And they all fall down. (November favorites!)

Let’s just jump right into this list of enjoyable little things I discovered in November!

 

1). Jacket weather.

 

Winter has come.

Winter has come.

 

Okay, I didn’t discover this, but it happened, and I love it. Jacket weather has arrived! (My hair isn’t this light; this pic shows an illusion of the aggressive lighting in the optometrist’s room in which I was sitting yesterday afternoon. My hair looks red under light, anyway, but this pic is beyond.) It doesn’t matter what the calendar says… if it’s cold enough to wear a jacket – in the 60’s – it’s winter.

 

2). Night School (novel by Lee Child)

 

Lee Child's 2016 Reacher release!

Lee Child’s 2016 Reacher release!

 

It’s here, and I finally got my hands on it! I’m about half-way through, and I’m hooked, as usual. I’ll probably devote a post to this new Reacher novel of Lee Child’s.

 

3). Nerve (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-nerve

 

We were looking for a fluffy cinematic escapade for mindless entertainment one day, and we happened upon Nerve. We chose it because of Emma Roberts and the fact of having seen the trailer and remembering how we thought we discerned a unique premise for a sci-fi thriller… and that’s exactly what we got. And we were entertained. Success!

 

4). The Affair S3 (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-theaffairs3

 

This season of The Affair is strikingly dark compared to the last two seasons, which were also dark, if that gives you any idea about this stunning series. Season 3 takes you down into an abyss, a drop that’s immediately evident as that eerie song of Fiona Apple’s in the opening credits now harmonizes with beautiful and morbid images of the characters sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

 

 

The Affair just gets better and better. The story seems straightforward enough as it begins in the first season, but by the time you’ve watched the first two/three episodes of the third season, you have no idea, really, what you’ve gotten into.

 

5). Acure night cream.

 

Acure night cream

Acure night cream

 

I think this cream may have appeared in a list from last year. It’s making a reappearance, as I’ve started using it again, and I still think it’s great. I’ve tried some very good night creams this year; my favorite is still Yes to Blueberries, but I’m enjoying using this one by Acure at the moment.

 

6). Amy’s organic lentil vegetable soup (light in sodium).

 

Amy's organic lentil vegetable (light in sodium) soup

Amy’s organic lentil vegetable (light in sodium) soup

 

I eat a lot of soup these days. I love homemade soup, but more often than not, I grab whatever can of soup we have on hand. It’s always Amy’s. This lentil vegetable one is my favorite. It’s “light in sodium,” but not to worry… it’s nothing a few twists of the salt grinder can’t fix! I load it up with pink Himalayan salt and figure I’ll deal with the repercussions of excess sodium consumption later. I’ve got to have some vices, right? At least one? And as far as processed foods go, Amy’s soups really aren’t that bad.

 

7). Clif Kid Organic Z bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter.

 

Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter topping

Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter topping

 

This bar appeared on last month’s list. Its taste reminds me of Fig Newtons, which I love. But now I top it with peanut butter for some added protein, and the aftertaste takes it from Fig Newton to pure oatmeal cookie. I’m so glad I tried this!

 

8). Scivation Xtend BCAAs in strawberry kiwi.

 

Scivation Xtend BCAAs (strawberry-kiwi)

Scivation Xtend BCAAs (strawberry-kiwi)

 

When deciding on BCAAs to supplement my weight-training workouts and muscle recovery, my only concern was finding a good one that’s vegan. I’d never taken BCAAs before, so I dove into some research and came up with Scivation Xtend. I got the strawberry kiwi. The flavor is good, and it works well in getting me through a Body Pump session and recovering faster afterward. SCORE.

 

9). Sumo wrestling.

 

Grand Sumo Tournament 2016

Grand Sumo Tournament 2016

 

Sitting in front of the T.V. with Dad when we were in California for Thanksgiving, I got to revisit those favorite childhood moments of watching combat sports with him… only this time, instead of boxing, it was sumo wrestling! It never occurred to me to actually sit and watch sumo. Callaghan and I were instantly drawn in; we were surprised at how much we enjoyed it. I’m still pondering the mystery of how a match that can be over in 5 seconds can be so exciting to watch. The 15-day tournament ended on the 27th (It was the November Grand Sumo Tournament, or Kyushu Basho, in Fukuoka, Japan). We watched the last two nights here at home, on YouTube. The next tournament will be in January.

 

10). New tattoo.

 

Three swallows in flight

Three swallows in flight

 

Fresh out of the studio, freshly wrapped in plastic.

