The quotidienne details of launch day

Today is “book day”— my novel, Manipulations, the first volume of the Fashion and Fiends series went on sale at midnight.

Today, Parisian Phoenix Publishing is a real thing.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Today my estranged husband turns 47.

And it’s the annual Mary Meuser Memorial Library Book Sale.

I intentionally made my book launch on Darrell’s birthday as he always encouraged me to keep writing.

I got up this morning and found the book for sale on Barnes & Noble.com (click here), Amazon (click here) and Target.com. Even FNAC in France. Although currently, it’s no longer turning up at Target.

My books have shipped from their distributor, Ingram.

A glimpse into the addict brain

Today I had a great session at the gym, working with Dan at Apex Training. Dan wanted to isolate my right leg and try to alleviate some of the stiffness and difficulty I have had recently.

I felt amazing while working out with Dan, but as soon as I left the gym for my walk home, my troubles returned.

When I arrived at work, my supervisor stopped by. I told her it remained to be seen how the night would go. So I after the first two hours, I was a little behind. By meal, I was at 61– I should have been at 65. That’s not horrible but my numbers were in decline.

So I mentioned it to a lead.

And started the second half of the night with a refix cart.

This allowed me to pack my boxes with less twisting, and I was optimistic. I had gone into the lavatory and covered my back and leg with the CBD cream.

When I was working with the refix cart, my times improved, but the QC support staff starting bringing me regular carts. A lead had told me where to find more refixes, but what is the point of trying to improve my time and then having to load my own cart?

So I did the regular carts.

The pain returned 10 times over as the wonderful Charlotte’s Web Cream wore off. It seems to last about two hours.

After what I experienced tonight, I feel like I had a glimpse inside an addict’s mind.

When the cream lost its potency, the pain was insane and left me crying at my station. I wanted it to stop. I imagined reapplying the cream to relieve my pain.

Is that what it’s like to need a fix?

I didn’t mean to take this photo, but it’s pretty.

Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy at midnight

When I got home, I showered and applied CBD Medic Arthritis and poured myself a cocktail. That stuff is way stronger than the other cream.

Update later.

Disability Update: Weight training, the warehouse job and unboxing of CBD cream

A mish mash of disability related updates related to my life with cerebral palsy

I’m somewhere around week seven with my weight training with Apex Training and dreaming of a day when my stiff limbs might become those of a Paralympic powerlifting. I want to be a barbell athlete.

I missed Saturday’s session— I normally train 45 minutes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. But I picked up an overtime shift at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy.

I told Dan, my very talented and diligent trainer, that I would do a home workout over the weekend. I did not. And the lack of long hours and the mix of chores and resting I did over the weekend meant that I was not tired nor was I sore for Tuesday’s workout.

And he says he went easy on me, but he had me doing incline bench presses with 25 pound dumbbells. Now, for comparison, about 4-5 years ago when I was lean and strong, I was just ready to make the jump to 25 pound dumbbells but I couldn’t afford to buy them.

That’s when the teenager and I joined Planet Fitness, which lasted until the pandemic. Almost two years.

Yesterday was upper body day at the gym. That’s probably a good thing as my premenstrual hormones left me so stiff today I couldn’t bend at the waist or walk well. It also might have been impacted by the severe thunderstorm we had.

But somehow I hit 129 in QC at work. 130 is goal. At 11:41 p.m. my supervisor stopped by for an observation. I told her I almost called out but I knew she had to see me on a bad day. But when I started folding the clothes, I hit 35 in the first two hours (goal would be 32.5). But then I slipped and only got to 64 by lunch (goal is 65).

By third break I was at 97, which is shockingly on point. And at 11:41, she rolls up with her laptop. I’m both relieved and terrified.

She needs to see my struggle.

The cart I was working in had 3 refixes— out of 8. I don’t know why they call them refixes. They are fixes that are messed up and need fixing. So I guess the fixes need to be fixed again.

It was arduous. I was tired, sore and stiff. I had two damaged items of clothing and I wondered if she would think I damaged them. (Yes, I know I am insecure. My therapist says I “sell [myself] short].”)

I QC’ed in my observation at a rate of 115%.

And my boss had a suggestion to alleviate my struggle.

When I hurt I need to ask for refix carts. Those are the fixes coming out of the refix department once they are corrected. They come boxed on top of the cart so I don’t need to bend to get them.

They really do want to help.

And finally…

A few weeks ago, I asked the teen how her dad’s arthritis was. He has a club hand, so his left hand does most of his daily tasks. As a result, he has bad arthritis between his thumb, wrist and forefinger.

Turns out, his mother gave him Charlotte’s Web CBD cream and he swears by it. So I ordered some. And I ordered the CBD Medic Arthritis Cream as well.

They arrived today. So I took a shower, suffered through the contorting needed to shave my legs, and upon return to my room, I slathered the Charlotte’s Web cream on the knot in my back. The relief was instant, and I don’t want to think it had anything to do with the gin and limoncello cocktail I am drinking.

