Tag Archives: Life

My ode to the everyday mundane

Let’s see. What did I do on Thursday?
6:15AM. Meditated for about 20 minutes before getting up and going to the bathroom.
7-7:45AM. Spent some time writing. My first novel is nearly complete, but it has been harder to see real progress writing in 30-45 minute spurts per day. Still, I’ll take it!
7:45AM. Made and ate my delicious breakfast.

Fresh lemon juice being squeezed in my water. Maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon in my oatmeal as it cooks. Puerto Rican coffee brewing. These are the comfort smells I bask in every weekday morning. And the sun coming through the windows this morning was glorious, too.

8:30AM. Walked into my 4-year-old son’s room with a huge smile on my face, telling him how delighted I was to see him, how much I love him, how precious he is to me.
8:33AM. Walked out of son’s room and closed the door while he threw a bit of a hissy fit, refusing to get out of bed, demanding cocoa rice crisps for breakfast. I had made oatmeal. Not happening, buddy.
Went back in his room a short while later, struck a deal with him, and got him to calm down.
8:40AM. Helped him get dressed, came downstairs.
8:45AM. Started a load of laundry.
8:50AM. Served my son his oatmeal with berries for breakfast. Sat and played with him with his globe and world map. While he happily devoured his oatmeal.

The button for Spain on the globe isn’t working well. Should I read anything into this? I can’t help laughing every time he complains, “Spain isn’t working!”

9:30AM. Baked a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars, with the help of my sweet boy. These guys I live with have an incredible sweet tooth. As much as possible, I try to have something homemade every week to satisfy that. Just because they have a sweet tooth doesn’t mean they should eat crap. Wait. Did I just sound a little bit like Gwyneth Paltrow? Poor woman’s had a rough week. Yet I still like her.

One bowl. No sifting. No electric mixers. And you should have smelled it baking–holy mother of G. See that little hand in the upper right hand corner, stealing a few chocolate chips? Two minutes later came the question, “Now can I have cocoa crisps?” For about the 20th time. At 9:30 in the morning.

10AM. Washed all the dishes from breakfast and baking.
Absently answered yes when boy asked if he could use his scissors to practice cutting up a piece of paper. Realized later that the piece of paper was a to-do list that my husband and I started back in February. We had gotten through most of the things, but there were a few items left to check off.

Who needs checklists anyway.

10:30AM. Began to make dinner. Tex Mex pasta salad with corn and roasted shrimp. Allowed little man to watch Finding Nemo in Spanish. Kept mum when he declared repeatedly that Dory is Nemo’s mom. He has not watched the opening scene of the movie. We’ve tried telling him Dory is a friend. He insists she’s his mother. That’s okay for now.

Wish I’d had lime and black beans. Still though …! And it was dinner for two nights.

11:30AM. Washed dishes from dinner prep.
12PM. Heated up rice for boy’s lunch. Heated up a veggie “chicken” patty for me. Ate lunch together while playing some more with the globe, and trying to talk on the phone with my parents.
12:45PM. Washed lunch dishes, while, again, trying to talk to my mother on the phone.
1PM. Folded laundry.
1:25PM. Sat down with my after-lunch cup of green tea. Played with my son a little more. Talked to him about weekdays vs. weekend days, and who’s who in our family. (“La mamá de Mamá se llama Abuela Norma,” etc.) This week he can’t get enough of maps, calendar days, and family trees. It’s an improvement over last week, after his trip to the hospital (documented in previous blog post HERE), when he wanted to have entire conversations about vomiting.
2PM Took the boy upstairs for his “naptime/quiet time.” Sometimes he sleeps. Those are the only times he is quiet. Spent some time singing and cuddling with him, practicing more words and spelling. Thought about how I will miss our afternoon cuddles once he starts school full time.
2:45PM Laid down in my own bed for my own bit of quiet time. Half-meditated. Half-napped. Half-tried not to be mad at my boy for being so loud while he played in his room. Hang on, I’m up to thirds now, not halves. Oh whatever. At least he was staying in his room!
3:20PM The little man actually fell asleep. Wow, that means I have a bit more time! Came downstairs. Began blog post. Downloaded and sorted all the photos I took for it. Treated myself to this.

