The story of kale, tangerines, and the realizations I made.

I ate a piece of kale the other day.

It was growing in a garden box at school, so I pulled a leaf off of the plant and ate it.

It was a nice, sturdy piece of kale. It tasted pretty good. I continued munching on it as I walked over to the baseball field.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

Kale can be a nice snack, if you’re into dark leafy greens. But, as many experienced plant-eaters know, raw kale is quite tough to chew.

My jaws were getting a little bit tired, so I switched over to eating a different leaf that I had also picked from the garden box. I’m not sure what plant this was, but it was softer and sweeter than the kale.

As I was chewing, I twirled the piece between my thumb and my pointer finger.

I started to study the leaves. The kale was dark and rough. It was much more aggressively textured than the other leaf.

It was at that moment when I stopped chewing, for I noticed dozens of very tiny, white bugs all along the sides of the leaves.

I swallowed my bite, then tossed the remnants of my half-eaten leaves aside. I decided not to dwell on it too much, because I didn’t want the thought of the bugs to take away from the otherwise positive experience I had eating them.

(I would like to apologize to the innocent lives I took that day. I didn’t thoroughly inspect the leaves before eating them, and that was selfish of me. To the bugs that once inhabited the kale: I am sorry.)

On a completely unrelated note, this morning my parents and I went out to our tangerine trees. It was time to prune them. After about an hour of picking fruit and chopping branches, my dad said to me: “This is a chore that very few other people your age have to do, but you have to remember that it just makes you more cosmopolitan.”

Though I didn’t really enjoy being outside when it was 40 degrees, I did find comfort in the fact that our work would provide more fruit for us next season.

I never realized it before, but I am so thankful that I know how to take care of citrus trees.

I live in a place where I am fortunate enough to grow my own food. I take that for granted.

I hope that I will always have this luxury, bugs and all.

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febuary 14th’s epiphany

IMG_1437.jpg.jpegwow! we are lucky lucky to be alive. i know sometimes we get sad or angry or embarrassed or even feel all those silly human things at once, but have you ever thought about just how lucky we are to be alive at all?!

appreciate everything! soak in as much as you can as often as you can! talk to people you don’t usually and ask them about their day or about their dreams! confess your love to someone! get rejected and get over it, just to say you did it! get a shitty tattoo! make a change in the world! make your friend your valentine or your mom! stand up for someone! kiss your dog! love yourself the most! hug your friends or a stranger! tell your family you love them! make up with the people you got in a fight with! reach out to someone you miss! make the first move! tell your parents how much you appreciate them even if they make you angry! live in the moment! go out! surf! manifest positivity! go, go, go live. who cares? woohoo, we are so lucky!!

LIVE BY THIS: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” -alfred tennyson

we make our own waves.

photo credit: images.fineartamerica.com

He told me this:
“I make my own waves.

I make my own waves when
I don’t need to.
I make myself angry when I don’t need to be!
And it’s not good for me,
not good for my health.

I see you do the same thing to yourself.
I think it’s something you inherited,
like it’s genetic, maybe. And I’m sorry.

It has taken me my whole life,
fifty-some years to realize that
I am the only one who can control how I feel,
that it is me, and not other people, who changes
the way I feel.

I see you do this to yourself,
you expect people to think the same way,
and to care and to try the same way that you do.

It’s taken me my whole life
to realize that, and I still
don’t know how to fix it.

If you could learn this now,
so early on in your life,
you’ll be so much better for it.

You’ll be just fine.”

I make my own waves too, sometimes.

But the thing about waves, is that even though they can be destructive, they can also be spectacular.

So, I think that it’s okay to make waves in our lives, but we have to decide which kind they will be.

 

Not if, but When

Loralee was born on April 28, 1970. Loralee died on June 3rd 1970.

My mom never met her sister; I never met my aunt. She spent her thirty-six days in a hospital. Loralee wasn’t born lucky.

Due to her cleft pallet, she was unable to swallow. The hospital put a tube down her throat to feed her. Instead of going into her esophagus, the tube was misplaced and put into her lungs. After a month and three days, her lungs were filled from the tube’s givings and she died from suffocation.

Loralee Myra French never came home. My mom never got to see her sister. My mother was less than two years old. I wonder what my grandmother told her. How could you explain that to an innocent child?

My mom learned the full story when she was older.

I learned the full story a week ago.

Recently, my great aunt died. I wasn’t close to her. She was an awful person. She put her son through absolute shit, abused my grandmother, and put my mom’s side of the family through living hell.

Even though she was a cruel human being, it hit me hard when she died. As bad as it sounds, it wasn’t hard for me because I cared about her a lot, it was harder for another reason.

As I’m getting older, death is so much more real. I understand it and am effected by it more and it takes place more in my life.  There are so many people who are going to die in my lifetime: my parents, my grandparents, my kindergarten teacher, the owners of my favorite place in the world… There are so many people who have died in my lifetime: my grandfather, my aunt, my favorite artist, my dad’s best friend.

