Overextended: Update on the Boring Stuff

This weekend was a strange blend of trying to catch up, trying to get ahead and trying to touch base with friends I haven’t seen in a while.

Love Boat

Bill Prystauk (the author of the Kink Noir book series) took the teenager and I to Jasmine for sushi and sashimi. We had a love boat where I tried and enjoyed sashimi for the first time: white tuna, salmon and some clam thing that tasted like a seafood gummy bear.

This week I have a commitment every morning and the Bizzy Hizzy every night. I don’t anticipate voluntary time off because the warehouse won’t have computers on August 2 so that will be another 3-day weekend.

The FURR Pop Up Cat Café is reaching some critical mass as FURR volunteers get more involved and excited. Tomorrow I have a 7:45 phone conversation scheduled with my cat foster godmother and an event planning meeting at 9 will Janel. Still no update on a coffee provider… I’m getting nervous.

But Joan Z agreed to take photos, Gayle is helping design some games.

Then at 10, I’ll be meeting Nan. And at 1, I’ll cook lunch and get ready for my Stitch Fix shift.

This week, I have two training sessions with Dan at Apex Training. Tuesday and Friday. As part of my recovery after these workouts, these might be my main days to do my edits and proofs on the final file for Manipulations. Official launch date is September 11.

Wednesday I visit the chiropractor (and I can’t wait to see what she thinks about my new fitness routine) and Thursday I see my primary care physicians and his residents about my anemia.

I mention all of this because these are the weeks when one has to focus on food prep, proper rest and activities to maintain mental balance.

So we shall see.

My Five Minutes of LinkedIn Fame

I was scrolling LinkedIn a few days ago and one of the alumni career development personnel at Lafayette College (Margie Cherry) shared a post about older workers leaving jobs in the pandemic.

Last night, at the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse, my phone started buzzing with notifications that people liked my comment.

So I thought Lafayette College alumni were seeing it. I thought “wow! That’s 250 people.”

This morning I get a message from Margie— “your comment was featured on LinkedIn News.”

What?

Sure enough…

I suppose I’ve just typecast myself as an “older worker.”

But it’s so nice to read the comments and replies. Lots of people are reconsidering the value of work-life balance and lower stress jobs.

The Doodle Box: Celebrating Joy, Friendship and Playfulness at the Bizzy Hizzy

Deep thanks to the doodling diva Gayle for sharing her talent with me

Stitch Fix is a strange place to work— of course, as a warehouse job it is highly metrics driven and monotonous but the environment encourages “authentic self” as the voice of every member of the team.

We don’t even have a human resource department. We have a “people and culture” team. So traditional HR is referred to as P&C in Stitch Fix jargon.

My therapist had to pause and ponder that one.

But thanks to Covid, each employee has their own “processing box” as we are discouraged from sharing tools. Every person gets a tagging gun, a box cutter, scissors, a lint brush, and this odd little sponge. The box itself is a discarded A6 envelope box from style carding.

And some people, if they gather more tools, graduate to a shoe box.

I asked Gayle to decorate mine as my attempt to adorn mine with stickers failed. My new box attracted much admiration and makes me happy as I gaze upon it.

After the Fall: When the Work Place Treats You as a Person

Last night, after my fall on Monday, I returned to work at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I was assigned to receiving NAP (non-apparel), specifically binning shoes.

I’ve come to the conclusion that most jobs at the Bizzy Hizzy are mind-numbingly boring when you first do them, until you develop a rhythm and master the task.

Shoes go on the bottom shelves in NAP so you get a little stool on wheels and get to scoot around on that, getting up every 30 minutes or so to refill a cloth tote/cart (like you see in a laundry facility) with more shoes.

Sitting on the stool kills me— my back doesn’t like it and by the end of the night by butt hurts. But like anything, eventually you find ways to get used to it.

