Andrew, my strength and fitness coach at Apex Training, has reached new levels of sadism.
I said that (partially) in jest because I love to see his face get that pensive squint when he’s digesting my regular updates of how my body feels and what my other professionals report about its function.
I feel like since my finger recovered from my burst tendon, I’ve reached new heights in stamina and my own strength. Last week, I hit a PR (personal record) with a 35-lb dumbbell row.
And things just feel like they are moving better. I’ve stumbled more than usual, but caught my balance 90 % of the time. I have less pain and I think I understand the pain better.
I’m working out three times a week and doing movements, with support Andrew has designed, like split leg squats that are torture (in a good way) and that I never thought I could do. I even work out after my ten-hour shifts at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse.
It’s hard, and exhausting, but I really think it helps get blood flow into all my aching parts and aids my sleep and ultimate recovery.
And today Andrew let me beat the big tire with a mace.
Speaking of Stitch Fix, the company has opted to move the Sunday to Wednesday 10-hour cohort. We get to choose which of the remaining shifts we want to transfer to and I’ll be putting in for the remaining 10-hour cohort, Wednesday to Saturday.
Frankly, the idea of working 5 days a week is horrifying. And I’m not thrilled with the prospect of losing my current shift.
But a warm gluten-free brownie sundae with Ben & Jerry’s cannoli ice cream softened the blow.
I put my underwear on backwards today. All day I kept wondering why my underpants felt so uncomfortable.
I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I’ve written. But when I think about it, I suppose I can. The teen had Covid. Her father had a birthday. The teen missed her much anticipated outing to the Renn Faire because of the weather and Covid. My cat Fog has determined that he likes milkbones dog biscuits.
My Stitch Fix metrics started at 103% this week and dropped to 100% and then 94% today. (But Mercury is in retrograde. The computers were malfunctioning. And either the QCers were folding too quickly or we didn’t have enough pickers because we kept running out of work.)
But despite a difficult, hot and frustrating day at the Bizzy Hizzy, I do have one amazing story to report. (And I recount it in this video below as well.)
I’m standing at my table today. My metrics are around 97% for the day. The cart I just finished was all kinds of messed up. The wrong clothes in the wrong fixes. But I got it sorted out. The pick system is quite foolproof, but mistakes still happen. My supervisor mentioned he’d put a note by my name so they stop putting me at that table on line two that stresses me out, because legitimately, it’s a medium table and it’s too high for me. I belong at a normal table.
But so far, I’m still at this medium table that caused me to break another electronic key. They hang from our lanyards and the way the lanyard falls at this table, it smashes between my body and the table as I reach toward the back of the table, causing the card to split.
At this particular point of the morning one of the outbound leads (I think? Or is she a sup? Who knows? But she’s one of the nice day shift people. Some of them still haven’t won me over) approaches my table and offers me a fist bump.
Apparently, they were doing QC audits farther down the line. That’s when they unwrap our completed, folded fixes and check them randomly for quality. They typically look for generic trends to talk about what we are doing right, how we could improve and if there are common issues.
They came to one of my fixes. It was a large box, and the fix contained three pairs of shoes, a huge sherpa-lined cardigan, and a cashmere sweater. I had arranged the boots lying down on the bottom of the box, the flats tucked into the space between the edge of the box and the boots, and the other shoes on top of the flats. I folded and wrapped the sweaters as tightly and I could and still managed to place it with the logo to the left even though it would have fit way better turned parallel to the shoes.
I could not believe I’d managed to squeeze everything into a large box.
They were also impressed. Because once they took everything out of the box, this collection of leads could not reassemble the fix so that the items went back into the box. That’s when they scanned the box to find out who did it in the first place.
They must have figured it out, because they didn’t ask for help.
Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting for my Freestyle package. On Friday morning, I slipped into the Teen’s Stitch Fix account and ordered myself a multipack of earrings from Kevia. On Sunday, we work Freestyle. My supervisor asked me to QC and ship a NAP cart (non-apparel: shoes, purses, scarves and jewelry). I told him I had ordered earrings Friday and thought it would be hysterical if I found them in this cart.
My third or fourth item from the cart was a Kevia multipack of earrings. I thought, “It couldn’t be.”
So I scanned them.
The teen’s name popped up on the screen.
What are the odds? Each employee ships hundreds of packages every day from each of the six warehouses.
