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!

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.

Lights Out. (Non-review movie review! No spoilers.)

We went to see Lights Out two Fridays ago, which happened to be the night of our first major monsoon storm of the season.

It was daylight when we went in, and darkness with rain, booming thunder, and flashing light when we went out. The movie had been darkness and flashing light, too. All kinds of light. Flickering light, steady light, florescent light, candlelight, black light, light bulbs, headlights, stage lights, overhead lights, lamp lights, cell phone light, you name it.

 

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Lights Out is an old-school horror film that benefits from its uncomplicated plot, one part jump scares and one part jittery suspense. (In another dimension, one part atmosphere, one part sound design, both exquisitely crafted.) (In yet another dimension that’s irrelevant, no part award-winning acting.)

We didn’t care about the acting, and we didn’t care much about plot, although the plot in this film isn’t badly lacking. We just cared about being spooked by the monster as we sat ensconced in the dark theater.

See, in this movie, you don’t know when the lights will go out, and the first thing you learn is that when the lights go out, scary things happen. Lights Out preys on – or resurrects – our fear of the dark. It’s a simple premise, and that’s why it works.

Rather than wasting time and effort trying to impress us with plot complexity, character development, and CGI effects, the film teaches us how to react. It lends a coat of paranoia to each interior scene, each room, confining tension within the walls. The attention paid to the integrity of each scene maintains the mood, and I appreciated this consistency. There we were in a house that seemed real, with lighting that seemed real (not forced, as props as central motif can seem), holding our breath the whole time. Lights Out is back-to-basics, monster-under-the-bed horror, enjoyable and making no apologies for its lack of embellishments.

I found the monster in Lights Out to be satisfying, too. It’s scary because it’s elemental. It’s unencumbered by CGI overload, devoid of the cheesiness that often ruins the spook potential of contemporary horror movie evil entities.

To make my conclusion as simple as the movie itself: Lights Out is an entertaining horror movie.

 

L’Hôpital d’Antibes – Silent Hill (with a touch of American Horror Story: Asylum).

Back in Arizona as of last night!  This morning, I woke up after sleeping for 3 hours out of the last 31. It always takes my body a few days to resolve east to west jet-lag across 8 time zones. Luckily, the weekend starts tomorrow.

So, France. We had a good visit with everyone despite the somber circumstances. In an extension of “funerals bring people together,” I got to meet several of Callaghan’s cousins from his Mom’s side, even though Papy was his father’s father.

One of the cousins had her baby the day of the service. The next day, I went with Callaghan, his sister, and his mother to visit her at the hospital in Antibes.

Little did I know.

Walking into the hospital, I had no reason to suspect that the place wouldn’t resemble any other hospital, medical clinic, or urgent care center. You know what I mean… a place brightly lit and charged with the hectic energy of people working and visiting, information desks and nurses’ stations, and the background noise of beeping, clicking, and clanging sounds… machines, doors opening and closing, patients shuffling down the hall with their I.V. poles, people talking, phones ringing, alarms, voices over the announcement system… normal hospital sights and sounds.

Even the quieter hospital areas feature sounds and human activity of some kind.

Naturally, I was taken aback when I found myself in a hospital that resembled the abandoned hospital in the horror video game Silent Hill. 

First, the interior of the hospital opened to a vast, cold emptiness.

 

Hospital lobby/foot traffic area... ?

Hospital lobby/foot-traffic area… ?

 

Hello?

Hello?

 

It was so quiet, you could hear an ant yawning.

It was so quiet, you could hear an ant yawning.

 

It was surreal. So silent, and so very strange.

 

Another deserted hallway

Another deserted hallway

 

Where is everyone? Why is it so quiet? What’s wrong with this picture?

Let me explain about Silent Hill. I generally don’t play video games. Silent Hill was the exception years ago because when I looked over my then-boyfriend’s shoulder and saw that the game he was playing was a 3D survival-horror-type deal with an eerie atmosphere, it hooked me, of course. You know how I can’t resist the thrill of any kind of horror! Silent Hill sucked me in. Next thing I knew, I was up playing it in the dark in the dead of night, every night… because 2:00AM is the best time to maximize the game’s creeptastic effects.

