Welcome Back to the Blog and Make it a Cool Font

Other than Pete, I’m going to talk to you about this first.

When I was younger, my weight fluctuated a lot. When I was poor, I ate less and lost weight. Then I had more money, and I shoveled in General Tso like there was no Tsomorrow and gained weight. I had a well-meaning but completely ignorant go at vegetarianism for about nine years. I was never what I derisively called a “french fry vegetarian” but there were many nights that were just salad and some French bread. Close enough. Like many people, I was also very uneducated about nutrition in general, which is something I tried to correct after I had Franny (how do you feed a kid? Let’s read several books on the topic and then get more confused).

So you take an ignorant person who’s not eating enough fat or protein, and combine that with mysterious and random pains and extreme tiredness, making it hard to exercise, and that person’s weight fluctuates. It was frustrating to me and of course I blamed myself. IF ONLY I could get my shit together and eat right and exercise, I would think. Everything would fall into place. That was the lie I told myself. I was on the right track, though. Everyone needs a good diet and exercise, but especially me, as it turns out.

For the most part, I fixed it. This is not news to you. The nutrition part was absolutely involuntary, but critical, and the exercise part is forced but, of course, voluntary with my career change. I’m very glad about those two things.

I thought some kind of magical transformation would take place once I started feeling better physically. I was super glad I was feeling so much better, and like I might want to and enjoy living past 50. But I felt like my progress bar was stuck on 79% or so, spinning, spinning…. I was depressed at times. Completely bored with my life but not wanting to or able to go back out into restaurants, bars, and movie theatres multiple times a week. I wasn’t suddenly going to discover rock climbing or anything. If I stayed home or worked outside, I felt better. But anxiety was still there, jabbing me, especially if I had to go out and function in the (corny) world. A visit to the movies could leave me in tears or vomiting, or both. I also knew I wasn’t functioning as well as I could be even after getting the corn out of my system.

I’m at a point now where I can’t struggle against myself anymore. It’s too hard. I’ve hacked and self-medicated myself for many years and I’m tired of doing it all on my own. I had a talk with myself. I’m super good at these.

BRAIN: Remember when we were on speed all the time and got so much stuff done and could remember people’s names and wanted to write bad scifi and there weren’t piles everywhere and people liked us and we could answer the phone?

Me: We don’t do that anymore, brain, now we have carrots and zinc supplements. Plus I think we were an acquired taste even then.

BRAIN: Yes but you have class coming up and things to memorize and your children are starting to work around your bad memory….

Me: SHUT UP SHUT UP

BRAIN: Maybe we could pretend…wait, what was I saying? You know what would be great right now? Getting into the shower and crying.

Me: We already did that today

BRAIN: You should get a tattoo! Or just start tatting. Tat-a-tat tippicanoe…

Me: ??? Thanks for nothing, asshole

Brain: *Hold please*

But my horrible, traitorous brain got me thinking. Speed and copious amounts of coffee was the only thing that kept me functional before I figured out I was allergic to life. Ready, this is where it gets REALLY pathetic.

Maybe…maybe I could FAKE adhd to get a legal script for speed. I started looking at signs and symptoms of adhd. I started reading message boards about people who have faked their way into the various drugs. I started reading people’s stories. Uh oh.

This was the lightbulb moment: I think…I actually HAVE adhd and wouldn’t need to fake anything. Shit.

I got tested a couple of weeks ago and it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Squirm factor rating was “Court” but with less emotional anguish. Think about a cavalcade of small tasks that you hate to do the most and do that for about three hours. For me it was things like mental math and memorizing, reordering, and reciting strings of letters and numbers. I kind of wanted to run out of the room. The battery was very thorough. And in the end, yes, inattentive adhd. I was honest about using stimulants for years and how they got me through graduate school and the doc said, “Yes, the fact that they work for you so well adds to the evidence that you have it.”

She said something insightful to me that made me feel a lot better and lose a lot of the guilt and shame of my lifelong, sad struggling. This goes way back, pretty much back to everything that happened after kindergarten. My complete disinterest in school, ever doing homework, complying with authority, being told I was smart but lazy. I was bored out of my mind, even in the face of new material (I had to really care about it to focus). Really my patterns of bad behavior were the origin for this blog. There are so many things I HAVEN’T told you about but that seal’s popping when Franny turns 18, ha.

What she said was pretty simple: “You told me you never did homework but skated into tests and passed them so they passed you on. You taught yourself what you wanted to out of books and ignored everything else. You’ve been successful at many things (referring to finishing grad school especially) and that’s because you’re smart. You’ve figured out how to cope.” She said she had one “aha” moment when I did well on the IQ test, pretty well on the memory tests, but as she watched me, she could see I was closing my eyes and chunking the numbers, like a phone number. I TANKED on the solo attention stuff. “You’re obviously better in a one-on-one setting,” she said, about my focus.

“This is the real me on no coffee,” I told her.

So now I get onto the (legal) medication-go-round. I feel so relieved. I am already having nicer conversations with my brain and trying to be more patient with it when I forget things right now or see a shiny thing. I am too old to think “YES THIS IS THE ANSWER NOW, we’re all done.” But based on my past experience I expect improvement. This is another lever I can pull.

Speaking of pulling people’s levers.

I did get Franny some actual factual birthday presents, but we hadn’t seen Mr. Coconut milk for a few months so I had to wrap it up. I was gratified by the “ARGGH” I was looking for.

I have a sixteen-year-old. Things are moving fast for her right now and it’s freaking her out. She’s leveling up. Her boyfriend has graduated and has a job. I took her to get a state ID the other day, which I figure she should have and will increasingly need. I turned over her social security card and implored her to memorize her number (she won’t). She is still volunteering at KEXP with her aunt but has just applied for her first paying job.

She asked me to shave part of her head last weekend, which I did. With the dog clippers, naturally.

I used to tease her about having a mohawk when she was little and it would always make her scream. I remember when my neighbor shaved most of my head in high school and my mother laughed at me until she was in tears. I still don’t get that reaction.

Franny’s flip phone is dying, and the “kid” service we have her on has gotten pretty lame. They no longer sell phones, and if you bring your own phone, it must meet a lot of criteria, like being older than one year, not certain models, etc. We don’t use any of the special features anymore either (we used to cut her texting off at a certain time of night so she would not have her sleep interrupted).

