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!

 

 

Sumo Haiku 4: Last (Kisenosato, Abi, Hakuho, Takayasu)

With this last posting day of the month comes my final set of Sumo Haiku. If you’ve stuck with me for all four days of this little event, thank you!

In addition to devoting these days to haiku for NaHaiWriMo, I was hoping to make Sumo interesting in a novel way for those who aren’t fans. I’ve only been a fan for three years, so I know how different it can be to regard these guys as humans among us, out and about. Let’s face it: If you’re not a Sumo fan and you’ve no knowledge of Sumo’s traditions, what you likely see of the sport is a bunch of obese men in diapers trying to push each other out of a sandbox. I hope I’ve managed to bring some personality into this perception, if nothing else!

*****

If you haven’t seen it already, click here to read Sumo Haiku Day One with its introductory, explanatory opening text. I’ll go ahead and re-post the disclaimer part here, though:

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

That being said, enjoy this last set of Sumo Haiku!

 

Sumo Haiku 4: Last (Kisenosato, Abi, Hakuho, Takayasu)

(by Kristi Garboushian)

 

Kisenosato:

 

  1. Kisenosato

Satisfying his

pressing need for clarity

requires nine days.

 

Abi:

 

2. Abi

Energy bound in

slim sheets of stationery:

changeability.

 

Hakuho:

 

3. Hakuho

He met a guy who

knows a guy who will purchase

his grandmother’s urn.

 

Takayasu:

 

4. Takayasu

Thunder clouds lifting

the earth on a planet turned

upside-down, shining.

 

The End, and Happy Friday Eve, my friends!

 

 

Sumo Haiku 3: Third (Ishiura, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Nishikigi)

It’s my hope that you’re enjoying these sumo haiku as much as I’m enjoying writing them, even if you’re not a part of a cross-over, niche world of readers who are both haiku and sumo fans. Whether you’re one of those or the other (or neither), I’m happy to introduce you to some of these combat athletes as they appear out in the world – in actual clothing, no less! (Pun not intended.)

Today is the third day of my Sumo Haiku project. Thursday will be the last TALC posting day of February. NaHaiWriMo will be over, my next post will consist of February Favorites, and then I have some newsy-news for you that I can’t wait to share!

If you haven’t seen it already, click here to read Sumo Haiku Day One with its introductory, explanatory opening text. I’ll go ahead and re-post the disclaimer part here, though:

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

Have at it!

 

Sumo Haiku 3: Third (Ishiura, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Nishikigi)

(by Kristi Garboushian)

 

Ishiura:

 

  1. Ishiura

Self-conscious, he keeps

room for flexibility

in his bright jacket.

 

Ikioi:

 

2. Ikioi

…obliviously

takes out-of-season fables

from spring libraries.

 

Sokokurai:

 

3. Sokokurai

Possesses secret

talent for dance instruction

willed to him at birth.

 

Nishikigi:

 

4. Nishikigi

Goal for the new year:

enchant beasts of granite strength

with handfuls of stars.

 

 

Sumo Haiku 2: Second (Terunofuji, Kaisei, Daishomaru, Okinoumi)

Whether you’re a faithful reader or just someone who stumbled into this space, welcome to the second day of my Sumo Haiku project!

I’m enjoying this project. I would love for others to see and appreciate the beauty of Sumo as well as that of haiku.

If you haven’t seen it already, click here to read Sumo Haiku Day One with its introductory, explanatory opening text. I’ll go ahead and re-post the disclaimer part here, though:

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

Enjoy!

 

Sumo Haiku 2: Second (Terunofuji, Kaisei, Daishomaru, Okinoumi)

(by Kristi Garboushian)

Terunofuji:

 

  1. Terunofuji

Ancestral fighter

redolent of sandalwood:

the older brother.

 

Kaisei:

 

2. Kaisei

No expectations.

He doesn’t want to offer

anything that asks.

 

Daishomaru:

 

3. Daishomaru

…adores reading and

inviting consequences

into rooms of art.

 

Okinoumi:

 

4. Okinoumi

He looks in their eyes

like he’s gazing at his death.

He rarely wears gold.

 

 

Sumo Haiku 1: First Four (Mitakeumi, Endo, Tochinoshin, Asanoyama)

In February 2016, I started writing a series of haiku, some of which I posted here in TALC. I didn’t post all 76 of the haiku I wrote between February and August that year, but I did share a few, each accompanied by a photo.

It’s now February four years later. Considering that February is National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) and that the next Grand Sumo Tournament (basho) is less than three weeks away, I wanted to write some haiku about Sumo. Haiku is a Japanese poetic form. Sumo is Japan’s national sport. I’m a big fan of both.

Sumo-related haiku could come from any number of angles, but what came to my mind in a moment of reflection was the idea of imagining the inner lives and selves of Sumo wrestlers (rikishi), like when you’re people-watching and your need for amusement spawns backstories for some of the humans you notice.

I selected my 16 favorite Sumo wrestlers with the intention of creating fictional personas for each of them. Between now and the end of the month – there are four more TALC posting days in February – you’ll see four haiku sets, each containing four haiku about four different wrestlers, one for each of them. The poems are short, as haiku traditionally consist of 17 syllables distributed across three lines. (I personally enjoy working within this tradition.)

Some of you are here for the poetry. Some of you might be Sumo fans, but I’m guessing that most of you are not. For those of you who’ve no special affection for either poetry or Sumo… yes, I went and combined the two! Thank you for bearing with me here today, and, in advance, on Thursday, and also on next week Tuesday and Thursday. [::sheepish grin::]

[DISCLAIMER: In these haiku, you’ll read purely fictitious portrayals of the wrestlers, simple whims of my imagination as I considered each one. I actually know nothing of the inner lives and selves of these guys.]

I’ll introduce each haiku with the name and photo of the wrestler. The haiku about that wrestler will appear beneath his photo.

Enjoy!

 

Sumo Haiku 1: First Four (Mitakeumi, Endo, Tochinoshin, Asanoyama)

(by Kristi Garboushian)

Mitakeumi:

 

  1. Mitakeumi

Maybe he believes

that evil fairies exist,

love notwithstanding.

 

Endo:

 

  1. Endo

“He’s the pretty one” –

I think, Goth, black eye-liner,

cold night, street light mist.

 

Tochinoshin:

 

  1. Tochinoshin

Mountains wake and roar

ten minutes into his sound

sleep. He’ll sometimes dream.

 

Asanoyama:

 

  1. Asanoyama

Perhaps amber ale.

Watery, late-summer fruit.

“Metrosexual.”

 

 

It’s about time! (Gym updates! First of 2020.)

I’ve been on a mission to get back into a fitness routine. It’s happening. Here are the changes:

1). No more Monday morning Body Pump. I’m doing a class called “Ropes and Cardio” on Mondays, instead. I did it for the first time this week, and it kicked my ass, which is going to happen when your ass hasn’t done cardio in almost a year and you’ve never picked up a battle rope in your life. This class is insane. I love it. I’ll go into further detail in an actual class review, maybe, after another two-three classes.

2). Now that I’m solidly back in Body Pump, I could pick up my regular weights again, but I’m sticking with the super light weights I used the first day I got back a week ago Saturday. Why? Because it’s different, and because I’m fascinated by the fact that I feel a slight post-workout burn in my muscles even after using the ridiculously light weights. It’s a new year, and this is my new gym thing, apparently. Do not increase my weights! Talk about a plot twist.

3). I’m walking two-six miles on whatever non-gym day fits my week (and not on a treadmill). I’m using the Accupedo app on my phone instead of a fitbit or other some such. Accupedo shows me everything I need to know. I tell it when I’m starting my walk, and it tracks my pace, steps, miles, calories burned, date, place, time, active time, and total time, and it shows a graph of my workout and also a map of where I walked! It takes from Google maps. It’s kind of creepy, but I’m kind of really digging it.

I’m happy with this new schedule and plan starting out the new year. It feels good doing cardio twice a week and light weights twice a week, as opposed to most of last year’s three heavier-weight Body Pump classes with no cardio.

