In the middle of October, I hit a bump. A big bump. Two weeks went by and I worked on very little or nothing at all. Luckily the month improved and, other than the slump on Halloween night, turned out successful! My emotional mood triggers do worry me, but with time, growth, and research, I will become the master of my happiness and purpose! But for now, I do what I can… like setting up monthly goals!
Go to a pumpkin patch.
We all wanted Memo to come, but he had to help his mom and didn’t want to go anyway; Gio’s 6-year old cousin, Alexis (his nickname), came along instead. My dad drove into town the day before, so we all went to Amy’s Drive Thru for breakfast, as it was the only vegan-friendly place open early.
When we got to the pumpkin patch, Giovanni and I spent longer than expected trying to pick which pass to get, and of course the kids wanted the super-super $18 passes to do all the activities. We ended up getting three $8/$12 super passes and a regular $2 pass for Giovanni (I got a super pass so I could use the pillow jumpers…). The lady behind us overheard our debate about the prices, and she said this was like going to Disneyland.
Stephanie immediately spotted the haunted house, and in honor of facing my fears and keeping her happy (and a lot of convincing), I agreed to go. I asked Giovanni and his cousin to join us, but Gio’s pass wasn’t expensive enough and Alexis was too scared. Apparently, Stephanie’s and mine weren’t eligible either, so we couldn’t go. Oh no, too bad….. 😀
The kids went on the inflatable slide next, but I didn’t want to go. One, no other adults were in line, other than the ones guiding their very small child, and two, slides make me uncomfortable. Even the smallest of slides.
Afterwards, I split from the group to get water and check out the petting zoo. As a vegan superhero, I had to judge and observe the wellness levels of the animals.
The hens were beautiful. I don’t know why, but I find so much joy in watching them wander around and dig through the dirt, searching for nibbles. They’re such sweet creatures. I really wanted to hug one. In the same pen, there were ducks sleeping together in the shade. In a separate pen, there were young pigs who looked energetic and healthy, though I couldn’t get close to them since I didn’t have the ultimate $18 pass (which Gio and I wouldn’t buy for a “petting zoo”). The sheep and goats (I think Giovanni later said there were also rabbits) all passed my inspection, when I came across two calves… they looked malnourished, with their rib cages peeking out and shaft bones visible. There was even a veal house (I don’t know specifically what it’s called, but dairy farms keep a male calf in one while raising him for slaughter, later to be sold as “veal”)… I then made my way back to the family.
After they finished playing in the cornbox, they spotted a popcorn stand and ran to it, begging for popcorn. Both of them wanted their own giant $10 bag, but I convinced Giovanni to get the smaller $5 bags (I know they won’t finish the giant ones!). They snacked on popcorn as we all headed over to the petting zoo, and I told Giovanni about the calves. When we got there, both calves were in the veal house with their heads in a corner.
We finished the pumpkin patch with more cornbox fun and pillow jumping. Gio’s cousin wanted to get his face painted and picked a full-faced Frankenstein design that cost $18. I told Giovanni that we were going to buy face-paint for home, but Alexis really wanted his face painted now. Giovanni asked him to choose another, and the second pick was $12. Even the cheapest option was $6 dollars..! Alexis ended up getting a tiger-face design for $12. In my head it was really expensive, but they were talented face-painters and Alexis was happy (most important). I’m understanding more and more why people say kids are expensive…
I wasn’t in the best mood that day (reason for lack of photos), so I didn’t enjoy the pumpkin patch as much as I would have, but Gio and I made the kids happy, making the day a good one.
P.S. Since the passes, popcorn, and face-paint ended up robbing us, we didn’t buy any pumpkins…
Bake Halloween-themed treats.
I found a yummy pumpkin-bread recipe and an even yummier pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe (!!!), wrote down every ingredient I needed to buy, and… didn’t make either.
However! I did make a Halloween-fied lunch for Giovanni one day…
Apparently, all those memes about couples and pizza are true, because Giovanni and I have shared countless pizza nights together. One guy even gawked at us when he saw the waitress bring a huge pizza to our table – I think he was judging us. Veganism has not stopped our pizza-loving lives. In fact, it is my most experimented-with dish.
When Giovanni wanted pizza a few days ago, I decided to use my pumpkin cookie cutters to make mini pizzas as a surprise. The pumpkins were much bigger in my mind… but not small enough to stop me! They would be vegan pizza-pumpkin-bites!
First, I made the dough. So fancy, I know. We buy a bag that comes with a flour mixture and yeast, and then add water and olive oil. We might need vanilla too, but I can’t remember.
