Kittens, craziness and the end of my first two weeks at StitchFix Bizzy Hizzy

So tonight I finished my first two weeks at the Bethlehem warehouse of StitchFix, or the Bizzy Hizzy as they call it. I am still fascinated by the logistics of the warehouse and how well it works.

I reached 128 again tonight in my picking, which considering it looked like I hit 80 before my meal is both good and disappointing. I think I would have hit 140 had I not been stationed in W most of the night. Between the physical distance between that section and the “garage,” about 750 steps, I lost a good four minutes with every cart. That adds up to an hour over the course of the night so yes my math is correct.

This job requires so much walking— about 21,000 steps tonight—that my calves, thighs, feet and butt all burned by the end of the night but it’s the “agony” of muscles that haven’t seen that kind of action in a long time.

I do love seeing what goes in each fix and the fact that I work alone and can compete against my own performance pleases me.

I even got to visit the employee store tonight— where dresses and pants are $10, tops are $5 and you can buy five items. I bought some Christmas presents for the teenager. And a Karl Lagerfeld Paris polka dot sleeveless blouse and 1822 denim ankle skinny jeans in acid-washed camo for myself.

As close to Chanel as I will ever get

The teenager ordered Dominos at midnight so we could all— me, the cockatoo, teenager #1 and teenager #2— could have a pizza party.

That feels like a great start to the weekend.

This afternoon, teenager #1 got a haircut and bleached her hair. While out with her dad, they stopped at our foster godmother’s house to pick up a spare 18-pound turkey she had. Now it looks like I’ll be having some friends over for a turkey meal on Sunday. It will be my first attempt at making a turkey.

Meanwhile, the ringworm which originated with Hermes what feels like months ago has not only spread to both other litters of foster kittens but two of our personal cats.

Speaking of cats… teenager #1 took this video of Jupiter from the Roman Pride and within the first 24 hours on YouTube it had 622 views. YouTube: Hello Jupiter

Another day at the Bizzy Hizzy

It’s approaching 1 a.m. and I am amazed at how quickly I am adapting to going to bed around 1:15 a.m. and waking up around 8:45 a.m.

An hour ago I was placing my laptop into the cupboard, taking my last cart of fixes to the “garage” area and heading to the time clock.

I only walked 16,000 steps in the warehouse tonight but I hit the pre-direct pick picking goal of 128 fixes.

I am sitting in my bed with a gin-and-cucumber-positive-beverage-B12 cocktail. I have kittens surrounding me (the Norse Pride domestic long hairs) and Nala chattering and falling asleep on my knee—and I know my bird should be asleep right now but she wakes up when she hears me come home and she’ll be super angry with me tomorrow if I don’t give her a bedtime cuddle.

She just fell asleep — on my knee.

The scene looks something like this:

The swarming Norse Pride

Poor Fog is whimpering outside my door as he used to be the cat that slept with me until the teenager moved the Norse Pride (some of our foster kittens through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab) into my room. He wants no part of those pesky furball kittens.

But he misses me now that I am working, and he pursues every opportunity he can to be with me.

Fog

Today involved some meetings, including the Lehigh Valley Regional Homelessness Advisory Board. I organized some paperwork and paid some bills as this week’s unemployment payment came.

I received EBT/SNAP (food stamps) for September, October and November so I’ve been combing every store possible for the best deals. Grocery Outlet and Lidl remain my standbys, but I find some good coupons at CVS. Today they sent me a coupon for a Starbucks Frappuccino from their ready-to-drink cooler for $1.49. I had $1 in Extra Bucks expiring today so I got the coffee beverage for 49 cents in food stamps.

Why does SNAP pay for candy and bottles of Frappuccino but there is no program to pay for bath soap, laundry supplies or toilet paper? One friend remarked that poor people must not be allowed to be clean.

So, now that I’m employed again these are issues I shouldn’t have to contemplate much longer.

And I suppose eventually StitchFix might ask me to stop blogging about them but I hope not— I’m a wholesome blogger with a long history in the public relations and journalism field.

But I’m so excited about hitting the 128 number and we had Thanksgiving dinner at work!

