Sunday Lowdown #180


On Monday I went to my first Buddhist meditation class. Firstly, Google maps was a LIAR and had me driving around an assisted living old folks neighborhood behind a Buffalo Wild Wings. When I finally got to the right place, I was all wound up because I was lost and couldn’t rely on the magic satellite in the sky to get me where I wanted to be. Then, I learned the class is held in a wine and canvas-type store open during the day (which made it extra hard to find). I’m trying to focus on my breathing while looking at wonky pictures of flamingos and Christmas wreaths and rabbits painted all black (which felt slightly ominous). The class sat in chairs (no need to concern myself about pants vs. shorts) and then we meditated. It’s simple: make sure your spine is straight, breathe, and if your brain wanders, think about your breathing. Cool, cool. There was a Buddhist prayer song played over a speaker, and though I am not a person of faith, I tried to chill and appreciate the singing + violin.

We talked a lot about anger, the theme for this summer series. Does anger serve us? Anger, the definition goes, is a delusion. You find something you don’t like, make bigger its terrible qualities, and want to harm it. Thinking about anger being a delusion is, for me, helpful. At least, the people I know, myself included, always make the target of their anger bigger than it is. There are pivotal moments in my life defined by anger, included an incident from 2018 that was still angering me. The night before the class, in fact, I had a dream that this person was marrying into my family and I did everything I could to sabotage her. As the meditation leader said some people hang on to anger for hours or days, I could have laughed at my nightmare bred from four years of rage.

But, since the topic was so challenging and made me rethink a lot, I actually ended class trying to calm an anxiety-related choke caused by my wind pipe trying to close itself. Yes, this happens a lot. Yes, it even happens when I’m sleeping. I think much like therapy, this is going to be harder before it gets easier. I have another class Monday.

As for my plants, I think I have a mealy bug problem. I learned that cacti apparently give off a scent that attracts ants, which are small enough to reach the teeny mealy bugs on your cactus to eat them, which is great because I can’t get to them with a Q-tip or a toothpick or anything. Sometimes solutions beget problems, and this crazy (it’s short!) forum about how to get ants off your cacti served as both a warning and a funny story.

Me trying to attract the ants in that nearby anthill to get rid of what I think are mealy bugs.

In the middle of the week, Wednesday or Thursday, we went outside to water all the flowers and found a bullet on the cement patio by our back door. Though it wasn’t smashed, which would indicate that it had hit something, it did not have the casing, which means it was fired from a gun.

The bullet outside our door.

We called the police to file a report, and while we were under the impression that someone had fired this thing up in the air, the officer was inspecting the door for signs of forced entry. He sort of came to the conclusion that the bullet had likely been fired into the air, and came down through the branches of the huge tree next to our house, which prevented it from smashing directly on the pavement. While I tried to let this go in my brain, my body was a tattletale, increasing my blood pressure and gifting me with an itchy rash on the back of my leg! I already had another follow-up doctor’s appointment scheduled for Friday, and we talked about how anxiety is sometimes in my mind, but it can be physical only. How tricksy!

Per usual, the doctors’ office fish is there to stare at me.

I did hit up the Goodwill and buy pretty much every Halloween decoration I could find. I’m always happy buying used items; I hate getting new things. And I’ve never decorated for Halloween before, other than the rat and spider Cupcakes & Machetes mailed me, because there’s not a lot of room in an apartment to store tons of holiday decorations. But now we have a house. A spooky house it shall be!

Spooky decor!

It was a week full of horror movies, though, which always make me happy. I watched the New Zealand horror-comedy Black Sheep and got to be part of a guest interview on Sugar & Scream’s blog.

The weekly Thursday crew met up per usual after watching Ringu. I learned the American version, The Ring, is only one of many. There are the original books, the Japanese movie (that we watched) and a Korean version, too.

Friday was the monthly horror club, at which we discussed Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. I really enjoyed this 70s flick, which is done by the same director as Black Christmas. It may be taboo, but I enjoyed Dead Things better than the cult classic Black Christmas.


Such a bummer that Sarai Walker’s book The Cherry Robbers feels more like a resigned sigh after the explosion that was Dietland. Now I’m looking into the ghost movie Winchester, which has the same synopsis as The Cherry Robbers, but actually includes the ghosts readers were expecting.

It has Helen Mirren, and I think that’s all we need to know.


I knew very little going into We Hear Voices by Evie Green other than there is a respiratory virus that can lead to death in adults and children, and that the main character’s son hears voices after he’s become infected. Perhaps you’re ready for a pandemic novel? Review Wednesday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 181
Owned Books on TBR Today: 185

Thanks to Laura Tisdall for her recommendation!


  1. Oh dear Melanie. I’m so sorry you’ve had all that anxiety this week – and I’m sorry about your carrying that anger for 4 years. I’m trying to think what might make me be that angry for all that time. And I can’t think of anything, which probably means my life has been pretty lucky.

