Callaghan and the prism of Luc Besson.

Being with Callaghan has taught me to see things in new ways. Like action flicks. If not for him, I’d never think to ask myself: “How bad is this movie on a Luc Besson scale of 1-10?”

As a French person, he’s sensitive to Luc Besson. Or, should I say, he’s not sensitive so much as he’s annoyed by Luc Besson.

I listen for his comments when we’re watching action movies. If he starts grumbling about Luc Besson, I know that he’s annoyed. That’s because Luc Besson is the yardstick Callaghan uses to measure his opinion of the movie’s worth, even if Luc Besson had nothing to do with the movie.

This morning, I asked him to summarize his feelings about Luc Besson. I actually recorded his answer. Verbatim:

“Hmm. Luc Besson. Alors. His movies are too easy. I mean, the stories. The resolution of the problems. It’s always, like, ‘Oh! Everything’s fine now. She turned into an intergalactic f*cking cloud of black matter, so everything’s fine’.”

Some comments I’ve heard from him while watching action flicks, or while talking about them:

10). “Putain, the person who did this movie was influenced by Luc Besson.”

9). “This could’ve been a great movie, but Luc Besson.”

8). “The CGI is cheesy. It’s Luc Besson.”

7). “Luc Besson outdid himself with Valerian!! I had to stop after a half-hour. It was bad, it was SO BAD, it was the quintessential Luc Besson movie.” (Yes, Callaghan knows the word “quintessential.” No, I wasn’t with him when he watched Valerian. He shared this opinion with me afterward.)

6). “Ugh, this movie has that Luc Besson vibe.”

5). “Taxi was ridiculous, and Luc Besson made three of that!!”

4). “You can tell Luc Besson was involved in this.”

3). “Dobermann was good because it wasn’t Luc Besson. If it was Luc Besson doing the same movie, it would be ridiculous.”

2). “The Family. That was a stupid movie. Luc Besson.”

And his #1 general comment, applicable to any action flick that annoys him:

“ET VOILA. LUC BESSON.”

Sidenote: This post is rather a tribute to Luc Besson. Love him or not, he’s an iconic filmmaker. Two of his films are on my list of all-time favorites: The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and La Femme Nikita (1990). Callaghan likes those movies, too, as well as The Fifth Element.

 

Frosty the Rude Man.

Callaghan was outraged when he read our friend Nick’s FB post the other night. I could tell that something was wrong, because I could see him fuming as he stared at his phone.

He yelled, “Did you see what Nick posted on FB? THIS is what happens when you try to be nice to people now!!!”

Thinking back, I remembered that Nick had posted a joke about Frosty the Snowman earlier in the day.

Before I could say anything, Callaghan ranted: “Seriously! WHAT is wrong with people?!!”

I struggled to hold back a snort. “Uh… Baby, no… read the whole post.”

“I AM reading the post!!!”

I try not to laugh when his English as a Second Language gets in the way of his understanding, or being understood. In this case, though, his lack of understanding came not from a language barrier, but from a cultural one. Callaghan wasn’t familiar with “Frosty the Snowman.”

“It’s ridiculous what this guy did,” he said with great indignation. “HE PEED ON NICK’S FLOOR!!!”

I lost it. “Baby. It’s a joke. The ‘guy’ is a snowman.”

“What?” He stared at the spectacle of me cracking up while he sat on the couch seething with fury on Nick’s behalf.

“Yes, the ‘guy’ they brought in was a snowman!”

He read the post again. “Oh. He was NAKED except for a scarf. I get it now.”

When I stopped laughing, I reassured him. He didn’t get the joke because he was never a child in America, I said. I quoted the pertinent “Frosty the Snowman” lyrics:

Frosty the snowman was a jolly happy soul/With a corncob pipe and a button nose/And two eyes made out of coal

Thus, Callaghan learned another little piece of Americana.

Here’s the joke in question:

Yesterday it was so cold out that we took a man into our home out of the kindness of our hearts. We felt so sorry for him. Poor thing was trembling out in the cold. But this morning he had just vanished. Not a word … Not even a goodbye or a thank you for sheltering him !!!
The last straw ?!?! When I realized he had peed all over the living room floor !!! That’s the thanks I get for being good to people ?!?!?!
Now I’m going to warn my friends to watch out for this man !!! He is heavy set & wearing nothing but a scarf. He also has a corn cob pipe, a button nose & 2 eyes made out of coal !!! Don’t bring him into your house !!! What a huge mess he made on the floor !!!

One thing about the holidays: they can make it extra fun to be with a European who came to the States as an adult.

Sweet nothings.

Things that make me sleepy: being tired (duh); wearing my retainers (weird); being under some kind of cover(s) up to my upper body, if not all the way up to my neck… meaning, my lower body has to be covered. Especially my feet.

If my feet aren’t covered, I feel exposed. Not scared, just not right somehow. This phenomenon of perception is common amongst us, I know. It comes from childhood, maybe from the “monsters under the bed” phase. Not sure. But as far as I’m concerned, “monsters under the bed” is the most amusing of the theories… that, or, “the boogeyman.”

(In all honesty, I don’t remember whether I actually had a “monsters under the bed” or “the boogeyman” phase.)

So if I’m in bed snuggling with Callaghan and my legs are draped over his lap at an angle such that my right foot is sticking out of the covers on his side AND I’m not sleepy, but he is, then any attempt at conversation I strike up about the boogeyman goes awry.

Our “sweet nothings” conversations can easily go something like last night’s:

“My foot is sticking out of the covers. The boogeyman is going to get it,” I said.

“Poor boogeyman.”

I start laughing. He doesn’t, as he’s mostly asleep. But I continue on, because I’m having fun being entertained at his expense. I want to see what he says next.

“What? Are my feet that gross?”

“ALL feet are gross.” (He has a foot aversion.)

“So you’re not a foot guy?” (Knowing full well that he’s not.)

“No, I’m not afraid to die.”

“I didn’t ask if you were afraid to die. I said you aren’t a foot guy…”

“It’s all about the foot.”

“It’s all about the foot?”

“It’s all about the foot.”

This morning, he had no recollection of this conversation. I’ve got it word-for-word, though… because immediately afterward, I got up and sat down here to write it out. And that, my friends, is the danger of living with a writer. Anything you say can or will end up in a blog post.

By the way, some of you are pushing it, even if you don’t live with me. You know who you are.

That concludes this ridiculous post.

 

Bright morning, blue wash. (12 July 2017)

 

“The End!”

Incidentally, Callaghan has no idea that I’m writing this. He’ll read it later. That will start a whole new conversation. See how that works? haha!

Scrabble, Callaghan edition. (+ a favorite vintage commercial!)

Callaghan and I started playing Scrabble last week. Have you ever played Scrabble with an English as a Second Language (ESL) person?

It’s been fun! It’s been interesting and instructive, and it’s a great way for a non-native speaker to learn how to spell words in whatever version of Scrabble you’re playing. (I would love to have a French version.)

For instance, Callaghan’s first move was “ew,” which, according to Merriam-Webster’s (MW) Scrabble dictionary, isn’t playable. “Maybe because it’s an exclamation,” I speculated. He replied that “ew” is NOT an exclamation. It’s a female sheep. See? Now he knows how to spell “ewe.”

Then I put down “pantie,” which he challenged on the grounds that it ends with a ‘y’. MW said that both spellings were correct.

MW’s Scrabble dictionary is a great resource. We pulled it up on Callaghan’s phone so he could have it at his fingertips. He didn’t like that “pantie” came up on the page when he opened it from his bookmark, but that was easily fixed. He deleted the bookmark, entered a new word in the search field, and re-bookmarked it.

Now his dictionary opens up with “igottaewe.”

“Because I learned that a female sheep is a ‘ewe’,” he said, knowing that I was going to ask. “It’s generic.”

Of course!

We decided that we’ll disregard the challenge rule; we’ll both be able to consult our MW Scrabble dictionaries while playing.

The last time we played was Sunday, and he won.

 

The game I lost!

 

On a completely different awesome note, I was thrilled when a reader found this commercial and sent it to me a few days ago. Some of you may remember that I’d been looking for that one Charleston Chew commercial from the 70’s. Thanks to Dirk, here it is!

 

 

Callaghan thinks it’s hilarious, too… even more than I do, in fact. Because he’s French.

 

A little levity, literally. (Height doesn’t work that way!)

If we’re friends on Facebook, you might already know that I went to the doctor recently and found out that I’d lost over an inch in height. Almost two inches, actually.

My whole worldview was shattered.

I’d gone to my mid-day appointment and stepped onto the height-measuring apparatus without thinking about it, because I had no reason to. There was no suspense. My height’s never changed: I’m 65 inches tall. That’s 5′,5″.

But the guy in the blue scrubs said, “Looks like you’re 5′,3″ and just about…” He looked closer at the number lines. “A quarter.”

I shook my head in surprise. “No, I’m 5′,5″.”

“Sorry. It says 5′,3” and a maybe a quarter.”

“There must be something wrong with it,” I said, referring to the apparatus. “I’ve always been 5′,5″.”

He chuckled. “Okay. Here… let’s try it one more time.”

I stepped onto the apparatus again (is there a name for that thing?) and stood as tall as I could.

“Five three and a quarter,” he said. “For sure.”

I thought, This is fake news. 

“Everyone loses height as they age, I’m afraid,” he said, still grinning and chuckling.

I stalked after him to the examination room. His cheerfulness was out of line. It could be that his height-measuring apparatus needed to be recalibrated, but he wasn’t questioning it!

I thought, how could I lose almost two inches?  I was measured at the V.A. – where I usually go – just weeks ago, and their result was the same as always: 65 inches. 5′,5″.

It wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it was wrong.

Later, a friend told me on Facebook that most people tend to measure, on average, half an inch shorter during the day, then spring back to their normal height overnight while they sleep. My appointment had been in the middle of the day, so I thought, that could be it. But still! Almost two inches?

I asked Callaghan to measure me first thing the morning. The result was exactly 65 inches, as it should be. Ha! Then he measured me again in the afternoon, and GUESS WHAT. Still 65 inches. Ha! Ha! Not only am I 65 inches tall, but I’m 65 inches tall all day. My driver’s license is still correct: 5′-05″.

 

65 inches.

 

“His apparatus does need to be recalibrated,” I said to Callaghan. I was annoyed. “The guy was totally condescending. He didn’t even consider that his equipment might be faulty. He probably just thought, ‘She’s old, so she’s shrinking, and I’m young, and I’m wearing blue scrubs, so I’m right, and I’m not going to listen to her, ha ha ha’.”

How would this be characterized in the parlance of our times? Did he mansplain my own height to me, or did he youngsplain it? (If he -splained anything by way of not questioning the apparatus.)

“It’s true, two inches is too big of a difference, especially all at once. It doesn’t matter anyway, though,” Callaghan said. “He’s going to die of a moltnoma!!”

“What’s a moltnoma?”

“I can’t believe you still don’t know what a moltnoma is. Over the last seven years you’ve asked me five times what is a moltnoma, and you never remember it when I say that someone will die of it.”

“I don’t know why I can’t remember it. So what is a moltnoma?”

“It’s a county in Portland, Oregon.”

Typical Callaghan.

“…when I was working in California, we worked with this person who lived in Portland,” he explained. “And then I learned that the county was “moltnoma.” That’s where Portland is.”

I was already cracking up when he concluded, “So I was like, it sounds like a disease like “melanoma” so now I just say that someone will die of a moltnoma as a general cause of death.”

I looked it up. “Multnomah County.” Cool.

Anyway, I’m going back to that doctor on Wednesday, and I’m going to inform the guy in the blue scrubs that his machine is off. People probably do shrink a little over time as they age, but I’m not there yet, and I’m probably not going to lose almost two inches all at once, either. Ha.

It’s Callaghan’s Birthday!

My birthday two months ago happened to fall on a blog Friday, so I felt I should address it. I said that I was 48 and still not wearing granny panties. Today, two months later and also on a blog Friday, it’s Callaghan’s birthday, so it’s only fair to report that he’s 47 and not wearing granny panties yet, either.

“What would your birthday reflection be as you turn a year older?” I asked him at dinner last night. Because, you know. Deep thoughts about life.

He considered for a minute, then said, “I came to the United States because of my two wives.”

I’ve known him for almost eight years, so I didn’t blink an eye.

“The first time I came to live in the States, it was because I married Magali,” he went on, speaking of his first wife. “The second time, it was because I married you. If I never married you guys, I never would’ve come to the United States. I would still be in France.”

I said, “You were a Russian mail-order bride.”

– because I was thinking of one of my co-workers from 10 years ago. The guy who got himself fired because he spent work hours shopping for Russian brides on his work computer, right out in the open in a common room. He met the woman through the online catalog, brought her over, married her, and then convinced our boss to re-hire him. He came back to work and his bride went to sell fancy perfume at Dillard’s. As far as I know, they’re still happily-ever-after. No green-card marriage there!

That’s one of my favorite love stories.

But my very favorite love story is ours. And today is the day that Callaghan can stop telling people that he’s two years younger than me. He’s only 14 months younger, and now you can see that on paper.

I went to meet him at his workplace yesterday. Before we went to lunch, I took some pics of him with a couple of bikes he’d recently finished. Here’s one:

 

Callaghan at work (with the Triumph Trophy SE he recently finished)

Callaghan at work (with the Triumph Trophy SE he recently finished)

 

Then we went to dinner later and we took this selfie with unfortunate lighting, which is the best kind of selfie:

 

Callaghan's birthday commemoration selfie. That probably sounds more formal than it is.

