A glimpse into the addict brain

Today I had a great session at the gym, working with Dan at Apex Training. Dan wanted to isolate my right leg and try to alleviate some of the stiffness and difficulty I have had recently.

I felt amazing while working out with Dan, but as soon as I left the gym for my walk home, my troubles returned.

When I arrived at work, my supervisor stopped by. I told her it remained to be seen how the night would go. So I after the first two hours, I was a little behind. By meal, I was at 61– I should have been at 65. That’s not horrible but my numbers were in decline.

So I mentioned it to a lead.

And started the second half of the night with a refix cart.

This allowed me to pack my boxes with less twisting, and I was optimistic. I had gone into the lavatory and covered my back and leg with the CBD cream.

When I was working with the refix cart, my times improved, but the QC support staff starting bringing me regular carts. A lead had told me where to find more refixes, but what is the point of trying to improve my time and then having to load my own cart?

So I did the regular carts.

The pain returned 10 times over as the wonderful Charlotte’s Web Cream wore off. It seems to last about two hours.

After what I experienced tonight, I feel like I had a glimpse inside an addict’s mind.

When the cream lost its potency, the pain was insane and left me crying at my station. I wanted it to stop. I imagined reapplying the cream to relieve my pain.

Is that what it’s like to need a fix?

I didn’t mean to take this photo, but it’s pretty.

Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy at midnight

When I got home, I showered and applied CBD Medic Arthritis and poured myself a cocktail. That stuff is way stronger than the other cream.

Update later.

Opinion: Representation of Aspergers in Season Two of Chicago Med

When Grey’s Anatomy first came out, I gave it a chance— but the amount of gratuitous sex made it realize very quickly it was a medical soap opera. I’ve watched a couple seasons, but the characters always seemed immature and the medical side of the show seemed superfluous to the plot.

I loved ER, but only made it through season 11 or 12. This was before the Netflix days. But still my favorite medical drama was House MD because of the quirky central character and the difficulties the rest of the ensemble cast had dealing with him.

One of these days I should make a list of the medical dramas I have watched over the years and revisit some of them to share what I like about them.

But my current show of choice is Chicago Med, but I am losing patience with it as I fear the writers are “jumping the shark” more with every season.

The first season did a great job of establishing a wide range of characters from a wide variety of backgrounds.

And in season two, the writers introduced a new heart surgeon— a Black and (Orthodox) Jewish gentleman by the name of Dr. Latham.

As soon as the regular cast began to interact with him, I suspected he had Aspergers. He portrayed a certain type of rationality and difficulty with emotions and reading others. His approach to surgery was very routine based.

I liked the character— a lot. And he discovered his Aspergers with the help of the psychiatric staff at the hospital (which as a doctor I think he would have realized it before) but to see him digest this news was very rewarding.

But then he wanted treatments. And that upset me. Aspergers made him a great surgeon and a unique character. But because he lacked empathy with distraught patients and the nurses said he “creeped out” families, he wanted to, pardon my use of the expression, see how the other half lives.

And the treatments started to work. And I hated it. I hated the notion that a doctor was perpetuating the idea that people who are non-mainstream need to be fixed.

Fuck that.

I’m not going to say anything more, because spoilers, but let’s just say by season 3 Dr. Latham’s Aspergers was forgotten and he contributes a valuable perspective to the show. And PS— in a mass casualty event, he rocks it with triage.

The show in Season 3 had a compelling storyline with Dr. Reese’s estranged father, which started as a really good dip into psychiatric issues, but then went over the top in not one but at least two ways. I hated the outcome.

And now in Season 4, I am seeing two storyline develop that feel more crime drama than medical and that’s not what I signed up to watch.

So now it’s a question of do I finish the show or abandon it?

Why I canceled Silk & Sonder despite amazing customer service and a quality product

I subscribed to Silk & Sonder in May, a birthday present to myself.

Read about my previous experiences and thoughts here: Silk & Sonder blog posts

Silk & Sonder unboxings:

August

May

After working out some delivery issues with customer service, I loved this product. But as lives go, mine got busy and I started using my journaling time as workout time and have been unable to find a time where I am rested enough and still enough to benefit from these activities.

Each month more and more of the planner remains blank because I can’t keep up— and that stresses me out.

