Writer's Life

#Review: Hobbs and Shaw 5/5

public.jpeg

I admit it: I agreed to see Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw for one reason—Joe Anoaʻi, aka Roman Reigns. Gosh, that man is gorgeous. It didn’t matter that his role was tiny, or that he didn’t utter a word. This was his film debut and I needed to see it. In that regard I was not disappointed. Joe/Roman was prominently on screen anytime he was in a scene. 

The movie as a whole also does not disappoint. The premise is engaging. Who doesn’t love family drama, especially when you know all parties truly have everyone’s best interest at heart? The action scenes get your adrenaline pumping and, unlike some movies, didn’t drag on so long that whatever disbelief you suspended crashed back. 

 The glue that holds it all together is the cast. Idris Elba and his fine self makes the perfect villain. Vanessa Kirby as Hattie Shaw steals the show in terms of her fight scenes. She is totally bad-ass. But as the two protagonists, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham carry the full weight of the movie, and no one could do it better. 

The chemistry between them reels you in. Their physical prowess and impressive comedic timing make you glad you showed up and stayed for the ride. I know I am.

Overall rating: 5/5 stars

PS Stay for the credits!i

My 600lb Life and Me

I have been trying to lose weight for a few years now. I’ve joined Weight Watchers, Tops, followed Atkins, Body Clutter, and the Body type diet. You name it, I tried it. I might have lost a pound or two but always gained it back. The desire for sweets and potato chips was stronger than my desire for fitness.

I also have the bad habit of watching TV while I eat. This adds to my tendency to overeat because I’m not paying attention to the food. Then I discovered the TV show My 600 Pound Life, which follows a patient for one year in their weight loss journey. Now, if I watch TV while I am eating, I watch this show. Trust me, this makes me acutely aware of how much food I eat.

I binge watched every season in their entirety, fascinated with the success stories and in awe that the doctor, renown bariatric surgeon Dr. Nowzaradan, didn’t throw in the towel with several of these patients. I certainly would have. 

public.jpeg

The show is mesmerizing, and I believe it’s at least partially responsible for the combined 64 pounds my partner and I have lost since starting this “Program”. I recommend it to anyone who is struggling with their weight.

As a writer, I also realized that the show closely follows the Hero’s Journey. Each episode begins with the ordinary world of the patient. We see the patients at home sharing their backstories. It’s a bit of an info dump but it works.  Next, they are offered the chance of help, but something stands in their way. Transportation to Houston where the doctor is located can pose a huge issue. Finally, a call to adventure forces the patient to make the trip and they meet the mentor, Dr Nowzaradan. Entering Houston, they cross the first threshold to become his patient. Win, lose or draw, their lives are never the same.

After the call is answered, we follow the patient through a series of tests and challenges. The doctor’s first order is to go on a very low-calorie diet and lose a large number of pounds in a month. Most patients fail this test and fall prey to temptation, some several times. They receive assistance from nutritionists, physical therapists, counseling for their emotional issues, and sometimes drug rehabilitation. With the help of these allies they deal with their issues (or not), and experience a revelation. Their reward is weight loss surgery. But the surgery is not the magic elixir many of them believe it will be.  

Now the patient must learn to eat properly and increase their activity using all they’ve learned. There is usually a setback but with the mentor’s help, they pull things together and begin to lose again. The show ends on a hopeful note with the patient making progress towards their transformation.

Over the course of their multi-year journeys, these heroes can loose 400-500 pounds. By their example, I’m reminded that I too can reach my weight loss and fitness goals.

#Review:John Wick 3 5/5 Stars

IMG_4178.jpeg

As usual, when going to see an action movie that’s been in the theater a while, my partner and I were the only women in the audience for John Wick 3. Not that it matters; I just find it interesting.

Keanu Reeves did not disappoint. As Wick, a classic “bad guy that you root for”, he swaggers. And smolders. Moreover, he made all of the improbable fight and torture scenes believable. And there were many such scenes. The action seemed unrelenting, and created fast pacing that skirted the edge of being too much. Exhilarating.

The situation the protagonist found himself in was interesting. He’d been excommunicated from the ruling order of bad guys and forfeited his life. His quest was to get his life back.

Unfortunately, a situation(or set-up) is not a plot. Stuff happened. No rising action, no darkest moment, no arc of growth for Wick.

