The ordinary adventures

So, if you’re a friend of mine or a regular here, you know that I have asked my employer, Stitch Fix, for a short-term disability/ FMLA leave to deal with my ruptured tendon (mallet or baseball finger) and its impact on my right hip.

This means I’ve made a commitment to work with my family doctor, my chiropractor (Nicole Jensen at Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center) and Andrew, my personal trainer at Apex Training.

And to keep my hands warm and not use my finger.

Yesterday, I saw Nicole and we discussed the state of my body and the trade-off I seem to be making— working in the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse keeps me active but causes pain, but not being in a physical job makes me stiff and makes it difficult to move, even when I take the same amount of steps I do at work.

Andrew and I are working on strength, mobility, stability and range of motion.

I had lunch with my mother yesterday, who upon her return home had her dog pass away.

In the afternoon, I spoke with my disability claims examiner and gathered paperwork for her. My eligibility confirmation came through this morning, and I think the actual leave is just a matter of paperwork now.

But paperwork sure is sucking the life out of me right now.

So this morning when the weather looked sunny and conducive to a perfect spring day, Nan and I decided to surprise the teenager and retrieve her hearing aids from the ear doctor. Then, we could grab some cold beverages and visit Bethlehem’s Monocacy Park.

The park is quiet, easy to navigate and has a creek. The birds, geese and fishermen would offer entertainment for Nan, as between the water and the animals there would be nature to hear as well as see.

It was a fantastic way to bring some stress-free moments into running errands.

After a modified upper body workout with Andrew, Joan stopped by and brought me an early birthday gift from the residents of Plastiqueville.

A hat!!!!

The hat was not for me but for my mallet finger.

And for dinner, the teenager made Hungryroot meatballs and cauliflower linguine. We used ShopRite tomato and basil pasta sauce. It turned out so lovely I had to make a slice of butter bread to sop up the sauce.

Small pleasures.

A day in the life— medical update, meal plans, sunshine, animals and publishing

I make a lot of lists.

Sometimes my journals are nothing but to do lists and shopping lists. But I like lists— even if I never refer to them again, the act of making a list allows me to stop thinking about things.

If I want to refer to it later, I know where to look, but I no longer have to worry about forgetting as if I want to remember or revisit items from an earlier day I can but I am not staring at a list focusing on what needs to be addressed versus what I actually did.

Many people make lists to receive the satisfaction of checking off the things that are done. I don’t do that. Sometimes I do, but now it’s more like I am acknowledging the list versus trying to conquer it.

I used to finish my list every day or stress over the things I didn’t get to, and on top of that— the list never made me feel better or more in control.

It just exhausted me.

Trapped and the Cover for the Anthology Arrive

Parisian Phoenix’s first contemporary romance has arrived and it looks great. Read more about that here.

But I also received the cover for Not An Able-Bodied White Man with Money, which I will be blogging about on the Parisian Phoenix site this weekend.

And I have a 4 p.m. meeting today with another author who I have been hoping would join our family.

Now if only I could finalize some of our business documents to really move the projects forward.

Yesterday (Voluntary Time Off) and evaluating my health

Life at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy has been odd lately. We’re shipping something like 8,000 fixes a day and having the opportunity for voluntary time off.

Last week, I performed at pretty damn close to 100% without pain or significant mobility issues. This week, issues started mildly during my Sunday shift and deteriorated Monday & Tuesday, leaving me at 80% and crying myself to sleep. I talked about this here.

I’m very much wondering if my menstrual cycle has something to do with it, as the Mirena IUD has done miracles for my pain and issues in that department but has made my cycle irregular. I think my body is trying to menstruate later than usual.

I was taking inventory of my recent balance, mobility and functioning issues as today I had my annual “wellness visit” that the office rescheduled from last week.

I took VTO yesterday to allow myself some rest and some time as life (and grief from my father’s death two months ago) has gotten chaotic and overwhelming.