I get so sick of the same old tank tops last night I wanted to wear my Goth troll doll t-shirt. It comes exactly to the waist of my Stitch Fix Gaiam yoga pants, so it should be fine when measured against the no crop top rule. But to be safe I layered a longer shirt under it.

I think I binned almost 800 pairs of shoes. The section was packed pretty tight.

The first thing I had to do upon arrival was grab a pallet jack and move a cardboard gaylord of processed shoes across the warehouse from inbound receiving to NAP. Now the teenager’s father spent most of his career as a shipper/receiver so I’ve heard a lot about the utility of pallet jacks but I’ve never used one.

And Stitch Fix uses primarily plastic pallets so they are lighter than wooden ones.

And I did it. And texted my family excitedly. To which I received this text from the teenager:

“Oh my, that’s cool. And who TF let your beat up ass use a pallet jack? ‘“She can’t handle her own two feet… here’s a pallet.’”

The 17-year-old

I cackled in the middle of the warehouse as Siri read that one to me.

Somewhere in the second half of the night, I had the opportunity to relay this to my shift supervisor who stopped by to check on me. I respect this woman, did almost instantly. Not sure why— probably mostly because of how she dresses and carries herself.

(And she is a Stitch Fix client and wears a lot of Stitch Fix clothes.) Personally, I like when people visibly support the company’s that employ them. I feel it’s good for morale.

We had a chuckle about the pallet Jack comment. I showed her the damage on my shoulder (and she winced). I shrugged it off as no big deal and told her it was part of my life. Then she said something that touched me:

I’m sorry that you have to experience that.

Some of my wounds

She talked about her struggles getting her mom to advocate for her health as she gets older, and that she hopes I’m a good advocate for myself and that as I grow older I listen to my daughter.

I hope so, too.

After final break, my immediate supervisor stopped to see me. She also asked how I was and winced when I showed her some of my scabs.

These exchanges made me feel valued as a person. While Stitch Fix as a company is driven by metrics, which they have to be, I’ve found that at least in my nine months at the Bizzy Hizzy, the culture tries to make people feel respected and appreciated as individuals and part of the team.

Speaking of the team, the Bizzy Hizzy has frozen hiring on day shift so growth will now focus on second shift (“midnight society”). My supervisor and I discussed this briefly and I said I hope this doesn’t change the culture of our shift. We’re closer, more versatile and have more fun than day shift.

Because the team is cross-trained and understands each other’s jobs, I feel like that improves our ability to work together efficiently. Because we’re a fraction of the size of day shift, we know each other and really focus on goals.

I don’t want that to change.

Style Cards and the Soothing Sorting

Since starting work at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, my fascination for the company has not waned. When they began more than ten years ago, I remember reading about them in Vogue — they were the first subscription fashion service and how I wished to have the income to do something like that.

Subscription boxes were brand new then.

Now that I work in the warehouse I still marvel: at the miles and miles of clothes, number of clients, years customers have spent with the service, and the volume of mail in and out of that warehouse everyday.

With my interest in fashion and my curiosity regarding the business & warehouse specific logistics, I developed a new intrigue for style cards.

When you “style card” as a work center, you are supposed to print 900 sheets a night— each sheet has one personalized note and five style cards.

I asked my friends who get fixes to save them for me.

So I have been collecting them, reading them and now I have started to sort them by category and alphabetize them by brand. I find this organizing soothing. And they could be a great primary source archive of early 21st century fashion.

The teenager thinks I’m nuts.

Maybe I am.

Foster Khloe and sample style cards

Friday Logistics Fascination and a stop at The Spot

This post is dedicated to my work friend Barb who starts her new job on Monday. I miss her, but I am so grateful to have met her that I can only wish her well and be proud of her.

Today was a pretty great day.

Well, it’s 10 minutes after midnight so I guess yesterday was a great day.

We were supposed to host three dogs this weekend, Buddy the super lovable white dog next door; Sobaka, the “Morkie” or Maltese Yorkie from across the street; and of course, Bean, our own big black mutt.

