Reflections on Roe vs Wade

I spent 15 years of my working life as a print journalist and often I still look at the world stifling my opinions in order to present fairness, equity and facts.

It’s not dissimilar to what some of my small, family-oriented business owning friends say: that you don’t want to alienate those who trust you.

But I grow more and more disheartened by our country every day. With the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade 6 to 3, abortion will be legislated by the States.

“Conservatives” (I say that because America has a long history of not really using the terms conservative and liberal correctly) and pro-Lifers will rejoice. But I am agitated at the illogical rhetoric that our country throws out there when we, as a society, need to tackle important issues. And both sides seem ridiculously unwilling to compromise in any way. Cooperation is a dirty word to our leaders.

All of this is my opinion and here are my lamentations:

  • The logic of changing (and probably eliminating) the right to abortion is usually centered on protecting the unborn. Who is clamoring to take care of all of these unborn? What if the fetus has serious complications? What if the parents are severely impoverished or facing homelessness or addiction? What if the parents are unstable emotionally? We are a society that traditionally does not have the kindest or most efficient or even equitable healthcare, foster care or support for the disabled.
  • So, when we start talking about abortion, it’s an issue of individual rights, isn’t it? And a couple years ago when we started talking about a public health crisis— the pandemic— a lot of people who are probably very keen on pro-life sentiments also balked about the prospect of wearing a mask or mandating mRNA vaccines. Now I still don’t like mRNA technology but I understand my responsibility as the member of society and the philosophical concept of the greater good, so I got the damn “vaccine.” But the same people who say it’s a violation of personal rights and bodily autonomy to wear a mask or force a needle often think it’s perfectly okay to interfere with a woman’s bodily autonomy and health when it comes to abortion— and these same people have no concern or interest about what happens to the woman during pregnancy or to the baby upon birth.
  • This baby, this unborn life, is protected but we live in a land where guns are easily available and shootings are becoming as commonplace as Starbucks. Children can find guns and shoot other children. Teachers die in mass shooters in classrooms. Worshipping people die in churches but we value the sanctity of unborn life. To have a gun is a second amendment right. So protecting life against guns cannot by done, or so they say.
  • The big problem in this country stems from ignorance and poverty. Corporations and politicians, run by those who have financial assets, decide who has opportunity and education. Schools are woefully unequal even a mere mile apart. So while we are taught to work hard and we might achieve anything, it’s just not true.

Exploring my Disability update and Podcast review: Disability After Dark

I am scheduled for a CT scan of my brain at 1:30 today. The neurologist’s office called at 9 a.m. and warned me that the insurance company has not authorized it yet.

Update: it is now 12:30 p.m. and the neurologist’s office has called and has canceled by CT scan.

I’m disappointed for two reasons: 1. I was excited to have to pay much less for my CT scan because my deductible was met (and do I dare to conspire that maybe the insurance company is dragging their feet so I have to pay for it?) and 2. I want to see my brain.

I would love to see a functional MRI of my brain but that will never happen as I have a dental implant and while that gives me a good structure for my missing tooth, the MRI would rip that metal out of my head.

Cerebral palsy is a condition that occurs when either at birth or after birth the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and therefore, I am assuming here, dies.

But children are amazing creatures and brains rebuild and rewire as best they can.

In my case, I have hemiplegic cerebral palsy that causes symptoms in my lower body. Quadriplegic cerebral palsy effects both halves.

Cerebral palsy is a static condition, which means it doesn’t get worse or get better. Although, everyday wear and tear on the body can be exacerbated by awkward movements, which causes premature aging.

My neurologist assessed me and came up with some malfunctions, including these:

  • I have spasticity in my legs— specifically in my quads and calves. This means my muscles do not relax. Stretching the muscle groups forces them to move and is as close to relaxing as they get. Stillness often causes stiffness. So literally standing up from my bed and walking after a good nights sleep makes me feel like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.
  • My feet naturally turn inward and I don’t have the range of motion I should have in my ankles. My left foot specifically likes to try and hang out under my right foot when I walk.
  • My feet don’t have the correct temperature sensitivity. This explains why I never feel my feet are cold until they are purple. And why once they are cold, it’s practically impossible to get them warm again.

