Before my father’s unexpected passing on Wednesday, the teenager had hoped to celebrate Yule instead of Christmas.
Today is the full moon before the winter solstice. We are approaching the celebration of the birth of the sun, who will, as the time comes, restore life to the Earth.
And today is the day my college roommate arrived for my dad’s funeral. My dad always called her curly.
But within moments of her arrival, I realized— she came to support me and rekindle our friendship now that our children older, but the universe sent her to share her energy with the teenager. Curly had a vibe that the teenager needed. I could feel the difference in the energy of the room and knew that Curly had brought peace.
After all, Curly was one of the women present for the teenager’s one year birthday ritual where she promised to help guide the teenager.
And tonight she did. And it was the perfect time for it.
We spent the night reading tarot cards and charging crystals and telling stories of our ridiculous past together— Curly, the teenager’s father and I— and then Curly went to spend the night in the teenager’s room in her father’s apartment.
It was the grounding and the relief we needed before tomorrow.
*i know the actual solstice is December 21, but to me, the full moon is the start of that celebration,
In other news:
I received another gorgeous bouquet, this one from my friends at Mary Meuser Memorial Library.
Brigid of the Celtic Pride got adopted today!!!
Nala the Goffins Cockatoo got so mad that I wasn’t to bed on time that she broke out of her cage, broke Yo the parakeet out of his cage, and stole his cage and wouldn’t let him back in.
Our cat foster godmother stopped by and actually socialized with Touch of Grey— the cat who terrifies her. ToG has come so far! She is 90% normal, friendly cat.
William Prystauk released his fourth novel in the Kink Noir series, Bondage.
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?
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.
Or if it fits your values better, ask your independent bookseller to order it from Ingram.
But back to last night…
Bill and I got together for dinner and chatter— in part to celebrate the publication of Manipulations and the launch of Parisian Phoenix Publishing (working on the web site ParisianPhoenix.com and social media channels a little every day) and in part because Bill just really really really loves sushi.
Over a wonderful wide selection of sushi (including salmon roe and sea urchin, I did not partake in the urchin as it looked like radioactive cow tongue and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the salmon caviar) at Jasmine (read about our last visit there here), Bill and I started what ended up being an hours and hours long conversation about our hopes and dreams for our lives and our careers.
The conversation continued over cocktails at County Seat Spirits (Easton) and the ice cream at Ow Wow Cow, both at the Silk Mill.
Bill and I have exchanged writing in the past and encouraged each other so I suppose he wasn’t horribly surprised when he received his copy of the book this week and opened it. But he asked a lot of good questions— why didn’t I go the traditional agent/editor/publisher route. I love that he believes in me and believes in my writing but I have shopped this manuscript.
Every few years I dust it off and send it out and every agent I have queried asks for pages. And every rejection I have gotten features personalized statement of the first 100 pages merits but how it doesn’t fit a proper genre or have the type of structure readers want.
And I know my writing can be dark, and literary from time to time. The fashion aspects are very feminine in a chick lit way but the supernatural elements are more horror than paranormal romance. My writing can be flowery, the emotions intense, but the situations can be very gritty and real.
And I don’t want to sacrifice that.
I don’t want any editor to have control over issues I discuss in my work: marriage/divorce, jealousy, domestic violence, self esteem, body image, self confidence, infertility… and those are just the first book. And I honestly hope you don’t outwardly notice these topics in the story but that they steep into your subconscious and slowly transform you like cold-brewed iced tea.
Meanwhile, as Bill and I are talking about upcoming books ( for those of you who have read Bloodletting, Punishment, and/or Debauchery— I have not only read the fourth book in the series but I also know the title of the fifth!), I am receiving texts and Facebook posts from people who have received their copies. And poor Gayle is left working on the poppet that will adorn the cover of the sequel to Manipulations, Courting Apparitions.
Courting Apparitions is a ghost story that examines the effect grief and depression has on our lives.
** $1 of every print copy of Manipulations sold goes to Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.
Yesterday was the launch day for my novel. At midnight, the teenager and I were celebrating with cocktails and cupcakes.
I have so much hope for Parisian Phoenix Publishing.
It’s too early for me to know how many copies have sold, I don’t expect large numbers as I haven’t really implemented my marketing plan. Our small boutique publisher is a partnership— myself and graphic designer Gayle Hendricks— so the work that needs to be done, we do as we can or we ask for help.
We have lots of ideas, so this first novel may be mine, but part of that stems from my philosophy that before I publish anyone else’s book, I want to learn and grow from lessons made bringing my manuscript into the limelight.
