Well, we changed sleeping arrangements around again to accommodate parties most sensitive to smoke, temperature, noise, light, and comfort.  I’m still out back on the cot.  I’m basically a damned ol’ cowboy by now, sleeping with my head on a boot.

Guess what I was doing last year at this time?  Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta hadn’t started yet but it may as well have, with the extra traffic and visitors and balloons everywhere in the sky each morning.  They only fly early because the temperature differential between the hot gas and ambient air needs to be maximized for lift, I think.  So getting the two miles to work each morning was becoming a pre-dawn trafficky struggle, as our campus was directly across the street from Balloon Fiesta Park (in fact that’s where we typically held range maneuvers at other times of the year, and then moved to our big parking lot during the Fiesta) and then it was rather cold for the first several hours of coaching students.

I obviously get that the balloons are aesthetically appealing, but I didn’t share the same fervor felt by others.  By the end, I wondered if was missing an actual chromosome about it.  If I had been given the choice to mash a big red button that would make all the extra traffic disappear, and the wait times and congestion and frankly scary crash landings backing range while we were trying to work, but it would also erase all the beautiful balloons in the sky…I wouldn’t have hesitated long, let’s just say.

Gah, how crazy.  To have gotten an entire life reinvention going — new relationship, new state, new town, new house, new job, new income, (new annual balloon event lol ugh), all within that same calendar year — and to have no idea the whole thing will fall apart in every way a thing can fall apart, on literally every dimension, within five months.  I just feel grateful.  It was all good; good enough that I wouldn’t have changed it myself, but it’s nothing compared to what I’m onto now, damned ol’ cowboy folding cot aside.  People in the world are working so, so hard, to live in not even that cool of a place, and I’m not one of them.  But I was.

You wanna know something funny?  I was a truck driving instructor, in the trade school part of the college, but an Associate Dean position opened up that I applied for.  I had all the educational and experience specs, I’d managed a truck school campus before, and it was a bangin’ salary.  I didn’t really care one way or the other if I got it, because I honestly liked working with the students hands-on (just not in the cold), but you know the main reason I tried?  I thought: I bet I could write every day.  I bet I would have an office and there would be some point, every morning, where I could close the door and carve out time to write.  That’s just huge to me, and I absolutely didn’t have it with the instructor job.  I didn’t even have a moment to be introspective, period.  It was just 100 miles an hour (not literally) with student after student, from 6am to 2pm.  I came home fuckin wrecked, non-verbal, worn out.  Not able to write.

I made it the the final round of interviews, actually, and then they had to push pause on their timeline for the hire, so technically I didn’t *not* get the job — no one got the job.  Again, I just feel grateful.  Look at me now — chillin in my bright blue Walmart sweatpants at a fire camp, writing like I’m gettin’ paid for it.  This is the actual whole point for me.

I wasn’t happy with my performance in the first round of interviews, looking back.  I was too eager.  I was eager about getting a job I knew I could be good at but also have some degree of plausible deniability as a secret writer on someone else’s dime, frankly.  I think eagerness is an emotion that should just be eliminated from the adult occupational vocabulary altogether; it has no place.  And I say that as someone who’s done it too many times.  I mean, what’s there to be eager about?  It’s work.  Be interested.  Be conditionally willing, sure.  Be clear about what you’ll offer in the transaction.  But eager?  Hm.  Interviews are almost more like dating than dating.

Anyway, it all worked out for the best, if the best involves…you know, the destruction of the entire country’s economic and social contract, and intimations of some end-game climax wherein millions of us, if not billions, represent little more than expendable pawns.  A dangerous game of cat and mouse, as the movie trailer narrators always say, where the hunger becomes the hunted.  The slinger becomes the slung — that’s my 2020 update.

I made a really great conservative girlfriend on this fire!  Handwash Julie.  I was teasing her the other day, sitting in her adorable old-but-mint motorhome, at the kitchen table — she’s not a very circumspect person but was her brand of circumspect around me, learning initially I’m from Flagstaff and used to teach English at the university.

“You assumed I was drinking retard juice,” I accused her.

“I thought you were probably drinking the retard juice,” she admitted.  I was also having a bad day, when she met me, but all that and more is fun to talk about.  I hope we stay in touch, and I hope she visits us in Hawaii.

