Today was a typical day in the crazy menagerie of our home. But it was delightful. I’ve come to accept that Saturdays are overscheduled and hectic. Sundays are a rest day.
F. Bean Barker woke at 5:30 am— a normal part of the routine in her old home. No one gets up that early here.
I went to bed around 2:30 am so when Ms. Black Bean woke up and barked/whined/howled for 30 minutes, I texted teenager #1. She went down, covered the dog’s crate with a blanket and laid down on the couch beside the dog to go back to sleep.
After that 45-minute disturbance, I woke at 9:30 am. The teenagers finished picking up the house to prepare for the notary arriving at 1 pm.
We cared for our pets and crated Vesta and Minerva of the FURR Roman Pride for the adoption event at Petsmart.
We then stopped at Dunkin on the way home because I wanted to do something to thank my husband for taking the time to come sign this paperwork and for supporting me in the refinancing of the house. It’s been about 20 months since he’s lived here with me. Neither one of us has filed for divorce. So his name is still on the deed of the house and the current mortgage.
This new mortgage will pay off my car, save me $300 a month, though also extend my term five years. Now instead of the house being paid off by the time I am 55, I will be 60. Mortgage payment alone on the the refinancing will pay off is 50% of my take-home monthly income and that makes me nervous.
My hope is that once the pandemic ends and life shifts, new opportunities and stability will allow me to apply extra money to the principal.
And teenager #1 will take her drivers exam Tuesday. If she passes, her dad and I will have a massive insurance bill so my solace is that if something should happen to my car, at least it is paid for.
Teenager’s dad loved his new cold foam chocolate stout cold brew. The closing almost went without a hitch, but Fog decided to saunter across the table amid the notary’s pile of papers. Cats are not allowed on the table. Especially when we have guests.
The teenager got ready for work and we watched an episode of Canine Intervention on Netflix. I wish they had more episodes.
I dropped her off at Tic Toc Diner. I then went to get the kittens.
Those adorable tuxedo sisters then went to Petco (Greenwich Township, NJ) for their adoption habitat.
Vesta, having spent about three weeks in the habitat at the other Petco, sat there and shook in fear.
I came home planning to walk F. Bean Barker with our neighbors, Jan and her Ladyship Sobaka. But Bean only made it a half-block.
She’s just exhausted.
And then Jan and I went to pick up Nan and have dinner at Tic Toc. The teenager was worried about not having a Braille menu for Nan. As if we need a menu.
The teenager told me the founder stuffed with crab looked really good as the cook took a lot of care in its preparation and plating. I ordered it. With coleslaw. And the silly waitress got me french fries instead.
The dish reminded me of a crab cake wrapped in other fish. So good and a ridiculous amount of food for the price.
After dinner, Nan and I hung out at my house until it was time to retrieve our waitress from the diner.
And then when she got home, she unboxed this month’s box from Witch’s Gifts. These items are so carefully curated. To see the unboxing: March Box Witch’s Gifts
These boxes (and my tarot and witchy podcasts) remind me that I need to pay more attention to my spiritual and magical development.
In my previous blog entry, I mentioned that the cats broke into my room and Peek-A-Boo, my yellow parakeet, was free-flying. Traditionally, I let the parakeets free-fly once or twice a week while supervised.
The routine has changed since kitten fostering, COVID-19, and budgie chicks— and poor Boo found herself in the small bird cage isolated from her friends.
So for her emotional health, I let her free fly more often, but as the stubborn bird she was… she hated going back into the tiny bird cage and wouldn’t go willingly until nightfall.
I would close my bedroom door and let her go.
Thursday night the cats got in before Boo had gotten into her cage. Now my older cats won’t bother her. The hunter in the family now has three legs and more desire to sleep under my bed than play drive to chase a bird. And the dumb one— he already had a run in with Boo and lost. She was in her cage and Oz must have gotten too close. She ripped out a piece of his nose and lip. It’s taken about a year to regrow.
Oz has no interest in the birds. The little jerks dive bomb him, usually with Boo as ringleader, should he wander into the room while she were out.
Now, the younger two (Misty and Fog) and the newcomers belonging to teenager #2 (Venom and TJ) are stereotypical cats.
Chances are that Oz opened the door so he and Opie could sleep uninterrupted in my room and the rest of the Pride took advantage of the situation and scared Boo. She probably couldn’t get to her cage and somehow got out the crack in the door. Or, as there was feathers in my room, one of the cats swept her out of the air and carried her out of my room.
