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Archive for October, 2020

I bought tickets for Barry and me to attend the screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as part of my Halloween Fun list during the month of October. We had not seen the movie in a theatre in over 30 years. In fact, the first time I had ever seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Barry and I were dating at the time and living on the south shore. We had gone with my BFF Shelly and Barry’s friend Danny. Back then, you attended the movie at midnight and brought your own props. Since this screening was at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in Hammond, props were being provided by the theatre and the screening was at 9:00 in the evening.

Our original plans were to see the movie on Friday, 09 October; however, Hurricane Delta put a kink in our plans, and our show was postponed until Friday, 16 October. I was grateful the movie was postponed and not canceled. Before we attended The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Barry and I had dinner at Cena in Hammond. 

Cena

Cena specializes in Italian comfort food. Ironically, I had received a gift card for this restaurant as a teacher appreciation gift back in May when we were quarantined and could not dine in restaurants. So, I was excited that we were finally able to dine there. Additionally, eating at Cena would count as trying a new restaurant (#11 on 20 for 2020 list). There are still COVID restrictions regarding restaurant dining, so Barry and I ate at an outside table which was nice, especially since it was a pleasantly cool evening. 

Barry and I dining outside at Cena in Hammond

Barry and I decided to start the evening with cocktails. I ordered a Grapefruit Martini, and he ordered a Lemon Spritzer. We agreed to skip the appetizer. I ordered Shrimp and Grits for my entrée. YUMMO! The dish consisted of Gulf shrimp and grits in a delicious Louisiana BBQ butter sauce, topped with fried okra, crispy prosciutto, and asparagus. The meal was accompanied with a piece of garlic bread. Barry ordered the Casarecce which was a house-made pasta consisting of Gulf shrimp, spicy tomato sauce, fresh basil, and feta cheese. To complete our dining experience, we decided to split a dessert. What a treat! We ordered “The” Cannoli and we were not disappointed. This delectable delight comprised of two crunchy, tube-shaped pastries filled with a sweet, creamy filling with chocolate chips, cinnamon, and two generous dollops of house-made pistachio ice cream. It was heavenly.  

 

After our scrumptious meal, we walked about three blocks to the Columbia Theatre. It was time for my hubby and me to do “The Time Warp.” As we entered the lobby of the theatre, ushers were asking guests if they were virgins. In this context, virgins are first timers who have never experienced the show in a theatre with an audience, a live cast (a shadow cast), and props. If you were a virgin, one of the ushers drew a “V” on your forehead with bright red lipstick. Once we were in the lobby, Barry and I received our prop bags. The bags included party poppers instead of rice (wedding and Frank/Rocky confetti), newspaper (thunderstorm), a rubber glove (snapping during Frank’s creation speech), a noisemaker (end of Frank’s creation speech), toilet paper (“Great Scott!), a party hat (dinner), a picture of toast (Frank’s toast at dinner), and playing cards (“Cards for sorrow/Cards for pain”). Guests used their own cellphone for light at Frank’s castle.

We took our seats and waited excitedly for the show to begin.

Once everyone was seated and before the show began, the master of ceremonies asked the virgins to stand up so everyone could see them. Some shows have virgins participate in a pre-show sacrificial ritual (totally harmless); however, our virgins had to socially distance. There was also a shadow cast at the front of the theater representing the characters in the movie. They all looked awesome in their costumes. Their role was to mime the actions on the screen and to lip-sync their character’s lines.

For those of you that do not know anything about The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it is a musical comedy horror film. The story is about a newly engaged couple whose car breaks down during a thunderstorm near a castle. In desperation, they go to the castle seeking a telephone, but soon discover the home is occupied for a celebration by strange guests dressed in elaborate costumes. They meet the owner of the castle, Dr. Frank N. Furter, who happens to not only be a mad scientist, but also an alien transvestite. Not long after their arrival, mayhem breaks out and the couple embark on a crazy adventure.

