Probably a month or more ago, SuperCoffee just ran out of my dark roast Keurig pods, and they haven’t come back in stock and I haven’t seen any official notice that they’ve been discontinued.
My last shipment was in May.
So I have been trying every dark roast I can find. Even when I make them in my espresso machine, they taste weak and watery. I even tried added Nescafé instant coffee into the beans in the espresso machine that made it better. But still disappointing.
On a whim, I went onto Supercoffee’s web site today— and there was my coffee.
Why did they never resume my subscription?
I sent a little email and then ordered the ground coffee.
Before the pandemic, I had an office job in nonprofit development primarily as a fundraiser. I had been hired as a communications professional, and I excelled at that work. But the toxic work environment that stemmed from the head of the organization (who would normally be referred to as the executive director, but she reveled in her title as Chief Executive Officer, perhaps because she needed the ego boost to compensate for her insecurities), led to rapid and frequent staffing changes.
(This is certainly getting long-winded for where it is going. But bear with me.) I knew all of this before I accepted the job, because I had excused myself from the interview process from the same position about a decade earlier. I had turned down the opportunity because The Teenager was a preschooler and my gut warned me that this job, and this entity, would require more energy than I could give.
This time, in part because of a really awesome person hiring me, I decided to take the challenge. When the person in charge finally burned him to his breaking point, she promoted me with assurances that I would have all of the support and guidance I would need. (In her mind, that was one hundred percent true, but unfortunately, what was in her head and what her employees needed to thrive were completely at odds with each other.)
During this period, I paid close attention to my style, my accessories and my make-up. In my youth, I didn’t have the confidence to toy with these fashion topics. Then, I had a child. Then, I worked at Target. By the end of my almost-decade in red-and-khaki and food service, I had started to experiment in make-up and other touches that could allow my personality to come through despite the dress code.
As I moved into fundraising, these choices became more important. The world hates to admit this, but in any sort of business matter, appearances count. Not necessarily because you need to be pretty to succeed, but because you need to make an impression and you need to look confident, trustworthy and project the attitude that you are an expert in your arena. That’s a little different than confident.
There are two kinds of confidence in this regard. One says, “I know who I am and I like that person and we get shit done.” (That’s the confidence my former supervisor lacked.)
The second says, “No one can do this better. When it comes to this, I know my shit.” (That’s the confidence my former supervisor had so much of that I adored her. I wanted to learn her skills and knowledge, but her instability as a leader made that impossible. Her deficit in leadership and trust led her to think any way other than hers would not only never work, but destroy everything she had built, because it her mind, it was all her. And she did build it, more than 25 years ago, and sometimes things need to change after 25 years. And sometimes, her way and someone else’s way can coexist and succeed together.)
Anyway… when I accepted my current job working evening shift (“midnight society”) at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse, I wore eye make-up for the first few months, but after I got Covid, that fell away. My shift changed, changing my wake-up time to 4:15 a.m. when I was accustomed to going to bed at 2 a.m. (I miss that shift soooooooo much.) No time for make-up when you can barely wake up.
2022 required change. I launched my business (Parisian Phoenix Publishing) while still on evening shift. Evening shift was eliminated. The first week of day shift, my dad unexpectedly died. I think I got the Delta variant at my dad’s funeral. I burst my tendon removing my socks. I struggled with hip issues. We had a small flood in the house. The teenager graduated from high school. The teenager had a car accident, her first.
2022 wants to kick my ass, but I keep giving it hell. I’ve started weeding and reorganizing my wardrobe even though I’m still 25 pounds overweight. I’ve started spending time on the Stitch Fix app, combing the options and the styling ideas. (More on that here.)
And now that this very short topic is very long… I just wanted to tell you I wore jewelry today.
I did (I think) 105% on Sunday at work, 105% yesterday and woke up stiff and with my right quad tight and spasms in my calf. I only did 93% today, but I feel better now. And the dip in numbers had more to do with some chaos in the warehouse versus my cerebral palsy issues.
Regardless, I must admit I was a little relieved yesterday when my fitness coach Andrew from Apex Training postponed my workout.
