Above water. (On writing.)

Let me confide in you what it is to be a writer of a novel. You’re at the end of your book and terrified of what you wrote: a 350-page shit-storm. You laugh at yourself as you find a selfie that came out expressionless, crop your image into a head-shot, harden it with the angstiest filter you can find – the one that turns the dark bits darker and deepens the shadows in the corners – because suddenly, you need digital armor. It won’t help. You think, I had a moral obligation to write this, and it’s been 30-odd years in the writing that began, in earnest, 18 months ago.

 

Life in two minutes.

 

The drama, the irony, the cliché! You can look at this image once and never see it again, or you can look at it once and see it every day. It’s worse than a mirror, so you share it with the world… especially easy to do when the world makes no sense.

We all have a dark side. Most of us keep it hidden, because it’s our business and no one else’s. Artists tend to display theirs through their work, whether others can see it there or not. Art unravels from buried places, taking form in every medium and genre from comedy to Shakespearean tragedy, capturing curiosity and beauty in music, writing, visual arts, poetry, photography, dance, dramatic arts, and so on, and so forth. Products of our creation spawn out of our darkest secrets, reflecting them in worlds we create… and we do create them, because we can. We can create art that belies the angst from which it springs, art that makes people laugh, even. “Tortured artists” have the means to express what others need to express. Then a step further: everything is okay. But the world, we know, doesn’t need our reassurance. We’re talking to ourselves, but it’s not about us.

So if just one person can find something of value in our work… something that helps… it’s worth it, we feel. One person includes everyone. We believe.

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Throw-back poem: “Pursuit 3”

Tomorrow, it’ll be exactly five months since I’ve posted a poem. Apologies to you who are here for poetry! As you may remember, I’m no longer posting new work here, so today I’ve got another early piece from my grad school days. “Pursuit 3” first appeared in one of those wonderful small, independent literary journals no longer in existence. The journal was The Lucid Stone.

The issue:

 

 

“Pursuit 3” (one of my two poems that appeared in this issue):

 

[“Pursuit 3” Kristi (now Garboushian) The Lucid Stone “A Quarterly of Poetry” Summer 2001, Issue No. 26]

(I drew that line through the “s” in “toward” because I didn’t intend for it to be there. I just noticed the typo now.)

As always, thank you for reading. I wish you all a creative day!

My everyday make-up + Minimalism update blurb!

Today I’ve got make-up, for those of you who are into it: ladies, gentlemen, and anyone else who enjoys wearing make-up and/or knowing what other people put on their faces.

We can thank Callaghan for this. I took a mirror selfie the other day and set it as my FB profile pic, and he promptly cropped a close-up of my face and posted it while talking about my skin. I can’t take all the credit, though: lighting and make-up had a lot to do with how the pic came out. I’m going to explain the make-up part. It’s my “everyday” make-up routine, though I go bared-faced half the time.

However, I did take the selfie for this blog post in the first place, the reason being that this was going to be a minimalism update. I wanted to confess to my latest t-shirt replacement acquisition. The selfie was a FAIL for that purpose (because I still suck at taking mirror selfies), so here’s just the shirt:

 

The shirt that got me THIS time.

 

Right? “COFFEE” in a Metallica-inspired style… are you kidding me?! I got rid of my Metallica shirt because I liked this one better. Who needs a Metallica shirt when you can have one with COFFEE looking like Metallica? It was too awesome to pass up. [*shakes fist at Target*]

I should just stop looking at the damn t-shirts at Target. There should be a sign: THE GRAPES ARE ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE STORE KEEP WALKING

Back to the make-up I’m wearing in the pic:

 

(“everyday make-up” – click to enlarge)

 

The products:

 

Current everyday make-up

 

