Further adventures in getting my shit together

1.

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


our lackluster decorating this year

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

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

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

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

2.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


me unmedicated

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

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.

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.

Beestung lips sounds so attractive until you think about it

On Thursday night we were poised to see the last episode of The Office. I threw on some first season episodes around Xmastime when I was cooking and the girls got sucked in. Five months later, we watched all nine seasons. I was very disloyal when it was airing and would dip in and out, only to binge watch a season at a time. I think it was a lot more enjoyable pacing ourselves like this and getting all the way through.

So I popped out into the yard after dinner to water the garden, which is growing well after the little cold period we had recently. We have some volunteer cilantro and tomatoes in my lettuce bed, which I will roll with. I have to take pictures soon. It is awesome. Anyway, I watered and came in and the girls were watching something short and I put my hand on my hip…and…BZZT! Stung in the middle finger.

I brought in a hitchhiker. I scraped out the venom sac right away. Friday was kind of miserable at work, with my hand steadily swelling and the site around the sting turning purple. I thought that would be the end of it, but my hand got enormous. It looked like the hand of an obese toddler by Saturday, throbbed, and hurt all the way down to the tendons.

Normally I have knuckle dents and visible veins and whatnot, especially now that I’m not kind of swollen all the time like I was when I was sick. There were some bony-ass fingers hidden under my bloatpaws and I love them. They look like the hands of a 38-year-old, instead of a pile of dough.

This afternoon I was marinating some chicken thighs to grill later when I saw it: a black dot in the middle of the angry, red sting site, raised past the rest of the raised skin. I knew I would have to operate. I scraped the skin off and there was hardly any blood, to my surprise, and then I found the stinger! No bigger than a hair, of course, but causing a lot of trouble. Damn.

Isn’t it amazing that most of the time when you get something foreign in your body, your skin either eats it or serves it back up to you like some kind of gross offering? Feels better already.

“I see you’ve managed to get your shirt off”

You know those Victorian corsets with all the boning, but not in the good way, that would squish women and girls to the nth degree? Where does the fat go? I will tell you, but you probably already know. It displaces.

So like the poor lady’s maid assigned to tighten said corset, I’m struggling a little right now after going back indoors. I felt really good this summer, strong and like I was getting stronger every week, literally. Like it was easy for me to build muscle and my lungs were huge. The first three weeks I started I thought I was getting sick by every Friday. Sore throat, fatigue, aches, lymph nodes rising on the back of my head and neck. Fuzzy brain and memory leaks. I’d be a dead ducky on Saturday and then on Sunday I’d be refreshed again and would cram ten hours worth of chores and errands into about six.


Cod pie

I think…I figured it out. The minute I walk in to my building I’m hit with fragrance and my face starts to dump. I sneeze and scratch my face all day. People are covered in corn-based deodorants, lotions, perfumes, aftershaves, laundry detergents. I think being around adhesives, industrial lubricants, dirt, and welding fumes actually agrees with me more. I’m going to die of something. It’s probably going to be my colon shredding and bleeding out like other members of my family have gone, but I think I want to feel good and spin the wheel with construction in the meantime.

I have to tell you though, it’s shaking my confidence. Corn makes me so weak. How can I go back onto a jobsite and lift buckets and rebar and do math and whatnot? I’m trying to remember that I’m going to be really sore at first but I’m probably going to feel great and be able to think super clearly in about a week. I’m still hanging out waiting to hear if I have interviews with anyone. In the meantime I have the best temp job I can get in terms of hours and pay. I’ve found some temp warehouse work which pays similarly, and is calling to me, but it cuts off a bit sooner and it looks like there’s some graveyard shifts. I’m weighing the advantages.


“I’m her mother.”

Desk jobs are comfortable in that you’re warm and dry but I don’t feel comfortable being forgetful by the end of the week, feeling my anxiety rise for no reason, and having physical symptoms. I’m having trouble explaining to some people why I want to leave these types of offices forever. I guess I don’t have to explain it to anyone.


“No she isn’t.” PS I Derp You

There is an interesting side effect when I get ill again, but not too ill to function. The corset squeezes and the fat displaces and it makes my wheels spin creatively. I read that the flu virus can make you more gregarious. I think my brain gets kind of frantic when my immune system goes off–“we’re dying here, make something!”

I’ve been kicking around doing something fictionalized with Samuel Pepys diary for almost five years now–kind of a story that takes place in that world. I thought it might lend itself to a podcast, sort of a “17th century mecha dystopian London meets Night Vale” thing (what’s that you say? Kevin Costner’s Waterworld?). But I realized I don’t want to work alone right now, so I wrangled a cohost to podcast with. And it will have NOTHING to do with Samuel Pepys, don’t worry. I’ve got a domain locked down and recording equipment on the way.

