Ch- ch- ch- CHANGES. (Involving active-duty Army flashbacks… in a good way.)

Get this! I started A JOB on Wednesday (yesterday), as in, I leave the house in the morning and return in the late afternoon. I’m not working from home.

This came as a surprise to me, too, though I’d been hoping for it… I really wanted this position at my new company (which shall not be named). What I mean, I guess, is that it happened suddenly. I did a phone interview on Monday, went for a drug/alcohol test a few hours later, got the call with the clean result and job offer on Tuesday, and started work on Wednesday. Today was my second day.

I totally deviated from my administrative norm with this one. This job is different than anything I’d done in my entire life, though it does remind me of my military service in many ways.

Without going into specifics, I’ll share the aspects of the job that remind me of my active-duty Army days (peacetime/garrison): 1. I don’t have a commute; 2. I wear a standard daily uniform (my usual: jeans, t-shirts, and combat boots); 3. I’m nowhere near a computer all day; 4. I’m nowhere near a desk all day (I’m on my feet and constantly on the move); 5. They sent me for a piss test. 6. I feel like I’m volunteering, but I’m getting paid for it; 7. I still work out every day, the only difference being that I do my PT after work instead of before; 8. I’m not working for the man; and 9). the way my manager runs the place very much reminds me of Army active duty. He’s like an NCO. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d served.

I love this job.

The only downside is that I’m away from my Nenette all day. We both especially miss our morning bonding time. Nenette is my daughter, my official feline companion animal (as designated by the V.A. for my PTSD). I miss her. I miss her, I miss her, I miss her, I miss her, I miss her. I also miss Geronimo, though he’s been nowhere to be seen all week. [!!!-???]

 

Today: at home, post-workout, post-work. [11 June 2020]

 

So that’s the news, my friends. My mission now is to settle into a routine that allows for housecleaning and such. I had domestic projects on my agenda, and suddenly, I have no time in which to do them. I’ll carve out some time one way or the other.

Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

 

 

Little Things. (May Favorites.)

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to post a “May Favorites,” to be honest. I had my running list, but in light of the critically important matters of the day, the idea of a “favorite little things” post just seemed ridiculous and self-indulgent.

I decided to post it, though I’m without many words. I’m sorry for this, for the fact that my heart just isn’t in it. My heart has been broken and flung to far more worthwhile places, along with millions of other hearts. I’ve been preoccupied with wanting to do my part as an ally in the Black Lives Matter movement. By this, I mean that I want to do more. I’m unsure of how. I’ve been educating myself. I’ve donated. It doesn’t feel like enough. I’m going to continue with my education, that’s for sure.

Here are those Little Things that I enjoyed in May:

 

1). El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story (Netflix)

 

 

Somehow, it’d escaped us that there was a movie continuing Jesse Pinkman’s story after the conclusion of Breaking Bad. We rectified the oversight, and we were glad that we did. Breaking Bad fans, if you haven’t seen El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story, you really must. Those of you who haven’t seen Breaking Bad: don’t bother with this. It’s excellent, but it’ll only make sense if you’ve seen the series.

(Also, if you haven’t seen Breaking Bad yet, WHY NOT? It hasn’t been over-hyped. It can’t be hyped enough.)

 

2). Alps (Amazon Prime rental)

 

 

 

I only got to one of the Yorgos Lanthimos films on my list, and Alps was it. I found it to be as bizarre, thought-provoking, risky, and lyrically semiotic as Dogtooth, The Lobster, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The next film of his I plan to watch is The Favourite, which I believe is his most commonly known film.

 

3). Ingrid Goes West (Amazon Prime rental)

 

 

I went for this film because of Aubrey Plaza, and her performance was as satisfying to watch as I’d thought it would be. Parks and Recreation fans could imagine how she’d own the role of a stalker. I think that this indie film would be enjoyable to many, but it’s a must-watch for social media influencers.

 

4). The Ritual (Netflix)

 

 

A proper horror flick seemed appropriate at the time that I watched this film on Netflix. It was rather “eh” to me, but it proved its worth in terms of my love for the cabin/camping-in-the-woods sub-genre of horror. As mediocre as I thought it was, I was in the mood for it. It worked. If you’re also a fan of this sort of horror, you might enjoy escaping into this film, too.

 

5). Hannah Gadsby’s Douglas (Netflix)

 

 

 

This Netflix comedy special also proved to be the right thing at the right time, and I found it to be excellent. It came recommended to me by a friend (thank you, April!), and I second her recommendation.

 

6). Dead to Me (S2) (Netflix)

 

 

Dead to Me: for when you want some light and funny with your crime. I was there for it, and also for the outstanding acting performances. I love the writing in this series, as well.

 

7). Bordertown (Sorjonen) (S3) (Netflix)

 

 

We enjoy Scandinavian noir, in general, but Bordertown (original title: Sorjonen) is our favorite project within this sub-genre of crime thriller. With its third and final season, its creators deftly wrapped up the series. They took the development of Kari Sorjonen’s eccentric character as far as they could. Story-wise, they left things exactly the way I would’ve wanted them to be left, though I didn’t know what that would look like until they did it. This is a great series, in general, but I’d especially recommend it to you if you’re new to Scandinavian noir.

 

9). JASON Calming Lavender Body Wash. (vegan and cruelty-free)

 

JASON Calming Lavender Body Wash

 

I used up all of my body washes from The Body Shop and decided to look to the drugstore shelves for another aromatic option. JASON is a brand that’s never missed the mark for me; I usually re-purchase the products of theirs that I try. This body wash will be no exception. I find its scent to be more crisp and invigorating than calming, but I like it nonetheless.

 

10). Pacific Shaving Company Natural Shaving Cream. (vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Pacific Shaving Company Natural Shaving Cream

 

Kiss My Face finally returned their vegan/cruelty-free shaving cream to their stock, but before I could realize that, I went looking through Callaghan’s products. He’d started using this Natural Shaving Cream, and I had no idea that it was vegan and cruelty-free! This is just a good product. I recommend it.

 

That about does it, my friends. Until Thursday!

 

 

15 questions: book trivia! (Reading for pleasure.)

Today, I’m finally posting that survey/quiz/meme about books. I love reading these when people do them; they offer some insight into the person giving the answers. You might dig this if you’re into reading for pleasure, or if you’re just curious about Yours Truly.

Have at it!

1). Favorite novel: He, She and It, by Marge Piercy

2). Favorite work of non-fiction: War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges

3). Most recent novel read: The Girls, by Emma Cline (excellent and chilling historical fiction ostensibly about the Manson murders)

4). Favorite underrated horror novel: Rose Madder, by Stephen King

5). Novel I’d want to see as a movie: The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. (I wish they’d made that one into a film rather than The Goldfinch, though the latter is also a brilliant novel that I enjoyed.)