The game’s intriguing narrative involved an old hospital in the abandoned town of Silent Hill.

I felt like I was in the game.

It was bizarre how the inside of Callaghan’s cousin’s room seemed normal, with the right people stationed in the right places – mother and newborn in the bed, baby daddy and visiting family members standing around – but when we left and walked back through the hospital and it was still unnaturally quiet, dimly lit, and devoid of human life, I found myself listening for the spooky static noise forewarning of approaching malevolent creatures.

 

Yet another deserted hallway

Yet another deserted hallway

 

There wasn’t even a nurses’ station in sight of the maternity ward! There was literally nothing and no one. A nurse did come into the room briefly while we were visiting, but where she came from was a mystery.

I found an evacuation plan posted on a wall in a (deserted) general area. Who was there to evacuate, exactly? At that point, everything about the hospital seemed sinister to me.

 

Hospital evacuation plan

Hospital evacuation plan

 

I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the hollow corridors on our way out. Callaghan and his sister jumped in to photo-bomb the pics.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-HospitalAntibes_interior6

 

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(Maman joined in on the monster act, cracking up with the rest of us, but I’m not posting her pic because I know she wouldn’t be okay with it.)

Impressed with the interior’s resemblance to Silent Hill’s hospital, I rushed out to give the hospital’s exterior a good look as we headed back to the car, since I’d been oblivious going in.

I swear the only missing elements from the game were snow and monster birds swooping in to attack us.

Here’s the exterior:

 

Hospital in Antibes

Hospital in Antibes

 

And here’s the hospital in Silent Hill:

 

Hospital in Silent Hill

Hospital in Silent Hill

 

Right?!

In fact, the hospital in Silent Hill looks less creepy than this one in Antibes, on the outside, at least.

 

Hospital in Antibes

Hospital in Antibes

 

Hospital in Antibes

Hospital in Antibes

 

Hospital in Antibes

Hospital in Antibes

 

Seriously....

Seriously….

 

AND THEN. We passed a certain building, and suddenly the whole thing merged with American Horror Story: Asylum.

 

AHS: ASYLUM

AHS: ASYLUM

 

The picture was complete, but of course, Callaghan and his sister ran up to pose.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-HospitalAntibes_exterior6

 

At the end of the day, I can honestly say it was the weirdest hospital I’d ever seen.

Callaghan’s cousin and her baby were sweet, though.

Dust mites. (So the house in France wasn’t possessed, after all.)

As I was making the bed yesterday morning, I thought of an article I’d read last week about how beds contain dust mites that eat dead human skin cells. Before you go imagining harmless balls of fluff that collect on the floor under your bed, like I mistakenly did at first, let me clarify that dust mites are alive, outfitted with multiple legs and a mouth that looks like a vagina, and not to be confused with dust bunnies. The article is called “Scientists Tell You Why Making Your Bed Is Disgusting – And Bad for Your Health,” and it was helpfully posted to my Facebook feed by one of my many helpful friends. I wish I could remember who it was. If it was you, thank you.

I read the article and it stuck with me because it’s all about how making your bed enables these vile little beasts to do their dirty work. The article reveals, as indicated in its title, that making your bed may not be the healthiest thing to do.

In her article, Ms. Harper reports that “each bed contains more than a million Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus – the scientific name for dust mites.”

Somehow this surprised me, but I guess everything alive has to have a scientific name.

“…feeding off of your dead skin cells and pooping (yes, pooping) out an allergen that can trigger asthma-like symptoms.”

 

Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, aka dust mite.

Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, aka dust mite.

 

Apparently, dust mites can’t do their things in an unmade bed because an unmade bed is exposed to daylight and circulating air, which are lethal for dust mites.

Dust mites are basically microscopic vampires who can only thrive in the dark. Exposure to daylight kills them. A bed that’s made is their coffin. At night, they feed on your biological matter.

(Okay, they’re not pure vampires, since vampires feed on living blood while dust mites prefer dead skin cells. They’re more of a hiding, creeping vampire-vulture hybrid.)