It’s crazy to watch interviews of people out protesting things on college campuses — the only students who can clearly outline not only their own perspectives but also those of their political opponents are conservatives, who are often immigrants.  I watched a fantastic talk by Heather MacDonald on the Diversity Delusion in universities, yesterday, penetrating even into the STEM fields were we actually need things like pharmacology exams to remain fact-based — highly recommended.  There’s literally no end to what self-absorbed narcissists can be coddled into feeling unsafe about.  Also her talk The War on Cops, which was back in 2016 so no wonder she’s emerged as one of the preeminent voices of reason now — she was already on it, post-Ferguson.  The exact style of pro-active policing revolution that tanked the crime rate in inner cities and saved 10,000 black lives per year, statistically translated, in the early 20-teens, is what we’re dismantling, defunding, and making altogether impossible, now.

The first presidential debate was last night, and things got really social here so I missed it all.  I absorbed some reactions from my circle of actual friends and family, and also ambient social media.  Sounds like it was a shit show, spawning some great memes as a silver lining.  Under normal circumstances, moderator bias would be notable, but these days it’s just run of the mill.  Probably most of us have made our political beds and will lie in them, by this point, or have made up our minds and will lie in those.  Whatever.

I am still angry about being dismissed a racist by my friends-of-decades, for the crime of caring about a truckdriver dragged from his vehicle and beaten.  I’m still angry about that.  Actual racism is abhorrent; and the more we dilute and diminish the term to encompass [everyone doing everything], the less clearly we can track actual racism, actual discrimination, and actual bigotry.  And when we can’t track that or think clearly about it, we’ve all lost — everything.  Everything that matters, the entire collective moral compass.  The entire discussion.  Something like this has never happened to me in my life, close up and personal.

The Onion hasn’t been as funny as usual, lately, probably because the actual fake news is even funnier, but they did have a good zinger headline a while back: Nuanced Political Opinion Whispered To Trusted Friend.

Anyway, back to navel-gazing — I am so glad I figured out a way to write on the clock daily, even if it took the end of the world to get here.  Having carved out the freedom to spend some time developing my own ideas as they come, just for the fun of it, feels like mental zero-gravity.  And honestly, as the social stakes have risen on admitting to the “wrong” set of perspectives, in this runaway inflation economy of what perspectives can still be “right”, which is of course a crumbling edifice, it’s actually liberating.  Several years ago, or — goddamn — even a year ago, I might have — no, definitely would have — felt some degree of internal pressure to moderate, soften, mitigate, and excuse my stronger sensibilities, knowing they were out of step with the woke-est possible thinking.  Now, there’s literally no way I can be acceptable, not even a little.  I mean, I’m not even the right race or cisgender to have the right to think anything at all.  There’s no reason not to call a spade a spade, now, and die on whatever hill I please.  I’ve honestly never felt so free, so zero-G, so totally me.  I might still be drinking some form of retard kombucha but at least it’s my own recipe.  I mean, how is anyone supposed to figure out how to think anything clearly, in such a thought-police environment?  Thank god I’m not still teaching university English.  I’d be wasted, emotionally and professionally.

My dad is very wise, but also a catastrophizer.  Nick and my dad had their first visit with the real estate agent yesterday — we’ve decided to put our house on the market after all, this Hawaii train is leaving the station for reals — and my dad leads with not only everything that’s wrong, but even worst case hypotheses for things that aren’t wrong, but could be.  Nick was making violent “wrap it up”, throat cutting gestures, to no avail.  I mean, of course the agent needs to know the pros and cons, but holy shit, Dad.  And if I would have thought about it for even a second, I would have accurately predicted that very outcome, but I didn’t think about it, because I was too busy yesterday morning navel-gaze blogging about the real difference between heteronormative and queer relationship paradigms.  What was I thinking??  It was a real oration.  I asked Nick if he thought we should start over with a whole new agent, but he thinks it’s salvageable.  In this market, he’s probably right.  The funniest part is, my dad loves that house to the moon.  He’s put so much work into it, improving it in every aspect, and of course my brother and I put massive time and money into its remodel back in 2012.  It’s a gorgeous, comfortable house, in a very desirable city.

