My Favorite Meal

This is a writing practice assignment from a book called “Find Your Writing Voice” by Chris Brogan. I thought it would be a good idea to post it here, since I’m trying to get this blog started.

Topic: My Favorite Meal

I can’t remember when I first had sushi, but I do remember the first time eating REAL sushi. It was at a very fancy (and expensive) sushi restruant called Sugar Fish in Los Angeles for an anniversary dinner in a previous relationship. We enjoyed Japanese food from ramen and shabu shabu to mochi and Beard Papa. I knew it was going to be some serious sushi because you weren’t allowed to order what you wanted. The only options available were the regular meal set, which included all the items, and a smaller set that contained less. I’m not sure if they didn’t allow the use of soy sauce or just highly discouraged it, but there was a note in the menu that said each piece of fish was served how it should be consumed. So if it did not come with a sauce already, then it should be enjoyed as is. And that alone earned my respect.

The first thing I noticed was the rice. Rice is something you rarely think about with sushi except that it’s there. I’m not a big fan of rice (which is weird since I’m asian, haha) so I tend to order only sashimi since I fill up more on fish than I do rice. I’m so glad they didn’t allow me to skip out on it because the rice alone was surprisingly flavorful. It wasn’t just bland starch that adds more volume to the food. It had a powerful flavor on its own and made me wonder if I ever really knew how rice tasted like before. Each piece of meat on the sushi was so fresh and full of amazing flavors. You could actually taste the difference between the types of fish and I realized instantly why it was considered blasphemey to dilute it with overpowering, salty, soy sauce. The menu offered a wide variety of fish from the most common like Salmon, Tuna or Eel, to the rarer types that were based on market availability such as Blue Crab, Uni and Fatty Tuna. It was a symphony of the sea. I personally couldn’t tell if there even was a difference in price since everything I ate had its own incredibly unique flavor and texture.

Eating at Sugar Fish has completely changed the way I viewed sushi and I admit, I’ve been a bit of a sushi snob ever since. Not only did this single meal raise the bar for any Uni I decide to put into my ┬ámouth (most places I try now have uni that tastes like the bottom of a sink drain), but it also gave me a new appreciation for the simplieset sushi like tamago (sweet egg). This experience was bittersweet. On one hand, I am so grateful to have finally been exposed to what real sushi is supposed to taste like and not have to travel all the way to Japan to learn this. But, it’s also made me see the truth that not all sushi places can live up to that standard. They’ll serve whatever is popular and easily available, which almost always means cheaper and terrible tasting. Regardless, I think I’m better off knowing what godlike sushi is than living the rest of my life eating overcooked rice wrapped around imitation crab topped with frozen fish.

Beautiful Chaos

My husband bought me the new iPhone 8 plus for my birthday and I, of course, requested a glittery phone case to go along with it. I’ve started to allow myself these guilty pleasures lately and I am enjoying it quite a bit. Sure, it’s made the phone three times as heavy and even harder to hold for my little hands, but it’s pretty to look at. I often lie in bed and stare into the falling glitter as they float from one side of the case to the other. Sometimes, I flip it quickly before they all get to the bottom and watch the swirling milky way of sparkle. Each piece of glitter, large and small, clumsily bumps into one another trying to find a spot to rest. Finally, their world stays still long enough to snuggle together and rest before the chaos starts over again. It’s beautiful, really. I can’t help but compare my life now to the sparkling chaos that I hold in my hand. At the start of the year we had our lives shaken up, just like the phone case, and as soon as we think things have started to settle, it’s flipped and the blizzard starts up again.

My favorite part is when I’ve left the phone in one position long enough for all the glitter to sink and crowd the bottom, while the top half of the phone remains completely clear and you can see the phone underneath. I can’t resist the temptation and turn the phone to watch the pretty little snowstorm. That’s when I realized life is exactly the same way. Life can’t help herself and she absolutely must shake things up. So she can watch me endure the chaos. Each challenge, large and small, finding my way through the day. To her, my life and its memories are like glitter and I’ve come to accept that. I don’t know what I’m going to do about it, but I’m accepting it. This might be the depression that brings up the comparison, but it is perseverance that gives me the courage to write this entry.