I’m seriously jonsing for Body Combat, though. If I can find a way back into a Combat class….

Eight splendiferous weeks of workouts lie before me, and then I’ll be out for a month again. I’m having my second gum-grafting surgery (bottom row this time) on April 13. That surgery will be more invasive than the last one, I’ve been told. I’ll have a stent in my mouth post-op and likely even more bruises on my face, and, yeah, no one will be seeing me for a while. Once I’ve recovered from that, though, it’s going to be hard to keep me away from the gym.

For those who requested it, today’s selfie was taken yesterday in my car after my Body Pump workout.

 

My hair is amused.

 

Happy Friday Eve!

 

Favorites of 2019! (Late, but I’m a month behind on the new year.)

Hi, this is me outdoing myself on being late. I’m finally getting around to posting the “Favorites of My Favorite Little Things in 2019” list I’d planned on doing since December. Since 2020 just began for me when I made it back to the gym at the beginning of February, I’m finally here with the list!

The biggest part of the list is the products section, because I discovered quite a few holy grail, ride-or-die products in 2019. You’ll find that at the bottom of the list; I’m presenting these favorites in the same order I always do in my “favorites” lists: movies, series, food, products.

If you’re interested, take a look at my favorite “little things” of 2019!

Top three favorite theater movies: 
Parasite (October)
Joker (October)
Ford v. Ferrari (November)

In total, I saw nine movies in theaters in 2019. My top three favorites were the three I went to see in the fall.

Midsommar’s  artistic merits deem it top-three worthy, but Midsommar being Midsommar, its excellence made it unbearable for me. A cheesier, less deftly handled production may have made it more watchable. As it is, even the trailer still sends me into a panic. Why do I keep going back to watch the trailer?! There are scenes in the trailer that don’t even appear in the movie! Also, the trailer gives nothing away; one is in no way prepared for Midsommar’s atrocities after watching the trailer. I think it’s the music, the sound of the string instruments in the trailer that freak me out. Why am I rambling on about Midsommar when it’s not on my list? Ugh.

Moving on…

Favorite of the few movies I watched at home:
Train to Busan (Netflix). It’s now my favorite zombie film.

Favorite streaming T.V. series:
From Netflix: You, Dead to Me, Love, Death + Robots, After Life, After Life, and La Casa De Papel
From Hulu: Reprisal
From Amazon Prime Video: Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Favorite athletic event:
The May 2019 Grand Sumo Tournament (Natsu Basho) Grand Sumo Highlights. This was the tournament in which Tochinoshin, my favorite wrestler, earned back his Ozeki rank.

 

World-class sumo wrestler Tochinoshin (Levan Gorgadze of Georgia)

 

Favorite miscellaneous project to watch:
Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show (Amazon Prime Video)

Favorite processed food discoveries:
Birch Benders Plant Protein Pancake and Waffle Mix
Crunchy/toasted chickpeas with sea salt
Vega Protein Nutrition Shakes (especially the chocolate one)

Favorite skincare/cosmetic product discoveries*:
Earth Science Creamy Fruit Oil Cleanser A-D-E
Acure brightening facial scrub
Nourish Organic Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion
Schmidt’s Bergamot and Lime Natural Deodorant**
e.l.f. Radiant Gel Lip Stains
e.l.f. 16HR Camo Concealer
NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil
Jason Powersmile Anti-Cavity and Whitening Gel

*All vegan and cruelty-free

**I’d put a different deodorant as a favorite on December’s list, and it was my new favorite… until I developed an allergic reaction to it. I had to toss it. I picked up another of the Schmidt’s, and I’m glad to be using it again. It works fine, and I love its bergamot and lime scent! I probably won’t deviate from it again.

Favorite random little thing:
Bat birthday card (by Brace)

 

Bat birthday card by Brace

 

I don’t know what it is about this card. No one gave it to me. I came across it and I had to have it in my life and so I got it and it still makes me inexplicably happy. The front reads, “It’s when you can’t hear the bats, that’s when the bats are coming.” The inside reads, “Other than that, I have no birthday advice.”

On that note, I’ll bid you a happy rest of your day or night. I hope 2020 is off to a great start for you!

 

 

Campy. Tasty. Ethical. (January Favorites!)

January’s “favorite little things” theme involved easily digested entertainment, sweet munchies, and a couple of products. January wasn’t all that bad. Check out what I’ve got for you today!

 

1). The Witcher (Netflix)

 

 

Exaggerated video game/graphic novel aesthetics (The Witcher had already been delivered in both of those mediums) contribute to the comic-book style of this fantastical series. Where some see The Witcher in comparison to Game of Thrones, I see it as the adopted lovechild of Lord of the Rings, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.

As I’d commented to a friend, from what I’ve read online, there are two types of Game of Thrones fans: those who can’t watch The Witcher because of GoT, and those who love The Witcher. (Callaghan is a huge fan of GoT, and he enjoyed The Witcher.) It’s funny how a series can polarize a fandom of another series! I love humans. Whatever your case, The Witcher is done well from an artistic standpoint, so there’s that. I also appreciate and resonate with its thought-provoking tagline, “The worst monsters are the ones we create.”

 

2). American Horror Story – 1984 (S9)

 

 

Continuing on with campy entertainment to be enjoyed at home, we’ve got American Horror Story – 1984, which came out last fall. We finally got around to it in January! It’s unabashedly cheesy, and I loved everything about it; 1984 instantly landed in my top-three favorite AHS seasons.

 

3). Good Girls (S2) (Netflix)

 

 

Good Girls is the series you turn to when you want a crime thriller, a comedy, and a light watch. It’s well-cast with actors who can act, but as usual, I especially enjoyed the performances of Christina Hendricks and Retta.

 

4). Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (S3)

 

 

We were also happy to have a new season of Sabrina. The series gets darker, sappier, and more complicated in season three, and we were into it.

Come to think of it, we didn’t watch anything heavy in January. It was all magic, monsters, and ridiculous shenanigans… a fabulous tone to strike in the first month of the new decade, and appropriate for the times, at that!

 

5). Ten Second Songs (YouTube channel)

So there’s this guy named Anthony Vincent on YouTube. He’s a phenomenal music talent who plays numerous instruments very well, and he can sing like, well, everyone, apparently. In YouTube favorites this month, I bring you his channel: “Ten Second Songs.” From video to video, I’m endlessly entertained. One thing he does is he takes this challenge: he picks a song requested by a viewer, and he sings/performs it in the style of other musicians, also requested by viewers. You don’t need to be familiar with the songs or the musicians Vincent covers, as he’s hilarious and awesome to watch, regardless, but it’s especially fun when you do know the songs and musicians he’s covering. Here are a couple of examples of his cover challenges:

Disturbed’s “Down With The Sickness” (I know the song because I’m big a Disturbed fan):

 

 

Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” (I know the song because of Body Combat):

 

 

6). Mountain Dew Zero Sugar commercial (As Good As The Original) – The Shining edition

 

 

I love almost everything about this most excellent commercial. The only thing about it I don’t like is the product it’s touting, but who cares what it’s about when you have Bryan Cranston, Tracee Ellis Ross, and The Shining. I never get tired of this.

 

7). CLIF Bar – Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt

Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt CLIF Bar

 

I’d lost my ability to taste while I was sick in January, but I could taste sweet. One sweet I particularly got into was this variety of CLIF bar. Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt is delicious.

 

8). Ricola The Original Natural Herb Cough Drops

 

Ricola The Original Natural Herb Cough Drops

 

I don’t have much to say about these cough drops beyond 1). they helped, and 2). they didn’t taste terrible. I actually like this flavor! I always have a few in my bag now. You never know when you’ll need a cough drop.

