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.

A day in the life— medical update, meal plans, sunshine, animals and publishing

I make a lot of lists.

Sometimes my journals are nothing but to do lists and shopping lists. But I like lists— even if I never refer to them again, the act of making a list allows me to stop thinking about things.

If I want to refer to it later, I know where to look, but I no longer have to worry about forgetting as if I want to remember or revisit items from an earlier day I can but I am not staring at a list focusing on what needs to be addressed versus what I actually did.

Many people make lists to receive the satisfaction of checking off the things that are done. I don’t do that. Sometimes I do, but now it’s more like I am acknowledging the list versus trying to conquer it.

I used to finish my list every day or stress over the things I didn’t get to, and on top of that— the list never made me feel better or more in control.

It just exhausted me.

Trapped and the Cover for the Anthology Arrive

Parisian Phoenix’s first contemporary romance has arrived and it looks great. Read more about that here.

But I also received the cover for Not An Able-Bodied White Man with Money, which I will be blogging about on the Parisian Phoenix site this weekend.

And I have a 4 p.m. meeting today with another author who I have been hoping would join our family.

Now if only I could finalize some of our business documents to really move the projects forward.

Yesterday (Voluntary Time Off) and evaluating my health

Life at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy has been odd lately. We’re shipping something like 8,000 fixes a day and having the opportunity for voluntary time off.

Last week, I performed at pretty damn close to 100% without pain or significant mobility issues. This week, issues started mildly during my Sunday shift and deteriorated Monday & Tuesday, leaving me at 80% and crying myself to sleep. I talked about this here.

I’m very much wondering if my menstrual cycle has something to do with it, as the Mirena IUD has done miracles for my pain and issues in that department but has made my cycle irregular. I think my body is trying to menstruate later than usual.

I was taking inventory of my recent balance, mobility and functioning issues as today I had my annual “wellness visit” that the office rescheduled from last week.

I took VTO yesterday to allow myself some rest and some time as life (and grief from my father’s death two months ago) has gotten chaotic and overwhelming.

And I made the teenager and I grilled cheese as I had promised to do, and the child acted like I had prepared filet mignon for her.

I have a feeling I will be repeating that after school today.

We also watched Miranda Sings Live on Netflix. The teenager went through a time when she watched the show, so that was weird. It always amazes me how much talent it takes to perform badly.

The doctor today

I have spent more than a decade assembling a talented and caring medical team, so now I can confidently say any issues with my medical treatment stem from the system and not from my doctors.

The doctor and his resident agreed with my assessment that it’s time for me to get into the physiatrist and that their office will advocate for me on that as well, and that my instincts and approaches are correct.

I learned that women more so than men tend to favor one side when they move or stand. As women age, this tendency can create problems. That means this is a problem normal people have and not just a result of cerebral palsy.

And most interestingly… I learned that women more so than men tend to favor one side when they move or stand. As women age, this tendency to let’s say ‘lean’ can create problems, just like what I am experiencing now with my right hip and right leg/foot. That means this is a problem normal people have and not just a result of cerebral palsy.

I reiterated to them that I do know I need to lose 20 pounds, but that we have some issues to address before that.

The psychology of emotional and physical pain

When I was turning 40, I embarked on a journey to lose five pounds and gain muscle. I inadvertently lost 30 lbs and ended up a skeleton and regained some weight to look like this:

That was about 30 pounds ago. I have no need to be that lean again, but I’d really like to see 135 lbs again— which means I need to lose 20 lbs.

I told my doctor and his resident— I know I can’t eat an entire bag of cheese puffs or Wawa bowl of mac and cheese and brisket after dinner. But I’m struggling with depression from my body pain and my father’s unexpected death.

I’m grateful I haven’t turned to alcohol like many in my family, but I have “given in” to food as a psychological crutch.

I pay almost $300 a month for a personal trainer, but I can’t work as hard as I want to because I hurt and I feel like I need answers as to how to move my body so it doesn’t hurt. Because if I could exercise more and move more, I wouldn’t sabotage myself by eating garbage (or if I did, I would be active enough to balance it).

But right now, when I come home from a ten-hour shift with my body twisted and aching badly, and wishing I could call my dad so he could make me laugh and tell me how much it sucks to get old, I grab junk food because it’s the last pleasure I have.

I can’t move without pain so if I’m going to be forced to get fat and lazy I might as well enjoy the process.

These are ugly thoughts and I know that, but I’m being honest.

The fun stuff: errands with Nan

After leaving my primary care doctor, I called Nan as we were scheduled to do some errands together. We stopped at Wawa for some hot caffeinated beverages (cafe con leche for me and vanilla chai for Nan).

Among other stops we visited Park Avenue Market and Deli, one of our favorite haunts known for its deli, salads and meats.

Although I am once again contemplating more of a vegan diet, which will make the teenaged carnivore wince, I am not ready to commit until I feel better. We must achieve discipline before we enact change.

I never got around to meal planning yesterday so I didn’t have a list. I ended up spending $36.89 and I think the results will work.