I shared the news with all my friends. “These are mine and I’m shipping them to my house.”
The “new” Stitch Fix CEO had scheduled a visit to the Bizzy Hizzy. When founder Katrina Lake stepped down from the CEO position last year, Elizabeth Spaulding replaced her.
Elizabeth has been visiting all of the warehouses in the Stitch Fix network and her visit was the first time a CEO had visited the Bizzy Hizzy since our opening six-plus years ago.
The supervisory team at the Bizzy distributed a Google doc for warehouse associates and leaders to attend a question and answer session with Elizabeth. If we submitted what question we would like to ask, the Bizzy People & Culture office would select some of us to represent our warehouse.
I thought to myself, “I was a journalist for 15 years, I can ask a good question.”
I got picked!
In preparation for the CEO’s visit, our managers asked us to wear our Stitch Fix t-shirts. I went one better and also tied my “midnight society” Stitch Fix sweatshirt around my waist. Had to ‘rep’ second shift.
My supervisor and the other members of the Sunday to Wednesday 10-hour shift cohort were excited that I had been chosen, and to my delight, someone else from our cohort was also in the room.
When I arrived for the event, Emily Watts said hello. Emily is the general manager for the Mohnton facility which is Stitch Fix’s manufacturing facility here in Pennsylvania, producing the Mohnton Made clothing line.
My mother-in-law made a career out of garment manufacturing in the Kutztown area, so I’m extra excited to see American made clothing resurface.
Emily was also my store leader at one time at Target #2536. Many of the team members from that store have worked at or currently work at the Bizzy.
When I enter the room I see several small tables, creating the customary U-shape and a head table. There are twelve name plates around the U.
I had no idea this would be so intimate. As we trickle in, I notice one odd thing: there is only one man among us. Everyone else is female. Did the men not read the email? Were they disinterested in the opportunity? Did they ask stupid questions?
Ethnically, age wise, and even ability wise, the room is diverse. There are two of us that I knew had disabilities— myself with my cerebral palsy and my hearing impaired colleague.
Debbie Woloshin and Cherizza Lundy entered the room first, and I had no idea who they were. Debbie plopped down beside me, and filled out her nameplate, while Cherizza did the same on the opposite side of the room in the empty seat there. Elizabeth came in, and seeing no more empty seats in the U, realized that she had to sit at the head table, so the other executives joined her.
I then learned that Cherizza is the head-of-staff and that Debbie is Debbie Woloshin, Stitch Fix’s first ever Chief Marketing Officer. She has an impressive fashion retail resume and such a great vibe. The discussion that resulted lasted almost an hour-and-a-half and I definitely felt like that panel of executives was using the visit to gauge the company’s needs from the bottom up. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think so.
We discussed what could improve the warehouse associates’ experience (growth and development opportunities as simple as peer to peer spreadsheet training and GED programs to more complex items like tuition remission; finding ways to ease childcare and transportation burdens; etc.), future growth of the company (hopes for improving technology, nurturing and expanding the Freestyle and traditional Fix businesses, and future growth of facilities (as existing facilities max out on capacity will we construct mezzanines in existing buildings, open nodes to existing buildings, or move into larger buildings). Certainly none of the discussions came with definitive answers, but you could see that the executive staff was weighing the enthusiasm, concerns and capabilities of the Bizzy Hizzy facility and team.
Well, I don’t think the building had enthusiasm or concerns. And what I also found encouraging was that our team still acted like our team. It didn’t feel like we were putting on airs for the boss.
“…we will do what we can to help and make you feel heard.”
I’ve been with the company now for almost two years, and I still believe that for a warehouse job, it’s a good job. And the company, while a little California ‘crunchy,’ has a good culture. As my original supervisor told me in my interview, “if you leave here upset after a shift, that’s on you. If you have a concern, tell us and we will do what we can to help and make you feel heard.”
Later that night, I sent connection requests to all three women and Cherizza accepted by requested at about 9:30 pm.
I hope all three women had a delightful visit not only to the Bizzy but to the Lehigh Valley in general.
In other odd little updates:
Darrell Lea Australian soft licorice made me very happy. I bought it at CVS, and after my ExtraBucks it was $1.11. I was looking for a candy treat, preferably plant-based that I wouldn’t eat in one sitting. The name sold me. It’s one letter different from my husband’s name. (Yes, I know we’re separated, but we’re not divorced yet so I feel “ex” isn’t right either. And he’s more to me than just the teenager’s father.)
