Creating community through CRAPPY dinners.

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When I first discovered Friday Night Meatballs I was heading back to Oakland from Austin.

I was in-flight, clicking around on spotty wifi, when I stumbled upon Sarah Grey’s article.

My first reaction was: This is brilliant! I am SO doing this when we move back to Texas!

It was August ’14.

I knew we were returning to the ATX.

I wasn’t (yet) allowed to widely share.

As a result, finding the meatballs-article felt like a sign.

I’d decided we’d not move back to our previous Austin neighborhood (I didn’t want the Child to try & recreate old routines).

I was confident she would thrive & make friends.

Not only are 9 year olds  far more friendly, at times, than their Mamas —she’d have a vast supply of potential friends in the form of *school.*

I knew it would be harder for me as I’d learned, during my Oaktown transition, the work I did could be isolating.


oh the conundrum. I love my work. My work is so so solo.

The  Friday night meatballs article appeared at the perfect time and seemed to be exactly what I’d need post-move.

For those of you who’ve not read it—here’s the short version:

  • Parenting can be lonely (in place of parenting I inserted moving. non-parents can insert LIFE).
  • We humans are busybusy & have lost our sense of community.
  • Answer: Host a weekly dinner, invite friends & strangerfriends, serve simple meal of spaghetti & meatballs.
  • Enjoy.

I visualized reconnecting with old friends over gluten-free pasta. I saw myself using Meatball Dinners to facilitate new neighborhood friendships. I hatched a plan and emailed to my plan to my Austin-based sister.

This was happening.

There are no accidents. I reminded myself.  I was meant to discover this article mid-flight.  I was excited.


I was totally doing THIS inside my head.

And then we moved.

And then I realized, no matter how much positivity I manufactured for the Child, I was exhausted.

I’d forgotten the car-culture of Texas and how it made for a challenge to organically meet people.

Vanished was the misfit who’d presumed she’d possess the chutzpah to invite strangers in, proffer paper plates & Prego and ask ‘em to dine among the boxes.

This avowed non-perfectionist couldn’t get herself out of other people’s heads.

Is this really jarred pasta sauce?! I would have made my own.

Did she really toss those pre-made turkey meatballs in the (gasp) MICROWAVE?!

I gave myself a raging case of paralysis by over-analysis.


I made it as far as clearing space…and stopped.

 I allowed fear to place my excitement permanently on PAUSE.

In a fashion which was entirely unlike me–I decided what I’d do wouldn’t be enough. I decided was too lifetired to put myself & my sauce out there for judgement.

Even though before, on any given day, I’d have yanked you in my home to play and not given a …care what you thought of my offerings.


The Friday Meatballs article was intended to remind women not to care.

To encourage them to say Hey look at me! I’m so laid back! Come over and hang! This is practically spontaneous!

Those words now read to me as far too ‘pressured perfect’ for where I was in my life.

Friday nights came and went.  No gatherings. No meatballs.

And then came Crappy Dinners.

And I fell in love.

Even the name felt freeing.

This is why I wanted to have people over!

I’m no foodie.  Sure I want people to not feel famished, but what *I* craved was company and camaraderie.  I didn’t care if the food was (finger quote) crappy (unFQ).

I’m a believer in managing expectations and what set the food-bar properly on the floor more than inviting new friends over for a Crappy Dinner?

I’ll grill crap.  I’ll have crap to drink. If there’s specific crap you WANT—feel free to bring it along!

(the above is my interpretation of the crappy-concept. my apologies to the crappy author if she’s not a fan)

Hell, I was searching for signs, the child had present me with this message on our dry erase board before we moved:


(I love you like crappy. GO MOM.)

And she’d never handed me a missive which read: I love you like meatballs!!

So that’s where we are.

Crappy dinner time.


I’m making myself vulnerable and asking.

I’m #wycwyc’ing dinner like every other damn night.  I’m knowing that’s enough.

Progress not perfection.

Crappy not…perfection.

I’m inviting you to join me. Virtually. Host your own Crappy Dinner and share about it.

The post Creating community through CRAPPY dinners. appeared first on Carla Birnberg.

This entry was published on June 23, 2015 at 3:18 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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