The teenager proposed going to Applebee’s for dinner, her treat, as she didn’t feel like cooking. She also demanded I order a cocktail as I think she wanted to make sure I drifted off to bed as early as possible. (8 p.m.)
The teenager loves Applebee’s— for a child raised in all sorts of Mom & Pop restaurants where we often knew the owners, she certainly loves her boring old franchise Applebee’s.
I realized that if you took any item with chicken tenders away from the menu, you’d lose more than half the meals available. And if you didn’t want bacon on your hamburger, you had three choices: the quesadilla burger (which we got), the plain old burger and the Beyond veggie burger (which was $14 and came with nothing but lettuce, tomato and pickle).
The quesadilla burger was a mish-mash delight (I chose my margarita for the artificial Latin theme) but had to be eaten with a knife and fork.
When I arrived home, Opie and Fog (two of our personal cats) joined Khloe and Louise (foster cats) and Nala (Goffin’s cockatoo) and Yo-yo (parakeet) in my room for the night. Fog tries so hard to be Louise’s friend— and she is slowly (after more than a year) getting braver and more confident.
Finally, for those that are wondering… I ruptured my tendon in my ring finger April 15 and had “mallet finger” and a cast for nine weeks. My specialist released me July 25 and expressed his disappointment that my finger was still a little off.
I use my hands so much at work, so I still splint at night. I must say it feels like and looks like the finger is getting stronger and straighter every day.
There’s an old Grimm’s fairy tale where someone catches on fire, and having no water, the onlooker urinates on the person burning to extinguish them. It’s rather horrifying to read, and when you do, you realize just how much Disney has sanitized our lives.
But, if anything, that is an accurate depiction of how this week has felt. Hopefully now the fires are out and if I’m lucky Cinderella will stop by, clean my hearth, and we can hit up Fairy Godmother for a night on the town.
It’s the beginning of my weekend. They say temperatures will drop by ten degrees by tomorrow night. I have seen more evidence that my service dog application is in process. And my body, though fatigued by the extreme temperatures and long days in the Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix warehouse, has not experienced pain or falls this week.
So I thought I’d do something light and frivolous and fashion-oriented, which is legitimately something I need to do more often as author of the Fashion and Fiends series. Buy my books here. If you prefer to avoid the Big A, try Bookshop.org here.
The whole reason I work at Stitch Fix is because 10+ years ago when I still had a print subscription to Vogue magazine, I read about this revolutionary clothing subscription box. Six-plus years ago, they opened a warehouse a couple miles away from where my husband’s grandfather had the family farm. The people who left Target while I worked there either left for Stitch Fix or Amazon. The former Target employees who went to Stitch Fix were elated with their new jobs at this place where I had wanted to be a client.
When I lost my non-profit development job, I thought if I can’t have the clothes maybe I can at least handle them.
In early November, I will celebrate my second anniversary with the company. I have shopped at the employee store (the deals, amazing!), and I recently ordered shoes from Freestyle through my friend, Joan the talented photographer and archivist of Plastiqueville, who is the current recipient of my employee discount.
We can only change our discount designee once every six months and I believe Joan has had it for a year. It has been really fun watching her get “fixes.” But after her fix this month, I plan to transfer the discount to The Teenager. The teenager wishes to develop her own style and I think this is a great way to do it.
When she completes her journey, I’d like to sign up. Meanwhile, I’m working frantically in the Stitch Fix app to help the algorithm learn my style. By the time a stylist gets me, the computer should have me all mapped out.
These are some of the current trends Stitch Fix curated for me and my reactions.
For larger photos, open the gallery.
Gold Ray Asymmetrical Cold Shoulder sweater, cheetah wrap skirt, stone bead bracelet in warm tones and flip flops. I have wanted this sweater since I first laid eyes on it. I also think it would look good on the Teen. The skirt looks amazing in the photo, but I think in real life… The skirt would flop open, my belly would bulge out from under the sweater and the flip flops would be an expensive fall hazard.
2. White Tank, studs, jean cut-offs, and green Vans. Great basic outfit. But I wouldn’t pay premium brand prices for it. I already purchased the green Vans, but due to a thorough bleaching mine around one-of-a-kind two-tone.