Callaghan’s birthday commemoration selfie. That probably sounds more formal than it is.

 

Happy Birthday to this crazy, hilarious, unpredictable, dreamy guy!

Callaghan is designing clowns and I don’t know what to do.

Heading into off-season at the amusement parks, Callaghan’s evenings of late have been filled with lots of freelance work. He hung onto a few of his European amusement park clients when he accepted his position as a motorcycle designer, because why not? It’s feast or famine in that industry. He’d only be swamped a few months out of the year.

Now that American Halloween hype has started to gain traction in France, French theme parks want a piece of it in a more major way. So they’ve asked Callaghan to design some clown attractions… because you can’t have spooky, ooky Halloween décor without clowns, of course. If there’s one thing the French have picked up on in their Halloween education, it’s that clowns are essential elements of the fear factor.

Even better, some of this Halloween-inspired design will remain a permanent fixture, so visitors can enjoy the park’s creepy side no matter when they go. Here’s Callaghan’s first design, a rough draft of a horror fun-house-type attraction (with mirrors inside):

 

Clown mirror house of horror (original design by Callaghan)

Clown mirror house of horror (original design by Callaghan)

 

You have to have clowns with wide open mouths as entrances, you know.

And there will be more. Oh yes. I’m already imagining waking up at night, shuffling into the kitchen for a glass of water, and noticing a dim screen-light casting vague shadows on the wall. I see that it’s coming from Callaghan’s office. I go in and find that his computer has turned itself on. The clown file is displayed, and it’s flickering.

Thanks, Parc St. Paul. And Festyland (You mean FESTY THE CLOWN-land, I said to Callaghan when he told me the park’s name), and thank you, Parc du Bocasse.

Here’s a draft of his Parc du Bocasse poster, featuring the bee mascot he’s been creating for years:

 

Buzzy (the bee) the Vampire (original art by Callaghan)

Buzzy (the bee) the Vampire (original art by Callaghan)

 

He loved my idea of designing a vampire version of the bee. Buzzy the Vampire is made of awesome because Callaghan’s art is kick-ass. It’s great no matter the subject. Even clowns.

Callaghan models the staggering height of summer fashion for the neighbors.

I believe I owe you an explanation for the teaser I left at the end of my last post.

The evening I found Callaghan in his underwear on the back patio, I’d gone to the gym solo, as he had to work an hour late. He would get home at 6:30-ish. I would return from the gym at around 7:00.

Right on time, I walked into the house with sweat plastering my t-shirt to my body, looking forward to jumping into the shower… but my usual announcement of Mommy is home! was met with unusual silence. Callaghan can be heard before he’s seen, and I didn’t hear any sign of him.

I looked around and spotted Nenette doing her evening cat thing of lounging sleepily, recently woken from her late afternoon nap. She wasn’t behaving at all like a cat whose Daddy was home.

Callaghan had taken his motorcycle to work that day, but before I went to the garage to see if it was there, I checked my phone. No new texts. I walked through the whole house. I didn’t find him.

Then I wandered back into the kitchen area, just as I heard a rapping on the back door leading from the kitchen to the backyard. I went to the door window and looked out onto the patio.

Callaghan was kicking back in the patio chair next to the door. He had his backpack with him, and he was wearing just socks and underwear. When he saw me, he started gesticulating and grinning like a crazy person.

The first thing that struck me was that he had chosen his Gaston LaGaffe socks that day. Gaston LaGaffe is a Belgian comic strip character whose surname means “The Blunder.”

 

Les chausettes de Gaston LaGaffe.

Les chausettes de Gaston LaGaffe.

 

The second thing that struck me was that Callaghan was doing something on his tablet, like it was normal to be engrossed in one’s iPad while wearing just socks and underwear – or should I call the whole ensemble blunderwear – on the back patio.

The third thing I realized was that he was locked out, but I was already laughing, so it was too late to feel profound sympathy. (I do feel profound sympathy for blunderwear-wearing-Callaghan now that I’ve gotten the amusement of the spectacle out of my system.)

Something clattered to the ground when I unlocked the door and pushed it open. It was the screen for the door window, all crumpled up. He’d tried to break into the house.

“I forgot my house key, ” he said.

“Oh no! Poor Baby!” I said, laughing harder.

“I hosed off the top of my head to stay cool,” said my bald husband. It had gotten up to 110 degrees that days. “I drank from the hose, too.”

“At least we know that someone would have to make a real effort to break in,” I said, perversely triumphing in this discovery.

Fortunately, he’d only been locked out for a half-hour. I’m pretty sure some of the second-floor residents of the apartment building behind our house got an eyeful of him in his socks and his unmentionables.

(By the way, have you ever wondered why the term “unmentionables” is used almost exclusively for women’s underwear, while it’s fine to “mention” men’s?)

The moral of this story is “have a spare key to your house hidden somewhere outside.” Duh.

“That would never happen in France.”

One of our most frequently used mantras is “That would never happen in France.” We invoke these enchanting words whenever we have a retail transaction/customer service experience that’s particularly brilliant. And every time it happens, Callaghan says, “You should totally write about this in your blog. ‘Things that would never happen in France’.”

These situations “that would never happen in France” occur so frequently, I’d never remember all 100+ of them. I’m finally getting around to relaying a few anecdotes here, because it happened again recently, and Callaghan asked for this post again.

(This post should actually be in French, since Callaghan wanted me to write it for his French friends. Demande-lui et il te dira.)

Below, I’ve got a few situations that would be hits on our “That would never happen in France” mix tape.

1). First time it happened upon moving back to the Land of AZ:

We transported a large, wheeled tool chest from Texas. Callaghan bought it at a Home Depot in Austin (Home Depot is the equivalent of Leroy Merlin in France). We got to Arizona and he decided he didn’t need it anymore. We took it to a Tempe Home Depot WITHOUT A RECEIPT, the guy working there looked it up and couldn’t find it in the system because their store DOESN’T CARRY THAT MODEL OF TOOL CHEST, examined the chest and found OBVIOUS SIGNS OF WEAR (scuff marks and f*cked up wheel bearings) from usage and moving… but he took it, anyway, and gave Callaghan a full refund. $120.00, CASH.

$120.00 in cash and a friendly, humorous exchange for a beat-up tool chest (from out of state, no less) that they don’t even sell there. No receipt.

Callaghan (as we walked through the parking lot): That would NEVER happen in France!!

Me: That’s called Customer Service. IT’S THE AMERICAN WAY.

2). Another time, I went to Target and headed to Customer Service.

Me: I ordered this sports bra online and only wore it twice. It was a sale item.

I showed the Customer Service Girl the strap that was torn almost completely off.

CSG: Oh no! Sorry about that! Do you want to go find a similar one on the sale rack and bring it back here to do an exchange, or do you just want a refund?

Me: I’ll go look for a similar one on sale.

I couldn’t find anything similar in the Active Wear section, on the sale rack or otherwise. I did find another sports bra I really liked, though. It was more expensive than the one I was returning. I took it back to Customer Service thinking I’d just pay the difference.

CSG (looking at her screen): Shoot, I can’t find the sale one. Oh well… I’ll just do an even exchange!

She cheerfully took the damaged item, and I walked away with the more expensive one at no extra cost.

Later, I relayed the story to Callaghan. He was nonplussed.

“No way.”

“WAY.”

“That would NEVER happen in France!”

Me: “It’s the American Way.”

We laughed, because by then, both his line and mine constituted an inside joke.

3). Most recently, we went to my eye doctor’s office to pick up my new glasses.

The Glasses Lady went to the back to get my glasses, which had just been delivered from the lab that day. She came back with a pair of glasses and all kinds of apologies.

“I’m SO SORRY,” she repeated. “The lab made a mistake. They put your lenses in the wrong frames. They’re the correct prescription, though.”

She handed me the glasses. The frames were from an Italian luxury brand. I’d ordered a Coach pair from the low end of the available line’s price range, the cheapest I could find that I thought looked decent.

At her urging, I tried on the wrong glasses. The clarity of the prescription was stunning. Also, the frames looked better on me than the ones I’d chosen. I’m not a status symbol inclined person, but if the glasses look better, they look better, and if they feel great and I can see almost perfectly in them, then I really don’t want to hand them back and wait even longer.

The Glasses Lady was still apologizing.

“I feel so bad that the lab messed up,” she said. “What do you want to do? Do you want to hang onto those while we wait for the correct pair to be made? Or do you want to just keep them? They do look better on you than the other ones.”

“Um…”

“It’s so weird that they did that! We don’t even carry (insert name of haute couture house) here.”

“It would take another 10 days for the correct ones to be made?”

“Yes.” She actually winced.

“How much extra would it cost if I were to keep these?”

“Don’t worry about it. We’ll just do an even exchange.”

 

New glasses, correct prescription, not the frames I ordered, but they work.

New glasses, correct prescription, not the frames I ordered, but they work.

 

I walked out wearing them. Callaghan couldn’t believe it, and neither could I, to be honest. These frames cost at least a couple hundred bucks more than I’d paid for the Coach frames, and I got them at no extra cost.

Callaghan said, “Okay, this would NEVER, EVER happen in France.”

Now, for you Americans, such anecdotes aren’t all that fantastical. Incidents such as these don’t happen every day, but on a smaller scale, they’re commonplace, and it’s easy to take such customer service for granted. We haven’t kept track of all the times the cashier couldn’t find the price on an item, and either a). Gave it to us for a guesstimated amount that seemed less than it should’ve been, or b). Casually said something like, “Let’s just call it $5.00! That seems about right.”

All the times we returned stuff we’d used for which we had no receipt, refunds with no questions asked. (We don’t do that a lot, but the instances add up over the years.)

In order to fully appreciate our “That would never happen in France” observation/inside joke, you’d have to know, for comparison, about some of our “customer service” experiences in France. But that’s a topic for another post, perhaps.

English Language Colloquial Expressions 101.

Nothing says “I hate my brain” quite like trying to explain English language colloquialisms to a non-native-English-speaking person. I suck at it, anyway.

You could probably spend your whole life learning a second language if you’re after facility with all of its informal expressions. Callaghan made his latest joyful discovery the other day when he wanted to know what’s meant when someone finishes a sentence with, “if I do say so myself,” because, of course, there’s no translation for that phrase in French.

The first time he asked about it – I don’t remember what we were talking about – he cut me off mid-sentence.

“But YOU did it, so why did you say ‘if I do say so myself’?”

I had to stop and think about it, which I’ve never had to do, like, ever.

Expressions can’t be nailed down because there’s usually no logic in such statements, right? After a few false starts, I finally said something to the effect of: “You say ‘if I do say so myself’ in a self-congratulatory context, like when you’re giving yourself credit for something, but you want to be humble about it. It shows that you’re aware that you’re congratulating yourself. A more literal way to put it would be, ‘…if I may be so bold as to display pride in (whatever I did)’.”

By then, I felt like I was babbling, but I forged on to offer an example: “Not a bad job for my first time building an IKEA executive desk, if I do say so myself.”

I felt that this should suffice, but then Callaghan demanded finer-tuned clarification. I was unable to oblige due to the sensation of my brain being beaten with a pointy stick, pointy end first.

“I can’t think of how to explain it better,” I said. “You’ll hear it the next time I say it naturally in conversation.”

Since then, he’s been practicing the phrase with great zeal, inserting it where he sees fit:

“That’s a beautiful-looking moon, if I do say so myself!”

“Very funny.”

“Hahaha!”

I have a lot of patience, I thought. If I do say so myself.

Another time, he proclaimed, “Nice is the most heinous city in the world, if I do say so myself.”

Whereupon I was like,

 

Consult an online English-language resource.

Consult an online English-language resource.

 

Later, he assured me that he was just joking when he said “if I do say so myself” about the moon. He said he said it on purpose, to be funny.

Then he told me that he’d had the hardest time learning the whole “Did not!” / “Did too!” argument little kids get into in the backseat of the car while their exasperated parents sitting in the front try to make the road trip a fun time.

“‘Did not / Did too’ made absolutely no sense to me,” he said. “There’s nothing like that in French.”

I was glad I wasn’t involved in that one.

I sleep-ninja. (I have somnambulninja.) (Also, sleep and other unfair advantages.)

The quality of my sleep has improved a lot in the last three weeks. I even slept through my alarm one day. It happened on a Sunday, still the only day of the week I sleep in until 8:30.

My body sensed the height of the sun and the lateness of the morning. Panic brewed before I opened my eyes. It was 9:30. “What happened to my alarm?” I asked Callaghan. “I set it for 8:30!”

“You asked me to turn it off, so I did,” Callaghan said.

Sure.

I use the alarm on my phone, which I keep next to my side of the bed at night. I’ve never failed to wake up and turn it off. I’ve certainly never asked him to turn it off for me.

“You were awake and we talked for a little while,” he continued. “Then you went back to sleep.”

“I don’t understand… how could I have done that without remembering…”

“But you did.”

“Really?”

He looked at me for a second. Then he changed his story:

“You woke up. You beat me up. You disappeared!” he claimed. “You don’t remember?”

And that would be why we don’t own a gun.

“I disappeared?” I wasn’t about to voice the morbid sarcasm that popped into my head. I was going to pursue the intriguing part of his claim: that I disappeared.

“Yes. You disappeared. You beat me up and then you disappeared.”

