Swedish finally found my food

I got a call from the hospital yesterday evening saying they finally found my food, and do I want these bowls or what. They didn’t say where they called FROM specifically so I just called the switchboard. I guess I wouldn’t want to identify myself if I worked for them either.

I got bounced to security after getting looped back to the switchboard four times because there was a “code grey.” I had to look this up: Combative Person. I’m guessing it was a patient, and I feel you, girl.

Security did not know where my bowls are. “Did you try registration? Try registration.” Click. Ok.

I was just thinking about The Olde Thymes when you would have to call a large institution using a list of numbers in a book, which you would keep open in front of you, because you knew your first few tries would be unsuccessful. Sometimes a nice person would give you a secret number that was not in the book. Now people just ring off because you can just incorrectly guess the next number yourself using the internet.

I tried registration. “Not here…what room were you in?”

“I have no idea, but it was the 11th floor.”

“Ok, I’ll transfer you.”

Well, there they were, sitting in a sink I guess. It was nice of them not to find my soup and then to pour it out.

“It did not look so fresh,” the lady said. I imagine not. So now I come get my bowls or they will get rid of them, like tomorrow.

My sister has gone back to work and I’m rolling solo today. Yesterday we went to see the cherry blossoms at UW, which I haven’t done in eons because I’ve been so wrapped up in working my way through my apprenticeship. She said she gets really rocked a few days after the drive ends and she was really feeling it. We’ve been hanging out watching movies and eating our weight in mochi and muscats, but I just wanted to lay in bed after walking around campus and so did she. So I sent her home at noon.

PEAK BLOSSOM. Citizens are advised to freak the fuck out.

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I wanted to do a cute picture of the dogs among the trees but I couldn’t summon the energy to bend down, since they are short and the trees are tall. You’ll have to believe me that they were there. We met a couple of cute two-year-olds and one could say “Cavalier” as clear as day because she has one in her life named Simon. It was pretty impressive. Lots of people were pointing at the dogs and talking to us, as people in public do.

“I don’t think I could have a dog!” my sister said. “Too much attention!”

“You get used to it,” I said. “It’s mostly when they’re puppies.”

I worry about my sister, sometimes, because she reminds me of myself ten years ago. When she’s on, she’s social, and when she’s not working, she’s not interested. I thought it was a family trait because I got increasingly unsocial to the point of somewhat phobic as time went on. My grandmother was isolated because of her health and attitude about the world, and had no friends for years at a time. My mother seemed to be an extrovert, liked people and was attracted to them, but had some truly antisocial behaviors. She had severe misophonia, which would trigger behavior like mocking people in public, which was excruciating. Especially if you were trapped in a restaurant booth with her and the people she was mocking were across the way. And there were no other diners!

I’ve got a long way to go in general, both mentally and physically. I know I’m severely kneecapped in some areas of my life, and doing ok in others. I know I’ve said this so many times, but the thing that has helped about a billion percent is nutrition. All those little tics, the impatience, the anxiety, are almost down to nothing. Insomnia is over unless I truly do something stupid like take a massive nap or drink too much wine for restful sleep. I’m more mentally resilient–less of a hair-trigger temper (which usually didn’t come out, so the rage was just inside me bouncing around), less likely to take offense at anything anyone says offhandedly or not. I can tell myself that people mean well, and if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t realize that muting all the little microaggressions that were mostly self-inflicted would positively impact my relationships.

I know when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail, but I wish I could time travel and find my grandparents in the 40s and say, “Hey, you know this better living through science shit? It’s not for us. Have some veggies and a multivitamin.” Ha ha, if only.

Today I hung my mason bee house on the back porch, facing the morning sun. It is very small and light. It felt great to swing a hammer! Sometimes I have a little disconnect between my actual skills now and what I can do at home. I looked at the nail and the porch post, and said, “Ok, self, don’t fuck this up.” I used to hammer nails in crookedly in all damn time.

I used to hit my thumb: OW OW OW fifteen minute break followed by a snack and a nap! Now I still hit myself, and give myself blood blisters, but I just tell myself it doesn’t bother me and I move on, because I realized it doesn’t actually hurt that bad if you think about pain in a certain way, as just a sensation or feedback from your body. If the feeling doesn’t come back in fifteen minutes or I feel blood pooling I will take my glove off and look. It turns out I was born to be an oaf, but you knew that already, didn’t you?

I took the cocoons out of my fridge where they’ve been residing for the past few weeks.

Bee cocoons come in a little box and look kind of like bees that have been wrapped up by a spider. You put them on top of the inside of the bee house in their box.

The kit also came with clay that you turn into mud and leave nearby so they can seal their tubes after laying eggs. I’m leaving it out now in case some native bees show up and want to get in on this hotel action. Now I just have to wait 2-4 weeks for the cocoons to open. THAT’S FOREVER.

I’ll post more pictures when they’re flying and when they make more cocoons midsummer. I read that ten mason bees can pollinate one fruit tree, and they like hazelnuts, which we have three of. Yeah!

A little health update: everything is feeling better daily. I’m six days out and sleeping on both of my sides. A weird thing is waking up with Death Flavor in my mouth, which I’m told is anesthesia working its way out, still. How about it works its way out of my elbows or something instead of my mouth? It is also making me want to eat what I want to eat, and not reasonable homecooked meals. So there’s a lot of juice and cheese happening, because nothing else tastes good.

Peeing is a magical experience now. I go, and then I have the sensation of not having to go anymore. I had the feeling of constantly low-grade (or high-grade) having to go for years. What is kind of odd now is how my bladder feels. I was at the blossoms yesterday and just sort of felt vaguely uncomfortable and off, and then I was like…you know what…I better see if I have to pee. I did. What? I don’t know either.

I took a shower yesterday and had another new feeling: a normal vulva instead of one with a uterus that was trying to later days out of it. Have you had a baby come out of your business? Do you remember that feeling of pressure? Every time I stood up I was basically crowning, ahaHAHAHAHAHA *uncontrollable sobbing*. There is so much less pressure on my pelvic floor I just feel light now. Next time someone takes me out, I’m going to get thank you cards and write my surgeons. I knew this would be life-changing, but I didn’t know it would be like, 96 pt font flashing LIFE-CHANGING.

I’m a little achy around where my uterus was (kind of like negative space menstrual cramps) and definitely super tired. Also sad that my medical glue is coming off my incisions already because it’s kind of this gross blue which is neat because I’m glued together! and I figure it’s good to have them covered. I had a dream that tea was coming out of my incision holes like I was a cartoon. My brain also keeps reminding me, “There’s nothing but a vagina now, ISN’T THAT A KICK IN THE HEAD?” Go be amazed somewhere else, brain.

How to be an Asshole during your hysterectomy

On Wednesday morning I got up, double checked my hospital packing list and bags, and hung out with the kid for a while before she went to school. I had a cup of tea and tried to distract myself with reading. I think Horace picked up on my nerves and really didn’t like the looks of the suitcase since I had just gone to SF a couple of weeks ago.

I gave myself a pep talk. I was all set set! Everyone was on board with my health issues! This was going to be great. Okay, so I knew it wasn’t going to be great, but I felt ready and I thought they were ready for me.

I didn’t take any speed because I’d been on a liquid diet for two days at that point and it seemed unnecessarily harsh. I took my normal morning antihistamines and one kind of mast cell stabilizer (quercetin). I taxied to the hospital, checked in, and immediately got hit by the wave of hospital and people smells and got sleepy. I shut down and fell asleep the first time while I was waiting for them to call me for preop–just like the old pre-speed days!

I pulled one of my gowns out of my bag that I knew I wouldn’t react to/get hives from and that was immediately a fight–they wanted me to wear something that was some kind of paper. I brought stew I’d made the night before asked them to please get my food into the fridge. I know that time=rising histamine levels for warming food.

It made me feel better to cook a huge stew the night before, even though I couldn’t eat it. I was doing something normal that I was ok at. It had chicken, onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, potatoes, and chickpeas. I kitchen-sinked it because I was hoping there would be some when I got home, too. The nurse looked confused as I handed the bowls of stew to her. She said they would put it somewhere “if they could” and write down where it was.

I told both of the nurses that my surgeons had approved me to wear my own gowns. There was a lot of conferring at the nurses station that I couldn’t hear all of. I had a wild thought and made a pact with myself that if they were just assholes about everything I could bail on surgery all together. It was ok to change my mind on something this major even at the last minute. Finally, my gowns were allowed, but my sheets were not.

I wasn’t upset, really. I walk into a big institution like this and expect to have to try tell people what my deal is repeatedly and accept things quickly that won’t budge.

I got asked the same questions over and over as they do for everyone, I’m sure. The admissions nurse wanted to know what happens when I’m exposed to triggers. I told her the anaphylaxis symptoms I get as well as passing out. “That’s not anaphylaxis,” she said.

“Well, ok, that’s a thing that happens a lot, though, if I don’t take Adderall.”

We had spent about an hour talking about corn at that point. IV bags appeared and I asked her to make sure the bags were saline only and the line flush didn’t have dextrose in them and she said, “Oh are you allergic to that, too? What does that do to you?”

My eyes started dumping like I was crying, which is another thing that often happens, sometimes even if I smell popcorn. It has nothing to do with what mood I’m in. The admit nurse tried to be reassuring, “Oh this is a lot, isn’t it?” I tried to tell her it was just another side effect. My throat was getting phlegmy and my voice was getting hoarse. My head floated and it was hard to think of words.

I had a chat with the surgeons. My gyno surgeon asked if they could do anything for me now. They were trying to start an IV line on me and that nurse was completely failing, which is weird because usually my veins are really easy to find. I asked if maybe they could start the IV Benadryl now? She said they could and said the anesthesiologist was going to stop by in a few minutes.

“Is it a dude? They are always dudes.” I don’t know what made me say this. Filter drop.

