I’m not sure why my mom first started coming here, but I suspect it’s because it is the closest tortillería. Every year for as long as I can remember, we come here to get forty pounds of masa preparada to make the annual tamales for New Year’s Eve. Over the years the building has changed colors from white with murals, to blue, green, and now orange. A testament to its heritage from a land that is not afraid of using bright colors on its buildings. Other than the change in color, time seems to have stood still at this place. You still order from the same windows inside a foyer (for lack of a better word) and through the black metal screen security doors you can get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes action, and in the background hiding in the dark there is always always a live tree decorated with a few strands of lights. I got lucky, because there is usually a long wait and cars stack parked behind each other, but today it was easy to get the masa.
It is around this time of year that I start thinking about doing something for an entire year. A picture a day seems to be the highest on my list, but it can also be a little time consuming. I paused my writing to waste time looking at cameras. I came back to writing on here determined to not waste more time and ultimately I would up looking at more cameras and settled for a new lens. It’s been over five years since I last bought a lens for myself. I ran into some financial trouble shortly after that and I ended up selling it along with a wide-angle lens I really liked. I’m definitely looking to start taking more pictures, but I’m not sure I want to make a 365 project out of it. My original 365 project started as a photo. I never completed it.
I’ve been lazy about writing. Truth be told, I’ve felt lazy about everything lately. I need to focus on eliminating unnecessary distractions from my life. Historically, social media has been a huge time suck for me but I’ve been mostly good about staying off of it these last few years. Occasionally, however, I stray. So at the moment I deleted all the social media apps from my phone. But let me know waste anymore time talking about wasting time.
What are the positive things I am doing with my life right now?
- I have been focusing on my health a lot more lately:
- Eating habits: I am trying to eliminate sugary drinks from my diet almost entirely. This is the easiest way to have hundreds if not thousands of calories sneak into your day.
- Physical activity: I am constantly on the lookout for ways to squeeze in a few extra steps or a quick exercise throughout the day. I have not found the motivation to workout for an hour at a specific time, so I am using the strategy of The Compound Effect. It’s a book about how the effect of small meaningful actions can add up to big results over time.
- I’ve been listening to audiobooks during my commute so I’m not just wasting my time sitting in traffic.
- I made small donations to both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Opera. In the personal finance books I read, I keep coming across the importance of giving back. I’ve been fortunate during this pandemic to have kept my job. So it’s only fair that “I play my part” (as the LA Phil likes to say) and provide my support for two organizations that I love and that have struggled through this pandemic.
I have more to say, of course, but my eye lids are starting to close…
There are times or circumstances where I feel that I am being tested. It’s hard to notice in the moment, but easy to see in retrospect. I think today I encountered another one of those situations and I failed. I am keeping this intentionally vague because it is a personal journey. There were many good things today and I could focus on this one thing an let it cloud the rest of the day. Instead I am acknowledging the failure and realize that I failed not because I am not good enough, but because I am not yet ready. I believe that too often we expect perfection of ourselves and carry our failures with us for far too long. Our lives are a journey of learning. It’s okay to strive for perfection, but we must realize that we are not there yet. We must recognize too that the road to perfection is paved with mistakes and failures. So lay those bricks or cobblestones down and continue forward.
We had been prepping for this day for a while now. I think we all wanted a sort of redemption for the horrible holiday season of last year. The biggest thing affecting the holidays last year was obviously the pandemic. On a more personal level, the holidays last year were derailed by my dad having to be rushed to the emergency room on Thanksgiving morning. He spent a week in the hospital at the time and what made it worse is that no visitors were allowed. The aweful winter surge was just beginning. So understandably, this year we wanted it to be much better.
This year, all of the family gathered and for the most part it was a great Thanksgiving. I even got to celebrate it twice! My dad unfortunately was not feeling well and was looking rather pale. We ended up taking him to the emergency room again the following morning and he spent 1 day in the hospital. It was not as scary as the previous time, but it was worrisome nonetheless. Turned out it was a complication from a side effect of a couple of medicines, but he is now home and well.
I did not get a chance to reflect on what I was thankful for on Thanksgiving Day this year. So I will do it here. I am grateful that my dad is still going strong at 95 years old, and that my family always comes together in times of need. We are united and we are strong.
