The theme of May was about pushing through. There were some grand finales and some marathons that at times tested my strength, endurance and mental and emotional stamina. This blog is extra-long for a reason.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
I feel I did a great job keeping up with my exercise this month. My Fitness Pal was a great motivator. Most days of the week I would do the 7 minute workout in the morning and 30 minutes to an hour of exercise in the afternoon. I got back into running and Zumba and was practicing Samba for the Carnaval parade a couple of times a week. It was a good feeling to get back to having a cardio workout each day. It gave me a lot of energy and I slept a lot better. I also felt that it helped me more efficiently use my time. It may be because it made me more awake and alert each moment so that I was able to notice the minutes better. It was rewarding to feel so miraculously motivated each day and to know it’s possible to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time and feel its effects.
TV SHOWS, BOOKS, MOVIES, MUSIC
Movies I watched were The Jungle Book, 50 Shades of Grey, and Jobs. The Jungle Book surprised me with how well done the CG was. I worried that it would be tacky and weird to have the animals talking but I was so immersed in the characters and felt so much compassion for them. My favorite character (besides Bill Murray) was the mother wolf. She was so majestic and I really felt her love for Mowgli. During the movie I wondered about the temperament of the characters and how it compared to the temperaments of animals in real life. I also wondered if wolves, bears, and jaguars would ever be truly harmless to a boy. I guess there have been stories of people being raised by wolves so maybe some aspects are possible.
Music I listened to was the Wild Reeds and Emily Afton. It’s nice to go back to the classic singer and songwriter and to music that an artist wouldn’t need an outlet or computer to create. I learned about the Wild Reeds at a camp that I will talk about later in my San Francisco Adventures section. That time at camp may have influenced my experience of their music but I think they were chosen to be there because they were the perfect fit to remind people what it’s like to feel connected to nature and to each other. Music like theirs can take me to “camp” regardless of where my body is. The Wild Reeds took me to a different place and time. It’s a time connected to the basic elements of what it means to be a human living on earth. When I listen to their music I feel that I shed the comfort of cities, technology and distraction and really feel the rawness of being alive, as alive as the trees we live amongst. It’s a bittersweet, nostalgic walk in the timeless mountains. There’s something about the combined voices of the cello, banjo, acoustic guitar, violin, viola, and marxophone that pulls strongly at my heart strings.
Books I read were Artist to Artist and Understanding Comics. Understanding Comics was cleverly done. It was smart, funny, philosophical and eye opening. I learned about how comic artists tap into the senses, moods, and the experience of motion and time through the choices they make in their illustration. I also learned about the unique strengths that realism and cartoons have and how the lines blur between words, symbols, cartoons, and pictures. The more simple the cartoon the more power the cartoon has to translate and make relatable universal experiences to the viewer. It’s been a while since I finished reading that book and I feel it would be worthwhile to get that book from the library again and write notes along with its sequel Making Comics. It was really inspiring to see how I could bring my cartooning to the next level. I also feel more confident in my art because I know that I don’t need to be an expert reality portraying artist and that a simple and emotive style can make a cartoon great.
Speaking about cartoons and creative projects I actually did something different this month. I wasn’t able to do cartooning every single day this month but I made a Ms. Frizzle costume! I went to the Salvation Army looking for a collared, knee length dress. A woman in the store was holding the closest thing to it that I could find. I asked her where she found it and she said I could have the dress because she was indecisive about it anyway. I felt slightly guilty and sheepish taking it away from her but I was really excited and grateful as well as surprised by her generosity. I was also surprised that it fit me perfectly and was torn to change it since I really liked it the way it was: the color, the style, the fit. Everything about it was somehow Ms. Frizzle and somehow something I would wear anyway. But in the name of creative endeavors, projects, dressing up, committing to themes, and the love of Ms. Frizzle, I pursued in altering it!
It was a long process, a lot longer than I was expecting. I didn’t realize that this was the beginning of a marathon, the first marathon of the month.
First I spent time looking online at all the different themed dresses Ms. Frizzle had and tried to find which dress was orange sherbet so I could stay as true to the show or book as possible.