“Actually, you’ll have a woman today, she’s great. There’s a lot of women here.”

“I know, that’s why I’m here!” I said. She and my urology surgeon laughed.

The anesthesiologist popped up, took over, and got my IV in so fast I barely noticed. She started the Benadryl right after that. It kicked in extremely quickly and I went from feeling congested, scratchy, crappy, weepy eyes to clearing up in a matter of minutes. Much better. I felt like I could think again, but I also felt kind of drunk.

I handed her my hand-written list of what I take every day (long, crazy-looking). She scanned over it. “Oh good. I saw your chart and was surprised you weren’t taking quercetin. Here it is.”

“Every time I say that to a nurse it gets entered as turmeric,” I said.

I’m taking three things right now that are supposed to have mast cell stabilizing effects: quercetin, luteolin, and moringa. I’ve noticed that since starting moringa I’m getting fewer hives on certain places in my body. I don’t get them on my stomach anymore but I still get them behind my ears and on my face. It seems like flavonoids inhibit mast cells really well.

Like my surgeons, she had read a ton about mast cell so it was nice to talk with her. She had figured out which painkillers and antibiotics did not have dextrose in them. I knew I would degranulate when they made incisions and whatnot, much like with my vein procedure the week before. After we were done she gave me the big shot and I was relieved–all that waiting and then I could go to sleep.

I remember being wheeled into the OR. There was some big fucking thingamaworks at the end of the room that my feet pointed at that made me think of Robocop.

“Is that the vagina robot?” I said.

“Yes,” a nurse said. Good night.


I had a little worry that nagged at me all week, because I remember the first time waking up after childbirth when the endorphins were all gone. My vulva felt like roadkill and I was pretty sure my bones were scraping together. I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I was ready for that feeling again.

IV attempt #2: Unsuccessful!

I didn’t have it though–I woke up three hours later confused, shaking violently, weeping. I sort of remember the recovery room but I was so in my body I don’t remember what anyone said to me. I think they did give me more IV pain meds. A nurse tried to hand me some extra-strength Tylenol and water and I said, “I can’t take these, I have a corn allergy.” My voice sounded like it was coming from far away.

I did not feel like I’d been hit by a truck. Surgery is funny in that you just lie there, whereas childbirth was a whole marathon that I was not ready for the first time since I was so out-of-shape.

They assigned me a room on the fly. I figured out really quickly that it wasn’t private, which I’d asked for and the pre-op nurse on the phone a few days before said would be no problem. “I don’t know why they’re still telling patients that, we remodeled two years ago,” a nurse said. “We only have like, two private rooms for people who actually need them.”

A couple of nurses who came in and out said, “Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t get your PRIVATE ROOM.” The way they said it sounded like it meant, not, “private room” but “YOU’RE THE REASON I HATE MY JOB.” Yikes. I had immediately made myself the most unpopular person on the floor, so it was a pretty typical experience compared to everywhere else I go. I had better get out of here, I thought.

I’d had a similar experience at Group Health with Strudel. I came in after laboring for 47 hours or whatever and no baby. I remember one of the nurses got way in my face, which is probably a good idea since your awareness “bubble” gets really small and people do need to get in close. She said: “I’M SORRY YOU CAN’T HAVE THE HOMEBIRTH YOU PLANNED.” I get the feeling through training and practice they have a script they follow but after saying it hundreds (millions?) of times it can sound kind of rote and hostile. I was thinking to myself, “I don’t care, I just want this baby out.” Home would have been easiest, but if the kid won’t come out, call a fucking plumber.

IV attempt #3: Success!

They hung up my signs that said “keep door closed” etc. but people were coming in and out of the room so much they were being ignored. They were still trying to push Tylenol on me, which was easy to refuse, of course, but it made me wish I had a sign on my forehead (besides the one that obviously said “crazy diva”). I asked someone where my food was and they said they didn’t know. I had brought some shelf-stable snacks with me and inhaled them. I knew as soon as my Benadryl wore off I would be sick again and would wake up at 2 a.m. all scratchy and swollen with my heart racing.

There was a lady in the bed next to me who was in so much pain post-op she was just laying there moaning, poor thing. She said, “I’m not contagious,” which was kind of a three-word essay on how women are socialized to be accommodating at all times. “It’s ok, it’s not you, sorry,” I said. “I have a cellular disorder.” As if that explained anything.

I got super cranky and started unleashing the f-bombs as I normally do, not AT anyone, but just as my usual cavalcade of ignorant and vulgar adjectives. “I need to get out of this fucking place.” They said they would try to reach one of my surgeons to get permission for me to be discharged. I felt bad because it was the dinner hour but I knew my clock was ticking and my pain meds AND antihistamines were going to wear off. I had to use the push they were going to give me to get out of there.

The conditions came back–I had to wear/take my catheter home, and I had to prove that I could walk. “Ok!” I said. I had been assigned some other flavor of patient relations nurse because I’m sure my overworked floor nurse immediately threw her hands up like “this bitch.”

Special Nurse got me up and running with the IV pole/cool catheter combo and threw a robe on me as I ambled out of the room. I walked down the hall and watched the floor and walls spin up at me.

“How’re you doing, dear?”

“GREAT! I feel fine really.”


“It’s at a one. Or a zero. Let’s say ‘zero.”

“Do you want to go further?” she asked.

“Oh, no, I’m good. I can turn around any time.” We had made it about halfway down the first hallway, or maybe an eighth of the way around the whole loop. I was amazed to see how not-far I’d come. It was like when you’re super, super baked and three minutes feels like three hours. I saw nurses and whatnot at their stations looking at me. I hoped it was “normal” looking. I hoped I was normal-looking.

I began the laborious process of dressing myself and getting out of my gown.

“Can I have some privacy while I get dressed?” I asked the nurse, pointing to the curtain on the other side. The moaning lady’s husband was over there and I was sure if I started to change he would suddenly pop his head around, because life always has to be as awkward as possible. She kicked him out!

“Thanks, sorry, I really just wanted my curtain closed, sorry,” I said as everyone left. Then it was just me and moaning lady on the other side. I struggled to get my gown untied and to get a shirt on.

“Sorry you had to put up with my shit,” moaning lady said. I loved her for swearing. I assumed I was offending her and her lovely adult children the whole time.

“Oh no no no no, sorry you had to put up with MY shit. I’ll be out of here soon. I really hope you feel much better tomorrow.”

“Me too,” she said.

Regular Nurse taped my catheter tube to my leg really tightly and helped me get my pants on. They brought a wheelchair and I told them I couldn’t leave until I had my stuff. I knew they would miss a bag if I let them out of my sight. They brought a utility cart for my bags. I still didn’t know where my food was and I didn’t mention it.

“Sorry I’m being a dick,” I said. I thought I was? But I was so doped up and am reflexively British/overapologetic so I couldn’t read the room.

“Did you walk?” Regular Nurse asked.

“Oh yes.”

“The WHOLE loop?”

“Oh yes, absolutely, it was great,” I oversold. “Thanks for everything!”

Then I was wheeled downstairs.

“Is your ride here?” the aide asked me.

“Yes…no…she will be soon.”

They conferred among themselves over my head about how they couldn’t wait here with me.

“I can just sit in a chair,” I said, pointing to the lobby. I wanted to be quit of them as much as they wanted to be through with me I guess.

“Can you leave the cart?” I asked.

“No.” They dropped my stuff next to me. “What is she going to do?” one asked the other.

“Ok I guess that’s my problem,” I said, but their backs were already to me.

“We wish you well in your recovery,” the chair pusher called over her shoulder, sounding like she was talking in her sleep.

Upstairs, right before I left, I noticed it was 7 o’clock, which I knew was important because my sister’s gig was ending then and she said she could pick me up. I had no idea where she was in the city or how long it would take her to get there. I just knew she would come. I texted her with my update. As it turned out, she was two blocks away! Whew.

Here is a text message from a desperate woman.

Then while I waited it was just me, sans the dinner and breakfast I arrived with, and my sidekick, a catheter.

Going home was the right decision. I was able to relax into my own bed without all the monitoring and beeping and fucking allergy-type triggers around. I slept intermittently and woke up at 1:30 and took some more safe Tylenol.

The last few days have been really good. I’ve felt and looked at my five small incisions. One surprise is that they are uneven on my torso; I thought they’d be arranged symmetrically, kind of like pips on a die. I have no idea why I assumed that. Two days after the hysto I went for my leg vein follow up, to make sure they’d killed the varicose vein good and dead and that everything looked all right. The nurse said, “Wow, look at your bruise! I’ve never seen so little bruising! This all looks great.”

I told my sister about this and she said, “Boom! Vitamins!”

Now I think I’m having kind of the dream hysto recovery. I don’t have pain unless I jab myself. I’m not bending over, lifting shit, stretching up high, cleaning, cooking. I’m doing a lot of resting, but I’m doing walking, too. I have had a couple of naps, but mostly because I had trouble sleeping the first night. I’m not even taking Tylenol continuously anymore. My sister just finished her fund drive at work so she’s vegetating with me and we’re watching Drunk History and Hitchhiker’s. She’s been fixing meals. We did a short walk with the dogs today also.

I was still a little on the fence my first day after, wondering if things were about to get much worse, and I hadn’t taken my catheter out yet, so that still hurt. A lovely twitter friend, @kang72, sent me this awesome article. Perfect timing.

The anesthesiologist explained that during surgery and recovery I would be given strong painkillers, but once I got home the pain would not require narcotics. To paraphrase him, he said: “Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest. And please be careful with ibuprofen. It’s not good for your kidneys. Only take it if you must. Your body will heal itself with rest.”

With my surgeon’s nurse’s over-the-phone instructions, I snipped the catheter line that would deflate the balloon and let it come out. Removal wasn’t too bad. Pulling the gauze packing out of my vagina was no picnic and resulted in some fresh blood that’s slowing down now. However–a miracle has occurred. I no longer feel the constant heaviness of my shit trying to fall out. I don’t have the feeling of having to pee constantly. It’s wonderful.

