Our Lady of Lemonade

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  An oft heard proverb.  How many times do we listen to this type of advice and follow it?  How many times do we instead roll our eyes, shake our head, and go about our business sucking on those lemons?

One of the fun things about being a senior in high school is looking forward to the next chapter in your life.  “What are you going to do?” we would ask each other.  “Are you going to get a job?  Are you thinking about joining the Armed Forces?  What college do you want to go to?”  For me, the answer to the last question was always quick to roll off my tongue.  The University of Notre Dame. 

There were many things that attracted me to Notre Dame.  The academic prestige.  The history and tradition.  The Catholic identity.  Perhaps the mythos.  And yes, the football team.  How I love college football.  I have also been a wee bit curious how a school with such a francophonic name ended up having the “Fighting Irish” as its mascot.

I dutifully filled out the applications, essays, had recommendations written.  There were a handful of Bs on blemishing my report card, yet I was confident.  I had a good SAT score, lots of extracurricular activities, community service, and recognition by the National Honor Society to bolster my cause.  So, I sent my application in, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Letters came in from the other institutions to which I had applied.  Acceptance letters from Washington University (a good sign–Wash U is also an academically prestigious institution), Marquette University, The University of Nebraska, The University of Iowa, Iowa State University.  One denial letter so far, from Northwestern.  The letter from Notre Dame took the longest.  Although I read the news with a heavy heart, I refocused my sights elsewhere.

I ended up choosing Iowa State.  A very well-respected Land Grant Act institution.  The campus was beautiful.  I was far enough away from home to feel on my own, yet close enough if I needed to make a weekend visit.  The football team was . . . well, they had a football team.  I even thought to myself, maybe I could be like Rudy, study hard for a couple of years, and finish out my degree at Notre Dame.

In the process I fell in love with Iowa State.  I lived in a Fraternity and enjoyed the brotherhood and camaraderie.  I lived down the street from the Catholic Church, which somehow seemed tolerant with other viewpoints while still toeing the official line.  I never missed a game from our sometimes hapless football team, and yet I was always proud of our gridiron warriors.  Four years later, I proudly accepted my degree.  I would go on to get a Master’s Degree from another school, but will always consider myself an Iowa State alumnus.

Way back when, in a slim business sized envelope, Notre Dame sent me a bunch of lemons.  I packed up the lemons and took them to Iowa State where I made some delicious lemonade. 

Somewhere along the way, however, I have misplaced my lemonade recipe.  Maybe depression hid it from me.  Maybe anxiety whispered into my ear that I won’t be able to find it.  No matter.  I am looking for it again.  I will find it, and when I do, you are all invited to have a drink.

WEDNESDAY FUN: Cooking Experiment Successes

I love to cook, and I love to come up with my own creations.  For a while I had been bugging my wife to let me try to make fish tacos.  We love fish, we love tacos.  How could it go wrong?  Still, she was nervous.  Finally I just did it one day.  I grilled up some white fish filets (I think I used tilapia) which I then separated with a fork.  I mixed some taco seasoning in with sour cream and a little lime juice.  To top it off, I had a mango salsa, cheese, and a little cabbage and onions for crunch.  I’m sorry that I can’t provide a recipe, as I never write anything down, but try it some time.  Delicious.

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