6). Favorite fictional hero: Jack Reacher (creation of author Lee Child)

7). Favorite fictional hero novel of all time: Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child (Jack Reacher novel)

8). Favorite work of creative non-fiction: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt

9). Favorite vampire novel: Dark Dance, by Tanith Lee

10). Favorite comfort/guilty pleasure re-read: Dark Dance, by Tanith Lee

11). Favorite fictional mythological world: Harry Potter (author J.K. Rowling)

12). Favorite fiction genres: horror, crime, mystery, historical fiction

13). Favorite non-fiction genres: biography; music; astrology; philosophy

14). Favorite foreign author: Amélie Nothomb (Belgian)

15). Literary tribute name you would give your dog/cat: If I were to adopt three male cats, I would name them Edgar, Allen, and Poe.

Along these lines, I’ve got an office preview pic for you. Why yes, I overhauled my office again. I wasn’t planning on doing a whole redecorating job… it just kind of happened. More on this later!

 

Office update 2020 (preview)

 

The End.

 

 

Lounging like a lizard/smiling like it never happened! (Post-op update 5 – the last!)

Hello, my friends. I have a little update from yesterday, and one from today. They’re complete opposites.

Yesterday:

Wiped-out.

My pain med schedule around the clock broke my sleep into two and four-hour chunks, and after several days of that, it showed. I did my makeup carefully, but no amount of concealer was going to disguise my tired eyes as alert eyes. I had an appointment, and I wanted alert eyes to show that I’m an alert person! I gratefully took my undereye bags and dark circles with me and tried to come across as alert. It was an evening appointment.

(I wish my brain could’ve been more alert yesterday, too. I did the best I could with the few intact brain cells that I had.)

I rested when I could during the day. The post-op instruction sheet said that I could remove the stent while “sleeping or lounging”; I had to lounge, because I can’t take naps. When I lounge, though, I lounge. I excel at it. I can lounge with the best of the lizards. I’m a true reptile mom.

 

Brain-dead and lounging. [27 May 2020]

Still brain-dead and lounging. [27 May 2020]

 

Today:

Elated!!!

Despite Saturday morning’s blood-gushing shenanigans, the doctor found everything to be great when he examined me this morning. My nine days of healing had not been undone. He REMOVED MY STITCHES and gave me the go-ahead to WORK OUT!!!

I’ll be back in the garage lifting weights on Saturday morning!

This surgical experience turned out to be nothing like November’s, and I’m so incredibly grateful for that. I still have pain on the roof of my mouth, but it’s tolerable with the ibuprofen and acetaminophen. I came home and tentatively ate a slice of bread with peanut butter and jelly! By “tentatively,” I mean I chewed on the left side. The tissue was removed from my right side. I’ll continue chewing on the left side for awhile.

 

Today: Stitches-free and waking up! [28 May 2020]

 

Remember how November’s surgery post-op updates went on and on and on? Not this time. This one is the last, and since both my upper and lower gums have been done now, it’s the LAST last.

Thank you so much to all of you who’ve left sweet comments on my social media, and to all of you who take the time to read my posts. It means the world to me.

Happy Friday Eve, All!

 

 

Complications messing with my plans. (Post-op update 4.)

I hit a little snag in my surgery recovery over the weekend. My mouth filled up with blood immediately after I got out of bed on Saturday morning.

As I’d learned from the steel door incident last summer, it’s awkward trying to control a bleed when it’s coming fast. My mouth kept filling up and filling up, and every tissue I shoved in came out soaked, and I had to do it quickly because the bleeding was constant, and I found out that it’s really tricky to continuously stuff tissues in and out of your mouth without getting blood everywhere while calling the doctor’s office and writing down the after-hours emergency phone number and then hanging up and calling that new number that’s not saved in your phone. I stopped with the tissues just long enough to gargle my brief message through a mouthful of blood when the emergency voicemail picked up. Do these kinds of post-op snafus ever NOT happen on a weekend?

Fortunately, the blood wasn’t coming from my graft. It was coming from my palette, the tissue-harvesting site on the roof of my mouth. The transplant site is fine.

It’s an excellent doctor who calls you back within two minutes of leaving a message, let me tell you. Have I mentioned before that my doctor is excellent? He is. He called right away and calmly made sure I knew that this isn’t an uncommon event, that the palette can and does re-open and gush blood. It was reassuring that he said “gush” when I hadn’t described it that way, because it meant that he was familiar with this scenario. This truly is a thing that happens.

He asked me whether I’d done anything that would’ve elevated my heart-rate. I said no, but thinking of it later, I guess I made the mistake of doing too much while not wearing my stent. I’m only supposed to have the stent out while I’m “sleeping or lounging.” I’d had it out the day before while I was doing things around the house, i.e. light cleaning. If I’d then had restless dreams that created tension in my mouth or caused me to press my tongue to the roof of my mouth, that could’ve done it.

Anyway, it all ended well. I followed the doctor’s instructions, and twenty minutes later, the bleeding stopped. The problem was fixed, over, and done within half an hour. He told me to put my stent back in and leave it in for 48 hours straight, as I did at the very beginning.

And that’s what brought me to the challenge of steering my mental state back toward the positive: I’m worried that I’m back at the beginning, since the clotting came undone after nine days of healing. Will it take another nine days to get to that point again? Or has the wound healed enough from the inside such that it’s not as deep now, so the healing can pick up where it left off? I’ll find out when I go for my two-week follow-up on Thursday.

In any case, the incident created a set-back that disrupts my plans. You know how I feel about my plans. I admit that it’s been a bit tough keeping my spirits up.

I was so confident when I checked in with you last Thursday, too!

I miss actual food, and I don’t know why I torture myself watching mukbangs on YouTube when I can’t eat.

Speaking of food, I did decide to step on the scale this morning. I was ready for it: I’ve lost six pounds. I’m back down to 115. I’d figured as much, even though I’ve been trying to consume more calories this time around. At least my nutrition is solid, and I know that I’ll regain the weight soon once I can eat normally again and get back to lifting weights. Of that, I’m 100% confident.

I added that last sentence lest this post dissolve into the whine-fest I didn’t want to write. I actually wasn’t going to share this incident here at all, but you’re here with me on my gum-grafting surgery adventure because I brought you along! I’m keeping it real.

On a happier note from Saturday morning, I went back to bed after the bleeding stopped and woke up to find Nenette sleeping on the pillow next to me. This is what I saw when I opened my eyes:

 

My sweet daughter purring on the pillow next to me.

 

I’ll have another update after my Thursday appointment! I hope you guys are having a great start to your week!

 

 

Healing like a boss + selfies with Geronimo! (Post-op update 3!)

