Brain GliTcHes. [Health update]

In A/C update news, things are going swimmingly. The insulation will be blown in tomorrow, and the roof damage will be repaired in a couple of weeks. Voilà and YAY!

In health update news, adventures are afoot. I’ll be going out of town soon for a week’s worth of testing. There may be a few – non-traditional, I guess you could say? – reasons for some of the issues I’ve been experiencing, particularly in my brain. Guys, I recently wrote “oxymoron” rather than “redundancy” in a blog post title; I wasn’t too surprised when the mistake was brought to my attention, as this sort of thing’s been happening more and more frequently… not only in writing, but in speaking, too. I say the wrong/opposite words, miss/leave out words, butcher words, forget words completely, stumble over words and get physically lost around my speech, and/or put words in the wrong order… even when I’m talking to myself.

Sometimes, I can’t find words to say at all. I find an echo-less tunnel where the words used to be. My mind being an actual blank renders me actually speechless. This is especially frustrating when there’s a roomful of people looking at you in expectation of words coming out of your mouth.

There was that time at a party when I forgot how I met someone earlier, at the same party. We were introduced, we had a lengthy, substantial conversation, and when I ran into her again less than an hour later, I had no recollection of how I knew her. How we met. How we were introduced.

Moments pass and vanish from my memory like they never happened. It’s like I’d have to record everything in writing and in the moment in order to know about it in future moments.

 

[…]

All of this has been going on for a while, but it’s gotten worse these least few years. Too many minutes, words, and events have been sucked in and out of nothingness, and so testing has been scheduled. I’m incredibly grateful. I’m celebrating the circled date in my planner. I can’t wait to catch that flight to a facility where maybe someone can find my brain,

(among other things).

It’s just mystifying. I know that my emotional numbness comes from PTSD, but this? What is this?

I wish I could better explain all of this! Some of you must know exactly what this is like, though. No one is alone. I’m sorry, and yet I’m not. We’re unique, and yet we’re not.

On THAT note, please do enjoy a wonderful Friday Eve.

 

 

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L’amour est bleu. (Fitness updates!)

Today’s post is brought to you by a “fitness updates” request. It’s been a month since my last one, anyway!

In short and in summary, I’ll just say this: If you’re looking to start working out, consider trying a Les Mills group fitness class, if you can get to a gym that offers Les Mills classes. I’ve seen people of all ages and levels of fitness in those classes!

For the at-length, actual “fitness updates” version, I’ll start with…

Les Mills Body Pump (strength-training with weights): How about I think back on today’s class, just for fun? Our leg track was set to a song that’s also used in Body Combat, which is why I thought of Body Combat while doing squats this morning. It also came back to me how in the On Demand video, the male lead announces that his female co-lead is “the only monster on the stage,” and how I thought this to be an odd thing to proclaim. It’s definitely a strange remark to hear if you’re oblivious to the fact that the song’s refrain begins with “She’s a monster.” I don’t pay much attention to lyrics in these classes. Context is everything, right?

This morning’s chest track was a Guns N’ Roses song. [-nothing further-]

The back track was one I didn’t remember at all. From the music to the moves, I recognized none of it. It was like doing a new release back track! Loved it.

I’m unable to bring the triceps song back to mind, though I can remember the workout combination.

The biceps track was set to a song by Pink, whose songs in Body Pump challenge the part of my brain that finds the beats. I’m not sure why this is the case with Pink and only with Pink. It’s like her vocals are so powerful and independent, they leave the beats behind. I always pick up on them or sense the timing eventually, though. It happened to be easy today.

I don’t remember this morning’s lunge track song, but the workout involved a little plyometric action, which I enjoy.

And the shoulder track? It was that one with the French vocals, “L’amour est Bleu.” It’d been a while since we’d done that one, and it was interesting to revisit it after my weight increases. I could note how my shoulders have strengthened since the last time we did that track.

This brings me to the update part of the “updates”: I’ve increased some weights since my last fitness updates post a month ago. I’ve gone heavier on legs, back, and shoulders.

Body Pump’s effects are most notable to me in terms of strength, but clearly the workouts change your physique, too. When you turn around and catch someone staring at you as you’re walking away and he gets all flustered and says, “Nice backpack!” you know that there’s something other than your backpack going on back there. (Either that, or the car wash guy just really admires my backpack.)

[I just realized that my account of this morning’s class was more about the music than about the workout. Ah.]

Les Mills Body Combat (cardio kickboxing): I did this class at my (new) second gym for the first time last week. It was cool, literally. Between the superpowered A/C and a huge, noisy fan, the room was so chilled that I hardly broke a sweat! It was a good workout. It was a new release, so that’s always fun, but I must admit that I’m not going to be sad to say allez, au revoir to this release. To me, it’s death by mountain climbers, and that isn’t fun. Of all the moves I’ve done while working out EVER, mountains climbers are my least favorite. They’re great for conditioning, but UN-FUN.

