Irritable Blog Syndrome

I’m having a really, really, really bad day. (Well, technically I’m not. I probably wrote this two weeks ago. Today I’m more likely to be back to my cheery self. But you get the picture.)

Today (the day I wrote this, once upon a time, whatever works), I had to deal with someone who is morally and ethically repugnant, two-faced, slimy, self-serving, and deluded. Naturally, that put me into a foul mood.

And then, already feeling foul, I had to deal with someone so steeped in ignorance that she was attacking me on Facebook because I believe the science about COVID-19 rather than her Fox news talking points. And then she went on to say that a vaccine is not going to help. Give me strength.

She probably also thinks that the sun revolves around the earth, as a horrifying 26 percent of Americans do. Heaven help us. I am so sick to death of stupidity. (And if you’re one of those believers, get thee away from this blog! I am in no mood to deal with you. There’s only so much I can take today.)

There’s a reason that “sick” and “tired” go hand in hand. I’m exhausted and in despair over the idiocy of some people. And they’re the very people who will never be enlightened.

And that makes it really hard for me to blog without sounding whiny and frustrated. Does anybody really want to hear me complain as they eat their Post Toasties? Highly freakin’ doubtful.

And so there you have it. Stupid people are the root cause of Irritable Blog Syndrome. I hate that stupidity has such a strangle hold on my writing.

So now I need to find a cure for stupidity. No pressure there. Better people than I have tried.

You’d think that education would be the solution. But stupidity seems to be the most education-resistant disease that has ever plagued mankind. I have nothing left within me to fight it.

I am just so tired.

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Don’t Overdo

Your body is one smart cookie. It tries to talk to you all the time. Are you listening?

It’s really tempting to push through pain and exhaustion to finish up what you’re trying to get done. Believe me. I know. It’s also hard to stop having fun even when your body is protesting. But it’s not as if you get to trade your body in for a newer model if you wear it out. Aside from the possibility of a few replacement parts, this carcass, flawed as it may be, is pretty much it for you. So it’s important to take care of it.

The day I wrote this, I had been mowing the lawn in the hot sun. It was the only opportunity I would have to do it this week, and I really didn’t want my neighbors to give me the stink eye due to my neglect. That, and the lawn does look better when it’s properly maintained. So mow I did.

But I had to keep taking breaks. I was sweating profusely. My heart was pounding. I was getting dizzy. More and more, I had to stop, sit in the shade, drink some iced tea, and lie flat until my heart slowed down a bit. Then I’d mow some more, and sure enough, it would happen again. I’m neither as young nor as thin as I used to be.

At one point I thought I was going to pass out or vomit. Back to the shade. As I lay there, I thought, “You know, I could die. All alone in my yard.” That would suck. I have plans. I’m working toward a future, here!

Suddenly I realized that the lawn was not worth dying for. Common sense, you’d think. But it was actually an epiphany for me. So, the front lawn looks great, but the back yard is choked with dandelions and clover. But, hey, I’m alive. And the bees are thrilled.

Afterward I took a cool bath, and then a nap, and felt much better for it. I bet my body is astounded that it took me so long to wise up. I suspect it feels like that quite often.

I need to become a better self-listener. I’m not going to win some prize for pushing myself too far. There are no medals for abusing one’s health. I don’t know about you, but I want to live to mow another day.

Bee and Dandelion

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The Middle Distance

I shouldn’t blog when I’m this tired. I’m seeing things out of the corners of my eyes that aren’t actually there. Furtive movements. I so rarely have the opportunity to use the word “furtive”. Why is that? Hmmm…

Clearly, I lack focus. I’m finding it impossible to think coherently. So brace yourself, dear reader. This might be a bumpy ride.

Okay, I just had to slap myself on the cheek to break my prolonged stare into the middle distance. It is stare, right? Not stair? No. Not stair. That would be silly.

The middle distance. What a seductive place. I often find myself there and it comes as a shock, because I know that’s not where I intended to go. Visiting that place has gotten me into trouble at school and in office meetings.

