Coronapocalypse quarantine week 9. (SURPRISE! I’m having surgery this week.)

Since yesterday, Arizona’s confirmed virus case-count has increased by 356, and our body-count has increased by 20. At 11,736 cases and 562 deaths, our numbers are still rising, and yet our governor is barreling ahead with his plan to lift our stay-at-home order this Friday. Expert, scientific data provided by our “universities’ model – an Arizona-specific model created by 23 researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona – has projected that the only way to avoid a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases is to wait to reopen at the end of May.” Instead of considering Arizona’s data-driven projections in making his decision, our governor fired his state’s team of scientists and is now deferring to the federal data, whatever that may be.

We’re at the mercy of the inevitable percentage of Arizonans who will run back out into the world like “THE VIRUS IS OVER! THE VIRUS IS OVER!” when in fact, it’s far from over.

I’ll stay at home, regardless. Due to sudden, unforeseen circumstances of which I’m not yet at liberty to speak, I’m having my gum-grafting surgery this Thursday, as in the day after tomorrow!

I’ve been taking my hydroxycholoroquine all this time, but it’s too late to stop it now (I read that the drug stays in your system for two months after you stop taking it), so there’s no use in worrying about it. I’ll just be prepared for another prolonged healing process.

Also, I’ve been warned that my face will bruise more severely this time, because they’ll be taking tissue from the roof of my mouth. (New readers: they used cadaver tissue when I had my upper row done in November.) November’s bruises stayed on my face for weeks. I don’t want people to call the authorities when they see my face, so I’ll probably stay at home until mid-June.

And that is how you impose a stay-at-home order.

I’m going to miss food.

My post-surgery goal this time is to not lose weight. I don’t know how I’m going to manage this, but I’m going to try. I also hope to get back into my workouts in two weeks or less. Now that I’m working out at home, I don’t have to worry about people seeing my face.

Today, I extra-enjoyed my usual afternoon snack of raw almonds with crunchy, toasted chickpeas and a pear. I’ll extra-extra enjoy it tomorrow, because that’ll be the end of it for a while.

 

Current favorite snack combo: raw almonds and toasted, crunchy chickpeas with sea salt

…and a piece of fruit

 

I hope you’re all doing well!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 8. (Fitness updates!)

I finally have fitness updates for you who’ve asked for them, and for anyone else who’s interested!

Our garage gym is at the top of the list of things for which I’m incredibly grateful during this quarantine. The virus has changed everything about my fitness regimen, and in a good way. I’m still doing Les Mills workouts via their On Demand (online) home workout subscription, but I’m using different equipment and lifting heavier than I was before. On the cardio side, I’m solidly back into Body Combat, and I’ve added a new class. I do three days of weights and three days of cardio per week, minimum.

It’s heating up outside, but that’s what the living room is for when I go to do my afternoon cardio workouts! Mornings are cool enough to comfortably lift weights in the garage.

I’m loving doing three of my six weekly workouts “with” my friend Jessica. Since our gym closed and we haven’t been able to hang out in Saturday morning Body Pump, we’ve been hanging out on the phone during Saturday morning Body Pump, instead. We both have home gym set-ups and Les Mills On Demand. We get on the phone in front of our online class and hit “play” at the same time and put our phones on speaker. We don’t talk during the workouts. It’s an invisible companionship and accountability thing. We have to show up, because the other one is expecting us. It’s rad.

Other changes:

–The new cardio class I added to my regimen is Body Step. (Thank you for suggesting it, Jessica!) The step and four risers are the only equipment I’ve had to purchase.

Those of you who’ve been here a while, remember when I tried to establish myself in a Sunday morning step class? I made the effort because it was the only other cardio class that fit into my schedule, but I didn’t love step enough to want to give up my Sundays. It’s different now that I can customize my schedule, and also, my new step aerobics experience is insane in the way that I like my cardio. The reason, of course, is that it’s Les Mills.