Statistically all of these things seem unlikely to happen all at once but they did. Once Boo made it downstairs, the cats had the advantage and Boo lost quite a few feathers. Somewhere in this time she released some blood curdling screams that teenager #1 “never wants to hear again in [her] life” and teen came running to find Boo cornered between a stool and the wall in the kitchen.
Venom and Fog, the two smartest and food-focused cats we have, stood guard.
Poor Boo was exhausted and had a puncture wound in one wing. Teen #1 scooped her up, and she still had enough spunk to bite. I believe at that point she had neither energy nor feathers to fly.
Teen #1 returned the bird to her cage, covered it partially to give her security and monitored her. She stood quietly and puffy, but we supposed that was appropriate behavior for the circumstances. Then, teenager #1 called her dad and went to Dairy Queen to buy French fries for the birds. Which is a great treat for cockatoos, not sure if it works for budgies.
Friday morning, she didn’t sing when the sun came up. Nor did she rattle the bars of her cage. And now that I think about it, she didn’t harass me with impatience when I fed everyone else breakfast first.
Friday evening, teenager #2 commented that Boo wasn’t active nor visible. So that’s when teenager #1 discovered her dead on the bottom of the cage.
The last 24 hours of mandatory overtime this week
Wow — that ending up being a long story when I was trying to tell the executive summary. What I wanted to do was give a little insight into the last 24 hours of my mandatory over time at Stitch Fix. After a week of sleeping about 6 hours sleep a night, it was hell, but hey… we were all exhausted and in the same boat.
10 pm— about 44 hours in to a 54 hour work week— I get a text from my daughter that it wasn’t a complete emergency but she needed to talk to me. Boo boo was dead.
The last two hours of the shift were exhausting.
12 am— I leave work with my gift of Stitch Fix gloves, which the nurse distributes with the joke of “next week they’ll hand out fingers.”
1 am— Teenager #1 and I have a toast and some cookies and pickles to celebrate Boo’s life.
2 am— We head to bed. I have a recurrence of my Covid cough that keeps me up until about…
3 am— Finally sleep
8:15 am— The alarm goes off. Fuuuck. I’m so tired. The birds don’t like that I am leaving. I manage to feed the cats, get my ass dressed (and I look cute since I had planned my outfit in advance), and drink have a cup of coffee before putting on my shoes at 9.
9:15 am— In the car, listening to NPR.
9:30 am— I arrive. One of my supervisors comes in (she is also a 10 am start), puts her head down, and falls asleep on the table in the main break room.
9:55 am— the assignments post. I am QC Line 2, BA. What the hell is BA?
9:55 am— day shift is chugging away. We stand in line at the time clocks. One of our colleagues is way too perky. Another, in a dark way, makes the comment, “were you doing lines of coke?” We chuckle, but not because it’s funny but because we are tired. I suggest maybe that will be the next free snack in the breakroom. Inappropriate humor I know but my filter is damaged at this point. But we are all so tired. We are human. And I point out, if we don’t laugh, we will cry. Another colleague adds that if I cry she will cry.
9:57 am— I ask a supervisor for clarification on what BA is. She scowls and looks me up on her computer, “Line 2, EIGHT A.” And she points to Valley 1. I refrain from telling her that Stitch Fix needs a easier to read typeface.
10 am— I am on the back of the line. Last week, I spent most of my shifts also on Line 2 but in Valley 2 at table 2B. It seems a good spot for me. In the front of the line. Only one table in front of me. And that person behaves as a peer supervisor. I like watching her QC her boxes, audit boxes, fix problems brought to her by the person who puts the styling cards in the boxes (whom I can also see), and doing tasks on the computer I don’t recognize or understand.
At 2-2B, the line is on my left. I have mastered how to organize my table. At 2-8A, the line is on my right and now I am completely out of sorts. I am in the back of the line which means I have to be very forceful pushing my boxes up the line.
As someone who can’t even bowl straight and has never played shuffle board I suck at this too. Another aspect of QC that doesn’t fall in my natural skill set.
12 pm— no one seems to be going on break. Day shift delivers the pick carts with 4 boxes on top instead of the regular 8. The people in this Valley all speak Spanish and yell back and forth at each other. I have been stationed in what appears to be the Spanish party line. My times suck.