Pete, sensibly, doesn’t want to be a spurting artery of parental largesse for either of the girls, which is something I respect about him. We dithered about what to do. I thought about putting her on our phone service, but the reason it works for us is that it’s “pay for what you use” and we’re very light users (two lines, $45 a month on average). I knew her 5000+ monthly texts would really send us through the roof.

We made a deal with her. I told her I would buy her a very basic flip phone again, gratis, and she could pay for what she uses once she’s employed, which ideally will be before xmastime. I am also setting it up in the meantime so we get alert texts and features turn off if she goes near overages. Alternately she could buy herself a smartphone, and I would pay for text and talk, and when she gets a job we can turn on data and she can pay for the whole schmear. Naturally she went for the smart phone. I’m going to give her access to the usage page for our cell service as well so she can practice keeping an eye on that. As usual, trying to do the training wheels thing with her so adulthood doesn’t scream “BITE THE PILLOW, I’M GOING IN DRY” like it did for me.

Franny wanted to Do Something for her birthday, and we want to have more family trips, large or small, before she graduates. We haven’t gone anywhere since Maui Death Trip. We settled on a long weekend in L.A., which has Harry Potterport, Hollywood, and palm trees. Franny wanted to go to the Museum of Death as well. Strudel was tired a couple of days in and got headachey, especially after a day of roller coasters, so Franny and I took an afternoon to drive all of Mulholland Drive, which was really fun and beautiful. She sneaky peed at an overlook and I kept watch. “I’m a great outdoor pee-er!” she said.

We tried to hit LACMA after landing, but were tired and getting corned at the museum, so bailed out for the tar pits.

I skipped them the first time I went to LA, thinking they were pretty tourist trappy, but it was actually cool to see them bubbling.

One of my favorite parts was when we were on our way to Universal Studios and Pete realized that no one had packed sunscreen. We stopped at the West Hollywood Whole Foods and he ran in to get some. We watched a beautiful woman who had obviously just finished exercising pick out a selection of squashes and decorative corn. It was Friday morning.

“She’s having a dinner party,” I said.

“Her workout pants are very trendy right now,” Franny said. They had the little peekaboo mesh slashes. “I bet she’s a personal trainer.”

“I bet she doesn’t work,” I said. “Look at that ring.”

“Don’t pick that squash!” Strudel yelled from inside our car (windows rolled up). “It doesn’t go with the other ones!”

I was fascinated by the WeHo Whole Foods and I couldn’t figure out why. It was grubby. The produce really sucked. The clientele was weird looking in a LA way instead of in a Seattle way. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized…it actually looked and functioned like a city grocery store. Even the middle of town at Whole Foods here I feel like I’m in the suburbs somehow. Also we could not get much for gluten free beer (tiny violins, I know). Seattle is a very special bubble and I am very spoiled with great food and I know it.

It was nice to sneak in some 70s weather in the middle of October.

The air bnb was ADORABLE.

I know I have said next to nothing about Strudel, but she’s doing so, so well right now. She’s interested in picking up another day of violin, which we’re going to see if we can make work after xmas (also I am not working at the moment). She’s really a pleasure and taking to middle school beautifully. She looks a tiny bit stressed out every day because there’s still (always) Mean Girl drama. Recently a kid came back to her small school from the BIG cluster middle school, and we are so grateful to him because he gave everyone the lowdown about the fistfights and bullying and teachers completely phoning it in and she is glad to be where she is. Middle school is no picnic for anyone but she’s doing well. Challenged in math but a lot of the subjects are teaching the same units again.

She told me she goes to visit her incredible 5th grade teacher, the one who sorted them into Hogwarts houses and did math rpgs. He is back to having a group of very difficult kids this year, because this is the reward you get for being an amazing teacher apparently? Strudel’s group of gifted nerds was a brief respite year and cookie for him, we suspect.

“I’m bored,” she told him.

“Me too,” he said.

I feel like I can’t quite see who she’s going to be yet, which is how I felt about Franny in middle school. She’s still in the chrysalis. Franny is going to get more life experience, and more mature, but spending time with her solo in LA gave me a little preview of what our adult relationship will be like. Franny seems like she’s Alice, halfway through a wee door and trying to finish pulling through. She knows she’s the right size, but the door is kind of an odd size. Strudel is still Eat Me and Drink Me-ing herself dizzy. I’m not in a hurry, though. I’m enjoying Strudel and her weird tweeny ways now.

Jumping Nimbly Bimbly From Tree to Tree

I’ve got a day off randomly, due to the disorganization of the company I’m working for, I guess. Back to work one more day tomorrow and then I think I’m laid off again for a day or two.

In the space of an hour this morning I’ve made myself vastly unpopular. Franny was at her dad’s for the weekend and came home ill. She dragged through school on Monday and then texted me about staying home on Tuesday, then later said she vomited. Today I was lying in bed reading the headlines when she swanned in sadly.

“I decided I’m staying home again today,” she said, flopping down on Horace, who was happy to be a pillow.

“No, sorry, you’re going to school,” I said. Cue tears! She did not expect that.

“WHY.”

I gave her a little pep talk that wasn’t very peppy.

“So, we’ve got this thing that we’re going to have our whole lives. Some days you’re going to feel like shit. This weekend wasn’t your fault. You’re kind of a gluten prisoner over there. Remember how I ate that jerky at work a month ago and it said it was gluten free and it wasn’t? That was kind of my fault but kind of not. I had to suck it up and keep working, and go the next day.

“You may only be halfway there today, taking in half of the information, but you have to go. Some of it will come back to you later. It’s school. Phone it in, but you gotta show up. You’re going to feel glutened for days. It’s better to do something rather than just sit around doing nothing all day.”

I have to do this because the gluten brain WILL tell you to stay home, quit your life, gaze out of the window and sigh, while lamenting your 47 aches and pains. I’ve discovered I need a cheerleader to tell me life will go on and I need to go for a walk. Pete got sick recently from sanding drywall in the basement and I got him out of the house and walking as well, but the golden rule is: Not Too Far From Any Bathroom. I told her it’s like being a major pothead without the fun parts: all the spaciness and lack of motivation without any of the giggling or dreadlock beads.