I thought about it for a second.

 

My ninja t-shirt. "Today's Lesson: Division"

My ninja t-shirt. “Today’s Lesson: Division”

 

“I sleep-ninja’d,” I said. “A sleep-walker is a somnambulist… I’m a somnambulninja.”

“I guess.”

“What other ninja things have I done in my sleep?” I was pleased with my epiphany.

“You texted that one girl and plotted something. I don’t remember what because I was asleep, too, and you sleep-deleted it. But it was sinister.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be you,” I broke in, still thinking about his claim. “I mean, if I was going to beat anyone up, it wouldn’t be you. But I wouldn’t beat anyone up at all unless it was in self-defense. Anything other than that wouldn’t be necessary.”

“Why not?”

“Because what comes around, goes around. If someone does me wrong, I wouldn’t worry about it, because they’d get theirs eventually. I wouldn’t have to do a thing.”

And that reminded me of the folk song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”… specifically, Johnny Cash’s cover. Have you seen the video?

 

 

Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

Not sure how I digressed into the laws of moral causation when this was just to mention that I’ve been sleeping well. Sleep is good. It’s good for the sleeper, and it’s good for people who want to claim that you said and did things while you were sleeping. Excuse me while I disappear.

The adventures of a pug (nightshirt).

Last week was eventful in my little world.

I have this nightshirt that I love. It’s a loose white t-shirt, thin, soft, and comfortably cool in hot weather. Functionally, it’s great for summer, but it’s designed around a Christmas theme, which doesn’t make sense in the northern hemisphere.

Callaghan hates the nightshirt… not because of its Christmas theme, but because of its overall unfortunate look. I can see where he’s coming from. The shirt features the face of a pug. The masterminds behind the nightshirt made the pug look unsightly with a “so ugly it’s cute” kind of intention. The pug is wearing a festive red Santa hat, which is how you know it’s a Christmas nightshirt (for someone in Australia, that is, since it’s thin, cool, and ideal in hot weather). There are gold Christmas lights in the background, and below the pug’s portrait, it says #SELFIE in glittery gold paint. The pug is grimacing, presumably because he’s smiling for his picture.

Hilarious, right? Pugs are adorable. A pug in a Santa hat taking a selfie at Christmas is adorable. Pugs were in vogue when I bought the nightshirt, and the word “selfie” had probably just been invented, and it was December, so all three of those things on a summery nightshirt had to be a triple win.

Callaghan maintains that it’s the ugliest and most ridiculous nightshirt in the history of nightshirts.

Really, I can’t blame him. I don’t know how much I’d appreciate getting into bed with a lover wearing that shirt, either. Its pug portrait fails to make sense. It attempts to convey a message, but the message doesn’t match the picture. It strives for an aesthetic, but it doesn’t achieve it. It’s trying to be hip, but the pug isn’t holding a PBR. Overreaching for novelty, the nightshirt’s very ambitions, however admirable, are its downfall. The nightshirt is having an identity crisis caught in a gold-glittered tangle of WTF. The nightshirt might even work as birth control.

Despite its failings, I loved that nightshirt. Then I lost it. It just vanished one day, going into the laundry, but not coming out, like so many socks. It wasn’t the first beloved article of clothing I’d lost, but the disappearance of this particular one made me suspicious.

“You took it,” I accused Callaghan. “You think it’s ugly and you hate it so you stole it.”

“What are you talking about.”

“My pug. You hate when I wear it to bed, so you took it!”

“No.”

“What did you do with it? Are you sure you didn’t accidentally… misplace it?”

“Mais non!”

When the conversation goes from English to French, it’s getting serious.

I have to believe him, because marriage is about trust and giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, I told myself.

Going with the assumption that Callaghan didn’t take the pug, I tried to fathom what might have become of it. Of course, I imagined the worst. The pug fell into the hands of Russian mobsters. The pug got eaten by a shark (in Kansas). The pug is being held hostage in a joystick sweatshop in Bangladesh. The pug is smoking weed in the desert. I wondered if I was going to start receiving photographs of the pug in random far-off places, wearing hats other than the Santa hat.

It turned out that the pug had gotten separated from the laundry as it was being dumped into the washing machine. It had been wedged between the washer and the wall all this time.

I found it last week when I was frantically trying to rescue a large, beautiful squirrel who’d been chased into the laundry room by an outdoor cat (who adopted us, but we’re not supposed to admit to that, so she’s ours, but only unofficially, and we named her “Cita” as in Mamacita, but you didn’t hear any of this from me). I’ve lived in the Valley for 25 years and I didn’t even know that there were squirrels here until I found this one burrowing into the folds of my pug nightshirt.

I was elated to have found the pug, but looking at it through fresh eyes that hadn’t seen it in months, I couldn’t remember why I’d been so enamored with it. Its charm had been replaced by actuality. The whole picture of the pug was something nonsensical that confused me. The chaos of it canceled out its comfort value. In fact, it wasn’t even as comfortable as it used to be… it had pilled, and the pilling made the thin fabric more textured than soft. (Making things more disconcerting was the fact that I love actual pugs and find all of them to be adorable.)

 

Looking possessed in the pug nightshirt, and still trying to figure out how people take mirror selfies.

Looking possessed in the pug nightshirt, and still trying to figure out how people take mirror selfies.

 

So I don’t wear the pug nightshirt anymore. It’s not as comfortable as it used to be, and Callaghan still hates it. I’ve given it up. I’ve tucked it into a drawer and walked away from it. I just threaten to wear it at opportune times.

Yes… we’re still in France. (Many pics!)

First, thank you for your words of support following Callaghan’s loss. Thank you for your kindness, your thoughtfulness, and for being here… for reading, and for caring. All the love means more than we can say.

Callaghan’s been handling his emotions well, leaning on humor as a tool, enjoying time with family and friends, and keeping busy with work, as well, with some of his French clients. This morning, he left early for a full day of work in Toulon; I’ll spend the afternoon hanging out with a friend until Callaghan gets back tonight.

We brought Papy’s ashes home yesterday.

It’s been busy. The fact that we’ve been going non-stop since we landed hasn’t precluded me from taking tons of pics, though, so I thought I’d share a few of them here (sans family members).

To start, this first one is a quote we found in a German magazine on the airplane, because it had us in fits of laughter. A little lightening up is always good, right?

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-LuthansaMag

 

It was probably one of those you-had-to-be-there situations, because we’re not sure why we found this so hilarious. We just did, and I’ll tell you what… we’re not complaining about cracking up over some much-needed random silliness.

On that note, here’s a pic I took of an old bank in Nice the other night:

 

Old Bank in Nice. No idea what it's called.

Old bank in Nice. No idea what it’s called.

 

I’ve walked by this bank hundreds of times, but I only thought to take a picture of it this time, because, again, Random Silliness Therapy was in order. See, this very bank is the bank that French actor Jean Dujardin’s character attempts to rob in Brice de Nice. Brice de Nice is one of my all-time favorite comedies, and was filmed here in Nice. The bank robbery scene was actually shot inside this bank (as opposed to on a stage set).

To give you an idea of the bank robbery scene, lest you haven’t seen the movie:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-BricedeNicebanque1

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-BricedeNicebanque2

 

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Six years before he swept up Best Actor awards at the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Globes, the Oscars, the BAFTAs, and the SAG Awards for one film (The Artist) in one awards year (2011-2012), Jean Dujardin, then mostly known in the south of France as a comedian, wore ridiculous blond hair to play a ridiculous character of his own creation, Brice Agostini, in a ridiculous movie. (Brice de Nice is pronounced “Breece duh Neece.” The character calls himself “Brice duh Nice” as you’d say it in English, though… that’s a part of the humor.) Brice de Nice belongs in the “So bad it’s good” category of films, so if you haven’t seen it and you’re in need of Random Silliness Therapy, I recommend it! (Get the subtitled version if you don’t know French. Dubbed is awful.)

Brice de Nice has something of a cult following around here. The whole joke of the story is that Brice aspires to be a champion surfer, but he “surfs” at the Mediterranean beaches of Nice, where there are no waves.

Here’s the trailer from which I’d snipped the pics:

 

 

On a more somber note, due to current events, some loved ones in the States were concerned for our safety regarding going to France. I was cautioned to refrain from “galavanting around,” as I’m wont to do when I’m here, but galavanting can’t be entirely avoided if daily life is to be lived. We had (and still have) errands to run on le Rue Jean Medecin and the Place Massena, which is adjacent to Vieux Nice, which attracts a lot of people and is therefore potentially hazardous… and since our schedule’s been so hectic, we’ve had to go at night, mostly. But it’s been fine. Here are a few pics:

 

The Ferris wheel all lit up.

The Ferris wheel all lit up.

 

Nice Etoile (mall)

Nice Etoile (mall)

 

A less-traveled street in Nice.

A less-traveled street in Nice.

 

Flag made of lights. French patriotism like I've never seen it. There are also a lot of French flags hanging over people's balconies.

Flag made of lights. French patriotism like I’ve never seen it. There are also a lot of French flags hanging over people’s balconies.

 

The train station where we went to get Callaghan's great-aunt, arriving for Papy's service.

The train station where we went to get Callaghan’s great-aunt, arriving for Papy’s service.

 

Weather-wise, it’s been chilly and mostly overcast and rainy, but the sun came out this morning, giving me a good opportunity to snap the views. Here’s the view from our bedroom in Callaghan’s Dad’s house in Le Bar-sur-Loup, a village in the hills above Nice:

 

Bedroom view, Papa's house, Le Bar-sur-Loup

Bedroom view, Papa’s house, Le Bar-sur-Loup

 

And the view from the bathroom:

 

Bathroom view, Papa's house, Le Bar-sur-Loup

Bathroom view, Papa’s house, Le Bar-sur-Loup

 

And food-wise! I have indeed been taking foodaholic pics, even though I’m a vegan in France, which translates to “I’ve mainly eaten salads supplemented with things from my back-up supply of nutrient-dense food that travels well.” By the way, this is the first time I’ve stubbornly refused to deviate from veganism in France. Not a single pastry has passed my lips… no croissant, no pain au chocolat. No cheese, no dairy of any kind. It’s hard to figure out what to eat. This is not a country that makes it easy if you go out to dine at restaurants and at people’s houses.

But here are a few of the beautiful salads of which I’ve partaken:

 

Salad in a restaurant (greens, tomatoes, onions, toasted walnuts)

Salad in a restaurant (greens, tomatoes, onions, toasted walnuts)

 

Salad at Callaghan's Dad's house (endive and green apple with a homemade mustard vinaigrette)

Salad at Callaghan’s Dad’s house (endive and green apple with a homemade mustard vinaigrette)

 

Salad at Mamie's house (Callaghan's grandmother): Mixed greens and tomatoes in another homemade vinaigrette, this one with garlic.)

Salad at Mamie’s house (Callaghan’s grandmother): Mixed greens and tomatoes in another homemade vinaigrette, this one with garlic).

 

That’s a piece of tomato pizza off to the side, by the way. It’s a south of France thing, and in its original form, like this one, it doesn’t have cheese. We picked it up in the boulangerie across from Mamie’s place in Cagnes sur Mer. It was delicious.

While I’m sharing foodaholic pics, here’s what I ate at the airport when we stopped over in Frankfurt, Germany on our way here:

 

Muesli with soy milk

Muesli with soy milk

 

Because it was 5:45 in the morning. I also had coffee with soymilk. Germany is hip with the times and you can ask for things like soymilk and almost always get it, like in the States.

I also got a pretzel, since I was in Germany, the mothership of pretzels, and I love fresh, authentic pretzels:

 

Wonderful pretzels in Germany!

Wonderful pretzels in Germany!

 

Last, I took a couple of pics of the artwork Callaghan did for his Mamie when he was just five years old:

 

Artwork for Mamie (Grandma) by Callaghan, age 5.

Artwork for Mamie (Grandma) by Callaghan, age 5.

 

His signature wasn't written by him, though.

His signature wasn’t written by him, though.

 

And that concludes my sharing of random photos.

We have three days left here.

We’re in France for Callaghan’s Papy (in memoriam).

A man here on the French Riviera died recently. Men on the French Riviera die as frequently as men everywhere else, but only one was Papy, Callaghan’s grandfather.

Papy was the reason Callaghan came here to visit for two weeks last May/June. When Papy fell into medical crisis, Callaghan hurried to his side, even though it meant flying across the United States, and then across the Atlantic. Callaghan would not have thought twice about going if we lived on the moon.

Five months later, on November 2nd, Callaghan returned to France to work on a project in Normandy. In the middle of his 10-day business trip, he took a day off and flew down south to spend the day with Papy. That trip turned out to be a blessing on a deeply personal level, because within three weeks, Papy’s health declined until coma swallowed him alive, as comas do. Less than a month after Callaghan saw him that day in early November, Papy was gone.

That Callaghan and Papy had one day together recently while Papy was lucid and at home was a tremendous gift. Papy had spent a miserable summer and fall revolving in and out of the hospital for various reasons. Callaghan’s work trip couldn’t have been timed better.

When he came home, Callaghan didn’t need to describe to me Papy’s happiness during that visit. I have a warm memory of the countless times we’d trekked up the eight flights of stairs leading to Callaghan’s grandparents’ apartment: We would reach the last landing and turn the corner to find Papy and Mamie standing at the wide-open front door, waiting patiently with joyful expectation on their faces. Papy’s patience felt alive with anticipation beneath his calm exterior. That was the part about Papy and his relationship with Callaghan that I remember with the most clarity… the ritual and vision of Papy standing at the open door, waiting for his beloved grandson to appear on the landing. Every time, their faces lit up when they saw each other. There was so much love there!

