#AtoZChallenge — Time

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Speaking of time (thanks Armchair Explorer), I recently rewatched the movie About Time. It’s a favorite and always succeeds in making me cry, but at the same time always leaves me a little ticked that I can’t time travel.

Back in college, with my graduation year of 2010 fast approaching, I started having this reoccurring dream. In it, the stroke of midnight that ushered in 2010 would somehow slingshot me back to midnight of 2000, with all or most of my future memories intact. And oh, the things I did differently in those dreams.

  • I would have been more unflappable as I started at my new middle school.
  • I might have had the nerve to do choir as well as band.
  • When it came to fandoms, I would have gotten into Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy before the LiveJournal comms went dead.
  • I would’ve gotten my ears pierced sooner. My Grandma always wanted me to, even offering to get hers pierced a second time if I would get mine done. When I finally had mine pierced on a whim in high school as a distraction from being upset about something, I think she was a little sad that she hadn’t gotten to be there for it.
  • In sophomore year of high school I would have rolled my eyes and kept my mouth shut more while I friend of mine had a power trip.
  • I would have stood up to my mom more about why I didn’t care about going to school dances. I probably would have been out in high school.
  • I would have tried smoking weed in college.
  • There are people I would have avoided becoming to attached to in college, because they turned out to be insensitive jerks who had no problems with leaving me behind in the end.
  • I would have spoken up more in the second semester of that History if Education class, participated more in the discussions, and earned a grade as high as I got the first semester.
  • I might have studied abroad my junior year like everybody else, and not been so freakin lonely.

It’s not so much that I regretted what I had actually done… You know, beyond the basic looking back on some things and thinking oh god I can’t believe I did that oh god it’s so embarrassing. It was more like exploring what I could have done instead, what I would do if I were in that same position now and seeing how much I’ve grown since then. Those dreams brought me feelings of such intense pride in myself for no longer being such a doormat wallflower mouse.

I even had a similar dream more recently, probably due to watching About Time again. In it, I traveled from now to when I was in college and immersed in the Metalocalypse fandom. Because how frickin fun would it be to remember the fourth season before it aired, go into the fandom comms back in the day, and start presenting all these “crazy” theories that turned out to be RIGHT ON THE MONEY.

What would you do differently, and why?

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#AToZChallenge — Success

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


#AToZChallenge S- Success

Just a quote for today.

Do not measure your success based upon what society thinks of you, instead focus on doing your best and being yourself.

— Read on jazminruizjournal.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/atozchallenge-s-success/


Success can mean many things.

This week, for me, success means doing so well on an interview that I actually got a frickin callback for a second interview this coming week! If all goes well, soon I will have finally wormed my way into the wine industry. As a greeter, sure, but once I have my foot in the door I can keep my ears open for potential marketing jobs.

Hurray!

#AtoZChallenge — Racing

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Let’s start with a scenario…you’re scribbling (or tapping) away, totally in the zone and the characters are behaving themselves so it’s smooth sailing. You’re totally going with the flow, your mind is racing, the words pouring forth, and you start to wonder why you ever thought writing was so hard. Then the inevitable happens, you stumble over a simple word choice and reality hits you like a slap upside the head.

“Rack your brains,” Melissa Barker-Simpson

This is pretty much where I am with the story I chose to dedicate myself to for Camp NaNoWriMo.

When I started out, I was flying. So much so that I had to break the first half of what I’d written for chapter one into a prologue because it covered a ridiculous amount of time. By the time I was done with that, I also had a chapter by chapter outline, with notes and relevant songs to use as prompts/inspiration for setting the kind of mood I want. All of this was still vague enough that by the time I got to chapter six everything was still on track as planned, with the addition of some cool little plot developments that I’d figured out along the way.

And now, most of the way through chapter six and 45k words already in the doc, I’m starting to hit The Wall.

In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk is a condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy which is caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles.

During middle school, I got into cross country running for a while. I felt The Wall many times. It’s pretty much the same as in writing… At some point it becomes a lot more effort to carry on, I’ve been working on the project so long and the shiny newness isn’t as shiny anymore, and I start feeling like I’d rather be doing anything else when, ultimately, that’s not the case.

