Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting Ready for Halloween

Fall
Fall has come and gone too fast. This pretty display lasted all of a week before a big storm blew all the leave away.
Fall
Crisp air + bright colors = bliss.
Senior center
Edward went trick-o-treating with his friends at an assisted living center last week.
Carving pumpkin
Carving a pumpkin with daddy!
Carving pumpkin
Pumpkin guts!
Halloween
After several costume fails, we finally found one that works. Edward will be Iron Man this year. I'll post Halloween pics after the weekend!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Encounters of the Coffee Bean Sorts

A repost from seven (!!) years ago. I can't believe I've been blogging in some shape or form for that many years. #wheredoesthetimego #old


When all my Coffee Bean stories involve either ridiculously gorgeous A-listers or repulsively smelly and aggressive bums, it is easy to forget that the majority of customers I deal with on a day-to-day basis are remarkably ordinary. For every celebrity that I serve a cup of coffee to (hold the sugar and cream, please), I make a hundred more drinks for college students, medical staff, and desperate housewives. While most people come into our humble little store dab in the middle of Westwood Village in a hurry to get their caffeine fix, we do get people who like to linger around our open patio with their steaming cappuccinos in hand, recounting the good ol’ days with friends…well, kind of but you get the idea. We get families who take a refresher break from their Sunday strolls, high schoolers who all meet up after class to gossip and hold hands, and of course we have the couple and first-date types. I mean, a coffee store couldn’t be a better place to have a first date-- it is an outdoor public area for that extra personal safety insurance, it is a mutual meeting spot so neither party need feel obliged to take the date any further, and if things get awkward during the conversation, you can always take another sip from your latte or pick at the grounds in your coffee, swirl them around, whatever.

That’s probably what Samantha had in mind when she and her date chose to meet up at Coffee Bean late one afternoon when the weather was being indecisive, hovering somewhere between the most beautiful autumn day to the darkest of winter storms. I was the manager on duty that shift, you know, doing my usual important manager duties like bad mouthing a customer whom I didn’t know was still in the store or hiding the tip jar whenever a bum would come in, when she called our store.

“Coffee Bean on Westwood this is Christine (I’m sorta important) speaking how can I help you?” I say it just like that in one breath.

“Um, I am supposed to meet up with someone here today but I am stuck in traffic and I don’t have his cell phone number.” Wha? What era where you born in? Is this a first date? Better yet, you guys met on the Internet, bonded over late night sessions on AIM, and this is the face-to-face meeting that will change everything. I totally get it now.

“Can you please just let him know that I am on my way? That I am really coming but will be twenty minutes late.”

“Yeah, sure,” I say because I am nice like that. “What does he look like?”

“He is middle-aged, Iranian… His name is Rahaaj.”

“Ok well, why don’t we take down your name and number just in case and I will make sure to let him know that you are going to be here.”

So that was more or less how the conversation went down and I spent the next few minutes scanning the store for a Rahaaj. Being a Middle Eastern forty-something doesn’t say much about this man I was looking for because we have a lot of people like that here in L.A. and I never have quite figured it out—are Iranians supposed to be the ones with light skin or dark skin? Man, the things they don’t teach me in college. I nonetheless went back to doing my very important manager duties (actually, steaming milk for a cappuccino if you must know) when this guy comes in. He was rather dashing with his black leather jacket and meticulously groomed facial hair, definitely qualifying him as a Rahaaj contender. He looked around the store with quick eyes and proceeded to walk the perimeter of our complex, pausing only to check his cell phone for missed calls. As I continued to steam the milk, he walked back into the store and I just knew that man was searching for a Sam.

Um, sir… this lady called for you just now. She sounded very nice and pretty and she just wanted to let you know that she is coming. I could barely choke those words out. I was afraid of how awkward things could be if he wasn’t looking for a Sam and I panicked. Plus the milk was almost reaching its peak temperature of 160 degrees and couldn’t be left unattended. No, Sam had my word and she must see him tonight. There he was looking for someone he may have waited all his life for, that special someone who makes your hiney tingle and your face blush incessantly, that someone who will always be the one to say you’ve done alright, that someone you recognize in a white see of eyes (name that song!). And there I fully knew where Sam was and that she was coming so Gosh dang it I will tell Rahaaj! That she is lovely and can’t wait to see you in person. That she has been stuck in traffic all afternoon but it didn’t matter. She just wants to be with you. Forever.