I was extremely stiff yesterday — and when I admitted that to my fitness coach Andrew at Apex Training, he was brutal. Which was mean because I had already worked a full ten-hour shift. We got my heart rate up with ropes, stretched those leg muscles with weights, and did a whole bunch of split squats. I’m not stiff today, and I’m moving a whole lot better.
The teenager tested positive for Covid. Her head “felt funny” and she had post-nasal drip so she feared she might be developing an ear infection. So she went to the doctor. And tested positive for Covid. To combat this news, we ordered pizza from Domino’s and broke out some immune supplement from Target. We got the $20 family deal, which meant we got a pizza for each of us and a two liter of Diet Coke. I chased my immune supplement with a diet and gin. I almost tossed the tablet in the cocktail.
This morning I tossed FURR fosters Jean-Paul Sartre and the random litter (they were named before I got them and have no theme so my naming convention does not apply) onto the sun porch to meet each other and perhaps influence each other. JP needs more socialization with other cats and the Random Litter, as I have christened them, need to learn that they are safe. They should be able to look at JP and realize, “hey, nothing attacked this little moron.” I filmed some videos. They are rather long and boring, but, if you’re patient, you might notice JP stalking our old man tripod Opie and little Dixie/Jenny (her folder was blank so I named her Jennifer Grey so ‘no one could put Baby in the corner,’ and then I saw online that her foster file said her name was Dixie) considering trying the cat door or making friends with my boy Fog.
This week has been a roller coaster— but isn’t that just the way? People have been telling me I look like I’m loosing weight but I don’t know if that’s true.
The teenager took the dog for a rainy walk at Lafayette College the other day. She sent several very lovely photos.
I have many odds and ends making life out of the ordinary from little foster kitten Jean-Paul Sartre to my dear friend Nan moving from my neighborhood to a senior community.
I ordered a kitchen scale off Target.com to measure Jean-Paul’s growth. He’s up to 1 lb 5 ounces. That was after a big breakfast of pate and kitten milk. He has a hearty appetite and screams for food like any baby does every 4 hours.
He is super inquisitive and smart. He carries tiny toys around in his mouth and plays with our dog, Bean. (Here’s a video.)
Meanwhile, guest fosters Coffee Bean & Pinto Bean are having fun in my room. Khloe and Louise do not like having babies around, but the cockatoo Nala sure does.
For some humor, let’s mention that the Teenager recently discovered that the Morningstar Farms breakfast Pattie’s I have been feeding her for almost two decades are vegetarian. She called her dad to find out if he had been in on this secret.
We never hid that they weren’t real sausages from her and she’s been able to read for a long time. The shock was real, and she’s still talking about it days later.
She didn’t have a chance to go grocery shopping for her nights in the kitchen. I suggested using my Hungryroot ancient grain gluten free pancake mix and the Morningstar sausages. It was a lovely, hearty breakfast-for-dinner. And like she had accused me of when she first discovered my fake breakfast meat, “It was all a lie.”
The teen also got her first fix from Stitch Fix and it came from the warehouse where I work, the Bizzy Hizzy. Click the photo to see her unbox.
Speaking of work, I took voluntary time off on Monday and my stats were 100%, 88% and 98%. Andrew at Apex Training has been working be hard with exercises like split leg squats. My quads feel it. My balance is improving, my aches and pains feel like muscle fatigue and not deeper pain or joint issues. I have caught myself almost falling several times, and can sometimes feel my leg scissoring or even notice my left foot dragging behind before it trips me.
Even my chiropractor, Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center has made comments about how well my body is moving and how things are improving. Today she said my right side was locked up, when it’s usually my left, and that everything went back where it belonged easily.
When I hopped off the table, she told me to look at myself. “I have never seen you stand up with your feet so firmly planted and your poster straight,” she said.
And I felt it, I felt really solid.
So I don’t know if this is where I confess I tried the new Wingstop chicken sandwich. Most of my diet lately has been vegan. But last night I hadn’t had dinner, it was 8 pm and my body was devastated (in that good way). I could barely move after my shower. I considered skipping dinner.