OH STEREOTYPES! Where would we be without you?

Presently I hoisted my leisurely, news-reading self out of bed and made coffee so I wouldn’t be that guy who tells you to go to school, while you’re glutened, from bed. That’s a click away from wire hanger parenting. I did relent and tell her to cancel her guitar lesson right meow since that’s non-essential and I’m sure she’d like to avoid carrying her guitar around all day while achy.

Then I got Strudel, who could not find a tooth in a shark’s open maw.

“MOM do you know where the steak is?”

“In the fridge.” I knew she was standing in front of it, chillerating the whole kitchen already.

“I don’t see it!”

“Maybe ask your sister, since she put away leftovers last night?”

Franny was grumping in the bathroom and muttered something unhelpful through the door of her primp palace. Strudel marched back to the kitchen and sighed loudly.

“Do you want me to come look?” I asked.

“No…yes….no. It’s not in here.”

“If I find the steak, you have to make dinner.” Faustian!

She dithered some more, then finally agreed to the terms. I walked to the fridge and pulled the leftover steak out and handed it to her.

“FRANNY HID IT!” she said.

“No, she sensibly put it under the mushrooms, since this glass container is so much heavier.”

Then I danced around like this naturally

while yelling “I’m RUMPLESTEAKSKIN!”

“WHAT SHOULD I MAKE! I NEED TO GET THE COOKBOOK!”

“It needs to have at least three salads and a foam course,” I said.

“I’ll make foam with dinner when you do.” That’s fair.

Joke’s on her, though. I’m going to make dinner myself because I have the day off and I like making dinner.

I treated myself to a bread machine recently. I had one for years that someone generously cast off to me, and I used it for a long time until I got ill. I’m not sorry I donated it, because it was full of wheat residue. I am one of those people who likes eating bread, but doesn’t care for how dough feels. Like, to jibbly levels of no thank you. I have been a proponent of drop biscuits for forever for this reason. Hence, bread machine intermediary.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve done some runs at dairy free, gluten free breads, and have found the results mixed and fairly depressing. HOW MANY TIMES have I been snookered by a blog post claiming, “Your friends won’t even know it’s gluten free!” Like fun they wouldn’t, even if I was cruel enough to serve it to them. But now that we have our flour mix pinned down, and now that we have dairy back in the form of sheep and buffalo, it’s going pretty well. I am going to hang out on this cloudy day, drink coffee, and attempt a cheese garlic loaf in my almost-new machine. It had a test run last night with a cinnamon raisin loaf while we watched the first part of The Case of Jonbenet Ramsey.

I’m also fooling around with pizza dough a lot. I’m going to try GF girl’s weekly pizza jam for a while (scroll 7 years to get past the twee if you want the recipe). Sounds fun.

I cut my stupid face at work. THERE GOES MY MODELING CAREER!

Asspophasis

So I guess I’m blogging once a month right now. I still have that thing, that long, long entrenched habit, where I have racing thoughts about what I could write down, especially relating to the looking-glass that is work, but I’m not getting there. Something in my motivation has changed, post-corn. I used to feel like I was always running to something significant, like a good change, like more opportunities to do what I want with writing or travel or my hobbies. I’m not saying my life was always topsy-turvy, it wasn’t, just that there was something on the horizon. Lately I feel very static, like some pudding that has set up too much.

I spend a lot of time avoiding situations that will make me sick. Before I used to throw myself into them, because I had no idea what I was doing. I don’t know how to describe this well…before, I was always ill. I always felt bad and just learned to cope and try to grit my teeth and be pleasant. Now I feel well most of the time but I hardly go anywhere or see anyone. I have been considering masks but I feel like that crosses a line somehow. Says the person who prepares all of her own food and travels with her own sheets.


me rollin up in the art museum with my homies

I am going to try some nasal filters to see if that will help. When we go out we make like Persephone but we all still have to breathe.

Sometimes I think about jumping back in and eating and drinking corn with gusto, if only to get that frantic feeling of being REALLY ALIVE for a few hours, but then I remember that my hair was falling out and sometimes I would go completely, momentarily deaf from tinnitus. Lots of people live secluded, unknown lives and always have, but it is hard to step back and out of the world. I used to feel driven to write something, anything, even if it was complete garbage or something like, well, a blog (Venn diagram overlaps sometimes). Now it’s pulling teeth. My brain doesn’t crackle, it just sits, gelling. I’m facing living longer (maybe) but being completely bored with myself.

I don’t burden my girls with my thoughts along these lines. It’s not for them. They’re not my friends, they have no idea what existential horrors and delights will come when they’re in their 30s (neither do I of course). I do hope I intervened with them young enough that they won’t feel as outside of the world as I do lately. I hope we will all be able to find an acceptable way to get through.

It’s their first days of school.

This new middle schooler is a little excited.

This Satanist is starting her junior year.

There is something on the other side that is NOT black:

Normally I am frantic for them to go back to school, but this year they’ve been so easy and fun to hang out with. I’ve spent the last week with them because I got laid off (building was about finished).

No more being up on tall roofs for the moment. Next week I go to a week-long class that’s meant to be a first year trade orientation, kind of like electrician boot camp was. I’m in a pickle at the moment because of course they didn’t process my automatic union dues correctly, and I can’t come to class without a receipt. Administrative problems are rife in this union as well it seems. I’m sure I can straighten it out with a phone call.

If I don’t get back in a month…Friday (9/9) is my 15 year blog anniversary. I have outlasted Samuel Pepys at this point, though he was more frequent and diligent. I have some images I want to replace this banner with, but am even failing at replacing them (this template is completely terrible and I think it’s not helping with writing more often), which seems like a good project for an idle Friday when I am waiting to go to school and the girls are gone. Happy fall.

We’re gonna sip genmaicha like it’s your birthday

Franny said something interesting after returning from her father’s house last weekend. As I’ve mentioned, she often has a challenge over there, in that their house is set up differently than ours. The air and the products they use are full of corn. I would be a wreck if I was still in an environment like that and I remember being pretty consistently depressed when I was her age. She comes back irritable, tired, and with a couple of zits dotting her usually-clear face.