It’s as important to finish the story as it is to finish the race, but sometimes some foot-dragging in the middle is to be expected. Also, it’s encouraging for me to note that this is the first big, chaptered story that I haven’t abandoned the draft somewhere in the middle. I’m firmly convinced that this newfound endurance — as well as taking the time to build a solid yet flexible outline — is from doing NaNoWriMo for the past few years.

And also this: sometimes the step back we need to take while writing comes in the form of adding an [insert whatever’s missing here] and forging ahead. I haven’t exactly done that (with this current project) but I have written some bits out of order. Having plot point C written made figuring out a point B to connect it to the already written point A easier.

I’ve also come up with solutions at those inopportune times that meant staying up late and throwing off my already weird sleep schedule. Ah, the writer life.

#AtoZChallenge — Quiet

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


19TH APRIL’18 – A TO Z CHALLENGE – LETTER ‘Q’

https://viewsofpreethib.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/19th-april18-a-to-z-challenge-letter-q/
— Read on viewsofpreethib.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/19th-april18-a-to-z-challenge-letter-q/

I am not very good at quiet. When I’m writing, cooking, cleaning the house, doing just about anything, I need something on in the background in order to concentrate. Sometimes it’s music, but more often it’s tv shows like Friends, That 70’s Show, Great British Baking Championship, etc. When I’m in the car I have audiobooks playing, and when I’m out for a walk I put my earbuds in and listen to audiobooks or call my Grandma to chat.

At night, unless I’m really tired, I have a hard time falling asleep because when it’s quiet, my thoughts are very loud.

But one kind of quiet I’m good at is sharing companionable silence with my partner. We’re together pretty much all the time, which, between my current unemployment and my partner’s part time job, really is most of our waking hours. It’s been that way since… we’ll, since a month or two after we met, really, minus the time he spent studying in London. The way we avoid driving each other bonkers is by allowing ourselves to still do our own things a lot of the time, just in each other’s company.

Which is why I also like this Quiet haiku by S. M. Saves.

There are many kinds of quiet, and all of them are important. I do need to get better at the “quiet in nature” and “quiet in my own mind” kinds, but I’ve known that for as long as I’ve been trying to get back into meditating regularly.

What kinds of quiet are you good at?

#AtoZChallenge — Peacock

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.

What did I do today? Well, the first thing I did was skim through

Peacock – Indian National Bird #AtoZchallenge

https://shilpanairy.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/peacock-indian-national-bird-atozchallenge/
— Read on shilpanairy.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/peacock-indian-national-bird-atozchallenge/

The first time I saw a peacock was at some winery in Northern California, where they wandered freely in the area around the tasting room. I was young enough that I couldn’t drink wine but old enough that I was bored.

Peacocks are loud. Alarmingly loud. Very pretty, but I jumped half out of my skin every time they called.

I didn’t know they were the national bird of India. I haven’t done any particular research on peacock symbolism (yet) so this post was really cool to come across.

#AtoZChallenge — Outside

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


What did I do today? Well, the first thing I did was skim through some A to Z posts. Among them were a haiku titled Outdoors and a short article on conservation of our Oceans. The latter urged that, “Oceans have become garbage cans and it needs to be taken care of ASAP. Try and give a day to beach cleaning and you will realize what they are going thru.”

So, my partner and I went out into the great outdoors to visit the Sonoma Coast. It was a beautiful day — sunny and just enough wind to make the sea air feel extra fresh and crisp.

4ocean-bracelet-the-4ocean-bracelet-275460161554_grandeThe beach we visited was actually very clean, so instead I’ll share something I keep seeing ads and sponsored posts about on social media. 4Ocean is one of the groups out there helping clean up our oceans, and to raise money to do so they’re selling bracelets for $20 each. Every bracelet purchased represents the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines.  It looks cute and it’s for a good cause, and the organization has a cool origin story.

And now, please enjoy this slow motion video of the ocean.

Portuguese Beach along Highway 1. #sonomacounty #sonomacoast #sonomacoaststatepark #highway1 #ocean #waves

A post shared by Jean (@cat_in_the_ciderbarrel) on

What’s your favorite outdoor space like?

