Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #11

  1. My sleep schedule still needs work, but the one habit that’s sticking is showering and getting dressed first thing after getting up. It’s too easy to laze around all morning in my pyjamas, but if I’m dressed, I’m motivated to find something to do. Maybe even get out of the house.
  2. When I do go out, I’m trying to pack food and not spend money. In my Christmas stocking one year, I received Rubbermaid Take Alongs: segmented plastic containers. They’re perfect for lunch on the go. There’s a big compartment and a small compartment, and you can put anything you want in them because they don’t leak.
  3. Another way I’m saving money is growing my own vegetables. My grandmother started the plants, and then I took over. I have big sunny windowsills, but the containers weren’t thriving there. Now they live on my patio where it’s more shady. The basil hasn’t done well, the parsley didn’t survive my landlord power-washing, but I still have chives, kale, and Swiss chard. (The tomatoes aren’t ready yet.) I pick a few leaves when I come home from work, and then figure out what to make for dinner.
  4. Container gardening is so much easier, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how my best work is tiny work. Short stories, blog posts, zines made with a single sheet of paper. Tiny art, tiny books, tiny yoga?

After therapy on Thursday mornings, I go out for lunch before work. I could go home for the four hours between, but I live down a steep hill, and I work at the top, and it’s been so hot. I go out for lunch, I write in the food court, I browse the library, and then I go to work.

Lately, I’ve been going to the same restaurant, around the same time, and today my server said, “Nice to see you again.” It was a little moment that surprised me, a genuine recognition that so rarely happens in the world.

It had me thinking about why the baristas at Starbucks don’t seem to recognise me, though I’m there often enough. It’s the difference in the interaction. A server at a restaurant is with you through a meal, which is longer than a coffee. The time of day is more structured, too. There are breakfast customers, lunch customers, dinner customers, but people stop in for coffee at all hours.

I go to the same Starbucks, but I don’t always order the same drink. I’ve never worked food service, but I used to work in an alterations shop, which means I saw the customers when they dropped off and when they picked up. I recognised them because I associated them with their pants or dress. My mom’s Starbucks knows her because she orders the same thing every time (except when she gets a frappucino with her rewards).

Even with my ever-changing coffee, when I go to Starbucks, I usually get a mug to stay and write a while. I get my free refills. I do the crossword in the paper. Maybe I just need to be better at small talk while I wait for the app to load. Because some days I really feel invisible.

I like to drink my coffee with milk, no sugar. But I’m out of milk, and I don’t get paid until this weekend. This shouldn’t be a problem. I can drink tea. I didn’t even like coffee until a few years ago. But this morning, I woke up wanting it. Maybe that had something to do with waking up at quarter to 6.

I made my coffee my regular way, then drank it with sugar, no milk. I liked it. I’m thinking about how we tell ourselves what we like and don’t like, what we can do and can’t. How our parents and teachers tell us the same thing. We’re so quick to decide before we actually try.

I was a very picky eater as a kid. I hated that fatty bit on a pork chop. I ate around bell peppers. I didn’t even want to try raw fish sushi. It took a very long time for me to try new things. I’m still trying to figure out what changed for me because there’s more I want to try, and I haven’t yet been brave enough

(To be fair, I tried coffee. Turns out, my mom loves the darkest roasts, and I really don’t. As with most things in this world, I had to do it myself before I realised I loved it.)

As good as my coffee was hot this morning with oatmeal, it’s even better now, at 2 in the afternoon, with ice.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #9

  1. The French Open is messing with my resolution to keep the TV off in the mornings. But my PVR helps. I only have a few shows set to record (Private Eyes is back!), but it means I’m not compulsively flipping the channels, looking for something to watch. I watch a show after work, and then I delete. I watch less TV, but I watch what I want.
  2. This Wednesday, I biked out to Crescent Beach. It was my first bike ride of the year. I wasn’t sure that the weather would hold for the whole day, and it turned out that it didn’t. It was overcast, and later it got windy. But just the chance to spend an afternoon on the beach, in the sun, in the ocean, made my week better.
  3. My new steno notebooks are working out pretty well. I filled the first one in two weeks. The thing I like most about them is the two columns. It means that the daily log I write at the back of my book takes up far fewer pages. The thing I like least about them is the paper. It’s rather thin and gets caught up on the spiral binding a lot.
  4. The inventor of the Hawaiian pizza died today. Hawaiian has always been my favourite pizza. But now that I’m vegetarian, I don’t eat ham. On my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store and bought a can of pineapple tidbits, pizza mozzarella (on sale!), some mushrooms, and a tomato. When I got home, I made some dough. It wasn’t exactly the pizza Sam Panopoulos invented. But I made it on a whim, and I have leftovers for tomorrow.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #6