After deciding on the theme I had the idea to cut out and glue on pieces of felt to the dress. That seemed easy enough. Next I thought to sew on origami creatures to the dress. I even made origami grasshoppers for the sequined shoes. It was so hard to stick the sewing through the shoe and sequins and tie it on! I broke a couple of needles in the process. Twisting is key. In the end I wasn’t even able to walk a block in those shoes so I just wore Converse instead. It was good I didn’t wear them because one grasshopper was already falling off.
The sewing took time. I broke the threader so I had to try to get into the eye of the needle by hand while my nerves were getting shot from staying up late working on this project. The string would get tangled, the needle would get poked through the wrong location. Somehow it was a little more tedious than expected.
Regardless, I had my ideas to execute. Along with sewing on the origami I sewed on actual leaves and weeds to the dress along with a rubber toy iguana (“Liz”) to the shoulder.
I was going to make red ladybug or purple mushroom earrings by gluing felt to this peace sign earrings but it was already 3:00 in the morning! I had to wake in 4 hours!
So I settled on what I had. I felt pretty good about it, though I was unsure of how I would be able to wake up early enough to show it off. The next morning, however, one text from my friend was all I needed.
What I didn’t realize the night before in that creative madness were the logistical and functional issues of sitting down or wearing a backpack with delicate designs sewn to the back of the dress. I gave that dress its day of glory and that was it. The butterfly crumpled, the leaf ripped, the lizard flew off, not to mention I was going to need to wash it because it got all sweaty and dirty from walking and dancing in the hot street. It was all just for the magic of that day and to fulfill my crafty ambitions. The photographs make it live on forever.
This month I had my ASL final, paper and workbook assignments due. It was a last minute rush but ended successfully. There was however one minor bump in the road during the test when I felt embarrassed for asking a question. Everybody in class was surprised that I didn’t understand something on the test because they see me as such a good student. It made it hard to endure the rest of the test because my emotions and mind were really distracted with frustration. I know they didn’t mean anything by it and they were very apologetic afterward. That’s the life of a sensitive person like me!
Toward the end of the month I visited the OT clinic to observe the OT for two full days in a row. I learned about balancing arousal levels, knowing when a kid’s arousal level is too high or too low, the importance of heavy work, how to prevent dizziness, how hammocks increase body awareness, how sound helps with sound defensiveness, how to build listening sensitivity, how to use the proprioception system to calm kids when they are amped up, the importance of making a schedule with the kid and having their favorite activity at end as a reward, what to do when a kid has low frustration tolerance and doesn’t want to do anything, how Lycra can gently stretch the Achilles, how getting out of ball pits is a great motor planning exercise, and how to grade hand eye coordination exercises.
When a kid is slouching over or if they can’t sit still it could be due to having either too little or too high a level of arousal. Chewing on gum or a straw or sucking on hard candy or listening to music can help a kid focus because they can be more in their body and attention is given to the senses.
If a kid does a spinning exercise to improve vestibular functioning, they can say the alphabet with each jump on a trampoline to prevent getting dizzy. It is also important to do heavy work (like climbing, crawling, using body weight to move a swing) after spinning to prevent feeling too amped up and hyper and moving around too roughly afterward.
Seeing the kids pushed to increase their core strength, balance, oculomotor skills, bilateral integration, attention span and focus feeds into this month’s theme of endurance and perseverance to do the best that you can. Those kids were working hard and were being pushed to edge of their capabilities gently, firmly and playfully. Some of them were challenging to guide because they were struggling to overcome their personal barriers. Others were determined and motivated to try their best and listen to the OT because they knew it would make them stronger.
The kids also had different reactions toward me. One was sad to find out I wasn’t putting on my shoes with him when he was leaving because it meant I came to the clinic to visit other kids besides him. Another kid was absolutely quiet the whole time except for a hiss at me. If I go into this field it will be important to not take any reaction from the kids personally and to do my best to have a good rapport with the colorful assortment of personalities I may encounter. I do know how important it is for me that the people I work with enjoy my presence as well as working with me. I feel appreciated at my current job which is really wonderful after having felt unwanted at other jobs. I felt a subtle and sometimes not so subtle daily rejection each day I went to work in the past. I now sometimes have the fear of possibly facing that again with other populations and situations but I don’t want that to hold me back. I want that difficult experience to give me strength and wisdom to know when something works and when it doesn’t.
