Mindless Satisfaction

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

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

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

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

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

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

Days get weird

I live in an urban setting but in a small town. I love everything about my town— but no town is ever fully prepared for a three-day snowstorm.

I have a garage that fronts a quaint alley, as many people in our borough do. In a big snowstorm I typically move my car to the street. Because the street very quickly looks like this after a storm:

But I didn’t. Not this time. Even with a foot or a foot and a half of snow I can shovel my end of the alley if need be.

Not this time. We got 2.5 feet of snow and this is what my garage is facing:

And that is the street there.

So much snow fell that they can’t get the plows down the narrow alleys. Despite five plows and the whole crew, they need to go in with smaller equipment and move the snow with dump trucks.

It’s now 3:30 and we still haven’t seen any of our snow go, but we were fortunate to have our favorite little dog stop by and visit. Her mom started a new job just a few hours a day where she is learning great secrets— like how to make chocolate bombs.

I had to call out from work at my warehouse— the Bizzy Hizzy— so this week may end up an unpaid and stoic vacation with a shovel in hand.

Teenager #1 made the best of conditions and took the cats out to the snow.

Her quote was, “Mom, this is why I need a dog.”

And in exciting news, I got to talk shop with a newspaper editor today. Not going to say anything more other than it was a good conversation and I hope I have the chance to continue the talk.

And finally, if you need some cockatoo amusement:

Nala video of the day

Consolidator

At Stitch Fix, Monday was a paid holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Day. But we still had to do 8-hours of mandatory overtime. So I worked 10-hour days Tuesday through Friday. And then today I worked 10-2. I’ve been experimenting to what works best for my life and my body. After those 10-hour shifts, my four-hour one passed quickly. Super quickly.

Right now I am in an Epsom salt bath, trying to get Nala to play in the water.

The wind is howling vigorously outside. Nala’s more than a little nervous. And I’m having trouble staying warm in this tub.

I’ve worn a couple of my new shirts from Dolls Kill— which the teenagers unboxed here: Teenagers unboxing Dolls Kill haul. I’ve received some compliments.

So, one interesting thing about life at the Bizzy Hizzy is that second shift (known as midnight society) tends to work where needed versus in a particular position. With a shortage of inventory, we’ve been working inbound even if we are normally outbound.

Working in this warehouse environment makes me realize I am fascinated by operating logistics. Day shift has so many people they are streamlined to factory precision. Evening shift does not have quite that automation.

Last night I worked in men’s inbound— and I have never set foot in the men’s section of the warehouse. It’s clean, uncluttered and quiet. Then for my shift I went back to women’s returns processing. Today I served as consolidator. That was collecting clothes and distributing hangers.

Now there are two schools of thought on whether cross-training benefits the worker.

1. As an employee, we are hired for a certain job and our wage or salary is set by our skill level and what we do. When an employer asks us to perform additional roles without adjusting our compensation, they are taking advantage of the employee.

2. When an employee, particular one in a low-skill arena, agrees to perform more than one function, they are proving their willingness to learn and their capacity, which allows the employer to assess their performance and capacity. This will factor into evaluations and could lead to growth within the company.

Both are valid, and both are horseshit as workers are not really valued in American culture. The United States’ system values business and profit but not so much the individual.

But learning these different roles entertains me and quells my curiosity.

And this morning before work I treated myself to a breakfast at Wendy’s because I really like their seasoned potatoes. And I tried the Breakfast Baconator. I wanted it to be a hamburger. See my review here: Review of the Breakfast Baconator

And after work I stopped to see Mars and Vesta at Petco: Mars and Vesta

Meanwhile at home, Minerva turned a corner: Cuddly Minerva

Rip it off fast like a bandaid

It’s 11 a.m. on Friday morning— it looks crisp and clear outside. Teenager #2 is in school. Teenager #1 just emerged from her room as we both got to sleep around 3 a.m.

