More letting in, more letting go. (Minimalism, post 9.)

I was telling a friend the other day that since I’ve embarked on minimalism, my emotional crisis impulse is to raid my closet to see what else I can get rid of.

The rest of the time, I’m still trying to be conscientious when it comes to purchasing.

There’s purchasing that adds to your things for no reason (want), there’s purchasing that adds to your things for a valid reason (need), and there’s purchasing in order to replace things that need to be replaced.

I have a problem replacing things that need to be replaced (not products I’ve used up – that’s a different kind of replacement), as you may remember from my post about a sweater I wore until it fell apart, and another one about my disintegrating t-shirt from the 80’s.

It was this problem that largely steered me into minimalism. I didn’t feel good being so attached to things that I couldn’t bear to part with them. It’s not healthy to love an article of clothing so much that I wear it to death but continue wearing it because I can’t let it go. You can’t be truly selfless if you’re held back by material attachments. Not to mention, material things shouldn’t matter so much that I go around looking like I rose from the dead wearing what I wore when I was buried.

I recently had to say good-bye to my house slippers and my favorite jacket. It’d become uncomfortable to walk in the slippers with their soles torn up into a lumpy mess. And the jacket? Its day of reckoning was the day I put it on over a bralette and found large flakes of dead jacket all over my collarbones and upper chest when I took it off.


Jacket and slippers looking not too bad on the surface.


These look okay, right? But get up close at certain angles, and it’s apparent that the jacket’s long gone. Turn the slippers over, and it’s apparent that I’m a crazy person for continuing to wear them.

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you)


No comment necessary.


Those slippers!! They do look fine when they’re on, went the reasoning of my denial. The top and the insides are still in good condition! They look pretty good! It’s just the soles (only the most important part) that wore away into pieces.

I admit that I entertained the idea of duct tape for the slipper soles.

The slippers were cheap and flimsy, but I wore them year-round for almost two years, regardless of the heat. The fake leather jacket was also cheap and flimsy, and it actual did very well in lasting as long as it did. I bought it at Charlotte Russe in 2008, and I wore it relentlessly for the next 10 years, even in the summer. AZ air conditioning is no joke. You could get frostbite in such conditions.

So I picked up replacement slippers at Ross, and I found, on the Charlotte Russe website, an updated version of the same jacket! It’ll be just as cheap and flimsy, but I know it’ll be good for 10 years.

As for repurchasing things I’d used up: I got off my ass to do that the other night (I’d already filled my cart at The Body Shop, but I’d been sitting on it. It took a mental health mini-crisis to prod me into checking out). What also happened, though, was three lipsticks made their way into the cart that night. I’d been thinking of trying lip colors outside of my comfort zone, but I’d be lying if I said that my obsession with Krysten Ritter’s lips in Jessica Jones had nothing to do with it. Being obsessed with Krysten Ritter’s lips is not a good reason to buy lipsticks, I’m aware.

All in all, I’m pleased with my ongoing efforts to minimize around here. It’s become second-nature to get rid of things. Raiding my closet to purge when I’m upset? I’m happy with that.



First-novel problems: stabbing in the dark. (Writing updates!)

Callaghan said that I look like a teenage boy in this pic, and I guess I can see it. I’m ragged and bare-faced, and my hair is a casualty of my indecision dragging itself out. (I can’t decide what I want to say when I go to get my hair cut, so I just haven’t gone to get it cut.) Then, of course, I filtered the image to make it look even more terrible, because why not. This is the opposite of the way you normally see me. This is my grungy Gen-X writer’s self-portrait.


The joy of having a bluetooth selfie stick/tripod: I can glance up at the camera and capture myself looking the way I’m feeling, good or bad.


Second draft progress: It’s been wild… wild, but going well. I’m past the half-way point. I’ve been mostly nonplussed. Some chapters I’ve encountered have been so rough, they were like mere templates. Others were already so polished, I glided over them. Some I’d thought were good, then found them to be problematic, and conversely, I’ve come across chapters I’d loathed, then loved upon second reading. The whole thing has been a crap-shoot.

Bottom line, I’m a better writer now than when I started, so deep edits and re-writes have been in order. Have I said all of this before? Writing this first novel has amounted to on-the-job training, self-motivated, self-taught, and hesitant. I leaped out of my comfort zone with this prose project, but I kept one foot in. Poetry. My comfort zone is poetry.

I’m happy with my progress, I’d say, even while knowing that the result will never be “perfect” in my eyes. Is it ever, for anyone? I’d bet that no writer feels that their work is perfect. At the core of it all, I love what I’m doing, and I’m grateful for that.


Crazy plant lady. (Office updates!)