The routine, in order: Physician’s Formula Super BB cream (“light” – applied with a dampened make-up sponge from the package in the upper-right corner of the pic) (A), then Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion (original) (B), then e.l.f. eyebrow powder (“dark”) (C), then, from Urban Decay’s original Naked palette, eyeshadow (“naked”) (D), then eyeshadow (“sin”) in the inner corners of my eyes (E), then Urban Decay Perversion liquid eyeliner on my upper lids (black waterproof fine-point eye pen) (F), then black Urban Decay Perversion mascara (G), then Urban Decay 24/7 glide-on eye pencil (“zero”) under my lower lids (H), then Nars* Radiant Creamy concealer (“light”) under my eyes (I), then Urban Decay Naked Skin concealer (“light neutral”) down my nose and around my nostrils (J), then NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator (“sunbeam”) on my cheekbones and tip of my nose (K), then Pacifica Natural Minerals Devocean lipstick (“natural mystic”) (L), then Pacifica Bali Coconut lip balm (M). I remove most of the lipstick, then put lip balm over the stain that’s left.

*Sadly, Nars has been recently removed from Cruelty-Free Kitty’s cruelty-free brands list (“soon to be sold in China”), so I’m looking for a replacement product for that concealer.

 

The lighting: there’s a frosted window up near the ceiling behind me through which the late-afternoon light shone and reflected off the mirror in front of me, and the light tan walls around me in the very small, enclosed space (our master bath) turned the light golden, which turned me golden.** The fluke convergence of lighting and angels worked with the cream highlighter on my face, which resulted in this airbrushed look. I believe that’s what happened, anyway.

(I was just concerned with trying to get the shirt. The phone dominates the picture, covering part of the word COFFEE that’s backwards, anyway, because duh, mirror. Haha.)

**I don’t self-tan, and I’m not wearing bronzer, contour, powder, or anything like that in this pic… or ever, for that matter. With the exception of eye make-up, I don’t put powder products on my face anymore.

The End.

P.S. Let’s see if I can get through the next two weeks without replacing a t-shirt with another t-shirt.

 

Cancelled plans, but good things, too. (October Favorites!)

In October news, nothing much happened. October was the month of cancelled plans.

We wanted to catch UFC 216 (Demetrius Johnson defending his title again!) at our usual sports bar, but it didn’t work out. We’d planned to go to a Halloween party – I even had a Harry Potter costume! – but we had to cancel. That’s right. We did nothing for Halloween. The closest I came to celebrating Halloween was going to BodyPump looking a little goth. That was it.

At the same time that nothing happened, a lot did happen. We had houseguests in October, you see, for 10 days in the middle of the month… and that was what happened. In the aftermath of their visit, we were wiped out on every level. We were compelled to hibernate.

Enough said.

Let’s get on to the little things I enjoyed in October. OH, here I must insert an apology in advance: these are not great pics. I didn’t have the wherewithal to work on getting super-good shots of anything this time. So it goes.

Starting with entertainment, as usual!

 

1). A Ghost Story

 

 

You may remember the non-review movie review I wrote about A Ghost Story. If so, you know how I feel about it. We were just as happy to watch it a second time.

 

2). Mindhunter (T.V. series)

 

The excellent Mindhunter is not your average T.V. series. It’s unusual. Words that come to mind: Vintage. Stylish. Noir. Not scary. Not glamorous. This series about the beginnings of criminal profiling in the FBI’s fledgling Behavioral Science unit first struck us as a bit awkward in its delivery, but you soon realize that this is deliberate. It works. This is a period piece, after all, and this was how T.V. looked back then.

I’ve heard people say that they had to watch two or three episodes of Mindhunter before they got into it. Our experience was that we were hooked by the end of the first episode.

 

3). Stranger Things 2 (Season 2) (T.V. series)

 

 

Is it even necessary for me to say that we loved Stranger Things 2 and it was fantastic and maybe even better than Season 1 and in our humble opinion everyone should watch it? I think not. If you’re not watching Stranger Things, then I don’t know how to help you.

 

Products!