 

9). Hello Activated Charcoal with Fresh Mint + Coconut Oil Epic Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

 

Hello Activated Charcoal with Fresh Mint + Coconut Oil Epic Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

 

I discovered this toothpaste as I was researching teeth-whitening products. I’m glad I gave it a try! It actually works, and it’s fun to brush with black toothpaste. You end up with a mouthful of ghoulish zombie teeth, and then you get to spit black stuff into the sink. It tastes like a minty toothpaste with a hint of barbeque (not BBQ foods, but the actual BBQ), and it’s just slightly gritty in texture. Love this stuff. I brush with it after brushing with my normal JASON toothpaste. I don’t mind brushing twice.

 

10). Sally Hansen Pure Vegan Nail Polish

 

Sally Hansen Pure Vegan Nail Polish

 

For the first time, a mainstream drugstore nail polish brand has a line of vegan nail polishes! Sally Hansen has stepped into the future. It’s good nail polish, too.

 

This brings us to The End. Didn’t I just say “Happy Friday Eve”? I’m saying it again!

 

 

Anecdotally, (+ I went back to the gym!)

I’ve been feeling better little by little, and I’ve been released to roam around outside of the house.  Outside of the house rocks my world. Outside of the house this morning meant that I finally took my car, Dysis, out for the spa day I’ve been promising her. That is, I took her to the car wash. And I took myself to get my bangs trimmed. And I took myself to the V.A. for my annual DEXA scan. The guy behind the radiology counter said, “Miss Kristi! We might as well get you a desk back here!” Because today was my fifth visit to radiology in the last month. Haha!

Outside of the house happened on Saturday, and also on Sunday. I took backyard selfies on Sunday afternoon after I got home.

 

Facing the shade with February aloe vera.

 

Let me tell you about Saturday, though. It was the first day of February, and I went back to the gym for the first time since December. Body Pump! I kept five-pound plates on my barbell as my heaviest weight because five weeks is a long time to be sedentary. It was a good call – I started feeling the post-workout pain that evening. Glorious, finallygotoffmyass post-workout pain.

Yesterday was Monday, and I did not go to the gym again as I’d planned. I woke up in the morning and cancelled my booking for Body Pump because the act of opening my eyes riled up my cough immediately, which was good, because…

I suddenly realized that my gym regimen could do with a change. Having finally set foot in a gym, 2020 is just now starting as far as I’m concerned, so it’s a good time for a change, and… why not?

After reviewing my options online, I decided that I’ll ditch Monday morning Body Pump for Monday morning Ropes and Cardio, a class that allegedly works you out with battle ropes and cardio segments thrown into the hour. You know I’ll be reporting on my experience with it, because it’ll be something totally new to me.

Morning Body Combat classes are scarce despite all of my gym’s locations. I miss it. In any case, though, it’s time to get back into cardio. I haven’t done it in over six months.

See you on Thursday with my list of January Favorites!

 

 

Henry Cavill is Jack Reacher.

Well! Author Lee Child is retiring and handing Jack Reacher over to his brother, who will continue to write Reacher novels. I read about this with a great deal of relief. I’d suspected that Child was going to retire soon, and I was not looking forward to Reacher’s death day. With this new arrangement, Reacher will survive Child’s retirement! Thank you for saving Reacher for us, Lee Child!

Even more exciting, Lee Child himself is working with Amazon Prime to bring us a Jack Reacher series (!!!) with a Reacher that we loyal fans will love, and this brings me to the crux of today’s post. They’re looking for an actor to play Reacher, and I have a suggestion.

I’d previously written that I thought Bradley Cooper could be a contender for the role of Jack Reacher. Let’s just forget I ever wrote that, because that was before I (obsessively) watched The Witcher on Netflix.

In The Witcher, Henry Cavill plays the lead role of Geralt of Rivia, who is Jack Reacher in another dimension.

In my mind, Cavill isn’t a mere contender for Reacher. He IS Reacher.

 

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in “The Witcher”

 

Geralt of Rivia travels around, gets himself embroiled in situations, and brings down monsters, just like Reacher.

 

Henry Cavill

 

Geralt of Rivia’s “hmm” is the equivalent of “Reacher said nothing.” Watch the two-minute video below to hear his “hmm” in various contexts. It’s a versatile “said nothing,” for sure. You get more than just “hmm” in the video, though. The video captures 23 specific seconds of pure Reacher.

If you only have 23 seconds to spare for this video, go to:

0:18 – 0:28 for a sample of Reacher dialogue delivery and a classic Reacher moment.
0:43 – 0:56 for another listen to his voice and another classic Reacher moment.

 

 

Cavill has a deep, full voice that’s effortlessly menacing, and thunderous when needed. Like Reacher’s.

As for specs? Henry Cavill is 6′,1″. No problem. Put 4″ custom lifts in his shoes to make him 6′,5″ if it’s necessary for this otherwise perfect Reacher to stand exactly that tall. He certainly wouldn’t be the first actor to do it. I found an article that points to Vin Diesel, Sylvester Stallone, Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, John Wayne, etc. as actors who’ve worn lifts to appear taller than they are… allegedly, anyway.

Cavill’s weight probably changes from role to role, but his walking-around weight is irrelevant. He has a Reacher-perfect frame, build, and overall physique.

 

Henry Cavill

 

Cavill is almost too pretty, but he escapes that deal-breaker with his strong and coarse facial bone structure. He has a face that would lend itself well to any practical-effect make-up needed to uglify him to Reacher standards. He dirties up pretty well, too.

 

Henry Cavill

 

There are details. Reacher’s nose has been described in comparison to a smashed-in pancake, or something to that effect. Cavill can achieve such a look. He has prominent brow ridges that add to his Reacher-appropriate, unrefined appearance.

 

Henry Cavill

 

Outfit Cavill with blue contact lenses. Cut his hair short and bleach it as blond as it is in The Witcher. 

We should also consider that Henry Cavill tends to play heroic and stoic ultra-macho guys, so he has plenty of Reacher-demeanor experience, too.

 

Henry Cavill as Superman. Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in “The Witcher.”

 

Henry Cavill has everything it takes to play Reacher. He’s an actor with a workable Reacher face, of a workable Reacher height. He has an ideal physique and a deep, powerful voice. He can be scary just standing there. He captures Reacher’s demeanor and character traits and “says nothing” better than anyone I’ve seen. In the above-posted video, you’ll note that Cavill can match his facial expression to the context of each “hmm” he utters.

As Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher, Cavill exudes Reacher’s essence to where both Callaghan and I were prompted to remark on it.

Not to mention that Henry Cavill can act, too. No need to go looking for someone who’s exactly 6′,5″ and less of an actor!

Have I missed anything?

 

 

 

Update on The Crud. (+ a stunning video about a stunning lake.)

Bet you didn’t think I’d subject you to yet another post about my ridiculous pneumonia situation. I feel that I should provide updates, which as of today should have simply been “I’m over it.” The current status is that I’m almost over it. And hey, I’m feeling a little better. I’ll take it.

I had a therapy appointment at the V.A. this morning. While I was there, I stopped by my primary care doctor’s office on account of my coughing despite having finished my antibiotics and steroids. The nurse sent me upstairs for another chest X-ray, which revealed the pneumonia continuing to lurk in my lower left lung lobe. It’s lurking feebly, though. It’s not as opaque as before, not as critical. I’m not over it yet, but I’m definitely improving! Definitely in recovery mode.

After the nurse told me this, I informed her that I’m planning on going back to the gym for Body Pump this Saturday. She stared at me. I quickly re-worded my announcement to turn it into a question. Am I okay enough to go back to the gym this Saturday? After some hesitation, she allowed that I can go if I take it really easy and stop if I get too tired or feel pain in my tendons. (It turns out that the risk of tendon injury as a consequence of my particular antibiotic, Levofloxacin, is no joke, especially since I was taking Prednisone at the same time. It seems that people post-Levofloxacin can remain vulnerable to tendon injuries.) (The things you learn when you actually read the literature that comes with the medication, man.)

The doctor then ordered more stuff from the pharmacy, so I stopped there on my way out. Cough pearls and another Albuterol inhaler. I’m all set!

For today’s pic, I’ll share this selfie that I just took, even though it’s a little blurry. Apologies for that.

