2020 – YEAR IN REVIEW.

There’s nothing I can say about the retreating year that everyone isn’t already thinking, but I’ll put it forth anyway since this is my 2020 “year in review” post:

2020 said, HAHA let’s start off the new decade with a shitshow! Its brightly anticipated, shiny-new-thing luster dulled quickly, as if we’d been sold a fake. After just three months, we couldn’t see our reflections in it anymore.

Then 2020 combusted in a raging dumpster fire that wouldn’t go out.

So now it’s 2021, but dumpster fires are disagreeable and rude, and this one’s no exception. It’s not about to be extinguished with the flip of a calendar, and it hasn’t. 2021 is 2020’s Act 2. If we’re lucky, the final six months of the new year will return us to normal, whatever that even is, so we can at least look forward to that.

For me, personally, though, 2020 was a wondrous year (despite starting out with pneumonia), and the fact that such a year could take place concurrently with a dumpster fire kind of says everything about my life, if I’m going to be honest and self-absorbed about it. The virus is scary and relentless and saddening, but it’s only because of it that I’m happy. I’m myself. I’ve settled into a state of contentment overlying a subtle frequency of thrill, like an energetic zen, and I’m in better physical condition than I was in the Before Times.

And no, I still have no plan to sign up for a gym membership once the All Clear is sounded. Taking my workouts from the gym to the living room made an amazing difference, dumbbells in my private space proving to be just as effective, if not more so, and the whole circumstance opening up a plethora of workout options that I can take whenever I please.

What I want to do in 2021 is to write more poems and to sleep more. Broken-record aspirations. I’m leery in the suspicion that these two things might be mutually exclusive. Maybe they aren’t. I hope they aren’t, because I’d really love to achieve both.

On a lighter note, I thought I’d scroll through the search terms that brought people here to my blog in 2020 and then share some of them with you. If you’re here because you found me using one of these search terms, thank you… and thanks for sticking around!

2020 TALC search term hall of fame:

1). body disposal scene with acid
2). ezema ginka porn
3). what do you get when you cross a flamingo
4). dinner short horror
5). does hydroen peroxide kill flesh eating bacteria
6). palm tree roaches
7). hydrogen peroxide vs flesh
8). aisian naked blog
9). veloceraptor save doors
10). bodycombat geronimo 69 (<– my personal favorite)
11). does hydrogen peroxide eat away at your flesh
12). yoga crotch shot
13). panic at the disco panic at the costco lyrics
14). flavor that comes from an insect
15). orange is the new black asian
16). victor the cleaner point of no return acid
17). reacher’s creatures
18). bradley cooper jack reacher
19). is body combat good for martial arts fitness
20). henry cavill

I love that someone found my blog when they searched for Henry Cavill.

I’ll sign off with this pic that I took when I turned around in my desk chair last night:

 

Spooky gothic evil garden votive candle holders on the left and right (courtesy of my job). In with the new!

 

I hope that your new year is off to a good start!

 

 

 

“Less One Decision on the Eve of a New Year”

I don’t know about you, but it’s New Year’s Eve where I am. 2020! We’ve reached a new decade!

In the spirit of celebration and on this occasion of reflection, I have New Year’s greetings (delivered by Nenette) and an original poem, respectively.

 

 

Less One Decision on the Eve of a New Year

You looked to see if your reflection was chance.

The stillness was there –
you bent to take a drink.
Above the agitated circles of your vision
there was the sleek tube of scales
sliding near and you, the skeptic,

named this for your own doubting mind.
You said, Viper, return us as leaf-shadows
on tin awnings, crisp and certain,
or as the sky in rust, defined as the cracked
blood on the ground. Return us
as rain.

