June 24th – “Have you been curious about what an ex has been up to? Get back in touch today.”

NO, I have not been curious about what an ex is up to. No, I do not want to get back in touch. NO THANK YOU!

Some days, my horoscope is a complete miss. I can think of a million other things I could do than get back in touch with an ex.

Instead, I worked on my novel,

gardened,

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waited in line at the dollar store behind a 7 week old husky German shepherd mix who looked just as cute as this puppy,

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and read a book.

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It’s amazing what one can achieve when one doesn’t contact an ex. 

April 23nd – “Music, art, bold patterns and accessories—adorn your life with whatever makes you feel most joyful.”

 

I started the day off with a big serving of waffles. I made regular ones for my partner and had oat flour ones for myself.

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It’s excellent topped with Greek yogurt, berries, and maple syrup. I actually like it better than whipped cream!

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I like to eat mine like a sandwich.

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Oatmeal Waffles

¾ cup oat flour

1/ teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

3/8 cup soymilk

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup

A few dashes of cinnamon

 

Toppings: Greek yogurt, berries, real maple syrup

 

Directions:

  1. Throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together.
  2. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Cook in waffle iron.
  4. Top with Greek yogurt, berries, and maple syrup. This recipe makes about 1.5 waffle or 2 small ones. Perfect for 1 person. They’re softer than normal waffles, but has more flavor.

Here is the original recipe.

 

After breakfast, I did some reading. I finished The Haunting of the Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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and started on a collection of short stories by John Steinbeck.

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The two writers could not be more different. Jackson is obsessed with giant mansions and socially inept women who live in a world all their own (aka crazy women). Steinbeck is interested in the lives of ordinary folk (aka working class) who don’t live in big houses.

However, based on the two books I read, Jackson and Steinbeck do have some things in common. They are both great at creating vivid pictures of their characters and there is a strong element of violence that invades their stories.  In The Haunting of the Hill House, the story ends with the main character killing herself by purposefully driving her car into a tree. In 3 of the 4 short stories I’ve read by Steinbeck, one man falls to his death, a white quail is accidentally killed, and a scientist murders a cat and dissects its body.

After the cat story, I put the book down. Morbid or terrifying stories like these don’t bother me if they are written well. I enjoyed reading both writers, but I had enough time inside and wanted to get out into the sun!

In the afternoon, I went to the farmer’s market and bought more vegetable starts for the garden. I planted the starts and harvested rhubarb.

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They’re a bit thinner and longer this year, so I’ll need to split the plants up this fall to replant. When rhubarb plants have enough space to grow, their stalks grow thick. Tomorrow, I’ll use these rhubarb stalks to make mini pies! Stay tuned!

 

April 17th – “Nothing frightens you right now, that’s why the next few days present a great time to start on an intimidating project.”

As a child, I had nightmares every night. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal until I was in my teens. Most of my friends rarely had nightmares, and when they did, it didn’t involve people chasing them with knives trying to kill them. One of the reasons for the repeated horror scenes I saw in my dreams were all the slasher films I watched in the 80s. Nightmare on Elm Street films were my favorite and Child’s Play movies are a close second. Who doesn’t love an evil doll?! There was no censorship at my home. I never understood why the kids in my first grade class thought The Wizard of Oz was scary.

I had nightmares so often that I became conscious my dreams when I was in them. I didn’t like the nightmares, so I trained myself to stop them. The easiest thing to do was to close my eyes in my dream. When I opened them again, the scenes disappeared or changed into something else. When I got better at this, I was able to make myself wake up.

I no longer have nightmares on a regular basis. It’s usually triggered because I’m sick or when my energy is low. That’s when I know that it’s time to slow down and take better care of myself.

When I do have nightmares, it rarely involves anyone chasing me up and down the hills of San Francisco trying to stab me in the stomach with a giant machete. In high school, nightmares involved unfinished essay assignments or having to take math tests I didn’t study for. In my 20s, I had work nightmares where I was making a million mistakes and customers were yelling at me. Nowadays, I have nightmares about people I don’t like (i.e. family members, ex-lovers/friends). I no longer try to manipulate these dreams and let them play out. These nightmares are more annoying than scary. I can deal with annoying.

If my nightmares don’t scare me, what’s there to be afraid of?!