 

Tired, but BETTER. [28 January 2020]

 

Touch of fatigue aside, I’m feeling pretty okay.

OH! This is so random, but I also wanted to share with you a mini-documentary beautifully crafted by my favorite mortician. I’ve been fascinated by the Great Lakes since I visited Michigan and crossed over to Mackinac Island by ferry; I couldn’t believe the vastness of this body of water that was actually a lake. It was mind-blowing. All of this… is… fresh water?!

These lakes are legendary for a reason. Lake Superior is gorgeous and terrifying. A lake. Respect.

 

 

Also, I’ve always loved this song by Gordon Lightfoot, “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald.” Now I know the story behind it.

 

 

Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours? 

[::shivers::]

Until Thursday, my friends.

 

 

The Phoenix V.A. is awesome, Part 2.

Today, I’ve got an anecdote about the Phoenix V.A. Health Care System:

Last year, I took note as a gentleman roamed through the E.R. waiting room asking patients for their opinions of the Phoenix V.A. When a person stated that they’d had good experiences, he didn’t want to hear it. He moved on to his next target. It was amusing to watch him get more and more flustered as no veteran in the room had a bad word for the Phoenix V.A. We enthusiastically shared our approval of and appreciation for the Phoenix V.A., and our uninvited investigative reporter was left at a loss.

He was from Florida, if I’m remembering correctly. He was not a veteran.

It wasn’t like this guy happened to catch people in a good mood, either. No one is ever thrilled when they’re sitting in an E.R. waiting room, no matter what hospital they’re in!

Have I told this story before? How this guy wandered around needling veterans in his attempt to extract complaints about the Phoenix V.A., as it’s “one of the worst ones in the country,” as he put it?

I’m thinking of this now because I’m sitting here surrounded by things given to me at the V.A. last week… not at the pharmacy, but right there in the doctor’s office. In all my years of experience as a patient in privatized health care, I’ve never been to a doctor whose office handed out “Virus Kits” to patients with respiratory ailments during cold/flu season.

 

“Virus Kit” given to me at the Phoenix V.A. last week: lip balm; nasal spray; Ricola cough drops; hand sanitizer; surgical mask; and Kleenex

 

When I asked my friend for a writing prompt recently, she suggested telling of my V.A. adventures. They can be summed up thusly: I love the V.A., and I will defend it to the death. I’ve written about it before; click here if you’re new and curious.

The End.

p.s. Unrelated: I can’t wait to get better so I can run to the theater to watch Underwater.

p.p.s. Happy Friday Eve!

 

Sitting on my ass is hard work.

Pneumonia recovery still in progress over here. I have four more days of antibiotics, and I’m still coughing, though nowhere near as much as I was last week. I’ve been trying to just rest and do nothing, but of course I want to do everything… and during the day, no one is here to stop me.

Running Hank (our roomba, aka robot vacuum) in the kitchen/dining room the other day wasn’t as simple as that, because I wanted to dust and wipe down the counter-tops first, like I always do before I vacuum. It didn’t stop there, though, as I noticed that the drawers and cabinet doors could use a dusting, too. It’s easy and fast and takes almost no energy when you use a Swiffer wand, I reasoned.

I was tired after that, but some items on the counters needed to be rearranged, and it wouldn’t take more than ten minutes to do that, would it? (It did. But it was so satisfying!)

Then I noticed a spot of dried pasta water on the stove.

By the time I’d cleaned all of the appliances (because I couldn’t just do the stove), I was wiped out, even with lots of rest moments as I worked… but finally, I could let Hank loose to do the vacuuming.

All of this happened after I’d straightened up the living room, which isn’t even a big deal, either. None of this kind of stuff is a big deal until you’re not supposed to do it.

Every day has been like this. I scrubbed down my shower before I got into it last night, because it needed it. It’s just felt like forever since I’ve cleaned! Thing is, I feel like I can’t even work on my book if the house needs cleaning. I got some housework done over the weekend, which worked out because I had Callaghan here to help with carrying things (laundry) and moving furniture out of the way so Hank could vacuum after I’d dusted. I’m not used to asking for help with carrying things and moving stuff out of the way.

Tomorrow I’ll sort papers in my office and then file, recycle, and shred as necessary. Sit-down work.

Surprisingly, I’m still in high spirits. I can’t remember the last time I had to pull myself out of an extreme and prolonged depression abyss. I’m not sure why, but I’m grateful for it.

It’s been cozy times here with Nenette in my office. If she’s not curled up in her cat tree, she’s usually on the furniture with her glass of water. She loves to sit on the velvet panel I put there… she’s made it hers.

 

Kitty with her water! [21 January 2020]

That’s it for today’s updates, my friends. Until Thursday, then!

 

 

My immune system is stoned.

Let’s start with an anecdote! You’re going to love this one. A nurse on the phone last week asked me to confirm my age at the end of our conversation. I didn’t expect her to be surprised when I answered, but she was. She exclaimed, “Wow! You don’t sound 51 at all! I never would’ve guessed!” Haha PLOT TWIST, guys: You can “sound your age,” or not. I thought, well that’s a new one. Callaghan thought it was amusing, too.

Anyway, the current state of affairs on my end is that I still have the plague, but it’s a different plague now. I caught Callaghan’s cold at the end of December, right, then thought it was over, then seemed to relapse. My symptoms worsened and branched out over the weekend (I started coughing up bloody mucus, lost my appetite, got headachy, got the chills, got out of breath walking down the hallway). Long story short, I was diagnosed with pneumonia today. Now my ass is on bed-rest for 10 days.

I’m grateful that I was properly and quickly diagnosed (thanks to my amazing medical team at the V.A.). I’m just looking forward to going to the gym for the first time in 2020.  I’ve been told to avoid even cleaning the house, because the antibiotic I’m now taking – “the strongest one you can take without being in the hospital” – makes you prone to pulling a tendon, of all the weird side effects! Lifting weights is on the short-list of things you should not do to any degree during the 10-day antibiotic course. Not only that, but I’m contagious.

This brings me to today’s PSA: My fellow chemically immunocompromised friends, please take extra good care to avoid catching a virus. Plaquenil is effective in suppressing the immune system so it won’t attack you, and the drug continues to be effective for three months after you stop taking it. I just learned this today.

I stopped taking my Plaquenil a week before my gum-grafting surgery, but I needed to stop it three months ahead of the surgery. Sure enough, healing was slower than the doctor expected, and I needed an extra week before the stitches could be removed.

That was in November, and my immune system is still operating under the influence. My immune system is stoned. My immune system has been hanging out on a tropical beach all this time, and it wasn’t interested in fighting off the pneumonia that saw its opportunity to complicate my cold. Be SO careful, I mean, if you even think someone has a cold, do not touch them. Air hugs!

We had a cloudy day today that cast our home interior a beautiful, soft greenish-gray. Still, here’s the clearest of this morning’s badly lit, hazy selfies I took in front of the kitchen window. I think I look and feel less sick than I am, and that’s because I’m wearing makeup. I dislike putting it on, I dislike taking it off even more, but I have to admit that it’s good at tricking your mind into thinking you feel better than you do.

 

[16 January 2020]

 

Take care, everyone!!

