Narcolepsian Candidate, Asshole Digest v. 1

A For Effort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relevant Experience

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

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

Time to make the fuckin doughnuts

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

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

D for Effort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digging up blueberries and razzleberries

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

Long shot of how order segues inelegantly into chaos

Raspberry bare rooted

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

The raspberries in the former chicken pen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruminant butts/black and white butts

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

I spy a lady moose butt

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

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

Surgery gore natch


I had surgery last Tuesday. The surgeon tunneled into my wrist and cut a tendon.

I am told this is the “good” kind of carpal tunnel surgery since they don’t open you up as wide. All I know is that I walked out of the there and as the preservative-free (corn free) Lidocaine wore off, I could feel my middle finger again. Not so much with my pointer and thumb yet, but I’m told sensation might come back. My tongue didn’t go numb at any point so I knew they weren’t poisoning me.

They did something called a Bier block, which involved wringing some blood out of my arm and then applying a tourniquet. They warned me that would be worse than the surgery, and it was. It’s strange, having your whole arm dead. Mentally I understood it was resting on a little surgery meat display case thing, but it felt like it was higher up on some weird stand. By the time they were stitching me up my back was crawling and I felt like I wanted to get away from my arm. Endorphins kicked in as well and I felt like I did when I was in labor (without the giant abdominal pain).

The first night was the worst. I refused painkillers (corny) and I woke up around 3 with a throbbing wrist. I take Goody’s and basically…beer. At this point I cannot find any liquor that doesn’t give me a corn reaction. My dream item is a little strip that I could dip into things to test for corn.

On Saturday Pete took my bandages off for me. The little tapes underneath, which I think were supposed to stay on(?) came all the way off in the shower.

I didn’t expect the whiskers, but I did say “make it look like a wistful Admiral Ackbar” so there you go.

Maybe you can see that my palm is bruised. It’s turning yellow now. It can’t really bear weight, but I can already push buttons and turn some things. Scissors and writing with a pen are challenging. I’m looking forward to going back to work…I dreamt I was playing D&D with my boss last night (he was the dungeon master).

Sleeping has been a dream since that first night. Since I hurt myself in February (which was apparently the last straw for my hands) I’ve been waking up with pain a lot and have had the deadness. Last Thursday (right after surgery, genius scheduling), I went to the sports medicine guy who diagnosed my right arm for electrical nerve testing on the left. The left is A LOT better than the right (no consistent deadness, and fine if I sleep in a brace) but I’m going to have it done around Xmas when I am done with my current job.

Yesterday I ran the smoker because I was still nervous about dropping a frame. Bee jacket or not, that would be a disaster.

Blowing the bees down so Pete can close up the frames after inspection.

The orange hive is going GANGBUSTERS. The purple hive had a little setback…we think they requeened. We interfered and transferred a frame of babies over to kickstart them, but we suspect they were already fixing their problem. Their population is growing but it a lot smaller. We’re seeing a lot of orange, yellow, and tan pollen legs right now.

The yard is just starting to pop since we’re a little shady under some firs–daisies are opening and our squashes are blooming.

The lettuce bed is paying dividends. HOW is it that I never planted lettuce before??

We’ve flipped tomatoes to the front yard this year but have a bunch of volunteer tomatoes and cilantro in the back from last year. As you can see, Pete is still indifferent to our dandelion situation, for the bees.

Franny made me a succulent pot for Mother’s Day and I got a plant at the Ballard Farmer’s Market which is unlike any I have in the yard yet. I love it.

Also, I got to see Strudel’s middle school promotion the day after surgery. It’s weirdly good timing to be home right now, since they finished school on Friday.

Strudel was very happy. She’s had a really successful last year of grade school and is moving on to middle school at the same school as Franny did. We are having preliminary high school talks now, but we won’t tour for a couple of years.

Her class held a last market day on the last day of school. These last few months they’ve been operating under some kind of Hogwarts theme and the teacher sorted them into houses. She was sorted into Slytherin.

I was very proud!

I made (gluten and dairy free) red velvet cupcakes with a ganache top, and now I realize I forgot to snap them. But I did get a picture of some booth signs Pete wrote to generate sales. He left it on the table before going to work on Friday and she picked the “Granny Voldy” one.

So now we get another week together. We’re going to grocery shop today and hit Math N Stuff tomorrow. I have bought a couple of new Wii U games. It’s nice right now…it kind of feels like the good old days.