Sobaka arrived at 9, with the teenager getting her settled and then the teen returned to bed. I woke to a text message that Buddy would not be joining us after all, as his owner decided to bring him to Maine with her at the last minute.

We are very disappointed as Buddy is the dog medium enough to be a good companion for Sobaka.

The teenager has a pet sitting gig starting tomorrow (I mean in a few hours— I keep forgetting it’s the middle of the night). She will be sleeping at the home of another crazy cat lady… I mean fellow FURR foster mom.

The teenager will be watching two dogs, one very elderly; one small parrot, two personal cats and probably a dozen kittens. And a series of gardens.

It was another super flipping hot day, so I was glad I decided to bake the teenager’s “first day of summer” applesauce cake after work last night.

And I went to work today with no pain in my body!

Speaking of the Bizzy Hizzy, Stitch Fix offered us voluntary time off tonight if we reached our weekly shipping goal. We would be allowed to work a half day. So we got the job done in 3.5 hours and did a little extra.

Conveyor to OB1

I was style carding tonight— I still haven’t asked my supervisors how I’m doing. I’ve been enjoying it and it’s probably the least physically abusive work center I’ve learned.

I’ve been at Stitch Fix nine months, and my fascination with our warehouse logistics grows more with every new station I learn.

It’s hard to believe I’ll get another raise in three months.

But here’s my philosophical thought: Nothing creates a sense of deep teamwork better than people who all understand each other’s jobs and work together to achieve a mutually beneficial goal. It’s not enough to agree to a corporate goal or non profit mission. We may all have low-skill light-warehousing jobs but we all wanted to get the heck out of that hot building.

I compare my experience here with a previous (or several previous) employer(s):

  • At Stitch Fix, my bosses don’t punish, guilt trip or manipulate me regarding time off.
  • At Stitch Fix (and also at Target), they provide the training and the safety guidelines and trust us to work autonomously.
  • At Stitch Fix, I bring home the same amount in my paycheck as when I worked higher stress jobs.

I feel like on nights like this, our understanding of how the numbers work and also how we all normally perform allow us to know how attainable these goals are. And that’s exciting in a “we can do this” way.

Is the job perfect? No. I’m perfectly aware that I am a cog in a very big wheel and sweating my ass off folding clothes or putting papers in envelopes.

But I have had some awful bosses. It’s sad how bad managers can be not only blind to their own flaws but assume weaknesses in others where they don’t exist.

This is a topic I could write a book about.

ANYWAY.

Through most of this literally painless half-day, I listened to the Marc Blucas interview on the podcast Meeting Tom Cruise. He was Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s boyfriend Riley Finn. I hope to do a full review of it.

And the we finally stopped at The Spot for ice cream. The teenager drove me to work so I bought her a banana milkshake and I had a root beer float. Next time I want salted caramel soft serve with Reese’s peanut butter cups. The soft serve was delightful, the menu varied, and the prices cheap. Only downfall was the multitude of styrofoam.

Upon arriving home (after stopping to get my business cards from Gayle and I had to give her an A6 envelope box I commissioned her to doodle), we walked the dogs, ate some leftovers and watched an episode of Buffy (Doomed if you are curious).

I was cracking up on the walk because Sobaka liked to lead the pack. Well, Bean would speed up to join her because she didn’t want to be left behind. She wanted to walk side by side with Baktilda. (Yes, these are all nicknames for Sobaka.)

So then Sobaka would walk faster, but Baki has tiny legs. Bean would just keep matching her pace without breaking her stride. Baki was like the horse trainer who guides the horse around the ring and sets the pace.

Finally, the real miracle of the night— Louise is sharing her space with the dog. My bed no less! Is she making progress or can she not figure out what kind of animal Sobaka is?

Drunk on Fish

Happy Friday!

It’s a fun, fun day for me as I not only got a good night’s sleep (although I did have a cat jump on my eye in the middle of the night when another cat scared her) but I also got to leave work early as we had voluntary early out.

