What I’m Digging Right Now – March Favorites

It’s the first day of April! It’s time to show you some of the things I loved last month. There was an abundance of “little things” treasures in March, but I chose nine for this list.

Without further ado:

(ahem)

1). A new phone, which means a new camera… and it’s an Android, which means Instagram. Yes! I’d thought I’d forever avoid Instagram, but I actually really dig it now that I have it. I haven’t been that active on it yet, but I will be.

 

Thing 1: That picture in the middle of my Instagram collage is Callaghan's portrait of my parents, and it's my favorite work of his. Thing 2: Yes, I took this photo at 11:00PM, and yes, it's 82 degrees outside.

Thing 1: That picture in the middle of my Instagram collage is Callaghan’s portrait of my parents, and it’s my favorite work of his. Thing 2: Yes, I took this photo at 11:00PM, and yes, it’s 82 degrees outside.

 

The reason for the new phone was the fact that my camera died at the end of February. I needed a camera, and Callaghan and I both needed phones, and Verizon was offering a Buy One Get One Free deal on Samsung Galaxy S4s, and I had additional perks due to my “loyalty status” from my former years with Verizon… so it just made sense. Now I have a camera. It’s good enough for what I like to do with a camera, which is point and click.

 

2). Flowering cactuses!

 

Complete with a Southwest Airlines plane in the background, equally colorful. In fact, they match! haha

Complete with a Southwest Airlines plane in the background, equally colorful. In fact, they match! haha

 

Here are some of the emerging blooms closer to the ground.

Here are some of the emerging blooms closer to the ground.

 

IT HAS BEGUN. Between now and mid-June, the desert flora will display its myriad of flowers – the different species bloom at different times. Many pictures will be taken. How I’ve missed spring here! Our two visitors from France (one is coming in April, the other in May) are in for a treat.

 

3). New glasses.

 

New glasses. Not BCGs.

New glasses. Not BCGs.

 

These are not the ones I got from the V.A. in Austin. Those turned out to be a disaster in every way, starting with an inaccurate prescription and ending with that wrong prescription being put in the wrong frames that didn’t fit. Long story short, I couldn’t wear them. This is why mall optometrists exist. I walked in, made my appointment for the next day, went back for the appointment, and walked out with this new pair of glasses that seem to be perfect. Instant gratification glasses! I mostly just wear them for driving and watching T.V. and movies.

 

4). Body Combat class at the gym.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-BodyCombat

 

Over the last few months, I’ve had to face the fact that I’m just not as self-motivated at the gym as I used to be. Add to this the fact that when I join a group training situation that carries even the slightest semblance to martial/fighting arts, I feel as at-home as a bat in a cave… my so-called muscle memory knows what to do, and how to do it… and voilà! Body Combat is an ideal group fitness class for me. The instructor’s mission in life for that hour is to kick our butts. I don’t have to do anything but show up and follow along.

The Body Combat classes incorporate techniques from boxing, Muay Thai, capoeria, karate and MMA, all of which my muscles know and enjoy, even though they haven’t trained in years. The fast-paced classes focus on cardio rather than on form, but I’m loathe to execute the moves sloppily, so I end up getting a fantastic workout as I concentrate on form while trying to keep up (to the extent that my out-of-shape self can safely do. I’m careful to not exceed my limitations). We leave the class completely elated, worn out and drenched in sweat. I love it so much I can’t even tell you.

 

5). True Detective, season one (T.V.)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-TrueDetective

 

Simply stated, this new series right here rather blew our minds. That is all.

 

6). Hannibal, season two (T.V.)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-HannibalS2

 

As The Following continues to hold our eager attention, we’ve added Hannibal to our current series line-up, as the second season began on the last day of February – meaning, we picked it up at the beginning of March. It’s just as darkly sick and warped and luscious and richly textured as season one. What is this fascination with serial killers? Hannibal is so beautifully done. It’s mesmerizing.

 

7). Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof eyeliner in Stingray.