 

Callaghan's Papy, c . 1950, age 25

Callaghan’s Papy, c . 1950, age 25

 

I don’t think I’ve known anyone else as dedicated to a grandparent to the extent that Callaghan was dedicated to his Papy, despite the long distance between them after Callaghan and I moved back to the States two years ago. Their bond reached back to the 70’s, when Callaghan was five years old and his mother suffered a stroke (a shocking occurrence at her young age). Callaghan went to live with their grandparents in the wake of their Maman’s hospitalization… and throughout his teen years, Callaghan continued spending lots of time with Papy, staying at his grandparents’ place at least one night a week.

I’d always been impressed with how Callaghan so resolutely assumed responsibility for his grandfather’s health. He cared for Papy with a gravity unique to their special bond. He cared for Papy like no one else did.

Grandparents are special, especially when they take part in raising you during your formative early childhood and teen years.

 

We walked to Le Jardin Secret to order the floral arrangement for Papy's obseques (service).

We walked to Le Jardin Secret to order the floral arrangement for Papy’s obseques (service).

 

I didn’t spend nearly as much time with Papy, but I got to know him through the many stories Callaghan told. How Papy played the accordion in his youth. How the events of World War II impacted him. How he’d gone on to own his own shop. How he’d enjoyed his daily walks to the center of his village, Cagnes sur Mer, to talk with his friends. How he’d loved red wine, and his Citroën Traction Avant.

 

Papy cherished his Citroen Traction Avant Quinze. It looked like this one.

Papy cherished his Citroen Traction Avant Quinze. It looked like this one.

 

Along with his father, Callaghan will be delivering the eulogy at tomorrow’s service, which I imagine will be difficult; writing and delivering a eulogy for the most important person in your life, for your hero,  can’t be an easy thing. I’m honored that he asked me for help with writing and rehearsing it.

Such as it is that I’m here with Callaghan in France. This time, I had to join him. This is a time for family and for supporting each other. I couldn’t be with Callaghan during his earlier visits, but what matters is that I’m here with him now.

For the night of the ceremony – tomorrow night – Callaghan is planning a celebration for Papy at a favorite old pub. Everyone who will be there knew Papy, because they’re Callaghan’s long-time friends… they knew how important Papy was in Callaghan’s life, and what he meant to him.

What I’m Digging Right Now – November Favorites

Oh, wow… December 1st! Time to rave about some of November’s memorable Little Things. How about this for a change: I’m starting with food this time, because there’s a lot of it. The month that just passed had a culinary focus. I actually didn’t experiment with any new cosmetic-type products in November, so this list is devoid of that kind of stuff. We didn’t see any movies, either (I guess we’ll catch The Martian at the cheap seats or online when it hits the site we use), and we only started one T.V. series… but man, we’re enthralled with that series!!

Let’s dig in.

 

1). Callaghan’s 7-spice Masala tofu.

 

Callaghan's 7-spice Masala tofu with brown Basmati rice

Callaghan’s 7-spice Masala tofu with brown Basmati rice

 

Callaghan enjoys dabbling creatively with Asian flavors in his cooking, and he often comes up with concoctions that are out-of-this-word delicious. This tofu dish was one of them. I can’t tell you what’s in the sauce because it’s a secret (all I know is that it includes masala), but I know it doesn’t contain coconut anything or any kind of nut butter, which makes it unusual.

 

2). Coconut Aminos (Coconut Secret original).

 

Coconut Aminos (Coconut Secret original)

Coconut Aminos (Coconut Secret original)

 

In my recent endeavor to drastically minimize the amount of processed food I eat, a lifestyle change I haven’t mentioned before (I embarked on this journey in October), I’ve been on the hunt for substitutes for old staples. One thing I learned is that coconut aminos make a fabulous stand-in for soy sauce, and in fact, we actually prefer it. No lie. Coconut aminos is simpler than soy sauce, more flavorful, and healthier. Get this: Coconut aminos contain TWO ingredients, zero chemicals, and a mere 90 mg sodium! Compare that to Kikkoman’s “less sodium” (green cap) soy sauce, which contains chemicals and 575 mg sodium. 575. That’s their lower sodium version. We haven’t touched it since we started using coconut aminos (which, by the way, tastes plenty salty to us). Last night, we finally just threw out the soy sauce. Our new motto is coconut aminos or GTFO.

 

3). Simple Truth walnuts halves and pieces.

 

Simple Truth walnuts halves and pieces

Simple Truth walnuts halves and pieces

 

I’ve been eating a lot of these unsalted walnut pieces lately. There’s something about fall that makes me crave or think about walnuts more, and when I get going on eating them regularly, I always wonder why I don’t think of them as much year-round. Walnuts in salads are great, but I also love them by themselves. They’re an awesome source of plant-basted protein, healthy fats, and trace minerals, too.

 

4). Sting ‘n’ Linger Salsa Co. (hot).

 

Sting 'n' Linger Salsa Co. (hot)

Sting ‘n’ Linger Salsa Co. (hot)

 

I know I recently included a salsa in a “favorites” post… I know! But I’m back with yet another one, and let me tell you, this one makes the other one taste like glorified ketchup. Sting ‘n’ Linger hot salsa is made locally here in Arizona, and it’s completely unprocessed. There isn’t a single chemical in it, and the flavor is fantastic. We get it at the Tempe Farmer’s Market down the street… I’m not sure where else it’s available, but you may be able to find it online. This stuff is the shizz as far as store-bought salsas go, and that’s coming from someone who’s lived on the Mexican border in three different states her entire life (except for temporary overseas living situations).

 

5). Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Extra Dark chocolate.

 

Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Extra Dark chocolate

Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Extra Dark chocolate

 

Like walnuts, I cycle in and out of periods of keeping the kitchen stocked with bars of bitter dark chocolate. This one by Lindt has been a favorite of mine for years. I have one or two squares a day, usually in the evening, and I cherish a kind of ritual around eating them: I take tiny nibbles from the square and let them dissolve in my mouth with just a little biting with my front teeth. Somehow, this slow melting prolongs the chocolate euphoria. I indulged thusly all through November, and I don’t see the end of the cycle as of yet.

Now for the T.V. series that took off with our brains (and a lot of our free time) in November….

 

6). Marvel’s Jessica Jones (T.V. series – Netflix)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-MarvelsJessicaJonesNovFavs2015

 

What can I say about Jessica Jones? Stylish. Sexy. Smart. Badass. Beautiful. Oh, and the show itself is awesome, too, in pretty much every way. The only other comic book-based dramatic project I can think of that matches this one in all-around excellence (okay, in my personal enjoyment… I know art is subjective) is the movie Sin City. Netflix does it again!

Moving on to the objects part of the list:

 

7). Asics Gel-Venture 5 running shoes.

 

Asics Gel-Venture 5 running shoes

Asics Gel-Venture 5 running shoes

 

I knew from past experience that running shoes work great for me in cardio/plyometrics situations, so when we started Body Combat and I needed shoes, I got running shoes from Asics, my favorite brand. That was a year and a half ago, and the pair I got were Gel-Venture 4’s. They were amazing. Naturally, when I decided to splurge on a new pair a few weeks ago – my reasoning being that I was walking to and from work again and therefore needed good shoes for everyday street wear – I got another pair of Asics. They’re Gel-Venture 5’s now, and I honestly can’t tell the difference between them and the 4’s, though apparently the technology’s been updated somehow. I love them. Shoes aren’t my thing and I generally dislike shopping for them, but I do get excited about athletic shoes.

Yeah, if I can help it, I prefer not to wear street shoes in the gym. And yes, that picture shows me with my shoes up on the furniture. What.

 

8). Pentel EnerGel liquid gel ink pen, blue (needle tip 0.7).

 

Pentel EnerGel liquid gel ink pen, blue (needle tip 0.7)

Pentel EnerGel liquid gel ink pen, blue (needle tip 0.7)

 

It might seem silly to put a pen on a “favorites” list, but this pen and I were meant to spend hours together bonding over coffee. You know the feeling. There’s that one pen that feels perfect when you write with it. For me, that’s this one.

 

9). OfficeMax mug.

 

OfficeMax mug

OfficeMax mug

 

Okay, I have a thing for mugs, and I’m particular about them. I love drinking coffee from mugs of a certain size and shape, so when I found this cheerful yellow one for $2.00 in a clearance bin at OfficeMax, I had to get it. And I had to share it with you here, because it was truly a Little Thing that added to my enjoyment of November. (By the way, this pic makes the mug look a lot smaller than it is. I was more concerned with capturing the sunlight than the dimensions of the mug.)

 

10). Method foaming hand wash in Pink Grapefruit.

 

Method foaming hand wash in Pink Grapefruit

Method foaming hand wash in Pink Grapefruit

 

We’ve been using Method hand soaps for years, but we just recently picked up the foaming one in pink grapefruit. Its sparkly, bright citrus scent reminds me of the lemon kitchen hand soap from Trader Joe’s, but I love this one even more. We don’t even care that it’s pink.

That brings this post to an end, and 2015 is about to go away, too. Next time, I’ll write my last “favorites” post of 2015! That seems surreal.

Halloween Merriment (and the unexpected adventures of Callaghan’s butt)

Happy Halloween Eve!

Callaghan and I have been celebrating Halloween all week, wanting to make up for the fact that we’ll be apart on the actual holiday. He left yesterday for a 12-day business trip in France (Normandy)… so yes, the week-long celebration was necessary. Priorities.

Actually, we’ve been in Halloween celebration mode all month.

I have no Halloween plans for tomorrow. At first I wanted to go to SCARIZONA Scaregrounds with a friend, but then I chickened out re-thought that plan because they promise to prey on “every possible phobia,” and there’s no way I’m risking the possibility of roaches (real or not). I’m thinking roachaphobia is common enough that Scarizona masterminds would use it in the creation of their haunted house “experiences.” I’m a risk-taker in some ways, but not in the roach way. NOPE. Not going.

Instead, kitties and I will enjoy a quiet, spooky Halloween together.

 

Bunny-butt Nenette and butterscotch Nounours checking out a jack-o'-lantern pumpkin.

Bunny-butt Nenette and butterscotch Nounours checking out a jack-o’-lantern pumpkin.

 

I’m looking at 12 days of quality bonding time with Nounours and Nenette. But fear not – I am planning on some crazy shenanigans for the duration. As they say, the cat will play while the Callaghan’s away.

Here’s some of what’s about to go down:

  • Reading (All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr)
  • Writing (I round-filed both of my neglected big projects, but this new one is actually a starting-over of one of the discarded ones.)
  • Watching Netflix (Yes, I’ve returned to Netflix. What can I say.)
  • Playing with furbabies (Nenette will learn that I can be just as fun as Daddy when it comes to playing.)
  • Taking the bus (to work – this is new) and walking (home from work). I still refuse to pay for parking at work when we live so close.
  • Eating simply. (For the next 12 days, I’m basically going to live on salad, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli, brown rice, quinoa, hummus, peanut butter, bread, and fruit. Because these are foods I love, I’m lazy about cooking, and I don’t want to spend time thinking about it.)
  • Getting my hair cut. (YAY new hair, plus I get to see my girl Melanie!)

And, so as to not make too much of a ruckus up in here:

  • Updating/cleaning up some of this blog’s details, i.e. the About page, stuff in the sidebar, some of the links and tags and categories, etc., etc. Long overdue.

It’s not an exhaustive list, but it captures the main agenda. You get the idea. It doesn’t take much to amuse me.

Case in point: I was too easily amused by this exchange with Callaghan yesterday morning when he was at the airport, texting to tell me about his pre-boarding adventures.

You know how a text conversation can get off-sync when you receive a message while you’re texting, so after you send the one you were writing, you immediately answer the new one that came in, and the messages accumulate out of order because the timing got messed up, plus you were talking about two different things at once, so now your phone displays a merging of replies on different subjects, and it either doesn’t make sense at all, or it just looks wrong?

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Callaghan-AirportScreenShot

 

This is what happens when you’re texting about airport security procedures and breakfast at the same time. It’s all fun and games until someone gets a scone up his butt. Of course, it had to be Callaghan.

Jack-o’-lanterns and Americanism 101.

Somehow, long before he met me and for reasons no one will ever know, Callaghan managed to live in the United States for 10 years without ever carving a jack-o’-lantern.

In my mind, this is tantamount to not knowing what Halloween actually is in America, which in turn says to me that Callaghan hasn’t been a real American. All this time, his dual citizenship has been fraudulent.

Believe me, I did not arrive at this conclusion lightly. Thinking about it, though, I do see a pattern here.

Callaghan knew about St. Patrick’s Day parades and green beer, but he didn’t know that Americans (especially kids) make sure they leave the house with the color green visible somewhere in their outfits, even if it’s just shoe laces, a hair tie, or a pin… or others who are displaying green can pinch them.

He knew about Valentine’s Day roses and chocolates, but he didn’t know that American kids traditionally give their friends and classmates valentines that contain simple and often humorous verses. (Roses are red, violets are blue….)

He knew about Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating, and maybe even about classroom-decorating and school costume parades, contests, and parties, but he didn’t know the most fundamental part of the holiday – how to carve a jack-o’-lantern – because he’d never done it.