And I made the teenager and I grilled cheese as I had promised to do, and the child acted like I had prepared filet mignon for her.

I have a feeling I will be repeating that after school today.

We also watched Miranda Sings Live on Netflix. The teenager went through a time when she watched the show, so that was weird. It always amazes me how much talent it takes to perform badly.

The doctor today

I have spent more than a decade assembling a talented and caring medical team, so now I can confidently say any issues with my medical treatment stem from the system and not from my doctors.

The doctor and his resident agreed with my assessment that it’s time for me to get into the physiatrist and that their office will advocate for me on that as well, and that my instincts and approaches are correct.

I learned that women more so than men tend to favor one side when they move or stand. As women age, this tendency can create problems. That means this is a problem normal people have and not just a result of cerebral palsy.

And most interestingly… I learned that women more so than men tend to favor one side when they move or stand. As women age, this tendency to let’s say ‘lean’ can create problems, just like what I am experiencing now with my right hip and right leg/foot. That means this is a problem normal people have and not just a result of cerebral palsy.

I reiterated to them that I do know I need to lose 20 pounds, but that we have some issues to address before that.

The psychology of emotional and physical pain

When I was turning 40, I embarked on a journey to lose five pounds and gain muscle. I inadvertently lost 30 lbs and ended up a skeleton and regained some weight to look like this:

That was about 30 pounds ago. I have no need to be that lean again, but I’d really like to see 135 lbs again— which means I need to lose 20 lbs.

I told my doctor and his resident— I know I can’t eat an entire bag of cheese puffs or Wawa bowl of mac and cheese and brisket after dinner. But I’m struggling with depression from my body pain and my father’s unexpected death.

I’m grateful I haven’t turned to alcohol like many in my family, but I have “given in” to food as a psychological crutch.

I pay almost $300 a month for a personal trainer, but I can’t work as hard as I want to because I hurt and I feel like I need answers as to how to move my body so it doesn’t hurt. Because if I could exercise more and move more, I wouldn’t sabotage myself by eating garbage (or if I did, I would be active enough to balance it).

But right now, when I come home from a ten-hour shift with my body twisted and aching badly, and wishing I could call my dad so he could make me laugh and tell me how much it sucks to get old, I grab junk food because it’s the last pleasure I have.

I can’t move without pain so if I’m going to be forced to get fat and lazy I might as well enjoy the process.

These are ugly thoughts and I know that, but I’m being honest.

The fun stuff: errands with Nan

After leaving my primary care doctor, I called Nan as we were scheduled to do some errands together. We stopped at Wawa for some hot caffeinated beverages (cafe con leche for me and vanilla chai for Nan).

Among other stops we visited Park Avenue Market and Deli, one of our favorite haunts known for its deli, salads and meats.

Although I am once again contemplating more of a vegan diet, which will make the teenaged carnivore wince, I am not ready to commit until I feel better. We must achieve discipline before we enact change.

I never got around to meal planning yesterday so I didn’t have a list. I ended up spending $36.89 and I think the results will work.

I purchased: two packs of beef jerky, one small box of minute rice for the teen, three or four teeny tiny bags of Wise snacks from popcorn to potato chips, meatballs, the biggest damn carrot I’ve ever seen, frozen vegetable medley with potatoes and garlic herb sauce, sweet potato crinkle cut fries, pork roll, Lebanon bologna, liverwurst, turkey, olive salad, a store-baked pig ear for the dog and something called “hot pepper shooters”— round hot peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone.

Rough meal plan

My rough meal plan for the next week or so is:

  • Sandwiches
  • Meatballs and green peppers, either as a sandwich or in pasta
  • vegetable lasagna still in the freezer from last week
  • Burgers and fries, using ground beef from the freezer and the sweet potato fries
  • Cold tortellini salad with roasted carrot, olive salad and seasoned broccoli (broccoli is in the freezer)
  • Pork roll and egg sandwiches
  • Chicken and the frozen vegetables and rice or other grain

PS— we also welcomed a new foster into the house. Her name is Babs. Meet her in this video. I need to make her a page.