At the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, I finally got a picture of the “please use stylist” versus the correct word, stylus. I spent my 4-hour shift in women’s returns processing. I was killing my numbers the first hour— my body felt good and for the first time all week I wasn’t so exhausted my limbs wouldn’t move. But, quickly, I found myself slowing down. Could it be the heat in the warehouse?

Regardless, the teenager was working her waitressing gig and I had promised her sushi after I got home. We agreed to try Jasmine Japanese & Thai Cuisine on Sullivan Trail in Forks Township, Pa.

Many people I know have given it rave reviews and encouraged me to try it.

I encouraged my daughter to order anything she wanted— and we promised each other we would have the leftovers for breakfast. Now, I’m not a fish person so I stick to sushi rolls. I cannot even bring myself to try sashimi. The teenager on the other hand loves it all, as I even used to send her to first grade with sushi in her lunch box, preserved on an ice pack.

The cafeteria staff used to tease her that she should tell her mom to pack her normal lunches, so she came home one day convinced that meant she wasn’t allowed to bring sushi to school. But this is the girl who used to request cucumber sandwiches and other oddities for packed lunch.

I wish I knew more about sushi. I wish I could use chopsticks. The teenager did try to give me a lesson (again). You can see the video here.

I ordered Thai iced tea for both of us and the “luck bite” appetizer. The Luck Bite featured seaweed and crab artfully arranged on a Pringle potato chip. That itself was amazing enough for me to leave happy.

The teenager was disappointed by her first experience with Miso soup, something I have learned to enjoy. Honestly, we barely touched our salads of iceberg lettuce and a tangy mustard dressing because of the sushi to come.

The sashimi combo platter came first— complete with lights and flowers and other adornments. The teenager loved it all but prefers her sashimi on a bed of rice.

I got the spicy maki roll platter with two specialty rolls, and I honestly don’t recall their names. The one featured eel and avocado and the other mango and crab.

The teenager tried it all. My favorite was the mango. We both enjoyed the maki especially with its crispy bits.

Jasmine truly goes above and beyond with presentation. The sauces and flavor combinations are vibrant without detracting from the star of the show— the sushi.

We spent $92, but we also ordered enough sushi for 4-5 people. The sashimi platter alone was $30. I feel like for sushi, their offerings and dishes were substantial. I think it would be quite easy to select a satisfying meal for 2 for about $40.

More importantly, the teenager and I needed a neutral place where we could unwind together. This was perfect.

We do indeed intend to have the leftovers for breakfast, and I can only wonder what the household and foster cats will do when they smell sashimi.

Bizzy Hizzy update: the donut farewell and the shift differential

Every morning this week I have had some kind of appointment so I’m averaging six hours per sleep a night during a heat wave while anemic.

To say I am fatigued is an understatement.

Took my 2015 Volkswagen Jetta in for its 40,000 mile service even though it’s only got 38,500 miles on it. As this things usually go there was good news and bad news.

Video from the dealer

I don’t know how long this will be active but I think it is super cool.

My friend and publishing partner Gayle picked me up when I dropped the car off and we took her sister to the doctor. She wanted to borrow my hedge trimmer and me, not remembering she was bringing me home, was wandering around the car dealership with a small electric saw.

Gayle packed the three of us a dragon fruit snack and let me read her completed Silk & Sonder planner for June.

When I got home, my new AirPods we’re waiting on the doorstep.

The teenager took the ones the dog ate.

And I was too stupefied to operate my daughter’s new Keurig mini to make coffee.

And then we got big news for Midnight Society at the Bizzy Hizzy: Stitch Fix is rolling out a $1 per hour shift differential. Their goal is to get second shift to 200-250 people to balance first shift.

Here’s hoping it won’t change the culture and camaraderie.

My friend Barb worked her last shift tonight and one of our leads brought munchkins from Dunkin for Barb to eat or to share. Barb, being the ultimate altruistic soul and team player, gathered everyone on the shift and offered them a donut.