Fresh out of the studio, freshly wrapped in plastic.

 

I finally got my bird tattoos! I’ve been wanting swallows, and I love the way they turned out.

That’s it for November, and that’s almost it for 2016!

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Have I “had anything done”?

A certain person found out that I’m going to be 47 in three months. Not being one to hold back, he blurted, “No way!! Have you had anything done?!”  Complete with dramatic interrobang at the end of the question.

It occurred to me that I’m getting to an age where people might wonder if I’ve “had something done” if they think I look younger than I should.

The guy’s question made an impact in my mind because not long ago, Callaghan and I somehow became ensnared in Botched, a reality T.V. series about plastic surgery that horrifies and depresses me as much as it fascinates me. I always anticipate the cases where the patients got botched during surgeries they had had for medical reasons (birth defects, disfigurement resulting from accidents, etc.), rather than for cosmetic ones. Those cases seem to be rarities, though.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Botched

 

I’ve never had anything “done,” and I don’t plan to ever get anything “done.” The idea of having non-medically-necessary surgeries is anything but appealing to me. I’d run from cosmetic procedures involving chemicals, lasers, needles, etc., too.

I have no problem getting shots and getting blood drawn. I’m fine with needles used for tattooing art on my body. I would not be fine with a needle injecting botulinum toxin into my face. I’m not judging those who do opt for such procedures – to each their own! – it’s just not something I can see myself doing. I wouldn’t get tattooed make-up, either; again, this is just my personal preference.

You could say, I guess, that I’m hyper-squicked at the idea of it all. I wouldn’t even get Lasik surgery! When it comes to surgery, words amounting to “medically necessary” have to be included in the documentation. If insurance won’t pay for it, I probably won’t get it.

I had a facial once, about 10 years ago, and even that was a little invasive for my tastes. The facial was a component of a spa package that someone had given me as a gift, and while it wasn’t a bad experience, I didn’t enjoy it enough to want to do it again. The aesthetician was gentle and methodical, and I remember that she used a botanical line of products, which I appreciated, but I found the whole thing to be strange-bordering-on-gross. I think I just prefer my own fingers and hands working with the skin on my face.

I’m particular about how I handle my skin, as well. I once tried a motorized facial cleansing brush after years of hearing people rave about their Clarisonic facial cleansing brushes. It kind of spooked me, and I didn’t like the way my skin felt during or after using the device. I gave it to Callaghan, who also tried it once and never used it again.

Body work – therapeutic massage therapy – makes me swoon. I love scalp massages even more. I could have my feet massaged for hours, which is odd considering that I don’t like people looking at my feet. And if I could hire someone to do nothing but trace designs on my back with his or her fingertip all day, I would. That spa facial, though! It was just kind of uncomfortably weird lying there while someone cleansed my face for me.

 

I'm really not happy in this pic that was taken last night, but a fake smile is supposed to lift your spirits somehow, so this was the experiment.

I’m really not happy in this pic that was taken last night, but a fake smile is supposed to lift your spirits somehow, so this was the experiment.

 

Of course I’m flattered when people remark that I look younger than I am. I’m not immune to vanity, I’m not a humblebraggart, and my mother taught me well regarding taking care of myself, so in a sense, the compliments are a tribute to her. But as far as anti-aging efforts go, I do my own thing, and whatever happens, happens. Just because I have a skin care regimen and use some products that say “anti-aging” on the labels doesn’t mean that I’m actually anti-aging.

Currently, in the morning, I wash my face and use an eye cream and sunscreen under my make-up (I apply the latter to my face, neck and upper chest, as the appearance of your neck and décolletage can make a huge difference)… and that’s it. I stopped using daily moisturizer on my face months ago. The sunscreen I use seems to do a good enough job, so I leave it at that.

At night, I remove any make-up I might be wearing, wash my face, and put on the same eye cream before misting my face with water and adding a layer of night cream. I do a mask once a week, usually on Sundays. I also spend most of the weekend (if not all of it) make-up-free, to give my skin a rest.

As for my hair… when I go gray, I’ll continue to color my hair, with the purpose shifted from enhancement to coverage.

So I do my routine, I make sure I’m consuming the right nutrients, and I drink lots and lots of water. I try to get adequate sleep (ha!). I avoid direct sunlight on my face as much as possible, and I avoid things like refined sugars and alcohol in my diet. After that, though, I’m eager to see what I’ll look like at each stage as I mature.

Because aging is life, and life is good.

Ronnie James’ paw print, healed (and while I’m at it, here’s a look at some of my other tattoos).