I haven’t thought about nightmares in a long time, and it’s probably in my consciousness today because of a book I just read. My friend gave me an American horror story by Shirley Jackson called We Have Always Lived in a Castle. Since I’m such an expert on nightmares, perhaps I should try writing horror!

February 20th – “You need to keep moving forward.”

No kidding! I’ve been preoccupied with allergies, trip planning, and wrapping up loose ends so much so that I’ve let my reading and writing fall to the wayside. Noooo!

I need to keep moving forward, so I picked up a book to read. I had to return all my history books and more serious stuff because I renewed them too many times! That’s what I get for not reading them for the three months I had them.  A friend gifted me this book months ago and I’ve been saving it for a day like today. It’s short, takes very little effort to read, and doesn’t have too much plot for me to pay attention to.

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The Guest Cat comes from Japan and is about a writer in his mid-thirties who begins a relationship with a neighborhood cat. I think it’s part fiction part autobiography. I’m only a few chapters in and it’s an easy read.

What catches my attention is the author’s heavy use of descriptions in a nonlinear way. It’s something that I do and have been trying to change. I’m not sure that many readers will be able to follow my writing if I go back and forth to add layers of context and tell stories within stories. Every chapter I’ve written has been like that! When I tell a story, I leave out many details along the way and get back to them later. That’s what makes me a terrible storyteller in person. In writing, I can edit, rearrange, and add more details, but it doesn’t work so well if I have to do it live. I’ve confused a lot of people in my time!

But maybe I shouldn’t try to accommodate all types of readers. It would be a miracle if I could even get one person to read my work! It’s silly that I imagine that there will be a group of people.  The Guest Cat is a New York Times best seller so there were a lot of people who could follow nonlinear storytelling. Perhaps my storytelling style just needs a little tweaking, good editing, and some cats.

January 21st – “Doing your homework will be critical.”

History doesn’t have to be boring. As a kid, I was tricked into thinking that history was about names and dates of things I didn’t care about. The people in the textbooks didn’t look like me and I couldn’t relate.

Now that I have access to so much more information, there’s really no excuse for my lack of interest in learning more about history! I have a few San Francisco-based writing projects, so my homework is to read about the city’s history.

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Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture offers a diverse range of articles including chapters on Filipino history, urban development, the Beat Generation, and suicide (the Golden Gate Bridge’s less popular history). This book is an excellent read for anyone who wants a nuanced understanding of San Francisco. There’s nothing boring about it at all! Even the chapter about the “unremarkable” Chinese Revolutionary Artists’ Club during the 1920s is fascinating and humorous. While the club didn’t garner national attention or even much local attention at that time, history is rich with forgotten people, places, and stories like these. “Unremarkable” stories can be just as important as what’s written in the textbooks.

It is no surprise that Reclaiming San Francisco is published by City Lights. City Lights is an independent bookstore in San Francisco which was founded in the 1950s and known for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s controversial poems. I’ve frequented City Lights on many occasions, and sadly, it’s the last bookstore standing in the neighborhood.

As kitschy as San Francisco can be at times, many tourists do come to the city because of its history of counterculture, activism, and arts. It may not be apparent to city dwellers who are busy at their nine to five’s, but people come from afar because they believe that the spirit is still there. I’ve heard countless stories from people who lived in the city decades ago and are drawn to return because it was and is a place of great meaning for them. Perhaps that San Franciscan counterculture spirit is somewhere next to the Twitter office on Market and Ninth, or on Brannon Street by Airbnb. It might be hard to spot with the city’s ever changing landscape, but I do think that spirit is still there. It’s just waiting for the right moment for its voice to be heard again.

December 8th – “The work of your hands will take center stage today.”

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A friend lent me her copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, so I spent the last 24 hours using my hands to tidy up my house.

Having a clean and organized environment is super important because it helps me be more productive and calm. When I start a new project, I like to take time to clean and rearrange my space to suit the particularly assignment at hand. Every project deserves its own environment for creativity to flow.

Don’t get me wrong, my work space doesn’t stay cleaned the entire time. In fact, it progressively gets messier as I get into what I’m doing. That’s okay! It’s actually good because it means that I’m really focused and not distracted anymore! Hooray!

I’m starting a new writing project, so it’s the perfect time to put my hands to work by cleaning.