I’m resting! And I stand by my conviction that hospitals are for fleeing from.

You just popped in the Kanye West get right for summer workout tape

A. Nobody Wants a Little Tight Ass

WARNING: There’s going to be pictures of my sad leg down this post. Trigger warning for white, Northern hemisphere, middle-aged lady leg, and to a lesser degree surgical incisions and bruising.

I just had minor varicose vein surgery in my left leg on Thursday. It’s kind of unfortunate timing, because I’m set to have my uterus out on Pi Day (March 14th). My veins started blowing out in my legs a couple of years before I got really sick, which doesn’t surprise me. Everything got pretty flimsy and inflamed and messed up then, and I felt like I wanted to put out all the fires but more kept popping up.

There is a PROCESS you go through to get a vein stripped. When I walked in to the clinic a few months ago, both of my legs hurt at the end of the day and sometimes all day, but I can’t see through my skin (YET!) so I didn’t know exactly what was happening. It turns out my right leg has a baby varicose vein going on but the left leg had a whole turnpike situation. Also it was leaking blood into my leg continuously (as they are wont to do) and so it hurt a lot and always looked like some gorilla had squeezed my calves for a minute or ten.

So, as we all know, the insurance companies do not want to pay for an actual existing condition that won’t get better. They want to say, “Here, bite this stick for three months, and in time you will be adjusted to biting the stick and you will love the stick so much you’ll forget you wanted us to pay for something in the system you pay for access to.”

The num-num stick was: support hose. I was supposed to undergo a trial of wearing them and hopefully at the end of three months I would forget all about my pain. That did not happen. In fact, most days the support hose on my left side felt worse, and I still had a lot of deep throbbing pain at the end of the day, even if I hadn’t worked a whole day. So when the nurse called me and asked if I was still having pain and did I want to proceed with the left leg I said YES.

To be fair, my right leg is improved. It doesn’t have pain at the end of the day. The bruising has greatly reduced. I will keep wearing a compression sleeve on that side.

Of course the only day my leg surgeon was available this month was six days before the hysterectomy. I thought about it for a bit because on one hand, I knew it would be hard to have two procedures done in one month, but on the other, I can only take so much time off work and they both involve some resting, so I might as well go for it.

Stripping is what it sounds like. They yank the vein out. For whatever reason they didn’t send me prescriptions for Xanax, an antibiotic, and numbing cream beforehand like they were supposed to, but I never let that hold me back from having a good time. The doctor had me check the ingredients in Versed and then dosed me up with a little of that. It was nice because I was nervous when I came in, and then in about five minutes I didn’t care about the tugging sensations and snapping noises I heard below my knee.

My heart rate went up really high for a few minutes (histamine dump?). I felt myself getting sleepy in the chair as they were working on me. My Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses were kicking in. I had to walk for 20 minutes post-procedure and then I was yawning and barely awake all the way home. I came home and shut the fuck down. My body went NOPE and I went to that really swift mast cell narcolepsy place where I’m asleep in 30 seconds. Minor trauma buys me a 20 minute trip to BuhByeport, but this had me out for an hour and a half. I did not get corned! No hives! Good job leg clinic! It was just regular old trauma that caused me to degranulate and knock out, ha ha.

Hole up and camp? Y

I have eight small incisions in my leg now. I had to wear bandages and thigh-high compression hose for 24 hours, and then I was allowed to take a shower last night. My nurse told me watery blood coming through the bandages was okay, because that was leakage from the saline solution they pump around the vein, but bright, original recipe blood was not. I did have some real deal breakthrough bleeding on one incision that came all the way through the gauze wrap, but it looked like it stopped pretty early. I’m guessing it happened the first afternoon/night when animals were jumping on me before I could stop them.

I’m already making it around okay, but I don’t want to overdo it. Just sitting here, or walking around the house, I’m not in any pain currently. I took the dogs for a short walk yesterday with my sister and it was fine. The nurse told me to “stay on top of pain” by taking pain killers 3x a day, because supposedly the pain peaks today or tomorrow. I am able to take Goody’s powders since they don’t seem to contain corn. Tonight is Strudel’s birthday dinner and I probably won’t be making sushi this year, but I’ll help with the menu.

This morning as I was waddling around like Danny Devito’s Penguin, I kept wondering why my left leg was messed up but not my right. What happened in there? Was it congenital? Did I stand and walk unevenly? Probably. It doesn’t matter. I go back in a week for a check in, then 60 days, then on 90 days they do laser cleanup with any bruising that’s still visible. So not only should I have way less pain, but it will also look like the gorilla stopped squeezing me.

After I took off the compression stocking and Coban. Ruh roh, blood.

Top of leg (duh)

Black line is a sharpie road map for the surgeon.

Don’t fight over me, boys and girls, there’s plenty to go around.

B. Give head, stop breathe, get up, check your weave

Surgery #2 rundown: it’s on like Donkey Kong. The plan is sutures, sutures, sutures instead of mesh, which is forever. They are dissolvable and probably made of corn, but it’s unavoidable I guess. So it could be a rocky 3-6 months. Or not. I have no idea! Basically my vagina and bladder are getting Croydon facelifts. They will make about five incisions and fish all the uterine and fallopian tube chunks out through those like a claw machine and the Operation game had a GD baby. My ovaries are staying put.

An amazing thing happened. They are going ahead with the mast cell surgical protocol, which involves Benadryl and Prednisone in the IV. I think we’ve found IV antibiotics without dextrose as well. They want to keep me overnight to observe my reactions to things. I’m bringing my own sheets, gowns, and food. I’m also bringing signs to remind people not to put dextrose in my IV. This is largely thanks to work Corn Allergy Girl has done.

I had my last pre-op call with a nurse and I asked her if I could have a private room to avoid other people’s fragrances, food, and whatnot. She said she would put a request in, but that most of the rooms were private. This of course triggered a nightmare that night where I was in a giant ward with 12 people, including a naked guy who was beating off in his bed when I came to. His dick was nightmarishly large, like an eggplant. WHAT. I tried to get back to sleep, but I realized my bed was covered in glittery powder that looked and smelled like LUSH bath bomb dust. The nurse was mean. Horace was there, but he was trying to stamp on my incisions. HELLO ANXIETY. I SEE YOU.

C. Cover your mouth up like you got SARS

Last weekend I went to California. I had a talk with myself and made a mini-bucket list before surgery. What do Asshole want to do?

1. Rice for dinner three nights in a row
2. Visit Shannon and see Jen if she’s not busy. I also saw Michael and we went to the Columbarium (as you do) and the Legion of Honor.

Tiny Bucket List Achieved!

Shan’s husband was giving Jen a ride home after dinner and I was riding along. She asked me why I showed up just then since I hadn’t visited anyone in, like, four years, and it’s hard (but not impossible) for me to stay with people.

“Uhh…you know, in case I die or something in surgery. It’s unlikely! But I wanted to see Shan.”

“So this is your End of the World Tour?”


“Oh that’s so nice. I want to be someone’s End of the World Tour.”

“Well, you were on my list too,” I said.

California is my place I’m always happy even if I’m a wreck. Which I wasn’t. The plane and airport gave me hives coming and going, but I had a great time at her house.

So if you see me tweeting/gramming on or after March 15th you’ll know I made it. I will also try to blog again soon as I am recovering. I have to recover, because Krumpy and I are planning to do a podcast together (first record tomorrow I hope!) and I HAVE to see that through.

Being 40 is going pretty well so far and I am doing a lot of maintenance and rehab on my broken parts that diet and prayers to Our Dark Lord cannot fix. Dig it: 1. ancient filling replaced with tooth crown finally ; 2. uterus OUT; 3. Painful legs OUT; 4. I’ve been getting my painful face flushy veins zapped, which I don’t think I mentioned, so my face doesn’t hurt 5x a day; 5. therapy ongoing and necessary; 6. Flying to Corvallis to see mast cell specialist later this month.

I’m not going down without a fight.

When I Am Old I Shall Wear Safety Orange; OR Cancel Christmas

A. Deconstruction

I’ve got the day off today, involuntarily. It’s slow at the shop still. I got very few hours this fall, and then I realized I was about to lose my health insurance in January regardless of how much I worked in December, so I decided to take the week of Xmas off. My vacation started on the 21st since the shop was closed that Thursday and Friday anyway.

This was the longest vacation I’ve had since I was indentured. Just an observation, not a complaint: my butt literally hurt from sitting on it (I am a pretty terrible sitter now). I have enough hours banked that I still got my regular, scheduled apprentice raise on the first, which is pretty awesome. It’s taken three years and some change since I quit my full-time, salaried tech job, but I am up to that 2014 money again. And now I can party like it’s 2014? *

I could have done this faster if I’d taken the admission test for my trade immediately, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I’m glad I took some time to figure it out along with a couple of detours, many of them paying ones.

There’s been mad layoffs at the shop, which is what happens when work is slow. Some days we were running out of work and getting cut at 9:30 in the morning, driving home in normal rush hour. My boss gathered us in the breakroom yesterday and said there would be no more layoffs unless journeymen wanted them. She said we are the “A Team,” which is nice. This way you know there will be no more layoffs…unless there are. I worked last winter consistently, but I’m with a company that has less work right now. As an apprentice I am not allowed to quit a job but I’m sure we could get voluntarily laid off for lack of work too.

I am weirdly (and probably somehow wrong to be, do @ me) proud to be the lowest-level apprentice left there. Some of the higher-year apprentices who prefer field work opted to be sent out “on field assignment” so they can get more hours.

One of my drinking comrades, a drummer who reminds me of a long-lost Van Halen brother, said to me: “Attitude and attendance.” Notice he did not say “skill and ability.” I am very privileged to be able to stay in a situation right now where I am learning a shit-ton but not making normal paychecks, since they want to keep me and I have a two-paycheck household to lean on.

