Spider-Man and Matcha Pie

I have a lot of little things to say that problem don’t belong together but today is the Lehigh Valley Book Festival at Bethlehem Area Public Library and I’m excited, a tad nervous and a bit super-focused and scatter-brained at the same time.

Parisian Phoenix Publishing has participated in events before but we have scaled up with our efforts and this event today.

So this post will cover:

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Health and Fitness
  • Pie
  • Cats

I think that’s about right.

So the teenager and I finally came to the current end of the Marvel Comics Universe movies with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Watching them sequentially, and for me, many for the first time, actually made a lot more sense than when I saw some of them the first time.

I got a strange déjà vu that I had seen some of these villains before, but at the same time I was confused because the memory was vague and distant.

So let’s just say, trying not to spoil it for others like me that are woefully behind in their pip culture, that this film incorporates some older films that will be familiar to Generation X.

The primary theme of this movie, in my opinion, is time travel. The actual plot is a tad weak and melodramatic but the homage made to the previous generation of Marvel movies, and the humor employed in this movie, make it worth it.

My favorite Spider-Man is Toby Maguire. I got to see him again. And that made my heart happy. (Toby is also the Spider-Man adored and referenced by supermodel Adelaide Pitney in my chick lit/horror fiction novel, Manipulations, the first in the Fashion and Fiends series.

I had a very good visit with my chiropractor Nicole Jensen of Back in Line. She’s impressed with my progress and got things to pop and move (my right ankle that I broke more than five years ago) that haven’t popped and moved in a long time.

My Later, Andrew at Apex Training worked out every muscle he didn’t the day before (okay that’s an exaggeration) and the teenager set a new personal record in deadlifting: 225 lbs.

Finally, I get to the part I’ve been waiting for: PIE! If only I weren’t trying to be so health conscious… Because I have been visiting the amazing pie ladies Anne and Lisa at Pie+Tart for three(?) years now and their pies (and flat white coffees) have nurtured my soul through some difficult times— and a very very toxically difficult boss.

I receive their weekly email and saw their “freezer section” of leftover discounted pies included a steak and Guinness pie and a matcha custard pie. A meal inspired by two of my favorite drinks.

I was so beyond excited to eat these pies I was vibrating at “the pie hole” which is what they call their window/doorway. It has allowed them to stay in business safely during Covid because how would we survive sans pie.

I can improvise plenty of solutions for lack of toilet paper but I can’t make pie like this— not even with my Pennsylvania Dutch family connections.

I couldn’t even wait for the matcha custard to thaw. I sawed at it with a knife, broke it in pieces with my hands and microwaved a slice for 30 seconds. It was delectable.

And the steak and Guinness pie? So rich and full of meaty goodness I didn’t even have a chance to take a photo.

Oh how I love my pie friends.

And finally the updates regarding some of the cats we are fostering through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, Mars has taught Khloe to play and Minerva is becoming much more social. As is Louise.

Little wins

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.

Rebuilding

My blog entry Monday focused heavily on the decline of my mental and physical health— and how I attributed that decline to the death of my father on December 15 (three weeks ago today) and the stress that has put upon me, my family, and my routine. I also think I may have had a bout with Omicron pre-Christmas which may be part of why my body cannot seem to get appropriate physical rest.

I shared these things because these tribulations are key for the story arc; success and overcoming mean nothing without context.

And if you are someone fighting with similar discombobulation, you might find comfort in my words.

That post is here.

The last few days the pain in my spine has been increasing and my control over my legs is lessening. To walk requires more concentration and effort than I am used to. According to my iPhone, my walking symmetry was a mess yesterday morning. And now today, as temperatures plummet, my right knee has shooting pain.

I am guessing— and purely guessing— that my stress level is exacerbating the spasticity in my lower limbs making legs that can’t relax even more tense.

I haven’t been eating right, and with the lack of good food, I don’t take my vitamins. And when I do eat enough to take my vitamins… Well, I may have eaten half a Hawaiian Luau deep dish pizza from Little Caesar’s.

I cried with my psychologist yesterday in a long-awaited therapy session where he had to recount to me all my strengths while simultaneously making me laugh.

But this gave me the courage to call out sick from work today, sleep in and start the day with my Yoga cobra pose physical therapy sessions (and then take a much needed shower).

In waking up slowly, I had the opportunity to gently force my lower limbs into motion. Walking feels a little more natural.

I had a chiropractor appointment scheduled for Friday and they literally just called today to see if I’d rather come in today. They say it is due to the threat of inclement weather but I think they read my mind.

My last chiropractor appointment was at least two weeks ago, because of the holidays, and I wonder if something might be pressing on a nerve since my right quad is burning again.

And still no work from the physiatrist about securing an appointment or the neurologist about whether my insurance will allow my CT scan.

In other news, Hungryroot gave me a $96 credit for the box that arrived late, less than cold and covered with chemical goo. I didn’t anticipate an issue with them and I had already gone ahead and ordered a new box which arrives tomorrow.

My timid tripod foster cat Louise still insists on cuddling me whenever I am in or on my bed. This upsets foster cat Khloe who likes to believe she is my favorite.

And the dog, F. Bean Barker, ate some more of my furniture.

And I’m starting to think my cat fostering peer might be the only one keeping up with my Fashion and Fiends series as she posted a review on Amazon recently.

The teenager submitted a photo of her and her grandfather for the high school yearbook baby photos. This photo was taken at the West End Fair where my dad was participating in a tractor pull. It was the first major outing I undertook with the baby by myself.

Nan will be coming over soon so we can do some more work on Not an Able Bodied White Man with Money. Which we will do over turkey bacon and omelets.