Welcome 2022

I can’t believe it’s 2022.

The teenager graduates from high school this spring. My baby is graduating in 2022. My baby.

It’s been a good start to the year.

My great grandmother was born January 1, 1900. So every year I think to myself that my great grandmother would be X years old. 122. She died in the 1990s.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and cuddled cats until 6ish. And believe it or not, I had a cup of coffee and starting doing chores— dishes, meal planning, updating the wall calendar.

The teenager came home from work around 9 a.m. She and her dad brought my favorite coffee, café con leche, and a Sizzli: pork roll, egg and cheese on a bagel. I have wanted to try the pork roll Sizzli for a while and it was delicious. 19 grams of protein and 400 calories.

The teenager and I went to the gym, where we goofed around during the official Boot Camp class. She loaded 188 pounds onto the leg press! When Boot Camp was under control, we started barbell squats and then Romanian deadlifts.

The teenager squatted 135 pounds! I made it to 115, but I wasn’t comfortable attempting 135. It’s too close to my body weight.

I love to watch her lift.

Then, I went to get Nan as we were scheduled to work. After we finished her writing, I prepared a chicken bone-broth soup and a cheese and pierogie casserole. My Hungryroot is stuck in transit so I rooted through my pantry to see what I could prepare. I had a long overtime shift yesterday and don’t want to spend my day off grocery shopping.

And then we starting reading the upcoming Parisian Phoenix anthology, Not An Able-Bodied White Man with Money. And meanwhile Joan is shooting more photos for Trapped.

I have received several beautiful messages today— from current and former colleagues at work, strangers on my blog, and my psychologist.

And another good thing— I got to laugh heartily with my daughter. Mostly at the expense of her dog.

And this is Bean trying to make friends with Khloe. Video

** P.S. I haven’t done my Cobra pose physical therapy. My spine is hurting. Is this why?

Day 1 in the books

My day started with an unfamiliar alarm at 5 a.m. I haven’t used an alarm to wake up for quite some time, and I’ve noticed recently that the iPhone’s “birdsong” no longer gets my attention. Though it does get the attention of foster cat Khloe and my Goffin cockatoo.

I quickly and silently crept from my room as to not wake said cockatoo. She needs her sleep and the last thing the teenager needs is a grouchy Goffin yelling for me.

I got dressed in the bathroom.

I had even worn my “Monday mood” socks with the coffee on them from my adult days of the week socks, because even though it’s Sunday, it’s Monday to me. I think this new work schedule renders my days of the week socks obsolete.

I went downstairs, made a cup of coffee and while waiting for it to brew, loaded the dishwasher. I had no intention of feeding cats at 5 a.m.

But you can’t sneak with cats around.

Most of them watched me drink my coffee.

I got in the car and discovered the teenager forgot to put gas in it. 85 miles to empty.

I made it to the Bizzy Hizzy by 6:05, greeted by my favorite security guard.

And I was assigned to Stitch Fix Freestyle QC. I stayed there until 3 p.m. so I guess that means I did a whole shift in that department.

The Big Boss of the Warehouse stopped by, I believe around 7:30 a.m. I overheard him ask our supervisor if everyone showed up.

I enjoyed freestyle today. And I really like the break schedule— it makes a 10-hour day feel like an 8-hour day, at least emotionally.

At our first break (8:55 to 9:10), Stitch Fix served us catered breakfast.

Meanwhile, the teenager and her dog hung out with Nala. The Goffin.

My phone would not track my steps today, leaving me to add them manually.

I had a good meeting with my new supervisor and process lead because they wanted to get to know me. And to introduce themselves. And this is one of the corny parts of Stitch Fix corporate culture that I like— they encourage everyone to connect with one another as people not just as cogs in the wheel.

Honestly the rest of the day passed quickly. Just before last break (3:10 to 3:25) I received word that my estranged husband crashed his car.

