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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Other News: Strudel is Eleven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s why you leave a note

Oh man, I am so wishing my new phone would get here, like, yesterday. I finally bought one after…gosh, five years? My phone won’t even go on the internet anymore. I really want to take some decent pictures. I’m in Ye Olde Yesler housing projects, which are partly still in existence, except now I am helping to densify them and make them 8+ storeys instead of 1-2. I can see Smith Tower, Columbia Tower/downtown, the mountain, the bay, and the old VA hospital. It’s a neat place.

Today we did something called pour watch. This means you stand at the bottom of the future parking garage and a big articulated straw thing comes over your head and spits concrete down onto the floor non-stop. IT IS SO COOL. I get to be behind the barriers and actually see what happens now, which I have wanted to do since I was a kid. And to be honest it was kind of fun just to stand there and make sure our conduit didn’t get knocked over or kicked so it would stay in line with future walls, while the cement guys scrambled around to smooth and level everything.

Later I had to put on a harness and climb about twelve feet up some pre-pour rebar walls/forms to attach some big pipe so power can come off the street into the building. My jdub thought I was going to be scared or act like a little bitch up there but verily I did not.

“You okay up here?” he said.

“Yep, I was just thinking about dinner…deciding on a marinade for ribs.”

“I guess you’re not scared then?”

“NOPE. I do think this thing is some form of birth control, though. Totally riding up.”

There followed a story about This One Time when the rebar caps were not replaced properly, and This One Guy fell, and it was INCHES! INCHES FROM HIS HEART! This happens every time we do something new–you get to hear about 27 ways people died doing this exact thing

It was totally fun. I busted into the job shack after with my harness all up my butt and my foreman was like, “And how was that.” I guess this is kind of a litmus test or something. When, when will we crack the new apprentice??

“Welp, I’m quitting,” I said.

“Really??” my boss asked.

“PSYCH, I love my job!”

I get to tell jokes like this at work as well:

A man was admitted to Harborview with six plastic horses in his ass. They say his condition…is stable.


How are things in your little bed?

The past month has been an absolute BLUR.

Get up
get dressed
swim around in rain gear for a while
hit thumb
carry bucket
carry pipe
carry propane tank
be told no hand tools are needed
leave tools behind
be annoyed with when unable to pull pliers from hammerspace
new thing hurts
old thing hurts
be mocked daily for TERRIBLE crooked pipe cuts
swear again
smash pinky
be asked if “baffled” (A: Yes, am baffled.)
swear AGAIN, LOUDLY this time
start to not feel like an alien when in full PPE
start to feel naked when not wearing 25 lbs of tools
get slightly better with channel locks
fall into bed
dream about PVC glue
Get paid weekly.

It’s going great.

In the spirit of The Onion’s AV Club, here are some Stray Observations (aka “It is Friday and I cannot write a coherent essay right now):

1. Pubes are not very nice on a typical day, but I have learned about further math: pubes + urinal cake = ARGH! The general foreman made me a key to the ladies’ portajohn and it really makes a difference not to have to sit down next to the urinal every time, since it’s removed from the special one.

2. On a typical day, I’m learning a ton on the site, but a pendulum has swung somehow. Now that I’m not on the internet all day, basically synthesizing information and constantly making decisions, or responding to tedious emails, I have a lot more brain space. I’m reading voraciously at a rate I haven’t for many years, as well as listening to audio books in the car on the way to and from work. Lately I’ve been reading about food and air travel, Queen Victoria’s court, and TC Boyle’s newest novel. I’m listening to Bringing up the Bodies which is now giving me a Tudor itch. (Gross.)

3. Mostly I’ve been dealing with PVC conduit, but I had a day of “pulling wire,” which is a lot like what it sounds. Wire comes on big spools and you pull it off and stuff it into or pull it through pipes, which will be its home as electrons zip along it. These were big wires, like imagine garden hose, but full of metal. I was also carrying big spool jacks around. Two days later I woke up and could not open or close my right hand properly–it was like a crab claw hand. My muscles had swelled and had pinched nerves in my shoulder/arm, which was making my hands dead. I went to the doctor for advice or treatment and was given corny muscle relaxers. YUM. I was very, very stupid for two days, but I slept well.

So I am coming along. I am already much, much stronger and I feel like excess weight is kind of melting off of me, in spite of somewhat Bacchanalian weekends involving lots of gluten-free beer and some cinnamon rolls I’m working on, that contain plantains and are chewy yet have a crunchy crust. (This is rare for GF.)