I get it. Since he first moved to the States as an adult, he missed out on the kids’ aspects of these and other holidays. But it’s those aspects that define the holidays more than the adult ones, in my opinion. Especially Halloween.

Since the ruthless slashing and carving of a pumpkin into a jack-o’-lantern constitutes a basic American Halloween activity we’ve all done at least once in our lives, a logical question on the United States citizenship exam would be, “Have you ever carved a jack-o’-lantern?”

“No” means try again later. “Yes” means here’s a pumpkin and a knife… prove it.

Prospective employers weed out the liars and the frauds the same exact way, like when I interviewed for the job I had before I moved to France. They took me into a room with a lightbulb hanging over a lonely chair computer, sat me down, gave me some basic information, and instructed me to compose a letter on behalf of a fictional boss. I knew nothing about the subject, and that was the point. They just told me the name of the addressee, the name of the fictional boss, and the goal of the letter. I’d written many such letters before, which showed, I guess, since I got the job.

In the same scenario (but with a pumpkin and a knife instead of a computer), Callaghan would not have gotten the “job” (his citizenship).

Instead of being asked about jack-o’-lanterns, he was asked silly things like Who is the current President? And Why are there 50 stars on the flag?

First of all, duh. Secondly, where is that kind of knowledge going to get anyone in terms of being a real American? A full-grown adult who’s never carved a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween is certainly from another country, if you ask me. It’s a dead giveaway. (har, har)

Callaghan would have failed his citizenship exam because you can’t fake your way through carving a jack-o’-lantern. It’s not self-explanatory. It seems like a simple thing, but until Saturday night:

–He didn’t know how to choose a pumpkin for a jack-o’-lantern.

–He didn’t know about carving around the stem to make a lid.

–He didn’t know that pumpkins are hollow.

–He didn’t know about scraping away the stringy pulp.

–He didn’t know about gathering the seeds and rinsing, drying and toasting them, because…

–He didn’t know that Americans like to eat pumpkin seeds…

–because pumpkins are totally New World, and Old World people can’t know these things through osmosis just because they’re in the States.

Callaghan didn’t know anything about jack-o’-lanterns, and I loved it. I loved that somehow, miraculously, I was the person to pop his…. He learned about jack-o’-lanterns from me. Of all the many Americans he met and befriended over the years, I got to be the person to show him!

He seemed disinterested at first, but then he saw me draw the face on my pumpkin. He’s an artist, remember, and I had his attention. He watched as I wielded the knife to carve around the stem, and I invited him to lift the lid off the pumpkin. I’ll never forget the surprise in his voice or the expression of wonderment on his face when he looked inside the pumpkin and said, “It’s HOLLOW!!”

Sharing that moment of discovery with him will always be one of my favorite memories.

After we finished the jack-o’-lantern, he wanted to run out to get another pumpkin, so we did. (Since we’re in the States, we were able to do that, even though it was almost midnight.)

Here we are in the parking lot, as those of you on Facebook have already seen:

 

In front of Safeway at around 11:30pm. Midnight pumpkin run!

In front of Safeway at around 11:30pm. Midnight pumpkin run!

 

And here he is, posing like the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a classic bit of American literature from 1820:

 

The Callaghan Horseman.

The Callaghan Horseman.

 

The Headless Horseman.

The Headless Horseman.

 

We lit the jack-o’-lantern with a tea light so we wouldn’t have to worry about it, and the flame would burn itself out.

 

The spooky jack-o'-lantern we light in our bedroom every night.

The spooky jack-o’-lantern we light in our bedroom every night.

 

Jack-o’-lanterns and accompanying folklore such as the Headless Horseman came to America from Ireland or northern Europe, I believe. American culture contains this bewitching mélange of other cultures. Our traditions come from everywhere. America is a glorious mutt. 

And we love the cutthroat culture of Halloween. No mercy for pumpkins!

I finished “Make Me” by Lee Child. (This is not a review.)

Lee Child’s latest Reacher novel, Make Me, delivered. The story is tight and the tension is high, and Reacher is his usual, taciturn self. Reacher “said nothing” about 20 times. I kept track of all the “nothing” that he said. It was deafening.

If last year’s Reacher novel left me disappointed at all, Make Me more than made up for it. Reacher gets off a train and the story takes off, engaging instantly with intrigue (heightened by the knowledge that very little is extraneous – a perk of being a seasoned Reacher reader, though you absolutely don’t need to have read previous Reacher novels in order to enjoy this one), but I particularly loved this story with its details that correlate to details in my reality. It’s always fun when personally relatable aspects leap out at you from a novel.

There’s the female agent being Asian-American (which I am), and the tertiary character, a journalist, being a science editor with a background in molecular biology (I’d worked as a science editor in bioinformatics and molecular biology in the past), and the moniker ‘Callaghan’, “which at least was Irish.” (Hello, Callaghan! I’d written a blog post about how my French husband’s nickname is an Irish name.)

So here’s Reacher hanging out with this Asian-looking chick, and they find themselves, at one point, right here in Phoenix, where familiar places and things are mentioned. (Sky Harbor International Airport. Maricopa County sheriffs. Scottsdale. The “baking desert heat.”)

All of this coated the bad-assery with an icing of familiarity that added amusement to a reading experience that was already supremely enjoyable. But even without those details, there’s nothing like an excellent, well-developed, well-paced thriller/mystery to facilitate a much-needed escape.

If I ever find myself having coffee with Lee Child, I’m going to thank him for this one, especially.

 

Lee Child's 20th Reacher novel

Lee Child’s 20th Reacher novel

 

Make Me gives us classic Reacher, yet it deviates from the Reacher formula in a surprising way, at the very end. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

The problem with Reacher is a classic one, too… you can only hang out with him for the time it takes to finish the book. Then you have to wait a year for him to come back. I remind myself to be grateful that he comes back at all… surely Reacher will retire one day, and that will be the end. Meanwhile, the countdown is on for Reacher’s return.

Good-Bye, Chili Pete!

Callaghan finally changed his name on Facebook. His old Facebook name had been an inside joke between us, but the joke didn’t translate well in French (I’ve written about this before… people in France thought that his name was “Chili Farts”), and he’d wavered between keeping it and changing it because on the one hand, he liked it despite the confusion on the Gallic side, and on the other hand, who wants to be called Chili Farts?

He finally decided to change his name after conversing with one of his cousins in France. He ended the phone call and shuffled into the kitchen looking mildly perturbed.

“Once again,” he said, sighing and laughing at the same time.

“What?”

“Ambre just asked me why my name on Facebook is ‘Chili Pète’,” he said. “I told her that it’s not ‘Chili Pète.’ It’s ‘Chili Pete’.”

Ambre is his cousin’s daughter. Their family had visited with us for a few days in August. And language is an interesting thing. “Pète” and “Pete” are spelled the same, but that little accent above the first ‘e’ makes the critical difference between a bodily function and a boy’s name.

I’m guilty of omitting the accents in my French writing online because I’ve yet to memorize the alt codes for the different ones, and I’m too rushed to look them up. (I know, I know!) In such cases, the French usually visualize the accents where they should be, since they know the word, itself.

Because that’s what people naturally do when they recognize a word, but it’s missing its accent. They assume the accent.

The French don’t readily associate “Pete” with a name, though, being that it’s short for “Peter” – their counterpart to “Peter” is “Pierre” – but they recognize the word. So when they see it, they visualize its accent: “Pète.”

“The French all pronounce it like that,” he said. “Chili Pète.”

And so he changed it. I changed mine, too, since my fake Facebook name made a matched set with “Chili Pete.” We decided on a new set of inside-joke fake Facebook names with equal (if not better) amusement value.

 

Meet Jack Chirac.

 

The moral of this story is that when your social media audience of friends and family encompasses groups of people who speak different languages, interesting things can happen. Stuff gets lost in translation. Your French-speaking friends will mispronounce your name and you won’t even realize it because you’re bilingual with dual citizenship and you’ve spent years in the States, so “Pete” is self-explanatory to you. It’s all fun and games until the hundredth person asks you why your name is “Chili Farts.”

Callaghan, 0; Peanut Butter, 5.

I’ve always marveled at the borderline-comical dramatic reactions the French have to peanut butter. They range from mockery to disgust to hatred. I saw it for myself when I was living in France, I see it in my own home with my French husband, and I see it, from time to time, in pop culture. Epic is the humor that can be derived from the French disdain of peanut butter.

 

 

Peanut butter would almost always work as a French person repellent.

Not only are the French totally lacking whatever gene is needed to appreciate peanut butter, but they don’t understand it. The very concept of peanut butter confounds them.

This week, Callaghan demonstrated the extent to which they don’t understand it.

It happened early one morning as I was getting ready for work.

About half the time, if I’m running late in the morning, Callaghan will help me get out the door by getting my food ready for the day. It’s a low-maintenance affair. He knows which foods I cycle through, so any combination of things he throws into the cloth lunch bag (very low-maintenance over here) makes me happy.

My go-to lunch is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread. It’s a balance of plant-based proteins, healthy fat, fruit and complex carbohydrates that works really well for me… plus, I love it. I always go for natural, creamy peanut butter – the kind that needs to be slowly, patiently stirred when it’s new – and jam with no added sugar. The rest of the bag can be filled with any combination of fruits, veggies, hummus, nuts, popcorn, blue corn tortilla chips, etc. I also keep a stash of various protein and energy bars in one of my big desk drawers at work. I basically graze all day.

 

There's always a jar of peanut butter in the fridge.

There’s always a jar of peanut butter in the fridge.

 

Usually, Callaghan will ask me if I need help getting the food together, or I’ll ask him for help if I’m running late.

Not on Wednesday this week, though, because I wasn’t late for work that morning. In fact, I was earlier than usual, enjoying a chill morning, leisurely doing my make-up while drinking coffee. I reveled in knowing I could take my time getting ready, put my food together afterward, and still get to work early.

(Side-note: Callaghan’s been taking me to work. I haven’t walked in a while. The persistent humidity of monsoon season ended that… I’m a wimp in humidity.)

So it was Wednesday morning, I was making great time, and I was just finishing getting ready when I heard the vague background hum of activity in the kitchen increase in decibels and segue into a familiar stream of profanities in French.

I heard Callaghan clearly punctuate a string of muttered words with one of his favorite obscenities: “putain d’enculé.”  Those were the only two words I heard, but they were enough to signal that something had gone awry. “Putain d’enculé” is French slang along the lines of “motherfucker.” (Not literally. The words actually mean something more like “fucking fucker.”)

What happened now? I thought, rushing down the hall to find out.

I got to the kitchen and found Callaghan covered in peanut butter.

I wish to all that is holy that I’d had the presence of mind to run for my phone so I could take a picture for you guys, but alas. You’ll have to use your imaginations.

Callaghan was standing at the kitchen sink holding one of my hand mixer beaters. It was dripping with thin, oily peanut butter. There was a full, large jar of peanut butter on the counter, which was splashed with peanut butter. The jar, itself, was spilling over with peanut butter.

There was peanut butter on the walls.

There was peanut butter all over everything I could see. It was all over the floor; an oily, brown patch glared up from the middle of the kitchen, partially smeared where Callaghan had started his attempt at cleaning it up. It wasn’t going well. Oil and water don’t mix.

As I stood in the doorway taking it all in, I realized that suddenly, just-like-that, I wasn’t ahead of schedule anymore. From the look of things, I was now going to be late.

But I couldn’t be annoyed, because I was too preoccupied a). trying to hold in the peals of laughter that were roiling up from my gut, b).  reminding myself that Callaghan had only been trying to help (not knowing that I didn’t need help that morning – but he didn’t ask, and I didn’t ask him!) c). wondering what, exactly, had happened, and why.

I knew he was doing something with peanut butter for me because obviously, he doesn’t eat it. I deduced from the bread sitting out that he’d planned to make me a sandwich. I wasn’t sure what was happening with the peanut butter, though. It seemed like his colossal mishap occurred with a brand-new jar, but I knew there was an open jar in the refrigerator, so why would he open a new jar?

“What happened?” I asked, genuinely confused.

“I don’t know! I was trying to mix the peanut butter! I thought it would go faster if I used the electric hand mixer!! It blew up in my face!! Putain d’enculé!!”

I lost my battle and held my stomach as I bent over laughing. The image he’d painted was killing me.

As we cleaned up the kitchen, I shared my personal method.

“I slowly, carefully stir the new peanut butter with a butter knife, and I do it the night before I want to eat it,” I said, “So it can thicken in the refrigerator overnight. Otherwise, it’s too liquidy.” A new jar of natural peanut butter is a solid mass with an inch or two of oil sitting on top. It’s not easy to mix without spilling it, even when mixing it slowly and carefully. It requires a degree of patience. I couldn’t even imagine the peanut butter carnage when he’d inserted the hand mixer and switched it on.

When I asked him why he opened a new jar when there was an open one already, he said, “I wanted you to have fresh peanut butter. The other jar is all hard at the bottom.”

See? I couldn’t be annoyed. He was too sweet! I shared another insider trick: when the jar is almost empty, take it out of the refrigerator and keep it at room temperature so the peanut butter left at the bottom can soften.

I don’t remember being taught these things. The complexities of peanut butter handling and maintenance must be instinctual for Americans, while they’re utterly lost on the French. Peanut butter is a language they simply do not speak.

 

Callaghan's face as it must have appeared mid-peanut butter apocalypse.