Finally, the lights went out, The Rocky Horror Picture Show commenced, and the audience went wild. Barry and I, along with the rest of the audience, participated in the “Time Warp” dance (my favorite scene of the movie). I was quite surprised and extremely happy that Barry got in on the act. We had a ball talking back to the screen, singing, and using our props throughout the movie. 

Five Fun Facts about The Rocky Horror Picture Show

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show was originally a small stage production in London called The Rocky Horror Show and was written by an out-of-work actor named Richard O’Brien.
  • The film was shot in the United Kingdom, premiered in 1975, and initially flopped. 
  • Audience participation was somewhat inspired by boredom. The film soon gained popularity because of fan participation.
  • The well-known lips at the beginning of the film belong to the actor Patricia Quinn who plays Magenta. However, she lip-syncs the song as it is sung by the actor Richard O’Brien who plays Riff Raff.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the longest-running theatrical release in film history. 

My hubby and I had a wonderful date night, dear reader. We enjoyed an incredible meal together at a new restaurant and interacted with a cult classic in a theatre full of Rocky Horror fans. Happiness! 

“I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.” ~ the Criminologist, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Science Fiction/Double Feature (click on the caption to the left to hear the song)

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Back in June, I had listened to Episode #6 (“Dial D for Distracted”) of Season 2 of The Happiness Lab podcast. The episode included an enlightening conversation between Dr. Laurie Santos and Catherine Price, a science journalist and author of How to Break Up With Your Phone. Shortly after listening to the episode, I bought Price’s book because I felt like I had a phone problem. After reading the first part of the book called The Wake-Up, I scheduled The Breakup which is a hands-on approach to establishing a healthier relationship with your phone. The experience of breaking up with my phone revealed surprising information about myself, my relationship with my phone, and helpful tips to dealing with screen time in general. 

Initially, I thought I was addicted to my phone. After spending 30 days  (July 06-August 04) breaking up with my phone, I realized that I had an unhealthy relationship with screens in general, specifically internet-related screens and mainly with social media. And, that relationship, which was having an adverse effect on my mental health and well-being, took root rather quickly and stemmed from the uncertainty and isolation brought about from COVID-19. At the start, it was fun staying connected through Facebook, playing games, and taking silly quizzes. Additionally, lots of time was spent watching the news, scrolling daily through data on COVID, and reading articles about life during the pandemic. Unfortunately, as time passed, fun was replaced with feeling depleted and numb which then turned into shame. And, being “informed” nonstop about the pandemic and its negative effects on the world was causing me to become anxious. For three months, I spiraled down the rabbit hole of mindless scrolling and unconscious living. Without having the ability to freely go places or engage in work or social activities with other people outside your pod made me feel stagnant. Except for my daily walk, I was not spending my spare time intentionally.

Break up PhoneThankfully, Catherine Price’s handbook brought me back to reality and helped me reclaim my time and sanity. The first task Price assigned was downloading a time-tracking app on my phone. I chose Moment which she recommended in the book for iPhone users. In my opinion, this app is helpful. I still have it on my phone. My goals were set for 3 hours of screen time and 50 pickups. Looking at my Moment Data, it is clear that I rarely go over my screen time or my pickups. There was one day that my screen time was 6 hours and 47 minutes. This was the day that Shelly was taken to the ER in Florida. Texting was our line of communication between one another and our friends. My heaviest pickup day was 12 August with 68 pickups. School was back in session, so most of my pickups were school-related texts. For me, this app curbs my craving to constantly check my phone or reach for it to check Facebook, so that is the main reason I still have it on my phone.  