12:15 pm— a colleague from my shift informs me, after I take the wrong first break, that meal will be at 3 pm and last break is 5 pm. I’m already hungry so that kinda stinks but the end of the day will move quickly. The fingerless gloves make my hands feel better. I brought my Stitch Fix water bottle but the straw is bent and it won’t get liquid from the bottom.
1:30 pm— my Valley mates leave. Peers from my shift take their place. People I know! People that speak my language! People who do tasks the way I do them! (Man those subtle differences between the shifts are disorienting.)
3 pm— day shift appears to be gone now. We stare out the windows at the light outside in shock. A supervisor, the one who had a rubber chicken on an earlier night and started at 8 am, threatens to blacken them out to make us more comfortable. We have a good laugh.
3:27 pm— I head to the restroom. I stop first at the water bottle refill station. It is filtered and fully automatic so it senses when my water bottle is there. I get so excited I want to tell my friend Gayle. I wind the lid onto the bottle, some how trip on a wrinkle in the rug and end up falling onto the floor with a bang to my left knee and punching the electrical box with my left hand. I use the restroom, wash my hands and realize I will need to see the nurse so I don’t bleed on the clothes.
3:31 pm— I clock in and visit the nurse, who is not my favorite nurse. I explain what happened and despite my assurance that this will not become a workmen’s comp claim has to create an incident report. The clumsy, exhausted employee with cerebral palsy tripped. That is all.
3:37 pm— back to my table. Without thinking, I finished my morning seltzer, drank a V8 Energy Drink (the kiwi strawberry which tasted like a 50 calorie Snapple with vitamins. Love it), and consumed a “cup o noodles” on my meal. This will be important later as I will soon very badly need to urinate.
5 pm— I need to pee. Break. I need to pee. Bathroom is being cleaned. Someone senior to me heads to the office where there are two single seat bathrooms. The plant manager suggests we try the bathroom 750 steps across the warehouse.
5:10 pm— I return to my station. This day needs to end.
6:25 pm— I finish my last fix. My times still suck. I want to cry. I need to decompress. My times still suck. I feel inadequate and guilty. But hey I’m done.
6:34 pm— I am in my car. Going home to my teens. Teen #2 has a yummy surprise. I promised them pizza at George’s Pizza. We also promised to start The History of Swear Words on Netflix. More on that in the next post.
Since recovering from Covid, I have tried to focus on healthy food choices and cooking at home instead of eating out. I believe good food is key to regaining my strength and moving forward in losing some weight, but more and more I find myself viewing food as a friend.
In other dietary confessions, twice this week I have taken advantage of the snacks in the breakroom to have 500 calories of honeybun at 10 p.m. And I’ve noticed, that seemed to be the only thing that gave me the energy to improve my performance. I have always had a strong physical reaction to sugar so this is no surprise.
I think the moral is that I need to balance my meals prior to work and “save” some carbohydrates for treats at my final break.
Tonight I find myself without teenagers and having eaten decently throughout the day, I have some “calories to spare.” I decided to use them for some healthy snacks while I watch Bridgerton. I find the series quaint and endearing, with amazing costumes and scenery. But I don’t see anything worth the extreme hoopla I see on social media. But there is a beauty in it. And I hope I am wrong, but I am almost done with episode 5 and so far while it is charming, it is predictable.
The snack I prepared were some pumpkin seed and raisin crackers, Harvest Snaps green pea snacks, Smart Pop popcorn, and Smartfood caramel apple popcorn.
Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey of the Norse Pride went home to his FURRever family today and I am feeling the absence of crazy kitten antics. Two of my personal cats, Oz and Fog, have curled up in bed with me. I have missed Fog’s attentions.
Other recent meals that I enjoyed:
A little about each meal:
1. Salad of romaine, shredded cabbage, kalamata olives, wasabi peas, sliced almonds, feta and fresh strawberries.
2. Chicken with a “hash” of spinach, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and Brussel sprouts.
3. Salmon. I used the cooking method from the Whole30 and seasoned with dill.
4. Cornish Game Hen. I seasoned it, used a little smoked flavor, and cooked it in my chicken bone broth, diced carrots, and kale. I didn’t care for it. Too much work to get the meet off the bones. Fog loved what he stole.