Some of the ladies I work with who have made a career out of the shop are pretty down on working in the field. Mostly they hate other trades, who are not nearly as nice and ungross as most sheet metal workers. I get it. I also kind of don’t care when I’m out there. It’s a coin toss for me. I’m much healthier in the field because the air quality is way better and my guns look sick because I’m not all histamine-puffy. I love building shit! Yeah! But in the shop I’m not tripping over 7,000 cords in poor/no lighting, freezing cold or boiling hot, and using portajohns that have been sawed in half and reassembled to get them up the lift. I have gotten to know people better because I’m not in Machismo Zone. In the field they warned me there can be high school drama in the shop, but guess what, there are human beings everywhere, and a crew of roughy toughy guys can be just as gossipy and backbiting as anyone.

B. Get up on his lap/ don’t let him touch you

I don’t know how to write this section so let’s have an interview and I’ll be glib until I can be real and then I’ll probably delete all of this.

Q: What is it like when your kid splits abruptly and then it’s the first Christmas without her?

A: Well Skip, it’s challenging. As you know, I’m very, very blessed to be surrounded by so many talented family. It’s been a real gift to me and my craft as a human being. There’s been a lot of personal growth this year. But hard times too. Overall I gave it 112% and at the end of the day sometimes that isn’t enough.

There is no way for me to say this without sounding like a complete asshole. Just get ready to slam the internet shut and throw it across the room. How was Xmas: it was a relief to not have her here. A real, profound relief. ~MY THERAPIST~ (who earns every cent listening to the ramblings of an insane person) is reminding me that a thing (some) teenagers do is push you away and reject you and go off and form their own identities and all that healthy stuff that can look like a slow-motion trainwreck at the time. Intellectually I understand that, but it’s still very hard.

Living with someone for the past couple of years who said “NO!” to almost any kind of family activity or just one-on-one time unless it involved buying her something was exhausting. Living with someone who thinks you’re a stupid hypocrite is exhausting. Being lied to often is exhausting. Taking care of someone whose rebellion is, in part, harming her own health, is exhausting and heartbreaking.

I am wracked with guilt over this relief, of course, because I’m not just the president of being Wracked with Guilt, I’m also a client. I did not text her on xmas because I remember when she’d get any kind of text from her dad like “Happy birthday” in the past couple of years her blood would boil and she wouldn’t reply. I felt bad about that, but I also feel like she needs some space right now.

Aside: I remember being in the car with my mother after she’d moved to back to Seattle with us and her saying, “Are you ever not feeling guilty about something? You’re like a closet Catholic!” (I think she was dating a recovering Catholic at the time.) In hindsight I don’t think she recognized what having a conscience looked like.

Anyway, I’m not trying to vilify Franny in any way now that she’s living with her dad. We weren’t any kind of victims, just a family with a teenager. She is being held hostage to her own need to grow up and figure out what the hell is going on. I tried my hardest and will try again in time. I’m not trying to flip the script and say good riddance. It’s just gotten easier around here and less serious. Strudel seems to be feeling better and her aunt and a family friend have commented that she seems to have more of a sense of ease. I didn’t realize how strained her relationship with her sister was as well, but Strudel opens up about it now.

We need to be careful with her now, too, I know. Now the laser beams are TARGET: STRUDEL, ONLY CHILD so I need to balance supporting her where it’s appropriate and letting her live her life and try things. Check back in three years when I’ve messed that up.

Positive: I have a lot more energy now. This sounds terrible. “My house is so clean now, and all I had to do was kill and eat my entire family!” But I do. My memory is better. Grief and worry gnawing at you can take its toll. I can both love and care with my whole self and still say, yes, and that shit is really hard sometimes.

The whole house is kind of in recovery now and we’re playing house shuffle. Strudel eagerly moved into Franny’s larger room, and I’m going to turn her old room into an office. We moved the bed into the basement finally and our old upstairs room will be a guest room. Right now it’s gutted and looks terrible because it contains nothing but our clothes and some odds and ends. This mess is waiting for the walk-in closet downstairs (getting bids this month). There is half of a bedframe in my kitchen right now. Oh god. I have this long term fantasy/goal that everything in my house will someday have a place and then I can just lay down and die.

So things are getting better. I’m going to stop picking at this Franny scab for now unless something really shifts. Now I’m at that point where each day moving forward isn’t acutely painful and full of regret. To quote Spike (yes I did), “It’s just living.” We’re doing ok.

C. Mantra: A Lack of Planning on Your Part Never Constitutes an Emergency on My Part

In related news, I had a funny little SeaFed hiccup that I’m probably going to get a call about today. Apparently he tried to schedule an appointment with our allergist and told them we have shared custody (no comment. Wait: “LOL.”). This threw the brakes on things when a person they’d never heard of before called to take a minor patient in and he was all “NEW DAD, WHO DIS?”

The allergist’s office sent me a letter saying that since they have discovered we have “shared custody” (“LOL”) both parents must be present at any subsequent appointments. It was crickets after this. No one called me and asked me to come with or for help. Sooo. *whistles*

This is pretty typical half-assed SeaFedry. I am not even trying to be mean. He’s just never been able to manage his time or have the executive functioning to navigate through systems like this. I predict: he did not get the letter, because he did not provide his address when he called; OR, he did not read the letter; OR, he read the letter and forgot about it, and so will show up at the appointment today and call me once he’s there and they turn him away; OR, they will ghost on the appointment.

This is making me think of when she was small and I took her to the dentist and sent him a copy of the bill and asked for half and he sent me a check for $14 (I think) because he “calculated” what the copay would have been if either of us had insurance at the time, which we didn’t. Insane.

D. Subject Change

So we had some fun times on vacation together. On NYE we went to the Ballard house where they’ve done everything Diagon Alley in their driveway. It was for Halloween, but they’ve kept it up through this month and are raising money for charity.

Strudel and I went to the mall and got some makeup at MAC, and I had her choose some clothes as pre-xmas fun. She’s just teetering on that age where I can’t reliably choose clothes for her anymore. This holiday was smaller than the usual ones because she’s not really into toys anymore, is not outgrowing things like mad, and because my work hours/paychecks have been so limited.

I took menu suggestions for xmas on the chalkboard and they basically looked like this: fried squid, pho, ham, satay, pickled Korean beef, sandwiches, spaghetti. What do you do with this? I split it up.

On xmas eve we had Asian food: satay, pickled beef, sesame chicken.

Pete went out and grilled satay in the snow and he and I were both impressed with him.

If the food photography on this blog ever improves, call the police because I’ve been killed. *blinks SOS slowly*

Then we did jolabokaflod, which was fun as fuck.

Strudel said, “I don’t have any money!” I asked if she’d be open to going to the library, and she was. She got me an Isabel Allende. I have never read her, because I am not super into sad, serious literature, this is a thing I know about myself. “I am expanding my horizons,” I said. By chapter two there had been meditations on loneliness, the displacement of being alone in a foreign land, dismay over the physical aging process, a cat drinking antifreeze and growing staggeringly, foamingly ill, and I knew someone was about to get hit by a car (book flap). I quietly put it down. Whoa.

Pete played it very safe and got me Salt. I am a sucker for food plus history obviously. I got him The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole age 13 and 3/4 which is one of my favorite books of all time and he read the first page, laughed really loudly and put it down (?). Pete got Strudel some really compelling YA vs A Short Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson (mine) so he won that round too. Next year I will pander!

On xmas we voted for a cheese day had Monte Cristos for breakfast and pizza for dinner. I got kind of poofy and a little joint pain but it was actually worth it. Gluten and corn never tempt me (recovery is too horrendo and unpredictable), but twice a year or so we have cheese.

Two days after xmas we saw the new Nutcracker. It is VERY interesting now with the new set pieces and costume designs. Usually I think ballet is a little boring unless some shit is coming out of Natalie Portman’s arm.

E. Meditations on Fruity Crap

A couple of summers ago, there was a stack of books on my buffet and a ZZ plant innocently thriving on the floor next to the buffet. Of course, along came a fat Mère the cat (motto: “I don’t understand physics!”) and knocked the books down, crushing the ZZ plant in the process. I let it limp along for a while and hoped it would recover. It pretty much stopped growing, like “WTF fuck you people. I was doing good work here.” I downsized the root ball into a smaller pot, hoping it would force growth, and saved the few remaining green leaves. I set it in my dark bathroom window, since it’s a low-light plant.

Finally, there was only one leaf. I kept watering it and then pulled it down on New Year’s day.

This is how we get emotionally attached to plucky plants. Thank you, plant. Happy new year to you!!

* 2014: Go out to dinner, get ill, blame self for eating too much. Go out in public, breathe air, get ill, call self “melodramatic and probably anti-social.” Have drinks, get ill…eh, you get the picture. |back|

Thank you

Hi, a quick post to say THANK YOU to everyone who has commented, emailed me, texted me, twitter messaged me or said anything irl about what I’m going through griefwise. Someone I met ten (?) years ago at BlogHer texted me yesterday, when I was in a velvet painting-filled bar in Tukwilla with sheet metal ruffians and I almost started crying at the table. I am really sorry that some of you have said that you understand because this has happened to you as well.

I think I’ve chosen a weird and somewhat stupid life for myself by writing online for 16 years. I don’t know why I’ve chosen to record my life in this way. I started it in late summer 2001 when I lost a close friend and was feeling lonely, depressed, nostalgic. Realizing that my life had a hollow core of loneliness, and then finding people online who I liked to read and who thought I was funny back was probably the first step towards me having anything resembling self-esteem and having fun writing. I don’t think I’d be the person I am now without this site.