More details to come on the creams but it is so nice to go to bed without pain. And I think the knot in my back is loose. But I also must remind you—cocktail.

Can I touch my toes?

Yes.

And I didn’t even bend my knees.

This might be the best thing since Epsom salt.

Opinion: Representation of Aspergers in Season Two of Chicago Med

When Grey’s Anatomy first came out, I gave it a chance— but the amount of gratuitous sex made it realize very quickly it was a medical soap opera. I’ve watched a couple seasons, but the characters always seemed immature and the medical side of the show seemed superfluous to the plot.

I loved ER, but only made it through season 11 or 12. This was before the Netflix days. But still my favorite medical drama was House MD because of the quirky central character and the difficulties the rest of the ensemble cast had dealing with him.

One of these days I should make a list of the medical dramas I have watched over the years and revisit some of them to share what I like about them.

But my current show of choice is Chicago Med, but I am losing patience with it as I fear the writers are “jumping the shark” more with every season.

The first season did a great job of establishing a wide range of characters from a wide variety of backgrounds.

And in season two, the writers introduced a new heart surgeon— a Black and (Orthodox) Jewish gentleman by the name of Dr. Latham.

As soon as the regular cast began to interact with him, I suspected he had Aspergers. He portrayed a certain type of rationality and difficulty with emotions and reading others. His approach to surgery was very routine based.

I liked the character— a lot. And he discovered his Aspergers with the help of the psychiatric staff at the hospital (which as a doctor I think he would have realized it before) but to see him digest this news was very rewarding.

But then he wanted treatments. And that upset me. Aspergers made him a great surgeon and a unique character. But because he lacked empathy with distraught patients and the nurses said he “creeped out” families, he wanted to, pardon my use of the expression, see how the other half lives.

And the treatments started to work. And I hated it. I hated the notion that a doctor was perpetuating the idea that people who are non-mainstream need to be fixed.

Fuck that.

I’m not going to say anything more, because spoilers, but let’s just say by season 3 Dr. Latham’s Aspergers was forgotten and he contributes a valuable perspective to the show. And PS— in a mass casualty event, he rocks it with triage.

The show in Season 3 had a compelling storyline with Dr. Reese’s estranged father, which started as a really good dip into psychiatric issues, but then went over the top in not one but at least two ways. I hated the outcome.

And now in Season 4, I am seeing two storyline develop that feel more crime drama than medical and that’s not what I signed up to watch.

So now it’s a question of do I finish the show or abandon it?

Review: Day 1 with my new Samsung stackable washer and dryer

The delivery men from Lowe’s arrived about 8:30 a.m. in our 8 a.m. to noon delivery window. The teenager had woken slightly before and to the neighbors it sounded like a garbage truck was idling outside.

Very quickly and adroitly they plopped them in the kitchen and stacked them in my now 1/2 bath.

The washer was ready to go before they left, but the dryer— I hadn’t ordered the plug. There are so many extras that come with the washer and dryer combo I didn’t know which ones were necessary and I missed that one.

It turns out— the dryer was manufactured on my birthday. May 20, 2021.

I asked my dad to stop by when he has a minute and evaluate the vent and help me with the plug, but a neighbor remembered my appliances were coming and stopped by earlier in the day.

I did my first load of wash and hung it on the heated drying rack as I have on rainy days for about the last three years.

And then I took a look at the users manuals to understand the multitude of settings these beasts have.

With everything hooked up, I did four more loads of laundry— not that I had that much laundry piled up but we had delicates, darks, lights, bedding and cold wash. So far I think cold washes will be relegated to the washer in the basement.

It’s still a work in progress as the washer and dryer shifted even closer to the toilet.

But experimenting with the various settings has been really fun. Yes, fun.

Appliance Delivery Day

The teenager worked super hard cleaning, painting and rearranging things (like the refrigerator) while I moved furniture and tried to get the large objects off the floor— the cat toys, the random roller blades, the dog paraphernalia.

Lowe’s will delivery my Samsung washer and dryer between 8 am and noon. Which is, to me and my now second shift soul, the crack of dawn. It’s so early my parakeet is still sleeping.

This project means a lot to me on a lot of fronts— doing something for myself that is part of a long term vision, finally getting a dryer after about three years, spending money that I would usually save.

A note on my site pages and approaching updates

This web site started as a portfolio of my professional writing. I added some photos, some creative work and used it as a platform to blog my travels in France, Tunisia, Djibouti, Somalia, Yemen and Russia.

I added some pages for the cats we foster.

And soon I will be connecting a web page or two for the publishing house my friend Gayle and I are launching (egads! as my fellow author friend William Prystauk says) my first novel publishes in a week!

So coming soon… Parisian Phoenix Publishing and the Fashion and Fiends series. We have some other titles in the works— erotica, romance, poetry, thought-provoking identity politics/philosophy and hopefully even a book on cats.

