Oh June…

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Already we are down to the last hours of you, June. You’ve been a month filled with plenty of good moments, you’ve been a busy one!

Summer is now underway, as the 80+ degrees weather and blazing sun serve to prove. Graduations, a wedding, new friends, dancing, readings, you’ve brought them all!

Today, the last day of June, was spent volunteering at the Race for the Animals in Mt. Tabor park. Before it was 8:00, I’d already hiked quite a bit to get to the location on the course where I served to direct runners and also cheer them on. As I stood there, smiling and pointing up the course, I witness lots of ways in which people run. Some sprint, some gallop, some run like their on slow-mo, some keep their elbows in close to their bodies, some pump their arms as if this the engine that propels them forward and some flail about. Some runners ignored me, which for me to not see them in their panty, sweaty way perhaps; some would smile; some would say hi and others would thank me for volunteering. It was a great way to end June. In order to best greet the new month of July, it’s best to rest up from the busy day!

I hope you all had a great month and are looking forward to this new month!

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Worrywort Conversation

A daily prompt I read on the The Daily at WordPress.com inspired me to write this little fun piece, which is a conversation to a trait in yourself that you’d like to see go. Try it out! It’s a fun exercise in writing and venting.

Hey you! Yes you… the worrywart-in-me, we need to talk. Listen, we’ve been together for a long long time. I won’t deny that at first you did make me more cautious and pay closer attention to detail to avoid humiliating mistakes, but it’s gotten to be too much. I feel that your hot breath is on my neck all the time as you hover over me, making me question the more ridiculous decisions I make. I know, I know. I’m the one that invited you to move in, even giving you a chest in my chest of drawers and letting you sleep on the couch. But to be fair, you said this was only temporary. You said you were looking in the classifieds for another place, maybe even get a job! Instead you simply got more comfortable with me, eventually slipping into my bed in the middle of the night, making it too hot and my nights became restless. You started coming with me on errand runs, to my work, to my school, even to my dance classes. Always you were always there, in those black skinny jeans, black turtleneck, dark tinted sunglasses and black beret. Ah ah ah, please don’t try to interrupt me, I’m getting down to the point here, which is that you need to go. There’s no more room for you in my life. No, I’m not giving you a second chance. Let me lead you to the door, oh no need to worry about giving me your keys, I’ve changed the locks. Ok, off you go, best of luck, have a nice life, I won’t miss you, see you never, goodbye!

Wisdom of the Tree

In my backyard there is a medium-sized tree; in the spring this tree blossoms with beautiful, soft white flowers. My not sure what type of tree this is, but I decided that I would sit down with this tree on a humid, cloudy and stormy looking Saturday and ask this tree for guidance on a personal issue. The gentle tree was kind enough to give me guidance in the form of a story.

The tree was once nothing but a seed, small and vulnerable, but determined to one day be a wise tree. It waited and gathered strength in the dark, damp dirt. It waited for the right time and temperature and gathered nutrients from the Earth. When it was ready, a tiny sprout broke through the shell of the seed and reached towards the Earth’s surface, ready to be exposed to the fresh and open air. As the sprout reached skyward, its roots dug deeper into the Earth, spreading until they got a firm foundation set for its growth as a tree.

At any point in its growth and life it could be ravished by a disease or natural disaster, or suffer from malnutrition and drought. The tree knew what its path in life was and knew that it would need to be strong against the natural fluctuations in climate and temperature, in food availability and the actions imposed on it by humans. The tree is now firm in the ground, many days and nights later; its knows how to survive each season and it continues living, each year giving birth to beautiful flowers and serving as a sanctuary for the birds of the area. It stands witness to our daily lives, allows us to put bird feeders in its branches and gives us shade from the blistering summer sun. It waits to tell its story and in return for listening, it gives me guidance.

Listen. The tree told that I have gotten past the seedling stage and that I am now on my way to becoming a wise tree, but I have allowed the negative influence of the outside world to stunt me on my path. I am no longer growing and it’s even worse than simply not growing; I’m retreating into a dark and cavernous place where no light can reach me. It is as if I am in a drought crisis and the sun no longer shines which means that I am not getting what I need to do life’s basic functions. If I stay in this no-good place I will eventually not be able to survive and will become like a withered and dead tree. The flowers that once blossomed; the good thoughts and goals and positives outlooks on life can once again be brought back to life. How? How can I do this, I ask the tree. For a moment, there is silence from the tree as I wait for my response. I feel the breeze on my skin; hear the birds chirping and the wind rustling the tree’s branches, I can even smell a nearby neighbor grilling some meat. I close my eyes and concentrate.

