Further adventures in getting my shit together

1.

Now that it is winter, a small brown hawk (or hawks) is visiting our yard and scaring the shit out of the chickens. I came home on Wednesday to do a quick Thanksgiving grocery/flowers drop off and bounce back out to a doctor’s appointment when I realized there were two chickens hiding under my porch shoe rack (very weird), but none of the other chickens were in evidence.


our lackluster decorating this year

I forgot the girls went downtown to have lunch with Pete, so no one had been home for a couple of hours. I called the chickens how I do when I want to feed them scraps and there was no movement. I have a pariah chicken that hides in the coop most of the time and I found her, so that made three of the eight. Then I saw the girls and Pete walking down the street from the bus stop and I asked them what was up. Nothing, they said, the chickens were there when they left.

I had to go but the girls said they would look around the neighborhood in case they had jumped over the fence. As it turns out, within an hour Franny was able to find them all in the yard, very very silently socked in to small crevices and under thick hedges. The good news is that they are bin Laden-level hide and seek experts, but the bad news is that if they hide like that and we don’t find them, they are likely to get picked off by a raccoon that night.

I suspect this is the same kind of hawk that struck Death Ray dead last winter, but Pete and I finally saw it recently. He saw it swooping into the yard and we saw it later being chased by crows. It’s too little to actually carry a chicken off.

This is weirdly frustrating. Could you at least eat what you terrify?

2.

We had a very quiet Thanksgiving. I dithered on the menu until I ended up in the realm of completely traditional and boring and I was very okay with that. I butterflied and spatchcocked the turkey again this year. Apparently I did this last year and have ZERO memory of it. I do remember the car crash and that an entertaining was a Herculean effort due to feeling generally shitty and being depressed. Whee.


another year, another turkey. But, it was delicious again.

This year I super enjoyed myself for no real reason. Everything came together very easily and I didn’t make a schedule in five minute increments like I usually do, and I didn’t forget anything. I think I was also less interested in over-the-top food weirdness like I usually am. I’m starting to feel like I can direct my energy where it counts now, and save it sometimes when it doesn’t.

We had garden pumpkins saved from summer and I baked them for pie, like I sometimes do. I’m sure there’s a ton of traditional pumpkin pie recipes out there that don’t contain evaporated or sweetened milk but I didn’t feel like hunting one down. I took a peep in the Joy and found something called Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. It called for a custard, egg whites, and gelatin as a thickener/fluffiner, and it was nice and light without being at all rubbery. I had the last piece for breakfast Friday morning.

What I REALLY was looking forward to was the Gilmore Girls revival that dropped on Friday. I had a little party with the girls, my sister, and a friend, all of whom are superfans. I don’t have a ton to say about the show here. I think you have to accept Amy Sherman Paladino products for what they are. As many recappers and reviewers have pointed out when the show was on the air, it had plotholes ahoy as well as time and other logic problems. That pattern wasn’t really resolved in the revival. I was happy to spend more time with the characters and we all laughed and cried.

I made a Gilmore-inspired buffet and my guests hung through the first two episodes, which was three hours of viewing. I made pizza, Chinese food, a cake, and Pete made The Rory, which is a very pink cocktail that Emily had concocted for Rory’s 21st birthday. I made some deviled eggs benedict, as a nod to Emily’s fancy parties but also the episode where Lorelai and Rory devil egged Jess’s car. Franny made whoopie pies because they are chocolatey and marshmallowy and good.

My sister captured the “before” better than I did because I was buzzing around finishing things up, but I did get an after.



3.

For the first time ever, I seem to be able to successfully use list/task software consistently and well. I’ve always kept a calendar, and I kept a datebook while I was in school so I could turn things in on time, but other than that I was a little random and would struggle.

During my decline and fall in the corporate world, I tried kanban-ing and task listing and bullet diary-ing and anything I could think of to make sure things didn’t fall through the cracks. I would also spend time reading the bon mots of productivity gurus and then being annoyed by them and hating them and then hating myself. Then I realized I wasn’t always using my apps consistently or even remembering to update or even open them. Pretty disheartening. But now I find that if it goes on my task list, it gets done, if not day of, then the next day.

I’m using Epic Win at the moment. It’s simple, but good for me for recurring tasks (monthly dog and cat flea treatment) as well as daily ones like flossing. Yes, my task list includes flossing, something I often forgot or put off. Some day I hope it will be so ingrained I can take it off again.