Nick and I had a real ding-dong moment yesterday, where we became so anxious about our dogs’ rabies titer test results we forgot to look at the decimals.  They both came back >4.56 iu/ml, and Hawaii customs requires >.5 iu/ml, and we were like “omg the number’s too low!”  Then we realized where the decimal was and Nick goes, “oh never mind — our dogs have so much rabies titer in their blood, they essentially have rabies.”  He’s been back for over a week now, and working on finalizing the veterinary customs immigration packet for literally hours per day, which is like air traffic controlling a whole bunch of entities and paperwork in different time zones.  Everyone involved can do their job almost right, but no one can do their job totally right, and the whole thing has to be totally right.  They listed Nick as Buffy’s owner instead of me, for instance, on the titer results, and this is the one with the 4-6 week turnaround that he had to drive six hours and pay $900 to get going, on our last fire, so we didn’t run out of time, and yep — names are wrong.  Unbelievable.  And it’s been like that everywhere.  Milo’s vet got the certificates in the mail promptly, but they were the wrong certificates.  Buffy’s vet sent the right certificates but didn’t get them in the mail promptly.  Buffy’s other vet won’t list her microchip number on the other certificates because she didn’t have a chip at the time, which I understand but I don’t think it would kill them to just add it in the notes for fuck’s sake.  There are only two vets on the Big Island who can arrange to meet us at the airport to examine our dogs, and the first vet was such a piece of shit runaround that we wasted almost an entire week trying to coordinate with them.  The second vet is the only other option, so Nick’s restraining himself from writing the Yelp review in his heart, pending the cooperation of the other vet, which is so far going okay.  No one can get back to him when the say they will.  He messaged me that today is finally the day that he can overnight the whole packet plus money orders, meaning we can finally buy our tickets, meaning we can finally reverse engineer the rest of the timeline, meaning I can finally give my employers a real-life update on my travel needs and availability if this fire keeps us on, meaning we can finally cobble together our last-minute plans to get Nick his Class A CDL in Arizona, where I have connections, rather than moving and having no CDL connections in Hawaii, meaning we’ll both have the ultimate occupational life hack when we get there, if needed.  It was literally all contingent upon this vet stuff, which really is very complicated.

The most ironic part of all is that this agonizing swirl of governmental red tape and expense centers around the uninterrupted well being of two innocently oblivious bugaboos, who are just full time ridiculous.  Tiny white Buffy just collapses around the house all day, not because she’s disabled but because being obsequious is her brand of flex, and she looks sideways at you when you stop petting her and pretends like she can’t breathe, and then can magically breathe again when you move your hand, or even your elbow, back onto her body.  Her little legs haven’t been quite right since I found her, honestly, maybe they were broken in infancy or something, and she gets around great but has this funny little jalopy gait.  I was reminiscing over pictures on my phone of her, yesterday, through the years, and there was one time in Tucson where I grew her hair out long enough to have a little top knot ponytail with a fancy pink bow.  I had found a furry white rug at Ross for my casita, and Buffy never got off of it, from the moment I placed it in our living room.  She was like ‘this rug is my forever home’.  We felt pretty fancy.

