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“New” Car

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I bought this 2012 Dodge Avenger R/T almost a year ago.

The “R/T” part of the car is mostly for John, but I do take advantage of the improved suspension. I’m sure I phrased that all wrong, but what it means is, I really like driving on our curvy roads. And I have no doubt that one day, this car’s nimbleness will get me out of a jam.

When I talk about my car, I call it my shiny new car. When is a new car considered not new any more? When you get the first ding?  After a month? After the second ding? After a significant scratch? After 10K?  After 50K? 100K?

My shiny new car has gone through all of that. But I think I will go on referring to it as my shiny new car for as long as I want. Funny how we Americans like our stuff to be new. Until it’s very old. But if it’s old, it had better be in great condition.

I get a bit mental when I go about detailing my car. That’s why it took me all day to do the job. I felt it was dirty again before I finished cleaning it!

I went about buffing out a couple dings that happened recently. An inconsiderate young mother didn’t bother to shut her car door on a windy day in the parking lot and pow, right into my door. I told her I hoped she hadn’t dinged my car and she said, “It doesn’t look like it. Tra la la.”

Then I picked up a package for John that was heavy and dirty and I conked the rear bumper putting it in the trunk. Turns out, these two imperfections cleaned up very nicely. I was horrified, however at all the other knocks and dings I found as I went over my car with the proverbial fine tooth comb.

I got a sunburn while I waxed my car. I didn’t listen to that voice that told me to go inside and put on sunblock. I thought, I’ll be done soon. Ha.

I put wax all over the car, then set about buffing it off. It may have been easier, had I done it in pieces. I had started out in the shade, but it moved as I painstakingly removed the wax. By the time I got to the end, my car was so hot the wax was melting as I rubbed it off.

I learned this does not make for a good finish.

I had started out the project vacuuming the interior. I found an absolutely fantastic upholstery cleaner:

http://www.wayfair.com/Blue-Coral-Dri-Clean-Plus-Interior-Cleaner-and-Stain-Lifter-DC22-L3271-K~BLCL1000.html?refid=GX21919339860-BLCL1000&device=c&gclid=CPeF1tLs1bcCFZBcMgodHQ8AQg

I’m not sure if it works all that great on upholstery, but it’s fantastic on floor mats. I will never remove them from the car in order to clean them again!

But as I went through Armour All-ing the interior, you know I got towel lint speckling the carpet. The Mother’s Back to Black I used on the black trim between the front and back doors took fingerprints to a whole new level.

I think I finally put on a decent application of Rain-X. We shall see. I kept seeing wax I’d missed. To the end I was buffing here and there. I thought I had been so thorough the first time through. I burnt my arms, gosh darn it!

Every time I went into the house I wanted to stop and buff all the many dirty places I passed. When I go to sleep tonight, I’ll probably be buffing God knows what behind my closed eyes. I kept hearing Brad Delp asking me if I was feeling satisfied. Would I be, after getting so close, trying so hard for perfection, being too anal to accept good enough?

I guess so, because I’m still going to call it my shiny new car. But next year, I think I’ll pay someone else to look so close at it….

Secret

When I drive over the Catching Slough on my way home every night, I almost always catch my breath. Tonight was a golden monochrome of silver.

Pale green/gold light filtered through lavender clouds and caressed the green, velvety rolling hills, revealing depths in the contrasting textures of leaf and needle and blade. Mysteries lay up every draw. The tide waters filled the Coos river to its banks, its steel gray waters the perfect anchor to the scale of hues in this picture.

Shhh, I thought. Too many people knowing about this would ruin the serenity of this scene. I think this as I hit the wipers once. As I drive on, I turn the delay on low. Before I reach home, I have gone through every setting on the delay and back to off.

Maybe I don’t need to worry so much about keeping this secret. Many people are so sweet, they would just dissolve in all this rain. 🙂

Hustle

Do the Hustle!

Sometimes, doing a job can be like doing a dance.

I work in production. What this means to me is the act of making a product, in sequence. People learn different positions in the sequence, and then they do it, over and over and over again. I’m sure there are lots of jobs like this all over the world.