The secret is to use a lot more chocolate chips than the recipe calls for. That way it looks like very little dough with a gooey, dense chocolate filling running all through the center. I think I nailed it.
Worked on photos and blog post for about an hour, while in the background (on the TiVo), Oprah interviewed Eckhart Tolle.
4:55PM. Got boy up from nap. Watched Dora the Explorer.

5:30PM. Awesome husband came home. I decided to forgo the day’s workout.
6PM. Washed and dried my hair. Good thing I had saved up my energy for that.

You think this hair happens naturally? Actually, it looked nicer before I got rained on. Ah well.

6:50PM. Ate delicious pasta salad with a glass of white wine.
Loved watching my guys enjoying the oatmeal chocolate chip bars.
7:30PM. Continued work on blog post while husband washed dishes.
7:55PM Placed Amazon order for robot-themed thank-you notes, for the gifts my son received at his birthday party last weekend.
8PM. Went upstairs. Put away clean laundry and laid out clothes for son and me for preschool Friday morning, while husband gave boy his bath.
8:15PM. Sat with husband and boy while they read Nemo together. Laughed with them every time Dory speaks whale. Nemo is popular in our house this week.
Said bedtime prayers.
8:55PM. Felt like winding down after boy went to bed, so I watched some TV. Celebrity Ghost Stories. Oh yeah baby.
10:30PM. Teeth brushed. In bed. Wrote in my journal. Read from the novel I am currently reading, Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. Realized how much I am enjoying the book, wished briefly I felt a little more awake at that hour. But hey, I was the one who chose watching Celebrity Ghost Stories over reading Orphan Train, thus reasserting that balance where low-brow just beats out high-brow stimulation at the end of most days for me.
Tried saying a more few prayers/having a few more thoughts of goodness before falling asleep around 11 o’clock.

Somewhere along the way, I also wrote several emails and texts. I also wondered how my living room got to be such a mess, when it was tidy just one week ago. I never left the house. Had little contact with people outside my family. I had very few adult conversations, and the few that I had did not have any particular depth or sophistication. I wore sweats all day, until I “upgraded” to jeans for dinner, after my shower.

Why am I sharing this? I don’t think an average day of mine is any more interesting or busy than yours. Taking a note from Eckhart Tolle, I think that trying to be interesting is kind of like trying to be good, or witty or sophisticated or PC and tolerant. There better be something there to back it up, or people eventually notice. So I try to not try. And I know you’ve probably been subjected to the occasional Aren’t-I-fahscinating Facebook post by someone you know. I have, too! Nor do I think myself superior for choosing to be at home full time; let’s please not go there.

March hasn’t exactly been an uneventful month in our family, with a series of health crises and scares. I’ve talked about some of them, and some I haven’t. My day was nothing more than an average, routine, busy day at home. It was gloriously uneventful, and for that I am grateful. That’s all!

Oh. Of course I caved and let him have cocoa rice crisps. It was his mid-morning snack. After baking, before Finding Nemo, seated at the table. Take heed, boys and girls. If you change your tactic from whining to asking for what you want ever so politely and sweetly, over, and over, and over again, you’re likely to have much better luck getting it!

But wait! It’s Saturday afternoon, and I am writing these lines two days after I started the blog post. So. This happened yesterday.

Remember how my boy and his globe with the malfunctioning Spain button have been inseparable? Well, he accidentally dropped the damn thing on his foot. Noooo! Ugh, man.

So far, no urgent medical intervention has been required. Not that it won’t be; I plan to take him on Monday if it still looks and hurts this bad. Hey, at least we avoided the ER this time! And until Monday, we are keeping the kiddo off his feet, and keeping the toenail clean, with plenty of ice on. It’s a rainy weekend in DC. Good for staying at home on the couch. Guess what movie is playing downstairs–first in Spanish, now in English–at the close of this blog post … ? We are now a household with varying degrees of proficiency in English, Spanish, and Whale.