5. I had a craving for good old fashioned processed beer battered fish— might have been Gorton’s.
6. Croque Monsieur. Teenager #1 made the béchamel sauce, and I didn’t think to warn her how temperamental a roux can be.
7. At Lidl, I came across some discount thaw-and-eat frozen sushi. It was 50 cents a pack. It was edible but the rice was completely al dente.
8. I have been aching for avocado and eggs. So I bought avocado and forgot to make it when I made egg-and-pepper omelette.
9. Some chicken I bought on clearance cooked in butter, lemon and dill. Then I sautéed some cabbage and added some leftover corn from earlier in the week and the rest of the pepper I didn’t use for yesterday’s omelette.
Today is day 10 of my post-diagnosis Covid 19 isolation. I am now watching The Tudors on Netflix, struck by the similarities between the Coronavirus pandemic and the 16th Century sweating sickness.
I feel like there is so much not known about Covid-19 and I suspect many people know more than they can admit. But the medical treatments, anecdotal layman wisdom and people’s behavior remind me of these scenes depicting King Henry VIII’s medical crisis.
My symptoms are still dizziness and a dry cough, a congested head and weakness. And chapped lips.
I catch a chill easily, and sometimes the smallest actions wind me.
I think the general populace puts too much security in flimsy masks, and gives not enough thought to social distancing. I think the various government tactics to curb the pandemic cater to major corporations and starve small business.
And it saddens me that people will flock to WalMart or order from Amazon, but not mail order from a small local business or buy gift cards for small merchants.
It also saddens me that so much of society can really on DoorDash or GrubHub, but not call your favorite local restaurant and order take out.
I believe I caught the Coronavirus at work, despite all the precautions to “keep us safe.” Because despite the gloves, the masks, the nurse, the sanitizer spray, and working socially distant, the reality is there are 70 or more of us in one room at the same time, unmasked, eating and talking for each of our three daily breaks.
The vaccine has arrived. And I wish it were — what do they call it— a reactive vaccine vs a mRNA vaccine. Perhaps I am old-fashioned in my thinking.
So I suppose I am grateful to have caught Coronavirus and see how my body reacts. I have had the chance to develop my own antibodies. And no one else in my family for sick so I am also grateful for that.
I am deeply saddened that others have not had the same privilege that I have. I am saddened that people I love have lost people they love.
It is a confusing time.
So my best advice would be to do your own research, think about how viruses work and make the decisions that keep you and your family safe. And care for your neighbors and support local business in ways you can.
I received my diagnosis this morning, after realizing on Wednesday that the symptoms I had attributed to my everyday health problems.
9 p.m.: after spending most of the day in bed, I finish Netflix’s The Crown and start Hillbilly Elegy because I see Glenn Close is in it.
10 p.m. I turn out my light and go to bed early, struggling to get comfortable because of the muscle and joint pain.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
2 a.m. I wake up, can’t get back to sleep. I play on my phone. I close my eyes and imagine myself drawing healing energy out of the cosmos and suddenly a vision of ocean waves floods me.
Around 3 a.m. I fall asleep again
8 a.m. I wake. I need to pee. But the way my body feels, the walk to the bathroom seems impossible. And I know once I walk out my door, the cats will want food.
8:30 a.m. I return to my room after using the bathroom. The kittens escape. I leave the door open so they can return and cats come in and out.
9 a.m. Some friends text to see how I’m doing. I respond and now I’m exhausted and need a rest.
9:30 a.m. the teenager is up. I asked if she can bring me coffee after I rest. She says sure.
10 a.m. I rest and she brings coffee. And my medicine.
10:30 a.m. I finish the coffee and engage in a Facebook discussion about Covid, sparked by a friend who chastises those who don’t wear masks and don’t want to abide by the mandate of no indoor gatherings. Sobaka’s mom offers to get me groceries at Shoprite. I ask for coffee.
11:00 a.m. I shower and feel human again briefly. I am grateful for these new soap products that contain eucalyptus. My other neighbor texts she is at Dunkin and wants to know my order.
11:15 a.m. I discover one of my closest friends has symptoms of Covid but hadn’t received his test results. I feel awful convinced he got it from me, but he assures me we might have gotten it from the same place. Now he has to cancel his surgery that was scheduled for Monday.
11:30 a.m. I’ve annoyed the teenager. I’m watching the cats frolic and check on the neighbor who came over for coffee earlier in the week. Her son left her home because he’s afraid I exposed them.