Then at our roster meetings, our supervisors announced VTO— yes VTO— voluntary time off. Anyone who wants a half day tomorrow can have it. Early weekend. We’ve hit all our goals and the work is done.

So now I’m sitting with my foster cats Khloe and Louise as Barb enjoys a glass of celebratory wine at her house.

I made myself at cocktail and texted her a photo.

A Friday that Feels like Monday: Returning to work for a day and new kittens

The last 48 hours since the teenager arrived home from Cape May have been a blur. The fosters Khloe and Louise from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehabilitation are very glad to have the dog out of my room so they can compete for my attention freely.

Watch Khloe and Louise

The teenager brought me some breakfast coffee from Cape May Roasters. I normally don’t like breakfast blends as they are typically light or medium roasts and I like my brews dark. Maybe it’s just because the teenager bought it for me or maybe it’s just good coffee, but I really like it!

Author’s note: I started this blog entry in the wee hours of Saturday July 3 after my Friday July 2 shift, after having three days off for teenager’s beach vacation. Someone had to watch the menagerie.

I have tried several times over the last 24 hours to finish this entry, but it is now 23:55 (or 12:55 p.m.) with cool air filling my room and idiot neighbors having fun with firecrackers.

And I’m no closer to posting.

But back to the Cape May souvenirs, which for me include a mini retro Pac-Man Arcade Game!

So we spent Thursday evening catching up and I almost finished Karen by Marie Killilea. Marie Killilea raised a daughter with cerebral palsy, took in a neighborhood teen, raised another daughter who had repeated bouts with illness including rheumatic fever, and later had a mischievous son.

I would say I’m 50 pages from the end of the book. It is Marie’s memoir about her work to champion cerebral palsy, promoting knowledge and encouraging research, while raising her sickly children. These children never seem more than cardboard cutouts.

On Friday, I returned to work at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I didn’t get to Style Card. I QC’d something like 36 fixes the first two hours, but by the half way point of my shift only hit 63. And continued to decline with only 123 for the night. The goal is to quality control check, fold and box 130 fixes per 8-hour shift.

Meanwhile, the cat group is discussing giving us new kittens and developing a new kitten-cuddling and coffee fundraiser that my daughter, my former employer from ProJeCt and myself are brainstorming.

So I guess I’ll have to revisit this tomorrow and introduce you to our new kittens and tell you about my evening with my friend and former nail tech Beth at her home with her friend Barb and eventually the teenager and my estranged husband. We played Cards against Humanity and I drank four very stiff pineapple juice and rum drinks.

I also won Cards against Humanity.

Progression: A Discussion of Finding the Resources to Grow

I may have said this before, but even if I have it’s a message that can be said again: I am blessed to have a talented and caring medical team. In addition to this team, I have also been harvesting resources for my physical and mental help.

I am recording this week’s journey so others might consider different ways to find their own resources.

On Monday, the teenager resumed therapy with a new therapist who attended Moravian College at the same time I did and is loosely a friend of my traveling companion M.

I asked if she was comfortable treating my daughter, because we have circulated in similar arenas in the past and my 17-year-old daughter struggles to connect with therapists who work with teens and is too young for a therapist who treats adults.

From what I knew of her personality from the few interactions we’ve had over the years and the information on her web site my gut said she would be a good fit for the teen.

And in my teen’s eyes, I was right.

My daughter is far from a troubled teen, but she has two parents with disabilities, a mother with trauma in her background and an extended family history of addiction.

Her strong empathy and witchy powers can make her experience of the world intense. (Speaking of which— I gave her my tarot cards on her birthday and she cried. I knew she would understand the significance of the gesture but I didn’t expect her to get so overwhelmed she cried.)

On Monday and Tuesday, my work performance wouldn’t crack 88%. I was frustrated and in pain and just moving slowly. After mapping my pain patterns for years, I can say that my back pain is worst when I ovulate and when I menstruate.

