Therapy – Exercise creativity through medium other than writing
Chosen therapy – Cook dinner
Find ingredients in the house, use creatively.
In freezer find main ingredient – Wild boar ravioli (plin) – bought at farmer’s market too long ago to remember (< six months ago).
Garden – find fresh herbs, oregano, thyme and rosemary.
Pantry – find two cans of chopped tomatoes
Kitchen counter – find head of garlic and onion
Proceed to chop ingredients
Sweat onions and garlic
Add rest of ingredients
Add salt, and pepper then stir, simmer for magical amount of time.
Use immersion blender to create saucy sauce.
Boil frozen plin, then plate. Garnish with sprig of rosemary and slice of olive bread.
Note: The Chuckanut Writers Conference was an amazing experience. The faculty list was A plus list. I’m so happy to live in such a creatively rich place like the Pacific NW. Cheers! (With a bottle of Woodward Canyon 2013 Dolcetto)
Have you ever thought about what era your life is in or was in?
I was asked to consider this in a memoir writing class I am taking this quarter. The instructor promised this would lead us to a story or two even… There was one caveat, the era had to be linked with an obsession.
Beginning when I was about 13 years old, I was obsessed with moving to California from my hometown of Chicago. I wanted to go to high school there, I wanted to go to college then graduate school there, I wanted to live there more than anywhere else in the world. Why?
Was it the salty ocean air while walking along Ocean beach? The fog rolling over Twin Peaks bringing cool ocean air inland, on a hot summer afternoon? Was it the sour dough bread? Or was it the cable cars? The natural and man-made beauty that makes San Francisco so special makes everyone fall in love with her, but there was more.
I was attached to my grandmother. She moved to San Francisco, from Chicago, when I was 8 or 9. She was the woman I aspired to be. Beautiful, confident, fiercely independent and unassumingly intelligent.
She was also an amazing cook. On one visit, she taught me how to shop for ingredients at different stores in her neighborhood of the Mission district. We would walk to the produce market on the corner of Mission and 24th, selecting not too soft avocados and fresh green cilantro for her famous guacamole. We would stop at the butcher that was within a mall off of Mission between 21st and 22nd, to buy a quartered chicken for her famous arroz con pollo. And on special occasions she would buy freshly made ravioli from the Italian market, on 22nd and Valencia, only a block from her apartment, and cook them up with a sauce she would make from scratch with fresh Roma tomatoes, oregano, rosemary and other fresh herbs. I had never experienced a culinary world like that in Chicago. Shopping was at a grocery store and dinner was made from ingredients that were from a can or a box.
Life in San Francisco was a rainbow of colors and smells that I had not found in Chicago. My entire being glowed when I was in San Francisco, only to fizzle when I went back to Chicago.
The era of obsessing over moving to California lasted almost 10 years. To an adult 10 years may not sound like a long time. So let me put it into the perspective of a teenager.
It was FOREVER!
I graduated from elementary school, high school and college before I finally moved to San Francisco.
And this is where my instructors directions became unclear. I didn’t know what to do with the eras within this larger era or my obsessions within the bigger obsession. Obsessions don’t happen consecutively in my life.
There was the era of obsessing over the older brother of one of my classmates. For two years I suffered with a major infatuation for a tall, olive skinned, guy with black curly hair and eyes that were blue like the Caribbean sea. By the time he noticed me, I was on to my next obsession. I was obsessed with bicycle riding along lake Michigan from the north side of the city, where I lived, south 12 miles to Soldier’s Field or north 6 miles to Baha’i temple in the northern suburb of Wilmette. I was obsessed with the 1985 Bears! “Da Bears!” I was obsessed with becoming a Marine Biologist, and so on, and so on…
My instructor had us think of a scene at the beginning, middle and end of the era. She said, that is the backbone of a story.
A story?! Easier said than done!
I must have a gazillion stories I can tell. But that is a good thing. And I hope you can find them in yours too.
For now, I have some work to do… I need to sift through all of those obsessions, within those eras, or those eras within those obsessions and tease out focused stories.
On Monday I decided I was going to do something different in my life.
It began when I wanted to add a cover image to my LinkedIn account. I know, nothing big, especially because I’m not sure what the value of my LinkedIn account is, and I’m pretty sure no one in my “network” cares about the cover image on my LinkedIn page, at least, not as much as my FB friends would care if I changed the cover photo on my FB page.
It was the process of finding the image that mattered. Into my disorganized iPhoto library I went, to look for one of my favorite photos from a trip I took to Scotland in 2013. I scrolled through hundreds of photos. Some I wondered why I hadn’t deleted. Others, I wondered why I hadn’t printed and framed. Then came the photos of people, of me and my partner, in particular.
“We looked thinner back then.” he said, while sitting on our sagging couch, a few feet in front of the HDTV, cable box, and Blu-ray player, remotes splayed across the scene, as he looked through the pictures on my laptop with me.
He was right. I saw it too. The milliseconds the images were up on the screen was enough time for our brains to pick up on the fewer inches of pudge that wrapped his mid-section or my back-section “only a year ago.”
The last year was fraught with so many – I need to work out more’s and I need to drink less beer’s – that it sounded like a broken record. Obviously, we were eating, sitting, drinking and wishing, more than we were sweating, walking, standing or doing.
So I went to the gym on Monday morning and sweat. I was sore on Tuesday, but I went to the gym again. I stayed away from those tantalizing carbs. I didn’t stop at Grateful Bread – whose current scone is the best in Seattle. I didn’t “celebrate” my second day at the gym. On Wednesday, I was feeling good, so when I went out to lunch I had a lovely cup of white bean and pesto soup with a think slice of homemade bread and shared a little pizza with my partner at Element in the UVillage. Simple, small, healthy but loaded with carbs. The rest of the day I felt bloated . “Damn I think I do have gluten intolerance,” I thought after feeling massive in a pair of jeans I squeezed into the next day. Those jeans that were a little big “only a year ago.”
Was it all the traveling I did? My dad’s death? The “too hot” summer in Seattle? The amazing IPAs of the Pacific NW that I just can’t seem to stop drinking, especially during the “too hot” summer in Seattle?
Why did I gain weight?
I got lazy. My mind was not aware of my growing girth. My mind was too preoccupied with the stress of life. I failed at balancing recreation and work. I failed at balancing being active with being sedentary.
When my mind finally recognized that the girth of my ass had grown, I played a game with myself. Telling myself – “It’s not that bad.” or “I can work that off in no time.” Was I buying me some time? Or killing me softly, slowly?
I am going to the gym, I am starting to be conscious of what I am eating and drinking. I have a birthday coming up and I will not be “one year younger.” I’m challenging the status quo – I’m challenging the way things are or have been. I’m challenging the sloth within.
What are your challenges with status quo? What are your plans of action to defeat it? No plans? That’s okay, sometimes we just have to “do it,” to “act differently than usual,” to create the change we all so desperately want to achieve.