This novel— Manipulations, the first volume of the Fashion and Fiends series—means a lot to me. I believe it breeds chick lit to horror fiction (think what might have happened if Stephen King wrote The Devil Wears Prada) and uses contemporary literature (and the mythic supernatural) to examine social issues.
Manipulations, at its core, is a book about building healthy relationships. And the proverbial lesson of “things are not always what they appear.” And I hope my readers will understand that magic, in this context, allows us to explore domestic violence.
The next volume, Courting Apparitions, (due out in late November) uses a ghost story to examine grief and depression.
And the next, Recovery, (slated for first quarter 2022) tackles disability, motherhood and women’s rights. But don’t worry, magic is still afoot.
Meanwhile, the fourth, Road Trip, is a coming of age novel. With werewolves. I’d like to release that one on June 23, 2022. The day my baby turns 18. But first I have to finish writing it.
The fifth volume, Absolution, looks at the intersection of sacrifice and love.
And the sixth volume, at least half written at this point, is FindingHooyo— a hybrid romance novel, medical drama and war story. Hopefully that should tie up the original story line but certainly not the Fashion and Fiends universe.
Currently our team of authors and interesting people have several projects in the works.
Sometime in 2022, I hope to revisit a book I wrote as part of my research at Lafayette College. I looked at the anti-Muslim laws in France and traced their roots to 19th century colonial stereotypes and considered the thesis that these laws perpetuate stereotypes that started in Algeria.
My love, as a critical theorist, of post-colonial Francophone Africa stems from my view that French imperialism during the colonial era serves as an amazing parallel to contemporary American imperialism and attitudes towards Muslims.
And now, with identity politics very en vogue, I feel like these lessons in stereotypes and prejudice are very relevant.
Speaking of critical theorists and identity politics, I have assembled a group of authors to discuss various identity issues in a special anthology, currently called: Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money: Expressions of Alternative PerspectivesInfluenced by Experiences in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
Committed so far is Darrell Parry, poet and writer, and my estranged husband; Eva Parry, otherwise known as “the teenager”; William Prystauk of Crash Palace Productions and the Kink Noir series; Maryann Riker, multimedia artist; Nancy Scott, blind author of essays and poems; Rachel Thompson, science fiction and alternative history writer; Joan Zachary, photographer and writer… and hopefully more.
Racing with them toward the finish line is a cat anthology to use as a fundraising book for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab which will feature cat stories, photos, memoirs of FURR volunteers and academic research on animal welfare, poverty and empowering low-income and diverse neighborhoods to know what resources are available for themselves and their animals.
And with the new “Texas law,” Parisian Phoenix hopes to work with people on the team who have experience in women’s issues and chronicle stories as a fundraiser and historical record for groups in this sector.
Sometime in late fall, Parisian Phoenix hopes to release a full-length poetry manuscript, the poems for which have been assembled and the layout is in process.
I can guarantee this book will be as funny as it is thought provoking.
Our erotica and romance
It’s not quite clear when our erotica and romance will hit the market, but we have authors working to provide stories with real characters facing real life.
In the romance department, we have a manuscript, Trapped, that combines middle-aged love that sparks because of the skunk infestation with the joy of reinventing oneself.
There are hints of a Fashion and Fiends erotic prequel that extends the arousing feel of the horror fiction universe with more sex and no monsters.
And our goal is to offer kink/BDSM erotica, quality stories with empathetic characters who participate in safe, informed and consensual play. We have authors working on those tales, too.
Find Angel Ackerman on WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Follow Parisian Phoenix Publishing on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
This web site started as a portfolio of my professional writing. I added some photos, some creative work and used it as a platform to blog my travels in France, Tunisia, Djibouti, Somalia, Yemen and Russia.
I added some pages for the cats we foster.
And soon I will be connecting a web page or two for the publishing house my friend Gayle and I are launching (egads! as my fellow author friend William Prystauk says) my first novel publishes in a week!
So coming soon… Parisian Phoenix Publishing and the Fashion and Fiends series. We have some other titles in the works— erotica, romance, poetry, thought-provoking identity politics/philosophy and hopefully even a book on cats.
Subsequently Gayle designed this logo before I started fostering cats and painted my bedroom this exact pink.
The teenager and I did some cleaning today— all getting ready for the plumber to start building my laundry room on Tuesday.
The bathroom off the kitchen now looks like this:
But on Tuesday the shower is coming out to make room for a stackable washer dryer.
