It’s Wednesday night— which is my Friday! The Bizzy Hizzy has been a tizzy of Covid cases during this mandatory overtime week.
I’m doing my eight hours of overtime on Saturday.
Tomorrow I’m returning to the gym—the pandemic has also altered my training schedule.
And tomorrow, Georgie gets adopted! Yes, Georgie, our lovable former community cat from downtown Allentown, will be going home to a family where she will be the only pet.
I’m told Louise has an approved adoption application— but this is her third so I am not as optimistic as I should be. The person who applied for her wants two cats so FURR has suggested Khloe also be considered.
If these three cats get adopted— after Danu, Brigid and Aîné all getting adopted since December— I may weep tears of joy.
This week my body experienced all sorts of aches and pains, but I still managed to fold what I felt was a respectable amount of clothes for Stitch Fix. And today was our monthly employee luncheon— chicken Caesar wraps, tomato soup and carrot cake.
And on our final break of the day, everyone from my old shift got sweatshirts.
It’s kinda silly, but at the same token, it commemorates a special era of my life and celebrates the camaraderie we had on second shift. And believe it or not, even though we are scattered among the day shift, we still function as a team.
After work, the teenager invited me to Tic Toc family restaurant where we enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches.
Ingram finally shipped Darrell Parry’s poetry book (Twists: Gathered Ephemera). And several other Parisian Phoenix titles are coming together. Perhaps as many as three titles releasing before the end of February.
Speaking of Parisian Phoenix, I emailed my class correspondent at Lafayette College and he ordered my first two novels.
And finally, side note… Actor Tim Daly was on the most recent episode of the podcast Hypocondriactor. I love Tim Daly. And I found myself comparing him to Anthony Stewart Head, you know… Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I was specifically comparing Daly’s character on Madame Secretary to Head’s role as the school librarian/watcher on Buffy. Both were nerdy academics with interests in obscure topics.
The teenager graduates from high school this spring. My baby is graduating in 2022. My baby.
It’s been a good start to the year.
My great grandmother was born January 1, 1900. So every year I think to myself that my great grandmother would be X years old. 122. She died in the 1990s.
I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and cuddled cats until 6ish. And believe it or not, I had a cup of coffee and starting doing chores— dishes, meal planning, updating the wall calendar.
The teenager came home from work around 9 a.m. She and her dad brought my favorite coffee, café con leche, and a Sizzli: pork roll, egg and cheese on a bagel. I have wanted to try the pork roll Sizzli for a while and it was delicious. 19 grams of protein and 400 calories.
The teenager and I went to the gym, where we goofed around during the official Boot Camp class. She loaded 188 pounds onto the leg press! When Boot Camp was under control, we started barbell squats and then Romanian deadlifts.
The teenager squatted 135 pounds! I made it to 115, but I wasn’t comfortable attempting 135. It’s too close to my body weight.
I love to watch her lift.
Then, I went to get Nan as we were scheduled to work. After we finished her writing, I prepared a chicken bone-broth soup and a cheese and pierogie casserole. My Hungryroot is stuck in transit so I rooted through my pantry to see what I could prepare. I had a long overtime shift yesterday and don’t want to spend my day off grocery shopping.
And then we starting reading the upcoming Parisian Phoenix anthology, Not An Able-Bodied White Man with Money. And meanwhile Joan is shooting more photos for Trapped.
I have received several beautiful messages today— from current and former colleagues at work, strangers on my blog, and my psychologist.
And another good thing— I got to laugh heartily with my daughter. Mostly at the expense of her dog.
And this is Bean trying to make friends with Khloe. Video
** P.S. I haven’t done my Cobra pose physical therapy. My spine is hurting. Is this why?
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.
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.
This new work week is certainly moving quickly although each day I come home more exhausted. I’m hurting more once I get home, but I’m fine for the first 9+ hours of my shift. If you don’t know what I’m talking about read these:
The teenager kept my car as the last two of our fosters who needed to be spayed went to Canyon River Run today. That would be Mama Danu and her tabby kitten Baile from the Celtic Pride.
She hoped to bake cookies for the platters Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab plans to distribute to the many vets who assist the organization. Her eighth grade boyfriend came over to lend a helping hand so she also taught him to make bread.
Meanwhile I just kept dreaming of an iced cold Coke Zero. And an interesting thing happened — I got to work and there was a 4-pack of 20-ounce Coke Zero bottles with a post-it note declaring them free.
