Coronapocalypse quarantine week 2. (Just call me Mellow Clementine.)

“How you feel right now + last thing you ate” –I’ve seen this coronavirus meme in several places on social media lately. According to my answer, my quarantine nickname is “Mellow Clementine.”

We’ve been talking to neighbors on our street – six feet between us – and the consensus is that it’s hard for people who are working from home to get motivated to work, because they’re sitting at home thinking about why they’re at home.

Then there are the people who talk loudly behind your back fence while you’re out there in your yard, and you hear one guy say to the other: “I got three weeks off from work, motherf*cker!” with emphatic glee.

I admired his upbeat attitude. If he’s also following the guidelines for everyone’s welfare (including his own), then he’s doing better than most of us. If we could all do the happy dance in the alley right now, right?

Something else random: the Body Pump workout I chose to do in the garage today included the Imagine Dragons song “Radioactive.” It’s a song that I’ve heard too often to appreciate anymore, but the lyrics really popped out today. Of course, the virus instantly came to mind, because it’s always right there. The first eight tracks of the workout provided a distraction as I focused on the muscle groups, and then I got down to the floor for the core track and the virus shimmered back to its glaring front-and-center position as the “Radioactive” lyrics came at me:

I’m waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I’m breathing in the chemicals

I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my system blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
…I’m radioactive, radioactive

I raise my flag and dye my clothes
It’s a revolution, I suppose
We’re painted red to fit right in

All systems go, the sun hasn’t died
Deep in my bones, straight from inside

Imagine Dragons’ front man has said that the song speaks to his battle with depression. It’s eerily fitting for the world right now.

I’m sorry to be a downer, guys. I set out to free-write, and this is what came out, so I went on with it. Then I heard the rushing sound of Callaghan’s blow-torch as he burned weeds in the front yard, so I opened my office blinds to take a pic of him. I’ll leave you with it so you can enjoy the whole experience of the writing of this post. (I got his permission to use the sneak pic, of course.)

 

Kill it with fire

 

I hope you’re staying safe. Happy Friday Eve, my friends.

~Mellow Clementine

 

 

Coron-apocalypse quarantine week 2. (COVID-19 dominates.)

I’m now referring to the practice of social distancing as “quarantining,” because that’s what the situation should be. If we all behave as if we have the virus, we won’t leave our homes unless 100% necessary. It’s crucial to stay home now more than ever. It’s a matter of life and death, and it’s horrifying to have to write that cliché of a phrase and mean it so literally on behalf of the entire world.

Callaghan’s staying home, along with everyone else at his place of employment. I’m staying home. We’re well-stocked with fresh fruits and veggies for the next week, and I’m so thankful for this. I wish that everyone could be so lucky.

It’s unbelievable how this virus is so pervasive and dominant in our lives. We don’t have to say “Coronavirus” or “COVID-19” anymore. It’s just “the virus,” no clarification needed.

As I did last week Tuesday, I connected with my shrink electronically this morning rather than in-person, because of the virus. We started with a brief chat about the virus, and then he clicked out to take a call from Michigan. During that call, he learned that his brother’s wife now has the virus… so his sister-in-law has the virus, and his brother has been exposed to the virus. It took four minutes and 45 seconds for the virus to kill our appointment, which was absolutely no loss to me, because I’m okay.

(It was my decision to cancel. He said he told his brother he’d call him back after his appointment with me, and I told him no, I’m okay, let’s cut our appointment for this week so you can call your brother back right now.)

I’m just so sad for him. I signed out with a feeling vaguely akin to survivor’s guilt, because in less than five minutes, I saw his world get personally blown up by the virus.

On a brighter note, Callaghan stepped outside on Sunday to find that someone had drawn an elaborate heart at the outside corner of our driveway. It seems that the artist(s) drew hearts on all the driveways in our neighborhood. They used cheerful pastel-colored chalks. I don’t think that the color shows up in the pic that I took, but you can imagine it:

 

Love from a stranger. [22 March 2020]

 

They signed it “H,” but they should have signed it “A,” for “angel.” It’s wonderful and comforting to see that love can spread as quickly from stranger to stranger as the virus.

I wish I could draw hearts at the corners of your driveways or doorsteps or stairs or whatever you have. You can imagine it.

 

 

Gratitude, love, strength.