4). Physician’s Formula Super BB cream SPF 30 (in “Light”).

 

Physician’s Formula Super BB Cream

 

Did you catch the complete name of this product? The operative words are SPF 30. I wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 cream every day, so I always have it on under my make-up, but I love a make-up product that also has sun protection. Physician’s Formula BB cream’s sun protection includes zinc oxide, which I look for in a sunscreen above other active ingredients.

It so happens that this cruelty-free product not only works as an extra layer of sunscreen, but it also wears nicely as a foundation. It works for me, at least. The color match is perfect, with the right undertone and everything, and the product is long-wearing, as well. Physician’s Formula is one of the more pricey drugstore make-up brands, but it’s still drugstore… easily accessible and not outrageously expensive. I highly recommend this product if you’re looking for a new foundation.

 

5). The Body Shop Frosted Plum shower gel.

 

The Body Shop Frosted Plum shower gel

 

The Body Shop’s 2017 holiday (limited edition) line is Frosted Plum, and – surprise, surprise! – I love it. I wasn’t expecting its pronounced pine scent; I adore pine fragrance, so this was a pleasant discovery. The vaguely sweet plum scent is detectable beneath the pine. I find this fragrance to be less sweet than the other fruity fragrances I’ve tried from The Body Shop. Callaghan loves this scent, as well. (On me, that is. He doesn’t use it.)

 

Food!

6). Wholesome! Organic Coconut Palm Sugar.

 

Wholesome organic coconut palm sugar

 

I started sweetening my coffee with this coconut palm sugar… it’s an enjoyable change from the stevia-based product I’d been using. Coconut palm sugar is less sweet and more healthy. This was a great discovery!

 

7). Organic Honeycrisp apples.

 

Organic honeycrisp apples

 

Apple season! Honeycrisp apples are my favorites at the moment. They’re ubiquitous around here (we get them from Fry’s, but we’ve seen them everywhere), and they’re so tasty and satisfying. My fruit addiction hasn’t suffered a bit with the end of summer fruits.

 

8). Simple Truth walnut halves and pieces.

 

Simple Truth walnut halves and pieces

 

I’ve been eating walnuts the way they should be eaten, in my opinion: unsalted. My preference is always to crack whole walnuts, but time is of essence, so any brand of shelled walnut meat will do. It so happens that I picked up Simple Truth brand in October.

 

9). Gardein Meatless Meatballs.

 

Gardein Classic Meatless Meatballs

 

Gardein does it again with their meatless meats! We love these “meatballs” of theirs. They’re high in protein, high in flavor, and super fast and easy to prepare.

 

10). Helpful friends at the gym.

I don’t have a pic. I just wanted to note that thanks to friends like Rawn, I’ve been able to do the leg track in BodyPump with my usual weights as I rest my tennis-elbow-compromised forearm. (I’m not doing upright rows right now, or any variation thereof. I’m finding ways to modify in the back and shoulder tracks.) I wouldn’t be able to do legs without assistance in getting the heavy barbell onto my back, and I appreciate having a buddy who’s willing to take time from our quick track-change to offer this.

 

Well, that wraps it up for October. November’s list is already filling up!

What I ate on a gym day. (Full day of eating!)

Let’s talk about food! Because in my last “What I ate” post, I said I’d do a gym-day version if anyone was interested, and several of you expressed interest. (Thank you for that!)

Yesterday was a typical weight-training (BodyPump) day. I ate seven times.

Without further ado…

 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

First: (Just like last time, as it’s the same every day) Alarm. Get up. Take thyroid medication (for Hashimoto’s/autoimmune hypothyroidism) with a full glass of room-temperature water.

(Wait 30 minutes because of the thyroid med.)