And after break, I was walking back to my station in women’s returns when I looked at the time clock at 3:27 p.m. — the time I normally clock in.

At 3:45 p.m., we all looked very confused as the loudspeaker walked us through our first stretches of the day.

Around this time, I received a call that Em was probably going to be adopted tonight. This was after hearing that Shady went home with her new family yesterday.

And we looked confused again when the 5 p.m. safety message played as we clocked out.

The teenager drove her father home. We then stopped at Wawa for gas and dinner. I got a black bean bowl with grilled chicken, spinach, carrots, lettuce and I’m not even sure what for sauce.

The first few bites were the best thing I ever tasted, but by the end I was very sick of it.

I ended my night trying to keep Nala the Goffin from attacking Khloe the foster cat.

Another whirlwind and even less answers

This post will be a mishmash of the last 48 hours and will discuss some of the frustration of dealing with my cerebral palsy, life as Midnight Society comes to a close at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, a brief mention of the new Wawa dinners and a thank you to the amazing teenager for her thoughtfulness in hiring a cleaner to help get the house under control.

The supply chain issues still create work shortages at the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse so as Midnight Society prepares for it’s change to day shift in December, some of us are only working about 20-25 hours a week.

I’m using the time to edit manuscripts and make more plans for Parisian Phoenix Publishing and deal with my mobility and pain issues.

The last few nights at work have been good (and last night was my one year anniversary)— I performed at 98% last night in QC folding those Stitch Fix parcels and tonight I think I surpassed 100%. But bending is still troublesome and what I believe are my quads burn the entire time I am standing.

So today was an emotional day. My sweet, amazing teenager hired a cleaner to deep clean the house. The cleaner did the upstairs yesterday and the downstairs today.

The house looks incredible.

And it was fun to interact with someone who wanted to help, loved our crazy animals and commented about how awesome my kid is.

I noticed early today that my X-rays had arrived in my St. Luke’s Hospital portal. I read them and they said my hips were fine, and the only findings on them (other than my new IUD and tampon) mentioned items in my spine.

But when the doctor’s office called at 2 p.m., he just wanted to ship me off to physical therapy. And I’m not sure that’s the whole answer. I work out. I have had physical therapy for my lumbar region already.

Two important questions physical therapy can’t answer:

1. How does this impact my ability to keep doing my job?

When I mentioned this to the person on the phone from my doctor’s office, she asked me what I wanted, mentioning that they could sign me out of work. I said no, I am looking for a more permanent answer than that.

2. How does my general crookedness factor in? The doctor’s office made this sound like no big deal, but I hurt. More often than not. So does my imperfect gait add more stress to this problem?

I’m going to talk to my trainer tomorrow, and my chiropractor Friday. I think there are more questions that need to be asked and I’m not sure what they are.

And in final ridiculous news… I tried a Wawa burger.

It was cheaper and heartier than I expected.

Halloween 2021

As I write this, I am mourning the loss of having finished The Night Shift on Netflix. I am imbibing some generic strawberry lemonade energy drinks strongly laced with too much gin. I am craving potato chips, cuddling my cat Fog, and nursing my injuries from the day.

But perhaps I need to back up…

The photos above summarize my Halloween.

At 11 a.m., we had an appointment for Danu and her babies from the Celtic Pride— Aîné, Baile and Brigid and our newest foster, Georgie, to meet our foster cat godmother for shots, flea treatment, dewormer and microchip and OH MY GOODNESS was Georgie dramatic.

Then the teenager had a commitment to walk in the local Halloween parade and she asked me yesterday to walk with her as she paraded in costume. I will do anything my daughter asks.

And half way through the parade, I fell flat on my face to the collective gasp of the crowd. I rise, keep walking, hip and knee in pain. But I keep going.

#f*ckcerebralpalsy.