I was just reflecting on how deeply I appreciate all of you who read what I post in this space, and how much you all mean to me. No matter what we may think or say, we are a collection of hearts on this earth. Heart energy is love, and love is never a more magnificent force than when it’s recognized as strength. There are millions and millions of us on earth with love and strength to share. We can get through anything together! Keeping each other safe by staying home as much as possible is the most powerful way we can express our love right now, and I’m feeling it. It’s overwhelming in the best of ways.

 

Nenette loves her sparkly toys, but she loves you more.

 

 

Happy Friday Eve, my dear friends.

 

 

The End.

Ropes and Cardio? No. (Spring 2020 Fitness Updates, Part 2: COVID-19 edition.)

This was supposed to be my “Spring 2020 Fitness Updates, Part 2: Ropes & Cardio edition” post, wherein I’d review my cardio workout experience from my first Ropes class to the fifth, which would’ve been yesterday’s class. I was going to take a post-workout selfie and everything!

Only I didn’t go to the class or to the gym at all yesterday. After feeling conflicted going to Saturday’s Pump class, I decided at the last minute that staying away from the gym was the obviously correct thing to do for the greater good in these times of COVID-19.

Plan B, then, was to write about how I’ve decided to stay away from the gym indefinitely, and what I was going to do for fitness instead.

Only when I woke up this morning, my decision was no longer a decision, because my gym (thankfully) announced that it was closing all of its locations from today until at least March 31st.

So this fitness update is just to say that I’ll be working out at home for the next few weeks/indefinitely. I re-subscribed to Les Mills On Demand so I can continue with Body Pump out in the garage. The weather is perfect, and we have all the dumbbells!

For the cardio half of my fitness equation? WELL, having Les Mills On Demand means that I can do Body Combat workouts again. I’m going to BODY COMBAT for the first time in almost a year, and I’m stoked.

There are always silver linings, even to the dark clouds of the viral apocalypse.

I’m so glad that my gym closed in the interest of slowing the COVID-19 spread.

I have to admit that I’ve been confused listening to the folks who remark that COVID-19 is “like the flu,” and that it’s not even as bad as the flu because “more people die from the flu and people don’t freak out or care about that.” This basic lack of understanding of what’s going on is scary. Hasn’t everyone noticed that the borders between countries in continental Europe have been slammed shut, and Italy is locked down completely? COVID-19 cannot be underestimated.

This virus is not “like the flu.” COVID-19’s mortality rate is higher than the flu’s, and it’s more contagious than the flu. COVID-19 is new, so there’s no vaccine for it, no immunity to it. It’s a fast-moving unknown, is what it is, and people are dying. Until we understand it, we can’t be too careful. I’d rather “overreact” to this thing now than live life as if nothing is happening and then look back with regret. Let’s learn from the Italians, who learned it the hard way.

The only way to avoid being a part of the problem is to minimize our footprints by removing ourselves from the mix. The only way to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19’s trajectory – necessary for biochemists to catch up with the virus so they can create a vaccine – is to practice social-distancing to the utmost possible.

Think of it this way, since everyone loves a twist on an idiom in a run-on sentence: There’s a kitchen full of cooks who are merrily cooking away, laughing and talking and gesticulating and unknowingly flinging around microscopic particles of flour and droplets of vinegar and whatnot, and in the midst of all this activity, there’s a devious, deadly bug that the exterminators can’t catch because it’s also microscopic, and it’s able to jump around quickly and stealthily from cook to cook, and not only that, but it’s a shape-shifting bug that can change its appearance, so the exterminators have to re-learn it every time they think they have it before they can resume the hunt. We need to get the cooks out of the kitchen so the exterminators can catch the bug that’s contaminating everyone and everything in there, you know?

 

I went to Target on Saturday.

 

I’m happy to get back into the garage. Next time I post a fitness update, it’ll be a garage gym post!

 

 

 

Meme I stole from a friend, because frivolity.

I don’t usually mention current events in this space, but these are some particularly sinister times. It’s hard to know what else to think about, much less write about.

Some of us are higher-risk than others, but COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. We have healthy, young, world-class athletes diagnosed with it now (R.I.P. 2020 NBA season), so no one under the age of 60 should allow their age to lull them into complacency. No one should wave off the virus because “most cases are mild.” It’s great that most cases are mild, but that’s not the point. A mildly infected person could infect someone else, and that person may not be as lucky. An infected individual feeling “okay” is yet a hazard to others.

COVID-19 is a runaway virus that no one’s caught up with yet, and that’s the damn thing of it. Until we get ahead of it, it’s a disaster, and no words can sugar-coat it.

“But it’s such a cute little disaster!” Nah.