Mandatory overtime and lack of sleep are kicking my ass. My household is experiencing some knocks too as the Roman Pride tuxedo kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab are vomiting. We hope it is because of a recent change in their food.

I wish I could say the birds have been quiet. But alas, alack, the cats broke into my room while Boo-Boo the yellow parakeet was free-flying and Boo-boo flew downstairs. Now Boo-boo is not a hand-tame bird.

This occurred while I was wrestling clothes in the Quality Control Valley 2 of the Bizzy Hizzy at Stitch Fix. Teenager #1 heard Boo-boo screaming because two of our household cats had taken to swiping her out of the air.

Teenager #1 rescued Boo, who was still feisty enough to bite her repeatedly.

So there was that.

Meanwhile, at the Bizzy, I was thinking about numerology and “angel numbers,” thanks to a podcast I heard the other night. In the midst of all this craziness, as I was leaving work the other night, my odometer read 33533. Palindrome. Prime numbers. “Sacred threes.”

Okay so it’s blurry: 33533

So the boxes that got returned to me last night were sent back for issues with wrapping. One of the people training me finally came over and asked how I tear my paper. I showed her. Carefully. Almost daintily.

“Ah, she said, “there lies the problem. You need to rip it fast like a bandaid.”

I did and the results were very different and better.

My foe

I thanked her for the tutelage and laughed, pointing out that this was not something that did not come naturally to my skill set. I have no depth perception when related to placing items in containers. I suck at folding clothes. It’s agonizing for my body to stand still for 8 hours. And I have no concept of straight lines.

But all in all I am improving and I truly enjoy the challenge of learning something new. It reminds me of when I first learned cash office at Target. I wanted to vomit every time I started my shift.

The person overseeing me thanked me for taking criticism well, and again I laughed, and reminded her that I needed her it. She said a lot of people get frustrated. And I assured her that I was indeed frustrated with myself for repeating the same mistakes. She quickly revised her statement— “No, she said, people get really frustrated with me.”

And that struck me. Because I know what she means. And I have to say, in both my professional and… let’s call them survival jobs, I have had supervisors that understand how to deliver constructive criticism and all kinds of feedback and those supervisors who care about the mission, the corporate line, and/or themselves and how they look, more than they were invested in the people.

So far in the Bizzy Hizzy, I have not met one of those. I also feel I am in the honeymoon phase at Stitch Fix. My judgment may be skewed.

This mandatory overtime stinks. We’re all exhausted. And even the scrambled egg appreciation breakfast and free snacks can’t push us past that.

This might be the spot to mention that one of my supervisors spent most of the night running around with a squealing plastic chicken.

The nurse wandered into the Valley about 12:30 to check on everyone doing overtime (as the “deep cleaners” worked around us— which by the way, they move nothing and just wipe shit down. I find more dust and grime when I do my nightly wipes). I showed the nurse my new skill at tearing craft paper. She gave me a gloved high five.

I’m working a normal 8-hour shift tonight then returning for an 8-hour double time shift tomorrow morning. Now if you excuse me, I must go lay out my quarterly budget as it is 2-weeks overdue.

Travelogue at home

The other day I asked myself— what would happen if we approached our everyday lives like a writer taking notes for a travelogue?

Interesting that I thought of this now, as Facebook reminded me that 5 years ago I was in Somalia eating fruit so succulent it was like ice cream. I remember the dark wood of the built-in wardrobe of our hotel room, the way the guard at the top of the stairs would chit-chat with me as he rocked his plastic lawn chair with his gun across his lap.

That was also the week I decided to overhaul my marriage— because as I was traveling the streets of Mogadishu trying to interpret the paintings that adorned the shops and watched a women make coffee on the side of the road amidst traffic, I realized I had my laptop in Somalia with all of our household information. If anything had happened to me, I didn’t know if my husband knew how to log into our bank account or when to pay the mortgage (or how much it was or who receives the payment).

I suddenly realized my own mortality. And that my control of everything needed to change.

