30 July 2009

Alta Cafe

I'm at Alta Cafe in Newport Beach and I love it! It's in this cute little house on a closed off street with loads of character and now I can breathe a sigh of relief because I didn't think a place like this could exist 10 minutes from where I live in nearby Sterile City. Nelly Furtada is on overhead.

p.s. I have a new haircut and it makes me feel like a new person.

28 July 2009

Sisters of St. Joseph in Orange

What is it about nuns and convents built in the 1920s that gives me heebie-jeebies ( in a good way) and makes me feel all weepy inside? My skin gets all prickly and hyper-alert and I feel as if I've entered a thin place (a Celtic term to describe holy places where the veil between God and this world feels thin). Yesterday I met with the Director of the 19th Annotation Retreats at the Sisters of St. Joseph in Orange. We had a quick interview and by the end of it, I was on my way to starting the program. The orientation starts on September 10 and progresses till June.

What is the 19th Annotation Retreat?
This retreat is based on the 30 Day Retreat developed by St. Ignacius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits). Since the 30 Day Retreat requires a full time participation that most working people can't do, it's been broken down into a 9 month program that you can do each week.

The program consists of these exercises and commitments:
  • a meeting with a spiritual director once a week
  • one hour of Ignatian prayer and 30 minutes of journaling a day
  • once a month group meeting with everyone else doing the 9 month retreat
I've done shorter forms of Ignatian prayer (it includes reflecting back through your day, listening to yourself and becoming aware of the movements of your heart) at other retreats and was drawn to the rhythm and structure it provides. My good friend did this program last year up in the bay area and said "it totally changed how I view God." I'll be updating the blog on what my experience is like over the course of the next 9 months.

Along with my current interests in all things Catholic, I just finished reading The Catholic Imagination by Andrew Greeley. He is my new favorite author of sociology and religion. Check out his website--he's a priest, sociologist, Chicago native, Irish, journalist, and author of fiction novels.

26 July 2009

Cupcake Bliss

Yesterday, we had a housewarming party and Lori, one of J.'s department members, brought her signature raspberry champagne cupcakes. Lori is a cupcake baking fiend--in the few months that I've known her, I've probably tried at least 7 different cupcake variations. But this one was really amazing. Delicate bunches of champagne grapes adorned each cupcake filled with raspberry jam and topped with lemon curd buttercream frosting. Each bite took me to another place.

I also made this coconut shrimp recipe and true to the 5 star rating by over 700 reviewers, it was absolutely delicious, simple, and a mad hit.

23 July 2009

Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested

When Henry Louis Gates Jr., a renowned scholar, tried to open his jammed front door, a neighbor reported a disturbance to the police where upon arrival, the officer refused to believe that Gates was the owner of the house even though he showed proper identification. Nuts.

From the Boston Globe,
“Because of the capricious whim of one disturbed person . . . I am now a black man with a prison record,” Gates said. “You can look at my mug shot on the Internet.”
Full article here.

Sojourners blog commentary here.

21 July 2009

Tuesday in L.A.

picture by davidagalvan
This afternoon, I met up with my college friend Theresa in L.A. She is 5 and a half months pregnant and visiting from Singapore. Her baby bump was so cute. I took her to Casbah Cafe in Silverlake for a bohemian tea and catch up time. We had iced coffee, iced fresh mint tea, and a plum tart that was overpriced but absolutely delicious. It made me want to make this plum cake that I saw recently. Later, we joined our husbands at Chichin Itza for a yummy Yucatan dinner.

Then for a non-edible last course, Theresa and Carl took us to his brother's 8th floor rooftop apartment in the Pico/Arlington area and showed us a 360 degree view of Los Angeles. J. and I gasped. It was amazing. We watched the sun set, reveled in the view, and talked about moving there.

20 July 2009

To create, not react

A friend sent me an email this morning with information on interning for a religious community blog. I took a look and what I saw convinced me even more that there is a serious need for a religious community/blog that does not exist solely by being in opposition to others but on looking forward and creating.