 

Stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner in Stingray

Stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner in Stingray

 

Finally, I’ve found a retractable black eyeliner pencil capable of drawing a line that stays where you put it! I’d thought I’d also be able to appreciate it for its status as a cruelty-free product, but when I got home and got online, I found that Stila Cosmetics has been struck from the list of cruelty-free cosmetic companies. The reason? “3rd party animal testing.” *sighs*

 

8). Tourni, our new sunflower.

 

Here's Tourni! It's hard to see him in this picture. He's the slender, yellowish stalk with two little leaves on top, rising up from the center of the pot.

Here’s Tourni! It’s hard to see him in this picture. He’s the slender, yellowish stalk with two little leaves on top, rising up from the center of the pot.

 

I met a new friend for lunch one day in March, and she surprised me with a thin, pale greenish-yellow stalk from her garden. Loosely wrapped, it appeared to be quite frail. She told me that it was a sunflower. Un Tournesol, I thought immediately. His name is Tourni! “Tournesol” is French for sunflower.

I left the restaurant with little Tourni hanging limply over the side of a plastic water cup, his vestige of a root-ball submerged in two or three inches of water. I pondered what to do with him. He looked so fragile. Our balcony is completely shaded; we have no real direct sunlight in which to grow a sunflower.

By the end of the day, Tourni was looking pretty lifeless and pathetic. Unsure of what to do, I left him in the drink holder in our truck for the night while I figured it out.

At the end of the next day, we went to retrieve Tourni from the truck, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. The scant amount of dirt in the cup had absorbed all of the water, and there was little Tourni, upright, happy and spry! He looked like a completely different plant.

 

Alive and proud! I should have taken a "before" picture!

Alive and proud! I should have taken a “before” picture!

 

We brought him in and put him in a pot with some potting soil, both of which we happened to have on hand. He loves the close heat of the truck, so we set him in there during the day. At night, we bring him up to sit on our balcony with the other plants in our growing (ha!) collection.

 

9). Oil-pulling

 

Unrefined, organic coconut oil - the remaining two jars of the three my parents sent home with us at the beginning of March.

Unrefined, organic coconut oil – the remaining two jars of the three my parents sent home with us at the beginning of March.

 

At some point over the winter, an enormous can of unrefined, organic coconut oil appeared in Mom and Dad’s kitchen in California. Dad stirs a teaspoon of it into his coffee every morning. I noticed it when we were there at the beginning of March, and I was intrigued… I’d been reading about the Ayurvedic practice of oil-pulling, and contemplating starting it.

The morning we left, Mom and Dad generously tucked three jars of the oil into our luggage. Dad started oil-pulling that morning, Callaghan started that night after we got back to Arizona, and I started the following morning.

It’s now been three weeks, and so far, I’ve noticed the following two effects: 1). I haven’t had a problem with insomnia since, and 2). my teeth, while never horribly discolored, are indeed much whiter now; many people who do this practice report whiter teeth as a result.

The whiter teeth thing is great, but the sleeping thing? Incredible!

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but what an odd coincidence it is. From Day One of swishing coconut oil around in my mouth for twenty minutes as a part of my morning routine, I’ve been able to drop off to sleep effortlessly. This is unheard of, and it’s been consistent. The only thing I’ve been doing differently is the oil-pulling, so I’m thinking there’s a reasonable chance that there’s a connection.

Whatever the case, I’m going to keep doing it. It’s relaxing, and the whiter teeth are definitely a bonus!

On Callaghan’s part, he says that the quality of his sleep has improved greatly, and his teeth are definitely whiter now.

Okay… that’s it for March favorites! Here’s to spring. =)

Explaining Hipsters (“working title” intended!)

I can’t believe it’s already Thursday and almost the weekend. It feels like last weekend ended yesterday!

