The Day of All-day Thanks has arrived.

In a shocking development, today is (American) Thanksgiving.

Why I found this startling, I’m not sure. Did I forget that I was in America? Did I forget that we did not, in fact, board a certain plane going to a certain T-Day destination? Did I forget to be outraged by the fictional and one-sided history around which we glorify the unfortunate beginnings of this holiday?

No, no, and no.

In any case, we’re grateful. We’re grateful, and we can love our loved ones from afar as well as we can up close and in person.

Also, what with our last-minute change of plans and subsequent dearth of foodstuffs in our kitchen, we have decided that no cooking will happen in our house on this revered day of feasting. Our feast will come courtesy of a phone call to the cheap and excellent Thai restaurant down the street, and it will be glorious.

(Perk of living downtown and near the university: inexpensive and really good ethnic food of various cuisines in abundance all around.)

On that note, I wish you all (Americans who celebrate) a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving Eve’s moon-rise, moon-filtered on instagram.





Temporarily grounded. (Non-fitness updates.)

I titled this post “non-fitness updates” because there’s currently no fitness anything going on around here.

I’m not amused.

Long story short: I caught a virus, it hit me hard, I’m having a tough time shaking it, and bronchitis has joined the party. I’m at high risk for pneumonia. My last workout was last week Monday when I did that garage gym workout. My symptoms kicked in the next day, aka election day. I’ve been out-of-commission sick for nine days, and now my ass has to sit here not working out for another “maybe two and a half weeks” per doctor’s orders.

All of this is related to being medically immunosuppressed. I was blissfully pain-free on methotrexate, but here’s a part of the price! Haha!

Long story long (dry details for anyone interested): The doctor today said that there are several species of crud* ripping through my vicinity, and because of my plaquenil/methotrexate (immunosuppressant) autoimmune cocktail, I’m easy game for them… also, my body will have a hard time fighting any viruses that get into my system.

Yesterday, my rheumatologist put a temporary hold on the methotrexate until I get rid of this virus (while I continue with the plaquenil). Today, a primary care doctor prescribed antibiotics for the bronchitis I’ve developed. The meds should help with my coughing. I have my voice back, but just barely. I’ll take it, though… I was completely speechless with laryngitis on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

The doctor instructed me to “quarantine” myself for the duration of the illness, which could be up to two and a half weeks. “If you have to go out, you should wear a mask.”

(I’m sure you autoimmune readers can relate to all of this!)

Back to working out, though! I asked the doctor whether I could work out at home. In the parlance of the army, NO-GO. She said that I’m at high risk for pneumonia because of my autoimmune meds, so she doesn’t want me working out at all. She would prefer that I not leave the house. She would prefer that I remain on bed rest.

Is there a way to work out without working out? That’s the fitness question of the century, right? Enough innovators have tried to sell apparatuses that will “do the work for you.” I’m not supposed to get my heart-rate up. Maybe I can do this workout:



[Thanks for this, Caroline!]

So that’s the update! Stay aware and take all the precautions this winter, everyone! Callaghan caught my virus, of course. Poor guy. Luckily, he’s getting over it.

*”the crud”: 70’s throw-back slang, I guess. I never hear anyone say it anymore. Now we say “the plague,” which is more fun and more specific for infectious illnesses, anyway.



Halloween 2018 (+ real horror and scary times).

Happy (day after) Halloween!

I’m still talking about it, yes. Just today. Halloween decided to happen on a day between blog days, so here we are.

Curiously, we didn’t dress up this year. The most I ended up doing was a lipstick ode to Bloody Kisses (as in the band Type O Negative). That was it. I did the rest of my make-up as I normally do:


Bloody Kisses Halloween 2018


(The lip product I’m wearing here is one of my favorite new little things, by the way. You’ll see it on the “October Favorites” list I’ll post next week Tuesday. Also, the color you see is the actual color; the pic is raw and untouched, as usual.)

I made it to Body Combat last night against all Halloween traffic odds. It took 50 minutes to get there! No, that’s not a typo! I’d left even earlier than usual, too. I got to the gym late but missed only half of the upper-body warm-up, so that was good.