I brought them home. My guess is someone didn’t realize Coke Zero had been relabeled in the same red as classic Coke.
Which my metrics tanked by the end of the day which had me chugging this at 3 p.m. break.
My 4 p.m., I was trembling and about to cry. Do. Not. Repeat.
I treated the teenager to dinner at Tic Toc so she could get her last pay check. We both ate too much.
I did my physical therapy exercises and took a hot shower. By the end of the shower my right leg was very uncomfortable so I took a low dose muscle relaxer and covered my leg, knee and back with CBD Medic’s Arthritis Cream.
One more day.
So now, as promised, let me offer some thoughts on podcasts. The teenager and I compared notes on our Spotify end-of-year wrap up and she thought she was impressive with 17,000 minutes since we started using the service in mid-year. I have 88,000+.
MY FAVORITE PODCASTS I LISTENED TO SO FAR THIS WEEK:
This one surprises me. The Ellen Fisher Podcast. She’s a very interesting person with her journey to raise her own food in Hawaii with her brood of plant-based kids and interest in all things calm and positive. I don’t really don’t know how I feel about her podcast — but I recently listened to her episode on Mind Change. It was an interesting discussion of neuroscience facts blended with alternative healing techniques to deal with personal trauma to heal the body of disease and mental illness. The guests on the show discuss their experience that illness, whether physical or mental, is the body manifesting trauma that the person has refused to acknowledge and heal.
The Daily. I often force myself to listen to the Daily even when the topics don’t interest me. This week I found myself pleasantly surprised by their coverage of Stephen Sondheim’s death.
Snacks Daily. Snacks Daily is a brief podcast from Robin Hood, yes the investment folks. It’s an economic summary of course, but it also provides humor and the business side of the news.
I finished Sh**hole Countries by Radiotopia. The American host on that show grapples with the possibility that her Ghanaian parents want her to move to Ghana. Enjoyable but also not what I expected. The host uses much of her platform to talk about her queerness and human rights.
The Shit No One Tells You About Writing. Very useful and broad tips about writing, critiquing and publishing.
Africa Daily just did a good episode on fistula. I found that a surprising topic. I’m impressed. (Though they did not mention the prevalence of female genital cutting and its impact on the rate of fistula.)
Other notables: Power Hugh Hefner, American Scandal The Lewinsky Affair, Operator, Against the Odds Rock Climbers Abducted.
So, as a former journalist, I could easily write a summary of every day like a nice newspaper column and post it. I could probably even manage to maintain my sense of humor, style, and tendency to find joy in the ridiculously ordinary.
But this week, every word I wrote felt repetitious. Or perhaps every word I wanted to write felt like it had been done before.
And maybe it has. Because so much of life goes that way. The same struggles, the same events, and often the same answers. And we repeat the cycle over and over probably for two reasons.
It’s hard to break a habit.
And growth, the kind of change that comes from embracing a lesson, presents its own difficulties.
In today’s blog, I’m going to do a generic update, and I’m honestly not sure if any of this is repeating myself. But do you know what? Repeating myself is okay. This is a small droplet in the vast waters of the internet and there’s always the possibility someone hasn’t heard it before and may need to hear it today.
Are you listening?
All eyes on me.
Topics to come in this entry: Update on my cerebral palsy and quest to end my chronic back pain, weight training with the teenager with Dan at Apex, emotional eating, review of Purple Carrot’s vegan Thanksgiving dinner box, and the requisite animal photos.
This week’s personal training at Apex:
I know I frequently mention how amazing the trainers at Apex are. One of their strengths (weight training pun there) is to recognize the needs of each client and to match the client with the right trainer. I’m obviously not in the whiny white women who primarily want to lose weight category, and that’s how I ended up with Dan. As Dan has the unofficial knowledge of a physical therapist (because he’s had enough accidents to know the patient side of it) and he has the curiosity to read, research and think. With my cerebral palsy this is important. Dan has the observational skill to read my knees and lower body to know if it’s a bodyweight/calisthenics kind of day or a weight training day. And this is important so you can build range of motion and flexibility and not get hurt.
Anyway, Dan has been kind enough to let the teenager join my training sessions. I love throwing weights around but lack the personal discipline to do it on my own this time around. And the teenager has a natural muscle tone and build that makes her perfect for powerlifting. But she hates dumbbells and she hates routine and discipline. So as long as we tell her to go throw around that heavy object she’s fine.
