Counting Down

There’s always that feeling that comes with a welcome change ahead. Some aspect of your life that has been dragging on your mood for a good while is scheduled to close out.

And so it goes that I can’t help but start counting at some point, 6 months being a point that I particularly like. Why not a year? Seems more complete, but one year is a ways out. Counting down till Christmas starting at New Years is a bit silly, and looking forward to something that is a whole 4 seasons away just doesn’t feel the same. Officially rolling past the 6 month mark feels a bit more like just a season away.

Now, in less than 2 months, someone turns 10 years old! For many parents, that’s nice but not anything terribly impactful. For parents living in certain states, Oregon being one, there is the law stating that children cannot be left unattended until they reach a decade old. This still doesn’t make a big difference to some families. For families that really can’t afford daycare or babysitters, it is a game changer. We are that family, and I am specifically that parent. With the home schooling firmly on my shoulders, a majority of my days are already quite occupied.

I mentioned the fact at some point, and mom recoiled at the thought. Child at home, alone!? Look what happens to her bedroom when you leave her for 30 minutes! Leave the whole place to her for hours at a time? Craziness! No way!

Offers for a free cell phone started coming in, and out of desperately wanting to get Wiley operating on her own, I finally handed off one of mine to keep alarms on. That ended up doing it, as nana and papa quickly turned around and got her a Timex Family Connect. It’s basically a watch phone with extremely limited calling and text.

It still hasn’t been easy for mom to allow her to be home alone, but we are practicing with short errands. Honestly, nobody really enjoys running errands, groceries, and all that. To be left out of those chores is a blessing, she’s likely not trying to ruin it for herself by getting up to no good.

For the time being, we have to give attention to next year. Recently, the kiddo let me know that she didn’t like being home schooled, to which I hotly responded with my dissatisfaction and what a hindrance it is to me to have her attached by the hip. I suggested that if she could get it together and show she can do what is asked, public school could be an option again.

She changed her attitude toward her work, and has been going at it. By early May, she had completed the minimum coursework required to pass. Her last month and a bit of school was finally at a comfortable pace, and we all got to relax in relief. Many of her days, she finishes all her work by 12:30 and has practically the whole day to herself. It will be interesting to see if she even cares to resume public school full time or just enjoy the electives and keep the self- paced work style.

In any case, next month I will finally be somewhat less bound by responsibilities. I’ve been daydreaming about what I might be able to do that I haven’t been for so long. Have a freaking brewchacho with my brochacho?? Maybe?? Chase down some more work? Put some miles on my running shoes? Shopping for myself, by myself? Oh, the possibilities!

Fire Child

Containing the Blaze

Wiley stood on two pieces of tape on the floor. She stood there for a good, long while. Mom tried to speak nicely to her, was met with a growl, which was met with my demanding 30 more minutes.

It was a long while, and it took several tries. Eventually, though, she got dressed and cleaned her Guinea pigs’ cage. She did it without growling, stomping, and even fought back the angry face. Afterwards, mom found that she had even put away her laundry without being asked.

I’m not trying to break you, child.” I started to tell her over a waffle breakfast. “I’m not trying to douse that fire that burns in you.” She looked confused and I elaborated. “You got a fire. You have so much fury and fight. Most adults can’t handle your fire. You got a fire that can burn the world down, child! You realize that?”

She had nothing to say, words or gestures. She was listening. “I’m not trying to douse your fire, child. If you didn’t have your fire, you wouldn’t be Wiley. But, if you don’t master your self, your fire is only going to burn you down while you spend your life wondering why.”

I went on to wish that she grows up to learn to use that fire for good. Someone who just won’t take No for answer is a powerful ally and veritable adversary. These fiery, spirited children are a rare kind and their power must be acknowledged before it can be controlled.

Success

Must be the time of year.. my feeds are flooded with success tips. I subscribe to most of it, and sometimes I transcribe it to the whiteboard.

So, my partner included a quote.

Success is never owned, it is only ever rented, and the rent is due every day.

I chewed on it a bit, and spat it out. I thought about how to ask her to elaborate. What is this rent that’s due on it? Who do you, uh, lease it from? How can it be ours only temporarily?