Back at the house, we had zero trick-or-treaters, which wasn’t surprising; we’ve never had trick-or-treaters on our street. This year was like last year: I bought Halloween candy just in case, Callaghan harvested the ones he likes, and his co-workers get to eat the rest.

We lit candles and continued with The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. We happened to be on the Halloween episode!

The most deliciously scary thing we’ve watched this week has been The Haunting of Hill House. The ugliest scary thing I overheard this week was an exchange at the courthouse that included this snippet:

Customer: I’m not stupid.

Woman working behind the window: I suggest that you are.

Maybe the spookiest aspect of this exchange was the casual, low-voiced calmness of it. It was chilling how gracious and refined both women sounded in their quiet and measured tones.

I’ve read that cats respond to your voice in accordance with recognition of your tone. You can say heinous things to your cat, and your cat will feel content and loved if you deliver the words in a content and loving voice. This came to mind when I overheard these two women. I detected no aggravation, no aggression, nothing sharp-toned, nothing uttered loudly. No impatience. No snarling. Just the quiet “I’m not stupid.” “I suggest that you are.”

This is a strange moment in time, I thought. In history. It was a warm day and I’d walked to the courthouse, but I couldn’t shake the chill as I left to walk home.



Pieces. (Day 4: Horror short film October!)

It’s Thursday, and I’m sure of it. Contrary to what I’d said on Facebook, Tuesday was not Friday Eve. My mother-in-law is here for a ten-day visit, and I’m frazzled. I only sometimes know what day it is.

I’m terrible at hosting house guests. I might seem okay from the outside, but on the inside, I’m frantic with the change thrown into my routine. This sort of circumstance reminds me that my routines are actually essential to my mental health. PTSD loves routine. PTSD needs routine.

However, the stress I manage to create for myself when hosting a house guest doesn’t preclude my enjoyment of said guest. My mother-in-law is adorable and endearing. She may sometimes express her motherly love in perplexing ways, but it’s motherly love nonetheless. As challenging as it can be at times, a mother’s love is phenomenal. I’ve spent the week observing it.

Maternal love is a protective love, a force unparalleled.

This brings me to Pieces, a horror short film of the supernatural variety. May I say again that I’m delighted to share these short films with you? This is what creative talent can accomplish: it can bring us important messages through art. I’m hooked on short films. It’s just pleasing when a complete story unfolds and wraps up within a well-paced 15 minutes.



La Fin.


Getting to the gym. (RANT.)

[RANT WARNING: Unusual-for-this-space ranting ahead. Turn away now if your negativity tolerance levels are maxed out.]

Driving to and from the gym today, it struck me that it’s official: downtown Tempe is under siege. Gentrification planners cannot be stopped. We’re boxed in by massive construction projects. It seems that there’s one at every intersection. Everywhere I go in my everyday life lies east of our neighborhood, but getting through downtown is insanity… all of the routes I take to reach my destinations are either single-laned or blockaded.

A Whole Foods down the street. A retirement community for university professors. Extravagant lofts, condos, restaurants, retail businesses, office spaces, parking garages, hotels, multi-purpose high-rises, just… development after development.

Historical establishments continue to get hemmed in or pushed out. This is sacrilege.


I cherish this pic I took of one of our intersections. This corner will probably be unrecognizable in ten years.


I witnessed the beginning of the gentrification surge back in the 2000’s, but now they’ve amped it up. Every week, I get numerous robocalls leaving messages to the effect of “I was driving through your neighborhood and I’m interested in buying your house.” Public meeting and town hall notices have piled up in our stack of non-essential mail. We residents are all invited to attend and “participate.”


Getting to the gym has become an exercise in frustration, if not occasional futility. I thought they were done with their development projects along the north shore of the lake, but apparently not. I usually drive east along that shore to get to the gym. I’ve tried all alternative routes. There’s no way to avoid the construction zones. Last week, I got pulled over in a moment of confusion and indecision about which way I could go – thinking too many steps ahead when I encountered another blocked road and stopped at the wrong place – and I was cited. I missed Body Pump, and now I have to go to defensive driving school. (Ka-ching!)