I don’t even know, man.

Anyway, here’s a silly meme I stole from a friend on another site. Learn some frivolous trivia about Yours Truly, if you’re so inclined:

1. What was the last food you ate?
I’m eating crunchy, toasted chickpeas with sea salt as we speak.

2. Do you sleep w socks?
Yes! Always! I wouldn’t want to jump into combat boots with bare feet.

3. Worst physical pain you’ve ever been in?
Waking up from major abdominal surgery feeling everything. I thought I was going to die. Two days of hell crawled by before the official medical conclusion was reached, which is that I “don’t have the receptors for morphine.” Red-heads are notoriously difficult to anesthetize, apparently. [::shakes fist at ginger biological father and his genes::]

4. Favorite places you have been?
Besides Arizona:
Stuttgart (Germany)
London (England)
Casablanca (Morocco)

5. How late did you stay up last night?
Until around 1:45am.

6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be?
Nowhere. I don’t want to move ever again. My whole heart is rooted here in Arizona, now more than ever! This is where I belong.

7. Which of your Facebook friends lives closest to you?
Caroline!

8. When was the last time you cried?
Whatever day it was that I watched The Pharmacist. That Netflix docuseries got to me.

9. Who took your profile pic?
I did. Most pics of me are selfies.

10. Two of your favorite movies?
Those of you who know me well or who’ve been here awhile probably know that Tombstone (1993) and The Big Lebowski (1998) are my two favorite movies, so I’ll throw in two more favorites:
Tank Girl (1995)
Candyman (1992)

The 90’s is my favorite movie decade. Most of my favorite movies are from the 90’s.

11. What’s your favorite season?
Spring! And fall. The equinoxes.

12. If you could have any career, what would it be?
Writing poetry and novels.

13. What was the last book you read?
Lee Child’s Blue Moon. It’s a Jack Reacher novel… Lee Child’s last, at that.

14. If you could talk to ANYONE right now, who would it be?
Tochinoshin, my favorite Sumo wrestler. His native tongues are the two languages spoken in Georgia, Georgian and Abkhazian, so we’d have to speak through a translator.

15. Are you a good influence?
I’ve been told that I am, mostly by Callaghan. Does that count?

16. Does pineapple belong on a pizza?
Hawaiian pizza exists, therefore pineapple belongs on a pizza. Do I like it? Yes, though I never ask for pineapple on my pizza.

17. You have the remote, what show are you watching right now?
Black-ish. It’s the show that makes us laugh the most, and now is a good time for that.

18. Last concert you attended?
Def Leppard. 2014. Ak-Chin pavilion. Amazing show.

19. Favorite type of cuisine?
Don’t make me choose! I love Thai (green curry!), Italian (pasta with garlic and olive oil!), Mexican (street tacos with black beans, rice, pico de gallo, and guac!), and Mom’s fried tofu. “Mom” is a cuisine, isn’t it? If it’s not, then it should be.

 

He’s out! Geronimo’s post-hibernation report, 2020. (Desert tortoise update!)

February 22, 2020 (02/22/2020!) was a cold and dreary day. By this, I mean that it was raining… and it was overcast… and the temps being in the 50’s made it cold by Phoenix standards. It is said that one can expect a desert tortoise to emerge from hibernation when nighttime temps hit the high 50’s four-five consecutive nights, and daytime temps hit the high 60’s four-five consecutive days, and there’s sunlight.

So OF COURSE we discovered Geronimo hunkered down in a puddle of cold water on that gray, dismal day, right in the middle of the yard. Because Geronimo is Geronimo.

 

Hello.

 

My hibernating-reptile-Mommy heart melted in the cold. I was an empty-nester no more!

Geronimo abides by no rules of scaly thumb. He lives by the motto rules are made to be broken. He wasn’t about to wait for consecutive nights and days of certain temperatures, nor did he care to choose a sunshiny moment for basking, which is usually the first order of business for a tortoise coming out of hibernation.

He just loves the rain! Being the little barometer that he is, he woke up that day, I guess, and came out to hydrate himself. (Tortoises are very thirsty upon waking up from hibernation.) Like last year, he hit four months and said, I’m good. I’m OUT.

(Average hibernation period for desert tortoises: four-six months.)

Here I’ve got a slew of pics of Geronimo I’ve taken since then. Geronimo has been busy patrolling and surveying every corner of his domain.

Checking to see that his beloved hibiscus were in good shape:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the length of the east fence:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the south side of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Heading back into his burrow after a long day of surveying:

 

Good-bye.

