A mid-week restart with Postmodern Jukebox

This post is both a brief review of the Postmodern Jukebox performance at the State Theatre for the Arts and a brief update as to my current condition struggling with cerebral palsy.

Monday night I performed well at work, but by the end of the night my right leg and hip were screaming in pain, to the extent where I grew nauseous. I woke up still in pain but had no trouble performing an upper body workout with my trainer, Dan, at Apex Training.

The teenager, recovering from last week’s ear infection, and I did some barbell bench press.

But on the walk home, I was struggling with function in that leg and pain in my knee.

I knew I had a chiropractor appointment with my beloved Nicole Jenson of Back in Line on Wednesday morning so Tuesday night, I called out.

Since the warehouse is encouraging people to take voluntary time off, I called out for Tuesday, took voluntarily time for Wednesday, in addition to the planned time off I had scheduled for Thursday.

The teenager had an appointment with a new ENT today — he put her head under a microscope, pulled out her ear tubes and gave her ears a good cleaning. More importantly, he explained all the different functionality of the ears.

The audiologist gave her a hearing test and she rapidly discovered— the teenager, not the audiologist— that her musical inclinations have allowed her to inadvertently fake the hearing tests at her childhood ENT’s office.

So the audiologist said that the teenager is a good candidate for hearing aids.

We had a leisurely afternoon which included a delivery of apples from my friend Joan who has tasked me with converting them into applesauce and apple butter.

And then… we (the teenager and I) finally embarked on our date, much anticipated by me. The teenager took me out for pancakes.

And then we headed downtown to the State Theatre for the Arts to see Postmodern Jukebox. #pmjtour

The amazing parking spot we procured had a three hour limit, but both the physical meter and the parking app would only let me apply 1 hour and 24 minutes. So, as that was set to expire at 7:23, I used the app to apply that final 45 minutes from inside the theater.

On the way there we passed Hoza, the new African/Zimbabwean restaurant downtown. Very excited to try it.

But the show— blew my mind. The vocals and musicianship was incredible, the costumes a delight and the arrangements of the music on point.

To see bits of the #pmjtour I shot, click here.

And at intermission, my lovely daughter bought me that Yuengling I’ve been craving.

Parisian Phoenix to participate in the Easton Book Festival

Parisian Phoenix Publishing

Parisian Phoenix Publishing, a boutique independent press representing unique voices and diverse perspectives, will make its first public appearence with a reading by founder and author Angel Ackerman at the Easton Book Festival at 3 p.m. October 23.

Parisian Phoenix debuted its titles September 11 with Ackerman’s horror Fashion and Fiends series, volume 1, Manipulations, a novel where supernatural forces stalk members of the high fashion world. Much of the novel takes place in various settings of the Lehigh Valley.

The third annual Easton Book Festival ends Sunday, October 24.

Readings occur at 22 Centre Square in Easton, near independent bookseller Book and Puppet Company and The Crayola Experience.

Former journalist Angel Ackerman, a Slate Belt native and Wilson Borough resident, founded Parisian Phoenix with graphic design professor Gayle Hendricks from South Bethlehem.

The second volume of the series, Courting Apparitions, will release in late November. Upcoming titles…

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Less than 48 hour whirlwind tour to DC with patron saint Carly Simon

Author’s note: this post will contain some language I don’t usually use in my blog posts, probably only the word ‘bitch.’ But you’ve been warned

A few weeks ago, M (my friend from college and traveling companion for the last decade) made arrangements that I would come to Washington DC to deliver popcorn, give M a copy of my novel MANIPULATIONS (order here), discuss upcoming projects for Parisian Phoenix, and relax.

The hope was that my “day job” at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy would offer us voluntary time off between 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday night and that I might have off Monday.

I could arrive in D.C. late Friday night and stay until lunch time Monday.

Except on Wednesday, I was reminded I had a 9 a.m. doctor appointment Monday. But, it could easily be virtual. So no big.

But then we didn’t get out early Friday. And I didn’t have Monday off. But also my supervisor stopped by for an observation and despite spasming back muscles I performed at 96% and finished the night at 129 fixes, which is 99.2%. I could have hit 100, but I helped a colleague who is struggling to learn QC.