Adjustments

As I write this, it is Friday the 13th and after four months of no income, my unemployment has come through as I finish my first week as a warehouse associate at StitchFix. I also have three fluffy kittens on my lap and a Nala bird on my shoulder.

I’d like to find my pretty socks before I go to work tonight, where I will be working in inbound processing.

And I need to head down to the teenager’s room to visit the tuxedo kittens.

But let me tell you a little bit about life at the Bizzy Hizzy. The people are nice, and helpful. I had my first fall— I tripped over am empty pallet at the time clock. A colleague helped me up.

I’ve always enjoyed working second shift— because it allows me to start my day with what I want to do and then go to work and collapse in bed when I get home. No alarm clocks. No getting out of bed at 5 or earlier. Empty roads at night.

I don’t want to share too many specifics on the warehouse— or hizzy in StitchFix terms. We are the Bizzy Hizzy and our mascot is the busy bee.

Second shift at our warehouse is smaller than first so we tend to move into different jobs as needed. Tonight we will all be working on inbound processing as there is a lot of sweaters that need to make it onto the floor.

I don’t want to say too much and infringe upon any proprietary information, but I’ll give you a glimpse of my day.

We all clock in at 3:30 and as I typically work as a picker, my job is to run around the warehouse gathering the clothes the stylist has picked for each client. The best pickers hit the 180 fixes (or each client shipment) in a night.

The first night I picked 80 fixes. The second night I picked 88. Last night I picked 48, and then I went to inbound processing for half my shift.

The warehouse is filled with Z racks of clothes, each rack has five sections, and each row has at least 40 racks. The rows start at AA and then AB etc; then BA, BB, BC etc, through the alphabet. There is a break in the row every ten numbers. So it’s very orderly and the computer maps your path.

At 5:30, the entire population goes into the break room (maximum occupancy pre-Covid was 492) where there are free snacks and drinks. Snacks include yogurt, chips, cookies, Kraft Mac and cheese cups, oatmeal, cereal, hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, muffins, fruit, pop tarts, cup of noodles, trail mix, string cheese, pudding, etc.

At 7:30 everyone takes their 30-minute meal. At 10 pm we have our final break.

My last full shift as a picker I walked 17,000 steps. I’ve lost two pounds already.

There is a company store where everything is $5 or $10. I’d like some of those shoes, and I like the look of Judy Blue jeans. I would love to score some jumpsuits or a Karl Lagerfeld blouse.

My body is getting used to being active again.

And the animals swarm me when I get home.

As I zip through the warehouse I feel like PacMan.

First Day at StitchFix: Bizzy Hizzy

I woke up at 4:45 a.m. to be at my local StitchFix warehouse— the Bizzy Hizzy—for my orientation as a warehouse associate.

I applied at StitchFix because many of my Target colleagues had gone there— including our former store manager who is now the head of one of their other facilities.

The state still hasn’t even looked at my unemployment claim that I opened in July, and despite having a bevy of interviews (non profits in the Lehigh Valley, N.J., and Washington, D.C.; development director for a public library in the Greater Philadelphia region; even a downtown manager), I needed an income other than the SNAP benefits (food stamps) I’ve received for September and October.

Well, I was considering applying at Wawa since the pay is above average for retail, it’s close to my home, and I’ve heard they have some good perks.

But if I have to go back to retail, I’d prefer not to deal with customers and something less labor intensive than food service would be nice.

So why not StitchFix? At least it’s fashion oriented. The walking (11-13 miles a day) will help me lose my extra 20 pounds. And by working on second shift, I will have my days more free to my volunteer commitments and other opportunities.

The benefits start day one and the high deductible medical plan is free for the employee, you must pay to add your family and you have options to have better coverage as well.

Free snacks and drinks in the break rooms.

Break rooms and bathrooms in multiple areas of the warehouse.

No dress code.

They call the warehouses by the name “Hizzy.” We are the Bizzy Hizzy.

But what blew me away was how the warehouse is organized— the clothes are on rows upon rows upon rows of Z racks. The clothes are lettered and numbered so it’s easier to keep track of where you are. Like finding a book on the shelves of a library.

