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At the beginning of this year, I did something I never thought I would do in a million years; I enrolled in graduate school at the local campus of the University of Virginia. One thing I have learned so far is that I still know how to procrastinate.

I did everything I could last night to avoid finishing my homework.

First, I decided it was time to wash the sheets and the comforter on our bed.

That would have been a perfect time to stop and do my homework but instead, I decided to make fried chicken for dinner.

This is the point in my story where someone who knows me well would become highly suspicious of my good intentions. I cannot stand to fry chicken; it’s messy, hot and the grease always pops up in my face.

My aversion to frying was a shock to Ron in our early years of marriage when he still hoped he had married a southern gal who could cook like one.

I was willing to put aside my distaste for the task if it gave me an excuse to delay my homework for a while.

Anyone who has ever fried chicken knows how time-consuming it is. As I began to cut up chicken parts, the shadow of my homework hovered in my thoughts.

Once the chicken was brown on both sides and I had turned down the heat, I could have brought my laptop downstairs to the kitchen and finished up my homework.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I decided to make cornbread to go with it. I did bring my iPod and speakers downstairs so I could hear some tunes while creating this feast for my family.

Macaroni and cheese and fresh French cut green beans rounded out the meal. And no, I did not get so carried away that I tried my first attempt at homemade mac n’ cheese.

I considered whipping up a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies but decided that might be a little over the top.

By the time I put the meal on the table, I had accomplished a never-before-seen feat in the Zich kitchen. The food looked as picturesque as the fake food on display in Okinawan restaurants.

Jimmy came strolling in 1½ hours late for dinner and commented, "That doesn’t look like something I would eat." He went on to question my sanity in serving him fresh green beans.

By the time I did the dishes, cleaned up my greasy stove and countertops and went back upstairs to finish my homework, it was 9 p.m. I had spent more time in the kitchen in one night than I had in … well, a very, very long time.

I put the clean sheets back on the bed and was tempted to just crawl underneath them and wait until the next day to finish my neglected assignments. But I didn’t.

I’m happy to report that I finished my homework in time for class the next day. While I’m there, the Zich men will have to fend for themselves at dinnertime.

There weren’t any leftovers last night except for those green beans and a few pieces of cornbread, so my guess is that takeout pizza will be their choice of cuisine.

The only one who might grumble at another night of pizza is Ron, that poor, misguided man who thought he was marrying someone who could serve him biscuits and gravy with every meal. Instead, he wound up with someone who would rather have her nose in a book, any book, just so long as it doesn’t have the word "cook" in it.

But I do have my moments, like last night, when frying chicken does not seem like the worst way to spend an evening. Anything is better than doing homework.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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