I arrived home very grumpy at 12:30 a.m., left my purse and suitcase in the car (with my toothbrush no less), and ran in the house to release Misty from his crate (the teenager forgot him) and put the dog to bed.

I took a shower and collapsed in bed naked as my alarm was set for 7:45 and it was 1:10 a.m. Now, M calls me crazy bitch (or CB for short) as I am prone to do things like drive to his house for dinner. And the idea of getting six hours sleep and heading to DC for a 24 hour visit is another crazy bitch move.

But then the cats starting fighting at 2 a.m. So now I’m super-annoyed, naked, and turning on my roomba to scare my personal cat Fog out of my room. He’s the asshole that scares the fosters.

Now I’m down to about five hours before I leave for DC.

At 7:45, my alarm goes off. I clean cat boxes, feed the birds, check food bowls, get dressed and leave the house by 8:15. I stop at Dunkin to grab a cold brew and try the new peanut butter cup flavor. They screwed up and gave me pumpkin. The teenager had purchased me candy — so I had Haribo berries for breakfast/ road trip fuel.

I was on the road by 8:30 a.m. Stopped at a rest stop outside Hershey around 10:30 a.m., then decided it wisest to stop outside the Baltimore loop in Hereford, Md., for gas. I ended up at an Exxon and I needed to pee, but my gut said this wasn’t the place.

But Carly Simon was singing You’re so vain on a loudspeaker at the creepy gas station. And there is a short story I wrote— that may be completely lost— where one of the main characters in my Fashion and Fiends horror book series gives his virginity to an older girl at a party. The character is Étienne d’Amille, the girl is Arlette (who makes an appearance in Manipulations), the year is 1973 (I think) and Arlette is singing You’re so vain when they meet.

I arrived in DC at noon and had no trouble finding parking despite youth soccer games less than a block from M’s house. City parking. During a soccer game.

Finally some good luck.

But PS— the popcorn was stale and nasty.

M ordered some chicken sandwiches and fries from Roaming Rooster. We ate, made coffee, changed into sweatpants and started to chat. Eventually I started editing manuscripts for Parisian Phoenix and M enjoyed several episodes of Dr. Pimple Popper.

M also reviewed my bloodwork, as he works in a medical lab.

Meanwhile his housemates, my Indian friends, couldn’t believe I drove all that way… to sit around and do nothing.

In the morning, we drank more coffee. I did some more work and we drove To Alexandria, Va., to visit the Mediterranean Bakery so M could get his fresh pita for the week and we had breakfast of Lebanese flatbread— one with cheeses and another with zaatar and labneh. We washed it down with mint Aryam yogurt drink. M informed me that if I mispronounce it, I will be saying “two testicles” in Arabic.

I purchased some goodies for the teenager (pita chips with zaatar, halva and dried kiwi) and some candy and chocolate covered espresso beans for the drive home. And some spices and harissa.

Then I had a cup of coffee and drove home. I left at 2:45 pm. I was in DC for 25 hours.

And on the way home, Spotify played Carly Simon’s Nobody does it better. That song came from a James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me. Étienne is also a huge Bond fan. Again, James Bond has a few appearances in Manipulations.

The business trip to DC that almost wasn’t

I’m in DC this weekend, working on the business, so if you don’t follow me there, here it is…

Parisian Phoenix Publishing

Good evening, folks!

It’s Angel, and I’m writing from my Washington, D.C., office. I had hoped that conditions would allow me to come down yesterday, but I couldn’t leave until this morning. And, sadly, I had hoped to stay until Monday, leaving around noon, but a 9 a.m. doctor’s appointment on Monday may call my visit short.

But even a few hours in D.C. will recharge my batteries and allow me some focus and relaxation. It’s a wonderful feeling to edit in a familiar but fresh environment, and it’s almost like being off the grid and allows me to work relatively undisturbed with lots of coffee at my disposal.