In Other News: Franny the Potter

Franny was kind of noodling around in her ceramics class, sort of doing jack shit until we watched The Great Pottery Throwdown together. It inspired her to jump on the wheel and actually throw pots! I was lamenting that most of my little sauce dishes were missing or broken and she said, “Mother I will make you some!” Hooray! They are coming along…I believe I’m due one more.

She and I are going to buckle down and get back to podcasting soon, this time about another rewatch of Twin Peaks, which we’re starting this month (missed our usual February thing because being new at work was exhausting). I keep getting older but TP stays exactly the same….

A Pig In Shit

I have been dispatched to a muddy hole full of rebar, puddles, giant machines such as backhoes that swipe and chomp at the mud feet from my head, and irritable electricians. I am being tasked with helping to create the electrical system for this apartment building as we all make it crawl up out of the mud. At the end of the day my main journeyman asked if I was going to quit and I was like FUCK NO can I come back on Monday? (A: yes.)

I actually thought that I would be put on one of the half-built new highrises downtown, starting with things like lightswitches and outlets and using my pliers a lot, but I am really pleased with this. It’s shovels and giant power tools, and pulling massive high voltage wires that are crazy heavy. I dug the trench and buried the grounding wire and grounding bars for the main power source of the building, and watched the journeymen finish connecting the main panel. In four months we will be “indoors”–there will be slab over our heads while we run conduit and systems through walls.

The company seems fine–very safety focused. My two journeymen have been with the company for about 15 years each. I had something specific explained to me that I didn’t know about L&I yet–the higher your safety rating is, the less Labor & Industries “bills” the company, and that deduction on your paycheck is lower. There are plenty of tools, parts, and safety equipment, which I am hearing from some boot camp attendees is not always the case.

There were a few women on the site, and a woman running the whole project. While I was filling out paperwork at the electrical company I now work for, she called one of my bosses who was “orienting” me and this other apprentice who was being dispatched. I could overhear her giving him an earful about me. I think the problem was they didn’t want an apprentice. My boss argued with her and said the ratios were right (two journeymen to one apprentice is totally legal), and it was his job to staff the site with electricians. “HER,” he kept saying. “The apprentice I am sending is a WOMAN.” He hung up and said to me, “…And that’s your new job.”

When I arrived on site to finish paperwork and got a brief safety/procedures/drug talk by the foreman, the woman I heard on the phone was sweet as pie to me. I wasn’t worried about it; she’s just managing her business. If I am unsafe the foreman can fire me. If I fuck too many things up the journeymen will send me back to the hall. She said she was happy to have another woman on site. “There’s more coming, too,” she said. “I have to get some more portapotty keys made.” There’s a small handful of women on site now. No iron workers, cement masons, or carpenters, as I expected, but what looks like some laborers.

I had been worried about this day since I decided to pursue becoming an electrician a year ago. It’s the moment of truth–what if I hated it? Then on Thursday night I found out I would be sent to a Seattle Housing Authority project mudhole or a tunnel project on an interstate, both projects that I knew would be kind of a grind mentally and physically.

I didn’t want to wear myself out by lunchtime, but I felt exhilarated running up and down the dirt hills, being a fetch n carry, climbing over rebar, and pulling wire. It reminded me of being a little kid and being really happy running around outside, building forts and wishing I was allowed to use tools. Now I have my own tools. I’m not too sore, even though I spent about a week being laid up with the flu. My back recovered immediately and now I have some very bearable soreness in my shoulder, biceps, forearms. It just feels like I had a good workout. I don’t think this physical transition period will be too bad.

Next plan is to get a couple of paychecks under my belt (I am making about 60% of what I was in tech, but will get regular raises) and then buy a phone that goes on the internet. My poor pathetic phone. All it can do is Maps, which is why I haven’t been forced to replace it. But it has to be plugged into my car while mapping or it will instantly have a seizure, wet itself, pass out, and wake up with about 30% battery left. Probably will only be of interest to me, but I want to start instagramming all this mud–my first job. Finally I am excited to go to work. I have never had this feeling before.

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.

The definition of insanity

I got myself again, with coffee. The store was out of beloved Stumptown, beloved because I like it and it NEVER makes me sick. I turned to the right…there was a small, seriously local (not pretend local but the parent company is like, Sbux) roast there that I had enjoyed in the past. And it was on sale, since it was a Xmas blend! Sold.