But then I thought about my food intake for the day:
4:30 am: Supercoffee dark roast with half and half
5:30 am: Wawa coffee con lèche (it was a bribe to make myself go get gas)
6:30 to 8:30 am: 20 oz water
9 am: Kind Peanut Butter Breakfast bar and about 3 oz cranberry juice cocktail
9:30 to 11:30 am: 20 oz water
12:15 pm: quinoa with roast zucchini, white beans and my home canned roasted tomatoes, 6 oz Diet Pepsi
2 to 5 pm: 20 oz water
5:30 pm: sunflower seeds
6 pm: 12 oz cucumber water
I thought a chicken sandwich would be good for protein and I saw the commercial for Wingstop’s new chicken sandwich on Hulu. It was good, not as big as I thought a sandwich from a chicken joint would be— but to be able to slather any sauce from their menu on our was really cool. I had a mango habanero sandwich and a side order of the honey hot rub boneless wings. It hit the spot.
Before the pandemic, I had an office job in nonprofit development primarily as a fundraiser. I had been hired as a communications professional, and I excelled at that work. But the toxic work environment that stemmed from the head of the organization (who would normally be referred to as the executive director, but she reveled in her title as Chief Executive Officer, perhaps because she needed the ego boost to compensate for her insecurities), led to rapid and frequent staffing changes.
(This is certainly getting long-winded for where it is going. But bear with me.) I knew all of this before I accepted the job, because I had excused myself from the interview process from the same position about a decade earlier. I had turned down the opportunity because The Teenager was a preschooler and my gut warned me that this job, and this entity, would require more energy than I could give.
This time, in part because of a really awesome person hiring me, I decided to take the challenge. When the person in charge finally burned him to his breaking point, she promoted me with assurances that I would have all of the support and guidance I would need. (In her mind, that was one hundred percent true, but unfortunately, what was in her head and what her employees needed to thrive were completely at odds with each other.)
During this period, I paid close attention to my style, my accessories and my make-up. In my youth, I didn’t have the confidence to toy with these fashion topics. Then, I had a child. Then, I worked at Target. By the end of my almost-decade in red-and-khaki and food service, I had started to experiment in make-up and other touches that could allow my personality to come through despite the dress code.
As I moved into fundraising, these choices became more important. The world hates to admit this, but in any sort of business matter, appearances count. Not necessarily because you need to be pretty to succeed, but because you need to make an impression and you need to look confident, trustworthy and project the attitude that you are an expert in your arena. That’s a little different than confident.
There are two kinds of confidence in this regard. One says, “I know who I am and I like that person and we get shit done.” (That’s the confidence my former supervisor lacked.)
The second says, “No one can do this better. When it comes to this, I know my shit.” (That’s the confidence my former supervisor had so much of that I adored her. I wanted to learn her skills and knowledge, but her instability as a leader made that impossible. Her deficit in leadership and trust led her to think any way other than hers would not only never work, but destroy everything she had built, because it her mind, it was all her. And she did build it, more than 25 years ago, and sometimes things need to change after 25 years. And sometimes, her way and someone else’s way can coexist and succeed together.)
Anyway… when I accepted my current job working evening shift (“midnight society”) at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse, I wore eye make-up for the first few months, but after I got Covid, that fell away. My shift changed, changing my wake-up time to 4:15 a.m. when I was accustomed to going to bed at 2 a.m. (I miss that shift soooooooo much.) No time for make-up when you can barely wake up.
2022 required change. I launched my business (Parisian Phoenix Publishing) while still on evening shift. Evening shift was eliminated. The first week of day shift, my dad unexpectedly died. I think I got the Delta variant at my dad’s funeral. I burst my tendon removing my socks. I struggled with hip issues. We had a small flood in the house. The teenager graduated from high school. The teenager had a car accident, her first.
2022 wants to kick my ass, but I keep giving it hell. I’ve started weeding and reorganizing my wardrobe even though I’m still 25 pounds overweight. I’ve started spending time on the Stitch Fix app, combing the options and the styling ideas. (More on that here.)
And now that this very short topic is very long… I just wanted to tell you I wore jewelry today.
There’s an old Grimm’s fairy tale where someone catches on fire, and having no water, the onlooker urinates on the person burning to extinguish them. It’s rather horrifying to read, and when you do, you realize just how much Disney has sanitized our lives.
But, if anything, that is an accurate depiction of how this week has felt. Hopefully now the fires are out and if I’m lucky Cinderella will stop by, clean my hearth, and we can hit up Fairy Godmother for a night on the town.
