Festive Friday’s life (and cerebral palsy) updates

My traveling companion M is in town so I stopped very briefly to say hi. He’s staying at a hotel between Sheetz and Wawa, and he’s never been to either, so I have a Pennsylvanian duty to educate him.

His hotel has a few artisanal touches in an otherwise uninteresting and rather lackluster environment.

I received a message from M last night while I was at Barnes & Noble at the Noble Quills poetry open mic where Darrell was featuring. (See YouTube video below.)

My most-exhausting-work week ended with a few lessons. I noticed that no pair of shoes I own will alleviate the foot pain I am experiencing, though experimenting with different tape/toe separator arrangements I can select the type of pain I prefer to experience. With this in mind, I have purchase three different varieties of toe separators from CVS today. ($22 worth of merchandise that I got for $15 and I paid with my HSA debit card.) I achieved 101%, 101%, 94% and 100%.

I had my follow-up with the neurologist-physiatrist today. The Baclofen appears to help my stiffness, and though I do experience a weird jerky stiffness at the end of the day after I sit and then get up, I have not fallen and I seem to move easier. She filled out my accommodations paperwork… so hopefully I will get a share of the easier work. I offered several ideas of how to provide easy accommodations. (I shared the same letter with my doctor and Stitch Fix.) The doctor remarked that my gait had noticeably improved and I think she laughed when I told her I preferred walking in cowboy boots because of the sound and the feel. (She was wearing a mask, so I can’t be sure.) She also seemed to make a quiet noise of approval upon the mention of a service dog.

I had an hour between appointments and in that time, I hung out with The Teenager’s dog (F. Bean Barker). It was Festive Friday at work so I wore my favorite “Fleece Navidad” Christmas sweater.

I then met with my therapist. He was one of three people who served as references for my service dog application and because I mentioned I had a therapist on my medical team, they sent him a psychiatric evaluation to fill out. He wanted to review it with me, because he wasn’t sure of the weight of his role in the whole process. He was much relieved to hear that I had had the in-person interview last week (read more about that here) and that I had received the email an hour earlier stating that my home visit and canine therapeutic evaluation would be scheduled early in the new year.

So I said I would approach the paperwork as if they just wanted to know if I was stable enough to care for myself and the dog.

By the time I returned home from that appointment, the UPS man had left a special package on my doorstep. It was Larry Sceurman’s debut novella, The Death of Big Butch. And some other books from Parisian Phoenix Publishing. As is my custom, I did an unboxing on film.

Buy Parisian Phoenix books from Barnes & Noble here.

The Teenager and I did some chores around the house and loaded up the car with the dog and the books and made deliveries: to the author (where books were signed) and to people anticipating the release. And, because Larry lives near a 7-Eleven, the teenager needed to stop for a Mountain Dew Slurpee.

She happens to have one of her new sweaters on from her latest fix.

And the joy of bringing Larry his books warmed my Grinchy heart.

And watching Larry decide how to sign his books, debating which of his signatures should be his author-specific nomenclature, also had an impact. I’m proud of his book. I’m proud of the product the Parisian Phoenix team made– and I’m told the effort and the quality of the book are more than Larry had ever expected to see from his stories. After all, when he pitched his stories to me, Larry had figured he had a short story anthology to offer the world.

And poor Larry, I told him he had a novella in Big Butch, and still had enough stories for the anthology, and that one of the longer anchor stories in the anthology really should be a full length novel. He’s stuck with me for a while.

Barbara gave us some cut-out cookies. Buttery, not thick not thin, with a lemony or vanilla-y hint of something so scrumptious. Roll-otts as my Pennsylvania Dutch in-laws would say.

Larry and Barbara also gave me a large bag of cat toys, which we gave to foster Khloe for right now. She’s protecting them and sleeping with them like a dragon hoarding treasure.

Maybe I’m naive or egotistical, but I really love the craft model of publishing I’m creating– including my authors in every stage of the process and creating a book we all believe in, from the author to the publisher, the artists to the designer. I never thought publishing could empower, but I’m learning so much that I never realized I wanted to explore. Talents always feel better when you share them.

Do I have the strength to be the lone voice of a group?

Last fall, at work, before we even suspected they were eliminating our shift at the warehouse, our company launched what they called communities to represent and discuss certain voices across our network.

Black Lives Matter, Latinx and women were three of the communities— as was a community for people with disabilities.

I joined the community for employees with disabilities, but at the launch Zoom meeting I noticed everyone either worked in the office or worked from home. And no one represented the warehouses, but me.