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Report: Week One of Writing “Boot Camp”

 

So.
Yes.
My new novel-writing schedule of ninety minutes a day, six
days a week has been kicking my Puerto Rican behind. There are many, many
logistical issues, which are not to be underestimated.
But one concept that has really been at the forefront for me
this week has been what I am going to refer to as tolerance of ambiguity. I first became formally familiar with this
concept in my first year of graduate school. I was in a class about teaching
Spanish as a second/foreign language, and tolerance of ambiguity was discussed
as a powerful indicator of a successful foreign language learner. Though I
wasn’t consciously aware of it in my first experience as this type of learner, I
know I must have used tolerance of ambiguity very successfully in some form or
another when I learned English as a young child when Spanish was my first
language. Basically, you know you are occupying one room at a time in a large building
full of many other rooms, most of which remain dark and closed off to you. But
you push through, putting in the time and
plenty of elbow grease, until eventually all the rooms have been opened and lit up brilliantly for you, and you have been
granted the power to move in and out of them with complete freedom. As a
bilingual who also happens to speak a few other languages with varying degrees
of ability, I can tell you, there is a very real sense of transcendence when this
happens.
Since learning to apply the concept of tolerance of
ambiguity to language learning, I have also applied it in many other areas of my
life. You accept the unknown, bide your time, and continue to work through it.
I often deployed it when I was dating. And I still do anytime I read a novel, a
suspenseful story where every chapter is a cliffhanger. Or when I meet
a new person that I can’t read and what I would really like is to be able to
“figure them out.” Going on a trip to a brand new place. Starting anything new. Parenthood! Parenthood and
accepting the unknown: Subject for another time.
Writing my first novel is challenging my tolerance of
ambiguity in many new fun—and annoying—ways. And it’s different from
cliffhanger chapters in a book I am reading. Because that is a finished product
where the resolution to the ambiguity has been built in already. By someone
else, thank you. My only investment is in turning the pages. And it’s an easy
one ultimately, because in those cases, generally speaking, I know the unknowns have been resolved,
the loose ends nicely woven together.
But now that it is my
work to do the weaving? My mystery “building”
where most rooms are still closed off and in the dark? These are just some of
the questions/issues I have confronted this week:
Where will one particular story line go?
How, exactly, do the different story lines come together
toward the end? Right now they are like hoses that are flailing around waiting
for me to tame them, to tie them together, perhaps not in one perfectly
straight line, but in something that at least resembles a cohesive whole.
Am I going to end up getting rid of this entire scene anyway?
So why am I focusing on it this long?
When should this or that issue be introduced? How much does this character know/see?
For the characters that need to die, how, exactly, will they
die? (I’m like Emma Thompson in the movie Stranger
Than Fiction
, only she is a chain-smoking Brit and I am a nonsmoking Puerto
Rican. Yes, because that’s the only difference.)
How much am I willing to piss off my would-be readers by
hinting at things that don’t get spelled out for several chapters? Do I even
have it in me to build this kind of tension like this?
Will this ever be a finished product that I will hold in my
hands? Will anyone else, besides my husband, my parents, and my siblings, ever hold
it in their hands?
One day I wrote 1800 words. One day I wrote just over 900.
Some days I stare at the computer with the beginnings of a stomachache because nothing! is coming to me. Other times my
fingers on the keyboard can’t keep up with what I am thinking, and I start getting antsy and making
notes in different places and wondering when I am going to have time to get
back to these notes, how I am going to find them all, and maybe if I spent more
time WRITING and less time thinking and making notes I wouldn’t have to wonder
this in the first place.
Again, these are just some of the questions. But I accept
them because I have seen the payoff, time and again, of embracing the unknown
and tolerating moments—or years—of ambiguity. And the truth is I feel so alive
as I do this that that is enough. This
is its own payoff in this moment of uncertainty. Not simply because it has to
be, but because, actually, it is!

Photo quote from http://www.stephenking.com/community/showthread.php/21675-Best-Stephen-King-Quotes/page5

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