CEO and CMO at the Bizzy Hizzy

So last week they made this announcement at work.

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.

Photo: the email announcing I was selected

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.

12.

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.

JP and Giorgio

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.

Commentary #2 on Stitch Fix fashion trends, waiting for first Fix

On Monday, the Teenager should receive her first Fix. I’m tremendously excited. So much so I am annoying her. But, she is 18, and I often annoy her by existing. She received her preview yesterday, and complained about it, as she said it ruined the surprise.

She selected two or three of the eight recommended items, with my input, and left her stylist some notes. I believe it was a heavy knit sweater, a thin but soft color blocked sweatshirt and some Vigoss black shorts. She rejected the cardigans, almost chose the faux leather jacket, and liked but ignored the two pairs of boots. I think in part because I have purchased her several pairs of shoes lately.

I offered to give her my employee discount and a budget to pursue some fixes as she was recently lamenting that she hasn’t had a chance yet to develop her own style. She’s paying her own bills: car payment, food, contributing toward electric and car insurance, so I thought investing some of my monthly savings into her wardrobe would be fun.

Meanwhile, I’m watching my Stitch Fix account and the trends, waiting for my turn. Which won’t be until Valentines Day.

If you want to see my overzealous first set of trend reviews, click here.

Here are some recent outfits from my recommended trends:

Let’s break these down.

Now, I do have this dress in my favorites as it is adorable, but I find it amusing that Stitch Fix is offering me the same dress in two different colors. My soul wants the red, but I feel my style now is more black. The black would give me the freedom to accessorize with a vibrant scarf, a bright purse like the one in the photo or any pair of shoes I own.

I love this ensemble— and I could even walk in the shoes. The dress is fairly heavy, too, so it should have some great drape when worn and offer some warmth.

This dress looks amazing but it’s really short and I’m not sure my middle-aged mom bumps could pull it off. I love those animal print shoes but I don’t think I can wear them so I perused the other styling options— boots, a necklace and motorcycle jacket? That is definitely awesome.

I don’t like this outfit. I like the theory— and the jacket is the one my friend Joan received in the video below. It looks nice on Joan, but I don’t like the fabric. The little green shirt looks good in the photo and seems to look good on people, but it’s just weird when you see it. The shoes are funky and I don’t like them. But the outfit might be nice.

And finally two outfits that would probably be perfect for my current lifestyle. One note: I want that mustard sweater.

Here is the video of Joan and I unboxing her recent fix:

The Teenager is already dreading when I submit her to something similar.

Changing it up… Revival?

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.

Reviewing the trends in my Stitch Fix account

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.

  1. 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.

My first Stitch Fix Freestyle order

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.

Meanwhile, I’m happy with my other shoes.

Some cats, some ramen, learning the “mailer machine” and more about childhood trauma and imposter syndrome

First, the cat picture of the day.

Misty and Oz, two of our cats

Next, let’s briefly do a Purple Carrot Update. Today I prepped the matcha overnight oats and made the ramen bowl. (Video of matcha prep here.)

The teenager vetoed the homemade miso broth and fresh ramen.

I had the leftover black pepper tofu for dinner and it was soooooooo good, even leftover.

And most Purple Carrot meals take 30 minutes to prepare, which in my kitchen has been translating to 40 minutes. Much better than the cooking marathon caused when a Hello Fresh box comes.

But now to the Bizzy Hizzy. I finally learned the “mailer machine.” It’s a folding machine. We used it to fold the postal service priority mailers that go in each fix.

We had trouble getting the machine to work— so we didn’t really get started until after first break. We folded 4401 mailers.

Basically we unpack the mailers, sort them so they are less likely to jam the machine, and feed/empty the machine. There is a zen to lining up the mailers on the rolling machine, fanning them and making sure they don’t curl.

I was sent to the mailer machine as part of Stitch Fix’s quest to know what tasks I perform best. I perform regularly at 96% in QC but unfortunately when I have bad day that plummets to 85-90%. They raised the pick goal so I only do 75% of that. Apparently I have shown both potential and inconsistency in inbound processing and returns. I apparently tanked in style carding (66%) which I would like to believe was a fluke but maybe not. And a shocking 29% in NAP binning. It was shoes. And it was very painful.