The community had meetings during my work shifts, and the emails seemed focused on neurological and psychological diagnoses. And while those conditions are important and probably impact more of our population in the company than physical disabilities.

I had a brief conversation about this with my boss today as I had mentioned this flaw in the communities when one of my colleagues asked the CEO why warehouse associates across the network couldn’t have more on-the-clock time to contribute to the communities.

This same fellow employee— a member of the Black Lives Matter group— launched a series of Lunch and Learns to promote more involvement in these communities.

She came to my work station to ask me to come.

My boss said he would be there to represent Latinx. When I told him I registered, he replied, “sweet.”

But, what I realized in discussing this with him, was that people with disabilities probably don’t apply for jobs in warehouses. Because we’ve been conditioned to believe we can’t or shouldn’t do it.

That’s why we don’t have more representation in the warehouse. So while I want to know what plans the company has to accommodate people of different abilities, the reality is we need to determine what people with disabilities can do in the warehouse without impacting overall productivity.

But the next question is: am I really the best person to represent this issue? Do I have a choice?

CEO and CMO at the Bizzy Hizzy

So last week they made this announcement at work.

The “new” Stitch Fix CEO had scheduled a visit to the Bizzy Hizzy. When founder Katrina Lake stepped down from the CEO position last year, Elizabeth Spaulding replaced her.

Elizabeth has been visiting all of the warehouses in the Stitch Fix network and her visit was the first time a CEO had visited the Bizzy Hizzy since our opening six-plus years ago.

The supervisory team at the Bizzy distributed a Google doc for warehouse associates and leaders to attend a question and answer session with Elizabeth. If we submitted what question we would like to ask, the Bizzy People & Culture office would select some of us to represent our warehouse.

Photo: the email announcing I was selected

I thought to myself, “I was a journalist for 15 years, I can ask a good question.”

I got picked!

In preparation for the CEO’s visit, our managers asked us to wear our Stitch Fix t-shirts. I went one better and also tied my “midnight society” Stitch Fix sweatshirt around my waist. Had to ‘rep’ second shift.

My supervisor and the other members of the Sunday to Wednesday 10-hour shift cohort were excited that I had been chosen, and to my delight, someone else from our cohort was also in the room.

When I arrived for the event, Emily Watts said hello. Emily is the general manager for the Mohnton facility which is Stitch Fix’s manufacturing facility here in Pennsylvania, producing the Mohnton Made clothing line.

My mother-in-law made a career out of garment manufacturing in the Kutztown area, so I’m extra excited to see American made clothing resurface.

Emily was also my store leader at one time at Target #2536. Many of the team members from that store have worked at or currently work at the Bizzy.

When I enter the room I see several small tables, creating the customary U-shape and a head table. There are twelve name plates around the U.

12.

I had no idea this would be so intimate. As we trickle in, I notice one odd thing: there is only one man among us. Everyone else is female. Did the men not read the email? Were they disinterested in the opportunity? Did they ask stupid questions?

Ethnically, age wise, and even ability wise, the room is diverse. There are two of us that I knew had disabilities— myself with my cerebral palsy and my hearing impaired colleague.

Debbie Woloshin and Cherizza Lundy entered the room first, and I had no idea who they were. Debbie plopped down beside me, and filled out her nameplate, while Cherizza did the same on the opposite side of the room in the empty seat there. Elizabeth came in, and seeing no more empty seats in the U, realized that she had to sit at the head table, so the other executives joined her.

I then learned that Cherizza is the head-of-staff and that Debbie is Debbie Woloshin, Stitch Fix’s first ever Chief Marketing Officer. She has an impressive fashion retail resume and such a great vibe. The discussion that resulted lasted almost an hour-and-a-half and I definitely felt like that panel of executives was using the visit to gauge the company’s needs from the bottom up. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think so.

We discussed what could improve the warehouse associates’ experience (growth and development opportunities as simple as peer to peer spreadsheet training and GED programs to more complex items like tuition remission; finding ways to ease childcare and transportation burdens; etc.), future growth of the company (hopes for improving technology, nurturing and expanding the Freestyle and traditional Fix businesses, and future growth of facilities (as existing facilities max out on capacity will we construct mezzanines in existing buildings, open nodes to existing buildings, or move into larger buildings). Certainly none of the discussions came with definitive answers, but you could see that the executive staff was weighing the enthusiasm, concerns and capabilities of the Bizzy Hizzy facility and team.