But the middle distance is so magical. And comfortable. It can embrace you like a lover. I’m surprised I haven’t gotten stuck there. Once I’ve arrived, it’s hard to leave.

And, better yet, it comes with glaze. I love glaze. It’s delicious. But not when it’s used on my eyes.

Nothing much ever happens in the middle distance, and yet I can’t seem to stay away. I’m not even sure I age while there. Time seems to stop. That’s why I cannot say with any accuracy how long I linger there.

It never looks the same. Sometimes it’s pretty, sometimes it’s not. I think. I’m not sure, because it’s always blurry. And there must be something in the water, or at least the air, because I lose all motivation. It’s the place I go when I desperately want to sleep but can’t.

The middle distance. The land that time forgot. It lies somewhere beyond the event horizon, just west of the Twilight Zone. You may not know it, but you’ve been there. And you’ll be back.

If you happen to see me there, say hello. And make sure I’m not operating any heavy equipment. I’ll be the one with the glaze.

http _img03.deviantart.net_8a19_i_2010_006_c_3_staring_into_the_distance_by_annoyedgirl

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Exhausto-Day

To say I have a really screwed up work schedule is putting it mildly. Part of the week I work swing shift, and then, to make life interesting, I switch over to day shift. That means that there’s one day where I only get about 5 hours of sleep between shifts. Needless to say, by the time I get off work after that quick turnaround, I’m completely worthless. All I want to do is lie around and gaze stupidly at the ceiling.

I’ve had this schedule for 3 ½ years, and I’ve learned a great deal from it. First of all, it’s best if I don’t make any major purchases on exhausto-day. More often than not, I’ll regret them. I also shouldn’t get into Facebook debates. They will only end in tears. (For someone.)

The blog posts I write on that day tend to have a little less meat on the bone, too. And it’s not a good day to reflect upon my past, present, or future, but that’s a challenge since I am a navel-gazer by nature. And if you tell me something important during that time frame, make sure I write it down, or I guarantee I’ll forget.

I’ve also learned that sleep is a luxury that one should never fail to take advantage of. I have no set sleep schedule. Some nights I’m up until 3 am, while other nights I’m already snoring at 6 pm. The most important thing is that when my body says it’s time to sleep, I need to listen.

I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that my quality control fluctuates from one day to the next. Exhausto-Barb is not nearly as efficient and level-headed as the Barb one encounters during the rest of the week. And that’s understandable. Once I finally stopped beating myself up for this ebb and flow, life became a great deal more tolerable.

One nice thing about my schedule is that my “weekends” (which don’t coincide with the rest of the planet’s, of course,) are 72 hours long. That almost makes the exhaustion worth it. Almost.

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Bad Bridge! Bad!

I’d say that working on a drawbridge is a very zen-like experience 95% of the time. Unfortunately, you never know when that 5% of pure chaos is going to rear up and bite you on the patootie. I had one of those days recently.

I went to bed at 3am. No, I’m not a party animal. It’s just that I didn’t have to be to work until 3pm on this particular day, so I tend to sleep in. Way, way in. It’s one of the few joys of being single, and I take full advantage of it.

So imagine my confusion when the phone rang at 7am, right in the middle of a REM cycle. My dream popped like a bubble. I hate when that happens. For a minute I have no idea where I am, or even who I am. It’s like my brain has to reboot.

I was being called to come in to work early. How early? 11am. They needed me to work a 12 hour shift. Okay. Crap. I set my alarm for 9:30 and went back to sleep. At least I’d be getting 4 hours of double overtime. (Thanks, union!)

So in to work I went, to find that I had company for the first 4 hours. A Trainee. Actually, I like training people. It’s kind of fun. And this was a pleasant person to talk to, whom I could see would work out nicely. As I’ve written before, I can pretty much tell if someone is fit for this job within the first 5 minutes.