Step + Abs (cardio/aerobic): I haven’t gone. The last step class I did was on March 17. I always intend to go, but there’s always something or other, and now it’s been five weeks since I’ve worked out on a Sunday! I only managed to make up for it once. Life has been happening, as life does.

And that’s okay. I’ll keep trying to get to Sunday morning step.

Even one workout a week would be better than none. 20 minutes of exercise (i.e. brisk walking) would be better than no minutes of exercise. File this in “habits worth developing.” Also, “things that are fun before we know it.”

 

 

A little bit of this, a little bit of that. (Happy smatterings inside.)

Spring! Spring! A glory to bring! My spirits waft high… as high as our new ceiling. A glory.

Other wondrous things at the front of my mind:
–That the palo verdes – green-trunked trees native to our desert – are in bloom, lavishing us with their beauty (albeit their pollen, too). We have two in our front yard, and I’m admiring them right now from behind my desk.
–That I have an excellent, thorough, and caring rheumatologist at the Phoenix V.A., and today started with a phone call from her… and that we had an actual conversation, which I routinely enjoy at the V.A. (and have never had with civilian-sector doctors).
–That tomorrow morning – morning! – I’m going to my first Body Combat class at my second gym.

At the gym earlier this week, I spoke of getting my bangs trimmed and was met with immediate demands requests for a blog selfie. You guys crack me up. (You know who you are.) I’m happy to oblige, but I apologize in advance for this awful pic:

 

[17 April 2019]

I, for one, don’t like this picture of me. I look like the bent-neck lady. We can thank my insistence on attention to background, because apparently, the thing to note here is how I’m ducking beneath the moon phases. Forget the hair! I must capture the moons! This tapestry behind our bed finally replaced our forest tapestry a few months ago, and it was a delight to find that the moons glow in the dark. Have I mentioned how I drink in the luminescent moons rising above the bed before falling asleep? I framed the tapestry with string lights to illuminate it all evening, and then the lights go out and the moons glow soft and pale green on their own. They are calming.

[Sidenote: those are my new glasses, which I’ve had since February; I don’t believe I ever got around to a selfie featuring them.]

I do have a second pic here. In this one, I leaned rather than ducked. This one also captured the moons, but the angle didn’t get the tapestry all the way up to the ceiling.

 

[17 April 2019]

Meanwhile, our aforementioned new hallway ceiling is the eighth wonder of my world. It’s a full foot higher than it was before, so now it’s the same height as the ceiling in the rest of the house. The hallway feels strangely spacious and hollow. It is splendiferous.

This concludes today’s blog post o’randomness. Happy Friday Eve, all.

 

 

Next in A/C news… (ROACH edition!)

Welcome to a new week! I hope you all had a good weekend. I’m continuing to update on our A/C saga, as some of you are interested… and on that note, I’m still taking requests for posts here. Just a reminder!

When Callaghan says that I’m fearless – he says it’s the quality about me he admires the most – I think about it, and I get why he sees me that way. I seem to have a high threshold for fear; a lot of what’s traditionally scary doesn’t break me. I’m not a fearful person, but as many of you know, I do have some irrational fears (aka phobias). This brings me to I FOUND A DEAD ROACH IN MY SHOWER on Sunday night.

I was just about to get in when I saw it. It was lying on its back, which to me is just as horrifying as a roach racing around with its spiny legs making those demonic scratching sounds on the floor.

  • It’s rare that we find roaches in our house… rare as in four roaches in four years. In our old area of town, that’s rare.
  • Our warmest day this year so far didn’t qualify as AZ-caliber hot. Not even close.
  • Neither is it monsoon season, when roaches are most active and visible.
  • This roach wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t small, either.
  • How is a roach in dry, not-hot April already that big?
  • Where is it hot around here, and how would a roach get in?

The attic. The attic is hot, and it’s open to the hallway on account of WE HAVE NO CEILING.

What evidently happened was the roach came down from the attic through our ceiling-less hallway and went into the master bathroom shower to die. I’m glad I saw it before I stepped into the shower, or I would’ve died, too.

The A/C guy said that the attic is hot because that’s how attics work when it’s merely warm outside. Our pest control people confirmed that dampness in the attic would create a hospitable environment for roaches, even though roaches don’t usually inhabit attics. (Thank you, swamp cooler of yore.)