These findings aren’t new. Ms. Harper explains that the research she references was published in 2006. Then she recounts other research findings that suggest a correlation between making the bed and better mental health, including benefits such as lower stress and higher productivity. She points out that we have to decide which is more important to us: the mental well-being that comes with making the bed, or the knowledge that by not making the bed, we’re destroying the carnivorous creatures who feed on our dead, discarded skin cells at night.

So yesterday morning I was making the bed while re-thinking what I was doing, hesitating for the first time. After some serious consideration, I decided that for me, the benefits of making the bed outweigh the benefits of not making the bed.

See, I was hardwired to make my bed every day before I joined the Army. When you join the Army, if you’re not already hardwired to make your bed every day, you come out programmed to do so, and I’m talking bounce-a-quarter-off-the bed kind of programming. For me, the consequences of not making the bed would be more disquieting than the consequences of turning the bed into a hovel for skin-devouring dust mites, but it’s not a sense of threat that propels me to continue making the bed. It’s more of a reflex, more like how it feels wrong to put on your right sock first if you’ve always put your left one on first. It’s a deeply ingrained habit. To stop making the bed would mean putting forth effort to break the habit, and it would challenge my mental health to see the bed all messy and unmade every day. (Not to mention that our unmade bed would end up covered in cat fur.)

It wouldn’t be worth it, especially since we live in the hot, dry desert, where our dust mite problem is minimal compared to other places we’ve lived. As stated in this other article I found, “…if the humidity is under forty percent dust mites don’t live well so that is why parts of the southwest don’t suffer from this problem.”

I now know that the raging skin problems I’d endured while living in France were probably due to dust mites. That second article also states: “Some people will have an allergic rash reaction of eczema. This is similar to the situation with food allergies: Some people get respiratory types of reactions and others will deal with the problem via their skin by having a rash response.”

Mystery solved.

In France, I suffered constantly with horrible, rash-like outbreaks all over my body, front and back, from my feet to my legs to my torso to my arms. Callaghan never had anything. It was an infuriating mystery, and we couldn’t solve it. While the problem persisted on the French Riviera (when we were there, it was more often overcast and rainy than bright and sunny, and being on the coast, it was never dry), it was much worse when we were up in la Région Rhône-Alpes.

We figured I was having a reaction to some kind of insect. I’m severely allergic to insect bites; they wreak 10+ times the havoc on my skin than on Callaghan’s, so it would make sense that if we had dust mites in our always-made bed in the perpetually dark, damp wilderness of our little mountain abode, I would have this reaction, and Callaghan would not. I’d often wake up with one or several itchy bumps that would erupt into a horrible rash that would burn and itch uncontrollably. If I’d scratch the slightest little bit – even lightly – bruises would form.

All of it vanished once we moved back to the States and the sunny, arid Southwest.

I was going to supply a photo here (one of many) of the strange bumps, scabs and bruises that I constantly had all over my body, but I decided to spare your eyeballs because “what has been seen cannot be unseen,” as we all know. (You’re welcome.)

When the sea boileth over. (My roach nightmare come true.)

We interrupt (what has become) our standard Friday kitty-update programming for something entirely the opposite, and I’m abjectly horrified that I even have such a thing to report.

The cataclysmic event happened the day of our recent exterminator appointment. I’d arranged to telecommute that day because we didn’t know what all would be involved.

We didn’t want to call the exterminator. The idea did cross our minds when the crickets started showing up at the beginning of the summer, but we thought we could get away with avoiding it. We said to each other, “The crickets will leave. The problem will resolve itself.” Which, of course, led to the brisk proliferation of crickets in the house, until such a point arrived that we were living amongst them like no civilized people do. Finally, just as we’d wound up vacuuming herds of spiders in our house in France, we had to get medieval on the crickets in this house… Creepy Crawley Pest Control style.

We’d seen no insects other than the crickets. We had lizards, mostly baby ones, but we’re fond of them and don’t view them as pests. Scorpions don’t trouble us, either. My one major, remaining phobia, as many of you know, is roaches. Summer in Arizona brings the sewer roaches, which I always envision as boiling up from the bowels of hell. Had we seen a roach anywhere on our property, inside the house or out, I’d have been on the phone with Creepy Crawly that same second.

