And in the words of that immortal God Samuel J. Snodgrass, as he was about to be lead to the guillotine; Or, I, Anonymoushole

BOOT CAMP. Argh! You know what, I have to go into instant aside here. Preface? I feel so FREE right now. I’m now part of a community where I am a tiny little cog and as long as I’m acting right and following the rules, no one gives a shit about me. I’m unvisible. I always felt somewhat self-conscious writing anything about tech world, because I was in that Venn sliver of “librarian” and “tech.” It’s a smallish community and those are people who know how to google stalk. When I started blogging, the internet was a little smaller and I was on the precipice of being a library science student. Now I am just one of many, and who even blogs anymore?

I had my introductory night where I signed what amounts to a ten-year contract. (We remove your Thetans or your MONEY BACK.) I dither a little bit in my guts about whether or not this is a good idea, but I am like, what else am I going to do for the next ten years that’s going to agree with me? A person’s gotta work, eh? I’m in the prime of my life, healthier than I have ever been EVER, I might as well pick up a trade that’s not quite recession-proof, but at least automation-proof. I have this close-up vision of learning and moving for a living, and a farther-off vision of being 50, buying an inn/B&B and doing the electrical myself.

So…boot camp. I like the apprentice wrangler. I like all the administrative people. They all seem reasonable and want to work with you to get you through. First Aid was interesting. I didn’t get the guy’s credentials but apparently he does a lot of union training in Washington. After 40 years in various facets of the medical field, he was really focused on common sense. He really denigrated CPR and how it’s taught in the US, but, if the save rate really is so low (less than two percent), I can see why. I got a little hinky sense that he didn’t like me, or was trying to ignore me, which whatever. It was interesting to me that after two days of shit talking CPR, I was the only one he yelled at when practicing on the dummy and the only one whose hands he moved.

I felt a little ripple go through the room the first night when I came in, and some heads turned and did double takes. There is the highest percentage of women in the trades in Washington, but it’s still low…something like 19 percent. Women interested in electrical are often pushed towards limited energy–low voltage network cable stuff. There’s not many inside wire(wo)men. But I’m not a unicorn either.

The good news is I already feel like I’m wallpaper. I keep my mouth shut most of the time. I have been cracking jokes when we’re clumped up together, not self-deprecating, just trying to be funny. One of my soft skills. The CPR baby was hideous, dirty, 30 years old, and missing a leg. “What do you think its name is?” someone asked. “Lucky,” I said. I helped a guy with tool ID just because I could and I knew it. I guess I already have a feeling that I need to prove myself, but I’m not going to wear myself out yet.

I can be dispatched starting Monday, once I have basic tool ID/usage and now First Aid under my belt. We are expected to continue attending boot camp in the evenings, even if we’re off to work. I got waived out of OSHA since I’ve had it recently. There’s about 20-25 guys on the list ahead of me at this point, so I imagine I’ll go out in February at the earliest. I’m going to get my apprentice tool kit soon, and I’ll take a picture of it–I just have to.

First night in the shop/lab tonight, dressed out with boots, bibs, etc.

In Other News: Cooking Thots with I, Asshole

Belonging to the Y is going really well. I am sore pretty much every day right now, but not to the point where I can’t move. When I used to exercise, my back would be toast by the end of the day. Now it’s like “I’m okay” and I sleep like a baby. I’m mixing it up between yoga, interval/circuit type training, and swimming.

I spaced on taking my vitamins for three days, that is all, and I woke up in the middle of the night with a numb hand and forearm.

My Muppet Brain: OH NO OH NO OH NO OH NO.

My Thinking Brain: BRAIN, shut up and think…vitamins! We forgot vitamins.

The next night I was fine!

One thing that happened that is a SUPER BUMMER in my tiny world is that I put a book on hold with the library called Paleo Takeout in October. I was VERY EXCITED when I read about this book because I miss Americanized Chinese food especially.

My hold number didn’t come up until right after I started the Whole30 again this month. Paleo Takeout is that kind of “fantasy Paleo” shit I was being salty about around Xmastime, and it makes the True Believers hate rate and get pedantic. HOWEVER, again it’s great for the allergic. But I am avoiding honey and rice this month, and there’s a lot of that in the book. And cheese, which turns me into a tiny Hindenburg. I just can’t bring myself to convert something like sweet and sour chicken to comply with Whole30. (Hint: it would just be SOUR. Ha.)