There was some kind of conflict last weekend that led to her peacing out to her room, probably exacerbated by how she was feeling. The shocking thing, to her, was that her father followed and asked her if she wanted to talk about it.

“I was so surprised!” she told me. “Now that I’m 15, he’s finally acting like a dad!”

Well, her definition of what a good dad is. It’s interesting to me what different people need to feel like someone cares about them. For her, it’s being listened to, and for someone to try to help her get to the bottom of what she’s feeling. When I was her age, I think I wanted to be encouraged in my interests, and not feel like an alien or be told things like “art’s a waste of time” or “girls don’t do that” or “you’ll grow out of it” (atheism, ha).

For a lot of reasons, I didn’t really have any meaningful talks with my own mother past the age of 12. I think there is a part of me that worries that I’m intruding on Franny when I can tell she’s having a bad day and I peck at her a little to talk to me and then she does. She always says she feels better but I always ask myself…should I just leave her to stew in her room until she gets over it? I don’t really feel like she tells me things she regrets and it’s usually manageable problems (that can be large to a teenager) like a tiff with her boyfriend, or someone at school said something mean, or a teacher lost their temper with herding cats.

So, weirdly, this revelation that her father’s decision to listen to her and ask if she was okay constituted “real parenting” made me feel like I’m on the right track with her. I know that sounds grossly self-congratulatory, but that’s what I took from it. Especially since I don’t really have any stake in their relationship or hope that he’s going to consistently meet her core needs. They have their own thing, but I guess he can still surprise her occasionally.

In Other News: Strudel is Eleven

Strudel asked for a modest list of presents and a bento-style dinner, like we used to have at teriyaki places. I made sushi, miso, teriyaki chicken, and tea.

If you’re familiar, that is a Dwight Shrute card of my own design. A couple of months ago I threw on a couple of episodes of first season Office while I was cooking and the girls got hooked. ESPECIALLY Strudel. I didn’t think it would appeal to a then-ten, now eleven-year-old, but she probably loves it the most. I’m enjoying the rewatch.

We present the traditional pineapple upside down cake, which has been a staple every year but the first year (that year was an apple strudel). It’s actually just as good gluten and dairy free.

I’ve got more pictures up at ye olde flickr.

Edith spent a long time walking around like this last night. It looked like a pacifier from straight on.

Also, the new birds are starting to lay! Green eggs again. Last year I bought a pullet, Gingersnap, that we were told was an easter egger, but turned out to definitely not be one! I think she might be some kind of maran. She’s got a black shiny tail and a red head, and lays dark brown eggs.

It’s been really rainy, so the eggs have been a bit muddy. Coop’s clean again as of this weekend though.

No I will not wear the cone of shame

This week we are focusing on things like multiplying binomials and solving inequalities in systems of equations. Have you flashed back to tenth grade yet? FOILing?? I woke up in the middle of the night last night a few times and I was kept awake by the idea that maybe I should be reviewing volume. WHAT IF THERE IS A VOLUME QUESTION? I think I was supposed to go through this 20+ years ago with the SATs but I never bothered paying for them. Too busy buying Boone’s Farm (sangria flavor, because that’s the classy one).


Post apple picking in August

I don’t think I felt this way ramping up to the GREs either. If you have seen the melodramatic, snot-silently-running-into-your-mouth fest that is Les Miz! then you know there is a super maudlin scene where a bunch of children in pirate shirts are all Morrisseying about how they need to pour one last one out for their homies, etc, before the next morning’s last stand, where they will be bayonetted into curly frites. That was my run-up to the math portion of the GRE in 2002; the freedom fighters were unprofessional and doomed, but had to make a good showing so historians wouldn’t call them little bitches later.


Stepping stones I made at the cement masons union way back in July

Now, I actually have a shot, because stuff is staying in my head now. I get what everyone meant about math building on itself. I have that crazy hoover-it-all-up cokehead feeling like the more I cram in the better because it’s only 30 questions! If I miss just one or two I actually know how to calculate that percent now! AGGH.

On the positive side of things I am getting a lot of rest right now. I think I had a successful in-person yesterday for a temp holiday gig, after a good phone interview with them. I have a better feeling about going back to tech now for a short time. Mostly because I feel like it’s going to be A SHORT TIME. And a paycheck to boot. They told me they want someone “yesterday” but I am hoping that means Tuesday (the day after my exam) so I can take full advantage of this time to obsess and lick my hot spots.


Dinner Doge would like more gravy plz

Of course I am focused on other things right now, also, like making sure the girls are transitioning back into school smoothly. Franny has an analytical writing class that’s based on the films of Hitchcock and Kurosowa. She is also taking bio and geometry, as well as her usual Japanese and art. She is about to turn 15 in less than two weeks and very shyly asked if Boyfriend, Neo, could come over for dinner and cake. Hell yes, as long as he takes the bus home later. It’s a Friday and what is happening is yoga pants.

Strudel is having a VERY good fifth grade year so far and is over the moon in her advanced program. She can now also hoover in and retain all the information now, like me, but better, because her brain is new and spongy. Her teacher is very organized and enthusiastic, and apparently has the whole class enraptured. We hear that her terrible teacher from the third grade, who told the dead bunny story and screamed at people most of the time, now has a classroom monitor. There is justice, albeit slow justice. I hope the angry emails I wrote from when I was sick in bed are stuck to her file like glue, along with the other parent complaints.

A turkey sleeping in my armpit who is much larger now:

Say Goodbye to Your Old Friends

WELL. Yesterday I went to my awesome dentist of a dozen years for the old semi-annual cleaning. I expected someone new because my hygienist of many years got promoted to more of a management position at the office and is now doing advanced dental work. She filled some of my teeth a few months ago. She was THE best and dealt with years of my sad bloody-as-a-stuck-pig mouth, which has since toughened up post-proper nutrition. She promised she would hand me off to someone who was a good fit.

So I showed up yesterday and my appointment started 20 minutes late, which is unusual for this office, but shit happens and I didn’t have anywhere to be. A hygienist emerged who kind of looked like Angela Merkel, but with worse highlight work, and said, “Alexander?” I get that all the time and kind of shrugged it off. Most people apologize once I correct them, but not this lady. “Well that can be a first name, though, right?”