Callaghan’s face as it must have appeared mid-peanut butter apocalypse.

 

Callaghan put all of his clothes in the wash that same morning, but the oil stains from the peanut butter didn’t come out of his shorts… not even with the use of a pre-wash stain remover gel. They were ruined.

I guess you could look at the incident either as Callaghan getting his ass kicked by the peanut butter, or as the peanut butter getting brutally violated by hand mixer-wielding Callaghan. Each one could have said, “You should see the other guy.”

But in my opinion, the peanut butter won, if for no other reason than it made me late for work that day.

Callaghan vs. Nounours

Callaghan’s been embroiled in an ongoing struggle with Nounours ever since we brought the big guy home with Ronnie James to our Little House in the Rhône-Alpes in October 2012. It’s that ancient grievance of many a cat-parent: Kitty insists that you wake up when he wants you up, not when you wish to wake up. Sometimes, he wants you up long before you want to get up.

Some cats do this, some don’t. The Wrah-Wrah never did it. Nounours always has, and he mostly targets Callaghan. He doesn’t try it on me very often. When he does, he fails… I don’t get out of bed when Nounours demands it. Fortunately for me, I usually don’t even remember his efforts. I’m able to fall back asleep immediately if I’m abruptly woken up, which may or may not be attributed to the anti-anxiety medication I take before I go to bed. Whatever the case, Kristi – 300; Nounours – 0!

Callaghan – 0; Nounours – 732.

This has been Callaghan’s number one complaint in life for the last few years. If he had any hair on his head at all, he’d have long since ripped it out.

Every once in a while, he opens a discussion about what to do, meaning, he’ll tell me his ideas, and I’ll listen. His latest brainstorm was to shut Nounours in his studio/office with a bowl of water and a litter box.

“But I would ONLY do it at the time that he wakes me up,” he clarified. “Not before we go to bed. That way, he’ll know why he’s in there.”

That’s right… Nounours will know why he’s in there. He’s the Einstein of cats.

Callaghan cycles through phases of thinking that Nounours tries to wake him up because he’s hungry, but that theory always fades away in the face of evidence to the contrary.

1). Are the little bowls of dry food (“crunchies”) empty? –> Never. We always make sure they’re filled before we go bed.

2a). Does Nounours want his canned food breakfast? –> Maybe.

2b). If the answer to 2a is “yes”: Who feeds the cats their canned food breakfast? –> Mommy.

2c). Who does Nounours try to wake up? –> Daddy.

Theory blown.

My own theory is that poor Nounours tries to wake up Callaghan in order to verify that he’s still alive. Daddy has been lying in one position for 3 hours! Must make sure he’s not dead!!

He loves us both, but Callaghan is his favorite.

Nounours will wake up Callaghan by jumping on him. Or he’ll head-butt Callaghan’s face. Sometimes, he’ll sit on his face. Rounding off his repertoire, he’ll incessantly issue loud meows and yowls that reverberate throughout the house.

“He doesn’t stop! He won’t stop, and I can’t get back to sleep,” Callaghan grumbles. “So FINALLY, I get up.”

“But why…”

“As soon as I’m up? He lays down and goes to sleep! Why does he wake me up if he just goes to sleep once I’m up?!”

“Maybe he wants to make sure you’re still alive,” I suggest.

Some days, Callaghan is so wiped out from Nounours-related sleep deprivation that he’ll set about getting revenge. His favorite revenge strategy is to sneak up on Nounours during the day when he’s napping and pounce on him with his hands, doing his best Nounours imitation to “show him what it feels like”:

“Nouuuuuuuu-nours! Wake up! Wake UP, Nounours!” Callaghan sing-songs in Nounours’ ear, vigorously ruffling Nounours’ fur. “TIME TO WAKE UP!!”

I have photographic evidence of this, of course.

Before:

 

Pre-Callaghan Nounours, smooth and neat.

Pre-Callaghan Nounours, smooth and neat.

 

After:

 

Post-Callaghan Nounours, looking like a rug from the 70's.

Post-Callaghan Nounours, looking like a rug from the 70’s.

 

Callaghan’s logic is simple: “If I don’t get to sleep, then he doesn’t get to sleep.”

Nounours doesn’t respond to these random assaults on his slumber, though. At the most, he’ll crack open one eye, then close it again and resume sleeping. He is not phased. He is Nounours, laid-back to the point of obliviousness.

I try to help. I’ll sometimes intercept Nounours in the middle of the night if I’m semi-awake and he walks behind my head to get to Callaghan. I’ll grab him and hug him to my chest, and he’ll lay there purring for a while. I fall back asleep, though, and then Nounours continues on his way. Destination: Daddy.

“THANK YOU for protecting me, Baby,” Callaghan tells me the next day. I’m his bodyguard, protecting him from the big, lovable cuddle monster that is Nounours.

Callaghan did try putting Nounours in exile one time recently. He got up when Nounours jarred him awake, and he put him in his studio/office with a bowl of water and the litter box. He told me about it later, when I asked why there was a bowl of water in his office.

“It was just for half an hour, and then I let him out,” he told me, proud of himself. “And he didn’t meow at all after that!”

But the whole process was tedious, and the tedium mostly defeated the purpose.

We’ve since considered and ruled out several possible solutions. Then I went online to search for others. I came across some advice on an ASPCA page under the heading:

What to Do If Your Cat Keeps You Awake at Night   

In the penultimate bullet point, it’s suggested that “…you might need to shut him out of your bedroom at night. If he cries and scratches at the door, you can discourage him by…” They complete the sentence with several options, including the following:

“…you can set a ‘booby trap’ outside your door.” A booby trap?

“Try hanging your blow dryer off the bedroom door knob, or placing your vacuum cleaner five or six feet away from the door.” I’m imagining how the ominous sight of a vacuum cleaner might ward off a cat. But the blow dryer? Where are they going with this?

“Plug the dryer or vacuum into a remote switch (available from Radio Shack).” A mental image is starting to form.

“When your cat wakes you by meowing outside your door, you can hit a button on the remote to turn on the appliance.” I’m cracking up. I’m laughing so hard, I can hardly get the words out as I read them to Callaghan.

“Your startled cat probably won’t return to your door after that!” Concludes the paragraph. No kidding?

I’m a little surprised at the ASPCA for suggesting this; in my opinion, it would be a traumatic thing to happen to a kitty who only wants to be with the people who love him more than anyone in the world. Poor Nounours! The idea of setting a scary booby-trap for him after he’s already upset about being locked out of the bedroom really kind of breaks my heart. Callaghan says I’m too soft on Nounours, and maybe I am, but that’s why Daddy is the main disciplinarian. What a cliché are we.

 

Nounours and Callaghan, August 5, 2015

Nounours and Callaghan, August 5, 2015

 

Wrapping this up, I’ve got a new Nenette pic from the week:

 

Nenette gets sassier every day!

Nenette gets sassier every day!

 

Happy Friday, All!

Lost in Translation: L’Etat des Restos de Montréal.

Have you ever experienced an amusing “lost in translation” moment?

Let me preface mine with the assertion that I’m NOT making fun of Callaghan’s French accent. Honestly, I don’t even notice his accent most of the time, especially since some of our French friends’ accents are so thick that Callaghan’s is comparatively nonexistent (to my ears, at least). But there are times, usually when we’re with other people, when I realize that, yes, he does have an accent. Someone might ask him to repeat something, for instance, or something he says might be misinterpreted. This was the case when we went to my friend’s wedding last month.

We were sitting at a table with a few of my co-workers, as the bride was a friend from work. Callaghan wasn’t the only one with a foreign accent… we also had accents from Australia, Germany, and Ethiopia at our table. Such is the beauty of the States, right? So anyway, as conversation flowed lightly along, Callaghan mentioned that he’d heard about a new law up in Montréal. (It’s not uncommon for Montréal to come up in conversations with work friends, since our department maintains a strong historical, collaborative relationship with our Director’s former unit up there. It’s like our sister unit.)

“Apparently, in Montréal, they passed a law,” Callaghan told us. “Now it is illegal for a terrace to be across the street from a restaurant.”

Maybe it was the abruptness of his announcement that threw us off, along with the strangeness of the news and the quirkiness of his English as a Second Language syntax thrown into the mix… or maybe it was his pronunciation. Probably, it was a combination of all of the above that resulted in momentary confusion. On my part, while I thought I understood what he’d said, I was hesitant to believe it. Others at the table either didn’t hear him, didn’t understand him, or couldn’t grasp what he’d said. What ensued was a bombardment of demands for a repeat of the statement. We all needed clarification.

“Terraces can’t be across the street from restaurants in Montréal anymore,” Callaghan said.

There was a pause, and then, at the same time someone exclaimed, “I thought he said ‘terrorist’!” another person blurted, “WHAT? Montréal passed a law making it illegal for TERRORISTS to be across the street from a restaurant?”

Cue hilarity.

“No more terrorists across the street from restaurants in Montréal!!” exclaimed Callaghan. The rest of us were cracking up along with him.

“Calling all terrorists! You can no longer be across the street from a restaurant!” One guy boomed to an imaginary crowd of terrorists clamoring to get across the street from a restaurant in Montréal.

We couldn’t stop laughing, none of us, including me, and that was a blessing.

Because the date was May 16, and my beloved Wrah-Wrah hadn’t even been gone for 48 hours. When Callaghan and I walked into that wedding an hour earlier, I was in the worst possible place mentally and emotionally, utterly devastated and absolutely not in the mood to go anywhere or see anyone… but I wasn’t about to miss my friend’s wedding. She and I had been talking excitedly about her big day for a year, and there was no way I was going to fail to show up!

To complicate things further, Wrah-Wrah’s ashes had been brought to our door as we were getting ready for the wedding, so minutes before leaving, I was standing in the middle of the living room with his little urn held close to my heart, thinking, How am I going to get through a social event right now?

The answer was in the question. It was the social event that got me through the rest of the day, and that absurd and perversely funny “lost in translation” episode was a big part of it. I found myself reflecting on the keen truth of the cliché that laughter is the best medicine. A few moments of bubbling mirth that evening had granted me a much-needed respite from emotional pain, if only fleetingly.

It was also a blessing to be able to sideline my grief while focusing on the celebration of someone else’s pivotal life event, and sharing the experience with a fun group of people helped tremendously. I mean, it’s impossible to not smile and laugh while holding hands with others and running through the room during the Mexican wedding dance, let me tell you! Mexican weddings are good fun, and it was just a joy to see my friend looking so radiant and happy.

And what of that strange new law in Montréal? It turns out that Callaghan wasn’t remembering it correctly, anyway… the crux of the law is actually the space on the sidewalk between the terrace and the street, which Montréal says should be a meter and a half to allow for wheelchair passage. We had a case of a telephone game mix-up merging with linguistic misinterpretations! And that’s how you get from wheelchair sidewalk access to “no terrorists allowed in front of restaurants in Montréal.” Human communications can be a riot when there’s a glitch in the lines.

Speaking of terraces, Callaghan (being French) refers to our back patio as a terrace (la terrasse); the other day, we rearranged our small signage collection out there and hung our handy zombie warning sign prominently in the center of the main wall (with a nod to my zombie experience last week):

 

It should say, "TERRASSE INTERDITE AUX ZOMBIES" (NO ZOMBIES ALLOWED ON THE TERRACE)

It should say, “TERRASSE INTERDITE AUX ZOMBIES” (NO ZOMBIES ALLOWED ON THE TERRACE)

 

Like this:

 

To match the "NO DOGS ALLOWED ON THE GRASS" sign beneath it.

To match the “NO DOGS ALLOWED ON THE GRASS” sign beneath it.

 

I’ve always enjoyed this sign, but I have a whole new appreciation for it now.

The Breakfast Club according to Callaghan (or, the seven stages of Callaghan during The Breakfast Club).

thatasianlookingchick.com-thebreakfastclub

Last week, it suddenly came to my attention that Callaghan, who’s almost my age and therefore spent his teen years in the 80’s, like I did, had never seen the movie The Breakfast Club. It was a remarkable revelation that made me blink in wonderment. How could he have escaped The Breakfast Club? Moreover, how could I not have known that the person I’d been with for five years had never seen The Breakfast Club? I never felt any particularly intense passion for the film, but all this time, I’ve duly acknowledged it as one of the most important films of that decade. Like it or not, The Breakfast Club largely defined the pop culture landscape of the 80’s, and it just never occurred to me that anyone could be ignorant of this, even if you’re French. Being a French person in France was no excuse for not knowing The Breakfast Club, especially since the most popular movies in France at the time were other American movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. I was nonplussed.

It was like that time I found out Callaghan had never seen Fatal Attraction. I’d just assumed that anyone would get any and all references to deranged jilted lovers boiling bunnies, until a certain episode of Hart of Dixie happened and the truth came out. Callaghan may have passed the test to earn U.S. citizenship, but obviously, the test is lacking.

Anyway, last week, we were watching “The Runaway Club,” the most recent episode of Bob’s Burgers. The episode opened as a Breakfast Club parody, complete with a parody of the Simple Minds song, which instantly had me cracking up, which led to Callaghan looking at me quizzically, which led to my realization that Callaghan had no insight to the joke, which he confirmed upon being questioned. Yes, this was a grave matter, and it demanded serious questioning.

So on Saturday night, we sat down to watch The Breakfast Club. We were righting a wrong, and besides, I was curious to see how someone would react to the movie three decades after its release! (The movie came out in 1985. I graduated from high school in 1987. Callaghan graduated in 1989. There was no way he was getting out of seeing the movie once I found out he hadn’t seen it.)