The answer is inside of me, in my strength. At finding this out, I’m slightly taken aback. It would seem that I have no strength and that I am weak for falling so far from my healthy state and falling prey to the negative. I have no strength, I say. I am scared. The tree reminds me that I was just like a seedling once. I had the strength to make it through the initiations that I have encountered to make it to where I am today. I have veered off my path; this is not uncommon, I am only human but I can find my way again. I must face was is plaguing me and let it know that I may be afraid, but I am gathering strength from my foundation (my family and friends) to combat its power over me.

The tree’s branches are full of little chirping birds now. So full of life, and I realize that I want to be full of life so badly. I can’t let myself continue to slip away; I need to continue growing as a person. The last thing the tree gives to me is courage; it lets me know that I can do it and that nothing is standing in my way of getting better but my own self. You can do it, the tree tells me. I can do it, I repeat. I can do it.

 

 

 

Counting Cars

The humidity in the air was thick and heavy like an uncomfortable sweater forced upon me. I opened all the windows to my car; the air conditioning had long ago stopped working.

            “I hate traffic”, I grumbled to myself. Five minutes later, I was still in the exact same spot, not an inch had been advanced. “Stupid people… can’t drive their stupid little cars.” An accident up ahead had caused this traffic jam.  

For the trillionth time I fantasized inventing a car that can also fly so that in moments such as these I could just zoom over everyone which would obviously lead me to becoming famous and a millionaire and I wouldn’t have to work at my boring, soul-sucking job ever again. Ever. Again. Bored, I started counting all the red cars I could see to get my mind distracted.

            “1…2…3…4…oh, hello there.” Two cars behind mine and one lane over to the right, I see an example of male perfection, sitting in a red convertible. He was wearing black sunglasses, his slightly mussed up hair shone in the sun, adding to his good looks. I kept looking at him through my rearview mirror, completely forgetting my little counting game.

            “Don’t you just hate traffic?,” I ask him although there is zero possibility he could hear me or see me. “Me too. Oh, you like my dress? Well, aren’t you sweet! Do I have any plans for tonight? Hmm, let me think… no, I don’t actually, unless you count zoning out in front of the TV watching bad reality shows while eating my weight in ice cream.” I shrug playfully and toss my hair over my shoulder flirtaciously. “Why yes! I’d love to go out to dinner with you instead. Chinese? That’s my favorite! What’s that? You think I’m kind of gorgeous? Please, you’re making me blush,” I giggle.

            Traffic inches forward a bit. I look back at the guy in the convertible; he looks down and reaches for something in the glove compartment. A few seconds later he puts a cigarette to his lips and lights up. “Ugh.” Gross.

            “You what, guy, I’m sorry. I can’t go to dinner with you. You’ll eventually get yellow teeth from smoking and I don’t do well with smoke, asthma, what can you do, you know? Sorry. No, really. It’s not you, it’s me. Please don’t beg, you’re making this so much harder for me. Goodbye… forever,” I say with a sigh, doing my best sad face. Then I burst out laughing, this is so fun. I glance to my left side and an old man in the car beside mine is staring at me, probably having noticed my little conversation with myself. I smile at him, embarrassed. My cheeks feel hotter.

            “I was… um, practicing my lines for a play I’m in,” I explain, although his window was rolled up so he couldn’t hear me. He looked away before I did and shook his head.

            “Embarrassing.” I’ll just count blue cars this time, I think. “1…2…3….”

I Fall In Love

It happens nearly every day, several times if it’s a particularly good day. I fall in love.

The smell of wet grass, sunshine on my skin, the soft breeze coming in through my open window, the light of the moon shining through the blinds, I fall in love.

Perfectly ripe bananas and crisp green apples, unconditional pet affection, the gentleman character in a novel (…Mr. Darcy…), summer warmth, Josh Duhamel saying Basmati rice is the king of rice, foreign accents, I fall in love.