One month ago last night, my heart disintegrated. It shattered into the ether, and the fragments fell and settled into an urn, the dust of my heart together with Ronnie James’ ashes. Well, Ronnie James is my heart. They are the same, and they are in a little box, and I still haven’t figured out how to navigate myself from here.

Our three hearts are broken… mine, Callaghan’s, Nounours’. I took a picture of Nounours last night at exactly the time of his brother’s death:

 

Nounours with Ronnie James, one month later.

Nounours with Ronnie James, one month later.

 

It’s like that urn is alive with Ronnie James’ pulse. We all feel him; his spirit and love are so strong.

Meanwhile, my tattoo of Ronnie James’ paw print has healed. I thought it was beautiful before, but now I can see that it’s an exquisite work of art. It’s smudgy and unevenly pigmented, looking, in other words, perfectly real – like Ronnie James left it there, himself. I’ll always be able to see the paw print of my (precious-angel-baby-bunny-dragon) Ronnie James, my petit Wrah-Wrah, my son who could never get enough cuddles or kisses.

 

My new tattoo has healed and transformed into an incredibly realistic imprint of Ronnie James' paw.

My new tattoo has healed and transformed into an incredibly realistic imprint of Ronnie James’ paw.

 

I’ve never loved a tattoo more, and that’s saying a lot, because I have a lot of tattoos that I love. My collection of tattoos spans three decades; I had my first one done on my 18th birthday in 1987 (it was before tattoos went mainstream, a “bad girl” thing to do at the time, but I didn’t care what anyone thought), and this last one was done three weeks ago. 90% of my ink is on my back, though, where my eyes can’t reach. Every once in a while, I stand at an angle in the bathroom and admire what I can see in the mirrors.

I’ll show them to you, while I’m on the subject. I took the ones of my arm – may I just remark how awkward it is to take a selfie of one’s arm? – and Callaghan took the pics of my back. All of the pictures were taken yesterday, and they’re just of my arm and back. (Not pictured: pelvis tattoo, anklet tattoo.)

 

While the wind blew! Here's a string of outlined hearts spiraling up my left upper arm. Callaghan drew them, and then I had them inked over by the tattooist.

While the wind blew! Here’s a string of outlined hearts spiraling up my left upper arm. Callaghan drew them, and then I had them inked over by the tattooist.

 

The inside of my lower left arm... and now you know one of my favorite numbers.

The inside of my lower left arm… and now you know one of my favorite numbers.

 

I took those at lunch. We did the rest when I got home from work. This selfie was the last picture I took as the sun was setting (the window is behind me):

 

I took this by fading daylight in my home office. As usual, I did nothing to the picture... the alignment of the string of lights on my hair was a total fluke that I discovered after the fact.

I took this by fading daylight in my home office. As usual, I did nothing to the picture… the alignment of the string of lights on my hair was a total fluke that I discovered after the fact.

 

And here are the back tattoo pics Callaghan took before that (I put on my very lowest-rise jeans for this, since the tiger at the bottom goes quite low):

 

It looks like a single piece, but I added to the work over time, starting in 1988 and ending in 2010.

It looks like a single piece, but I added to the work over time, starting in 1988 and ending in 2010.

 

My poor mother strongly disapproves of all of this ink. Close your eyes, Mom!

 

Here's a clearer view. The Sanskrit script at the base of my neck reads, "om mani padme hum," my favorite Buddhist mantra.

Here’s a clearer view. The Sanskrit script at the base of my neck reads, “om mani padme hum,” my favorite Buddhist mantra.

 

The dragon was my second tattoo (1988), and the first one to be done on my back. It was touched up by a different tattooist in 2010.

The dragon was my second tattoo (1988), and the first one to be done on my back. It was touched up by a different tattooist in 2010.

 

A talented friend designed my horse, which represents freedom and fortitude to me. I wanted the horse to be facing forward while looking back.

A talented friend designed my horse, which represents freedom and fortitude to me. I wanted the horse to be facing forward while looking back.

 

I’m kind of fascinated by how my phone’s camera managed to pick up little beads of sweat on my spine!

Happy Friday, All.

The Wrah-Wrah’s paw print.

Why good morning, friends. As of three days ago, I have a new tattoo, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a small one, but of all my tattoos, this one is the dearest to my heart.

Right after Ronnie James died, I suddenly, desperately wanted to apply ink to his little paw pads and press his paw onto paper. It wasn’t a thought I’d taken the time to formulate beforehand. As much as I’d tried to prepare myself, his passing was harder for me than I’d imagined it could be, and in the aftermath, I wanted something of him that would stay with me forever.