I’ve been researching everything I can find on cerebral palsy and an interesting podcast is Andrew Gurza’s Disability After Dark. He originally started the podcast as a sex podcast for people with disabilities but, as a disability advocate, has interviewed a wide range of people and covered a wide range of topics. He’s also launching a sex toy line for people with disabilities.

Like any podcast, some episodes are stronger than others based on the guests, but I love his diversity in interviewing people with a broad range of experiences. And he is very honest about his life and brings that same level of truth out of those he features.

The notion of emotional support and work in American society

Yesterday left me thinking a lot about the notion of friendship and emotional support. As I continue to navigate the death of my father, the gestures I see from those around me touch my broken heart in ways I never imagined possible.

And recent events, from how Stitch Fix handled the recent shift change to how they handled my father’s death, shows me that successful businesses— even American ones with an international presence and millions of clients— don’t have to be jerks.

The dog and I were sitting on the sunporch yesterday waiting for one of my crazy cat lady friends to stop by. She wanted copies of my novels to give to her sisters for Christmas (and I need more fans) and she once cared for Mars and Minerva while they were on their pet store tour.

(Speaking of Mars— he has the prettiest purr. Check it out here. And maybe adopt him. Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.)

While Bean and I were waiting, an older man pulled up in front of my house and starting rooting around in the hatch/cargo area of his SUV. And he gets out a big bouquet of flowers.

Did someone send me flowers? Who do I know who is fancy enough to send flowers?

They came in a big glass vase with white roses and baby’s breath, and these lovely periwinkle filler flowers that I know I should know the name of because I did take high school horticulture.

I struggle to unfold the card. And I discover it’s from Stitch Fix. So I know I have a warehouse job. I know I fold clothes with everybody else. I am considered an unskilled worker, over educated for my position.

But I feel like Stitch Fix is the first company I’ve worked for to treat everyone of us like we are people, and not just interchangeable bodies in a process.

My warehouse job has paid the same amount of money as my last professional job— and removed so much stress and feelings of inadequacy from my life.

Professional positions or even common retail positions have controlled my life— constantly making it clear that “they” feel it is my privilege to work for them.

When my cat Opie had cancer I went into the computer system and requested to use some of my accrued paid time off so I could be at home after he got his leg amputated. I was working for Target at the time, about 36 hours a week so of course I didn’t qualify for medical benefits or anything because I was “part-time.” I had worked for Target for almost a decade.

They didn’t know it, but I had already accepted a professional position at a local non profit, but because of Opie’s surgery and other home circumstances, I had asked to start on the first day of the next month.

Now, after Christmas a few months prior, a guest had called the store and accused me of a racist act the day prior. This person of color had gathered all of the remaining food from the cafe, set it aside for 20 minutes, and not paid for it. She spent the entire time on the phone. I finally asked her if she was ready to pay for it and she left the store angry. Her husband called the next day. She never went to a supervisor, never said anything to me, just went home.

And the investigation determined that because I talk with my hands, I was angry and threatening with her. Despite witnesses saying the contrary. Despite almost ten years with the company.

So I got written up. This means if I did anything else wrong in the next year they could fire me. This meant I couldn’t apply for any promotions (despite the fact that my supervisor had left and I had been running my department during fourth quarter).

This is why I finally had enough and looked for a new job. And my marriage was in trouble and I needed to make more than $12 an hour.

I mention this because one of my Target friends just got fired for a similar incident where a customer was clearly out of line, and Target took their side. Even though this employee had been with the company since 2009. Just boom— fired.

And do you know what happened when I requested off? My manager denied it. I was too important to take time off.

But not important enough to pay a living wage.

But not important enough to defend when a customer was out of line.

But not important enough to provide medical insurance.

