Holiday Adventures

Two days before Christmas, my mother went to my sister’s home Tuesday evening to bring the food and supplies that my mom would cook for Christmas. What did she forget? The homemade pasta she made for the big meal, of course, a colander big enough to drain it all, and one of her medications.

On Christmas Eve, I ran errands and did laundry for our trip on Boxing Day to visit my husband’s family in Massachusetts. I dropped off the pasta, colander, and meds in the pouring rain to my brother-in-law on my way to the gym. I had to skip my weekly call with a colleague to get it all done, but managed to catch my friend’s weekly 80’s radio show, Ritual Noise with DJ Jack Phoenix on WKFU radio. (Wednesday nights, 8pm-10pm, for those who are interested).

On Christmas, my hubby and I drove to my sister’s house that she shares with her husband and son for Christmas feasting. One sister could not make it, but the third brought a dear friend with her. I can’t remember the last time we had a non-family member join us. But I was so glad that he came to visit because he was a nice addition to the mix.

Appetizers included seafood salad, mixed olives, shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce (props to my brother-in-law for making it fresh!), mushroom and spinach quiche, and bread and crackers for dipping in hummus. We ate my mom’s homemade pasta and sauce for the main meal. The salad went untouched because no one had room for it. My hubby and I, my mom, and my sis and her friend went for a long walk while our lovely hosts made the coffee and put out the desserts, including pumpkin pie, fresh fruit tart, lemon panettone, and a plate of chocolate covered cookies and pretzels.

On Boxing Day, we had our usual morning routine before packing and driving to southern MA, stopping for lunch at Camille’s Wood Oven Pizza in Tolland, CT for lunch. Finding this place would never have happened in the days prior to having a GPS app on my phone. What a gem! Even though it’s located as part of a strip mall, the food is high end. I would give it four stars for taste, presentation, and service. I would make this place a regular if I lived nearby.

For dinner, we took my husband’s 92-year-old aunt to her favorite restaurant as part of our Christmas present to her. We visited briefly with her after we took her back home, but I was exhausted from the all-day traveling and we went back to the hotel by 7:30pm.

On Saturday, we drove to our old hometown, Cambridge, MA so that I could get my Veggie Galaxy fix. I ordered their vegan stuffed french toast with berries and whip cream, and hubby ordered the Mass Ave. omelet that includes jalapeños. Yum! We walked from Central Sq. to Harvard Sq., met with a dear friend for an hour, T’d it to Boston to spend 1/2 hour with another dear friend, T’d it back to Harvard Sq. to meet with friends. Walked around Harvard Sq., visiting old haunts, and met up with two more friends at Beat Hotel, a fairly new restaurant that I had not eaten at before. One of my friends wrote a review of the place, if you’re interested. The ladies went to LA Burdick‘s for hot chocolate, and met up with the men at Russell House Tavern, where my husband went to get a drink from a preferred bartender, Fred Yarm.

Yesterday, we spent our lunch with my in-laws and the auntie before heading back to New York. Of course, there was a major traffic accident on I-95 in Connecticut. Honestly, that road is a total nightmare. Four hour trips become five. Three hour trips become four. You can never avoid some kind of delay to add an hour. It’s frustrating. We ate junk and got home later than I’d hoped.

Today was spent sleeping instead of dealing with this migraine that I seem to have. I considered skipping the writing again, but decided against it. This headache is probably from all the coffee I had in the last 4 days that I am now back to not drinking. That’s the only thing I would have changed about the past few days. So that’s better good, all in all.

Post Poned

… until after XMAS!

See you Monday!

Constantine, NBC TV Series

When I saw the previews for Constantine on NBC, I was kind of intrigued and started watching the show with my hubby. The series is based off of the comic Hellblazer from DC Comics. In this story, our hero John Constantine fights the forces of evil with supernatural powers to cast off demons with the help of an angel and two trusty side kicks. I’m pretty sure that a hot wit, a hot bod, and chain smoking are also some of his special powers because he has a lot of all three. The man works out, that’s for damn sure.

After we saw the first episode, we said, “That was OK. I’d give it another go.” And then we said that after the second show, and the third show, until we’d seen the entire first half of the season that culminated in its recent mid-year cliffhanger. The strength of this series seems to be the intrigue and the plot that get more interesting with each episode. On the flip side, the plot is not without holes, leaving you asking questions about why or how they failed to address something. Then I remind myself that it’s a story, that that’s the way the story went, and not to think too deeply about it because the show overall is enjoyable.

For some reason, either the network or the writers decided that John Constantine should not be seen smoking on TV, after they started out with him chain smoking. A couple episodes do not show him smoking at all. But then he’s back to chain smoking, as well he should since it’s an essential part of this character. It doesn’t hurt that Matt Ryan, the actor who plays Constantine, is smokin’ hot! Even though I can see him acting the pretty boy, this role keeps him down and dirty. I seriously don’t know what part of this man in this role is hotter: his accent, his bod, his wit, or his general “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. Maybe all of them. I am a New Yorker, after all.