I finished the parade. Outside the teenager’s high school. Her father and herself know that the fact that I finished the parade did not mean I was okay as I have been known to do things like walk a Chinese buffet with a broken ankle.

My knee is swollen. I tripped over a mirror late in the day that struck me in the tender parts.

My back hurts.

I am craving potato chips as my body adjusts to the Mirena.

My princess, the male cat I jokingly named Fog, is curled up next to me. He is my baby.

The teenager’s dad came over and they carved pumpkins and I typed some of a manuscript for the identity anthology. We handed out candy and even the dog got to enjoy trick-or-treat.

I ordered Wawa for dinner— the teenager’s favorite ranch Mac and cheese, chicken Caesar salad and pierogie quesadilla and Blizzards from Dairy Queen for dessert.

Tomorrow the teenager is consulting a cleaning woman to take some of the stress off me.

Second Hungryroot Box and final week before the FURR pop up kittens and coffee event

The second Hungryroot box arrived and I was very excited to have it delivered on a Saturday when I would be here to open it and have more time to cook it. Unboxing here.

Gayle, my graphic design support system and Parisian Phoenix business partner, brought me the photo frames and the pin-the-bow-tie-on-the-kitten game.

We took some shots for social media to thank our corporate sponsors: Wegmans and Giant Food Stores, and product donors Wawa, Philly Pretzel, Chocolate Works and Keystone Snacks.

First Book from Parisian Phoenix Launching Soon

Anyway else feel the universe going haywire?

The full moon is a few minutes away but its pull has been evident for a couple days. My recent health struggles, my employer giving us random time off, and today the dog ate my latest set of AirPods that I bought less than a month ago and emptied my favorite Coach leather wallet I bought in 2010 for my first excursion with my beloved M.

It took about 30 minutes to locate my money, shopping club cards, credit cards and various ID. Not to mention she destroyed my AmEx.

The teenager got a toll violation in the mail for her Cape May road trip. The toll officer yelled at her for stopping to pay the toll because the equipment read my old transponder from the Altima. I had meant to return the damn thing but never got around to it.

She also broke her phone charger.

I also had the misfortune of having to cut off someone who left room for me to merge and then changed his mind. The situation had me worried he was going road rage-y.

But let’s celebrate all the good news.

It was an amazing day. I went to Grocery Outlet and bought my favorite Cabot cottage cheese. I got a free soda at Wawa.

I had dinner with my favorite nurse from Stitch Fix who left the company to “do” hospice. It was so nice to see her.

I came home and registered my first two ISBN numbers to Manipulations (print and ebook). This is the first novel in the Fashion and Fiends series.

I edited some bios, created at Ingram Sparks account, updated my ISBN info at Bowker, downloaded a bunch of user guides and wanted to vomit.

I approved the cover concept. The proofreader signed off.

I assigned prices.

And I pledged that I will donate $1 to Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab for every print version of the book sold. One of the minor (but very key characters) in the novel is Zut the tabby, modeled after Zoot, my tabby of 16 years. Zoot was my familiar as it would be called in witchcraft terms.

The official publication date is September 11, which is my husband’s birthday. Even though we’ve been separated two years, he had always been my most loyal supporter when it comes to my fiction.

I have received encouragement from published authors Jonathan Maberry and Kathryn Craft, but no one encouraged me like Darrell did.

So thank you. There are so many good aspects to the 20-plus year relationship I had with you and that is only one.

And the goal is to get the next one out on my partner Gayle’s birthday.

I’m Back in Line—singing the praises of my chiropractor and watching the teenagers grow up

Today turned out to be a completely ordinary but yet amazing day. I owe much of that to my chiropractor, Dr. Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Wellness Center.

I have been working with her more often since I started at Stitch Fix as I don’t want to live my life in constant pain as I did toward the end of my decade working for Target.

Nicole has a background in physical therapy so she can deal with my cerebral palsy issues, messed up S1 joint, and get all that tension out of my neck. (I never even told her about my tendency to hold all my tension in my neck— she noticed.) She also gives me ideas on what to do at home (like which of my physical therapy exercises and what new stretches).