Well, I don’t think the building had enthusiasm or concerns. And what I also found encouraging was that our team still acted like our team. It didn’t feel like we were putting on airs for the boss.

“…we will do what we can to help and make you feel heard.”

I’ve been with the company now for almost two years, and I still believe that for a warehouse job, it’s a good job. And the company, while a little California ‘crunchy,’ has a good culture. As my original supervisor told me in my interview, “if you leave here upset after a shift, that’s on you. If you have a concern, tell us and we will do what we can to help and make you feel heard.”

Later that night, I sent connection requests to all three women and Cherizza accepted by requested at about 9:30 pm.

I hope all three women had a delightful visit not only to the Bizzy but to the Lehigh Valley in general.

In other odd little updates:

Darrell Lea Australian soft licorice made me very happy. I bought it at CVS, and after my ExtraBucks it was $1.11. I was looking for a candy treat, preferably plant-based that I wouldn’t eat in one sitting. The name sold me. It’s one letter different from my husband’s name. (Yes, I know we’re separated, but we’re not divorced yet so I feel “ex” isn’t right either. And he’s more to me than just the teenager’s father.)

I was extremely stiff yesterday — and when I admitted that to my fitness coach Andrew at Apex Training, he was brutal. Which was mean because I had already worked a full ten-hour shift. We got my heart rate up with ropes, stretched those leg muscles with weights, and did a whole bunch of split squats. I’m not stiff today, and I’m moving a whole lot better.

The teenager tested positive for Covid. Her head “felt funny” and she had post-nasal drip so she feared she might be developing an ear infection. So she went to the doctor. And tested positive for Covid. To combat this news, we ordered pizza from Domino’s and broke out some immune supplement from Target. We got the $20 family deal, which meant we got a pizza for each of us and a two liter of Diet Coke. I chased my immune supplement with a diet and gin. I almost tossed the tablet in the cocktail.

JP and Giorgio

This morning I tossed FURR fosters Jean-Paul Sartre and the random litter (they were named before I got them and have no theme so my naming convention does not apply) onto the sun porch to meet each other and perhaps influence each other. JP needs more socialization with other cats and the Random Litter, as I have christened them, need to learn that they are safe. They should be able to look at JP and realize, “hey, nothing attacked this little moron.” I filmed some videos. They are rather long and boring, but, if you’re patient, you might notice JP stalking our old man tripod Opie and little Dixie/Jenny (her folder was blank so I named her Jennifer Grey so ‘no one could put Baby in the corner,’ and then I saw online that her foster file said her name was Dixie) considering trying the cat door or making friends with my boy Fog.

Jake not from State Farm and other fun chores

The last 48 hours have been chaotic and exciting. On Wednesday night, as I hobbled around like a Barbie doll with her leg half popped out, I received my LLC approval via email in a pdf called “Happy Letter.”

I brought this and my fictitious name registration and my EIN to my banker, Jake, who is not from State Farm.

Turns out I’ve gathered more paperwork than I need. And none of it matches. So in the future I may need an EIN for the LLC as the original EIN lists the business as a partnership and the LLC does not.

Jake not from State Farm enjoyed my enthusiasm for setting up my banking business and shared that his wife is working on a book about parenting autistic children. And how much he enjoys poached eggs.

I had had plans to have breakfast with Nancy, but those plans had to be delayed. I was supposed to pick her up at 9:30 but I told the teenager I would drop her off at school at 9 and I thought I would run to the bank and see if I could open business accounts.

I told Nan if I were on time it meant I had bad luck, and if I were late, it meant I had a business bank account.

So when I called her at 10:30, she was happy for me but it also meant we couldn’t get breakfast potatoes at Wendy’s. We opted for egg sandwiches from Dunkin instead and came back to my house to work.

I made Nan chai, we did her work, and I subscribed to Poets & Writers for the business. Then Nan and I went to Grocery Outlet.

We got some goodies for the upcoming ice storm— which for Nan meant cotton candy grapes, Cherry Coke Zero and cheddar quinoa crisps. I got the sea salt version of the crisps, some creamers, hot dog rolls, monster cereal, raspberries, dates, frozen cauliflower and whipped cream cheese.

Somewhere along the afternoon, Nancy and I laughed ridiculously hard about things I don’t remember. We picked up the teenager from school.

We went to pick up Nan’s laundry. The teenager helped her carry it up to her apartment and as Nan washed and started snacking on her grapes, the teenager and I went to the gym, Apex Training

The teenager achieved a new personal best for barbell squats— 175 pounds.