#AtoZChallenge — Negotiating Normal

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Normal. What the hell is that, anyway?

Stomperdad

I’m not a parent (to the extent that cats don’t count), but I agree wholeheartedly with Stomperdad’s post.

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First new frames (and lenses) in five years! Man I’d gotten used to crappy vision.

What the hell is normal?

When I was a kid spending weekdays at my maternal grandparents’ house, except for Wednesdays at my paternal grandparents’ house, was normal. By seventh grade, wearing glasses full time was normal. In college, queer relationships and me actually dating became normal. When I met my partner, dogs became normal, and when we got our first kitten together, cats became normal. Until the end of last year, exhaustion and existential misery was normal, but then I quit my job and now writing every day and feeling both healthier and happier has taken its place.

Part of growing up — which I am in no way done with, even though I’m turning thirty in a couple weeks — is trying to figure out what your personal normal is, and finding your equilibrium within it.

Our lives include one negotiation after another. When we negotiate, we are attempting to obtain or bring about some end by way of discussion or other means, including non-verbal communication.

Fandango

Anxiety is also normal for me. It has been since… I don’t know, probably second grade, at least, but I didn’t realize or acknowledge it until college when I was so apathetic and sad about nothing particularly specific that I made an appointment with one of the school therapists. After several sessions, she suggested I consider anti-anxiety medication and gave me a referral to a therapist, which I never did anything about because I have anxiety about swallowing pills.

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Cats in the washing machine is not normal. Remove all cats prior to starting a wash.

The year after that, I started getting sinus headaches in the fall and spring, so bad that swallowing Advil one half at a time became normal. (That primed me for trying anti-anxiety meds later in life. At this point, I’ve worked my way up to actually swallowing pills whole. … Most of the time.)

 

It wasn’t until after college and after meeting my current partner that I went back into therapy and started questioning my normal. Asking myself, why do I think this way? And, Do I have to keep doing this?

I wish I had the kind of parents who had been able to see this in me and help me with it when I was younger. They’re good parents, and I love them, but they’re computer engineers and just not super emotional people — that’s part of why examining my feelings and what they came from didn’t come naturally.

Normal changes, that’s why no one knows really knows what it is. And Fandango is right, we negotiate our way through it daily. With our environment, with other people, even with ourselves.

What’s your normal like?

#AtoZChallenge — Mindful Eating

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


2017-12-12 18.54.37
Freshly made pasta is AMAZING. (This photo was taken before I started the keto diet, heh.)

Mindful eating is the practice of cultivating an open-minded awareness of how the food we choose to eat affects one’s body, feelings, mind, and all that is around us.

(source)

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t exactly encourage mindful eating. Eating was something I would always do at great speed, to the point where I would get scolded for rushing through dinner. I just didn’t want to sit at the dinner table any longer than I had to. It was all “What did you do today,” which I always found mind numbingly boring because it didn’t seem like actually talking so much as just going over itineraries.

I’ve also realized, upon reflection, that meals growing up were always very portion controlled and… kind of like being on a diet without anyone ever really needing to or saying the word diet. My dad likes to cook, and when I went off to college I didn’t realize that chicken stock and similar things could actually be bought in stores rather than made at home. Homemade stock, homemade tomato sauce, and homemade burgers cooked in the oven on little racks so all the fat (and moisture, and flavor) dripped out. Desserts were for special occasions, or if we had extra pears that my dad felt like poaching and making a simple syrup for, or sometimes just raspberries from the backyard with a little sugar and cream. If we had garlic bread, there were exactly four servings of garlic bread and no extras.

There was always one protein, one starch, and one vegetable, all of which were mandatory. Concessions were made for my dislike of certain vegetables, so I was never dragged kicking and screaming into eating a salad but I did choke down my fair share of broccoli. And if I took a really big scoop of mashed potatoes, or of rice, or of pasta, I often got a brief reminder not to eat too much starchy, bready things because then I might get fat.

When I savored food, it was in the somewhat rare evenings where we went out, or when I was at my Grandma’s house. Even then, I didn’t think too much of it.