My client experienced a few things this month that seemed relevant to the theme of being tested. They included handling a stolen wallet, inappropriate behavior from a staff, a clogged kitchen sink, and the repeated annoyances of phone solicitation. She made creative and assertive communication choices and was able to resolve all issues by the end of the month. She also accomplished some elaborate projects like filling three jars with mother’s day pancake mix and doing deep candidate research on the upcoming election. To guarantee her focus and concentration she had me lock all electronic distractors in the cabinet. Now that’s getting serious.
Besides vicariously experiencing my client’s projects and challenges, I’ve had lots of fun with work this month. I had the opportunity to go on the Rainbow Walk in the Castro, go bowling at Yerba Buena, try samples at the Ferry Building and do some window shopping at Ghirardelli and Daiso.
I also got to visit the Exploratorium and experience the Tactile Dome! The last time I went to the Tactile Dome was 10 years ago in the old location when I was in high school. My client, who’s been in the Tactile Dome more times than she could count, led the way and said “When it comes to the tactile dome it’s all about teamwork!” This was totally true until we got separated! It was pitch black so hearing each other’s voices was key. We went through it three times, each time I swore I felt another possible route to get out even though the facilitator said there was actually only one way. On the third round, however, I somehow got lost.
I called for my client but she didn’t answer. A few minutes later I heard another voice of a little girl who was also lost. I felt comforted to not be alone and have a little companion in the process of getting out together. Then I heard the facilitator on the intercom quickly say “Stay with her.” At first I was alone and lost and now I was a leader helping this little girl find her way out. Helping her helped me. We pushed through, relying on our other senses and each other and persevered successfully.
I was only in cooking class one time this month because of various vacations and schedule changes but the one time I was we made a Mexican casserole!
Mexican food seems to be the theme for the month because I went to a lot of Mexican restaurants including Gallardo’s, Casa Mexicana, The Little Chihuahua, and Pancho Villa. The Little Chihuahua was my favorite because it had a lot of great seafood and veggie options for every meal choice and I’ve also had lots of good memories there.
I also went to Xanath Ice Cream, Peasant Pies, Sacred Grounds, New Village Cafe, and Lee’s Deli. Through these restaurants I savored saffron ice cream, rekindled my love for tuna melts, felt the blessings of a hearty omelet after a long morning dance session, and learned about a convenient place to buy lunch for less than $5 downtown!
Along with multiple Mexican restaurants and the small variety of other restaurants I went to, I also went to a couple of boba tea shops as well. I went to Sharetea in the Metreon and to Tea Fever in Berkeley. The flavors I tried were jasmine and Oreo.
I remember clearly my first boba experience was in high school at Lollicup and how much going there made an impression on me. The decor had a fun brick clubhouse feel with a spiral staircase in the corner and a couch in the front surrounded by windows. Teenagers from a nearby high school would go there after school to hangout. I wish I went there as frequently but even though I didn’t, stickers and point cards from there often cluttered my room. I wanted to make sure to remember that place. The drinks and the environment made me so happy.
Eventually later on in college, the drinks that revolved around my life besides water were unexpectedly not the drinks you may think typically get introduced in college. Instead they were stemmed from the discovery of my love for sweet milky drinks. First it was the velvety sweet and rich Thai ice tea. Once a week I would indulge in this divine decadence and have the most bizarre, entertaining and intellectual conversations with one of my closest friends. Then later in college I encountered a strange and delicious purple milky substance at Quickly. It was the exotic and intriguing tarot milk tea! Over ten years later boba milk teas still haven’t lost their charm.