 

 

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 5

I wanted to do this thing (you know the thing, if you’ve been here a while) where I take to Craigslist’s “Missed Connections” section to find interesting word choices and turns of phrase in the entries’ subject lines. I was also feeling in the mood for haiku tonight… so I did both. I found it necessary to break up some of the lines in order to fit the 5-7-5 syllable limit for the three lines of each haiku; aside from that and some added punctuation here and there, I can claim no credit for these little poems. The lines were written by strangers, simply plucked out and cobbled together by Yours Truly.
Enjoy!
Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 5
~~~
Where is she, the girl
with the galaxy tattoo
cozy at the bank?
~~~
Glendale glitters dawn.
We used to ride together –
gift of a lifetime –
~~~
You cut my hair. Still
can’t stop thinking about you.
Sweetwater, Sweetheart.
~~~
Breakfast! We had two
variations of the same
(WeOhweeOhwee)
~~~
Looking for you. You
(a girl) were driving on Wow,
driving to Vegas…
~~~
Missing you for her,
mutual casino friend.
“Miss our talks, Cupcake.”
~~~
Poker player, your
Obama phone was stolen.
The most frightful time.
~~~
Walked by you Tuesday.
I hope I see you again.
You liked my – I saw –
~~~

Mini life update, a New Year’s resolution, Australian wildfires, a weird dream.

I’m still sick, and today’s been the worst. It’s been one week and four days. Callaghan’s still trying to kick this virus, too, and he’s had it a week longer than I have! The same thing happened to him: just as he thought he was getting better, he woke up one day feeling full-blown sick again… even worse, in fact. This virus is the holiday gift that refuses to stop giving.

Still haven’t been back to the gym. (Last time I went was December 28.) Still would love to deep-clean my house. Despite virus-related set-backs, 2020’s off to a rockin’ start on account of the huge amounts of sleep I’ve been getting! I’m feeling upbeat and victorious at the same time that I’m blowing my nose and coughing up both lungs in my unclean house.

There are things I need and want to do, though. I have dry-cleaning to pick up, groceries to buy, friends to meet, a car to be washed; I need to hit a few second-hand stores before I can get my car washed, because I have a trunk filled with items I’d like to try to sell before I haul them off to the Goodwill. I’m behind on life, but still, I’m feeling good about life.

There’s no mail piled up anywhere, for one thing, and somehow that makes me feel like I have my shit together. Did I ever mention that my New Year’s resolution for 2019 was to get my shit together? I haven’t exactly managed this yet in the so-called big picture, but that’s okay. I don’t think everyone can stay on top of everything in their life every single day.

My resolution for 2020 is to focus less on myself and more on others. Family and friends. Veterans. Animals.

Things are good. All of my mail has been opened and dealt with. I know what I’m making for dinner tonight. Salem sleeps in her laundry room. I’m up to date on my banking. I’m free of pressing future concerns. Being sick, behind on housework and errands, and grounded from the gym (again!) are all just little inconveniences. I will get back on track, and next time my husband gets sick, I won’t kiss him until he’s well. Lesson learned.

Pretty sure it’s been weeks since I’ve seen the inside of a Target, which isn’t a terrible thing at all. Target deserves to be avoided as much as possible, for I am finally just annoyed with it. It has a way of shutting off my impulse-control, and not even in the way of impulse-shopping anymore! I mean, I’ll be in there, right, and suddenly I have to go to the bathroom and I just leave my cart somewhere and go, because I have to, even if I could actually hold it. Or it’ll occur to me that I’m hungry or thirsty, so I’ll grab an energy bar or a bottle of water to consume on the spot, even if I could actually wait.

I always feel kind of rude when I place an empty wrapper or water bottle into the cart. Thankfully, I’ve never had a cashier get mad about having to scan my garbage at the check-out.

People can be nice.

The world can be nice.

WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue is experiencing high volumes of traffic right now because the world is being so nice. Use Safari or Explorer when donating, they advise.

Two nights ago, I had a very clear dream in which the free world was ruled by a world government. I jotted it out by hand in note-form when I woke up:

Supreme Leader (w/Council – 5 people in total) of the world sitting at the center of a large sofa the shape of a half-moon, two council members on each side. Behind them is a gigantic bookcase built in from floor to lofty ceiling. The countries of the free world are stored as square or rectangular volumes in the bookcase in proportion to each other; the volume titled “U.S.” takes up almost a full column at the far right-end of the shelf, against the wall. The countries’ volumes are royal blue with their names embossed in gold. The bookcase is a dark, rich brown oak. The sofa is tan leather with a tufted back-rest. There are a few countries with unusual names, like “Measuring Line,” but recognizable countries are also there. When a country is pulled from the bookshelf, you see that it’s not a book, but a box, and when you lift its lid, a vaporous being/entity gives a signal or a vocal greeting, as in answering a door. The country I saw pulled from the shelf was “U.S.,” and the being inside greeted the opener with the utmost deference.

Just thought I’d share. It’s not often that I have a dream I remember so well, or in such detail.

I’ll close this post here before my sick ass can ramble any longer. Happy Friday Eve, all! Stay healthy.

 

 

 

 

Last “little things” loves of 2019! (December Favorites!)

Here we are at my final “favorite little things” post of 2019! Somehow, I found a lot to include on December’s list. Let’s jump right into the goods, eh?

 

1). Knives Out

 

 

I love going to the movies on my birthday. This year, I chose Knives Out, and it was a fabulous good time. A classic “whodunit” murder mystery, this film exemplifies outstanding film-making on every level. Daniel Craig with a Southern gentleman accent was a bit disconcerting at first, but it was a part of the fun! Daniel Craig, right? I hadn’t been aware of his gift for comedic timing, either. The entire cast was excellent, but I was particularly impressed with Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas. Highly recommend this one.

 

2). Reprisal (Hulu Original Series)

 

 

Hulu’s Reprisal left us immediately counting the days until S2 drops next year. This was one of those series that started with a slow burn, then fully spread and intensified until we were thoroughly captivated by the end. Reprisal is easily one of my favorite series of 2019.

 

3). The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (S3) (Amazon Prime Original Series)

 

 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel continues to be marvelous. I’m endlessly impressed with this entire production, and Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein are superb! Also, for me, as far as period pieces go, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel spectacularly fills the void left by Mad Men. Looking forward to S4!

 

4). You (S2) (Netflix Original Series)

 

 

I’m not sure where to begin with Netflix’ You, so let me just sum it up with my appreciation of how the writers took Joe’s shenanegans to another level in Season 2… and how the twist at the end is one of the most brilliant twists I’ve seen in a series. Like Reprisal, Callaghan and I were kind of “eh” at the start, but by episode 4, we were ALL IN. One aspect I particularly enjoyed this time was the added depth given to Joe’s complex psyche. Season 2 is deeper, crazier, more surprising, and just as outstanding as Season 1. You is a rare series in that I actually enjoyed its second season even more than its first.

 

5). Miyoko’s Un-Lox Your Dreams Vegan Cream Cheese. (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Miyoko’s Un-Lox Your Dreams Vegan Cream Cheese

 

INGREDIENTS: Organic Cashews, Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Cream, Sea Salt, Organic Seaweed, Vegetable Juice For Color, Spices, Cultures.

December started out as I was beginning to eat solid foods again. I felt that I had a lot of catching up to do, and I definitely had several pounds to re-gain after November’s post-oral-surgery menu. This may have biased me when I went to taste Miyoko’s “Un-Lox” vegan cream cheese flavor, but I’m pretty sure that I’d like it just as much under normal circumstances. I haven’t tried a Miyoko’s product that I didn’t like, after all.

 

6). World Cuisine Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas (Sea Salt). (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

World Cuisine Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas (Sea Salt)

 

INGREDIENTS: Organic Chickpeas, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola and/or Organic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Organic Rosemary Extract, Ascorbic Acid.

I’m still not biting into anything hard with my front teeth, but I started tossing crunchy snacks into my mouth again around the third week of December. The savory such food I went for was roasted, salted chickpeas. The first few bags I devoured were these from Saffron Road, and then Callaghan went ahead and got me a huge bag of whatever the brand is they have at Costco. Salted crunchy chickpeas are all the same, and they’re all delicious! They’re crunchy, but they’re not hard, corn-nut-level crunchy. I’ve been mixing these chickpeas with raw almonds for my afternoon nosh.

 

7). Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce. (Vegan and gluten-free)

 

Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce

 

INGREDIENTS: Coconut milk, water, green curry paste (shallot, lemon grass, garlic, green chili, galangal, water, salt, coriander seed, Thai lime peel, ginger, turmeric, white pepper, cumin, citric acid), cane sugar, rice bran oil, modified cornstarch, basil leaf, green chili, salt.

Trader Joe’s satisfied my recent cravings for curry with its prepared green curry simmering sauce. A typical fast, processed lunch I enjoyed in December consisted of Trader Joe’s frozen rice medley (red rice, brown rice, and barley, I think) with this sauce mixed into it. It was like a quick and dirty Thai risotto. I must’ve curried myself out for the time-being, though, because I haven’t been wanting it lately! I loved it and loved it and loved it, and now I’m done. No doubt I’ll cycle back around to it at some point, though.

 

8). NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil (True Beige Buff). (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil

 

This tinted moisturizer became my new ride-or-die foundation the second I tried it from the tester at Ulta. I wear the shade True Buff Beige, and it’s a perfect match. A little goes a long way when you apply it with your fingers! I use a pea-size dab on each side of my face, and that’s it. I don’t know what else to say about it, really. It just works for my skin, and it’s lovely and it feels amazing and it’s vegan and affordable and available in every drugstore, and, well, I’m going to cry if NYX ever discontinues it. That is all.

 

9). The Body Shop Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask

 

I said that I wasn’t going to go crazy on The Body Shop’s website this past Black Friday season, and I didn’t. I only purchased a few items, and I got them at astonishing prices. It had to be one of my proudest retail moments when I ordered $41.00 worth of stuff from The Body Shop and checked out at only $11.60! I had $19.50 worth of promotions, including a $5.00 coupon found by the Honey app, and I also used my birthday month $10.00 voucher. I love that my birthday month is also Black Friday/seasonal scent month! The Body Shop’s seasonal scents are my favorites, as you’ll see in the entry below.

Oh, but first, this mask, you guys. From the first time I used The Body Shop’s Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask, I knew that it was what my skin had been needing. It’d been months since I’d done a daytime mask of any kind. I’m so glad that I tried this one. Another new favorite-favorite, for sure.

 

10). The Body Shop Juicy Pear seasonal scent (body butter). (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

The Body Shop Juicy Pear (2019 seasonal scent) (body butter)

 

Juicy Pear is one of those seasonal/limited edition scents from The Body Shop that I wish would stick around, it’s so good. It doesn’t really smell like pears to me. It just smells divine. If only they’d keep it and make a spray fragrance of it….

 

11). Crystal Mineral Deodorant Roll-On (Vanilla Jasmine). (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

Crystal Mineral Deodorant Roll-On – Vanilla Jasmine

 

I ran out of deodorant and decided to try this Crystal roll-on. The Schmidts deodorant worked well for me, so I was surprised that this one worked even better. In fact, it works better than most non-natural deodorants I’ve used! The scent I chose is vanilla jasmine, but it smells herbal and crisp and kind of masculine to me, which I like in a deodorant.

 

12). Jason Powersmile Anti-Cavity and Whitening Gel. (Vegan and cruelty-free)

 

JASON Powersmile®
Anti-Cavity & Whitening Gel
Powerful Peppermint

 

Again, necessity gave me an excuse to try something new. I’m happy with everything this toothpaste has to offer, but my favorite thing has to be its sharp peppermint flavor. My teeth and mouth feel super clean and fresh after brushing with it, and again, a little goes a long way! A small dab on the toothbrush is enough.

 

So… that is IT for 2019! I hope your New Year is off to a wicked good start.

 

 

Ze plague, ze plague!

First post of 2020! There’s nothing to report here except that I’m down with the upper respiratory plague that Callaghan brought home from work. We’re both sick. He’s at the end of it, and I’m in the thick of it. We cancelled our New Year’s Eve plans. I cancelled other upcoming plans involving people, as well.

We all know this, but I have to say it, anyway: being sick with an airborne virus morally obligates us to stay away from others. It’s so simple! Just stay home. If you must go to work, at least wear a mask and/or stay out of other peoples’ offices, and please cough into the crook of your elbow. (If you’re the person who went to work sick and spent much of the day in my husband’s office, thus getting him sick, thus getting me sick, then yes, I’m looking at you.)

There’s a 50% chance that I’ll miss Body Pump on Saturday.

My spirits are high, though, and I don’t feel all-over lousy. I’m actually feeling okay despite some pretty nasty cold symptoms, as this particular virus doesn’t include fever, body aches, or headaches. I can feel a clear delineation between the half of me that’s sick and the half that isn’t… weirdly energetic from my feet all the way up to my lungs, with everything from there on up being woozy and congested. I want to take my lower body to the gym and leave my upper body at home.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for you this evening… basically just an update and a Public Service Reminder. I’m going to go eat something. Stay well, my friends! Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Avoid people you know or suspect to be ill. 

December Favorites post coming Tuesday!

 

 

“Less One Decision on the Eve of a New Year”

I don’t know about you, but it’s New Year’s Eve where I am. 2020! We’ve reached a new decade!

In the spirit of celebration and on this occasion of reflection, I have New Year’s greetings (delivered by Nenette) and an original poem, respectively.

 

 

Less One Decision on the Eve of a New Year

You looked to see if your reflection was chance.

The stillness was there –
you bent to take a drink.
Above the agitated circles of your vision
there was the sleek tube of scales
sliding near and you, the skeptic,

named this for your own doubting mind.
You said, Viper, return us as leaf-shadows
on tin awnings, crisp and certain,
or as the sky in rust, defined as the cracked
blood on the ground. Return us
as rain.

Such precision could cast us back in.
It could revolutionize everything.