I erased it and wrote my own, feeling that a complete change of mindset was called for.

Your success and failure is the result of your actions. Own them!

What do you think? Was there something to the first quote that I discounted or was it calling for change?

Where do we go from here

Four. That’s how many times my family of two adults and two children uprooted and relocated, this year.

Right about the time that I last posted a blog, we were scrambling to figure out where to go after getting a letter saying our apartment would simply not extend us a lease renewal. That letter was drafted and supposedly dropped in the mail exactly 60 days before the end, so despite a lot of people insisting our move should have been paid for, it wasn’t. I wasn’t shocked, but I was rather angry.

We dealt with it. Some friends lent a vehicle, another lent a roof in exchange for labor, and we got on with it.

Those that have been reading may not be surprised to learn that one child’s school dropped her like a bad habit. Whilst her teachers paid us a home visit with grocery store gift cards and well wishes, the principal had concocted a whole dramatic situation without any verifiable basis, all in hopes of removing our child from the district altogether. Parents had suggested home schooling in the past, and with that instance came our enrollment into K12. The district told us that it wasn’t an option because of this, that, and any other. To our great relief, we not only got her enrolled, but had computer and books in hand within almost one week!

This adjustment put me in the position of full time “Learning Coach” because, well, being such is not for the faint of heart! For a long time, I had thought of homeschooling as something that well off families would do out of dissatisfaction with public school. Turns out, much like ourselves, that it is the only feasible solution to educating certain challenging kids.

My partner was out for full time employment, opting to focus all of her efforts on her small business. I figured that I had managed production and handfuls of people before, so managing just her in a small shop would have been fine. A few weeks in, our little girl was locked on and doing almost all of her work every day without fuss. Mom, however, just wasn’t seeing the sales she needed. I gave it a good hard ponder before deciding to get myself back to work. Three emails got me one interview that same day, and I started punching a clock right after the weekend.

Meanwhile, she whom I am restrained from naming, had a fucking field day of our situation and threw all the weight of her attorney at me over it. My entire year was speckled with court appearances and an enduring bitter taste of injustice. I struggled with feeling betrayed by the government I went to war to defend. I overcame the feeling slowly but surely as my veteran status turned out to be a key factor in getting help.

Now working full time for a shit wage a painful commute away, I had no time for working on the house we were staying in. The owner was peeved, and we had no choice but to move out. We also suffered a break in, and considering the items stolen, we pretty much know who it was. Perhaps the most painful part of this year was my decision to move in with a coworker to appease the court. That is, I moved in, sans family. My girls moved in with another friend for an incredibly short time before disaster struck and forced them to move back in with Nana and Papa.

We just suffered. For months, we just put one foot in front of the other, tired, beaten, apart more than together, and absolutely heartbroken. The gavel came down with me under it, and we just… suffered more. There came days that I simply didn’t leave the bed except to use the bathroom, neither sleeping nor being fully awake.

Somewhere in the midst of getting help, our caseworker asked me to submit documents proving disability. It had already been a painful long process and, in that moment, I couldn’t recall whose disability this help was being based on. I focus so intensely on the matter of what we are all able to do in each situation that it hit me like a bag of bricks to face the reality that all four of us has our own issue within our being that we struggle with aside from all the external strife. We really are a bunch of disabled individuals.

The day finally came. I got the call, and it was great news: we were accepted to receive help getting a roof over our heads. The lady held on in silence…I think most people shout, jump, and cry for joy. I only had a deep breath and a thank you to offer. Good as the news was, it couldn’t begin to settle the sour feeling in my stomach of what I had just lost.

I carried optimism in spite of it all, and looked forward to reuniting the family and being walking distance to work. Then came a little accounting error in my employer’s favor, which they tried to rectify at my expense. After the manager spent copious time yelling and having a childish temper tantrum over it, I threatened small claims court. The situation blew over, I got paid what was owed, called it good riddance, and got a replacement job at a slightly better wage working for an absolutely wonderful couple from Poland.