If you know me, or if you visit some of my travel stories (or if you went to college with me), you may know my companion, M. I’m here hoping to inspire him to write a piece for the upcoming identity…

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Food box blunders, ear infections and a good workout

I’m feeling exceedingly optimistic today.

I “fixed” my roomba, had a therapy session that left me sobbing in my psychologist’s office, had an incredible workout (full body as I will be traveling this weekend, but we did a lot of work on hip mobility), and cooked.

The business cards for Parisian Phoenix came in. Thanks to my trusty business partner Gayle.

Perhaps the chaos of earlier this week is finally settling down.

Seen in downtown Easton

So, last Saturday I got my regular Hungryroot order. And Tuesday was Purple Carrot. I wasn’t going to get a box from them this week but they had West African Peanut Stew on the menu.

And then I got a text that Green Chef was on the way.

I promptly canceled Green Chef so there would be no more surprises as they were my least favorite. But that box was on the way.

It arrived yesterday after I left for work. I received this message today.

I certainly hope there is no more food coming.

Because the teenager came down with an ear infection and has so much phlegm in her throat that she can’t swallow. But don’t worry she took some antibiotics and some DayQuil so she could enjoy a Hungryroot burger.

I prepared a bag of greens and a Green Chef meal for Gayle as I am supposed to go to DC this weekend and I can’t physically prepare it all. And M, my host, said I can’t bring it. The result— I now can say I pay my art director in groceries.

Purple Carrot has a $75 Thanksgiving box available. I ordered one.

And today I cooked:

  • Green Chef Mojito Cauliflower
  • Purple Carrot Buffalo-style tempeh and roasted sweet potatoes and garlic
  • Brussel Sprouts

But much to my chagrin— Purple Carrot swapped out the peanut stew for a grilled tofu meal.

Addendum:

From Gayle, after making her Green Chef meal.

I came home and just put everything in the fridge. Brown bag and all.

Pat looked at the recipe when she headed to the bathroom. She made vomiting noises. Not surprising.

I thought I remembered it saying 30 minutes. About 4:30, I started working on it. I didn’t look at the recipe earlier and didn’t realize it had two sides. I was overwhelmed when I saw all the instructions on the other side. I quickly realized that they were dummy proof and that made them longer.

I got the farro on and started the oven, then cut the squash and picked the tarragon. That was the most tedious part of the whole thing. That all went in the oven and I opened the chard. It was nasty. One leaf was probably okay. Glad you gave me other chard. I’m not a fan of raw chard so I wilted it. The nasty stuff went to the compost pile.

The rest of the prep was easy. By the time the farro and squash were done, the rest was too.

I made two portions. One for another day and one for supper. I did not put the apple on the leftover portion because it was already browning.

I was left with two large piles. One was compost and the other was plastic bags. So many bags. One said to pull off the label and recycle it. The rest had no numbers, no nothing so they went in the trash.

It was nice having all the ingredients and a recipe. It was fantastic having something different to eat.

Fitness update: Where did that leg go?

Last week, I moved my follow up bloodwork from Friday October 15 to yesterday in part because I am planning a trip to DC over the weekend.

The morning yesterday started in a discombobulated fashion as my mornings generally do. I was so mixed up by the time my appointment rolled around that I drove right by the office.

The events of the morning had my anxiety on high, and revisiting my past issues with anxiety has not been fun. I even find myself fighting some of familiar behaviors, like stressing about how much money I have in savings and going over budget on food.

At the same time, I had a lunch appointment with my mother who recently lost a brother to cancer and anticipates losing another to the same cancer.

And I’m feeling my body thinking — my right leg isn’t working. I woke yesterday in no pain whatsoever yet something felt very wrong with my right leg, like maybe it was too close to the left one or pointing the wrong way. Very disorienting feeling.

I asked the teenager to take a look and she confirmed that it indeed look “very wrong” so we called Back in Line so my chiropractor Nicole Jensen could take a look.

This meant the whole day involved running from place to place which led to more stress, which increases the tension and the cerebral palsy stiffness in my muscles.

Nicole adjusted me again and aggressively stretched my hips. She also commended me for trying to know my body.