 

Breakfast (pre-workout): A peanut butter sandwich: 2 slices of Dave’s Killer organic thin-sliced 21 whole grains and seeds bread with creamy natural peanut butter. Lots of peanut butter! This pic only shows one slice, since I actually took it on Wednesday before BodyCombat. I always have a full peanut butter sandwich before BodyPump, and just one slice before BodyCombat (cardio).

 

Peanut butter sandwich (the second slice of bread is invisible)

 

Post-workout: (I think of this as a second breakfast) I always have a protein shake after weight-training, and my protein powder of choice is the vanilla Vega Clean Protein. I throw a scoop into a shaker bottle, add cold water, and shake it up. Nothing fancier than that. This is my favorite protein powder… it’s not gritty in the slightest… and I enjoy it plain.

 

Protein shake

 

(By the way, I drink Xtend BCAAs during my weight-training workouts. I forgot to put that in!)

 

Lunch: Apologies for the redundancy… like last time, I had pasta for lunch. (More often than not, I have a sandwich.) Yesterday it was whole wheat thin spaghetti with almost the same sauce of olive oil, fresh sauteed garlic, sea salt, dry oregano, and a lot of nutritional yeast (nooch).

Instead of broccoli on the side, I had these plant-protein meatless balls… Gardein classic meatless balls. (3 meatless balls have 15g protein. I had 5.) These are delicious. You’ll see them again in my upcoming October Favorites post.

 

Pasta with meatless balls

 

I sopped up the remaining olive oil with a slice of this sourdough bread (the only white bread I’ll eat, since sourdough doesn’t wreak havoc on the metabolism the way regular white flour does)… not to mention, I love sourdough bread.

 

Sourdough bread

 

…followed by a small bowl of fresh raspberries and blueberries.

 

Fresh berries

 

 

After lunch: My usual tablespoon of apple cider vinegar stirred into a tall glass of cold water.

 

Apple cider vinegar

 

 

Mini-meal 1: A banana. Just one!

 

Bananas

 

 

Mini-meal 2: One organic Honeycrisp apple… another thing you’ll see in my October Favorites post.

 

Honeycrisp apples

 

(I took this pic of the apples a day or two earlier because of said October Favorites post!)

 

Mini-meal 3: A small bowl of walnuts and sunflower seeds.

 

Walnuts and sunflower seeds

 

Nuts and seeds every day, gym or no gym.

 

Dinner: A huge spinach salad with tomato, mushrooms, red onion, Kalamata olives, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and dry oregano.

I love a big spinach salad for dinner, especially on weight-training days. Did Popeye ever motivate you to eat spinach when you were a kid? Spinach is Popeye’s trademark get-strong-to-kick-ass superfood, after all. A plant! Bluto had no chance against it. I love fresh spinach, regardless.

 

Spinach salad

 

I went on a little Popeye spree on YouTube last night and entertained myself for about 20 minutes. Here’s a quick clip:

 

 

 

Dessert: Seedless red grapes.

 

Seedless red grapes

 

 

After dinner: Another glass of apple cider vinegar water.

 

apple cidar vinegar

 

I can see lip balm smudge-marks on the rim of the glass! These pics are not the best I’ve ever taken… but they do the job.

That’s it for a typical gym-day. Oh, and as always, I drank water all day long. I can never drink enough water! I’m grateful to have it.

1-year BodyPump Anniversary!

It’s been a year since I started Les Mills BodyPump!

Yes, it’s already been A YEAR since the pic on the left. I took that mirror selfie in the locker room after my first BodyPump class. I took the second pic 12 days ago (also after class, but at home).

 

From my 1st day of Les Mills BodyPump (10/25/2016) to about a year later (10/19/2017)

 

(This is obviously not meant to be a physique comparison pic. Just an anniversary celebration pic.)

Thinking back to that first class, I mostly remember how perplexed I was trying to do a clean and press, feeling like I was faking it the whole time. I think it took 3-4 classes for me to solve the mysteries of that move. I also remember how sore my biceps were the day after my first class. Everything was sore, but my biceps were the worst!