The book is due back before my month is up, so I will probably end up buying it. I can usually eyeball recipes now and can tell if they look legit. The girls have been flipping through it and are excited to have some PMS YUM YUMS (though I am not a monster like I used to be…go figure). I’ve been trying to make quickie subs like this one (made it shortly after xmas to serve with stir fry) but a lot of “easy paleo” honestly has too few ingredients, and the sauce just takes like its components. I like that there’s generally a lot of seasonings and ingredients in Paleo Takeout because I know there will be a more satisfying complexity there.

So, for all my smug health talk, I did fall off the wagon one night. I took Franny and boyfriend Neo to see Star Wars. We got corned, boy did we get corned. I used to wonder why I would get into such a bad mood after seeing a movie, even one I enjoyed. HA. I felt HORRIBLE when I got home, and was fighting passing out. Cried in bed, and as I may have mentioned recently, though maybe just on twitter, I hardly ever cry anymore! Air corn makes me cry, and I’m not alone. Eating corn makes me sad, achy, and grindingly angry.

Pete was like, “Are you going to sleep tonight?” I was like, eventually probably. He made chocolate chip pecan cranberry cookies, which I think was good for both me and Franny, and I had a couple of cocktails. The sugar stabilized my gloomy mood immediately. All of this has made me realize why I leaned so heavily on sugar in the past. Of course the best solution is avoiding corn, but it’s nice to know I can, in theory, go to a movie with a big sugar bandaid after.

Meringuey Christmas

A wild Frannie welcomes you in to CHRISTMAS 2015: THE CHRISTMASNING

CAN I JUST SAY I am well tired of xmas at this point? I’m glad that Strudel is still into it, and she gets super excited about it. We’re going to ride that wave for a while. Franny is getting a wee bit indifferent to it. I can smell my freedom. I want to go someplace warm and sunny but NOT make anyone wait on me who might like having a day off as well. I am thinking a condo near a beach and do the shopping early and then spend xmas on the beach.

One of the times when my mother ran away from home we had xmas in Florida, and my uncle grilled shark, and played one of Elvis’s holiday albums. That was really okay.

I admire people who like Xmas, I really do. Especially those of you who engineer it and cook it and execute it. If you do all that and still love it, I tip my Grinch fedora to you. But, it’s OVER. Let’s review the highlights.

Pete and I spent most of the 24th cleaning, and didn’t lean on the girls too much, since we were doing really deep cleaning. They did the bathrooms, yay. So on the day of, Franny volunteered to bathe the dogs, who weren’t really dirty, but were getting pretty aromatic.


Horace likes to bundle up in a blanket after his bath.


Edith does not have the patience for that shit, but appreciates the fire.

A fun thing about this xmas was candymaking. I started making candy when I was about nine–toffee, peanut brittle, and popcorn balls. I’ve left off it in the past couple of years, because we eat less sugar than we used to, and a lot of the classic recipes call for corn syrup or dairy. I did a little research and discovered that a reason to use corn syrup is because it will help prevent crystallization during cooking, but it’s not strictly necessary.

As I also mentioned I thought I would make the girls candy this year, since candy in stockings is one of our traditions. (Pretty typical, I’m sure.) When I was a kid I would get mini peanut butter cups in my stocking, and candy canes. I used to get the girls a big mix of stuff like fun Japanese candy from the 100 yen store and nice chocolate. In the past couple of years I had moved increasingly to “safer” candy like Surf Sweets. They are wonderful in that they’re made of cane sugar, but we found that we were reacting to the citric acid in them (probably that, but maybe something else, who knows). Citric acid is in everything.

I looked around with the purpose of finding candy recipes that I could make with real actual honey or cane sugar. I look at a lot of Paleo blogs since that lines up nicely with what I need for sauces, etc. As a sidebar, the trendlet of “healthy” Paleo desserts is fucking bullshit, but as long as I’m not trying to fool myself it’s fine. I guess my point being is that this sort of fantasy health bullshit is a nice aid to the allergic.