Step aerobics: We’re going to kick your butt with our hardcore workout!
Les Mills Bodystep: Hold my water.

Les Mills incorporates squats, lunges, regular burpees, snatch burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and variations of dynamic planks into their step choreography… and that’s just what I’ve seen so far. They also have you pick up a weight plate or two from time to time.

In other words, Les Mills Body Step is not your grandmother’s step aerobics class.

–Body Pump: I’ve ditched the barbell, and, along with it, my February whim of sticking with light weights. I’m now lifting the heaviest dumbbells possible in our barbell-less garage, as in, “to failure” in every Body Pump track. We have dumbbells up to 30 lbs, so I can start heavy and quickly drop my weights down to lighter ones when I need to.

The luxury is that I no longer have to decide beforehand what weights I’m going to use in the next hour so can bring them to my spot on the floor. If I want to change my weights during the track, I don’t have to run back and forth to the equipment area, disturbing others while weaving around them. Body Pump is fast-paced lifting (which is why light weights are also effective), so the track would be over by the time I’d get back to my spot with the new weights. Neither do I have to worry about being that person spreading into neighboring peoples’ spaces with my cluster of weights.

All of the weights are within reach, and they’re dumbbells, so I don’t have to waste time messing with the barbell. I can do drop-sets easily, and so I do.

Dumbbell-only Body Pump is also intense and challenging because it involves more in the way of stabilization, I’ve noticed. I feel like I’m working my core a lot more with the hand weights.

 

Post-workout selfie [05/05/2020]

 

Bad lighting, I know. I’m totally washed-out here! I can’t technically explain the blinding whiteness of my right leg, but my apologies to your eyes. I’m standing in front of the open back door, peering down into my phone that was situated on a case of emergency water at about stomach-level. I’m rarely thrilled with the lighting in my pics, but I’ve yet to develop an interest in learning how to fix it, so that’s on me.

ALSO, I cut my bangs again, and I’m not hating it.

April Favorites coming Thursday!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 7. (Lost in Space, but in a good way.)

There’s always a t-shirt hanging on the outside of the closet in my office, and it changes along with my general mood. I changed it today:

 

(current mood)

 

It went from a gold-with-flowers “Stay wild” to this gray-with-UFO “Take me with you,” but it isn’t to say that I’m doing poorly. Somehow, I’m maintaining the general good, steady mood I’ve been in since last July/August. It’s been almost a year of no sightless abyss! Of course I have some days that are better than others, but they follow the normal fluctuations of mood that everyone experiences in response to the vagaries of life. It’s not about being rock-solid 100% of the time. It’s about equilibrium. I’m thankful for it.

As for the t-shirt hanging here in my office, I’m just looking at the situation in the world right now and thinking longingly of other places in our galaxy. My mind has been in space a lot recently. (No, not in the way of being spacey or spaced-out… not more than usual, anyway, haha.) I’ve been spending time on NASA’s “Space-Place” site, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m enjoying it despite being two generations older than its intended audience.

I’m continuously struck by the vastness of our universe, and I want to be out there in it, floating around and visiting other places. Earth is a microscopic speck of dust in the universe; there’s no way that we’re the only life-forms in all of existence. The universe is real. I find the idea of Earth’s creatures being the only living things in it to be arrogant and absurd.

Thank you for hanging out here with me, as always. You guys are certifiably awesome.

Happy Friday Eve!

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 7. (“Await further instructions” + the 1918 pandemic.)

We’re on week 7 of the quarantine. We don’t know what will happen after Thursday, since it’ll be the last day of April, and therefore the last day of Arizona’s current quarantine order. As with the previous quarantine period that ended on the last day of March, this one will end in reassessment. It’s another AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS situation, though it’s fairly safe to say that quarantine won’t end this week.

We should stop calling it “quarantine” and just stick with its nickname “the new normal,” because that’s what it is. I think that medical experts’ suspicions that the pandemic will last for 18 months is correct. They’re saying that the second wave will hit at the end of the summer, as flu season begins. I think it would be a mistake to rush back out full-force in the interim… not while there’s no immunity, no cure, no vaccine.