Some of you probably know this story, but in the infancy of this website I tried to get involved with the early blog organizations and webrings (kids ask your parents), and was usually rejected because I was filed in so many directories as pornography. That made me mad, of course, and I rejected them right back. Then personal blogging became very popular and normal, and it didn’t really matter anymore that there was a swear word in my url. I don’t know why I didn’t sell out ten years ago and make this my vocation (again with the theme of blind stubbornness), but I think not doing that has saved my life and sanity. It’s wonderful that people read about my life, and I know some of you have for most of this blog’s life. I appreciate you.

I don’t think I will stop now. You’re stuck with watching your own boring Samuel Pepys grow old and die if you want it. Again, thanks.

I’m No Longer Watching Her

My sister was driving me to IKEA on a day that we both had off. Work’s been really slow and I often get cut just in time to get stuck in normal rush hour, before the northbound express lanes open. But not this day–it was a small field trip mostly to gawk at the store’s remodel and an excuse to hang out.

The freeway was lit with that strange Seattle late fall light that looks yellow and cuts through the clouds at an angle so you feel like someone’s holding a giant filtered spotlight on part of the city. There was a good blow on too so on stretches of the freeway the leaves were tumbling along with us at 60 mph before destroying themselves on retaining walls and under truck wheels.

Morgan looked beautiful in silhouette, in the sepia light. I could see the fine lines that are forming on her delicate skin that are making a record of her life. I imagined her drawing on a cigarette, as I had seen many times before. I imagined her eating. I imagined her crying. I imagined her mouth wrapped around a child’s pacifier as I had seen many times.

She turned her head toward me briefly and I saw the vertical scar on her upper lip perfectly illuminated for a second. I forget about it for months and years at a time until it pops out. I see it even less now that she quit smoking three years ago.

Morgan was small when it happened, just beginning to pull up. I remember her creeping around our living room one day and my mother hissing at me where I sat on our massive sectional, reading the TV Guide cover-to-cover as I did every week: “Watch her!” My mother was on the phone, wandering around the dining room and out of sight. I got sucked back in to reading about what Tony Danza was up to in his spare time.

I saw Morgan fall out of the corner of my eye, followed by the blunt smack of flesh meeting a hard surface and then a wail. My mother swore, put the phone down, and came back into the room. I rushed over to pull Morgan up and there was blood all over her mouth. She had cracked her face on the sharp wooden corner of our giant television. I wondered if she would go to the hospital like I did when the dart machine fell on me and split my head open.

By this time my mother was off the phone. “I TOLD YOU TO WATCH HER!” This was my fault. Every time I saw the bandage and then the angry red scar for the next few years, I felt a twinge of guilt. I should have been watching her.

In grad school Franny was small and I was burning the candle. Now was the time to make a big push, I reckoned. I was still so young so it was okay to work and take too many classes and spend time with Franny whenever I could. I had a night class and I would come home and work on papers or reading and then I had the day off home to continue the unending slog through books and papers. In the morning SeaFed was gone, pretending to drive his taxi but becoming increasingly disinterested in working again.

I remember always getting sleepy around ten o’clock, just in time for Sesame Street. I would twiddle the bunny ears on our 19″ teevee to make PBS as clear as possible. I poured a cup of Cheerios for Franny and would lie down on the couch, bending my knees and locking her in behind them. I would doze but would snap awake if she tried to move out of her little fort. If I was lucky I could steal a 15 minute nap in this way.

It always made me think of Morgan, too. She liked being trapped behind my legs like this. We would play “prisoner” over and over when I was 12. My legs would swing shut, locking her onto the couch and say, “You’re my prisoner!” She would scream “PRITNER!” and laugh. Or she would pretend she was driving a car and my legs were the door and then the dashboard.

The phone rang, snapping me out of my short nap. It was red and a cord attached it to the wall, and no one could get through if I had the dial up internet on. Franny was where I’d put her, in a trance, watching Elmo, methodically eating one Cheerio after another. It was my mother. I’m sure I sounded groggy when I answered.

“I’m just hanging out with the kid,” I said. She sounded a little odd, but I was disinterested in unpacking her mood. I don’t remember what she wanted.

Later my sister, who was 15 then, told me that my mother rang off and immediately said, “I think she was asleep!”

“And?” my sister said, or some variation on that. Due to a combination of Stockholm Syndrome and decent experiences, my sister trusted my parenting.

“She should be watching her!”

A few months later, my sister was spending most of her spare time at my house, even though we were in the middle of unending reno hell and there was only a couch for her to sleep on. SeaFed didn’t really notice or care; at times his obliviousness was advantageous. I think I needed my sister around as much as she needed me then.

She’s been a great source of support for me lately, which still surprises me. Now she’s watching over me. She reads between the lines on my texts: “Everything ok?”

No, not really. This is hard to say and I’ve been trying to say it for almost a month: Franny moved out before Thanksgiving and in with her dad.

I have to pull away from this sentence before my melt onto my dining room floor and ugly cry until I die of dehydration. So.

I’ve been experiencing waves of anger over the last few weeks that I think are kind of protecting me and keeping me functional so I’m not just a big wound constantly, and I can do things like go to work and buy groceries. The things that feel so stupid and pointless but are kind of reassuring because you know that life is going to go on.

I also don’t like this feeling, though. It’s like a death in that every meal you make that the missing person liked but is not eating with you, or every little change you make to your house, or every passing day is a brick in the path that takes you away from that person you miss, leaving them in the blurry past.

I am crying again, I need to pull away from this again, so I will be shitty and angry: SeaFed, who has relinquished himself to his father’s care, has been gifted some kind of large property on his island with multiple mother-in-law cottages. It sounds like their previous house was kind of melting due to age, neglect, and poor DIY repair work. His father used to attempt to set him up in business, either at an office or working for himself. Now I think he’s just resigned himself to being his carer. I think there will probably be a trust set up after his father dies.

It’s like the movie The Truman Show. I think everyone around him is invested in the appearance of SeaFed being a functional adult, and this is how it works for them. I was not ever good at participating in this charade, although I realize I could be a lady of leisure on an island in my own compound if I could have played along.

I had another realization recently that SeaFed is a high-functioning autistic. I think his mother was autistic, and it sounds like his grandfather was too. (Leslie you know it’s true and it’s too late now. Get you-know-who tested.)

I spoke with Franny about these thoughts a few months ago and she seemed somewhat reassured that there could be a reason that her father wasn’t very engaged with her life nor did he remember what her health conditions were, so couldn’t accommodate her. What I was saying made sense to her. At the same time, I feel like this possibility made her angry. I think it was hard for her to reframe the narrative of her situation with her father and see him as someone who had a reason for being limited beyond just thoughtlessness. I remember her being ten or so and saying out of the blue, “I think there’s something wrong with my dad.” She was right that he’s not typical.

In the first couple of years we were married, I remember SeaFed’s father expressed relief a couple of times that I’d come into his life and seemed to be steering the ship. They had reached their wit’s end with him as a teenager when he really dialed into his dual talents of wasting someone else’s hard-earned money and his penchant for petty criminality. Here was someone who could take them off his hands. Maybe he would get his act together now.

My increase in responsibility happened bit by bit. When I met SeaFed, I had no idea how to adult beyond knowing that I had to have a job and write a rent check every month. He would take me out places and not pay parking. I didn’t have a car and I came from a village where you could pretty much park on a cow or a corn or in the middle of the road if you felt like it, but I was fairly certain the signs reading “PAY HERE” hanging in the lots with numbered spots had an implied “This means you, buddy” ring to them.

“Don’t you need to pay to park?” I asked. What a rube I was then.

He would shrug. “Nah it’s fine.”

After we were married he got a collections notice for hundreds of dollars of unpaid parking tickets in Oregon from when he was 18, plus fees, plus bonus threats of credit ruination. He was spending a lot of time in Portland and parking willy-nilly as he did in Seattle.

“Why didn’t you pay these?” I asked.

Same shrug. “It’s a different state so I just thought I wouldn’t go back there so whatever.” He didn’t care, since he was all-cash druglord lifestyle at the time.

I think I married an idiot, I thought. I started paying the bills and doing the taxes. Later I thought I’d married a sociopath, due to his lack of interest in me and cavalier care of Franny. You know how that came out.

So Franny left in the middle of the night (11 is the middle of the night when you wake up before 4 a.m.). We had been fighting that night and the tension had been increasing between us for the past few months. Franny hits walls when she doesn’t want to do something. She may tell you she’ll do it, or that she’s doing it to get you off her back, but in the end, she does what she wants.

A friend used to watch her for me while I was at school. Franny was about to turn three. If Franny didn’t like something, she would stop short, not move, and stare you down impassively. My friend, who had extremely verbal children who could tell you off six ways from Sunday, and were no strangers to the well-timed tantrum, was amazed by this Ghandi act. They nicknamed her The Mountain.

I’d been getting Mountains of bullshit from Franny for the past year.

Are you going to start going to class again?
-Yes of course

Are you going to take the SAT this time?
-I would have but the bus had an accident

How about this time?
-Well this time the bus didn’t come

What about that make up work that you need to do before June?
-I’ll do it

You didn’t do your make up work. How are you going to graduate?
-I can make it up my senior year

What’s your senior project going to be?

Are you going to apply for the library again like you said you would?

Finally, near the end, some honesty. She told me she didn’t want to take the SAT. She didn’t want to go to university, which her grandfather would pay for. She didn’t want to get a job. She wanted to attend community college and live at home. I remembered her father going to community college several times in fits and starts and always flunking out after the withdrawal period was over. I knew she would dwindle down to one class and just kind of turn into a directionless fungus on the wifi all day.

Oh no, I thought. You are becoming your father and it is like the cold knife of the past is going through me. Did I want to take the role of SeaFed’s father, his carer forever, regardless of wives, children, the appearance of productivity and normalcy? This was hard.

A reliable witness saw her smoking and told me. Now the knife was twisting. Her, with the breathing problems and doctor visits and asthma inhalers and lung pain. When this sort of thing happens, every cell in a parent’s body screams out: I TOLD YOU NOT TO MAKE THE SAME STUPID MISTAKES I DID! That was kind of the last straw.