ANYWAY, what I settled on was gummy bears and peanut butter cups for stockings:

I told the girls that those two things was all I’d gotten to by the morning of xmas, but that I would be making candy all day and they could eat some as it came out. They munched on this candy as they opened presents, and I put some congee and coffee on immediately so we would have food sooner rather than later.

I decided on turrón, which I’d never had, but I know I love nougat. I couldn’t get marcona almonds that weren’t fried in mystery oil (“vegetable oil” is a no-go for us because it can easily be corn oil), so I went with plain ol’ roasted California almonds. I made homemade marshmallows, honeycomb, and my favorite thing that came out of this experiment, meringue mushrooms. I did not make the Yule log to go with it.

Meringue is my jam now! I’ve missed whipped cream sometimes and it’s a pretty substitute. I bought too many apples and so I made a simple apple cake from the Joy of Cooking last night that was tasty but didn’t turn out of the pan at all like it was supposed to. I put meringue topping on it, as the recipe called for, spiked it, and popped it back in the oven. Crimes concealed! I remember hating lemon meringue pie as a kid but now I love it!


Honeycomb

For dinner I made “sous vide” rack of lamb in my cooler, and Pete finished it on the grill, some squash, roasted potatoes, and a mint sauce that was more like chimichurri than the sweet jelly ones. It turned out.


Lil Squash sticker dog


Laura Floofs at Morgan’s boyfriend, who has committed the twin offenses of being in the backyard, and wearing red. He has no idea what kind of danger he’s in as he chats away on his phone. Does anyone want a perfectly nice heirloom turkey? I’m serious, hit me up. A special price of Free-ninty-nine for I, Asshole readers.

In Other News: Giving the Piss

Yesterday I went to a clinic to get a sports physical, which I’ve never had before, and an agility test. I was almost as nervous about the agility test as I was about the math test and interview. Using a combination of real actual muscles that remained after being lazy and tired in my office job this fall, plus adrenaline from really wanting this, I was able to pull of the qualifying deadlifts and such with no problem.

My tester was a woman physical therapist and I was alone in a warehouse, which I was kind of glad of. I’ll be messing up in front of others soon enough. She held her stopwatch while I did things like remove and replace screws from a metal plate, held a light fixture over my head while on a ladder, and carried 60 pounds of conduit up and down stairs.

“Can I come visit you and do this every day?” I asked. She laughed. I have to start doing it myself again!

Then I had to get a short physical.

“We’re going to test your urine again, but not for drugs this time. For things like sugar and blood,” the nurse told me.

Crap! I had come down early to beat traffic (turns out there wasn’t much, because holiday week) so I noodled around Walmart for a while and peed there. AS AN ASIDE, as I was wandering around I saw Pioneer Woman’s busted mug on a set of pots and pans. WHAT UNHOLY WALMART WAREZ IS THIS.

As an aside to this aside, I would license my name to:

  • ferret tutus
  • Victorian anti-masturbation shackles
  • toddler monocle
  • a special boot for stamping on mustard packets is that satisfying or what
  • Moving on. Then I peed again at the clinic and felt very ready to lift things without weeing myself. I was not prepared to give of the more pee. I drank 12 small cups of water at the fountain and sat with my book. I’m on a serial killer kick after seeing Zodiac recently with my sister and Franny, so currently I’m reading about Ted Bundy.

    “You ready?” the nurse asked as he cruised by the waiting area.

    “Almost,” I said. I wanted to be sure (and also finish my chapter–Ted was really ramping things up). “I don’t want to waste your time.”

    Finally I was ready to embrace the cup. I remembered what they said about blood so I told the nurse after I came out, “You mentioned you’re testing for blood, so I wonder if I should disclose that I’m menstruating.”

    “Disclose.” “Menstruating.” Am idiot.

    The other nurse there who had done my drug test on Monday chimed in. “Oh, are you complaining again?”

    “Yes!” I said, laughing. “Do you have a half hour or so?” She laughed.

    “Wait two minutes,” my nurse said, and I went back to the waiting area.

    “There was a little bit of blood, but I’m not concerned about it since you are having your monthly.” He brought a copy of the form out saying that I had passed everything very well and was fit for work, and handed it to me. Free to go and very sore today, urgh.

    I’m trying to jump into a yoga immersion next month like I used to do all the time, until my everything hurt so much I couldn’t even rest on my hands in downward dog without them tingling and being on fire and I dislocated my shoulder slightly.