I purchased: two packs of beef jerky, one small box of minute rice for the teen, three or four teeny tiny bags of Wise snacks from popcorn to potato chips, meatballs, the biggest damn carrot I’ve ever seen, frozen vegetable medley with potatoes and garlic herb sauce, sweet potato crinkle cut fries, pork roll, Lebanon bologna, liverwurst, turkey, olive salad, a store-baked pig ear for the dog and something called “hot pepper shooters”— round hot peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone.

Rough meal plan

My rough meal plan for the next week or so is:

  • Sandwiches
  • Meatballs and green peppers, either as a sandwich or in pasta
  • vegetable lasagna still in the freezer from last week
  • Burgers and fries, using ground beef from the freezer and the sweet potato fries
  • Cold tortellini salad with roasted carrot, olive salad and seasoned broccoli (broccoli is in the freezer)
  • Pork roll and egg sandwiches
  • Chicken and the frozen vegetables and rice or other grain

PS— we also welcomed a new foster into the house. Her name is Babs. Meet her in this video. I need to make her a page.

The Grateful Friday

Yesterday I cleaned a lot of my downstairs and had a relatively good work out at Apex. I haven’t felt incredibly strong lately, but my IUD must be working because I’m not in pain.

I had a good week at work, so cleaning, working on Parisian Phoenix projects and watching Cobra Kai suited me just fine yesterday.

I even found two of the dog’s Kong balls under the couch which made for a very happy dog.

Today, I was supposed to have my annual physical but my doctor’s office called yesterday and rescheduled for next week— which also means another week without answers from my CT scan and physiatrist referral. Neither the neurologist nor the physiatrist’s office has called me back.

And I need a doctor that can help me understand the motion and mechanics of my body, and not just its individual parts.

Today I scrubbed the exterior of the stove and did dishes. Then I went to help my blind friend Nan with some errands and grocery shopping.

We made plans to pick up some pizza at Little Caesars so Nan could try the Batman Calzony. No matter how I tried I couldn’t explain what it was to the blind lady. So we bought one.

But we had time to kill before the teenager got out of school even after we put groceries away. We grabbed the dog and got drinks and hash browns (for the dog) at Dunkin.

And then we surprised the teenager with the dog at school.

Then Joan stopper by to drop off some hand-me-down magazines and erotica, cupcakes and photos that Joan needed us to sort.

Now, I’m cuddling with Louise, watching Gotham Garage and enjoying kitten photos.

Rainy Icy Friday

I don’t have many plans this weekend— defined by my work schedule as Thursday, Friday and Saturday— in part because my body has been unpredictable, the weather has been crazy and the teenager’s work schedule varies.

I went to the chiropractor at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, leaving work 30 minutes early to get the last appointment of the day. I wanted Dr. Jensen to see my body after four ten-hour shifts in Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy warehouse.

And, for the second or third week in a row, I could barely crawl home on Tuesday night but felt pretty good on Wednesday. So I feel like I’m not getting closer to solutions to my physical issues.

Yesterday I tried to do some work for Parisian Phoenix, did a lot of laundry, visited briefly with a friend I’ve missed and haven’t seen merely enough of, taught a high school student how to write a press release, watched several episodes of Cobra Kai, ran the dishwasher and went to the gym.

The teenager working on her squat form

The teenager did a lot of work on her squat form while I did some accessory work. I also weighed myself— 157 lbs. Sigh. Still 20 pounds overweight.

Then we had Taco Bell, including the new Cinnabon balls.

Today I worked on the index for the Parisian Phoenix nonfiction anthology on marginalized identities, Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money, which I will be blogging about on the Parisian Phoenix web site later tonight. F. Bean Barker was my helper.

Indexing is only half complete and man does it allow me to interact with the text in new ways.

Louise has an appointment with a potential adopter tomorrow and today she was quite cuddly, video here. I don’t know how she’ll do in the backroom of PetSmart but all least we’ll be with her.

Nala and Louise

In the afternoon, I accompanied the teenager to her audiologist appointment for a tune-up on her hearing aids.

Then we went for shoes. The teenager needed some and I wanted to buy a warmer pair that fit more loosely — hoping that would ease the blistering and burning in my toes.

The teenager got new black Vans and a new design, the orange blossom Vans.

We ran into Target just to use the bathroom and I told the pouty teenager we could get a drink at Sonic. But turns out Sonic is still drive through only, so if you can’t have drive-in service what’s the point of visiting Sonic?

So we went to Sheetz, and had appetizers. Which would have been fine if the teenager hadn’t suggested going to see her grandmother, my mother-in-law. And her aunt— who recently destroyed her elbow falling on the ice.

We’re finishing Captain America: Civil War right now. The ice is slowly building up outside as the cold rolls into town. And Peter Parker just made his debut in the series.

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.

The notion of emotional support and work in American society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But not important enough to pay a living wage.

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

But not important enough to provide medical insurance.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Day 3 of 10-hour day shift in the warehouse: Podcast reviews

(And a foster cat and teenager update)

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:

Yesterday

Sunday

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.

And here is a video of Nala the Goffins Cockatoo: Nala harassing foster cat tripod Louise

Good night all.

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.

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.