3. Similar to two: Patterned flowy tank, similar shorts but more distressed, autumn tone bracelet and thin mustard flats. I have not seen this tank in person, which is surprising since I fold about 750 articles of clothing a day. It looks like it might be really cute. I love the bracelet. And I like these shorts more than the previous because they are more casual and roughed up.
These shoes have a very almost jute texture, it’s really cool and I am super-into this vivid mustard color right now. That said, these shoes are super narrow and I doubt I could walk in them. But, they do come in several colors and pack nicely. Great vacation shoes.
4. Patterned dress, purse, shoes. I have nothing against the outfit. But, boring. And that purse seems like it would get dirty easily and not hold the three items the Teenager says I always have: tampons, pens, and food rations.
5. & 6. Ribbon tied tank, skirts, bags and sandals. I am putting these two ensembles because they really are variations on a theme. I don’t like anything in either outfit except for the tank. It’s the same tank in two different colors. It’s a decent fabric, and has a triangle in the cleavage area tied together with a wide ribbon. I like the style, though I can’t say I’m a fan of the navy blue. The white, on the other hand, I like. While it is easily stained, it is also very versatile.
7. & 8. Late sixties, early seventies? Before my time chic. I appreciate both of these styles, but they seem dated to me. I would fall in both pairs of shoes. If the gold top is the one I think it is, it feels rough. And I can’t wear an open cardigan. I have no shoulders to hold it up.
9. & 10. Dresses and big totes. This is my style. I love dresses. I already own the mustard tote. The ensemble with the striped dress, lightweight coat and sandals would be a cool mate to my tote, but I wouldn’t buy it. I don’t have enough time in my life to wear sandals. The dress, with its colors and pattern, wouldn’t match enough other items in my warddrobe. But that coat does match my bag.
The red dress looks super cute, and traditional I could totally do the “lady in red” look. And the boots, I need them. Now.
11. Faux leather jacket, jeans (bootcut), clunky shoes, and a funky messenger baggish thing. I love this outfit, but I would switch out the shirt. The shirt is boring. Love the shoes and the bag. I’ve handled a lot of the faux leather jackets, and they are okay. I think this brown color would be flexible.
12. & 13. Tanks and long jeans. I like both these looks but probably like the earrings best. I can’t wear wedges. Ever. The purse is a weird shape and the pattern is too much. I love white jeans, but don’t think I’d invest in a pair until I get a little thinner. But they would look great with the magenta patterned tank with the flared wide-leg jeans. Would I wear the jeans? If I found the right shoes.
14. Ruched crossover sleeveless lavender top, cuffed jeans, slouchy bag, and striped sandals. This is a very update take on what I called the sixties/seventies retro chic in 7 & 8. It’s very relaxed and easygoing, but I wouldn’t wear a single piece of it.
15. The basic sundress beach look. Love the sundress. For a small purse, I like this. I think I keep trying to buy the mustard yellow one that matches my tote. And while I love the shoes, I can’t wear anything that unstable.
16. & 17. Little black dress(es). I really love the ruching on the dress on the left, but I think it wouldn’t hang right on my shape. The little green slouchy boots so remind me of my middle school years, the late 1980s. That means I like them, but I don’t like them. I definitely prefer the tan boots in outfit 10. And while I like the shoes in outfit 11 in brown, here are the same shoes in black and I don’t like them. The purse on the left is unimpressive, but I totally desire the purse on the right. The black and white checks would be a fabulous accent to any solid color piece or pieces.
18. & 19. Upgrades to jeans and a t-shirt. Both of these are decent looks, but I hate both pairs of shoes. The jeans are unimpressive, but I think I like the yellow v-neck top and the bracelet.
20. Casual dressed up? I love the soft feel of this sweater and the buttons but the color doesn’t excite me. I would have to see the jeans on to know for sure how I feel about them, but I’m starting to believe distressed jeans have to be straight, or skinny, in order to have any sort of feminine vibe other than “I’m destitute.”
I have a pair of shoes similar to these, but I can’t walk in them. I take them out of my closet and try periodically and wear them until I almost twist an ankle.
And I like the flashy earrings with a relaxed combo.
21. Feminine distressed. Okay, I might work this look. With my mustard tote it might look amazing, especially if I get the mustard coat.