 

Checking out the space between the fence and some aloe and ice plants:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the space between the fence and some ruella:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out alternate paths to the spaces between the fence and the plants:

 

Hello.

 

Heading toward the south fence:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the gravel path heading toward the south fence:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the ice plants along the west side of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Taking one of a million breaks for mommy cuddles:

 

Hello.

 

Exiting his beloved laundry room after checking it out thoroughly:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the west side of his domain:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out every square inch of gravel on the west side:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the path from the patio to his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Basking in the grass:

 

Hello.

 

Chomping through new growth of spring grasses and weeds:

 

Hello.

 

Eating and eating:

 

Hello.

 

Going in for some hibiscus treats:

 

Hello.

 

[Me plucking a young hibiscus bud]:

 

[Hi, from me]

 

[Presenting him with the bud]:

 

Hello.

 

Loving being hand-fed:

 

Hello.

 

Off and running after another mommy-cuddle break:

 

Hello.

 

Surveying his domain from the entrance of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Checking out the border around the lawn:

 

Hello.

 

Crossing from the grass to the back of his burrow:

 

Hello.

 

Taking another break for mommy cuddles:

 

Hello.

 

(This pic is weird. It looks like I’m wearing bronzer or blush or contour or something on the side of my face, and I’m totally not. I don’t understand how shadows and lighting work.)

Being fed Romaine lettuce by his daddy:

 

Hello.

 

Still eating lettuce:

 

Hello.

 

Basking in the late-afternoon sun in front of his burrow, even as the sun moved:

 

Hello.

 

Soaking, bathing, and hydrating (the next time I saw him after his emergence):

 

Hello.

 

All is clear in the laundry room today.

 

Hello.

 

The End. Or, “Good-bye,” as Geronimo would say.

 

 

Spring 2020 Fitness Updates, Part 1. (Weight-training/Les Mills Body Pump edition!)

Before I share my fitness updates, I want to note here that the March Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, Japan will start this Sunday, as planned… but without spectators. The arena will be closed. This development makes sense under the threat of the coronavirus, of course, but it’ll be strange to watch an audience-less Sumo tournament. There will be no fans cheering and yelling and applauding and throwing their seat cushions into the air with delight when a rank-and-filer beats a Yokozuna and groaning when the judges make a controversial decision.

Honestly, as the Sumo Association deliberated on what to do considering the coronavirus, I was hoping that they’d go with the option of canceling the tournament altogether. Wouldn’t it be cool if the wrestlers could actually heal and recover from their injuries for once? I mean, without fear of penalty? This reminds me that I want to write a post about why Sumo is more dangerous than MMA.

For now, though, fitness updates!

It’s difficult, but I’m sticking to my plan to continue lifting super light weights in Body Pump. At this point, the urge to lift my normal weights is like a deep itch I’m refusing to scratch, but at the same time, I’m marveling at the benefits of my self-restraint.

For instance, I’ve never been able to drop so low in my squats and maintain that exact depth throughout all the bottom-halves and pulses. I’ve never actually held my elbow up as high as it should be doing triceps kick-backs, or kept it as high during kick-back pulses, or lowered the weight no further down than my hip. I’ve never used my legs so mindfully doing clean-and-presses. I’ve never focused so intently on keeping my elbows pinned to the sides of my rib cage doing biceps curls. And so on. Lifting light weights frees my mind, and with my mind fully engaged in the workout, my form is now as perfect as I can possibly make it.

I’m happy to have found that lifting light weights in Body Pump translates to achievement of sustained good form with maximized mind/body connection and full range of motion.

It’s because of this that I still experience post-workout soreness in my muscles in the 48 hours after a workout, and I’m enjoying results in the form of increased strength and muscle definition. It’s true that you don’t need to lift a lot of weight in order to see results from Les Mills Body Pump! Instructors who proclaim this aren’t saying it just to say it.

That being said, I do plan to increase my weight-load to some extent after I recover from my April surgery and return to the gym in May… not across the board, though. I’ll probably mix light and heavy weights. Now that I know what it is to have good form with full range of motion, I’ll be able to easily recognize when a weight increase takes away from that, and I’ll drop the weight back down.

I was going to talk about my Ropes and Cardio class in this post, too, but I’ve already blathered on long enough about Body Pump. Look for “Spring Fitness Updates, Part Two” in the near-ish future!

 

 

[23 February 2020]

 

Happy Friday Eve!