I’m also a big fan of Harold Perrineau who plays the “I can’t get involved but I can give you a nudge here and there” Angel called Manny. Yes, Angel, as in has wings on his back and is among those who still walks amongst God in Heaven. He pops at least once an episode to castigate and assist John by trying to point him in the right direction without, as much as possible without becoming directly involved in the affairs of Men on Earth. If John dishes out crap to Manny, well Manny isn’t afraid to give right back to him, albeit with a side of compassion, of course. Manny’s refusal to become involved is tested in the mid-winter cliffhanger. You’ll just have to watch the series to see how that pans out.

Of the two sidekicks, Zed (played by Angelica Celaya) has a much more interesting part to play in the series than Chas (played by Charles Halford). I think the series would be well served to have Chas play a more interesting role, where he seems to pop in occasionally instead of being an integral part of the action and plot (but not as much as John, of course). Chas has a history with John and assists him with his investigations when he can, but he doesn’t have any supernatural powers of his own to add to the plot nor any interesting plot twists.

Zed, on the other hand, is a much more interesting character than Chas because she was given more to work with. We know she ran away from someone or something, but we don’t know who are what. The mid-winter cliffhanger brings us some information, but not much. When Zed touches people, she has visions about the person’s life or events in the future. But these visions are not clearcut and it takes some interpretation on the part of the characters to figure out what the visions means. The actors who play Chas and Zed bring strong acting skills with them. If their roles suffer, I feel it’s a result of the writing difficulties that have come through in the plot instead of it being because of their lack of acting experience.

The more we watched the show, the more we liked it. By the last few episodes, I realized another thing that I’ve really come to enjoy about the series: it’s a purely enjoyable fantasy. Fighting the Big Great Fight against the forces of evil that are threatening to break the open the doors of Hell to unleash itself on Earth, supernatural powers, the appearance of angels and demons in every episode,  sworn enemies temporarily coming together to fight an even bigger, scarier demon, betrayals, and twists and turns all make this series a pleasure to watch, despite its plot shortcomings.

I heard a rumor recently that said NBC had cancelled the series and that it might be moving to an online format. Today I read that Constantine is moving to an earlier 8pm Friday time slot. I hope that’s a positive sign because I think this series is worth watching, and I will continue to watch it.

Writing Progress + Practice

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
Thomas Mann

Got my butt (and the rest of myself, too!) to Starbucks for writing. Mark is working from home today. Intermittent, remote meetings means he can’t necessarily get out of the house. What do I want to do? Get out of the house, of course. So I went with my college-ruled notebook and my aging MacBook Air to Starbucks where I write.

Two days at Starbucks does not a writing habit make, but it’s a start. I have to start somewhere, don’t I? For some reason, I seem to keep going back to the start, to the beginning instead of holding steady and making progress. It’s so frustrating! I started out the year with writing at the forefront of my mind, and then I let it go and refused to pick it up again. That’s how I fail. At some point, I pick myself up and begin again.

I want to get back into writing, all sorts of writing. I can work on a novel, sure. But I have also written poetry and short stories. Working on different styles of writing can cross-pollinate your creative works. I heard about a writing contest for a 1,500 word short story. By Monday. Putting it out here so maybe you can give me a kick in the pants. It’s totally doable. I have a 6K+ word short story that I could totally adapt and make it work, or I could write a new one.

When I worked at the Berklee College of Music, I took some online creative writing courses. I still have the digital and physical materials. I was thinking about going through them again, doing some of the exercises, practicing. I did review some of the work that I did. And I thought: You know, the topic is a bit silly (I wrote about cats in more than one assignment) but the strength of the work itself stood. If you asked me then, I would have been like, Yeah. So? Now, I see that my writing skills were evident. But I need the practice.

Writing Practice is just like any other kind of practice. There is nothing in the world, no activity, that does not require practice. This means doing for the sake of doing. Sure, you’ll get better – over time. And you might be able to look back and point out a specific time where your work changes and you’ve improved.

What you cannot do is look at a single moment and declare it a failure of creativity. I mean, I guess you could. You could decide ahead of time what you wanted, measure your current effort against it, and judge it a failure. I understand that in one context – the car you designed won’t run or has a poor design that causes wind drag and increased gasoline costs.

But in terms of the fine arts, that’s a terrible approach to take. How can you immerse yourself in your work if you’re busy judging and knocking yourself down? I put that question out there as if I don’t do it myself, but I do. I am both perpetrator and victim of my creative failures. I am not calling any particular thing I do a failure. I call my inability to carry forward my dreams with the same commitment that I bring when I employed by someone else.

The great thing about this life is that the earth continues to rotate, the sun comes and goes across the sky, and that I can pick up a pen or open my computer and start putting down words that spring from my consciousness that want to escape into this world for us all to see.

Here’s to continued writing progress!