But seriously, these look to be higher waisted and slightly slimmer distressed jeans. I like the faded wash and the lack of cuffs. I have short legs so we don’t need to make them look any shorter. I love the scoop deck, shaped polka dot top reminiscent of a sun dress. And I have the earring set from Nakamol Chicago but in brown instead of blue. And I not only like the shoes, but I really feel the creamy neutral and they look like suede or faux suede. And I think I could walk in them.
22. Nope. There is nothing positive I can say about this one. I find most of the Daniel Rainn blouses are tacky. And this one outdoes itself. The shoes are boring and basic as are the jeans. And the purse is just ugly and a weird size, too big to be “small” and too small to shove in books, a lunch or a laptop.
23. Back to School. I think I like the shoes. Not sure. Backpack is loud. Shorts are too long. T-shirt the color of a foggy day. Boring.
It’s just about to turn 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The last 48 hours have been emotionally difficult, and those are internal challenges I have resolved within myself but now I need to “make right” in the world.
My good friend Joan (the talented photographer) had quipped that the moon is in “Frustrato” phase and perhaps that is accurate.
Sometimes it’s nice to blame the universe instead of accepting our part in the mayhem. Because even good intentions spark fires.
I heard a podcast yesterday; I believe it was an economic one, that asked if one host was “a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of guy.” He replied, “it’s just half.”
That’s too much enigma and philosophy for pre-dawn hours. Blame the fact that my trusty espresso machine only filled half my mug.
The teenager and I had 14 kittens in the house Saturday, Sunday and Monday offering temporary lodging for these babies whose official Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab foster families have gone on summer vacation.
They were so much fun to have around, but 11 went home last night. This led the Teenager’s officially adopted foster fail Mars of the Roman Pride distraught that his friends had gone. He screamed until the Teenager released him into “gen pop” where he plopped himself down in front of the remaining visitors.
On Friday, I had a rather grueling session at Apex Training with my coach Andrew. We did some intense work on balance and single leg muscle stability. On Saturday, the communication between my brain and my lower body felt rickety (for lack of a better description) and it was challenging to move. By Sunday, the movement felt smoother but my phone was registering spikes in walking asymmetry. But something very interesting happened Monday— I could not only stand on one leg, but I could also hold my leg in a few seconds of a quad stretch.
Yesterday, I visited the Stitch Fix employee store, which resulted in a good news/bad news scenario. I bought myself jewelry on an impulse and discovered my second holes could still accept earrings. As someone who really grew up in the 80s and graduated high schools in the 1990s, I have three sets of holes in my ears.
I bought the Teenager some new things, including some warm hiking style boots for fall and her dog walks. I bought myself an adorable pair of shorts, and I picked one size up from my pre-existing Stitch Fix clothes and they were too small.
Obviously my efforts to reduce my recent (as in pandemic era) weight gain have been not sincere enough. Sigh. I’m trying to eat better and move more without falling into a strict/restrictive mindset.
But I did eat an entire medium pizza from Domino’s the other night. It was a medium hand-tossed crust, light on the cheese, light on the garlic Alfredo sauce with red peppers and pineapple.
On the way home from work last night, I noticed that the furniture store looked abandoned— and that the sign merely said urn.
In the background of all of this, the ‘cat book’ from Parisian Phoenix has hit some unexpected difficulties prompting a delay in its production. But my quick thinking, after a few hours of pondering, have inspired an interim release of a mini cat book featuring advice and stories about the care of cats. The larger book will come later, perhaps in early 2023.
In the meantime, I am very puzzled why my sweet tripod foster Louise has decided to crate herself.
And the most surprising item of the day was receiving my first catalog for Parisian Phoenix Publishing— Uline junk mail!
I suppose the last update is that the people at Susquehanna Service Dogs have cashed my check for the application fee. I’m anxiously awaiting contact.
To say life has been hectic feels like an understatement.
Sometimes, these entries feel repetitive. I hope they don’t feel like that to you, the reader. But, in many ways, life is certainly repetitive.
Whether it be the old house always needs attention, the dog is always sick, a struggle with weight, mental or physical illness, a bad boss or money problems, each of us seems to have that troubling thing with which we grapple.