And today she deadlifted 135 lbs as if it weren’t even a challenge. I honestly think she could have done 150 lbs easily.
I think I kept up with her through 115. I only did three at 115 because I was really afraid I would blow out my knees. A deadlift when executed correctly utilizes the lower body, and the weight actually (once I get warmed up) helps me lower my butt in the squatting portion, but since my knees tend to point sharply inward, I have to adjust my stance to compensate. While the main gist of the lift is to pull the weight along the shin and lift into the hips and use the legs to support the weight as the hips straighten and thrust outward with the tightening of the glutes, in my case, I have to force my knees to stay in the proper position facing my toes and not each other.
As I start to lift heavier, the dull ache in my spine is a reminder to lift the weight with my legs and not my back. I place my feet in position, point my toes slightly out and stretch my knees in line with them. And, for lack of a better description, I lock them in place and while lifting the barbell I have to concentrate on keeping my knees from turning inward. Because if they would suddenly snap where they want to be, I could not only blow out a knee but also potentially lose balance.
So I did three.
In related news, physical therapy update:
Yesterday I finally had my physical therapy appointment with the proper physical therapist now that neurology has confirmed that my balance and brain are fine. Much to my pleasant surprise, I had the same physical therapist that treated my initial bouts with back pain three years ago. He was at a different physical therapy office, then, and came recommended by my doctor as the guy who really knew back issues. What makes this a funny but pleasant coincidence is the fact that I chose this physical therapy branch because my blind friend Nancy is going there and I thought we could combine appointments and I could help her with rides.
What did my physical therapist Jeff say? Basically, that I need to do yoga. He has me doing “press-ups” 5 times a day for 10 reps. At least to start this week. Last time I had physical therapy with him, he started me super light and then made the exercises ten times harder when I returned in a week. “Press-ups” are cobra pose in yoga. I used to do yoga daily. It always seems like physical therapists are always telling me to do more of what I already or what I used to do.
Confession time, emotional eating:
My weight is 160lbs. This upsets me greatly. When I had gestational diabetes at six months pregnant I was 169. I was 142 on the day I brought the teenager home from the hospital and 142 for most of her toddler years. When I finally decided I needed to get my weight under control and regain strength after breaking my right hand while working at Target, I lost 30 lbs in 6 weeks. I lost too much weight too quickly and then gained weight while strength training and got ripped. Over the years, I found a set point at 135, where I could maintain muscle but be more relaxed about eating.
But then, my marriage ended. My boss at the job that allowed me to separate from my husband and support myself turned out to be a sociopath. I mean that in the kindest way possible. She was very sweet, and driven, and perfection-oriented but she had no empathy, no flexibility and no patience for any way other than hers. No views allowed other than her beliefs. This led to high blood pressure and I honestly had no energy left to take care of myself. When she fired me, it took six months for unemployment benefits to determine she was in the wrong. The pandemic was underway by then (Summer 2019). I lived on my savings, a total of $4,500, and foodstamps that kicked in three months after I lost my job.
And this was also when I ended up in the hospital for an infected cat bite and took in a second teenager who lived with us for nine months without her parents contributing to her care.
I mention this only because it is why I lost my discipline. Why I stopped caring for myself like I used to. It was easy and fun to go to McDonalds for a $1 Diet Coke and a $1 McChicken. Cheap dinner.
I thought I would turn this around when I started “picking” at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I walked 17,000 steps a night in the warehouse, grabbing clothes. But then I caught Covid-19. And my stamina never bounced back. So now I fold clothes. Which killed my back.
Even though I had a delightful Thanksgiving, with vegan recipes I prepared from Purple Carrot and leftover pie and wine from my in-law’s meal, I “ruined” it by drinking a big glass of wine yesterday with about 1200 calories of Trolli gummy worms. And then I tell myself, “Well, at least they had protein, iron and calcium.”
And finally, the Purple Carrot Box:
I’ve only made about half the box. The rest is still in the fridge.
I made the Purple Carrot “sausage” stuffing, vegan thyme gravy and cranberry sauce. The thyme gravy was better than I expected as I am not a gravy person. I added local granny smith apples and herbs de provence to the stuffing. The stuffing began life as caibatta rolls, root vegetables, and Fieldstone vegetarian sausage. Let me say again, if you haven’t heard it before, that the Fieldstone vegetarian sausages are amazing. The fact that they come wrapped tight in plastic “skin” casings annoys me, but they are very tasty.