I don’t want to say too much as I don’t know what would be considered a trade secret.

But I can tell you that I walked more than 1400 steps today.

How to Survive During a Pandemic

This one might be hard to write.

First, let’s publicize the good news. The Mighty published my “how to go to the doctor during Covid” essay that they accepted in June: What to expect. The Mighty is a social media site for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Last night, I interviewed for a position in my local Stitch Fix warehouse. I was told I could expect an offer in coming days.

Stitch Fix would be less grueling than any of the other warehouse opportunities (Chewy, Amazon, FedEx, UPS) and less irritating than retail since we never have to interact with the customers.

I am very grateful for the opportunity, and if nothing else comes along in the next few days, I will accept it— and I asked for second shift in hopes of continuing to build Thrive Public Relations and fulfill my volunteer commitments (ASPIRE to Autonomy, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, Mary Meuser Memorial Library and the county Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board).

I don’t know if I can physically handle the job as I am a forty-something with issues in her S1 joint thanks to decades of life with cerebral palsy. But if I get the position I want, I’ll be walking more than 10 miles a day so I’ll lose weight.

I’ll be talking to my doctor (already had a talk with my chiropractor) about what might happen to my body.

And I have to admit that I’m annoyed and frustrated that I lost my job about 15 weeks ago and unemployment hasn’t even looked at my case yet do to the backlog. The wage at StitchFix will be almost exactly what unemployment would have paid me.

And that, my friends, is about 65% of my former salary.

So this “good news” is scary. But that is life as it stands in this body, in this region, in this country, in this world right now.

Exploring new looks

With the teenager and teenager #2 in my home more often than not, they are forcing me to explore new looks.

Zoom has influenced this as I also am trying to look alive and vibrant on camera.

I have started posting “before,” “after” and “product” shots on my Instagram, but let’s call this my “week in review.”

My Target favorite finds— Maybelline “snapscara” in blue; Rimmel Magnif’eyes Jewel, and Revlon player enjôleuse

I love sparkle, and my Oryza nude shimmer and contour palette serves as my everyday base eyeshadow. That was the best find so far via Ipsy, I even ordered a second so I don’t run out.

Now keep in mind, my makeup experience was non-existent five years ago.

Today

I start everyday with some Oil of Olay moisturizer with SPF 30, a promise I made to my primary care physician to protect my skin. My brand loyalty is based on sales & coupons. (CVS)

When I start to put on my makeup, I used some re:p (real elemental practice) phytocell moisture serum. I like the way it makes my dry cheeks feel and it smells like oregano or some other garden herb. (Ipsy)

My primer today was IT your skin but better color correcting full coverage cream SPF 50+ broad spectrum UVA & UVB. Thought it would hide my dark circles for my zoom. (Ipsy) This is teenager 2’s go to when she works my make-up.

I actually did my cheeks next — I did a whole lot of bronzer. My tarte bronzer in park avenue princess is another product from Ipsy.

Eyes today are the palest Oryza shimmer color, with a layer of the bronze shimmer color and a spread around some slightly purple glitter from the Starlit Dio kaleidoscope palette I ordered from Target.com.

Lips were my Seraphine botanics lip gloss in Berry & Juice. This lip gloss has the best berry smell.

Yesterday

Yesterday I started with my normal Olay complete, and some of the rep serum, and did my hair with the Brazilian hair cream.

Did my eyes with my normal Oryza shimmer, blush was Will Powder from Ipsy, but lips were from Baby Bat Beauty, there celestial lip gloss I believe.

The heavy duty glitter on my eyes is Baby Bat Beauty Glass Slipper.

Pre-Birthday Magic

Many years ago I bought a silk slip on clearance in a beautiful teal blue color that matches my current bedroom. Because it’s a full slip, and such a strange and rich color, I never found a dress I could wear with it.

Last night I decided to wear it as a nightgown. I felt so fancy.

I was so cozy in my silk slip I didn’t want to get dressed. I thought a good way to compromise would be to wear a dress. And I got a new dress from The Attic that I haven’t worn.

I did my make-up and everything.