Welcome back to my office! My plant family has grown since my last update. I love that the only color in my writing space is alive.

Plants give me life from the inside out, fueling me from the inside and providing a lovely source of creative energy from the outside. My desk still sits at an angle toward the center of the room, facing the window, and I’ve now surrounded myself with plants.

I’ve moved most of these guys around since my December office update. Some of the plants have been re-potted. One of them has departed this world, sadly, and two of them are new. Let’s look around!

Behind me and slightly to my right (on the wall to the left of the door): Icarus.


Icarus (re-potted since my December update)


Behind me on the left side: Hercules and Angel (on the corner stand re-purposed from the patio). These two are my newest. I discovered Hercules on a dusty shelf at Walmart, all by himself, alone and bedraggled. He’s doing so well now!

Angel sits beneath, on the second shelf. I picked him up from the florist’s section at Fry’s. He’s also doing well, though he’s quite fragile. He’s an aluminum plant.

(The color of the walls in here – in the whole house – is so strange and sensitive to light and camera angle. The wall can look like two different colors even in the same pic!)


(from top) Hercules and Angel


Here’s a close-up of Hercules… I’m so pleased with how he’s thrived in the short time he’s been here! I’m going to re-pot both Hercules and Angel in the next few weeks. They’re strong enough for it now.




Moving along, slightly behind me and to my left (and to the left of the printer): Jerome.


Jerome, my second.


To the left of my desk, to the right of my printer: Holder. I’m glad to say that he’s doing well. Linden, his partner, did not make it, I’m afraid. RIP Linden.


Holder (re-potted since my December update)


Just in front of my desk and to the left: Robbie. We migrated him to my office from the living room. Within 24 hours of moving him in here, he spread out, opened up, and turned a lighter, brighter shade of green. Plants love the strong daylight in this room! There’s no direct sunlight in here, so all of these guys are low-light/indirect sunlight plants.

I pulled this small table out of the closet so Robbie could sit in the middle of the room, rather than against a wall. It’s perfect for him.




A better look at Robbie (as I see him from my desk):




My view sometimes includes Nenette sleeping on the futon behind Robbie.


Nenette napping on the futon.


Finally, Barclay, my first, sits further out in front of my desk and to the right, same place he’s been… I did have to purchase this stand for him, though, as he needed a greater height. His tendrils had grown to where they were coiling on the floor. I found this cheap little metal stand at Ross.


Barclay, two angles


Here we are, full circle… and a full circle, it is. I don’t think I’m imagining the cooler note I feel in the air here, or the scent, loamy and damp and fresh. I haven’t burned candles in here since I started cultivating this little oasis in my desert office.

I’ll post an actual writing update next week. Office, part two!

Ruthless. (February Favorites!)

I’m a little embarrassed looking at this list. For being such a short month, we sure watched a lot of T.V. in February.

Of the little things that helped to brighten our days (or distract, as it were) in February, there was one stand-out vegan junk food item, and only two non-food items: a perfume and a household cleaner, of all things. No skin care on the list this time! I haven’t run out of anything, and I’m loving everything I’m currently using. I have been testing out a product, though – actually an item – so you might see that on next month’s list. I need another month with it to get a good idea of how I like it.

Back to the aforementioned T.V. escapism-fest. We didn’t catch any fight cards in February, nor was there Sumo to watch, so that left us with more screen-time for Netflix and the like. It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. Of the six series listed in this post, we only binge-watched three. There’s one ongoing series, and there are two complete seasons of series we just haven’t finished yet.

On with the list, then!


1). Black Panther



We went out to see just one movie in February, and we did well to choose this one. Black Panther  was absolutely worth the excursion. Black Panther is awesome. Its superpowers are manyfold, but mainly it’s managed to change the superhero film game, in our opinion, delivering in big, sweeping and important ways. I would have to dedicate an entire post to this film in order to begin trying to discuss my experience with it as a movie-goer. Suffice it say that we walked away feeling like we’d watched something quite profound… not at all what you’d expect when sitting down in front of a superhero flick.


2). Zone Blanche (T.V. series)



This thriller series stars Suliane Brahim, a French actress whose work Callaghan admires, so we thought we’d watch the pilot one night. We went from watching the pilot to binge-watching the whole season. The story’s premise might lack in originality (Silence of the Lambs kept coming to mind), but it held our interest with its mystery. Fine writing and acting had a lot to do with that.


3). Babylon Berlin (T.V. series)



Babylon Berlin is another intriguing and well-wrought foreign-language thriller series – this one’s German (we always watch in the original language with subtitles). We’re enjoying it, but we’re taking it one episode at a time, every few days or so. We’re finding this series to be a hefty bite; you don’t escape into mindless entertainment with this one. You escape by getting drawn into a dark and complex web of we’re not even sure what, at this point.