And at work I felt it. Keenly, painfully. Started in my hip, then my spine, then the left side of my lower back, and then the right. Everything hurt. I finished the night at 92% because of the pain.

The pain bothered me all night, and I woke up with it, and believe it or not struggling to carry the 80 lbs of cat litter I needed upstairs may have helped— by relieving tension.

Thank goodness for the gym, as my trainer Dan at Apex Training is very cognizant of how I am moving and has catered my workouts to my health levels.

I’m struggling emotionally right now, and I am physically in pain across my lower body. I can’t afford to stay home from work and I fear tonight will be worse than last night.

This morning, my bloodwork returned. My TSH is normal. My iron is creeping up way slower than I had hoped. My vitamin D was increasing but it hasn’t budged in four months.

And I also got an email with the results of the Artful Dash— officially Gayle beat me. Which she did not. I was a clear two feet ahead of her in the finishing chute.

Dahlias from a friend

The Artful Dash: Romping on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail

I grew up in a rural township about 30 minutes from where I currently live. The “small town” I own a home in now literally seceded from the neighboring city 101 years ago. I love the mix of quaint and urban, and that we have small town vibes of Halloween parades, tiny public libraries and a school system where every teacher knows my daughter’s name regardless of whether she had a class with them.

But I also love the nearby city of Easton, Pa., where my husband and I had our first apartment downtown and our second apartment in a rather questionable neighborhood on the south side.

About two or three months ago, I noticed the Karl Stirner Arts Trail was hosting its Artful Dash 5k to raise money for this fun and unusual trail along the Bushkill Creek. The trail links Lafayette College’s Arts Campus to the 13th Street Silk Mill, snaking along Rt 22 in the process.

Gayle and I registered. It was my idea. We used to do 5k events about once a month until Gayle got poorer and busier and I developed more issues with my spine.

My last race was a Girl Scout event and I intended to run it, as I had also run the Yuengling Lager Jogger. The Girl Scout race ended up being a disappointment because I dropped a 15-lb dumbbell on my toe six weeks out. Also: Read about that race here.

Today was almost 65 minutes. Another disappointment. Especially since this was a great race. Well marked, friendly volunteers, small but big enough, nature, flat surfaces.

But I did slow down at one point deliberately because I just had a major adjustment on my hip Wednesday and it didn’t feel up to heavy effort.

So that was that.

Here is Gayle’s report on her walking blog.

Unboxing: An Impulse Hungryroot order and a fulfilling Indian meal

A couple weeks ago, it was the middle of the night after a long shift. I had poured a cocktail and was perusing the menu and grocery options at Hungryroot as I like to treat myself to one Hungryroot box and one Purple Carrot box each month.

When the charge for my regular shipment popped up in my American Express notifications— I noticed it was more than double what I normally spend.

I opened my account to see what I bought— and I couldn’t find a single criticism of the items I selected.

The meals included:

  • Braised tofu, dall and sautéed vegetables
  • Spinach artichoke burgers on cauliflower buns
  • Salmon avocado toast
  • Egg and cheese (organic sprouted) bagel sandwiches

And the extra groceries: guacamole, samosas, meatballs, Alfredo dip and golden kiwis. The free protein was pork carnitas which the teenager really liked last time.

Unboxing video here.

I made the Indian-style meal with the samosas and seasoned the vegetables with garlic and can Indian spice blend though I’m not sure which one. I also added spinach.

It was very delightful on this crisp autumn night.

Friday update: some health news and some silliness

Yesterday must have been “doctors return patient messages” day because I heard from both my primary care physician’s office and my gynecologist’s staff.

But before I get to that… because that info will primarily be about the female reproductive system and how my issues in that area are compounding the impact of my cerebral palsy (and I know that’s an exciting topic), let me start with the humor in this beautiful Friday morning.

But perhaps the humor started last night with the fire drill at work. The fire alarm itself sounded like crickets chirping in a field. I supposed the sound gets lost in the depth of the warehouse.

The Bizzy Hizzy released us at 9:30 p.m. last night, which is fantastic for my aching body that is still trying to figure out what the hell happened to my hip. (Read about that here.)