Such precision could cast us back in.
It could revolutionize everything.

~~~~~

May 2020 bring out the best in us all.

 

 

Cancel your resolutions! (Staying motivated in the new year.)

We’re early enough in the new year that we’re still thinking and talking about our resolutions, or about our decision to not make them, as the case may be.

More than once, I’ve been asked how I keep my resolutions, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on that, for whatever they’re worth.

I’m not a life coach or a psychologist. I don’t have it all figured out. There seems to be no end in sight when it comes to my manner of inadvertently f*cking shit up or making a fool of myself or both, and the last thing I am is the walking picture of contentment, regardless of the (considerable) depth of my gratitude.

But I’m strong-willed when I have the passion to fuel my drive, and I do have a lot of that. In my opinion, that’s most of what we need. It’s hard to stick with resolutions in the absence of passion.

My main advice would be to cancel the resolution if you lose your passion for it. Focus your energy elsewhere! If the resolution is of critical importance, you will come back to it – or it will come back to you – once you’ve given yourself a break from the pressure of it. Sometimes that’s all we need to kick-start our second wind (or third, or fourth, or tenth): a break. Put that resolution down and back slowly away. Don’t hang onto it and worry over it and lament your struggle and your apathy and your “failure.” Just put it aside.

Yes, reverse psychology on your own self works.

If the resolution is not of critical importance, then you didn’t really need it, anyway. Sometimes, the mood you’re in when you make non-critical resolutions isn’t the mood you stay in for the next 365 days. That’s okay. That’s not a failure; that’s a realization.

Some other thoughts regarding staying motivated and not sabotaging yourself in sticking with your resolutions as the new year gets underway:

1). Deadlines hold no power. They really don’t. If you’re the kind of person who gets overwhelmed by the notion of a deadline, then try to relax where that’s concerned. Any progress is still progress. If all you can do today is get out of bed and get dressed, then you’ve accomplished something!

2). Don’t say too much – not to be secretive, but to keep something sacred within. There’s something weirdly empowering about hoarding a goal or an aspiration. Maybe it’s just that if no one knows you’re aiming for it, then no one can ruin it… no one can judge your progress or lack thereof. Having a resolution that only you know about turns that effort into something magical, a secret quest, a journey that you take alone. Share a resolution or two with others, but keep one for yourself. It’s amazing how progress toward your secret goal can help to build your confidence.

3). Helplessness is a mere state of mind. If you feel helpless, tell yourself that you’re not, because needing help and being helpless are two different things. Thinking “I am helpless” is self-sabotage. Thinking “I need help” is not. If you’re capable of asking for what you need, then you’re not helpless… if you need help and you have the wherewithal to ask for it, you’re not helpless. You’re more resourceful than you know, and you have more courage than you know.

4). Your journey is directed by you. You can make your own decisions, own them, learn from your mistakes, and move forward accordingly. When it’s all said and done, you have executive power over your own life.

5). Suffering is a fact of life; it’s a motivator, not an impediment.

 

January 2018 – Here’s to a bright and beautiful new year.

 

Another thing to remember: every week has a Friday, whatever day that may actually be! Again, you can decide what day that is. Revel in it.

 

In a nutshell. (December Favorites!)

Happy New Year! I can’t say that enough. Every day since last January, 2017 showed no sign of ending anytime soon, and now, at long last, it’s over. At the same time, the year went way too fast. 2017 was the split personality of years in my life, and it leaves me excited for 2018.

I’m starting 2018 with a new approach to these “monthly favorites” posts: I’m going to answer three questions about each “little thing” on my lists, rather than writing paragraphs about them. If I have something more to say about something, I’ll devote a separate post to it. Starting now, these posts will be more visual, less blah-blah-blah.

 

1). Darkest Hour

 

 

What I liked: The acting, the direction, the musical score, the story of Dunkirk from the back end, Gary Oldman’s make-up and costume, the overall quality of the production.

What I didn’t like: It dragged slightly in some places, but not enough to lessen my regard of the film.

Would I recommend it? Yes, especially if you enjoy biopics.

 

2). Black Mirror (S4)  (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: Every story in every episode, the writing, the direction, impact/thought-provoking nature of the stories, the big philosophical questions raised, the overall excellence of the production.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. You might enjoy this even if you’re not a fan of sci-fi thrillers.

 