Subsequently Gayle designed this logo before I started fostering cats and painted my bedroom this exact pink.

On the Eve of Ida: A Disability Storm of Meeting Expectations in the Workplace

I left for work today with the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumping sheets of rain on the Lehigh Valley, and I was honestly thinking that I’m grateful to have a job I like and a wage that keeps me from feeling like I’m on the verge of poverty.

With my past stressful work experiences I like the challenges and the environment at my warehouse job.

Because this post discusses my disability and its impact on my work performance and the struggle this creates for my employer to be fair, I am not naming that employer. If you read my blog with any sort of regularity, you know who it is. Let me be clear: I am NOT critiquing my employer or my local warehouse’s management.

I want to share the thoughts and questions as they run through my head.

I essentially fold clothes for a living. I often wonder what would happen if we made piece rate instead of the current wage. I make $18 per hour to fold clothes, but the expectation is that I will fold at least 90 items per hour. Now, I’m oversimplifying.

Most of the time, I reach 96-99% of this number. Tonight and Monday— 99%. Friday might have been 97%. But 3-4 days a month I only do 85.

My supervisor keeps asking what “they” can do to help— especially since in my weekly observations I routinely get 108%. It really bothers them that I am not at 100% or even consistant. My supervisor periodically makes it sound like she has to defend me in HR meetings.

I want to be able to say you are fully performing.

Supervisor

I have cerebral palsy, arthritis in my S1 joint and am also struggling with anemia. How do I explain this converges with my menstrual cycle not once but twice a month to leave me fighting pain and discomfort no medication I’ve found can touch?

How do I (and why do I have to) explain that cerebral palsy means the messages between my brain and my body don’t fire correctly and that my muscles stiffen?

How do I explain that anemia prevents me from moving any faster?

They give me examples of accommodations— sitting throughout the night, for example. (That would make my back stiffen even worse.)

I was told tonight that every employee needs to meet three areas of expectation— attendance (I got that), “culture” (meaning I have a good attitude and demonstrate their corporate values) and job performance.

I need to meet the numerical metrics in two work centers. So far, after ten months, I am 96-99% on one. And I seem to be a C student in all the others.

I get it. It’s a warehouse. You need metrics. We need to meet the numbers. But I’m so damn close. It’s not like I’m miles away. 99%.

I hope they really help me succeed. There was discussion today of potentially needing to take a medical accommodation form to my doctor. The problem with that is— my doctor doesn’t understand CP. I am still looking for the same answers my employer wants.

Am I wrong to want to do physical work when I don’t have the same body as everyone else?

Why I canceled Silk & Sonder despite amazing customer service and a quality product

I subscribed to Silk & Sonder in May, a birthday present to myself.

Read about my previous experiences and thoughts here: Silk & Sonder blog posts

Silk & Sonder unboxings:

August

May

After working out some delivery issues with customer service, I loved this product. But as lives go, mine got busy and I started using my journaling time as workout time and have been unable to find a time where I am rested enough and still enough to benefit from these activities.

Each month more and more of the planner remains blank because I can’t keep up— and that stresses me out.

I think I can incorporate some of the items I really like— monthly mood and habit trackers— into my current journaling practice.

But I would love if Silk & Sonder developed an annual planner that would allow exploration of this topics without feeling like I’m starting the over every month.

And as my life gets busier, making sure my paper planner and my phone calendar match has been exceedingly difficult.

Le Creuset: A broken skillet and a whole lot of memories

Last week, my Le Creuset skillet affectionately known as Baby fell off the kitchen counter and the handle snapped off the pan.

For our tenth anniversary, my husband and I bought each other Le Creuset at Williams Sonoma in lovely Marseille Blue.

My husband got a tea pot, as we had struggled to find a decent one for his evening peppermint tea and my Traditional Medicinals Valerian Nighty Nite.

My daughter melted the tea pot.

The skillet means a lot to me. Always has. This skillet was one of those purchases that I splurged on and wondered if it would be worth it.

I also have some Lodge cast iron cookware I picked up at Target for a fraction of the cost. Is Le Creuset worth the extra money? I honestly don’t know. But I do know my Le Creuset skillet never disappoints me.

I’ve been cooking in it since 2009.

So I filed a claim with Le Creuset. They got back to me and said the injury sustained by Baby was not a manufacturer’s defect and therefore not covered under their warranty.

But they offered to send me a new one if I destroy the old one.

And I realize… one can’t destroy a cast iron skillet and it seems very wrong to relegate to a landfill. And I can’t throw it out. I can’t.

Some of the best times of my now defunct marriage revolve around that skillet and I told the customer service rep that.

Your claim does not fall under our Limited Lifetime Warranty coverage. Our warranty only covers manufacturer defects. The damage to your item was caused by falling onto a hard object or hard surface. What we would like to do as a one-time courtesy is to offer to replace the item for you at no charge.

Samantha, customer service, Le Creuset

She says a new one is in the mail. I am so surprised at how upset the idea of “losing this one” makes me.