I think I can incorporate some of the items I really like— monthly mood and habit trackers— into my current journaling practice.

But I would love if Silk & Sonder developed an annual planner that would allow exploration of this topics without feeling like I’m starting the over every month.

And as my life gets busier, making sure my paper planner and my phone calendar match has been exceedingly difficult.

Some cats, some ramen, learning the “mailer machine” and more about childhood trauma and imposter syndrome

First, the cat picture of the day.

Misty and Oz, two of our cats

Next, let’s briefly do a Purple Carrot Update. Today I prepped the matcha overnight oats and made the ramen bowl. (Video of matcha prep here.)

The teenager vetoed the homemade miso broth and fresh ramen.

I had the leftover black pepper tofu for dinner and it was soooooooo good, even leftover.

And most Purple Carrot meals take 30 minutes to prepare, which in my kitchen has been translating to 40 minutes. Much better than the cooking marathon caused when a Hello Fresh box comes.

But now to the Bizzy Hizzy. I finally learned the “mailer machine.” It’s a folding machine. We used it to fold the postal service priority mailers that go in each fix.

We had trouble getting the machine to work— so we didn’t really get started until after first break. We folded 4401 mailers.

Basically we unpack the mailers, sort them so they are less likely to jam the machine, and feed/empty the machine. There is a zen to lining up the mailers on the rolling machine, fanning them and making sure they don’t curl.

I was sent to the mailer machine as part of Stitch Fix’s quest to know what tasks I perform best. I perform regularly at 96% in QC but unfortunately when I have bad day that plummets to 85-90%. They raised the pick goal so I only do 75% of that. Apparently I have shown both potential and inconsistency in inbound processing and returns. I apparently tanked in style carding (66%) which I would like to believe was a fluke but maybe not. And a shocking 29% in NAP binning. It was shoes. And it was very painful.

I’m told they want everyone to have two work centers they can perform 100%.

So now I’m at the mailer machine.

If I’m honest with you, and it is very hard for me to say this in public, what I hear is: “You’re not good enough for us, so since you suck at everything, let’s stick you on this machine back in the corner.”

I feel threatened. And like a failure.

And that is not what they said. At all.

But I have a disability that makes me insecure and makes me feel inferior, unworthy. And certain childhood traumas leave me feeling unwanted, and as if I am a burden to everyone.

So I am being honest. For one reason. In case someone else is fighting a similar battle and needs to know he/she/they are not alone.

Summer Reading Review: Karamo, My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing & Hope

My daughter and I used to binge-watch the reboot of Queer Eye on Netflix— she loved the home makeovers, Bobby’s energy and style; we both loved Antoni and the food. Tan was adorable. And Jonathon is just a lovable force. And then there was Karamo, orchestrating something not quite identifiable as “culture expert.”

When his memoir, Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing & Hope came out (pun?) in 2019, Karamo Brown visited Lafayette College. The teenager’s father had him autograph a book for her and we excitedly attended a public lecture he gave on campus that night.

Almost two full years later, I finally finished the book.

I have recently resumed reading in general so the fault does not lie with Karamo.

The book is light, simple in phrase, and mimics Karamo’s speech.

It’s a coming of age story. It’s the experience of a Black gay man, son of immigrant parents, struggling to find himself, share his voice and help people.

He has handled so many situations others know well— issues of addiction, relationships, family, sex, parenting. He spent so long yearning to reach out into the world that he nearly self-destructed in the process.

He’s very respectful of other people, only talking about himself— not violating the privacy of his kids, his extended family or fiancé. He doesn’t share glorifying tales of his wild boy days, focusing instead of why he was behaving that way and what he learned.

He structures the chapters not chronologically but thematically which makes it easy to understand the building blocks of who he is and how he came to be.

And even before George Floyd and #BlackLivesMatter, he begged us as a society to listen to each other and be kind.

Invisible: At the intersection of disability and childhood trauma

Author’s Note: This is the next in a series I tend to run indefinitely on my quest to understand my mind, body and disability and how they interact as I age.

Also: This post is merely me pondering “out loud” and based on my experience. I might be completely wrong with some of my ideas. That is why I consider this a quest and not something I can answer with a quick internet search or “Hey, Siri” request.