  1. I’ve had Wednesdays off the last few weeks because I’ve had no classes to teach. Of course it would be better to work and get paid, but right now, I’m just going to enjoy my mid-week break. This week, I spent the evening with my 1-year-old nephew while his parents had a night out. Turns out babysitting pays as well as my day job.
  2. I finished reading A DAY OF SIGNS AND WONDERS by Kit Pearson, a novel inspired by Emily Carr’s childhood. It was fine, a quick read, definitely more for kids. The paperback is designed with cover flaps, which do an excellent job as built-in bookmarks. I am vehemently against dogearing a book, especially borrowed from the library.
  3. I spent a lot of time this week working on my websites. Nothing I’m ready to share yet, but I always enjoy playing with code. I taught myself in the early ’00s by finding sites I liked and viewing source. Luckily, my taste is pretty simple, so I can usually make it look the way I want with good old fashioned HTML and CSS.
  4. After I used my last Starbucks reward, I deleted the app from my phone. They make it too easy to spend money. So I’ve been making coffee in the morning with a plastic pourover cone I stole from my parents’s basement. God knows how old it is, but it works great. It fits on the rim of a litre canning jar. It makes as much or as little coffee as I want. (Admittedly, lately, it’s been a lot.) The inadvertent theme of this week is simple and old fashioned. Might just make it the deliberate theme going forward.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #5

  1. It’s been a weird spring, weather wise. I have a quilted hooded sweatshirt that I stole from my mom that is proving to be the perfect spring jacket. Some days I wear it with a quilted vest on top (the platonic PNW uniform). I always have my North Face packable rain jacket for when the weather changes for the worse. Short or long-sleeved layers underneath if there’s sun or clouds in the sky. Layers are essential here, and I’ve pretty much got my spring wardrobe set.
  2. I used to love messenger and cross-body bags, but I’ve been using my MEC backpack as my daily since last summer. It means I always have an umbrella, my notebook, pencil case, but also room for snacks, water bottle, even a few groceries on my way home from work. But this week, I’ve noticed a lot more tension in my neck and shoulders. I’m worried I’m carrying too much every day. So I’ve been doing slow neck circles, matching movement and breath, stretching wherever I happen to be. It’s only technically yoga, but the smallest step back into my practice feels huge.
  3. On Tuesday, I stopped at Nature’s Fare on my way home from work. Because many of their products are local, handmade, organic, natural, they don’t last as long as processed food. If you go before closing, you can find stuff marked down more than half-off for quick sale. I bought some grass-fed chocolate milk and locally-made kefir, then mixed them and made ice cream when I got home.
  4. On Wednesday, a day off, I visited my grandparents. They’re moving at the end of the month, after 40 years in their current house. I saw them on Sunday, too, and brought home a couple of bags of frozen vegetables and fruit from the summer, as well as half a dozen vegetables and herbs in pots. Wednesday, I brought home containers of rice, pasta, and flour. Their new house is smaller (though not by much), but mostly it’s just easier for them if they don’t have to move all this stuff. I’m going to miss my grandma’s garden this summer, but all I have to do is open my freezer to find a reminder of last year’s harvest.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #4

  1. I really wasn’t sure I wanted to watch Riverdale. I adore Archie comics. I grew up with them. I read more Archie than books when I was in elementary school. And this series looked like it was trying too hard to be the “gritty reboot” for a new generation. But it surprised me. I really loved it. I described it in my rec to friends as “Archie comics crossed with Twin Peaks, Teen Wolf, and Gossip Girl.” So if you like those things, you might like this.
  2. Somehow, I had way more Starbucks rewards this month than my stars should’ve allowed. I know one extra happened because the barista voided my order when they ran out of quiche. I finally got the quiche yesterday (lots of spinach), and I tried the s’more frappucino on Wednesday (needs more marshmallow). I know rewards programs are all about tracking consumer spending, but if I’m gonna be spending there anyway, it’s nice to get something extra with my late stage capitalism.
  3. I’ve made five daily videos in a row! It’s been way easier than I thought it would be. And it really helps that nobody is watching right now. I’m not even watching them. I just turn on the camera, talk for a while, then upload without editing (though I have started adding a date title). It’s good to have a goal for my mornings.
  4. I’m really really lucky to be Canadian, and I never want to take that for granted.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #3