I’m told they want everyone to have two work centers they can perform 100%.

So now I’m at the mailer machine.

If I’m honest with you, and it is very hard for me to say this in public, what I hear is: “You’re not good enough for us, so since you suck at everything, let’s stick you on this machine back in the corner.”

I feel threatened. And like a failure.

And that is not what they said. At all.

But I have a disability that makes me insecure and makes me feel inferior, unworthy. And certain childhood traumas leave me feeling unwanted, and as if I am a burden to everyone.

So I am being honest. For one reason. In case someone else is fighting a similar battle and needs to know he/she/they are not alone.

Middle of the Night Ruminations Providing Insights and Honoring Success

First, the exciting news of the day… our new gym shirts from The Fitness Tee Co arrived a day early. The teenager presents an unboxing on YouTube here.

I couldn’t resist the doughnut tank and the other witty slogans. They were about $20 each and there was a BOGO 50 % off sale on the day I ordered. Shipping was $10.

Update on the progress with Apex Training: As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my trainer, Dan, and I worked core and lower body hard. (Read that here.)

Today my thighs and maybe my hamstrings hurt. Everything hurts. But when I went to work in QC tonight, I emptied every fix from the carts with the same squat form I would use if he were watching. That’s more than 125 times. And here’s the tidbit to consider about my quest to learn more about my body and my cerebral palsy, even though my thighs and hamstrings hurt, my knees moved much easier than I recall. Is it true? Or just my perception? And I came home without any back pain.

Three cheers to my trainer Dan at Apex.

In other Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix news, my supervisor has asked me to learn mailer machine. This is a work center only a few people in each shift know how to do. I have heard stories of the finicky and evil mailer machine. But, of course, I said sure.

As my supervisor walked away, I started to get a panicky feeling inside. Yesterday I was moved from my normal spot in QC to a position on the warehouse floor consolidating items in the flat pack bins. Then I got moved from that to men’s returns processing.

On Wednesday, I trained a brand new temp on women’s returns processing.

And now next week the mailer machine?

A few weeks ago it was a brief exposure to style carding.

My insecurity flared— thanks past employers— and I wondered “do I perform so poorly they keep moving me around to a place where I fit?”

And I chastised myself because I know the metrics, I’m not a bad employee. I hope they see I am reliable, flexible, smart, and enjoy learning.

To calm my insecurity, I texted my talented and lovely friend Joan. She retired from a place you might know, Martin Guitar. She worked, I believe, in human resource stuff. And she has some fancy jargon to toss around like Sigma and stuff.

I asked her, texting on my final ten minute break of the night: “I consistently achieve 96% of goal. They constantly train me for new things— spending a day here and there without mastering anything.
Am I someone they can rely on?
Or are they trying to find something I can do?”

I could hear Joan’s sigh across the night.

She replied, “They recognize that you are smart, and they don’t want you to get bored. They are cross training you to keep you flexible… They know you will catch on fast and do your best, even if it’s not 100% against their numbers. Does the job get done fast and well? Can they rely on you to do it? Of course!”

Everyone needs a friend like Joan.

Tell your insecurities to go f*ck themselves

The wise and effervescent Joan Z

She goes on, “Remember, they’re putting you where they need you. You are a willing pair of hands and pretty good at it. As I used to tell the people at the guitar factory, the more stuff you know how to do, the more valuable you are to the company.”

But here’s my favorite advice, “Tell your insecurities to go f*ck themselves.”

So a big thank you to Joan!

Training Update: Finishing Week Three at Apex Training

My body turned to me as I went to my car after work today, and as I fiddled with the radio (calling up Natalie Merchant on Spotify singing Space Oddity), my body said to me,

“Jesus, woman, what are you doing? We need to talk.”

But seriously.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? But we can’t spend too much time on all this as it is 1:30 a.m. and my aching body craves sleep.