I include one-offs on my task list as well. I decided today would be the day I would clean off my rain lamp so I can consign it.

I enjoyed owning a rain lamp for a short time until I realized that oily surface = dust nightmare, and it always smells like a melted crayon when I run it. Also, in the summer when it gets above 80 the oil starts to evaporate and leaves specks on the wall, table, pictures, the statuette in the lamp, and so on.

I told myself that if I cleaned it and made sure it was running well, and consigned it, I could begin the process of looking for a TV lamp. A few months ago I found the book mentioned in this article about the history of TV lamps. I thought it would be fun to replace the rain lamp with one. Just a little spot of tacky decorative light on the credenza and a lot less maintenance.

But anything like this was an uphill battle a couple of months ago. Please excuse this terrible metaphor, but I felt like much of my life was spent paying off blackmailers rather than going to the hideout and kneecapping the source of the problem. I had a lot of inertia going. I was sad my lamp was dusty and partly clogged, and making a mess on the wall in the hot part of the summer, but didn’t have the energy or organization to deal with it. My list kept getting longer and longer. Today it rolled up on my to-do list, I found that motivation lever and dealt with it in less than an hour. It’s still very weird and something I’m trying to get used to.

4.

Last week I had trade school for the first time. It was a mix of classroom time with basic math review (area, radius, fractions, decimals, etc), OSHA training, and some shop time. I found the shop time the most challenging because I knew what kind of metal bends or folds I wanted to produce, but not always which machines did what and how to use them.

We had to make a useless duct, which was kind of a nightmare on the first go round and turned out very poorly!

My teacher said, “Write your name on your duct!” but I was embarrassed so hedged a little.

By the time Friday rolled around I passed the written test since math, history, vocab, and so on is not my hurdle. I was nervous about the final shop project since all we had was a spec sheet, but it finally clicked. I finished last, but I did fine and finished well within the time limit.

On one hand school was WAY easier to sit still, pay attention, and focus on, than it was from first grade through grad school. On the other, I was not ready for the feeling of being back to something I haven’t done in over ten years. Fortunately it’s only a week at a time and they really want you to succeed.

This week I talked to a cool journeywoman who was doing trimble work on my jobsite for a couple of days. She remembered me from the women’s meeting in October. I told her about my shop challenges and she said, “Oh yeah, I remember that. I’ve told them how hard that is for shop newbies!” She said she was organizing some shop time for the women’s committee to come in and build small objects like toolboxes for outreach programs in high schools. She told me that is a great time to come into the shop and take pictures of the machines with a note about what they do as reference for later. GREAT IDEA.

Work’s going well. Life’s going pretty well. Drugs have been like a switch going on in my life. There’s a daily “FLICK” when they kick in and my thoughts get orderly and calm, but even when they wear off (by midmorning) my mood still stays pretty good over the course of 24 hours until I take another one. After they wear off, though, I feel my brain getting skippy and sludgy again, which makes me bored and grumpy. I’m working out what a second midday dose will look like.

My doctor wants to put me on something really low dose and reasonable for a second dose so I can get to sleep at night, which I think is a good idea, since I treasure my restful, unanxious sleep now. I have an interesting reaction with these drugs. I’ve discovered I can take speed and immediately go to sleep if I need or want a nap. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. I don’t think it’s going to interfere with my sleep. What fucks up my sleep is not being on drugs and being out of work. I used to need to be exhausted, like utterly destroyed to stay asleep or fall back to sleep after I’d snapped awake at 2 or 3 a.m. But ideally I do need my brain happy and my body at least tired.


me unmedicated

I’m still not pushing myself super hard to take on big projects or new hobbies or even get back to writing…yet. I want to motor along for a while until being happy and getting things done feels normal and not novel.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUILD SOME DOG STAIRS?

It actually has to be some dog stairs

I keep realizing I’m not capturing things from this summer in anything resembling a timely fashion. This was my final project in shop class. When I get paid I will carpet them. I’m feeling…berber. EH? These are going at the foot of the bed when they’re done so the spaniels don’t have to go all DB Cooper on me every time they have to go pee.

In case you have a sharp eye, you will see the jigsaw hole I cut was wonky. I was down to the last five minutes of time! Whoops. I am also reminded that I need to get rid of my liquor decanters, since we don’t really drink brown liquor anymore.