Here are the pictures from the Grizzly Cafe in Wrightwood this past weekend. It’s a small town up in the mountains about 30 minutes away up a slow winding road into the mountains. I love the mountains and the way the city just fades into the distance and below. You’re high up above the city and yet the mountains still tower over you.
The snow is a little late this year, but the cold was certainly there. This restaurant has a lovely store with seasonal decorations and this weekend it looked as if Christmas had exploded. The daylight outside quickly faded away, and the warm glow of the lights inside made it all feel ever cozier. The food is standard comfort food and very delicious.
I want to come back and bring my parents next time once there’s snow.
Do you sometimes feel like just walking around with no real destination or route in mind? I feel like writing that way right now…
I got my booster (third) Moderna vaccine earlier today. Just like last time, I have had zero symptoms or side effects from the vaccine. Later in the day we drove up the mountains to have dinner at this lovely little restaurant. The temperature was quickly starting to drop towards freezing, but there is no sign of snow yet. I want to bring my parents back here once there’s snow. I need to do a post about it–even if it is only a bunch of pictures. The drive back was a bit scary as it was pitch black. The road illuminated by the headlights faded into nothingness ahead of us. On either side of us, there was an abyss with no way of telling if on either side of the road there were flat empty fields or huge 1,000 foot drop offs. I suspect the latter is probably closer to it.
Back home, I came across an email that told me I had not logged into my yahoo account in a very long time. I logged in and saw some emails from Flickr and I wandered to that site. My pictures from ages ago are still all there. I got a little nostalgic looking at them. I’m tempted to start posting on there, but very infrequently (perhaps once a week at most). There are so many thing I’d love to do, but tragically I don’t have the time to do them all. Even if I were to quit working I don’t think I would have enough time. I guess I should be grateful I was able to do the things I have even if no longer do.
The unthinkable happened. I requested six days of paid time off at once. I have so much paid time off accumulated that I was told I could no longer accumulate more and would need to start taking off or lose out on my PTO. So I am taking next Monday off to decorate my parents house with the help of some of my siblings. After last year’s awful Thanksgiving and Christmas season, we’re ready to pull out all the stops this year. The other five days I am taking off are during December. I was very strategic about these so that I can avoid going into the office between early December and early January.
I’m so excited about Christmas that I’ve already decorated my December section in my planners and I’ve penciled in a few things I’d like to do to celebrate the season. More than anything, I want to make sure I make a point of taking my out to places that are festively decorated for Christmas.
The other thing I was to do this Christmas is really take the time and reflect about the meaning of the season. I am afraid and embarrassed to admit that I want use the spirit of the season to get me closer to Jesus. Isn’t it tragic that I feel this way? I’m ashamed that I don’t have the courage to openly work on my Faith. With the mainstream world being intent on secularizing everything ridiculing Faith, I have felt a rekindling desire to go back to my Catholic upbringing. I know there are some fanatics out there and some teachings of the Church need to be updated, but there are far more good things than bad. I sincerely envy those people that are joyful about their Faith.
It’s been a while since I’ve written on here. Nearly a month! I don’t think I’ve gone this long without writing on here in well over a year and the interesting thing is that I felt perfectly fine not writing. I think a lot of it has to do with the move into the new house and the sale of the old one. So it has been a busy few weeks to say the least. The interesting thing is that I didn’t miss writing on here for the most part. Up until today.
I wrote the above about a week ago and again abandoned my little writings. I think it has partly to do with the fact that my routines have been changing. In the course of the last couple of months I moved to a new house, started going into the office a few days out of the week, and things have started to open up once again.
In the beginning of the pandemic, I wondered what it would be like once things were able to return to normal. As everyone know, this has been a very slow return to normal. It reminds me of a wildfire. You see smoke in the distance and before you know it the flames are racing toward you and everything goes up in flames. You look at the charred landscape as if it will forever remain that way and the world as it once was exists only in your mind. Then the wildlife slowly begins to return as seedlings everywhere begin to emerge from the ashes. Eventually it all starts to look lush again. Not exactly as before, but it’s getting there.
It’s strange to go to the LA Philharmonic or the LA Opera and be wearing a mask the entire time, but it’s refreshing to be able to experience the music once again. Our world continues to be ill, but it is on the mend.
Today, we accepted an offer for the previous home! It feels a little surreal, but more on that later.