In my case, I can’t talk about what I help make. Anyway, due to cutbacks in the government, our production has slowed considerably. At least half our personnel have been laid off. I myself was put on a three week furlough. When I returned, quota was seriously low.

I am used to lots of activity, continually challenging myself to work faster, more efficiently, more accurately. Now, the pace is much more relaxed, and I find it harder to stay alert and focused during my 10 hour shift.

(This time does not include my 45 minute lunch break, by the way. It amazes me when I encounter people who just take for granted they will get a paid lunch. I guess that says a lot about me, who’s never had a job that pays a person for eating. I don’t know.)

Anyway, often I find my eyes drooping, losing focus. That’s when I’m grateful for a personnel absence, or any extra bit of work. Something that lets me get that groove back. That hustle.

But after many weeks of being rather slothful, I found it hard to find that hustle again. It made me conscious of the process of gearing up and I thought I might blog about it, while I wait for my clothes to dry.

First, I must combat the physical feelings of weariness. This is an issue when you have been working hard all week, or when you are drastically doing less work than previously. I’ve been using a shortened type of affirmation. I just say words that I associate with having hustle. Energy. Focus. Vital. Lively. Alert.

My brain might be very simple, but I urge you to try this. Just say words silently to yourself, words that you associate with the feeling or attitude or aptitude you wish to have.

Then, I channel Sarah. To watch Sarah work is to be amazed. Imagine a sewing machine going at, I don’t know, half speed.  Saying she is like a machine is not quite right.  She is so very smooth and human.When I need to perform, I visualize Sarah’s swift movements and strive to copy them.

I’ve worked next to Sarah a few times in the morning and talked to her about her amazing ability. I don’t know if she does this every morning, or if my compliment made her think about what she does too much, but she became a bit fumble fingered. Not to a detrimental effect, just short of her normal flowing pace.

I’ve experienced this a bit when I begin gearing up. I don’t fumble, I just can’t find my rhythm.  My muscles are tight. I am really trying. I am whipping myself. But true, efficient speed cannot come until it is natural, smooth, unthinking.

That’s a trip, right. A thinking person just turning off and just doing. Sort of like meditation, maybe. My understanding is that you attempt to turn off and just be. (I am most certainly wrong. I tend to paraphrase things in my mind and often go right off the track.)

I’m going to bet a lot of people reading this are thinking, I could never do a job like that! Doing the same thing over and over would bore me to death. I couldn’t stand it! I want to be an internet entrepreneur. I want to find my bliss and make money doing what I love.

More power to you, I say. I myself started this blog hoping to generate interest in a novel I have yet to complete. I have very detailed ideas about being my own boss.

But consider that shirt you are wearing, those pants. Consider that burger you bought for lunch. Consider the container you pour your shampoo from. This stuff was made for you by people. Hopefully by people getting paid a decent wage with medical benefits, but when you buy your stuff from China, well…

I’m sure a lot of people making these things for you are bored by their job, but they have to pay the bills. Maybe they feel stuck and only live for the weekends. Only dream of escape.

I’ve been there. Heck, I didn’t even have Saturdays and Sundays off for many years. I was doing good when I could swing two days in a row off. I was the person in the chain hair salon styling your hair for peanuts, hoping for a good tip.

I thought I was miserable, but as I look back on it, styling hair was fun. It was cool, all the different people I met and worked with. I got to be creative. I got to get out of my own head.

And I like doing production. I like doing my part to make a thing of worth. I like being able to listen to an audio book or music while I work, being able to day dream all day. I like the people I work for.  I like the people I work with. And, I like to hustle!

I recently tuned into some Fleet Foxes lyrics, “And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be/A functioning cog in some great machinery/serving something beyond me.”

That started me thinking. Of course this contrasts with Bog Seger who feels like a number. Or Huey Lewis working for a living. But I can get into that lyric. I can get into my life.

“Lost” Keys

Another vote for deleting the “Not” in my Blog title….

Last night I was rather busy, coming home. I put down my laptop case, unstrapped my backpack, and then headed outside to hunt slugs. (I’m all for the minimal suffering, so I hunt them and stab them with a steak knife. No, I am not next in line to be a serial killer, I just think it’s the humane thing to do!)