Today was a largely wonderful, magical, splendiferous day for two major reasons:

1). My doctor was very pleased when he examined my healing progress this morning! This surgery’s one-week, post-op scenario proved to be the complete opposite of November’s. Despite the hydroxychloroquine I’m continuing to take, everything is healing and knitting together “beautifully” and right on track. I go back next week for my two-week post-op. That’s when I might get my stitches removed.

Thing 1: The doctor said it’s possible that my healing took longer in November because my body simply wasn’t eager to accept the cadaver tissue. We used my own tissue this time, so my body’s like, oh, okay, I know YOU. Come on in.

Thing 2: I’m still at pain levels that involve looking at the clock every other hour to see when I can take another dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but it is getting better.

Thing 3: I haven’t weighed myself.

Before my home workouts, I weighed 115. After five weeks of lifting heavier weights and doing more cardio workouts at home, I weighed 121 (pre-surgery weight). If anything has happened to those gains in the last week, I don’t want to know about it. I mean, it’s inevitable that I’m going to lose some weight, but I’d just rather not see it on the scale, you know?  I’m confident that I’m not going to end up with another 7-lb loss! I’ve learned. I’m making a much greater effort to force down more substantial food this time around, even though it hurts and it’s gross.

Speaking of working out, I still can’t. I thought I might be able to do Pump this Saturday, but I have to wait another week, and I’m totally okay with that. The doctor explained that elevating my heart-rate would disturb the progress of the little blood vessels that are busy growing and connecting, and if that happens, the transplant could fail. I’m feeling confident that I’ll get back to Pump next week Saturday! It’s not going to take over a month, as it did last time. Resuming my workouts sooner rather than later is going to help a lot with maintaining my weight, too, obviously.

All told: Things are going well, and I’m feeling confident.

2). I got some selfies with my son this afternoon!!!

 

I’ve got that tortoise-mom glow going on

 

He’s smiling!! I love, love, love being a tortoise mom, a reptile mom, Geronimo’s mom! I have this other pic wherein Geronimo’s looking straight at the camera:

 

My baby boy

 

I can’t with this guy. My heart can’t contain the love that I have for him.

For lighting contrast, here’s a selfie that I took in my office this morning:

 

Hi from my office

 

The vagaries of lighting, right?! I’m wearing the same make-up and everything in these pics that were all taken today, but morning/indoors/daylight face looks totally different, hue-wise, than afternoon/outdoors/shade face. (Photographed in bright, direct sunlight, Nenette’s fur is amazing. You can really see it. I wish I could capture it more often.)

Happy Friday Eve, my friends!

OH! Wait! I wanted to share this video with you, because it’s made me so happy all week:

 

 

Okay, now I’m out.

 

 

Non-narcotic pain med combo FYI. (Post-op update 2!)

It’s now been six days since my gum-grafting surgery. Can I just say that I AM SO GLAD THIS IS THE END OF IT. We have upper gums and lower gums, and now that both of mine have been grafted, I am done.

Days 1-3 weren’t too terrible. I was happy that things didn’t seem as difficult as they were after my November surgery! Days 4-present, though, have been kind of rough. I stopped trying to take it day by day and started congratulating myself on getting from six hours to six hours. I can take an 800 mg ibuprofen (Advil) every six hours. The dose lessens the pain somewhat, but three hours in, I’m looking at the clock in desperation.

Other than intense pain, it’s really not so bad, and I’m thankful for that. I don’t have much in the way of bruising this time… just a little bit around my eyes, and a little beneath my chin. I’m not nearly as swollen and misshapen as I was in November. I’m not having to contend with the uncomfortable sensation of my gums suffocating beneath a thick band of foreign (cadaver) tissue.

But the pain, man.

The worst part of the pain comes from the roof of my mouth. From the looks of it, the doctor carved pretty deep into my palette to get the strip of tissue he needed. It certainly doesn’t feel like a mere “bad pizza burn” on the roof of my mouth, has he’d said it would. Doctors are hilarious in how they understate things like that, aren’t they? Hilarious and creative.

Callaghan took a pic of the tissue-removal site, but I’m thinking it’s kind-of-maybe too gory to post here, so I’ll refrain. Instead, I’m posting a video clip I took this morning. OH – those of you who follow me on Instagram, I’m sorry if you were around during my attempts to post the video to stories. It failed, obviously.

I recorded this after I woke up the second time today, just after noon. I threw on some clothes and sat down to tell you about my spectacular re-discovery: you can use both acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) for pain control, either alternating them or taking them together. I knew this, but I’d forgotten! If you’re also narcotics-challenged, this is good for you to know in the event that you have surgery.

Not sure why I’ve been inclined to film myself talking when it hurts to talk, but I have been, so I’m going with it. Again, I’m sorry for being less than clear. It sounds like I’m saying “i-be-profen” rather than “i-bu-profen,” so please forgive me for that. The best thing about the video is that Nenette appears in it, and she had no idea! We’re both looking a little pasty due to our lighting being less than ideal, as usual, but you can kind of see her colors.

 

 

That’s all I’ve got for today, friends. I hope your week’s off to a great start!

 

 

Gum-grafting surgery is over. It went well. (ALSO, Body Combat 82 is EVERYTHING.)

Coming at you from the glorious place that is AFTER my LAST gum-grafting surgery! It’s over, and I’m so glad. I’m feeling good, even. [::knocks wood::]

The highlight of the week, though, was yesterday afternoon’s Body Combat workout that I did as a phone meet-up with my friend. We did #82, which is officially my favorite Combat release of all time. I love everything about that release, including its tracklist and how the music goes perfectly with the workout segments. I’ve never loved a Body Combat release in its entirety from beginning to end. I’ve never had a “favorite” release, like I have in Body Pump. (Body Pump #101 is my favorite, if you must know.)

I was still wearing the makeup I’d put on in the morning before going to get my teeth cleaned.

It was a coincidence that my dental cleaning was the day before my oral surgery, and it was also a coincidence that makeup day fell on Body Combat day. The only time I’ve ever worn makeup to the gym was for Combat, because my Combat classes were evening classes, when I already had makeup on. No one in Body Pump (morning classes only, for me) has ever seen me there in makeup… except for that one time on Halloween, when we dressed up.

After Combat, I stuck my face in front of the phone for a selfie (aka video clip from which I snapped a screenshot, haha, sorry again for the graininess). My post-Combat face is always the same: satisfied, sweaty, and smeared with makeup.

 

Post-Combat. [13 May 2020]

 

I put the phone in front of my face again this afternoon, shortly after my surgery. I talked into the camera and posted it to my insta story. I’m mostly incoherent.

 

 

Those last words before I signed off were “I’m out of it,” as if that wasn’t obvious.

I’m so thankful that I don’t feel nearly as bad this time as I did after the November surgery. I have high hopes for a faster recovery!

