Following the recent Writing Retreat Weekend, I take a little time-out—about a week long—from trying to write my way out my log jam of thoughts. Instead, I take a long, overcast walk on the beach with a friend, and give the back of my mind a chance to possibly make some unconscious progress. Also, in my on-going search for a Parisian-style baguette in Vancouver, I come close to finding one at the market when I try “A Bread Affair” bakery’s “Naked baguette traditionnalle”. I enjoy it for dinner one evening with some organic butter, smoked mackerel from the Granville Island market, and a tomato salad with mixed greens, basil and cilantro from my herb garden, and some cooked spinach.
Likewise, while on the prowl for various duck meats for the French salade Landaise—which I featured in my final story post from Paris and reported in my return to Vancouver story post as being a challenge to assemble here—I decide to give the gizzard-containing chicken giblets a try instead. I may need to try cooking them in water for about an hour next time, instead of frying them up like chicken livers, to see if I get a better, softer result. Though edible, the giblets are rather knuckly in texture, such that the steamed peas and asparagus, with a side of tomato and mixed greens salad, make a welcome completion of that dish.
The following weekend, I organise a 3-hr mini writing retreat with a friend at the Vancouver Public Library. With this dedicated book-writing time, and the week-long time-out I had given my conscious mind, I return to more actively working my way through the challenging point in my story that has been demanding much of my current energy. Having decided to do so during the recent Writing Retreat Weekend, I print about 75 pages of notes and narrative writing, and begin reading and marking it with coloured stickies and brief hand-written notes. Thus, decorating my desk and getting up close and personal with the typed words, as well as consulting my journals from the past decade, I re-commence my attempt to comprehend my present and my past.
On Saturday morning, I head down to the downtown farmers market in search of carrots and chicken livers. I get lots of carrots, but they are out of chicken livers, so I decide to try the turkey livers. These remain to be explored, perhaps in a future Special Dish for the Week. At the market, I also learn what kind of day it is going to be for me that day. From the reactions of people around me, I can often tell how wiggly is my body and how unintentionally expressive is my face. I seem to be upsetting many people on this day, so I must be more wiggly and grimacey. I reach out for my new tools to deal with these unwelcome reactions and my instinctive but unproductive feelings. I am relatively successful, but I still look forward to getting back home, away from the prying and confused eyes.
That evening, I resist the temptation to keep hiding in the solitary safety of my apartment, and I brave the bus and the night club atmosphere, to go dancing. I haven’t been in several months, not since before my Book Writing Tour 2013. I try to relax, but instinctively, I am on the lookout for unsolicited commentary, knowing from the morning’s market outing, what kind of day my body is having. I have a mixed experience. I am not successful at giving my name to someone who introduces themselves to me. However, it gives me an opportunity to successfully practice reminding myself not to care too much about what someone may think of me when they react badly to me for not being able to get my voice to work, especially under very challenging (loud) conditions. I actually feel ok about it within minutes of the incident. The rest of my evening is similarly mixed: one unpleasant moment is, in turn, offset by another enjoyable one, till I return to my place of refuge and my bed. I survive another day in the urban jungle, and even feel content at the end of it.
The next day, on Sunday afternoon, with the Fall season upon us and sunny but chilly weather abound, I make some warm and comforting Carrot Ginger Cashew Lentil Soup as my Special Dish for the Week.