I got up this morning hoping to be well-rested and pain-free. I woke up a cuddly Khloe and another phone call from my gynecologist— but I’m skipping those details for now. Let’s just say I have an appointment with them on October 22 and the person who made my appointment has a cat named Mr. Doodlehead.

Khloe

I go downstairs, let the dog out and noticed the Met-Ed truck at my neighbor’s house. The noise of the bucket truck scares the dog. We go inside. I put coffee in the Keurig.

The power goes out.

The bucket truck drives away.

Our own neighbor tries to chase down the crew. Another neighbor starts pacing the sidewalk. A third guy— yes all these people are men— stands in the yard and stares. (He’s the apparently live-in boyfriend of the resident. It’s a weird situation because they met on the internet and I was told it didn’t work but now he appears to be living there after two dates.)

After a little while, I realize I don’t want to open the fridge but I really should have breakfast so I’ll go out. My leg and spine still feel weird after Wednesday’s rather dramatic adjustment— I veto walking to the teenager’s favorite mini-mart gas station. Besides, they might not have power either.

At this point, the dog brings this from the kitchen:

Poop in a can

As if the cat food can wasn’t delectable enough, the teenager must have tossed a bag of animal poop in it. Poop in a meat can! What a treat.

I put on my shoes about to take the dog to Dunkin’ and I realize— I have no idea how to open the garage door manually. So I sit back down and work on the memoir I am proofreading.

But I need food.

So eventually I brave it.

The dog had tried to convince the kittens to play and lost that battle so she needed a pick-me-up, too.

The trip was uneventful. Except I had to drive around the building an extra time because I got to the speaker before I had my order ready. You can see me feed the dog a turkey sausage, egg and cheese wrap here.

And when I got home I realized—

I have no idea how to reconnect the garage door opener.

Now the health stuff…

I am on day three of taking CBD oil.

I am recovering from anemia caused by stress and heavy menstrual bleeding. My menstrual cramps hit me in my spine every two weeks, first for ovulation then for the actual bleeding. My spine already has issues with my SI joint because of all the years of walking crooked due to cerebral palsy. Despite my history of an active lifestyle and my current training program, the pain is getting worse and harder to treat.

CBD cream has been very successful in relaxing tense and spasming muscles in my back.

The gynecologist ordered some blood tests — I go Monday — and the PCP won’t see me until November 2 and I have instructions to follow up with my gynecologist in the meantime.

They requested and I got abdominal and transvaginal ultrasounds which revealed small growths (a benign cyst and a fibroid) in my uterus (looks like adenomyosis) which due to my age will probably cause more pain until menopause.

To alleviate this, they are going to give me the Mirena IUD in two weeks. Which is funny, because the proposed treatment for my back pain is a contraceptive device when I’m 46-years-old and haven’t been that kind of intimate in more than two years.

Fingers crossed that it helps. And that insurance covers it because it costs a thousand dollars.

I had two copper IUDs (Paragard) in the past. The first one lasted the whole ten years. The second was so painful I asked them (honestly begged them) to remove it after the first year.

Cover reveal: Courting Apparitions, volume two of the Fashion and Fiends series, sequel to Manipulations

Hello, my regular readers.
I have a health update for everyone and I hope to type that later today, but for now: Here is yesterday’s post from Parisian Phoenix Publishing.

Parisian Phoenix Publishing

Greetings, Readers!

Our Art Director Gayle Hendricks has officially revealed the cover to Courting Apparitions, the second book in the Fashion and Fiends series and sequel to Manipulations.

(Speaking of Manipulations, our carton of books in anticipation of the upcoming Third Annual Easton Book Festival arrived today and Angel Ackerman and the family dog hosted an unboxing. See it here.)

Gayle did not use stock photos or art for the cover but built a poppet herself and shot it in the university photo lab.

We ran a poll on LinkedIn to ask whether people preferred the poppet with or without the necklace. No results yet.

Turns out, the denim fabric of the doll’s body came from the discarded jeans of a mutual friend’s brother. Or, so her Facebook page declares.

The book will be released in late November, so if the first book left you wanting more…

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