On that note, I hope you’re all doing well. Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 9. (SURPRISE! I’m having surgery this week.)

Since yesterday, Arizona’s confirmed virus case-count has increased by 356, and our body-count has increased by 20. At 11,736 cases and 562 deaths, our numbers are still rising, and yet our governor is barreling ahead with his plan to lift our stay-at-home order this Friday. Expert, scientific data provided by our “universities’ model – an Arizona-specific model created by 23 researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona – has projected that the only way to avoid a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases is to wait to reopen at the end of May.” Instead of considering Arizona’s data-driven projections in making his decision, our governor fired his state’s team of scientists and is now deferring to the federal data, whatever that may be.

We’re at the mercy of the inevitable percentage of Arizonans who will run back out into the world like “THE VIRUS IS OVER! THE VIRUS IS OVER!” when in fact, it’s far from over.

I’ll stay at home, regardless. Due to sudden, unforeseen circumstances of which I’m not yet at liberty to speak, I’m having my gum-grafting surgery this Thursday, as in the day after tomorrow!

I’ve been taking my hydroxycholoroquine all this time, but it’s too late to stop it now (I read that the drug stays in your system for two months after you stop taking it), so there’s no use in worrying about it. I’ll just be prepared for another prolonged healing process.

Also, I’ve been warned that my face will bruise more severely this time, because they’ll be taking tissue from the roof of my mouth. (New readers: they used cadaver tissue when I had my upper row done in November.) November’s bruises stayed on my face for weeks. I don’t want people to call the authorities when they see my face, so I’ll probably stay at home until mid-June.

And that is how you impose a stay-at-home order.

I’m going to miss food.

My post-surgery goal this time is to not lose weight. I don’t know how I’m going to manage this, but I’m going to try. I also hope to get back into my workouts in two weeks or less. Now that I’m working out at home, I don’t have to worry about people seeing my face.

Today, I extra-enjoyed my usual afternoon snack of raw almonds with crunchy, toasted chickpeas and a pear. I’ll extra-extra enjoy it tomorrow, because that’ll be the end of it for a while.

 

Current favorite snack combo: raw almonds and toasted, crunchy chickpeas with sea salt

…and a piece of fruit

 

I hope you’re all doing well!

 

 

7 movies, 3 series. (April Favorites!)

April was halfway-to-October month, as in, halfway to SHORT HORROR OCTOBER. Hence, I took it upon myself to watch more in the way of horror shorts than usual. It’s my responsibility, after all, to bring you the best in short horror when October comes around. As selective as I’m trying to be, I have 12 short films on my list so far. This number will probably (at least) double in the next six months, so you’ll likely get several horror shorts per post in October. I’m looking at the list and seeing nothing that I want to cut.

That aside, I’m here to tell you about the feature films and series that we/I watched in April, because that’s all that’s on my list this time. There were no new food items or products to try in April.

We were glad to be able to catch the three movies we’d wanted to watch in theaters in the last six months. As a wonderful coincidence, they’re all set on or in the ocean: The Lighthouse, Aquaman, and Underwater.

Then, Netflix dropped an original movie, Extraction, which readily delivered the sort of entertainment you expect and want from a high-octane action movie.

Also in April, I discovered the dark, arthouse films of Greek writer/director/producer Yorgos Lanthimos, whose work held my fascination for days after viewing it. I watched The Killing of a Sacred Deer, went on to The Lobster, and then to Dogtooth. One after the other, the films drew me into their simple yet elaborately designed little worlds, each one small in scope, grand in situation, and surreal on any scale. The minimalism of Lanthimos’ cinematic style is interesting, too, in the way that it isolates the story, with you in front of it like the proverbial fly on the wall – you can either walk away, or allow yourself to become engrossed in the material that’s ultimately thought-provoking, often macabre, and sometimes perverse. I found myself caught up in the spare complexity of Lanthimos’ excellent films with their carefully crafted, awkward characters. The only film of his I’d heard about in the mainstream was The Favorite. I’ll get to that one eventually, but the next two I plan to watch will be Alps and Kinetta.

As for series, Ozark’s third season dropped in April, along with The Terror: Infamy (season 2 of The Terror) and the Netflix mini-series Unorthodox. 

On with the list, then! The first four, I watched with Callaghan. The rest, I watched alone. (I’m going to start making that distinction.)

 

First, the “recently in theaters” from newest to oldest:

1). Underwater (Amazon Prime)

 

 

2). Aquaman (Amazon Prime)

 

 

3). The Lighthouse (Amazon Prime)

 

 

 

Next, the Netflix Original:

4). Extraction (Netflix Original Movie)

 

 

 

(That wraps up the four that I watched with Callaghan!)

Now for Yorgos Lanthimos’ excellent films:

5). The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Netflix)

 

 

6). The Lobster (Netflix)

 

 

7). Dogtooth (original title: Kynodontas) (Amazon Prime)

 

 

These last three on the list are series, which I found to be outstanding:

8). Ozark (S3) (Netflix)

 

 

9). The Terror: Infamy (S2) (Hulu)

 

 

10). Unorthodox (Netflix)

 

 

That does it for April, my friends. Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 8. (Fitness updates!)

I finally have fitness updates for you who’ve asked for them, and for anyone else who’s interested!

Our garage gym is at the top of the list of things for which I’m incredibly grateful during this quarantine. The virus has changed everything about my fitness regimen, and in a good way. I’m still doing Les Mills workouts via their On Demand (online) home workout subscription, but I’m using different equipment and lifting heavier than I was before. On the cardio side, I’m solidly back into Body Combat, and I’ve added a new class. I do three days of weights and three days of cardio per week, minimum.

It’s heating up outside, but that’s what the living room is for when I go to do my afternoon cardio workouts! Mornings are cool enough to comfortably lift weights in the garage.

I’m loving doing three of my six weekly workouts “with” my friend Jessica. Since our gym closed and we haven’t been able to hang out in Saturday morning Body Pump, we’ve been hanging out on the phone during Saturday morning Body Pump, instead. We both have home gym set-ups and Les Mills On Demand. We get on the phone in front of our online class and hit “play” at the same time and put our phones on speaker. We don’t talk during the workouts. It’s an invisible companionship and accountability thing. We have to show up, because the other one is expecting us. It’s rad.

Other changes:

–The new cardio class I added to my regimen is Body Step. (Thank you for suggesting it, Jessica!) The step and four risers are the only equipment I’ve had to purchase.

Those of you who’ve been here a while, remember when I tried to establish myself in a Sunday morning step class? I made the effort because it was the only other cardio class that fit into my schedule, but I didn’t love step enough to want to give up my Sundays. It’s different now that I can customize my schedule, and also, my new step aerobics experience is insane in the way that I like my cardio. The reason, of course, is that it’s Les Mills.