It’s the beginning of my weekend. They say temperatures will drop by ten degrees by tomorrow night. I have seen more evidence that my service dog application is in process. And my body, though fatigued by the extreme temperatures and long days in the Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix warehouse, has not experienced pain or falls this week.
So I thought I’d do something light and frivolous and fashion-oriented, which is legitimately something I need to do more often as author of the Fashion and Fiends series. Buy my books here. If you prefer to avoid the Big A, try Bookshop.org here.
The whole reason I work at Stitch Fix is because 10+ years ago when I still had a print subscription to Vogue magazine, I read about this revolutionary clothing subscription box. Six-plus years ago, they opened a warehouse a couple miles away from where my husband’s grandfather had the family farm. The people who left Target while I worked there either left for Stitch Fix or Amazon. The former Target employees who went to Stitch Fix were elated with their new jobs at this place where I had wanted to be a client.
When I lost my non-profit development job, I thought if I can’t have the clothes maybe I can at least handle them.
In early November, I will celebrate my second anniversary with the company. I have shopped at the employee store (the deals, amazing!), and I recently ordered shoes from Freestyle through my friend, Joan the talented photographer and archivist of Plastiqueville, who is the current recipient of my employee discount.
We can only change our discount designee once every six months and I believe Joan has had it for a year. It has been really fun watching her get “fixes.” But after her fix this month, I plan to transfer the discount to The Teenager. The teenager wishes to develop her own style and I think this is a great way to do it.
When she completes her journey, I’d like to sign up. Meanwhile, I’m working frantically in the Stitch Fix app to help the algorithm learn my style. By the time a stylist gets me, the computer should have me all mapped out.
These are some of the current trends Stitch Fix curated for me and my reactions.
For larger photos, open the gallery.
Gold Ray Asymmetrical Cold Shoulder sweater, cheetah wrap skirt, stone bead bracelet in warm tones and flip flops. I have wanted this sweater since I first laid eyes on it. I also think it would look good on the Teen. The skirt looks amazing in the photo, but I think in real life… The skirt would flop open, my belly would bulge out from under the sweater and the flip flops would be an expensive fall hazard.
2. White Tank, studs, jean cut-offs, and green Vans. Great basic outfit. But I wouldn’t pay premium brand prices for it. I already purchased the green Vans, but due to a thorough bleaching mine around one-of-a-kind two-tone.
3. Similar to two: Patterned flowy tank, similar shorts but more distressed, autumn tone bracelet and thin mustard flats. I have not seen this tank in person, which is surprising since I fold about 750 articles of clothing a day. It looks like it might be really cute. I love the bracelet. And I like these shorts more than the previous because they are more casual and roughed up.
These shoes have a very almost jute texture, it’s really cool and I am super-into this vivid mustard color right now. That said, these shoes are super narrow and I doubt I could walk in them. But, they do come in several colors and pack nicely. Great vacation shoes.
4. Patterned dress, purse, shoes. I have nothing against the outfit. But, boring. And that purse seems like it would get dirty easily and not hold the three items the Teenager says I always have: tampons, pens, and food rations.
5. & 6. Ribbon tied tank, skirts, bags and sandals. I am putting these two ensembles because they really are variations on a theme. I don’t like anything in either outfit except for the tank. It’s the same tank in two different colors. It’s a decent fabric, and has a triangle in the cleavage area tied together with a wide ribbon. I like the style, though I can’t say I’m a fan of the navy blue. The white, on the other hand, I like. While it is easily stained, it is also very versatile.
7. & 8. Late sixties, early seventies? Before my time chic. I appreciate both of these styles, but they seem dated to me. I would fall in both pairs of shoes. If the gold top is the one I think it is, it feels rough. And I can’t wear an open cardigan. I have no shoulders to hold it up.
9. & 10. Dresses and big totes. This is my style. I love dresses. I already own the mustard tote. The ensemble with the striped dress, lightweight coat and sandals would be a cool mate to my tote, but I wouldn’t buy it. I don’t have enough time in my life to wear sandals. The dress, with its colors and pattern, wouldn’t match enough other items in my warddrobe. But that coat does match my bag.
The red dress looks super cute, and traditional I could totally do the “lady in red” look. And the boots, I need them. Now.