Of all the things that happened last weekend, trying to explain something that’s just beyond me was one of the most entertaining. It went like this:

It’s Saturday night, and Callaghan’s out of town. My friend Tara and I walk into a bar. (Yeah, two chicks walk into a bar. No, this is not a joke.)

It’s a fun, cozy little dive bar, one of those that’s been there forever, and it is, shall we say – to borrow a term from popular culture – The Bar That Must Not Be Named. (Also, to maintain the anonymity of the strangers inside said anonymous bar, I later asked Callaghan to place a respectful black mask over everyone’s eyes in the pictures I took, as you will see.)

Tara and I went out representing varying degrees of sub-rock dwelling over the last few years. Her background: during the 90’s, she clocked in most of her days and nights working in bars, then gradually spent less and less time in them as her life shifted and she changed careers.

On my part, I’d been away from The Valley (Phoenix Metro Area) for over three years.

We start out at Club Red to catch some local metal bands; The Bar That Must Not Be Named is our second stop. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been there, and Tara had never been there at all. We get our drinks, meander into the live music side of the establishment and find a place to sit in the back, near the back door. The bar is doing a lively business typical of a Saturday night, and we want to be as far away from the band as possible, so we can talk. We spend a few minutes taking in the scenery.

“Is that… wow, I’ve never seen so many lottery tickets being sold at a bar,” Tara says, gesturing at the bulky multi-ticket lottery ticket dispenser thing behind the bar. It looks like a slot machine. I check it out with equal curiosity, but something in her voice makes me look at her. I see confusion clouding over her face.

Switching mental gears, I study the room from end to end, observing the environment through her eyes – the eyes of someone who hadn’t been out in years. Lots of flannel. Lots of carefree facial hair. An inordinate number of eyeglasses that resemble BCGs… and many, many cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR). I, myself, am surprised. When did this place become a hipster watering hole?

The cans are literally everywhere you look. Our eyes simultaneously land on the one sitting right next to us…

 

No point in trying to protect its privacy, but we thought it would be fun to try.

No point in trying to protect its privacy, but we thought it would be fun to try.

 

…and Tara blurts out, “What’s with all the crappy cheap-ass beer everyone’s drinking out the can?”

Suddenly, it hits me. She has no idea about hipsters. She has emerged, and now, it’s on me to try to explain it.

“It’s the hipsters,” I say tentatively. “That’s their drink of choice. PBR, out of the can.” So they can be identified as hipsters by other hipsters, I mentally add in my head.

“NO! Ugh. Seriously?” Tara is perplexed. “But… why?”

“I’m not sure,” I answer honestly. I’m kind of at a loss. We’d just spent almost two hours at a local metal band fest at the first club, then driving around in her Corvette blasting Korn’s cover of Cameo’s “Word Up.” We’re on the same wavelength… a wavelength that captures a wide range of interests and tastes, but not the ironic frequencies of hipsterdom. (Though, ironically, I’m a poet and a writer and a person who’s been issued real BCGs, and I’ve been mistaken for a hipster without the dubious advantage of a can of PBR in my hand.)

Now we’ve unwittingly landed on Planet Hipster, and I have to draw on my rudimentary understanding of its denizens to make sense of them to someone who had no understanding of them at all.

 

Tara and me at Club Red, first stop of the night.

Tara and me at Club Red, first stop of the night.

 

I fill her in to the best of my ability, striving to be as impartial as possible. I have nothing against hipsters. She should take the info I give her and form her own opinions.

“THE ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT?” She practically has to shout to be heard over the live music. “That’s so weak, like, while you’re on your iPhone in your flannels from Abercrombie that cost like… oh, the IRONY!”

“Yes! You got it! It’s all about irony.”

But my Hipster 101 crash course has left her even more bewildered.

“People are actually drinking out of cans in a bar!”

“Yes. They’re drinking out of cans in a bar.”

 

PBR - Cans in a Bar

PBR – Cans in a Bar

 

I’m dying. We’re both dying. We turn our backs to the room and put our heads together so we can laugh without looking like we’re laughing at anyone. I can’t help myself, though, and I take a few pictures, exercising as much discretion as possible. Tara’s still going on in disbelief.

