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OK, maybe not in the Network sense, but I’m having a really angry day. The astrologically-minded among us might ascribe it to Mars in Gemini, but my take is that Rubi has been wanting some big changes in her life for months now, and they are just dragging along. (More on this in the next day or so.) Plus it’s election season and in Madrid that means yet another term for the f***king PP. Don’t get me started.

The good news is that I have a sure-fire cure for The Angries. I go back into the music library of my misspent youth and find some Angry Music (the 80s were REALLY good for Angry Music), crank it, and pogo somewhat arthritically around the living room.

So, despite its cat-scaring potential, here is today’s selection:

Feel free to pogo along.


After a winter of blowing my hair out (think glamorous newscaster type) and a summer of wearing it pulled up or back (think Zippy the Pinhead), I was ready for a radical reboot. Time to get back to the curly basics, I thought. About two weeks ago, I was ready to take the plunge.

Those are my smart chick glasses, worn for working and taking selfies.

Those are my smart chick glasses, worn for working and taking selfies.

So I trotted around the corner to my local hair salon and was attended to by the Artistic Director. She did a good job of cutting the angled, layered bob I wanted, though I was alarmed by how enthusiastically she thinned it. Those of you with curly hair probably know that thinning is not recommended for us because it tends to produce a lot of frizz when the little curly ends — now all different lengths — decide to do their own thing. But once your hair’s been thinned, it can’t be unthinned… sigh. At least my hair grows like a weed. And I’ve located a salon where they will cut curly hair dry (they were closed in August), and where I’ll try to remember not to let them thin it. I’m planning to go in for a tune-up in mid-October.

[Permit me here to digress into a momentary rant about how salons work here. There is a price for cutting your hair. There is a price for styling it after it’s been cut. And there are separate surcharges for shampoo, conditioner, and styling products. So a cut that looks like it’s going to cost you 48 euros ends up costing 60. Why don’t they just tell customers up front that it’s 60 euros? I doubt anyone says, “Just get it wet and cut it, but don’t use any shampoo or conditioner — I’ll add those at home.” We’ll see if the new place does the same thing — if it does, I’ll be taking my own stuff along with me.]

Since I’m going to be wearing my hair curly, I’ve also gone back to using SLS-free shampoo and silicone-free conditioners and stylers. They’re not really good for any hair, but they’re downright disastrous for curls. There’s a transition period, though, while your hair and scalp get used to the new regime. It can get a little wonky.

What’s the result of all of this tinkering? My hair is now in total shock. On one side of my head, it appears to have forgotten how to curl at all, so after I wash it, I take locks of hair and twist them up tight so that when they dry, they’ll be more or less curly. Or at least seriously wavy.

But I want this hair back:

Ah, Devachan, how I miss you.

Ah, Devachan, how I miss you.

I’ve just done something bold, and a little scary. My heart is still pounding, just a little bit. And I’m thrilled beyond belief.

After nearly two years standing on the edge of the diving board and holding on for dear life with my toes, I’ve taken a plunge. I’ve declared my coaching practice open for business.

Those of you know know me in real life or have been reading the blog for a while, know that I finished my coaching training quite a while ago. And you also know that I came to Madrid to start that coaching practice. Some of you have even asked me if I’ve gotten it going. (Kindly, supportively, of course.)

So what was behind the postponement? Mostly, I let myself get caught up in the “how will I make a living?” panic that often surrounds a career shift. Editorial work found me, and helped pay the bills, and dulled a little bit the urge to strike out in the direction of what I knew I really wanted to do. (Note to those who sent the editorial work my way: I am deeply grateful to you.)

I also built myself some obstacles. “I don’t know how to get into the market here” and “I don’t have a web presence” and other unhelpful self-talk moved the goal posts back again and again. I’m good at setting up prerequisites for myself, I guess.

What finally pushed me off the diving board were a few recent “pings”:

1. A community of practice: Back in the spring, a coach here in Madrid who trained in the same program I did found me on LinkedIn. We’ve been meeting up and talking about working together and coaching in general. More importantly, she sees me as a coach. That’s helped me immensely. How we see ourselves determines so much.