Todd Chavez has displaced their old home. My new hobby of aquarium-keeping has replaced the old hobby of despair and malnutrition. Anyone need some cut crystal decanters? Also, don’t get me wrong. I still like some wine or vodka sometimes, which seems pretty safe as long as I don’t go for the super cheap stuff.

P. got soap on himself while doing the dishes, and then stripped off, and THEN went out to give the bees a little fall snack of heavy syrup. Naturally he just threw his beecoat on. He thinks he has invented Topless Beekeeping and wants me to start the website. N-O. But I had to snap him.

“Har har,” he said, as I papped him.

So here’s me and my face, which will be 38 in a couple of weeks. WHAT HOW DID THAT HAPPEN.

For fun, here is me ten years ago, at 27:

On this day in history I went to the electrician’s union and took the math and reading test. Reading test–very easy, of course, and I was the first one finished. Algebra test–I dunno! I think I got a majority of them. But ENOUGH? I will let you know in two weeks. I am allowed to call then and inquire about results. I think a letter will be coming and there are interviews next month and in December.

There were three ladies in the room, out of maybe 60 people, and one of them sat next to me. Which was cool. She started talking about her kids immediately, which was also nice. I like people who are like that, though we were told this summer to keep being a mother a secret. She was going for limited energy, which is stuff like data comm and alarm systems. I’m signed up for indoor wireman, which pays very well but I will not be swinging from cherry pickers at 2 a.m. in a power outage. I didn’t get a chance to speak to the other lady.

I saw the new members of the Ladies Hammer Club filing into the building, which is housed with the electrical union. They looked harassed and tired in their exercise clothes and I wanted to talk to them but they looked so serious, which is the same as I was.

Here are some things I was told this summer.

1. “There is one ‘hen’ per jobsite, so watch out. Wait no, not really. But actually yeah kind of.” What we should watch out for, I am not sure.

2. “If there is a gossipy man on the site and he is trying to bend your ear, you will be the one fired for being the distraction, not him, so get rid of him ASAP.”

3. “Your pants are all too tight.” To be fair, that day most of us were wearing pants that were too tight. I pulled a page out of the Americorps workers’ books, who usually showed up to Habitat for Humanity in the those really stretchy lady jeans that are more like denim-colored leggings but do not cross the line into jeggings. Boy howdy are those nice to work in, though. What I finally ended up doing was buying enormous bib overalls. ZOOP! Gender vanish!

4. “This one guy wouldn’t leave me alone about my hair when it was down this summer, so I had to you know, corner him, and deal with him privately.” There followed meaningful jaw-clenching. I imagine this guy’s remains are entombed in a column of the new 520 somewhere. “Now I wear it up every day even though it’s brittle (sigh).”

5. “Sometimes guys will whine that they are special and should have a key to the female portajohns for some weird reason. HELL. NO.”

6. “DO NOT date on the job site. Whatever you do, don’t marry an ironworker. Don’t ask me how I know that.”

7. “Females.” I am no longer a woman, chick, lady, or girl, but a female. Females can be trouble, but the union needs females, so that’s lucky for me. Females cannot expect special treatment on a jobsite. They have to work harder and faster. Don’t let that 26-year-old white knight lift things for you. Help females out when you can, but look out and know a lot of them will try to stick the knife in your back.

8. DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR KIDS. OR YOUR PERSONAL LIFE. OR ANYTHING THAT IS NOT THE JOB. DO NOT REMIND ANYONE YOU ARE A FEMALE. You may give 5 minutes to how the Seahawks are doing.

9. “What is the sounds of two turtles fucking?” ?? BONK *Get bonked hard with riddler’s hard hat*

I am going downtown to work tomorrow until Xmas, thank god, shoveling consumer goods into the maw of capitalist desire. I mean, I’ll be doing marketing again. More number-crunchy and less copywritey this time. HOORAY MONEY. And waiting for that call. That call for the scrappy, oldish, last chance, eight-of-nine-lives female to go to work. C’mon, phone. Do your ring thing.

Snore Club

The No 1 Ladies Hammer Agency

Today Morgan and the girls and I went downtown to buy spices. I went a little apeshit (nigella AND sumac) and Morgan went more practical. She’s getting into vegetables too, and that means SPICES. I suggested a field trip since we both have the day off. Everywhere we went people talked to us like we were tourists, of course, since it is high tourist season here.

