Learning to Fly

This is a post about babies of multiple species.

My dad helped me… no he did it… my dad got a really disgusting clog out of the vacuum cleaner last night. And then we (with my stepmom) went to Tic Toc Diner to harass teenager #1 at her first official job as a waitress. The young man assigned to our table recognized me and asked if we wanted her to serve us, and I said that wasn’t necessary we were happy observing her from afar. But he gave her the table anyway.

That’s my baby, and she was buzzing around looking very focused. There is a strange heartwarming and heartbreaking feeling when you see your baby becoming independent.

Earlier that day, Vesta and Minerva went to the adoption event at Petsmart. But no one inquired about these Roman Pride babies. I brought them home to Hermes.

Teenager #1 is with her dad right now, so I spent some time working with our foster kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. I’m going to post some videos from today to show progress.

Hermes is afraid of human hands. And Mars— oh spunky Mars— bit one of our fellow FURR volunteers when she tried to move him from the habitat at the Petco in Easton to the one in the Phillipsburg area.

Video: Manhandling Mars (and Hermes)

Video: The Roman Pride

Meanwhile, I decided I had to let go of my fear of harm coming to the parakeets. I opted to let them free fly for the first time since Boo-Boo’s death (see Farewell Boo for details). And it was the first time for the babies. My room is oddly silent right now because all SIX birds, including Nala the Goffin (who turned five this week), are sleeping. The budgies flew so hard!

Video: Baby birds awkward flight

And here’s a video of Hermes from yesterday: Hermes amid the vacuum

So all the babies are doing well!

The embers of happy

Today I fought my emotions and fought my pain to find some moments of happiness for myself. And in the end, my heart is warm.

My daughter and I often carpool now that she is a waitress at one of our favorite local businesses— Tic Toc Diner.

Before work I took her to the Starbucks in our local Target (#2536) so I could try the new Pistachio Latte.

Our reaction video: Review of our lattes

Once I arrived at the Bizzy Hizzy, I realized I had forgotten to wear red for “red day,” but they gave us all red masks and iced heart sugar cookies. That brought me some joy. As did my lunch, my attempt at Cajun seared scallops.

I started my night in QC, where my performance slipped because despite taking two naproxen sodium my pain level was going from 5 to 7. By 9 pm, I had only QC’ed about 52. But then at 9:15, I got moved to pick direct! It felt amazing to zoom through the warehouse and even though the naproxen sodium had worn off, my pain had dropped to a two or a three.

Teenager #1 texted that she had her uniform and she was waiting tables by herself and she made $28 in tips. I love seeing her in this new role.

And my friend who adopted Fenrir/Fern of the Norse Pride (now Edie) sent me this picture of her:

She looks so majestic. I am assured that she is still naughty.

By the end of the night, I picked 48 fixes and walked about 12,000 steps.

A friend texted to check in when I really needed to hear a familiar voice (thank you, Bill).

Another friend texted me the word “ramfeezled,” to be exhausted from working too much. (Thank you, Joan.)

And then I got home, and found the best surprise ever. Now, every night teenager #1 comes to hang out with Nala. While she is here, she makes my bed.

Tonight I found this…

She bought me clearance Valentine’s chocolate from the Dollar Tree. That’s my girl— frugal impresses me just as much as the thought.

Goals, stubbornness and success—and pain

So much happened today.

Or yesterday.

I promised myself I wouldn’t publish this draft until morning because I was both lost in thought and celebrating teenager #1’s first official job (her first unofficial job was as a costumed character) by trying the pink lemonade vodka. I was exhausted and I suspect I am slightly inebriated now.

I received a $7,000 medical bill for my August 3, 2020 hospital visit. My out-of-pocket cost is $500-something. Six months ago. And I think this is just for the first of four days.

But let’s go backwards… Teenager #1 and I went to Dunkin to get a free drink— I chose the iced Pink Velvet Macchiato (made with skim milk). At this point, caffeine, sugar and a double dose of naproxen sodium is the only way I can survive my shift.

I talked to my chiropractor and she said to continue my physical therapy stretches and that the fact I am no longer in pain in the morning is a good sign. But that my body was “off level” more strongly than usual. I had noticed my right side was bothering me instead of the left so is my body trying to compensate? And am I developing nerve pain in my spine from standing so much? She said all is possible. And then she moved everything around.

I then heard someone I used to work with (and someone I greatly respect and enjoy the company of) is becoming the general manager of a local cannibas dispensary. And more than one person has recommended medical marijuana to me, so it gets me thinking. But I’ve never smoked a cigarette and only ever had one hit of pot so I don’t know how I feel about that idea.

So with all this is mind, I purchased my coffee and dropped the teenager off at her first day of work.

As expected, I was in QC again so I took my two naproxen sodium and headed out.

Podcasts helped keep me motivated. Now, I am about to murder someone if one more of my regular podcasts talks about love and sex for Valentine’s Day. But this one didn’t let me down. Stand up comedy featuring Bert Kreischer — Bert : A Joke About Pajamas (podcast) and I got really excited about the New York Times The Daily Podcast talking about France, Islam and laïcité. This is the exact stuff I wrote a thesis about and I can’t believe this conversation is still happening. It’s very parallel to race relations here in the United States.

If you want to listen: France, Islam & Laïcité

This got me thinking about my hope to update and publish my thesis. That needs to become a plan.

About two hours in to my shift, one of the people I report to stopped by to check on me. We had an interesting conversation. It started with: “How do you feel about QC?”

I told her everything about my love-hate relationship with QC. How it aggravates my cerebral palsy. How it does not fall within my natural skill set. How it physically hurts.

“We don’t want you to be in pain.”

You don’t?

Pain is like a grouchy friend at this point. We’re used to each other. I never had an employer say that before. And I told her I know I need to have more conversations with the supervisory team about this.

The conversation ended with: “Would you like to be permanently assigned to pick?”

But I’m stubborn and I want to get at least closer to the goal, which I’m told now is 104 not 130. She critiqued my work and I learned some better techniques.

I said I’d like to see if I can improve and then go back to pick.

And I felt energized, excited, and good at my job. I decided not to obsess over the numbers and just work as hard as I could and see where the numbers fell. That didn’t work. By the end of the night I had my worst night ever— I QC’ed 78 fixes.

This was devastating to my psyche. Perhaps, in part, because it revives some past employment trauma where I wanted to succeed and I was doing everything I was asked to do, but I just couldn’t meet the same expectations the employer had.

Perhaps it was because I have that personality where I hate to fail.

Perhaps it was because as someone with a disability I feel like I am under more pressure than the average person to prove my worth and that my performance makes a statement not only for me but also sets a standard for how others like me will be treated in the future.

I vowed never to be a journalist but life disagreed

My first appearance in a daily, 1994

My first appearance in a daily, 1994

In 1994, I hadn’t even declared a major yet. After three years of high school journalism, I had taken a college-level journalism class and had some experience writing features for a local weekly. I accepted a job as a freelance “stringer” for the Newark Star-Ledger. I traveled across Warren County, New Jersey attending municipal and school board meetings. Then I called the editor on the desk and read him my notes.

This was before cell phones and filing by internet. (I’m a dinosaur!)

It was brutal. They always asked questions to which I never knew the answers. They paid well, but the editors often reduced me to tears. One nice editor offered me advice. Call before you leave the site. Make relationships with the people at the meeting and ask for a number where you can reach them. (I also was polite enough to ask how late  could call.)

I hated it. I vowed I never wanted to be a journalist.

Funny, how life changes…

The article in the photograph is the result of my reporting. While it’s not an official byline, it’s my first appearance in a daily newspaper.