3). The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The writing, the acting, the costumes and set, the entertainment factor, the film’s freshness and overall excellence.

What I didn’t like: Some of the humor fell flat on me.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

4). I Love Dick (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The story, the writing, its presentation as art, its unapologetic rawness, some of the acting (mainly Kathryn Hahn’s).

What I didn’t like: Just that its IMDB rating is much lower than I’d expect it to be. In my opinion, this series is curiously underrated.

Would I recommend it? NOT TO EVERYONE. If you’d rather not see sexually explicit stories and raw, “artistic” story-telling of such material, I would not recommend.

 

5). Mom’s cooking.

 

Okara with brown rice and furikake

 

What I liked: Everything, meaning the tofu and the okara pictured above. Mom brought freshly made tofu from the little tofu place in my hometown’s J-town (Japan-town), so it was the tofu of my childhood. It’s nothing like the prepackaged tofu you get in a box in the supermarket.

Okara, by the way, is Japanese for “rubbish,” in a sense, from what I understand… as a dish, it’s the scraps leftover from the making of fresh tofu. You could buy it in bags and cook it up with dashi (Mom used plant-based dashi), seasonings, and finely chopped shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and carrots. It’s one of my favorite home-cooked dishes. Grandma used to make it just for me!

What I didn’t like: That it was, perhaps, the last time I’d eat it. With the closing of the little family-run tofu factory (there’s no one left to take it over), fresh tofu and okara may be a thing of the past.

Would I recommend it? Yes, but this is irrelevant, of course.

 

6). Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels.

 

Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels

 

What I liked: High nutrient density in a bread that seems like a cheat-day indulgence.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. I’ve been eating one of these a day almost every day for over a month, and I’m not tired of them yet.

 

7). Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter.

 

Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter

 

What I liked: Peanut butter on an apple pie Larabar is as delicious as peanut butter on fresh apple slices. It’s a satisfying nutritional powerhouse of a treat.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? If the apple/peanut butter flavor combo appeals to you, then yes.

 

8). Cara Cara oranges.

 

Cara Cara oranges

 

What I liked: These beautiful red-fleshed navel oranges (they are not blood oranges) are incredibly sweet and juicy, and they have just a hint of tropical flavor.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

9). Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract).

 

Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract)

 

What I liked: This overnight mask makes my skin look more smooth in the morning. It goes on like a thick lotion that dries into a pleasant, slight tightness; it’s not sticky, as other overnight masks often are. I layer this on over my nightcream every night.

What I didn’t like: Its schoolroom fragrance (paste, maybe?) is somewhat strange, but actually, I don’t dislike it. It may be a turn-off for some people, though.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

10). OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter.

 

OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter

 

What I liked: Just that it actually works to smooth out the frizzy fly-aways all over my head, and it doesn’t make my hair feel heavy or greasy.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

The End. How’s that for succinct?

Until next time!

Year in review, looking ahead, and my favorite little things (2016 favorites!)

Happy New Year! I know I probably already said that, but “Happy New Year” again. This is my annual year-in-review/resolutions/favorites of my past year’s favorites post.

1). 2016 was exciting, but I don’t have to be wistful about it because the good things are continuing into 2017.

I’m still heartened with deep satisfaction from the life changes I was able to make in 2016. It was a particularly great year occupation-wise. About this, I can only say that I’m thankful every day to experience the feeling of vitality the luckiest people feel when they wake up driven and eager because they know they’re going to spend the day doing what they love, where and how they love doing it. Any work-related stress I experience is self-imposed, productive stress. I keep thinking this is all a splendiferous dream. I’m aware that I may have to wake up one day, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Fitness-wise, adding (Les Mills) Body Pump to my workout routine was the best thing I did in 2016. It took me almost the whole year to get here, but I finally did, and I. Am. Loving. It.

The year was rich and rewarding family-wise, too. We spent lovely time with my family (between my brother’s wedding and Thanksgiving), and it was fun ending the year with my sister-in-law and her boys during their longish visit.

One thing we did with them was the annual Phoenix Zoo Lights, which is great, anyway, but so especially awesome with kids!

 

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016

 