I’ve left a lot of stuff out, but I have to go eat something. I’ve been spending a lot of time blogging in my head for the past few months (sad). Now that it’s not literal agony to type, I hope I will be recording more of my life again. It helps. Thanks for reading as always. <3

Sheeps, out of town, and straw boaters

“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.”
― Goethe

Time is passing quickly right now. I feel like I’m rarely idle now that the days have gotten longer–constantly moving or doing something, cooking or cleaning, or in the yard. All of which is not contributing to sitting and writing or blogging. I feel like we’ve turned a corner with the yard, and it’s starting to look like how we want it to, rather than just something we’ve been chipping away at or occasionally brutalizing.

I haven’t written in over a month and I don’t want to plod over the last five weeks, so I will give a short summary. I am still apprenticing at the same place, for the same company. I’m slowly adjusting to manual labor, and am less tired in the evenings and much less sore. My neck seems to have made a full recovery from whatever strain or sprain it sustained in February, though it is a little stiff in the mornings. What I’m left with is problems with my hands–switching careers has unveiled some nasty carpal tunnel that seems like it was just below the surface.

I got curious and took a peek and it seems some researchers think there is a correlation between Celiac and carpal tunnel. It seems like anything that can be inflamed, will be, if you’re having a sustained autoimmune reaction. I had a test last week at a sports medicine place involving having the nerves and muscles in my arms shocked, and then stuck with needles, and it looks like it’s pretty severe, with ongoing damage. This is unsurprising since my right pointer and thumb are still numb. So I’m seeing a hand surgeon this week for a consult.

But for now I want to talk about yesterday. We nicked off to Whidbey Island to visit a sheep farm.

I’ve discovered we can eat sheep milk without any bad effects, so I’ve been experimenting with brands. Buying it in the store has given mixed results–there was one brand that gave us a corn reaction (iodized salt?) and others that seem fine. I found a cheesemonger down at a farmers’ market and bought from them, and then we decided to take their tour and visit their store.

It was good to get out of town. I feel like we were halfway in survival mode for the last year or so, with me deciding to make a career change and doing spotty tech work. It seemed imprudent most of the time to go out of town and spend money.

I have to admit I got stunningly bored with this arrangement, and I’m glad I’ve had regular, if smaller, paychecks coming in for the last four months. So yesterday felt like a watershed, even though the whole trip ran about $100, including gas and a TERRIBLE book I bought at a cafe in Langley.

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question, What would a Judy Blume book be like if it was not interesting and nothing happens, I want that book? then this is the book for you. Pro: it has a character named “Puddles.” Con: If something doesn’t get pregnant or name a penis “Ralph” soon, I am throwing it across the room.

We wandered around Langley some, in and out of the tourist trappy shops and onto the beach.

LAZY HAZY CRAZY DAYS OF SUMMER! I cannot see a straw boater without thinking of Gilmore Girls.

The antique store was WAY too classy, very disappointing. The proprietor was playing “Greensleeves” (??) and there was only one paint-by-number, a very sedate landscape (zzz). The trashy-looking antique shop had a popcorn machine, which is, of course, our kryptonite.

After Langley, we’d had enough and got back on the ferry. We have some other stuff planned this summer, too, like a camping trip and a short trip to Port Townsend while Strudel is at camp. It’s nice feel like life’s getting back to normal finally.

What is happening in this thread

Things have been…interesting. I’m having a series of high highs and low lows. And I guess a lot of mediums. There’s my epitaph.

I haven’t really been writing/tweeting/whatevering about it much, but I hurt my neck about two weeks into my new job (mid Feb), and that’s been a struggle. It seems I slipped or herniated a disk in my neck and it’s progressing very slowly. I have an MRI scheduled tomorrow.

It’s kind of freaking me out because it’s causing neuropathy in part of my hands, as well as muscle weakness in my arms and grip. In short it reminds me a lot of when I was sick from food–I often had neuropathy in my hands and feet then. Typing sucks. Holding a phone sucks. Trying to read sucks. Trying to sleep sucks. A couple of my fingers are constantly dead right now, and have mostly stopped hurting and itching (thank you brain for finally shielding me from that) but that brought a new learning. Your fingers can be mostly decorative! WHAT!