2. A fresh idea: Over vacation in France, my dad shared a book with me that is really inspiring. He’s using it in a business class he’s teaching in the fall semester. I’m using it with myself, and will be using it with my clients, and to develop a workshop to give here in Madrid. It is very good stuff. I’m so thankful that he saw it would be useful to me.

3. A question: Last week, MamaRubi and I were talking about money. (She’s the CFO of my two-person LLC. I’m the CEO.) I have two publishing/translation projects that are winding down in the next couple of weeks. The last invoices will be going out soon. She asked me, “What’s next?” and I answered, “I don’t know.” Then I started thinking about what I want the answer to that question to be. Even though I’ll be happy to have a new publishing or translation project find me — there are still bills to pay, after all — I know that what I really want is to coach, and the sooner the better.

So this morning I jumped. I put a notice on Facebook that I’m accepting clients in Madrid and over Skype.

And I wrote this post.

Though I haven’t wanted to complain — I’m a subscriber to the “mustn’t grumble” school of thought — I have to admit that the last six months have been physically distressing. I’ve had to deal with ever more widespread and more intense joint pain, which keeps me from sleeping well, makes doing exercise nearly impossible (even gentle exercise like yoga), and generally leaves me worn-out. I’ve felt almost nothing like myself.

I’ve always been very active, with legendary endurance levels when I’m fit, so this change has been very hard to deal with. I knew that it wasn’t unusual for people with ulcerative colitis to have associated joint pain, but I didn’t know that it’s also a fairly common occurrence for women in menopause to find their joints are creaking and crunching. A conversation with MamaRubi, some searching on the Internet, and an appointment with my dear doctor* have led me to believe that this is in fact what’s going on for me. After some research and consultation, Dr. H and I have decided that HRT is the way to go, and since I’m not in a risk group for any of the more serious side effects, we’re confident that it’s going to be a change for the better.

I took my first tablet today, then went grocery shopping. Dragging, and I mean that literally, home from the store, I thought to myself, “I hope I don’t feel like when I go shopping next week!”

Fingers crossed.

(*I adore my gynecologist! A down-to-earth German, she’s also sweet and empathetic — and easy to reach via email or phone when you need her. When I complained that my usual Coke-bottle figure was starting to look a little more barrel-shaped, she said, “It’s not unusual for women your age. Besides, it’s not so bad to go from Coke to wine, is it?” I also really, really like that she calls me Ms. Tonta, and not Rubi. After all, I call her Dr. H.)

Hello, chickens! My apologies for the disappearing act — there’s lots going on here, workwise, and not nearly as much fun as I’d like…

I’ve now been doing my 5:2 Modified Alternate Day Fasting Regime for two weeks, and I’m astonished at how much easier every fast day has been since the first. I have decided that Mondays and Thursdays will be my fast days, and so far, I’ve stuck to the same basic menu, since it’s easier for me. I’ll get fancy eventually, I’m sure.

More details on how it works — you do not fast on consecutive days, by the way. On fast days, I have about 250 calories for breakfast (an omelet with a tiny bit of grated cheese, a piece of Wasa crisp, and a cup of tea w/ 1 tsp of milk) and another 250 for dinner (grilled fish, cream of vegie soup, and mixed salad or steamed vegies, with a tangerine for dessert). In the 12 hours between breakfast and dinner, I drink a LOT of water, herb tea, and low-salt vegetable bouillon. Since I’ve got fairly low blood pressure, the salt from the bouillon keeps me from getting too woozy.

In fact, I find that I feel quite sharp on fast days. I fade a little in the late afternoon, but that’s easily remedied with a green tea. I’m able to work, run errands, go to meetings — and nobody could be more surprised than me! Another surprising side effect is that my achy joints (a side effect of years of ulcerative colitis) are much better. It’s as if I’d turned the clock back ten years. I’m also sleeping better.

On “feed” days, I find that my cravings are pretty much gone, and my “full button” seems to be set lower. I don’t pay much attention to calories, but I’m eating less overall, because I just don’t have room!