Below, I’ve provided a run-down of Callaghan’s responses, which – unbeknownst to him – I recorded in real time.

Stage One: He’s bored and on the verge of falling asleep.

“Baby, so far this is extremely boring.” (Five minutes in)

(in spite of himself, he laughs at something Bender says)

Stage Two: He starts paying attention.

“Huh. She reminds me of Edward Scissorhands.” (looking at Molly Ringwald)

Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club on the left. Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club on the left. Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Stage Three: He accepts the reality that the whole movie takes place at the school.

“Seriously? The whole movie is about this scene?”

Stage Four: He gets drawn into it.

(laughs at something Bender does)

(laughs when Ally Sheedy throws the lunch meat in the air and it sticks to the sculpture)

“Did she just squeal?” (about a sudden, high-pitched noise made by Ally Sheedy)

Stage Five: He’s now totally into it.

(laughs at Bender crawling above the ceiling)

(laughs at Bender looking at Molly Ringwald’s crotch under the desk)

(laughs when everyone’s getting stoned)

“They made her look like Ozzy Osbourne.” (looking at Ally Sheedy)

Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club on the left. Ozzy Osbourne on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club on the left. Ozzy Osbourne on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Stage Six: He’s now a part of it.

“Heheh, I thought exactly that!” (when Ally Sheedy says that her parents ignored her)

(laughs at Vernon saying to the janitor, “Do you think I give one rat’s ass what these kids think of me?”)

(laughs when Bender says to Molly Ringwald that a girl is only a tease if what she does get you hot)

(laughs at something Ally Sheedy says)

“Yeah, that’s the exact opposite of Bender’s.” (When Emilio Estevez describes his dad)

(laughs at something Bender says to Anthony Michael Hall, who’s talking about failing shop)

“She’s going to put her tongue up her nose!” (about Molly Ringwald, who instead applied lipstick with her bra)

“SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?” (Callaghan shouts at Bender)

Stage Seven: He becomes an astute observer.

“It’s funny that Brian is way taller than all of them.” (When the three guys are dancing to “We are Not Alone” in the dance scene in the library)

The End.

So, what have we learned from this?

Callaghan’s conclusion: “That was cool. It took a little time to go somewhere, but that was really cool. That’s a movie they could make a re-make of. I mean, watching this, of course, we know it was there. That was us in high school. Not that kids in high school today are any different, but they have phones… I mean, they’re different today. But that’s why they should do a remake. Things are different today.”

My conclusion:  I never realized before that to me, at least, Bender and Vernon are the only character-characters in the movie. In my notes, I called them “Bender” and “Vernon,” while I referred to the other actors by their actual names.

I loved the Bob’s Burgers parody, by the way, even though plot-wise, “The Runaway Club” strayed from The Breakfast Club pretty far between the opening and ending of the episode. Excellent tribute!

The Breakfast Club - dancing in the library

The Breakfast Club – dancing in the library

The dance scene parody in the end credits of Bob's Burgers "The Runaway Club"

The dance scene parody in the end credits of Bob’s Burgers “The Runaway Club”

Thank you to Callaghan for taking part in my sociological experience watching the movie with me. I know you weren’t into it at first, so I’m glad you ended up enjoying it!

On that note – Happy 30th Anniversary, The Breakfast Club! We agree that you’re basically timeless.

Chili Pete strikes again.

Our trip to France gave me a good opportunity to strengthen my French a little. I enjoy learning new words, slang words, like “la thune” (money) and “les potes” (friends). I’d already known those two particular words, but it was cool to hear them in the flow of other peoples’ casual conversations.

Speaking of French slang, right before we left for our trip, Callaghan had a dubious moment of discovery about his online (Facebook) identity. He was talking to one of his French clients on the phone and hung up with a strange look on his face. His expression fell somewhere between chagrin and despondence.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I just realized something,” he said. “I was talking to Patrick at the bug shop, and this other guy Marc was there, and Patrick told him that if he’s looking for me, he can just look on Facebook for ‘Chili Pete’ – ” He paused.

“And?”

“He said ‘Chili Pete’,” he repeated, exaggerating the “Pete” part.

But he pronounced it the way it would be pronounced in French: “Pet.” Because “pète” is, in fact, a French slang word, and Patrick is French, so when he sees “pete,” of course he’s going to say it the French way. “Pet.” Even without the accent. Which means –

“Chili farts,” Callaghan grumbled. “‘Chili Pete’ means Chili farts in French!”

That would be “farts” as in the verb. Poor Callaghan… he looked like his world crumbled with the realization that his Facebook username is “Chili farts” in French, yet he laughed with me when I busted up laughing, so obviously he wasn’t too upset about it. And that was good, since I was the reason his name got changed to “Chili Pete” in the first place. (It’s a long story that some of you may remember… it started because of an inside joke about a mistake in an ophthalmologist’s notes.)

Just out of curiosity, I went to Babylon.com and plugged in “pete,” sans accent. I wanted to see if it would pick up the slang, and it did:

thatasianlookingchick.com-CaptureChiliPete4

Incidentally, “pete” was also a slang term I’d heard before, but I didn’t know it was spelled like Pete. Now I know!

Callaghan's Facebook banner.

Callaghan’s Facebook banner.

ALSO, while we’re looking at Chili Pete’s Facebook banner, I should just add that he loves taking pics of the word “bite” whenever he sees it, because it’s French slang for “dick.” Usually, the word “bite” appears on food packaging and advertisements in grocery stores, which creates rich hunting grounds for linguistic dick jokes.

On that note, now that I’ve somehow managed to touch on both dick and fart jokes in French, it’s time for me to turn my attention to work. Happy Friday, all! =)

I vetted these dill pickles so you wouldn’t have to.

First things first… happy birthday to Callaghan, my excellent partner in crime and goofball extraordinaire!

Welcome to a new week in my little life, where the superficial issue du jour concerns… pickles. Dill pickles. Naturally, I thought, Who better to commiserate with me than everyone who reads this blog? 

Dill pickles, which I’ve always loved, were one of many foods that stoked my gustatory homesickness while I lived in France. No matter where we went in that beautiful country, I couldn’t find any dills, and the more I couldn’t find them, the more I wanted them. There seems to be only one kind of pickle over there; the French cornichon is more tart than sour, and its dominant flavor is more tarragon than dill. Unfortunately, I dislike the flavor of tarragon. I missed the kosher dill pickles I’d taken for granted in the States. (Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing any kind of Jewish food in France, including bagels. I’d searched for bagels in vain, too.)

Since I grew up in a house that had a jar of Claussen pickles permanently installed in the refrigerator, Claussen had been my favorite brand of mass-produced dill pickles. But now, I read food labels, so now, I have problems with not only Claussen, but all the dill pickles, apparently.

This brings me to Exhibit A:

 

The current dill pickle situation at our house.

The current dill pickle situation at our house.

 

These are the jars of dill pickles in our refrigerator right now. Yes. There are four different brands of pickles because that’s how many times it took for me to remember to read the damn labels in the store, before buying them. That’s how not used to reading pickle jar labels I’d been. Now that chemicals are a food group in and of themselves, you have to read ALL the labels. My innocence has been destroyed.

Let’s break it down from left to right, looking at the ingredients lists’ highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be):

1). Claussen Kosher Dill Wholes. What’s wrong with them: High Fructose Corn Syrup, “natural flavor.” Major problem: “Dill” does not appear on the ingredients label.

–The words “Contains less than 2% of” prefaces the part of the list that begins with “High Fructose Corn Syrup,” but as far as I’m concerned, HFCS is HFCS, and I strenuously avoid it. I might eat other kinds of junk, but I’m selective about the junk I eat, and one thing I don’t do is cross the HFCS line, ever, if I can possibly help it. It’s basically a poison that causes a chemical chain reaction in your body that leads to visceral belly fat. Want to know how it is that I’m 46 and I eat my fair share of junk and I have minimal belly fat? I avoid HFCS. (Okay, I also work out 4x/week, drink tons of water, avoid alcohol, get as much sleep as I can, and eat more healthy stuff than junk, but still, avoiding HFCS is key.)

–I read somewhere that “natural flavor” comes from either an insect or a gland in the nether regions of a non-human mammal. Either way, pickles with “natural flavor” instead of dill = gross pickles.

Number of ingredients: 13, and this is another issue for me. I’d prefer fewer ingredients on my dill pickle jar label, thanks!

2). Trader Joe’s Kosher Dill Pickles. What’s wrong with them: “Natural flavorings (dill, garlic).” There it is again! Natural flavor. These pickles are slightly better than the Claussen brand because the word “dill” does appear on the ingredients label…

–However, “dill” is merely sub-listed as a parenthetical ingredient after “natural flavoring,” which says to me that “natural flavoring” either includes other things that aren’t explicitly mentioned, OR the “natural flavoring” components are made to imitate the flavors of dill and garlic. Imposters.

–If dill and garlic are actual ingredients, then why not just list them as actual ingredients? SUSPICIOUS.

Number of ingredients: 9 (counting “natural flavoring” as one).

3). Vlasic Kosher Dill Spears. What’s wrong with them: “Natural flavor” (!) and “yellow 5.”

–Again, no dill in the dill pickles. WTF. The telling factor here is the label on the side that boasts “Classic Dill TASTE” – the “taste” written just like that, all in caps. Not real dill, just the taste of dill. At least they’re honest.

–Yellow 5 in pickles? SUSPICIOUS AND SCARY.

Number of ingredients: 8… and 50% of them are chemicals and “natural flavors.” Welcome to the pickle graveyard, Vlasic.

Finally, we arrive at my favorite:

4). Don Hermann & Sons Kosher Dill Pickles (“cloudy brine assures fresh packed.”). What’s wrong with them: Nothing seems to be wrong with these pickles, health-wise.  Also, they’re scrumptious. In a blind taste test conducted by Callaghan, I liked these the best by far.

–The only eyebrow-raising ingredient is the first one. It’s “pickles,” which throws me off because why not “cucumbers” as the first, main ingredient (like the Claussen and Vlasic), or “gherkins” (like the Trader Joe’s)? How can you use something as an ingredient that is itself? Don’t you have to start with naked cucumbers or gherkins? I’m confused. But we’re going to give Don Hermann & Sons the benefit of the doubt and assume they mean naked cucumbers or gherkins.

Number of ingredients: 5. Only five ingredients! “Pickles (?), salt, dill, garlic, pickling spices.” Okay, so “pickling spices” could include a hundred different varieties, and if I’m going to be super nit-picky, I’d be more annoyed by the vagueness there. But I’m biased by how incredibly good these pickles are, and also by the absence of vinegar, which indicates that the pickles are naturally fermented.

Don Hermann & Sons. These dill pickles are as good as you’re going to get short of making your own or getting some via bartering with an Amish farmer.

–But.

Ironically, the virtues of these pickles also make them unworkable for me. The problem with these delicious dill pickles is that you can’t them take anywhere, unless you don’t mind the whole world knowing that you have them. I tried bringing one to work one day, and it turned into a fiasco.

Packing up my food that morning, I put one of these pickles in a small Ziploc bag, making sure that it was sealed tight. The bag went into one of my cloth lunch bags, and that went into another, similar cloth lunch bag… so I left home with a tripled-bagged pickle, among other things. When I got to work, I put the whole shebang in the corner of my office, as usual.

All morning, all I could smell was the garlicky dill pickle. It was a good smell, but it was absolutely not a smell I wanted in my office. This isn’t going to work, I thought to myself. Must move the pickle. I took the cloth bag that contained the Ziploc’d pickle and put it in the communal refrigerator. But then I remembered how the scent of the pickles hit me in the face when I opened the refrigerator door at home that morning, and as I was working, I kept thinking of that.

Eventually, guilt drove me back to the communal kitchen. I opened the refrigerator door, and sure enough, the boisterous pickle smell rushed out. I took the pickle outside and put it in the trash because I didn’t know what to do with it at that point. Not only was there nowhere to store it in a courteous way, but by then, I was also convinced that if I ate the pickle, I’d smell like it for the rest of the day.

Thus, I still can’t have dill pickles… while I’m at work. I’m keeping the delicious Don Hermann & Sons pickles for weekend enjoyment. The other three jars will go to a food bank.

La Fin.

Nighttime Routine on the Fast Track.

No matter what I do, Callaghan is always in bed before me, and it’s perplexing. Granted, my nighttime routine is a bit more involved than his, but even when I start getting ready long before he does, he’s ready first, and I just have no idea how. It is one those Great Mysteries of Life.

It’s not like I drag my feet, either. I hurry through my routine as much as possible.

The other night, I was SO SURE I was going to be ready for bed first. When I was brushing my teeth, he was just then putting eye drops in his eyes and taking out his contacts. For once, I was ahead! I’m light years ahead, I gloated inwardly… not that it’s a race or anything, of course.

Somehow, he still got to bed before I did, and by the time I got there, he was looking all relaxed, as usual, which flummoxes me even more. It’s as if he’d been waiting there for a while. It doesn’t help that he has a look on his face like he’s swinging in a hammock with a Piña Colada in his hand, whistling and whiling away the time while I’m getting ready. Womp, womp.

Finally, I decided to look at both of our routines in detail to see if I could pinpoint where I’m falling behind. Here they are – they’re roughly sequenced, but you get the general idea:

My Nighttime Routine

1). Take medication.