I managed my lower body workout, which wasn’t easy with my right hip and leg not acting as a team. I feel so weak and still feel out of shape, as if I’m wasting my money, but this morning I found it much smoother to move so maybe I am moving forward.

And then the teenager and I showered and met my stepmother for dinner. We ate at Thai Orchid in Stroudsburg and followed with ice cream at Jimmy’s.

I had a delightful, flavorful tofu in yellow curry and canned Bubble Tea that made the teenager get over her distaste of tapioca.

This morning I wrote a blog entry for Parisian Phoenix and spoke with Ludwig about merchant services. My credit card reader will arrive next week.

F. Bean Barker assisted in the “office.”

And now to share Parisian Phoenix’s post:

Two official big announcements from the Parisian Phoenix universe today: 1. Not an Able-Bodied White Man With Money, the nonfiction anthology of …

Jake not from State Farm

Day 1 in the books

My day started with an unfamiliar alarm at 5 a.m. I haven’t used an alarm to wake up for quite some time, and I’ve noticed recently that the iPhone’s “birdsong” no longer gets my attention. Though it does get the attention of foster cat Khloe and my Goffin cockatoo.

I quickly and silently crept from my room as to not wake said cockatoo. She needs her sleep and the last thing the teenager needs is a grouchy Goffin yelling for me.

I got dressed in the bathroom.

I had even worn my “Monday mood” socks with the coffee on them from my adult days of the week socks, because even though it’s Sunday, it’s Monday to me. I think this new work schedule renders my days of the week socks obsolete.

I went downstairs, made a cup of coffee and while waiting for it to brew, loaded the dishwasher. I had no intention of feeding cats at 5 a.m.

But you can’t sneak with cats around.

Most of them watched me drink my coffee.

I got in the car and discovered the teenager forgot to put gas in it. 85 miles to empty.

I made it to the Bizzy Hizzy by 6:05, greeted by my favorite security guard.

And I was assigned to Stitch Fix Freestyle QC. I stayed there until 3 p.m. so I guess that means I did a whole shift in that department.

The Big Boss of the Warehouse stopped by, I believe around 7:30 a.m. I overheard him ask our supervisor if everyone showed up.

I enjoyed freestyle today. And I really like the break schedule— it makes a 10-hour day feel like an 8-hour day, at least emotionally.

At our first break (8:55 to 9:10), Stitch Fix served us catered breakfast.

Meanwhile, the teenager and her dog hung out with Nala. The Goffin.

My phone would not track my steps today, leaving me to add them manually.

I had a good meeting with my new supervisor and process lead because they wanted to get to know me. And to introduce themselves. And this is one of the corny parts of Stitch Fix corporate culture that I like— they encourage everyone to connect with one another as people not just as cogs in the wheel.

Honestly the rest of the day passed quickly. Just before last break (3:10 to 3:25) I received word that my estranged husband crashed his car.

And after break, I was walking back to my station in women’s returns when I looked at the time clock at 3:27 p.m. — the time I normally clock in.

At 3:45 p.m., we all looked very confused as the loudspeaker walked us through our first stretches of the day.

Around this time, I received a call that Em was probably going to be adopted tonight. This was after hearing that Shady went home with her new family yesterday.

And we looked confused again when the 5 p.m. safety message played as we clocked out.

The teenager drove her father home. We then stopped at Wawa for gas and dinner. I got a black bean bowl with grilled chicken, spinach, carrots, lettuce and I’m not even sure what for sauce.

The first few bites were the best thing I ever tasted, but by the end I was very sick of it.

I ended my night trying to keep Nala the Goffin from attacking Khloe the foster cat.

Hopeful Friday

It’s is almost 3:30 p.m. on a crisp autumn Friday afternoon. I normally would be standing in front of the daily work schedule at the warehouse, but today they offered us voluntary time off. And my body needs it.

I had a chiropractor appointment today, about ten days after my last one. I described my symptoms as a lot of back pain that made basic movements like stretching in front of me to move a pile of clothes from one spot to another very uncomfortable, to my left leg feeling immobile like a tree trunk while my right was very flexible but weak and prone to discomfort.

And she noted that my left hip was stiff and locked in a position out of alignment. And she concurs with my assessment that it’s time to ask my doctor for some x-rays.

She asked what I was doing this weekend as she moved my bones around and I answered I had some work to do for my publishing company and that I have to drop a copy of my novel off at the Mary Meuser Memorial Library, my local public library.

And she thought I meant an overdue library book.