    MAN I WAS A BROKEN-ASS MOTHERFUCKER THEN. The only pain I have now is “immediate” injuries, like knife cuts or grease burns (Chef Clumsy at your service) and muscle soreness. HOW DID I LIVE WITH CONSTANT PAIN FOR SO LONG? All scars are now psychic *BROODS*

    I also need to run and lift things. I have about a month to get into better shape during bootcamp, which I am taking full advantage of. Pete and I are also doing a Whole30 for January, which will really help as well. HAPPY NEW YEAR! See you soon.

    Like a cake shop without any cakes/Like a corn flakes box without any flakes

    Yesterday morning I was lying in bed, thinking about how my day was going to go. I knew I would call the union sometime in morning to find out what my rank was, or if I had made the list at all.

    I fail a lot, and like a normal human I dread failing at what I want. I don’t think I’ve really pushed myself to something I really want for a long time, so anticipation has mostly revolved around applying for jobs or contract work, which is like a tiny little crest I think about for a week and then is forgotten as soon as I get the next job. I admit I’ve been pretty dispassionate or dreading getting jobs throughout my tech career, so it’s felt more like, “I need a job but I’m probably not going to like it.”

    The last time I think I super major failed in a way that would cause or deny another big fork in the road was applying for admission to the PhD program in my graduate school. I really wanted to go on in graduate studies, first in art history, but then I veered off into the more “practical” librarianship. It did save me financially when the girls were little and I was always employed at something I was decent at. I wonder now if I would have felt more passionate or tried to seriously build a career if I hadn’t been ill–I started really going down the tubes during library school.

    So I was thinking about going through the two or three days of the PhD interview process and how I was feeling then. I wanted to be accepted, to be told I was good enough. If I had been accepted I would have gone. I remember being worried after the interviews and knowing in my gut that the time wasn’t right–I was in the middle of divorce and I didn’t know it would continue to drag on for a while, I had a four-year-old who needed me, and I was living on my own. I thought I should probably just take my master’s degree and run.

    I felt genuine relief when the program rejection letter came. Kind of embarrassed too, because then I had to tell my friends and colleagues and you. A professor I admired who was on the selection committee kindly told me that in a year where they were taking ten people, not six, they definitely would have selected me. I don’t know if that was true, but what is true is that I wasn’t ready then.

    I was thinking about that mixture of disappointment and relief 10+ years ago and how I would react if I got straight up rejected this time. What would I do? I wasn’t sure. There is the option of picking up electrical work on your own and reapplying later. If your score is low and you are ranked lower on the waiting list than you’d like, you can do this kind of sub-apprentice work or take some math classes, and reinterview within two years, without starting the process again. I steeled myself to make a plan B.

    I picked up my phone to see if I had an email. There was one from the union, with the title: Acceptance.

    ??!!

    It told me that I had to come in and fill out paperwork by January 6, and that I was to report to Boot Camp in mid-January. BOOT CAMP?

    I didn’t understand…what was my rank? At least I hadn’t been straight up rejected. I called the office to ask what my rank and score was.

    “No, you’ve been ACCEPTED,” the nice office lady said. “We sent you an email with next steps. Don’t come in on the days we’re closed for the holiday.”

    “I don’t have a rank…?”

    “We took 19 people right away and you’re one of them.”

    Oh….OH! THAT’S GOOD! No wait list! I thanked her and told her I’d see her soon. She was like “Ok whatever Nerf herder.” I’ve seen some of the questions the guys ask at the desk, so they are definitely used to dealing with dumbassery. I will fit right in.

    I’m going to boot camp next month, which I think is like a mini version of Ladies’ Hammer Club, but obviously focused on electricianing. OSHA training, tools, etc. Then I get deployed as soon as they can. I wonder if there will be any other women there. Seems unlikely, since there were only two besides me at my aptitude test in October, out of 100+ people. I think I’ll be drawing a paycheck by February if things go well.

    I’m greatly relieved because this is something I’ve been working towards for almost a year now, but I also have another feeling…Pete’s spent this past year encouraging me and telling me I could do this, which I wasn’t at all sure about. Ladies’ Hammer Club could be demoralizing, which I think was partly by design. I graduated and at times I wondered if I got enough out of it, or the right things. The mock interviews with real tradesmen were probably the most valuable, since I already know how to be on time and sober without whining. I know how to deal with assholes and to work hard. My obstacles are different.