    I do like your Halloween decorations – I can see how much you are enjoying having your own home.

    I’m ready for a pandemic novel so will do my best to check in on Wednesday or close to it.

    Meanwhile, do take care.


    • Thank you kindly! I am on a journey, and even being on that journey has improved my life significantly. I keep thinking of all the journey memoirs I’ve read in which people are constantly going two steps forward and one step back. There are so many.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m proud of you for trying that meditation class. That was very brave!

    I don’t know if you want a meditation app, but the Calm app is one of my best friends. Highly recommended if you’re looking for an app.

    Fun Halloween decorations!

    The bullet is … unnerving? More than likely a one-off weird scenario. But I’m sorry you had to deal with that!


      • So, there are guided meditations of ALL kinds and lengths. Some are just timed meditations with no talking if you like it that way. Different teachers/voices for different kinds of moods. There are also Sleep Stories which are stories especially designed to help one sleep or to get back to sleep if you’ve woken up in the middle of the night. Some celebrities do stories too! There is also relaxing music for all kinds of moods. Nature Sounds too. There is also a new offering called Daily Movement or something like that and it’s a daily relaxing stretching routine you can watch and do with the guide. I love the content and that they keep adding new things. I wonder if there’s a free trial so you could check it out? I don’t know.


        • That does sound good. Thanks for taking the time to explain it! I’ll check it out now. I believe I first heard of the Calm app because they were offering it for free for a while during the pandemic when everyone was losing it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to LOL about Google maps because several years ago James and I went to Albuquerque for his niece’s wedding. We stayed at a hotel in town and rented a car. After we checked in we headed over to his brother’s house, who lived in a little village outside of town. Google maps got us so lost! It told us to go down a dead end street and at the end it chirped, you have arrived at your destination! Except there were no houses on this street and the street name wasn’t even the name of the street his brother lives on! It was both infuriating and hilarious and we have made many jokes since then because, of course, Google maps has given us bad directions many times!

    I am glad you persisted though and made it to the meditation class and that it was good. Our bodies hold on to lots of gunk, and it takes time for us to let it all go.

    The bullet is really disturbing. Your dr.’s fish cracks me up. Yay for Halloween decorations! Did the ants fine you cactuses? Cacti?


    • This past weekend we went to visit a friend of mine at his house for the first time. At one point, Google said, “Turn right.” I asked Nick if we were already there, and he said no. So I asked, “Well, what is the road name I’m looking for?” There was none. LOL! I’ve heard stories about in the earlier days of Google maps people would be directed to do shortcuts that took them through parking lots, etc. And there was actually an issue with some folks following Google so blindly that they would drive off piers, etc. I mean, I can’t follow a phone that closely. I still have my brain on.

      That fish always stares at me. Yesterday, I was comparing the pictures and I realized the shark statue got a good scrubbing and looks much cleaner. I think that fish has been there as long as I’ve been a patient, which is around fourteen years.

      I don’t think the ants found my cacti, but I did subscribe to a cactus blog and learned that my cacti may be looking dire because they actually need way more water in the summer than I had realized. They were on a strict 6 week watering schedule, but in the summer some of them need water as often as once per week because it’s growing time. It also depends on their age and how dry your home is. Anyway, I watered them and now they look less fuzzy? Perhaps there were never mealy bugs on these guys? But I was so sure there WAS mealy bugs on one of them because the white foof patches were irregular and multiplying…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ask me about growing beans or tomatoes and I can help, cactus? Not so much. But I hope they didn’t have bugs after all and they just needed more water. Perhaps that’s why the ants didn’t find them? No bugs?

        I wonder if the dr’s fish stares at you because they recognize you and are trying to make friends in their fishy way?

        Heh, I have heard some of those early google maps stories too! Clearly, even after all these years, there are still glitches. Sometimes I really miss my big city map book.


        • You’re right, the ants didn’t come, so perhaps those weren’t mealy bugs! I didn’t even think of that. I brought everyone back inside and am going to see how it goes.

          When I get to the doctors’ office, I must confess I am relieved for the fish friendship. It’s the same way I feel when I see the toad after several weeks of it being MIA.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh the Zevin, I keep seeing that and I think husband I would like to read that.

    I exhibit my anxiety and stress in my body so much – blasted stress dermatitis which I once had in a ring under my eye my rubbish many doctors ago doctor said was ringworm, and then some shaking and nausea. I still haven’t heard back about my CBT course which I know means it’s real and a real therapist will be setting up the right course for me but I want to get started. Husband is doing the group Zoom sessions offer (I rejected that!) and starts mid-August. I suppose that means he can carry on doing it even if we go on holiday in September (answering my own question there).

    Love the cacti. I get greenfly and blackfly off plants by spraying with a mixture of washing up liquid and water, they do slide off. Not sure for teeny things though.