11. Faux leather jacket, jeans (bootcut), clunky shoes, and a funky messenger baggish thing. I love this outfit, but I would switch out the shirt. The shirt is boring. Love the shoes and the bag. I’ve handled a lot of the faux leather jackets, and they are okay. I think this brown color would be flexible.
12. & 13. Tanks and long jeans. I like both these looks but probably like the earrings best. I can’t wear wedges. Ever. The purse is a weird shape and the pattern is too much. I love white jeans, but don’t think I’d invest in a pair until I get a little thinner. But they would look great with the magenta patterned tank with the flared wide-leg jeans. Would I wear the jeans? If I found the right shoes.
14. Ruched crossover sleeveless lavender top, cuffed jeans, slouchy bag, and striped sandals. This is a very update take on what I called the sixties/seventies retro chic in 7 & 8. It’s very relaxed and easygoing, but I wouldn’t wear a single piece of it.
15. The basic sundress beach look. Love the sundress. For a small purse, I like this. I think I keep trying to buy the mustard yellow one that matches my tote. And while I love the shoes, I can’t wear anything that unstable.
16. & 17. Little black dress(es). I really love the ruching on the dress on the left, but I think it wouldn’t hang right on my shape. The little green slouchy boots so remind me of my middle school years, the late 1980s. That means I like them, but I don’t like them. I definitely prefer the tan boots in outfit 10. And while I like the shoes in outfit 11 in brown, here are the same shoes in black and I don’t like them. The purse on the left is unimpressive, but I totally desire the purse on the right. The black and white checks would be a fabulous accent to any solid color piece or pieces.
18. & 19. Upgrades to jeans and a t-shirt. Both of these are decent looks, but I hate both pairs of shoes. The jeans are unimpressive, but I think I like the yellow v-neck top and the bracelet.
20. Casual dressed up? I love the soft feel of this sweater and the buttons but the color doesn’t excite me. I would have to see the jeans on to know for sure how I feel about them, but I’m starting to believe distressed jeans have to be straight, or skinny, in order to have any sort of feminine vibe other than “I’m destitute.”
I have a pair of shoes similar to these, but I can’t walk in them. I take them out of my closet and try periodically and wear them until I almost twist an ankle.
And I like the flashy earrings with a relaxed combo.
21. Feminine distressed. Okay, I might work this look. With my mustard tote it might look amazing, especially if I get the mustard coat.
But seriously, these look to be higher waisted and slightly slimmer distressed jeans. I like the faded wash and the lack of cuffs. I have short legs so we don’t need to make them look any shorter. I love the scoop deck, shaped polka dot top reminiscent of a sun dress. And I have the earring set from Nakamol Chicago but in brown instead of blue. And I not only like the shoes, but I really feel the creamy neutral and they look like suede or faux suede. And I think I could walk in them.
22. Nope. There is nothing positive I can say about this one. I find most of the Daniel Rainn blouses are tacky. And this one outdoes itself. The shoes are boring and basic as are the jeans. And the purse is just ugly and a weird size, too big to be “small” and too small to shove in books, a lunch or a laptop.
23. Back to School. I think I like the shoes. Not sure. Backpack is loud. Shorts are too long. T-shirt the color of a foggy day. Boring.
The wounds I acquired last Monday falling through the screen door (yes, there is a blog on that) have mostly healed, except where Bean Dog accidentally scratched off my scabs. The teenager tells everyone it looks like I had a fist-fight with a bear. And we had a family debate over Indian food– the teenager, her father and I, over whether I won or lost. Consensus was I won. (The Indian food came from Nawab in south Bethlehem, who were gracious hosts despite us not knowing that had converted to reservation only for dinner.)
On Saturday, I went to the gym and hit a new personal best with Andrew at Apex Training. I think it was 110 lbs on the barbell for three reps in box squats. My torso, my thighs, everything could take the weight well, except my knees. My knees kissed as I stood up with each rep. It didn’t hurt. It quivered a little, but I definitely had to plant my feet, balance the weight, lead with my thighs and hips and force those knees slowly out. The weight didn’t bother me. My own knees terrify me.
On Sunday, I performed 111% at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, which means I shipped 555 items. Goal is 500 for a ten-hour shift, but as I reached higher numbers and saw that 555 was possible, I went for it. After all, both 111 and 555 are lovely numbers. Three prime numbers in a row, twice. Patterns and numbers comfort me. They offer a reminder that while a million permutations might exist, that there is underlying order in the world.