“You cannot live with me if you’re going to do nothing,” I told her. “I can help you move in with your dad and you can do nothing at his house.” I may have said that louder and with more fuck-bombs than I’ve represented here. Then I went downstairs to my bathroom and cried on the bathmat for about three hours and went to bed. Then she packed a bag and left. I know I am a terrible person (see title).

She is living in one of the mother-in-laws in SeaFed’s Retirement Villa and Jazz Ranch.

(Pete said, “I want to do nothing and get a house!” Amen brother.)

I was getting text and email updates from SeaFed that were cheery in tone, like a Christmas newsletter from your neighbor that leaves a sour taste in your mouth because you know how many times the cops came out. SJ, everything is under control. It’s handled. I’ve got this parenting thing in the bag. Girl you crazy and now it’s SeaFed’s time to shine.

He was telling me how great everything was, and how he was in communication with Franny’s advisor and she only has a little bit of makeup work, and she’s feeling great and doesn’t even seem sick! She’s super on track to graduation! She’s making her own meals! This sounded familiar. “Of course we are in the honeymoon period,” he conceded.

SeaFed has this paradoxical tendency to try to scam people (passing off lemon cars, stealing from past employers, etc) while imputing the best motives in other people, like Franny who has turned up on his doorstep after not speaking to him for over a year and now is being the perfect angel baby. It’s probably good he claims to have quit doing crime, because I had never known a more credulous criminal.

I face-palmed after realizing that I’d chased her off to a situation where she had been rewarded with her own apartment, instead of living with a family who she’d be accountable to. On the other hand, me being straight with her about SeaFed has probably made her realize she cannot really rely on anything but her father’s access to money.

I finally replied to him and included her on the email as well, since she’s almost an adult and I wanted her to hear what I had to say. I told him I was in the same position a year ago. That she only had a little makeup work to do and she was reassuring me she would finish everything, but didn’t. Now she’s behind from junior year and her absences this year. I told him that she has up periods where she seems fine and then has a huge energy crash and misses school, and that she’s probably going to need to learn to balance her disabilities and self-care herself, since my advice and interventions didn’t seem to help.

I put her on blast and said that I had been contacting her about arranging to pick up her stuff and she was ignoring me, and that I was hoping she would get it out of here before xmas. SeaFed immediately made arrangements to pick up her boxes.

He said “thanks for the input” about the school and lying stuff and was probably too tired from patting himself on the back for his gold star parenting to say more. He asked me for her medical records (she needs to request them herself at her age anyway), and I told him this was the last time I was going to deal with him as her go-between, and that she knows how to get in touch with me if she needs anything, and muted the email.

She’s blocked me on Instagram and told Strudel we are Nazis and that we’re reading their texts (false, I’m just good at guessing the obvious). Also that she is never going to speak to me again.

Somewhere my terrible mother sat bolt upright in bed next to her 14th fiance and said, “AHA VENGEANCE IS MINE!”

In Other News

Let’s have something cheerier, like an update on my impending hysterectomy. I had to have something called a urodynamics test. This is to see what’s what with your bladder and how much urine you’re leaking if everything is normal (meaning uterus UP!), if any.

You come into a room with a fake toilet in it and you have to pee in the middle of a room into this fake toilet, which gives you a weird unhousebroken feeling.

Then they weigh that and see if there’s any pee left in your bladder via ultrasound. Then, Lidocane goes in your urethra, so you know something bad’s going to happen to that guy: camera catheter!

I saw the inside of my bladder.

“Oh god, gross,” I said. The nurse laughed.

“It’s not gross!” my doctor said. “It’s a great bladder. We’re going to turn to the left and see that hole?” Oh no ugh please stop “That’s where the pee comes in from your kidneys.” The hole opened and sphinctered itself shut again. “See, some pee just came in.”

Then we drove upwards (north??) and I saw the bulge of where my uterus was just chilling on my bladder, making a big-ass dent in it. It was like, enough already, lady. No wonder I never feel like I’m quite finished peeing.

Then I got a pessary jammed up to hold up my uterus to see how my bladder would function under normal conditions. This involved more catheters and a bunch of sensors. My bladder was filled slowly with mystery liquid that I forgot to ask about and was probably corny. I had to cough at points.

“Let me know when you first feel your bladder filling up. Ok, can you relax a little and not hold yourself up on the edge like that?”

“Sorry, I am trying not to run away,” I said. Her nurse thought I was hilarious at this point.

“Now I want you to tell me two more things: when you first feel like you have to go, and then, when you have to go SO BAD that if there were bears outside your tent you would still run out and pee.”


There was more coughing. “Are you leaking?” I wasn’t. Everything seems to behave when my bladder isn’t involved. She was trying to distract me by asking about Ehlers-Danlos in my family and who had a normal uterus and who had other problems.

“Um I think I’m at bears,” I interrupted.

“You’re at a gas station and it’s all dark and no one’s around! Do you get out of the car?”


WAS MY BLADDER GOING TO POP? I felt like she was Willy Wonka and we were on that hellboat. “There’s no earthly way of knowing/when I’m going to rupture one of your major organs…”

Finally she stopped, there was more coughing, and then she wanted me to pee to see how much would come out. I could not make myself pee into the catheter, so she took it out, and I went again, in the middle of a room as if that’s normal.

“Oh good, more volume than what I put it. It’s all working great.”

As I dressed I stared at this painting.

I went home and degranulated and felt very ill for the rest of the night. I’m guessing there was dextrose in the saline? I managed to look up the antibiotic she gave me and saw that it’s corny so I declined to take it.

She left the pessary in because it was a great relief to have my uterus in place for the first time in years, but it started dislodging at work the next day (of course). I was using a welding machine when I felt like I was going into labor. So much fucking pain. I pulled it out in the loo, wrapped it up, and threw it away since it obviously doesn’t fit right. It was a nice twelve-hour break.

Next I get to research which pain meds and antibiotics I can use if any. They won’t operate on me without preventive antibiotics, of course. Luckily I have Corn Allergy Girl’s great guides. They are willing to operate without installing meshes, which is good.

So I Can Look at You From Inside as Well

A short post to say I bought a lamp.

I knew it had my favorite thing: potential. I liked the way it crouched there like an awkward bug or a reject from the Deetz house. What it did not have was a good light bulb.

(In the background, Nightmere sleeps on the dogs’ wee kitchen bed with extreme prejudice. Lo she has staked her claim to her winter vent.)

To quote our president: SAD! I asked the nice man at my neighborhood junk shop if we could take it into the bathroom to see if it looked any better in the dark. Not really!

“This is not making full use of the jute,” he tsked. I like him–he reminds me of John Waters.

Previously, Pete had been looking for a rocking chair for years and found one last summer.

“There’s no room for it anywhere,” he said.

“CHUH!” I chuhed.

I told him that if he wanted it, I could rearrange the living room to make it fit. So I shuffled the living room around this summer and kicked out a sad Ikea table and some other clutter. (Winnowing down your collection of Ikea furniture: crossing the final Rubicon into stolid adulthood.) Recently I bought a permanent rug for the chair to perch on, instead of an old backless runner (also Ikea) I folded up a little.

I moved the AK-47 lamp over to the other side of the room, and took away another little vintage lamp that was in the living room since we moved in. It was a nice arrangement for summer–plenty of sun streaming in all day long. Now that it’s November, one Kalashnikov and another weird arty pendant thing in the other corner felt dim and gloomy.

I wondered how you change a bulb in a lamp like this. It has a long rod down the middle that can be pulled up or all the way out.

Then you go to the hardware store and buy one of those adapters that turns a lamp receptacle into a plug receptacle.

While you’re there, get a couple of strings of patio lights, and turn them into a crazy jumble using black duct tape and zip ties.

Jam the whole mess into the lamp and realize that you made the lights come out a wee bit too far, but it worked out.

Replace chair, and done.

Now Pete’s corner is a bit brighter.

Mistakes were made

I ran out of quercetin a few days ago. I thought my shipment was coming just a wee bit sooner than it was.

“Oh well,” I thought. “What’s a couple of days? This probably isn’t doing much anyhow.” So I missed my morning and lunchtime dose a few days ago.

My shit was ON FIRE. It felt like I had a sunburn. Even my eyes hurt and were irritated. Right before I ran out the door for my appointment, I saw the package on the porch. I gobbled a dose down and felt better. This is me three hours later.

My usual spider veins from years of painful flushing previously, but much paler. And feeling better.

Narcolepsian Candidate, Asshole Digest v. 1

A For Effort

Last month I was at school for my first welding week, which I was super jazzed about. I couldn’t wait to learn welding! I liked brazing last summer, so I thought I would like welding too. Oh man, I really did. We welded all morning. I was terrible, but I looked around and most of my classmates were too. My favorite person in class, who is my homework buddy, had perfect welds since he was an underwater welder for years.

At lunch I ate in my car like I usually do, to take a break from being indoors with fragrances and the smells in the lunchroom. I don’t eat heavy on school weeks, since I’m not burning as many calories. We reconvened in the classroom for some PowerPoints on welding and I started to feel really unnaturally sleepy. My ears were ringing and I felt drunk–anaphylaxis. I knew my brain was shutting down.

I wasn’t thinking clearly and couldn’t decide what to do. School is very strict about being there and participation, which I get. I thought if I could lay down for an hour and sleep I would be ok again, but I knew that wasn’t compatible with getting through the afternoon. I was kind of propping my head up with my elbow and my teacher was giving me shit about falling asleep (“SJ do you know you snore?”).

I decided to wake myself up a little (this never works) by going to the bathroom and splashing cold water on my face. I would only be gone for a minute–perfect. I staggered out of the classroom and to the loo. I looked shitfaced–red cheeks, red eyes, couldn’t focus my gaze. As I threw the paper towel away I decided to sit down on floor for just a second. The tiles looked so cool…

I woke up to my classmate and a third year asking me questions.