~~~~~

May 2020 bring out the best in us all.

 

 

Not aging, but advancing in time. (Birthday Eve post!)

I’ll be 51 tomorrow, on 27 December. Generation X has crept into its 50’s, and our parents are feeling old because of it. I’m not, though.

I take a sort of vampiric pleasure in the notion that I’ve now been alive and roaming the earth for over half a century. It is so f*cking cool. Maybe I shouldn’t be posting this today with such glee, because I won’t actually be 51 until tomorrow, and, you know, knock on wood, but… eh. I’m in the mood to play with superstitious fire. (I’m tempted to throw in some expressions involving water and air to make a cliché set of the elements, but I’ll spare you.)

Wonders accumulate in experiences had by this point in time, if one is so lucky as to have survived this long. Life is funny: if you live long enough, you can “see it all” without having seen anything.

It’s staggering to think of how this planet has so much to offer, including countless commonplace, extraordinary sights I’d love to see, but will never. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to witness a galactic battle of whale vs squid in the dark depths of the ocean? Imagination plays at creator in such instances. I do see some terrestrial explorations in my future reality, though.

So far, the most eventful times of my life were compacted into the four years I spent in the Army, between the ages of 18-22. Those years gave me all the life experience extremes I could need in order to say that I’ve seen a thing or two. When those years were over, I restarted civilian life from age zero. That was how it felt. In some sense, it feels as though I never fully transitioned back.

A civilian rebirth in 1991 makes me 28; since I’m again a late bloomer, even younger than that. I was reborn feeling old, yet I don’t feel “old.” (I make stupid life mistakes like I was born yesterday, so maybe I’m a small child.) I don’t feel that I’ve ever grown up. I’ve stopped expecting that I will. You have to want to do something before you can do it, right? Anyone can grow up if they want to. The desire to grow up has yet to visit me.

I personally think that it’s more important to evolve than to grow up. I’ve felt the process of evolving too keenly at times, but I have no complaints.

I’m still trying to learn from my mistakes, though. I’ve learned a lot from a lot, but “mistakes” has been a bitch of a teacher. (Either that, or I’ve been a bad student, which is probably more the case.)

Forgive me this ruminating. I don’t mean to sound so serious! My birthday being tomorrow means that we’ve arrived at the end of the year, which makes me reflective on an occasion that already asks for reflection. Superficially speaking, I’m just a Gen X-er advancing in time, a Capricorn with an Aries moon walking around in the same not-granny panties, trying to figure out how I want to wear my hair, aspiring to make it to the gym more often than I do, continuing to avoid cosmetic treatments and procedures, and vowing to open the mail every day. 

