February brought a handful of first time experiences. These experiences included going to the San Francisco zoo, being on a pedal boat in Stow Lake with my coworker friends, going to a secret comedy show in someone’s basement, participating in the Castro singalong of Frozen, dancing and riding in a party bus, and making (gluten free) chocolate chip cookies!
Making cookies was just the beginning. Remember how I was starting to cook more in January? Well there was a lot more cooking in store for me in February. I made salmon mango tacos, hummus, savory pumpkin seeds, chili, pesto pasta, Moroccan chickpea stew, multigrain cereal (quinoa, buckwheat, oats, with walnuts, milk, banana, and spices), and hemp protein banana berry honey chia seed smoothies. Most of the recipes are from the 30 Minute Vegan cookbook. It’s been a lot of fun and work but always tasty, except for when I burn or spill things of course. I’ve been marked by my first cookie baking attempt on my left funny bone but somehow it pushes me more to try again (of course only after a bit of time has passed for me to cool off my steam).
I remember being in college and wondering, how is this magical thing called learning how to cook going to happen? Now it’s actually and accidentally happening. Instead of thinking far ahead and intentionally looking at a recipe I never tried before, shopping for those specific ingredients and crossing my fingers, I can gradually accumulate and assimilate what I do everyday at work but for myself. This way I know exactly what to expect before even buying the ingredients. This is the motivating factor because it doesn’t seem as unknown and risky because I know how amazing it looks when it’s done and how much I want to eat it instead of only serving it to someone else.
I didn’t want to forget to mention restaurants. Sorabol is at the moment my favorite place for Korean food. It feels kind of weird to say that since it’s in the food court at the Westfield mall, but seriously! They do a great job. They are not shy with the array of pickled vegetables on their bibimbap and I like that. Super Duper Burger has one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had. The patty is where it’s at. I’m not quite sure what’s in it but it was crispy and it went well with the hummus and super sauce.
SAN FRANCISCO ADVENTURES
The San Francisco adventures I had this month besides the ones mentioned earlier were visiting Golden Gate Park several times, taking a four hour hike around Lake Merced, and having a picnic in Yerba Buena Gardens. Near Valentine’s Day I went to a Valentine’s Day block party downtown where live music played, photo shoots were held, and people expressed their opinions and feelings of the holiday on a communal mural.
Samovar Tea was my lucky place on Valentine’s Day where I had a pot of turmeric spice tea and a pot of cacao mint tea. There is nothing more sensual and comforting than warmth, aroma, and chocolate in dimly lit restaurant playing new age world music.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Another first timer was taking six sessions of the Alexander Technique. My mom’s back had been hurting and it only started to feel better when she started doing the Alexander Technique. She thought I’d be interested because a lot of singers, dancers, martial artists use the Alexander Technique to enhance their performance. But mostly, she wanted to help me while I’m young to protect me from the back pain she experienced, by having me learn a series of ergonomic principles and exercises. It was important stuff but difficult to make a habit of because of time, space in my room, lack of ergonomic design in my housing situation, and the inertia of old habits. However I took away with me the importance of lying on your back everyday, hinging from your hips, putting 80% of your weight on your metatarsals when standing, monkey stretching your legs and back, stretching my shoulders, pulling back the Keira Knightley neck, relaxing my tailbone, and not hyperextending my knees. It’s sometimes challenging to hear a lot of critiques but now I can apply them at my own pace whenever I’m sitting, standing, walking, or lying down.
PEOPLE IN MY LIFE
Not everything was happy go lucky in February. On Leap Day, February 29th 2016, my great uncle passed away. He played a major role in my dad’s family and could be considered our patriarch. His death marks an end of an era, taking with him me and my cousins’ childhoods. My cousins loved him very much and during this time I felt my emotions directed toward them and feeling compassionate for their loss. He was their grandpa who they lived and played with for most of their lives. My dad was especially close to him too. My dad felt very supported and loved by his uncle and could always have a good laugh and intellectual discussion with him. He was silly, smart, curious, bossy, and playful with a young spirit and a big heart. We were very lucky to have experienced such a special and loving person in our lives and to share his memories.