Right as all that excitement settled down, it was back to school for the kiddo. Her mom took up the role of learning coach, and I could almost hear the bell ringing to start the next round. I don’t know what it is about moms and daughters, but it seems like they just can’t help but dig at each other and get each other’s goat. Kiddo loves to play mom, and has many games in her repertoire. There’s the “I need ___ first” game which is a slightly less absurd version of the “I don’t know where my ___ is” game usually played with something that is immediately in front of her, sometimes while staring at the very thing for extra annoyance. There’s the rush through the lesson game, where nothing gets read and blanks just get filled with nonsense and doodles (if anything at all). Given enough pushing, she will even flop out of her chair and roll around on the floor crying, “it’s too hard!”

Mom pushed every day, but to absolutely no avail. Every morning began with growling and groaning at best, sometimes outright screaming at worst. Doing work was like pulling teeth. I did what I could in the time off that I had to move her forward in her learning. The truth of it was that having spent her time in public school being ‘OFP’ set her learning way behind. Now in 4th grade and being manipulative as she is, it is really difficult to tell in each situation if she genuinely doesn’t know something or she is just head fucking us.

Coming into our new apartment wasn’t a complete relief. Now located a good hour out of downtown by car on a good day, I have been feeling somewhat stranded and isolated. It was a straw that broke my back, so to say, and I decided it was time to stop asking for improvement and demand it. Nobody likes yelling or spankings, but when it comes to this child screaming NO!!! over doing anything she’s told, we have found no other solution. I hit my breaking point. I decided that shit was going to get better one way or another.

It was ugly for a bit. I didn’t hold back, and I made it clear that it would stay ugly until everyone started straightening up. Before long, my partner and I came up with a response protocol that we agreed to stick to. Turns out that both the girls fully agreed the yelling was by far the most unreasonable response, much worse than a swat on the butt. I have a pretty good drill instructor voice, there are stories about just how big the ‘startling radius’ of it is, but suffice to say it gets reactions. Coming to terms with everyone’s yelling was an important point because, damn, I sure get screamed at an awful lot by the exact two people who claim my yelling (back) is excessive! I made a big point of getting the promise of not being yelled at, big enough that they couldn’t conveniently forget it. Now, when voices get crazy I can calmly press the point and most of the time the voices settle down.

As for the schooling, we spoke with the teacher about the struggle. She had been offering suggestions but nothing really worked. Finally, I made the call to back off on the kid. Mom was to focus on her business and avoid any argument over schoolwork or lack of. The teacher and staff took the extra time to conference with kiddo about the situation and it was left at that.

Once October came around, I started getting antsy for my partner’s shop to start seeing holiday orders. There were a couple inquiries for fairly involved custom jobs. Seeing as she is early in her journey as a woodworker, one order was simply outside her ability and the other wasted a bunch of her time just to end up wanting to be shown the craft rather than pay for her craft work. I worked my butt off and it at least held us over. Orders finally started trickling in right as my season wrapped up, and things were looking up.

November started off bright, but dropped off sharp at the second week. We kept pushing production in anticipation of getting Black Friday sales, but my confidence in the holiday sales carrying us was gone. My partner picked up an hourly job, then promptly lost it thanks to an emergent medical procedure. All of my work was on hold for the holidays. It was frustrating for the lack of income on my end, but at the same time reassuring that owning a small business can, in fact, bring the kind of comfort that allows a person so many weeks off.

My partner got back on the job hunt quick as possible. An interview in the last week of November turned into pre-employment papers and orientation in the first week of December. Finally, a few short days in the second week got her a terribly skimpy paycheck in the third week. It had been a while since suffering the biweekly grind, and the stress was thick enough to cut with a knife. I can’t even begin to explain how those pay cycles destroy and keep people struggling. It is absolutely the worst aspect of any job, and it is quickly becoming the very worst aspect of every job. There is hardly a bill out there that will accept payment a week or two out when you will actually have the money. Until then, life is just a sick fucking game of late fees and overdrafts.

Despite the dismal numbers of the business, a last couple sales still put groceries in the fridge where the biweekly check fell short. I had been talking about closing up shop, like maybe it just isn’t worth the time to keep up the effort. Days like that, when a paycheck comes so hard earned, so untimely, and so insignificant, followed by a surprise bout of dough, dashes the thought in an instant. It has happened so many times, the cool drink of water when we are dying of thirst, that employment feels more and more absurd with every lousy paycheck that hits the bank like a drop of water on a hot pan.