11:45 a.m. The teenager is chastising me for having an absurd method of organizing my tea. I’m going out to the porch to wait for my Dunkin’.
12 Dunkin arrives. I go back to bed with Kittens and a sugarplum macchiato
12:30 p.m. more texting with friends, despite large macchiato am feeling fatigued. Watching the cockatoo pick through the leftover parakeet food I gave her.
12:50 p.m. done uploading YouTube videos. Debating watching TV versus napping like the kittens. Kitten video: Loki And Vale play
1 p.m. I decide to curl up and nap like my foster kittens. They snuggle up to me but as a side sleeper I find it impossible to get comfortable. As I face my left, my right hip, knee and even ankle burn. I roll onto my back and it feels like every vertebrae in my spine is protruding. I lie still and wait for everything to calm down. My knee is the only thing that refuses to settle.
1:10 pm I’m restless (probably from the caffeine). I remember my neighbor is out grocery shopping with my credit card and that I should have my ringer on in case she encounters a problem. several friends are texting— one had symptoms like mine and is still waiting on her Covid results. The cats are laying on me as if to force me to sleep.
Another friend texts and mentions egg nog and I am excited that my former colleague is making some homemade egg nog and bringing me a quart or two. My knee still burns as does my right sinus under my eye. I need to pee.
1:15 p.m. headed to the bathroom. The birds are oddly still.
1:25 p.m. I watch more of Hillbilly Elegy. There are some intense scenes of drug abuse, domestic violence and child abuse.
1:45 p.m. the teenager brings me some Twizzlers left over from Halloween, I ask her to let the cockatoo out for a few minutes, and my dad calls to check on me.
1:50 p.m. watching more of Hillbilly Elegy. I can’t believe Glenn Close’s performance. She’s magnificent. The older she gets the more beautiful she is. The kittens sleep at my feet. The cockatoo sits nicely on my chest.
2:30 p.m. I finished the movie, which is based on a memoir of the same name. No wonder some of the scenes were so disturbing— real life is often more painful than anything the mind can make up. My cockatoo keeps dozing off.
2:40 p.m. time to use the bathroom again and see if I can get this sleepyhead bird to go to her cage.
2:50 p.m. Sobaka’s mom is at McDonald’s so I try to place a mobile order but the GPS on my phone knows I’m still at home so the McDonald’s app is fighting with me. Gives me a funky code. It really is amazing what one can do from a sick bed with a credit card.
2:55 p.m. sneezing again. Forgot my tissues downstairs
3 p.m. watching some YouTube videos while the teenager finishes vacuuming and cleaning her room.
3:15 p.m. we received our McDonald’s order and our groceries. I distributed food to the teens by dropping it outside their bedroom doors. You can tell Sobaka’s mom isn’t a coffee drinker because she bought the cutest little can of coffee. She bought us orange juice with extra vitamin C and zinc! Now that is thinking! She also got me a big old chunk of raspberry coffee cake.
3:20 p.m. In trying to get the groceries into the kitchen and the food to the kids, I forget that our cat Fog shot past me onto the sunporch.
3:50 p.m. After watching Canadian dietician Abbey Sharp’s review of Kelly Ripa’s diet, I lie down for a nap. Instantly the kittens start playing and my feet become civilian casualties.
4 p.m. The teenager comes into my room to chastise me about the cat. Apparently the Christmas tree (which was unbalanced and the two teens had tried to stabilize it with a rope tied to a plant hanger) is now on the floor. I’m sorry, but the reality is that I don’t care.
4:05 p.m. I don’t think it’s even possible TL sleep but my eyes hurt so I will try. Maybe listen to a podcast. I check my playlist. I see episode #2050 of Car Talk has posted. Yes! I will listen to this!
4:30 p.m. Another friend texts to check on me
4:40 p.m. Despite how tired I feel I can’t sleep. The teenager brings up my clean laundry and I hear chuckles and conversation from downstairs. Both teenagers are cleaning. I am starting to get cranky and bored. I guess I’ll watch more television. Maybe I should try and play a video game on my phone. My favorite comedian at the moment is Jim Breuer. He happens to be next on my YouTube list. (Jim Breuer “Playing with Kids.”)
4:45 p.m. the cockatoo is screaming at me
4:55 p.m. the friend who got me thinking about egg nog texts again
5:05 p.m. more random YouTube. I might be getting hungry.