But while he was here, the sidewalk camera shorted out. That’s a problem because it means we can’t see all the pedestrians before we open the bridge, and Seattle pedestrians are horrifyingly non-compliant about staying off of moving bridges, despite flashing lights, loud gongs, and us desperately screaming at them. It’s a wonder no one has been killed. So fixing this camera is a top priority. Which means the electricians had to come out. Now we had 4 people crammed into a tiny little room, and that can be a bit emotionally draining. But they fixed the camera and were gone within an hour.

And then it was time for the trainee to leave. Finally, my usual routine. Peace. Quiet. My own domain.

Then the storm hit. Rain was coming down in sheets. And the next thing I knew, BOOM! Lightning struck just south of the bridge. Now, when I was a bridgetender in Florida, I was used to this. It was a rare day when lightning didn’t strike somewhere in my vicinity. But here in Seattle, I’ve only seen lightning three times in the nearly three years I’ve been here, so I nearly jumped out of my skin this time.

And then alarms started going off. Oh, shit. That’s never good. It turns out that 3 of the 4 drives that operate bridge had shorted out. It was after hours, so I called the supervisor of the electricians, and he told me to walk down to both ends of the bridge and push a specific button to reset the drives. All well and good, but the storm was still raging. I had to walk down with lightning crashing all around me. That was fun.

Then I walked back up to the tower, only to discover that one of the drives had reset, but the other two had not. I made a call again, and was told, again, to go down and push the button. Naturally, the two drives in question were on the far side of the bridge, which meant yet another long walk through the electrified tempest.

I came back to the tower. The two drives were still malfunctioning. Phone call number three. This time he said he’d be right out. So I sat there in the tower, drenched in sweat, waiting, as sailboats stacked up like cordwood on the canal, and I was contacted every five minutes by various boaters and had to explain why I wasn’t opening the drawbridge for them.

Could things possibly get worse? Of course! A traffic accident south of bridge backed up traffic for miles, delaying the arrival of the electrician.

And then the phone went dead. I’m getting calls on the marine radio from a variety of employees, asking if I’m sure that the phone is properly hung up. Do I look like an idiot? Of course the phone is properly hung up. Then the phone fixes itself with no intervention on my part, so of course everyone thinks the phone was not properly hung up. Sigh.

Oh, and the sidewalk camera went out again. Fortunately, it, too, fixed itself. Go figure.

The electrician finally makes it through the traffic snarl, and is able to fix things within 45 minutes, bless him. By now I’m so exhausted from the adrenaline rush that I’m nauseous and practically delirious. I have never been so happy to see 11pm in my life. The next challenge is driving home without falling asleep at the wheel.

When I finally get home, my dog is extremely happy to see me. (I just love dogs, don’t you?) So I feed him, take a shower to get all the sweat off, and dive into bed. I suspect I’ll be asleep within 5 minutes, which is a good thing, because I have to be back to work at 7am the next morning. I’ll be lucky to cram 5 hours of sleep in.

Except, did I mention that my dog is extremely happy to see me? I may be ready for bed, but he is not. He wants to play! He wants to tell me about his day. He wants to know where the hell I’ve been for 12 hours. He wants to warn me about the lightning monsters that come from the sky.

I hug him. I give him kisses. I tell him he’s a good dog. I beg him, I plead with him, to settle down. Finally, he curls up by my hip and…the next thing I know, the alarm goes off, and it’s time to do it all over again.

If I were a cartoon character, I’d have one of those squiggly lines above my head right now. I need a hug.

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National Compassion Fatigue

No matter who you vote for on November 8th (and please, please do!), I think there’s one thing that most Americans can agree on: we’re tired. We’re tired of this pervasive feeling that everything in this country is going to hell in a handbasket, even if we can’t seem to agree on the root causes. I think, as a nation, we need a vacation.

Here are a few things that, rightly or wrongly, I am sick of hearing about.