As my work went quiet, I had more time to put into homeschooling again. The teacher was shocked at what happened during the ‘cease fire’ between mom and kiddo. It had clearly been a while since she had to see a student just not doing at all. Entire days went by without even logging into school, tests were tanked in rapid succession, and progress ground to a halt. The teacher made the threat that she will be stuck continuing 4th grade next year if she doesn’t step it up. It was a weird conversation to have, but I had to first inform her that getting that child just to be present for 5 days in a week was already great progress. Public school couldn’t keep her in the classroom for two hours on most days, much less doing anything productive. It may be substandard, but we have to call it a Win anyways. As for repeating the grade, it ceased being a threat years ago. I fully expected public school to make her take second or third grades over, given the absolute lack of everything including her presence in the classroom. But, public school didn’t have the backbone to do such a thing. You can’t make threats to a child with ODD, you can only spell out the consequences and only when you can follow through with them. We threatened taking a grade over, she called bs, and the school proved her right by letting her float by anyway. After four grades of that crap, she doesn’t exactly respect education. I told the teacher to accept taking two years as a viable course of action and not bring it up again.

As much as the kid fights just for the sake of fighting, the hidden truth is that she is never going to cooperate with anyone that doesn’t show themselves to be an ally. I guess the tough part is trying to accurately identify her fight, and sometimes the challenge is in winning the struggles that aren’t supposed to be hers in the first place. A computer that dies constantly, school materials being scattered, and not having a proper chair to sit in are all terrible barriers when stacked on top of mixed fractions.

Beyond that, there is an element of humility. We have long ago learned to tag team because sometimes, she’s just ‘got your number’. You want to tell her how it is, set her on the right path, but find yourself wielding logic in an absurd circus of shouting. Sometimes, you have to admit defeat and let the situation stand at a loss. Some days, I have closed the books, packed it up, and opted for walking some laps. It happens.

December is winding down much in the same fashion. I can’t say I’m satisfied with what came out of this year. It was a wholly unacceptable, absurd circus. Logic had no place among the powers that be, and all I can do is accept the failures with humility.

I unplugged for a bit, from work, from projects, from schooling, from everything. I unplugged from worrying about money and making decisions. I had hoped to feel refreshed at some point, but I only grew antsy to get busy again. I sat down to a couple different projects waiting for the wind of inspiration to set sail. It didn’t. So, I have stayed unplugged and decided to figure out where I’m going from here, where this business is going, where my projects are going, and where this blog is going.

See you in the new year! ✌

Able vs Willing

Time and time again, I find this very disturbing truth about people….

Those who are able to help, won’t; and those that would help in a heartbeat, are unable.

It’s been rainy here, spring monsoon kind of rain. We noticed a car parked down the street with a loaded shopping cart beside it. It didn’t take a day for the car to be removed. In the evening, I took out the garbage to find a man digging through the dumpster. He gave me a ‘how ya doing’ and I carefully set my trash out of his way as I gave my response. Only a few minutes later, he was done and sitting on the curb across the street near where the car had been.

It was still raining buckets. We saw him with a phone looking upset as he sat there trying to figure out what to do. We sat the kiddo down for dinner, and my girl said she wanted to bring the guy some dinner. I started making phone calls. Shit, what’s that guy to do? His only shelter presumably got towed, and he didn’t have so much as a tarp to hold back the rain.

As I was on the phone with help, I see the old guy across the way come out and chase the guy away. The poor guy wasn’t even on the homeowner’s curb, he was across the intersection! But, that old man chased the homeless guy away even as we were trying to bring him food and help.

This old man is retired. He owns his house with attached garage. He drives a nice, pretty new Subaru outback. He had a nice motorcycle he can no longer ride. Aside from a car, there is little else in his garage after last summer’s garage sale. With room to spare, at least a garage, I found it awfully appalling that he would walk out and tell the guy to be out of his sight. Did this same crotchety fucker have the guy’s car towed? I’m pretty convinced he did.

