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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Writing among the distractions

A few days ago, I saw a news report on Amtrak Residency program for writers. I must admit, this program was interesting--being able to ride on a long distance train where all my attention would be on my writing.
The story also reminded me of biographical movies where famous, established writers go off on writing vacations. In the movie Hitchcock, his wife, played by Helen Mirren, drove off to a house in Malibu to collaborate on her own movie. In Capote, he jetted off for a year to Morocco and Spain to write the first three chapters of his famous book In Cold Blood.
Unfortunately, these excursions are out of my reach for now. On the other hand, all of these destinations would be very distracting to me. My writing would probably take a back seat, as I would find myself looking out the train window constantly, staring at the ocean in Malibu or playing tourist in Morocco and Spain.
Even when I was at a coffee shop with my laptop, I became entranced with an interview of a Realtor at the table next to me. I think they offered a good employee package and the interview went well!
I believe that distractions, kept to a minimum, are useful in a way. After all, I don't live in a vacuum and it's important to be aware of conversations and interactions.  That way, my writing has a ring of authenticity to it. Also, when my mind may wander, I have a whole wide world of internet to search for video from a train window. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Food, thought provoking food

I have found myself being more conscious of food lately. I am becoming more aware of how I feel after eating: do I feel nourished or just full? I have always thought I ate fairly healthy, but have found there is always room for improvement.
 It all started with instant potatoes. They used to be a quick, go-to side at dinnertime. Then, one day as I was washing dishes after supper, there were bits of instant potatoes left on a plate.  As the hot water washed over these potatoes, they turned into a thin liquid almost instantaneously.
After witnessing this transformation, I began to question why do I eat these in the first place?  I thought it was for the convenience--the name says it all. It's much easier to tear open a packet and add water than peeling and mashing real potatoes.
I couldn't shake the sickening image of the instant potatoes turning this watery slime  running down the drain. My mind was littered with questions: What was it doing in my digestive track? How could it possibly carry any nutrients? Is the convenience really worth it?
I decided to forgo buying any more instant potatoes and take the time to cook up real potatoes--be russet, red or white rose. I found something about the preparation added to the eating experience and I felt nourished afterwards.
I was reminded of a quote by Susan Powter, author and motivational speaker in the 90's  that was popular for her book  Stop the Insanity. She said during her infomercial "Did the food grow that way?"  After asking this question, the instant potatoes was answered with a resounding no. Its list of ingredients takes up half of the package and not one of the items is sunshine or rich soil.
For me, making small changes will resonate much longer and become a good eating habit than radically changing my whole menu.