Every single post on this self-described "progressive Christian" blog (which I won't name) had to do with criticizing what others had written, how certain people/posts/movements weren't scriptural, and how other religious leaders were wrong.

I told J. "It's as if they are saying 'I exist in order to bash your existence.'"

J. responded drily, "It all started with the Reformation."

Yes, the Reformation was spurred by opposition which then spurred generations to call their opposition faith. Opposition based on reaction which frankly doesn't lead to much other than furrowed brows and a perpetually bad taste in your mouth.

As my friend Cristy says, "Not about reaction but creation!" Let's create.

"Losing my religion for equality" by Jimmy Carter

In a recent Op-Ed, Jimmy Carter takes a stand against the oppression of women by religious groups by severing ties with the Southern Baptist Convention and joining with the Elders,
"an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity"
He says that after 60 years, it was time to leave the SBC. My biggest question was why it took him 60 years to finally leave the SBC over treatment of women and children. SBC's views on women have long been known to be restrictive. Whatever the reason, it gave me chills to read such a clearly articulated denouncement of religions' treatment of women and offer an alternative form of elder leadership.

This line resonated with me the most:
"The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."
I love that line, "as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority." Click here for the column at The Age, an Aussie newspaper.

(Via my friend Jen A.)

Other related article, here.

New name, New look

I've followed up on my inkling for a change with a new url address and blog name. It's time to move on from the austere image of a nun flying into the sky (which served me very well last year-I'm quite grateful) and on to more color, fun, and engagement with a larger community.

You will see more posts on events happening around town, book reviews, design finds, and anything else that catches my eye or thoughts.


17 July 2009

Surprise friday

I forgot how fun it is to do something unexpected and say "yes" to an idea. After searching fruitlessly for the right cafe in Newport Beach, I sat in traffic to hit up some favorite spots in Long Beach. I ate a bean taco, potato taco, and fish taco at Hole Mole. I sat outside and licked my fingers and spooned salsa into my mouth and watched people wash their cars across the street. Then I decided, hey, why not? and drove my car over after my meal to run around before the timer timed out, foam bursting out of my brush and hitting my face and shoulders. It was wet and fun and sweaty. Now I'm drinking a ginger peach iced tea at Portfolio, an artsy air conditioned spot in the Arts District. Life feels good. And that all happened for less than $10.

Book Review: A Year in Van Nuys

Every week, I meet with my new friend Joleen for a cup of coffee (sometimes a sample cup of Trader Joe's coffee) to discuss the all important questions of life direction, job search status, and ideas. We've been meeting for about 2 months and I have to say, we've hit our stride.

Yesterday, she suggested that I write a book about my life living in the OC and she gave enough compelling reasons that I decided to give it some serious thought and read this other book I had seen in the bookstore for ideas: A Year in Van Nuys by Sandra Tsing Loh.

I've come to admire Sandra's writing recently for its wit and humor and ability to make me laugh a lot. J. checked out A Year in Van Nuys from the library for me and I finished it in two sittings. And here is what I have to say about this book (published in 2001).
  • It's really really really funny. I laughed a lot, especially in the beginning.
  • I was surprised at how much I related to her experiences. (Do L.A. freelance writers really have that much in common?)
  • She is so self-deprecating and revealing! How does she still have friends?
  • The ending does totally peter out and only worth skimming as many Amazon.com reviewers write.
  • It is a writer's writer kind of book. It's all about her writing life and how much it sucked that year.
  • It almost made me want to quit all this freelance business and study for the LSATs and be happy having stable income.
  • Most importantly, it was a case study on exactly what not to do if you want to be sane and happy and be a writer.