    So I was very proud when I got to tell Pete that I got accepted, and not even waitlisted. It is a relief to live up to the expectations and vision that your partner has of you. I didn’t know that, and that is almost as valuable as having a fucking job you want.

    MVP

    I was going to post this if I got turned down, and I think I still will, because it’s wonderful, and I’m up for a lot more failure to come.

    In the meantime, come along while I learn how to be an electrician and how to be a person who is doing what they want to do. Man it’s great to be older.

    (That’s good, because it’s not like we can be younger, eh?)

    An asshole walks into a union building….

    There were two guys next to me shooting the shit while they waited for their number to come up for interviews. I could tell one was a nervous talker. I recognized him from the test in October, and I remember now speaking to him on the way out of the building. He was kind of a dick, but I didn’t take it personally. He still sounded like a dick. I watched the rain pissing down the windows and hoped neither of them would talk to me, since I was reviewing my answers. People were filing in and out in about 10 minutes.

    He was talking to a guy who was in PCC–pointer/caulker/cleaner. SHIT I AM SITTING NEXT TO A POINTER CAULKER CLEANER my brain went, unhelpfully. The jackassy guy said he was a working as a line cook.

    When the PCC dude got called in, the other guy turned to me.

    “You here for inside wireman?” he asked.

    “Yup.” I decided to head him off at any and all passes. “Did I see you here for the test in October? You look familiar.”

    “I was here, how did you score?” Oh, okay. This is what we’re doing.

    “I passed,” I said, and shrugged. My first instinct is to be super close-mouthed. I always hear my paranoid stepfather’s voice in my head at times like these: Don’t Tell Them Anything They Don’t Need to Know. I didn’t get a perfect score, but I scored respectably, well above the bar required for the position I want. “The person at the bottom of the class in law school can still be a lawyer, right?”

    “Cs still means degrees,” he bantered back. These kind of guys bring out the smarmy in me. I was quiet.

    Fortunately a sleepy-looking guy in scrubby clothes came in and slotted himself between us. He had just gotten off work. First a PCCer, now a graveyard shift worker! This was not looking good.

    Mr. Smarmy was called in. I chit chatted with the new guy and he told me he hadn’t made it through the algebra section of the testing, which surprised me. He was nice and I liked him immediately, and I told him about some other opportunities I was pursuing, like sheet metal. Now I am kicking myself for not asking him what he’s doing to see if I might want to get a foot in there.

    He told me he’d looked into ferry work, which tops out around 100K as captain, if you make it that far. I was looking into that a couple of months ago. We talked about how working nights makes you feel like you’re in a weird bubble and that dates have no meaning. I hope they take him.

    I’m not supposed to talk about the actual interview content, but I will say I think I was as prepared as I could be and didn’t really stumble over any of the questions. I sat before seven people, one of whom was a woman. I feel good about it but also argh at the same time. I get to call on Tuesday to see if I made the cut or if I need to make a backup plan. I am tired of backup plans, but I will march on.

    Banner Depressing; But I hate Fiddling with WordPress So Much

    My banner! So innocious. I have to think some kind of update happened. YUK PEOPLE. The font is even different. I’m playing with Squarespace a lot, poorly (podcast), but when I think of porting I, Asshole over there it terrifies me. I cant believe I used to handwrite html (also poorly) for my Diaryland diary. I so just want a place I can wordbarf now. NO CODE PLZ. NO FUCKING WIDGETS.

    I feel like everything’s on hold til after tomorrow anyway (interview). Pete said he would drive me if I am vomiting, since Strudel was supposedly vomiting yesterday.

    I feel for kids, I really do. On one hand they can never choose their days off. On the other, they get like HALF THE YEAR OFF. That choice thing is a big one, though.

    I’m out today to get a collared shirt that fits from Goodwill, I hope, the mall as a last resort. My lucky underwear (yes I get emotionally attached to my unders) is clean.

    Today I am also practicing interview questions. I am trying to remind myself this is really the sanity test, which I am super good at. I am also trying to remind myself that a trade is a training program and they are looking for aptitude and not all the experience in the world…though I am sure they wouldn’t balk at taking some working electricians. I had a realization recently that if I could just interview for a living for a while, I would, which is pretty sick probably.