We don’t exactly have means. We are struggling ourselves. Man, I could go for what would have been dinner leftovers right now, in fact. We get the occasional bag of cans to cash in (10 cents per), which we also need. Still, we have often given them to poor folks we find digging in the trash.

So, US of A, what the fuck is so great about a country where a homeless guy gets chased away from the vicinity of homes that are half empty and an apartment complex that can’t fill their apartments? What the fuck is so great about owning a home and hoarding it all to yourself? What the fuck is wrong with people that can do so much for society, but keep everything they have from everyone that needs it? Why are the only people offering help the ones who can’t afford it?

I catch myself feeling this way so often. I see friends buying cars, buying houses, going out to eat, going out to party… in a recent moment of desperation, I found myself texting my friend, “I hate to have to ask, but what can I do for you for __.” I hate feeling bad for asking for help. But the predictable response comes through, “I love ya, man. But, we just aren’t down to help.” Am I supposed to feel okay about this? He has helped a lot, so maybe he reckons I’ve had enough. I just thought that’s what friends are for. Then again, I have had the same experience with my family on many occasions, too.

It just leaves me realizing that this country is polarizing. Those that have plenty, keep having plenty by not giving. Those that give are often giving of their own necessities.

The States are only great when they are United. We are not. We are in a civil war of economics, not divided by geography, but by income. Roosevelt must be rolling in his grave at Americans working 50 hours a week just to exist.

No Limit

I want to set the scene for this one. Imagine a toddler, just turning one year old, barely able to walk. Imagine him screaming, wailing, crying. First tugging one parent’s pants for comfort, then stumbling to the other parent and doing the same, also to no avail. Both parents yelling at each other relentlessly. The child stumbles back to the first parent, cries harder and tugs again. What else is a 12 month old supposed to do to stop an adult quarrel? The parents yell louder to overcome the child’s desperate cries instead of realizing the trauma they are causing their child…

That moment, watching my son pull at my pants in fear at our lashing out, that look he gave me, haunts me to this day. It was the beginning of the end, even before she turned to outright violence.

I am sort of surprised, but absolutely shouldn’t be. I knew upon posting a project on instagram and hearing my son ask me about it (though he had never seen it himself). I left Facebook for the very same reason: Stalking.

So, a special someone has been reading my blog. She has been very quiet about it, right up until I put the truth out there. Now, she is asking the court for a gag order against me. She doesn’t like being exposed, you know?

Next week, we will be going to court for modification of parenting time, because seeing my son every weekend is just absurd according to the gender biased status quo. Ever since the very beginning, she has been pushing for every other weekend. She took me to court a few years ago to try to get it and failed miserably after I brought forth some emails she sent. I have more to bring this time around, and I expect more of the same.

I’m glad there’s all this awareness being raised around bullying. However, there seems to be some vagueness about who that bully is or what harm they actually do. There’s a Hollywood romantic idea about a yellow eyed punk and his only friend chasing and picking on you on the way to and from school everyday. However, it has been my unfortunate experience that bullies are often the ones closest to you. They are the ones that go out of their way to upset you, to vicariously gain from you, who seem to have no motivation or focus in life other than having a problem (mostly with you). Bullies often know full well they are being so in their actions and, especially as adults, are not about to be so obvious about it. Bullies tend to be the ones to bring up a problem they have with someone to everyone except that person. They can be positively identified the moment they utter something along the lines of, “After all I’ve done for you!” It has also been my experience that bullying in the adult form almost always brings with it alcoholism, which is where the real sinister side comes out as the abusive drunkard. And please note that this is absolutely gender neutral! Bullying is by no means restricted to physical harm. It can come in the form of put downs, threats, triangulation between friends and family members, stalking, and really anything that knowingly and intentionally causes another distress. Even going to court repeatedly has been proven to be a form of harassment. Making blatantly false accusations behind a veil of anonymity to cause someone to be investigated by the authorities repeatedly?

There is simply no limit to how far a bully will go just for the entertainment of making another person miserable. Is there, Meagan Theresa Margaret Jones from Perth?