SAN FRANCISCO ADVENTURES
This month’s adventures include finding a new bookcase in the neighborhood and carrying it home, going to ecstatic dance, going to an old theater in Berkeley, dancing at Badlands, shopping at Piedmont in the Haight, being in a cuddle puddle, walking in Bay to Breakers, shopping at the Salvation Army, dancing and petting snakes and chickens at New Traditions Elementary School, going to Makespace, exploring a late night art gallery show, visiting Creativity Explored, shopping at One Stop Party Stop and Party City, checking out Pens and Needles, enjoying a pool party, going to Camp Grounded, and performing in Carnaval!
I could write a whole blog on either Camp Grounded or Carnaval. They were each big elaborate experiences. But as you can see I’ve written a lot and it’s halfway through July already so I’m behind as it is. I’ll sum them up as best as I can.
Carnaval started with all of us arriving at 8:00 am in our red and blue flowing costumes. It was an antsy morning full of anticipation, photo ops, glitter and sun block applying, pacing, porta-potty line waiting, hydration and gallons of homemade sangria guzzling. The parade was supposed to start at around 9:00am but didn’t get going until 10:00am or 11:00 am, which meant we didn’t start moving until at least past noon. We heard that dancing through the parade should only take 30 minutes, it was only a couple blocks after all.
We danced for two hours.
It was a marathon in that blazing sun. We danced nonstop, trying to preserve our energy, smiles and pizazz for the audience and cameras all the way to the end. We were hot, hungry, thirsty, tired, sticky, sweaty, and in pain. My feet were killing me. I had to adjust my dance so that I jumped, pivoted and turned more gently so that the pressure and friction would be less harsh on the balls of my feet. Food, water, and sitting never felt so good afterward.
Even though it was a test of endurance it was such an amazing experience. The physical challenges of going through the whole parade just added to the glory and triumph I felt throughout it. It was magical to see all the people cheering and dancing with us. People were pumped by our music, our mesmerizing twirling skirts, our fun-loving moves, and our flirty, joyful, kickass attitude! We were there to make everyone’s day. We had a glimpse of the life of a celebrity or a Disney character at Disneyland with everyone wanting take pictures of us. One of the best parts of Carnaval was the sense of comaraderie with the dancers I felt. Carnaval is something I can imagine looking back on as an amazing phase in my life in which I had the opportunity to share many memories with others. It celebrates the vitality that we have and encourages us to harness our joy and strength. Being in Carnaval was how we seized the day. I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year.
Camp Grounded was a whole different experience. A summer camp for adults where technology, time, work and your real name don’t exist. I had a few challenges. First I didn’t realize I needed to reserve a sleeping bag online ahead of time so the first night I was scrambling to find one. Luckily I did.
Then I didn’t know where to go or what to do. There were at least 30 activities to choose from and I was paralyzed. I was torn because I love dance, improv, writing, song creation, drawing and they were all happening at once! I decided that maybe I should try to do the things that I want to do that I’ve never done before and that I knew I could only do at camp.
But it was raining.
The rain was beautiful but it made things more complicated. I was cold and not sure if I would have enough dry clothes to last the rest of the weekend if I did the ropes course for the first time in the rain. I ended up spending half the time drying off my socks in front of the fire.
I also was shy apparently and indecisive about making friends. There were so many people there! Over 250 people were there spread across the camp ground. It was hard to know who to spend the day with and who to get to know. Every moment whether it was in the dining hall or on the way to the first play shop activity there was a different group of people around me. There was a booklet to help us out which one morning I actually cracked open but then the time there got kind of busy. There would be times when I would get caught up in a spontaneous organized activity that a group of campers created. That was fun minus the mosquitos and chilliness at the archery range. I actually felt that maybe that’s where I was supposed to be until I felt kind of frazzled and rushed because there was no way to know how much time I was spending being in one place. There was a point I even almost missed dinner but I got the last few scrapings of food before it was put away.