Yesterday I started my shift with refixes at the table in QC that has been assigned as mine for about three weeks. My table, line 4b, table 6, has a manual conveyor line on my left, which is great for my balance but bad for my finger. I hit 162, the daily minimum expectation, but barely.
I was achy, with sore feet and a sore spine, but nothing unusual for a person standing for 10 hours a day. I notice on my phone that around 4 p.m. that my walk was asymmetrical by 1%.
I have averaged six hours of sleep lately, with borrowed kittens and the high heat, so I opted to take a muscle relaxer and sleep versus push myself at the gym. My chiropractor has suggested my recent issues with falls and lack of control in my right leg might stem from overdoing it.
Between the heat wave, the full 10-hour shifts, the general aches and stiffness and the inappropriate levels of sleep, I opted to postpone the gym, take one of my muscle relaxers and sleep. I slept much better, but I could use a solid 8 hours or more.
I’m slowly learning just because I can push myself doesn’t mean I should.
Monday. I slept pretty decently last night despite the oppressive heat. I had performed 105% in Freestyle on Sunday in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse, folding and shipping clothes while dreaming of new sundresses for myself.
I came home a little stiff and achy, a trend that seems to be back-sliding on the recent physical progress I made but the finger held up to its first day out of the splint at work.
I also came home early, as the Teenager planned a movie night for blind friend Nan to watch How to Train Your Dragon, a movie I have not yet seen despite the fact that I made a Toothless stuffed animal at Build-A-Bear.
Nan and I were to stop and pick up dinner at Wawa and the Teenager had made homemade ice cream (that honestly was on par with Cold Stone Creamery). And everyone got their desired dish from Wawa— except me— as I wanted a pre-made salad from the grab and go cooler and apparently the cooler was broken. The employees were removing all the food and the floor around it bore wet floor signs.
So I ate leftovers out of my fridge.
The audio-described version of the movie was intense. The poor man doing the description didn’t have time to breathe.
I was in bed by 8 p.m. The cockatoo had issues at 2 a.m. But all-in-all a good night.
At work today, I was tired, hot and a little bored at my regular table in QC. I did 101%.
I’m still have issues with a strange burning and tightness in my right thigh, and dealing with that is causing lower back pain.
I got home from work and tentatively poked my head around the corner in the garage— checking to see if dog was in the yard. She was not.
I walked up the stairs from the car bay to the main room of the garage. Walking across the big open space in my garage, I tripped over my own foot and fell. I did some sort of corkscrew dive and fell backwards through the screen door to exit the garage then skidded across the floor. I scraped my hand, my knuckles, my elbow and I think my leg and knee.
But then I still went to the gym. Under Andrew’s careful eye at Apex Training, I did my workout. I felt better than when I arrived, even if I am still a little stiff and achy, but such is life with cerebral palsy.
I have worked for the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy for 19 months. This November will mark my two-year anniversary. I have done some shopping in the employee store, but I have never signed up for the service.
I first learned about Stitch Fix when they were brand new and I had renewed my subscription to Vogue magazine. You see, part of the reason my fiction takes place in the high fashion world is because I fell in love with the ideas of fashion as a teenager.
If I had more resources and hadn’t grown up in a family struggling to look middle class, I 100% would have been a mall-obsessed fashionista with haute couture aspirations. But my frugal nature and my minimalist desires mean I prefer thrift stores to fancy designers and weeding out clothes to buying them.
It’s one of the core dichotomies of my personality— perhaps that Taurus cusp Gemini natal sign— I want the opulence and beauty but am not willing to pay money for the experience. It feels like a waste.
Right now, I’m dressed in a Target basic white tank top, hand-me-down denim shorts, Dollar Tree socks and a brand new pair of Vans. That sums me up.
So I gave my 40% employee discount to my friend Joan, but if you assign your discount to someone else, you can’t change it for six months. And you can’t have more than one person using it at a time.
And I have had a great time watching Joan unbox her seasonal fixes. I am very glad she was the first one to take advantage of my discount.
Now that Stitch Fix has expanded their “Direct Buy” into the whole Freestyle experience (where I typically spend my Sundays packing orders and shipping them out to clients), it has become possible to order the items you want any time you want.