Meanwhile, after the gym and while the teenager was off at the diner doing her work thing, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab foster cat tripod Louise and I did some more work on the fourth volume of the Kink Noir series by William Prystauk, a gritty erotic look at all the definitions of love with a hearty dose of darkness.
Then FURR Khloe came to relieve her. Apparently I need babysitting.
At 6:30 pm, I harnessed up the dog and we went to try a $3 pumpkin spice cold brew at Dunkin and pick up the teenager at work. The woman in the drive thru gave Bean a munchkin but she didn’t like it— probably because it was round. This mutt can’t eat round items.
And then old neighbors stopped by and we got to visit and hang out in another neighbor’s yard while there was quoits happening.
My body turned to me as I went to my car after work today, and as I fiddled with the radio (calling up Natalie Merchant on Spotify singing Space Oddity), my body said to me,
“Jesus, woman, what are you doing? We need to talk.”
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? But we can’t spend too much time on all this as it is 1:30 a.m. and my aching body craves sleep.
The teenager was up fairly early today so I suggested she and our almost 1-year-old pit bull/mastiff/black lab puppy walk with me to the gym, about 5 blocks away.
Now if you’re new here… I’m 46 years old, a former newspaper reporter. I have an amazing 17-year-old daughter. Her father and I separated two years ago but he lives nearby and is still an important part of our household. I have cerebral palsy. He has a club hand. I have recently started a quest to learn more about my body, restart my bodybuilding commitment (I was really into it six years ago) as an alternative to traditional physical therapy, and hopefully lose the 20 pounds I gained stress eating to cope with the toxic workplace of the last nonprofit I worked for.
So, the teenager, the dog and I walked up to the gym. F. Bean Barker is learning new manners everyday and the guys at the gym thought she was a beautiful dog.
And then the focus changed to leg day. Now, on upper body day I get to train like a normal person. On lower body day, my poor trainer has to balance my physical deficits with my desire to kick ass.
Or maybe I’m just as awkward both days, and I just never noticed.
Today was session six. It’s the last week of two sessions a week and next week we increase to three.
Please note: I have been in gyms lifting weights since college, which was about 25 years ago, and in recent years I’ve been in physical therapy to learn to walk, for balance, for the strain of my lumbar region caused by trouble with my S1 joint and my broken ankle. Every body is different. Every ailment or disability is different. It is a quest to balance what works for you, what your body needs and what hurts.
I firmly believe that nothing fixes the body like the right exercises. But for people with disabilities or health issues, it’s hard to recognize what pain you need to work through and what hurt is bad. As a weight lifter, I know muscle recovery pain. As a person with a disability, I often experience burning pain.
As a society, I feel like we invest so much money in medical tests, mental health, drugs, organic food, but we don’t want to pay for a trainer.
My trainer is getting to know me. He knows how to observe me. He asks questions about my mobility. We test exercises by going easy at first and adjusting them based on my performance.
And he reads me well.
There are times I can tell he’s afraid of pushing me too far and then I do the exercise and he makes it ten times harder because I surpassed his expectations. This makes him a good trainer because it means he’s testing my basic form and strength so I don’t get hurt. And he readsmy body language to see how I’m doing— not relying on my words.
A good trainer has to push you out of your comfort zone. But he also has to make sure everything’s executed for best impact and in a way that you don’t get hurt.
I have to admit, I hated him a little today. But I also love his full body approach. But when he tells me to do sumo squats with a 15-pound dumbbell and my toes pointed out AND make sure my knees “follow” my toes… I don’t know whether to cry or punch him.
It’s the gym— both those feelings are valid.
But let’s examine the issue. My knees face in.
This means to perform the motion he has requested, I need to move one foot at a time carefully into position. I need to really concentrate on balance. As I move, I need to keep my head up, focus on stretching the knees to position in line with my toes (which is not the way they go) while holding a weight and trying not to fall.
I was dripping sweat by the end of this session— before he hands me a kettle bell to end the work out with kettle bells swings.
When I got home, I made a massive high protein vegan pasta. See me make it here (this can also be my official “before” video.)
I ate 90% vegan today. Only animal products I had were half and half for my coffee and a pack of beef jerky at work. I almost had iced tea with local honey but the teenager spilled it when I left it on the dog crate.
This was dinner:
Speaking of dinner— tonight at the Bizzy Hizzy my team competed in the Stitch Fix olympics. We won the gold medal in the egg toss. I was relieved they weren’t real eggs.