Here’s my day-before birthday selfie, taken this morning (untouched/unfiltered, as usual… not to brag, but just to say as a birthday pic disclaimer):

 

[26 December 2019, the final day of my 50th year!]

Thank you for reading this far, as always. Until New Year’s Eve, then!

 

 

 

Merry Christmas! (Greetings + cookie recipe)

This may be early, late, or irrelevant to you or to where you are in the world, but for what it’s worth: Happy Christmas Eve!

 

 

(#christmasapp)

I made gingerbread cookies for a gathering on Saturday, and the friend I met for lunch the next day got some, too. Of course I had to post the recipe when it was requested! I forgot to take a pic before the cookies disappeared at my house, but Caroline took one at hers and kindly sent it over. It’s helpful to have a pic to go with a recipe, right?

 

Honey’s Ginger Snaps

 

I’ve been making Honey’s Ginger Snaps for over 30 years. They were a part of a holiday treat spread at someone’s house, and my mom knew the person who brought them, and I asked her to ask for the recipe, AND I modified the recipe over the decades. Originally, the recipe asks for 2 teaspoons each of all the spices (ground cloves, ginger, and cinnamon), and 4 tablespoons of molasses. I cut the cloves and ginger down to 1 teaspoon each, and I use 3 tablespoons of molasses instead of 4. (The original recipe also says that you can use Karo syrup rather than molasses, but I’ve never made them with Karo.) You can adjust the spice levels to your own taste, as I did.

I also modified the recipe to make it unrefined and vegan: I use whole wheat flour rather than white, Earth Balance buttery spread rather than butter (the original recipes asks for either margarine or butter), and a plant-based egg replacer to equal 1 egg rather than an actual egg.

HONEY’S GINGER SNAPS

Sift together:

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon

Cream together:

  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance buttery spread, softened (or butter/margarine of choice)*
  • 1 cup sweetener of choice
  • Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer = 1 egg
  • 3 Tbs molasses

Instructions

[Preheat oven to 325F]

–Mix the sifted dry ingredients into the larger bowl of creamed ingredients. Chill dough overnight.

–Use a teaspoon to scoop the dough and form into small round balls; roll in sugar, cake decorations, candy sprinkles, etc.

–Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes**

~~~~~

*If you use butter, go with UNSALTED
**I bake mine for the minimum 10 minutes, so they come out soft. If you want your ginger snaps to be snappy, bake them for longer!

~~~~~

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

 

 

You guys are magic. (Update: Salem is back in her room!)

At least one of you who read my last post sent prayers and blessings to Salem, because that same night, our feral furbaby returned to her laundry room and slept in her bed!

The morning after I wrote about Salem not sleeping here anymore on these cold nights yesterday morning Callaghan saw her emerge through the laundry room cat door before he went out to feed her breakfast. An hour later, I checked Salem’s bed and found her fleecy cream blanket properly packed down into a round cat shape, lined sparsely with black fur, and speckled with bits of leaves and dirt. Salem!

She slept here that night, and she slept here last night, too, and… she’s just back. I don’t know how or why, but she decided to come back the night I wrote about it.

Thank you.

There’s something about this blog space, too, I think. It’s kind of like magic how I’ll lament something here, and then the thing will fix itself… and I mean the silliest things, too. I’m thinking of the time I wrote about how doing dishes grossed me out to where I couldn’t bring myself to do them, and I was happy drying/unloading/putting them away. I’ve been doing dishes ever since! It was as if writing about how I hated it reversed the hating it into not minding it. My anti-dishwashing tongue-in-cheek rant was invalid almost immediately after I posted it.

And Salem came back to sleep in her laundry room/bed immediately after I posted about that.

And I’m so relieved and grateful.

 

[Pic from 11 December 2019]

Happy Friday Eve, all!

 

 

The sad song of Salem. (Feral cat woes/cat mom FAIL.)

There’s a special kind of angst that comes from failing to protect a being who needs protection. I never thought I’d sit here sharing this feeling with you, but it’s been bothering me so much lately that I had little else on my mind when I sat down here to talk to you guys today.

Salem, our feral cat, used to sleep in our laundry room, which is an outdoor room. She would sleep and lounge and stretch and luxuriate in the bed I made for her, a pile of carefully folded towels and layers of cozy blankets beneath a little table set up against a wall, with a huge, snuggly blanket folded in half and wrapped around the whole thing, all plush and warm. She loved it. Callaghan and I would watch her through the security camera mounted on the opposite wall, and we saw how much she loved it.

Then I had to go and make it “better.”

Nighttime temperatures have been dropping into the low 40’s, so I decided to put in a pet heating pad. Instead of making her more comfortable, it scared her away. She hasn’t slept in her laundry room since. It’s been so cold here in the desert; the whole point of this specially-designed-for-dogs-and-cats heating pad (which has very good reviews from dog and cat parents on Amazon) was to keep her bed at body temperature during these colder nights.

The problem? The pet heating pad works well, but it has a very strong industrial/chemical odor. Our outdoor furbaby’s encyclopedia of scents can’t explain that the odor belongs to a weird yet harmless inanimate object. Not to mention, it’s just an unpleasant, offensive scent. She hates it. She’s afraid of it. And I realized it after it was too late.

Before the noxious heating pad, Salem’s biggest laundry room threat was other stray cats. There’s this one male cat in particular who can’t help but be a male cat, spraying and/or urinating on her bedding to mark it as his. We’ve been cycling through this pattern the same way we did last winter: tomcat contaminates Salem’s bed, Salem is duly deterred, I go in with my attuned olfactory sense and my black light, find the source of the odor, and do what needs to be done (e.g. laundry) to restore her perfect sleeping conditions. Salem comes back to sleep in her bed again. She always comes back!

She hasn’t come back since the pet heating pad entered the picture, though. Every morning I go into the laundry room hoping to see signs of Salem on the cream-colored blankets – black fur, bits of leaves and dirt – and nothing.

Adding to the misfortune of it all was the fact that it took me a few days to figure it out. Salem’s blankets were saturated with this awful odor! I quickly bore away the pet heating pad and laundered her bedding and put it back together, but Salem had already decided that the odor belonged to an unidentifiable and dangerous beast. She always won the territory war with the male cat, but she lost the war with the heating pad… and I was the one who brought in the vile foe and lined her bed with it.

I’m so mad at myself. When I found her bed unslept-in yet again this morning, my anger at myself drove me to rage-clean the house.

The nights are getting colder and colder, and Salem isn’t sleeping in her bed, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

She still considers our yard to be her yard, though, and that’s good. She comes and goes during the day, hanging out in her favorite spots, eating her meals and snacks on the patio, and drinking from her “watering hole” near Geronimo’s burrow. Sometimes, in the evening, I sit in the dining room and watch her through the sliding-glass door. We connect and bond with eyeblink-kisses. Then the sun sets, and she goes away.

She seems sad. Maybe it’s just me seeing that through the lens of guilt, but I’m sure that she is sad that she can’t sleep in her cozy bed anymore.

 

Salem through the glass door. [16 December 2019]

Thank you for listening to my tale of woe. I’ll certainly come back here all kinds of elated if she starts sleeping in her laundry room again!

 

 

Where am I in the writing-verse? (Writing updates!)

It’s been months and months and months since I last wrote about my writing life. I’m working on my novel again, so I’m back with an update.* You might remember – or maybe you weren’t aware, if you’re new here – that I completed my first novel in the summer of 2018. Now I’m burrowing back into the manuscript to work on revisions.

I don’t have an agent (yet!**), but an agent is guiding me, in a sense. Two days after I queried her, she asked for the complete manuscript. Three days after I sent it, she’d read the entire thing, and she replied with a gorgeous, long email. She loves the novel, but she doesn’t think it’s quite ready for a publisher. She discussed in detail three specific aspects of the manuscript that could be addressed. She then concluded, “I’d welcome an opportunity to read the manuscript again” (should I decide to revise it).