So, I corrected her.

And then she and her staff, the three of them, engaged me in a lively conversation about my book as the bought copies.

I did stop at the library. I did give them a copy. The teenager is appearing in the Wilson Centennial/Halloween parade with the library staff as the library mouse.

Last night, I had an interesting text message from a former colleague who left my last place of employment around the same time the man who hired me also left. She apparently has landed in a much better place, two years later, at a similar nonprofit with a larger service area. She texted me as I was pulling into the parking lot at the Hizzy and asked me if I would consider a position in her office.

I sent her the resume I had on my phone and she talked to her boss on my behalf.

Because I was “awesome” and “under appreciated” at my last nonprofit position.

Regardless of if or when this goes anywhere, it’s always uplifting to see that someone acknowledges who you are and what you have been through.

Another thing that can be frustrating or uplifting, our dog, F. Bean Barker, the black lab, pit bull and mastiff mix

We left work early last night, after shipping about 1900 men’s fixes. I have this equation I work in my head. On nights when they offer us VTO (voluntary time off), I survey the valleys of people doing my job. I count them roughly, using my journalist-surveying the crowd skills, and then I estimate, based on who I see and their skill levels, how many fixes I think we will be able to ship an hour. Then, when the leads call out our progress announcing how many we have shipped or how many we have left, I do the math in my head.

And last night, when they suggested that we could VTO after shipping 1840 fixes, I did my calculation (and gave more extra time since most of us and very inexperienced in men’s fixues) and thought we would be done by 9:30. The leads kept suggesting about 10 p.m. But I trusted my gut. And sure enough, we got the call of VTO at 9:20.

Also today, I have been editing and doing projects for Parisian Phoenix with breaks when my eyes hurt. I use those breaks to clean, because the teenager has booked a consultation with a cleaning lady for Monday. Her idea is if we have someone help me with the vacuuming, dusting, floors, nose-printed windows, and bathroom maintenance that maybe it would be easier for me to survive my bad days and get ahead on so many projects we have.

I did some furniture rearranging and my floor scrubbing and a whole lot of laundry, including I finally took the time to empty the chest on our sun porch and move the “winter things” into the hope chest we brought downstairs to sit under the winter coats on their hooks more than a year ago.

Oz, one of our personal cats, is on my lap while I work today.

After I update my blog and the Parisian Phoenix website with the story of how I accidentally started a podcast, my next task will be to explore the handwritten manuscript that one of our authors prepared for me. I’ve been looking forward to her tale for quite some time, but I don’t have the best typing skills so I have been saving it for a day when I have a nice block of uninterrupted time.

And then, I will rest by folding laundry. And when the teenager returns home from her waitressing gig, we will have tacos for dinner.

Tomorrow FIVE of our Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab fosters are headed to Petsmart for the adoption meet and greet. These babies need homes!

We signed up: Khloe (a four or so year old female grey torbie), Slim Shady and Eminem (the bestest, sweetest kittens ever, Shady is a black female and Em is a grey tabby with white feet, male) and Mars and Minerva, the tuxedo siblings who have been in foster for more than a year.

Building from nothing involves time-consuming baby steps

It is 1:15 a.m. and I worked a full shift in QC at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy where I folded clothes with my quads and knees burning in addition to my lower back/lumbar region.

Sometimes the pain wears me down, grinds at me, gnaws; and other times—like today—it fatigues me but it does not impact my day, a certain resignation comes over me.

So here I am, sipping a beverage, rubbing CBD arthritis cream on my lower body and fretting that I can’t find my coaster.

Barbell Apparel, the company that sold me my #BestStrong Nick Best Strongman “Age is Just a Number” t-shirt just called me an inspiration on Facebook!

In the random Parisian Phoenix Publishing news department:

  • I gave my therapist a copy of my novel, coincidentally author copy #8 which is one of my favorite numbers, and I wrote in it something like, “Thank you for being one of the people who gave me the confidence and courage to publish this.” He was touched by the gesture in a way I did not anticipate.
  • I have been spending several hours a day mapping, drafting, and uploading content to ParisianPhoenix.com. It’s slow going because there are so many branches of this business in my head that I have to translate to the web.
  • Parisian Phoenix now has an official email: ParisianPhoenix@gmail.com.
  • Parisian Phoenix is on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Twitter is the only one where I had to tweak the name, @ParisBirdBooks.
  • I also reached out to some representatives of GLVWG (Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group) about renewing my membership and promoting Parisian Phoenix.
  • I launched the Parisian Phoenix blog.
  • I set the deadline for the identity politics anthology, October 31.
  • I am considering compiling a short book of my own erotic fiction and poetry.