At work the clients are performing the play Chorus Line and are learning about the significance of having a dream. This play is introducing not only acting and singing but what it’s like to practice a dance choreography and to have an audition. One day they were asked to share their personal dreams and to perform a skit and a song illustrating what their dreams are about. Some dreams were to have a house with kids, to be a sports announcer, to own a giant suitcase, or to have a horse. Later the next week they learned how knowing the current reality of the dreamer and seeing the contrast between that and their dream, gives the dream that much more meaning. The teacher demonstrated this by asking the clients what their current reality is. The reality of the client who wanted to be a sports announcer was that he restocked basketball shoes. The reality of the client who wanted a horse was that his horse passed away. The meaning came from watching the clients perform their stories and seeing the emotional contrast. From sadness, grief, boredom, and monotony to joy, meaning and purpose.
This month I got personal with the clients. I learned about their realities and dreams and I learned about desires that their caregivers may prevent them from having, due to the complexity of their situation. I’ve seen clients cry and supported them through the process of losing their mom ten years ago. I was there for a client when she lost her cat this month. In this job you get close to people. You work with them closely everyday for years, helping them with everyday tasks like food preparation, commuting on the bus or washing their hands. The thing is the distance between you and your client is small when you two go through a universal experience together. It reveals how vulnerable we all are and that we all share our humanity. It’s easy not to realize how much your clients impacts your life and how much you are part of a community.
A housemate of mine got me excited about the idea of learning data science and data analytics. He sent me several resources and I read a handful blogs talking about it and even paid for a $30 Coursera course on the subject. After watching the first week’s worth of videos I realized it’s not for me. I like analyzing the data after it is computed. I like funneling information and thinking of survey questions. In general I like research but more of the narrative aspect and not the tech or number crunching part. Give that to a mathematician or a software engineer. That language and jargon is so far removed from me that it feels overwhelming to overcome the hurdle of being a beginner. Maybe if I did overcome the hurdle and finally understood the basics and what it means to think and problem-solve in that way, there may be potential for me to see how I could feel a “flow” state while doing that kind of work. However I have too many interests grabbing for my attention that seem more approachable.
My musical improv education was very abundant this month. This was the first time I ever practiced improv outside of a class or party. A small group of four to six of us would practice on Saturday or Sunday morning at Dolores Park. Those days ended up to be all day marathons and picnics. It was very focused and a lot of fun.
I have been using my sign language on and off at work which has been really great for my learning. There have been several times where I made an effort to greet or start a conversation in sign language when there is an opportunity in the morning once or twice a week. I also told coworkers who don’t know sign language that I could help teach them what I know.
My Portuguese practice has been great – this month I had a 29 day streak! My next goal is to actually try talking to my dad in Portuguese when I Skype him.
To prepare for a possible transition into pediatric occupational therapy as well as to read something relevant to my current line of work and to have CEU credit to keep my OTA license I started reading this very lengthy article about autism. It is very detailed and rich with information like how girls with autism differ from boys with autism and case scenarios. I look forward to finishing it.
TV SHOWS, MOVIES, BOOKS
This month I started watching Avatar: The Legend of Korra. I’m getting into it but it’s not the same. I miss the characters and friendships that were in Avatar: The Last Airbender. However I’m excited to see how Korra blossoms into her role as the Avatar and changes the world.
I re-watched Ferngully, inspired by the lush rainforest part of the zoo. I also watched an anime called Five Centimeters Per Second. It was pretty good but the cheesy song at the end ruined it. I liked the art and mood of the scenes before then. It made me think of Miyazaki movies.
I read a book called Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter, which was a summary of environmental and social psychology studies that illustrate how much we are unawarely influenced by a large number of forces. These forces include names, labels, symbols, culture, other people’s presence or characteristics, colors, locations and the weather. Their influence can affect our perception of the physical world and how we see ourselves or others. They can influence our major life decisions, our health as well as our success. It’s pretty short book and very eye opening.
This month the emphasis was more on improv, Alexander technique, social events, and sign language. I did draw a doodle, wrote four poems, and wrote two blogs. I also continued reading blogs of others and have been reaching out commenting on people’s work. Didn’t make any stop motion videos but I made plans with a friend to continue on the stop motion journey.
February was a great month full of a variety of foods, experiences and heart to hearts!