Finally, please understand that I am hesitate to discuss this topic as I don’t want my family members to be hurt or feel responsible. Especially my parents. My parents have some wonderful qualities and their flaws because they are, after all, human beings. My parents experienced their own hardships and traumas and they have both dealt with issues with their own parents, alcoholism, etc. Plus, my childhood encompassed much of the 1980s and they were young adults in the seventies. The world, as they say, was different.

As I have mentioned in early posts, disabled children of my generation and the one prior were the first to escape institutionalization or being kept hidden away at home.

Many parents of disabled children (like Marie Killilea of the Karen books) focused on raising their children to master independence and to “pass” as normal when possible. This can lead to a desire to not call attention to oneself and in many cases avoiding (instead of attempting) activities where our difficulties become obvious.

Instead of talking about our ailment(s), we try to fit in and not be a burden. We want to seem worthy of our place in a society where if the conversation turns to eugenics, we’ll, we’d be the first people edited out of existence.

But add childhood trauma to this mix and I wonder, do disabled people with this type of trauma exponentially feel more of a need to be invisible?

Mommy and Daddy have trouble getting along and sometimes hit each other when Daddy gets home from the bar— I don’t want to be another problem for them.

Am I a victim of sexual misconduct because I was a good kid who would listen to her elders or because I was already broken?

No one wants to see me cry. They get upset when I fall down and cry. Mommy teaches me to laugh when I fall. Does this cheapen the legitimacy of the pain, the bumps and bruises.

None of my childhood trauma happened because I have a disability, but it’s another truth no one wants to talk about.

All good thoughts to ponder.

Update on Silk & Sonder: Wheel of Life reflection and July’s courage theme

I ordered my first Silk & Sonder planner in May as a birthday present for myself. My June one got held up at the post office so July marks the first month I could fully use the planner to, uh, plan.

(To read about my previous Silk & Sonder experiences and their amazing customer service:

This month I have done less of the exercises, read less of the text and gave it less of my attention. Yet, I think the habit has rooted in making me deliberately cognizant of my routines and needs.

I’ve been slipping with making and tracking clear weekly goals for my mini habit trackers, and I don’t always fill out “one thing” or the weather, but I like seeing the monthly tracker as a method to chronicle what vitamins I take and studying the patterns of color on the mood page.

My friend and publishing partner Gayle mentioned last month that she had did a “wheel of life” exercise and in July’s courage-themed wellness planner I found the same exercise.

I was surprised by the results and what they show about me. My highest satisfaction level was in the adventure category. I thought about my travels, my fondness for road trips, my love of new cuisines and testing new restaurants. I love reading books about new topics, learning new skills, and stepping outside my ordinary routine.

My lowest rating fell in the relationships category. That’s where my biggest insecurity lies. I have troubling opening up and even more trouble trusting though I will answer any question you ask me. I’m fiercely loyal and very generous but can also be stubborn, brutal with my honesty and frugal. So with my frequent dips in self worth (probably the result of childhood trauma and life with a disability), I can be distant because I fear being left behind. The people I love and/or trust most are often the ones who are cruelest to me.

Meanwhile, education seems misleading because even though I have two bachelors and a quarter of the work done on a masters degree, I really want a Ph.D. in African Studies. And if I’m honest an MFA in creative writing. I want to learn everything and share what I learn with everyone through my writing.

Romance and family present themselves as areas of struggle. But I’m strong in my spirituality, finances and home environment probably because those are the silos of my life where I feel in control.

Health and Career are mediocre, but I do not strive to have a career.

I value my freedom and living more than my career. I have no desire to make my mark on the universe through my career.

All the Things

I don’t know whether I should apologize, explain my absence or dive right into this messy, stream of consciousness blog entry. Nothing new is happening but so many little things have brought joy to my life.

I had a great week at the Bizzy Hizzy. I spent most of my week in QC, and I hit 80% of the daily production metric except for one day when I hit 90 percent. But I just can’t seem to replicate that success. Last night I was in receiving inbound processing where I unboxed and received a pallet which included Democracy Jeans and Market and Spruce shirts. I caught a mix-up in tags. And I met a young man whose name is an abbreviated form of Jesus’ Angel because he was born three months premature as I was.

A few nights ago, I was listening to a podcast, probably Mayim Bailik’s Breakdown. They were discussing the ACE Childhood Trauma Test. So I took it. That was a mistake. It made me think about a lot of things— my past, my mental health, my relationships. I didn’t expect the results and I suppose in a way it was profound.

