Three years later. Some time around 4-6am on May 30th (it happened to be Memorial Day that Monday – funny, because I’ll never forget), life struck. And I don’t know if I’ll ever have the courage to share what I experienced in the months after the accident. Those who know me, know I make jokes about everything, literally everything. Life is just more fun that way. I don’t know where I’m going with this. I’m letting my thoughts flow through my fingertips at this point, and so early in my post.
On May 30th, 2014, I celebrated the third annual “Survivor Day” (because we all need our own holidays). It was a little different this time around. Life is a lot different this time around.
It’s a subtle reminder that time keeps ticking even if you had to slow yourself down for one, two or three years.
Survivor Day took place on a Friday, the busiest day of the week. I did the usual two-hour Los Angeles morning commute and the usual digital work load. I knew what the day meant to me but it was still a Friday, the busiest day of the week.
My lower back began hurting around two in the afternoon. Did I mention it was the busiest day of the week? I kept working though, anxious to leave even a few minutes early to somehow burn those minutes in traffic to get home a few seconds early. Pains began zapping around my lower midsection. Familiar. Not exactly sure what Zeus was punishing me for but the bolts eventually accumulated above my hip bones splitting in two on each side of my lumbar spine.
A little over a year ago, my bones grew strong enough to hold me up without the need of metal assistance. I could have kept the screws, bolts (it all looked like car parts) in but two nails actually stuck out of my back creating visible bumps. Not only were they visible, they would get stuck when I sat in chairs with holes. No hyperbole. If the chair was light enough, it would lift when I stood. Super-straight-face-in-all-seriousness rise from the ground like a mini forklift.
The pain was coming from where the three-inch screws used to be. Exactly in the two spots where the metal attempted to break through.
I later realized all my pains that day lined up with the different stages my body went through in the recovery process. I’ll pass on the details, but if my body could talk. It reminded me that it remembers. Everything.
Three years later and I felt my first set of ghost pains. At least I didn’t celebrate alone.
Back in 2009, after I signed up for my first blogspot account, I remember thinking, ok what now?
There was so much I wanted to share –
celebrity Kardashian news, who wore what, gossip, basically whatever TMZ was sharing (I felt so cool for reading TMZ before it was ever on television. That makes me semi-OG, guys). I wanted to talk about something in entertainment but I didn’t know what I could write besides news, news, news. Hell, I barely knew how to write. I just knew that I wanted to share information.
So I practiced.
I wrote celebrity news in my very newsy writing voice. I distinctly remember writing something involving Khloe Kardashian (and no, I’m not linking you to any old blogspot blog posts because no) and sharing it with my Facebook friends. I received nice feedback from people who knew I was trying, but eventually others began teasing me for being quote, unquote – a blogger.
Oh, are you going to put this in your little blog? Hahaha, don’t tell me you’re gonna blog about it. Make sure you don’t include this part in your *guffaws* blog. Like, no, I’m writing about how Kanye West is just like us not about you getting wasted at your lame event.
I’m writing this in case you’re having second thoughts about continuing your blogging journey, not because you’re bored of it, but because of the negative person yapping in your ear.
We all have our own little space on the internet. Some do more with it than others. And if you want to dedicate a site to your dog then by all means, go for it. If you want to share grandma’s treasured recipes with the world wide web, do it. If you want to write about Kim, Kourtney and Khloe, then Godspeed.
Blogs can be whatever we want it to be. It’s our space to share information so don’t be afraid to publish a post. No one has a perfect first post, anyways. You might think you look silly, but at least you’re doing it. That’s more than I can say for the person giving you a hard time. It’s easier to troll than to take action. Have you read any YouTube comments lately? You might think people are getting paid to be rude.
Don’t get discouraged just stay consistent. I would say do it to prove to whomever teased you that you mean business and that he/she didn’t phase you. But then again, this is about you owning your space and you don’t have to prove anything to anyone but yourself.
Whatever your story is… share! Happy blogging!
Photo credit: my iPhone 5
Let me let you in on a little secret.
I don’t know how to dance salsa.
Shhhhh. It’s something I’ve lived with all my teen to adulthood. I kinda just relied on my brown-ness and shoulder shimmy to carry me through Fania All-Stars and Oscar D’León singles. I can’t fake it with my family though. THEY KNOW.
I’ve always admired the way my father dances. Always with a big smile, gracefully taking each step and living in the moment. I hated missing those moments. When I was transitioning out of my wheelchair to the walker two years ago, he asked me to dance with him at a cousin’s birthday party. The dancing mainly consisted of me holding myself up on his arms and taking baby steps in place. I couldn’t dance. I could barely stand but I knew when I was ready, I was going to learn.