To return this ramble to the idea of a quotidienne travelogue, I always blog while we travel, even to places more mundane than Africa, and M, my traveling companion, would always sit down with his phone and his cigarette about to read the link I sent him.

“Oh good,” he would say, “Let’s see what I did today.”

Life at the Aviary

The colors in the room— vivid pink (almost a fuchsia) walls in semi-gloss, teal swirly floral-paisley curtains and a yellow patterned duvet color with pink sheets adorned with white polka dots— created a cheery environment that brightened exponentially with every ray of sunshine that crept in through the three windows facing south.

The birds grew more animated as the sun intensified, three adult parakeets and three freshly hatched chicks under three weeks old and a Goffin’s cockatoo, a mini-parrot who expressed her nervousness by barbering and plucking her own feathers. Even bird teenagers are prone to rituals of self-harm.

Once awake, I strolled down to the living area, also decorated boldly but simply with sky blue walls with a hint of turquoise and a chalkboard wall under the stairs with a variety of notes. The furniture included a cushioned bench, cozy teal chairs, and an emerald green loveseat that sat oddly low to the ground.

I sipped a very hot cup of coffee with cream not brewed but steamed for me as if it were espresso. Cats swirled at my feet, including one with a gruff, tired face. He wore a Captain America collar. When he moved, his gait revealed his amputee status— having lost his front left leg to kitty cat cancer.

After this, I traveled back to the aviary chamber to help care for the birds. I handled these tiny chicks!

My companion and I departed shortly after our “chores” to have breakfast at Tic Toc Diner. My companion has a love of chocolate milk and pancakes. She insists that both always tastes better at a diner.

I discover what might be my new all time favorite breakfast: Eggs Benedict Florentine with garlic and tomato. As a poached egg is one of my favorite things on Earth, it only gets better when we add some nutritionally dense spinach smothered in hollandais sauce.

The pleasures here and simple and the environment chaotic.

This old house and this old brain

This is my first full work week post-Covid. Last night was the first night of the week that I felt competent and capable.

And now today that feeling is gone. I’m slow. I can’t even say I’m tired but my brain is foggy and I just can’t do more or move faster.

Last night I packed 75 fixes at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I took about 5 1/2 minutes per fix which was a nice improvement over the previous night.

But tonight I am averaging 6 1/2 minutes per fix— almost double the goal of 3 3/4 minutes per fix. Three minutes and 45 seconds to fold five pieces of clothing into a box. Neatly.

They announced mandatory overtime tonight. Starting Monday everyone must work eight extra hours per week. I’m struggling to survive 40 so this was not the news I needed.

At home, the parakeet chicks look like real birds. Mama Periwinkle still won’t let her best friend Peek-a-Booboo into the cage—I tried to reintroduce her into the cage and Periwinkle flew over to her, grabbed her by the neck and threw her to the ground. So poor Booboo remains in isolation.

Nala might be done plucking but the damage is done. Her wings look like Buffalo wings.

And tomorrow Loki has another family coming to consider him.

The teens have an appointment at 11 to use the gift certificates I bought them for the salon. They both plan to get a set of acrylic nails.

In preparation, teenager #1 is trying to finish household projects. Like mounting the new dustbuster to the wall. And swapping out my bedroom door.

I had several beautiful moments with my daughter this week, and some good reflections. So I guess this blog entry is a good introduction into what may come in the next few days.

And if you google “how many calories do you burn folding clothes,” the answer is an optimistic 148 an hour. That suggests I’m burning 1,000 calories a night.

As I fold, I listen to podcasts. And I think. And I am reminded how often is takes finesse and skill to do our best when we are not good at something and wish to be.

I intellectually tell myself that coming back after Covid to a new job is hard, and that I have to stop comparing myself to my experienced colleagues. But it’s hard.

The joys and lessons of 2020

I know 2020 dealt a lot of people a bad hand at cards, so to speak, and I know so many people have suffered— loved ones lost, food insecurity, unemployment, instability, break-ups.

