I grew up not liking real food. I ate Kraft Macaraoni and Cheese (“Kraft Dinner,” insists my Canadian husband), McDonald’s hamburgers, Arby’s sandwiches, spaghetti smothered in Ragu that was pushed through a strainer to remove any pesky onions, and, when my father was left in charge, grilled American cheese on white bread drowned in margaraine. The more processed, the better.
All of these things are tasty, don’t get me wrong — we’ve gotten awfully crafty as a country at creating food-stuff that looks, smells, and manages to trick our taste buds into believing it’s better than the real deal. The food choices certainly aren’t my parents’ faults, either. What are two adults to do with a kid who insists her plate only be colored from the beige spectrum (My mother has a not-so-fond story of a day spent making strew for her picky child which culminated in tears from both parties)? It used to be a joke that all my nutrition came in earth tones, but now that my eyes have opened and my taste buds are surrendering, I no longer see the humor!
My personal food revolution came when I started working as a paper shuffler for a construction company in Temecula. I made fast friends, all of which were eager to stuff new fruits and vegetables down my throat as soon as they found out I’d been so anti-nutrition for over twenty years. I learned to relish sun-warmed strawberries fresh out of the garden and learned the perfect time to dive into a pear. I began loving the burst of sweetness awarded after popping a cherry into my mouth. Bananas and apples were no longer my bread and butter — I learned that the fruit family had many, many branches.
In the span of three years, I went from a diet of steak and chicken with mashed potatoes as my vegetable, to full fledged vegetarian (still striving to make all vegan choices). It’s been a full fix months without meat and, as I hover on the cusp of turning twenty-nine years, I’m certain I won’t go back. The challenge entertains me. I’m interested in trying new ways of fixing old dishes to be healthy and responsible.
I’m also interested in amusing my mother by doing a complete one-eighty right in front of her eyes.
“Mom, I love peaches!” I say.
And if she were that type of person, she’d answer with, “Well, duh.” Instead, she just shakes her head and smiles.
A year ago, my dear friend Kathy made the New Years Resolution to “live more creatively.” While that set the tone for her creative goals that year, what she probably didn’t realize is it set the tone for the rest of my life. What a concept! To spend at least one moment each day touching something and changing it forever. A stroke of paint, a few stitches on a knit scarf, or, as was my hobby long before I picked up knitting or scrapbooking: a few lines of fiction.
My first true creative love is writing. It started with elaborate stories brought to life with twelve inch plastic dolls, then rocketed into the online community at age thirteen. Ever since then I’ve done some form of writing, whether it be lengthy collaborative fiction or small snippets whenever I’m feeling verbose. Lately, the writing has stalled. I like to blame the nine-to-five and a pending home displacement, but I think I stopped practicing even earlier.
As it turns out, I prefer team projects. Writing for hours with another person, sitting on the floor and stringing beads onto a snowflake totem of sorts, or grander whimsy like the fully staffed, non-profit haunted house we used to put on at my brother’s every Halloween. I also like challenges. Not that writing will ever get old, but it’s easier to have a project I can pick up or put down without worrying too much about losing my train of thought. So: I began knitting.
I wish the start of that story involved a little more passion, but really knitting was something to keep my hands busy while I watched television or sat around chatting with friends so I wouldn’t shovel snacks into my mouth. Kathy taught me to knit a few years ago and after two really horrible projects (the first a scarf littered with so many dropped stitches I’d convinced myself I could still finish and artfully string beads in the gaps and the second a blue scarf turned accidental superhero cape), I finally got the hang of it. Now, just like anything, I’ve jumped head-first into the world of fibercraft. I collect yarn like some collect stamps. I long for full sets of every needle type and lazy afternoons spent knitting with friends. I love the clever way the needles slide the stitch up and over every time and the noise metal ones make (much like Christmas!) versus the warm feel of the bamboo. Yarn is my security blanket. I even bring it to work and perch it on the corner of my desk – eager to answer questions, share stitch-stories and gaze upon the work I’ve completed whenever things feel a little too overwhelming at the concrete dispatch desk.
Mostly, it’s a constant surprise and reminder: “I did that!”
I know it won’t always be knitting. There will be another project that consumes my soul someday, but as long as I stay true and “live more creatively,” I think that will keep me satisfied. I’m learning with every stitch on my needle, every photograph in my scrapbook, and every word on this page, that my life isn’t about rushing through the first twenty-or-so years to accomplish what I will be doing for the next eighty. It’s about remaining fluid and passionate about whatever adventure lies ahead: in the workplace, in my family, or in the next ball of yarn I rescue.
I’m a twenty-nine-year-old Leo who lives in Murrieta, California. I’m married to a Canadian man who left his country and his furniture to be with me three-and-a-half years ago. Our children are all furry, except for the turtle. He likes comic books and video games and is hoping to make a career out of the latter. I’m hoping so, too, because I’d like to spend my days writing, sipping coffee, and rebuilding our vegetable garden. When I’m not dreaming, I have a desk job at a construction company in Temecula. And while I never pictured myself working in construction, the job has afforded me some of the most wonderful friends a girl could ask for. I wouldn’t trade a second of it (Please remind me of this post when one of my field guys calls and it sounds like his cellphone is in his mouth. Again).
Often, I want to wear birkenstocks and prance through tall grass fields with a flower wreath in my hair… but my husband has one strong hand around my fictional hemp-braceleted wrist and is bribing me out of Hippeville by dangling iTechnology in front of my eyes. So far, it’s working.
Monique has a fierce talent in both the kitchen and the office that I admire. She’s taught me so much in our few years as paper-pushing friends. I never know what’s going to come out of her mouth (though, usually my bet is on a snide remark to our shared boss – all in good fun, Edgar!). We make a funny pair, visually – she’s a foot shorter than I – but she can be a force to be reckoned with. I’m happy to call her my friend and, now, my blogging partner.
My personal hope for this blog is to keep a public diary on my food and crafting triumphs and failures. I want to look back a week, month, or year from now and see growth in my writing, in my photography and in my relationship with food. Being held accountable by an audience, whether it be large or just with Monique, will keep me on task.
Ultimately, this is going to be fun!