If you don’t have that thing, I would love to read your memoir (or maybe not— I might throw it across the room).
So if you keep stopping by or my blog posts keep popping up somewhere in your life, I know I’ve been talking about cerebral palsy a lot. It’s that thing for me, especially right now, as I topple through the second half of my forties.
I have spend most of my life— until the last decade really— denying that that thing made my life difficult. I laughed off accidents, tried to hide my legs, carefully picked my shoes and didn’t talk about it.
But also, and very important in the chronology, until that point, it hadn’t really been an issue. I occasionally feel down, scraped some knees and hands and laughed about it.
But then I started breaking bones, having issues with my spine and hip, and when I fall now, it’s more serious that wash up some scraped flesh and laugh it off.
So, if you don’t already realize, these blog posts are meant to be informative for those seeking situations involving demiplegic spastic cerebral palsy, but also chronicle my acceptance and journey into how to live my life with my disability instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.
We’re learning to co-exist, cerebral palsy and I, in a way that allows me to stay active, be whole, and keep myself safe.
On Monday, I had an uncharacteristic fall at work that seemed to come randomly out of nowhere. I wrote about it here. It scared me because it didn’t feel like my other falls.
I left work at 11 a.m. and came home to rest and write and emotionally decompress. I was scheduled to go to the gym at 6 p.m.
I texted Andrew, my strength and fitness coach at Apex Training. He moved my session to earlier in the day and The Teenager and F. Bean Barker accompanied me to the gym to study my walking and confer with Andrew about the possibility of a work out.
We scarcely made it two blocks and The Teen says, “Holy Shit, Mom. You’re right knee is hitting your left leg. You can’t feel that?”
She proceeds to mimic my gait. After half a block, she looks back at me and says, “No wonder your body hurts so much all the time, my hip is killing me already.”
It might seem mocking for her to imitate me on a city street, but for me it’s helpful since I can’t see myself move. That’s why I also like her accompanying me to various assessments as she has no problem telling doctors, “She’s having a good day today. When she’s tired that leg is much fuckier.”
She and Andrew studied me and they stared in bewilderment. They agreed that my left hip was definitely out-of-whack. The Teen left and Andrew got me stretching and doing a thorough workout that safely challenged the muscles that seemed to be malfunctioning.
As happened on Monday when I was achy, the workout made me feel better (which is why I didn’t want to cancel). I have never been good at not overdoing it, so the concept of “being gentle with myself” as my therapist says and “taking it easy” (both emotionally and physically) as my dad would remind me if he were still here, does not come easily to me. It’s especially hard because spasticity means my muscles don’t relax, so motion and exercise really can relieve my symptoms. But if my issues are joint and/or fatigue related exercise can make it worse. And I don’t often know which course of action will help.
I proposed this theory to Andrew: Since cerebral palsy means the brain and the nervous system can’t always communicate, I feel like sometimes those messages goes haywire. That’s when a good, supervised workout (where Andrew can guide my motions and direct me as to what body parts are doing unnatural things) helps my brain re-learn those communication skills. The muscles start to do what they should do because I am thinking consciously about how to do it, which helps the muscles get into the groove, and from there muscle memory takes over, and through doing, the brain resets.
Just my theory.
I woke up Thursday morning with minimal discomfort from my fall (and a new lump and bruise where I walked into a weight bench at the gym, which made Andrew feel terrible). I was looking forward to my appointment with Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center on College Hill in Easton, Pa.
Her daughter had joined her in the office. That made it interesting to have a different kind of conversation about my condition. I was a good example of two things: every patient is different and some patients have self-awareness about their body. And according to Nicole, I am one of the most self-aware in the practice. I was also an unusual example of someone who often “does better” in heels because of the fact that my heel parts (tendons? ligaments?) are so tight. I’m a toe-walker. My heels natural fall at an angle so a slight “kitten” heel replicates the shape of my feet.
I told Nicole about the latest “random” fall and this worried her, because she’s noticed (and I have tracked on a calendar) that my falls have gone from every six weeks to every two weeks. I mentioned that I applied for a mobility service dog through Susquehanna Service Dogs. She loved this. She agrees that I am the perfect candidate for this and that a dog could be a game changer.