I made it to the gym today, though… I left 15 minutes earlier than usual. I’m prepared for “15 minutes earlier” to be “the usual” for a while. That’s fine. I don’t mind leaving early… but I do mind being stressed when trying to get somewhere.

Anyway, if you made it this far, thanks for reading. Maybe you can relate… maybe your everyday life is also impacted by urban gentrification. If you’re like me, you love your section of town and you have no intention of leaving. Silver lining: it’s always good to hone one’s adaptation skills. Adaptation, adjustment, and gratitude.


Fractions of a doubt.

Our bathroom project is almost done. What started with the assembly/installation of a new shower ended up morphing into a full-blown re-model. It shouldn’t have taken so long considering that our bathroom is the size of a postage stamp, but, you know, problems.

Putting together our new shower brought out Callaghan’s one frustration with the United States: our non-compliance with the metric system. The only time he rants about the States is when he’s confronted with fractions. He did plenty of ranting over the shower pieces.

“Blame England,” I said, quick to throw England under the bus. (Being French, Callaghan always says that he “only hates half of me”  – the English half. It’s in his genes, he says.)

I get him. I’m American, and I still can’t do fractions. That’s not saying much, though, since the math part of my brain has always been crippled by math anxiety. I remember going to high school rejecting math in academic settings. I just… shall we say… checked out.

How do I know that math anxiety is real? In the army, I made effortless, practical use of trigonometry to cut radio antenna wavelengths based on frequencies. Put me in a MATH CLASSROOM, though, and I’m done. I’m out.

Anyway, when Callaghan came to me waving his arms while announcing, “We’re wasting time! A lot of precious time is being wasted with these… doing of fractions!” I did a quick search for an online fraction calculator. “Shoot,” I said, signaling his cue to recite the fractions he needed to calculate.

He looked at his notes. I waited. I had my fingers set on my numeric keypad. I was expecting to hear the sort of fractional equations I would’ve learned in school had I cared.

He read:

“43 1/2 – 3 1/8, 43 7/16 -2 /16, 43 3/16 – 35/16, and 1 3/4 + 2 3/8.”

To which I said, “What?”


[From fractioncalculator dot net]

“Please enter the numerator and denomina – ” Yes. Please and thank you.

Duck-avoiding season. (Mild-mini-rant: annoying commercial.)

I’m usually not one to complain about commercials. I don’t see too many, for one thing. I only see commercials online, as I don’t watch actual television. For another thing, most commercials are annoying; that’s par for the course. Insurance company AFLAC, though, has come up with several commercials that deserve mention.

They’ve got this duck.

YouTube’s commercial rotation at the moment includes AFLAC’s. If you’re not familiar with these commercials, I envy you.

In case you didn’t know, AFLAC’s commercials currently feature a duck whose gimmick is to appear suddenly near a person who’s minding their own business. To announce his entrance, the duck quacks… but he doesn’t say “quack” like ducks are supposed to say (according to the old guy on the farm). He says: “AFLAC!”

His squawk comes out nasally because the first “A” is pronounced like the “a” in “cat.” The second “A” does, too. The company’s name rhymes with “quack,” which probably inspired the ad campaign that spawned the duck. I’m assuming that the AFLAC! squawk is meant to be a mating call to attract insurance buyers.

I’m not sure what the company’s name means, by the way. I haven’t looked it up. It may be an acronym. Actually, it reminds me of text/internet-speak, like ROTFL. “AFLAC” should stand for Abstain From Loud Annoying Commercials. AFLAC!!!!

I would insert one of the commercials here for your reference, but I’m not that mean.

It’s a hazard, this commercial. I cringe at the idea of this duck every time I click on a YouTube video. My guard is usually down, so I end up scrambling to mute the commercial before it gets to the part with the duck. Each commercial features two duck appearances. In the space of 20 or so seconds, avoiding the duck’s nasally call is my whole mission in life.

Of course, I worsened the situation for myself by sharing my grievance with Callaghan. I should’ve known better. His new favorite way to amuse himself is to squawk AFLAC! in my face. When I asked him (as I was writing this post) how many times the duck says AFLAC! in each commercial, he said, “I don’t know. You have to find one and watch the whole thing… with the sound on.”