4). The End of the F*cking World (T.V. series)



Here’s one series we did binge-watch. The End of the F*cking World tells a brilliantly original, neatly-paced story of the misadventures had by two teenagers. You go along for the ride fully immersed in its weirdness, then you’re struck by the sheer poetry of its ending. I was, at least. If you’re up for a dramedy, I highly recommend this one!


5). Everything Sucks! (T.V. series)



We started Everything Sucks! toward the end of the month, and we’re still working on it. This is another fine coming-of-age dramedy. Heavy topics are covered with a light touch, a strategy that works to soften the blows. Youth at high-school age can be uncomfortable and often plain awful, and Everything Sucks! doesn’t let you forget that reality. I’ve done a fair amount of cringing so far, but still, I go back for more. There are a couple of stand-out young actors here whose work, alone, makes it compelling.


6). Imposters (T.V. series)



I’d say that Imposters is the classic escapism vehicle on this list. It’s not especially brilliant or original, but it’s entertaining enough, just light and fun. It’s one of those where you look forward to witnessing the demise of the bad guys, even though you don’t really care that much. This might make you wonder why I’ve included it on my “Favorites” list, right?! I can’t fully remember why we kept watching Imposters on consecutive nights, sometimes more than one episode per night, but watch it all the way to the end, we did. The Bumblers’ shenanigans definitely amused us. As I’d said: escapism.


7). Homeland (Season 7) (T.V. series)



This (7th) season of Homeland is so intense, it’s insane. It wastes no time. It grabbed us by the throat in episode 1, and it tightens with each new episode. This seventh season is my favorite so far. How could Homeland not only get better, but completely outdo itself this late in the duration of the series? The writers, that’s how.


Moving on to the non-entertainment “little things!”


8). Beanfields Pico de Gallo Bean & Rice Chips.


Beanfield’s Pico de Gallo Bean & Rice chips


We discovered Beanfields at our neighborhood farmer’s market down the street. These chips taste as junky as you want your junk food to taste, but they offer 5g protein and 6g fiber per serving… so while they’re not exactly healthy, they do have some nutritional value. They’re vegan, of course, but you should also know that they’re gluten-free, as well; they don’t crunch in quite the same way that average chips crunch. You soon get used to this as the flavor of the chips seeps into your bloodstream where it transforms into an opioid. Kidding. Or not.


9). DefineMe Sofia Isabel Fragrance Mist On The Go.


DefineMe Sofia Isabel Fragrance Mist On The Go


ETA: This fragrance is vegan.

My new favorite fragrance! I found DefineMe Sofia Isabel Fragrance Mist On The Go on Ulta’s website and thought I’d try it. It’s available online, only. Since I was placing an order with the gift card Callaghan gave me for my birthday, it was actually a gift from him, and it worked out surprisingly well (it’s a risk, buying a fragrance without smelling it first). Callaghan loves this fragrance as much as I do. It’s light and crisp, not too sweet, and it develops well with my chemistry. On me, it has great lasting power and sillage, as well. I will be repurchasing this fragrance!


10). Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner (Bluebell scent).


Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner (Bluebell scent)


I don’t know what to say about this cleaning product other than it’s more pleasant to clean when I know I’m not spraying chemicals all over the place. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner is “made with plant-derived ingredients, natural essential oils, and birch bark extract.” I use it on everything, including mirrors, and it works well! Its scent is pleasant, too, but not at all overpowering or even that noticeable.


That wraps it up! We’re stoked about March… it’s a Sumo month, for one thing.

Happy Tuesday, All!

Scene from a Traveling Play (Sharing an original poem.)

I woke up thinking of this poem I’d written several years ago, then thought I’d re-write it and share it with you. This is my day: go to the gym, re-write a poem, feed a tortoise, play with a cat, work on a novel. There could be worse days.

Oh, and look for February Favorites next week Tuesday! The month ended before I could prepare. (Read: my time-management game left much to be desired these last few weeks.)

On with the poem, then.


Scene from a Traveling Play


Imagining you as a child: happy, climbing

a tree where you sit above the campfire

where your mother stirs

sunrise into wood beneath the flames.


If I were to sit next to you, I’d find the branch

no heavier with your lean form,

the pause before you take off like hundreds of birds,

weightless as sparks from the fire.


Years later, you’ll remember the moment you recognized

punk undertones in an Eagles song.


Later yet, you’ll find yourself startled to see the narrative

you’d left – you thought it’d flown off,

too, but it came back

before the wind could tear away the part

describing the fullness of the voice

your mother tried to keep.