Let’s hope the next few days bring my body and my mind some relief.

The Kit and Kaboodle Update

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.

  1. It’s hard to break a habit.
  2. 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?

Fosters: Touch of Grey, Mars and Minerva. Information on how to adopt them at http://www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.

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.

Random photo of Nala the Goffin with foster cat Touch of Grey

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.

Sometimes you need to unleash the beast

I hope this weekend to partake in some fun activities and lighthearted blog posts, but I also need to do some administrative work for my publishing company, Parisian Phoenix Publishing.

My second novel in the Fashion and Fiends series, Courting Apparitions, releases officially November 29 (my co-founder’s birthday) and could possibly be available Black Friday. Like, damn, when did that happen?

The first book, Manipulations, is available at all the usual places online— for instance here is the link to buy it at Barnes and Noble.

My friend and fellow writer William Prystauk of the Kink Noir series and horror website Crash Palace Productions left me a truly wonderful review on Amazon and Google.

See more here.

This was my original post on his first novel, Bloodletting. Hard to believe it’s been three years.

Buy his books on Amazon.

On everyday life and health front, I went to the chiropractor yesterday and like my doctor she approved of my new technique of changing work tables to try and even out my sides. I stopped at the pharmacy and picked up my prescription for muscle relaxer. I also made my last Purple Carrot meal in the fridge: mango glazed roasted vegetables with tahini butter.

Worked went mediocre/well. The night seemed long and boring and I felt like I was getting used to my body again after the chiropractor. I QCed at about 83%.

I came home and several cats were waiting for me— including Minerva, a sweet foster who started in our second foster litter of kittens, The Roman Pride.

I took a muscle relaxer to see how it impacted my pain and my morning stiffness. It didn’t make me loopy and I think it helped with my tossing and turning.

I only got six and a half hours of sleep last night, but still managed to meet up with the teenager my trainer Dan at Apex Training to lift some weights. I felt so much more limber after. The teenager easily did 105 on the barbell deadlift and 95 on the squat. I could lift the 105 but not execute the lift. My squat form is still adjusted for my limited range of motion in my lower body so I maxed out at 85 while the teen hardly had to put any effort into it.

We came home and shared some Little Caesars pizza as I was craving their “pizza and sticks” pie. We even shared with the dog.

FURR cat update and review of Richmond Farm & Brewery

#1

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.

#2

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, I was 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.

Richmond Burger

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.

And the flight?

Not a “bad beer” on it.

For the full beer list, click here.

My flight included:

  • 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.

For more on the brewery, visit their website here.

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.

Chasing a dream in the autumn chill

Sometimes, as members of the human race, we have days that are full of delights from sun-up to sundown. Those days are rare, but often involve a leisurely day with the family, a vacation or a holiday.

Then there are days that are good despite— or perhaps because of — their imperfections and today was one of those days.

Maybe today was my “bones day” after all. If you don’t get the reference, it’s a prognosticating pug on TikTok (read more here).

I was originally going to blog this on the Parisian Phoenix website, but I thought I could be more honest and personal here. So here I am.

I came home from work in a lot of pain last night. I achieved 90% in my work metrics and came home, once again, in the kind of pain that leaves me crying and nauseous. Part of a marker for bad pain for me is if the pain interferes with my sleep and/or does not dissipate by morning.

I did not sleep well and I woke in pain.

But, I got up, got dressed, combed my hair and put on makeup. Because today was the Easton Book Festival. It might have been cold and rainy, but I was putting my best foot forward, even if the discomfort made it hard to put a shoe on that foot.

Now, here’s the thing.

Easton has been a part of my life for more than 25 years. Even now, I live very close to Easton. I can walk there.

Book and Puppet Company has been a part of our lives for quite some time. The teenager’s father connected with the owners of the independent bookstore. The teenager had a career as a contained character there.

Andy Laties of Book and Puppet founded the Easton Book Festival three years ago. I even appeared in the original “Read a Book” video— and they also featured a Muslim student in hijab outside the literacy center at my last non-profit job in development at ProJeCt of Easton.

My supervisor there quickly forgot the things I did well, like that placement and our involvement in the Easton Downtown Association scarecrow competition, in which they still participate. But I digress.

The teenager’s father now serves on the board of the Easton Book Festival, so when they organized a local author’s event, he invited me.

One month into Parisian Phoenix’s launch and I have a promotional spot. I didn’t sell enough books to pay for the small expenses of the event: parking, coffee, book printing (but hey, I would have needed those anyway), and the copy of the inaugural issue of the Lehigh Valley Literary Magazine I bought. And an overpriced breakfast.

But one person not only bought my book, but also came back specifically to hear me read. So that was touching.

I read a scene from the sequel to MANIPULATIONS, COURTING APPARITIONS where the villain performs a magical ritual in downtown Easton.

It was my first “reading out” in years!

I kept it very brief, because some others had run long and we were all tired.

Until the YouTube video drops— you should be able to view the Facebook live here.

I had intended to join the teenager’s father at one of the last poetry events of the festival, but I was frozen so I came home instead.

My neighbor, aka Sobaka’s mom, has now formally joined the Parisian Phoenix team as a proofread. She says we need to talk about chapters 1 & 2 of COURTING APPARITIONS tomorrow.

The teenager’s father received the copyright for his upcoming poetry chapbook so that could be going to press in a few weeks.

And tomorrow I hope to make applesauce, post some new material from Rachel Thompson on the Parisian Phoenix blog, and start typing Maryann Stephanie Ignatz’s material.

I even got to have dinner at my favorite diner with my neighbor to celebrate Jan’s official status as part of the Parisian Phoenix team.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally some good luck.

But PS— the popcorn was stale and nasty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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