“I couldn’t figure out what it was, at first… I thought it was just the lottery tickets… but then I saw it, people drinking out of cans, and I knew something was weird.”

“It’s true… PBR is everywhere you look!”

“People weren’t drinking out of cans the last time I was in a bar! WTF and it’s this cheap-ass beer that I was pretty sure died in 1985. I mean, who ARE these people drinking these crappy 16-oz beers?”

I’m wiping tears from the corners of my eyes when she leans in and says, “Hey, I wonder if that guy is going to order one! I bet he will.”

I glance at the bearded gentleman sitting alone at the end of the bar. Sure enough, the bartender sets a PBR in front of him.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-PBR

 

“I remember when a can used to mean that they brought it in themselves!” Tara laughs, referring back to her bar-working days.

Some jostling starts up behind me as someone’s clumsily coming in through the back door. I turn around and start to wonder if we’ve accidentally crashed a Saturday Night Live skit about hipsters, because right on cue, enter an employee (stage left!) hauling in three more cases of PBR. He hefts them up to the bar for the bartender to manage, right in front of us.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-PBR

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-PBR

 

“They actually can’t keep enough of it behind the bar!” Tara says. “They’re bringing it in from outside.”

Later, on the phone, she remarks, “I’m sorry I didn’t order one and ask them for a glass to pour it in.”

—–

Thanks to Tara for contributing to this post!

Ophtalmologue

Yesterday was my optometrist appointment at the V.A.

 

My eyes en route to the V.A. eye doctor.

My eyes en route to the V.A. eye doctor.

 

First, the doctor consulted my chart to check my age. Then looked at me suspiciously, but smiling.

“I have to ask you this,” he prefaced carefully. “Do you ever notice that you have a hard time seeing close print when you’re wearing your glasses for distance?”

“Sometimes, yes,” I answered truthfully, giggling. I knew where he was going, and I couldn’t contain my mirth. At last! I’ll be 45 in two months, and I’ve finally reached the crossroads of life with “BIFOCALS” pointing one way and “READING GLASSES” the other. SO EXCITED.

I’m not even being sarcastic. This might sound weird, but I’ve been eagerly anticipating aging-related far-sightedness since my 30’s, when I started noticing reading glasses in interesting, artsy styles and colors displayed in the drugstores. Before Callaghan and I left France, I made sure to pick up a couple of pairs so when the time came I’d be all set with some cute French ones.

 

Reading glasses from the Pharmacie du Vercors in Bourg-de-Péage, one of the villages close to where we lived in France.

Reading glasses from the Pharmacie du Vercors in Bourg-de-Péage, one of the villages close to where we lived in France.

 

I keep the black pair on my desk, and the hot pink and black ones in my purse. Recently, I’ve actually had occasion to bust them out to read the ultra-fine-print on food packaging ingredients lists at the store. (I read the ingredients on absolutely everything. Funny how food manufacturers often make it deliberately difficult with their microscopic fonts.)

“We’ll find out in a minute,” he reassured me as he slid over to the equipment. At the end of the exam, he was still grinning. We’d whiled away the time bantering about this and that, and he’d dilated my eyes and pronounced them healthy.

“Okay,” he said. “Now we have a little decision to make!” He explained that I could get bifocals if I wanted to, but I don’t really need them right now, and once you get bifocals, you can never go back, and that might be a good reason for me to wait another year. If I wait another year, I could easily deal with the mild far-sightedness I’ve got going on at the moment. I don’t wear my glasses all the time, anyway. My prescription is very light.

“In any case, I’d say you can get away with another year,” he concluded. “But it’s really up to you, since you’re so borderline. You can get bifocals when you’re 46….” He paused. I was cracking up.

“We make them without lines now.”

“I think I’ll pass on the bifocals this year. I have some cute reading glasses from France that I want to use.”