One thing I know is that eventually, the phone is still and the glitter rests. It’s only in those moments that I can actually breathe. In the stillness I tend to lock myself in a comfortable box and sleep. If I sleep now, while everything is quiet, then maybe I can sleep through the storm and wake up when it’s all better. That’s gotten me through some days, weeks, months. But, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of sleeping my life away. Which is why I’m writing now. I’m filled with so many ideas but they’re entangled in fear and I’m drowning in self-loathing. It’s devastating because that isn’t who I am. This isn’t the person that I want to be. Instead of hiding in my dreamless sleep, I should be preparing to fight through the next storm because there is going to be a next one, guaranteed. I should be grateful for the stillness and literally count my blessings with every single piece of glitter. I’m regaining my health. I love my husband. My family is solid. There’s so much to be thankful for and no reason to keep hating myself. My life isn’t perfect and it never will be. My journey isn’t easy nor do I want it to be. And I’m not finished yet, so I’m going to kick start my life again.

My life is a beautiful chaos and I accept it.

A Letter to my Future Self

Dear Next Year Cami,

It’s me, Last Year Cami. Happy 30th Birthday. I am writing to you the day after our 29th birthday and have been wanting to do this for some time now. It seems that you and I keep missing each other at this time of the year. We share a quick glance at parties or admire a photo with a ‘like’, but that’s not nearly enough. After all, you’re nothing without me and I’m worthless without you. So I’ve decided to take the time to write this letter hoping that you read it and somehow return the favor, or better yet, pay it forward. You’ll thank me when you’re older.

Our two favorite holidays have always been Birthdays and New Year’s Eve. They both celebrate the marking of a full orbit around the sun. One is focused on a single individual while the other is genuinely universal. On your birthday, you tend to look back on what you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come. On New Years, you look forward to the future and what treasures the world has to offer. Since our day of birth is so close to the new year, it makes sense that you start the reflection phase at this particular time and ultimately reach a conclusion within 90 days. Whether or not we actively do anything about our findings, this process happens subconsciously and by some miracle, we haven’t taken any critical steps backward, yet.

Here we are now, in that sweet spot of birthday afterglow and right before the crisp excitement of next year. However, this year is a bit special since we’re entering the third freaking decade of our life and so many terrible, wonderful things happened to us in 2017 alone. Shall I recap? We moved back home, lost a parent, lost a baby, moved in, got married, had 3 surgeries, fell into depression, gave up meat (again), gained 30lbs, stopped doing drugs, started drinking again, started eating meat (again) and semi-retired from the job of your dreams that defined your existence for years. That sounds an awful lot like that thing people talk about, a “mid-life crisis”, but it doesn’t seem as hopeless or so foolhardy. In fact, everything that’s happened feels more like a necessary stage in our evolution. A molting of some sort. We’re shedding skin and that’s a nasty business. It’s definitely not pretty, but it’s necessary and feels much better when you do it.

I’m not sure how many times we’ve done this in our lifetime, but I know that this is the first time I am fully aware of it and willing to document this moment. Too many times we’ve allowed ourselves to neglect the opportunity to acknowledge each other and I’m saying, “Cut that shit out!” Let’s not be strangers that whisper to each other only in dreams. I want to know you. I want to be you. I want you to remember me. I want to see you accomplish our dreams and meet your darling children. I cherish you. I need you. I love you. It would be heartbreaking to let the second half of our life go on as it has been which is why I purged your blog and started this brand new one. It’s like the exhilarating feeling of writing on the first page of a new notebook. This blog is that page, but it doesn’t have to stop here. Think of it as a blank slate with no strings attached.┬áNo fancy template, strict schedule to keep up with or structured format to uphold.

I don’t expect you to write me a letter. I don’t expect much of anything, really. I only ask that whatever it is, you do it with all your heart. Leave something worth remembering. Use our imagination and turn up the creativity. Write a blog post. Draw a picture. Record a video. Paint a miniature. Tell a story. Plan a trip. Set a goal. Share a fear. Have a laugh. Be a hero. Be brave. Be strong. Be real. There are no rules. No right or wrong. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to do it. Do whatever it is you were born to do and share it with the world. I have faith in you and I cannot wait to fall in love with you all over again.

Love Always,
You