Two days of that and I was sick and Pete was sick. He reacted right away, running to the bathroom. I gave him grief because I thought he was eating too many nuts on the Whole30. Boo, me. He didn’t have any on Thursday morning because he ran off early for work. I didn’t feel great, but brewed the coffee again Thursday and took the dogs for a walk and it hit me–WHAM.

Brain fog, trembling. I go through this really embarrassing denial when I am getting sick. “I can still think! I can! Let me just multiply some fractions really quick…can’t think of any fractions…7/16ths…can that be reduced? Hang on.” This eventually fizzles out and is replaced with the sound of white noise, being on the verge of tears, and the theme song to Ducktales.

At this point on the walk I was getting dizzy and starting to really sweat, like I had a flu. It was a 45 degree day and I was dressed in reasonable layers, walking at a good pace but not approaching a run, and when I came home my bra and half my shirt was completely drenched in sweat and I was shivering.

There is a nag nag nag in my brain going, Hey. Hey stupid. Just quit coffee. My sister has terrible reactions to coffee and has quit it all together. But when coffee is good, it is really fine. I feel GREAT, which is to say, normal. Some mornings I forget to drink water along with my half-pot and my pee is still clear (you’re welcome). I am coffee-adapted.

I have quit coffee successfully before and it wasn’t that challenging to taper down and then stop. I feel about the same and I can function fine without it. (This was not true when I was sick and tired all the time.) I like it so much and I don’t want to give it up if I don’t have to.

So the last day I had the “bad coffee” was a week ago and I’m still feeling the effects. Headaches, sleeping 10+ hours a night, can’t recall names, poor attention span, misanthropic outlook, etc. On Saturday in boot camp, a couple of days after being glutened, the (woman) teacher told me I should be “more confident.” (In private, and it wasn’t out of nowhere, don’t worry.) I was thinking to myself, man, she’s right. I’m a different person when I’m sick and it’s hard to explain that to someone. I was also thinking that I had just broken up with my toilet after a long engagement with it all day the day before (Friday). I woke up shaky and sweaty Saturday, and had that Sophie’s Choice of OH GOD IT IS GOING TO COME OUT OF BOTH ENDS which is a race to the bottom really. I finally vomited, felt better, then ate breakfast minutes later as if nothing had happened. GROSS, I know.

As an aside can I say that I used to vomit a LOT since I was a baby for the first 36 years of my life, and I was really good at it. It was super casual. I could relax and just vomit silently, and it would just sound like a faucet going on and off. I am losing my vomiting skillz. It actually hurt to puke and I made a bunch of noise like a total amateur. Now I am starting to understand why people are anxious about puking. :[

When I have a bad day I’m trying to find that balance. I don’t want to be a person who gets valid criticism and it’s like “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME, I’M STILL A MYSTERY TO YOU” but I also know I was having an off day. I don’t like to lie and say something like “Well I have the flu today” or tell the truth and say “my food allergies make me stupid sometimes” because people don’t really understand that either.

I could not for the life of me get conduit offset bends right and I felt very thick and slow. I feel kind of embarrassed saying this to you, as if I am just making excuses. “I could have killed it if if if…” But I do have a lot of experience doing things glutened and un-glutened now. I will see how it goes next time before I am totally harsh on myself.

Ultimately with all this in mind, I decided not to take the criticism totally personally. The teacher had a snapshot of an incoming apprentice on one day and formed an opinion. But it scares me now as I am on the verge of being dispatched. I’m thinking about keeping a diary of when I get hit and how, and how long it takes me to recover. I’m not sure how often this is happening exactly–maybe once every other month now? (Too much.) I know it takes about 4-6 days for my guts to get back to normal, but it’s a week in and I am still tired and pretty gloomy.

I wish I could go follow the supply chain of something that makes me sick that in theory, should not contain gluten ever.

The good news is that since Strudel (usually) doesn’t drink coffee, she missed this round of gluten. She’s in choir and so is conscripted into the spring musical. This year it’s The Lion King Jr. She has to audition with “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?” Her dad and I have been singing it with her and playing the soundtrack and doing the karaoke version on youtube and I have discovered something very interesting about her. At first I thought she was pretty hopeless and couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but as we went on I realized that she can’t “hear” or recall the melody or notes in her head at all, so she was kind of guessing where her voice should be based on the notes.