In other news:
I almost started editing William Prystauk’s latest novel in the Kink Noir series.
My Poppy Z. Brite books have arrived.
I hurt. I hope it’s the good hurt.
My friend Joan not only brought us old linens, but scored a cat carrier and animal crate at a yard sale.
This weekend was hectic and quiet at the same time.
Saturday Nan and I canned some corn relish/salsa with some farm fresh corn on the cob. My mother-in-law, having grown up on a farm, knows her corn and has a gift for picking delicious corn.
Nan, as a lifelong blind person, has a fascination with all things cooking. She always says that she doesn’t understand how people learn these things. I told her I don’t quite remember how I learned to can, though I do know I always had an interest in gardening and in preserving the rich variety of foods we have in this region.
But it was fun to see Nan respond to the tools involved in canning.
Yesterday, Marsand Minerva attended an adoption event with our cat rescue group Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Meanwhile, the teenager and I volunteered with the FURR kitten event and backpack distribution through the Verizon Store in Forks Township. Our foster Touch of Grey came from there. They actually have foster cats free roaming the store!
The teenager and I finally got our FURR t-shirts. I’m very excited. The teenager looks really good in hers.
Meanwhile, at home, our foster tripod Louise has been very cuddly and at my side relatively non-stop.
AndI finished the proof for Manipulations. The book designer (my partner Gayle) will check out the file tomorrow.
My friend Bill sent me the manuscript for his next book in the Kink Noir series, Bondage. I’ll start my review sometime this week.
And finally, I made a list of all the authors and books that I hope to publish via Parisian Phoenix.
I was shocked how many titles were on the list. I hope I have the resources and the marketing prowess to do these books justice.
Yesterday I had hoped to do more editing on the bits and pieces left of the near-final manuscript of Manipulations, the first of three novels by me, coming soon from my little publishing imprint, Parisian Phoenix.
But then my graphic designer partner in crime (and this endeavor) encouraged me to start Karen by Marie Killilea. The book was in its 11th printing by the mid-sixties and I am reading a copy from about 60 years ago.
It’s part of my recent quest to understand my cerebral palsy, which ironically led to me discovering that my anemia has reared its ugly head. So maybe this quest isn’t addressing physical needs as much as emotional ones. And the neurologist’s office did return my call. My appointment is January 13. Yes, in six-and-a-half months.
While I certainly understand what these parents must have gone through (Karen was born in 1940 and died in 2020), this certainly was a different era. An era of institutions, a lack of knowledge and families and doctors sitting around smoking cigarettes together.
But so far, and I believe Karen is now 4, Karen is described as beautiful, but presented as a thing in the background. The memoir so far is about the mother and her thoughts and parenting techniques and her interactions with the medical community.
To me, the way Marie describes placing her in the backyard and going in the house to do chores… well, Karen slowly pulls herself by her arms inching toward whatever is of interest. The current chapter describes her playing in a mud puddle. She sounds like a fish caught between land and sea.
Honestly, to me it sounds cruel. I’m sure it fostered independence and strength but damn it sounds grueling for Karen. This is the beginning of the ideology of mainstreaming kids with disabilities— toss them in and let them adjust. And as young people with disabilities, emotions and intellect are still immature. So it is cruel in my opinion to let these children struggle with the physical, too. It’s this weird we get that we are different but we don’t have the life experience to understand why or how and while allowing a child to figure it out raises a fighter and someone not prone to accept help or pity, it would be nice to have some framework other than you can or cannot do something or are or are not like everyone else.
I see a potential multitude of nonfiction book projects in my future. My memoir will need to be three volumes: my childhood, my “squiggly” career (yes there is a term for people with eclectic careers like mine), and this health quest.
Speaking of non-fiction, I would like to publish my honors thesis from Lafayette College and do an anthology where I have select authors/artists to explore what I will refer to as identity politics. I have mentioned it to Nan, my blind friend, and Bill, my horror-loving freak friend, and both love the idea. I encourage you to read Bill’s novels, The Kink Noir series, which blend a dark 1940s detective vibe with kink and erotica while exploring some topics about what it means to be human.
My review of Bill’s most recent book is here: Debauchery
I had to face my pandemic denial today— due to the stressful nature of my last professional position, I’ve been stress eating more than I’ve admitted the last few months.
(And if you read this blog, you know I’ve been fairly transparent about my ability to each an entire Dominos or Little Caesar’s pizza. So imagine the late night bags of chips and the multiple doughnuts I haven’t told you about.)