Here's what her painful stories reinforced:
  1. Get a life and get out or you will end up stuck in your bedroom for 3 years with writer's block and loathing self-pity.
  2. Read the Ennegram, Type 4. Learn how to deal with envy or it will destroy you.
  3. Have a regular practice of taking yourself lightly, forgiving yourself, and working on loving others.
  4. Have a regular practice of centering, whether that be prayer, photography, or something else.
  5. Do anything constructive to regularly get out of your head and your own thoughts.
  6. Be a contemplative.
  7. Be kind and serve others.
  8. Live fully in the moment.
  9. Do Welcoming Prayer a lot.
  10. And the list could keep going on.
I wouldn't use her book as a model for a book on living in the OC but overall, a quick enjoyable read. Some parts--her agony, her self-loathing, her moans--were a bit too negative and not funny enough to bear but all the other stuff, the parts when she really is spot on, hilarious, and you actually realize this is all useful info to help you avoid the same mistakes--well, that's nice.

For the complete opposite of Sandra Tsing Loh, check out The Happiness Project. This woman has a law degree and is writing a book about being happy.

Summer in the OC

God is blue by Sister Corita

This summer has been the summer of ideas. Left and right, up and down, ideas are churning and brimming up--I can barely think or talk fast enough. I was talking to my friend Lydia yesterday and after 4 ideas in a row she said, "Ok, whoa whoa whoa, wait, just give me a minute, let me think about this. Okay--which one can you see yourself doing more--Writing a book or blogging short posts?" Thank goodness for lovely friends who take my ideas seriously and then actually have practical questions to get me to think of how to do them.

I'm going to apply for this 9 month Ignatian prayer program.

I'm screenprinting with my artist friend Jan next week at her parent's screenprinting studio. We're going to make summer lino prints! We're inspired by Sister Corita Kent's works.

I'm going to get the darkest tan of my life by just laying out on the grass next to my building (a surprising number of people do this) or walking to the pool and getting fried in half the time. The sun here is hot, the wind is cool, and all of the above is plentiful.

And I'm going to read a lot. Case in point, next post.

16 July 2009

New finds

Here are some new finds that I've been loving

Yellow Owl Workshop
I am especially in love with the city rubber stamps set

Blogger: Color Me Katie
a freelance photographer, street artist, all around creativity source
Via The Happiness Project

The Uniform Project
Makes me want to get a whole lot of accessories and one uniform

Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction
A good article about writing when the internet is soo distracting

On Blogging

These days, I feel as if I have outgrown my Flying Nun theme. I've been making little changes to my blog, having fun with my newfound html and free online tutorial lookup intelligence. But something's in the air. J. thinks it's because I'm no longer single, i.e. no longer a possible candidate for nunship. Maybe that is true. I think it's something else though.

When I first started blogging, the Flying Nun emblem gave me a sense of security, a metaphor to hide behind and safely write. I feel ready to expand my wings and actually let my head poke out and feel the wind now. In other words, I feel ready to gear my blogging towards a more public audience, instead of just family and friends (scratch that, i don't think any of my family members read this) and stand behind my name.

I think that working on launching my freelance writing career has a lot do with this, as well as a better understanding of the blogging world and the ways in which it can work for you (I like this summary at typepad).

I've been studying blogs to see what appeals to a larger readership (namely, nice photos) and I've also been brainstorming daily on what I would change and topics I would focus on. If you've been following my posts and you have ideas or suggestions, I would be happy to read them.

12 July 2009

Good Words: The Catholic Imagination

"Religion is story before it is anything else and after it is everything else." - Andrew Greely

09 July 2009

08 July 2009

The OC: Officially gotten good

I think it's safe to say that Jacob and I have officially gotten good at hanging out with each other in the OC.

The first few months of marriage were spent at our laptops looking around, saying, "What do you want to do?"
"I don't know, what do you want to do?"
"I don't know, there's nothing to do in the OC."
"Dammit. I miss LA!"
"I know, me too."
"Yeah, sad."

It all started with the 4th of July when noone wanted to hang out with us. Noone wanted to grill with us or see us in our bikini and speedo and go to the beach and prance around. Why, I wonder? Noone wanted to buy fireworks and light them up. Noone.

4th of July is a sad holiday to be alone.