I explained that I had mailed the application last week (Friday to be exact) and that The Teenager and Little Dog’s Mom had said they would write my letters of support (which means they support the placement of the dog with me and will take responsibility for making sure I take proper care of the dog once it is in my home). The Teenager planted the idea of a service dog in my head and it took some time, research and more falls to help me accept the idea that I have a disability and that a dog would be able not only to help, but would probably improve (and protect) my quality of life. The Teenager works for a local pet care company.
Little Dog’s Mom has known me for 20 years, trusts me to care for Her Ladyship Sobaka, and is a very responsible dog owner who takes often thrice-daily walks and has a magnificent fenced back yard. A potential service dog would have my small yard for potty breaks and the opportunity to run and play across the street at Little Dog’s house.
My doctor’s office assured me that if I bring the medical assessment form with me to my August 19 check-in, that my primary care physician would not only fill out the form but he would also do it while I was there. I asked my estranged husband of twenty years (and The Teen’s father), the president of the cat rescue where I foster (who left the social work business after decades to open Apricity Pet Care), and my therapist (who has known me for a decade and whose wife is a physical therapist) to fill out the personal reference forms. They all agreed. But back to the chiropractor…
Nicole also said to stand on one foot throughout the day to stabilize my leg muscles. Physical therapy is a fascinating science, the simplest movements can impose the greatest change. My blind friend Nancy discovered that a good portion of her shoulder pain and finger numbness stemmed from not stretching her neck up. As a blind person, she never has a need to turn her head toward the sky or ceiling or someone speaking from the stairs or seeking something on the top shelf by looking for it.
When her very clever physical therapist suggested stretching her neck regularly, her symptoms decreased significantly.
There it is. A lot of words. A lot of thoughts. I’m hoping this post will give you food for thought, reassure you that I am not totally a disaster waiting to happen and/or offer you information on my journey and hope for you if you need it.
It’s Wednesday. That’s my Friday. Wednesday is typically both hectic and easy at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy (Pennsylvania warehouse).
I’ve been performing at 100% all week— probably 106% yesterday— and my body has been protesting. A lot of dull pain and stiffness. I was honest with Andrew, my fitness and strength coach at Apex Training, that I have been struggling with my leg and spine.
So, Monday night, coincidentally the only day I worked a full-hour shift this week, I went to the gym but only focused on upper body. And I felt so much better and woke up as close to I get to ready to take over the world.
And yesterday, Tuesday, I excelled at work and came home stiff but still had an enjoyable evening. I thought it might be a good idea to take one of my muscle relaxers. It’s not a strong dose, but I hoped that they would ease the stiffness and allow by body to recover.
I woke up dragging, but managed to pull myself together. I had a cup of coffee and did what I could around the house. Put on my new cat leggings from Purr Haus. More about that here. (And I believe women of a certain age should not wear graphic prints on their bums and I am in that category. I have ventured outside my comfort zone.) Grabbed my lunch out of the fridge and left for work.
Went into the building, said hello to my friends and colleagues in the main break room. Walked down the central aisle with my big yellow purse and in the middle of the room, with open space everywhere and with no one and nothing near me, I face-planted onto the hard, austere floor.
On of my Monday through Friday colleagues came to help me up. I stood tall. Went to the cubby holes where we store our stuff and put my purse down. I took my water bottle and went to the bathroom and the water filling station.
I had just lived that scene in every underdog teen movie or television show. You know the one— where the dork gets tripped by the cool kid and throws their lunch tray across the room.
In the bathroom, I noticed that I ripped my brand new pants. I had scraped my knee but no bleeding.
I went back to the break room and couldn’t stop myself from crying. One of my colleagues, part of “the Sunday cohort” with me, gave me a light hug while I collected myself, assured me the pants could be repaired, and made me laugh.
When I got to my table for the day, I noticed that not only did my thumb hurt, but I had a tiny bruise under my fingernail.
I went to my supervisor and asked if I could leave at 11 instead of 3. The whole incident has me upset.
The falling is easy. Hell, getting up and doing what you have to is easy. But the fear is getting to me. The fear of when the next fall will come, how it will happen and what will happen to me clouds my brain.