And then, just like that, he walked out of the store and disappeared into the hazy bustle of the city, never to come back. I thought Dang it, I hesitated just a moment too long when a moment is sometimes all you have and while I felt silly for involving myself into a customer’s private life, it was my business. I don’t know if Sam ever did make it to the store, but I know I failed her. She trusted an intimate part of her life with me and it was in my hands to make things better, to give her peace about this man she has been so patient to meet.

Rahaaj, I am so sorry. I should have ran after you with such a vengeance as if you were THE man that God has been preparing me a lifetime for and say to you, The wait is finally over, sweet love. I am here and you’ve found me.


letgo

Monday, October 13, 2014

An Announcement

Let's start with the not-so-good news. I've sent out close to 30 queries for my book and have received 8 rejections. But today I received a nicer rejection that was a bit more than the usual "No thanks, not for me" email people get. The agent said my query was well-written and even though she doesn't have the band-width to take on my book, she thinks other agents will request pages from me. I'll take that as a sign I am at least headed in the right direction. As I've said in my last post, this is going to be one heck of a ride for me. I've felt up and down about the process but overall, I feel okay. It is actually a huge relief to be done with the book. I am able to spend more time being domestic. I've been cooking and inviting kids over...things I haven't been able to do for a while as I was wrapping up the book. I can just sit back and enjoy life for a bit. It's...nice.

So on to my "announcement." Four years ago, I started writing a story about the whole roller-coaster ride that was being pregnant with my son. I posted my chapters as they came on my old blog but stopped after fourteen chapters because of internal and external chaos I was dealing with in my life. Back then, I wasn't strong or persistent enough to follow through on things I really wanted to complete. What the last few years have given me is a groundedness that has allowed me to accomplish a huge dream of mine: write a book. Yes, I've completed a 78,000 word novel that I am pretty darn happy with and it took every ounce of will-power and self-motivation to get there. As I continue on this journey to *hopefully* publish it, I am ready to take on a new adventure. Low and behold, I am still drawn to this crazy amazing therapy I call writing and I still want to write. So...I AM GOING TO FINISH THE BABY STORY ONCE AND FOR ALL. And not just finish it, I am going to rewrite it from the beginning and extend the story beyond our Los Angeles lives to when we moved across the country to upstate NY. I will start writing it on November 1st and my goal is to finish it by King's Edward's fifth birthday next May. I am still deciding on whether or not I want to post chapters on this blog as I write them like I did for my last blog. Whatever I end up doing, it's going to get done. It's time. I need my closure. I need to move on.


Small harvest

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I keep going to the river to pray.

I'm sort of obsessed with Ella Henderson's song, Ghost. Yeah, I know. I'm a bit late to the party. Moving on...

On October 1st, I started my agent querying process. What this means is I have written a one-page letter begging asking agents to give my manuscript a chance. The best thing that can come out of this step is an agent will email me back wanting to read a portion of my manuscript or the whole thing. From there, said agent may or may not like the book. Let's say said agent does like the book and wants to represent the book. Then we will probably spend many more months doing more editing on the book before said agent will try to sell it to a publisher. Let's say a miracle happens and a publisher wants the book. A year or two may pass. I'll probably edit even more while the people at the publishing house work on marketing and book cover ideas and all the other literary stuff that those people work on. So if by the grace of God I somehow land an agent for this book, we may or may not (remember, the agent can't always sell the book) see it on the bookshelves in 2017. So how are my chances looking? Pretty good, right?

I've queried twenty agents since October 1st and have received two rejections. I don't take the rejections personally but the one I got tonight did throw me for a bit. The whole I've-spent-the-last-two-years-working-on-something-that-may-never-amount-to-anything reality is starting to sink in. I've been pretty delusional ever since moving to rural NY and giving big cities and corporate American the middle finger. I've all but disappeared from social media and the like minus my miniscule and quiet presence on this blog. No, I don't hate people and I am not hiding from the world. I am actually more in love with life than ever but I couldn't get here without getting here independently so no one and nothing can ever take my happiness and purpose away from me again. I've been on a path for the first time in my life finding my true self and purpose without the influence and noise from all the commotion around me. I needed a lot of space to reset and recalibrate, to find meaning in my journey without bringing along my past or the ways I've been conditioned. So even if nothing comes from my book, it wasn't for naught.

Because in the patient ritual of writing, I've found answers I didn't know I was looking for. And in those answers, I've found my peace and salvation. I am healed. Sometimes we just have to be that delusional to break free from what's been holding us back so we may take a huge step toward the one thing most people don't fight hard enough to keep: our dreams.


