Saturday, July 2, 2016

Unforseen Perils of Night Shifting

I've been on straight nights for over a year now. The initial problems were more to do with diet than anything, honestly. I could shove down enough caffeine, sugar, and b12 to stay awake, and I figured out how to sleep during the day, but I had a lot of trouble eating right. I'm... better, not great but better about that now.

One side effect that I didn't foresee was the schedule enforced hermitage becoming somewhat my idea.

Back before college, while I was working road construction, a friend and I went dancing at one of the bars in the town north of here every Thursday night. It was the highlight of our week, and it was a blast. I still remember it being a nearly obscene amount of fun to go there and dance amongst as many people as could pack into the tiny bar.

Now, the thought of doing that gives me a mild case of the willies. Hell, at work I occasionally get claustrophobic and cranky when there are too many people in my fish bowl, though it is a tiny room and six people in it is way too much. Add in my dislike for having people hovering behind me and I start to get a little twitchy.

I've come to realize fairly recently that I've got a bit of social anxiety now that I didn't used to have. I was never the life of the party, and I was always sort of nervous around new people but I had learned how to stomp on that and be friendly, meet new people, be sort of gregarious. Pretty sure I've lost most of that, in purely social situations.

I'm not running in panic from the idea of meeting new people or being in a place where there are more than five people present, or anything. I just... get tense. I realized not long ago that I recognized the feeling I was having when meeting more than one new person, especially off of "my" territory, and it was that dumb junior high "but if I open my mouth they'll know I'm a dork" feeling.

Even Blogorado, thinking back. I love my tribe, of course, but I couldn't stay in the house for very long if there were many people inside. I'd be in there and visit with people a bit and then I'd go out to the shop, where there was room to breathe... and I'd relax.

It isn't an anxiety attack, or anything close to that severe, it's just a tension and a low level but constant desire to go back to my nice safe cave. When I actually do something social, if there are more people there than I expected, I want to call the whole thing off and go home.

I know what's caused the uptick, I think. I'm pretty sure it's just sensitization from not being social very much. Which is easy enough to fix if I can manage to make it work with a few friends that are still local, and don't get screwed up by being the one who's working when I'm not.

I'm taking an unexpected vacation next week. Nothing bad, just it was pointed out to me that my vacation hours were maxed and strongly suggested that I take some time so that I wasn't *not* earning vacation, and it happened to fit into the schedule for next week. It's one of my short weeks and if I'm gonna take time off I'd rather kill one of the four day weeks but such is life. I didn't have any plans though, so I'm gonna try to get a few projects accomplished, do some day walking and soak up some sun, and maybe get some social time in, with bonus points if I manage to convince a friend to haul his boat up to the lake so I can get social, water, and sun time all at once. And I'll work on the whole being social thing, as I can, because I'd rather work on it now than wait until the hermitude is much worse.

Now that I think about it, I really need to get my fishing license for this year. Haven't even managed to go fishing yet this year, which is a tragedy, but one I can remedy.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

He Did It Again

By now, all of you who still bother to check back in here probably know about the passing of Gay Cynic. I haven't talked much about it anywhere, because I just can't find the words.

The last few years we've lost entirely too many people we care about, in this neck of the woods, and I think I just ran out of ways to say that I'm sad and I miss them.

Tonight, though, I went on a wander through blog archives, which reminded me of a story about friends, and I wasn't sure if I had ever told it before... so I went digging in my own archives to see if I had. Of course, me being me, it wound up being more of a sentimental trip than I had originally intended... but I tripped over a comment that Ray left on a post back in 2010 during another spate of losses.

See, in amongst the quirky wit and the flamboyant style, Ray had a very definite knack for being able to say the right thing, at the right time. It happened then, and reading his words this early morning in the Long Dark Tea Time of the soul made it hit me all over again how lucky I was to get to know him, and how much of a blank spot he's left in the lives of so very many people.

Since I can't say it any better, I'll let Ray say it again:

"That some folks pass through our lives all too briefly is one of the rougher things we face...and sometimes its hard to remember the joy and wisdom they brought in the sorrow of their final passage." - Ray Carter, aka Gay_Cynic

Truth. Hard as it is, I promise I'll try to remember the joy, Ray, and wherever you are I hope they appreciate what they've got now, because it is definitely a loss for the rest of us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Adventures In Air Travel

So, Darlin Man and I have created a bit of tradition by managing to spend New Year's Eve together, usually at the home of friends. This year, it didn't look like he was going to be able to get the time off, so I was kind of bummed. Then Farmmom stepped in and decided that my Christmas present this year would be a ticket to go see him instead, so that's what I've been doing for the last week.

This isn't a post about that trip, though. Or, not all of it. Just the return leg, and the interesting people I got to encounter on it.

My flight was out of Birmingham, to Amarillo, with a brief layover in Houston. So I show up at the Birmingham airport needing to check my bag. I was already checked in thanks to the wonders of living in the future, I'd done it on my phone earlier that day, and gotten my seat assignment on the tiny plane changed to one of the onesies seats on the left side of the plane, too. That will become important later.