I have no training, but I like singing, and I have always liked jazz vocals in particular. I can copy vocal styles and hear songs I learned 30 years ago in my head. As soon as we got the audition piece I remembered how the chorus went from being bludgeoned with it on its release in the 90s. I don’t think this is extraordinary at all, but it kind of blew my mind that the kid can’t really do it. I grilled her on some old violin pieces that she played over and over and OVER a few months ago and she couldn’t sing the melody back to me. What to do to help this? I know her violin teacher works on ear training and rhythm work (like clapping) and it’s a terrific struggle.

The good news is that she is trying to push past this, and she really wants a part. She was in tears a couple of nights ago about how hard the singing is, and we talked about how it’s discouraging sometimes when some things come easily to us (in her case, math and reading) and music is more of a struggle. I brought up the miserable failure I had with conduit bending a couple of days before, and how I felt like I wanted to quit for a minute, but that I will keep at it and will get competent, even if it’s not my thing.

She wanted to do warm up singing in the morning while she gets ready for school, and Elton John wasn’t going so well, so I encouraged her to sing a song they are working on in choir that she knows well, “J’entends le Moulin.” I said, “Hey, that’s in French, and isn’t easy, and you know that one.” I think that encouraged her. Not sure how that song can stick in there and Elton John cannot. I asked her to think about what might be different about this song and she thinks it’s because they were playing instruments along with their singing, like wood blocks and xylophone. Eeenteresting. As a bonus, guess who can entend le moulin all day long now? Yes me.

So I’m glad we’re encouraging her to stick with the violin, because I think she needs that challenge, and to see some progress and success in something that does not come naturally. I know when I was a kid, if it was at all hard, I gave up, and I didn’t have family support or encouragement to keep trying. I don’t think developing that attitude ruined my life or anything, but I’m glad she’s learning a different way that I hope will keep her options more open in the future.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Other News: Cooking Thots with I, Asshole

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

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

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

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

The next night I was fine!

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

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

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

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

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

Spinning School Dropout

“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

Still trying to decide on an actual banner. Indecisive!!

I am having a festival of exercise right now. I have time, programs are running HELLA specials, and I have about two months to get fitter before I get dumped out in a job site. I am told repeatedly that being a slow loris can really increase your odds of getting laid off. I have time and a wee bit of cash to throw at this, so why not get as fit as possible in the next eight weeks?

I decided to try spinning class on Monday. SPINNING. What? I haven’t been on a bike in about 15 years, no joke. I was like EHHH I can pedal in place for an hour.


“For those of you who are new…,” the instructor said, “Your butts will stop hurting after you come a few times.”

(That’s what she said)

I could not get comfortable right off the bat. Sit high? Ow. Sit forward? Ow. Stand up? TIRING! Spin class is not for little bitches. If you’re doing an activity that is supposed to be sitting down and you cannot, you’re gonna have a bad time.

To my credit (yeah right) I made it forty minutes. Then I was like, “Is this fun?” NO. Some exercise is not fun, and sometimes you’ll have a bad day no matter what. I’ve had terrible runs where I just give up. “This is now an adult walk. All runners please get out of the pool.” There are worse things than walking.

The most important question I asked myself was, “Will I feel a sense of accomplishment when the hour is up, and will I want to return to this?” NO. Deal breaker!

I did TRX yesterday, which is a cross between the circus and push ups. Uhhh…more fun than I just made that sound. It ticked my boxes for “fun” and “I will do this again.” I’m in a brief January series just to get started and the personal trainer is really nice. I found new muscles yesterday. Seriously, I wonder what these muscles are that are hurting??!!

One more thing–I’m also back in my old yoga series, this time with Pete. He went alone last month, and now we’re in together. When worlds collide! I always did so many things on my own for years because I had this weird anti-social territoriality somehow…like a dog that thinks its dinner is going to be taken away. Or a person who grew up compartmentalizing everything. Yoga was my city mistress and then I would come home and not talk about it. Sigh.

“How was yoga?”

“FINE.” *glares* *acts weird*

Pete came home and talked about yoga every day he went. He talks about things he does like a normal person, annoying me for years, which is completely unreasonable. I think I had this view of relationships that a person should strive to engage the other person and talk about only interesting or essential things, and be quiet otherwise, whereas he is very transparent and needs to brain dump and chatter. Two definitions of how a relationship works.