Camp was a metaphor for life. We never know how long we have and you never can live all the lives you wish you could live all in one. You can’t do it all but that’s okay. My indecision about what activity to do reveals my indecision of what to pursue in life. I don’t have a number one passion. It’s not always going to be writing over everything else. This means that I really have to do these things simply for the joy of doing them and if I don’t want to do those things it’s okay because I’m only doing it for fun anyway. No pressure, no expectation, no nagging. I don’t have to do the adventurous things either. Life can be valuable for many different reasons besides how adventurous it is. There’s the value of appreciating the small things, a life of love and stability, a life about learning and growing. There’s all sorts of adventures that aren’t about physical pursuits or traveling. I don’t always have to be trying to prove something to myself. I don’t have to prove to myself that I’m courageous, creative, smart, strong, all these personality attributes. I don’t need to prove to myself that I’m a writer, dancer, artist, or any role, profession, persona, identity. I don’t have to prove to myself or my ego that I’m anything. I am feeling, being, exploring, savoring life the best I can. I want to push myself out of curiosity not out of guilt or anxiety that I need to be better, that I’m not good enough. Curiosity is pure and open minded to the love of what’s possible. Now there are some things I need to do out of responsibility but for the rest I want to push myself out of the joy of wondering what I could learn and find out about myself and the world.
Camp taught me to focus on the experience of life and appreciate listening to my gut, senses, intuition, and emotions. Technology and the mind telling me “shoulds” can break my sensitivity toward feeling those things sometimes. It’s a challenge because there are times where I get anxious because I can’t tell the difference between my gut and my mind so I’ll throw a dart blindly just to make a choice. But it seems that most things in life where I feel that way about it means that there’s a high chance that it really didn’t matter whatever choice I choose because the outcome is how I internalize, integrate and interpret it anyway.
If someone I knew wanted to go to camp I probably would go again but I got what I needed from camp and have had my curiosity satisfied about that off the grid microcosm utopia of all my favorite activities.
PEOPLE IN MY LIFE
Last but not least is the section of people in my life. This month I got to know one of the dancers a little bit. It all started when I was waiting at a bus debating about getting a Lyft to dance class because I was running late. I saw a black car pull up to the bus stop and a girl with sun glasses saying “Hop in!” It was a dancer from class! We talked in the car about what we do and how we got into dance. After class we had lunch together. It was a great day.
May was also a month where I spent some time with one of my coworkers outside of work for the first time. We’ve been meaning to do that for a while. She invited me to ecstatic dance which was an interesting experience. I didn’t get to talk to her that much but it was fun to go out and do something I’ve never done before. One nice thing about it was that there was no alcohol or cigarette smoke. There was lots of room, so much that they even had hula hoops available to dance with. I’m not sure how to describe the genre of the music but it was okay. It wasn’t the music I’m typically used to dancing to but it was an interesting challenge for me to attempt it. The culture there encourages you to dance freely without inhibition however way you please but I still couldn’t help noticing a specific style that everyone was conforming to. I wasn’t sure if it fit me so spent most of the time hula hooping.
I decided to do a book swap game where friend B will forward me their friend A’s mailing address and then I will send a book to friend A. Then all of my friend C’s will send a book to friend B. Then the friend D’s of the friend C’s will send books to me. Basically everyone will give one book to a possible stranger and get a bunch of anonymous book gifts in the mail from people we may not know. The books were 501 Minutes to Christ by Poe Ballantine and Hotels of North America by Rick Moody. All I can say is I never would have thought to get those books for myself and would never have guessed how random a selection they would be. What’s funny is that I can’t remember at all what book I gave away. Maybe it was Me Talk Pretty One Day? Yeah! That’s what it was! So if anyone who’s reading this got a mysterious package of that book and is wondering who sent it, perhaps it was me!
Lots of changes happened in May to people I know including breaking up with their significant other, spouse passing away, starting to date again, getting a new job, moving, and coming to terms with how someone has beat them in the creation of an invention they spent years pursuing. These things take time to feel, perceive, and come to peace with, cherishing what you can from the past and blessing what’s beyond you.
And bam! That was the very epic May Monthly Memories with all its emotions, embellishings, and experience elaborations. My heart, mind, body, and spirit had a good workout and is ready to kick back and relax. What a ride!