I asked Joan to use the brand navigation menu to order five or six specific pairs of shoes— one of them for the teenager. In the time it took for me to compile and send the list, one pair of shoes sold out in my size.
But Joan did manage to find three pairs of shoes for me—pink Toms, green Vans and a laceless DV by Dolce Vita sneaker— and one pair of old skool Vans high tops with a zipper for the teenager.
We ordered them Friday afternoon. On Saturday I saw Joan and I gave her money. On Sunday, I went to work wondering if I might see my shoes process out or if they had been shipped by the Saturday crew. The person at the table in front of me got a cart of shoes.
I wondered if she might have mine in there.
While I was considering this fantasy of sneaking my own shoes out of the building, I got a text from Joan. “Your shoes have shipped.”
Now I don’t know if clients are alerted when we hit the “complete” button and the mailing label prints out or when the post office gets their hands on them.
They arrived at Joan’s house on Tuesday, which we didn’t think to change the shipping. Despite having worked a ten-hour shift, the teenager and I headed to Joan’s.
Joan had never seen the large Stitch Fix bag and I was more than a little impressed that whoever packed them got them in there. And the postal carrier got it into Joan’s mailbox.
We placed the shoes in the back of the teenager’s new car and she dove right in. Neither of us knew her sneakers had zippers and she didn’t recall the color so those were fun surprises.
I didn’t have the strength to try on all my shoes— it was my bedtime by this point and we weren’t even home! I did however put on my DV by Dolce Vita laceless sneakers and wear them for the tour around Joan’s quaint home.
When we got home I piled my shoes on the table and my cat Fog made himself a bed on the Stitch Fix shoe duster bags.
Then yesterday I wore the laceless sneakers to work because my Vans needed the laces laced through and I just didn’t even want to untie and retie the Tom’s. But maybe I should have as today when I tried the Toms on my left foot was so tight I couldn’t wiggle my toes and my right foot couldn’t even get into the shoe.
To see me try these shoes on, click here for the YouTube video.
Shame as they were pretty. And had some nice cushy stuff in them.
But sadly I threw away the return label. And the garbage was at the curb. So, yes, I went through my own garbage. Digging through cat refuse to open the discarded Stitch Fix bag and grab the label.
But then I realized that I don’t have an envelope.
At this point, I think I’m going to slap it on the shoe duster bag and hand it to my former supervisor on Sunday morning. When we moved to day shift, she went to women’s returns.
I’d love to exchange them— but I don’t know if I need an 8W, an 8.5 or an 8.5W.
So first things first— let’s embarrass the teenager.
She graduated from high school Friday night. (Above, pictured, left to right: me, her father, her, her paternal grandfather and grandmother and my stepmom)
The weekend that followed included several dinners with family members and we have a party planned later this week.
The other updates:
I have been killing it in the gym. My plank time is more than a minute now. My strength is improving and for the first time ever, I did exercises with a 30-lb dumbbell.
It’s been seven weeks since I got my first cast to treat my mallet finger. Two more weeks until it comes off. Remember that when I mention that I am hitting milestones like the one mentioned above.
I hit the goal for Freestyle on Sunday at work in the Bizzy Hizzy. I shipped 500 items in, if I remember correctly, 363 packages. What makes that amazing is that we also had a one-hour training — so 500 items is the goal for a full day. Taking the training into account, that puts me at 110% for that day.
Yesterday and today I worked at the same left side table in QC. Even with pushing boxes to the left with a bum finger, I did 166 fixes yesterday (102%) and 169 today. (104%).
But here’s the weird part— i was in pain but it didn’t impact my movement. I started each day extremely stiff and with a little bit of back pain, but not in the low or upper back, in between. And as I eased into my shift, my hip hurt deep in the socket, up near my groin, but in the front in a very small but specific spot. And my quad would feel intense pain that sometimes went into my knee but for the most part didn’t. Tylenol doesn’t help. It gradually subsided over two hours. It happened in exactly the same way today.
I combat this my paying extra close attention to all my movements. I plant my feet on the floor and hold my core and glutes tight. I force out my toes and my knees and as I move my body to retrieve clothes below my waist I bend with my hips and stretch them. Is this what helps? Is something out of whack (like my femur) and stiff by morning and I force it back into position?
In very sad news, Charles Ticho, the nonagenarian author who penned the Parisian Phoenix book Stops Along the Way died today. I will be addressing this soon on the Parisian Phoenix blog.