“The EMTs are on the way, SJ. What’s going on? What are your symptoms?” Get this–my classmate is a former nurse and was completely collected.

The EMTs came and asked me a ton of questions. They got some kind of heart monitor on me and saw that my blood pressure was skipping from the 80s to the 100s rapidly. They checked my oxygen levels and they were normal. I was relieved about this–I’ve always wondered if there’s a component of airway blockage happening that I don’t know about when I go to sleep. I was slurring a little as I was answering their questions.

So, long story long, school doesn’t want me welding anymore. And now my classmates know to check on me if I look too sleepy, because I’m probably mast cell drunk out of my mind. I can recover from almost anything if I can sleep for an hour in a safe space. There are masks that are kind of like SCUBA for welding that may help, but they start around $1500. It’s a big investment to make in something that might not work.

I talked to my homework buddy about this because he was worried about me. He said, “It’s too bad we started with stick welding, because that’s the dirtiest kind of welding and makes me sick too.” He has a special respirator that fits under his welding mask. My respirator does not.

For now I’m in welding limbo. I think I’m going to have to find a way to weld on my own so I can come back to school and prove I can do it safely if I want to do it there.

Relevant Experience

Not too long ago, I would scoff at the old tradies I worked with who would sleep through every movie. There was a lot of “Yeah, I saw the first fifteen minutes of that, it was pretty good.” Right now I’m doing the same. I have seen the opening shot of The Orville for the last three weeks in a row. We call it The Slipper Show because the spaceship is silly looking. I see the space slipper and it’s Queen of Hearts time for me on the rug. Good night.

I kind of have an excuse right now–I’ve been transferred to the shop. It’s basically like Eminem’s job in 8 Mile, except Seattle strip club lighting levels instead of Portland, and no wall jobs or brooding.

Time to make the fuckin doughnuts

It’s making me somewhat to seriously ill most days. I leave with a headache that lasts until I go to sleep. Some nights I crawl into bed before dinner, shaking and feverish from welding fumes, and then I get up and do it again. I blow black metal dust and smoke out of my nose all the way home. I know I’m not the only one who gets sick, but it’s not a good place for me. I cannot believe people make careers out of it in my trade.

It’s kind of good news/bad news that I hustle so hard in the field. It’s really slow right now, and my work style has kept me from being laid off (yay) but my reward now is being sick most days. I’ve been told I might go to week on/week off, which means I can collect unemployment when I’m not working. I’ve been noodling around with crochet again now that I have more time.

D for Effort

I went out twice in one week last week, holy shit! I finally saw Morrissey live, and it was everything I expected and more. He didn’t cancel, which I know he is notorious for because of his health and his whatnot. I got gassed out by the fog machine and felt pretty drunk by the time I got home.

A couple of days later I saw John Hodgeman on his book tour. I was excited that he was “in conversation” with John Roderick. The website said something about him doing readings and answering questions. I was dragged along to see him about nine years ago, and thought Hodgeman was pretty terrible live, and I was completely uninterested in his books because I’m not into fake humorous facts. His supporting players–incredible. Sean Nelson and John Roderick were rocking out on some hardcore early-80s Billy Joel, which set me off on a five-year Billy Joel jag.

I thought the Hodge would be better live after nine years, and I also am a fan of advice, so I like his podcast now a lot. I like that he’s written a midlife contemplative-y memoir, so I was into this. Well, he was jumping up and down and jamming his hand down the back pocket of his terrible pants like a ADHD kid giving a book report.

Roderick was gently trying to get him to sit down and put his mic on–it was kind of cringy. They did one song, and it was terrible, and Hodge was just not focused. I bought two books so I could get the silly badge they were giving away and in the end I didn’t want to wait in line to get it. I don’t have enough time to appreciate things as Kaufman-esque anymore. In summary: I’m glad there was no fog machine, and I probably should just find a way to see John Roderick live.

Somehow it Makes Sense to Juxtapose Autumnal Pictures of Things Being Ripped Out of the Ground with This News

THIS WAS THE SUMMER I took over the front bed. I promised Pete I would last winter. 2017, baby. It was going to be my year. We would make the front yard more attractive and lower maintenance in terms of weeds (read: wood chips and flowering shrubs ahoy). We’re trying to divide church and state a little more because I have a bad habit of seeing an open space and needing to fill it with flowers, and Pete says “HAY THAT WAS GOING TO BE PUMPKINS.”

YOU KNOW WHAT? FUCK YOUR PUMPKINS. COSMOS, BITCHES. Just kidding. I like pumpkins, I just don’t want to wait three years for them. Then he comes through and pulls or steps on a bunch of sunflower seedlings I’ve stealth planted by announcing loudly that I am planting sunflowers and marking the space.

So the front yard is supposed to be flower and fruit tree town. Typical me typical me I’m doing black/purple, white, and dark green–goth garden. I had to leave the original roses even though they are off-scheme because they’re nice and tolerate the front yard and neglect very well. I think other than the clematis, they may be all that’s left of the original front yard.

I solemnly swear I will leave the vegetable garden alone and stop sneaking in four o’clocks, which are fucking magical. I am killing part of the grass next to it to make a dedicated herb bed. In five years I hope there will be no grass left in the backyard or front! I am taking home sheet metal trash to create underground grass barriers.

These pictures are from about a month ago before the leaves started to turn, but when it was getting cool and rainy. Perfect transplanting weather.

Digging up blueberries and razzleberries

Part of making the front yard flowery involved transplanting the berry bushes, which were overcrowded and overwhelming the now-toddler persimmon tree we planted a while ago.

Long shot of how order segues inelegantly into chaos

Raspberry bare rooted

I decided to move the blueberries into some of the remaining open space in the back, for ease of picking. Plus this spot gets some really nice light from about ten to four.

The raspberries in the former chicken pen.

A thing I have not told you is that after ten-plus years of keeping chickens, I rehomed them all in the late spring. They went to a tinner friend who has a compound in the middle of nowhere (his shop has about the same square footage as my house). His wife was excited about gently used, free, grown chickens and just likes eggs and the hobby like I did. I felt very good about letting go of this extra demand on our time and energy, especially as we are making the yard nicer and want to use all the space without the rampaging claws and beaks.

Since this picture was taken, Pete has demo’d the coops as well.

A naked space ready for smaller shrubs and flowers, and a persimmon that can breathe now.

Also I transitioned my summer pots into fall pots. This year I decided to only buy things that I will transfer into the front yard, including the pansies, which last all summer and beyond, and appear on salads all summer. Some of the grasses will make a little skirt around the persimmon tree.

And here I come to the end without telling you my hard news. How do I say this? My uterus is falling out. It’s been on the drop for a while now, like since high school. Slow and low/this situation blows. It’s really uncomfortable now. I am in consults this month to get a hysterectomy. They are considering some kind of mesh to hold my urethra in place as well if needed, which I’m probably going to have to pass on, since historically I don’t seem to do well with plastic in my body. (See: IUD dramz and temporary crown. Also I used to stick pens in my mouth until about ten years ago, gross, I know, until I realized the plastic was making my tongue and mouth tingle. Eep.) My ovaries will be left in, which is good. I’m going to try to schedule surgery for around Xmas this year. I am scared that the surgery will make me massively degranulate, and sad that there are no pain meds I can take, much like with carpal tunnel surgery.

Early uterine prolapse can be one of the indicators for Ehlers-Danlos, which is interesting. I don’t have circus trick joints like other members of my family, but the baby box is falling out. Cool times. As a plumber I met recently said, after volunteering that she had a hysterectomy: “They took out the nursery, but left the playpen. Best decision I ever made! Ha!”

I got drunk the other night and bought this shirt. I am still figuring out my feelings. The end.

Ruminant butts/black and white butts

Yesterday Strudel and my sister and I all had the day off and we went to Northwest Trek, which was pretty awesome. It’s like a mini zoo/habitat that you can take a tram tour through. We saw mountain goats, elk, moose, bison, small cats, wolves, and otters munching on fish, beavers scratching themselves, and more.

I spy a lady moose butt

We saw the allergist and Strudel has just started Ketotifen, which I am SO EXCITED ABOUT. It’s pretty much the gold standard for mast cell stabilizers as well as being an H1 blocker, and works for a lot of people. Naturally it needs to be compounded…we can’t just go get it at a normal pharmacy and it has to be $200 a bottle. I am looking forward to the letter from my insurance companies telling me why they can’t pay for it. The allergist advised us to keep her on Zyrtec, Zantac, and quercetin as well.

Strudel’s knee is out again so we rented a wheelchair and rolled her around all day. It was still good to get out of the house. I thought back to when I was in tech and I would take their school holidays off and we would do something fun. It’s nice to do some of that again, even though I was given the day off due to slowdowns. Gotta make the best of it.

Crown Royale (wit cheese)

Hey look Dorothea Lange and Mary Ellen Mark had a baby and it started taking selfies. ACK!

BUT I AM SHOWING YOU MY NEW ROBOT TOOTH THOUGH. Uh, maybe skip this one if you don’t like the inside of people’s mouths. But this is me, post-dog walking and on a pretty nice day here. Also my showers are way too hot, always. I give myself the red face.

Anyway, my poor old six-year molar that had an ancient filling in it finally gave up the ghost and started cracking around the filling. My dentist has been nagging me about changing it out for a crown for years. I was in a contest with myself to see how long it could last for. Answer: thirty-three years.

That brave molar, when it was brand new and still with new-tooth smell and those little rubber nubbins still on the tires, was declared to be rotting away. This declaration was made by a dentist in the new neighborhood we moved to after I came to live with my mother again when I was six. I presume my mother found him by opening the Yellow Pages, closing her eyes, and plunking her finger down on the page somewhere.