  • Politics
  • Violence
  • Corruption
  • Reality Shows
  • The Economy
  • Poverty
  • Homelessness
  • Disease
  • Fraud
  • Terrorism
  • The Environment
  • Rights, or lack thereof
  • War
  • Abuse
  • Police
  • Money
  • Child Rearing
  • Anything that ends in “ism”, “ist” or “phobic”
  • Health Care
  • Celebrities
  • Scandals, especially as they pertain to celebrities
  • Unemployment
  • Advocacy
  • Natural Disasters
  • Hunger
  • Mental Illness
  • The Internet
  • Debt
  • Crime

Please understand. I realize it’s important that most of these things get discussed and acted upon. They need to be part of the national conversation. (Well, except for the celebrity bs.) But in this day and age we are bombarded with these topics every waking moment. There seems to be no respite. I think I’m speaking for pretty much everybody when I say, “Can we just… not? For even 5 minutes? Pretty please?

ostrich-clip-art

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Shocked

I heard this story once about a guy on a subway, stuck in a car with a man and his five obnoxious kids. The father sat there and did nothing as these kids ran around jumping on things and shouting and just generally making a nuisance out of themselves. Finally the guy couldn’t hide his irritation any longer. He said, “Can’t you get your children under control?” The father looked up and said, “We just found out their mother is dead.” Just like that, the man had a change in perspective and was no longer irritated.

I’ve been thinking about that story quite a bit in the last few weeks. As I’ve been running my errands, passing people in shops and on the street, they probably were looking at me and thinking I was basically like them, because I smiled and was courteous, as per usual. But in fact I was in turmoil. When you experience great tragedy or are in chaos for whatever reason, it doesn’t always show on the surface. If it did, mentally ill people wouldn’t be able to walk into crowds and start shooting.

Now that the shock is finally wearing off for me, I can express what it felt like because it’s still fairly close at hand. First of all, I felt completely isolated from everything around me, like I was in a big plexiglass bubble. I was completely numb. I couldn’t feel the sunshine. I couldn’t taste anything, but that was fine because I had no appetite. If the wind was blowing I didn’t feel it. Everything seemed as if it were at a distance. I would hear birds chirping and people mowing their lawns and it sounded exceedingly strange. How could life be going on without me going along with it? How could everything have stopped moving for me, but still be fast-paced for everyone around me? I couldn’t concentrate. And my God, the exhaustion was overwhelming.

When you’re in shock it’s like being in a vacuum. You’re deprived of all your senses except for sight, and what you’re seeing makes no sense at all. You know this isn’t normal, but it’s the place you are in, and you cannot see a way out of it.

Now when I pass people on the street I look at them and wonder if they’re crying inside. I wonder if they’re trying to feel again. I wonder if their smile is genuine or a courteous reflex. Of course, there’s no way to know. But just in case, I’m going to make an extra effort to be kind.

I suspect it will take me a long time to fully recover the loss of my loved one, but a few days ago the birds stopped sounding strange to me, and I actually felt the sun on my face. So perhaps there’s hope for me yet. I’ll take more of that, please.

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A Photographic Mistake

Sometimes I am my own science experiment. Yesterday I got about 3 hours of sleep. And between getting off work at 8 a.m., getting the oil changed in my car, then waiting for the glass guy to come and replace my windshield, plus various unwanted phone calls, and my dog who decided to vomit all over my landlady’s plush carpet, those three hours weren’t even consecutive.

Then I went back to work at midnight without even being able to remember the drive. Finally I’m home again, but I’m seeing things out of the corners of my eyes that aren’t there, and I hope you’ll forgive me, but my mind is in such a fog that I can’t think of anything to write.

So I’ll leave you with this picture which I took entirely by accident. I was driving away from a camping trip to Chaco Canyon and there was this gorgeous sunset. I was on a busy highway and there was no way to stop, so I decided to take the picture on the fly. Little did I know I had the lens open for an extended period, so it came out like an impressionist painting. This photo, which was a complete mistake, is one of my all-time favorites. Nature provides the most colorful of palettes.             Hope you like it.

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Now I’m preparing for bed, but I seem to have gotten a most unwelcome second wind, so I shall eat comfort food, then lie here with a towel over my eyes to block out the light, and bitterly weep as only one who understands profound exhaustion can.