Please excuse any typos and attribute them to the beer flight and draft I consumed in celebration of my mother’s birthday at Richmond Farm & Brewery, the almost six month old enterprise of Milissa and Eric Smith, classmates of mine from Bangor Area Senior High School in the grunge era.
I am experiencing a tad bit of melancholy as our bestest FURR foster kittens — Em(inem) and (Slim) Shady, moved into a habitat at Petsmart on Rte 248. If all goes well, someone will fall in love with them and we will never see them again.
So after much organizing of the up-and-coming nonfiction identity-themed anthology for Parisian Phoenix Publishing, Iwas very much anticipating our visit to the brewery.
This was their first weekend indoors. The bar and the tap system are not even installed yet, but the decor and ambiance are perfect. You don’t even notice it’s unfinished.
And frankly, with so much economic uncertainty in the world right now, it’s nice to see business owners moving through the stumbling blocks but still operating.
You can’t recoup time and money invested waiting for everything to magically fall into place.
The renovation of this old barn— well, for this Slate Belt girl it didn’t feel “barny” enough for me. But it all seriousness, it was roomy and gorgeous, rustic but classy. Homey. Warm.
At this time, you order food at one register and beverages at the next. Simple. Expedient.
Milissa greeted us. I had warned her we were coming. I introduced my family and she was kind enough to ask me about my book and congratulate me on it. And she bought a copy for her daughter.
It was heartening to hear that many Bangor classmates are surprising Milissa and Eric by stopping by. Milissa is trying to collect photos of everyone. I tried to impress upon the teenager, since she is a high school senior with a class the size of mine back in the day, that someday she may be surprising her classmates.
In the end, I think Richmond Farm & Brewery did all the necessary impressing.
The food— a small, carefully curated menu— exceeded my expectations. And even though the choices were minimal, I still had trouble deciding and wanted to eat it all.
And I purchased a maple vanilla Porter draft for myself and a flight of six beers for mom and I to try.
Immediately I noticed that the maple vanilla Porter had overwhelming notes of blackstrap molasses. A very different taste than I am accustomed to in my porters, but one I grew to like as I enjoyed my burger with its bacon bourbon jam.
The Mosaic Masterpiece, aptly named, as it was my favorite. I did not read any of the descriptions before trying, but I warned the staff I wasn’t a fan of IPAs and gravitated to the porters and stouts. Many of their beers were not available, but the Mosaic IPA was my top beer of the night and very fruity in the finish.
The Diehly, surprisingly basic but easy to drink. The description refers to it as vibrant and full of unique hops.
The Richmond Pale Ale, my notes referred to it as light on the palate.
The Maple Vanilla Porter, which I arrogantly thought would be my favorite, had strong notes of blackstrap molasses.
Smitty’s Blonde Ale, I found mild but pleasant. Definitely a summery beer.
Extra Pale Zonkey Ale, the web site describes this one as the easiest beer to drink ever. And it is so simple and smooth, it’s very refreshing.
I was disappointed not to try the stranger brews— the shredded wheat ale, the cranberry ale or the gingerbread brown ale brewed with spiced gum drops. Or their cow tail brown ale with chocolate, caramel & coffee notes. Or their more traditional Potbelly Porter.
But, I am so so glad I was forced to try beers I wouldn’t normally pick. I enjoyed all of them, and most of them I wouldn’t have chosen under normal circumstances.
Just another example of how being pushed outside of your comfort zone is good.
As I write this, I am mourning the loss of having finished The Night Shift on Netflix. I am imbibing some generic strawberry lemonade energy drinks strongly laced with too much gin. I am craving potato chips, cuddling my cat Fog, and nursing my injuries from the day.
But perhaps I need to back up…
The photos above summarize my Halloween.
At 11 a.m., we had an appointment for Danu and her babies from the Celtic Pride— Aîné, Baile and Brigid and our newest foster, Georgie, to meet our foster cat godmother for shots, flea treatment, dewormer and microchip and OH MY GOODNESS was Georgie dramatic.
Then the teenager had a commitment to walk in the local Halloween parade and she asked me yesterday to walk with her as she paraded in costume. I will do anything my daughter asks.