The teenager was up fairly early today so I suggested she and our almost 1-year-old pit bull/mastiff/black lab puppy walk with me to the gym, about 5 blocks away.

Now if you’re new here… I’m 46 years old, a former newspaper reporter. I have an amazing 17-year-old daughter. Her father and I separated two years ago but he lives nearby and is still an important part of our household. I have cerebral palsy. He has a club hand. I have recently started a quest to learn more about my body, restart my bodybuilding commitment (I was really into it six years ago) as an alternative to traditional physical therapy, and hopefully lose the 20 pounds I gained stress eating to cope with the toxic workplace of the last nonprofit I worked for.

So, the teenager, the dog and I walked up to the gym. F. Bean Barker is learning new manners everyday and the guys at the gym thought she was a beautiful dog.

And then the focus changed to leg day. Now, on upper body day I get to train like a normal person. On lower body day, my poor trainer has to balance my physical deficits with my desire to kick ass.

Or maybe I’m just as awkward both days, and I just never noticed.

Today was session six. It’s the last week of two sessions a week and next week we increase to three.

Please note: I have been in gyms lifting weights since college, which was about 25 years ago, and in recent years I’ve been in physical therapy to learn to walk, for balance, for the strain of my lumbar region caused by trouble with my S1 joint and my broken ankle. Every body is different. Every ailment or disability is different. It is a quest to balance what works for you, what your body needs and what hurts.

I firmly believe that nothing fixes the body like the right exercises. But for people with disabilities or health issues, it’s hard to recognize what pain you need to work through and what hurt is bad. As a weight lifter, I know muscle recovery pain. As a person with a disability, I often experience burning pain.

As a society, I feel like we invest so much money in medical tests, mental health, drugs, organic food, but we don’t want to pay for a trainer.

My trainer is getting to know me. He knows how to observe me. He asks questions about my mobility. We test exercises by going easy at first and adjusting them based on my performance.

And he reads me well.

There are times I can tell he’s afraid of pushing me too far and then I do the exercise and he makes it ten times harder because I surpassed his expectations. This makes him a good trainer because it means he’s testing my basic form and strength so I don’t get hurt. And he reads my body language to see how I’m doing— not relying on my words.

A good trainer has to push you out of your comfort zone. But he also has to make sure everything’s executed for best impact and in a way that you don’t get hurt.

I have to admit, I hated him a little today. But I also love his full body approach. But when he tells me to do sumo squats with a 15-pound dumbbell and my toes pointed out AND make sure my knees “follow” my toes… I don’t know whether to cry or punch him.

It’s the gym— both those feelings are valid.

But let’s examine the issue. My knees face in.

This means to perform the motion he has requested, I need to move one foot at a time carefully into position. I need to really concentrate on balance. As I move, I need to keep my head up, focus on stretching the knees to position in line with my toes (which is not the way they go) while holding a weight and trying not to fall.

I was dripping sweat by the end of this session— before he hands me a kettle bell to end the work out with kettle bells swings.

When I got home, I made a massive high protein vegan pasta. See me make it here (this can also be my official “before” video.)

I ate 90% vegan today. Only animal products I had were half and half for my coffee and a pack of beef jerky at work. I almost had iced tea with local honey but the teenager spilled it when I left it on the dog crate.

This was dinner:

Speaking of dinner— tonight at the Bizzy Hizzy my team competed in the Stitch Fix olympics. We won the gold medal in the egg toss. I was relieved they weren’t real eggs.

In other news:

  • I almost started editing William Prystauk’s latest novel in the Kink Noir series.
  • My Poppy Z. Brite books have arrived.
  • I hurt. I hope it’s the good hurt.
  • My friend Joan not only brought us old linens, but scored a cat carrier and animal crate at a yard sale.

Style Cards and the Soothing Sorting

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

Subscription boxes were brand new then.

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

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

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

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

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

The teenager thinks I’m nuts.

Maybe I am.

Foster Khloe and sample style cards

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

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

Watch Khloe and Louise

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

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

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

And I’m no closer to posting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also won Cards against Humanity.