With that said, I don’t care if the court does rule against my inalienable right to free speech in this matter. Someone is going to hear about it until I feel like I’m being listened to. Until fathers get the gender neutral treatment the judicial system swears up and down every hallway they are entitled to. Until there is a branch of local government enforcing parenting time with the fervor that child support is enforced. Until fathers stop getting 4 days per month with their kids by default. Until divorcee mothers stop beating the dad to death and calling it his fault, I’m going to write for the world.

Affecting Change

I was all of 20 years old when a promotion put me in the leadership category. Major Payne has military leadership boiled down properly: “If they win … it’ll be because you had led them to a victory. If they lose, it’ll be because you failed them.”

On one hand, that kind of ownership for outcome is the kind of thing that makes a leader. On the other hand, when you’re in charge of a team that doesn’t care about the objective, it just causes a lot of grief.

My partner and I are coming up to 4 years together, and I have to say it’s been damn difficult to lead the family to any kind of victory. My frustration comes about because I’ve had the pleasure of leading some fine warriors to victory and I’ve had the pleasure of leading amazingly brilliant students to high grades. This family has only been sinking slowly for the last 3 years. So, why keep on?

Well, I guess it’s ultimately because my family is focused on staying a family. I suspect that my partner’s little girl is not on board and rather wishes she could drive the wedge between her mother and I, but I can’t just change her heart. Strangely enough though, that little powder keg is a central character in this whole play.

First off, my son suffers from living a split life where his mother’s main squeeze has an older son who is not terribly interested in him. Despite that girl’s challenging attitude to adults, my son and her do get along very well. Not to say there aren’t spats, just that they are few and pretty mild these days. Her whole week she sits in her room and struggles to entertain herself until he gets to join us. From there, it’s almost impossible to separate them. I value my parenting time, but I also know my son values having a sibling with his dad’s time.

In a few deep and meaningful discussions with my partner, I have brought to light that some of the struggles we have raising her little girl are reminiscent of the things that made me divorce my son’s mother. To accuse your partner’s child of exhibiting the same behaviors that made you dissolve your marriage is a big deal. Not surprisingly, she took it very offensively. (We all want open, honest communication up to the point that we don’t like what’s being said, right?) In any case, my blunt force honesty came through as it inevitably does. Now, not only am I still frustrated that I have two explosively emotional and controlling people in my life, both of those girls’ mothers seem to think I’m out of line for calling it a problem. It’s challenging having a spirited child that is simply not dissuaded by consequences and picky about incentives. It’s even more so when those people who are most influential in these girls’ lives do not hold them to a higher standard of behavior. Ultimately, I find myself to be the one throwing the flag and calling misconduct the most. Sometimes I’m overruled, sometimes I’m seconded, sometimes I have to be the one to tangle in with the offender and handle the situation myself. It’s tough. Nobody ever taught me how to have a good relationship with the opposite sex, much less how to deal with really strong willed ones!

I’ve mentioned before that I always have my camera rolling when I exchange my son. It’s not for if shit goes down, it’s for when shit goes down. I won’t lie, it’s been a whole year since the last altercation and I sort of get tired of having to point a camera at baby’s momma for every peaceful exchange. Then, this week it happened. She sent me an email the night before that sounded tense and pushy. Believe it or not, I’ve been busy, so potentially sparking an email argument was not at the top of my list. I started to respond so as to hopefully cool the situation, but it never made it past a draft before we were rolling up to her car. She brought my son out, gave me a series of, “You stop talking” and “You listen here. ” I was listening and trying to tell her that everything she was upset about hadn’t at all happened. She kept being pushy and got louder after I told her again that nothing she was upset about had happened, that she was getting upset over literally nothing at all. She went from pushy to yelling. Our son ran to the car to get away from the conflict. I pointed out that I wasn’t yelling and there was no need for it. Predictably, she yelled back even more. I held my phone up to her face and pursed my lips to express my disengaging from the fight. She continued and my partner announced that she was calling 911. (We have found the police in our area are on the scene in less than a minute! 💪) At that point, the situation started to calm down. The call wasn’t placed, the yelling subsided, and she handed over my son with a goodbye hug.

At the end of it, my partner said, “God! That was just like my child’s fucking temper tantrums!” Well, no kidding!