You might be as tired as the ribcage of a boy

reaching upward through water, or tired with your eyes

dry in the desert city,

dry like horses

wild as news from town, the last thing you saw

before your canine pierced your tongue-tip –

dry like the cracked tooth, the crusted blood, the scarce rain –

dry like sepia grit and blur of hooves kicking to dust.


Dry like the hands of the last generation.


One thing’s for sure: you’re not an ember

burning slowly from air into the blindness of earth.

You’re the smolder of an oar dipping beneath

the water you’ll never forget.

BodyPump at home: my 1st-experience thoughts. (Les Mills On Demand!)

You guys. I just finished BodyPump #99, and it was no joke. It was also at home.

Les Mills has an online option called “On Demand,” thus you can kick your own ass when you miss a workout at the gym… or when you don’t have a gym membership, at all.

Our one-year Les Mills On Demand subscription was one of my birthday gifts to Callaghan, since he often laments that he doesn’t have time to make it to the gym. We got this subscription a few days ago, which happened to be just in time – there wasn’t a class at the gym this morning, but I still got to do it!

We have a full set of dumbbells up to 30 lbs at our house, so that was what I used. You don’t need a step platform, or platform risers, or a barbell, or weight plates, or a garage gym! I did the entire 55-minute workout in my living room using just the dumbbells and my yoga mat (the latter for the first time – I’ve had it for years and the only purpose it’s served up until now was to hold the duster in my cleaning supplies closet, haha).


When a gym selfie is a home selfie but still a gym selfie


Of course, I have a few first-impression thoughts.

Advantages: I don’t feel the need to wear a thong to avoid panty-lines (just being real with you here). I don’t need to apply sunscreen twice (no before, just after), so that saves me $$ on that. There’s no taking time to get to the gym and back. There’s no mad rush to retrieve and replace equipment, and no worrying about getting in anyone’s way while getting set up. I can do the class whenever I want, at my own convenience, and I can choose any workout I desire from any of the different Les Mills classes available On Demand.

Disadvantages: I don’t get to see my people.

For me, that one disadvantage outweighs all of the advantages, so my preference will always be to go to the gym to do the class. Where BodyPump is concerned, On Demand will save the day when class isn’t available, or when transportation isn’t available, or if I have a virus and I don’t want to expose others.

For my first Les Mills On Demand BodyPump workout, I chose release #99, because it’s my favorite. I worked just as hard, sweated just as much, and got my heart-rate up just as high as I do at the gym. I loved it. It was fun even though I was alone (albeit not as fun as in class). I felt like I got in a good workout, which kind of surprised me, I must admit!

I’m planning to use On Demand to replace BodyPump at the gym when needed, but my main goal with it is to add a second BodyCombat class to my week. Callaghan plans to do both Pump and Combat at home on a regular basis, though he will join me at the gym whenever possible.

I highly recommend checking out Les Mills On Demand as an option if you want to do your workouts at home!

Back in the gym! (Autoimmune B.S. notwithstanding.)

Today, I feel the need to report that I went to the gym this morning. It felt momentous and amazing, even though I haven’t missed that much… I just missed last week Thursday and this week’s Tuesday and Wednesday. Today felt momentous even though I did what I could in the garage last week, and even though I did make it to the gym on Saturday. There are lulls in the doldrums of agony, and you can bet I’m racing to the gym when they occur!

It just felt like a long time. The thing is, as I was realizing this morning while talking to my BodyPump instructor, I have a lot of physical energy, so I feel like I’m literally jumping out of my skin when I’m grounded by stress-induced autoimmune flares such as the one I’ve been dealing with lately. My body is full of energy at the same time that it’s grounding me with joint pain. It’s like a librarian surrounding me with all the books I want to read, then setting a ring of fire between me and them so I can’t get to them. That would be a sadistic librarian. Autoimmunity makes for a sadistic body.

Maybe I’ll post more in-depth about my current autoimmune situation in a future blog post. Right now, I’m enjoying this almost-100% feeling. Things aren’t completely settled down yet; I have more appointments lined up, and lab-work pending review. I’m taking each day as it comes, doing what I can, when I can. I have a lot of writing catch-up to do, too, as a result of all of this.

I’m just so grateful for the V.A. hospital, which has been treating me very well, and for my rheumatologist there, who’s the best I’ve ever had.

And BodyPump this morning was awesome, as usual! I love seeing my people there as much as I love the workout!


So happy to be at the gym this morning! I took this before-workout locker-room selfie thinking “BodyPump in 15!!”


The rest of the week’s looking fabulous, too. Callaghan’s birthday is on Saturday, so there’ll be shenanegans of some sort in honor of that. He would love to know what’s involved. He’s not going to know until then. Heheh.

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!