I went back to the computer and gave my two weeks notice. Except the store manager begged me not to go. And we agreed I could have the time off and I would work Saturdays to help train my new supervisor. Who turned out to have no interest in our department, ignored our breaks and wouldn’t listen to anyone but herself.

And when I called her out on it, because my peers wouldn’t do it because they needed the job, the same manager that denied my time off tried to fire me.

It didn’t work, but I never worked another day at Target, so they “got their way.”

And don’t even get me started on my experiences in “professional” employment.

If you have a job where you like going to work and your boss is a human, treasure it. It’s getting rarer.

So, yes, even though Stitch Fix is metrics driven and can be physically taxing, I have felt more like a person in their employment than I have in years.


More to come on the definition of “friend” later. So many generous acts have happened since my father’s death.

Surviving Day 2: First Day Shift with Day Shift

The teenager got up a little before 6 a.m. to drive me to the Bizzy Hizzy. Her father had a car accident yesterday and she needed a ride to her therapist appointment after school.

For those who don’t know me, I am a former journalist and non-profit communications/development professional with mild cerebral palsy working at one of Stitch Fix’s warehouse. For the most part, I fold clothes for a living.

I like the concept, always have since I first read of it in Vogue a decade ago. The company itself has what I refer to as a California culture, which can be a little ridiculous but makes me feel like a person at my job in addition to being a cog in the wheel.

Why am I working at Stitch Fix instead of in a “nice professional job”?

  1. I make as much money at Stitch Fix as I did in my professional jobs, with better benefits and paid time off and proper holidays.
  2. I have less stress.
  3. Although the job can be monotonous at times, it allows me to think throughout the day. I plot my novels. I plan for my business. I guess in a way I meditate.
  4. Although with my health issues, the job can tax my body but it also keeps me more active than an office job.
  5. Until recently, the convenience of second shift hours allowed me to live my own life during the day and work at night. This allowed me to launch my publishing company, Parisian Phoenix Publishing Company. (Please consider purchasing my novels Manipulations and Courting Apparitions. New titles in other genres coming soon. Titles not by me.)

Which brings me full circle. Stitch Fix started second shift (3:30 p.m. to midnight) to split the number of workers in the warehouse during Covid. But now, thanks to the success of experiments with what was “Direct Buy” and is now Stitch Fix Freestyle, the company has transitioned from operating Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to midnight to seven days a week, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

From a transportation logistics standpoint it makes total sense. The business model was originally set up to provide customers with a custom-curated box of five items based on their selections on a computerized survey and the input of a personal stylist.

The idea was to combine items selected with your preferences in mind with the element of surprise, making it like receiving a gift in the mail.

But now people can also order whatever they want. And when people order it, we can ship it and have it to them within, in most cases, a day or two.

On the Monday to Friday model, which the employees loved, the person who ordered a shirt Friday at lunch time might not receive it until the following Wednesday.

I respect the company for adjusting its behavior to capitalize on current trends.

Stitch Fix has truly gone above and beyond to make the transition as comfortable as possible for second shift employees. For instance, we got priority for new shift assignments— we got to pick what shift we wanted to work. And we could request our preferred roles, too.

I wanted Sunday to Wednesday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Well, actually I wanted Wednesday to Saturday, because having Saturday night through Tuesday night off seems like a cool weekend. But my commitments made that impossible.) And I opted to stay in Women’s Outbound.

Today was our second day of this new schedule and our first day overlapping with “traditional” day shift. There were only about 35 of us, and a couple hundred of them.

Day shift is way different from Midnight Society. They have so many people that the jobs get very specific and everyone has an assigned location.

Things I normally have to do for myself, like gathering extra supplies, now get delivered to me.

And the day shift people, who, in the past were rather particular about everything and could be quite mean, now seem curious and even helpful— just like we would be on Midnight Society when someone new joined the team.

The day went just as quickly as yesterday but one BIG thing needs to be addressed.

Someone needs to tell the cleaning crew to adjust their schedules as old cleaning routine has them cleaning the ladies room at our first break and at end of day.