The thing is, it’s been a tough year of changing for all of us. I have had to put pressure on my partner and both children to break some of the cycles we were stuck in. I’m not used to gently pushing people in the right direction, nor am I used to talking down an emotional explosion. The fact that I was able to de-escalate my ex in a few minutes is something I never expected I would be able to do. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have come to that ability if not for that spirited little girl. I guess we have all given each other a motive force to change over the years.

Paging Dr Quack

Prescribe me another dose of your sage advice

It was after 5pm that I ate a clementine and realized I only put two coffees in my belly the whole day. Everything else having been a tornado, we took advantage of the kids’ eyeballs glued to a screen and went to the store for some burger meat and buns. My partner has been wary of greasy food, so we chose a delicious looking pack of extra lean ground beef. We were both starving, but the kids came first. Then we made two big burgers for ourselves. We were so hungry, we hovered over the pan asking each other if we thought they were cooked enough yet. Finally, we called it good and threw them on the buns. I took a couple of big bites and studied the redness as I tried to spend enough time chewing to taste it. Admittedly, my brain said, “umm ” but my tongue said, “om nom!” All of my close friends have at least one account of seeing me eat something absolutely expired, so I try to remember to get an okay from someone before wolfing something down. This time, though, my girl looked at me after one bite and said, “I don’t care, I’m eating it!” As we ate, I told her that completely raw ground beef is a culinary specialty in some parts of the world, being served with raw egg and garnished with chives. She reminded me that her brother swore by two raw eggs a day to benefit his workout routine. Her dad walked up to us in the middle of chowing down and was horrified by the scene. He gave her a fairly fired up lecture on how we were going to get sick and blamed us for being bad parents for putting our children at such risk. I looked at her after he walked away and said, “raw eggs, right?” We gave each other the look and finished our raw ass red meat sandwiches.

I guess the first thing to clear up about the bug bombs was explaining to my son that the place was not getting blown to smithereens!

The second thing was to ascertain for absolute certain what substances were being blown into and onto our living quarters. The directions boast that it kills on contact and keeps working for weeks afterward, but it’s perfectly safe to stroll back into your gas chamber home after 2 brief hours. Oh, and they just happen to forget to tell you that the propellant is not the only volatile gas being released.

My partner visited the neighbor lady, a sweet old, free spirited hippie with a yard full of exotic trees, berries, and apothecary herbs. Well, she had all kinds of things to say about the bug bombing. That we should protest them using it, that we should make them pay for a motel room, that it’s just going to be the end of our health forever. She kept my partner and kids late into the evening telling her about how intolerable the notion was. Given another complex tenant’s stories, I’m just glad they took any action at all! And, honestly, I know they transmit diseases, but I’ll take cockroaches over brown recluse, black widow, or redback spiders any day! Same for those several dozen species of scorpions that will kill you because no treatment exists to neutralize the toxins.

Anyway, as the saying goes, the only things that can survive a nuclear holocaust are Volkswagens and cockroaches. It’s been thoroughly tested and proven that they can even develop a resistance to bug bombs after repeated applications. I even spotted a cranefly flitting around the window as I opened up the place to air out, so…yeah.

Nonetheless, the lady sent them home with a jar of Borax and a jar of diatomaceous earth. She adamantly defended the use of such as being perfectly safe for people. Why? Because her father (this lady is older than most of the trees in Tillamook Forest, we found out) used to flush his eyeballs with borax to neutralize the irritating smoke after fighting fires. As for the diatom’ earth, in case you don’t keep up on the hippie shit trends, people swear by drinking it to treat, like, everything that’s possibly wrong with you. It is also used against insects with the belief they will die from microscopic lacerations. Yet, I have never seen the stuff even deter ants or have any measurable effect against soft bodied larvae.

For fuck’s sake, people!! Never in human history has such a mass of collected knowledge been so freely available and accessible.

Labels are made to sell, not warn you against using the product!

Read the MSDS!

Read the peer reviewed studies!

Read all 537 pages of the prescription drug disclosures!

Then, when you can break out the molecule set with me (yes, I actually have one) and split hairs on the difference between Borax and boric acid, when you can explain specifically how plankton skeletons benefit your digestive tract, and when restaurants stop cooking your beef to your preferred temperature, I will consider your advice on what to put in and on my body!