On that note, I watched this Weird History video (Weird History is one of my favorite YouTube channels) and thought it was interesting in light of today’s pandemic. As usual, Weird History is at the ready with its corny jokes, but hey, props to them for trying to make a pandemic video entertaining:

 

 

In other news, an update on our wildlife situation is in order, because the squirrel I told you about last week is still around! He isn’t just a passer-by, and he doesn’t just romp around in the backyard. We’ve seen him romping in the front, too, amongst the desert vegetation we’ve got out there. Yesterday morning, I spotted him racing across our front patio and then leaping to the base of our date palm. He seems to divide his time between our yards in the front and back; we’ve settled on calling him “Curly Bill” after the Arizona outlaw involved with the Earps on both sides of the law around the time of the shooting at the O.K. Corral.

Curly Bill the Squirrel will definitely get his picture taken one day.

Meanwhile, here’s a pic I took of Nenette this morning:

 

“When I needed a hand, you gave me your paw.”

 

I also want to bring you another Geronimo update post near-future-ish. He makes my heart swoon. I took out my “reptile mom” backpack last week, but I put it away again after Callaghan observed that it looks like the virus. I guess he’s right. It’s round, and it has big soft spikes all over it.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 6. (Earth Day, and we have a SQUIRREL in our yard now?!)

Yesterday was Earth Day. Earth Day 2020. We’ve been in quarantine for six weeks, and we’re still in awe of the brightness of our desert stars, the quiet above us even as the airport is still a five-minute drive away, and, more recently, the wonderful and bewildering appearance of a large squirrel in our backyard.

A squirrel. I didn’t even know we had squirrels in Phoenix, and I’ve lived here – in various parts of the Valley – for 29 years! Not only that, but this newcomer to our yard is bigger than the squirrels I used to see in California, where squirrels in the yard are common. This squirrel is as large as most of the rabbits I used to see in the Superstition foothills.

Now I know that there are squirrels in the Sonoran Desert. It only took three decades and a pandemic to learn this.

I can’t get over it. We live downtown, and… a squirrel!

We’ve seen the squirrel three or four times now, but I’ve yet to succeed in snapping a pic. You can bet I’ll post it here if/when I can get one.

Yesterday was Earth Day, and it was also the first morning I noticed that Salem, our feral cat, didn’t sleep in her laundry room bed. She didn’t sleep there last night, either. She’s sleeping beneath the hibiscus now, we suppose, as that’s where she’s been crashing during the day. Yesterday our temps hit 90F for the first time in 2020, so Salem is apparently done with her cozy blanket until winter.

Earth Day 2020… in the middle of a pandemic.

I don’t know whether author Haroon Rashid wrote his poem “We Fell Asleep in One World” with Earth Day in mind (he wrote it with the virus in mind), but I thought about it a lot yesterday as I meditated on the generosity of our beautiful planet, which has been more than patient with us.

You may have read this poem already, but I wanted to share it here in case you haven’t:

We fell asleep in one world, and woke up in another.

Suddenly Disney is out of magic,
Paris is no longer romantic,
New York doesn’t stand up anymore,
The Chinese wall is no longer a fortress,
and Mecca is empty.

Hugs & kisses suddenly become weapons, and not
visiting parents & friends becomes an act of love.

Suddenly you realize that power, beauty & money are
worthless, and can’t get you the oxygen you’re fighting for.

The world continues its life and it is beautiful. It only puts
humans in cages. I think it’s sending us a message:

“You are not necessary. The air, earth, water and sky
without you are fine. When you come back, remember
that you are my guests. Not my masters.”

–Haroon Rashid

 

 

 

Happy belated Earth Day, everyone, and Happy Friday Eve.

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 6. (Your mail carrier knows you.)