I’m excited. I need a carrot. I need to continue perusing my ridiculous hobbies. I will link when the first one drops, which I’m hoping will be around Thanksgiving, and put it in the sidebar, etc, but as usual I won’t really push it and see if it finds an audience. If nothing else it will be fun times with my cohost and a chance to dick around with Squarespace, which I’ve been wanting to do since my site’s design is STALE as hell.

Halloween!


A nerd with cheap custom fangs.

Me: We’re going to be seeing a lot of these fangs, aren’t we?

Franny: YEP GET READY FOR FANGS IN CHRISTMAS PHOTOS NOW, MOTHER.

Franny is switched on permanent Owen Meany capslock right now.

P. birthday cuppycakes: Orange cream with pecans.

“Bonus” Franny birthday. I forgot about this batch because I probably shouldn’t be driving two cameras at once.

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

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??

Intoxicating

Strudel fell into a hole on my street last week and sprained her ankle. Fortunately it was a very light sprain. I sprained my ankle a couple of years ago and Strudel theorizes it was the same hole. I don’t believe it–my street (and most Seattle streets) has lots of holes! Lucky for her, it was a very light sprain. It poofed up very dramatically on the first day, turned an alarming shade of yellow quickly, and then she was walking on it with no pain by day three. Lucky kid. A couple of years ago I don’t think she’d have healed up quite so quickly.

I don’t feel any of my old aches and pains anymore, which frees me up to make new ones. I am just at the beginning of the 100 Push Ups challenge. It used to hurt to do push ups, but I did them anyway, sometimes. My back, my elbows, my shoulders. Now I only stop when my muscles do. Franny and I watched American Psycho late last night and it was okay. I thought she would like it because she enjoys horror and “mindfuck” movies. What I really enjoyed was Patrick Bateman and his “I can do 1000 sit ups now.” I used to think bodies like his were genetic outliers or Hollywood magic. Now, I think I can get about as fit as time and my motivation will allow.

I used to have a very vivid “life of the mind” to the extent I was able, and even that was fading at the end, as my thought processes became increasingly clouded. I think I’m still mourning my old, more destructive, and just plain different former self. Anyone who has been reading me or knows me knows that I am a doer, and if I see a door I want to do through it. I see a lot of different doors now, and I am not hobbled by confusion or anxiety most of the time anymore. Discovering that I can do math this year (not fantastically, but well enough) and that my body will actually get fitter and do what I want–it’s pretty empowering.

I am left with so many questions. I believe people can change, or at least change their own lives. But now I wonder, who am I? Who was I for 30+ years? Was that really me? Am I a fake me now? How much do I sound like a stoned 15-year-old in someone’s basement, listening to Black Sabbath. (A: A lot.)

There’s a lot of before and after in life. I can think of before children, and after. Before divorce, and after. Hell, even before and after dogs was another big one. I am trying to accept this as another before and after, but it is taking time.

So. Up betimes and alone. P. is out of town (Portland). I wish I could have enjoyed the bed a bit more, but the dogs just smash up against me regardless, so by the time I wake up, I am on my customary 1/4 of the bed.

I watered the yard this morning and everything was looking very pretty.

We used to live a block from the rose garden, and when they switched over to not spraying, we watched our favorite roses very carefully to see which ones would continue to thrive without pesticides. Hot cocoa (above) seems to be one of the winners in our yard, as it was in the rose garden. “Silver” roses are my favorite but I am told they are very tricky here. I tried to plant ones that are made for the PNW.

Everything in the yard is absolutely going gangbusters this year. A hot summer is predicted. I am happy either way, as long as it’s dry. In 2009 my router melted. In 2006 I remember it was a glorious year for tomatoes. These things seem to cycle every few years.

I’m really enjoying doing this lately:

I’m not sure I’ll go back to fillets now. I was always daunted by the cost of a whole fish, and the…wholeness. Now I just walk in and ask them to scale and fin it, take it home, and stuff it with aromatics. This salmon was $40.00 (4 lbs.). We get about 4 dinners out of a fish like this. So it ends up being about $2.50 per serving. That’ll work. I figure if I can make giant roasts and always work with whole birds, then this is doable too. The fennel is from my garden! Since I’m not working right now, I am challenging myself to use every bit of everything. I mentioned I made gravlax recently and I dehydrated the skins and saved them for the dogs as treats. No wonder they like to sleep smashed up next to me.

The bees in the purple hive were also up beetimes. They are lean, mean buzzy machines over there now. It’s impressive. Franny helped me work the bees yesterday and it was really fun. She did great. She did say she was worried about getting stung, of course, but neither of us did. The comb hole that P. and I left last week was almost completely closed up. I’m not worried about them right now because I see a great variety of babies, pollen, and nectar, including some capped honey. You can hear the chickens singing along in the background.

I trimmed the roses out front around tax day, as some people say you should. It’s the first time I’ve touched them since I moved in. There was a lot of cross-caning and dead wood. This year they are looking great and are very pretty next to the raspberries. Year three here is when everything is taking off, plant and manimal.

Beetonic butts/black and yellow butts

WHEW. This is going to be picture-heavy. I will try to go easy on the commentary for this one because I know you gots other things to do with your day.