I took this as an invitation, and I accepted it, which brings me to today’s writing update: I’m revising my manuscript so that I can resubmit it to this agent. Specifically, I’m working on giving more space to supporting characters, adjusting the pacing, and cutting back some of the passages by 20-30%.

Her praise, suggestions, and invitation to resubmit in no way guarantees that she’ll offer me representation after reading my revised manuscript, I know… but there’s no question that I’ll do it! I’m thankful that she’s taken the time that she has with my novel, especially considering literary agents’ overwhelming workloads. To have revision suggestions from such high authority is invaluable. Not only is it encouraging, but it’s an opportunity for growth and experience. I’m taking this on with zero attachment to outcome.

*I can’t say that I’ll be posting regular writing updates throughout this process, though I might. We’ll see!

**If this agent doesn’t take me on, then another one will, perhaps.

 

[12 December 2019]

Photo backstory + apology: I was taking selfies when Callaghan came around the corner and started talking to me. I looked over at him a second before I took this shot. It turned out to be the only pic wherein the framed “roses” painting in the background is even slightly straight, and so this is the one I chose to go here. I’m sorry that I’m not looking at the camera. Also, you’re welcome for picking a selfie that won’t make you seasick, because in all of the others, that picture on the wall behind me made the room look like the inside of a sinking ship.

Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

CELESTIAL ELECTROJUNGLE. (Office decor updates, redux.)

I wound up having to re-decorate my office barely two months after I finished my Haunted Cathedral theme. It was fun while it lasted, as they say.

What happened? My house had been literally pulled apart and scattered for over six months, and it was finally time to deal with the fall-out. (I opted to keep our major home renovation out of my blog, because it went on and on and on starting when the A/C debacle ended in May. Among other reasons, I didn’t want this to turn into a HOME RENOVATION blog. You already had to sit through my posts about the A/C.)

After ignoring the mess for so long, I finally jostled myself awake from my stupor of resistance and willful procrastination. Being grounded post-surgery left me with no more excuses. Plus, I didn’t like having a room piled high with stuff. I wanted my guest bedroom back!

That’s right – despite minimalizing more during the renovation, we still had things piled up in the guest bedroom. We had furniture and rugs; bedding and lamps; pictures and candles; cushions and clocks and wastebaskets; cat toys and kitchen items; tools and leftover parts; old fixtures and just, I don’t know, odds and ends of all kinds… because in addition to our own stuff, we had renovation leftovers and debris. There were items to be trashed. There were items to be returned to Home Depot. We had yet more things for the Goodwill. Some of the stuff, we gave away. Some of it went into the alley for college students to scavenge.

And inevitably, I guess, some of it ended up in my office, where it disrupted the Haunted Cathedral theme I’d just completed. Truth be told, I felt kind of selfish having this perfectly decorated room all to myself while there were things that had nowhere to go. All the furniture-rearranging and storage space reorganizing (four closets!) I did wasn’t enough.

There was no use in fighting it. Ultimately, though, chaos became a catalyst as creative energy took over and inspired me in the direction of a new vibe. I got into it!

Revolving around the black moon tapestry that used to be in our bedroom, the vibe in my office turned out to be celestial and futuristic, and the space homey rather than merely decorated. Where office v1 was plants-only/no decor, and office v2  was Haunted Cathedral/themed decor, this new version is simply an agglomeration of stuff over which I threw some blue string lights; I took the jumble of miscellany and tried to shape it into something that proclaims I meant to do this. The string lights and the new tapestry above my desk are my only new acquisitions. They help to make sense of it all.

By day:

 

Office by day

(The moon tapestry used to be in our bedroom. It came down when we painted the whole house, and we never put it back up. It inspired my new vision for this space.)

 

water

(Nenette has to have her glass of water at all times. ~I’m trying hard to save Jerome there on the left side of the bookshelf. It’s not looking good. Sad face.)

 

tapestry

(Here’s my new tapestry, one of the two things I bought… this, and the string lights.)

 

desk

 

Capricorn

(These are the same flowers I had in my Haunted Cathedral theme.)

 

calendar

(I’m already in January. I didn’t want to wait to hang up the calendar, which was a gift from Callaghan.)

 

cat tree

(I accidentally bought a roll of string lights 10 miles long. The bulk of the roll ended up in the Buddha’s lap.)

 

“Mushroom”

 

closet

(The dress is hanging there temporarily. I wore it to a party last weekend, and I’ll wear it to another party this weekend. Then it will go back into the closet.)

 

tee

(Still, “No one is perfect.” This tee is still where it was, only it’s behind the dress at the moment. Grendel the Gargoyle also remains.)

 

salt

(I’m finding it easier to capture Nenette in this new office arrangement.)

 

paws

 

At dusk:

 

Office at dusk

(As the day darkens, you can see my laughable attempt at shaping the lights into a Capricorn symbol. It’s close enough, though. ~The brown patches on the cream rug are made of Nenette’s bronze fur. She loves to sleep on this rug. I didn’t lint-roll it for these pics. This is real life.)

 

shadow

 

“Mushroom”

 

Flamingo

(Flamingo the tree, that is.)

 

lamps

(Office in the front, club in the back!)

 

At night:

 

Office at night

 

nap

(She sleeps on all of the rugs, actually.)

 

stars

(I love the combination of the pink salt lamp and the blue lights. They create a purple light.)

 

ElectroJungle

(Plant family!)

 

“Mushroom”

 

mirror

(The antique mirror leans in the corner behind Flamingo, my tree. It’s a place of honor.)

 

mirror

 

Canterbury Cathedral

(The Haunted Cathedral isn’t going anywhere. It’s staying right where it’s been from Day 1).

 

Nenette

 

And there you have it.

Incidentally, the completion of this project happens to coincide with the revision phase of my novel, which I’ll tell you about in a near-future “writing updates” post.

I hope you enjoyed this unexpected office updates post! Thanks for sticking around, always.

 

 

Back at Body Pump? Cardio re-set? Starting zumba?! (Gym updates!)

This week was rad, because I WENT BACK TO THE GYM.

Ahem.

I hadn’t seen the inside of a gym since before Halloween, which is crazy. I went to Body Pump on Monday, and again yesterday, and I already feel 100% better. It’s incredible how working out transforms my entire being for the positive.

Since we’re here, let’s do a quick “2019 workout year in review”:

The year’s shenanegans included random life interruptions such as medical appointments, people coming to do work on the house, and out-of-town commitments, but it was due to big events starting at the end of July that I’ve stayed home from the gym more this year than any year since 2013. Since I wounded my ankle on July 25, I’ve only gone to the gym 25 times until this week.

It was the ankle incident (there following an extended period of healing and not being able to wear shoes), and surgery (there following an extended period of healing and not being able to eat). In between, I had two severe 5-8 day autoimmune flares three weeks apart.

We’ve arrived at December, and there are eight Body Pump days left between now and Christmas. I plan to hit all of them and get back into cardio. Unbelievably, I haven’t done any cardio at all in over six months!

My gym will open two new locations in the next six weeks; between them, I’m hoping to find a morning BODY COMBAT class I can attend. Meanwhile, I’m going to start walking. I can wear shoes other than high-tops now, so I need to get my ass moving to make up for lost time. A body needs cardio. It’s mandatory.

It was just such a relief to return to Body Pump this week. It was interesting, too: I came back to more changes. I found myself getting emotional with nostalgia during yesterday’s class when the instructor took us through a mix of old, old tracks. Everything is different now, going to a new gym and attending three different locations and doing Body Pump classes with all new instructors, and I miss the old days of Pump when I first started… but things do change.

All I can say is that a person is lucky to have a gym friend turned very cool friend-friend who’s been a constant since BODY COMBAT DAY 1 waaay back. She’s the one who convinced me to start Body Pump after I said I’d NEVER. I think I might finally join her at zumba (another thing I’ve insisted I’d NEVER). You’ll know if I’m there. I’ll be the one in the back flailing around like an inflatable air tube man advertising a car dealership.

 

Me at my future first zumba class.

 

Okay, bye!