It made sense to clean the bathroom at 5 when we had our first evening break at 5:30, but now? It’s a little cruel.

Review: County Seat Spirits and the gems of the Silk Mill in Easton

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, William Prystauk and I ventured down to Easton’s Silk Mill. We had enjoyed a lovely sushi dinner and wanted to imbibe a classy cocktail and some decadent ice cream.

Our plan was to hit County Seat Spirits and Ow Wow Cow. Neither Bill nor I had ever been inside County Seat Spirits as I had discovered them during pandemic “lockdown.” I ordered quite a few of their to go items during last summer. (More about my history with County Seat Spirits here.)

So Saturday was my first visit inside the venue and I was not disappointed, especially in the afternoon light.

I had the Mint Condition and Bill had the Pommes 76 while listening to a talented female soloist.

We later grabbed some MIXO gin lavender lemonade to go.

Bill and I meandered around the Silk Mill as he had photographed it when it was still abandoned and later he visited when it was unfinished and hosting a film festival. He marveled at the transformation as the complex came alive with various live entertainment at many of the businesses.

William D. Prystauk

At Ow Wow Cow, I enjoyed the apple caramel cashew and Bill partook in the local peach pie. I do love the early summer flavors, like strawberry rhubarb crumble, but the autumn flavors are delightful, too.

Meanwhile, Tucker and Easton Wine Project spilled over with patrons (more on Tucker here). My experiences with Tucker again stem from the pandemic and using their online grocery service to procure some amazing produce.

I’ve visited Easton Wine Project when a local citizen hosted a fundraiser for ProJeCt of Easton there. I was still in the development office at that nonprofit and Easton Wine Project perfected a classy vibe and delightful vintages.

But there are several new businesses at the Silk Mill that I have yet to try, so this might be the perfect place to have a middle-aged date night.

Stories about cats, cat rescue and health insurance

The pandemic has prompted a lot of discussion about job loss, job growth, and changes in the economy. Other discussions have talked about the impact of various lockdowns and work from home situations on animal welfare, adoption and rescue groups.

** disclaimer: I am not an expert on any of these issues and the following blog post is a collection of my anecdotal experience during my life and in the last year.

In mid-July last year (2020), I lost my job at a small local nonprofit with an operating budget of more than two million dollars annually. My job loss stemmed from my supervisor’s dissatisfaction with my performance after she asked me to move from a job I was extremely good at to a job I had absolutely no experience in. (Forgive these excess prepositions because this experience was so stressful I don’t want to waste time perfecting my grammar because even writing about it gives me great anxiety.)

Around the same time, we had asked Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab for help neutering the two about 9 month old brothers, Misty and Fog, that we had trapped at our neighbor’s house.

Now, during my newspaper layoffs and even when I left other jobs, my health insurance lasted until the end of the month as the premium at been paid. Forgive my snarkiness, but at this particular human services non profit agency, the powers that be (as there is no human resource department or trained human resource professional) cancel your medical benefits on your last day to save money for the agency, because if they dispose of you before the 15th (or so I was told) the insurance agent refunds the monthly premium.

As soon as I learned I was losing my job, I asked my husband (at that point we had been separated for a year) if he could put me on his medical insurance as of August 1. After all, my July premiums had been paid.

So you can imagine my surprise when I was suddenly without medical insurance for two weeks.

Now, from what I understand, COBRA benefits can be purchased retroactively. And our local hospital has a good charity care program.

But still.

So that’s the background. We’re in a global pandemic, I’m unemployed and have $5,000 to my name, no medical benefits, and two male kittens coming of age.

Enter FURR.

When they helped us get low-cost neutering for our “greybies,” we thanked them and I said the fateful words, “I wish I had the money to give a nice donation but I just lost my job. But if you ever need a foster, I’m willing to help.”

Foster cat godmother gave us our first batch of kittens July 31.

Yes, we have been fostering with FURR for a year and a week. Foster cat godmother can’t believe that and says it feels like we’ve been around for an eternity.

