NaBloPoMo: 30 Days of Blogging About my Ordinary Life

Earlier this week my son Nico saw me at my computer editing a blog post. He had just come out from his room after working on Instagram a school essay. I’m sure he does not understand how anyone could possibly spend their time writing anything that’s not an English class assignment.

Nico asked me, “You’re blogging again? I explained that I was nearing the end of NaBloPoMo, when I post everyday in November. Skeptically, he asked, “Is your life that exciting that you have something to write about every day?”

I didn’t even know how to respond to that until I thought about my November’s daily posts, then I said, “No.”

My life isn’t that exciting and yet I still managed to blog everyday for the last 30 days. In my uneventful life, that in itself is pretty exciting.

I hope it wasn’t too boring for you, and you’ll be back to read more, even if my posts are biweekly instead of daily. Maybe something exciting will happen in my life on my non-blogging days. Maybe not, but I”ll still blog about it. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled life.

Happy December!

Joy Cometh in the Writing

 

Notes On Wood 4  This is a long post. I hope you’ll stick with me, even if  my writing is kind of all over the place. It comes back full circle.

I struggle with finding Joy in my life. Lately, it has become an even bigger challenge. Ocassionally, I will encounter Joy in a fleeting moment, and then she’s gone, leaving me to feel like I will never find her again. 

Today I read one of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Melton from Momastery.  Much of what she writes is positive, and uplifting, and difficult and challenging. It’s what she calls, Brutiful. (Brutal and beautiful.) Today she wrote how we often forget what brings us Joy.  She said that we need to be still to listen and remember what brings us Joy.  One way to do that is to think back to when we were 12 and remember what made us joyful. 

I totally get this idea. I  have been blogging consisitently for 22 days. I am remembering  what brings me Joy.  I keep forgetting.  Well, maybe I don’t forget, as much as I don’t make important the practice of encountering Joy.

What follows is a blog post I wrote over a year ago. At the time I wrote it Joy was not even a visitor to my life. I remember feeling so uplifted that day, after writing this post . Then, I got sidetracked with my life, and I didn’t finish writing it.  I forgot about the Joy I found.  Today, after reading Glennon’s post, it reminded me that I had the same thought a year ago.  I remembered what brought me Joy when I was 12. It still brings me Joy at 50. . . .

__________________________________

I started writing when I was just a girl. I used to write and (badly) illustrate children’s stories.  I won a poetry writing contest in 5th grade. I was inspired to write more, and throughout my grade school days I continued writing. I wrote poetry, short stories and essays, plays. I wrote whenever I felt inspired and I didn’t think too much about grammar, punctuation, syntax or even spelling. By the time I graduated 8th grade I established that I was a writer, and I won another writing award.  Then I entered high school—a bigger pond with a lot more fish.

There were a lot of kids who liked to write.  All of a sudden I realized there was a lot more to learn about the craft of writing and my confidence waned. Being the competitive self that I am I started to compare my writing to others’ around me. When my poetry didn’t make it into the high school’s poetry journal and I started getting B’s in English, I began to doubt myself.

Once, in a high school literature course, I wrote an inspired essay about Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream. The words just flowed out of me. When I was done writing, I knew it was a well-written essay. I eagerly awaited the teacher’s comments.  The teacher agreed it was a  well-written essay.  In fact, it was so well-written that he questioned me about its authenticity. Did I even write it?  Perhaps I was “inspired” from another source?  Ouch.

 I put away my notebooks and decided to turn my attention to other interests.  No more writing for me, but then, it would call to me. During those moments in my life of sadness, confusion or Joy, I would be inspired to write it all down. In an assortment of notebooks I jotted poetry, prose, whatever came to me. One day, and I don’t know when or why, I stashed it all away so that I couldn’t even remember where to find it. 

 About three years ago, I became a blogger, and in that way I became a writer. I write. It’s not always good, it’s not always inspired, but I do it because I enJOY it.  Sometimes I remember the sting of my high school teacher’s comment. I wonder, is my writing any good? Is anyone out there reading?  I write mainly for myself, but it’s so affirming when I get a comment or a word of encouragement.  Recently, I received this comment from a reader named Jill.

” Hi, I happened upon your page because i was google-ing for an image of things tapped to the inside of kitchen cabinets for my https://www.facebook.com/sTuCkInThEtees?ref=stream
facebook page (memories of the 70s 80s 90s)
As I was raised by my grandparents after both my parents passed away when i was 7 yrs old, and my grandmother had Dear Abby clippings, tv guide covers, recipes etc. tapped inside our cabinets…..
I could NOT leave your LWB page without saying that I was moved to tears! I don’t know you, your grandmother, your family or friends….However i feel blessed and honored that by this story! Your story and memories have given me some “healing” from my youth….”