I spend a lot of time going “Mmmhmm” at home (but actually listening) because all the chatter flows my way. My children are finally reaching an age where they go, “Oh, how was your day?” It’s really nice. Sometimes I don’t have a lot to say, but sometimes a thing happened.

One time a few years ago I tried an experiment. “What if we don’t talk about work for a month? And see if we talk about other things?”

“Not at all?” he said, alarmed.

“Well, we should tell each other if we get fired or something.”

He ALMOST DIED. Of exploding. I felt bad and gave up, I think before the month was over. I was very happy, because tech world is boring, and we were pretty much in the same field. Now I feel much more patient about it, in part because I can follow and remember everything really well (no brain fog) and I feel helpful because I can remind him of past instances like “That sounds like when X did Y a few months ago” and he’s like “Ohhh yeah.” My head used to kind of swim like it always did when he’d tell me long stories about coding triumphs or a heinous meeting. It was hard to keep an oar in.

Point of all of this being, when my brain changed some I think I got more patient with what he needs from me, which is to be a repository of his day and be heard. That’s definitely something I can give.

I was raised to be seen and not heard, and preferably not seen, either. This is my chatter box. In 2001 I didn’t think anyone would read it, but I figured if someone told me to stop that babbling or to go to my room, it wouldn’t matter. And it hasn’t.

In Other News

1. Franny spent a week at her dad’s over New Year’s and has returned sick again, unfortunately. She is really messed up this time–super depressed, achy, congested, bloated. Her scalp was a flaky, itchy mess from shampoo that we’re allergic to. They use fabric softener and fragranced soaps there. I feel so bad for her. She seemed kind of okay at dinner and then burst into great sobbing tears and went to bed shortly after. She’s usually so chipper when she’s not glutened and corned. She’s having lung tightness like I do when I get corned and that coupled with a cold she picked up from her other sisters that is making her a little croupy (they are always ill), she is frustrated.

The night her dad dropped her off (Sunday) she was a little out of her mind and seemed drunk or stoned. She was rambling on and unable to finish her sentences or complete a thought, and was laughing at nothing, and running into walls.

“People were really nice for New Year’s and they brought me dishes I could eat.”

“That’s nice,” I said. “Do they keep wheat-free kitchens?”


“You seem glutened, honey,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said, and sighed.

I took over the dishes for her last night, but I had done so much exercise yesterday I could barely lift my arms, and then Pete tagged in.

I am trying to patch her up a little. I remind her to take magnesium, a bath, vitamins, eat some dark chocolate, vent. She knows what’s happening, and knows she doesn’t have an external event or situation depressing her, but it doesn’t make the depression less real. I had it about a month ago when I ate some bad nuts. I thought they were just coated with salt but in hindsight they were really too “dusty” looking. I crawled into bed and slept eleven hours. What was the point of getting up or dressed? I would never become an electrician. Would I even ever shower again? Eventually, I did.

She is lucky in that she’s going to a high school where if she needs to take a breather and step out in the halls and cry a little or just get some fresh air, she can. The penalty is that you miss part of your lesson, rather than getting slapped with detention. Her school is a “last chance” for some kids who have flunked out of regular public schools, or have had bullying problems, etc. She’s a good kid who does all her homework, but the flexibility there makes it the right place for her medical issues.

She spent years coming back from her dad’s house and being a teary wreck, and I thought a lot of it was the high amounts of sugar she would eat there. Now it’s even more extreme since she goes from being well to sick, instead of low-level sick/irritated to worse.

In summary, this is what the last four days have been like.

2. I liked this short story today from a long time internet acquaintance. Reminds me of when Franny was small. When Strudel was small, I was fielding questions about police justice and morality, how many ways there are to die, and what I thought she should study in college that would apply to becoming a supervillain. Now she’s just looking forward to swim lessons. WHEW. I come from dark genetics.

3. I have one more thing to say about yoga. I started yoga about ten years ago because I hurt myself in a kickboxing class, after an attempt to get really fit for the first time in my life. It turns out there was a reason I never did that before. I was just too fragile and prone to strains, joint pain, pulled muscles, and constant throbbing back pain. On Monday, for the first time ever in these past ten years, I did yoga without ANY pain. It was crazy. I kept expecting my wrists to go dead, my back to tweak, my hips to pop. Nothing. Before it was the lowest bar of what I could manage to do for exercise, and I felt like I had to “do something.” Now it’s fun and enjoyable. I GET IT. I GET YOGA NOW.