Still, Keanu on the screen for two hours kicking ass and not taking names is worth the price of admission. Add to his presence a couple of well trained, beautiful attack dogs and you have a blockbuster. My rating:5/5 stars.

Best Laid Plans

I started out the year as I often to, determined to pay more attention to my health, become more organized so that my partner and I would have more time to play. Sometimes the Universe has other plans.

first a.jpg

I was moving along feeling good about my progress and new habits.  And then came the flu.  A case of flu that had me missing a week of work and dragging myself to work the next week, still not feeling well. I slept most of the time I was home.  

Then came the icing on the cake.  I stepped “funny”.  And not comical funny but I can’t take another step and I don’t know why funny. Since then I have not been able to drive or even sit without ice packs.  I see my chiropractor 3 times a week and am making progress, but it’s slow.

I’m sharing all of this is to explain why I’ve not been around. The blogs and newsletters didn’t make it through my haze of pain. I’m so sorry for not being present.  While full recovery is a ways off, , I still hope for improvement day by day. 

At any rate, I am most certainly back to my blog and newsletter.  And it is definitely time to get to those edits of my stories slated for release this year.

Grateful for Everyday

Chloe 1.png

Last Christmas, festivities ended for us when we came home from a family dinner and discovered Chloe, our 15-year-old puppy had thrown up and was acting lethargic.   She is a tough as nails terrier mix so this was totally out of character.

We were at our vet first thing the next morning. Our vet ran blood work and found some of her scores were well above normal and her liver enzymes were so high their instruments could not measure them.  Arrangements were made to have her seen by a specialist the following day. He did an ultrasound and found masses on her liver and pancreas. He took samples and we went home to wait for results. The passing days were excruciating. In reality, we thought we were bringing her home to die.

At the end of the week, we were told that no cancer cells or massive infection were detected.  Next stage would be surgery to take bigger samples. There were no guarantees that anything we found would be treatable or even that she would survive the samples being taken considering her blood work.

Since then we have been afraid to leave her for more than a couple of hours.  She has gotten all the attention she wanted, special food.  She cried and whimpered at night and since she sleeps in our room, that was problematic for those who had to get up early and go to work.

So, Chloe and I became night owls.  She slept peacefully in front of the fireplace until I made an attempt to go to bed.  Then she was would waken and cry.  As the weeks went on, she felt better, not crying as much.  But still wanted our nightly routine. She would sleep but periodically raise up to make sure I was on the sofa and then go back to sleep. That progressed to me being able to go to bed at some point as long as the light was left on for her.

For the record, I can’t seem to catch up on sleep.  I fall asleep if I close my eyes and sometimes even while I am talking.  Concentration is nonexistent. But that’s okay. She’s worth it.

Last week we went back for lab work. Her tests we much improved, some were actually normal.  She did have a UTI and was given antibiotic. She immediately perked up. She started playing with her toys. She steals things again, daring us to chase her and play tag.  She sleeps through the night and no longer needs a light.

Often, we have medical decisions to make and don’t get to find out if we made the right choice.   She still has one test that is too high and is not out of the woods. But for now, we have our puppy back.  And we are grateful for every day.

Spring Break Staycation

The view from our balcony. Snow, Christmas lights, overcast sky.

The view from our balcony. Snow, Christmas lights, overcast sky.

Yesterday was the beginning of Spring Break. Normally we try to take at least a short vacation. This year we are staying close to home because I am afraid of leaving Chloe alone. She’s our brindle terrier mix, and she runs the house. She’s 15 years old and doesn’t feel well much of the time. She also seems to be getting separation anxiety, as we have to be in her sight at all times or she whines in distress. Our poor baby girl.

It’s fun to look back at some of our trips. Others, not so much. A few years ago, we had reservations at Trappe Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. We looked forward to sitting in the nice warm lodge and watching the snow. We would nap, drink tea and hot chocolate, eat from their wonderful menu. We would relax. At home, meteorologists predicted a dusting. 

 They were wrong.

The second evening of our vacation, our sitter called to ask if any of our neighbors might be able to feed and walk our dogs. She was afraid she wouldn’t be able to get out to make her visits with him. Turns out the prediction of snow had changed drastically, and the governor would be closing the roads over heavy snow. I panicked. All of our neighbors are elderly and none of them able to care for our dogs. Our only option was to immediately return home. We hurriedly packed and talked with hotel staff. We were booked for the week. Fortunately, the manager was kind and didn’t ask us to pay for the remainder of the week, despite the fact that she was entitled to do so.