5:30 p.m. M texts to check on me, inquiring about my oxygen stats. Asks about my fatigue and joints.
5:35 p.m. teenager two comes to ask if I have dirty dishes (I don’t) and makes me a fresh cup of tea
5:50 p.m. Gayle texts. The video I posted to YouTube earlier has reassured everyone that I am recovering.
6:15 p.m. suddenly remembered I never updated the bios for my foster kittens to post online
7:15 p.m. brief text with M— as he is a medical technologist I asked him if the virus starts by attacking the weaknesses I already had in my body. He replied that I have “an excellent understanding of virology.” I also realize that except for tired, I felt normal going down to make my dinner.
7: 20 p.m. my neighbor in the other half of my house texts. The Covid test she got yesterday since I made her coffee earlier this week came back negative. Lots of friends texting all at the same time.
7:25 p.m. teenager #1 comes to visit. She plays with Nala-bird.
7:35 p.m. a crash downstairs. Teenager goes to investigate— Vale goes with her.
7:40 p.m. Teenager brings Vale back. I think I hear my neighbor’s car. Nope. But apparently this is what I do now.
7:45 p.m. I think I might have hives. I’ve been noticing them all day but now I’m seeing them instead of feeling itchy. Suddenly I have a coughing fit.
This is my last weekend before starting a full time position as a retail warehouse associate at Stitch Fix. It sounds similar to what I used to do at Target, but without people and more walking.
I’ve read some online reviews and exchanged some texts with some Target folks who also went to Stitch Fix and my concerns are two-fold:
Can this forty-something body with cerebral palsy handle being on my feet walking more than 12 miles a day?
Can I survive on the pay?
But one positive is that the extra steps should help me get my weight under control and increase my fitness fortitude.
Or so I hope.
My accident was a week ago and I’m starting to think that I didn’t hurt my rib but instead really did “pull my boob” as in manage to pull the muscle that supports my right breast. I’m tired of being in pain.
Okay, enough whining.
The day started with a strong cup of coffee shared with my cockatoo, Nala. (YouTube Video: Coffee Time)
And then I heard a ruckus and thought the cats were fighting. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Fog had caught himself a mouse. (YouTube video: Mouse Adventures)
My mom stopped by this morning and transplanted the snake plant that the kittens destroyed. Then Mom and I went to Lidl where I not only got croissants to go with my delectable quince jelly, but I got discounted naan and lots of seltzer. In new flavors! Yes, Lidl has new flavors of seltzer including grapefruit.
I did lots of dishes, vacuumed the downstairs and my room (the roomba is functioning great now that I cleaned it, and washed the dining room and living room floors.
In between these tasks, I cuddled kittens and watched Car Masters: From Rust to Riches on Netflix.
In the last three days, I’ve managed to watch both seasons of this program. I love cars. My dad was a diesel mechanic and truck driver for much of my childhood. He can fix anything and I have a certain admiration and attraction to people who can fix things.
I’ve had the same cell phone number since 1998 because my dad gave me an old 1984 Ford Escort whose carburateur would flood and leave me stranded with every rain storm.
Some of my favorite memories are of watching my father work.
I recommend the reality series Rust to Riches — it features some serious strategy in building some amazing cars and also has more drama than one might expect.
The people who staff Gotham Garage in California include a woman who specializes in motors and knows classic muscle cars.
I made the teenagers a cheap knock off of seafood Alfredo for dinner.
And now the teens are playing Monopoly with a friend downstairs.
Tomorrow I will be getting a facial at Lucha Bella, hopefully making a trip to the Dollar Tree and taking the foster kittens, all seven of them, for shots.
It’s time for an update on What Angel is Watching. Other than foster kittens. I watch them eat, I watch them sleep, I watch them look at me suspiciously. The Roman Pride kittens ate THREE cans of cat food in front of me today. For breakfast.
They must be going through a growth spurt.
So, even though I am job hunting and now have four volunteer responsibilities (foster kitten mom for FURR, communications director for ASPIRE to Autonomy, trustee at my local library and now member of the drug and alcohol board at the county level… and an informal member of the social justice committee at the YWCA of Bethlehem… so maybe 5…) and have two teen girls at home who also participate in marching band, I occasionally have time to watch some programming usually while folding laundry or late at night waiting for the dishwasher to finish.