She seemed kind of awkward and out of it at the same time. I had this funny feeling like she was really ill at ease and her sentences would start out kind of quiet and hesitant and increase in volume and certainty by the end, like she was at a terrifying interview and giving herself little pep talks every 10 seconds.

I mentioned my allergies, because I could see some of the products out on the table that I knew had corn in them, like the tooth polish. “Oh, I didn’t see that. I’ll make a note in your chart about those,” she said. I thought this was weird because I knew my old hygienist had taken extensive notes last time I was in.

I’ll skip past the rest of the weirdness, like her way of questioning me about what corn actually does not me (not a weird question–she just phrased it oddly like everything) and then her telling me all about how she went vegan five years ago and all about vegan cheese. I had to tell her like three times that yes, I have made cashew cheese. I felt like she didn’t believe me because she started quizzing me about the ingredients, which I knew and was able to tell her. And did I know about almond and coconut milk? What.

There was some folderol with the water pik thing, which is so painful it makes me twitch involuntarily.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Well, no. I forgot how painful that thing is. It’s not been used on me for at least five years, thank god.” I didn’t want to explain to her that I thought I’d try it, since my teeth are overall less sensitive now. STILL PAINFUL.

She switched to the old school metal picks, which is great with me. My previous lady did a great job with them, even when my mouth looked like the elevator in The Shining. Now I barely bleed. I noticed she was skipping around a bit, and being fairly perfunctory with some teeth when she stopped abruptly and I heard a “ting!”

The pick had hit the ground. She bent over, retrieved it. I did not hear it being placed on the tray or put aside. Did the floor pick…go back in my mouth? It couldn’t be. I felt myself tensing up a little. She was letting the sucky tube hang on the edge of my mouth, like it was a hanger and I was that dry cleaning flippy in the backseat of a car. I started really tensing up.

Okay, this is very pathetic but I got really anxious then. She was reminding me of the dentist who did my first filling when I was six, who had me hold my own Novocaine shot still inserted in my gums when he went out of the room to get something. I was very scared about the shot anyway, but to have to hold the needle in my head and be alone in the room was a bridge too far. I felt like I was right on the verge of being a little teary.

I told myself to GET A FUCKING GRIP; it was just a terrible cleaning. Then the sucky thing fell out of my mouth and landed on the floor. I listened for a sign that she was changing the plastic, or the straw itself…nothing. It went back into my mouth. Something flipped in my head then, weirdly. I began to find the situation humorous somehow. “Just get through this,” I told myself. I think she dropped a pick twice more. When she finished my teeth weren’t clean. I was a tiny bit heartbroken my old hygienist had seen fit to pair me with this person.

I asked myself in the car why I didn’t confront her right then and jump out of the chair. That was an extremely valid question to be asking. I think I still have this habit of shutting down sometimes when shit gets weird or off script. It’s a bad “habit,” and an old one. Shit got weird a lot when I was growing up, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to change or control it, so I always got pretty poker face. My sister had the opposite reaction. When she got pushed too far she would scream! I remember thinking to myself, “I did not know that was possible.” Part of me admired it, in a way, even though ideally she wouldn’t have had to repeatedly react to trauma with earshattering screams.

It’s funny how you can step on an old rake, isn’t it?

My dentist was also new, since I had to reschedule my appointment due to Lady Hammer Club. The dentist seemed very young and was wearing red Converse and sitting on a yoga ball. I felt about 90 then. Then he told me my teeth were “cute” and there was marveling over my intact, straight wisdom teeth. WHAT. (Again.)

At the front desk on the way out I was scheduling my next appointment with the office manager, whom I have known from that office for many years.

“Sooo is Angela Merkel new?” I asked.

“Why, what happened,” I got from the manager, deadly serious.

I told her about the dropped tools and she blanched and apologized. I told her my teeth didn’t feel clean. I told her that she was generally clumsy and kind of mashing my nose and face. I skipped the part about veganism because I wouldn’t say she was proselytizing or being mean really.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” I told the office manager. “I eat food off the floor. I’m an animal. But I like to choose what comes off the floor and into my mouth.”

I was given a free reclean for next week. Then something good happened. The office manager said, “Angela Merkel is covering for your new hygienist, who is visiting her family in Europe for a month.” She was just a sub! Whew. Anyway, that is enough about my trip to Spain, my childhood pain.

Lady Hammer Club Update

The apprentice wrangler at the carpenter’s shop was upset we’re spending time in shop class building birdhouses and not cement forms. Also we are not carrying enough plywood or driving enough nails. We’re being timed on 3 at various angles and I came in under a minute and was proud of myself. HA. Apparently the test at the carpenters’ is 21 nails in two minutes. NO FUCKING WAY. I do not want to be a carpenter. My sad hand got bruised just doing a total of 21 over the course of an afternoon.

We have also been to see the glaziers’ (glass splinters, horrifying) and have had mock interviews. I showed up after being in bed for two days with my coffee glutening, thinking I was rolling into a math class. NOPE. Schedule change. I sat in front of a panel consisting of a cement mason (who I already knew), a machine operator, and a brick mason, and got highest marks. I wore my Adblock hoodie zipped up all the way since I was also wearing a shirt with a swear on it, genius. I think I brushed my hair.

Then I got dinged for my absence. ARGH. “We want to see you at 90% attendance, or we won’t be able to give you letters of recommendation.” They also don’t release any of your certifications until and if you finish the program in September. They really have me by the short and curlies here, but the good news is I think they will be able to stuff me into an apprenticeship pretty quickly as long as I do the cha cha with them. Ironworkers is on Monday–very excited.


It’s pouring today and Goethe is hiding under the eave. Stretching, not being furce. Horace is medicated due to thunder today.

Let me take a page out of Pop Culture Happy Hour and say what is making me happy this week.

1. Todd

I’ve been buying 17-cent feeder goldfish to keep in my wee ceramic pond, which is a thing by itself I really enjoy, and waters my bees and wasps, but draws mosquito larvae. Drop some goldfish in there, and BOOM, no more larva in about half a day. The first batch croaked, and I went back for three more. Two of those croaked, and then Todd was The Fish Who Lived. I started feeding him, and the pond was looking like murky nitrogen city, so I brought him indoors to live in a pickle crock with the world’s ugliest mug that I got contracting at Amazon six years ago (we were near Kitchen). He can go back outside when the larvae come back.