The tip I followed from Kondo’s book was to clean and organize by category, not by room. This makes sense because it’s faster to do one type of chore, rather than switch gears by doing a variety of chores. For example, cleaning the kitchen entails: washing dishes, mopping floor, organizing cupboards, wiping down surfaces, and cleaning the refrigerator. That takes hours and I usually lose steam before I can finish the job! It’s much more efficient to do all the dishes in one shot. That means gathering up all the mugs that I have lying around in my living room, work space, and kitchen. Done!

Cleaning by category is also more pragmatic than cleaning by room. If you have guests coming over, would you prefer to only have your living room cleaned, or all the floors in your house vacuumed? Perhaps you will be more convinced if I give you a more extreme example:

My indoor/outdoor cat, who usually does his business outside, likes to poo in the house when it’s raining. He doesn’t like getting wet in the rain, so he leaves surprises for us all over the house. Would I rather clean my bedroom (where I’ve cleaned up some of the cat poo) and have poo lying around in my living room and kitchen OR clean up all the cat poo from every room? I think you’ll agree that it is way better to NOT have cat poo in ANY room, than have a clean bedroom!

After cleaning up the cat poo, I focused on two things:

  1. Laundry
  2. Papers and Books

Laundry was easy because it’s something that I do every other day. I gathered up clothes from my car, the bedroom, the hallway, living room, and even kitchen.

I did the same with my books and papers. This process was a little harder, but more interesting because I had to go through the items more carefully to see what could be recycled, donated, or re-shelved. It was amazing how many half-filled notebooks, scraps of paper, junk mail, and books I had lying around.

Here are some before and after photos of my entry way:

In my mess, I rediscovered one of my favorite books. A Language Older Than Words is a memoir by Derrick Jensen. It’s amazing how he’s able to weave personal struggles and politics into a story that every day readers can appreciate. I particularly recommend this book if you want to understand the dynamics of violence.

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November 30th – “Consider your next few moves and don’t worry too much about responding to the events of the day. You have bigger fish to fry.”

Excess of anything can be dangerous.

Too much talking means that I’m not listening.
Too much television means that I’m getting dumb.
Too much working means that I’m not having fun.
Too much jogging means that I’m hurting my knees.
Too much drinking means….well, I think you can fill in the rest here with your own imagination!
And too much relaxing means that I’m not doing anything!

At the moment, I’m too comfortable and that means that I’m not challenging myself. I’ve been comfortable not having to worry about my next steps. I am very lucky to have a partner that makes like easier for me (and not harder! Oh, there were so many of those!).

In the past, having to struggle gave me determination to accomplish great things. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have the resources, support, or experience. I figured it out because failure was not an option.

It’s funny how things work. When I think that the “right” circumstances will make life’s decisions and changes easier, it doesn’t. How often have you heard someone say, “Oh, this isn’t the right time,” or “I don’t have enough XXXX to do this.”

As for me, it seems to be the opposite. I did things when it wasn’t the right time. I lacked the money or know how to take risks, yet I did. Now that I’m comfortable and have much more knowledge of how to reach my desired goals, I’m not doing it!

This blog is fun to write, but I do have bigger fish to try!  I guess it’s time to sleep a little less and get uncomfortable again.

My big picture goal is to do a more serious writing project. To help me improve my writing, I need to read more regularly. That means,

  1. Stop reading junk online!
  2. Determine what type of writing I want to do by reading “good” writing.
  3. Read 2 to 3 books a week.

This is all very subjective and dependent on my personal taste. I’ve asked for book recommendations from friends and have received a few. They haven’t steered me wrong yet, so I’m going to keep going with it.

Tonight’s reading is Peter S. Beagle’s Summerlong. I read Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, so I know this author will not disappoint.

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I do have 2 more books from Jack Kerouac to read, but just finished On the Road this week. I don’t want to overdose on Kerouac. After all, too much Kerouac could be dangerous!

November 26th – “You’re not where you want to be, but that’s no career crises. Be patient and wait.”

Worrying does nothing.

It’s an action based on inaction, stemming from fear and anxiety.

Unlike anger, resentment, sadness, jealously, or any other negative feeling, there is no catharsis or release of energy in worrying.