We decided to make the best of it. We were determined to have fun on our first 4th of July as a married couple. So the first thing we did was get into the biggest fight we have had since tying the knot, complete with waving hands, the D word, rolling eyes, stomping off, getting space and canceling the whole thing.

Then we decided to be friends again and went to the beach. It was way too windy and cold and sandy, something Jacob realized as soon as he jumped into the ocean and ran out with a grin of alarming proportions. Yeah, all those other people in there, hon? Those are the crazies with insanely warm blood. If you were a southern california native, you'd know that.

We laid out on our towels shivering, getting sand in our Vernor's ginger ale and eating sandy Sweet Maui chips and unsuccessfully moving the umbrella in 12 different positions to thwart the wind. An hour and a half later, we decided to call it quits. I was wearing my navy blue swimsuit under an army green jersey spaghetti strap dress and the only thing Jacob had to offer me was this boxy white t-shirt with Chinese calligraphy and a dancing horse on the front. Important note: he took it from his Kansan grandmother's closet. The t-shirt collar came up my neck, the shoulders kept going when mine stopped, and it stopped short at my natural waist. The whole thing looked wrong.

Jacob on the other hand was wearing silky brown fisherman pants from Thailand and a retro button up light blue shirt with thick rimmed glasses. Earlier when we passed a Hare Krishna dude rattling a tambourine on the street corner, we both looked at each other and realized, umm, you look like a hare krishna dude, dude.

We went to the car and ate the rest of our snacks in the front seats. Then we rolled down the coast through the interconnected parking lots until we had to exit. We were quite proud that we had figured out how to cruise through all the state beach parking lots and find a bathroom with no line.

We proceeded to buy fireworks at a booth in the parking lot of Norm's. I detest Norm's because I have this very vivid memory of my brother's friend Chucky cutting into a steak late at night only to reveal fluorescent orange flesh. I kid you not. Well, Jacob luurves Norm's with a passion so we sat down for a piece of pie and coffee. And this is where my freak flag came out.

Ladies and gents, I lost it in the best way possible. I knew I looked like an idiot with a chinese grandma t-shirt, I had sand in my hair, we had at least 6 more hours to go of 4th of July celebration, and I was sitting with my hare krishna look alike partner in Norm's. I started tooling around. I began to sing, talk in strange voices, make up stories, and engage in inappropriate straw shenanigans. And at that moment, I realized I had come across something big, something crucial to the success of my mental sanity and emotional happiness here in the OC. It was the power to create fun when there's nothing to do--something I have long admired my friend Allie for being able to do but just thought she was like that because she grew up in Arkansas. I guess the OC is now my Arkansas.

The night proceeded. We stopped by the 99cents store across the street and bought a box of Tony Chachere's gumbo mix, El Pato hot sauce, and a book called Saints and Animals. We ran around our housing complex, we cut through the communal gardens and ran up the hill for a panoramic view of all the fireworks in the OC. Then we ran back down and cut through the communal garden only to have to pee really bad and well, I won't say any more about what happened to the arugula. Then we lit our fireworks, danced around, gave each other high fives, saw some leftover cheeseburgers in the trash and drove to In-N-Out for our 4th of July burger. We fell asleep utterly satisfied with our 4th of July.

So that's the secret folks... or is it still convoluted? The secret to the OC (sidenote: especially if you don't have money and can't shop) is treating it like the plains, the midwest, the upper peninsula, arkansas, any rural area if you will. You have to unhinge, fly the freak flag, and learn to be your own best friend, stand up comedian, dance partner, storyteller, and mischevious partner in crime. You've got to learn the art of tooling around.

As Allie's mother once said, "You're only bored, if you're boring."
Learn to not be boring and you will never be bored again.

07 July 2009

Blog change update

Soooo, I really wanted to unveil a new blog but it looks like I'm sticking with this one for the short term. I've learned basic html and css which has gotten me as far as changing fonts and sizes and colors in someone else's style sheet. Lame. I guess 3 days of cramming could only get me so far. I will keep cramming and hopefully unveil a new blog soon.