On Day 5 of the plan, Price recommends deleting social media apps. The only social media apps that I have on my phone are Facebook and Instagram. I immediately deleted Facebook. I rarely use Instagram, so there was no need to delete it. The point was to make accessing these apps more difficult and less appealing. It worked! I have since reinstalled the Facebook app on my phone; however, my time on the app is limited to mainly posting pictures/inspirational content and checking on family/friends, and my usage is at designated times of the day and for a designated amount of time. On Day 9 of the plan, she recommends tidying up your apps by organizing them in categories. This was quite simple since I don’t have many apps on my phone. My only junk food app is Trivia Crack which is an enjoyable game. While it can be a big time suck, it did not consume as much of my time as Facebook, so I chose not to delete it. Since the breakup, I have limited my game time tremendously.

Days 20 and 21 were the most challenging part of the plan. This is the trial separation from your phone for 24 hours. I chose 7:00 in the evening on Friday, 24 July through the following evening on Saturday, 25 July. In addition to disconnecting from my phone, I also disconnected from my other devices. In the beginning of the trial separation, I was antsy. My main concern about this assignment was someone trying to reach me since my phone is also my family’s home phone. To put my mind at ease, I turned my ringer on, so I could answer any calls. Checking text message was limited to twice during the 24 hour period. Once I accepted the challenge and put my phone away, I felt lighter and excited about the next 24 hours. From my data log, the screen time and pickups on Friday were prior to 7:00 that evening. On Saturday, the data shows 4 minutes of screen time and 4 pickups. Clearly, my time was well-spent, and I felt a sense of freedom.

At first, the hardest or worst part of the breakup was feeling disconnected from others virtually. In addition, observing others constantly reaching for and checking their phones made me feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, our world relies too much on technology to feed the mind and soul. I kept a time log during my breakup to see where my time was going when not using my phone. In the beginning, I discovered I was playing a bunch of Words with Friends on my iPad, as well as scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. Fortunately, the best part of this experience outweighed the worst part. I quickly realized that I hadn’t become addicted to my phone, but to social media and games. Luckily, I now view my phone more as a tool that allows me to communicate with others both personally and professionally, listen to podcasts and music, access necessary information (maps, email, appointments, etc.), and record memories through pictures, video, and audio. Facebook is no longer on the main screen of my phone and is no longer checked first thing in the morning. Trivia Crack is played daily but only for a few minutes. Since the breakup, I put my phone away more often when working on tasks or participating in activities. I find that I am more creative, more focused, and happier. As for other devices, I limit any frivolous time spent on them. I would rather use my time to write, scrapbook, read, play card/board games, watch something on television, or spend time with family and friends. 

Breaking up with my phone was a valuable experience, dear reader. I gained new insight about myself, gained more time to be creative, and gained healthier habits with screens. If you feel like you have a phone problem or a social media problem, I would highly recommend How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price. For more information on budgeting screen time, check out Episode 23 (“Good Screens and Bad Screens”) of Season 1 of The Happiness Lab podcast and Catherine Price’s website Screen/Life Balance. Happiness! 

“The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free.” ~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Game

This is “The Royal Game of Ur” created by Andrew’s girlfriend Aileigh as a gift to Andrew which I recently learned to play in my spare time.

 

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The passing of time has always fascinated me. At times it drags on like a boring lecture while most of the time it seems to fly by like a shooting star; yet, the amount of time is the same. As a child, time feels unlimited. Since I’ve turned 50, time now feels limited and has become more valuable to me. It feels like yesterday that my Daddy and I were enjoying a cup of coffee with my Uncle Manuel in his kitchen in Kentucky although it was a month ago to this day. And, so much has happened to all of us in a month that our time together feels like a distant memory.

Aunt SueMy Daddy had been wanting to visit his older brother for quite awhile. He is one of five siblings (three brothers and a sister) and the baby of his family. In the last three years, two of his brothers have passed away, and it began weighing on his mind that he might not see his remaining brother before either one of them departed from this Earth. Sadly, it took the passing of my Aunt Sue to make the trip to Kentucky a reality. My Uncle Manuel’s beautiful bride died at the end of July, and my Daddy was unable to attend the funeral services. So, he and I talked; and with the help of my cousin Mark, we hatched a plan that I would drive him to Nicholasville, Kentucky.