Wednesday was, as mentioned in other posts, the teenager’s 17th birthday. I had a tele-appointment with my therapist of about 12 years. Coincidentally I discovered his birthday is the same as my daughter’s. That’s just another reason we get along.

It’s fun to have a professional in your life for a long time like this because I get to see his practice grow and develop, sometimes in parallel to my own life.

I recently took the ACE Childhood Trauma test, which gave me a different outlook on some of my experiences. My parents did the best they could, but they had their flaws and their own battles to fight. So between their own struggles and life events they couldn’t control, stuff happened.

I can’t explain why it’s time to face some of this now, but that’s the way things go sometimes. We all come to certain aspects of self awareness in our own time.

On Thursday, I visited my beloved chiropractor, Nicole Jensen at Back in Line, who leveled things out, told me I was stressed and talked with me about different physical therapy stretches I need to do to fight the pain. We both agree that the pattern of pain increases on those certain days in my menstrual cycle.

I came home and ate cake and ice cream for breakfast. Not the best decision as I have been 20 lbs overweight for a year.

I suddenly remembered that Stitch Fix offers employees access to the Ginger Mental Health app. So I made an appointment for an initial consultation for Friday.

My hope was to use Ginger’s coaching to set goals and recreate/spur my discipline and good habits regarding food and exercise. For instance, I haven’t lifted a barbell in a year. I miss strength training. I still think I could be an excellent body builder.

My Ginger coach is Kathryn, who has a master’s degree in social work. Our session, completely done over text, seemed to be two sessions in one.

The first hour, she asked basic questions about me. The second hour we set up a plan of the topics we’d like to address. This week we will start making and implementing goals. It doesn’t always feel like talking to a human, though the occasional grammar or spelling error reassures me that it is a person on the other end.

Some of her thoughts include: “Sounds like a great idea! So in your case, a plan I might suggest would be to start by addressing your feelings of stress, [being] overwhelm[ed], and lack of motivation by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, which can help bring some relief from challenging emotions and help you see more clearly how your thoughts and emotions are impacting your behaviors so that you can feel more grounded, intentional, and comfortable being yourself. This can also include exercises centered around relaxation techniques, positive distractions, mindful awareness, developing awareness of triggers (when feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed, taking time to notice what the root cause is and look for a pattern), pattern recognition, scheduling and time management, and identifying and building on your current strengths and resources. We can also discuss accountability/working with providers (i.e. therapist and coach) and explore sleep/exercise/diet as needed.”

A lot of that feels copied and pasted, but it’s okay in my opinion. Sometimes just having someone help you pick a direction or even commit to a new direction can be the change you need.

Also on Friday, our dog F. Bean Barker got spayed at Canyon River Run, a vet we really love.

On Friday night, I learned a new work center at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy— style carding. My colleagues cheered me on in learning this new role and I very much enjoyed it, even when my computer monitor broke and I had to use a computer on another line and lean way over to grab my boxes.

Basically, the associates who “style card,” grab all the completed fixes that come off the QC line and use the packing slip to print a style card that includes a personal note from the stylist and lists each piece in the fix and offers examples of how it can be worn.

Working with anywhere from 6-8 fixes at a time, the “style carder” folds the packing slip and style card and places them into an envelope before returning them to the box.

A quick check that the box is correctly wrapped and the style carder lines up the boxes and shoots them down the table onto a metal conveyer line operated by sensors. This takes the boxes to “OB1” or the outbound/shipping department which inserts the return envelope, tapes the box shut and prepares the boxes for mail pickup.

The pickers assemble 920 items a shift, which breaks down to 184 fixes. Each QC associate folds and packages 130 fixes a shift, each style card associate aims for 900 fixes a shift, and the Bizzy Hizzy itself ships about 6,000 fixes a day.

During this time, our tasks are fairly simple, automated and monotonous so we are allowed to listen to podcasts or music. I’ve used the time to explore a lot of topics via podcasts on Spotify.