Now, if you are one of my friends or a regular reader, you may recall that on August 1, our sassy little black kitten, Hades, bit me as I tried to medicate her infected eyes.

I went to urgent care that day as the finger was growing redder and redder. This was the very first day I had medical benefits and honestly I was scared that they might give me trouble as my insurance had lapsed. Was that fear rational? No. But was in understandable in American society? Hell, yes.

About six a.m. August 2, I went to the ER because the finger had swelled (despite antibiotics) and I could no longer bend it.

On my second day of renewed medical insurance.

I was in the hospital for four days. First time ever, other than during childbirth.

My neighbor— an economics professor at a local community college— and I had the discussion this winter: Who should be responsible for healthcare?

I abhor the idea that this is the domain of the employer. Your access to affordable medical care should not be tied to your job. I believe— even without “socialized medicine” (which I 100% believe in but think certain improvements are attainable without it)— with proper regulation from the government and this system abolished, individuals could find their own health care.

Insurance companies would have to shift their market to individuals instead of employers, and they would have to adapt and market more affordable products but would make their money by attracting as many individuals as they could.

Anyway, the teenager and I were talking about insurance and I was thinking about all of this.

Level unlocked: Bench Press

I have been strength training on and off for the last 20+ years. It definitely makes my muscles easier to manage and allows me to fight the control issues and long range effects of cerebral palsy.

Today I did my first bench press in my session with Dan of Apex Training.

And that’s my first bench press ever.

At other gyms, with other trainers, we never did bench press. At home, I never had the equipment to bench press.

I found it exhilarating— I never realized how much coordination and full body balance a bench press requires. I always thought it was purely upper body.

I can’t wait to do more.

We did various upper body exercises including some newer movements I hadn’t seen before but I am perpetually pleased with Dan’s knowledge. And he has chickens and we share some tastes in food.

Occasionally during the workout, he asked if I could do one more.

I can always do one more.

That isn’t bravado — that’s my mentality for life. That’s how I survive my disability. I have to push my body to do what it needs to do.

My success and “feel good”-edness continued through my work day. I QCed 132 fixes (goal is 130).

I suppose there are two ways to approach life with a disability… One is to do nothing, and give up.

The other is to do one more. And grow stronger.

I chose one more.

Review: With Love From Karen by Marie Killilea

Marie Killilea, mother of Karen Killilea and champion for research and improvement in medical treatment for those with cerebral palsy, wrote two memoirs and a children’s book about her daughter. She also wrote another book— though I don’t know the content of that one.

I’m puzzled by the title of this second memoir, as it refers to Karen’s correspondence with some American service men during the Korean War.

But the book focuses not on Karen, nor that correspondence, but family. The text itself is more beautiful and structured like a novel. Members of the family are cast with richness, though I think sometimes “Big Marie” (the author as her first born daughter is also Marie) gives the various pets in the household more literary attention than Karen.

Marie says she wrote the book in response to the huge volume of mail she received asking what happened next.

The second memoir focuses on all the children growing up, struggling with their futures and leaving home. Well, except for Karen, who, at least until she started showing Newfoundlands in dog shows, just exists in the background doing her physical therapy and for more than a year carries some unknown demon that she is wrestling and the family just lets her sulk. For a year.

The older children get married. A seven year quest for an annulment is chronicled. And elder Marie Killilea’s long-awaited miracle baby is conceived when she is 43. And then she is confined to bed.

Karen’s triumph is learning to put her own shoes and stockings on.

And in the end of the book — Karen reveals the source of her depression and her decision on how to approach her “freedom.”

I’m so disappointed not to know what happened to Karen. Remember Karen? I thought this was a book about Karen, not her damn dogs, the 80-year-old obstetrician, or what a holy Catholic family and their brood looks like.

Disability Pride Month

This is part of a continuing serious about my journey even though I am more than midway through my 40s to understand my disability—cerebral palsy— after a lifetime of pretending it doesn’t exist

Since the teenager subscribed to the family plan of Spotify, my horizons have expanded.