Now we have the following lined up for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow: contractor to re-build the ceiling, A/C guys to finish the A/C, pest control to dust the attic, insulation guy to blow in new insulation, and roofing guy to patch the roof. Suddenly, I’m 100% okay with all of it. No complaints! If none of this ever happened, we never would’ve discovered roaches in the attic. I don’t think we’re talking full-blown infestation here, but a few roaches are a few too many.

Within an hour of finding the dead roach in the shower, Nenette found another roach. This one was alive. I was sure that if there were two roaches in the house at the same time, then there would be more, and guys, I would rather face Freddy Krueger in my dreams than wake up to the real nightmare of finding a roach in the house.

So the next day, with some much-appreciated help, I cut open some 45-gallon plastic garbage bags and taped them up over the exposed attic. The contractor was supposed to come the following day, but he canceled due to family emergency. He’s rescheduled for tomorrow. It’s going to be great to have a ceiling again!

Let me tell you, I seriously considered sleeping in jeans and combat boots on Sunday night so I wouldn’t feel phantom roaches (much less real ones) skittering up my legs. I’d occasionally crash for naps with my boots on in the army. It works just fine.

Since I’m not about to search for a roach pic, I’m giving you Freddy Krueger, instead.

 

 

 

 

 

More blah-blah-blah about our new air conditioner.

Someone asked me today if we’d planned on replacing the A/C in advance, or if the whole thing started as an emergency project. I answered, and then I said I’d explain it to you faithful readers, too, since I never got into how it all began. We’d plotted to replace the A/C. We did not plan on the saga it became.

It’s been one week exactly since the crane dropped the new A/C onto the roof. I’d thought that the work would be finished by the end of the day.

When the A/C crew came back yesterday to complete the job after we had our ceiling taken down on Tuesday afternoon, I thought for sure that everything would be done.

Therefore, I have no reason to assume that it will be done after the A/C crew comes back for the third time, which will be next week Tuesday.

This pic of me leaning against my office door frame yesterday sums up my week:

 

yesterday

 

The hallway ceiling had been comprised of plaster layered over drywall, and underneath that were the two-by-fours and metal paneling you see here. It was not clear that “take down the ceiling” included taking down the two-by-fours and the metal paneling. We did what the A/C guy said, which was to “take down the ceiling.” Because of this “miscommunication,” I had to replace our handyman with a general contractor, who’s coming on Monday morning. He’s going to remove the beams and the panels, and I think he’s also going to heighten the ceiling while he’s here. This means that the replacement of the ceiling will happen before the A/C crew comes back to finish the job. That part hadn’t been clear, either. The A/C guy refers to all of this as a “misunderstanding,” but I’ll throw in an adjective and say that it was a gross misunderstanding. It was a $2,000.00+ misunderstanding.

But it is what it is.

Returning to the picture, I’m going to leave those sheets covering the floor and the furniture over the weekend, since various workers will tramp through here next week: the contractor to do the ceiling/drywall work on Monday, the A/C crew on Tuesday morning, the roofing guy on Tuesday afternoon (because of the rotting part of the roof that led to the breakdown of our A/C), and the insulation guy on Wednesday.

At some point after Wednesday, the roofing guy will come back to do whatever needs to be done to fix the roof. Yes, I’m bracing myself for the announcement that we need a whole new roof.

None of this should be that big of a deal, right? An A/C replacement job turning into a full-blown construction job? Maybe a big deal, but not surprising, since house stuff often takes these kinds of twists and turns.

It’s a big deal for me, though. I’m trying to maintain some measure of mental equilibrium throughout all of this. PTSD doesn’t mesh well with upheaval and chaos, especially in one’s home environment. Home is supposed to be a sacred, dependable place.

I was going to come up with something entirely different for this post, but in the end, I just regaled you with this ongoing story. Some of you might be bored. Some of you might be able to relate. Either way, if you’ve read this far, thanks for bearing with me!

 

 

Who loves obstacles? Geronimo does. (Desert tortoise update!)

It’s trivia hour! Did you know that when a ceiling is torn down, it sends a thick cloud of white dust and bits of plaster and old insulation throughout the entire house? Including in the rooms whose doors were closed? Including underneath the things that were inside the closet whose door was closed? I didn’t know this until two hours ago. I’m that much more knowledgeable now! The next thing I want to learn is why a person tearing down a ceiling wouldn’t seal off the area with sheets of plastic or something. Even the burners on my flat-surface stove are barely discernible beneath the layer of ceiling dust. Everything in every room in our house is coated in dust, and it was just the ceiling in the hallway that came down.

ANYWAY, that’s all very topical and in-the-moment. I come to you like a phantom passing through a veil of fog, you see. My fingers on the keyboard leave prints in the dust. May I reiterate that my office door was closed when the hallway ceiling was coming down.