I forgot how much I like keeping a goldfish! I used to keep one for Franny when she was going through an intense Elmo thing at two.

2. Vacation week

P. took the week off last week and I wanted to hang with him, but I was sick for part of it and in class. But he had a nice time, and finished the electrical and did some insulating in the basement. When I had days off we did things, like renting a canoe.


Look, he’s even happy trapped in some bitchass lilypads.

We went downtown to the piers and ordered NOTHING BUT HAPPY HOUR OYSTERS and some neat vodka (me) with a lime and scotch for him and did not get ill. I had a feeling about going to a place with a dedicated oyster bar and I was right! We haven’t been out to eat anything since May.

3. Camp

During that week, Strudel had a MARVELOUS time at Celiac camp and did not get ill once! They were so good. She made a bunch of friends and I got her a photo album to put her pictures in. One of the first things she said when we picked her up was, “CAN I GO AGAIN?” Hell yes. Next year we might even go out of town during, but stay close enough in case she breaks a leg or something.

How’s your summer??

I am the thumbmaster

This is a good one. I’ve been sleeping and in bed for most of the day after “poisoning” myself this weekend. I was in South Seattle this morning getting ready to cut aluminum cubes on a big machine–living the dream, eh? We were getting the safety talk and I was only half-listening, rudely, because after feeling better this morning on waking, I felt worse again. I was making a list of everything I’d eaten since Saturday, since that was when I started feeling funny. Homemade everything, scratch mayo and ketchup, scratch spice blends that hadn’t bothered me before…. I took another pull of my coffee, still trying to wake up at 10 a.m. after over nine hours of sleep.

I zoned in and the teacher was telling a story about being 19 and in a hurry to go water skiing and spitting his finger right down the middle. That got my attention again.

“And in a second, there went water skiing,” he said. I saw the shiny scar that bisected his fingernail and finger, 30 years later.

That was it for me. Fuck machine cutting, I was going water skiing right then. I pulled my case manager aside.

“I’m not feeling well,” I said. “I have really bad food allergies and I ate something contaminated this weekend. I don’t trust myself to operate heavy machinery right now.”

“Oh,” she said, making a serious face.

“I’ll try to be back tomorrow, but I’ll stay in touch.”

I walked over to my personal piece of heavy machinery, the Elco. P. used the Honda to take the kid to drop her off at camp this morning, so I was in my magic carpet of highway gas-guzzling. Not the best choice for my site visits, which were often many miles away and required stop-and-go highway traffic. I calculated if there was any way I could get P. to pick me up, since I felt kind of drunk, like I’d taken sleepy meds. I knew it would take him hours to get down to where I was by bus, a fortune to cab it, and a hassle besides.

I knew I could drive glutened, I’d been doing it for years. My only concern was that I thought I might vomit once I got back on I-5. I looked at the empty vessel that is my hard hat forlornly as my mouth watered in the bad way.

Anyway, it was a hard weekend. I had half a pot’s worth of coffee beans Saturday morning, and got some more at the store and then made another pot after I got home. I started feeling a little loopy by Saturday night, but chalked it up to waking up too early on Saturday morning. I woke up on Sunday, made coffee, checked in with the bees, ate, and was useless by noon. I kept napping and tried to play the Wii and didn’t have the patience for that. I barely broke 100 in Scrabble Sunday night.

I came to bed Sunday night, determined to get lots of rest for this morning. I was really dreading going on the site visit or even leaving the house. I found myself asking what the point of any of this was. Why was I being so negative? I wondered.

“I feel like I’ve been drugged,” I told P., getting under the sheet. “I reached for the cat food just now and I could barely lift my arm.”

“Hmm,” he said. “Maybe you’re getting sick.” I didn’t like that. No one around me was sick, it was summer, and I just don’t get colds anymore.

So I got back this morning after a loooong drive without a radio (scream-singing “Come a Little Bit Closer” by Jay and the Americans and “Corcovado” to stay alert), the garage door grinding and the big blue beast announcing my presence.

“What’s up?” P. asked. He’s home on vacation this week.

“I’m sick.”

We did our usual detective work. He’d been super tired all weekend too, but the kid was fine, and she mostly ate the same things we did. I thought it was something I’d put in a frittata, because I had that reheated for breakfast, while she dined on leftover meatza from last night. My mood and alertness started tanking again after I’d eaten breakfast and showed up at at the site.

We’d gotten a couple of new things, but I didn’t think it was the dried figs…finally, I realized I started feeling bad when we’d gotten home on Saturday and I made a pot with the new coffee. Bringo. I felt worse Sunday morning (and for the rest of the day) when I made a pot, and again this morning. Something gluteny was in it, I didn’t know what. It doesn’t matter.

It is weird to drink coffee and have it make you feel more tired! P. cycled some vinegar water through the pot, and cleaned the grinder. I don’t really know what to do now. I love coffee. I normally drink Stumptown but we got a Costco membership recently to save money, and they don’t carry regional boutiquey brands, only big bags of Kirkland brand Good Luck with This. The first bag I bought was fine, though I did have a tiny twinge of worry as I do whenever I try anything new, even if it’s “100% Your Mom,” because that is often not quite true. This second bag was not okay. Last weekend in Twin Peaks I drank Starbucks at the meetups and even hotel room Keurig bilge water and did fine. It’s like red wine–I just can’t tell by looking at it when it’s going to have corn additives.

The bummer part is that I was all jazzed to sit for a math test with a union tomorrow. I think that would be a terrible idea now, like showing up for the SATs drunk. Really self-sabotaging. So I’m going to give it a couple/few days and then decide when to go. My test will be when I can spin up 4-plus letter words in Scrabble again, I suppose.

I have been wondering if I should give up coffee, since I am afraid of anything that will interfere with the work I need to do for the next couple of months/years. Inside I am screaming because I don’t want to give up one more thing. I really love it. When it’s good, I’m at Gilmorian levels of abuse. But being wiped out for the next few days isn’t worth it. I hate the confusion, the tiredness, the blunted affect. I hate being even more nervous about one more food.

I mentioned my worries about my future with coffee out loud after we’d figured out what was fucking us up this weekend. I had given it up in the past and had done fine.