But as much as life may have had some dark spots, the foster cats sure bring joy. Hermes of the Greek Pride is already starting to bound with his new dad. (And even broke something expensive.) Louise the Tripod had a meet and greet with someone interested in adding a new cat to their household. And Parker and Extra Crunchy of ten little kittens are now playing and acting cat-like. Even Touch of Grey seems cheerful.

Evening with Louise

Videos:

Parker and Extra Crunchy

Touch of Grey

I picked up my new glasses, replacing my previous pair. I have abandoned my sexy librarian look and regained depth perception.

New glasses

On another podcast, I heard a host discuss someone who wrote a memoir from her 20 journals. What a joke! He said 20 as if that number is impressive. I have been journaling for 30 years! I lost count after 100 volumes.

Speaking of journals, I splurged on a Silk and Sonder self-care planner/journal. It’s a monthly subscription and I am already anxious that it will stress me out. My regular journal is more or less a bullet journal now. I think another book that requires a daily check in might not be worth the pressure. And it’s $20/month. That seems expensive. More to come. Including unboxing and review.

Speaking of unboxing, I bought myself a Lite Brite in a moment of nostalgia. #NoRegrets

Video: Unboxing my Lite Brite

The copyrights for my novels so as soon as they return from the proofreader we can start production and get Parisian Phoenix off the ground. Expect my novels hopefully this summer!

And if you miss my Goffin’s cockatoo Naughty Nala, she was in a mood today! Video: Nala steals my underwear

My neighbor let me know I appeared in Lisa Boscola’s newsletter for my role in delivering her public service award given by ASPIRE to Autonomy.

And last in a long line of rambling, I reviewed the Dunkin Double Coconut Macchiato: Video Here

What can I say? It’s real life.

Friday was a good day.

I (and teenager #1) started the day receiving our newest foster cat, Touch of Grey.

So, here’s the thing about cats. Dogs are lovable, forgiving and devoted. They want acceptance, love, and structure. Cats don’t forgive. They are more aloof and nervous and neurotic.

The same cat— example: Touch of Grey— will react strongly in different environments and will remember whatever you do to “wrong” them. She is approximately four years old, FURR had her spayed. She is a newer addition, an owner surrender because of a move.

She has had a couple other placements. She seems happy here. Cats really a lot on body language to communicate. Her signals are very strong. If you heed those warnings, life is good.

I haven’t seen her bitchy side yet, but others at the rescue have. I don’t relish the day I have to crate her.

But this is her a few minutes after we spent our first time together: Play with Grey

At 10:30 I had my regular chiropractor appointment at Back in Line Wellness Center with Dr. Nicole Jensen. For the first time in ages, I was pretty much level and because I haven’t been dealing with constant pain she was able to stretch out my hips more than ever before.

And Thursday night, I reached a new career personal best at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I QC’ed 116 fixes.

When I arrived at work Friday night, I felt powerful and amazing. I looked forward to knocking out the shift and getting my nails done in the morning. My favorite nurse, my favorite QC/Style Card peer and I started talking about places open late at night, Waffle House, and potentially going out one night after work. Am I making new friends?

Even if nothing else comes from it, it felt good to be included in the discussion as a newer employee and in the Covid age.

Maybe I got a little cocky with the universe, because within a few minutes at my QC station, I moved wrong and post my chiropractic adjustment my body just said “nope.” I spent the rest of the night in pain. At about 4-5.

There’s someone at work who physically reminds me of a friend whom I’ve not seen in a while. That was bothering me. Not that the person can control their appearance.

And we had these new stickers that made the night chaotic.

To counter some of the chaos, the leaders hosted a “power hour.” This meant the different QC valleys would compete to see who could get the most work done in the hour. They blasted 80s music throughout the warehouse.

I knew every word to every song. And I didn’t even remember the songs. Isn’t that funny the way that happens? A lot of the music brought me back to childhood, and to middle school, and different events of the past. The emotional fugue dulled my senses.

The music included the song Elvira by The Oak Ridge Boys. That song, and I am sharing this video from a Grammy performance in 1982 (Elvira), used to be a favorite on the jukebox in every bar my parents used to frequent. I think the experience tapped my feelings of helplessness.

