Hard winter happy?

It’s 1 a.m. I’m exhausted. In pain. But pleased.

We were supposed to get one to three inches of snow.

I’m 90% sure Mama Periwinkle hatched another baby. Video: Sound of baby budgie. Anyone want a parakeet?

I managed to get to work on time, and ended up in QC again. QC hurts. But I didn’t take any meds and decided to see how it goes. Hit 24 by first break, pain level was only a 2. By meal, the pain was at 4 and I was slowing down. By last break, I was at 69 and it should have been 78.

One of my superiors came over after that break and said I was doing great and that my efforts and progress were not unnoticed. I spoke honestly, and this particular person also has a disability that hinders his mobility. And he said it might be possible to split my shift between QC and pick. That would be amazing.

By the end of the night, I hit the same number I did last week— 91— but I almost broke under four minutes per fix. And I got a cool mask….

So now my pain is about a six. Last week I felt really bad after hitting 91, my body hurt.

But Fog had some cuddles for me.

Fog

Snowy sillies

The snow started later than anticipated and my day, my bedtime, started with our weekly garbage pick-up happening at 2:30 a.m. I guess they were trying to get ahead of the storm.

And after “picking” last night, my pain and my mood improved drastically. Though I did binge on junk food again. Sigh.

But these last few months— between Covid and the new job— have really made me realize how much pain changes you.

But today… work is closed due to snow. But Joan texted that her Fix came and we opened it together on Zoom.

Photo by Joan

The teens did the shoveling, and we had some omelettes for brunch. Then this afternoon we filmed a video on our silly Valentine’s treats. The impetus of the video was some rose soda I purchased at Lidl. Our reactions: Video of Valentine’s Treats

First we played some Mille Bornes, the car-themed card game.

The embers of happy

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

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

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

Our reaction video: Review of our lattes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tonight I found this…

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

91 and cupcakes

Cupcakes seem to be a recurring theme in my life right now, but that’s okay since Mercury is still in retrograde and my emotions are a little wonky.

Apparently Sunday was not only Valentine’s Day but also Stitch Fix’s 10th anniversary. Since we had a paid holiday yesterday, we got cupcakes today.

As discussed with my supervisor last week, I returned to QC today in hopes of meeting the goal of 104 so I can get my parole and head back to pick.

I hustled and focused and didn’t even look up from my clothes.

By first break, I QC’ed 24.

My supervisor stopped by and commented on my improved numbers. And we discussed my adult days of the week socks— I had chosen “Monday mood” over “Taco Tuesday.” She asked if I was going to wear taco socks tomorrow and I said no, I’m going with hump day.

She asked if they had a camel. I said they do.

By final break I was slowing down.

And by the end of my shift I hit a new high for me— 91— but despite naproxen sodium and ibuprofen I was hurting. Probably around a 5.

Goals, stubbornness and success—and pain

So much happened today.

Or yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you want to listen: France, Islam & Laïcité

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

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

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

“We don’t want you to be in pain.”

You don’t?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full of Cupcakes

I was exhausted and grumpy most of the day. But not a single thing happened to make me grumpy, I was just tired.

It was a nice day. Teenager #1 and I took a friend to her podiatrist appointment, and as promised said friend provided a nice coffee and added a surprise— home baked matcha cupcakes. I love matcha and I have loved matcha for far longer than it has been trendy.

So it’s gonna be a good day, because matcha cupcakes. Which reminds me of one of my favorite songs: Good Day.

While our friend is at her appointment, we run to Sheetz. The teenager took my money and bought herself a turkey wrap. Not sure why a turkey wrap screamed breakfast to her but she also brought me my favorite cupcakes, Hostess orange cream cupcakes. More cupcakes!

I saved my cupcakes.

The teenager didn’t even get to eat her wrap because she got a phone call from one of our favorite diners, Tic Toc, asking her if she still wanted a job as a waitress. She was quite flummoxed. She starts later today (it is 1 a.m. now).

My maternal instincts say this will be the perfect job for her. She has the patient, cordial nature and coordination for the job. And the girl loves her food so I think she’ll have the knack for details.