A young guy with those nice evil “v” eyebrows at Pike Place made me feel a mango.

“FEEL this mango.”

“Okay,” I said, giving it a halfhearted pat like you would to a guinea pig recovering from mange. I was not going to be roped in to his bullshit.

“How was that, EH? EH?”

“It was okay.”

“Listen to this one!” he said about me, as if I was being clever.

“I’ve felt a lot of mangoes.” I just wanted to get my lettuce and to GTFO.

Someone else at a pawn shop asked us if we were tourists as well, of course. I am still on my mission to find those rapper name plate necklaces from the 80s. Where did they go?

“Were they melted down or what?” I asked the clerk behind the counter. He was quite rotund and looked sweaty even in the cool AC.

“That’s what I would do with them,” he said. I didn’t expect him to know or anything.

“Remember when we had lunch at that one place with Mom and some sketchy dudes wanted to pay for our lunch and you got mad?” my sister asked me. That sounded like me.

“Man, no,” I said. “I am such a jerk.”

“Well, it was really shady. Who does that! Mom was all delighted and you were all HELL NO.” I have taken the adage about free lunches to heart, I think.

I had to say that I actually had completely forgotten about it, and it only sounded vaguely familiar. I have blocked a lot of stuff that happened with our mother in my 20s out, and I think that might have been the very beginning of my memory really going sideways. I just have no interest in storing those memories I guess. It’s funny, though, that it was another time when our mother was taking things one way and I was demonstrating a completely different set of behavior and values. Morgan came down on my side.

I bought the girls slushy apple cider and was assured that it was 100% apple cider before I paid. I helped Strudel get her lid on and some slush dripped onto my fingers, maybe half a teaspoon. I licked it off without thinking about it. Strudel drank the whole thing down happily, as did her sister. I started feeling funny about an hour after we arrived home–what I call “balloon head on a string.”

“How are you feeling, Strudel?” I asked.

“Urgh. Bad. My stomach hurts and I’m spacey.” Shit. Franny is feeling unwell too. I think corn is the most likely suspect right now. I am sad to be corned this weekend. This is hard to write and I have found countless typos and poor grammar. I am sure I will leave some in.

I quick pickled a bunch of asparagus recently.

I’m not crazy about it so I haven’t tasted it. I am told it is “less Victorian than usual,” which probably means I backed off on the allspice a bit.

Edith is on a reducing program on the vet’s advice. About six months ago our vet said she was getting into the chubby zone. Not dangerous, but a good time to stop feeding her pecans, her favorite.

It may be hard to see here, but she has a bit of loose skin now.


Strudel is having a good summer of mostly boredom, and hanging with a friend who just moved a few blocks closer. She came into my bedroom and told me that she’s “a tween now.” Followed up with, “I’m going to go paint my toenails.” She is off to Celiac sleepaway camp at the beginning of August.

You may ask yourself, “What is this idiotic posing?” I started my class this week (Monday) and today is a holiday, thank god. I got my protective gear and boots right away. I think I am ready to apply for my chosen trade but I am keeping an open mind about the others we’re exploring, in case I want to apply for them too. I don’t want to be more specific because I am a tiny bit superstitious about counting chickens.

It’s nice to be back in class. I don’t want to be an eternal student, but I am ready to learn something new, which is what a trade is in the beginning. I am kind of thinking of it as paid collage.


“MOM I’M GOING TO POSE IN YOUR BOOTS KAWAIIIIIII” Ok.

I’m enjoying getting to know the ladies in my group. There’s youngsters and I think there’s a couple older than me. I don’t say much because I mostly just want to listen. They all have incredible stories about what they’ve done. Women with records (Our teacher: “Trades don’t care.”), women who are currently in shelters, past homelessness, women who live with their parents with their children, women with past lives in many other careers and jobs. There’s stories about dire warehouse jobs, wage theft, being pushed around by corporations, and life-changing motorcycle accidents. There’s even a Microsoft refugee with two children close to my age and of course talking to her was very familiar.

During the OSHA class, the teacher started doing some L&I payroll tax shit on the whiteboard that involved simple calculations.

“Who has a calculator?” she asked. I started doing them in my head and calling out the answers before the person with a calculator on her phone could get an answer. “Who’s good at math?” the teacher said, turning around to see who was answering. I raised my hand. No one has ever said that to me before.