I naively believe every year will “be a good year” or a better year… but let’s talk Turkey for a minute: I have a disability (cerebral palsy), I come from a certain socio-economic bracket that has made it difficult (but not impossible) for me to achieve long term financial stability, and my own job choices have often valued community, family and altruism over traditionally-defined middle class life.

2019 was the year I resumed my professional career after taking ten years “off” to raise my daughter. (I worked for Target for those 10 years and they gradually increased my part time hours to full time and so I opted to get paid a professional salary versus a retail wage if I were to put that many hours in.)

My husband and I separated in 2019. That was a huge change after 20 years, and it still pains me. My husband is one of the kindest people in the world, and while I still lament that we couldn’t fix our problems, the end had to come.

So what were the joys and lessons of 2020?

Let me share.

  • Cats. December 26, 2019 through late January 2020, the teenager trapped the feral kittens born under our neighbors porch. We kept two of them. Taming feral kittens gave us so much reward. And led to us working with FURR. Our fostering career has involved 12 kittens so far, in seven months. And I cannot tell you how much I love having babies around all the time. On days I don’t want to get out of bed, I do for them.
  • Birds. I met Nala on December 28, 2019 and brought her home in mid-January. By dealing with this obstinate Goffin’s cockatoo, I learned a lot of patience. And the best way to top being “a crazy cat lady” is to be the crazy cat lady with birds. And my parakeets had babies for Christmas 2020. I have three chicks that I have seen grow daily.
  • Professional and personal growth. I found myself crying at my desk more often than I like to admit in 2020. It became apparent by the end of January that my boss was an incredibly toxic person. At the same token, I learned so much from her that when she dismissed me during the pandemic, I could use those new skills to help a young nonprofit grow. Between my original job and my volunteer work with new nonprofits, I showcased this knowledge to steer these organizations to grants. And the success rates for grants, publication of an first-ever annual report, and various media placements throughout the Lehigh Valley was exhilarating.
  • Expanding family. As my faithful readers may know, I have a second teenager staying with me. This teenager has turned our lives upside down, but has shared in our joys and tribulations during the last four months. I always wanted a larger family— and I got it this year: a menagerie of birds, cats and teenagers. It’s been amazing to share our joys and traditions with someone and see my daughter react to no longer being an only child.
  • New attitude toward challenges. I am always the person you can count on when you need someone. So people don’t realize that I am often terrified and insecure. Being “alone” and a single custodial parent has gotten me over that. I had five months with no income and I lived on the $4500 I had in savings. I ended up in the hospital with a cat bite during that time period and it was such a great learning experience. I learned a lot about myself, my neighbors, my friends, and how amazing teenager #1 really is. And then I finally get unemployment after I get my new job at Stitch Fix. I promptly use it to pay off some of my medical bills and a few living expenses I had put on my American Express.
  • We will move beyond Covid. I finally got a job and three weeks in, I contract Covid-19. That whole experience was something, but again— I learned to ask friends, neighbors and family for help. And that GrubHub gift certificate I received during the summer months sure came in handy. This whole pandemic world has me mapping out whom I would recruit for my squad in a real catastrophe.

Maybe I’m just weird— but I see a lot of hope and triumph emerging from struggle. Cheers to 2021.

Accidents (or the four letter word that starts with S and means ‘poop’) happens.

It’s been a hectic couple of days.

The teenager is pet-sitting for our FURR foster godmother. So she’s in and out of my house several times a day.

I have misplaced Fern’s adoption paperwork, which is totally not like me. Luckily Fern went to a friend of mine so I can asked her to send me a photo.

Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, has been upset and stressed and plucked her flight feathers off her one wing.

It’s really sad to see the confusion in her face when she tries to fly and just falls.

Speaking of Nala, I met her a year ago today.

We had a devil of a time containing Boo-boo last night but since we did Wink and Yo-yo seem much more relaxed as parents. I think it was the right call. Video: catching Boo

And here is a video of the parakeet chicks: Budgie babies!