The song on the radio, the one that seems to understand me, expressing all that I can’t say, so similar to my own experience it takes my breath away and I am mesmerized, as if the singer had peeked into my dreams as I lay asleep. “Open up your mind and let me step inside” says Freddie Mercury, why is that so hard to do sometimes? Falling in love is the act of opening up, exposing bits and pieces shrouded in darkness, jumping from an airplane and praying your parachute will open and softly you’ll land onto a clear and open field where The One will be waiting, arms open wide to catch you, letting you step inside. Safe. Warm.

I fall in love.

Pupusas!

When I was in California a few years ago, my aunt had made some pupusas at my grandma’s house and they were really tasty. In some Hispanic markets in California, you can buy freshly made pupusas to enjoy for lunch or dinner. Somehow, I recently got it into my head to attempt to make them with the help of my mom. Before I delved into my pupusa making experience I watched a few youtube videos to get an idea of how they are assembled. The woman that I watched make them was making pupusas at top notch speed and humbly said she makes 300 to 400 of them per day. Feeling pretty confident, my mom and I started assembling them and then my mom started cooking them on a griddle while I continued making them. Some would crack and the filling would come out, some were made too thin, some came close to perfect, some were really moist and some were bordering on dry and by the time we finished we’d make about 24 of them and I was pupusa’d out! Not so easy to make, I greatly admire that pupusa lady that makes hundreds per day. Although they took some work to make, they turned out pretty tasty; my family and I enjoyed the fruits of my mom and my labor. When you make these pupasas make sure to elicit the help of a few friends and family members and then they can help you eat them! Munch!

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 diced onion

salt, pepper and spices to taste

5 cups masa harina (corn flour)

5 cups water

1/2 pound of mozzarella cheese

Directions:

In a nonstick skillet cook the onions until soft. Add the beef, salt, pepper and spices. Cook until browned and well done. Transfer the meat into a bowl and allow to cool slightly. While it’s cooking, place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add water slowly until a stiff, yet moist dough is formed. Take a small chunk of dough, about the size of a golf ball and with your hands, flatten the dough ball into a slightly thick tortilla-like disk. Put about a tablespoon of meat and a teaspoon of cheese into the middle of the tortilla. Then fold the dough over the filling until completely enclosed, flattening into into a disk. You might need to slightly wet your hand to smooth over a cracks in the dough. In a very hot griddle, cook the pupusas on each side until golden brown.

Serve hot! Enjoy with pickled red onion on top or any sauce you might like. Hmm!

I am the Smartypants Chick and I am…

… iPhone addicted. Or used to be, sort-of am still sometimes. It’s the sad truth. I go on Facebook, I check my e-mail, I text people, I instagram stuff, I play Words with Friends (oh so fun!) I check the time, I set alarms, I get directions, gah! I do everything on my iPhone. I admit, this technology is very helpful and it’s hard to believe that I used to have to print out maps (so antiquated!) instead of having Siri just tell me what to do. But I started to notice this obsessive behavior in myself. If I was bored, I’d use my phone. If I was standing in line, I’d use my phone. If I had a few minutes of free-time, I’d use my phone. You see the trend here. It was starting to become such a big part of my daily life and it made me feel guilty. Instead of going up to talk to someone, or fully concentrate on a movie, or read, I would go on my phone. Not ok. In the past, I have forgotten my phone at home and I’ve gone the entire work day without. Without my phone I felt that something essential to my being was missing. I relied on my phone way  too much. In my technology class last term, we spoke about how cellphone and especially smartphone technology has made it so that some professionals have extended their work days because they take their work home with them, by checking their email or answering work related calls for example. It really opened my eyes when a person in our class stated that we all still have a choice. We can choose not to answer and let it go to voicemail. Right? Right. But so many of us don’t. I for one like to respond to texts as soon as I get them, even if it’s some stupid thing. So, for this past week or so I been very strict with myself and not allowing myself to use my phone at all during work until it’s during my designated breaks or lunch time. At times, I find that I’m automatically reaching for my phone for no reason whatsoever. I catch myself and pull away. And when break time rolls around, there nothing super important that I’ve missed like the earth is ending later that day, in which case it really wouldn’t matter if you kick your iPhone addiction/obsession to the curb. Going into my second week of Mission: No iPhone Obsession Or Else… ha! I hope that if you realize a reliance/ obsession/ addiction to the iPhone or any smartphone or other technologies you’ll be able to take steps to pull yourself away from it, no matter how hard the separation. Best of luck to me and to you!