After refrigerating the dough for two hours and prepping all the veggies, I half-rolled half-patted it as evenly as I could, and then made little pumpkin cut-outs. The dough cooperated a lot better than the cookie dough, and I appreciated that.
With the edges that the pumpkin cut-outs left, I made bat-bites that were meant to be appetizers, but… kind of just ended up taking as long as the main course and burning in the process. I even tried to do cute plating.
The pizza-bites came out delicious, but they didn’t look like pumpkins (looks like a pizza massacre, really). We had leftovers for two days, which is pretty awesome.
Go to San Francisco.
Giovanni didn’t make it to San Francisco with me, but I got to spend a lot of time with my friend, Isela, from high school!
Giovanni’s aunt dropped stressed-out me at the bus station, and I hurried to the office to check my bag in. I thought I barely made it, but it turned out that my bus was going to be 45 minutes late. No one told me this, but I found out via a bus tracker online. That’s when I also realized I forgot to charge my phone and it was at 25%. I texted Isela and then listened to some music against proper phone discretion.
I expected the bus to have a tray table for reading material or a laptop, but it didn’t. The person in front of me put their seat down, and I hadn’t considered that when picking my seat. I squished my bag and water gallon between my legs and had to sit sideways to use my laptop. At first I was using my phone, but the batter dropped to 5%…
When we arrived my phone was at 2%, and then it died when I tried texting Isela that I was here. I teetered on the edge of panic but calmly went inside the bus station to ask an employee where to go. She told me to find Market Street two blocks away. With a deep breath, I set out on my own, knowing that if I got lost I could return to the station and regroup.
When I got to Market Street (after needing to ask a family where I was), I found the underground bus station and started looking around for Isela. I couldn’t find her anywhere, and that’s when I started worrying. I wandered all around the station, and when I couldn’t find her, I went to an information desk and asked if they had an Android charger. They only had iPhone chargers but told me there was a store nearby where I could buy one. As I stepped away, I felt that sinking feeling one gets before crying, and I took a few breaths, telling myself to think rationally. I decided to check my computer for wi-fi connection, and lucky enough there were lots of public connections! Isela actually messaged me that she and her friend were running late and relief flooded through me when I messaged back, saying I was here. She responded that they arrived as well, and at that moment I saw her coming up the stairs. I wanted to cry when we hugged.
Since I arrived at 6PM and the sun was setting fast, we didn’t go out that night except to buy groceries. I made a huge plate of pasta with mushrooms and marinara sauce, and for dessert, I devoured a bunch of chocolate chip cookies. And olives, because I love olives. Isela’s friend stayed with us the night, spending his evening playing video games (and trash talking) online with his friends, while we worked and made a bunch of crazy videos on Snap Chat. Isela made most of the punchlines, and I sat and laughed at the funny filters.
The next day we visited Japantown! Our time consisted of browsing sooo maaany cuuute stooores! I hunted down stickers, stationary, and anything else cute or cool. Since our friendship bloomed from a shared love of anime, we visited all the anime-centric stores as well. Much to my disappointment though, I haven’t had the time to watch much anime lately. Seeing all the merchandise and colourful characters reignited my love of the pop-culture, and I hope to get back into it in the coming future. Going to an anime convention would be great!
We also went into an arcade, where I lost to Isela’s button-mashing skills in Street Fighter. She went on to face opponents up to round 4, and I tried desperately to win myself a kawaii kitty keychain. ❤I tried strategizing by going for a kitty close to the prize drop. After my third attempt and failure, a young boy smiled and gave me a token before disappearing. Thinking life and fate were putting my kitty and me together, I played my final round.
Isela didn’t win any prizes either, unfortunately.
Next we went to Pika Pika for deco-photobooth fun, and because I wore a green shirt I blended into the green-screened backgrounds. The first and last time we came here, I got a stamp card and protected it in my wallet. Months and months later, I handed it in for another stamp… and the lady told me that they got a new stamp card. I asked if my old stamps could carry over, and she said no.
Not cool, Pika Pika. I don’t appreciate that… 😥
We went to a couple more anime-centric stores, where Isela bought a new Gundam (a mecha figure you assemble yourself) for her collection, and fate finally lead me to my kawaii kitty keychain: the cat from Sumikko Gurashi!
Finally we finished in Japantown, and Isela starting crashing from hunger. Next we headed off to the Castro (Gay District) and got Thai food. Eating with her was like eating with Giovanni: I ordered a vegetable fried rice dish and she ordered a noodle dish. My dish had pieces of fried tofu, and I initially had no idea what it was. When I tried a piece, it tasted too much like egg, so I picked it out and ignored it, until Isela tried a bit and assured me it was tofu. I ate a couple more pieces until the aftertaste haunted me (tofu has a very distinct aftertaste).