Since it was a last-minute decision, we were ill-prepared. The inks in Callaghan’s studio yielded fuzzy prints, but we thought we could work with them. They were certainly better than nothing. My idea was to have his paw print indelibly inked on the inside of my wrist, where I could see it all the time. I wanted a permanent, visual remembrance of how Ronnie James loved to touch me, and of how comforting and sweet his touch had been.

 

The Wrah-Wrah's first fuzzy little prints. The one I chose didn't come from this set, but we're going to have this sheet framed.

The Wrah-Wrah’s first fuzzy little prints. The one I chose didn’t come from this set, but we’re going to have this sheet framed.

 

When our house-calling vet brought the Wrah-Wrah’s cremains home to us two days later, she surprised us with another sheet of paper on which she’d stamped some lovely, clear Wrah-Wrah prints, a thoughtful gesture that touched us deeply. I vacillated between my two favorites before deciding on this one:

 

Getting an idea of how it would look....

Getting an idea of how it would look….

 

Callaghan loved it and decided to get the same tattoo. We went to the Club Tattoo down the street here in Tempe to make an appointment with the person who’d done my last (spiral of hearts) tattoo. We made our double appointment for Saturday afternoon.

 

Ronnie James' paw print realistically done in four shades of black/gray.

Ronnie James’ paw print realistically done in four shades of black/gray.

 

The same tattooist did that spiral of hearts around my arm in 2011, right before the move to France. (In case you're wondering, no, I don't lift weights. I just do Body Combat 3x / week. I do want to get back in the garage to work out, though... it's been a good couple of months.)

The same tattooist did that spiral of hearts around my arm in 2011, right before the move to France. (In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t lift weights. I just do Body Combat 3x / week. I do want to get back in the garage to work out, though… it’s been a good couple of months.)

 

I explained to our tattooist that I wanted the tattoo to look smudgy and real, as if Ronnie James’ inked paw had been pressed directly onto my wrist. He expertly used four shades of black/gray to achieve the effect with shading. I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out. I absolutely adore it.

 

Now I'll always have the Wrah-Wrah's paw on me.

Now I’ll always have the Wrah-Wrah’s paw on me.

 

And here’s a bad selfie, just for fun. (How do people take mirror selfies, anyway? It never worked out the few times I tried it. It must be an art form.)

 

Thwarted by lighting! Useless selfie attempting to show my freshly bandaged wrist... but you can see Callaghan in the background getting his tattoo done, so there's that.

Thwarted by lighting! Useless selfie attempting to show my freshly bandaged wrist… but you can see Callaghan in the background getting his tattoo done, so there’s that.

 

Callaghan loves his tattoo, as well. He asked to have the print altered just a tiny bit, and we wanted ours angled slightly differently, and he positioned his further down his wrist than mine, and he has his on his left wrist, while mine is on my right… so our Wrah-Wrah prints aren’t exactly identical. The Wrah-Wrah loved us both, but differently. He touched us both, but differently.

The Wrah-Wrah is Forever.

Make-Up? Big Ugly Deal!

For some reason, make-up bashing seems to be coming into vogue. Generally, I’m hearing things like “make-up is nonsense,” and its users are “superficial” or “high-maintenance.” We are reassured that we don’t need to wear make-up, so we shouldn’t worry about it. Of course, in our beauty-obsessed culture, it’s flattering to hear that we can bypass cosmetics because we look great the way we are. These are nice words to hear. But it’s also kind of a dubious compliment, when you think about it. It’s like, thank you for your approval of our un-made-up faces, because otherwise we’d think that we would, indeed, need to wear make-up. We would feel “naked” without it. And that’s terrible, right? It’s sad.

I love make-up. A lot of women do. We enjoy it. For many of us, wearing it isn’t a burden or an obligation to the beauty police of the world… putting it on is simply a part of our grooming and getting-ready-to-leave-the-house routines. In that sense, yes, we might feel naked without it, just as we’d feel naked without clothing. But what’s so sad about this? What’s the big deal about wearing make-up? What am I missing here?

True, it’s unfortunate that society often pressures women into believing that they need make-up in order to be pretty. I get that. No argument there. But can it be said that all women who wear make-up do so as a result of societal pressure? No. People have probably worn it long before Cleopatra came along with her dramatic, heavy eye make-up. And I’m pretty sure that Cleopatra didn’t wear make-up because she felt pressured by society.