Memory Box

A layer of dust covered the brown paisley box, tucked into the top shelf of the storage closet beneath the stairs. The boy dragged the stool from the kitchen and hoisted himself up, pulled out of the box, heavy with memories saved for a lonesome day. He waddled to his room and dropped the box to the floor with a thud, closing the door behind him even though the house was empty. Turning on the lamp on his desk, he plopped on the ground and removed the lid, tossing it to the side. He pulled out a picture at random. His baby brother, mouth wide open in delight, eyes squinted looking at the camera, head tilted slightly to the left, small body raised in the air, safely held by his dad , the boy’s mom’s boyfriend. He placed the picture to the side, picking out another one. The boy and his brother, sitting a blue blanket at the park, looking away from the camera, he couldn’t remember at what. Another: a close-up picture of his brother, hazel-green eyes looking through the picture straight at him, mouth and cheeks smeared with tomato sauce, a small piece of noodle hanging out his dimpled chin.

He could hear his grandma in his mind, “À quien se parece, mihija?” Who does he look like?

            His mom and grandma would do an inventory of his features: ears, eyes, nose, mouth, moles and designate whom he inherited it from. The baby’s dad would stand by and smile, hearing the women speak; he was always at the ready with the camera, taking pictures that the boy didn’t think were particularly good ones like the baby bawling, red and puffy and angry. The boy did not care for those conversations and would generally leave the room. Why did his brother have to have someone else’s nose or eyes? Couldn’t they just be his own? They never spoke about the boy’s features in that way. His father was never spoken about, as if the boy was born out of air and sadness. It made his little head hurt and he’d dig his fingernails into his tan palms as he clenched his fists to focus on something else. If he looked through every picture, he wouldn’t find a single one of him as baby, he did not have a father hovering and ready to capture every smile, every trip and every step.

The front door squeaked open, keys jingled and clattered on the table, clicking and clacking of high heels on the wooden floor and a squeal of a happy baby.

“Honey?”

His bedroom door swung open and his mom looked down at him, at the box, at the picture in his hand, back to him.

“Que haces, honey? What are you doing with pictures?”

“Ma, who do I look like?”

She straightened and pulled her head back, not expecting this question. The boy looked at her and then back at the picture. His mom knelt beside him then, putting her hand beneath his soft chin and turning his face towards hers.

“You are not like anyone else. You are a unique young man, special. Different.”

She smiled and kissed his forehead. The boy looked at her, serious. She smoothed his hair back.

“Te quiero, I hope you know that. Ven.”

He tucked the picture back in the box, pushing it beneath his bed and she took his hand. They went for a walk in the park and he played on the swings and forgot about eyes and ears and who looked like whom and he smiled, his front teeth gapped like his mom’s. The box remained in the darkness beneath his bed, gathering dust until the memories call again.

 

Sweet Banana Cake

IMG_5622Last weekend was my little pups birthday, she’s now 8 years old! Man, how time flies. She’s been with me through my high school years, my college years, through the terrible sad times and wonderfully happy times. I wanted to make a special treat for her that would be easy on her tummy and something that us humans could enjoy as well. I was happy to find a recipe for a banana cake with a minimum amount of ingredients on The Detoxinista blog, this is a recipe adapted from that recipe. It was quick to make, easy and let’s just say the birthday girl enjoyed each bite of her piece thoroughly! Hmm hmm good!

Ingredients:

4 bananas, very ripe, mashed

3 eggs, beaten

6 tablespoons peanut butter

dash of cinnamon

dash of salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 cup sugar, optional

Directions:

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together until well blended. Grease a microwave safe glass baking pan, or you can divide into microwave safe mugs. Zap in the microwave for about 6 minutes for one loaf, about 1.5 minutes if doing individual servings, making sure to keep an eye on it while it cooks. Each microwave is different and the cooking time may vary. Remove from microwave and allow to cook for a minute or two. Now, it’s ready to eat! May you and your doggy friends enjoy this one!