Office Date with a Doctor

Before I moved to NY last year, I was treated by Dr. A., a physiatrist (physical therapist + medical doctor), for four years for fibromyalgia. Dr. A’s approach included pain management through medications, proper sleep habits, daily meditation, diet, supplements, aqua therapy, and exercise. I implemented most of her recommendations on a regular basis. Although I did see moderate improvement in daily pain level, I experienced flare ups and my chronic fatigue, while improving over time, did not significantly see a reduction.

After moving, I found a primary care who has been willing to keep me on my current regime of pain medications (gabapentin and duloxetine). When I said I wanted to go off duloxetine, she wanted me to see a psychiatrist who would manage the administration of it. We discussed this over a couple of visits, and I told her I wanted to see a specialist  who would treat my fibromyalgia from a holistic standpoint, just like Dr. A had done. My primary gave me the name of a doctor in NYC who she thought might be able to help.

One night, I submitted my information online requesting more information. Within two hours, the doctor called me directly to talk. I was stunned at the quick response from the doctor himself, not one of his office staff. Office staff calling me back at night to make an appointment would have been unusual, but this even more so. When I asked what his availability was, I learned I could have gotten an appointment as early as two days later.

We discussed in brief my medical history, what I was looking for, and his background. In the past few years, I came across at least two other docs who claim to have had positive results working with fibromyalgia patients. One of them, Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, uses an approach to treatment he calls S.H.I.N.E (sleep, hormones, immunity, nutrition, exercise). Turns out, this local doc is friends with Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum and uses the follows the same protocols to treat his fibro/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) patients.

I said I would call the office after I had figured out my finances because their office takes no insurance. No surprise there. Because I hate rushing into things and because my husband was not around for a few evenings to discuss this, I didn’t call back until the following week.

Yesterday, I met with Dr. D. who was just as pleasant and professional in person as he had been over the phone. I brought blood test results from this year’s and last year’s annual physical exams. Last year’s testing was extensive. My new primary asked if I had been tested for Lyme and other conditions, which I hadn’t.

After looking over the results, Dr. D said my thyroid values, B12, and folic acid values were low. While I sat in front of him, he called in a custom T3 med for me at a custom pharmacy. He gave me a B12 shot in my right arm and the folic acid shot in my left arm. If you’ve never had a folic acid shot, they HURT. He told me it would hurt for an hour. Fibro increases my sensitivity to pain. I felt pulsing pain over the course of two hours, and it caused me to have a diffuse flare-up of pain throughout my body for the afternoon until the pain in the arm finally died down completely.

To address my lack of restorative sleep, he also prescribed supplements – CoQ10, L-Carnitine Tartrate, and Corvalen (Ribose). One line of thought with fibro is that it is caused by the inability of your cells’ mitochondria to take in energy. This, in turn, causes painful spots throughout the body. These supplements help the mitochondria get the energy into the cells of your body to address the pain issue, which, in turn, lets you get restorative sleep.

I bought the three supplements from the office, though I could have gotten them elsewhere, because I wanted to begin immediately. I called the custom pharmacy and provided with the information to charge and mail me the medications. I took a couple of couple of the supplements last night.

Maybe it was my imagination, but I felt a tiny speck of a bit more alert yesterday afternoon. Today, same thing, although it did not translate to me feeling well-rested. Dr. D said it would take at least a couple of weeks to start feeling better. In the meantime, I am going to get another round of blood tests next week and then see him after the new year for a follow-up.

Dr. D said that he’s helped other patients and he can help me. I told him that if that were the case that I would be floating into his office the next time I saw him.

Wish me luck!

Post Poned

I meant to write about a doctor’s office visit I had today in regards to treatment for Fibromyalgia. However, a folic acid injection I received caused a pain flare up that blew writing out of my mind. Of course, I remembered as soon as I went to climb into bed. That’s Fibro fog + pain for ya. I will write more tomorrow.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

A Post About Cute Animals

I think it’s time for a change of pace. Today I’m going to talk about and share cute animals with you.

First, I have to bring up of two cutie pie cats that I share my life with: Normie. More frequently as of late, Normie has been jumping up to sit on the cabinets above the kitchen sink so he can wash me do the dishes.

Here are some shots from this mornings Kitchen Party with Momma:

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As soon as you’re done with those dishes, we’ll play. Right, momma?

Earlier today, my cat Gwennycakes tried to meow at me. She’s a cat, you’re thinking. Of course, she meows! Well, not really where Gwennycakes is concerned. I’m not sure why she did it, except that I’ve been playing with her with a toy that she really loves for the last three days. Maybe she’s trying to tell me something?

Here are some shots of my beautiful girl:

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These are the only animals who share my life. But out there is a baby goat named Pipsqueak who is trying to become friends with a litter of puppies. Well, I can’t really describe it, so you should really just go see it for yourself.

Pipsqueak Meets the Puppies

Will Pipsqueak Ever Make Puppy Friends? Watch this and find out!

And now, a bunch of cats who can now live their lives as hamsters!

No post about cute animals would be complete without a mention of Gronk’s, posing with kittens, sometimes shirtless!! Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:

A man, any man, poses with animals wins me over. A very hot man with kittens and with less clothing is almost like I’ve died and gone to Heaven!

Almost.