Worrying consumes a lot of energy, but it stores all of this energy and builds up until there’s no room to breathe. It does so because worry exists in a liminal state, the place of in between. When we worry, we are paralyzed, indecisive, and unable to take responsibility of whatever consequence lies ahead. So we wait and worry about what might or might not happen next.

That sounds like a waste of time, doesn’t it? Well, it is! So I’m not going to worry that I’m not where I want to be. Not today anyway. Being patient and waiting is so much easier than worrying!

I have an impatient temperament, so when I’m waiting, I try to keep myself occupied. What better way than to start on a new book!

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road has been on my reading list for over a couple of decades. I don’t know why I never got to it, so I’m getting to it now.

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Worry is not something the characters experience very often in this Beat generation classic. In fact, their complete lack of anxiety and fear of the future is what makes this story interesting. Kerouac travels across the U.S. several times, and does so on meager funds and with vague plans. He and his friends may drink a lot, get into trouble, and freeload off others, but there is something I envy about them. Freedom.

They have freedom to explore the road, people, and LIFE with few strings attached. I’m aware that both Kerouac and Cassady (the other main character in the story) died in their forties in real life, but that doesn’t deter me. Heck, many great artists died young!

Would I rather live a short life rich with stories and adventures, or a long boring one without passion? I think I know my answer!

November 20th – “It’s a good day to accomplish your goals if you don’t let yourself let go of them first.”

It’s easy to give up on goals.  There’s a million excuses one can make, but sometimes certain goals are not worth having.

To be honest, I don’t really care about (career) goals at the moment. As a former over achiever, I’m happy to do less and accomplish less. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down and smelling the flowers for a change.

I was ready to let go of today’s goal of submitting a job application that I felt lukewarm about. However, my horoscope advised me not to and I already ignored my fitness scope for the day. I didn’t think it would be wise to snub ALL my predictions for the day. I’ve already learned the hard way!

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With that out of the way, I worked on my second predication of the day.

Power comes from being open to new ideas. When confronted, don’t resist. Consider.”

It was too late to go out in the world today, so I started on Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle. It’s a collection of short stories and it didn’t disappoint.

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In “The Rock In the Park,” two kids help a family of centaurs (NOT pictured above!) who are lost in modern day Bronx. Using a magical brush created from hairs from the centaurs’ tails, a boy draws a map which will lead the centaurs to Mexico where their fellow centaurs have already migrated to for the winter.

The story made me wonder about all the things that I miss when I’m “too busy” and not paying attention. For all I know, there could be centaurs, unicorns, and other magical creatures hanging around my jogging trail at night. I’m not outside often enough to know what really goes on out there. Heck, they might be there right now, and maybe I just can’t see any of them!

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November 15th – “Someone’s going to get pretty bossy today — try to make sure that it’s not you.”

Bossy people are annoying. What’s more annoying is when I’m the bossy person!

Here are some signs of bossy behavior:

  1. Pushing to be helpful.
  2. Insisting they have the best answer.
  3. Pressing you to consider all options.
  4. Interrupting and being outspoken.
  5. Needing to prove they are smarter than you.
  6. Acting driven to be right.

I found this list insightful because it provides a nuanced definition of bossiness that I hadn’t considered before.

I don’t think I was guilty of it today, but when I am bossy, I mostly exhibit bossy sign #3 or #4. I’m not going to beat myself up over this because I don’t know anyone who has not been bossy before. Okay, I do know a few acquaintances who have not shown me their signs of bossiness. However, I have a feeling that during the 99.99999% of the time that they spend outside my presence, they’ve had at least one opportunity to be bossy.

I used to think that my cats boss me around, but it’s entirely inaccurate according to the list above. Telling someone to do something doesn’t necessary mean that he/she is being bossy.  Sometimes people (or in this case, cats) simply want tasks done.

When my cat meows at me by the litter box, there is no psychological motive behind their demand. They aren’t trying to be “right” about something or trying to “prove that they are smarter than me” even if I might think so! Cats simply want the litter box cleaned because it’s dirty!

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I’ve been reading What Philosophy Can Tell You About Your Cat again. There’s an article that talks about rationality. It’s interesting that humans try to measure how rational one person is to the next. There’s no point to that. Compared to a cat, I think that all humans are irrational!

At the end of the day, I don’t care who’s right or smarter than me. I just want a clean litter box!