And half way through the parade, I fell flat on my face to the collective gasp of the crowd. I rise, keep walking, hip and knee in pain. But I keep going.
I finished the parade. Outside the teenager’s high school. Her father and herself know that the fact that I finished the parade did not mean I was okay as I have been known to do things like walk a Chinese buffet with a broken ankle.
My knee is swollen. I tripped over a mirror late in the day that struck me in the tender parts.
My back hurts.
I am craving potato chips as my body adjusts to the Mirena.
My princess, the male cat I jokingly named Fog, is curled up next to me. He is my baby.
The teenager’s dad came over and they carved pumpkins and I typed some of a manuscript for the identity anthology. We handed out candy and even the dog got to enjoy trick-or-treat.
I ordered Wawa for dinner— the teenager’s favorite ranch Mac and cheese, chicken Caesar salad and pierogie quesadilla and Blizzards from Dairy Queen for dessert.
Tomorrow the teenager is consulting a cleaning woman to take some of the stress off me.
My husband and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary today and, even though we have been separated for two-and-a-half years, we inadvertently spent it together.
My mother celebrated her 67th birthday today, and I postponed her birthday until next week because one of her brothers died on Thursday. The second brother to die of prostate cancer in about a month. And her ex-brother-in-law died last week, too.
The day started strong with the teenager and I killing our workout at Apex Training with Dan. I also ordered an Apex Training hoodie. The teenager and I benched 70lbs on the barbell, and the teen also did some hearty squats.
We signed five cats up for the “come adopt us” event with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. One of them was sweet Khloe. Khloe hid under the blanket with one eye poking out the whole time, until she heard my voice, then she came out. Not bad for a first day out.
So the husband came over to retrieve his car from the teen and do his laundry and assign his ISBN to his poetry manuscript.
He then rewarded us with pizza.
I did some more work for Parisian Phoenix and some more cleaning, and then the teenager asked me to come down to the diner for coffee and my favorite pie.
This morning my legs felt more normal than they have in weeks and everything seemed to be working in coordination. But as the day wore on everything started stiffening up. It was the first time in about a month my right quad wasn’t burning all day.
This is another in a series of posts about trying to learn about my cerebral palsy and improve life in my body in general.
As sometimes happen, I woke in pain. I took two Tylenol PM last night so the pain didn’t keep me awake though my cat kept trying to intimidate one of my fosters so that made the six hours of sleep I got rather restless.
I woke to an alarm at shortly after 8 a.m. as I had to be at a doctor’s appointment at 10:05ish and the office is 20 minutes away.
Today was the rescheduled appointment to get my Mirena IUD that will hopefully reduce my heavy menstrual bleeding and my back pain from menstrual cramps. I had another new-to-me doctor today, and this one had an amazing sense of humor.
She was also the first doctor to ask me, upon hearing I had cerebral palsy, if there was anything she needed to do or be aware of to help me. In my case, the answer is no. But if I had worse issues with my flexibility and lower limbs, this would be a good question.
This is my third IUD, although my first Mirena. So nothing unexpected happened during insertion.
There was a pinch here and there and the doctor told me to take ibuprofen for the initial cramping. And to be prepared for a period that might be weird for the next few months. Every woman reacts differently but I may see my periods lighten or even skip cycles.
I did experience some light cramping and spotting but nothing to require OTC painkillers.
But, once I got to work, my right leg seemed to be impossible to control with my quad and knee burning. My ankles also started to burn. My lower back just throbbed, regardless of whether I was twisting or standing still.
By the end of the night I struggled to reach forward or to lift the pile of clothes.
I only QCed 92 fixes. That’s almost 71% of goal. Now granted tonight we were in the men’s Hizzy for the first time ever. It took me 4.5 minutes to do fixes that in women’s takes less than 3.
And they have such nicely organized work stations with drawers.
While listening to my first podcast of the night— 60 songs that explain the 90s— i discovered that Weird Al donated the profits from “Achy Breaky Song” to the cerebral palsy foundation.
My British colleague asked why I’m not on disability. That made me wonder how bad I must look if she says that to me.
In good news, let me regale you as I drink my last pins colada lemonade gin cocktail, the teenager is very excited about the new soap dispenser she bought.
I did a thing and did a soft launch on a Parisian Phoenix podcast on Spotify. I thought my blind friend, Nancy, would like it.
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 sovain 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.