I’ve held her and snuggled her so much through the years, and walked her and slept next to her and run from one airport gate to the next with her, flown on airplanes with her, waited at baggage carousels with her, and driven in trucks and cars and buses with her, and checked into and out of hotels with her, and visited so many people with her, and Uber’d with her to warehouses and auto manufacturers and truck dealerships and family’s houses and apartments, at all hours of the day and night, and I’ve been on so many fires with her, and we’ve driven around in that fuel truck and criss-crossed all over the United States, and done hell rides together, with truck swaps halfway through, and totally illegal hours and creative log books, I’ve gotten pulled over with her, and run through the scales with her, and she’s toddled in and out of so many truck stops with me, and across so many parking lots, I’ve smuggled her in an out of restaurants and diners and ski lifts and boats, and we’ve camped in tents and fields and slept in our vehicle in parking lots and Walmarts and rest stops.  She’s curled up next to me while journaling and writing, and I’ve put on her pajamas when she’s cold and taken them off when she’s hot, and I’ve bathed her in baths and showers and truck stop sinks and public fountains and campground spigots.  We’ve walked miles and miles together, in forests and deserts and neighborhoods.  I’ve taken her to brandy tasting and wine tasting events, downtown Art Walk, gigs where she curls up behind my amp, gyms where she curls up in my gym bag.  She’s been down the east coast on Amtrak, she’s walked the beaches of both coasts, we’ve huddled in my tent during rainstorms that lasted all night and thunderstorms that shook the ground.  I haven’t ever taken her shooting, because that would scare her.  She’s totally non responsive to the 4th of July, and frankly unresponsive to a lot of things because it’s all just same shit different day to her — she’s traveled this country and done more things and been more places than most adult humans.  What she really likes is to sit in the sun, and then move into the shade, and then move back out in to the sun.  Various collapsings in various places.  She really cares about being the right temperature, which is how I know she’s my soul dog.  She’s so tiny, but her butt is somehow so big.  She looks like she’s wearing a full diaper, like a toddler, but it’s just her butt.  She looks like a pitiful chihuahua when she’s trimmed down and like a fancy rich person’s dog when she’s grown out and groomed luxuriously.  It’s always a shock, how tiny she is.  I’ve been hanging out with her for almost six years and every day I’m like, ‘how are you so small??’  She won’t look at things she doesn’t want and won’t stop looking at things she does want.  She has almost no bodily functions — it’s a real effort to get her to express interest in either input or output.  She’ll lay in front of a space heater for 16 hours at a time, if you let her.  She’ll bark at the mailman without ever leaving the space heater.  She’ll sleep all the way to San Francisco and then act exhausted when we get there.  She won’t eat food if you put it too close to her, even if it’s her favorite.  She loves muffins and outdoor cafes and pigeons.  She’s scared of the nail salon until she realizes the pedicure foot bath isn’t for her.  She doesn’t care about cows at all.  She inspects everyone else’s front porch and is full blown triggered if any other dog inspect ours.  She likes blankets that are white more than blankets that are a dark color.  She’ll lay on the softest thing in the room — if there’s a stack of two pillows and a stack of three pillows, she toddles up the the taller stack with her full combat diaper.  She’s incredibly physically awkward, and cyclones if you put her down at an angle.  She did pet therapy with me and will conscientiously go up to every single person in a room, in turn, and make sure they all get a chance to pet her.  She hangs her head down to be petted, like a wilted daisy, only lifting her gaze by an accusatory fraction when it stops.  She’s therapized more people than even knew they needed therapy.  She banishes every social pretense and transforms everyone into an admiring friend.

It’s impossible to think of life without her, or some type of extended quarantine in customs.  I’m definitely not the momma she deserves, but I try to be alright.  She’s literally gotten me jobs and advantages.  I roll in with Buffy and they roll out the red carpet.  No one can stand it — it’s too unbelievable, like an anime.  I don’t even look to see if she follows me when I get up and walk across the office or warehouse or parking lot or campus — she’s right there, toddling along.  No leash, no confusion, just me and Buffy moving through the world like we own it.  She loves grass, it’s a drug to her.  She rolls and thrashes and scoots and luxuriates, in any patch of grass.  It’s unimaginable to have found a friend like her, my own little piece of god.

And then of course there’s our conditional adoption of Milo :). The single greatest event in the history of the world, according to my dad.  Milo is the one who gets all the attention, these days.  People walk right past Buffy in her pj’s, on their way to exclaim about Milo.  He definitely warrants the attention, as an apparently microscopic lion/fox/exotic bird, ready to spring into playful action (unlike some dogs) if you even shuffle your feet too quickly.  He kicks his hind legs straight back like a bull when he’s excited, and stretches his hind legs straight back like a ballet dancer when he’s sleepy, and hops like a cricket more than he walks.  He chases his ball and does a handstand almost every time he catches it, because his entire hindquarters are almost an afterthought on his lion-y little fore-section.  He’s quite the little man, and has dedicated his life to hanging out with Daddy, in the most urgent fashion possible.

So yeah, what a beaurocratic nightmare to wrangle, just to continue our normal lives with these little animals, who are the only non-negotiable factor for us.

Welp, not sure this blog accomplished anything at all, but guess what!  I still loved it!  Time to eat breakfast and interface with this mobile mechanic guy who’s gonna check all my tire pressures — the left rear-axle outside tandem tire looks a little low.  Y’all have a good day.