Living in Sonoma County has changed my relationship with food entirely. Most of the restaurants around here have farm-to-table leanings, so everything is fresh and vivid and delicately nuanced with flavor. It’s that moment when you close your eyes and eat slowly, so slowly that in some moments you don’t even necessarily chew because you’re too distracted by just tasting, experiencing the moment.

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Chocolate Avocado Parfaits, with fresh raspberries and Pamela’s gf graham crackers crumbled up.

Kristen talks in her Healthy Eating Blog ‘Eating The Moment‘ post about how “eating often leaves us with feelings of guilt. We don’t listen to our bodies, but give in to our minds that are tricking us into thinking we’re hungry.” I remember experiencing that. But the more I take the time to savor my food, the less guilt I feel.

Also, now that I’m on the keto diet I pay a lot more attention to what I eat and experiment more with healthy recipes that I can make in our new slow-cooker, and that’s a whole new world of appreciation too. I even borrowed a book from the library (volunteer shelving leads to finding some interesting gems, let me tell you) full of low-sugar baking recipes and tips for using less processed sugar. I’ve made chocolate avocado parfaits, low sugar pumpkin cupcakes with honey-cream cheese frosting, dark chocolate coconut cups… Healthy desserts! And they were delicious.

I haven’t read the book that Kristen’s post is talking about, but I’m all for mindful eating. What about you? What kind of eating habits were you raised with, and how have they changed over time?

#AtoZChallenge — Ladybugs 🐞

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Today, while reading this post on Ramblings of a Writer, I realized it’s been a long time since I saw a ladybug. But the last times I remember were very memorable.

From 2010 to 2012, I had a job with a very small kale chip company. Working out of the smaller half a commercial kitchen small. I did all the shopping and made all the recipes small. The stuff was mostly sold at farmers markets small. Every day I came with my iPod loaded with audiobooks and spent the day planning, blending, mixing, dishwashing, and avoiding being the person to dress the kale with sauces if at all possible, because some of them kinda made my arms break out.

The kale was organic, so you know what that means: no chemicals or pesticides to keep the bugs off. Most of the time that wasn’t a problem, but every now and then there would be ladybugs. We washed the kale before dressing it, and usually found them then, but not always.

Sometimes my assistant (who made more than me, but whatever) would be dressing the kale and suddenly notice a ladybug crawling up her arm to escape. I’d come get it and take the little guy outside to fly free.

But once, the boss came in with a container of kale chips that someone had returned because the customer had found a ladybug that had been dehydrated with the leaves, poor thing.

Maybe that’s where they’ve all disappeared to…

#AtoZChallenge — Katharine Hepburn

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


katharine-hepburn-on-marriage
(source)

As a mostly-lesbian, my first instinct is to wholeheartedly agree with this quote. At the same time my partner is, at heart and gradually more and more in body, a dude. (Fun story: This is also not the first time I’ve had feelings for someone who later ended up transitioning or being genderqueer.) And although I tease him quite often about how boys are gross and stinky and please for the love of god stop biting your nails and leaving the resulting bits in my car, I am totally okay with that.

I suppose it helps with the “boys are gross” thing that he’s an OCD and a neat freak. (These are distinctly different things: one is a wired-in brain compulsion that often leads to frustration, vicious self-reproach, and tears; the other is more like this…)

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 2.06.22 PM
(source)

Here’s the thing about men and women… they’re often raised differently, and the respective upbringings don’t always include a detailed understanding of the other. 

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
~ MLK (source)
(I did take this quote out of context from the post I found it in, but I feel it can be applied to gender inequality as much as it can to racial inequality.)

Living with a trans man is different. If I have cramps or period-related back pains or ridiculously sensitive nipples, I get sympathy born of genuine understanding. He never leaves the seat up, or drips pee on the floor. (I’ve never dated a cis guy, but I’ve lived with them and so has he.) There are probably other stereotypes I’m forgetting that equally do not apply, but I can’t think of them at the moment.

Really, the biggest stumbling block we’ve had in the relationship is the OCD. On basically all other fronts, we coexist quite suitably together. So I’m not sure if I do agree with that quote after all.