Work is hard. I randomly drop things. I dropped a carton of almond milk at the grocery store a couple of days ago and it ruptured. That was not work but it made work for someone else. I went from feeling like I could do anything to now feeling limited again, and no, the irony of all of this is not lost on me of all people. However, my mental outlook without corn and wheat is about a million times better so I can kind of pace myself mentally now without ending up in a despair pit.

I have been thinking of myself as New Coke lately. It’s a new formula. Most people say they don’t like it, but they’ll get used to it. I guess on an average day, I think of myself as New Coke and on a not so good day I think of myself as Gregor Samsa. (Emo)

So I was washing the dishes the other night. Now, I never used to like washing the dishes. I mean, it was okay. I did it growing up daily, as a chore, and often lived in houses without dishwashers when I was younger. There’s chores I definitely like, like walking the dogs, cooking, or folding laundry (but not fucking napkins) so I know the difference.

I step in with dishes when Pete is busy or out or ill or has cooked. He cooked while I was at physical therapy for my neck a couple of nights ago and then I was faced with a big pile of them. They were greasy, too. I tell you, I was FURIOUS about the dishes. In the old days I, Old Coke, was low-, medium-, or high-level irritated all the time due to corn and illness, to the point that I didn’t really trust my feelings until I had mulled over them for days or even weeks.

I have gone from a mail-in correspondence course to FUCKING HIGH-SPEED INTERNET OVER HERE. You know what? I HATE DOING DISHES. If we didn’t have giant sticks up our collective asses now about the blink tag, that last line would have been blinked. That’s how serious I am. Headline: NEW COKE HATES THE DISHES. It was kind of empowering because I immediately trusted my feelings. I have been yelling more too (mostly at Pete), and I don’t love this, but nothing high stakes. Mostly about the presidential election. I just feel very passionate about certain things now.

This is dumb and I cannot believe I have even bothered writing any of this, but here we are. It’s complicated. I still feel like I’m rebuilding my life one brick at a time. I don’t really feel afraid of or distrust my feelings or myself like I used to, so that’s pretty huge.

I’m not doing a ton of stuff at home right now, because of ongoing pain and an inability to grip well, but Pete is doing stuff. Mostly working on the poor blighted front yard. He’s cut down both of the holly trees that were in the front. I was never a fan of them since they were eating space where the front fence could be solid (and will be soon), as well as dropping horrid spiky leaves, and as a bonus, generally looking like candy apples covered in shrapnel. Here’s the last one about a year ago (behind the persimmon baby), which he cut down recently, and you can also see the chunk of corner fence that was old and rotty that he took down.

Old fence chunks:

I implored him to snap a couple of pics as he worked in the yard last week. He is now taking rando vacation days and doing yard work, because motherfucker has so much vacation now it was starting to evaporate.

Shortly before:

Expanding the rock wall:

The fence will go above that. The yard is so wild now, but I’m confident it won’t be forever. We put blueberries and raspberries in and everything has gone crazy and has filled in like a freaky meadow. The persimmon is budding on time this year…last year when he planted it, it didn’t bud for months (normal for a first year).

As a contrast, this is what the front looked like when we moved in. HA! You can see the first holly he dropped last year was still alive then.

I snapped this pic of the front this morning. Even though the flower and fruit beds are a mess right now, I still like the yard SO much better without the hollies. Pete is planning on snaking out the lattice bits and putting in some solid fence all the way around to the corner of the house for a shield from the arterial and a yard we could even let the dogs into.

Also, we noticed a chickadee pair were scouting the birdhouse I made at Ladies’ Hammer Club last summer.

I made deviled eggs from Easter leftovers. French, American, bacon & fennel, and Mexican stylee.

Oh PS I finally joined instagram properly and am using it. Work pics, house pics, dog and cat pics. Asstagramme.

The Gobbling Game


“Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.” –John Green

Dear Goddamn Diary,

Not much is happening but I have the urge to check in so I will do some of my patented writing about nothing. Let’s make some arbitrary chapters like it’s 2006.


I got the flu last week. BAAAD. Really bad. High fever. Much cough. This, of course, comes on the heels of me assuming I was nigh-invulnerable. I think, because I always like a post mortem, that I got worn down when I got glutened and wasn’t sleeping well. The germs came rushing in! A sensible friend asked me if I got the flu vaccine this year…it doesn’t even occur to me anymore because it’s on the list of things that contain corn.