I knew this company. I’ve used them before, in previous houses, and I had confidence in them. I know that their product isn’t harmful to dogs and cats, and I know that they’re effective, so I’m happy to open the door when Z from Creepy Crawly rings the doorbell.

He’s a no-nonsense guy and explains the process succinctly. He would “blast” the outside first, then come in with a different apparatus to drip-deposit the de-insecting solution along the baseboards inside the garage and house. 

Now, let me just pause to assert that if I had my druthers (am I old enough to get away with using that phrase? I’ve been waiting to age into the right to say it, kind of like get off my lawn, which would actually be funny considering this post)… if I had a choice, I wouldn’t choose to have a lawn. I dislike the maintenance involved, and, moreover, I don’t believe in cultivating lawns in the desert. Alas, our house came with its front lawn and the smaller lawn out back. When we moved in, ripping out the grass and xeriscaping our yard went high on our list of “Projects to do one day.”

We bought the house about a year ago. We still have the lawn.

No-nonsense Z from Creepy Crawly explains the treatment process and wastes no time. He does the exterior first, spraying his lethal brew along the front of the house near the door and making his way around the perimeter of the lawn, winding around the date palm and wrapping around to the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, Callaghan is in the garage, getting it ready. The garage will be done next. I go to give him the tool I’d retrieved from the house as requested and walk back out onto the patio, stopping to stand under the awning. I’m looking out in the direction of our neighbor’s house when –

“This is why you need me,” Z announces loudly as he heads toward me from across the lawn.

“What was that?” I turn my head to look at him.

“THIS. Is why you need me,” Z says again, a note of glee ringing in his voice as he gesticulates with the hand not holding the hose. He’s indicating something on the sidewalk. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking at, and then my eyes pick up movement.

It’s movement happening so fast, it’s literally a blur. It’s actually happening on the lawn. There’s an animated cloud flashing in shades of dark and red, a fast-moving, chaotic cloud glinting in the sun. I’m confused. It reminds me of the swarm of bees that appeared in front of our neighbor’s house back in San Jose that one time….

My chest seizes up, my insides suddenly on high alert. It’s summer in Arizona.

“What is it?”

“Roaches. Those are sewer roaches.” Z sounds downright triumphant.

The word “roaches” grips my larynx and I feel paralyzed in my throat. My mind falters. I CAN’T be looking at a huge, thick cloud of spastic roaches on my lawn, I think. It can’t be possible.

“Don’t worry, they’ll all be dead within 15 minutes,” says Z merrily, as if that solves everything.

He has no idea. Or maybe he does. He does this for a living. How can anyone do this for a living?

“Baby,” I croak.

“What?” Callaghan steps out of the garage.

“Over there.” I’m fighting my roachaphobic body’s urge to hyperventilate. “It’s… roaches….”

“Roaches? Where?” Callaghan studies where I’m pointing, and the look of confusion on his face probably looks exactly like the one I wore when Z said “roaches.”

“There. That cloud…”

Callaghan slowly makes his way to the sidewalk and approaches the area with unusual care in his step. He stops and looks. I can see his face, and it tells me everything.

I’m shivering in the heat. The broad span of air up to two feet above the lawn gleams thick with oily, reddish-brown wings. Callaghan stumbles back up the driveway and says, in awe, “It’s a sea of roaches.”

And the sea boileth over.

Z is laughing. He’s laughing at our shock. He’s laughing at my pain. He explains that water from the sprinklers has collected where the lawn dips down to the metal grate covering the main water valve. Moistness attracts sewer roaches in the summer, he says. When he sprayed the lawn with his lethal concoction, he activated them into the frenzy stirring before our horrified eyes.

I’m thinking, I’ve walked across the lawn over that exact spot many times. I’VE BEEN TREADING OVER A SEA OF SEWER ROACHES.

My ankles prickled. I was mired in a scenario straight out of my worst nightmare.

