cooked correctly. That means you have to add at least a tablespoon of vinegar to them as they're cooking, to smooth down some of the bitterness, and you have to sweeten them. The best sweetener, and I don't know why, is Yellow Label syrup. Light Karo syrup will do if you don't have Yellow Label. Heck, sugar will do! How much do you use? Beats me. Depends on how big a mess of greens you're cooking ;-).

And you absolutely have to have hot pepper sauce to put on them -- and cornbread.

Another something that's good with them is those big country style ribs, with oodles of good lean meat on them. Cook them in with the collards, until the ribs are falling apart, and you have some good collard greens. Not only that, if you add the vinegar and the syrup, you don't have to have fresh collards; you can use either the frozen or canned ones.

So what did we have on New Year's? Hamburger steak.