I’m still young, but I’m old enough to understand how abruptly life can end.

I was doing driver’s ed a couple days ago. I read a story about a man who got in a car crash and killed his best friend.

One mistake, one wrong turn, one bad decision, and your life could be done.

We all know we will die one day. It’s not “if;” it’s a “when?”

When am I going to die? When are you going to die? It’s inevitable, unescapable, and, in my opinion, scary. So scary.

On the news, I read about a girl who traveled in Costa Rica, met a man at an Airbnb, and went missing. Later, she was found dead.

One misgiving of trust, one ignorant move, one second of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you could be found lifeless too.

And, then, there’s so many undeserving people who die cruel, miserable deaths. Cancer, suffering, abuse, rape. So many innocent people whose lives get taken away. Just like the young rape victim who was found dead in a suitcase behind a dumpster, just like orphan who starved to death, just like the 13,000 people who died in shootings this year, just like the young baby who only got to spend thirty six days on this earth; my aunt Loralee Mya French.

“Where are you From?”

He broke my heart in pieces over and over and over again.

It was a few days after my 12th birthday. My mom told me we were going to Buca di Beppo’s in Thousand Oaks for dinner with my family to celebrate. Birthdays dinners have always been something we always, ALWAYS had for one another. Every time someone in my family had a birthday, we all would meet up somewhere and celebrate over dinner. Therefore, I was not surprised we were having one for me. We took birthday dinners pretty seriously, because we rarely got to see each other. Birthdays were just an excuse to come together.

After school, I went home, took a shower, and my mom insisted on me letting her straighten my hair, which didn’t seem out of the norm because she always loved how my hair looked straight. She said everything looks cleaner when my hair is straight. When we got to Buca di Beppo’s, the host led me all the way to the back where I saw all my family, my closest friend, and all his family. I was shocked, but had a huge smile on my face. There were way more people than I expected and they were sitting at a massive table with every appetizer on the menu right in front of them. “SURPRISE,” everyone yelled. I was ecstatic; I had finally gotten the surprise party I’ve always wanted.

I was so happy, but I knew something was missing. It took me a while to realize what, or who, it was. My dad, mom, sister, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, cousins, my best friend, and his whole family were there what could it be? Then it hit me “Mom, where is Blake,” I asked, my voice cracking. Blake is my brother, at that time he was 25, and I knew was he wasn’t there. Showing up to family dinners is so important, because the time we have together is rare. So, not being there is practically a sin in my family. “I don’t know. No one knows. Sorry, Ki,” my mom said. My 12-year-old self felt so betrayed. “No one can get a hold of him,” my dad said. “He might be living on the streets, we don’t know. But, don’t worry, he’ll come back eventually.” How could I not worry? How could everyone but Blake be there? How could someone be SO selfish? At the time, Blake was in and out of rehab because he was addicted to heroine. He often lied and stole things from me and my sister. Which, at the time of the surprise party, I knew, but very vaguely. Years later, of course, I knew a lot more.

It’s as simple as that. He broke my heart in pieces over and over and over again. He smashed mine and my whole family’s. Not only did he break our hearts, he also ruined our trust. The truth of the matter, though, is he would do it again. What’s even sadder is I don’t blame him. He did it because he wanted to escape the world. That’s what drugs do; they help one escape. He wanted to run away from two families who could never meld beautifully, two families forced together with the same last name, but personalities that begged to differ. What I mean is, I don’t blame him for wanting to get out; he’d be crazy if he didn’t, but I blame him for being so incredibly selfish. Truth of the matter is, he isn’t the only guy who’s broken my heart, nor is he the first to do so.

That’s a different story for a different time ,though. In case, you were wondering, Blake is better now. At least he says he is.

 

Man’s Best Friend

My life started with Jeannie. She was a yellow lab and she was the sweetest thing. She’d let me sleep in her bed; dress her up; and race her through our garden, without ever questioning me. I was the tiny human she was protecting.

I don’t know how often I’ve heard the story of me sleeping in my crib in the garden when I was a baby and a delivery guy walked in, apparently too close in Jeannie’s opinion. She got protective over me and bit him in the butt, chasing him straight out the door. What a good girl.

Two weeks before her seventeenth birthday, she had a stroke. I remember that morning so clearly. It was a Saturday, blue skies already so early in the morning, which is rare. I saw Jeannie lying outside in our garden, my parents sitting in the grass next to her. They looked so sad, so upset. They told me she had a stroke, but eight year old me didn’t know what that meant. I told her it was all okay, that she’d get better. I promised her. But, my dad had already called the vet to put her down.

Later that day, we went to my grandparents’ house to burry her next to Lea, another yellow lab who had died years earlier. I remember the last time I saw her, my dad told us to say goodbye. She looked so tired and ready to go to dog heaven.