I’ve been dragging my feets on posting in part because the weather is SO DAMN NICE now, following the trend of this winter. Also because my laptop is a problem child and makes using the internet painful. (Hence me blogging at work *cough*.) I finally pinned it to the wifi adaptor. It randomly drops the wifi signal. I tried updating it, but the manufacturer doesn’t even have a page, and the random site that was hosting updates seems to be corrupted…anyway this thing works great if I am right next to the router. BRB the kitchen is my new home.

ALSO we had a little “staycation” for the first week of May, which was nothing too dramatic. Our only plan was to go see art at the Frye and we walked in and nothing was on display! We wandered around Capitol Hill instead. I like to joke that we are vampires now because we used to go out to eat but now we go into a restaurant and order whatever drink won’t make me ill (water/gin) and then watch the humans stuffing their gobs with any damn thing. SO INNOCENT. I USED TO BE YOU.


In other, less whiny news

irrEGGular

Drone ring

I’ve been monkeying around with bread lately. I like these little “Paleo” biscuits, but not all the time. There is something about them that is very squishy white-bready, which is not really something I’ve enjoyed much for the past few years. They make pretty good biscuit subs, as in “biscuits-n-gravy.”

Ninety seconds of nuking later…

They creep up the side of the mugs. As far as “starchy” things go, it could be a lot worse. We’re still on the mostly veggies plan.

HOWEVER. I do like injera at home now. I let the batter sit for two days and get really sour. They are trickier to cook than pancakes or socca, but I am getting the hang of it.

Speaking of gluten free, Mother’s Day was nice. We got the yard pretty much spiffed up in time. Lights hung, more flowers planted…

P. spent a couple of weeks fretting about my request for petit fours. He found a cake recipe that was acceptable to everyone and spent some time testing things. It’s REALLY good. Many of my MD pics turned out blurry, so, ugh. Sorry about that.



In the end, there was CAKE!

He made enough for an army and and I basically had four pieces over two days. I sent some home with my sister, who was happy about that I think.


Evidence of happiness


“I’m a pupa” GET OUT OF MY HAMMOCK WITH THAT

Playing Citadels

“You eat borscht and get strong like ox, pull cart to village.”

Morning

Evening

In other, other news

Franny and I are both having nightmares about our respective problem parents right now. I feel bad for her because I basically married my mother, so this is 100% my fault. “Here, kid, have the same parenting experience I did.” GOLD STAR FOR ME.

In my dream I was having extreme angst over the direction in which I am trying to take my life, and my mother was there. “Why can’t you just help me?” I pleaded with her. “Help me break into your field.” I don’t want to be in her field, but in my dream I think I was looking for a quick fix.

“I can’t do that. I’ve never done that,” she replied, scoffing. I teared up had a moment of being deeply ashamed of asking for help from her when I knew what the outcome would be, and felt rejected like I used to when I would ask for things as a child. I felt myself steel-up like I used to when I had to rely on just myself.

“I can do this,” I thought in the dream. God, that’s a heavy one, isn’t it!

I’ve had some serious and not-so-serious talks with my sister lately about the past. I don’t think I could really accept until pretty recently that she was kind of in the same boat I was in–which is to say looking for a mother outside of our biological mother. When I was much younger it was super complicated. I almost felt jealous of her, since our mother was present from the time of her birth without any major gaps unlike my upbringing. However, I also felt really guilty for moving away and “abandoning” my sister when I became an adult. I’m grateful that my mother (inevitably) hosed up her third marriage and moved to my city with my sister. That was when I was able to take care of some needs that I didn’t really understand that my sister had. Regardless of the different phases of our mother that we got, the outcome was about the same. I inadvertently (and often very poorly) filled in a lot of the parenting and it was still a much more satisfying situation for my sister. Loooongtime readers may recall my sister was at my house when she was in high school A LOT. She practically lived with me at one point. I have apologized to my sister for so many times for some of the dumb things I did, but have made peace with the fact that I was in my early twenties and did not really understand how much she was relying on me! I don’t think any of us knew what was happening.

Can we say HERO/CARETAKER ROLE? Gee, I wonder why I have 284 animals. HA HA. Quick, someone pour me a glass of something before I become completely sapient.

This is dark, but sometimes I think it would have been better for everyone in the past if my mother had aborted me, like she told me she wanted to. It was always clear to me that I was unwanted and a burden as a child. But I’m glad in my adulthood that people have me, like my sister, since I know what it feels like to lose the people you bond with as your parents. I’m glad my girls have me. And childhood is relatively short, and then you go on and make your own life. I’m the buffer (ordering business cards with that title now). We may not be walking down the correct path, always, but it will be a new one, by god. Mother’s Day made me have some deep thoughts, I guess.

The medlar has decided to make exactly one bloom on the top of itself, like the tree that thought it was a primrose, I suppose.

Finally framed it! This is my next one, this coming fall.