I was excited about the prospect of seeing family and finally visiting Kentucky since I had never been, but I was also a tad bit apprehensive because I would be driving which is not what I do on a road trip. Thankfully, my excitement outweighed my apprehension. So, on Wednesday, 02 September, Son #1 picked my Daddy up on his way home from work and dropped him off at my house. Then, we loaded up my car and pulled out of my driveway at 6:30 that evening. Our plan was to drive a few hours, spend the night at a hotel in Grenada, Mississippi, and get up early the next morning to drive the rest of the way to my Uncle Manuel’s home in Kentucky. After a few pit stops along the way, we made it safely, and our adventure in bluegrass country was underway.

Road Trip

Kentucky is a beautiful place. Parts of the state are mountainous while other areas are hilly with plenty of farms in between. Near my Uncle Manuel’s home there are many horse farms. What a joyous moment when we eventually arrived at his home! My Daddy and I were greeted by my Uncle Manuel, his new puppy Rocky, and my cousins, Mark and Junior. Even though the last time we had seen each other had been at a family reunion many years ago, it felt like hardly any time had passed at all while we were all hugging and smiling our big smiles. Conversations started up, and the comfort of family surrounded us like a warm blanket on a chilly morning. The next couple of days were wonderful. We stayed with my Uncle Manuel which is a few steps away from my cousin Mark’s house. The weather was gorgeous and provided much cooler temps than back home.

Uncle Manuel's Home

My Uncle Manuel and Aunt Sue had six children: Junior, Mark, Denise, Connie Wayne, Kimberly, and Lelia. Growing up, it was always a big deal when they would come visit. They would stay at my Nanny and Paw Paw’s house for about a week. As time passed and my grandparents were no longer alive, our paths would cross again at family reunions held in Monroe, Louisiana where both my Nanny and Paw Paw were originally from and many of our extended family members still live today.

Manuel Walters Family

Back row: Denise, Mark, Junior, Connie Wayne Front row: Aunt Sue, Uncle Manuel, Kimberly, Lelia

So, it was nice to have the opportunity to visit my cousins in Kentucky. Except for Denise, who was out of town, my Daddy and I were able to spend time with the rest of the bunch and their families. Even though we didn’t get to see Denise during this visit, we did meet Denise’s daughter Jessica and her family. The hospitality shown to us during our visit was amazing.

On Friday evening, Dempsey, my cousin Kimberly’s husband, drove my Daddy, Uncle Manuel, and me to Junior and Betsy’s house for dinner in an old-timey car that he and my Uncle Manuel rebuilt. I believe it took the two of them three years to rebuild it. Riding in that beautiful car was like stepping back in time. It was really cool! I had never ridden in a car like it before and will cherish that memory.

Yellow Car

On Saturday, Mark and Teresa provided their house for a huge family gathering. Mark barbequed and everyone else brought lots of food. Everything that was prepared was delicious. Before we ate dinner, Mark revealed a surprise to my Daddy and Uncle Manuel. He had purchased my Uncle Ronnie’s motorcycle from our cousin Cindy who had decided to sell it. Mark felt it should be kept in the family since it was a reminder of my Uncle Ronnie who had passed away about three years ago. Despite being a little teary-eyed, they were both happy and definitely surprised.

motorcycle

Uncle Manuel, Mark, and my Daddy

 

The time with my Uncle Manuel and Kentucky cousins was certainly not long enough. However, it was pleasant, memorable, and a much-needed boost of happiness for everyone. As my Daddy and I journeyed back to Louisiana on Sunday, we reminisced about our brief but lovely time spent with our family, appreciated the time traveling in the car together, and planned our future visits. Time will not stop, dear reader, and we should all take advantage of spending time with the ones we love. It will be time well-spent. Happiness!

“Family and friendships are two of the greatest facilitators of happiness.”             ~ John C. Maxwell

Brothers

Uncle Manuel and my Daddy

Me & Uncle Manuel

Me with my Uncle Manuel

 

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