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.