Between the pain and the new stickers, I only QC’ed 99 fixes. Though I did speed up as the night went on.

But then I got home— cuddled the dog, laughed at some comedy, made Mac and cheese. All is good.

Ironing out the anxieties

Today’s blog post will ramble through my everyday activities as they often do, but I will also attempt to show how attitude, reaching out and communication can overcome life’s anxieties.

First thing this morning I saw a post from my new-ish internet friend Fausta advertising her one day free seminar on Zoom covering Mindful Self-Compassion.

We were on our way out the door first thing this morning, teenager #1 and I, to take our kitty cat osteosarcoma survivor, Opie, to a new vet, Canyon River Run, to have the lump on his neck checked.

Although in the pandemic era, we only met the vet tech, teenager #1 and I were very pleased with their service and demeanors. The prices were reasonable, too. They even called my former vet’s office (Wright’s Veterinary in Bethlehem) when I didn’t have Opie’s most up to date shots.

The vet reported that in her opinion the lump of his neck is not cancer as it is clearly in the skin and not deeper. I have to follow up because the verbal report relayed to me said it would need to be surgically removed but I don’t know if it would be a cosmetic one or a diagnostic tool to confirm her opinion.

That was the first of several anxieties addressed.

On a side note, I tried the cold brew at Wendy’s. It was quite delightful. Strong but not too bitter.

I also contacted Bird Mania, the establishment where I acquired Nala, to sow them our new photos. (They approved, Joan.) I hope to take my four baby budgies to them tomorrow as they should be young enough to hand tame and rehome.

My bird overpopulation is another anxiety addressed. Though catching and surrendering my chicks is another.

The teenagers had some issues last night, some of which remind me of college roommate situations. We shall work it all out, but since the vet took longer than I anticipated and I worked a 10-hour shift last night, my phone battery was down to 15% as the conversations continued throughout the night. I’m glad we all started a conversation about it as that’s really the only way we can initiate a solution.

Before all this started, on my first of several 10-minute breaks last night, I used my pick Chromebook to request a late start next week for Fausta’s seminar. That’s when I also noticed one of my supervisors had sent me an email requesting my presence for a chat.

Later that night. New anxiety. In several of my previous work environments, meetings never meant anything positive.

My final break came. My meeting with the leaders was 10:15 p.m. Break was 10 to 10:10 p.m. I wasn’t sure what to do with that five minutes. So, me being me, I returned to QC and folded one more fix before leaving my table at 10:15.

It turns out that my “chat” was to check in about how I’d been doing split between QC and pick. And to announce that as of Monday, they would test changing my basic schedule to move between pick and QC in a regular fashion, starting the “morning” (I assume this means the first half of my shift as we start at 3:30 p.m.) in pick and moving to QC later.

We talked a bit about numbers and strategies and once again, as I have mentioned to other leaders, I reiterated that I know I will never be the fastest though I know I will grow more efficient. I try to make up for my lack of speed and natural dexterity by being dependable and flexible and finding ways to work smarter. I also pointed out that while I haven’t hit the best metrics, my metrics are consistent.

“Can we clone you?” one leader asked.

Finally, I bought some clothes at the Stitch Fix Employee Store. I wasn’t going to visit the store this time around, but in the end my issue with ill-fitting and disappearing clothes urged me onward.

The store has been open almost two weeks so there is not much left. And some of the things I most wanted weren’t available. I wanted jeans as I’m still not thin enough to fit in my size four wardrobe from the pre-Corona days but the hand-me-down size eights are getting too baggy.

I also wanted nice t-shirts. Everything I own appears to be sleeveless or shapeless.

As Joan the photographer reported when she got her first Stitch Fix box, the Democracy Jeans are comfortable but the zippers-for-pretty get caught on everything. These are beige camo, not a print I wanted. I didn’t want a print at all. They are skinny cut, not my favorite cut either. And they are too long for me, which makes them very wrinkled.

The Michael Stars top is amazing, fits great, looks very feminine and so comfortable. And I feared it would be too big.

Finally, the yoga top/lazy woman’s sports bra thing from Free People movement actually holds everything in like a sports bra but looks really cute. It retails for $30 which is insane. But I’m a forty-something woman who is very surprised this skimpy top works for me.