Step aerobics: We’re going to kick your butt with our hardcore workout!
Les Mills Bodystep: Hold my water.

Les Mills incorporates squats, lunges, regular burpees, snatch burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and variations of dynamic planks into their step choreography… and that’s just what I’ve seen so far. They also have you pick up a weight plate or two from time to time.

In other words, Les Mills Body Step is not your grandmother’s step aerobics class.

–Body Pump: I’ve ditched the barbell, and, along with it, my February whim of sticking with light weights. I’m now lifting the heaviest dumbbells possible in our barbell-less garage, as in, “to failure” in every Body Pump track. We have dumbbells up to 30 lbs, so I can start heavy and quickly drop my weights down to lighter ones when I need to.

The luxury is that I no longer have to decide beforehand what weights I’m going to use in the next hour so can bring them to my spot on the floor. If I want to change my weights during the track, I don’t have to run back and forth to the equipment area, disturbing others while weaving around them. Body Pump is fast-paced lifting (which is why light weights are also effective), so the track would be over by the time I’d get back to my spot with the new weights. Neither do I have to worry about being that person spreading into neighboring peoples’ spaces with my cluster of weights.

All of the weights are within reach, and they’re dumbbells, so I don’t have to waste time messing with the barbell. I can do drop-sets easily, and so I do.

Dumbbell-only Body Pump is also intense and challenging because it involves more in the way of stabilization, I’ve noticed. I feel like I’m working my core a lot more with the hand weights.

 

Post-workout selfie [05/05/2020]

 

Bad lighting, I know. I’m totally washed-out here! I can’t technically explain the blinding whiteness of my right leg, but my apologies to your eyes. I’m standing in front of the open back door, peering down into my phone that was situated on a case of emergency water at about stomach-level. I’m rarely thrilled with the lighting in my pics, but I’ve yet to develop an interest in learning how to fix it, so that’s on me.

ALSO, I cut my bangs again, and I’m not hating it.

April Favorites coming Thursday!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 7. (Lost in Space, but in a good way.)

There’s always a t-shirt hanging on the outside of the closet in my office, and it changes along with my general mood. I changed it today:

 

(current mood)

 

It went from a gold-with-flowers “Stay wild” to this gray-with-UFO “Take me with you,” but it isn’t to say that I’m doing poorly. Somehow, I’m maintaining the general good, steady mood I’ve been in since last July/August. It’s been almost a year of no sightless abyss! Of course I have some days that are better than others, but they follow the normal fluctuations of mood that everyone experiences in response to the vagaries of life. It’s not about being rock-solid 100% of the time. It’s about equilibrium. I’m thankful for it.

As for the t-shirt hanging here in my office, I’m just looking at the situation in the world right now and thinking longingly of other places in our galaxy. My mind has been in space a lot recently. (No, not in the way of being spacey or spaced-out… not more than usual, anyway, haha.) I’ve been spending time on NASA’s “Space-Place” site, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m enjoying it despite being two generations older than its intended audience.

I’m continuously struck by the vastness of our universe, and I want to be out there in it, floating around and visiting other places. Earth is a microscopic speck of dust in the universe; there’s no way that we’re the only life-forms in all of existence. The universe is real. I find the idea of Earth’s creatures being the only living things in it to be arrogant and absurd.

Thank you for hanging out here with me, as always. You guys are certifiably awesome.

Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 7. (“Await further instructions” + the 1918 pandemic.)

We’re on week 7 of the quarantine. We don’t know what will happen after Thursday, since it’ll be the last day of April, and therefore the last day of Arizona’s current quarantine order. As with the previous quarantine period that ended on the last day of March, this one will end in reassessment. It’s another AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS situation, though it’s fairly safe to say that quarantine won’t end this week.

We should stop calling it “quarantine” and just stick with its nickname “the new normal,” because that’s what it is. I think that medical experts’ suspicions that the pandemic will last for 18 months is correct. They’re saying that the second wave will hit at the end of the summer, as flu season begins. I think it would be a mistake to rush back out full-force in the interim… not while there’s no immunity, no cure, no vaccine.

On that note, I watched this Weird History video (Weird History is one of my favorite YouTube channels) and thought it was interesting in light of today’s pandemic. As usual, Weird History is at the ready with its corny jokes, but hey, props to them for trying to make a pandemic video entertaining:

 

 

In other news, an update on our wildlife situation is in order, because the squirrel I told you about last week is still around! He isn’t just a passer-by, and he doesn’t just romp around in the backyard. We’ve seen him romping in the front, too, amongst the desert vegetation we’ve got out there. Yesterday morning, I spotted him racing across our front patio and then leaping to the base of our date palm. He seems to divide his time between our yards in the front and back; we’ve settled on calling him “Curly Bill” after the Arizona outlaw involved with the Earps on both sides of the law around the time of the shooting at the O.K. Corral.

Curly Bill the Squirrel will definitely get his picture taken one day.

Meanwhile, here’s a pic I took of Nenette this morning:

 

“When I needed a hand, you gave me your paw.”

 

I also want to bring you another Geronimo update post near-future-ish. He makes my heart swoon. I took out my “reptile mom” backpack last week, but I put it away again after Callaghan observed that it looks like the virus. I guess he’s right. It’s round, and it has big soft spikes all over it.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 6. (Earth Day, and we have a SQUIRREL in our yard now?!)

Yesterday was Earth Day. Earth Day 2020. We’ve been in quarantine for six weeks, and we’re still in awe of the brightness of our desert stars, the quiet above us even as the airport is still a five-minute drive away, and, more recently, the wonderful and bewildering appearance of a large squirrel in our backyard.

A squirrel. I didn’t even know we had squirrels in Phoenix, and I’ve lived here – in various parts of the Valley – for 29 years! Not only that, but this newcomer to our yard is bigger than the squirrels I used to see in California, where squirrels in the yard are common. This squirrel is as large as most of the rabbits I used to see in the Superstition foothills.

Now I know that there are squirrels in the Sonoran Desert. It only took three decades and a pandemic to learn this.

I can’t get over it. We live downtown, and… a squirrel!

We’ve seen the squirrel three or four times now, but I’ve yet to succeed in snapping a pic. You can bet I’ll post it here if/when I can get one.

Yesterday was Earth Day, and it was also the first morning I noticed that Salem, our feral cat, didn’t sleep in her laundry room bed. She didn’t sleep there last night, either. She’s sleeping beneath the hibiscus now, we suppose, as that’s where she’s been crashing during the day. Yesterday our temps hit 90F for the first time in 2020, so Salem is apparently done with her cozy blanket until winter.

Earth Day 2020… in the middle of a pandemic.