Cupcakes at Midnight: A discussion of future plans for Parisian Phoenix Publishing

Yesterday was the launch day for my novel. At midnight, the teenager and I were celebrating with cocktails and cupcakes.

I have so much hope for Parisian Phoenix Publishing.

It’s too early for me to know how many copies have sold, I don’t expect large numbers as I haven’t really implemented my marketing plan. Our small boutique publisher is a partnership— myself and graphic designer Gayle Hendricks— so the work that needs to be done, we do as we can or we ask for help.

We have lots of ideas, so this first novel may be mine, but part of that stems from my philosophy that before I publish anyone else’s book, I want to learn and grow from lessons made bringing my manuscript into the limelight.

Our Fiction

This novel— Manipulations, the first volume of the Fashion and Fiends series—means a lot to me. I believe it breeds chick lit to horror fiction (think what might have happened if Stephen King wrote The Devil Wears Prada) and uses contemporary literature (and the mythic supernatural) to examine social issues.

Manipulations, at its core, is a book about building healthy relationships. And the proverbial lesson of “things are not always what they appear.” And I hope my readers will understand that magic, in this context, allows us to explore domestic violence.

To order Manipulations:

The next volume, Courting Apparitions, (due out in late November) uses a ghost story to examine grief and depression.

And the next, Recovery, (slated for first quarter 2022) tackles disability, motherhood and women’s rights. But don’t worry, magic is still afoot.

Meanwhile, the fourth, Road Trip, is a coming of age novel. With werewolves. I’d like to release that one on June 23, 2022. The day my baby turns 18. But first I have to finish writing it.

The fifth volume, Absolution, looks at the intersection of sacrifice and love.

And the sixth volume, at least half written at this point, is Finding Hooyo— a hybrid romance novel, medical drama and war story. Hopefully that should tie up the original story line but certainly not the Fashion and Fiends universe.

Our nonfiction

Currently our team of authors and interesting people have several projects in the works.

Sometime in 2022, I hope to revisit a book I wrote as part of my research at Lafayette College. I looked at the anti-Muslim laws in France and traced their roots to 19th century colonial stereotypes and considered the thesis that these laws perpetuate stereotypes that started in Algeria.

My love, as a critical theorist, of post-colonial Francophone Africa stems from my view that French imperialism during the colonial era serves as an amazing parallel to contemporary American imperialism and attitudes towards Muslims.

And now, with identity politics very en vogue, I feel like these lessons in stereotypes and prejudice are very relevant.

Speaking of critical theorists and identity politics, I have assembled a group of authors to discuss various identity issues in a special anthology, currently called: Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money: Expressions of Alternative Perspectives Influenced by Experiences in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

Committed so far is Darrell Parry, poet and writer, and my estranged husband; Eva Parry, otherwise known as “the teenager”; William Prystauk of Crash Palace Productions and the Kink Noir series; Maryann Riker, multimedia artist; Nancy Scott, blind author of essays and poems; Rachel Thompson, science fiction and alternative history writer; Joan Zachary, photographer and writer… and hopefully more.

Racing with them toward the finish line is a cat anthology to use as a fundraising book for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab which will feature cat stories, photos, memoirs of FURR volunteers and academic research on animal welfare, poverty and empowering low-income and diverse neighborhoods to know what resources are available for themselves and their animals.

And with the new “Texas law,” Parisian Phoenix hopes to work with people on the team who have experience in women’s issues and chronicle stories as a fundraiser and historical record for groups in this sector.

Our poetry

Sometime in late fall, Parisian Phoenix hopes to release a full-length poetry manuscript, the poems for which have been assembled and the layout is in process.

I can guarantee this book will be as funny as it is thought provoking.

Our erotica and romance

It’s not quite clear when our erotica and romance will hit the market, but we have authors working to provide stories with real characters facing real life.

In the romance department, we have a manuscript, Trapped, that combines middle-aged love that sparks because of the skunk infestation with the joy of reinventing oneself.

There are hints of a Fashion and Fiends erotic prequel that extends the arousing feel of the horror fiction universe with more sex and no monsters.

And our goal is to offer kink/BDSM erotica, quality stories with empathetic characters who participate in safe, informed and consensual play. We have authors working on those tales, too.


Find Angel Ackerman on WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Follow Parisian Phoenix Publishing on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

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.

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.