So far I’ve gotten an OSHA 10 cert, first aid/CPR, and practice doing mock interviewing. I think I’m the only one who doesn’t hate interviewing. I’m just used to 1-5 hour loops, not 15 minutes, which is what I have to make a pitch to the committees I’ll be facing this fall when I graduate. There’s going to be math, but it’s easier than what I’ve done so far on my own. Some of it’s amazing and some of it’s kind of time filling. We literally run stairs almost every day, and it’s killing me, carrying this twenty-pounds-extra caboose. I’m doing really well, though, and losing at least a pound a week. I’m looking forward to job site visits and shop days (I’m going to build a bench).

Sometimes I want to not pay attention in class and just interview all the women all day, students and the guest teachers, and find out about their histories and lives. We keep being asked “why I’m here” and I want to say “because I got sick and almost died and when I could walk again I found out I could run and do math.” This is weird, so instead I say Career Change and I Like Math.

I wired this today and they all work, just some of the bulbs are burned out. These are the original ceiling light fixtures from the rec room downstairs. P. has implanted them into the wall and we will panel around them and put the brass and frosted glass covers back on, and then they will be ~arty vintage mood lighting~. My idea.

Volunteer Kid Hassler For Hire

Wow! My kid’s teacher just asked me to give a book talk for her class. Apparently some of the kids have been mistreating books lately, and she wants a librarian to come in and impress the importance of books upon them. I guess all the real librarians were busy! Ha!

Anyway, Companion and I talked a little and he gave me some ideas for activities. I think I am going to start with a game where each kid gets a piece of paper with a skilled job and a job description on it. The scenario is that they all live spread out in an area, and the plague sweeps through and some of them die, taking their knowledge with them. Lo, the recipe for cement and the secrets of midwifery are lost. In this way I am going to try to show the importance of collected information in an easily-accessible format.

I am just brainstorming at this point, but I think this could be fun. I have been offering my skills to that school for years. I’m really glad the new teacher finally sees me as a tappable resource.

Monkey Science!

“So, um, does anyone have questions about this model?”

The professor was lecturing about a paper he’d written, always an awkward situation, because if you think the ideas are ass you can’t say as much. We shifted around and waited for the break.

“Let’s talk about future models, then, okay? We have to keep working on reference service theory, or we won’t be able to teach this at a university level, right? Ha, ha.”

Huh.

Later, at the coffee cart:

Me: Dude, did you hear what he said about theories? That’s supposed to remain unspoken.

Friend: Yeah.

Me: I’m turning him in. He’s giving away the game.

Friend: I know it.

Monkey science! Must…escape…graduate…school.

In Other News

Crazy snaps to Miel, who just popped sprog and is being alarmingly understated about the whole thing. I flailed around like a wounded howler monkey in my first few weeks, like Dooce was. I wish more geniouses in this world would have children.

Off the Wig

So, things are more or less better now, except for this explosion of ass zits I got from three days of stress, drinking, and wearing synthetic fibers. Since I am thong-addicted, of course my poor ass was totally unprotected from the ubiquitous Spandex that appears in every pair of fancy modern trousers. My honey-baked ham probably looks like one of those gnarly non-slip bathmats from the 1970’s. I don’t care…I’m back to cotton pantses now, and I will be cleared up in a few days.

I don’t have too much to say about the PhD interviews, except what I spewed off in my audioblog the other night. I played it back before I posted it to see if I was intelligible, and I realized? that I was walking and stressed out? so all my sentences? Ended as questions. I can only hope I sounded that articulate? and intelligent? and angry? During my interviews.

It was the stuff I expected: why do you want to get a PhD in information science? What are some projects you�d like to work on for your dissertation? What is information science? There was this awful three-parter question that I had to take notes on to answer cohesively. It went pretty well…I even got the committee to laugh a few times. One of my fellow student-spies told me she walked by the interview room while another one was going on, and they had left the door open. She said it was extremely solemn in there and that the committee chair’s eyes were all glazed over, so at least I was a breath of fresh air.

I hope personality and charisma counts for something. My stiffy fellow applicants had all these skills and accomplishments under their belts, but man, I can sure work a room.

They are having the second round of PhD interviews for the other half of the applicants, mostly international students, at the end of this month, and then they are sending out letters posthaste. Stay tuned!