I flirted with dancing lessons on Groupon last year but never got around to paying for it. Something about it didn’t feel right. Or maybe I was just cheap. Either way, it didn’t happen.
What did happen was, sometime around the holidays, I received a mass Facebook invite from a friend to a salsa-and-bachata dance class, hosted by a group called Just Listen Feel Dance Collective. I checked out the invite – Wednesdays from 7-9pm in Los Angeles and free? DONE.
I wanted to experience the class first before I shared the news. So I attended the first class (1 of 10) last night which consisted of one hour of salsa and one hour of bachata. I don’t know how to dance bachata either – so, score!
The classes are free if you do three things: 1) do something active like hike, run, swim, etc. 2) be reflective which is done in class (you can cross that one off quick) 3) participate in a day of community service aka volunteer! If you already volunteer on your own, feel free to cross that one off the list too. Easy, right? Just snap a pic of what you do and share it with the hashtags, #JLFD and #DanceLifeHealthyLife. The reason for those requirements is because it aligns with the group’s mission statement focusing on the physical, emotional and human spirit.
The classes take place at Mercado La Paloma on Grand Ave., close to where the 110 and 10 freeways meet and close to USC. All the information you’ll need, you can find in the official Facebook invite.
I left with a huge smile on my face even after working all day because dancing is fun! Even if you don’t have an assigned partner. Partners get switched up during class anyways so you’ll be forced to talk to new people. Ahhh, scary. OMG. Whatever, it’s no biggie. Strangers don’t bite… err, I shouldn’t jinx you. I’m sure you’ll be fine.
As for me, I can’t wait to dance with my father and not step on his feet. Yeah, it happens. I blame it on the pressure. When you’re in a room full of dancing Peruvians and you’re the token one with two left feet, you kinda get looked at (still). You would think after 26 years, they would get used to it. Nope. But I shall fear no more.
Best of all, no more missed moments.
On that note, sing it for me, Marc Anthony. “Voy a reír, voy a bailar. Vivir mi vida lalalalá.”
*This is part of my “26 Things To Do While I’m 26″ bucket list. It’s actually the first one I can cross off my list. Yay!
Is your Twitter bio made up of the quote, “f*ck bitches, get money”? Unless you’re a rapper or making a $1,342,425 income, I’m going to have to ask you to delete it. Please. FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR FUTURE.
Hello there. Let me be the first to welcome you to the adult, job-hunting, internship-seeking world of Twitter. It’s not so bad. We just have less scandalous profile pictures and a slightly more polished Twitter bio. While there are a few exceptions to the rules (there are always exceptions), it’s better to play it safe than sorry while looking for your dream position. Here. We. Go.
1. USE YOUR REAL NAME
If not for your Twitter handle, then for the “name” section of your bio. It’s understandable if you’re a private person but if you’re really looking to make connections with working professionals then I’d suggest for you to step outside your comfort zone. Trust me, you want people to know you by your real name and not by your college frat nickname. As for your twitter username, keep it simple and try to include your first name somehow. Here are some examples using my name — Janice. ex. @itsjanice, @thejanice, @janiceiscool — ehh, obviously I’m not creative enough so I just went with my full name, @janicellamoca. Oh! And whatever you decide to use, keep it consistent throughout all your social networks.
2. USE A CLASSY PICTURE OF YOURSELF
For now, let’s refrain from using pictures of you and your amigo, Patrón. A simple picture of your awesome face will do or a zoomed-out picture from the waist up if you’re not too fond of your face will also do. I suggest a smile. It’s friendly. People like friendly. And that’s who you are right? A people person.
3. CREATE A CONCISE INFORMATIONAL BIO
You have exactly 160 characters to say something about yourself. Have fun with it. If you’re in school, make sure to include your college and major. Personally, I am more willing to tweet or chat with a student that has career questions over a complete stranger. You might even get lucky and chat with someone who’s an alumnus of the school you’re attending. BOOM! That’s networking. For more tips on writing a Twitter bio, check out these useful pointers that Mashable put together.
Before I forget, make sure you have a link to include in your profile. You don’t need a whole website or a blog. Anyone can make a great homepage on about.me and it’s free! The layout is simple, clean and nice on the eyes. I highly recommend signing up for one to use as a bio/resume.
4. FOLLOW YOUR INDUSTRY HEROES
Some call it Twitter stalking, I call it research. Find out who’s in a position that you aspire to be in and follow them. If you want to work in media, follow journalists, news outlets and anyone else you think may be good to follow. Check out their websites, which are often linked in their profiles, and read their bios. If they partake in industry talk (ex. fashion, music, whatever you’re interested in), then join in the conversation. If they don’t answer, tweet them again the next time they open a discussion to Twitter. Trust me, about 70% will remember your username and some may even follow you back. Oh, happy day!