The non-weight-loss effects of 5:2 MADF are probably more interesting to me than the weight-loss. (You know I’m perfectly happy to be the size/shape I am, as long as I’m healthy and active.) One of them is the above-mentioned reduction in joint inflammation; others are improved memory, and lower risks for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. These last three are due to reductions in insulin-like growth factor, which in turn reduces cell-proliferation rates. While there aren’t a lot of human studies out there, the ones that have been published are very promising. I’m looking forward to seeing what my blood work looks like when I go for my annual checkup in May.

I’ll update you on my progress in a month or so. Let me know if you’ve got any more questions in the comments.


Hello my dears — just popping to by to let you know that I have not been abducted by aliens, joined the circus, or had an anvil fall on my head.

I set myself the goal of getting well and truly caught up on my work, so that I can have weekends off and not pay for it, and wouldn’t you know, I’m actually committed to getting it all done.

Alas, it does mean that there’s precious little time for skylarking, and hence my absence from these parts.


I hadn’t planned on doing anything special for Thanksgiving this year, until a Spanish friend who loves the holiday showed me the error of my ways. It’s that “acuity of the outsider’s view” thing… And now there will be eight or nine of us at the table, half from the US and half from elsewhere.

So, the apple pie is baked (along with a batch of the rose-bud shaped treats that MamaRubi always made out of the left-over pie crust when we were kids) and the Brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots have been roasted (and I’m doing my best not to scarf them all down — OMG! they are good). There’s a handsome turkey in the fridge waiting for his date with destiny in about an hour, and miracle of miracles, all six kilos of him will in fact fit in the teensy oven. My two co-hosts will be bringing appetizers, more dessert, sweet potatoes, and LOTS of wine.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share the feast, to remember how fortunate we are — especially in a country where things are getting harder every day –, and to celebrate a little more than a year gone past, back in my adopted home country.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it: I am thankful for all of you who read my blog, who inspire me to be creative, to stay curious, to connect. Whether or not you celebrate capital-T Thanksgiving today, I invite you to take a moment to give thanks for what’s good in your lives.

The last month was a real challenge when it came to getting any work done — I had a headache nearly every day, along with severe eye fatigue that meant working on the computer for more than about 45 minutes was impossible. I finally broke down and went to the optometrist for some “work” glasses.

Good news! My vision hasn’t changed at all — so they just made me up a pair of specs with the mid-distance and close parts of my existing Rx to wear while computing or reading. The not-so-great news is that because of last Wednesday’s general strike I couldn’t pick the up on Tuesday as promised… but I’m wearing them now, and they make a huge difference!

I have had to ask myself, though, if getting prescription sunglasses was an unequivocal recognition of aging, what does a third pair of glasses mean? I’ll get back to you at some point with an answer. For now, I’m going to have a glass of wine and read the NYT on line.

Today’s martes y trece, Mercury is retrograde, there’s a new moon, AND a solar eclipse. (Yes, I know you can only have a solar eclipse at a new moon, astronomy/astrology buffs.)

I’m keeping my head down and my mouth shut! Catch you tomorrow.

…even posting. Today’s high was 104F/40C, and tomorrow’s predicted high is 107F/42C. I’m bearing up, but the brain is definitely melted. Here are just a few highlights:

I was laboring away on a blouse this morning and realized after a series of fiddly steps to get the neckband on that I’d reversed it and made a sort of scary clown collar. It’s Liberty fabric, so I very carefully unpicked everything, and now it’s resting until I can calm down enough to try again.

Tomorrow, Mr. Pants and I are escaping to his ancestral homeland to stay cool, and I can’t figure out what to pack. If I follow my impulse, I may end up taking a blasted steamer trunk for a three-day weekend. And twelve pairs of shoes.

It took me about three times as long to get 5 pages of grammar exercise manuscript written as it usually does.

Happily, it’s going to start cooling off on Saturday, and by the time we get back from La Patria Querida, I’ll have lots of lovely photos and stories to share with y’all next week.

Hope you’re unmelted, wherever you are!

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