Today, I was forced out of quarantine by some errands that needed to be run, so that was interesting. Remember when leaving your house wasn’t interesting? Wasn’t a cause for reflection? Mask, check. Gloves, check. Hand sanitizer, check. 

I think even the least social of us are getting a little antsy for in-person human interaction. I actually chatted with our mail carrier for about five minutes on the driveway this afternoon when I got back. He’s an obvious introvert, as well, so I was surprised when he said some additional words after he greeted me as I was getting out of the car.

We exchanged hellos, as usual, and then he asked, “What branch were you in?” It took me a second to process his question, and then I realized that he must’ve put something from the V.A. in the mailbox. It turns out that he did… and that he’s also an army veteran who served in the Gulf War. I never would’ve known!

I mean, I don’t know whether he would’ve struck up a conversation were we not in the middle of a pandemic. He’s probably long since deduced that I’m a veteran, since I receive a significant volume of mail from the V.A., but today, he was inclined to ask about it. I think that his interest is a by-product of social distancing. He misses social interaction.

It was nice.

It got me thinking, though, about how our mail carriers can actually know stuff about us based on the mail we receive.

Things our mail carrier knows/could know about me (were he to pay attention): where I bank, where I went to college, where I’ve donated money; that I’m a veteran, and that I’m a member of both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars; that I’m passionate about animal rights; that I have family in Hawaii; that the Asian part of my ethnicity is Japanese; that I’m a writer; that I’m over 50; that I’m darkly inclined subculture-wise; that I have an exotic pet, and also at least one other pet (reptiles are considered to be exotic, so we go to two different vets, one of them exotic-specific); that I have or have had membership at the Desert Botanical Gardens; which hospital E.R. I visited last summer; where I get my glasses; where I go for dental work; and the brands of all of my kitchen appliances. That’s all that comes to mind at the moment. I’m sure there’s more.

What does your mail carrier know about you, or could know about you were they to pay attention? They could really know you, and maybe now, they want to. I love that social distancing is encouraging us to interact… or maybe it’s just the fact that we’re all navigating this colossal, unprecedented turn of events together, and we’re feeling that energetic connection. Whatever the case, before the virus, the mail carrier said “hi” and kept walking, and so did I.

I tried to get a selfie with Nenette yesterday. It didn’t work. All this picture shows is her reticence and my subsequent disappointment:

 

::le sigh::

 

And all this picture shows is that I didn’t do a good job cutting my hair. Granted, it’s not styled, but still. I don’t regret it, though. I love the (bottom) part that I fixed:

 

Looking forward to properly addressing this mess on my head.

 

First-world problems, anyone?

 

 

 

Coronapocalypse quarantine week 5. (Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 6)

On “missed connections” during a pandemic:

With everyone in quarantine, there would either be more missed connections than usual, or less, depending on how you look at it.

The last time I did a Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse poem was in January, back in the Before Time. Just. We were on the brink, and we didn’t know it.

Be that as it may, for this sixth poem in my “Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse” series,  I read through the Missed Connections listings on Craigslist and gleaned some lines that came together in a poem that seems more wistful to me than ever.

For those of you unfamiliar with this series of poems:

To create these poems, I skim through the list of Missed Connections entries on Craigslist and pick out the subject lines that intrigue me in some way… then I arrange them into a shape that makes sense to me. (My standard explanation)

Credit goes to those strangers who unwittingly dropped wonderful bits of poetry in Missed Connections. (My standard disclaimer)

A note about this particular poem: This time, I left all punctuation (and lack thereof) exactly the way I found it. I felt that letting the lines stand alone and untouched made the final poem feel more apt for the times.

 

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 6

To the person who paid for my coffee
I broke your key in your car door
Where is our joke for today?

Saw you at the stoplight
Saw you down by the fountain
You were jogging at Tempe Town Lake

Full moon festival we danced together all night

Where are you

Seeking a friend for the end

U Haul
The extra mile
Years ago

Sad but True
Burning building
Where I took you last weekend

My last customer

 

[credit: esoteric_guru]

The End.