For dessert we went to Hot Cookie, a bakery famous for its erotic cookies. I’ll admit that I wanted a penis cookie for the immature giggling, but they weren’t vegan. I went in and asked about vegan cookies, and the guy said they had almond butter gingersnaps, pointing to a tray with a single, tiny cookie, amidst the overflowing trays of baked delights.
Isela bought a penis cookie, and the guy asked if I wanted the gingersnap, and when I said yes, he gave it to me free! Turns out he is vegan too. Woohoo, vegan buddies!
During lunch, we watched as the wind started picking up, and after getting our cookies, it got really chilly. With a little dismay, we decided to head home. Isela wanted to get back in time for The Walking Dead season premier anyway.
I wish we could have stayed out and explored more, but hopefully Giovanni will come next time, and we’ll have more time to spend in the city and see Isela. I’d love to take funny and weird pictures at Pika Pika together. ┌|_ _|┘♪└|-.-|┐♪┌|^.^|┘♪
I bought two postcards – one for my parents and one for my grandma, a Tsumineko sticker book, an origami-pattern sticker sheet of cats, a Mario keychain blind-“box” for Giovanni, and a Sumikko Gurashi cat keychain. 🙂
The next morning I packed, made the remaining pasta, and listened to K-pop, complete with dance performances by Isela. Our original plan was to wander around campus, but the weather made it a great morning to stay inside and keep doing what we’re doing.
And very soon, I was on the once again delayed bus (on the bright side, I checked online before heading out to the station), heading home.
Stephanie and I planned to make a guessing game out of this, but we ended up telling the other what we were painting each other’s face. Since she was painting me as Harley Quinn, I asked her if I could paint her face like the Joker. She declined, wanting to be a vampire instead.
After painting my eyes, Stephanie and I looked up pictures of Harley Quinn and saw that some make-up artists made small smudges and cuts to showcase the fighter-side of the character. Stephanie took this to the extreme and, even after we shot our final-look pictures, kept decorating my face with injuries.
When we finished, Stephanie scrubbed her face clean, while I smeared my face-paint and looked crazy and burned (should have taken a picture). I even startled Giovanni later. On accident, I swear.
Decorate a pumpkin.
One day, a pumpkin appeared on the dining table, and I asked Giovanni if I could have it. The pumpkin actually belonged to him, ordered via an online vegetable shipping service he forgot to cancel, and I smiled in glee, asking if he’d decorate it with me. He said yes, but we never got around to it. If I can, I’ll still use the pumpkin to make pumpkin-themed treats.
Make and decorate cookies.
Sugar cookies and I don’t mix well. I’m so serious that I won’t even point out that accidental pun. I can’t make a decent sugar cookie, even after several attempts, both pre and post vegan. They turn out flavorless, sometimes dry. These cookies were advertised as “the best sugar cookies ever,” so I had my hopes up.
Mixing the ingredients went fine, but then came time to roll (pat) out the dough and begin using cookie cutters (the pumpkin and bat)…
The dough was SO sticky that we loaded it up with flour and, to counteract the flour’s lack of taste, powdered sugar. We made several cut-outs in the dough, but even after smothering it with flour and powdered sugar we couldn’t scrape any up.
Utterly frustrated, I squished up my dough and just sat, contemplating giving up. Yet with all of mine and Stephanie’s efforts and promising cookies to the family, we couldn’t give up!
I rolled and patted out another slab of dough and decided to cook it partially, cut-out cookies, and then toss them back in. I figured we could still decorate and eat the scraps too. Then I decided we’d roll the rest of the dough into balls, and that proved a better plan, as we only got two pumpkins and some bats from the cookie slab. Since the dough was still super sticky, the balls weren’t that easy to make either – we added cinnamon to some for classy points. Stephanie drove me crazy, because she kept licking her fingers and after working with the dough, and I had to send her to the sink, again and again.
After hours of work (seriously, this wasn’t easy!), all our cookies were done and I made five colours of delicious vegan frosting.
Gio’s dad came over at this time, and he and Stephanie went to Panda Express. He invited me as well, but I chose to stay home and clean (Panda Express isn’t vegan-friendly either). During clean-up, I kept smothering the cookie scraps with frosting and eating them. The frosting saved them, as they were otherwise tasteless crumbs of sugar-dough.