Fall
Fall is in full swing here in our neck of the woods.
Fall 2
After the rain, a tri-color sky.
Fall 2
My babes and I are still going to yoga on Sundays.
Toes
Stretch those toes out!
Fall 2
Babes surprised me by decorating our house with vinyl Halloween stickers. The stickers should have been sticky but they are a few years old so babes found some tape and taped the stickers on our windows all on his own.
Fall 2
My fall dinner tonight: Chicken French and rooted vegetables.
Apples 2
A picture I forgot to share from apple picking last week--MAGIC!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunsets and Change

Yay for fall and all the hope and possibilities a new season brings.

Oh, and further proof I pretty much live on a farm now. Yep.


Apple
A quick drive out of my "rural" development brings us to open fields.
Apple
Silos everywhere!
Apple
My babes contemplating life before we go apple picking.
Apple 4
The apple orchard just as the sun is setting.
Apple 3
Is there anything better than children playing in an open field?
Apple 3
Pixies sent from above.
Apple 5
The hills roll for miles.
Apple 5
Babes doing an inventory of our loot.
Apple 4
Apple pie, anyone?
Apple 6
Dancing on a hay bale on a Friday night. Bliss. Wait, what have I let my life become?!? ;-)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Calm.

Sorry I've been a bit sporadic with my blog posting lately. I am wrapping up my novel manuscript--FINALLY! I am on my third rewrite and I still have one more editing pass to go before I am ready to query it. It's not so much that I am spending a lot of time working on it these days (I feel like the hard work has already been done). It's more a case of me having a ton of mental burden thinking about it all the time as I prepare to release this puppy into the world. The whole writing process has completely transformed me and even if nothing comes from this project, I am happy with my accomplishment and thankful I got to take this sort of sabbatical from the real world to indulge in my personal pursuits. I will definitely post more about how this book came about and what my life has been like the last two years while I was working on it. For now, here are some pictures of my baby at a yoga class we took together last weekend.


Yoga class
Before our class began, babes showed me a pose he picked up from me.
Yoga class
Excited and ready for class.
Yoga 2
We did a lot of sensory games. One of them was picking up pom poms with our toes.
Yoga 2
Pom poms everywhere!
Yoga 2
Final relaxation complete with a warm blanket, lavender eye mask, and a glass bead representing the third eye that we have supposedly awaken during our practice.
Yoga 2
In certain angles I catch a glimpse of the handsome boy my fella will grow up to be one day. ;)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Toronto 2.0

I love Toronto. It's just one of those nice big cities I NEED to visit every few months to get my city grit fix. It is three hours from us so a weekend trip is always a welcome treat. The last time we went was during my sister's visit. We went again on Labor Day to catch Derek Jeter's last Canadian games before he retires from baseball. Truth be told, I'm not really into baseball but if that's what it takes to get me to Toronto, I'm there. 

Toronto 2
The Rogers Centre.
Toronto
Edward enjoyed watching.
Toronto
The CN Tower.
Toronto 4
Hanging out with Grandpa.
Toronto
Posing with some cool hockey dudes.
Toronto 7
We passed by the Hockey Hall of Fame but didn't go in it.
Toronto 7
The building is incredible!
Toronto 7
This sculpture is called The Immigrant Family. It did something to my heart so we took a picture with it.
Toronto 6
We ducked into a bar for some refreshments after the first game. Better to grab a beer than to sit in traffic!
Toronto 6
This time, instead of staying at King Edward's Hotel, we stayed at One King West. Both places were really nice.
Toronto 6
The city at twilight...what can be better?
Toronto 6
Something about Canadians and their love of hockey...
Toronto 9
Edward during the U.S. National Anthem, My heart be still.
Toronto 9
The Blue Jays did a nice tribute for Derek.
Toronto 10
Not going to lie, it was emotional watching his career highlights. Such an inspiration when you see people who have lived on a higher vibrational frequency.
Toronto 11
Edward just loves his dad so much.
Toronto 12
During this trip, I discovered seriously the best grocery store ever. They had tons of organic food but the best part was this vertical plant wall that was by the checkout area.
Toronto 12
Driving back to good ol' Rochester. Chasing the sunset...
School 7
A few days later, Edward started his first day of school. I was a bit emotional but we are all good now. Plus this was only preschool...wait until he starts Kindergarten!
School 6
We bought him this lunch box at the Mexican airport. He needs to pack a snack every day.
School 6
For the first day, I was a super good mom and packed him healthy treats. He only ate one almond at school so from now on, it's going to be packs of gummies and energy bars! Oh well...