I’ve found so many more podcasts, playlists and music than my 40-something brain can handle. But this allows me to learn new things.

For instance, that July is Disability Pride Month, but not Disability Awareness Month. And there is a Cerebral Palsy Day in October.

Disability Pride month started in 1990 to celebrate the updates to legislation mandating accessibility for those with special needs. And it even has a flag— black with rainbow zig zigs like a child’s depiction of lightning bolts.

How can you be proud of a disability? That sounds like it is anthropomorphizing the disability. Like it has a life. It does something.

I’m not proud of my disability. And I’m not proud to have it. It’s embarrassing and frustrating and, as I mentioned in my review of Netflix’s Special (read it here), when you have a mild disability people can’t see the depth of your struggles.

But I am proud that I get my ass out of bed every morning and do what has to be done.

And for the record, today is a hard day.

And one action I took, although small, I feel is mighty. I added a disability category on this blog and I organized it under the parent category “fitness.”

I started opening old posts and adding the tag, but I had to go get my second Covid shot (Pfizer) and then my neighbor accidentally cut the cable wires so now we have no internet.

And on our phones, the teenager and I share three gigs of cellular data. #singlemom

Anyway, no amount of stretching made my body relax. My back and lower limbs throbbed most of the day. And then after the Covid shot, my arm slowly got heavier and more sore. Now I hate to lift it.

The person who gave me the shot told me to use the arm and drink lots of water. I worked in women’s returns processing at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy where I opened and hung clothes from more than 100 priority mail envelopes. More than 500 items.

The warehouse was probably 90+ degrees but thankfully not too humid.

When I have these days, I tend to bend by doing lunges (to stretch my body and redistribute my weight), do calf raises in place, stand on one foot, and try to stretch my hips and back as much as possible.

But still the pain level seemed to keep increasing.

So in the car I turned on the heated seat and blasted the air conditioning while drinking some cucumber flavored water.

And took two Tylenol PM to ease the pain enough to sleep.

Funny part is— yeah as if it is funny— I don’t think it’s my cerebral palsy causing the pain. My period is due in four days. I think it’s menstrual cramps.

Everything wrong with my body seems to start in my lower back and hips. Hell, my daughter came into this world through back labor. Is that focus on my back part of the CP?

I used to take a lot of ibuprofen, then Aleve, then meloxicam. After a while, I realized. None of it helped.

I was listening to Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert last night and they did a special episode on medical misinformation. They had some pretty rough feelings toward chiropractors. They pointed out that chiropractors can be good or bad, but that the field itself isn’t very regulated or science-based. They turned the conversation to physical therapists. They liked physical therapists.

What about chiropractors who have a physical therapy background? My chiropractor can find muscle tension and stretch out things I didn’t even know I had. And my body seized up from being crooked and she straightens it out.

I guess I have a good one.

Progression: A Discussion of Finding the Resources to Grow

I may have said this before, but even if I have it’s a message that can be said again: I am blessed to have a talented and caring medical team. In addition to this team, I have also been harvesting resources for my physical and mental help.

I am recording this week’s journey so others might consider different ways to find their own resources.

On Monday, the teenager resumed therapy with a new therapist who attended Moravian College at the same time I did and is loosely a friend of my traveling companion M.

I asked if she was comfortable treating my daughter, because we have circulated in similar arenas in the past and my 17-year-old daughter struggles to connect with therapists who work with teens and is too young for a therapist who treats adults.

From what I knew of her personality from the few interactions we’ve had over the years and the information on her web site my gut said she would be a good fit for the teen.

And in my teen’s eyes, I was right.

My daughter is far from a troubled teen, but she has two parents with disabilities, a mother with trauma in her background and an extended family history of addiction.

Her strong empathy and witchy powers can make her experience of the world intense. (Speaking of which— I gave her my tarot cards on her birthday and she cried. I knew she would understand the significance of the gesture but I didn’t expect her to get so overwhelmed she cried.)

On Monday and Tuesday, my work performance wouldn’t crack 88%. I was frustrated and in pain and just moving slowly. After mapping my pain patterns for years, I can say that my back pain is worst when I ovulate and when I menstruate.