This is what I have recently watched or tried to watch:
The Social Dilemma — I already came to the conclusion that Netflix makes boring documentaries. This one is no exception. Well, except maybe they finally have watched some of their own documentaries and know how truly dull they are. I say this because they added a dramatization of a fake family to demonstrate their point and made some elaborate “Matrix” vibe scenes when discussing the effects of social media. It makes the awkward sensation of watching a Netflix documentary even more uncomfortable. The content of course is good, but if you hadn’t thought about how social media manipulates you and your life, well you must either be one of the brainwashed masses or live off-the-grid.
The Kitten Lady— since we work with feral kittens, we’ve been watching The Kitten Lady on YouTube to gather some new techniques on socializing our fosters.
Jackson Galaxy/Cat Mojo— Another YouTube personality with more cat information. Both of these people are a little vibrant and off-kilter.
Diana: In her Own Words— Another slow-paced Netflix documentary I didn’t finish. This documentary uses recordings of interviews done with the princess in secret. Fascinating and compelling topic but dry in execution.
Fight the New Drug (Human Trafficking stories)— These 5-10 minute videos were recommended on YouTube and I enjoyed their presentation, though the content is sad. I didn’t research the organization to see how they put together these shorts.
Real Families: Thalidomide Disaster Survivors Share their Fight to Get Justice— This is a feature-length documentary on YouTube about the Thalidomide babies of the early Sixties. I found it much better done than anything on Netflix.
I tend to watch TV while doing chores or when resting between fatiguing tasks. I often watch TV on my iPad when putting Nala (my Goffin’s cockatoo) to bed.
I recently finished The Crown on Netflix which fed my love of history to my writer’s mind. When I work with historical documents in my academic work, I often imagine the lives in the text.
Though I do find it… awkward that they made a television series about living royals. Then I realized— it’s Queen Elizabeth’s coming of age story.
I recently watched Free Form’s Motherland: Fort Salem, which is an alternative history, a coming of age story and in my opinion— a political drama. There are heavy ethical questions in every episode even if the plot lines seem predictably anti-cliche.
And I find it difficult to extend my “willing suspension of disbelief” to accept that witches would call a truce with the Church and State and would serve as a conscript military.
And the magic is better than Harry Potter, and the technical aspects of it are done off screen though I don’t like that the magic is mostly vocal.
But I’m very anxious to know what happens next.
Speaking of coming of age stories, I also watched the French film Mignonnes (Cuties) that is trending on Netflix. Of course, the mainstream American discussion focuses on the objectifying and sexualisation of young girls.
The main character (Ami/Aminata) is French of Muslim descent hailing from Senegal. So her grandparents and community elders speak Wolof and she is black.
Traditionally, Muslims came to France as part of the African colonial legacy. Muslims struggle with their identity and acceptance in France— regardless of racial background.
So I immediately saw how all the kids from the French projects bonded through dance even if that dance was suggestive. The fat French girl, the Latina French girl who ironed her hair, the blonde and white French girl, the black French girl and, yes, the African Muslim French girl.
This was a story of the universality or growing up in a technology rich world as a poor female. And trying to find your place and a way “out” of difficult socio-economic places.
A very different coming of age story— offering a very different time and place— was Crip Camp on Netflix. I notice Netflix documentaries made by Netflix are often merely interviews and footage randomly strung together and as such rather boring.
Finally, I’m dying to watch a final documentary, and to some Jersey kids of the 1980s it might also be a coming of age story, Class Action Park. It’s currently on HBOMax and I am considering getting a trial so I can watch it.
Action Park was an amusement park in New Jersey with such crazy rides no one would insure them. Some of my friends used to go. I vividly remember the commercials.
“There eyes remind us that the challenge is still there.”
Lily Tomlin talking about Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in “Gentleman Prefer Blondes.”
So many women. So many epiphanies. So many stories.
“They look free. You want to be like them. You want to do you.”
The word feminist is being replaced by specific struggles— equal pay, equal representation in film.
So many reminders that too many people are still not respected for who they are. So many things that have not changed.
Jane Fonda stating decades ago that a healthy society should be in perpetual change. Jane Fonda today. She talks about herself being “active” and “masculine,” because if you want to be a success, you have to be a boy.
But there is a power in being female— the activists say. Yet, your role as a female is to watch the boys.
Sometimes you have to reject what the world says, and trust your own experience.