I wrote the post she’s referring to in an inspired moment. I started writing it in the car, as we left my grandmother’s house.  Somehow, in the random world of  Google Searches this reader found me, and found my grandmother’s story.  Jill’s words let me know that, somehow, my words have given her some healing for her own loss.  Her comment comforted me and motivated me.

It’s comforting to know that my own Grandmother’s life is touching others even after her death, and its due in part to my writing about her.  So I will continue to blog. I will continue to write.

And with that, I will continue to find Joy.

What brings you Joy? What brought you Joy when you were 12?

What’s in my Fridge? Food as a Writing Prompt

I am 12 days into National Blog Posting Month, where I write a blog post every day in November.  So far, even though I have had long, busy days,  I have been able to post daily without stretching too much for ideas.  Unless you call yesterday’s post a stretch.  Until today.  Today, I got nothing.  I turned to the writing prompts provided at the NaBloPoMo site for some inspiration.  Today’s prompt:

Write about 5 things in your refrigerator and how you feel about them.

Huh?

Well, I guess it’s a good thing that I have a pretty well-stocked refrigerator.  That would ironic if the writing prompt asked me to write about what’s in my refrigerator and there wasn’t anything in it.  Here it goes:

  1. Overripe bananas:  I frequently buy bananas even though only Juan and Erica eat them.  They want the bananas to be perfect, without a single blemish and they prefer them to be slightly green.  Once the bananas start to ripen Erica and Juan will not touch them.  That means they are left for me to eat since Diego doesn’t really like then and Nico would rather walk over a bed of hot coals than go near a banana, or any fruit for that matter.  I will eat slightly ripe bananas but once they become too ripe the only useful purpose they serve is to become banana bread. Wouldn’t you know it that everyone around here will eat the banana bread, as long as I make it.  Except,  of course, Nico.
  2. Fresh cut pineapple:  One of my many responsibilities,  in addition to making banana bread from overripe bananas, is to cut pineapple.  Unlike bananas, nearly everyone in our house likes fresh pineapple.  Except of course, Nico.  It is a fruit, after all. Even though everyone likes fresh cut pineapple, it seems no one around here likes to cut it. Once I cut the pineapple, I put it into a container and it is eaten within hours of it being placed in the refrigerator. After several years of complaining that no one else cut the pineapple I finally got Juan to cut it, once.  He told me he didn’t want to outsource my job so he would not be making a habit of cutting the pineapple. I guess I’m okay with being the sole pineapple cutter in the house, as long as someone else learns to make banana bread.
  3. Yogurt: I buy the yogurt with the best of intentions to eat it.  Occasionally the kids will eat it as long as it is a flavor they like.  I buy it for myself because I need the calcium and since I can no longer drink milk, I figure yogurt is s good substitute.  The truth is though, I don’t really like yogurt.  It took me  a long time to learn to tolerate it. I think it’s the texture of yogurt that I find so distasteful. I used to feel like I would gag when I ate it.  When I see how Nico curls his nose whenever he gets too close to a banana, I am reminded how I used to feel whenever I tried to choke down a cup of yogurt.  Now, I can eat it without gagging but I can’t say I really like it.
  4. Cheese: What can I say? I love cheese. I think it’s the perfect food. Plus, I am fascinated by the mystery of how cheese is made. Unlike yogurt, which has its own mystery behind making it, I think the end result in making this fermented food is delicious.  I have all kinds of cheese in my refrigerator right now. Aged cheddar, fresh mozzarella, havarti, goat cheese, blue cheese, and parmesan. Once my son asked why I had so many different cheeses in the refrigerator. I told him that cheese to me was like ice cream to him.  There are so many “flavors” that you can’t have just one.
  5. Wine: I almost always have an opened bottle in the refrigerator. As much as I enjoy a good glass of wine, I can only drink one glass, unless it’s the weekend.  The opened bottle with the rest of the wine goes into the refrigerator. Hopefully, it doesn’t stay there too long. Sometimes, instead of dinner on a weekend evening, I will make up a cheese platter (see above) and pour myself some wine.  Enough said.
What's in your fridge?

What’s in your fridge?

And Then I’ll Write

It’s very late. I almost didn’t make it to post on my blog today. I thought I would get up early and write but my morning was cut short because I had to get my son to a 7:30 dental appointment. I meant to get to it during my lunch hour but the weather was so beautiful I opted to have lunch outside with Juan instead of at my desk. I decided that I would make some time to write when I got home from work but Juan didn’t come home directly after work, so I ended up making dinner and then cleaning up by myself.