As we drove through the night, not a single snowflake fell. We finally found an all-night grocery store where we bought a large supply of junk food and soda to sustain us on the trip. Since we had been on the go since early morning, we struggled to stay awake and alert.

Toby+in+over+his+head.jpg

We made it to Hartford as the sun rose. Snow started falling as we pulled into the driveway. We unpacked and quickly checked food supplies since we had not shopped before leaving.

Finally satisfied that we didn’t need any supplies, our dogs were in good shape, and we were okay, too, we went to sleep. It was still snowing when we woke, and the accumulation was deep. I was able to dig a short path from our back door to allow the dogs out. They really were not happy—the snow was taller then each of them!

It snowed for 2 more days. The neighborhood was so quiet and peaceful. We kept some of the path clear for the dogs by using a long shovel we kept inside for that purpose, but we weren’t able to open the doors wide enough for us to leave.  Didn’t matter; the city didn’t plow our road for three days. 

The takeaway is simple. No more long trips over spring break. Fine by me; it’s snowing again today.

But She's Chloe

By this time in January, my partner and I have usually taken 1 or 2 mini vacations, seen lots of movies, and in general had big fun. Not this year.

Christmas evening, we returned home to find our Chloe laying in bed, still. She barely looked up at us. We were petrified. Despite being 14 years old, our Chloe (or Chlorine Baconskin, as we call her when trying to retrieve something she’s stolen) was an energetic, marauding thief who bosses her younger brother and sister (and us) around. The next day was no better. She also began to vomit. Off to the vet.

Bloodwork showed her liver enzymes were off the chart, immeasurably high. Her pancreatic enzymes were off as well. An ultrasound showed two masses—one on her liver and one by her pancreas. The doctors announced two possibilities: a serious infection or cancer.

No, that’s not possible. It’s Chloe, marauder extraordinaire.

We waited over a week for the results of the biopsy. Meanwhile, Chloe began to get better. More active. More bossy and complaining if supper was two minutes past the usual time. Finally, we got word that no sign of cancer or infection were found. Our primary vet, who has treated her for most of her life, warned us that the next step would likely entail more invasive procedures that would tax her already distressed liver.

Today, Chloe is her usual marauding self. Just this afternoon we discovered she’d hidden a box of tissues to rip into shreds as the mood arises. That’s why we’re staying home. To see that the girl is comfortable and happy. To keep tabs on her thievery. To get her dinner on time. And to make sure she knows she’s loved—Just because she’s Chloe.

My Chloe. Don't you just love her?

A Wish for You

smnewyear.png

A major theme in my writing is that we are happiest when we can be who we are. I think it resonates with me because I spent so much of my life trying to be the person others expected me to be. Maybe you've had similar experiences. 

I'm starting a quest for the new year. Part envisioning, part goal setting. Why not join me? 

Once a month I'll send out a short email offering ideas and action steps to put us on the journey to living the life we imagine. Don't worry; I'll still talk about books and things. To start us off, I'm offering a brief tool to keep track of where you're going. Just click the button to join my email list. You’ll then be directed to the booklet. It will open in your browser for you to download in the usual way. You can print it double-sided, and then fold it into a booklet. I find it helpful to have something I can write on.

2019 is going to be awesome.

Have a Happy New Year!-2.png

FanGirl Forever

You should have seen me when I found this little gem in Dollar Tree. I had to contain my giddy voice and behavior while making sure to put two of these babies in my basket before anyone else could grab them.

I’ve had the fortune to meet Jason Momoa a few times at fan events. At one of them, I spent a lot of time with him, including having breakfast with him. He remembered me, too. When he would pass me in the hall he’d yell out “Connecticut!”. It was awesome.

At that event and every other one, he was exactly the man you think he is. Gorgeous. Hyperactive. Hilariously funny. A little goofy. And did I say extremely gorgeous?

Of course, intellectually I knew that no one was going to snatch the bags out of my hands, but my excited fangirl-self wasn’t going to take a chance. I mean: Jason Momoa. Aquaman. Can you blame me?

My only regret is not buying three.

IMG_2117 2.jpg

All That Remains the Same is Change

Welcome to Living After Midnight 2.0. It was time to upgrade and to explore new horizons. That, and my other host made my site vulnerable to too many spam comments. So please, while you’re here, take a moment to look around and let me know what you think. 