I don’t know whether author Haroon Rashid wrote his poem “We Fell Asleep in One World” with Earth Day in mind (he wrote it with the virus in mind), but I thought about it a lot yesterday as I meditated on the generosity of our beautiful planet, which has been more than patient with us.

You may have read this poem already, but I wanted to share it here in case you haven’t:

We fell asleep in one world, and woke up in another.

Suddenly Disney is out of magic,
Paris is no longer romantic,
New York doesn’t stand up anymore,
The Chinese wall is no longer a fortress,
and Mecca is empty.

Hugs & kisses suddenly become weapons, and not
visiting parents & friends becomes an act of love.

Suddenly you realize that power, beauty & money are
worthless, and can’t get you the oxygen you’re fighting for.

The world continues its life and it is beautiful. It only puts
humans in cages. I think it’s sending us a message:

“You are not necessary. The air, earth, water and sky
without you are fine. When you come back, remember
that you are my guests. Not my masters.”

–Haroon Rashid

 

 

 

Happy belated Earth Day, everyone, and Happy Friday Eve.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 6. (Your mail carrier knows you.)

Today, I was forced out of quarantine by some errands that needed to be run, so that was interesting. Remember when leaving your house wasn’t interesting? Wasn’t a cause for reflection? Mask, check. Gloves, check. Hand sanitizer, check. 

I think even the least social of us are getting a little antsy for in-person human interaction. I actually chatted with our mail carrier for about five minutes on the driveway this afternoon when I got back. He’s an obvious introvert, as well, so I was surprised when he said some additional words after he greeted me as I was getting out of the car.

We exchanged hellos, as usual, and then he asked, “What branch were you in?” It took me a second to process his question, and then I realized that he must’ve put something from the V.A. in the mailbox. It turns out that he did… and that he’s also an army veteran who served in the Gulf War. I never would’ve known!

I mean, I don’t know whether he would’ve struck up a conversation were we not in the middle of a pandemic. He’s probably long since deduced that I’m a veteran, since I receive a significant volume of mail from the V.A., but today, he was inclined to ask about it. I think that his interest is a by-product of social distancing. He misses social interaction.

It was nice.

It got me thinking, though, about how our mail carriers can actually know stuff about us based on the mail we receive.

Things our mail carrier knows/could know about me (were he to pay attention): where I bank, where I went to college, where I’ve donated money; that I’m a veteran, and that I’m a member of both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars; that I’m passionate about animal rights; that I have family in Hawaii; that the Asian part of my ethnicity is Japanese; that I’m a writer; that I’m over 50; that I’m darkly inclined subculture-wise; that I have an exotic pet, and also at least one other pet (reptiles are considered to be exotic, so we go to two different vets, one of them exotic-specific); that I have or have had membership at the Desert Botanical Gardens; which hospital E.R. I visited last summer; where I get my glasses; where I go for dental work; and the brands of all of my kitchen appliances. That’s all that comes to mind at the moment. I’m sure there’s more.

What does your mail carrier know about you, or could know about you were they to pay attention? They could really know you, and maybe now, they want to. I love that social distancing is encouraging us to interact… or maybe it’s just the fact that we’re all navigating this colossal, unprecedented turn of events together, and we’re feeling that energetic connection. Whatever the case, before the virus, the mail carrier said “hi” and kept walking, and so did I.

I tried to get a selfie with Nenette yesterday. It didn’t work. All this picture shows is her reticence and my subsequent disappointment:

 

::le sigh::

 

And all this picture shows is that I didn’t do a good job cutting my hair. Granted, it’s not styled, but still. I don’t regret it, though. I love the (bottom) part that I fixed:

 

Looking forward to properly addressing this mess on my head.

 

First-world problems, anyone?

 

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 5. (Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 6)

On “missed connections” during a pandemic:

With everyone in quarantine, there would either be more missed connections than usual, or less, depending on how you look at it.

The last time I did a Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse poem was in January, back in the Before Time. Just. We were on the brink, and we didn’t know it.

Be that as it may, for this sixth poem in my “Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse” series,  I read through the Missed Connections listings on Craigslist and gleaned some lines that came together in a poem that seems more wistful to me than ever.

For those of you unfamiliar with this series of poems:

To create these poems, I skim through the list of Missed Connections entries on Craigslist and pick out the subject lines that intrigue me in some way… then I arrange them into a shape that makes sense to me. (My standard explanation)

Credit goes to those strangers who unwittingly dropped wonderful bits of poetry in Missed Connections. (My standard disclaimer)

A note about this particular poem: This time, I left all punctuation (and lack thereof) exactly the way I found it. I felt that letting the lines stand alone and untouched made the final poem feel more apt for the times.

 

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 6

To the person who paid for my coffee
I broke your key in your car door
Where is our joke for today?

Saw you at the stoplight
Saw you down by the fountain
You were jogging at Tempe Town Lake

Full moon festival we danced together all night

Where are you

Seeking a friend for the end

U Haul
The extra mile
Years ago

Sad but True
Burning building
Where I took you last weekend

My last customer

 

[credit: esoteric_guru]

The End.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 5. (Open letter: Wear Protection, as your high school sex-ed teacher would say.)

Well, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I ordered a pair of hair-cutting shears, and I cut my own hair. Yes. Yes, I did. I don’t think it looks great, but I love it!

This pandemic is slowly getting me back into fighting condition. I’m working out in the garage four-five days out of seven, and I walk with Callaghan around our section of town at least twice a week.

Speaking of our evening neighborhood walks, I have this quick open letter to post:

Dear People Also Walking on the Tempe Town Lake Bridge and Its Adjacent Paths by the Tempe Center for the Arts: WEAR. YOUR. MASKS. FFS.

Thank you,
A Concerned Asian-Looking Chick

The west end of the lake is a favorite walking destination of ours (it’s a 20 minute stroll from our house, wait-time at two crosswalks included), but we’re not heading there again anytime soon. It’s not safe over there. There’s no social distancing to be seen, very few protected faces, and yesterday, it got to a point: We couldn’t keep six feet of distance around us on the bridge. I even had someone brush up behind me! And they weren’t wearing a mask!

I’m mostly talking about pedestrians, by the way… I’m not as concerned about the skaters and cyclists.

It’s a popular area that’s getting more and more crowded, and for reasons I cannot fathom, most people there don’t wear masks. I saw masks on maybe four faces out of 50-70 yesterday. I saw clusters of pedestrians running into other clusters as they ambled along on the path by the art center, merging and mingling, and just… no.

So we’ll happily wander in other directions for now. We have several favorites. There’s no need to walk into an area knowing that there are maskless people at large.

The sunset is pretty on the western edge of the lake, though.

 

Sunset on the lake [13 April 2020]

 

I’m sorry that this post turned into something of a rant, friends. I also wanted to talk more about home workouts, but I’ll save it for a dedicated “fitness updates” post. I hope you’re all doing well!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 4. (Quick FUN tip: planks!)