    I just shit on Goethe’s parade a few minutes ago by making her drop a chickadee she was about to bring in and release, so she could murder it in a leisurely fashion in the house. She’s gone all Dexter since she lost a bunch of her teeth. They all look like this. The chickadee lay on the ground, twitching a little, but looked alert. I picked it up and held it in my hand. I tested out its little legs, and they hung limp. I thought it was just stunned since it was lifting its head a little.

    Laura came by with her bock bock gang and stuck her beak into my business as always. She usually looks like this, with her tail flat. She saw the minuscule bird in my hand and made a fluffy display at it until she looked like a disgruntled hand turkey. I think turkeys are fascinating (problem number two after wanting to be interviewed for a living), are obviously smarter (except when faced with a harmless chickadee), and I am tempted to let my chook flock dwindle down and replace them with all turkeys!

    Sometimes Laura gets on the fence, greatly concerning the neighbors (“Oh my god, is that…a TURKEY?”) and I push her down to back inside the pen. She saw me coming the other day and got down on her own! A chicken who is awake is pretty much on the verge of stomping on the chooky panic button all the time and it would be a coin toss what they would do if one saw you coming. Fly up? Scream? Go left? Go right? AHHH PANIC! Sometimes I have to grab a chicken that’s gotten out or hasn’t gone to bed properly and Laura puffs up at that, too. Very protective of her brooderbox chums.

    So the chickadee kept breathing and looking around. I was feeling more confident it was about to take off when Goethe, foiled, trotted by. The chickadee saw her and exploded out of my hand. I am starting to suspect I am releasing the same bird over and over again.

    I have been lazy about photographing the basement because changes are slow and incremental right now. It is hard for Pete to work 40 hours and fill in the last of the insulation and drywall, but it’s coming along. I was thinking about how I lived in a house flip/remodel in Crown Hill for three years and how I joked about it “ending my marriage” over ten years ago. I vowed to NEVER AGAIN live in the perma-remodel.

    Well, guess what. It is a lot easier when you like the person you’re living in it with, and it’s slow but eating up a smaller portion (or none) of your living space. I think we were smart to have the basement bathroom done, since that was plumbing, tile, etc, and it was tight sharing one full-sized but smallish bathroom with the girls and all of their stuff and all of our stuff. Waiting for this bedroom isn’t nearly as bad, because we are still in what will be the smallest bedroom/office space, but at least we have a closing door.

    So Pete is finishing the drywall and I am committed to doing the mudding, priming, and painting. Originally he said he would finish it all when I was sicker, but as I’ve gotten better I’ve been jumping in more. He’s less comfortable than I am with the finishing work, so it makes sense to tag out, since I will be home, I hope waiting for a call about my first union job in the next few weeks!

    Flying the Coop

    “You’re on Earth. There’s no cure for that.” –Samuel Beckett

    I thiiiink I might be getting sick? Maybe? I haven’t been sick in over a year. I have these run-ins with sore throats or swollen glands (attractive) for maybe half a day and then I sleep it off. I woke up with a sore throat and a headache but it seems to be subsiding.

    I was lying in bed kind of babying my headache when Strudel returned from school a few minutes after setting out.

    “What happened?” I asked.

    “Olive’s over on the next block.” One of our pullets had jailbroken and was wandering around after being let out of the coop this morning. I threw on pants and my coat and we went out together.

    I looked up and down the street, figuring she’d be close to home, possibly trying to get back in. We acquired Roger Sterling because some little pullets had gotten lost in the neighborhood and she had probably been attracted to the sounds of my chickens, and was running up and down outside of the fence. The nice thing about chickens is even if they run off, they usually go “OH SHIT” and want back in immediately.

    We looked around the back of the fence where the neighbor’s disused carport butts up against our property. The carport was brown, the fence was brown, there were brown pine needles everywhere. Olive is a classic easter egger and is brown, brown, brown. Strudel and her sharp eyes spotted Olive perched in the shadows of the carport, motionless.