My parents said they wouldn’t want to get another dog for another five years, but  a few months later, we got Pepper.

When we visited Pepper and his brothers for the first time, I’d never seen a dog get so competitive over food. He was just a little, black dumpling with fur, so clumsy and already so, so sweet.

I can’t believe it’s been seven years since we got him. We taught him everything you would expect children to teach a dog: we taught him to jump, hop on tree trunks, roll over, play dead, balance food on his nose, shake, sit on chais, and probably so much more that I just can’t think of.

Photo Credit: encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com

One thing you must know about Pepper, that I’ve just mentioned, is that he would do anything for food. But, also, that he would eat anything in this world. When he was four months old, he ate my sock straight from my foot. A year later, he ate my toy horse, some tape, and another sock. He ate an entire mango, including the pit, and a whole loaf of bread, making him so sick that we had to bring him to the vet. One time, he wanted to eat the raspberries in our garden, but,, instead swallowed an entire branch of the bush, which obviously got stuck in his throat and had to be surgically removed. He still has a scar from it, that idiot.

When I left to go to boarding school, the thing I missed the most was him. I begged and begged my parents to bring him with us to California and they did. Right now, he’s 10,000 kilometers away from home. He loves the beach, the American food, the attention he gets for his shiny coat, and his smile. What a dog.

I don’t know how many more dogs I will have throughout my life, but I sure hope it’s a lot. I can’t imagine myself without a dog and I hope I’ll never have to. They certainly deserve to be called man’s best friend.

the things we don’t talk about- holiday edition

The holiday season is coming up, which means a lot of happiness and posts about “holiday spirit” which is great, but this is about the things we don’t talk about.

We don’t talk about the peoples whose families don’t have enough money for Christmas presents, halloween decorations, or a turkey dinner.

We don’t talk about the kids whose families are split into two or more homes, forced painfully back together for the holidays, nor do we talk about the kids whose families are split and don’t see each other at all.

We don’t talk about the families who yearn for someone who is no longer with them or who yearn for someone who never has been with them.

We don’t talk about a lot of things, especially around the holiday season, because we want to distract ourselves with presents and lights and candy.

Which, don’t get me wrong, is fun, but this is for the people who’s holidays aren’t the most wonderful time of the year. You’re not alone.

This is what the holiday season looks like to me, starting in October.

Halloween: Not very exciting and kind of awkward, as I’m old enough to not go trick-or-treating, but I still could go if I wanted to. It’s sad, because you realize it’s not as exciting as it was when you were a little kid.

Thanksgiving- Me, my mom, and step-dad sit at a fancy restaurant in Las Vegas, eating the turkey dinner on the menu. I wish I was home, with the rest of my family, like how it used to be. When grandma could still cook for us all and we could still all be ok sitting at one table. I’m definitely not as thankful as I should be on this day.

Photo credit: Nycinsiderguide.com 

Christmas- Awkward because my dad and step-dad are both at my house and it’s “rude” to pay more attention to one than the other. Normally, I do it anyway. Even more awkward because my two sisters are in the same house and they hate each other. Probably worse because my brother comes. Sucks because I’m the youngest and the people I want to pay attention to me don’t and the people I don’t want to pay attention to me pay too much.

New years Eve/ New Years day- Depressing, unless you’ve been invited to a party. Full of a lot of stupid phrases like “New year, new me” or “On the first page of a 365 page book.” Reality is, nothing ever changes.

Valentine’s Day- Cool if you’re dating someone; super lame if you’re not.

April Fool’s Day- Usually not funny. I probably end up forgetting what day it is and get pranked.

Mother’s Day- Celebrating mamas, trying really hard to make everything special, usually involves waking up earlier than my mom. Probably impossible, because I don’t think my mom ever sleeps. Normally ends up with a fight I feel terribly about.

Father’s Day- Another Mother’s Day, celebrating mom for being my mother and father. Forced to wish my step-dad a “Happy Fathers day! <3.” Normally, I don’t really mean it. I wish my sister’s dad a Happy Father’s day… I mean it.

Independence Day (AKA 4th of July)- Nothing super exciting. Missing the time I used to watch the fireworks on a big hill with my sister’s dad. Probably with my friends watching fireworks, but kinda scary because I don’t like the noise fireworks make.

REPEAT.

The point of this blog wasn’t for me to bag on the holidays. There is super fun stuff going on during the holidays and I appreciate and enjoy every single one (for the most part) for a different reason… I’m sure you hear a million things a year about why every holiday is great. This is about the things we DON’T talk about.

The point of this blog is to say: the holidays are coming up and with as much love and gratitude this brings, it can also be a rough time for some.

With that said, take care of yourself; be gentle with other people; be thankful for what you do have; focus less on what you don’t, but don’t ignore it; check up on your friends; and talk to someone if your Christmas was shitty! Some are better than others.