My mother had very bad teeth. She blamed them on busy working parents and indifferent babysitters. Parts of her teeth also had been knocked out by some kind of brother/basketball incident and replaced with a bridge. I remember her teeth looking uneven, yellow, and speckled with silver in the back. There were also weird flossing doodads in her bathroom drawers. From a young age, I assumed I would also have parts of my teeth knocked in and that they would go all cattywampus like hers.

I have very good teeth, for the most part, and have very little trouble. This may be in part because my mother was gone a lot, and maybe not able to pass her bad teeth on to me. Also I was raised in that special time when adults chainsmoked around you until you could barely make out what was happening on Guiding Light, but GOD FORBID you were not given a perfectly sterilized bottle full of science milk instead of having to fight the dogs for a half-chewed floor turkey leg or whatever.

So we rolled up to this new dentist, who told my mother I had a tooth that needed a filling. Later, he told my mother she would need four root canals in one afternoon. I suspect he had a boat that needed marina payments. I remember him calling my mother in and talking to her about it. He asked me, “Why do you think you have a cavity?” “Too much dessert,” I shot back. This got a big laugh.

We returned a few days later and I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect from the Novocain, I just knew a needle was going into my mouth. That was the first and last time my mouth had been numbed up until a few days ago.

The dentist got everything ready on a silver tray. I remember he didn’t have any kind of assistant, or front desk person. These were the days when you would spit bloody gobs into a nearby sink. Every time I go to the dentist I still yearn for that sink–there is something so much better about spitting everything out that’s bothering you. I know the sucky straws are much more hygienic but I hate them.

He prepared the shot. I felt the prick on my gums and I was scared. My good, current dentist paused as he was numbing me up, letting the liquid seep in slowly. The terrible, ancient dentist said, “Hold this for me, will you, I have to get something.” I was made to hold the needle in my mouth perfectly still while he left the room for what seemed like ages. I heard my heart in my ears and saw my little hand holding the needle as it stuck out of my mouth. I heard the clock tick. He was gone for a long time. I was scared of being alone. I was scared he would come back.

I don’t remember being drilled out. I do remember pain later, when the numbness wore off. I’ve always had this silver patch in the back, like most people over a certain age.

And then the poor beleaguered tooth, carrying its wide load of oral asphalt, finally quit. I’ve been grinding my teeth in my sleep a lot lately, which is not helping. I’ve been waiting for it to crack open, or fall apart on me someplace inconvenient and with many unwilling witnesses. I’m relieved it was just some cracks, which gave me time to schedule the crown appointments and come back, as well as let the office bill it to my insurance.

A crown with a live root means that you chip out the old filling, and grind away part of the tooth. Then what you you have left is a little tooth doot that they can glue something (circus peanut, real peanut, tiny beret) onto shaped like your old tooth.

My sad short tooth, which I should not have a picture of. I’m getting there….

If you are like me and the inside of your head looks like Jayne Mansfield’s mansion, you get a gold tooth, which they have to send away for I guess, and you have to wait 2-3 weeks.

“We’ll put a temporary on,” they told me.

No problem! I thought. I can roll with this. A temporary tooth hat. I told the dental assistant the temp crown she was fitting me with was too high, and she told me if she shaved it down any more, it would probably break. I kind of shrugged and decided to get on with my day, because she didn’t seem to believe my bite was off. Oh well, I thought. I have to chew on the right side anyway.

What a fucking mistake that was! I had no idea.

Tooth hat #1. If you squint you can kind of see the little brown spot and that it’s kind of already shattering about a day in.

Pain was holding steady through the week, and then at the one week mark my tiny hat popped off as I was watching TV. I had already made an appointment to have it adjusted so I thought I could just cruise through overnight and get there. I ended up calling off work and sleeping most of the day. I had gotten a little cold right after the initial day of drilling, which is my body’s angry response to any trauma, like stress or sleep deficits. I was starting to get Messed Up.

I went back and had a second one put on. That dental assistant was competent and patient, and found the right fit.

By this point my face (especially my chin) was starting to break out, which never happens anymore, and I was developing ulcers in my mouth, including an inflamed salivary gland. It was getting a little weird.

Finally, yesterday, I had the crown glued on. I was straight up with my dentist about how my three weeks had been, and how much pain I was still in. He was straight up with me and told me he knew a guy who took six months before his dentin calmed down after his crown was placed, but the nerve didn’t die.

I had the wretched assistant #1 and I thought, shit, she is going to make a dog’s breakfast out of this awesome gold tooth. Sure enough she couldn’t get it right with the grinders and my dentist helped her fit it. He numbed me up a little for the fitting but it was still intensely painful and sensitive.

I lay back in the chair, biting the cotton roll as the cement set for five minutes. Tears ran down the side of my face. I think that’s the only time I’ve cried at the dentist. At the end the assistant tried to fetch a mirror for me and I was like, “THAT’S OK. I’M OUT.” I just made sure I didn’t need to do anything else at the front counter and then fled. I could feel sleep overtaking me but I had to get home first.

So I am wicked sore today in all my joints and muscles, probably from tensing up. My mouth feels a little better though–mouth ulcers have calmed down, and my face hasn’t had any new eruptions.


Sparks Fly

A Couple of Weeks Ago

In the trades you can make two divisions: one side is trades who do the first phase of work, much of which is buried behind walls or ceilings, like electrical and HVAC. The second is “finishing” work, which is the stuff you see in a building. Wooden shelves, painted walls, etc. As an early-phase person I work side by side with the sparkies a lot.

I was leveling out a unit and enjoying one of the 12,000 podcasts I listen to when a nearby sparky asked me something I didn’t quite catch. He was another one of those guys solidly in his career, probably mid-fifties. His face was twisted into its usual scowl, and I had the feeling he was engaging with me just because I was in his vicinity and he needed someone to work out on. I knew this guy, and I wasn’t crazy about him. He was kind of a yeller and a grump. I tried to reply somewhat politely to him, even though there was this part of me that didn’t care what the fuck he wanted or was saying.

“I don’t know,” I responded, because for a minute I thought I knew what he was saying. “Wait…what?” Not great, but whatever. Someone was running a chop saw through metal studs, which is possibly one of the worst noises ever invented.

Framer I can never resist a nice shower of sparks.

A post shared by Taibas Jones (@asstagramme) on

Dude started to fully dress me down. I was faintly aware that none of my personal gang of burly dudes, ye olde sheet metale guyes, was in evidence on the floor I was on. I thought these two things might be related.

“That’s not a very PROFESSIONAL attitude.” I heard that through my earplugs, which I pulled out of my ear. “What year are you?”

“Second,” I said, flatly.

“If you want people to take you SERIOUSLY, you’re going to need to start acting like a JOURNEYMAN.” I said nothing. “DUNCAN is an apprentice and we take him SERIOUSLY and treat him like a JOURNEYMAN because he acts like a PROFESSIONAL.” Poor skinny, acned Duncan was several feet away from us and attempting to both bend conduit and remain invisible at the same time.

I continued to give the grumpy journeyman the blank stare I’d perfected during my many dressings-down as a child for being inadequate in some way. I thought about all the things I could say to him with no consequence. I could swear at him. I could tell him his mother was a professional…at being the town bicycle. I could threaten to report him to someone.

Instead I decided to be my definition of a professional: I put my earplugs back in, turned my back on the asshole, and climbed back up my ladder. I got back to work.


We’re doing punch list in the building we’re in now, which means inspectors come and pick all the nits and we have to fix whatever they say is the problem. This means more interaction with finished work. Walls are painted or tiled, carpet is installed. Laborers run around making sure the building stays clean. I do my part; I do a ton of vacuuming and sweeping my own mess because Your Mom Doesn’t Work Here. Laborers notice this and sigh with relief and are nicer to us.

There’s quite a few women laborers, and it doesn’t escape me that they get relegated to a lot of cleaning duties. Whenever I see a woman ANYTHING I go out of my way to say “hi” and maybe make one small speck of chit chat with them. It’s kind of Lady Builder Code. I see you. Your life is both hard and rewarding like mine. Hi.

So there’s a younger woman laborer who is kind of snappy and I was feeling her out, because some people don’t want to talk to me and it’s cool. On Friday morning I saw her pushing a giant floor polisher and this dick walked by and said, “Are you sure you know how to use that?” HASHTAG MICROAGRESSION

She said, “Oh I don’t know, I’m just a helpless female! Can you show my how to use this thing??” He had fucking NOTHING.

I was all

because she’s my new hero. I ran into her a few hours later waiting for the lifts and I said, “Hey, you cracked me up earlier.” There was another sparky near us waiting and holding a ladder who swiveled his head around. He is like the good twin of the guy who dressed me down a few days before, and at first I mixed them up. It was telling he was still there and Yelly wasn’t.

“What?” she said.

I felt a little silly for speaking. “When you were pushing that floor polisher? And that guy asked you if you knew how to use it?”

‘OH YEAH. TPPPBT,” she raspberried. Seriously, did this woman have a newsletter?

“Every time I get on a fucking scissor lift,” I said, “I get, ‘LOOK OUT, WOMAN DRIVER!!’ as if I haven’t heard THAT shit 7,000 times.”

“RIGHT?” she said.

Then the sparky interrupted. “That reminds me when I was a volunteer for the Kelso fire department, and they hired the first female fire fighter…”

There commenced a story about this brave woman who used to deal with peanut butter being put in her headphones for the whole shift. Sucks. But: Ladies, Interrupted.

I saw the laborer the next day running a lift. I was with my boss, who seems pretty feminist and is really chill, and a cool coworker who’s not offensive either.

“Can you believe that sparky yesterday?” I said. “We were trying to talk about lady stuff and…”

“I KNOW!” she said.

“He had to get his oar in. Could he be more un-self aware?”

She laughed so hard. “Right! (dude voice) ‘Ladies let me tell you about my experience with sexism.”

The guys on the lift had a little moment of “uh oh a thing is happening.”

I love her.