I was starting to feel like I had too many distractions and obligations which were taking me away from my goal of blogging every day. I had committed to spend some time with girlfriends this evening and have a glass of wine.  I realized that if I decided to go out I probably wouldn’t get a chance to work on my blog post that I had started, so I thought that I should cancel my plans and stay home to write. Bleh. I really wanted to see these friends.  Then, I remembered some words of encouragement I read yesterday about making time to write.

The article said that if you ask yourself, “how do I make time to write” you are already giving yourself an excuse not to write. The writer suggested that after you list all that you need to do during your day, you finish your list with, “and then I’ll write.” I decided I didn’t need to sacrifice my much needed time out with friends. Now here I am, blogging at 11:30 pm.  And that’s okay because I had a full day and I still made time to write.  Here’s my list:

1. Take Nico to Dentist

2. Go to work

3. Eat lunch outside and enjoy a beautiful Fall day.

4. Make dinner

5. Clean kitchen

6. Enjoy a night out with friends

7. WRITE

Foodie Friday: The Lazy Ox Canteen

I am introducing a new feature on my blog. It is my husband Juan’s idea to help me get blogging again, and it’s my idea to help us out of our “same old, same old” lunch rut. This routine involves brown bagging it everyday and eating at our desk or on a nice day, eating outside in the park. I am going to call this new feature “Foodie Friday.”

Foodie Friday will be my review of a local restaurant that Juan and I will enjoy once a week. And because we are parents of 4 kids and don’t have a lot of extra cash to throw around, I will review those places where we can eat at a discount. I mean discounts like Groupon, Living Social, Travel Zoo—any number of the sites which send me offers and I impulsively buy. (I can’t tell you the number of offers I’ve bought, only to have them expire). I figure a lunch out with my husband that doesn’t involve leftovers, or a turkey sandwich, and ends with a blog post, means that everyone wins! So, I give you my first installment of Foodie Friday.

The Lazy Ox Canteen

Juan and I work in the same building in downtown Los Angeles. It’s kind of nice to be in the civic center, but as far as restaurants go in this area, they are pretty scarce. Don’t get me wrong, Downtown LA is undergoing a huge revitalization, several blocks away. Grand Avenue is beautiful with its high rise apartments and office towers, Disney Concert Hall and what will be a stunning new museum, the Broad.  East of Grand, the area is crawling with Hipsters. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a young urbanite walking their dogs, or lounging outside coffee houses. Little Tokyo is another area which is experiencing some growth, perhaps due to the encroaching loft conversions and growing hipster population. This is great for those of us who work in the Civic Center because Little Tokyo probably has the most accessible restaurants, especially if you want Japanese food.

Not long ago a new restaurant (well, new to us anyway) appeared on the fringe of Little Tokyo, The Lazy Ox Canteen. Even more recently, I learned that Travel Zoo was offering a voucher, $29.00 for lunch for two, including two of their gourmet burgers and a flight of beer. I hesitated at first because after all, a flight of beer? On a work day? But then I remembered it was Friday, and how much work could I really expect to accomplish on a Friday afternoon! So I bought it and I’m glad I did.

We arrived after a short walk, made longer because it was blazing hot. It took awhile for my eyes to adjust to the dimly lit space, but once they did I could see that the place had a modern, upscale, tavern feel, and the majority of the diners appeared to be businessmen enjoying a cold one with their monolithic burgers. There was a chalkboard on the wall displaying the day’s beer offerings. We were seated immediately, but with only one waitress for the entire restaurant, it took awhile for her to take our order.

We ordered our burgers that were included with the Travel Zoo voucher and the waitress told us which beers we would be served. Not long after, she presented us with a “plank” of 4 glasses of 5 ounce pours of beer. They ranged in color and flavor, and maybe if I hadn’t enjoyed ALL 4 glasses and taken notes, I would be able to tell you what they were. Suffice to say, I liked them all.

Undaunted by the task ahead of me.

Undaunted by the task ahead of me.

The food was really tasty too. I love a good burger and The Lazy Ox’s was flavorful and cooked the way I like, even though the texture of the meat felt a little…crumbly? The best part of the plate though was the French fries. They were crispy but full of flavor. They came with a delicious aioli for dipping.

The fries and the aioli upstaged the burger.

The fries and the aioli upstaged the burger.

Between the fancy dipping sauce and the deliciously seasoned fries, it was a good thing Juan ate all his fries too because I could have reached over and finished his, even after eating my huge burger.

The walk back to my office took even longer, in part because of the heat, but more likely because of all the carbs I just ingested. Good thing there was a Starbucks on the way, and in keeping with my discount theme, I was able to use a gift card to buy us much needed caffeinated drinks. After a good lunch, a full flight of beer and a walk in the heat, I really needed it!

The finish to my carb loaded lunch.

The finish to my carb loaded lunch.