I woke up this morning craving a dish called chicken divan. My mom’s recipe includes broccoli, chicken, mayonnaise, cream of mushroom soup, lemon juice, shredded cheese, and bread crumbs. It is a total comfort food indulgence. My mom made this recipe for years, and it has always been one of my favorites. Steaming hot served over white rice; there’s hardly anything better on a cold winter night. So, I went on a hunt to find the recipe. She had initially seen it in The Boston Globe decades ago and had clipped it out. After many years, she put it in a plastic sleeve to protect it. After looking for that for a long time, I came up empty-handed and saddened thinking I’d never be able to replicate it without that aged and yellowed piece of newspaper. Finally, in the last place I looked, I spotted a newer white notecard with “chicken divan” written in her handwriting. Then I remembered, during her final years, she started handwriting out recipes that she knew I liked so I would be able to make them once she was no longer here. Holding it and looking at it, I expected to feel sadness. But I didn’t. It was more of a feeling of comfort. She was thinking ahead to this moment. My mom is still taking care of me, and that has comforted me more than the dinner I am going to curl up on the sofa tonight and eat.
My last post was pretty intense, and I think it might have given the wrong impression. Overall, I had a great birthday on Sunday. I did eat birthday cake, which was delicious. And I opened two cookbooks from my sister which I’ve had fun looking through and planning future meals with. It was just that moment of time when I looked at my cake where I was just inundated with memories of birthdays of old. From childhood to adulthood, 46 birthdays that I had with my mom. The one that really stood out in my mind was 1999. She had had a very close call with blood poisoning the summer of 1998 and was still recovering by the time January rolled around. When I came downstairs that morning, there sitting on the kitchen counter was an orange with a burning candle sticking out of it. She knew she wasn’t able to bake a cake, so she improvised. She thought it was a silly gesture, but it meant more to me than she ever knew. I knew this birthday would be a difficult day, but I thought it wouldn’t be harder than my mom’s birthday or Christmas had been. It was just looking at that cake that caused a very large burble of primal grief to come rushing to the surface of my consciousness. The intensity of the feelings and emotions were just so overwhelming and caught me off guard completely. At that moment, I missed her so terribly and felt the rawness of that loss. That rawness stuck with me into the next day when it expressed itself in that poem. I posted it because I’ve come to see my blog as a safe space to express what I’m going through; the good and the bad. To be honest, it’s the first time I’ve felt so safe to say what is on my mind so freely. So, in a roundabout way, this post is a thank you to all of you who have accepted me into your worlds and lives. Like that birthday orange, you will never know the full extent of what that has meant to me.
This week I’ve been working on my final exam for a general transcription course that I’ve been taking. The final exam consists of seven reports I have to transcribe and send in to be graded. If I receive an average score that is above 80%, I will be offered an internship at a transcription company and possibly a job. It has been amazing how the croaky voice of self-doubt has been continuously whispering in my ear the entire time. Why are our brains hardwired to question ourselves when we are trying to move forward in our lives? Stepping into the unknown can be nerve-wracking enough without having a voice in your head saying, “You can’t do this,” and every variation of this negative thinking. It puts you at what seems like an impasse. You have two choices: the first is to remain where and who you are, in the safety of your current situation or you can fight through the blockade of doubt and move forward towards a new future. I’ve put my construction hat on and have been blasting through the uncertainty and trying to get through my exam despite the incessant voice in my head. It hasn’t been easy, though. I’ve done more procrastinating then I care to admit but I know I need to complete this exam. This need to see this through is a greater force than the doubt. I’m being propelled forward by dreams and goals that I have for myself, and those two things cannot exist in the past, only in the future.
Update: I got my first exam back and got an A- on it! One down, six to go….fingers crossed.
Today is exactly one year since I posted my first blog entry. When I first started, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to share with the world. Some of it survived the first year, while other ideas died a rapid death (earworm interpretation, ring any bells?). It’s funny how this year can feel like it lasted a lifetime and also as though it passed in the blink of an eye. So much happened in my life. The biggest thing, of course, being the passing of my mother in May. I lived with her for 13 years and was her full-time caregiver.
Losing her was a profound loss for me and adjusting to living alone for the first time in my life has been extremely hard and will continue to be a challenge moving forward into 2019. I’ve been so thankful to have my blog. It has been a place where I can go and be creative or write about what is going on in my life. I feel safe here, and that’s a beautiful sense to have. This blog has made me stop and take time to look at the world in ways I probably wouldn’t have if I weren’t in a more creative frame of mind. The poems I’ve written this year, I feel, have been some of my best work and I’ve been proud to post them here for you to read. That’s one of the biggest things I learned in my first year as a blogger. When I first started, my goal was to post something every day. I quickly realized that when I tried to post something I wasn’t proud of I felt like I am giving my audience the respect you deserved. Posting something every day isn’t what’s important. What is essential is being patient with myself and creating something I can be proud of.
This year will hold even more changes for me. I’m actively looking for transcription jobs to help support myself while turning my attention more towards writing stories, poems, and books for publication. I want to share my creativity on a broader stage and hopefully gain more followers here as well. I’m so excited to see where this journey takes me this next year, and I look forward to sharing it with all of you.