When Stephanie came home, we finally embellished our day’s work with frosting, chocolate chips, and sprinkles. There was something about committing nearly all day to making these cookies that made the pay off of decorating them so satisfying. We loved it. I even felt like I could and would do it again. Unfortunately I didn’t, but that’s where inspiration for the pizza bites arose.
Alexis and his mom (Gio’s aunt that I’ve mentioned) came home from a party around then and helped us finish decorating. At the very end, Alexis spilled half the container of orange sprinkles and got banned from the table.
I think Christmas cookies are next! Maybe the cookie part will finally taste good too.
Prepare for NaNoWriMo.
I would say that I’ve done more prepping for NaNoWriMo during November, but I did draw some character concept sketches. I found myself torn between a story of superheroes and a story of astrological beings (Virgo, Aries, etc.), and ended up choosing a third story about a girl who gets magically exiled from her hometown.
These drawings are mostly from the superheroes story.
Get a job.
This goal got pushed aside for family matters. For all of November, I’m going to be out-of-town, and in December I am leaving again, so I’m going to save the job-hunt for the coming year. I used to have anxiety about working again, but I’m coming around to the idea. I still have social anxiety though, which makes me not want to have a job throwing me into customer’s faces. Although when I was a busser, my confidence and people-skills improved, so I know out of all the issues I stress over, I can get a handle on social skills… time and practice will help, but I believe in myself.
Manage my time.
Due to the bump in the middle of the month, this goal wasn’t exactly accomplished. However, I’m learning how to plan better, and I think I’ll spend some more time figuring out a schedule/planner system in my journal. I’m currently a terrible planner past putting dates on a calendar.
October had its good and bad, but as the first month I gave myself public goals, I’m happy with the results. When I was happy, I definitely had fun and appreciated the abundance of fun and happy goals versus a lot of stressful ones. I think that’s a good lesson in life for everyone, including myself. Important and hard-working goals are for foundation, but to keep our spirits light and imaginative, the playful goals are just as meaningful.
What else happened in October?
After four weeks of planning, Giovanni and I finally got to take Stephanie and Alexis on Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory tour! First we saw a video about the history of Mrs. Grossman’s impact on the sticker industry and how stickers are made. We also got one of the red heart stickers that started Mrs. Grossman’s legacy. As we went around to see the different machines, we were given more free stickers! The kids loved it. Okay, I loved it too. Blue lines directed us where we could safely stand, but when we got to the storage area we were allowed to wander. On Mrs. Grossman’s sticker timeline, I found cat stickers that I had as a kid!
Mrs. Grossman’s also produces wine labels, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures. There were plenty of other stickers to look at and takes pictures of though!
❤ So. Many. Stickers. ❤
The tour lasted a little longer, and then we were given a packet with even more stickers and a blank postcard to decorate! Giovanni wanted to browse the store and save his postcard for later, while the kids and I decorated ours. Stephanie made a tea-party theme and later accused me of copying her idea (which I didn’t; we only had so many stickers to choose from, and I wanted to limit myself strictly to what I received on the tour, in homage to the experience). Alexis stuck his stickers on his postcard pretty fast, enjoying the activity but also as eager to browse and buy more stickers. Of course they both wanted a ton of stuff, but we all limited ourselves. The kids got their own picks of stickers and pyramid drawers that they spent the rest of the day decorating with their stickers… they were so adorable and happy!
Giovanni and I each bought a mystery box loaded with mini sticker sheets, and I also bought a Chalk Talk sticker sheet and a cat sticker sheet (the same one on the timeline).
Later after Giovanni’s evening class, we went to Open Mic. He’s been going for almost two months, and I’ve accompanied him to about half. This was his big week, where he’d rap in front of a large audience..! He’s rapped in front of our class before (I wrote about it that last November), and in Spring, he took a singing class where he had to sing formally in front of the class, and whoever else they brought, with a pianist and spotlight. Open Mic was expected to be the biggest audience yet..
The slots were all filled up except for the 8:30PM slot, and the main hosts of Open Mic were going to be late. There was another guy who could handle the tech work, but what bummed Giovanni out was that the audience was incredibly slim and he was going up first. Still, he did his best and got an enthusiastic applause after.
Even though the audience turn-out wasn’t what we expected or hoped for (the front seats are usually empty), that is the life of a creative entity. I’m incredibly proud of him, and I think he should be proud too. To listen to some of Giovanni’s work, check out his Instagram. If you like what he does, give it a heart and comment. Support means everything! ❤
And thank you for supporting me and reading this long post! What was an accomplishment(s) you made this October? Good luck to all of us for November!