    We cornered her, and this is where I am relieved I bothered hand-raising chickens this summer. We were able to pick her up very easily, unlike more recent pullets that we’ve gotten half-grown from the feed store. I was too tired to hand raise chickens since I got the batch that had all the Todds in it in…2011? This was my first batch of day-old since we bought this house, for sure.

    I really do feel nigh-indestructible now. I remember when the sore throat twinge was a little heads up that I was going down, and might be a snot factory for two weeks. This is better. I have to imagine my white blood cells are armed to the teeth at all times. (Because that is how science works.)

    Sitting around, sort of, waiting to hear about a job. I am doing things like editing DNS entries to get the little podcast home set up, and I’ve taken the dogs on a long walk. I dunked their feet in the kitchen sink when I came home, which made Horace panic. I thought it would be simpler and use less water than the tub, but I forget that Horace hates any and all change, so he flicked dirty water everywhere.

    Anyway, I am maybe feeling cheerier than I was on Thanksgiving. I keep reminding myself that I’m working towards being happier, not just what pays the most in the short run. Though I may be submitting myself back to a technical contract sometime this week if this job doesn’t pan out.

    Assholes what do they know do they know anything let’s find out

    “And so I rose in good temper, finding a good chimneypiece made in my upper dining-room chamber, and the diningroom wainscoat in a good forwardness, at which I am glad, and then to the office, where by T. Hater I found all things to my mind, and so we sat at the office till noon, and then at home to dinner with my wife.”

    SAMUEL, you don’t even know! This is pretty much my exact day here. Okay, there was no new chimneypiece, but we did talk about having our first fire this weekend. And I painted the wainscot a long time ago. BUT I am out of here at 12:45 as they’ve been working me 9-10 hour days and I’m running out of time on my clock. I will be home to dinner with my wife, who made me garlicky eggs for breakfast.

    News news news! I got an email yesterday letting me know I passed the electrician test and was actually above the bar needed for the branch I want to go in. Based on my test scores alone, I can choose any route. The scoring is weird, so roughly speaking, I got a ‘B.’ What a great feeling! Hard work has paid off, but I believe it would simply not be possible for me a year ago to study and retain math on and off for months. I am supposed to hear if I get an interview in 2-3 weeks. I wonder what happened with the woman sitting next to me who was visibly squirming and groaning through the whole thing.

    What a long process. I left my FTE position of 3+ years on Halloween 2014, and I’ve been working toward this change since then. It’s been discouraging and tiring at times, but I think I’m most of the way through this marathon. I am so excited to have a math class once a week, and to be walking around working and moving on the other days.

    I’m dicking around with my new camera that was a graduation present this summer. I wanted to embed some pics but my photo service is acting up. I will have to be content with linking to my flickr for now. I’m not great at this camera yet! Blurry shots! I don’t really give a shit with my little point and shoot, but I want to take better pictures with this one.

    Otherwise I am just kind of living! It’s nice not be be gripped by paranoia or despair or just pain at random times. When you don’t have to manage pain constantly, it’s freaky how much space you have for other things. Everything feels consistent and often very boring. I feel like it took me about a year for my body to really open up and have some kind of foundation for hard work or going for a longish run. I struggled to exercise for years–my lungs always felt too small and my back/joints always hurt somewhere. Now I just glide along and if I go slow enough I feel like I could run forever.

    This, of course, adds to my confidence in being able to do more, like a major career change on the doorstep of 40. Ha! Samuel Pepys always inspires me. I need to push on a little farther in my progress, meaning secure an apprenticeship, but then I am thinking about getting back to writing. For my own pleasure, as usual.

    I thank God I have no crosses, but only much business to trouble my mind with. In all other things as happy a man as any in the world, for the whole world seems to smile upon me, and if my house were done that I could diligently follow my business, I would not doubt to do God, and the King, and myself good service. And all I do impute almost wholly to my late temperance, since my making of my vowes against wine and plays, which keeps me most happily and contentfully to my business; which God continue!

    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

    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:

    Hello Medlar

    Funny day–I’m supposed to be at work right now, but I’m not in the system yet. The woman at badging said she saw all my other previous logins, but of course she could not reactivate those. This is my fifth go-round at this company, which I kind of cannot believe. I was sent home without being able to bill for any time. It took a while for my contact to collect me from the lobby where I waited, badgeless, and I had a moment where I wondered if there had been some big misunderstanding and I thought I had a job, but I actually didn’t?