    • I’ve been noticing several blog friends reading books about changing as an adult, whether it be where the person lives, their career, etc. and that speaks to me right now. The Zevin book falls into that category, so that’s the reason I added it. I believe Laura, who recommended it, is a fan of the author in general.

      I am also still waiting to talk to a therapist. I guess I’m on the list for the end of August, early September. That’s okay, though. I can do a lot on my own this summer and come the school year, I’d like to have someone to help me strive for an equilibrium.


  5. All the Halloween things. ALL THE HALLOWEEN THINGS!
    Sounds like you had a rough week. I’m sorry to hear that. Hopefully next week is much more zen for you.
    Work this past week sucked and I was ready to drink with Moth come Friday night. Because we’re such intense bad asses, we each had one drink. Lol. Venting and watching horror movies always makes me feel better though. Plus, pirate themed putt putt helped too.
    I’m ready to hear about your pandemic novel! 😀


    • A lot of the glass or ceramic Halloween stuff had small chips out of them, which I assume is the result of the how the Goodwill employees throw everything in bins without even looking, but I have an array of sharpies and colored in little chips.

      This week I feel like I was Tai Bo boxing my way through stuff, and it ended up better when I headed to my mom’s for the weekend. I didn’t cover that in my Sunday Lowdown because it got too long as it was.

      I was bummed that my Friday night horror movie sucked! It was called They Look Like People and I keep seeing it everywhere (Tubi, Shudder, etc.). So I watched it, and yeah. It was more like a 75-minute depiction of teaching your friend with a mental illness to trust you. Where was the horror?! I feel like the definition of horror these days is too loose. Like, if I’m not horrified in any way, it’s not horror.


      • I think that’s why I don’t try very much new horror. I’ve missed so much of the stuff that came out in the 70s/80s, that I much rather spend my time exploring that. To that point, Moth and I recently watched a horror movie we had never even heard of, and it had one of the best werewolf transformations we’ve ever seen.
        I need to get away to northern Michigan soon. We’ve just had so many things planned already this summer, it’s hard to figure out where to sneak it in.


        • Which werewolf movie was it? I feel like not enough is done in the werewolf genre to push innovation. Mostly, we’re all still arguing about whether they should run on two legs or four.

          I did see a trailer for a new vampire movie coming out that looks sweet as hell called The Invitation. It brings back the cunning, dangerous vampire. No sparkles, no half-bat animal vampires. Just calculating scary creatures.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry your week has been so stressful but I am glad you are getting support! Your Halloween decorations made me smile. I don’t celebrate Halloween and therefore don’t decorate for it, but I have carted a big box of Christmas decorations from flat to flat with me even when I didn’t have room to store them. It makes me very happy to see my flat all decked out for the season!


    • I do keep seeing Christmas decorations at yard sales and Goodwill, and I’m getting tempted. It’s hard to find just the right Christmas stuff. Sometimes kind of classy, more atmospheric, not too cheesy or sentimental. Or made out of really cheap plastic. See how picky I am! I don’t foresee myself becoming one of those people who decorate for every holiday, but the future is unpredictable, lol.


  7. That bullet is wild! That would definitely give me anxiety.

    I think anger can be a useful emotion when it causes us to act and create change. Personally I know if I’m holding on to anger for years (and I have done that) then it is more like a grudge and it only serves to make me feel terrible. That kind of anger is something that I am also working on to let go.


    • I think (or maybe thought, I’m not sure) the same way as you, Karissa, about anger making us do something to enact change for the better. But then, in my meditation class, I thought about all the people I knew and what made them angry and in what ways they changed something with their anger. I even used to know someone who was literally always angry when I saw her, and she organized protests and rallies and helped talk about voting, etc. and she was still angry and nothing changed. Thinking about her in particular has helped me see that we can change things without anger. What if we started from another emotion? Then, you could get all big and philosophical — did Martin Luther King, Jr. protest for freedom through anger? Did Gandhi? As I’m Googling this topic, I wonder more about from which emotion civil rights activists tend to approach action.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wonder then if the key is being able to release your anger. Feel angry, act to change the problem, and then let it go. Obviously easier said than done. To be honest, the example I think of for this is the story of Jesus clearing out the temple. It’s one of the clearest examples of him being angry and he acts and then continues on.

        Liked by 1 person

          • It’s found in Matthew 21, Luke 19, and John 2. and follows his entry into Jerusalem (the Palm Sunday one). He enters the temple, a space that is supposed to be sacred to the worship of God, and finds it full of money-changers and people selling stuff. He says that they have made his Father’s house into a den of robbers and chases them out, turning over tables. John even says that Jesus made himself a whip to drive the merchants out of the temple. He’s angry that people are trying to take advantage of the poor and making money from the act of worship and sacrifice. He follows up the table-turning with healing the sick and teaching and speaking to the people in the temple. So he’s angry (which, if you believe that he lived a life without sin, means anger on its own isn’t necessarily a bad thing) but then he follows it up with explanations and work to help improve the situation and help people understand why he’s angry.


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