And funny story— she’s even worked on one of my fingers (after my cat bite/hospital stay for cellulitis this past August) when it wouldn’t bend and once she adjusted a toe for me. I can’t quite remember why…

So today Nicole did what she termed some agressive work on my hips as my main complaints these days are more about stiffness than pain. Now don’t get me wrong— QCing (standing still folding clothes from 3:30 pm to midnight) makes me hurt. And picking also makes me hurt. But both those pains usually fade by morning leaving behind stiffness that can be quite uncomfortable.

I am very grateful for Nicole, as she has done more than any other person to help me understand how my body works because of my disability.

When I left her, I felt like someone had popped off my legs as if I were a Barbie doll and popped new ones on. They didn’t feel bad, they just felt loose and new and weird.

And I didn’t experience any pain at work, at least not the bad kind. I definitely experienced the discomfort of a good workout. Even bending down at the end of my shift wasn’t nearly as intense as usual.

And I walked more than 26,000 steps (but only picked 693 items).

For Saint Patrick’s Day, Wawa had given me a free matcha drink. There happens to be a Wawa across the street from the chiropractor so teenager #1 picked up a matcha mint latte for me.

I seem to be one of the first people posting on YouTube about Wawa’s matcha, so here is today’s installment: Matcha Mint latte from Wawa. This particular video has 18 views. Yesterday’s has 118. Spoiler alert: it was tasty but I gave it to the teenager as the fact that I couldn’t taste the matcha ruined it for me. But I would rate Wawa’s matcha better than Dunkin’s and akin to Starbucks.

Next, I took the teenager to the bank to open her first checking account. Even though the small bank I used has been gobbled up by a larger bank, I took the teenager to the same branch where her father and I opened our checking account in the late 1990s. I still have the account, in part because I am incredibly fond of my account number.

When we got home, teenager #2 asked me some questions about the differences between savings and checking accounts so we discussed banking. Teenager #2, a friend teenager #1 made in marching band who came into our home when she needed a place to stay last fall, turns 18 in about a week. Holy crow. A week.

In my household, birthday children get $100 and get to plan a day. I saved up $100 cash to give her— and, knowing this was my custom, she asked if she could use that money to open her own checking account. I responded, “of course.”

After all that, I made some ravioli and we all took turns cuddling with the dog.

Pick me!

Our days have been occupied by kittens (Vesta of the FURR Roman Pride has been adopted and is now known as Paisley. I received a photo of Edie, formerly Fern/Fenrir of the Norse Pride and for a mere seven months old, she is enormous!), training the puppy (also enormous!), and working on the details of the publishing debut (definitely feels enormous!).

Last night at work, at the old Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy Warehouse, I ended up assigned to QC. I was rather stocked when I QC’ed 28 fixes by first break, but rather disappointed when I only managed 103 by the end of the night.

This was a bad weekend for relationships. The sting of it all still lingers and today it got worse. But my lovely daughter— teenager #1– stopped at Wawa and used her own money to get me one of there new matcha lattes. Better than Dunkin’s and a good challenge to Starbucks.

I posted this very brief video: Wawa Matcha

I was assigned to QC again tonight and wondered if I would redeem myself. I QCed 21 by 5 pm but remained a tad distracted because of the contents of my head.

One of the overlords came over— the only person who has an obvious physical disability came over and asked me for a favor. Which is his way of saying they want to move me.

And they wanted to move me to pick. And he apologized explaining that with call outs they needed to shift people. I reminded him that I love chaos, it breaks up the monotony.

Now, Pick moved from the Gozer software platform to Star yesterday. (Who names these things?) They no longer track our number of fixes picked, focusing instead on items picked. The main complaint in the warehouse is that they have removed the timer.

I picked 499 items and walked 20,000 steps. And ate shrimp. And I don’t even like shrimp.

This month’s employee appreciation dinner