I also finally got a good picture of Loki:

Sir Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey

While three out of my four cats were cuddly and cute.

Back to Front: Opie, Oz, Fog

Then I headed out to work for the first day since Covid. I stopped at Dunkin for a coffee and discovered there were no more good deals. So I didn’t get my coffee.

No one explained the protocol for my return so I don’t have the proper paperwork from my doctor. I’ll try and get that started— already called the doctor— but am waiting on their end of the paperwork.

I’m annoyed— mostly because I was ready to go back but also because I don’t know if this lack of communication will mean I lose income. With it being the holiday week, I probably won’t get rapid cooperation from the medical folks. And part of that is because there are people sicker and needier than I am.

After everything I’ve been through this year, I won’t complain.

It gave me time to do some grocery shopping and cook for the other teenager.

I even helped her make a smoothie.

One more week of 2020.

It’s a pets’ Christmas

Today has been a peaceful and special Christmas Eve. Unwrapping presents with Mimi before breakfast. Breakfast via the Dunkin Donuts drive through.

Breakfast on Christmas Eve was $6.66 before tax

But the best part of the morning was when all the kittens vacated my room. Mama Periwinkle (Wink) let me see her baby chick! I see there is only one egg left— and I’m still not sure if there is a younger chick in there under the older one.

Periwinkle and Peek-a-Boo (Boo-Boo) were bonded females, and even now Boo-Boo seems to protect her “sister” and guard her nest. Yo-yo is a devoted father, but the three birds seem to be raising the family together.

Around lunch time, we video-called the teenager’s grandparents and both teenagers opened their gifts. Teenager #2 cried when upon discovering that my mother in law bought a custom made ornament personalized with name, the year, a musical staff and a drum. The fact that practical strangers were able to discern that many little personal details became a little overwhelming.

But the biggest moment of my Christmas Eve was finally escaping the clutches of Covid enough to deliver Fenrir of the Norse Pride aka Fern aka Fern-Edie now to be Edie to her FURRever home through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. The fact that one of my favorite people adopted her certainly made it even better.

Because she went home with a friend, I made a little care package to introduce the two of them.

And I also gave Nala a Christmas gift. After a nap on my shoulder. The gift—A new bell to replace the one she brought with her from Bird Mania. She broke the clapper out of her old one. She’s already unwrapped it, played with it, and rung it for me.

Snow Shenanigans

Greetings from day 9 or 10 of my Covid life. We had a pretty sizable snowstorm yesterday that reminded me of my childhood.

If you look carefully in that first picture you’ll see a cute little Nissan 4-door. It had North Carolina plates and like a real Southern Belle the owner tried to drive over all the snow.

My teens are now out back shoveling the garage and I’ve exhausted myself loading the dishwasher. My main Covid symptom today is extreme dizziness. I’m sick of every beverage I’ve been drinking — 1-2 liters of seltzer a day, 32 to 64 ounces of herbal tea and 1-2 cups of coffee.

And while my appetite is fine, I have at least one bowl of soup a day so I can get even more liquid.

Yesterday the teenager asked her dad to bring me a good old-fashioned NY style pizza which I ate for lunch, dinner, midnight snack and breakfast.

The teenager also asked me to record different cats’ reactions to the snow.

Misty: Misty fights the snow and Misty goes for a walk in the snow

Opie: Opie says no to snow

Vale: Vale explores snow (to apply to adopt Vale— visit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Vale’s adoption page)

Fog: Fog in snow

Venom et al: Swarming the snow

In other fun news, the Roman Pride explored the snow from the safe confines of their room: Fosters try snow

And if you’re curious how the Romans are progressing— Romans in the morning

Hopefully these cute tuxedoes will be ready to adopt soon.

And Loki of the Norse Pride acts like a little puppy: Loki plays with the cockatoo (to apply to adopt Loki… Loki’s adoption page