5. KEEP YOUR TIMELINE INTERESTING
Twitter allows you to share whatever is on your mind, which can be a good or bad thing. Balance is the key. I’m assuming you keep up with the news in the field you wish to work in so… share links! Sharing information and your opinion lets your voice be heard and shows potential Twitter followers that you know what you’re talking about. It’s perfectly OK to talk about personal matters because after all, we are humans not robots but don’t sound like an emotional wreck. I know I’d stay away from hiring an emotionally unbalanced intern. So, links, opinions and tweets about your favorite show – YES! Tweets about how much you hate your ex and your step-by-step plot of revenge – NOPE!
Note: When you get hired, feel free to throw all these rules out the window.
I’m not much of a cook. I’d rather clean the kitchen and do the dishes over cook. But I do like to eat.
With that being said I figured I’d find an easy (and delicious!) recipe to whip up to add to my family’s Thanksgiving table. As most of you know, I’m Peruvian so I thought I’d be nice to make something with a Peruvian influence.
Lucuma is a subtropical fruit native to the Andean valleys of Peru. Some call the fruit the “Gold of the Incas,” “egg fruit,” or just plain ol’ superfood. If you live outside of Peru, you’ll have better luck finding the fruit as a powder (buy it from Amazon or your local health food store) which is better in my opinion. You can add it to smoothies, cottage cheese, yogurt, drinks, anything! I’ve read that lucuma tastes like a mango crossed with an apricot but I can’t really describe it for you (besides it being sweet and OMG lucuma!) because I’ve been eating lucuma-flavored ice cream since I was a child. If you’re interested in knowing some of it’s beneficial properties, feel free read more about it on LIVESTRONG.
Anyways, back to the cheesecake! The recipe is VERY easy and since I was a procrastinator and bought some ingredients the day before, I used cream cheese instead of neufchâtel cheese. The lady at Trader Joe’s told me they taste the same. I trust her. Oh, and I used a 9-inch graham cracker crust and I thought it was too small so maybe the 10-inch crust might work better! You can see my finished product pictured above. Yay, go me!
Enjoy! Find the Lucuma No-Bake Cheesecake with Cranberry Topping Recipe here.
What is the new normal?
According to the end-all reference Urban Dictionary, the new normal is the current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired.
The rest of the UD entry is gold. The new normal encourages one to deal with current situations rather than lamenting what could have been. Like, whoever wrote it needs to be my friend.
Feeling “normal” is something that I’ve been struggling with since the night of the accident. Deep down, I knew it was just a matter of time. Like that annoying cliché saying that makes you want to bop someone on the head as soon as the words leave their lips. “Time heals all.” *shudders* Time heals, that’s true. But does it heal all?
The great Sean Carter once said, “after the show it’s the after party then after the tragic event it’s the mourning period.” Something like that. But my slightly altered rap lyric holds truth. The mourning period is inevitable.
We — feel free to exclude yourself if this doesn’t apply — mourn because essentially we lost our normality or what we considered normal. Mourning is necessary. Crying is essential. And most importantly, your worries are important because they’re important to you. Never let anyone tell you that “it’s not a big deal.”
When I used to talk about the car accident, my injuries and what I went through to recover, I always ended it with “it wasn’t too bad.” I’m still not sure why I felt the need to tack on a few words at the end, to completely minimize what I went through. I think I didn’t want to accept what had happened. Nah, that’s it. I didn’t want to accept any of it.
My body went through the motions but my mind hid in a safe place. In a place where I could easily jump out of my hospital bed and run. Safely padded from reality.
I remember the looks on my doctors’ and physical therapists’ faces when I’d ask if I’d ever be back to “normal.” “Time will tell but we can’t be sure.” TIME. So I held on to time as long as I could like it was a waiting list and I was waiting for the cure.
The only problem was that I never saw the need to deal with my changes because TIME. Instead, I focused on my past and honed in on what could have been. I began comparing myself to my old self, the “normal” one. I was obsessed with going back to the way I used to be. I refused to adapt. I didn’t want to meet my new self.
A wise lady once asked me, “why do you like making your life so difficult?” I replied, “if I adapt, I’ll be accepting that this is the way my life will have to be.” She smiled. “It doesn’t have to be forever. If this is temporary, there’s nothing wrong with making the transition easier and if this is permanent, well, at least you’ll be happy.”
It’s only in the latter half of 2013 where I find myself embracing my new normal. Making smaller changes to adapt without losing hope. Time heals, yes. And when you finally have the courage to welcome your entire self, flaws and all, then I guess that little cliché saying is true. Time will heal all.
Note: the picture is a piece of my medical reports snapped for dramatic purposes. dun dun dunnn.