And I love that she’s not working in a grocery store, or a fast food joint. I think she’ll learn a lot and gain a lot of new stories to tell. And while working for a small local business will have its own unique challenges, I’m glad she’s not getting the big corporate crap job for her first official work experience.

Speaking of work, my average time per fix was between 4.25 and 4.58. I QC’ed 83 fixes and that’s— as usual— really low. But higher than last night! I took two naproxen sodium and pain was down around a 2.

And the friend I mentioned gave us hand me downs— so I got to go to work in new-to-me jeans. She had several sizes so everything really small went to teenager #2.

And to warm my heart, there is always, Fog, who started life as a feral kitten. Teenager #1 rescued him and his brother last winter. He was so shy he wouldn’t come near me for a month. Gradually he started sleeping in my bed, until a couple months later he was sleeping at my feet. Then my knees. Now he waits for me to come home from work and we go to bed. Video: Time for Bed

In the morning I have a chiropractor appointment, she has probably taught me more about my cerebral palsy’s impact on my body than anyone else.

PS— i survived today by drinking too much coffee, having several sugary snacks, taking a nap and eating too much.

À demain, mes amis. À tout à l’heure.

My own personal Groundhog Day of failure and snow

Despite my ever effort to the contrary, every night I perform worse in QC at the Bizzy Hizzy. I start strong and on target, but somehow by lunch I’m falling behind.

And after meal I’m in pain and feeling tired and defeated. So it gets harder and harder to catch up. I feel unseen and lost.

I woke up today determined to achieve greatness— I did a small strength training exercises and some physical therapy stretches for my lower back.

Dressed a little edgier than I usually do and took the teens for coffee…

After all, I found a coupon.

Stopped at CVS to take advantage of their buy one, get one 50% off over-the-counter painkiller promotion ( and paid with my health savings account debit card). I put my faith in naproxen sodium and a good attitude.

The pain was bad tonight, even with the naproxen sodium and I almost cried a couple of times, perhaps due to the emotional frustration more than the pain. Or it could be because my period is due tomorrow and I heard Wilson Phillips on the warehouse radio “Hold on.”

“Hold on for one more day.” (If you don’t know the song… Wilson Phillips “Hold on” on YouTube)

“Break free from the chains.”

I finally leave the building and the snow is falling faster than I can brush it off my car. I take the highway home hoping the state will tend and clear it.

The snow plow was behind me.

Directly behind me.

Got home, barely made it into the garage, shoveled.

And poured a stiff drink.

In the morning, I am giving a friend a ride to the doctor.

The Monday report of challenges, joys & lessons

It is almost 12:45 am. Tuesday. I’ve been home from work about 2o minutes. I started the dishwasher and poured a beer— that may also include crème de cacao and peanut butter whiskey.

It’s about 15 degrees outside which means my parking pad area was icy and hard for the car to climb, but the Jetta is safely in the garage.

I just sat down on my bed to write this blog entry about the joys, challenges and lessons of my Monday. Let’s go in reverse chronological order— start at the most recent and work to 24 hours ago.

Challenge #1– the Belkin charging cord I got for Christmas appears to have stopped working. Now I have sworn by Belkin cords for years. And they all last years. Why has this one failed? I’m too tired to troubleshoot. I whipped out my new Anker cord I bought as a spare when I saw it on sale. And teenager #1 needed one. Bought one for all of us, including teenager #2.

Challenge #2 and Lesson #1– I still suck at QC at the Bizzy Hizzy. The official goal is 130. I did 89 on Friday and 82 today. I am not accustomed to failing at assignments and it’s compelling exercise to try to improve at something at which you really seem to be bad.

Which brings me to… Joy 1– working in a warehouse with a wide variety of people has shown me how eager people are to help when you appreciate them. As I have mentioned before (see Rip it off fast like a bandaid), the ability to take criticism seems to be unusual at the Bizzy. I had another colleague come up to me today and thank me for being agreeable and willing to listen.

Joy #2 — cherishing the leftovers of last night’s Peruvian chicken with red peppers and Brussel sprouts.

Challenge #3– understanding how this video of my dear cat Fog reached 100 views in less than 24 hours: Fog purring. And now that I go to copy the link it’s up to 453 views a mere 5 hours later. Why?