Then I called my highschool best friend I’ve recently reconnected with. During our chat, I wondered about my keys. I can’t remember why, but I looked in the little bowl by the door and only saw the spare car key in there.

I began to shuffle through the things on my desk top and table, mentioning to Jennifer that I couldn’t find my keys. That led to a discussion on Alzheimers, and then on to more fun filled topics.

I have to get to bed very early as I need to rise at 4:00 every work day morning, so at 7:45, I sorrowfully said I had to go. I finished up my blog post, then cast about for my keys again.

I looked over the desk and table again. I searched my backpack. I upended my backpack. I searched the bare kitchen counters. I looked in my coat pockets four different times. I looked in the bathroom. I went back outside, covering my hunting path (found another slug to kill).

I was sure I would find it outside, because my car key is one of them fancy dancy electronic remote start keys that cost $$$ to replace, but no, I did not find them out there. I went back in the house, through the whole routine again. I pleaded to the universe for mercy. I was going to go crazy in the near future.

I checked the top of the dryer, and I found the spare car key.

Wait a second. Wasn’t the spare in the little key bowl? I look again. After spending a half hour frantically looking everywhere, I find that I mistook my bunch of keys for the spare key. I had put them where they are supposed to go, after all.

D’oh!

But I assure you, I am not a complete idiot.

Nostalgia

Yeah, it’s been a dry winter and I’ve been worried about forest fires, beings as how I live in the forest!! But a few days ago the rain started. I think it’s been wetter the last few days than all of winter. And our freshly chip sealed driveway is taking a beating by the constant downpour.

And yet….

I was coming up Beaver Hill around 5:30 AM and there was the clouds kissing the tree tops, and getting mighty slobbery at it too. A feeling comes over me. Sometimes I feel it in the heat of summer.

I am taken back I don’t know how many years, probably not too long after we moved to Oregon from Missouri. These states are so different from each other. I’m sure it rained in Missouri, but in the summer fields turn into dirt. Here in Oregon, it usually rains well into June, and though we might have a warm summer, rarely does it top 90, let alone 100. Our fields turn into, well. less green. The grass will turn a lovely golden color if left to grow long. The best descriptor of Oregon summers is pleasant.

Oops. I think that’s supposed to be a secret….

Many people don’t care how lovely it is here in the summer, because they know most of the year it is, ahem, damp. Except this year. I was off work for 3 weeks the beginning of April and it was acting like August. We made the appointment to get our driveway chip sealed. Well, that’s another blog, I think.

I have this memory, so clear. Being in some sort of truck, wet to the skin, feeling the heat coming up from the floor boards. It felt so heavenly. Chime in sisters, if you remember similar. Seems like it could have been a return from skiing, but I believe it had more to do with target shooting on Mt. Hood in a clear cut. Maybe it’s the culmination of hundreds of rainy day hikes.

And when I see those clouds come down to touch the earth the nostalgia is so visceral.  It’s like a peek into another world. It’s the past thrust into my lap. I am overtaken. In the best way.

So, rain on!

We’re the best that we can be!

It’s been 30 years since I graduated high school, so you can guess what’s come up.

I’m not sure I’ll go to the reunion. It involves a total of ten hours travel time, and I’m not sure the math adds up. At first, I gave absolutely no thought to going. What did any of that have to do with my life right now?

But, a couple of nights ago, for some random reason, I decided to accept the friend request from the facebook page for Centennial’s high school reunion. I found myself fascinated, spending a significant amount of my severely limited free time to cruise the profiles of everyone associated with the page.

Many people look back on that time with fond memories. Me, not so much. I cringed a little when someone gushingly posted our old class motto, “We’re the best that we can be cuz we’re the class of 83!” I hated that motto the entire four years of my education there.

Isn’t there always room for improvement? Was my miserable teenage self really the best that she could be?? Were any of those cretins I went to school with the best that they could be?

I started to think about our mascot, Elmer the Eagle. Of all the images to remember him by, one overshadowed all the others. Image

I thought viciously, “This eagle surely isn’t being the best he can be. If he were, he would rip his animator to shreds! Making him parade about in a one strapped overall like some redneck Lil’ Abner. Ye Gods!”