Will I still get booster vaccines against diseases as needed? Hell yes I will. The girls will too. I will try to schedule these things on a Friday and just know that everyone’s gonna have a bad time.

Franny seems to have brought this virus home from her dad’s. I feel bad for her. Every time she comes back she gets sick really shortly afterwards. I think maybe it’s just enough exposure to strange germs/little kids that she doesn’t get that preschool teacher resistance.

I haven’t taken any painkillers in over a year and I discovered that Aleve gives me floaty head and knocks me out like cold medicine used to. Whoa! I had 12 hours of that kind of allergy meds fuzz. I don’t care, because I had a few days of a real splitter of a headache, something else I no longer experience on a daily basis, and that helped.

2. Segue to the whole career thing

Going into the electrical field (there’s a visual) I was worried about always being perfectly healthy and able to think at 100%. I did fractions yesterday still kind of fuzzy and a bunch of other homework. I think I have dialed down the panic button on that one. Most of my days, especially at first, are going to involve repetitive tasks and things that are not rocket surgery. I will make sure I am as healthy as I can be this summer or fall when I start my classes. If I’m really sick and have continuous brain fog, I won’t be able to retain new things. If I am just normal colds/occasional “whoops, that contained wheat somehow” I can recover pretty quickly.

2a. An Aside

Speaking of wheat, I’m in that special “week after a glutening” place. I get depression in the form of apathy and a lack of motivation and just kind of general malaise and despair. It’s not disabling (like go to bed and don’t come out) I don’t do much on my list(s) that’s not urgent. I wish there was a temporary drug I could take that would put a Band-aid on things and make me normal. If there was, it would probably contain CORN. Ha. A reason I don’t worry too much is that now that I’ve been through a few cycles of this, there’s always this little muffled voice at the back of my head going “You’re going to feel better in about a week, take it easy man.”

I don’t really want to talk about it with people I love or see regularly, because it seems to happen due to my own carelessness or as a surprise at least every other month. When people ask me how I am, I say “Fine” or “Good” because I know it’s going to blow over and I don’t need any help. Well, beyond some kind of xray vision that lets me see secret gluten where there shouldn’t be any. That would help.

I guess I just see this as a chronic condition. I mention it to friends in passing: “Oh yeah, I got myself glutened again, whoops,” and then move on. So it’s not a secret but I’m not going to expound upon it to them every single time.

It is hard to write about this. For years I felt like I was deeply flawed because I realized I was experiencing mild to moderate depression in cycles and for no “reason,” starting in high school. I know that depression doesn’t always have an external reason but there was something about it that never quite made sense to me. It would seem to come and go on its own, wouldn’t respond to drugs or exercise or therapy or anything else I could think to throw at it. I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t nigh-invulnerable in that way, either. It was my secret that I never, ever talked about.

I realized I set myself up with my own little life rings though. That part of me that is really intense about caretaking makes me feel an obligation to my little dogs, to keep walking them and pay attention to them. And that helps me in turn with exercise and vitamin D and an excuse to listen to silly podcasts.

Just waiting for me to shut my laptop and pick up the leashes, which I will.

2. Back to work

The topic, not actual work. I am still waiting to be dispatched along with three other guys. Boot camp marches on. I am told it isn’t unusual to make it through boot camp before getting work. I felt kind of lucky because I had such a high fever and wasn’t sleeping well, and not being dispatched gave me a chance to recover nicely.

There’s been classroom time and in the field stuff. I have learned the basic controls of a scissor lift and got a card.

On lift cert day we split up into the guys who have been working as tradies for a long time and know how to operate things like lifts and then my side, which I refer to as Team Awesome. The cool thing about us greenies is that when we get our hours, finish school, and turn out, we will know as much as the guys who have been working non-union or in related fields. So I don’t let the pecking order worry me.

When it was my turn I said, “Hold my beer” and jumped onboard, and fired it up. Mostly I did well on the obstacle course, but coming out of the parking spot, I gunned it and flattened the shit out of the first cone I saw. I may not have been putting 100% into it at first…I admit I had a moment of button mashing mania, where I just wanted to run everything over. As a kid I ran over cones constantly with my first car and I still occasionally like to stamp on a downed mustard packet. It’s my inner Godzilla.