This idea applies to other forms of body art. Think about tattoos! Tattoos have overcome years of negative association; they’re finally merging into a fashion realm approaching the mainstream to the point where tattoo intolerance is recognized as antiquated. Now why would anyone bother to understand the concept of creative self-expression behind tattooing, but profess to not understand the same of wearing make-up? They both qualify as body art. The only difference is that one is permanent, and the other isn’t.

Sure, we can look around and spot make-up that doesn’t appeal to us. No doubt there’s poorly applied make-up out there, too. We’ve all seen it. Likewise, we’ve seen tattoos that we wouldn’t choose for ourselves, or ones that are badly done. There are whole websites devoted to bad tattoos. Thing is, if you make a mistake with make-up, you can fix it. If you make a mistake with a tattoo, you’re stuck with it… unless you decide to have it removed, which is an excruciatingly painful experience, from what I understand. Make-up removal can be annoying, but the removal of a tattoo? Torturous. Time-consuming. Expensive. And it still looks like crap in the end. Maybe even worse, with the scar tissue that results.

The bottom line here, though, is that it’s our decision what make-up we wear and how we wear it, just as the tattoos we get is our choice (at the mercy of the tattooist doing the work). It’s not for us to criticize others for their personal aesthetic choices.

You know what’s sad to me? That those who decorate themselves with tattoos are still pressured – yes, by society – to cover up and hide their body art from certain people, in certain situations. Going on job interviews. Presenting yourself in other areas of the professional sphere. (We as a society still, for the most part, lag in the area of tattoo acceptance in the workplace. See the Facebook page of the same title.) Visiting with family members, potential future in-laws, your kid’s teachers, or the parents of your kid’s friends. And so on. How is this less “sad” than women feeling naked without make-up? It’s the same concept, but in reverse. Not all women feel like they “need” to wear make-up, but most people with tattoos feel that they ought to conceal them at times. We know that society can pressure us into not getting tattoos, but if we want them, we’re going to get them anyhow… because we like them. Because they make us feel good. Because they’re meaningful to us in some way. Because they’re art. Make-up, too, is an art. It’s is an art like any other art; it’s privy to subjectivity and open to personal interpretation and intention. People who apply it on others are called “make-up artists” for a reason.

Besides, make-up can be fun. Reaching beyond simple grooming and vanity, make-up is fantasy. In one way or another, everyone likes to play make-believe every once in a while. It’s a step above a daydream to feel like you’re transforming yourself, not because you don’t like who you are, but because doing so momentarily releases you from the worries that contribute to the shape of you. This is what many people find so compelling about reading novels… losing yourself in a story is a harmless form of escapism. Make-up can also make us feel liberated. It’s hard to feel imprisoned when slipping deliciously into a persona of our own creation. It’s hard to feel imposed upon when we use make-up to achieve the look we want, whether that happens to be in an enhancement capacity, or a theatrical one, or anything else.

Make-up can also serve as a powerful tool in our overall well-being. This is a documented fact: if we see the dark circles and bags under our eyes, we can end up feeling more tired than we actually are. Make-up can give us a mental and psychological boost, which can make us feel more physically vibrant. There’s something to be said for the adage “The mind is more powerful than the body.” When we look less tired, we feel less tired. When we feel less tired, we feel less old. Feeling less old means feeling more energetic. I fully believe that the younger we look, the younger we feel.

This reminds me of Coco Chanel, who said, “When you give women back their mystery, you give them back their youth.”

Mystery! The inexplicable, incomprehensible sparking of excitement and wonder and curiosity, the stirring by surprise… make-up can create a mysterious vibe if we want it to. Awesome, right? Make-up can be magical. Probably no one knew this better than Cleopatra herself.

Anyway, I’m not sure how make-up got its bad rap of being pointless, silly, frivolous, or extraneous. It doesn’t make sense to me.

When I put on make-up, I come out looking the way I want to look, not how others want me to look. I don’t need anyone’s implicit permission to go without it. I appreciate the compliments on my natural beauty, but I don’t need or want to be saved from spending time, effort and money on make-up.

I have to wonder whether Mark Antony ever told Cleopatra that he preferred her without make-up.

You know what I think we should do with cosmetics? Whatever we want. If you want to wear make-up, then wear it. If you don’t want to, then don’t. It doesn’t matter either way, because beauty isn’t about what’s on your face, and neither is your self-worth. We shouldn’t feel apologetic for wearing make-up or not wearing it. What we do with our faces is no one’s concern but our own.