Now to make things more interesting I managed to convince my dad that we should have a socially-distanced picnic to celebrate my birthday and my step-mom’s birthday which are both tomorrow. I really want to cook these on the grill, and I don’t have any charcoal for mine.

And I had to order these. They sound so good! And when I ordered them from Tucker Silk Mill, I ordered fresh dill, fresh ginger, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, golden beets, cauliflower, and purple peppercorns. The Vietnamese purple peppercorns were a birthday splurge.

And I never had golden beets, but I don’t really note any difference between those and regular beets.

I hung a load of wash outside and noticed so many lily of the valleys. At the front of the house my roses are finally blooming. I can’t wait to bring bouquets into the house.

At work today we still didn’t come to any agreement on when I can take my vacation.

I was working on my laptop on the sun porch when two women starting taking photos of my flowers. I heard them comment how beautiful my roses and irises are. I said thank you and started them as they hadn’t seen me.

They had been worried someone would yell at them for being in my yard. I laughed. No, I said, you are welcome. They took photos!

The teenager arrived home with the lemon cardamom cake she baked at my request for my birthday.

Recipe from Spice TrainLemon cardamom cake (click photo for recipe) On my 30-minute lunch break, the teenager and I ran down to Tucker to get my impulse buy of vegetables and then headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for my free birthday coffee which they completely screwed up. The teenager got some more of her special Dunkin stones from the side of the drive through.

(For more on the teenager’s fascination with the magical uses of these particular stones… it started here: Thank You Tucker Provisions with our last visit to Tucker. Apparently each time we go to Tucker, I let my daughter pick up random rocks at Dunkin.)

But she has always valued the power in rocks.

And honestly, I’m glad they screwed up my coffee and gave me a smaller weaker drink because I submitted four grants to my executive director today so my nerves were shot. I had just enough time to bring these goodies into the house before I had to clock back in!
My provisions from Tucker

The kittens and big old Oz gathered around me while I worked. My mother-in-law gave me a birthday card with money in it and my dad sent a really cute cupcake card with a check.

Then the teenager and I walked down to CVS to get my prescription and my neighbor who owns Sobaka, the Maltese yorkie mix, joined us. This gave the teenager a chance to try the new dog training clicker I bought her from Petco.

And I got my free nail polish from CVS for my birthday.

I came home and roasted vegetables, are cake and watched Star Trek The Next Generation with my daughter.

The found t-shirt

In the fall, I bought myself a new very warm coat and cashmere lined gloves from Land’s End. I was very excited about it, and in the enthusiasm of potentially being warm this winter, the t-shirt I ordered was forgotten.

It was a simple white t-shirt, but not fitted the way I like them, so I suppose that’s how it got relegated to the back of the closet.

Today I found it.

It’s a tad wrinkled, but it’s gleaming, crisp and white. In this Coronavirus pandemic, it’s suddenly exciting to have something new in my life.

So amid the decisions of today—Can I start wash and hang it outside it is my work day too busy and my boss might get upset if I step away from my computer for ten minutes? Do I use my lunch break to take the teenager to the hardware store? Should we visit two grocery stores this weekend or is that too irresponsible?—I feel new and put together.

New white T

Dress Quest in Djibouti

There’s a dress I want, but every time I step into the women’s shop, surrounded by women, a man from the street dives toward me to help me with the purchase. He will then receive a commission from the shopkeeper and it aggravates me because I only receive this treatment because I am white.

I bought two dresses, from two different shops today, with a unwanted helper, but paid 2500 Dj Francs. That’s about $13.50. It’s also what I paid for my dinner last night at the sit-down restaurant of high quality.
  
The dress I want comes with the headscarf and my first helper wanted me to pay 5,000 Djiboutian Francs. 

I returned later, hadn’t even expressed interest in the dress when a different man swooped in upon me while a woman insisted on trying to sell us incense.

Today M and I started out early and wove through the side streets and alleys of the market to sneak into my shop from behind.

We did it. Walked up to the counter and asked for my dress. An older Djiboutian woman in a mountain of colorful textiles leaned over and pinched the fabric as I held it. She nodded her approval.

And so I bought it. For 1800 Dj Fr. About $10. With the scarf. And to think I paid 2500 yesterday.