  1. The iPhone 5 is the perfect form factor for shooting video. The sides are flat, even with my new case, so it doesn’t roll when you stand it up on a table. I don’t want to buy a bunch of equipment. I just want to make some videos, and this five-year-old phone lets me do that.
  2. Last summer was great for the garden in my backyard. It belongs to the family upstairs, but one day when I was leaving for work, the mom and her two daughters were picking vegetables. I said, hoping to influence some young minds, kale is my favourite vegetable. (Top three, at least.) The mom told me to pick whatever I wanted because it was way too much for them to eat. Nothing new has been planted yet for this summer, but the kale survived the winter. It’s grown two feet in the last month, and there is way too much for me to eat. But I’m enjoying the trying.
  3. The best chemistry on The Newsroom is between Dev Patel and John Gallagher Jr., so of course Sorkin ignores it for a whole host of romantic relationships repurposed from his other shows. I don’t know why I even started watching this (after avoiding it five years ago because I knew it would make me sad and angry), but these two are a bright spot that keeps me going.
  4. I just realised I have a copy of Magic Mike XXL on my external hard drive, so that’s what I’m going to do tonight. You might think it was a bad movie. “No, as I have said twice before, and will now say a third time, it was the best movie of 2015. Please do not make me go over this again.”

You already know how much I love peanut butter, but even better is peanut butter and chocolate. Right now, in fact, I’m drinking my tea out of a Reese’s mug my parents bought me at the Hershey store in Las Vegas. That’s how much I love peanut butter and chocolate.

Ice cream was on sale at the grocery store last week, so I bought a tub of chocolate with peanut butter cups. It promised me “a ribbon of peanut butter,” but it was more like a thread, and all at the bottom. I actually added spoonfuls of my own peanut butter and let it freeze. A lesson in getting what you paid for.

I was redeemed this Easter weekend, though, because my mom bought Reese’s and Oh Henry eggs. Conversation wound around sweets. My dad admitted he had a Dairy Queen Blizzard last week, his guilty pleasure. I was reminded how much I love DQ’s Peanut Buster Parfait. We all confessed we don’t much care for Smarties (the Canadian chocolate ones). There was apple and blueberry pie with whipped cream for dessert.

But I don’t have a sweet tooth like I used to. We always had ice cream in the house. My mom baked bars, cookies, muffins. Pop was not a regular drink at home, but when we ate at restaurants, I drank root beer. I gave it up 10 years ago, and now my body can’t handle it. My cravings are for salty snacks. My body wants potato chips, popcorn, french fries. (Add a pinch of salt to the beans when you make coffee. You’re welcome.)

The other day, as I paid my bill at the restaurant counter, the waitress offered a piece of candy from the dish beside the register. I looked. They were hard candies in twisted cellophane and multi-coloured lollipops. I declined. I like a little salt with my sugar.

Four Things That Are Working For Me This Week #1

  1. I eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning. No matter the weather. No matter the time. No matter what else I have in my fridge. It’s a low key routine, easy to maintain, and I’m learning how much I need that in my life. My base recipe is 1/3 cup quick oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 tsp salt, and enough boiling water to cover. Ideally, let it stand, covered, for two minutes, but I don’t always. My current recipe is adding a big spoonful of peanut butter, but as we inch closer to summer, I’m looking forward to adding fresh fruit.
  2. I spent a lot of years of my life looking for the perfect pen. I should’ve spent more time writing and less time worrying. I use a pencil now. Currently, a package of Strawberry Shortcake (the original) pencils I found in my Christmas stocking so many years ago that the erasers have dried up. Pencils are cheap. They go well with my preferred notebook: a 9×6 spiral-bound for $1.50.
  3. Speaking of stocking stuffers (Santa always kills it), I’m getting to the bottom of a jar of cranberry body butter from The Body Shop. I have a dozen different lotions all over my house, but I keep this one of my end table. It’s perfect for hands after washing dishes.
  4. I have had a lot of blogs. I’ve tried everything. I started on Blogspot, spent a lot of time on Livejournal, almost stuck with Tumblr, and now I’m here on my own site, powered by WordPress. It’s exactly what I want right now. I love hand-coding and making my own thing, but using WordPress means I’m way more likely to actually blog every day. There are no excuses when it’s this easy.