    Horace abed Saturday

    I know this is a crazy thing to think, but I had those kind of nightmares all night where I was fighting with friends for no apparent reason, embarrassing myself with foot-in-mouth disease, and was many places I shouldn’t have been. P. had nightmares all night too–said he was stressed out by the time change.

    I kind of hate waiting in the lobbies of these buildings because pretty much the only people who use them are people waiting to be interviewed, so there’s this thick tension-funk in the air and everyone is sitting up too straight. Then someone comes into the lobby, scanning the hopeful faces and calling out a name. Everyone slumps a little when it is not them. You will not be adopted today, eager puppy. The person who is plucked out of the riff raff immediately goes into showtime mode; they are on and will be for the next 4-5 hours in their bid to become an FTE. “I’M SUPER, HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY? TRAFFIC WAS FINE!!!” I do like criticizing sartorial choices and seeing who is rude to the front desk admins, though.


    Normal dog for comparison

    So I woke up after sleeping fitfully, discovered my period had started, and then was sent home. I have a slow cooker on the counter making ropa vieja right now, which is kind of awesome. I didn’t want to cancel Monday night dinner with my sister even though it’s my first day back, so I decided to make it easy.

    Did I build a beehive this weekend? No I did not. I forgot to have the plans printed out. Ha! I ended up walking about 3 hours around and near Greenlake, and did some gardening. I took the dogs to the local nursery and bought some decorative plant things. I am the houseplant/flower person around here, and P. usually does more practical things like mows and grows food. My department is aesthetics.

    I have killed some more house plants (sigh) and wanted to replace them. My next victim is club moss, which is supposed to be fairly hearty. I predict it will have a nice summer and then commit suicide in February or so. Who could blame it? This house can feel dark. P. reassures me that a thing on his list after the bedroom creation/remodel is those little tube skylights.

    It was a nice mound when I bought it, but I split it up after being instructed to by the nice lady in the houseplant section. She said some stress to the roots will make it denser and mound better and faster than waiting for it to spread and fill the pot on its own.

    It looks a little better from farther away, but I never mind some wabi-sabi. I also got something I had researched called a ZZ plant, which apparently tolerates low light well, and then I couldn’t bring myself to sentence it to my bathroom after the lady said it would “get leggy.” It’s so nice looking as it is. I love soaking down there, but I don’t think I would want to live in that room with the lights off. I got a pothos that I will have no such compunctions about. They are the pigeons of the houseplants world.

    I got a flat of alyssum relatives/lookalikes from the clearance rack. I always like to plant sweet little flowers like this beneath roses. I bought one of those flower mixes that you sprinkle everywhere. I planted some giant sunflowers as well. I bought a couple of odd pansies and a ranunculus to spruce up my pots that were all scented geraniums last year. I am still way into scented geraniums but I need some variety this time out. I cut back the roses in the front that were a disaster when we bought the place. We are chipping away at the benign neglect that has been inflicted on this yard. It was nice to wander around and see the changes. The quince is leafing out and the leaves are so velvety, just like the fruit. Maybe this will be the year we get a couple of blooms. We walked around and looked at everything–the cherries, hazelnuts, and kiwis are budding, and someday we will be able to gorge ourselves out of the yard.

    I had the yard all to myself yesterday and was puttering to my heart’s content, which is rare, because usually P. is out doing something on a nice weekend. He has been tiring himself out framing on the evenings and weekends, so he decided to give himself the day off yesterday now that the framing is done.

    He’s been going slooooowly but it’s not laziness at all. When we got back from HI last year, the bathroom was being wrapped up for another month, and then I was ill all summer. He’s really only been hitting it hard recently, now that I am predictable and reliable again.

    It was exciting to see the walk-in closet framed out. When the drywall’s up, I’m going to start looking for a chevron rug and a small Venus de Milo statue. I may have mentioned that I am turning my closet into The Black Lodge.

    I’d like to get paid today and rip off the first day Bandaid, but I also feel like I’ve been given some kind of temporary reprieve. Maybe this makes up for the time change on Sunday? As soon as I got to work I saw an email that said my medlar tree was being delivered today, from a nursery that is located on a Butts Road (enjoyable) so I will be here to greet the tree, I suppose.