So, I walk on up to the counter and there's no line, which is a nice change from the outbound trip, and the gentleman behind the counter asks me "You're not from around here are you?"

What gave it away? The lack of an Alabama Drawl, the fact that I'm not wearing any red whatsoever or the fact that my bag already had a sticker on it from the outbound flight?

Anyway, he's being chatty and we're waiting for the machines to do their thing, and he's making small talk. You know, the obvious questions: Where ya headed, What brings you to Alabama, etc etc.

During the course of this conversation he pops out with "So, you want a boyfriend in Alabama? I'm single, he he he."

Nawwww, really? No way.

I steer the conversation away from that field since he's got control of my bag already and I'd like for it to end up in the same spot as me. When he asks me what I do, I tell him I'm a dispatcher for the Sheriff's Office.

"Oh, really? What's the worst call you've gotten?" Ugh. So I tell him the most annoying calls are actually the non emergency ones, trying to move on from the "I'm a complete stranger TELL ME YOUR TRAUMA" question, and toss out a brief funny story about a lady who called 911 four times trying to get me to fix her phone because it would only dial 911 (failing to pay your bill will do that) or call her family to fix it.

"Oh, yeah, I bet that's annoying, but what's the worst call you've gotten?"

Grrrr. I said something to make him leave it the hell alone and started tapping my fingers on his counter.

"Well, for me, (I was in the military, you know) the worst stuff was always kids. I still wake up in the night sometimes." Yes, you could hear the parentheses in his speech, though at the end of the conversation I was pretty sure he couldn't have spelled parenthesis.

"Oh, yeah, it's a shame there's such a stigma in our armed forces, and EMS and Law, too, about seeking help for mental issues."

"Well, I was Special Forces, so I can't just walk up to you and ask for help, you know. Top Secret, and all that."

"Well, I'm not a mental health professional, so that's probably a good thing. Oh hey I think it's finally spitting out my boarding passes, so you can help this nice lady over here."

"Your flight isn't for another hour and a half, so you don't need to be in a hurry!"

"But I want to be. Better safe than sorry, and all that. Have a nice day."

I was texting Darlin Man about it once I got through security and secured myself a coffee and a cinnamon twist. He replied "Tell me you got a picture." Of course I didn't get a picture, I was too busy trying to get away from the guy before he asked to take me away from it all to his palatial swamp shack.

I'm pretty sure this dude's military career, if any, could have been filmed and marketed as Earnest Goes to Bootcamp... He didn't even tell me a branch, just "I was in the military."

I know several people who were actually in the military, and some who are. For the most part, probably thanks to the rivalries between the branches, they will tell you what branch they were in when it comes up. In certain cases, MOS trumps branch, they might tell you they were EOD instead of telling you a branch. And I know people who's job in the military actually was "go kill that guy/destroy this shit and then get out." Those people don't bring that up in casual conversation with strangers, generally.

Anyway. I got away from Earnest Joins The Special Forces, and got on the plane, only to discover that my flight attendant was an older lady who had a profusion of bone white hair, with a sort of Halloween wig that you've taken off and put on too many times kind of frizziness to it. Which, fine, you do you, but she was not prepared to take any shit off of anyone. Some guy in the first couple rows was messing with his phone during the safety lecture and she waved her little brochure in front of his face, and then she physically sat another guy up in his seat so that his seat back would be in the upright and locked position for take off.

I kept my knees and elbows tucked when she came by with the drink cart, and made sure to be very polite.

In Houston I was left to myself during my hour and small change layover, but once my flight was called and I lined up to board I found myself with a young man (early twenties maybe?) velcroed to my backpack. I mean he was "Can I smell your hair?" close. I shifted around a bit, but he was always right there, so I resigned myself to being uncomfortable because we're all in line and want to be on our way, and got on the damn plane.

This is the flight that I'd changed my seat assignment to one of the onesies seats on the left side of the plane, and if you'll remember I said it would come up later. I just casually noticed while I was stowing my crap for take off that the young man was roughly in the area where I remembered my previous seating assignment being. It wasn't important yet, but an hour and twenty minutes later after we landed, it sort of became that way.

See, I got off the plane and hit the bathroom, dug out my keys so that I could get my car, put my sweatshirt back on under my coat because it was fifty in Houston and twenty in Amarillo (grumble) and went to get my bags. Halfway to baggage claim, I realize that too-close-kid is behind me again.

At the carousel he positions himself behind me and to my left, so I move. And he follows. We did this dance three times before I said fuck it and turned sideways to the carousel and stared at him until bags started coming.

I was *really* tempted to yank my bag off the conveyer and onto his foot.

Did I have "Be creepy and weird" tattooed on my forehead when I wasn't looking?

Side note: on the last leg, they advised us that our Captain was named Morgan, and I'm pretty sure he had a bet on with the crew as to how many passengers he could make puke... he did quite a bit of the gain altitude, then level off quick for that fast elevator floaty feeling, and waggled the wings (at what I don't know, passing owls maybe) and managed to come in beautifully for landing, and drop the last foot or so like a rock... Like I said, I'm pretty sure he had a bet riding on how many folks he could make puke.