“I’M NOT QUITTING COFFEE,” P. informed me. He’s out of good vices, too.

“Okay, okay, no one’s asking you to,” I said.

The good news is that Strudel is booted off to Celiac camp for a week. One of the directors emailed and asked me what she eats, like what brands of things, since the kids will be eating chips, pizza, and cookies. SHARP intake of breath from Strudel at this revelation, since we don’t usually go that processed anymore. I was thinking “HA! HA! Brands! How droll.” I did give her a list of things that have worked in the past, but I said you could probably feed her chicken/rice/veg all week and she’d be fine, she was used to eating differently, and could I send extra food or a food fee because PLEASE TAKE MY KID I REALLY NEED HER TO HAVE A NORMAL CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE AGAIN.

P. and I were worried they were going to write back and say she couldn’t come. My novel-length thesis on “what can your child actually eat” was sent on to one of the chefs, who has Celiac disease, as does her daughter who was diagnosed at birth. She knew about that and things like food dye allergies, the difference between xanthan gum and guar gum, and corn allergy flipouts. She’s convinced she can feed Strudel safely. I actually wept when I read it.

I hope she’ll be okay. I think she’ll have a good time. As many wise people have remarked over time, it’s simple, but it’s not easy.

Five Weeks in Prison

I made no friends. But I did make some dope cash, which made up for Goethe’s Hulk-out face smashery and when the water heater popped this winter. Tomorrow’s my last day here. They wanted to kick my contract out to August, which is nice I suppose. But I have to get on with my life.

Plus my online math class is going to “expire” in June, so I need to finish that as well. I really need to do something (for money) that I give some fucks about at this point, now that my girls are so big, and not just collect a paycheck. I give many fucks about my 4 million hobbies, but they fall into the expense column.



Separated at birth???

Franny was gone this weekend being miserable at her dad’s house, sadly, and we went off and ran a local 5K run by a doughnut company. I have no pictures, because my sister and I got our timing off kilter and she actually wasn’t at the finish line. I thought she might have been ill or caught in traffic so we waited for a bit and then went back to the car to grab my phone…and there she was at the finish line wondering where we were. I was so fast I finished in record time! Just kidding, I was slow like a turtle.

I have yet to meet a database that won’t mongle my name. One of my diplomas came misspelled like this even. Ha.

Strudel took off like a shot at the beginning to find her friends and finished before we did, and was waiting for us at the finish line, alone.

“How’s it going,” I said, when I picked her face out of the crowd.

“Bad. I’ve been here for like 15 minutes and I can’t find Auntie Morgan,” she complained. We checked her time later and she finished only five minutes before we did. Each minute is multiplied by three when you’re ten I guess.

P. is asking me when we are going to run our next 5K, and I say, “I’m not sure.” There were things I liked about it and things I didn’t.

    Like:
  • Greenlake is REALLY flat, so there was a sense of ease
  • I got a cool shirt
    1. Did not like:
  • The 11-year-old who kept dashing ahead of us and then would stop to walk right in front of us
  • I did my duty and brought a cool story about a woman whose dog punched her in the stomach after anal sex and she shit herself, which effectively rendered him speechless and unable to think of anything to talk about, which made the first mile slow. I thought it would help to have conversational topics!
  • Strollers, and people who think four-year-olds will run a 5K. You can barely cajole those beasts into dressing themselves
  • Paying for something I can do in my own neighborhood for free felt dumb and the doughnuts smelled disgusting when we came around the last bend
  • I had a good time, though. And then Morgan and I caught up and she came to my house for brunch.

    The day before, we worked the bees and then P. took off to the local tool rental place and got a tiller.

    “You’re going to till up the backyard the day before we have this race?” I asked.

    “Yep,” he said. I watched him crank it up and his arms start shaking and I was like, “That guy is going to be sore tomorrow,” and he was!


    Taking a wee break.

    He got as close as he dared to the beehives. They did not care for a gas-powered tiller narming up the dirt around their house. So I get the little spit of land in front of their houses. I forgot to snap a finished picture, but I put in foxglove, bee balm, shasta daisy, alyssum, lupin, black-eyed susans, and something I’m probably forgetting. He put six tomato plants in the larger chunk of land. We pretty much used up the original garden, between the kiwis, medlar, fig, hives, and where the tomatoes were last year is full of a rotation of crimson clover (which is about to bloom, squee).

    I let the chickens out to scratch it all up, figuring it couldn’t hurt. They were really into actual grass so I had to lure them to the dirt using some flung pepitas.

    I am excited to get rid of my jank, broken decaying ye olde patio crap. I finally pulled the trigger on a new table that will hold guests and some chairs that were not free ten years ago and are now falling apart and have been spraypainted in a hail mary attempt to not make my backyard look like West Virginia (as P. says, who lived there). All the furniture came yesterday and Strudel and I were unpacking it as the afternoon rain started.

    I opened the table box and realized it was already open and the table’s corner was munged. It was packed very poorly.

    I have such a thrift store/vintage/freecycle mentality that sometimes it is hard for me to decide to buy something new, and I fret over purchases for weeks. So long that the first table I wanted sold out for the year, ha. I had a little tear to see this and I felt foolish for not just finding some old, pre-scratched, less-broken-than-the-previous-stuff crap somewhere.

    Of course since I had all the furniture and it was raining, I realized the cover hadn’t shipped yet. I put the cushions indoors and before an actual human who worked to pay for them could enjoy them, BEHOLD, A WILD NIGHTMERE APPEARS. BOOOOO. She colonizes eveything.

    And then there’s the shopping cart issue still, speaking of jank…I need to take this back to the store it came from a couple of neighborhoods over. I was going to turn it into a shopping cart made of succulents, but I have no idea where I’d put it.

    “Weh! Mom, I’m a baby!” Oh god no. That performance probably caused the final death knell of my ovaries.

    Hello to Sring*

    * The infamous “sring” cake in all its glory.

    Busy weekend, and busy past couple of weeks. I guess I should start with Easter. What happened? Not much. I decided to see what would happen if I followed the recommended advice and set aside eggs in the back of the fridge for a couple of weeks. I was very surprised I was coordinated enough to remember to do this! As expected, the air bubble was bigger and they were easier to peel. Whoopie. Cross another one off the bucket list, I suppose.

