Tag Archives: my first book

Of Luck, Books, Loss, and Learning


Well, it’s been an interesting week. I’ve had family visit, some weird things go down, emotional highs and lows, and it’s just before 7 on a Friday night after a mentally-grueling day. Tomorrow, I finish my final edit on my first ebook and send it out into the world. My baby gets its walking papers.

Speaking of lows, Wednesday was the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death, and that oddly wasn’t a low this week. In fact, it’s the first time since she died that I didn’t think about her in a “Mom died today” kind of way on her death anniversary. Newer and stranger still is that this doesn’t make me feel guilty. After all, I’ll never forget my mom and I’ll never not be sad that she’s dead, but it’s like I said many years ago, that with each passing year that pain just becomes a little less dominant but a little more permanent, like a scar or faded tattoo, it’s a new part of me.

It’s just a thing. Death, grief, you don’t ever stop missing people you love. That’s the nature of it.my sunset

But I guess there comes a time when we realize we are as much shaped by our losses as we are our successes, and that becomes okay. Well, if you’re like me and you’re happy with the person you’re becoming in the face of all the things you’ve been over the years, then yeah, it becomes okay to be forged through fire and come out of it as steel, whether it’s by people dying or other adversity. It’s really okay.

The older I am, the happier I am about being a strong(er) person.

Stronger, But More Grateful Too

So, it’s a crazy week, right? I’m publishing my first book and now lapsing into reflection about the many years that have passed, the hardships I’ve known, and how tonight I’m thinking about a bike ride to get some pizza, some wine, some sun. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but two years ago I would’ve killed to be able to casually plan to drop $30 on a Friday night pizza/wine combination. Money was still very tight for me 24 months ago. I was having a lot of “budget days” then. And cycling into the sunshine for it, that’s another thing I feel grateful for. Life after back injury is no small gratitude.

Many times over the last 15 years I would’ve given so much to have my “lows” this “death anniversary” week merely be insomnia and a rough day at work. I chuckle at the thought of that being the “low” this week. It’s a good thing, to move on.

I’m sure some reader, somewhere is all “Pfft, you should’ve moved on years ago,” and to them I would merely say fuck you. One doesn’t choose to move on. One can try. One can even force the issue, but the reality is, you don’t move on until you move on. I’ve tried, I’ve forced it, I’ve rammed it into myself. It didn’t take. One of those things.

Last year, I had a friend tell me her daughter’s death day, year 14, was the last time it had wracked her with grief, and year 15 was when she had finally processed it and made peace with it too.

You don’t choose catharsis, catharsis chooses you.

Of Lucky Numbers and Me

My mom sold real estate in Chinatown, probably the only fishbelly-white redheaded woman ever to do so before year 2000. She ate a lot of wontons, loved stirfry, was the token white lady on the company tour to China, and loved immersing in their culture.

She was always thrilled when she’d find or get a new listing that had three or more 8’s in the address, including postal code, because she knew it’d be popular with the very traditional Chinese customers, who were often the high-rollers. It’s an “auspicious” number, foretelling great wealth and good fortune. Abundance in life. Lemme tell ya, I’ve had auspicious abundance since last year, when I moved into my apartment that has three 8’s in its mailing address.

Well, I registered my book today. The ISBN number not only has three 8’s, it also has four 9’s. Nine, it turns out, is the auspicious Chinese number for “long-lasting” and loyalty.

I don’t see these numbers as applying to just this one ISBN, but rather to my future as a writer.

Shush! It’s my fucking superstition, I get to interpret it any way I like. I’ll be auspiciously abundant and with great longevity.

The numbers have spoken.

And now I have some numbers to translate into pizza and wine. Hello, Visa card! (It has 8s and 9s too. Huh.)

Pressing Pause: The Morning Before I Finished My Book

late summer nightsAnother weekend day and I’m inside, again. It’s the push to complete my book. It’s been a very, very productive weekend and I can almost taste the conclusion.

I’m pressing pause, because in a few hours this emotion may never exist again. Last night I gave birth to my first-ever book cover. Self-designed. In fact, except for a few place-holder type stock photos I’ve purchased, 100% of my first book will be by me. Self-edited, written, photographed, tested, designed, published. I felt like a kid at Christmas when I finished my long day yesterday and I could finally see what my book would look like. It finally felt real.

All Is Not How It Seems

I can fake it till I make it like the best of ’em, but inside it’s a totally different vibe going on.

Truth is, I have had very low confidence when it comes to learning new things ever since I had my head injury a decade ago. When I say “low confidence,” I cannot convey to you how low it can go. It is the “limbo” dance of self-worth, honestly. But that’s not me per se, and is rather the head injury. It’s hard to logically fight that though.

I’ve had panic attacks and other disconcerting events when “learning new things” looms. This working-toward-self-employed thing better work out, because the idea of ever having to be new at a workplace again terrifies me.

That’s just how that rolls. I know it, I accept it, and the older I get, the more I understand it.

I also know the only way to get over a lack of confidence is to move through it. Do it, make it happen — even if it’s because of a head injury. My fears were crippling for a long time. What came first, the writer’s block or the crippling anxiety? Hmm, it’s like the ebook-writer’s riddle of the 21st century.

Long Time Comin’

When I moved to Victoria in 2012, this was already a goal — to do a cookbook. It’d been the “dream” for over a year at that point. The sad thing is, why I wanted to do a cookbook was because I lost my mojo with writing. Couldn’t think of something to turn into an ebook. Any idea I had didn’t seem to have teeth to it. And what did I really have to say, anyhow?

Unbeknownst to me, writing a cookbook was way more expensive than I expected it to be, with all the recipes needing cooking 2-3 times, and such. And then there was the redundant nature, having to return to the same thing repeatedly. I fucking hate redundancy. Oh, lord.

When I write, I write and I move on. I reread it a few times that day, but then I move on. With a cookbook, it’s back over the same thing in so many ways — photographs, retesting, tweaking ingredients, and so forth. Get something “off” and it’s not just a matter of re-writing a paragraph, it’s re-budgeting, re-shopping, re-spending, re-cooking, re-eating, re-cleaning, re-writing. It can be a couple weeks before resolving the one thing.

Once I finally came up with THIS theme of summer recipes in April, a more cohesive idea hit and I finally stopped feeling like I was flailing. Direction, at last, was a beautiful and motivating thing. And the food was all stuff I’d be wanting to eat in coming weeks anyhow. Brilliant. (Which is why I have a list of recipes to make as fall approaches, for volume two in this series. Ay! I’ve created a monster!)

“Just Did It”

As a kid, my mother used to tell me that every time a new thing got hard, I turned and quit. I didn’t have follow-through, she called it. And I’d need it, she’d say, if I ever hoped to be a success. Yes, Ma.

So here I am, at the start of a day where I hope to see myself finish the book off. A book that’s been in the back of my mind for three years, maybe more. Some delay through the fault of fear, some through laziness, but most because I’ve just been working too much for other people.

Now it’s time I work more for myself. I really owe a huge thanks to EVERYONE who has been encouraging me since 2010 to write some ebooks. I’ve got some pretty amazing friends and fans and followers. Hugely grateful. Y’all fuckin’ rock.

And hey, look, Ma. Follow-through.

My cookbook will be available on this site within a week — I’m waiting on an ISBN (number) and then it’s up for grabs! $5, 60+ pages, over 25 recipes, loaded with photos. This “fish and chips” recipe below is yet another one included inside — halibut baked with young kale and leeks. I’ll amend this post when presales are arranged!

Kale & Leeks Fish en Papillotte