Wednesday was, as mentioned in other posts, the teenager’s 17th birthday. I had a tele-appointment with my therapist of about 12 years. Coincidentally I discovered his birthday is the same as my daughter’s. That’s just another reason we get along.

It’s fun to have a professional in your life for a long time like this because I get to see his practice grow and develop, sometimes in parallel to my own life.

I recently took the ACE Childhood Trauma test, which gave me a different outlook on some of my experiences. My parents did the best they could, but they had their flaws and their own battles to fight. So between their own struggles and life events they couldn’t control, stuff happened.

I can’t explain why it’s time to face some of this now, but that’s the way things go sometimes. We all come to certain aspects of self awareness in our own time.

On Thursday, I visited my beloved chiropractor, Nicole Jensen at Back in Line, who leveled things out, told me I was stressed and talked with me about different physical therapy stretches I need to do to fight the pain. We both agree that the pattern of pain increases on those certain days in my menstrual cycle.

I came home and ate cake and ice cream for breakfast. Not the best decision as I have been 20 lbs overweight for a year.

I suddenly remembered that Stitch Fix offers employees access to the Ginger Mental Health app. So I made an appointment for an initial consultation for Friday.

My hope was to use Ginger’s coaching to set goals and recreate/spur my discipline and good habits regarding food and exercise. For instance, I haven’t lifted a barbell in a year. I miss strength training. I still think I could be an excellent body builder.

My Ginger coach is Kathryn, who has a master’s degree in social work. Our session, completely done over text, seemed to be two sessions in one.

The first hour, she asked basic questions about me. The second hour we set up a plan of the topics we’d like to address. This week we will start making and implementing goals. It doesn’t always feel like talking to a human, though the occasional grammar or spelling error reassures me that it is a person on the other end.

Some of her thoughts include: “Sounds like a great idea! So in your case, a plan I might suggest would be to start by addressing your feelings of stress, [being] overwhelm[ed], and lack of motivation by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, which can help bring some relief from challenging emotions and help you see more clearly how your thoughts and emotions are impacting your behaviors so that you can feel more grounded, intentional, and comfortable being yourself. This can also include exercises centered around relaxation techniques, positive distractions, mindful awareness, developing awareness of triggers (when feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed, taking time to notice what the root cause is and look for a pattern), pattern recognition, scheduling and time management, and identifying and building on your current strengths and resources. We can also discuss accountability/working with providers (i.e. therapist and coach) and explore sleep/exercise/diet as needed.”

A lot of that feels copied and pasted, but it’s okay in my opinion. Sometimes just having someone help you pick a direction or even commit to a new direction can be the change you need.

Also on Friday, our dog F. Bean Barker got spayed at Canyon River Run, a vet we really love.

On Friday night, I learned a new work center at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy— style carding. My colleagues cheered me on in learning this new role and I very much enjoyed it, even when my computer monitor broke and I had to use a computer on another line and lean way over to grab my boxes.

Basically, the associates who “style card,” grab all the completed fixes that come off the QC line and use the packing slip to print a style card that includes a personal note from the stylist and lists each piece in the fix and offers examples of how it can be worn.

Working with anywhere from 6-8 fixes at a time, the “style carder” folds the packing slip and style card and places them into an envelope before returning them to the box.

A quick check that the box is correctly wrapped and the style carder lines up the boxes and shoots them down the table onto a metal conveyer line operated by sensors. This takes the boxes to “OB1” or the outbound/shipping department which inserts the return envelope, tapes the box shut and prepares the boxes for mail pickup.

The pickers assemble 920 items a shift, which breaks down to 184 fixes. Each QC associate folds and packages 130 fixes a shift, each style card associate aims for 900 fixes a shift, and the Bizzy Hizzy itself ships about 6,000 fixes a day.

During this time, our tasks are fairly simple, automated and monotonous so we are allowed to listen to podcasts or music. I’ve used the time to explore a lot of topics via podcasts on Spotify.