I went inside and Skyped a message to my co-worker.

They like to take shelter in palm trees, sewer roaches. This roach population likely came from the palm up against our house. It’s unbelievable, miraculous, even, that we’ve never seen a roach of any kind on our property, outside or in.

Later, I asked Callaghan how many roaches he figured there were. He thought out loud: “I could only see maybe 450 of them, so if you take into consideration what I couldn’t see, I’d say… around a thousand. There were probably a thousand roaches.”

“That’s it,” I said. “That lawn is HISTORY. I don’t care if we can’t afford actual landscaping right now. WE HAVE TO KILL THE LAWN.”

Callaghan, who’d peered inside the swarming sea of a thousand roaches hovering above the lawn, and who, unlike me, is not phobic about roaches, needed no arm-twisting. “I’ll shut off the sprinklers,” he declared. “The lawn will die.”

We stopped watering the lawn, but it’s monsoon season, so we’ve had some rain. The grass grew, and I couldn’t help but think about a thousand huge sewer roach corpses hidden in it.

Before long, Callaghan had to go out and mow the lawn. I watched from my office window as he courageously pushed the lawn mower over the mass roach grave.

The grass is slowly dying, but the ghastly image of the hovering, flashing roach cloud refreshes in our minds every time we look at the lawn, because this is what the lawn looks like right now (I took this picture yesterday):

 

Our front lawn right now.

Our front lawn right now.

 

Lest you wondered whether my phobia caused me to exaggerate, as that can certainly happen, LOOK AT THAT LARGE PATCH OF GRASS THAT’S LUSH, LONGER AND GREENER THAN THE DYING GRASS AROUND IT. That is Exhibit A. That’s where the roaches were. The decomposing bodies in the mass grave have been fertilizing the grass we’re trying to kill.

The lawn can’t be ripped out soon enough! I’m going to call the City of Tempe today to ask about their conservation program (that financially assists with homeowners’ xeriscaping costs).

Z the exterminator is coming back this morning for a follow-up treatment, but I’ll be at work this time, so if another cloud of roaches rises above the ground, I won’t be here to witness it.

Halloween Festivities!

HELLo! This image-centric post is brought to you by one of America’s favorite holidays, Halloween, which is TODAY. Yay!!

This is just to say Happy Halloween, and here are a couple of pictures I took of creepy sights around town, and here’s another one of Zombie Callaghan, and here’s one of our jack o-lantern (not in that order), and hey, here are a couple of pics of the cake I made last night – the cake that I’m bringing to our Halloween potluck at work today, because I love my co-workers so much!

As for this evening? After celebrating Halloween pretty much all month, Callaghan and I are going to enjoy a low-key night at home. We’re going to watch this week’s episode of American Horror Story and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. THAT IS THE PLAN, STAN, and we’re sticking with it. =)

Let’s start with home…

 

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We decided to go with a fake jack o’lantern this year.

 

Then to the Melonhead Foundation’s Drag Bingo charity bash!

 

Remember when I was escorted to Drag Bingo by a jovial French zombie?

Remember when I was escorted to Drag Bingo by a jovial French zombie?

 

I don’t exactly have coulrophobia (a pathological fear of clowns), but still…

 

Earlier in the month, I spotted a random clown tucked into a hallway near the entrance of a Wal-Mart.

Earlier in the month, I spotted a random clown tucked into a hallway near the entrance of a Wal-Mart.

 

And in our neighborhood, this house always catches my every-horror-tuned eye…

 

The sequel to the sequel to the sequel of "The Amityville Horror" is going to be called "The Tempe Horror." It's the windows under the peaked roof that do it.

The sequel to the sequel to the sequel of “The Amityville Horror” is going to be called “The Tempe Horror.” It’s the windows under the peaked roof that do it.

 

And for work today, I made this cake, a tradition I’ve done for Halloween potlucks for years:

 

The return of the litter box cake, just for my co-workers!

The return of the litter box cake, just for my co-workers!

 

 

Ronnie James approves.

Ronnie James approves.

 

Happy FRIDAY Halloween, Everyone!