And these women featured here had a broad range of experience in major 20th century events… McCarthyism. The Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima. Immigration. Civil Rights and Civil Disobedience.
Women tend to be the peacekeepers. Women understand the larger picture and the fabric of how it all interacts.
Oppression of women rooted in religion.
These women have so many important messages but they are strung together with a stream of consciousness thread that make it difficult to watch for more than a few minutes.
Yet many of the messages are deeply powerful. But like the “Becoming Jane Roe” documentary, it’s a tad dull.
I made it through 30 minutes, which makes me sad, because they have such good things to say.
The best stories start with “it began as a typical day,” but in this case it did not.
The teenager turned 16 on Tuesday and my employer had scheduled our annual meeting for Tuesday so I planned to take off today and tomorrow to celebrate with my offspring.
With Coronavirus changing everything I could have taken Monday and Tuesday instead.
Last night, I curled up in bed with a gin cocktail and watched some more of Harlan Coben’s: The Five on Netflix. (Mini review: my friend, brow maintenance person and nail tech Beth recommended the show—and I am enjoying what I feel is edgy cinematography, rapid paced story telling, complex writing, and realistically complicated and tragic characters. It’s like watching a comic book.)
So I got to bed later than I normally do and I slept a little better than I normally do. I fed the kittens, made coffee, started laundry and finagled a cake carrier into the dishwasher.
After a cup of my favorite Archer Farms Direct Trade Cafe Mosaica from Target on my breezy enclosed sun porch, I slapped some clothes on… and ended up trying to accessorize a basic outfit.
Which is funny because I was going to pick up Nan, who is blind and won’t see my efforts anyway.
And then I was surprised to find out that the teenager made me breakfast— a mini bagel with greens, cucumber and fresh bacon.
After we worked on some poetry, Nan and I went to Lidl. And I took her home.
When I arrived home, the teenager informed me that her plan for today involved not wearing pants. So after a brief respite, I went to Wendy’s for a Frosty-ccino.
That was when the real adventure began.
I decided to take Nala, my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined the family in January. Now, recently we took Nala to Dunkin Donuts to try hash browns and that went well.
So I ordered my Frosty-ccino and a junior fry for my baby girl bird on the mobile app and got into the drive thru lane. And then I did what we all do in this day and age. I took a selfie.
That’s when I realized Nala had pooped on me in fear. And I had no wipes in the car. Green bird droppings now stained my white t-shirt and Nala was walking in the mess.
But everyone in the drive thru window loved her— three employees cooed at her from afar.
I pulled into a parking space and offered her a French fry and she was too scared to eat it. I drove her home, put the car in the garage, gathered the waste and the food and started up toward the house.
Now, the teenager’s father moved some heavy original doors from the house across the garage so he could use my great grandmother’s hutch in his apartment. He did this a couple week’s ago. The doors block a portion of the stairs.
I got tangled up on the stairs/with the doors and fell, to the left onto the doors to avoid smashing Nala who was on my right shoulder.
I almost spilled my coffee and French fries fluttered like hail.
But luckily Nala is a bird, and a forager, so she doesn’t mind a little dirt. I gather them all carefully and climb up from the floor, some contusions and cuts causing minor pain.
I bump the doors and they almost fall on me. This time the French fries scatter to the four winds.
I notice how much blood and dirt cover me and I head inside to discover Nala has pooped even more.
I set her down.
I remove my shirt. White tee shirt. Vivid blood. Green poop.
I wash up and count my blessings— I was very close (too close) to breaking an arm.
I put on my lucky shirt once I cleaned up.
Addendum: I posted this link on my LinkedIn profile and wrote this introduction as to why I felt this piece was important especially as part of a discourse on social justice.
I don’t like to admit I have a disability— #cerebralpalsy. But it’s important to note that with all the stereotypes and institutionalized ideas people have about “others,” whether other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, identities, educational or social class (the list goes on and on), for those of us who have tried to “pass” as “normal” or “mainstream,” our experience is difficult. As all life is difficult to one degree or another. But if you are obviously “different” and you can’t “pass,” those notions of who you are based on quick judgments can be catastrophic. Or lead to people doing harm to you or someone you love. #blacklivesmatter
In that context, allow me to share with you what a typical day looks like for me. Warning— I end up bleeding by the end of it. Different isn’t inferior. Or threatening.