With Legoland now open down the way at Arizona Mills (where we also went with the kids), Legos were featured in this year’s Zoo Lights:

 

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016 (with Lego sculpture)

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016 (with Lego sculpture)

 

On the darker side of 2016: It was a hard year in terms of our furbabies. It involved upheaval, heartbreak, and a lot of time, effort, and money spent trying to make life good for our kitties. It’s not over, but we’re determined. Our focus at the moment is on healing Cita physically. After that, we can focus entirely on healing her emotionally, with the ultimate goal of integrating her into our household with Nenette… yes, we’re going to attempt that again. We are not going to give up.

We’re already doing what we can to make Cita’s environment as stress-free as possible – putting Feliway (comforting feline pheromones) in her air, and Bach Rescue Remedy in her water – so we’re off to a running start. Reducing her stress is helping her to heal, in general.

2). Looking ahead at 2017, I am:

–Starting out the year with an updated workout routine, doing 3 Body Pump classes and 2 Body Combat classes per week, instead of the other way around. It was time for a change, and my body is loving it!

–Continuing work on alleviating (if not overcoming) my PTSD-related claustrophobia via repeated trips to the sensory deprivation tank.

–Speaking more French at home, since I completely failed last year’s resolution and spoke practically no French.

3). I usually do a “favorites of the past year” list; continuing with the tradition, here’s my list of my favorite of my 2016 favorites!

Favorite Random:

  • Les Mills Body Pump
  • Nature’s Wick Bonfire Nights candle

Favorite Skin care, hair care, cosmetics (all cruelty-free… not tested on animals):

  • Derma e antioxidant natural sunscreen with clear zinc oxide SPF 30
  • OGX Healing + Vitamin E shampoo and conditioner
  • The Body Shop Honey and Oat 3 in 1 moisturising scrub mask
  • The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil
  • The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter
  • e.l.f. Flawless Finish foundation (in Sand)
  • e.l.f. High Definition Powder in Soft Luminescence
  • e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette

Favorite Foods (all vegan):

  • Scivation Xtend BCAAs (strawberry kiwi)
  • Bragg’s organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • Trader Joe’s multi-grain sourdough (with sunflower and sesame seed) bread
  • Eureka! Seeds the Day bread
  • Seedless red grapes
  • KIND Nuts and Spices bar (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)
  • Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter
  • Chipotle Tabasco sauce

Favorite Movies:

  • Hush
  • Ghostbusters
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hacksaw Ridge

Favorite T.V. series:

  • Orphan Black
  • The Americans
  • Empire
  • The Affair
  • American Horror Story: Roanoke
  • Better Call Saul
  • Bates Motel
  • Stranger Things
  • Black-ish
  • Speechless

That’s it for the wrap-up. Onward!

Presenting the First NOT UNLIKE of 2014!

It’s Friday, an ideal day for a NOT UNLIKE featuring Ronnie James. (I know – that was just what you were thinking!) Knowing that we were overdue for one, Wrah-Wrah kindly presented us with a great NOT UNLIKE opportunity.

As you may remember, he has a favorite toy featuring feathers. We were using it to play with him the other day, and when Callaghan teased him by laying the feathered part over his head, his resemblance to Andy Warhol struck us at the same time. We laughed about it.

Then it occurred to us: Andy Warhol. Wrah-Wrah. ANDY WRAH-WRAH.

 

Ronnie James (aka Wrah-Wrah) on the left. Andy Warhol on the right. = Andy Wrah-Wrah. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James (aka Wrah-Wrah) on the left. Andy Warhol on the right. = Andy Wrah-Wrah. NOT UNLIKE.

 

Seriously, doesn’t his face even look like Andy’s?!

Happy First Weekend of the year!

 

Bonne Année! Let’s Rejoice.

Okay, let’s roll out 2014’s blog posts on a frivolous yet utterly momentous note: I finally did something about my hair! Or, rather, I finally sat myself in the chair of someone who could do something with it. Staggering, I know… but finding a stylist who could smooth out all the jagged, shaggy shapelessness I had going on before feels like an immense accomplishment. Wonder Stylist’s name is (fill in the blank), and she works at (insert name of cheap, walk-in hair-cutting chain, because you know I won’t spend more than $15.00 on a haircut) on (insert name of intersection conveniently near us), and there you have her… my new secret weapon. Here’s hoping she’ll stay there for a while, since stylists at those places tend to migrate around from location to location. I followed my last girl all over the East Valley for five or six years until I left for France! This girl’s sort of new there, though, so I think she’ll stick around. She’s brilliant with a pair of scissors, she gives a great scalp massage, and she’s really nice.

This haircut was not an agenda item for yesterday. I simply woke up at the point where I had to run out and get it done. It had been bothering me for a long time, and it just felt like the thing to do on the last day of 2013.