But I had to spend quite an inordinate amount of time scouring yearbooks to come up with the picture above. I thought it would be plastered all over the year book, it was so prevalent in my mind. Instead, I had to come to grips with the truth that I had only glimpsed a student made poster from a homecoming float my freshman year.

Wow. Just wow. This random image seems to be the emblem of my emotions of my entire high school experience. Since I had to look at it closely in order to make sure you would see the details of the image, I found it to be rather quaint. Look, they were very careful to use red and blue, our school colors.

I feel very apologetic to the innocent student earnestly composing this poster. “Happy Birthday Elmer” How sweet. Of course, looking at the pictures of us young students, I found each and every one of them, even the nerds, to be luminously beautiful.

Yes, some students I still identified as nerds, but please remember, I thought of myself as a nerd, too. And my older self realizes we weren’t nerds, we just didn’t have the social capacity for rising above the low opinions we and others had about us.

For myself, I was never the most well adjusted teenager. I was struggling with an emerging mood disorder and tragically low self esteem.

I had been bullied my first years of moving to Oregon. Not a patch to what today’s kids endure, but it traumatized my sensitive ego. And by the time I got to high school, I was thinking about suicide.

No one knows, but I made one very pathetic and ineffectual attempt. Honestly, I think I was entranced by the romance of mental illness. What a thing to idolize. Other kids were busy making friends, and homecoming floats. They were playing on sports teams, or attending them. They were pursuing their wholesome interests, one way or another.

I  guess I was pursuing my interests  too, the melancholy girl interested in mental health. It should come as no surprise that I’ve battled a mood disorder my whole life, then. One of the tools to combat depression is affirmations.

Affirmations have worked literal wonders with me. But I had to get over a large hurdle first. I had to realize that what you tell yourself doesn’t need to be true, it just needs to be what you want to be true. Like telling yourself that you are the best that you can be!

Affirmations should always be framed in the present and positively, just like the name of my blog isn’t. I’ve heard it put forth that the brain does not register not, so when I say I’m not a complete idiot, what I’m really hearing would be…….Can’t be more diametrically opposed to positivity than that.

(But I won’t change the name of my blog. I still think it’s funny. Hopefully you do too.)

I’ve had to come to grips today with the fact that I have looked at my education with a highly distorting, negative filter. Some random, ingenuous image on a homecoming float symbolizing all that was wrong with high school?

Looking at kids with the same impressions I had back then, I wonder what my experience could have been like if I had been open, warm hearted, and just cheerful.

I decided I was ugly and unlikable because of some hurtful things that happened to me in the fourth, fifth and sixth grade and I let it color my entire life until recently. That says kids shouldn’t bully one another, but it also says that I wasn’t given the tools to get over that.

I’m not a parent. If I was, maybe I wouldn’t say that we shouldn’t try to insulate kids from unpleasant situations. Not only is it impossible, it teaches you and molds you into the person you will become.

Hopefully kids today just learn how to let those unkind words and actions roll off them. It should teach them how to stand up for themselves, to exact fairness from others. And it should teach them how they should not act to others.

I smugly thought I was immune to such behaviors, but I can recall being a jerk a few times. At the very least, I was very judgmental to a lot of people, thinking they really didn’t like me and were out to get me.

No one is immune to being a jerk, I guess, but it helps to learn how to be self aware, so you can try to be the best that you can be!

Caffeine, Caffeine, my kingdom for caffeine

kid
I’m a lifelong insomniac. Check it out. Don’t I look like some jacked up three year old? Seriously, my Mom had to invent a nightly ritual of “Get your drinks and potty and get to bed!” This probably helped my sisters from catching the disease from me. I’m sure I wanted company when I crept out to watch TV when I was supposed to be sleeping and had I been left to corrupt them, well.

After I was denied my excuses, I still had to occupy myself during my non sleep. I remember gazing down from the top bunk to look at my sister across the room, with her ringlet curls splayed out on her pillow. (Shampoo salesmen would kill for a picture of that) I used to fold that satiny edge of the blanket into triangles again and again until it fell apart, only to try again and see if this time I could get all the way across. I used to make odd popping sounds in the back of my throat, for hours on end. (hopefully my sisters didn’t end up with a psychological hang up about similar sounds) I used to “swim” to the bottom of my tightly tucked sheets and explore the deep ocean just like Flipper did.