Joy #3– meeting Barbara at Petco. She is one of the volunteers who helps care for the kittens in the habitats up for adoption through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Challenge #4– cats are a**holes. I had to very forcefully remove Fog from my room last night because he kept dangling from the parakeet cage. I cried myself to sleep because he’s slept with me for about a month now and I didn’t feel like I could rest without him.

Friends, food and fun

The last two days— when not paying bills, shoveling snow, fighting pain and surviving work at the Bizzy Hizzy— has been a blend of chores and silliness.

I took Teenager #1 for a drive yesterday to navigate city streets made narrow by snow and drive in whatever slop we could find so she could experience driving on snow and ice in a controlled manner.

She asked for something from McDonalds so I got her an iced coffee, and I wanted to go to Dunkin across the street for my iced coffee.

I ordered the coffee on the McDonalds app and no lie— it took 45 minutes to make it through the drive through. At Dunkin, I got a cold brew with cream, the coconut flavor shot and one pump of the pink velvet syrup.

Yes, they have the pink velvet syrup in things other than the pricey pink velvet macchiato.

At work in the Stitch Fix warehouse, I tried to get a picture of the inflatable Valentine’s dinosaur…

And I got assigned to QC. I assembled 89 fixes and was very grateful when my Tylenol and ibuprofen managed to numb the pain in my spine. I listed to two IT innovation podcasts featuring data science, algorithms and Stitch Fix.

After taking Minerva of the Roman Pride to FURR’s cat adoption event at Petsmart, teenager #1 and I went to Wegmans across the street. Now, we are expecting snow again tomorrow AND it’s the Super Bowl so of course, it was crazy.

But it sure made this generic bologna sandwich taste amazing.

A social worker friend and I discussed budget tactics, loan amortization and the influence of white privilege in the disability sphere.

Then our neighbor and our favorite little dog stopped by. We finalized dinner plans to go to our favorite local diner— and wow was it lively tonight.

Not only did we have the brand new waiter (whom they hired instead of teenager #1), but there was one guy who looked like his mask came out of a BDSM scene and a sweet little old lady wearing fingerless gloves who sent back her omelette so many times they ran out of egg whites.

The poor new waiter dropped food on the floor and broke at least one plate, didn’t have any grasp of the menu, was slow as molasses, and could not keep track of the condiments. But don’t worry, we were patient.

Apparently my request for a tuna melt on rye confused him, because he had to return to the table to confirm that I didn’t want a tuna melt and an order of rye toast.

And during one of our trips today, we fished the Yuengling out of the yard that teenager #1 tried to throw to the neighbor as he was snow-blowing.

After all that, and much trademark cackling, we finally did the soda taste test video we’ve had planned: Weird Sodas (Ramuné in melon and strawberry, Major Melon Mountain Dew and A-Treat Pumpkin.

That’s some real pandemic excitement.

Mindless Satisfaction

Today featured some magical moments— Mr. Accordion stopped by to pick up his food from the marching band fundraiser (and brought ‘deconstructed halupki’ soup, which I loved as did the two teenagers) AND in the middle of the night, the snow disappeared from our alley.

So I returned to work at the Bizzy Hizzy, a position Mr. Accordion asked me about. I told him it paid decently for the time of work it was and it wasn’t hard.

Of course, tonight I worked in regular pick for 3/4 of the night (only picked 64) and then direct pick for the last two hours where I got my number to 104. Pathetic, but interesting to note the difference direct pick makes. The pain in my spine had reached a seven by meal break so I doctored myself with the trifecta— 600 mg of ibuprofen, coffee, and a honey bun. Painkillers, caffeine and sugar. I ended up walking 21,000 steps.

I love the mindless satisfaction of my job. I listen to every sort of podcast and contemplate my own life. I feel like I learn a lot about myself and the world at large.

And tonight my daughter changed my sheets so I came home to my boy Fog and a clean bed. A welcome combination of the hair raising experience of getting the car in the garage.

Today’s cocktail: Apple Juice and Smirnoff Kissed Caramel Vodka