I got my shit together and respected the turning radius, and then went through the rest of the course without incident. I got some assorted claps, like we all did for each other. I got a “LADY DRIVERS” from one guy, who told me that he is a Truther, that BTK was from DC and got caught there (FALSE. It’s funny that I am really fresh with BTK’s history since I’ve been reading about serial killers this winter), and theories about eating alkaline vegan diets. So that kind of razzing was just evoking pity, actually.

I feel funny every time I go to class, which I think of as Planet Dood. Last night I had a guy in front of me spitting tobacco juice into a CLEAR bottle (urgh, gut-churning) and the guy who always sits behind me was CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK with his pen as usual. He can never remember my name even though he is initials too, really similar to mine. I always remember Intials Club people.

The teacher only had about a half hour of material for a four-hour class, so we sat and would not be dismissed early. There was a lot of shooting the shit in the way that I’ve noticed that some guys will shoot the shit endlessly. It’s always interesting to me that a room full of bored guys will talk differently than a room full of bored women…it’s just different.

I’m discovering that I don’t have much in common with anyone in my boot camp, which is not surprising. I bring a book every night but I chat if someone wants to chat. As long as I’m friendly and people are friendly to me, I feel like I’m doing okay. Just opening my mouth establishes me as a bit of an alien (older, college degree, homeowner, older kids, etc), but it will be nice to be separate from the gossip and drama. I’m just in a different place and I’m boring. There’s no dick measuring attempts with me. Teachers keep talking to us about “the next 30 years” and hey, I don’t know if I’ll retire, but I hope to god I will not be working in this field that long. That would make me 68. I am very excited about this still, but I’m thinking about the next ten years.

Hey, what about swag though? BLING BLING I AM CARDED UP.

You may notice there are two flagger cards. Thanks for making me sit through a (worse) flagger class, Lady Hammer Club! I probably won’t be flagging and I probably should leave them at home so no one will ask me. Apparently I’m cheap enough to do the shit work like digging trenches, but expensive enough that I shouldn’t be flagging. I’m adding one more in the next couple of weeks–forklift. I am supposed to attach my state-issued electrical trainee card to the front of my chest at all times, like an ear tag on a cattle. And I am supposed to carry all my cards with me in case I need to whip them out for inspectors.


3a. Chooks

I shuffled Laura Palmer off to Buffalo via craigslist a couple of weekends ago. I love the IDEA of turkeys, but she was super not working in my urban backyard.

One of the pics for my ad.

Also, I need to switch this up. The guy who contacted me about Laura informed me that she was a BOY. I didn’t realize turkeys develop more slowly than chickens do. I would have known that Laura was a rooster quite early, due to that and my experience with roosters. I mentioned that she was gobbling when sirens went by, and dude was like, “Nah, that’s a tom. Only toms gobble.” Duh. I didn’t see the characteristic black feathers coming in (yet) and I didn’t think he was big enough. He just wasn’t full grown.

However, lucky me, the guy wanted him anyway, since he is working on breeding his own little flock and said he could use another heritage breed tom. I wasn’t shitty with the guy at all or even embarrassed and was like “Okay, thanks, today I learned something, am dumb.” Pete needed to put him into the hen house most nights manually because it was a bit snug for such a tall bird, whereas the chickens just run in and go to bed. Also turkey poop smells horrific, and this is compared to chicken poop, which is not great. I was very relieved when the nice man (who turned out to be a union pipefitter) packed Laura Palmer into a crate in the trunk and drove off.

What has happened now is that I am left with three nice hens, Audrey, Olive, and Clem, and they are working on integrating with my old flock (Roger Sterling, Allison Hendrix, Fred Burkle, Gingersnap, Fawkes, Froot Loop remaining) now that they are not just following Laura around. I should have green eggs again in a month or two once the noobs start laying.

3b. Bees

Sad news there. The bees are no more. We think what happened is that they had low numbers going into fall, combined with the damp cold of hives that were not weatherproofed enough, and they could not stay warm. They were consistently going on cleansing flights through December, until the temperature really dipped and there was some freezing days. I noticed I didn’t see them in January and that was the end.

So, I think we made about every mistake we could have made in our first year beekeeping. We are going to try again in April with changes based on what we’ve learned.

And that’s all from me for now…I could start working tomorrow or next week or the week after that. I will probably not write until then unless something interesting happens. But this is my snapshot for February 2016.