“Do you have them with you? Let me see these French reading glasses!”

I extracted the glasses from my bag and put them on.

“Oh they ARE cute!” the doctor said.

I left after ordering a pair of normal glasses with tortoiseshell frames in a modified cat-eye. The V.A. has quite an impressive selection! They look nothing like BCGs.

Birth Control Glasses… Classic!

Yeah, we all know my inner girly parts have left the party, so no need for birth control anything, but I’m getting these glasses, anyway.

Let me explain. See, I have an appointment at the Eye Clinic at the Veteran’s Outpatient Clinic in the first week of September. I’m going to get glasses there because I can, and I need them – not 24/7, but for watching movies and staring at computer screens for long periods of time, which I do (ahem) kind of a lot, being both a movie fanatic and a writer. My current state of “glasseslessness,” shall we say, has gone on long enough. I do have a pair at the moment, but the right-side lens is flawed… it fogs up spontaneously while I’m wearing them, so they’re pretty much useless. Has anyone else experienced this problem with their glasses?

Anyhow, I wasn’t even aware that I was eligible to get glasses from the V.A. until I attended the New Patient Orientation last month, and the presenter covered that topic as he navigated down through his informative Power-Point presentation. I almost missed it, because the subject came up while I was only listening with one ear. (My other ear was momentarily tuned in to my inner voice, which was busy wondering what we were going to have for lunch. I was hungry.)

I heard the venerable older Vet utter the words “eye exam,” and the word “glasses.” And then, as he casually continued on, he used a term I hadn’t heard in many years: “BCGs.”

It took a second for it to come back to me, but once it hit, I started laughing. I couldn’t contain it, and I instantly felt like a Bad Person for interrupting him. He paused… glanced my way… and burst out in laughter, as well! BCGs. Damn! I hadn’t thought of them in so long.

“You’re a Stormer, right?” he asked me, verifying that I was the Gulf War vet on his roster.

“Yes,” I said. The connection was made. Mutual laughter is a wonderful thing.

The military has acronyms for everything, and everything you need is provided as standard military-issue. If you need glasses, you’re issued glasses, and those glasses are known by the acronym “BCGs.” Birth Control Glasses.

The idea is that the glasses are so ugly, you won’t be able to get laid if you’re wearing them. It’s a joke, but “BCGs” is seriously what everyone in the Army calls them. It’s practically their official name, and that’s what’s so funny about it. All soldiers know what BCGs are… at least, they did during my time. I’m sure it’s still the case today. The Army is fairly change-resistant in many ways.

Depending on the era, BCG frames can be horn-rimmed or slightly squared-off, but they’re always large, thick and dark (either black or brown).

Callaghan was sitting there with me, and he was confused. Being French, he was thinking of tuberculosis. In French, “BCG” is the term for the tuberculosis vaccine (Le vaccin bilié de Calmette et Guérin).

 

French tuberculosis vaccine on the left, American military standard-issue glasses on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

French tuberculosis vaccine on the left, American military standard-issue glasses on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

In the civilian world, hipsters have now made BCGs a part of their basic everyday uniform. See how that works? Military HAS to wear them. Hipsters WANT to wear them. (Come to think of it, civilians also like to wear camo print and combat boots. Solider fashion, always in fashion! It’s a classic… never goes out of style. Hmm….)

And so it is that I shall obtain a pair of glasses from the V.A., and I’m grateful for it. When we wandered into the glasses area while we were down there last week, I saw that there’s a plethora of available frame styles, and some of them are quite attractive… so the glasses I get don’t have to be actual BCGs, unless I choose them with the civilian hipness factor in mind. Still, the idea of glasses from the V.A amuses me.

Now for the obvious question: If these glasses are perched on the favorable end of the desirability scale in civilian hipsterdom, what would that make them, in that case? “PGs” – Pregnancy Glasses? “GLGs” – Get Laid Glasses? Parents of hipster kids, lock up those glasses!