The hour is beyond nigh for this post, and my brain is wrung out.

Hello. I’m writing this from a forearm plank position… just this one sentence. Did you know that this was possible? Neither did I. It never occurred to me before, anyway. I’m not sure why it did now. I’m going to blame it on the virus, which I don’t have, by the way.

(I’m in a weird mood. Please bear with me.)

If you’re not familiar with the plank position, then this is for you:

What you do is you set your laptop on the floor and lie down in front of it on your stomach, like you do, all stretched out and comfortable, your forearms resting on the floor. [<– That is not a part of the plank position. This next part is. –>] Then you flex your feet forward so your toes (actually more the balls of your feet) are planted on the floor, and you raise your body up so you’re supported only by your forearms/elbows in the front and your toes/balls of your feet in the back. Your fingers would be left free to tap the keyboard. Except I’m not suggesting that you do that. That is not a part of the position.

I won’t be writing in the plank position, either. It was just an interesting thing to try. It got me thinking, though, that it might be cool to watch something on the computer while lying on the floor and holding a plank every so often.

I grabbed this image in a hurry just to show you what I’m talking about. This is not an ideal demo pic. The quality and lighting are lacking, for one thing, and for another thing, I’m wearing this big, baggy shirt that’s draping to the floor. It’s rather unfortunate, but just to give you a general idea:

 

forearm plank shenanegans [09 April 2020]

 

Right?!

Watching videos or episodes or movies or whatnot is a sedentary activity, but if you lie on the floor with your computer and elevate yourself to a plank position for even one second, you’re suddenly doing a one-second, full-body strength-training workout while watching whatever you’re watching. You’ll feel your entire body working to keep itself propped up. This is not easy. If you can do it for even one second, you’re a rockstar.

It may not seem fun, but it is! What if you were to try it and hold the position for one second, and then, a little while later, decide to do it again? What if you were to continue doing it every once in a while, holding the position for just a second each time? You would soon notice that you’re holding the position for two, three, four seconds at a time. At some point, you would challenge yourself to hold the position for ten seconds, and then longer, because you’re a human, and humans like a challenge.

Humans like a challenge, and humans wouldn’t enjoy eating snacks in the plank position. That was the thought that struck me. I’ve eaten way too much in the way of snackery while watching T.V. or whatever. Doing this plank thing would be a satisfying diversion. Really!

I just thought I’d offer a fun suggestion for all of our housebound butts. Everything is different and weird now, anyway, so why not?

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 4. (On pandemics and mental health.)

Callaghan and I sat down in the kitchen the other day to take stock of some of the items we’d kept in our bug-out bag. As we sorted through them, I tried to remember whether, in the Before Time, I imagined that the bag’s contents would ever be put to use in an actual situation. I don’t think that I did. At least, I don’t think I imagined the bug-out bag being used in this sort of apocalyptic situation. I always thought of it in terms of its intended use, which is the get the f*ck out of dodge STAT sort of situation.

The disposable gloves are out of the bag. The future is now, the hypothetical has become reality, and it’s all still so new.

It’s so new, we’re still mentally wrangling with the challenge of changing our behaviors, and we’re finding that this is incredibly hard work. A part of changing behavior is changing our thinking, and most of the behavior we’re talking about is subconscious. Not only is it mentally hard work, but it’s work that we have to do in order to survive and to save others. How can we not be at least a little anxious with this thought in mind? There’s a lot of pressure here, and there’s very little room for error.

Broadly speaking, this is how the pandemic impacts our mental health: We have to do this strenuous mental work in order to save ourselves and others while also trying to maintain our calm.

A zombie apocalypse would be easier to manage than this, in my opinion. You could see a zombie approaching. You cannot see this beast of a virus floating in the air and attaching itself to surfaces. This thing is encased in fat that makes it buoyant, and it’s festooned with little suction cups that make it sticky.

New behaviors to learn, and the mnemonic aids I’m using to ingrain them into my consciousness:

If you must go to the store, don’t do it without bringing a mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer or wipes, because all air outside of the house is poison.

If you have to bring something into the house (that hasn’t been disinfected outside), handle it with caution and then treat the entire area like it’s a crime scene and you’re the murderer and you need to remove your fingerprints from every surface you touched.

If you’re out walking, imagine that this is the zombie apocalypse, and every person you see is a zombie. Six feet between. (A fast-moving zombie could cut through the six feet distance in a heartbeat, so imagine that they’re the slow-moving kind.)

Wash your hands constantly, as if the whole day is spent chopping onions and garlic and you’re desperate to rid yourself of the overpowering aromas.

Train yourself to think before you touch your face, and I mean think as in all of my fingers are sponges soaked in hydrochloric acid that will burn holes into my face if they get anywhere near it.

And to keep my anxiety in check, I’m prioritizing working out. In the best of times, working out is the paramount fix where my mental health is concerned, so now, it’s even more critical that I get into “the gym.” I had time-consuming technical difficulties accessing Body Pump this morning, so I actually canceled my phone appointment with my shrink, as it was the next item on my agenda. I couldn’t imagine forgoing my workout, and I couldn’t do it any later in the day. I’ll have to explain this to him next week and hope that he understands. I’m sure that he will, but you know. I just felt terrible canceling at the very last minute.

Callaghan and I take evening walks every other day. Here’s a bad picture of the moon last night, on the eve of its super-ness:

 

The moon the night before it was pink and super. [06 April 2020]

 

Take care and stay safe, everyone.

 

 

 

In like a lion, out like a tiger: March was a liger. (March Favorites!)

March was a long-ass month, and yet I only have four “Little Things” items to share with you.

This first one is really the only one, though.

 

  1. Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (Netflix)

 

 

Words escape me.

Tiger King isn’t on my list because I loved it so much. (It’s not a lovable story.) It’s on my list because it’s shenanigans of unbelievable proportions, and it’s an excellent production.

This seven-part docuseries follows former private zoo owner “Joe Exotic,” aka “The Tiger King,” though the story isn’t just about him. You meet many other characters along the way as Tiger King’s events unfold on their twisted path. What’s mind-boggling to me is that each new character is somehow more bizarre than the last, and not one of them is fictitious. I had to keep reminding myself that Tiger King is a documentary. It contains hours and hours of footage accumulated over months, if not years.

One take-away is that there are cat people, and then there are cat people. Your garden-variety “crazy cat lady” has nothing on the folks involved in Tiger King.

Tiger King is well worth the watch because it’s an outstanding production, as I’d said, and the story is just… well, let’s just say that if ever there was a train wreck custom-designed to serve as a distraction from a pandemic menacing all of humankind, it’s Tiger King.

(As a strong proponent of animal rights and welfare, I found Tiger King to be difficult to watch in some places. I turned my eyes away from those moments.)