Ah, well.

So here we are, and I’ve got worthier matters at hand: the following moments captured in pics and a video. I wasn’t going to present a Geronimo update this week, but I happened to have my phone with me yesterday when I went out to spend some time with him.

Sonoran desert tortoises have long legs for climbing, and Geronimo does love to climb! He tries to climb everything. We leave beams of wood and bunches of branches laying around just for him.

I don’t think I’ve yet shared this pic of him from March 6:

 

See bench. Must climb.

 

Geronimo has been climbing over my outstretched legs since Day 1, when we had to babysit him indoors because we rescued him during hibernation season and he couldn’t go outside. You don’t know a restless tortoise until an active desert tortoise lands in your house during hibernation season, by the way.

I sat against the back fence yesterday afternoon, and Geronimo got to climb my legs over and over and over as he walked his laps along that straight line. This adorable little dinosaur is tireless.

 

 

He also loves to cuddle, which involves getting as close to me as he can and stretching out his neck to rest his head on my leg. Yesterday, I finally had my phone with me to capture it.

 

Mommy!

 

This guy is too sweet and cute. I can’t deal with it.

 

Never thought I’d melt into the eyes of a reptile.

 

Geronimo’s been enjoying more of his hibiscus flower dessert as the days get warmer. He loves the flowers from budding to blooming.

 

Hibiscus flowers: candy for Sonoran desert tortoises.

 

We’re thinking of putting together some kind of climbing tortoise playground for Geronimo. Geronimo enjoys the challenge of obstacles. I want to be like him when I grow up.

 

 

High-priority. (Isn’t that an oxymoron?)

[Note: a redundancy, not an oxymoron!]

This week, I’ve done the best procrastination of my life.

I knew that the high-priority pile of paperwork on my desk wasn’t going to do itself, but I could only get through a few pages before I thought of something else that had to be done. I’d been warned about this paperwork (a 45-page questionnaire), so I was ready to receive it, but man, they weren’t kidding. It was tough.

My initial rush of enthusiasm for the challenge went up in a vapor of dismay when I flipped through the packet and skimmed over the questions. I went to remarkable lengths. First, I ignored it completely. A week went by before I started filling in the answer bubbles. Then I found a podcast I’d been wanting to check out, and I had to listen to it before I could do anything else. I also remembered that I had phone calls to make, loose ends to tie up, and details to annotate in my planner and other notebooks. I had some binders to organize, accounts to check, and lists to make.

I baked banana bread because immediate action had to be taken regarding the bananas decomposing on my kitchen counter.

At last, I got through the first 20 pages of the questionnaire. Good job! I said to myself as I set the rest aside for the next day. The next day, I found a documentary I had to watch.

At the same time and in other news, the house needs urgent attention, too, and it all began this week. The operation had been scheduled: the entrails (ducts) of our attic were to be yanked out along with the diseased organ (air conditioning unit). A crane arrived before 6:30am yesterday morning (sorry, neighbors I forgot to notify) to transplant the new A/C. The crew returned early this morning to continue the work. They’re coming back to finish it next week. We have a hallway ceiling to be removed before they return, and then we have to have a new one put in place.

After the A/C is in and the ceiling is finished, the insulation people will arrive to re-insulate the whole top of the house. They’re also going to insulate the laundry room out back. The laundry room insulation will require more drywall work before and after that part of the operation. After all of that, the roofing people are coming, because it turns out that the house’s original swamp cooler (OG urban desert life) had leaked and rotted a part of the roof beneath the band-aid of the new roofing someone later applied, and that is our A/C’s official cause of death as noted on its death certificate.

Just when you think you only need a new A/C.

The point of this whole mundane story, though, is that our house undergoing extensive surgery made it even easier to ignore the paperwork on my desk.

Not to mention, I also had a cold this week, which made it even harder to work up the wherewithal to fill in thousands of answer bubbles.

But I persevered and finally got it all done yesterday. Truth be told, I’m happy that I had an opportunity to do it at all, much less get it done. The whole thing is rather a priviledge. I’ll photocopy the packet tomorrow before I take it to the post office.

I’m now taking a minute to marvel at the procrastination capability I didn’t know I had. Also, I’m still turning over the information that came out in the questionnaire: Callaghan informed me that I “often punch him in the side” while I’m sleeping. WHAT.

 

The early bird gets the A/C, because it’s a crane.

 

On a final note, may I recommend to you this podcast: 30 for 30: Bikram (about Bikram Choudhury, the man behind Bikram Yoga) and this 20/20 documentary: The Dropout (about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, her company). These disturbing tales of epic criminal disgrace may not be the cheeriest, but they’re interesting… and they make for some excellent procrastination material.