2). Bring a full glass of water to set on my nightstand.

3). Plug in my phone and set the phone’s alarm for the next morning.

4). Pee.

5). (Sunday and Tuesday nights only) Pack gym bag and set it by the front door.

6). Remove make-up (unless I already took a shower – see #9).

7). Floss.

8). Brush teeth and put in retainers.

9). Take a shower or wash face. (It depends. On gym days and some other days, I take a full shower earlier in the evening or at bedtime. If I don’t take a shower, I just wash my face and then shower in the morning. We’re generally night-showerers, though.)

10). Put on eye cream.

11). Mist face with water.

12). Put on night cream.

13). Pee again.

14). Put on lip balm.

15). Go around the house and turn out whatever lights are on.

16). Drink the water I’d set on the nightstand. (Water does magical things to your skin, so I drink a lot of it, including that all-important bedtime glass for hydration during sleep. I can’t be the only weird person who does this, right?)

COMPARE TO:

Callaghan’s Nighttime Routine 

1). Prepare coffee and set it on a timer for automatic brewing in the morning.

2). Put in eye drops.

3). Remove contacts.

4). Clean contacts and put them back in their case.

5). Floss or use the water-pick (it depends on the day).

6). Brush teeth.

7). Take shower.

And that’s it.

Okay, I’m sure he uses the bathroom at some point before going to bed, too, because who doesn’t? No one enjoys being woken up by a full bladder at 2:30am. I empty mine as much as possible before drinking that last glass of water, and I can coast through a full night of sleep until the alarm goes off.

Anyway, I can see from these written-out routines that a). Callaghan’s routine has half the number of steps than mine, and b). I do a lot of running around as I’m getting ready for bed. Start in the kitchen (meds), then go to the bedroom (water/phone/alarm), then go to the hallway bathroom (remove make-up), then go to the master bathroom (dental routine), then go back to the hallway bathroom (wash face) OR stay in the master bath and take a shower, then go to my office (night moisturizing routine – I do my make-up in that room, so that’s where all that stuff lives), then go back to one of the bathrooms (pee), then go back to the bedroom (lip balm), then go to the front of the house (turn out lights), then go back to the bedroom (crash).

See the difference? MYSTERY SOLVED.

Me:

Kitchen –> bedroom –> hallway bathroom –> master bathroom –> hallway bathroom –> my office –> one of the bathrooms –> bedroom –> living room/dining room –> bedroom.

Callaghan:

Kitchen –> master bathroom –> bedroom.

And I didn’t even include all the extra running around I do after Ronnie James, who, during this whole process, enjoys leading me back and forth between his food area in the kitchen (where he gets special nurturing and kisses while he’s eating) and the master bathroom (where he gets on the sink and asks me to turn on the faucet so he can drink from the running water while getting cuddled. Such are the benefits of being The Wrah-Wrah).

Here’s a handy visual that Callaghan gleefully prepared:

 

Callaghan had way too much fun with this.

Callaghan had way too much fun with this.

 

If I had one of those fitness tracker bracelet things, it would probably show that I clock in 10,000 paces every night, just getting ready for bed. If I had to summarize my nighttime routine in four words, it’d be “racing around the house.” It actually IS a race, and no matter how early I start or how quickly I get ready, I will always lose.

To end on a pleasant note, here’s a picture of me this morning, being happy that it’s FTS Friday:

 

Friday morning selfie with the Wrah-Wrah!

Friday morning selfie with the Wrah-Wrah!

 

Happy Friday, All! =)

Gym Rats: There’s a new poster child for calves-training in town.

It’s surprising how a simple virus can change your body in just a few days.

When I concern myself with my weight at all, I look at it through the lens of the combat sports weight class system. I just prefer to view my body as a tool, as in, what can my body do for me? Could I defend myself using my own body? From this perspective, I dropped from the Jr. Bantam class to Jr. Flyweight within a week, just from being sick. What’s more, I’ve been eating normally for five days now, and I’m still in Jr. Fly. Is this just my new weight class? Should I start re-imagining my fantasy opponents?

But returning to the questions What can my body do for me? Could I defend myself using my own body?  I’ve got my goals set for 2015: I want to make my body stronger, and I want it to be better-versed on the ground. I’ll try to find a place in my schedule for some kind of strength-training, as well as for some basic submission training and practice. I feel like I need to work on the basics. Also, getting stronger will get me my lost poundage back, I’m sure.

Callaghan’s been mapping out his training goals for 2015, too. I’d known that he was borderline obsessed with the whole process, but I didn’t realize to what extent until we were at the movie theatre a couple of weeks ago. Actually, it was on my birthday. We were standing in the lobby when I noticed that he was distracted as I was talking to him.

“Sorry,” he said when he noticed me noticing. “I was mesmerized.” Naturally, I turned to look at the object of his attention. The only thing I saw was this promotional display:

 

thatasianlookingchick-spongebobmovie

 

It took a few seconds.

“SpongeBob?”

“His physique,” Callaghan explained.

I looked at the display again. Then I started laughing. Then I started taking pictures. Because Callaghan was too “mesmerized” by SpongeBob SquarePants to pay attention to what I’d been saying, and come on, how many people can say that about their partners? My husband wasn’t listening to me because he was mesmerized by SpongeBob’s physique.

Later, downloading the pics onto my laptop, something caught my eye as I flipped through them. I looked closer, and suddenly, it all make sense! There it was in all its glory… Callaghan’s biggest gym pet peeve:

 

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SKIP LEG DAY, SPONGEBOB.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SKIP LEG DAY, SPONGEBOB.

 

Callaghan must have been looking at the proportion of SpongeBob’s legs – especially his calves – to the rest of his body!

I was gleeful with my discovery. I went back to him with the pics.

“Were you mesmerized by SpongeBob’s non-existent calves?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“Or were you just mesmerized by his ripped upper body?”

“I was mesmerized by his non-existent calves. Actually, no, I was mesmerized by his ripped upper body. I didn’t even see his calves!”

Okay, well. Whatever. All I have to say is, once again, my partner is weirder than yours.

And SpongeBob SquarePants is now the official poster child for not skipping leg day… especially calves!

You want to know what mesmerized me over the holidays? Iggy Azalea performing “Fancy” with Charli XCX on New Year’s Eve:

 

 

How’s that for random?

Is there a medieval dentist in the house?

There’s been an ongoing drama rattling quietly behind the closed doors of our domestic life these last few weeks, rattling like strings of dried-out teeth from an old skeleton. I would tell you all about it, except that it must remain hush-hush (for privacy reasons, I’m not allowed to talk about it).

Yes, a moratorium has been placed on all public discussion of said drama, but I can say that I’ve arrived at a conclusion based on all related events. I didn’t just casually arrive at this conclusion, either…  I was forcibly propelled to it by simple logic. Sorry. I’m being vague, I know, and it seems unfair that I can tell you the punch-line as long as you don’t know the joke. But I do want to share the punch-line, because I’m resigned to the reality of it, and this has been no small feat.

The only possible answer to the gigantic WTF that’s engulfed the last few weeks is… Callaghan was an evil dentist in a past life.

Supporting my theory is the fact of Callaghan’s sinister antique dentist cabinet, which still lurks at the back of la bergerie on the property in France. The dentist cabinet. I wrote elaborately about it, as some of you may remember:

…it occurred to us to peek inside the beat-up old antique metal dentist cabinet that Callaghan accidentally got from a dentist office in Antibes. (Yes, by accident. It’s long story.)

 

NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

 

I’d always thought there was something creepy about this dentist cabinet. The cabinet’s wide, shallow drawers had come filled with all sorts of little instruments and drills – dentistry’s accoutrements of bygone times – that Callaghan had removed for use on various projects. It could be, we thought, that the missing screws had made their way into those empty drawers at some point.  Ghostly, pain-inflicting screws, I couldn’t help but think. I peered over Callaghan’s shoulder with a bit of trepidation; it wouldn’t have surprised me if the dentist cabinet turned out to hold supernatural properties, transforming everyday objects into tiny medieval torture instruments. Contents of its drawers were not to be trusted.

The first thing you’ll notice when reading this excerpt (other than the fact that I clearly had more time to write back then) is that this mysterious dentist cabinet came to reside with Callaghan “by accident.” To which I now say, knowing what I know from these past few weeks, that there are no accidents. That dentist cabinet deliberately came home to Callaghan, who, in his present iteration of being, hasn’t been able to brush the remnants of his past evil dentist-hood off his aura. “Paybacks are a bitch,” my friends. This is karma.

Poor Callaghan. At least now that we know the root of the problem, we know that what he needs is a shaman, not a dentist, as someone astutely pointed out. Yes, others, too, have noted that the only explanation for the epic f*ckery we’ve experienced recently has to be that he was an evil dentist in a past life; that’s how absurdly obvious it is!

(Note to self: Google “shamans who specialize in past-life sadistic dentistry of the medieval persuasion.” That should get us somewhere.

Calf Encounters of the Third Kind.

Wednesday night after Body Combat class, I met Callaghan out on the floor, as per usual. [Side note: have I mentioned that I’m doing Body Combat class three times a week now, since our gym changed its group fitness schedule and replaced Wednesday night Boot Camp with another Body Combat? I love the extra Body Combat, of course, and the instructor is excellent, but “Find another way to get someone to kick my ass with a varied workout combining strength-training, compound exercises, plyometrics and cardio on a weekly basis during a day/time slot that works with my existing schedule” has since been a lingering, problematic item on my “To Do” list. I had relied completely on that weekly Boot Camp class for strength training, and one thing I’d especially appreciated was that the class was different every time. No two Boot Camp classes were the same, so your body never knew what was coming, and therefore, it couldn’t plateau. Plus, that instructor was excellent, as well.]

[Additional side note: Word did not recognize the word “plyometrics” when I keyed it in just now. This, I believe, points to a deplorable deficit in our system somewhere. I mean, what does it say about us as a society when Word doesn’t recognize “plyometrics,” other than the obvious conclusion that the people who develop that software must not work out?]

[Another additional side note: due to a recurring rib injury I was nursing at the time, I wasn’t even able to attend the last two Boot Camp classes, so I didn’t know it was going away until it was gone. I was still attending Body Combat because there I could power through the pain to the best of my ability and simply avoid the weight-bearing (push-ups) part at the end, but there was no point in attempting Boot Camp class at all with that injury.]

Anyway, so I met up with Callaghan – he lifts weights while I’m in class on Wednesday evenings – and as we walked out through the parking lot, he suddenly remembered he had something to tell me.

“Oh I talked to John tonight!” he blurted.

“John? John who?” I was thinking, John? Jean? Who is he talking about?

“JOHN, the Beautiful Calves Man,” he answered, leaving a silent “duh!” hanging at the end.

“Oh.”

“He told me that he’s a massage therapist,” he informed me.

“So are you going to get a massage from him?”

“Oh yes,” he said. “Actually, I’m going to ask him if I can massage his calves.”

We laughed at his joke. But I had to follow up.

“To see if they’re real?”

“I’m sure they’re real,” he replied. “Why would he put so much work into his body and then get fake calves?”

I went online last night in search of a video about calf implants, figuring I should educate myself. This was the first one I found:

 

 

So clearly, there’s a niche of jokes about calf implants out there. In a weird way, though, the video gives me additional impetus to find time for another gym session each week. I’ll have to give this challenge some serious consideration.

Meanwhile, Happy Friday!

Fun with sleep deprivation.

I’ve been more scarce than usual online these last two weeks, and I haven’t been sleeping as much as I should. This has less to do with the rooster named Moe next door and more to do with the fact that I’m semi-obsessed with unpacking the whole house within a ridiculous (self-imposed) time-frame.

One consequence of not getting enough sleep is a tendency to see things, as in, to look at something and see something else. I’ve been taking quite a few second and third looks lately, checking to see if what I’m seeing is really what I’m seeing.

The other day, I stepped outside and saw this:

 

Callaghan fiddling with the backyard sprinklers.

Callaghan fiddling with the backyard sprinklers.

 

After I realized that Callaghan was trying to troubleshoot a broken sprinkler, I went to grab my phone. He was so intent on figuring out the problem that he wasn’t aware that I was taking pictures as he adjusted the stream of water. He thought I was just being weird, laughing for no reason. (I can’t imagine why he’d think that.)

 

He didn't get why I was laughing...

He didn’t get why I was laughing…

 

Then there was the time I spotted a questionable box in a jewelry store, tucked away behind the counter. This was on Friday afternoon, when I finally – finally! – had an opportunity to take my watch in to get the battery replaced. (I cannot tell you what an immense relief it was to address this issue. My watch had been dead for almost two weeks, and it was maddening to reflexively glance at my wrist fifty times a day only to see “5:20” every time.)

So I’m standing there and my eyes wander behind the counter, and this is what I see on the floor behind the sales representative:

 

Alarming discovery in the jewelry store.

Alarming discovery in the jewelry store.

 

…a box containing a puppy in 14 pieces, “country of origin CHINA.”

The jewelry store lady didn’t see the humor in it, but how was I supposed to know that a jewelry store was using stuffed animals for promotional (or whatever) purposes, especially when there were no stuffed animals in sight?

Then there’s this:

 

This trio of characters is the first thing I see when I walk into work every day.

This trio of characters is the first thing I see when I walk into work every day.

 

This scene changes every day, sometimes several times a day. I never know what I’m going to see when I walk in.

Have a great Tuesday, All!