I go to BodyPump 3x/week, and I still enjoy everything about it: the workout challenges, the friends I’ve made, our awesome instructors, the satisfaction of accomplishment, and the added mental health therapy that goes with working out. (I go to BodyCombat once a week, and I’m still loving that, too!)

So what’s changed in a year?

1). Surprisingly, I’ve put on muscle mass, especially in my upper body. I mean, not a lot of mass. Just enough to surprise me… and enough that I had to get rid of a few sports bras and t-shirts. Either I could hardly get into them, or I couldn’t move comfortably in them anymore, if at all. For the same reason, I also had to ditch a few pairs of underwear.

When I started, I didn’t think I’d gain noticeable size, but I’m certainly not complaining. I wanted more mass. I just wasn’t expecting it from BodyPump, alone. Who knew?

2). While I’m happy with my stronger appearance, it’s the functionality of being stronger that’s the most rewarding part to me. With increased whole-body strength, I can pack more power behind my strikes. I’ve noticed this while working out on the punching bag and the MMA dummy in the garage.

3). I’ve increased my weights for most muscle groups, though not by a lot: I’m at a 2.5-lb increase on each side of the barbell for legs, back, biceps, triceps, and chest. That’s it! Just 2.5 lbs more than when I started. I’m happy with this. It’s more important to me to maintain my form and get a full range of motion than to jump up in weight.

I have not increased my lunge weights. I use either the same weights as when I started, or even less, depending. I have no problem dropping weight if I have to in order to get the form right. I always struggle with my lunge form.

For shoulders, I’ve reached a partial increase: I went up to 5-lb plates for the plate work. Sometimes, depending on the workout, I might start at 5 lbs and then drop down to 2.5’s.

And the barbell for shoulders? Zero increase. It’s the overhead presses that get me. (I could use higher weights if we’re doing only push presses, but we never do only push presses.)

It seems to me that I have to get my mind over the plateau for overhead presses. My shoulders are not weak. It’s a mental thing. To some extent, it could be that since shoulders are last, we’ve already worked them secondarily by the time we get to them. For whatever reason, my shoulders are just gassed by the time we get to those overhead presses!

Abs? Sure, why not. (Haha!)

I’m looking forward to another year of challenges. One thing I’ll start doing, I’ve decided, is I’ll increase my weights for at least one set if I think I can do it well… then drop weight as needed. The only problem with this is that I’ll lose time and miss reps. It might be worth it, though.

Onward into Year 2!

…but more steps forward than back. (Minimalism, post 4)

Minimalism updates.

Target is the biggest threat to minimalism on earth. To my minimalism effort, at least.

I don’t even want to talk about it.

 

Pictures speak louder than words.

 

Can you even see the cozy fluffiness of that top? I don’t think so. You had to be there to feel it.

To my credit, though, the following items have gone into the new Goodwill pile since my last update:

  • 16 tops (mostly t-shirts and tank tops)
  • 4 jackets/coats
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of shoes (Converse – now I just have 1 pair)
  • 2 sports bras

This is progress, fuzzy polar bear jammies aside.

You may be looking at this wondering how many clothes I had to begin with. I’ve already donated a lot… how can there be more?! Well, things like t-shirts proliferate, especially when you have a t-shirt problem. I admit to my t-shirt problem and also to my sleepwear problem, but I’m aware and I’m remedying them with modifications (i.e. I donate a t-shirt when I get a new one.) The polar bear jammies are, so far, the one exception to my new minimalism ethos.

We’re still loving minimalism as a way of life. It feels good to have less, and it fits into our overall survival/emergency plan, too. In the event that we have to GTFO of dodge, we’re going to be readily mobile, rather than encumbered by stuff. We’re getting there.

By the way, I might be seen wearing that fluffy polar bear pajama top around town. I could get away with it. It’s more like a sweater than a pajama top, and it looks great over black leggings.