I went outside this morning and took some pictures so you can see, kind of:

 

Just-rolled-out-of-bed-hair, with just a bit of a breeze in it... no product or styling.

Just-rolled-out-of-bed-hair, with just a bit of a breeze in it… no product or styling.

 

It’s nothing special, but the choppy, shaggy layers are gone and it's all blended out and finally looking like it has a direction, so that's satisfying.

It’s nothing special, but the choppy, shaggy layers are gone and it’s all blended out and finally looking like it has a direction, so that’s satisfying.

 

 

It feels good to be past the “awkwardly growing out a super short precision cut” stage. It’s the end of an era, so to speak, and just in time for the New Year.

I hope you did something… or will do something… small yet important for yourself to ease into 2014 with aplomb! Sometimes, that which seems superficial actually isn’t, at all.

 

 

Scenes from a Birthday Weekend

Friday was my birthday, so I thought I’d inundate this space with some pictures! Surprise! heheh.

First, a brief reflection: I’m now 45. Honestly? The only way I feel different is better than ever. I’m grateful to have no health complaints, I’m happy to finally have a use for the cute reading glasses I got in France, and I’m eager to set off down whatever path the New Year unrolls before me. I always loved how my birthday blends into the New Year, being at the end of December… I never thought of my December 27 birthday as being “unfortunately” lumped into Christmas. It’s all about the New Year, as far as I’m concerned.

Recently, I broke open a cookie fortune and got a fortune that catches my current drift splendidly:

 

The fortune I got a week or so before my birthday.

The fortune I got a week or so before my birthday.

 

Oh, the magic of a fortune cookie! “Creative energy is up – capitalize on it.” Yes. Yes, that is true, and yes, I will!

So, we spent the weekend at some favorite local haunts. First, Callaghan took me out on a lunch date. Deciding where to go was easy – I just wanted to satisfy my craving for Pita Jungle’s certifiably to-die-for lentil fetoosh salad. (The spellcheck wanted to change “fetoosh” to “fetish,” which is pretty clever. That salad has some serious addictive properties.)

The weekend also involved:

–A pedicure with Callaghan. Well, initially it was going to be just me, but shortly after we got there, he found himself getting his feet rubbed, too…the ladies there were quite persuasive, but it took little arm-twisting to get him in the chair next to mine. As the forty minutes of expert and intense foot and lower leg pampering and massaging wound down to its conclusion, he looked over at me and exclaimed, “Wow! I can’t wait for your next birthday!” I think he enjoyed it.

 

My Big Lebowski-inspired nail color selection

My Big Lebowski-inspired nail color selection

 

The deep, shimmery greenish-black nail polish I chose is OPI’s “Live or Let Die,” but it should be called “YOU WANT A TOE? I CAN GET YOU A TOE. THERE ARE WAYS, DUDE.” (Though this polish is darker than the Big Lebowski Nihilist Chick’s.)

–A detour through Papago Park on our way home.

 

Papago Park - one of my favorite places!

Papago Park – one of my favorite places!

 

Callaghan and his shadow

Callaghan and his shadow

 

Me and my... cactus!

Me and my… cactus!

 

–Also, after several months of Homeland deprivation, seven episodes suddenly became available… so we holed up for some serious binge-watching.

 

Ronnie James settled himself on Callaghan's legs to catch up on Homeland with us.

Ronnie James settled himself on Callaghan’s legs to catch up on Homeland with us.

 

–And there was the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl game on the 28th…

 

Sun Devil Stadium bore the banner of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for the show-down between Michigan and Kansas State on the 28th.

Sun Devil Stadium bore the banner of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for the show-down between Michigan and Kansas State on the 28th.

 

–We didn’t go to the game, but we went to sit on the patio at Rúla Búla for a little while…

 

At Rúla Búla, December 28, 2013

At Rúla Búla, December 28, 2013

 

On our way out of Rúla Búla, I glanced up at one of the T.V. screens and winced on behalf of Michigan, because I’m partial to the Wolverines, and man, that score was painful. Final Score: Kansas State, 31; Michigan, 14. Oof.

At least the Wolverines and their attending fans got to hang out in paradise for a couple of days. I’m here to tell you, there’s hardly a sight as gleeful as a Michigan fan skipping down the street in Tempe, Arizona WEARING SHORTS AT NIGHT at the end of December!

–Strolling home, we admired Mill Avenue’s holiday lights, which always stay up until after New Year’s:

 

Holiday lights on Mill Ave

Holiday lights on Mill Ave

 

…and here we have my beloved mill, street-side:

 

The street-side building of Hayden Mill at night.

The street-side building of Hayden Mill at night.

 

I guess if I could marry any building, it would be that mill, haha!

 

Walking by the light rail station at 3rd St.

Walking by the light rail station at 3rd St.

 

–And, of course, there was the Ronnie James.

 

Ronnie James birthday hugs.

Ronnie James birthday hugs.

 

It was a lovely weekend, and I’m ready for 2014!