    Sometimes I like to show off my eggs because they turn out cool, but this year they were kind of a hash. I bought discounted egg dye kits a couple of years ago after the holiday (tie dye, marble, and glitter) and they were kind of lame! Next I think we will go back to feats with ordinary dye. These eggs were quickly ushered into an egg salad made with spicy chipotle mayo.

    Other than dyeing eggs with the girls, and making some nicer dinner since lamb’s on sale and it’s a Sunday, I am wildly inconsistent about Easter. I don’t do a lot of candy because I feel like I have to draw the line somewhere–Easter really isn’t our holiday. But it’s nice to say hello to spring. And baths! Have some bath loot, girls.

    I made Franny an Easter basket plate.

    And also Strudel.

    And then I roasted a lamb leg that I stuffed in part with minced preserved lemons I made in February. I got down to my last one-and-a-half and I sliced some more and added more salt to the jar while I watched part of Going Clear. I know Japanese pickles can be done in an “endless” way like this so we’ll see if the same is true of lemons. Between the acid in the salt I doubt I’m breeding new life forms in there. And it is FUN to dig around in a salty lemon-oily jar. It’s like beach mad scientist as a kid.

    I was a Bisy Backson yesterday in the sense that I did all those things you put off in the week, because enough is enough in one day sometimes. I took Strudel out for a refurbed taller bike, which she named Dr. Krieger.

    This will be her last bike before she gets a full-sized one, unless the frame explodes or something. Am I winding down on child ranching or what? There’s a lot of parenting left to do, but I cannot even pretend I have little kids anymore.

    I also finished a mini-project last weekend: tagging the trees.

    I used 18 tags, and only one of the trees came with the house (the Italian prune). We’ve been busy. To be fair, four tags went on the frankencherry alone.

    I wasn’t as helpful with the beehives this weekend as I would have liked. We decided to divide and conquer. I helped where I could (caulk, moral support) and P. just hit it really hard. It was forecasted to rain today (and has) so we tucked them onto the porch for now. Franny is on deck to paint when it clears up a little later this week.

    I ran out of caulk so I’ve not quite finished the roofs.

    Hello have you heard the good news about beehives

    This Saturday we’re going to pick up two packages of Italians and then bring them home and dump them into the boxes. I know people have done this thousands of times, but it still sounds bizarre. I will bring my camera so I can capture the site of a truck full of bees (I hope).

    Franny has been in fine form lately. She was in a great mood on Sunday and decided to dawdle some before cleaning out the chicken coop by giving the dogs rides. Poor Edith was tiny terrified until Horace joined her.

    Horace joins the fun.

    Bonus party trick.

    Her hair is full of Sucrets

    Okay so. Come closer. LEMMIE SHOW YOU SOMETHING.* I remember when I was a wee blogging lass and I would actually write my face off on Saturday night, and then wait to post it until Monday. I wanted you to believe I had a life when I was 24. I actually did not. I was home writing most nights while my preschooler snoozed, which is really nothing to be ashamed of. I had this idea that I should be Having My Twenties but I was kind of born 57 so it worked out really. Last night P. and I went out to one of them drinking theaters to see Cry-Baby when the children left, which was fun. I HAVE CHILDREN WHO TEMPORARILY AND SIMULTANEOUSLY LEAVE NOW.

    Tonight Franny went out to a potluck at her boyfriend’s house. P. gave her a talk that was funny but like the opposite of last weekend’s traumarama dad sex talk. “Aw that is so grownup that you’re going to a potluck,’ he said,” she told me in the car. We were on our way to upsize Strudel’s violin from a three-fourths to a full sized one and Franny was riding along. She thought it was very funny but I think she likes it. I sent her with flowers since her boyfriend’s mother insisted she did not need to bring a dish.

    So Strudel and I stayed here alone. “What’s for dinner?” she said.

    “PMS. I mean, cinnamon loaf.”

    We were responsible and had some proteiny leftovers while it was cooling. Then I iced it. Hur hur. The icing was too thick and the hole was too big.**

    “What is that pattern, Mother?”

    “Uh…just going for coverage, I guess.”

    “They’re chevrons,” Strudel declared, generously.

    As soon as I cut it, she noted that it was underbaked. We’ve been watching The Great British Bake Off like WHOA and suddenly she’s an expert in these matters.

    She pronounced her final verdict: “Paul Hollywood would say ‘two more minutes.”

    This is what I get from a ten-year-old.

    You might have noticed in the first loaf picture there was something in the corner…that something is…a shopping cart.

    After date night on Thursday night I got a ride home in this from the bus stop. It was amazing. I laughed until I cried, which has not happened in a while. And now I have a cart in my yard. What to do? Return it in the Elco tomorrow when I run to the hardware store for more beehive parts? Turn it into a mobile planter??

    On Friday morning Franny left the house and didn’t notice it until she came back after school. She promptly called P. and I, who had fled our jobs and were waiting for the bus. He answered and acted as if he had never heard of such a thing, and when we came home we had the fun of accusing her and her boyfriend of stealing it and leaving it there. I love an indignant Franny.

    So, currently, Strudel is in the tub. She went to her first ever sleepover last night. We were nervous but they have allergies at their house too and we were super serious and we emailed and I thought we were cool. But they xanthan gummed her and she got covered with hives that started on her right arm and spread to everywhere.

    I thought maybe taking the doges out for a walk and being distracted would help but she started to lose it and scratch and scratch. I understood–I am the person who could not shake poison ivy without steroids. I put her in the tub with, I shit you not, a coffee filter full of oatmeal rubber banded shut, some tea bags, some baking soda, Epsom salts, and apple cider vinegar, because fuck the inflammation police. She was eager to take a bath and I hear her splashing around in there.

    So that is my hot Saturday night. In other news, there were parcels yesterday. My new running shoes came and I bounced around the neighborhood and then walked around Greenlake. There is a woman at Greenlake who is bodychecking people on purpose. I am not kidding. She is actually walking around the lake running into people’s shoulders. She did it to my walking buddy and now I have seen her do it to others. I kind of want to STOP her. What would you do?

    * I, Asshole: The Motel 6 of the Lileks Experience
    ** That’s what she said