Today I hit a new body weight high. And none of my pants fit. So it was sobering.
And I know part of that is my good intentions gone wrong.
Yesterday the morning started with breakfast with my dad and the teenager. I had coffee, a broccoli feta omelette, home fries, dry rye toast and cranberry juice.
I was proud of my choice because I haven’t had vegetables enough recently and I could bring half of my meal home for today. It was too delicious. So I decided I would skip or have a light lunch.
But then I stress ate a doughnut.
Then my dad and step mom invited me to the pub for dinner. My step mom wanted pizza so I thought I’d have a beer and a slice. I think I ate the equivalent of a whole bar pizza.
It’s 7:23 pm and I’m watching the marching band rehearse so my daughter can drive home… I’ll make7,000 steps today but not my goal of 10K.
PART TWO: WARLOCK CRAFT BEER REVIEW
At Three Mugs Pub yesterday, I ordered a salted caramel chocolate Saucony Creek, a craft beer label I typically enjoy. Chocolate stouts and porters tend to be my favorite beers.
They didn’t have it. So I ordered a Warlock instead.
Warlock is an imperial pumpkin stout brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company. It was smooth and not obnoxious in its seasonal flavor. And caused more of a buzz than I was expecting given all the food I ate.
PART THREE: CHICKEN BONE BROTH
Earlier— on Tuesday—while the teenager was still hanging out with my dad…
I finally turned off my crock pot that had been brewing the chicken bones of a whole young roaster I bought at Grocery Outlet on Saturday for $4. I made the chicken in the crock pot that day, returned the bones and skin to the crockpot and kept filling it with water until Tuesday noon.
I carefully poured it all out and squeezed all the goodness out of the now soft bones. I also started a pot of soup on the stove. The yield was nice.
PART FOUR: TRIGGERED
I started my day with coffee— fighting an unusual sluggishness and some unexpected difficulty with my menstrual cycle.
Last week, I had started thinking about my psychological triggers. I have long known that I have an obsessive attitude toward food. Not in the disordered eating way, but in a hoarding kind of way.
I don’t actually hoard food, but seeing a piece of fruit rot or having to throw out an out-of-date food product upsets me far more than it should.
It usually serves me well, but it backfires sometimes and missteps with food can make me unreasonably angry.
Let’s bring this back to that chicken— I didn’t need that chicken. I didn’t even want that chicken. But that was a huge roaster chicken for $4.
I made soup and froze it for the first cold day of the fall season. (I’m not even fond of chicken soup). I separated the white meat and the dark meat and froze that for future use. And I made bone broth.
That’s a lot of food for $4. Good, healthy protein. But… it’s not food I enjoy. So why?
But then this morning as I was drinking my coffee, I heard two people arguing. It was a loud verbal altercation. This is one of my triggers I forgot about— and it’s one I understand. My parents had a lot of verbal arguments and if I’m honest (forgive me for saying so Mom and Dad) if they had enough alcohol the fights could get violent and ugly. There weren’t that many over the years, but enough to create an even more terrifying environment than the mere alcoholism that existed in my childhood home.
So I surveyed my surroundings and couldn’t see anyone. My chest was tightening and my stomach dropping and that odd little internal tremble shook me.
These incidents were frequent when my previous neighbors screamed profanities at each other and threw objects and each other at the walls. It terrified me. They were literally on the other side of the wall, similar to my parents. When I didn’t stand there paralyzed and watch them.
I am not convinced what happened this morning, but I suspect my neighbor had some sort of television program playing in her car.
PART FIVE: THRIFT STORE
I promised the teenager a trip to our favorite thrift store. She bought supplies for her father’s birthday craft and two belts. I bought approximately three skirts, four pairs of business slacks, one pair jeans and one pair corduroys.
Since I can’t try things on, I got everything from size 7 to 10. Far cry from my normal 2 or 4, or my spare/ baggy sizes 6 to 8.
None of the professional pants fit. The red jeans (Old Navy low cut Rockstar 10) fit but are snug. The corduroys fit (size 8). One size 8 skirt fits, the other two did not. The medium skirt fit.
I’m sorry, guys. I also wanted to update you on Aspire to Autonomy, Lady Boss Entrepreneurs Club and some recent make-up unboxing from Dolls Kill and Target.com. But I’m wiped out and this is really long. Oh — and William Prystauk’s third novel appeared on Amazon.com today so now you can read the latest Kink Noir masterpiece and get your mystery/romance/crime/BDSM on.