As I grew, I coped as best I could. I was never the most well adjusted kid, but I made it out of there alive. One day, however, I learned that if you sound hysterical enough, you can excuse your own self from school. After my beloved Grandma passed, for a while there was an excess of Tylenol 3 around the house. One night I was desperate enough to see if it would help me sleep.

Well. Yes. It did. I woke up from a nightmare of swirling colors only to find it didn’t matter that my eyes were open. I wasn’t sure if I would ever really wake up. I really glommed on to the song  Bad by U2. Think, a young Bono screaming, “I’m wide awake! I’m not sleeping, oh no no.

After moving out of the family home, I slept much better. It was not until I learned by a painful empty stomach that Excedrin puts caffeine in their headache formula, that I suspected I had a very bad reaction to caffeine. Turns out, I prefer 7up to RC Cola, the two pops my Pop would bring home regularly. I determined that for me, a soda drank at 5 pm would keep me up til 5 am, only for the alarm to go off a short while later. Symptoms were, a yucky stomach, shakes, heart palpitations and breaking out into random rotating accents.

For decades, I religiously avoided caffeine, barring the incidental stuff you get in Chocolate. Then, one day on vacation, it was early and I didn’t have to get to sleep at any particular time and I drank half of John’s Dr. Pepper. Wow! No wonder people are hooked on this stuff. I felt it zinging through me veins trailing delightful happiness in its wake. So, some time later, I was very tired working my swing shift and I thought, Hells, I’m going to get me a Coca Cola from the vending machine. I warned my co-workers that I might spontaneously start mimicking Crocodile Dundee, but I was amazed that it only gently nudged me into being a bit more alert.

I work a difficult shift, even now, when I no longer take the swing shift, and even with the benefit of prescription meds, I have an occasional bout of sleeplessness. I have a special med in reserve, for those times when it seems there is a pattern developing. Not long ago I used it. The next day at work was difficult. I was working in the inspection department, a darkened room, where I am to search for microscopic flaws in glass. So there I am at my microscope, dazedly spinning my part around when, my eyes just would not focus on the part. Crap! This is my job. This is why I was asked back to work after a three week furlough. And I can’t actually see the part I am inspecting. Lovely.

So, once more to the vending machine, dear friends. I got me a nice little 16 oz Coca Cola around 10 am. No matter that I need to be asleep well before 10 pm, I have drugs, I have good drugs. Well, this strategy seemed to be working quite well, until after lunch. I pinched myself, I got a glass of ice cold water, I walked outside with out a jacket, I left my jacket off, but finally threw caution to the wind (caution???) and sprang for a 16 oz Dr. Pepper. The universe tried to talk me out of it. The vending machine stole a $1.50 from me, and even when I insisted on paying double, it tried to keep the bottle capped. But I persevered, egged on by previous successes with tight lids and a growing desperation, I soon downed my second caffeine clogged sugary concoction of the day.

I managed the rest of my shift, quite chilled with my ventilation fan and no jacket. John and I watched the conclusion of a very intense TV series and the tension I felt during the climax raised my shoulders to my ears. Okay. Then the show was over and my shoulders are still high. My lovely guy helped calm me and I was able to get to sleep with the normal dose of Rx. I didn’t dare pull out the big guns since I had to make a 2 hour drive the following day. Still, it was a very interesting drive that left me with a sore throat and bruised inner thighs and red cheeks.

So, last night, I was so tired I wasn’t sure if I had even taken my Rx. I decided to take 2 thirds of the dose, in case there was some already in my system. It wasn’t until I should have been asleep 3 hours ago, that I remembered some tricks for sleeping when you find it difficult. A few Ohms and I was able to sleep, somewhat fitfully for the next 4 hours. I didn’t stress out about it. I told myself I could cope. Even with out caffeine. Really. But oh, if caffeine could only be a sane option for me…

Strange how when I am overtired, I can feel the little shocks of adrenaline coursing through my veins in a familiar way. It’s all good. I made it through my shift, through my 35 mile commute to arrive home safely and slightly dopey. A fine time to write a blog.

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