Spotify is still a new platform for me and it’s slowly gaining exclusive proprietary rights to a lot of the podcasts I listen to. I heard on several news broadcasts that Spotify paid 60 million for Alex Cooper’s “Call her Daddy” where she talks about sex often with an emphasis on blow jobs.

I listen to her because she has some funny stories of the ridiculous escapades she has had: dating a professional athlete, offering blow jobs as a way to sneak into sporting events, etc. But she also sometimes interviews people— like a retired Playboy bunny who left the Mansion and points out the realities of such sexual exploitation. Alex can be really insightful but she also can misuse her vocal range to try and make the podcast more interesting to listen to and that hurts me ears.

In addition to Kristen Bell, Dax Shepherd, Mayim Bialik, and Conan O’Brien (and in addition to the news and fashion), I searched for cerebral palsy podcasts. From TheMighty.com, I learned that the name “cerebral palsy” is an umbrella term for several brain-related disorders. And I don’t really know anything about which CP I have.

I learned CP can interfere with the neurotransmitter GABA which is why our muscles and our brains don’t communicate effectively. I learned that muscles that don’t get used correctly and don’t get the right messages can stiffen and become spastic. This causes pain and lack of control.

The two main classification differences I have heard are hemiplegia and quadriplegia which you may recognize from the words paraplegic and quadriplegic. These terms explain the parts of the brain/body affected. I would assume I have mild hemiplegic CP, as I think it only affects my lower body. But sometimes I think I see it in my hands so I don’t know. And I think I am low spasticity as I seem to have fairly good muscle control for someone with this disorder.

But I don’t know. So I did what I like to do, on Saturday, I called Nan. If you don’t know Nan from this blog, she is often my partner in crime. She has been blind since birth. Like me, we were raised in able-bodied families and never knew life any other way.

Nan is older than I and, despite her disability, has lived independently for most of her life. She attended college. She married. She has a hobby writing career and attends poetry open mics. She was a teenager when NASA put a man on the moon, but despite having never seen the moon, she has been fascinated and following the advances of NASA ever since.

Nan is closer to my aunt’s generation than mine. My aunt has what would now be referred to as developmental delay, but what was called the now insensitive term “mental retardation” in her day. In school, she didn’t learn what the other kids learned. She had basic reading skills and could add and subtract but never learned to multiply or divide. I know because we used to play school, except I really taught her things.

My aunt, then a few years later Nan, and even a few more years later me, we were all part of 20th centuries advances. Medicine had found ways to help us survive, but technology and society had not discovered ways to help us thrive.

None of us have thick medical files that detail the specifics of what is wrong with us. You were thrown into the mainstream to sink or swim. And if you couldn’t swim, you were institutionalized or kept home. Therefore, families didn’t talk about disability as much as they pushed functionality— they urged us to act as normal as possible and pretend the differences about us were not even noticeable.

I mentioned some of this to my primary care physician when I transferred to his practice more than a decade ago (some friends and my therapist recommended him). At that time he guided me to specialists to explain what is wrong with my specific body, but I am realizing now that he might not know that I know nothing about what my disorder is.

So, also on Saturday, I emailed my doctor. I asked him to help me find someone who can talk to me about cerebral palsy. I know children with the disability in today’s world work with a pediatric neurologist.

And it hasn’t all been work and reflection. My daughter and I got mani/pedis for her birthday/upcoming trip to Cape May. It was our last appointment with “Nails by Bethy” at Hyperion Salon. Beth has a new full time career that should offer her more stability and room for advancement.

We met Beth 12 years ago on the same date she ended her nail career. And the teenager and I got to be her final clients.

And yesterday I tried the new strawberry popping bubbles at Dunkin. I had them in an iced matcha latte. I must say, this is the best matcha latte I ever had at Dunkin but the bubbles had such an artificial strawberry flavor it tasted like someone poured chunks of jello in my drink.

If Dunkin’ wants to capitalize on the boba trend they should stick to normal tapioca.