I’m one of those people who loves change. I like exploring new places and meeting new people. I like rearranging the furniture and painting a room in a wild new color. I like moving, although admittedly I don’t do it as often as I used to. I even enjoy learning about why people resist change so vehemently.

What about you? Do you embrace change?

A Viking Weekend

My partner and I headed off to Mystic, Connecticut for Viking Weekend at Mystic Seaport. I’m not sure why we were so interested (other than we’re members of the Seaport and it was a gorgeous weekend), but off we went for a two day adventure. It was a blast. On the Commons, a settlement of tents depicted how they may have lived. Many men and women of all ages, shapes, and sizes were dressed in Viking warrior or period garb. (Some were actors paid by the Seaport but most were simply Viking enthusiasts.) There were Viking ships, exhibits of tools, battle gear and weapons. Vendors sold all sorts of paraphernalia, from hand crafted satchels to leather sword shields. Still other sellers offered authentic food of the period, or so they claimed.  And if you wanted to learn how to make mead, they had you covered too.

Knowing little about Viking culture, we attended three lectures. My favorite was given by one of the Seaport’s boat builders and lead shipwrights . He’d spent three months reconstructing a Viking ship using only the tools available in that time and shared his experiences through stories, pictures and videos of his journey.

The two other lectures were given by purported experts in Viking culture, but interestingly they contradicted each other on many points so I can’t vouch for accuracy. Here’s a smattering of what was said:

  • Vikings were not pillaging raiders, but young sons seeking their fortunes.
  • Viking warriors operated under a strict moral code, never stealing or hurting the weak.
  • They routinely raided monasteries, sometimes returning to ones previously attacked.
  • Their raids extended as far as Northern Africa.
3FC950E4-A440-4197-8104-8826500C8A0A-300x225.jpeg

See what I mean? What they both agreed on, however, was that we have scant records of this time period, leaving much for experts to interpret from a few stories and reverse engineering. For example, there is no information about fighting strategies, but what we believe to be true was gleaned from a small handful of personal accounts, as well as assumed from artifacts and remains.

249E138D-FB61-44C8-A6F4-9F80418029A8-300x225.jpeg

All in all, it was a great event. The weather was beautiful, the people were friendly, and we learned a thing or two. Now to find some Viking clothes and gear for our next excursion. Any idea where we can find a good leather arm guard?

A Concert to Remember: Sir Tom Jones

qtq80-ajt4AY.jpeg

It should be no surprise to those who know me that I go to as many concerts as I can. Even in the wake of the passing of the One and Only (Prince), I still have an appetite for good music and talented musicians. When I had the opportunity to see Tom Jones in concert, I knew I had to do it.

I was just a kid when he was on TV, but I remember watching his variety show with my mother. She, like many women in her day, was entirely smitten by him. Not only could the man sing, but he could Move. That's Move, with a capital M. Move in the way that, even just watching, your body remembers. Yeah, my mother would have been one to toss her bra and panties on stage if she'd gone to a show. (They don't still do that, by the way. I wish they did. I probably would have joined in.)

Today, Sir Tom is 78. It would be untrue to say that he is sexy for a man of his age. He is gorgeous and sexy for ANY age! The salt and pepper hair and beard, that freaking twinkle in his eyes...The man still has it. But when he started to sing, I nearly slid off of my seat. His voice is exquisite. It has always been extraordinary and it is still. Strong. Perfect. One of the songs he sang was Tower of Song, by Leonard Cohen. It is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Tower of Song.  He also did a slow, uber sexy version of his hit, Sex Bomb. Sexy with a capital S. Sexy in the way that even just listening, your body remembers--Listen for yourself::Sex Bomb on YouTube

Unfortunately, the Foxwoods audience wasn't well-behaved enough for me to completely immerse myself in the music. The group of entitled, middle-aged beer drinkers sitting right in front of me (six deep, men and women) were loud, continually in and out of their seats getting--guess what--more beer. When they weren't shouting to each other or drinking, they were on their phones or drunkenly begging my friend to dance with them. I guess I looked too irritated to bother asking.

Sir Tom sang and played with the audience for a full two hours, no break. When he broke into his fast hits like  Delilah, What's New Pussycat?, She's a Lady and It's Not Unusual, the crowd went wild. So did I.

And its no wonder. Guess when he was born? June 7th.Same day as Prince.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are no coincidences.

Join me for updates and exclusive content!