Spotify is still a new platform for me and it’s slowly gaining exclusive proprietary rights to a lot of the podcasts I listen to. I heard on several news broadcasts that Spotify paid 60 million for Alex Cooper’s “Call her Daddy” where she talks about sex often with an emphasis on blow jobs.

I listen to her because she has some funny stories of the ridiculous escapades she has had: dating a professional athlete, offering blow jobs as a way to sneak into sporting events, etc. But she also sometimes interviews people— like a retired Playboy bunny who left the Mansion and points out the realities of such sexual exploitation. Alex can be really insightful but she also can misuse her vocal range to try and make the podcast more interesting to listen to and that hurts me ears.

In addition to Kristen Bell, Dax Shepherd, Mayim Bialik, and Conan O’Brien (and in addition to the news and fashion), I searched for cerebral palsy podcasts. From TheMighty.com, I learned that the name “cerebral palsy” is an umbrella term for several brain-related disorders. And I don’t really know anything about which CP I have.

I learned CP can interfere with the neurotransmitter GABA which is why our muscles and our brains don’t communicate effectively. I learned that muscles that don’t get used correctly and don’t get the right messages can stiffen and become spastic. This causes pain and lack of control.

The two main classification differences I have heard are hemiplegia and quadriplegia which you may recognize from the words paraplegic and quadriplegic. These terms explain the parts of the brain/body affected. I would assume I have mild hemiplegic CP, as I think it only affects my lower body. But sometimes I think I see it in my hands so I don’t know. And I think I am low spasticity as I seem to have fairly good muscle control for someone with this disorder.

But I don’t know. So I did what I like to do, on Saturday, I called Nan. If you don’t know Nan from this blog, she is often my partner in crime. She has been blind since birth. Like me, we were raised in able-bodied families and never knew life any other way.

Nan is older than I and, despite her disability, has lived independently for most of her life. She attended college. She married. She has a hobby writing career and attends poetry open mics. She was a teenager when NASA put a man on the moon, but despite having never seen the moon, she has been fascinated and following the advances of NASA ever since.

Nan is closer to my aunt’s generation than mine. My aunt has what would now be referred to as developmental delay, but what was called the now insensitive term “mental retardation” in her day. In school, she didn’t learn what the other kids learned. She had basic reading skills and could add and subtract but never learned to multiply or divide. I know because we used to play school, except I really taught her things.

My aunt, then a few years later Nan, and even a few more years later me, we were all part of 20th centuries advances. Medicine had found ways to help us survive, but technology and society had not discovered ways to help us thrive.

None of us have thick medical files that detail the specifics of what is wrong with us. You were thrown into the mainstream to sink or swim. And if you couldn’t swim, you were institutionalized or kept home. Therefore, families didn’t talk about disability as much as they pushed functionality— they urged us to act as normal as possible and pretend the differences about us were not even noticeable.

I mentioned some of this to my primary care physician when I transferred to his practice more than a decade ago (some friends and my therapist recommended him). At that time he guided me to specialists to explain what is wrong with my specific body, but I am realizing now that he might not know that I know nothing about what my disorder is.

So, also on Saturday, I emailed my doctor. I asked him to help me find someone who can talk to me about cerebral palsy. I know children with the disability in today’s world work with a pediatric neurologist.

And it hasn’t all been work and reflection. My daughter and I got mani/pedis for her birthday/upcoming trip to Cape May. It was our last appointment with “Nails by Bethy” at Hyperion Salon. Beth has a new full time career that should offer her more stability and room for advancement.

We met Beth 12 years ago on the same date she ended her nail career. And the teenager and I got to be her final clients.

And yesterday I tried the new strawberry popping bubbles at Dunkin. I had them in an iced matcha latte. I must say, this is the best matcha latte I ever had at Dunkin but the bubbles had such an artificial strawberry flavor it tasted like someone poured chunks of jello in my drink.

If Dunkin’ wants to capitalize on the boba trend they should stick to normal tapioca.