 

I’m going to leave the following two films bare of text. They’re both fantastic cinematic achievements showcasing impressive acting performances, directing, and story-telling. I have nothing further to say about these films except that I highly recommend them both if you haven’t already seen them. The Invisible Man, a re-make, is a spooky sci-fi thriller, and …Hollywood is a Tarentino comedy-thriller without much of a plot, but entertaining nonetheless. “Tarentino” says it all, right? Ha!

2. The Invisible Man (in theaters now, but we rented it on Amazon Prime Video)

 

 

 

3. Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

 

 

 

4. Acure Seriously Soothing SPF Day Cream. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Acure Seriously Soothing SPF Day Cream

 

I bought this product when I was almost out of the sunscreen I was using, and I was glad that I had it stored away for the occasion. I used up the last of my sunscreen during the worst time to go looking for a new sunscreen. Fortunately, I love this one. It’s everything I want in a sunscreen: SPF 30, broad spectrum, high zinc oxide content (15.50%), and smooth application.

This SPF product is really an all-in-one moisturizer, but I layer it over my Nourish Organics day cream, anyway. If you’ve been here a while, you know that I’m a skin-care junkie.

 

The End, then. Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 3. (“Little Things.”)

They say that car crashes are down 75% here in metro Phoenix.

It’s been eerily quiet here under the Sky Harbor flight path.

The air is cleaner.

The clarity of the night sky has been breathtaking. The virus has unveiled the crisp glory of our desert stars.

I’m enjoying my Les Mills On Demand garage workouts so much that I’ve decided to cancel my gym membership. It’s unlikely that I’ll feel 100% comfortable in the gym over the next year, and I can always re-join at a later date. Meanwhile, I’m not going to miss the stress of getting to the gym on time, and I’ll be saving time, in general… along with money and gas.

Letting go of my social gathering place will not translate to letting go of my friends. There are other places than germ-infested gyms.

Our fur/scale babies are so delightfully sweet in their obliviousness. They have no idea what’s happening in the world around them; maybe this is why being with them is having an extra-soothing effect these days. Immersed in such moments, I’m discovering the extent to which innocence can be a healing balm.

The virus can’t eradicate innocence.

I’ve seen more of the best of humanity in the last few weeks than I’ve seen in my entire life. In the proverbial grand scheme of things, I’m witnessing the virus restore hope and faith.

[Odd side-note: I’ve been back on my hydroxycholoroquine for almost a month since I canceled my gum-grafting surgery, and now I’m hearing that hydroxycholoroquine has been approved for use as a treatment for the virus…?]

Also apropos to nothing, I’ve been baking more than usual.

 

The best vegan chocolate chip cookies, I swear.

 

My heart hurts for you who are suffering in any way due to the virus. Sending love and energy out to the universe to bless you all.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

The Big Things can wait. (February Favorites!)

There were a couple of Big Things that made the month of February especially enjoyable, but these lists I put together are about the Little Things. If you’re new here, hello! I do a list like this at the beginning of each month. They’re basically/mostly a run-down of whatever entertainment, processed foods, and non-edible products I discovered and particularly enjoyed in the previous month.

Without further ado, then! Here are the Little Things I’ve got to show you from February:

 

1). The Autopsy of Jane Doe (Netflix)

 

 

It’s not often that we pick a horror movie that actually grips us in any kind of way you’d want from a horror piece. This one did. Highly recommend, fellow horror fans!

 

2). The Pharmacist (Netflix)

 

 

The Pharmacist is the docuseries you don’t necessarily want to watch, but you should. I watched it alone (Callaghan doesn’t watch everything that I watch), and I pretty much binged the four parts/episodes. A New Orleans man searches for his son’s killer and ends up exploring avenues that lead him to other killers, killers of others. (Those last three words were unnecessary, but I couldn’t resist that palindrome. Had to do it.)

 

3). I Am Not Okay with This (Netflix)

 

 

Each episode of this Netflix dramedy is 30 minutes or less, and there are only seven. It’s easy, fun, fast, and cringey. It’s light and dark, real and fantastical… in other words, as balanced in contradiction as a teenager can be. I Am Not Okay with This is a story about a young girl whose superhero powers develop in tandem with all else that develops in adolescence. (It’s based on a comic book series, in case you’re wondering about the superhero part.)

 

4). Homeland, S6 (Netflix)

 

 

All last year, Callaghan periodically wondered out loud about Homeland’s new season. Isn’t it supposed to be out by now? Two years after the last, its final season has finally arrived. As usual, it’s outstanding. We’re already wondering, “WTF, Carrie!” We’re going to miss Homeland.

 

5). Better Call Saul, S5 (Netflix)

 

 

Another series we’d been anticipating was Better Call Saul. May I just suggest that if you loved Breaking Bad and you haven’t yet watched Better Call Saul, you might want to get on it…? This Breaking Bad prequel focuses on the development of Saul, Walter’s attorney, and it’s brilliant. Season Six is the series’ penultimate one; as of now, the overlap between the two series is getting real.

 

6). Locke & Key (Netflix)

 

 

Like I Am Not Okay with This, Locke & Key is another “kid’s show” of a series. This outright fantastical story gives off Stranger Things vibes that become especially potent by the end of the season. If you enjoy stories in the Stranger Things vein, you’ll likely enjoy Locke & Key.

 

7). Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain English Muffins. (Vegan)

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain English Muffins

 

8). Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Original Flake Cereal. (Vegan)

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Original Flake Cereal

 

If you’ve been here awhile, you know that I love Ezekiel breads. Lately, I’ve been eating Ezekiel 4:9 cereal and English muffins… together. Hence, I’m writing about them together.

Food For Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 products were “Inspired by the Holy Scripture verse Ezekiel 4:9., Take also unto thee Wheat, and Barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it…

…indeed, Ezekiel 4:9 breads and cereals are made of these ingredients. This is a bad picture of the informative back panel of the cereal box, but if you click to enlarge it, you might be able to read it:

 

Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Original Flake Cereal

 

 

9). Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate. (Vegan)

 

Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate (71%)

 

I love a dark, bitter chocolate. I’ve been eating more sugar than usual lately because I’ve cycled into a chocolate phase. It’s safe to say that I’ve consumed maybe three of these Equal Exchange chocolate bars in the last month. It’s hard to resist! Equal Exchange dark chocolate is rich and creamy. It’s divine.

 

10). Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Oat Blossom Liquid Hand Soap. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Mrs. Meyer’s Oat Blossom Liquid Hand Soap

 

Also in February, I discovered Mrs. Meyer’s Oat Blossom scent. It’s kind of vanilla-almond-amberish. It’s my new favorite of the brand’s fragrances!

 

That’s it for February, my friends. Happy March to you!